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Unread 03-25-2007, 06:36 AM
 
Location: CA
188 posts, read 359,672 times
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Default Where did the middle class go?

Areas that used to be middle class are changing. Either lower class or upper class.
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Unread 03-25-2007, 10:35 AM
 
Location: San Gabriel Valley, CA
11,619 posts, read 11,220,707 times
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I've heard this said on many different boards, so I don't think it's just a SoCal thing. I mean I'm sure people will chime in about how it's all the immigrants' fault here but then I wonder what Delaware's excuse is.

But yeah. The middle class is going bye-bye. I think our resources are all tapped out. We don't have enough to overcome expenses like the rich and we aren't poor enough to receive a variety of free services. We're taxed out the wazoo and support the entire country. Of course we couldn't have lasted forever that way. I actually think this is pretty typical of most societies throughout time. The not-poor but not-rich have always taken the brunt. Sad but true.

ETA: I think what we sometimes don't remember is that at less than 300 years old, our general system of government is still in its infancy. We tend to think of things "always" having been one way and now they're "suddenly" changing. But true to human nature, "always" tends to be in our lifetime alone. I mean I'm sure some of us here recall that when we were little, Dad went to work and Mom didn't and that one salary alone was enough to buy a house and car and still have that fun Very Brady vacation in the Grand Canyon.

But think back a generation before the parents. What did our grandparents do? Many of them suffered through the Great Depression. Okay, if we think things are bad now, they truly sucked then. :P There wasn't a middle class then. There were the very, very, very, very rich and the LITERALLY STARVING. What we see now as a general decline is actually a natural consequence of leaning on those who have a bit, but not enough to hold political power or sway...again, just really not something new.
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Unread 03-25-2007, 10:46 AM
 
Location: Rolando, San Diego CA 92115
7,049 posts, read 16,830,760 times
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The middle class continues to chase the wealthy, spending money they don't have on Louis Vitton bags, iPods, laptop computers, brand new cars, brand new tract homes, bigger, better more more more... all while passing up careers in science and math to study sociology and take a shot on a reality show.

Until people wake up and realize that they don't need 2000+ square feet, don't need a luxury car and a luxury lifestyle, the middle class will continue to erode.
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Unread 03-25-2007, 11:13 AM
 
1,398 posts, read 4,416,983 times
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I'm not going engage in personal vituperation, but boy, it sounds as if some people don't interact with genuine middle or working class.

Some personal anecdotal examples: 40 years ago, a postal carrier could afford to buy a small house on the West side. Impossible today. A corporate entry-level worker could afford to buy a small house in L.A. Impossible today. 30 years ago, a retail or blue-collar worker could afford to buy a duplex to live in and produce income. Impossible today. 20 years ago, two smallish incomes could combine sufficiently for home purchase. Impossible today. 10 years ago two smallish incomes could combine to buy into an area where they wouldn't be de facto targets of crime and gangs automatically. Impossible today.

What has changed is the affordability of home purchases in L.A., (along with its changing demographic of gang-dominated locales expanding exponentially here.) One of my prior posts quoted its source, but I believe the figures were that 11% of L.A. workers could afford a median-priced home based upon median income versus 36 - 46% of all other major U.S. cities based upon their respective median incomes.

All the hard-working, non-rich people I know are too busy trying to make the mortgage payment and utility bills, not lusting after pie-in-the-sky materialism.
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Unread 03-25-2007, 11:21 AM
 
Location: San Gabriel Valley, CA
11,619 posts, read 11,220,707 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fastfilm View Post

Some personal anecdotal examples: 40 years ago, a postal carrier could afford to buy a small house on the West side. Impossible today. A corporate entry-level worker could afford to buy a small house in L.A. Impossible today. 30 years ago, a retail or blue-collar worker could afford to buy a duplex to live in and produce income. Impossible today. 20 years ago, two smallish incomes could combine sufficiently for home purchase. Impossible today. 10 years ago two smallish incomes could combine to buy into an area where they wouldn't be de facto targets of crime and gangs automatically. Impossible today.
So very true, 20 or 30 or 40 years ago.

