Debt – the frozen form of stored-up hierarchy. –Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Take Back Your Time

3Debt and the Functionally Poor Middle Class

Although the concept of “the middle class” is central to American life, there’s no agreed-upon definition of the term. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau has no official income classification for the middle class.1 Consequently, the middle class has come to represent a large portion of the population ranging from those with incomes at 200% of the federal poverty level to those in the nation’s top 5% of income earners.30

Some policy analysts classify households with a total annual income between $40,000 and $140,000 as middle class, while others categorize the middle class as having an annual income between ...

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