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Is having a social class inevitable?

Will the gap between rich and poor be omnipresent? Can it be abolished? If you propose socialism to get rid of the classes, are you very sure the gap will not come back? Should we then solve this problem or leave it be?

  • Nov 14 2013: You as an individual can choose not to be defined by a class. This is hard because people have a desire to belong to some club, even if it’s the club of losers

    If class is defined as; some people are included and others are excluded then the key to a classless society would be to love your neighbor and love yourself.

    Like friends, exercise, and education; people have varying relationships with Money. Some people collect money, some people love to make money, some people love to spend money, and some people are afraid of it. Treating everyone the same causes huge problems. On the other hand I am distressed when people think they are superior because of their relationship with money/education/friends/exercise.
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    Nov 17 2013: I think social classes are a result of human nature, and I don't find social classes to be inherently negative. However, when one social class is given benefits that other classes are denied it becomes a problem.

    Socialism is a double-edged sword. On one hand you give everybody what they need, on the other you deprive them of experiences that serve to build character.

    Many say that success is the result of hard work and dedication. I agree with that. However, you cannot apply that logic to failure. Poverty is not necessarily the result of people being lazy and unwilling.

    Many people simply do not have the same opportunities to be successful. We can have a social gap between the poor and rich. However, what we don't need is the inferiority complex that comes along with it.

    I think we will always have a certain degree of separation. This is simply the result of diversity within the population.
  • Nov 6 2013: I can think of no society that had no social classes. An especially important point since we have numerous recent examples of societies that tried to create a classless society and failed miserably. Many people have commented that the rich-poor gap in the Soviet Union and communist China was actually larger than the systems communism replaced.

    I think this is both a product of humans and economics. People want to form social groups, which are mutually exclusive with other social groups. And the nature of economics and logistics means you will always have more of one resource in one area than in another. It takes time for resources to move from the point of their creation. And we’re not just talking about money, but goods and even intangibles like education. That will mean there will always be some sort of inequality in a system. So for all practical intents and purposes, social class in humans is basically a law of humanity, and we cannot will it away any more than we can will away gravity and fly.

    This does not preclude socialism, especially the “weak” forms of socialism. I haven’t read a lot of socialist literature, but in the “weak” forms of socialism in practice today, the objective of socialism is wealth redistribution not wealth equality. That’s a big difference, as one is absolute and the other is relative. Wealth redistribution doesn’t mean you try to make everyone the economic class or that there aren’t rich or poor people and it doesn’t even mean there isn’t a pretty big rich and poor gap. It simply means that the amount of money is taken from the rich people is disproportionate to their representation in the population and “given” to less well to do people.

    Marxists probably wouldn’t describe the US as overly socialist, but none the less I think socialism is actually alive in well in the world economy today. Socialist tax systems don’t prevent the rich and the poor, but they do insulate BOTH groups from the harm of too many of the other.
    • Nov 7 2013: i like the point you made: "wealth redistribution". i never really saw socialism in that perspective. i was more focused on its "wealth equality" agenda. thank you for that important insight :)

      and by the way, what do you think of sweden and the other nordic countries? given that socialism is defined as the prioritization of the welfare of the people before the state, are these countries socialist? thank you.
  • Nov 16 2013: Cheyenne, regarding globalization and the phenomenon where people are made rich by exploiting the labor of others who they will never meet (either intentionally and with no concern or inadvertently when labor is subcontracted) this is a very real obstacle to ending severe class inequities. I think that it is inpiring when I meet people here in the U.S. who care a great deal about where the products that they buy are made. This makes me feel hopeful, because it shows that people are capable of caring about people that they will never meet and wish to improve conditions for all. However, I often see indifference among people, even within small communities. Many working poor people are exploited and work two or three jobs yet have no means to viably escape the confines of their birth class because they must work these underpaid jobs to survive. This troubles me a great deal. I see this type of exploitation in many professions. When I was just out of High School, I had to fully support myself. I took a minimum wage job in the care taking industry. The twelve hour workdays were backbreaking (literally) although I was a very strong young person. When we tried to organize to form a Union, those who tried to start the discussion were promptly fired and our management organized to counter any further efforts. Our worker's rights were not respected. The work was also dangerous, as many of the patients that we worked with were violent. I worked in this field for 5 years, 60-80 hours a week at a facility & at day program. I naively hoped to be able to go to college eventually. I was injured at my work before this dream was possible. I did not have health insurance and so, I did not get medical care. My injuries left me with permanent neurological damage, deficits in functioning and epilepsy. I blamed myself for the incident and did not understand the ramifications.This happened in the U.S., in Orange County, CA about 20 yrs ago. Injustice & inequity persists here & abroad.
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    Nov 16 2013: I think it's inevitable, mostly because different people care for different things.
    While nobody wants to be poor (at least that's what I assume), some people want to be very rich and others don't care much about material wealth.
    The same is true for education. Some people study and, in many cases, as a result become successful while others don't care.
    Removing (social) classes can probably only done by force where a society doesn't give any options to the individual, but I suppose that's something that was already tried out and resulted in epic failure.
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    Nov 9 2013: Hi Cheyenne,
    "Social mobility" is a term used to describe how easy (or difficult) it is for people improve their economic status. (This often means improving their social status too).
    Suppose someone starts life in the bottom 20% (economically) in a society. They work hard, have the opportunity for some education maybe later on in life, get a better job, maybe can afford to buy a house ... and by the end of their working life they are no longer in the bottom 20%, but say the middle 20% or maybe even the top 20%. That's an example of a good level of social mobility.
    But lots of people work hard all their lives and end up still in the the same economic level as they started 40 years previously - that's poor/bad social mobility.
    Whether a country has good, or bad, social mobility depends on how that society is structured, and also the culture of the society plays an important part too. For example, how good is the access to education? Or is the cost too much for poorer people. If someone wants to start a small business, how easy is it for them to borrow some money to get started? Also the cost and ease of transport to and from work (or a potential better-paying job further away) is an important factor. How easy is it for a person get help (eg: mentoring) to help them start a business and work to earn money?
    The reason "good social mobility" is important in any society is because is because it is not 'healthy' for people to have no hope in improving their situations in life, especially if they work very hard. People then feel "down-trodden" by being part of a permanent "under-class", and (naturally) they become restless because society is experienced by them as being unfair. All this creates tensions in society, which in general is not an nice way to live.
    (Hope this helps answer your questions)
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    Nov 8 2013: Well, Cheyenne, my parents were very successful people. They started out with nothing, worked very hard and took risks, and they ended up worth about 25 million dollars in apartment buildings, or 20 buildings to put it another way. When I was young my father said to me there are two secrets to success: one, you have to work hard; and two, you have to take risks. I think that there will always be classes because there are always going to be some people who are more willing to work hard and take risks than other people. And actually I admire those people because I think as they work hard and take risks, they not only benefit themselves, they benefit the people around them and society as well. Why some people are more willing to work hard and take risks than others I don't know. Maybe they're born that way. Maybe they see the rewards and the rewards motivate them more than they do other people.
    I would think when you try to eliminate classes you end up with a very gray, mediocre society. Like Russia under communism, you don't have enough food in the stores and the food you do have is very inferior. Why? Because you have tied the hands of the people who want to work hard and produce excellence.
    • Nov 8 2013: but what about those people who are trying very hard to earn just wages but then are not being given what they deserve?

