Who’s Behind US Downward-Mobility?

President Trump blames Mexicans, Chinese and other foreigners for the plight of downwardly mobile Americans but the real culprits are his corporatist pals who grab the lion’s share of the wealth from U.S. global dominance, says JP Sottile.

By JP Sottile

Donald Trump kicked-off his presidency with the bold accusation that the “wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.” It was a logical follow-up to a campaign rooted in selling voters on a grand global conspiracy of wily Chinese, cunning Mexicans, lollygagging NATO welfare queens and nefarious “global elites” who’ve gotten fat and rich off of the weakness, stupidity and complicity of American leadership.

Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at Fountain Park in Fountain Hills, Arizona. March 19, 2016. (Flickr Gage Skidmore)

This international cabal of money-making interlopers has, according to the steroidal economic nationalism manufactured by Steve Bannon and peddled by President Trump, systematically denuded the American economy, liquidated American manufacturing, transgressed the Middle Class and wreaked a unique form of “carnage” on unwitting American workers. After he was inaugurated, Trump claimed the tentacles of this global conspiracy to deprive Americans of their economic “birthright” even reached into the world of prescription drugs.

Oddly enough, before he delivered his “American Carnage” speech, Trump campaigned against Big Pharma’s big profits from exorbitantly-priced drugs. He even said they were “getting away with murder.” In response, he promised to impose the type of “bulk buying” that makes drugs so darn cheap in places like Canada, France and the rest of the civilized world. But now that he’s got the Executive Branch under his tiny thumb, Trump now blames a “very unfair” cabal of international bulk-buying crooks who’ve connived to make American consumers pay high prices for drugs … so they can pay far less.

In effect, the world’s bulk buying system is a conspiracy to make Americans pay the high cost of developing the drugs they can then buy in bulk from the pharmaceutical industry at reduced cost. At least, that’s what he told a group of Big Pharma executives when they came to visit him.

That new bulk-buying enemy of the people joins Trump’s list of usual suspects, global gougers and assorted “enemies of the American people.” Public enemy number one is, of course, the horde of job-stealing immigrants who’ve displaced what’s left of America’s depleted employment market. They’ve come to wrest away the cooking jobs, the cleaning jobs, the agricultural jobs, the construction jobs, the landscaping jobs and all the other jobs Americans are apparently denied because countries like Mexico are purposefully sending their people across the border to take advantage of America’s stupidity.

This is the embittered narrative of “America agonistes” that Trump keeps on selling to his supporters. It’s a world in which Uncle Sam is the ultimate mark in a great global game of economic Three-card Monty. It’s a world where the global system of trade deals, capital flows, currency trades, high-speed financial transactions, hydrocarbon extraction and military alliances is, in effect, a giant wealth removal mechanism that specifically targets “real” Americans and forestalls America’s rightful return to greatness. But there is just one problem with Trump’s grand vision. It’s a funny little thing called “reality” and, thanks to this snazzy chart, we can see exactly how far from reality The Donald does not fear to tread:

That’s the world’s economy as tabulated by the World Bank and, thanks to howmuch.net, impressively illustrated into a starkly effective Voronoi diagram. As this breakdown clearly shows, Uncle Sam is not really getting taken to the cleaners by the rest of the world. Far from it, in fact. This World Bank data shows that America’s economy is the “roughly equivalent in size to the total GDPs of #3 through #10 (that’s Japan, Germany, the UK, France, India, Italy, Brazil and Canada – combined).” Although it is true that China is “catching up” with the United States, it is still well-behind America.

Could it be that Trump doesn’t know that America remains the disproportionately wealthy king of the global economic hill? According to this data, “the United States (24.3%) generates almost a quarter of global GDP and is almost 10 percentage points ahead of China (14.8%), in second place, and more than 18 percentage points ahead of Japan (4.5%) on three.” That means that Americans control nearly a quarter of the world’s GDP despite the fact that Americans only make up 4.4% of planet Earth’s total population. Sorry, Donald … but that’s a whole lot of what it takes to get along in the world.

And that total is eerily similar to the America’s energy consumption. According to the Worldwatch Institute, America’s 4.4% uses about a quarter of the world’s fossil fuel resources — burning up nearly 25 percent of the coal, 26 percent of the oil, and 27 percent of the world’s natural gas. And how has America guaranteed access to the lion’s share of the world energy and resources?

Military Dominance

Surprise! It’s also home to the world’s largest military budget which is, not coincidentally, “almost as much as the next 14 countries put together and far larger than the rest of the world,” according to a 2016 report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. So, 4.4 percent of the world’s population accounts for “more than a third of global military spending.” But that’s not all.

A Tomahawk cruise missile launches from the USS Shiloh against air defense targets in Iraq on Sept. 3, 1996, as part of Operation Desert Strike, a limited U.S. military engagement against Iraqi government forces similar to what is now contemplated for Syria. (DOD photo)

As CNNMoney reported, Uncle Sam is also “by far the world’s biggest arms exporter, accounting for 33% of all weapons exports in the five years through 2016.” The SIPRI report that story was based on also found that America is literally and figuratively making a killing by selling weapons to … Mexico! That’s right, those thieving Mexicans have been, as CNSNews aptly stated, on a “buying spree with transfers of weaponry and equipment into the country growing by 184 percent between the 2007-2011 period and the 2012-2016 period.”

America’s supermarket of military hardware is wide open for business and, like so many of the world’s nations, Mexico is availing itself of the Uncle Sam’s leading export — a bountiful array of weaponry.

So, to recap … America is 4.4 percent of the world’s population. It accounts for more than 33 percent of the global total of military spending and it sells 33 percent of all the world’s weapons while, at the same time, it is targeting Mexico with a profitable flood of military-grade arms and materiel. That’s the same Mexico the President accuses of intentionally sending bad dudes from drug cartels to infiltrate the America with drugs and ravage it with rape and murder. And, in the world according to Trump, that’s what his vaunted wall is meant to stop — the gangs, the crime and the drugs.

