Inequality

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JasonL
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Re: Inequality

Post by JasonL » 16 Jul 2019, 13:43

This is the same argument we had in the other place. You can tell either tolerant of the back row story so long as the the back row white kid didn't do something that makes him Deplorable, like wearing a hat which to be fair is just like the holocaust.

You can tell an intolerant of the white back row kids story all day. Nobody blinks. Even if they have broken homes and no church - that narrative isn't unique to them and they don't get unique dispensation for it outside of super right wonkoville. It's essentially always somewhat their fault if they do bad things.

The way the narrative excuses back rowishness is not at all similar and the outrage at any suggestion of accountability is highly divergent. You would not want to be in the business of making one of these cases for a career.

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Re: Inequality

Post by JD » 16 Jul 2019, 13:45

nicole wrote:
13 Jul 2019, 17:38
I figure this is as good a place as any to link to a longish blog post about Christ Arnade’s new book, Dignity: https://theparadoxproject .org/2019/07/12/affirming-dignity/

I have a lot of issues with the front vs. back row framing itself, and my disagreements with the post go further than that. But people seem pretty compelled by this stuff.
I finally got around to reading it, and I was underwhelmed. There's interesting stuff to say about class in America, but this isn't it.
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Re: Inequality

Post by dead_elvis » 16 Jul 2019, 13:56

Shem wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 13:03
We tend to have this idea that smart kids are focusing on what's important (that is, doing well in school), and the other kids are focusing on things that don't matter. But, the other kids are focused on doing things that build social skills, which helps them navigate situations that might have otherwise given them difficulties.
I agree, and this was a rather depressing realization I came to in my late 20s. So many of those C- "popular" (whether front row or back*) students that gave me so much shit went on to do perfectly fine. I was like goddammit it's not that I was smart and they were dumb it was just that they were focusing on different things at different times, and it made me feel like a fucking chump. Not that I really had any choice in the matter, mind you, thanks to parents that had no social skills to pass on. Getting on that bus for the first time for starting Junior High I might as well have been walking into the Battle of the Bastards naked and armed with a nerf sword.

And it is, at least until after college, economically disadvantageous, which is counter-narrative. Pounding the pavement for a low skill summer job was an eye opener- no one knows, or cares, that you were a "good kid"- honest, hardworking, follows instructions/not a troublemaker. Success depended on knowing someone who worked there who could get you in, and that required a network of friends that those people were better at having. I only managed to get a job through a teacher.

*(and I also think this is a stupid way to frame it, would have been better off ascribing characteristics to "group A" and "group B". The back row was for cool detachment, which was as likely someone who pretty much knew the material instantaneously and didn't need teaching as is might have been someone who didn't care. The front row was of course mostly mormon)
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Re: Inequality

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 16 Jul 2019, 14:02

JasonL wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 13:43
This is the same argument we had in the other place. You can tell either tolerant of the back row story so long as the the back row white kid didn't do something that makes him Deplorable, like wearing a hat which to be fair is just like the holocaust.

You can tell an intolerant of the white back row kids story all day. Nobody blinks. Even if they have broken homes and no church - that narrative isn't unique to them and they don't get unique dispensation for it outside of super right wonkoville. It's essentially always somewhat their fault if they do bad things.

The way the narrative excuses back rowishness is not at all similar and the outrage at any suggestion of accountability is highly divergent. You would not want to be in the business of making one of these cases for a career.
Up to a point, I agree. The back row white boys are, for the most part, rural or live in parts of the country where the narrators don't live and don't give a shit about. Given the socioeconomic status of my own parents, I'd have likely as not been one of those back row boys if I had grown up in one of those parts of the country.

Thing is, there's something "white privilege" validating about the very phrase "poor white trash" and it plays out even in those rural areas and fly-over states. I mean, it's the prosperous, successful white people who came up with that phrase in the first place to describe its own racial members upon whom they look down as rednecks and shit kickers. If little Johnny's dad is a mostly or entirely absent alcoholic day laborer and his mom waitresses at the local Denny's and they live in a trailer on a dirt lot on the wrong side of the railroad tracks, Johnny's chances of growing up to attend college and rise in the world suck.

But they're still, on average, better than little Timmy who is in every other relevant respect the same except black because that's one less major obstacle Johnny won't have to face. Unless Timmy shows some sort of unusual intelligence or talent, no one is going to pick him out for an affirmative action ride to college or even suggest to him he can work his way through community college if he just gets decent enough grades in their crappy public high school to keep from flunking out. No one will be surprised if Johnny becomes a shit kicker just like his dad, but no one will make fun of him for passing his algebra class, either.

