Ignorant, ignorant, stupidity

Calling us all middle class solves nothing

Hmm. And the example to be used?

In Georgian times, Jane Austen\’s family lived an impecunious life, on £210 a year, better off than 95% of the population but treated as \”the middle ranks\” – so richer than most but not as wealthy as the few.

By simple inflation that £210 is now £10,600. Which as an income for an entire family ain\’t much by present standards.

By income changes that £210 is now £160,000. Still in the top 5%, yes.

But look at the difference between the two numbers there, £10k and £160k. The reason we do say that we\’re all middle class now is because by any rational standard of historical experience we are all middle class. If not inordinately rich in fact.

5 thoughts on “Ignorant, ignorant, stupidity”

  1. The comparison is unclear. Jane Austen’s household will have had a cook, and maids: the Austen family will never have needed to prepare a meal or do any housework. (I can’t recall any mention of servants about the house in her novels: they seem to have been about as worthy of mention as a dishwashing machine nowadays.)

    On the other hand, they didn’t have a car, or television, or internet, or central heating, or access to antibiotics…

  2. Yes, very difficult to compare incomes across more than a few decades since what you can buy with it changes like crazy, as PaulB says.

    Consider property values. Looking at her family’s place at Chawton, I’d guess about 500K – 800K. Solid middle class, if they still have such. Hardly impecunious,

  3. Actually, while the Austens may have had servants, they didn’t have washing machines, or electric cookers or hot water (or any water) on tap. So the servants spend a lot of time washing clothes, hauling water and coal, and other such work that now is done by machines.

    It’s quite possible that the Austen family did do some, or a lot, of housework. In Pride and Prejudice, Mrs Bennet (on £2000 a year) brags that her daughters don’t need to do any housework, unlike her neighbours the Lucases.

    On the other hand, £210 sounds low for their family income. I thought they were closer to £500 a year, even once Mr Austen had died.

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