However, a recent CNBC investigation found that like everything else, Americans have a disproportionate appetite for drugs … but not drugs coming from Mexico. Rather, Americans consume “approximately 80 percent of the global opioid supply” of “300 million pain prescriptions” which amounts to a $24 billion market. Opioid addiction is widely seen as the leading catalyst of the heroin crisis sweeping many rural areas and small towns as users in Trump-loving Red States seek a cheap, readily available alternative to potent prescription painkillers.

Opioid addiction numbers have spiked to two million Americans who are, quite shockingly, often being treated by the health care system with … more opioid prescriptions. In 2015, overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers spiked to 20,101 and another 12,990 deaths we heroin-related, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

So, who are those biggest beneficiaries of this opioid-related carnage? Mexicans? The Chinese? Radical Islamic Terrorists, perhaps? Well, the “top five” beneficiaries are, as CNBC detailed, “Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Insys Therapeutics, Mylan and Depomed.” And where are these companies located? Purdue is based in Stamford, Connecticut. Johnson & Johnson is based in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Insys Therapeutics is based in Chandler, Arizona. Mylan is registered in the Netherlands, but their global headquarters in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. And Depomed is located in Newark, California. Somehow, that roster doesn’t actually look like a roadmap to uncovering a global conspiracy to stick it to American consumers or a swarthy cartel seeking to exploit an open border.

No, like so much of Trumps’ grievance-obsessed nationalism, all roads inevitably lead to home. And that’s perhaps the saddest part of this sordid tale. Because real people are really struggling in hard-hit places that used to hum along in America’s industrial heartland. But the amazing industrial engine that emerged from World War II and powered that glorious Middle Class moment in the 1950s and 1960s has long since run out of gas.

And although the unfettered capital flows of globalization hastened the decline in many places, the simple fact is that the people who benefitted the most from a global labor market were American corporate captains and Wall Street’s financial tricksters and big box retailers like Walmart. Some of those beneficiaries now populate Trump’s cabinet and many others are now riding high on the profitable wave of a trumped-up stock market.

To America’s Benefit

Frankly, since the end of World War II, the entire global system — the financialized economy, the alliances, the trade deals, the global network of military bases — have all overwhelmingly benefited America and its oil companies and defense companies and financial companies and retail companies and on and on and on.

The run-down PIX Theatre sign reads “Vote Trump” on Main Street in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. July 15, 2016. (Photo by Tony Webster Flickr)

The real problem hasn’t been the world ripping off the Middle Class. The problem is that the people at the top of these industries — and hyper-financialized go-getters in Wall Street who wheel and deal and leverage their debts — have increasingly hoarded the wealth so disproportionately created by America’s global spanning power and economic dominance.

This is not about a global conspiracy hatched abroad. This is about conscious decisions by high-powered Americans here at home to keep more and more of everything. They created obscene levels of wealth and income inequality by inflating their compensation packages, by gaming the market for short-term payoffs, by gutting collective bargaining rights and, just as The Donald did with his own vast array of branded goods, by seeking higher profit margins from cheap offshore labor.

The simple fact is that Trump’s scapegoating of global economic thieves is a big phony baloney that, in the end, only helps his cronies. That’s why he didn’t mention collective bargaining rights when he met with union leaders who, truth be told, seemed happy just to be invited to his table … even if all he’s really offering are the crumbs and scraps left over from an economic ideology rooted in the past. Sadly, that’s all they’ll get because, at the same time, Trump’s Republican allies plan to gut what’s left of unions with ever-expanding “right to work” laws.

But perhaps the worst of all is his crackdown on immigrants who, as the American Conservative’s Jon Basil Utley painstakingly detailed, drive so many parts of America’s economic engine — from undocumented workers on the dairy farms of Wisconsin to Indian-generated startups in California, Texas, New York and Massachusetts to “thousands of tiny lunch shops” to Asian and Latina child care workers and, most notable, to the “half of all the Fortune 500 largest companies in America” that were “founded by immigrants or children of immigrants.”

Instead, we get a self-described “military operation” under the guise of extricating “bad dudes” in drug-dealing gangs and Mexican cartels. This histrionic plan conveniently obfuscates the perfectly legal drug dealers of Big Pharma who are the real culprits behind the “carnage” decimating America. That, along with his attack on the bulk-buying ways of health care systems around the world, is yet another dangerous, if potentially profitable distraction from the stark reality being lived every day but people who struggle to afford medication or battle to live another day with a Pharma-engineered addiction.

Really, it’s no different than putting an oil industry shill in charge of the EPA, a slick oil salesman in charge of the State Department, a private school profiteer in charge of the Education Department, a health industry stock speculator in charge of Health and Human Services … and Goldman Sachs alums in charge of Treasury and the whole economic enchilada. These folks represent that same elite movers and shakers who’ve benefited from America’s position as the world’s richest nation, while also driving policies that make it the one of the developed world’s most unequal — right behind Chile and (of course) Mexico.

Even worse, the top 1 percent now takes home “more than 20% of all U.S. income” and the “bottom 50% went from capturing over 20% of national income for much of the 1970s to earning barely 12% today,” according to CNNMoney. But The Donald doesn’t talk about making America more equal again. Instead he’s blowing a smokescreen for the crony capitalists who see big profits and big tax breaks ahead while they leave those Americans struggling to keep up with the heady pace of technological change further and further behind.

Still, they got the hat and they’ve got some hope and, as evidenced by the chart above, America still enjoys the bulk of the world’s benefits. But If America was ever truly “great,” it was that fleeting moment when the fruits of America’s global dominance were shared more broadly with the parents and grandparents of the people who voted to make it great again.

JP Sottile is a freelance journalist, radio co-host, documentary filmmaker and former broadcast news producer in Washington, D.C. He blogs at Newsvandal.com or you can follow him on Twitter, http://twitter/newsvandal.

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65 comments for “Who’s Behind US Downward-Mobility?

  1. Sally Snyder
    February 24, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Here is an article that looks at the unintended consequences of deporting illegal immigrants from the United States:

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.ca/2017/02/the-unintended-consequences-of.html

    The issue of unauthorized immigrants is far more complex than it appears on the surface and will have significant negative impacts on economic growth.

