A few quick links.

  • Eve Tushnet has a couple of excellent replies to my post on the SSM debate. The permalinks are bloggered right now, but maybe they’ll be fixed by the time you read this; the first post is here, the second here. Otherwise, just visit Eve’s site and read through the September 23rd entries.

    I’d like to respond to Eve sometime this week, but time is really tight so I can’t promise.

  • Trish Wilson, somewhat inspired by my posts, wrote a good post on the wage gap. And her post on wealth is a must-read, too.
  • Via Trish, I read this excellent post on Keywords about race and the wealth gap. Nothing is more important for understanding the economics of black and white in the USA today than wealth; do read this post.
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3 Responses to A few quick links.

  1. 1
    Seth Gordon says:

    Regarding upper/middle/lower class, Daniel Davies floated an interesting hypothesis on his blog (it’s way back in the archives, which are bloggered, so I can’t find the original post):

    You’re upper-class if a collapse in the economy as a whole is the only thing that could threaten your standard of living.

    You’re middle-class if a fall in the market value of work in your profession would harm your standard of living. (Think of all the computer programmers worried that cheap competition from India is going to make them unemployable.)

    You’re lower-class if, along with the above two risks, you face the risk of losing your physical capacity to perform the labor. (Think of a factory worker whose hands get mangled in an industrial accident.)

  2. 2
    Seth Gordon says:

    Aha, found the proper link, which is a good thing, because I described Davies’ hypothesis incorrectly. I’ll just quote him:

    I think that there is an interesting analysis of class based on exposure to risk, which creates room for that bastard entity the “middle class”, which famously doesn’t have any room to exist in class theories (like Marx’s) based on relationship to the means of production. Say we define three classes thus:

    • The “upper” or rentier class, whose standard of living is at risk if the economy as a whole fails to produce as much as anticipated.
    • The “middle” class, whose standard of living bears the risk of surprises in the production of firm-level business units (economic entities larger than a household but small relative to the economy as a whole).
    • The “working” class, who bear both of the above risks, but who are also exposed to risks associated with their own bodies.

    It’s not a fully worked out theory, so don’t take it seriously. But it strikes me that what’s bad about being a proleterian in Marx’s analysis is that you have to sell your labour in order to live, and a lot of what’s bad about [it is] that the fluctuations in your ability to supply it are potentially as dangerous to you as fluctuations in the demand for it. I’d certainly argue that one of the biggest differences between the working class and the middle class in the ordinary language senses of the terms, is that if you’re middle class, it’s not such a big deal to miss a few days through illness.

    Lots of other interesting stuff in that posting … check it out.

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