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Here’s How You Save the Middle Class

recently read an article in the New York Times about how the middle class was on its last leg and America was turning into something out of the film Elysium.

The author talked about how U.S. productivity has grown, but the typical family household income has not.  He says workers are twice as productive as they were in 1989, but get  less of the economic pie.  And he tops everything off with that in 81 percent of America’s counties the median income is lower than it was 15 years ago.

Although it would be tempting to use the phrase ”figures lie and liars figure” I will try to keep this blog post at a higher level and simply say it’s not the middle class that has changed, it’s what makes you middle class has changed.

In the 1950s if you had a strong work ethic coupled with a strong back, you probably did pretty well.  Fast forward to the early 21st Century, you need a strong mind to go with that strong work ethic and you need to throw in some shrewdness for good measure.

Allow me to explain, I went to the State of Indiana’s job website and did a search of jobs within 10 miles of downtown Indianapolis.  There were 146 positions open.  The highest paid was a professor in the School of Medicine which topped out at $300,000.  The lowest paid job was a part-time package handler for UPS at $170.00 a week.

In other words, knowledge-based performance has replaced task-based performance.  By the way there are more than 7,000 jobs listed which pay $14-$16 an hour if you have some post-secondary education.  And don’t get me started on the skills gap which we all know exists.

As a good friend of mine noted, anyone who expects to perform the same tasks in the same time for the same rate for the same career is  living is the 1950s. They have chosen to ignore the signs of change in workplace relationships as computers evolved from office sized behemoths into desktop (or, now, pocket-sized) information sources. The person who designs the next big smartphone app has the potential to become a billionaire because of the knowledge they posses.

And that is how you save the middle class; use your head because knowledge is not only power, it helps make for a decent livelihood as well.



  • malercous

    Well everybody’s able to complete college, so everyone will have a good future. But for those who only can get an associate’s degree are assured of a $14.00/hr. job. After taxes, FICA & student loans, that’s enough to have a minimum standard of living, provided one doesn’t care for eating or need a car. Assuming rent is free.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve gotten by quite nicely on $12.00/hr with no education, but that was in 1981. Unions used to help the less educated have a middle-class lifestyle, but they’re bad since they hurt the stockholders. I guess we’ll just have to let the stupid starve–no way around that, eh? Educated ex-cons have problems getting hired as well, but none of this will ever become a problem. Or at least not for gun owners.