Apres Nous, Le Deluge

Apres Nous, Le Deluge: In ref to NYT 6/15/15

The older generation is better off than any other age group, in large part because the stability of Social Security has given us all a floor upon which to float, rather than sink, in the economic tides. The extremely wealthy gained almost all of the recovery; seniors hardly. So, a class, the billionaire part of it, especially, siphoned off the good times, while the rest of Americans, with the exception of seniors, were the losers: flat or declining earnings, increased demands at work, including having no time of your own—the “flexible” labor market.

Seniors are not to blame for the declining standard of living of nearly everyone else—except for the very rich. We are only lucky that we have Social Security, and for many of us, yes, we were lucky in real estate, perhaps in investments, possibly in finding a part-time job to supplement Social Security and make possible a moderately middle class lifestyle.

We did not fund the “think tanks” that created the “conservative” agenda, although a regrettable number of seniors may have joined the resulting reactionary counter-revolution.

That money came from the same place as the money now flowing into the electoral system, through superpacs and all sorts of other “legal” ways to buy elections for elite interests.

One of those interests is to somehow persuade people they don’t really want Social Security any longer: it’s Government Tyranny. Huge majorities of Americans want to inherit it, however; they don’t want to jettison it; they want to expand it.

So, what does the the NYTimes article illustrate: “American Seniors Find a Middle-class Sweet Spot?
It isn’t that seniors have been greedy. So far, we’ve been lucky, Social Security and Medicare now and stable jobs in the past, and maybe even retirement pensions. That is what everyone should be getting. But everyone, not either very wealthy or a senior, took the brunt of the losses of the Great Recession and only the very wealthy gained far more than they’d lost, in the recovery. Flat incomes (in buying power) and loss of job security for the many, stability and modest gains for my generation, wildly inflated windfalls engorging a very few.

Bernie Sanders is hitting chords of discontent, and well he might. Most people, even the many who are gulled by Fox and Rush, can see only worse times ahead, not better, and yet we’re still a growing economy—one of the few in the developed world.

I once taught a political science course on Revolution. The dominant theme of all the revolution scholars was relative deprivation: good times followed by the immiseration of most, especially from the middle class, combined with a sharpening class divide from the very rich, was the proximate cause for many revolutions in the past.

It could happen here. I hope not. Radical reform is better than manning the barricades.