There are many definitions of the word insidious but the one I favor is from the Longman dictionary; an insidious change or problem spreads gradually without being noticed and causes serious harm. I believe that is what has happened to the average American family because of the erosion of the American economy. It is hard to define where this erosion began but I will venture an estimate of approximately 1995 with the dot.com bubble and an apparent surge in the economy. It is during this time [22 years] that the wages for average Americans began to flatten out and despite some new business development average American income did not noticeably increase and the insidious erosion of the American life style began.
The average American experienced this insidious erosion of their life style with subtle but important changes in their ability to provide themselves and their children with better education and job opportunities. It is true that because congress passed laws that allowed major corporations to move management off shore they were allowed to avoid taxes and lower their manufacturing costs. In the infamous global market our U.S. off-shore competitors offered much lower manufacturing costs closing our factories and leaving millions of workers without the opportunity for other jobs.
The federal government offered job training, unemployment monies and vast education programs that most cases do not end in jobs once the participants complete their degrees. In essence the feds efforts to urge young people to go to junior or community colleges was a process of parking them for two to four years or more. The “students” hoped that in the years they were parked the economy would change and new jobs would open up and of course they didn’t. It is reasonable to believe that the federal funds for the many of these education programs are a complete waste of money and energy. Add student loans and the fact that both students and their parents are having to pay those burdensome loans back and you have a no-win situation.
The really good jobs are high paying technical jobs that are filled by students from overseas that enter this country via visa or green card programs. Meanwhile our top universities are being occupied by foreign students who upon completion of their advanced education returned to their native countries and key jobs in their local businesses competing directly against U.S. businesses employing average Americans.
Some have suggested that like Germany we should offer training in technical skills and our government response was to underwrite tuition for technical schools in the private sector like truck driving, transmission repairs, medical assistance jobs and similar lower income jobs. The net result is that few people actually got jobs and many states and the federal government lost the monies guaranteed to these private training schools. There were of course the many homes lost during the real estate debacle and those losses occurred mostly among average Americans.
The flat income level caused the average American to put off maintenance like fixing the roof of his/her home, replacing plumbing, buying a new car as opposed to a used one. The average American had to take Social Security benefits as soon as available and at lower pay out rates than if they had been able to wait until they were seventy. While their incomes slowly eroded big ticket items like real estate taxes continue to go up and in many cases Americans had to sell their homes and move to lesser quarters or rent living space at very high rates or contract for reverse mortgages. Let’s not forget the financial effect on the average American from political correctness. Yes, PC has added departments to federal and state government costs to cover PC issues and the average American pays for that in new taxes or government regulations that drive up the cost of living. We are more concerned with LGBT bathroom rights than we are with the education quality at the middle and high school level. PC also contributes to the state of depression or at least lack of hope that exist in this country. But I don’t want to distract from the financial issues by recounting the problems PC causes for the average American financially. As that effective Clinton operative James Carville said “It’s the economy stupid!
The average American has been required to dip into savings, 401 K plan and other retirement funds just to pay day to day bills. Factually more and more Americans have given up looking for jobs because they are being turned down day in and day out. This is happening because there are fewer medium skilled jobs in the country and the only growth in jobs is in the area of highly skilled technical jobs. But who is the average American? For decades, the definition has been middle classed. What is middle class? Pew Research says half of the U.S. population is middle class, in other words 160 million U.S. citizens are middle class. I might be more inclined to use the Financial Samurai definition of middle class income that says “If you make +/- 50% of your city’s household income for your age you are middle class.” Either way these numbers are horrific, 96 million eligible U.S. American citizens are unemployed and not looking for a job.
Meanwhile the federal government has trumped the success [in the last eight years] that the average American is enjoying but of course the average American isn’t seeing the successes the government claims. The automotive category touted by the government as an example of economic recovery engineered by mass bailouts isn’t really rebounding. The costs of doing business has been set by global models of low manufacturing costs, something we will not see change to high wage jobs in this country.
There is an insidious loss of hope and a helpless degree of depression. This is why tens of millions of voters in the 2016 election went with Trump attempting to overcome this insidious erosion of the average American’s economic life. The question is are those Americans who voted correct in believing that Trump can do it?