Today my husband and two youngest took the trailer and loaded up scrap metal from the junk at my husband’s job. They got a flat on the crappy, old trailer on the way back, but they had brought a spare. Scrap metal prices are down right now, but I just texted my husband and found out we got $260, yippee! We need the money for tires for my husband’s work truck. Next on the list is trying to sell some things from around the house and shop. This is the life of a lower middle-class working family. We are thankful for what we have, and work hard for it. I’m not complaining. Things could be worse. I just wonder if our politicians realize what life is really like for working class people. Wikipedia says that not everyone agrees on the definition of who is part of the working class, but it generally is made up of those without college degrees in jobs that pay just enough to live a little better than the lower class. I also found the following definition:
- n.The socioeconomic class consisting of people who work for wages, especially low wages, including unskilled and semiskilled laborers and their families.
- n.A collective name for those who earn their bread by manual labor, such as mechanics and laborers: generally used in the plural.
- n.The social class of those who perform physical work for a living, as opposed to the professional or middle class, the upper class, or others.
The thing about the working class is that they (we) can often afford to buy a home, at least up until recently, a couple of low-priced cars (on credit) and the comforts of American life, WHEN the economy is good. But inflation and/or recession will put us into crisis mode , except for the few that have been able to save up some money. The problem is that it’s hard to save money and live the American lifestyle at the same time, so many working class people use credit cards to fill in where the paycheck doesn’t quite cover things. It’s not always greed or wasteful charging, it can be medical bills or car repairs or even groceries on a bad week. But it puts people into the vicious cycle of paying off debt while still not making enough money. Yes, there are programs to get out of debt, but that means increasing your income or living a very low frills life AND no other emergencies coming up.
Politicians can usually increase their income, but they don’t usually live a low-frills life. While they argue amongst themselves over billions of dollars, tax plans, immigration, foreign policy, and who is the most racist in their thousand dollar suits eating hundred dollar lunches and then heading back home to their gated communities or penthouses, we are here trying to scrape by and survive and pay the ever-increasing electric bill. While they decide how much to increase funding for this or that lobbyist’s favorite program, there is someone who is counting the days until payday so they can pay bills. When they finish their term and get a million dollar job working for one of the corporations they helped out while in office, Joe Worker is hoping to get a dollar an hour raise to balance out the inflationary grocery prices.
I think they have lost touch with the people because most of them have never lived this life. Sure they make public appearances in neighborhoods and factories and make promises to fight for the working class to get their votes, but do they really know what it feels like to not know if you will be able to pay your new higher property taxes or to have to bring loose change to a rip-off machine to get money to buy Christmas presents for your kids? Do they know how a rise in milk or beef prices affects the mom who is trying so hard to stretch the grocery budget? Do they know that every time they vote for wasteful spending projects or new regulations that increase costs or give themselves a raise that the money comes out of the paychecks of working people who are barely paying the bills? They seem to have bought into the fantasy that the money is ‘the government’s money’ to use as they deem best. They forget that it is ‘our’ money. We the people vote for these politicians. Let’s make sure they remember what our lives are really like. But let’s also be careful not to ask them to give us things that SOMEONE has to pay for. Because that SOMEONE is US. We need term limits! And campaign finance reform! And lobbying reform. Don’t forget to vote!