Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Unsinkable Middle Class?

Finally working my way down the magazine pile. The Atlantic's September, 2011, cover article painted a grim picture of the American middle class. Essentially, Don Peck writes that the lack of good paying manufacturing and other middle skilled jobs is pushing the non-college educated American middle class into the shark infested waters of the unskilled underclass. The article tries to offer a way out, but it's a hope vaguely pinned on waiting for the next big thing and more taxes for education. (When I hear this, my question is what should one study? The article correctly points out that tech manufacturing instead of gaining 150,000 jobs as predicted by the government in the 90s actually lost 500,000. While careers in the health care field seems like a sure thing, this is only if managed health care, with its subsequent consolidation of health providers, doesn't come back.)

However, what I found very disturbing was the ad on the back cover: it seems the mighty resources of Goldman-Sachs had built a college basketball venue in Louisville, which resulted in creating a job of a most decidedly non-middle class sort, that of a waitress, one dressed more like a construction worker than a celebrity chef. So the back cover's answer to the front cover's question, "Can the Middle Class be Saved?" seems to be no.

1 comment:

Steve said...

The author asks a good question: How doe we rebuild he middle class?
However, his solution is more of what thus far hasn't worked, such as government assisting new technologies and companies. Asking a bureaucrat what the next big thing is has produced Solyrnda and self-igniting electric car batteries.
I also think if you're going to write of the 1%, you should define your terms. The 1% starts at an adjusted gross income of $344K--not all super-rich billionaires just waiting to be plucked by the IRS wrumg of their excess cash.
Unfortunately the picture of the new waitstaff you refer to maybe the only solution for lots of people that is to start rebuilding their wealth slowly in whatever position they can find.