      an example would be the case of nescafe here in the philippines. although workers are being paid the minimum wage, this amount of money cannot and will simply not suffice a family of five due to the relatively high costs of living. these workers are working hard; some of them even push to work overtime just to earn additional pay which then again cannot be even near enough.

      what about them? they are working hard and they are taking risks. everyday. but why are they not eased out from the abuses of the capitalist society?

      why? i believe that the capitalists themselves are the ones making and keeping the class distinctions. they want to stay on top and concentrate the wealth of the state among themselves. so those people who push even beyond what they can carry cannot even taste a glimpse of justice toward their work because of such a grave external factor.
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        Nov 9 2013: well, they are working hard cheyenne in the sense that everyone is working hard, in other words it does take work to work a 40-hour shift. But my point is that the people in the higher class are working harder, the bosses at the factory are working 60 and 70 hours every week, not just the occasional overtime.

        I don't think an ordinary worker on an ordinary shift is taking risks. They come to work, work 40 hours, and go home. The people who take the risk are the people who invest their money to get the business started and keep it going, because if they fail they lose all the money they invested.

        If you really think the workers have a bad deal, they should unionize. But even in a society with unions, you will find that some people will occupy a higher economic class because they will work harder than most, and be willing to take risks.
        • Nov 16 2013: I think that lots of people work very hard but not all can take viable risks ... some people risk losing investments but others must risk losing their lives.
    • Nov 15 2013: Greg, I think there are several things that you gloss over here. One is, not every aspect of a communistic/social society is/was "gray." In Russia, they produced incredible athletes, musicians, etc..Now, without their social set up, their guaranteed education has been taken away, resulting in people not receiving that incredible early education. I am a violinist. Russians, geared for that career, had a guaranteed high level education, that included anatomy and physiology classes from a very young age. If you watch Russian players from that time period, they understood how to use their body balance and motor movements, and their injury rates and capabilities exceeded, imo, American players. Today, according to one young Russian soloist, his education was difficult to come by, financially and now they are on the same terms as the US, and many just don't receive the needed education to execute their God given talent and purpose. If you look up TED talk with Gustavo Dudamel, conductor of the LA phil, born in Venezuela, and was a product of their socialized system, El Sistema, you find a youth orchestra, that now represents hundreds of others, and you can see, if you know what you are looking for, an incredibly educated youth, run by a social system. They blow American youth orchestras off the map. I know, because I have taught them. There are very few that come close to that caliber. I believe it was Simon Rattle that said they are doing the most important work in the musical world, in that country. It initially was started to help get kids off the street. Dudamel continues that work in ghettos in LA and around the world. I am not saying that the leaders of any country, including Venezuela aren't incredibly problematic. We know they are. But, there are some great things that come out of social/communistic systems. The problem is that they turn tyrannical/power hungry/greedy/controlling in the leadership department. It ruins a potentially good system. Watch Dudamel TED
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        Nov 16 2013: well, I didn't live in Russia under communism, so I don't know for sure, Dawn. But one heard bad stories, didn't one, of a lack of food choices in the stores, and food shortages as well? I also heard that when Mikhail Gorbachev, then leader of U.S.S.R., visited America and went into American food supermarkets, he "knew the West had won." The meaning be that in America people could work harder than their fellows, produce excellent and abundant food, and make more money and get more of the rewards of life. Whereas in a society where there was no chance to rise into a higher social class because all the classes are equal, noone would be motivated to produce excellence and abundance.

        Another example I cite is the Beatles. The Beatles worked hard, took risks, and produced excellence in abundance. They knew that if they stayed in socialist Britain, the government would take all their money in taxes. So they, or most of them, left. John came to New York, Ringo to L.A., Paul to Scotland. George I don't know, he may have had a place in England, but maybe had places in other countries as well. I would say England lost a national treasure because of its socialism.

        In fact I look at socialist countries such as England or France, and I don't see them producing innovation and excellence like non-socialist countries. I can't think of great innovations that come out of England, or Sweden, for example, ideas or products that change or improve the world. There's no incentive to do it, because if you make money from your idea, the government's just going to take it away.

        I'm not so sure the excellence you mention in music is really there, although I'm sure a socialist or communist country could occasionally produce excellence in some department, but it would just be a quirk. But the real leaders in music would probably be the pop stars, wouldn't they? Mostly they are coming from America, or now K-pop is rising, but Korea is not socialist or communist either.
        • Nov 16 2013: Hi Greg, I agree that the life circumstances in communistic countries was/is not good. But, my point is that, the actual system COULD be good if the leaders didn't manipulate the system to control the people. But, we have that in our system as well, and it's getting worse. I think it's the people that rise to the top, in politics. Their personalities tend to be so narcissistic that they don't see the masses as worthy enough to deserve freedom. You can have freedom in communism, but in a different way. As I said, please watch the TED talk for Dudamel, and you can see what types of musicians they are producing. Please watch before you sit in your mind about what is or isn't being produced. Better to be informed. What better time in history to be alive? You can see it first hand via internet. There are hundreds of these orchestras, and you can see that's it's obvious that they have a great education. Please take the time to watch it. Also, Russia produced some of the most famous musicians in the history of classical music, including composers. Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Glinka, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky, Other than Oistrakh on violin, you have Misha Elman, russian trained Ivan Galamian, Leonid Kogan, Efrem Zimbalist, among others, and other solo instruments. In classical music, Russia is known for it's amazing players. Their lives though, were difficult, and many defected. Here in America, we have many issues with our "system," yet, I believe any system could actually work, if the leaders and the corporations and the masses would remain at least a bit more giving, and less greedy. As seen in 2008, our system isn't working well. Our leaders, big banks, pharmas, insurance companies, corporate greed...and, the fact that the American public is forced to pay...just like us paying to bail out the Federal Reserve, AFTER they criminally broke the globe's economy. Our system is terribly broken, clearly. Music is varied. You are right about pop, not about classical.
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        Nov 17 2013: Thanks for your comments, Dawn. Well, what would be the freedom under communism? Because I think under communism, there would be people who were wishing to work harder than their neighbors, and contribute more thereby, but their motivation would be quashed knowing that the government is going to take a big share of the rewards of their labor, hammer them down until they're just like their neighbors.

        I will say there's always a tension between how much freedom people should have, how much they should be expected to give, etc. Some people think we'd do better with a pure market, where noone is forced to give anything, and people can go starve if that's the best life they can make for themselves. Others want the government to force people to give more (of course, some people are giving and don't have to be forced), and arguments arise as to how much people should give, and these arguments are ongoing, I don't know if you and I, right here, right now, can reach a definitive answer as to what the right balance is. There is an awful lot of charity, both private and governmental, in America right now, if you for whatever reason couldn't find a job, you would not go hungry, you would not go without clothes or shelter, and essentially I think you would have had adequate medical care, even without Obamacare.

        My theory is that Obamacare represents a creep toward socialism, and I would expect America to become a less innovative, excellent nation as a result of it.
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    Nov 6 2013: Cheyenne, This debate has been ongoing for a long time. The lure of Socialism / communism has always been the removal of the rich and equality to the workers / people ... a classless society. The lure of capitalism has always been the opportunity to follow your dreams, seek wealth and fame, live in freedom.

    It is not for me to tell you which sounds better ... the responsibility of each of us is to evaluate the system we would like to live in. To do that you must disregard the rhetoric and look for facts ... both good and bad.

    One good test case might be Cuba. This country has experience both Communism and capitalism.

    Evaluate the differences in individual income ... GDP .... various economic factors .... opportunity .... freedoms ... and other variables that you can think of.

    Be as fair and as objective as possible and find out which of the promises are more accurate.

    You have stated that you like Socialism ... Why? Write all of the things you like about socialism and then do the research .... do these "likes" survive in places that have converted like Cuba? That would be your comparison not mine or others that attempt to lure you.

    Write all of the thing you enjoy ... food ... clothing ... travel .... religion ... your choices. If you moved to Russia would you still have them available? Read about Argentina in 1916 when it went from one of the top countries in the world to the bottom in one year after the change from one form of government to another.

    It is not my place to tell you .... only to offer examples for you to evaluate. The choice is yours .... you have a responsibility to yourself to do the homework and make a informed choice.

    I wish you well .... Bob.
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      Nov 6 2013: Bob, let me ask you something, as I believe you are born and raised in the United States.

      Do you think of yourself as being of a different "social class" than people who have one hundred times your income or people of little material wealth?

      This is why I am confused about the question posed in the thread. Obviously there are large differences in income among people. But "social class?"
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        Nov 7 2013: I can only offer two instances 1) Social class = a broad group in society having common economic, cultural, or political status. 2) Social status (A.) Achieved status = rose due to their own achievements or (B.) Ascribed status = Inherited status

        In the USA I would think we use the term Social Status .... not social class. In the USA it is status symbol to be a millionaire and up ... belong to country clubs ... private clubs ... etc ...

        However, having the same culture, members of the same Republic, and the same economic structure ... we are of the same social class.

        Frequent visitors to my home are the Walton family, B. Gates, W. Buffet .... just some of the guys .... that could never have happened in a society that has "classes". Yeah Herman Walton lives two doors down ... Bart Gates next street over .... And good ole Willie Buffet from work.

        Cheyenne is a first year college student ... by some of her replies I would think she is a little loose with terms and is easily influenced ... my opinion. I have challenged her to do her own research and investigation.

        My daughter came home ashamed of us for not supporting all of the social programs and how we hated America and how her Professor had enlightened her to the fight for the people. We were relieved to find out that she only hated us ... NOT .. our money that paid for all her needs. Lucky us.

        Her answer to you and the replies from Lejan and Greg confused the issue and gave false answers to the real question .... It appears she is talking about earnings differences that others are defining as class differences such as lower, middle, upper. She could not discern a difference. All my opinion only.

        As ever, Bob.
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          Nov 7 2013: My kids have gone on scholarship to schools where very much most of their peers are from wealthy families. But all it meant was that the other kids had expensive stuff. They were all still peers at the same school and didn't/don't in any way stratify themselves socially in relation to income.
    • Nov 7 2013: my thoughts would be that people are the only ones corrupting whatever system.

      capitalism is being abused to the point of removing others the right to decent lives - unequal wealth distribution. the wealth of the whole country is concentrated among the 1%.

      socialism can also be abused in terms of regulating natural resources. if everything was available, natural resources would have long been depleted due to our continually exponentially increasing population.

      both of them have their good points, but i guess it's not good to stay in between. is it?
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        Nov 7 2013: Could you elaborate on your statement; "I guess it's not good to stay in between, is it?"
        • Nov 8 2013: in between would mean not taking any sides; you just have to get the good stuff from one stand and collate it with the good stuff from another stand.
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        Nov 7 2013: Cheyenne, I am a little confused. Do you want to talk about social classes or attack the rich?

        Capitalism is about the opportunity to succeed

        Socialism is not about "regulating natural resources"

        Do you for one minute think that if you took all of the money away from the wealthy that there would not be poor?

        Again ... read about Argentina in 1916 where they did take the money from the rich and find out what happened.

        Again I think you are listening to the sales pitch .... please do your own research ....

        Again your financial status .... does not ... determined your social class ....

        The terms low, middle, and high refer to income not social classes .. they are not interchangeable.

        As Fritzie stated ... kids at school are of different income levels but they are peers ... there is no class distinction.

        If you look around at your school ... are there kids who come from higher and lower income families? Are they of different social class than you? I think not ... the family with money may have more expensive toys ... but are still peers.

        Stop drinking the koolade and do your own thinking and research. Do not let me or anyone else make up your mind.

        If you do not learn from history ... you are doomed to relive the failures.

        I wish you well. Bob.
        • Nov 8 2013: i still have so much to learn. i'm sorry if i'm too confusing. hmpf. :(
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          Nov 8 2013: Cheyenne lives in the Philippines. Perhaps there is a strong sense of social class there which is strongly connected to income. Other places there are social classes determined by birth that "hold" even through turn of economic fortune.

          I believe this is culture-specific. This is why I asked Cheyenne about the culture in this regard in the Philippines.
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        Nov 8 2013: Oh, I understood what it means to be between! I wanted to understand how you have concluded that either extreme is better than a hybrid.
        • Nov 10 2013: i know there are good sides in everything. no matter how bad an idea sounds, it always has at least one good thing with it.

          if i take extremes, i wouldn't be able to consider the other ideas basically contradicting with my belief in most cases. i have to live up believing in such extreme.

          now, if i'm hybrid, i can select the good sides in every stand and make my own stand out of them. it sounds stupid but it basically means "i am for whatever right thing regardless of the stand".

          simply that. :)
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        Nov 8 2013: You have a approaching super storm ... please be careful. Thanks for your reply. Bob.
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        Nov 10 2013: Ah, but you wrote first it is NOT good to stay between. So you actually are in favor of a hybrid, which I think is what most economic systems are in practice.
  • Nov 18 2013: I believe the gap between the rich and the poor will always exist because of people's different experiences. I believe this gap will continue because the gap is greater than just social class, it also relates to the gap between education, experiences, and other things that exist in rich/poor societies. I think this is a problem that should be left unsolved because we cannot try and force everyone to be the same because some people are willing to put in more of an effort than others. This would also decrease people's willingness to go above and beyond because they would not be rewarded for their extra work...what would their incentive be? I am not saying that people only work hard because they expect to be recognized, but there is a level of reward that one expects as a result of out struggles and hard work they have invested into something. Therefore, although I think this isn't something that we should try and fix -- I do believe it is something that people can move up/down in classes depending on their willingness to work hard and/or their experiences.
  • Nov 18 2013: Fall of the USSR: Waging an invasion of Afghanistan to gain direct path to the Gulf, the Kremlin kept it a secret, telling the families of men dead there that they had had 'training accidents'. Military commanders of units within the USSR could not get access to materials nor pay their troops as resources were directed to Afghanistan. Meanwhile, TV was doing two amazing things: Christine Amapour was reporting on the Afghanistan situation for CNN and Dallas was a hot ticket around the globe. There was a severe shortage of soap so people were receiving 'gifts' of soap from Hungary; in the bars of soap, film removed from VCR cassettes that contained episodes of Dallas for the first hour and the reports from CNN at the end. After viewing a few feet of Dallas, the tapes were ignored, received in the USSR, reloaded into cassettes to be passed around which triggered a double edged anger. One. the average citizen wasn't stupid and knew the US didn't live like JR BUT the commercials! Grocery stores, used car lots, competing brands! Two. Mothers and grandmothers and generals now knew where all those dead soldiers (and the gear and resources) were really spent. So you have a three pronged protest: generals driving tanks to the White House, grandmothers protesting in the Square and housewives protesting everywhere. So, for all those folks who like to credit Reagan, the real credit goes to two things: the invention of the VCR and the theft of soap ingredients by 'happy socialist communist workers'.

    Lincoln story: Lincoln is enroute to a fundraiser during a downpour. As his carriage passes down the muddy lane, he hears squealing and screaming getting louder and louder. The carriage passes a pig stuck under a fence and about to drown in the mud. Lincoln stops the carriage, removes his coat and shoes and releases the pig. He apologizes to his audience for the delay saying he couldn't stand listening to the pig any longer. Enlightened self-interest.
  • Nov 18 2013: Much as we disparage the thought, we are animals. All mammals have social order, whether we are talking the alpha/ beta/ gamma/ omega/ pariah of wild wolves or the loose colony structure of feral domestic shorthair cats. There is always someone who wants to be top dog. There are always members who want to improve their social standing and members who want to 'drop out'. If we removed the issues of poor mental and physical health and made all humans phenotypically equal, there would still be strivers and loafers. Add to this that all species of animals are 'programmed' genetically for xenophobia (while it means fear of the strange, it actually works out to more of a 'drawn to the like') thus us and them mentality is hardwired into animals to preserve species and reduce hybridization rates. You always have individuals who 'lack' the genes or whose coding reverses the desire so that there is a craving for the exotic but it is uncommon. Us is not them.

    Some of the posters have confused 'communism' with 'socialism'. One is political, one is economic and there are few purely socialist countries. Invariably, even where the political entity enforces an economic system (USSR or USA), you wind up with a mixed bag. The USSR fell, in part, because they couldn't make soap. The workers would steal the ingredients for home made products to be sold by individuals to individuals on the black (very capitalistic) market. Individuals like to believe they have some control over their own destiny.

    Altruism is rare. Look up the Lincoln Is Late Due to a Pig in the Mud story. Charitable giving and acts are almost always done because the doer achieves some level of satisfaction from the giving. Remove all incentive for achievement, all personal involvement in 'doing good' and you wind up in a society that can't make soap. You can preach all you want about tides and boats but most folks will still trust their own oars best.
  • Nov 18 2013: I will keep this one short, nothing can ever be held constant including the social class as you see it now.
  • Nov 18 2013: We cannot predict the future, but to me it is entirely possible that the gap may disappear in a far future, perhaps in a few centuries. However, I doubt that it will occur because of socialism or any other imposed economical/political system. Socialism was tried in the 20th century and got nowhere.

    As we, the humankind, continue to develop, it is possible that in a few centuries there will be no poor class in any part of the world —and possibly the concept of nation as we know today will no longer exist, everybody will simply be part of the humankind. But still, there may be some people richer than others, because of their inborn talents or their inheritance, just as today we can find differences even within a same social class within a same society. However, the huge economic gaps that exist today probably won’t exist in that far future. Perhaps there will be some professions/occupations that will be viewed as more prestigious than others, and there certainly will be people working as part of the governing body, but I am not counting that as a socio-economic class division.
  • Nov 18 2013: A social class system is inevitable and is a result of free will. The advantage of having a capitalist society is that the class structure is open and the individual is empowered to rise or fall at his own will with less impedance than in other economic structures. In an isolated environment you will find that roles will form in order to have group cohesion and more effectively pursue goals; it is wise to allow this free movement of persons to ensure each individual is where they are most effective. Socialism does not eliminate social hierarchy, in ingrains it.
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    Nov 17 2013: Cheyenne,

    I think these gaps will always be present, even if not created by laws (tribal or civil). As long as there are people that do not like the situation they are in, they will find a way to get out of it. I believe this internal drive is what pushes people to change their situation. I also believe this drive is influenced by our upbringing. Everyone has their vision of "happiness" and it changes. If someone asked me what would make me happy when I was fifteen, I would have said, "a nice car and a house". Now that I am an adult, my vision of happiness is living away from the city, on a farm, and without money (self sustainable).If we were able to abolish the "gap", we first have to identify it. Would it be the difference between making 100,000 dollars a year versus 50,000 dollars year? Or would it be homeowners versus renters versus those that homeless? How about the size of the home? You see, because there are so many variables to what makes people happy or "fulfilled", how can we truly say what the "standard" is? If we did identify a standard, would we be inhibiting another person's sense of well being? I think there is a solution to this. Everyone should strive to "Treat others as they want to be treated", with dignity and respect. No matter how much money you make, if you see someone starving, buy them a meal or give them food from your garden; better yet, teach them how to garden and provide their own food. If you see someone that does not have a safe place to sleep, offer them a warm bed.
  • Nov 17 2013: The problem is people, firstly getting human nature wrong, and secondly thinking that it is relevant, it's not. Don't you think socialists have addressed this issue. The other issue that was addressed that is never discussed is the necessity for socialism is the the inability to prevent breakdown and crisis of the capitalist system. Anyone who really understands socialism (1% of the world's population, maybe) will also know that it was recognized that even if socialism is a superior system it will never come about if capitalist crisis can be averted. It cannot. I knew the crash and its magnitude were imminent, but to prove it, another one, far worse, is only months away, then we will see movements against this barbaric idiotic system of irrational anarchy end up in the trash can of history where it should have gone 100 years ago. Yes it pisses me off because something straight forward and simple is made into something convoluted and poorly understood.....and no prizes for guessing why
  • Nov 17 2013: If socialism is ever implemented it can't come back. How does it come back. All industry is collectively owned, doesn't matter how petty or greedy or whatever you are, there is no one to buy off for starters, their is no money at any rate to facilitate this. Greed and so forth are due to the unequal distribution of resources AND that greedy psychopaths that gravitate towards positions of power under capitalism and spread their misanthropic outlook. People are not inherently greedy or petty. How many people give up their time to help others, when they can't really afford to, how many people are drawn to films where the self sacrificing underdog is victorious. This system is diametrically opposed to human nature. Don't forget real free education will be possible and none of the backwardness disseminated by governments to confuse and distort will exist. Anyone who wants to argue against scientific socialism better be prepared to be able to debunk Einstein who was not only an advocate of socialism but saw it as the only way out for humanity. That people cannot see this is, is because they don't want to. Long live the fourth International! One world, one human race.

    Why Socialism, Albert Einstein
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    Nov 17 2013: Prejudice and pettiness will probably always be with us and therefore classism will too. Without a social class to look down on how can others feel superior? Without a scapegoat will others have to take responsibility for their own arrogance, indifference, apathy and/or excesses?

    Of course, getting rid of hierarchies would go a long way towards leveling the playing field, but only understanding and compassion can honestly eradicate classism.
  • Nov 17 2013: I think that sadly, there will most likely always be a gap between those who are rich and those who are not as well off. I think of it as an extension of human nature, because in our most basic forms we are all looking out for who/what we care about which in most cases includes yourself, family, and close friends, and discludes anyone not in your daily life. At most, I think the gap between rich and poor can be bridged by people who have both, more than enough for themselves, and the empathy to see beyond their own world and look to help others.
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    Nov 16 2013: The only way to program a certain direction of development of civilization is to develop the appropriate sociology that as a result will produce the staff with appropriate mindset and governing skills.

    From that perspective, every particular sociological knowledge might serve solving one of two mutually exclusive problems:

    *Problem 1:* How a parasitic minority can effectively execute slave-ownership with respect to the rest of society, preferably with a minimum of force, on the basis of implementing the principle: slaves come into bondage themselves, they feed themselves, and they impel themselves to work; furthermore they believe they are free and they like it.

    *Problem 2:* -- eliminate organized parasitism of those or other minorities on the work and life of the majority, so that in the succession of generations all people will live freely, and the inclination towards parasitism, especially in its organized forms, will not reappear in new generations.

    Sociology that does not name things with their names is probably serving to the resolution of first one.

    As regards to the prospects of the humankind. This is not a matter of questions whether "we should solve" something or not, as if the human was here a host who decides and moves the process of natural evolution.
    I think that evolution is objective process and particularly I think that evolution of our planet from a planet of monkeys to a planet of people is inevitable. This is only the question of time. Nature is very wise and always finds the way.

    "And they planned and Allah (also) planned, and Allah is the best of planners."
    Qur'an 3:50
    (with Allah can be meant the wisdom of nature)

    The currently prevailing doctrine in society contradicts to the conception of evolution of Life. And this is the main reason of the systemic crisis that has been established during 20th century (two world wars) -- this is the crisis of control, consequence of ignorance and blindness, prelude to the end of the wrong system.
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    Nov 16 2013: Hi Cheyenne,

    I guess we're all brought into the world equal, and when our time is up - we're brought back to the same state of equality as how we began.

    Social Class isn't a real phenomenon, it just exists in the minds and hearts of human beings who believe that they are either better than, or not quite as good as others.

    I guess that as long as humanity exists, inequality will exist also.

    Socialism will not change the world, or the values of any of us, however, YOU can begin to change the world today by treating all the people that you encounter through life, as equals - not better than, not worse than.

    Social class unfortunately stems from our natural selfish core, and as long as that exists, social class will also.

    Unconditional acceptance is a very great and powerful thing ;)
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    Nov 16 2013: I think every human breathing is middle class, every human that as ceased to breath is working class and every human yet to breath on Earth or elsewhere is upper class; in terms of life as a quality of unity in motion and the natural hierarchy.
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    Nov 16 2013: Hi Cheyenne : "Beautiful name." I make this comment with true compassion. Regardless of ones religious beliefs, or philosophical persuasion, we are a collection of cells, a biological organism. We operate on autopilot most of the time. While you work, read a book, drive a car, even while doing brain surgery, your collection of cells, that is you, is collectively making judgements, and decisions about the survival of the organism on a microscopic chemical level. The (autonomic nervous system) for instance moves waste products through the urinary tract and bowel without you having to think about it. Your eyes blink to clear the lenses, and remove dust from the environment. Your lungs breath, and your blood is pumped by the heart, all done without you having to be fully conscious of the activity. Psychologically our brains, our thoughts, wander like any animal through it's the environment of possibilities seeking comfort, sustenance, and survival. These are the subliminal wandering thoughts we have bouncing around our head even when engaged in intimate activities of courtship, or conversation. Social class is nothing more than the (mathematical set )of collective organization of (benefits, or obstacles) to survival of the organism on a macro scale. Hence the organizational metaphor of (creme floating to the top). The same organizational decisions happen unconsciously on the macro collective social level as well without us ever really being fully conscious of it. Individuals with the highest number of beneficial traits will sort to the top of the bottle just like the cream, the rest will settle to the bottom.
    This is an ever changing organizational system that operates both consciously, and unconsciously on a societal level. Those collections of individuals who possess a mathematical set of traits, money, status, good looks, healthy bodies,sharp mind, political connections, inheritance, etc. will live in the luxury high rises. The rest will slum sadly
  • Nov 16 2013: Back to the specific question: Is social class inevitable? I think that there will always be distinctions of "class" but I do not think that there needs to be a wide divide between the classes. Most of my friends earn 10 times what I make. One friend got a bonus that was larger than my annual income and a second gets a check every New Year's that is very close to matching my annual income. Still, our difference in income is not so great that we cannot relate to each other's daily lives. We still have many things in common and enjoy each other's company. However, when a CEO earns a million dollars a year and the brick layer in his construction company earns $18,000 a year, it is hard to imagine that they would be going on jogs together or meeting up at the Country Club for golf. So, the "highs" and the "lows" need to be reasonable so that people can meet somewhere in the middle. This might be considered "eliminating social class" by some but it is more that things would shift from "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer" to "the rich stay comfortable and the poor have a chance to improve their lives as well."
  • Nov 16 2013: One way to help keep income differences from creating disparities in social status is to guaranty that every child, regardless of their family's income, can have true access to a high quality education. I support programs Like HEAD START because I think that access to education needs to begin when children are very young. One may be able to educate oneself but access to a formal education makes that journey easier. (I have not earned a degree. Yet, my closest friends are all college educated and all grew up with significantly more financial security than I did.) Still, whether self-taught or otherwise, access to education helps to make it possible for people to articulate and share ideas. For instance , when visiting with friends,I am able to relate well with most topics but when my friend who has earned his PhD in Engineering tells me about his workday, he has to slow down to explain how a transistor works. The same is true of my friend who has earned her PhD in Neuroscience, we can talk about her work but she has to sometimes explain things like what the hell a "blood/brain barrier" is. Anyway, my point is, that education helps people to share meaningful ideas and this exchange makes it more likely that people will be able to respect and appreciate each other. With education, differences in income will not as easily define one's social status. The idea of "class" may lose its strong hold. I suppose too, that this access to education could help to balance incomes as well. Also, if income did not impact social status, perhaps more people may be able to choose to follow their hearts without concern of how that choice may effect their social status. I have one friend who is the daughter of a surgeon, she excelled academically and breezed through her pre-med courses. It was assumed that she would go on to be a surgeon. But upon deep introspection, my friend realized this was not her path. She is now very happy working as an organic vegetable farmer.
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    Nov 15 2013: Some would have us honour the rich, arguing that their wealth creates jobs. In fact, the rich are indebted to us, the producers and consumers, because we develop, produce, distribute, maintain and buy back the goods and services which we provide and which sustains their wealth. Without our continued cooperation in our dual roles of producer-consumer, there would be no more wealth for anybody. That we continue to do the 'heavy lifting', without receiving a more equitable share of the proceeds, is perplexing.
  • Nov 15 2013: There will be differences but not disproportionally great in absence of disease or disability.
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    Nov 13 2013: All species, animal, vegetable and mineral, are the same. The divisions are for convenience.
  • Nov 12 2013: It is inevitable, unfortunately Social Classes is human nature, there is no way you can stop it from happening because communism is an idealistic world which only those born poor or very rich will support the the math
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    Nov 11 2013: First and foremost, we need to put an end to abject poverty and world hunger, as there is no reason for such atrocities when we have the resources to prevent such suffering. However, unfortunately "social classes" are inevitable, as it's human nature to categorize everything and everyone. Even if we were to narrow the gap between the "rich" and "poor," there would be numerous other factors of which we would divide ourselves over.

