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Tal Fortgang, the Princeton freshman become famous overnight as the “Poster Child of White Privilege” because of his published screed defending his exalted socio-economic status as his natural right due to merit, has brought the issue of privilege vs. just rewards of individual merit once again forcibly into our consciousness, as he has been embraced by conservatives and vilified by liberals/persons of the left as exemplary on both sides of “That’s exactly what I’m talking about!”  Even down to Fortgang’s claim that his fortuity to be born of already socio-economically exalted ancestry was somehow even a special merit of his which he earned through hard work himself!  Never mind, of course, the recent talk at Princeton’s commencement by a Princeton graduate, Class of 2012, Michael Lewis, where he emphasized that success invariably has a strong element of luck and advantage about it, and that it is a duty of those who are become successful not to feel selfishly entitled to it, but to help others not so fortunate.  Lewis’s notable speech provoked an interview with him on PBS that was posted on the web-sharing site Upworthy:

Fortgang took special umbrage at those who’d admonish him to “Check his privilege,” certainly among them being his fellow Princeton classmates.  Which is sardonic in itself, as anyone able to attend Princeton in the first place came to be there because of privilege.  Princeton is not only an elite, hard-to-get-into school, it is also an expensive one, and unless one attends solely on the basis of full scholarship, well beyond the needs of most families of college-age children to afford.  Those at Princeton who admonished Fortgang to “Check his privilege” were able to do so because, same as Fortgang, they were the beneficiaries of socio-economic privilege themselves!

Which brings up another “ism” in the discussion of “privilege,” one that deserves equal status as a factor in determining “privilege” vs. “un-privilege” along with racism and sexism, but sadly, is missing from most discussions of “privilege”: classism.  We in the U.S. like to think of ourselves as a homogeneous “middle-class” society where sharp rifts and cleavages due to socio-economic factors such as one’s parents’ occupation and income didn’t consign one to a similar socio-economic status regardless of hard work or even being able to attend a state university.  We in the U.S. supposedly all have a chance to live the American Dream, and this is especially true if one is a white male—and now, due to the relaxation of barriers imposed formerly by race and gender, is increasingly true for African Americans, Hispanics, and women as well.  We can all be upwardly mobile, so the American Dream myth goes.  And by singling out for redress barriers still imposed by race and gender, we can make the American Dream even more of a reality for those of darker skin color and of female gender.  Never mind barriers still imposed by socio-economic class, because in the U.S. they hardly exist in the first place, and in any case, are definitely not insuperable.

Never mind that discrimination against persons on the basis of race, skin color, or gender almost always have a strong class component about them.  Never mind that such persons fighting the barriers of race and gender invariably find themselves up against the “invisible” barrier of class origins, and class status as a working adult, even one college-educated.  After all, anyone can now do it, once race and gender barriers are eliminated, or at least attenuated, for after all, the good ol’ U.S.A. always was, and still is, a classless society, not one with major socio-economic rifts and cleavages due to occupation and income (those nasty Marxist “relations to the means of production”!).

But the fact is, socio-economic class does matter, and matters very much, even where racial and/or gender discrimination is the supposedly causative factor.  It does indeed make a crucial difference whether one is born African American into a family that is already financially successful, or whether one is the daughter of parents already financially well-established.  And whether such families are able to afford the tuition at Princeton, or whether their children must attend a cheaper, less-renowned, college or university for their higher education.  And that certainly means it does matter whether one’s father is a factory laborer or a factory manager, and it does matter where one does graduate with that college diploma.  And that means it will indeed matter what one will be able to do with that education, and whether one will work at Wall Street or pound the streets looking for work on some Main Street in some middling city or town.  This is the class reality of the U.S. today, though we don’t like to even acknowledge it, much less own up to what it means: stagnant or downward mobility, massive income disparities and ever-increasing inequality, the pervasiveness of class structures and norms throughout our society, from the organization of work and its rewards through media images and the nature of schools and who gets to attend them—and was analyzed extensively in a very seminal book, The New Class Society, written by two able sociologists, Robert Perrucci of Purdue and Earl Wysong of Indiana University Kokomo, published in 1999 by academic publishers Rowman and Littlefield. But this important book was given little attention when published precisely because it was so penetrating, and its message so disturbing to the orthodoxy that we are all in an essentially classless “middle class” society.  An orthodoxy also called into question by a book that has become the surprising best-seller of 2014—Thomas Piektty’s Capital in the 21st Century.  

All this, of course, has a direct bearing on notions of “privilege” and “luck,” this latter bringing us right back to Michael Lewis’s interview on PBS where he recounted his luck, as he called it, at landing his first job after graduation as a Wall Street derivatives trader: he’d been invited to a dinner party where the woman who sat next to him was the wife of the head of a Wall Street investment bank!  A double luck of Lewis, for surely only a graduate of Princeton would be invited to that kind of dinner party in the first place.  Certainly I, a white college-educated male, and thus supposedly “privileged” beyond my own capabilities, would not be invited to such a party, what with my living not on the East Coast but in lowly Indianapolis, and having only attended Michigan State University and eventually graduating from Indiana University.  My “luck” would simply not be of such empyrean sort—because of the different sort of “privilege” I would have as a college-graduate male with an entirely different kind of class status and origin!

And though I’m a nationally-published writer and poet, especially in left and alternative publications where I’m among a very small number of writers who does not have a Ph.D. and is not connected to academia, I must relegate this side of me to mere hobby status and make my living as an unskilled laborer in Brain Drain Indiana because that is how I’m officially classified by Indiana’s WorkOne “state employment agency”—as an unskilled laborer with no relevant work experience because I haven’t spent years driving a forklift or have a CDL license, merely a university degree in economics!  And at present, I earn $9.50 an hour in a warehouse job through a temp agency—and ever since September 2001 have been able to find work only through temp agencies.  And yet I’m a supposedly “privileged white male college graduate;” but does what I’ve indicated above even remotely sound like real, palpable “privilege”?  And yet, I’m far from alone in being a white college grad so “privileged.”  For my lot is very much the same as several other white college grads I know—which makes all this traditional, non-class, abstract talk about “privilege” on the left and in liberal circles sound very much indeed like cant.

Which means “privilege” itself always has a strong class component, that classism is every bit as relevant as racism or sexism.  And yes, while there may be psychological components to any sense of “privilege,” “dis-privilege,” sense of entitlement or of discrimination, at bottom for any meaningful concept of privilege is the socio-economic, or class, status of the persons feeling so fortunate, meritorious, or aggrieved.  What on the left is aptly called the intersectionality of race, gender, and class.  And means that “privilege” and “dis-privilege” are class factors as much as they are psychological, racial, and gender ones; and indeed does mean that white maleness in and of itself does not automatically consign one to a pedestal of “privilege.”  That, by looking at class as a significant factor in determining and defining “privilege,” it does indeed mean that not all white males are equally “privileged.” Not by a long shot.  

Originally posted to GeorgeFishDisgruntledLeftist on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 02:20 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  from memory, it seems that the young man, (21+ / 0-)

    typical of many privileged freshmen, tended to mistake his family's success as his own.  Instead of displaying any empathy for those attempting to bootstrap themselves, instead he proudly pointed to his own family's struggles and successes as his own and where his grandfather would have probably have had some sort of empathy towards the downtrodden and disadvantaged, the young man tended to view his occupancy of the correct womb as some sort of accomplishment on his part, instead of the function of plain dumb luck.

    The true posterchild of privilege, GWB, proved this when he was rejected by University of Texas but, thanks to a few quick phonecalls by Poppy Bush to fellow alumnus, our future POTUS did not end his academic career at the HS level.  As GWB himself supposedly observed to a teacher who commented on his slackerism, all GWB had to do was to breathe in order to succeed.

