An Inside Look at the Middle-Class Squeeze
The decline of the middle class has become a focal point of this year's presidential election. Each candidate claims their plan would put an end to the middle-income slide that accelerated during the Great Recession and still shows no signs of abating.
But lost in the rhetoric about the decline of the middle class is the reality of the decline. Nearly everyone is aware that the middle class is struggling, but few understand how the struggle plays out in everyday life.
[In Pictures: 10 Signs American Families Are Falling Behind.]
According to experts, the decline is fundamentally reshaping the U.S. economy. The Great Recession has affected the way the middle class feels about higher education, government, and the future. Even their health has suffered as a result of the decline.
"Their economic future isn't very bright," says Timothy Smeeding, director of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin--Madison. "Wages and income are flat. Transportation, childcare costs, and healthcare costs are going up, and your income isn't."
Smeeding calls the current state of the middle class "the squeeze." Even people who have jobs are being forced to squeeze more and more out of their income, despite the fact that incomes aren't growing. "These people live on earnings. They're working on not great wages and their jobs are threatened," he says. "They don't see any hope in the future of things getting better."
By the numbers. Hard numbers paint a stark picture of the middle-class decline. According to an August 2012 Pew Research Center report, only half of American households are middle-income, down from 61 percent in the 1970s. In addition, median middle-class income decreased by 5 percent in the last decade, while total wealth dropped 28 percent. According to the Economic Policy Institute, households in the wealthiest 1 percent of the U.S. population now have 288 times the amount of wealth of the average middle-class American family.
The income decline has caused many people to accumulate high levels of debt. And as the cost of college increases, more people are saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in student loans after they graduate.
Only 23 percent of people were confident they had enough money to get them through retirement, according to the Pew report. It also found that fewer people believe hard work will get them ahead in life.
[Read: Where Do You Fall in the American Economic Class System?]
"You have far less disposable income and increasing levels of debt," says David Madland, director of the American Worker Project at the Center for American Progress. "You have this fundamental squeeze on most members of the middle class. It's impacting their quality of life and their outlook for the future."
Behind the numbers. These are the kind of statistics used by politicians to sell policies, but they tell little about the realities behind the numbers--or how the decline of the middle class plays out in people's everyday lives.
More and more middle-income families are turning to government programs such as food stamps, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance. According to a recent Senate Budget Committee Report, "Among the major means tested welfare programs, since 2000 Medicaid has increased from 34 million people to 54 million in 2011 and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) from 17 million to 45 million in 2011. Spending on food stamps alone is projected to reach $800 billion over the next decade."
People are also saving less. Wage increases have not kept up with increases in the cost of living, forcing people to dig deeper into their savings to make ends meet. Meanwhile, many middle-class workers who lost their jobs during the recession remain unemployed.
"The most pressing worry is the diminished economic security of middle-class families. The long-term unemployed have completely drained their savings," says Kristen Lewis, co-director of Measure of America, a project of the Social Science Research Council that explores the distribution of opportunity and well-being in the United States. "Those who are working have jobs without healthcare or sick leave. They have no retirement savings plan. There's no end in sight to that."
[Read: The Real Source of Middle-Class Money Woes.]
Lewis adds that the economic state of the middle class takes its toll on their health. A series of recent reports found that life expectancy for whites without a high school diploma--once the backbone of the middle class--has dropped faster than for other groups. The reports linked the decline in large part to the lack of access to healthcare.
Can the middle class come back? According to Lewis, current economic and political conditions won't provide the middle class with the same security it needed to rebound in the years following World War II. "In the post-war period, there were a lot of programs put in place to help people," such as education and homeownership assistance, says Lewis.
Madland says increasing the minimum wage and improving entitlement programs like Social Security are key to rebuilding the middle class. "[After the Great Depression], we made major policy changes to ensure we have a strong middle class. We let too much of it wither on the vine," he says. "We need something approaching that kind of effort."
But for Wisconsin's Smeeding, one thing has to happen before these policy changes can occur: "We have to get the economy growing again."
Listed below are several of the arguments that have been used by misguided people to try and justify illegal immigration. Next to each is the reason why each of these arguments has no merit.
