The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


December 20, 2013

Our View: Stuck in the middle

— “We’re all in this together,” goes the saying. That might be comforting except in the case of middle-class America. Yep, we are all in this together and going nowhere fast.

That’s not just hurting most of the people we know but the nation as a whole. As the gap between the richest Americans and everyone else grows, so do our hopes of a thriving economy.

The Associated Press interviewed three dozen economists about the middle-class paycheck and the pay gap. The consensus was that it’s not the wealthy who will swing the economy but rather the earnings of the middle class.

Until most of our earnings increase enough to afford a few more vacations, a few more dinners out on the town and maybe even a new TV or a new car, the economy will continue its struggle to gain traction.

According to the Associated Press, about 80 percent of stock market wealth is held by the richest 10 percent of Americans.

Income equality is now being considered one of the biggest challenges of the time.

The household budgets of the middle class must increase, and that can only happen if better-paying jobs become more available or if goods and services are cheaper.

Consider that the annual take-home pay of most middle-class families is about the same today as it was five years ago. It’s little wonder we can’t get out of the rut.

What is hopeful is the recognition of the problem and finally an acknowledgment about who is driving the train.

Those who can afford to buy political influence in order to keep their pockets full aren’t doing it to keep the wheels of the American economy turning. They are doing it to help themselves.

Being middle-class shouldn’t mean being trapped. Now that the economists have agreed upon the problem, we’d also like to hear their solutions.

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