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July 5, 2011 2:39PM EST

Feel Like the Economic Recovery Passed You By? It Did

America has experienced recessions, and even depressions before, but has always rebounded. What's different this time? The answer is fairly simple: this time the recovery is being syphoned away by the very group who caused the recession. This time the recovery is being co-opted by those individuals and institutions who have been watching the recession from the bleachers.

America's national economy is struggling to eek out even meager gains, just to watch those gains disappear into the coffers of the wealthiest among us. Corporate profits are up by almost 50% since the recession ended in June 2009. Those profits are then distributed to corporate investors and stockholders. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has staged an unprecedented 90% rally since hitting rock bottom in March 2009. Those stock market gains go to the wealthiest 10% of Americans, who own 80% of outstanding corporate stock.

The vast majority of Americans, however, remain dependent upon ordinary wages and benefits. American workers' wages and benefits currently make up the lowest percentage of the national economy in the history of our country. After adjustment for inflation, the average American wage is 1.6% lower than it was a year ago. The average American worker wrestles with job insecurity, wages that haven't kept pace with food and gasoline prices, and staggering amounts of debt.

Unemployment is at its highest rate since the end of World War II. Those jobs being created are either being created someplace else, or they pay less than the jobs they are replacing. Any worker fortunate enough to still have a job, is in no position to ask for a raise or a promotion. Americans are becoming increasingly dependent upon government social programs to survive. A record number of Americans are now on food stamps.

The American middle-class is just about out of money. As a result, corporate America has decided to take its business elsewhere. There will be no parting gesture of gratitude, however, for our generations of productivity, loyalty and unrestrained consumption. For decades, we provided the labor to produce their merchandise, then used our wages to purchase their products. But we are no longer their target market. Now it's time for corporate America to go elsewhere to have their merchandise produced, and to create a new middle class to purchase their products.

Corporate America will ultimately dispense with dispatching legions of lobbyists to funnel rivers of money to secure favorable legislation from hand-picked state and federal lawmakers. Corporate America has little interest in owning the ruling class of a third-world nation. America stopped mattering the moment Americans stopped working, and lost their ability to consume. It's quite possible we will never matter again.

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