The Common Good

Will the Real Ms. Middle Class Please Stand Up?

Sojomail - July 12, 2012

 GUEST COMMENTARY by Lisa Sharon Harper

Will the Real Ms. Middle Class Please Stand Up?

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Back in the day, there was a television show called “To Tell The Truth.” A panel of four celebrities would try to guess which one of three characters was telling the truth about their identity. One central character and two imposters each spun stories to convince the celebrities she was the real Joanna Schmoe. In the end, the host would say, “Will the real Joanna Schmoe please stand up?” At that time, the real Joanna Schmoe would reveal herself and the imposters would tell their true identities.

Well, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the words “middle class” tossed to and fro and applied to as many economic levels as I have over the past few months—especially when it comes to tax cuts, tax hikes, or tax anything.

So, let’s play a little game. Shall we? Let’s playTo Tell the Truth about the Middle Class.”

All three contestants claim to be “Ms. Middle Class,” but which one really is?

Contestant number one says: “I am Ms. Middle Class.”

Here is her profile: Montessori pre-school, SAT and ACT tutorials starting in grade school, school musicals, private dance lessons, private gymnastics, soccer… lots of soccer, leased SUV, professional career, gardeners for the lawn, part-time nanny, part-time housekeeper, combined household salary of $100,000-$166,000 per year (up to $250,000 if she’s somewhere like New York City or San Francisco), inherited furniture mixed with stylish new pieces, independent voter, leans right on fiscal matters, leans left on social issues, anti-smoking, pro-parks, anti-nukes, pro-special trips to the spa. She lives in or near a major city. If in the city, she has a doorman. If in the suburbs, she has a two-car garage. If in a major city she’s a high-end renter. If in the burbs, let’s just say she has an in-ground pool in the back yard. She juggles credit cards, kids' clubs, and flight miles programs and brings home the turkey bacon, but the housekeeper fries it up in the Calphalon pan.

Contestant number two says: “I am Ms. Middle Class.”

Here is her profile: Public schools, PTAs, Pell Grants, La-Z-boys, brown panel basement where stuff gets stored and the men go to drink, shoot pool, and throw darts, holes in walls covered by prints of famous paintings, gardens and lawns tended by mom and dad, lawn chairs and barbecue pits carted from the local Home Depot in the back of dad’s pre-owned SUV, the family day-trip to the beach or the annual camping trip because weeklong vacations at a resort are a pipe dream, no stamps in the passport—or no passport, stairs that squeak (or slant), teenage baby-sitters, live-in grandparents, the never-ending struggle to decide which bills will be Peter and which will be Paul on bill payment due dates, improvised home remedies for abscessed teeth, sweat on foreheads at the check-out counter as she prays that her last credit card isn’t maxed out … yet, a combined income of $25,000-$100,000, which pays for the 132 more payments on the home mortgage worth $25,000-$100,000.

Contestant number three says: “I am Ms. Middle Class.”

Here is her profile: CEO of Whatever, Inc., investments and capital gains, major donor to political party, major financial engine behind social causes, multiple homes—at least one with a pool or a beach in the back yard, mix of inherited and new furniture, contracted interior decorators for most homes, Marc Jacobs boutique clerks know her by name, combined household income of $800,000 per year, full-time nanny, full-time maid, full-time driver, private tutor, private school, Ivy League colleges for kids, first-class travel, 34 stamps in her passport. What’s a basement?

Will the real Ms. Middle Class please stand up? ...

+ Read full article HERE on the God's Politics Blog

Lisa Sharon Harper is the Director of Mobilizing at Sojourners. She is also co-author of Left, Right and Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics and author of Evangelical Does Not Equal Republican ... or Democrat.

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