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Understanding the Middle Class

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Through all the debates, speeches, and interviews, I had not heard one candidate speak about the middle class in terms that make sense to me until Palin debated against Biden last Thursday.

The political candidates have pulled heartbreaking stories from campaign scripts, depicting the middle class as deprived blue collar workers, hoping to borrow the Visa from big daddy government. Maybe it all comes down to the different mindsets of liberals and conservatives, but I am sick of people talking about the middle class as if we can’t take care of ourselves anymore.

What happened to the America that forged the way through wild and deadly land to make a better home for their families? What happened to the men and women who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps? According to Obama, we lost that ability.

Obama sarcastically attributed the statement, “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, even if you don’t have boots. You’re on your own,” to the “Republican philosophy.”

Speaking on a purely governmental basis, in the history of America, every citizen, with boots or not, has always been on their own. The constitution guarantees rights — the right to speak, practice religion, vote, carry a gun, etc. People want to argue that the constitution gives us the “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” which somehow gets converted into free handouts and health care.

What these people usually forget is that, first of all, they’re quoting the Declaration of Independence! And second of all, never anywhere, in any document, are we ever guaranteed the means to obtain those things. You have a right to it. The government cannot take away your life, your liberty, or your happiness, but they are not going to give it to you, either.

However, speaking on a purely humanitarian basis, poor Americans have never been on their own. Every citizen has the responsibility to invoke that forgotten civic virtue and help those in need. If someone doesn’t have boots, you should lift a finger, search through your walk-in closet, and hand them a pair.

My husband and I were far below poverty during our first two years of marriage. We lived without health care, working part-time minimum wage jobs, while eating angel food and deer meat. Believe me, when milk crept past four dollars a gallon, I nearly passed out. But we held on. We took out loans and grants and finished college. We slept on a futon and lived on a budget.

But we were not middle class! Tax cuts wouldn’t have helped us because we weren’t making enough to pay taxes. We were poor. And in most of the debates, speeches, and interviews, we haven’t been discussing America’s poor. We’ve been addressing the needs of the largest percentage of voters.

In Obama’s Manchester speech, he said “what [the American people] do expect is a government that’s fighting for them, that’s looking out for them. And that’s what they’re missing right now.” Frankly, I don’t understand why any middle class citizen would expect the government to look out for them because that’s not the government’s job. But the thing that disturbs me more is why the middle class expects this.

We’re talking about couples who make $25,000 to $250,000 (apparently according to Obama) a year, not citizens that work a minimum wage job down at Swadley’s Grill, not the unemployed, not the homeless. And yet, even Biden, during the first VP debate, talked about a man who couldn’t afford to fill his car with gas. What was this guy driving? An aircraft carrier?

I agree that we’ve “become a nation of whiners” as former Texas senator Phil Gramm said. We don’t want to pull ourselves up and out of debt. We’ve become greedy and lazy. We take out large loans for new, not used cars, flat-screen TVs, iPhones, and furniture, instead of saving up like our grandparents told us. We buy $300,000 homes when we can only afford $100,000, then pay interest only, hoping a good refinancing down the road will keep us above water.

We want to appear rich instead of living within our means. Then when we’re in the hole, unable to pay for a tank of gas, with credit card companies stalking like zombies for a cut, we whine to the nearest listening ear about how government doesn’t care, boo hoo.

About Janica Unruh

  • Jordan Richardson

    If that is what it has come to mean then the nation is doomed.

    Again, more dramatic posturing. What a shock!

    Self reliance is bad now?

    Actually, I put “self-reliance” in quotes and called it fraudulent. I don’t believe Americans are self-reliant in the least, especially major corporations who need government to “assist” them in creating profit and lending groups that need the people to bail them out when they get into trouble. And the only thing remotely “new” about this bailout is the size of it.

    My philosophy is not one of selfishness, it’s one of responsibility and duty

    The government in America is giving people less reasons to share your philosophy than ever before. A sense of duty towards a government and a set of policies that drown the majority of people in corporate debt is not well-placed. And a philosophy of responsibility is incredibly hollow when more is asked of the “least of these” than is ever asked of the fat cats. It may well be your philosophy, Dave, but it is not a philosophy your government shares.

    Selfishness leads to anarchy.

