Money and Class in America
Why Gap Between the Classes in America is Getting Closer
The United States is turning into a country of rich and poor with the majority of Americans falling in the center. American history and governmental issues, especially jails and schools, have a vital impact in the extending or closing the gap amongst rich and poor. Numerous unfortunate Americans live in conditions looking like those of a third world country, with ghastly living arrangements, and few “mom and pop” business openings. Half of black Americans are poor, yet most impoverished individuals are not black. In congress, white politicians accommodate to the interest to the prejudice of meager white voters to get encourage for new laws that trouble low-salary individuals overall. There is more government funding in jail than there is in schools and furthering education. This starts to create a trend where the rich are enjoying their private school educations that they can afford, while the poor enjoy their time sitting in jail.
The lower class or “those that live below the poverty line” are exemplified by poverty, panhandling, and unemployment. Americans of this class have lesser degrees of education around the high school and lower level. They experience the ill effects of not having good healthcare and a safe, clean, spacious living environment. They also suffer from lower than average quality apparel and school education. The media regularly belittle the lower class by portraying them as penniless individuals as welfare families who keep having kids with a lack of a stable job. They also label them as menaces to society, felons, and drug addicts.
The laborers or “blue collar” workers frequently suffer from a lack of a decent education and often take part in heavy labor intensive jobs which take a toll on their bodies. The workers in the laborer class are often dishwashers, clerks, housekeepers, and servers who often lack the opportunities to be promoted due to their education levels. There are more profitable jobs in the laborer class such as woodworkers, handymen, and electricians are frequently called specialists. These workers may be able to earn more than some middle-class jobs but at a higher cost. Their services are often very hazardous, undesirable, and very physically demanding.
The middle class or “white collar” workers take up the majority of jobs in Americans. Most people in the United States fall in these categories but there are varying degrees of the middle class. These workers often work in an office and have more cash readily available then the lower class but not as much as the upper class. The less educated middle class is frequently comprised chiefs, entrepreneurs, instructors, and secretaries. On the other side of the spectrum of middle class workers is comprised of very educated individuals. Most of these workers have completed college education and have higher than average salaries. They are often engineers, legal advisors, stockbrokers, and CEOs.
The middle class is generally separated into two sections, the lower middle and upper middle class. The lower middle class incorporates those with “new cash” or recently earned cash from new business and jobs. These are the workers that come from first generation college students and immigrant families. They may have come from poverty or labor class families. The upper middle class incorporates those that are born into distinguished and high‐society families with “old cash” who have been rich for ages. They often live off the wealth that they have inherited or given from their families. Wherever their cash originates from they often have more cash they can care to spend, which more often than not, means that they have more time to engage in recreation time with their kids and families. They often stay in gated communities, spend their time at country clubs and other social gatherings and send their children to some of the best private schools in the nation.
The upper class or “top one percent” are Americans who often have the highest levels of education Master degrees and PHD’s at the best schools in the nations. They work at the top jobs in the nation and are often at the forefront of ingenious business ventures and ideas, it also includes sports players and entertainment performers who perform for the whole nation to see. They often can afford to go to sleep in peace realizing that they have more than enough cash to address any of life’s difficulties, as well as purchase any number of luxury items to make life even easier and more fun. They are nurtured with guardians who read books to them, coaches to help with sports and homework plus numerous resources to access. They travel in planes, private jets, and the latest cars. They are often have the ability to change the world with their wealth and are often developing the latest gadgets or new business.
The gaps between the classes seem to be getting closer and closer every year. Often Americans are finding themselves either below the poverty line or in the upper middle class. The problem is that individuals are frequently not thinking about the long term when it comes to money especially when they have children. They are not saving their money, putting it into investments, or putting it into retirement funds and their children’s education. Most of the time they are finding themselves in heavy debt from student loans because they much rather spend their money on materialistic items. They are not pondering the future; they are centered around surviving the present. In these cases, Americans are finding themselves one accident or mishap away from falling below the poverty line. They seemed to have developed the mentality that life’s too short to worry about future events because death can approach at any moment. When they do die they often leave no money for their kids and even leave debts for them to pay.
The middle or “white collar” class is contracting. This gathering used to make up close to 90% of the American populace, however now remains around 50% of the American populace. Even though those living in the lower middle class do not live in neediness, they are often in debt from paying for a good college education, new cars, or houses. They frequently find themselves one disaster from being plunged underneath the poverty line. Those that find themselves in the upper middle class are more often than not, finding themselves one pay raise away from being in the top 1%. They are investing their money in stocks, bonds, and other future investments. They make sure their kids are getting top-class education and often start saving money for their children’s college. With no outstanding debt, they find themselves worry free and are not hesitating to put their money towards new business ventures. The number of individuals that are found between the lower and upper middle class is becoming shorter and shorter due to most Americans either being full of debt living month to month with no savings for emergencies or debt-free putting money toward the future with investments and retirement funds maxed out.
The Study Of The Theme Of Blind Faith In The American Dollar As Illustrated In Lewis Lapham’s Book Money And Class In America,
The American Faith in Money
Lewis Lapham, in his book Money and Class in America, asserts that Americans have been so feverishly blinded by the “faith in money” that the pursuit for flashy affluence has established itself above more sophisticated human virtues. Although his argument intends to provide commentary on America’s crazed love for money, Lapham incorrectly assumes that Americans blindly worship millionaires as wise role models and that other first world nations are more altruistic than their capitalist counterpart.
