Thursday, March 05, 2009

When is the middle missing a middle? When it's a panel from Washington.

Okay, this made me scream.

The night the President addressed the nation and informed us that VP Biden would head up a middle class task force, I shook my head and thought: “I’ll bet not one person on that task force has been a member of the middle class for decades.”

Now, thanks to, my reaction has been validated. Turns out, everyone who sat on that panel last week in Philadelphia makes more than $150,000 a year – some of them much, much more – which puts them squarely in the top 5% of wage earners.

The panel did not take questions from the audience but luckily, the government thoughtfully created a website where “the middle class” can go online and submit questions. Oh, please. That’s helpful. According to an article in WebProNews, 18% of U.S. households have no Internet access. And guess what contributes to that circumstance? Age and limited education. Who could that be? Perhaps they are seniors on lower fixed incomes or younger people with limited prospects for employment because of limited education.

Does it occur to anyone on this task force that perhaps those people who have the most questions or those who could offer the most insight into the challenges of the middle class might not happen to hop online every night on their laptops? These are the people who need to speak to the middle class task force. They may want to submit questions to this panel of $175,000 / year earners.

And don’t tell me they can go to the public library to access the web. They certainly can and I’m guessing at least some households at the lower end of the middle class income figure do get web access that way. Maybe even some of them will go ahead and submit questions to VP Biden’s task force.

I hope so but for some reason, I doubt it. I’d love to track back where the submissions originate. If even two percent of them come from places like public libraries, I’ll be stunned.

The most amusing part of the article in Time was the mention of the official Middle Class Task Force "live blogger" commenting on a discussion about the "greenest" city: Portland, Los Angeles or Philadelphia. When will these people get a clue? I"m not certain the MCTF needs a live blogger, that perhaps that resource and money could be better spent but what do I know?

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