Comments on: What do we mean by “middle class”? http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/2011/12/29/what-do-we-mean-by-middle-class/ Fri, 31 Jul 2015 03:37:49 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.5 By: OneOfTheSheep http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/2011/12/29/what-do-we-mean-by-middle-class/#comment-516 Wed, 04 Jan 2012 06:09:05 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/?p=306#comment-516 @Gordon2352,
The CPA/MBA suggest you are educated. Your words suggest otherwise. Ask for your money back.

You see yourself as wiser than those amazing gentlemen that saw the need for and founded this FREE country. I don’t agree in the slightest. Americans STILL live under “interpretations” and Amendments of the United States Constitution. Only in the alternate reality of your mind is it fiction.

Yes, there has, for fifty+ years been a power grab by the federal government of rights reserved to the states. That pendulum could swing back the other way in the future. I don’t know and you don’t either. We need to work to bring that about.

I, too, believe all levels of government are obligated to apply all laws equally so as to assure equal protection to federal citizens. What led you to believe otherwise? The equality that our Constitution guarantees is that of opportunity, NOT achievement. Success in life is not guaranteed anyone, anywhere!

You can create any kind of society you want just by how you tax it. I’m not happy at all with current tax rules, regulations and rewards, but they are the current law of the land. They do need to be changed.

Nonetheless, it will be a long, long time, judging from the number of people shopping over the holidays, before there is any serious prospect of “mob rule” in America. Your inference otherwise is truely ridiculous.

Your rambling “replies”: sequentially…

NO one, including you, knows what point “Occupy” was trying to make. Ask ten people, you’ll get several different answers and a majority of “I don’t know”s. No one can properly claim to speak for that “happening”.

Globalization and Outsourcing are the two sides of a swinging door. Everybody gains access to the previously “closed” U.S. market, and U.S. companies gain access to low cost material, labor and less financially burdensome regulations throughout the world.

The trade imbalance with China is arguably a U.S. leadership failure but, to be fair, the “new normal” is one in which NO ONE has experience. Americans were head over heels in debt before this recession and related job losses. The recession just made bad things much worse in combination.

Idiotic tax incentives seduced many easily led middle class individuals to believe they needed and wanted to live in 4,000 sq. ft. (and up) McMansions, and that they would have no problem paying associated payments for the twenty or thirty years of the mortgages they signed. They also believed the value of their purchase could only go up. Their beliefs were wrong. They lost those bets. now they want out. Not gonna happen.

Choices have consequences. Believing houses go up in value forever does not make it true or justify the decision of building ever-bigger, more opulent houses.
The trade imbalance had nothing to do with the housing crash, which was caused by too many high-dollar oversized houses for the economy to absorb and whose value plummeted with that glut. Supply and demand.

If you want to throw an immature hissy-fit or hold your breath until you turn blue, have at it. You undertake ANY action to “destroy the very foundation of this country as we know it.” other than as an anonymous coward and you will go to jail. Your “multicultural” belongs where the sun never shines.

The U.S. Economy suffered major financial collapse as this recession unfolded. I agree that the mortgage lenders and banks need an aggressive financial haircut too. Federal monies dispensed as “foreign aid”, whether to build third world countries or to prop up modern western ones, has been done without appropriate disclosure and discussion. The people responsible, contrary to your simple minded accusations, are NOT synonymous with the “wealthy class” of this country (whom you obviously hate).

Much of that “printing press” money has been used to pay able-bodied people not to work (for far too long), to pay the poor to stay poor and multiply (taxpayers pay by the head), to pay farmers not to farm…a lot of stupid things. I agree we need to pull the plug on the printing presses.

If it were up to me I would mine our borders! We have done, in the overall, an entirely unacceptable job on the federal, state and local level (who should be working together sharing resources) of defending them. All the “players” know the U.S. isn’t serious. So here, as in the financial “services” crime DOES pay and it pays very well with little, if any risk. We need to change that.

It doesn’t take a CPA or MBA to understand priorities. Americans pay taxes for and deserve in return a safe and functional infrastructure. My point is that non-union American workers stand available and capable of building, fixing or maintaining it for much less tax money than the unions that presently get ALL that kind of work under Davis-Bacon pork demand.

