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America's Nine Classes: The New Class Hierarchy

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

Eight of the nine classes are hidebound by conventions, neofeudal and neocolonial arrangements and a variety of false choices.

There are many ways to slice and dice America's power/wealth hierarchy. The conventional class structure is divided along the lines of income, i.e. the wealthy, upper middle class, middle class, lower middle class and the poor.

I've suggested that a more useful scheme is to view America through the lens not just of income but of political power and state dependency, as a Three-and-a-Half Class Society(October 22, 2012):

The three-and-a-half class society is comprised of: the "entrenched incumbents" on top (the "half class"), the high-earners who pay most of the taxes (the first class), the working poor who pay Social Security payroll taxes and sales taxes (the second class), and State dependents who pay nothing (the third class).

This class structure has political ramifications. In effect, those paying most of the tax are in a pressure cooker: the lid is sealed by the "entrenched incumbents" on top, and the fire beneath is the Central State's insatiable need for more tax revenues to support the entrenched incumbents and its growing army of dependents.

A recent Foreign Policy article on China's New Class Hierarchy: A Guide inspired me to assemble America's nine classes.

1. The Deep State. Mike Lofgren offered this description of the Deep State in Anatomy of the Deep State:

The Deep State is a hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the nation without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process.

I describe the U.S. Deep State as the National Security State which enables a vast Imperial structure that incorporates hard and soft power--military, diplomatic, intelligence, finance, commercial, energy, media, higher education--in a system of global dominance.

The key feature of the Deep State is that it makes decisions behind closed doors that the surface government ratifies and implements.

The number of people in the Deep State class is small: senior Federal officials (NSA, Pentagon, State, Treasury, etc.), Executive Branch officials and key private-sector players.

Membership in the Deep State class is not dependent on wealth so much as on relationships and power.

2. The Oligarchs. Oligarchy is in the news--for example We're Headed for Oligarchy--and a number of descriptors are somewhat interchangeable: corporatocracy, plutocracy, etc. I have used Financial Aristocracy to invoke the neofeudal structure of our economy.

Whatever word you prefer, this small class is more or less the top .01% who owns a majority of the nation's financial wealth. They essentially own the political machinery of the nation, writing the rules of legislation that is supposedly regulating their industries, taxes, etc.

3. New Nobility. This is the super-wealthy class just below the Oligarchs. They own a singificant percentage of all assets but do not directly manage the political process like the Oligarch class. They hire lobbyists to protect their interests and constitute an influential political-financial class with global connections.

4. Upper Caste. I use this term to describe the technocrat/professional class that manages the Status Quo for the upper classes. They serve in both government and the private sector.

5. State Nomenklatura. In the Soviet Union, the Nomenklatura were the key administrators in all sectors. In the U.S., the Nomenklatura are well-paid government administrators with security and power. Collectively, they administer their own share of the swag, gaming the system to maximize their pensions, benefits, etc.

Together, the Upper Caste and the Nomenklatura comprise about 9% of the 121 million households in the U.S.: roughly 8.7 million households who earn between $145,000 and $250,000 annually. This class is the bulk of the top 7%, i.e. the top 90% to 97%.Household income in the United States.

The top level of the Upper Caste (2.8 million households) earns more than $250,000 annually. The Nomenklatura and Upper Caste number in total about 11.5 million households.

6. The Middle Class. While others attempt to define the middle class by income alone (many see a household income of around $50,000 as qualifying), I define the middle class not by income alone but by purchasing power, benefits and assets owned. What Does It Take To Be Middle Class? (December 5, 2013).

By this definition, the middle class is the cohort between 70% and 90%--households earning $80,000 or more. Even this is problematic, because in high-cost cities $80,000 is not enough to sustain middle-class conventions (owning a home, two vehicles, etc.) while it may be ample in lower-cost regions.

This 20% comprises about 24 million households.

The lower middle class--what I define as having some but not all of the attributes of full middle class membership--is the cohort between 50% and 70%--households earning more than $55,000 annually.

This class also comprises about 20% (24 million) of all households.

If you think this is too restrictive, please read my above analysis of middle class membership. It may change your view of what constitutes middle-class.

7. The Working Poor. Roughly 38 million households have earned income but it is not sufficient to secure the basics of middle class life. Many qualify for social welfare programs such as food stamps and Medicaid.
This class is about 30% of all households.

