The Fallacy of the Middle-Class: Overcoming Social Resentment (VII). Ethical values exposed.
Have a beautiful first week of November. For Americans who read me, please go to vote. It is your duty to elect your new President. Let´s begin. Last week I am sure I left many of the intellectuals who read me with a perplexing view about the Middle-Class definition. And I have no doubt that some remarkably smart experts that follow me, are by now even incriminating me of a misunderstanding of the economic ratios. Nevertheless, since it is hard to digest new paradigms, I am convinced you require an explanation from me. When experts define Middle Class in terms of pppd (per person per day) with an income per capita by a specific household, what we get is a numerical ratio that is a fallacy, an indicator that is lying to us, because we believe automatically that all of us inside our families are “earners of economic capital” and that is not the case. Only the adults who are able to work and receive a paycheck per month are the ones who define the Middle-Class in terms of economic demographics, and we should not include in our calculations all the rest of the family members who are not working but are dependent on those who labor in society. Being said, this implies that all the population who doesn´t have a job (kids, teenagers, retired elders, and disabled/sick people who can´t make a living by themselves) are economically dependent on those who have a job.
The ratio income per capita (expressed in GDP per capita, or narrowed to pppd) can not continue being the “most relevant” or the crucial pivotal ratio that economists and economic experts use as the basic definition for a social class, and so forth for everything else. I hope that by the end of this year, you will understand why. At the moment I am disclosing things little by little because our planned outline will unfold it naturally petit a petit. Be positive please, nothing better awaits us than to correct our fallacies. Particularly in theories and economic indicators for the new generations.
For the time being, what I wish you to keep in mind is the social stratification definitions can´t be conceived as a demographic income “individual ratio” for the next generations’ perceptions. There are other ways to define the Middle -Class using demographic indicators, and particularly in terms of a family household income indicator, considering that demographics change over time, the number of job-holders per family, and the retirees who typically do not generate income. In many developing countries retirees can´t live from their pension funds savings, but they depend on their adults working children.
To belong to the middle class (low tier) in El Salvador is equal to be an average low class in the US. Over the weekend I prepared a simple example of what it means to be a lower-income middle class in San Salvador. El Salvador is considered by the World Bank as an LMIC country (Low-Middle Income Country). El Salvador may be used as a representative sample for all the LMIC countries in the world. I did all my analysis taken into account the reality of what is to live as a typical urban family in the capital of El Salvador, and I will disclose all the details (budget, expenses, lifestyle, etc) so you can relate to your own country. In addition, the Salvadoran low-income middle-class household (scaled to a five-person household) coincides with the lower-income median household income (scaled to a three-person household) in the U.S. States (2016). In one phrase, by the current economic standards: To belong to the middle class (low tier) in El Salvador is equal to be an average low class in the US (in annual income per household median terms).
We will arrive at the 7th topic of our outline in a few days, I will explain the next example fully with numbers, and you will discern it all. For the time being, let me share the slide (as an image and PDF file), so you can grasp in advance what are we talking about.
If you wish to download it in PDF click here:
Ethical Values of the Middle-Class: Our today´s objective is to learn about the ethical values of the middle class. Believe me, if the Middle-class (global basis) definition is confusing, be aware that the ethical values of this group are so ample and not well determined either. But we will try to establish a core set of values for the Global Middle Class based on the fundamental rationale that the Middle Class still maintain a purpose in life based on working hard to raise their economic income, getting married, having children & educate them at the best possible academic institutions, maintaining a family strong social group to end up being a respectable social citizen who cares for a charity cause (of a specific personal preference).
The family is the most important primary reference group organization in society. And families are the first reference groups for individuals. Ethical values are born in the family. Please remember, according to Kotler´s marketing theory, a person´s reference groups are all the groups that have a direct (face-to-face) or indirect influence on that person’s ethical values, attitudes, and behavior. Reference groups who have a direct influence on a person are membership groups, and these can be primary groups with whom the person interacts fairly continuously and informally (family, friends, neighbors, sports groups, and coworkers) or secondary groups (as religious, professional, associations, trade-union groups) which tend to be more formal and require less continuous interaction.
