ROMNEY WORDSWORTH – Welcome to the New Normal: Scarce jobs, fewer stores, a disappearing Middle Class, and single family homes are the new luxury item. You think this would be headline news in the mainstream media, but it isn’t. It is obliquely referred to by Presidential candidates, but not the specifics. Are you awake, or are you still sleep walking through America’s collapse?
Let’s look at the symptoms. America’s retailers had a catastrophic Christmas season at the end of 2015. As a result, a tidal wave of store closings are planned for 2016. These include the following laundry list of closures:
500 McDonald’s restaurant stores. To be fair, McDonald’s problems stem more from their rancid plastic and chemical laced imitation food that never spoils, than problems in the economy. McDonald’s is in the cross hairs of an ever growing health conscious public awakening to the dangers of GMO laced food products.
400 Office Depot and Office Max stores. When demand for office supplies plummets, this is a sign of thousands of white collar jobs disappearing, and thousands of small office based businesses disappearing. It’s a sign of a shrinking private sector, pure and simple.
223 Barnes & Nobles (through 2023). Barnes & Nobles is the last man standing among the brick and mortar bookstore chains. Many stores are making a sizeable chunk of their daily earnings from their subletting to Starbucks, rather than selling books. These closings are due to a combination of less disposable income, less reading among Millennials, and losses of sales to online behemoth Amazon.
200 Children’s Place (through 2017). I’ve never been to a Children’s Place, but I can assume that declining birth rates means a declining need for such “places”.
200 Walgreens (by 2017). Demand for prescription drugs is higher than ever, so its hard to ascribe these store closings to anything other than a disappearing middle class, and disappearing wealth to spend on medicine.
175 Aeropostale clothing stores (over the next “several years”). Aeropostale has been a regular fixture at most shopping malls I’ve been to. Sky high rent, and I never seem to see anyone actually in there buying anything. I was starting to think Aeropostale was a front for an elaborate tax write off scheme, but it seems even this franchise can’t defy the laws of economics forever. Another sign of shrinking disposable income.
154 Walmarts. See my prior column on Walmart’s receding tide across America.
150 American Eagle Outfitters (through 2017). Everything I said about Aeropostale applies to American Eagle, although I did actually buy some sweaters from them, back in the 1990s.
150 Finish Line stores. Call them finished, as in stick a fork in them.
120 Chico’s stores (through 2017). What’s a Chico? I’ve never seen one of these stores.
100 Pier One (through 2017). The houseware version of Aeropostale. Laughably overpriced glassware, china, and such, it is the canary in the coalmine that even the upper middleclass just doesn’t have the disposable income to spend that it used to have.
74 Ovation Brand Restaurants (various buffet chains). High overhead food retailers with high rates of spoilage and loss. Eating out is one of the first things cut from household budgets that can’t make ends meet.
70 Hancock Fabricks.
54 Golf Galaxy. When America’s affluent don’t have money to spend on golf, you know things are bad.
36 Macy’s. Another American retail icon going down in flames. Maybe they should have kept selling the Trump clothing line.
35 Gap and Gap Kids. There was a time when owning a Gap Store was like owning a goose that laid golden eggs. This is not a reflection on the clothing they have to offer, but the inability of Americans to be able to afford to buy new clothes.
30 Hartstrings. They have gone completely out of business.
20 Pick ‘n Save (by 2017). No matter how poor you are you still need to eat, even if you have to rely on food stamps. So what does it say when even food stores can’t stay in business?
13 Max & Erma’s
7 JC Penny. Same story as with Macy’s.
5 Hallmark. Where will we get our funeral cards from when America finally dies?
There are many more stores on the closing list for 2016, but I’ve made my point. Each store not only represents a lost private sector business, but a dozen to dozens of jobs with each closure, adding to the ever mounting rolls of the unemployed. Each of these stores had numerous suppliers, who now in turn have less business, and need less employees; and so it goes in ever expanding concentric rings throughout the economy, like a stone thrown into a pond.
What is America’s entrepreneurial class doing? They are leaving. As Elder Patriot noted recently, American’s renouncing their citizenship have gone from a steady average of about 500 people a year before Obama, to around 4500 people a year and rising, an increase of 800%. Recently PJ Media offered a satirical look at what the first 100 days in office would look like under a Bernie Sanders presidency. It went something like this:
“On his 100th day in office, President Bernie Sanders went to Joseph Stalin International Airport in Washington (formerly Reagan International Airport) to plead with the last American billionaire to not leave the country. His appeal failed. President Sanders nevertheless vowed to continue his programs of free healthcare and free college tuition, and a national $30.00 minimum wage. These will be paid for by taxing America’s newest wealthiest class, those making over $30,000.00 a year.” In other words, the Middle Class.
A Single Family Home was once considered a staple of the American Dream, along with a car that was less than 2 years old, a stay at home wife, and 3-4 children and a dog. It meant you were doing better than your parents did, and made you a part of the largest Middle Class history had ever seen. Today, for the first time in the history of America, the Middle Class constitutes less than 49% of the population. The ranks of the very rich, and the very poor, are growing, while the Middle Class is evaporating. With the Middle Class goes everything that made America, America. In its place is a lack of economic mobility that was the hallmark of the Europe our ancestors fled from. When the Middle Class is gone, we will be left with a Neo-Feudalism of the .1% and a vast underclass of desperately poor Serfs. That’s Obama’s transformation of America!
Today, half of Americans who don’t own a home say that it is because their finances can’t afford one. Despite relatively low mortgage rates and a precipitous decline in existing home prices, home ownership continues to elude more than half of the Millennial Generation, and the reason is not a secret: No Jobs! A record 104 million Americans of working age are either unemployed or underemployed. In a nation of approximately 350 million, that represents a true unemployment rate of around 28%. It is the 2nd Great Depression that the Palace Guard Media refuses to report honestly on, in order to protect Barack Obama. The official government unemployment number of 4.9% is a blatant lie, and a total joke if you are informed on the economy.
So if you want to know why Donald Trump appeals to such a broad spectrum of voters, it is because he is the only candidate who is credibly promising Americans the opportunity to win back the American Dream.