Generational Wealth

Aug 17 2016 Published by under General Politics

In the midst of the Milwaukee unrest this week, a young man on the scene was interviewed (Orlandis Jackson, interviewed by local NBC affiliate). He said something along the lines of how "the rich people have all the money and won't give us none."

This immediately went viral on the Tweeters as unsympathetic voices howled over his seeming entitlement. 

This bothers me.

This young man may not understand the full scope of wealth disparity. He may not realize the causes. And/or he may not have the rhetorical skills to express his understanding fully. 

But he was right

In a deeply fundamental way. The "rich" of this country got that way, and stay that way, by stealing from the poor. The problem of inner city unrest is not that we (and for today the "rich" are the moderately well off, that includes most of my audience. Yes, you.) won't "give" other people money. It is that we build our wealth at their expense.

I twittered a link to a study showing black communities paid more per dollar of insurance coverage, despite lower company loss rates, compared with nearly identical white communities. 

The aftermath of Ferguson MO unrest illustrated very clearly how  municipalities have shifted to nuisance summons as a way to make up for the powers that be refusing to tax themselves. Guess who gets the tickets?

And even in a general sense, tax schemes have become increasingly regressive. Taxes and fees on consumption replace progressive income / wealth taxes. Wages for labor are  taxed more highly than is investment income. Etc. All designed to shift the burden of society away from the rich. 

Our DonorsChoose drives show how we (the rich) refuse to pay to educate all and have shrunk school funding in poor communities. Education isn't everything but it does help some people to escape the poverty they were born into. 

Which brings us to redlining (still a thing) and neighborhood unspoken compacts and other things that prevent black people from buying homes in slightly better neighborhoods. Interesting comment here:

Sharkey’s research shows that black families making $100,000 typically live in the kinds of neighborhoods inhabited by white families making $30,000.

Real estate ownership is a huge wealth tool. Huge. Increasing property value becomes a financial cushion if nothing else. Reduces housing costs overall, with good use of the mortgage income tax deduction. Permits one to obtain loans (or at more favorable rates) for other wealth enhancing purposes. Such as higher education. Launching sonny-boy's hi tech startup company. 

And from there we can drill right back down to Costco shopping. It's cheaper to be rich. We buy in bulk and store the stuff in our big houses. Toilet paper, extra milk in our second fridge, tampons and toothpaste. All cheaper when you are wealthy. 

So stop sneering at the young man in Milwaukee. He may have phrased it inelegantly. But he was speaking a fundamental truth. 

[interlude]

Getting back around to the generational part of this post. Redlining was the policy of the Federal Housing Administration from 1934-1968. Federal policy. From the administrative entity that was supposed to help Americans afford to buy homes. Some Americans, apparently, but not other Americans. See Josh Begley maps here for a few key cities in our largest State. This discrimination is just for the availability of mortgages.

There is also the kind of discrimination that prevented minorities from purchasing houses in certain neighborhoods even if they had all of it in immediate cash money.

As far as I am aware, minorities did not enjoy special tax exemptions to account for their treatment at the hands of the FHA. Meaning, correspondingly, the FHA discriminatory redlining activity was transferring wealth from minority citizens to white citizens. The lack of fair opportunity to build wealth, particularly when that opportunity is buttressed by taxes, is stealing from Peter to pay Paul (the families that were able to use such opportunities).

Note that if you are unable to buy a house, the odds are that you are paying rent to the person who owns the property. Who is enjoying the leverage of you paying down the loan while their property values (wealth) inflate over time. This is yet another way in which wealth is transferred from the less well off to the more well off. Home ownership rates in Milwaukee are lower than in the state of Wisconsin as a whole. Home ownership rates for black Americans lag those of white Americans.

