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Are We Still A Middle-Class Nation & A Poor Cousin Of The Middle Class
January 21, 2004 2:45 PM   Subscribe

...According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following are among the occupations with the largest projected job growth from 2000 to 2010: combined food-preparation and serving, including fast food; customer-service representative; registered nurse; retail salesperson; computer-support specialist; cashier, except gaming; office clerk; security guard; computer-software engineer, applications; waiter; general or operations manager; truck driver, heavy and tractor-trailer; nursing aide, orderly, or attendant; janitor or cleaner, except maid or housekeeping cleaner; postsecondary teacher; teacher assistant; home health aide; laborer or freight, stock, and material mover, hand; computer-software engineer, systems software; landscaping or groundskeeping.     Are We Still a Middle-Class Nation? comes from The State Of The Union section in The Atlantic. Compare and contrast A Poor Cousin Of The Middle Class
posted by y2karl (19 comments total)

 
Printer Friendly pages have no pictures, so here is the splash page of A Poor Cousin Of The Middle Class to put a face to Caroline Page.

And here is more from The Atlantic: The $45 Trillion Problem and America's "Suez Moment". Have a nice day. :)
posted by y2karl at 2:47 PM on January 21, 2004


Fixed link: America's "Suez Moment".

"U.S. policymakers should take note: Britain was brought to its knees not by a military defeat but by an economic one—specifically, America's refusal to support the British pound, which created a monetary crisis for the British government, forcing it to call off its ill-advised campaign with France and Israel to recapture the Suez Canal after nationalization by Egypt. As its international debt grows, the United States becomes ever more vulnerable to its own Suez moment."

This idea was also discussed awhile back in this thread.
posted by homunculus at 3:15 PM on January 21, 2004


Nickel and Dimed In America

One Town, One Job: Low-Wage America

/class warfare
posted by matteo at 3:26 PM on January 21, 2004


I'm not an expert in economics/politics, but wasn't there like one of those world wars, or two of them that Britain nearly lost? That happened like, oh right before the "Suez Moment"? Is the "Suez Momemnt" more like the final death bell that was showing how weakened Britain had become?

I would posture to say that a very good argument can be made for Britian's loss being military. Years of war, where viable workers are down, and production of "useless" war materials nearly consumes an economy, seems to have far more devestating effects.

I'm not saying that that the theory is wrong by any means, just that it focuses on points to validate the authors argument (the US will be collapsed from within, due to economic concerns).

In my opinion, technology will destroy or make economies. We may not have the cheapest labor, most abundant natural resources, or even the largest population -- but, correct me if I'm wrong, our R&D output is enormous compared to the rest of the world. Perhaps that's where our strength lies.
posted by geoff. at 4:47 PM on January 21, 2004


Uhhh, some of that list of growing jobs isn't so bad. I'm a postsecondary teacher, an RN is a good job, "office clerk" encompasses so much as to be almost meaningless but isn't a bad way to start at smallish places, software engineering (systems or applications) isn't the most awful job on the planet, general or operations managers presumably aren't living in their cars, truck drivers make good money, and nursing aides can make at least middle-class wages.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:12 PM on January 21, 2004


I just finished a stint as a nursing aide in a nursing home, and trust me, they do *not* make "at least middle-class wages".

Unless you call ten bucks an hour "middle-class". (I don't).

People who work that hard and deal with the shit they do (literally) should be paid three times that amount. Minimum.
posted by beth at 6:32 PM on January 21, 2004


The State of the Union Depends on Your Status

And this is the state of our union.

Or, to put it another way, holiday season sales at Tiffany & Co., the luxury jewelry retailer, climbed 16 percent over 2002. Wal-Mart showed holiday gains of 3.9 percent. Stocks that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained more than 25 percent last year. Wages grew by 1.7 percent.

To put it one more way, the cost of the Bush tax cuts - those already enacted and those the president keeps on proposing - surpasses, by a few billion, the amount needed to shore up both Social Security and Medicare for the next 75 years, according to budget analyses by congressional Democrats.

Never mind. The president, in his annual address, is going to say he intends to privatize Social Security, a step he says is needed to "save" it for the Baby Boomer retirement. In truth, he has long since spent the money needed to finance any transition from the current system supported by payroll taxes to one in which people invest for retirement (anyone for Enron stock?) on their own. Remember the surplus? That was supposed to fund the switch if, in fact, the public went along with the idea of exchanging Social Security's guaranteed income for a stock-market gamble.

But then, why worry about long-term financing problems when we can fret over short-term financing problems? The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the government agency that protects retirees' pensions when companies that promised them go belly up, is itself teetering. The General Accounting Office has declared it to be a "high-risk" agency and said its funding problems can't be solved even by a strong rebound in the stock market.

