Friday, December 4, 2009

From Time Goes By

Imagining Life Without a Middle Class

I was reading this great post by Ronni Bennett and the memories came rushing back to me. Memories of a time when ‘middle class’ meant something. It meant that as a family unit you had comfortable shelter, plenty of food and a job that allowed you to buy that shelter, the food and a vehicle that would take you to your job. At the time, we couldn’t live in the city because of high prices for housing and so we moved to the suburbs to gain the security of owning a piece of real estate. It really worked out well for us as I worked in the commercial construction industry and the jobs were located all over Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange counties. I worked steadily as a union carpenter through the 60’s and then in the 70’s the effect of Reagan’s governorship was effecting the economy in California, just at the time I had gone into business, a partnership. Business flattened out and jobs were rare. We moved north and I found work in Reno Nevada, building casinos and high rise hotels. Then Reagan became President and set out to destroy the middle class. I’m really not sure that he had the mental capacity to plan such a thing, but he had the help of plenty of republicans that did.

Union membership fell all across the country but because I was a ‘commercial’ carpenter, the non-skilled non-union labor couldn’t fill my job. I was relatively safe, but I saw friends that had been good ‘wood butcher’ carpenters give up their union membership to get a job. A low paying job with no benefits. What were the republicans doing to us? Why?

Because a fair and equitable distribution of wealth was anathema to them. They saw no reason why they couldn’t have it all. And they cloaked their plans in the American flag. You weren’t patriotic if you didn’t want a non-union workplace’. Oddly enough, when told this lie by some Senator with a tear in his eye, a lot of people believed it. And union membership fell again, along with the average wage.
Facts are; whenever the republicans were in power, wages fell and stock values rose. There is a mountain of evidence that shows this, but it’s so much easier to believe a lie than to seek out the truth.

So the country slides backwards, education becomes a joke and the jobs dry up; the real jobs that is. Jobs that come with retirement packages and not 401(k) schemes. Jobs with affordable health insurance. The middle class is on its way out and even those that consider themselves to be upper middle class will look up one day and find the door to the next class, firmly shut and locked.

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