The Middle Class Has Been Saved---Or Has It?
By Danny Schechter
New York, New York: Long live the middle class now that it has survived the fiscal cliff and been "saved."
President Obama is basking in the glory of having averted the deepening of a crisis that is more structural than political and hardly resolved.
The markets are cheering, it is said, because markets love stability, unless there is money to be made off of volatility of their own making.
Forget the working class. The term is passe', as is the so-called and usually undefined great mushy middle class moves into its rightful place at the center of everyone's concerns.
(When asked what class they are in--or aspire to be in--workers, and even the poor say Middle Class. Unless survey questions include the choice of working class that they usually don't.)
Analysts who looked closely at the big deal so hysterically pushed through Congress as the dramatic end-piece of a year of political warfare, say that there will be very little gain for the middle class with income taxes down but payroll taxes up, insuring that it will be more, at best, of a wash than a redistribution of wealth on any level. Many Americans, not just the rich, will be shelling out more, not less.
Economist Lambert Strether calls
it the "fecal cliff," noting,
"cuts and tax increases (especially on the rich) are not commensurate. A
"sacrifice" where some give up luxuries and others give up necessities is in no
way "shared. A marginal sacrifice for the rich is not commensurate to core
sacrifices for the rest of us."
This is an obvious point, but you will have to search through all the sturm und drang in the media about the votes in Congress to find it. Our media prefers to look up at leaders on the national stage than down on the people who have to cope with their decisions.
The headlines, speak of a victory for the middle class while the deal's details show what an illusion that is.
There is a deeper attack on the middle class underway that is not yet "breaking news." We can see it at the measures designed to destroy unions and attacks on teachers. We see it in limits imposed on pensions, and inflation that is making everything pricier.
With a new wave of big cuts still to come, it's not clear who will benefit---especially not that part of the middle class that relies on public education as the key to their upward mobility,
In city after city, public education is in trouble, underfunded, trapped in bureaucratic warfare, with many public schools facing closure and others cutbacks.
There is a privatization of middle class education underway with the privately run charter school industry hovering in the background, hoping to turn all of education into a business.
" "In Philadelphia, 17,000 students and more than 1000 teachers are facing what's being called euphemistically a "downsizing" with 37 public schools on the chopping block.