All Articles Tagged "middle-class"
Stubbornness, immaturity, constant arguing, jealousy— they’re all signs of a teenage love. Insert a black girl from Brooklyn and white guy from New Jersey, and you’ve got a young interracial couple struggling to find balance in a society still far from being colorblind.
Growing up in a conventional two parent household in Westwood, New Jersey, Paul, 19, describes his life as stereotypical. His family is upper middle class; he drives a Mercedes-Benz, having only had one girlfriend before his current relationship, often the girls he’s been attracted to he refers to as “stuck-up.”
He believes the biggest obstacle he and his girlfriend, Corrine, 20, face in their relationship of a couple of months is a difference in their upbringings, not race.
“It’s not so much a black [or] white thing, but that we’re from different areas. She’s from an urban area and I’m from a suburban area,” he says, with his arm resting on the couch behind Corrine. The three of us sat in his spaciously furnished living room of the Queens house he rents with nine other guys. A black curtain hanging from the doorway, separating us from the den area one of his housemates turned into bedroom.
Starting out from an upper middle class family in East Flatbush Brooklyn, Corrine briefly dated multiple guys from different ethnicities and cultures— from a dope boy to a future Olympian— she’s interacted with most.
A month after their first encounter in the car of a mutual friend, the two often ran into each other in the athletic study hall of St. John’s University. They quickly entered a relationship, after spending hours a day together doing school work, both not knowing much about the other. She has only had one relationship prior to meeting Paul. Since then, they have constantly clashed over race and culturally sensitive issues. Corrine says she has had to inform him that comments he has made often offended her.
“[He would say] I’ll act ‘ethnic’ or I’ll act ‘black’ or I’ll act like I’m from Brooklyn. Oh, this is my favorite one— ‘you’re acting like a ghetto black girl from Brooklyn,’” she sarcastically says. “It used to make me so mad, until one day I finally had to let him know, he can’t say things like that because it sounds offensive coming from [him].”
Paul interrupted her, “Coming from me? So what if it came from a black a person?”
“It’s still offensive,” she says.
Paul believes such is an example of being from different areas, saying that one night after a Chinese restaurant messed up Corrine’s order; she called the place demanding the rest of her food after failing to soothe her anger.
According to the National Healthy Resource Center, interracial relationships are most common among the middle class, among those with higher education. College increases individuals exposure to other races/ethnicities and the idea of intermarriages.
Unlike Corrine who has been attracted to guys of different ethnicities. Paul didn’t develop an attraction for black women until college. She often worries about being too ethnic, debating one night while dressing if she should get braids because Paul doesn’t like them.
Past deadline and kind of grudgingly, the House of Representatives passed legislation last night that will avoid big tax increases on the middle class, stopping our fall down the fiscal cliff. You’ll remember that technically, this was supposed to happen before January 1. But better late than never right? (Wrong, but OK.)
The margin for passage was 257 to 167; 85 Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner and former Republican VP candidate Paul Ryan voted in favor, The New York Times reports. However, Majority Leader, Rep. Eric Cantor (VA) and the number three Representative from California, Kevin McCarthy, did not. The Senate approved the legislation the day before by a margin of 89 to 8, and there was some fear that the House was going to let it die amid amendments and debate. A rejection of the legislation would’ve meant not only a rejection of something that the Democrats and President Obama largely supported, but also a rejection of House Speaker Boehner and the Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, who played a big role in crafting the legislation. (The Speaker already had one of his proposals voted down by his fellow Republicans.) Many policy experts and pundits on Twitter argued that if the deal hadn’t passed, the Republicans would take the blame. Even with the legislation’s passage, there are many who say this process will reflect poorly on the Republicans in the long run.
