How the Middle Class Became the Underclass

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February 16, 2011 :: Permalink

I know how difficult times are financially for many of you. Progressive leaders across the nation are working diligently for fairer and more equitable conditions. I call on each of you to exercise your political rights and assist in this effort. For additional background, see:
The Betrayal of Public Workers
Unions under fire as states try to curtail benefits
Danger! Falling middle-class incomes
Why America's teachers are enraged
How the rich became the uber rich

I quote from Warren Buffet, world's second richest man and leading American entrepreneur, who testifies:
"There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war and we're winning."
We must keep in mind federal taxes are at 60-year lows. This is pinching federal and state governments - entities that now must drastically cut services many of you need. This also leads to additional furloughs, reduction of teachers and public servants, and possible pay cuts. Speaker Boehner, when questioned yesterday about the loss of thousands of government jobs, stated coldly, "SO BE IT!"

CNNMoney has an excellent article about the Middle Class blues today. Please read this. I include CNN's chart below and a couple paragraphs (note 2.22.11: I've added a second illustration detailing the explosive growth of the Top 10%):

The Rise of the Super Rich
The average American's income has not changed much, while the richest 5% above (and 10% below) of Americans have seen their earnings surge. This chart includes capital gains.

The Rise of the Super Rich
"Incomes for 90% of Americans have been stuck in neutral, and it's not just because of the Great Recession. Middle-class incomes have been stagnant for at least a generation, while the wealthiest tier has surged ahead at lighting speed. (see CNN's illustration)

In 1988, the income of an average American taxpayer was $33,400, adjusted for inflation. Fast forward 20 years, and not much had changed: The average income was still just $33,000 in 2008, according to IRS data."

"One major pull on the working man was the decline of unions and other labor protections, said Bill Rodgers, a former chief economist for the Labor Department, now a professor at Rutgers University."
Union membership is increasingly under attack. Simply put, lack of unions hurts Middle Class families. I know you followed the historic revolutionary events recently in Egypt. What do those who led the revolution want? Here's a short list:
  • Removal of any restriction on the free formation of political parties, on civil, democratic and peaceful bases.
  • Freedom of the press
  • Freedom to form unions and non-governmental organizations without government permission
A strong democratic society relies on political freedom and a healthy Middle Class. Wages must keep pace with inflation. This hasn't happened over 20 years for Middle Class families in America.

I believe we have an excellent governor. Take a minute at lunch, during your breaks or after you're off work this week to send a polite - but informative - letter to your political leaders.

Let our elected politicians know we need our most rich to be heroes now. Our young people are heroes in our war efforts, as they fight to keep us safe by sacrificing blood, limb and sometimes their life. Our most rich are becoming increasingly wealthy - while your family is threatened with economic uncertainty. We need their financial sacrifice.

We witnessed what the peaceful masses just accomplished in Egypt. They borrowed on our principles of freedom to ignite a revolution. Let's now borrow on their success. Peacefully, but in righteous honor and dignity, demand that Middle Class workers can earn a fair day's wage so they can properly care for their families.