Specifically, do I think I’m better than DH’s family?
Of course not.
I mean, I definitely think I’m a better person than anybody who advocates separating asylum seekers from their children and then torturing them, but DH’s family are good people. Most of the people I genuinely think I’m better than currently work in the White House.
What I do think we are is better OFF. We are better off than the rest of DH’s family.
Most of that is luck and taking opportunities granted.
Some of that is choice (ex. the decision to have two working parents instead of one).
But even those choices are made based on our specific utility curves and our specific budget constraints. I firmly believe that we are optimizing based on our budget constraints and our utility curves. DH’s family has different budget constraints and different sets of utility curves. I assume they are optimizing as well.
What we’re doing for DH’s relative with the kids is increasing the budget set, but mostly only for higher education for the kids. We pay for application fees, tuition, and books. We only do this for the kids who want to go to college and we stop when they stop wanting to go. We may wish that more of them would go, under the assumption that they don’t have full information, but that’s up to them.
I firmly believe that people with privilege have a responsibility to make things easier for people who don’t have that privilege. Privilege comes with the responsibility to level the playing field. That means political action and it means giving people a hand up while you’re waiting for political action to work.
Why don’t we just give money to them, unasked, no strings attached? Because that would be weird. That would strain relations between DH and one of his best friends. (We do at Christmas and when they’ve had an emergency, but those are socially accepted times to give.) And tuition and books is something we can anticipate and budget for and can easily be separated into a separate mental bucket. Also, so far it’s been pretty affordable.
(In case you’re wondering, this is in response to a mean “just trying to help” message from Anonymous in New Jersey.) (From well over a month ago.) (It keeps getting pushed back because the pandemic is more important than my musings on privilege)