8. State Dependents. Though often labeled "poor," those with minimal legal employment may be living better than the working poor, due to generous social welfare benefits such as Section 8 (housing), Medicaid (healthcare), child care, food stamps, disability, etc., and black-market sources of cash income. This class is comprised of the bottom 20% of households.

9. Mobile Creatives. This is an emerging class that ranges across many income classifications and thus cannot be described by income alone. Some earn Upper Caste incomes, others are Working Poor. This class is self-employed, free-lance, entrepreneural, sole proprietors with adaptive skills. They may collaborate with other Creatives rather than have employees, and may have part-time jobs.

There are roughly 5.5 million incorporated self-employed people in the U.S.; these tend to be professionals such as attorneys, engineers and physicians. These self-employed are generally members of the Upper Caste.

The Mobile Creatives (which include small farmers, craftspeople, independent programmers, etc.) number around 10 million, or 8% of the workforce. I use the word mobile here not to suggest mobility between physical places (though that is one factor in this class's flexibility) but mobility between sectors and ways of earning income.

Members of this class might take a short-term paying gig if the pay and circumstance is attractive, and then return to self-employment. They tend to foster multiple income streams and in general operate by the principle trust the network, not the corporation or the state.

Some members of this class joined the cohort involuntarily, as the result of layoffs; others pursue this livelihood for its freedom, flexibility (important to parents of young children or those caring for elderly parents) and potential for self-expression.

This is the "wild card" class that falls outside all conventional class/income hierarchies. It includes those seeking outlier wealth and those who have chosen voluntary poverty.

Though this class wields little conventional financial or political power, it has a potentially large leadership role in social and technical innovations. This is the 4% Pareto Distribution that can exert outsized influence on the 64%.

The other eight classes are hidebound by conventions, neofeudal and neocolonial arrangements and a variety of false choices and illusions of choice, including democracy itself.

I will end this examination of the Nine Classes of America with this question: which class is having more fun? Your answer may say more about your aspirations and worldview than the class hierarchy itself.


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Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:38 | 4707909 fightthepower
fightthepower's picture

Fuck you Rothschilds...

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:39 | 4707915 So Close
So Close's picture

To quote Carlin..  "It's a big fucking club.. and you ain't in it."

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:57 | 4708012 dontgoforit
dontgoforit's picture

The Beat Goes On - ain't much changed in 5000 years of human history.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:02 | 4708032 max2205
max2205's picture

Fuck.  Who has time to sit around and make up this shit.


Go trim your sidewalk

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:42 | 4708285 krispkritter
krispkritter's picture

Never cared for Class labels.  Those who do I consider 'Classholes'.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:14 | 4708453 Herd Redirectio...
Herd Redirection Committee's picture

Our thoughtleaders are actors, and athletes.

And not by accident either.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:01 | 4708026 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

Not one of Charles better efforts.  There are too many regional differences for this to make sense away from the eastern cities.  Also, income security is a BIG issue, and getting bigger.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:45 | 4708316 Tortfeasor
Tortfeasor's picture

There's that word It doesn't exist, not in that context. Nor is it owed to anyone.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:02 | 4708396 Dr. Everett V. Scott
Dr. Everett V. Scott's picture

Where do the enviro groups fit in? The ones like the WWF, Greenpeace, etc?

They are über-rich. But they also have what businesses and rich folks can only dream about: millions and millions of one-issue zombie voters, who mindlessly obey their group's directives.

With power like that, I could do some damage.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 16:02 | 4709188 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Carlin was almost right. The correct line, if you actually think about it, rather than just regurgitate, is:

"It's a SMALL club, and you ain't in it."

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:51 | 4708349 thunderchief
thunderchief's picture

How about the deserters. #10
Those that have left, are leaving or going to because its not America anymore.

Next the Dissidents, #11, don't worry Snowden, the list will grow.

Wed, 04/30/2014 - 06:37 | 4711186 Zero Debt
Zero Debt's picture

The road to serfdom is paved with good classifications of serfs.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:39 | 4707918 Ignatius
Ignatius's picture

Skip class....

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:44 | 4707948 Zirpedge
Zirpedge's picture

"Mobile Creatives" sounds scary, like people who use cash, hoard guns and precious metals and seek to exploit tax loopholes for "self-employment".

There is no such thing as self employed, YOU DIDN'T BUILD THAT!

We live in a society and are responsible for reigning in the so called mobile creatives. They need to understand the protection that is offered by a well regulated society.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:51 | 4707977 Ignatius
Ignatius's picture

Related:  sailboat

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:53 | 4707987 Caveman93
Caveman93's picture

Nomads...damned nomads!

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:57 | 4708014 elwind45
elwind45's picture

Mobile creative is a son or daughter with 50 grand in student loans and no major

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:59 | 4708019 Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

Or worse, a 'Communications' major.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:55 | 4708363 toady
toady's picture

Liberal arts?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:15 | 4708108 McMolotov
McMolotov's picture

I've gotten pretty adept at the "voluntary poverty" thing. I still pay income taxes, though. Need to work on that.

Otherwise, I'm barely a blip on the consumerist radar, and I intend to stay that way.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:23 | 4708155 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

Re: I intend to stay that way

Why do you hate Merica so much?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:29 | 4708205 McMolotov
McMolotov's picture

Because Merica hates me.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:46 | 4707951 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

Roughly 38 million households have earned income but it is not sufficient to secure the basics of middle class life.

What are the "basics of middle class life?"

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:52 | 4707983 Agent P
Agent P's picture

house, car, fake tits, etc.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:59 | 4708018 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

now that everything else is fake, the tits are more accepted

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:02 | 4708034 Agent P
Agent P's picture

I've said this before....

You know the worst part about fake tits?

Me neither. 

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:20 | 4708140 Agent P
Agent P's picture


Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:24 | 4708166 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

Clearance sale,   buy 2 get the 3rd free.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:26 | 4708181 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

What's the matter, you haven't seen a blonde dressed in a red wife beater shirt before? ;->

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:32 | 4708222 Agent P
Agent P's picture

I don't know if I should be disgusted or turned on...or disgusted because I'm turned on. 

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:00 | 4708385 Sokhmate
Sokhmate's picture

I don't know about 3-breasted women. But I personally am still fantasizing about the One-Breasted woman my high school teacher was (the breast was in the middle of the chest.) Less is more.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 16:24 | 4709265 Zerozen
Zerozen's picture

Total Recall.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 16:37 | 4709320 Matt
Matt's picture

I wonder if she is more likely to bear triplets, or if overall milk production would be higher or lower. 

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:56 | 4708697 RaceToTheBottom
RaceToTheBottom's picture

Boob inflation

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:07 | 4708055 elwind45
elwind45's picture


Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:09 | 4708073 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

I thought you we're going to say the price

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:32 | 4708225 Zymurguy
Zymurguy's picture

I've always said... " as long as they're real on the outside, who the fuck cares?"

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:15 | 4708433 dearth vader
dearth vader's picture

Most people can't tell the difference.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 16:40 | 4709331 Matt
Matt's picture

15 / 20. Fake in some cases are indistinguishable from lactating. Also, the pics are too small and 10 seconds isn't enough time.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:53 | 4707990 elwind45
elwind45's picture

Believing the bullshit in an attempt to internalize your place!

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:55 | 4708001 Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

Sleeping, eating, going to work.

And that vacation you've been wanting to take that's been at the back of your mind for a couple of years.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:33 | 4708229 Hongcha
Hongcha's picture

I spent the last weekend in Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach (not the nice one) and it was like a foreign country to me.  I damn near asked where the moneychanger booth was.  In Ft. Lauderdale I saw a rare and extraordinary sight - vestiges of the great White Middle Class Migration of ages past, partying on a Saturday night at the marina, with pension and boat intact.  Enjoying themselves.  Saw a couple of Camporees as well.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:03 | 4708037 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

beer and a credit card

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:43 | 4708634 cipher14
cipher14's picture

If you're able to buy food without food stamps and not worry about running out of gas before you get your next paycheck... your ass... is middle class. Those are the basics. Additionally, if you have a smartphone, cable, internet, satellite, netflix and can take a paid vacation and you're not on any type of government assistance and you don't have to ask Mom or Dad for money... your ass... is middle class. If you pay a mortage and have a car payment and have monthly bills for electricity, gas, water, garbage, insurance, and credit cards - and you've never been late paying these bills - and you never incur any overdraft fees at the bank? Your ass... is middle class.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:51 | 4707972 elwind45
elwind45's picture

The middle class is a made up term. Coined to group people in such a way to show a cosmetic difference between us and them(soviets)during the cold war. Its use anchors citizens to society by income and therefore instantly divides said society by its spending power? You are what your salary allows you to "spend"? 9 different classes and too much time on your hands waiting your turn at the MILKEN conference?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:14 | 4708101 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

Re:  The middle class is a made up term.  +10.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:51 | 4707975 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

Blah blah blah...

that which cannot be sustained, won't be.

