The Middle Class and The Broken System

You may or may not have noticed, but I haven’t been blogging here as frequently again lately. It’s a goal of mine to make my posts more regular, but our family has been going through some huge changes lately and my time and attention has been needed for the home front. Actually that is a very apt way to put it, but I’ll get to that in a second.

Way back in the beautiful days of September, a facebook friend posted this calculator from the PEW Research Center. This is all about one of American politicians’ favorite topics, the middle class.

On a global scale, just 13% of the world’s population could be considered middle income in 2011, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of the most recently available data. Most people in the world were either low income (56%) or poor (15%), while only 9% lived at an upper-middle-income standard and 7% were high income.

See where you fit.

You can try the calculator for yourself.

I tried it, and the result came back that my family is indeed part of the small global middle class. It surprised me since in American terms we definitely are not considered middle class, but then I thought about the difference between the global economy and the American economy and it made enough sense. America is an incredibly wealthy country, after all.

Then, two days later, we got turned down for an apartment.

We needed to move, our lease was up, our collective was parting ways. We had been looking for some time, but all of our other leads had dried up. We were running out of time. This place was not our first choice, it wasn’t even our second choice. This was a one bedroom apartment in Detroit, not in one of the newly developing neighborhoods. It was a nice long (and unreliable) but ride from our places of employment. And they turned us down.

They turned us down for lack of income.

So we hastily made plans to stay with friends. We dealt with it. We kept looking. It’s been a month and a half, and we move into our new apartment on Sunday.

But what I want to focus on is that we gave them the exact same numbers I put in the calculator above. So the same income that makes a family of three middle class, globally speaking, makes that same family unable to qualify for many one bedroom apartments in Detroit, a city that I keep hearing New Yorkers are moving to because it is cheap.

If that’s not a failure of capitalism, I don’t know what is.


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