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States of Emergency: The Object of American Studies

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Ear to the Ground

What’s Left of the American Middle Class Now Earns Less Than Their Canadian Counterparts

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Posted on Apr 23, 2014

    Living in America is starting to feel like a bad game of Monopoly, in which the winners are taking it all and leaving us with worse than nothing. woodleywonderworks (CC BY 2.0)

We were recently told that America is no longer a democracy. Now, it should come as no surprise that The New York Times recently discovered that our middle class has fallen from being the world’s most affluent, while our lower income folk make less than their European peers.

But not to worry if you’re among the 1 percent—America’s rich are far ahead of everyone else in the rest of the world. If this isn’t enough evidence that the U.S. is now run by shameless oligarchs who care only about lining their pockets while the rest of us struggle, I don’t know what is.

The New York Times:

The numbers, based on surveys conducted over the past 35 years, offer some of the most detailed publicly available comparisons for different income groups in different countries over time. They suggest that most American families are paying a steep price for high and rising income inequality.

Although economic growth in the United States continues to be as strong as in many other countries, or stronger, a small percentage of American households is fully benefiting from it. Median income in Canada pulled into a tie with median United States income in 2010 and has most likely surpassed it since then. Median incomes in Western European countries still trail those in the United States, but the gap in several — including Britain, the Netherlands and Sweden — is much smaller than it was a decade ago…

The findings are striking because the most commonly cited economic statistics — such as per capita gross domestic product — continue to show that the United States has maintained its lead as the world’s richest large country. But those numbers are averages, which do not capture the distribution of income. With a big share of recent income gains in this country flowing to a relatively small slice of high-earning households, most Americans are not keeping pace with their counterparts around the world.

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—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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