Carter claims that today’s Middle Class is equivalent to poor people when he was President.
From one who lived as a young, poor person in the Carter years, let’s review:
Poor people back then lacked cars, telephones, adequate clothing and food. It was possible, pre-AIDS, to sell your blood for $5 per visit, and you were allowed to do this once a week. The five dollars bought food for a week for two if you only ate lentils, potatoes, onions and milk and whatever was cheap. No meat, no cheese, some peanut butter. Think Russian peasant, early 19th century, except for the peanut butter. Personally, I easily fit a women’s size 2, which was quite large on me. Clothing was very expensive (pre-cheap-Chinese-goods), and hand-me-downs were worn by many. I owned two pairs of jeans. Buying shoes for children was a real challenge, especially if said children were fed and insisted on growing. I could go on and on, but I imagine that many of our readers can recall. Oh, and if you were able to purchase a house interest rates were astronomical.
So when Jimmy Carter claims that living in poverty, circa 1978, was in anyway similar to being in the American Middle Class today, I call bullshit:
Former President Jimmy Carter said Monday that the income gap in the United States has increased to the point where members of the middle class resemble the Americans who lived in poverty when he occupied the White House. [In what way do they resemble it, Mr. Carter? Be specific please? Is it a lack of cell phones (no, we have Obamaphones for the poor, and everyone else older than about 12 years old has a regular cell phone? TVs? I don’t think so. Cars? Please. What utter nonsense. – Aggie]
Carter offered his assessment of the nation’s economic challenges Monday at a Habitat for Humanity construction site in Oakland — the first of five cities he and wife Rosalynn plan to visit this week to commemorate their three-decade alliance with the international nonprofit that promotes and builds affordable housing.
The recent economic downturn revealed that families living in even comparatively well-off, but expensive regions like the San Francisco Bay Area are economically insecure, he said.
“Even in one of the wealthiest parts of the world there is a great deal of foreclosures and now a great deal of people who are fortunate to own their own houses owe more on them than the houses are worth in the present market, and that’s all changed in the last eight years,” Carter said during an exclusive interview with The Associated Press.
Taking a break from framing windows at a new 12-unit town house development in a section of East Oakland where Habitat already has built or repaired 115 homes, the 89-year-old former Democratic president said the federal government is investing less in affordable housing at a time of greater need. [Really? He is going into poor areas and labeling them “middle class” in order to make this statement. Home ownership is higher among the middle class, the lower middle class and poor people than when he was President. Does anyone recall that in the Carter era, interest rates were north of 10%? – Aggie]
“The disparity between rich people and poor people in America has increased dramatically since when we started,” he said. “The middle class has become more like poor people than they were 30 years ago. So I don’t think it’s getting any better.” [Disparity may have increased, but the Middle Class lives more like the affluent in the Carter years. – Aggie]
Years of tax breaks for the wealthy, a minimum wage untethered from the inflation rate and electoral districts drawn to maximize political polarization have reduced the quality of life for all but a small fraction of Americans and imperiled the nation’s standing as “a real superpower,” he said. [I agree that we have become more polarized and that gerrymandering is not helping. – Aggie]
Ok, that’s as much as I can take. The difficult part of this is that I agree that it would be nice for everyone to have more, but I disagree about the pathway. When Carter and his ilk demonize people who disagree, and frankly lie about what life was like when he was President, it only further destroys the already weak ties we have to each other in the United States.