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The Missing Class

This week, professor Katherine Newman discussed the “missing class” – millions of Americans who are technically above the poverty line but still far from a middle-class standard of living.

“It’s a fragile existence because they don’t really have the security that comes with owning a home, for example, or having a savings account, or any of the other buffers the rest of us have – and they don’t qualify for federal benefits for the most part… They can’t get Medicaid because they’re too wealthy for that. They don’t get food stamps. They don’t get subsidized housing, for the most part. So we don’t really think about them very much. We don’t even track how many of them we have.”

Most of the estimated 50 million members of this class remain missing, at least in the national discourse. In the interview, Newman introduced us to just two families from the nine that it took her seven years to write about, and all from the New York area.

What do you think?

  • Do you have stories of “missing” individuals and families? How is this class represented in your community?
  • Given professor Newman’s perspectives and analyses of a “missing class”, how can we best serve this demographic? What should the government’s role be?

  • Photo: Robin Holland


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    I have just finished watching the interview with Katherine Newman concerning the “missing class.” I found the interview very interesting and insightful. Throughout my life I was not a member of the missing class, as 20 percent of the nation’s children are today. However, my parents divorced while I was in high school, leaving my mother to raise my sister and me on her own. She had not attended school past high school and worked full-time as a manager at a retail store. Her income was low enough that we did become a family of the missing class after the divorce. Unfortunately, not long after, my mother was diagnosed with brain cancer and no longer able to work. We were fortunate, however, to have an extremely supportive extended family who are still supporting my sister and I as we work our way through college, although my mother passed away a couple of months before I finished high school. I don’t know what my family and I would have done without the support of our extended family; we certainly would have been living in poverty though. But I know that a lot of families living in the missing class do not have the support that my family had, and that is why I found Katherine Newman’s insights into the need for recognition of this class and social reform to aid them very interesting.
    I particularly found Newman’s points concerning the need for early childhood education interesting and very relevant. Considering that the typical family in the missing class is comprised of parents who are not very well educated, it is important for the government to step in and provide programs to help their children exceed in school. These parents are either not educated or unable, due to lack of time, to provide the early education necessary to their children. In order for the children to excel and not fall into the missing class when they reach adulthood, they need a proper education. I feel that the offering of afterschool programs is a feasible way for the government to help these children excel. These programs will help the children develop through additional educational opportunities and keep them out of trouble. The help with school work that the children could receive in these programs would be extremely beneficial for them in excelling in school and, hopefully, qualifying for financial aid beyond which can be obtained from federal and state aid to pay for college in the future. Unfortunately, it is still very possible that these children will not be able to afford higher education as the costs of attending college are rising and their parents cannot afford to assist them.
    I appreciate Katherine Newman’s raising awareness about this social problem and look forward to reading THE MISSING CLASS: PORTRAITS OF THE NEAR POOR IN AMERICA.

    After listening to this interview I found myself to fall into this so call “missing class”. I grew up in a single parent household with my mom working as a teacher in private schools. With three children to support and only one source of income money was always tight. Her average salary was no more then $40,000 a year, it is for this reason that we often fell above the poverty line but well below the middle class. I started my first job when I was seventeen years old and have worked hard ever since to help support myself and to relieve some of the financial stress. My mom has taken up a part time job as a piano teacher and continues to work on furthering her own education in becoming a counselor. Her hard work and dedication has maintained our household. Upon hearing this interview it was encouraging to know that there are other families out there like mine. According to Newman there are 50 million Americans who fall into the “missing class” which include twenty percent of the nation’s children.
    I believe that Newman has the right idea when she says that we need to educate those around us about the real people who constitute the near poor in our country. The government needs to step up and do better in terms of the kinds of public supports it provides, better schools, and better health care so that children who fall into this category of “missing class” have a better shot at the future. Like Newman stated “your fortune depends on how well you do in the labor market by way of your education”. It’s a sad statistic that if one does not do well in school, and does not get a college degree, it is very difficult to become part of the middle class today. I was fortunate enough to grow up with a mom who presented herself as a good role model so that I was able to go to college and make a future for myself.
    The purpose of this book is clearly achieved as its aims to put those who fall into the category of the “missing class” on the radar screen so everyone would understand that we have a large number of people in this vulnerable situation. We as a nation need to understand that if we invest in those who fall above the poverty line and far below the middle class, we are supporting the prosperity of our nation. Newman’s book is not just statistics it profiles the lives of real people. After listening to the interview and reading over the transcript I look forward to reading her book and reading about the lives of those who fall into this overlooked social class.

    I'm glad to see soo many people write a comment here that offers 'some slice of common sense'...That there 'actually are' people that 'do' understand what is really going on...
    I have said for several years if one identifies the different 'types' of people in our country (while so many seem to concentrate on race, religion, etc.), there are really only TWO (2)-classes...The 'Rich' & the 'Poor'...but here again is proof there truly is the 'Missing Class' (often heard misnamed as the 'Middle Class'). Even though they make up the vast majority (for now), they also are the ones that 'pay' for the majority of 'everything'...and are preyed-on (to the highest degree) by any corporate, commercial & financial entity that exists (from utilities to taxes to any lending activities)...What I see happening now, as it has for several years, is the 'Missing Class' quickly being transformed into the 'Poor Class'...With the priorities (of the majority) of those elected 'by the People', who've pledged to work 'for the People' so misguided,
    I know I'll never comprehend the mindset of the 'Greedy' (that seem to think their money will 'somehow protect & insulate them from 'whatever may come' or the mindset of those who lack the 'basic human quality of Compassion'...Especially as they seem to go hand-in-hand (so often) these days...
    It's as foreign a concept as I can think of and I'm certain I'll never understand either...

    Couple points.


    • Home ownership is not necessarily a sign of security. It's pretty inflexible if you change jobs, move in with your mate etc. Unless it's paid off it's really quite risky.

    • The "middle class", and for that matter, the "poverty line" are actually quite high standards. Close to what the upper class had just a few decades ago.

    • Most of these people just don't know how to save. Hundred dollar cable bills, no roommates when they first left home, irresponsible charge card usage. I had a friend who owed $5k on her Visa and had $3k in her savings account. I recommended using most her savings to pay down her Visa bill but she wanted it in her savings account in case of emergency. Even after I explained she could use her visa for any emergency she just wouldn't listen.

    General recognition that Americans have already exceeded the status of a three-class income system and reduced the nation to a two-class system, the well off and those who are income deficient is further complicated by the fact that Americans have never been taught how a two-class system works, or can work.

    Since the fundamental structure of capitalism has been based upon a three class system, Americans are unprepared and ignorant about two class systems.

    Pretending that America is still a three class system is a fallacy perpetuated even while it becomes firmly rooted in two classes, and journalists might examine the two class system to educated citizens on what to expect, and how they are expected to function in a two class system.

    Complaining about the problems of its middle class without educating for a two class system amounts to complicity of the deception that prevents society from being organized to survive upon the two class system method. A review of income in every sector from health care to entertainment to banking shows that America is no longer a three class system, and all industries are income top heavy reducing America to the two class system. Facing this reality is a social responsibility to educate all Americans who can imagine no other type of system than a three class system.

    Poor Janice Pound, doesn't know the difference between Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich.
    Paul would end the war but has no plans to undo privatization or end corporate dominance over government. Paul likes flat taxes not progressive reform. His lack of a healthcare plan appeals to "cheeries" (young healthy privileged people). We live in an age of exhaustion and overpopulation where humanitarian values exclude the dog eat dog ideas of a Libertarian wild west chaos. Under Paul the U.S. would be a poorer version of Putin's Russia, with the ruthless and organized crime in ascendance. No one has the Constitutional fortitude and integrity of Kucinich in protecting human rights, public property and a dynamic Constitution. Janice, your wish for a tax cut could mean a grisly death for poor people like me. $4.3million overnight came from a dark and ugly place.

