Monday, January 02, 2006

Why middle-class Americans votes like rich people

David Brooks wrote in the New York Times ( Sunday January 12, 2003 -p.wk15) a piece about a weird question: Why middle-class Americans votes like rich people. Puzzling!

Top 1 %

The most interesting survey the author quoted goes like that: when asked, 1 people out of 5 (19%) say they are in the top 1% of richest people of America . And another 20% think that they will be there one day.

What's wrong?

As it appears, if you are good at math, 40% of the US citizen seems then to be in the top 1%. That is, when the Democrats proposes to fight the Republican's Estate Tax 40% feel directly attacked. 39% percent are wrong, however. But their vote are counted. On the wrong side.

The people vote according to his economic aspiration
So Americans do not vote according to their social class, according to Brooks, America being a culture of abundance, the people dreams about success being accessible, waiting for the ones motivated enough to reach it. Nobody is poor, says Brooks, everyone is "pre-rich".

The American media (magazine, tv, etc) portraits richest persons as the man next door. So when the Democrats want to take from riches to give the poors, then 40 % of the american felt they will be robbed by Democrats.

The differences in incomes is not an issue in America
To live with 125 000$ in Manhattan, surrounded by ostentatious and inaccessible richnesses, creates a feeling of perpetual lack. But the middle class elsewhere is not in this situation, notices Brooks, they aren't constantly solicited by Lexus dealers every corner, with these out-priced restaurants, and rich-only niche stores.

The middle class outside downtown NY can treat itself to all Wal-Mart. The restaurants of the corner are affordable. In their circle, it is even badly seen to parade itself with a Jaguar or to have its own personal cook, says Brooks. They are not confronted with a feeling of perpetual lack. They do not live this cruel feeling not to have what the other seems to have easilylike in Manhattan. Average American lives in normal cities like Nashville, adds Brooks.

The Americans admire the rich person
Brooks tells this story in Nashville: the richest family, Frists, is admired for her entrepreneurship and her contribution at the community. If they could, they would elect them to the Senate. And it is what they did.

As long as the rich person appears as "remain ordinary people", they are admired. What the middle class does not like are these journalists, these academicians or the cultural elite who look negatively at their culture, says Brooks. Bush Jr. can cut the taxes for the rich person and appear the following day in a suburb mall and eat a hamburger with ketchup. Barbara Streisand, who denounced these cuts, cannot say so. She's not "one of them"

Social classes, what social classes?
The most significant reason according to Brooks it is that the Americans do not see the social body like a pyramid with several floors, with the rich person on the top, the class-average in the middle and the working classes bellow. The Marx's classes is not a known concept.

No, american society, and Brooks gives here a beautiful metaphor, is an huge school's cafeteria where the communities sat each one with their table. Mine here, yours over there. Each community is convinced that to be the most pleasant to live in and the one over there, in Manhattan or L.A., with all its money, without friends nor time to themselves, makes a pity.

If there are no classes, there cannot be redistribution of the richness. 'Be rich or die trying..."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

the only thing that is a little Ifey is that so any people in the us would see them selfs a the upper class. every one in the US (or most people want to be in the middle)

2:19 PM  

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