A humorous Op-Ed piece in the Aug 3 NYTimes by David Brooks notes a recent trend in America that he considers a blow to the natural order of the universe. "In all healthy societies, the middle-class people have wholesome middle-class values while the upper-crust bluebloods lead lives of cosseted leisure interrupted by infidelity, overdoses and hunting accidents. But in America today we’ve got this all bollixed up... Through some screw-up in the moral superstructure, we now have a plutocratic upper class infused with the staid industriousness of Ben Franklin, while we are apparently seeing the emergence of a Wal-Mart leisure class — devil-may-care middle-age slackers who live off home-equity loans and disability payments so they can surf the History Channel and enjoy fantasy football leagues...For the first time in human history, the rich work longer hours than the proletariat"...(the piece then documents a number of middle aged men who have dropped out of the work force).. "What I see is a migration of values. Once upon a time, middle-class men would have defined their dignity by their ability to work hard, provide for their family and live as self-reliant members of society. But these fellows, to judge by their quotations, define their dignity the same way the subjects of Thorstein Veblen’s “The Theory of the Leisure Class” defined theirs... by the loftiness of their thinking. They define their dignity not by their achievement, but by their personal enlightenment, their autonomy, by their distance from anything dishonorably menial or compulsory."
And, in a bit of a non-sequitur: "The only comfort I’ve had from these disturbing trends is another recent story in The Times. Joyce Wadler reported that women in places like the Hamptons are still bedding down with the hired help. R. Couri Hay, the society editor of Hamptons magazine, celebrated rich women’s tendency to sleep with their home renovators..."Nobody knows,” he said. “The contractor isn’t going to tell because the husband is writing the check, the wife isn’t going to tell, and you get a better job because she’s providing a fringe benefit. Everybody wins.”...Thank God somebody is standing up for traditional morality."