Bryan Caplan  

Bloggers' Class Autobios

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Quite a few bloggers took the bait and wrote their class autobiographies. Here are all the ones I'm aware of:


All of which confirms the conclusion of Steve Miller's autobio:

By the way, just after I joined the Army my dad published a fairly successful series of books on home brewing (he had an unsuccessful book when I was a kid), and became some kind of beer geek guru. While I was in the Army he also took a job as a brewmaster at a brewpub in St. Louis, and then moved to one in Nashville, TN. And before you go calling him upper-middle-class or (if you're an idiot) rich, you should check out what brewmasters at microbreweries and brewpubs actually make. He's a celebrity among a tiny subset of nerds. Like Bryan Caplan. ;-)

An upper-middle class kid from Northridge couldn't ask for more. :-)

P.S. Let me know if I've missed yours.


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The author at The One-Handed Economist in a related article titled Class Autobiography writes:
    Bry an Caplan at Econlog has been soliciting class autobiographies from bloggers. Being that is one of the many titles for which I barely qualify (for one of the others check the object of this blog's title), I figured I'd... [Tracked on June 6, 2006 10:49 AM]
COMMENTS (5 to date)
Robert Schwartz writes:

How much you gonna pay me?

Bryan Caplan writes:

Just your fifteen minutes of fame. :-)

eric writes:

Given that political candidates brag about being the child of working class parents (eg, John Edwards), I figure that if I fail my kids, they will only be better prepared for public 'service'.

James writes:

My class autobio is here.

rvman writes:

Which 'class autobiography' do you want?

1) I was an 'accident' - born to 18 year old parents who married belatedly, but were divorced within a year. I saw my father a total of maybe half a dozen times growing up, the last when I was 13. My mother received her high school diploma a year late, and then worked her way through a small local college of dubious academic merit by waitressing, working at a clothing company, even driving a forklift. She then went to work as an admin, married and divorced an abusive alcoholic, and finally went back to school to get a teaching certification. I attended public schools, moving 7 or 8 times growing up, including back in with my grandparents three different times, and then went to college on scholarship and public grants, having been fortunate to be a National Merit Scholar. We were eligible for, but did not take, certain welfare benefits such as free lunch at school. I am now a government worker, making more than my mother has in any year of her life.

2) I was born to a middle class family, consisting of my mother, who is a teacher, and my grandparents - a retired auditor/accountant and a housewife. I attended a typical elementary school and middle school, both of which were primarily attended by middle class white kids, doing well enough to earn a place at a magnet high school dedicated to science and engineering. My mother and father are college graduates and civil servants, my mother being a teacher and my dad a cop. Though my father wasn't around much, he paid his child support consistently, and so my mother and I were comfortable. After high school, I attended a top 25 private university, and graduated with minimal loans outstanding due to copious state grants and academic scholarships. I then attended graduate school, and received a Master's degree. My gf and I are both now professionals in government jobs.

3) Growing up, my family was my mother and my grandparents, as my parents were divorced. My mother went to college while I was a kid, and didn't have great jobs until she became a teacher later, but we were secure because we could always fall back on the support of my grandparents. My grandfather graduated from Harvard and Princeton during the depression, my ggf having been one of the engineers who helped found a major appliance company. My grandmother's family was in banking, and she split her time between the summer house in Canada and the winter house in the city when young. My grandparents had a maid during the time I was growing up, and a second house at the lake during much of that period. My father inherited his father's business, but didn't have a head for it. Upon its failure, he became a police officer, and is now the Deputy Chief of the police force of a moderately large city. I grew up attending quality, albeit public, schools, and was able to apply to my choice of colleges without significant worries about funding. My current household has a combined 6 figure income from my and my SO's professional salaries.

All three of those are perfectly true. All three are basically complete. They are just 'spins' that make me appear a proletarian, a member of middle class, or a silver spoon. Class is, like many things, what you make of it. I knew poor kids who consider themselves fortunate and comfortable, and rich kids who always felt they grew up deprived of security and a stable family. Some are unambiguously poor, some rich, but many of us were in between, even all three at various times.

What matters - how your parents raised you, how talented and hard working you are, how stable and nurturing you view your childhood as being - these don't show up in a 'class' autobiography. A poor kid can have parents who are supportive and demand excellence, and a rich kid can be ignored, abused, or indifferently schooled.

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