Tuesday, May 3, 2016

For Richer or Poorer

It's been uncomfortable for most of us with wages being stagnant and the middle class in decline.  The GAP widens. Coping has been difficult as jobs move overseas, skill requirements change, and folks are sidelined from the workforce.

For most of us, things haven't gone well.  90% of U.S. households
have lost income, but the top 10% has soared.
As difficult as it has been for us and our families, it's worse in many of the countries we've affected.  Like here, the middle class has crashed in most African countries.

   Between 2000 and 2007 Africa added 11.5 million to their middle class ranks, coinciding with the boom years of “Africa Rising”, and doing its part in adding to the massive global expansion of that period. In just two years, however, it shed 7.5 million of these. It was 2007-08, the recession Wall Street caused.  In the eight years since, Africa’s middle class has fallen by a further 3.2 million.   Ref: Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook 2015

The years 2007-08 were the brunt of the global financial crisis Wall Street gave the world; it squeezed the middle class and sent it scrambling for debt. The world and the middle class have yet to recover.  

The run-up to the recession was filled with purchased government decisions. Unethical and illegal practices followed along with failures of regulatory oversight and fraudulent securities classification, all things we now know.  If I farm the land, but I cheat my neighbor and he goes under, that makes me a crook.  If he starves, I'm culpable. I'm wrong, regardless of what excuses I might make.

Realistically, since what we do as a nation affects the world, we carry a measure of responsibility.  In the first year of the Great Recession, more than a million died.  For the poorest, when the price of corn meal doubled, they starved.  

Is there a way forward for us that at least doesn't do harm?  What kind of leadership would that require?  

For so many reasons, we have hope for a better world.  As annoying as change might be, it brings opportunity for improvement, does it not.

No comments: