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The most over used phrase in this election is the "middle class".  I've struggled to understand the meaning of that term, as I'm not sure it is necessarily the same as the median class of this nation.

I'm scared of Mitt Romney, because I know I'm not in his interest group.  Lately, however, I feel as if I'm probably not in Obama's target audience either.  I also don't think I'm alone in this.

Though it may seem far from the media image of America, me and 75% of my fellow Americans make less than $50k dollars a year.  Nearly 50% of us make less than $25k dollars a year.

Middle class problems seem different from the problems a lot of us face.  They may be underwater on their house, which is their biggest source of wealth.  They may also be behind the curve in terms of retirement savings.  They have watched their incomes flatten and health care premiums rise.  Those are certainly not good things for the middle class.

But what about the majority of us, who have no assets to speak of.  Screw underwater on houses, we're just treading water in our lives.  We rent.  We pay bills as our paychecks allow.  We aren't drowning in debt, we are just drowning in the cost of living.

The poverty line in the US is really quite low in relative terms.  You can be poor without actually being poor quite easily.  You can leave the grocery store with less than $50 dollars till next payday, and still be above that line.

Sure, you can say more education, but are there really 200 million better jobs sitting out there for college graduates?  Is incurring a new student loan or adding on to existing student loans really going to pay off on this scale?

The New Deal brought about a thriving middle class in America.  The Great Society was supposed to extend that prosperity to the lower class.  Now it seems like we as Democrats given up on the latter.  We're just trying to hold onto that 18% or so we consider to be the back bone of this country.

That doesn't seem like big thinking to me.  I don't want to rich.  I don't need a big house.  I don't have to send my kid to a private college.  I just want to be able to get a month ahead now and again.  Is that really beyond the American promise?

Originally posted to Dr Teeth on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 05:58 AM PDT.

Also republished by The Rebel Alliance and Income Inequality Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I think "middle class" has become a catchall... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Teeth, Pinto Pony

    phrase.

    Everybody who isn't obviously wealthy typically describes him/herself as "middle class."

    I consider myself to be working class, which means that I'm working and that my paycheck means something to me and that I'm aware of when I get paid.

    I suspect a lot of us are working class, but "middle class" sounds oh, so much better, so we typically say that instead.

    To hell with that, I say. I'm working class, I come from working-class roots, and any working-class person who thinks Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have the answers needs to seek professional help.

    The Obama administration is far from perfect, but it has our back on the issues that make us Democrats, and shame on us if we sit this election out.

    How about I believe in the unlucky ones?

    by BenderRodriguez on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 06:17:16 AM PDT

    •  I'm not suggesting we sit out anything (0+ / 0-)

      Rather, I think we need to start asking different things from our party.

      I know the election comes down to winning the Philly suburbs (I've heard it is actually down to 12 counties nationwide), but should that really define our governing philosophy?

  •  It would be interesting to have someone ask (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Teeth, Sark Svemes

    the President what income range he considers to be "middle class."

    “The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.” – Abraham Lincoln

    by Sagebrush Bob on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 06:22:40 AM PDT

  •  "Middle Class" Used To (Maybe Still Does Elsewhere (4+ / 0-)

    ) refer to the professional/bureaucratic class in the middle between the rich and the working classes.

    What liberalism accomplished along with similar economic approaches across the developed world was to bring a middle class lifestyle to a large fraction of the working classes. The working classes gained some leisure, travel opportunity, higher education, a secure and often comfortable retirement, and a chance to leave some wealth to heirs.

    In the US we began calling this large working class the "middle class" but they were always really working class. By the time of Reaganomics, both parties were conservative parties, both began methodically withdrawing those opportunities from the working classes. But together with economic bubbles, we sustained the marketing practice of calling them "middle class" to disguise what was being done.

    The promise as you observe is gone. We trail most of the developed world in upward mobility which means that the actual American dream is no more than to survive to a full natural lifespan. And that lifespan is shorter here than elsewhere. The old ideal American dream is much easier realized by people across the rest of the developed world.

    Right now we need to elect anti-Republicans. Nov. 7th is the day we turn to doing something about all this, and that starts with doing something about the Democratic Party.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 06:24:35 AM PDT

    •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)
      refer to the professional/bureaucratic class in the middle between the rich and the working classes.
      What happened was there used to be a highly technical type of working class in the manufacturing sector, which became the poster child for "middle class".

      Now that technical class is gone, which reveals the 4 or more year college professional as the only remaining middle class.

  •  You need a security net: a social security net. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Teeth, Tailfish

    We need to reclaim our image of ourselves as a social ['sociable'?] democracy, pledged to unite for the good of us all.

