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the erosion of the middle class in the US

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the erosion of the middle class in the US

Postby Jackal » Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:16 pm

I was just thinking recently that the rapid decline of the middle class in the US might be one of the sources of our problems in the US. After all, most of us seem to be intelligent, but not wealthy guys with white collar jobs (i.e. middle class). The erosion of the middle class in America has been well-documented, so we basically get squeezed between the two extremes: we're not rough and tough construction workers/biker dudes/criminals/soldiers nor do we have the right family connections to be upper class. Middle class men in America just become pale, de-sexualized, work-obsessed worker bees in the corporate hive.

The problem was that in America we didn't find many pretty middle-class girls who valued us. Other countries actually do have a middle class which isn't so small and which isn't under all the pressures it's under in America.

I've heard that dating was better in the US several decades ago. During that time, the middle class was also doing better.

What do you think of this theory?
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Postby gsjackson » Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:40 pm

No question about it -- and I can speak from the rather long historical perspective of pushing 60 years of age .... hard. The sort of feral, predatory, winner-take-all capitalism introduced by Reaganism (though the opening salvo of America's war against the middle class was probably fired in 1971 when a Nixon administration official, in response to the problem of declining corporate profits, proposed as a remedy: "squeeze labor") definitely changed the zeitgeist in this country. Not just in decimating the middle class by substituting credit cards and absurdly inflated housing prices to borrow against in place of real wage increases, but in making people increasingly disengaged from public life. Americans withdrew from mainstream culture into narrow little subcultures.

Some day I'll post about what it was like to date in this country 40 years ago. I'm recalling this quaint custom the women had of being expected to "draw the man out" conversationally. Sometime in the late '80s, I realized that custom was ancient history. I was out with this hot 19-year-old, and getting absolutely nowhere conversationally. The entire night she didn't initiate a single bit of dialogue, other than to make an observation about the lighting in the place we were at. I figured I just wasn't happening with her, and wrote it off as a misfire. But when I dropped her off, she said "I hope I see you again." Apparently, I was suitable for her social or sexual purposes, or whatever, but that didn't entail any necessity of knowing the first thing about me. And I began to realize that the culture of pathological narcississm that several people had written about in the '70s had become a fait accompli.

Looking at your point from another angle, as the conservative George Gilder has written about for years, when men are faced with rapidly declining social status, the sexual constitution of the society gets all screwed up. This is only going to get worse in the U.S., where women make up about 57 percent of all college students, and get an ever-increassing share of what few middle-class jobs remain.
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Postby Jackal » Sat Jul 31, 2010 10:56 pm

gsjackson wrote:Looking at your point from another angle, as the conservative George Gilder has written about for years, when men are faced with rapidly declining social status, the sexual constitution of the society gets all screwed up. This is only going to get worse in the U.S., where women make up about 57 percent of all college students, and get an ever-increassing share of what few middle-class jobs remain.

Good point. This then leads to the nation being run by fire-breathing amazons who rule almost all the men. Goodbye dates; hello servitude!

I just would have been happy to grow up in America before the dawn of rap music. The word "wigger" has almost lost its meaning now that most white people in the US are wiggers or closet wiggers. I'm not racist; I think John Coltrane was practically a god. It's not about skin-color; it's about talent and brain-power.

Again most jazz fans were probably middle-class. Now many jazz clubs are closing in cities across the country, such as Chicago, because most of the inhabitants there are too stupid to appreciate complex music anymore. Consequently, jazz has thrived in Europe for decades, perhaps because there is actually a substantial middle class there who often appreciate the best parts of American culture more than Americans do.

Follow the jazz...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmeetDFx ... re=related
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Postby Adama » Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:22 am

The crushing of the middle class is certainly part of it. The real thing that you are missing is something called FEMINISM.
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Postby gsjackson » Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:43 am

"I just would have been happy to grow up in America before the dawn of rap music. The word "wigger" has almost lost its meaning now that most white people in the US are wiggers or closet wiggers. I'm not racist; I think John Coltrane was practically a god. It's not about skin-color; it's about talent and brain-power.

Again most jazz fans were probably middle-class. Now many jazz clubs are closing in cities across the country, such as Chicago, because most of the inhabitants there are too stupid to appreciate complex music anymore. Consequently, jazz has thrived in Europe for decades, perhaps because there is actually a substantial middle class there who often appreciate the best parts of American culture more than Americans do."


I feel sorry for American young people, growing up without music, and thinking they have to listen to that crap to be cool and get peer approval. I can't for the life of me think of any other reason to subject yourself to it. And you're right about where the current support for jazz is -- I think that if you polled the people in the jazz clubs here in New Orleans, a sizable percentage of them would be European tourists.

