Friday, July 08, 2011

Five Things Defining Middle Class

Alan Grayson said yesterday that five things were needed to be a member of the middle class, “Number one, having a job. Number two, owning a home. Number three, owning a car. Number four, having affordable health care, and number five, a pension.” I disagree with him on three of the five, but only because I’m more liberal than he is. Don’t get all feminazi on me in the following, I’m using the male pronoun for convenience.

He should have a job: We are in complete agreement on this one. Further, it should be a job which allows him to use all of the creativity he possesses, should afford him dignity, reasonable working conditions and a living wage, and it should offer him a chance to advance in responsibility and authority based on job performance.

He should own a home: I don’t agree on that one, although I do agree than he should be comfortably housed, and that he should be able to own a home if he chooses. Owning a home is not the best choice for everyone and there are disadvantages as well as advantages.

He should own a car: I totally disagree on this one. For one thing in New York City, for instance, owning a car is an enormous pain in the ass, and you would seldom use a car if you did own one. Secondly is that our society places far too much emphasis on cars. We should be using public transportation more, and engineering our cities to make that feasible. Grayson’s point is not without validity, but I think it needs to be phrased more broadly; a person should have adequate mobility.

He should have affordable health care: I basically agree on this one, only I don’t think it should be affordable, I think it should be free. Of course it would not be “free,” it would be paid for through general taxation, but there is no doubt in my mind that doing it that way is the least expensive way to manage health care. Eliminate the cost of insurance companies.

He should have a pension: absolutely. I hope it goes without saying that the pension should be sufficient to allow him to live in dignity and comfort.

1 comment:

bruce said...

#1 Absolutely. With all the etc's.

#2 Agreed (with Jayhawk)

#3 Agreed with Jayhawk, everyone needs adequate mobility to get to that job and whatever their lifestyle requires. A car doesn;t have to be part of that, but the ability to afford one if they so desire, is a good marker of middle class.

#4 Agreed with this, and certainly Jayhawk's point has merit.

#5 Pension or Social Security or both? Or ability to pay into a 401(k) (or equivalent)?

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