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Do Conservatives Think The Poor ‘Have It Easy?’

income-inequality

Christopher Ingraham picks apart newly released data from the Pew Research politics poll and finds something, well, quite odd about the attitude that many people on the right have toward the poor:

More than three quarters of conservative Americans – those in the steadfast conservative, business conservative, and young outsider typology groups - agree that “poor people have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything.” Only seven percent of steadfast conservatives say that the poor “have hard lives.”

Even a not-insignificant share of left-leaning groups say that the poor have it easy. But overall the widespread agreements among conservatives on this point is what’s really striking here. There are reasonable, well-intentioned arguments on either side of many poverty-related issues – about the causes of poverty (see the right half of the chart), or whether government benefits provide a leg up or simply perpetuate poverty, for instance.

Ingraham goes on to list the way that being poor isn’t exactly easy:

This kind of attitude toward the less fortunate isn’t new on the right, and its something that I see repeated on a regular basis. People who are among the long-term unemployed are seen as living off the government dole and thus not motivated to find a job, hence the Republican opposition to extended long-term unemployment benefits. People who receive food stamps are, allegedly, using their money to pay for unnecessary items, therefore they are leeches. If you have a minimum wage job and can’t make ends meet, then you should go out and get another job, get an education, or find another way to make more money. Granted, there are policy analysts on the right who make arguments regarding these types of programs who don’t frame their arguments this way, and indeed reject the premises of these arguments, however, if you pay even a little bit of attention to the rhetoric of “the base” on the right, it becomes very clear very quickly that the results of this Pew poll are a largely accurate reflection of what many people on the right think about the poor.

In some cases, I think, the issue isn’t so much lack of sympathy for people who have fallen on hard times as a seemingly tone deaf inability to realize that there are good and bad ways to frame arguments, and to do so in ways that don’t cause you to come across as a heartless jerk. This, in the end, was the problem that Mitt Romney faced in 2012. I’ve never met the man, but I honestly don’t believe that he doesn’t care about the oft-discussed “47%.” Indeed, there were plenty of testimonials regarding his own private acts of charity on his own and in connection with his Church that make it clear that the opposite is true. Similarly, many of the same people on the right who will make the “lazy” argument about people in poverty that I noted above are also very generous with their own time and money when it comes to charity toward those less fortunate, especially through their churches. For some reason, though, they seem to forget about all of that when it comes time to discuss public policy issues related to the poor and even the middle class. In 2012, Mitt Romney paid the price for that.

None of this is to concede the argument that more government and more money are the only or the best solutions to the problems of poverty. A half century of the so-called “War On Poverty” provides ample evidence to show that this is not the case, while reforms that have been implemented in the last 20 years at the state and local level have shown that there are things that can be done to help the poor that don’t involve more “welfare” as we traditionally understand it. Given poor parents more choice when it comes to their children’s education, for example, would go a long way toward improving the economic prospects of future generations and giving people a leg up out of poverty rather than just keeping them stuck in the same mire that their family came from. In some cases, such as parts of Appalachia, the stark truth of the matter is that economic opportunity is going to have to be found elsewhere, which perhaps means that small subsidies that enable people to move to areas of the country that are more economically prosperous makes more sense than pouring more money into a region that has always been dirt poor, and will likely stay that way. Most importantly, in the end the way out of poverty isn’t going to come from a government check, it’s going to come from education and gainful employment.

In the process of making arguments for these policies, though, it strikes me that conservatives would do themselves a favor if they laid off the argument that the poor are “lazy” or “have it easy.” Not only is it not true, but it makes you come across as a cold, heartless jerk and that’s not really the way to convince people to give your argument serious consideration.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Cheese_Curd says:

    Most importantly, in the end the way out of poverty isn’t going to come from a government check, it’s going to come from education and gainful employment

    Agree that education is a big piece in providing opportunities for people to elevate themselves. Unfortunately, education funding seems to be a constant target for cuts which won’t help the situation.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 4

  2. Jack says:

    Poor children are three times more likely to be affected by food scarcity and obesity

    Which is it? Are the poor suffering from food scarcity or obesity? These two conditions cannot coexist.

    On a side note, I know of no conservative complaining about being “flat broke” while charging 250k speaking fees.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 61

  3. beth says:

    Mitt Romney’s problem with the 47% tape was that he was denying what he truly believed (if indeed he is this charitable empathetic person he wanted to be portrayed as) in order to curry favor and money from the 1%. He did this constantly during the campaign, backtracking and changing his stance on issues depending on who he was talking to. I was more bothered by his attempts to distance himself from the remarks than the remarks themselves.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  4. Ron Beasley says:

    This once again brings up the question of how we are going to deal with a society that has less jobs than people that need them. Britain has faced this for years. France reduced the retirement age in an effort to address it..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  5. Jack says:

    @Cheese_Curd: DC spends $29,439 per student per year. How much more should “we” spend? Spending has risen approximately 150% since the 1970 but test scores have remained flat. Educational spending is no longer tied to grades and intelligence of the students. They still come out unable to do basic math, read above a 5th grade level, or able to point out countries on a map.

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  6. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:

    Are the poor suffering from food scarcity or obesity? These two conditions cannot coexist.

    Sure they can. But thanks for helping to prove Doug’s point.
    http://www.nufs.sjsu.edu/clariebh/Hunger%20and%20Obesity.pdf

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  7. Pinky says:

    The question was, if I recall correctly, you had to pick one of the two following possibilities: “poor people have hard lives because government benefits don’t go far enough to help them live decently” or “poor people have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything”. Excerpting the “have it easy” part from that first choice is a Gotcha game. And anyway, what value is there in giving the category statistics on a question that was part of the sorting algorithm?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  8. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    Let’s take the $2T we wasted in Iraq and put it into education. That would be a good starting point. Instead of pouring money down the drain we invest in the future of our country. It’s the Conservative thing to do.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 6

  9. Ron Beasley says:

    @Jack: I’m not sure how much of this is the fault of the schools or how much it’s the fault of the parents who can’t actually spend time to be parents.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  10. Rob in CT says:

    In my anecdotal experience – as in conversations with regular folks – yes, yes they do. They really do, and this is why people keep saying these “unfortunate” and “unhelpful” things.

    This is where stuff like “the safety net is a hammock” comes from. It’s why the 47% thing was (and STILL IS, despite the blowback from it) so popular a amongst Conservatives. It reinforces their general belief that lazy people live comfortably on their money. My mother certainly believes it. I can and sometimes do point out problems with her belief, but it just bounces off. Why? Because she wants to believe it (it’s a nifty little ego boost if you think you’re the responsible one surrounded by a bunch of idiots who’d be lost w/o you). It’s much easier to be fooled if you want to be fooled.

    Regarding your specific policy arguments (school vouchers and such), I’d say the jury is very much still out on those things. Likewise, I think you are too quick to dismiss the “War on Poverty” as it did have an impact. Poverty was reduced, but mostly at the outset and then things leveled off. Also, simultaneously there were economic changes going on that really hit the working poor/lower middle class hard. This was influenced by government policy, but it also had a lot to do with external factors (the fall of communism + capital mobility probably undermines US workers even if the Reaganites hadn’t gotten into power). What happens if the same external forces are at work and there was no War on Poverty? I don’t know, but I suspect things would have been even worse for the poor in that scenario.

    For conservatives who actually do see a role for government in responding to poverty, there is always the relatively libertarian-friendly approach of a UBI instead of our patchwork of programs. It would cost much less to administer (think of all the government layoffs! large chunks of bureucracy would be axed) and it would be *far* easier for the poor to access (this is why I, a liberal, am interested in the idea). We’d still have to fight over the funding level of course. Milton Freidman called this the negative income tax, I believe.

    The trouble is, Doug, that the % of people on the Right who would be sincerely interested in such a reform is low, and their intensity is also lower than those who would hatehatehatehatehate it with the passion of a thousand blue giant stars.

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  11. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: If you are obese, you are by definition getting food, therefore food is not scarce. Do you have problems with basic definitions?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 56

  12. Jack says:

    @Ron Beasley: Agreed. There is insufficient importance placed on schooling and good grades by the families.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  13. DrDaveT says:

    In some cases, I think, the issue isn’t so much lack of sympathy for people who have fallen on hard times as a seemingly tone deaf inability to realize that there are good and bad ways to frame arguments, and to do so in ways that don’t cause you to come across as a heartless jerk.

