Today, ex-president Jimmy Carter proved once again that he has the I.Q. of a small soap dish. He is complaining, like other left wing mouth pieces recently, about the separation between the rich and the poor. And they always add the obligatory, "oh and the middle class", because they don't want to offend them. JC compared now to when he left office in 1980.
Well, let me just enlighten Mr. Carter and the other left wing kooks. The poor and the middle class are not worse off, and the separation between them and the rich is perfectly understandable, and normal, in an expanding economy.
Lets just take a look at how the Middle Class compares, now vs. 1980.
How about cars? In 1980 cars were cheaply made, unsafe, low performance and got crappy gas mileage, not to mention unreliable. Today the Middle Class buys expensive, reliable, very safe, high performance, efficient luxury cars. The average Middle Class household (MC HH) had roughly 1 car. Today, the average MC HH has 2 - 4 cars.
How about entertainment? Let's start with TVs. In 1979 the average MC HH had 1 TV, a CRT, low resolution, with a crappy antenna. One in 10 MC HH's had analog cable to 1 TV. Today, MC HH's have 3 or more High Def, LCD/LED digital flat panels. And they have digital Satellite with DVRs plus high definition Blu-ray or DVD players.
How about Phones? In 1980 MC HH's had 1 or 2 fixed phones. Today, the average is more than one mobile phone per person. Many HH's still keep the fixed phones as well.
How about houses? In 1980, the average MC HH had a 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath, 1 - 2 car garage, about 1200 square feet. Today, MC HH's have 4 - 5 bedrooms, 3 - 4 baths, 2 - 3 car garage, about 2900 square feet. And homes today are actually much more efficiently built (energy and usability/convenience). Houses today have much higher quality materials (granite, better paints and insulation, standardized construction, and safer). And appliances are also far superior.
How about clothes? In 1980, MC HH's had pretty much only the clothes they needed for work and school. Closets were very small even in bigger houses. People didn't have more clothes than they needed. Today, MC HH's have huge walk-in closets full, often more than 1, and even the kids have lots of clothes and even walk-in closets themselves. People today buy a lot more, and more expensive, clothes (and bling too).
Computers? Well, computers existed in 1980 but almost no one had one. Today, MC HH's have an average of 3+ (Desktops, laptops, tablets). Computers cost many thousands of 1980 dollars, in 1980. Today, you can get one for a few hundred dollars, in 2013 dollars.
Game machines? Yes, they had game machines back in 1980. I had one. But very few MC HH's had a game machine (Atari, Coleco, Commodore). Today, many MC HH's have all 3 of the major game machines, plus lots of expensive games!
What about food? In 1980 women could still find the kitchen in their house and families ate at home most of the time. Families ate out once or twice a month. Today, MC HH's eat out most of the time (30+ times per month). When women cooked, families invited guests over much more often, which increased social behavior, good social behavior. Families had more friends back then. And the eating out today is causing real health problems.
What about other non-necessity stuff (boats, RV's, planes, jet ski's)? Yep, MC HH's today have lots more of those.
How about education? In 1980, somewhere between 1 in 3 and 1 in 5 kids attended college. Today, almost all kids get at least some college, and often at other people's expense (you the taxpayer).
How about vacations and associated transportation? Vacations were rare in the 1980's, about 1 every 3 - 5 years for most MC HH's. Today, MC HH's take multiple vacations per year. This has increased flying dramatically as a result. In 1980, only 1 in about 2,000 people had ever been on a cruise ship. Today, its about 1 in 15.
Internet Access? There was no such thing in 1980. Now its pretty much universal in MC HH's. And that has brought down the cost of information dramatically for the MC.
How about things like insurance? In 1980 it was a rare thing for kids to have health insurance. Today, in MC HH's where the parents have insurance through their employer, kids are also on the policy. However, health insurance costs have risen sharply due to many factors, mostly too many people receiving coverage, government interference, unions, and a health care system that is not subject to market forces (no, it actually isn't). Other insurance costs have risen sharply too, business insurance, car insurance, home insurance.
What about working? In 1980, about 85% of teenagers had some kind of job, usually part-time. Today, less than 15% do, mainly because the family does not need them to work, whereas they did in 1980.
What about getting loans for the MC? In 1980, the interest rate for buying a home was around 19%. Today, its 3-4%. Rates for cars were also very high, often 15% or more. Today you can get all the way down to 0%. However, credit card rates have been all over the map, which suggests collusion in that market.
I'm sure you can come up with even more categories to compare.
Anyone who says the middle class is not better off today than when Jimmy Carter left office is either a liar or just plain loco. I think Jimmy Carter is the latter. He's nuttier than a fruitcake.
And if we want to talk about the poor... Well first there are 2 different groups among the poor, the working poor and the welfare poor. The working poor are struggling and the causes of that are complex, but I blame government. The government has created a dis-incentive for work, and purposefully so. The government does not want the poor working. They want them under government control. And lazy people are happy to oblige.
And that brings us to the welfare state. In 1980, the assistance you could get from government was not really enough to sustain a person by itself. You had to supplement it with help from family, friends, churches, community, and working. Today, the income of a person on welfare is enough to sustain a whole family, and quite nicely. The poor in America have spendable cash, and look what they spend it on, drugs, alcohol, gambling, prostitution, fancy cars, etc. How many times have I seen a person in the checkout line at the grocery store ahead of me with over $200 worth of groceries, paying with food stamps? Cigarettes, alcohol, ice cream, steak, fancy salad dressing, twinkies, everything but condoms.
Poor people all around the world are trying to get to the United States because of how well the poor have it in the US. They have it pretty damn good, despite what the left wing tells you.