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February 2nd, 2010
07:00 PM ET

How has definition of 'middle class American' changed?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The middle class in this country isn't what it used to be.

Since the end of World War II, middle class America has always meant a certain kind of security. If you got a good education and worked hard, there was the promise of success - being able to provide for your family, buy a home, educate your children; and enjoy a comfortable retirement. There was also the belief that each new generation would have it better than their parents' generation did.

Well - that's not the case anymore... and it might never be again.

Since the start of the economic downturn, it's estimated that more than seven million Americans have lost their jobs - and a lot of those jobs went overseas never to return.

The national unemployment rate is 10-percent, but jumps to a whopping 17-percent when you include those who are underemployed. The nation's jobless rate is expected to remain higher than normal for a long time.

As for the great American dream of owning a home... in the wake of the housing crisis, More than two million families have lost their homes to foreclosure in the past few years.

Consumer spending is down; and the new reality might be that it stays that way. Americans are paying more and more for the basics - food, health care and education. It's becoming increasingly difficult for many who used to consider themselves "middle class" just to make ends meet.

Here’s my question to you: How has the definition of "middle class American" changed?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Chad from California writes:
The middle class has turned into the "peasant class." We have been taken over by a few wealthy people who control our politicians and government. We have become an aristocracy. Except the ones in control are not royalty, they are businessmen hiding behind a cloak of deception that is Corporate America.

Ralph from Chicago writes:
We only have two classes in America: the ones who do not know how many homes they own, like John McCain, and the ones who are raises by a single parent, like President Obama. How many members of Congress are millionaires? A lot, but they feel our pain? Right.

Bernie from Massachusetts writes:
There is no 'middle class'. It’s vanished just like the label 'moderate'.

Paul writes:
The biggest change I have seen is that it now takes both the husband and wife to achieve the land of middle class. The government has made it too hard for most to achieve it without two incomes.

Maria writes:
The definition of middle class is choosing between whether to feed your family or make your house payment, praying that you don’t get sick (because you have no insurance), and hoping to find a job after being laid off for months on end. Honestly there is no middle class anymore.

Matt from Marshfield, Massachusetts writes:
It depends on where you live. Why doesn't the federal government take that into account with regards to taxes? If you live in the Northeast, or in Coastal California, you tend to have a much higher cost of living than most parts of the country, which leads to less discretionary income. $100,000 in New York City is not much, $100,000 in Indianapolis is a lot.

John writes:
The definition of the middle class hasn’t changed. They are just being eliminated.


Filed under: United States
soundoff (160 Responses)
  1. Mark, Bradenton,FL

    Congress has declared war on the middle class and eradicated it for good. Whatever is left is poor, no healthcare, unemployed or underpaid.
    Welcome to Latin America.

    February 2, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
  2. Raul DJ

    I dont think it has changed at all. We still bear the brunt of all of the taxing, spending and every other issue that comes up in American government spending, welfare, the cost of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, police brutality, old judges, the Republicans, and Fox news!

    February 2, 2010 at 2:43 pm |
  3. Joanne B

    Middle class is disappearing and therefore there will be no classification. Top 1% pay 50% of taxes, top 10% pay 70% of taxes and the bottom 50% pay zero taxes; (last week I heard that 60% don't pay taxes but not sure if accurate). just like some countries overseas that are now heading to bannna republic status ie credit rating in jeopardy, etc. inc the UK.
    Joanne
    Mn

    February 2, 2010 at 2:49 pm |
  4. Craig C

    "Middle Class" these days is more of a sound bite for politicians than a group of people who should be able to expect more support. The Democrats and Obama make all kinds of statements about how they are going to help middle class Americans but the net result will still be pretty much the same – zip, zilch, nadia and "Please remember to vote for me in November!"! Any tax cuts Obama delivers to us will be more than offset by the costs of his "social engineering" programs. More expense due to "Cap and Trade", no financial relief from "health care reform" and a continued destruction of the jobs we need by his obsession with making every job in sight a government job. Entrepreneurs beware!

    Craig C
    Port Saint Lucie, FL

    February 2, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
  5. David in Raleigh, NC

    The definition of middle class continues to go down in earnings as Obama is looking for more people to tax.

    February 2, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
  6. Bobby Singleton

    Actually, the definition of "middle class American" hasn't changed. It's just been adjusted for inflation using a logarithmic basis. See, every ten years it takes a hundred times more to qualify as "middle class."

    February 2, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
  7. Tom in Desoto, Tx

    Middle class used to refer to people who, for the most part, owned a home, had children, and had a car. Middle class is gettng to a point where if you have all your worldly contents in a shopping cart you'll be middle class, that is as long as you count the cart as a vehicle.

    February 2, 2010 at 2:53 pm |
  8. Rick McDaniel

    The middle class, is rapidly becoming a myth. There is only the poor and the poorer, today.

    The main difference between them, is that the poor don't have children they can't provide for, while the poorer have lots of children they can't provide for.

    More and more of the "middle class" have gone by the wayside, as they cannot afford, any longer, to send their kids to higher education. That is why student loans have become the rule, rather than the exception.

    February 2, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
  9. Bud Rupert, Reston, VA

    The middle class has broadened over the decades Jack. But the problem is that for the last 10-15 years incomes have stagnated while prices continue to rise across the board.

    Union employees have probably faired better but, by and large, people that use to count on getting a 5-10% boost in salary every year to keep up with inflation have been hosed.

    February 2, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
  10. Mark

    Middle Class American just means that you are in between the poor and the rich, neither of whom do their fair share....so those of us in the middle get "the squeeze".

    Mark
    Oklahoma City

    February 2, 2010 at 2:58 pm |
  11. Barbara in NC

    Does anyone realize the retirements for ex-congress is a part of the budget? And they get yearly increases (unlike social security).

    THAT is not middle-class - it's upper crust.

    February 2, 2010 at 3:03 pm |
  12. Jane (Minnesota)

    Yes it has......
    "a smaller and smaller segment of the US population as a result of the income redistribution of wealth during the Goerge W Bush Administartion and because the policiticans most often dump their budget fixes on this group."

    February 2, 2010 at 3:07 pm |
  13. Harold, in ANCHORAGE, AK

    Middle class = endangered species!

    February 2, 2010 at 3:09 pm |
  14. marlene

    There is no "middle class" anymore, only the haves and have nots! The "haves" want it all and the "have nots" don't have the political clout to make a difference. The fact that the media sides with the "haves" says it all. Marlene in Mich

    February 2, 2010 at 3:10 pm |
  15. Jan, West Palm Beach

    Put it this way Jack. The Salvation Army is the new Neiman Marcus.

    February 2, 2010 at 3:12 pm |
  16. Paul Round Rock, Texas

    It has changed to mean three types of middle class. The lower middle class that are really poor or just above and do not want to be thought of as close to the bottom. The middle middle class that most of us are and work hard to stay there and it is not easy anymore to do so. Then the upper middle class that think of themselves as rich but really are not. They maybe very well off for now but if a job is lost or they get into an upside down mortage loan then they are at least back with us the middle middle class that is rapidly lossing ground daily.

