you omit the fact that others, including post-secondary education and health care costs, have risen sharply relative to inflation.
You mean the part where people are spending more money to buy more and better healthcare? Yes, when you spend $6 to buy 8 gallons of beer instead of $4 to buy 3 gallons of beer, you generally do end up spending more.
Your summary of my argument was partially incorrect; I never said purchasing power has gone down.
You said that Americans aren't earning more money, and that they're producing more. The problem is the United States $47,000 median income in 2005 has become a $52,000 median income in 2015; and Americans are spending similar money on more-complex, more-advanced, more-useful things, as well as on just plain more. That's roughly-equivalent to the movement of the GDP-per-Capita.
You asked who's pocketing all this extra money, as if suggesting purchasing power has not gone up.
What people are able to do with the money they earn is irrelevant to the discussion, and only distracts from it.
What people are able to do with the money is practically a description of what money is.
Income comes from your labor-hours. Hours of labor go into producing a good--or many goods. If you and ten people making $10/hr all work to produce two toasters per hour, then we must sell each toaster for $50 to generate enough revenue to pay your base wages. Each of you works 2,000 hours each year, equivalent to 400 toasters. (In practice, we have to also pay payroll taxes, benefits, and operational overhead; and you take home less than your full wage earnings thanks to taxes.)
If I make $20/hr, I can essentially work 1 hour and induce you to work 2.
Productivity increases mean you and five other people making $10/hr work to produce two toasters per hour, and we only have to sell them for $25 each to pay your base wages. Each of you still works 2,000 hours each year, but that equates to 800 toasters. When that magnitude of productivity increase occurs sufficient to average across all the goods and services you buy, you find your same $20,000/year purchasing what $40,000 used to (deflation).
Inflation, of course, just raises prices sufficiently that you make $50,000 instead, toasters cost $60, and you get to complain about toasters being more expensive and talk about how they used to only cost $50.
In other words: the median income doesn't matter; what matters is what that income can purchase. That is the only thing that matters. That's what determines your standard of living--do you live like a West african bush tribe or like a European elite? Well, it depends on if your piles and piles of dollars buys a half a loaf of bread or a frigging jumbo yacht.
They're not earning $75,000
They're earning $52,000, as an average. I'm earning $75,000 and putting $18,000 into long-term savings, leaving $56,000--slightly more than the median. That puts me approximately in the same class, in terms of what I've been working with for finances.
They're begging for jobs that would earn them even half that, but those jobs are disappearing
We've been adding more jobs than labor force since 2010.
January, 2010: 129.802 million employed, 236.858 million labor-age population, 153.484 million labor force. 84.6% employed labor force, 54.80% employed labor age population.
January, 2011: 130.882 million employed, 238.727 million labor-age population, 153.263 million labor force. 85.4% employed labor force, 54.82% employed labor age population.
January, 2012: 133.265 million employed, 242.309 million labor-age population, 154.351 million labor force. 86.3% employed labor force, 55.00% employed labor age population.
January, 2013: 135.266 million employed, 244.757 million labor-age population, 155.666 million labor force. 86.9% employed labor force, 55.27% employed labor age population.
January, 2014: 137.574 million employed, 246.876 million labor-age population, 155.285 million labor force. 88.6% employed labor force, 55.73% employed labor age population.
January, 2015: 140.623 million employed, 249.642 million labor-age population, 157.025 million labor force. 89.6% employed labor force, 56.33% employed labor age population.
January, 2016: 143.314 million employed, 252.528 million labor-age population, 158.335 million labor force. 90.5% employed labor force, 56.75% employed labor age population.
From January 2010 (peak unemployment) to January 2016, we've gone from 84.6% employed labor force to 90.5%. We've moved from 54.80% of all labor-aged Americans (from age 16 up) having jobs to 56.75%.
In the six years since the peak of the recession, we've added 15.670 million to the labor-aged population; we've added 4.851 million to the labor force itself; and we've added 13.512 million jobs. The job add rate has been 86.23% of the labor force growth, while the labor force participation rate has ranged between 64.8% and 62.7%.
That means we added 8.661 million more jobs than labor force between 2010 and 2016.
For reference, when you're adding more jobs than workers, it means jobs aren't disappearing.
They don't want handouts. They just want a good day's salary for a hard day's labor.
False. They want security. They want their lives to be comfortable and safe. A regular job that doesn't destroy them with abusive workplace practices and unsustainably-low salary is a vehicle for that.
