Within the last 24 hours, I encountered two legitimate arguments reflecting the state of our Middle Class. Our society has made it impossible for equal opportunity to lift folks out of working poverty. I defended “our Welfare State” and its recipients rather than speaking about the obvious reasons that have forced the once prosperous Middle Class to accept welfare.
Over the course of 30+ years, the social safety net, wages and dignity provided to the average worker have eroded, along with the collective bargaining power of the Unions. Most people no longer make a living wage. Jobs have become compartmentalized and few know their company’s mission. The Middle Class’s once well paid managers no longer exist. Instead, the corporate hierarchy has been hollowed out. There are no longer positions available for knowledgeable personnel at mid to higher levels in the Corporate hierarchy.
Capitalism as I practiced it in my company no longer exists. The capitalist who cared about the health and welfare of their employees does not exist today in most places. Most employees are” gigs” in the corporation, fulfilling a specific function for low pay. The corporation profits from a limited investment in employees. The profits accrue directly to the CEO and shareholders. The working poor do not make a living wage and are forced to seek any form of welfare assistance available to them.
I will no longer deny the reality of our State of Inequality. If you want people less dependent on the state, increase their wages, increase their productivity and give them back their dignity. They don’t want to be on welfare. In fact, many who are forced to take charity, government-sponsored or otherwise, are often ashamed. They’d rather be proud workers in the Middle Class.
The next question posed to me, concerned health savings accounts as opposed to Medicare for all. The questioner assumed that 80% of the population could afford these accounts. This is simply not true. With the hollowing out of the Middle Class, less than 30% of the population may be able to afford health savings accounts, and only if they saved 10% of their inheritable and working income throughout their lives. What we really need is either (1) a universal healthcare system for all, or (2) a combined system of Expanded Medicaid for children and pregnant women plus an expanded Medicare program for all other Americans.
To achieve a healthcare-savvy electorate means assuring there are primary care providers (PCP) in every community. Your PCP physician listens to your history, performs an examination, makes a rudimentary diagnosis, and if necessary, can refer you, the patient, to the appropriate specialist who can provide the best possible treatments, all within the scope of your current insurance plan. This can happen. However, training of both the patient and physician needs to occur.
Lastly, obesity was addressed. This is a multifaceted complex issue, one in which we need to stop blaming the victim and instead, examine the many causes. We know now that there are genetic/inherited factors and other neurologic issues involved in obesity, not just a lack of willpower or laziness as people were thought to be. There is a definite lack of good nutritional products in the marketplace, particularly lower income areas. Fast food restaurants and junk foods are much more readily available to consumers who have less to spend, especially our children. Much of the diet of a poor or Middle Class person is laced with corn syrup of some type. It is addictive and not restricted. The American diet should go back to basics: high fiber, butter, dairy, fruits, vegetables and meat. Locally produced vegetables and fruit are the healthiest. This too requires re-education of the public and the cooperation between corporations and communities.
Don’t blame “We the People ” for taking welfare assistance or being obese. Blame the Corporate Tax Structure that has eroded our Middle Class and produced a generation of hollowed out lost souls.
Recognize the facts and start taking steps to reverse our State of Inequality. Don’t victimize the victims! Change our culture of greed. Capitalism doesn’t need to be an end game. There are many forms of benevolent capitalism. I know, I witnessed it when I was at Ford, Pfizer, Bankers Trust, and my own business, Merit Carpets. It was a time when CEO’s rose through the ranks and were with a Corporation for thirty years, not five.
See you Thursday and we’ll chat.
“The heart and pulse of the Middle Class “