I don’t buy any of it for a second. There is no such thing as “middle class.”
“As Smith notes, the top 20% of the American populace holds roughly 93% of the country’s financial wealth, and the top 1% of the country holds approximately 43% of the money in the U.S. Meanwhile, the middle 20% of the population — what would, officially, be called the middle class — holds only 6% of the country’s total assets.”
This is non-sense; it assumes that the top 20% holds, and will forever hold, 93% of wealth.
The truth is that there are too many forces at work to make an article like this hold water. For example, who defines what middle class is? Is a farmer in Wisconsin who makes $40,000.00 a year middle class? Is a sales guy living in a condo in Hoboken, NJ making $90,000.00 middle class? Is a stock broker living in Westport Connecticut making $180,000.00 middle class? How about a small business owner, who makes $300,000.00 but has a $900,000.000 mortgage, no retirement savings and $170,000.00 in business expenses? Are these all middle class?
Then we get to elasticity. Let’s look at a real life example. I have this friend, we’ll call him John, who will serve as a great example… In 1996 he graduated from George Mason University – a run of the mill state school. He lived in a small town house, which he shared with 2 other guys. His rent was $400/month. He made about $35,000.000/year. By The year 2000, he rented a small 1 bedroom apartment, and made $65,000.00/year. By 2008 he put another 40% on his salary, and was 4 years into home ownership. Think of people you know… What was their station in life the year they graduated from college or high school? How about 15 years later?
The point is… Has John been part of the middle class all along?
If yes, it debunks the notion that a middle class exists at all, for if he was, and continues to be in the middle class, his progress and success makes his “class” a moot point. If he was in the middle class but is no longer, it debunks the notion of class because it is a common example of how life progresses for many Americans.
My opinion is that John’s story is not so different from many Americans. For most people, I believe, there are dramatic shifts in lifestyle as they age, become more experienced and learn how to succeed. There is not a finite amount of wealth that we each get a share of, forever to have only that share. Rather, lifestyle and material wealth is quite elastic and ever-changing.
The people who have a vested interest in propagating the “class” myth in America are those who will profit by it in terms of money or power. Making people believe they are in a static class, a caste, from which there is no escape, allows politicians to more easily sell the idea of redistribution in its many forms (health care, progressive taxes, regulation, etc). I know…big conspiracy…
There is another important point about the lack of class I heard from a thinking friend of mine. He put it like this:
My real objection to this is the notion of ‘class’ within the US; we hear it all the time. If there is middle there is lower and upper class like they traditionally had in Europe. We are one people, Americans, without such ‘class’ boundaries and all that being of a ‘class’ implies. I have always objected to “middle class,” or any class in America. If one wants a snapshot of income distribution, okay, do that….upper, middle and lower income but also assign one’s own definition of each. Obviously, that definition will be arbitrary.
The key point that could have been made by this article is that our government through it’s policies and laws has both killed off most manufacturing and created a dependent class in the United States.
I don’t object to the use of the work ‘class’ in this context…dependent class.
Sums it up nicely – Lord Polonius said it best, “…brevity is the soul of wit.” Indeed.