    You want to try to get the America and her democracy that I grew up in VOTE FOR RON PAUL! LETS GET THE PRESIDENT WE NEED AND SHOULD HAVE. His tax plans,plus his plans to bring this country back to civilization are exactly the words I've been waiting to hear from any candidate. Definitely not the ones the media has been inundating us with. Common sense is his forte.

    America should adopt a tax system based on net worth for the following reasons.

    1. A tax on net worth has the largest tax base. The net worth of this country is larger than the income system, about $9 trillion, and the consumption system, less than the gross domestic product, (GDP) about $14 trillion. The individual assets of $55 trillion and business assets of about $60 trillion is over 8 times larger than the consumption system.
    2. Income is not a measure of being rich, net worth is. George Will has said that the wealthiest 1-percent of households have more assets than the lowest 90%, $16 trillion. Since the total individual assets are $55 trillion. The wealthiest 10% own about 73% of the net worth in the USA. The biggest 1-percent of corporations own 80 % of the business net worth.
    3. Taxes should be based on ones ability to pay. A tax on net worth is the fairest tax to all. Net Worth is the measure of ones ability to pay.
    4. Taxes on net worth have the lowest percentage. America’s budget is about $3 trillion. A consumption system requires a sales tax of over 21%. A net worth tax would be less than 3%.
    5. A tax on net worth is the most versatile. Besides a flat tax of 3% for individuals and businesses, there are other possibilities. Some people say we have double taxation. We could tax only people at 6% or only businesses at 6%. Since businesses can’t vote and they pass there cost on to their customers, that is the best way to go. Next is the progressive path. The first $1 million could be tax-free and increase by 0.1 % for each $1 million up to 5% after $50 million.
    6. A tax on net worth is the simplest to file. Take what you own minus what you owe. Our present tax system is 63,000 pages of loopholes.
    7. A tax on net worth is the easiest to enforce. Since this is a property rights country, all assets are traceable. Taxing only the most prosperous 10 % of businesses and people is the most efficient tax system.
    8. Like the consumption tax, all of our present taxes could be replaced, Individual income tax, corporation income tax, employment taxes, gift tax, and estate tax. Plus the excise tax.
    9. Guarantees funding for all budget items like social security and Medicare by eliminating use taxes. User fees or tolls are another way for the wealthy and businesses to avoid paying taxes. Budget items come out of general funds.
    10. A tax on net worth promotes transparency. When a company shows an annual report with a book value of $1 billion and only $10 million in taxes, they aren’t paying their full taxes.
    11. A tax on net worth promotes free trade. Money, inventory, buildings, etc. are all assets so everyone can move assets around for the best effect.
    12. Eliminate inflation. Dr. Milton Friedman said to end inflation, stop printing money. By increasing the tax rate 1%, the national debt of $9 trillion could be paid off in 10 years.
    13. Reducing taxes on the poorest 90% will raise revenue. When people have more money to spend, they buy more goods, which means more profit for businesses and the wealthiest 10%. Money flows up, water trickles down.
    14. A tax on net worth promotes jobs. Employees cost companies less since the employment taxes are repealed and therefore employees become more competitive in the global market. Small companies that create the most jobs become more competitive with large companies.
    15. A tax on net worth removes some incentive to move plants overseas. Taxes are based on assets no matter where they are located. What you own minus what you owe.

    This might help a little:
    Stop all tax with holding from the working man & woman's wages, and from the retiree monthly income.
    This tax, was to be extended, in the 1940's, but was never ratified by the Congress. So, it is an illegal tax.

    Return to the Excise Tax:
    To explain: It was used before WWII, to pay for all government spending.
    If any item you would like to purchase, you could. But,
    anything made or produced
    outside of the U.S.A would include an Excise Tax. I think we could live with that, and maybe some of our manufactures would return to the U.S.A

    Also, we must return to the "Gold Standard" so, that every dollar printed is backed by gold.

    “Most of the estimated 50 million members of this class remain missing” is very conservative number. There are over 70 million “baby bummers” who would be retire ring in the next few years. They will more than double the current “missing class”, not to mention the “forgotten class” who do not have where to turn for help and whom to ask! “One of every 4th veteran is homeless”! Mr. Moyer is able to connect the dots and to deliver the problems thanks by the support from various foundation who believe in him to deliver the issues, the truth and the wrongs. The “American Dream” has been a propaganda expression used by the politicians to get elected and to impose their will on others while passing laws for their pleasure and enrichment! There has been a need for changes! The Congress and The Senate are not going to make the change!
    How would you make the changes?
    Would you make the changes by demonstration?
    Would you make the changes at the ballot?
    Would you start to make the changes locally by a “Home Rule Charter”?
    All of the above or ....?

    No one was watching when all the lies, deceit, corruption etc were going on! No check and balances in place! I can understand the “empty dream” of the young woman working at McDonald's part time for 3 hrs and then she had to hurry to go to work at “Kentucky fried chicken” for another 4 hours “to place food on the table” while worrying how to pick up her three kids from school! She could not help herself let alone help anyone else!

    One recommendations for changes should be by “Home Rule Charter”!
    No system is perfect and self proof. There are many counties and municipalities that have a “Home Rule Charter” and the problems are still ongoing! No charter should permit that the duties of elected official be “Liberally Construed”. In a democracy, the duties of the officials should be “strictly construed”! All issues must be placed on the referendum for the “people to express their will”. The elected official must not have “legislative power”to approve any laws without the “WILL of the PEOPLE”! The elected official must not have privilege of immunity under any law! The legislative power should be placed in the “will of the people”!
    The duty of the elected official should be only “administrative duty”.
    “The Local Government unit debt Act should be repealed”.
    Amend the articles in constitution for the issues to be approved by the “will of
    of the people”. The terms of Local, State and Federal elected official should be limited to 2 (two) years terms.
    “An unlimited power to tax involves necessarily a power to destroy”.
    “The power to levy taxes – to confiscate and the Local Government Unit Debt Act has been one of the supreme power of the state”, essential for their enrichment. . THE TRUTH AS ALWAYS IT HURTS!

    Christmas is coming in six weeks. For the 70% of us with IRS reported incomes below 50K this may be the last big credit splurge before we default on our bills.Go for those Ipods and bigscreens! I think it is interesting to note how Congress members voted on bankruptcy "reform" and on predatory lending rules. And it's true, many of us avoid higher education (often punitive vocational resocialization) because jobs don't pay enough anymore to allow repayment, and it is now unforgivable "forever debt." I would like to hear Moyers hiss, "Newman" like Seinfeld, because it is true tenured academics can't understand that education alone won't make people wealthier. My education, independent and formal, has made me an enemy of the business community and the state, because I can't shut up about what I've learned about injustice. So I'm unemployable. Moyers is a tame curiousity, a corporate sideshow, in a world where most jobs enable the employer to defraud and parasite off our neighbors. Not everyone can be a park ranger or an EMT. I can understand how Palestinians feel after being unemployed 4 years straight. I'm about ready to throw rocks at the tanks, and the think tanks. We're having vegetable pizza for Thanksgiving and not watching football or parades (talking revolution instead). That alone makes me better than the mindless obedient corporate zombies who keep that money ball rolling.

