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The End Of Middle Class Neighborhoods?

The middle class is shrinking. So are middle class neighborhoods.  We’ll look at the archetypal American neighborhood, in retreat.

Suburban areas are changing as the economy continues to struggle. (marueen_sill/Flickr)

Suburban areas are changing as the economy continues to struggle. (marueen_sill/Flickr)

All the talk about income inequality these days can sound esoteric. The stuff of number crunchers and statistics. It’s not. A big new report shows how income inequality is changing the very face of American life. Changing neighborhoods and neighbors. Who we see and who we don’t.

Above all, it’s changing the middle class neighborhood. Changing, as in taking it away. The archetypal American neighborhood, with baseball gloves and tricycles and families doing just okay… slipping away.

This hour, On Point: the middle class neighborhood, seedbed of the American dream, in steep retreat.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Sean Reardon, Director, Stanford Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Program in Quantitative Education Policy Analysis. Co-author of a recent study, Growth in Residential Segregation of Families by Income, 1970-2009.

Ira Goldstein, director of policy solutions at the Reinvestment Fund, a nonprofit community development organization.

William Julius Wilson, the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “Much of the shift is the result of changing income structure in the United States. Part of the country’s middle class has slipped to the lower rungs of the income ladder as manufacturing and other middle-class jobs have dwindled, while the wealthy receive a bigger portion of the income pie. Put simply, there are fewer people in the middle.”

The Atlantic “The Great Recession has accelerated the hollowing-out of the American middle class. And it has illuminated the widening divide between most of America and the super-rich. Both developments herald grave consequences. Here is how we can bridge the gap between us.”

Brookings “The State of Metropolitan America is a signature effort of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program that portrays the demographic and social trends shaping the nation’s essential economic and societal units—its large metropolitan areas—and discusses what they imply for public policies to secure prosperity for these places and their populations.”

IRA GOLDSTEIN

(Joining us from ???)

Director of policy solutions at the Reinvestment Fund, a nonprofit community development organization which began in Philadelphia and has expanded across the Mid-Atlantic region

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  • Michiganjf

    Well, 30 years of Reaganomics and the Republican Revolution has allowed the super-wealthy to “trickle down” on the heads of the middle class and the poor in America…

    … allow the wealthiest 1% to squeeze every penny they can out of the middle-class (those who actually spread money throughout the economy and kept it thriving for so long), and of course it eventually leads to the demise of once healthy middle-class neighborhoods!

    Democrats have been pointing this fact out for decades to brain-dead middle-class Republicans who perpetually vote against their own interests and the interests of 99% of the American populace!

    As Rick Perry so astutely stated: “Whoops!”

    • Michiganjf

      Just check out On Points recent show on “Dirty Politics and Big Money” for an idea of the ways in which “The Club for the Rich” rigs the game for their own private and exclusive benefit, bestowing temporary Visas into the Land of the Wealthy unto politicians who “play ball” by the Club Rules.

      The wealth, savings, and homes of the middle-class are fodder for the super-wealthy to milk at will:

      -The market goes down, the wealthy make a bundle while the rest of America gets wiped out

      -The market goes up, the wealthy make 99% of the profit

      -The middle class saves money, the wealthy use institutionalized gambling to leverage those savings at absurd risk for their own gain, hedging their leverage for their own gain if the poor suckers’ savings get wiped out

      -Got a good job? Wait a while… the wealthy will see that your employer is liquidated for a nice tax write-off; or maybe they’ll restructure and send your job off to China to improve the value of their executive preferred stock options

      -Need cheap gas or food to make ends meet? Well, a nicely cornered commodity and some specualtive maneuvering will see to it that oil gets a $30 jump to makes someone billions almost overnight; or perhaps wheat, or corn, or pork

      -You’d like to see that decaying bridge fixed so you don’t end up having to add an hour to your commute? Well, Government’s broke because the wealthy needed another tax cut… or perhaps a few million tossed by industry lobbyists saw to it that those infrastructure dollars were spent on corporate subsidies instead.

      Okay, Okay… you get the point!   OR DO YOU???!!!

      • Michiganjf

        … But Hey, let’s protect those tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% who milk the rest, RIGHT REPUBLICANS???!!!!

        … even if not compromising means giving up the 4 trillion in deficit reduction the Dems and the Prez offered up in exchange, RIGHT REPUBLICANS???!!!

        • Zing

          You forgot to mention Fox News, Michelle.

          • TFRX

            “Michelle”?

            I thought MJF was a dude.

            Or is this some deal that you’ve made with Moda, for you perform his daily dump of misogynistic cool-if-you’re-a-third-grader insults?

      • Michiganjf

        Oh, almost forgot this little gem:

        -Start a brilliant business and now want to take it public? Well, you’ll get in on the IPO, of course… but the rest of the IPO stock needs to be reserved for the bank’s “more deserving clients…” we don’t want just anybody in on this money-maker, do we?

      • AC

        hm. i work on several infrastructure committees and we have what they call ‘hill-day’ to go lobby for that infrastructure you mentioned. not all lobbying is bad, i’m a nobody and get involved…..

        • Michiganjf

          Then you wouldn’t be an industry lobbyist looking for corporate subsidies at the expense of infrastructure development!

          That’s a GOOD thing, and I’m not quite sure how you think my previous post disses that kind of lobbying…

      • Terry Tree Tree

        EXCELLENT!   MORE?

      • Drew You Too

        Brilliant comment!

    • William

      50 years of failed “trickle up” welfare (Great Society) programs have failed to lift anyone up the economic ladder.

      • JUST CORY PLEASE!

        At least attempting tp help/uplift the poor smacks of societal altruism, whereas helping the rich mimics Nero and Calligula’s Rome.

        • William

          So the fact that the trillions of dollars wasted by the government to “make things fair” does not really matter.

      • Anonymous

        Oh come on. What do call all that growth after WW2, a mirage.
        This kind of right wing jargon is not only not true, it’s a complete lie.
        During that period there were Republican presidents. Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, HW Bush and son, GW Bush.

        In the words of another right winger, you lie!

        • William

          You, left winger, lie. The great economic gains after WWII were due to massive pent up demand for consumer products and no competition from overseas companies. As wages, and costs rose, US companies imported more products from overseas.

          • Terry Tree Tree

            ???  As GREED rose!

          • notafeminista

            WHOSE greed?  Americans?  What are you talking about?!

      • Mia

        A guy I know, educated, middle-income guy, told me once that his family could eat thanks to welfare that they received during the Johnson administration.  He’s a normal, middle-class, tax-paying guy now. 

        I know a couple who lived with their family in what is now the projects as a stepping stone toward the middle class lifestyle.  The welfare state helped a lot of people make it to the middle-class who probably would not have had a chance if it weren’t for good public schools, libraries and measures to help them get a fair shake at all that our society has to offer.  Of course these were people with what I call middle-class values.  Although they didn’t have the means to make it on their own at the time they had ambition, work ethic and the opportunity, thanks to a government that took care of its people in the post-war society. 

        Fooey on you-ey, Mr. Scrooge William.  

        • William

          Schools, libraries and not part of the welfare state. Head Start is the crown jewell of the welfare state and it has accomplished little if anything. The idea of transfering wealth from one person to another with little regard for success is the true legacy of the Great Society programs.

          You need to realize that transfering wealth from one group of people to another with no regard for success won’t make a better society. After all your failed ideas, we have a higher poverty rate now than ever before. How do you explain that Mrs. Grinch? .

          • Michiganjf

            Willaim should know…
             
               He got a solid B- at Glenn Beck University!

          • Anonymous

            I agree!!  But the transfer has been from the lower income and asset levels to the higher, with, as you say, ” little regard for success”.  More accurately, the transfer has been made DESPITE the harm done to our economy by those who reaped its collective benefits.  As a result, “we have a higher poverty rate now than ever before.”  See how that makes sense?  The income shares of the lower echelon have gone to the upper.

            Your point of view is akin to someone having the most detailed maps imaginable, but with the unshakable conviction that the sun rises in the west.  Neither has much of a chance of finding the correct way.

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Very Good!

          • Terry Tree Tree

            How many CEO ’failures’ have put companies into bankruptcy, and got BONUSES of $Millions?  PLUS their Golden Parachute packages?  
                 How many people’s wages and pensions were stolen?

      • Anonymous

        Really?  Where are you getting your numbers from?  According to a number of studies, including a 2004 one from the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, social security has had a huge impact on poverty in the US.
        http://www.nber.org/papers/w10466.pdf
        http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3260

        Presumably you think private savings plans are the panacea to our woes?  ’Cuz that worked out so well for folks when the recession hit.
        http://money.cnn.com/2011/05/24/pf/recession_retirement_savings/index.htm

        • William

          Why is this show discussing the decline of the Middle Class if there is no problem? Why do we have a higher poverty rate now than ever before? Why do we have so many people on food stamps? Why is the black unemployment rate so high? After all, the Great Society trickle up programs were suppose to prevent all of these problems right? Where those programs just one big lie?

          • Anonymous

            Social programs are not going to magically make all the worlds ills go away.  It’s a *safety net*.  You don’t say when someone falls, “But there was a safety net there, how could they possibly have fallen?”

          • William

            Safety nets are a good thing but they have to be paid for and have a limit. EIC should have a term limit. Section 8 housing should have a term limit. We have 200,00 kids receiving disability payments from the Social Security system for ADD. (Scam!!). Unemployment payments (paid by the employers not the employees) should have a term limit or be paid by the employee. 47 percent of working Americans don’t pay any federal income taxes but they are reaping the rewards or safety nets paid by the “other guy”. Are we becoming a massive welfare state?

          • Anonymous

            But now you’re making a completely different argument.  You’ve gone from ‘social programs have failed’ to ‘why is there poverty is there are social programs to help the poor’ to ‘our social programs a “good thing”, but too costly’.  Very few people are arguing that we don’t need entitlement reform, but we reject indiscriminate slashing of social programs in the middle of a recession, while simultaneously giving tax breaks and handouts to corporations and the rich.  We need to deal with the jobs crisis and then we need to deal with entitlement reform in a smart, thoughtful way.

          • notafeminista

            And the bigger you make the net, the more expensive it will become.  Who gonna pay?

      • Anonymous

        FDR built the middle class.  Trickle up works.

        • William

          Ha! FDR? ..the guy that made the Depression the Great Depression?

          • TFRX

            You’re not in the rightosphere. That dead fish doesn’t get the same applause in the real world as in your regular haunts.

      • JP

        Well, is that right?

           I suppose when the middle class and poor spend their money, no businesses owned by the wealthy profit from all that spending?

         Another genius Republican brain at work.

        • TFRX

          Four dozen comments, and nothing yet on “multiplier effect”? I mean, our economically with-it right-wingers should be all over this idea about how the next dollar the government stops taxing or starts spending affects the economy, right?

          At this point in the business cycle, it’s probably not news to you, but food stamps and unemployment insurance have been shown to carry the greatest multiplier effect. More “loaves for the rich, crumbs for the rest” does about squat by comparison.

        • William

          I suppose the middle class would question the need for the Great Society programs since they have failed. Could you, as a liberal, at least be honest with yourself? Admit you have no ideas, no successful track record, nothing, zip. You guys have failed. Look at your boy Obama. Massive spending, and we are still in a major recession. Zip..nada, nothing…

          • Michiganjf

            That’s what happens when Republicans ever get the reins in Government at any level…

            … Good, successful programs start to suffer at the hands of the Mismanagement Kings who would rather see taxpayer dollars go to corporate welfare, tax breaks for those who don’t need them, and the military-industrial complex… after all, why spend the money on Government programs that work well for 99% of Americans, RIGHT REPUBLICANS??!!!!

          • William

            You got a good point..NPR sucked up that 400 million dollar corporate welfare check…not a word of outrage from the liberals…green energy companies…i.e. one of the Kennedy’s too..sucked up billions of dollars in corporate welfare…no outrage from the liberals…GE paid zero in tax….of course…they are big Obama supporters…no outrage from Obama there…is education working well for 99 percent of Americans?….if so, why so many complaints?…high drop out rate?…Medicare?..why does it give away 60 billion a year to fraud?…roads?..Obama said they are all falling apart…

            Liberals measure success by how much money is spent on a government program not if it actually works.

