Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Governments…formed simply by the consent or agreement of the strongest part…will act in concert in subjecting the weaker party to their dominion. And the despotism, and tyranny, and injustice of these governments consist in that very fact.”     Lysander Spooner

February 6, 2008

Drew Carey Offers Some Perspective on the “Middle Class Squeeze”

by Stephen Littau

This short episode does a great job of comparing the quality of life of middle income Americans from the past to the present but doesn’t even get into how average Americans enjoy a higher standard of living than most of the rest of the world. Even in these uncertain and unsettling economic times we are now living in, most of us are doing quite well once we put everything into perspective.

Still, I’m sure that I will see some angry responses from some readers who insist that the income gap is something that we should all be demanding of our politicians to rectify. Radley Balko received such responses when he posted the same video to his blog and offered the following response to his readers:

Look, the purpose of the video wasn’t to tell middle class people that they’re happy if they aren’t. It was to provide some economical and historical perspective to counter the constant class war message in the media that the middle class is “under attack.” It just isn’t so. Inequality may well be growing, and that may well contribute to the sentiment among many in the middle class that they’re being left behind. But they aren’t suffering, or on the verge of extinction. We’re all much, much better than we were a generation ago. We have more free time. We take more vacations. We have nicer things. We have less to worry about [...]

[…]

That the last century of unprecedented prosperity hasn’t made us significantly happier isn’t terribly surprising. We’re constantly measuring ourselves in comparison to those around us, not to our parents or grandparents. And if everyone is getting better off, everyone is going to continue measuring their self-worth against everyone else. Someone is always going to have the best house on the block, someone is always going to have the second-best house, and someone is always going to have the worst house. So long as there are classes, there will always be class envy. That everyone is getting progressively better off can easily escape our notice.

We could solve class envy, of course. We could end inequality with massive wealth redistribution. History has shown that such policies can indeed make everyone equal–equally poor and miserable.

If you are unhappy with your station in life, before you ask the government to take money from someone else at the point of a gun and give it to you, look in the mirror and ask yourself the question: “Am I doing all I can to achieve the standard of living I desire?”

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3 Comments

  1. I read a lot of the comments on Radley’s blog, and I didn’t get the impression that the commenters were asking for the government to take money from anyone and give it to them. What I did see was several people in the middle class commenting that in the past 5 to 10 years, the price for common necessities has gone up, while their income levels haven’t increased to match prices.

    What I took from the video was something along the lines of “Everything is just fine, there are no problems, stop whining!”. The fact of the matter is that the bad times for the middle class are just beginning. 35 years of bad monetary policy are going to come down on the middle class like an avalanche. You think people are complaining now? Just wait 5 years when gas is $5 to $7 a gallon (if not more), and food prices have doubled from what they are today. Then you’ll really hear about the war on the middle class. Of course the government doesn’t take food or energy prices into account when it calculates inflation, so they’ll be trying to sell us on the fact that inflation has never been more than 2 to 3 percent.

    The price of cell phones and big screen TV’s will probably continue to fall (unless the government gets involved with them), but you can’t eat a cell phone, or use it to heat your house in the winter. Our nation’s policies are going to wreak havoc on the poor and middle class. Unfortunately, the front runner candidates are only going to make the problem worse.

    Rather than telling middle class people to stop whining, I think the video should have pointed out the real culprits in the “war on the middle class”.

    Comment by Robert — February 6, 2008 @ 2:34 pm
  2. “Rather than telling middle class people to stop whining, I think the video should have pointed out the real culprits in the ‘war on the middle class’.”

    Gee, Robert, and who might those real culprits be?

    Comment by NotYourDaddy — February 8, 2008 @ 8:56 pm
  3. The “real” culprits are those whom are so wrapped up in justifying their station in life that they dont realize this video itself is propaganda. Take off your blinders and look at the big picture because we are all in it together and whether one choses to join the rat race or not the “facts” are staring us in the face. By selling most of corporate America, real estate, jobs etc to wealthy chinese businesses for political favors the very definition of quality of life has changed dramaticaly. humm Do we have the republican upper class and politicians such as Nixon and Reagan to thank for selling us that great idea or do we put our heads in the sand and blame the media again. Cheers to Lou Dobbs and his minions !

    Comment by Karen — February 15, 2008 @ 7:42 pm

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