Sunday, September 25, 2011

What Happened to the Middle Class?

An article caught my eye this morning that updates the statistical findings available to us back in the 90s when we wrote Power and Covenants: Men, Women and Priesthood.

In the post the author, Jeremy Egerer, asserts the emergence of families with dual incomes has all but assured two demographic realities in our American society -- 1) the middle class is not improving economically, and 2) the lower wage earner class is shrinking as jobs for which they might be suited are disappearing.

Egerer is a newly-minted Christian conservative writer, having defected from the self-described ranks of "radical liberalism," making his insights particularly valid, it would seem, having bridged the gap of logic at long last.

Egerer reminds us that when Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations, he noted the wages of the lowest classes were oftentimes determined by the lowest their employers could pay. Now, however, present population acknowledges that employers could not pay their workers less than would maintain a family of four (Book I, chapter VIII). Back in those days, if employers were to pay less that the minimum required for sustainability, then populations would shrink until competition over labor would force the wages of even the lowest classes higher. Western societies are generally monogamous in terms of marital structure, and historically the poorest working class was once able, even without minimum wage regulations, to afford families of five and greater. If this were not the case, then wealthy families would have been primarily responsible for the present population. However, that's not a likely scenario, considering even Smith acknowledged that wealthier women were less inclined toward childbearing.

Significantly, Smith noted wages could fall below this natural sustainability floor. If a household were to have a second source of income, the worker was likely to compete for employment at a lower price than his neighbors, bringing wages below standards of maintenance. Today, that second income is provided either when welfare payments are received from the state or when two breadwinners exist in the same home. The natural result of either circumstance is that the once-sustainable wages of the single employment are compromised, and though two breadwinners now occupy one household, their wealth is not greatly augmented.

The U.S. Census Bureau confirms this reality with its newly-released 2010 study on household income demographics. In the class warfare nonsense one hears from the left in an effort to protect the struggling lower classes who are oppressed (as they would have us believe), the lower class is least likely to be dual-income families, while those in wealthier middle-class categories are a minimum of close to four times more likely to have dual incomes. Compared with the bracket with the highest percentage of dual income households, the lowest quintile is somewhere around eleven times less likely to have a second income.  If this is the case, then poverty and the number of incomes are absolutely correlated.

Rejecting the mantra of the leftists and the socialists, Egerer concludes:

"The wise know another method of restoring household stability, and it is a restoration of the traditional, biblical nuclear family.  It will do little good to have both parents live in the same home if they refuse to subscribe to the natural roles provided by the God of nature. How the husband and wife manage themselves -- the man laboring as the breadwinner and the giver of law, the woman laboring with equal nobility to raise her children and ensure the propagation of heritage -- is as important as marriage itself. This is not to say that women should never seek maximum productivity, as even the Bible praises the woman who, above and beyond her duty to her household, operates a business from her home. But her income must remain in most cases a responsibility secondary to both the care of her children and the economic liberty of the family. This structure is intended by God. And if mankind is not wise enough to heed His call, as shown above, it will be enforced by the iron hand of nature." (Emphasis mine).

All Egerer has done here is affirm what Scott Strong and I were writing about twenty-five years ago:

"Recognizing the two parts [male and female] must be different, males and females should cherish our different natures to perform our unique tasks for the benefit and blessing of the whole. While the powers resident in the different natures and capacities of the sexes are not the same, neither are they superior or inferior to each other. They are equally necessary and valuable.

"Some fail to understand the term different does not imply the meaning unequal. Different does not mean unequal. Different capacities are not unequal capacities. Different roles and duties are not necessarily unequal roles and duties. Different missions and responsibilities are not necessarily unequal missions and responsibilities. Some do not comprehend this important principle with regard to the sexes.

"Total and absolute equality can and does exist within the dichotomy of the marriage covenant."

President Spencer W. Kimball
We cited President Spencer W. Kimball:

"Many of the social restraints which in the past have helped to reinforce and to shore up the family are dissolving and disappearing. The time will come when only those who believe deeply and actively in the family will be able to preserve their families in the midst of the gathering evil around us." (Ensign, October 1980, 4).

"We speak not by way of alarm but by way of gentle counsel. Let us go back to the basics and follow the fundamentals. Thus we will experience a spiritual resurgence in our lives which will help us through these tempestuous times." (Ensign, May 1981, 80).

As fallen mortals we have an innate desire to “want it all,” even when all the choices seem so “good.” The good news is we have more choices as men and women than ever before.

Sometimes forgotten from our pre-mortal experience is the reality we came to earth to make choices here, as we did there. If we will follow President Kimball’s counsel and go back to the basics, we will rediscover the truths about men and women, eternal marriage and the pure absolute equality of the sexes. Such truths will anchor our vision of becoming eternal couples dwelling in celestial glory and creating worlds without end. The realization of such lofty aims is only the result of today’s choices. Those eternal choices have everything to do with our respective but equal roles.

Only slightly off topic (bear with me), I heard many say this morning in our high priests' group, "Some people don't have a choice about whether or not they will work on Sunday, because that's what their jobs require them to do." Steve Young was cited as the example of a Mormon whose job (NFL football analyst) requires him to work on Sunday. Before that his job as quarterback required him to work on Sunday. Therefore, the reasoning proceeded among otherwise intelligent and seasoned high priests, he doesn't have a choice. REALLY?

No one even offered the obvious: Steve Young made a choice in his employment. No one forced him to take a job that required Sunday work. He made a choice. Don't condemn him for the choice he made. Similarly, no one compels you to do what you do.

Remember this, it is important: We all have moral agency to choose. It is a God-given endowment to each of us. The government of the United States of America is founded upon this key principle of freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness. We do that by choosing from among the vast array of alternatives. A key purpose of mortality is to learn to make choices, and to accept gladly the consequences of those choices, knowing we are accountable before Almighty God. 

Is there no other way?

There is no other way.

Align your choices with "the natural roles provided by the God of nature."

It is statistically obvious our society has not chosen well, but just because they haven't and they don't is no excuse for you to follow them over the cliff, is it? Our alignment determines our trajectory when our choices take flight toward their intended target.

So choose well. The harvest will be worth all the sacrifice.

No comments:

Post a Comment