What is it, how is it defined? Is it growing? Shrinking? Is it, more importantly, being exploited by the rich and the powerful to enable their largess?
Is Obama right? Is it true, in fact, that the folks-the “Us”- are being used and manipulated in some grand game to keep the rich richer?
For me, the rhetoric needs substance; needs some form of validation. There has to be some means by which the idea has a backdrop to judge the truth. There has to be a definition of the middle class that we can use to see if, in fact, what is being said is true. Or not true. And for me, it comes down to two things:
- The earnings of the middle class.
- The life style, or things, that the middle class can buy.
So, let’s take a look:
First the first. Have we in fact punished the poor for the benefit of the rich? Have we reduced the prosperity of American’s in general in order to maintain the privilege of the few rich and wealthy? It doesn’t appear to be the case:
In 1967 [earliest data available] 83.7% of the families in America made less than $75,000 in constant 2008 dollars.
That percentage in 2008? 59.7%.
In other words, 16.3% of Americans were making $75k or more in 1967. In 2008, better than 4 in 10, or 40% of Americans were making that same money.
And the mean income in 2008? $79,634.00 compared to $49.606.00 in 1967. Not only has the median income gone up, but the % of people making it has gone up as well.
More people are better off.