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National Security and the Middle Class

Real Clear Defense

National Security and the Middle Class
By Jack Gardner

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reminds us that the world is still a very dangerous place where many nations and non-state actors hold world views fundamentally different than those of most Americans. Having spent much of my life in the military looking at these threats, I’m concerned that they are more menacing now than several decades ago. But I also feel reasonably confident that if we stay vigilant, work with our allies, and, in a bipartisan manner, leverage our huge advantages our national security apparatus can effectively deal with them.

But since I retired from the military, I sense another threat to our future. An equally challenging one that also requires a systemic national security response. In this case, though, the threat is internal and centers around the fragile state of our middle class and limitations on economic mobility. To me this threat runs to the core of who we are as a nation.

Our country was founded on the premise that every person can succeed if they apply themselves. Many have, and over time we built a large middle class that has proven to be a source of strength for the nation. But for some Americans this success has remained aspirational, and over the last few decades the gap between those succeeding and those falling behind has grown. And the impact has been felt across the nation, from rural areas to Rust Belt communities to large cities.

According to Pew Research, in 1971 the percentage of American adults living in middle-income households was 61%. In 2021 it was 50%. During this same period the percentage of adults in upper tier income households rose from 14 % to 21%, while those in lower income households grew from 25 to 29%. In general terms, the middle class has declined and the number in the upper- and lower-income levels has increased.

Full story https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2023/01/16/national_security_and_the_middle_class_875865.html

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