    Not even breathe and walk at the same time or breathe and talk, just simply breathe.  Given the support given to W and to Neal as well by the Bush clan, I suspect even having to breathe is really optional as a source of their success.

    That is the accomplishment of the callow freshman; all he has to do is to breathe and not even do that well

    •   My students, who are almost all (10+ / 0-)

      low income and, depending on the class, 20-50% black or Hispanic, almost to a person believe that wealthy people should be allowed to pass their wealth, intact, on to their offspring. They think that an inheritance tax is unfair.
         They believe that wealth is the result of hard work and that rich kids deserve to be rich because "somebody worked for it."

      •  the truth of a death tax is that it is the ones (7+ / 0-)

        in the middle who get caught by it; those at the bottom have nothing to be taxed and those at the top can take full advantage of all the  loopholes

        •  The truth of that "the middle" is : (13+ / 0-)

          These are people whose residual estate totals more than 5.25 MILLION dollars ...

          And, the fact is ... wealth managers are delighted to take on a client with a "just" a five or six million  in assets  to minimize taxation in THIS life and maximize the inheritance of heirs when it is over.    (ONE million is the figure over which "private banks" and "wealth managers" solicit clients through NY Times magazine section full page ads, for example.)

          Modestly affluent people  (with a mere 5 or 10 million to protect) ...  but who TRUST their own children not to drain their brokerage accounts and  sell their homes out from under them --  can avoid Probate court  AND any possible  taxation with "joint tenancy of assets" ...

          It's the Kochs and the Waltons who need their own propaganda machines, lobbyists and wholly owned legislators to look after their inheritance rights ...

          I'm not weeping for THEM, Argentina !


        •  "death tax" is Republican messaging. It's an (5+ / 0-)

          estate tax. Only those with multimillion dollar estates are affected by it, and some minimal estate planning can largely avoid it.

          •  again, if you own a family farm outside a (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Victor Ward, thanatokephaloides

            municipal area, it may amaze you how little equipment and land it takes to hit 5.25M

            •  That's still not very many families impacted. n/t (0+ / 0-)

              Banana Republic: it's not just a clothing store.

              by northbronx on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 08:37:58 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I guess that argument could be made about (0+ / 0-)

                many different things.  However the difference arises when it is your family that is impacted by events.  Then, suddenly, it seems "not very many affected" is not such a small issue  

            •  Can you document a "family farm" (0+ / 0-)

              That has been affected by the estate tax? From what I have read, it hardly ever happens, because there are so many deductions.

              Women create the entire labor force.
              Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

              by splashy on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 07:57:45 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  we almost lost the farm when my grandfather died (0+ / 0-)

                Unfortunately, when he died, we owned land and equipment but like many capital intensive ventures, we lacked the capital to pay off the taxes in 1972.  We were fortunate enough to have sufficient timber to be able to cut the timber to pay the probate taxes.  However, longleaf sawstock is a once in 90 year windfall.

                There are other farms around (I own a couple now) where the family decided to sell rather than to try to pay the probate taxes themselves and split the residual after probate was satisfied

                •  That's not documentation (0+ / 0-)

                  I wish I could take you at your word, but, after all, it's the internet. Anyone can type anything.

                  Women create the entire labor force.
                  Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

                  by splashy on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 06:33:58 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  Percentage of Americans Who Grasp the Real (13+ / 0-)

        wealth curve in this economy is quite small.

        I think if we'd run that survey as late as maybe 40's before the 99% had ever been able to get anywhere, the results would've been quite different.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 05:52:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  That is because they only understand their own (20+ / 0-)

        reality and that of those around them.  They only understand trudging through menial tasks and fighting for scraps.  They only see people who earn their meager wages.  Their parents can't trade privileges because they don't have any.  The concept of having $100M in looted pensions funds squirreled away in a Caribbean bank account is so far beyond their experience it might as well include vampires in the tale.

        "Wrong, Do it again!" "If you don't learn to compete, you can't have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don't learn to compete?" "You! Yes, you occupying the bikesheds, stand still laddy!"

        by ban48 on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 05:58:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's either John Steinbeck (17+ / 0-)

        or Sinclair Lewis, I think, who said something to the effect that there was never a class war in the US because the poor never see themselves as poor, but as temporarily distressed millionaires.  Even these kids from disadvantaged backgrounds have bought into the myth that they can be a huge success, hence they don't want the government "taking their money," once they make it.  Not bad from an expectations point of view, but wishful thinking is not a basis for public policy.  It also ignores the real fact that wealth is becoming more and more concentrated and that apparently, human nature is such that most people who have a lot of money not only want to keep their own wealth, they want to make sure that no one else has any.  Apparently, being wealthy in and of itself is no reward unless it gains you the privilege of looking down on everyone else because you "worked hard" to get where you are (even if that "hard work" consisted solely of pushing yourself out of a rich womb) and everyone else is not rich because they are lazy and immoral.  It was what Mitt Romney said about the 47%.  Not only are they poor, no one can help them get un-poor, nor can they help themselves.  That's what the mega-rich think about the rest of us.  They are where they are purely by virtue of their moral superiority and the rest of humanity is where it is because of our moral inferiority.  And apparently that moral hierarchy is both genetic and not able to be overcome.

      •  Not really surprising or worrisome (4+ / 0-)

        Everybody wants to keep what they have, and they want to keep it in the family. There is something objectively foul-sounding about taxing inheritance. Most parents work for their children, to give them a good life and so on, so it's not surprising that there's a natural recoil to that being taken away. These kids aren't looking at this through the larger economic or political optic.

        •  Not surprising but worrisome (5+ / 0-)

          Believing the "Death Tax" is unfair is but one of many steps on the escalator to Tea Party fanaticism. As more and more platitudes and half-truths about society, taxation, government, and unions are absorbed, the entire notion of community becomes frayed and ultimately, destroyed.

          Obi Ben Ghazi to House Republicans: "Use the Farce."

          by edg on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 01:05:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Which community? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            How big can "community" be before people stop feeling engaged and supportive of others? When I was young, Americans spent millions in donations helping people in other countries. Now the rich have figured out how to get the middle class to pay for products to be used by people in other countries. It just doesn't feel the same.

            The main disagreement is that the left wants to distribute wealth among everyone. Wingers want to be more selective about who they help; some don't want to help others at all.

            Most of us are in the middle wanting to raise the standard of living for most people, especially those who are willing to work, but don't like being taken advantage of by those who refuse to contribute.

            We're not going to solve the problem of extreme disparity in wealth while we keep fighting among ourselves down here at the bottom.

            •  Sounds like we're in agreement. (3+ / 0-)

              We don't like being taken advantage of by those who refuse to contribute. Those like Mitt Romney, who pay a lower tax rate because of the carried interest loophole than a middle class worker earning the median wage. Those banksters who broke our national economy and continue to reward themselves with bonuses. Those 4 Walton heirs who have more wealth than the combined lower 40% of all Americans. Those corporations that use tax dodges to pay little or no income tax while reaping tremendous wealth from American consumers.

              We must use this agreement to reform our economy into one that raises the standard of living for all people. People of like mind are the start of a better world.

              Obi Ben Ghazi to House Republicans: "Use the Farce."

              by edg on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 10:20:34 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Good (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                blue muon

                I personally do want to raise the standard of living, but it's been clear for a long time that half the electorate consistently votes Republican, and it's not because they're all a bunch of anti-Obama racists.

                A sociopolitical analysis could elucidate basic economic disagreements between the right and the left that are rooted in this sharing/redistributing realm. I tend to believe most people want to help others, and many people get resentful about being forced to spend money on others who are 1. Very different from them, or 2. Cheaters.

