In Milwaukee, an evaporating middle class

By David Rohde
December 15, 2011

MILWAUKEE — As Washington and Madison fiddle, this city’s middle class is in slow free fall.

First, the numbers. From 1970 to 2007, the percentage of families in the Milwaukee metropolitan area that were middle class declined from 37 to 24 percent, according to a new analysis by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.


(Click on the photo above for a slideshow)

During the same period, the proportion of affluent families grew from 22 to 27 percent–while the percentage of poor households swelled from 23 to 31 percent. In short, Milwaukee’s middle class families went from a plurality to its smallest minority. 

The biggest culprit is the disappearance of well-paying manufacturing jobs. Despite a promising recent uptick in high-end manufacturing, Milwaukee has suffered a 40 percent decline in manufacturing jobs since 1970, when Schlitz, Pabst and American Motors reigned. Instead of shrinking, the city’s urban poverty is creeping outward toward suburbs.

Late Wednesday afternoon, that was evident in the Jefferson Elementary school of West Allis, a once solidly middle class suburb bordering Milwaukee. In a crowded school gymnasium, principal Shelly Strasser said that fifty percent of students now qualify for free or reduced price school lunch programs. In other local schools, the number is ninety percent.

“It breaks your heart,” said Strasser, a West Allis native who said she now has homeless students. “That’s something we’ve never seen as a district.”

The change also emerges in Cudahy, a once middle class suburb just south of the city. As a child, Debby Pizur watched traffic jams form on local streets during factory shifts changes. Today, many of those factories are shuttered, Pizur works three jobs at the age of 59, and runs a non-profit that provides food, clothing and household items to the community’s poor.

The number of families served by her center, “Project Concern,” has doubled since she took over five years ago. Increasingly, families are “doubling and tripling up,” she said, with parents, siblings and children moving in with one another.

“I have no job,” said Brenda, a woman who declined to give her last name and blushed as she picked up free food and clothing. “I haven’t had a job for three years.”

Milwaukee’s poor, meanwhile, are poorer. A drive through the north side district of Alderman Ashanti Hamilton showed it. In the 1970s, the area was home to one of the most prosperous black communities in the nation. Two massive factories employed 15,000 workers.

“In those days, you could lose a job in the morning,” recalled Joe Bova, a 69-year-old retired crime victim advocate. “And have another job after lunch.”

Today, both plants have closed, run-down shops line derelict streets and Ashanti puts the unemployment rate for young black males at 50 percent. In Milwaukee’s poorest corners, the infant mortality rate is higher than that of the Gaza Strip, Colombia and Bulgaria.

All the while, Milwaukee’s wealthier suburbs thrive. Ozaukee County, just north of the city, is the 25th wealthiest in the United States in terms of per capita income.

“It’s basically two cities,” said Howard Snyder, executive director of the Northwest Side Community Development Corporation, a local non-profit. “Now, everybody is locked in. You can’t move in. You can’t move out. You’re stuck. There was a moment for bold action but it has passed.”

Unfortunately, Milwaukee’s dwindling middle class is part of a national trend. A November study by researchers at Stanford University found that the share of American families living in middle class neighborhoods in the United States dropped from 65 percent in 1970 to 44 percent in 2009. Milwaukee experienced the second greatest decrease in the country, according to the study; only Philadelphia’s was worse.

“Income inequality grew,” said Sean Reardon, the author of the study. “The growth in the tails in Milwaukee and the shrinking middle class is what I’d expect to see.”

How to slow that trend vexes Milwaukee officials. In the wake of big-government, anti-poverty initiatives in the 1960s and 1970s, Milwaukee adopted market-oriented downtown development projects in the 1990s and 2000s. Today, the city’s center and lakefront boast high-end residential condominiums, a sparkling convention center and stunning Santiago Calatrava-designed art museum.

New service jobs dominate the economy, but vary vastly in pay. As in other American cities, bankers, lawyers and professionals earn handsomely. Cashiers, janitors and restaurant workers struggle to make ends meet.

In recent years, the city turned several abandoned factories into new industrial parks. Tenants range from a local frozen pizza producer to a Spanish-owned firm that manufactures wind-turbine generators. Several thousand new jobs have been created, but the tens of thousands of well-paid, manufacturing jobs that built Milwaukee have not been replaced.

“You had the war on poverty and then you had the trickle down theory,” said Sherrie Tussler, executive director of the Hunger Task Force, a local non-profit that feeds a growing number of  formerly middle-class families. “And neither one worked.”

