Riding in on the train to work this morning I over heard a conversation. One of the employees of our local transit authority was discussing his summer home on a lake with his friend. Initially I had a flash of indignation. How could this blue collar worker afford a summer place when a college educated white collar worker like myself couldn’t? Obviously they were paying him too much and unlike me he did not need to worry about his retirement because of his pension.
Then I began to remember growing up in my blue collar neighborhood in the 1960s. The people in it were factory workers, fireman, truck drivers, teachers etc. It was a typical middle class neighborhood of well maintained homes. Fathers went to work while the mothers remained at home with the kids. Several of the families owned a cottage on the beach, in the mountains, or a camp site. Schools in the blue collar city were safe and well equipped. Growing up watching the Jetsons the future looked bright.
I left the neighborhood in the early 70s for the military, college, career and eventually my own family. Though I visited my parents frequently I was forced to reengage with the neighborhood after my mother’s death. I tried to help my father sell his house.
The neighborhood had changed dramatically. The blue collar jobs were gone, first to the south and eventually offshore. Most of the houses my friends lived in had deteriorated. Several of the houses on the street were bank owned with lawns of waist deep grass. The house where one of my friends used to live had recently experienced a drive by shooting. The schools that gave me an education were now gang filled warehouses .By some miracle we were able to sell the house for much less than we would of several years ago.
The US today is very different than the one I grew up in and defended in the military. The middle class has been devastated from 30 years of trickle on economics. Our infrastructure is rotting. I ride to work on trains that went into service when I was in Junior High and constantly break down. My kids, despite their college educations, will have a lower standard of living than I did. Our elections are just theater where we get to choose between a corporate democrat or corporate republican for president. The congress is a joke where politicians openly sell themselves and their constituents. Wall Street steals billions from the American people and is not held accountable. Instead of a vibrant middle class we are creating serfs.
The present is closer to Rollerball (original James Cann version) than the Jetsons.