Posts Tagged ‘middle-class’
Tags: banks, budget, cartoon, Cyprus, Iraq, middle-class, Paul Ryan, poor, rich, war
Tags: austerity, banks, cartoon, Cyprus, economy, Europe, middle-class, poor, United States
Tags: cartoon, class, middle-class, poverty, Romney, taxes, United States, weather
Tags: inequality, middle-class, poor, rich, taxes, United States
Current right-wing political rhetoric is an attempt to incite class warfare, of the middle class allied with the rich against the undeserving poor—to whom much is supposedly redistributed and from which little is supposedly received.
As it turns out, when it comes to so-called entitlement benefits, the middle class receives approximately its proportionate share of benefits (in 2010, the middle 60 percent of the population received 58 percent of the entitlement benefits), with the poor receiving a bit more and the rich a bit less. These numbers contrast sharply with the distribution of the extensive deductions, credits, and other write-offs in the federal tax code, known as tax expenditures, which are much more unevenly distributed: in 2011, the middle 60 percent of the population received a little over 31 percent of the benefits, while the top fifth of the population received 66 percent of the $1.1 trillion in individual tax-expenditure benefits (the top 1 percent alone received 23.9 percent of the benefits) and the bottom 20 percent of the population only 2.8 percent of the benefits.
That’s why government tax and expenditure programs in the United States make the grotesquely uneven pretax distribution of income in the United States only slightly less unequal. The real redistribution of income in the United States occurs before government programs even take effect.
*OK, charts of the day.
Tags: income, inequality, middle-class, Obama, Romney, United States
The other day in class, I asked the students for their definition of the middle class. And they responded in what has become the usual manner in this crazy country of ours: everyone who makes between $60,000 and $200,000 a year.
Oops! That may be, as Dylan Matthews explains, how Romney and Obama have come to define the middle class but that’s not the middle—not by a long shot. It doesn’t even include the middle.
According to the Census Bureau’s latest report, “Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2011,” the mean income of the middle quintile of households was $49,842. While $200,000 or $250,000 is well above the median income of the top quintile (which was $178,020), although it’s closer to the 95th percentile limit (which was $186,000).
So, if we’re going to keep talking about the middle class, let’s get it right and refer to working-class households that are making around $50,000 a year, which is less than they’ve been bringing in since 1995. And understand, at the same time, that $100,000 already puts a household in the top 20 percent while $200,000 a year excludes all but the top 4 percent of households in the United States.
Tags: capitalism, crisis, exploitation, middle-class, taxes, United States, workers
We need to stop obsessing about the middle-class and call things by their right name.
Last September, I argued against focusing on a middle-class that needed to be “rebuilt,” suggesting that we return instead to the discourse of the working-class.
Recent research by Jeff Kidder and Isaac Martin just confirms my view.* Their argument is that American hostility to taxes is grounded in “middle class feelings of exploitation.” Sure, tax talk is “morally charged” and about people’s “sense of the proper relations among groups” but it’s not about exploitation.
Exploitation is what happens when the members of the working-class are forced to have the freedom to sell their labor power, and when they create a surplus that is appropriated by a different class, the capitalists. Focusing on the middle-class and their feelings of tax injustice—their sense that they are “morally deserving and hard-working people, sandwiched between an economically more powerful group that manipulates the rules for its own benefit and a subordinate group that benefits from government spending but escapes taxation”—merely serves to divert attention from the fundamental injustice of class exploitation.
So, let’s call things by their correct names. The vast majority of people in the United States are not middle-class; they’re working-class. The misuses of the surplus generated by their exploitation are what created, in the run-up to 2007-08, the current crises. And the attempts to solve the crises on capitalist terms since then are leading to even more exploitation.
Anything else is just a middle-class fantasy.
*I searched for their article but it seems not to have been posted yet on the Symbolic Interaction web site.
Tags: Asia, capitalism, chart, middle-class, workers
This is another example of mainstream commentators’ obsession with the middle-class.
That’s bad enough. But then notice from the chart that, even on its own terms, the ranks of the poor have been growing—and will continue growing for at least another decade. Only then, based on the particular assumptions of the model, is the number of people with annual per capita expenditures below $3650 supposed to start to fall.
Now, I have no doubt that capitalist growth in China, India, Brazil, and elsewhere is creating what Homi Kharas wants to call a growing middle-class. But, first, they’re mostly members of the working-class. And, second, they’re growth has been and will continue to be predicated on a swelling of the ranks of those who live in poverty.
The chart could have been focused on how a truly global working-class is emerging. And how its share is shifting eastward. But Kharas and many others prefer to reinforce the myth that the success of capitalism is all about the middle-class.