Upper-Middle vs. Upper-Class--Where to draw the line?? - Par

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Upper-Middle vs. Upper-Class--Where to draw the line?? - Par
By Sheeprun (Sheeprun) on Saturday, July 31, 2004 - 04:56 pm: Edit

continuation of Part One

By Patient (Patient) on Saturday, July 31, 2004 - 05:12 pm: Edit

Thank you Sheeprun. :-)

By Massdad (Massdad) on Saturday, July 31, 2004 - 10:45 pm: Edit

Sorry about being late to the party here, but...

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Paul Fussel's excellent book "Class: A Guide through the American Status System" (Simon & Schuster, November 1983).

Read it. You will understand the difference between income and class. You will also have fun. It is quite funny, and hits close to home.

By Songman (Songman) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 09:43 pm: Edit

This past weekend my wife and I went to Nantucket to stay with friends. Our friends had a cocktail party and invited their friend who lives in their neighborhood on Nantucket. Earlier in the day their friend gave us a tour of his absolutely beautiful (vacation home)overlooking the ocean . The friend is 40 years old and went to Dartmouth and the Harvard Business School. He probably earns close to $10-20 million a year.

My point? He was curt and full of himself and he carefully avoided being rude yet clearly was not interested in mere peasants like my wife and I. In this case ,IMHO,this guy is in the upper class due to income, but in the lower class based on manners. so I draw the line based on class not necessarily income or assets. Funny I have found that the "New Rich" as a generalization have less class than the "old money" crowd.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 09:48 pm: Edit

You can't buy class.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 09:54 pm: Edit

The guy is clearly a jerk, but my back went up just a little lest anyone think this is typical of Dartmouth or HBS grads. A jerk is a jerk no matter where he went or what he makes. Classless for sure.

By Jenniferpa (Jenniferpa) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 10:06 pm: Edit

I must confess I haven't read the entire thread, but feel I should point out that it is axiomatic that if you have to ask what class you are, you're not upper class. LOL I apologise if someone else has already pointed this out.

By Songman (Songman) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 10:16 pm: Edit

BTW his vacation home is worth close to 5 million.+ .....funny we had an uncomfortable feeling about many of the homes we saw this past weekend. The thought that a vacation home could be worth $5-10 million is a world we will never live in. (I know "never say never") Unless we hit the lottery. It is funny there are homes in our town that are 3,000-5000 sq ft..and I can accept the fact that others have more than we have. I never get an uncomfortable feeling. (we live in 2100 sq ft home)Yet in the last month I have seen and visited homes that were 10,000 sq ft + and for the first time in my life I really felt like I was out of my element. An uncomfortable feeling! Just a middle class guy am I!

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 10:39 pm: Edit

Songman, you didn't say if you were in the same age group as your host for the house tour. Your post made me laugh, I just could see your smug host--no matter who you are, he loves showing off that house again and again. It is unfortuanate that he is not atypical. Yet your description of the schools and the money describes many people I know and love, and who would never think to treat anyone that way. I will say many in this generation who made a lot of money fast don't know how to handle it gracefully. Under peer pressure the wives stop working and turn their attention to children and homes. And when the kids start schols it's more homes. Even among the middle class today, the average new homes built just keep getting bigger. Your host, my guess, is an investment banker, venture capitalist or real estate developer. Most of his peers in industry live in huge houses and he's stopped thinking of 10.000 sq. ft. as obnoxious, although the Nantucket waterfront home would be worth much more if it were that big! Many of these guys get a grip eventually as the result of life events, but some don't. I don't know any, however, who do not become human, that are happy.

By Patient (Patient) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 11:00 pm: Edit

Hmmmm...don't disagree with what you say, but there are some awfully, awfully rich athletes, writers, actors/actresses, and so forth. I remember Clinton hanging out with James Taylor on Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard, bet his house is pretty nice too.

I spent part of a summer at Cape Cod at the home of one of my brother's MIT profs...it was a really, really nice old comfy house on the shore. Heaven. Definitely sounds more spiritually refreshing than what you had to experience.