          • notafeminista

            How on earth is creating a population of people dependent on the state anything resembling a successful program?

          • Michiganjf

            Gee, this is so difficult… let me think…

            …Oh! Maybe because programs like SS were solvent throguh the end of this century until Repugnicans started dicking with our government surplus under Clinton?  … and maybe because they provided for people after retirement?  … and maybe because they provide a safety net for the disabled?  … and maybe because they help the unepmloyed who can’t find work, no matter how hard they try?  … and maybe because they help the poor who are forced, by circumstances in our country, to work at minimum wage? … or maybe because they help those devastated by some unforeseen hardship, like natural disasters? … or maybe because… well, what’s the point? Some pea-brains will never admit to their stupidity, no matter how much the truth as made evident.

          • Terry Tree Tree

            VERY GOOD!!

          • notafeminista

            You didn’t answer the question.  How does the creation of dependency on the state equal to success?  Is that what you are advocating for?  No choice, no liberty, just stand in line for what the state gives you?

          • Anonymous

            Using the accepted view of what constitutes an recession, we are not in one and haven’t been for several years.  The obvious fact that things are getting worse for so many tells you that an increasing GDP is an outdated way to measure the real economy.  Unless you measure the way the pie is divided and not just its size, you really don’t know anything.

          • William

            A narrow look at the economy might say the “recession is over”, but when you have over 9 percent unemployment with no end in sight we are certainly in a recession.

        • William

          Only the wealthy own businesses? That lawn care guy is wealthy? The house painter?, carpet cleaner?….they are all “evil rich republicans?…..

          Any other braid dead liberal ideas?

          • Terry Tree Tree

            ???  Braid dead?

    • Will H

      Why do people in the middle and lower classes vote Republican?

        Life, guns, and patriotism. 

      What do they get for their votes?  More unplanned pregnancies, more gun violence, more war deaths, bankrupt families, and a bankrupt nation. 

      THANK YOU!! Brain dead is exactly right. 

      When will people ever wake up?  We can start by banning political advertising that allows the brain dead to make decisions based on sound bites.  That’s NOT free speech. It’s stupid speech.

  • AlisonTravis

    The issue with how we live is that it hasn’t changed with the times.  Suburbs and ex-urbs are not viable in the new reality of high energy costs.  The middle class is still around, just redefined.

    • AC

      i just had this conversation with my parents last week – i guess they get special tax breaks to live in an exclusive suburb and i was wondering WHY? it costs so much more in money (and materials) to run utilities and keep their roads up….i was confused…..

      • JUST CORY PLEASE!

        You inadvertantly hit it right on the head when you mentioned paying for roads and utilities.  At 40yrs old, I can remember an American middle class that didn’t need to give much thought to road maintainence or affording the electric bill.  They also didn’t worrt about Doctor and dentist appointments for their kids.  THAT America is dead.  THAT middle class no longer exists. 

    • JUST CORY PLEASE!

      Only in the statistical sense that the middle MUST exist somewhere.

      • Anonymous

        @e533c71f78b04b5363a41d402415bf87:disqus  @300b5eef921dd4b8e501b3107e73d082:disqus 
        The “ideal” distribution would be somewhat like a Rayleigh distribution, with zero at zero income rising quickly to a majority around some near median and then the number slowly declining at higher incomes. I would start the modifications with the lowest income some “livable” value not zero, and a more rapid descent in the number with incomes above 100 times the median, but that is not my main point.

        What is happening now is that the single peak is turning toward one with TWO peaks, a “bipolar” distribution, with the number of people earning between the median and average (always larger than the median due to the much larger incomes of the wealthy) dropping BELOW the peak of numbers below median and the peak of the numbers above the average income. The upper peak is probably always going to be the lesser peak as it is more spread out particularly with the rapid growth in income of the top 0.1%.

    • Revelz

      Not really, Alison. If you pull a rope too hard at each end, the middle frays, snaps, disappears.

  • JUST CORY PLEASE!

    There is a problem with the caption and photo above.  Is it middle class, or “most affluent”?  Some of those houses look pretty big for middle class…  I certainly don’t put middle class and most affluent together.

    • Revelz

      Cory, it isn’t what the houses look like, it’s the financial realities of the people who live there. Because of the credit bubble, it is more accurate to judge a book by its cover than the class of an individual family by their possessions.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Most people would consider someone with two two-car garages to be affluent!  Good observation!

  • Anonymous

    Were are all these people going and what is going to happen to the houses?

    The caption for the photo is misleading. You can’t be affluent and middle-class at the same time. 

    • Mia

      It depends on how you define affluent.  Affluent for me means that you make enough money to cover all of your basic needs and have enough left over for savings, leisure, etc without fretting from paycheck to paycheck.  In other words, you’re middle class. 

      • Yar

        Affluent is the means to move your effluent into somebody else’s neighborhood.

        • Terry Tree Tree

          EXCELLENT!!

      • Terry Tree Tree

        ???

    • AC

      A friend who sells expensive type real-estate part time says her best customers right now are Brazilian and Chinese

  • JUST CORY PLEASE!

    The middle class, the American dream, comfortable retirement, enlightened society, pax Americana…  It’s all gone.

    In it’s place?  The perpetual underclass, employment death spiral, low wages for most, comfortable retirement for few, healthcare and good benefits for fewer.  The end of American hegemony and a cannibalistic societal collapse.

    My grandfather worked for 37 years in a can factory, retiring in 1989.  He was the sole income for 7 kids.  He bought a new car every 3-4 years, had a boat and snowmobile and maintained a cabin up in the woods.  He has lived comfortably since retirement on a PENSION and savings.  THIS CLASS OF WORKERS IS GONE FOREVER!

    The FIRST politician who acknowledges the realities I have outlined above will receive my vote, regardless of their political affiliation.  The honesty would be it’s own revolution.

  • Brandstad

    Why is it that the middle class has shrank more then ever before since The democrats took over all three branches of government.  Even though they only control two of the three branches of government, they haven’t passed a budget since 2006!

    • Hidan

      Hows that fantasy working out for you?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v86UG6WYlJk

    • Anonymous

      When did the Democrats control all three branches of government? 

      • Anonymous

        Shh, right wingers don’t like it when reality intrudes on their fantasy world.

    • Michiganjf

      Dems controlled the House AND Senate for 50 years, from the end of WWII until Repugnicans took over Congress in 1994.

      Those were the BEST years the American middle class ever saw!!!

      ONLY Since Reagan did the middle class begin to lose ground, and ONLY after Repugnicans took over Congress in 1994 did the American class really start to take a nosedive!!!

      Try an education… it’s always  worked for Democrats!

      • Hidan

        Don’t forget the rise of K Street under the republicans

        http://www.amazon.com/Street-Gang-Rise-Republican-Machine/dp/038551672X

        “What happens when ideologues obtain power? The K Street Gang is the inside story of how a group of self-styled Republican reformers succumbed to the temptations of power, becoming even worse than the Democrats they had been elected to replace. Now, some of those very reformers, including Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff, are under investigation, their careers and reputations tarnished by the very system they helped to create.

        The story begins in 1994, when a landslide victory led to the first GOP-controlled Congress in forty years. The Republicans had it all: a visionary leader in Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, a program for reform in the Contract With America, and a bonafide electoral mandate. They pledged to shrink government, reform politics, and drain the swamp of public malfeasance. Ten years later the Republican party finds itself embroiled in crippling scandals that have already brought about the fall of House majority leader DeLay and may reach all the way into the White House.”

        • Hidan

          And it’s from the hack Matthew Continettie no doubt.

        • nj

          It needs to be noted that the Democrats are no longer what they once were. The DNC/corporatist wing is now dominant. Progressives have been marginalized and are mostly ineffectual. The Corporodems make noises to appeal to or placate the lower and middle classes, but they are now mostly enablers and accomplices of the oligarchs/corporatists.

          • Hidan

            Of course your right but than again the media constantly promotes these DNC/Corporatist as the moderates and deal makers could explain why.

      • notafeminista

        I don’t suppose the fact that the US was the only serious manufacturer after WWII (most of Europe and the country of Japan having been significantly compromised by the war) had anything to do with that?

        • notafeminista

          Well unless of course you want to argue that Democrat decisions led to the fire bombing of Dresden and the nuking of Japan, thus paving the way for the US to be the only serious manufacturer.    I’m cool with that.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Earth to Brandstad;  What planet are you on?  Which branch is supposed to submit a budget?

    • nj

      Did the forum’s right wing squad nominate Branny to lead the charge today?

    • Anonymous

      Ignorance. 
      Deceit. 

      The two hallmarks of so-called conservatism.

      • TFRX

        It’s a shame for Bran’s sake that the Dunning Kruger effect already has a name.

  • Brandstad

    A short video explaining why the middle class isn’t prospering like it used to.  http://youtu.be/OAOrT0OcHh0

    • Hidan

      The link Brandstad provided is by Bill Whittle who also is a birther.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Og0Mq9Y1PM&feature=related

    • Hidan

      It’s doesn’t explain crap, pure propaganda.

      “this it isn’t about corporation or the economy or the what they get paid for their bad education”

      Sure……

    • TFRX

      Well, we can listen to the CIA’s World Fact Book, the U.S. is ranked the 42nd most unequal country in the world, with a Gini Coefficient of 45. That’s how economists measure this stuff.

  • Brandstad

    Rich Man, Poor Man

    A short video showing how the rich,poor divide has changed over the last 30 years.   It also compares the US to the rest of the world.

    This is amazing.

    http://youtu.be/OkebmhTQN-4

    • Hidan

      Yep folks the poor are getting richer it’s all a fantasy to claim otherwise.
      Brandstad linking us youtube videos from
      Pajamasmedia an another hackjob right wing group with the likes of Bill Whittle and Alfonzo Rachel most of the videos omits vast amounts of information and distortion is common.

    • Anonymous

      So your point is that Andrew Carnegie and Cornelius Vanderbilt were way worse off that today’s poor in America because they didn’t have air conditioning and cell phones? 

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Someone making minimum wage today can afford a VCR, which was $20,000 in the seventies!  Are you saying that today’s mimimum wage earner, at $16,000 per year, is RICHER than the person that could afford a VCR in 1978?  (hint;  VCRs NOW cost $50.00 or less)

  • Hidan

    It’s the Inequality, Stupid

    http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/02/income-inequality-in-america-chart-graph

    A huge share of the nation’s economic growth over the
    past 30 years has gone to the top one-hundredth of one percent, who now
    make an average of $27 million per household. The average income for the
    bottom 90 percent of us? $31,244.

    Note: The 2007 data (the most current) doesn’t reflect
    the impact of the housing market crash. In 2007, the bottom 60% of
    Americans had 65% of their net worth tied up in their homes. The top 1%,
    in contrast, had just 10%. The housing crisis has no doubt further
    swelled the share of total net worth held by the superrich.

    • Brandstad

      The great thing about the US is the rich don’t stay rich and the poor don’t have to stay poor.  Studies show that kids in wealthy families that are handed down family money have a 70% chance of loosing their inherited wealth.

      • Hidan

        Which studies? Funded by who? Peer reviewed? Do tell?

        • Hidan

          Please provide the difference in the # after/before the cut in the inheritance tax or the right calls it “death tax”

        • TFRX

          Yeah, you’re pumping a dry well there.

          Of course, there is the chance that someone’s written a script that challenges every Brandstad post containing the phrase “studies show”. Such a script has better-than-house-odds of winning the argument.

          • TFRX

            Editing error: “You’re pumping a dry well there by asking Brandstad to back up his ‘studies’ “. 

          • Hidan

            I’m well aware that his full of it. Sometimes you just gotta get out and pump the well to prove it’s still dry to head off the scapegoating that some would gladly take advantage of.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Rich spoiled brats waste money?  That’s news?  I’d say that MOST spoiled children that didn’t work for a living, that inherit, waste away the money, as do lottery winners, sweepstakes winners, and recipients of windfalls, that they had no plans for!
            The ultra-rich are getting ultra-richer, by exporting jobs, buying up U.S. companies and destroying them, buying laws that make them richer and more powerful, and other illegal and immoral means!

