Imagine my surprise to discover the new Democrat Senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, riding one of my intellectual hobby horses around on Boston television… and falling off, to land in a spectacular face plant. Watch as one of America’s premiere class warriors proves completely unable to define what the “middle class” is, no matter how many chances a bemused reporter gives her:
In all fairness, Warren wasn’t very good at defining what a “Cherokee” is, either.
This is not a minor rhetorical point. Our entire system of government is now almost entirely based on the proposition that the “middle class” must be treated differently than everyone else… but as Warren demonstrates, there is no way to define who the “middle class” is.
There are real, quantifiable dollars-and-cents decisions (well, okay, I don’t think the cents matter much, when discussing billions and trillions of dollars) being made on the basis of something that cannot be quantified. Politicians tell us everything must be done on behalf of the “middle class”… and they reserve the right to define who that means, making revisions at the margins whenever it suits them. This is a recipe for limitless political power, and squalor.
Allow me to drag another noted class warrior into the discussion, Barack Hussein Obama. The President of the United States recently mocked Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B” proposal to tax literal millionaires by saying it was ludicrous to exempt people who made $999,000 a year from higher taxes – in effect, granting them membership in the Sainted Middle Class. Well, the President wanted to raise taxes on individuals who made $200,000 a year, which means those who earned $199k would have skated by. Why should someone who earns $199k be granted associate membership in the Sainted Middle Class? That’s a lot of dough, compared to the median American family income, which is currently about $50,000 a year.
What about people who make $100k, or $75k? They’re doing pretty well by comparison to the average, too. They would not face some of the same specific financial problems as a working couple earning little more than the minimum wage. Are they “middle class” or not? (As Elizabeth Warren would tell you under the influence of truth serum, the correct answer is, “Yes, they are… but not for much longer.”)
Even lumping people together based on roughly comparable income levels is absurd. Look at the example of conditional middle-classness Warren gives at the end of the above clip: a teacher who leaves the profession temporarily for grad school. (Of course that’s the only thing that leaps into Warren’s mind when she’s challenged on the concept of an average middle-class American.) How does that situation relate to the working lives and financial needs of most working people? The government policies that would benefit Warren’s hypothetical grad-school-bound unionized teacher are very different than those which would benefit a couple of full-time office workers trying to raise two kids. Many interests of that teacher would be diametrically opposed to the interests of that family. But they’re both lumped into the “middle class” and told to hate the Evil Rich, rather than asking tough questions about what Warren and her ideological soulmates are doing with their money and liberties.
One might expect a highly credentialed academic who has based her entire career on class warfare to have a better working definition for such a crucial concept. Historically, the best way to identify the middle class is through their economic independence, which is why socialists hate them. The best way for them to defeat the middle class is to steal their sense of identity, converting it into a weapon in the hands of the ruling class, by allowing them to re-define it at will. It becomes a magic phrase that fools everyone into thinking Big Government loves them, and has their best interests at heart. But it’s an instrument of divisiveness, not unity… as you will learn when money-hungry statists begin speaking less of the “middle class” and more of an important sub-category they have created, “working families,” which is the exit clause for every promise the Left ever made to the middle class it has worked so hard to subdue.