June 15th, 2005


Class Matters

So, the New York Times has been running a series on class in the U.S., and it confirms some things I've suspected for a long time. Basically, it's gone beyond the rich get richer and the poor get poorer; for the last decade or so, it's been the super-rich get richer, the rich get poorer, and the poor get poorer faster. I can toss out some numbers (their survey of IRS records revealed that for every dollar the bottom 90 percent of America collectively made, the top .1% made $22,000), but the point is this: just like with the environment, just like with civil rights, economically, we're all screwed.

The American Dream is a myth. Perhaps at one time it was possible to give yourself or your children a better life than you are accustomed, but this is no longer the case. Class in modern American society is ironclad (according to my anthro textbook two years ago, among the most rigid class systems in human history, far more so than, say, India's castes; all the more because we refuse to believe it exists), and your children are extremely unlikely to have a lifestyle significantly better or worse than your own.

So, now that we know that, can we finally move on? You will never be rich*. Ever. So why support laws that favor the rich? Look at your own situation realistically, and recognize that higher taxes on people making incomes much higher than may benefit you, and will certainly never harm you, because you will never see an income that high.

And, given that you will never be rich, why not try being happy, instead? Why buy in to the whole stupid rat race thing? Do a job you like, don't kill yourself, and enjoy hobbies, friends, family if you've got 'em. If you can't get a job you like, do one you don't like with the minimum of borderline effort that keeps you from getting fired; continue as above. No matter how hard you work, you'll never get rich, so you might as well enjoy the process of not getting rich.

*This obviously ignores readers who already are rich -- there is at least one such on my friends list. It is legitimately in their interest to support lower taxes on the rich and higher taxes on the super-rich, while for the middle class and the poor, higher taxes on both would be better.
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