WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Solid middle-class: But a memory in America?

Want some depressing reading?

Then read this column from the Washington bureau chief of The Los ANGELES TIMES about a new book: We've entered the new normal with an accelerating gap between the haves and the have-nots. Goodbye, middle-class. And NEITHER major political party appears to have the prescription to extract us from this mess.

(If you get too depressed, keep in mind not everyone is writing off America's fortunes nor the future of middle America. Some see this country's inherent resilience and approaching energy independence as harbingers of very good things!)


Posted at 8:00am on October 23, 2013 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Mike from Delaware
Wed, Oct 23, 2013 8:47am
Allan: You're right, that is a depressing article.

However, at the bottom he mentions Obama wants to raise the minimum wage and fund training to help folks get the skills they'd need to get a decent job. The article also said that the Republicans in Congress won't support such help. The G.O.P.'s answer is to lower taxes and cut benefits to the lesser than thee.

So from where I'm sitting the DEMS have a better plan than the G.O.P. at this moment in time.

The government needs to start taxing American companies that have sent jobs overseas, and give tax-breaks to American companies that bring jobs back into the U.S. for legal Americans. That would be step #1.

Step #2 is a higher minimum wage. I know folks who are working full-time [35--40 hours per week]; they have a 401K plan; a health-care plan from their employer [the employee pays a monthly premium and co-pays and deductibles], but make less than $10/hour. These folks are NOT Welfare bums sitting at home watching TV, they work full-time, the same as you and me, but aren't making enough to support themselves, much less a family. The cheapest apartments I've found [outside the city] are $700/month for a one-bedroom apartment unit. Add rental insurance, utilities, car insurance, gas, food, etc., and you begin to see the problem. The G.O.P.'s plan is to cut any of the social safety-net programs that help these working poor folks. The G.O.P. is totally against raising the minimum wage.

Step #3 Obama's correct, we need to retrain folks so they have the skills to do 21st-century jobs. I heard an interview the other day, I believe on NPR, where the bottom line was there are American companies that have jobs, but can't find the qualified American workers to fill those jobs. So there's a shovel-ready stimulus plan: Train folks so they can get those good paying American jobs.

So do step 1, 2 and 3, and that will go along way towards rebuilding the American middle class, in my opinion.

The only roadblock I see is the G.O.P./TEA folks who will be foaming at the mouth by such a suggestion.

What these folks fail to realize is that the boom of the middle-class we all lived through and enjoyed, from the 1950's till the 1980's when it started to vanish, came from the DEMS and President Truman who had the GI Bill for all those service men and women after WWII. That made college a reality for many folks who would not have been able to attend college [my Dad was one of those].

So a GOVERNMENT program helped millions of folks and was instrumental in kick-starting the great American middle-class we all have come to know and love.

THAT's what's wrong with the TEA party. They don't agree with the government doing such things. As we've watched our nation sliding more and more into the Wealthy 2% and Poor 98%, with no middle-class, it's because of the G.O.P./TEA policies.

The biggest problem with the TEA party is their members' attitude: I've got mine, too bad for you that you didn't get any. No, I'm not going to offer you a helping hand either. Go back to the slums where you belong, etc., etc.

We need policies that make the American Dream of being middle-class again a reality.

Wed, Oct 23, 2013 9:04am
The administration that supposedly cares so much for the Middle-Class is eliminating them and creating two societies The Haves and the Have-nots.

The solution to the problem isn't necessarily as mysterious as some people think. How about teaching our students some practical skills while they are in school? Maybe resurrect the apprenticeship programs in regular high schools and in community colleges. Re-invent the "tech" high schools as the place where higher learning is valued...too many "tech schools" are the last place for kids who want to drop out and their educational standards are a bit low. Many of these children have huge amounts of potential, but they are bored learning about things they aren't interested in, and many have no real desire (or financial ability) to go on to a four-year college.

I actually agree with the Democrats when they say that education is the key to bringing back the Middle-Class... I just think that this education should be practical and focused to keep as many kids as possible in the system. Students need to have useful employment skills upon graduation... a diploma without any skills is nothing but a pretty piece of paper you can frame and look at on the wall. More local community involvement is also needed to help the schools educate the children in that community...so no Common Core...think global/teach local.

The Republicans always want to lower taxes (which I happen agree with), but they need to do a much better job explaining/defending their views. J FK once said that "A rising tide lifts all boats"... now, why can't Republicans better explain that and why can't Democrats remember that one of the most admired/love Dems to be president said that?

The keys to building up the Middle-Class are encouraging businesses to build (and hire more Lower/Middle Class), and educating the next generation for those jobs offered. We also need to encourage/educate the next generation to create (think outside the box) and give back to society...not just take.

