In "The Scarlet Letter", Hester Prynne is forced by the community to wear the letter "A" emblazoned on her bosom for the act of adultery. This was the community's way of shaming her for violating its laws of decency and conduct.
I'm beginning to think that the entire middle class of the United States should be forced to have the letter "E" emblazoned on its bosom, representing the word "Entitlements", the evil to which the middle class has lately fallen victim.
There was a time in this country when being middle class meant something. It meant that you and your family lived on the income that the family produced, usually in a house in which regular mortgage payments were made. The family payed its taxes, and it received little or nothing from the federal government in the form of either direct or indirect transfer payments. When items were purchased, they were saved for in advance. And if they were financed, regular payments were made every month until the debt was paid. Being "middle class" meant nothing if not belonging to a class of Americans who looked to the federal government to provide little more than national defense, international relations, the regulation of interstate commerce and the funding of the interstate highway system.
But the middle class I've just described does not exist anymore. Being middle class today means expecting the federal government to underwrite a portion of your children's college education. Being middle class today means that you unblinkingly accept---and loudly defend---tax credits paid you simply because of your ability to reproduce. Being middle class today means that a one-hour trip to the doctor should cost you no more than $25 out of pocket, while your employer is looked to in order to offset the largest portion of your medical care. Being middle class today means braying loudly to the cameras that Wall Street was receiving more love from Uncle Sugar than Main Street, because your $650,000 McMansion has lost 40% of its value and your ARM payment has more than doubled. Being middle class today means looking to government to provide skating rinks, skateboard parks, after-school enrichment programs and a full menu of activities for your aging parents at the local Seniors Center. And when those aging parents reach the age where they can no longer care for themselves, being middle class today means looking to the government to provide full time, long-term care for them.
There was a time during the Reagan Administration where the "welfare queen" came into vogue; you know, the caricature of a single mother with several children (usually of different sires), no job, living in public housing, drawing public assistance and feeding herself and children on AFDC. The welfare queen lives on, except she is now more likely to be driving a tricked out SUV and living in a 4500 square foot house. She (and her husband) are raising a couple of kids, putting little money into their 4o1K's while counting on student loans to finance their children's education. After paying all their bills each month, they only go a few hundred dollars deeper into credit card debt. No one told them that when it came time to refinance out of that ridiculous mortgage they signed, their house may actually have lost value resulting in unaffordable payments for a house they could never afford in the first place. They are lucky enough though, to have a golf cart charging in the garage so that they won't have to drive one of their SUV's to the gated community pool--wouldn't want to contribute any more greenhouse gases than they already do! Oh, and there's a sticker on their cars with only one word on it...."Hope".