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The Dying Middle Class in America

Excellent example for paper 3 by Sarah Fulcher - Fall 2010

In today's world it's hard to get by. There have been many who have lost their homes and jobs do to nothing more than a failing economy. Since the fall of the United States' economy the unemployment rate has hit a high at 9.6 percent as of November 5, 2010 (Month). With so many individuals being down and out many have had to downsize and tighten the belt. The bankruptcies claims have increased by 20 percent in the last year (U.S.) and many have had to move out of the homes that they have had for years. With all of these statistics it has lead many into poverty. Individuals who once considered themselves to be middle or even upper middle class have found themselves with a new title, poor.

Throughout the history of the United States or any country for that matter, there has always been a hierarchy of socialization that is social stratification. (Henslin) With an astonishing almost 7 billion people on this earth (International) there has always been a way to sort everyone out and put them in some sort of ranking. Whether it be by sex, race or social class we have always fit in to some sort of group.

Many would argue that the one of the most impactful aspect of someone's life would be their social class. In the United States there has always been some tier of the general social classes, the rich, the middle class, and the poor. Amongst these groups there are a few extra, more specific groups but in general there are the three, but as we continue down the road there seems to be an alarming new trend. With so many struggling to make ends meet the middle class seems to be disappearing. Many wonder how this could be. How is it that a social class that has been around for ages can just disappear? The answer is an interesting one created by selfishness and an unruly economy that won't let up its death grip around the throat of the American people.

When it comes to the different levels of social classes the idea of property, power, and prestige are what ranks us. Those of us that tend to have more of these things are higher on the class scale and those who have less are lower on the class scale. This system has seems to work for years and still does to this day but on a much different scale. Before there was always that group that sat in the middle of the rich and the poor. They don't have a whole lot of property, power or prestige but they have more than some which betrothed the title "middle class." While this was good for most and being middle class was a great place to be for the majority of the group over the past five to seven years the middle class has taken a drastic fall.

With the bourgeoisie out sourcing work to third world countries and the power elite pushing the free trade agreement many of the middle class have found themselves having to fight for their jobs that once seem to be a given. The average time to find a job now a days in the U.S. is 35.2 weeks (Plourde). With so many individuals willing to work for next to nothing on the other side of the world and with no benefits it makes it easy to outsource the work. So the CEO of the company goes home to his million dollar home the proletariat struggle on simply trying to find away to get home.

Let's take a closer look at these CEO and those who would be considered rich and what their effect on the middle class is. As the rich get richer the middle class starts to fall farther and farther down the rung. In 2009 even with the fall of the economy the number of millionaires rose 16 percent; wall the need for government assistants also went up to 40 million people needing food stamps and raising (Plourde). The only assumption here is that the majority of these people filling for food stamps are those who have not had them before. That being individuals who were middle class families or individuals. To add to this between 2001 and 2007 66 percent of the income growth went to the top 1 percent of all Americans (O'Doherty). This only adds to the frustration of the middle class, knowing that there is money being made but that it is going to the individuals at the top of the social classes. To add insult to injury these CEO and big fortune companies are making their money off the middle class by selling them debt (Warren) and taking advantage of the ones who are trying to keep up with the Joneses. The very institution that was supposed to serve these individuals is the one making money off of them and running them into a lower social class (Warren). The picture of upward social mobility has become a distant memory replaced with downward social mobility in the minds of the middle class.

Along with the greed of the power elite there is simply the fact that the American economy has just not done well over the past few years. This structural mobility has changed many lives. With the cost of primary essentials rising and the rate of wages staying steady (Warren) it seems that the middle class is playing a game of two steps forward and three steps back. Many middle class Americans can't afford to pay there mortgages or minimum payments on their credit card bills. This leads them into foreclosure and/or bankruptcy which will usually lead to falling below the poverty line moving these once middle class Americans into the class of poor. With the poverty rate being 13.2 percent this posses a huge problem for the next few years or even decades for the United States and with the introduction of a new system to determine the families and individuals that fall into poverty this number is projected to rise to 15.8 percent (Haq). These staggering statistics only reinforces the idea that the American middle class could potentially be something of the past.

As the ever growing gap between the social classes grows many wonder what will ever come of the American society? Will we simply be placed into two separate groups? Rich and poor? Or will the middle class come out on the other side stronger and determined more than ever to succeed? With so many back in school and furthering their education it is something that only time can tell. All we can do is wait and hope that we learn from the mistakes we have made in the past.


Works Cited
Haq, Husna. "Who's Poor in America? US Tweaks How It Defines Poverty. - CSMonitor.com." The Christian Science Monitor - CSMonitor.com. 3 Mar. 2010. Web. 06 Dec. 2010. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2010/0303/Who-s-poor-in-America-US-tweaks-how-it-defines-poverty.

Henslin, James M. Essentials of Sociology. Pearson Custom. Print. A Down-to-Earth Apporach.

"International Data Base (IDB) - World Population." Census Bureau Home Page. 30 Nov. 2010. Web. 30 Nov. 2010. http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/idb/worldpopinfo.html.

Month, By. "Employment Situation Summary." U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 5 Nov. 2010. Web. 30 Nov. 2010. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm.

O'Doherty, Cahir. "America's Middle Class Is Dying and the Stats Prove It | New, Next, Now! | IrishCentral." Irish News, Entertainment, Politics, Sport, Dating, Ancestry, Culture and Opinion | IrishCentral. 24 July 2010. Web. 06 Dec. 2010. http://www.irishcentral.com/story/ent/manhattan_diary/americas-middle-class-is-dying-and-the-stats-prove-it-99180624.html.

Plourde, Arthur J. "The Middle Class in America Is Dying! | Gold Coast Chronicle." Online News Digest | Gold Coast Chronicle. 26 July 2010. Web. 06 Dec. 2010. http://www.goldcoastchronicle.com/politics/the-middle-class-in-america-is-dying/.

"U.S. Bankruptcy Rate Skyrockets | MyBankTracker.com." Compare Daily Bank Rates, Deals & Reviews MyBankTracker.com. 19 Aug. 2010. Web. 30 Nov. 2010. http://www.mybanktracker.com/bank-news/2010/08/19/us-bankruptcy-rate/.

Warren, Elizabeth. "Elizabeth Warren: America Without a Middle Class." Breaking News and Opinion on The Huffington Post. 3 Dec. 2009. Web. 06 Dec. 2010. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elizabeth-warren/america-without-a-middle_b_377829.html.