Death of the middle class: the sequel

Well I got a load off my chest with yesterday’s anti-corporate tirade! Look, I’m not some Pollyanna pie-in-the-sky dreamer who believes the “mom and pop” ideal is absolutely GOOD and the corporate mentality is simply BAD. I realize there are an infinite range of gradations and that there is no single situation so easily explained in such clearcut black and white tones. I’ve worked in both work environments; they both offer advantages, but I happen to believe the mom and pop’s strengths are far superior for the mental and spiritual well-being of employees. I believe the corporate mentality damages the human psyche. It is dehumanizing and prioritizes the health of the organization above that of its individual members. The corporate mentality is enhanced by the progression of technology. Technology’s ability to shrink the planet and its communities rewards the ostensible corporate aims of subverting the human element to the cold and calculated needs of the organization. The corporate demands reign supreme. The corporation is an honorary human in our legal parlance.

Still, despite their size and global reach, corporations are small enough “communities” in that they are stained and shaped by the overall national and global economies which the corporations call home(s). Corporations are ultimately shaped by the social climate of the global economic paradigm. Corporations, in spite of their massive reach and influence, are still at the mercy of the greater cultural influences of the time. They still obey the greater pull of the global and national economies. Having worked in the private sector for over 28 years, I can safely assert that our workplaces are emblematic of the underlying state of societal existence.

Going back (circling back) to yesterday’s post, I’ve worked in my corporate environment long enough to witness gradual changes sweep over the organizational mentality and structure. The standard modern corporation mimics many of society’s shortcomings as well.

The middle class has come to signify more to me.

Economically, the middle class is unquestionably important to the well-being of an economy. If not merely by virtue of its direct presence, also by the indirect traits it indicates in the society as well. This is a non-economic and non-scientific approach to justify and glorify the presence of a middle class. The middle class is an outgrowth and reflection of a culture’s humility and pragmatism. A healthy middle class demonstrates that the socio-economic infrastructure of a country is emotionally healthy and considerate of its inhabitants in a humane and non-opportunistic manner. A powerful and involved middle class announces that a nation is running on all cylinders and the engine is purring smoothly. A vibrant middle class tells us that the complementary elements of wealth and poverty are working in unison and that the interrelated humanities are enmeshed smoothly and enjoying an existence immune to the fragmented pulls and destructive mechanisms of income and value differentials. The middle class, its presence and cultural role, is bolstered by the healthy tension of a society composed of many different and contrasting elements condensing together in a cohesive puzzle of jumbled pieces which form one healthy unit. A healthy middle class demonstrates a lush cultural mindset. This filters into the work place and the structural unity of corporations will reflect a healthy distribution of wealth and goods.

As the middle class retracts, the schisms of a society will multiply and its socio-economic health will falter and become disjointed. Aims and goals clash. Motives collide and soon the playing field is too small to contain everyone’s interests. The middle class continues to shrink and is forced from the playing field. Self-interest looms and economic might and power becomes unrealistically influential and barbarous. Agendas clash and the lower class, never strong to begin with, wilts easily under the onslaught of a middle class pushed out of its home by the insanely empowered upper classes. A strange sort of economic entropy flares to life and economic disorder vaporizes the formerly vibrant middle class. This filters into the corporate sector. It manifests itself as a smaller scale phenomena that pervades the strictly utilitarian corporate environment. I see this happening now. In the past 3 years or so, I’ve watched as upper level decision-makers raze the previously comfortable sedation of the middle class; the organization demands more while whittling away every desperate last-ditch cost. A frenzy ensues and workers are asked to do the same as before, and more, for less and with fewer resources. Because earnings must continue to be maximized even in rough times. It’s only the upper echelons of society who can’t do without sacrifice. Sacrifice is just one of several pillars the middle class is built on, but in a society where sacrifice is in short demand, the middle class withers.