BTW, Jackal, I arrived at similar conclusions to yours about the middle class abroad when I spent a week in Budapest in 2002. I stayed on the outskirts of town (in a great hotel for 30 euro a night), and took the metro in, seeing on the way all those godforesaken communist-era worker housing buildings, which have left such a blight on some incredibly beautiful settings in eastern Europe, such as Split, Croatia. The buildings looked like the projects in U.S. cities. Yet they were occupied by what appeared to be a solid middle class, living a healthy lifestyle in places that Americans would shun. I suspect their main pleasures in life came from something besides a glowing satisfaction in how much square footage they owned.

As to one of those pleasures, the thing that struck me about Hungary, besides how good looking the women were compared to the U.S., was how much public display of affection between males and females you would see. As best I can tell, PDA's here in the U.S. are now the exclusive province of lesbians. Hey, it's their world; we only live in it.

All the guidebooks tell you how dour and somber the Hungarians are because of their political history. They looked like happy campers to me.
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Postby gsjackson » Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:47 am

J.Adama wrote:The crushing of the middle class is certainly part of it. The real thing that you are missing is something called FEMINISM.



Missing it? On this thread? In the post directly above yours you will find a reference to "fire-breathing amazons who rule almost all men." In the post above that there is a reference to George Gilder, who was twice named "male chauvinist pig of the year" by Ms magazine, for his book Sexual Suicide. I doubt there are many people on this website on whom the contribution to human misery of the feminists is lost.
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Postby skeptic » Sun Aug 01, 2010 1:34 pm

The problem was that in America we didn't find many pretty middle-class girls who valued us. Other countries actually do have a middle class which isn't so small and which isn't under all the pressures it's under in America.


While there is a problem with middle class erosion in the U.S., tell me which country already has a defined and large middle class. While in China middle class may be actually increasing in size, I doubt that it has already reached the size that the U.S. originally enjoyed (probably not even the size that the U.S. still has). That migth take a while.
As for Russia, do you see middle class there? The average population Russia is generally poorer than in America, although there is an upper class (known as the "Oligarchs" or, simply, "New Russians"). But those are a minority.
Same probably holds true for Ukraine.
Belarus is still a remnant of the Soviet past. It's still quite similar to what a Soviet republic was like: people are being somehow held on a more-or-less equal social level.
Western European countries might still have a more defined middle class. Since labor unions in Europe are generally more widespread and powerful than in America, they might be more protective to middle class. But even there, with all the taxes being deducted from workers, most of them are on lower income levels than in the U.S. I'm not saying it's good or bad. If anything, maybe this lower income are worth it when they result in free health care and more sophisticated public transportation.

But I doubt that this particular issue (middle class erosion) is a major factor. If anything, perhaps the lowering of the living standards in the U.S. could result in the society's re-opening.
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Postby Jackal » Sun Aug 01, 2010 1:50 pm

J.Adama wrote:The crushing of the middle class is certainly part of it. The real thing that you are missing is something called FEMINISM.

I see the situation with feminism as sort of a feedback loop: feminism is another force which is helping to crush the middleclass and feminism also gains momentum the more it crushes middle class men. It's like a black hole growing more and more by sucking in all the surrounding matter.

To continue my theory, the source of our problems is our loss of status in the US due to the decline of the middle class. Therefore, the solution is to go somewhere where you can be securely a member of the middle class once more, since dating often depends on status.

This is exactly what happens when you go and teach English in many foreign countries, such as those in Eastern Europe. There teachers get a lot more respect than they do in the US--I'm not saying that students are never difficult; I mean that teachers simply have much higher social status there and are solidly part of the middle class. (I would imagine businessmen and engineers are regarded similarly and might have even more status).

For example, many of my fellow teachers aren't rich, but they are married with children, own cars, have pets, have nice ordinary houses with yards and have grill parties outside. Basically, they have the "American dream," but they're not in America! Their lives are the middle class ideal: they're intelligent and educated, and they actually get some reward for it, instead of living a life of constant worry. The cost of living is low, so it doesn't take too much money to be comfortable in these places.

gsjackson wrote:BTW, Jackal, I arrived at similar conclusions to yours about the middle class abroad when I spent a week in Budapest in 2002. I stayed on the outskirts of town (in a great hotel for 30 euro a night), and took the metro in, seeing on the way all those godforesaken communist-era worker housing buildings, which have left such a blight on some incredibly beautiful settings in eastern Europe, such as Split, Croatia. The buildings looked like the projects in U.S. cities. Yet they were occupied by what appeared to be a solid middle class, living a healthy lifestyle in places that Americans would shun. I suspect their main pleasures in life came from something besides a glowing satisfaction in how much square footage they owned.