The wealth of property ownership in particular locations can be transferred generationally in many ways. First, it may confer indirect benefits in school quality, peer associations and vocational connections. Second, there is direct inheritance of the wealth later in life. There are a few people in my neighborhood who inherited houses. Given the amount we pay for our mortgage, well, that's a substantial jump ahead for the standard model American Dream family, let me tell you.

In between we have the transfer of the ability to purchase a first house. When my wife and I were looking to buy our first house we ran across a stat that some 30% of first time buyers had some sort of family assistance. (I can't find anything on that right now so if you have links, drop them in the comments.) Loans for downpayments and co-signing (with later relinquishment of ownership rights) for the loan are common. Helping to fix the new purchasers' credit. Etc.

A subtle effect is timing. Real estate markets cycle, as you know. And mortgage rates can vary tremendously, which affects affordability. As it happens, my now-spouse and I were looking to co-habitate during a fortuitous set of real estate conditions. Despite one of us being a postdoc and one a graduate student in a fairly pricey real-estate market, the conditions were ripe. We'd be paying about the same for a mortgage that we were facing for rent. The only issues were the usual. Credit? decent. Debt to income, decent. Income to price....hmmmm, not great but those were the bubble days so...maybe. This left the downpayment. We didn't have it. And wouldn't have been able to save it for years (which, as it happened, would have been well into the peak of the housing bubble. And we'd still be short of the now-increased amount.). Generational wealth to the rescue.

It isn't only the cash, it's also about when that cash is available to you. Whether that be for housing, for emergency loans for something now that will save you money longer term, paying for education...the scenarios go on and on.

Our generational wealth stretches back several generations in our family. Home ownership, decent jobs and relatives who moved up in economic class relative to their upbringing, in many cases through education. All of my kids' four grandparents ended up as educators, three of them for career length. Three have advanced degrees. They started when education careers meant a decent stable job with benefits and pensions. Some of their parents were educated, some not, but all were eventually middle class. Two of them were raised by single mothers (who were born over 100 y ago so think of that generation!), one of which had a sibling have to go to work to support the family instead of furthering education. So right there within family, generational privilege available more to one than the other. And I don't mean to imply it was ever easy. But they were all able to take advantage of an environment in which there was not systematic discrimination against them. (Possible ethnic discrimination of three generations upstream due to an immigrant wave but that had subsided certainly by my parents' generation.)

This post isn't designed to recommend Harrison Bergeron solutions or to criticize those of you with immense generational privilege and wealth. It isn't to beat my breast about how lucky I had it.

This post is about thinking a little deeper about why a young man in Milwaukee might complain that the rich never give the poor any money. And what that really means beneath the words.

And, y'know, maybe for those of you who habitually think that you never had any special privileges so why should anyone else...maybe you could think about your generational advantages?

43 responses so far

  • bacillus says:

    Hear! hear! I grew up in the dockland slums of Liverpool where class rather than race was the barrier to betterment. I was fortunate enough to have been born and to grow up during the brief window of progressiveness that occurred in the UK before Thatcher came along and stopped it stone dead. We didn't know about the opportunities we were missing, but our elementary school teachers did, and they went out of their way to advertise their existence to our parents. Consequently, I and several friends eneded up at an exclusive private school on free scholarships. Talk about cuture shock, I'd have felt less out of place at a Martian school. I was constantly ridiculed about my accent. On my first day, My English teacher told me not to fret, as I'd be freed from this curse by the time I left their school. Subsequent to highschool, I went to university out of town all expenses paid by the government (though university entrance was limited to the people who scored within the "top" 6% in national exams). I've been a scientist for the past 35 years, and I've lived like a king compared to my grandparents (I just read "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" and it near brought me to tears). I just don't see this magnitude of upward mobility happening again in my lifetime. In fact I expect it to degenerate all the way back to the good old days for many. Of course, the politicians have played the old divide and conquer card expertly again for your upcoming election. The poor whites voting for Trump have way more in common with the poor blacks who voted for Obama (and hopefully for Hillary) than they will ever have with the 1% or even 10%. However, the poor and downtrodden have been conditioned into voting against their own own self interests for as long as they've been emancipated. They are today's "Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" but with far fewer opportunities for escape than existed for me 50 years ago.

