A lot of analytical approaches reveal what’s killing middle-class families. They pay too much for shelter, medical care, child care, transportation and education. Another way of expressing the problem is to say that many middle-class parents work too hard and too long, and they do not get paid enough for their efforts.
The minimum wage is supposed to address low compensation but it does not. For less-skilled workers, possibly the best thing we can do is stop illegal immigration. Within a few years, that would force up wages, and with that would come the most gawdawful screams from New York to California as everything from Big Macs to housecleaning shot up in price.
One way around this set of facts would be a significant child allowance, one large enough to enable and even entice one middle-class parent in each household to stay home. That’s normal in France, but it is abnormal here.
Many other abnormal ideas abound for helping the middle classes, but will even an Obamian-like upheaval for change make enacting any of them more likely? Let’s hope so, or we can put our faith in the old remedies—cut taxes, outlaw gay marriage, encourage abortion or don’t, pray in the schools or don’t. Follow this formula and we’ll have a change, all right, but we’ll have a new normal that we are going to like less than the one we already have.
“The fierce urgency of now” is the phrase Mr. Obama uses to plead and demand that changes, long delayed and never made, be done. They never will be by politicians too long in office, and too rich and too comfortable to understand what living normal means.
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