Looking at empirical studies that others have compiled, I have written on numerous occasions that the American middle class has been shrinking for the last 30 years and that the 2008-2011 recession has worsened the trend toward downward mobility. The exact opposite is true for millionaires who are experiencing significant income rise amid a recessionary economy. According to the New York Times, the average CEO received 12% higher pay in 2010 than in the previous year. Meanwhile, official unemployment in 2010 was between 9.4 and 9.7%; the AFL figures have unemployment at 15.7%.
As long as the individual believes that he/she is middle class, does it make any difference that they are enduring the lifestyle of a worker? Oh, the shame of it all! Isn't much better to believe in the middle class illusion than to enjoy the actual middle class living? Actually, for politicians and for those paid to propagate that the middle class dream is still attainable, middle class consciousness is the only thing that is significant because that is what translates into political support for the bourgeois political system and institutions built on the myth of equality. Given that is the goal, why not tell all Americans (or Spaniards, etc.) that they are in the middle class? Now that would be unthinkable for it would imply a classless bourgeois society where those enjoying privileges would be the millionaires. And that takes us back to Old Goriot's early 19th century France when class was more important than money - God forbid!