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What Bitcoin and Amazon Are Doing to the Middle Class


What Bitcoin and Amazon Are Doing to the Middle Class

David Korten

Roughly 20 percent of U.S. workers are in a high-paying finance, technology, and electronics sectors. The other 80 percent face a daily struggle to survive.



“Roughly 20 percent of U.S. workers are in a high-paying finance, technology, and electronics sectors. The other 80 percent face a daily struggle to survive.” (David Korten)


The 80 percent are then closer to the way we humans have always lived - perhaps that is promising.

The “Middle Class” - how I detest that phrase.

As if the middle, read mediocre class is a sufficient aspiration - or worthy of some kind of special protection - the target of progressive politics.

I like Lincoln’s dictum much more:

“As I would not be a slave - so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. What ever differs from this - to the extent of the difference - is no democracy,”


Let’s hope so. I see it in my city, Portland Oregon, many communities of disversity and sustainable gardens who use community markets to sell their products. I see boutique of clothing, small community shops for all sorts of goods all in a sustainable manner, and many other venues for artists of disgarded wood, metals, glass et all sell their products.

It is small and growing hopefully.


The right wing authoritarian class has worked very hard to convince the masses that there are fundamental laws to economics. There are not. Economics must be continually reviewed and optimized for whom? For them, of course, they muse as they lobby the whores in Washington, London, etc. Bernie understands this better than any current politician in the US. That is why his candidacy was sabotaged. Whether behind him or a close clone, the people must muster their resolve behind his vision for a fairer world. The one percent face either an evolution of the process toward a more just world or a revolution to who knows what. The maximization of inequality never ends well for the ninety-nine percent. Absent a credible threat to the one percent the US will fall further down the rabbit hole.


Korten and other progressives need to stop characterizing the Inequality Exacerbation Act as a “tax bill”, seeing how there are so many poison pills for the 99%, the nature of which were never included in previous “tax bills”.

The GOP calls it a “tax bill” so they can require the IRS to reduce withholding from workers’ pay checks between now and the November 2018 election and perhaps throw in some other gimmicks like sending checks out to taxpayers like Dubya did with the 2001 tax cuts, giving workers the impression that they are paying less tax despite the tax code fine print taking away what the big print giveth. Can you say SHELL GAME ?


I think you are reading too much into the term “middle class”. It is meant to merely mean having sufficient material means to meet necessities with a little left over for cultural enrichment and re-creation.

But yes, better that these means be socially provided to all of us as a human right, not through selling our bodies and mind to capitalist exploitation, then the tem “middle class” could be tossed in the bin of obsolete words.

And no, there is nothing promising about 80 percent of the population living short brutish lives of struggle. I don’t know where the poor neighborhoods of Calgary are, but maybe you need to spend some time there - or maybe out in a nearby First Nations community.


Capitalism has got to go!


It was a mistake to reply to you, which I shall avoid in the future.


With my meager economics understanding, this article doesn’t quite make sense. If the class system is being divided into this 20/80 split, then doesn’t Amazon suffer with that much smaller a market? Yet they seem to be telling me that the majority of USAns own something as expensive and useless as an echo device. And doesn’t the economy devolve into a bunch of rich people trading acquisitions and market shares? This reminds me of my local economy with so many heroin addicts selling drugs to each other.

If what he says about Bitcoin is right, it should collapse pretty soon. It doesn’t appear to have an actual value, and the market for it and its futures resembles a Ponzi scheme in which a few investors get rich while artificially inflating the value and encouraging later investors to think the trend will continue inevitably.

If the middle class is really vanishing–though everyone I’ve come across who fits into this category thinks everything (i.e. shopping) is becoming progressively more wonderful every day–it would seem like the economy as a whole is ready to collapse.


And this is the very real threat to the bottom 80%! It is not “terrorism”. It is not “illegal immigrants”. It is not people of other races,creeds or religion. The .01% just want us to think so, and they have become very, very adept at controlling the narrative, thus the beliefs.


