All this talk about the middle class. What about the rest of us?

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Whenever I hear a politician, a newscaster, a pundit and even Thom Hartmann talk about solutions for our nation, they mostly seem to talk about how a certain issue will or will not affect the middle class.

Recent figures show that the lower class now consists of one half of the nation.

I understand why politicians and main stream media address their talking points to the middle class. The middle class has traditionally been the buffer between the upper and the lower class. The middle class gets enough goodies (until recently) to keep them in line and to help keep order so that the lower class will not demand their rights. Obviously, politicians need votes. There are many rich people (relative to others) and the lower class is so non-represented by the government that the lower class has given up voting in most cases. There is a race component, in this racist nation of ours...but, that is another topic.

And mainstream TV (millionaire) news people have to appeal to the demographics that their advertisers are targeting...sorry, business speak for: the middle class buys the garbage that advertisers push on the public with TV advertising, so the news casters are most interested in catching the attention of the middle class so that they will watch the commercials targeting them.

But, why does Thom, and some of the cooler pundits out there, address all of their comments to how things will affect the middle class? I'm guessing it is because they are and have always been in the middle class and probably only know middle class people. I get that, I grew up in the middle class, I was tempted by the middle class, I tried to be part of it and have since been kicked out after becoming a single parent.

I urge you Thom to start addressing your concerns and comments to the lower class too: you know, all the people in the working class and the poor people. We are over half of the nation now. Too many children live in our class. If Congress and TV commentators and pundits and lots of others started addressing the concerns of the poor/working class, we would see the middle class get some goodies too, so it is a win/win...well, except for the upper class that gets all of their wealth and position from the lower (working/poor) class.

Redlocks's picture
Redlocks
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Comments

You make a good point. The lowest of the lowest "classes" in society need to be discussed. The working poor for the most part are NOT lazy or stupid. It is a tragedy that there are millions of people out there who are more than willing to work themselves to the bone, literally and figuratively, but can't work for the job they do and can do well, is so hard to find. If I had the power and the money, I would create a ton of small businesses and let these tragic hard workers fill these jobs like a sponge thrown into a bucket of water.

micahjr34
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Feb. 7, 2011 4:57 pm

Probably most Americans, unless they are really destitute, consider themselves "middle class" even though they aren't.

Most of my neighbors see themselves as "middle class", though I'd categorize them as the "working poor". As the middle class continues to shrink, it will be re-defined...and the "working poor" will be the new "middle class". The new middle between absolute poverty and lack of basic necessities for life, and the wealthy. The "working poor" will be the new "middle".

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

"Middle class" is used as a placeholder for the proletariate in the US. Basically anyone who works for a living.

ah2
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Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm

It's a sliding scale which keeps on sliding in the wrong direction. Where you decide to draw the line between the lower and the middle doesn't really matter as long as you define the line near the top. Most of our elected officials are too close or even above that top line. Will they ever back away from the lobby money and trust in our votes?

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Laborisgood
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I don't really care about the lower class, apart from equivalent (free and quality) healthcare education to that provided the middle class. The middle class should have more and superior public services, police and fire, public spaces, newer public buildings.

The default social order is the plantation, 1 owner and 1,000 slaves. If the slaves revolt and kill the owner a significant number of them will die because they will not have the knowledge to produce the crops (because the owner intentionally kept them ignorant for precisely this scenario.) If the tribe across the river attacks, no one will defend the plantation, the owner will be killed, the slaves will remain slaves.

There will always be an owner. The dilemma is how many of the slaves will be allotted to be the middle class. The middle class today in this country is too small, IMO. I would bet that it is the smallest it's been since the founding of Jamestown (in the non-slavery areas.)

chilidog
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote Laborisgood:

It's a sliding scale which keeps on sliding in the wrong direction. Where you decide to draw the line between the lower and the middle doesn't really matter as long as you define the line near the top. Most of our elected officials are too close or even above that top line. Will they ever back away from the lobby money and trust in our votes?