  • SidVic says:

    Cosco? parking fines? I thought this was about the unprovoked extrajudicial killing of blacks.

    They were pulling whites (that includes most of my audience. Yes, you.) from cars and stomping them. Get that white bitch... beat his head in etc..

    "Phrased it inelegantly" is this a new euphemism for sounds dumber that hell?

  • Jaws says:

    <SARCASM> Perhaps a better-funded and -prioritized public education system just might have enabled that speaker to phrase his complaint more elegantly. </SARCASM>

  • drugmonkey says:

    I thought this was about the unprovoked extrajudicial killing of blacks.

    that's not what my post is about, no.

  • becca says:

    Lo, the young man speaks truth.

    I agree with much of what you've written here. There is a LOT of generational wealth I've inherited. Much of it in a way that is not simple, and more at the diluted than people whose parents pay for a downpayment or higher education or help them start a business or get a job, but still substantial.

    That said, one of the things I have have a hard time seeing quite the same way you do is this mindset of real estate as a tool for wealth accumulation. In part because I live in a part of the country where if you are black (or, to a much lesser degree, Hispanic), home ownership has, at least of late, been a pretty raw deal. Fundamentally, houses depreciate. Not as badly as cars, but they depreciate. *Land*, however, can appreciate. However that depends entirely on complex societal factors about which land is valuable (yes, yes, I know. California people often think there's something *natural* and not *socially constructed* about beach-front property, but they need to come visit Gary, Indiana's lovely Lake Michigan shore).
    In a sense, I think it's analogous to what we've seen with college debt. When access to college was available essentially only to whites, debt was minimal and a tool for financial success. Now that access has expanded, debt has also expanded and is often (e.g. via for-profit institutions) a tool of oppression only slightly more morally defensible than pay day lenders. It requires a re-writing of the cultural narrative to decrease the value placed on college though. For the value placed on housing ("property values") it is almost tautologically true that if black people own it, it's less valuable.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Countrywide, and historically it is true that real estate is a wealth builder. Your point about depressed areas more or less reinforces my comment here to the effect that restrictions on where certain people can buy are harmful, just like the inability to get a mortgage at all is also harmful. I am not suggesting that just *any* real estate is an automatic great deal. This changes in place and time (per my anecdote about my first house purchase).

  • Jonathan Badger says:

    While I agree with the basic principle that income inequality is a thing and leads to violence (as in the French and Russian revolutions in the extreme case), the assumption that most of us that identify as "middle class" have parents like yours that would have the ability to give us down payments for houses is frankly insane. That's not "middle class". Yes, my own parents have some money saved up. And assuming they don't have major medical issues that would eat through it all, I might inherit some money some day. But in the meantime they need that money to, you know, *live*.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Here we go again with the fact that, what, 60% or more of Americans describe themselves as "middle class" and insist anyone a tiny bit ahead of them isn't. While the people a tiny bit behind them say the same thing.

    Is this really a useful contribution under the circumstances, JB? I mean if even becca could restrain herself from TrueMiddleClass one upsmanship here, surely you can as well?

    If you stand to inherit someday and haven't had to support your own parents with a shit job since age 18......

    And really, that "some money saved up" is a bit of a tell. You are clearly making assumptions about the kind of cash I'm referring to. It may not be a very accurate assumption since I didn't get into detail. Not to mention, we're discussing the principle of helping out offspring across this wonderful country....real estate costs vary.

  • Jonathan Badger says:

    Yes, "middle class" is a huge range and real estate varies in affordability by area (I live in the land of $600K townhouses smaller than my apartment so I still rent). I think what is more of a universal "generational wealth" in the middle class isn't literal economic wealth but cultural. Growing up with books in the house and the assumption that going to university was something that almost certainly would happen was a real advantage.

