Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Do You Have to Be "Middle Class" to Matter in America?

If you listen to an American politician talk for long, you're bound to run into the phrase "middle class". Democrats, Republicans, doesn't matter. The middle class is apparently this great thing that characterizes our society, built the country, and is under attack.

This doesn't sit well with me. First of all, who the hell is in the middle class? It doesn't have any precise definition. Obama and McCain famously disagreed in a debate about how much money you have to make before you're rich ($250,000 and $5,000,000 annually respectively) and they didn't even talk about how little money you have to make before you're poor.

"Middle class" is not only vague, but it implies that if you're poor, you don't deserve any sympathy. You're not part of the productive part of the country or something. Usually political rhetoric about the poor has to do with getting them into the middle class. In other words, they're only legitimate to the extent that they are "pre-middle-class" or something like that.

Now consider this. In most American cities, suburban homeownership is the housing of the middle class and driving is the transportation of the middle class. Since the middle class is this sacrosant thing, the implications are frightening. Things like rental housing, public transportation, or even forms of homeownership besides detached houses, in short, much of urban life in general, seems to be outside the sphere of "middle class".

This is enough to sour me on the whole concept of the middle class. I want someone to prove to me that it isn't just about throwing the poor under the bus, throwing the bus under the car, and throwing the city under the suburb.

5 comments:

  1. The problem is this the Middle Class is no longer needed. The middle class is vague, but in general I think middle class means a person who depends on someone else to get paid. They work for someone else and can be fired if someone else deems them no longer necessary.

    The middle class is middle management, union workers, people whose parents may have been poor or working class, but somehow they went to a public college, worked hard and got a cubicle.

    Now the problem is when America used to make things the middle class did very well. Not only that the middle class in America bought the things that America made, but now in this global economy a country like America that was built on stealing land and slavery and whose whole point of existence was not about community, nationality, but about money and getting more it, is viewing the middle class as a burden. Not enough American middle class people to sell stuff too, especially when you have the middle class in China and India which entire middle classes are the same size as our entire country (our country being the US) so now America like all the other world powers i.e. UK, France etc...are trying to get rid of these people that like to throw out things like morality, fairness and community.

    The middle class in America is going to die. The middle class in America is going to die, because they thought this was all about them and country, when really the US is and always has been (after they stole it from the indigenous peoples) a big gigantic corporation that will do whatever they can to maximize their dollar.

    That means in America if you don't figure out how to be rich, you're going to be serving Hilton's tea and spending your free time on facebook.

    The middle class could live, but in general they are too worried about getting along, so when the other shoe drops, it will be too late.

    Browne

    ReplyDelete
  2. And the thing is most people in America are middle class, at least in their mind.

    Actually though I don't think there is a real middle class there are the rich and the rest of us, but all of the rest of us need help, not just the destitute, which is another problem in the US. The destitute shouldn't all be pushed into one neighborhood, school, childcare center...that's how we got this whole middle class vs the poor thing anyway, because no one wants to be poor, but we all are. We're all one rich dude's decision away form being poor.

    I think the reason the pseudo middle class matters, is because if it disappears we're all going to be screwed, the poor are going to get poorer if the middle class does not exist, because the middle class is sort of the morality meter for the rich. Without the middle class or people who think they are middle class the poor would just be in the same category as dogs. The idea is you can't let everyone just slip into poverty, but the thing is my future prediction is we probably all are.

    And you're right people should care about the poor, but do you? What is your major? What are your career plans? What are you doing currently to help the downtrodden in your neighborhood? I'm not judging you, I'm just saying that's really hard and it starts with you. Do you care?

    The urban city you love so much is pushing out poor people daily and not one person from the livable street, urban planning world is coming up with a real solution or even bringing it up daily.

    How are poor people going to exist in your urban oasis where one bedroom apartments start at 1600 and the average Los Angeleno makes 24000 a year, undocumented person 16,000, undocumented woman 8000, and African-American unemployment is insanely high, so how are they going to live in DTLA, Koreatown, what are they going to do and what are you willing to do ensure they don't get pushed to the exurbs.

    Browne

    ReplyDelete
  3. My main solution for affordable housing is to let housing be built. I am generally against zoning that restricts the supply of housing by mandating a low density.

    Beyond that, you have to have a commitment to funding programs that make housing affordable like Section 8 vouchers, but on a larger scale. Also, when there is political will to do so, you can push for deed restricted affordable housing units.

    I'm not here to defend the developers of luxury apartments. I just know that the new, expensive housing of today tends to become the relatively cheap housing of tomorrow.

    At the end of the day, you can do affordable housing by gobbling up cheap land in suburbia. But that's just development at the expense of the environment.

    I think what's really elitist is forcing everyone to drive at massive expense by putting them in neighborhoods where every other transportation choice sucks.

    Again, let truly urban areas be built by removing regulations that ban them and they won't be so expensive.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Crap, almost forgot. Removing off-street parking requirements can make housing cheaper as well. Why force developers to build more parking than they need to to make their projects work?

    Minimum parking requirements drive up the cost of housing AND undermine transit by making it easier to drive and forcing people to absorb the cost of parking whether they use it or not.

    ReplyDelete
  5. And by the way, I never spent anywhere near $1,600 a month to live in K-town. That's WAY too rich for my blood.

    My rent was under $800 (sans roomies). Check Craig's List. I'd argue K-town is one of the more affordable neighborhoods in the City, certainly when you factor in not having to own a car there.

    ReplyDelete