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Study By MIT Economist: U.S. Has Regressed To A Third-World Nation For Most Of Its Citizens

America divided – this concept increasingly graces political discourse in the U.S., pitting left against right, conservative thought against the liberal agenda. But for decades, Americans have been rearranging along another divide, one just as stark if not far more significant – a chasm once bridged

America divided – this concept increasingly graces political discourse in the U.S., pitting left against right, conservative thought against the liberal agenda. But for decades, Americans have been rearranging along another divide, one just as stark if not far more significant – a chasm once bridged by a flourishing middle class.

Peter Temin, Professor Emeritus of Economics at MIT, believes the ongoing death of “middle America” has sparked the emergence of two countries within one, the hallmark of developing nations.

In his new book, The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy, Temin paints a bleak picture where one country has a bounty of resources and power, and the other toils day after day with minimal access to the long-coveted American dream.

In his view, the United States is shifting toward an economic and political makeup more similar to developing nations than the wealthy, economically stable nation it has long been.

Temin applied W. Arthur Lewis’s economic model – designed to understand the workings of developing countries – to the United States in an effort to document how inequality has grown in America.

The parallels are unsettling. As noted by the Institute for New Economic Thinking:

In the Lewis model of a dual economy, much of the low-wage sector has little influence over public policy. Check. The high-income sector will keep wages down in the other sector to provide cheap labor for its businesses. Check. Social control is used to keep the low-wage sector from challenging the policies favored by the high-income sector. Mass incarceration – check. The primary goal of the richest members of the high-income sector is to lower taxes. Check. Social and economic mobility is low. Check.

Temin describes multiple contributing factors in the nation’s arrival at this place, from exchanging the War on Poverty for the War on Drugs to money in politics and systemic racism. He outlines the ways in which racial prejudice continues to lurk below the surface, allowing politicians to appeal to the age old “desire to preserve the inferior status of blacks”, encouraging white low-wage workers to accept their lesser place in society.

“We have a structure that predetermines winners and losers. We are not getting the benefits of all the people who could contribute to the growth of the economy, to advances in medicine or science which could improve the quality of life for everyone – including some of the rich people,” he laments.

The antidote, as prescribed by Temin, is likely a tough sell in today’s political climate.

Expanding education, updating infrastructure, forgiving mortgage and student loan debt, and overall working to boost social mobility for all Americans are bound to be seen as too liberal by many policy makers.

Until the course is changed, he warns, the middle class will continue to fade and America will remain unsustainably divided.

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This is so very true we live through this everyday we are two families living in travel trailers trying to make it work check out my blog

Mark I get where you're coming from . Personally our biggest problem is the corporate takeover of America . Free markets are the answer . Your broke but make a damn good burger can you open up a stand ? Hell no ! Burger king might lose $ . And lets not forget taxes & licensing all paid to corporations . Its funny how the Hispanic can get a cart and sell whatever food stuffs they want but your 8 yr old American child can't have a lemonade stand without paying the piper . Seems they turn their heads when immigrants brake "laws" . More divide & conquer tactics . Just because you pay a criminal organization for a license does not guarantee that someone didn't spit in your food . We need free markets and the ability to choose who gets our $ . Being a libertarian I reject the notion of asking permission to do business heck I reject asking the corporate thieves for permission for anything.

Such a long diatribe and all it describes is a cliched right-wing talking point treatise with nothing but fantasy to support such tired arguments and the usual absurd simplification of rampant free market capitalism vs communism, and one wonders in what ivory tower do YOU live?

If what you say were true, European countries would be at the bottom of the list of 3rd World countries due to the fact that their governments make health care and education affordable, while not pissing insane sums of money on military industrial complex overkill. Haven't we enough nukes already to obliterate all life on earth?

Can you cite one successful example in the history of civilization whereby a society simply depended on everyone to become successful on their own? Ayn Rand proved the myopia of libertarian utopia long ago when she fell fatally ill and depended on the government for her Social Security and Medicare benefits, yet her most staunch supporters aim to wipe those programs out.

Calling the social safety net communistic is sheer ignorance as is blaming it for the demise of the middle class, when, in fact, it all started when a B movie actor became president and imposed what George Bush at the time called "Voodoo Economics," the same trickle down tax slashing insanity that has again happened because the filthy rich Koch Brothers, who inherited their daddy's fortune made in Soviet Russia blackmailed the GOP-controlled Congress to vote on the even greater tax-slashing bill of our latest grossely unqualified reality TV star president, who inherited his fortune from his daddy and who is a puppet of Russia.

