Economics for the rest of us


In a recent Sojourners article by Shefa Siegal, the author discusses the shrinking middle class in the U.S. The author shares of the struggle to break back into middle class employment. It can be difficult to get your foot back into the door.

It can even be a challenge to find low-wage work, because being overqualified can be a disincentive for an employer: why hire someone who is just biding time until something better comes up.

“We are in the midst of epidemic institutional failure; people whose fate placed them outside of institutions when the collapse happened may never scratch their way back to security. This is a grim future.”

No doubt the coming election cycle will be filled with proposed remedies. In one corner will be the fairly uninspiring “it could’ve been worse” Democrats and in the other the back-to-Reagan, trickle down economics, with the magical formula that promises prosperity will follow on the heels of deregulation. Both playbooks, in my opinion, needs to be retired, especially for the aging Baby Boomer generation. Many younger voters and activists are increasingly turning to libertarian ideas or to movements like Occupy.

Unemployment is tough, but it can spawn creativity, people who can’t squeeze back into the system for a cozy office job might just try to find another way to make ends meet and do something they enjoy and feel called to do. With health care being so expensive and out of reach for most start up businesses, however, this can be a daunting task. Still, if the system can’t be patched up enough, the increasing numbers of people left outside of society’s prosperity might be forced to remake the system. There is still plenty of wealth. In many cases, businesses and banks are sitting on it. Maybe the collection of folks who find themselves unwelcome in our traditional economy will start to create their own opportunities and perhaps we can piece together a new system that completely leaves out the old economic power players: the government and big business.

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Jonathan Erdman

Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy, as the Executive Director of the Wrangell Mountain Center. When not in McCarthy, you'll typically find me in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, writing and working with local activists. My primary writing project right now is a novel set in remote bush Alaska, of the magical realism genre wherein an earnest and independent young woman finds a mysterious radio belonging to her grandmother, a device that has paranormal bandwidth and a disturbing ability to mess with one's mental stability.

One thought on “Economics for the rest of us”

Consider this post an invitation, an invitation to comment and collaborate ~ In Solidarity, JE

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