People have short memories. They forget the late-1800s protests and demands across the United States to reduce working hours from 10-16 hours per day, 6 days per week. They forget people working 80-100 hours every week, demanding 12 hour days from 6am to 6pm, 6 days per week, with 2 hours for meals (the 60-hour work week). They forget people then marching with the demand of 8-8-8, the mantra of 8 hours work, 8 hours leisure, 8 hours sleep, five days per week. They forget the arguments battered around in weeks or days or hours prior to now about being worked too much, being called off-hours, and so forth, while they waste their employer's time arguing about it on Slashdot.
I've even argued for 28-32 hour work weeks, as a potential opportunity from implementing my Universal Social Security. 3.5-day work weeks would be excellent.
People don't want a good hard day's labor; they want lives. The fact is society is built on productivity, which means you can't build it on hand-outs; if you could magic everything into existence, it would be ethically-wrong to make people work at all. Labor is an incidental need for a functional society--something people like Karl Marx have tried to fantasize away, but that's not happening any time soon, regardless of what people scream about automation on their off days.
There are many reasons for why that's unobtainable, though one of them is that consumers like you and me have demanded with our dollars that prices for goods and services get cheaper, which have driven many of these production jobs overseas to cheaper labor markers.
That's not a bad thing, in the long run. If we paid workers more than $18/hr to make men and boys's cotton trousers in America, then we would net-lose American jobs in total; if we paid them less, we would net-gain those jobs. America's labor force would eventually adjust (in about 5 years) to erase either the loss or the gain; meanwhile, at $21/hr (General Motors factory line worker wage) we'd face $50/pair for pants (reference: $14.97), while at $8.25/hr minimum wage we could get the price down to $25/pair--as you observed, the cheaper labor yields the cheaper price.
Notice that the $21/hr workers will be able to buy a pair of pants with 2.4 hours of labor, if they don't have to pay any form of taxes; while the $8.25/hr workers will be able to buy that same pair with 3.03 hours of labor. Fewer, more-wealthy laborers at $21/hr; more, poorer laborers at $8.25/hr. With trade importing MBCT from China, we're looking at the $8.25/hr laborer expending 1.81 hours of labor for a pair of pants.
Try not to fail economics when arguing economics.
No "hot tubs and hookers", as you put it. I don't actually recall complaining in my post that I'm spending all my money and wishing I had more.
You made the argument that, somehow, we're not getting any richer, even though we're getting more-productive. I pointed out that that's categorically bullshit: every American at every level* has experienced a steady, continuous increase in purchasing power year after year, thanks to both trade and technical progress. By arguing that this hasn't happening, you're ignoring every increase in purchasing power--every improvement in your standard of living and your ability to buy more and better things--and complaining that we don't have more. That is, taken out to its logical conclusion, a trend that eventually ends in being richer than Warren Buffet and still complaining that all this extra productivity has left you poor with nothing to show for all this supposed growth and some other (ridiculously-rich) guy (who owns three or four vacation moons) rich.
*(Conceptual-Americans, anyway. I'm sure some poor people became middle-class, and some middle-classers had bad luck and became poor; the point is that a certain distribution of standards of living exists, and that the Americans in these relative standards of living are experiencing higher standards of living and thus greater wealth than those classes experienced years and decades ago. Someone will eventually try to prove me wrong by reasoning that a homeless dude must have gotten a job somewhere, and that a respectable working man must have lost his job and become homeless, and so "every American" can't possibly be better off; you don't spend 10 years on Slashdot and Reddit without that happening a thousand times.)
This is the same kind of bullshit my parents argue about how everything was cheaper and more-affordable in the 1960s--when their parents made $4,700/year and spent $2,100/year on food. How spending nearly half their income on food was "more-affordable" is beyond me, but I suspect it has something to do with "candy bars were a nickel instead of $1.86". People are ludicrous.
I was enjoying your perspective and your argument, up to the insult at the end. Too bad you had to discredit yourself with it.
You discredited yourself by being wrong. You continue to discredit yourself by demonstrating an inability to think for yourself, arguing that I must be wrong because some well-respected agency said something different--not that you understand any of it, but somebody else said it, so you can't see how I could validly disagree.
Do you even understand where those numbers come from? Here's one for you: why don't businesses count expenses as income, and how does that affect GDP?