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Re: Inequality

Post by Shem » 16 Jul 2019, 14:07

JasonL wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 13:43
This is the same argument we had in the other place. You can tell either tolerant of the back row story so long as the the back row white kid didn't do something that makes him Deplorable, like wearing a hat which to be fair is just like the holocaust.
And wearing a hoodie puts the black kid in the back row, and makes it ok for a 30-year-old man to shoot him dead in some quarters, chief among them the laws of the state of Florida. And that's the difference; the White kid is wearing a MAGA hat so it's ok to dox him and some people will defend you. The Black kid is wearing a hoodie so it's ok to murder him and the law will defend you.
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Re: Inequality

Post by nicole » 16 Jul 2019, 14:24

Jasper wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 12:31
JasonL wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 11:43
There's ... something I'm trying to articulate here and I can't quite get it - about front row/back row. I don't like the framing but there is a cultural issue in the neighborhood. It kind of has to do with who gets to sneer at whom and where. So, let's make the whole front row / back row environment black american. Whats the socially acceptable story about the back row in that situation? What do we say about the front row and their struggles with the back row? Now move that classroom to west virginia or somewhere really white. The narrative is completely different. The sneer from front to back becomes entirely understandable somehow even though in a real practical sense the governing class features of the back row are pretty similar to the first classroom. From a cultural narrative standpoint, there isn't any sense really ever in which the white back row is misunderstood nevermind being the good guy - until you get some Hillbilly Elegy type things that try here and there.

So, I think there's something to the idea that some peoples awfulness is their fault but other peoples awfulness is entirely cultural or racist and they are victims.
Yeah, I was trying to think of how I wanted to comment on this, and this is pretty close.

I also find it interesting that right here on the Gryll, there's folks that, while admitting the framing is pretty clunky, are happy to point the finger at the other row to blame for the current political miasma we're enduring.

While the back row has the numbers, it seems to me the front row has had the cultural bully pulpit for decades.

As a kid, there were far more jokes and caricatures and disdain for rednecks, yokels, hillbillies, tradesmen, and other rural working poor types than there were for teachers, professors, and scientists. When I entered trade school, there was still the stigma that learning a trade was for the less intelligent and social outcasts. It might be even more prevalent now since the greater american culture seems to assume if you don't go to college you are probably dumb (if white) or should be pitied (if poc), to maybe build upon Jason's Moving Classroom.
Well, this is also all part of my complaint about how the breakdown doesn't actually make sense. What are the groupings? Are they:

pays attention in class vs. doesn't
family values education vs. doesn't
not compelled by religion vs. is compelled
not compelled by family vs. is compelled
moves away as an adult vs. doesn't
isn't interested in drugs vs. is
wants a picket fence vs. doesn't
urban vs. rural
motivated to succeed economically vs. not
believes problems can be solved by technocracy vs. doesn't
part of mainstream culture vs. alienated by mainstream culture
etc etc etc

I don't fall on the same side of all those breakdowns. So who is the front or back row anyway?
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Re: Inequality

Post by Mo » 16 Jul 2019, 14:24

JasonL wrote:This is the same argument we had in the other place. You can tell either tolerant of the back row story so long as the the back row white kid didn't do something that makes him Deplorable, like wearing a hat which to be fair is just like the holocaust.

You can tell an intolerant of the white back row kids story all day. Nobody blinks. Even if they have broken homes and no church - that narrative isn't unique to them and they don't get unique dispensation for it outside of super right wonkoville. It's essentially always somewhat their fault if they do bad things.

The way the narrative excuses back rowishness is not at all similar and the outrage at any suggestion of accountability is highly divergent. You would not want to be in the business of making one of these cases for a career.
I mean it seems odd because for most of my life, back row life was the one that was lauded in popular media and music. I’m pretty sure 90% of 80s music videos weren’t shot in an industrial park or factory as a way to mock the people that worked there. Back row kids (the white ones at least) are the “real Americans” and no one bats an eye. Call some racists deplorable and it creates an outrage.
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Re: Inequality

