This is based on a comment I made in a Facebook thread on the upcoming tax proposal. There was a discussion about whether taxes are too high and whether we spend too much or too little public money on social services. Nothing here is particularly new, but it seemed worth including on my blog.
I think our economy is changing in ways that aren’t sustainable. The traditional model where you are reasonably intelligent and willing to work reasonably hard and, as a result of your efforts are able to make enough money to sustain a middle class lifestyle seems not to be working for a lot of people.
I know there is disagreement about whether people are lazy or dumb or have unrealistic expectations about what constitutes “middle class.” But I don’t think the explanation for why so many people are struggling is simply that they are lazier, stupider, or greedier than they were 50 – 60 years ago.
So, with that as my premise, I don’t know that social spending is the best answer to helping people reach and remain in the middle class, but it seems to be a possible answer. If the middle class continues to erode, wealth disparity continues to grow, and a sense of hopelessness spreads further in the population, I think we’re in for some ugly social upheaval.
I feel like a primary goal of our economic, social, and legal systems should be focused on helping people reach and remain in the middle class. To me, this means a good education, a good work-life balance, good access to healthy food, safe communities, clean air, fresh water, and affordable healthcare. I’m probably missing some critical elements, but these don’t seem unreasonable or too pie-in-the-sky. The best way to get people to a place where they are law-abiding, educated, and productive and the economy to a place where work is adequately rewarded is apparently hellishly difficult, otherwise we would have made it there. But, we get distracted by all manner of things and so it’s easy to lose sight of our larger goals. To me, this is a big one.
Also, a Monty Python quote posted by a friend recently seems appropriate right about now:
Well, it’s nothing very special. Try to be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.