But this difficulty will likely not be mentioned in the president's speech tonight. But the president does plan to recycle a proposal for "lifetime savings accounts," a new tax shelter for those who can put away as much as $30,000 a year. It is their due.


The No Jobs President by J. K. Galbraith
A Salon page where you have to watch the MoveOn commerical before getting your day pass.

The Bush years are a study in deliberately wasted effort: Repeal of the estate tax. Tax exemption for stock dividends. Ballistic Missile Defense. The USA PATRIOT Act. The war on Iraq. Each of these initiatives has a clientele. None of them seriously aims to achieve its stated goal, be that economic recovery or homeland security or national security writ large.

The method is clear to any who choose to study closely: It is a method of subterfuge and deception. It is the systematic and relentless pursuit of partly hidden agendas, sold to the public with slogans. The tax cuts were not aimed to produce recovery and jobs; they were a reward to the rich. The war on Iraq was not waged to help the war on terror; it was about getting Saddam, as we have now had confirmed by Paul O'Neill's report on the Iraq agenda Bush carried from the beginning. Missile defense is not about North Korea, and still less about Iran or any other "rogue state"; it's about the contracts. In all these cases, the decision on what to do came first -- then the circumstances of the day were arranged to suit.

So it is today on the economy. What does Bush want? He wants a growth rate high enough to get him through the election. That's obvious. After that, he doesn't care. His clientele -- the military contractors, oil companies, pharmaceutical firms and big media that control this government -- make their money on patents, contracts and the exercise of monopoly power. (Case in point: Bush is pressuring impoverished Central Americans, in trade negotiations, to add 10 years to the length of drug patents.) These people have no interest in full employment. They like unemployment, weak labor, low wages and a government that bullies on their behalf. And after the election, if Bush wins, that is what they will get for four more years.

posted by y2karl at 6:39 PM on January 21, 2004


What does Bush want? He wants a growth rate high enough to get him through the election. That's obvious. After that, he doesn't care.
Truer words have never been spoken.
posted by amberglow at 6:42 PM on January 21, 2004


1-page PDF from Bureau of Statistics Data: Average wages in growing and contracting industries, end of recession through Nov. 2003
posted by amberglow at 9:21 PM on January 21, 2004


make that Bureau of Labor Statistics data
posted by amberglow at 9:21 PM on January 21, 2004


Hellinahandbasket.

It's when I read stuff like this that I suspect I should withdraw all my money from the stock market, pay off my little condo, and sock any money left over into really, really secure securities because, goddamnit, the US is going to go tits up one of these days, and when it does it's going to bring down a bunch of other countries.

Also, my heart goes out to Caroline. I'm wondering if we shouldn't MetaGift some money her way. The biggest challenge, as always, is that international fund xfers are a pain in the ass.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:23 PM on January 21, 2004


Where are all the positions for witty fops, oil tycoons, and steamship captains? If this is the new guilded age then won't we need more muckraking journalists? My last aptitude test scored me high in the eccentric millionaire category. Until then I will continue my work down at the station dispensing petroleum distillate.
posted by mokujin at 10:24 PM on January 21, 2004


My last aptitude test scored me high in the eccentric millionaire category.
I got sweatshop buttonholer on that test, mokujin (but good one) ; <
posted by amberglow at 5:07 AM on January 22, 2004


I'm wondering if we shouldn't MetaGift some money her way.

I'm fairly confident that after this cover story her situation is improving; lots of people will feel as you do, and she'll doubtless get job offers. The problem, of course, is the millions of other people in similar situations who don't have this attention drawn to them. What's needed is a better economic system, but we don't seem to be headed in that direction.
posted by languagehat at 7:31 AM on January 22, 2004


'struth.

I should go check out that east-coast guy who had some sort of charity thing going on, where people wrote in with a small but pressing need and got some funding. I forget what it was called, though. I remember the guy is a professor or teacher at a college. Modest Needs?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:18 AM on January 22, 2004


The article about Caroline was a good one, and I appreciated it, but this line caught me totally off guard and actually made me laugh:

The people who received promotions tended to have something that Caroline did not. They had teeth.

Then I realized what fucking shit luck that is, and how true that is. Talk about taking something totally for granted...
posted by jennyb at 8:26 AM on January 22, 2004


Hellinahandbasket, indeed.
posted by shoepal at 8:28 AM on January 22, 2004


I'm wondering if we shouldn't MetaGift some money her way.

Maybe--via whatever route--buy her some good dentures?
posted by y2karl at 8:38 AM on January 22, 2004


Subsistence farming, kids. Wave of the future.

Beat the shit out of living in a surveillance state, anyway.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:32 AM on January 22, 2004


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