Wednesday, April 09, 2008

What is middle class? Am I part Bourgeoisie or Marxist?

I have always considered myself a middle class, blue collar worker. I guess I have not really put a great amount of thought into social hierarchy. Really there are many layers to consider. But here is where I come from:

I started working pretty young selling papers on the streets of Eureka, then a paper route. At age 15 I went to work at Duck’s Market and then was fortunate to land a union retail clerks job at Bazar at 16. I worked at Bazar until it closed and found myself in a white collar job working as a finance officer at Transamerica. I married Robin while working in finances and Robin was a hairdresser. We were dirt broke middle class then. I quit Transamerica in 1979, and went back to school. I applied for summer work at Louisiana Pacific doing clean up in the closed stud mill. I was shocked to be hired for over $8.00 and hour. It was big bucks at the time. I moved to the Saw Mill until they were about to close. In 1980 I applied for work in the Pulp Mill, and there I am. I have been through lean times when I was laid off almost yearly in the Reagan years and really had to scrimp to get by. I did take a leave of absence from the mill and went to work for the union for a 5 year term as a union organizer. I have made as little as $7,000 a year and have topped out at $78,000 a year. But through all the different financial levels I have always considered myself middle class. Whether I have been “lower” or “upper” middle class is up to interpretation.

Let me take my argument of whether I should be part of the middle class a step further. A working family in Humboldt County should be able to buy a house. Can we agree on that? OK, in 2006 you needed a household income over $85,000 to qualify buying a median (average) priced home in Humboldt County at $349,500. Humboldt Association of Realtors My household income at that time was around $90,000, not far from the median needed to by a house. I do not consider that “upper class.” It is all relative.

The Drum Major Institute defines the US middle class as people making between $25,000 and $100,000. That seems about right to me.

The median average household income for Humboldt County is just over $40,000 as of 2008. If there is only one wage earner in that house, they need to make over $18 an hour to make that. Do you except that only 13% or less of the households can afford to buy a house? And get this, in 2000 nearly 50% of Humboldt County wage earners could buy a house!

I realize that Humboldt County has taken a terrible turn economy wise. Goods and services cost more here than most places in the US. Jobs are moving out of the area, raw materials leaving as unfinished product, tourism and small businesses taking over, and even our children being exported to make a living. Does that mean we should except a lower standard of living and economics? We should just give up and shut up? When will we stop this trend and promote sensible growth? I hope sooner than later.

I stand by my claim that I am middle class. Whether in Humboldt County or Timbuktu.

Don’t shoot the messenger.

21 comments:

beachcomber said...

I believe I speak for many when I say that "jason" who made the previous comment is tragically LOW CLASS...determined when one decides that "professional spammer" is an acceptable career choice.

Anonymous said...

Middle class is a dying breed in the US. The gap between the rich (upper class) and the poor (lower class) is growing wider. Soon there will be no middle class. Will Richard's "sensible growth" help? No, because all the laws and regulations keeping us peons down are made by the rich upper class politicians at the state and federal levels; these politicians are bought and paid for by the lobbyists that work for the giant corporations that run the country and the world. If you thinl otherwise, you've got your head in the sand. Adn by the way, who or what the hell is the Drun Major Institute? Never heard of then but they sound like musicians not economists.

Anonymous said...

Please ignore the typographical errors on the last post ... I am a lousy typist.

Shane said...

Don't you mean Marksist?

Anonymous said...

Richard, don't forget that in 2006, local real estate prices were at their highest level in history. They have dropped way down since then. That drop really ought to be figured into the mix when you are writing about how affordable local homes are for local people.

Anonymous said...

11:22 they haven't dropped that much ... yet.

Anon.R.mous said...

You know, just because you keep telling yourself that you are middle class, doesn't make is so. I keep telling myself I'm a pretty little flower, and damn it, it hasn't happened yet.

:(

Carol said...

Not that was very funny, Anon.R.mous!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Marks, In equating class with income(and buying power) you demonstrate that the class you belong to is the lower class.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
samoasoftball said...

3:50pm-Ah, the living wage ordinance for Eureka. I do not live in the city boundaries, so my signature is no good. I have not been approached by anyone about helping in the process, and I do not know Bill Holmes, the person distributing the petition. I can't argue the premise. I wish him and his group all the luck in the world.

Has local labor been solicited for help? I sure haven't been contacted except by anonymous pot shot goober whinney wieners. http://eurekafaircompensationact.googlepages.com/

Anonymous said...

samoasoftball said...
Has local labor been solicited for help? I sure haven't been contacted except by anonymous pot shot goober whinney wieners. http://eurekafaircompensationact.googlepages.com/
6:05 PM


How does gay-baiting help you organize local workers, Richard? This constant reference to wieners doesn't help.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Suzie said...

The Central Committee is far too busy passing resolutions about torture in Cuba to trouble themselves with an actual local issue. Count on them to ignore you completely. Unless you start paying Richard or his friends with the brown paper bags and the nepotism makework jobs, then you'll get a hearing.

samoasoftball said...

8:33pm-Sellout? what is my payback? you anonymous wiener supreme.

くれくれ厨 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Maybe the minimum wage ordinance people should actually go to the Central Committee and ask for an endorsement.

Fred said...

At some point in time, the working folks need to speak up on this minimum wage ordinance. This will be inflationary to all of us, including the unions.

Maybe that's why the unions support it, or not?

Anonymous said...

Now Richard is busy censoring comments on his own blog because they call him out on failing to support the working families in Eureka who need a raise. How sad.

Anonymous said...

Dear Richard,

you fucking suck. how can you claim to be for the working man when you oppose the living wage for the working man in eureka? your exuses are lame and you are even more lame. you say you're for the working man...well FUKING PROVE IT ALREADY!!!! HELP OUT WORKERS WHO DONT PAY YOUR ASS1!!!

samoasoftball said...

11:23pm I am not against the living wage ordinance! Where did you get this idea? I have been censoring caustic rhetoric that has been adding nothing to the conversation.