Is America Burning - a Forum To Discuss Issues

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

AMERICA'S NEW POOR; THE MIDDLE CLASS

I have read that America will eventually become a 2 class society: the rich and the poor; that there would be no middle class any more. I am beginning to believe it.

The struggles of Granny's young friend, Alice ?, whose post Granny printed is one example of the world wide growing gap between rich and poor, with the middle class being pushed down to the ranks of the poor.Our more affluent young people who have not yet suffered downturns may not believe it, but it appears the time is coming for all.

The wealthy politicians have no concept of how the poor manage to survive, nor do they understand the increasing struggles of the middle class. Recently one of our local yokel politicians in Austin (Texas capitol), publically came out against governmental assistance for nursing home care. She announced that Texan children of the elderly could just cut out some of the inheritance they planned to leave to their offspring and use the monies to pay for their parents' care. The response from citizens was an incredulous, "What inheritance?" The guidelines for receiving assistance are very strict anyway, aid is not available to just anyone, and now the Bush Administration is tightening the noose and decreasing benefits.

Middle aged, middle class people are caught in a crunch between caring for and educating their children and assisting their elderly parents.In some cases that means four elders - the husband's parents and the wife's parents. If any or all of the elders need full time care, a nursing home is the only option. In today's economy, it is necessary for both husband and wife to work, so home care for a dependent elder is not possible.

My daughter Jo has been on double shifts for 8 years, and has worked all but one summer vacation from the college. Her work day begins when she leaves for work at 7 A.M. and ends when she gets home at 11 P.M. She supported her household alone for a year when her husband had heart surgery and colon cancer surgery within weeks of each other, suffered complications and was basically sent home to die. He lived and returned to the work force but his strength and stamina is curtailed and he is no longer able to work extra hours as he once did. They therefore have three incomes; his, her day secretarial job at the college and her night job teaching.

They have a mortgage and land payments and local taxes you wouldn't believe, they help their single-mom daughter and 2 grandchildren, because the ex-husband of their daughter moves from state to state and avoids child support payments. The daughter squeaks by from payday to payday on her salary as receptionist/book keeper at a medical office. Their son is on his second tour in Iraq and his wife and 2 children have moved in with them.

They assist me as needed and always provide their van and gasoline to take me on errands and medical appointments, a 50 mile trip one way, plus the additional mileage within the city. (Have you checked the price of gasoline lately?). Because of my health condition I have frequent appointments; one month I had 13.

My mother is 96 and in failing health, needs assistance. My younger sister lives with her and pays all household expenses plus Mother's prescription co-pays on her HMO. Recently, her co-pay on one was $125.00 and the co-pay on another was $50.00; that doesn't count her usual medications and other medical costs. I live on Social Security and cannot help. My older sister, crowding 80 years, has to maintain her business of custom sewing/design for interior decorators to supplement her retirement, and can help very little.

Mother requires a caretaker in the home while my younger sister is at work, and her insurance does not cover that expense. The burden falls then on the grandchildren. My daughter Jo sends her monthly share to pay for her grandmother's caregiver.

The regular monthly and annual expenses they must meet are heavy, and there are always unexpected extras. They have their own medical expenses and copays. They had to fill over $200.00 of prescriptions for their daughter's son at Christmas; their daughter was involved in a car accident and they paid the extra $350.00 over her insurance. Their van needed new tires and mechanical work. As any adult knows, there are always extra expenses.

They have three paychecks but life is not easy for them. Often they squeak by from payday to payday just as do people who earn half their income. For Mrs. Politician from Austin (who elected her, anyway?) I'd like to ask also, "What inheritance do they have to leave?"

I worry that my own failing health will become a burden on them. I worry about what will happen if I reach the point that I need full time care. Any new disaster, if her husband's cancer returns, or whatever, they could be sunk financially.

Ofcourse they wouldn't be in this position if they didn't accept the responsibility of helping out their own. If they refused help to their daughter and let her sink, have to go on welfare, let the taxpayers help her. If they turned away their daughter-in-law and 2 babies and told her, "make it on your own, alone, while our son is in Iraq". If they refused to help me. If they refused to help her ailing grandmother. But they don't refuse; they accept the responsibility of Family. Doesn't our President preach accepting responsibility?

At one time in America someone with their income would have been called upper-middle class, living comfortably, with perhaps a lakeside summer cottage, and all the bells and whistles of the latest toys. Now, in spite of three incomes, they are poised on the edge of the"new poor" category.

Must be a character flaw.

2 Comments:

  • At Friday, January 06, 2006 9:44:00 AM , Blogger JBlue said...

    What do they think will happen when the middle class is GONE? To society, to the economy, to crime rates, to everything you can think of.

    I posted some numbers yesterday you might be interested in, Worried.

     
  • At Friday, January 06, 2006 6:27:00 PM , Blogger Granny said...

    Julian, I moved here from San Francisco because S. F. has all but eliminated their middle class and blue collar industry. They're not doing all that well anymore on white and pink collar either what with outsourcing.

    When I look at history, I notice that when there is no middle class, there is bloody revolt.

     

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