February 23, 2011

How the middle class became the underclass

Part of our ongoing discussion about the middle class and how conservative policies seem aimed at making the middle class smaller. Check out some of the data from this article.
In 1988, the income of an average American taxpayer was $33,400, adjusted for inflation. Fast forward 20 years, and not much had changed: The average income was still just $33,000 in 2008, according to IRS data.
Exactly what we are reading everywhere. Those in the lower middle class have either stagnated or lost ground. That stagnation was hidden for quite some time with the expansion of credit and availability of credit cards and cheap loans. That allowed this stagnating class to still consume. But that isn't real advancement.

Meanwhile, the richest 1% of Americans -- those making $380,000 or more -- have seen their incomes grow 33% over the last 20 years, leaving average Americans in the dust.

I keep trying to come up with a good analogy that demonstrates this. One, using tree houses, uses the imagery of ladders down to the masses allowing access to the middle class, and those ladders (unions, subsidized education, etc) are consistently and routinely being taken up by conservatives in the name of budget cutting, or protecting the capitalist class. Meanwhile the rich get obscenely richer.

That imagery doesn't quite work, but there is something going on here. The attacks on unions in Wisconsin is part of this. As are the attacks on the safety net for the elderly and poor.

Meanwhile the Republican party pats itself on the back for defunding Planned Parenthood--and in the process will simply make it harder for poor and working class women to get cancer screenings, STD help, and even pre-natal care. But in the name of "life," Republicans are after that too.

1 comment:

leighton said...

I'm actually a little surprised at how quickly "pro-life" has morphed into meaning "anti-life." I'm trying to remember where I saw a snarky comment that just as life for conservative politicians begins at conception and ends at birth, their sense of responsibility to the public begins at their declaration of candidacy and ends at election. It seems to fit pretty well.