The Squeezing of the Middle Class


I received an email from a reader who is feeling the squeeze of this recession. Although it’s officially over, millions of Americans certainly haven’t recovered, and the pain goes on.

This reader is someone I’ve corresponded privately with through email for quite a while now, so I consider her a friend, even though we’ve never met. I’ve been aware of her situation and her challenges for quite a while, so I wasn’t at all surprised when I heard she is seriously considering throwing in the towel and “shrugging,” as she told me today.

You see, this woman has done everything right for her entire life. She’s worked hard, she put herself through business school to avoid the debt that four years of college would have left her with. She bought a house that was handicapped accessible in order to take care of a loved one during that one’s last years on this earth. Unfortunately, she lives in one of the areas hardest hit by the housing meltdown, and she’s underwater on her mortgage. She hasn’t missed, or even been late with, a single payment. But she wants out. She wants to move and start over. Nothing is keeping her where she is except for her house. To make matters worse, she’s feeling squeezed by the rising price of food, health insurance and energy.

And I watch countless news stories about people who are criminals (illegal aliens, felons) liars, cheats, or just stupid getting help with their mortgage loans because they “need it”. And people getting free medical services because they “need it”. And people declaring bankruptcy because it’s just too hard to pay the bills, they “need to”. All the while I see my government crushing people like me–expecting us to just keep doing, just keep paying, just keep being responsible in order to make up for all of those people who were not.

So, what is she thinking about doing?

I look at my one mortgage in a vast sea of defaulted mortgages, my two measly credit cards with their under $1,000 balances in a vast sea of defaulted credit cards and I am thinking….WHY? Why would I continue to deny my own happiness, when my sense of honor only gets me punished? When it’s what everyone else counts on in order to make their flawed scheme work? What do I owe, here? To whom do I owe it really? I spent my entire life putting other people and my financial obligations ahead of my happiness, ahead of my chance to live while I’m here on the earth and not just exist in some gray zone, making sure MY bills are paid.

I would never have imagined, three years ago, that I would resent the very, very rich and the less fortunate. Both of them are doing just fine, it’s us in the middle who are being crushed only because we managed to stay in the middle. With no help, by the way. Under our own steam. Never asked for a thing, swallowed the disappointments and kept working and paying bills. Did all of these things because our value systems said it was right and we are not owed anything. And my government, those who insist on “governing” me are so disconnected from it, are so oblivious to the rising desperation in the country. We don’t matter.

Well, I’m Egypt tonight. I’ve had it. It’s unthinkable for me—a responsible, honorable, traditional, independent woman—to entertain the idea of just walking away. Bank’s problem, not mine. But that’s where I am this week. This President and this Administration have done their best to ignite class warfare and warfare between the “differences” in America. They’ve done a great job. I resent the wealthy, I resent illegal aliens, I resent the professional victim class, I resent being told to just keep the skin in the game so they can continue to ruin every possibility of happiness for me.

My heart goes out to her. In subsequent emails I learned that she is looking into every possibility out there to get out of this situation without defaulting on her mortgage. Even though she’s had it, she really is trying to do the right thing. But I’m afraid she’s at a tipping point. And I wonder how many more like her are out there? How many more hard working, middle class Americans are ready to just throw their hands in the air and shrug? Imagine how people in the Gulf states feel, whose livelihoods were tied to the oil industry? How many factory workers, whose unions and government drove their employers to shut down operations only to reopen in places like China and Mexico?

My friend is the “Forgotten Man” of our day. Most of us are. How far away are any of us from feeling just as she does? It’s one thing to go through these challenges knowing we’re all going through it. But we aren’t all going through it. Because we now have four Americas:

1-The public employee union class

2-The entitled/welfare class

3-The elite ruling class

4-The rest of us who are paying dearly to support #s 1, 2 and 3

How much longer can this go on before we turn into Egypt, or Greece, or any other failing or failed state? Lord, I hope we can turn things around. But frankly, I don’t blame my friend at all for wanting to go Galt. If I were in her situation, I would probably feel the same way.

Update: Instapundit linked – thanks! He also linked to The Coming Middle-Class Anarchy which is worth a read.

Update 2: Vox Popoli linked – thanks!

Update 3: Daily Pundit linked – thanks!

Update 4: Political Realities linked – thanks!

Update 5: HazzzMat linked, so did Shout First Ask Questions Later and Refreshing the Tree of Liberty – Thanks!

Update 6: No One of Any Import picked up on the fact that there’s a troll named Tom who left a comment on this thread. He even prompted Tom the government employee to distinguish himself from Tom the troll. Please don’t confuse the two, Tom the government worker seems to be a decent guy.