    I’m having a hard time telling whether you are saying that conservatives don’t really believe that the poor have it easy, or whether you are saying they need to hide that fact more skillfully. I have a problem with either.

    I think the poll results are pretty clear on what people actually believe. Given that, I think the last thing we need is to hide those beliefs more carefully. If they’re out in the open, society can address them on their merits, as you do above, with hard data. We don’t need to make conservatives look less heartless; we need to make them more empathetic, and/or give them a better understanding of the causes of, effects of, and remedies for poverty.

    I suspect that charitable behavior is not a good barometer of either empathy or understanding. The condescension of charity is psychologically firewalled from how people think about economics and opportunity, and the same people who will give a bum a dollar will fight hard to prevent the government from doing likewise. Mitt Romney (and conservatives in general) really do believe that people who are not successful must be either stupid or lazy or both. They might donate to those people out of pity for their incapacities, but only on a personal level — never on a societal level.

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  14. Pinky says:

    Mitt never said he didn’t care about the 47%. He said that if you’re looking for votes, you shouldn’t go looking among them. It was an offhand comment.

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  15. Matt Bernius says:

    As always, I think that Max Weber more or less nailed a key cause of this view is a Calvinistic sense of moralism and predetermination that has come to be part of modern capitalism.

    The net result is a combining of the concept of “success” with “morality.” Hence those who fail to be successful are somehow morally deficient. A key part of this formula is that the concept of “luck” (in particular luck of birth) is all but obliterated from the equation.

    It also ties into a critical American myth — that of the American Dream. BTW, its the continued failure of that supposed social contract (work hard and you will be rewarded) that IMHO has led to the formation of the Tea Party. It’s ok when the people who deserve to fail, fail. But when I’ve done everything right and I lose my job, then its the government’s fault.

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  16. Rob in CT says:

    Cliff, I’d say spending that ~$2 trillion on job programs (and/or infrastructure upgrades like say upgrading our power grid, etc) would have been a better choice than throwing even more money at education. I’m pro-education, but the biggest problem faced by schools isn’t funding. It’s poverty and its attendant maladies amongst the students of some of the schools. Schools in affluent/stable areas do fine. Schools in areas wracked by poverty are a mess. This is not about school funding, but rather about the fact that for a lot of school kids, their homelives are disasterous. Gainful employment for the parents > throwing more money at the school budget, IMO.

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  17. Hal_10000 says:

    Doug, I think this entire poll was basically garbage and you’re reading too much into it. Here was the question:

    Which of the following statements comes closest to your view?

    1)Poor people today have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return?

    2) Poor people have hard lives because government benefits don’t go far enough to help them live decently?

    I don’t think either of those answers is right. I think government benefits can be an impediment to progress. But I also think poor people have it difficult for a variety of reasons (many of which are a not result of government benefits “not going far enough”). The entire Pew poll was so filled with these “choose between two straw men” questions that I found the entire thing to be a useless exercise. And if I read their methodology correctly, they classified people based on their answers … then used those answers to look into people’s political philosophy. So it was basically circular logic.

    As you note, many of the conservatives who supposedly have this attitude donate generously to charity and personally volunteer for causes that help the poor. I think this is just an example of how the media artificially amplifies our political differences. The biggest difference between liberals and conservatives is how the poor should be helped, not whether.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  18. Rob in CT says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Well stated. People bring up the Just World Fallacy a lot, but it’s sort of the JWF with a twist. Things would be Just if only the devil the government wasn’t mucking things up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  19. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: If we could see a $2T increase in intelligence and scores in today’s children, I would have no problem with that, but as I said, educational spending increase 150% since the 1970s but scores still remain flat. Why continue to throw money into a black hole?

    Why should “we” continue to pay for teachers that under perform and sit in “rubber rooms”? The CA courts got it right when they voted against teacher tenure and last in first out rules that unions have shoved down our throats.

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  20. Rob in CT says:

    @Pinky:

    No, sorry, but no. It was not an off-hand comment of someone who misspoke. It was a shibboleth. I’d had heard it many times well before Romney said it. Why? Because I have “conservative” relatives and also because I read enough online that it was a meme I’d see plenty of. Romney was saying what the folks in that room wanted to hear, because many/most/all of them believe it.

    He flat out said that 47% of the population won’t ever take responsibility for themselves and given that they are hopeless disasters who just want handouts the GOP can’t get their votes. It’s not just that it was a nasty thing to say. As a factual matter, it was total nonsense.

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  21. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jack:

    Are the poor suffering from food scarcity or obesity? These two conditions cannot coexist.

    A far better formulation is that the poor suffer from the scarcity of *quality* base foods – hence the concept of food desserts.

    There is no question that there is easy availability to processed, high caloric/fat foods sold via corner “convenience” marts. Fresh (frozen and canned) vegetables, fruits, meats, and all of the “good foods” that conservatives say people *should* be buying with food stamps are typically *not* easily accessible to people in these communities — in particular those who don’t have independent transportation.

    This of course ties us into the “core” moral argument — if they *really* cared they would do whatever it takes. And while there is of course some truth to this, people tend to be blind to the large amounts of work that “really” caring requires.

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  22. Pinky says:

    @Hal_10000: Thanks for saying what I said but coherenter. There is actually a value in such a survey, looking for common patterns, but it’s no good for diagnosis.

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  23. wr says:

    @Jack: “Which is it? Are the poor suffering from food scarcity or obesity? These two conditions cannot coexist.”

    Does it make you feel good to parade your ignorance so proudly?

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  24. Pinky says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Mitt Romney (and conservatives in general) really do believe that people who are not successful must be either stupid or lazy or both.

    Citation?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

  25. Rob in CT says:

    @Hal_10000: @Pinky:
    >:

    Agreed about the survey questions. This happens a lot, where the questions are basically dumb. GIGO.

    It’s a question of how much emphasis people put on which side. Liberals don’t typically believe that poverty has nothing to do with personal choices. Conservatives don’t typically believe that it’s nothing but personal choice. Liberals put more weight outside forces and conservatives put more on personal choices. That is a real difference, though, and it matters when it comes time to make policy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  26. beth says:

    @Matt Bernius: Not to mention that with parents working multiple jobs it’s not always easy to prepare nutritious meals. Of course conservatives would say the poor should come home after working 12 hours, help the kids with their homework, do household chores and then stay up all night preparing food.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3

  27. KM says:

    The Just-world hypothesis has a lot to do with this. The concept is good things happen to good people while bad things happen to bad people. In order to feel secure and comfortable in a random world where you can prosper or wither through no fault of your own, some people need to assuage their guilt/sense by making it a right/wrong game. This way, they feel better about themselves by saying they “earned” their way through life while others failed to do so. Religion plays into this: God rewards wealth and physical blessings to the pious, the poor must have sinned or fallen short for God to deprive them.

    The whole concept of the “worthy poor” is one that directly places blame, no if ands or buts. They equate poor=failure in a world where wealth=success. It is a moral failing to be poor in some religious lines of thought and is a poor reflection of character. They must be shysters out to steal or take advantage since they can’t “succeed” doing “honest work”. “Worthy poor” is almost like a caricature of Limbo – a place for financial failures who you can’t really pin any sort of crime/sin/failing on but certainly can’t make it to $$$ Heaven for Reasons No One Is Comfortable Dealing With.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  28. Ron Beasley says:

    @Jack: I think this stated with my generation, I’m 68, the baby boomers. I did spend time with my 2 sons helping them with their homework and the first thing I knew their friends were coming over every evening to participate. It was both a rewarding and sad experience since many of my son’s friends had parents who were school teachers.

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  29. anjin-san says:

    @ Jack

    Which is it? Are the poor suffering from food scarcity or obesity? These two conditions cannot coexist.

    Of course they can. If you diet is dominated by cheap, wildly unhealthy food like Top Ramen and $2 fast food specials, you can absolutely be dealing with food scarcity & obesity, along with malnutrition and retarded development & health problems such as childhood onset diabetes.

    Keep in mind that a lot of the least expensive “food” items sold in our society barely quality as food. They are certainly not anything that supports good health, in fact a lot of them are harmful to health to the point of being toxic.

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  30. Rob in CT says:

    Coupla things about Mitt, Pinky.

