CHAPTER 2

Who Is the Working Class?

PRESUMABLY ON THE THEORY that no tree falls if no ear hears it, Americans curry a convenient deafness when it comes to class. A central way we make class disappear is to describe virtually everyone as “middle class.” A recent Bloomberg story quoted an amusement park worker earning $22,000 a year and a lawyer with an annual income of $200,000, both calling themselves middle class.9

I still remember my shock when a close friend, a professor married to a partner in a major D.C. law firm, referred to herself as middle class. At the time, she undoubtedly belonged to the top 1%. And that lawyer who earns $200,000 a year? His income places him in the top 6% of American earners.10 The working class is wise to such ...

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