The end of World War Two coincided with the bouncing baby birth of a thriving American middle class. Most Western Europeans born after the Second World War were weaned on the canned products of the American entertainment industry.  Many in Europe aspired to reach American living standards and to share their abundant confidence upon which it seemed the sun would never set. What happened?

As did the Soviet Union and Britain, America reaped the rewards of its shared military victory over National Socialist Germany.  Apart from pillaging everything in Germany that couldn’t be nailed down, the U.S. government had during the war taken possession of many British possessions. Indeed, Wall Street had virtually financed Churchill’s war against Hitler’s Germany. Paying the debt off would take ten times as long as the war had lasted. It seemed the American middle classes could be assured of a lifestyle equalled only by Sweden, Luxembourg or Switzerland. Many must have thought the good times would last 1,000 years.

The United States biggest export since has been American jobs. Most manufactured goods, as in the case of the United Kingdom, were subcontracted abroad. There was no way the affluent white- and blue-collar classes could compete with the far lower-paid employees of Far Eastern workshops.  According to U.S. Representative Betty Sutton, America has lost an average of 15 manufacturing facilities every day over the last 10 years. By 2010 this figure had reached 23 factories a day.

The haemorrhage of lost jobs coincided with a rate of inflation. This outstripped growth in wages and tens of millions of once comfortably off Americans sank below overwhelming debt.  Since 1971 consumer debt has risen by 1700%.

The number of claimants seeking financial assistance from government agencies has not spiked yet, it has much further to go. Today, more Americans fell into poverty than has been recorded since the great recession of the 1930s and the trend is accelerating. Then, the recession ended on the day America entered World War II. Will a war against Russia ease the economic woes of the United States?

Living costs across the board have risen astronomically. The American tourist is an endangered species though many entrepreneurial Americans are making a good living elsewhere in the world. If you think the economies of Italy, Greece and Spain are depressing then you will identify with America’s problems. Only 55.3% of United States citizens between the ages of 16 and 29 are employed. The working population of the U.S. is 240 million but 100 million of them are unemployed.

Since 2000 many millions of middle-class Americans have learned to adapt to a hand-to-mouth Skid Row existence. For those who like statistics, according to the New York Times, 100 million Americans are either living in ‘the poverty zone’ or what is known as ‘the fretful zone.’  We call it nail-biting; it is what you do when the bills landing on the doormat exceed your income.

As so often when it is every man for himself the elderly and the young suffer most. 34% of elderly Americans live in or near poverty; 39% of children live in equal distress. Another casualty is the U.S. housing market. As recently as 2006 the housing stock was valued at 22.7 trillion. Since then, $6.5 trillion disappeared.

Many former iconic manufacturing cities such as Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Dayton in Arizona now resemble ghost towns. Mile after mile vandalised, shuttered commercial buildings; their epitaphs scrawled in graffiti. These cities’ populations have shrunk by 50% and 18.9% of homes lie empty without much chance of a buyer.

Ironic perhaps that today the world image of the United States is not that of a carefree middle-class lifestyle but a buoyant arms industry that reduces other parts of the world to resemble something like today’s Detroit. 


About the Author

Michael Walsh

Michael Walsh is the author of over 70 published book titles. He has also ghost-written (book edited) over 40 books, novels and biographies for writer clients. He offers professional help for writers: editing of website content, books, novels and marketing content. You write it HE rights it.

Michael Walsh is available for Freelance work – contact links below

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