Stories from the New Gilded Age

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A couple of stories in the New York Times caught my eye this weekend, when I wasn’t grading some final papers for the year. One story highlights the impact of the recession on poor African-American families, focusing on Memphis:

Not so long ago, Memphis, a city where a majority of the residents are black, was a symbol of a South where racial history no longer tightly constrained the choices of a rising black working and middle class. Now this city epitomizes something more grim: How rising unemployment and growing foreclosures in the recession have combined to destroy black wealth and income and erase two decades of slow progress.

The second is an incredibly tone deaf piece about the plight of incredibly wealthy parents to teach work ethic to their children:

“As a parent who has worked his whole life and has had a little bit of success in my career, one of the huge life lessons I learned early on is the value of a dollar,” said Mr. Hayworth, whose bank is based in Coral Gables, Fla. “Particularly for children of upper-middle-class and affluent families, there’s no perspective on value. When the new Range Rover pulls into the driveway, there’s no concept of how many hours of hard work went into owning that vehicle.”

But the fact that she does not have to work is exactly what worries Mr. Hayworth and many other affluent parents. The recession and tight job market have made it imperative to teach their children the value of work. They worry about that, it seems, more than about any short-term swings in their portfolios.

Oh, the never ending struggle of the wealthy.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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