    wow.
    so many who have relied here have so completely missed the point i feel i should help.
    the missing class is merely yet another arbitrary anti individual distinction for the pundits to use in denying that much of what they survive on is the unfortunate practice of so many to uncritically and unquestioningly subscribe to a maner/method of life that relegates themselves and their forseeable progeny to a cross generational inexorable slavery. has anyone ever noticed that the struggle for a "greater" share of the "wealth" has never brought even one demonstrable iota of personal pride in one's own sovereign existence?
    i hear the foolish dodge of self sufficiency employed time and again but when examined, one finds an inextricable bondage to an avowedly corrupt system of "work for nothing" which leaves no one any energy whatever to make any sincere effort to reconsider just what they either purport to be working for or even, whom?
    life and work are meant to be earned and spent on one's own indivisible joy in existence. how dare you seek to work for anything else and consider that you may have anything other than a fantastical claim to a Human Morality?
    your efforts go to enslave you and your profits are continually and perpetually stolen from you at your ever increasing behest. and you dare to call this capitlism.
    moyers himself is to be forgiven for his faux "populism". his errors stretch back at least 30years to his interviews with mr joe campbell, who was as full of errors as the best of his intellectual class but with far fewer of his contemporaries snide dishonesties about providing any proper means for a communal/slavery state.
    jeezus where is aldous huxley when you need him most? ah, still dead, i see.
    keep it up mr moyers, you are a lot of fun.
    don vance
    ::spvix::

    I think it is dangerous to categorize people into classes, when in reality we all face the very real possibility of becoming 'the missing class' - with respect to being members of that larger class of humanity within the class of all living things. Some of the 'poverty' issues raised in this discussion are in fact 'enrichment' for the planet as a whole. I am speaking of the fact that poor people around the world, who do indeed suffer terribly by comparison with us, contribute far less to the destruction of the environment when they are educated into matters of survival.

    To me some, not all, of the complaints we may have are better addressed when we face what the future has in store for us as profligates. The frightening situation in which we find ourselves as more and more of the true luxuries we have had in this country drift beyond our grasp has an up side. Forced to cut back, we live more sensibly.

    I see two 'classes', if you like. They divide by age. Those of us of the older generation were educated to realize that money is not everything; indeed, if we think carefully, we realize how very rich our lives can be independent of 'stuff.' But our children have grown up in a consuming society; they are brainwashed. They have a great fear of the unknown. They need to be educated into selfsufficiency, starting with the most mundane fact that the less you have, the more you enjoy, truly enjoy, life.

    What is the conceptualization of the proverbial American dream? Does it deserve a re-think? There is no "one-size-fits-all" solution to the squeeze working people are feeling. However, perhaps closing the gap between reality and wishful thinking is a starting place. If you gauge yourself by what you think your neighbors are doing or buying, you will never find contentment. Some very happy people have very little in terms of material wealth, but neither they do not indulge in a victim mentality or flaunt a sense of entitlement. So often I see people who bought more house and car than they needed or could ever hope to afford. Is that a formula for individual happiness? The looming issues that will confront us all include a projected doubling or tripling of nursing home residents in 40 years, and the soaring costs of healthcare, food and energy. Where else but on this show can you find much serious discussion of such issues?

    Thank you Professor Newman and Bill Moyers for giving a name / category to people in my financial situation. I am a member of the "missing class." I fall into that group of people who make between $20,000 and $40,000 a year. I work for a state university in Texas.

    A new car costs more money than I make in one year. That's ridiculous! Somewhere on the road to the American dream, the price of automobiles went through the roof, and before I realized it, cars, houses, vacations, schools, all cost more money than I could afford.

    Automakers and our current administration can keep car prices high by creating a permanent underclass of citizens who drive. It strikes me as odd that the "ownership" society initially promoted by W and his minions has created just the opposite: an entire class of people who work hard but live paycheck-to-paycheck. We can't afford to save money for our own needs and dreams, but are encouraged to participate in health savings accounts so that we will have tax free money to pay for doctor visits, prescriptions, etc. Call it what it is – a savings account for insurance companies and their partners (lobbyists & pharmaceutical companies) so that they can keep prices high and health care “affordable.” Oh puhleese! When I save money I want it to be for something I want to do – take a vacation maybe or get a new pair of shoes. I will NOT save money so that some pharmaceutical CEO can increase his or her already outrageous annual salary or profit margin.

    Fortunately, I was able to buy a house this year -- the first one I've ever owned -- and I was able to do that only because I got financial support from my family. But I drive an older model car and could not replace it with a comparable new car. And, I do live just one paycheck away from complete financial disaster should anything go wrong with the house. I'm just so grateful that someone (Moyers & Newman) understand the plight of the "missing class" in America. It's good to know I'm not alone; but, it’s disheartening to know that there are so many of us out here. Thank you for acknowledging our plight.

    Having watched and listened to the interview completely two times, I can say that I am a member of the missing class. My income is in the range of 20,000 to 30,000 dollars yearly. The community in which I live is a community in dier straights. The housing situation is a tragedy. This tragedy is a result of inflation and a lack of wages meeting the inflation. People are being squeezed out of there homes by the pressures of the economic situation not just in my community, but also in the entire state of Florida. I currently hold an A.S. degree and have continued the effort to improve myself through continuous education. I believe strongly in Prof. Newman's thoughts on Parental education and the effects that it has on their children. Furthermore, I believe that the people who are in the upper Middle class and the Upper class should take on a more responsible role in funding eduation for those less fortunate than themselves. I am the fortunate end product of a giving of educational funds which have placed me in the driver's seat to earn my A.S. degree. People like me who come from low income working class families need the aid of those more fortunate to propel individual burning with passion into a life they desire, yet cannot afford on their own ability. I fear that America may one day be sharply divided into two classes and these classes are the Upper class and the lower class (Missing Class). Now to exemplify desire and relization, I believe Benjamin Franklin will serve well. As a boy, he dreamed and desired to write. Later,he would be trained as an apprentice in a print shop in New york. Eventually he uprooted and would travel to Philadelphia to practice his craft of printing. When having arrived by ferry to Philadelphia, He found those less fortunate then him. So he had some bread that he handed to those around him. His gesture was
    appreciated. When entering Philadelphia, he too was poor, yet he had dreams and so he later would become a member of the Continential Congress, a marveled inventor and a Statesman who played a key role in serving the American Revolution. As a tribute to him, the U.S. mint placed his face on the hundred dollar bill. Now that says a lot about individuals who have dreams, yet they need help in making them come to life.

    Well there is the FREE healthinsurabce from THE GOVERMENT :
    THE HILL-BURTON ACT of 1947
    go to: www,hrsa.gov/osp/dfer
    or call 800-638-0742..in Michigan call 248-652-8781
    for free and lowcst drugs www/institutedc.org or write Institute Fulfillment Center. Booklet PD-40 P.O.Box 210 dallas.PA 18612-0210
    On the MISSING CLASS...To the Christian Leader
    ARE YOU NOT YOUR BROTHERS KEEPER?
    I dont want to hear anymore going to Africa to help the people over there, for 40 year my church build 100 churches in africa send clothing, fodd etc...Only to be kick-out by the new Leaders..SO Charity begins at HOME..THAT IS AMERICA...rigthnow the Dollar is only worths 0.67 cents ..so Uncles Sam and Congress give us the 200% increase in our SS.check we have to save our local Economy and our grandchildren..NOW
    love your counrty

    Thank you for a segment full of insight and texture.

    I thought you would be interested in an update on tax reform in Alabama. Starting last January, Alabama was no longer the only state that imposed the income tax on a family of four making only $4,600 a year. Thanks to the work of Rep. John Knight, Gov. Bob Riley, and the anti-poverty coalition Alabama Arise, the threshold was lifted to $12,600 for a family of four. That put Alabama's threshold at fourth from the bottom -- until Hawaii realized that Alabama has passed it -- and other states near the bottom started acting. Now Alabama is second from the bottom.

    Even as Gov. Riley was signing the bill, we realized we had taken only a first step. Taking the threshold to $12,600 puts us over half-way to Mississippi's threshold of $19,600.

    Dr. Newman is right that Alabama's previous attempt at tax reform was soundly defeated. Even though the plan would have lowered taxes for most people, voters were skeptical because the plan was constantly described as a $1.2 billion tax increase. We believe that future tax reform needs to start with revenue-neutral restructuring -- so that those headlines can't call it a tax increase.