If our federal government were doing it’s job in good faith our infrastructure would have received necessary financial support before shoveling out money to support an an ever-expanding underclass that does nothing but breed and paying able-bodied adults to do nothing for 99+ weeks.

I did NOT state or suggest that “the government” should decide what sort of society we should have unless you see a single entity in that term when there are many. I differentiate in absolute terms two “governments”.

One is comprised of unelected and unaccountable alphabet-soup agencies and our Supreme Court, also unelected and unaccountable. The other is our Congress of duly elected Representatives of “we, the people” and our President.

Only an elected Congress and President of common cause and mind has the power to define and fund our society with clarity from the present chaos. We can only hope that it do so will following the next election.

Just because a task is hard or the odds long doesn’t mean you avoid it. If you had been in charge, America would have just rolled over to Hitler and Japan, I guess. No convictions worth anything? Pah! You want to “stop perpetuating this system, which is clearly broken”. Nope. Wrong again.

“This system” you refer to is Capitalism, the ONLY system that can make the economic pie bigger. Every other “system” just divides up an economic pie of fixed size among others (or a smaller number of participants, killing or starving the rest). When an alternative system proves itself better, Americans may listen; until then ALL “other roads” are the “wrong road.”

I have not asked for nor shall I follow advice from you. As a wannabee anarchist, ‘tis YOU and your attitude that is out of place in America. Maybe flushing your mind would clear it?

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By: tmc http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/2011/12/29/what-do-we-mean-by-middle-class/#comment-515 Tue, 03 Jan 2012 20:34:38 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/?p=306#comment-515 545 People run this country:
1 President
1 Vice president (not included, only votes in a tie)
100 Senators
435 Representatives
5 Delegates (not included, cannot vote)
1 Resident Commissioner (not included, cannot vote)
9 supreme court members

Term limits for congress and the supreme court,
campaign finance reform for all public offices, or nothing will ever change.

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By: Gordon2352 http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/2011/12/29/what-do-we-mean-by-middle-class/#comment-514 Tue, 03 Jan 2012 18:56:54 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/?p=306#comment-514 In reply to “One of the Sheep”:

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You state:

“It is not the JOB of the American government to create “equality” of income OR “equality” of wealth. Our founding fathers would have aghast at any suggestion that such become a responsibility of the federal government.”

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I reply:

Really? Our “Founding Fathers” were all wealthy men who would be aghast at any form of federal government, such as that which exists now. It was their fear that the US might end up in the hands of the “mob”, such as the French Revolution had produced. Thus, they invented a “safety device” called the Electoral College to prevent anyone except the wealthy from ever attaining any power in the US.

However, what they did not foresee was the inevitable growth of the federal government (for a variety of reasons, including the need of taxes to fund one and pay our bills), and which culminated in the US Civil War.

Since then, we have been essentially operating under the “fiction” of a US Constitution, and with a “de facto” federal government in charge, so references to the intent of our “Founding Fathers” is presently a moot point, since NOTHING about this country is what was intended, EXCEPT the rule of the wealthy class.

As we have transitioned from a States’ Rights basis to a Federal Government basis, the power of the wealthy class has shifted from that of the states to the federal government.

Having said that, I would also argue that you are wrong in stating it is not the job of the federal government to create “equality” (that is equality under the law), still guaranteed by the original intent of the US Constitution to which the US (mostly) still adheres to through the US Supreme Court, which guarantees all of its citizens equal protection under the law.

Taxation by the government at all levels is performed under the aegis of our Constitution. Tax “laws” should therefore be administered fairly or the basic meaning of our government — fair and equal treatment to ALL its citizens — no longer exists.

This is what the wealthy class can’t seem to understand, that once whatever is left of our Constitutional rights are abrogated, then the US will sink into what it fears most — mob rule.

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You state:

“It would destroy the very foundation of this country as we know it. If you want more income, you’re going to have to do it the old fashioned way. Figure out how to EARN it. I don’t know where this “Occupy” mind set has bubbled up from, but it’s time to skim such scum from our “melting pot” and toss it in the dump where it belongs.”

