When profits pile costs on people

PHOTO: Sascha Pohflepp, Flickr CC-BY

My latest column for the Minnesota Reformer is out today, this one tackling the rising cost of housing and health care that most affects working class people.

The piece is called “Cost of living is our harshest tax.” Here’s a taste:

We’ve all experienced economic inflation this past year. Consumer costs rise along with commodity prices, wages and corporate profits. Real estate is bonkers, and for a while last summer you had to fight people to buy a used car.

But the real shock is what’s happened over the past two decades. Income disparities rose at shocking levels and then accelerated the moment COVID-19 hit. The disruption benefited those with capital while setting back everyone else.

The result leads me to a chilling realization. Most of the avenues that allowed me to ascend from the lower class to the middle class 20 years ago are now closed to people in the same position I was. The rural media jobs I took, for instance, no longer exist. 

To an even larger degree, birthplace and class determine access to opportunities. This reality requires more people to work retail and service jobs, mostly for big companies. College and rent cost much more. It’s a recipe for losing your 20s and 30s to a soulless grind.

We’re beginning to emerge from COVID-19 protocols again with knowledge that U.S. job growth is crushing all expectations. But none of the traditional measures of an economy correlate with the sense of anxiety and dread that seem to suffuse our politics right now. Part of that is probably because we don’t have a work problem. We have a cost problem.

Read the whole column at the Minnesota Reformer.




  1. This is a particularly powerful piece.

    As long as people continue to support a Joe Biden rather than a Bernie Sanders, the banks and corporations will be able to tighten their chokehold….
    (I’ve known Biden since, what, 1972. If you grow up in Delaware it is easy to know the pols. He’s spent his career as a Delaware Senator servicing big money special interests. So it’s not surprising that real reforms are not in his comfort zone….)

  2. Joe musich says

    Thanks Aaron…your key line for me is…” If you read all this and are worried about the tax burden on everyday working people, I’d gently suggest that everyday working people are already paying all they have and more to maintain the broken system we’ve got. They may not pay it all to the government. But how is paying real estate developers, insurance companies and other big corporations all that much better?”
    True ! But that being said UBI working depends on an honest, fair and equitably aware government officials to be in place….I would not trust any Gop office holder or candidate should they become office holders nor a good number of democrats to make UBI work they way it should. As is pointed out with no questions s asked. And yet I continue to hope. Thank you.

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