November 04, 2011

We're All the 1%?

If class envy is a problem, perhaps it would be helpful to look at the big picture. In the history of mankind, nearly all present-day Americans would have to be classified in the top 1%, wealth-wise. If there were time-travelers from a hundred years or more ago they might well be protesting when they went back, knowing what we have. The whole thing is so relative. And if there's anybody who should be occupying something, it's the poor in Africa and elsewhere, many of whom are poor even by historical standards.

The other thought I had concerned the ubiquitous anxious question, "Will our children be better off that we will?" as if that's the end all and be all. I cringe a bit when I hear it because it rather nakedly poses that material happiness is the criteria upon which we base our society. I'm not sure, for example, it's crucial that my grandchildren have 4,000 square foot homes, instead of 3,000 square foot ones. Mika B. on Morning Joe mentioned today how French adolescents were asked to make drawings that reflected what they thought of Americans and one girl drew a person eating money. (Of course the French should talk but...).

This is not to say that the middle class hasn't been getting squeezed over the past four decades. Incomes aren't rising all that much, so even staying even is problematical. The thing about capitalism is that it does seem like if you're not striving to have better lives materially, you'll lose even the current standard of living. Which is what seems to be happening in Europe.

2 comments:

William Luse said...

What's going on with your page?

TS said...

Had a little fun with the new templates blogger's offering. Just temporary. Most people view the blog on rss feed so template mostly goes unseen...