Blog Archives

Fed to the Sharks, Part 2: Housing and the Death of the Middle Class

The Fed sacrificed the foundation of middle class wealth–stable housing values–to boost bank profits.

Lest you think the phrase “death of the middle class” is hyperbole, please examine these two charts, keeping in mind the middle class by definition must be in the middle of income/wealth distribution–conventionally, between 40% and 80%, i.e. the 40% between the bottom 40% and the top 20%.

See that little red wedge? That’s the bottom 80%–the entire middle class and everyone below the middle class.

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Our Two Most Onerous Taxes: College Tuition and Healthcare Insurance

It is not coincidence that these two unofficial taxes–healthcare and college tuition–are soaring in cost, outpacing all other household expenses.

I have long argued that to make an apples-to-apples comparison of real tax rates in the U.S. and other equivalently developed advanced democracies, we have to include two enormous expenses that are funded by the central state in countries such as Denmark and France: healthcare and college tuition/fees.

In The Real-World Middle Class Tax Rate: 75% (July 5, 2012), I estimated that healthcare insurance (if paid out of gross income, as we self-employed workers do) in the U.S. is roughly equivalent to a 15% tax.

Now that the Orwellian-named Affordable Care Act (ACA) is raising costs and deductibles, the true cost of healthcare (a.k.a. sickcare, because being chronically sick is so darned profitable for the cartels) is more like 20% in America.

Correspondent Tim L. (whose daughter is attending a prestigious STEM–science, technology, engineering, math–university) recently called $40-$50,000 per year college tuition what it really is: a tax:

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A Quick Guide to What’s Fake: Everything That’s Officially Sanctioned

Neofeudal financialization and unproductive State/corporate vested interests have bled the middle class dry, yet we accept the officially sanctioned narratives. Why?

Let’s cut to the chase and generalize “what’s fake”: everything that is officially sanctioned: narratives, policies, statistics, you name it–all fake– massaged, packaged, gamed or manipulated to serve the interests of the ruling Elites.

Anything that might introduce a shadow of skepticism or doubt about the sustainability, fairness and transparency of the status quo (i.e. anything authentic and genuine) is recast or repackaged into a fake that can be substituted for the authentic when everyone’s gaze is distracted by the latest fad/media sensation/scandal.

ObamaCare: fake, a simulacrum of insurance and healthcare.

The National Security State: fake, a cover for global Empire.

The Patriot Act: Orwellian cover for state-corporate fascism.

Student loans: parasitic, exploitive loan-sharking enforced by the Central State for often worthless “higher education.”

And so on.

Yesterday I explored the peculiar dynamic that motivates us to accept forgeries, fakes and illusions as authentic: What’s Real? What’s Fake?. If the fake enables our fantasy (of free money, of owning an authentic canvas by a famous artist, that rising wealth inequality is just a side-effect of freewheeling capitalism, etc. etc. etc.), then we want to believe it so badly that we overlook all the evidence of chicanery, forgery, illusion and fakery.

Consider our willingness to accept the conventional narrative about why the Great American Middle Class has been in decline since 1973: rising energy costs, globalization, and the declining purchasing power of the U.S. dollar.

While these trends have certainly undermined middle-class wealth and income, there are five other more politically combustible dynamics at work:

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