Wall Street Boom, Main Street Bust
If ever a stock market milestone is not only meaningless to many people but masks a dark economic reality, it is the Dow Jones Industrial Average hitting the 13,000 mark on Wednesday.
This is because of the enormous disconnect between the boom on Wall Street and the bust on Main Street.
Many people must wonder what the hell the ebullient talking heads on MSNBC and the evening news shows were babbling about. This is because these people are making do with less, sometimes a lot less. Home foreclosures and bankruptcies are soaring, health-care and education costs are going through the roof, and once sacrosanct pension plans are collapsing. The drop in gasoline prices from record highs late last year offered some relief, but have resumed their climb into the stratosphere.
Primarily because we’re are not in the heat of an election campaign (for which I am most thankful), there is virtually no discussion about the lousy state of what I call the kitchen table economy, which has relentlessly headed South over the last six-plus years of a presidential administration that has determinedly cosseted the rich, ignored the poor and robbed the middle class. You know, compassionate conservatism.
One pair of statistics speaks volumes about the disconnect:
The median hourly wage has risen a little less than 10 percent in the last 25 years while productivity has grown by more than 70 percent. And the less you make — if you haven’t been downsized or laid off — the bigger the disparity is.
This makes living the American dream â€“ owning a home, sending the kids to college and having decent health-care insurance â€“ substantially more difficult than it was a generation ago, and for the first time since forever, a majority of Americans donâ€™t believe the next generation will be better off than they are.
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