1) They are an economic necessity - Not true. The idea that a bunch of desperately poor, uneducated, unskilled, illegal foreigners are an economic necessity is ludicrous. In fact, when you compare cost vs. benefit, it is obvious that they are not only NOT a necessity; they are not even an asset. Rather, they are a liability and a huge one at that. (TO SUPPORT THIS OPINION WE ONLY NEED TO LOOK AT THE DEVASTAION CAUSED BY THE MEX OCCUPATION IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY. HERE 90% OF ALL JOBS GO TO ILLEGALS USING STOLEN SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS. WELFARE FOR ILLEGALS, PRIMARILY ANCHOR BABY BREEDERS NOW EXCEEDS $600 MILLION PER YEAR, ON TOP OF WHAT THE STATE of CA PUTS OUT. THAT FIGURE IS $22 BILLION. THERE ARE OTHER COSTS. MEXICANS ARE A VIOLENT CULTURE. 95% OF ALL MURDERS IN L.A. ARE BY MEXICAN ILLEGALS. OF THE TOP 200 MOST WANTED CRIMINALS IN L.A., 183 ARE MEXICANS. MOST OF THE REST RUSSIANS. THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES PUTS OUT $10 MILLION ANNUALLY JUST FOR MEXICAN GRAFFITI ABATEMENT, AND YET THE CITY IS DRENCHED IN IT. THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR CHARACTERIZES LOS ANGELES AS THE MEXICAN GANG CAPITAL of AMERICA. ACCORDING TO CA ATTORNEY GEN KAMALA HARRIS, NEARLY HALF OF ALL MURDERS IN THE ENTIRE STATE ARE BY MEXICAN GANGS. VIVA LA RAZA?
2) They do work Americans won't do - Not true. They do work Americans won't do for $5 an hour (especially if Americans can collect welfare and unemployment forever). Of course, if you got rid of the illegals, the jobs wouldn't pay $5 an hour. The people who wanted the work done would have to pay a wage that was attractive enough to get Americans to do the work. And it might even be enough so Americans could support themselves and get off welfare and unemployment!! (THE TAX-FREE MEXICAN UNDERGROUND ECONOMY IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY ALONE IS CALCULATED TO BE MORE THAN $2 BILLION PER YEAR.)
3) They work & contribute to our society - So do I. And if I break the law and commit crimes, I can expect to pay a penalty of some kind. Anything from a small fine to the death penalty. I do NOT get rewarded. This argument makes no sense. (ILLEGALS HAVE ELECTED SO MANY HISPANICS IN CA THAT THEY NOW CONTROL THE STATE LEGISLATURE AND PASS LAW AFTER LAW BENEFITING MEXICANS ALONE. RECENTLY THEY PASSED A LAW MAKING IT ILLEGAL FOR EMPLOYERS TO USE E-VERIFY!)
4) They are just trying to make better lives - Aren't we all? The difference is that most of us understand that we don't have a right to acquire by illegal means those things that we find difficult to acquire by legal means. And we certainly don't have the right to do it in a foreign country. Mexico does not allow foreigners to enter their country illegally and break it's laws. If you believe differently, go give it a try. Call me collect from the dungeon. Let me know how it went.....(MEXICAN HOP OUR BORDERS AS LOOTERS. THEY LIE, CHEAT AND STEAL THE AMERICAN DREAM, AND THEN DEMAND THEIR “RIGHTS”, WAVE THEIR MEX FLAG IN OUR FACES, AND DEMAND WE SPEAK SPANISH TO ACCOMMODATE THEIR LA RAZA SUPREMACY).
5) It is impossible to round up and deport the illegals - We don't have to. All we have to do is remove the incentives that brought them here in the first place. No jobs. No housing. No services. No benefits. Once we remove the incentives that brought them here, they will leave on their own. (ILLEGALS COST PRIVATE HOSPITALS IN CA ALONE MORE THAN $1.3 BILLION PER YEAR FOR “FREE” MEDICAL AT EMERGENCY ROOMS)
6) It would be too expensive to round them up and deport them - See #5.
7) Immigration control is racist - This is just another play of the race card by people who have no other cards to play. Immigration control is the world-wide status quo. There is nothing racist about it. Furthermore, the USA welcomes LEGAL immigrants of all races and ethnicities from all over the world who have gone through the legal immigration process. This is not just a bad argument, it is an attempt to create hatred and division. (THERE IS NOTHING MORE RACIST THAN THE MEXICAN FASCIST PARTY of LA RAZA “THE RACE”.
