Thursday, December 31, 2009


A blog I read recently pointed me to the best dissection of the state of the United States' competitive position in the world I have yet seen, though it is light on viable solutions. However, this section caught me:

As the lower classes in America experience these alarming regressions, wealthier and better-educated Americans have managed to re-create a great deal of the lifestyle of the old WASP ascendancy — if with different justifications for it. Political correctness serves the same basic function for this cohort that "good manners" did for an earlier elite; environmentalism increasingly stands in for the ethic of controlling impulses so as to live within limits; and an expensive, competitive school culture — from pre-K play groups up through graduate school — socializes the new elite for constructive competition among peers. These Americans have even re-created the old WASP aesthetic preference for the antique, authentic, and pseudo-utilitarian at the expense of vulgar displays of wealth. In many cases, they live in literally the same homes as the previous upper class.

Pseudo-utilitarian. A perfect description of how so many well-off people (myself included) think as we conflate our wants and needs. I love it.

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