Why do we have to revisit the reference groups when defining ethical values for the Middle-Class? Reference Groups are a determining factor for individuals. As they influence the core ethical values, attitudes, and self-concept of individuals; they also create pressures for conformity that may affect the power of choice and decision making, not just in terms of consumption of goods and services, but also about every single action that a person will do over the next 80 to 90 years of life after naissance.
Regardless of the family of orientation (consists of parents and siblings), and the family of procreation (the new family created after marriage, with the spouse and the new children); the ethical values of an individual belonging to the middle class are directly affected and built by these two primary reference groups. From parents, a person acquires an orientation toward religion, politics, economics, a sense of personal ambition, self-worth, love, etc. When we marry, we also have to find the ethical values connections between men and wife, because these newlyweds will build a new set of ethical values for the new family to come.
In families, the economic circumstances affect the ethical values chosen by the individual. For a middle-class family who is not able to save anything, because the income only covers wants and needs; the values of this family will be different than another family where the spendable income of the parents is high and luxury goods abound at home. So believe it or not, the middle-class values are at these times, defined by income and money constrained. In the middle-class, ethical values come out tied to economic qualities. I would like you to analyze something that I have observed during the last 25 years of my life (and this applies to European, American, Latino, Asian families). This is a fact, this is happening, because during the last thousand of thousands of years people have been defined by what we have (our things, our house, cars, electronic and consumer goods), instead of what we are (our mind intelligence, stage of education, cultivation of spirit, feelings, attitudes, and behavior).
Anyway, before closing this post, Eleonora Escalante Strategy, in general, considers that the most common ethical values that we can find in the middle-class families (family of orientation and procreation) are:
- Sincerity: Expressed in terms as do not lie, be transparent, honest, wholesome, reliable, accountable, and direct.
- Persistence: Formulated in terms as do not give up, passion to achieve, study hard, and work strenuously for goals, endeavor to study to become intelligent.
- Courage under suffering: the virtue of courage springs up only when we are able to face our fears in the middle of vicissitudes, with self-control and valiantly we act upon to resolve those difficult situations. Genuine courage is also perceived in the middle-class, in times of difficulties, and is tied to three other virtues: wisdom, patience, and perseverance.
- Love and Kindness: The middle class is usually full of deep expressions and tender feelings of affection towards others. This feeling is expressed in actions and many terms of endearment. The devotion and fondness of love in terms of protection for families are treasured. Kindness is also expressed not just at the romantic level, but on the non-sexual and societal levels.
Nevertheless, the Middle-Class also holds specific antivalues or moral vices:
- Ambiguity: When you are in the middle of two extremes, the moral ambiguity or doubtfulness of your values expressed in actions and thoughts are abundant. Middle-Class people are full of uncertainty, and that lack of definition in terms of economics is also displayed in terms of values, because middle-class citizens are always open to more than one interpretation, always unclear or misleading. Parents with ambiguous instructions create kids with more enigmatic doubts and lack of self-esteem who will always stick to the values of aspirational groups of reference in their quest for each social, political, economic, or cultural capital.
- Envy: Middle-Class citizens may also be full of envy, declared in the majority of phrases, thoughts, and finally in decision making when it comes to consumption. Envy is one of the worst vices of the middle class. That feeling of discontent and jealousy aroused by a desire for the possessions or qualities of other individuals makes them extremely resentful to damage, ruin, or even hurt other´s blessings.
- Fear produced by economic ascendancy: Once middle-class families leave poverty, they are full of fear, sometimes terror to be forced to return back to deprivation. This fear causes a null middle-class when it comes to risking for others or standing up by their ethical values. In addition, the majority of middle-class professionals are easily corrupted by criminal organizations, which in return may provide the economic capital injection to keep the achieved middle-class lifestyle and status. The fear of the middle class is so neurotic that it ignites other anti-values that are based on panic, such as extreme suspicions to the newcomers who have left the low-class.
Next post we will continue with the cognitive maps of the Middle Class. Blessings. Thank you for reading to me.
Sources of Reference will be provided at the end of the week.
Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. Other types of illustrations or videos (which are not mine) are used for educational purposes ONLY. Nevertheless, the majority of the pictures, images, or videos shown on this blog are not mine. I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.
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