Reign of Disdain

*- I’d rather talk about this one specific topic rather than how it will affect elections, but Mods feel free to put this in Elections if you believe it should go there
Paul Krugman’s March 18th Op-Ed Piece in the New York Times Republican Elite’s Reign of Disdain points to the true reason for Trump’s success. Namely it is “[the] social collapse in the white working class”. He points to:

He goes on to say personal financial failing has been a mark of low moral character in The GOP’s line for decades, and government assistance is only an enabling force to dependency and sloth. That middle class white people are suffering and are tired of being told they are weak by the GOP is why they are turning to Trump who has no Conservative credentials or plans.

But is the White Middle Class suffering?

Unemployment is at ridiculously low levels

The Average hourly wage has maintained it’s consistent increase since 1970
Put aside Mr. Trump’s belligerence and his outright pandering to jingoistic xenophobic racists. Does Mr. Krugman have a point? Do White Middle Class American’s have it bad and that’s the true reason for Trump’s success?

I would say that the middle class is suffering, the automation we have developed over the last 25 years has erased many careers from existence and screwed an entire generation of the middle class. While the US manufacturing sector is still the largest in the world with ~20% of all the goods made in the world made here in the States, the number of jobs in this sector has been decimated. Assembly jobs, factory jobs, machinist jobs, secretarial jobs, accounting jobs, warehouse jobs; all of these have disappeared to one extent or another due to both technology and automation and globalization. Companies have strived to increase efficiency to the point that the systems are mostly self sustaining and don’t rely on skilled labor except a very small pool of very specialized experts that can fix the computerized mill /inventory system/ billing system/ what have you. Sucks when you have a mortgage and kids to support and put through college.

Have you looked at the number of people on disability? I don’t think that people on disability count toward most calculations of the unemployment rate as they are not in the labor market. As the US government has reduced welfare benefits over the last several decades, more people have gone on disability to compensate. It’s a really stupid side effect of our austerity programs; it is very difficult for people who accept disability payments to get a job if one is available to them, but when there are no jobs it is better to take the payments than starve. Here is a good article on the problem. There are others that have a different spin on Fox News and other sites if you feel like NPR is not fair and balanced.

I think Krugman has a point and we are in the middle of a sea change in our economic system on par with the industrial revolution and the changes in agriculture. At the end of the US civil war about 80% of the population worked in agriculture or supporting those who worked in agriculture. Now, about 150 years later, that number is about 5% and the percentage of the population that lives in urban centers has gone from less than 20% to almost 90%. What this next phase in automation has in store for us will be just as disruptive.

Yes, of course, the white lower-middle and working-classes are suffering.

Death rates for middle-aged Americans rising

Lowest rates of labour force participation since 1970s

It’s as odd for a liberal to deny this fact as it is for him or her to deny say the existence of white privilege.

Um, I don’t think that’s quite fair. Case and Deaton uncovered this only in November of last year. It hasn’t been digested yet.
Recommended PDF: Check out the chart on page 2.

What blows my mind is that nobody reported on this grim development 10 years ago.

Anyway, here’s an excerpt: [INDENT][INDENT]Midlife increases in suicides and drug poisonings have been previously noted. However, that these upward trends were persistent and large enough to drive up all-cause midlife mortality has, to our knowledge, been overlooked. … Concurrent declines in self-reported health, mental health, and ability to work, increased reports of pain, and deteriorating measures of liver function all point to increasing midlife distress. [/INDENT][/INDENT]

Trying to pass off a chart that uses one of the classic “How To Lie With Statistics” tricks this blatantly (vertical axis spanning the range 20.8 to 21.4) is a pee-pee-whacking offense in these parts.

You are mistaken, the opening chart is From Jan 2015 to Jan 2016, click on the MAX button in the top left of the chart to get 1970 to present. I couldn’t link to just the MAX chart or I would have.

Of course inflation needs to be accounted for, and that one chart doesn’t prove White Middle Class is rolling, it’s just a cursory search to find the suffering Mr. Krugman is talking about.

Ok, white middle aged Americans are increasingly dying from drugs and alcohol, that’s the evidence provided by Mr. Krugman. I didn’t dispute it. Is that evidence of the erosion of the Middle Class though?

Your second link is disingenuous. From your link:

Bolding mine. Greater old people to young people ratio = less total percentage participation in the labor market.

From the too links I provided it looks like a great portion of Americans who want jobs have them, and they are being paid reasonably. There most certainly could be other factors at play. This thread’s purpose is to examine them to see if they hold water and prove Mr. Krugman’s case.

There have been threads on this before.

First of all, the OP’s link does not say whether the wage figures were adjusted for inflation. I would guess that they weren’t.

Secondly, this is an area where the “average” is highly misleading. Take a look at this chart.

The mean wage for all occupations is $22.71, but the median wage is $17.09. That’s because there are a few very high-wage jobs that skew the numbers.

But there’s another reason why people are upset and feel like they’re suffering. When you compare the wages that a lot of people are making today to what they were making 15-odd years ago, people instinctively realize that they are no better off, and may be worse off, than they were 15 years ago. Anecdote time–I used to be a cashier at Walmart. I left there 12 years ago, and I left a wage of $8.67. Now, even using a low rate of inflation (2%), $8.67 12 years ago is equivalent to $11 today. But I have never made $11/hour. The most I have ever made in raw dollar terms is $10. In other words, the early 2000’s were the best off financially I have ever been. And I’m very far from the only one in that boat.

And finally–another reason why so many people feel unhappy about financial matters is because the economy took much, much longer to recover this time around than from previous recessions.

Here’s a chart showing how this recovery compares to others. Even though the 1981-82 recession had a higher unemployment rate peak, it recovered much faster.

And here are some more charts.

So please, folks–let us have no more threads wondering why people are upset or afraid about financial matters. I have to keep doing the research that apparently nobody else is willing to do around here. And from the looks of things, my efforts are largely ignored, because threads like this keep popping up. Let’s put this to bed once and for all.

Gee, ya think?

The chart here shows both nominal-dollar (which are clearly the ones from your chart) and inflation-adjusted trends. It clearly shows that the inflation-adjusted hourly earnings have been substantially flat since 1980.