    • BART GRUZALSKI PROF. EMERITUS
      February 25, 2017 at 12:25 pm

      Sally Snyder,

      You are 10000% right. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Herman
    February 24, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    Mr. Sottile states:

    “And that total is eerily similar to the America’s energy consumption. According to the Worldwatch Institute, America’s 4.4% uses about a quarter of the world’s fossil fuel resources — burning up nearly 25 percent of the coal, 26 percent of the oil, and 27 percent of the world’s natural gas. And how has America guaranteed access to the lion’s share of the world energy and resources

    And that total is eerily similar to the America’s energy consumption. According to the Worldwatch Institute, America’s 4.4% uses about a quarter of the world’s fossil fuel resources — burning up nearly 25 percent of the coal, 26 percent of the oil, and 27 percent of the world’s natural gas. And how has America guaranteed access to the lion’s share of the world energy and resources?”

    Mr. Sottile says: “Military Dominance”

    Too simple an answer. In the main, access is gained by making the producers rich. Certainly our geologists, engineers and bankers had a role in the production, and there were cases where military protected our investments, but that doesn’t describe the world today. And there is so much oil that access is not a problem and when it was in the 70’s the military was no where to be found in addressing the problem nor should it have been.

    Mr. Sottile addresses a plethora of problems and rightly points out evidence that Trump will take care of the wealthy who are like him.

    But all of what Mr. Sottile has to say is so much posturing on both sides of these issues. and seeking to define it as a Republican or a Democrat problem. Rather than discussing the issue with the aim of addressing problems, we use the issue as a way of dividing us.

    One example, nations have a right to control who enters the country and for how long. Citizens have different rights than others. Few would argue that open borders and allowing people to take up residence without government control has the potential for disaster. But few who know anything about immigrants coming across our borders from the south know they are needed for many jobs. Most are good people willing to work hard and with good aptitude for the jobs they are asked to do.

    Beginning with these two factors, the rights of a nation to control it borders and the need for the services of people south of our border, is I not possible to have a policy which satisfies both. Why demonize the visiting workers or the government that wishes to control its borders.

    Mr. Sottile’s comments about fat cats is relevant but that can be addressed with a sensible tax policy and on and on.

    What is clear is that there is hysteria and demonization regarding Trump, often used by those who sense that Trump threatens their world and use the hysteria and demonization to protect their bennies. For example, those who shape events, the shakers and movers, see Trump as a real threat to end the Cold War and all the benefits they derive therefrom. They welcome those who chose to pile on because of race, gender, citizen status or any other cause.

    Mr. Sottile is loaded for bear and with World Bank

    • February 25, 2017 at 12:08 pm

      Oil has been a military issue since the segmenting of the Ottoman empire. Mossegah, Iran’s first democratically elected president was overthrown by a Kermit Roosevelt orchaestrated coup’. Chomsky stated USA policy is to Control fossil fuels of the world but access it’s supply from the Alantic basin ( must include Canada and USA).

      More neccessary than low skilled immigrants are the doctors etc from abroad. All immigrants should be legally processed. If the process is faulty then it needs reform.

    • BART GRUZALSKI PROF. EMERITUS
      February 25, 2017 at 12:24 pm

      Herman,

      You hit the proverbial nail on the head with this deeply insightful quote:

      “What is clear is that there is hysteria and demonization regarding Trump, often used by those who sense that Trump threatens their world and use the hysteria and demonization to protect their bennies. For example, those who shape events, the shakers and movers, see Trump as a real threat to end the Cold War and all the benefits they derive therefrom.”

      That’s exactly why the Deep State is attacking Trump and hoping to set up either his impeachment or assassination as I tell in my recent book, “The Deep State Versus President Trump.”

      Your comment could be on the cover and would work well as an advertizing summary. Thanks for making it so clear in simple and straightforward language.

      Dr. Bart Gruzalski, Professor Emeritus, Philosophy and Religion, Northeastern University, Boston, MA—one of the few Ph.D.s in the nation to support our president (and that’s the topic of Chapter Two in the book).

    • Linda Doucett
      February 25, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      Agreed. The desperate vilification of Trump and the promotion of hysteria speaks volumes.

  3. Mark Thomason
    February 24, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    True as to the cause. Not true as to the political ally.

    Hillary was the face of neoliberal wealth and Wall Street. They opposed Trump.

  4. Bill Bodden
    February 24, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    Another first for America: It is the most prolific fountain of hypocrisy in the world.

  5. Az
    February 24, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    It is always hardest to blame ones own and easiest to blame the opportunists the US opened the door for.

  6. Tom Welsh
    February 24, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    Absolutely brilliant! J.P. Sottile has nailed it to the wall. Every American should read this, mark it, and inwardly digest it.

  7. February 24, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    The War business is a big problem:

    There is plenty of money for endless war
    There is no restraint on blood and gore
    There is plenty of money for tanks and bombs
    And bloodstained profiteers burst into song

    There is plenty of money for NATO’s war palace
    The home of those that plan the war’s of malice
    All paid for by the serfs’ compulsory taxes
    This Brussels H.Q. is where the warmongers’ relaxes…

    [ much more info at link below]

    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/02/plenty-of-money-for-endless-war.html

    • BART GRUZALSKI PROF. EMERITUS
      February 25, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      Stephen,

      You are correct to point out that the war business is a huge problem for workers in America. But it would likely meet its match if Reagan hadn’t begun attacking the unions. Unions have and would continue to oppose these stupid wars but Reagan broke their backs way back in the 1970s.

      • John
        February 25, 2017 at 7:47 pm

        The blame for decline of unions cannot be blamed on Reagan alone (I have nothing but contempt for him and literally scream obscenities at the memorial to him in Dixon Illinois, one of his hometowns, every time I go past it.)

        The AFL-CIO told its workers to cross the picket lines during the air traffic controllers strike. The strike would have likely won if not for this action by the AFL-CIO.

        Considering that a good bulk of industrial jobs in the US are manufacturing for the military, I also doubt that the (current) unions would be inherently opposed to war. (After all, the AFL was created by the government to keep people out of the unions that had a history of opposition to war.)

