Sunday, January 21, 2018

Overview of the Middle Class Movement

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.”

Theoretical Framework
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.

84% Solution
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

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Myth of the Self-Made Man

Tragically, too many public policies are based on the false myth of the “Self-Made Man.”  This fantasy is rooted in the belief that everyone has an equal chance to “pull themselves up alone by their own bootstraps” and become a millionaire.  The philosophy states that anyone from anywhere in any circumstances will succeed if they simply work harder than other people.  The Intelligent Influence model explains that a lot of people work very hard and still fail because they do not have the same access to support (influences) as others.

No-one ever made it alone without the help (positive influence) of one or more other people.  The person whose parents give him $1 million in business start-up capital is off to a better start than the innovative young man that lives in a homeless shelter with no money to invest.  Both people will succeed or fail based on their hard work and the “influences” on their path to success or failure.

Tragically, because of the self-made man myth, public policy throughout the world is built around the idea of creating “Safety Nets” that prevent people from becoming homeless and hungry.  This safety net policy is a way for people who believe in the self-made man concept to ease their conscience by helping people barely survive.  They falsely believe that, “if I can help to prevent someone from being homeless, then, if they work hard like I did, they will have the same chance of being successful as I do. They can become the self-made man that I am!”  However, without access to the influences of a good education, quality staff and emotional and financial support that others have they will not succeed no matter how hard they work.
The tragedy is that current public policy and funding is focused on preventing people from suffering instead of empowering them to succeed and become middle class citizens.  Safety net policies and programs (homeless shelters, feeding programs, etc.) are important because they help people in the short term.  However, they tend to catch people in a safety net and keep them part of a poverty class with little chance of advancing to the middle class.  When these individuals do not succeed, the self-made man devotees erroneously believe that “these people failed because they did not work as hard as I did.”  Unfortunately, not everyone has the level of support (positive influences) and access necessary to become successful.

Public policy should be built around the concept of a “Safety Trampoline” that helps people “bounce up” into the middle class.  Instead of focusing on expanding programs that have the ultimate goal of preventing people from being homeless or hungry, political leaders should support programs that have an ultimate goal of providing training and jobs (and other positive influences) that will “bounce” people up into the middle class.  Safety net programs provide short-term relief to chronic problems.  Safety trampoline programs solve the chronic problems.  These types of programs force a reinvestment of public dollars that would eliminate the need to expand safety net programs because they would be focused on expanding the middle class to improve the quality of life for everyone.

Most importantly, by expanding the middle class and pulling families out of financial and educational poverty, politicians will be confronting many of the world’s most significant problems.  An expanding middle class will reduce crime, illiteracy, terrorism, homelessness and hunger.  In addition, it will improve the world’s housing stock, the quality of public education, expand health care services, and, if the right types of employment opportunities are created, reduce pollution around the world.  The primary focus of every government leader should be on creating the jobs necessary to expand the middle class in their country.  The creation of jobs paying a living wage is the most powerful safety trampoline program in the world.  

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Legacy of Dr. King

Throughout history, social movements have changed the world.  The Protestant Reformation, the Boston Tea Party, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Indian Independence Movement, the American Civil Rights Movement, and, the South African Anti-Apartheid Movement are just a few of the movements that have had tremendous influence on history.  These movements were successful because they addressed a major problem at the right time, in the right way with the right focus.  

In 1968, just months prior to his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the creation of what was to be the second phase of the Civil Rights Movement that he called the “Poor People’s Campaign.”  Dr. King was assassinated in April of that year so one of his closest associates, Reverend Ralph Abernathy, led the campaign.  This movement, in spite of (or because of) King’s assassination, brought tens of thousands of protesters to the Washington Monument Mall in Washington, D.C. to advocate for jobs for the unemployed and underemployed. Unfortunately, this movement only lasted a few months.

Historians have many different theories as to why this movement did not grow.  However, I have learned from my Intelligent Influence model that most successful movements must be “aspirational” to succeed.  The short-lived Poor People’s Campaign was focused on “preventing” people from being poor while the successful Civil Rights Movement was helping people of color “aspire” to receive equal rights.  This aspirational purpose inspired millions of people around the world to support the goals of the Movement.  It was abundantly clear to me that the best way to achieve the goals of the Poor People’s Campaign was to create an “aspirational movement” called the Middle Class Movement.  

My favorite picture is one of my Father, Reverend Gilbert H. Caldwell, Jr., leading a press conference with the person who would become the leader of the Poor People’s Campaign Reverend Abernathy and the leader of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King (see the picture on the “About Us” page on  This picture, which hangs in my office, reminds me every day that I have a responsibility to carry on the legacy of leaders like my Dad, Dr. King and Rev. Abernathy.

