Class stratification is a hierarchical structure based on how much money someone has or earns. Social class defines much of who we are in America. Most of us are part of the middle or lower class, but the American dream is that we can work hard and make more money and provide a comfortable life for ourselves and our families. There are other ways to get there though. The lottery has become part of the American dream. Pay your dollar and you could end up with hundreds of millions of dollars overnight!
Article one gives an example of a Michigan woman who won a million dollars and spent it all on a house, then continued to collect food stamps. She thought it was alright because she didn’t have a job. She was eventually cut off from state assistance and ended up dead less than a year later.
It begs the question of whether or not this is normal. Article two discusses the financial outcomes of over 1900 lottery winners in Florida. Many ended up bankrupt or even dead. In our class discussions, we discussed how lack of education or socioeconomic status in childhood could impact your ability to move up to a higher social class. It could be as a result of a self-fulfilling prophecy, where those around you expect you to fail and treat you as though you will, causing failure. I could be a result of the lack of finances to take the next step. But what about when the financial security is just handed to you?
In a way, it does come down to an education piece. We spend so much time focused on sociology and science and math, and not enough time on how to handle our finances if and when we do achieve the American dream. There are websites dedicated to how to handle yourself in case of winning the lottery (Article 3). They go over the legal ramifications of having money, which most of us never think of. They also discuss how to invest the money. This is also a “problem” that many of us will never have to tackle. Nor would we know how to approach those situations if they were thrown at us suddenly.
Maybe it is time to refocus a little of our energy to teaching children and young adults how to live the American dream… not just balancing checkbooks, but investing and making sure that what you think you need fits into the amount of money you have. I’m sure that the children of the upper classes are taught this. Then, when the American dream is thrown into our laps, we won’t meet it with financial failure or death.
1 – http://www.theblaze.com/stories/1m-lottery-winners-food-stamps-yanked-after-story-goes-viral/#
2 – http://www.smartmoney.com/invest/stocks/why-lottery-winners-go-bankrupt-1301002181742/
3 – http://www.legalzoom.com/money-matters/personal-finance/youve-won-lottery-now