How did we get here in The United States Class System?
I’ve worked a job since before I could drive a car. I knew that money talks early on and that it was the key to getting an education and the life I wanted for myself. My understanding wasn’t born out of greed, but rather knowing that money was what I needed to build myself up. It’s a curious thing to define a person by the money they make in a year, but that is the way our population is observed by corporations, the US government, economists, and even ourselves. When the American mentality is to measure a person’s importance in society by dollar value, it’s easy to see why the socio-economic class system is so fucked up.
We segment communities by personal assets, and then the government takes its piece of the pie. While I have no qualms about paying my taxes, I do have an issue with the bulk of the way the money is spent, and that low-income and working-class people are the ones whose money is getting lit on fire. Wealth inequality runs rampant through the United States.
It’s not just about paying a ‘fair share’ of taxes across all tax brackets, it’s about the people at the top using their money and influence to change the lives of everyday people right from under their noses. We know that communities of color are disproportionately affected by the decisions made by the ultra-rich. They donate hefty sums to election campaigns, hide their true value and taxable dollars in philanthropy, and use a plethora of loopholes to play the system to their advantage.
When I look at the US socio-economic class system, I always see Las Castas. If you don’t know what Las Castas is here is the definition:
The Spanish Empire’s Casta System sought to differentiate the various racial mixtures of the Americas. It dictated one’s social status, level of taxation, and legal rights.
And here is a hateful image illustrating the way people were classified:
This chart defined the extent to which a person could exist in society. It seeded internal hatred for other people and encouraged a breed ‘white’ mentality for the chance of a better life for their children. La Castas has long since been done away with, but the mentality has been thriving for long before it’s creation, and that same mentality continues to affect low-income and working-class communities today. Capitalism is the United States’ bread and butter. We are taught to support a system that disenfranchised people along the way. When our country’s elite are dependent upon our exploitation and voice disingenuous sympathy during election cycles, who are we left with for support?