My Dad’s active involvement in the Civil Rights Movement has influenced me to do what I can to help to finish the work that he, King, Abernathy and thousands of others started.  The aspirational Middle Class Movement that has been founded 46 years later is intended to use what I have learned from my management consulting background and Intelligent Influence model to build on the Poor People’s Campaign

The intent of this movement is to prove to the world that the economic and educational well-being of all people in the world (the wealthy, middle class and poor) will be improved if global financial and educational poverty is minimized.  I am convinced that this campaign will succeed because there is both a moral and economic self-interest imperative to influence global leaders to create millions of living wage jobs and enhance the reading levels of 9 and 10 year olds throughout the world.

The Middle Class Movement is positioned to succeed because it is being initiated:

Ø  At the Right Time - because we live in a period of widespread global poverty (which is increasing because of the millions of people who are illiterate or were formally considered part of the middle class who are now currently struggling to survive).

Ø  In the Right Way - because we are using easy to understand indices to measure progress and social media to expand the movement’s influence.

Ø  With the Right Focus - because many of the world’s problems can be solved by increasing pressure on politicians and other global leaders to increase the reading levels of 9 and 10 year olds and support independent businesses that create living wage jobs.  Wide-spread reading remediation and job creation will improve local economies, educational quality, health care and the environment while reducing poverty, crime and terrorism.

Only time will tell if this movement will become the next great movement.  However, if you believe in our goals we want your support.  Please visit our website at or email me directly at

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Changing the World By Keeping Score

“What’s the score in your community?” “What percentage of households make enough money to pay their annual bills?”  “What percentage of 4th graders (9 and 10 year olds) can read at grade level?”   Chances are that you have no idea what the answers to these questions are.  However, the answers to these two simple questions are the key to peace and prosperity in your community, your country and the world as a whole. 

If someone asked you what the score of the last game your favorite sports team played you could probably tell them the score and where your team stands in comparison to their biggest rivals.  However, if you were asked “How does your community compare to the next town over in terms of household incomes or reading levels?” you could not give a good answer. 

According to the Central Intelligent Agency’s (CIA) The World Fact Book and the United Nations, more than 50% of the people in the world are unemployed or underemployed (they do not make enough money to pay their bills).  One of the primary reasons for this is that there is no globally accepted way to keep score on the economic and educational well-being of local communities around the world.  Consequently, the voting public cannot hold politicians accountable for improving the quality of life in the community they represent.  This results in lower quality of life for residents. 

There are a lot of measures used by global development agencies.  However, they are so complex and focused on the wrong measures that they are not understood or accepted by the general public.  It is as if, in major sports competitions, we ignore the number of points scored and determine the winner of a soccer game by the number of shots on goal or a football game by the number of yards rushed or a baseball game by the number of base hits each team has.  As sports fans, we would never accept this type of scoring.  However, in the game of life we do not hold politicians accountable for improving society because we do not have an easy to understand way to keep score on the trends in the financial and intellectual health of the people who elected them.  The Middle Class Movement (MCM) was founded to change the world by keeping score on the economic and educational health of every municipality in the world.  We call this effort the “Middle Class Movement” because it is focused on using an unconventional approach to reverse the shrinking of the middle class by exposing the economic realities of the world.

Looking at Poverty in a New Way
The MCM will develop and utilize many different indices in the future.  However, the Movement is focused initially on two of the areas that are the foundation of a healthy city, county, state, country and world.  We are attempting to reduce two very important types of poverty.  The first, and most obvious, is “Financial Poverty” which we measure using the Living Wage Index (LWI).  This type of poverty is defined as the state of having inadequate income.  People who fall into this category do not have enough money to pay their bills.  Most social programs around the world are focused exclusively on this type of poverty and ignore other aspects of poverty. 

The second type of poverty, which is frequently overlooked, is called “Educational Poverty” which we measure using the Reading Level Index (RLI).  This type of poverty is defined as the state of having an inadequate education.  People who fall into this category cannot read at grade or job level.  Educators are interested primarily in reading levels in school.  However, research based assessments of reading (i.e. Lexile Framework for Reading) indicate that there are defined reading levels required for different types of jobs.  Tragically, too many adults are so educationally poor (they don’t read at a certain job level) that they will never have access to jobs above their very low reading level. 

There is a tragic cycle of modern poverty rooted in the unfortunate reality that too many people grow up in families experiencing financial poverty which creates an “Emotional Poverty” which leads to an inadequate education which results in educational poverty which prevents gainful employment which leads to financial poverty which results in this cycle continuing for generation after generation.  Sadly, in many families financial and educational poverty is inherited.

