5 days ago
Monday, June 18, 2012
He discussed the painfully obvious fact that our economy, which has for many, many years now been shifted to rely on spending by the middle class for goods and services for it's health; will not be able to recover as long as the middle class is being squeezed out of the earning end of the deal.
The thing I realized, too? I has been a really long time since we have had much spending money. And our income is somewhat above the middle class range. It isn't just putting kids through college that has bogged us down, the incredibly high cost of health insurance has been draining.
We don't have car payments; two of our vehicles are over 15 years old and we bought our "new" car 5 years ago. We don't own our home and the last vacation we took was in 2008. We don't have a flat screen TV or iPhones. Our biggest purchase in the past 4 years was a new mattress. I'd like to get the dental crown I broke a year or so ago replaced, but I can't afford it unless I put it on a credit card.
Economist Gary Burtless of Brookings Institution indicates that the middle class encompasses from one-half the median income to twice the median income. This would make the middle class income range $25,117 to $100,466. MIT economist Frank Levy believes that those in the middle class have enough money to afford the basic building blocks of a good life, including a house, a car and money to pay necessary bills. He suggests that families in their prime earning years are middle class if they fall between $30,000 and $90,000.
So while it may sound like I am whining - I really don't mean it that way. I just think that there are so many of us flying under the radar of the politicians and economists that are not part of the discussion. People who are educated, have worked hard, had some financial success and security and now it is gone and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight - and no plan that will change things for us any time soon.
I know we are lucky to have had those years of relative financial success. We have had some nice homes and furnished them well and reaped the rewards of their increased value. We never managed to take the kids to Hawaii, but we had some great shorter trips to Disneyland and Tahoe. If they needed braces, they had them, if we wanted to go out to dinner, we did. There was summer camp, swim lessons, roller blades and bikes. We had cars available for their use and we paid for sports and school activities, prom dresses and tux rentals.
Many of our financial stresses came from Tom pursuing his dream of a law practice - not many people can do the work they choose. And I had 16 years home with the kids - I would never have chosen to miss that.
So while the unexpected economic shut down has made things more of a challenge that we expected, we are hanging in there and looking for those in the know to set this country back on the rails. I don't want to be the generation that made it impossible for my kids to live at least as well as we have.