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Old 10-20-2015, 02:12 PM   #1
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social class in the States?

WW1 killed off the old feudal class system in Britain and Ireland; half were killed off in the trenches, the remainder taxed to extinction with the income tax surcharge introduced by the socialist labour party after WW2 ( more tax than your income) and crippling death duties.

Then we had the 60's & 70's hippy revolution, and the noughties dot com technology revolution.

So it seems that The UK and Ireland have become the 51st state of the US: two cars, two freezers and McDonald's; a classless society.

But I'd like to know ...

Does social class still exist in the USA?
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Old 10-20-2015, 02:19 PM   #2
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WW1 killed off the old feudal class system in Britain and Ireland; half were killed off in the trenches, the remainder taxed to extinction with the income tax surcharge introduced by the socialist labour party after WW2 ( more tax than your income) and crippling death duties.

Then we had the 60's & 70's hippy revolution, and the noughties dot com technology revolution.

So it seems that The UK and Ireland have become the 51st state of the US: two cars, two freezers and McDonald's; a classless society.

But I'd like to know ...

Does social class still exist in the USA?

IMO, most of the divisiveness in this country is a class issue - the "Elites" vs. the "Rubes". I used quotation marks because those words don't describe how I see the people, but it sure seems to be the way it's portrayed in the media.
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Old 10-20-2015, 02:39 PM   #3
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IMO, most of the divisiveness in this country is a class issue - the "Elites" vs. the "Rubes". I used quotation marks because those words don't describe how I see the people, but it sure seems to be the way it's portrayed in the media.
I had to Google rubes. Lol!

Is class based on education, wealth, or being from an old monied family?
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Old 10-20-2015, 10:04 PM   #4
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IMHO class is a state of mind. Those who think they have it probably don't, they just have more $$$ than the rest of us. Money does not bring class.


Everyone knows that Sea Rays denote class. Just kidding. Really. If people talk about my boat and call it a yacht, my immediate response is "Nope, it's just a boat".


I do believe there is a "no class" class and it sits well below Rubes. It's populated by the likes of The Donald, Bill Clinton, Bernie Madoff, you get my drift.


There's also a class that sits near the top of the heap and it has nothing to do with money. It's populated by those who donate a substantial portion of their wealth for the benefit of others less fortunate. Bill Gates comes to mind.
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Old 10-20-2015, 10:27 PM   #5
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IMHO class is a state of mind. Those who think they have it probably don't, they just have more $$$ than the rest of us. Money does not bring class.

I do believe there is a "no class" class and it sits well below Rubes. It's populated by the likes of The Donald, Bill Clinton, Bernie Madoff, you get my drift.

There's also a class that sits near the top of the heap and it has nothing to do with money. It's populated by those who donate a substantial portion of their wealth for the benefit of others less fortunate. Bill Gates comes to mind.
Mike;
You are talking class as a character trait ie anyone can have class or not; do a classy thing or not. ie a homeless person can have class, a billionaire can have none.

I think Rustybarge is talking about a socioeconomic strata which defines a persons place in society, often defined by others, not their character.
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Old 10-20-2015, 10:54 PM   #6
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If the US has no classes, why do we think of ourselves as upper class, middle class, or lower class. I agree that class is really a state of mind. My Mom used to say that it costs little to be clean, and live with a little dignity. I think Larry (HealHustler) has it right when he says, "I would rather be happy than dignified". You have heard of shabby chic of course. Well that is living with a little panache for not a lot of money.

