For the first time in a very long time, the children of middle-class Americans can expect a lower standard of living than their parents. … That great consolidation [of companies merging and being taken over, leaving fewer retailers say] in the economy has meant relatively fewer jobs in the middle and upper management ranks of American business and in the professions.
That’s something that has gone completely unnoticed. In the 1980’s, going to a top-25 law school meant an upper-middle class life, even for the slacker. If you could not cut it at one of the elite firms, you were going to land in regional or local firm, where you could expect a comfortable life. There is a now a great consolidation in the law that will accelerate in this decade. Not only will the number of spots in the elite get smaller, but the next levels down will disappear entirely.
Another area where this will happen is higher education. In a way, higher education has been a relief valve for the children of the top-10%. Those unable to get into elite law schools or cut it in the law of finance, could land a comfortable life in a university either as an administrator or professor. …
What we are seeing is something no one worried much over in the 20th century and that is the collapse of the upper-middle class. The focus was always on the working class and the great solid middle. While the working class has been obliterated as a social unit, the middle-class has struggled on. Where there is a crisis is in the upper middle, the class of people who served as the staff for the ruling class of American society in business, the professions and politics.
The great consolidation at the very top, is going to mean a great consolidation in the class that serves the top. In a world of ten thousand local guys like Jeff Bezos, there was demand for ten thousand top assistants. In a world of one Jeff Bezos, there is only one aid and maybe a support staff for that top man. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it reveals just how much damage consolidation at the top does to the next strata of society that exists to serve the elite.
There is another consequence to this great consolidation. The children of professionals, who are unable to find a spot in their class, tumble into the next class. This changes that class. The radicalization of the white middle-class we see happening is due, in part, to this consolidation.
All over in dissident politics are men who would have been in management tracks, partner tracks and tenure tracks. Instead they are working outside that system and exercising their minds in dissident politics.
This will have consequences. One way of viewing the revolutions set off by the Enlightenment is that they were the result of idle smart people. The American Revolution and the French Revolution were led by smart fractions. In a world of global oligarchs, where the smart fraction is coalescing outside the ruling fraction, the result will be increasing social unrest. The great populist revolt of the past decade is probably just an appetizer for what lies ahead in the new world order.