Post by nicole » 16 Jul 2019, 14:31

Shem wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 13:03
lunchstealer wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 11:53
But mostly it was because I was oversensitive and overliteral and didn't navigate the line between written rules and unwritten rules all that well. I was, in many instances, a prat.
I think this gets at one of the underappreciated aspects of the bullying issue in school; the role that social skills play in determining who becomes a target. We tend to have this idea that smart kids are focusing on what's important (that is, doing well in school), and the other kids are focusing on things that don't matter. But, the other kids are focused on doing things that build social skills, which helps them navigate situations that might have otherwise given them difficulties. I had issues with getting pushed around in school, but in retrospect, there was a difference between the genuine bullies, and the people who were fed up with their unspoken hints being ignored, and who escalated their actions as a result of frustration. I know that once I caught up a bit in terms of social awareness, most of them backed off, and some even pushed back on my behalf for the genuine bullies. It makes me wonder if we might do better addressing the issue by encouraging social interactions more than discouraging bullying, as such.
I'm also not talking only about bullying when I talk about which social group was dominant in school. If class time is mostly devoted to answering remedial questions like "what's a beaker?" (asked in my honors bio class by a girl who went on to teach bio at my former HS), that's not bullying, but it's also not front-row dominance.

(Depending on how you define front-row, because that chick is definitely a "successful professional" according to many parameters, is married, probably doesn't use drugs now, etc.)
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Re: Inequality

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 16 Jul 2019, 14:33

Yeah, well, popular culture and especially popular culture aimed at adolescents is always going to glorify the disaffected, the rebel, etc. because that's what every adolescent feels like even if she's schlepping her laptop from AP class to AP class. Four mop tops from Liverpool is a much easier sell than four toffs from Eton. Bruce Springsteen almost made New Jersey sound like a place you'd want to grow up and live in. Punk Rock, Grunge, even rappers may glorify wealth but not growing up wealthy and privileged.

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Re: Inequality

Post by Warren » 16 Jul 2019, 14:37

nicole wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 14:31
If class time is mostly devoted to answering remedial questions like "what's a beaker?" (asked in my honors bio class by a girl who went on to teach bio at my former HS)...
*single tear of saddness* :cry:
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Re: Inequality

Post by JD » 16 Jul 2019, 14:40

D.A. Ridgely wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 14:33
Bruce Springsteen almost made New Jersey sound like a place you'd want to grow up and live in.
Come on, D.A., nobody is that talented.
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Re: Inequality

Post by nicole » 16 Jul 2019, 14:43

Mo wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 14:24
JasonL wrote:This is the same argument we had in the other place. You can tell either tolerant of the back row story so long as the the back row white kid didn't do something that makes him Deplorable, like wearing a hat which to be fair is just like the holocaust.

You can tell an intolerant of the white back row kids story all day. Nobody blinks. Even if they have broken homes and no church - that narrative isn't unique to them and they don't get unique dispensation for it outside of super right wonkoville. It's essentially always somewhat their fault if they do bad things.

The way the narrative excuses back rowishness is not at all similar and the outrage at any suggestion of accountability is highly divergent. You would not want to be in the business of making one of these cases for a career.
I mean it seems odd because for most of my life, back row life was the one that was lauded in popular media and music. I’m pretty sure 90% of 80s music videos weren’t shot in an industrial park or factory as a way to mock the people that worked there. Back row kids (the white ones at least) are the “real Americans” and no one bats an eye. Call some racists deplorable and it creates an outrage.
I mean, what keeps getting pounded into me in these Arnade-related stories is that the back row understands the importance of "community" and family. Yeah, those definitely aren't valued in mainstream culture. I know there are tons of popular sites and magazines I can read about how exploitation begins at home and families are an oppressive social institution that should be torn down.
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Re: Inequality

Post by Warren » 16 Jul 2019, 14:45

D.A. Ridgely wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 14:33
Yeah, well, popular culture and especially popular culture aimed at adolescents is always going to glorify the disaffected, the rebel, etc. because that's what every adolescent feels like even if she's schlepping her laptop from AP class to AP class. Four mop tops from Liverpool is a much easier sell than four toffs from Eton. Bruce Springsteen almost made New Jersey sound like a place you'd want to grow up and live in. Punk Rock, Grunge, even rappers may glorify wealth but not growing up wealthy and privileged.
Wealthy and privileged doesn't have a problem finding an audience. While I'm not familiar with the individual childhoods of rock stars, bands like Pink Floyd and Rush (or for that matter every Prog Rock band ever) weren't selling themselves as underdogs.
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Re: Inequality

Post by thoreau » 16 Jul 2019, 14:51

Mo wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 14:24
Back row kids (the white ones at least) are the “real Americans” and no one bats an eye. Call some racists deplorable and it creates an outrage.
Yep. I can gripe all day about smug liberals, but I fucking hate the "Real America" crap.
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Re: Inequality