True we do not have class by blood lines, but society is layered none the less.
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Old 10-20-2015, 11:11 PM   #7
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There are lots of class distinctions, not highly correlated with the trappings of wealth or income, but measured mostly by things like education, out of wedlock birth rates, criminal history, drug use and the like. As far as wealth, even our "poor" have cell phones, color TV's (with cable), and more than enough food to become fat. Probably 60% of society (say from about the 40th percentile to the 99.5th percentile) enjoy roughly comparable life styles. Two or three cars, a house, some toys, at least one spouse working, eat out on occasion, budget major expenditures, etc. Lots of people in the US live (for a while at least) beyond their means, and lots of people live below their means, so you can never really tell anything about a person based on the car they drive, the clothes they wear, how much gold they have hanging around their neck, etc. At the very upper echelon, you have the people here for whom money is no object -- they have amassed more wealth than they can reasonably spend, probably fly private, have multiple houses with domestic help in each, etc. But even within that group, there are significant disparities in education and the other variables mentioned above. Contrary to popular belief, what you don't often see is three (or more) generations in a row living on inherited wealth. In fact, there is an expression "shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations". Between inflation, estate taxes, stupid investing, and dilution through multiple marriages and correspondingly many dependents, wealth is quickly dissipated.
I do believe that our country still offers the most equal opportunity for success anywhere, but I fear that is rapidly diminishing, with the result that livestyle quality for most everyone has peaked out.
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Old 10-21-2015, 12:03 AM   #8
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Very interesting question. My mother was the daughter of immigrants, one worked in a shoe factory, the other was a night watchman in a clock factory. My father was a rich kid, son of a German immigrant who got here in the 1920's with nothing and by the late 40's somehow he owned houses and neighborhoods and a chain of bakeries and apartment buildings. I tend to think of myself as the perfect example of how class works in the US. Yes, there are definitely class distinctions here. Old money, new money, trust fund kids, and what we sometimes call "white trash" - but as my own family demonstrates so well, I think class is much more permeable here, the boundaries are not nearly as rigid.

One set of grandparents were rich, but we weren't rich - and yet my mother the factory workers' daughter, taught me how to lay out a formal dinner service, so later in life when I was sitting near President Reagan at lunch, I knew what to do with a salad fork, or a demitasse spoon, or to cover a lemon before squeezing so as not to squirt my table companions. How to tie a bow tie. Cuff links. To open doors for ladies. No white pants after Labor Day.

I grew up in a nasty factory town in Connecticut, my wife is a farm girl from Wisconsin whose parents' first farmhouse in the 1970's had a partial dirt floor - and now we live in a ridiculously large, beautiful house, we sail transatlantic trips on the Queen Mary, and we just motored our big new boat from Newport to New York last summer along Long Island and the Connecticut shore. So yes, there are definitely class distinctions, but work hard and behave yourself and make good choices and the boundaries are still gloriously flexible.
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Old 10-21-2015, 04:34 AM   #9
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IMHO class is a state of mind. Those who think they have it probably don't, they just have more $$$ than the rest of us. Money does not bring class.


Everyone knows that Sea Rays denote class. Just kidding. Really. If people talk about my boat and call it a yacht, my immediate response is "Nope, it's just a boat".


I do believe there is a "no class" class and it sits well below Rubes. It's populated by the likes of The Donald, Bill Clinton, Bernie Madoff, you get my drift.


There's also a class that sits near the top of the heap and it has nothing to do with money. It's populated by those who donate a substantial portion of their wealth for the benefit of others less fortunate. Bill Gates comes to mind.
I totally understand where you're coming from. The new Chinese rich come to London to gorge themselves on consumer goods; Rolex watches. Louis viton luggage, gold plated jewelry. I visited China 20 years ago, its culture isn't 5000 years old, its only 50. Mao wiped the slate clean and destroyed their ancient culture.

The modern Chinese are igronarnt, pushy uncultured people. No class.

'Too much Money is a great impediment to taste'
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Old 10-21-2015, 04:41 AM   #10
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Mike;
You are talking class as a character trait ie anyone can have class or not; do a classy thing or not. ie a homeless person can have class, a billionaire can have none.

I think Rustybarge is talking about a socioeconomic strata which defines a persons place in society, often defined by others, not their character.
Although its true that sociologists try to define class by scientific indicators, each of us has an inbuilt ' class ' detector.

Here in Ireland we used to say ' he's a true gentleman', this was a classless statement which defined the quality of a persons behavior, rather than their socio economic status.

