Posted by: coastcontact | July 15, 2013


It’s a French word meaning “The class of industrial wage earners who, possessing neither capital nor production means, must earn their living by selling their labor.”  In Marxist theory they are the class of wage-earners, especially industrial workers, in a capitalist society, whose only possession of significant material value is their labour.

The Congressional Budget Office has issued a report saying that the lowest earning 20% of Americans have seen their income increase by 18% since 1980.  The highest earning 1% saw their earnings increase by 275% in the same period.  At the same time the number of middle class families declined.  Those middle class families have become even poorer.

From the CBO report:

The share of income going to higher-income households rose, while the share going to lower-income households fell.

  • The top fifth of the population saw a  10-percentage-point increase in their share of after-tax income.
  • Most of that growth went to the top 1 percent of  the population.
  • All other groups saw their shares decline by 2 to 3 percentage points.

In other words the proletariat has increased in numbers even as the richest became even more wealthy.  The reason?  The outsourcing of manufacturing, along with increases in technology, has reduced labor requirements.  America just does not need as many middle management workers.

The social issue is the question, how will we feed and support a society that offers declining opportunity for those who lack technical skills? Most people recognize the question but neither private enterprise nor government is prepared to discuss the issue.

Monopoly Man

Perhaps the majority, by their behavior, are saying, “Who cares?  The stock market is up, my house value is up and cars are selling well.  So what’s the problem?”



  1. Very well written. In my own opinion, the only way to combat this and create a better economy, is to increase the min wage to at least 12 dollars an hour and have it tied to cost of living. That isn’t really enough, but it would be enough to insert needed money into the economy, thus driving the demand for new hires. We also need to offer free re-training in the jobs that are needed and to insure that our children are not left with life-crushing debt from college educations. In my state, they are pioneering the -pay it forward- tuition, and hopefully it will work as stated. There are many answers and just as many questions, so in the end, its just good that finally people are talking about it.

  2. The report delivered to Flaherty showed the income of Canadian middle-class families did not grow as fast as other income groups over the last 35 years, with male workers in middle-class families having seen “little wage increases” since the mid-1990s.

  3. The squeeze on the middle class is also causing difficulties when it comes to saving money for retirement because of decreased real incomes and increases in consumer prices. In 2007, 1 in 3 American workers said they hadn’t saved at all for their retirement and of those who have started saving, more than half claim to have saved less than $25,000. There has also been a shift in employer retirement plans, with a shift from traditional defined benefit pension plans to 401k plans, in which there is no individual guarantee about the amount of retirement income that will be available.

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