Middle class means there is enough money to make it until next payday. And if the family isn't too large, there’s enough to eat and shop for new clothes.
Some of the poorest people I know are college graduates. Higher education doesn't guarantee every student a path to middle class income. With a college education, particularly in the arts and humanities, students are called to live by their ideals.
President Obama is a living example of inspiration for many, but even in his ideal world, the student with formed and hardened ideas about a just and righteous society isn't likely to find peace in corporate America. The most radical won’t find permanent absolution in education industries or the ivory tower either.
Many of today’s college students, as Senator Rubio said in the GOP response to the SOTU, aren't bright eyed high school graduates. They are middle aged people and older who lost well paying manufacturing jobs or well paid spouses. They are people who want a second chance and even more of them are well over 28 years-old. Many are setting foot in the college classroom the first time.
The idea that college, for young people, is a guaranteed pass into the middle class is an old one. It’s time the Democrats stop touting the phrase. College creates better, smarter citizens. Better smarter citizens shape and influence cities, towns, counties and states and without question this is why Arkansas needs more college graduates.
The United States is bracing for a boost in the manufacturing economy. In an ideal world, solar and wind powered energy plants will become the nation’s next big employer. But manufacturing’s employees have never needed college degrees. That’s a citizenship problem that won’t go away, particularly in voter states like Ohio and Michigan.
Raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour (President Obama's idea) is, perhaps a solution to ending poverty in this country. But there are major backlashes—for example some businesses won’t be able to afford that, not to mention mandatory health insurance that accompanies full time jobs. More people would lose jobs.
In the end, the race to $9/hour becomes a race where the best and the brightest are playing on the field or competing for jobs.
Time and again, the best and the brightest are college graduates with personal ideals that sometimes aren't aligned with an often cold, mechanical and robotic, American industry.
Money shouldn't be a motivating factor for attending college. The aspiration to become a better person, a better parent, a better friend and better informed to make better decisions should motivate college attendees. From there, everything else, jobs, families,wealth, and good health should fall into place.