Restoring the Great American Middle
It’s time to face the facts. The 21st-century economy has generally favored a small segment of society: the wealthy and well-educated at the top. College graduates earn 80 percent more per week than those who graduated from high school alone. Median salaries at Facebook, Alphabet (Google), and Netflix, each firm stocked with Ivy League graduates, all vastly exceed $150,000. These high earnings translate into lifetimes of wealth-building and consumption. But people who work with their hands haven’t reaped the rewards of the information economy.
That’s no coincidence. This economy was made by the people who profit most from it, our leadership class of C-Suite executives, big banks, big tech, and D.C. policymakers.
But in places like the one where I grew up, the good-paying jobs are moving overseas or south of the border or maybe to cities on the coasts. And once-vibrant towns decline, taking with them the network of neighborhoods, schools, and churches foundational to middle class life.
The crisis is as much social as economic. The American middle is battling an epidemic of loneliness and despair. Fewer young people are getting married or starting families. Drug addiction is surging. The opioid menace has ravaged every sector, every age group, every geography of working people.