The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

5 June 2005

The thousand natural shocks

As the phrase goes, I've been poor, and I've been, um, less poor. Perhaps on the global scale I might be considered "rich" these days, in the sense that I don't have to rearrange the budget should I fancy a cherry turnover some morning, but where I see myself is somewhere below the middle of the middle class. (Then again, in years gone by I've tended to see myself as somewhere near the top of the lower class, although we're not supposed to use terms like "lower class" in these hypersensitive times.)

Economic class, however, has a little more volatility than we're generally willing to admit, as a few hundred folks in Bluebird Canyon found out recently; a million-dollar asset can become almost worthless in a matter of moments. "Nature," we are reminded, "bats last."

Although I don't think I'd put it quite as baldly as this:

[T]here is a discernible amount of scorn, envy and contempt I have for people who, for no real reason of intellect or moral capability, have amassed wealth simply by sitting still. I like earthquakes in California, they are the only economic justice in the face of half-million dollar homes with 1100 square feet. I don't really hate the players, I hate the game, and I hate not having mastered it. I hate not having that thing easily as is expected of persons of my station. I wonder if I'll ever get over it.

Probably not: the politics of envy is now firmly established in the American system. ("Economic justice," indeed.) Still, no matter how rich you are, you can't afford to be smug about it; there are always forces beyond your control.

(By way of Xrlq in the O.C.)

Posted at 10:05 AM to Dyssynergy