In an article titled “The Strange Case of Americas’ Disappearing Middle Class” by Paul Mason (economics editor of Channel 4 News) it is reported that “…..the middle class is shrinking. A report from the Pew Research Center last week found that, for the first time since the 1970s, families defined as “middle income” are actually in a minority in the US – squeezed from both ends by an enlarged poverty-stricken group below them, and an enriched group above them.”
Mason also reminds readers that democracy in the US is built on the bedrock of Middle America and explains that “the young family with kids, its income gradually rising as the years go by, is the foundation of political stability and consensus”
I have always believed that UnitedFuture is the party for middle NZ, not because we are unconcerned about the plight of the poor, nor are we unsupportive of the need for a thriving business community, but because we understand that like any western democracy, we too are reliant on the stability, the voluntary efforts, the taxes and the opportunity that middle NZ provides.
So how is Middle NZ faring? In 2013 Bryan Bruce made a documentary called “Mind the Gap” Bruce said the middle class was squeezed from two directions and had become the “struggling class”. Mind the Gap suggests that rich people benefit from tax evasion of up to $5 billion a year, and middle income earners subsidise low wages.
So here we are going into 2016 and as I watch with concern the American Presidential race develop I wonder if the shrinking middle-class in the US explains why candidates like Trump are polling well…. desperate people looking for extreme methods to rescue them. Let us watch and learn and make sure New Zealanders don’t need to approach our election in 2017 willing to give toxic extremism a go. We all need to be reminding our friends and family that they do have a party who champions the centre.
Mason finishes his article with this thought “who actually understands us, and who can offer us a plausible way beyond stagnating real incomes and multigenerational insecurity.” In NZ the answer I believe at a political level is United Future.
Judy Turner, Deputy Leader