        Now, if the unions reaffilliated under the IWW (perhaps a newly independent CIO), this may happen. They would not do so, however, under the leadership of the AFL.

  8. cmp
    February 24, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    Inside Obama’s bank CEOs meeting
    By Eamon Javers 04/03/09

    ~ ” The bankers struggled to make themselves clear to the president of the United States.

    Arrayed around a long mahogany table in the White House state dining room last week, the CEOs of the most powerful financial institutions in the world offered several explanations for paying high salaries to their employees — and, by extension, to themselves.

    “These are complicated companies,” one CEO said. Offered another: “We’re competing for talent on an international market.”

    But President Barack Obama wasn’t in a mood to hear them out. He stopped the conversation and offered a blunt reminder of the public’s reaction to such explanations. “Be careful how you make those statements, gentlemen. The public isn’t buying that.”

    “My administration,” the president added, “is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”” ~

    Now, the Whole World has been in a recession for the last 8 years. .. Or , if we look at it by Class, for many, it has been a depression.
    But:
    The Dow Jones on 1/20/2009 was at 8,100.
    Then the Dow Jones grew to 19,827 by 1/20/2017.
    Where did it come from? (.. maybe,,, quantitative easing, etc?)
    Where did it go? (.. did it trickle down?)

    Did you make $6 million dollars per hour last year?
    Well, Warren Buffet added $12 Billion to his fortune in 2016.
    And, if he worked 250 days, that means, he made $48 million dollars per day, or $6 million dollars every hour.
    .. Remind me again of his grand contribution.

    Or, did you make over $83 million dollars last year?
    NY Times;  ‘Just How Much Do the Top Private Equity Earners Make In 2015?’
    By B Protess and M Corkery 12/10/2016

    Stephen Schwarzman $800 million, Blackstone
    Jonathan Gray, $249 million, Blackstone
    Hamilton James, $233 million, Blackstone
    Leon Black, $200 million, Apollo Global Mgt
    George Roberts, $181 million, KKR
    Henry Kravis, $176 million, KKR
    David Rubenstein, $102, Carlyle
    William Conway Jr., 97 million, Carlyle
    Antony Ressler, $83 million – Ares Mgt

    Or, were you feeling a little sorry for the hedge funds? Well then, how about this headline?
    ‘Hedge Funds Topped $3 Trillion in 2016 – Despite Rough Year’
    By Nathan Reiff | January 23, 2017

    It ‘s a world of the rich, by the rich, for the rich..
    What do I expect, from Donald? .. The same. ..Not much..
    But, let’s give credit where it’s due, Barack, he stole that Nobel Peace Prize, and more – from the pitchforks.

  9. February 24, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    How American foreign policy effects US internal affairs and policy by eliminating any quality of life in the wake of military intervention, becoming the catalyst for exodus and immigration, playing right into the policy of industrialists to keep wages low for maximum corporate profit.

    Thank you so much for the clarity on the correlation between big pharma, big profit, and opioid addiction, which HAD ALREADY BEEN AT ALARMING RATES LONG BEFORE LEGALIZATION OF RECREATIONAL CANNABIS (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6450a3.htm).

    Thank you sincerely.

    • BART GRUZALSKI PROF. EMERITUS
      February 25, 2017 at 12:06 pm

      mijkmijld,

      I once wrote an investigative piece on then-Congressman Wolf from New York. His proposal, with which I couldn’t but agree, is that the US could kill the problem with addiction to heroin PLUS obtain low cost opiates for the legal markets by purchasing all the opium produced in the “Golden Triangle.” Of course the feds killed the idea—the CIA makes much too much money importing heroin to put up with any legal competition.

  10. February 24, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    One of Trumps plans for America is to reshape the Tax structure. He claims Corporations are overtaxed. Just like Reagan changed the tax structure when he took away the small guys interest deduction. Trump and his supporters will also do the little guy in. His plan will reduce the amount of taxes the fat cats pay when they should be paying more. If a small guy gets behind on his bills does he get a job that pays less or does he get extra work to catch up. Watch for the defenders to back what he is going to do. People forget awfully fast. Does anyone remember the oil depletion allowance? Trumps slogan should be “Make America Hate Again.”

    • turk151
      February 24, 2017 at 5:50 pm

      Well, theoretically, double taxation is a bad idea. Taxes should only be paid once and should be based a persons ability to pay, which is measured by disposable income. A single level progressive tax system with increasing rates at increasing disposable income levels is the best approach. The problem is that the IRS does not have the resources or will to go after our aristocracy, who lawyer up and stash money offshore. So, if you dont get the money when it is still at a regulated public company, you will never see it again.

      • Brad Owen
        February 25, 2017 at 10:46 am

        There is no need for taxes, if we would have Congress hold hearings for representatives from the industrial community, the agricultural community, the science R&D community, the military community, the business community, the labor community, the welfare relief community, etc…and draw up a capital budget spending plan for fiscal year so-and-so (this like the business plan presented to the loan officer of a bank). Have Treasury print up the greenbacks and spend it, through a nationalized bank, for these operations as proposed before Congress. This is LaRouche’s idea, if I represented it correctly. If the work that these greenbacks fund, actually produces useful artifacts (making things and growing food) there will be no inflation. The only necessary form of tax needed would be tariffs to protect our own industrial and agricultural operations (which also protects our jobs BTW).

  11. Linda Doucett
    February 24, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    So it has all started with Trump? Please …. It is just same shit different asshole.

  12. Lou E
    February 24, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    Amen; won’t be boring; don’t forget to loot the bodies!

