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Honored Advisor

Longer view...

... Of what it hasntaken for the average American family to stay in the " middle class":

In my senior year of college, 1975, women were going to work outside the home in droves. " Liberation" was their battle cry, but in retrospect, I do not think that having to go back to work when your infant is only six weeks old is a very freeing situation.

Frankly, I do not think women in this country would have ever gotten as far in terms of employment equality ( still do not get equal pay, however) as they have, except for the need for our economic,ic system to rely upon two paychecks in households, instead of the traditional one.

Fast forward about 20 years, and you see teenagers working away from home in droves, too. Most of the working families we se around us cannot afford anything extra, so the kids have to earn or do without. Most of them I know buy most of theirmown clothes, insure their own cars, iand often buying them, too.

A car is not a luxury when you live where we do. Of course, a lot of the younger workers don't earn much beyond what it takes for their transportation to work, but they FEEL independent.

With adult unemployment reaching double digits again, figures show probably over 20% of teens are unemployed, too. Women are holding onto jobs in better prroportion than are me, and they make substantially less for comparable work.

So, let's say everyone of age to work legally (16 or older) has been working, to keep the average family holding ground in the middle class. Now, the paycheck that was essentially the " second salary" is the ONLY salary in the household today.

When I look at what most of the money spent bought when women went to work forty years or so ago, it was a second car, bigger house, and all of the gadgets that have come into being in that timeframe. None of that would have been plausible, without
multiple- earner families.

Now, we are reverting to single- earner households again, and it looks as though the change isn't as temporary as once thought. Can forsee the middle class shrinking very drastically, as employment for men and older kids is missing in this economy.

We always agreed to get by on Mike's wages from his public, and I mostly filled in his periods of being laid off, with some overlap occasionally. Other than doctors, I do not see very many families doing that these days, and mammy of them haves spouses who have an active role in the practice, as a nurse or office manager.

So, my longer view of the middle class is that it has taken steadily increasing numbers of paid workers to stay in that category. What do you think?

Is there still a healthy middle class around you where you live? How manyworkers does it take in each household to stay there?
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21 Replies
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Senior Contributor

Re: Longer view...

It depends on a lot of factors. What do you consider a middle class family? Some consider one that has internet, cable/satellite, and a 401K account middle class even if the account doesn't have much money.  The regional standard of living and regressive taxes make a difference in the amount needed for "middle class" status.

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Honored Advisor

Re: Longer view...

There is a new article out, in the American Thinker, on the redefinition of what it ,enas to be poor in America. Google it...I don't know how to paste that link on iPad. It has been getting a lot of late night TV attention on Stewart and Colbert.

We are the one nation on Earth where the poor people are fat. This article is definitely a right wing view, but it is revealing...what it means to be poor is and will be redefined in America. Obama administration wants to use relative buying power, rather than straight cost of living measures traditionally used for determining economic status in America. Sounds similar, but is radically different, if one grasps math.

I am just seeing that many family that have held onto an illusion of being middle class only did so by sending more and more members out to scrape up a paycheck. If you revert to one wage-earner alone, many of them are not making it there anymore.
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Re: Longer view...

Personally I think the right wingers view wealth disparity as a good thing. If they want to include the government help for the poor, they ought to include it for all. Since they haven't, I can only think that the picture would show the ultra wealthy in an even less positive light. Do you consider some of their "poor's luxuries," such as refrigerators, washers and dryers as outlandish? How many, if they read the entire article, would agree with their principles? The here and now, sound bite generation doesn't take the time to do the necessary resarch to think on their own. Osmosis at work. Smiley Sad

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Honored Advisor

Re: Longer view...

Frankly, I think the point is at least partially well-taken. 

 

A refrigerator is a necessity in my mind, but an Xbox is not. 

 

A microwave is a luxury, but at $40 or less, not that much of a deciding item for poverty determination in my mind; however, cable TV is a luxury. 

 

I think that a poor person in this country may be worse off related to other people of more financial means in this country, but not anywhere near as poor as people in other countries.  As the article says, people in other countries want to come to America, since even the poor are fat here...that is, no one actually starves here. 

 

I have no problem with a levelling of monetary resources, as long as a levelling of the workload comes along as the price of admission for the ride.  That is, I am happy for anyone to have as much or much more than I have, as long as they work for it, and do not just sit on the dole and feel entitled to have it handed to them. 

 

That I am dealing with a person who feels so entitled for doing nothing right now is a thorn in my side and my psyche'.  First word to last word out of their mouth is a lie.  Tried to work with them for months, and finally called the family attorney, and told him to do what has to be done.  I may not feel great about it, but I feel less great about being played for a sucker.  

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Re: Longer view...

The attitude of that article made me very mad.  Just how greedy can the well off Americans become.

Just because people are not living in a tin roof shack, cooking over a campfire, burning trash in a 50 gallon drum for warmth and light does not mean they are not poor.

