The Middle Class – Part I


For a long time now I’ve been interested in “The Middle Class”, or as I call it, The Big MC™ .  What it is, what it means and how it’s been used over the years. My fascination comes from two sources; my own personal experience and then the use of The Big MC in today’s Liberal shaping of the term.

America’s greatest allure is that through the promise of Liberty any individual is able to achieve that goal of leaving the days of back breaking labor to the days of our fathers and giving a better life to our children. It is our birthright as a nation that our citizens are able to have a better tomorrow rather than a better yesterday. It’s our hope, our collective yearning, that our drive to and from the salt mines will bring better days, has framed our national dialogue.

It is both ironic and horrifying that the same should be used as a wedge to drive us apart and serve to prevent that very dream from it’s manifest.

First, my own experience. My father was a teacher, my mom – a homemaker and later a bank teller. She stayed in the house until all of us were in school and then took a job working at the local bank. However, even when staying and caring for the home, she earned what money she could by watching and running a daycare. There were 6 of us; 4 kids and the folks. We had a 3 bedroom house. While we never went without bread and milk, we did use free and reduced lunches at school. 1 TV – 2 phones.

My brother wore every stitch of clothing that I owned as he grew into ‘em. My sister wore of that what she could as well. Christmas and birthdays were modest and we did get 1 “HotWheel” car every time we went to Mankato to shop for groceries for the month. This trip to Mankato represented the 1 and only time each month we got to eat in a restaurant. And even then, that restaurant was Hardee’s.

I don’t remember having a TV or a phone in my bedroom, but I think that my younger brother did before he graduated. I got a digital alarm clock as a Christmas present. Of course, Santa addressed that gift to both my brother and I. A fact that would manifest itself when I moved to the basement years later; we took turns sharing it month to month. Not until I was 16 did we own a computer, and even then it cost $400.00 or more.

I don’t think that I ever considered us poor. We always had food and always had clothes. I never ever remember hearing my folks talk, after they thought we were sleeping, that we wouldn’t have the money to pay the mortgage. I think I can grasp the concept that my folks would have hoped us kids would grow up to live comfortably in The Big MC. As a child, we were barely hanging on.

So, as we just finish a brush with any Libertarian’s dream; a government shut down, I see this:

Plouffe said that Ryan’s budget proposal had some good ideas in it, but that it put too much of the economic burden of debt reduction on economically vulnerable portions of the population.

“Seniors, the poor, the middle class in the congressional Republican plan are asked to bear most of the burden,” Plouffe said. “If you weren’t giving enormous tax cuts to millionaires, you wouldn’t have to do that.”

Blink

Blink

Plouffe collects the poor and The Great MC into a group, adds the Seniors in as added tastes and says that we should tax the rest way higher than we already are. And the simple use of the language implies that the poor, and that group the poor wants to become, are victims. The Great MC are sacrosanct and the poor are the pitied.

So, I ask you, what is The Middle Class? What makes someone Middle Class and someone else – well, not? Is it the realization of a home and a car and college? Can The Middle Class be obtained by saving a poor man’s salary? Or is The Middle Class the realization of an education or just plain old hard work; i.e. a Middle Class salary?

My take is that The Great MC has never been larger and that they’ve ever had it so good. And Obama wants to make it worse for ‘em in the name of making it better for ‘em.

What say you?

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3 comments
  1. Henry said:

    I have a simple method to determine if someone is wealthy. If an adult can afford to repeatedly donate their entire paycheck or pension to a local soup kitchen, then that person is wealthy. The wealthy are those who do not need to earn a living. They do not rely upon a paycheck or a pension. They send their money to work, so they can stay home. The poor are those who are unable to earn enough to provide their basic needs. The middle class is everyone else. A shoe salesman earning $25,000 a year and a doctor earning $250,000 a year are both middle class people. Their earnings are very different, but neither can afford to stop working. The doctor may become wealthy by investing in profitable businesses, but as long as payment of his mortgage is still contingent upon his reporting to work, I say he is not wealthy.

    • pino said:

      The wealthy are those who do not need to earn a living. They do not rely upon a paycheck or a pension.

      Henry, great thought! I’ve never put it into those terms. Fascinating.

  2. Well, I hope to be proven wrong, here, but it appears that wages of the bottom 80% have been pretty stagnant in the past 3 decades.

    Now, it’s worth noting that $40K today gets you better stuff than $40K in constant dollars were you teleported to 1970. Cell phone and Internet availability was somewhat diminished back then.

    Here’s one libertarian linking to another, both fretting about the structure of our economy & the reasons & perils of inequality. Some of the charts at this link are more persuasive and important than others, in my view; I think the third one, on income stagnation & decline for the bottom 80% since 1979, and the fourth one, one how Americans think income inequality vs. the reality, are the most interesting.

    This is one (non-impartial) writeup of a recent OECD study, suggesting that social stratification is worse in the US than anywhere else in the OECD except the UK.

    And here’s an alarming fact about inherited status in today’s US: “a child born into the lowest-earning quintile who manages to attain a college degree is less likely to be in the highest-earning quintile than a child born into the top quintile who does not attain a college degree. This is all the more remarkable when you consider that making it to, and through, college is far harder for poor kids than rich kids even at a given level of aptitude. (Two thirds of the kids with average math scores and low-income parents do not attend college, while almost two-thirds of high-income kids with average math scores do.)”

    So it appears– even apart from the recent crisis in unemployment that resulted from the financial crisis of 2008– that the wages and opportunities for advancement for the middle class have been declining for roughly the past three decades.

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