Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It's Official--The Middle Class is No More

It’s official--the middle class is no more.

When the icon-of-middle-class-America starts lowering its prices and changing the lay-outs of their stores, you know that an era is passing.

JC Penney announced that as of February 1, 2012, it will permanently slash all of its prices by at least 40% with what their CEO Ron Johnson said is “a sweeping overhaul of its stores and strategy.” Soon middle-class America will discover that Target and Wal-Mart aren’t the only cheap department stores on the block.

I don’t know whether to be thrilled or sad. I’m thrilled to know I no longer have to wait until the “after Christmas sales” (which, of course, began before Christmas these past few years) to find bargains. But deep down I’m feeling confused and more than a bit sad. It’s sad because, if you add Sears’ recent announcement that it will close many of its retailers, you’ll realize there’s no longer a range of department stores in between the lowbrow of Wally World and its ilk and the upper-crust snobbism of the Lords and Taylor/Saks 5th  Avenue type of stores. 

JC Penney won’t be able to maintain its high quality of clothing and merchandise, I fear, because with dwindling price tags, how will the executives continue to bring home those big paychecks they’re used to from the profits? They’ll have to start stocking the cheap, made-in-China crap that fills Wally World’s shelves. Possibly JC Penney will be able to keep their quality products available at these discount prices, but the only way is probably by slashing their employees’ rate of pay by 40% and hiring only part-time and seasonal workers (while downsizing the number of full-time Penney’s employees still on the books). Either way, this news doesn’t look like a happy ending for a lot of folks.

Underpaid/underemployed/unemployed Americans will be forced to shop at stores with low quality goods, and the “fat cats” (who live off the interest of their large offshore bank accounts) will continue to shop at their high end designer fashion boutiques. Nothing new there, really, but for a while at least some Americans thought they had the right to be called “the Middle Class”.

Face it folks, most of us reading this blog are in the bottom 99% with no hopes of ever becoming part of the top 1%. Do the math, look at your checkbook, and tell me where you’ll be shopping (if you can afford to) next week.

(For another example of how 99% of Americans have been taken advantage of, read:  Emblematic of 1 Percenters, Cooper Tire Punk’d Workers)

How are you coping with the ever-widening gap between "haves" and "have-nots"? Any tips on where to find a decent paying job? Please share your comments and concerns below... Perhaps if the 99% sticks together we can make the world a better place.

(Please join the discussion on Facebook at the Mad-As-Hell Party page, too.)

1 comment :

Cindy A. Matthews said...

A comment I left at an email loop where a heated discussion about "who is at fault?" for the current economic downturn in the US:

I actually took economics 101 in college and made an A+. Talk about a class that's a complete waste of time when the light of reality shines into one's life. ;)

When hard-working, taxpaying, decent people are daily losing their homes, losing
their jobs and health insurance and can't afford to buy food
for their families, why should we be protecting the "rights" of corporations and
obscenely rich people to keep all the wealth trapped in their bank
accounts--most of the accounts being located offshore in places like the Cayman
Islands, anyway?

I don't know... The last time this sort of inequality was pointed out and the mob took action, quite a few of the aristocracy had their heads lobbed off with a guillotine! Remember Marie Antoinette? ;)

I think we'd better start working on passing fair laws that protect the "little people" (which 99% of us are) before things get so bad another French-style
Revolution starts, don't you?

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