Breaking survivalist stereoptypes

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

This article interested me because I have survivalist tendencies. I don’t have the proverbial snowball’s chance of ever actually surviving any natural or man-made disaster, but I look at the big tubs of freeze-dried food from Costco, and wonder vaguely about acquiring some more gold, and just generally spiral down into wondering if I should develop an arsenal and start making hundreds of pounds of jerky in my neglected dehydrator.



The new middle

by Rhode

A Portrait Of America’s Middle Class, By The Numbers

Our favorite topic – what is the middle class…

Do you agree with the numbers?

I found the shape of the middle class by numbers interesting. Who knew Sheboygan had 3.6 million people? But seriously, the more expensive the area, the larger the proportion of lower income (and the lower the median income). The McAllen Texas area is telling – and probably more representative of “middle America” than we on the coasts would like to believe.

How do you think these numbers will shape decisions at the Federal level? When we talk of political candidates talking to the middle class, do we mean middle class by income (like this article), or is it a more “cultural” middle class defined by attributes and values?

Bubbles within bubbles

by Honolulu Mother

We’ve talked before about the idea that Totebaggers generally live within a comfortable urban-coastal bubble. But this Prospect article suggests that many of our business and political leaders live in yet a smaller and more comfortable bubble, which makes it difficult for them to understand the everyday experiences of the great majority of their fellow citizens:

Sanders, Trump, and the Hassles of Regular People

Daily life is more and more of a hassle for more and more people, whether it involves insecurity of jobs, of pay, of schools, of health care, of retirement, of unaffordable apartments and tuitions, of long lines and crumbling transit systems—you name it. And the super-elite doesn’t care, because they literally don’t experience any of this.

The article is short and unfocused and a bit of a humblebrag, but the idea it raises is an interesting one. Totebaggers, what do you think?

Paying for luxury

by MBT

How much are you willing to pay for the good life?

I know some totebaggers extol the virtues of paying extra for first class air travel, particularly on international flights. Others find big vacation splurges, or luxury cars, or home renovations to be worth it. What luxury experiences are worth it to you? Are you willing to pay extra to not rub shoulders with the hoi polloi, as the article suggests?

In an Age of Privilege, Not Everyone Is in the Same Boat
Companies are becoming adept at identifying wealthy customers and marketing to them, creating a money-based caste system.

When speech signifies class

by bklurker

Almost all of us code switch to some degree – make changes in speech and behavior depending on the situation and audience (such as adults who speak differently with friends and family than with strangers or coworkers, or children with their friends versus their parents or teachers.) I wonder how deeply parents and teachers/supervisors are involved in helping to define that difference.

A few incidents have made me think about this recently. I recently finished the second Elena Ferrante Neapolitan novel and was amazed to find out that well into the 1960s speaking Italian, instead of regional dialect, not only required training and effort, but was considered a snobbish affectation in certain circles, while, conversely, speaking Italian with a regional accent marked one as less educated. The second incident was visiting with my kindergarten-age nephew in a Boston suburb. He enjoyed testing my reaction to saying that he’s in “kindagahden”, as they say in the public announcements at his school. I’m originally from the lesser exurbs of Boston and have always found the accent to be offensive; the real accent only slightly less aggravating than the recent Hollywood portrayals. He reveled in my distaste as he had in his parents’ “We do not speak that way”. But how could we tell him why without insulting the people who do? How do we explain socio-economic class and its signifiers to a five-year old?

So here are some questions for discussion – how do you deal with accents and/or appropriate speech with your children? Do the accents only apply to the east coast, Texas and girls from California? How much code switching occurs naturally and how much does it have to be cultivated by family or serious self-study of higher culture to escape a perceived lower class? How do children (and young adults) learn to differentiate slang and texting from proper speech and written communications?

And at work – is it a hindrance to moving up in your company? Have you ever coached someone to speak/behave differently to get ahead?

Here are a few articles (since we always need links here…) The first is an NPR explainer on code switching, the second is about Hollywood’s golden age of the mid-Atlantic accent.

How Code-Switching Explains The World

The Rise and Fall of Katharine Hepburn’s Fake Accent

The growing gap between rich and poor parenting

by MooshiMooshi

This article, on the widening gap in childrearing practices between the upper classes and the lower classes, seems right up Totebag territory. I couldn’t resist.

Most interesting to me was this passage.

Less-educated parents, and poorer and black and Latino parents are more likely to believe that there is no such thing as too much involvement in a child’s education. Parents who are white, wealthy or college-educated say too much involvement can be bad.

Interesting, because while parents may say they value either greater or lesser involvement, their behavior is the opposite. Upper class and upper middle class parents are very interventionist, bringing in tutors, therapists, special ed advocates at the first signs of any trouble – and hold the school administrator’s and teacher’s feet to the fire. Conversely, my college students, who are mainly from lower class circumstances, find the idea of parents knowing ANYTHING about their education to be strange. Many of them have non-English speaking parents from cultures that defer completely to the school authorities.

I do think, however, that the lip service we give to independence for our kids is a completely white, WASP-y ideal. My friends who are Hispanic or Asian largely do not share this ideal, and in fact, even my husband’s white-but-ethnic family does not share this ideal at all.

Here is the link. Total Totebag Fodder.

Class Differences in Child-Rearing Are on the Rise

Rich or Poor – Can You Teach It?

by AustinMom

Will Your Child be Rich or Poor? 15 Poverty Habits Parents Teach Their Children

This came through my Facebook feed as it likely did for other totebaggers. I found the initial list of items of how the rich differ from the poor as interesting. However, the author then provides a list suggesting what we (parents and schools) should teach our children. I was expecting some level of parallelism between the two lists, but to me it seems that he went on to suggest what he thought was important. I noted that he did not suggest that parents attend back to school night, encourage academic achievement in order to make the honor roll, or instruct their children on proper flossing habits. What did you think of the list? Do you have other things you think are more important than the list the author provides?