  • drugmonkey says:

    I think there are many aspects of generational transmission of advantages. And I'm hoping people think about those privileges rather than try to lawyer how no, they didn't personally experience any one particular advantage.

  • Microscientist says:

    Very interesting that the link you give above lists the base for "middle class" to be $30k per year. This means that some science grad students in wealthy areas like Boston make "middle class" stipends.

  • drugmonkey says:

    And you disagree with this?

  • Microscientist says:

    Not necessarily. But I think it illustrates the difference between the statistical middle class, and the middle class that many think of aspiring to. The reality is that most people really aspire to be upper middle class, since $30k is now considered the baseline for that grungy grad school life.

  • Grumble says:

    Maybe it's not that grungy. I have students taking nicer vacations than I do, paying off old loans, and drinking really nice microbrews on weeknights. I have post-docs having kids and making it work quite well, albeit not luxuriously (no one has a nanny). And we're in a very expensive part of the country.

  • The Other Dave says:

    It's not so much that we don't give him any money. It's more that we keep taking his money. Like you said: We own the property he rents, collect interest on the loans he takes out, own the stores that he needs to buy stuff from, and control the politicians that make the laws that protect our assets.

    But hey, fuck him. It's not my fault he was born poor. Why should I pay for his misfortune?

    Oh, yea, I forgot... desperation and revolution.

    In other words... all socialism is just enough socialism to insure against revolution.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Decency. That is why.

  • jmz4 says:

    @grumble
    "Maybe it's not that grungy. I have students taking nicer vacations than I do, paying off old loans, and drinking really nice microbrews on weeknights. I have post-docs having kids and making it work quite well, albeit not luxuriously (no one has a nanny)."

    Their parents are giving them money. I went to a private boarding school, a private elite, east coast University, and still, the greatest concentration of rich, white people I've met were (American born) grad students and postdocs. It doesn't come up openly too much, but if you pay attention to the tells and offhand comments, you'll see it. Its also supposedly being included in some of the ongoing surveys of grad students/pds.

    To the post's original point. The engines of socioeconomic mobility in this country have worked precisely once, from 1940 something through the early 80s. After that, they worked globally. The rate of extreme poverty in the world at large has fallen dramatically, and our middle class (the 90%, basically anyone without substantial access to the stock market) has stayed level. This has, unfortunately, correlated with the increased enfranchisement of minorities, which means they received jack shitte.
    The question is how to re-engineer the system to create a similar space for the minority community to flourish. It is obvious the kinds of jobs that grew the white middle class are not coming back, and the increased competition of a global market means even privileged members of our society are vulnerable (see any number of H1B or international outsourcing sob stories).

  • @jmz4
    Really? My parents didn't give me money in grad school, and I still went on vacations, drank good beer, etc. in a fairly expensive city. It is much easier to do all that on less income if you: have no dependents (common for grad students, especially when they start out), expect a larger salary in the future (and therefore don't save much), don't pay as much tax on your income due to student status (and thus take home more of it than a new Asst Prof), and are used to living like a student. I had more disposable income as a grad student than as an undergrad, so it felt like a good amount of money. Now it would be harder for me to go back to the sorts of trade-offs that let me have a relatively high entertainment budget in grad school after having a real salary for a while.

    On the original post: upward class mobility has been decreasing in the US for years. In this respect, the US has fallen behind other developed nations. It is only recently that people's perception of this has started to match reality.

    Years ago, I saw a blog post from a woman who grew up middle class, and led a middle class life until becoming disabled. She commented that regardless of what happens in her apartment with respect to books, education, and career goal discussions, her son is growing up surrounded by unemployed teens and adults who have no expectations of finding long term jobs. His friends have no expectation of going to college, or even graduating high school in some cases. His school is underfunded and overcrowded. she didn't know how to restore the advantages she had and lost. The post really brought home to me the advantages of living in a "good" neighborhood beyond nice housing and personal safety.

