The Middle Class: How We Got One and Why We Need to Keep It

Thousands of graduates of public universities, which made higher education available to almost everybody who could succeed academically, formed the backbone of the post-war middle class. Employment and training programs made it possible for people to advance their careers. Social security meant that old people would no longer live in poverty as often and that younger workers would not have to spend as much taking care of their elderly parents. Through collective bargaining, insured by the Wagner Act of 1935, labor unions were able to negotiate wages and benefits so that their members were able to join the middle class as well. Primarily because of America's ugly racial history, some groups were left out of these programs and the middle class as well, but it is clear that without these, and numerous other government interventions, the middle class as we know it would not have existed.