The fools who tossed away their money on Trump University are the same as the millions who buy into such fantasy, while people saddled with outrageous student debts, medical and pharmaceutical bills and who haven't been born into affluence will never be saved or motivated by tax cutting which will end up on their shoulders again the next time a too big to fail bank needs a bailout. Trump has scammed on this country with the tired bankrupt ideology people like yourself still buy into but it never has and never will work and most Americans have figured this out.

I am a disabled individual who tries to work as much as I am able. I work and strive for that elusive American Dream and you know what it's gotten me? Poorer and poorer no matter what I do. Every time I try to make progress the system shuts me down. The only people who say that you can "pull yourself up out of poverty if you work harder" have never had the experience of true poverty. I am not talking about being a little late on a bill or having to rearrange your stocks. I am talking about systemic forced poverty so that the lower class can stay where they are and be a good low-wage working force to further the rich. The poor are always the target and heaven forbid they get some assistance so they don't starve to death. Right wing war mongers, the ones who want to arm the teachers, the ones who take health care from the disabled, elderly, children and babies...the ones who thing trump is awesome because he is rich and sits on a gold toilet tweeting insanity..those that would keep all the poor from making it in any way they can by opposing any and all aid that would help give a step up so those who were born with less or no pluses in life could perhaps start a little business or something. You know why people don't just go "out and buy a little cart if they can make burgers?"

Because you have to have money to buy a cart, you have to have money to do advertisements, you have to have money to buy the food and supplies. If you are living on subsitnance how can you even start anything when you have nothing to start it with and are busy starving to death????

Because of this sick society I owe over 20,000 dollars in medical bills, haven't seen a dentist in years, have not had a car in a decade, can't afford food many times, have to pay to work because of forced poverty via social programs and their elitest attitudes and meanwhile have to take the abuse of rich, white people in power who like to put us down???

AND I get to see YOUR president and my nightmare walking in and adding more stress to us b/c he has never had to work hard for anything in his life? can just borrow money from daddy to buy that burger cart right??? This society makes me so fucking sick!!!!

"two Americas (famous Obama campaign line)"

Nope. Two Americas goes all the way back to the Kennedy Administration, when Michael Harrington (who wrote the BOOK The Two Americas) advised him and later Johnson on the War on Poverty.

Your utter lack of knowledge and understanding about what you say reveals the typical ignorant arrogance of the PWM misogynist right-wingers-- now TERRIFIED b/c their unchallenged control of society is, finally, coming to an end.

Oh, to have the confidence and privilege of a mediocre white man in the USA :O

LOL

The greatness of our country came from a balance between capitalism and social
programs. Look at the great results of the GI Bill. Look how Social Security and Medicare alowed our seniors to live well in their old age. No one wants to stop capitalism. Yet when capitalism works as planned workers lose their jobs from productivity inprovements. What good is it being wealthy if you have to walk over other Americans? People like you don't care for the middle class, so why should they listen to you. The conservative working class will find out soon enough that your promises just didn't pan out.

All of this started long ago, but it was Bill Clinton that took the Democratic party to the extreme right. Clinton exploited racism and bigotry in the working class to get policies of hate passed against the poverty stricken with welfare reform (no reform at all, it was gutted) and the crime bill, the new Jim Crowe, putting minorities and poor whites in prisons for profit. Then came NAFTA, that hollowed out the manufacturing base of America, taking 55,000 plants and 600,000 + jobs with it. He also repealed Glass Steagall, deregulating banks that led to the 08 crash... Funny Democrats just voted to do the same with Dodd Frank setting us up for the next inevitable economic collapse. Then Bush and the faux war on terror. We find the terrorists. Bush was a psychopath and the nail in the coffin to America with endless war for which Obama continued against five more countries. He also expanded the police and security state, removed more of our, privacy rights, civil rights. The man who won the Nobel Peace prize, dropped 30, 723 bombs in 2016. He also cut food stamps eight times, cut housing assistance and the program for hearing to help low income Americans pay their heating bills in winter and summer time. Whatever is left of the safety net, Trump NEOLIBERALS and neocons will gut. And Russiagate, initially to cover up Democratic party primary rigging and election fraud has now turned into manufacturing consent for war against Russia. Th US elite gives not one damned about us. And if we do not wake up soon a third world war will meet us our end. War has go us 22 trillion in debt with the DOD missing 8.5 trillion more....wake up. Not much time left. Read global Research.. great site to understand what is going on and free from corporate media propaganda