    February 2, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
  17. Michael Alexandria, VA

    It now includes both the blue collar and the low-end rich, so it really means nothing anymore – although it means more now with factories closing and all but the richest losing their jobs. It seems the entire "middle class" as it is misdefined is in the same boat (where before it was a white collar phenomenon).

    February 2, 2010 at 3:14 pm |
  18. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    You should ask this question of the three or four people in the country still remaining in the middle class.

    February 2, 2010 at 3:23 pm |
  19. Bob Louisville

    Not too many years ago the middle class was made up of those who who earned enough to enjoy a relatively comfortable life style.

    Today it is made up of those who are lucky enough to have a job.

    February 2, 2010 at 3:24 pm |
  20. Penny, Bellvue WA

    The definition has been so broadened that EVERYONE thinks they're middle class, from the guy making $15,000 a year to the guy making $1 million a year. No one short of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet considers themselves "rich," and no one who isn't receiving food stamps actually considers themselves to be "poor."

    That's why the guy making a million dollars is against higher taxes on people in his income bracket, because he considers himself to be just a Regular Joe just scraping by, and the guy making $15,000 is against spending money on the poor because it's for "those other people," and not for him.

    That's why the country leans Republican.

    February 2, 2010 at 3:32 pm |
  21. Joe R - Houston

    "Middle class" used to mean that the typical single family breadwinner could provide enough for a family of 4 or 5.

    Since then, the FED has inflated the currency and devalued the dollar to the point where it takes both parents to provide the same level of sustenance.

    In addition to that, whereas in my preteen and teen years I used to be able to contribute to my well being by mowing lawns for a quarter or selling newspapers for a profit of $0.02 each... all that's illegal now unless you report your crime to the IRS.

    In my 70 years, the biggest difference I've noticed is more government control, less freedom and less opportunity. The trend is more of the same.

    February 2, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
  22. kevin lately

    There is no Middle Class in America.
    If you think, or call yourself Middle Class? you are Mistaken.
    In the USA we have: The Super Elite – The Upper Class – ( ?) – Lower Class- Working Poor- Poor. The old middle Class left along with all our manufacturing jobs.

    February 2, 2010 at 3:45 pm |
  23. Steve in Florida

    I would say it's changed to something along the lines of "Corporate Financial Serf " or maybe something more like "Corporate
    Profit Generator."

    February 2, 2010 at 3:45 pm |
  24. J Atlanta

    Middle class is moving toward conditions of the middle ages where the top one percent controls the financial well being of everybody else. And you saw how well THAT worked out in the middle ages.

    February 2, 2010 at 3:46 pm |
  25. Ray in Nashville

    It sure has, Jack. For the last 30 years, we've been known as targets!

    February 2, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
  26. J.L from NJ

    They are almost extinct .

    February 2, 2010 at 3:56 pm |
  27. A. in DFW Texas

    Endangered Species.

    February 2, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  28. Fred R DeLeon SR

    If I were you....I wouldn't worry at all. Pretty soon we will all be equal.
    Equal but not the same.....Just a thought comrade.

    Fred

    Indianapolis

    February 2, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
  29. Lou from North Carolina

    I think the middle class was a nomenclature for people who worked hard for their money and it probably began with the car industry and thanks to Daddy Bush and Clinton, that industry has left probably forever thanks forever to those two. It might be more appropriate now to call middle class middle income because that is what it is.

    February 2, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
  30. Willow, Iowa

    I grew up in a very middle class home in the 50s and 60s. "Leave it to Beaver" home. My parents had a savings account, one nice car (financed) and an old clunker for my Mom and brother to share. My Mom didn't work, stayed home and took care of everything. We got new school clothes every year, I played the flute in the band, my brother played football and basketball in school every year. We took a vacation every year. had health insurance and life insurance.

    Nowadays middle class means, in debt, has a house that is losing value, difficulty saving any money, paying for medical copays and deductibles, staying home on vacation, both parents working, children running around town or home with their own key. Or Dad off work, grouchy and complaining, while Mom works like a dog to keep the bills paid.

    February 2, 2010 at 3:59 pm |
  31. frank in Valparaiso

    It depends where you live. When I lived i So Calif, where houses were going for a quarter mil, and an apartment in a gang ridden neighborhood would be $1k a month, middle class was obviously a lot more expensive than anywhere else. $80,000 a year would probably barely do it. With gas, licensing costs on cars, insurance, and housing. But, you weren't paying the $600 a month at a minimum you might have paid in upstate NY to keep your house barely warm in the few feet of snow outside. There are trade offs. Guess Kennedy was right, $100k is the new middle class. Good luck finding a job that pays anywhere near that.

    Don't see a lot of young people with boats, new cars every 2 years, kids in college like we did in the 50s. Jobs have defininetley NOT kept up with costs. Heck, I remember when some people could own their own Cessnas and they weren't doctors. Now you're lucky to pay your basic bills.

    February 2, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
  32. Tina Tx

    Heck yea. If you are not making more than 75,000 a year you are down with the poor folks. The cost of living eats up what you make.

    February 2, 2010 at 4:08 pm |
  33. Peg from NY

    "Middle Class Americans" are now living paycheck to paycheck, few, if any, have had cost of living raises to atleast defray heathcare costs. Once we had a strong middle class~now the middle class is really the working class at best. Very sad. We need no more speeches and bad budgets; we need people who genuinely care and see that this has to be rectified. New cars, dining out, going to the movies, ordering a pizza, etc are all luxuries few can ill afford. Why such disparity? It becomes sadder each day.

    February 2, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
  34. T.Thomas in Abilene Tx.

    More and more," middle class" is starting to mean service industry folks who tend to the needs and wants of the wealthy.Thanks to the Supreme Court's recent nod to corporations = individuals and the continued hemorrhaging of jobs to China, we will have little or no middle class within 20 years(or less). Can you say Third World nation?,

    February 2, 2010 at 4:12 pm |
  35. Dave, Brooklyn, NY

    I always thought it meant that you were not wealthy but had a comfortable to very comfortable standard of living. I’ve always thought of myself as middle class, but since Reagan screwed up the economy with his harebrained, cockamamie Voodoo/trickle-down/Reaganomics, I’d have to classify myself as poor or at least lower middle class using the same standards. I just hope Obama’s “stimulus” and bailout policies don’t drive me any lower. He’s already done enough damage by breaking all of his promises.

    February 2, 2010 at 4:13 pm |
  36. Eugene Northern Cal

    Jack, middle class america has been outsourced to China and India and doesn't live here anymore. Those left are being stripped of their constitutional rights and taxed into oblivion. We must kick all the incumbant bums out, who caused this problem come November and turn this situatution around, while we still can.

    February 2, 2010 at 4:13 pm |
  37. Albert K, Los Angeles

    Jack, ”middle class America” is an archaic term describing middle income workers of the “American economy" which existed before global corporations created the “global economy” to escape New Deal regulations and labor union standards of pay while exploiting cheap foreign labor. Today, our middle class is defined by the quality of foreign made shoes, appliances and cars they are making payments on to credit corporations owned by global investers.

