10 Questions Re: Middle Class

Great write-up on 10 questions that both candidates should provide clear answers to regarding the middle class in America:

10 Questions Regarding the Middle Class

Some great points in there, and contrary to the first impression, it's not specifically anti-Bush. These are questions about issues that neither candidate is particularly clear on how they intend to address.

The problem is that what the left consider ""middle class"" I consider ""lower class."" I consider the middle class to be a married coulbe making anywhere from 60k-150k a year. The democrats consider it to be closer to 30-50k.

At least 6 of those things shouldn''t be the government''s job to fix IMO.

"Ulairi" wrote:
The problem is that what the left consider ""middle class"" I consider ""lower class."" I consider the middle class to be a married coulbe making anywhere from 60k-150k a year. The democrats consider it to be closer to 30-50k.

How can you consider a household making the median income to be ""lower class""? From page 3 of this census report, it looks to me like real median household for 2003 was about $44,000.

How can you consider a household making the median income to be ""lower class""? From page 3 of this census report, it looks to me like real median household for 2003 was about $44,000.

I cannot download the pdf, does that include retired people as household income?

One thing the report seperates out is the inflation-adjusted income of full-time male and female workers. That''s given as about 41K for men and 31K for women, so the 44K household figure seems to make sense as a median for a full-time male and part-time female earners household.

There were 88K under-65 earners, and 23K over-65 in the survey. The retired households had the lowest income. I don''t think that''s going to skew the results too much higher. Certainly it won''t push it into the 60K range, back-of-the-envelope estimate is that it''s pulling it down around 10K or less. That could be wrong. But I can''t see 60K-150K as middle class, that''s appropriately defined by a bracket around median, right? Maybe, 35k to 85K household would be a reasonable measure for middle-class, removing the retired?

The charts do show the poverty rate for over-65 dropping from 30% to 10.8% since 1966, while the rates for under 18 show a 28% to 18% drop (of 10% or so), and 18-64 roughly stable in the period, at around 10%.

So I''d say they are accounting for the elderly. They do not however factor in non-cash benefits or after-tax income. This is before-tax data.

I''m a pauper then, at my meager 45k a year

"sigfry" wrote:
I''m a pauper then, at my meager 45k a year :)

You single?

Some thoughts on the concept:

Historical note: Middle-class = Merchants, Yeomanry, Bourgeousie, Kulaks, White coller, Service sector workers.

I personally wouldn''t classify a social and cultural distinction in terms of income per year, though a correspondance often exists.

It''s a bit of a hang up from the years of ""class war"" industrial society especially in this country where the middle class first rose from its feudal beginnings after the Black death in the mid-14th century and has since gone to basically encompass 90% of the population.

Today I personally don''t think such a distinction between working class, middle class and upper class exists outside of cultural differences (accents, colloquial language, hobbys, dress sense).

It seems to me that the fluidity of the income ladder and access to education for the majority of the population has done away from the more stagnant nepotistic system.

Today''s meritocracy has in my opinion eradicated the need to use the devisive class bands which exist only for political moral high-grounding.

Thats not to say that the vestiges of class still exist in the racial memory of individuals, especially given that the memories of the old system are still living today. In general terms those from traditional working class backrounds tend towards big government, welfare, state assistance funded by heavily taxing the rich ... while those from the middle or upper classes go for the diametrical opposite; low taxation for all, small government, etc...
Perhaps a simplistic reason for why the ""middle class"" is seen as the center territory, suffering from multiple personality disorder as they do.

Its an interesting argument to suppose that perhaps the income issue will eventually supplant one ""old money"" set for ""new money"" set of middle and upper classes. Self-interest of course lending itself to familar cultural values.

Overall I think asking just ""what the hell the middle class today?"" is an interesting question. Is it really income based? Is it job based? Is it education, appearance, geneology, post/zip code based?

Truth is, I think its more parsimonious to say its none of the above, a cohesive classification is impossible... it could be that the class exists purely as a position on the political spectrum.

The problem is that what the left consider ""middle class"" I consider ""lower class."" I consider the middle class to be a married coulbe making anywhere from 60k-150k a year. The democrats consider it to be closer to 30-50k.

Spoken like a man still in college.

Income is an ineffective way to classify people into a class because of gross income disparity based on geographic region.
The middle class in the North East would have a higher median income than the middle class in the South.

