The New York Times Magazine today is a John-Edwards-as-Coverboy All-About-the-Gap-Between-Rich-and-Poor Issue

But this story stands out to me as especially interesting -- in that half-baked pseudo-science self-help book kind of way.

The woman's name is Ruby Payne, and she goes around the country teaching middle-class teachers how to understand their impoverished students. She used to be a teacher herself, but now makes her living as a full-time speaker to jam-packed auditoriums of entire school districts' worth of teachers.

Some of those teachers, according to the Times, weep when they meet her.

Her personal journey goes thusly: she was a middle-class woman who married a lower-class man and discovered that the poor have different "rules" than the middle-class do; her lower-class husband then found himself working amongst the rich, and she discovered that the rich have different rules too.

Then she read a self-help book which was dictated to its authors by two "spirit guides" named Orin and DaBen -- or so claimed its authors. And this motivated her to start her new career.

Did I mention that some of your children's teachers weep when they meet her? :-)

But, one part of her, uh, "work"? is particularly interesting in that highly-reductive pseudo-scientific way: she made a chart of how each class regards an aspect of life. It's like a faux-cheese flavored faux-cream stuffing a faux-jalepeno -- irresistible trash.

(The NYT isn't publishing it -- they just mention it in their story about her, but I found it online.)

WHAT ARE THE HIDDEN RULES AMONG THE CLASSES?

POSSESSIONS:
POOR = PEOPLE
MC = THINGS
RICH = ONE OF A KIND/RARE OBJECTS

MONEY:
POOR = TO SPEND
MC = TO MANAGE
RICH = TO CONSERVE/INVEST

SOCIAL EMPHASIS:
POOR = SOCIAL INCLUSION OF PEOPLE THEY LIKE
MC = SELF-GOVERNANCE/SELF-RELIANCE
RICH = SOCIAL EXCLUSION

PERSONALITY:
POOR = ENTERTAINMENT/SENSE OF HUMOR VALUED
MC = ACQUISITION/STABILITY/ACHIEVEMENT VALUED
RICH = SOCIAL/FINANCIAL/POLITICAL CONNECTEDNESS VALUED

FOOD:
POOR = QUANTITY
MC = QUALITY
RICH = PRESENTATION

CLOTHING:
POOR = SELF-EXPRESSION
MC = ACCEPTANCE/NORMS (LABELS)
RICH = ARTISTIC SENSE (DESIGNER)

TIME:
POOR = PRESENT MOST IMPORTANT
MC = FUTURE MOST IMPORTANT
RICH = PAST MOST IMPORTANT

EDUCATION:
POOR = ABSTRACT GOOD, BUT NOT A "REALITY"
MC = MEANS TO AN ENDS
RICH = NECESSARY ACCOUTREMENT TO STATUS

DESTINY/OPPORTUNITY:
POOR = FATE
MC = CHOICE
RICH = NOBLESSE OBLIGE

LANGUAGE:
POOR = CASUAL, LANGUAGE ABOUT SURVIVAL
MC = FORMAL, LANGUAGE ABOUT NEGOTIATION
RICH = FORMAL, LANGUAGE ABOUT NETWORKING

FAMILY STRUCTURE:
POOR = MATRIARCHAL
MC = PATRIARCHAL
RICH = DEPENDS ON WHO HAS THE MONEY

WORLD VIEW:
POOR = LOCAL
MC = NATIONAL
RICH = INTERNATIONAL

LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE:
POOR = DEPENDS ON BEING LIKED
MC = DEPENDS ON ACHIEVEMENT
RICH = DEPENDS ON SOCIAL STANDING, CONNECTEDNESS

DRIVING FORCE:
POOR = SURVIVAL, RELATIONSHIPS, ENTERTAINMENT
MC = WORK AND ACHIEVEMENT
RICH = FINANCIAL, SOCIAL, AND POLITICAL CONNECTIONS

I leave this in your capable hands to tear to pieces: no reason why I should have all the fun!

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