I really have to shout something from the rooftops. Way too many people have bought into the re-definition of what "middle class" is. Simply put, true "middle class" is historically defined as a one-income family being able to buy a home, a car and support a family. Surprised? You shouldn't be. This was the definition of the vast majority of households here in the U.S. for many years. If you are not old enough to remember, just watch some of the popular TV shows from the 50's and 60's and even the early 70's.

What we used to call "middle class" is now more accurately a "working class" on steroids. Currently, most households need at least two or more incomes to provide for their families. They do have more stuff; mostly from China, a bigger home and additional (bigger) cars, but are in debt up to the eyeballs. How did we get here?

Somewhere in the sensuous decade of the 80's; amidst the birth of Reaganomics and the growing trend of building malls, suburbia, and becoming overly materialistic....this notion that we need to have two incomes to "keep up" became more and more popular. Then in the prosperous 90's ...the trend went viral. So many people wanted "the good life" and used their homes as an ATM machine to buy bigger and more expensive homes. These and other major factors caused inordinate demand on (centrally located, yet decent neighborhood) housing which continued to inflate and pervert the market...."and the band played on"....

The need for a two-income family became a firmly established norm in the ever further spreading of the seemingly endless suburban sprawl. In many of the most expensive cities, by now, even two incomes were really not sufficient. Many people rented out rooms in their, now bigger homes, for the income they now needed to finance the economic insanity of urban America. This also has helped people like me, who hate apartments and I save a little money on rent!

I blame a significant part of the economic chaos of housing in urban America on our regressive tax policies, or not having a progressive real estate tax to help curb the artificial inflation and greedy speculation. I now just need to state that generally, it has been conservative, anti-labor policies of union busting, shipping jobs overseas, and the deregulation of the financial market that has decimated what was left of the "middle class". In my opinion, there is such a tiny, true middle class that we should just pronounce it "dead" circa the market crash of 2008 and the widest income gap seen in this country for almost 80 years!

When any liberal talks as if there is a "middle class", by even using this term; it weakens the cause to show how it was ALREADY dismantled completely by Reagan, and both Bush administrations. Please, enough damage has already been done! Let's make up our own terms that are appropriate for the new strata of classes which have been birthed out this economic nightmare caused by delusional "conservatives" which we accept as normal now.


scriber1's picture
scriber1 6 years 10 weeks ago

Jcgood1984: A college professor of mine said many years ago that the whole notion of upper class, middleclass, and lower class was a red herring. His basic analysis was that if you worked for a living and earned a paycheck and that was your sole income, you were a worker, period. You were either a white collar worker or a blue collar worker, but you depended on your income to survive, no matter the size of the house. His point was that dividing into class divided workers against each other. A worker was a worker and needed to take care of the interests of workers as a group, whether you were an electrician or accountant.

You are correct that we do have more stuff numerically and in opulence and that this generational viewpoint was cultivated in the 1980’s onward. But the promotion, I believe, was deliberately done by the emerging think tanks of the 80’s and 90’s. If you push a culture of me and my, basically a culturally supported selfishness, you sever the cohesiveness of workers. A culture of pettiness was cultivated while workers’ institutions i.e., unions, were attacked openly. The largest demonstration of this was the firing of the air traffic controllers. Simultaneously, jobs began to be shipped overseas, and the wide scale concept of credit was fostered. I think this credit extension served to hide from Americans the beginnings of decline in their real income and the assault on American workers.

We need to turn the tide. We can start by enforcing the antitrust laws that were slackened by conservatives and stop giving tax breaks to companies who outsource, and thus start bringing our jobs back.


kevin baggese's picture
kevin baggese 6 years 10 weeks ago

i think the republicons consider white collar jobs like IT managers,stock brokers,and bean counters of differing stripes as middle class.the rest of us are either working class,working poor class and just the dirt poor.i think the right is just fine and dandy with that.you know as a kid in the 60's and 70's i always considered my family as middle class.my dad and his brother owned a shell gas station and the property it stood on.they worked picking apricots and other produce as kids and saved the money for the fillin station.got it cheap cause the legend is a mafia hit happened on the property and lowered price cause no one wanted it.they were in business for nearly 60 years.my dad had 4 sons and one girl and a house and the best wife and mother he could have dreamed of.never saw the man cry until my older brother got cancer.saw mom and dad around the kitchen table crying because they were gonna have to sell the house to pay for my brothers treatment.they were not crying for themselves but for us-they felt they were letting us down by not keeping the middle class home that we all loved.well thanks to a dear family friend who told my folks about MEDI-CAL which they had no knowledge of(we took care of our own mostly)my family was able to STAY in our house and the middle class as it existed at that time.i was able to continue to attend catholic grammer schools and high schools.all on one hard working mans income-THAT IS WHAT THE MIDDLE CLASS WAS AND NEEDS TO BE AGAIN!!this constant push by jerks on the right to eliminate social programs like medic-aid,medi-care,social security just make me insane.these programs help keep average people in a position to have an acceptable standard of living when and if disaster strikes or simply when you get old.the alternative vision by the right will result in folks getting sicker and ultimately dying after sliding into abject poverty on a huge scale.this is i believe the repulicons not so hidden agenda.sorry for the long rant but had to get it out.peace to all and NO MORE FREE TRADE TREATIES!!!

Robindell's picture
Robindell 6 years 10 weeks ago

Many have been financially hurt through job layoffs and government budget cuts resulting in lower salaries and cuts in benefits, but the fact is that enough people are still doing well enough that the widespread prejudice and ignorance of Americans who look down on others who they believe are inferior to them will continue to produce support for Republican Tea Party candidates. The unemployed don't have a strong enough voice because even though their ranks have swelled in recent years, they still remain in the minority. It is the same with minorities who have lived in poor inner city neighborhoods for many years without much influence in improving schools, social services, safety, and economic opportunity, or the disabled, who are consigned to inadequate, inferior programs and services even though there are supposed to be civil rights and legal protections.

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Conservatives supposedly hate freeloading. So why are they trying to legalize it?

Conservatives supposedly hate freeloaders.

So why do they support right to work laws - which literally legalize freeloading?

Our nation's nine unelected monarchs on the Supreme Court are poised to deal yet another blow to organized labor.