Politicians will never get off the lobbyists tits until we the voters force them too by putting them in the unemployment line as often as needed. The recent ignorant decision by the USSC made sure they all will stay connected until that decision can be reversed or until we elect those with ethics. I won't hold my breath while waiting to find politicians with ethics. I don't think I could hold it that long.

Sprinklerfitter's picture
Sprinklerfitter
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Sep. 1, 2011 6:49 am
Quote Sprinklerfitter:
Quote Laborisgood:

It's a sliding scale which keeps on sliding in the wrong direction. Where you decide to draw the line between the lower and the middle doesn't really matter as long as you define the line near the top. Most of our elected officials are too close or even above that top line. Will they ever back away from the lobby money and trust in our votes?

Politicians will never get off the lobbyists tits until we the voters force them too by putting them in the unemployment line as often as needed. The recent ignorant decision by the USSC made sure they all will stay connected until that decision can be reversed or until we elect those with ethics. I won't hold my breath while waiting to find politicians with ethics. I don't think I could hold it that long.

No need to hold our breath. Ethics has no room to grow with all the money choking it out. Ethics probably has less to do with it than economics and job security. When we can make it clear that our votes have more value than the money getting thrown at them, we can systematically chip away at them. In the mean time:

http://movetoamend.org/

Until the Amendment, we just have to work a little harder.

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Laborisgood
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I must admit that my stance of being in sympathy with the "lowest classes" is an ideological one. I must admit that I have not lived my life in their shoes, except as a young baby when my parents were starting their financial careers being at the bottom of the employment totem pole, so to speak. However, it just drives me crazy when the "value " of the work of some people predetermines them as members of the "lower class" for life, regardless of how hard they can work. I guess that it is just a serenity prayer moment:

"Dear higher power,"

"Please help me change what I can change. Please help me cope with what I can't change. Please give me the wisdom to tell the difference between the two."

micahjr34
Joined:
Feb. 7, 2011 4:57 pm

When they speak of the middle class they are speaking hypathetically. There is no more middle class and they all know it. They are usually speaking to all of the working poor who at one time were the middle class. If I start talking about improvements to the middle class, I am talking about bringing millions of working poor back into the fold.

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Bush_Wacker
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Jun. 25, 2011 7:53 am

The discussion, when it comes to social inequality and employment, falls into what I call traditional progressive issues. The chief issue that is raised by progressives in this area is the minimium wage. Thom on rare occasion I think has given a figure that he feels would be a fair minimum wage, but it would be better if he either had on a labor economist to talk about this, as a welcome alternative to all of the right-wing guests he has on, or to simply ask workers to call in and to state what they believe a minimum living wage would be for their regions of the country.

Another aspect of this topic of poverty that is almost never mentioned by anyone, at least not in a positive, proactive way, is the low income of a majority of disabled citizens. I notice that other than comments about banking, Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, too big to fail, and the Federal Reserve, general references to the middle class being "screwed," and the Republican dislike of government programs for the elderly and disabled, there is not any discussion here or on progressive shows about public policy as it relates to the disabled, physical, mental, or a combination thereof. Although there are any number of progressive-minded physicians, talk show hosts are not, a far as I know, licensed, trained physicians. A disability is a medical condition. There should be more interviews with doctors as well sociologists, public policy analysts, and advocates about the inadequate protections for disabled people from an economic and social inequality standpoint.

In the area of mental health, the organization NAMI has something called "Grading the States," a report that consists of a national report card of mental health services through the organized mental health system in the 50 states and in the nation as a whole. NAMI gave my state as well as the entire country a grade of D-. The public often only sees the results of these failings when there is a tragic mass shooting, as occurred in Arizona or at Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois University, and other places. In most cases, the mentally ill are never seen or heard from.