Nature re-defines things like "wealth" and "power" all the time.

Keeps things interesting...

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:00 | 4708021 dontgoforit
dontgoforit's picture

Everyting changes - but nothing ever changes the same.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:52 | 4707981 therover
therover's picture

No class.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:58 | 4708015 Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

Try Stained Class.

It's the third greatest Priest album behind Sad Wings of Destiny and Sin After Sin.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:03 | 4708035 dontgoforit
dontgoforit's picture

Low class.  Math class.  Class act.  Acting classlessly.  Terminal classisity.  Fungus classification of phylum something or other.  Caste class.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:07 | 4708424 toady
toady's picture

Call me when you have no class.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:10 | 4708079 elwind45
elwind45's picture

Screaming screaming for vengeance

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:12 | 4708090 elwind45
elwind45's picture

Trying to make me see things I don't want to see

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:29 | 4708184 Hongcha
Hongcha's picture

+1 Skateboarder for finding a way to reference 'The Priest' in a thread about the Amerikan class system.

Yet another factor is balance sheet.  How many driving black Escalades with six iPhones and living in supposedly million-$$ homes in say Walnut Creek, have a positive net worth when all is said and done?  Not that many, I would aver.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:14 | 4708459 Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

Those first three albums have timeless tunes and lyrics. If there's one bad that told the human story properly, it is Judas Priest.

I have relatives in Danville - nice house in nice hood, two kids going to 30-40K/yr private school. Their standard of living is a result of my uncle being high up in the foodchain. For every one of that tier of worker, surely there are ten of the tier you describe, taking on piles of debt to match what the 'rich' are doing. Not many people in the SF Bay have positive net worth due to the fat mortgages they sit on.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:57 | 4708934 vulcanraven
vulcanraven's picture

Beyond the Realms of Death is one of the best Priest songs ever written. 

+1 to you sir 

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:54 | 4707994 Caveman93
Caveman93's picture

Class will be irrelevant soon when the USD hits zero. Were all be fucking broke in the end unless you have some assets. This article sucks.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:01 | 4708027 Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

CHS' income / lifestyle currently relies on this class structure being upheld. Why doesn't he say that out loud? Kind of a basic admission to make, non?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:18 | 4708123 elwind45
elwind45's picture

Like fake fits on a TP dress model? Assets hard or soft like in a mad Max film

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:01 | 4708020 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

There are two classes. The 1%, and then there are the rest of us who serve as fresh  meat to service their system. Some of us byproducts may have more or less than others, but make no mistake we are just cattle to the oligarchs. 

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:04 | 4708044 dontgoforit
dontgoforit's picture

Ah yes!  But they are just oligarchs to us!

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:31 | 4708214 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

Re: The 1%, and then there are the rest of us who serve as fresh  meat to service their system.

The top 10% are doing great.   And the top 20% are doing fine helping out too.

But, it's the people that still have loot that will become new members of the Prey Class.    The system will collapse only when the top 1% start feasting off the top 10%.   We're a few generations away from that yet.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:00 | 4708022 umdesch4
umdesch4's picture

I dunno that I agree with that criteria for the "nomenklatura". I work in IT, and just happen to make some reasonable but not extravagent money. My wife makes enough money to push our household income just above that $145k limit. I would consider us "upper middle class", but we're not exactly administering anything, or gaming any system. It looks like we might retire in something slightly better than a cardboard box, and I've had a couple of minor boating accidents where I've lost some gold...but that description totally doesn't fit us, or any of the other families I happen to know who are in a similar demographic.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:05 | 4708050 elwind45
elwind45's picture

Rest assured nobody fits in the catagories unless they are reassured of it

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:06 | 4708053 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

admit it, you're secretly controlling the economy

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:01 | 4708028 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

Just another pinko hippy who hates Merica, and the troops.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:03 | 4708038 elwind45
elwind45's picture

As long as there are wallets and purses there will be drama

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:07 | 4708059 bwdiii
bwdiii's picture

"the top .01% who owns a majority of the nation's financial wealth."

um, no.

