Your typical wage is below what it was in the late 1970s, in terms of what it can buy. Two-thirds of you are living paycheck to paycheck. Almost 30 percent of you don’t have steady employment: You’re working part-time or on contract, with none of the labor protections created over the last 80 years – no unemployment insurance if you lose your job, no worker’s compensation if you’re injured, no time-and-a-half pay for working more than 40 hours a week, no minimum wage, and you have to pay your own Social Security. Over 37 percent of you have dropped out of the workforce altogether because you’ve become too discouraged even to look for work. That’s a near record. As if all this weren’t enough, the schools and infrastructure on which you rely have been neglected, and the ravages of climate change – droughts, fires, and floods – are worsening.
Yet the American economy is twice as large as it was in the late 1970s. As a nation, we are richer than we’ve ever been. We could afford to do so much better.
None of this has happened by accident.