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 16 Jul 2019, 15:05

Warren wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 14:45
D.A. Ridgely wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 14:33
Yeah, well, popular culture and especially popular culture aimed at adolescents is always going to glorify the disaffected, the rebel, etc. because that's what every adolescent feels like even if she's schlepping her laptop from AP class to AP class. Four mop tops from Liverpool is a much easier sell than four toffs from Eton. Bruce Springsteen almost made New Jersey sound like a place you'd want to grow up and live in. Punk Rock, Grunge, even rappers may glorify wealth but not growing up wealthy and privileged.
Wealthy and privileged doesn't have a problem finding an audience. While I'm not familiar with the individual childhoods of rock stars, bands like Pink Floyd and Rush (or for that matter every Prog Rock band ever) weren't selling themselves as underdogs.
No, they were selling themselves as having opted out of the rarefied culture of high art to become rockers. I'm not saying there haven't been privileged kids who grew up to become rock or pop stars or that there have been no pop acts that flaunted (newfound) wealth and privilege. But Brian May's name on the Queen posters didn't read "Brian May, PhD," Kris Kristofferson didn't bill himself in honky-tonks as "Pomona College graduate and Rhodes Scholar, Kris Kristofferson," etc.

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Re: Inequality

Post by lunchstealer » 16 Jul 2019, 15:12

D.A. Ridgely wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 13:27
Mo wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 07:26
JasonL wrote:Just for color, median US household net worth is like $68k. Top quintile is like $630k.
That top quintile seems very high.
It seems high that the top fifth of U.S. households have a net worth of $630k? Including home equity, retirement savings of whatever sort, etc?
When I first misread it as 'income' rather than 'net worth' (because skimming a sentence and ignoring whole words is my brain's jam) I started to say wow that's way too high, started to go research what the actual numbers were (the median net worth is only about $7-8k off from the median income). So if that's where Mo was coming from, then yeah, the income numbers are around $61k/$115k instead of $68k/$630k. In that analysis, the bottom number is right to the first significant digit and the second is off by five in the first significant digit.
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Re: Inequality

Post by lunchstealer » 16 Jul 2019, 15:15

Aresen wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 12:49
After reading the above, the whole thing seems way over-simplified. In any school with more than 500 students I have ever seen, there are numerous cliques and factions:
The Grinds - the kids who study hard and are serious about school, but at least socially functional.
The Nerds/dweebs - social outcasts interested in strange stuff. Not necessarily kids who get good grades.
The Jocks - school team members
The Cool Kids - the school elite who set the social rules and generally make life miserable for the nerds/dweebs.
The Punks - wannabee tough guys and their 'chicks.' Generally follow the Cool Kids' lead (even though the two groups despise each other), but more physical.
The Normals - not really a faction, but just the main group that didn't stand out in any way or do anything in particular.

The factions were not set in stone and there was some movement around the edges, especially due to the turnover as kids graduated and new kids entered the school.

Money was a factor, especially among the Cool Kids, but didn't absolutely determine which group you were in. Also, in really large schools, the Cool Kids, Punks, and Jocks could have internal divisions, generally mutually antagonistic.
Yeah, if your school is >1000 people, every one of those factions had cliques within those factions who might hate each other more than they hate the enemy factions.
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Re: Inequality

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 16 Jul 2019, 15:32

When I was in junior high school (middle school these days), that was the height of school social stratification and it was pretty much divided into two actual, discernible social groups with everyone else just blending into the masses, trying to survive the horrors of those years. The greasers were one such group, complete with white tee shirts, etc. and the collegiate crowd (the clique) were the other.

Mostly, it was about clothes and what lunch table you could sit at, though it seemed at the time that it was about being working class or upper-middle class. I hasten to add that in those days those cafeteria tables were also segregated, by choice, racially, and that the black kids all sat together in a cluster of tables in one corner of the cafeteria. No doubt, there was social stratifying going on there, too, but I wasn't privy to any of it. Jocks were sort of free agents. Yeah, the football team and the other team sports guys would typically sit at their own table, but they could also join the greasers or the clique if, sports aside, that was how they self-identified.

Much of that simply disappeared in our over 1,000 student high school, though of course the jocks remained a discernible group apart from the rest of us, as did the cheerleaders. Also, the 60s had kicked in for real by 1966, so now there was a third discernible social caste: the hippies. (I moved seamlessly from the clique to the hippies by the end of 10th grade.) But multiple lunch periods made it impossible to use the cafeteria as a visible and definite method of social sorting. And, of course, the irony is that a good number of the "greasers" went on to college while, e.g., one of the most popular of the collegiate set (with "Princeton or Bust" written on his loose-leaf binder) ended up as a clothing salesman the rest of his life after high school.

