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Middle class: squeezed or spoilt?

farnaby

Well-known member
Joined
May 15, 2006
Messages
1,967
Quite a number of our discussions here have us split between bemoaning the cost of living and its impact on the “squeezed middle”, versus challenging the “sob stories” of “people who can’t budget”. But I don’t think we’ve addressed the debate head-on.

So I ask the question – are the Irish middle class squeezed or spoilt?

Here’s some reasoning for the “squeezed” side:
· Huge Celtic tiger mortgage costs especially for those on variable rates
· Stagnant incomes since the crash
· High cost of living (within top 5 in Europe depending where you look)
· Higher retail prices vs e.g. UK
· Need for two incomes in the family to get by vs one in generations gone by
· High levels of non-mortgage debt…
· Low levels of saving…
· Multiple surveys indicating no disposable income after essentials for a large proportion…
· …indicating that incomes do not adequately fund the cost of living
· Increased finance-related stress, depression & family break-up
· High marginal tax rates at low levels of income
· Reliance on the middle class paying for private health insurance, donating to schools, third level fees etc.
· Stealth taxes & charges


And now the “spoilt” side vs previous generations:
· Real incomes much higher
· Interest rates much lower
· Far more foreign holidays, hotel breaks etc. taken
· Eating out/takeaways far more prevalent
· Technology – flat screen tvs, mobiles, tablets, TV packages
· Increased spend on personal aesthetics – cosmetics, beauty treatments, ever more expensive hair-dos
· Less kids per family…
· …but we’re spoiling them with stuff instead of time, and the kids stuff is more abundant and ruthlessly marketed
· We’re bombarded with more marketing than ever and falling for the “you’re worth it”, “treat yourself” mentality – lack of self-control
· Individualist consumerism vs “right living” philosophy of old
· Food takes up less of personal expenditure than ever before thanks to cut-throat retail competition

So – should we accept that we’ve never had it so good and just need more self-control, realistic expectations and budgeting effort to get by?

Or should we be angry at the system, have the same high expectations as Americans, Germans, French etc. have, and demand political solutions to reduce the cost of living and get a better return on our taxes?
 


farnaby

Well-known member
Joined
May 15, 2006
Messages
1,967
Mods, perhaps a poll? Are the Irish middle class a) squeezed or b) spoilt?
 

hammer

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Joined
Jul 6, 2009
Messages
58,513
Everyones situation is different.`

Middle classes that bought in the 90s
Middle classes on trackers
Midlde classes with pensions
Middle classes relying on childcare
Middle classes with private school fees / private healthcare
Middle class self employed
Middle class PAYE Workers
Middle class PS Workers

You get the drift :)
 

realistic1

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 27, 2008
Messages
11,503
In my experience there is a lot of spoilt people. I currently have a salary of approx 40k. My wife is not working and I have three kids. My wife does not work because we worked out that she would have approx 80 euro left after childcare costs, so life is a lot easier without all the hassel that comes with Creches etc. My mortgage is approx 700 euro and I have a 15 year old Opel Astra, we just about survive.

I see people in my workplace earning 50k+ and so is their partner, and they are always complaining. These people have the two new cars, foreign holidays etc. etc. There is an element of not budgeting in this example.
 

Gin Soaked

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 25, 2016
Messages
4,310
There is a bigger span in the middle classes than there is from basic dole dependency to "not quite middle class".

Plus good luck defining middle class. The old marxist definition is dead in any case.
 

sadmal

Well-known member
Joined
May 2, 2007
Messages
12,394
In my experience there is a lot of spoilt people. I currently have a salary of approx 40k. My wife is not working and I have three kids. My wife does not work because we worked out that she would have approx 80 euro left after childcare costs, so life is a lot easier without all the hassel that comes with Creches etc. My mortgage is approx 700 euro and I have a 15 year old Opel Astra, we just about survive.