I believe the best guess for a middle class would be a married couple with around 35k - 55k before tax income living in the South. Therefore, you would have to geographically adjust this number to reflect average salaries for the region you are examining.

Oh, and the governmnet isn''t -shouldn''t be- responsible for half the stuff on that list.

*clarification

I don''t know who makes this crap up. Being in a middle class family with a $150k yearly combined by both parents before taxes makes me wonder how people could live anywhere in the US on 35k-55k a year. Keep in mind I took that Miami is horribly expensive.

"Edwin" wrote:
I don''t know who makes this crap up. Being in a middle class family with a $150k yearly combined by both parents before taxes makes me wonder how people could live anywhere in the US on 35k-55k a year. Keep in mind I took that Miami is horribly expensive.
Arizona.

Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Missippi, Misouri, etc.

The problem is that what the left consider ""middle class"" I consider ""lower class."" I consider the middle class to be a married coulbe making anywhere from 60k-150k a year. The democrats consider it to be closer to 30-50k.

Spoken like a man still in college.

Now that''s the honest truth. I remember being in college and wondering how ANYONE could spend $60,000/year. I was amazed to think that anyone could be so poor at managing their money that they couldn''t make ends meet on that much money.

I discovered the truth in the economic theory of the MPC (marginal propensity to consume) which says the more you make, the more you spend very quickly...


I discovered the truth in the economic theory of the MPC (marginal propensity to consume) which says the more you make, the more you spend very quickly...

Unfortunately, it''s true even if you know about the theory.

When my wife and I first got married, she thought that if we made over $50k/year we should give the rest to charity (our combined income was around 26k/year at the time). Needless to say when we passed it she never said anything about that again (although we do give to charity).

"Ulairi" wrote:
The problem is that what the left consider ""middle class"" I consider ""lower class."" I consider the middle class to be a married coulbe making anywhere from 60k-150k a year. The democrats consider it to be closer to 30-50k.

I don''t see myself ever making over 50k/year (adjusted for inflation from the current time); I don''t think it''ll be possible given the careers which interest me. Money just isn''t my driving force, though I guess it should be given the world I live in.

Thing is, when the day comes that I meet the right woman and get married, I''d like her to have the option of being a stay-at-home mom if she wants to. I doubt that''ll be feasible with the kind of income I''ll be making.

So, yeah... guess I''ll never get out of the lower class then. So be it.

The lower class is composed of people who do not live comfortably. If you make enough money to be able to go out to eat when you want, can buy some of the toys you like, and don''t really have to live from pay-check to pay-check then you are not lower class.

I know people in the lower class, they can''t pay all of their bills every month (excluding credit card bills- people can force themselves into the lower class by being stupid with credit) and they can''t afford any of the things they really want. The lower class would not be a fun place to be and there should probably be some type of government aid to help those people who are unfortunate enough to belong to that group.

I know people in the lower class, they can''t pay all of their bills every month (excluding credit card bills- people can force themselves into the lower class by being stupid with credit) and they can''t afford any of the things they really want. The lower class would not be a fun place to be and there should probably be some type of government aid to help those people who are unfortunate enough to belong to that group.

Yes. It is called community college and tech schools. If you are in that situation, get into school and better yourself. I know people hate it when I say this but, moving might be a great way to increase your standard of living.

I know people hate it when I say this but, moving might be a great way to increase your standard of living.

This is true in some cases. But if you live in Texas there aren''t a whole hell of a lot of places you can move to make your dollar go further.

"scoli" wrote:
The lower class is composed of people who do not live comfortably. If you make enough money to be able to go out to eat when you want, can buy some of the toys you like, and don''t really have to live from pay-check to pay-check then you are not lower class.

Or you manage your money wisely. I know- my wife and I were there for the first 5 years we were married.

"scioli" wrote:
I know people in the lower class, they can''t pay all of their bills every month (excluding credit card bills- people can force themselves into the lower class by being stupid with credit) and they can''t afford any of the things they really want. The lower class would not be a fun place to be and there should probably be some type of government aid to help those people who are unfortunate enough to belong to that group.

Well, the fact that that group pays almost none of the tax burden while benefiting greatly from taxes could be considered government aid. No, the lower class isn''t a fun place to be, and it''s questionable if we do our society a real service by making it so.


No, the lower class isn''t a fun place to be, and it''s questionable if we do our society a real service by making it so.

