In the current era, the middle class stands at the crossroads of an economic divide, shouldering the weight of societal expectations while watching the scales of justice tip in favor of the wealthy and the pleas of the poor. It is a time of great paradox, where the rich grow richer, often seemingly untouchable by the rules that govern the rest, and the poor justify their means for survival in a system that leaves them behind. Amid this, the middle class is caught in a vice of responsibility and obligation, with little time to spare and a diminishing sense of reward for their efforts.
The middle class, traditionally seen as the backbone of the economy, is increasingly finding themselves in a precarious position. They are expected to uphold the standards of society: to play by the book, follow the rules, pay proper taxes, and, if at fault, accept the full force of the law. This expectation comes with the understanding that compliance equals stability and progress. However, the reality reveals a different narrative.
With the cost of living on the rise and wages struggling to keep pace, the middle-class citizen finds that their hard work barely keeps them afloat. They juggle multiple roles – as employees or proprietors, parents, caretakers for aging relatives, and engaged citizens. Yet, despite their best efforts, the dream of social mobility seems ever more elusive, and the fear of slipping into poverty ever more palpable.
At the upper echelons, the wealthy and powerful enjoy a different set of rules. Their influence and capital often shield them from the consequences of their actions, a stark contrast to the middle-class individual who would face immediate repercussions for the same offenses. The perception that money can buy leniency, if not outright immunity, from the law erodes the middle class's trust in the fairness of the system.
The plight of the poor, while distinct, intersects with the middle-class struggle. Poverty drives some to desperation, and desperate actions are sometimes met with understanding or justification by society, which recognizes the systemic failures at play. However, this leniency is not extended to the middle class, who, despite facing their own version of economic hardship, are denied the same empathy when they falter under the pressures they face.
Furthermore, the political landscape often sees the poor courted by those in power during election cycles, with promises of change and betterment. These promises are typically short-lived, resulting in temporary fixes rather than systemic change. The middle class, savvy yet cynical, watches as these band-aid solutions fail to address the underlying issues, leaving them to pick up the pieces when the initial fanfare fades.
Sometimes, the middle class demands more from the government in terms of protection and support. While they recognize the importance of social services for the underprivileged, they also feel that the government should prioritize strengthening policies related to peace and order to safeguard their well-being. The sentiment popularized by the late President Ramon Magsaysay who said that "those who have less in life must have more in law" should now extend to the middle class as well.
Middle-class, including the working class citizens, often find themselves in neighborhoods where crime rates are not negligible, and they bear the brunt of property crimes, theft, and other law enforcement issues. They believe that the government should allocate more resources to law enforcement, crime prevention, and ensuring a safe environment for their families and communities.
Moreover, the middle class feels the weight of taxes and expects that the government should provide effective and efficient public services in return. They seek investments in infrastructure, healthcare, education, and other essential public services that directly benefit their lives and contribute to their well-being and future prospects.
By emphasizing the need for a fair and robust legal system, the middle class strives to ensure that they are not left vulnerable to exploitation, fraud, or other injustices. They seek reassurance that the law will protect their rights and hold wrongdoers accountable, regardless of their social or economic standing.
In this light, the government's policies and initiatives should be geared towards addressing the concerns of the middle class, including ensuring a safe and secure environment, providing quality public services, and upholding the principles of justice and fairness for all. It is essential for policymakers to listen to the voices of the middle class and work towards creating a society where their contributions are acknowledged and their well-being is safeguarded.
The middle-class citizen is thus trapped in an unwinnable game, striving to uphold the ideals of a just and equitable society while navigating a reality that rewards the extremes of the economic spectrum. They are the ones who fund the public coffers, yet often see the least return on their investment in terms of social services, support, and recognition.
This era demands a reckoning with the truth of the middle-class experience. It calls for policies that genuinely address the needs of the working families, tax structures that ensure the wealthy pay their fair share, and a legal system that dispenses justice evenly, regardless of social standing. It is time to recognize the middle class not just as the guardians of societal norms, but as active participants in shaping a system that is truly reflective of the principles of fairness and equity they uphold.
The bourgeoisie must also recognize its collective power and demand accountability from those in positions of authority. By uniting to advocate for fair treatment, economic opportunity, and a level playing field, the middle class can reshape the narrative and push for meaningful change. This includes holding elected officials accountable for their promises and ensuring that policies are enacted to support the economic stability and advancement of the middle class.
In addition, there is a need for a cultural shift in how society perceives and supports the middle class. The contributions of middle-class individuals to the economy, community, and the fabric of society at large are often overlooked or taken for granted. Recognizing and valuing the efforts of this segment of society is crucial to fostering a more equitable and inclusive environment for all.
Moreover, it is essential to address the root causes of the economic pressures facing the middle class, such as rising costs of healthcare, education, housing, and stagnant wages. Policies aimed at alleviating these burdens, such as affordable healthcare options, accessible education, and housing assistance, can significantly ease the strain on middle-class families.
The “citizens of the city” has long been the engine that drives economies and the heart of communities. It is time for society to recognize and address the struggles faced by this vital segment of the population. By advocating for meaningful change, demanding accountability, and strengthening a culture of support and understanding, we can create a world where the middle class is not just surviving, but thriving, and where the principles of justice and equity extend to all.
Kuya J Pelayo IV is a Kapampangan broadcast journalist. For comments and suggestions, e-mail at email@example.com