                One thing's for sure: We're not going to ever stop corporate welfare unless we figure out a way to have sustainable social welfare programs. Intergenerational welfare systems are unacceptable.

                •  Welfare is time limited. (0+ / 0-)

                  A recipient can only collect welfare for 2 consecutive years and only for a maximum of 5 years in a lifetime. There is no such thing as intergenerational welfare systems for individuals, only for the wealthy and for corporations.

                  I'm glad we agree on so much.

                  Obi Ben Ghazi to House Republicans: "Use the Farce."

                  by edg on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 12:22:51 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  If those people are your students... (4+ / 0-)

        ...then your duty as a teacher is clear.

        Go forth and do good!

      •  It has been my experience that many of this (3+ / 0-)

        generation want a position, but they don't really seem to want to "work" even if they have a job.

        Dallas , I am coming to understand , from your observation and survey that these young people,though not from the privileged white class, seem to have embraced the values of the idle rich rather than those of the hard working lower and middle classes. This is a real problem.

        Regarding preparation for the job market, too often degrees are taken in fields for which there is little demand or for which an advanced degree is required in the competitive job market.

        Having said this, class is the high watermark by which success will be determined because  public policy is being controlled by the wealthy and it is being "rigged" in  favor of the wealthy, as both Elizabeth Warren and Thomas Piekkty have so eloquently documented.    

        Voting for those who share the concerns of all the -isms can  reverse  trending public policy.

        •  Can we stop the millennial bashing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Fiona West

          It is actually quite simple. Our standard of living will be lower than our parent's. Our jobs will be less secure, pay less in real terms, often be misclassified as interns or contractors and we will have no pension, and possibly no social security. We will few no pro-family benefits like subsidized child-care or the kind of generous  parental leave offered to our counterparts in Europe. We have no safety net.

          So the real question is: Why should we work hard when we have no social contract, have to borrow for a degree, low wages that don't meet cost-of-living, unstable jobs, minimal political power and little enforcement of even minimal legal labor protections?

          Baby boomers chose to work because they knew if they got an education it would be paid mostly by the state through college. Then if they worked hard, they would get a modest home, probably nicer than their parent's home. They had a stable job,  enforceable labor protections and/or a union. They had a pension and social security.

          •  ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Fiona West

            Basically we know that how hard we work is not going to relate positively to how much money and material we receive since labor compensation has been completely divorced from capital appreciation and cost-of-living (largely driven by corporate welfare and giant speculators making the market.

            On the contrary, working too hard will just make us miserable, hurt our health, deny us time with our family, and when we can't be overworked anymore, we will be tossed out on the unemployment line for 6 months until we exhaust those benefits and drop into poverty.

            Sadly, for millennials, the answer to our poverty is not going to be work harder, but we will need to conquer our political system and use the power of the state to get what we want.

            •  I see a lot of what you're talking about when I (0+ / 0-)

              look at young people in my family.  It makes me very sad.  It's so unnecessary!  This country's economy can support all of us in a decent level of comfort, if wealth were not so concentrated (and therefore political power too).  I see my nephews and nieces working really hard, yet just struggling along.  Especially, one who's a teacher is just being exploited by an underfunded education system that doesn't care a damn about a young teacher.  Many of the best are being driven out of teaching by the low wages, ever-increasing time demands, and on top of that often a gralling lack of respect.

              The last wave of boomers aren't doing all that well either; very few have pensions, and their savings have taken a lot of hits.  Many will be in rough situations when they can't keep working.

              I hope that many millennials understand as you do that it will take political action and political change to resolve the wrongs going on.  We need an alliance of the many groups that are being shafted by the current economic system to force it back to a more fairly distributed, person-respecting system, as well as one that can deal with the looming crisis of climate change.

              --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

              by Fiona West on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 11:59:22 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Yup. He went on and on about being denied his (15+ / 0-)

      accomplishments, but didn't list any accomplishments.  He was a college freshman after all, so graduating high school is about all he has, plus probably a few swim team and baseball trophies,.. you know, the stuff of legends.....

      "Wrong, Do it again!" "If you don't learn to compete, you can't have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don't learn to compete?" "You! Yes, you occupying the bikesheds, stand still laddy!"

      by ban48 on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 06:00:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Us white people are a lost cause. Oprah is right.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925, thanatokephaloides

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 03:53:20 AM PDT

  •  does anyone actually SAY 'check your privilege'? (8+ / 0-)

    it seems like that's a myth that floats around everywhere.  I know it's a phrase, but i've never heard it.

    It seems as if, in order to actually hear someone say 'check your privilege', you pretty much have to be kind of an asshole to begin with...

    •  I've heard it in real life a few times (9+ / 0-)

      The typical response is "go fuck yourself."  See it more often on discussion boards, or the far more popular "your privilege is showing."  Admit to using the latter one myself.  I don't think saying it makes you an asshole, but it does pretty free the other guy from assuming you're not.

    •  According to my sons (6+ / 0-)

      it is said on college campuses.

      I consider it a needlessly trite way to express genuine concern.

      "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

      by raptavio on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 09:14:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  College campus lingo to some extent (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Namazga III

      I've seen it as a trite response by those who are not interested in thinking too hard, but believe that by virtue of their status as some oppressed group, the individuality of others in the discussion is not as important as their group identity while desiring exactly the opposite treatment for themselves.

      The worst offenders are the human resource side of college administration like residential life. It comes up a lot in the kind of wacky seminars they make you go through in orientation and especially if you want to be a RA in a dorm. I think at one point my roommate came back from RA training and basically said:

      'My family is a bunch of poor laborers from southern MD and I just spent the last 4 hours being told how privileged I am by a lady with a master's degree from the Ivy League who gets paid a solid six figures from my tuition money which I had to borrow.  '

  •  Good news is you've got a computer (3+ / 0-)

    And learning new tricks is free.  Whine about how critical theory validates or ignores your predicament after you've done all you can to extricate yourself.

    •  Why assume people haven't? (10+ / 0-)

      That seems typical of the right. To make that assumption, and to also make the noxious and massively ignorant assumption that everyone has an equal chance to "make it" in America, or that anyone ever, ever "bootstraps themselves."

      They don't. By definition, if you have inequality, you can't possibly have equal opportunity. And no one pulls themselves up on their own in a modern society. We are far too interconnected, dependent on each other, there are far too many pivot points of assistance along the way, and no one can do without others -- especially if you own a business. To "make it" as a business owner, in fact, means you have utilized hundreds or thousands of people just in your own company, not to mention all of your customers, and all their interconnections, plus your supply chain, etc. etc. And then there is the public sector, with its infrastructure, R and D, courts, police, currency, treaties, bailouts and wars to protect your markets.

      No one is more "dependent" on others than a business owner.

      •  Labor is already socialized. (5+ / 0-)

        It's just the power (goods and resources) that are privatized.

        •  Yes. Capitalists "collectivize" labor. (11+ / 0-)

          And consumers. And public resources. And natural resources. Which is why it kills me when I hear righties talk about some supposed spectrum from "collectivization to individual liberty."

          Sorry, folks. But your beloved capitalism "collectivizes" like noboddy's bidness. It can't survive without collectivization.

          The key difference between Right and Left collectivism -- which is really how we should look at it, IMO -- the key difference is that left-collectivism is on behalf of the collective itself, whereas the right's version, with capitalism in command and control, collectivizes workers on behalf of ownership only.

          Only one of those two versions is logical, rational or humane.

          •  Exactly right. (5+ / 0-)

            The only "problem" (i.e., not a problem at all) is that a term like "collective" immediately conjures silly stereotypes like the Borg or "sacrificing the individual for the collective."  (sigh)

            •  In reality, it's just common sense. (7+ / 0-)

              Why on earth wouldn't we pool our resources and work together in a complex, interconnected world . . . one in which it's virtually impossible to survive on our own? And, why on earth would we do so to make one or two people rich, at our expense?