  13. Drew Hunkins
    February 24, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    The reasons for falling wages and salaries and massive inequality over the last 40 years are the following:

    1.) The ruling class has been carrying out an all out assault on labor unions and collective bargaining. This relentless war that the owning class has waged against worker solidarity has been going on non-stop since the late 1970s and seemed to really ramp up when Reagan fired the striking air-traffic controllers. Workers in unions make more money, work in safer conditions, enjoy more vacation time and reap better benefits than their counterparts in non-union shops and work sites, period. The elites and their propaganda along with their “consulting firms” have destroyed workers’ wages and conditions by eviscerating the strength of organized labor. Even non-union workers sometimes enjoy a decent wage simply b/c their employer wants to keep a union out of the shop.
    2.) The off-shoring and outsourcing of the manufacturing sector from the industrial heartland to the low wage deep south and third-world countries. Turning vast swaths of the industrial Midwest into the Rust Belt has meant family-supporting living wage jobs are essentially nowhere to be found. Virtually all that’s left is low paying and sporadic work in the service sector. The opiate and meth addictions are rampant, so at least something’s doing well.
    3.) Computerization, automation and robotics which have deskilled and in some cases outright replaced workers who used to receive a family-supporting living wage.

    4.) A distant (distant) fourth to the aforementioned top 3 consists of two pieces: A.) the influx of Latin American labor which in some cases has depressed wages in certain sectors, and B.) the massive flooding of the workforce by women which started roughly in the mid 1970s. These two paradigms meant more workers were battling over fewer available jobs in certain sectors which put downward pressure on wages in those areas.

    The ruling class in the West — which consists of the top tenth of 1% of income/wealth holders — has taken the gloves off. It was reflected in Thatcher’s dictum: TINA, There Is No Alternative. When Soviet collectivism was relegated to the dustbin of history the elites in Washington and on Wall Street and in corporate America decided to really sock it to the employee class. No longer was there the threat of a good example, after all, workers in the USSR received decent wages, long vacations, and secure pensions at a relatively young age. With the Soviet example gone, the ruling class in the West saw no reason to provide competitive wages and benefits to their toiling masses since there was no longer that competing socialist econ system, TINA reigned supreme.

    The proletariat of the West is paying dearly for the demise of the Soviet Union. Despite its faults, the USSR held out a good example to the workers of the world while more importantly it embodied a threat to the parasitic financial elite who at one time begrudgingly understood they needed to offer a modicum of worker friendly conditions or perhaps themselves face the dustbin of history.

    • Joe J Tedesky
      February 24, 2017 at 11:06 pm

      Drew you nailed, I could not have said what you said any better.

      I always though that Reagan’s laying off the Air Traffic Controllers was managements payback for the United Steel Workers 116 day 1959 Steel Strike. Couple to that Reagan provided managements revenge against John F Kennedy’s April 11 1962 refusal to allow the steel industry to increase their steel prices. Reagan’s spiteful actions never even considered what wage sacrifices the striking steel workers suffered during those 116 days in 1959, he only sided with the corporate powers who cry when asked to contribute to our American society by paying taxes.

      Read JFK’s message to the steel industry, and pay attention to when Kennedy mentions Vietnam….

      https://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Research-Aids/Ready-Reference/Press-Conferences/News-Conference-30.aspx

      • John
        February 25, 2017 at 7:53 pm

        If the AFL had not advised its members to cross picket lines in the air traffic controllers strike, Reagan would have been forced to cave.

        Had the AFL not continued to disempower its membership by tying themselves to the Democratic Party, even after NAFTA, we would be in a far better position today.

        I in no way am denying that Reagan was evil, but to blame him entirely is “otherizing” the problem, rather than recognizing mistakes so as not to repeat them.

        • Joe J Tedesky
          February 25, 2017 at 8:12 pm

          John what occurred under Reagan was bound to occur under another president. I’m glad you posted your comment here, because your right putting the blame on one president isn’t fair. I’m surprised that what happened to the unions didn’t happen sooner. I guess 1982 just happened to be the right time. Thanks for your comment.

    • Lois Gagnon
      February 24, 2017 at 11:19 pm

      The fortunes of the majority will continue to decline. At some point it will have to dawn on them that their only recourse for redress is a continuous general strike. The only question is how long it will take before we reach that level of desperation.

      • Drew Hunkins
        February 24, 2017 at 11:34 pm

        You’re right on target Ms. Gagnon.

        • February 25, 2017 at 9:07 am

          Both are good comments. United we stand, divided we fall. The average American thinks Unions are bad. Which party has promoted this premise? 90 per cent of Republicans and 60 per cent of the Democrats do not have the little guys interest at heart. When the little guy does vote he votes against his own interest time and time again. Come on let’s hear from all the Union haters.

          • Drew Hunkins
            February 25, 2017 at 4:01 pm

            Mr. Foley,

            You’re correct. Over 80% of all politicians could care less if the working masses were slaving away in 60 hour work weeks with garbage benefits.

    • BART GRUZALSKI PROF. EMERITUS
      February 25, 2017 at 11:57 am

      Drew Hunkins,

      You are absolutely right on target: “The ruling class has been carrying out an all out assault on labor unions and collective bargaining. This relentless war that the owning class has waged against worker solidarity has been going on non-stop since the late 1970s and seemed to really ramp up when Reagan fired the striking air-traffic controllers.”

      I made this comment below but I couldn’t read yours (or anyone’s) comments at that point. This, to me, is the main reason for the downward slide of the working class in the United States.

      Dr. Bart Gruzalski, Professor Emeritus, Philosophy and Public Policy, Northeastern University, Boston, MA—and the only philosophy Ph.D. I know who has enough sense to be supporting POTUS Donald Trump.

      • Drew Hunkins
        February 25, 2017 at 3:59 pm

        Thanks for the kind words Mr. Gruzalski.

        In solidarity,
        Drew Hunkins
        Madison, WI

      • John
        February 25, 2017 at 7:58 pm

        Unfortunately, the model of union organization used by the AFL encourages the union bosses (i.e. Trumpka) to see themselves as part of the ruling classes. If the structure was more akin to the IWW (where the union leaders make no more than the average of the workers they represent), this problem would be avoided.

        Not all unions are created equal, and not all unions are created for equality.

        • Cal
          February 26, 2017 at 1:48 pm

          EXACTLY.

  14. Brian Quinn
    February 24, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    I think Trump is right. He is a man of the people and is not afraid to speak his mind. We need rich people in this world to make good business deals and bring more jobs to those not so fortunate. Just because a person is rich does not make him or her a bad person. There is good and bad among all types of people.