    Last year our state moved to action when Kentucky's tax reform left us as the only state with a threshold below $10,000. This year we got our leaders' attention again after we learned that Arkansas' reforms made us one of two states (along with Mississippi) that still tax groceries fully. By putting a popular grocery tax reduction and a revenue-neutral income tax restructuring on the ballot together, we hope to overcome the voters' hesitation to pursue tax reform.

    Finally: Bill, we didn't realize we were quoting Reagan when we argue that Alabama should not tax people deeper into poverty. It makes a convincing theme!

    Dear Mr. Moyers,
    I feel dispirited about the state of our country, even though I am a very successful Iranian/American woman(I started with nothing), but I have a conscience. All I can do is vote according to my conscience and be active as much as I can be, I also help my family and give to charity. What really bothers me is that people only see the headlines and have no clue what is really going on in our country. I just talked to a 54 year old friend who makes about $32K a year and is really worried about her financial situation, however, she told me "hey, the economy is in good shape, look at the employment rate, it's really low", I had to bring it to her attention that the middle class is disappearing and point out to "her situation". Americans went shopping after 9/11 and are living in a la-la land. Things are not that good out there, if you just read between the lines. Thank you for your program, and others like yours, I can stay informed. I am also worried about what is going on in my neck of the woods...now with Pakistan falling apart, Turkey talking about attacking Iraq and Bush thinking about attacking Iran, I am getting even more depressed. Where does this end? I don't even want to live in the U.S. anymore, but where do I go? I hate the Mullahs so I can't go to Iran, they will probably kill me if I do, anyway. Right now I live in Switzerland with my partner, but I don't really care for the Swiss either.
    LOVE your prgram.
    Thank you for doing a fantastic job at educating me.

    Dr. Riane Eisler recently wrote a book entitled: Real Wealth of Nations...creating a caring economics. She addresses so many of these issues--as well as outlining solutions. PLEASE interview her Mr. Moyers--
    This book is extremely well-researched (she also wrote Chalice and the Blade--an international bestseller in the late 80's). www.rianeeisler.com and the blog is www.realwealtheconomy.com

    I am part of the missing class you speak of, and in fact most in my rural community fall into that category. Why aren't we more politically active? When your whole goal is to put food on the table or pay the rent - and the politicians who are supposed to represent you are focused on the very poor and making 200k plus salaries, you give up.

    We are ignored because we remind the lower middle class how close to the edge they live. I'm tired of hearing how college will solve the problem. Most of my co-workers have graduate degrees and PHDs - and are standing at the counter of Dept stores, cashiering at grocery stores and given up on the "American dream". Own a house? We're lucky if our cars survive the week due to age and inability to afford things like oil changes, tires etc.

    One paycheck away from ruin? How about one auto accident away from devastation because an insurance company wants to play the delay game? Time lost from work, medical bills piling up (health insurance - what's that?) or even loss of job. Add in a case of cancer partially brought on by stress and inability to afford all the healthy food we're told about and you have a good view of the "average" American. Savings? Need spare money for that and every dollar goes to survive. Credit? gotta be kidding me, most insist you make over 25 - 30k a year.

    India has a term for the "missing class" - it's called the "untouchables".

    America - the dream has died for your people.

    What can be done to change such a corrupt system.
    Suggestions will be appreciated.

    Suhas

    Newman's work and Moyer's empathy is valuable but I'd like less case study and more analysis of policy issues...be careful of the use of "those people" when you argue that most people are one illness away from losing their footing...its time for a story on the rules for getting ahead which include much more than the use of one's labor (no longer adds much value), risk (which means access to venture capital, access to inside info and innovation skills (not taught in the NCLB era) and more...

    I found the interview 'Bill Moyers Talks with Katherine Newman' interesting. I also find the comments posted on this blog as well as the interview rather disappointing. Everything is about money. And/or income....

    Bill tells us about his experience growing up in Texas and how there was a support group available to assist his family with the trials of the times. I also grew up in Texas and was poor. I do not see the problem or cause in the same vein as expressed by Bill Moyers or Katherine Newman. I do not think poverty is or was the problem. But a cause that needed an identity.

    I don’t disagree that all those things exist in our society and that they are a problem. What I do disagree with is the solutions offered to solve these imaginary problems. These solutions for the past 40+ years have made the problems worse.

    The minimum wage law is the biggest problem of all. It is a solution that failed to solve any problem. Please tell me where the ‘MWL’ has improved the lives of anyone. The ‘MWL’ is inflationary. In the end the working poor are worse off. The inflation it has caused has hurt the very people it was setup to help. All we got from it was higher prices and greater unemployment.

    Although we did get a flood of immigrants from South of the border which were made legal during the term of Ronald Reagan. But that did not halt the flood of immigrants across our border. The estimates today are about 25 to 50 million (or more) illegal immigrants are in this country. The ‘MWL’ looks pretty good to some young person working in the fields in Mexico or elsewhere south of our border.

    Look at the history of the ‘MWL’. It went into effect in 1938 at 25 cents per hour. It did not have any measurable impact on our economy until 1961 when it was increased from $1 ph. to $1.35ph. Many employers were unwilling to increase prices to justify a 35% increase in this type of labor. The end result was that the entry level employment was not hired in the same numbers as had been the practiced in previous years.

    That first summer in 1961, the youngsters who would be seeking their first job, found the jobs were few and far between. In California, they headed for the beach where they were introduced to the ‘drug culture’. They gave us the ‘flower children’ and later ‘hippies’ and ‘pot’. Timothy Leary offered us ‘LSD’ to ‘drop out and tune in’.

    There were several forces in motion at that time. The GI’s who returned after the Second World War married women they hardly knew and many divorced almost as quickly. The children were left with the mothers and the men moved on. Child support was almost non-extextant. The mothers had to work. The term ‘latchkey kids’ came to describe the children who would return home to an empty house. These kids were part of the ‘baby boomers’ that are turning 60+ at this time.

    The ‘MWL’ has changed the focus on life to money. If you will compare the costs of things in 1960 @ $1 ph., to similar items today, you will find examples of the inflation that has occurred over these many years. Congress received about $50K in 1960. Compare that to what they receive today. A Corvette cost about $2,500 in 1960 and it starts at $25K in today’s terms.

    The entire focus today is about money. As we have raised the ‘MWL’, our school system has failed. Unions go out on strike for more money every day. The stock market did not pass the 1,000 mark until the term of Ronald Reagan in the eighties and in 2007, it passed 14,000. In the 60s CEOs were not making 10s & 100s of million dollars in a year. This is what I mean by the focus on money.

    We have a couple of generations who only know the ‘MWL’ and have grown up with this dependence on government. And Bill Moyers tells us how there was a network of helping hands from friends and neighbors when he was growing up. I suggest Bill Moyers is probably one of the biggest supporters of such social welfare programs as the ‘MWL’. I suggest the ‘MWL’ is a failure and should be abolished.
    R.H.Smith

    I found the "Missing Class" informative. One thing I found missing was when news folks talk about education they talk only about college. Goodness, what a missed opportunity to inform folks about Techncial Schools throughout these United States. We need to keeping pressing the news media about this opportunity.

    People,

    Freedom, Democracy, the Republic is in it's final death throws.

    Listen to Alex Jones now!

    VOTE FOR RON PAUL
    Enough said.

    There are several reasons why we have a poor class and “The Missing Class” and a struggling middle class. Three reasons follow: Sell-out politicians, phony trade agreements, and sky-rocketing health care costs. Please read on.

    There is a solution to our nation’s health care crisis. It is HR 676, the United States National Health Insurance Act.

    Before describing the benefits in the bill, however, let’s dispel a few myths about a couple of other issues.

    Expenditures in the United States on health care reached $2 trillion in 2005, almost three times the $696 billion spent in 1990. To suggest that huge increase is the fault of undocumented residents is akin to playing three-card Monty. You’re guaranteed to lose.

