Thursday, December 01, 2016

If You're 35 Years Into Your Career $70,000 Isn't A Great Income

This is just a blog post so I'm not going to get to deep into income distributions, etc. It isn't chicken feed. You aren't poor. There are people more poor than you. But you the point I'm trying to make is that shit is fucked up and bullshit, not just for the bottom 20% or 40% but really for the bottom 80%. The "middle class" as a concept was that you could afford a house, two cars, put 2-3 kids through college at a good state school, save some for retirement, go on a modest vacation once per year or so, afford necessary medical care, and not be 2 lost paychecks away from destitution. A decent if modest lifestyle plus a foundation of economic security. Retire in modest comfort at 65. Do close enough to the right thing and you don't have to stay up at night worrying that the banksters and the Repo Men are going to come take it all away.

And if you're earning $70K at peak earning time, it means you didn't always earn that, it means that you didn't earn that much when you were at peak necessary expenditures (kids, college for kids), it means you probably aren't looking at a cozy retirement, and it probably means you certainly don't have much of a buffer against a late life layoff.

Good liberals like to say the Right pits the poor (white) against the poor (black). Probably true! But liberals (elected ones, at least) are too often only interested in helping the "poor" or the "working poor" or whatever we're calling them that week. Those medical subsidies, tax credits and deductions, college financial aid, and what meager benefits we have all start phasing out pretty quickly once people star to "make it." It isn't just that being middle class is only aspirational for the poor, it's the being "middle class" is largely aspirational for the supposedly middle class. And, yeah, we can always point to people who are poorer and more in need, but that isn't so different from the Republican tactic of always pointing to people who are more "deserving."

Life shouldn't be so hard, either for the poor or the not so poor.