[Written after reading Your Reps Rated: DMI Drops the Science
. The DMI's mission statement
begins, "The Drum Major Institute for Public Policy is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to challenging the tired orthodoxies of both the right and the left."]
Re: Challenging Tired Orthdoxies
I read your congressional report card on support for the middle class today, and I have to say I'm bothered by its fundamental premise: that middle-class voters are the ones who need defending most, and that their interests are not the same as those of the poor. Why do you continue to play the game of treating the middle-class and the poor as two separate and inimical constituencies, when the truth is that all Americans not of the capital gains class are under attack? Do you think that middle-class voters (such as myself) are so blind or prejudiced that we'll withdraw our support from a candidate or a platform that shows too much interest in the needs of the poor? That is a tired orthodoxy, one that you ought to be challenging, not reinforcing.
My life is not ideal. I have no retirement savings -- really, no savings at all to speak of -- and while I've zeroed and canceled my credit card, I'm swimming in student loan debt. I'm a renter who has no realistic prospect of owning property in my foreseeable lifetime, since I refuse to stick my head into one of those insane new mortgage traps. But as a teacher, I belong to a union whose contract guarantees that I'll receive a raise every year. My apartment, though small, is comfortable and in good repair. I have health insurance (though I went three years without a while back). I have an advanced degree and a professional work history. What of my neighbors who may not have finished high school (here in Chicago, about 40 percent of public school students don't), who are unemployed or underemployed or employed under the table, whose already inadequate paychecks are hacked at further by the check-cashing businesses many of them must use, whose instability is preyed on by payday loan outfits, who will never be granted a market-rate mortgage loan however cheap the property they want to buy, who live in fewer than two rooms per person in their households, whose only health insurance is Medicaid, who spend so much time working to meet their needs that their children have to forgo homework in order to do housework?
These neighbors of mine are seeing the price of everything not manufactured in an overseas sweatshop -- from milk and bread to gasoline and transit fare to health care to housing -- rising relentlessly, just as I am. They live by work, not by inheritance or investments or connections, and so do I. There's only one substantive difference between them and me: I have little property, little flexibility, little expectation that things will improve; and they have even less of all of these.
So please, stop insulting my intelligence. Stop treating me like some selfish imbecile who'll feel cheated if my neighbors are given what I've got. Stop acting like my interests and their interests aren't one and the same. Both they and I are members of a community, citizens of a nation, stakeholders in a common future. Both they and I are being robbed by the same thieves. Don't draw a line between them and me -- draw a circle around us. Then let us shake hands and together go after the grinning thieves who've been robbing us all for the last 25 years.