Stuck in the middle with you

Well, according to our current commander in chief, it’s a “make or break moment” for middle class America. Which is funny, because I was fairly certain such a thing didn’t exist anymore. In fact, there’s probably an entire generation of pre-teens and adolescents out there unable to define the term, considering said generation’s penchant for that truly charming (and I’m being sarcastic here) “I want it and I want it now” mentality.

What can I say? Considering I’m going to be 35 years old in the next month or so, I can remember a time when the middle class was the hard-working, patriotic, so-called backbone of this nation. In other words, if you were willing to work 40 to 50 hours per week, set aside some hard-earned cash here and there (for a rainy day), sacrifice a dream or two on the way and dedicate yourself to your family and career (in that order, one would hope), you had a pretty good shot at your own, personal slice of happiness.

My, how things have changed.

Nowadays, your typical family – one with both parents working full-time ... and part-time on the side – is one that has no memory of that annual vacation, can barely scrape up enough cash for that perfect Christmas gift and is in no way, shape or form in a position to save up for a child’s college years.

Trust me, I know. I can barely afford to put gas in the car (prices continue to soar) and food on the table (prices continue to soar) once the bills are paid (the ones that I can afford to pay, that is). The middle class has become something of a “has been, never was” concept. Why’s that, you ask? Because the vast majority of America’s population (the so-called 99 percent) either remember a time when they were part of the middle class or wish they ever had been. Which is why the “occupy” movement was bound to gather strength so quickly.

And I don’t think those involved are going to go away quietly, either.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not bitter about my station in life. In fact, I’m quite proud of what I’ve accomplished. The problem, however, is the continued economic and financial inequality that will – if not addressed – rip this country apart at the seams. If you’ve been paying attention to the news on a global scale over the past couple of months, well, you know what I mean. It wouldn’t take all that much at this point for the occupy crew to turn truly violent and – if and when that happens – we’re going to have one hell of a mess on our hands.

Personally, I’m not one to condone violence, no matter the circumstances ... but can you really blame your average American for being more than a little peeved these days?

Why? Because those in power live under and are judged by a different set of rules than the rest of us. It’s that simple.

For instance, if I were to swindle a boatload of cash from a group of unsuspecting, trusting people – no matter how big or small said group was – I would (when caught) be arrested, charged, arraigned, tried and sentenced ... probably to state prison ... for years. Yet those who did the very same thing to thousands upon thousands of Americans prior to the “Great Recession” not only got off slick as can be, they managed to give themselves a big raise in the process.

I don’t know about you, but something about that seems a little fishy to me. Then again, when your best buddies are the ones running the country, well, one can get away with this sort of thing.

And it’s like this on multiple levels, unfortunately.

If you or I go out, have a few too many cold ones at the local bar and crash the car, we suffer one set of consequences. Right? If – insert your favorite celebrity or athlete here – does the same thing? A completely different set.

Why that is, I personally don’t know. But if someone out there does, please feel free to share that information.

Regardless, there will always be inequality; it’s human nature, whether it be financial, economic, social or educational in nature. The problem, however, lies in the ultimate outcome of its continuation. Which is scary because – if you do some research – you’ll find there’s any number of historically relevant civilizations that collapsed due to such inequalities.

And history – as they say – has a tendency to repeat itself.

Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunbrian.

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