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Fair to middling

In today's world our lives are being regulated more and more by graphs and statistics. The statistic that is going the rounds at the present time in the United States and scaring people out of their wits is that the middle class is shrinking.

I can not believe it. I am sort of middle class myself, and according to the scales in my bathroom I'm not shrinking.

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But I know what they mean.

Middle-class people are either getting richer or getting poorer, with the statistical emphasis on the latter. It is not an easy thing to realize one's category is vanishing.

I have a longtime middle-class friend with whom I discuss important things that touch our lives. But when I consulted him on this subject he didn't have much to say.

''Get lost. I'm no longer in your class,'' he said. ''I've joined the poor.''

''When did this happen?'' I asked, naturally taken aback.

''I'm not sure of the date,'' he said, ''but statistics prove that those who earn between $17,000 and $40,000 a year are middle-class citizens. Last month I found I am averaging only $16,700. Statistically I am with the poor people.'' A tear came to his eye.

''I'm sorry,'' I answered. ''I suppose we shouldn't have lunch together anymore.''

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''You're right, of course. But I don't mind that so much. What bothers me is that now I will have to vote for Mondale. I was hoping to vote for Reagan.''

''Things are really tough,'' I said.

''Well, I haven't given up.'' He squared his shoulders. ''If the middle class can be declared an endangered species, maybe there is hope. Other endangered species are coming back. Look at the whooping crane. And they are saving the whales and eagles. There is even hope for the brown hyena and wild yak. After all, I'm down only $300 and a lot can happen before November.''

''Sure,'' I said, ''maybe we could even have lunch.''

''Well, I suppose at a Burger King.''

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