How We Think About Class

While everyone agreed in principle that it is generally not desirable to judge people based on their appearance, we diverged on whether judging people based on apparent wealth is as bad as judging them based on, say, race.

On ‘Dating Up’

The only other person I dated with some link to money came via my ex-boyfriend. His father owned a TV station in Utah and his mother clearly enjoyed the privilege—she dripped with jewelry and talked non-stop about their money.

A Look at One Homeless Man’s Life in San Francisco

Priceonomics talked to a homeless man in San Francisco named Nathaniel who has been on the streets for 15 years. Logan has been on this beat here in NYC, but it's good to look at how the homeless navigate the streets in other cities.

Poverty in America

The New York Times's 22,000-word piece about Dasani, an 11-year-old who is part of an "invisible tribe of more than 22,000 homeless children in New York, the highest number since the Great Depression, in the most unequal metropolis in America" has been making the rounds on the internet, and yes, is most definitely worth reading.

An Unemployed Parent’s Job Hunt

In Motherlode, Andrea Pate, a mother with two children talks about how difficult it has been finding a job—even a minimum wage one—and making ends meet. Pate lives in Milwaukee where the unemployment rate is significantly higher than the national average at 9.8 percent.

A Modern-Day Debtor’s Prison in Pennsylvania

Emma Jacobs looks at a "modern-day debtor's prison" in Montgomery County, Pa. where a judge is sending people to jail for being unable to pay fines. Vic Walczak, legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania told Jacobs: "What is perfectly clear under both the U.S. Constitution and the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure is that you cannot send someone to jail if they cannot afford to pay the fine, because that's the equivalent of having a debtor's prison — of putting someone in jail simply because they're poor." Records show that each day in jail was worth about $40 towards their fines, but taxpayers are ultimately paying for it.

Vlad in the Snow on Broadway

Vlad was sitting under a small awning on Broadway, a green duffel bag next to him. His cardboard sign said, "Homeless Help Please," and there was a smiley face that he'd spent some time on in the corner. It was freezing and snowing.

A Contractor Gets Fired for Voicing an Opinion

Certified mail is the "we need to talk" of written communication. The news is never good: The IRS is demanding additional money on top of the 10 percent penalty you already paid for an early 401(k) withdrawal; an old flame has reappeared in the form of a court order requesting establishment of paternity, or in my case, your employer is firing you for believing that African-Americans and Latinos are able to sit in a clinic waiting room without starting a race war.

The Selfie as Class Signifier

Miss Sheryl doesn’t have a computer and definitely wouldn’t know what a selfie is. Her cell runs on minutes and doesn’t have a camera. Like many of us, she’s too poor to participate in pop culture. She’s on public assistance living in public housing and scrambles for odd jobs to survive.

Salon’s D. Watkins reports from East Baltimore, where “everything looks like ‘The Wire’ and nobody cares what a ‘selfie’ is.” Watkins points out that it requires a certain amount of money to participate in certain aspects of pop culture. [via]

Photo: Paul Sableman

“It’s Only Because There’s a Fire That You Even Know About This”

The quote is from Hammond, Indiana city attorney Kristina Kantar talking about a fire that killed three children during a cold snap. The family's rental power had been cut after they failed to pay their electric bill; it is suspected that propane heaters started the blaze.

Is War’s Absence From Art a Class Thing?

Beverly Gologorsky is a novelist who grew up in the South Bronx during Vietnam, and so grew up witnessing many of her neighbors, friends, love interests, and family members go off to and come back from war. War was a part of life. Her first novel was about Vietnam war vets returning home, and her second novel is “permeated with a shadowy sense of what the Iraq and Afghan wars have done to us.”

In an essay for Guernica, Golgorsky writes about how she suspects the class divide is what keeps war feeling abstract and unknown to many Americans — and many fiction writers:

Jay, in Front of the Church on Broadway

Jay was leaning against the fence in front of the church on Broadway, holding out a plastic coffee cup, asking for change. He was in socked feet and blue booties, the kind that would wrap around a cast or a sprained ankle. He was standing on a thin piece of styrofoam, and had a shopping bag and a backpack on the ground text to him. I stopped and said, hello, and he smiled a huge smile that I wasn't expecting.