For the first time in 20 years, income taxes on the wealthiest will rise. Those individuals with an income over $400,000 and families with an income over $450,000 will pay more taxes. The tax cuts for those below that level are permanent. Payroll taxes, however, will increase. Politico has a breakdown of how that will impact your paycheck, via the AP and the Tax Policy Center. A sample:
Annual income: $40,000 to $50,000 — Average tax increase: $579 … Annual income: $50,000 to $75,000 — Average tax increase: $822 … Annual income: $75,000 to $100,000 — Average tax increase: $1,206 …
Unemployment benefits will also continue for two million people who were at risk of losing them. And spending cuts that were supposed to start today have been put off until March. “Conservatives complained bitterly that the legislation would raise taxes without making any significant cuts in government spending,” The Washington Post says. We’ve also avoided the dairy cliff, so go ahead and keep on drinking milk America!
During a press conference last night with Vice President Joe Biden, President Obama said the legislation will result in $620 billion in revenue for the country. But in just two short months, the fight will be on again as Congress discusses raising the debt ceiling (a debate that had everyone on edge in 2011) and sequestration, aka spending cuts.
There are also concerns that with these fights looming, the President won’t be able to address some of the other important issues that need to be tackled, like immigration, gun violence, and other changes to the tax code.
“Others are more optimistic, though, suggesting that even contentious issues such as immigration won’t be as politically perilous as raising taxes. Rewriting immigration laws is a complex task, but many Republicans and Democrats are motivated to pass legislation in an effort to appeal to the growing number of Hispanic voters,” writes The Wall Street Journal.
The latest on the fiscal cliff talks indicate that House Republicans are joining forces around Speaker John Boehner, a rare occurrence over the past couple of years. The New York Times says this should make it easier for him to get a caucus on board to sign off on a deal. But these politicians are really on some stuff so you never know. (Case in point: Republicans voted against a UN treaty strengthening rights for the disabled even though it fell in line with laws that we’ve had in place for decades. Jon Stewart’s awesome take down here.)
But, the Times says, Republicans met yesterday, and came out of it with praise for Boehner. Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor even joined in the fun.
“Mr. Cantor signed on this week to Mr. Boehner’s package including $800 billion in new revenue, putting him squarely on the same page with the speaker,” the paper says. “Several Republicans said Wednesday that the combination of the onerous nature of the potential tax increases and spending cuts and the realities of the recent election combined to bolster Mr. Boehner’s support.” It only takes near-financial collapse to help them see the light.
Meanwhile, President Obama is keeping the pressure on, hosting a Twitter Q&A to discuss maintaining middle class tax cuts, a continuation of his My2K social media push he started last week. To reach business leaders, he appealed to them directly yesterday (even emptying a room of reporters to do so) asking them to accept higher taxes and vowing not to allow Republicans to use debt ceiling negotiations for leverage. “I will not play that game,” he said unequivocally. He has also met with business leaders at the White House and appeared on Bloomberg TV to talk about the issue, Politico reports.
The Atlantic has some great pie charts that break down the different plans for avoiding the fiscal cliff. A little dry, but it’s important to be in the know. (Separately and kind of not related, one of the people behind the Bowles-Simpson plan, 81-year-old former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson, is pushing young people to get behind a deficit reduction push on social media with this video below, which has some serious LOL. h/t Mashable)
While all of this politicking is happening, Americans are genuinely worried about what’s going to happen. (Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said that the administration is ready to go over the cliff if an acceptable deal isn’t reached, but that seems premature.) A Quinnipiac University poll released today shows 53 percent of voters believe that falling off the fiscal cliff will personally impact them in a negative way. Forty-eight percent of participants optimisitically believe that an agreement will be reached by the end of the year, ABC News says.
The consequences of not reaching a deal could have grave consequences for the black community. “Spending cuts to domestic programs… would impact African-Americans in more ways than one,” BET reports. “In addition to reductions in programs that some families depend on, such as Head Start, African-Americans, who are overrepresented in public sector jobs, could find themselves on the unemployment line.”
Public sector job cuts have already been a blight on the financial well-being of African Americans, black women in particular. Black Women’s Agenda, a 35-year-old Washington-based nonprofit, has officially thrown its support behind President Obama’s proposal. “”We believe that the President’s proposal best serves the interests of not just the constituencies that we and our collaborating organizations represent, but also the majority of the American people,” said the organization’s president Gwainevere Catchings Hess in a statement.