    As for solutions to this problem, I think globalization is starting to balance everything out by providing the framework for increased socioeconomic mobility. Granted, change is slow, but we are starting to see a gradual shift, especially with the involvement of micro-lending organizations and other groups that have made it their goal to end poverty and world hunger.
  • Nov 10 2013: There always will be classes, based on any number of factors, talent, responsibility, education, knowledge, money, etc. Take an orchestra, the 1st seat is held by the best in that instrument. Hence, a class structure is created based on talent. It is changed when someone loses talent or someone with more talent joins the orchestra. With money, it can leave a person quite easily and some people feel they are better than others because they have money.

    You asked a 2nd question concerning the problem. 1st classes will always exist. The question is not that there are classes but whether people can move from one class to another, either up or down. If we limit it to money, the question then comes in does the society limit the ability of people to acquire money and move up in class.
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      Nov 16 2013: Very well stated Wayne!

      What would our society be without social classes? Can you imagine being on a sports team where the outcome always ended in a tie? In order for there to be a winner, there must also be a loser. I believe the engine that drives humans to succeed would only diminish if there wasn't a monetary or social benefit.

      I'm currently going back to college to earn my Bachelor's degree at the age of 48. My motivation is that it should not only help me sustain employment but should also provide an opportunity for advancement. It is unlikely that I would have gone back if not for the social and monetary benefit. For the most part, we can choose our path and standing in society through the choices we make. The decisions we make on our employment, education, and how we spend our money are all choices. If society had a flat social class, it would likely be at the expense of having the choice to live life as we desire.
      • Nov 16 2013: thx and good luck with college.
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    Nov 7 2013: The tendency of groups of people over time to gradually divide into rich & poor has always been with us, and seems like some natural-human law. In the Old Testament God recommended a "Jubilee Year" every 50 years where all existing debts were to be 'forgiven' (cancelled out) and then it would start all over again on a more equal basis. Certainly the idea of "canceling debts" every-so-often has some merit if you want a more equal society.

    What is perhaps more important (given the above-mentioned tendency), is social mobility. In other words that rags-to-riches is still possible, and encouraged. In this respect the U.K is doing badly since the 1980s (since Margaret Thatcher was prime-minister). Social mobility has dropped severely, and it is this that gives rise to entrenched class division, as well as entrenched economic division. If people can't better themselves through hard work, then as hope is gradually lost, so anger and antagonism rises - which eventually leads to some kind of civc disruption.
    • Nov 8 2013: i would like to know more about this social mobility. how does this work? what does this solve?
      • Nov 19 2013: I think that a society that offers good opportunities for social mobility (the ability to move into a different class, ideally UPWARD mobility) is most ideal. Not all people have the same desires. Some seek basic comfort as opposed to luxury. For instance, some people seek a simple home while others want a mansion. I think it is fair to let those who want more than the basics, pursue these desires as long as they are able to achieve their goals without violating the human rights of others. If upward mobility was accessible to any hard-working, ambitious, reasonably talented person, I think that the issue of class would not be a problem. There would be no injustice if it was possible for every average worker to have the basics that they needed and for those who wanted a little more, or even a LOT more, to be free to work harder and get what they wanted. One could argue things like it is still not fair because their environmental footprint would be too big ... but I think that could be counterbalanced by those who chose more modest living in exchange for greater leisure time and less stress. Unfortunately, there is no magic line that can guarantee a connection between hours worked and a big fancy house. The odds are often improved, sure, but the very great majority of people will still find it difficult to move from poor to middle class or from middle class to upper class. I have heard that in the U.S., most of the young generation will have less wealth than the generation that proceeded them and that this is not because one generation worked harder. It's because of factors beyond the individuals' control, changes in the economy that began to shift around 1972. To me, this is the root of the problem: there is no warranty-backed guaranty to link one's effort with a certain reward. One may work very hard, even go to college and follow every rule, yet be STUCK in poverty. This is especially true when we look at the global quality of life inequities.
  • Nov 6 2013: Can you name a instance where socialism was actually practiced without classes? Even Buddha who did not believe in classes taught that he was different because he had attained nirvana. Seems like a contradiction in terms to me. Classes have benefits and the natural world is full of classes. I think it is more beneficial to strive towards a small and good community that works together and to the benefit of the whole community, starting with the family unit.
    • Nov 7 2013: so we'll just leave it be then?

      because having classes and being defined in one serve a self-interested purpose -- of only focusing on one's improvement and on his/her own strategies in climbing up the social ladder.

      is it even a problem in the first place, if i may ask?
      • Nov 7 2013: If it were a problem I don't think it would be so prevalent in nature, so I would guess no, it is only a problem if you think it so. "What you think you become"- Buddha
        • Nov 8 2013: but that gap is killing people. it strips the lower class from its right to live better lives. how can it not be a problem? how can it be simple mind-over-matter?
      • Nov 8 2013: Cheyenne everything is mind over matter, if you don't mind, it doesn't matter.
        The older you get the more you will realize that what you think is much more important than what "they" think and when you die you will realize it was all that mattered.

