One can view the previous decade in the United States as a history lesson. Here's the abbreviated timeline.
Housing Bubble (2004-06)
Financial Meltdown (2007-08)
"Great" Recession/Painful Aftermath (2009-13)
Consolidation of the New Normal (2014)
And what have we learned?
Yesterday's headlines explicate the lesson.
The Perpetual Bubble Economy (New York Times, April 2, 2014)
Want a thriving labor market? Blow a bubble.
The big idea is that — absent extraordinary intervention in the economy through fiscal policy, monetary policy or both — growth and employment will prove lackluster.
That has been true since the late 1990s for the United States, Mr. Summers said, and appears to be true for other advanced economies as well. When it comes to strong, healthy, self-sustaining growth, “we have not done it in 15 years. The Japanese have not done it in a generation,” Mr. Summers said. “It’s been a long time since it happened in Europe.”
[My note — In the stock market, the Bubble Era began in 1995, so it has been 19 years.]
Caps on Total Campaign Giving Voided by U.S. High Court (Bloomberg, April 2, 2014)
A divided U.S. Supreme Court struck down decades-old limits on the total amount donors can give to federal candidates and parties, dealing a fresh blow to efforts to curb the role of money in American politics.
Voting 5-4 along ideological lines, the court today said the caps violated the speech rights of Shaun McCutcheon, an Alabama Republican official seeking to give candidates, parties and political committees more than the $123,200 maximum. It was the court’s biggest campaign-finance decision since its 2010 Citizens United ruling allowed unlimited corporate spending.
Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, called the decision “another step on the road to ruination”...
“It could lead to interpretations of the law that would result in the end of any fairness in the political system as we know it,” he said in a statement.
More Americans see middle class status slipping (Associated Press, April 2, 2014)
WASHINGTON (AP) — A sense of belonging to the middle class occupies a cherished place in America. It conjures images of self-sufficient people with stable jobs and pleasant homes working toward prosperity.
Yet nearly five years after the Great Recession ended, more people are coming to the painful realization that they're no longer part of it.
They are former professionals now stocking shelves at grocery stores, retirees struggling with rising costs and people working part-time jobs but desperate for full-time pay. Such setbacks have emerged in economic statistics for several years. Now they're affecting how Americans think of themselves.
Since 2008, the number of people who call themselves middle class has fallen by nearly a fifth, according to a survey in January by the Pew Research Center, from 53 percent to 44 percent. Forty percent now identify as either lower-middle or lower class compared with just 25 percent in February 2008.
UPS Fires 250 Drivers After They Protested A Coworker’s Firing (ThinkProgress, April 2, 2014)
Two hundred fifty employees of the United Parcel Service (UPS) walked off the job for 90 minutes in February to protest the firing of one of their coworkers, Jairo Reyes. Reyes had driven for the company for over 20 years, and they felt his firing (which occurred after a complicated saga over the hours that senior UPS workers could hold) was unfair.
This week, all of those employees were given a pink slip, New York Daily News reports. “They just called me in … (and) said, ‘Effective immediately, you are no longer on the payroll,’” one UPS employee told the outlet.
Twenty employees so far have been let go from the Queens branch that staged the walkout, UPS spokesman Steve Gaught confirmed to ThinkProgress. The other 230 have been given notices of termination with the understanding that they will be be let go when replacements are found for them.
“We take the commitments that we make to customers for delivery as a high priority, and whenever we can’t count on the workforce to complete their jobs it negatively effects customer demands,” Gaught said.
UPS workers are unionized under the Teamsters, and UPS alleges that the protesters not only delayed package delivery for customers, but also violated their union contract. Gaught invited the Teamsters of Local 804, where the workers were fired, to appeal the termination under contract rules. But the union insists it already has.
Few will acknowledge it, but with the Consolidation of the New Normal, 2014 turns out to be a very important year in American history, for it is the year the American Experiment failed.
Let us quote Thomas Jefferson.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government...
We have new masters now, in the Imperial Capital and the places where the Rentiers live.
And we have new colonies which go by various names—Montana, Arizona, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Wisconsin, etc.
But there is no new Declaration of Independence on the horizon, and no one to lead a revolution of The People. And why not? Quoting Jefferson, all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
For a brief time after the Financial Meltdown of 2007-08, there seemed to be an opportunity to put America back on the right course. But everything that happened during the "Great" Recession and its Painful Aftermath told us our new masters would never permit that to happen; they would never do the Right Thing.
Their consolidation of power occurred with the passive "consent" of The People, who are more inclined to suffer while evils are sufferable than to rise up against those who oppress them. Indeed, who among us keeping up with the Kardashians could be said to suffer?
In the sense I've discussed today, it doesn't matter much what happens in United States from now on. Things will get worse of course, but the game is over. We know who won and we know who lost.
The historical lesson is complete.