It's so easy to hate the poor

But this is to be expected, because in our society it is easy for the middle class to hate the poor—to hate their lack of money (stalling a line in a store as they count pennies for a pack of cigarettes or bottle of beer or bag of diapers or can of food), their seemingly endless run-ins with the law, their bad habits, their constant neediness. Indeed, the hatred of public transportation is intimately tied with the hatred of the poor. Middle-class types who are unfortunate enough to use the bus expose themselves to the talk, the begging, the bad health of the poor. But instead of blaming the society, they blame the form of transportation. The unpleasant practices connected with poverty thus reinforce a generalized sign system that identifies these practices not with social conditions but with individuals. Poverty is identified as a "life choice." The use of food stamps, a character flaw. You notice chicken bones under a bus seat. The hatred grows.

Hating the rich takes much greater emotional and intellectual effort. It is a hate that goes against the flow of influence. The rich are, after all, frequently celebrated on the covers of magaznies and other media platforms. And what we must associate with the bad habits of the poor (those chicken bones, for example) is this relentless praise of the rich and the relentless dissemination of their values—which privilege private space far above shared space. The poor in our society are even alienated from their own values—which, to serve their interest, have to be communal. The result? Those in the middle class tend to hate the poor immediately and hate the rich when it's too late—a sudden loss of basic benefits, a home being foreclosed, a factory closing, a market crashing.