Middle Class America Disappearing?

As some of you probably can guess from some of my posts, I usually lean to being more conservative than liberal. I try to see things from both sides but my beliefs usually align more to the right. Saying that, as a teacher, I am definitely in the middle class – if not the lower middle class I know we have been on this road for some time now, but I am wondering if the middle class is starting to disappear.

 

In many of the interviews I give, I try to inspire and show others that they can live on a moderate income.  It may not be easy and there are sacrifices that have to be made but it can be done.  With the recent economic conditions in our country (along with many other countries), I am afraid this is becoming much more difficult.  Here are three real challenges:

 

Home

 

For the average person, his/her home is the biggest asset he/she will have.  Now, with the housing crisis, this no longer holds true.  Many owe much more on their homes than they are worth and who knows when the housing market will improve.

 

Stock Market

 

Another way the average American builds wealth is through investing.  I do feel that the stock market will go up over time (historical data shows it grows around 10% a year) but many have seen their IRA’s, 401k’s and 403b’s shrink.  For those wanting to retire in a few years, this downturn could not have come at a worse time.

 

Pay Raises

 

Another way the average person earned more money is through a raise that most of us were accustomed to each year.  For many, that is out now.  As a teacher, I have not had a significant raise in two years.  In fact, with unpaid furlough days, there have been some years where I make less than I did the year before!

 

I have not been one that thinks CEO pay should be capped but I am beginning to re-think this a little bit.  I have always felt that private companies have the right to pay their CEO’s whatever they want – they are private.  However, when I read that a CEO makes millions of dollars while the pension of a loyal employee tanks, it makes me go hmmmm.  Like I mentioned, if a company chooses to pay someone a lot of money, that is the company’s decision.

 

middle class

 

When you look at the big picture though, you can see why the recent Occupy Wall Street protests have been gaining steam.  Many are just fed up that they cannot get a job and then see how much some companies pay those in charge.  I don’t know what these protests will lead to but, even as a conservative, can understand why they are upset.

 

Final Thoughts

 

I have seen plenty of people take advantage of the system and feel entitled to live off of others.  I don’t care what side of the political spectrum you are on – that is just plain wrong.  There are now many people out there that would love to have a job and hate having to live off government money but  just can’t find work.  Maybe these protests will lead to some positive change and help companies re-think how they are paying their employees.