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"So, like I say, I like rich people and appreciate what they do, and God knows I'd never presume to tell them what to do with their money, but...well...some things they do just produce an irrational, visceral response in me."
Awww... lookie, Dan has a faint, but noticable, bout of class consciousness.
Working in retail I deal with people in the act of purchasing. I get to see how different people approach the process. For some its obvious that money does not just represent a path to a purchase, it represents a great sacrifice. The decision to buy something is not simply directed by desire, its driven by a need and an understanding of the future and past sacrifices involved. Money is an exchange of time and energy. When you don't earn much money for the work you do, and there are heavy demands on what you make, that money has greater worth to you. Every dollar is counted versus the value of what it can provide. When you plop down three dollars for a frothy mix of $0.50 coffee and milk it represents three dollars towards much needed food, clothes, rent, car repairs or free time. There is a connection between the work you do and the money it provides. Money has a grounded reality.
When you just have money, or it comes to you through the work of others, you lose that connection. Buying a latte is simply a means to fulfill a desire. It doesn't have to come at the cost of rent or free time. Money has a value all its own without regard to work. Money has value through the things it can buy, so buying overpriced luxury items, even things that you may not even need, makes money have value. Desire, not need, is the overriding deciding factor of how money is spent.
I see these two different views of money as defining class consciousness more than whether a person is wealthy or not. A person can have lots of money because of their job and still have that connection between labor and money, inherited rich people can have a concept of working class values passed on to them from their parents, or working class people can adopt the owning class attitude about money and usually end up going into debt. There are variations. Simply being rich or poor does not define your class attitudes, though it will be an almost undeniable influence.
Between the two competing world views; one of money as a product of labor and as a means to meet certain ends, and one of money as an abstract way of keeping score and as a means of displaying worth through consumption, I think the former view is healthier for us as a society.
I confess that this opinion influences my politics. I think we devalue work at our own risk. Its why I detest Bush's policies and attitudes that I feel are rewarding the simple ownership of money over the work involved to create the wealth we have. Its why I resent the corporate sponsored propoganda that seeks to tell us all that wealth is a virtue in inself and that buying overpriced goods in a vain search for self-fulfullment should be our driving purpose in life. Its why I think that while everyone deserves a little indulgence now and then, we should not make it impossible for some to even get the basic needs in life for the sake of giving some people more indulgence then they could ever use in a lifetime.
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Dissolve into Evergreens