Middle Class America
My father once told me that his dream and purpose into coming to the United States of America was to become a part of the enlarging middle class. My father wanted a piece of the American middle class pie. To him middle class meant luxury, comfort and peace of mind. My father’s sense of luxury and comfort meant that the home in which his family lived in was stable and had running water. These may seem common place and expected in America today but during his time, these were seen as luxury and only for the wealthy.
Myself, being born in America and being surrounded by, what my father believes is luxury, have a more skewed view on the middle class. If using the American grading system, the middle class would represent the C and B, average or slightly above average. Middle class has no dependence on the government for any help, such as food stamps or welfare. The middle class lives a modest life style but are fully dependent on themselves and could provide for the whole family with their reliable jobs. The middle class is also the main demographic for many consumer goods so to be a part of this demographic, the middle class must have sufficient amounts of disposable income for these businesses to target them.
The middle class is a distant but obtainable dream and being considered anything but that or above would be a travesty for both myself and my family. Being able to provide for my family for years to come, provide for my parents whom have come to a distant land for a better future for me, and having disposable income to spurge on the next greatest iPhone are the End-Game fantasy.
To my father, the middle class was the dream of having running water readily available. To me is the dream of being able to spurge on the year’s newest iPhone.
There was a time not too long ago when the term “middle class” was easily defined, considered to be the level between upper class and poverty. The middle class lived comfortable lives. They worked for a living, maybe both spouses did, but they got by on an income and wealth that was acceptable for supplying for and maintaining a family. Nowadays, the same definition does not necessarily apply.
Instead of living comfortable lives with two spouses working one job and raising a family, many middle class families are forced to work 2 or more jobs on salaries that can hardly pay rent let alone support a whole family. Middle class is no longer a comfortable middle ground that people aim to reach in their lives. Middle class is a pit of uncertainty and blurred lines. You can be basically impoverished now and still be considered middle class or you can be very well off, have a large house, and a high income. The limitations for middle class households have lessened substantially. If you’re making less than a 6 figure income, you’re considered middle class and most people in this world are not making anywhere near a 6 figure income. You’re either a sickeningly wealthy CEO of a successful business or you’re working 60 hour weeks just to put food on the table. The rest is a wide range of different incomes and wealth that are all still considered middle class.
Middle class has basically, in the end, become the new lower class because to be in the supposed middle class is to be so much lower than the upper class citizens. That significant difference in wealth and income cannot be compared by terms so close together. Middle class citizens in the past made more than the middle class citizens of today. So how can they still be considered middle class? If this country were to reevaluate its definition of middle class, they would find that the majority of the people they believe to fit into that standard would actually be closer to fitting into the lower class, impoverished class.
By Amanda Hoey
The middle class to me is the average American. The middle class is someone again to me makes from 20,000 to 60,000 dollars a year. People of the middle class seem to be stuck in the class, or maybe even drop to a lower class if poor life events were to take place, but that being said I believe it is hard and not too often that people raise to a higher class. If such a thing were to exist it must be through doing a great job in college and receiving a well paying job. Again this is hard but it does happen, or you might get the fluke of someone winning the lottery or receive a gracious amount of money through a will. But I believe those who live in the middle class for most their lives would be able to (at least I hope) better manage their money if they were to raise to another class. Like stated earlier this class is a hard working class that some may live paycheck to paycheck; but vastly are the mass of America, they/we are the students, the teachers, construction workers, We are America. We build the economy so that the higher class can benefit, and also the lower class, we built America, this is the only class that America cannot survive without. We are the backbone of our society, America would be able to exist without the lower class, it may be able to exist without the higher class, but without us, the middle class America would die. That is why we must never forget the middle class, that is why we must better the middle class, that is why we should reward the middle class, because America is the middle class, our benefit is America’s benefit.
The middle class is the driving force behind sustaining businesses. While the middle class is dwindling, the economy simultaneously suffers. When business owners use business as a tool for a more progressive result, they can create a social impact that is more than financial metrics and can, in fact, help positively impact and grow the middle class. With more and more business owners pursuing something greater than the quarterly cycle dollars, their missions will be able to extend the life of the middle class.
By default, the middle class is known to be educated, hard-working and of modest lifestyles. Problems arise on two different spectrums for this class that cause them to lose their placehold in this economic tier. One is when middle class people try to live far wealthier than their incomes allow. With so many people trying to keep up with the Joneses, or more accurately today, the Kardashians, they tend to lose sight of the fact that they do not have the incomes to supplement these types of lavish purchases as their beloved counterparts do. An increasing number of people in this group are throwing themselves into credit card debt to maintain a lifestyle that does not match their income. On the other hand, the second problem is with those that are extremely hard-working and yet are losing their jobs over problems solely associated with our country’s economic downfalls. People are working more hours to earn less, which is hurting them not just on a financial level but also on a humane level.
