I have been giving presentations around Ventura County on economic issues. These issues often decide elections, but few people understand them. Crucially, one did.
Donald Trump told people he would make Yuuge Money for them. This is called an economics message. At rallies at airports he posed in front of his Boeing 757 boldly marked “TRUMP.” This is called marketing. Sadly, Hillary Clinton had pathetic marketing and ignored Bill’s maxim, “It’s the economy, stupid!”
There were other reasons Trump won, such as his lies, his pandering to Nazism and racism, his saturation coverage by the media, low voter turnout and the idiotic behavior of F.B.I. Director James Comey. The 80,000 voters who tipped the balance were in the Rust Belt. Interestingly, nearly all were impoverished whites, making economic and social issues coincide.
As my presentation is aimed at the average Joe Blow, I call it Coffee Bar Economics. It considers real-world money for real-world people. I have taken it to a union and five Democratic clubs. Leading Democrats have said that it is “stellar” and “excellent” (shameless plug). Here follows a three-part synopsis.
People are shocked when they learn how far Americans have fallen behind. The average person is just getting by. The median personal income last year was a miserable $31,100 (Federal Reserve).
Another shock is how much incomes at the top have skyrocketed. The top 1 percent now earn as much as the bottom 50 percent of the entire nation (World Inequality Report). America’s inequality is worse than in the Great Gatsby’s days.
The cause of this is the separation of wage growth from productivity growth due to workers’ sharply reduced bargaining power. Someone paid $50K a year is now being cheated out of $25K (Economic Policy Institute). Based on average productivity, that person should get $75K.
America’s greatest economic problem is its low wages. How so? Another word for workers is “customers.” If you read business magazines you will find that they talk about customers rather a lot. Of course; they keep those businesses going: The higher the wages (productivity permitting) the better all businesses do.
Wealth inequality is even more staggering. This refers to your net worth, or savings and investments (your “stash” or “loot”). In 2017, the top 0.1 percent (a tenth of one percent) had as much loot stashed away as the bottom 90 percent of the entire nation (Business Insider). The bottom 9 percent have nothing. A broken taillight could land them in jail and wipe them out.
Next, we look at cold hard numbers from the cold hard world. Courtesy of the 2017 Global Wealth Report from Credit Suisse, here is a list of Joe Blow’s median personal wealth in certain countries. Norway’s numbers shown below includes $190K for each citizen’s share of its unique Sovereign Wealth Fund.
NATION US $ % RICHER
Iceland 444,999 8.0
Norway 320,543 5.7
Switzerland 229,059 4.1
Australia 195,417 3.5
Italy 124,636 2.2
France 107,865 1.9
U.K. 102,641 1.8
Canada 91,058 1.6
Korea 67,934 1.2
U.S.A. 55,876 1.0
Greece 54,665 N/A
For crying out loud, WE ARE SCARCELY BETTER THAN GREECE!
Notice the success of Democratic Socialism in Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. Bernie Sanders wants it for America.
We were once the envy of the world. “There was once a time in America when you could work 40 hours a week, your spouse didn’t have to work, and you retired at 60 with a pension” (Nick Hanauer, billionaire). What went wrong?
Is China to blame? No. In the global economy, other countries also contend with China. Between 1985 and 2008, after inflation, wages grew 220 percent in Denmark and 194 percent in Germany, for example. But in the U.S., Joe Blow’s wages grew a microscopic 0.47 percent. How so?
Conservatives redesigned America’s economy to benefit the wealthy (“crony capitalism” or “socialism for the rich”). There were three ways: 1.) Reaganomics; 2.) badly executed free trade; 3.) abysmal industrial policy. Reaganomics is also called “trickle-down economics.” George Bush Senior called it “voodoo economics.” The numbers above are clear proof that he was correct.
Purely as a silly question, Republicans, why are citizens in Australia 3.5 times richer than here? And Canada, 1.6 times? Put this to Rep. Steve Knight (R-Simi Valley) and watch him wriggle.