The economy, the economy, the economy.
“Inflation inequality is hitting the working class harder than at any other time on record,” opined MarketWatch way back in April.
It is an opinion universally shared by members of the working class, who can’t remember a time they felt this helpless to stop a downward economic spiral from upending every aspect of their lives.
Rents are up- substantially; but buying a house has become all but impossible for average working-class heroes who once routinely aspired to such heights.
Used cars have become unaffordable. New cars, which were merely unaffordable before 2022, have suddenly become luxury items as out-of-reach as a yacht or private jet.
Within the ranks of the working-class poor in America, the outlook is dimming substantially.
Back-to-school, always a period fraught with economic peril for working-class families living paycheck-to-paycheck, was even more difficult in 2022.
In households with caregivers who work full-time- and have throughout the pandemic- concerns over whether schools will stay open and the costs of childcare should they not, compound the distress.
“Grocery prices in August rose 13.5%, the highest increase since March 1979,” groused Yahoo Finance in September. The higher prices at the grocery store haven’t exactly escaped the notice of working-class families on a tight budget, either.
Retirees on a fixed-income are watching their standard-of-living deteriorate as monthly stipends are stretched thinner and thinner by rising prices. Many of those nearing retirement have postponed joining the ranks of the newly retired, hoping no doubt to recoup some of the losses experienced across their retirement savings accounts and investments.
Still other retirees have returned to work, leaving a retirement newly made unaffordable by the unexpected extra costs inflicted by inflation, skyrocketing expenses, and fresh investment losses.
Americans, at retirement or otherwise, can hardly ignore the harsh new realities shaping Wall Street and shaking the foundations of Silicon Valley on a weekly basis.
Target posted a shocking drop in earnings recently, Apple is curbing hiring next year in response to economic woes, and Facebook/META is actually laying people off for the first time in company history
“Corporate Giants Are Massaging Their Earnings,” observed Bloomberg on September 28. “Recession Alert? The games number crunchers play can signal a deteriorating economy.”
For working-class Americans, the news that corporate giants are seeing a drop in earnings is no surprise: The working-class is struggling to make higher rents, pay higher utility bills, foot higher prices at the pump. They are barely able to afford more expensive groceries and goods, if that.
Those struggling to make ends meet don’t need the carefully-couched statements of corporations, or their corporate-owned media subsidiaries, to know they are spending less discretional income. There is less discretional income to spend, no earnings to “massage” there.
Touting low unemployment numbers and jobs recovered since the dwindling of Covid19, at least as it pertains to the official response to it, won’t cut it for long.
It would be one thing if the U.S. economy was already through the worst of the economic woes currently afflicting the nation; all signs, however, indicate this isn’t the case.
American voters aren’t stupid; they understand what happens in a downturning economy, or a recession, or whatever else media elites and Beltway insiders want to label it according to focus-group opinions on what sounds gentler to the likely-voting ear.
First, people stop spending money. Next, companies suffer losses. Then, companies look for ways to improve profitability. Since payroll is one of the largest expenses most businesses have to make every quarter, this is where most corporations turn first to cut overhead expenses.
Companies lay people off, they close locations which entire communities depend on for vital supplies and services, causing them to have to go much further, spend more, to get the things they need.
It’s a downward spiral which the working class poor understand all too well; where one important financial, foundational brick is pulled out, causing all the others to topple.
This new demographic of working-class swing voters aren’t opting for right-leaning politicians like Florida Governor Ron De Santis or Italy’s Giorgia Meloni because they love conservatives.
In fact, this new demographic isn’t voting for any political party or politician because they love anyone. They are doing so because they don’t love any political party, or politician.
They may envy the hard-core liberal Democrat’s unabashed love for Barack Obama or the MAGA Republican’s unapologetic love for Donald Trump. They don’t harbor any such tender feelings towards any politician, political party or elected official. At all.
As far as this new working-class median voter is concerned, Barack Obama ended up being the “war president” who tanked the economy and failed to deliver on meaningful criminal justice reform or much else.
Likewise, Donald Trump, for all the economic successes his administration achieved for the working class- including for the first time in a long time, actual wage-gains- ended up shutting the entire country down and growing the debt like there was no tomorrow. Which there wasn’t.
Elected officials from both parties contributed to the decades-long excesses of globalization which have gutted middle America and American manufacturing, perhaps permanently.
This in addition to allowing wealthy corporations to exploit cheap, unregulated labor in emerging nations which were, then as now, lacking adequate environmental protections; widening the wealth gap; and creating a 20,000-mile supply chain dependent on petroleum, tyrants, and forced labor.
The good news for Democrats in the U.S. and progressives around the world is that these new working class swing voters are not going to be loyal to the Republican Party or conservatives in general.
The bad news for progressives is that these voters aren’t loyal to the standard of the Democratic Party either.
They aren’t excited to vote for anyone; but they are anxious to vote against policies which are making their lives more difficult on a daily basis.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)