We’re in the biggest economic slump since the Great Depression, and we can’t seem to get out of it. Why? Because, exactly as in the 1920s, so much of the nation’s income and wealth are going to the top, that the vast middle class doesn’t have the purchasing power to keep the economy going.
I’ve spent most of my working life concerned about what’s happening to American workers – their jobs, their wages, their hopes and fears. My father sold clothing to the wives of factory workers in the late 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. I watched as the factories began to close, and as those families struggled with a new economy. Households kept their living standards by sending those wives and mothers into paid work – a strategy that did the trick for a time. But when it no longer generated enough income, American families went deeper and deeper into debt – and that’s been the vicious cycle most middle class Americans have been in ever since. — Robert Reich