Throwback Thursday "The Middle Class Myth: Once Upon a Time in America" 10/2013

Oc5111-vanishingmiddleclassnce upon a time in the great and thriving country of America, life was essentially good and the people were content, well, most of them anyway. As is always the case, there were of course the Have’s and the Have Not’s, but the financial gap between them was not that significant, and though at times the Have Not’s grumbled and complained, Life in America was not bad, not bad at all. For you see, the vast majority of the American people were neither Have’s or Have Not’s but somewhere in between. Rather than being called the Nearly Have’s, this majority eventually became known as the Middle-Class.

They were a happy lot these Middle Class Americans, unemployment was low, inflation was kept in check and wages continued to grow at a steady rate which allowed them to live well as they pursued the American dream. And the majority truly believed that the American Dream could be realized. Success, prosperity and upward mobility, were prizes well within the reach of all men, great and not so great. With hard work and determination anyone could achieve success regardless of their social ranking or circumstance. After all, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness had been guaranteed to them by the founding fathers.

And so the Middle Class Americans worked hard, gained status and moved closer to the Have’s and every once in a great while some would manage to cross the line to Have-dom. Of course at the same time some of the Middles would fail and draw closer and closer to the Have Not’s. Eventual the Middles became so diverse that soon there was a Lower Middle Class, a Middle Class and an Upper middle Class. Yes the majority was bigger than ever. And the same thing happened to the Have’s and Have Not’s who were recognized as the Upper and Lower Class. As the lines blurred they too became segmented. The upper Lower, Lower, Lower Lower, Upper Lower, and the one percenter’s, the Upper Upper. Socio-economics at its finest!

But the Have Not’s also wanted the American Dream or at least a piece of it, but weren’t willing to put in the time, energy and effort required to improve their condition. Many of them believed the ‘good life’ was their birthright and should simply be given to them. They began crying foul and demanded more and more from the government. Now don’t misunderstand, there were Have Not’s who worked to improve their lot in life, and many were successfully, but unfortunately there were far more who wanted the ‘System’ to provide for them.

middleclasspolicies_onpage-300x173The government in their infinite wisdom came up with programs to assist them. Of course they had to find a way to finance these programs as they were already strapped for cash by other big budget items like the National Defense and Foreign Aid and such, so they systematically raised taxes to pay for the social program the brunt of which fell on the middle class. It was, of course, the beginning of the end for middle class America because from that point forward the Middle became the fall guy for every government social hand out program devised as well as countless other programs. For decades the Middles have been the backbone of America, carrying the economy, but that back is nearly broken and those days are coming to an end.

The Middle Class feels betrayed by the System or should I say betrayed by Congress and is sick and tired of being the fall guy.  They’ve carried the country long enough and can no longer shoulder the responsibility nor should they have to. Truth be told, the American Middle Class is shrinking fast and although it is still technically the majority at 51%, it is the class lines have blurred further and the era of the Have’s and Have Not’s may be back sooner than you think. In the past 40 years the Middles have declined by 10% and nearly three out of 10 Americans, 28 percent, born in the middle class drop out of it as adults. In that same period the median wages earned by the Middles has dropped by 27% after accounting for inflation. I tell you, the Middles are fading fast! Add to this the rising cost of health care, housing, gasoline, college tuition (which has risen 900% in the last thirty years) and the high cost of other goods and services and it’s easy to see why Middle Class America is on the brink of extinction.

And while the Middle class fades away, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Four years ago there were 26 million Americans receiving food stamps now there are more than 45 million recipients including one out of every 4 children! That’s a 74% increase in just 5 years! And just look at Medicaid, back in the 60’s only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid. Today it’s one out of every 6! How much worse can this picture get? MUCH! Right now over 20% of our children live in poverty and one out of every 6 of our elderly live below the federal poverty line. And it’s getting worse by the day.Do you realize that while the Middle class crashes and burns the Uppers or Rich are growing by leaps and bounds. Currently the richest 1% of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90% combined! It’s not a pretty picture.

Yes once upon a time America was a rich and prosperous country with a strong economy and it’s people were a happy and content lot, but things have taken a turn for the worse. An economic storm has befallen them and dark clouds engulf the land. Our leaders rhetoric of  better days to come fall on deaf ears as the Middle knows there is no promise of good days ahead. And as the number of good jobs decline and our paychecks continue to shrink while our taxes rise, we the Middles know that the hard times will remain and even more desperate times lie ahead. The system is falling, it has failed us all. The Middle Class will not be spared. You best fasten your seat belts and strap yourself in, for the road to recovery is going to be a long, long bumpy ride…

Just Saying…

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