              Also, if we had true left-collectivism, and worked for each other rather than profit for a few, we could work far, far fewer hours. And in our leisure time could become who we really are.

              In a capitalist corporation or business, where is the individuality at work? We're cogs in a machine for our bosses, and in the vast majority of business settings, we leave our individuality at home.

              Or as consumers? Are we really demonstrating individuality by purchasing the same products millions of others purchase? And why do we purchase them? All too often because we've been herded that way through mass marketing.

              Individualism? Puleeeze.

              In a modern, complex society, the best way to make true individuality possible is by shrinking our work hours to radically increase our free time; guarantee free, high quality education from age 3 until we die; guarantee high quality health care for all, without ability to pay as any factor whatsoever; guarantee free access to cultural venues, museums, libraries, parks, etc. etc. to everyone.

              Real democracy, including the economy, basically. That gives us all the best chance to reach our fullest potential as individuals and together as a society.

              •  There are some people... (9+ / 0-)

                ...who don't care about having enough stuff. They want to have more stuff than you.

                They believe (rightly or wrongly) that being the person with the most stuff will bring them better social status, dates with more beautiful partners, and special advantages for their children.

                There will always be competition to be #1 and some of us will always play that game. We don't need to stop it from happening (we can't) we just need to tone it down so it doesn't destroy society and/or the planet.

                •  I think we need to stop it from happening. (5+ / 0-)

                  And, we can. We have the power to organize society in a logical, rational, humane way that benefits everyone, instead of those at the very top. And, again, why wouldn't we want to do this?

                  As for the idea that there will always be that competition. No, not really. We're socialized into believing this, and socialized into competing with one another. It's not hard-wired. In fact, we spent our first 250,000 years living communally, with no money, profits, private property, markets, etc. etc.

                  And we know from watching toddlers and kids that we're born with an equality bias, which means we want equal distribution of goods and get upset when that isn't the case.

                  This is beaten out of us over time because it serves capitalists to do so. We weren't born that way. At least most of us weren't.

                  •  100k years ago (0+ / 0-)

                    it was better to have four sticks of firewood than three.

                    I think it is hardwired.

                    I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

                    by CFAmick on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 07:58:22 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  And they made sure that everyone had those (6+ / 0-)

                      four sticks, rather than three.

                      Do the math.

                      If you have a group of ten, and you've managed to gather 100 sticks together, should one person out of that ten have 90 sticks? Or should the ten people who gathered the sticks have ten each?

                      Of course, in capitalism, the capitalist wouldn't go out gathering sticks with "the help." He'd kick back on his duff, and wait for his wage slaves to bring them back to him, and then he'd keep 91 and pass out one each for the gatherers, and because of decades of propaganda, they'd think that was fair and righteous.

                      In reality, there is no conflict between a high standard of living for everyone and sharing things equally. The conflict comes into play when we "redistribute" everything to the top of the pyramid for a tiny few to decide. When that happens, the standard of living plummets for the many and skyrockets for the few.

                      Fuck that.

                •  I've no statistics to back this up (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  but my gut suggests far more people care about having enough stuff not to worry about not having anything.  Not sure what the trend is once they get to that point, but for me it was relief.  

      •  I assume George gave a fairly complete (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        description of his experience, which apparently doesn't include programming.  

        It's almost pedantic to point out that participants in our economy are highly interdependent, at least on DK.  It's quite another to use that as an excuse to draw a false choice between a life of droll, unskilled, transient labor and making it big as an economist or a writer.

    •  Excellent resource. I regularly use Open Yale, (6+ / 0-)

      but this is a terrific resource.  My Husband got a BA in Philosophy in the 60's.  LOL Yeah, that turned out to be a useful career move.  He drove a bus and taxi after school.  Then, he signed up to be trained as an Air Traffic Controller, then Reagan fired him for going on strike.  So, he taught himself programming.  it took him 10 years to learn and break into the career, with unemployment and temp work along the way, but he's there, now.  

      This does not necessarily support the American Dream or argue against the existance of classism.  Bits of both exist as part of the complex cultural mess/ experience we are living in/ through.

      My hubbie would be the first to agree that his current success was more a matter of luck than effort -- those 10 years of studying every night for hours and perservering notwithstanding.  Why?  He knew he had the intelligence to learn anything he put his mind to, he had had the good fortune to learn how to learn from the Jesuit Brothers who taught at his HS seminary, and finally, he had a personal passion for content that just happened to be the growing thing in the world.  

      I'm going to pass this resource on to a number of people I know.  Thanks!

      Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

      by bkamr on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 09:40:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This sounds very much like the RW response (7+ / 0-)

      to anyone who points out the inequities in the status quo.

      Nothing human is alien to me.

      by WB Reeves on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 10:00:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I find that it sounds more like... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rduran, thanatokephaloides

        ...good advice.  In the current job market, the ability to program computers is the closest thing you can get to a guaranteed ticket to being well-off as you can get.

        Everyday Magic
        Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
        -- Clarke's Third Law

        by The Technomancer on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 11:40:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Programming computers is about as important (6+ / 0-)

          as typing used to be

          And about as valued.

          Most entry level computing jobs are not found in the USA, especially in IT.

          The most important skill in this job market is networking.  In most jobs, the most important skill sets is finding a way to make your team more effective, with whatever your talents/experience/training might bring to the table.

          •  The difference being... (3+ / 0-)

            ...that programming in itself (via contributions to popular open-source software, and the near-zero barrier to entry to releasing your own software thanks to digital distribution) is both a way to network and generate money without having to rely on employment by someone else.

            Most technical support positions are located overseas now, and those used to be the entry level into the tech industry.  Nowadays, rudimentary coding skills tend to be the entry level, but given the availability of free, quality options to learn the basics in a few languages, that's not all that much of an ask, given that most of those tech support people (which is where I got my start at the turn of the millennium) had also learned those basic troubleshooting skills on their own from tinkering with their own kit.

            What gives you the ability to make your team better in the tech industry is having the flexibility to do what the team needs without them having to ride your ass about it.  So while you are absolutely correct about that being the top skill set to have, having a wide variety of tools available to you as a software, systems, or DevOps engineer is gives you the ability to do what the team needs when they need it.

            Everyday Magic
            Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
            -- Clarke's Third Law

            by The Technomancer on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 12:52:48 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Are you under the impression that most people are (3+ / 0-)

              employed in this kind of environment? Do you expect that the majority of working people ever will be?

              Nothing human is alien to me.

              by WB Reeves on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 12:56:13 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  To answer your questions... (3+ / 0-)

                No, I'm not under the impression that most people are employed in tech or a tech-related industry, but I do expect information technology and health care (which is increasingly reliant on information technology) to be the vast plurality of middle class+ jobs moving forward, if not the do economists and forecasters from all schools of thought.

                I'm also not making the case, as your questions to me and your earlier comment to rduran imply (and please correct me if I'm wildly off the mark here, it's been known to happen), that I think that people who are not well off or are otherwise struggling in the current economy have themselves to blame for not "pulling themselves up by the bootstraps" -- they don't.  

                I've busted my ass to get where I am, but I'd be a liar if I tried to claim that luck/privilege hadn't played a large role, which is why I work to make greater equality of opportunity a reality.  My dad busted his ass too, and work injuries plus medical debt have him still working at 68 (I've offered to help him into retirement, he won't accept) to make ends meet.  One of the biggest issues facing our society is the fact that you used to be able to bust your ass and make it (or have your kids make it) to the middle class at the very least, and nowadays, we're so stratified and social mobility is so low that if you and the next two generations of your offspring all bust their ass and have great luck combined, your descendants might make it by generation four...and that doesn't even begin to address the privilege/lack-of-privilege problem this diary brings up.