    February 2, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
  38. Paul New Port Richey, Fl

    The bullseye is always in the middle.

    February 2, 2010 at 4:28 pm |
  39. Ed from California

    It's changed in your title of, "middle class America" from above. We in the middle class used to be called the, "working middle class". Now were called the, "unemployed middle class". As a happily retired (4yrs, now) 57 y/o. It sickens me to see so many people out of work. It sickens me to walk into "any" store and find nothing that was made in America. It sickens me that we are now at each others throat's over petty nonsense. We blame the democrats... we blame the republicans. We are the blame for this mess. We (royal we) voted for these nuts and their ideas. So, how's that "Trickle down" working for you? Turn off the TV, turn off the Radio, and start thinking for yourself. Before China forecloses on us and we become a dirt lot.

    February 2, 2010 at 4:28 pm |
  40. Mr. D

    It has become an endangered species. We see it slipping away and are starting to feel helpless as it erodes. We are becoming more like the rest of the world-few at the high end, vast majority at the low end. It is getting obvious that the bar for defining "middle class" in this country is lowering.

    February 2, 2010 at 4:30 pm |
  41. Bizz, Quarryville, Pennsylvania

    Jack, I think it has changed to the point that the middle classes is starting to go backwards and live like their grandparents had to live. Wages are being lowered, Health Care does automatically come with a job anymore. Wood and coal stoves are becoming more popular. Here in Pennsylvania the electric bills have gone up 30% and more since they took off the cap. There are more creeks and streams that have paddle wheels in them with generators connected. People are using layaway and stores like my parents did and I am 65 years old. Credit cards are being used less be cause of high interest rates that people no longer can afford. It seems like everything came to a halt and suddenly we woke up back in the past. The only difference is there are no Dr. Visits at home or a milkman delivering milk to your home.

    February 2, 2010 at 4:31 pm |
  42. Hugo Kijne

    Simple Jack, what used to be working class is now called middle class, and you don't have to be a sociologist to see that. This verbal 'downgrading' of the middle class (or 'upgrading' of the working class) serves the purpose of camouflaging that American workers have gone backwards economically over the last 30+ years or so.

    Hoboken, NJ

    February 2, 2010 at 4:31 pm |
  43. Maureen

    Yes, the definition has changed: "middle class" is now an anachronism; there is no middle class in the U.S.A. now.....you're either rich or you're not.

    February 2, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
  44. Denny from Tacoma, WA

    Judging from the current political arena, the middle class has lost its effectiveness as a positive influence on our legistative branch in relation to health care reform and other social issues.

    February 2, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
  45. Jim in Alabama

    What middle class Jack? The middle class in America is disappearing so fast it's just a memory.. After 8 long years of Republican's favoring the wealthy and the giant corporations with allowing outsourcing of jobs and wealthy tax breaks, we have little left of the middle class. As they said in the movie, It's a great life, "they're the ones doing the working and dying and paying taxes" in this country and when they're gone, what are the politicians going to do t hen? They haven't even bothered to think of that have they?

    February 2, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
  46. Maria

    For me, I believe there is a shrinking middle-class(whatever that was) and a corresponding increase in the lower-class(whatever that means). The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the middle class is dwindling away.

    I used to be considered lower-upper class if measured by income. Now in a good month I have $5 left w/two weeks to go and two dogs to feed. Try making that stretch!

    Maria

    Brunswick,MD

    February 2, 2010 at 4:48 pm |
  47. Loren, Chicago

    Middle class has become lower class. The idea of working hard, living within your means is seen as something that only unimaginative and unworthly people do and is nothing to aspire to or protect. Is that a surprise given how we're bombarded by images of luxury and lavish uncontrolled spending of our self-anointed elites? Unfortunattely, those self-anointed elites include those in Congress and their disregard for the middle class is actually driving more and more of those people to poverty. Even Lyndon Johnson, one of the most partisan of Democrats, would be appalled at how his party has treated the middle class.

    February 2, 2010 at 4:48 pm |
  48. Natalie - Dayton Ohio

    Its come to mean anyone and everyone who wakes up each morning in America and realizes he/she is a spitball away from homlessness.

    February 2, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
  49. Darren

    Not so bad yet but of the Health Care proposal passes as is and taxes the ;Cadillac Plans; instead of taxing teh rich, that chasm will widen even further.

    February 2, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
  50. Matt, Marshfield, MA

    It depends on where you live. Why doesn't the federal government take that into account with regards to taxes? If you live in the Northeast, or in Coastal California, you tend to have a much higher cost of living than most portions of the country, which leads to less discretionary income. $100,000 in New York City is not much, $100,000 in Indianapolis is a lot.

    February 2, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
  51. A. Smith, Oregon

    Jack, how has the middle class changed? It disappeared and LOWER CLASS has swollen. The dollar has dropped 30% in value, 401K's have lost 1/3 to 1/2 of their pre-Bush-Cheney worth, and Trillions of dollars were drained from the middle class across America into a select few greedy hands.

    February 2, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
  52. Paul Carey

    The biggest change I have seen sense my dad was the sole supporter. Is that it takes both the husband and wife to achieve the land of middle class. The government has made it too hard for most to achieve it with out two incomes.
    If the government reduces it size and control over the tax paying citizens. We can achieve a better life quicker and easier. This would be best for all now and into our future.

    February 2, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
  53. knoxkp

    There are far fewer of them and you need at least 2 incomes to qualify. Also you'd better be able to dance "the middle class squeeze" to tunes played by greedy corporations. Oh... and their opinions don't hold as much sway as those of uninformed people who scream loudly about non-existant threats like death panels and socialist takeover of government.

    February 2, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
  54. george

    THe lower middle class has grown larger, and the upper middle class are next...

    February 2, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
  55. Trueman

    According to the GOP, you're now in the middle class if you personally make over $200k. Nice!
    Since was middle class before, that must mean I get a $140k raise to keep me above the revised poverty line! Thanks GOP, you've got my vote! Shame on you Obama, raising my taxes after my big new raise.

    February 2, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
  56. Joey from Ellenton, Fla

    In my lifetime (the last 40-50 years) the biggest change is that the American middle-class is no longer as white as is was.

    February 2, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  57. Wisconsin Don

    The rich will always be rich.
    The poor will always be poor. (For many of them, what do they care as long as the govenment continues to give them "free" money and assistance without having to pay it back or heaven forbid work for it)
    The middle class is the big loser, it's our ever increasing tax burden that is being used for the subsidies and the government "give away" programs. These Obama "share the wealth" ideas are by attrition eliminating the middle class. The middle class is becoming the new poor.

    Wisconsin Don

    Racine Wi

    February 2, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  58. Alex in Seattle

    Let's call it the struggling middle class. When health care premiums can double in 10 years because the health insurance companies can charge what they want we have a growing problem. Fuel and energy costs continue to rise as oil companies reap record profits. The corporations have destroyed the American middle class to increase the wealth of a few.