So maybe we are left with a polarized society of ' white trash' and ' decent people'?
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Old 10-21-2015, 04:48 AM   #11
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If the US has no classes, why do we think of ourselves as upper class, middle class, or lower class. I agree that class is really a state of mind. My Mom used to say that it costs little to be clean, and live with a little dignity. I think Larry (HealHustler) has it right when he says, "I would rather be happy than dignified". You have heard of shabby chic of course. Well that is living with a little panache for not a lot of money.

True we do not have class by blood lines, but society is layered none the less.
This is why communism can never succeed, we naturally define ourselves as ' different' to other people, whether that is richer, better educated or some other hard to grasp peculiarity that other groups of people are totally unaware of.

In some ways the definition of class is always assessed on a personal level: they maybe rich but I'm better educated, or they're tall and good looking but i have better taste etc etc...
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Old 10-21-2015, 04:53 AM   #12
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There are lots of class distinctions, not highly correlated with the trappings of wealth or income, but measured mostly by things like education, out of wedlock birth rates, criminal history, drug use and the like. As far as wealth, even our "poor" have cell phones, color TV's (with cable), and more than enough food to become fat. Probably 60% of society (say from about the 40th percentile to the 99.5th percentile) enjoy roughly comparable life styles. Two or three cars, a house, some toys, at least one spouse working, eat out on occasion, budget major expenditures, etc. Lots of people in the US live (for a while at least) beyond their means, and lots of people live below their means, so you can never really tell anything about a person based on the car they drive, the clothes they wear, how much gold they have hanging around their neck, etc. At the very upper echelon, you have the people here for whom money is no object -- they have amassed more wealth than they can reasonably spend, probably fly private, have multiple houses with domestic help in each, etc. But even within that group, there are significant disparities in education and the other variables mentioned above. Contrary to popular belief, what you don't often see is three (or more) generations in a row living on inherited wealth. In fact, there is an expression "shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations". Between inflation, estate taxes, stupid investing, and dilution through multiple marriages and correspondingly many dependents, wealth is quickly dissipated.
I do believe that our country still offers the most equal opportunity for success anywhere, but I fear that is rapidly diminishing, with the result that livestyle quality for most everyone has peaked out.
This is a very interesting point. For the first time in history our children may be less well off than us.

Diminishing wealth for the middle classes, will it cause a new social revolution bringing back into existence the lower classes that haven't really existed since the great depression?
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Old 10-21-2015, 05:01 AM   #13
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Very interesting question. My mother was the daughter of immigrants, one worked in a shoe factory, the other was a night watchman in a clock factory. My father was a rich kid, son of a German immigrant who got here in the 1920's with nothing and by the late 40's somehow he owned houses and neighborhoods and a chain of bakeries and apartment buildings. I tend to think of myself as the perfect example of how class works in the US. Yes, there are definitely class distinctions here. Old money, new money, trust fund kids, and what we sometimes call "white trash" - but as my own family demonstrates so well, I think class is much more permeable here, the boundaries are not nearly as rigid.

One set of grandparents were rich, but we weren't rich - and yet my mother the factory workers' daughter, taught me how to lay out a formal dinner service, so later in life when I was sitting near President Reagan at lunch, I knew what to do with a salad fork, or a demitasse spoon, or to cover a lemon before squeezing so as not to squirt my table companions. How to tie a bow tie. Cuff links. To open doors for ladies. No white pants after Labor Day.

I grew up in a nasty factory town in Connecticut, my wife is a farm girl from Wisconsin whose parents' first farmhouse in the 1970's had a partial dirt floor - and now we live in a ridiculously large, beautiful house, we sail transatlantic trips on the Queen Mary, and we just motored our big new boat from Newport to New York last summer along Long Island and the Connecticut shore. So yes, there are definitely class distinctions, but work hard and behave yourself and make good choices and the boundaries are still gloriously flexible.

The economic divide between the wealthy and the not so wealthy has grown wider over the last few decades. The top income earners are doing very well for themselves, but those that classify themselves as middle class are in the doldrums.