    All of the following is from the transcript of the tape that included the 47% thing:

    These are chronological:

    By the way, both my dad and Ann’s dad did quite well in their life, but when they came to the end of their lives, and, and passed along inheritances to Ann and to me, we both decided to give it all away. So, I had inherited nothing. Everything that Ann and I have we earned the old-fashioned way, and that’s by hard work and…[applause]

    This is staggering obliviousness at best. It’s lying at worst. It’s total bullshit that he didn’t benefit massively from being George Romney’s son. But man, he had it tough – he had to sell stock to pay college tuition!

    I say that because there’s the percent that’s, “Oh, you were born with a silver spoon,” you know, “You never had to earn anything,” and so forth. And, and frankly, I was born with a silver spoon, which is the greatest gift you could have, which is to get born in America. I’ll tell ya, there is—95 percent of life is set up for you if you’re born in this country.

    For a second there, he teetered on the brink of having a clue. But nope, he went straight for USA is #1 instead of actually thinking about how privileged he is *within* US society. He’s not wrong that being born in the USA was pretty lucky, but in the context of US politics it’s also pointless.

    There then follows a bunch of stuff about people working for a pittance in China and how this shows that Americans are lazy (rather than showing that Chinese are desperate), but I’ll try to keep this from becoming overly long, so, onward:

    There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. And I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49, 48—he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. And he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people—I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

    Stupid, lazy people who won’t “take responsibilty for their lives” and depend on government and are voting in lockstep for Democrats. This is the belief. It’s bullshit (there is indeed an income correlation to voting, but it’s not *nearly* like this), but it tickles these guys to think it.

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  31. Matt Bernius says:

    @beth:
    Agreed. But again this gets to the entire problem of the “if they cared” argument.

    My general rule of thumb is to look realistically at the amount of “caring”/”work” you do in your personal life and try not to expect people with *less* than you to work *harder* than you do.

    BTW, this is also one of the problems with the “food stamp” challenge — i.e. buying only as much food as someone on food stamps can afford. The average person, living a middle class life, with the supporting amenities, can pull this off pretty easily (beans are a wonderful and cheap base ingredient).

    To truly gain empathy, I suggest using only public transportation to *get to and from the store.* Because that’s a critical part of the larger *effort* issue.

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  32. anjin-san says:

    @ Pinky

    Mitt Romney (and conservatives in general) really do believe that people who are not successful must be either stupid or lazy or both.

    Citation?

    Here ya go:

    There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/full-transcript-mitt-romney-secret-video

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

  33. Rob in CT says:

    @Rob in CT:

    An edit: the Chinese factory thing wasn’t really about how lazy US workers are. Apologies. He was talking about having it made just by being virtue of being born here again. This is not exactly false – it is lucky to be born American instead of the developing/underdeveloped world. What amazes me is that he and many others cannot seem to stretch this idea to its obvious conclusion: it’s also extremely lucky to be born to wealthy (or even just comfortably well-off) Americans vs. being born in the ghetto. But nope, at that point the brain disengages and we get stuff about earning everything themselves and the lazy moochers and whatnot. Yeesh. I guess it just gets too personal at that point. Easier to believe a fairy tale than face the possibility that your own affluence is due, in part, to a bunch of stuff you had nothing to do with.

    In short, the best decision Mitt Romney ever made was being born the son of George Romney. Not just b/c of wealth, but also b/c George Romney seems to have had his act together in other ways.

    This is also true of me. Best thing that I ever did was get born to my parents.

    This should not be hard for people to admit, but it is b/c it does rather mess with one’s ability to spout off about how great one is b/c one has money.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  34. Ol' Nat says:

    @Jack:

    I would have no problem with that, but as I said, educational spending increase 150% since the 1970s but scores still remain flat. Why continue to throw money into a black hole?

    Does that 150% take inflation into account? If not, then we are spending significantly less in real terms than we did in 1970.

    Also, at some level there is a human element: if you doubled your track team’s budget, how significantly should race times drop? I know that this argument doesn’t work very well—we should assume that we can get universal literacy if we work at it right. On the other hand, I don’t think spending is the right metric. You can’t turn an inner-city thug into a PhD just by pumping money into his school, but if you stop funding his school you will lose what gains the school has offered him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  35. anjin-san says:

    To truly gain empathy, I suggest using only public transportation to *get to and from the store.*

    Bingo. And lets take a look at the absence of a decent quality supermarket (something most of us take utterly for granted) in many low-weatlh neighborhoods. It’s kind of hard to put decent meals on the table when your best shopping option is the meager food aisle at a mini mart or liquor store.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  36. Rob in CT says:

    @Ol’ Nat:

    Education spending has risen even in inflation-adjusted dollars. I think some of that is b/c we ask our schools to do a lot more now. From special ed to gifted classes to school lunch programs to security. And yeah, at some point you have to get into diminishing returns. That’s a given.

    I think we’ve long since picked the low-hanging fruit (and most of the rest of it higher in the tree too!) in that regard. The problems we still have are about poverty (and things that tend to go hand-in-hand with poverty, like instability, violence, etc.).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  37. Jack says:

    @Matt Bernius: With this, I agree. But if grocery stores open in those areas and cannot maintain a profitable business, they close. Why? Because the clientele PREFERS fast food.

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  38. Jack says:

    @anjin-san:

    Of course they can. If you diet is dominated by cheap, wildly unhealthy food like Top Ramen and $2 fast food specials, you can absolutely be dealing with food scarcity & obesity, along with malnutrition and retarded development & health problems such as childhood onset diabetes.

    If food, even poor quality, high fat food is available then there is no food scarcity. There may be a “quality” food scarcity, but there is no “food scarcity”.

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  39. DrDaveT says:

    @Rob in CT: As everyone knows and nobody wants to deal with, the base problem is poverty. Fix poverty, and the test scores magically fix themselves. Fix poverty, and crime goes way down. Fix poverty, and public health improves dramatically. Failing schools are symptoms; you can’t fix them in isolation. If your hair is falling out because of radiation poisoning, no amount of spending on Rogaine is going to help.

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  40. Yolo Contendere says:

    In some cases, I think, the issue isn’t so much lack of sympathy for people who have fallen on hard times as a seemingly tone deaf inability to realize that there are good and bad ways to frame arguments, and to do so in ways that don’t cause you to come across as a heartless jerk.

    If your main concern is how to frame arguments so you don’t come across as a heartless jerk, I would say you are a heartless jerk.

    A half century of the so-called “War On Poverty” provides ample evidence to show that this is not the case, while reforms that have been implemented in the last 20 years at the state and local level have shown that there are things that can be done to help the poor that don’t involve more “welfare” as we traditionally understand it.

    We have not had a half century of a “War on Poverty”. We had maybe two decades. Reagan started the war on the “War on Poverty” 30+ years ago. Those 30 years have been a gradual dismantling of the social safety net. The last 20 years of “reforms” that you admit to have done little to alleviate poverty.

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  41. Jack says:

    @Ol’ Nat:

    On the other hand, I don’t think spending is the right metric. You can’t turn an inner-city thug into a PhD just by pumping money into his school, but if you stop funding his school you will lose what gains the school has offered him.

    Agreed. This is why I don’t think “more” educational spending is the metric either. At some point parents need to have some responsibility for their children’s education as well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  42. Paul L. says:

    I have a poor sibling who is always asking family for money.
    Enjoying the progressive view here that their life choices are not in any way responsible for them being poor.

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  43. Rob in CT says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Nifty analogy.

    Not wanting to deal with it is part of it, but also there is the fact that the base problem – poverty – is a daunting challenge. It’s not that we haven’t taken it on. The New Deal, various post-WWII programs (GI bill) and of course the War on Poverty. It’s just a really, really tough nut to crack. People are complicated.

    I think there are lots of folks just despair because the problem is so hard.

    I think this feeds into the “school reform” push. We don’t think we can really do much about poverty anymore, so we focus on the schools (and specifically the teachers). Them, we can control. Not that it will get us anywhere, IMO.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  44. Jack says:

    Unfortunately, you only need to read a couple of stories about people trading their food stamps/EBT cards for cash and pulling out cash at ATMs in strip clubs to result in a broad brush painting of all people on food stamps/EBTs to be lazy and living large on the taxpayer dime. I personally know people who do this. They have their large LED flat panel TVs, latest gaming system, etc.. Yet, they continue to want more. Taxpayer assistance is not so you can live as well as someone who earns 60k or more a year, it’s for basic necessities.