For years I imagine these same "Americans" took pride in the fact that America is/was the wealthiest, most advantaged country in the world.  But now our poor aren't poor enough for them.

They should be ashamed, every tea bagging idiot among them.

The will get theirs in the end

Remember it is easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.

But then for those idiots the Kingdom of God probably isn't good enough for them.  Too many "poor" people there.  Sure hop they like the heat.

 

Until recently I considered myself more Republican than anything else.  But I wouldn't align myself with jerks like that for anything under the sun.

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Honored Advisor

Re: Longer view...

Like I said, I do not agree with the total article, but I do agree at least partly, with the premise that a lot of what passes for poor in this country are people whom still find enough money to buy a lot of things they do NOT need.
I do not know if you have personally stood behind two able- bodied young adutt males whom filled a grocery cart with junk food, paid for all but a couple of disqualified items with food stamps, then pulled out literal rolls of bills to finish off less than five bucks for their itmes that all pf us taxpayers didn't give them that day. I have.

We have also read of local drug busts where the dealers had stacks of EBT cards for food...none of which had been issued to them.

Mike and I have had a bad week in a couple of ways..daughter's debit card stolen and purchases made, then us being charged for that expensive computer Dell wanted to ship to someone else's address. Just the tip of the iceberg...but, I have had it with deadbeats trying to get one over on us and ours.

Anyone who is capable of committing that kind of theft has skills with computers that they could be self- supporting with instead.

I decided to move every cent we had in stocks to the side yesterday. Have had it with being the brunt of bad jokes on the working class, perpetuated by politicians and investment managers. Am fed up to here with our elected officials in DC, and Raleigh is as bad or worse.

I do not think you need to be a " well off American" to be disgusted with the entitlement mentality of people who will let the rest ofus work for their benefit, rather than that of our own families. Maybe it is because I am also dealing with someone who thinks I owe her a house plus all of what it takes to run it right now, too...I am juat tired of being taken for someone's Sugar Mama.
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Re: Longer view...

I do not think that every one in America that has a microwave, refrigerator, or AC and not a 6 figure income is working the dole.

Yes of course there are the creeps who abuse the system.  You can not stop that.  Crooks are everywhere.  Just go to Washington and you'll find a bunch.

 

I thought about this some more and as far as I'm concern anyone that buys into that stupid article can take their little bodies and go live by the Lating American cities they mention, or go to Africa, there are plenty of really poor there.

 

But wait they won't do that.  They' probably couldn't make that big income there, especially not almost tax free like they do here.

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Re: Longer view...

Well, I do not think it is in any way un- American to have an opinion that someone else disagrees with. I wouldn't suggest that someone needs to leave this country if they do.

Our VA history lessons from fourth grade on taught us that the " common kettle" was a failed social experIment. The original settlers at Jamestown thought that if everyone shared equally, everyone would be willing to work equally, too. It didn't take long for them to discover otherwise.
Perhaps my attitude on this subject was formed that young. The fact that I was put to work as a farm worker at the age of six and have thus started on my second half- century of employment, in the cause of supporting my family, means that I lose patience with people who never do work/ never have worked.
The numbers game doesn't lie...you have to have significantly more people paying into social entitlement programs than those taking out of them, and I am afraid that we are approaching,, or may have already passed, a tipping point int that balance. We have surpassed what is sustainable, for sure.
I think that Monday is going to make this past week's record drop in stocks look like fun and games. Individual wealth is going to be sucked out of the middle class - again, as it was in the mortgage fiasco - like the marrow from a bone. Once that regenerative force is gone, and whoever benefits from such events has taken the spoils, the class of " have- no- mores" will join the existing " have- nots", and the weight of all that unmet need will be crushing on our culture.

What do you will happen when people who have been basically handed everything they need for several generations start to see some of the freebies evaporate? European countries have seen riots, garbage strikes, and that shooting and bombing in Oslo last week.

Our state has done a " real unemployment" calculation. To reflect people who need work, not just those who are presently claiming unemployment. We are just over nine percent claiming, which is about the national stat. Add to that the people who are working part time where they used to work full time, and people who have gone into re- training, and the real unemployment figure for us is 17.5%.
That is a depression.
I think a " real unemployment" figure for the nation as a whole would be no better. Our government needs to start calling this spade a shovel, instead of lying to us. We cannot afford to have people sitting on their hands, and getting paid to do so, anymore.
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Re: Longer view...

I too am very concerned about this younger generation that doesn't work but lives better than a lot of us. I have no answers but were are they taking this country? We have the same situation in our back door in MIL former home, people who continually drag home sack after sack of stuff every night. 26yr old son says he can't work due to something that sounds minor. They have trashed the place. What a mistake we made letting mother and daughter move in but they do pay on time. It is the same old story so I won't go on.

 

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