Because I think that is taboo. But I also think we are kind of constantly talking about money. In fact, money taboos vary a lot based on class. Read: Rich people rarely tell their kids how much money they meb Among middle-class Americans, the ban on talking about money is instead often brought on by financial precarity. She told me that to the families she spoke with, being middle class meant not being financially reliant on family, friends, or the government.
The group of young men I've come to talk to all have one thing in common - they've worked in India's scam call-centre industry.
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Read: Rich people rarely tell their kids how much money they make Among middle-class Americans, the ban on talking about money is instead often brought on by financial precarity. The company Piyush worked for ran what is known as a "tech support tor.
He could work someone's income out, he says, from "the way they talk, the sort of things they have on their computer". They do this with everything—why not salaries? Yeah, this was the worst call I ever had," mfn says.
He now helps her with any computer issues she might have, and is on her Christmas card list. In fact, money taboos vary a lot based on class.
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At the interview chxt was told it was a sales job, pitching products to customers in the USA. For nine years after leaving college, Piyush was part of it.
He tells me it was easy. By that point Sam felt it was mlney late to back out. Other researchers I consulted had different, but no less compelling, theories as to why direct discussions of money can produce social tension in any society.
Cook told me that in Israel, some people openly discuss salary information. He feels lucky he never got caught, and now regrets his actions. Piyush meets moneey in a friend's apartment, in one of Delhi's richest neighbourhoods.
The time-related taboos that Jones described have likely been around for a while, but the particular taboos around talking about money in present-day America are probably about a century and a half old, according to Eli Cook, a history professor at the University of Haifa and the author of The Pricing of Progress: Economic Indicators and the Capitalization of American Life. Another ex-scammer, Sam, got into the mkney unintentionally.
Unemployment in India is now higher than it has been for decades, so when Sam was looking for his first job he thanked a friend for telling him about a place he could earn good money without working too hard. Staff were seen laughing at their victims in the US and the UK. But who are these scammers, and how do they justify their actions? The outcome is similar for public workers, whose pay is often standardized, and determined by clearly defined criteria.
Sam escaped arrest and within days secured employment in another similar business. About sharing This week, the BBC showed scammers at work in an Indian call centre, recorded by an activist who hacked into the company's security cameras.
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Thus, taboos around money—among haves and have-nots alike—exert a sort of stabilizing force, blurring how much people actually have and giving them one fewer reason to be upset with their place in society. Sam wit his high salary won him respect from his father, whom he no longer had to rely on for cash.
Piyush tells me that tricking people is an "art". From a modest background, Piyush made a fortune by defrauding innocent victims wkth the other end of a phone. As I glance down at his jeans, I can see a patch stitched on, with the words "take every chance".
The idea is that the have-nots fight to claim some resources for themselves while the haves fight to defend what they own, whether violently or more subtly. But after close to a decade of scamming he too quit, in fear of police crackdowns. As panicking customers rang in, Piyush and his colleagues would milk them for money, to chhat a problem that didn't actually exist.
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For her, on the other side of the world, it was Christmas. It would send a pop-up to people's screens, telling them their computer had been infected by a "pornographic virus" or other malware, and giving them a helpline to call. Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue, a development-sociology professor at Cornell University, told me that when income or wealth is invoked as a status symbol, it can spark a competition with others that will be unpleasant for all involved.
His bosses were detained for less than a day and he believes they just restarted the business under a different name. Because I think that is taboo. Sam says he's still in touch with some of the people he decided were too poor to be scammed, including a mother of three who worked in a fast momey restaurant in the US.
She told me that to the families she spoke with, being middle class meant not being financially reliant on family, friends, or the government. Behind a pair of mirrored sunglasses, Piyush is telling me how he made a quarter of a million dollars.