By Ariesathena (Ariesathena) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 11:04 pm: Edit

Reminds me of a story my dad related... he was at a party with his father-in-law, who is very influential (sits on all types of trustee boards). So a professor approached my father and started talking to him. My dad mentioned that he was only there because of his FIL, at which point, the guy completely gave him the cold shoulder. My dad, trying to be friendly, asked what the man did. Turns out he's in diplomacy (teaching it). My dad then said, oh, you must know (fill in name here), he was ambassador to (fill in country) and now to (fill in organization name), we've been friends for years. All of a sudden, snobby prof. guy starts treating my father like someone special, not just the SIL of a guest. Hilarious.

By Wifecamaromom (Wifecamaromom) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 11:17 pm: Edit

I shall relay two personal tales of class...

When I was working my way through Cal Poly Pomona, I met up with an old friend from high school, she was on a full scholarship to Scripps in Claremont. Long story short, she had invited several of her friends down to her parents home in San Juan Capistrano, they weren't happy with so many houseguests. I called my Mom and she opened our modest home in Laguna Niguel to this bunch. We partied until quite late. The next morning one of the mob went into our bathroom, armed only with a comb, and she came out looking ready for a Paris runway. My mother only winked at me. I felt like the rich have access to really special combs. With my mother as a chef pied piper, these kids cooked brunch, ate brunch and tidied-up the kitchen. They sincerely and generously thanked my Mom for her hospitality.

Many years later, took my teenage daughter to a baby shower held at the "home" of the new mother's sister. My teenager's mouth was hanging open. The conversation at our table was typical of what wealthy people would say in a cartoon, "Oh, really these Calvin Klein sunglasses our sooo old." Luckily, we escaped early.

I think graciousness is a part of true class.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 11:51 pm: Edit

My guess at what this guy does was not based on who has money, but based on the comments. An athlete wouldn't have gone to Harvard B School and with actors, one would usually say "the guy is worth XXX." Just a guess!

By Songman (Songman) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 12:08 am: Edit

He is in investment banking. Large firm out of NY. I guess my point is that being a relatively conservative guy who had graduated from business school myself and a firm believer in the free enterprise system,the limits or boundaries of my more libertarian views were tested. I found myself thinking"how much house does one need?", and "wow this kind of money could feed many families",and even more liberal thoughts than I have ever thought before. I would probably need valium if I ever toured Bill Gates's home. However,I would defend someone's right to be wealthy and own whatever size home they desire.`

By Patient (Patient) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 12:34 am: Edit

Sorry about missing the part about business school, it shows you I wasn't reading carefully and only was focusing on the house (okay, okay, I was drooling).

Songman, I agree with you; I don't want to live in a communist society and I like our freedoms. But I applaud your budding social conscience.

I still don't mind how much people enjoy their wealth, but I don't see how they can enjoy it without sharing a lot of it. When I walk into Safeway and see a frail old man or woman, all alone, shakily counting out their change to pay for meager rations and knowing they are going home to an empty house and maybe even cutting their pills in half because they can't afford their prescriptions....there is no way that I can aspire to having more. And yes, in the heart of the Bay Area, in an affluent area, I see that sight almost every time I go to the grocery store. It makes my heart break.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 01:28 am: Edit

OK, I would have been shocked had the guy not been an ibanker. The age, the location, the schools, the salary, the arrogance. I've lived among them too long not to recognize the obvious. The ugly is back on the E coast. Patient, you and I are neighbors. Here in the Bay Area I find that the divide between the haves and the have nots is growing daily. People in 10,000 sq, foot houses are making sure to put up high hedges and keep the electric gates closed. So many middle and upper middle class professionals have been out of work for years now, and it is becomming clear that their jobs are gone for good. Do you feel that?

By Juliusmonky (Juliusmonky) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 01:47 am: Edit

I vacation on Nantucket yearly (was just there two weeks ago), and that's the impression i've gotten from most everyone there. You can't get a house on the island for less than one million. Everyone clad in ralph lauren and lacoste, driving mercedes SUVs. Me, on the other hand, while I come from a somewhat affluent community, am no where near the "class" of most of the Nantucket vacationers. I still love love love it anyway, and have actually met some nice, some wealthy, some not so, people. But the snobbery still remains. I guess it's just the aura of Nantucket.

In any case, I always have the same thoughts when I'm there. "Do they really need all this?" Not to mention the kids my age there usually awful. It's sad that he'll probably pass that mentality to his children.

I'm just curious, where was his house? I know the most expensive are usually near Brant Point (the Heinz place is there, and I was on the island when Kerry was), but Sconset has some amazing houses, and there are some houses in town with great views of the water.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 02:05 am: Edit

The thing is, if these guys pass entitlement and arrogance on to the kids, the kids are, to be polite, in trouble. You can't buy you're way into those schools dad went to anymore and his job requires those schools. The majority of those kids better hope there is enough left over for trust funds! Don't get me wrong, it is quite possible to be highly successful and quite wealthy while raising good kids with good values. But such kids are the exceptions and truly stand out.

By Patient (Patient) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 02:15 am: Edit

Mom101...I haven't been following the hard data that much on jobs lost versus new jobs created. I know that jobs lost still exceed new jobs and that no truly new business (like nanotechnology, e.g.) has been created that will suddenly expand the job market. I am by no means qualified to make broad statements about the state of our economy or the potential for recovery. IPOs are picking up a little bit, and it will be interesting to see if there is any ripple from Google et. al. or whether that is just one business and unique.

Also, my community is somewhat different from yours, though I guess close geographically, and we do not have many electric gates here. I know hundreds of families in our town if not a thousand or more--I don't know anyone who has an electric gate. Sure, I see a few here or there but they are the exception not by any means the norm. Hedges? I don't know, I guess so, just to honor each other's privacy. We have fences but we call to each other over the fences. (I'm speaking figuratively as well as literally.)

I do not believe that the crime rate in our town is different than it has been over the years I've lived here. I do not see hostility toward the wealthy. I see hostility toward unkind or thoughtless or selfish or prejudiced people. In my view, this is as it should be. This is a liberal and incredibly well-educated area and that hasn't changed in any fundamental way.

Except for the fact that I think people generally are somewhat more stressed than before, I don't see the great divides you do. Perhaps that is because we have a very diverse group of friends and family in the area and we know so many people and I feel rooted in the community.

I have lived here for almost 30 years. I have seen several cycles of recession and recovery. Each time a new industry arises. This is an area of extraordinarily creative, innovative people who don't give up very easily even when times get tough and I have a perhaps naive faith that new technologies, biotech innovations, or creative new ways of doing business will arise. It has never NOT been true that that has happened.

Will it happen again or has our economy fundamentally changed? I don't know. Certainly I see more out of work people now than 5 years ago, but I also see a gradual recovery. Time will tell. Still, I worry about the poor, the disabled, those always on the fringes whose lives could be improved by a little bit more generosity on the part of those people hiding behind their electric gates.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 02:45 am: Edit

Well patient, you have opened the flood gates by inviting the commentary of a Ph.D. candidate who is taking a hard look at what's going on here. I won't bore you, but in a nutshell, this is not history repeating itself. It's not another cycle. On the heels of the dot com bust we are about to feel the full effects of outsourcing. Companies now have a full understanding that they can't keep a lot of categories of workers in the Valley anymore. Office space is too expensive and they can hire technical professionals cheaper overseas anyway. I would guess that your community has many mid level engineers, programers, accountants and so on. Many of those jobs are going to India and China. When the next big technologies hit and biotech explodes, those functions in the new companies will still go overseas. And the back office functions that stay in the US will go to Peoria where office space is a fraction of what it costs here. Payroll can be anywhere. The venacular is "The new economy." Other jobs for the highly educated will come too, but there will be some pain. Jobs will grow in service industries but many professionals will need to reinvent themselves. Up until recently the Mercury News and the Chronicle have just run factual stories about company X laying off woekers here and setting up research facilities in Bangalore, but lately there has been some pretty direct reporting. I was telling a friend tonight that part of me wants to change thesis topics because the messenger is always shot! We will feel this deeply here. Yes, much of the area is not behind gates, but there is Atherton, Woodside, Hillsborough, Saratoga and they are next to poor and lower middle class areas of RWC, San Mateo and San Jose. There is a divide here that we're about to feel more deeply because the middle class are becomming involved.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 02:53 am: Edit