Good post, Yunzer!


Save your money!!!
The BIG one is coming.


Well the difference of opinion is stark regarding my post. I merely asked that “manysummits” observe how the poor live so he can reconsider his remark about poverty being “promising”.


Will your “truly democratic” kinder, gentler >community capitalism< provide us with the free education, health care and controlled prices as “repressive socialism” would, Mr Korten?

True democracy is not possible under capitalism, because the capitalist is always the overlord of the worker and exploitation is his game.

True democracy is only possible under socialism.


Embedded in the narrative is [an unspoken - it’s place having been ‘externalized’] necessity in the epoch of the “ism”. What is an -ism? An ism references the condition of an ideology. But just what precisely is an ideology that has as quintessential element the property of non-existance of ‘costs’ as in capitalism (read across the spectrum of elements and properties of ‘values’ and it is the commodification of ALL OF LIFE ) that constitute that ideology. Further, when cultural norms are, for example, such that ‘it is crass to talk about money’ or the glib ‘it isn’t perfect but its better than everything out there’, THEN the ideology has a very special component known as colonization. Have you ever heard anyone say that PR is the colonization arm of predatory capitalism? Of course not. It is why they get paid the big bucks.

Most valuable to ask is: What part of my life is NOT colonized by the system of predatory capitalism?


Another one that thinks he’s gonna “get it right next time”. Can we please do it without the rations, deportations and oppression this time?


We’ll get capitalism “right the next time” after we deport the Muslims.
We gotta win the War on Islam.


Korten’s comment, “by 2030 automation likely will have destroyed up to 73 million U.S. jobs” whether he believes it or not, is largely based on the dubious technology of self-driving cars, trucks and buses. As a transportation specialist myself, I have made a convincing case against the technology ever becoming viable. When that case is proven true, and it will be, self-driving car technology must be considered a lie, a ruse to distract public attention from actual solutions, and therefore a fraud. What businesses and industries can be held accountable for perpetrating this fraud? Amazon certainly doesn’t need package delivery via self-driving cars to undermine local retail nationally in the meantime. Municipalities don’t need replace obsolete transit buses on poorly arranged fixed routes when they expect self-driving cars will serve the transit need, as does Portland’s Mayor Ted Wheeler.

There is certainly a lot of potential for electric and hybrid-electric vehicles, more than most people realize, but concerted focus on self-driving car tech is like “putting the cart before the horse,” to put it nicely. To call out the profiteers who are knowingly perpetrating this fraud could instead lead to real technological advancement and a direction away from the ecological and societal collapse they are apparently planning as a means to deal with overpopulation and dissent.


Capitalism is right as it is now. The Muslim thing is just some bone being thorwn to losers on both sides.


My advice to “manysummits” applies to you too. Get out of your affluent neighborhood and look around.

A top twenty percent who consume, consume, consume and are rich enough that they do not even have to ask the prices of things is still enough people to keep Amazon - and the consumer economy - going just fine. And the welfare of the remaining 80 percent frankly does not interest Amazon very much - except as the wonderfully cheap “reserve army of labor” they provide for the tasks that still cannot be done with robots.

And what applies to Bitcoin applies the almost everything else in the stock market. The price of a share of stock has little to do with the actual usefulness of the enterprise the stock is supposed to be a share of.

I have seen all sorts of ordinary pastimes that ordinary wage earners used to be able to afford - and have the time off to do - from hang gliding/paragliding to hiking/backpacking to traveling a few hours to see this last summer’s eclipse, to even just dining out, go out of reach for everyone except the top 20 percent coordinator class of “professionals”.

(Disclosure - as a GS-13 government engineer a few years from retirement - I’m almost in that upper quintile myself. But I never forget the majority of my working life spent making no more than $8.50 an hour. And in my rust belt city, all I have to do is look a few houses down my street to see poeple struggling with inadequate income)

Boycott Amazon.