Picture This: The Middle Class
We spend a lot of time talking about the middle class. What it is, who’s part of it, why it matters. Now it’s time for you to tell us – and show us too! Marketplace’s Wealth and Poverty Desk wants you to use a photo to show us what the middle class means to you. Anything goes.
After you upload your photo, take a moment to see what the middle class means to others.
During the May Day Occupy San Francisco rally, everyday folks were able to add their concerns and demands for our country. Things like housing for all, down with debt, compassion and equality were painted around the sun, all middle class values and concerns. While I am comfortable enough in my life, I believe that part of being middle class is representing and protecting those less fortunate than you from those who would like to take more than their fair share.
My wife and I have worked hard and sacrificed short-term gratification to ensure that we are able to live within reasonable comfort. Middle class means being able to participate in activities that you enjoy like family vacations.
This is a picture of my back patio, with a family of stray cats I care for. The cats get fed daily, because I have enough money and time to buy them cat food. For me, middle class means having not only enough money to pay the bills, but also enough to save and even indulge a little.
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 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
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.
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.
Middle class to me means having choices. You have options. I worked a year in Haiti, and that was a choice. I choose now to work in flea markets. I choose to be married. I choose a tree-lined neighborhood.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
North Las Vegas, Nev.
This is a picture of my son asleep in the back of the car on a family road trip to California. The car is second hand, his shirt was a gift and we are on our way to stay at Grandma's House. To me if represents middle class because thats what we are and that what we do. We more often drive then fly for vacations. We live on a budget and sometimes things are tight. But we always make it.
This photo was taken the day I graduated with my masters in college counseling from Western Michigan University in 2010. I am the first in my family to receive a graduate degree. This to me epitomizes the stratification of the middle class.
Hobe Sound, Fla.
I chose this photo of my mother and I, taken by my father in our yard in Stuart, Florida shortly before she died in 1996.My mother was a nurse who worked in her father's doctor's office before she met my father. My father was in the Korean War then came home and went to college.
I was listening to this story on my drive home from my monthly grocery shopping trip. I was feeling very lucky that I have found a way to make our food budget work. Being middle class means we can take advantage of economies of scale.
This is a picture of my daughters' school backpacks. It was taken on the front step of our house. It represents both the comfort and the underlying insecurity of growing up middle class.
This is the view from the front porch of my modest home in beautiful North Torrance, California. It is of the American flag I fly proudly every day since I have owned the home. I chose it because there is nothing more American than being part of the middle class...
It is a scene you would see driving around any middle class neighborhood in America. It speaks of creativity, initiative, resourcefulness, determination and an appreciation for what it means to earn your way, sentiments that I believe are integral to the middle class.
When I purchased this classic 1963 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III, I was doing very well as a computer software developer with over 20 years experience.NOW, I have been a school janitor for over 8 years because I can not find a job in the computer industry...
My husband and I are both constitutionally and financially incapable of paying anyone to fix or build what we need fixed or built. Even after being half emptied prior to an impending move for job reasons, this garage represents the middle class and those of us who have to work for and on everything we own.
The middle class proportionally pays the most tax and reaps the least reward. We have become prisoners to our careers and lifestyles. We often think we are accomplishing something until we wake up one day and realize the delusion that the treadmill of middle class America has painted on our psyche.
Orchard Park, N.Y
I believe being middle class means having a garage sale and being excited about making $40. This is my friend Becky and me, showing off our "big earnings" after a sale we had at her place in Buffalo, NY. I believe being middle class means you don't ever have a brand new car. In fact for us, it usually means never having owned a car in the same decade that we're living in. Being middle class means only have one bathroom in our house. Being middle class means sharing a bedroom with at least one sibling. Being middle class means spending two full summers painting your own house. These are just a few of the things that I believe represent our financial "place" in society. .
This is a photo of my house, which is assessed for tax purposes at $267,000. It is an old house built in the 1920s..
Los Angeles, Calif.
love to take pictures. this is 3 generations of our family in the front of our house on a very typical get-together. it says a little & a lot about our life & times. We are happy, content & dealing w/ everything other families, black, white, latino, asian & others are dealing with. Middle class is good (& a challenge) all at the same time. ..
Los Angeles, Ca.
I chose this photo because it represents what being a middle class person is to me. It represents middle class because being able to travel several times a year on paid vacation is a great benefit of my job. I don't have a husband or kids, and though young professionals are not often thought about as part of the "middle class", we really are. This picture is of myself in Miami relaxing on vacation....
This boy and his family, running a stall at the farmer's market, represent entrepreneurship and middle class aspirations to me. I didn't ask the boy his name, but I asked where he went to school, and he named a local private school. I took the photo in Pukalani, Upcountry Maui, in November 2011. ....
This is brunch at Bob's Red Mill in Milwaukee, OR. It is about as middle class as you can get. Our son took us here, or we wouldn't have been able to go. ....
This is a picture of a mother-daughter pedicure. (I'm the mom.) I chose it because it represents small splurges the middle class can afford. ....
Chapel Hill, NC.
These are the fifteen customer rewards cards I carry. Being middle class means having to provide information about your shopping habits in exchange for small discounts. The wealthy can afford privacy...
I make art and this piece is about the banking industry and corperations who are destroying us...
The house is what my wife and I built. After 16 months the house was done and we knew someone else had to build the barns.It shows about the extent of our small farm of 63 acres. Now our horse training business is down 85%. Our organic hay crop has come in down 30-40% due to lack of early rains in the fall but saved at a cost of having to irrigate through the winter...
During a typical afternoon rush hour traffic from San Francisco into Marin I was listening to Marketplace's segment on what it means to be middle class at the time this picture was taken. How perfectly middle class to work all day and commute home in traffic...
Middle class for me means having the money to travel back to Maine from Wisconsin, where my wife and I go to grad school, to visit our families and do a little fishing...
This photo reminds me of growing up in Levittown, Long Island in the 60's. ha ha...
This photo was taken in January 2011 during the "Recall Scott Walker" protests in Madison, WI. I chose this photo because many people in Wisconsin view Scot Walker as the one who has "waged war on the middle class." This picture shows a bunch of middle class union folks fighting to keep the rights and resources they have...
We spend a lot of time talking about the middle class. What it is, who’s part of it, why it matters. Now it’s time for you to tell us – and show us too! Marketplace’s Wealth and Poverty Desk wants you to use a photo to show us what the middle class means to you.
Is it the first house you lived in after you graduated college? Is it a pair of designer shoes you hope to own one day? Is it a moment from the last vacation you took with your family? Anything goes.
After you upload your photo, take a moment to see what the middle class means to others.