        • Brandstad

          Your point is one repeated by the Tea Party arguing for smaller government closer to the people so our government can’t be bought as easily as it is now by the ultra rich.

          Also a flat tax would solve this problem also, since the rich couldn’t buy the tax breaks they want like GE did in order to pay no taxes for several years.  All businesses should be treated  the same by the IRS just as all people should be treated  the same by the IRS

          • Anonymous

            I am happy to see that you agree that wealthy hedge fund mangers should finally be paying taxes at a rate at least as high as someone making $30,000 a year.  Why don’t you write some of the Republicans in Congress and tell them to stop their current effort to prolong this unfair disparity?

          • Terry Tree Tree

            How would a flat tax solve the problem of the rich hoarding their ill-gotten gains, or purchasing over-seas, or black-market?

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Some, that claim to be original TEA Partiers, I agree with.  The lackeys of the Koch brothers, and BIG corporations of GREEDY rich, I do NOT.

      • Anonymous

        Economic mobility in the US is worse than many other developed countries.

        “Both the United States and Great Britain have significantly less economic mobility than Canada, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and possibly Germany; and the United States may be a less economically mobile society than Great Britain.”

        [url]http://www.princeton.edu/futureofchildren/publications/journals/article/index.xml?journalid=35&articleid=85&sectionid=515[/url]

    • Brandstad

      Slovakia, Belarus, and Hungary have the best income equality in the world as of 2002.  Does anyone really want to live in one of this countries?  Why do you want the US to become more like these countries?

      • Hidan

        Reductio Ad Absurdum.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        You want to live in Somalia?  Iran? ANY of the countries with the greatest amount of inequality?  If you weren’t rich?

  • Chadcarslon70

    This is less about income inequality and more about the pervasiveness of crime and the tax payer supported Section 8 housing programs, all of which undermine the safety and stability of middle income neighborhoods.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      ????

  • Terry Tree Tree

    The GREEDY rich creating MORE POOR, through illegal, immoral, and deceitful means! 
        Rich or poor, a criminal is always a criminal, even if they abuse religion to perpetuate their crime!
        Banksters, Mafia Dons, corrupt politicians, Ponzi-schemers, and a plethora of criminals for wealth and the power they lust after!

  • Brandstad

    This is one reason rich get richer.

    http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2011/11/obama-stimulus-programs-turned-out-big.html

    Contact your representative and demand an investigation into this insider trading.

    • Hidan

      Nice Brandstad in favor of regulations and oversight or atleast it’s the body of the blog post(of course only for liberals). Seems the blog is all about George Soro’s gaming the system the same way mind you lobbiest and WS did/has/is. In the post Robert Wenzel conveniently forgets to mention the stimulus bill consisted of 1/3 tax cuts

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Could there be bias from Brandstad?

    • nj

      Branny has his broken-clock moment! Congratulations!

  • Dalbin

    “The rich are different from you and me.” This quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald has come increasingly to mind the past few years, as our roiling economy and the disparity it has created have continued to plague our society. According to a study that was published in Aug. of 2011 by psychologist and social scientist Dacher Keltner, it was the quality of empathy that was found lacking between the haves and have nots. “Their life experience makes them less empathetic, less altruistic, and generally more selfish.” The ideology of self-interest, without the balance of empathy, is definitely something to consider when we wonder why our society is working for fewer and fewer of us.
    This begs the question…Can we really expect those who are so disconnected from the majority of us, due to extreme wealth and power, to really care one wit about the well-being or concerns of their fellow citizens? What I also finding disconcerting, based on the comments I read here and elsewhere by people who I suspect are not part of the 1%, is that while prosperity may not be trickling down, a lack of empathy may very well be.
    While to some this seem a somewhat scathing indictment, and of course in no way can be applied to all those who are wealthy, it has become increasingly apparent that the only people who are concerned about the middle-class are…the middle-class or politicians running for office.
    Has anyone ever experienced the glazed look in the eye when one is deemed not “one of us”?
    http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/08/10-7

  • Brandstad

    Countries with 
    greatest inequalityGini 
    indexLowest 
    20%Highest 20% 1.Sierra Leone62.91.1%63.4% 2.Central African Republic61.32.065.0 3.Swaziland60.92.764.4 4.Brazil60.72.264.1 5.Nicaragua60.32.363.6 6.South Africa59.32.964.8 7.Paraguay57.71.960.7 8.Colombia57.13.060.9 9.Chile56.73.361.010.Honduras56.32.259.411.Guinea-Bissau56.22.158.912.Lesotho56.02.860.113.Guatemala55.83.860.614.Burkina Faso55.14.660.415.Mexico53.13.557.416.Zambia52.63.356.617.Hong Kong, China52.24.457.117.El Salvador52.23.356.419.Papua New Guinea50.94.556.520.Nigeria50.64.455.721.Mali50.54.656.221.Niger50.52.653.323.Gambia50.24.055.324.Zimbabwe50.14.755.725.Venezuela49.53.053.226.Malaysia49.24.454.327.Russia48.74.453.728.Panama48.53.652.829.Cameroon47.74.653.130.Dominican Republic47.45.153.3Read more: World Income Inequality (2002) — Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0908770.html#ixzz1eXdkBeIS

    • John – Williamstown, VT

      Notice that the US is not on either list.  I would question these numbers simply because of the inclusion of Egypt and Rwanda on the list.  If the idea of equality is that everyone is poor then they belong on that list but I doubt that is the case in Egypt.  Someone with better information oof the situation there should weigh in here.

      • nj

        I think the lists are accurate. One starts from the top, the other from the bottom. The U.S. is in the middle; neither list went far enough to capture the middle countries. 

    • nj

      Apparently unaware of what he’s posting, the upshot of Branny’s inscrutable list: The U.S. ranks about 60 in income equality. Nearly two-thirds of all countries rank higher in income equality than the U.S.

      • Drew You Too

        And in Healthcare
        And in Education

        Nice reply nj.

        • Youretheparasite

          you and nj are bringing the education score down, can’t say much about h/c

  • Michiganjf

    Only two and a half years ago, I was providing data on this very website that median income had decreased significantly in adjusted dollars and was killing the middle class.

    … The Righties here were arguing until blue in the face that the middle class was doing better than ever, and that the left was lying about the decline of the American middle class… one brainiac Rightie is still arguinfg that here today!!

    How’s that pea-brained argument working for you Righties now??!!!

  • Stillin

    Oh I had to stop and find a computer to log in…I LOVED my neighbors, and so, my neighborhood, growing up, Massena, NY. On the St.Lawrence River, bordering Canada on the US side. My neighbors, who I picture often in my mind, were educated, were kind, friendly. Educators, lawyers, doctors and pharmacists. I moved back here from Dallas,Tx to raise my own kids. I wanted them to have what I had, woods to play in, fields, and people they knew. ( In Dallas, it had become a white, rich, suburb, nobody knew anybody and people were having their kids and pets stolen out of their front yards). So home to my street I came, Allen St. ( One old neighbor has supposedly written a book on it, by Kathleen Holland). So, we had gangs of kids, everybody played outside, even in winter. Now, I look at my street and I feel sad. We have junk living one home away, brutes who beat their kids and their pets . ( I have called the child abuse hotline 9 times since they moved in, and the Humane Center). We had a level 3 sex offender, with get this, NO RESTRICTIONS. Drove him out. What I noticed is these people are ignorant, poor, and uneducated. I love my 1930′s home  and  my wonderful memories of growing up on Allen St. … but I wonder…will I stay?

  • Tina

    Tear Downs!  Modest homes in nice neighborhoods got Torn Down, replaced by McMansions squeezed onto small lots and costing three times the price of the modest homes!  Sometimes the realty companies actually scouted for the homes that were designated for tearing down by their “client”, the developer.  Talk about Insider Trading!  

    • kelty

      This happened to my Parents-In-Law w/ a family home in Lexington,MA – we even lived in it for a while – buyer said they were going to renovate & talked them down in price – parents were thrilled it was going to remain & agreed – house got knocked down day after closing – made my FIL cry to see the house his grandparents built and he grew up in torn to bits – still can’t bring himself to drive by & see the new monstrosity they built. SHAME!! 

  • jim

    I strongly believe this disparity will survive for many, many years until stupid american voters finally realize they are screwed and duped by the conservative right (aka conservative frauds).

  • TFRX

    Reardon makes a good point (:13 into the hour) about the height of the step to go into a higher-income neighborhood. The other shoe to drop is about the schools that exist there.

    And good on our host for mentioning how this reinforces an economic monoculture. Nothing makes for a better society than strict geographic separation by economic strata, right?

  • Noway

    The following is what the loss of my middle class neighborhood means to me. My plan is The Farm by DR Horton in Myrtle Beach SC.
    It means more rentals, more section 8′s and less home and yard maintenance. It means more vehicles without mufflers parked in yards and in the street. It means more vandalism and youths roaming without supervision. It means more drugs with nightly drug deliveries. It means more undocumented renters. There are remaining pockets of middle class homes but they stay to themselves and do not look out of the windows. The loss of property values is covered by the economy but the real and permanent loss of property values is from the loss of the middle class.

  • Rex

    The middle class is best described by Cosmo Kramer as Anytown, USA

    • JUST CORY PLEASE!

      Serenity now!

  • Jess

    I come from a working class background, but went to a top tier university.  I was appalled to learn how many upper income students felt themselves to be “middle-class.”   Since the rich are so isolated, they get a very skewed vision of their place in society.
    These are the people that are going to go on to become the leaders and policy-makers of this country – and they are making economic policy based on a very flawed perception of what it means to “make it” in America. 

  • Ben K.

    Something struck me in the opening discussion of the show.  Both Tom and his guest referred, almost reflexively, to the dogma that the goal of 20th-cent. middle-class life was to move up, i.e., middle-class life as a source of opportunity to something better.  We all are entirely familiar with this notion.  Well, perhaps what we are now seeing–the stratification of society with relatively more people moving into the upper-middle class and a significant number falling into the economic mire–is simply the inevitable fruit of this.  In other words, ca. 20% what used to be the “middle-class” are now the mcmansion set and another 20% are now the downwardly mobile not-so-middle class.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      ???

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Ah, 20 th Century! 
             Isn’t it more like 20% McMansion set, and 80% downwardly-mobile-no-longer-middle-class?

  • notafeminista

    “If I have too many slices of pizza, you don’t have to eat the box.”  PJ O’Rourke 

    • Terry Tree Tree

      ???

    • Anonymous

      or, “you don’t need pizza, just eat your cake.”

      • notafeminista

        Cake, pizza ..I don’t care.  Go get your own and stop carrying on about how you CAN’T and figure out a way to CAN.  The Left goes on and on about how educated and enlightened they are and they have got to be the single most uncreative and negative bunch of folks I have ever met.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Meaning what?

      • nj

        I think O’Rourke misrepresents the OWS position (to the extent there is a position), but here’s the context with the (correct) quote:

        http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/commentary/orourke-if-1-had-less-would-99-be-better?page=1

        • notafeminista

          How can one misrepresent what doesn’t exist?

          • nj

            He’s attributing something to the movement that doesn’t exist. How’s that?

          • notafeminista

            Assume that is the case.  He’s saying the 99% want the 1% to have less.  Would you agree that is what he is saying?

          • notafeminista

            Ok, I’ve already posted, but it seems to be lost, forgive any repeats.  You don’t think the 99% believes the 1% has something they are entitled to (preferably at the expense of the 1%)?

      • notafeminista

        I think its pretty clear.  Just because I have pizza and you don’t, you don’t have to eat the box. 

        • Terry Tree Tree

          You don’t want to share the pizza, NOR give me a productive job to earn some pizza!  Eating the box, for whatever nutrition is left, is an option.

          • notafeminista

            I am not preventing you from getting pizza nor am I preventing you from having a job to earn your own pizza.  I eat my own pizza that I have earned.  Why do I owe YOU anything?