>10% definitely would be nice,

1% is too close to the truth,

but 0.1% is a bit o' exaggeration.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:08 | 4708063 I Write Code
I Write Code's picture

I like it, but it needs work.

#4 the "Upper Caste" is ambiguous between the managers and the worker bees.  This is probably distinguishable on an income level, about $500k is probably the dividing line.  I've observed this for years, and a real divide opened up here in about the 1980s, that I don't think had a precedent at least in post-war America. 

#9 the "Mobile Creatives" should probably be eliminated, subdivided by income.  So there's still some class mobility, but being mobile is not itself a class.  Too many of the "mobile" class are either poor or maladjusted, "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose", it's not nearly as glorious as you seem to describe it.


I'd be curious to map the current classes to stuff in 19th century America, that probably had more class divisions than 20th century America.  Even so America has always had far more class mobility than most of the rest of the world, and that has defined much of American exceptionalism, such as there ever has been such a thing.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:32 | 4708224 elwind45
elwind45's picture

The situations are exactly the same! One person with the capital employees someone to build something he will never be invited to use once completed!

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:14 | 4708084 Joenobody12
Joenobody12's picture

I still prefer the 3 classes system

The 5% upper class who does most of the creative work.

The 5% lower class who commits all the crime, like Obumpa does to the US of A and the bankers.

and the 90% middle class who just sits there and eats.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:18 | 4708125 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

I like 3 classes too:


1)  Predator Class
2)  Predator Support Class
3)  Prey Class
1) The smart-n-savvy people
2) The people smart-enough to help run the scams but not create them
3) The dumbasses
1) The sociopaths
2) The adults
3) The children

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:15 | 4708788 icanhasbailout
icanhasbailout's picture

I simplify it to:


1) Them

2) Us

3) Idiots

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 16:54 | 4709389 Matt
Matt's picture

1. Rich Government Dependants (anyone who relies on the government, and lives well)

2. Poor Government Dependants (anyone who relies on government, but is in poverty)

3. Independants (meaning private sector, not politics)

Everything else is just degrees of scale.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:20 | 4708133 dontgoforit
dontgoforit's picture

...and drinks.  Raise you glass to the 90% class, gentlefriends!

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:14 | 4708094 q99x2
q99x2's picture

My class is having more fun. I have many classes. Today I go to two of them German and English. I am of a class that goes to classes over an 8 year period and then retires before ever working. We fucking rock dude.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:15 | 4708104 Bangin7GramRocks
Bangin7GramRocks's picture

"You either suck dick or you do not suck dick." - Andrew Dice Clay

The future will have 2 classes. Secure and poor.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:55 | 4708931 edotabin
edotabin's picture

How times change. I remember there used to be two types of people:

1. Those that liked the Munsters

2. Those that liked the Addams Family

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:20 | 4708139 elwind45
elwind45's picture

Can you please elaborate on the bottom three more in future articles because I think I may fall in one of those more than the others?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:20 | 4708142 J_jade
J_jade's picture

Careful Zerohedge your pissing off all the classless mew millenial riff raff that think it's cool to read this now because tehre all poor

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 15:38 | 4709089 StandardDeviant
StandardDeviant's picture

If only there were a spelling class.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:24 | 4708172 intric8
intric8's picture

These class distinctions and all bickering associated with it have at its roots the powerful facade that we all need to be rich and live out the american dream. Striving for that luxury, along with all distraction and division associated with it is exactly how the powers that be want us - overworked, materialistic and ultimately paralyzed with initiative, too engrossed to see who is subjugating us and how they are doing so. Its total bullshit.

I believe most people would actually be content dwelling on the lower rungs of maslows pyramid If they were reassured of honest governance and knew their freedoms were secure and not in danger of coming under assault.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:17 | 4708793 Bemused Observer
Bemused Observer's picture

"I believe most people would actually be content dwelling on the lower rungs of maslows pyramid If they were reassured of honest governance and knew their freedoms were secure and not in danger of coming under assault"

And I believe you are right. This is what astounds me about this wealth-grab going's basically the round-about equivalent of stealing from yourself!

Most folks WOULD be perfectly happy NOT being super-rich Those people do NOT have any desire to 'take' the wealth of others. Of course they have needs, and must have SOME wealth to meet them. But for most, that's it. As long as they can pay their bills, and have some security, they are FINE with someone else accumulating, and do NOT begrudge them their loot.

