Archived Story

What’s in the middle of the road?

Published 10:40am Thursday, June 28, 2012

Column: Thanks for Listening

I am a bit worried that the middle is going away. What do I mean the middle?

Do I mean middle age? Middle management? Middle names? Middle child? Middle school?


I mean the following: middle class and middle ground.

The word middle has the following definition:

1. Equally distant from the extremes or outer limits; central: the middle point of a line; the middle singer in a trio.

2. Intermediate or intervening: the middle distance.

3. Medium or average: a man of middle size.

Hold on just a second as I set up my soapbox. OK, I am ready.

The Federal Reserve’s newly released Survey of Consumer Finances confirmed what most of us already knew: The middle class has taken a really big hit.

From 2007 to 2010, the typical middle class family had lost nearly 40 percent of its wealth.

The Federal Reserve found that middle-class folks had shouldered the largest percentage losses in both wealth and income during the crisis, limiting their ability and willingness to spend.


No? Why not?

While neither political group can seem to even find the middle these days, we are left with a political process that has never in the history of our country been further apart. We have the rich and the poor.

Our elected officials are in Washington every day with only one agenda — to get re-elected.

We lack leadership. We have no leaders.

How nice would it be to find a few folks who combine passion, confidence and clarity during a time when our country needs these traits the most?

Before you get your Republican and Democrat undies in a bunch and start pointing fingers, this column does not slant right or left. Both parties are failing us miserably. This column is all about responsibility and direction. This column is about hope.

This is why we are suffering as a country. Imagine if they all were really doing what they promised to do? I know that working for the common good of the country seems far-fetched, but, hey, we can dream, can’t we?

Maybe we cannot find the middle anymore because of how we find leaders?

We find the wealthy corporations, unions and people who anonymously can spend as much as they want in favor of a candidate. Then each of us are fooled into believing that our side is better and so we spend millions of dollars fueling a bloodbath of attack ads versus the other party’s candidate. Whoever comes out unscathed and still breathing is your leader.

So as we keep fighting with each other over who is the better party and who is right, we slip behind the people and businesses we should be competing with and that is the rest of the world.

Let’s wake up America!

Did you know that The World Economic Forum’s Global Competiveness Report for 2011-2012, which is based upon 12 “pillars of competitiveness” that includes infrastructure, ranked the U.S. 24th for quality of overall infrastructure.  I’m not that bright, but I am pretty sure a country’s infrastructure leads to a better and stronger economy.

Twenty-fourth in the world.

I guess I was wrong.

All this fighting and finger pointing did lead us to be in the middle. Happy?


Tribune Publisher Scott Schmeltzer’s column appears every Thursday.