  • Ellen Dibble

    I know Reardon’s study didn’t address this, but Americans have been pushed to invest their wealth in ever greater housing, which to me seems unwise.  A country with grand McMansions but few factories or public facilities (railroads, schools…) may be said to have misspent its resources.  So if people have their money sunk in housing, they are more likely to be moving toward affluent neighborhoods.
         But there was a story about household wealth (accumulation of resources, retirement funds, as well as gold ingots, housing), which shows disparities.  So I’m wondering if this was taken into account.  Of course tax policy influences where wealth is put, into housing (wealthy enclave?) or elsewhere.

    • TFRX

      Tangent: How many people have felt the need to “overbuy” their residence because of restrictive zoning laws which made every house in a school district “oversubscribed”?

      Developers aren’t interested in tinkering with housing policy; they just want to build the easiest and least expensive thing they can get away with. They won’t build things that look and act like the small towns that everyone imagines America needs more of–zoning laws make much of that illegal.

      This looks like a subject for another show about new urbanism. (Of course, we’ll have to have David Brooks on to extol the virtues of Foreclosureville–his beloved exurbs out in the middle of nowhere, inhabited briefly by Patio Man and Realtor Mom.)

      • Ellen Dibble

        Ah, zoning laws.  In the good old days, the aughts, developers wanted to put up the most costly possible.  There was a kind of developer bubble, maybe like the banker-income bubble that makes everyone say, “oh, we have to pay them $10 million a year or they’ll run ASAP to the next bank and work for them.”   In developer terms, they’d court the most well-heeled clients.  If a city worried that their teachers and firemen were moving out of town, the city would use the new community support laws that allow developers to put up housing that does not pay property taxes, not ratable housing, and the developer could get subsidized low-interest loans. And that housing would still be maxed out, the fanciest one-room rental units that could be justified, a million dollars a room.  Don’t you know, city property is expensive.
            But there’s a kind of bubble to it.  Zoning can require that a portion of the housing is sort of foisted on the community, but it isn’t all that attractive.  You can’t stay there and expect your income to rise and allow you to save it, or have it go into your housing asset.  It goes into the developer’s asset.  Bubble, as I said.

        • TFRX

          Zoning can require that a portion of the housing is sort of foisted on the community, but it isn’t all that attractive.

          Of course that’s true. Zoning is a system of numbers to be met. Unless things are required to be “attractive” (a nebulous term in itself), chances are they won’t be.

          And I don’t mean picture-postcard attractive, like the Cleavers’ house exterior, which I saw on the Universal Studios tour in the ’90s, and may still be standing today. I mean human-scale, “people will spend time in this space because it wasn’t built to resemble, from day one, an abandoned cinderblock warehouse” or somesuch.

  • notafeminista

    Well of course it’s someone else’s fault.  Why on earth should Americans be held accountable for their actions?

    • JUST CORY PLEASE!

      Like most problems, the causes are probably diverse.  Some are likely self inflicted while others are external.  The truth usually resides in the middle.

    • Spolglase

      I find your comment to be very typical of a Republican ideology.  To completely focus on personal responsibility is to blind yourself to the larger trends.  Focusing completely on the individual allows you to explain away any greater trends that are effected the American people. 

      It seems ridiculous to blame higher unemployment on the laziness of people.  Those people HAD good jobs before.  In March of 2007 the unemployment rate was at 4.4% and now we are over DOUBLE that at 9.1%.  Did nearly 5% of America go from being employed, responsible members of society to deciding they’d be lazy bums just sucking off the system?  That’s just crazy.

      Personal responsibility is not the only thing that effects our country and our economy.

      • Anonymous

        Well said. The right needs to blame people who can’t defend themselves. Witness Newt Gingrich’ latest gaff in which he said the child labor laws are stupid. That children in poor neighborhoods should be put to work cleaning their schools and or be able to work at 14. Talk about class warfare.

        • Terry Tree Tree

          Was Newt’s statement a gaffe, or just his Christian values?  Like serving divorce papers on a death-bed, or having a mistress, while married?  Christians MUST hold him up as a Sterling example for their children!

          • nj

            No “divorce papers” were served on a death bed.

          • Pancake

            He waited until she struggled to stand up and go pee.

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Cute, and who knows how accurate?

          • Terry Tree Tree

            You sure?  That was stated on here, and refuted.  If you’re sure, I’ll retract it.  There’s enough truth against Republicans, to avoid resorting to lies. 

          • nj

            Yep. “Divorce papers” aren’t “served.” That’s not how the process works.
             Divorce had, apparently, been discussed prior to her admission to hospital.It wasn’t a “death bed;” Ms. Battley is alive and, presumably, somewhat well.http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/aspects-of-gingrich-divorce-story-distorted/2011/11/17/gIQA8iY4YN_story.html

            What does seem beyond dispute is that the Newtster was cheating on Wife 1 and Wife 2 while still married to them.

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Good Chrisitan Values that the Right claims repeatedly!!  Cheating on your wife X2, and blaming it on your ‘passion for work’. 

          • Terry Tree Tree

            I hereby RETRACT the statement about Newt serving divorce papers to his wife on her death-bed!  nj says it didn’t happen that way, and I was repeating what I had read and heard.

        • notafeminista

          Your assessment is correct, in that the class designates as “those who can’t defend themselves” gets larger everyday.  Offer so-called “free” anything and people will fall all over themselves to find a way to get it.  People want something for nothing.

      • notafeminista

        I said nothing about anyone being lazy or unemployed.  I said we blame our problems on others.  It is rare to find anyone (especially in this forum) accepting responsibility for his/her actions.

  • Anonymous

    Living here in Boston, we’re going through a period of “bright flight” – young college educated working are flocking to the cities because of the lack things to do, places to go in the suburbs. As an empty nester I am in the city for the same reason. For the whole the of city poor is shrinking, at least here.

    On the other hand, I’ve heard poverty is increasing in the suburbs faster than anywhere else. The problems of growing poverty in the suburbs is really going to drag down the “traditional” middle class neighborhood.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1816544 Dan Trindade

    Middle class neighborhoods are the embodiment of the American melting pot and their decline signals not only increasing stratification of wealth in America and declining living standards and expectations for the average American, but the death of the American Dream.

    • Anonymous

      White flight wasn’t a factor in creating the middle class suburbs?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1816544 Dan Trindade

        Not saying it wasn’t but the modern middle class neighborhood, suburban or urban, is the goal for all seeking to lift themselves out of the lower class. It represents a better sense of community, better services, and a better life. To see it decline is to watch the dimming if not death of the dreams of millions.

    • notafeminista

      Because it is always a glass half empty scenario.    No reason to think of it as new opportunity and the American Dream re-defined. Because we imagine we don’t have it “as good” as previous generations, then there is nothing to be done.

      How depressing is that?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1816544 Dan Trindade

        Acknowledging the depth and difficulty of our societal problems, no matter how depressing, is not an admission of defeat. If anything it is a call to action. We are a more polarized and stratified country and our problems are systematic but this is still America and we can improve, we can fix these problems, and we can build a better country for all Americans. If anything is truly depressing, it is the perception that Americans should ever be satisfied with the state of our country no matter how rosy the picture appears. We must always strive to better ourselves. To do otherwise is to accept decline and stagnation and personally I find such acceptance not only un-patriotic but down right un-American.

        • notafeminista

          I beg to differ.  To say “we can’t” and “there is no way”  and to absolutely go out of the way to list how it’s just not possible is in fact admitting defeat.   Read the comments on the board. 

          • Terry Tree Tree

            You ‘beg to differ’, then say the same thing Dan just said!   VERY enlightening about you!

          • notafeminista

            I’ve read the comments on the board, and what I see categorically is a population of people who claim nothing can be done.  Have you read the comments on the board?

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Opportunity??  What opportunity?  List, please!

        • notafeminista

          There are 1000s of opportunities out there…you don’t want opportunities you want guarantees.  You want SECURITY and you want someone else to provide it for you.

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Obviously you have NOT read my comments, OR have NO memory!

          • notafeminista

            I’ve done both  – and it strikes me the opportunities out there are not suited to your liking.  Whose fault is that?

      • Anonymous

        It’s good that you are satisfied with things.  I expect we will hear no complaints about anything from you.

  • ajh

    I live in San Francisco – one of the most expensive cities in the country, if not the world – where poor neighborhoods are either sequestered on the edges of town (Bayview, Hunter’s Point) or in little clusters in the middle of dominant gentrification (Fillmore, projects next to Hayes Valley).
    My neighborhood – Bernal Heights – is one of the few neighborhoods in this city that seems actually diverse both economically and ethnically. There are mansions and projects all within a matter of blocks, and it adds a diversity that I don’t think can be found anywhere else in this city. But still, I don’t see much diversity in the local hoity toity grocery store on the main drag – only those who can afford to pay $6.75 for a pint of organic strawberries.

    • notafeminista

      Diversity for diversity’s sake?  Is that what you are asking for?  You assume those who can afford to pay 6.75 for organic strawberries are somehow not diverse in other ways. Politics? Religion? Employment? Education? Ancestry? 

      There is no nobility in being poor.

      • PaulC

        What are you talking about. I too live in SF in the Tenderloin. AJH does make a good observation and is clearly talking about diversity of ethnicity. The majority of the clientele at places like Whole Foods are not very diverse in Ethnicity. The rest of those subjects you are talking about are not what he is talking about.

        • notafeminista

          That isn’t what he said at all.  What he said was he sees no diversity in their economic status  (IE they can afford the organic strawberries).  

    • guest

      I live in San Francisco too, Bernal is a prime example of what they are talking about in this piece. Its a former working class neighborhood that is turning into a wealthy one. I’m solidly around the median income for San Francisco and I cant afford to buy a house there or even rent there without eating up too much of my income.

      There are next to no neighborhoods left in San Francisco that someone in the median income range can afford other than the super poor ones like Bayview.

  • http://twitter.com/WR3A Robin Ingenthron

    Correlation isn’t proof.  Alternative explanations:  less “white flight” motivating suburban moves.   Title 5 (sewer vs. septic) reform.  Housing bubble.  You see “declining suburbs”, I see “gentrification” in South End.

  • Janie

    Isn’t this all a reflection of the loss of our manufacturing sector? There are so many fewer “middle class” or lucrative working-class jobs available.

    • Stierman1-in-Boise

      Yes@Janie: Until the next big technological break through comes along the decline shall continue. Consider the impact of conversion to coal from wood, candle to gas light, rural electrification, the airplane and all of the other inventions and advancements of the industrial revolution and evolution. The last big push forward was the digital revolution. In the future there is another major  advancement looming wishfully I hope it is sustainable energy along the lines of commercially viable nuclear fusion and the advancements that will trickle down from that.

      Consider this advancement is not guaranteed. In the Chevet Cave in France there are 30,000 year old paintings next to 28,000 paintings which re[present 5,000 years of moving sideways.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        A nuclear physicist that I know, has been right for over 26 years that I have known him.  ‘Nuclear Fussion is ALWAYS 25 years into the future!’  The money that we have spent on nuclear fussion, would have provided ALL the sustainable, and clean energy we need, with wind, geothermal, hydro, solar, tidal, and the others!

  • Patrick Singleton

    I think there is some imprecision in the language on the show. “Middle class people” aren’t being replaced by poor people; middle class people are becoming poor.

  • Nancy

    Please consider the impact of college debt on this issue.  The last generation was blessed by the GI bill and didn’t have a ton of debt starting out to overcome before acquiring a house.  My son came out of college with no debt…he had an immediate leg up to this ‘affluent’ neighborhood.

    • notafeminista

      Please consider the sacrifice the last generation made when the GI Bill was created.

      • Anonymous

        What do people today need to do to be “deserving” of such treatment in your view?

        • notafeminista

          Deserving of what treatment exactly?

      • Anonymous

        You do realize that FDR created the GI bill.

      • Ellen Dibble

        So we should shoot ourselves in the foot and not educate the next generation because we didn’t have a universal draft during Iraq and Afghanistan?  Or because we aren’t focused on how to (a) pay for those and (b) reconstitute ourselves and our world into a productive state?

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Getting blown up by an IED, RPG, or other combat-related injuries in Iraq or Afghanistan to protect the interests of major oil, or corporations, doesn’t qualify as sacrifice?

        • notafeminista

          Is the GI bill no longer available?

