Middle Class Photo Project - Most Commented

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Middle class at a crossroads, not for the first time

Sep 21, 2012
What we can learn from American history about the presidential candidates' plans for the middle class.
Posted In: middle class, Election 2012, Obama, romney

Jason Sutton, Oklahoma City, Okla.

We are comfortable. My wife has a master's degree but stays at home with our four children. I am an attorney and work in politics in Oklahoma City. We have a used Honda Odyssey and a used Honda Accord, a 1,200 sq ft home, some savings and a 401(k). We eat dinner together every evening, go to church on Sunday, dine out on weekends and take a summer vacation. We could do better, but we could do a lot worse. 


Mai Thanh Vũ, Hanoi, Vietnam

As a Vietnamese student, I feel comfortable with my life. I get just what i need, if not everything I want. This photo shows me enjoying my weekend with friends at a coffee bar. 


John Kayrouz, Salem, Virg.

I do not consider myself middle class at the moment. I moved in with my parents three months ago, so I can't put myself in the middle class yet. I look forward to gaining my independence, leaving my parents house and joining the real world as an artist as soon as possible. 

This is a watercolor painting I recently finished. The piece represents the mental state of many graduates - high school and college - for the past three years. Many young people either find jobs they are overqualified for or struggle to find work. Whatever the scenario, this age group is weary and losing the confidence it once had in school. 


Val Vanorden, Portage, Mich.

Middle class to me means having choices. You have options. Yes you work for it, and yes, sometimes you're threadbare in areas of your life, but you choose where and when to have luxuries that are not even thought of in other countries on this planet. I worked a year in Haiti, and that was a choice. I choose now to work in flea markets and I enjoy it, though it is eminently slower paced than the medical field I used to be in. I choose when and where to shop. I have a car, that is middle class. I can take public transportation if I want to. I choose to be married. I choose a tree-lined neighborhood. I do not quite have a degree, but I am educated, and I represent those who have paid into the system all their lives since age 16 until age 53, and are now reaping the rewards. 


Liz Clark, Pacific Grove, Calif.

The photo is of my mom's 80th birthday party last year, with all of her immediate family gathered to celebrate her at her home; 3 generations. Middle class means her generation and her children were able to get good educations and good jobs. We were all very lucky!


Neelima June, Spokane, Wash.

This photo is taken in the living room of a 1200 sq.ft. duplex in a middle income retirement community. My husband (he took the photo) and I are happy we have chosen this home. It is the culmination of a lifetime of plans and savings. We are able to enjoy a peaceful wooded backyard, an affable community and convenient access to healthcare.


Josh Barnes, Frederickburg,Va.

I took two days off of work to have a long weekend trip with my family to Lancaster, PA. We visited Dutchwonderland Amusement Park; It's becoming an annual event for us. This was my daughter's first roller coaster ride. This picture captured for me life in the middle class. We didn't go anywhere extravagant but we are comfortable enough to do something like this and we had a phenomenal time.


Rodney Evans, Winchester, Va.

This family photo was chosen because it represents a harmonious departure from each member's daily, weekly and weekend routine. With busy schedules consisting of work, commuting, school, extra-curricular activities and so forth, middle class families must work extremely hard to be together. The photo was taken at the municipal park in Winchester, VA. It had been many years since we've taken a family photo and we started talking about getting it done during the Christmas holidays. My wife "made it happen" on a fall Saturday afternoon, eleven months later.


Naphtali Maynard, Scarborough, Maine.

This photo was taken on the one-year anniversary of our business. My husband and I opened a sandwich shop on the Southern Coast of Maine using nothing more than the tax credit we received from buying a home in 2010. One year later, we've established a second year-round shop- all without taking out a single loan. The photo is of our celebration- a $7 bottle of sparking wine out on our deck, during one day off a week. To be middle class means to follow your dreams, to work harder than you ever imagined and to sacrifice much. Because despite the state of the economy, we can still find success.


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