    Just as Baskin-Robbins has flavors of the month, unscrupulous politicians, corporate America, hate-media, and the minions that follow them have periodical scapegoats.
    Their “flavor” these past few years has been latino.

    The politicos need scapegoats. They need to cover their sell-out of America’s working class by creating “demons”. Since 1993, Mexican workers have seen their purchasing power plummet by 50%. 50%! How would you be faring today if your income was 50% less than in 1993? Well that’s what happened to workers in Mexico.

    How did it happen? NAFTA – the North American Free Trade Agreement. Who passed NAFTA into law? A Congress that now wants to dupe you again by shifting the blame for the devastating consequences of NAFTA onto their scapegoat of
    convenience…latinos.

    Congressional three-card Monty goes something like this: Distract the suckers and then take their money…or job…or pension…or health care…or security…and blame someone else.

    NAFTA, WTO, CAFTA and other horribly-flawed anti-worker, anti-union “free” trade agreements are products of “globalization” we are told. By whom? You got it! By the very troika of politicians, corporations and a duplicitous press that lied to you about them in the first place!

    By allowing the powers that be to divide the 90% of us who make up the working class is to invite more of the same. Remember the words of Nazi victim Pastor Martin Niemoeller, “And then they came for me – and by that time no one was left to speak up”.

    Before moving on, answer this question: What wouldn’t you do to feed your family?
    Would you migrate? Would you “break the law” in order to feed your family? If we allow ourselves to look at the issue from a personal perspective we’ll discover that wanting to work is neither a sin nor illegal.

    The other issue is the bogey-man of “socialized medicine”. Cheerleaders for our current – and failing – health care system want to scare you. They talk about “government run medical care”.

    As a matter of fact, there are some pretty beneficial “government” programs. There are fire departments. There are police departments. There is Medicare, and interstate highways and garbage service, and parks, libraries and schools. How do you want it? Would you rather pay premiums to a private fire department for fire protection, or do you like things the way they are? Same for police protection, or schools, highways…you get the picture. How do you want it?

    Now to the nitty-gritty. The answers to why only about 100 politicians in Washington, D.C. endorse HR 676 are two-fold:

    1) They have their hands buried deep into the pockets of insurance companies, and pharmaceutical firms, and for-profit hospitals. Those outfits cough up BIG campaign contributions [and other “perks] so that Congress will maintain the $tatu$ quo.

    2) They are “ideologically challenged”.

    HR 676 means you can go to your own doctor, or the hospital of your choice. Anytime, anywhere….for everyone!

    HR 676 covers all medically-necessary procedures…in-patient, out-patient, dental, vision, mental health, long term care, recovery programs, prescription drugs…for everyone…anytime, anywhere!

    And get this: There will be NO deductibles. There will be NO co-payments.

    How will it be financed? Here’s how: We cut out the middle man. We cut out huge administrative costs and profit taking. Gone will be the day when companies like UnitedHealth Group can reward its CEO with $1.6 billion (yes, billion!) in stock options.

    They will be a slight tax increase for the richest 5% in our nation. (Please, please, don’t shed any tears on their account. Their remaining personal fortunes (numbering into the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars) will see them through a few hundred winters

    There will be a slight transaction fee on the sale of stocks and bonds.

    Current money being spent for health care, like Medicare and Medicaid, and VA, and SCHIP will be folded in.

    Employees will pay a 4.75% payroll premium.

    Employers will also pay a 4.75% payroll premium.

    Here’s an example of how much coverage would cost for a family of four:

    Let’s say the yearly income is

    $40,000 (4.75% of 40,000 is $1900, or $158.33 per month)

    $50,000 (4.75% of 50,000 is $2375, or $197.92 per month)

    $60,000 (4.75% of 60,000 is $2850, or $237.50 per month)

    $70,000 (4.75% of 70,000 is $3325, or $277.08 per month)

    $80,000 (4.75% of 80,000 is $3800, or $316.66 per month

    etc., etc., etc.

    The above figures cover a family of four…they are not per person. For everything. Anytime, anywhere, for everybody!

    Unemployed? Don’t worry, you’d be covered. You’d receive the same level of benefits and care as a millionaire or anyone else would receive. HR 676 is a moral solution, and is intended to provide medical care for everyone.

    Under-employed? You’re in! And your pockets won’t get turned inside out!

    Low-income? Ditto!

    The answer is a bill sitting in Congress. It is HR 676.

    And everyday your Member of Congress just lets it lay there gathering dust, he or she is selling you down the river. They are tossing you overboard in exchange for generous campaign contributions from hospitals, and the American Medical Association, and drug and insurance companies.

    Everyday 18,000 people die in our nation because they cannot afford th health care they need to stay alive. 18,000!

    And what is Congress doing? Trying to divert your attention away from them, and onto their current latino scapegoats.

    If you continue falling for that you’ll literally fall for anything. Don’t let them get away with it.

    For more information go to www.UFHC.org or www.Healthcare-Now.org


    I would like to echo the sentiments expressed by other writers that it is not just those who did not have a chance at an education who are having a financial struggle in this economy.
    I live on Long Island, and a generation ago, as a beginning school teacher, married, with a baby on the way, my wife and I were able to afford a small house in Suffolk County.
    My wife did not have to work outside the home,and, although we were far from well-to-do, we were able to make it on just my salary. That was in 1973.
    Long Island was built on the ability of average wage earner to become a home owner, and be able to live a middle class life- style. One just has to be familiar with the post- war housing development of Levittown to realize how true this was.
    I retired a few years ago from the schools with something called a "pension"- that's P as in peter, E as in Echo...etc.
    And.... wait for it.... health insurance!
    But I started working before the Reagan "the government is the problem" economy.

    It’s nice to know that we now have a label “The Missing Class,” maybe now something can be done.

    There are many and growing problems with our society, our country and the rest of the world too. I look to Bill Moyer’s Journal to get an insight into some of these; and to these blog comments to see how others are responding to them. Of late I have noticed that Bill’s stories tend to be pale 2-dimensional portrayals, more like a photo snapshot of the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls or a Hawaiian sunset; they don’t do justice to the real thing or the real issues. The probing question(s) are not asked, a recent example was Bill’s interview with Charles Fried stating that the president had rights that congress could not assail, the begging question was for Fried to name these rights and point to articles in the constitution that granted them, but Bill let it slide. In many, if not most of BMJ stories Bill plays the role of the visiting uncle disinterestedly querying the niece or nephew about their role in the school play; in a word, dispassionate.

    In the Missing Class story some questions that came to me were; what is the growth rate of this segment of our society; what are some of the ramifications to the rest of our society as this segment grows and our individual spending power declines, taking the tax base with it?

    Humanities desire for ever more and cheaper goods have driven manufacturers to find the lowest cost methods of production. This in turn has sent jobs overseas, broken labor unions at home, encouraged ecologically unsustainable manufacturing processes (if not out rightly harmful), all in the name of greed, both for corporate profits and personal materialism.

    Between global warming, demise of the bees and the fruits and vegetables they pollinate (Frontline and 60 Minutes this week), and the economic slide of out indebted and overweight nation it is going to be a real race to see whether we become a third world nation from our own actions or the result of the impending global environmental forces.

    Supply side economics does work--for the rich. It seems like the people who praise this system are the ones who benefit most from it.

    Warren Buffet calculated the tax burden of some of his employees, which included clerks and secretaries. He figured that he paid the least in taxes as a percentage of income.

    A generation ago, it was just the opposite. The top tax rate was 90%. Income above $3 million was taxed at 90%. This had the effect of holding down CEO salaries, which kept their wages closer to their employees.

    Some CEOs make over $1 billion and only pay 15% capital gains taxes. This is outrageous.

    Our system of taxation needs to be reformed. It seems like those making $50000 or less should not have to pay any taxes. It is difficult to support a family on anything less than this.

