Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Middle Class

Obama wants to defend the middle class. He wants tax breaks for the middle class and tax burdens for the upper class. He wants health care reform for the middle class. No wonder. He didn't come from the middle class, virtually none of our presidents did. But the middle class put him in power and if he's going to weather the defeats of the Democratic party in these midterm elections he's got to go back to his power-base, which is the middle class.

But who are the middle class? By his definition it is those who make between $250,000 a year and the poverty level of almost $11,000. That's a large spread. I have good friends who would consider themselves middle class who make just over the upper end of this limit and would be incensed to be labeled anything but middle class. I've got friends who make less than $10,000 a year but whose mentality toward the world is definitely not that of the poor class.

It seems to me the middle class is a function of thought, not income. The middle class looks to the upper class for leadership in the big issues of life, and generally they are more than obliged. They look to the lower class with a bit of distain and pity, and try to do things for them, but not with them. The identity of the middle class is really predicated on its relationship with the other classes. Any asistance to the middle class is going to have an effect on the others.

John McCain wants to help the economy by helping the upper class, the ones in power, with tax breaks and incentives. It worked under Reagan, he says. It probably did, and it probably will, not because it helps the upper class put the middle class to work, but because the upper class has disproportionate influence with the government, so if they get something they'd better give back. Besides, it does work--more money in the rich man's pockets makes it easy for them to hire middle-class workers.

I'm afraid Obama's plan is doomed to failure. It would work in an ideal world, but we don't live in an ideal world. As I said, the upper class has a disproportionate influence in Washington, and they will push for what they want. They don't want the burden of the tax bill, even though they are most capable of carrying it. They want to be able to pass it on to the middle class. They'll lobby hard against his plan and eventually kill it. They will not let the middle class get richer without making sure there is a guarantee of a solid lead on them. It's always been that way, and I don't see it changing any time soon.

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