Where's The Middle Class?

by TNR Staff | September 26, 2007

Is America still a middle class society? The question must be occurring to many people on hearing the news of a settlement -- and a very fast settlement, at that -- to the United Auto Workers' Strike against General Motors. Maybe it is good news. The workers have apparently secured a financially viable health care program. There won't be layoffs. This is what I got on the radio news on my way home from Logan Airport. OK, so far so good. But, as I understood the numbers, workers are going to take roughly 20% off their salaries in wage cuts. This keeps G.M. alive, or should. And what this means is that the unionized but barely middle class will no longer be really middle class. It is a terrible omen, particularly given the almost obscenely flush incomes at the top of our society. This is not the first such mass salary reduction. And it won't be the last. Another development is certain: there will be a heating up of the politics of resentment, much of it deserved.

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