Ah, so charity is a poor societal service as well?

I don''t think either charity or government entitlements make poverty/the lower class/slums a ""fun"" place to be, in any way. I think that''s projecting from the relatively few abusers onto the entire class. It''s no different from concluding that the rich are all arrogant powermongers who inherited their money. The issue is a lot more complicated, but if you can think of it as simple, it''s easy to dismiss. ""Oh, they could get out of poverty, if they really wanted to..."". I think that''s highly unrealistic.

"Robear" wrote:

No, the lower class isn''t a fun place to be, and it''s questionable if we do our society a real service by making it so.

Ah, so charity is a poor societal service as well?

I don''t think either charity or government entitlements make poverty/the lower class/slums a ""fun"" place to be, in any way. I think that''s projecting from the relatively few abusers onto the entire class. It''s no different from concluding that the rich are all arrogant powermongers who inherited their money. The issue is a lot more complicated, but if you can think of it as simple, it''s easy to dismiss. ""Oh, they could get out of poverty, if they really wanted to..."". I think that''s highly unrealistic.

I don''t believe that''s a fair representation of my position, as my wife and I have steadily given to charitable organizations the entire time we''ve been married, even back when our combined income was sub $12/hr. First of all, I don''t believe you can plausibly argue that what we call ""poverty"" in this country is comprable at all to what was considered ""poverty"" in this country 50 years ago. I say this because my parents grew up in poverty in the South; for instance, my dad chopped cotton at 8 years old to buy school clothes that had to last him until the following summer when he could earn enough to buy more. I just don''t see that happening today; at least in the South, my parents have seen an absolutely staggering increase in the standard of living within their lifetimes. I believe that there have been governmental policies that have helped the situation, but I believe that economic growth the likes of which the world has never seen before has been even more responsible. My parents were absolutely determined that their children would not have the kind of life they grew up in. Millions of other Americans (many from other countries) felt and lived the same way. Those are the kind of people that make this country great, and that''s what we simply must encourage if we are to remain great as a nation. I''m not opposed to charity; I''m opposed to government subsidation of poverty.


No, the lower class isn''t a fun place to be, and it''s questionable if we do our society a real service by making it so.

I''m just working from what you''ve posted, not trying to put words in your mouth. I don''t mean to make fun of it, but the wording seemed to be arguing that government subsidies made poverty somehow desirable.

I have relatives in the South, who work in paper mills and on small farms, and are not by any means well-off. My father''s family was dirt-poor farmers until my generation. I know what it''s like, I grew up washing tin foil to reuse it and my brother wore my old clothes. My dad''s a minister, I''m not unfamiliar with people who come to the church for help. And we were raised understanding that school and hard work would get us out and secure our futures, and it did. I''m well off.

I''ve seen only a few families that had given up. My experience is that the vast majority of people who are poor don''t want to be there, government help or not, but the situations they are in add to the difficulties of getting out. That''s one side of it. Brushing that aside doesn''t take into account the people who want to get out, but have more than gathering their will to do it. They need help, and they''ll take it as it comes, but it''s a long road.

Ppoor is indeed relative. We are all far better off than people were a century ago. By those measures, I''m richer than a Rockefeller - my everyday conveniences would be unimagineable to them. And if you compare that to an early 19th century landholder, it looks even better.

But in each of those times, you had people who were poor by the standards of the time, as we do now. But I don''t see Hoover telling people that they are far better off than someone in the 1820''s, so they don''t deserve much support from the government. And I don''t think that argument flies now. (Now, we did do that in the 19th century and early 20th, in effect, but you can read Sinclair Lewis to see how that turned out.) Poor *is* relative; but it''s still poor. Poor people are not succeeding in their pursuit of happiness, no matter how well off they are in an absolute way. Perhaps that will change when we no longer have to work for anything, but we are nowhere near that level of automation yet.

I also don''t see a difference between charities and government handouts. The goals are the same. Many of the bureaucratic problems plague both of them, and both suffer from abuse. I don''t understand why one is good, and the other is bad. Both the Church and the Government have as part of their mandates the effort to help people become happier in their lives.

