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Middle class in U.S. loses more ground to nation’s top 1% | Free

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It may be a touchy subject for some but it was disappointing a few days ago to find out that our country’s middle class now has a smaller share of U.S. wealth than the top 1%.

According to a Bloomberg News story the middle 60% of US. households by income saw their combined assets drop to 26.6% of national wealth, the lowest figure in Federal Reserve data going back three decades. And the super rich, for the first time, had a larger share at 27%.

I looked up the word “capitalism” and one definition I found was “a system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.” I read quite a bit more about capitalism and found that listed as one of the disadvantages of capitalism was “a disproportionate distribution of wealth.” 

There are great stories about people rising from being very poor to becoming very rich, perhaps because of an invention that changed their lives. And we also hear that the chance is there for everyone if they just make the sacrifices and work hard. Unfortunately, that’s not true. Not everyone can rise from being very poor to being very rich. Many who have experienced success, and better-than-average wealth, did so because their parents, or perhaps a grandparent, provided them the cash to do so, or passed on a business that was doing well. There’s nothing wrong with that but it’s a fact of life that it can’t happen for everyone.

Check out what  defines the middle class. Economists, the Bloomberg story said, include 77.5 million families that make about $27,000 to $141,000 annually, that figure based on Census Bureau data.

Isn’t a bit ridiculous to classify those who who have a difference in income of $114,000 as being in the same class? Without seeing the breakdown I’d guess there are way more in that 60 percent of households that are closer to $27,000 in family income than $141,000. Let’s say the family income is $70,000. That’s still a long way from $141,000.

The top 1% represents about 1.3 million households that make roughly more than $500,000 a year out of a total of about 130 million households. The Bloomberg story said: “The concentration of wealth in the hands of a fraction of the population is at the core of some of the country’s major political battles.” That’s turning out to be true.

I get it. Just because someone has a business that is doing well, they aren’t required to pass on some of that wealth to its employees, although there a few companies around that share their wealth much more than others. And in this time of the continuing pandemic, the wages have gone up in some areas because of a shortage of workers. Still, those kinds of changes haven’t led to wealth for those whose wages have risen. 

Over the past 30 years 10 percentage points of American wealth has shifted to the top 20% of earners, who now hold 70% of the total, according to federal data. The Bloomberg story noted that a generation ago the middle class held more than 44% of real estate assets in the country. It has dropped to 38%.

The spiral downward will likely continue for those in the middle class, especially those in the bottom half of what is called the middle class. Many of those families hold what the story called “an outsized and growing portion of nonmortgage consumer debt, which typically comes with higher interest rates.” And when those families see the ridiculous salaries and benefits accorded many CEOs, you can understand why they think the system is not fair. 

The PHS boys soccer team (10-3-2) won the Mississippi 8 conference title this year for the first time ever, beating Monticello 4-3 last week in a meeting of unbeaten M8 teams. The team had an 8-0-1 record in its last nine games of the regular season. On Thursday of this week the team, as the No. 2 seed in the section, was supposed to play Zimmerman but the game was moved to this Saturday at noon . . . Dalvin Cook has become the Minnesota Vikings’ version of Byron Buxton. Cook has been a great player for the Vikings  – when he’s available. He’s a good guy, says the right things, and plays hard. But he’s played in only 66% of games the Vikings have played with him on the roster in five years. Running backs do get hurt but Cook has been out a lot. He played in only four games his first season and has never played in all 16 in any season. This year, so far, he’s played in three of the six and one of those was a partial game. In 2019 and 2020 he rushed for 1,135 yards and 1,557 (111 a game) and scored 29 touchdowns in those two seasons, while also catching 97 passes those two seasons despite playing in only 14 of the 16 games each season. This year, so far, he has only 226 yards rushing and has scored one touchdown. Not criticizing him – he plays hard, just like Buxton does when he’s available.  But he misses a lot of games. The Vikes are a different team without him. Does the team want to give him a big contract? He’ll be 27 when next season begins. It sounds as though he may play this week . . . If you were a fan of PHS football in the late ’60s and early ’70s you’ll remember that Ron Stolski was the coach. He was here six years and the first year in 1965 the team was 2-5-1. After that his record in Princeton was 30-10-3 and included was an 18-game unbeaten streak back in the days before the state began a playoff system and before there were overtimes to break ties. Stolski left in 1971 for Park Center, a new high school in the Osseo district, and stayed for four years before moving on to Brainerd to become football coach and athletic director in 1975. The rest is history. He coached there for 46 years before retiring after the 2019 season and ended his 58-year coaching career with 389 victories, second-most ever in Minnesota, with a winning percentage of 68%. Last Saturday I attended a retirement gathering fork Stolski in Brainerd that had been postponed a year because of COVID. There were hundreds there, including some from Princeton, Park Center and Kensington (his first coaching job was there in 1962), and there were a number of speakers, including Chet Stevenson, a PHS grad and All-State tackle who went on to be a starter at North Dakota University for three years. Chet, a guy I’ve known for more than 50 years, ended up coaching with Stolski for more than 40 years and retired at the same time. He, as well as most of those who spoke, talked more about the whys and wherefores of the program than they did the number of wins. Also on hand were George Larson, head coach at Cambridge for many years and his longtime assistant Jerry Carlson. Larson and Stolski were fierce rivals in the Rum River Conference and later in the Central Lakes Conference. His Brainerd teams played in 11 state tournaments, won 10 section titles, finished as runner-up in 10 section finals, and won 15 conference championships. He’s in eight halls…

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