Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Living Large: America's Prosperous Middle Class

Reason.tv: To hear the Lou Dobbses and Bill O'Reillys of the world--not to mention politicians ranging from Ron Paul to Hillary Clinton--the middle class of America (however you define that term) has never had it so tough. Between credit squeezes, out-of-control immigration, rising costs of education and health care and everything else, it's all darkness out there for those of us who are neither millionaires nor welfare cases, right?

In "Living Large," Drew Carey and Reason.tv examine the plight of the American middle class. What do they find?
Click here to watch the video.

Featured in the video is Michael Cox, chief economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. On the topic of the middle class making ends meet Cox says, "If you’re willing to settle for the living standards of the 1970s, it’s easy to make ends meet. It’s not the high cost of living, it’s the cost of living high, and it’s the fact that we insist on having so much more today." Further, "Americans are richer today than at any time in history. We should really be thankful that we live in a society where we don’t have to work day and night in order just to eke out a living."

Despite what Lou Dobbs and the media tell us, just by being alive in 21st century America, even if you're middle class, you've "won first prize in the lottery of life."

12 Comments:

At 2/06/2008 10:05 AM, Anonymous Is said...

His lungs...

 
At 2/06/2008 10:38 AM, Anonymous Machiavelli999 said...

I have a cousin who I see from time to time and when I saw him last September he was telling me about all the troubles this economy is having and how its affecting him. From high gas prices to high food prices, he was telling me about his struggles. I didn't really feel like arguing that day so I just nodded and pretended to agree.

About a couple weeks ago, I went over to his place again. It turns out he bought two 50' plasma TVs on Black Friday.

I ask him, "What the hell, I thought you were 'struggling'?"

His response: "Well, ummm....it was a good deal."

 
At 2/06/2008 11:08 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Machiavelli999,

Your cousin might sound strange, but that's the whole idea behind the tax incentive. Which is spend money you can't afford that comes from a government that can't afford to give it to you.

Wasn't it just a short time ago that the complaint was that people did not save enough money? Now we are supposed to believe people do not spend enough money to support a market that is 2/3 consumer-driven. It sure must be fine-line drawn between spending and saving.

 
At 2/06/2008 1:45 PM, Blogger Cobb said...

It's a feeling of entitlement. The middle (and lower, to some degree) class feels entitled to an iPhone, a plasma TV, satellite television, a nice new car, and various other luxuries. After they pay for all that stuff, they are getting squeezed. I consider that getting squeezed by choice.

Personally, I'm sick and tired of seeing people like machiavelli999's cousin on the local news complaining about high gas prices, while standing next to their Cadillac Escalade.

I like Ron Paul, but you're right Dr. Perry - even he has fallen into the trap of allowing people to feel entitled to luxurious living.

 
At 2/06/2008 2:00 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

There are a lot of people in bad financial shape through no fault of their own. I guess I know more than my fair share of them. It’s difficult to pay for gasoline to drive 40 miles to a job and pay $200 a week for health insurance on a $12-per-hour job. Throw in the increasing cost of food from the ethanol boondoggle and there’s not much left, but they still have to pay for rent and utilities. I consider myself lucky that I’m not in that position. The people I know are not buying plasma TVs and Escalades.

 
At 2/06/2008 4:54 PM, Anonymous A More Inconvenient Truth said...

Great video, thanks for the link. Drew Carey makes some very good points that should make sense to the average American. I talk about it more on my blog and how we really are better off today than ever before in history.

 
At 2/06/2008 5:57 PM, Blogger Jack Miller said...

Mark,

I am a big fan, a life long republican and a retired investment advisor. Thank you for the link to the video and a extra special thanks for all your great graphics.

In regard to the current situation, it is clear that the "populist" politicians have struck pay-dirt. The average man continues to see 100 million dollar severance deals for those who have been fired for poor performance. The average man spends hours and hours to file complicated income tax forms that are designed to enrich the lawyers, accountants, brokers, lobbyist, congress members, heads of charities and the many others who feed off this complicated system.

The middle class does feel squeezed when they see the government subsides going to million dollar second homes and gentleman farmers.

I agree 100% that we are living in great times. Inflation has been over estimated and few fully appreciate the full benefit of the productivity surge. Still, the cord is real. It is well past time to simplify the tax system because the video is correct, the extra time being spent to file tax returns represents high costs.

 
At 2/06/2008 6:57 PM, Blogger Brian Dunbar said...

Oh, Drew, Drew, Drew. You'll never work in Hollywood again, buddy.

Walt G. said...

There are a lot of people in bad financial shape through no fault of their own.


There have always been people in bad financial shape. There always will be. This is just the way of things; it always sucks for someone, somewhere.

What's going on - what the video shows and what everyone knows if they don't spend a lot of time watching the 'if it bleeds it leads news' is that life is generally better for more people than it ever has been.

You know a lot of people who have it bad, fine. Maybe you know a lot of people who are English Lit majors who can't find a job. Maybe this or that - I know a lot of people with black hair; it runs in my wife's family. But it doesn't mean a whole lot and you can't base policy on stuff like that.

 
At 2/07/2008 6:10 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"There are a lot of people in bad financial shape through no fault of their own. I guess I know more than my fair share of them. It’s difficult to pay for gasoline to drive 40 miles to a job and pay $200 a week for health insurance on a $12-per-hour job"...

I don't know walt g but it sounds like its the fault of that person who will drive forty miles to a $12.00/hour job...

 
At 2/07/2008 6:31 AM, Blogger juandos said...

There’s nothing like a compelling sob story to put a human face on economic reporting. Unfortunately, the tragic stories highlighted by the media to slam business and naysay the economy are often worst-case scenarios that gloss over subjects’ failure to exercise personal responsibility

 
At 2/07/2008 7:08 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

I don't necessarily think it's their fault in the beginning. Everyone has to start somewhere. However, if they don't do something to change the situation, it is their fault. There will always be opportunities for those who will pursue them.

My parents had to move to find a better life. I didn’t, but maybe this generation will have to do things differently. High pay for low skills is a phenomenon of the past.

 
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