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The Middle-Class and Government

by on February 21, 2011

Wisconsin, it seems, is on fire and those on both the left and the right are rushing to defend their respective interest groups. There’s a lot to be said about the Wisconsin situation (and a lot that has already been said multiple times over…often by the same people), and I’ve been doing some reading on it to get a good perspective. At some point in the next week I may have something to say about it all.

Anyways, while doing some reading I came across an article at the American Prospect which can be read here. The article is forebodingly titled, “The 30-Year War Against Middle-Class America,” and is full of a number of interesting graphs and statistics supposedly proving the point. Here is one of them:

Now, a lot could be said about the accuracy and honesty of this picture, but my point here is simpler than that. I am quite curious to know why the American Prospect defines middle-class America as a bunch of public-sector workers? Seriously, aren’t there middle-class Americans in the private sector, too? And if these graphs are to be believed, isn’t the compensation they’re earning a good thing? I don’t see why this is evidence of a war on the middle-class. At the very least it would seem accurate to say it is a war on one part of the middle-class.

Seems to me that if we moved more public-sector workers into the private-sector everyone would be better off and we’d all be a lot richer. Of course, public-sector workers will resist moving to the private-sector not because they are so devoted to the public good, but because there are great benefits to being in a public-sector union that graphs like these simply don’t capture.

It is important to remember that public-sector compensation can only come from the private-sector in the form of taxes. One can argue that public employees provide a great benefit to our society, but one cannot deny they live off the private-sector. They’re either living off those in the upper-income levels (doubtful, since the author of this article fervently argues that we need more taxes on the rich), or they’re living off those in the middle-class (in which case it would be correct to say that the middle-class is at war with the middle-class).

Either way, middle-class America is far more than a group of public employees. It is made up of hardworking private sector workers who are entirely forgotten by the American Prospect.

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