Finding a third way in Wisconsin, an epicenter of American political polarization, will not be easy. Hamilton, the alderman, insists the answers to America’s woes will emerge at the local, not state or federal level.

“It’s happening,” he said. “And it’s been demonstrated that things can work when things are not so politicized.”

The 38-year-old Milwaukee native insists he and other Democrats work closely with local business leaders to try to revive the city. Government alone is not the answer, he said. Nor is the free market alone. Wisconsin, Hamilton insists, is an example for a divided country.

“It’s an example of what not to do,” he said, “and what can be done.”

I pray he’s right.

31 comments

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I believe part of the contraction of the middle class is due to the fact that more money and resources have been directed towards the compensation of unionized public employees and expansion of governnment instead of promoting growth and development of the private sector. Where logically, the number of public service employees would be increased in order to fill the needs of communities, the unionized public service sectors have siphoned more and more public monies to expand and perpetuate themselves at the expense of tax and fee generating private enterprise and growth.

Posted by ajsfca | Report as abusive

@ajsfca

Blaming the problems of Milwaukee or any other hollowed-out shell of a US city is ridiculous.

For the past 40 years there has been a huge shift from labor to capital. It is driven by corporate greed and globalization. The corporations and the elites that run them are stateless and have no sense of responsibility towards their communities. Their only concerns are self-enrichment first and short term profits second. Nothing else is on their radar scope.

Education in the US has been driven down to the point that the only thing that matters is standardized test scores. Large cities “solve” the problem by having huge drop-out rates.

Unions and solidarity is not the problem; it is the solution. The sooner the Occupy movement succeeds the better.

Posted by upstater | Report as abusive

It seems the “materialistic mind-set” of the last 50 years has backfired. And here’s the head scratcher … we’re still doing it. Our kids today spend more time on the iPhone, eating fast-food and hanging-out than they do studying. Parents dumped them in day-cares for decades to get rich on infinitely appreciating house prices. Plop! It seems we never learn that we do in fact reap what we sow.

Posted by cm3kz0ut | Report as abusive

@ajsfca, Your assumption MIGHT have some truth if you could actually show that taxes have actually gone up to support unionized government workers. I’m betting in most places over the last 30 years, the tax rates have actually gone down.

upstater is right. Unions in the private sector ARE the solution. Those past good paying jobs in factories paid well and supported a middle class exactly because they were unionized.

Posted by KawValleyGrit | Report as abusive

The continuing collapse of the American middle class is a result of policies originating in the 1960′s with the first of the World War II generation Presidents, John Kennedy, and continuing right up to this day. The political domination of that generation continues as well, in the longest reigning political generation in US history, not surpassing the GAR generation in the post-civil war era.

The combination of military aggression (Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan) together with an export of American wealth to foreign client states via a “strong dollar” policy simply crushed the “middle class” during the last half century. American labor and industry was deliberately priced out of the market to extend the political influence of the American ruling class. This continues today.

Until give-away foreign policy is changed, the USA will continue to move toward a third world social structure. Currently, American ballots to not present an option to change these policies. The single ruling party does not allow such a choice. Instead choices are limited to selection of Government spokesmen (“talking head”) who repeat policy statements from their paymasters.

In addition, American interventionism is considered by the ruling class to be of greater importance than the welfare of American citizens. This is clearly obvious to anyone who has been laid off, forcibly “retired”, or otherwise separated from employment in the past 30 years or so. That covers most of the adult population who was born in the USA. With the Cold War over for more than 22 years, why do we have a global military that is many times larger than any possible rival’s?? There is no good reason. Certainly not in comparison to the social collapse underway here in the USA.

This article is another “blame the victim” piece that ignores the effect of brutal class warfare. The Tiny Wealthy Class pummels the Huge Laboring Class.

Posted by txgadfly | Report as abusive

This article makes me think we are all going down on the same bus. The reality we see is determined by the aisle we sit. Those sitting on the left see it one way, those on the right another. Unfortunately, sitting with our eyes glued to the windows do do not see that we are all going to crash.

At the end of the day I want to my childen to have the opportunity to have a family and be able to provide for it without assistance.

Like many families, my wife and I are struggling to provide such a standard of living to our children now. What the future holds for them is a mystery I am not optimistic about.

I’d offer my suggestions for righting the ship, excuse the mixed metaphore, but they would probably come off as to partisan.

