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Tag Archives: status

Leaving aside mathematical quibbles, in common speech we normally associate the middle with the average or thereabouts. However, when it comes to talking about income, the use of “middle” becomes so strange that it distorts public discussion.

Someone on, say, three times an average wage cannot sensibly claim the term “middle income”. The meaningful term is “high income” or “rich”. Those on greater multiples can be described as “very rich”, “filthy rich”, “obscenely rich” etc. etc. but NOT “middle income”.

Now, some rich people lay claim to the term “middle income” because they spend their money in a praiseworthy way (e.g. school fees, their home etc.) leaving little to spend on, say, entertainment and holidays. Such spending decisions might attract the terms, “prudent”, “sensible”, “family oriented”, but they have no bearing on categorization of income.

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Only the wilfully blind could think that there is something unique or even unusual in Fás employees confusing business and pleasure. The revelations from Fás illustrate the extent to which an idle “executive” culture with its roots in private business has lodged in the public service. Public servants are expected to behave better but those who see themselves as equivalent to people at a similar level in private industry have abandoned the service ethos and joined in a way of life which measures status and success in access to unearned consumption. This is not to say that that this form of white-collar theft from private companies is acceptable but merely to say that it started there.

The term “business class” in travel is revealing. Airlines realised that two conditions existed which would allow them to make money on this new notion of travel class. For the purpose of successful marketing the two conditions had to be in numerical harmony. Firstly, a sufficient number of travellers had the means to plunder their employers’ funds to pay for unnecessary luxury. Secondly, the number of such travellers was small enough to form the elite identity that the status hungry crave.