    • BART GRUZALSKI PROF. EMERITUS
      February 25, 2017 at 11:52 am

      Brian Quinn,

      Absolutely. Thanks for saying it.

      Dr. Bart Gruzalski, Professor Emeritus Philosophy and Public Policy, Northeastern University, Boston, MA—the only Ph.D. I know in philosophy who supports our POTUS and I recommend you check out my most recent book (s) on President Trump

    • February 25, 2017 at 12:13 pm

      Did you just wake up after a forty year snooze? Or where do you live? In a cave off the grid? No country needs people worth 50 billion while 80% of the population lives on less than the minimum wage.

    • John
      February 25, 2017 at 8:00 pm

      When great wealth can only be amassed by exploiting others, then all rich people can only be exploiters.

  15. Josh Stern
    February 24, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    Some key policies that contribute to wealth inequality: 1) Low inheritance tax, 2) Low taxation on passive income – investors pay much lower overall tax rates on income than working class people, 3) a system of income tax deductions that favors higher income payers – e.g. mortgage interest, 4) Ability to pay one’s self out of business expenses for all kinds of spending without counting it as income, 5) An intellectual property system that is skewed in favor of large corporations, 6) US workers compete with foreign workers that not only earn lower wages, but also work in environments that do not pay overhead for OSHA, SS/medicaid/unemployment insurance taxes, AHDA reqs, regulatory oversight etc. – it’s great that these regulations keep us safe, but then we import a lot produced without those regs – there is no attempt to rationalize the disparity, 7) we’ve lowered our national investment in the civilian commons/infrastructure as a percentage of budget in favor of military spending, 8) individual consumers/decision makers have less and less say in the precise amount and kind of healthcare they wish to buy – more and more decisions have been transferred to the medical industry and regulatory authorities, including end-of-life care, amount and kind of insurance for which medical treatments, etc.

    The following link tries to estimate the more comprehensive, overall National Security Budget, though it also misses some things:
    http://www.pogo.org/straus/issues/defense-budget/2016/americas-1-trillion-national-security-budget.html

  16. LJ
    February 24, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    Well, sure. Let’s shoot some more fish in the barrel. I didn’t expect Trump to be a champion of economic equality. Who could be? How many prosecutions were there for financial fraud under the Obama Administration? Come on,,,, Obama appointed Penny Pritzker as Secretary of Commerce. I mean, LET”S BE REAL for a minute. This trend has been going on since Reagan “Re-indexed the Brackets ” and unleashed Hyper capitalization. What does it mean when there can be no increase of the minimum wage but two Players represented by the NBA Players Association , on the same team. Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are looking at pay raises next year to raise their salaries in excess of $45 million. A lot of people are getting really rich. Their is a cost and eventually their will be a social costs that requires a redistribution of wealth. Let’s just hope that Trump F’s up so much, and it appears he will, that real Populism takes over the two political parties. Unfortunately it won’t and the Supreme Court would make economic reform even more difficult even if Populists were to gain control. So to this author I type, C-H-I-L-L. This has been going on since before Marx or Engels and the Workers of the World still have not come to the realization that they have the power to change the system if only they can recognize what their own self interest really is. Do not hold your breathe, Blame Trump, it’s easier and you can get a paycheck.

    • LJ
      February 24, 2017 at 6:41 pm

      Gosh I spelled there their twice and had another typo all in sentence. Oh well, Trump is affecting all of us in many different ways.

    • Bill Bodden
      February 24, 2017 at 6:57 pm

      This trend has been going on since Reagan

      This trend has not only been going on long before Reagan. It has been going on from the beginning of history and will likely continue until the end. In the meantime the people need to rise as the French and Russians did in the relatively recent past.

      • February 25, 2017 at 12:19 pm

        Exactly. In the Amazon the Indians catch monkeys by drilling a hole in a gourd just big enough for the monkey to put his hand in. they put a few fruit peels in the gourd. When the monkey closes his hand around the fruit peel he can´t take his hinad out of the gourd. Since the gourd is chained to a tree, the Indian just walks up and takes him. Best metaphore, looking back at the history of the French Terror and the Bolchivik Revolution I could find.

        They will hold on to the world´s wealth until the world rises up and takes it from them by force. They will go to the guillotine with diamonds sown into their clothing and gold hidden in their shoes. They wil take death before they will give up a single shekle.

        • February 25, 2017 at 12:21 pm

          Sorry about the typos.

        • caseyf5
          February 25, 2017 at 12:46 pm

          Hello Dan Kuhn, I agree with you but the revolution will be the bloodiest in history. The elites have created the modern mercenary forces numbering in the millions (40 + at least) when they used to be a very minuscule part of the population numbering in the thousands. We now fight “endless wars for endless peace” which creates an ever increasing supply of mercenaries!!!!!!!!!

          • February 25, 2017 at 1:50 pm

            And thats the why of the miiitarized police forces. The huge military reserve. It is not to defend against outside foes of the nation is is protection of the 1/10 of 1% against the great unwashed. That huge, expensive military would be turned on the citiznry in a New York Minute if the 1/10th of 1% was under threat.

  17. February 24, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    The whole thing is a Ponzi scheme that has been going on since the Founding Fathers, only more complex now. Trump is the latest iteration of the GOP Guardians of Privilege trickle-down scheme with a new dollop of “us versus them”. But what would Clinton have done? Bang the war drums for the hawks while throwing a few crumbs to the masses. We have been screwed over and over again, it’s been plutocracy since Washington, corporatocracy since McKinley. With huge amounts of money it takes even to run for leader of this sorry ship of state, it’s no wonder we get the corporate shills who take the helm of the whole sinking wreck.

  18. Driscos
    February 24, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    He is a genuinely bad person, but not merely because he is rich.

    • February 24, 2017 at 8:40 pm

      Your statement is right on target. The sad part is that many on this site like him because they think he is rich not because they think he will help the little guy. A bridge salesman could clean up with bridge sales to a lot of them.

      • backwardsevolution
        February 25, 2017 at 1:32 am

        Daniel Foley – “The sad part is that many on this site like him because they think he is rich not because they think he will help the little guy.”

