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The hydrocarbon middle-class family

Saturday, Aug 30, 2014 02:00 PM PST

Cataclysm in suburbia: The dark, twisted history of America’s oil-addicted middle class
How the same things that contributed to the rise of the middle class are also now leading to its downfall
Robert O. Self


Houses, cars, and children. For a century, they have defined the family economy, and they have driven the national economy. They organize our lives and shape our debts.

Their presence all around us seems so natural, and they are so tightly bound together in how we measure personal milestones and record family stories, we can forget just how recent and fragile their combination is, historically speaking. Developments in the last decade have served to remind us.

When the housing market and the automobile industry crashed between 2007 and 2008, signaling the onset of the Great Recession, two pillars of the national economy crumbled simultaneously. American households lost $16 trillion in net worth, and the federal government rescued major banks and automakers, to ward off an even greater collapse.

That shock came amidst the slow burn of the decades-long flatlining of blue-collar and pink-collar wages, and a mounting college affordability crisis. By 2013, working-class wages had not grown meaningfully against inflation for 40 years, while the average individual’s college debt had climbed to just below $30,000. Children, whether from the laboring or professional class, no longer imagine they’ll do better than their parents.

When President Obama promised to “build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class” in his 2014 State of the Union message, he as much as admitted that such ladders barely exist any longer.


Anyone watching "An Honorable Woman" ?

I watched ep. 1 and other than their HORRIBLE timing, it looks like it will be a great mini-series..

It's on Sundance
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