I am of Asian ethnicity and I am female. Just those two seemingly insignificant facts ensure that I will never be in the highest echelons of society. But in all other aspects, my life is about as privileged as it gets. Of all the places in the world, I was born in the United States to highly educated parents. I have no physical conditions or abnormalities. Though I get a -1 for having divorced parents, both my mother and my father are highly involved. I’m about to graduate from the University of Michigan. While it’s not Ivy League, John F. Kennedy said himself that Harvard was the Michigan of the East. When I visit China, I am still hampered by my lack of male genitalia, but through my father’s connections, I am firmly entrenched in the top 1%.
What does the government shutdown mean for someone like me? Since neither I nor anybody in my family works in the government, it’s not likely to affect me much. When shit hits the fan on October 17th, and the country and possibly the world goes into financial crisis, I will most likely still be able to graduate and do a Fulbright. If the government shutdown continues until next year (highly doubtful), maybe there’s a slim chance the Fulbright will be temporarily suspended. In that case, I’d just do Princeton in Asia or a similar program. After that, I’d probably go to law school at Columbia or NYU or (a bit of a stretch, but hell I wouldn’t turn them down) Yale. By the time I graduated and chose from the most elite jobs, I’d be so completely enveloped in this so-called ( by Domhoff) “ruling class”, I would neither care about nor relate to the working class. I’d probably want to keep my “hard-earned” money and pressure lawmakers for more tax cuts. I’d say that the national debt was an issue, but secretly want to pass it down to the next generation, just like climate change. If I was wealthy and powerful enough, my children would attend boarding schools, Ivy Leagues, and continue in my footsteps.
If you don’t believe that this “privilege trap” exists, look at our government in recent years. How the hell did George W. Bush become president with a straight-C undergrad average? How was he allowed to spend $1.8 trillion on tax cuts? While it could be argued that Bush was an exceptionally bad and dumb president, even our highly intelligent supreme court justices are nonetheless susceptible to social pressures. For example, the Hollingsworth v. Perry Decision (over California’s Prop 8) can only be explained by the judges’ alma maters. Harvard voted 5-1 in rejection of Prop 8; Yale voted 3-0 in affirmation of Prop 8.
Fellow people of privilege, don’t fall into the privilege trap. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go to Harvard or Yale, but if you do, for God’s sake don’t keep sitting with your friends like you’re still stuck in elementary school cafeterias. If you happen to get rich and sit on the board of directors at a Fortune 500 company, don’t use your influence to continue the hegemony of the 1%. If you enter politics, don’t vote on party lines like you have no personal opinion. Pressure lawmakers to do something about the national debt. According to my political psychologist professor, we have three remaining solutions. First, we could default, which is the only option that politicians would even touch. But this would likely cause a global economic crisis. Second, we could print more money, which would result in so much inflation that $16.7 trillion wouldn’t be that much. Unfortunately, that would put the vast majority of Americans under the poverty line. Third, we could apply 100% inheritance tax and solve the inequality issue. Except this would never happen.
I leave you with a timely quote from Warren Buffet.
“There’s class warfare, all right. But it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”