I see people in my workplace earning 50k+ and so is their partner, and they are always complaining. These people have the two new cars, foreign holidays etc. etc. There is an element of not budgeting in this example.
The more people have the more they convince themselves they need - also a lot of competition from others in the workplace means some feel they have to keep up with the Jones.
 

Prester Jim

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 3, 2009
Messages
10,073
The more people have the more they convince themselves they need - also a lot of competition from others in the workplace means some feel they have to keep up with the Jones.
Very true, how many people who feel that they are in the squeezed middle are only squeezed because they have massive personal debt on completely unnecessary luxury and status goods like BMW Suvs etc?
 

sadmal

Well-known member
Joined
May 2, 2007
Messages
12,394
Never ever try and keep up with anyone.

Do your own thing.

Fu** your neighbours :)
My mother used to say - 'Never try to keep up with the Joneses, drag them down to your level instead' :)
 

Watcher2

Well-known member
Joined
May 2, 2010
Messages
34,428
Quite a number of our discussions here have us split between bemoaning the cost of living and its impact on the “squeezed middle”, versus challenging the “sob stories” of “people who can’t budget”. But I don’t think we’ve addressed the debate head-on.

So I ask the question – are the Irish middle class squeezed or spoilt?

Here’s some reasoning for the “squeezed” side:
· Huge Celtic tiger mortgage costs especially for those on variable rates
· Stagnant incomes since the crash
· High cost of living (within top 5 in Europe depending where you look)
· Higher retail prices vs e.g. UK
· Need for two incomes in the family to get by vs one in generations gone by
· High levels of non-mortgage debt…
· Low levels of saving…
· Multiple surveys indicating no disposable income after essentials for a large proportion…
· …indicating that incomes do not adequately fund the cost of living
· Increased finance-related stress, depression & family break-up
· High marginal tax rates at low levels of income
· Reliance on the middle class paying for private health insurance, donating to schools, third level fees etc.
· Stealth taxes & charges


And now the “spoilt” side vs previous generations:
· Real incomes much higher
· Interest rates much lower
· Far more foreign holidays, hotel breaks etc. taken
· Eating out/takeaways far more prevalent
· Technology – flat screen tvs, mobiles, tablets, TV packages
· Increased spend on personal aesthetics – cosmetics, beauty treatments, ever more expensive hair-dos
· Less kids per family…
· …but we’re spoiling them with stuff instead of time, and the kids stuff is more abundant and ruthlessly marketed
· We’re bombarded with more marketing than ever and falling for the “you’re worth it”, “treat yourself” mentality – lack of self-control
· Individualist consumerism vs “right living” philosophy of old
· Food takes up less of personal expenditure than ever before thanks to cut-throat retail competition

So – should we accept that we’ve never had it so good and just need more self-control, realistic expectations and budgeting effort to get by?

Or should we be angry at the system, have the same high expectations as Americans, Germans, French etc. have, and demand political solutions to reduce the cost of living and get a better return on our taxes?
I would think that the first thing you should have done is define Middle Class.

Everything else is irrelevant in your OP without such a definition.

You also forgot to include the much higher levels of income tax in the 80's and earlier. I know people who paid 60%+ in the 80's. Interest rates were also much higher but I suppose with then price of houses having risen, the lower rates are cancelled out now....pity.
 

blinding

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 1, 2008
Messages
17,846
The Irish middle class really miss not having enough Upper Class to feel inferior to.

It kind of confuses them and allows successive politicians to take the Pee out of them.
 

Polly Ticks

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 6, 2016
Messages
3,349
"Middle class" is one of those nebulous concepts... apparently we're all supposed to aspire to it.. to me it just conjours images of self-declared "young professionals" and other deviants :D

That aside, if you look at it globally, those considered poor in Ireland are among the richest people in the world... viewed in that context, any complaints about being "squeezed" can be seen as privileged whining.

"But, but, but," comes the retort. "Poverty is all relative."

To which I say: "Exactly."
 

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