Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Class Post

These are the classes. If you're an expert in sociology, feel free to correct me because I'm doing this from memory and you already know, I have a bad case of C.R.S.

Upper-upper class, also called the old rich. I am so rich that there's no way I could go through all the money I have. It will take generations of mismanagement to go through my wealth. I have trust funds set up for me, my spouse, and my children. I own decent sized chunks of several companies and sit on many boards. People pay me well for my advice.

I have been rich for at least three generations. I didn't make the money. My grandparents or great-grandparents did. I'm living off of their money still, and living quite well, thank you. The school I graduated from has had a scholarship that has my name on it. Well, not necessarily my name but my grandparents' names.

Examples of me are the Rockefellers, the Kennedys, the Hiltons, or the Vanderbilts. When cops stop me, they address me as Sir or Ma'am and apologize for stopping me, for they didn't recognize it was me. That is, when I choose to drive myself.

Lower-upper class (new rich) - I struck it rich. My company was in the right place at the right time. You may have seen me on the cover of Fortune magazine or Sports Illustrated. You probably know my name. I make at least millions every year. If I'm smart, I'd invest some of it and not blow through it all. If I hire the right accountants, my grandchildren will end up in the upper-upper class.

The upper-upper class though kind of thumbs their nose at me for being uncultured. It pisses me off because sometimes, I have a higher net worth than they do. I earned my money too. They were born into it. On one hand, I want to say screw them, but on the other hand, I want to be one of them.

When a cop stops me, they ask for my autograph.

Examples of me are Oprah, Bill Gates, Madonna, Michael Jordan, Prince, Dale Earnheart Jr., Larry Ellison, Keith Richards.

Upper-middle class - I am a professional. I am a doctor, a lawyer, the best real estate agent in town, a high salaried programmer, chief accountant for one of the Big Four. I make six figures and time to me is money. I am a very busy person.

I make lots of money and spend lots too. I have a nice car, because I want you to know I'm successful.

I am high-stressed too. I have very little patience for slackers. I want things done my way and will pay top dollar to people who are willing to do things the way I want them done. I appreciate that, and I'll reward their hard work with money.

When a cop stops me, I get upset. I am busy, and just trying to get to where I'm going and don't have time for this crap. I'll take the ticket, but I'll let him know he's wasting my time, and time to me is money.

Middle-class - The bulk of America. I have a job or own a small business. I pay rent or a mortgage. I have a family. I'm buried in credit card debt. I'll go on vacation once a year, get sloshed, and go back to work Monday in even deeper debt. I hope my kids become better off than me.

I am a slave to the banks. It seems like everyone wants my money. I got more bills than I can handle. I wish they'd all leave me alone. I'm one serious illness away from bankrupcy.

When a cop stops me, I take the ticket and go to traffic school. Or maybe I could sweet talk my way out of it. It works sometimes, sometimes it doesn't.

The working class - I never finished up college, but never needed it. I went to a trade school or learned a trade from Uncle Jim. I'm good at what I do. I call the middle-class people Sir or Ma'am and they thumb their noses at me even though sometimes I make more money than they do, especially if I'm now boss.

I'll do that job in your house for you for $3500. It will take me and my apprentice a few weeks. I know you formerly had Eddie do work for you. Don't get me wrong, I like Eddie as a person, but his work standard leaves something to be desired.

I am patriotic. The middle-class frankly pisses me off because they take this country for granted. I served in the military. My son's going to serve. Even my daughter's currently serving right now. She's on this college plan where they pay for your college if you serve. I'm so proud of both of my kids. She'll be the first to graduate college in the family.

I guess we need someone in the family to make college. My back's going out. I don't know how much longer I can do this line of work. Don't got any other skills though, so when my back goes, I don't know what I'm going to do.

By the way, I could hold my beer, unlike those yuppie kids who showed up at Shorty's last friday. They're lucky they didn't start nothing because I alone could have taken them all.