Posted by DunaDad | Report as abusive

Perhaps the problem is that in America we classify people as poor at an income level higher that the average income level of most successful countries. Our poor people are generally wealthy in comparison to most of the world. The problem is that we have a culture of entitlement, where everyone thinks that they deserve an i-Phone, a late model car, and a home big enough for their family and another family. Get a clue. The rest of world is learning to compete. The only skill we seem to be developing is whining. If you want more, go out and earn it.

Posted by WilliamJ | Report as abusive

I am confused about the break down of Milwaukee’s population by wealth as stated in the article as only 82% (= 24 + 27 + 31) are mentioned. What happened to the other 18% and in what category do they fall?

Having said that, it does not surprise me that manufacturing in the US has disappeared. I remember when “made in USA” was a guarantee of the highest quality. We now (in Australia) almost never see such a label and we no longer think of it as indicating quality. It is, of course, a product of “globalisation” and what surprises me is that people are surprised that it has happened. Globalisation was always about exporting jobs and only gullible politicians and economists who live in a world of high school texts thought otherwise. Unfortunately the horse has well and truly bolted and will be very hard to catch. It is a problem that all of us the the “western world” face.

Posted by GivaFromOz | Report as abusive

It’s been said a couple times already but it bears repeating. Unions are not the problem, they are the solution. If you think union laborers who use collective bargaining to get their employers to pay them a decent middle class working wage are the ones bankrupting this country but you have no issue with said employers making billions in profits, paying no taxes and pocketing millions of dollars in bonuses that they are NOT using to create jobs and NOT spending back into the economy, you’re a complete moron. Plain and simple. People like ajsfca seriously need to put down the kool aid.

Posted by 4ngry4merican | Report as abusive

It’s like making bread. You have to have the right balance of ingredients to get it to rise. There are no quick fixes FivaFromOz is right, this is partly a globalization thing but that would have eventually happened. NAFTA and Walmart just accelerated it. However the profits of Globalization clearly go to the top 1%. But the 99% do benefit from a rise in a standard of living without increasing wages. So our poor are better off than the rest of the world where people live on $2 a day.

To compete in a global economy the US will have to develop policies that promote cooperation between capitalists, laborers, and government. China is growing their middle class with well coordinated government policies. But the US with it’s better working conditions is ripe for innovation and productivity. However here capitalists are at odds with government regulation. The thing is that unfettered capitalism leads to dramatic collapses which hurts the middle class. Government is there to shape the macro economic picture and provide reasonable freedom for micro economies to thrive. Capitalists provide the engine for the markets. Unions give us skilled labor and build the middle class. Blaming the Government or Unions or Capitalists is not helpful. To compete globally we have to work together. This means that Government must balance it’s budget, Unions must compromise on structural inefficiencies, and Capitalists must pay taxes. When this is balanced, we can move forward and restore the middle class, who pay the lion’s share of taxes. And without a middle class, the government can’t afford any more stealth bombers to keep the capitalists safe.

Posted by LEEDAP | Report as abusive

Unions are what created the middle class and gave us a voice. Corporations don’t like the unions, because when unions are involved, they actually have to pay a living wage and deal with the employees as a group (which is much more difficult than beating down one person at a time).

Unions for public employees also ensure that public employees receive a living wage. Public employees are not the enemy, they are not the bogeyman the Republican smear machine wants people to believe. They are simply people who are paid to do a job. A job that is necessary to fulfill the role of government.

People who want all the public employees fired need to remember that those are all real jobs, too. Cutting public employees will not improve things – it will simply mean MORE unemployed people and LESS money circulating – which will most definitely NOT have a positive impact on the economy. Now is not a time to cut jobs. If anything it is a time to increase jobs to boost our still fragile economy.

Posted by thingsfornothin | Report as abusive

why everybody wants a job? It supposed to be and it is – a burden, something we HAVE to do to… “To” what? Being busy working we forgot that work was the way to provide living, so we could have done something with our lives, to set and achieve real goal of life. Work and working is not the purpose of life. It is an instrument. Now job, economy have become a self-evident goal of life. Money which is a mean of servicing transaction has become a GOD the absolute priority. We forgot what it all was about. We forgot the place of dream where we were going to arrive. People don’t want inexpensive Chinese goods they want dollar to be chip and Chinese goods to be expensive and inflation high and we all need to work hard again to buy that coffeemaker which now cost next to nothing. Developed countries get magic stick – whatever you need -you get it for next to nothing. Guess what – no one want to use this magic, no one knows what to ask. Chinese people stay in line to work for u for nothing – thanx but no thanx. Why not? Thank you very much _YES! Please manufacture everything for me and I will go on with my art with my teaching with something else. Why everybody stays in line to this small dull reception window called job!? We are lucky to have life we want. Why struggle to get ourselves back in the past from where we struggled to come here where we are now?

