Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wherefore Art Thou MIDDLE CLASS?

The squeeze on the middle class escalates

I remember seeing my barber dad sitting on the edge of the bed at night, going through the coins and bills of that day’s labor.

Barbers are basic middle class America. That is how it was and is with small local, independent one or two chair barbershops.

Why else would cartoonist Charles Schultz have given Charlie Brown a barber for a father? Because the loveable little Charlie Brown was “everykid” (I made the word up. It means Charlie Brown was a typical example of every ordinary American kid). He probably never won a baseball game but he never gave up. He probably gave Lucy fits with his humility and persistence. He was “everykid.”

And barber Brown (adults never appear in the strip) is “everyman,” the ordinary person. The world of the ordinary person, the middle class, they are the hub around which the wheels of a nation turns. Call him “your average Joe Blow,” or John Doe; the ordinary guy or gal that makes up the American middle class is hurting – soon to be missing.

This term, middle class, is primarily an American democratic creation; another “only in America” thing. African and Asian countries, Europeans and Latin Americans have a tiny if any middle class population. They have the rich and they have the poor.

The richer the rich get, the poorer the poor get. The more the privileged obtain and gain, the more the poor are deprived and left at the end of the bread line. Nothing we can argue with there. (But I’m sure some will.)

It’s a world of winners and losers; the upper crust and the crumbs. That is the way it has been since the days of Plato and Ezekiel. Evidently it will always be thus till we all get to heaven – where there is a classless society from all I have read. According to the Good Book, everybody in heaven is rich.

Meanwhile, back on the U.S.A. bit of earth, the middle class continues to be squeezed harassed and oppressed by a growing oligarchy. Oligarchy is a new word for some of us. It began back when the Greeks were giving democracy a try out. Those against democracy were from the Oligarchy Party --- rule of the few over the many. In Texas we call that “rule by a few fat rich guys.”

This take-over by the few is a work in progress. Recently, this year, the American Supreme Court ruled that corporations have the same rights as an individual. Corporate personhood leads to oligarchy. This is not a new debate. It goes way back, but what scares us middle class folks is the role of corporate money in politics. Elections are won by those who have the most money to spend. My friends say this makes for an uneven playing field.

Some middle of the road middle class politically-afflicted individuals want to level the playing field, This, they claim, by introducing and supporting a brand new amendment to the Bill of Rights. It would be the 28th Amendment and says corporations are not individuals.

The New World Order, a conspiracy about who rules the world in the future, may not be a huge Socialist Government takeover. It may turn out to be a mere Corporate Oligarchy.

Either way it is difficult to think this is good for the likes of Charlie Brown’s middle class barber father.

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