When a cop stops me, I ask him which police academy he went to. My nephew went to the other one. We talk for a little bit and sometimes he doesn't give me a ticket, sometimes he does. If he does, he's just doing his job. No biggie.

Lower class - See that factory or that mine over there? My grandpa used to work there. He made enough money to buy the house we're living in today. I know it ain't much and needs a lot of TLC, but when I get a job, I'll fix the roof first. It leaks during a heavy rain.

Gramps used to make good money but the mine closed down or the factory got moved overseas. That's why we're broke today. Those jobs ain't never comin' back.

We lived in a nicer place once. A hurricane/flood/tornado destroyed it though and left us with nothing so we moved in with my mother. She passed on, died of lung cancer two years ago.

I don't make life happen. Life happens to me. Sometimes Fate's on my side, sometimes I feel like I did something to really piss off Fate.

It's all the cards man. You get dealt a hand and you make the best of it.

Little Johnnie's pretty fast. I'm hoping he makes the pros. If so, he promised us he'd buy us a new house in the burbs. Lucy's pregnant again and Timmy's in jail. Same old, same old. At least one for three have a shot at making it, so I guess we're not doin' too bad.

Back in the old days, cops used to beat us up. I still don't trust them though. Sure they're getting better. I guess we need them around because crime in this neighborhood's just gettin' worse.


Blogger Liquidplastic said...

Zombie, my class is not even listed, and so I don't know where I stand. Maybe I am lower then the lowest class. Let’s check it out … and you all tell me where I stand:

My husband works for the state, as an enforcement officer, we can't afford credit cards, and when we got one it had a $200.00 limit, with an annual $45 dollars membership fee ... so we sent it back and told Capital One to kiss our old asses.

My husband has a college degree that I paid for, and I have a few hours of community college, which means nothing. We live from paycheck to paycheck because we couldn't afford to save, even when we worked two and three jobs, that were required to raise five children and help to raise eleven grandchildren. We had to sell our home because we couldn't afford the repairs and didn't like that ghetto look.

Now we live in a town home where we pay way to much rent, but cannot stand the noise of apartment living. I retired after working thirty-five years, but had to go back to work because we couldn't survive of his check and my retirement.

If we go one dollar over our budget, we get sick. Most of the time we choose between paying for our medicines or eating ... as you can see I am missing no meals --- and we receive no supplements from any government agency --- but we pay 38% in taxes. We survive. So what class does that put us in?

You see, I am lower then the lowest class. I like it when it was just, poor, poorer, poorest, rich, richer, richest--- I knew where I stood then, because I was poorer. Oh well ... this has been a very interesting read.

9/20/2005 9:16 PM  
Blogger Mybrid said...

Well, apparently I'm upper-middle class, by default of both me and my husband working full time and having no kids to spend money on.

But I don't drive a nice car so others will know I'm successful. I drive a Hybrid because I believe that those who can afford an environmentally friendly car should purchase one! (So no, unlike popular belief, I did not buy a Hybrid to save money on gas!!!).

And I never got a speeding ticket, so I can't say I'll be upset at the cop. He's doing his job.

9/21/2005 5:10 AM  
Blogger Mel said...

Hmmmm....very interesting Z. I'm not going to say which one I am. Very insightful comment from liquidplastic though.

9/21/2005 5:42 AM  
Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

ZS - I am not saying which class I'm in. I read this post of yours yesterday, but I didn't know how to respond. The only thing I can say is that it was a good lead-in to a new show I watched last night - "My Name is Earl". I won't tell you much about it, but suffice it to say that there aren't that many shows that feature lower-class citizens (Roseanne is the only one I can think of). This is different than Roseanne though - it's a bit more "out there" and doesn't seem meant to address the issues of the working class.

9/21/2005 6:30 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

You forgot the real mindfuck of it all... that our consumerist culture has us convinced that if we buy the right crap and work REAL hard, we too can be like the Rockefellers. Isn't that why normal, average Americans are up in arms about the so-called "Death Tax"? It doesn't affect them - but by golly, some day it just might!

