54: social classes

I am currently living and working in Morocco, a country in north Africa. Social classes here are fairly easy to determine. They are, just like back home in the United States, determined by education and wealth, just the same as nearly every other country I have visited: Italy, Greece, France, England, Barbados, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Malaysia, you get the picture. Humans are humans, regardless of location on this mudball we all call home. My question for pondering today is why are education and wealth the determining factors in social status? Why not age, like I have heard is important in Asian cultures? Surely a wise old grandma or grandpa is deserving of honor and respect, at least more so that some teen idol who sang a song that sold a million copies, right? Sadly, not.

Here in Morocco, like in a number of the other places I have visited, I am marked as a wealthy non-native by the color of my skin and my conspicuous non-Muslim dress. Because of this, I am instantly perceived as a wealthy person of rank. This would be amusing if it were not so embarassing. Even when I do choose to conform and wear a djellabah, the long, concealing robe-like garment of the traditional Moroccan woman, I still manage to “look wrong,” and am pretty quickly singled out as an American, or an European.  That means when I ask, in Arabic, “B’ShHall?” meaning ‘How much?’ I will be usually quoted a price that is inflated enough to ensure a really good profit, but hopefully not too much to make me shake my head and walk away – which I do a LOT, because I am not a rich American, I am a relatively poor one. My local merchants have finally learned that I am a regular, and so I am beginning to hear the same prices that are quoted to everybody else. Just because my skin is white does not put more spendable dirhams into my pockets, despite the common perception here to the contrary.

Yes, I am educated, probably far beyond my common sense. That is because I had a wonderful government (back in the day) that actually wanted its citizens to be college educated, and was willing to subsidize that effort, so I was able to graduate without undue financial strain on my lower-middle class family. My own two children, unlike my experience, are struggling, as am I in helping them, to pay for tuition in order to finish college. This is so, of course, that my children will possess all of the advantages that I had due to my own collegiate education (not too sure what all of those were, but I am sure that there actually were a few, at least). And, I am aware that the education I got allowed me to take a job that was fairly advantageous, compared to jobs that did not require those collegiate hoop-jumps. I hoop-jumped my way into a career as a teacher, which is the highest paying regular job I know of that allows you nearly four months off a year- with pay. That makes it an OK job, since every job I know of does also come with drawbacks, too. Being a teacher certainly does not enhance my social status, however, regardless of my white skin or my education, because it does not pay enough to elevate me into the respected ranks of the wealthy. I am middling well-off, not wealthy. There are a lot of skilled tradespeople who earn far more annually than I do, as an educated career person.  Hired a plumber lately? Or an electrician? THERE is a good-paying job! What apparently keeps THEM out of the ranks of the higher social classes is the lack of collegiate diplomas, because they certainly earn more than I do.

Why is money and education the benchmark of a higher social class? Of respect? I know lots of educated people that are absolute idiots when it comes to common sense. Look at all of them who elected Barak Obama, for a prime example. I know the hallmark of a civilized society is how it cares for its least able citizens, but, come on, people! Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Neal Boortz, who is Not exactly my favorite person, published an editorial about becoming a well-to-do person. There are three rules. The first is get an education. The second is don’t get pregnant (father a child) before you get marrried. The third is find a job, any job, and keep it until you find another one that pays better.  You can read it for yourself at :




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