Office space in SF is cheaper now than it was over 20 years ago. Who would have believed that at the top of the dot com boom? Catellus is trying to get biotech companies to move to SF. So far no luck.
Patient, I believe you live in Marin (You can correct me if I am wrong). I do too.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 02:58 am: Edit

Yes, it's cheaper and there are hundreds of thousands of empty square feet, but it's still 20% more than Boston! Dstark, what drives the Marin economy?

By Dstark (Dstark) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 03:15 am: Edit

We are more diversified than silicon valley.
We can survive the tech meltdown. We are going to have one of the oldest county populations in the US. We have a lot of entrepreneurs, financial people, real estate people, executives, lawyers, doctors, retirees, etc. in Southern Marin.
In Northern Marin we have some of those but we have more policeman, fireman, teachers, etc. In 15 years we are going to have mostly retirees and our kids are never going to live here.
If the financial markets and the real estate market collapse at the same time, than Marin will have problems.
The population of Marin isn't very large, fewer than 300,000 people.

By Patient (Patient) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 03:19 am: Edit

George Lucas and Huey Lewis, right Dstark? No, I live on the Peninsula, although I graduated from high school in Marin in the late 60s/early 70s, worked there for a year, and my parents lived there for several years as well. I love it.

Mom101...time will tell. You seem to see an impending catastrophe and I don't see it that way. I don't really want to debate the topic. You asked, I answered. I don't have anything else to say and your opinion is by no means unanimously held--nor is mine.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 03:26 am: Edit

Actually Dstark, as I mentioned, I've recently looked at real estate in Marin. While I wasn't sure what drives it, it clearly is not technology. I believe there is much more intrinsic real estate value for the long term there than here on the Peninsula. There is only so much land in America like prime view land in Marin. My money bets that it will hold up way better than values to the South as things shake out.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 03:35 am: Edit

Yeah, I left out George Lucas and Huey, and Grace Slick, Sean Penn, and Robin Wright, Andre Agassi, and more. George Lucas was very shy when I met him. The people I know that have run into Agassi say he is incredibly nice. Tom Snyder is a very nice man.
My wife graduated from Tam in the 70's.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 03:39 am: Edit

Mom101, I would still like to see a shakeout in Marin so my kids could afford to live here someday. I also think Marin is a better value than the peninsula.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 04:03 am: Edit

When I started my research, I just assumed there would be an obvious answer as to what our kids' generation would do to have employment here and be able to afford basic homes. We all knew it would be hard for a kid that didn't work hard and go to college....How old are your kids and what do they want to do?

By Dstark (Dstark) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 04:32 am: Edit

I have an 18 year old going to Michigan. I have a 15 year old that has the ability to go to any school anywhere and hates school. He may be one of those people you see on the world series of poker. I don't know if he is going to play the college game. He might also be a late bloomer, but the college game doesn't like late bloomers.
I am going to sleep now, but how old are your kids and what do they want to do. I know that one is going off to boarding school. Any others?

By Songman (Songman) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 10:21 am: Edit

Dstark......."but the college game doesn't like late bloomers" ...I agree .I am dealing with the same issue also. And in a month he will be off to college. Yikes, where did the time go?

Someone asked my age earlier regarding my millionaire story- I am 50.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 10:57 am: Edit

Songman...Where did the time go?
This thread is about upper or middle class. It is so unimportant when you step back and realize that everything is temporary. We are all in the same boat. You can live in a 10,000 square foot house or a 500 square foot apartment. It is not money that is scarce. It is time.

By Kissy (Kissy) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 10:59 am: Edit

Songman- there was an interesting article in USA Today which addresses the nuveau riche of Nantucket:


By Massdad (Massdad) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 11:07 am: Edit

"You can't buy you're way into those schools dad went to anymore " but you CAN buy your way into top prep schools that prepare the way.

And, development dollars/alum activity etc. do still count for something.

