Who’s middle-class?

I recently read a post on Facebook that read, “the lower and middle classes need to stand up to the government.” The context of the statement was that the rich and powerful were too rich and powerful and affecting too much control on our economic and political systems.

Problem with the statement, to me, is that the lower and middle classes don’t really  know who they are or who they are not. For a number of years I’ve had morning coffee with a person who for most of his life has either worked for someone else or operated a small company that didn’t result in any major degree of financial independence. He may have been his own boss but he was still carrying a lunch bucket to work.

Years ago I was told that the then Lt. Governor of Ohio, Meryl Shoemaker, once said that anyone who carries a lunch bucket to work should vote Democrat. Well, my coffee friend is a staunch Republican and even more so, an increasingly conservative Tea Party Republican.

He is so much like so many others I know who are, in reality, working-class people with little or nothing in common with those whom the GOP traditionally attends to. A major reason for a person’s party affiliation is they are following in the footsteps of their parents. Such is certainly the case with my friend. But what is difficult to understand is why one remains loyal to a party and ideology that contradicts their interests?

I suppose there could be several reasons but the two that come to the forefront for me is first, fear their ancestors will rise from their graves and haunt them. And secondly is something that resembles buying a lottery ticket with odds in the billions that you won’t win. Somehow people like my java slurpin’ pal cling to the belief that someday they will become the next Bill Gates and welcomed into the fold of the recently rich and influential. On the very off-chance of hitting the jackpot they’re reluctant to undo any of the perks afforded the upper-class.

In the meantime the real upper-class, because of friendly GOP policies and huge corporate influences, continues to consolidate its stranglehold on both the political system and the nation’s wealth. Economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, writing in Vanity Fair, sums it up by stating our current distribution system is, “Of the 1%, by the 1%, and for the 1%.” Twenty-five years ago the top 12% of the people controlled 33% of the wealth. Today the top 1% controls 40%. During the same twenty-five years the wealth of the average high school graduate has declined by 12%.

It doesn’t take even a high school diploma to see that the rich are getting richer at the expense of all those who carry a lunch bucket to work, assuming they have a place to work. Meryl Shoemaker may have been correct but getting my Tea Bagger son of the Grand Old Party to see the truth won’t be easy.

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