"There is such a thing as a straightforward middle. The nation’s median household income last year was $50,233. Half of all households earned more and half earned less. Some economists would define the middle class as those who earn between 75 percent and 125 percent of that — say households making between $37,500 and $63,000.
Development economists sometimes define the middle class as those making more than the bottom fifth of the population but less than the top fifth. In this country, that would include households making between $20,291 and $100,000. Of course, there are places — New York comes to mind — where $150,000 a year does not buy many of the trappings of wealth.
The heavy use of the term seems to be more than an appeal to people’s wallets. “Middle class” has become less a position on the income scale than a state of being. According to a poll by the Pew Research Center, a little more than half of Americans consider themselves middle class, including a third of those who make more than $150,000 per year. For many people, to be “middle class” is to work hard, to struggle to succeed, often against unfair forces. Forget the money." Eduardo Porter
Porter's essay is about the bourgeoisie, and who is in it.
"Forget the money" is the key phrase in the piece. That is the essence of the thing. The whole argument about who is "middle class" in the US is altogether about the political and sociological "load" that attaches to the term.
Most Americans worship the idea of the Norman Rockwell life; solid houses of indeterminate age situated well back from curbside in a scene inspired by Frederick Olmstead's conception of "life in a garden setting," the PTA, the school board, the two cars, the 2 1/2 children who do moderately well in school, public higher education available in the background, Social Security, Medicare, probably church or synagogue (now mosque as well?), a comfortable retirement. These are the things that most Americans think of as their birthright, their patrimony.
"We" have aspirations not too high, not too low, not very political at all. We are not really interested in government except as a vehicle for the delivery of the goods of the bourgeois life.
The truly rich live in a different world, a world where striving for the means of a comfortable life is absent, and self indulgence is generally reflected in the conception of "life as art form." No matter, the truly rich are still a small group in spite of endless yuppy striving.
America the bourgeois, from sea to shining sea.
Our friend Fortunato had become something that was not bourgeois. He and all the other fortunatos become something not bourgeois in the process of following their metier. Is that one of the disturbing things about the rough men who guard you while you sleep?" pl