How about 60 years ago?

100 years ago?

300 years ago?

The "golden age" when our fathers could support an entire family and buy a house on one average, not-spectacular salary was very very short-lived. There have been very, very, very few times in history when this was a possiblity. How is our fathers' and mothers' generation being held up as the "standard" when it barely existed for a blink of time? While by comparison, today is considered "abnormal"? The vast majority of human existance has been made up of the "great unwashed" who weren't certain how many of their children would be strong enough to survive any given hungry winter.

We like to think in terms of fairytales..."Once upon a time, my dad made $17K/year and we had a beautiful house with a lake! Then SOMETHING BAD happened (insert_bad_thing_here) and it ALL went away." Not true. *Normal life* happened, where resources are limited, extra money for the treasury doesn't magically appear and this very short span of time ended.

We think we're suffering so badly now...but I never stood on line during the Great Depression for seven hours waiting for half a loaf of bread to bring back to my family of seven. I never set down on a plot of land in "Indian territory" with Uncle Sam's promise that after 7 years, if we survived indigenous American attacks, hunger and land that wouldn't yield, we could own it. I never dug for rotten potatoes in Ireland, watched four of my children, my husband and my beloved mother starve to death and then sell Grandma's one silver brooch to come over to America, where I was then told No Irish Need Apply.

This idea that we *generally* had a golden age and *that we naturally should have it now* is historically very, very, very innacurate.

Yes. Homes are inflated now. I don't see DH and myself ever being able to buy a home. Not one one salary; not on two salaries. Sure, that sucks. But it is what it currently is. Yes, I would like to see it changed; I'd like to see house prices come WAY down. But then what would it be? People screaming, "Oh, now just ANYBODY can buy a home and those people are coming in in droves!" (Which is exactly, BTW, what did happen in our parents' generation.) I'm not sure where and under what circumstances people would be satisfied.
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Unread 03-25-2007, 11:28 AM
 
Location: Rolando, San Diego CA 92115
7,049 posts, read 16,830,760 times
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HUD says a middle income couple in San Diego grosses 55k.

An In-n-out employee makes 9.70 starting wage here in SD. That's about 18.5k / yr.

So two people flipping burgers are earning 36k/yr, or 65% of the median wage.

A question: Does that line up with what you personally would consider "middle income" these days? Does a couple making 50k live a "middle class" lifestlye in your eyes? Perhaps, If they bought their home 15 years ago, and they have good health, and no kids to pay tuition for.


I think what's changed is what is considered "middle class", as a result of stagnant wages, increased housing, tuition, and medical costs, and a general trend towards increased wealth and poverty at the extremes of the socioeconomic scale.

Can anyone with a fixed income, disability, entry-level or low-wage income still be considered "middle class"? In an era where contractors, construction workers, and blue-collar healthcare workers can make 100k by putting in overtime, how realistic are these median statistics?
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Unread 03-25-2007, 11:35 AM
 
Location: Rolando, San Diego CA 92115
7,049 posts, read 16,830,760 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JerZ View Post
The "golden age" when our fathers could support an entire family and buy a house on one average, not-spectacular salary was very very short-lived. There have been very, very, very few times in history when this was a possiblity. How is our fathers' and mothers' generation being held up as the "standard" when it barely existed for a blink of time? While by comparison, today is considered "abnormal"? The vast majority of human existance has been made up of the "great unwashed" who weren't certain how many of their children would be strong enough to survive any given hungry winter.
Look at the living standard of the 'great unwashed' today. TV's in every room. Video games, ipods, new or recent cars (one for each resident). Almost everyone can read and write. Almost everyone has access to a computer and the internet. The standard of living has risen so dramatically... why is it a surprise that the costs of maintaining that lifestyle have risen accordingly? Compared to the 40's, you would have needed to be infinitely rich to afford the cheap crap we surround ourselves with today.

