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What’s Wrong With These People؟

According to the CBS post-‘debate’ snap poll “Obama edges Romney in second debate”

Poll of 525 uncommitted voters
Margin of error: ± 4%

Who Won the Debate?:
Obama 37%
Romney 30%
Tie 33%

Directly answered the questions he was asked:

Obama 55%
Romney 49%

Would do a better job helping the middle class:

Obama 56%
Romney 43%

Would do a better job on the economy:

Obama 34%
Romney 65%

How can some of these people say that Obama will do more for the middle class, but Romney would do a better job on the economy? If the middle class isn’t doing well, neither is the economy, because the middle class is the core of the economy. We aren’t going anywhere because there is no demand, and there is no demand because the middle class is losing ground and can’t afford to buy things.


1 paintedjaguar { 10.18.12 at 11:56 am }

“the middle class is the core of the economy”

Is this still true, really? It’s kind of a chicken-and-egg thing, but it seems to me that even before the program to grind employees and destroy the post-WW2 broadened middle class really got rolling, business marketing was on a course to sort consumers into 1. well to do and 2. everybody else. Remember how back in the early 80’s it seemed as if every business in the U.S. was chasing the “upscale market”? Soon enough, middle-class giants started falling to more downscale operations: Sears -> Grants -> K-Mart -> Walmart. You might say that the supply parts of the middle got hollowed out in tandem with demand. Lately, of course, even WalMarts and Dollar Stores are taking a hit from reduced spending. Could be that we are even further along the road back to a Gilded Age class structure than people realize.

Does this have anything to do with your poll results? Maybe what I’m saying is that “aspirational” marketing had something to do with getting us to where we are — middle class just wasn’t good enough any more. Isn’t Romney’s whole campaign basically a re-run of the 1980’s idolatry of rich “entrepreneurs”? Generations have now grown up on that brand of propaganda. It doesn’t surprise me that people’s thinking about class and economics should be deeply confused.

Somehow, it seems meaningful that the roads are full of shiny luxury SUV’s but I don’t see the equivalents of the VW bus or International Scout — functional goods made to last. On the other hand, maybe I’m just suffering from old man’s nostalgia.

2 Bryan { 10.18.12 at 5:23 pm }

PJ, without a middle class you can’t have capitalism, it just doesn’t work, which is why we had the meltdown.

The biggest shift occurred when the gamblers… err … financial advisors conned people into using their homes as an extra source of income to hide the drop in their actual income and to take away most people’s one real asset. Almost everyone bought into the fairytale that home prices would always go up, so using the equity in your home to cover monthly expenses was no big deal. That was the equivalent of a goose laying golden eggs, or a perpetual motion machine. The middle class assumed that they could live beyond their income based on the increasing value of their homes. When the bubble burst they were in major trouble and deep debt.

The people at the bottom don’t have the economic power to influence the market, and the people at the top don’t actually buy a lot of stuff – they already own everything.

We are seeing the end game of supply-side economics. Economies need both supply and demand to function, and the supply-siders have destroyed demand.

3 paintedjaguar { 10.18.12 at 7:39 pm }

What, you don’t think we had capitalism in the 19th century? Sure there was a middle class back then, but it was a whole lot smaller and more differentiated from the working class than what we usually think of. I’m often reminded while watching pre-1950’s movies that in addition to security and life choices, middle class used to imply having servants. A lot of people who in more recent times thought of themselves as “middle class” never really were.

For myself, I’ve never been convinced that capitalism is a sustainable system, middle class or no. Note that I also don’t accept that enterprise and capitalism are one and the same, but all that is getting far afield.

Anyway, the point is that there was a lot of psychological groundwork done to make it possible for Reaganism to take hold, and although I can’t prove it, I think there was a lot more going on there than just the erosion of raw demand. The rot goes deeper than that.

4 Steve Bates { 10.18.12 at 8:15 pm }

PJ, forget the “isms” for the moment…

A market economy IS demand: if you have demand, you have a viable economy, and if you don’t, you don’t.

If you place extra money in the hands of lower- or middle-class people, they will spend it promptly; there’s your demand.

If you redirect the same money to the upper class, corporations and banks, they’ll sock it away (quite possibly offshore) waiting for better economic conditions instead of employing people to make widgets and gadgets to sell to lower- and middle-class folks.

In a pinch, i.e., in a serious recession/depression, the government, which has the option to print money, can serve as the demand source of last resort, to “prime the pump” as it were: the government spends money it doesn’t (yet) have until the normal cycle of demand is underway again, then in better times, taxes its way back to something resembling a balanced budget. Keynes taught us that.

A balanced budget IS NOT A VIRTUE in times of recession! This is what the conservative idiots have seen fit to hide, because it’s always good for their base… the obscenely wealthy… even in a depression.

5 Bryan { 10.18.12 at 11:41 pm }

Actually until late in the century most Americans were middle class in today’s meaning, it was the working class and the upper class that expanded at the end of century. It was a much purer form of capitalism with buyers and sellers negotiating directly, more often exchanging goods in a barter system that using cash.

At the end of the century you had the rise of the trusts, cartels, and other forms of monopoly that rapidly increased the size of the working class at the expense of the middle class, but government finally got so outraged that they reined in some of the worst of the excesses and passed the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

The 1% don’t like being regulated and they are constantly arguing that they have learned their lesson and won’t do it again, so the Congresscritters accept their ‘campaign contributions’ and give them free rein again, and they go back to their customary looting of the economy.

Under capitalism the banks would have gone bankrupt, but the government saved them and, so, the rest of the economy suffers.

Iceland let them go bankrupt, threw the bankers in prison, devalued their currency, and are well into recovery. The rest of us are still struggling, having covered the bad decisions of the financial markets.

6 paintedjaguar { 10.19.12 at 11:26 am }

We don’t disagree, guys, except perhaps about what is or isn’t a “viable” economy. Unfortunately, history tells us that an oligarchy with a large portion of the populace living in miserable conditions can chug along for a good long time. And those oligarchs didn’t have the propaganda/marketing power that our oligarchs do.

7 Bryan { 10.19.12 at 12:18 pm }

You got it, PJ. If the government doesn’t start acting to help the middle class come back, we are in for a very tough future.