Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Financial Crises: Why Is It All About The Middle Class

I have a new article up at Global Comment, thanks Natalia.  As always I will get you started and you can finish reading it there.

I have been following the American election keenly and what has most drawn my attention is what has not been said.

Obama and McCain are clearly pandering to the middle class in their election bids, which is based on the assumption that the largest percentage of the population fits within that class designation. While the middle class constitutes the largest voting bloc, this targeted approach ignores the working and underclass.

The working and underclass are invisible bodies in a society that bases value on the ability to consume. If wealth equals power, both groups make up the most economically marginalized group in American society.

This is evidenced by the fact that neither candidate deems it important to address any of their specific needs.

There has been little to no mention about job training, subsidized housing, homeless shelters, drug rehabilitation, subsidized daycare, or access to food. These are issues that are extremely important to those living on the margins.

Finish reading here.

8 comments:

Ojibway Migisi Bineshii said...

This is what I get annoyed about every time I read that it is all about the middle class. I have two degrees (BA & MA) and since I have finished school I have made poverty level wages. Will I get talked about as someone who has a lot to offer but has been swept under the rug by this system. Yes, I can change many things right now but this has been extremely disappointing. I have the power to create an organization but who will help me? Who believes truly in change? Who believes in the vision that I hold?

They do not talk about job training, subsidized housing or homeless shelters because both candidates are far removed from that. Do they really understand being working class, working poor or homeless. No, they do not.

I also hate being called a consumer. I am not a consumer. I live an Earth conscious life. Not because it is a fad or because being green is cool. It is because I was raised in honoring the Earth first and foremost. So because of my heritage and my beliefs I do not believe in consuming. Consumerism is an obvious disease that has created many social ills in our society. Everything I "own" I can fit into my small compact car. So if I need to move I take what I can fit into my car. It is a better way to live. Plus I really feel that "things" tie you down.

Danny said...

Fact of the matter is candidates pander and cater to the group that they think will do them the most good. For years candidates have basically had corporate sponsors but I think its getting to the point where they realize that just looking out for the super rich (especially now that us working class folk just picked up a possibly $700billion bill for them) is not going to get them anywhere. So now the angle is they care about "the common working person".

Politics has degraded from representing the people to pandering to group that will benefit them the most.

The Fabulous Kitty Glendower said...

There has been little to no mention about job training, subsidized housing, homeless shelters, drug rehabilitation, subsidized daycare, or access to food.

There want be any discussion because it would suggest a need/desire for change. For the people in power there is little need/desire for change?

I’ve been exploring the middle class in a few posts lately because of how they violently react at the slightest bit of exposure of their systematic and structural privilege. Instead they prefer to insult the poor.

Danyell said...

I definitely agree.

Though I have heard Obama make references to "working families" (is that PC term for poor?), I still don't feel that any economic plan will benefit me personally. I'm within that fun category where I don't make enough to be middle class, but I make too much to be eligible for any sort of government programs. I'm young, I'm OVER-educated and UNDER-employed at my current job, living with an unmarried partner, with no kids and we don't own any property or even a car. And that's only one combination in class & economic distinction. There are many others who also fall inbetween categories that will be no more helped by Obama's "help the middle class" plan than they will be by McCain's "I'm so rich, I don't even know what middle class means, but it sounds icky" rhetoric.

Queers United said...

I am really happy you chose to blog about this today since it is world blog day and the subject is poverty.

James said...

I think it's more than just the large size and voting power of the middle class.

The United States is highly unusual in that most Americans consider themselves to be middle class -- far more, in fact, than are actually *in* the middle class, by any definition.

This means that both candidates need to speak to the middle class, and address their issues, if they want to be heard by the vast majority of Americans.

It's also true that the independent voters being courted in the debates by both sides are mostly middle or upper class, and so the candidates want to address primarily those voters in the debates. They tend to save their comments to other groups for their campaign appearances, where Obama talks often of programs aimed at those living on the margins (while McCain focuses on other groups).

James said...
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Rachel said...

"Obama and McCain are clearly pandering to the middle class in their election bids, which is based on the assumption that the largest percentage of the population fits within that class designation. While the middle class constitutes the largest voting bloc, this targeted approach ignores the working and underclass."

Yes-- thank you. And it is a perpetual problem. Jim Hightower talked about this during the 2004 election cycle: neither Dems nor Republicans have gone out of their way to ask poor people what they need or to come up with imaginative ways to meet those needs. (Two examples of policy decisions Hightower talked about were reforming the payroll tax so that income above $80,000 is no longer sheltered and offering universal education, kindergarten through college, on a modified GI-bill model.) If purging voter rolls isn't enough, ignoring people is another way to disenfranchise them.