When you’re rich and when you’re poor

When you’re rich and lose money on a leveraged investment, you are a victim of the bad economy and deserved to be bailed out. When you’re poor and lose money on a risky investment, you’re a financially incompetent yahoo who chases get rich quick schemes.

When you’re rich and a war is about to start, doing your duty is working in your father’s oil business or the National Guard. When you’re poor and a war is about to start, be prepared to lose some limbs.

When you’re rich and mess up, there are always second chance boarding schools, second chance rehab centers, or a second chance business crony of your father to get you a great job. When you’re poor and mess up, your life is over.

When you’re rich and misbehave as a child, you are someone who is need of a high-priced psychologist to identify the deep underlying problem. When you’re poor and misbehave as a child, you are just an animal.

When you’re rich, overweight and named Michael Moore or Rush Limbaugh, your supporters defend you as being authentic. When you’re poor and overweight, you are just a lazy undisciplined slob.

When you’re rich and unshaven, well, that’s just what intellectual and creative people do. When you’re poor and unshaven, well, being unshaven makes you a low-life and derelict. It is supposedly an axiom that being unshaven makes one derelict-like, yet mysteriously this rule does not apply to the hundreds of thousands of Seattle Microsoft programmer millionaires, Berkeley mathematicians, and Trust fund babies at Ralph Nader meetings who have not touched a razor since George W Bush was in office.

When you’re rich and wasting your twenties drinking or doing nothing, you are sowing your wild oats or finding yourself. When you’re poor and waste your twenties doing nothing, you are a lazy couch potato.

For those with trust funds, spending years traveling around the country or the world dropping in and out of jobs is expanding one’s horizons. For those with no money, there are names for such people: drifters, unstable, etc.

When you’re rich and have a do-nothing executive appointment, they say you deserve it based on your “hard earned credentials.” When you’re poor and in a slow-paced jobs program, you are a bum in a make-work position.

5 Responses

  1. Amen brother. I’d add some.

    When you’re a rich woman and dressed in a revealing way and act stupid, you get paid gobs of money to be on reality shows or even your own talk show. When you’re a poor woman and you do the same, you’re called and treated like a slut and get told you deserve all the mistreatment you get.

    When you’re a rich woman and you choose not to shave your legs or armpits, you’re a righteous feminist who deserves respect. If you do so and you’re poor, you’re a lazy slob.

    When rich people shop at second hand stores and wear second and third hand clothes, they’re trend setters. Poor people sporting old clothes can’t afford anything better.

  2. Nicole Renee Brown


    This is right on. The comment that spoke to me the most was about being a rich kid, traveling the world, dropping “in and out of jobs” is being seen as finding-oneself, but for the poor, you’re considered unstable and a drifter. That is real and is the case for working-class/lower-middle class families of Color like mine. I’m a “Class Staddler,” went to Private Schools as a scholarship kid then onto a college where my classmates are now out traveling the world during their summer vacations. I have the Social and Cultural Capital of the Upper-Middle class (sigh) but the Economic Capital of a in debt drifter. We were sold on the dream that if we sent Me to a Prep school, that all of these doors would open for me; sure, but the economic payoff that was the reason why I took out loans has not come through…and this was before the Economic crisis. Reality checks are hard for a Class Straddler like me–now my family is totally confused about where I think I’m going (why didn’t I just go to school and be a doctor or a Lawyer?) and where I am, a drifter, under-employed, living at home (ugh) young adult. At least I have food and shelter which I am grateful for, something many other people in this economy do not have. It’s just stressful and confounding to feel stuck in between worlds and values! Many Class Straddlers are out there, up and down the socio-economic ladder. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s just what occurs in the complexity of U.S. Class stratification.

  3. I would also add that when the skeletal remains of 11 poor and marginal women were found recently in a New Mexico desert near Albequerque, it was painted by the media as a consequence due to these women’s “risky lifestyles” as desperate, poor and exploited sex trade workers. Ditto for the 49 female victims from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighborhood who went missing and who were brutally killed by Canadian serial killer Robert “Willie” Pickton (he put most of their bodies through a wood chipper and fed them to his hogs at his Port Coquitlam pig farm).

    The prevalent societal attitude is that the victims of social predators like Gary Leon Ridgeway (the Green River killer) and Robert Pickton “asked for it” due to their “risky lifestyle choice.” It is this ideology that dismisses the savage realities of poverty, discrimination, and injustice in a competitive capitalist society in which poor women are dehumanized and devalued — especially poor aboriginal women. Poor women are viewed as nothing more than disposable toys to be abused and discarded at the whim of their “purchasers” who have benefited unjustly from a knapsack of unearned privileges.

    There is a huge difference between choosing to play in a dangerous sport versus “choosing” survival sex for lack of options in a society that never provided enough living wage jobs or adequate social income support where poor women are denied chances for a decent life, including opportunities for skilled trades training and hiring in good-paying male-dominated jobs.

    No little girl aspires to become a prostitute when she grows up.

    No little girl looks forward to ending up as another sad statistic without a face.

    No woman should ever have to choose between abuse, dysfunction, and poverty and the violent exploitative sex trade in order to survive and/or support their children.

    No woman deserves to be dehumanized and commodified in life and slated for death without dignity.

    Being a feminist is not only about fighting for women’s access to reproductive choice with a full range of reliable contraception and an abortion if necessary; it’s about also fighting for the social and economic valuing of women who are mothers and promoting respect for all women’s human rights. It’s also about securing the right to safe and non-traumatizing, pain-free childbearing that is woman-centered. And it is about fighting for a society in which no woman is left behind.

  4. Stephanie

    When you’re rich/upper middle class and you do drugs or drink to excess, you’re going through a socially acceptable rebellious phase, and have access to expensive rehabilitation centers and a very wide support system of family.

    When you’re poor/working class and have a drug problem, you’re a loser who gets years of incarceration with no chance of rehabilitation.

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