At what point would a person or family cross the threshold into 'rich' and then, what should they do about it? For the last couple of months I have been struggling with the idea of class and wealth, the ever expanding middle-class needs to stop expanding. You can't be 'upper-middle class' forever, people need to acknowledge their wealth and whether that wealth is necessary, or how much of it is.
This crisis of heart came from the perfect storm of promotions for Jason, more inheritance for myself, and the comfort that comes from owning a house in an ever increasing real estate market. These are all things that seem positive (until you consider the heartbreaking realities of death that bring inheritance, and the annoying fact that home ownership is expensive and challenging.) Also with these windfalls came the publication of an article in The New York Times, "What the Rich Won't Tell You" by Rachel Sherman.
This article is haunting me. It isn't long so I suggest clicking the link above and reading the whole thing, but here are some interesting quotes:
...how economic inequality is hidden, justified and maintained in American life. Keeping silent about social class, a norm that goes far beyond the affluent, can make Americans feel that class doesn’t, or shouldn’t, matter.
... hide the privilege... wealthy people manage their discomfort with inequality, which in turn makes that inequality impossible to talk honestly about — or to change.
... must appear to be worthy of their privilege for that privilege to be seen as legitimate. Being worthy means working hard... also means spending money wisely.
... never bragged about the price of something because it was high; instead, they enthusiastically recounted snagging bargains ... critiqued other wealthy people’s expenditures, especially ostentatious ones...
... not mentioning money... follow a seemingly neutral social norm that frowns on such talk... one of the ways in which privileged people can obscure both their advantages and their conflicts about these advantages.
... widespread judgments of the individual behaviors of wealthy people as morally meritorious or not... such judgments distract us from any possibility of thinking about redistribution.
... talk not about the moral worth of individuals but about the moral worth of particular social arrangements.
What are your thoughts? I will continue to explore these issues on Always Standing, as I have often discussed financial issues and ideas over the years.
Looking for something a bit lighter, or disturbingly amusing? Check out the article from Toronto Life about a couple who buys and renovates a mansion in Parkdale in an incredible display of extreme lack of self-awareness when it comes to wealth and privilege. Follow that up with the hilarious Crowd Funding response.