Both sides have good ideas that could save the backbone of our way of life... the Middle-Class. But, how many politicians truly care to solve these problems if it means they put their own "jobs" on the line?

Mike from Delaware
Wed, Oct 23, 2013 10:37am
EarlGrey: Some good points. We do have some good tech high schools here in New Castle County. My son went to Del Castle Vo Tech and got an excellent education in the field he'd like to work in. He went on to Del Tech to further his education and is now getting ready to go to Wilmington University to complete his four-year degree in Digital Media.

However, anything can be improved. So yes, the VoTech schools are where I also see the middle-class being better prepared to go to work than the typical high school of today, where it seems that many of their graduates can barely read their diplomas. About one-third of VoTech graduates do go on to get either an Associates or Bachelors Degree. So VoTech is no longer the schools for the "dummies". They have standards as they operate much like a Charter School. They will send you back to your "district school" if you don't fit in and follow the plan.

I totally agree the schools need to be teaching useful things. We probably should do as they've done in Europe for many years. They test the kids around the 8th grade and those whose scores show college ability go the college prep route, and those who don't go the VoTech route so they can learn a trade or something useful, since college probably isn't going to be in their future.

Instead, we warehouse all the kids in the same college prep program and then wonder why some hate every minute of school. Those kids want to work with their hands, so let them via VoTech.

Funny how in the past 30 years the "rising tide" hasn't risen all boats, just the upper 2%. I agree with JFK, and how things were done then DID raise all boats, but that was in the 1960's. Sure let's go back and revive what JFK and the DEMS of the 1960's were doing that made America work so well.

So there probably are ways that both sides can help bring back the middle-class, but as you said, how many politicians truly care to solve these problems if it means they put their jobs on the line?

THAT's one of the things about the extremists in the TEA party that bother me. They blackmail the G.O.P. folks in Congress with a primary challenge IF they don't do as they've been instructed by Grover Norquist and the likes of Texas Cruz, a.k.a. Ted Cruz and others. Mike Castle sure paid the price for not marching in lockstep with the TEA party.

Unfortunately EarlGrey, you are a minority in the TEA party. Most of the others I've met or talked with tend to foam at the mouth and just go crazy with their demands and threats, and hate-filled crap. The TEA party would probably have gotten far more accomplished if more folks in its ranks approached the issue as you tend to do here.

They need to read the old Dale Carnegie Book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People". One key thing a friend said the other day in a dialog we had with a TEA person via email, was if you're trying to sell someone on your point-of-view, you don't win him to your side by kicking him in the balls. A bit crude, but accurate. THAT's the TEA party's Achilles Heel.

They are called "Nazis" because even though they aren't for national socialism as Hitler and his henchmen were, TEA Party members act like Nazis in their approach [when some of these TEA folks speak, I can hear the Jack Boots hitting the pavement in the Goosestep]. "Do it our way or we'll destroy you." This latest Government shutdown clearly made that point to 70% of Americans who see the TEA Party in a negative way. "So what if we lost the election? You'll do it our way or we'll shut-down the government." THAT's not how you win people to your point-of-view.

Wed, Oct 23, 2013 11:12pm
Obama only pays lip service to the plight of the middle-class. The truth is that he's destroying it and it's totally intentional. How? Well, if excessive regulation and taxation on businesses (job creators) isn't enough, add his health care scheme to it and you have the perfect storm for a depression. Because the health-care scheme requires employers to provide health-care to employees who work 30 or more hours per week, many companies are cutting back to 29 hours or less in order to avoid the cost, thus creating a part-time economy.

If you think health care is expensive now, just wait 'til it's free. The Obama dictatorship marches on, spreading misery everywhere it goes.

Wed, Oct 23, 2013 11:14pm
By the way, my cousin Vanessa, who works for UPS, now no longer has health coverage for her husband because of the Obama health insurance fraud scheme. Can anyone explain to me how that is "helping" people?

Mike from Delaware
Thu, Oct 24, 2013 8:38am
Mrpizza: Most employers who provide health insurance to their employees require that if the spouse has coverage available to him/her in THEIR workplace, that they use it as their primary coverage. My employer sets a price that if the spouse's coverage via their employer is higher than X dollars per month, then that spouse can use our coverage as their primary.

So as the health-care exchanges are now available, your cousin's employer [UPS] may have decided they no longer have to bear the cost of providing coverage for the spouse. It would be interesting to find out what UPS's competititon [Fed Ex, etc.,] does [might be why they did this to stay competitive with the other carriers].

Interesting how things change. A few years ago, my employer started providing health-care insurance for LGBT spouses, but hetrosexual spouses had to be married, couldn't be shacking up. Starting in 2014, those gay/lesbian spouses if living in states [such as Delaware, Maryland, and now N.J.] that allow gay/lesbian marriage, will have to be married to continue to get health-care coverage, no more shacking up for gay/lesbian couples in those states.

