- More people than ever sell their expensive motorcycle (second vehicle)
- More people buy a cheaper vehicle in stead of an expensive vehicle.
- People drive less kilometres / miles for pleasure 'cos driving costs money.
- A shop has to sell more and do more efforts to keep business up to date.
- Dousaines of shops had to close their business the last couple of year.
But I've observed the last decade how more and more working people have to live on a increasing income, what had nothing to do with the recent economic crisis. It is structural. I remember long before the crisis how logistic activities in the hospital where I work (part-time), were sold-out to an external firm. The workers were fired and immediately re-engaged (if they wanted),... with a cut in their salary.
About Eastern Europe :
During my travels through Eastern Europe, it shows that life is somewhat cheaper than in Western Europe. Not much. An example was the lady that rented me a room in Hungary. She explained me about the average Hungarian income. Her husband worked across the border in Austria and had a typical Western European middle class income. She got an extra income with her bed & breakfast rooms. But some working Hungarians still had to live with an average income of roundabout € 400 / $ 450 a month. That is not even enough to rent a small apartment ! So poverty is structural there. There is almost no middle class to impoverish.
Consequences, a nurses observation :
Two decades ago, a trained nurse could become chief of a team. It was not even necessary to have a higher degree (bachelor). A decade ago, the nurse had to get a second specialize bachelor degree (like me). And today, the nurse that gets the job is the one with an university degree. So, the consequence is that higher educated nurses get jobs that went to lower (also above the average) educated 20 years ago. The "simple" bachelors get no chance to take responsibility. And what about those with only a lower scholarship? They find it harder to get a job because their job went to someone with a higher scholarship. Talent is no longer enough. Papers do the job.
In Europe we speak about a lost generation. Those who came out of school the last decade without a (higher) degree. This discourages youngsters to do something back for the society that they live in. A dangerous evolution and "gefundeness fressen" (a manipulable group) for those that have lesser good intentions. Or a group of individually angry young men who follow no guidance at all.
So long middle-class :
An article was published in the American newspaper New York Post with the title : "So long middle-class. 25 statistics prove that the middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence in America. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer at a staggering rate."
How can you find out if you are one of those middle class people who are at risk to become (relatively) poor?
- You live paycheck to paycheck?
- You don't (or little) contribute to retirement savings?
- You have little money saved up for retirement.
- You need to postpone your retirement for financial reasons.
- You earn roundabout $10 an hour.
- You (independent) think about filing for personal bankruptcy.
- Your earnings have not followed the growing cost of life the last time.
It is my belief that in order to keep (non-suppressed) order, people need to live in a relative amount of financial and/or logistic comfort. The last decades remind me of the description that I heard from my grand-father (30 years ago) about the 30ties of the 20th century. He predicted that the "thirties" (economic crisis and growing poverty) were about to show themselves again.
How could this simple brewer have so much wisdom?
Will we see the economy reboo(s)ts in order to make our capitalist system survive?
I have no problem with capitalism and economic liberalism as long as the freedom to make money respects "the individual right to have the opportunity and the tools to make the best out of a life". (This is genuine Liberalism as I understand it!) In a capitalist society, enough money is to be the tool towards comfort, not the goal in life. What and when is enough?
I'll buy that for a dollar.