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Thread: The Logic of Stupid Poor People

  1. #21
    He pronks, too! Array Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beorn View Post
    Why does it matter what share of the economy it is?
    Why would you argue against people creating the most value they can with their own damn hands.
    My point is that if the share is very small, than it is probably a sector that is of very little relevance to the working class in general. I'm trying to say there is sort of a class (therefore something that spans a different dimension and goes across many different trades) the gets fairly wealthy by catering to highly rich clientèle. They are marginal, pretty much cannot go beyond being marginal by the nature of their service, and are themselves known to exploit the lower class to do their business, and what they do is usually not terribly productive/stimulating.

    So, point is, one hardly has to hate the working class to hate the decision to spend $2500 on a handbag.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beorn View Post
    Not really a fair comparison as creating quality pieces of craftsmanship and distorting people's natural appearance isn't really the same thing. Not if you put more value in humans than in objects.
    I think that's an aesthetic discussion that almost completely leaves the realm of economics. The point is, there is practical production and there is frivolous production, and the latter rakes in more money for those who practice it because it's aimed at all things "high class".

    Quote Originally Posted by Beorn View Post
    Even though you clarified your intent I would still like to know what exactly you mean in this sentence. I simply don't understand what you're saying.
    A highly wealthy person who has money to spare could spend that money on a very expensive catering service. In turn, that catering service's rich clientèle means they could pay their employees a rather respectable sum. A person who's looking to make a living might consider going to law school and becoming a public defender, or taking up some kind of trade, becoming a mechanic, etc... but they may find they can actually get paid more for less investment by taking a job with that catering service.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beorn View Post
    This is just ignorant and reveals that you think nothing has inherent value. Our museums are filled with things that were made by people doing "nothing more productive than satisfying the fancy of some super rich person."
    First of all, I don't think things have inherent value. It's all in the mind and there are a lot of different minds out there. I say that happiness and sadness are themselves inherent values and it doesn't go much further than that.

    And our museums are filled with lots of things we can now comfortable call amazing that were actually quite horrible. Tourists also flock to see the great wall of China, but that thing was a travesty. Now that it's already here and stuck around, we can appreciate it for free. One questions whether we ever should have paid the price in the first place, however.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beorn View Post
    Mostly not in a America, because we don't give a shit about craftsmanship anymore.
    Right, so the working class off in some distant land. I don't like that.

    This is not a patriotic concern, but rather points to my concern about the growing establishment of international networks of the wealthy and those who cater to the wealthy that move freely about, in a bubble, floating above the rest of the world's squalor.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beorn View Post
    Yes, this happens. That doesn't mean everyone should just make crap anyway.
    But you can. You can get rich making mediocre crap. It's noble to be a real artist, but economically, you don't need to. It's another example of why I wouldn't count on the purchasing decisions of the wealthy to suggest any kind of good.
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  2. #22
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Array Mole's Avatar
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    Default Social Class and Psychoclass

    As we become more prosperous class is no longer based on material possessions but rather class is based on the psyche.

    And our psychoclass is determined by our childrearing.

    For instance, the sacrificial form of child rearing determines the paranoid psyche, while the abusive form of child rearing determines the blaming psyche, and the authoritarian form of child rearing determines the controlling psyche, while the helping form of child rearing determines the empathic and creative psyche.

    And as we have become more prosperous over the centuries our child rearing practices have improved, and in prosperous and peaceful countries the helping form of child rearing is coming to the fore.

    So rather than wondering to what social class we belong, we might wonder to what psychoclass do we belong?
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  3. #23
    Senior Member Array two cents's Avatar
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    Oct 2013


    I think the article quoted in the OP is somewhat misleading.

    The author is talking about some people in her (extended) family very shrewdly invested in buying the right education, the skills for the right cultural performance, and the right luxury goods in order to signal to the dominant culture that they were not like those other poor black people, that they had "class" and respectability and could play by the professional and social rules of their "betters".

    Now, one could criticize her/her family for using these tactics and, by playing the game "correctly", reinforcing the same stereotypes that keep down all those other poor black people. But she is right, they were playing the game to survive, which is it's own justification. Nobody is obligated to be a revolutionary. I'm not going to go into the tension between personal action and collective action and umpteen levels of consequences.

    But she is upfront about admitting that when you are in the position of the underdog trying to give the right signals to the gatekeepers who, if you do it just right AND please them personally might just afford you the opportunity that will mean the difference between grinding poverty or a life of almost-middle class ease... or they might not, you will never know about the missed opportunities (if there were any) or what you did wrong. The girl that didn't get the secretary position didn't know why she did not. She's probably never heard of "silk shells". IF she had known, maybe she would have gone hungry for two days to invest in one... but what she needed to know was not that she had to wear one but that the person who would interview her would see that she did not and think that was important. And that she could not have known. Without that knowledge, any investment she might make in luxury goods that MIGHT impress someone is an extremely expensive gamble, with unknown chances of return.

    I'll just bet the author of the article doesn't think it would be wise for a poor person to go hungry as much as they can manage while investing all they can in lottery tickets. But lottery tickets are explicit about their odds. You know what the chance of return is.

    Maybe the "right" luxury goods are, in fact, worth the investment for poor people (especially if they are disadvantaged in other ways, like by being black, or female, or any other second class citizen). All we have to go on here is a "just so" story from the "lottery winner". I'm not trying to minimize her or her family achievements here, but to point out that buying respectability is not a sure thing, you never actually know when you need to go out of your way to pay for just one more, and when you've bought one too many and earned the consternation of the very people you were trying to impress. After all, the rich who can afford luxury often opt for a "modest" or "casual" performance, and you'll turn them off by "trying too hard".

    Also, I think she is pulling a bit of a fast one (though perhaps without trying to). She is talking about a very very specific kind of conspicuous consumption -- even if it amounts to gambling, it's gambling to win. She is very specifically NOT talking about the poor spending cash they barely have on luxury goods that send a message that only cements them in everyone else's mind as "trash" (of whatever color). Trucks jacked up on oversized wheels, car speakers so loud they rattle windows a block away, enormous silicone breasts, full-body tatoos... All of these things are consumed almost exclusively by people who sometimes can barely afford to eat. Or maybe by people who could barely afford to eat a decade ago but now "made it". They do communicate status, but they afford no upward mobility. I'll bet that's the kind of class performance people bitch about when they look down on poor people doing them. It's not the 2.5K hand bag as much as the 2.5K body work on a car with a failing transmission.

    And much as it's the knee-jerk reaction to bitch out some poor people for making such blatantly stupid decisions, it's missing the point. This is a systemic problem of inequality and exploitation. The poor are exploited by everyone, the gatekeepers of jobs and educations, the benevolent job creators squeezing pennies at the bottom so they percolate into millions at the top, and the pushers of goods whose job consists of turning luxury into the thing you can't afford not to have.
    And that's my two cents on the subject.

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