America’s Accidental Prosperity

The United States was the grand winner coming out of World War Two. The nation’s manufacturing capacity had supplied much of the weapons to the allies that cause them and us to defeat the Axis powers— the arsenal of democracy America was called. Then following the horrific conflict, because the rest of the world was either devastated by war or still too backward, American industry held a monopoly on supplying a worldwide demand for manufactured products of every description.

It was a time when the needs of Wall Street and Main Street were perfectly in sync. Corporate profitability demanded that it employ millions of average citizens at very good wages, blowing up a huge middle class bubble. But then finally the universal law of probability balanced kicked in. By around 1970, as other nations manufacturing capability recovered, America lost its atypical advantage and the country’s mechanized might commenced a long decline, and with its industrial decline came an erosion of the great American middle class.

One of the flaws of capitalism is that corporate needs and national needs are not synonymous. A corporation can, and will, go anywhere on the face of the globe that is beneficial to its bottom-line. Thus by outsourcing once high paying American jobs to low wage countries, Corporations continued to pile up huge profits while average American workers pay either stagnated or was entirely lost, leading to exponentially expanding wealth inequality.

This has generated in American what has been termed the new poor, a particularly volatile segment of society that by having somewhat recently experienced prosperity is furious in having lost it, a part of society intensely susceptible to a demagogue’s promising rhetoric.

Politian’s did not create the accidents of history that produced the American prosperity bubble in the first place, but when Donald J. Trump says, “He will make America great again,” there is a huge audience desperate to want to believe him. Unfortunately neither the Donald, nor any other politician, has a magic wand that can recreate the complex set of forces that made America king of the hill in the mid twentieth century. Chalk that bonanza up to a grand accident of fate.

Jim Ridgway, Jr. military writer — author of the American Civil War classic, “Apprentice Killers: The War of Lincoln and Davis.” Christmas gift, yes!

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