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I reply:

I think you miss the point the “Occupy” protests are trying to make. These people were earning a living, but lost their jobs because the wealthy class moved (“outsourced”) their jobs to 3rd world countries in order to earn more profits, which they managed to retain because of their legislative power over the federal government.

Without any real jobs (i.e. manufacturing jobs) in the US anymore, we have gone into debt, generated a massive imbalance in our trade (especially with China over the past 30 years), have crashed the housing market because of a lack of jobs and by attempting to compensate with borrowing (which the wealthy class encouraged beyond all reason), and now the US economy is on the brink of a major financial collapse.

WHY would people who have been cheated out of the much-vaunted “American Dream” NOT want to “destroy the very foundation of this country as we know it.”?

Especially since the wealthy class is now flaunting their wealth as never before, and to add insult to injury refusing to pay taxes.

Your “sage advice” is that “it’s time to skim such scum from our “melting pot” and toss it in the dump where it belongs.”

First of all this nation has NEVER been a “melting pot” (by the way, the term is outdated, and you should have said “multicultural” instead — same BS, different era).

And where, EXACTLY, is this “dump” where they belong?

And who, EXACTLY, are they?

Once this country heads down that “slippery slope”, we could easily end up a full-fledged 3rd world country at best, and a between the wars Germany at worst, with the government deciding who is human and who is not.

I’d just as soon skip that future. I think things are going to be bad enough as it is.

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You state:

“No one with “wealth” can afford to see it’s purchasing power erode at the rate the country has been increasing the money supply. They MUST “put it at risk” just to stay where they are. These people are NOT stupid.”

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I reply:

The ONLY reason the US has been “printing money” like there is no tomorrow is to continue bailout out the wealthy class — Bernanke made a massive mistake in 2008 by bailout out the “too big to fail banks” and he has since compounded his error by continuing to bail them out.

The bankers are using the “free money” to continue to invest in jobs (and healthy profits) in 3rd world countries, but NONE of that returns here for our own economy (which is why the US housing market is on “life support”, and there is no “real” consumer demand, except from the wealthy.

So, I disagree with your assertion above — these ARE STUPID if they think this situation can last indefinitely.

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You state:

“Maintaining and rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure was once and needs again to be a federal priority. It would, however, be foolish to pay the necessary premium under rules that require only union labor. This work needs to be contracted out under a unrestricted competitive bidding process.”

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I reply:

Clearly, this is your argument for maintaining an “open border” policy on the premise that more cheap labor will help us recover our infrastructure.

First of all, no one in their right mind is investing in our infrastructure, because without a viable economy there is no need for one.

So, your argument that “Maintaining and rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure was once and needs again to be a federal priority.” is patently ridiculous on the face of it.

The US is presently over $15 trillion in debt, with no way to pay it off, and living in fear the Chinese will demand our “pink slip”.

Therefore, we are broke and cannot afford to rebuild anything anymore.

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You state:

“I’ll agree that for too long our “representatives” have paid more attention to special interests than to their job of running the country. I’ll agree that circumstances dictate increased taxation on high incomes; but NOT until our elected representatives reach a consensus as to what kind of country we want going forward from the next election.

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I reply:

Even if — think in terms of literally astronomical odds against this — “our” (and if they are yours, they certainly are not mine) elected representatives reach a consensus about what kind of country we want going forward (note, the way you have phrased this, it is the government who is deciding here, not the people) there is less than a chance of a “snow ball in hell” of successfully passing taxes on the wealthy class at this point.

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You state:

“They must then, in order to get our financial house in order, figure out how to separate national needs from national wants and prioritize available funding. To give Congress more tax revenue before this process is to try to put out a fire with gasoline.

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I reply:

In order to get our “financial house in order” we first need to stop perpetuating this system, which is clearly broken.

Stop the revolving door of wealthy class /”public servants” which we can no longer afford, mainly by immediately imposing strict term limits on ALL political offices, and stop lobbying 100% because it is nothing more than legalized bribery of our “public servants”.