                The possible solution that rduran offered and I expounded upon isn't for everyone.  It's not a cure-all for what ails American society.  But I took issue with, and still do take issue with, the attitude that you displayed that because someone offers a possible solution, that it's a right-wing talking point.

                Everyday Magic
                Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
                -- Clarke's Third Law

                by The Technomancer on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 01:22:24 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well you've gone far beyond anthing I said to you (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Laconic Lib, thanatokephaloides

                  so it's a given that you might be wildly off the mark.

                  It may well be that as you expect that information technology and health care is  

                  "to be the vast plurality of middle class+ jobs moving forward, if not the do economists and forecasters from all schools of thought."
                  but that ignores the substantive question. Will these technologies and industries be sufficient to support the sizeable and prosperous middle class of the past?

                  If the answer is no, then your advice amounts to little more than an encouragement to redoubled competition for a slice of an ever shrinking pie.

                  Such advice might actually work out for the diarist, though I wouldn't take odds on it, but it doesn't really address the macro economic and political issue or, as you yourself note, the actual subject of the diary.

                  Nothing human is alien to me.

                  by WB Reeves on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 02:09:24 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  I got nothing against any kind of self improvement (4+ / 0-)

              Programming's a useful skill.

              So's gardening, taking care of children, cooking or automobile repair.

              But assuming learning how to do any of these will lead to a good paying job isn't why you should learn it.  You should learn it because you're interested in it and perhaps have an aptitude for it, although the latter will tend to come if you love it enough to keep at it.

              What you do, is you get good at things and look for opportunities to use your skills.  The options for what you can get paid to do widen if you have various skills, but the reality is that there is pretty much no skill that some other dude doesn't also have, so if you also lack the ability to find a connection to somebody that wants to hire you, and not the other guy, you won't get to be paid for that skill.

              A degree from a prestigious institution is mostly valuable for the contacts you made while you were there, including the indirect benefits of sharing alumni status with somebody in a position to help you that has heard of you.  

              The skills you learn there will atrophy without use (I used to be able to do dozens of engineering problems involving calculus on no sleep and bad food every night, now I can remember very little of the details and have had to, for example, re-learn real statistics several times after not using it for years, but the skills that did transfer into my actual career such as setting up a problem, working on a team, troubleshooting etc I can do far better than my college age self)

              •  I have no disagreements... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                ...with any of that, and those are very astute observations.

                The reason why I bring up programming and information technology work in general is that the market for such work is at the point right now where I've landed my last three positions without having any contacts and from companies or recruiters reaching out to me.  The last job I applied for was Apple, and I landed the position without knowing anyone that worked there.

                Mind you, I'm good at what I do and have the resume to show for it, but I'm not some programming/IT deity.  Except for my current job, every one that I've taken I've met less than half the listed qualifications for.  I don't have a degree from anywhere -- just $35k in student debt before giving up on college, which was on a pre-law political science track anyway, so I don't have an alumni system to leverage for networking either.

                Eventually the labor number will catch up to the demand and this sector will start following the pattern you laid out, but that's decades down the road at this point because every industry needs IT professionals, and information technology companies and health care (which relies on IT more and more every year) are the two fastest growing sectors of the economy and are projected to be that way for a generation or more.

                I also know from being the person that's been looking to expand a team that while I'd like to get someone with a decade or more of experience and an impressive resume for a senior role, I'm more likely to get someone with some basic skills that seems like they can learn on the job.  The market is tight enough that on-the-job training is coming back in the tech industry, because there's just not enough experienced people to go around.

                Everyday Magic
                Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
                -- Clarke's Third Law

                by The Technomancer on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 01:34:05 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  My experience is the opposite (6+ / 0-)

                  But I've worked mostly with larger corporations.

                  IT is increasingly starved for US resources. We never get new hires in country, unless they happen to come up from inside the company and switch jobs.  100% of the new hires are in China, Malaysia, Singapore, India (and not brought into USA, paid low wages wherever they are) and about half the labor force is contractors of various stripes.  

                  I've been told it's better in smaller companies.  What you describe is more like what the industry was like when I started.

                  Quite frankly, I've found the fact that I've got no junior IT staff to train, mentor and learn new tricks from on site to be depressing.

                  Regardless though, it doesn't matter what the fastest growing sector of the economy is if you have no interest in it.  Making yourself learn a "marketable skill" that you dislike is a recipe for failure - even if you land a job, you'll hate it and likely do poorly in the long run.

                  For many people it would be as bad a fit as me in a sales job.

                  If what interests you requires higher education, you need to get the skills yes.  I trained as an engineer because I was interested in how things worked and knew I'd never get to do anything of significance in my areas of interest without getting the formal training.  That's even more true for a doctor or lawyer, but is far from universal in most careers.

                  In most jobs, a college degree means only that when relatively young you were able to finish something reasonably difficult.  That can matter at times, but it isn't the ticket to success we make it out to be.  It certainly never guaranteed a job in my lifetime (my mother finished her degree in a practical field when was a small child in the early 70s and never once got to use it directly.  My experiences with colleagues who graduated in the early 90s with varying degrees of education and training showed pretty much zero relationship between what they ended up doing and what they studied, except in fields where getting a degree at a certain level was a "union card", as in my friend working at a biotech firm whose specialty was mathematical physics.  He couldn't progress much past the gofer stage without going back and getting his PhD even though they liked his work.

                  •  Yeah... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    I can see that for some larger companies where IT is a cost center and not a revenue-generating portion of the business.  This is why I left financial IT -- a truly soul-sucking experience thanks to separation of duties and needing root to do one's job and being legally required to not be trusted with root access -- and working for larger companies where I felt like a cog and started working for smaller companies and startups.

                    When your company doesn't have a big name, the equity you're handing out being little more than a twinkle in the founder's eye, and you're building up something from the ground up, trained talent doesn't look your way unless they really geek out over whatever you're building.  I've gotten brought on to jobs because they hoped I could figure out what they needed me to do.  I've brought people on to do the same.  Of course I'd much rather have hired someone with a degree and years of experience -- a 55 hour week turns into a 65 hour week when you're training someone -- but I didn't have Google's budget or shares to hand out, so I got people who had gone out and contributed code to projects we used, or had done things somewhat like what we'd done, or had an impressive enough code portfolio to deal with the ramp up time it'd take them to learn the language we used.

                    Now that I'm not pulling 60s anymore, I enjoy having someone to train up and share knowledge with.  And frankly, at the end of the day, if I can't teach it to someone, that reflects far more on my mastery of the topic I'm trying to teach than the ability or aptitude of the person I'm teaching, in my opinion.

                    Everyday Magic
                    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
                    -- Clarke's Third Law

                    by The Technomancer on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 10:35:26 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Plumbers and electricians (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                worldlotus, AshesAllFallDown

                Hands get dirty, but they haven't got a business model yet to import temp labor from China to unstop the WC hours before the society xmas dinner.

      •  I imagine a RWer would (0+ / 0-)

        tell you to get a job regardless of any effort on your part.

        •  Exactly my point. (0+ / 0-)

          You've no idea how much effort the diarist may have expended.

          It doesn't stop the RWer and it didn't stop you.

          Nothing human is alien to me.

          by WB Reeves on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 12:53:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I read the diary (0+ / 0-)

            I proposed a course of action the author didn't mention when he constructed a false choice between his current, clearly unsatisfying job and the one he wants.  How have I failed to consider the author's circumstances?

