Wednesday, April 29, 2015

why rich people think (or at least say) they're middle class

Brian Donahue followed Chris Christie recently around on the campaign trail and discovered what he sees as a "baffling" disconnect in Christie's public persona: his strong ability to relate to average people as a "regular guy" despite the fact that he is among the top 1% of wealthiest Americans.
Donahue writes in  When a man standing in front of you looks you in the eye and says, "I don't consider myself wealthy," you have to take him at his word that, well, he's probably not wealthy. But when that man has publicly released his tax returns that show his family's income falls within the top 1 percent of all Americans? Well, you have to start to wonder if something fairly bizarre is going on inside his head. Such was the case with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie last week, who twice told reporters during a swing through New Hampshire that despite earning ten times the median New Jersey income, he does not consider himself rich. In the video above I examine that detachment in the context of a series of events that make them all the more remarkable: Christie's amazing ability to connect personally with voters and sway them to his side with his common touch. It's a knack he's got, and, should he actually run, one he's counting on to vault him back into contention for the nation's first presidential primary. Rich guy? Common man? How to square it all? Watch the video and let me know what you think in the comments below.
In a follow-up piece in the Montclair SocioBlog, Jay Livingston provides an excellent answer to Donahue's paradox by way of using the sociological concepts of "self-perception" and "reference group." 

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