The bitch of it is, if the middle and lower classes actually got together, there'd be no stopping us. But there's too much infighting. The middle class sees itself as superior to the lower classes because (see above) the lower classes are where they are because they just don't work hard enough. The lower classes resent the middle class because the upper classes have the lower classes convinced it's the MIDDLE class exploiting the lower class...


Great post though.

9/21/2005 6:46 AM  
Blogger Raemius said...

This is an excellent post. Here's the thing, even the lower class in North America does OK compared to a large percentage of the world population.

9/21/2005 7:20 AM  
Blogger Slade said...

I'm working class right now I guess...very close to lower class though because grad students are so very poor!!! But I won't complain about that because at least I've had the wonderful opportunity to get a higher education.

great post!

9/21/2005 7:24 AM  
Blogger Slade said...

me again...

I just read your race post...are you Black?? I never really thought about it until you sort of mentioned getting in trouble for "walking while colored" Just curious...

9/21/2005 7:27 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

liquid: The real kicker is, and you pointed it out very clearly. Each class has no idea what it is really, REALLY, like to live in the class below it. I can empathise with you a little bit plastic, because my family was pretty poor. We had to live with my great aunts and grand mother growing up just to have a place to live. They pinched pennies just to put food on the table, and yes, budgeting in a "poor" life style is not even close to the same thing as budgeting in a middle class life style. Budgeting in a middle class life style is "one weekend a month, we eat out". Budgeting in the lower class is, "how can you combine all the meals during the week to make a stew because we can only afford grocieries once a month". Litterally. Its almost unimaginable unless you've lived poor to understand it.

Mybrid: Yup, so you think. Your one lawsuit or injury away from lower class, even as a "professional". From your line of talk, your probably 1 DUI away from lower class. Dont feel bad though, so are the rest of us that consider ourselves anywhere in the "middle".

Laure: Hehe. Welcome to the great American illusion. This is the same exact mentality that has average, working class Americans thinking so negatively about unions. Its funny how "middle" class people can be so admently against the organizations that are their for our benefit. Its that hallucination that one day we can be "king/queen" that makes us think that way... and god forbid if we WERE king or queen, we wouldnt want our "stuff" taken.

Raemius: True, but that doesnt mean Americans should use the lowest common denominator to set the standards.

9/21/2005 7:31 AM  
Blogger kitkat said...

I think this post should come with a disclaimer that people don't have to fit these descriptions exactly. My husband and I are not in much debt at all, but we certainly don't make 6 figures. He is also in the military. Where does that put us?

I think the more we try to categorize everyone, the more we distance ourselves from "those people." The problems of the lower class don't affect us because they're just in a completely different category. How about, we're all human beings trying to get through life in this country?

9/21/2005 7:32 AM  
Blogger jenbeauty said...

Living somewhere between the classes here...

9/21/2005 7:42 AM  
Anonymous Michele said...

We have raised 4 kids on an income of less than 50,000 annually, (years ago, much less than that) We've been able to buy a home because we lived in small crummy rentals for years and drove an ugly uncool car.
But, you know what? I'm grateful. I'm doing a million times better than my grandparents who were migrant farm workers. Plus, who wants to be super rich and on the cover of People magazine. Not to sound like Pollyanna, but true wealth isn't what you have in the bank.
Have you been faithful to your spouse? Do your kids admire you? Do you honor your own folks and speak to them? This is success, and more than what most of the people we envy have. Huge riches are a snare, and seem to mess up most of the people who have them.
My daughter is a waitress, and worked in a posh restaurant where she waited on the "wine and art" crowd,the wealthy traveling tourists. She said they were boring and didn't seem to be having much fun while they dined. Now she works in a greasy spoon and waits on fat white trash all day. She says these people are fun and friendly. (And strangely, she's making the same amount of tips.)
Think about the times and things you remember in your life; Is it the new car, or holding your new baby? The best things in this world come straight from the hand of God and not from a store.
Work hard, love your family, try to share what God blesses you with. This is wealth.

