Goodbye, middle-class

The Chicago Tribune’s Public editor raises the question of what is the middle class in modern America. He doesn’t define it, because he says it’s a shifting target. He cites that Harvard is now limiting tuition payments to a mere 10 percent of income for families making up to $180,000 a year, and free for families making below $60,000 a year (there’s still that little matter of housing and feeding students in high-priced Boston). Median income for the Chicago area (half make more, half make less) is a shade over $41,000, he notes.

Personally, I think that in most of urban America, and certainly in the urban-sprawl of coastal America, there is no middle class. There are the legitimately rich, and there are the poor. In between sit the lower classes, broken into grades: lower lower-class, middle lower-class and upper lower-class (or if that’s confusing, super lower-class). Harvard’s cut-off of $180,000 a year sounds like about the right cut-off for the upper lower-class. There is a sliver of the populace where household income are between, say, $200,000 a year and actual richness (I’m not sure where that cuts off, exactly). Maybe that’s the lower upper-class.

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