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October 30, 2006



Maybe it's because I'm from the South, but I remember the Junior League being a festering sore of snobbery and condescention. I recall, they didn't want my friend's mom to join because she had a "colorful" past (She had been a former Vegas Showgirl).


I have no doubt that individual Junior Leagues could be just like that, Catty. But the charity work they did -- even when veiled with condescension, noblesse oblige and petty snobbery -- made the world a fundamentally better place. And believe me, they were also famous for their cookbooks.


"to whom much is given, of whom much is expected"

Certainly, and people who are born into money (the "well-born") grow up watching their elders give back to the community, and not just the community outside the house, but their domestic employees as well. I was reading an article about how americans are hiring more house help than before, but because they don't like to think of themselves as upper-class, they rationalize their relationship with their employees as purely commercial and not a class struggle in which they have the upper hand. The thing is, people who have servant-culture (to call it something) know that you always pay the help more than they ask for, you always tip them for special services (say, they had to clean up vomit), you give them Christmas bonuses, "lend" them money whenever they're in a snag, take their kids to your pediatrician, pay for it, buy any expensive things their children may need (i.e., if their very gifted child got to college, buy them the books) you do not penalize them for breaking dishes, you assure them they can eat whatever they want and make sure they do so when you have something fancy, you give them a uniform (if they are live-in or full-time), you get their legal wrinkles straightened out, get their relatives jobs, always pay them on time and in cash, and never terminate their employment without getting them another job (unless they did something that would merit this). If you have someone who just comes and cleans once a week, pay them even when you don't need them (say, you're taking a weekly vacation).

This is not set in stone, of course you only do what you can, but the intention should be there. The problem with this is that we aren't comfortable discussing class, or calling ourselves "upper-class". We love to call ourselves "middle class", we make excuses for our priviledges, but we are quickly becoming the upper class of the world, and maybe we should own it.

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Our destiny offers not the cup of despair, but the chalice of opportunity. So let us seize it, not in fear, but in gladness.

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