    There's a devil in the white house and he's painting it red
    With the blood of all the people who believed what he said
    So they went to fight his battles and they ended up dead:
    There's a devil in the white house and he's painting it red.

    What a leader needs is wisdom, and the one who is smart
    Studies lessons learned from hist'ry, and he takes them to heart.
    There are lessons on the bookshelf, if the devil would look,
    But he's much too busy leading to be reading a book.

    Now the devil is a Christian and he prays as he kneels
    For the people who must choose between prescriptions and meals,
    Then he counts the many blessings from his lucrative deals.
    (Don't expect a millionaire to know how poverty feels.)

    Though his allies look with horror at Guantanamo Bay,
    He has super power powers, so he gets his own way.
    Ask him how to justify it, and he'll probably say,
    "If I redefine what torture is, well then it's OK!"

    Now the devil's reputation is for giving us hell,
    And in this administration he had done very well:
    When it comes to sending kids to war he's top of his class;
    After hurrican Katrina he just sat on his hands.

    What's the answer to this problem, you democracy fans?
    If the candidates won't tell us of their devilish plans
    We could vote, without us knowing, for the end of the earth!
    If the President's a liar, what's democracy worth?

    I appreciate Professor Newman's attempt to bring attention to this situation that so many of us are in. However I am a SINGLE MAN and I was BORN HERE in the United States as were my parents. I SPEAK ENGLISH as my parents, and grandparents did. Many are not struggling immigrants. I certaining am NOT MISSING as I fall under the same situation as many others who have worked hard his entire life, paid my taxes despite my health problems, only to be denied health coverage and insurance because of a genetic disease (Cystic Fibrosis). I had even paid health coverage premiums in which I would NOT benefit from the insurance because of a "preexisting condition". I am now 42, and had to take disability as I cannot breath. I had to wait to get Disability income, get treated as if I were cheating the system, wait to get on Medicare, and hope I did not get any sicker until then. I am not elgible for Medicaid, and other assistance because my disability income is $100 more than the cutoff for those programs. That is what I get for working hard and try to be personally responsible for my 'pursuit of happiness'. I had not the opportunity of marriage, or a family of my own when my health care, taxes, and living expenses consumed all the money I made. When I graduated high school, I was denied PELL grants, and college loans as they said my father could not have had a net loss on the farm. That is what I call 'a system stacked against me.' And now since I had paid share of taxes, and premiums I cannot get the medicines and care I need. I continue to pay the government Medicare premiums and the co-pays on my Medicare Prescriptions is over $7000 a year which is half of my annual income.That is regular meds used daily. It doesn't even cover the most important drugs I need, even when it said it would. Medications cost per year $94,000or more. So now Hospitals, doctor offices, and collection agencies are pounding on the door trying to get the last few crumbs I have to eat on. The only thing "missing" is enough food to eat, money to pay the electric bill to keep the oxygen machine running. and any hope to get the lung transplant I need to live longer in the poverty and hopelessness I live in now. P.S. I am having to save up money to get the lung transplant...And by the way my brother is now MISSED as he died last year at the age of 44 from the same situation.

    Both stories tonight were so very interconnected that I thought they focused on a paradigm that I have been distraught about since the Reagan years, and I suppose that can be expressed in this manner: Is the inexoral downward slide of American idealism and progress on all economic, constitutional, and ethical fronts a self-perpetuating cycle that can never be broken? The massive inevitable failures of the system both at home and abroad that will occur irregardless of any action or inaction on anyone's part by the summer of '08, next year's election, and the aftermath of the election seem to be crunch time on this question. We will find out if there is any hope for the nation at all or a migration back to Europe or to other western nations such as Canada or Australia will begin. To any Republicans that read this please don't bore us with the empty message that supply-side economics or neo-con philosophy is any kind of rational answer to the nation's problems or that compromising with Bush is the answer to current impasses, as if he's ever compromised with anyone during his entire administration. Your party is heading to oblivion and you might as well start getting used to it. To any Democrats I ask will we hold the party and the next administration to its promises or will opportunities slip through our fingers due to lack of confidence and conviction as they always do? And to independents I implore you, this is probably our last chance, the last of my lifetime(and I figure I have 45 years left) to maybe get things right. Don't be fooled again.

    How can the wealthy like Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch (both doing philanthropic work in Africa along with Bill Clinton!), Oprah and so many celebrities justify this?

    Do they fool themselves into believing they are good people because of doing philanthropy? Does it absolve them of the guilt of being exorbitantly wealthy?

    Of course, if they dared apply ethics and logic they'd have to admit it can not be so! According to David Korten, author of "When Corporations Rule the World", the top one percent of Americans receive more income than the bottom 40 percent. Even a decade ago Bill Gates' wealth alone was already worth more than the bottom 110 million Americans (http://www.endgame.org/primer-wealth.html). Many unfortunate people have no luxuries like Gates, Murdoch and so many others whose accumulation of wealth was a result of heritage, lucky breaks or investments more than of working hard.

    And now there's "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrnes for the desolate to put their faith in. It's based on the book "The Science of Getting Rich" by Wallace Wattles. The idea is to focus on wealth--so they are told--and to truly believe they will get checks in the mail instead of bills. If they do that it will become reality. It's the law of attraction!
    "There is nothing wrong in wanting to get rich..The man who does not desire to have money enough to buy all he wants is abnormal" says Wattle and believed when he wrote it(in 1910)that "Nature is an inexhaustible storehouse of riches; the supply will never run short."

    How much longer should hard working people believe in the myth that by working hard they will be rewarded somehow, someday with living the American dream? Is it not time that people unite and speak out collectively against the injustices happening in this country right now, including NCLB which brought about the elimination of recess and even playtime in kindergarten classes? All this in the name of prepping kids for the global economy in which even more jobs will be at risk of outsourcing. Not only are jobs outsourced, but various products such as heavy machinery (tractors from India), even airplanes (made in Brazil for JetBlue)are being "insourced" . All this will result in the loss of even more jobs.

    I appreciated the segment tonight on the "missing class". I grew up in a family that would be termed that today, and despite my best efforts, I am in that situation as well.

    Things, however, could be a lot worse for me, so I consider myself to be grateful for what I have and what I work for.

    I have a BS in Business Management, and worked several years in the retail and banking industries to pay my own way through college. It took longer, but my education was too important for me to be dependent upon someone else's money.

    After the sudden death of my husband, I faced a number of personal trials, but have come through them.

    I can now honestly say I have the greatest job in the world: I teach the children in a public school dominated by poverty. I do not make much money, but the benefits are good, and the kids are great.

    The school I work at is bucking the system to produce literate children, provided the parents can keep their children in our school long enough for the educating to occur. Many get evicted and the children disappear.

    We also have after-school tutoring, handled by the teachers and paid for through our local YMCA. This also includes a computer club to enhance their education in technology.

    Given my business degree, I also give the students some basic lessons in finance, namely the value of an education. This is what I would personally consider my biggest contribution, and I am confident that the enterprising students will take in the lessons they are learning and do great things with their own futures.

    While I did not take offense at the examples and discussion given in this program. I do agree with fellow posters that point out how this program missed the mark when it implied that the missing class is only made up of uneducated people.

    I am 52, single, self employed, female. With a college education and 24 years experience in my field. My industry has been devastated by technology turning what I do into a commodity. Businesses of all kinds give my services away for free in order to sell their products. I started out to build a business and planed to hire employees by this time but now I am living from project to project and barely able to keep out of the “missing class.”

    I do have some assets, a home a car and a little inherited property. But, I pay one tenth of my income in health insurance that I am afraid to use because I would be un insurable next time I need to change companies when the rates go up beyond my ability to pay. I have great fear for the future with Social Security in question, which I have already paid six figures into, I have not been able to pay anything into my piddling IRAs for 7 years. I am wondering what in the world I can do to provide income for myself over the next 20 years.

