What happened to the American Middle Class?

There’s one term you’re not likely to hear much in this presidential election cycle: middle class. Apparently the term is political kryptonite right now, especially since no one really knows what it means and most Americans don’t identify as middle class anymore:

“In the 1960s, ‘middle class’ felt like it fit your lifestyle,” said Felicia Wong, the president and chief executive of the Roosevelt Institute, a liberal think tank with ties to Mrs. Clinton’s economic team.

Even if families fall in the middle in income distribution, they cannot afford many of the necessities, much less the luxuries, traditionally associated with being middle class, Ms. Wong said.

Household incomes for the middle class have been stagnant, while the costs of middle-class security — which economists define as child care, higher education, health care, housing and retirement — increased by more than $10,000 from 2000 to 2012, according to a Center for American Progress report, “Middle-Class Squeeze.”

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Right. So median incomes have not been increasing at the same rate as the cost of living. Is this because middle class Americans have been aspiring to a more luxurious lifestyle than they used to? Has the cost of living increase really been nothing more than an opulent redefinition of necessity? Not really. It’s because of inflation. Plain and simple. We’re not getting paid more, and our money is worth less. So even though we are middle class in income, we can’t really survive like the middle class used to.

The income distribution is starting to look more like an hourglass. It’s easier to live as either a poor person, buoyed up by government subsidies, or a rich person. So in-betweeners become more rare. And as they become more rare, the opportunities for them also begin to dwindle.

I don’t know how this thing will end, but it doesn’t look pretty. Unless the civil government stops stealing money from us in inflation that it then pretends to give back in “free” public services paid for by the rich, this country is doomed. The middle class, the working people of this country, made America what it once was. Without them, we’re not going to recover.


from Last Resistance

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