          • Terry Tree Tree

            YOU don’t know?  By the way, GI Bill DOES NOT pay for medical disabilities, prosthetics, training, medical transportation, NOR the six-month average wait for those and a LOT more necessities of the war-wounded!
                Climb down from your cloud-house, and go visit and take care of those war-wounded vets!

    • Spolglase

      Yeah I agree Nancy.  I personal have a huge post-secondary debt (somewhere around $75,000) and I’m not alone.  I made a choice to take on that debt to receive a graduate level education at an expensive school and I accept the responsibility of that choice.  

      That being said I think it’s very unfortunate that we are forcing our post-secondary students to take on such gigantic debt, not to mention(and perhaps more importantly) at higher and higher interest rates.  

      I think ultimately it puts people on very weak footing after exiting college or grad-school, ESPECIALLY when the economy is bad.  Luckily I have a good job to support my debt but for folks who can’t find the job it’s very easy to find yourself in a horrible situation.  

      It would seem to me we would want to make it easy for the best and brightest of our country to get an education.  It serves the good of everyone for that to happen.

  • Tina

    The hyper-rich in a nearby town sued that town when their gigantic, waterfront homes (with multiple out buildings) were assessed at what many would consider the proper price.  The rich sued to get the assessment company thrown out and another one substituted in its place.  Apparently, some of the assessments came out the same, others went up or down:  the actual result was not well documented for the general communities.  My point is that these hyper-rich people don’t even GET how extraordinarily privileged they are, how humungous their houses and properties are!  They can drive home and never go past the little, little 1950′s ranch houses in that town, owned by people in their eighties and nineties who used to own now-defunct grocery stores and small fruit/vegetable markets.  

    • notafeminista

      Because it is your business to determine what I need….?

      • Terry Tree Tree

        ???

  • Ellen Dibble

    Matt, calling now from Springfield, speaks of lovely old homes.  Yes, it’s called the City of Homes, and they are beautiful, many beautiful multi-family homes.  I would love to live in many of them, except that from looking at the news, the neighbors aren’t able to keep it safe.

  • Anonymous

    India recently reduced their population of poor – by redefining what the government considers poor is.

    I expect to see a redefinition of middle class in the US coming soon just to keep up the numbers.

    • notafeminista

      Oh my dear creaker, the US already has….only in reverse.   The income level to be considered “poverty” has increased a number of times.  This way more people need to be “helped” and dependent on the state for said  “help”.

      • Lucy

        I think you are mistaken about that.  I know a disabled man (brain injured) living on $1100/month in Social Security Disablity (he worked for Polaroid for 23 years) in Boston.  He doesn’t qualify for ANY subsidies except $14.00 per month in food stamps.  Another couple I know had her husband fall off a roof.  They owned a 2 bedroom home (shack really) which they still owed money on.  She worked 2 part-time jobs which equaled $18,000/yr.  Her mortgage and taxes were $900/mo.  She qualified for NO food stamps or any type of subsidies.  This was Massachusetts, the so-called liberal state.  I think you need to have several dependents and be a single mother to qualify for anything here.  

        • Anonymous

          Lucy, you don’t understand.  Until your friend is living in a tin shack on a muddy hillside without plumbing or a sewer, he’s not really poor in the minds of those like notafeminista.  Until then, he’s better off than Cornelius Vanderbilt ever was because he has a flush toilet.

          • notafeminista

            $1100 a month?  According to Dept of Labor, current minimum wage is 7.25 an hr which gives (assuming 40 hr work weeks) a gross income of 1160 a month (gross)  ..the fellow in Boston(assuming $1100 is net – you did not specifiy) receives more than minimum wage in Soc Sec disability.  Plus whatever Soc Sec he will receive, plus any potential pension from Polaroid.

            ???

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Go THRIVE on $1100 per month, paying ALL your bills, medical, lodging, fuel, groceries, for TEN years, then report back how easy it is!

          • notafeminista

            I already have. 

  • Sam

    I make just over 60K and live in the burbs. Single parent household.
    Living paycheck to paycheck!

    But I in no way feel middle-class!

    2/3 of my take home pay goes for living expenses and day care.
    and the other 1/3 left to pay for other necessities, like food, gas, car pmnt, etc.

    Don’t have anything left to save or for entertainment/travel!
    Can’t afford to take a vacation, nor buy a ton of Christmas gifts, etc.

    • Sam

      Is there a class that’s called “barely scraping by” and “one disaster away from poverty”?

      • Sam

        And yet, I still feel grateful to have a job, but often times I feel like if I didn’t work at all or had a lower paid job, my life would be easier because it would be subsidized by govt!

        I would pay less for housing, health ins, day care/school. I mean, poverty is looking pretty good by now!

        • Sam

          The story about the two mice who fell into a jar of milk. One gave up and drowned and the other one kept trying to get out and finally beat the milk into a chunk of butter and was able to escape.

          Well, I feel like the second mouse, but the milk just isn’t turning into butter, no matter how long or how hard I can work at it!

          • Sam

            Or maybe someone just keeps adding new milk into the jar and seeing how far the mouse would go.
            :)

          • Pfamcoupons

            Sam I feel you, keep swimming buddy- :)

      • Terry Tree Tree

        That’s the poor they’re talking about!  You’re certanily NOT middle-class, being one disaster away from poverty!

    • notafeminista

      Might be time to re-think the household budget.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Or past time for the GREEDY rich to REALLY look at their own lives and ‘beliefs’, which is FAR easier!

        • notafeminista

          Once again, you’ll have to define rich.  Or maybe greedy.  Tell me, is wanting more and better for oneself  by defininition greedy?  Or is it that you and you alone have some magical equation to determine when someone else has more than YOU think they should?  Just where is the line exactly?

  • Jon

    I’m an Electrical Engineer with a Masters Degree in Biomedical Engineering. I’m 57 and was layed off two years ago when the business I was associated with went under. At my age (ageism is accepted in our sociaty) I’ve given up after 100+ resumes. Luckly my wife is a tenured academinc, otherwise our situation would have been quite serious. Yes we are still middle class, however if the situation was a little different we would have been catapolted into the growing ranks of the distressed. I’m now doing furniture and cabinet work that grew out of what was a hobby. I’ve gone from being saleried to hourly and although I own my own buisness, my revenue is joined to the hip of the failing economy. Our income was cut by more than half and I feel like the very fabric of what made this country great is being torn apart.

    • Stierman1-in-Boise

      I have a college degree myself and drive an 18 wheeler for a food distribution company on local runs. In a previous life I did something much more skilled and technical that required my degree, though I remember those days I don’t pine for them.This year I have met 2 PhD’s and many MA/MS degree holders also driving 18 wheelers. You do what you have to do. Life goes on… Re-invent yourself and remember pride comes before the fall.

    • Dalbin

      Jon..your situation is the type that always makes me wonder when I hear, “We can’t find people in our country with the right education and experience…ergo, we have to import workers from elsewhere.” Goes along with the many IT people, who’ve ended up training their replacements from India because guess what? Those cheaper replacements lacked the experience to be able to do the job.
      Another example of the “profit is all” mentality that is eroding our middle-class.

      With the growing trend of internet courses however, where your professor can be located anywhere, I’m sure someone is looking for ways to undermine the tenured professor.

      One is either overqualified, too old, too young and inexperienced or lacking the right education…which translates as “We want cheap labor and people desperate enough to tolerate whatever poor treatment that best serves our bottom-line.  Where does it all end?

      In the meantime…the best to you!

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Accurate Analysis!! 

      • Terry Tree Tree

        EXCELLENT synopsis of the GREEDY rich!

  • Tina

    From our founding, we’ve had our roots in the Class System of Great Britain….  In fact, we refuse to entertain decent, successful, solvent  ideas for sociopolitical organization that can be seen in the Scandinavian countries.  

    • ocva

      Your comment fails to take into account the fact that the Scandinavian countries are far smaller, far less diverse, with many more hundreds of years of shared ethnic & cultural heritage - ergo, far more socially cohesive – than the U.S. The U.S. are not & cannot be like Scandinavia. The solutions to our problems will by necessity be quite different.

  • Stierman1-in-Boise

    This should not be a surprise. Even Candidate H. Ross Perot predicted this in 1992 when speaking about Globalization and NAFTA. The endless outsourcing of jobs and industry overseas has inevitably lead to this. Certainly we have helped to raise the living standards of people in emerging nations and economies. Once the cost of production on US shores becomes equal to costs abroad then the playing field will level and prosperity will return. To think otherwise is folly.

    • Dan

      To think the outsourced job will come back is folly. They are gone for good. The knowledge is gone, the equipment is gone and the education is gone. Don’t hold your breath waiting until the rest of the world comes up in living standard and production cost to match our level; it will not happen in decades. If it ever will happen, it would be that our living standard would come down to a sustainable level.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Wilson makes a good point about “community” depending on factors that are getting lost.  It is important for people to have the kind of Time and Security that allows you to settle back and nourish the kinds of local institutions that bring people together regularly enough that they can start to figure out how to advocate for this and that.  No kidding, you can’t spend a lot of time volunteering for someone’s campaign.  Maybe if I were unemployed…

  • Dpweber83

    Outstanding topic—this is why I love OnPoint.

  • Amy

    It’s not just middle-class people getting poor. It’s bleeding hearts putting “affordable” housing — meaning crime-ridden Section 8 — in formerly tidy working-class neighborhoods. It kills the neighborhood every time, and there’s no way to convince the zealots in charge that all they’re doing is making crime and misery metastasize. I worry all the time about what happens when the farm catty-corner from me gets sold — it’s an island now, and I know the city’s talked about putting low-income housing in there. It’d put us inside a triangle of slummy areas, and then goodbye. But I can’t afford to move.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      Section 8 housing doesn’t create poor people.  Where should poor people live?

      Neil

      • Anonymous

        Under bridges?  Maybe that is why the Republicans oppose spending on infrastructure.

      • notafeminista

        How right you are.  Section 8 creates dependency on the state.

    • PaulC

      I’m sure you neighborhood was going down before the bleeding hearts decided to build section 8 housing in your neighborhood. It probably wouldn’t have been built there if the neighborhood you were living in wasn’t in decline. You should go to your local community meetings if you don’t want to see it built.

  • AC

    i was away – did they talk about the Chinese, Brazilian buying up those homes? Also, Buffalo has a huge, growing Indian population…

    • Jeffhre

      From where I sit in Southern California, there is nothing huge whatsoever about any demographic segment in Buffalo. Richard if your’re reading this, sorry, but I just couldn’t help it.

  • Michiganjf

    Really an EXCELLENT SHOW, Tom… Thank You!!

    Please continue focusing on topics highlighting just how raw a deal the 99% of our country are getting as SOME of our politicians continue to represent ONLY the super-wealthy.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I suppose even family cohesion is threatened since 1970 as there is less shared sense of well-being between the strikingly successful, and those who are basically under the heel of an ever-more exploitative economy. People try all the harder to “circle the wagons,” and keep the money within the family, but it’s possible to simply fall out of that circle, and be considered the “other.”

  • Ellen Dibble

    The draft was a great counter to “insulation,” during World War II, when anyone who had missed the sense of interdependence, respect for difference…  So we don’t have that so much now.  There are ideas of a service corps for all kids before they have settled into marriages, something to link all.  Has Wilson considered that?

    • http://www.maryjones.us tlachtga

      I’m ambivalent about a draft–maybe if we had a draft, we might be more cautious about what wars we get ourselves into. That wouldn’t be a bad thing. Then again, it didn’t stop us from getting into the intractable wars that made the draft unpopular to begin with. The idea that it could mix together different economic classes would only work if we curtail deferments.

      • Ellen Dibble

        If it were more like a Peace Corps commitment, how about that?  Didn’t Obama suggest something like this?  Who is it keeps saying no?  The people who know the country needs to relearn how to come together do come up with that.  And there is plenty for the young people to do, and plenty of skills that they could take on board.  How to pay for it?  Methinks it would pay for itself if done right.  

        • http://www.maryjones.us tlachtga

           Ellen, we can’t even get money to spend on fixing our roads and bridges, much less schools. How would a domestic Peace Corps pay for itself? Don’t be just pie-in-the-sky–think about this. How would it be paid for? It’s not that we don’t need such a program, it’s that no one wants to pay for it.

