An Open Letter To The Middle Class (spoiler alert: F*ck You)

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Dear Middle Class:

Fuck you.

Perhaps I should back up a bit and try that again.

One of the most frustrating things for me on those occasions when I get suckered into listening to the mainstream media is the lamentation and hand wringing over the shrinking middle class.

While I don’t have any money in the bank and the only assets I have are a computer a video camera and a rusty old mountain bike, most people would look at where I live and where my children go to school and label me squarely in the middle class.

I usually accept that label.

It is easier than telling the whole world that am in my mid forties with no savings, no retirement plan, no 401K- and I live the life of a new media freelancer; check to every increasingly small check. These facts would make my middle class friends uncomfortable.

But I digress. The reason I say “fuck you” to the middle class is that holding onto the status of middle class requires a poor class.

There would be no middle, without the poor. That 1 in 5 kids in the United States live below the poverty line is both immoral and a requirement of our system. This system holds as its very center, heartbeat and myth of the American Dream the cherished “middle class.”

George Carlin frames it this way:

“The upper class keeps all of the money and pays none of the taxes. The middle class pays all of the taxes (and) does all of the work. The poor are there just to scare the shit out of the middle class… keep ‘em showing up at those jobs.”

So what is to be done? We hoist ourselves on our own petard when we allow the Koch brother fueled narrative that Wal-Mart and Fast Food workers who are struggling to attain a living wage should be grateful to have a job, any job, in this climate.

We know our elected officials are not responsive to the people, but to the ruling elite and yet we still argue over Obama or Romney or Pelosi or Boehner as if these politicians are even listening to us.

We cling, no worse, we teach our children to invest in the false American Dream that if we only work a little harder, or go into more educational debt that we would be able to grasp the brass ring and wear proudly the label of American Middle class.

That label would be made in Bangladesh, mind you, by a child working six days a week 16 hours a day and making 30 bucks a month but you would be proud to wear that middle class label just the same, and in doing so do you- we, I- not only endorse the conditions of poverty that, because of its very existence, defines the middle class, we insure that poverty will continue.

We need new language, a new system based on equity and fairness and not on exploitation and oppression and until then I say fuck the middle class.

I quit it.

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  • Rudi Meister

    you mean the middle class still exists ?
    i thought it had gone the way of the dinosaurs…

  • johncocktoaston

    The very idea of what the middle class is has been corrupted. In the Victorian era a middle class person was a person of some means, like a doctor or a lawyer. These days people think they are middle class because the have a mortgage and a car note, all of which are based on debt. I would classify myself and nearly everybody I know as working-class, just a scant few paychecks away from financial ruin.

  • Patrick Hickey

    Way back in the 1950s, when I was growing up, the “upper-middle class” was the equivalent to the middle-class of the turn-of-the-century. This was the class of means. I know, as my mother often had said, “yes, she could divorce her husband because she inherited money.” My own mother used to envy that fortunate woman, because my mother had no independent means, so she stayed with my rather abusive father who made a pretty good living.

    Then there was the working class. The class that actually got basic things done. I also realized that growing in a home where everything was done for us by workers was nice while it lasted, but when I got out on my own, I didn’t even know how to use a hammer and screwdriver (of course, I finally figured it out). Still the working class kids were building tables out of wood. I never have gotten that far.

    Learned helplessness is now joke. Rich people don’t even realize how helpless they really are. I don’t envy them, either!

  • il corvo

    This video made me wonder, what’s to happen if all forms of inter-group conflicts were to dissolve? Racial differences, religious differences, class differences and political differences were to just dissolve. What would the Ruling Elite do to keep us fighting and arguing among ourselves? Would their tiny hearts begin to feel fear for the first time? What if they started another war, to keep us frightened, and no one showed up to fight it? Would their fear rise? Their only solution would be to reluctantly join the rest of humanity in envisioning a new world, a world of balance, order and right relationship.

  • il corvo

    Patrick, good comment. “Rich people don’t realize how helpless they really are.”
    I think they do realize that their lives would dissolve without the people that build them opulent homes, grow and raise their food, clean their home, empty their trash, and do all the things that they are unable to do for themselves. It is this fear that keeps them, through the Entertainment/News Mega-Industry and their control of politics, to keep us struggling against each other. As long as the “masses” are fighting, competing, and being in conflict with each other they can continue their privileged life style.

