Home The Middle-Class Survival Guide

The Middle-Class Survival Guide

The User's Profile charleshughsmith July 12, 2012
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Executive Summary

  • Recognize the signs of serfdom
  • Calculate your income's vulnerability to the system
  • Don't count on high inflation to inflate away your debt obligations
  • 10 strategies you can start implementing right now to defend against the forces trying to sap your quality of life

If you have not yet read Part I: Middle Class? Here's What's Destroying Your Future, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

In Part I, we surveyed the key dynamics that have eroded middle-class wealth and income over the past 30 years.  Some of these were conventional (higher energy costs) and some were unconventional/politically unacceptable (financialization; neofeudalism).

Regardless of what you identify as the primary cause, that the middle class (and labor in general) has lost ground since the early 1980s is undeniable, as is the ultimate failure of debt-dependent “growth.”

What can we do about it? It seems to me there are two responses:

  1. Avoid becoming a serf in the new financialized feudalism
  2. Avoid becoming dependent on the Status Quo and avoid collaborating/supporting those elements of the Status Quo that subsidize and protect the parasitic, inefficient, and unproductive sectors of the economy.

Getting Real About Serfdom

I am going to cut to the chase here, and I expect many of you to disagree. Debt is serfdom, period.

I often illustrate this point by asking two simple questions:

  1. What percentage of your net income (after tax income) goes to debt service?
  2. What percentage of your income goes to cartels, monopolies, or the government (taxes)?

Most households that “bought into” student loans, the housing bubble, HELOCs (home equity lines of credit), financing vehicle purchases with loans, etc., spend the majority of their after-tax income on debt service. There are many variations of this, including owning more house than you can afford.

In the good old days, mortgage debt service was seen as a form of “forced savings” as the modest repayment of principal slowly built equity. That accumulation of equity is no longer guaranteed.

If most of our working life is devoted to servicing debt and paying taxes, we have to question the trade-offs we’re making.  Is the commitment to paying debt and taxes worth the payoff/yield?

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Top Comment

Charles, it's always a pleasure to read your original thoughts.  So good to have you contributing here; thank-you!
Anonymous Author by pinecarr
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