According to the World Bank and the CIA World Fact Book, approximately 50% of the world’s working age population is unemployed or underemployed. It is hard to verify the exact percentage of poverty around the world. However, it is clear that the world has a significant poverty problem. The “Middle Class Movement” or “MCM” was founded to influence a reduction in poverty that would lead to an increase in the global middle class. MCM is focused on utilizing social impact measurement to influence an economic revitalization of the world.
Definition of the Middle Class
The term “Middle Class” has historically had many different definitions because so called experts have attempted to assign an income threshold to the term. The amount of money to be considered middle class differs significantly in different parts of the world. We therefore define the middle class simply as “households that can pay their basic bills on time.” If a household has sufficient income to pay their basic bills (i.e. housing, food, health care, child care, transportation, insurance, etc.) on time, they may still feel like they are struggling economically. However, they do not feel the emotional, mental and financial stress of households that do not have enough money to pay basic bills on time. These households are frequently forced to commit crimes to survive. We therefore consider households that cannot pay their basic bills on time “Poor.”
In writing my dissertation this year, I discovered the importance of having a theoretical framework that provides guidance on one’s research. I believe that this is extremely important for successful social movements as well. Dr. King relied on Mahatma Ghandi’s “Theory of Nonviolent Communication” (Bode, 1995). His non-violent approach to the Movement was a key factor in its success.
In 2010, I was writing a book on leadership and looked up Webster’s definitions of the words “Leadership,” “Command,” and, “Authority.” I was surprised to discover that the word “Influence” was used in each of these definitions. This discovery convinced me to refocus my book on influence instead of leadership. This research led me to develop “Intelligent Influence Theory” which states that people “do what they do, think the way they think, and accomplish what they accomplish because of influence.” Intelligent Influence Theory suggests that the right publicly accepted social impact measures will influence leaders to adopt policies that grow the middle class and reduce poverty.
The mission of the Middle Class Movement is “to increase the middle class by reducing financial, educational and emotional poverty.” The extant literature suggests that previous efforts to reduce poverty have failed because they have focused on reducing financial poverty and largely ignored educational and emotional poverty (Caldwell, 2017). If a household receives more income and they are illiterate, the income will likely not be sustainable. If a household receives more income and is literate but they are dealing with emotional and behavioral issues, that income will likely not last. It is therefore essential to ensure that people are financially, educationally and emotionally healthy for them to reach and remain in the middle class.
MCM’s strategy to influence global change is to use social impact measures to influence leaders to adopt policies and programs that reduce, financial, educational and emotional poverty and grow the middle class. Measures like the Living Wage Index (LWI) that we created based on the MIT Living Wage Calculator, clearly show the percentage of households that can pay their bills (the middle class). By holding leaders accountable for increasing measures like the LWI, we can influence a growth in the middle class through job creation programs.
We do not believe that grant funding is sustainable so we are focused on generating our own income. I created the company PeopleUp Inc. to “support the Middle Class Movement’s poverty reduction efforts by producing profitable consumer driven products, services and entertainment.” This company has established the PeopleUp Music and Tennis Tour which consists of professional tennis tournaments and concerts using local talent. This unique entertainment program is identifying the next generation of music artists and tennis pros. It is also providing significant funding for the operations of the Middle Class Movement. Entertainment is the perfect vehicle to provide sustainable funding for MCM.
The roll of two or more dice hundreds of times results in what statisticians call a bell curve or normal probability distribution. This type of distribution is surprisingly frequent in nature. If household income data fell into a normal distribution, then it is likely that even with the most effective programs possible, 16% of the world's households will be extraordinarily wealthy and 16% of the households will extremely poor. We therefore believe that a realistic global goal is for 84% of households to earn sufficient income to be classified as middle class or wealthy.
The good news is that if this goal is achieved, the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will reach record highs and the quality of life throughout the world will be increased significantly. If more people can pay their bills and become middle class, the existing middle class and the wealthy will earn more income so everyone will benefit. There is absolutely no political or financial reason not to support the Middle Class Movement. We are therefore looking for as many people as possible to help us use the MCM to push the world toward this “84% Solution.” If you would like more information about MCM, please visit www.MiddleClassMovement.com.