This country has reached a crossroads, and we CANNOT afford to take the wrong road from here or we will no longer survive as a nation.

My advice to you and others like you is to remove your head from your anal cavity before speaking — it does wonders for clearing the mind.

CPA/MBA

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By: bcrawf http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/2011/12/29/what-do-we-mean-by-middle-class/#comment-513 Tue, 03 Jan 2012 17:40:05 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/?p=306#comment-513 To speak of a middle class, one needs a definition or list of characterizing attributes, but to use only economic designations makes it a trivial definition. There is always a middle. What would further our understanding now is to identify the central set of features used in the past (pick a time) to describe middle class membership, then track the changes in those features to the present. A refinement on this project would be to try first to arrive at a standard set of attributes (for middle classness) which could be applied to both the present and the chosen past time.

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By: bearzee http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/2011/12/29/what-do-we-mean-by-middle-class/#comment-512 Tue, 03 Jan 2012 17:16:44 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/?p=306#comment-512 What many of you on both sides of the argument are forgetting (more particularly those of you parroting Beck and O’Reilly) is that the deck has been stacked against the middle class. When I was growing up, the middle class lifestyle was to own a car and a home, have a good-paying job (defined as paying the bills with leftover for savings and investment), send your kids to college, and retire after being with the same company for 40 years or more.

I obtained an M.S. degree and rose to middle management by working hard using my God-given talents: writing and analysis. Not everyone is physically able to wield a hammer or Neanderthal enough not to pursue a career using one’s IQ. I was with a major company that had never had layoffs in its over one century of existence — until the middle of the Reagan administration. Our first was in 1985 and then it became a bi-yearly event. My department was finally hit and hit hard. they brought in a hatchet man from outside who did not know the business, but whose sole purpose was to reduce white collar IT staff.

When I took two labor relations courses and a Navy ROTC management course in grad school, white collar layoffs were unheard of. We studied Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and Skinner’s positive reinforcement. My professor’s own book on labor relations stated that one had the same rights (such as due process) within one’s place of employment as in the real world; now, if your employer wants to install video cameras in your bedroom, they can.
Layoffs were only a last resort to save a business, not a management tool to increase executive pay.

A lot of unemployed are unemployed because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Yes, they choose to work for a harlot’s son that would sell them down the river, but when an entire office closes for offshoring to India or China and people are applying for jobs for which there are 4-5 applicants per opening, how is that their own fault?

Fox (pretend)News fans like OneoftheSheep and 1Martain (supposed to be Martian and they flunked spelling?)are fond of repeating the Ayn Rand mantra justifying the Ubermensch as deserving and everyone else a pox, but Rand was an atheist who adored psychopaths. Read the Bible; the early Christians gave from each according to their ability and to each according to their need (Acts 2:44-45 and 4:33-35; Marx was a plagiarist).

Once we stop giving tax breaks for offshoring, the middle class can thrive again. And, think on this: even though Chinese workers are paid poorly by the American elite who employ them, their tax dollars fund Chinese missiles and aircraft carriers aimed at us – how is this not treason on the part of the offshorers?)

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By: JMer http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/2011/12/29/what-do-we-mean-by-middle-class/#comment-511 Tue, 03 Jan 2012 14:20:49 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/?p=306#comment-511 I live in a suburb of NYC where a family of four with an income of $120,000 would probably be considered just hanging on to the bottom of middle class. Having lived here and in Florida, my family of 4 was probably living an upper middle class life at our $105,000 per year total salaries and no state income tax. Our rent and utilities on a 3BR house was a whopping $1,300 per month (and we could have purchased a home and paid only slightly more including taxes). Our childcare expenses for full-time, high-quality day care was just under $9,000 and the after-school program and great summer camp cost a total of $4,500. My commute was 6 miles–maybe a 1.5 gallons of gas a week ($280 a year, with two of us working, $540 per year). Dinner out for a family of 4 was, even at a better-than-chain place, $50-$60 at most.

