Sunday, February 10, 2013

Death of the Middle Class

I was, I suppose, middle class.
Well, maybe lower-middle class.
Since my forced retirement I am more correctly somewhere below lower-middle class and closer to the poverty line.
Having been middle-class I felt I fit right in with the rest of the country and gave me a sense of belonging.
I've just discovered I belonged to a vanishing species.  Not just because I'm an old white guy, but just because I was classified middle class.
That's right, the middle class is endangered.  My information concerns the San Diego area where I live, but I suspect it is not limited to my corner of the world.
I quote from a news story I found, "Between 2007 and 2011, middle-wage occupations in San Diego dropped by 15.2%."  The same article pointed out during the same period middle earners in California dropped by 13.2% and in the nation by 8.3%.
The old fable that anyone could work their way up from poverty into the middle class and a comfortable life seems to be gasping for breath.
Doing a little research, I found an article that said 15.1% of the population in the United States lives in poverty.  That is 46.2 million people.  This hits disproportionately high in the Black and Latino communities and in the South, but I suspect it also hits a lot of the elderly community.
It's not hard to see how the American Dream and the middle class died.  It was sacrificed on the altar of profit by bankers and Wall Street speculators.  It died at the choking hands of business management that makes hundreds of times in wages what the common worker does.  It was bludgeoned by politicians who bowed to the pressures of the wealthy to maintain that wealth and to their own lust to retain power. And finally, it was poisoned by a pervasive attitude that money and the acquisition of it was the be all and end all of the life experience.
I am not sure the "dream" can ever be revived, but I think the effort needs to be made.  The middle class that remains needs to start fighting for its' own survival.  While the Tea Party movement started out as a fight for economic equality before it was co-opted by the extreme right, something like that movement needs to start up again, but this time someone has to keep their eye on the ball and not get sidetracked into some radical or reactionary cul-de-sac that becomes a joke and impotent.
While there are still significant numbers in the middle class it needs to bond together in a movement for self preservation.
This is a call to arms.  It is a clarion call to rise off the couch, abandon reality TV and put pen to paper and deliver a message to the members of Congress that they better start serving all the people or risk losing their cushy space at the government trough and have to actually work for a living.
Use whatever strength in numbers the middle class has left and put up a fight against the erosion of economic stability for those below the one percent.

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