Middle Class, R.I.P

By Begala, Paul | Newsweek, June 25, 2012 | Go to article overview

Middle Class, R.I.P


Begala, Paul, Newsweek


Byline: Paul Begala

The latest casualty of the Bush depression.

I have a wealthy friend who lives in a wealthy neighborhood. One day he was in his front yard, chatting with his next-door neighbor, a Republican, who asked him why he's a Democrat. My friend said he'd grown up poor but had gotten a good public education, worked his tail off, and made it. Then he pointed to a gardener working across the street. "Don't you want that gardener's son to live the same American Dream we have?" my friend asked. His neighbor shot him down, sniffing, "That gardener's son will be my son's gardener."

And so dies the American Dream. Have we reached a point where rich people no longer want to extend the winner's circle? Has it gotten so bad that poor people cannot plausibly aspire to success? Are we moving toward Third World economics, where a few have it all and most have nothing? Are we witnessing the death of the great American middle class?

We define "middle class" as much by values as we do by economics. It means working hard, playing by the rules, and getting ahead. It means saving up to buy a home, making payments on a new car, seeing your kid graduate from high school--and even college. It means retiring with some dignity and security.

In terms of income, six in 10 Americans earn between $25,000 and $100,000 a year. They're the heart of the middle class. And yet as many as a third of those making more than $150,000 and 40 percent of those making less than $20,000 also describe themselves in the same way. So in all, three fourths of Americans think of themselves as middle class--which means that three fourths of Americans (more, actually) are getting screwed.

A recent report from the Federal Reserve documents the collapse of the middle class. Between 2007 and 2010 median wealth dropped a staggering 40 percent. As ever, the rich did fine, actually seeing their wealth increase as everyone else's disappeared. That's because those on top have less of their wealth tied up in real estate and more in investments like stocks and bonds, which have done better in the Bush Depression than home prices.

The birth of the American middle class was the product of policy decisions--and the same is true of its death. After the Second World War, America had a debt crisis. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Middle Class, R.I.P
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.