Your name goes on your…

Thursday, August 11th, 2022

Rob Henderson explains social class through the example of where your name goes:

Working class: Your name on your uniform
Middle class: Your name on your desk
Upper middle class: Your name on your office door
Upper class: Your name on the building


  1. Goober says:

    That’s fine, but we really ought to do better as a society about making values statements about this sort of thing.

    They’re right. But then the next step always seems to be to sort of have this snooty, haughty air of disdain for the people wearing their name on their uniform.

    You know, the people who’s skillset is absolutely required to make our society run and operate? Yeah, those people.

    You can turn your nose up at a Sanitation worker if you want, but to me, that’s monumentally ungrateful. If you’ve ever been to a third world country where sanitation is not considered, you would never, ever have anything but gratitude that people are willing to deal with your nasty, smelly garbage for you so that you don’t live in a literal garbage dump.

  2. PM says:

    Cannot be emphasized enough.

  3. Lucklucky says:

    Agreed, Goober. It is interesting how culture more than market forces shapes salaries. Since most people don’t want to clean bathrooms one would expect those people would get a very large salary.

  4. Altitude Zero says:

    People with their names on their uniforms (like my father) built this country. People with their names on buildings destroyed it.

  5. Bob Sykes says:

    Paul Fussel’s book Class includes a top class that is invisible and unnamed.

    And yes, the guys with their names on their uniforms, like my father, built this country. But since the 1960′s, the Unnamed have reaped all the economic growth that has occurred, and have even clawed income away from the builders.

  6. Ray says:

    A variant on the article:

    A working class alcoholic is one who drinks more than his social worker. A middle class alcoholic is one who drinks more than his doctor. An upper class alcoholic is one who drinks more than the distillery.

  7. Jim says:

    Working class: Your name on your uniform
    Middle class: Your name on your desk
    Upper middle class: Your name on your office door
    Upper class: Your name on the building
    World class: Your name spoken in hushed tones among the conspiratorially inclined, baselessly rumored to be shareholders of some or another central bank, the beneficiary of unregistered common-law trusts of unknown size that may not be spoken of

  8. Harry Jones says:

    If you work out of the home, put your name on the house. Now you’re upper class.

    I am sitting in an executive office chair as I type this. It’s a crappy one from a bargain store with peeling fake leather and it squeaks.

    (I’d buy a better one but too many high cost items turn out to have shoddy materials in them. Buy cheap and you can’t get ripped off as badly.)

    It’s all signaling. There’s costly signaling, cheap signaling and fake signaling. Quality is just a word.

  9. Ken says:

    I will have to read Class: wonder whether I can get it from my library. I read Fussell’s Wartime, and while I didn’t agree with everything in it (I thought his critique of Herman Wouk smacked of envy, but I am willing to consider alternatives), it was thought-provoking.

  10. Goober says:

    Luckylucky, honestly, we’ve kind of gotten to the point where the people who are paid the most actually contribute the least to society, as a whole.

    Unless you can explain to me what a day trader, or a bank CEO, for instance, actually contribute.

    We absolutely place values statements on certain jobs. Sometimes it’s more just than others. Some jobs, like being a doctor or engineer, takes a massive skillset that is gained through years of study. Other jobs, like being a journeyman pipefitter, or a journeyman carpenter, take years of study through hard work via apprenticeship.

    But some jobs don’t take a lot of skill, necessarily, and could reasonably be learned in a matter of days, but they are absolutely shitty jobs that nobody really wants to do. What of those jobs? What of the guy that pumps the sani-can, or services the septic system? Those guys don’t have a job that requires a massive skillset. Their job isn’t terrifically difficult, just fuggin nasty. So, what about those guys? How do we get people willing to do those jobs?

    I would suggest that we could start by de-stigmatizing them. We have to have people willing to do those jobs, but if we’re going to consider them garbage people doing garbage work, then how do we think we’re going to be able to keep people doing them?

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