Monday, June 28, 2004

Classism and Materialism

A relatively random thought for Friday. A couple days ago, a friend remarked to me that, despite his upper-middle class income, his 'sympathies' truly lie with the 'working class.' I let the remark pass, but thought immediately to myself, "Why do you insist on viewing people as members of groups arranged according to peoples' socioeconomic status?" This led me to think, "Would your sympathies no longer be with a person if he or she adopted a new career path, was promoted, or otherwise did something that increased his or her income, thereby lifting him or her out of the so-called 'working class'? Does your care for a person terminate when they help themselves out of a financially difficult situation?" This then led me to think, "Why do you base your 'sympathies' on a person's material wealth at all? Is a wealthy person truly any happier than a poor person? Is concern for the economic well-being of the poor such a noble thing? Shouldn't we be happier that a person is poor yet living a virtuous life than if they were rich and yet living a life of vice and excess?" Of course, my friend, like many left-wingers, fixates on the mundane and worldly, the material, presuming that the goal of government is to build the 'perfect' city here on earth, while those of us who are both a bit more practical and bit more interested in the transcedent know that such a goal is the ultimate folly.

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