Sunday, May 18, 2008

ATTENTION CLASS

Over the last several weeks, the MSM has engaged in endless chatter about bitter working-class voters and their cultural resentments. It's time to move on. Most of the talk about class in the last few months has been in the form of crude, armchair ethnography, based on the old school assumption that working-class folk out there (especially in places like Appalachia) are the "other," whose incomprehensible folkways need to be interpreted and often mocked. It's ok to talk about class as a bundle of cultural practices or irrational beliefs, but not to talk about it as a matter of inequality, economic power, or political marginalization.

Fortunately, there are some alternative perspectives on the topic of class, power, and politics worth reading. Start with TPM Café. There political scientist Larry Bartels summarizes research that offers a damning critique of the ways that the political system is skewed toward the interests of the rich. Shonu Gandhi picks up on a theme that I have written about: namely the ever-rising financial burden that poor and working-class college students bear as the result of escalating college costs and their dependence on predatory loans. And Dean Baker points out that low-income renters will be the victims of a redistribution of wealth upward to bail out mortgage lenders.

3 comments:

Debra said...

Re: "...the ever-rising financial burden that poor and working-class college students bear as the result of escalating college costs and their dependence on predatory loans..."

That point reminded me of this one by Lani Guinier: that these same poor and working class students' families, through their taxes, are subsidizing the college education of the elite: "50% of people in the country are providing substantial state and federal taxes to both public and private institutions even though they are among those least well off and are being excluded from the opportunity."

I teach high school (history) and struggle with teaching about these issues of class in a way that helps empower and inform, but doesn't kill their hope and drive. It's difficult. Thanks for you thoughtful site and the great links in this post.

Tom S said...

Thanks, Debra. Keep up the good work teaching. And thanks for the Guinier reference.

aiya said...

Office 2010
Microsoft Office 2010
Microsoft word
Office 2007
Microsoft Office
Microsoft Office 2007
Office 2007 key
Office 2007 download
Office 2007 Professional
Outlook 2010
Microsoft outlook
Microsoft outlook 2010
Windows 7