Does America have a class system?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Blue Velvet, Jan 3, 2009.

  1. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

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    #1
    OK, so there are views about money or fame being the class system... but there are also internal distinctions between blue blood money of the East Coast and supposedly nouveau-riche arrivistes.

    I was thinking about this recently with all the recent hooha over Caroline Kennedy and the senate campaign. No question that a name and connections has opened doors for her...

    Then, today I saw people on this forum cracking jokes about Oklahoma... and then we often see the phrase 'trailer-trash'. Is the USA a classless society? Does the way you speak or who you were born to make life easier? Is that your experience? Is the word 'elitist' merely a form of class distinction?
     
  2. bobber205 macrumors 68020

    bobber205

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    #2
    Yes, though no one will ever speak about it in clear definite terms.
     
  3. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

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    #3
    The USA absolutely has a class system

    The south has no use for the carpet bagging Yankees
    The north has no use for the southern rednecks

    Georgia makes Alabama jokes
    Alabama makes Mississippi jokes

    Florida is full of snowbirds
    California is surfer dudes
    Texas has an ego the size of the state

    Trailer trash? Absolutely
    Blue bloods? Yep... blue hairs too

    We are an equal opportunity country with plenty of "class"

    Woof, Woof - Dawg [​IMG]
     
  4. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

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    #4

    Because to do so would mean abandoning paying lip-service to a core tenet?

     
  5. itcheroni macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    I don't see classes the way I've seen them abroad. I feel like anyone can be considered elitist, or something along that line, regardless of their heritage. It's more a combination of wealth and education.

    A friend of mine told me of something he saw in a market in India. A rich (he could tell by dress) untouchable was arguing with a poor person who obviously wasn't an untouchable. The rich guy gave the poor guy a shove with one hand. This caused an uproar and everyone who saw grabbed the rich guy and they, together, chopped off his hand. Now that's a culture with a strong class system.
     
  6. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

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    #6
    You don't think ethnicity is also involved?
     
  7. Aea macrumors 6502a

    Aea

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    #7
    I think it's very safe to say that America ha Classes, but not a "Class System" in the traditional sense.

    There are definite social classes, but they have no advantage in an open society except for their wealth. Wealth is really the only marker that brings social privilege. Of course there is heredity acquisition of wealth, allowing people to be born into a higher economic class, but I don't believe they are treated better then other people.

    I don't think that the Kennedy's are a good counter-example, they are a powerful family (which can exist in any culture), but if an obscure member of the Kennedy's tried to run for a political office I doubt it would be an advantage. Whereas in a country with a strong class system it would be a major advantage.

    I think in our capitalist society the only thing that dictates your social class is your wealth, and there is absolutely nothing stopping a dedicated individual from rising to a high social class even if they were born in a lower social class. I think the only reason we see perpetuation of high economic class families is because they are strongly dedicated to it, forcing their children to get educated.

    When I was four my family immigrated to the United States at the very bottom rung of the social ladder, and fifteen years later we're doing very well for ourselves, and I'd say we're probably in the top 10-15% based on household income. I think it's a matter of drive, we had no rich friends or relatives to help push us, and no education that made a difference in the US.

    So whenever I hear about liberals crying their hearts out about how the poor have no chance or crying of social class conspiracies I can't help but to roll my eyes. Yes, they might be disadvantages, but class stagnancy in my opinion is more due to learned helplessness then anything else. If you were born in the US, your parents were born in the US, you and they had a US education, knew the language, and you've gotten nowhere, it's probably your lack of drive.
     
  8. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

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    #8
    In other words, the poor in the USA deserve their lot?
     
  9. Aea macrumors 6502a

    Aea

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    #9
    Not saying that, Humanistically I really don't think anybody deserves to live in poverty (or around it), but I don't believe that we as a society can really do much to help them either.

    I think it's well accepted that first generations will probably be poor (typically because the majority of immigrants come from very low income countries to forge a better life, and being poor in America is vastly superior to being poor in many other nations). But I think every individual regardless of race, wealth, and gender has the chance to advance up the socioeconomic ladder bar some large catastrophe. Not taking up the opportunity their fault.
     
  10. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #10
    Of course. The poor are poor because they are immoral, lazy and unintelligent. Of course they deserve it. :rolleyes:
     
  11. zap2 macrumors 604

    zap2

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    #11
    :rolleyes:


    Yes, why are they so lazy!!!


    Can't afford to go to college, work harder!
    You high school couldn't afford books or computers? Your fault
    Can't afford to take summer class to get ahead in classes(take extra math or science) To bad!!!
     
