Great trends take time to reveal, much like watching a glacier move. No one wants to do it, but to really understand the process a student of behavior has to be ready to take the long view of things. It’s like watching a glacier move down (or up) a mountain pass over the years. It’s still moving, but soooo sloooowly!
One great trend we all talk about on occassion is the spread between the rich and poor. Sure, we have our handy truisms, like “It takes money to make money,” or “The rich get richer,” but no one has ever taken the time to prove it. And even though we do measure it to some extent, no one really has a way of connecting that disparity to the health of our society. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s get back to that glacier.
Can we actually see it moving? Is it possible to go to the edge of the cliff and be lucky enough to see it calve an iceberg? Sure it is! It’s all in where you look. Like looking at the edge, we don’t have to try and take in the whole glacier at once. Strangely enough, a great place to see a piece of this particular glacier is at altitude – 30 thousand feet of altitude!
When aviation began, all air travel was high end. Mnay airlines began their services with fuly cooked meals, served hot, on china with silverware and linen. There were beautiful young women as attendants. Over the decades this has changed. the fancy services become expensive, and the passengers less appreciative of them. The passengers themselves became more ‘common’ as the numbers of people increased.
People got used to air travel as well, and their expectations dropped. There was a time, some decades ago, when the whole idea of classy service was dropped. Everyone became a regular passenger. Everyone was “cattle class” (as some call it) on an equal footing.
The decades rolled on, and this brief flirtation with classless service did, too. Business class emerged in the 80s, then first class came back. Now there’s super-economy and many shade of rewards programs.
How do these classes appear to us in the here and now? There’s an impenetrable curtain drawn once we reach cruising altitude separating our classy cabin from the classless. Attendants make an announcement telling commoners to stay out. They even hide behind the pretense of “national security” to keep the common folk out of the front bathroom. Then there is also the free-flowing alcohol, large meals, and other affectations of class.
So, which is better for our society? One in which there is little true separation between rich and poor? Or one in which there are great disparities? Which ones feel right to you?