Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Poor Help Prop up the Middle Class

Push up economics:  Many conservative middle class voters are resentful of the poor, thinking them shiftless and lazy, paying no taxes and often instead collecting unjustified income from the government.  71 percent of Republicans, for instance, in a recent poll, said “they believed the poor should not be exempt from income taxes.”   Well, the poor are not ‘exempt.’   They just don’t make enough income to make it to the positive tax rate.  Do any of the middle class want to trade places with the poor?

The middle class should be grateful to the poor, and the labor they provide.  The poor often work hard, for mean wages, making a significant contribution to middle class welfare.   Also, as consumers, the poor purchase an important portion of the production of the middle class, and help keep the members of the middle class in business and employed.  Many middle class businesses, and their employees, owe their profit margins, and continuing business, to the purchases of the poor. The poor represent at least 15% of the population, and even if their purchasing power is much less, it is enough to make a difference.  And they provide other opportunities for middle class income and activity.  By cutting off supports to the poor, or by raising taxes on the poor, the middle class will do themselves no favor.  Indeed, instead, by providing more opportunity to the poor, by improving their welfare, the middle class will improve their own situation.

More money comes up to the middle class from the poor, than comes down to them from the wealthy.  Indeed, the wealthy take their profit from the middle class.

For a nice summary of some of the functions poverty and the poor serve for the rest of society,  and in particular the middle class, see Herbert J Gans:  “The Uses of Poverty: The Poor Pay All.”:

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