          •  No, we don't know. (0+ / 0-)

            And I imagine that's why advice was offered.  The author may not have considered it.  And if a person is the sort of person to get offended when advice is offered in good (even if naive) faith...well, that sounds like a problem with that person, not a problem with the person offering advice and encouragement.

            Why would you assume that offering advice makes the assumption that the author's not trying hard enough?

            Everyday Magic
            Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
            -- Clarke's Third Law

            by The Technomancer on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 01:40:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Yep. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rduran, greengemini

      Or for direct skills training in coding, there's and  For systems administration, there's

      Still takes some luck to get yourself established, but putting in the hard work allows you take advantage of the lucky breaks when they come your way.

      Everyday Magic
      Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
      -- Clarke's Third Law

      by The Technomancer on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 11:36:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good digs (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Technomancer

        As for getting yourself established with no track record whatsoever, there's a multitude of paths: the monied credentialed one, the friends and family plan, or my personal favorite...the search, fork, and contribute gambit.

        •  Yeah. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Open-source projects are a great way to get resume-worthy experience.  Thanks to open-source frameworks and compilers, app stores, Steam, and other digital distribution platforms, the barrier to entry to releasing your own software project has never been lower, either.

          Everyday Magic
          Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
          -- Clarke's Third Law

          by The Technomancer on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 12:21:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Amen. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            The Technomancer

            Two projects in the works: yet another Bluetooth proximity screen locker and a video medical journal.  We've bootstrapped ourselves to high heaven and back.  I never truly felt in my gut that you could turn almost pure time into money, but I was mistaken.

            •  I'm working on a video game... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

     a side project with some friends, and writing some software that allows a systems admin to treat a cluster of computers as a single system (go go UnionFS, the only good thing to come out of Plan 9).

              Everyday Magic
              Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
              -- Clarke's Third Law

              by The Technomancer on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 12:30:51 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  and believing in yourself (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Technomancer, peregrine kate

        and having confidence
        Some people are born to abuse families which teach them very negative things about themselves. Others are privileged to be born to more loving or neutral families or at least get that support somewhere else as kids.

        •  Or being... (0+ / 0-)

          ....too stubborn to know when to quit.

          Everyday Magic
          Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
          -- Clarke's Third Law

          by The Technomancer on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 08:53:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  wouldn't help that much if you don't think (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            peregrine kate

            you deserve happiness, if that's what you learned in childhood. But yes, otherwise persistence is a great trait.And it can help in pursuit of healing, true.

            That temperament trait can be trying in raising a child, especially before they are rational thinkers. Psychologists say it is one of the 8 (iir the # correctly) inborn temperament traits they can see in even the youngest children (I've seen them in babies).

            One thing I should add about my original comment. Underprivileged people who go to Princeton etc may have crappy parents but I am pretty sure that most of them if not all had Someone who made them feel worthy, who believed in them. Studies have shown that even if an aunt, grandparent, teacher, coach-only one person is often needed-supports a kid for who he is, it can be enough.
            That is one reason why many close knit societies succeed in raising children who value themselves-if the parents are bad there are more adults around who very often interact with kids on a close level. In our society that is not encouraged generally. People are reticent to "butt in". I had aunts that we saw a few times a month and they treated me generically, they didn't act like they knew who I was.

    •  But "acquiring valid credentials" is NOT free (0+ / 0-)

      "New tricks" MAY impress the HR of certain select corporations and civil service bureaucracies ...  but they DO like their "recognized educational institutions", too.

      For-profit trade school  "graduates"  and online certificate holders are much less expensive than brand-name degree holders in Business and Management -- so enough of them will be hired at good enough compensation packages to give the alternative schools enough luster to attract new students, at least.

      On a more up beat note: some civil service union contracts specify which courses are accepted for promotion consideration--  (along with work-record,  seniority and competitive  examinations)  in-house testing, and seniority.  So learning new skills from a RECOGNIZED alternative source can be very much worth the time and expense ...

      DeVry "University" made it's (much-inflated) reputation teaching the Management and Accounting courses that civil service workers needed for promotion to executive paygrades.

      Or are  we imagining that there could/should/might  be free online courses teaching ... oh ... pipe fitting,  or diesel engine maintenance which anyone could access and which employers and unions would accept as (even)  entry-level credentialing?)

      However useful Awesomely Massive free online education products they may be in persuading an international labor brokerage to sponsor an H-1b visa applicant -- whether they cut much ice with HR departments  in THIS country, remains to be seen.  

      (Maybe  computer-innovative start up companies still hire "skills" without "credentials" )

      (Like "when"  the Charter Schools will start out-performing the public schools they are intended to replace.)

      •  May have been true ten years ago (0+ / 0-)

        Not now.

        Sure, there are still plenty of companies that require a bachelor's degree, but that's not the author's problem. Recruiters love recently exercised buzzwords even more than they love credentials, and hiring managers are going to defer to the techies when it comes to assessing actual skill.  You submit a resume that has one of the magic keywords, and a portfolio to prove your chops, you've got your foot in the door.

        Of course all this is moot if you don't even code.

        •  I think I mentioned (0+ / 0-)

          As  one possible exception to the rule ...

          Let's face it: with or without "buzzwords"  they can easily apply a "sink or swim" post-hire strategy:  either you can do the work and fit in with the team or you can't.   And the self-taught coder is likely to under-price herself to a degree that U-grads may not.

          But can you think of any OTHER professions and skilled trades that hire "off the street" AND "promote from within". ?

          I'm thinking "table waiting" ... "wedding photography" ... possibly Auto and Life Insurance sales ...  (but not Sales Management).

          And if there are sites that help you "lose your accent" for free ... well THAT would certainly be a whole lot better than nothing ...

          Indeed, there's one outfit that's giving preference to Drop Outs on the theory that they are unspoiled and more innovative than University

          •  Which is why I didn't suggest other professions (0+ / 0-)

            Although, I'd point out, getting a start out in programming can bring you into close, cross-pollinating orbit with a number of other fields.

            Regardless of how self-taught coders price themselves, they're likely to do so at substantially more than $9.50 an hour (well, the ones who aren't interning, anyway).  And interning or not, income curves up fairly quickly with experience.

            •  Sure "for now" ... but not everyone can be a coder (0+ / 0-)

              I don't mean "not everyone has the aptitude or interest to code" ... I mean, there comes a  point at which the market has become saturated with "good-enough" coders so that coding becomes as big a leg up to gainful employment as, say, typing.  Or using hand-tools.  

              During  the Vietnam era I could scrape by on "triple the minimum wage" because I could pass 50 words per minute typing test ON A MANUAL TYPEWRITER.

              Then, "everyone" got the new IBM's "Triple" dropped to 'double' ...  the minimum acceptable WPM went to 65+ -- and there was no shortage of freshfaced secretarial school graduates to fill the demand.

               I can remember when any  C+++ programmer could command  a comfortable  Middle Class salary (Say 50K/yr with benefits -- maybe $110K in today's money ?)  Today ?    

              Those who were able to keep their skills at least a step ahead of the new hires kept MOST of  their standard of living.  More joined ranks of  the long-term unemployed.

              Oh, it's grand to be young, hopeful, and cutting edge.

              But you DO have to run pretty hard even  to stay in the same place ...  and we do know "Silicon Valley" is pretty ruthless towards the Old and Overpriced.

              Now ... from a Randite point of view:  that's all as it should be.  Hard work and Promethean Spark are appropriately rewarded  (most of  the time, more or less) ... and (self evidently)  those not adequately rewarded, clearly lack work ethic and the Promethean Spark.

              Meanwhile Job Creators have ample access to cheap, useful, disposable high-skill labor on which to grow their enterprises.  And History does judge a civilization far more on the grandeur of it's palaces than for the

              And then there's the world outside "Silicon Valley".

              Will  Awsomely Massive Online Courses help the people THERE  all that much...

