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Viola Anderson

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What is the universally accepted definition of the "middle class?"

Following the U.S. presidential campaign, I am struck by the way both the Republicans and the Democrats claim to represent and be concerned about the "middle class" without ever defining who belongs to that prized group. The result is that everyone regards themselves as "middle class," as if it is somehow "lower class" to be part of some lesser-regarded group. It's easy to claim you represent a group if you never define who actually fits into that group. Is it possible to represent all those in an undefined group when that group who believes they are middle class may range from minimum wage workers to doctors and lawyers, business owners, stock brokers, etc.?

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  • Oct 15 2012: I remember reading at one time that the middle class is composed of professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, university professors, managers, etc. It is the class that, if allowed to expand, benefits the country the most.

    Another definition is those whose income is in the median zone so that they have more income than 50% of the population and less income than 50%.

    It may be that most believe that if they are not poverty stricken and also not rich, that they are middle class. I think, perhaps, that is the reason both parties seek to tap into this large reservoir of voters. They're easy to reach if they all believe they are middle class and part of the great majority most like themselves. People are likelier to vote for those they believe are like themselves because they conclude that people like themselves will produce the kind of results most beneficial to them.

    That belief may be valid, but only if the underlying belief that they are middle class is true. So it seems to me extraordinarily important that politicians define exactly what they mean when they claim to represent middle class values.

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