Saturday, August 1, 2015

But what is middle class?

Working through my own explanations for important things in our world is something I enjoy doing, which I think helps my understanding. And sharing really seems to help me clarify things as if putting it out public gives more focus, and I like to think my musings useful, as long as it is clear these are opinions.

And I've posted several times recently including this recent post where I noted that years ago I also thought it a good idea to come up with ideas for a new political party with a middle class focus. But what is middle class?

To me when you talk about middle class where naturally my focus is on the United States you mean people who are not on direct government or other charitable assistance, who feel comfortable in their community, and feel in control of their lives, for the most part.

Money I think gives a certain amount of freedom.

Pushing on to wealthy I think requires that a person be able to purchase things not necessary for a comfortable life which then are luxuries.

So to me in general differences between middle class and wealthy are about scale, like a middle class household may have from two to four cars, while a wealthy man may own a dozen classic cars.

Or with a home, a middle class family may want as much space as needed. While a wealthy person may occupy a huge mansion.

Yet a person with a great deal of assets--including vast amounts of money--may occupy a middle class home. And in my opinion can be functionally middle class. To me wealthy presents at the point of luxury.

The functional perspective is where I think it gets interesting, as a middle class family occupies I think that optimal place where their efforts in terms of their community are on balance greater than or equal to what they receive.

Then an impoverished state from the community perspective would mean that while a part of a community you have needs which require help from others to a degree greater than you have given by the standards of that community.

May sound convoluted but for example you may have invested a lot in the people within your community where I will not try to define that and they may readily help you as you age without it being considered a debt on your part. In that case I would say if you are comfortable then you are middle class regardless of what money is involved.

Take it from me, being impoverished means loss of comfort and control. Which is to cover when someone is deliberately uncomfortable, like out camping with limited amenities when it is by choice versus really being irritated by uncomfortable things when there is no choice. For instance one of the problems for those who are homeless can be as basic as finding a bathroom to use.

And that's it. My opinion on the middle class is not necessarily how others might see it.

Like you can check out the Wikipedia on the American middle class.

Not surprisingly I think healthy communities want people with choices, able to pursue their interests in ways that help the community, without requiring much if any assistance from others. While members of such a community will assist each other greatly providing services for each other.

So how does money change things?

In my opinion ALL that money does is allow strangers to do things for you under social contracts that limit trust needed.

For example you can go to a coffee shop and have a complete stranger make you coffee, which is a fun experience I often enjoyed. Contrast with making it for yourself or having someone in your close community like a spouse make it for you.

By limiting social trust, society allows SO much more to be done between peoples and lets them share favors with money. Which is what allows modern society to function.

Then millions can support each other in a nation.

Notice though we still have deep social trust at the larger scale of the nation.

So yes, politicians can send young people off to defend their nation knowing that some will likely be killed, which is as huge a sacrifice as these brave young people can give.

James Harris