Detroit was once a place where the American middle class could flourish, where blue-collar workers could provide a pretty good life for their families if they worked hard enough. Not long ago, amenities like home ownership, college education, healthcare, and family vacations were attainable. Today, for many Americans, those things sound like pleasures reserved for the middle class.
Since the declines of Detroit and the middle class are intertwined, Vice Newstook its Business of Life show to Detroit to discuss America's shrinking middle class. Host Michael Moynihan was joined by the, ahem, characteristically intense reporter Charlie LeDuff, David Madland of the Center for American Progress, and former Detroit News writer Shikha Dalmia, now of the Reason Foundation.
Things got tense between Dalmia and LeDuff early in the episode when Dalmia criticized American entitlement.
"Words like, 'Should be able to save' — that's part of the problem with Americans, is that they think there's an entitlement," Dalmia said. "You know, that's not how the rest of the world operates —"
LeDuff cut her off. "Look, you're talking a lot," he said. "But I'm up to here with it already. We're talking about statistics — we're human beings. We used to have a way of life, and now it's gone. And you're like, 'What are we supposed to do?' Talk about statistics?"
LeDuff added, "People aren't eating in this goddamn city!"
And just like when your crotchety old uncle starts bitching about the Unions at Christmas, the panel soon dissolved into a shouting match. Later, LeDuff again flared up, slamming his hand down on the table. "The lower class has lost wealth," he said. "That's the fact. The middle class now has as much as they had in the '90s. The rich are wealthier than they've ever been since the '20s, the era of the robber barons. I looked it up today before the show."