Posted by espresso_SVP | Report as abusive

If you want a large middle class, you have to be willing to shrink the lower and upper classes. That much is simple math. It’s only a 3-piece pie. All of us on the same page so far? Okay now for the crazy stuff that prevents people like me from ever being elected:

To shrink the lower class: Cut medicaid benefits and Section 8 housing benefits. The doctors and landlords will survive. They’ll adjust their bills accordingly. And no more social security payments and disability payments to anyone who can work. If you’re 52 years old (or 28 years old) and you can play on a computer and drive a car to pick up your pain pills at walmart…. you’re not disabled. Driving a car and using a computer is what 80% of the working world DOES. Disappointing but true. I know, we all thought we’d be astronauts and NBA players. So ‘disabled Americans’…..gitcherasses back to work like the rest of us.

To Shrink the upper class: take half their money and give it to everybody else. Screw ‘em. If a guy has forty million dollars, and he wants to keep it all…. he needs to get himself 80 million dollars. No upper income on what he can earn. His net earnings will always be governed by a simple equation:

(Whatever he can steal, swindle, imbezzle) X 0.5

So there it is. Simple.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

The economic system of the United States is presently failing the vast majority of American citizens. The middle class is shrinking. The real problem is the continual and relentless concentration of the wealth of the nation into fewer and fewer hands at the very top of our society. The real problem is the inequality of wealth distribution in the United States and the inequality of income ditribution in the United States. According to the CIA’s World Fact Book, 99 of 140 countries surveyed have a more equitable distribution of income than the United States.* According to Politifact, as of 2010 the net worth of the nation’s 400 wealthiest Americans was higher than the net worth of the bottom 50 percent of the nation’s households.** That is the top 400 individuals have more wealth than the bottom 155 million Americans. The top 1% of U.S. of households now control about 43% of the nation’s privately held financial wealth and they own about 35% of the nation’s privately held net wealth.*** Between 1979 and 2007 the income of the richest 1% of American households rose 275% while the income of the poorest 20% grew 18% over the same period.**** Since the eighties when ‘trickle down voodoo economics’ came into vogue the federal taxes on the super wealthy, as a trend, have been decreasing, in fact the top income tax rate has just about been cut in half since the seventies. With the tax code we have been helping put more and more of the nations wealth into fewer and fewer hands at the very top. This transfer of the nation’s wealth to the richest at the very top of society is not healthy for the nation and it is not healthy for the economy. With this hyper concentration of wealth, much of the nation’s wealth is no longer available to reinvest in the real economy.

Posted by Dalton | Report as abusive

Welcome to the world of an over-valued US dollar.

The only people that get rich this way are the ones fortunate enough to outsource all the jobs to cheaper currency countries then sell the products back to Americans at ridiculous profit margins creating the unprecedented wealth gap we have now.

No more middle class…

50% of all Americans at or below the poverty line.

Margaret Thatcher once said that the problem with taxing rich people to give to the poor is that you eventually run out of rich people’s money. Perhaps that may be true but the reverse is also true.

If you take away the wealth of the middle class by outsourcing their jobs overseas and turning them into poor people, eventually, the rich people will have no more customers left because they will have run out of the working people’s money…

Stop outsourcing now!

Print enough new money to re-balance the value of the US dollar against other currencies so that a job in America pays the same as a job in China, etc…

And give the new printed money to the poor to pay off their debts!

The rich people got THEIR WELFARE in the last few years! It’s time for the rest of Americans to get their fair share now too!

Posted by 1WorldDone | Report as abusive

Dismantling the middle class will revenge itself upon the greedy 1% because their wealth comes from the profits of mass production.

And mass production presupposes mass consumption which is impossible when the masses have minute buying power.

Posted by timingbeltkill | Report as abusive

So many people decry government jobs …what has been ha penning is the private sector left looking for cheaper wages and lower costs to enhance their profit, government allowed this with free trade policy’s…when it saw what was happening it decided to create jobs for the people in service industries….government cant have free trade and employment at home its one or the other and you need to tell government what you want cheap goods eg Walmart etc or jobs its your call.take back your politics from the corporates that have bought them with their lobbyists dollars.

