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A Shrinking Middle Class

The poor economy has led to an increase in the number of children living in poverty.

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-In the past 4 years, 20 million people who used to be in the middle class have fallen out of the middle class down on top of the people who are traditionally poor. These people have PhDs. These people have homes. The very things that used to be the springboard out of poverty into the middle class are now becoming trapped doors out of the middle class into poverty. -When the market crashed, we lost 100,000. Right now, we are living from paycheck to paycheck. California just had this horrible economic downturn and all of the state positions were capped. Tom is making less now than he did 10 years ago. -[unk] -Over the last 2 years, my family life has definitely changed. My mom, 4 or 8 years ago, she didn't have a job. Now, she has 3. -They're just clerical positions that don't make over $20. It just feels like we're always tired. -I think a lot of people feel that America has gotten poorer and that's why our families are in such trouble. America is actually richer than ever. The pie gets bigger, but the middle class is getting less; and our children are getting the short end of the stick. One out of five kids today is living in poverty. That means their health impacts are awful. That means their education attainment tends to be a lot lower. That's a national emergency. -My ability to parent has been impacted greatly. I'm not at home as much and I'm not as patient. -If we go to Target, can we get the bigger crayons? -Yeah, but we have to wait until mom gets paid. -James was diagnosed with autism when he was 20 months. He needs a lot of supervision. We can't do a lot of things for our kids. James do you need one of these-- -Yeah. -for you-- James needs tutoring and I can't provide that for him. -Financial instability leads to all kinds of other instabilities especially for a child. That's not just about 1 family. that's about a country. The fastest way to go from being a first-rate country to being a third-rate country is to just skip a generation of investment. -There's still some good paper in there. When I was growing up in Mexico, there was a clear distinction between the haves and the have nots. I'm beginning to see some of that same pattern emerge here in the United States. We talk a lot about kids being our priority, but yet the money is not going toward their education, their health care. What are our values? I think that part of what we need to do as America is to develop policies according to those values. I'm not seeing that happen.