  • jmz4 says:

    "don't pay as much tax on your income due to student status (and thus take home more of it than a new Asst Prof)"
    -What? How much are students paid at ProdigalU (or how little are Asst Prof's)?

    "Really? My parents didn't give me money in grad school, and I still went on vacations, drank good beer, etc. in a fairly expensive city."
    -There's "fairly expensive" and then there's the ludicrously expensive environs of Boston and San Francisco (one of which I am in). There's also the fact that rents have outpaced wage growth and costs of living in many cities have risen dramatically in the 8 years since the housing bubble burst. When your rents are 200-300/mo higher, you lose a lot of the frills pretty quickly.
    Of the American postdocs I know, most have a sig. other that provides their commodious lifestyle, or their parents outright bought their current dwelling. Those that have neither are generally set on a straight two year trajectory to industry.

    Which, to tie it back to DM's point about generational wealth, is a prime reason pampered white boys and girls like me keep getting all the faculty jobs. I imagine, if you grew up poor and marginalized, the long(er for you without daddy's connections), hard(er for you without mom's checks), slog to academia does not seem as appealing as many of the other more lucrative options available for those smart enough to handle the science.

  • Grumble says:

    "Their parents are giving them money."

    I can tell you for a fact that this is not true for at least one of my students. And I very much doubt that it is true to any significant degree for the rest.

    That's not to say that none of these students benefited from generational wealth of the kind DM describes. Most (but not all) of them did, as did I. My point is just that right now, at our college, stipend + college-provided housing = a very reasonable living wage.

  • drugmonkey says:

    from 1940 something through the early 80s.

    Top marginal tax rate says what?

  • Eli Rabett says:

    An interesting driver of political discussion is the disappearance of the "working class". When Eli was a young bunny, if you had a salary you were "middle class", if you had a wage you were "working class". This built solidarity (in the same boat) amongst the wage earners which covered the broad range from the poor to the factory workers to the skilled crafts.

    When the unions succeeded in pushing up wages during the 50s and 60s this fractured the solidarity.

  • Eli Rabett says:

    Eli teaches at an HBCU. Especially amongst students (grad and undergrad) who come from less well off to poor families, the driver is to get a well paying job after graduation to support themselves and help their families. It is a real thing.l

  • drugmonkey says:

    Eli- what about closed-shop unions which excluded certain wage earners and prioritized the children of the union members?

  • Eli Rabett says:

    They still thought about themselves as "working class". Eli knows, a lot of them were/are family. Particularly true of first/second generation immigrants, e.g. Irish, Italian, Polish, Jewish, etc.

    As to prioritizing family for union membership, a lot of people have family names like Smith, Farmer, etc. so that is not particularly surprising. Where they lost it was not expanding opportunity to others. In shrinking industries (longshoring for example) that was again, not very surprising.

  • becca says:

    I think that Obviously everyone (i.e. of any race) should be able to get a mortgage wherever they want. My hesitation is primarily about what kinds of policies can actually address the massive generational wealth discrepancies. I am not hopeful mortgages are part of the solution.

    With both student loans and mortgages, most of the discussion I've seen has focused on a "personal responsibility" morality tale about debt load, and classifying debt as "sensible" or "foolish" based on that. I'd like to get beyond analyzing things on the individual level e.g."it is hideously unjust some people haven't been able to access Good Debt (TM)".
    At the societal level, debt is a sharp tool for helping the advantaged become wealthier and the disadvantaged become poorer. The problem isn't *merely* that poor black people get payday loans and rich white people get mortgage interest tax deductions. The problem is that larger numbers of black people getting mortgages in a particular area results in those houses property values tanking, not because the houses aren't just as nice as houses other people bought, but because we live with endemic white supremacy.

