From a reader who lives in a very large state with a five-letter name, adjacent to our southern border:
“Mr. Derbyshire—The viability of the middle class is near & dear to my heart, seeing as my family is part of it. I work as an engineer and my wife keeps the kids and house in order, while getting her second degree at night. We make a bit more than the average household income in [name of large city], a locale with a lower cost of living & housing than most.
“Yet we still squeak by some months, living a quiet, sober life in our 1300sqft house, built in 1959. We have two vehicles: one 10 years old and the other 2 1/3 years old. We could put my wife to work, I suppose, and cart the kids (4 & 21 months) off to day care, an option supported by tax incentives and other before-tax income manipulations. We have no debt save our mortgage and eight more payments on our newer vehicle.
“Some of our other middle-class friends are not doing as well. One family, supported by both mom & dad, has had to forgo using an obstetrician in favor of a midwife due to cost and rather shoddy health insurance. They are praying for no complications. Another family of our acquaintance is in the same boat: they simply can not have children in the way Americans are accustomed to: hospital, doctors, nurses, etc. That the middle class is being squeezed economically is debatable. [The logic here suggests my correspondent missed out a ‘not’ in that sentence, but that’s what he wrote.] Below-replacement birthrates by its members do not bode well for its viability over the long haul.
“Having ones’ friends consider a riskier birthing regimen due to cost is galling enough. What makes it nigh enraging is seeing that at [name of local mega-hospital] 70% of their 16,000 births per year are to illegal aliens (11,000+). That is my property tax dollars at work. No attempt is made to get payment from the illegals themselves, as the cost is written off when incurred from illegals. If my wife or our friends’ wives were to give birth at [name of hospital], that debt would follow us like a hound dog. If it went over 90 days past due, it would be turned over to a collection agency and our credit would be trashed. A $25,000 bill for a Caesarean section would sink our family ship.
“This is not how my folks (degreed, middle class) and their friends had to live.”