By ensuring that those folks have that security yes, it costs money. But that's what money if for, to help you do the things you need. By investing a bit of their hoard in ways that benefit the masses, they will find that the investment pays off very VERY well. It buys them the security THEY need to keep and enjoy THEIR wealth.

But that greed sure does warp the thinking. So we have ridiculously wealthy people, who already have more than they can ever use effectively, desperately trying to grab more and more, and showering the masses with contempt for complaining. And that wealth they are after? What's the hurry? It'll be coming their way eventually, as it always does. Just have the patience to allow it to filter through the economy first, let the ones beneath take their little bit, then the rest is yours.

But no. There isn't even any pretense anymore. Now, it's just grab, grab, grab...reach right into their very mouths and take their half-chewed bread, because they want it ALL. They will GET it, temporarily. But in so doing they will destabilize the very system that allowed them to GET their wealth in te first place. Being a multi millionaire in a booming economy is MUCH better than being a multi billionaire in an economy that collapses.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 16:29 | 4709287 RichardParker
RichardParker's picture

"too engrossed to see who is subjugating us and how they are doing so. "

The people that recognize this are members of the genius class. Btw, +1

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:30 | 4708212 kchrisc
kchrisc's picture

You forgot the 10th class: The guillotine owner-operator class.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:37 | 4708258 Uncle Remus
Uncle Remus's picture

Lots of dead-heading then.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:35 | 4708247 Uncle Remus
Uncle Remus's picture

Two classes. The quick and the dead.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:36 | 4708252 elwind45
elwind45's picture

Which came first the collar or the class?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:41 | 4708279 dontgoforit
dontgoforit's picture

The azzhat class?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:30 | 4708848 icanhasbailout
icanhasbailout's picture

class Asshat extends Jerk {





Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:40 | 4708881 dontgoforit
dontgoforit's picture

C-class.  Business class.  First class.  Nemitz class.  Call for class times.  Class bassmasters.  Classy kat.  Americlass.  Class action.  Class ring.  Classmates.  Class president.  Class struggle.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:32 | 4708560 infinity8
infinity8's picture

Call me Nobody.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:43 | 4708291 Comte d'herblay
Comte d'herblay's picture

I'll just stick with the two classes.  The BIG CLUB, and The "You aren't in it".

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:51 | 4708347 BeetleBailey
BeetleBailey's picture

I'm in a class by my God Damned SELF...and fuck anyone that tries to pidgeon-hole my crippled ass.


Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:52 | 4708351 Itchy and Scratchy
Itchy and Scratchy's picture

What about the Metrosexuals?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:58 | 4708357 Duc888
Duc888's picture




All you have to do is look at the PRODUCERS and the LEACHFUCKS.


What does gov PRODUCE?


...everything else will fall into place once we can roll back the parasitic DRAG (Gov) on the machine which is private business.  Private businesses generate wealth.  Fedgov only creates wealth for those that are in it.  Two clubs diametrically opposite of each other, at odds with each other.


Then (a shocker)...


Cut the cord between GOVERNMENT contracts given to private industry and then you might get a clearer picture as to what the economy really looks like.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:56 | 4708373 thunderchief
thunderchief's picture

The middle class was like a Shakespeare play.
When your done you take off the costume and completely forget the lines.

Poof America, now your poor.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:57 | 4708378 esum
esum's picture

1. scumsucking politicians aka shit eating maggots

2. scumsucking parasites, the ones who get bought by the 1. 

3. prison inmates

4. illegal scumsucking immigrants who come here for freee shit

5. libtards aka bleeding hearts, or do gooders too stupid to see they are being played

6. taxpaying donkeys who pay for all the free shit and the money the pols steal

7. ex ussa citizens .. the smart ones who got the fuck out

8. mentally disabled who are happy

9. dead people who vote anywhere from twice to 10 times depending on the state

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:00 | 4708388 My Days Are Get...
My Days Are Getting Fewer's picture

One of CS's better article.  He is clear and concise on this one.

