Three Cheers For America’s Middle Class

Deborah Welky


I am hardly a student of economics, having only taken one course, but I know one thing I know for sure — hurrah for the middle class!

What would we do without these people? They keep the wheels of America churning along, providing most of the goods, most of the services and most of everything that has made our country what it is today. And what do they get for it? A kick in the slats, as my father would say.

Well, no. They get more than that. They get education for their kids, some of the best healthcare in the world and a roof over their heads. They get food to eat, a car to drive and a little entertainment now and then. Of course, none of this comes free. The middle class goes to work five days a week, sweating and slaving to earn these things. If they’re lucky, they have a little left over to stash away as savings.

The American Dream is topped by home ownership. Once you’re able to break away from apartment living, you’ve taken the first step to “making it.” But what have you made? You’ve signed your name to a mortgage that will usually last until the day you retire, and now you have to go out and buy lawn maintenance equipment as well. I know a guy who bucked this trend, insisted on paying rent his entire life because he didn’t want to be responsible for a yard or house repairs and, when he lost his job at age 50, had nothing to fall back on. If you have a house, you can sell it — get the money to start over. That’s always fun. But home ownership is more than a lawn to mow, it’s the insurance you need. It’s like a savings account.

Let’s talk for a minute about savings accounts. What the heck is going on with that? No one gets any interest anymore. Not that it matters. If you have a car payment to make, kids to feed and the desire to go to a movie now and then, where is this extra money? I know where it’s not — education.

This is another beef of mine — who’s running the teachers’ union? They have all the power and rarely use it. Do you know what would happen if the teachers in this country went on strike — I mean really went on strike? Days, weeks, months of striking? They would get anything they wanted. They could write their own ticket. Parents would be rioting in the streets. And the end result would be better education — higher-paid teachers, more supplies, greater technology, maybe even a field trip now and then.

Regarding healthcare, and I hope I’m not jinxing myself by saying this, but I have been lucky as hell to be mostly healthy most of my life. But for those who haven’t had a silver star shining down on them, life is rough. They go on day after day living in pain or coping with disease or functioning without whatever they’re somehow functioning without. Our country has the technology, but it doesn’t come cheap. Certainly we can figure out a way to do better for those who are hurting, America, I mean, come on!

And by “America,” I don’t mean you, middle class. I know you are doing everything you can, running inside that little hamster wheel of a life of yours.

Just know this — I appreciate you. We all do.