8) We are a nation of immigrants - We are a nation that has, historically, allowed and even encouraged legal immigration. And we continue to do so. The issue at hand is illegal immigration, which has nothing to do with legal immigration. This argument is totally irrelevant.(MEXICO’S BIGGEST EXPORTS NEXT TO DRUGS IS POVERTY, CRIMINALS AND PREGNANT WOMEN. THEY COME TO OCCUPY. WHEN HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A MEXICAN THAT EMBRACED BEING AN “AMERICAN”??? EVEN MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA IS A MEMBER OF THE MEX FASCIST SUPREMACIST GROUP M.E.Ch.A.)
9) They are people. We must treat them humanely - Yes & yes. But lets not pretend like they are victims who were dragged here kicking and screaming against their will. Nothing could be further from the truth. They came of their own free will and for their own benefit and they broke the law to do it. People should not be rewarded for breaking laws and committing crimes. Sending them home is the right thing to do. There is nothing "draconian" about it. (MEXICO HAS REPEATEDLY BEEN CALLED ON THEIR HORRENDOUS ABUSE OF ILLEGALS THAT ENTER THEIR COUNTRY WHERE THERE ARE ! NO ! JOBS WAITING, NO “FREE” MEDICAL AT EMERGENCY ROOMS, NO “FREE” ANCHOR BABY BREEDING, NO DREAM ACTS TO ENCOURAGE MORE ILLEGALS TO VOTE, AND NO FREE EDUCATION!)
No other country on Earth allows foreigners to come in illegally, work illegally, steal jobs from it's citizens, break laws, commit crimes (serious crimes!), evade taxes, etc. etc. etc. And there are no rational reasons why we should either. There are only political reasons, and they aren't rational.
In its annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission dated February 17, 2011, Chipotle Mexican Grill revealed that it fired approximately 450 workers at 50 of its restaurants in Minnesota last year as the result of an audit by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
During the past ten years 84 California hospitals have declared bankruptcy and closed their Emergency Rooms forever. Financially crippled by legislative and judicial mandates to treat illegal aliens have bankrupted hospitals! In 2010, in Los Angeles County alone, over 2 million illegal aliens recorded visits to county emergency rooms for both routine and emergency care. Per official figures, the cost is $1,000 dollars for every taxpayer in Los Angeles County.
A GLIMPSE OF YOUR HEALTHCARE DOLLAR AT WORK EXPANDING THE MEXICAN WELFARE STATE:
AN AMERICAN SEES & SPEAKS -- Illegals and the MELTDOWN OF OUR HEALTHCARE SYSTEMS ACROSS THE COUNTRY -- The Ever Expanding Mexican Welfare System
WHY WE ARE IN SUCH A MONEY SQUEEZE
Florida ER doctor's notes
Having spent three weeks in a hospital in Naples, Florida with my wife I couldnt help noticing what was going on in the hospital and I had a lot of time to talk to the doctors and nurses about what I had observed. Below is a commentary from an ER Doctor. Do you think this might be a big reason our health care system and our social security system are so screwed up? Do you think this might be a big reason our taxes keep going up? Who do you think these people are going to vote for?
From a Florida ER doctor:
"I live and work in a state overrun with illegals. They make more money having kids than we earn working full-time. Today I had a 25-year old with 8 kids - thats right 8; all illegal anchor babies and she had the nicest nails, cell phone, hand bag, clothing, etc. She makes about $1,500 monthly for each; you do the math. I used to say, We are the dumbest nation on earth. Now I must say and sadly admit: WE are the dumbest people on earth (that includes ME) for we elected the idiot idealogues who have passed the bills that allow this. Sorry, but we need a revolution. Vote them all out in 2010. "
FIFTEEN THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT LA RAZA “THE RACE”
by Michelle Malkin
Here are 15 things you should know about "The Race":
15. "The Race" supports driver's licenses for illegal aliens.
12. "The Race" opposes a secure fence on the southern border.
8. "The Race" bitterly protested common-sense voter ID provisions as an "absolute disgrace."
7. "The Race" has consistently opposed post-9/11 national security measures at every turn.
The fringe is the center. The center is the fringe. Viva La Raza?