Ever since the year robber barons arose during the Gilded Age of America, millionaires and billionaires have been lavishly rewarded with the celebrity treatment, their names ringing through America’s money-obsessed ears almost as prominently as freedom rings in America’s glorious patriotism. However, that is not to say that the fame resulting from owning large sums of money equates to immediately being “perceived as being necessarily good and wise”, as Lapham puts it. Even the previously mentioned term “robber barons” was coined as a socially criticizing, derogatory nickname labelling fat-pocketed millionaires as corrupt and voracious. The amount of anger from the lower and middle class had towards unscrupulous wealthiness demonstrates how early Americans had already come to hate the wealthy. Even modern day celebrities like Kim Kardashian are characterized by the public as being as terribly uneducated as they are terribly voluptuous. Though these celebrities are rich enough to cry about losing $175,000 earrings in the ocean and still have their fame intact, they are definitely less American role models than they are A-list laughingstocks in the eyes of the public. Therefore, in contrast to Lapham’s argument, Americans are at least intellectually critical enough to identify corruption and incompetence within those that are, according to Lapham, supposedly praised as prosperous paragons.
Often has America been labeled as the greedy, self-serving businessman of the world; this sentiment is clearly apparent in Lapham’s argument. However, Lapham’s logic is that while America obsessed over money, the more pure and intellectual first-world nations “have raised up countervailing faiths in family, honor, religion, intellect, and social class”. One can assume from his argument that America had always been the spoiled brat that the more mature foreign nations constantly had to babysit. However that is not the case; America actually provided support to the Allies in their most dire situations, including both World War I and II. America was the nation that took the responsibility of loaning their money and war supplies to Europe when they desperately needed assistance the most. Though America may have done it as a method of ensuring friendly Euro-American relations, its actions were clearly not lacking in the honorary values that Lapham states. Lapham also fails to realize that America’s vices, no matter how many or how unethical, can not magically invalidate the vices of other nations; his portrayal of Germany, Russia, and France as being inherently socially superior nations is cynical and inaccurate. America’s “faith in money” does not erase Germany’s historically infamous fascism, Russia’s oppressive homophobic jurisdiction, and France’s own “revolutionary” economic turmoil. If Lapham wants to properly criticize America’s flaws, he must do so while fully acknowledging the flaws of the nations he compares America to.
Lapham’s overbearingly cynical opinion of America’s attitude towards money impairs his ability to logically criticise American society; he assumes that America is only home to those who either are rich or blindly worship the rich, completely ignoring the flaws of the “superior” nations and America’s historical efforts in providing financial support to other nations. Perhaps before Lapham decides to ridicule the American “faith in money”, he should first have some faith in America himself.
The Cons Of Lewis Lapham’s Claims That Success, Happiness And Self Worth Is Associated With Money In America As Depicted In The Book Money And Class In America,
In this excerpt from Money and Class in America, Lewis Lapham paints a bleak picture of America. He suggests that the United States, more than any other country, equates happiness, success, and self-worth with money. Granted, America has always been a capitalistic society, and the importance it places on money and material goods cannot be denied. However while many of Lapham’s observations are valid to an extent, he often goes too far, refusing to acknowledge the many exceptions to his claims.
Early in the passage, Lapham maintains that the faith Americans place in the almighty dollar “easily surpasses” that of other societies over time. However, history reveals that man, regardless of his country or culture, has always had an Abiding Faith in money in the tangible goods it can buy. The French King Louis and Queen Marie Antoinette epitomized luxury, decorating their palace at Versailles with gold and jewels and hosting elaborate ceremonies. Well they spent their fortune, the masses were too poor to even buy bread. The king and queen were more concerned with their own success than that of the people. Their money blinded them to the fact that their own country was about to revolt against them. Later, when the Spanish discovered the Americas, they traded with the indigenous peoples. They gave the natives things like buttons in exchange for knives, showing that they were not above using trickery to gain material wealth. The Spanish faith in money was stronger than their moral standards.
Lapham goes on to explain that Americans distrust “anything that cannot be counted, stuffed, framed, or mounted over the fireplace den.” In other words, they focus solely on man’s “visible signs of wealth” and place little value on his intangible qualities such as honor, intellect, or culture. Such is simply not the case. Professional athletes are among the highest paid Americans, but they are not revered for the size of their paychecks. People appreciate the talent and entertainment that they provide. Although they are paid millions of dollars, that is not their only contribution to society. In contrast, even the poorest people still value things like family over money. For instance, a dog may be another mouth to feed, but many poor or homeless people still own one. The companionship a pet provides is far more valuable to some than the extra money is. Despite the intangible benefits, people will still make financial sacrifices.
Finally, Lapham claims that in America, “a rich man is perceived as being necessarily good and wise.” In reality, however, Americans routinely question the ethics and intelligence of some of the country’s most wealthy individuals. Many people supported president-elect Donald Trump, assured that being able to run a business qualifies one to be able to run a country. Despite his wealth, the new president has been under fire for not releasing his tax returns and issuing a questionable executive order. Disenchanted with his sexist remarks, men and women around the world have been questioning his moral alignment. Public figures like J.K. Rowling have even spoken out against him. Trump is a prime example of a prosperous individual who many see as neither good nor was. Other celebrities such as the Kardashians have also been attacked for being handed wealth without contributing more to society than of a paid reality TV show. And, often times, some of the most intelligent innovators in science receive almost no recognition for their work. Most would not argue that all rich people are wise or vice versa.Although America is a majorly capitalistic and materialistic nation, not all of Lapham’s claims are true.