        I don’t like Trump because he is rich, but BECAUSE I think he does genuinely care about the little guy. I might be totally wrong, but I don’t think so. Is he going to get a lot wrong? Yes, he is. Not being a career politician, he’s not quite up to speed on the bezzle yet.

        He’s trying to bring jobs back to the U.S., but the left appear to want to fight him on that. He’s trying to stop illegal immigration so that Americans can have the jobs, so that wages can go up, not down, but the left want to fight him on that too. He wants to protect Americans from terrorism, ensure that refugees are properly vetted (not possible from the seven Middle East countries because they have no functioning government), but the left want to fight him on that. He wants peace with Russia, he wants to stop the unnecessary wars, but fight, fight, fight. He wants to reduce pharma costs, but….

        He wrote his own speech on inauguration day. He could have said a lot of things (as he had already won), but he chose to tell the American people that they were in control of their government, not the government in control of them. Wonder why he said this.

        I think there’s too many on this site who just don’t want to accept that Trump won. It pains them to think that he might actually be trying to do something good for the country.

        Talk about prejudice.

      • Turk151
        February 25, 2017 at 3:37 am

        I would say nobody on this site likes him because he is rich. They just see him as less like to trigger a nuclear war with Russia than Clinton.

        • February 25, 2017 at 12:22 pm

          You are right. clinton really did scare the livin be jeesus out of millions of Americans.

  19. John
    February 24, 2017 at 10:09 pm

    The average IQ in the USA is 96…….That’s average…a very large number. These folks need manufacturing that supports their ability…..End of fu*king story…..Oh, My, everything is wonderful for these folks…….One day these people will turn against the status…which is exactly what the globalist hope for……Is anyone awake…..is their plan too much to comprehend…..OMG !!!!!!…..He said She said……..very slow awareness…….

  20. backwardsevolution
    February 25, 2017 at 2:43 am

    Mr. Sottile – I don’t even know where to begin. “This is not about a global conspiracy hatched abroad. This is about conscious decisions by high-powered Americans here at home to keep more and more of everything.”

    Yes, U.S. multinationals screwed American workers when they offshored jobs to China. Every single American should have refused to buy anything from China – zip – right at the very beginning. But it was a slow process, and it took awhile (especially with no one in the media spelling it out for the American workers) before people actually knew what happened. The U.S. multinational corporations sold out American technological know-how to China. In order to start up a business in China, you had to take a Chinese partner (lucky for them), and you had to turn over your technology. In addition, you cannot move your Chinese factory. If you want to move your operations to another country, that factory stays in place. China would still be back in the Stone Age if not for the American multinational corporations wanting to produce more consumers (Chinese ones). And the 1% of the Chinese elite (the Communist Party members, who are anything but “communist”) have benefited as much as the U.S. multinationals. These corrupt individuals (who were busy taking millions in bribes) have become filthy rich. It was a symbiotic relationship, with both U.S. and Chinese elite benefiting handsomely. They have left China polluted and in tremendous debt, and then have fled to the West (where we’ve gladly taken them in) to force up home prices here.

    “Public enemy number one is, of course, the horde of job-stealing immigrants who’ve displaced what’s left of America’s depleted employment market. They’ve come to wrest away the cooking jobs, the cleaning jobs, the agricultural jobs, the construction jobs, the landscaping jobs and all the other jobs Americans are apparently denied because countries like Mexico are purposefully sending their people across the border to take advantage of America’s stupidity.”

    To deny that illegal immigration is not a big problem is to bury your head in the sand. Illegal immigration is most definitely keeping wages down. It is putting tremendous pressure on the educational system, as well as the medical system. It is also putting upward pressure on rents and housing costs.

    Yes, sounds like Mexico is finally going to tackle their drug problem:

    “Mexico received armored transfer vehicles, transport aircraft, transport helicopters and a few patrol boats,” explained Nan Tian, a researcher with SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Program.

    “These are weapons commonly used to fight insurgencies or small groups. If you think of how drug cartels operate, these weapons would be used against the drug cartels.”

    He said Mexico wasn’t purchasing tanks, missiles or the most advanced anti-missile defense systems that might be more commonly used to defend the country against an invasion.”

    These weapons are to be used against the drug cartels in Mexico.

    “No, like so much of Trumps’ grievance-obsessed nationalism, all roads inevitably lead to home.” All roads always lead to home. That’s what Trump is trying to get a handle on. But the globalists and internationalists are fighting him, aren’t they? If you can’t control your borders, if your own corporate citizens would rather show allegiance to another country than their own, if your intelligence agencies are working against you, then it will be a battle. But I have every faith that Trump will get a handle on the country, to the benefit of the average citizen.

  21. February 25, 2017 at 6:05 am

    The USA a collossus – with feet of clay. Lenin’s dictum seems appropriate. Here are some countervailing facts about this economic Leviathan.

    1. GDP $19 trn PUBLIC DEBT $20 TRN. Add in corporate, household, consumer debt, state and city debt and unfunded future liabilities – social security and medicare -and the figure for total debt is headed north of $100 trn. Of course, this will (can) never be paid, so this means a default sometime in the future, either through a straight default or via the backdoor – a Fed stoked inflation.

    2. The $. American dominance has been based upon the reserve status of the dollar. The ‘exorbitant privilege’ as it has been called. The US has been able to pay its debts (at least some of them) in its own currency. It has been receiving what amounts to a subsidy from the rest of the world as it imposes the petrodollar on unwilling nations, like Libya and Iraq fo example. But the dollar’s dominance is now under attack, its day’s are numbered as an increasing number of countries are using their own currencies to trade in – with China and Russia leading the charge. Making the situation worse is the money printing which has been going on since 2008 which will transmute into global inflation at the sign of a real pickup in global growth

    When these considerations are taken into account a rather different reality appears. The conventional wisdom in that the US is the richest country in the world. True if you include financial ‘wealth’ (which tends to be rather ephemeral) overvalued real estate (another great big asset price bubble) promises which won’t kept (retirement schemes which won’t pay out) and much else which isn’t quite real.

    It is well to bear in mind when assessing a nation’s (and persons) credit rating that you look at the liabilities column as well as the assets.

