A Short Story About Privilege

“His shelves are full of books and his fridge is full of food” — just by itself, that line says so much. Books and food are, as the lawyers say, necessary, if not sufficient.

Water As Privilege

The Privileged Question of Whether Money Buys Happiness

For all of time, or at least for the time that monetary exchange has existed, we have been asking ourselves this question: Can I buy happiness with this money? Or, if I were to acquire more money, would that make me happy?

What’s More Annoying: Checking Privilege Or Complaining About Checking Privilege?

Privilege comes with so much baggage these days, amirite? Especially on college campuses when entering students are often first exposed to the concept. The impulse to bristle and become defensive can be very strong. “Who, me? No, I’m not privileged. Something bad happened to my grandparents too. They worked hard and then my parents worked hard and that’s why I’m here today. Why should I apologize for that?”

‘Gold Diggers’ 2005/1933

In the summer of 2005 Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” hit the radio waves. I was 14 and didn’t know how to help, but I had some money saved so I sent it along. There was a collection box in the school cafeteria the week I started ninth grade, and a big poster board chart on the wall tracked how much the school had raised using columns made of crepe paper. Soon I learned on the national news that the Red Cross wasn’t doing much with the money. Nobody had planned for that kind of disaster.

Talking Money

The Wall Street Journal’s Katy McLaughlin wrote her final column about money this weekend, and her takeaway is something we always talk about here: What we learn from each other when we talk about our money.

The Advantages of Looking the Part

Real Problems

I like this Lena Dunham interview in the Guardian.

Poverty, Presentability, and Expensive Handbags

“Why do poor people make stupid, illogical decisions to buy status symbols? For the same reason all but only the most wealthy buy status symbols, I suppose. We want to belong. And, not just for the psychic rewards, but belonging to one group at the right time can mean the difference between unemployment and employment, a good job as opposed to a bad job, housing or a shelter, and so on. Someone mentioned on twitter that poor people can be presentable with affordable options from Kmart. But the issue is not about being presentable. Presentable is the bare minimum of social civility. It means being clean, not smelling, wearing shirts and shoes for service and the like. Presentable as a sufficient condition for gainful, dignified work or successful social interactions is a privilege. It’s the aging white hippie who can cut the ponytail of his youthful rebellion and walk into senior management while aging black panthers can never completely outrun the effects of stigmatization against which they were courting a revolution. Presentable is relative and, like life, it ain’t fair.”

Leveling the Field

Rich kids have advantages that children from low-incomes do not, so what are some ways we can even the playing field? Chuck Collins examines this question in his essay for The American Prospect.