"We are learning the consumption life," C said later. "Nobody knows what to do when they become rich, so they just buy things mindlessly." I asked what motivated them, and he told me about guys who try to show off by buying Ferraris. "Oh man, Chinese people like showing off so bad! Okay, here's a story. Ferrari: How it works is, when you buy a Ferrari, you pay part of it up front, and they go and build you the car, and then, when they deliver it, you have to pay for the rest of it. My friend works for Ferrari. He said they make a car that's undeliverable every month. Someone orders a Ferrari to show off and can't pay for it every month!"
We ate for a while. Then C laughed to himself. "The problem," he said, "isn't the billionaires. It's the millionaires." That was kind of an awesome thing to say: Dude, you know who's ruining it for everyone with their crass bullshit? Those low-rent millionaires.
Already the germs of class are beginning to appear in a country in which all wealth is new. It's what Sara Jane Ho was talking about when she drew a distinction about the women who take her classes: "My clients are not the overnight-mushroom millionaires. They are not the people you see misbehaving abroad. People who just came into money are still trying to buy the Hermès bag. My clients were buying the Hermès bag ten years ago."
Even as the American middle class has shrunk, it has gone through a transformation. The 53 million households that remain in the middle class — about 43 percent of all households — look considerably different from their middle-class predecessors of a previous generation, according to a New York Times analysis of census data.
In recent years, the fastest-growing component of the new middle class has been households headed by people 65 and older. Today’s seniors have better retirement benefits than previous generations. Also, older Americans are increasingly working past traditional retirement age. More than eight million, or 19 percent, were in the labor force in 2013, nearly twice as many as in 2000.
As a result, while median household income, on average, has fallen 9 percent since the turn of the century, it has jumped 14 percent among households headed by older adults.
The Blue Banana is more than a geographer's whim. It is the result of a beneficial set of circumstances, that include a temperate climate, fertile soil on the plains and a variety of mineral resources. Long processes such as the emergence of trade routes, improvements in agriculture, the development of industry and advancements in science culminated in the 19th century, when the region was a global powerhouse of industry, finance and science. Even though the Blue Banana, like much of the rest of the developed world, has now moved into a postindustrial phase, the region remains a major economic center.
Brunet's definition of Europe's economic core pointedly excluded Paris and other French conurbations, as a critique of French economic insularity. Brunet wanted his spatial concept to convince French authorities of the necessity of greater economic integration with the European core. According to Brunet, France had lost this connection to Europe's economic heartland in the 17th century, when it expelled the Huguenots – a protestant sect with a penchant for doing business.
I think there’s a lot going on there, actually. Maybe the largest component is the kind of thinking that attends privilege. What I mean is a pattern of thought that’s been developed over a long period of time.
One of the favorite narratives [of privilege] is that we’ve just worked harder, so we deserve more. But there’s another narrative. It has to do with vulnerability, and that’s a narrative that I first started thinking about and noticing when I was writing about race. It justifies certain ways of wielding privilege, on the argument that the person who is privileged is actually not powerful but very, very vulnerable and needing protection, and that the people who are dangerous are the people who are less privileged. There’s a story line that runs something like this: vaccination may be OK for some people, but my child is uniquely vulnerable. My child is actually too vulnerable to receive this preventative medicine, and therefore I’m going to opt out of this public health initiative to spare my child this risk.
I wouldn't call anti-vaxxers 'educated' - they certainly have no grasp of biology - that is basic.