Of course, if any of you had read Fussel's book, you'd understand that upper class have no desire to attend an ivy anyway. After all, why work so hard for a degree? Colorado or Miami give degrees and leave time for some fun.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 11:24 am: Edit

Massdad, I told a friend of mine that my son wants to go to Colorado or Miami. He said, "People work their butts off so they can spend a few weeks a year having fun. Then there are those that want to have fun for four years. Who really are smarter?"

By Chinaman (Chinaman) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 11:24 am: Edit

When my kid applied to prep school, we were not sure what to expect. On our parent weekend, we were liitle apprehensive first time. We found out that our lower midle calss kid's room partner is very rich (guess by last name and his location of the home address). But when we met the parent, they were nice and never talked about money. They invited us to their house and we would say that we felt very comfotable in their presence. When most of my kids friends talk about vactaion, they talk about foreign travel etc., for our kid it is not possible as we can not affford it. Actually most of these rich friends just not talk about money at all, they rather hide it. But sometime it does come up in conversations. that is the end of it.

By Idler (Idler) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 11:58 am: Edit

Massdad: pleased to read your comments on my old professor, Paul Fussell's hilarious book, "Class," though I don't think he says that upperclass kids prefer party scools (though it certainly wouldn't rule them out). I think his main contention is that money has little to do with class, though source of funds does; rather, that massive expenditure to rise in class is likely to fail. "Class" grew out of an earlier article he published in The New Republic, the title of which indicates his theme: "A dirge for social climbers." Incidentally, I think his best books are "The Great War and Modern Memory," which is brilliant, and "Doing Battle," his superb autobiography.

By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 11:59 am: Edit


The cases I have seen of wealth disparity do not involve flaunting of wealth but of a certain thoughtlessness on one side and resentment on the other. One case I remember involved a young woman describing how she indulged her craving for some treats. She quoted the cost of this indulgence and said:"It really costs nothing." She was saying it in front of another girl who was working 20 hours a week to help defray college costs. I could practically see her tote up in her head the number of hours it would take her to afford this indulgence that "costs nothing." The first girl was a very nice and likeable girl in most ways and did not mean to tread on anyone's sensibilities. I think that this kind of dynamics is far more common than the deliberate flaunting of wealth or exclusion.And different individuals react differently from not taking part in activities that are commonly shared by others. Some might yawn at discussions of expensive trips they cannot afford, some might be envious and some might be inspired to tell themselves one day they,too will be afford these expensive trips. And some really prefer to stay home.

As for the nouveaux riches, the proliferation of new wealth in the late 19th century gave rise to books of etiquette. The rise of yuppies in the 1990s was similarly accompanied by a renewal of interest in etiquette books and classes, shortly before yuppies ceded place to 20+ dot.com millionaires who prefered to work in their pyjamas or in sweats. Btw, I read a definition of a yuppie as "someone who boasts about paying more than list price."

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 12:25 pm: Edit

Btw, I read a definition of a yuppie as "someone who boasts about paying more than list price."

Reminds me of Ebay!
I wonder if people who hunt constantly on Ebay ever look to see what these things would cost if they were buying them new, or if the excitement of "winning" a bid is what drives them to shop there?

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 12:55 pm: Edit

Chinaman, I think the "class" among your children's friends at that famous top prep is because I believe you can't buy your was into them any more than you can into an ivy these days. At your particular school, I have been told that the applicants are assigned a number for how nice they are as shown by years of report cards, recommendations and the interview. The number is considered as important as SSAT scores and grades (which also have to be ivy quality). Glad to know it seems to be working. I havn't read the Fussell book, but my guess is that these kid's are the children of people like Songman's host. Many of the wealhy kids I know are smart enough, or their parents are, to know that wasting college will not serve them. And I will say that unless things have changed dramatically, it's quite possible to party away your four years at an ivy, rich, middle class or poor!

By Sfe (Sfe) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 01:27 pm: Edit

Patient - Your earlier remarks about how you feel in Safeway watching an elderly person count out their meager change resonated with me. I truly have trouble enjoying the relative feast that life has provided for me when I look out the window at starving people peering in. It makes me feel guilty - not smug or proud or something I want to brag about/show off.

I grew up on Air Force bases and so was basically raised in a semi-socialist environment: government-subsidized food, medical care, housing, etc. The highest-paid general received a salary maybe one order of magnitude greater than the lowest-paid enlisted person (no wealth continuum that stretched from Bill Gates to a homeless person - no CEO salaries 500 times the factory-floor workers). The generals' kids and the enlisted kids went to the same doctors, schools, churches. (Of course there were separate "clubs" for officers and enlisted personnel - it was not really an egalitarian society by any means, but the economic differences were VERY scaled down compared to civilian life.) And you know what? I LIKED it that way.

I don't like living in a world of haves and have nots. On the other hand I will confess I am not a saint, and as long as we live in an economically stratified world, I would rather my kids be in the "have" group than the "have not" group. So I jockey (I hope ethically) for advantages for them, all the while feeling that when I do so I have become part of the problem and am helping perpetuate an unjust economic system.

I read once about a project kids do in school, where the kids in a class are dealt tokens on a random basis. If you receive one kind of token (a small minority), you get to go to a big feast. If you receive the most common kind of token, you get to stand and watch the minority eat pizza and cupcakes and ice cream and throw the extras away while you get nothing. I think it would behoove all of us who are at the feast to remember how arbitrary that dealing out of tokens is - in real life as in the classroom project. It is not my superior intellect, charm, or moral stature that caused me to be dealt a token saying "middle class American" instead of "Somalian peasant". So what's to brag about?

By Dstark (Dstark) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 01:52 pm: Edit

Sfe, your post reminds me of something that Warren Buffet said. He admits he was lucky to be born in America where his talents matched the society. He admits if he was born in Africa, he would have had a very different life and would not have done well there.
Mom101, you never told me what your kids are interested in doing.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 02:03 pm: Edit

Yes, my kids, 2 very different creatures! I talk about 14 year old daughter here and her 17 yo brother, who has severe learning disabilities, on another board! D is a very strong student, self directed and one I don't worry about. She would probably say she wants to work in venture capital or start a biotech company. She, however, dislikes CA and enjoyed her time on the E. coast and in Europe much more and will not be willing to live here if she has a choice. My son struggles with academics but has good skills for a small business. His dream is ice cream stores or something along those lines. My best friend's son sounds a lot like your 15 year old. I think the CA system of cc to UC serves those kids well.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 02:14 pm: Edit

I also have a 12 year old with severe learning difficulties. Maybe she could work in one of your son's ice cream parlors someday.
I have told my son if he doesn't get his academic act together, he can go to College of Marin (A cc), instead of my paying for him to go to Colorado. He doesn't believe me. I don't know if I believe me.
It is nice to have a motivated kid.
My guess is you have spent some time on ldonline.com.

By Momstheword (Momstheword) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 02:28 pm: Edit

Songman, I know that Mr. Nantucket Mogul hardly needs little lower-class, poorly educated moi to defend him, and of course I wasn't there, but it doesn't seem fair to automatically assume his "curtness" was due to the fact that he was rich and impatient with the "peasants". Maybe he'd just been to the doctor earlier that week and discovered a lump, or something else was on his mind. Maybe he felt your resentment and didn't know how to handle it gracefully. I can't share the opinion/accept intellectually that anyone who has more bucks than I do is inherently bad.

By Chinaman (Chinaman) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 02:44 pm: Edit


Thank god my kids love the place. Both have actually lot more friends compared to junior high. Plus their ECs allow them to mingle with different people. Bottomline they are happy.


One can definetely take inspiration and work himself up to get more money, my prime reason to come to america.

By Massdad (Massdad) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 02:47 pm: Edit

Idler, Fussell actually DID essentially say that! Yes, the book is a hilarious read, and still hits close to home today, after twenty years.

I especially liked his section about cars:

upper middle drives Mercedes, BMW etc. Upper drives Chevy, Ford, when they drive themselves. The uppers' drivers drive the "car" for them. The "car" is also called a limo or a caddy, depending on one's social standing.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 02:59 pm: Edit

Dstark, in IMHO, you should mean it. I have a friend who made the same threat, Colorado too, didn't keep it and seriously came to regret his decision. Pulled the kid, sent him to a cc, kid got the message and got serious, later thrieved at UCLA.

