Monday, June 27, 2011

Revolution of the Middle Class in America

Read: Revolution OF the Middle Class in America, NOT a middle class revolution. I note the difference because the middle class is not revolting. Although personally, I think it should. And should do it soon or perhaps should have done it yesterday or last month or better yet, last year.

I am referring to the most recent vote by the New Jersey Senate and Assembly which legislated collective bargaining rights of New Jersey's public unions. In particular, the effect of this legislation will be the hardest on the lower - paid workers in the New Jersey public unions. The legislation as we all now know, cut health care benefits and revised pension benefits. But the revolution of the middle class that is occurring is occurring against all middle class Americans, union or non-union.

Typically, a public union worker's family received better than average benefits. At some point, they will have to review the new plans available as to their particular costs. While they will still have health care benefits, the particular cost to each worker and the worker's family will increase up to several thousands of dollars. This is particularly upsetting for workers who earn less than $60,000 per year. An increase in health care premiums will invariably decrease their ability to spend money in other areas of their budget such as food, clothing, entertainment, etc.

This will likely have a negative impact on our local New Jersey enconomies. The less money workers have to spend, the less our consumer confidence is generally and the less local businesses will profit. It becomes a cycle of economic destruction.

The legislators who voted for this legislation came from both parties. And while I do not see a poll out yet, it appears to have come from both parties because of some measure of support from the public. The dog-eat-dog attitude has gotten the best of us.

Since Governor Chris Christie took office, he has engaged in warfare on public unions. First, with his attacks on teachers, and then on the rest of the public workers including police and firefighters.

What is shocking is the lack of outrage out there in the general public from non-union citizens. The reason I focus on the lack of outrage is because when you attack a particular segment of society, essentially scapegoating them for a particular set of ills in society, you let the powers that be crucify, justifiably or not, the scapegoated segment. The scapegoated segment then exponentially grows as it did in New Jersey since Governor Christie took over. Like I said, first, it was the teachers. Now it is all public workers. Soon it will be any middle class American.

The real problem is that the spread of ill toward toward public workers will grow to other members of the middle class in New Jersey. Remember, this "reform" that shut down collective bargaining for union members, will really only effect the middle class workers. We are not talking about reform of the high-end political appointees getting their benefits slashed. The impact is high on the middle class worker.

The backdrop is the national poor economy we have had since at least 2008. Analysts can point to many factors that can be seen as the cause of the economic downturn, but the biggest factor appears to be corporate greed. All figures for the corporate CEO's and Wall Street executives are rosy. They are raking in record profits. They have no worries.

But the middle class continues to suffer. And that is why the middle class needs to worry and start wondering how to dig themselves out. The revolution has occurred just without the participation of the middle class. The middle class has let this happen over the past few decades. According to MSNBC, the wages of middle class workers has dropped while the profits of the corporate world have grown over the last 30 years.

It has now culminated in the shameless attacks against collective bargaining rights. Next? What will be next? Will it be the end of unions? Private and public?

If so, the middle class will be powerless. Indeed, if there continues to even be a middle class. With no collective bargaining, middle class workers will fade. They will work longer hours, for less pay, with less benefits. Iindeed, the middle class has been working longer hours for less pay for the last 30 years. Even though the top executives have seen an increase in their bottom dollar, the middle class workers have not.

And so, that is the revolution of the middle class. Less pay and less benefits for longer hours. The recent New Jersey legislation will add to the revolution of the middle class by allowing unions to have less power to advocate for their workers' pay and benefits. The spread of economic decline of the middle class will grow to the private sector unions and the private sector workers who are not unionized.

It is the end of the middle class coming up. And that is why the revolution is late. Very late.

It has now been accepted by even Democratic elected leaders in our blue state. The general public should wake up to this problem instead of feeding off the anti-union pablum being fed to them. Because, unless you are one of the wealthy class taking helicopter flights on the taxpayer dime, you too will end up feeling left out. It is only a matter of time.


  1. This is all incorrect and half truths. The average working taxpayer applauds the most recent moves by the state government. But to be fair, NJ has to re-start paying into the pension system.

  2. I don't applaud the recent money moves but I understand that even fully funded the current health and pension financing systems could not continue. However, I would be applauding if there were a true shared sacrifice. The public workers will be taking home less money in what is essentially a wage cut. The lower and middle classes are paying more in taxes for less services and paying out of pocket for services their parents took for granted. But the rich? Nada.

    Why must taxes be raised on the rich? Because, despite an economy that's twice as large as it was 30 years ago, most Americans can't afford higher taxes since almost all the new wealth has gone to the rich. Time for them to share the bounty they got by screwing the middle class.