Economists and statisticians may argue over whether the American middle class is, in fact, shrinking, but if it is, there’s little doubt as to why: more middle income people become more comfortable and prosperous, not impoverished. In fact, the official poverty rate has declined dramatically since the 1950’s (remembered as a the “golden age” of Middle America) with the percentage dwelling in poverty declining from 22.4% to well below 13% in recent years.
Meanwhile, two other news items provided important perspective on the status and future of middle income Americans---
The new head of the national teacher’s union describes a dream for education that sounds more like a socialist nightmare.
Randi Weingarten, incoming president of the American Federation of Teachers, wants schools to become community centers for medical care and social services as well as classes. She called for a “federal law” promoting “schools that are open all day and offer after-school and evening recreational activities, child care and preschool, tutoring and homework assistance”, plus “medical dental and counseling clinics.”
In other words, she sees schools as big city versions of all-encompassing collective farms, with students their prize crop. Maybe such schools should also offer barracks for the kids, eliminating any need at all for parents or home. Ms. Weingarten forgot to mention that her vision involved a huge expansion of government and a crushing burden for taxpayers.
Dr. John Hagelin, a physicist trained at Dartmouth and Harvard, ran for president three times as the nominee of the Natural Law Party. He reached his political zenith in 1996, appearing on the ballot in 44 states and persuading 113,668 of his fellow citizens to vote for him. The Natural Law Party promoted Transcendtal Meditation as solution to all the world’s problems and, in fact, Dr. Hagelin has been a prominent member of the faculty at Mahirishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa. One of his areas of scientific specialization involves “the Maharishi Effect” that uses “advanced meditation techniques” to solve social problems. Dr. Hagelin once imported 4,000 meditators to Washington, D.C. and then cited crime records to show the beneficial result. Along with Dr. Hagelin’s presidential runs, the NLP offered some 400 local candidates between 1992 and 2002. Though most of the country never embraced the meditation platform, Hagelin nearly carried his home county (Jefferson) in Iowa—drawing 23.94% of the vote against Clinton, Bush and Perot. In 2004, the Natural Law Party endorsed the Democratic presidential juggernaut of leftist firebrand Dennis Kucinich. Dr, Hagelin himself returned to teaching, and to an esteemed position as Minister of Science and Technology of the Global Country of World Peace, a project authorized by the Maharishi before his death in 2008 “for preventive, invincible administration for the whole world.”