What Is the Difference Between ‘Middle Class’ and ‘Working Class’?

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Monday, March 15, 2010 at 3:43 pm

A new ABC News poll shows that 45 percent of Americans consider themselves middle class, a significant difference from other polls that find when asked unprompted, 80 percent of Americans self-identify as middle class. The difference: ABC asked people to identify as middle, working or upper-middle class.

What’s the difference between “working class” and “low-income Americans”? It can be pretty significant. “Working class” often conjures up images of those who engage in physical labor for an hourly wage as opposed to office workers and service industry staffers; and yet, due to unionization and collective bargaining, the former often earn far more than the latter. For instance, a brickmason would probably proudly identify as “working class” instead of “middle class” if given the option, but the mean salary for a brickmason is $47,000 — certainly in the middle-income quintile (and pretty close to the median income). A worker assembling aircraft makes an average of $43,000 a year — also in the middle quintile.

By comparison, a teacher’s assistant — a more “middle-class” job, if the distinction between working and middle class is physical labor and physical setting — makes an average salary of $23,000. A laboratory technician makes an average of $37,000 a year. An optician makes a mean salary of $35,000 a year. A bookkeeping, accounting or auditing clerk will pull in an average of $33,800 a year. All of those jobs require some amount of postsecondary education, don’t involve physical labor and place the people in them in the “lower-middle-class” income quintile. Very few of them would, however, likely identify as “working class” when “middle class” was offered as an option.

The problem with “working class” is that it denotes a class of labor and a particular social grouping, rather than a class of income, while middle and upper middle class — though obviously imprecise in the vernacular — connote a comparative income. The use of “working class” as a category, while obviously designed to overcome the questionable utility of a system by which 80 percent of Americans self-identify as middle class, creates a whole new host of problems for surveys that attempt to determine how income affects people’s perceptions — so much so that, in the middle of its own analysis, ABC News switches to using income-based definitions of the middle/working-class divide to tease out how concerned people are about the economy.

Interestingly, after people self-identify as working class, ABC’s survey stops caring about their opinions. Even though the survey designers are obviously aware that the middle/working-class divide is not about income — since they stop using it halfway through the survey — they still disregard the opinions of those who identify as working class. No wonder those who identify as working class think there’s some conspiracy among the “elites.”

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Comments

7 Comments

DOUGLASFIELD
Comment posted March 15, 2010 @ 8:50 pm

SUCH A GREAT & WEALTHY COUNTRY AS OURS TO CONTINUE ALLOWING INJUSTICES SUCH AS THESE IN LOUISIANA AND BEYOND TO BE INFLICTED ON OUR MIDDLE ~ CLASS & WORKING POOR INNOCENT CITIZENS ARE REALLY CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY ISSUES THAT NEED CHANGE ….

~ GREAT SOCIETIES THAT DO NOT PROTECT THEIR INNOCENT BECOME THE GUILTY ~

CERTAIN AMERICAN FEDERAL APPEAL JUDGES
( LIKE CHIEF JUSTICE EDWARD DUFRENSE OF LOUISIANA) NATIONWIDE ARE DENYING POOR INNOCENT PRISON INMATES NEW RE-TRIALS ( WITHOUT EVEN VIEWING THE APPEALS) RIGHT ALONG WITH THE GUILTY PRISON INMATES BECAUSE THEY DO NOT HAVE ANY LEGAL REPRESENTATION TO PROPERLY FORMULATE THEIR FEDERAL APPEAL RE~TRIAL LEGAL CASES !!!

PRESIDENT OBAMA, DENYING OUR INNOCENT POOR IN U.S. PRISONS THEIR POSSIBLE FREEDOMS ARE CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY ISSUES THAT NEED CHANGE !!!

IF THESE CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY BEING INFLICTED ON THE POSSIBLE INNOCENT IN OUR U.S. PRISONS IN LOUISIANA ARE NOT CORRECTED PRESIDENT OBAMA ~ THEN WHAT IS TO BE WITH THE OTHER VARIOUS U.S. STATES ALLOWING THESE SAME EXACT INJUSTICES TO BE INFLICTED ON THE INNOCENT POOR IN THEIR PRISONS ???

POSSIBLE WRONGFUL EXECUTIONS BEING INFLICTED ON ONLY POOR AMERICANS NATION~WIDE (TROY DAVIS OF GEORGIA, MUMIA ABU~JAMAL OF PENNSYLVANIA ) , FALSE IMPRISONMENT FOR AN ESTIMATED 100,000 INNOCENT POOR AMERICANS WHO OBVIOUSLY WERE NEVER AFFORDED A PROPER LEGAL OR INVESTIGATIVE DEFENSE AND NOW THE HORROR OF OUR JUSTICES TO DENY NEW TRIALS IN LOUISIANA. WITHOUT EVEN LOOKING AT THEIR APPEALS ???

WILL THIS DEMOCRATIC US CONGRESS INVESTIGATE AND CHANGE THESE JUDICIAL INJUSTICES BEING INFLICTED ON OUR POORER AMERICAN’S ???