Posted by Gillyp | Report as abusive

I don’t know why people rattle on about middle class. There are 2 classes – rich and workers. Get over it. Or if you want to be pedantic – rich and wannabes. The so called middle class are just consumers and debt masters. They keep the western/eastern world going by getting into debt and buying cheap crap.

If you think you are “middle class”, but have debt or rely on pensions. You are just a slave like everyone else. That nice house and crap you have in it – unless you own it outright – you are just paying “the man”.

Get real and get debt free .. and start living! I don’t know why all American’s just don’t walk away from their houses that are worth less than they own. Only way you will be free – as I see it now you haven’t advanced from slavery – now it is just consumer slavery!
Have a Merry Xmas with useless crap.

Posted by golf99 | Report as abusive

The link attached provides some explanation for the woes of rust belt cities like Milwaukee, Toledo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and the subject of the piece – Rochester.

http://wrenfieldrambing.typepad.com/wren -field-rambling/2011/12/young-lion-of-th e-west-an-excerpt-from-route-15-to-getty sburg.html

Posted by JAMBROSI | Report as abusive

The article points to the culprit; loss of manufacturing jobs. We make very little here in the states, which is why we have a trade imbalance.

Legislation like NAFTA is the opposite of what is needed to maintain a healthy middle class. Our elected leaders failed to protect American jobs. Intelligent legislation can bring manufacturing back to the states.

Posted by GSH10 | Report as abusive

If you don’t want to pay Social Security, pay back the Social Security taxes you have collected from me over the past 40 years, with interest at tbill rates.

Do not sell something and then pocket the money — and run to the Pentagon with the name of another country to invade! Theft is theft is theft. Pay up the benefits or refund what was charged for them. Simple. When we say we cannot “afford” to pay social benefits, notice that none of those scammers are willing to stop charging for them — i.e. cancel all FICA and Unemployment taxes. After all, that is how they funded these non-stop wars in Asia and how they bought us so many “allies” in the Middle East.

Posted by txgadfly | Report as abusive

There must be a law that makes a direct connection between the size of compensation for the government workers (of any level) with the economic performance (read – average salary) of the entity they govern. How can the ridiculous arrangements be sustained that keep a California state worker salary above $100K/year (with about same size pension for MORE than life – that surviving spouse keeps obtaining even after the person’s death)? All that while the state is bankrupt and [revenue generating!] private sector’s salaries (let alone pensions) are nowhere near… Whelcome to the United States of Greece…

Posted by beboris | Report as abusive

I’m wondering how representative Milwaukee is for the nation as a whole.

I did a study of couple of years ago looking at long term household income data published by the US Census and it shows the middle and lower income groups have faired pretty well over the last 40 or so years.

The data shows the numbers of the middle and lower income households have gotten smaller and the numbers of the higher income households has grown over the same timeframe.

In 1967 31% of families were in the lower income group, by 2007, families in the lower income group had fallen to less that 25% of the total. the percentage of middle income households also dropped over this time period. in 1967, less than 6% of households were in the upper income group, by 2007, 20% of households were.

Ive not been back to their site to see more recent data, but the data will probably show a short term reversal, but the longer term view (the better lens to view and make judgements) is showing a steady improvement

Posted by jambrytay | Report as abusive

GSH10,

Your comment “We make very little here in the states” is wildly inaccurate.

Depending on whose study you believe, the US is the world’s number 1 or 2 manufacturer. The loss of manufacturing jobs has a lot to do with improvements in productivity which allows us to turn out more goods with fewer workers.

Posted by jambrytay | Report as abusive

I think the article and comments are missing a very important point. The manufacturing jobs of the 1950s and 60s are gone forever. We need to devise a new type of economy that serves all or most of our people. The politicians don’t have the answers; the answers must come from us, and all we are doing is complaining. For example, in times of economic transition, one would think our schools would be producing the best students. But what is happening is our schools are failing, across social class lines. The number of “Americans” earning graduate degrees in the sciences and engineering has been declining. Our best colleges are filled with foreign nationals. Walk into any medical school and see who the students are. More than that, we are losing our creativity, imagination and insustriousness, and we are losing our ability to form supportive social networks to encourage economic, educational, and other kinds of development.

I wish the comments here were more expressive of innovative efforts occuring in people’s communities, ways in which communities were learning to work together effectively; ways in which children were being educated independently of the public and parochial schools; ways in which people were learning to improve their healthcare through better nutrition; ways in which human and economic resources were being leveraged for better advantage.