        • notafeminista

          Because mandatory public service smells a little too much like the draft.  No thank you.

  • Macpet49

    Basically this does nothing to help any of us.  We who live it are stuck with it.  All this theorizing is useless.  Your children will feel it.  Perhaps even their children will feel it before any ‘equalizing of levels’ between countries begin.  Basically, your presidents sold you and your country for a chance for them to get rich fast.  You have been sold into slavery so that Clinton, Bush and Obama along with all of Hollywood and Wall St. could enjoy becoming aristocrats.  Welcome to the new Medieval Age.

  • WhereAmI

    In regards to the piece Tom just read about what it means for many neighborhoods that were fully middle income:

    With the foreclosures and houses prices tanking, there’s a lot of people from the inner city that have moved to the ‘burbs and bringing their habits and issues with them. There was an AP story about it in the last few months about how the former inner city people are wandering the streets at all hours of the night, blaring music and hosting parties at all hours, hanging on curbs, selling drugs on corners and the increased traffic that comes with it, not maintaining their property…  The people that were there before are afraid to go to sleep at night, or can’t; afraid to walk the street, they’ve almost run over kids wandering the streets well after dark, can’t get some peace & quiet because the youth are yakking on cell phones at all hours…

    The social values and cues just aren’t being maintained, and that seems to be the problem. The people that lived there and moved there years did so to have a life different from the inner city life, and now the inner city problems are coming to them. Where do they go? They can’t move into  better neighborhoods, not in this economy.

    • AC

      i think there is likely a correlation here to transportation costs and time spent commuting to income level - that may be why the ‘inner city’ is spreading out.
      Personally, i would love to live 5 minutes from work but I can’t afford the Boston real estate near the commons….well, i could-barely as a renter, but never an owner

  • elvus

    As I listen to the conversations, I ‘m amazed at what I don’t hear – any mention of the devastating impact of persistently failing public schools on middle class neighborhoods. Is it just coincidence as high school graduation rates fall, the median income in those neighborhoods fall as well? As a teacher in an urban charter school that serves a prototypical  middle class neighborhood, I see the effects of long term apathy in the educational system, on the part of both teachers and students who have lost a sense of direction in regard to the social leverage a secondary or post-secondary degree provides. Small wonder to those of us in the trenches that the battle is wavering in favor of long term defeat.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Where do charter schools thrive, without public assistance of some kind?  Do they serve ALL economic levels, and ethnicities equally?  Many charter schools have been exposed for fraud, and other crimes! 
         My children made it to mid-level executive of a major respected corporation, and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, from a small, poor, rural public school.  Are there NO failures of the graduates of charter schools?
         Public schools have a lot of problems, and a LOT of people to answer to.  I’d bet, ALL things equal, public schools would about equal charter schools!

      • Zing

        EXACTLY!  Proving once again that lavish spending on public schools is pointless and unnecessary. Thank you.

        • Terry Tree Tree

          You got that from my post?  HOW?  One for one, and dollar for dollar, with the same requirements, charter schools are not much improvement over public schools.   Some are.  Some public schools are improvements over others.  Build on the successes, NOT tear down ALL public schools, so some GREEDY rich can get FILTHIER rich!

  • Lenel

    There is a white elephant in the room and nobody seems to address it:
    We no longer create value in this society. Manufacturing and even services are more and more farmed out to low cost countries. What is left is only the service industry. At the same time institutionalized gambling, the stock/bond/derivative market has raised to a new level, creating “virtual” value. No longer does hard work and ingenuity matter, because the jobs are not here anymore. This was the backbone of the middle class. What’s left is the either the high stakes gamblers on one hand and the low paying jobs of the service industry. Is it any surprise that the middle class is gone? We sawed on our own branch we’re sitting on.

  • Mom in Southwestern PA

    Excellent discussion….something that i had been trying to verbalize earlier this fall……feeling fortunate to live in a small, rather rural community where we are rich, poor, and in-between….all-together…and still attend the same churches and public schools….

  • Lucy

    When I was growing up (1940′s – 1960′s) I never, ever heard the words “working class”.  That term was associated with people in Great Britain.  In the past 15 years, there has been a continuous discussion of the idea of “class” in America. People who worked a labor intensive job such as factory worker and truck driver routinely used to think of themselves as middle class, but with the new use of the word “working class”, more and more people are waking up to what they have been all along.  

  • carl christian

    I would love to see a correlation of this study with occupation — where do our mainstream media professionals call home, for instance? Or military families? Professional Washington, DC politicians, their staff, and government “white collar” workers? Isn’t it possible that our politics have been profoundly affected by the false impression that everything is great for everyone when you’re living around metro-Washington, DC or other equally upper class urban neighborhoods — and without even intending to be elitist, these well-heeled and well-intentioned upper income professionals are making decisions that are less and less inclusive of many points of view, especially with regard to economic class?
       
      In effect, the bubble around places like Washington, DC is getting more and more impervious to being burst by facts like food kitchens, lines of unemployed Americans, and vacant storefronts because between home and work there are so few, if any, to be seen by the very people who make the most important economic and political decisions.

  • Wes, Cambridge, MA

    I notice that you do not have a link for Ira Goldstein and The Reinvestment Fund.

    Here is the link:
    http://www.trfund.com/index.html

    Here is Ira Goldstein’s bio:
    http://www.trfund.com/about/bios.html#goldstein

    The Reinvestment Fund looks like a good thing to support by taking money off Wall Street and putting it to good use rebuilding needy communities in America.

    How to invest:
    http://www.trfund.com/investors/howtoinvest.html

    Thank you for having Mr. Goldstein on your show!
     

  • Sonia Ettinger

    1. Great program! The luring of stores to more upmarket areas is a reality [Iowa City] 
    Also the way schools are financed is not conducive to equality between schools – and so areas.  Rich schools are better supported than poor district schools – this should be rectified by a broader spread of financing – maybe county wide.  School districts do not relate to anything in particular.
    2.The elephant in the room is really automation/technology.  All companies are trying to be more ‘efficient”.  This means sacking workers and using more computers et al.  This trend is not going away!!  It affects housing as people have to be prepared to go where the jobs are – not be tied to housing.
    3.It seems to me that it’s the big companies that lay off thousands of workers that would be the possible engine for jobs- not the small companies which are usually looked to for job creation.

  • ocva

    I wonder how much of this effect is caused by upper incomes increasing at a greater rate than middle & lower incomes. The gap from top to bottom increases dramatically but, say, the gap from the 0-75% doesn’t change much. While most people stay in roughly the same place, their position on the scale relative to median income decreases. Thus the increasing proportions living in “poor” neighborhoods would be something of a statistical fiction. It’s something to consider. Ultimately I think the demographic shifts in the U.S. (e.g., increasing numbers of minorities, to be frank) have had a more decisive impact upon our social fabric than, & perhaps are part of the reason for, greater income disparities.

    • carl christian

      Throughout America’s history we’ve had increasing numbers of minorities, to be frank — and then they become Americans! Though if you do have a point, it might be worth looking at the last decades of the 19th century and comparing the rates of immigration because America then looked a lot like America does now in terms of income distributions and the complete subjugation of our Congress to the whims of the wealthiest class, especially via the corporate entity as “citizen”.

      Read “The Age of Betrayal” by frequent  OnPoint commentator, Jack Beatty,  and learn all about the parallels between then and now.

      • ocva

        On the passage of 1965 Immigration Act, the U.S. was overwhelmingly of white & European origin. The 1924 Immigration Act had severely limited immigration from non-traditional European origins (e.g., southern & eastern Europe), which had the effect of (largely) pushing these minorities over a few generations out of ethnic enclaves & into the white American mainstream. The same is not happening with today’s immigrants & minorities. We are instead encouraged to celebrate racial & cultural diversity as our crowning civilizational achievement, but diversity is not a basis for a cohesive national identity. Those who bemoan income inequality, increasing segregation of different income brackets, & an accompanying loss of a sense of community, rarely consider that our very demographic diversity plays a role in creating and/or perpetuating the problem. People always have congregated & always will congregate with others who share a common identity. In the present situation, when one ethnicity is the primary component of a particular income bracket, or when shared ethnicity is displaced by shared income & educational levels as the basic social identity, why should we be suprised to see greater economic segregation as a correlative?

        • Terry Tree Tree

          Especially when the rich whites keep finding ways to enforce them!  (BTW, I am a white male)

    • Jeffhre

      That’s true. I remember when one politician gave a frank account of going through a minority neighborhood with the children clamoring around, not even bothering to learn to speek English, weird smells from the kitchen and general disarray. Makes you wonder how the country can recover from something like that. Oh, and the politician was Ben Franklin, and he was referring to German immigrants.

  • Tina

    Tom, Thank you for that wonderful reminiscence about life in your hometown.  

    I think smaller scale, locally owned/determined businesses allow the flexibility that communities need over time.  The mistake we made was buying into the idea of Cheap Goods, especially because we were urged to buy even them on Credit!  I hope that many Americans will shop locally this Black Friday, staying away from the Big Box stores, no matter what the lure.  Kids do NOT need what Americans now think they need for holiday gifts.  In our family, in the 1950′s, we only received few gifts, and they sometimes weren’t even what we “wanted”.  But even then, I think we knew the value of those “unwanted” gifts because they came from the poorer widows in our family who had gone out of their way to buy us handkerchiefs or gloves or socks.  Somehow, accepting their gifts meant we learned about what THEIR lives were like:  more constrained due to circumstances than we liked to know, as kids, but a great lesson, nevertheless.  Forget those neighborhoods where kids will be given their own Lexus this holiday season, while other kids go without food!!

  • Drew You Too

    So glad you’re back to work Tom! Enjoyed the show.

  • Prufer

    I think its fascinating how people esteem themselves into the middle class even when they’re nowhere near middle income and then in term associate themselves with the GOP — the proverbial party of wealth or up and coming — even when the GOP’s policies are counter to these folks own economic self interest.  What a magnificent scam the GOP has perpetuated!

    • Hillarion

      Regarding scams — for one do try to see the movie “Inside Job”. I’m relatively civilized, but discovered a hidden part of my nature when I felt an urge to kill some of the people being interviewed. That was something of a shock. (I’m no street fighter, and never have been.)

      The Republicans (primarily) are social saboteurs. They are too successful in propagating the Orwellian Big Lies. One Big Lie is that there’s not enough money to go around. How about Googling on [quadrillion derivatives]? True, most hits apparently describe another Solar System-sized bubble, but when you see “$1.4 quadrillion” being discussed, somebody has some money.
      One less-recognized form of addiction is acquiring wealth.

      Greed has become exalted to the degree that it is now sacred; some might say that Greed has replaced God as the Most Holy. I won’t be too surprised to see a book entitled “Sacred Greed” one of these days.

      A rising tide swamps all boats (except fishing boats?) shorter than maybe, say, 100 feet. They are now on the bottom of the rivers, harbors, and bays.

      What trickles down (another Orwellian Big Lie) is gray water, leaking from the drain pipes of a penthouse on the top floor.

      A recent cartoon had the slogan “100% compassion-free”. Considering that Rick Perry is actually proud that he executed an innocent man (how pathologically twisted can you become?), maybe that applies to him.

      What we are witnessing is the de-construction of our nation. Among other events, demolishing houses in good condition while more families become homeless is one of our disgraces. Another is breaking up the pavement of good roads and converting them to the equivalent of gravel because gravel costs less to maintain. (Paul Krugman cited this, a while back.) Our local city hospital closed (ongoing bad management); a friend was rather startled when I referred to that event as “de-civilizing” our city. Indeed, there is a lot of de-civilizing going on.

      There’s hope in our history; we (our nation) have had a rather-uncommon ability to bounce back from adversity (at least in part; think, as well, of those still not made whole, on the Gulf Coast). I do worry that regarding recovering from adversity, we might have “lost the recipe” on how to do it. I hope not.

      As to my personal situation, my annual income is roughly equal to what the top-paid CEOs and such earn in a day; it is also equivalent to about four seconds of what the Iraq war was costing at its peak. I haven’t bothered to calculate what it would be versus hypothetical $1.1 quadrillion; that hideous sum is not annual. Femtoseconds, anyone?