The idea that a postal worker or line cook in the 40's could afford a brand-new home is as outdated as the notion that being a postal worker or a line cook was a career to build a home and family around. Would you want your child to aspire to those jobs?

Times have changed. Not everyone has changed with it. There are still many, many places in this country where a person earning a median income can buy a home easily. High-priced, world-class cities with concentrations of wealth and high-income jobs are not those places anymore.
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Unread 03-25-2007, 11:40 AM
 
Location: San Gabriel Valley, CA
11,619 posts, read 11,220,707 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sassberto View Post
Look at the living standard of the 'great unwashed' today. TV's in every room. Video games, ipods, new or recent cars (one for each resident). Almost everyone can read and write. Almost everyone has access to a computer and the internet. The standard of living has risen so dramatically... why is it a surprise that the costs of maintaining that lifestyle have risen accordingly? Compared to the 40's, you would have needed to be infinitely rich to afford the cheap crap we surround ourselves with today.

The idea that a postal worker or line cook in the 40's could afford a brand-new home is as outdated as the notion that being a postal worker or a line cook was a career to build a home and family around. Would you want your child to aspire to those jobs?

Times have changed. Not everyone has changed with it. There are still many, many places in this country where a person earning a median income can buy a home easily. High-priced, world-class cities with concentrations of wealth and high-income jobs are not those places anymore.
Exactly so. When we survived well on Daddy's salary, Mom didn't have a car of her own so she'd take the kiddies for a walk to buy mid-week groceries, or would wait until after 6:00 when the car was back home. The TV had twelve channels and rabbit ear antennae. Everybody's family wore hand-me-downs because that was the practical and usual thing to do. Eating out was reserved for twice a year when Dad wanted to treat Mom. We didn't have to "go somewhere" for vacation--the family with a Slip 'n Slide or a swing set in the yard was "the" place all the kids gravitated to.

As for being able to buy a house, though...I have found that where housing prices are very low, so are salaries.

However...bottom line is, I guess if you really want to live like Mom and Dad did, you're welcome to. Sell one...or two!...of your cars so that you own only one. Have that car have windows that you actually have to use your arm to roll down, and doors that don't open from across the parking lot. It should be a stick shift--much better on gas mileage. Get rid of cable...much less Tivo. Sorry, no more $80 video games or $20/month online RPGs. Go thrift-shopping and buy a pair of shoes that will last you 15 years...these will henceforth be affectionately be called "Mom's good shoes". Gymboree? How silly...anybody can roll a ball around with her child and do it for free! Count on eating out a couple/few times a year. Sorry, the computer has got to go--the couple hundred you can make on it can go toward something "practical", like the electricity bill. And remember to spend two hours each Sunday clipping coupons! Those really help toward the grocery bill.

Sometimes we truly do not understand how spoiled we are.
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Unread 03-25-2007, 11:44 AM
 
Location: Rolando, San Diego CA 92115
7,049 posts, read 16,830,760 times
Reputation: 2798
Quote:
Originally Posted by JerZ View Post
I have found that where housing prices are very low, so are salaries.
Generally it is the case. But there are exceptions: most of the big Texas cities, Denver, Seattle, Atlanta GA, much of the Chicagoland area.

Compared to places like Coastal CA or the NYC / WDC / Boston corridor, home prices and wages aren't so far apart.
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Unread 03-25-2007, 11:50 AM
 
Location: San Gabriel Valley, CA
11,619 posts, read 11,220,707 times
Reputation: 7727
SEATTLE????????????????

Do me a favor. I'll give you DH's phone number. PLEASE TELL HIM WHAT YOU JUST TOLD ME...LOL. I'm trying to beg him into moving to Seattle as our compromise (he wants the west coast, I want trees).

Sorry for the thread hijack. I am just very happy to hear that. Seattle is back on my list.

(Please note...multiple postings due to very limited time between when the kids get up and start begging me for anything and everything again. )
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