"Idiots on Wall Street Kicking Sand in the Face of the American Taxpayer"

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Just Another Statistic

Soon to be just another statistic, I will be a part of the percentage of unemployed. Fallout from the real estate crunch has led to the demise of my job, and although I only work part-time, we depend on my salary to survive. Already living frugally, there aren't many places left to cut back, so where to go from here?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Definition of Middle Class

Seems I'm not alone in the struggle to define middle class...

Read Matt Bai's blog.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Washington Favors Working Class

In handling the country's finances, the folks in Washington are beginning to favor - resemble, that is - the working class. As they scurry around trying to solve that pesky little problem of the Alternative Minimum Tax, looks like our politicians will resort to a tactic created and mastered by the working class: Can't pay the bill this month (year)? Toss it over into next month's (year's) pile. And it is completely understandable, their refusal to raise taxes on those Wall Street financiers. Hell, we aren't giving up our beer and cigarette money either.

That Rangel, though, he tried.

He also proposed raising more AMT revenues through closing a tax loophole that allows hedge fund managers to defer taxes on their pay by sheltering it in offshore tax havens.

Maybe the working class could take a lesson from the hedge fund managers: tax man starts catching on to your money stash, send it offshore. You know, bottle it up and stick it in the creek.

Eventually, our leaders will learn something else known all along by the working class, something Mama always said: "You can't squeeze blood from a turnip."

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Real Estate "Meltdown"

While our leaders up in Washington try to mop up some of the mess made by those devilish subprime lenders, the real estate crunch hits job and home, and we adjust our grocery list accordingly.

Meanwhile, according to the New York Post, the "high end is riding higher than ever."

A record deal was inked for an apartment below 57th Street - $31 million for a condo at One Madison Park, which has sold 70 of its 73 units. The largest condo conversion in the city's history is under way at Manhattan House. And the conversion of the Mark, which hasn't sent out contracts yet, is looking to set many new marks with units priced at more than $4,000 per square foot - including, perhaps, the first Manhattan apartment to sell for more than $100 million.

Yes, $4,000 per square foot. Really. If, like me, you're wondering how anyone can pay such an exorbitant amount for square footage, read on...

...there was a great sigh of relief when it was announced that even though Wall Street was battered, bonuses were still going to be massive (an estimated $38 billion, which would be a record).

And I'm relieved for them. Because if the "high end" is prospering, eventually some of that money will trickle down to the "low end". Right? Isn't that how it works?

Well then, could someone tell them to turn on the faucet. It's getting awfully dry down here.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

American Middle Class (In)Stability

The non-partisan policy center, Demos and the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University, recently published the findings from their study on the stability of the American middle class. The title of their first report, "By a Thread", should give you some indication as to what the study revealed. If not, read the entire report. If in the same sinking boat as our family, no life jackets at hand, you won't feel so alone.

And while you're paddling around in the murky water of middle class, read Jeff Autero's thoughts on the subject.

Definition of Middle Class

After my first post, I began to question the middle class status I had bestowed upon my family. I've always assumed we are middle class America - you know, ordinary, everyday Joes, trying to have a better life than our parents, educate our children, have a little fun along the way. And although I don't care a diddle to what class we belong, I do care about accuracy. Had I portrayed us as something we are not? Are we really middle class, or just poor like I've always suspected?

I thought this would be easy enough to answer. There's a chart somewhere, you look at the chart, see where you fall, and there you have it. So I do what any middle class American would do when in doubt. I Google it. Ha! Seems nobody knows the meaning of middle class. Bet you're thinking the same thing as me: Come on, you're kidding, we can extract stem cells from embryos, but we can't define middle class? Right, and surprisingly enough, even the politicians who represent the middle class (wink, wink), well, they can't define it either:


Every politician in the U.S. presidential race claimed to be fighting for the middle class, and it seemed a sound strategy -- until the Democratic front-runners tried to define who, exactly, was middle class.

While Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama couldn't agree during a recent debate whether someone earning $97,500 or more could be considered middle class, voters have little difficulty judging who isn't -- the presidential candidates themselves.

Bless Wikipedia's little heart as it provides the answer I'm looking for: Due to our lack of education, influence, and importance, we fall squarely in working class, the class not paid to think:

They are also not commonly paid to think, and their thoughts are not often sought by their employer organizations or clients...

If class matters to you, head on over to Class Matters.

Leaving Behind the American Dream

My husband and I have spent our twenty-plus years together striving to rise the economic ranks from working class poor to middle class. Both of us experienced meager living during our childhood years, but believed that hard work and perseverance assured us a more comfortable lifestyle than we, or our parents, had known in the past. A middle class lifestyle. You know, the American Dream. So in our early years together, as our parents cheered us on, we took on well-paying jobs, became homeowners in our 20's, housed two cars in the garage, and attempted to educate our children while providing them some of the material possessions we lacked while growing up.

Now middle-aged, we can proclaim that we are, by some definitions, indeed middle class. We live in a nice home in a safe neighborhood. We provide our school-aged son with access to a good school district. We dress decent enough, drive cars that are paid for, take a small vacation every year, and our annual income falls well above the national median. Isn't this middle class America? Are we not living the American Dream?

Yes, we are. But it is ironic that in the daily struggle to remain middle class and keep the Dream alive for ourselves, we are merely repeating the lifestyle our parents knew so well as the working class poor. As they struggled to put food on the table, so do we. As they struggled to educate their children, so do we. Yes, we have bigger homes, more possessions. But still, we struggle. Take a closer look at our family. We live in a home we can no longer afford, we can't meet our financial obligations on a timely basis, we live from paycheck to paycheck. We have nothing in savings, no education fund for our son, our oldest child has no health insurance, and our kitchen cupboards are all but bare. We live on the brink of financial disaster, and the next unexpected crisis will be the proverbial straw to break the camel's back.

We have become the middle class poor.