I am in the mobile sector.  Have always strived to stay under the radar and operate in niches.  That way, you avoid being pigeonholed by the IRS, Corporate and Others, who seek to place you under their control.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:05 | 4708413 _SILENCER
_SILENCER's picture

Is there a class for the people zombified by pharma and TV?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:36 | 4708587 stopthejunk1
stopthejunk1's picture

Yes, that is the subspecies dancus dancus revolutionus, known colloquially to the field anthropologist as homo psychoticus lanzas.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:21 | 4708466 stopthejunk1
stopthejunk1's picture

It doesn't matter how many classes you invent.  You may as well argue about how to stack deck chairs on the Titanic.


The problem is the severe inequality, which is getting worse and worse, and in which America already leads the world, while helpless economists and politicians and bloggers dither about things like class taxonomy.  It is rather easy to see the source of the inequality, when you examine our tax structures, the unmitigated role of money in politics, the corruption of officials, and the adherence of a large class of brainwashed 99%ers to right-wing ideologies that are plainly against their own interests.


Wealth and income inequality in America now resembles that of Belle Epoque Europe.  Such injustice cannot last and does not make for happy endings. 

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:21 | 4708510 detached.amusement
detached.amusement's picture

is a symptom "the" problem, or is it merely a symptom of a greater problem?  there will always be plenty of inequality.


what we dont need is the things that enable and encourage it, i.e. graft and corruption.  take those two away and "inequality" will find a natural balance that rewards go getters (that have scruples) still unequal...but fair, and unequal.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:15 | 4708468 Seize Mars
Seize Mars's picture

Birth! School! Work! Death!

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:55 | 4708600 Polymarkos
Polymarkos's picture


I keep trying to insert an image here, from They Live, but I can't seem to make it work.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:38 | 4708605 stopthejunk1
stopthejunk1's picture

Well said.  And perfected with a footnote, "Arbeit macht frei."

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 15:56 | 4709163 waterhorse
waterhorse's picture

You forgot TAXES!

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:16 | 4708469 AlamoJack
AlamoJack's picture

No Class.  Yeah, like a schoolroom under construction.  Me old pa used to say to me, "Son, you have couth you've never used!."   My reply: "Yeah Dad, I'm savin' it."

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:17 | 4708480 directaction
directaction's picture

Cops have it all figured out. They split the population into three clearly defined and distinct classes: 1) Regular citizens. 2) Scumbags. 3) Cops. 

Wed, 04/30/2014 - 23:52 | 4714905 PoliticalRefuge...
PoliticalRefugeefromCalif.'s picture

close.. 1 cops.

           2 cops family.

                   3 the rest of the trash.

my pleasure.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:23 | 4708504 polo007
polo007's picture

The government's "ingenious" solution to end the Great Recession was to recreate the same wealth effect that engendered the credit crisis to begin with: The definition of the wealth effect is an increase in spending that comes from an increase in the perception of wealth generated from equities and real estate.
Our Treasury and Federal Reserve figured the best way to accomplish this was to rescue the banking system by; taking interest rates to zero percent, buying banks' troubled assets, and recapitalizing the financial system. Most importantly, our government loaded banks with excess reserves. This process, known as quantitative easing (QE), pushed lower long-term interest rates through the buying of Treasury Notes, Bonds and Agency MBS.
It is imperative to understand the QE process in order to fully understand why the tapering of asset purchases will lead to a collapse in asset prices and a severe recession.
The QE scheme forces banks to sell much higher-yielding assets (Treasuries and MBS) to the Fed, and in return the banks receive something know as Fed Credit, which pays just one quarter of one percent. For example, the Five-year Note currently yields 1.75 percent and the Seven-year Note offers a yield of 2.30 percent. The Fed is currently buying $30 billion worth of such Treasuries per month and $25 billion of higher-yielding MBS.
In fact, the Fed has purchased a total of $3.5 trillion worth of MBS and Treasuries since 2009 in a direct attempt to boost equity and real estate prices. QE escalated in intensity as the years progressed. The year 2013 began with the Fed promising to purchase over a trillion dollars' worth of bank debt--without any indication of when the QE scheme would end...if ever.
Therefore, financial institutions did exactly what rational would dictate. These banks bought bonds, stocks and real estate assets with the Fed's credit because not only were the yields higher, but they also understood there would be a huge buyer behind them-one that was indifferent to price and had an unlimited balance sheet. Since these assets offered a yield that was much greater than the 25 basis points provided by the Fed and were nearly guaranteed to increase in price, it was nearly a riskless transaction for banks to make. This QE process also sent money supply growth rates back up towards 10% per annum, as opposed to the contractionary rates experienced in 2009 and 2010.
Of course, most on Wall Street fail to understand or refuse to acknowledge that ending QE will cause asset prices to undergo a necessary, but nevertheless healthy correction. However, looking at the evidence since the tapering of asset purchases began, it is clear that the Fed's wealth effect has ended.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:26 | 4708527 kevinearick
kevinearick's picture

in response to blah, blah, blah:

Yes, you are free to roam the human farm system...