Fast forward five years. We live just outside NYC, and our income is slightly more than double, about $212,000 per year. Our mortgage, taxes and utilities on a 3BR house top $4,000 per month. Our day care expenses are nearly $16,000 per year. After school and just-ok camp (because the great ones cost over $600 a week!) cost about $7,000 a year. My commute is about 45 minutes door-to-door and my husband’s is an hour… our train ticket costs about $5,500 a year. Dinner out at a cheap chain restaurant costs $50-60 for the four of us. And NY state taxes… don’t get me started. Plus, since we’re now high-earners by federal standards, and because I occasionally bring in a few extra thousand dollars for freelance work, we’re hit by the AMT. Granted, we pay a little more on all fronts to live closer to the city, but that’s a quality of life issue so we can see our children (and we still live far further than when we were in Florida).

Even though our income has doubled, our expenses have more than doubled and we honestly feel we’re not nearly as well off financially. We feel middle class and, frankly, at the bottom of the middle of the middle class. There’s enough money to pay the bills and put a little aside, but vacations are now mostly at the homes of family and we’re not saving at the same rate we were when we had half the income.

So it makes sense to me that middle class is something hard to define. If we were living in Florida and earning what we do now, we’d be truly among the rich. In NY, we’re not even close, many of our friends in the same income range are sometimes just getting by… and to feel upper middle class would take another 100k in income.

I know, I know, sure sounds tough… thick with sarcasm. But it really is a different number in different places.

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By: jcfl http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/2011/12/29/what-do-we-mean-by-middle-class/#comment-510 Tue, 03 Jan 2012 12:50:20 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/?p=306#comment-510 could we please cut down on the use of quotation marks – it’s getting irritating and adds nothing to the sentiments given.

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By: alconnelly http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/2011/12/29/what-do-we-mean-by-middle-class/#comment-509 Tue, 03 Jan 2012 02:29:18 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/?p=306#comment-509 Tne great thing about “middle class” is that it so poorly defined. Good statistics on the matter would only help to generate more goverment programs, raise taxes, and play into the hands of the statists.

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By: SanPa http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/2011/12/29/what-do-we-mean-by-middle-class/#comment-508 Tue, 03 Jan 2012 01:07:17 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/?p=306#comment-508 Those not paying a fair share of federal taxes are either too poor or too rich to belong to the middle class.

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By: OneOfTheSheep http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/2011/12/29/what-do-we-mean-by-middle-class/#comment-507 Tue, 03 Jan 2012 00:56:35 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/?p=306#comment-507 @txgdfly,

You have helped me to understand your point of view and why it is different than mine. Thank you!

First, you choose to believe that anyone that IS NOT POOR has no meaningful personal reference as to what being “poor” means. Well, in the sense that each experience “means” something different to each of us depending on their life experience and resulting perspective, I would agree that YOU see “poor” differently from everyone else. That does not make your “position” right. It just makes it different.

In my opinion the primary “benefit” of experiencing being “poor” in any manner is to take away the determination, motivation and priorities to make very sure that you do not live “poor” and die “poor”. There are people with more money than brains that live “poor” and die “poor”.

I have done work on occasion for cash “under the table”. I still ate what I wanted, when I wanted and ate well. Creating financial wealth largely involves a conscious choice to live on less in the present so (if things work out) you can have more in the future.

In the game of wealth, as in the game of life, there are winners and losers. Some play well, some poorly. Some are lucky, some not so much. If there is pain, suck it up like everyone else. Your envy and anger at all who have more than you have or want to have, regardless of the source, is as evident as it is inappropriate. It will deny you each and every possible satisfaction life has to offer, and there are many.

I categorically disagree with any expectation that the American government OWES you a “minimum level” of personal achievement or financial security. It only owes you a reasonably equal OPPORTUNITY to better yourself and/or ACHIEVE “financial security” in your own way. It is via such OPPORTUNITY that prosperity is “encouraged and enabled”, but personal effort and “skin in the game” is still necessary.

I am not going to try to defend the common and legal practice of lobbying any more than I would try to defend why American society need so many lawyers; particularly in Congress, the Supreme Court, State and local governments. Life could become boring without such ongoing minor challenges and dragons to slay. Cheers!

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