With all the talk from Obama about the rich, the elite and the 1%, I often wonder, “Do we really have it that bad?”
What might we use as a measurement to gauge whether or not we really are better off. The media is full of comparisons, we often hear the reports that the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer. That the middle class is under attack and is losing; indeed, shrinking.
But is it true?
Personally, I don’t think so. I think that, so far, this most recent generation, and the people living in it, have it pretty well. As a simple proof, I offer this humble observation from a random visit to my neighborhood grocery on the way to a play date:
Blueberries. By the pint. Fresh blueberries, in the middle of winter, for sale for $3.50 American. By the dozens.
And right next to them:
Fresh strawberries for 2 bucks. Two dollars for a WHOLE carton of strawberries in. the. middle. of. winter!
The strawberries came from Florida, just a hop skip and a jump from me here in Carolina. The blueberries?
The blueberries came from Chile.
Not 50 years ago would the richest men in America have available to them such fresh fruit. The potentates of the world just a generation or two ago may never have been able to enjoy such treats, perhaps at ANY time of the year.
On a random Sunday at a random store on a random errand, I had available to me the treasures of the earth.
We are truly wealthy. Certainly much more wealthy than our grandparents ever could have imagined.
Well….while I agree that we are living in an era where we have unprecedented access to many things and that we should count ourselves lucky that we are more fortunate than much of the world….can we really conclude the middle class is not shrinking because Harris Teeter has a good sale on fruit?
can we really conclude the middle class is not shrinking because Harris Teeter has a good sale on fruit?
The cry, from both sides of the aisle, is that we need to protect the Middle Class. I’ve struggled in the past to understand what the Middle Class is; in fact I’m not sure if what we are referring to the Middle Class is a financial measurement or rather an “ideal.”
Obama touched on it during his State of the Union:
“Everyone should be able to raise a family, own a home, send the kids to college and put a little away for retirement.”
With this focus on the comparison of one to another, I think that we forget the system may not be designed for perfect equality i the here and now, but rather a constant and dramatic march that we all, as a group, are getting wealthier. Again, dramatically wealthier.
The richest man in the world just 100 years ago didn’t have air conditioning Or ice cubes. He couldn’t enjoy imported fruit from Chili in January. He was unable to be sure he wouldn’t die of small pox or polio.
The point of the system is that each future generation is wealthier than the next. The system can’t produce the equality that we seem to demand of it.
For the middle class and poor to accept that the wealthy pay less in taxes and are benefiting more while the middle class shrinks because they can get cheap blueberries…well, the phrase ‘let them eat cake’ comes to mind! More importantly, I think it harms our country and economy not to have a strong middle class. The middle class spurs demand which creates jobs. The wealthy fed a bubble economy trying to chase after more wealth. The job creators are the middle class.
That said, I do think that all of us should recognize that in material terms rich and poor in America have it very good compared to most of the world and most of history. That doesn’t mean that the tax code is fair though.
For the middle class and poor to accept that the wealthy pay less in taxes and are benefiting more while the middle class shrinks because they can get cheap blueberries…well, the phrase ‘let them eat cake’ comes to mind!
I wonder. Would people be more satisfied if today’s wealth was more equally arranged but our society less wealthy overall as a result?
” For the middle class and poor to accept that the wealthy pay less in taxes and are benefiting more while the middle class shrinks because they can get cheap blueberries…well, the phrase ‘let them eat cake’ comes to mind! ”
It has been shown over and over again that as a whole the wealthy pay a majority of the taxes now. Do you deny that ? Since the middle class is numerically larger than the rich , they should be paying more of the burden than they do .
So who really benefits from more taxes ? Those who control the money . Who is that ? The President, the Congressmen, the bureaucrats, the government unions.
” The wealthy fed a bubble economy trying to chase after more wealth. ” That is false . You want the wealthy chasing after more wealth and not investing in tax shelters . The facts are that governments around the world decided to goose their housing sectors with cheap money . You can’t blame investors for putting their money into a sector that the government artificially made attractive . The US, Spain, Ireland, and a lot of others intentionally caused their own housing bubbles . To now blame the rich for doing what their governments encouraged them to do is to blame the flies for the stink coming off of the manure pile of our economy .
Barney Frank and company caused this mess, period .