    I go back to the statement that America’s poor live better than Europe’s middle class.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2013/06/01/astonishing-numbers-americas-poor-still-live-better-than-most-of-the-rest-of-humanity/

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  45. anjin-san says:

    Because the clientele PREFERS fast food.

    Here in the high wealth bay area, there is a fast food joint on damn near every corner. I would say that a vast number of Americans prefer fast food, or, failing that, default to fast food because it is convenient.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  46. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jack:

    At some point parents need to have some responsibility for their children’s education as well.

    If it was only this simple. While, yes, parents do need to act more responsibly — we also need to acknowledge that in many of these communities we are dealing with multiple generations of apathy created in part through the fact that opportunities were *not* equally distributed.

    Part of the “social contract” of education was if you did well in school you got opportunities. If, across multiple generations, education has *not* been seen as helping people get ahead, its very hard to turn that opinion around.

    Further, if you are being told you (or your child) is attending the worst performing schools in the area, think about how that impacts you belief that you’ll be competitive after graduation?

    Finally, if the only opportunities available within a community are seen as low paying, unstable minimum wage jobs, there *isn’t* going to be an emphasis on the value of education.

    The fact is, low performing districts will probably no improve until the working conditions and opportunities for parents improve.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  47. Rob in CT says:

    @Paul L.:

    That’s not the view, of course, any more than 100% of conservatives think that poverty is 100% the fault of the poor. It’s more nuanced than that on both sides. Hal pointed out the problem with the survey questions.

    Btw, I too have a messed up relative who is always broke despite being helped by family many times. Funny thing about it is that when disaster struck the family many years ago (death of both parents, kids aged 10 and 12 suddenly orphaned), she took them in and did an absolutely kickass job of raising them and turning out two fully functional adults. With herself, she’s borderline helpless. But man did she ever do yeoman (yeowoman?) work there.

    Here’s the thing, though: whether the family helps her out or the government helps her out, she’s gonna be there either way. We don’t get to wish her away. She has to be dealt with in some fashion.

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  48. Jack says:

    @anjin-san: Which backs up my statement that there is no “food scarcity”. You cannot force people to make decisions that are good for them….yet. With the passing of the ACA, who knows how far government can go in this arena.

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  49. grumpy realist says:

    @Jack: Dude, you can be obese AND be lacking in a nutritional diet. the two don’t necessarily negate each other.

    The problem with foods like vegetables, fruits, and meats is that they SPOIL EASILY. And if you’re always having to worry about your electricity going off, then it’s much more prudent to get stuff in cans or eat stuff which you can otherwise store outside a fridge.

    And let’s not get into the “food deserts.” When you have to take several buses just to get to an area that has decent fruits and veggies, that’s even more of a burden.

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  50. gVOR08 says:

    @Rob in CT: It was such delicious irony that Mitt ended up with 47% of the vote.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  51. anjin-san says:

    @ Jack

    I go back to the statement that America’s poor live better than Europe’s middle class.

    Have you ever traveled? I can pick a restaurant at random in Paris and have a meal that is better than the best meal a lot of Americans will have in their entire lives.

    The best seafood I’ve ever had was at a place in Paris I picked at random. And I am a gourmet cook from a family of gourmet cooks who worked in restaurants for many years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  52. Jack says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Dude, you can be obese AND be lacking in a nutritional diet. the two don’t necessarily negate each other.

    The article didn’t say “lack nutritional diet”. It said Poor children are three times more likely to be affected by food scarcity and obesity.

    If you are obese, you are not affected by “food scarcity”.

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  53. Rob in CT says:

    @Rob in CT:

    A followup re: relatives. My family has resources. We could help this family member out. Not just my parents, but others as well. Poor families do not have those type of resources. Many simply do not have the ability to deal with their dysfunctional brother or whoever. And those who do have a bit of a dilemna on their hands: do they help out their messed up relative or take care of themselves (thereby possibly escaping poverty)? This is not a simple choice for folks to make.

    And when it is the case that family cannot or willnot help, what happens? That person doesn’t magically vanish. They are still around. And whether it’s via a social program or the prison system, you and I will likely end up spending money on them. I’d rather spend the money trying to keep such folks out of jail and semi-functional than pretend it’s not my problem and then wonder why there’s so many people in jail and we’re spending so much money on police, prisons and the justice system.

    edit: there are similar issues w/healthcare. Unless we repeal EMTALA and we’re willing to let folks die in the street, we pay at some point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  54. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jack:

    But if grocery stores open in those areas and cannot maintain a profitable business, they close. Why? Because the clientele PREFERS fast food.

    That’s a simplification of things to the point of being all but bullshit.

    Most grocery stores are now chains and based on very specific models for maintaining profitability. City locations — outside of larger metropolitan areas generally speaking — violate many of those models. Issues with delivery and other factors tend to shift their attention to suburban locations where square footage is less expensive and they can do more warehousing.

    Likewise, the stocking of fresh groceries tends to require a certain economy of scale. While they are realtively cheap, they also have a higher spoilage rate. Given that small corner stores are operating on tight margins, even if vegetables were selling well, it’s still much more cost effective for small stores to stock cheaper, processed foods that have extended shelf lives.

    The net result is that the “market demands” shift the food selections available to customers and the customers adjust their buying habits. You can’t say a “clientele” prefers X food when there are no other easily accessible alternatives to X food.

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  55. Rob in CT says:

    I go back to the statement that America’s poor live better than Europe’s middle class.

    What are you basing this on? How do you define poor and middle class, respectively. Are you using Europe as a whole, including the former communist states in the east, or are you talking about the social democracies of the West?

    Because, you know, some of us have actually been to Europe and this sounds like fairly mindless USA #1! stuff.

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  56. grumpy realist says:

    @Jack: If you’ve ever seen the quality of vegetables that such stores stock, you’d understand why…..

    I noticed this when what had been a very good food store located near the lower income part of town changed hands. The new owners seemed to be totally clueless that if you want to get people to purchase veggies and fruits, you don’t put out old and decaying veggies and fruits. It was astonishing.

    Historically, this didn’t used to happen. Even poor sharecroppers were able to have fresh veggies, and yes, they ate them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  57. Jack says:

    @anjin-san: I said live better, not eat better.

    The typical American poor, own a home, own at least one car, have more rooms in their home and more square footage, have AC/heat, have more than one TV, have gaming system(s) and games (at over $50 a pop), have cable or satellite TV, have oven, stove, and microwave. A large portion of Europe’s middle class cannot claim to live as well.

    Take the average POOR person in America and tell them they’re going to have to live like the AVERAGE EUROPEAN .. and they’ll start screaming racism, discrimination, oppression, and every other leftist trigger word they can remember.

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  58. Jack says:

    @Rob in CT: Did you read the article at the link?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

  59. grumpy realist says:

    @Jack: I guess that in your world, the British seamen never had to worry about scurvy because they had as much hard tack on board as they wanted?

    Just having food of one kind around doesn’t mean you don’t have food scarcity.

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  60. Rob in CT says:

    they’ll start screaming racism, discrimination, oppression, and every other leftist trigger word they can remember.

    No disdain for the poor here, folks, nope! Jack certainly does not believe that the poor in the US have it made. Oh, wait, he absolutely does.

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  61. Teresa Rothaar says:

    @Paul L.:

    Your sibling is one individual, and it would be folly to assume that everyone in dire financial straits handles their affairs in exactly the same way.

    It would also be folly to assume that life choices have nothing to do with poverty. That’s not a reasonable hypothesis, but neither is assuming that we all have complete and 100% control of our lives, all the time. “Luck” exists, although I prefer to call it “random chance.”

    The root causes of poverty are more complicated than either side makes them out to be, particularly since they are often highly individualized. There are heroin addicts who are not poor due to being the beneficiaries of positive random chance. There are highly educated, skilled individuals who are indigent because they were the victims of negative random chance.

