Today we learned that Mitt Romney's definition of middle class is an income below $250,000. And we collectively shake our heads at his tenuous grip on reality.
It reminds me of the undiplomatic arguments my daughter has with classmates when they declare that they are middle class when they are clearly not (unless you subscribe to Romney logic).
I don't need to see anybody's tax returns. Observing the cars lined up at kiss n drop is information enough. And then there are stories, like the family who buys a new home every time they go on vacation in the same way others pick up a small souvenir, perhaps a tea towel, to mark their adventure.
My daughter tells me that her classmates often make jokes about "hobos", the common term for the homeless here. I am more shocked by this than anything else, knowing how the people in this solidly liberal town take such pride in being good. I despair at the notion that mocking a person for their poverty is somehow acceptable; that seeing a person in such circumstances would provoke anything other than a feeling of compassion.
At dinner, my 8th grader renews his campaign to get his own laptop. He reminds us that everybody else in his grade has one and no doubt they do. I watch the food server clearing tables and tell my son to cut it out, appalled at his sense of entitlement.
I think that rather than encouraging my kids to sign up to work for a charity or overseas aid organisation in their summer breaks - a common activity for teens around here who are shaping their Ivy League applications - they should instead work in minimum wage service industry jobs. This might not look as impressive to college recruiters but will give them far more understanding of how the world looks from the other side of the counter, the side where an income of $250,000 is more impossible dream than middle class.
My son rolls his eyes. He knows that another lecture is headed his way. I won't stop because I never want to hear a child of mine look down on a person for having less, let alone make a homeless person their punch line.