As we understand the 18th Century European-American history, the novel assertion of our Founders, that “All men are created equal,” at that time, did not have the contextual meaning we now (morally and usefully) assign to it. It was, in fact, a radical declaration of the demise of the long, inequitable European institution of privileged birth. In the new Republican Democracy, no man was to be born to life-long privilege nor servitude; to a class status, assigned and solely attributable, to his birth. Whether an assignment of social class was, nonetheless, to evolve, albeit on alternative criteria, was yet to be seen.
After some decades of reading history, and from personal observation, we have reached the conclusion that human beings are, by nature, individually competitive and acquisitive and that as a consequence, economic and social stratification is an inevitable phenomenon. Upon the assumption that such conclusion is accurate, it would follow that the categorization of people based on socio-economic criteria like, wealth, income, education, ethnos, race, gender, occupation, social status may prove useful.
Various efforts to create entirely egalitarian communes or societies, even on a small scale, have generally failed, with rare exceptions such as the Israeli kibbutz. Karl Marx, in his Communist Manifesto,, declared that under Communism, society would naturally and scientifically morph into a classless society, ruled by the common man (proletariat). As far as we have been able to ascertain, no Nation (despite their name and protestation) or polity has ever existed as “Marxist.” The U.S.S.R, by bright example, held itself out as a Communist (Marxist) State, however, research reveals that, at the time of the inquiry, Russia had a greater number of managerial classes alone, than the total of classes in all the U.S.
In the United States, it appears, popularly recognized class differentials essentially stress wealth and business success as the fundamental criteria of class; the “Upper Capitalist” class, the rich and powerful, the “Upper Middle class”, highly educated, affluent professionals, the “Middle class”, semi-professional, some college education, “Working class”, “blue -collar workers, usually with routinized jobs and the “Lower class,” the working poor and unemployed. American freedom of opportunity, makes feasible a (hard-earned) mobility to a higher category, (especially regarding the lower categories).
The accepted criteria of wealth, education and experience, that constitute the main determinants of class and social stratification, appear to be empirically responsible for a wide variety of choices, in, apparel, television preferences, color of residential property, food and dining choices, children’s names, even pet names. There are in addition, discernable differences in health and medical care, creature comforts, and a sense of security. These observations may well be as meaningful to merchants, as to sociologists.
Since it is apparent that socio-economic classes are inevitable, fundamentally based on man’s natural inclination to be differentially competitive and acquisitive, care should be taken, where relevant, to support those who, despite their demonstrated best efforts, are in need of government support, viz., regarding sickness and childbirth, education and the necessities of basic life. In keeping with the traditional American emblematic pretensions of “equality” and “life liberty and happiness,” as relevant to the financial situation of bona fide need (ex., the “working poor” class), supplementary governmental assistance and special tax treatment would seem to be warranted. Unlike the members of the “Upper Capitalist” class, they do not have the unique opportunity to enlarge their assets in billions through opportune stock transfers.
We have never been, and properly should never be, a “managed society;” the free enterprise system has always been and should remain, endemic to our Nation. The argument, (especially by people who accept and enjoy so many governmental benefits) that compassionate capitalism, is a step toward a socialistic government is an example of gross and implacable ignorance. Socialism (not an epithet, as tactically used, but an economic theory) is the system of total ownership of business and industry by government. There is absolutely no existing candidate for high office that is desirous of that goal. Indeed, it is the very policy of compassionate capitalism that, in addition to being morally empathetic in its reduction of privation and poverty, that permanently keeps other non-free enterprise economic systems, from our shores.
We believe that a long overdue and reasonable, governmental policy of financial adjustment, between the wide diversity of American classes, such as the working poor and the hedge fund billionaire, is fair, morally appropriate and (if necessary to assert) completely unrelated to “socialism.” The approval of a policy of governmental extension of relief for fellow Americans who work hard, yet lack sufficient means to exist, by those who have the facility to amass more money than they could possibly need or spend, would be empathic and patriotic as consistent with the Nation’s emblematic tradition of equality.