One of the issues U.S. politicians often use to pander to voters is to talk about the disappearing middle class in this country. It’s not so much that the middle class is disappearing……. it’s just getting more and more difficult to distinguish the difference between the poor the and middle class. A thriving middle class is what seems to be disappearing.
I have been aware for quite some time that a small minority controls the vast majority of the wealth in the U.S. but I’d never actually seen a visual representation. Someone recently showed me this video that gave me a whole new perspective on the degree to which the wealth distribution in this country is skewed.
What I find even more fascinating than the statistics themselves is the way some people respond to them. A common knee-jerk reaction from people with a strong sense of “fairness” is to “eat the rich”. Eliminate their tax write-off’s. Increase their taxes. Do whatever it takes to punish them for being success. Exactly who is that supposed to benefit? You cannot build a healthy middle class by simply tearing down the upper class.
Who Told You Life Was Supposed To Be Fair?
If we’re going to examine these statistics rationally, we need to throw out this notion of “fairness.” Increasing income taxes on one income class or reducing the taxes on another does nothing to shift the distribution of wealth. In fact, even if the government collected all of the money and distributed it evenly among every family in the U.S., the statistics would end up very similar to what they are today within a only a couple generations. Why is that?
Lets look at a couple different scenarios
Have you known anyone who received an unexpected cash windfall of some kind? Perhaps from a lawsuit or an inheritance? I’ve seen this happen several times with very similar results. After about 6 months, the money is gone with very little to show for it. We live in a society where most people demand instant gratification which creates habits of spending every dollar they can get their hands on as quickly as they can get it. Throwing more money at a spendthrift won’t solve their problems, they simply waste money on a higher level.
On the other side of the fence, you have people who started with nothing and built great fortunes. They lived below their means, practiced delayed gratification and invested in their education. There are people in the media and politics (most of whom are wealthy themselves) who love to demonize the rich. What they always fail to mention is the fact that some of these people sacrificed, worked extremely hard and paid the price to become successful. It rarely happens overnight.
So, What Happened To The Thriving Middle Class?
To a large extent, the thriving middle class in the U.S. was a product of the Industrial Revolution and the concept of mass production. At one time, the majority of the U.S. population either worked on a family farm or within some kind of family business.
Factory owners needed a way to entice people to leave their family businesses if they were going to build their industrial empires. A steady paycheck, benefits that were not available to self-employed people and a pension that would take care of them for the rest of their lives proved to be quite effective.
The Trap Had Been Set
Within only a couple of generations, parents began encouraging their children to get a good education and build a great career working for others. Lets face it, getting a job is much easier that building a business from the ground up right? Many employers have taken advantage of the fact that most of us were raised to think this way. Since employers usually have more job applicants than job openings, they don’t offer squat! It’s not that they can’t afford to, they just don’t want to!
WAKE UP!…….. The Industrial Age Is Over!
I have said this to people who insist on pissing and moaning that the good, high paying jobs are gone. People always seem hell bent on blaming whoever the President is at the time, but the President has almost nothing to do with it. (If you think I’m wrong about this, tell me why I’m wrong!). The fact is, spending your life working for others hoping for generous annual raises and a nice fat pension is an industrial age idea. An idea who’s time has come and gone.
We Are Now In The Information Age
You have probably heard the saying “when one door closes, another one opens” Too many people continue to bang their heads against a closed door not even realizing that they are staring right at an open door everyday! Everybody knows that money is being spent online everyday, but I don’t think many people realize how massive this marketplace is because it’s mostly an invisible economy. People are creating wealth at unprecedented rates by building their own online businesses. Embracing the information age is probably the best and possibly the ONLY hope we have of building a thriving middle class ever again.
Can The Government Really Fix The Middle Class?
The short answer is…..NO! Well….. maybe they could, but it really isn’t in their interest to do so. You see, a financially thriving society isn’t dependent on their government and the government wants you to be dependent. This is how they increase their power. They offer a little security in exchange for a little freedom.
What Do You Think?
Should the government be doing more to fix the middle class?
Or should the middle class fix their own problems in spite of the government?
Please leave your comments in the box below.