The problems of the inner city where poverty is often widespread are virtually ignored by progressive talk show hosts. This is a difficult and complex topic, but hosts could have on researchers from universities such as the University of Chicago School of Social Services Administration or Howard University, George Washington University, the University of Maryland, some Ivy League university, or any other number of schools, discussing programs that have been found to work to disuade young people from participating in street gangs or in helping struggling urban families to raise their children successfully and tp make economic progress. Also, if the Gingrich/Clinton welfare reform legislation has contributed to incresed poverty and homelessness, or if it has actually helped people to become employed and middle class, I think there should be a discussion about this whole complex topic which would involve a certain amount of statistical information which some academicians or government officials would be familiar with. I may go to Thom's blog and mention some of this there.

Thom should adopt the same format he uses when he has Senator Bernie Sanders on of having callers ask questions rather than make statements when he has on experts such as I have alluded to above. Thom could do more to raise the level of discussion on economic inequality and the proper and sometimes necessary role of government in this regard. This area is one in which there are far too many negative stereotypes which originated from the days of slavery and have evolved into new forms.

The Bill Cosy approach of chastisement has been criticized by some, most notably, by Michael Eric Dyson, and although Cosby has pointed out some obvious failings of members of the urban African-American community, his analysis is superficial and does not go far enough in proposing empirically-based solutions. Someone with both cultural and economic insights like Professor Dyson would be a great guest to have on. The idea that one host, no matter how well-researched and well-informed, can be an expert on everything just isn't realistic and is not entirely fair to the listeners, in my opinion.

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Robindell
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

michah wrote: "I must admit that my stance of being in sympathy with the "lowest classes" is....."

poly replies: I think you'll find that the people you are referring to find it offensive to be referred to in that manner. The lady next door sent a Dem Obama door-knocker quickly packing for making a similar remark...."lower classes like you need help.".

Saying something like, "Hard working people ;like us who are being screwed need a fair deal", would be likely to get you an invitation to a cup of coffee or a beer instead of a kick in the behind..

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Thank You Very Much, Polycarp2! Now that I look at it, yeah! That was not what I would have liked to communicate, but I did. Thank you for the major good advice!

micahjr34
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Feb. 7, 2011 4:57 pm
Quote micahjr34:

Thank You Very Much, Polycarp2! Now that I look at it, yeah! That was not what I would have liked to communicate, but I did. Thank you for the major good advice!

The meaning of "lower class" to the class you refer to is "scum", "trash", etc. They consider themselves either poor or middle class. The term "lower class" isn't defined in the academic sense.

An Obama door-knocker offering to "help the lower class like you"., interpreted ...."help scum and trash like you"..... is offensive. If they get away without being belted, they are lucky. Progessives have to learn to define their message better.

Meanings of some words change as you ascend or descend the socio/economic scale.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Again, Polycarp2,

Thank you for the heads up!

micahjr34
Joined:
Feb. 7, 2011 4:57 pm

"Bearing in mind the wretched and down-trodden class from which the Beghards were generally recruited, and the fact that they were so little trammelled by ecclesiastical control,[citation needed] it is not surprising that the mysticism of some of them presently became a sort of mystical pantheism, or that some of them gradually developed opinions not in harmony with the Catholic Church, opinions, indeed, if we may trust John of Ruysbroeck, which seem to have differed little from the religious and political opinions professed by anarchists of later centuries." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beguine

Since pantheism type religion is so popular today this proves that the less materially endowed class is the vestibule of True Knowledge.

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nimblecivet
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

When three million per year is considered "middle class", as John Macain did, it looses meaning. The only reason the label "middle class" is important is so that we consumers can have gauge to measure our relative "success" against our peers. That is the carrot on the stick that keeps the slaves returning to the mine, day after day.

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D_NATURED
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Oct. 20, 2010 8:47 pm

"Middle" is defined as equal distance between two extremes. If you graphed the incomes and wealth of all Americans, the only way to define a middle of any significant size would require using a logarthmic scale. The 90 percentile is way closer to the 10 percentile than it is the 99 percentile and that relationship has been going further in that direction for 30 years now.

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Laborisgood
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