  • novictim

    Nice article. Thank you.
    You’ve been cheated out of sufficient wages for many, many years and that needs to be recognized. It is the story of 99% of us. It is the Capitalist story.

    I think we need objective measures in this discussion.
    The use of the term “middle class” does serve to highlight the possibility of a “Class Struggle” so it retains some utility here. Yet I agree…the middle cannot be clearly defined without some arbitrary choices…but so be it.
    What is it to be middleclass?

    We in the Progressive left need to first clearly define the expectations of the middle-class…we need to reaffirm the “American Dream”…yes, it is a fantasy for far too many of us…but when we say that we want a family of four with one working person jobbing-it for 40hours per week to be sufficient to pay a mortgage, save for college tuition for the kids, pay for healthcare and retirement at age 65…then we start to define our goals in a way that has been agreed to for many years (up until now). And we all know that these goals, considered modest 40years ago, are now pie in the sky…but that is only because we let them be.

    So what constitutes the middle class in terms of population size? I would turn to mathematics. The middle could encompass on the low end 67% of the middle incomes of the population. It could constitute even more though. 67% strikes me as a minimum. It implies that there is a 16-17% “poor” and a 16-17% “rich” in addition to the 67% middle who live the American dream but not more or less that that.

    Raising the safety net on what it is to be poor today-now(!), accepting that the goals of the middle-class require some time to accrue and be saved for and that in a meritocracy we should ALL be starting out in the “poor” category, then works our way up to middle…it helps us work out our metrics for the economy and it sets requirements on taxation, government assistance, wages, inflation rates, the whole kit and kaboodle…

    We need this kind of dialogue…we need the conversation to shift toward the American Dream as a non-negotiable priority.

  • novictim

    Yes, it exists but it is shrinking down to a very few families.

  • novictim

    Anyone who works for a paycheck can be called working class.

    Physicians, lawyers, technical experts, engineers are also seeing a sharp diminishment in their incomes due to the pressure from imported labor. Expanded H1b Visas were part of the NAFTA agreement which allowed unfair labor pressure in through the back door and circumventing Congress/democracy. Year by year we are all being trained to accept less and less.

    I refer not just to pay. The trend to supplant MDs with Nurse Practitioners in parts of the under-covered rural America is another way in which people are given less skilled care but TPTB can claim health care is being provided.

    Labor around the world is pitted against one another…and that is the plan. For more information on this you should look up “Lori Wallach” of Public Citizen…she is a serious ROCK STAR on the topic of labor and these “Free Trade” deals.

  • Robert Holmstrom

    Right on, Dennis! How I wish we could go for beers!

  • Deborah Waltenburg

    Dear Dennis: I think I love you. Though the boat we’re in sucks all to hell, it’s still nice to know I’m not the only passenger. Totally agree about drawing the class lines. We need new crayons. Sincerely Yours, Smitten.

  • Merry Brandybuck

    You know what? If there were no middle class, then what would there be. Just really poor people, and filthy rich people. Without the middle class, the poor would soon become slaves to the middle class, and it would slowly become like the dark ages again.

    What I mean by that is, there would be two classes, peasants, and lords. There are the people who are under the rule of the law, and people who can afford lawyers, and buy themselves out of trouble. Without the middle class, you vile people who say “Fuck the middle class” would basicaly be slaves to a country owned by the 1%.

    Reading through this post, I tried to find something where I could find justification for the intro of, “fuck the middle class.” All I found was hate, and more hate. The maker of the post has NO reason to hate the middle class. Was it the middle class that put him in the spot he is? NO, the people who he describes in this post are simply people who did something good with their lives. Is it the middle class “bringing him down”? NO. Instead of trying to get a good job, which is what makes someone become a “middle class citizen,” this sad fucker got a job as a fucking “media freelancer?”

    This is to the bastard who wrote this shitty post. How about instead of hating on people who are doing something good with their lives and trying to provide for their familys, you go and try to do something good with your live, Motherfucker.

  • Iowa_Hawkeyes

    I would like to know what real people consider middle class? From what I’ve heard the politicians say, it is $250,000/yr per household. It is more common where I’m from, that the average household earns less than $60,000/year. My town is small. Approximately 1,331 people. Most in my town drive 30 minutes to get to their jobs. While I feel horrible about the poor, I feel like much of our town will soon join them. It’s why I support Bernie Sanders. He seems to at least care.