Who wants to be a Millionaire???

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

6 thoughts on “Who wants to be a Millionaire???

  1. I think a lot of the time if someone wins the lottery and is handed big amounts of money, most people don’t know what to do with it. They end up spending it all or loosing it. I think when someone wins the lottery they go from having a low amount of money to so much that they just feel like they can buy anything they want, so they just spend it all. I guess that shows that it is possible to make it up to the high class, but part of the issue is being able to stay there.

  2. I agree, when people win the lottery they are so happy and excited that they blow their winning. They will spend it on a fancy house or car, but if you can’t afford it without the winning’s why by it. I also agree that no one explains, in high school, about financing. There should be a class about it because it could help so many people.

  3. I find it interesting that level of education correlates so highly, here in the U.S., with financial status. At the time I went to high school and college (right after the fall of the communist system, in Hungary), there was much less correlation between the two. In fact it was a topic of jokes how uneducated the ‘newly rich’ are, and it was also common to see that educated people (including high school teachers and college professors) struggle to get by financially. This might be common at times that follow major social change. In the U. S. there is a strong correlation because the same system has been in place for a long time.

  4. Education and intelligence are not necessarily correlated with wealth. There are some college degrees that will enable one to make much more income than others. A college degree carries a certain degree of prestige, which can place one in a higher social class, even though they may not make as much money as a construction worker. This is the complexity that Weber spoke about. As far as newly made millionaires are concerned, this is an anomaly in our modern society which catapults one into a higher class status monetarily. But it may or may not change their social class. It may even make their monetary class status worse, if they spend it all and file bankruptcy.

  5. Money does strange things to people, they behave differently with different amounts of money they have. Lottery winnings can make people do crazy things, quit your job, buy an expensive car, house, etc, I don’t think they understand what consequences may be out there as a result of being rich. It is important to educate people on the issue rather than just sit and try to figure out ways to spend it. Society has such an impact on how people act that they just want to keep up with others or have what others have. It is all acting on impulse and that can be dangerous.

  6. It is understandable that all the money would go to someones head. You would be all caught up in the moment and not think about the future. I know that all of us at one time or another have sat and thought “If I won a million dollars…” But thinking about it and having it happen are different. I can understand about not wanting to cash it right away just because the thought of how your life will change and throw you in a place where you are not comfortable would be mentally hard to handle.
    I just don’t know how someone who wins so much money can honestly think that they deserve foodstamps just because they don’t have a job. That is the reason why there isn’t enough for the people who really do need it.

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