  • Drunk Eskimo says:

    My financial and racial privileges are what I fell back upon after fucking up my postdoc.

  • JC says:

    I've increasingly become of the mindset that graduated quotas, phased in over a few decades, is the only truly fair response. How detailed they should be is debatable, e.g., do we impose them for all college students, all grad students, all mortgage borrowers, etc.

    The inequities in the system that have accumulated over time have resulted in barriers that are all but insurmountable for most minorities and otherwise disadvantaged groups. Furthermore, these barriers are practically omnipresent, having pervaded almost every part of our society. We cannot selectively extract them all.

    Sure, it is likely that not ALL of the differences in statistics between groups is a result of socioeconomic inequities. But before anyone goes to blame certain aspects of minority cultures (which seems like an obvious rejoinder), realize that they didn't develop in a vacuum.

    Maybe this is too heavy handed? But it seems like every other approach will take centuries to course-correct.

  • drugmonkey says:

    JC-
    Absolutely it is a full court press against the poor. They are disadvantaged in many, many ways. So it seems to me that the first principle is to address unfairness that has been identified (like mortgages, becca) as an obvious first step. Then go on to the next one.

    And the next....etc.

    Trying to figure out "true causes" and "the best solution" is an excuse for continued inaction.

    I really, really don't like Ta'Nihisi Coates' reparations rhetoric but he's using it to draw attention to this same issue- ongoing wealth extraction on all fronts.

  • JC says:

    My worry about reparations is that, while probably justified, (1) could never be enough to actually fix everything and then (2) would give an excuse to people forever after that they don't have to do ANYTHING to help minorities.

  • The Other Dave says:

    "I think that Obviously everyone (i.e. of any race) should be able to get a mortgage wherever they want. "

    A lot of people used to say this before 2007. Now, only the people with no/very short memories say it.

    Your homework, becca: Watch 'The Big Short'.

  • Jmz4 says:

    Kinda missed what was in the parentheses, TOD.

  • SidVic says:

    Who here would personally loan loan a mortgage to the man in question? DM - i am very impressed that you threw in the Bergeron reference, but the movie is better: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FrZQavx0N8

    I bought into the ownership society bipartison push. It lead to the mortagage crisis.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Your paternalism about the mortgage crisis/housing bubbles is fascinating, people. And SidVic, also interesting that when I say we should stop established discriminatory practices you seem to assume I am suggesting all justifiable risk assessment goes out the window.

  • Jmz4 says:

    @sidvic
    The only way to justify the rights and privileges we grant banks is to view them as civic institutions that have an expansive set of responsibilities beyond their bottom line. Like hospitals, universities or say, prisons (although hopefully that last one will not be a private institution much longer in the US).

  • becca says:

    Always pay attention to the statements in parentheses.

    The housing crisis dinged white wealth an average of 16%, black wealth 50%. Do I want blacks to be able to move into white areas? Yes. Do I suffer from the delusion you can fix racial wealth inequality without converting the mortgage deduction to a refundable credit for a primary residence on the first 300k (the 90% of mortgage holders), mandating funding of education spending to be adequate and proportional to high needs kids, alloting coveted school district slots by lottery and/or banning local property taxes. and basically entirely disrupting the whole system of housing wealth we have? Nopeitynopenopenope.

  • drugmonkey says:

    See what I mean? The people just barely ahead of what you can envision are the problem to becca. Anything less than fucking with the people we can *see*, just in front of us, is doomed to fail so why are we discussing it, right? Falling right square into the oligarch's trap, yet again. Divide and conquer so that nobody comes after the real wealth and the long term systematic transfer system.

  • Jmz4 says:

    @DM
    http://www.vox.com/2016/8/23/12615860/graduate-student-unions-nlrb-columbia

    Interesting article at Vox about how letting grad students at private Us unionize may increase overall support and membership in unions. I'm a little skeptical, but it at lease with considering.
    I think the decline of unions due to the transfer of much of the workforce to white collar jobs is a key driver for the stagnant wages underlying the income inequality we see today.

