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Middle Classy

MSNBC had several headlines today about the middle class in America (slow news day/and or the Red Sox are almost out of it, so they have to write about something). One of the questions in one of the articles was “who really is the middle class?”, which got holySmith! thinking.

holySmith! grew up in what could be called the accepted definition of middle class: Midwest cities (metro suburbanite areas with “good schools”), Amercian cars, mostly whitey neighborhoods, not much drama or extravagance, two kids, parents who were and still are married, into sports, mostly fixed our own stuff around the house (including cars as the need came about), and mainly just practical in most respects. We did a lot of bowling and fishing in addition to holySmith! and holySmith! The Brother playing the typical sports like baseball, basketball, hockey, etc. We had a minivan for many years, then upped it to a Ford Explorer with four-wheel-drive.

So is that middle class? Well, toss the name Smith in there and I think we could be the poster family for “middle class” from the mid-1970s through the mid-1990s.

What’s the point? Well, the gist of one of those articles is how the middle class is “pinched” or “squeezed” financially these days. Is that really different than any other time in middle class history? The reason that happens is that nobody wants to be a part of the class they’re in — they always want to be at least another class higher. Classes suck, so people try to ascend to the next higher tax bracket, and some people go into much financial strain attempting to do so. Sounds pretty dumb and selfish, but as any lower or middle classer will testify, you do it to “make it better for your kids”.

Now there’s something I take exception to because if you are doing it for your kids, that means you are putting yourself in the back seat. While it is noble and true and a powerful motivator to want to make life better for your kids, you need to do it in a way that does not involve abandoning the life you want for yourself. holySmith! thinks that’s an excuse for laziness, or a semi-justifiable reason to quit and live life from the sidelines. Think of it this way: if you ascend to the level you want to achieve in life, whatever goals or dreams that may drive you; if you reach that level or accomplish the goals you’ve set, then that should do two things for you.

First, it should make you happy. Second, is sets the example for your kids to do for themselves what you did for yourself. Instill the notion that if dear old dad (or mom) can do it, then so can I. As well, if you achieve what you set out to achieve financially, then by default, you are making it better for your kids. Most significantly, if you are setting the example, you are teaching the kid to fish rather than just catching the fish for him.

Wow. holySmith! might just find himself in a classic douchebag pose on the cover of a self help book like the magna-douche in the post below this one!

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