  12. Aea macrumors 6502a

    Aea

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    #12
    Of all those the only one I mentioned is laziness, and not in that context. :rolleyes:

    Let's debate this as intelligent participants, and not follow the level of "debate" one could find on the O'reilly Factor.
     
  13. zap2 macrumors 604

    zap2

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    #13

    Alright, please explain how not being able to afford college because your family needs you to work(resulting in you staying in your social class) is that person's fault?

    (That is of course one example, there are tons more)
     
  14. donga macrumors 6502a

    donga

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    #14
    i think anyone is naive to think everyone is born on an even playing field. some people have so much more to overcome than others just to get to the same point.

    sometimes people in the lower classes have tried to work the system, but realized it is just so against them that there is no point but to "learn helplessness". it breeds bitterness and contempt
     
  15. Aea macrumors 6502a

    Aea

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    #15
    1) College is remarkably affordable if one goes to a state school and in nearly every state that cost will be below the financing limits of Federal Loans (which are remarkably easy to get). Many colleges even offer nighttime classes and work study programs so you can earn enough money to live of (and I know many people who go through this path), paying their way through College & Living Expenses (with the help of loans) and getting a degree. Not an excuse.

    2) You assume that the majority of poor people live in poor areas where there is no access to good schools. I don't believe this to be the case, nearly every city and town has a population of poor people, in good school districts. I don't think computers are a requirement for learning but they definitely play a major role.

    3) I never, and I don't know any people who had to take "summer classes" or "summer programs" to get ahead, and I attended one of the better School Districts in the nation. '


    I have also volunteered in teaching both High School & Elementary School students in what you could call a poorer neighborhood in Denver. In comparing to where I went to school a large portion of the students (mostly High School) had no desire what-so-ever to learn, half the class was spent working with the teacher to get them to pay attention and stop being disruptive and maybe learn a thing or two. Of course there were a handful of students, many which choose to stay afterwards that actually did well and probably will be making it to college.

    I call it learned helplessness, maybe somebody could enlighten me as to it's relation in the vicious cycle.
     
  16. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

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    #16
    Perhaps 'helplessness' sounds unnecessarily pejorative... and I get where you're coming from because it also has equivalence in all sorts of areas of social sciences: gender and women's studies, for instance.
     
  17. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

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    #17
    Often overlooked but equally important to the concept of upward mobility is the freedom to fail.

    Spoiled trust fund kids being allowed to wipe out the family fortune is critical to ensuring the required churn in the nation's wealth.
     
  18. decksnap macrumors 68040

    decksnap

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    #18
    I don't think it's a 'system.' You got your rich and your poor, and it's obviously easier for rich people to leverage their wealth for their childrens' benefit, and just as easy for a poor child to end up like their parents. It's not rocket science. It happens everywhere.
     
  19. Prof. macrumors 601

    Prof.

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    #19
    I don't know what monetary amount goes in each category but...

    Upper Class
    - Upper Upper Class
    - Middle Upper Class
    - Lower Upper Class

    Middle Class
    - Upper Middle Class
    - Middle Middle Class
    - Lower Middle Class

    Lower Class
    - Upper Lower Class
    - Middle Lower Class
    - Lower Lower Class

    Poor
    - Homeless
     
  20. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

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    #20
    A class system? In a country where a Sarah Palin can rise to a position of influence? :D:eek:

    The way one speaks being an indicator of class? Every oil millionaire in Texas sounds just the way middle class & poor Texans sound......our soon to be former president Bush is a fine example.

    Sure we have social classes, but not so much a class system in the sense that you are born into a class which fixes your place in society for life no matter what you do.
     
  21. Aea macrumors 6502a

    Aea

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    #21
  22. FrankieTDouglas macrumors 65816

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    While getting my BA in psychology, I remember roughly discussing this topic. It was mentioned how on average, children grow up to live in the same social and economical range as they family they grew up in. There are exceptions, sure. But more often than not, that's how it ends up. You become what you were raised to be.
     
  23. Peterkro macrumors 68020

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    #23
    Quote from 2006 study:
    "By international standards, the United States has an unusually low level of intergenerational mobility: our parents’ income is highly predictive of our incomes as adults. Intergenerational mobility in the United States is lower than in France, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Norway and Denmark. Among high-income countries for which comparable estimates are available, only the United Kingdom had a lower rate of mobility than the United States."

    http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2006/04/b1579981.html
     
  24. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

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    #24
    He makes a good example. He's not a Texan, for starters. And the opportunities that came his way, including the ability to screw up yet be forgiven, to rise to a position of influence was surely due to his father's name?
     
  25. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

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    #25
    Even more importantly his grandfathers.
     

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