    Anarchy is, at this point and time, preferable to the type of fictional “trickle down” economics the U.S. government tries to sell its people on. And anarchy is certainly preferable to the class dictatorship system currently choking the life out of most Americans.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Bliffle, Name ONE person “Scooped off the streets” and imprisoned without Habeas Corpus inside the United States of America.

    Why does the “ONE person” need to be “scooped off the streets” in the United States of America? Isn’t it much worse and much more compelling that America is able to do this using its own domestic tax dollars in other countries under violation of international law?

    Seems a needless and fallacious caveat, unless the intention is merely to support your point and not provoke a discussion.

  • Jordan Richardson

    But hey, I have an answer anyway!

    José Padilla. He was arrested in Chicago in May 2002. You can Google him, but I’m pretty sure he counts.

  • bliffle

    Don’t act stupid, Clavos. It was Cannon who introduced the “scooped off the streets…” mumbo jumbo.

    Do your homework. Do some research:

    Military commissions act

    Jose Padilla

  • Clavos

    bliffle, you’re not “acting” stupid, you are stupid.

    You gave as examples two guys who were grabbed in Afghanistan when Cannon asked for an example of at least one grabbed in the US.

    Not until Jordan prompted you out of your ignorance by bringing up Padilla were you able to come up with his name.

    And Padilla has never successfully argued that he was detained illegally, though he has had a number of opportunities to do so.

  • zingzing

    oh, clavos. go out on your pleasure boat and c-h-i-l-l. please. for us all.

    that said, if i could have your babies, i would. you know that.

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    Ooooh, little nihilistic babies. That’s creepy. Why would you want some of those? Think of how incredibly cranky they would be to raise?

  • Cindy D

    ROFLOL @ Lisa

  • Cannonshop

    The Padilla case should be heard. It’s a valid example. It’s interesting that ’twas the Canadian with no dog in this fight who came up with it, and not the American.

    It’s also interesting that your primary argument ignores the fact that Afghanistan is not U.S. Territory, it’s a foreign war-zone, UCMJ applies there, not 18 USC. It is not the job of the United States Military to provide United States Constitutional Protections to non-United States Citizens outside the borders of the United States.

    This is probably a difficult concept for you to understand, Bliffle.

    If Padilla can prove his allegations, and win his appeal, he’ll be out, and some folks will be up for felony counts that are heavier than the ones he was initially convicted of. That’s how it works. It’s how it worked for Randy Weaver, it’s how it will work for Jose Padilla.

    Of course, it would work better if Congressional Democrats had not renewed the Writ of Imperium known as the Patriot Act-but then, Obama wouldn’t be able to use it to crush opposition after his inauguration if it weren’t in there.

  • bliffle

    Clavos joins Cannon for laziness.

  • Pablo

    Clavos RE 105

    You said to bliffle:

    “bliffle, you’re not “acting” stupid, you are stupid.”

    Thats quite a statement, dare I say a personal attack. I remember a few months ago, when you told me to fuck off, quiet literally on this site.

    Your a typical sort of fella that has no compunction about breaking the rules when it suits your anger, or petty grievance. I find this particular human trait very common among right wing ilk.

    You also seem to get a wide lattitude from the political editors (hey at least your an elite here bubba hehehe) regarding personal attacks as well.

    Just one question Clavy. Do you hold Dave’s hand all the time, or just at night? Your both quite a spectacle ya know, fortunately for me my voyeuristic leanings find two hot chicks holding hands much more appealing than the images you bring to mind bucko.

    Have a nice day Clavos

    [Personal attack deleted. Sorry, Pablo, I get your point, but a direct attack is a direct attack. As tiresome as the others are being, they are at least being oblique about it... Dr D]

  • Cindy D

    As I see it:

    A World United

  • Cindy D

    Electoral College: 277 Obama to 158 McCain.

  • Pablo


    Re A World United video:

    I see nice colors some lame music, and some nice platitudes on how humans need to work together to solve our mutual problems. What does that have to do with any of the current political issues of the day dear?

    Fact is the fox is in the henhouse, and soon another fox will replace the last one.

  • Pablo


    At least I proved my point. :)

  • Cindy D


    I guess you’re too young to remember the 60s (spilling over to some of the youth throughout the 70s). An entire generation + of people thought those ideas were very much the point.

