For Europe’s Middle-Class, Stagnant Wages Stunt Lifestyle

That would make no dent in expenses here in Ireland since most of our spending is on mortage payments and rent. Theres only one way to save significant amounts of money in Ireland and that is to live in a shared house. Either with your parents or friends. And unfortunately that is not possible for most people.

Making your own bread would at best save €3 per week!

But they said capitalism would be different this time :frowning:

It is a common misconception that the French revolution was one of the wretched poor rising up and overthrowing their evil wealthy overlords. It was actually the group that the French label “the Bourgeoisie” ie the middle class, who initiated and led the revolution. It came about as a direct result of severe levels of taxation being imposed on that class of people, causing their standards of living to decline substantially over a period of time leading up to the outbreak of the revolution.

The taxation had been levied in an attempt by the aristocracy to pay off massive levels of debt which they had incurred on France’s behalf. While nobody would suggest that we are anywhere near such an event (yet), it is interesting to note the similarities with the events of today and the erosion of the standing of the middle class across the western world. It is a massive issue in the US where the devaluation of the dollar means that peoples savings are decreasing in real terms while they are loaded up with massive levels of debt owed to a financier class who at the sametime exhibit grotesque displays of wealth.

While the pumping of the lifestyle’s of the rich and famous a la MTV cribs etc may have provided the masses with aspirations during the good times, its quite possible that those who may have previously been role models may become targets in the not too distant future.

As for me, Im coming for the Premiership footballers :smiling_imp:

Good post. I agree with all of it. Anyone following the economic scene in the US is hearing a lot these days, about how the middle class is under severe pressure. I think if anywhere is close to a revolution its the USA.
If there was a sudden collapse in the dollar and petrol prices suddenly tripled, you could actually see for the the middle class rioting in the streets.

I dont think that could happen in europe in the medium term as the currency and society in general is more stable.

Well that primetime episode might have been the start of negative economic stories in Ireland but in the US the story is complete doom and gloom every night. Main news this evening had a special report on the lower middle class really feeling the pinch. Not having enough money for food and bills. Food shelters experiencing record numbers and less food being donated. Every night there’s a reporter hanging around gas stations talking to people about rising fuel prices and plenty of people are airing their grievances. This as usual seems to be the major worry. Rising oil prices are really hitting them where it hurts. 4 litre engines tend to magnify the problem. The energy supply company NSTAR (basically the esb) gave an interview regarding the large number of homes (forget the figures) that are being cut off due to unpaid bills.
Last night they had a story about Brockton (a town of around 90,000 in the Boston commuter belt) foreclosures. 452 properties have been foreclosed in the last few months. Basically trying to give them away rather than let them lie idle and there on the main evening news cause no one is interested. Property in less affluent areas has totally bottomed out. Definitely no denial here. Panic is in full swing and the property bubble is only a fraction of it.
Its getting a little scary.

Middle, or lower-middle, class in Germany are also under pressure. Wages have not risen much there in the last 5 years, but prices certainly have. On top of that is the fear of redundancy. It’s generally accepted that if you are over 35 and get made redundant you are highly unlikely to find a new job with the same level of salary. I.e. a salary drop is the best case, and long term unemployment the worst case. This obviously has an affect on consumer spending.

I think we’ll see something similar in Ireland over the next few years. At the moment, there are still jobs in many sectors of the economy, but there will be a gradual change over the next few years IMHO.

Some of the Economic mess can be put down to one class (small) exploiting the many. But, when are we to cotton-on that our major Economic Problems are caused by a falling a birth rate :question: There were 76% more births per head of population in the EU25 in 1960 than in 2004. What is playing out in the EU was foreseeable way up the track. I penned the following in 2001.

“Europeans often remark on the young people in Dublin and tell of their own anxieties.” The EU leaders have made sure that the above ordinary people will have no say on The Lisbon Treaty.

Yet, The Lisbon Treaty still shows that we are fixated on Economic Growth without taking the above into account:

Some day soon, we Irish will wake up! It’s worse than watching the kettle boil :unamused:

In addition, the German middle grass is strangled by the tax system. Even if gross salary increases were tracking inflation (they did not in the past 10 years or so), the tax rate has the strongest slope for the middle incomes and is NOT adapted to inflation. Therefore the increase in net income is falling behind inflation as any salary increase pushes up the personal tax rate.

But if the population keeps growing the worldwide resource shortages we are seeing will only get worse.

I’ll admit there is a problem with the fact Western Europe is ageing disproportionately compared with elsewhere in the world.