Aug 012011
 

 
Here we go again; somebody’s starting a class war.  Not at all.  I just want to point out how the sides in the class war are overdue for a shuffle.

 

The first concept everyone needs to understand and that the left forgets (or fails to acknowledge) is:  There is nothing wrong with being rich.  Everyone wants to be rich, and it doesn’t make you an evil, greedy bastard.  Being rich means you have achieved economic security.  We all want to have enough money to pay for all of life’s necessities and a reasonable amount of wants.  To have that amount of money and not have to work is the most common goal.  It is the apex of the American dream. 

 

Whenever they moan about “class warfare,” the right taps into this sentiment to get the support of the working class:  “They want to stop you from ever becoming rich.  They want to take your money and rich people’s money and give it to people who don’t want to work hard to earn it.  You should vote to protect rich people, because that might be you someday.”  They are manipulating people by tapping into their dream of becoming rich, and they are successful based in part on the outdated class structure.

 

The ubiquitous class structure (lower, middle, upper) is losing its usefulness (especially considering the incredible shrinking middle class) as a tool to explain our economic differences and conflicts.  I suggest we try these class categories:  Dependent, Working, Rich, Crazy Rich.

 

The Dependent class consists of people who are unable to or should not be expected to work to support themselves.  The Dependent class includes children, the incarcerated, the severely disabled, and the frailest of the elderly. 

 

The Working class is obviously those of us who have to work for a living.  If someone in the Working class loses their job it is a catastrophic event in their lives.  The Working class is the largest class, encompassing those working (sometimes more than one job) to earn enough just to get by, to those with a large enough income to afford a comfortable lifestyle, yet not enough to retire immediately.

 

The Rich are, again, those with enough money to pay for all of life’s necessities and all of their reasonable wants.  The Rich may choose to work, but have enough economic security that they may retire whenever they want. 

 

The Crazy Rich is the new category.  To fit in this category you need a certain amount of wealth and a certain attitude.  “Crazy” is commonly used as a slang term, meaning extreme or outrageous.  The Crazy Rich are extremely rich by a higher order of magnitude.  Here you will find multi-millionaires and billionaires. 

 

You also need a certain personal perspective to fit this category.  “Crazy Rich” also adopts a bit of the more common definition of “crazy.”  At this height of wealth, to pursue more and more and more despite having economic security thousands of times over indicates some psychological issue.  I think it is similar to other forms of hoarding, like an old lady keeping 80 cats in her two bedroom house.  I can see the TV special now:  “Extreme Hoarders:  Scrooge McDuck Edition.”

 

Some people don’t fit neatly into these categories, and it may cause a hiccup in class struggle resolutions.  For example, the retired. 

 

Now, the typical retiree — well, they are not expected to work, but they don’t seem to fit the dependent class unless they are living on forms of government assistance alone.  They are certainly not Crazy Rich.  The typical retiree is certainly not rich, having just enough savings and income to take care of their necessities, yet short of affording everything they could reasonably want.  They probably fit best with the Working class, since that is where most of them spent the greater part of their lives.  Their retirement income probably comes from what they earned as members of the Working class.  Really they are being paid in the present for work they accomplished years in the past, and the income itself is not what we would think of as enough to make you rich.  Although they don’t have to work, retirees fall short of the Rich category because of their current limited wealth.

 

The extremely wealthy could fit into either of the last two categories depending upon their personal responses to their good fortune.  For instance, Bill Gates does not appear to have a sick attachement to increasing his wealth.  A few months ago, I heard a radio interview with Steve Forbes promoting the release of this year’s Forbes 400.  The billionaire noted that Bill Gates was the second richest person in the world, but Forbes lamented Gates would be number one if he didn’t give away so much money.  It was amazing to hear the absolutely sincere sadness in his tone as he related this fact. 

 

Now, some might say that splitting the upper class is an absurd concept.  I think the left and right are both mistaken in frequently conflating all rich people.  Here the English language and our aversion to mathematics fails us.  Millionaires and billionaires are constantly lumped together; it sure does sound like there is little difference between the two.  The words “million” and “billion” both have 7 letters. They are alomst identical words: only 1 of 7 letters is different.  Linguistically, they are only 14.3 % different.

 

A billion sounds like it is only 14% bigger than a million.  Can you guess what the real percentage difference is between a million a billion? 

Is it 50% more?   Guess again. 

Is it 100% more?   Nope.  

It can’t be 1,000%?   Not even close. 

One billion is 100,000% bigger than 1 million.  The word sounds 14 percent bigger but the difference is in fact 100,000 percent. 

 

Mathematically, one billion is 1,000,000,000; and one million is 1,000,000.  A billion is equal to a thousand millions.  1 billion = 1,000 millions.

 

To put it in another perspective, look below and you’ll see two squares.  The square on the right has 1,000 times as many pixels as the one on the left.

Million v. Billion 

So it is finally clear that the average billionaire is outrageously more rich than the average millionaire.  Now professional sports salaries seem more plausible, where billionaires can hire and be considered “owners” of a team full of millionaires.  We seldom consider the magnitude of difference between millionaires and billionaires.

 

The implication for the economic class analysis is that millionaires are much, much, much closer to the working class than they are to billionaires.  This will be a key fact of any significant progress in ameliorating the current class conflict.

 

In future posts, I intend to share further insights derived from this class structure system.  I’m sure you’re all looking forward to my explanation of how the “Crazy Rich,” with their deranged perspectives, yield a hugely disproportionate amount of power in our society, and how their hoarding of money has had a detrimental impact on our economy.  I’ll also relate my high hopes (and doubts) for the “Rich” and the shifting of their stereotypical allegiance from the “Crazy Rich” to the “Working” class.

 

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