    I was happily wandering down memory lane. Yet also sadly, I was looking back over the last 30 years and regretting the direction we (even I) took. Who knows, someone might even be inspired to remember exactly what is important in life.

  • Clavos


    I would venture to say that even on the issue of what’s important in life, you will find great disagreement among any group you poll.

  • Cindy D


    Sadly, there are those who don’t consider, peace, love, friendship, tolerance important to hUmaNITY.

    I know some of them. The ones I know are unhappily in pursuit of other things.

  • troll
  • Clavos

    I notice, Cindy that you don’t even list family, which to me is the THE most important thing in life and which incorporates love, which you do mention.

    IMO, family is far more important than all the rest in your list.

    As I said, I doubt we all can agree, even on what’s important.

  • Cindy D

    excellent troll!

    It surely is…a hit.

    Don’t give me that do goody good bullshit.
    I’m in the high-fidelity first class traveling set
    And I think I need a Lear jet.

  • Cindy D

    Bad link. Ah, there we go.

  • Cindy D

    But Clav,

    We don’t disagree at all. For me love incorporates family. Including what we teach those young members of our family.

    The most significant wisdom we came up with appears to be “shop ’til you drop.”

  • Pablo


    No I am not too young to remember the 60′s dear. I am 55 years old and born and raised in SF. I was there for the protests with my family against the war in Vietnam. I was there in Golden Gate Park Jan 15,1967 with all the peace and love vibes. In fact I spent most of my life being a hippy love child.

    Unfortunately all of those goals and the platitudes that the video that you referenced have little to nothing to do with the current political crisis facing our nation. Which was my point originally in commenting about said video.

  • troll

    Cindy – unfortunately this is the flip-side of funny money

  • Baronius

    Cindy, there’s an impression that the left has nothing to say other than Peace, Love, and Understanding. Videos like that scare the undecideds.

    As for the question of what truly matters, I’d bet against Clavos. You’ll find a lot of agreement.

  • Cindy D

    In fact I spent most of my life being a hippy love child.

    So, when exactly did you morph into a condescending ass who calls adult women “dear”?

  • Jordan Richardson

    Cindy, there’s an impression that the left has nothing to say other than Peace, Love, and Understanding.

    Yeah, that peace, love, understanding….fucking scary shit. Give me corporate greed, war-mongering, and baseless moral posturing instead!

  • Dr Dreadful


    No I am not too young to remember the 60′s dear.

    Isn’t the paradigm that the very people who are old enough to remember the 60s are the ones who don’t remember them…?


  • Clavos

    I heard that if you can remember the sixties you weren’t rally a part of them…

  • Clavos


    Am I to infer that you don’t consider family important?

  • Dr Dreadful

    I do remember a sixty, but my memories involve sunlit beaches, toy yachts and bacon rather than large crowds on farms and interesting chemical derivatives.

  • Baronius

    Jordan, Jordan, Jordan…I’m not saying that peace, love, and understanding are bad things. That’d be idiotic. I’m saying that the left often fails to present anything more than those as a plan. They do themselves a disservice, assuming they do have more substance.

    Consider the problems in Jerusalem. In one sense, it’s true that the only solution will come through peace, love, and understanding. But in another sense, the policies matter. Obama has taken three positions: 1, for a united Jerusalem; 2, against a united Jerusalem; 3, a declaration that his position hasn’t changed. I want a better answer than that.

    Likewise, I want a better answer from McCain about the credit crisis than “Wall Street greed”. But I know that McCain has been a Senator long enough to know that it’s complicated. We’ve had simple presidents before, but Obama is especially dangerous because he’s shallow but he thinks he’s deep. Those are the ones that do real damage.

  • Baronius

    Clavos, you made me think. An unexpected, unwelcome task for a Friday afternoon.

    I think that 98% of the world’s non-Buddhists would agree that happiness is found in personal enjoyment and fulfilling one’s potential, and aiding others in finding enjoyment and fulfilling their potential. We each may add caveats to that statement, or insert phrases like “as children of God” or “through capital gains tax cuts”, but those three things dominate most people’s view of happiness: to improve oneself, to enjoy oneself, and to leave the world better.