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Financial crisis: why is it all about the middle class?

Posted on Monday, October 13th, 2008 at 10:33 am

Author: Feature Writer

Gc contributor: Renee Martin

I have been following the American election keenly and what has most drawn my attention is what has not been said.

Obama and McCain are clearly pandering to the middle class in their election bids, which is based on the assumption that the largest percentage of the population fits within that class designation. While the middle class constitutes the largest voting bloc, this targeted approach ignores the working and underclass.

The working and underclass are invisible bodies in a society that bases value on the ability to consume. If wealth equals power, both groups make up the most economically marginalized group in American society.

This is evidenced by the fact that neither candidate deems it important to address any of their specific needs.

There has been little to no mention about job training, subsidized housing, homeless shelters, drug rehabilitation, subsidized daycare, or access to food. These are issues that are extremely important to those living on the margins.

Being homeless, or living in a rundown apartment because of the inability to afford the splendours that great wealth brings, does not make one any less American. Yet it would seem as though their day to day struggles are inconsequential.

Just as we routinely march by the homeless our heads filled with busy to-do lists, so do those that seek to lead arrogantly ignore their plight.

When Barack Obama speaks about the ability to pay tuition, and affordable health care, he is not thinking about those whose main concern is where their next meal is going to come from and if it will be safer to sleep on the streets versus risking violent assault at one of the few shelters in existence.

John McCain, with his 11 houses and private plane, cannot even begin to fathom what it is to grocery shop with a calculator in hand, each meal carefully budgeted.

One of the major focuses in the economy is the mortgage crises. While it is terrible that people are losing their homes, what is not considered is that they had homes to lose in the first place.

Families that were living in shelters before this began will now have an even harder time trying to secure housing. As the population of the working and under class increases can we really still afford to pretend that they do not exist?

America likes to imagine itself as land of the white picket fence, family dog and 2.1 kids; but the reality could not be a more stark contrast. Many wrongly identify as middle class and fail to acknowledge exactly how tenuous their living conditions truly are. It takes 18 months from start to finish for the foreclosure process; therefore the rates of homelessness that we are seeing do not reflect the actual level of vulnerability.

Poverty is seen as an individual problem rather than a social one, in an effort to deny that most are just a few pay checks away from economic disaster. For those that are already inhabiting tent cities it might as well be the 1930’s all over again. Food banks which are often the last stop between many and starvation are reporting record low levels of donations, just when their services are needed the most.

The poor and the soon-to-be underclass are what makes up America. No ideology about coming together as a nation, or pulling yourself up by the bootstraps is going to feed and house people.

Therefore, Obama and McCain need to stop pandering to the false ideology of a middle class society and deal with the reality of people’s everyday existence.

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  1. Excellent post. I have wondered for a long time now why everyone forgets those who are needing the attention the most. The US isn’t just wealthy and middle class. I mean “middle” should indicate that.

    Also, thanks for the link love.

  2. Yeah, I am still looking forward to Great Depression II, the musical — starring all-American ultra-right thugs.

    Proving once more that government really exists to bail to out failed, reckless friends of the elites and to forge murderous big-boy toys for tin-plated Napoleons to destroy innocent cultures.

    What chance do millions of tax paying helots have when on the whim of one sociopathic president an entire nation commits economic suicide.

  3. The middle class makes up between 45% and 50% of the nation depending upon whom you ask. When you are looking at the long term health of the nation, the only tenable route is trying to bring a broader spectrum of the population into the middle class, and making that middle class demographic stable. How will homeless shelters and food banks get funded, and for that matter even founded?

    Assistance and benefit programs for the homeless are crucial, and we should alleviate the needs and suffering of people who are unable to provide for themselves. Providing these services is palliative, not preventative, though. They will do nothing to prevent more people from winding up that way, and they will not help people in the long term.

  4. I think a lot of people who might really fit better into “working class” still want to think of themselves as “middle class” so they’re speaking not only to the actual middle class but to everyone who thinks of themselves as “middle class”.

  5. the only true difference between the middle class and the underclass is a decent paying job! and more and more people are learning that by the day with all the layoffs. even though my husband and i are considered under class because we manage to live on $900 a month we are much more fortunate than most of our friends. we own our truck and our trailer house outright so we really don’t have any bills to speak of. yet many of our friends have had to move out of their apartments in to the tent cities of our local mountains not far from where we live. it’s sad to see them and their children living in 8×8 tents and cooking over a campfire even when it rains. one good friend who lost her job has to panhandle just to get money to buy a quart of milk for her youngest child to drink! yet the local social services department refuses to help them because they have no permanent address.

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