Thoughts on Discretionary Income, American Middle Class, and Why It Matters

If only to be a kid again… Remember that short lived time when all the money you earned from babysitting or from picking berries or selling juice from your hodge-podged lemonade stand was spent on whatever you felt like spending it on, instead of some bill you needed to pay in order to keep a roof over your head? I never realized how spoiled I was as a child.

Today, my discretionary income, much like yours I imagine, is near zilch! Here’s the scenario: a paycheck is directly deposited on a Friday; we pay our mortgage, we pay electric, we pay for our phones & internet, then we buy food for the week… it’s not even Monday and we’re back to $0. Remind you of your life?

Why does this happen? Where did all the money go?

When I was just a young pubescent geek, living on the farm, it seemed, magically if you will, that I had more than enough money to buy my favorite comic books and a soda every time we visited the grocers. Now, as a married man with a family of my own, hell, that’s just outta the question (and it’s not just because comics aren’t $ .65 cents anymore).

It may be out of the question because the game is rigged. Though that may be pessimistic thinking and dismissive, when you look at the history of the United States economic policy you may begin to believe it yourself. But don’t take this blogger’s word for it, there are a number of recent documentaries on Netflix about this history, the best of them is Robert Reich’s  Inequality For All.

Inequalityfor all

I digress. I may be straying from the point I’d like to make with this post.

Where did all the money go?

According to economists like Reich (and of course Reich himself) the money has gone to the 1% or the top 1% of the 1%! It’s a little more than ridicules if you ask me.

Feels a little hopeless doesn’t it? Let me attempt to give you hope, to give you a reason to believe things can change with one name, Bernie Sanders.

How, you might say?

From the time he entered into politics he has always stepped up and fought for what is right. He is influenced only by his integrity and has the record to show for it.

Today, as he campaigns on the Democratic ticket for the Presidency, he remains an independent, rational voice speaking on the issues that should concern all of us. He has submitted legislation recently to make College Education FREE for whoever has the initiative and want to attain it. Uncle Bernie has proposed a jobs plan for American Youth. He wants to rebuild our failing infrastructure and create millions of jobs! He has asked us to stand together as countrymen, to begin a revolution to end the greed of the Billionaire Class, of Wallstreet and pave the way not only for a strong American Economy but also the large and healthy Middle Class we were promised by our Founding Fathers.

I’d like you to ponder this, let hope seep into your hearts and minds.

What would a world with Bernie Sanders as President of the United States be like?

Envision, if you would, your children, grown up, having the education you so desperately want them to have without going into debt, attaining a career that not only meets their financial goals but also makes them happy!

Imagine hopping onto a bullet train from Seattle to San Francisco or from L.A. to New York!

Now think on your own pocket book, your bank account. Think about those Monday mornings when you’ve hit $0. You’ve hit zero dollars once again because by law, your employer does not have to pay you a living wage. Think about that $0 when that last ATM withdrawal added a fee that has now put your account to -$3.00 and your bank charges you an unfair $35 Insufficient Funds Fee that goes straight into the hands of the .001%, the top of the Elite Class. Think on this.

When I was a young boy on the farm, reading my comics in the summer sun, the sound of cows mooing in the fields, I dreamed of being a writer and writing in my favorite medium… We all have our dreams and it is promised to us, as Americans, the opportunity to live those dreams.

Today, I am a writer of comic books; I also freelance in graphic design. I’ve chosen to follow my dreams. But my skills are directly related to a business, which is strictly dependent on the Discretionary Income of others. So, perhaps, I’m bias.

Perhaps it is selfish of me to want a President who fights for the common man, woman, and child. Maybe it’s greedy of me to want to earn a living wage. So, it’s silly to imagine my children receiving a College Education without falling into a pit of crippling debt. How dare the opportunity be given for my family to break through the poverty line that has held us down for generations? What gall I must have to ask for a living wage to be paid for our hard work!

…I’m getting angry now, how dare I.



Discretionary Income

“The amount of an individual’s income that is left for spending, investing or saving after taxes and personal necessities (such as food, shelter, and clothing) have been paid. Discretionary income includes money spent on luxury items, vacations and non-essential goods and services.” – Investopedia


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