To have a strong, vibrant democracy... a country must have a strong, secure middle class.
But the middle class is dying before our eyes. They are being crushed between the millstones of rising prices, rising taxes, and job loss. Pensions and 401k retirements have lost much of their value. Home values are dropping and it is estimated that half of all homes with mortgages will, at some point, be underwater. There are record numbers of foreclosures and short sales.
Losing a home is putting tremendous stress on families. The children have to leave their friends, neighbors and schools, many of their toys and usually their pets. Besides the sadness and stress and humiliation, many of the marriages break up. Three of my closest friends in Brookfield are losing their homes. These are good, honest people who worked hard and played by the rules. They sacrificed all their lives to be able to live in Brookfield, often close to their kids and grandkids. They were excellent parents, involved citizens and real assets to our town. The problem is their jobs were sent away.
Over 8 million 'good paying jobs' have been closed down and/or sent abroad. Over 42,000 factories have been closed. The good jobs with benefits are being replaced with the $8-11 jobs with little or no benefits. The average job pays $505 a week, about $25,000 a year. The average American family is trying to survive on $50,000 a year, before taxes. If men and women in their 50s and older lose their job, most will never get another paying job. Almost 85 percent of recent college grads, many loaded down with student debt, had to come home and live with their parents, as most couldn't get jobs that pay enough to be on their own.
The middle class is being hurt every time they buy: gas, heating oil, food, car and home repairs, dental and medical care, health insurance, college tuition, etc. There is now almost $1 trillion of student debt, more than all the credit card debt, that is weighing people down, on top of personal loans, auto loans and mortgage debt.
The middle class is being crushed by rising taxes. Pres. Obama just proposed raising taxes another $1.5 trillion. Gov. Malloy just raised 50 different taxes another $ 1.5 billion. What happens in Brookfield every year? The politicians want to raise taxes... on people who are barely hanging on by their fingertips. Dozens of Brookfield people have told me that the taxes are driving them out of their homes, away from their families.
That is why I got involved in politics. Sure, after 26 exhausting, yet very fulfilling, years of delivering babies, I could to do what I have always wanted, spend time in my gardens. But I believe that someone needs to stand up and defend the middle class. I think of myself as an activist and advocate for the average, struggling American. I can't lower the price of gas or food, but I can try to slow the year after year tax increases that are hurting families.
I am sure that I will make beginners' mistakes. I also realize that I will get a lot of personal attacks, character assassination, and abuse but someone needs to listen to and defend the families that are suffering and say, "We are not going down without a fight!"
Robin Appleby M.D.