    But I am grateful for what I do have, and know I am much better off than many, many people. That there is something terribly wrong in American society is with out question.

    I applaud Bill Moyers and Katherine Newman for bringing additional attention to the rising tide of America's working poor who struggle to live, work, and raise their families here in the richest nation on earth.

    But, truly, many of "these people" (such a polarizing term) are NOT non-English speaking, minority, uneducated, or unskilled. As a white woman who was blessed with a solid middle class upbringing, college grad parents, and not one but two four-year degrees of my own, still I've spent most of my 15-year professional career grossing significantly less than $45K annually, generally with few benefits, while divorced and supporting two young children. The $20-35K salary range is, sadly, not at all unusual for similarly well-educated workers living in my small, Midwestern city.

    Tonight's segment clearly was focused on individuals far more disenfranchised than myself who are facing greater challenges with fewer social/familial supports in place; they are indeed fragile. Still, it would have made a more powerful story had Mr. Moyers and Ms. Newman done a better job of acknowledging that the millions of "these people" in this country are in fact a much broader and better educated group than was implied. We are everywhere.

    The story began and ended by calling for the issues facing the near-poor to be taken up in the American political debate and presidential campaigns.

    It is therefore baffling that you failed to mention to your viewers that Sen. John Edwards wrote the forward to Professor Newman's book -- and that the 3 major policy recommendations that are made in the book, 1) universal health care independent of employment 2) access to affordable higher education and 3) reliable, safe day care for working parents are all center-pieces of Senator Edwards' campaign platform.

    Moreover, the other issues that were raised in the discussion -- higher wages, improving public education, affordable housing, credit at non-predatory rates -- are all central to his proposals to end poverty in the next generation. These proposals are discussed in detail on his website.

    I can understand why you would want to avoid what might have appeared to be an endorsement but a) you failed to tell the story adequately when you said the "missing class" is being overlooked in the political debate and even more importantly b) you missed an important opportunity to educate your viewers who do want to choose to vote for policies that will address these problems.

    In an economic environment as wealthy as ours, there should be no need for income redistribution by government.

    What does it say about us that our systems are able to produce billionaires, but not provide a living wage to people willing to work 40 hours a week?

    Great story. But I wish Bill had said that the Congress and the President should work out a deal for SCHIP, instead of saying the President vetoed a bill that would help all these people - speak the truth Bill

    Unfortunately, the "Missing Class" issue and the immigration issues are not solved by simplistic one-track solutions. To attack the illegal immigrant on the basis of their breaking the law without asking just exactly what Americans are complicit by employing them and why, and without addressing trade laws dominated by the US that dispossess Mexicans to the point of forcing them to leave their families for survival, would make a cheap and easy program to put together but which would ignore important realities we need to know in order to make an educated decision on the matter. We are, after all, a democracy. And that requires some thorough understanding of all aspects of the problems we vote on on how to solve.

    "These people ... these people ... these people ... these people" -- after hearing that damnable phrase at least a hundred times in the course of this presentation, I was ready to vomit. The only thing that in any way redeemed the segment, Mr. Moyers, was your belated admission that your parents would have been counted in this sordid class, had it been so designated at the time.

    Well, here's news for you: Plenty of your viewers -- highly educated and articulate people -- cannot, in the present rigged-against-us system, earn more than 40 grand. And you and the very patronizing Ms. Newman have just insulted us mightily.

    I have heretofore been a great admirer of yours, Mr. Moyers, but this piece of nonsense only reinforced the wrongheaded "lack of education" excuse used by plutocrats to justify their wanton destruction of our economy. For pity's sake, kids today are leaving college with degrees and struggling to pay off $100,000 in student debt from $20,000 jobs at Starbuck's -- while vying for those jobs against equally well-schooled people of their parents' and grandparents' age.

    A vast number of what you and Ms. Newman were pleased to call "these people" are educated just as well as you two -- and equally able to help our children with their schoolwork. I, for instance, earned three honors degrees at age 19 as a National Merit Scholar, ran a business for a long while and earned many professional awards, only to find myself -- when seeking work, after reverses due to a family emergency -- regarded as overqualified and unemployable in a field now occupied by kids who can be worked to death for peanuts. And that field is communications, within which you are one of a few lucky ones.

    Consider the writers' strike now on in Hollywood, due to the sharp reduction in their income. And consider the bloody slaughter happening in newsrooms across the country, in which most by any standards never earned much, but whose jobs are being eliminated or fobbed off for a pittance to Bangalore. WE are among "these people," Mr. Moyers. Please don't talk down to us again.

    Newman discussion missed out one rising number of low wage earner illegally invaded into city and depressed wage. The Mexican invasion called it created a lots of joblessness and wage depression. The LEft media will not talk about it because they are afraid of
    attack from the La Raza and
    Chicano and Mexican political group. I know
    Bill Moyers would not touch
    the Mexican invasion issue so is Newman.

    Hey,

    Thank you so much for your story on the subject of the Missing Class. Being a person who was relatively within this class, I am now no longer. I lost my employment due to out sourcing. Not outside the country mind you but within. I was the sole bread earner of my family (mother of two). Even through, I knew what it was like to be really poor; I still find the lost of my employment after 10 years of service distressing. It took a lot for me get off welfare, get out of section 8 housing, and earn a competitive income ($20,000 to $24,000 per year) for me and my children back then. Now I must begin anew. The safety nets of the past that were in place to help the poor (me) transition from welfare dependency or unemployment and to self sufficiency are no longer in place. We who are within this class are left without guidance or decent help from the social service that we paid into. I look to our government but I see no help there. They are more concern about a useless war, big corporations lobbing for welfare subsidies to compete in the world market, and corruption among their own politicians to help the American people any more. I look at corporations and I moan. More and more I see corporations who make billions in profits on the backs of our people only to move their businesses elsewhere to gain more profits at our expense.

    Some of us are still looking for “The American dream”. I am one of few who realize that the America I grew up in no longer exists. It is no longer for the common people. It doesn’t respect the common workers, the hard earned dollar, successes by honest people, sweat, tears, and sacrifices. Nor does it wish to. Corporations are getting bigger and greedier. Our government becomes more useless as it sinks in its own wretched quagmire of ineptitudes. How do we overcome this? How do I? I start over. I put my boots back on, tighten the straps, and wade through the muck to make my way as I always have. I have become a much wiser and colder American.

    - P. Bartlett

    I have been a big fan of Bill Moyers and PBS since decades. The "missing class" with Ms. Newton was another excellent and exemplary interview. BUT...isn't it time to organize REAL debates between Capitalists & Progressives - perhaps in the style of Bill Buckley's "Firing Line" - rather than only always preaching to the converted choirs. PLEASE consider - can't wait much longer.
    Thank you!
    Francis

    I totally agree, with one exception. WE are not “missing”, WE are struggling, right here in each community, city and town in this nation, though disregarded by the media, oppressed by elected officials and our so called government. WE are told by this and past administrations “do more with less”, “personal responsibility”, “ compromise”, “ next time”, these will get you the “dream” so many of THEM espouse. Little by little over the past 30 or so years elitism policies, greed, ignorance, free trade and a carpet bagger disregard for one another promoted this ill reputed result.
    This election cycle? Plaaaaese! The blood of this nation doesn’t have time to listen nor cares to listen to the rhetoric. Give us something to really listen to, like, what is your plan for enriching our quality of life? Living wage jobs, affordable quality education for our children, affordable healthcare for families, a home, etc. These are the heart issues that matter to us.
    Enhance our quality of life instead of corporations, oil magnates and foreign governments and the like. There has been a SISYPHEAN WAR going on right here in this nation, WE fight it every day. Where are the billions, nay trillions, of dollars for our families? Eh?

