- In your own words, what are the differences between wealth and income? What are the differences between capitalism and socialism?
In my experience, wealth is acquired from endeavours such as investment, owning shares or acquiring money from family. Income refers to money made throughout a calendar year by working class or middle class people, usually a fixed amount of money in which to work a budget within. Capitalism is the system of acquiring as much wealth as possible for the people at the top, whereas socialism refers to the distribution of wealth for everybody equally with nobody having more wealth than another.
- Many people say, “My parents worked hard for what they have.” Practice speaking back to this narrative from a social justice framework.
To this person I might reply “I’m sure your parents did a lot of work towards their goals. I wonder if you could think about the advantages your family had before they started work. Did your grandparents help you parents pay for their education?
- Pick an institution (eg. government, prisons, policing, healthcare, schooling, media) and practice explaining how class manifests in that institution. That is, how are the owning class, middle class, and working class represented? What kind of influence does each class have? For example, who does what work within it, who profits from that work, who makes the rules and policies, whose work is visible and whose isn’t? Who creates and benefits from the discourses that are circulating about class in this institution?
The prison industrial complex is a perfect example of how class manifests in an institution. This system seems to be in direct relation of slavery and the story within this chapter about Mr. Rich White and Mr. Poor White Strike a Bargain. Our prison systems seem to be filled with majority Black and Latino population and the working class white people are guarding the prisoners. Our most wealthy people privately own prisons and therefore profit off of them and use the prisoners labour to manufacture goods to in turn make more money. The work of the company is visible, sometimes the guards are visible but the prisoners are never seen although they make the products we use daily.
- Examine the Capitalist Pyramid political comic published in 1911. To what extent has the class pyramid changed in the past 100+ years? Provide specific examples.
The Capitalist Pyramid could be changed to the following:
We Feed All, We Work for All- Immigrants, Prisoners and Sweat Shop workers work the lowest and most dangerous jobs.
We Eat for You- Upper and Middle Class people who consume products without knowing who produces them.
We Shoot At You- Police Officers, Prison Guard and Disciplinaries.
We Fool You- Celebrities who reinforce the ideas that anyone can have everyone can make it.
We Rule You- Politicians and Business Owners.