The Congressional Black Caucus has also thrown its support behind many of the President’s proposals, including an end to tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the middle class, implementation of Affordable Care Act, and an extension of unemployment benefits.
The President called in to the Tom Joyner show yesterday to talk about the fiscal cliff, reiterating his points about the pain that allowing ourselves to go over will cause.
“[T]his is a solvable problem,” the President said. “It should not be a crisis. And the main thing that I need folks to do is just contact your members of Congress and say to people, don’t let middle-class taxes go up right now. Don’t let working people carry the burden of deficit reduction when millionaires and billionaires aren’t doing their fair share,” reads the EurWeb transcription. Get on the horn with your Congresspeople!
There’s no question that I’m voting for Obama come November 6th. That’s my boo. I trust him, and I trust his character. After all, it’s his team and party that’ll be doing the job of running the country so I need to know the President has the right spirit and moral attitude when it comes to leading. But although I’m a Obama supporter, I can’t say that I don’t cringe every time I hear his party’s politics on social welfare and protecting the poor. I’m a conservative in many ways. I’m reminded of that everytime I hear Democrats empathizing on behalf of the poor. When I say poor, I’m not talking about those rendered unemployed by the current economic crisis – I’m talking about those who have taken advantage of welfare programs and free social services for the long term.
Sorry, I’m going to offend a lot of people when I say that I believe we actually should have less social services catering to the perpetually “poor.” I grew up around many people who abused the system and can sympathize with the Republican objectives of reducing social welfare services. I believe that people need incentives to work and be productive. I’ve witnessed members in my extended family basically profit from low income housing by getting paid under the table and continuing to tell Uncle Sam that they bring in too little income to provide for their families.
One of my cousins, who is a single mother, doesn’t believe it’s worth her getting off of welfare because she’s so much better off with the free access to healthcare and daycare services for her toddler that are afforded to her. If she got a job paying over $40,000 per year, she’d be easily worse off. Come to think of it, if I were to have a child on my own today, I’d probably be worse off or on equal footing with my cousin. The only difference would be that she would have free time and free money to pursue advanced education while I continued to trudge to work every day.
I understand that there is a lot of grey areas when it comes to economics in this country but what I do feel strongly about is that the rich aren’t evil. Although Obama and his team members represent the upper class, they continue to demonize the wealthy in this country and paint the middle and low-income folks as innocent bystanders. That kind of rhetoric doesn’t resonate with me. I’m middle class but I’m not helpless. I understand how my decisions have shaped my economic standing. I would appreciate the U.S. government having my back if I were to get laid off and lose health insurance, but I certainly don’t expect Uncle Sam to compensate for my cousin’s lack of ambition and work ethic. Obviously, my ideal party would meld the principles espoused by both parties but til then…
What do you guys think about how the two parties paint the rich and the poor?
Oh man, oh man, oh man. Our President, Barack Obama, brought it big-time during last night’s debate. He did it right and we couldn’t be happier. And Mitt Romney? Frustrated, sweaty, wrong and talking crazy talk about women in binders, Mitt Romney went off the rails. And took his manners with him. Was it just us or was he particularly rude last night? To Candy Crowley and the President. We’re listening to CNN right now and the pundits and an audience member from last night both commented on how Romney was over-aggressive to the point of being offensive.
But on to the issues… The men talked about everything from energy policy to taxes, gas prices, the economy, China and jobs. You can watch video from the debate and a full recap here. But the thing that we want to highlight here was the connection that President Obama drew between equal pay, women’s health and the average family’s finances.
In response to a question about equal pay, Romney launched into an evasive speech that never made it clear that the former Governor is in favor of equal pay policies. And then, to prove that he likes women, he made the aforementioned “binders full of women” comment that was not only ridiculous, but said a lot about the way he thinks about the issue. It’s just another talking point that he’ll address with an awkward, unrelated anecdote. And he’s got an actual book (The Atlantic reports on the binders that Romney’s office used to find staffers while he was governor of Massachusetts) that he can pull out and show off when necessary.