9/21/2005 7:50 AM  
Blogger bsoholic said...

I too watched 'my name is earl' wallflower - it was a really funny and well put together show.

9/21/2005 8:00 AM  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

You're a great writer. I enjoyed reading this post very much. I guess Dan and I are somewhere between 'upper middle class' and that 'working class'.
Dan has a great job with the phone company (didn't go to college for that). We have benefits, a mortgage, and two cars that we own outright.
We use our credit card but we pay it down everytime we get a paycheck.
I don't think I would ever want to be rich.
I see the rich people's lives on TV and it looks like a sin trap to have that much money.
I think we all strive to be comfortable.
Why should we ever want more than that?
Michele--awesome comment.
Dan and I owned our own home when we were in early twenties. I'm proud of the fact that we have never asked our parents for huge financial help. We are where we are today by our own hard work.

9/21/2005 8:04 AM  
Blogger Mybrid said...

Chris: "Your one lawsuit or injury away from lower class, even as a "professional". From your line of talk, your probably 1 DUI away from lower class.

You don't know me (or anyone else in my "class") all that well to make this type of assessment. First, I don't drink - so no DUI for me. :-)
Second, we work hard for the money - and we save it so we will manage to deal with life's many surprises. Being in the upper-middle allows me to save money. And to me that's the big difference between upper middle and just middle class.

Sometimes, having a chronic illness teaches one how to value the most important things in life. Money ain't it. Health is.

9/21/2005 9:24 AM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

LP - These are more sociological definitions, not mine. I just added the dealing with cops part and added a little flavor. But as you said, there's poor, poorer, and poorest. I've always said that the middle-classes are slaves to The Man and the lower classes have it even worse.

Mybrid - Ah, you're DINKs. ;)
Stands for Double Income No Kids. Funny thing about Hybrids is my Saturn actually gets the same gas miliage on the freeway as a hybrid. I can't wait to move back to the San Francisco Bay Area so I could use BART again. I hate dealing with traffic.

Mel - LP's always insightful. :)
From reading your life story, you've been at least three in your life.

Notta - Yeah, need to see that. Roseanne was technically working class, but the show showed very well just how much working class struggles to make ends meet, so they could appear as poor.

Laura - The bitch of it is, if the middle and lower classes actually got together, there'd be no stopping us. But there's too much infighting.

You are right on, especially the above statement. There is way too much infighting and The Man loves it. Let them fight for the crumbs while I eat the cake.

Raemius - Very true. However, the rest of the world is hopelessly overpopulated and doesn't have a shot. Americans (and Canadians) do.

Slade - I'm a mix of several + a few question marks. To tell you the truth, I don't even know about 35% of what I am. Maybe one day I'll do a post on what I've been mistaken for and what I think I have in me.

Like just this year, I learned I have some Hungarian in me. I never knew that. I used to think I had a tape worm and now I know why I'm always hungry. Har har.

The problems I have with cops is I get mistaken for everything. Whatever race they're prejudice against, they'll accuse me of being it.

Chris - Wow, those were some good statements you made and no arguments from me on any of them. It really bothers me how anti-Union so many people are. From reading history, Unions are what created the middle-class. Sure there's corruption, but you don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Kitkat - Good point. None of us fit any of these exactly. I've been middle-class and working class, but never lower. However, my wife is lower. I wouldn't be surprised if she had relatives with leprosy (and yes, she's American). So what I know of the lower class, I know from her mainly. I did live in lower class areas to save money on rent, but I've always been techically middle or working class.

The military and college students don't really fit in any class, or they're separate classes entirely. Officers have it much better than grunts.

Jenbeauty - They're definitely not set in stone. A lot of us are. I really wish sociologists would go into more detail with the lower class, because there are huge difference between some lower class folks.