I think we should be proud that the average poor person in America has a tv, and a phone, and a microwave, and a fridge, and the like. That''s progress. But it does not mean they are not poor! It means that they can subsist at a reasonable level, but not in a competitive way. For that, they need an education, a marketable skill, perhaps some subsidized daycare, a subsidized house, maybe food stamps. Without that kind of help, we simply sentence them to stay on the lower rung, without a fantastic effort that some people - single mothers, for example, without a high school degree - can handle. And the argument seems to be, ""well, they aren''t *really* poor because they have this stuff...I guess we can safely cut benefits."" The moral superiority of having clawed your way up and out is an added incentive to look down and say ""They may not really be trying."" But without exception, the working poor that I know and have known work lots harder than I do, and they *still* have trouble getting out. The deck is stacked against them.

Certainly people who work hard and succeed make the country great. But people''s circumstances are not just a factor of desire and hard work. I don''t think helping out those who find themselves in difficulty is ""subsidizing poverty"". In fact, after the welfare reforms, I don''t see a way for anyone to stay on welfare indefinitely - I think this issue in that regard is dead. It''s kept on as a boogieman to get people to continue to cut services, despite the fact that the reform was succesful, and has been touted as such.

I respect your position, but I think there''s a lot of rationalization floating around that is designed to simply support cutting, and cutting, and cutting government benefits. At the same time, charity is encouraged - even though it does the same thing. Doesn''t add up for me. I''d rather see a national standard for benefits than see people depend on organizations that are *allowed* to discriminate. What sort of support will a poor Muslim family receive in, say, Oklahoma, compared to a poor Christian family, if the local charity is evangelical? (Yeah, I know, that''s a different issue.)

Poverty may not be as desperate as it was 50 years ago, but it''s still poverty, and it should still be addressed by the government, for reasons of consistency and fairness. The welfare reforms have been acclaimed as successful; this issue should by all rights be dead. I believe the continued focus on a softly defined ""welfare queen"" issue is scaremongering, and to a degree is designed to make people feel better about refusing to fund otherwise useful services, and push these services to the religious sector.

I don''t understand why everyone thinks that the government is the only recourse to aid people in poverty. I understand that Roosevelt really started government bailouts during the depression, but why is this a tradition that has continued? Why have we saddled our government with the responsibilty for the poor? I would think that private enterprise and non-profit groups could do a better job of aiding the poor, and then you could donate at will rather than have a deduction from your paycheck for a service you don''t believe is something the government should handle. Could someone please explain to me how and why it''s the government''s responsibility to help these people?

I don''t understand why everyone thinks that the government is the only recourse to aid people in poverty. I understand that Roosevelt really started government bailouts during the depression, but why is this a tradition that has continued? Why have we saddled our government with the responsibilty for the poor? I would think that private enterprise and non-profit groups could do a better job of aiding the poor, and then you could donate at will rather than have a deduction from your paycheck for a service you don''t believe is something the government should handle. Could someone please explain to me how and why it''s the government''s responsibility to help these people?

I would say that as citizens of the country thay deserve help.

There are people with no family that fall on hard times. As citizens who have worked hard and paid taxes, don''t they deserve it?

A good point I read in an article today, is these people also have kids. These kids need help to grow up and make it into college (financially). Without that help, these MILLIONS of kids won''t ever make it TO college. These kids, if they make it, can be the future business leaders or politicians that make decisions about us when we are old.

I would say that as citizens of the country thay deserve help.

There are people with no family that fall on hard times. As citizens who have worked hard and paid taxes, don''t they deserve it?

A good point I read in an article today, is these people also have kids. These kids need help to grow up and make it into college (financially). Without that help, these MILLIONS of kids won''t ever make it TO college. These kids, if they make it, can be the future business leaders or politicians that make decisions about us when we are old.

Karma, I''m not saying that people don''t need help. I''m asking why it has to be the government to do it?

Because a large majority of people don''t care about something unless it effect them?

That would be my honest opinion.

"karmajay" wrote:
Because a large majority of people don''t care about something unless it effect them?

But people are affected by a great many things; the desire to help and provide service to people through their church and community, messages and images through the media that hit an emotional cord and result in donation to charitable causes, or just a desire to help others.

The governement is far too slow and costly to provide all the services needed by a society. A libritarian friend of mine was sharing the cost of the government to provide services vs. the cost of a private charity. Needless to say, the governement is far more costly and ineffective at providing these services.

That would be my humble opinion.


I''m asking why it has to be the government to do it?

Because as we saw in the Great Depression, there are events that are so severe that even the Church and the non-profits cannot handle the need for assistance.