    There is also such a thing as thinking you have made the correct decision at the time you made it, but later discovering that it was the worst decision you could have possibly made. Life choices aren’t always as black-and-white as, “Gee, should I try heroin or not?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  62. Jack says:

    Funny though, if you ever look at a chart of “poverty” in America, you will notice that “poverty” declined every single year, since they started tracking in the 1950s. That was every single year … until Lyndon Johnson implemented his “Great Society!” Now the rate has always bounced between 12 and 15%.

    http://www.cato.org/blog/dramatic-increase-poverty-rate-one-small-step-obama-one-giant-step-so-called-war-poverty#utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Cato-at-liberty+%28Cato+at+Liberty%29

    In America you can do as well working one week a month at minimum wage as you can working $60,000-a-year, full-time, high-stress job. That’s right, “a one-parent family of three making $14,500 a year (minimum wage) has more disposable income than a family making $60,000 a year.” Means-test welfare assistance is on track to top $10 trillion in this decade alone! Sure sucks to be “poor” in America, doesn’t it?

    http://www.zerohedge.com/article/entitlement-america-head-household-making-minimum-wage-has-more-disposable-income-family-mak

    Does that answer the question “Do Conservatives Think The Poor ‘Have It Easy?’”?

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  63. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    Did you look at the link I provided?
    Or are you going to insist on continuing to be a poster-boy for the Dunning-Kruger Effect?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  64. Rick DeMent says:
  65. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:

    The typical American poor, own a home, own at least one car, have more rooms in their home and more square footage, have AC/heat, have more than one TV, have gaming system(s) and games (at over $50 a pop), have cable or satellite TV, have oven, stove, and microwave.

    Can you provide a link that backs this up, please?

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  66. Teresa Rothaar says:

    @Rob in CT: That’s really weird.

    However, I have seen situations where otherwise intelligent, hard-working people seem incapable of making sound financial decisions. There are physicians who have to leave the handling of their money to others, say a spouse who puts them on an allowance, else they will end up indigent.

    There’s a lot of talk about poor people buying TV’s and lottery tickets, but no mention at all of wealthy people who blow money on exotic vacations, antiques, jewelry, new cars every year, etc. I know several people who once made six figures and are now on their last nickel. If they hadn’t lived as though they were millionaires during the time they made six figures, they wouldn’t be struggling so much now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  67. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jack:

    The typical American poor, own a home, own at least one car, have more rooms in their home and more square footage, have AC/heat, have more than one TV, have gaming system(s) and games (at over $50 a pop), have cable or satellite TV, have oven, stove, and microwave.

    Citation?

    In particular, I’m interested in the proof to back up your claim that the average poor individual/family in the US “owns a home.”

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  68. gVOR08 says:

    @Matt Bernius: George Lakoff in Whose Freedom and other works has a pretty good take on this. In their “Strict Father” framing of the world conservatives very much do equate morality and success. Morality will produce wealth. Wealth, or lack thereof, is sufficient proof of morality or lack thereof.

    @Hal_10000: Lakoff also says that for conservatives charity is not about helping the recipient, it’s about the virtue of the donor. It’s not about helping the poor, it’s preening.
    And yes, the poll is shaky, but it’s impossible to watch and read conservatives and not reach this conclusion.

    @Pinky: A cite for you. Lakoff is tedious, but well worth a read.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  69. Pinky says:

    @Yolo Contendere:

    Those 30 years have been a gradual dismantling of the social safety net.

    Specifics?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  70. wr says:

    @beth: ” Of course conservatives would say the poor should come home after working 12 hours, help the kids with their homework, do household chores and then stay up all night preparing food.”

    And then go to their second job!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3

  71. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jack:

    Funny though, if you ever look at a chart of “poverty” in America, you will notice that “poverty” declined every single year, since they started tracking in the 1950s. That was every single year … until Lyndon Johnson implemented his “Great Society!” Now the rate has always bounced between 12 and 15%.

    http://www.cato.org/blog/dramatic-increase-poverty-rate-one-small-step-obama-one-giant-step-so-called-war-poverty#utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Cato-at-liberty+%28Cato+at+Liberty%29

    Funny how you neglect to mention that — according to that same article — there wasn’t an upward spike in poverty rates until the 1980’s and Reagan’s implementation of supply side economics and the acceleration of moving manufacturing jobs out of the US. Neither of those could *possibly* have any effect on poverty rates.

    Of course not.

    Likewise the corresponding fall in poverty from (an artificially inflated high due to the great depression) had absolutely *nothing* to do with the post WW2 manufacturing boom (which in turn was created by the decimation of the European Manufacturing infrastructure).

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  72. Matt Bernius says:

    @gVOR08:
    Yeah, Lakoff is largely recycling Weber’s argument and grafting his particular breed of socio-linguistics onto the argument.

    I like Lakoff, but I still think Weber said it far better.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  73. Rob in CT says:

    @Jack:

    Yes. I was entirely unsurprised to see it was written by Tim Worstall, btw. Love the bit about whining and the closing bit about why are we even talking about this? Classic. Anyway…

    The USA is indeed a rich country and, therefore, its poor do well in comparison to poor countries. This gets sticky when one has to hand-waive away, say, Finland (as Worstall does). His argument is that we’re rich because we let “capitalism, red in tooth and claw, rip away and then make the poor richer.” Whether he means that economic growth does this magically (rising tide lifts all boats) or via transfers is unclear.

    The tricky bit is comparing with nations like Canada, the UK, Germany and France. Worstall references three different measures. Generally, it shows our bottom 10% doing a bit worse than those in Scandanavia & Canada, and slightly better than the UK, Germany and France. I’d say that’s rather mixed evidence, with nobody able to declare victory.

    I would also like to see if the data looks similar if you split it up some more. What does the bottom 1% look like? The 10th-30th percentiles? Do things match pretty well or do we start to see disparities. This isn’t just about the very poor. The might be poor if anything goes wrong group is larger and in my view quite important. The safety net we have exists in large part to help those people avoid falling into poverty and getting stuck. Worstall’s charts don’t tell us much about those groups (the NY Times graph he references does but is comparing against developing countries, not OECD nations).

    Also, too: there’s also the argument about how much wealth disparity matters vs. measures of absolute poverty. As Worstall notes, the rich in the US do really, really well vs. their peers (whereas the poor in the US basically hold their own against their peers). He has no problem with this. I do, for a variety of reasons.

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  74. Teresa Rothaar says:

    I’m not buying this assertion that the middle class in Europe are living in 3rd-World-type squalor.

    I’ll pick on one issue in particular: car ownership. In Europe, public transportation is plentiful, and many if not most people have no need for a vehicle. The same cannot be said for the U.S. outside of NYC. The majority of Americans need cars simply to get to work. Our society is not set up for people to “just ride a bike” or “just take the bus,” the way it is set up in Europe. Europeans are not suffering because they do not have cars. A car is a liability there, not a benefit, just as it is in NYC.

    Additionally, the cost of these so-called “luxury” items needs to be taken into consideration. I don’t know the situation in Europe, but in the U.S., you’d be hard-pressed to even buy a TV that’s not a flat screen these days; as far as I know, they aren’t manufactured anymore. I was in Rite Aid this morning and noticed that they were selling a 19″ flat-screen. It didn’t have a price on it, but being as this was Rite Aid, I doubt it cost that much.

    Window A/C units can be purchased used for very little money. Actually, TV’s can, too, as well as most other electronic items.

    I find it difficult to believe that people in Europe cannot buy used electronics on the cheap. They DO have Craigslist over there.

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  75. Rob in CT says:

    In America you can do as well working one week a month at minimum wage as you can working $60,000-a-year, full-time, high-stress job. That’s right, “a one-parent family of three making $14,500 a year (minimum wage) has more disposable income than a family making $60,000 a year.”

    This is obvious bullshit. You really need to think this through. It’s just not true – somebody’s fed you a line and you bought it because you wanted to.

    Does that answer the question “Do Conservatives Think The Poor ‘Have It Easy?’”?

    Yes, yes it does. Loud & clear, Jack ‘ole boy!

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  76. beth says:

    @Jack: Right off the top of my head with that chart – the poor people aren’t getting cash for the Medicaid/CHIP benefits. They’re being paid to healthcare providers. If they weren’t getting the benefit, they most likely would forgo the doctor’s visits so you really can’t count that as disposable income. Also, the $60,000 per year person is probably getting $500-900 worth of health insurance a month from their employer – why isn’t that added to their disposable income too? That’s just one thing wrong with it – I’m sure if I looked harder I could find more. Or I could also find a ridiculous chart that agrees with my worldview.

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  77. wr says:

    @Jack: “If food, even poor quality, high fat food is available then there is no food scarcity. There may be a “quality” food scarcity, but there is no “food scarcity”.”

