Der Spiegel's Berlin editor Gabor Steinhard has a new book on wealth and power that is being excerpted in his paper. On October 26, he deals with a new underclass that is nurtured by the (welfare) state while threatening its future.
An underclass that has an income comparable to those of police officers, warehouse workers and taxi drivers seems peculiarly German. I'm not sure to what extent Steinhard's concerns would apply to Anglo-Nordic countries, broadly defined. However, his depiction of a proletariat that is impoverished intellectually rather than physically is striking.
The underclass watch a lot of television, consume large amounts of fatty foods and alcohol, and have no interest in education. In a knowledge worker world where welfare states shrink in the face of Asian competitors, the future of the proletariat is bleak - and the risks for social upheaval significant.