Monday, November 12, 2007

The ‘middle class’, what is it?

In the interests of full disclosure, statistical information in this post is from an article by Alan Reynolds in a local newspaper.

The definition of ‘middle class’ is very muddled but nevertheless politicians of all stripes use the term; it means different things to different people but has appeal to many because most voters believe they are a member of this class of income earners.

For example, Hillary Clinton’s campaign bus is called “The Middle Class Express” and she promises tax cuts to the ‘middle class’ by lowering their tax rates. Of course, lowering tax rates is exactly what President Bush did in 2003 but it is the Democrats that now want to eliminate many of these tax reductions which they proclaim are “tax cuts for the rich”.

One poll by CBS applied a definition of middle class as those earning $30,000 to $75,000. However, only 44% of those in this group describe themselves as ‘middle class’. Other polls say that earners of incomes from $30,000 to $200,000 consider they are in the ‘middle class’, and this group of wage earners comprise 75% of all families. Less than 5% of wage earners earn more than $200,000. The median household income was $48,000 in 2006 but it isn’t clear if this applies to a typical family. A “progressive think tank” says the median household income of adults in the 26 to 59 age group is about $63,000.

A Washington Post article in 2004 claimed that the percentage of households earning between $35,000 and $50,000 was decreasing (from 22% to 15% in 2003) but the same article reported that the percentage earning more than $50,000 increased from 25% to 44%. The Washington Post failed to note that the numbers in their definition of middle class decreased because the income of millions of households rose above $50,000.

Everyone can claim difficulty ‘making ends meet’ because it is true. The desire for better living conditions affects spending, we all wish we had more money; but that doesn’t mean the ‘middle class’ (whatever that is) has a special burden, it just means many of us are spending beyond our means. Politicians know that so they pander to the ‘middle class’ as a bid for more votes. This has become a part of the Democrat creed.

No comments: