“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.
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?
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?”
“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.”