And finally, New Rule: now that the media is done freaking out about the missing jetliner, how about going on a search for America's vanishing middle class? (audience cheering)
Now I say this because the number of Americans who identify as middle class has never been lower. And if you don't believe me, just go shopping. The stores like Sears and Penny's that always catered to the middle market are dying. But you know who's doing great? Tiffany's and Gucci and Cartier for the Marie Antoinette crowd. And the dollar store for people who don't see a problem with Halloween candy in June.
I mean, just think of how many dollar places there are now. The Dollar Store. Dollar Tree. Dollar General. Dollar Giant. Family Dollar. The 99¢ Store. The 98¢ Store. (audience laughter)
Where does it end? Just a homeless guy handing out expired toothpaste for free? (audience applause) But that's our economy now. You're either buying Rembrandts or Chinese cosmetics made from dirt. But in the middle, tough times. True of restaurants as well. The moderately priced ones, like Applebee's, Red Lobster, and Olive Garden, are all in trouble because they've lost their best customers — people with a little money who fill up on bread. (audience laughter) They're the restaurants that say, "I still love you, baby, but just barely."
50 years ago, America's biggest employer was General Motors, where workers made the modern equivalent of $50 dollars an hour. Today, America's biggest employer is Walmart, where the average wage is $8 dollars an hour. Which means you can share a room in a transient hotel with a drifter who cuts his toenails with a machete. (audience laughter)
And Walmart released their annual report this month, and in it was the fact that most of what Walmart sells is food. And most of their customers need food stamps to pay for it. Meanwhile, Walmart's owners are so absurdly rich that one of them, Alice Walton, spent over a billion dollars building an art museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, 500 miles away from the nearest person who ever would want to look at art.
And she said about it, "For years I've been thinking about what we can do as a family that can really make a difference." How about giving your employees a raise, you deluded nitwit? (massive audience cheering and applause)
And what we are seeing now as the income inequality increases is a lot of Americans who work hard and play by the rules starting to not play by the rules. At a McDonald's in Pittsburgh, an employee was arrested for selling heroin packed right in with the Happy Meals. And she didn't do it because she likes heroin — although it's probably no worse for you than the filet o' fish. She did it because you can't raise two kids on $7.72 an hour. (audience applause)
And for those who say she shouldn't have had two kids then, well, maybe. But she did. So what's she supposed to do now, give them away in front of the Petco on Saturday? (audience laughter)
Or take the case of Belle Knox. She's the Duke University freshman who was recently outed as a porn star. But she doesn't have the typical porn star biography — abused by an uncle, addicted to coke, locked in a closet by Charlie Sheen. (audience laughter) No, she's a level-headed articulate 18-year-old majoring in women's studies, just like I did.
So people are saying, why the porn? Because Duke costs $61 grand a year! (audience applause) Since 1980, college tuition has increased 600% above the inflation rate. I'm surprised they're not all doing porn. And even if Miss Knox wanted to pay her way through school serving hot dogs at Wienerschnitzel, there are no jobs at Wienerschnitzel! So instead she occasionally takes a wiener in the schnitzel. (wild audience laughter and applause)
And this is what the Paul Ryans of the world don't understand — that this is not a country of lazy people and good people, so much as it is a country of rich people and desperate people. Do you know how much Americans owe in student loans? $1.3 trillion dollars. We're going to have to sell a lot of ass to pay that tab. Yeah, I'm afraid we're treading water and losing ground. And if you just said, hey that's a mixed metaphor, congratulations, that's your English degree in action. (audience applause)
Now lube up, it's time to do some porn!
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