I’m prefacing this essay with a personal statement: I’m in favor of money and I’m in favor of me having it, which I do not. Money puts food
in one’s belly, puts a roof over one’s head, and puts gasoline in one’s car. Without money, people die. I am fortunate to get a small amount of money from the U.S. Government, SSDI and SSI. If I did not have this, I would be in dire straits, if here at all. If I had a lot, I would have choices. As it is, I am forced to live by other people’s rules.
Moneyism is when an individual identifies oneself with their money. If someone has more money, they think of themselves as a better person. If they do not have money, they are considered scum.
Classism is about respect toward those of perceived class. Perceived class pertains to a college education at an esteemed college, to the perceived importance of one’s work, and to many other things. Classists believe in the trappings of intellect, but the actual ability to think clearly may not be part of the picture. Instead, it is the perceived substance of what one knows that is valued.
Moneyism and classism have a large overlap. When someone has money,
it attracts classists. When someone achieves something of perceived class, it interests those with money. Classism sometimes, not always, has overlap with racism. However, racism, since it is commonly accepted as a form of ignorance, is frowned upon by classists when it is overt. People of upper class will at least give lip service to proper non-racism, non-sexism, and non-bigotry. In fact, there is often overlap. But an acknowledgement of that will not happen.
One of the biggest problems the U.S. faces is the inequality of wealth. The middle class of earlier decades has shrunk dramatically, to be replaced with the rich and the poor. However, we are not just dealing with unequal wealth distribution. The opportunities to better one’s financial circumstances have been closed up, intentionally I believe. It is easy to feel like the wealthy do not want to see anyone exist other than their fellow members of the rich people’s clubs. Anyone who is making a good living through hard work is in the crosshairs. Anyone who is poor who wants to rise out of poverty through hard work is in the crosshairs.
Classism is destructive. Moneyism is destructive. These forms of meanness ruin people’s lives. These meannesses create anguish. These meannesses cause people to starve on the streets. These forms of destructiveness contribute to global warming by perpetuating the system of capitalism that begets devastating waste.
It is disgusting that there are some who own billions of dollars, who have fifty-room mansions, who have their own jet planes, have dozens of servants, while others have difficulty paying their heating bill, or who must go to soup kitchens to get a meal.
Money is like blood. Under an unjust economic system, if you don’t have it, you aren’t nourished. Your body cannot exist without blood. And you cannot live without money. You need a way of eating and getting shelter from the elements. Money provides that. It is shameful that the rich project shame on the poor, proclaiming that we are morally inferior. Maybe we weren’t born into the best life circumstances. Or, perhaps we did make some bad decisions. Yet, there is nothing intrinsic about lack of income that makes a person less of a person, and there is nothing intrinsic in wealth that makes a person better.
Jack Bragen is author of “Revising Behaviors that Don’t Work,” “Instructions for Dealing with Schizophrenia,” and “Jack Bragen’s 2021 Fiction Collection,” and lives in Martinez.