Middle Class

Aristocracy of Talent: Social Mobility Is the Silver Lining to America’s Inequality Crisis

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Yes, wealth concentration is insane. But the ways in which wealth is shifting are surprising—and give reason for a little optimism.

In an age of oligarchy, one should try to know one’s overlords—how they made their money, and where they want to take the country. By looking at the progress of the super-rich --- in contrast with most of us --- one can see the emerging and changing dynamics of American wealth.  read more »

Trumpism: America’s Berlusconi Moment

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Trump envisioned and created today’s city of white boxes for rootless new money types, who dominate the city even as they leave little mark here.

An old joke—that in heaven, the Italians do the cooking; in hell, they run the government—feels a lot darker now that American politics are taking an Italian turn.  read more »

What Happens When Walmart Dumps You

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The first knock on Walmart was that it gutted the mom-and-pop businesses of small-town America. So what happens to those towns when Walmart decides to leave?

What is the future of American retail? The keys might be found not only in the highly contested affluent urban areas but also in the countryside, which is often looked down upon and ignored in discussion of retail trends.  read more »

The Great Vancouver Exodus: Why I’m Almost Ready to Leave the City

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It was one of those Sundays in early January when you wake up to bright, stark sunlight streaming through your blinds.

My fellow Vancouverites might know the one. It’s been grey and dreary for months. You open your curtains to a brave new world and see, with sudden, startling clarity, all of the dust that had gathered in the cracks of your life while you had been hibernating through the long winter.  read more »

Now They Get It: Health, Class, and Economic Restructuring

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In the past few months, many commentators have responded to a recent study that shows increasing death rates among middle-aged white Americans. Some have suggested that the increase is the consequence of material poverty resulting from economic restructuring and the neoliberal agenda over the last several decades.  read more »

"To the Suburb!" Lessons from Minorities and the New Immigrants

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This essay is part of a new report from the Center for Opportunity Urbanism called "America's Housing Crisis." The report contains several essays about the future of housing from various perspectives. Follow this link to download the full report (pdf).

When I was in college the suburbs were vilified. It was the mid-2000s, and here we were, enlightened coeds having one last hurrah in the flat Midwestern expanse before finding our place in the world, and there really was only one world to find: the city.  read more »

We Now Join the U.S. Class War Already in Progress

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Neither Trump nor Sanders started the nation’s current class war—the biggest fight over class since the New Deal—but both candidates, as different as they are, have benefited.

Class is back. Arguably, for the first time since the New Deal, class is the dominant political issue. Virtually every candidate has tried appealing to class concerns, particularly those in the stressed middle and lower income groups. But the clear beneficiaries have been Trump on the right and Sanders on the left.

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Can GOP Fatten Up Around the Middle?

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At a recent breakfast in Washington, D.C., a rising young Republican senator explained the divisions in his party in a particularly succinct manner: a conflict between the donor base and the GOP rank-in-file.

“The donor class,” this senator told me, “really cares about one thing: lower taxes. Most in the party don’t see this as the most crucial issue.”  read more »

Losing the Narrative of Their Lives

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study released a few weeks ago, conducted by Anne Case and Angus Deaton, documented a significant increase in the death rate among the white working class in the US, much of it due to suicide and substance abuse. In one interview about the report, Deaton suggests that the reason for the increase is the increasing economic insecurity this group faces. As he told Vox’s Julia Bellus, they have “lost the narratives of their lives.” Not surprisingly, op-eds flew right and left about this report, from Rod Dreher in The American Conservative and R.R. Reno in First Things to Paul Krugman in the New York Times and Harold Meyerson in the Washington Post. This study is the latest contribution to an expanding public discussion about changes in white working-class culture, which Jack Metzgar has traced in a series of posts here about books by Andrew CherlinRobert Putnam, and others.  read more »

Deindustrialization, Depopulation, and the Refugee Crisis

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The refugee crisis facing Western nations has begun to peak both demographically and politically.  The United Nations has reported that more than 6.5 million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries and Europe, and even nations that until recently welcomed refugees are frantically trying to change immigration policy or protect borders.  read more »