    • February 25, 2017 at 12:25 pm

      You forgot that the American people are on the hook for two hundred trillion in bad bank loans that the US government guaranteed to keep the banks afloat. That is the elephant in the room that no one, not even the President wants to say anything about.

    • Roch
      February 25, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      Most of the comments are correct in addressing one of the many important facets of the situation, but yours is the entire picture– a nation, a person who discards its earning wealth and capabilities is doomed in the end, no matter what reserves s/he or it may have now. Yes, there is great wealth, but it is being misused, squandered, wasted, hoarded, and not intelligently and correctly re-invested into future generations so that in time the US will be marred with no mans lands. It has no means of getting better or healing. The final limitations imposed on 1st amendment dissent and the Magna Carta’s rights have taken us back into an evil time. elected officials who support the WSBigBanks ReverseMortgage schemes should be hanged as traitors to their constituents for taking the side of the plunderers.

  22. SteveK9
    February 25, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    It’s hard to classify Trump. He knows it is the corporate leaders. He had them all in a televised meeting jawboning them to create American jobs.

  23. J'hon Doe II
    February 25, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    If there’s a Persona pushing this drama, (Downward Mobility) it’s name is Dissonance.

    Control media, de-legitamise and weaponize it thru fictions presented as facts.

    Dog eat Dog is a construct molded thru Media,
    http://www.kurzweil.net/new-york-times-global-leaders-collective-ray-kurzweil-interview-with-top-journalist-andrew-sorkin

  24. J'hon Doe II
    February 25, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    Dog eat Dog is a construct of Media Control

    http://www.33rdsquare.com/2016/12/ray-kurzweil-on-transformational-trends.html

    Book — “Trump and the Roots of Rage” — by Kevin O’Leary

  25. J'hon Doe II
    February 25, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    “Trump and the Roots of Rage” — by Kevin O’Leary
    http://prospect.org/article/trump-and-racial-politics-south

  26. LJ
    February 25, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Solyent Green…., It’s People

  27. Kevin Schmidt
    February 25, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    Trump is right about a “global elite.” There are at least two academic studies that prove the US is a plutocratic oligarchy and not a democratic republic. That explains all of the corporate and wealthy friendly legislation coming out of DC since Reagan.

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  29. Cal
    February 26, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    ”So, who are those biggest beneficiaries of this opioid-related carnage? Mexicans? The Chinese? Radical Islamic Terrorists, perhaps? Well, the “top five” beneficiaries are, as CNBC detailed, “Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Insys Therapeutics, Mylan and Depomed.” And where are these companies located? Purdue is based in Stamford, Connecticut. Johnson & Johnson is based in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Insys Therapeutics is based in Chandler, Arizona. Mylan is registered in the Netherlands, but their global headquarters in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. And Depomed is located in Newark, California. Somehow, that roster doesn’t actually look like a roadmap to uncovering a global conspiracy to stick it to American consumers or a swarthy cartel seeking to exploit an open border.”

    I got a headache from this article. …so jumped around I don’t have time to comment on it thoroughly .
    But the problem with writers and articles like this whose sole purpose is to ‘get Trump’ is that they don’t know what they’re talking about and don’t do the research and try to use a ‘keep it simple stupid’ approach for their audience.
    I dont where Stoile was in 1965 but I was in Geneva at the GATT conference—-the beginning of what we call globalization, so I been around this a long long time. Everything small and medium manufatures warned about then—gutting US industry has come about.

    I dont pretend to know how Trump defines the ‘global conpsiracy’—-but if one says it is made up of US and many other corp and financial vultures around the world that would be correct.
    Every pharm corp he named also has manufacturing plants around the world—-and they sell their drugs overseas at a third of the price they charge US consumers. Let me repeat that—a THIRD OF THE PRICE.
    In addition to the fact that offshoring their plants cost US jobs there is also the little matter of billions of investment dollars horded overseas by pharma to aviod US taxes.

    http://www.biopharmadive.com/news/could-trump-be-pharmas-golden-ticket-to-repatriation/430106/

    ‘The most interesting fact is the percentage of total cash some companies keep ex-U.S. In Amgen’s case, the big biotech keeps 91% of its money overseas. Lilly is close behind at 88% and recently acquisitive Pfizer has one of the lowest percentages, with only about 49% of its money ex-U.S. Meanwhile, Jefferies analyst Jeffrey Holford estimates that Johnson & Johnson keep 100% of its cash offshore.
    In a recent ‘fireside chat’ at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, J&J’s CEO, Alex Gorsky, suggested that the odds of it repatriating its $40.4 billion cash trove has increased in light of Trump’s victory.
    Pfizer CEO Ian Read has been outspoken on the topic. “I would hope that Congress, with the administration, will reform the international tax code as soon as possible next year. I think it is entirely uncompetitive and negative for businesses and jobs in the United States. So I would hope they would reform it in terms of not only repatriation, but going to a territorial system or another type of system that permanently puts us on a level playing field with foreign companies,” Read said.”

    HERE is the possible ‘posion pill if Trump isnt sincere about US jobs and investment thru bigpharma:….not to mention lowering drug prices.
    “In 2004, when the U.S. enacted a repatriation tax holiday, the goal was to encourage U.S. multinationals to pay bigger cash dividends from their overseas subsidiaries and use the cash to make investments in the United States. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that it increased U.S. investment or jobs, and it cost taxpayers billions,” said a 2011 note from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.”

    So its not as simple as some would have it and unless the Donald does put some requirements on pharma like bringing back some facilities to create job and capping drug prices it probably wont work.
    But the FACT is that we americans are paying thru the nose to make up for the lower prices enjoyed overseas for the same drugs made by the same companies.
    In London a few years ago I paid $65 for the same inhaler by the same drug company that I pay $325 for in the US.

    And a pie chart to show how rich the US is is ridiculous and meaningless except to point out that all that wealth is in the hand of the very few—and those very few are part of the GLOBAL ELITE. Yes Virginia there is a Global Elite.

    Whether those US corp global elite are included in Trump’s denunciation of the global conspiracy and whether he does anything about them remains to be seen.

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