Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Two about the middle classes

One by Thomas Frank at Salon Plutocracy without end: Why the 1 percent always defeats the middle class "What hit me that day was the possibility that my happy, postwar middle-class world was the exception, and that the plutocracy we were gradually becoming was the norm. .... As the triumphant wingers stand athwart the unconscious bodies of their opponents, beating their chests and bellowing for some new and awesomely destructive tax cut, a liberal’s heart turns longingly to such chimera as pendulum theory, or thirty-year-cycle theory, or the theory of the inevitable triumph of the center. Some great force will fix those guys, we mumble. One of these days, they’ll get their comeuppance...........You can build a plutocratic model that will stumble along just fine, like it did in the nineteenth century. It requires different things: instead of refrigerators for all, it needs bought legislatures and armies of strikebreakers—plus bailouts for the big banks when they collapse under the weight of their stupid loans, an innovation of our own time. All this may be hurtful, inefficient, and undemocratic, but it won’t dismantle itself all on its own."
From The desperation of the vanishin middle class by James Kwak:
"The underlying problem with financial advice—besides the fact that most of it is wrong, conflicted (in the conflict of interest sense), or covert marketing—is that, even in the best case, it rarely works. The underlying financial problem that most Americans have isn’t that they buy too many lattes or pick the wrong stocks. It’s that they don’t make enough money to begin with, at a time when many necessities like health care and education are getting more expensive. "
Some of the Indian middle class that I have seen in coastal Andhra (from contractors to small landowners to bus drivers, seems a bit different. They tend to save in gold or buy little plots of real estate in towns or keep the land and real estate they inherit. The prices have invariably gone up and many of them are quite comfortable now except those who did not move from farming. Those in cities and some of the richer ones seem to be investin in stocks.

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