- "There is nothing "normal" about a nation having a middle class, even though it is vital to the survival of democracy.
As twenty-three years of conservative economic policies have now shown millions of un- and underemployed Americans, what's "normal" in a "free and unfettered" economy is the rapid evolution of a small but fabulously wealthy ownership class, and a large but poor working class. In the entire history of civilization, outside of a small mercantilist class and the very few skilled tradesmen who'd managed to organize in guilds (the earliest unions) like the ancient Masons, the middle class was an aberration.
If a nation wants a middle class, it must define it, desire it, and work to both create and keep it.
This is because a middle class is the creation of government participation (conservatives call it "interference") in the marketplace, by determining the rules of the game of business and of taxation, and by providing free public education to all. And it wasn't until 1776, when Thomas Jefferson replaced John Locke's right to "life, liberty and property" with "life liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" that the idea of a large class of working people having the ability to "pursue happiness" - the middle class - was even seriously considered as a cornerstone obligation of government."