Saturday, April 30, 2005

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Middle Class

Yesterday I finally saw the disconnect between red states and blue states as something that is more than what is read, or accents or what kind of coffee one buys and drinks. It is economic as well. Atrios had a series of post up about what it being middle class "is" and the number that was continually returned to was 90 thousand dollars a year for a family of 4. Now, it was granted in some cities this might not be enough and others could chose lifestyle changes and be happy on less; but that 90 k was about what it took to achieve middle class status: "There are still many parts of Philly metro area in which "upper middle class" is certainly achievable for $90,000 in household income. Not true for SoCal, or NY, or Boston, or SF,a stretch for Chicago, etc. In much of America 90,000 is more than enough, of course." This was said as a concession, 90 k was originally what it took to live a middle class lifestyle.

Living in the Texas, home of the deep fried wages I gasped. First, I am a social worker. Second, I work for a county government. So y'all now know I must be one of the most underpaid, over-educated human beings on the planet. In Texas, our District Judges only get paid 109,000 thousand dollars a year; the ledg is thinking about giving them a raise, but it is doubtful. 90 k is enough to put you in the upper echelons of the middle class around here, even in our big cities. Now, it won't make you wealthy but it does mean you are well off. Middle class is about 2/3rds of that, no joke, and you can live decently, not high on the hog of course; but a nice enough home three bedrooms not four, two cars, two kids, and one vacation.

The disconnect between the red and the blue states was never so apparent as yesterday, when Atrios posted that discussion. While one day I might hit a combined wage of 90k; I will never do it alone. Because, I will always work in the South. If I do hit that combined wage I will feel wealthy, because of the things it will mean I can purchase down here. But, if I moved up north? Making that kind of money would just barely put me where I am now. The value of the dollar is different. How we talk about money is different and see that money is different, and what is middle class is different.