There are simple economic principles that can be applied. If a dollar is recirculated within a community three or four times the multiplier effect is huge. When one spends a dollar in a chain store (Wlamart, for example) that dollar disappears from the community. But when that dollar in spent in a local business, that local business recirculates that dollr to another local supplier, and so on. That magnifies the limited resources a community has. If people learned to work more effectively as teams, whether to puruse educational or business ventures, the impact would be huge. But instead, we seem to want someone else to initiate policies that will return us to the prosperity of the past, and it just isn’t going to happen.

Posted by cadabra | Report as abusive

USA – the #1 baby eating zombie of century 21 will make more wars to absorb all the fit young zombies and make then useful to their multi-national resource extracting slave owners.
Search for this link and read the book. It’ll sounds completely wacko and is hard to swallow, but given what is going on around us it sadly makes sense. It’s written by John Coleman.
THE TAVISTOCK INSTITUTE FOR HUMAN RELATIONS – Hole

Posted by Tiu | Report as abusive

A couple of ideas to add to the many good posts are tariffs on low-wage countries, and taxes on capital traders. As for the American education system which is also to blame, I would say change the education system so that it is about how to create products and services not how to be a teacher. All college graduates should be able to teach there chosen topics well, and there should not be a “teaching” degree or licensing of teachers. Furthermore, there should not be colleges for “lawyers” the law should be widely taught to everyone and user friendly. If the law is confusing it gets thrown out.

Posted by M.C.McBride | Report as abusive

Actually a Milwaukee resident for twenty years and some of this is misinterpretation. Lets admit some of the shrinking middle class is because some people moved up the socioeconomic ladder. Also many middle class families have moved out of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County because they are so poorly run, tax burden is horrendous and the educational system is a nightmare especially in the City. So some of the “shrinking” middle class is “fleeing” to Ozaukee and Waukesha counties where education and taxation are more livable. Wisconsin in general has lagged in moving from manufacturing/farming to capital/technology industries and city/state government and sorry-unions have done little to help that. It will be Detroit soon unless visionaries intervene. At this point the only people who can afford to live in the City are the are the upper class and the lower class and the teachers who are forced to…

Posted by GoPackForever | Report as abusive

I can only guess the OUTLAWING of labor unions in Wisconsin hasn’t worked like King Walker said it would.
If he and Wisconsin Republicans aren’t held accountable for their choices then Wisconsin’s population deserves what they have gotten.Thank goodness ,we in Ohio saw this for what it is a FLEECING of the Middle Class.By the way,Our State Employees ratified a 3 yr contract extension
at current rates.The Governor KING john kasich still balanced his 2 yr budget?

Posted by gregfromOhio | Report as abusive

@ajsfca con’t…

Less than 9% of the workforce is unionized, so blaming them is ridiculous–all you did was swallow Republican kool-aid.

There is almost no manufacturing left in this country, so decent jobs for high school grads are gone. You need a college degree or specialized technical training and that costs more money than kids have–because, after all, their parents aren’t earning a living wage. Pell grants helped, but those are being cut (mostly by Republicans).

And lest you think I despise only Republicans, I hate Democrats too. They are spineless sell-outs and we have a Congress that not only doesn’t give a rat’s ass for people, it doesn’t care about the country either. We need to throw out most of them and change the campaign laws–starting with Citizens United. After all, if corporations were people, we’d be putting them on trial for theft and murder.

Posted by sharonsj | Report as abusive

What happens here in Milwaukee seems to go against the American Dream. As long as you work hard you will be able to earn an affluent life. This might be available in the last century, but seems not so exact in today’s America. Capitalism distributes the resource unfairly. The rich occupy more resource and possess more and more wealth, while poor families cannot make their ends meet. The trends of capitalism might be eliminating the middle class. Middle class might be split into two parts. One of them would become richer and join in upper class while the left were classified as working class.
What the government does is to decrease the gap between upper class and working class. However it is not easy to make a balance. The government wants to make profits maximize. Thus it is important to optimize the resource. But usually, the optimal one is not the fairest one. Still they try to do the second distribution through policies like taxes. The rich pay more for their taxes so that government can transfer money to the poor through allowance, which, I think, is one of the reasons of the class warfare. The upper think that they have paid more and make up for the working class, while the poor families still can’t make their living. Because what the poor get from government are far from their need. They still live under the poverty line.

Posted by Liming_s | Report as abusive