THIS IS ONLY THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG OF OUR UNDERFUNDED JUDICIAL SYSTEM THAT NEEDS…C*H*A*N*G*E…….

THIS HORROR HAS BEEN PROVEN TO BE A TRUE EVENT AFFECTING THE ENSLAVEMENT OF OUR POORER INNOCENT AMERICAN’S, & ALL OF AMERICA NEEDS TO BE MADE AWARE THAT THIS SAME EXACT TREATMENT NATION~WIDE OF OUR POORER INNOCENT CITIZENS NEEDS A FORMAL US CONGRESSIONAL, U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AND WORLD COURT INVESTIGATION !!!

————————————————————————–
Posted on October 31, 2008 by Gideon
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I’m a little late on writing about this story (via several sources), but it sure is a doozy.

You know how it’s common knowlege that most appeals aren’t successful? Well, if you were a pro-se petitioner in Louisiana for the last 13 years, you knew that you wouldn’t win. Why is that? Because the Chief Judge of their Court of Appeals directed his clerk to summarily deny all appeals from pro-se petitioners without circulating the appeal to other judges.

The clerk, ridden with guilt, committed suicide earlier this year and left a note confessing everything.

This immoral and apparently illegal policy was in place until Jerrold Peterson, the staffer charged with implementing it, blew his brains out in May of last year. Peterson was driven to it in part, his suicide note suggested, by guilt over the nefarious tasks the judges made him perform.

In his note Peterson explained how the court gave indigent appellants the bum’s rush.

Although every criminal writ application is supposed to be reviewed by three judges, he was deputed to winnow out any that had been filed pro se and arrange for their automatic rejection.

Thus were an estimated 2,500 appeals deep-sixed without any judicial consideration whatsoever.

Now, facing public embarassment and possible ethical violations, the Louisiana Supreme Court has stepped in and asked…get this…the same appellate court to look at the appeals again. Note that they did not ask the Court to conduct an investigation into this practice, but simply to consider those appeals that were so summarily denied.

Because, if we placate the defendants with another cursory look at their appeals, we can sweep the ethical violations under the carpet.

At first this whole thing seemed rather odd to me. After all, how is this even possible? Here’s how:

Edward Dufresne, Chief Judge of the Fifth Circuit, took charge of pro se appeals in 1994. He then had Peterson prepare rulings denying writs for all of them and signed off “without so much as a glance,” according to the suicide note. “No judge ever saw the writ application before the ruling was prepared by me,” Peterson wrote in a second suicide note to the Judiciary Commission.

The rulings also bore the names, though not the signatures, of judges Marion Edwards and Wally Rothschild. Neither Edwards nor Rothschild had any clue as to what was in the applications, or even knew that they had been filed, according to Peterson.

So you’ve got one complicit judge and maybe three. But there are 5 more on that court. What of them? Are we to really believe that these 5 (or 7) other judges never once questioned the stark absence of pro-se appeals? Particularly in Louisiana, whose system has the following characteristics:

About 90 percent of criminal defendants in Louisiana are indigent.

Louisiana only provides post-conviction legal aid in death penalty cases. Everyone else must either hire a lawyer, find a lawyer to handle their case pro bono, or handle the appeal themselves. Obviously, most have no choice but to opt for the latter.

One criminal defense lawyer in Louisiana told me that if you’re convicted of murder in Louisiana and you’re innocent, you’re actually better off getting the death penalty. At least then you’ll get a team of lawyers, investigators, and experts to help with your appeal.

This from a state whose criminal justice system was already crumbling. It’s hard to believe that people such as Judge Dufresne take an oath to uphold the law and to prove equal protection under it. Disbarment may be enough, but only barely.

Justice delayed is no justice at all.

THE SMOKING GUN LINK TO AMERICA’S JUDICIAL INJUSTICES BEING INFLICTED ON POORER AMERICAN’S !

NAME OF PUBLICATION: PICAYUNE NEWSPAPER

AUTHOR : MR. JAMES GILL

TITLE OF ARTICLE: IN A SUICIDE NOTE, RELECTIONS OF GUILT

DATE PUBLISHED: OCT 10 2008

LAWYERS FOR POOR AMERICANS IS A WWW LOBBY THAT SINGS OUT FOR MIDDLE CLASS AND WORKING POOR AMERICANS.WE CAN BE FOUND WITH ANY SEARCH ENGINE UNDER OUR NAME OR TELEPHONE NUMBER.(424-247-2013)

~WE ENJOY BRINGING THE GOOD LIFE TO ALL the little people of America ON THE WEB BECAUSE MOST POORER AMERICANS ARE LIVING THIRD WORLD LIFE~STYLES WITHOUT PROPER HEALTHCARE OR LEGAL CARE FOR THEMSELVES AND THEIR FAMILIES !

WE ARE ALL VERY WELL AWARE THAT OUR U.S.WEALTHY ELITE BILLIONAIRES WHO CONTROL OUR U.S.CONGRESS THROUGH THEIR BIG $$ LOBBYISTS HAVE DECIDED THAT THE WORLD'S POOR SOMEHOW ARE MORE IMPORTANT TO ASSIST THEN THEIR OWN FELLOW AMERICANS.

