America Has Become A Three-Caste, Medieval Economy
The larger income inequality becomes, the more contentious our discourse
It’s interesting how thoughts can come to you. Watching the Superbowl, specifically the ads contained in the broadcast, I was struck by two things. The first was the abundance of crypto advertisements, reminiscent of the late 90s or early 2000s. Does anybody else remember pets.com? It stood out to me.
The second was that so many of these products, particularly the car/travel commercials, are for products that are very out of reach for a large chunk of the country. BMW ads, the “all-new” Chevy Silverado (with the most basic model starting at $40,000), exotic vacations, etc. I consider my household to be fairly comfortable and, by the numbers, we’re very fortunate. Even so, I’m still not in the market for any of this stuff. That’s how I know I’m in caste #2.
The Superbowl itself is separated into three groups: people who can sponsor it, people who can afford to attend it, and the rest of us. This is nothing new; America’s long been separated by a class structure in ways many would rather not admit. But it’s gotten much more pronounced. In recent years, I think our bottom rung has essentially become an ignored underclass. They’re trodden upon and then quickly forgotten.
This has ramifications beyond political talking points. The further we drift apart economically, the more fractures form in our society. The larger income inequality becomes, the more contentious our discourse. We’re seeing the effects of this already.
The first class is the one for which money is really not a day-to-day consideration at all. The Onion may call this group “PlatinumPlus” citizens. I’m not a fan of arbitrary income lines, but if we’re drawing one around the top 5%, we’re talking about households making about $275,000 a year or more.
Now someone’s going to jump in here and say “depending on where you are, $200,000 isn’t even a lot of money.” I actually got that in a comment on a recent article. All that…