The middle class and the Google bus

If you look back at historic photographs of the USA, men are out in public wearing nearly the exact same outfit.

Men generally appeared wearing a two piece suit and tie, leather shoes, and nearly every man wore a hat. In fact, this outfit was so standard and ubiquitous that it can be tracked accurately based on the shape of the man’s hat. For at least two hundred years, men wore a suit with tricorn hats, top hats, bowler hats, wide brim hats, flat caps and fedoras.

Were men uncreative? Or did they all wear the same thing to express that they were part of a shared social convention?

The media has sold out this country in an interesting way. The media angle of the recent protests over the Google bus tells all: rich Google versus poor public transportation ridersRich company versus poor public. Rich upper class versus poor lower class.

How has the media sold out this country? By failing to tell the story of the middle class.

The middle class only ever had one ideal going for it: by creating social standards of dress and behavior, a large contingent of people could behave like the rich and could mimic the rich in attitude and appearance, without the money required to be upper class. The entire middle class would be free to enjoy the amenities that the rich experience: cleanliness, friendliness, smoothly operating systems, low violence, and so forth. Whereas people typically need lots of money to buy consistently clean and new equipment, architecture, and spaces, the middle class decided to invent social conventions that everyone would take part in. Everyone would be clean cut. Everyone would clean up after themselves. Everyone would dress modestly in public. And by doing this, they would enjoy a public that is well greased, runs smoothly, and doesn’t require money to operate.

Imagining an ideal bus ride is easy. You would smoothly be able to interpret your destination from clearly designed maps. The driver would pleasantly help you in matters unrelated to driving the bus, such as aiding the elderly, or answering questions. The bus interior would be spacious, clean, and quiet. You would feel at ease to interact with fellow riders. You would find all the latest gizmos and gadgets to keep you entertained. The bus would not be overcrowded.

Does this sound like the Google bus or the public bus? Before you answer that, realize that I only described an ideal bus ride, which both Google and the public have the potential to work toward.

Consider the hilarious demands of the Google bus protesters, to the tune of $1 billion. They argue that with one billion dollars, the city can return that money to the public busses which they ride, and therefore they could enjoy the fruits of the billion dollars. Recall the social conventions of the middle class. People agree to be quiet, dress nicely, act courteously, clean after themselves, and behave well. Through convention, the experience of riding the public bus would rival the Google bus, and the protester would have nothing to protest. I will call the protesters stupid and ignorant because they stupidly have no idea how the middle class works.




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