THIS NEW WORLD ORDER MENTALITY BY OUR AMERICAN BILLIONAIRE CABAL NEEDS CHANGE …

~ DENYING OUR INNOCENT POOR THEIR POSSIBLE FREEDOM IN LOUISIANA & BEYOND NEEDS CHANGE …WHERE IS 60 MINUTES AND 20/20 WHEN OUR AMERICAN POOR NEED THEM ???


OMNIUM BONORUM
Comment posted March 16, 2010 @ 3:43 am

D: You make an erroneous assumption . THERE ARE 5 CIRCUIT COURTS OF APPEAL , DISTRICTS IF YOU WILL, AND ONLY ONE OF THEM IS ACCUSED OR ALLEGED TO HAVE COMMITTED THE EGREGIOUS CONDUCT. IF PROVEN , THE ALLEGATIONS WOULD BE BAD ENOUGH BUT BY NO MEANS ARE SUCH ALLEGATIONS DIRECTED TO EVERY JUDGE IN THE CIRCUIT IN QUESTION AND CERTAINLY NOT APPLICABLE TO THE JUDGES OF THE OTHER FOUR CIRCUIT COURTS OF APPEAL MOREOVER WE HAVE AN AGGRESSIVE AND VERY ACTIVE JUDICIARY COMMISSION CHARGED WITH MAKING INVESTIGATIONS INTO SUCH MATTERS THUS THE SUGGESTION THAT THE LASC DID NOT ORDER AN INVESTIGATION IS ERRONEOUS AS WELL .THERE ARE MANY REASONS TO BE CRITICAL OF OUR SYSTEM OF ADMINISTERING JUSTICE THROUGHOUT THE U.S. YOU DON'T HAVE TO MAKE STUFF UP OR EXAGGERATE OR COLOR THE CRITIQUE BY INVOKING REGIONAL PREJUDICE.


DOUGLASFIELD
Comment posted March 16, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

GLAD TO HEAR FROM ANOTHER AMERICAN ON INJUSTICES SUCH AS THESE BEING CONDUCTED NATION~WIDE. TO OUR KNOWLEDGE THIS WAS THE VERY FIRST WRITTEN CONFIRMATION ( AUTHOR, JAMES GILL ) THAT THIS JUDICIAL UNJUST CONDUCT HAS BEEN INFLICTED ON OUR POORER AMERICANS.WE HAVE FOR TWO YEARS GOTTEN VARIOUS REPORTS THAT THIS SAME EXACT UNJUST TREATMENT
OF POORER AMERICANS HAS BEEN TAKING PLACE ELSEWHERE IN AMERICA.THAT IS THE REASON WHY WE ARE CALLING FOR A NATIONAL U.S.CONGRESSIONAL & U.S.JUDICIAL INVESTIGATION.

CRIMINALS JUDGING OTHER CONVICTED CRIMINALS APPEALING FOR NEW RETRIALS IS A NEW TAKE ON JUSTICE IN AMERICA THAT WE BELIEVE NEEDS CHANGE WHEREVER THAT OCCURS NATION~WIDE.


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Glenn
Comment posted November 4, 2010 @ 3:11 am

If you have to work to keep a roof over your head and food on the table, without any additional passive income from stock holdings or capital gains etc, then you're “working” class; you rely on the sale of your labour for an income, whether that be in an office on a phone or on a construction site. If on the other hand you work only because you want to and choose to; if you can walk out of your job and live comfortably on existing wealth for a matter of years you are not “working class”, but middle class or higher on the scale. I feel American's dislike the term “working class” thanks to anti-communism and McCarthyism, and I recon the cultural fear or rejection of moderate left politics as communist or unAmerican has definitely been to that nation's detriment.


Scot Patterson
Comment posted April 16, 2011 @ 3:29 pm

It seems that the working class has an image problem. Not so much with the public, but with the marginalization of the working class as represented in the media. A survey by Larry Bartel, Unequal Democracy, asked people to rate how warmly or coldly they felt toward a long list of groups (p.137). Working class outpolled middle-class people, poor people, and rich people by 5 points, 9 points, and 22 points respectively. The working class was more warmly considered than women, older people, the military, young people, the Democratic party, labor unions, and the Republican party. This suggests that our society has good feelings about the working class.

The media portrayal of the working class tells a different story. Social researchers point out that the media typically focuses on the lives of middle and upper classes with all of their privileges. The interests and perspectives of the working class are seldom represented. An article by Ricard Butsch indicates that depictions of working class wives are rare,and that working class men tend to be shown as immature, irresponsible, and needing supervision. This portrayal by the media is contributing to the gradual decline in status for the working class.

As pointed out n the article, the breakdown of SES by sociologists no longer makes sense. Using a five point scale, the working class was considered beneath middle class. However, many members of the working class earn middle- or upper middle class incomes.

I would suggest that the definition of “working class” is more of a lifestyle choice than income level. Yes, we work with our hands, but many of us earn a decent living.

I have developed a website, workingclasspride.com, that discusses these issues and others from the working class perspective. It’s a much needed PR campaign for the working class.

scot patterson


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