Friday, September 9, 2011

Pres. Obama and the Plight of the Middle Class

FOLKS, I'll be appearing on KCRW's To the Point with Warren Olney, which will broadcast today at noon on 89.9 FM in Los Angeles and later, presumably, elsewhere around the country on the PRI network.

We'll be talking about Obama's jobs speech and the larger issue of the middle class during the economic downturn. I'm there to discuss my experience as a laid off newspaper reporter who's struggled with the collapsed economy.

One bit of Obama's speech was especially resonant for me: 

These men and women grew up with faith in an America where hard work and responsibility paid off. They believed in a country where everyone gets a fair shake and does their fair share -- where if you stepped up, did your job, and were loyal to your company, that loyalty would be rewarded with a decent salary and good benefits; maybe a raise once in a while. If you did the right thing, you could make it. Anybody could make it in America.

Anyway, we'll be discussing this and more shortly.

Update: With the show now up and broadcasting from KCRW, I want to recommend a very intelligent discussion in which your humble blogger was just okay.

One point: Chicago small business owner Jay Goltz, who wrote a smart piece for the New York Times about hiring, took issue with something I said about taxes and the rich. He made the point that someone making $250,000 is in very different shape than a billionaire hedge fund guy. I did not have time to respond, but I agree completely. (We need more small business owners like him and fewer too-big-to-fail corporations.)

Finally, this matter connects to a larger point which I did not get time to make, but: The most affluent 400 people in this country hold as much wealth as the bottom 150 million. So to even talk about the middle class is a bit of a nostalgic fiction, at least in the way we used to discuss it as a robust center of American life.

These days, politics dances to the tune of the top 1 percent, not the middle class. There is class warfare in this country: It's that very richest tier against the rest of us -- and they're winning. Bigtime.

No comments: