Living near a Whole Foods doesn’t make you part of the 1%

Cory Doctorow on Boing Boing calls shenanigans on attempts to cast arguments about privilege in terms of class rather than money:

If you live near a Whole Foods, if you don’t have a relative in jail, if you don’t know anyone on meth, you’re not in the one percent.

“We are the 99 percent” was a godsend to the left: a slogan that was “both inclusive and oppositional.” It united the legendarily divided left behind a banner that “put a relatively complex critique of class society in the populist language of American egalitarianism.”

A recent editorial in Vox argues that if you’re not living in dire, desperate circumstances, you’re probably in the one percent. If most of your friends went to college, if your parents only married once, and so on, the article goes, you’re enjoying one percent privilege and need to check it.

This is simply not true. The American one percent has a household income of $343,000 and up. That income is overwhelmingly derived not from labor, but from ownership — owning property, owning stocks, owning bonds and T-bills. These assets get more valuable as the labor of all working people — including the middle class people who constitute the 30 percent of Americans within driving distance of a Whole Foods — gets cheaper.

I propose a simple litmus test: Do you, or the breadwinner in the family, have a choice between working, government benefits, and homelessness? If those are the only three choices you’ve got, then you’re in the¬†working class.

If on the other hand you have enough investments and savings to never work another day in your life, then congratulations! You’re part of the (metaphorical) 1%, and probably the actual, mathematical 1% as well.

Exception granted for¬†pensioners and other people who’ve retired after long working careers. But the 1% is working on taking that away from the rest of us too.

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