This cycle of poverty is a drain on society because financial and educational poverty is the root cause of unemployment, illiteracy, violence, emergency room use, hunger, homelessness, crime, incarceration and even the recruitment of terrorists.  In addition, billions of dollars are spent on safety net programs that treat the results of poverty.  A 2008 study entitled The economic costs of childhood poverty in the United States by Harry J. Holzer, et. al. estimates that childhood poverty costs the US 4% of GDP or $500 billion annually (which would be $697 billion today).  Programs that reduce the two types of poverty have the potential to save tax dollars and improve society by increasing employment and reducing the most significant social problems in a community.  These programs can also enhance national security by limiting the ability of terrorists to recruit the poor.

The United States (US) is the most influential country in the history of the world.  We have the potential to, without the use of our military, influence other countries to focus on improving the quality of life in their local communities by using two simple, yet powerful, measures.  The Middle Class Movement is a global effort to measure the well-being of local communities.  However, because of the relative influence and easy access of data in the US, our initial efforts are focused on establishing these measures in America first and then expanding them throughout the world.  Let’s explore the two ways we are keeping score – the LWI and the RLI.

Living Wage Index (LWI)
The Living Wage Index (LWI) is based on the “Living Wage Calculator” developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  The calculator shows the minimum income required to survive (frequently called the “Living Wage”) in every county in the United States.  In the US, we utilize US census data to calculate the percentage of households in municipalities in these counties that earn a living wage.  We are in the process of calculating the LWI in other countries using available data. The LWI is in many ways the most important measure in a country because it indicates what percentage of people in every municipality in that nation that are in a “Living Wage Crisis” because they are not making enough money to pay their bills every month to survive.
The national average of local LWI calculations is a much better measure of the local economic health of a country than Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or the national stock market index.  The GDP or stock market index of choice provide information about the aggregate financial health of the country.  However, they provide little insight into the economic conditions of municipalities or average citizens.  Communities with a high LWI will generally have a higher quality of life than communities with a low LWI.  We found the results of our initial calculations to be very surprising.  In most major cities in the US, more than 30% of the households are in “Living Wage Crisis” (they do not make enough money to pay their bills). 

We list the LWI percentages for some of the best known cities below and include, in parenthesis, the percentage of households in that community that don’t make enough to pay their bills (we call those “Living Wage Crisis Households”).  The US is the wealthiest country in the history of the world.  That is why the percentage of households in living wage crisis in cities is startling.  This is particularly disturbing because the LWI is a measure of household income not individual income.  Consequently, it reflects the income of multiple income earners in a household that, even together, do not earn a living wage income.  Our surprising LWI findings are below:

Living Wage Index (Percentage of Households in Living Wage Crisis)
·  Baltimore – 58.04%   (Living Wage Crisis Households: 41.96%)
·  Camden, NJ – 32.71%.  (Living Wage Crisis Households: 67.29%)
·  Chicago – 62.40%   (Living Wage Crisis Households: 37.60%)
·  Dallas – 55.81%   (Living Wage Crisis Households: 44.19%)
·  Detroit – 44.41%   (Living Wage Crisis Households: 55.59%)
·  Houston – 61.25%.  (Living Wage Crisis Households: 38.75%)
·  Los Angeles – 56.52%   (Living Wage Crisis Households: 43.48%)
·  Memphis – 54.99%   (Living Wage Crisis Households: 45.01%)
·  Newark, NJ – 43.81%.  (Living Wage Crisis Households: 56.19%)
·  New York City – 60.93%   (Living Wage Crisis Households: 39.07%)
·  Philadelphia – 57.86%   (Living Wage Crisis Households: 42.14%)
·  San Diego – 66.10%   (Living Wage Crisis Households: 33.90%)

These astounding percentages of financial poverty in a country with a GDP of 17,419 billion dollars provide several important lessons for public policy makers.   First, financial poverty is not some arbitrarily contrived government determined income level.  The government reports poverty rates that are a third or half of the LWI.  True financial poverty occurs when a household does not make enough money to pay their monthly bills.  Second, even though the national economy is healthy many local economies are in a deep crisis.  Macroeconomic models need to be revised to include something we call “Neighborhood Economics” (that includes the true economic health of a municipality instead of top down regional aggregate analysis). 

Third, criminal activity in these cities is high because large percentages of people have to do illegal things to pay their basic bills and survive.  Fourth, policies like increasing the number of local police to reduce crime is addressing a symptom of the living wage crisis not the root cause of the problem which is the lack of local jobs.  Clearly these households are surviving one way or another. They are paying their bills through the underground economy of not paying taxes, taking unreported cash only jobs, selling drugs or stealing.  Hiring more police will not change that.  It will lead to greater conflict between police and people in living wage crisis and will lead to more violence.  Finally, the solution to financial poverty is the development of policies that support the growth of local businesses that hire local residents.  Ensuring that local businesses get meaningful tax breaks for hiring and training local residents is a powerful way to effectively address the living wage crisis in these cities.

