We’re Fragmenting Because our Experience of the Economy Is Fragmenting

You’ve probably seen some version of this chart of average household income in America before. (You may have seen charts of median household income as well; here’s an article on the difference between the two methods of measurement: American families are learning the difference between median and mean)

Here’s the data in table format, if you prefer: Household Income Quintiles.

The point is that there is an enormous difference between the average household incomes of the bottom 80% and the top 10%, 5% and 1%. It’s important to separate the various income brackets, as including the top households distorts the average. Here we see the average household income of the bottom 80% of households is around $50,000, while the average income of the top 10% (which includes the wealthy 1% and the super-wealthy .1%) is almost four times greater: $185,000.

You’ve probably seen a version of this chart, too, which shows that the real (inflation adjusted) income of the bottom 90% has gone nowhere for the past 40+ years.

While the mainstream wrings its hands over the political and social fragmentation that is visible everywhere, it ignores the economic fragmentation that’s the source: we’re fragmenting because our experience of our economy and society is fragmenting.

In the good old days of secular growth of everything–energy consumption, wages, profits, employment, government spending, consumer debt, housing construction, business investment and consumer spending–people in every economic class shared a common experience that the financial future of their household was improving.

The economic pie was expanding, and everyone’s slice was getting bigger–some more than others, of course, but there was enough trickling down to expand almost everyone’s share of the economy.

That is no longer true. Those in the top 5% live in an entirely different economy than the bottom 80%. If we combine the higher incomes with the rising wealth of the top slice of households, we get an even starker picture of fragmentation.

Those in the bottom 50% live in a different economy than those between 80% and 90%–households that are holding their own–and those in the top 10% that are seeing their income and wealth advance.

The top 5% and above live in a different economy than those between 80% and 95%, as they are seeing their wealth and income rise sharply, even spectacularly if they own the “right” assets and income streams.

Those with gold-plated healthcare insurance live in a completely different world than those with huge deductibles. Those on Medicaid live in a more secure world than those with marginal private-sector coverage.

Households with two secure incomes have a completely different experience of the economy than those with insecure incomes that fluctuate from year to year.

Those who own their homes free and clear have a different reality from those struggling to pay massive mortgages and property taxes.

Those enjoying ample pensions from their federal, state and county/city employment live in a different world than those scraping by on Social Security.

We live in an economy of haves and have-nots, and the ladder between those earning $2,000 a month and those earning $20,000 a month has very few rungs. The pie is shrinking for the vast majority of households, nibbled away by inflation (supposedly near-zero), higher deductibles, fees, taxes, fines, interest and on and on.

The technocrat and capital-owning class is delighted with the economy, and can’t understand why everyone isn’t prospering. Their experience of the economy is that’s it’s pretty darn amazing and wonderful.

This class dominates the state, the corporate media, the philanthro-capitalist non-profit sector, and the think-tank and academic sectors (I’m not rich, look at the dust on my BMW, Tesla, etc.). As a result, their cluelessness is the dominant narrative.

Our experience of the economy and of social/financial mobility has fragmented, and social and political fragmentation are the inevitable consequence. 

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  • Zartan

    Pretty Darn Good … NOT!

    People, 70-80,000-k, a year is not a lot of money. Hell, even 100k is just enough to be comfortable. These people ( most) still live on CREDIT and have ZERO net worth. I have learned that people cannot lean, unless they experience something for themselves. Those making Millions (or even 70-100k) can never understand what it is like to make 30k “a year” because it is beyond their ability. People have to learn by example.

    Those living on 30k, or less, should Strike: I equate it as the Biblical Death Wage. Yes, people you are all still Slaves!

    This is how capitalism WORKS. Master it, or it will Master YOU, America. If you do not strike it will only get worse!

    And, stop using credit you worthless SLAVES. The Romans invented Credit to make Slaves of Citizens. Life makes more sense, when you do some research, and learn just how bad it really is, people!

    • collette.robert@yahoo.com

      People are living on credit and you tell them to stop using credit. jewish logic, buy, buy, buy and then cry, cry, cry, like the beautiful jews

      • Zartan

        If you want to win a WAR, then you have to make Sacrifices. People without Discipline can only be Slaves. You do not have to starve yourself, Just stop buying unnecessary BS! This alone would be enough to collapse the economy if enough people participated and demanded change, they would get it. However, people who do nothing and complain will always be abused. The Elite Hate the Common and will purposefully Abuse them at will. The people have to learn how to fight back if they want Respect.

  • July 5, 2017 Dismal Data Sends Stocks Back To Highs But Bonds Ain’t Buying It

    Stocks “v-shaped” recovery off the lows, thanks to a good squeeze in FANG stocks, is blindly ignoring the tuymble in WTI crude, the drop in Treasury yields, and the weakness in USDJPY… And the bottom hit when the dismal factory orders data hit… So what happens next?


  • July 05, 2017 The global economy is grinding to a halt as Sears Canada is forced to close 60 stores and lay off thousands of workers

    More signs of an impending mass retail collapse are emerging, this time in Canada. According to new reports, struggling department store giant Sears is planning to close 60 stores throughout Canada, eliminating nearly 3,000 jobs in the process and setting the company on a track towards bankruptcy.


    • collette.robert@yahoo.com

      Sears is a racket. Boycott

  • Shiggity

    My two sisters and I are in that bottom 50% bracket. (All of us have student loan debt and are in precarious work right now.)

    I’m 31, they’re 30 and 26.

