Conversation with the Teen:  Is the American Middle Class Dead?

You know that a concept has hit the mainstream when high school social studies teachers raise it in class.  Such was the case with the apparently imminent death of the American Middle Class, a topic that was raised by Middle’s honors history teacher the other week.  This teacher is a known and highly respected quantity since Eldest made it a point to tell Middle that he had to get this guy if at all possible since he makes it a point to riff on the subject matter with topics of modern consequence.  As he discussed the industrialization of the Far East, he shifted the topic over to the problems facing today’s American Middle Class and it was a topic that Middle brought home in a later conversation.

What Middle, and most, know is that the American Middle Class is suffering from a significant income drop over the past decade due to a true paucity of jobs.  He’s aware that many of the jobs now created are of the lower paying, benefit-free variety in the service sector so that the typical American that loses a decent survivable wage job can replace it with a lower paying job.  The first whammy is the loss of income and the second whammy is the new need to suddenly pay for previously "free" benefits that had been covered by the former employer such as health insurance.  Okay, you not only now have less but you have new and unexpected uses for that decreased income…When the news hit that millions of health insurance policies were being cancelled and the former policyholders were being forced to go to the market via the 1929 Obamacare Flivver (with a rumble seat), we had to explain that the cancellations were actually expected since the old policies were non-compliant with the new health insurance feature. Reissuing new ones with the required features, available to anyone now, would cause new policies with wholly new pricing.  Lesser income, likelihood of more variant hours worked and a new category for the money than what was faced by the parents are huge stressors.

So the middle class is under assault but like the refrain from the old Monty Python skit goes, I’m not dead yet…

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