Sunday, February 10, 2008

Web Roundup

So in light of the Chinese New Year, I decided to look up my sign - I'm a rat, but a WOOD rat specifically, and it fits me with a surprising degree of accuracy. I've never bought into most of that astrology bullshit, as I'm decidedly not a Scorpio, but a rat I am!

(Maybe this explains why I like to stare at the train tracks late at night and watch the rats come out. Seriously, folks, it's better than the zoo. Sickening.)

Here's a googled profile, if you're interested. Let me know if you want to set me up on any blind dates with Water Monkeys.

Other cool articles about my new favorite subject, Class in America:

"A New Way of Looking at Race and Conspicuous Consumption"

This article basically says that if you feel you are ridiculously poorer than those around you, you won't even try to compete with that community's forms of conspicuous consumption. The author links this racially, noting that blacks are more likely than whites to be surrounded by those of similar (and smaller) incomes, which in turn provides an incentive for these "poor" people to acquire visible goods like sneakers, etc., that in turn gets them lambasted in outside communities for being frivolous and petty. God knows those sneakers ain't fooling ze rich peeps (that's what couture is for). Oh conspicuous consumption! According to my horoscope, my fascination with this subject is very rat-like. Do I smell an Anthropology PhD coming on?

"You Are What You Spend"

I'm inclined to disagree with this article on principle because of how its implications can be misconstrued as a way to revoke aid from the poor. These authors basically restack statistics of wealth to show that consumptions patterns do not vary drastically between the wealthy and the poor. I don't know how they got a $69,000 living expense average for the top bracket - they must have had to rule out a ton of those few-mil-a-year outliers to get to that conclusion. While I do think it is true that to be poor in the United States is a relative position, and does come with many benefits in terms of material comforts, what I don't like about this article is how it hides the assets of the wealthy. In particular the "financial flows" column has negative $10k for the bottom bracket and $55k for the top bracket. While the rich are saving, the poor are getting deeper into debt. Worse, the authors misattribute this outflow of wealth, implying that those dipping into their home equity are temporarily unemployed or on hard times, as opposed to being one of those families on daytime talk shows that has hundreds of thousands of well-concealed credit card debt (my first thought).

More on the weekend and drinking and books I read later...

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