Yes, the people in Eastern Europe find it easier to work with the existing communist buildings rather than tear them down. The thing you have to remember is that the apartments in many of those buildings are sometimes very nice on the inside and some of them are spacious. Another thing is that the ceilings are usually high in those buildings and the walls are extremely solid. In contrast, in most American apartments, even a short guy can touch the ceiling with his hand and could easily punch through a wall. In Hungary, you'd break your hand if you tried punching the walls because they are as solid as a rock!

I live in one of those communist-style apartment buildings (which are called "panelák") and I have high ceilings and a balcony with a beautiful view.

Hungary has many different types of people. Some appreciate the simple pleasures of life and family and some hunger for material things and other shallow things.

gsjackson wrote:As to one of those pleasures, the thing that struck me about Hungary, besides how good looking the women were compared to the U.S., was how much public display of affection between males and females you would see.
As best I can tell, PDA's here in the U.S. are now the exclusive province of lesbians. Hey, it's their world; we only live in it.


Yeah, there are lots of hot women in Hungary! What? There are no PDAs in the US anymore? I haven't been back there in years. When I was growing up, I saw couples f***ing on the beach and in parks occasionally. What is it like now? Just women with their man-slaves in tow?

gsjackson wrote:All the guidebooks tell you how dour and somber the Hungarians are because of their political history. They looked like happy campers to me.

Hungarians have complex personalities. While they might become happy easily about ordinary things like family, friends, and parties, part of them on the inside always resents the fact that they lost so much territory to the surrounding countries. You see maps which contrast the old borders of Hungary with the new borders everywhere. It's a thorn in their collective psyche. If you want to keep the conversation light, don't mention Slovakia, Romania, or the ocean.

And of course, some Hungarians are depressed because they are unemployed or because they make very little money even by Hungarian standards, which is understandable.
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Postby Contrarian Expatriate » Sun Aug 01, 2010 2:05 pm

The class structure in America is roughly as follows:

Upper class
Middle class (subdivided into Upper Middle, Middle and Lower Middle)
Working class
Working poor class (menial laborers, minimum wage workers, etc.)
Lower class (homeless, welfare dependents, etc)

Most of what we think of as middle class is not middle class. Several studies have shown that most Americans mischaracterize themselves as middle class whether they are below it or above it.

Middle class status has more to do with educational attainment and value system than it does with income level and wealth.

There are several NBA players who have all the markings of underclass even though they have wealth (for now).

But yes, the true middle class is shrinking and that is just a symptom of the economy. When the economy begins to grow again, the true middle class will grow in turn.
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Postby skeptic » Sun Aug 01, 2010 2:16 pm

Jackal wrote:To continue my theory, the source of our problems is our loss of status in the US due to the decline of the middle class. Therefore, the solution is to go somewhere where you can be securely a member of the middle class once more, since dating often depends on status.


Do you really believe the only happily married men in America are those in the upper class? I would buy on this if I didn't see too much counter-evidence. I just can't accept that I have "lost status" while my friend has not, even though he consists from the same type of flesh and blood and, perhaps, doesn't make much money either.

Now, if you are advocating for moving to another country in hope to securely be in middle class there, then, as I said, first go find that wonderful country. For some reason, more people move into the U.S. than out of it. And, once you've found the country you like and moved there, it's not global dating anymore, because the girls you would want will become local to you.

But if you are advocating for dating abroad while continuing to reside in the U.S. just because you've "lost status", then I don't see a reason why I should value myself lower than some other guy who succeeded more.
Last edited by skeptic on Sun Aug 01, 2010 2:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby gsjackson » Sun Aug 01, 2010 2:23 pm

skeptic wrote:
To continue my theory, the source of our problems is our loss of status in the US due to the decline of the middle class. Therefore, the solution is to go somewhere where you can be securely a member of the middle class once more, since dating often depends on status.


Do you really believe the only happily married men in America are those in the upper class? I would buy on this if I didn't see too much counter-evidence. I just can't accept that I have "lost status" while my friend has not, even though he consists from the same type of flesh and blood and, perhaps, doesn't make much money either.



I believe that if you are married to an American woman and you are not bringing home enough money to suit her, she will make sure you are not happy.
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Postby Jackal » Sun Aug 01, 2010 3:58 pm

skeptic wrote:Do you really believe the only happily married men in America are those in the upper class?