“Romney did a good job appointing women to high office in the context of a bipartisan statewide push to get him to do so as a new governor, but a terrible job in finding and promoting women to senior roles in the context of the high-paying private-sector business he built himself. That may be why, by his own admission, his social power network when he came into office led to an all-male pool of job applicants,” reports The Atlantic. Boo.
On the other hand, President Obama drew the connection between the middle class, women’s health and financial well-being. “This is not just a women’s issue,” he said. “This is a family issue. This is a middle-class issue. And that’s why we’ve got to fight for it.” He also noted the increased cases in which women are “breadwinners” for their families. And, of course, he opened with talk of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that he signed into law in 2009. An advisor tells The Huffington Post that Romney was opposed to the law as it made its way through Congress. He still hasn’t voiced support for it.
It’s simply unfair that women make less money than men for the same work. It’s something that we shouldn’t stand for, and the fact that this is an issue that some people have found a way to be opposed to is appalling. But even when you look at the issue in purely dollars-and-cents terms, any political leader who claims to be working towards restoring the middle class without advocating for fair pay when so many women are providers for their families is destined to fail. And when you add health care costs — the cost of medication, ob-gyn services, contraception, the cost of having a baby, and the financial toll it takes when a woman is too sick to work — into the equation, you can clearly see why equal pay and women’s health are critical topics as we continue to climb out of this recession. President Obama laid out his feelings on the issue. Romney did not.
“That’s a pocketbook issue for women and families all across the country,” President Obama rightly added. There’s a great analysis of this segment of the debate on The New York Times.
In the end, Reuters says that President Obama “likely stemmed decline in support among women” while Romney is now doing battle with a damaging Internet meme during these crucial final weeks of the election.
Reuters reports: “‘Any ground that Mitt Romney gained over the last week or week and a half, he lost tonight,’ said Jennifer Lawless, director of the Women and Politics Institute at American University.”
Much of the discussion during this presidential campaign season has been squarely focused on the economy and the divergent paths that President Obama and Mitt Romney have proposed for getting it back on track.
The general consensus (here in the Madame Noire office and elsewhere) is that the President missed opportunities to be more aggressive with Romney, not highlighting Romney’s “47 percent” comment that has now become infamous, and letting him get away with claims about Medicare and other policies that weren’t quite true or weren’t explained with any specificity.
But generally speaking, the debate was all about the middle class; both saying that their policies wouldn’t burden them with extra taxes, promising to lower the unemployment rate and generally restore security through overall economic growth. We’ve got links to recaps here, here, here and here.
President Obama will continue to talk about the economy during stops in Colorado and the University of Wisconsin before heading back to Washington.
What did you think of the debate last night? Was there anything that you heard that will impact your vote?
Total aside, Twitter was lit up last night over the #debate, becoming the most tweeted event in political history. Some of the things that got Twitter attention: people’s defense of Big Bird after Romney said he would make funding cuts to PBS and moderator Jim Lehrer’s “let’s not” response to Romney’s attempts to move the debate on to another topic (Lehrer has been given an “F” for his performance last night).
While the politicians are catering to the middle class for votes, others have proclaimed the middle class dead; that it has been squeezed beyond financial recognition. But The New York Times has reported on a new study that says two in three Americans actually achieve a middle-class lifestyle by middle age.
According to The Times, “The study breaks life down into stages (for instance, adolescence) and gives benchmarks for each of those stages (in that case, graduation from high school with a grade-point average above 2.5, no criminal convictions and no involvement in a teenage pregnancy).” Next, the children were studied over time, seeing if they met those benchmarks and projecting whether they would make it to the middle class by the age of 40.
“The researchers found that …a child who meets all the criteria from birth to adulthood has an 81 percent chance of being middle class. A child who meets none has only a 24 percent chance,” says the article.
Of course, there were other factors that determine who makes it into the middle-class. The Brookings Institution also looked into why some children grow up and make it into middle class and others don’t. The researchers — Isabel V. Sawhill, Scott Winship and Kerry Searle Grannis — examined how race, gender and family income were factors.