      I’m also very blessed to live in one of the USA’s more livable cities (within WBUR’s area of good reception), in rent-subsidized housing that is truly lovely, if modest — an efficiency apartment, I guess one would call it.

      As well, I was born 3/4 of a century ago. When age prejudice combined with a lack of fanatical effort to keep my knowledge and skills at their peak (in a profession, electronic technician, made almost obsolescent) was putting me into a choice of rent, food, or telephone (no car), but not all in the same month, I threw in the towel at age 62, thus becoming 1/3 less of a social parasite. I’m often thankful not to be a baby boomer. (Grover Norquist would be delighted if all of us on Social Security committed suicide.) May his soul rot in infernal eternity.

      Back at the other end of my life, my family lived in Springfield (Mass.) toward the end of WW II, and for a while afterward. Back then, although we were keenly aware of The War Effort, locally, until the War ended, there was a serene sense of peaceful community. Should I, say, become injured in my community (Westminster St.), I was quite confident that some local mother/housewife would tend to my immediate needs.

      I still recall heading out the front door for a neighborhood casual excursion on a nice summer day, not too hot, regarding this serenity and sense of community with late-childhood appreciation. Even at that age, when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were vaporized and blasted, I realized that humanity had crossed a threshold of horror, and life would never be as serene. (But, will that serenity return within the next millennium? Probably, in some places.)

      Please, everybody, shall we stop anaphylactic politics and social sabotage?
      Do we have to reverse The Enlightenment, and allow Dark Age Advocates to take over? I say not.

      I know not whether to laugh or cry about saddles for dinosaurs. When Noah brought dinosaurs onto the Ark, why did the raptors among them not kill everything in sight? Answer: God made them placid.

      Why does the water of the oceans not fall off the edges of the Earth? Answer: It is God’s Will that it not do so. When the Flood (think Noah) subsided, where did the water go? Answer: God let some of it fall off the edge.

      Considering that (according to about one person in four) that the Sun goes around the Earth, modern computers can define epicycles of arbitrary complexity. (Anybody for sketching an Australian sundial, by the way?)

      It’s perhaps much better to be calm and realize that we are undergoing millennial change that will take some time to settle out. Things will surely be different in the future — some will be better.

      The millenium began on Jan. 1, 2000.
      The millennium began on Jan. 1, 2001.

      I slept late, and missed all but the end of the show, but, thanks to modern tech., will listen via the Internet. I must also listen to the shows about pianos and guitar making. Will we, in the USA, in the future, have many more people making and playing musical instruments (some being electronic, or even electronic/acoustic hybrids)? One could hope so.

      As Dave Garroway used to say, “Peace.”

      • Terry Tree Tree

        If your annual income is roughly equal to the top-paid CEOs, CREATE JOBS!  YOU can HELP!!  Reverse the trends you listed, which ARE de-civilizing, and de-humanizing!
            I am NOT asking you to give to charity, Create REAL jobs, with DECENT wages, for people willing to work.
            I CHALLENGE you, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and the other wealthy that care, to CREATE JOBS, with 1/4 of your wealth.  That won’t hurt you!  You’ll actually MAKE money! 
            Why wouldn’t that make you feel better than giving half of your wealth when you die?  You can see the good you do, creating jobs NOW.  You can only IMAGINE the good you will do with gifts after your death.
            Could that be the recipe you mentioned?  It is NOT lost!

        • Terry Tree Tree

          My apologies, I re-read and saw that I had missed you saying your annual income is about equal to top CEO’s pay for a day!
              Maybe someone with that kind of money will read it and think!

    • Carolyn

      You are spot on, Prufer.  Many who call themselves middle class are working class people who vote against their own economic self-interest.   They have been bamboozled by the GOP!

      • Jeffhre

        Is there evidence, other than assuming baboozlement is self evident?

    • Zing

      It’s fascinating to me how you esteem yourself into thinking you have anything important to contribute to this conversation based on your warped perceptions.

      • Jeffhre

        Wouldn’t it be nice if people pointed out in discourse how perceptions were inaccurate instead personal attacks.

        • Terry Tree Tree

          Some of us try!

      • Anonymous

        Esteem him/herself with at least 8 ‘likes’ for his/her comment.

        By the way, the ‘like’ for your comment? Mine. 

        I clicked ‘like’ by mistake when I meant to click ‘reply.’

      • Constapations

        No one knows ‘warped’ perceptions like J.Edgar

    • MediaMatters

      Much thanks goes to the agenda oriented – thought control programming of the ABC/Capital Cities/Disney media conglomerate.

      That’s how they turned the Democratic South into a Ronny-Bush GOP stronghold.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        A LOT of it had to do with the Democratic Party supporting Equal Rights for women and minorities.  The white-supremists had to find a party to support their agenda, even if it DID have to be veiled!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_C2STBLZJK4VKQBV27DVQX3I6CU FAX68

    I am a lower middle class. not to be proud but proud to have a job

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Proud to be earning your own way, and being a constructive, contributing member of society!!  You have more to be proud of than many scumbags that caused the Housing and Finance Disaster!

  • Brwstac

    As a middle class person, I know that has been happening for a long while now.  Before most people in the middle class had rising home equity and credit cards to mask the growing deficit in the income earning ability. The elmination of these two sources has forced people in the middle class to experience just how lousy our lots have become. And just now when we are realizing how truly awful are situations are, we are cursed with politicians who add to our burden by encouraging tax cuts the unfairly advantage wealthy citizens and corporations, in addition to hefting the more and more of the bill on us to pay for our benefits (if we have them) and the cost of educating our children.

    I think people can only be pushed so far. And I don’t think it is in the American character to say, “Hey, I am ok with being a serf.”  This country is at its best when we are centered, when it provides for all of its citizens–not just the rich ones.  This country and the world is at a point where we face many serious issues and we must find a way to meet our challenges and ensure a government and social policy that values all citizens.

    • Prufer

      Brwstac:  Right on!  Why can’t people see this — your simple analysis is very clear.

    • Brandstad

      I don’t see your perspective on this at all.  Every poor american has great wealth compared to a poor american from 10 years prior or compared to the poor around the world.  See the attached data.

      http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/07/what-is-poverty

      • Anonymous

        Let me see, because poor people have more stuff than they did about 10 years ago it’s OK. Are we to justify poverty by comparing it to other nations with GDP’s the size of Rhode Island?
        Is this your thesis?  

        • Zing

          It’s a start.

      • Anonymous

        Ah, the compassion of the right wing and their utter disregard for reality.  A few misleading numbers and noting that electronics are cheap, and poof, poverty vanishes.  Those poor people are just ungrateful whiners, yeah, that’s it.  You guys are sick.  How in the world has the Republican party laid claim to being about family values and morality?

        http://povertyandpolicy.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/how-many-poor-people-in-america-heritage-foundation-says-damn-few/

        • notafeminista

          Keep your compassion, I’ll pay my own way thanks.

          • Terry Tree Tree

            DO you?  Or are you one of the GREEDY rich, that pay LESS taxes, percentage-wise, and get the advantages of tax-payer funded infrastructure and programs?

          • notafeminista

            I guess that depends on how you define rich.  I have a job, my own place and my own car.  I am not one paycheck from so-called “disaster”.  Does that make me rich or pragmatic?

      • Anonymous

        Go to a thrift shop or a agency for the poor and pick up a microwave for 20 bucks, a coffee maker for 10 and a color TV (the Heritage Foundation would like you to believe that you can still buy a black & white) for 40 or 50, and then HOW DARE YOU COMPLAIN ABOUT ANY INEQUITIES IN OUR GOVERNMENT AT ALL!!!! 

        Boy have you been DUPED!!

      • Sasha

        The right wins by massive deception

      • Jeffhre

        Comparing a poor  American from ten years ago to the poor around the globe today, who are likely poor do to things like poor and corrupt government, famine and war, is not helpful in looking at income and wealth inequality in the US today. If the US had poor and corrupt governance, famine and domestic war there would be some basis for comparison. Well um…

        • Anonymous

          You don’t seem to understand that a poor American is better off than any Pharaoh ever was because they have a cell phone and flush toilet.  I think that’s his point.

          • Anonymous

            Oh, the poor are better off than people squatting in deserts in Africa and who lives thousands of years ago, so stop complaining about who has influence on our government and whose interests are attended to by politicians. Be glad you have a microwave oven. I get it. Sounds like a David Byrne song.

    • Anonymous

      This is why I don’t bother to compose a thoughtful comment. Brwstac expresses my thoughts perfectly, so I don’t need to. 

      • Jeffhre

        Drew4U

        Cute, I agree for the most part though taxes on corporations are generally passed on to us anyway. And without a value added tax that levels the playing field with foreign goods may just send more jobs overseas in the long run. Look it up VAT’s, and next time you will have the thoughtful comments.

        • Anonymous

          Yes, from what I understand a VAT is a way to go, but the politics in the USA won’t put that into consideration.

        • Terry Tree Tree

          Consider ALL the ramifications, and ways to get around a VAT!  It has HOLES, too big to deal with!

  • Gregg

    Sorry to go off topic but did ya’ll see the Russian Newscaster flip off Obama?

     http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/8909336/Russian-newsreader-Tatyana-Limanova-makes-insulting-gesture-at-Obama.html

    • Brandstad

      I did, but I have to wonder if a cameraman or someone else behind the camera provoked the finger.  I would have to see the one finger salute to Obama more then once to be sure it was intended for him.

      • Gregg

        Good point, I was looking for an explanation.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      WAY off topic!!  Pertinence to subject?  Is this just another manufactured video by the EXTREME right?

    • nj

      Sorry to flag you for being off topic…no, wait, i’m not sorry.

      • Zing

        So glad we have little topic cops.

    • Anonymous

      The top story on Drudge.  They definitely give their customer what they want.   To think that some self-styled informed get their “news” there.

      • Gregg

        I didn’t get it from Drudge but does it matter? I thought it noteworthy.

  • Brandstad

    Brian S. Wesbury said it best when he said:

    “Being an American is an enormous gift.  The freedoms and widespread prosperity we enjoy are  unique and desirable.  That’s why millions of people from all over the globe not only desire to live in America, but actually risk their lives to live in our land.   More importantly, Americans are not leaving America to go anywhere else in large numbers at all.  
    Despite  recent  high unemployment, no country provides the combination of  opportunities, protections, freedoms, or living standards that America does.”

    • Brwstac

      It’s not so much a gift if it comes packaged the way we are getting it now.  Communities are being gutted, citizens are being pitted against one another, and our government is not working for the majority of its citizens benefit.  That’s why so many of us feel the country is wayoff the right track. We all got to get series and start working together to build up our communities and get people back to work.  When I start seeing this happen, then I’ll concur with what you wrote earlier. 

    • Sasha

      ” …the combination of  opportunities, protections, freedoms, or living standards that America does.” 

      WHAT OPPORTUNITIES AND FREEDOMS are you talking about ???? With millions lost their jobs and homes and retirement security and basic bargaining right under constant attack …

      Americans are not yet equipped to live else where even though they are struggling here. They are stuck sadly.

  • Acwalker2

    This phenomenon happened in the black community years ago. Interesting that white people are just now beginning to realize this.

    • Zing

      What?  Blacks had high paying jobs with benefits and bought homes in the burbs until the jobs went overseas?  How many years ago?  What are you talking about?

      • Jeffhre

        Yes. And had to put up with facts of life like last hired first fired for decades, unequal schools in most of the country, higher average unemployment, and lower average wages, for most of my lifetime anyway. Success is individual, not a gift for a particular race overall, and wage, employment and education figures show the truth.

      • BlackHadJobs

        Still waiting for you to come around and look for some hungry kids.
        I could use the $100 for Christmas presents.

        Or, did you already find what you were looking for?

  • Eric

    I grew up in Des Moines, IA, and you could go through your day without seeing the effects of inequality. I have moved to Chicago, and I see it every day. I think there are a lot of people who don’t see how bad it is for a portion of society, and they don’t respond to the needs of the lowest of us, because they are completely isolated from it, and they simply can’t see it.

  • Maryhibdon

    I know my middle class neighborhood is turning poor because of the new Cash for Gold store down the street. I so wish that hadn’t popped up as I watch my home value already declining over night.

