So here we are five years after the administration took charge and vowed to lead us out of our economic disaster with our eyes focused on improving the plight of the “middle class.”   And what has happened?   We have the “New Normal” which means a lower rate of economic growth, higher unemployment and much more limited economic horizons.  Worse, the lot of the middle class has not improved, while the top 1% are making money faster than ever, as seen in our stock market reaching historic highs.

What went wrong?   President Obama took exactly the right steps dictated by our experience until today.   He primed the pump big time.   The Federal Reserve Bank followed his lead and added to the pump priming.  The only result is that surplus cash is finding its way to the equity markets where the rich live.   There has been no great revival in our output of goods and services and thus employment.  The reasons for that is left to several speculations - consumers are paying down their debts instead of extending themselves,  consumers are still shell shocked by the “Great Recession,” companies are not investing largely because demand has not risen,  we are still running massive deficits in our foreign trade, and government has used up all its cash and lines of credits so is cutting back on spending.

All of this makes good sense and provides reasons.  But the question still remains, “Why have the usual remedies not worked?”   When all is said and done one comes to the conclusion that consumers are basically satisfied with lower economic prospects.  They have what they need and do not have to extend themselves and thereby crank up the machinery to deliver more goods and services.

Many will applaud this because they abhor “consumerism” in our society.  They say, “good, we consume far too much.”   But that means youngsters entering the work force have fewer job opportunities.   We may yet follow the Spanish lead where the only question for newcomers is, “how many foreign languages do you speak,” since finding a job means going abroad.  What a novel idea, American youth seeking work abroad - more grist for the Peace Corps mill.

And if job prospects are poor, what about improving the lot of the middle class?  I remember an old buddy while we were both in college saying to me that based on what he learned in sociology class we were both in the “Upper Lower Class.”   What a concept, the best of the poor folk.  Well we both clawed our way into solid middle class positions.  But what chance do youngsters in similar conditions now have to get ahead?

No, instead of seeing a revived economy generating lots of new job opportunities we see a tepid recovery providing very limited growth and lots of concern about our future.