Friday, February 20, 2009

The Middle Class - The Great Leveller

The Middle Class is the great leveller of income and wealth. (See "Burgeoning Bourgeoisie" Special Report by The Economist Friday 20th February 2009 here. )

The Middle Class is created through trade and commerce, fully educated about the world and is of the world. By the sweat of its brows, the Middle Class pushes forward from nothing but the shirt on his back to save and acquire basic assets such as a house and a car and education for his children. In this way, the assets of one generation is passed on to the next, through careful handling of money and finance, prudence and frugality, honesty and hard work.

The Middle Class is where the Coolie Class aspires to. The Coolie Class is disadvantaged by the lack of choice of occupation and is restricted to specific dead-end employment. The Coolie Class can only make ends meet, and sickness is a potential ticket to poverty. Without a house or a car, the Coolie Class can still strive to save and gather all the pennies and send their children to school and beat them until they pass all their exams.

The privileged by way of history evolved to become the Political Class which is an economic class by itself for it has the potential to amass fortunes through the abuse of political power (as a rat which falls into the rice bag). Politics is not seen as a duty to govern for the sake of the nation but to take advantage of for economic gains. Such members of the Political Class have no qualms about wrecking the whole social and economic structure just so as to hold on to power for as long as society allows them to do so.

Some members of the Middle Class may try to join the Political Class with the purpose keeping politicians honest. By their very motivation, they are not part of the Elite. The Middle Class in politics brings with them the Middle Class ethics of hard work, honesty, and be of service to all and sundry, only to be floored by mercenaries of the Elite. (But some of the members of the Middle Class could be traitors - especially those who have been professionally trained to disregard the pain they inflict on others in the belief that they are doing good.)

But my point is that it is the Middle Class thinking that is the reason for many of us calmouring for education to be key investment that the government must make for the society and the country during such a trying time. With education, young people can contribute to building the society that they have inherited (although some may wish to disinherit themselves by trying to destroy it). With education, the unemployed can only travel the world in search of a proper occupation. This is for those of the Middle Class who have been taught to depend on themselves, to fend for themselves, to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. With education, those who have been transported on a conveyor belt on a magic mystery tour will find themselves dumped when the conveyor stops; the consolation is that at least they have been endowed with the elements of a basis for finding where their bootstraps are.

It is not strange that the Middle Class is versatile and mobile. Because they have sweated for the little assets they own, they are always on the lookout for a safe place to deposit their little fortunes. This is where the political climate comes in. There is where the social infrastructure comes in. This is where the Political Class plays a crucial part in determining the investment climate of the country. If the Political Class cannot see beyond their fat tummies, then the economy will face a hallowing of the Middle Class and be left with the Coolie Class to deal with. (Do not therefore be dismayed if the Political Class try to romance the Coolie Class by harping on the good old days when the sultans ruled absolutely over the masses.)

We should all be Middle Class and be the same as everybody else.