How do the socio-economic classes operate?

Dec 28, 07:45 AM

Here’s what I have understood:

The upper class

How they get rich

  • Luck, destiny – there’s always a big element directly beyond any person’s control. This is it.
  • Inheritance – family’s important, and not just in America. Maybe for that reason money stays in the family. (Or maybe because money stays in the family is what makes family important?)
  • Education – brings not only specialized skills but also gives a person perspective, about how their thoughts and actions affect those around them and the world at large. That perspective is a major factor in the decision-making ability that enables the ambitious to rise. Also, education brings one into contact with educated, powerful, and influential people.

How they stay rich

  • Money buys power, and frankly it’s not that hard to stay rich if you don’t spend like an idiot or squander away money you most likely didn’t earn yourself.

How the rich lose money

  • Luck, destiny – the lack thereof
  • Greed – being rich isn’t enough, being powerful isn’t enough. Richer and more powerful are the credo. How do they lose it? Investments, lavish lifestyles – cars, homes, vacation homes, fashion, drugs, and so on and so forth. Incidentally this is where family also comes into play, because when the rich have rich kids, bad things tend to happen.

The middle class

The middle class, I have gathered, suffer from a lack of perspective. Suffer is perhaps too harsh, because a good majority of them are happy in their lives that consist of 9-5, wife, kids, mortgage, and bills.

The middle class, for the most part, survives off a steady paycheck. The perspective I speak of that they’re lacking is not knowing exactly where that paycheck is coming from. The powerful – not necessarily the rich – know exactly that, and that’s what makes them powerful.

Once again, family matters here. Whereas in the case of the upper class family is often what makes one rich (and then squanders that same money away), family is generally what keeps the middle class where they are, in the middle. Commitments, the same ones I’ve spoken of above – mortgage, bills, etc. – constrain one to one’s current set of circumstances. On that steady paycheck from a mysterious higher authority rest the lives of millions, and not just their physical lives, but emotional and social lives as well.

The happy ones are happy, but the unhappy ones are stuck. That’s how the middle class works. Tolstoy famously said that all happy families are alike but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. I’m not so sure about that, at least not in my world, where I don’t really know the people I’m speaking about except as a cluster, an abstraction, a “class” and element of society (which itself is an abstraction, albeit a bigger one). And by way of that I make my disclaimer, that I am speaking not as a scientist but an unqualified observer of the world around me.

The lower class

The lower class is the same as the middle class in terms of lacking perspective, except that their coffer of resources is even smaller. Their misfortune of being born into adversity leaves them a lot to do just in order to survive day-to-day, which in turn leaves little time to get educated, make contacts – in short do the things one needs to do to get rich.

There are always exceptions, and that holds in every class, every case, every place. But overall, this is the picture I see around me and in front of me, of how the world of class works, where one man is more different from another than he is alike.

America, Children, Comparison, Family, Life, Society/people



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