My husband and I had an interesting and thoughtful conversation with my daughter and her husband about sensitivity and empathy for working class people. So many of us, as we climb the economic ladder, forget how hard it is to struggle to make ends meet. This causes one to be callous about 'poor people' and feeds into the false narrative that we can all pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. This is a blame and shame tactic used by the wealthy against the poor. It does no one any good.
A few years ago I read two books that really shook up my reality: Nickled and Dimed, and Deer Hunting with Jesus. Two books on income inequality, how we got this way, and why it is perpetuated. I always recommend these two books as an excellent reality check.
PBS is running a series on the News Hour about wealth and poverty. You can take a quiz here. It brings up some interesting points.
When I was growing up, my family experienced periods of wealth and stability, and also hard times where money was tight and mom was cancelling newspaper subscriptions in an effort to save money. As an adult, I've always lived paycheck to paycheck, which was especially stressful when bringing up my child. There was a particularly stressful Christmas where I had no idea where I was going to get enough money to buy her a gift of any consequence. Then, by mail, my grandmother sent me a very generous check and I broke down and cried I was so grateful. She literally saved Christmas for my child and me.
So we were pretty incredulous that some people, as they do well economically, lose their connection with working people. We talked about how the people that have the least give the most. Time and time again we see it and hear about it. It seems to be true the world over.
I did see a great story last night on Sixty Minutes about "The Giving Pledge" wherein billionaires pledge to give away at least 50 percent of their wealth during their lifetimes. Featured were Bill and Melinda Gates, the woman who invented "Spanks" of all things, and our favorite Billionaire, Warren Buffet. The Koch brothers were not a part of the pledge. Big surprise.
How you spend your money reflects your deepest values. This is true no matter your net financial worth. Some people retain their values and use their money for good. Others use their money to build a wall between them and the rest of humanity. I'm an old socialist at heart, because sharing of the wealth leads to the greatest good. This is not to say there has been a successful socialist experiment on earth. We're still working on it.