    • Anonymous

      DITTO over here!!!

    • Jeffhre

      Overnight? Home values have been declining in most of America for the past four years.

  • nj
    • UnderReported

      Only half?

  • Zing

    Well I guess those nasty, dirty old high-paying-with-benefits manufacturing jobs don’t look so bad anymore…shoulda thought about that when you bought your toyotas, hondas, and datsun-nissans back in the 80′s and 90′s when the mantra was all about becoming an information society and letting all the nasty, dirty work go to Japan, China, and wherever else.

    • Brennan511

       It’s true, but our inventive situation of community vs their simple-civil-society, are the diff between wallowing through the mud for a real estate illusion, and remaining on an [strict/segregata?] armoured island and skipping stones. Is it our products or their design?

    • BigThreeNotToBlame

      As usual, your thinking smacks of idiocy. 

      So, by your logic, it’s the consumer’s fault because the American manufacturers only cared about profit rather than quality?

      So, it’s the buyer’s fault because they wanted more value for their money, wanted the product not to break down, wanted to get better gas mileage or not be worthless at resale?  

      Where’s all of your laissez faire hyperbole now?

  • Anonymous

    Interesting how we are becoming more and more like England with classes separating and little movement between. Maybe they didn’t lose the war after all. Crafty buggers.

  • BDornbush

    How much of the change in neighborhood incomes results from changes from single to two member houshold incomes? I assume most working husbands and wives share education levels and thus income potential; double a small number is less than double a big number.

    Beth in Green Bay, WI

    • Terry Tree Tree

      ??

  • Federico in Edison, NJ

    The same exact thing is seen in state college campuses , where one tends to find wealthier people who can pay out of pocket or poorer students who qualify for larger financial aid packages. This is certainly the case at my school: William Paterson univ which is located right in between Wayne, a richer community, and Paterson, probably among the poorest cities in NJ

  • Russ

    Tom, you listed your phone number as 1.800.423.8255, and that goes into voice mail.

    • Will H

      You probably heard a recorded replay program.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Was!

  • Mwoln

    Buffalo, New York’s middle class has been struggling for decades. In the late seventies when I was a teenager, we assumed that we were middle class.  But then a history teacher informed us that we were actually “lower middle class”. So I think the middle class has been slipping away for a long time.   Having lived in the same neighborhood my entire life, I have seen the changes. 
     One thing I have noticed recently though is that because of the deterioration that the neighborhood has gone through (homeowner’s leaving for the burbs, but instead of selling their homes here they were renting), now that many of them are selling, the neighborhood is coming back.  Only now it is much more diverse, but still has its sense of community and a place to call home, not just a place to live. As the rich isolate themselves, the poor, near poor, almost middle and real middle classes will become a force of their own if we work together to help each other.

  • Concerned

    There is a two tier society that is getting created, but it won’t last forever. If you aren’t so sure, just look to history. Its just a question as to when, when will the working poor get fed up enough to make a change. Occupy wall street is just the beginning. You can write that movement off if you like, but I think that its a start. If the powers that be are going to ignore the discontent of the masses then its just a matter of time. Right now we’re seeing a popular uprising in the middle east. One could argue that it should have happend sooner, but again, its just a matter of time. I hope that sooner rather than later the momentum flows to a greater sharing of the pie, because when the pie is shared more with the masses it ends up being better for everyone.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/3ETFGMQ3B7VD4AAMILBBEVMCWE JasonA

      Those in Congress and the executive suite should read up on the history of revolutions, and how they start. As well as how they end, and what happens to those in power.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Each of those GREEDY rich elitist regiemes ‘knew they were protected and immune’ to any ‘pitiful revolution’. 
            There are many reports of ‘concentration-camp-style-prisons for the protesters and rebels. 
            Here’s hoping that the GREEDY elitists get a very unpleasant surprise!

  • Zero

    All we have to do is make the rich just a little bit richer, and then the jobs will start to trickle down.  That’s just commonsense.

    • shay

      i’m praying this is Rawlsian sarcasm

  • Will H

    There is way too much reward given to those in finance, who end up controlling the country beyond just money. The agenda of the 1%—destroying support of the middle and lower class, deemphasizing hardwork and intelligence by attacking “elitism”, looting the national treasure in the name of saving Main St, all the while controlling the national narrative by casting everyone else less fortunate as being lazying or stupid—is truly appalling. We went through the Great Depression to learn that support and growth of the middle class is key to our success. Our highest tax bracket used to be 90%, and that’s not by accident. It seems we are destined to learn the same lesson. We have forgotten that having high top brackets is NOT about taxing the rich, it’s about encouraging reinvestment of capital and growth. Being rich used to about owning large enterprises, not large bank accounts.

  • Brennan511

    My parents moved “out” west [1974] to an unplanned community [3 acres 'to build'] of mixed ethnicity where they had no intention of being friends with their next door neighbors, it’s just a micro [dys]-management 3rd world fantacy. in 1982 we moved to the house next door and the $ from the original seemed nice, but social ecology [not $] makes the community liveable, normatively that’s very representative without steady [mixed-euro/brit-celt] representation. THIS is the foundation, of a lost nation.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      ???

  • Vozekas

    The disappearing of the middle class is partly due to the increase in population, and more specifically the growth of single parents having children with an inability to take care of those children. Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray in their book “The Bell Curve” discuss the Illegitimacy Revolution that took off in 1060s and has skyrocketed ever since. Not only has the ability to support these children diminished, but the cognitive ability of the people having children has diminished.  So you have poor, less intelligent people having children who in turn grow up to be poor. They all have to live somewhere.

    • guest

      just “ick”.  shame on you.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      What about the guys helping to start these children, then running out on their children, with NO child-support, or contact.  These scum usually go on to start children elsewhere, ad infinitum! 
          I took responsibility for my children, their MOTHER left them, and me. 
         MAKE ‘fathers’ take full responsibility for their children, and it will get better!

      • GoodMenGreatResults

        No one talks about the absent or abusive women.

        Thanks for being a stand-up guy.  Had the feeling you were.

        Our culture admires victim-hood, not rewarding personal responsibility.

        It glorifies the means in order to not justify the end.

        • Terry Tree Tree

          Thank You!  Raising children was a LOT more fun, and interesting, than the strip-bars, and sports-bar life of many construction-worker and other deadbeat-dads that I have known over the years!
               Some of those guys even complain about how their progeny turn out!
              Mothers have a far harder time abandoning their children, than men with sperm-donor-mentalities!

    • UnenlightenedInability

      “The Bell Curve” book is a bunch of hooey as is standardized testing.

      Since when does poor or illegitimate mean unintelligent?  Get a clue.

  • Micheal

    This was a great program. It is empirical confirmation of what we all see around us. So, what do we want to do with it? I believe in the middle class. I value it. I want more of it.
      How do I feel about “sliding” into a lower economic class?It certailnly is not the American dream, but how does this American Dream idea wash with other economies that have so much less than we do. I used to pass this fact off as simply “they are all corrupt. or they dont want to work “I have traveled much of this world, and I do not believe this any more.
      This program is just a start toward the identification of the problem. The problem is like an elephant in the living room. We are looking at the tail and discussing aspects of the tail. Too many single parents.unequal education, taxes. 
      The problem is that we have created economic system based on debt. The Federal reserve is a private institution that controls the money supply in our country, the very life blood of our economy,The Fed is a for profit institution. The intent  of this system is to concentrate wealth into the hands of a very very few.It is working very well. This program  is our evidence.
      We do not need to have an  debt based .economy . Watch “the money masters” it shows us the history of debt based economies The intent of our  system ( a system designed by wealthy individuals for their personal profit) is to bankrupt our economy.Change this and we can change the economy , the middle class , and all manner of what we believe are inequalities in our society.
     

  • Lynne

    The Middle Class has been hurt for decades, but just remember, if people didn’t vote, then not only do they not get an opinion, but deserve what has happened, same is true for anyone who voted against their own economic interests because of wedge social issues ( same sex marriage rights, reproductive rights being eroded, etc..) If you voted for anyone who supported any law or policy that further hurt the Middle Class (taking away collective bargaining rights, laying off more private and public workers, protecting the “job creators”) and you don’t like the outcome, then this is your fault, too. Do you really care if school prayer is protected while you are jobless and your home is being foreclosed on? Is this really who we want to be as a nation? Democracy demands maintenance! Vote and get better people in Congress!

    • Terry Tree Tree

      I AGREE with you so much!!
           Single-issue Voting, is a BAD way to go!  Gathering as much info about the candidates, and voting for the best ‘lesser of evils’, is the only real option provided to most voters.  We cannot know what people will do before they get into office, only what they have done, that we can find out.

    • RChicago

      Totally agree with you. None of this happened by accident or some kind of bad magic. It was a series of choices or inaction that led to this.

      Politicians are smart and they have it down to a science – figure out which emotions and fears to play on and that will garner votes. Brilliant on their part. The two party system is also brilliant because it pits people against one another and nothing gets accomplished.

      And yes – people will cut off their nose to spite their face by voting for one issue which then leaves them jobless and on the verge of economic disaster because their fears and emotions were had more power over their voting decisions than rationality.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.klink1 Jason Klink

    Agreed Lynne. I believe this happens a lot in middle eastern conservative countries. The’ll spend a lifetime arguing over small issues and not get anything accomplished. That seems like what is starting to happen here in the U.S., and my theory is that it is caused by hard economic times and cable news shows. When everybody’s making money the little issues don’t seem as important.

  • BigMacMe

    Soon, because of the real estate bubble’s continual contraction, there will be plenty of empty ‘mc mansions’ to move into.

    Then the poor and homeless will be able to squat in upper-middle class neighborhoods.

    Problem solved.

  • Chaaszuber

    I have to caution the author and all readers against seeing neighborhoods like the one in the photograph as “archetypal.” Such car-centric, large-lot neighborhoods are the product of a brief (in terms of any big picture you choose) blip of off-the-scale prosperity and world economic domination by American post-World War II capitalist culture. It never happened before and it didn’t last long enough to qualify as an archetype except in our very privileged and myopic opinions. I completely agree the growing incomes inequality is a frightening problem that must be addressed, and I agree that the big middle of the human distribution curve should be economicallyo high enough that even the folks at the bottom can live secure, healthy lives, but I also see how the cultural forces that created those neighborhoods also led to this mess we’re facing. Let’s find a new way to live that spreads prosperity wide and demonstrates sound stewardship of our resources while building a culture that does not inevitably yield people who grow upon neighborhoods like that and see becoming a Wall Street financier as success.

  • Paulinrio1

    Tom, I have been living outside the USA for over 20 years now, but stay connected with what is happening in America, through your show. It is so hard to believe what I heard on this show. I grew up in a great neighboorhood and it is sad to think that they are disappearing.

  • Slipstream

    This one hit home for me because I grew up in the kind of area that is now idealized (altho it did not seem ideal at the time!) – a mixed light urban / suburban area, with some poor folks, a small number of rich folks, and a big majority of middle class people.  Over time people have become increasingly segregated by income – I blame these planned suburban communities, which are basically designed to keep out people who don’t meet certain income standards.

    Another personal note – talking with my cousins recently, who live in a good part of Maryland.  Their next door neighbors, a family, recently moved away.  The house stayed vacant for a while, and was unsold.  Then some renters moved in – a bunch of hearty-partying students, who threw late nite keg parties and had bikini contests and the like.  Then they were replaced by a Latino family, who quickly turned the home into a boarding house.  My cousins have teenage children, and are not happy with these developments.  It is an illustration of what your guests are discussing.

    • Latina

      What does the family being Latino have anything to do with a boarding house?

  • Zenbums

    Not considering that over 50% of so called family are single parents as compared to the 60′s when only a small portion of families were single parents completely distorts the finding of the studies discussed. Add the fact the more women are working in 2 parent families and it’s not surprise that 15% moved up out of the middle class and 15% feel below. What’s disturbing is the fact that research can be published with such a major oversight.

  • Esnyder1288

    Poverty is a complex word in America. Where else can someone have a car, a TV in every room, cell phones, and other new things and still be below the “poverty line”.

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