Michele - I love how you think. You're the type of person who will try to make the best of anything. You also are not tempted by Mammon, something that I have been guilty of many times in life.

Funny thing about your daughter, I worked in a working class cash only restaurant and they were a blast. I also worked in a retirement home for the rich. It was miserable. Granted, they went there to die, but all that money did not bring them happiness and very few had smiling hearts.

Bsoholic - So we have a 2nd for that show. I need to see it.

Sadie - Then you made it. Congrads!

I was in your situation a few years ago. Used the credit card only to boost my credit score and paid it off every month. Owned my car outright. Was building up a fat retirement account with awesome stock investments.

I took the Zombieslayer family on vacations regularly. Went to Disneyland a lot. Then my job got outsourced and we went from being very comfortable to struggling again.

But I have a lot of Faith and truly believe we'll get there again soon. It was a wonderful feeling, not to be owned by The Man.

Mybrid - Money ain't it. Health is.

Only two things in life are not replaceable - death and bad health. Money you can make again. Items can be replaced. Very true.

9/21/2005 10:02 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Zombie - That was a great post; I really enjoyed that. Very creative.

9/21/2005 10:12 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

I suppose I'm middle class making working class wages. I guess living in California automatically knocks you down one level in the income department because of gas and living costs.

The drugs and alcohol don't help either. Or do they?

9/21/2005 11:53 AM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Joe - Yeah, I tell my friends in Texas what I make in California and they think I'm rich. Then I tell them what my mortgage is and they wonder if I'm eating. ;)

Scott - Thanks.

9/21/2005 12:14 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

"I tell my friends in Texas what I make in California and they think I'm rich."

That's also part of the problem causing the infighting. The Right succeeds in convincing middle-america that urban liberals are living high on the hog because they spend $4.50 on a Starbucks latte. That $4.50 goes a lot further in middle america and therefore sounds like a lot of money... If we take into consideration different costs of living, we're not all that different.

9/21/2005 1:11 PM  
Blogger Moni said...

When I was growing up we had it pretty tough. My dad made $5000.00 one year while my mom went to nursing school. We qualified for food stamps, but with one exception we didn't even have enough money to buy them.

I thought I was poor then I grew up, got married and went to live in the Philippines. I found out differently, at least I didn't have to pick through a garbage heap to find things to eat. I know we have a real poverty problem here in the U.S. but Raemius is right, compared to the rest of the world, it could be worse.

Very good post ZS, it reminds me of the range of characters in the movie Good Will Hunting. That's it, you should write a screen play about the class struggle in the U.S.! Who knows maybe you could wind the Oscar. :)

9/21/2005 4:40 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Moni - There are two screenplays I want to do. One is a screenplay to the fantasy book my wife is currently working on. The other of course is a zombie one, which will have some political themes.

Laura - Yeah, salary means nothing alone. It's just another number. What you need is salary vs local cost of living.

9/21/2005 5:56 PM  
Blogger Bridget Jones said...

What an incredibly thoughtful post!

How about 'brain classes'?

Nah, it's just toooo tempting....Bridg

9/21/2005 8:46 PM  
Blogger Vest said...

I feel capable of being able to adjust to which ever class my present circumstances fall upon, I have lived the lot with the exception of the top order of political power, as the saying goes; "Digging Ditches to Swimming in Riches", In fact I am quite happy to be living with the best of every thing. vest Daily Gaggle.

9/28/2005 2:05 PM  
Anonymous Karl M said...

As I said years ago, we should throw all our possessions in the hat and then share the bloody lot out. K M, Highgate Cem, London.

9/28/2005 2:14 PM  
Blogger Vest said...

Hi Slade, I hope you are not concerned if ZS is black, as black is as white and right as white, black as you look right now is putting one over white as I write, in truth it would not concern me if he were green, but then I suppose it would still be dark greens at the back of the bus and light greens at the front. ZS is all heart whatever shade.

9/28/2005 2:38 PM  

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