This chart reveals why the rising GDP hasn't helped the middle class

Originally published at:


Also, notice how health care has outpaced even housing as the biggest expense in the U.S. But for American conservatives, single-payer universal is still “radical”…


Ha! The joke’s on you, I’ve got no car, no health insurance, and no way my kids are ever going to be afford to go to college. So I’m sitting pretty, suckers. And if the bank takes my house like they’re promising to, the gap between my shitty income and those ‘expenses’ is starting to look pretty good!

[note: not literally my own situation, in case anyone is good-hearted enough to worry about an anonymous BB commentor]


If we accept the numbers these guys have, the “bad times” were the 2000-2005 years, and the 2010-2015 years, whereas 2005-2010 despite being the global recession, were apparently the best 5 years for the last 30+ years.

It seems a lot like they are missing something, because that doesn’t match what most people subjectively feel recent economic history to be like at all.

The mission of the Manhattan Institute is to develop and disseminate new ideas that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility.


EDIT: reading through the report in detail, this looks a lot like some disguised trickery against socialised healthcare.

A variety of government programs, including Medi-caid and the subsidies available under ACA, now seek to close the gap between what insurance costs and what families can afford. The COTI ignores these for two related reasons. First, in principle, government provision is not a substitute for self-sufficiency. Part of what has historically defined the American middle class is the ability for a family to meet its own needs without resort to government benefits. Second, in practice, if families find themselves reliant on government support regardless of whether a household member is working at the median wage, the value of working declines, as does the rationale for forming a stable family supported by a worker.

and also

Basically this thing ignores government assistance, and so is designed so that redistributive policies make things worse…


Won’t one result of this be that the middle-class need to work longer before retirement, meaning there won’t be enough positions available for Millenials and beyond to advance into?


Comparing width on one side to width on the other:

  • Vehicle is mostly the same. No surprises there.
  • Housing has increased but not as much as I would personally expect (I’m biased as a millennial who never expects to own a home)
  • College has effectively quadrupled and thus adds to the problems here but is still not that big a part of the pie as …
  • Healthcare - holy god healthcare! It went from being the smallest part to being more than the sum of Vehicle and College!

At some point healthcare became a business school problem rather than a social need and we’ve been too scared to tell the biggest growth industry in this country that maybe charging whatever the hell you want is a bad idea.



[insert “citation needed” tag the size of the orbit of Neptune]

The chart makes a good argument, but hopefully someone who isn’t saturated with market-fundamentalist woo woo nonsense can put together an untainted version so no one has to link to this old shit.


For lots of us, our health insurance premiums are more than our mortgage payments. Lots more. And then you throw deductibles and copays on top of that. Yup, that’s the boogy monster. And yet it does not compute for so many people that eliminating those expenses would much much more than offset tax increases for M4A. Math is hard, I guess?

ETA borderline boomer/gen X, if it matters.


It’s interesting you bring up mortgage payments as I almost wrote a corollary bit about my generation’s inability to save for a down payment because of this exact chart. The weird bit of that being that I’m sure your healthcare costs are likewise much greater than mine. So you have a house and can’t afford healthcare and I have healthcare and I can’t afford a house.


THIS. I am so sick of conservatives bitching about “social/welfare” programs being funded by taxes and cite PBS and Sesame Street as the culprit of over spending.

When GE, Apple, Amazon, and Google are paying fuck all in taxes and Jeff Bezos is paying half at most (by percentage) than the rest of us pleebs in taxes…social programs aren’t the issue!!!

We could stop funding the military beyond operating costs for a long time and we would still have the best and most powerful military in the world.

We’re fucked…if the GOP continues to run things.


I think “median male income” is hiding a lot here. Inflation isn’t coming into it, “income” is probably based on salaries (rather than actual average household income), etc. So things can get worse than shown when inflation outstrips wages, when unemployment increases (because the average wages from a job don’t matter if you don’t have one), etc.


It’s been happening for years, especially after a lot of older Boomers who were planning to retire got wiped out in the 2007-2008 crash. That spooked younger Boomers into hanging onto their jobs as long as they could. (Gen Xers grew up with the assumption that we’d have to work until we dropped, but demographically we won’t have much of an impact on Millenials).


“the value of work declines”

That sounds great. How do we do that, again ? How do we begin to value our relationships and our lives over working for another’s power over me ?

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It’s a member of the State Policy Network, which drafts cookie-cutter legislation for Republicans in every state.


It predates that a little bit. People seem to forget but there was a serious economic slow down around 2005 to 2006, and a large spike in unemployment. Caused by a bunch of different things, including collapses in publishing and traditional media jobs and public spending cuts under Bush. And extended by an austerity spending response to it.

Basically you saw a bunch of close to retirement, very experienced public sector workers forced out of their jobs to cut spending on their pensions. The gutting of academia, and some other shit. At the exact same time as a a huge number of very experienced workers in the tech and media industries found themselves without jobs.

Just as the first runs of people with those huge student debts were finishing college, in an environment that had prioritized the exact jobs that had just gone tits up. There were huge gluts of newly graduated lawyers, tech workers, and a freakishly large number of people with finance and business degrees.

So if you (like me) were unfortunate enough to enter the just job market at that time. You found yourself missing out on underpaid, entry level jobs to people with 25 years of experience at a much higher level. Repeatedly. Leaving you with not many options besides service and retail jobs, unpaid internships and adjunct teaching jobs if you went the teacher route. And maybe freelance work if you were in media or tech.

Nearly every job I interviewed for around that time either went to someone who was way over experienced for the position, or disappeared thanks to “restructuring” after I’d been offered the job. And I can’t say I know anyone in any field who didn’t go through the same. I couldn’t even tell you how many people I know who were working for schools, towns and even the military who were unceremoniously dumped just before they hit some pension or salary qualification. And ended up greeters at Walmart, or piling into part time construction work.

That whole worst job market since the great depression thing started a couple years before the great recession. When the economy in total started to go tits up what happened to a lot of people is they either got stuck in the consolation job, or having just recently got something going the rug got pulled out from under you.

It goes a fair way towards explaining the serious wage stagnation among younger Americans. The delay in getting into the job market, or getting a toe hold on a career was much longer than just the recession would lead you to believe.


It’s not even math, it’s arithmetic - simple addition and subtraction.


I can only speculate, but the motives in presenting the chart in this way seem a bit suspicious. Would it not be less suspicious to stack the costs with the least inflated lowest? That is, from bottom to top: Vehicle, College, Housing, Healthcare. That would better show their relative inflation rates - approximately 2X, 3X, 3X, 7X respectively.

The current order visually obscures the most dramatic outlier: healthcare.


Ha! Based on the chart above, the longer you work, the deeper in debt you go. I’m quitting tomorrow so I can be debt-free!/s


I’m glad to hear that this is facetious, but you raise a good point. If a family is just below middle income at this point, it actually makes more sense to remain there as more services are available at those tiers which actually increase your quality of life more than a slight bump in pay would.

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