I would consider the lower end of middle class to be in the late 30K to mid 40K range. To me, that sounds like a lot of money, but to a lot of people it’s lower middle class. Therefore, a whole lot of people are not middle class. So why does everyone and their brother feel a need to lie?
I have the answer, you unsuspecting readers. There is a stigma in favor of being middle class in this country, because it used to be normal to be middle class. In 1969, 53% of Americans were middle class, according to the Census Bureau. Many studies put the number in the middle class during that time at least 10 points higher. We’re all aware that income inequality is growing, but the idea in people’s head that they’re still middle class has not changed.
We live in a country stuck on the income ideas of our parents, and in a way the picture that is painted is becoming a somewhat more accurate representation of what is going to happen. Lower class people are considered to be, by many, people that are homeless or living in desperate conditions. Upper class people in America are considered to be those living in mansions. Everyone in between is considered “middle class,” but the vast majority of those people would be in what is defined as “lower middle class,” by these standards, which is actually quite close to the poverty line. Lower middle class is really just lower class, if you translate this stinted ideology into realistic terms. The more the gap increases, the closer most of those left in the actual middle class get to becoming part of the desperate many.
No one wants to be defined as living in desperate conditions and no one wants to be considered very wealthy, because both of these ideas put you in a place that is far away from what you have grown up to consider “normal.” The problem ends up being that too many of us end up closer to the desperate side of things and aren’t willing to admit it. The longer we wait to admit this, the easier it becomes for those taking advantage at the top to justify their actions by claiming most people are still middle class.
I grew up in a lower class family. My father would claim, and still does today, that we were lower middle class. My father probably made about $25,000 a year for much of that time, with my sister, brother, mother and I to support. We lived like we were middle class too, constantly being evicted from houses we were renting that presented the image of what my father though he was, that which he was not. This is the case for many Americans.
With the boom of credit cards, many of us rack up huge amounts of debt presenting images like this. If you don’t have a big screen TV and a car that was purchased in the last five years, you’re suddenly an ingrate. Well, my friends, it is time to get over it. In 2010, it was found that each American owes an average of about $45,000 in personal debt. This hardly even goes into the intense amount of debt people go into to go to schools that will give them a fancier piece of paper than another school. Americans are desperate to look attractive on paper.
I’m done with it. I am lower class and have learned a lot from being lower class. The day I become upper class, or even middle class, I will admit to that too, being proud that I was able to achieve more than what I grew up with. My father worked hard and provided for a family, but we were lower class. There’s nothing wrong with it, but there is something very wrong with a society that is unwilling to be honest about where it actually stands when the bills come to be paid.