    Living in northeast L.A. in an area once dominated by the latino "Avenues" gang, I see what Professor Newman was talking about. Society exploits the immigrant community by employing their fathers and mothers at less than minimum wage, and then condemn them for spawning gangs. Society can't have their cake and eat it too. It's a fundamental truism. And the immigrant-bashers deny the it's reality.

    why dont you talk about the REAL missing class??? ie the americans whose jobs and country are stolen away because all the ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS will work for low wages.

    why are both examples that newman used people who didnt speak english? did she check their immigration status? why are we talking about foreigners who have sob stories on tv EVERYDAY when its ordinary AMERICANS in bad spots who are really missing because they get called racist for trying to protect their country. there wouldnt be over 50 million in the missing class if american wages werent dragged down by all the illegals.

    mike

    I'm a 42 year old divorced mother of teenager, with autoimmune disease with disabiling neurological deficits, pain and fatigue. I graduated with a B.S. magna cum laude, but since disease onset at 28 haven't been able to maintain a career. I depend on a small Social Security income which just reached a grand as of 2007 for my son and I. I'm lucky enough to own my home, with a $618 monthly payment. I do have medicare insurance for myself. Right now I have some state-medicaid health insurance for my son and $130/m foodstamps, but thats only because I proved my child support payments stopped. The moment I report my child support payments of $75 a week ($325/m) have resumed. I will lose the food stamp benefit and my son will be uninsured...

    Furthermore, I find myself falling out of representation as a disabled poor young head of households. Many government programs or services for which my disability and income might otherwise qualify me, exclude me because they do not account for the circumstance of having a minor dependent or my young age. The past year primarily bedridden and mentally challenge, the entire home management from meals to bills has rested on my 15 year-old. Last year we have often depended on the kindness of strangers and charity just to have some food at the end of the month.

    America is in deep denial about Poverty. I wrote this for a campaign website:

    Poverty is not just about “them.” With close to 70% of all tax returns in 2004 showing adjusted gross income of less than $50,000 (irs.gov), poverty for many families is uncomfortably close. That discomfort has spawned a real sense of insecurity and frustration for many.
    This is very personal quiz. No information will be stored or gathered about you. The only thing you need do is answer the following questions honestly for yourself, in the privacy of your own mind and heart.
    Take the test:
    1. Do you worry about losing your job?
    never; occasionally; frequently
    2. Are you afraid to ask your boss or supervisor for a raise?
    3. Did your last raise in pay cover increases in your living costs?
    4. Have you gone to work when sick or put off a vacation because you wouldn't be able to pay bills if you took time off?
    5. Have you put off going to the dentist, eye doctor, or veterinarian (for your pet) until your finances get better?
    6. Have you put off some household repairs and maintenance until your finances are better?
    7. Do you have three months housing and utility expenses set aside in case your household income is suddenly cut or would you use credit to "get you through?"
    8. Do you have a savings account?
    9. Do you worry about paying for any healthcare even if you have insurance?
    10. Have you recently made a credit card purchase knowing that you will not pay the full amount of that purchase when the bill arrives?
    11. Do you put off opening bills for several days after they arrive?
    12. Have you avoided calls from creditors?
    13. Have you considered taking a loan to "pay off some bills?"
    14. Do you argue about money in your household?
    Never; once a week; 2-3 times a week; 3-5 times a week; everyday
    15. Do you look at people to see if they dress “better,” drive a “better” car, look more prosperous than you do?
    16. When you see a homeless person, do you think:
    "That poor person, how did they get themselves into that situation?"
    "I know that'll happen never to me."
    "Why don't they do something to get themselves out of that situation?"
    17. Do you worry about your "credit score?"
    18. Do you think more about
    getting ahead; falling behind; maintaining what you have
    19. When talking about your finances, do you generally lead people to believe you are making more or less than you actually make?
    20. Do you hear about how well the national economy is doing and feel like you're participating in the "good times?"
    21. Do you wonder if you'll have enough money to retire?
    22. Do you feel more secure about your financial situation than you did 4 years ago?

    Thank you for taking "the test." It's not easy to confront some of these issues. There are no "right" or "wrong" answers. However, the fact that you took "the test" at all indicates some very important facts:
    You are concerned about a lowered standard of living.
    You have concerns about control of your financial situation.
    You are thinking about your future and that of your family.
    We saw hard working people who couldn't get out of harm's way in New Orleans. We saw skilled craftsmen hit the unemployment lines as plants closed in the Midwest. Many of us know how a single medical problem can wipe out a lifetime of savings even if health insurance is used. Many worry that a cut back of a few hours a week at work may mean that a bill payment will go out late. While we say we are "optimistic," we live daily with an undercurrent of insecurity about our future and that of our families.

    Poverty is not just "financial" in nature. The spirit as well as the wallet can be wanting. Even those who are working, paying living expenses, and setting money aside, are no longer sure if it's "enough." Insecurity about job, home, debt, health care and the future takes a toll on us.

    Poverty is not about just "them." It is about "us."


    Ever since Reagan's trickle down economy the rich have been getting richer, while the rest of us are working harder, and doing worse than ever. Who makes the most money in our society? Hedge Fund managers are among the richest, yet they produce nothing. They are no more than sophisticated gamblers. At least Henry Ford made cars!
    The rest of us should ask just one question: When will the trickle down economy trickle down to us?
    I really appreciate Professor Newman's work. I have found two other other good books which deal with this topic: "Nickle and Dimed" by Ehrenreich and "Deer Hunting With Jesus" by Joe Bageant.
    In this "go it alone" economy the secret is to never get sick, and never lose your job. If you do,too bad for you. Now get out of the way of all the tricklers above you before they run you down with their SUV!


    Im a 47yr old single man..4 yr art college educated..wrk at one of Philadelphia's largets law firms..which did 1/2 Billion dollars in billing last year...I earn 29,800yr as a puchaser of supplys..I drive a 26yr old truck,and luckily live with my partner..I have $3,000 dollars in chking, and minor savings to my name,I pay for hlth Ins. thru wrk, and have a small investment thru wrk...I try NOT to think of the future..it depresses me..I have No idea where I'll be, or how I'll survive come retirement age.

    Despite the expressed sympathy by professor Newman for the plight of struggling Americans, and perhaps in spite of the excellent education and admitted advantages of being an Ivy League academic and author, "these people", in her view, do not experience a system "stacked against them".

    For all the good purpose and intent of this conversation, a bitter taste of class condescension permeated.

    Until we can see each other and relate to one another without these over riding qualifiers, distinctions and misperceptions the net effect is a maintenance of the status quo.

    It's precisely our system and it's supporting sensibilities of denial and exclusion which serves the privileged at the expense of those exploited.

    For some, the exploitation is a brazen, unapologetic reality. For others, more a pretentious omission of any sense of personal responsibility for a reinforcing mindset.

    PBS: Profoundly Bad Storytelling...the Bill Moyers episode following up FCC regulations missed the point. This episode completely undermined any true American consensus by referencing the bad theatrical performance of Al Sharpton's most recent Race hustling symposium in Jena, LA. Instead of following a journalistic ethic of finding the heart of the issue and triangulating truth...you give racial centric demagogues air-time.

    There's more to the "missing class" than you've discussed.
    I am a 51 year old woman with a college degree in Jupiter Fl
    wondering where I fit in to the picture. I do own a home, have been a realtor for the past 6 years just barely surviving before the balloon burst here. I have been applying for professional jobs for over a year. Last year my net income was $13,000. I've dipped into the equity of my home to survive. I have no health insurance, no food stamps and two kids in college. My taxes and homeowners insurance last year: $7000.00. I have taken a job as a nanny making 450.00 a week. It's just not cutting it. No savings, no ira's. Just bills. I can't see our economy as thriving in any way and am trying to figure out a way to "hold on." I know I am not alone here in south Florida. Almost every single mom I know is in the same situation. Is there any way for us to hold on to our dreams?

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