There are some very good reasons why I don’t read The Guardian – most of them linked to my blood pressure and stress levels. But recently, I came across an article that originated there, and was reprinted in another journal.
The writer was seriously putting forward the view that the Government should have the courage to increase the taxes on the rich because ~ wait for it ~ the ‘middle classes’ are being made to feel poor and inferior in comparison. That’s right, she wants the government to raise taxes on the rich so her mates won’t feel quite so jealous. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the politics of envy demonstrated so blatantly or clearly.
I really don’t know where to start with this, but I’m going to have to start somewhere, so here goes…
Let’s start with the ‘middle class’.
The writer, Jenni Russell, clearly considers herself to be middle class. How do I know? Because she calls herself Jenni rather than Jenny. That would be far too common. So I think we can assume she has a vested interest in all this.
It may be just me though, but I find the whole notion of describing yourself as ‘middle class’ abhorrent and outdated. To do so carries with it two unacceptable and unpleasant assumptions…
Firstly, that there is another class above you, to whom you are inferior for no other reason than an accident of birth. And secondly, that there is another class below you, to whom you are superior by virtue of the way you each earn your living.
To me, the idea that someone is of a higher or lower class by way of their parentage, schooling or occupation is outmoded and just plain wrong in the 21st century. If you MUST divide people by class in 2020, then do it in a relevant way…
1. The working class
Anyone who earns their own money, or is part of a family financed by someone earning their own money, is working class. The short-term unemployed would be included here, and people who can’t work through no fault of their own. It doesn’t matter what they do for a job, where they went to school, who their parents are or whether they use the word napkin or serviette, settee or sofa. If you finance your life through employment or a business, you’re part of the working class.
2. The non-working class
These are people who don’t work, but are self-supporting. Retirees would fall into this category ~ along with anyone else, not working, but not living off the state.
3. The Underclass
Scumbags to you and me. People who choose not to work. People who choose to live off the taxes paid by the working class.
Jenni Russell clearly doesn’t agree with me though. She obviously makes a differentiation based on HOW people earn their own money. And she says that the middle class (civil servants, academics and managers according to her) have a legitimate expectation of a comfortable life as a result of their social position. This expectation is being undermined by the fact that the new rich have more money, and make them feel relatively poor. They’re trying to play catch up, she says, and it’s personally damaging.
The solution? Let’s take some money off ‘the rich’ so that the middle classes don’t feel relatively poor.
It’s the same old Marxist garbage that used to be put forward as an argument for making the ‘working class’ less dissatisfied with their lot. But it’s just been upgraded because ~ horror of horrors ~ even Guardian journalists are starting to feel poor.
The truth of course, is that the ‘middle classes’ are no more entitled to expect a comfortable life (and to feel economically superior) than anyone else who works for their money. The needs of society are constantly changing, and those changing needs are reflected in the money paid to, and accumulated by, different occupational groups within that society. Just because what are described as ‘middle class’ jobs guaranteed a comfortable lifestyle in the last century, doesn’t mean they should guarantee the same in this one.
And it definitely doesn’t mean that the old order should be supported and shored up by state-backed confiscation of the money of members of society more valued by the current market – just to redress some old-fashioned baseless balance.
As for me, I consider myself to be completely immune from being pigeonholed into any manufactured social grouping…
People have been telling me I’ve got no class for years.
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