“Speaking of rabbit years, Councilman Lew Fidler thoroughly disapproves of Time Warner Cable’s CBS blackout. “Shame on all of you,” he declared at a recent hearing. “There is something wrong with all of you … Every time I want to watch The Big Bang Theory I have to put 50 cents into the pot? … No one has rabbit ears anymore!”
Actually, I’ve never been willing to spring for paid TV. Same with quite a few people I know. And Brooklyn has traditionally been the urban county where paid TV had the lowest percentage of the market. But that may have changed, because younger generations, who are poorer, are skipping cable TV (and auto ownership and homeownership) in droves to try to offset the economic and fiscal hand they’ve been dealt by Generation Greed. I guess you can’t expect those in politics, who are mostly in Generation Greed or insulated from the situation of those coming after, to get that.
Younger generations, who in the past might have been in the middle class, are in a three way vice.
First inflation-adjusted compensation continues to fall, and this can no longer be offset by having more family workers in the labor force, by not receiving future income in retirement, or by soaring consumer debts. That is a victory for the executive/financial class, which must now answer the question “who are you going to sell to, geniuses?” I’m still waiting for the answer. At the moment, the only answer is to have the federal government go deeper into debt on behalf of people who can no longer go deeper into debt themselves, selling our childrens’ childrens’ future, so the spending in excess of wages and salaries – and the profits and executive pay – can continue today.
Second the public services and benefits that once made the mass middle class possible, by allowing collective consumption of that which could not be afforded individually, are being taken away to pay for the political union class to enjoy more years in retirement on richer terms. Services like public libraries, public parks, public transit, public schools. If you can’t pay for it yourself and then some, forget it. Do without it. For the moment this is worse elsewhere, except for the schools, but since we already have the highest tax burden, continue to run up our debts and underfund those pensions, and more retroactive pension increases are a certainty, expect it to get worse here.
The third part of the middle class vice is that they keep redefining middle class up. By ‘they,” I mean the advertising industry, the industry that most shapes American values. Here is where younger generations have a chance to fight back. People didn’t have cable TV back in the heyday of the American middle class. Families had one car; younger and older people often had none. Houses were smaller, and two-family homes and extended family living were more common. Vacations were local – for New Yorkers the Catskills and other parts of Upstate New York, or the Jersey Shore – and did not involve an airplane. And people prepared their own meals from scratch, rarely eating out (no fast food).
I never went along with the upsizing of the middle class lifestyle. That’s one reason I chose to live in Brooklyn. Younger generations are worse off and can’t afford it that upsized lifestyle, but they can adjust. Cable TV isn’t a right, or even a need. It is absorber of excess money and time, for those who have it. But as the adjustments are made again the question – OK executive/financial class geniuses, who are you going to sell to? The political/union class can force people to pay or throw them in jail, even if less or nothing is provided in return. The executive/financial class has to con people, but they are tapped out.