    February 2, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  59. Laura

    "Middle class American"s were doomed for failure given the complacency in your definition of them. A "middle class American" now files for bankruptcy, accepts unemployment from the government, is mired in college debt, and takes any job he/she can get. She/he now dreams of one day being able to get by on his/her own again.
    Laura

    February 2, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  60. bill lewis

    there is no middle class anymore. your either rich or poor, just the way washington wants it.

    February 2, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  61. Brian Smith PhD

    Middle what? Never heard of it........

    February 2, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  62. Jan, West Palm Beach

    Put it this way Jack. Here in West Palm Beach, The Salvation Army is
    the new Neiman Marcus.

    Jan

    February 2, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  63. Terry, Chandler AZ

    From the implied definition of 'middle class' it would apperar as though the 'middle class' is shrinking with most of those leaving the 'middle class' joining the ranks of the poor. Some of us have worked hard, purchased homes that we could afford while paying off our homes several years early. Some of have continued to pay off our credit card balances each month. Some of us have a savings account and a well managed 401k. Some of us will never grow beyond the 'middle class' nor join the ranks of the poor. Its called common sense Jack.

    February 2, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  64. David J.

    Middle Class?? What middle class.? Big business and large corporations have been pushing the middle class out for years. Now the republicans in congress are trying to finish us off by blocking any meaningful legislation that is designed to help US. The people of this country need to become aware and become mobile. Thanks for keeping the important issues front and center Jack.

    February 2, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  65. Kevin in CA

    The term "middle class American" used to be synonymous with improved living standards and stability. Those traits are gone ... the middle class has largely been eliminated – in short – the neocon's won.

    February 2, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  66. Dave , Munhall , Pa.

    The middle class is just a myth now. What we have now is the wealthy and the working poor,the cast system of days of yore. Shipped oversea's for higher profit and even cheaper labor are decent wages, job security, pension plans, a worry free retirement , your children's college education , the American dream and not having to worry about what would happen to your family if you got sick or passed away. The middle class is working untill you die and having enough to bury yourself and not leaving your children better off than when you started this damn experiment called life. And the powers that be Don't intend to let it come back EVER !!!!!!!!

    February 2, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
  67. Karen - Missouri

    Middle class is a group destroyed by years of Republican ruling class

    February 2, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
  68. Kyle, Irvine, CA

    Jack,
    Most Americans believe they will have success and happiness in life for that reason alone. But the freedoms of America gives it's citizens the right to "pursuit" happiness. It is not a guarantee! Years back it was common to have a 40 year career in one industry, a nice home, family, and a nice pension with Social Security when you reach the age of 62.

    But the times have changed. These last few years have proven to us that nothing is safe. We are going to have to wait until our economy strengthens before we can go back to the way we used to live.

    February 2, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
  69. Melissa

    Middle class America is now "barely above the poverty line America but only if you're lucky" because people keep glorifying the thieving companies.

    February 2, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  70. Linda in Arizona

    What "middle class"?

    February 2, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  71. Larry in California

    It's becoming a lot less family-oriented. It includes more single, young professional/managerial types living in urban rental units. They either get promoted out of the middle class or, at least, into its upper echelons or they start a family and slide slowly into the great, growing underclass. One of the consequences of globalization is that all nations seem to migrating towards the same 'banana republic' profile, a mass of underpaid workers under the thumb of over-compensated and unaccountable plutocrats. With the demise of the middle class will come the end of democracy as we know it.

    February 2, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  72. Paulette in Dallas,PA

    Before this Great Recession people had a home to go to where they could relax with their family. They usually had two cars in the driveway,all the kids had their own room with TV and most phones too. These kids were well clothed and there was always lots of food and snacks in the fridge and kitchen. It would take two paychecks to live this comfy livestyle but that was no problem. Both Mom and Dad had jobs – which included family health insurance and life policies on the employed parent. Holidays were joyous with many presents and summertime always meant the family vacation. If the kids wanted to,of course there would be a college education. Fast forward to today. These same once secure families are lucky if they are living with extended family and have food to eat. Forget the fancy designer clothes. Many wear hand me downs or go to the Salvation Army for their duds. College is out of the question because there is no loan money available and parents can barely afford to stay alive,let alone promise a better future for the kids. Some are so unlucky that they are homeless and if possible,eating at soup kitchens. There is no middle class now Jack,only the haves and the have nots.

    February 2, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  73. Arlene, Illinois

    Middle class is the guy next door who has more than me.

    February 2, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  74. Stan Ward

    There is no longer a true middle class in America. The divide has never been greater. This is evident here in Europe as well. Just look around- or better call about a computer problem. The "middle class" will answer from India. Twenty- per cent of college grads in U.S. cannot find jobs. The others return to their native country. This"brain-drain" does not portend well for a future middle class here. Was a time when High School completion garnered a middle class job. Sad.

    Stan in Hungary.

    February 2, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
  75. Karen, Idaho Falls

    In my world, there is no middle class–only the very rich, the rich, the poor, and the very poor. Most of us are hanging on to being "poor" by our fingernails and hoping that we won't join the ever grown "very poor" class. Somewhere along the line, "middle class" disappeared.

    February 2, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
  76. Ann from Hampton, New Jersey

    We are more towards the end of the spectre now. Too many of us are losing their homes and employment and still the government continues to spend, spend, spend instead of putting it into small business and tax relief for the heavily burdened. I don't believe there will ever be a middle class as we know it. Thank you, Congress.

    February 2, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  77. Dean in Pa

    Jack,
    The second job in my life time I started in 1981, I just took early retirement, Dec 31,2009, because my job was moving south. Since that time (1981 to 2009) I have given back – vacation days (8 per year to be exact), close to $5.00 per hour, vacation and Christmas bonuses, healthcare – co-pays and prescription drugs, besides loss of good working conditions. When I decided to retire, my pension was reduced by 11% because I am 11 months under the age of 60. Also my dental and eye care were taken away and I most pay $320 per month for a limited healthcare package.
    All this has happened because first in 1988 the company I worked for was purchased by a French co. Then in 2001 this company and the French co. were bought by a Swedish co.
    These foreign companies have no clue about the North American way of life. They are leading us to Socialism.
    Unfortunately this is where the American middle class is headed. When our country is lead by foreigners, we will become them!!!
    The companies I am talking about are:
    (1) An American Icon "Mack Trucks, Inc.
    (2) A French Icon "Renault Industries"
    (3) A Swedish Icon "Volvo Trucks"

    If foreigners keep ruining our industries, as above, there will be no middle class. This has occurred under 2 Republican, 1 Democrat and one year of a second Democrat.

    God bless the USA

    February 2, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  78. George, Montrose,PA

    Jack, I believe that the middle class is the backbone and the balance that holds our democracy together and strong. I also believe that it has slowly been dwindling for quite some some, and like a snowball rolling down a hill its movement is getting bigger and faster all the time. It's scarey to think of the consequences. Time to bone up as a nation. No one is really better than anyone else. The rich are only so because of the workers they have hired, the workers should be somewhat grateful to have good work, and we should all remain compassionate to the less fortunate.

