The Fragile Middle Class

Every time visiting old friends who live in the United States or Europe, my friends often ask “house tour”.

And every time the tour started, they were happy to say the same sentence: “This is a typical house of a middle class family.” Why do they say so? Of course they do not claim to be a wealthy upper class. They are hard workers who are struggling representation of day and night to get a decent income. Husband earned a doctorate in the field of IT, working in a vendor-known companies in Silicon Valley. While the wife worked at a large retail, a cashier. The couple have two cars, two teenage children who are still in school, and a dog is registered as a member of the family. Equipped with automatic garage opener and can be controlled from the car. In the back there is a small yard is overgrown with a Sunkist orange trees which bear fruit diligent.

But to finance the house and pay for a decent life, a husband and wife work full time. The house that they occupy is not owned house purchased in cash as many have held the Indonesian middle class. They buy mortgages with 75 years grace period. If the owner dies, the house and its assets auctioned off, the new buyer bought it with a new mortgage and the bank to get repayment. Children do not expect much of a legacy because his tax is very high. After all, they generally are independent. So how about the middle class here?


Last year the ADB announced, during 2002 – 2008, there were 102 million poor people of Indonesia successfully to the next grade and joined the middle class. While the World Bank announced last week, the number of middle class Indonesia reached 131 million.

This increase seems to give legitimacy to the government that the number of poor people has been substantially reduced. For those of you who critically, to see that big number (46% of the total population), perhaps you will say quickly, “impossible!” Even very likely you also are not very happy entered as middle class. “Ah, we’re just small people.” Even if they are to the campus or to the office while driving motorcycles or cars and carrying two mobile phones. That is our condition today. If foreign institutions are not talking and instead we believe what we say about ourselves, not diamini internationally. Moreover, every day we read news that is just a matter penggunjingan about poverty.

In fact, the largest portion of advertising in the media was no longer a matter of schools, agricultural, or traditional medicine, but the banking, telecommunications, insurance, automotive, logistics, body treatments (facial, skin, and weight), department stores, and advertisements corporate. As a result, many of us who become serbakebingungan. Is the data reliable? But strangely, the confusion does not occur in China and India. They actually welcomed the announcement with joy. Late last year, ADB said, there are 817 million new souls who join the middle class in China, and 274 million new souls in India. Thus, Indonesia was the country’s third largest growing middle class in the world after the two countries. With numbers of that size, they do marketing place (marketing of places) for excursions and shopping, health care, spiritual visit, invest, and a residence for retired deep pockets.

They want to continue to spur new prosperity. While here, we just doubt it. We tell ourselves we are fragile, are not independent, and potentially poor return. Why like that? I think conversations like that are not 100% right, but also not 100% wrong. Such chats reflect only the weakness of the three beliefs, namely self-confidence (self confidence), trust in authorities (public trust), and a lack of honesty in the face of God (believe in God). Believe, confidence, and trust are both means to believe, all three are interconnected and mutually sustaining. When one faltered, the others joined disturbed. This inequality is a strong indicator for a nation that lack of gratitude, and the estuary is clear: people who are not happy. All happened because during a long period of its leaders failed to restore confidence.

In an era of single authoritative direction and governance in the past, trust was built with seductive campaign through the imaging done through speeches, briefings, cabinet meeting, ministers ads in one direction, and public relations. In the present era of democracy, participation is the key word is important. Participation is the co-creation, customization (made in accordance with the needs of each). All programs and products initiated from the right. Of course not only in Indonesia, the middle class were fragile and prone to depression. In Singapore, for years the middle class while his country was also hit by worries hit by bird flu virus, SARS, and so forth.

Tourism is a major source of income of middle class citizens vanished instantly, and service sector workers is so easy to fall into poverty. Similarly in the United States, Japan, and Europe as the world economic crisis. They quickly turned into the unemployed who are unable to pay the rent and electricity. Their exports drop and the financial ability of the middle class destroyed. However, why they remain confident claim to be the nation’s middle class and prosperous citizens? The answer is the role of the state. As the mandate of the 45 Constitution here, they also have a section that reads, “Fakir poor and displaced persons become dependent countries.

“The difference is, in prosperous countries, the article was actually executed, not just pass saja.Setelah elections election, welfare only divided among the rulers and politicians. Our political system has taken away the guaranteed welfare laws that allow for poor people to enjoy prosperity. You would have read, how much a governor-elect must restore their capital when in power because the cost of “dowry” to the political party of Rp40 billion.

Not to mention the cost of his campaign. Common that for not-for prosperity trickling down. I still remember when taking the doctoral program in the United States nearly 20 years ago. As an assistant lecturer and researcher, income I receive from the campus of USD1.250 plus free money kuliah.Karena insurance and income, so I registered as taxpayers. However, his wife and children have no health insurance. We entered the category of the poor. Nevertheless, poor countries meet kewajibannya.Penduduk entitled to enjoy free education is good, and free choice of hospitals for health care. No need to line up in the slums. Poor patients enjoy the same service with those who can afford to buy insurance.

If you lose your job, the state gave a food stamp to buy food. In Singapore, when mass unemployment occurs, the state also issued savings. Education, health, and nutritional intake becomes an important concern. And more interesting, the state market share of human resources (HR) of his that have not been getting the job. Foreign human resources are limited, given the primacy of jobs for citizens, even though the multinational companies operating.

So, improve confidence and execute what is already mandated by law. Then stop into a greedy ruler. As Gandhi said, the earth is enough to feed the entire population of earth, but will never be enough to feed one person is greedy. (*)

Rhenald Kasali
Chairman of MM UI Program


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