The Middle Class Is Now The ‘Muddle Class’

the-middle-class-is-now-the-‘muddle-class’

05-11-19 01:24:00,

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

The net result is the muddle class has the signifiers but not the wealth, power, capital or agency that once defined the middle class.

The first use of the phrase The Muddle Class appears to be The rise of the muddle classes (Becky Pugh, telegraph.co.uk) in January 2007. The “muddle” described the complex nature of defining “the middle class,” which includes education, class origins, accents, and many other financial, social and cultural signifiers.

Comedian Jason Manford claimed to have coined the term in June 2013“I’ve invented a new term; ‘Muddle Class’. When you find yourself being working class AND middle class at the same time.”

I’m using the term to describe the economic class that has the social signifiers of middle class status but little to no ownership of meaningful capital or control of their own financial security. In other words, this class “muddles through” the erosion of their purchasing power and economic security, claiming the social status of “middle class” while their financial status is impoverished when compared to the security of previous generations of “middle class.”

Social status signifiers include: college diplomas, advanced degrees, overseas travel, aspirational dining and consumer goods, home ownership, etc. But where previous generations were building meaningful capital and assets that could be passed down to their offspring, the assets of the “muddle class” are either negligible or highly contingent on the speculative bubble du jour (stocks, bonds, housing).

The more meaningful economic metrics for middle class status are:

1. Household indebtedness, i.e. how much of the income is devoted to debt service, and

2. How much of the household spending is funded by debt.

  • If debt overwhelms assets, this financial fragility is not “middle class.”

3. The ability of the household to set aside substantial savings / capital investment.

  • If the household is unable to save enough to weather financial crises, this financial fragility is not “middle class.”

4. The security of the households’ employment.

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The Class Politics of Teeth | Dissent Magazine

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10-11-18 09:18:00,

The Class Politics of Teeth

Inequalities in oral health and dental access reflect our deepest social and economic divides.

Spring 2018

(Ben Dalton / Flickr)

On a cold fall morning, about four hundred people lined up on the outskirts of the mountain community of Jonesville, Virginia. News had spread about a free weekend health clinic, organized by the Knoxville, Tennessee–based Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps, or RAM.

Since it was founded more than three decades ago, the nonprofit has headed hundreds of missions, airlifting medical relief to some of the poorest places on the planet. This was RAM’s first visit to this isolated pocket of Appalachia, in 2014. The clinic was offering a wide range of services, everything from chest x-rays to eye exams. An overwhelming number of people in the line, however, were worried about their teeth.

“I’ve got a couple of broken ones and a couple of bad cavities,” Randy Peters, a fifty-one-year-old former miner and mattress factory worker with multiple sclerosis, told me. “It’s getting so I can’t eat.”

Ernest Holdway, a disabled miner in his early sixties, said he came to get a tooth extracted. “It ain’t hurting but it will,” he predicted. He said his dental insurance ended when he left the coal mine. He said he just finished paying off the $1,500 he owed for the extraction of three bad molars, which he was told to get removed before a knee surgery. He was still fighting to save his leg, which looked fearfully swollen.

“I’m a good person but I sure have been tested,” he added.

In poor and remote Lee County, where Jonesville is located, shortages of all kinds of healthcare have been a chronic problem, but the dearth of dental care has been most acute. Lee County is not alone. By federal estimates more than 50 million Americans live in communities that face a federally designated shortage of dental professionals. Their teeth suffer and so does their general health. Pain is common. During free clinics like these, hundreds, sometimes thousands of ruined teeth are extracted.

Scenes such as these, which I observed over the decade I spent writing a book on America’s dental care system,

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