Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) ripped what he called the country’s “new aristocratic elite” for engineering the United States economy against the American middle class.
For his first major speech on the Senate floor, Hawley slammed the “big banks, big tech, big multi-national corporations, along with their allies in the academy and the media,” whom he said have created an economic structure in which they, the well-connected, benefit while the American working and middle class increasingly struggle to get ahead.
The chattering class often tells us that all of this—the jobs, the despair, the loss of standing—is the result of forces beyond anyone’s control. As if that’s an excuse to do nothing. But in fact, it’s not true. [Emphasis added]
Today’s society benefits those who shaped it, and it has been shaped not by working men and women, but by the new aristocratic elite. Big banks, big tech, big multi-national corporations, along with their allies in the academy and the media—these are the aristocrats of our age. They live in the United States, but they consider themselves citizens of the world. [Emphasis added]
They operate businesses or run universities here, but their primary loyalty is to their own agenda for a more unified, progressive—and profitable—global order. These modern aristocrats often claim to be a meritocracy. And many of them truly believe they are. What they don’t see, or won’t acknowledge, is that the society they have built works mainly for themselves. They’ve effectively run this country for decades. And their legacy is national division and national decline. [Emphasis added]
Defending the needs of the American middle class against a growingly powerful “aristocratic elite” is the “crisis of our time,” Hawley asserted.
“After years of sacrifice, the great American middle is being pushed aside by a new, arrogant aristocracy,” Hawley said. “The new aristocrats seek to remake society in their own image: to engineer an economy that works for the elite but few else, to fashion a culture that is dominated by their own preferences.”
“This town has embraced a politics of elite values and elite ambition rather than building opportunities to thrive in the great and broad American middle. This has left middle America—the great American middle class—under siege: battling the loss of respect and work, the decline of home and family, an epidemic of loneliness and despair,” Hawley continued. “This is the crisis of our time.”
Specifically, Hawley blasted multinational corporations for outsourcing American middle class jobs overseas — wreaking economic, cultural, and social havoc on rural and small town American communities in the process — and both political establishments for treating American citizens as mere consumers.
“In places like the one where I grew up, in middle Missouri, good-paying jobs that you can raise a family on are going away,” Hawley said. “The jobs go overseas or south of the border or to cities on the coasts. And once-vibrant towns decline, taking with them the network of schools and neighborhoods and churches that make up middle class life.”
Rural America has been particularly hard hit. Rural Americans’ life expectancy has not just leveled off, its actually dropped, and for women without a high school degree, that drop has been staggering. In some rural places, residents struggle with outright deprivation. [Emphasis added]
My home state contains some of the poorest counties in America, all in rural places that once boasted thriving small towns. As those communities struggle, want sets in. But the crisis reaches well beyond economics. [Emphasis added]
The message that Washington has sent our whole society is loud and clear: our elites are the people who matter—and those who aspire to join them. Everyone else is unimportant or backwards. And millions of Americans are left with the sense that the people who run this country view them with nothing but contempt and value them as nothing but consumers. [Emphasis added]
Indeed, working and middle class Americans have been hit the hardest from decades-long political consensus between the Republican establishment and Democrats. Recent research revealed that while coastal, elite metropolis cities have flourished in the last decade, small town and rural American communities have suffered depopulation, mass job loss, and continued economic strain since the Great Recession.
For instance, by 2016, elite zip codes had a surplus of 3.6 million jobs, which is more than the combined bottom 80 percent of American zip codes. While it only took about five years for wealthy cities to replace the jobs lost by the recession, it took “at risk” regions of the country a decade to recover, and “distressed” U.S. communities are “unlikely ever to recover on current trendlines,” the report predicts.
Economic growth among the country’s middle-class counties and middle-class zip codes has considerably trailed national economic growth. For example, between 2012 and 2016, there were 4.4 percent more business establishments in the country as a whole. That growth was less than two percent in the median zip code and there was close to no growth in the median county.
While America’s working and middle class have been subjected to compete for jobs against a constant flow of cheaper foreign workers — where more than 1.2 million mostly low-skilled immigrants are admitted to the country annually — the billionaire class has experienced historic salary gains.
A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that the country’s top 0.01 percent have enjoyed more than 15 times as much wage growth as the bottom 90 percent of wage earners. Between 1979 and 2017, working and middle class Americans’ wages grew by only 22 percent. On the other hand, the plutocrat class saw their salaries grow by more than 155 percent over the same period.
Likewise, free trade deals like NAFTA — supported by Republicans and Democrats — as well as China’s entering the World Trade Organization (WTO) has eliminated nearly five million American manufacturing jobs across the country, devastating steel towns and U.S. autoworkers. One former steel town in West Virginia lost 94 percent of its steel jobs because of NAFTA, with nearly 10,000 workers in the town being displaced from the steel industry.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.