Middlin’ Class

Apparently newly-elected MA senator Elizabeth Warren has been having trouble defining her policy guidelines to the media. This excerpted from a recent interview:

Reporter: When you mention “middle class,” what numbers are we talking about, in terms of income level?

Warren: It’s not a numbers issue. I know you would expect a very wonky answer for me, you know, about the percentiles. But it’s not.

Reporter: Well, I would, just because that would be how you would expect that something would be written in a bill form. It would be people with income levels here to here–

Warren: When we strengthen education, when we make it possible for kids to go to college, then we strengthen America’s middle class, and that doesn’t need a dollar figure. . . . How about somebody who’s taught school for ten years, and takes off a year to go to graduate school, and has an income of only $4,000 in the year that she’s not teaching? Would you say that she’s fallen out of the middle class? I wouldn’t. It’s a whole lot of characteristics that define the middle class.

In her example, the wonky Ms. Warren unwittingly provides the answer which she seems oblivious to. Politics and policy should not be characterized by WHO we are, whether defined by income or any other identity basis, but by what we DO. The teacher making an investment in higher education is DOING something productive. That’s what policy should be encouraging and rewarding. We can all DO something different under the right incentive structure, but we can’t change WHO we are. The beauty of the American experiment is that it should not matter WHO you are, only what you DO. Makes sense, right, Ms. Warren? Enough of the class warfare.

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