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What is the 'middle class'?

By Ben Cerruti
web posted September 20, 2010

Why isn't there anyone in politics or the media that questions the use of the term 'middle class' as it is being applied relating to the expiration of the 'Bush tax cuts"? It appears that the 'middle class' is being defined by the income people earn in any given year. This doesn't make sense.

Is a person earning $1,000,000 a year in his twenties as rich as one earning the same amount in his/her sixties?  The person in his sixties may have had to spend many years working up from under six figure annual income to reach this income level and the person in his twenties may find that in later years income has fallen to a considerably lower level.  A poor person at a young age may become affluent with time and an affluent one may suffer financial reverses with age. There are many factors, such as age, education, marital status, number of dependents, physical capability, race, national prosperity, war or national emergency, that affects the financial status of any person at any given time during a lifetime.

It should be apparent that because of these any fair and effective redistribution of income is impossible. The common practice by those in government to use class to define who receives favors or penalties is divisive and counter productive. It pits citizen against citizen and serves to only benefit those in government utilizing these tactics for political advantage.

In the process of going about their work, those in government are prone to look out at the nations' people and classify them into groups.  The rich, the middle class, the poor, the aged, the sick, the farmers, the laborers, the executives – you get the idea.  This is not only done by those in government, but by those in the media, in organizations dealing with public issues and, in fact, by many individuals for a variety of reasons.  However, where it has a pronounced effect on every person is when that classification has an effect on him or her by a government action.  This especially in dealing with the apportionment of taxes collected.

By arbitrarily classifying me, or any other person, for the purpose of determining benefits to be received from the government coffers breeds the pitting of one class vs. another. This is regularly being done by those in government and then spreads to the media and other special interest groups.  Why do we have to be classified by government to know what our comparative status is in society?  Tell me that I am poor and I start to think I am poor even though I may not have been aware of that prior to being told.

The practice of class warfare by those in government, abetted by the media, is used to justify the distribution of revenue received in which a substantial portion is utilized for their own individual and collective self serving benefit.  The classic definitions they use for the three categories of classes they have established; rich, middle class and poor is fallacious. Their common practice is to rather conveniently alter the dividing lines to suit the issue for which they are advocates at any given point in time.

It would be more productive for government if their actions would be directed towards supporting the movement of those at the lower end of the income scale up into higher levels of income.  How obvious it should be that this result can be effected by more reliance on the overall growth of our national private sector wealth wherein there is then more to share for every citizen. Doing this rather than limiting growth by the actions of those controlling the government in the guise of "fairness".  The disingenuous use of this word is more clearly understood when one understands that in this process a substantial portion of the private sector wealth taken by those in government is dispensed to those respective special interests to which favors are owed.  This very fact should also dispel that mistaken feeling by some that government can create private sector wealth better than the private sector itself.
The obvious sometimes has to be explained.  It is rather difficult to understand why people whom one would believe are well educated, especially those in the media, would not understand some of the following truths.  People who accumulate excess income, unless they bury it or put it under their mattress, must place it back in circulation.  They do this either by putting it in the bank, purchasing assets such as real estate, stocks and bonds, or by investing in assets and personnel for their own business.  Just the fact that the excess income is in circulation allows for it's use by the rest of the private sector to promote increased business, create jobs and overall increased financial wealth.  If this excess income is confiscated through taxes it is not allowed to work to effect this increased private sector prosperity.

Again, to explain the obvious, this counter productive action by those in government is only taken to benefit their own personal position and agenda since, in factual truth, it does not provide the beneficial advantage that it professes to those in the private sector.  It is necessary to understand that the government bureaucracy does not produce any revenue, it is supported solely by the taxes it collects.  It is by it's nature inefficient and self serving since those employed in it benefit personally in income and career longevity by it's existence and growth.

With undying faith and hope we look for those leaders, new or old, that will eventually recognize these truths and arise to condemn the use of class warfare by those governing our country and in the political arena. ESR

© 2010 Ben Cerruti

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