(Not) Keeping Up with Our Parents: The Decline of the Professional Middle Class

By Nan Mooney | Go to book overview

9
FROM RIPPLES TO REVOLUTION

Changing the System, Changing Ourselves

So many of the people I interviewed asked me: “Are you going to tell us how to fix our financial problems?” The answer to that question is no. I can indicate why the educated professional middle class is in such a precarious financial position and assure you that you aren't alone. I can tell you about those who've found a sense of financial peace or focus or direction. But there aren't any easy ways out of this web of burdens, risks, and expectations. While I can't tell you how to fix things, I can tell you how to start.

First, being angry is not nearly enough. We need to act. We need to examine what we can do both as individuals and as a society to stop this downward spiral and reignite a sense of social responsibility—from improving government-backed education, health-, and child-care programs to initiating a shift in values so that our selfworth is no longer defined by the size of our bank account. As I hope is obvious by now, this isn't a financial planning book. It's about understanding and changing a system that no longer works for the majority of its members.

Though we can certainly feel isolated in our individual financially stressed bubbles, the good news is that the economic struggles of the professional middle class aren't being ignored. There are numerous progressive economists, activists, and institutions out there formulating plans to improve problems ranging from the cost of education to the lack of health care and retirement options to increasing levels of credit card and household debt. Liberal organizations and think tanks like the Center for Economic Policy Research, Demos, the Economic Policy Institute, and the Hamilton Project at the Brookings

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