Image from Kids Pantry
Dear Middle Class America,
Last Friday, as our president prematurely exuberated over his jobs numbers, were you eating a solid breakfast? Did you have a roof over your head? Were your lights on? Was your A/C running? Did you then drive in your reliable car out of your middle class suburb to your middle class job? Did you curse at the traffic? Did you stop for coffee? Did you think about what it was like to work one of those minimum-wage jobs, trying to somehow make ends meet, keep the lights on, and feed your kids?
Did it occur to you that those employment numbers the president tweeted about don’t actually mean that the people working those jobs can afford to pay rent? Or go to the doctor when they’re sick? Or eat?
According to the United Way ALICE project, “Nearly 51 million households [43% of American Households] don’t earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone.” 16.1 million households in our country live in poverty. Another 34.7 million families are ”ALICE”: Asset Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed.” They are gainfully employed, playing by the rules, trying to live the American Dream…and yet they don’t earn enough to support a bare-bones household budget.
The growth of our economy shouldn’t be measured by the rise and fall of the stock market. It should be measured by the ability of working Americans to afford their homes, feed their families, and keep them healthy and safe.
So, Middle Class America: as you eat your dinner tonight, flip on the lights, turn up the A/C, and ask your kids about their day…think about what it means to be hungry—really and truly hungry. Think about what it feels like to not be able to feed your kids. Think about what we need to do, as a country, to take care of our working poor.
Because our economy? It’s not working. And it won’t be working until we, as a nation, can afford to feed our families. All of them.