When Christina Wallace, now the director of the Startup Institute, attended Harvard Business School on a scholarship, she was told by her classmates that she needed to spend more money to fully participate, and that “the difference between a good experience and a great experience is only $20,000.”
“Class was the bigger divide than gender when I was at H.B.S.,” said Ms. Wallace, who graduated in 2010….
Many alumni from decades ago, including Suzy Welch, a former editor of The Harvard Business Review, said they were startled by the culture of spending that was depicted in the article, including the news that one student had lived in a penthouse apartment at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Boston. When Ms. Welch graduated in 1988, money mattered, she said in post on Twitter, “but conspicuous consumption events were rare.”
A reader named Ken H said that the tone at the school in the 1970s was downright egalitarian, and that anyone who “flashed money around” would have earned jeers. “Maybe what has changed isn’t so much H.B.S., but America,” he said.
“Ken H” hit the nail on the head. Years ago the “upper strata”, for all of their faults, had a much stronger sense of civic responsibility–and an aversion to flaunting their success in front of those who didn’t have what they had–than we see now. But, with all of our “progress” with the “protected groups”, we’re supposed to live in a better society.
Americans, however, have always had a blind spot towards class differences. The result of this is that we have more income inequality that we had. And, if you have gross income inequality, no other form of “equality” matters. Period. Not racial, not gender, not sexual orientation, none of them. Our elites are simply using the latter to hide the problems with the former.