The study found that—what a surprise—“children born to rich families have a 75 percent chance of being middle income or better by the time they reach their 40s. For children born to poor families, the chance is just 40 percent.”
According to the study, only about two in five black adolescents met the benchmark of graduating from high school with a decent grade point average, no children and no criminal record by the age of 19. (You can read this story about disconnected black youth for more info on that.) Compare this to white teens — two in three white adolescents met those benchmarks.
When most of us think about being wealthy, we think about the blood, sweat and tears that go into earning those millions (or billions, depending on how lofty your aspirations are). But some (mostly rich people) say it’s your attitude about money that is the determining factor in how rich you’re destined to be.
This article from Business Insider breaks down the differences in the ways that the rich and the middle class think about money. According to Steve Siebold, the author of How Rich People Think who conducted 30 years worth of interviews with millionaires, “most people are steeped in fear when it comes to money.” This prevents the acquisition of lots o’ cash.
A few things jump out right away because they ring true.
“Average people earn money doing things they don’t love. Rich people follow their passion.” If you take a look at any of the profiles of successful businesswomen we publish here on Madame Noire Business, you’ll see that they always refer to their work as a passion, making their businesses a true labor of love.
“Average people live beyond their means. Rich people live below theirs.” Regular folks will go to the mall, buying out the stores, and get their nails and hair done weekly so they look good when they go out on Saturday night. Meanwhile, creditors are blowing up their phones looking for overdue payments. When you’re rich, you can have a lot of stuff and still be rich enough to afford more stuff. When you’re middle class or working class, you cannot. If you live within your means, you’d be surprised by how much you can ultimately have.
“Average people would rather be entertained than educated. Rich people would rather be educated than entertained.” Half of this statement is spot on. I wouldn’t necessarily give rich people credit for being scholars. (Umm… Kim Kardashian?) But the overall gist is valid. People will talk about their favorite reality show with a blow-by-blow, scientific precision that comes with careful viewing. Ask them about that last episode of Frontline or 60 Minutes. Crickets.
“Average people love to be comfortable. Rich people find comfort in uncertainty.” I wouldn’t say that anyone finds “comfort in uncertainty.” But successful people understand that there’s a level of risk that comes with innovation. And from that risk, one can reap great rewards. Look at Oprah and OWN. She quit a bonafide hit TV show to start something new and precarious. And though she has had a number of financial losses and setbacks (coupled with blistering criticism and declarations of failure), she marches on. Will the celebrity interviews and new programming do the trick? We don’t know. But O keeps going. And maybe sometime soon, we’ll look back at OWN’s path to ratings triumph.
But there are some things on this list that were just pulled from the air.
“Average people think MONEY is the root of all evil. Rich people believe POVERTY is the root of all evil.” While you shouldn’t be a greedy jerk no matter what this article says (and it does say that in a couple of spots), rich people aren’t the only ones who think it’s bad to be poverty-stricken. Everyone thinks poverty is bad. Don’t be dumb.
“Average people have a lottery mentality. Rich people have an action mentality.” Many people that you see making their morning commute also have a Powerball ticket in their pocket, especially when the jackpot gets into the hundreds of millions of dollars. This despite the knowledge that they probably won’t win. You can hope for a lucky break and work hard to make your own success at the same time.
“Average people teach their children how to survive. Rich people teach their kids to get rich.” When was the last time you heard a (good) parent tell their kid, “When you grow up, you’re going to work hard and if you’re lucky, you’ll keep your head above water”? Trying to lay the foundation for your children to live a rich life isn’t something that just those with money do.
“Average people never make the connection between money and health. Rich people know money can save your life.” Really?! No. Just no.
Overall, what the comments get at is money, no matter how much you have today, should be used to earn more money tomorrow. There’s nothing wrong with nice things and enjoying some time off. But if you’re doing something you love, you don’t mind spending a great deal of time working at it until it’s setting you and your family up for today and for future generations.
What do you think of this list of rich people traits? Does it sell middle class people short?