Chinaman, I know my daughter will have more kids she will relate to at prep school too. She went to a summer program at one last summer and returned with a different understanding of what education and a school community could be when you were among kids passionate about learning and doing instead of watching the latest cool TV shows and going to the mall. And she was at a fine private school! We had never considered boarding schools or even looked at one before we were informed we would be wrecking her life by not allowing her to go. I was just blown away when we went on a tour and I'm so happy she will get this amazing experience. I'm curious about how someone like yourself, new to the country, got smart so fast.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 03:00 pm: Edit

Mom101, you are right.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 03:33 pm: Edit

One of the advantages of going to a boarding school is that the school rules and schedule is a great leveling device. Basically, you are stuck at the school and are dependent on the school community for everything. The rooms are usually similar, the school resources are equally available to everyone, and the school keeps the kids pretty busy.

Where you often see the differences in lifestyles and incomes are in the some of the top public or private day schools. You see some kids come chauffered or driving a mighty fine car. Others are bussed or a harried mom drops them off driving a beat up old car. There are those with cash always at their disposal, tutors to help with the homework, and expensive ECs after school. Others work part time for spending money or have to help out at home. The kids spend more than half their day at home--where the differences in environment can be quite different, whereas in a boarding school, they are in the same place.

Not to say that there are no differences. It's just that when you put the kids into a boarding environment, the home environment starts taking a second seat in day to day things.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 03:37 pm: Edit

It's be great that we've had many older friends and have learned from their mistakes and successes. I have no problem telling my kids what my continued financial support of their educational choices will take on their part!

By Mom2003 (Mom2003) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 12:29 am: Edit

Dstark, I totally understand the frustration of having a child wasting his or her potential. But I also have some qualms about holding money as a club over children's head.

I guess having been an unmotivated teenager who must have aggravated my parents no end, I see things from the other side too. My parents were quite annoyed with me and money was often mentioned in our home. The result was that I couldn't wait to become independent. Funnily enough, I became a highly motivated student once I was on my own as grad student and away from parental scrutiny. Life seems to work in mysterious ways!

By Chinaman (Chinaman) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 08:51 am: Edit

mom101: I just want to say that wherever I am, I owe it to my other better half and my kids and my parents. I have encouraged my kids to try new things. My kids have worked very hard and through common friends found about prep school, applied and got accepted. But their sucess even though is more academic, actually tied with their outside extracurricular activities. They have found some amazing opportunities and mentors who have given them help out of their way and offered financial aid whenever possible. Even though we can not afford to send them on most of the activities, my kids have never found any educational opportunity where money has been a reason not to go.

Thus I would say that if any poor or lower class kid is willing to work hard, money is not an issue at least in America. We are very fortuante and thank god for it.

By Songman (Songman) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 09:54 am: Edit

Massdad- ordering Fussel's book today. A friend also mentioned the book. Two endorsements is good enough for me!

Kissy- thanks for the link on the Nantucket article.

Dstark- Yes where did the time go?.....I am at a point now in my life material posessions mean nothing at all. (well except for my musical instruments) you said:

"This thread is about upper or middle class. It is so unimportant when you step back and realize that everything is temporary. We are all in the same boat. You can live in a 10,000 square foot house or a 500 square foot apartment. It is not money that is scarce. It is time.

I could not have said it better.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 11:00 am: Edit

Chinaman, I understand and am happy for your family. I also came from a humble background and several mentors were key in getting me and my brother to where we are today--able and happy to pay for those wonderful educational and ec opportunities for this generation! But I will say, it was my very smart mother who put me in the path of those mentors and opportunities.

By Achitoff (Achitoff) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 09:34 pm: Edit

Time is only scarce if we choose to view it that way. We have all the time we need to let our children, partners, parents, friends, and whomever know we love them.

I attended one of the best secondary schools, colleges, and law schools in the country. Don't mean a thing, and neither does does the price of my house.

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