Prior to the age of rising inequality in our country, nobody aspired to be middle class. The focus was entirely on rich, lavish lifestyles. However, with so many people thrown into poverty, more people are striving to become a part of this declining class. The middle class is hardly what is used to be on both an aspirational level and a financial level.
By: Maureen Smith
The American middle class I believe is loosely defined. The middle class is a class of working household members that makes a certain income between $36,000 and $57,657 a year. The middle class might not be the ideal place to be if you desire a fabulous lifestyle in Malibu, but it is generally considered successful and can become a comfortable lifestyle and a decent retirement to live out the rest of your days.
By no means is the middle class an easy way of life because it does involve hard work and unless you receive an unlikely high pay an hour to work part time, a typical Middle class person will be working at least 40 hours a week, this might also include ones spouse working the same amount of hours in a week.
The middle class is not only a safe class to live a happy life but it is also the most important. The middle class is the foundation in the United States. The middle class holds together the upper and lower classes. It is said the middle class is slowly disappearing in the United States and with that the economy as well. This should give some hindsight to the importance of the middle class.
The way the system and economy is set up in the United States is strongly based on the middle class. I think the middle class needs to be fixed. Big complaints of the middle class are taxes because most of all the classes are from middle class.
Hopefully the middle class can thrive once again and bring the economy back in good standing. Although the middle class is just a labeled a category, it is the foundation of the American economy.
Every individual has their own definition of what does the middle class mean to them. My way of expressing it, is people who work hard for their money and not relying on the government aid such as, food stamps or cash assistants. Its really the people that bust their butts everyday to make a good and stable living. Middle class is considered to being “average.” In other words, not rich but neither is poor. A family that has a stable income which allows them to have sufficient funds to survive. A middle calss family should be able to have enough food for the family. They should also have safe shelter and be able to support other needs such as clothing. People may or may may not be able to afford a few luxuries once in a while like vacation or going out to eat at expensive restaurants.
I consider my family as a middle class. I have a single mother who raised three girls on her own, me being one of them of course. We do live comfortable but there were times when I was younger that my mother would think about “How are we going to pay this bill or What is there to eat today?” Everyday in my household was a slight different dealing with money. We didn’t eat at restaurants as much as other families would. We would only eat out when it was a special occasion such as birthdays or celebrating one of our success in school or work. Also when we wanted something expensive or not in money range, we would get it but we would have to wait for it first. However, now we do go out occasionally to eat at restaurants, we are living comfortable, all of my sisters have stable jobs and we all can get get things we want and sometimes their will still be a little wait.
By Tim Schilling
I have lived comfortably my entire life. My family is not filthy rich, but we are also not struggling. I don’t hear much about money in my house, and I never really ever thought why. Is it because my parents do well enough that we don’t have to discuss what we can and can’t have, or is it that we aren’t doing so well that it could be embarrassing for my parents to discuss it? So when I was asked to define what the middle class means to me, I wasn’t really sure what to say. Is it living in a house just big enough for your family, or a house with two extra bedrooms and a pool? Is it owning all new cars, or keeping the one you bought just five years ago that still works well?
After thinking about it for a while, and still not sure how to define what the middle class is to me, it made me realize: that’s what the middle class is. It is relative to anyone you ask, but the middle class is what I have grown up in comfortably my entire life. The house I live in is just big enough for my family. Until my grandma moved in with us three years ago, we had an extra bedroom. We used it as an office for my mom who works at home. We have a pool. It’s not in ground, but it has a nice deck that goes around the outside. We don’t own any Mercedes or BMWs; we have Nissans and Jeeps that were all made within the last decade. My parents don’t discuss money around me very much because they can afford what we need and a few things that we want, and that is what the middle class is to me.
Welcome to our blog.
The above photo was taken by me (Susan Campbell) during a recent outing with the Hartford Homeless Outreach team. This is a team of dedicated individuals who go out to try to reach people who are chronically homeless, starting at 6 a.m. every Thursday. This photo was taken at the open door of a detached tractor trailer, where at least five men were making a home. None of the men were there at the time.
But it’s not just men who are homeless in Connecticut. There are women who are homeless. There are even children.
When we talk about wealth and income inequality, we’re talking about things like this:
But pie charts only tell part of the story. With this blog — and with our other class assignments, as well — we intend to tell the story of economic inequality from the ground up.
— Susan Campbell