    February 2, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
  79. Pamela Thompson

    In this stage of the game it looks as if the rich who push the financial buttons of our country get richer while the hardest working americans lose their jobs or have their income reduced to poverty level. The middle class is becoming a thing of the past.

    February 2, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
  80. Lauren D - Columbus, Ohio

    I'm not sure if the definition has changed but there seems to be less and less authentic middle class Americans. I grew up in the middle class and the life my husband and I lead now is not it. We live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to make ends meet. This is true of practically everyone else we know. My parents never worried about money or had any debts, not even car payments. They lived a low key, comfortable life within their means. It makes me wonder if we are doing something wrong or are things really just that more expensive?

    February 2, 2010 at 5:53 pm |
  81. Joseph Nyame

    The middle class is what you have today because who knows what tommorrow brings
    Joseph Nyame
    Minnesota
    St Paul

    February 2, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
  82. Mike Bowers (Clinton, SC)

    I think the term is non-existent. I think it's just upper-lower class at this point.

    February 2, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
  83. brian

    As a 28 year old, college educated male who grew up in a middle class suburban home, the concept of middle class was essentially what I strived to achieve.

    At this point I am 5 years out of college, and have worked for a large company for 4 years. Since recieving one small promotion 3 years ago I have since seen my wages cut twice, and the cost of my benefits increase.

    Over the last year I have found it increasingly difficult to make ends meet, and this week I finally gave in and started looking for a 2nd job on the nights and weekends.

    This is not what I envisioned for myself at this point in life, and I am middle class my perception of it has changed 10 fold.

    February 2, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
  84. David in San Diego

    The definition has not changed–the associated characteristics have, and the number of people "in" that group may be shrinking after decades of growth,

    February 2, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
  85. Paul McKinney, Texas

    I think it is defined that same way as it always was but fewer people will ever achieve it on their own. It will take 2 people to make the middle class income of one. More Americans will be forced to succumb to having the government pay their way and that is a vicious cycle when it repeats generation after generation. Entitlement from the government is sweeping the nation and sadly is becoming the new norm thanks to over population, increased imports and decreased American production..

    February 2, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  86. Ronald Holst

    That Depends On who You ask . If you ask The wealthy they will say little or no change , But if you ask the man and family that have lost there home and are living in the street I bet you will get a different answer .
    Ron
    San Antonio . TX

    February 2, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  87. Terry

    America’s self-indulgence for titles, materialism and power, has changed the definition of “middle class.” As a direct result of corrupt politicians and new laws for the wealthy, when one speak of the middle class today, they are referring to people in the salary range of 600 Thousand to 4 million.

    Terry
    Enterprise AL.

    February 2, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  88. Jan - Lancaster, PA

    We aren't the "middle class" anymore. We are the world's benefactors. We are the one's who have been rowing the boat & didn't have time to rock it. Well, alot of us are out of work now. The financial institutions lost our retirements, the government the last decade enabled this disaster, they engineered the system to make it more profitable for our industry to leave the country , etc., etc.
    We are just the ones left to be manipulated to vote for one of two parties that either can't govern when in power or disinclined to govern because they are the party of the lazy & puppets of big industry.

    February 2, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  89. JIM El Paso Tx

    This is easy Jack....the middle class has been obliterated. There's haves and have nots now.

    February 2, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  90. Layne Alleman

    Jack, For me, at my age(59), the word retirement seems like a cruel joke. The "nest-egg" is gone, and unless I hit the lottery(ya right), or start a ponsi scheme, I'll probably wind up greeting you with a "HI", and a shopping cart in my "Golden Years". I feel a lot more sorry for those coming behind me. If things don't change DRASTICALLY for the better soon, they will be the ones living in a two class system, and THAT won't last for long. Layne A. Antioch, Il.

    February 2, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  91. Ralph Spyer chicago Il

    We only have two classes in America the ones that do not know how many homes they own like John Mc Cain and the ones that are raise by a single parent like President Obma. How many senators are millionaires ? One Hundred but they feel our pain ??? right

    February 2, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
  92. julia

    what middle class? What's that old saying – "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer"?

    February 2, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  93. Don (Ottawa)

    The middle class is an outdated concept. It is now a two class system of previliged and underpreviliged (or ruling class and serving class). We are all servants of corporate America and our quality of life depends on how the CEOs want to spent their corporate money on employee benefits. The lid on the coffin of the middle class was closed by the Supreme Court when it ruled that corporatation have the rights of individuals. Sorry Jack, but we will never again experience the American dream that our fathers talked about.

    February 2, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  94. Michael & Diane M Phoenix AZ

    Middle class? What middle class? There are the so-called upper-middle class/lower-upper class and then it goes down from there. The middle class used to be the working man and his family, not poor or poverty stricken, but living comfortable. That is fast disappearing.

    February 2, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  95. Pamela Thompson

    I believe that if the economy continues in this state of job loss, working poor, as well as the inflation of cost of living, education, and the taxes we look forward to paying continue to increase; there will soon be no middle class left to define.

    February 2, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  96. Michael from Ft. Hood, Texas

    Jack this question goes to the heart of the issue of what you asked last week about our country headed towards bankruptcy. I live in a nice neighborhood with 15% of the homes for sale or foreclosed on. My neighbors have been working two and three jobs, all because an idiot Congress and former President decided that our country was for sale to the highest bidder, and the middle class was what was lost.

    February 2, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  97. Scott Stodden

    Its changed because middle class Americans are finding it harder and harder to go to school, find a good job and retire off of. So many people I know are being denied jobs because of there criminal backgrounds and I feel that depending on the extent of the criminal you shouldn't be denied a job! If your not making $250,000 or more a year then your considered middle class or poor that's how its changed.

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,Illinois)

    February 2, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  98. Robert Gunther

    The golden age is over, I think that a lot of it has to do with global population the more people there are then the less resources that there are going to be per person, to me this is a simple concept I don't know why it is so hard for some to grasp. The UN says that population is going to be 9 billion by 2050 that means we need an additional 3000 cities of 1 million people to hold all the expected growth, where are all of the resources going to come from? As for just in the United States I think that we need a population of about 150 million the current population of more than 300 million is completely unsustainable at any kind of a decent living standard.

    February 2, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  99. Evian in Austin

    Yes.. an economic downturn of this magnitude shows you just how tenuous a middle class existance can be. If either my wife or I were to lose our jobs, we would surely fall out of the "middle class".

    February 2, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  100. JF

    The so call, middle class people are just finding out that they never
    were middle class in the first place. If doing very will is 500,000 and up, " how on earth did 50,000 get to be the middle of 500,000 and 0.
    90% of America has always been low income, they were just to brain
    washed to know it. 95% of the world get's tricked into throwing away
    their money on things they do not need, so 5% can live like Kings. And
    they are living like Kings. And when bad things happen' the ones with
    more give little and the ones with little give more. The only reason
    classes of people came about, is because some people need a way
    to fill better then other people. And the well off will always keep the
    low income numbers high. Because they need someone to feed on.
    That's how they stay rich.