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Re: Inequality

Post by Jasper » 16 Jul 2019, 16:00

And then D. A.s' friend "The Fonz" jumped a shark on water skis, and the whole town came together.
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Re: Inequality

Post by JD » 16 Jul 2019, 16:33

D.A. Ridgely wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 15:32
one of the most popular of the collegiate set (with "Princeton or Bust" written on his loose-leaf binder) ended up as a clothing salesman the rest of his life after high school.
Well, the "or" statement wasn't wrong, I guess.
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Re: Inequality

Post by Eric the .5b » 16 Jul 2019, 17:56

I'm just amused at this whole bullshit think-piece dichotomy because my experience was like Nicole's. The "back row" people in my high school (at least in mainstream classes*) might have ended up Trump voters—the ones that aren't in prison or dead now, at least. They weren't the regular Americans, they were the stoners and the thugs** already merrily in contact with the justice system.







* Because the "back row" people in gifted classes were, um, also nerds, just the ones who liked renn fairs and 70s punk and who would have liked to posture about defying authority, but the English teacher was a sweet ex-hippie who it would have felt like kicking a puppy to give a hard time....
** If we're allowed to apply that to white guys, anymore.
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Re: Inequality

Post by Dangerman » 16 Jul 2019, 18:31

I can't tell if we're talking about the actual people we actually knew who sat in the back row, or if we're talking about the people who are outside of acceptable definitions of success like the that the article describes.

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Re: Inequality

Post by dead_elvis » 16 Jul 2019, 18:41

Warren wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 14:45
While I'm not familiar with the individual childhoods of rock stars, bands like Pink Floyd and Rush (or for that matter every Prog Rock band ever) weren't selling themselves as underdogs.
Keeping in mind Rush first got themselves on the map with a song called "Working Man".
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Re: Inequality

Post by Painboy » 16 Jul 2019, 19:27

nicole wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 14:24
Jasper wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 12:31
JasonL wrote:
16 Jul 2019, 11:43
There's ... something I'm trying to articulate here and I can't quite get it - about front row/back row. I don't like the framing but there is a cultural issue in the neighborhood. It kind of has to do with who gets to sneer at whom and where. So, let's make the whole front row / back row environment black american. Whats the socially acceptable story about the back row in that situation? What do we say about the front row and their struggles with the back row? Now move that classroom to west virginia or somewhere really white. The narrative is completely different. The sneer from front to back becomes entirely understandable somehow even though in a real practical sense the governing class features of the back row are pretty similar to the first classroom. From a cultural narrative standpoint, there isn't any sense really ever in which the white back row is misunderstood nevermind being the good guy - until you get some Hillbilly Elegy type things that try here and there.

So, I think there's something to the idea that some peoples awfulness is their fault but other peoples awfulness is entirely cultural or racist and they are victims.
Yeah, I was trying to think of how I wanted to comment on this, and this is pretty close.

I also find it interesting that right here on the Gryll, there's folks that, while admitting the framing is pretty clunky, are happy to point the finger at the other row to blame for the current political miasma we're enduring.

While the back row has the numbers, it seems to me the front row has had the cultural bully pulpit for decades.

As a kid, there were far more jokes and caricatures and disdain for rednecks, yokels, hillbillies, tradesmen, and other rural working poor types than there were for teachers, professors, and scientists. When I entered trade school, there was still the stigma that learning a trade was for the less intelligent and social outcasts. It might be even more prevalent now since the greater american culture seems to assume if you don't go to college you are probably dumb (if white) or should be pitied (if poc), to maybe build upon Jason's Moving Classroom.
Well, this is also all part of my complaint about how the breakdown doesn't actually make sense. What are the groupings? Are they:

pays attention in class vs. doesn't
family values education vs. doesn't
not compelled by religion vs. is compelled
not compelled by family vs. is compelled
moves away as an adult vs. doesn't
isn't interested in drugs vs. is
wants a picket fence vs. doesn't
urban vs. rural
motivated to succeed economically vs. not
believes problems can be solved by technocracy vs. doesn't
part of mainstream culture vs. alienated by mainstream culture
etc etc etc

I don't fall on the same side of all those breakdowns. So who is the front or back row anyway?
I think this actually gets to the heart of it. Trying to make two opposing groups out of this ignores the large strata of people all throughout the country. It's just too big and varied to stuff people into an us or them category.

I imagine a lot of the perception of disrespect or sneering is the result of people treating large swaths of people as if they all have the same problems (and acting like they know the solution).

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Warren
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Re: Inequality

Post by Warren » 16 Jul 2019, 20:02

I mean, does anyone here find it a useful framework?
It's dumb out there kids, keep your heads down. - JasonL

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