    My parents are in the top 20%.

    My parents now live in a bubble and still truly believe that good old hard work will pay off and anyone who isn’t getting ahead is lazy / stupid / irresponsible / childish.

    When I show them facts like this, they revert to nostalgia and will simply say, “It was hard when I was your age too.”

    They simply don’t want to hear the truth, they simply don’t want to accept how truly bad things are right now. From their perspective, everything is fine and if you’re not fine, it’s your own fault.

    • Gertrudesmckinney

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    • collette.robert@yahoo.com

      The older generation lived in a different time when we had destroyed the rest of the world and enjoyed full employment providing our manufactured goods to a world we had destroyed. Those are their ‘good old days’ “”” so, today with the rest of the world passing us by they continue to give us their ‘good old days’ line of crap after they snuck in at the end and ‘won’ WWII. Oh yeah, I’m 65 and mad as hell. They gave me 870 and I told them I wanted 3,006.

      • Melissaclee

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      • Teridfulton

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  • Zartan

    If you want a New Deal, America, than you have to take it to wall street and short the exchanges by Chaos and Protest. Let them experience loss and see how they like it? The bankers colluded with government to short sell your Industry and Manufacturing ( once these sectors go, all else follows) to Slave Labor Nations for Profit. You have to educate them, America. If you do not Profit, Why should they?

    When they see the DOW losing 1,000-pts, daily, they will change their tune. And, if they wait too long they get downgraded for political instability and will not be able to service their debt. If, you, America can show the discipline and unity to accomplish such ( you will need to assemble 500,000-1-million Protesters on Wall Street) You will own Government, Wall Street, and the NWO, Entirely!

    You have to Fight Back, or it will only Get Worse!

    Right Now, America, You are all Slaves owned by Wall Street!

    Your Founders would agree with me.

    • Share this with them and maybe they will view what they cannot at this present time.

      Mar 20, 2017 US Debt of $20 Trillion Visualized in Stacks of Physical Cash Showing stacks of physical cash in following sequence: $100, $10,000, $1 Million, $2 Billion, $1 Trillion, $20 Trillion

      The faith and value of the US Dollar rests on the Government’s ability to repay its debt. “The money in the video has already been spent”


      • Zartan

        Yes, and this is a good visual aid. I cannot rec posts because the software I am running blocks certain Java Script and I think ( not sure) that is the problem. The US government prints money and has stashes in warehouses all over the globe to do its dirty work. The US taxpayer has been shafted into paying the bills for this rogue nation of bankers and this must END.

        • collette.robert@yahoo.com

          Java, what a mook

      • collette.robert@yahoo.com

        Good thing the private Federal Bank of Isn’treal is going to eat it and then work hard for the rest of their pathetic sorry lives. Fk u gdm jus al th wa to he

    • collette.robert@yahoo.com

      Charge to the max and default. At least it will ‘stimulate’ the economy “””

    • animalogic

      I agree with you too.
      It’s not enough to “smash the infamy”. You MUST offer a positive vision & program.
      That program must be socialist. NOT the gutless, mealy mouthed “socialism” of a Syriza [sp?].
      It must be a socialism firmly based in militant Marxism. ANYTHING less will result in opportunism, temporisation, & defeat.
      We must admit the truth: between corrupt/moribund economies/democratic institutions, rampant Imperialism & climatic mayhem in the offering, we (the 90%) are in big trouble.
      Don’t be fooled: a mere “progressive” program will be compromised &
      co-opted by Elites — as it has been for 40 years now.
      Give Elites an inch — & they will have you in a McMansion or a grave in a blink of the eye (McMansion = Union bosses)

      • Zartan

        I agree.

        However, because people are so poisoned by propaganda and lost it will have to be kept simple for them or they will react in fear and run right into the bankers lap. Socialism and Marxism has been demonized beyond anything; and therefore, can be a hazard to employ. It is better to employ Euphemisms Like Freedom and Liberty!

        The Leadership of Such a Movement, will have Power, as Historical Examples Show: Mussolini did nothing except March on Rome. Mussolini installed Himself as Prime Minister. Marches and Protests Work. The People can be Militarized and that will be necessary. The Constitution supports it and arming them would not be hard.

        The US government can be Occupied. Senators/Congress can be replaced ( as a Demand) or Wall Street goes into the Abyss taking the US government with it;and therefore, they will opt for transition because International Bankers do not want to go Broke. They will put pressure on the US government to OBEY the people, or else? JUNK CREDIT! Sanctions … Worse! The entire corporate world will put the blade to the US governments neck. He who controls Wall Street Controls the World.

        A representation in government is a start, and from there, demands like Universal Healthcare , End of Foreign Wars, Basic Income, and the like can be Enforced. As soon as something goes bad, the troops can be assembled, and NYSE closes for business. This shuts down the WORLD.

        You only need a list of Demands, at first, than once you establish a party in government ( being a demand) power can be structured, secured and re-enforced. They will want to kill said leadership, for sure, but a “Wise Leader” has His Body Guard. The point, the US government needs to Know “any attempt” on leadership will result in the Death of the Elites. There will be nowhere to hide.

        • Zartan

          And, as for Security ( Body Guard Forces), there are plenty of Vets, who realize they were abused. And, It will also be necessary to have Black Ops, because nothing happens without FORCE.

          Again, those who Founded the Nation would agree.

  • collette.robert@yahoo.com

    You do great work but I do not support Facebook

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