    February 2, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  101. Ambrose Bierc

    Good Question, but maybe the question should be how long until the middle-class is eliminated. The statistics you list, not to mention the additional medical costs for a struggling family inevitably push a family into poverty and/or desperation. What dies with the elimination of the middle class is also the last vestiges of the " American Dream."

    "Nice" by -products of the death of the middle class will be alienation, home grown terrorism, crime and and ad nauseum fawning fascination with the "celebrity de jour."

    Keep telling it like it is Jack!

    February 2, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  102. ls400s

    Middle class has not changed. People's mentality has. Being middle class isnt all about wealth. Its about looking out for your neighbor. Trying to better everyones life around you. My neighbor was surprised this summer when he was laid up sick this summer and Id go over and cut his grass.

    February 2, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
  103. Richard Green

    Jack,
    Middle class used to mean one parent could support a family. Better have both parents working now if you want to get close to middle class. Used to be a blue collar worker could be "middle class". Not anymore. Used to be a middle class family could save up and actually pay for a child's college education. Better get a 2nd on the house (if you can) and borrow another $100k. Used to be you could save up and take a vacation every year. Now the vacation( if you are secure enough at your job to take one) goes on a credit card whose low teaser rate keeps going up. The middle class has shrunk and resembles the upperclass while the entrance fee to the middle class is getting higher every day.

    Rich Green
    San Clemente, Cal.

    February 2, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
  104. Ashleigh

    To me it it seems like the middle class is becoming further split. We talk about how now people need college degrees for jobs vs. getting the factory position after high school, but really things have changed even more than that. It feels like there are a very limited number of jobs even for college graduates that will make ends meet. Instead, the middle class is being bifurcated into a group of people with graduate degrees which will probably have the security associated with the "middle class" of the past and a group of people with used-to-be-middle class jobs (requiring either HS, associates degrees, or bachelor's degrees) that will live a semi-middle class life... but without the same security.

    February 2, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
  105. Greg, Ontario

    Simple..after your generation got through with things the middle class in most free countries has gone from the majourity to a about 1/10th of it's size 30 years ago. It's poorer and there is less people in it. Oh and it's shrinking thanx to the way America deregulated things to pump the greed factor of the upper class.

    February 2, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  106. Sarah

    I don't think the definition has changed. I just think that there are not all that many people IN the middle class anymore.

    February 2, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  107. Homeless D in Atlanta

    Middle class America used to owe their debt to fellow Americans. Now, it is ALL owed to the Chinese.

    And they are starting to use their leverage, aren't they!

    That should bring about a HUGE change in middle-class America!

    February 2, 2010 at 6:56 pm |
  108. Michael G Tampa, FL

    Jack,
    I always wanted to be part of that middle class, having come from a middle class family.
    Over the past 30 years, I've seen so many policies, laws, and rules changed by local, state, and federal governments, that what used to be a fair and level playing field, has become a steep, and narrow path.
    With Congress continually allowing H1B Visas, and 15-20 million illegal aliens residing in the US, and talk of allowing a "path to citizenship" for those illegals, US corporations have been given an ever increasing supply of labor entering the market over time, wages have been gradually going down as a result.
    With natural population increases, and jobs going overseas, the middle class, whatever that is anymore, is shrinking.
    You have to look at median income, not average, to determine how bad the situation is for most Americans.

    February 2, 2010 at 6:59 pm |
  109. Ron Goforth

    It's really a simple answer to all the questions......impeach the President.

    February 2, 2010 at 7:03 pm |
  110. Terry C. in Illinois

    Jack,
    The Bush administration and the GOP congress from 1994-2006 wiped out jobs that were middle class because the GOP are pawns of Corporate America and the GOP hates Unions which created the middle class.
    Good paying jobs have been "outsourced" because the GOP passed tax cuts for companies, that are still in effect today, for outsourcing jobs. So goes medical coverage for your family, so goes your retirement, so goes your income level...and so goes your home mortgage, so goes buying new cars, so goes vacations, etc... DO YOU GET IT ? The GOP doesn't...
    Today, its either "you have it or you don't", THERE IS NO MIDDLE CLASS.

    February 2, 2010 at 7:07 pm |
  111. Chris Cruz

    Jack
    I think we have six classes now, the Upper class (super rich), the upper middle class(rich), middle class (above $250), lower middle class, under class (below $50K), and poor (under $14K).

    What we used to call middle class is now becoming the under class.

    Chris

    Benson, AZ

    February 2, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
  112. Chad from Los Angeles

    The middle class is still the same, there is just far fewer people in it. Since Reaganomics of the 80's we have pandered to the wealthy, and they have not given much back to the greater society. The wealthy are greedy people who obviously don't let their money "trickle down" to the rest of us.

    Reagan + Bush have done more harm to this country than anything else.

    February 2, 2010 at 7:10 pm |
  113. Alice NEWYORK

    There isn't any!!!!!! It is inconcieveable that to to make 75k you are poor! When theft is comming from the top and the bootom then the middle breaks

    February 2, 2010 at 7:11 pm |
  114. jeane

    It hasn't. The term has been hijacked by "talking points". A lot of middle class don't even know they are middle class. Do us all a favor and do a graft on incomes in the USA so people can actually visualize it. Show where most incomes rank. Some will be shocked! Some will feel like fools for voting and supporting things that actually hurt them.

    February 2, 2010 at 7:14 pm |
  115. Guy from Hawaii

    The definition is changing (not necessarily by choice but for the good nonetheless) to what we have on the inside not how many cars we have in the driveway or how many square feet our house is. Lock stock and barrel we have been sold the path to happiness and bought it. A home, two cars and a 2 week summer vacation. The middle class is going to have to redefine itself! Hopefully by recognizing their "insatiable desire" for the un-needed things that profiteers have convinced them they need. My definition of the middle class now: Go into any Wal-mart, K-Mart or Target store and I'll show you a bunch of people buying things they don't need with money they probably don't have. That has to change!

    February 2, 2010 at 7:19 pm |
  116. Karla Ward

    Compounding interest on student loans has been the death knell of any hope of accomplishing a secured "middle class" standing. Your bill fluctuates and balloons out this world and there's no stopping it. That industry has been allowed to trample the dreams of many in the lower middle class who wanted to go to college and meet the changing times; but now have thousands or hundreds of thousands to pay back well before they can get a fair shake at starting life.

    The payments you are often forced to make take up to 50% of your monthly take home salary to make any kind of real dent in paying it back, besides having to pay out for your living expenses. There's no way then to save 20% for a down payment on a home within a reasonable number of years, let alone accomplish any goals, business ideas or anything else.