The point is that you are also free to come and go as you like...

You can't pick your parents, and you can't pick your children...

Sometimes your children make choices you would prefer they did not...

That's life.

If you look, which you don't, we are talking about far more than what is in the script...

10% of your time goes to the empire, for the counterweight...

If you are putting in more than that, who is to blame?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:29 | 4708537 Raging Debate
Raging Debate's picture

I am in that mobile class. I also agree one can influence the other 64%. Been there, done that. But win-wins are much tougher to come by since 2008.

I will also share that the expectations are to steer the ship one or two degrees in the right direction, don't expect a touchdown all the time, getting a first down is a huge victory.

. If your inent is well meaning or Machivellian go for it and pick up the phone. The very top of the pyramid will talk. But if you don't bring value your asking for trouble. This last year I tool it easy, regain some perspective. But I am on the move again. I do enjoy competition, no challenge and I would get bored.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:33 | 4708565 tommus
tommus's picture

There's many valid ways to slice and dice the world into categories, if you need that kind of reassurance.  Of course Hugh-Smith doesn't have it all figured out but it's way more thought provoking than the typical "1% vs the rest of us" bullshit.  I doubt the typical oligarch has much more control over the social (dis)order than anyone else, they just can't help but keep amassing power and money, as well as the responsibility to organize the flow of energy throughout the economy.  Becoming a sociopath is their occupational hazard.

A single brain cell doesn't control the body either, but it does get the most oxygen and nutrients, and in crisis it will be the last to starve, yet it too is ultimately expendable like any other cell.  Human social structure is an organic phenomenon, even if it is pathological.  Imagine if the appendix demanded equality with the pineal gland!  Everyone is a slave to someone or something.  Human existence is a perpetual state of crisis.  Hail Eris!

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:35 | 4708580 Enginer
Enginer's picture

Most thinking people realize that to de-feather the golden goose might reduce GDP, and thus have less total to spread around.  The problem is how to re-distribute the income without demotivating the egg-laying.


I for one (mobile class) would rather see more dialog on what is real and worthwile  productivity and what is pure wealth-transfering puff.  For example, my 22 year old Volvo will blow the doors off your 5 year old Ascalade.


Don't forget, a Dalton Minimum (small Little Ice Age) is coming for the next 30 years,  and unless you live in the South your food costs are going to be so high you may starve--if you can get food.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 15:02 | 4708905 TPTB_r_TBTF
TPTB_r_TBTF's picture

... --if you can get food.

Of course we Snowbirds can get food.

Many birds have always migrated South in the search of food.

gonna be a good fight!

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 16:51 | 4709379 Matt
Matt's picture

You think a 1-degree drop in average temperature will lead to mass starvation?

If AGW gives us 2 degrees of warming, and the Solar Minimum gives us 1 degree of cooling, we'll still have a net 1 degree average increase. 

I'm more worried about what will happen if Greenland melts too fast.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:39 | 4708610 Falconsixone
Falconsixone's picture

Which class counts the homeless beggars going through the garbage? State dependant include prisioners?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:43 | 4708894 TPTB_r_TBTF
TPTB_r_TBTF's picture

. Which class counts the homeless beggars going through the garbage? 

Working poor.  Going through garbage is hard work.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:46 | 4708645 Itchy and Scratchy
Itchy and Scratchy's picture

Heyyy......what in the heck about the bi-polar transgenered permanently disabled single parent households who are looking to adopt?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:48 | 4708662 CHX
CHX's picture

Class 6 is converging to class 7, and class 7 to class 8. Simplification in progress.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 20:50 | 4710196 Clowns on Acid
Clowns on Acid's picture

Most people in the inner city are lucky there is a low class or they wouldn't have any....

What does CHS mean by "fun" ?

Wed, 04/30/2014 - 19:32 | 4714191 the0ther
the0ther's picture

9 is too many. I prefer Mencius Moldbug's 6 category system.

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