Disturbing news from the U.S. Census Bureau, which has just released a report on income, poverty, and health insurance coverage for 2011. According to the report, 27.6 percent of black Americans, or 10.9 million, live in poverty, where poverty is defined as a family of four earning less than $22,811. That’s up by .2 percent, or 183,000 from the previous year.
The median income for black households also dropped by 2.7 percent to $32,229 in 2011. Of course, this all ties in to the news we reported the other day about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s finding that 25.1 percent of black households in this country were food insecure in 2011.
With all of the talk about unemployment, jobs and the middle class, the reality of poverty tends to get ignored. Speaking to The Root, Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, authors of the new book The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto, said, “Poor people have not in any way been a priority in the Obama administration … and of course we know poverty would be very low on the totem pole in a Romney administration.” They’re currently spreading the message about this issue on the “Poverty Tour 2.0: A Call to Conscience,” which will be stopping in Ohio, Chicago, Florida and Pennsylvania through the 15th.
A senior White House official told the site that poverty rates usually go up and incomes go down in the couple of years following a recession. “Everything suggests that what we’ll be looking at is historical data and that if you go up to 2012, all of the economic indicators suggest we are now starting to dig out in incomes, and they’re starting to rise.”
Still, the amount of attention being paid to middle class survival is warranted. Research over recent months from the Pew Research Center shows that 85 percent of the middle class say it’s harder for them to maintain their lifestyle. And 84 percent of those in the lower class say they have to make cuts to the household budget.
For black Americans, the number of people living in poverty was already above the 10 million mark last year. The concern over the fate of the black middle class is very high and very real. The tenuous hold that middle class blacks have on their socioeconomic status is threatened by the pressures of bad mortgages and the lack of jobs.
According to the Center for American Progress, this “is the second time on record that our economy grew, yet low and middle-income families did not share in the gains.” However, if there is some good news to be taken from the report, it’s that tens of millions of more people would be in poverty if not for programs that fall inside “the social safety net” like unemployment insurance. Earned income tax credits and food stamps have also been a godsend to those in need.
Overall, the Census found that 15.7 percent of Americans, or46.2 million, are living in poverty, statistically flat when compared with last year. Median income dropped 1.5 percent to $50,054. And the number of people without health insurance fell .6 percent (about 1.34 million people) in 2011. The number of uninsured is still about 48.6 million.
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Did you see FLOTUS at the DNC Convention last night? Vogue editor-at-large said it best in this tweet last night:
Michelle Obama: You ARE the Best of the American Spirit. Its not the clothes you wear, its your grace, your kindness, your caring. PURE JOY
But just for the record, the dress was a custom Tracy Reese worn with suede J.Crew shoes. According to Tom + Lorenzo, they were not only getting bombarded with questions about the First Lady’s outfit but the shade of her nail polish. “[T]o which we have to respond ‘Really?’” they write. No really. I was curious about it too. We’ve seen a couple of people predict that those shoes (in “rhubarb”) will probably sell out. And she could do for Tracy Reese (already a popular designer) what she did for Jason Wu. Reese has already got a story on today’s Wall Street Journal Speakeasy blog, which notes that the First Lady wore Tracy Reese on the cover of Ebony previously.
Michelle Obama’s riveting speech overtook Mitt Romney’s GOP Convention speech last week on the Twitter leaderboard, peaking at 28,003 tweets per minute versus Romney’s high point of 14,289 per minute, Politico reports. Here, the site lists what it thinks are her top 10 lines from the speech. And here’s coverage of the speech from another of the night’s notable speakers, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro.
And as we noted yesterday, Michelle Obama focused on the middle class and President Obama’s values.
“The address was meant to lay the foundation for a convention program devised to remind wavering working- and middle-class voters — the same ones Mr. Romney is working so hard to woo away — what they liked about the president when they supported him four years ago, and how his own humbler roots have helped inspire his policies to help them,” The New York Times says. Moreover, the speech painted a personal picture of the President and the life he has shared with Michelle. We watched on MSNBC and Chris Matthews, post-speech, noted how the camerawork caught the emotion of the attendees, rapt and even a little teary-eyed as they listened.
“Barack knows the American Dream because he’s lived it,” she said.