The upper middle class is growing and thriving, and then 'pulling up the ladder behind them'
"Now about that upper middle class. Zumbrun mentions Brookings scholar Richard Reeves is writing a book that "looks at the way upper middle-class families perpetuate their status across generations, in ways that can sometimes be harmful to middle- or lower middle-class families."
There's a there there. In some ways, the upper-middle is pulling up the ladder behind them. As Reihan Salam noted in Slate last year, dentists use occupational licensing rules to block cheaper teeth-whiteners without expensive degrees. Then, Salam explains, there's how "upper-middle-class NIMBY-ism pushes for strict land-use restrictions that drive working- and lower-middle-class people out of the country's most desirable and productive cities." And don't forget, nearly 40% of home mortgage interest deductions are claimed by taxpayers with AGIs over $100,000. Likewise, Salam adds, "70% of the tax benefits of 529 savings plans go to households earning more than $200,000.'"
You can add to that list, the minimum wage increase which cuts poorer people out of the jobs market but maintains a link for the children of the upper middle class. The upper middle class parents teach their children the essential skills necessary to succeed in the job market, and it does not take employers long to figure this out. They get a leg up when the minimum wage is high, while the poor who do not have this benefit are blocked out.
If the minimum wage were $0, these poorer kids could undercut the wealthier kids in wage until they had the requisite skills, and then compete evenly in the market. But since they find it nigh on impossible to get the skills, they simply are blocked out of the jobs market.
This problem is not limited to these examples, it follows nearly any complicated aspect of the employment relationship. The wealthier kids are taught to drop money into an IRA, or a 401(k), especially if it has a match. They can ask parents for help in determining the best health care options, whether an HSA makes sense (it always makes sense, and should be fully funded), appropriate dress, social interaction, the list is endless.
The new class warfare, the new gated city, the new privileged class . . .