    Also, side note, the DoL is really sticking it to PIs these days. Wonder if Tom Perez was a PD ever?

  • drugmonkey says:

    work populations that turn over every 4-6 years are never good places to strengthen unions.

  • becca says:

    It's not about targeting anyone, it's about what good policy might actually look like. Preventing modern de facto redlining is necessary yet insufficient.

    Addressing the oligarchs (Fred Trump type rent seekers) is necessary. They are the biggest source of the wealth inequality problem. So what policies do we institute there? 100% inheritance tax on estates above X million? Max compensation guidelines like are catching on in Europe? Opening the banking industry to more lawsuits re: effective redlining is a fine start, but there are a lot of other reforms we'd need.

    In any event, the oligarchs are not the ONLY source of wealth inequality problems.
    Middle and upper class educated classes whose wealth (i.e. housing value/school district access) is derived directly from collective racism cannot buy off their guilt with some token donations to Donor's Choose. I've become increasingly convinced we can't address poverty without addressing schools, and we can't address schools without addressing the location centered arbitrary funding. I am sympathetic to arguments that some interventions are so heavy handed as to undermine the investment of this class in actually helping education.

    "work populations that turn over every 4-6 years are never good places to strengthen unions."
    In terms of broadening the appeal of unions, perhaps not. But the players unions for pro sports seem to matter a good deal for some of the talented-but-not-superstars.

  • jmz4 says:

    "work populations that turn over every 4-6 years are never good places to strengthen unions."
    -The point of the article that sounded feasible was that you're exposing a whole new class of people to the benefits of unionization, and they'll be more apt to sympathize with, tolerate, or join unions in their future.

    "They are the biggest source of the wealth inequality problem."
    -Do you think that wealth inequality itself is a problem? Or just the stagnant wages of the middle/lower classes? There are situations and eras in history where the two were not inextricably linked.

  • drugmonkey says:

    becca,
    Addressing the oligarchs (Fred Trump type rent seekers) is necessary. They are the biggest source of the wealth inequality problem.
    and
    converting the mortgage deduction to a refundable credit for a primary residence on the first 300k (the 90% of mortgage holders)

    is what I am talking about. There is a YUGE difference between the $400K mortgage holder and the Trumps of the world, IMO. There is also a difference between a family that is lucky enough to own a rental property or two and one that develops TrumpTowers. Again, IMO. Apparently not in yours.

    I want more Americans to have mortgages and enjoy the tax deduction and maybe even become small scale landlords for those who can't afford to own, now and again. This is within the middle class (upper part, to be sure) to me. Just like small business owners are, IMO. I want this privilege geographically and demographically distributed more widely. At the expense of the fabulously well-to-do. Not at the expense of those who happen to be just a tiny bit better off than my family is. At the expense of the genuine oligarchs who have so much ability to reshape public policy to their own benefit and to extract wealth from vast swaths of the rest of the country.

    the oligarchs are not the ONLY source of wealth inequality problems.
    Middle and upper class educated classes whose wealth (i.e. housing value/school district access) is derived directly from collective racism cannot buy off their guilt with some token donations to Donor's Choose.

    Again with the petty envy and the falling for the oligarchy's favorite ploy which is "pit the lowerlings against each other so that they don't unite and come after the real problem". These upper middle educated folks are the people you see. These are the people you can imagine taking down a peg or two with policy changes that you imagine might just barely be within scope of what you can accomplish (go Bernie!). So you imagine if you tilt at these evil upper middle bourgeoisie you are purer in your problem solving.

    And it isn't just you. This is the sickness that pervades our entire polity and is a huge part of the reason the oligarchy continues to get away with their bullshit. Divide and conquer. Make Winston turn on Julia. Watch 'em fight over scraps.

Leave a Reply