Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Haves and Have Nots

The leading factoid in The Atlantic's "Primary Sources" reveals that more and more Americans are Doubting the Dream.
    Americans doubt that they live in a land of equal economic opportunity, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center. It reports that Americans are nearly twice as likely as they were 20 years ago to describe the country as divided between haves and have-nots. This change is particularly significant, the authors argue, since Americans have traditionally “turned a deaf ear” to narratives of class warfare, seeing individuals— not society—as responsible for their economic fate.

It used to be that middle class meant comfortable. In 1988, 68 percent of middle class Americans counted themselves among the haves. Today, that number has dipped to less than half, resting at 43 percent. But as the article points out, it's a poll on self-perception. The middle class hasn't shrunk as much as their ego has. What is more interesting to me is to ask why the categorical shift?

    You can read the Pew report here.


SavingDiva said...

I think the middle class are able to see what the rich are able to have...through shows on MTV like Cribs, magazines showing the $30k dress a clebrity wore to a show, the ridiculous reality shows of wealthy people...the middle class is able to see what they're not able to afford.

Ms. M&P said...

The book The Two-Income Trap hits on this issue. I think it's a combination of rising housing and transportation costs, longer work hours, and the fact that wages aren't keeping up with inflation. If you're middle income, chances are your salary doesn't keep up with expenses. That would make anyone feel like they're falling behind. There's a lot of pessimism going on right now regarding the economy. It makes me nervous.

PiggyBankBlues said...

diva- so true, and they overextend their credit to keep up!

m&p- i'll have to check out that book. all of those things def. contribute to people not being able to keep their head above water.