    Absolutely right. And the same goes for health care. All these people whined about how the poor couldn’t afford health care, but they could always go to that unlicensed Salvadoran medical student who had the clinic in his garage. Ridiculous to claim they were shut out!

    And banks? How can they complain about not having access to banks when there are payday loan offices on every corner. They have it easy!

    Man, these poor people are whiners. Am I right, Jack?

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  78. Pinky says:

    @gVOR08: Lakoff as a reference for how conservatives think? I suppose Pat Buchanan would be an acceptable reference on how liberals think, too?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  79. Rick DeMent says:

    @Jack:

    The article didn’t say “lack nutritional diet”. It said Poor children are three times more likely to be affected by food scarcity and obesity.

    Dude, are you just simply the dullest person on the face of the planet? It’s really simple, the poor are three times more likely to be either obese due to the scarcity of nutritional food or simply no food at all, there are two slightly different categories here. It;s like saying Conservative are three times more likely to be clueless due to lower cognitive ability and cunning obtuseness.

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  80. michael reynolds says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    The net result is a combining of the concept of “success” with “morality.” Hence those who fail to be successful are somehow morally deficient. A key part of this formula is that the concept of “luck” (in particular luck of birth) is all but obliterated from the equation.

    Absolutely.

    I have actually found myself in long online arguments with people who insist that my own success was strictly the result of hard work. They are so committed to this childish world view that they actually insist that my life story cannot possibly be what I know for a fact it was. Complete strangers tell me that the actual facts of my own life cannot be true because of a conflict with their ideology. It’s bizarre.

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  81. Rob in CT says:

    Regarding the bit about the War on Poverty and poverty rates, if you actually look at that graph closely here’s what happens:

    Poverty fell and fell and fell – the USA came out of a Great Depression and had a sustained boom. Then the WoP starts. Poverty continues to fall (at about the same rate, says my eyeball, so that doesn’t prove anything). Then there’s an uptick aound 1974… hmm, what happened around then? The 1973 oil shock did nasty things to the US economy.

    Then it starts falling again. Then after 1980, it starts up again, rises, and levels off. In the 80s, we weren’t exactly governed by people who were gung-ho about the WoP. Also, and almost certainly more importantly, thats when we started to lose jobs overseas. This was aided and abetted by free-trade policies, but I think it was pretty inevitable at some point. China had, by then, quietly put communism aside. The dominoes were falling, in reverse. Capital was always going to flow to the developing world and utilize the super-cheap labor there. Could we have managed this better? I think so, but I also think it would’ve been a bit like buiding dikes to keep out the tide. You can do it, but you’re working aganist a force of nature.

    Long story short: government policy can, in my view, do helpful or harmful things, but basically it does this at the margins. It can and often does get swamped by other factors. There were counterproductive things done in the 1950s and 1960s, but we basically got away with them because we were otherwise doing so well.

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  82. Jack says:
  83. wr says:

    @Jack: “The typical American poor, own a home, own at least one car, have more rooms in their home and more square footage, have AC/heat, have more than one TV, have gaming system(s) and games (at over $50 a pop), have cable or satellite TV, have oven, stove, and microwave. A large portion of Europe’s middle class cannot claim to live as well.”

    I hate to burst your little bubble of cluelessness, but not everyone in the world considers owning a home, have more rooms than they can use, more square footage, more than one TV and game systems “living well.”

    Some people think that living in a house or apartment — owned or rented — that is big enough for their needs and who don’t have to spend their lives worrying that they’ll be bankrupted or dead if they have a medical crisis, who don’t face a plunge into poverty if their job goes away, who get six or eight weeks of paid vacation and time off to spend with their young children is what really defines “living well.”

    The fact that you define living well as having a bunch of TVs and a video game system speaks more to the intellectual, emotional and moral poverty of your own existence than it does to the living standards of Europeans.

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  84. beth says:

    @michael reynolds: And if you practice enough, you too can play basketball like Michael Jordan right? And since you’re a hard working writer, I assume you’ll be as good as Shakespeare in your lifetime.

    Just because one person makes it successfully out of poverty with no help doesn’t mean we’re all equipped with the same talent, luck and drive. Why do they have such a problem with the fact that not all humans are exactly the same?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  85. wr says:

    @Matt Bernius: “In particular, I’m interested in the proof to back up your claim that the average poor individual/family in the US “owns a home.””

    It probably helps if you narrow down your results. Like to one survey taken, say, in 2007.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  86. anjin-san says:

    @ Jack

    The typical American poor, own a home, own at least one car, have more rooms in their home and more square footage, have AC/heat, have more than one TV, have gaming system(s) and games (at over $50 a pop), have cable or satellite TV, have oven, stove, and microwave.

    I spend about 10 hours a week with people who are legitimately poor, (though certainly not near the poorest of the poor). This claim is utter, total BS. These people live in a flophouse. No heat. No AC. They live in small rooms that have to hold everything they own. The place is rickety and broken down. Windows are missing, covered with plywood. In spite of this, rent takes the lions share of most residents income.

    Lots of them do have more than one TV – one where the picture works, and one where the sound works, stacked on top of each other. They do have a stove and an oven (gosh, what luxury they live in) the kitchen is shared between 12 people, as are the two baths. Most of them miss meals every week, and some of the meals they do get come from soup kitchens.

    @ Jack

    When you have to lie to support your argument, you don’t have much of an argument to make.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 2

  87. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    Sorry Jack…that’s an opinion piece from a extreme right-wing freak show.
    (apparently your opinions are not your own)
    Provide a link to statistical data that supports your point, please.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  88. C. Clavin says:

    Lighten up everyone…I think Jack is doing a fantastic job of representing for the Republican view-point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  89. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jack:

    http://townhall.com/columnists/nealboortz/2012/09/05/the_risk_of_being_poor

    Yeah, so not only does that article *not* link to the source of its “statistics”, I will note that no where in it does it mention *home ownership” or claim that the majority of the American poor (a term that the article fails to define), *own* their home.

    Last I checked the majority of US poor rents. Which, btw is critical, as *home ownership* is one of the most critical sources of intergenerational wealth, and intergenerational wealth is one of the best markers for intergenerational economic advancement.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  90. wr says:

    @Teresa Rothaar: I’ve noticed that a lot of electronics are a lot more expensive in England than here for some reason — basically the same number of pounds as we charge in dollars. I’m assuming that’s the result of higher taxes that go to pay for superior infrastructure…

    Not that this is at all determinitive of quality of life, unless you’re trying to prove some sick point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  91. Rob in CT says:

    By the way, I’ve been trying to get at the data that the Economist used to generate the chart that Worstall uses first in his article. For whatever reason (likely b/c I’m using a shitty browser), I cannot get it to work properly. I was trying to make sure they included healthcare access as a factor. If they didn’t, that’s a glaring flaw when comparing the USA to other OECD nations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  92. Tillman says:

    I think this thread gave me a headache.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  93. Jack says:

    @Rob in CT: I am not arguing that there are not really needy people in America. We should help those. However, those are not the ones conservatives like myself are complaining about. I’m complaining about the people who live off of taxpayers year after year who always seem to be able to buy the latest cell phone, get the latest gaming system, buy the latest sneakers, and still have money left over for recreational drugs.

    I have no problem with recreational drugs, I don’t partake, but could really care less if others do. But money is fungible. If you are asking me to pay for your rent, food, gas, etc., but still have money left over for drugs and games, and cell phones, then you should be getting less from taxpayers.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 18

  94. Matt Bernius says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I have actually found myself in long online arguments with people who insist that my own success was strictly the result of hard work.

    That said, and this is the *oh so difficult* part of the equation, your success wouldn’t have been possible *without* that hard work.

    But that’s not to say that we couldn’t easily shift some random facts (i.e. person X versus person Y reviews your manuscript) to come up with a scenario where all that hard work never paid off. After all, how many publishing companies rejected the initial Harry Potter manuscript?

    But no one likes to acknowledge that level of causality. At least not here in the West. So rather than witchcraft, we have the notion of a just world.

    The challenge of creating policy is to come up with a path that deals with the oh too real gap between *hard work* and *success* — especially when there are increasingly fewer opportunities for people coming from a lower social strata to pursue traditional paths of success.