    E pluribus unum does not mean "from the many, one percent".

    I want Health Care (not Health Insurance, btw- big difference) for everyone, from day one, now. I want my kid to get the dental work he needs and your kid too, whoever they are. We have the potential to do so much good for so many people, so inexpensively if we would just pool our resources and pay for the goods and services, and not for the advertising budgets of the speculators profiting off our miseries.

    Am I a "Socialist"? NO, because I don't agree/know enough about the actual "S"ocialist Party right now. But I reserve the right to belong to that party, while living in this free country, if it turns out I want to.
    Am I a "socialist"? Yes, I dare say so. I want everyone to benefit from what we as a species have learned.

    Let's go tax the high-speed trading on Wall St. One penny every time they do their lightning transactions and gee, we could fund a lot of fundamentals that are currently only being paid for by the little people who actually pay their county taxes and real estate fees. Off topic? Perhaps, but i say stop the corruption everywhere before taxing me more anywhere. Thnx.

    If I didn't have to line somebody's pocket buying health insurance, I would gladly pay into the fund to buy everyone health care. That's my line and I'm sticking to it.

    •  That's a small percentage: Repatriate (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nuclear winter solstice

      I definitely agree there are things the government can do to protect the lower class from inflation, but unless the structures which form the private sector are changed, all the socialism won't be worth a damn.

      We must repatriate US dollars into US jobs, and balance are trade deficit.  That is why Germany has weathered the recession.

      As long as we allow American capitalists to buy/manufacture foreign products, and import them to American markets at less than the cost of domestic production, we are fucked.

      •  President Obama is doing more (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dr Teeth, Tailfish

        to achieve that outcome than any President of the last 50 years.  Remember that he got politically motivated partly by working with people like you and me.

        He doesn't refer to us as the poor or the working class because we've been demonized by 50 years of careful propagandizing.  If the working poor have a voice, UNIONS may be created/empowered.  OSHA will interfere.  The PCA will get even stronger.  All those things are happening under Obama, but it's not getting much attention, which is good.  Stealth is required when you're fighting the 1%  

        I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

        by I love OCD on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 07:05:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tailfish, Dr Teeth, renaissance grrrl
    "Sure, you can say more education, but are there really 200 million better jobs sitting out there for college graduates?  Is incurring a new student loan or adding on to existing student loans really going to pay off on this scale?"
    ... brought a flood of thoughts - I'll try and keep it brief.

    I'm a 50-something mom of 3 kids. Never went to college. From the time she was little, I told my oldest - a daughter now her mid 30's - that "you're going to college". It was the ticket to a better way of life than we had. That's the promise society made to our young people, especially during the '80s and '90s as businesses were moving overseas: A college degree is the key to a good income and financial security. Don't worry if you've taken on student loans, as a college grad you'll earn enough to pay those back. So my daughter and her husband are both college graduates, but in this economy they will probably never reach that $50K/year mark. Never own a house. Never NOT worry (because they can't afford health insurance) that one of them might get sick or hurt... or that their car may break down. Never really know what it's like to NOT live paycheck to paycheck.

    So now I feel like I lied to her all those years. Betrayed her, even. Because they'll probably be paying their student loans till they hit retirement age - for what?

    I also have two sons in their early 20's. They know that a High School diploma isn't enough to get you anywhere nowadays, but how could I - in good conscience - advise them to go deep into debt for a degree, in hopes of getting good jobs? We know those jobs just aren't out there - not enough of them, anyway.

    And, frankly, college isn't a good "fit" for everyone - so less expensive trade/tech school, maybe? There's only so much demand for the skills those train you for, and the market's getting flooded with graduates of these schools, too.

  •  I think of middle class by standard of living (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Teeth

    rather than income, since the amount of $ it takes to be "middle class" varies with where you live, and any specific core needs of your family (e.g., taking care of someone with an expensive health condition).

    So I would consider someone "middle class" if they had:  1.  Access to sufficient nutritious food; 2. Reasonable housing in a relatively safe neighborhood with some parks and other reasonable community attractions; 3. Access to education sufficient to prepare their kids adequately; 4. Health care for both routine and catastrophic needs; 5.  Transportation (public or private) that allowed them to get to the places they need and sometimes want to go; and 6. After paying for those things, a reasonable amount of money left over to save for retirement and for discretionary spending on the occassional movie, night out, or vacation.

    So it obviously takes more $ to be "middle class" in New York City compared to Fargo, but I think everywhere it's becoming increasingly out of reach.

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