Can you see a situation developing where those middle class people become disenfranchised and cause a new movement to redistribute the wealth of the rich?

Could the states ever become a socialist country?
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Old 10-21-2015, 05:43 AM   #14
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OK, so here in the UK and Ireland 80-90% of people consider themselves to be middle class. This includes people like nurses, bank cashiers, social workers up to lawyers, accountants and managers of companies .

Less than 10% are lower class by their own definition.

And of course the 1% super rich.

I'm interested in the American class system because of the black and Latino population .

Are their many more lower class people in the states, and less middle class ?
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Old 10-21-2015, 06:09 AM   #15
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Either you are paying the Gov , or the Gov is paying you.
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Old 10-21-2015, 07:45 AM   #16
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OK, so here in the UK and Ireland 80-90% of people consider themselves to be middle class. This includes people like nurses, bank cashiers, social workers up to lawyers, accountants and managers of companies .

Less than 10% are lower class by their own definition.

And of course the 1% super rich.

I'm interested in the American class system because of the black and Latino population .

Are their many more lower class people in the states, and less middle class ?

Might be like that here (80-89, 10, 1).

Not sure about ethnic population of low-income groups. I suspect there's one very vocal minority... and then several others including Asians and Middle-Easterners who just get on with life. In my own work background, the number of "middle-class" (economically-speaking) blacks and Latinos (and others) is very much in line with the overall population distribution.

Lots of yapping about "the rich." For many of us that only translates to the 1-percenters. For many of the more vocal "less rich" is seems to be used as a very broad brush: anyone above poverty level must be "obscenely rich."

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Old 10-21-2015, 07:53 AM   #17
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Either you are paying the Gov , or the Gov is paying you.
Nice. Lol!
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Old 10-21-2015, 08:04 AM   #18
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Might be like that here (80-89, 10, 1).

Not sure about ethnic population of low-income groups. I suspect there's one very vocal minority... and then several others including Asians and Middle-Easterners who just get on with life. In my own work background, the number of "middle-class" (economically-speaking) blacks and Latinos (and others) is very much in line with the overall population distribution.

Lots of yapping about "the rich." For many of us that only translates to the 1-percenters. For many of the more vocal "less rich" is seems to be used as a very broad brush: anyone above poverty level must be "obscenely rich."

-Chris
In contrast to the States black people in the UK are predominantly lower class, living in social housing, and 10x more likely to commit criminal offences.In fact the metropolitan police in London state that you are 6x more likely to be mugged by a black than white.

There has never been a black or coloured political leader or prime minister.

So the UK is a bit of a paradox , predominately middle class except for ethnic minorities who are stuck in the lower echelons of society.
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Old 10-21-2015, 08:21 AM   #19
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In contrast to the States black people in the UK are predominantly lower class, living in social housing, and 10x more likely to commit criminal offences.In fact the metropolitan police in London state that you are 6x more likely to be mugged by a black than white.

So the UK is a bit of a paradox , predominately middle class except for ethnic minorities who are stuck in the lower echelons of society.

Well, disclaimer first: my thoughts on percentages was just a guess. No factoids.

And then we do also have ethnic groups who are truly disadvantaged. The very vocal of that "they" often seem to blame their status on ethnicity and resulting discrimination. Racial bigotry is indeed alive and well, here, but many here instead think that's only one (and a minor) cause of ethnic disadvantage.

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Old 10-21-2015, 08:40 AM   #20
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Well, disclaimer first: my thoughts on percentages was just a guess. No factoids.

And then we do also have ethnic groups who are truly disadvantaged. The very vocal of that "they" often seem to blame their status on ethnicity and resulting discrimination. Racial bigotry is indeed alive and well, here, but many here instead think that's only one (and a minor) cause of ethnic disadvantage.

-Chris
I totally agree with your assessment. Its all to easy to use an attitude of ' grievance' and ' racial bias' as an excuse for lack success in ethnic groups, whereas people who get up off their ass and work themselves out of poverty go on to achieve their goals in a modern meritocracy like the UK and the States: that applies to all white and ethnic races equally.
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