              Or ought there to be some thought given to public policy on post-High School trade  and professional education.

              (Even to the point of taking some of the the profit out of Student Loans and for-profit Trade Schools ?)

              •  No real argument with that (0+ / 0-)

                I'm not suggesting that programming is a perpetual money machine, or that programmers are immune to the same forces that impact any other form of labor that becomes increasingly accessible.  Or that the industry is particularly keen on seniority systems or friendly to aging workers.

                Still, my recollection of computer programmer salaries from 30 years ago is probably half that of yours (BLS seems to agree).  And for the time being, these jobs pay well and are more accessible to the un-credentialed than similarly lucrative professions.

                If you were to ask me, the long term viability of well-paying programming jobs lies in the skill set's matriculation to the general populace and the public's ability to create their own tools to serve their own purposes.  There are very few skilled activities with such a low barrier to entry for people who want to own their own stake.  That's just a gut feeling.

                Who said anything about awesomely massive online courses, or  competing free autodidactism with public education?  You've already got the former, and its existence doesn't threaten advocacy for the latter.  

  •  Hey, I see you got unblocked from the spam trap. (0+ / 0-)

    Welcome to Daily Kos.

    "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

    by raptavio on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 09:13:42 AM PDT

  •  The reality of privilege is extremely complicated, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    in the Trees, greengemini

    particularly in the US.

    It's far easier, from a subjective perspective, to recognize where one is denied privileges and advantages granted to others, than it is to recognize the advantages and privileges one possesses that are denied to others.

    Nothing human is alien to me.

    by WB Reeves on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 10:16:10 AM PDT

    •  I Think That Is Because... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WB Reeves, ManhattanMan, Laconic Lib

      There isn't a single definition of privilege.  It is easier to say "He/She has privilege" and you can change your definition each time you say it.

      •  To me the definition of privilege is fairly (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        concrete. A privilege is an advantage reserved for a select individual or group, rather than generally available on the basis of equity.

        It's easier to recognize when you aren't identified with the selected individual or group.

        Nothing human is alien to me.

        by WB Reeves on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 11:02:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  By Your Definition... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          WB Reeves, Laconic Lib

          If a woman or a black person has an advantage reserved for women or minorities, they have Privilege.  Do I understand you correctly?

          Based on that definition, everyone has Privilege in some instances.  Unfortunately for most people, their Privilege is not in the instances they want it.

          I graduated as a Forester in 1974.  The U.S. Forest Service was required by regulation to give 5 extra points to veterans, women, and minorities.  As a white male who by most people here would be deemed to have White Privilege, I had very little chance to be hired.  By your definition, veterans, women, and minorities had Privilege.  Right?

          •  Some privileges are earned and some are unearned (0+ / 0-)

            Veterans privileges are in the first category. I'm not certain that your other examples are so much privilege as the ending of an existing privilege. Since I'm not familiar with the point system you refer to, or the criteria for awarding the other, presumed, 95% of points, I can't really form an intelligent opinion.

            I am perplexed as to why a difference of 5 points would have given you "very little chance of being hired." How many aggregate points total are required? What's the criteria for the unaccounted points? What percentage of white males fail to exceed the 5 point margin sufficient to qualify for employment as compared to the like percentages in the named groups?

            The fundamental question regarding privilege of any kind is one of equity. Is it equitable to give Vets a preference over otherwise equally qualified non vets? Some would say yes, some would say no. That is a question of social/political policy that must be argue on it's specifics. The same holds true for the other categories you describe.

            However, this is very different from the subjective perception of privilege. White males might worry about being mugged and robbed, they don't as rule, worry about being stalked and raped. They might worry about getting a ticket at a traffic stop, they don't as a rule worry about being shot.

            Is it a privilege to only have to worry about the former two possibilities? Those who have to fear the latter possibilities on a daily basis might well say yes.  


            Nothing human is alien to me.

            by WB Reeves on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 12:47:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  True. I could see male privilege bright as day, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WB Reeves

      but it took me a much longer time to recognize my own white privilege.

      When a white person, a male, an able-bodied person, a cisgender straight person, enumerates difficulties they've had in life as proof they don't possess privilege, they have to be reminded that those struggles would have been a lot WORSE if not for their white skin/male gender/conventional sexuality/able-bodiedness/etc.

      “[Sir Arthur Conan Doyle] created Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson - which proves he was way ahead of his time on gay marriage.” - Bill Maher

      by gardnerhill on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 11:55:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Most believe that their privileges were EARNED (0+ / 0-)
  •  Why do poor southern whites (3+ / 0-)

    vote against their own best interests?

    Maybe because they perceive us as fighting for a particular race, gender, ideology? (None of which includes their socioeconomic class).

    All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry. --Edgar Allan Poe

    by gzodik on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 10:27:20 AM PDT

    •  300,000 white southerners fought for the north (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gzodik, Wednesday Bizzare

      during the civil war. There was widespread class antagonism among non-slave-owning southern whites toward the large plantation owners. See Bruce Levine's Fall of the House of Dixie.

      The frog jumped/ into the old pond/ plop! (Basho)

      by Wolf10 on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 10:34:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Confederacy relied on Conscription, too (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wolf10, linkage

        I once asked a newly minted Phd in History "why did Johnny Reb fight" and received the short form answer:

        " Mostly because was drafted."

        The enforcement of this conscription could be ad hoc and quite  brutal.  The social contract amounted to:  "Volunteer honorably so the slave patrolers won't lynch you and your comrades in arms won't despise you."

        However, those owning ten or more slaves though most likely to volunteer, were officially exempt from Army service, though they were  considered nominal  members of their State Militias.

        On August 8, 1861, the Confederacy called for 400,000 volunteers to serve for one or three years. By April 1862, the Confederacy passed a conscription act, which drafted men into PACS. The Confederate Congress' successive Conscription Acts broadened the ages of those subject to conscription and even swept in people who had already provided substitutes for service. Challenges to the subsequent acts came before five state supreme courts; all five upheld them.[11]
    •  I have a theory on this. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Hear me out.

      I'm a Christian. But if someone proposed a law enforcing Christianity as a privileged religion, I'd be against it. This is because my Liberal values tell me that Government is not an appropriate means of advancing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I would never use Government to proselytize.

      I imagine that many conservatives have similar reservations about using Government to advance their self interests. They see asking for medicaid or fair labor laws or environmental regulation as "cheating". They want to make it on their own, by their own bootstraps.

      Have you ever tried to help a friend who needed it? I bet that no matter what the situation, you practically had to beg them to accept your help. People are proud. Some people are really proud.

      In some cultures, if you are wronged, you don't ask for help or go running to authority. You are supposed to stand up and "fight your own battles" for yourself.

      Every election cycle we ask if they want help and tell that them we've got their back.

      And every election cycle, they say, "No sir, I got this". And they step up to the line and start swinging.

      The only thing is, now they are losing. The 1%, the corporations, and the Rich Whites have been handing them a four-decade-long ass-whuppin'. The next decade doesn't look like it's gonna be much fun either.

  •  Your insight can be summed up in 6 words (6+ / 0-)

    Trickle Down Economics Does Not Work.

    Seriously, the assumption that white males as a group derive any meaningful benefit from the dominance of white males among the 1% is an error of reification (treating an abstraction as a concrete entity) and is tantamount to the assumption that there are some demographic groups for whom trickle-down economics actually works. That doesn't mean that there are no advantages in our society to being white or male: if I walk down the street at night, I'm at reduced risk of rape by virtue of being male and reduced risk of being arrested on trumped-up charges (or shot at by vigilantes) by virtue of being white.