    Tampa Bay, Florida

    February 2, 2010 at 7:20 pm |
  117. ben stockton, calif

    right now the defenition of middle class is a large mortgage payment, a car loan, less than $20,000 in the bank, large credit card balance. probably one or two paychecks from going under when losing a job.. susie orman is correct when she says we need to spend frugally .. just try to walk in the shoes of a guy that that just lost his job

    February 2, 2010 at 7:20 pm |
  118. Chad from Los Angeles

    The middle class has turned into the "peasant class." We have been taken over by a few wealthy people who control our politicians and government. We have become an Aristocracy. Except the ones in control are not royalty, they are businessmen hiding behind a cloak of deception that is Corporate America.

    February 2, 2010 at 7:29 pm |
  119. Jasmine in Germany

    The "middle class" in the US of the past saved money, Jack. Many of the "middle class" of today haven't for decades. Too many insist on buying dream homes and driving brand new cars while living hand to mouth and going to the mall to buy all kinds of things that one really doesn't "need" with money they don't have and credit cards which can't be paid off but become high interest loans. The definition of the "middle class American" has changed in that many today have a modesty deficit and think they "deserve" all kinds of material things instead of living within their means, having patience, and paying cash. The mindset needs to change. All of us have seen "middle class Americans" be wasteful, whether it be with energy or throwing out leftover food which could easily be eaten later, etc. That wasn't so in the 1950s.

    February 2, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
  120. Londyn, Luverne, MN

    Middle Class American? More like 75% of americans are in the middle class. I think that how the middle class has changed is that you now have classes within the middle class. For example: many people view the middle class in levels, upper middle class, lower middle class, not rich, but not poor. average. Of course there are going to be less peolpe in the middle class when the cost of living soars. As far as the median income, I think that the middle class still has about the same standards as they did before the recession.

    February 2, 2010 at 7:33 pm |
  121. B

    Middle class america has changed to the extent it does not exist anymore. This has been going on way before Obama took office so you can't blame it on him. I think the new term is upper-lower class now. All americans have to do now is start electing republicans again so they can finish kicking them while they are down. Where else but america...

    February 2, 2010 at 7:36 pm |
  122. Chad from Los Angeles

    Once we dropped income tax rates to record lows in the 80's for the wealthy, we pretty much signed the middle class' death warrant. Evidence is clear that since we have taxed the rich less, they have become richer and the rest of us have suffered. 2% of the population owns 95% of the wealth!

    It’s time to return to 50-70% income tax rates for the rich, like we use to have before Reagan started our countries demise.

    February 2, 2010 at 7:45 pm |
  123. Bernie of Lowell, MA

    There is no 'middle class'. It' vanished as has the label 'moderate'.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:14 pm |
  124. DocZom

    Jack, the definition has not changed. What has changed is the number of Americans who fit the definition, an ever shrinking number.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
  125. Peggy Spokane,WA

    Jack, I think it can be summed up in the words of Paul Simon's great song!!

    Slip slidin' away
    Slip slidin' away
    You know the nearer your destination
    The more you're slip slidin' away

    February 2, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
  126. maria

    The definition of middle class is choosing between wether to feed your family or pay your house payment. Praying that you dont get sick (because you have no insurance) and hoping to find a job after being laid off for months on end. Honestly there is no middle class anymore.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
  127. Keith

    Sure there is a middle class, though there are many in the upper and lower class than want something from the middle. Middle is nice, everyone just wants to be nice. Theres a price to pay for being nice.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
  128. Steven

    It's simple, in America today if you are not considered poor, then you are middle class.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:25 pm |
  129. Karl from SF, CA

    Middle class has become an undefined entity. The jobs, security and well-being of the former middle-class have gone along with the term itself. We are now the haves and have-nots and unfortunately most of us have dropped into the have-not category. It’s sad that most of the haves, including many politicians, that used to be the upper class, actually have no class at all.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  130. Tim

    Jack of course the middle class isn't what it use to be. The fact is the world isn't catching up with us though. Most of the third world is still living in poverty. And we are sliding back to most of the world. Sadly to say most of it is corporate greed to inflate the profits to benefit a few. Tim Hollywood,Fl.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  131. Phil Smith, Atlanta, GA

    It used to be that middle class meant you had a good bit of savings and felt secure. Now it means a good bit of credit card debt and no idea what the future holds.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  132. James

    What happened to all those jobs Americans wouldn't do? Weren't we just told that a couple of years ago? Jack, the truth is....there is no middle class, just the working poor.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:28 pm |
  133. James Currin

    We are experiencing the failure of American Capitalism to meet the basics needs of the majority of American people. The balloning federal deficit is a direct indication of this failure as it attempts to backfill this failure. How do we fix it...change the financial system that rewards greed.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:28 pm |
  134. Richard

    If it takes two persons working full time to make end meet, raising and educating a couple of children. And if just one major illness will force that family into bankruptcy then that's not middle class, they are in the lower-class just like most Americans. We owe it all to the multinationals who sold our politicians a bill of goods called free-trade and globalization.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:29 pm |
  135. Vaughn Corden

    Are you kidding me! This is the story of the new decade. For a long time, "middle class" was just a state of mind. Now, it doesn't exist at all!

    February 2, 2010 at 8:29 pm |
  136. Bernie of Lowell, MA

    Yeah, Jack, George W. Bush was a 'uniter' – he united the 'middle' class with the 'poor'.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:29 pm |
  137. Richard

    If it takes two persons working full time to make ends meet, raising and educating a couple of children. And if just one major illness will force that family into bankruptcy then that's not middle class, they are in the lower-class just like most Americans. We owe it all to the multinationals who sold our politicians a bill of goods called free-trade and globalization.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:29 pm |
  138. Deane from California

    I have several middle class neighbors who have walked away from their homes. They are underwater on their loans and had trouble getting the lenders to negotiate with them. So Short Sales are the way to go is what they told me... It's not an income issue they make just under 100k per year and can pay the mortgage but don't want to. I think its very irresponsible but what can we do about it. The rest of us taxpayers are left footing he bil. How fair is that??

    February 2, 2010 at 8:29 pm |
  139. Jay

    Middle class is gone. Rich and Poor is here.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:30 pm |
  140. Jo Miller

    Middle Class? First "middle" refers to our waistline. We are not excercising enough or eating well enough-gotta grab something fast because we're en route to our second low paying job. And "class"? Ha-we ain't got none, ain't got time for none. Surivival is our new mantra. There are the "haves" the "have nots" and us-the "used to haves."

    February 2, 2010 at 8:30 pm |
  141. rick san jose ca.

    The Middle class today is another word for not so poor but working poor or low income.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:31 pm |
  142. Phil, georgia

    Thats what Pres. Obama and the Democrats have been fighting soo hard for; and what they have been doing is working.. Its Amazing to take 700,000 jobs being lost down to 100,000 in less than one year is spectacular. And instead of 10% unemployment, if democrats did not act, it would be over 20%!!