No, of course not. The problem comes when a man can't find a good woman of the same class he is. Women are more free to change their social class by marriage, but men don't have such freedom.

skeptic wrote:I would buy on this if I didn't see too much counter-evidence. I just can't accept that I have "lost status" while my friend has not, even though he consists from the same type of flesh and blood and, perhaps, doesn't make much money either.

I have no idea what you're talking about because I don't know anything about your friend.

skeptic wrote:For some reason, more people move into the U.S. than out of it.

So? Consumers don't always make rational decisions and neither do immigrants. Decades of watching American movies and other media has influenced their fantasies about America, and enough other countries are in worse shape (Haiti, Jamaica, parts of Mexico, etc.) so people from those countries still come to the US. Just because thousands of people from even shittier countries come to the US, it doesn't mean that the US is some beacon of freedom and prosperity--it just means it's less bad than a few other countries.

skeptic wrote:And, once you've found the country you like and moved there, it's not global dating anymore, because the girls you would want will become local to you.

So? The point of this website is get out of the Anglosphere and date other women.

skeptic wrote:But if you are advocating for dating abroad while continuing to reside in the U.S. just because you've "lost status", then I don't see a reason why I should value myself lower than some other guy who succeeded more.

Ack. I'm not even going to try to understand your logic. You can play all the mind games you want with yourself. Your self-image is not my concern. You are free to engage in the American rat-race for as long as you like.

You don't have to agree with us. You don't have to post here. More mainstream forums are only a click away.
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Postby Jackal » Sun Aug 01, 2010 4:17 pm

Contrarian Expatriate wrote:Most of what we think of as middle class is not middle class. Several studies have shown that most Americans mischaracterize themselves as middle class whether they are below it or above it.

Middle class status has more to do with educational attainment and value system than it does with income level and wealth.

But yes, the true middle class is shrinking and that is just a symptom of the economy. When the economy begins to grow again, the true middle class will grow in turn.

Exactly. Yes, I was refering to the "true middle class" which is defined more by educational attainment and value system, but also requires a certain amount of wealth.

skeptic wrote:As for Russia, do you see middle class there? The average population Russia is generally poorer than in America, although there is an upper class (known as the "Oligarchs" or, simply, "New Russians"). But those are a minority.

You should read Contrarian Expat's post about social class above. You are missing the point by believing that class is only determined by income. And the word "poorer" doesn't give much information. If they simply make less in terms of US dollars when you convert their wages, that doesn't say anything about how much buying power they have relative to the cost of living there.

Most foreigners will probably never fully understand the intricacies of social class in America.
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Postby Enishi » Sun Aug 01, 2010 4:44 pm

Speaking of social class, how much does education and learning influence one's social class in places like Russia, as opposed to America? (I wasn't in Russia long enough to really tell)
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Postby skeptic » Sun Aug 01, 2010 5:47 pm

Jackal wrote:No, of course not. The problem comes when a man can't find a good woman of the same class he is. Women are more free to change their social class by marriage, but men don't have such freedom.


It's not as much about freedom as it is about set of mind. Truly, I don't want to end up with a woman who is in a significantly higher class than I am (even if she didn't mind), because that just doesn't seem right. Traditionally, man is a provider. Nowadays it seems worthwhile for both partners to be providers. That is due to higher demands that modern society has, combined with increased costs of living. But if a woman is a major provider (i.e. making significantly more than her husband), it contradicts this principle. As a side effect, yes, it does limit the number of choices for a lower-class man. But the situation seems to be compensated by the fact that there is not enough upper-class men to accomodate women of all classes. And the upper-class men are more likely to choose women who are closer their social level. As a result, many lower-class women might very well end up with the men of their own caliber. As discussed in other threads, the problem seems to have more to do with attraction and chemistry. And these factors (or the lack of them) know no national borders.

Jackal wrote:I have no idea what you're talking about because I don't know anything about your friend.


I meant to say the I see too many guys who are not upper-class; yet, they are married to the girls they wanted, without having to go abroad for that.

Jackal wrote: Just because thousands of people from even shittier countries come to the US, it doesn't mean that the US is some beacon of freedom and prosperity--it just means it's less bad than a few other countries.


But it looks like those "few other countries" are too many in number. I'm not talking about Haiti or even Mexico. If China is so thriving, how come there are so many Chinese immigrants in America? And if life in Russia is so great, how come so many Work&Travel students look for an opportunity to stay here? We all agree that China and Russia are superpowers, not third-world countries. But immigrants still come to the U.S. from those very countries.

Jackal wrote:You don't have to agree with us. You don't have to post here. More mainstream forums are only a click away.


"Mainstream" forums don't offere anything new. This one does, however controversial it might be.
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