Class Mobility6 min read

I feel like there is a lot of focus on making everyone equal today. This isn’t a new thing, but the method of execution has changed. I want to touch briefly on the past, present, and why I think things are a mess. I then want to talk about a better way to understand class divisions.

In the period of around 100 years, the general thinking about creating a more equal society has hinged on communism and syndicalism. There are other methods that have been discussed, but these are the most popular in most of the reading I have done.

In the last few years, these topics have become more acceptable in some circles. Communism and syndicalism aren’t the topics I think are the most interesting though when looking at the politics of today.

Social Justice is the New Cool

To understand social justice through the lens of the economy, you have to understand a bit about communism and the writings that go along with it. Communism at its genesis focused a lot on the proletariat and the bourgeoisie as the main classes for the point of their discussion.

Social justice focuses on identity divisions as the catalyst for how groups should push for change in society. The focus is on whoever is the most disadvantaged in society having the greatest help from society.

Social justice completely ignores money as a class division and focuses entirely on intrinsic identity in most cases.

I honestly am not sure how raising up a whole collective group while ignoring all economic realities will resolve economic realities that are unfavorable.

Without going further into everything with social justice, I think looking at identity as the deciding factor on if someone should have societies pity will just be harmful for that person. How does pitying someone or listening to them help them in the context of their economic struggle?

Communism and the Real Divisions Between Classes

I think that communism doesn’t go far enough in its division of classes at the roots of its teachings. I understand that there are talks of these divisions and others have gone much further with this than I am about to, but this is a simple primer that I am basing on my understanding.
Below are the real class divisions:
  • Capitalist
    • Lives entirely off of proceeds from renting out capital
    • Entire income is based on what they have versus what they do
    • Can exert extreme pressure on politicians and under our system can cause immense harm
    • The capitalist is the .1% that is referred to today
  • Unique contributor
    • Paid huge sums for labor
    • May be in capitalist class but either has boundless wants or desires direct power
    • The unique contributor is the 1%
  • High-end Professional
    • Is collecting capital at a slow pace, plans on using it for retirement
    • If using money extravagantly, may lack and exit strategy or a way to retire
    • Is different than the 1%, but has a lot in common with them in many cases
  • Professional
    • Paid enough to not have to worry about surviving
    • Retirement or any kind of an exit strategy is difficult for this class of person
    • Squarely is the 99% but desires either getting to the 1% or knocking down the 1% a peg or two
  • Confusing gap which is 99% of the problem
  • Working class
    • Loss of employment may result in extreme hardship
    • Struggles to look past tomorrow due to difficulties that are inherent to this life
    • Just wants to get ahead and is obviously the 99% and doesn’t aspire to be the ultra rich
      • Some evidence says some of this group wants to see the 1% fail, but often times that is not the case
  • Exiles
    • Scrape by in various ways
      • Extremely low costs is one way to survive here
      • Illegal activity is another way to survive here
    • This is the group that people see as receiving welfare and committing crime
All of these classes get blended into each other in various models that are common today. I think these delineations of class are worthwhile to think about though, as each group behaves very differently and views things very differently.
I think one of our biggest problems is the gap between working class and professional. There is another gap between high end professional and unique contributor. How do you bridge those? I am not sure, but I am working on it.
There are many groups that see themselves outside this, but they are an extreme minority. I am not particularly interested in US senators whose money may relate them to a professional but their power is that of the highest end capitalist.

Class Mobility

Does having the same amount of money as someone in a different class make you a part of that class?
I would say no. You will still have the culture of that other class.
This part of culture is ingrained on you just as those who use identity politics will say that your identity is ingrained into you. The class you are born into, raised in, and the friends and family you have that are part of that class shape your identity.
I think that putting people into a situation where their culture changes can be very harmful to that person. It doesn’t change who they are and can make it difficult for them to relate to those who are from the same class.
Giving people money that they haven’t earned directly can have a similar impact on that person’s reality. There is evidence with lottery winners or other windfall recipients that it doesn’t change that person’s life for the better.
It’s probably not productive just giving someone money they have done nothing to earn.
How do we achieve class mobility then?
I think we are on the right track in many ways. I don’t expect someone to go from being a homeless person who has a middle school education to being a capitalist who controls a $100,000,000 portfolio in their lifetime. I do expect that it would be possible for that exile to become a working class person if they desired to try and had the faculties to try.
We need a better sub-system for people in all these classes to actually climb. I think being able to stay in the working class and then have a generation or two later move up to a professional career path is where we’ll do well. Having someone move up the working class like was more common before MBAs were in every part of management is a good way to start thinking about it. The promotion track for a working class person quickly hits a brick wall.
This same problem is seen as a professional. How do you become a unique contributor?
We have even further problems when you consider the question of if people who aren’t extremely intelligent should be able to climb these ladders. What about people who are extremely intelligent but not highly motivated?
So many questions that I don’t think there are clear answers to.
One thing that is easy to agree on is that lack of class mobility is a problem that is getting worse. And we need to start thinking about it.

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