    In some ways, I don’t think this will seriously be able to be addressed for another generation. In part it’s going to take *visible*, extended intergenerational poverty hits midwest “fly-over” communities that its really going to take hold.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  95. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “I have actually found myself in long online arguments with people who insist that my own success was strictly the result of hard work”

    There’s a scene in Stardust Memories where Woody Allen’s character — a rich and famous movie director — has met an old high school friend who’s upset because his old acquaintance is rich and he’s a poor working schmuch. And Allen’s character says something to the effect of “I was lucky because I happened to be born into a society that puts a high value on funny people. If I’d been born a few years earlier in Germany I’d be a lamp shade.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  96. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:

    I’m complaining about the people who live off of taxpayers year after year who always seem to be able to buy the latest cell phone, get the latest gaming system, buy the latest sneakers, and still have money left over for recreational drugs.

    So you are complaining about unicorns?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  97. Jack says:

    @Rick DeMent: Dude, you cannot be obese and have no access to food. Period.

    Who’s being obtuse?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 17

  98. wr says:

    Hey, just a shout out to the moderators and commenters — this is something like the fourth or fifth thread to sail past a hundred comments in a day. Good job posting thought provoking articles and comments!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  99. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: If you are saying that those people don’t exist, I suggest you get out of your mom’s basement more often.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9

  100. Rob in CT says:

    @Jack:

    You want to help the deserving poor. It’s the undeserving poor you don’t want to help. [Dickens is grimacing somewhere]

    It might be surprising, but that’s basically impossible to do. And doing it – trying to test people getting aid for drugs and other measures – costs even more money!

    Btw, I don’t mind people getting really rich off of doing useful things. I don’t mind the deserving rich. I mind the undeserving rich. So, let’s tax the undeserving rich to pay for the undeserving poor and you and I can pay for the deserving poor. There, sorted. ;)

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 2

  101. wr says:

    @beth: “And since you’re a hard working writer, I assume you’ll be as good as Shakespeare in your lifetime.”

    And even if you choose to believe that, there’s also the issue that being a good or even great artist will make you rich. I don’t think Van Gogh could have been a greater or more important painter, and I believe he sold all of one painting in his life.

    Which to a Republican makes him a loser.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  102. Teresa Rothaar says:

    I never realized that stoves, ovens, microwaves, and refrigerators were “luxury” items.

    I also reiterate that I find it exceedingly difficult to believe that the typical middle class European has NONE of those things, and that they cannot afford to have a TV or heating/cooling, either. MAYBE if they’re living in one of the 3rd World-like little countries that split off from the old USSR, but certainly not in modern Western nations like France and the UK.

    I like the point that WR made, that not everyone WANTS a game system, a mansion, and 14 TV’s. The last time I owned a game system was when, as a child, I had an Atari 2600. I have no desire to buy an Xbox or whatever it is that’s hot these days. I have a car because I need it, not because I want it. If I lived in NYC, I wouldn’t have one, and I wouldn’t miss it. I suspect that most carless Europeans have little or no desire to purchase a vehicle, and do not feel their lives are empty and meaningless without one.

    It is absurd to define “living well” according to the presence or absence of toys. If you were told today that you were going to die tomorrow, would your life regrets be about not having an Xbox or a bigger TV? Seriously?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  103. anjin-san says:

    @ Jack

    You said:

    The typical American poor

    Words mean things.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  104. michael reynolds says:

    @beth:
    We feed kids this propaganda constantly, you know. You can be anything you want to be.

    Well, legally, maybe. But not in reality.

    I think people preach this nonsense in part because Americans are married to the Calvinist ideology, and in part because it’s “empowering.” Though I’m at a loss to understand how exactly it would be empowering to tell my 5’0″ daughter she can be a professional basketball player.

    Americans can’t stand random chance or the idea of innate talent. Everything has to be nose-to-the-grindstone. When I point out that absolutely everyone who works for McDonald’s works harder than I do, while I make a lot more money, people just sort of go blank. . . wander around in a mental haze for a while. . . then return like robots to their initial programming, coming up with astoundingly absurd rationalizations.

    It’s like talking to crazy street people.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

  105. anjin-san says:

    @ Teresa Rothaar

    My American relatives who have spent significant time with family in France all say essentially the same thing: “They have less stuff than we do, but their lives are better than ours on many levels”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  106. mantis says:

    Typical conservative thought:

    Any misfortune suffered by others is solely a result of their own choices.

    Any misfortune suffered by me is the fault of government/liberals/immigrants.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 3

  107. Pinky says:

    @Matt Bernius: Boortz’s article refers to a Heritage Foundation report, found here. The report is fully footnoted, many of the statistics derived from government reports. The Atlantic find the data misleading, but doesn’t dispute it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  108. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:

    Ah, Woody. He’s a pervert, but he can write a good line.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  109. anjin-san says:

    @ michael reynolds

    We feed kids this propaganda constantly, you know. You can be anything you want to be.

    I loved what Charles Barkley said on the subject, which was more or less “Hey kids! You can’t do what I do, so you need to get an education or a trade. Don’t waste your time dreaming about playing in the NBA.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  110. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    Well that’s a terrific slur…but I asked you for a statistical link and you do not seem to be able to provide anything but right-wing nut jobs that you copy and paste your opinions from.
    Reagan famously vilified a Chicago woman who became known as the welfare queen…but that turned out to be fiction. She was a con-woman who was ultimately charged with committing $8,000 in fraud, having four aliases, and was sentenced to six years in prison. In short another right-wing myth.
    So put up…or…well…you know….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  111. beth says:

    @Jack: I have a disabled relative that I help out. One of the things I got her was a dvd player and a subscription to Netflix since she has no money to ever go to the movies or have cable tv. She stays home all the time, no vacations, no trips, no dinners out. She takes the county bus for the elderly and disabled to the grocery store every week. She was once accosted by some idiot (maybe you) while she was mailing back her Netfilx dvd. This person was upset that she was taking the “charity bus” but had enough money for Netflix.

    You don’t know where people got that cell phone, or those sneakers or anything else that you object to. How about you keep your objections to yourself and try a little empathy.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 1

  112. Jack says:

    @Rob in CT: Rob, I’m not trying to be snarky here, but I have seen this first hand. There are “undeserving” poor.

    Niece – gets welfare and section 8 housing, yet when her $8k tax return (earned income tax credit) came she spent it all on new rims for her car, and new electronics. A week later she was asking family for money to buy diapers for her 3 kids.

    Neighbor – Has three families (herself, adult son and adult daughter all with kids) drawing food stamps/EBT/welfare/section 8 all living in the same house that according to VA law says only one family can get benefits for the same household.

    Cousin – Gets hired and manages to get fired/layed off after working for less than a month time and again so he can get unemployment for the next 50+ weeks.

    Niece – exchanges food stamps for cash with other family members yet makes he mom pay her mortgage, electric, water, gas, and home taxes in the house he mom owns but doesn’t live in.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8

  113. Gustopher says:

    Some of our safety net programs do end up becoming a trap, because of how they are structured.

    I know an underemployed single mother who gets the following:
    – Health insurance for children in families making less than $X
    – Day care for children in families making less than $X
    – Rent support, same cutoff.

    If she makes $X+1, she will go from poor-but-getting-by to homeless with uninsured kids that have nowhere to go while she is at work. As a result, she is very, very careful to ensure she doesn’t work any overtime that would put her past the cutoff.

    These programs need to have benefits withdrawn much more gradually, so there isn’t a massive cliff like this, since that does trap people. If they earn more, their actual income suddenly plummets.

    As a rule of thumb, I would say that people should always get to keep at least fifty cents of every additional dollar they earn, so they have an incentive to earn more, but also start paying for some of the services they get if they can.

    Also, the company that employs her should be paying a living wage. Taxpayers should not be subsidizing their workforce…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  114. michael reynolds says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    That said, and this is the *oh so difficult* part of the equation, your success wouldn’t have been possible *without* that hard work.

    Hard work is a necessary but not sufficient condition. And of course, as you can imagine, I do not work as hard as, say, a coal miner, what with my job mostly consisting of sitting on my deck, tapping laptop keys while looking out over SF bay, smoking a $15 cigar and drinking boutique coffee for a grueling three hours a day. The coal miner is clawing rocks out of an airless shaft under a mile of mountain, coated in filth and never seeing the sun, which is somewhat tougher than my routine. (Unless we’re talking book tour.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  115. Rick DeMent says:

    @Jack:

    @Rick DeMent: Dude, you cannot be obese and have no access to food. Period.

    Who’s being obtuse?

