Friday, March 17, 2006

Take your Grey Poupon, my friend

ashok asks:
How did your undergraduate education shape your view of the world, and how did that change in law school?
I didn't realize when I applied to my alma mater that it was one of the more conservative liberal arts colleges in the country. The original plan, which was to study international relations, fell by the wayside and I ended up a straight-up econ major. This jibed well with my still-extant world view, which emphasizes reason, choice, and individual preferences.

I think the biggest change in my view of the world came when I went to law school. CMC is a very middle-class college; it was founded as a result of the GI Bill, and it has a generous financial aid policy. This meant that nearly all of my classmates were kids much like those I went to high school with; comfortable, many more so than me, but not rich. I never really understood the concept of class warfare, or even class resentment.

You know how some people have life-changing experiences when they join the Peace Corps or TFA and see "how the other half lives" and have their hearts embiggened by being exposed to people who struggle with poverty? I had the opposite. Moving to Cambridge meant I was suddenly surrounded by people with IIIs after their names whose first name was not Jim-Bob. People whose families owned vacation homes and went skiing. People who went to law school not because of some interest in politics or law or desire to practice, but because they sold their dot-com for a few cool million and needed someplace to settle down and regroup for a while, or you know, when you're a liberal arts graduate with no job prospects and parents who write blank checks, a $120K degree that might be useful seems like an okay idea. That lost and found ad in the student newspaper about the gold Gucci sunglasses was not, as I first thought, a joke.

There are rich people, I realized. This is the wealthiest one percent we're always hearing about. People who regular wear clothing and accessories that cost more than my old car (admittedly, not hard to do). These people are mostly annoying. And it's contagious. After three years surrounded by this miasma of wealth, fundamentally stupid things like spending $1000+ on a purse seem reasonable. Dropping hundreds of bucks at a charity auction for a pie made by a plagiarist sounds like an amusing lark with an altruistic twist, not a sick joke.

I may not be gung-ho about Clerksville, but at least I am out of the hothouse that is the old money northeast.
blog comments powered by Disqus