Back in indiana, wealth was not really a thing. I grew up what would have been a middle class income except we had 6 kids so we lived in cycling poverty. I worked since I was 16 at one job or another to pay for every vehicle I’ve ever had, cycling in and out of debt to my parents, till I joined the military where I was cycling in and out of debt for the first two years to my roommate until I figured out a method of savings that worked for me and ceased having financial problems. After the military, I went to college on a mix of GI bill and student loans while working full time and still have student loans after 10 years to pay off as the value we put on paying scientists is pathetic at best. Not to mention the financial stress of the economic crash.
I moved to indianapolis and cycled in and out of terrible jobs for 5 years as I graduated at the beginning of the financial crisis. Everyone around me was in pretty much the in same boat as me some better, some worse off. The only people doing really well were people several decades older than me.
Then we moved to northern virginia. Northern virginia in an interesting area to say the least. DC pretty much spurts money all around the area if you have the right jobs and connections and so many people around there are loaded which makes cost of living in the area through the roof. Top it off that it’s a right to work state and minimum wage is the same as it is in Indiana, and one’s ability to thrive in the area if you haven’t figured out how to get yourself into one of those high paying government contract companies is very low. My partner had to spend time wasting her degree as degree inflation around here is also through the roof, educating children in enrichment classes, or to the parents babysitting.
The number of self-important entitled negligent parents who don’t really seem to want to actually take care of their kids and want to pawn them off on someone else was a massive shock. Many of the educational activities required one-on-one with parent and child, but the parents would throw a hissy fit when they found out they couldn’t just dump their kids off and get away from them, and many would just sit on their phones and expect the educators to babysit the kids for them, ignoring them. Educational “enrichment” classes are all the rage here, because everyone wants the “best” many trying to push their kids into the most competitive most rigid most structured schedule so they can have the “best” kid, claiming their child is advanced for their age so their 3 year old should be allowed to take this class that all science shows is pretty much psychologically impossible. Also children need to play and have some flexibility or they will grow up as uncreative and inflexible as their parents, who would be floored that my partner was good at basic problem solving and puzzled by her DIY skills and attitudes. They just pay someone else to do everything unless they want a hobby to be socially active.
Status symbols are huge here, so if you have the right purse you are given special status, as are kept wives who live like pets whose job seems to be micromanaging their nannies and au pairs which are foreign exchange nannies that can be sent back home the second one of these mothers gets a hair up their asses if the au pair assumes the child should be smart enough not to accidentally kill themselves or god forbid an older child take responsibility for a younger sibling.
Because of this mindset sexism is surprisingly higher in this area which was a shock than even is red state indiana. We have a shared bank account and when my partner took money out to buy a car, the teller just handed me the receipt to sign. I, a little thrown off said no, she needs to do it. The lady goes “oh that’s so nice of you, like I was doing my partner some great service and both of us were stunned, I was able to go “its her money” which confused the teller and made things rather awkward for the rest of the transaction.
Culture around here is pretty much non-existent except in little pockets. Culture has been replaced with materialism. Their malls are their culture spaces, or manufactured hipster districts pretending to be organic but designed by corporate interests, or they spend a lot to travel to go get culture somewhere else.
Sadly this heavy amount of wealth is also the part of millennials that are the target of most marketing, and are who most researchers stereotype as millennials. When many people think millennials, they think spoiled, self-centered, selfie taking, kids who have everything handed to them. When I think millenials, I think somewhat confused kids with good intentions and a great amount of empathy working 3 jobs with a bachelor’s cause they can’t find a steady decent paying job and they were lied to about how much they would make after school and they are just barely paying off their student loans. That is how a larger chunk of the millennial population lives than the also large but smaller than the rest of the millennial poption upper middle class/upper class millennials. People here also are just ceo’s or vice presidents based on what social circle you live in. In Harvard and yale business you are taught how to only socialize with the right people, meaning people who are wealthy or powerful and how to ingratiate yourself with them, and avoid the common riff-raff, or anyone below your level of income. It’s just expected you will get to be in that and the rest of your lowlies are peons and you know what is best, and it is a constant fight to keep them productive while trying to cut their wages at any turn you can.
Sitting on boards is a thing out here, and if you know the right person, you can make $20,000 attending 4 meetings a year on a board. Our DC metro leader came in to fix our crumbling subway system and had to boot 4 members of the safety board because they had zero credentials for safety they just knew the right people.
We need to begin looking at extreme wealth for what it is. A mental health crisis. Extreme wealth completely isolates these people as they literally can have no friends and they assume everyone else is after their money. They can trust no one but their most loyal financial advisors which is the closest thing they have to friends. the more extreme that wealth gets the worse they get. Their empathy is damaged because of this, and in their boredom they think that building even more wealth regardless of who gets hurt in the process means they win the game. 70% of wealthy people also just inherited it so they enter into the game as children isolated from the opposite extreme and barely understand they even exist. Wealth for individual merit is a great thing. however it leads to negative happiness, not only for them, but for all the people who could never be their friends as they are all desperate. This is why I am for the estate tax and heavy taxes on wealth and investment transactions. Wealth as a reward is a great thing. Wealth just because, corrodes the world and the minds of the very wealthy.
The rich make up a tiny minority world, they are kings and lords and disconnected from the world like celebrities, but their measure of winning the game of life is the amount of money they’ve hoarded. For their and our own mental health and wellbeing we need to increase their taxes or balance their comparative income to the lowest employee. They are so isolated and trapped in their own wealth they are lonely and neurotic. Unfortunately they have the power to take that neuroticism out on the rest of us, and the damage is incredibly real.