Thu, Oct 24, 2013 9:20am
Um Mike...it's not the Tea Party using the "bully pulpit" to force its point-of-view or policies... the Tea Party has received the "jack-boot" treatment from the IRS, DOJ, EPA, NSA, and multiple others from the alphabet soup of this administration.

It is probably true that 70% of Americans polled believed the Republicans alone were responsible for the government shutdown... but how many in that polled group have any idea what's going on in D.C.? Jimmy Kimmel asked people on the street if they preferred ObamaCare or the Affordable Healthcare Act, and almost all of them favored the ACA while most opposed ObamaCare... we no longer have an "well-informed electorate".

"If a nation expects to be ignorant & free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was & never will be."~Jefferson

Mike from Delaware
Thu, Oct 24, 2013 10:40am
EarlGrey: This probably has always been the case, that many, if not most, voters are uninformed, possibly why the Founding Fathers only wanted property owners to be allowed to vote. They have skin in the game. Granted back in 1787 that also meant only white, European males who were property owners, but you get my point.

The idea of a literacy test has appeal, but as the South proved years ago that can be misused to keep folks [in this case, blacks] from being allowed to vote, be they well-read or illiterate. Who decides what's literate enough? The old joke used to be the South had literacy tests for blacks, blacks had be able to answer questions about nuclear physics and Chinese.

So I guess that means we're stuck with a lot of voters who don't follow the news, don't follow the issues, BUT do vote their wallet. Hurt them in the wallet and you'll lose their vote [Why no politician in his/her right mind will campaign on raising taxes].

THAT's partly why our folks in Congress keep being re-elected. All they have to do is bring home the pork to their home states and convince the voters they are the Oscar Meyer of Congress and they'll be re-elected. It's the other states' Congressional folks who are messed up.

So you guys in the TEA party can spin it any way you want, but the TEA party shutdown of the government cost the American public something like 2-Billion dollars. So when your guys rant about government spending, it rings hollow to most folks, as they'll blow a quick 2-Billion if it suits THEIR political agenda.

I believe most folks would rather have seen that 2-Billion go towards feeding the hungry, fixing inferstructure, paying down the debt rather than being part of the three-ringed circus the TEA party has been offering the nation.

Again, the TEA party needs some serious help in "selling" its ideas. As a famous salesman from the 1950's and 60's [Red Motley] said: "Nothing happens until somebody sells something". Until TEA party leaders & members sell [convince] America that their vision for America is the best plan, you're just spinning your wheels and just splashing mud all over.

Thu, Oct 24, 2013 8:55pm
MFD: Did it ever occur to you that all this accomodation of homosexuals, etc., is driving up the cost of health-care? And you're just going to sit idly by and call it "helping folks"?

Sat, Oct 26, 2013 7:40pm
The Tea Party is responsible for all the debt we have incurred since they were elected in 2010.

That is $7 trillion dollars. Instead of decreasing our debt, the Tea Party has doubled it.

The idea that they are any good for government is bunk.

On the other hand, the Democrats are responsible for decreasing our deficit $600 Billion dollars.

The wrong party is controlling the House of Representatives if we want to lower our debt.
WE need Democrats to control both houses with a plurality, and only then, the debt will be lowered significantly.

Sat, Oct 26, 2013 7:47pm
Earl. You can't fool all the people all the time. The reason most Americans say the Republican Party is solely responsible for the government shut-down is because they read newspapers, listen to radio, and watch the news on television... They saw the Tea Party Republicans say - in their own words - that they were proud to shut down the government!

Everyone knows the Republicans were entirely responsible for the shut-down.. everyone knows it.

For you to even think anyone will listen to you say, "No, it is the Democrats' fault", when you have zero evidence to back it up, and they have an infinite amount saying otherwise, is the epitome of futility.....

Everyone knows the Democrats did everything possible to work with the Republicans, and the Republicans turned them away every single time, because they wanted the government to shut-down...

They said they wanted the government shut down, and now, rightfully, they should be fully blamed for it.... Incidentally, they are the same party that cost the USA economy $24 billion according to Moody's....

Mon, Oct 28, 2013 9:19am
kavips: Your loyalty to The Party is amazing...just make sure you don't vary from their propaganda points. Good job comrade kavips.

Wed, Oct 30, 2013 12:39pm
Actually Earl... my loyalty is to common sense. Right now that is the property of only one party here in America. :) Wasn't always that way.... And won't be, if the Republicans ever kick out of the Tea Party and eradicate them out of existence... When Republicans begin making sense again, I'll support them.

Right now, they are nothing but cowardly, selfish, self-centered toddlers. Oops, almost one o'clock. Time for their bottle I see...

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