Disgraced former Senator and Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards used the phrase “two Americas” to define his campaign and to highlight the social stratification, or the hierarchical arrangement, between the wealthy and the working class. The “two Americas” caught on as a popular metaphor. On one hand, Edwards is right when he said that there are “two Americas.” What he forgot is that there are three “Americas”: lower, middle, and upper class.
However, one of those “Americas” is disappearing so fast, the Dodo bird thinks it’s a tragedy.
The Business Insider published some grim facts to substantiate the proof that the middle class is becoming extinct in the United States. Here are a few stats:
• 61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.
• 66 percent of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.
• Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.
The last stat should raise eyebrows. Most Americans hate the wealthy. The wealthy get around from paying taxes, flaunt their excesses, and are disconnected from the rest of the citizens in this country. However in our zeal, we continually forget that not all millionaires are greedy, self-absorbent, elitist individuals. Not everyone act or or cut corners like Bernie Madoff or Leona Helmsley. The new millionaires that are cropping up these days might be your neighbor, friend, or colleagues that were affected by the economic downturn. They’re using the downturn to finally become entrepreneurs and self-made millionaires.
Mr. Dallas J. Moore, local social media business owner and director of Social Republick in Ames, pointed to an Inc. magazine article that many laid-off workers are taking matters into their own hands by starting up their own ventures as a source of income, and to fulfill their own dreams. To prove that adage, Inc. published their “30 Under 30” list of America’s coolest young entrepreneurs.
What’s the reason for pointing this out? As much as we want to pine for the middle class to stay intact, the reality is that America is heading towards a return to the two-class socioeconomic structure: poor and rich. It’s not fair, but that’s the path we’re heading heading.
The new upstart business owners are not going to wait for the economy to take a upswing. They’re taking advantage by evolving with the times and implementing their dreams or skills into new ways to not only generate income, but to provide service to the community and invest into the good of their neighbors, colleagues, and family.