There is a lie which we continue to live by, repeated by Republicans whenever they get the chance: "We have never been a nation of haves and have-nots. We are a nation of haves and soon-to-haves, of people who have made it and people who will make it. And that's who we need to remain.",
Senator Marco Rubio
. Unfortunately, this is no longer true (if it ever was). More from the Times article:
Researchers have repeatedly found that in the United States, there is now less economic mobility than in Canada or much of Europe. A child born in the bottom quintile of incomes in the United States has only a 4 percent chance of rising to the top quintile.
So, if you are born within the lower 20% of the population in income, your chance of finding yourself among the upper 20% is about 1 out of 25. Those are not good odds. It appears that there are quite a lot of talented people who do not “make it”. And the “upper 20%” cannot hold a candle to the upper 1%, in terms of income. In 2006 the upper 20% of households made $92,000 and up, while the top 1% made $350,000 and up. Note that this was 10 years ago, before the Great Recession – now the gap has increased further. It will be informative what the next Census reports.
This may not be the “Land of Opportunity.” Just about anyone who has lost a job recently can attest to that. The jobs have left our shores. In just one period
, the United States lost 6 million manufacturing jobs between early 2001 and late 2009. Manufacturing jobs are historically among the better-paying jobs. And things have not improved for manufacturing since then. From 2007 to 2015 we lost 15,000 production facilities
and 2 million jobs. In short, this means that those who are working now, if
they are working now, are no longer working at well-paying manufacturing jobs, but instead low-paying retail jobs. And the chance of advancement to much higher pay levels is around 1 out of 25.
What does this mean for our Democracy? Well for starters, a Democracy, at the least, should support its people at a pay level that allows for the basics in life – a place to live, with good health care. But for many of us even those low levels of expectation are not being met. So what are our political leaders doing about it? Well, most Republicans are trying to take us in the wrong direction: No increase in minimum wage, not any minimum wage. Nor any federal provision for general health care. Instead we are fed lies about opportunity, and how a rising tide lifts all boats. But the tide is not rising and “the market” will not provide for all. Instead Republican policies will expose large numbers of Americans to abject poverty and suffering.
But what are Democrats doing to support those out of work or in low paying jobs? They are doing some good things. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka “Obamacare”, is a major step in the right direction. Furthermore, President Obama has pushed to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, and has signed an Executive Order to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for the individuals working on new federal service contracts. Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton support a higher minimum wage, Clinton pushing for a $12 level and Sanders for $15.
But there is some serious trouble on the horizon: President Obama has been successfully pushing forward a number of “free trade agreements” that will likely cost us more jobs. And there are secret provisions in these agreements that will probably increase the costs of medicines. And other provisions even undermine our rights to protect our living environment and ensure workplace safety. Why is he doing such a thing? -That is a question best covered in a whole other essay. But what about the 2016 presidential Democratic candidates positions? Hillary Clinton has hesitated to say much
about it, though has stated without going into details that we must “make sure we get the best strongest deal possible …And if we don’t get it, there should be no deal."
“This is not "free trade." This is the race to the bottom. ...the TPP will lead to the loss of decent-paying jobs and will depress wages.”, and “the TPP would also undermine democracy by giving multi-national corporations the right to challenge any law that could reduce their "expected future profits" through what is known as the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system.“
It is clear that Bernie Sanders defends the American worker against the effects of the TPP, while Hillary Clinton would rather not say. The big question remains – Why would an American President support such a thing as the TPP? Possible answers lie in further exploration of why our democracy is in deep do-do.