Blog Archives

The Decline of Small Business = Decline of Basic Skills

An economy where most people work for the state or a global corporation is an economy that has lost its knowledge of the key entrepreneurial building blocks.

The decline of small business has numerous long-term consequences. One is the decline of the middle class, as entrepreneurial enterprise is a key pathway to generational wealth-building and prosperity.

Another is the loss of employment opportunities. As U.S. businesses are being destroyed faster than they’re being created, there are fewer sources of employment.

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The Solution to the Declining Middle Class: Destroy Fixed Costs and Debt

The solution to the erosion of the middle class lifestyle is to destroy debt and other fixed costs and eliminate self-sabotaging discretionary consumption.

Last week I covered the structural dynamics causing the decline of the middle class. In general, the costs of untradable services (healthcare, higher education, government) and the rot of financialization have increased while wages have stagnated. The Federal Reserve’s “solution” was to make everyone who owned a house a speculator who could only keep even with rising costs by riding the asset bubbles higher and then extracting the “free money” generated by these bubbles before they popped.

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The Decline of Small Business and the Middle Class

The only way to not just survive but thrive as an entrepreneurial enterprise is to destroy fixed costs and labor overhead.

It is not coincidental that the middle class and small business are both in decline.Entrepreneurial enterprise and small business have long been stepping stones to middle class incomes and generational wealth, i.e. wealth that is passed down to future generations rather than consumed. As the headwinds to entrepreneurial enterprise and small business rise, the pathway to middle class prosperity narrows.

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How the Middle Class Lifestyle Became Unaffordable

There are four structural drivers behind the soaring costs of the middle class lifestyle.

Why have the costs of a middle class lifestyle soared while income has stagnated?Though it is tempting to finger one ideologically convenient cause or another, there are four structural causes to this long-term trend:

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The Destabilizing Truth: Only the Wealthy Can Afford a Middle Class Lifestyle

The “middle class” has atrophied into the 10% of households just below the top 10%.

The truth is painfully obvious: a middle class lifestyle is unaffordable to all but the top 20%. This reality is destabilizing to the current arrangement, i.e. debt-based consumerism a.k.a. neofeudal state-cartel capitalism, so it is actively suppressed by the officially sanctioned narrative: that middle class status is attainable by almost every household with two earners (a mere $50,000 annual household income makes one middle class) and middle class wealth is increasing.

It’s not that difficult to define a middle class lifestyle: just list what was taken for granted in the postwar era of widespread prosperity circa the 1960s, four decades ago.

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America’s Nine Classes: The New Class Hierarchy

Eight of the nine classes are hidebound by conventions, neofeudal and neocolonial arrangements and a variety of false choices.

There are many ways to slice and dice America’s power/wealth hierarchy. The conventional class structure is divided along the lines of income, i.e. the wealthy, upper middle class, middle class, lower middle class and the poor.

I’ve suggested that a more useful scheme is to view America through the lens not just of income but of political power and state dependency, as a Three-and-a-Half Class Society(October 22, 2012):

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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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