    February 2, 2010 at 8:31 pm |
  143. Jim Green, TX, www.Inclusivism.org

    Jack....it is no secret to anyone paying attention that the one and only program of the Republican Party—from the first day Reagan took office—to this minute—is to move America's wealth out of the hands of 99% of us, and into the hands of the top 1%–and they did it via deregulation, obscene tax cuts, etc., etc.,-and in the process our middle class almost disappeared—but they did something else through this corrupt practice—they undermined the buying power of the masses—which led to the collapse of our economy—so if you are not outraged at the Republican Party, America—it is because you are not paying attention....

    February 2, 2010 at 8:36 pm |
  144. Sean LeCarre

    Saying the latest generations hasn't improved since the previous is naive. If by improvement you mean a quantitative increase in some statistic, then the statement may be true. But overall, US citizens still enjoy some of the highest standards of living among industrialized countries. On campus, I see liberal students complain about the crime of poverty and wars, but text away on their Blackjacks and iPhones while in class. If anything, how can you improve upon a generation already spoiled?

    February 2, 2010 at 8:37 pm |
  145. Sandy

    In 1991 the new rock group Pearl Jam released their first album "TEN" with the huge hit "EVENFLOW", as song about the homeless, one lyric prophetically says "there ain't gonna be any middle any more". Out of the mouths of the young years before the establishment would admit it.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:37 pm |
  146. Bernie of Lowell, MA

    There has been no 'midle' class for years, Jack.

    We were bluffed into believing we had a good job , a good home and a future with our 'paternal' corporate leaders, but all that has changed, especially with the burst of the housing 'bubble'.

    So many people I know with docroral degrees are retiring – finding out that their Social Security benefits, which they accrued in 'good times' are now more than what they've been earning at McDonald's and Walmart.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:38 pm |
  147. Rick

    Jack:

    We are headed from two new class definitions. The new middle class can only exist with two reasonably solid pay checks and hope. And then the right will help us create a new class “ the third world America class “ those living far below the poverty line; a new indigence tribe of 4th and 5th generation Americans.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:41 pm |
  148. Silas - Boston

    We've allowed the "upper" class to become too big to fail. As a result the middle class is an endangered species which has to bail out the class that got us into this mess to begin with. This is how the French Revolution started.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:42 pm |
  149. Rory Murray

    Jack,
    Today is my Mother's 85th Birthday. Two years ago, when our home was worth $400,000 I was able to fly to Portland to surprise her. Now that our home's value has decreased to $180,000, I can't even afford to send her a card after our bills are paid. "Hope and Change?" I'd be hopeful for spare change at this point.
    BTW, I feel no comfort knowing California is in worse financial shape than we are.

    Rory Murray
    San Bernardino, CA

    February 2, 2010 at 8:42 pm |
  150. Steve

    Unbalanced trade agreements and capitalistic corporate greed drestroyed the middle class. We need to stop allowing self serving politicians from fleecing our country and our way of life away! Smily glad hands with hidden agendas! Boycott foreign made products and buy American. Remember that China and India and other developeing nations need Us to buy their exports on order for their economies to survive! With out our ability to buy their good they will fall flat on their faces, just as we have by giving them our jobs and our innovation! Take the power back and demand your local and state representatives to stand up and work together to solve our problems or vote them out of office! We are the power and we are the people!

    February 2, 2010 at 8:43 pm |
  151. Cecilia

    Hi Jack,
    My father came from a large middle class family that grewup during the depression. Those wonderful people worked thier tails off to stay in middle class. Well, i just turned 40 and I have been working since I was 16 years old. In 2003 I thought things were on the rise, but by 2006 the bottom just fell out. It has been an uphill climb ever since.Thank God my family who pulled together, but I am still very scraed for the future.

    It's our work ethic & determination up against fleeting opportunities and crazy prices on one side...and against dumb luck and chance on the other.

    Now middle class refers to "between a rock and a hard place."

    February 2, 2010 at 8:43 pm |
  152. Pete - Augusta Ga

    Jack –

    Middle Class today means 2 working incomes (possibly 1 unemployed & receiving government assistance), at least 1 'boomerang' child who moved back in with mom & dad after divorce or job loss, underwater on a mortgage, and paying for at least one recalled Toyota.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:49 pm |
  153. Billie Lee Beckman

    The Middle Class has changed by becoming so passive that they are not challenging those ELITISTS who keep telling them about the ..."jobs that were sent away and are not coming backj". Who says those jobs are not coming back? Why should Americans accept such an assertion? Americans who lost those seven million or more jobs were never given a vote in the decision which had hugely negative consequences on their lives. That was WRONG! So–Now is the ti8me for the Middle Class to demand a correction: BRING THOSE JOBS BACK TO AMERICA or give a damn gtood explanation why not?

    February 2, 2010 at 8:49 pm |
  154. Deane from California

    Middle and Class do not go together. What is a Class? Who has more money or more education? Just because you have money doesn't make you educated does it? I have many friends who've inherited money recently and have no class at all. Spent it as fast as the relative they inherited it from saved it. Saving takes time spending does not. Think about it!!

    February 2, 2010 at 8:50 pm |
  155. Rick

    Jack:

    We are headed for two new class definitions. The new middle class can only exist with two reasonably solid pay checks and hope. And the right will help us create a new class “ the third world America class “ those living far below the poverty line; a new indigence tribe of 4th and 5th generation Americans.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:50 pm |
  156. Jackson

    The middle class has been killed by Congress serving the wealthy. The school system that once provided opportunity has failed. Congress has allowed the wealthy business interests to pillage and plunder what wealth the middle class had. No we are broke. There is no middle class.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:50 pm |
  157. Kathy Murguia

    It no longer means what we thought and were taught. Today it means endless hours of work for families, and a loss of hope for the future. A knowledge of being stuck, becoming poorer, with nowhere to go in. Because others are controlling and making decisions about my family and our future . We just no longer matter.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:51 pm |
  158. Jackie

    The Middle Class is gone. My parents got it all, secure 30 year employment, home, family vacations, retirement. While their kids, my brother and I? We both lost our homes, can't find a decent job that lasts longer then 4 or 5 years.

    Every employer out there only offers up 20 hours a week, and that is temporary employment. We can't count on a regular paycheck at all. There is no hope for our children, we are all poor and will remain poor. We have nothing to look forward to or work for since working your way up no longer takes place. It's all profit over people, and to hell with the workers.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:52 pm |
  159. Bill from Greensboro

    The middle class is becoming exactly what Wall Street has prescribed. This is the 'New World Order', the 'One World Economy' that is the result of 30 years of laissez-faire unregulated 'trickle down' economics. The USA standard of living must be REDUCED to be in line with the rest of the world. The blue collar jobs have all been outsourced to India or China, (improving their economic lot in life) . The local 'flea market' will take on new meaning, and the word 'flea' will be dropped as we move forward. There will be a 'market' at every major intersection as the middle class is reduced to a daily subsistence and barter type of economy. People will no longer be able to afford a car, and bicycles will be back in vogue. It didn't have to happen. It's sad.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:52 pm |
  160. Jack

    You'll get a better idea when you get to tour the new debtor's prison that
    they'll soon turn gitmo into after they move the terror suspects, Jack.

    February 2, 2010 at 8:53 pm |