        "Nothing exists outside the mind for it is the mind that makes it so"- Keith W Henline
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    Nov 6 2013: We haveenpous capabilities of creating different classes in society taking different yardsticks , it's not only economics. In the name of religion , culture, color, profession etc etc we are able to create first class , second class , 3rd class ..... members of society .

    But yes conventionally classes are more correlated with economics and with our current economic model it is inevitable .
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    Nov 5 2013: It is inevitable in socialist government it is not in a free market .
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      Nov 6 2013: '... it is not in a free market'

      I keep forgetting it, this was due to what natural law again?
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        Nov 6 2013: In a free market the big kahuna is constantly changing in a socialist state not so much.
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          Lejan .

          • +1
          Nov 6 2013: This reminds me on a beautiful joke and its true counterpart.

          First the joke:

          What happens when you introduce socialism into the Sahara desert?
          10 years nothing, then the sand runs scarce.

          Now the true counterpart:

          What happens when you swop the drinking water supply in the UK from government responsibility towards free market mechanisms?

          1 year nothing, then the water quality drops, the price ramps up and so the profits of a view and the infrastructure crumbles, because investments are either spared for profits or done elsewhere to gain even more market control, to finally run drinking water scares in the UK. In the UK! Where people get born with umbrellas in their hands... ;o)

          A tsunami made by good old iron Maggy, the darling of entrepreneurs wettest dreams.

          The communist water I once tested during cold war days wasn't good either, so somewhere in between both extremes seems to be the best compromise for reliable, affordable and high quality drinking water. Social market economy would be the solution to me, as it worked perfectly fine in many respects and this not only on water.
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        Nov 6 2013: Socialism creates beaucrats who's main asset is their self created beauracracy/social position. Or crony circle.

        The free market creates individuals who create friends based on exchange and merit.

        By definition the bureaucrat creates scarcity in his empire building efforts, the entrepreneur creates abundance in his effort to make a profit.

        Peter Diamandis talks about a water purifying machine the size of a small refer at a price affordable to all and going to other planets for needed minerals.

        The standard of living of the world has always been raised by technology and the entrepreneur who creates it, this will Always be the case.
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          Nov 7 2013: I agree Pat, nothing beats the simplicity of stereotypes and generalizations!

          It not only projects the sense for security within an evermore complex and threatening world, but also stabilizes the illusion of orientation and meaningful purpose within it.

          Grey-scales are confusing and its use overestimated anyway, which not only allows to question but literally asks to remove it.

          Two poles: black & white, good & bad, Bonnie & Clyde, Calvin & Hobbes will get the job done!

          The good old charm of simplicity, who could ever resist?

          But 'always', Pat, is a pretty long time for something that fragile than humankind, and you may have a look at this again.
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        Nov 7 2013: Yes the truth is always simple. The infinite complexity comes from those who have a problem facing reality. Listen to the Diamandis talks, here is someone to be emulated, has no trouble facing reality, not a sad sack, and not only is enthusiastic but actually does what he says. This planet can use as many Diamandis as it can get.
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          Nov 7 2013: Absolutely, Pat, THE truth arrives exactly at the lowest level of simplicity needed for a mind to receive it. This is what its charm is about and so its beauty.

          And as you said, this planet can not have enough of it and on any level, as this is what makes the standard of living of the world a reality in even the multitude of realities for a multitude of THE truths. Absolutely!
  • Nov 5 2013: Class structure is a manifestation of hierarchies. We create hierarchies because we desire to establish worth and worth can only be determined by comparison within a hierarchy. Social class and economic class are sometimes, but not always correlated. Social class can also be determined by things like gender, conditions of one's birth, geography, individual abilities or talents, education, access to or control over resources, and so on.
    The problem is that while hierarchies can be fluid (one can gain education or wealth, for instance) class structures tend to be more rigid, so that changes in one's conditions do not necessarily lead to a change in class. If we seek a more equitable world, then class is a barrier to that. We can never (and I think should never) eliminate hierarchies; but we might try to reduce the importance of class by making movement within the hierarchies more fluid and easier.
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    Nov 5 2013: not sure of the answers, Cheyenne. Why are you asking these questions?
    • Nov 5 2013: i like socialism. but i'm not sure if it can maintain a classless society. care to give insights? :)
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        Nov 6 2013: Income disparities as you described to Fritzie is only based on definition and can thereby be changed and maintained as such as long as people agree on it. If this would define the whole of a social class to you, then this is not inevitable and only a matter of mutual agreement.
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        Nov 6 2013: well, I can give you my opinion, but to me it seems stronger to clarify your position. Cheyenne, do you want a classless society? What class do you consider yourself to occupy right now? What class do you anticipate you will occupy in later life, do you think you will be upper class, middle, or lower?
        • Nov 7 2013: because i learned that being defined in a certain class is downgrading to other people - not in a moral sense, but in the economic one - it causes a division among people. people belonging in the lower class tend to be more stepped on by the people above them. although these lower class people always have the option to simply not to feel too downgraded and rise above the judgments, they basically can't because such violation pushes them to remain in that class no matter how hard they try to liberate themselves from the abuses of society.

          yes, i want a classless society. but i'm not sure if this will happen and if socialism is the answer.
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    Nov 5 2013: Are you asking specifically about income disparities or about social class? Do you see wealth or income as inextricably connected to "social class?"

    For example, do you or your friends and neighbors consider yourself to be of a different social class than those who have less wealth or income than you have?
    • Nov 6 2013: i mean income disparities.

      if it's that large a gap, then yes we are of a different social class.