The admirable “Billmon”:http://billmon.org/archives/001604.html has a statistic I don’t understand and can’t really believe: %(sane)All told, real wages dropped more than 20 _per cent_ between 1972 and 1992. I’ve often wondered what the political fallout would have been if that same decline had been administered the old-fashioned way – through direct pay cuts by employers instead of the gradual, indirect erosion of inflation.”%
I can’t think of _anything_ which Americans were able to buy 20% less of in 1992 than in 1972 — not even illegal drugs. So in what sense did real wages fall? The statistic I always remember is that for the “middle classes”, real wages have stayed approximately _the same_ since the 1970s. This alone would produce a certain dissatisfaction and political savagery, especially in a culture where everything is always meant to be improving.
But maybe I am just showing a lack of imagination. Things that might be 20% less affordable for the average American include health care, child care, and housing.