Reading Level Index (RLI)
One of the most eye opening discoveries of the MCM to date is that there is very little publicly available and easily accessible data on the reading levels of local public school students across the nation.  There is plenty of easy to find public information on national high-stakes standardized test scores.  However, there is very little public information on reading levels of early learners in specific schools.  Every public school in the US uses one or more assessments to gauge the reading levels of students in the first, second, third and fourth grades.  The report Early Warning: Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, provides an “eye opening” explanation of why students who are not reading at grade level in 4th grade are likely to struggle in school and life.  The study confirms that students learn to read by third grade and read to learn after that.  If they are not reading at grade level in 4th grade they are more likely to drop out of school and experience financial poverty.  The Reading Level Index (RLI) is simply the percentage of 4th graders who are reading at grade level.

The Casey report and others indicate that the assessment of 4th grade reading levels is a powerful measure because it is not only an early indicator of student academic performance through high school, it is an accurate predictor of future graduation rates, crime rates, unemployment levels and financial poverty.  In some localities around the world, estimates of future prison construction needs are based on the reading levels of 3rd and 4th graders.  Communities with a low RLI are likely to struggle for many years to come because of the lack of an educated local future workforce.  Our disturbing findings on the percentage of students who were “Proficient” or “Advanced Proficient” in reading, based on the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading scores, are listed below.  The RLI, the percentage of 4th graders reading at or above grade level, is the first percentage.  The percentage of 4th graders not reading at grade level, which we describe as being in “Reading Level Crisis,” is provided in the parenthesis. 

Reading Level Index (Percentage of 4th Grade Students Reading Below Grade Level)
·  Atlanta – 27%   (Reading Level Crisis: 73%)
·  Baltimore – 14%   (Reading Level Crisis: 86%)
·  Boston – 26%     (Reading Level Crisis: 74%)
·  Chicago – 21%    (Reading Level Crisis: 79%)
·  Cleveland – 9%. (Reading Level Crisis: 91%)
·  Dallas – 16%   (Reading Level Crisis: 84%)
·  Detroit – 8%   (Reading Level Crisis: 92%)
·  Houston – 20%.  (Reading Level Crisis: 80%)
·  Los Angeles – 18%   (Reading Level Crisis: 82%)
·  Miami-Dade County – 35%   (Reading Level Crisis: 65%)
·  New York City – 28%   (Reading Level Crisis: 72%)
·  Philadelphia – 15%   (Reading Level Crisis: 85%)

In an extraordinarily wealthy country, with the most respected higher education system ever developed, it is tragic that more than 60% of the 4th graders in every major US city do not read at grade level.  Incredibly, in many of these cities, more than 80% of the 4th graders do not read at grade level.  We believe that once the general public is aware of the realities of LWI and RLI they will influence leaders to make policies that increase these measures their top priority.  It is clear that improving the LWI and RLI in every city in America should be at the top of every politician’s agenda.

We the People
The US Constitution, one of the most influential documents in human history, begins with the words “We the People, in Order to form a more perfect union,…  It is time for a global constitution that reads “We the People, in Order to form a more perfect world,…  Thanks to social media, “We the People” have never had more influence in the world.  When it comes to reducing the two types of poverty, “We the People” are not liberal or conservative, male or female, black or white or gay or straight.  We the People” are citizens of the world committed to leaving society better off for the children of the world.  The Middle Class Movement is focused on bringing “We the People” together to improve global society in a measurable positive way.

We the People” have the power to demand that world leaders keep score on the number of households that can’t pay their bills and the number of 9 and 10 year olds that cannot read on grade level.  The Middle Class Movement was founded to rally “We the People” to hold leaders accountable for keeping score and implementing policies like reducing taxes on local businesses and other job creators to increase the Living Wage Index.  We will also influence education officials to provide incentives to schools and parents for improved reading levels to significantly increase the Reading Level Index.

The universally accepted scoring system in every major sport enables teams to develop comprehensive strategies to win a contest or even the championship. A universally accepted scoring system in society will help government, corporate and nonprofit leaders develop comprehensive strategies to “win” by reducing the two types of poverty.  The MCM is leading the effort to reduce the two types of poverty by keeping score in every municipality in the world in a way that will motivate “We the People” to action. If this approach works for poverty then it can be a model for solving many other problems in society.

If you are interested in helping us keep score on society and influence political and other leaders to action against poverty, please email me at or call me personally at (844) 208-9808.  Our website will go live on November 1, 2015. We will ask you at that time to visit our website and sign our petition to support the Living Wage Index (LWI) and the Reading Level Index (RLI) as measures of global municipal well-being.  We need your help in changing the world for the better.