CHARLES HUGH SMITH
This erosion of a self-employed, independent middle class was an important pre-condition for the collapse of Rome and the French Revolution.
There are five primary drivers of this erosion in my view:
1. The shifting of pension and healthcare costs/risks from the state and employers to employees
2. The decline of scarcity value to labor in general and specifically in college degrees that were once the guaranteed ticket to middle class security
3. The inexorable rise in big-ticket costs: higher education, healthcare and housing. Even as wages stagnate, these costs continue rising. claiming an ever-larger share of household incomes, leaving less to save/invest.
4. The transition from an economy with stable returns to a financialized boom-and-bust economy that wipes out middle class wealth in the busts but doe not rebuild it in the booms.
5. The regulatory and administrative barriers to self-employment in a globalized economy.