Everyone's opinions are very interesting here. I remember in 1950, growing up with my grandparents in swampy land, Florida, they had very little money. But, because they could go fishing in local streams, grow their own food, make their own clothes, raise their own chickens, have their own fruit trees, have a little piece of land, practice their own medicine with herbs, i..e, self-sufficient, they had good lives. Now most of those streams are polluted or on private property. Not everyone wants to be rich, this was never an American dream until Reagan. I feel Americans are not educated. Look at the Amish, I always say that they will inherit the earth because they are in community and can take care of themselves.

PS: We never had a gun, even though we lived out in the country next to an alligator-infested creek.

"Two Americas" was John Edwards' campaign slogan. I don't recall Obama uttering that phrase.

My experience as a woman hasn't been much better. Always working hard and getting paid shit wages. Even had employers cheat me on pay more than a few times in various unhanded ways. Have three degrees, but couldn't find work after the "Great" Recession. Lost everything, my savings, my tiny little IRA and, apparently my right to ever have another full time job even at the low end of the scale.

And I know what you mean about how the social programs treat you like crap, like when I was studying to be a home health caregiver through the state. Hard physical work, low pay and horrid employee relations.

We've been killing off our Middle Class for 40 years now and creating millions of poor. Poor peeps make good slaves I guess. I sure wish we'd stop putting up with this shit tho . . .

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ABOUT THE PAST AND FUTURE OF IMMIGRANTS

Often, the children of immigrants, even of legal immigrants, suffer the slings and arrows of the crippling discrimination visited upon their impoverished parents. No race, no color, no national origin, no educational level, nor any other criteria, could ever justify their suffering. I have seen this firsthand. No employment, means no income; no income, means inequality; inequality, means poverty; and poverty, far too often, means suffering that feeds and thrives on itself.

Given the inordinate nature of presidential power, the world, more than ever, is at a tipping point, at the brink of recovery or conflagration, because of rudderless leadership and the potentially explosive problem of inequality. God help us all.

(edited)

And, my folks were like that, only they were in Vermont. Our families did okay during times like the Depression, because back then, families stuck together. Everyone contributed to the welfare of their family--even the smallest of children. . .they even had chores, even if it was just holding the basket as grandma collected the eggs from the hen house for that mornings breakfast.
In the 70's when I was a kid-I was taught from an early age how to grow food, how to take care of animals, how to cook. So many people today have never been taught these things. Most families today cannot afford to have a parent or grandparents stay home with the children to teach these basic lessons, that are going to be sooo important to know in the next few years.
Those of us that know these things, are going to have to teach the others. If we don't--they will die. And I really don't want that on my hands.

How many errors am I permitted in my next 22 lines. Hopefullly, at least as many as Kay54, beginning with the ludicrous notion that Bill Clinton took the Democratic party to "the extreme right." Were you there in Chicago in 1968 when Democrats laid open their intellectual abdomen and bled to death with the Vietnam War as the backdrop? It was Clinton who was able "to get policies of hate passed against the poverty stricken with welfare reform?" Who is it who doesn't understand Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, insisting that it forced adults in "welfare families" to work? In fact, millions of welfare recipients -- adults who had lost their jobs or their job skills, as well as their children who were being marginalized in school -- were able to advance their education and employment talents by satisfying what you call "the work requirement." Follow those discussions with clarification and conclusions on the many other mischaracterizations herein -- crime bill, prisons for profit, NAFTA, Glass Steagall repeal, faux war on terror (within weeks after 9/11/2001, expanded police and security state, removal of privacy rights/civil rights, Obama's eight cuts in food stamps/housing assistance/heating assistance, neoliberals and neocons gutting "the safety net," rigged Democratic primary elections, Russiagate . . . Some may think they can't live long enough to reach rational conclusions on these issues, but I don't think it would take long go do so.

"Two Americas" was a stump speech from John Edwards in 2004, not Barack Obama in 2008, though the roots trace back 40+ years as you noted.

Welfare reform helped millions of Americans to come out of poverty into better situations. Previous welfare systems and incentives were hurting people and everyone knew it, but the 1990s welfare reform did a lot of good to improve people's lives.

Except the American people who applied!

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