The Fruits of Civilization (53) Societal Impact

Societal Impact

Inequality has a lot of subtle and pernicious effects on societies. ~ American evolutionary anthropologist Tim Kohler

The rich getting richer has had little effect on those who can only dream of not working until the day they die. It is those who expect to retire by retirement age that are most rankled by the excesses of the 1%.

One of the things wealth gives you is safety and security. As labor markets become more insecure, and as public safety nets become more porous, the role of private safety nets – wealth – becomes even more pronounced. ~ Fabian Pfeffer

The Upper Middle Class

I’ve been told ever since a boy that’s what one ought to be: a part of the UMC. I’ll pretend to be liberal, but I’ll still support the GOP, as part of the UMC. ~ American singer/songwriter Bob Seger in the song “UMC” (1974) (The GOP is the “Grand Old Party”: the American reactionary, pro-corporate Republican party.)

In the 21st century, the incomes of the American upper middle class, excluding the top tier, have not grown much. The income premium earned by those with a top university degree has plateaued.

This economic stagnation has invigorated the patrimonial upper middle class (UMC) to maintain their social position by resisting any roll back in political and economic privileges. Many of the mechanisms by which the protected class defends itself fuel a sense of precarity.

The value added of an Ivy League degree relative to a high-quality public university may be small, but desperate UMC families may feel the need to shell out for the more-expensive option. Political candidates that pledge to retain the privileges of the middle class – of which the top layer receive the sweetest slice – must be paid for.

High house prices in prosperous neighborhoods shut out those outside the protected class, and simultaneously add to the pressure to stay on the rich side of the divide. For those in the American upper middle class, these are the trenches of class warfare.

The United States is more calcified by class than Britain, especially toward the top. ~ British-American economist Richard Reeves

The protections erected by the upper middle class aim to raise, or at least maintain, the share of income captured by them, at the cost of a smaller share for those below. For those in the UMC, minimum wages are not an issue: it’s maximum wages that worry them. Those in the upper middle class want to hoard the American dream.

As America has become more and more unequal, affluent parents have become desperate to pass on their privileges to their children and avoid downward mobility at all costs. ~ American sociologist Jerome Karabel