As solid as Sears? Well not so much. Sears announced today that it close one hundred Sears and Kmart stores after a dismal Christmas season. They still have 3500 stores and 3 billion available on their credit line so the dancing isn’t over just yet. Their real problem is that the middle class doesn’t have any money to spend. Even as the economy seems to be perking up the middle class continues to decline.
Sears used to be where the middle class went to pretend they were shopping at a big classy department store, they could feel like the carriage trade who shopped at the real high end stores. Now Sears looks kind of run down and can’t compete on price with the Big Box companies that dominate the China trade. Meanwhile the former middle class are shopping at dollar stores and those chains can’t expand fast enough.
The top 10% now account for nearly 40% of retail sales and the stores that cater to them are doing fantastic business. Increasingly the people doing the marketing don’t even consider anyone below the 80% line. Walmart does cater to the middle class, but their business plan doesn’t involve marketing so much as simply driving out the local competition. Even Walmart isn’t immune to declining sales however. As they spruce up their stores to attract former middle-class people who are on their way down to working poor status, Walmart‘s traditional base are going to the dollar stores to spend what little money they have.
What this economy needs is a 50% increase in the minimum wage, but the Republicans in Congress would burn the Capitol before allowing such a thing to happen. Before the colonists rebelled against the British East India Company (that’s how they spelled “Walmart” in olde English) the British had maximum wage laws, yes maximum wage laws.
Republicans aren’t shy about advocating for a zero minimum wage, they don’t need a maximum as they’ve learned how to keep wages from rising. By not enforcing the anti-trust laws for the last 30 years the Republicans have concentrated so much economic power that they already exceed the corporate brutality that the patriots shed their blood in order to drive it from America.
A lot of people will say that I’m over stating this corporate power and the danger is presents. Once the last social safety nets are done away with, making the poor really desperate, and the last regulations holding corporations back are voided you will see things that you only read about in Dickens or the dystopian writers of the 40’s. Once power is concentrated, those who did the concentrating never give it up willingly, and in fact are compelled to become ever more brutal to maintain the status quo. We have to “concentrate” the power with the 99% while we still can. www.prairie2.com