    In those cases I just described, our society would not be moving toward equality if it changed so that I had just as much risk of being raped as a woman would today, or just as much risk of being harmed as I would if I were black. A move toward equality would be bringing women and non-whites up to the status I enjoy.

    It's also pretty likely that if I were to commit a serious crime, the justice system would probably go somewhat easier on me than if I were black. In this case, society would not be moving in the direction of equality if it moved toward letting minorities get away with things that white people can get away with.

    These are really two different concepts, and I don't think lumping them together under the label "privilege" really helps us deal with the problems they cause. There's a difference between "less likely to be shit on" and "more likely to get undeserved benefits".

    Unfortunately when smart and educated people get crazy ideas they can come up with plausibly truthy arguments. -- Andrew F Cockburn

    by ebohlman on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 11:37:30 AM PDT

  •  The Stonecutter--a tale from Japan (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I remember reading this story when I was 6 or 7 years old.  It has hung with me all these many years.

    Stonecutter Folktale

    I've got enough food to eat, indoor plumbing, a roof that doesn't leak, walls that stay warm in winter and cool in summer, a wife who loves me and the internet.

    How much more do I need?

  •  There's something that keeps getting missed. (4+ / 0-)

    And that's prosperity doctrine.  It's embedded in America, built into the understructure of American preconception.  Having done away with privilege of birth, we can proudly point to the fact that we don't have any down-on-their-luck landed nobles able to raise their noses around the common man just because of an accident of birth.  But we haven't replaced it with anything more meaningful.  Now, instead, we worship money.  The social respect you are granted is directly associated with the number of dollars people think you have.  If you're poor, you're assumed to be a failure, as if money was the only thing really worth pusuing.

    Not to say that the social part of "socioeconomic status" isn't there.  Black people usually get treated worse.  Women usually get treated worse.  But it only really applies if you look different.  And even then, enough money overcomes everythng else.

    I make less than thirty a year.  I could use a little more money, sure.  But it ain't gonna happen without moving, spending a huge amount of time convincing people I have the skills I don't have a degree to represent, and then working a huge amount of hours into the bargain once I found a job.  On the other hand, I have a salaried job that gives me flexible hours, a huge amount of vacation time when I can take it, and I get to spend nights and weekends wth my kids.  I consider myself a success.  But I'm sure that even my immediate environment is full of people that see me living in a trailer driving a 20-year-old truck and just assume I'm a lazy good-for-nothing.

    "Actually, I just like saying Benghazi. Benghazi benghazi benghazi benghazi!" --Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA

    by jackdabastard on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 12:01:45 PM PDT

  •  Much has been written (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chrisculpepper, worldlotus

    about the ability to be upwardly mobile in modern day America.  Those who are already financially profitable have a head and shoulders advantage over someone of less-monetarily wealthy means of growing their bank accounts.  However, it is a false equivalence to say that "rich" people are those with huge bank accounts . . . or that "wealthy" people necessarily are morally superior to "poor" people.  

    "Rich," "wealthy," and "poor" are relative terms that have nothing to do with current economic standards as these ideas existed long before the standard usage of money in trade and barter.  There once was a time when "rich" meant that if you were able to give all your gifts and non-essential possessions away at a feast, you were very rich.  "Poor" referred to those people who hoarded goods and products from the rest of the community, even when that community needed those additional goods for basic survival. I digress . . .

    It is also startling to realize that "rich" people think themselves better for the mere fact that they have more money than other people.  Since when did money = superiority?

    Also, anyone remember the huge upset during WWII about the US turning away a boatload of (Jewish) orphans?  How's about the historical fact that White Americans (predominately WASPMs --White Anglo Saxon Protestant Males -- they also did not consider Catholics to be decent folk, either, but that is a discussion for another diary) did not acknowledge that Jews were also White until significantly AFTER WWII?

    So, this economically wealthy Jewish kid from Princeton talking about how much better he is than other people is rather amusing to me.  He is acting insecure and definitely not showing any self-confidence, but rather using gauche justifications to give meaning to his own existence.  He does not realize that he is morally less-than-wealthy and that he is trying too hard to proclaim his moral superiority based upon his father's checkbook.

  •  Sorry, but you've missed the point. (8+ / 0-)

    The diary conflates two distinct meanings of the word "privilege." As used in discussions of things like "white privilege," it does NOT mean that every white person lives a life of ease from an economic standpoint. What it means is that relative to those who are not white, white people enjoy advantages conferred exclusively by their skin color.

    Thus, a white guy born into a poor family will face challenges because of his family's poverty. A black guy born into a poor family will face all of the same challenges PLUS racism. Class status will burden both, but only the black guy will have to fight the additional burdens imposed by systemic racism.

    To claim that classism is the "real" problem is to ignore the huge role all of the "isms" play in American society. Barack Obama has been hugely successful in both political and economic terms, but he still gets called a n&%$#r. And it's much worse for black people who are less famous.

     I'm afraid the diarist has made the same error as Fortgang. He's confused about what the term he's discussing actually means in this context.

    "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

    by FogCityJohn on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 12:54:36 PM PDT

    •  Yep (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      What this diarist is missing, I think, is the concept of intersectionality.

      Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole. - Ta-Nehisi Coates

      by moviemeister76 on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 02:54:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Privilege is something to be humble about, but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    nothing to be ashamed of.  No one can denigrate ones accomplishments because you may have had a leg up.   It doesn't matter where you started.  It matters where you finish.  

    I was born into a large, poor white family, living in a black neighborhood.  Did I have a leg up, because I was white?  Sure, but being white, alone, did not make me successful.  Hard work and taking advantage of a good public schooll education (in a predominantly black school) were the primary reasons I have been successful.  

    I am well aware of how fortunate I was to be melanin challenged, but I don't really give a lot of thought to it, otherwise.  What am I missing [ducks]?

    Much madness is divinest sense, much sense divinest madness.

    by SpamNunn on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 01:08:31 PM PDT

  •  One hidden privilege seems to be (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SpamNunn, worldlotus, peregrine kate

    being born to loving and supportive parents who believe in you. Human beings cannot choose their parents. If parents teach you that you are a piece of shit, no one counters that message enough, and you believe it, it is doubtful no matter your inner gifts that you will attain nearly your potential. Because belief in one's worthiness begets confidence, which allows people to take risks. Belief in one's worthiness helps one make the supportive relationships all of one's life that one needs to be successful.

    It is a huge privilege. Few really grasp to what extent it helps them because it is hard for the average person to understand what it is like not to have what they do.

    People from underprivileged backgrounds who succeed-go to Princeton, say--very often I think, have this kind of privilege (along with the privilege of being born with certain abilities and temperament traits...which few look at as privilege).

  •  Thank you! (0+ / 0-)

    I've been saying this exact thing for over a decade now, having lived on much the same end of the stick as it seems you have.  I even made it the subject of one of my final projects in college, and my professor was actually surprised by the data I was able to pull in supporting my assertion that what seemed to be racism on the surface was actually classism pure and simple.

    Whenever it's a question between associating with your own class, or your own "kind," people who have that class privilege will favor it.  They might look down on somebody who's nouveau riche, or favor their own "kind" when it comes to a question of equal class and origin between members of different ethnic/gender/etc groups, but they'd almost always rather associate with a very wealthy individual who has nothing else in common with them than with somebody who's poor and otherwise fits their non-class related circumstances to a T.

  •  Aside: Upworthy sucks (0+ / 0-)

    so here's a direct link to the Michael Lewis interview without Upworthy's dumb clickbait headline.

  •  Working class and poor white men (0+ / 0-)

    are treated better then women and people of color with higher class status in America.  It permeates the culture to a point that  white cis males feel like it is just normal. That is the problem with this particular entitled puke. He won a rigged game. The fact that others won the same rigged game doesn't alter the underlying fact.

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