    You are, because I tried to make you understand that no one is both at the same time. The statement remarks on two different sets of people cobbled together due to the fact that they are in those separate conditions due to poverty. You see … different but there due to similar circumstances. So you are obtuse, and now if you still don’t get it your simply not worth discussing the issue with anymore. Go over to town hall where moronic arguments are treated like actual logic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

  116. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    Yes, Jack, there are undeserving poor. Just as there are undeserving middle class and rich. How about we start the cutting at the upper end of the scale? Let’s keep tax rates low on the deserving rich, but raise them on the undeserving. And let’s only allow mortgage deductions for the deserving middle class.

    If we’re going to apply moral standards, let’s be fair about it. Right? So no more subsidies for the undeserving oil companies, only for the deserving ones. Come on, join me in this moral crusade!

    Next up: we’re going to need to figure out how to judge the moral character of every American.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 1

  117. beth says:

    @Jack: And Rick Scott’s company paid $2 billion in fines to be able to walk away from their Medicare fraud. How much money do you think you have to steal to be able to look at a $2B fine and say okay? The problem isn’t Leroy down the block getting an extra $10 a week in food stamps. There’s always going to be fraud baked into any program and the people you know are small potatoes compared to the doctors and insurance companies raking it in because for those greedy bastards, making millions every year isn’t enough. But funny I have never once, ever seen a conservative railing against that fraud. It’s always about the guy in front of them at the store buying tbones and driving a Cadillac. So once anyone from the right gets serious about corporate welfare, fraud and tax evasion I promise I’ll actually listen to you whine about poor people getting too much stuff for your tastes.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 0

  118. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds: Yet, you managed to get an education. This was apparently important to you. We go back to the issue of education not being important to those that need it most. You put in the “work” to get educated and work your way up to getting paid what you do now. I would venture that’s how most wealthy people do it. Very few had it passed down to them without having to work for it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 14

  119. Pinky says:

    @Gustopher: This is sometimes called the effective marginal tax rate. And it’s a bear. We always talk about how much the wealthy are allowed to keep of the next $1 they earn. For the poor, there’s the additional offset of loss of aid. I’ve seen studies that put the effective marginal tax rate around 150% for some.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  120. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    You should report your loser friends and family to the authorities…instead of condemning an entire economic strata based on limited anecdotal evidence.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  121. Jack says:

    @beth: I don’t disagree with your point on government contracts at all. The same company that “vetted” Snowden and was charged with defrauding the government just got a new 1.2B contract. Why?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  122. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: The “authorities” don’t care. They need to spend their allotted money.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8

  123. anjin-san says:

    @ Jack

    Very few had it passed down to them without having to work for it.

    That’s interesting. I personally know quite a few who got quite a bit passed down to them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  124. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:

    Very few had it passed down to them without having to work for it.

    The ones screaming the loudest about the “takers” had it handed to them…e.g. Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney and the Koch Brothers.
    The biggest factor in getting rich? Luck.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  125. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    I dropped out of school after completing 10th grade. I waited tables and did various dead end jobs. Then I stole money and managed to avoid conviction. Then I happened to meet my wife. Then after ten more years of doing dead end jobs we decided to become writers. Then we got rich.

    That’s the bones of the story.

    I’ve never taken a writing course. I attended college for one semester, majoring in bong. I don’t work half as hard as I did waiting tables. So, sorry, but the facts don’t match your assumptions. I had innate talent, that’s it, that’s why I get to be me. I got lucky in the DNA lottery.

    And when you look around and see other successful people, what you are seeing is inherited wealth and/or good DNA in a great many cases. Sure, sometimes the scrappy little guy with no advantages somehow makes it by dint of hard work. But generally? No.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1

  126. Rob in CT says:

    @Jack:

    I know there are undeserving poor, Jack. I never said otherwise.

    I was making a practical point: some portion of the population always cheats/slacks/takes advantage. Some of them are rich, some are poor. Seriously, you think those assholes who were playing around with credit default swaps are upstanding folks? Nope, they were criminals who by and large got away with it.

    My point is that it’s not easy to discert the dividing line between deserving and undeserving. We each have differing criterea, for one thing. There are some cases that are egregious enough that we’d all agree, but there are plenty of shades of grey out there. Again, on both sides. Hell, how many times have I heard conservatives defending tax evasion (not tax avoidance – evasion)? Lots, friend. But I disgress.

    So unless we appoint someone to be arbiter of such things (a terrible and also unworkable idea), we design systems that work ok but will always be abused somewhat. Some people will always cheat on their taxes (grinds my gears, I tell ya!) and some will BS for a disability check. More will play by the rules.

    As an aside: wow, your family is kind of messed up (or it’s huge?).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  127. Scott says:

    @Rob in CT: Now this made me laugh. I wasn’t going to get drawn into this conversation because it get tedious real fast but now that I’m here, a few fast comments:

    – Cell phones are a necessity in todays society; there are very few pay phones left.

    – If you are job hunting you need public transportation if you don’t have your own wheels. Not that available.

    – How do you even look for jobs these days? On the internet. Classified job ads are fading away. Where do you find internet? Either pay for it yourself or possibly public library. Still, its a necessity

    – Today’s lower income jobs are the least family-friendly. If you have a family and need to take care of them from time to time, you will most likely lose your job.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  128. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: So you are saying that poor people are just unlucky? That’s bullsqueeze and you know it. Life decisions have consequences. Don’t graduate high school, do drugs, have kids in your teens and you have probably less than 1% chance of getting rich.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12

  129. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I got lucky in the DNA lottery.

    Most liberals equate that statement to being born rich and having daddy pay for everything.

    Writing, constructing a cognitive sentence, finding things to write about that people want to read has nothing to do with your DNA.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9

  130. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    And DNA doesn’t drive decisions? You have an almost child-like level of philosophical awareness. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you’re operating at the level of a Mother Goose story.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

  131. Jack says:

    @Rob in CT: My wife’s family, but yes. That way of life has become normal to them and they still want those family members who have improved their own lot in life to support them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  132. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds: No, DNA does not “drive decisions”. Unless you are talking about alcoholism, thyroid problems, diabetics, etc., DNA has nothing to do with lot in life. Even alcoholics have to make a decision to drink. DNA does not make the decision for them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 11

  133. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: Well, he’s just about eighty, so he probably won’t live much more than another decade or so, and then we can stop wondering about his personal life and go back to judging his work for itself…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  134. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    Why do you think those things happen?
    If you seriously think it comes down simply to bad decisions then you have an amazingly simple view of a very complex world.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  135. wr says:

    @Jack: Are you rich, Jack?

    I only ask, because I assume from your judgmental tone you’ve done all the things you condemn others for not doing. And yet you live in a neighborhood where people are scraping by on welfare, which suggests it ain’t Midtown Manhattan or Beverly Hills.

    So why aren’t you rich, if all it takes is making the right decisions?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 2

  136. JKB says:

    @grumpy realist: Just having food of one kind around doesn’t mean you don’t have food scarcity.

    Actually, having only one kind of food means you don’t have food scarcity.

    Perhaps you could link to the definition of scarcity that doesn’t mean in short supply?

    But it doesn’t mean you are not in need of different kinds of foods for your full nutritional requirements, or perhaps vitamins.

    As an aside:
    Ironically, with all the inbreeding in European royalty, if the Brits had adopted the German saurkraut in addition to hardtack, they would have avoided the scurvy problems.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  137. C. Clavin says:

    @Pinky:
    I missed where it mentioned home ownership.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  138. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: They have learned that others will take care of them so they don’t have to do it themselves. They have made a conscious decision to rely on others rather than rely on themselves.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  139. grumpy realist says:

    @michael reynolds: Horatio Alger, dude. Horatio Alger. We’ve ALWAYS had the myth.

    And the Libertarians picked it up and ran off with it. The Business crowd found it a useful myth to convince the peasants that it was their own fault that they were poor and never got anywhere (rather than the result of capitalistic policies the Business Crowd had put into action)

    And people like Jack, poor schmuck, continue believing it. He’ll continue tugging his forelock to “his betters” and never let out an ounce of complaint while they steal everything out from under him (oh, perfectly legally, of course.) Just as long as there is a population in the US that he can look down upon and sneer at as “undeserving.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  140. @Rob in CT:

    Everything that Ann and I have we earned the old-fashioned way, and that’s by hard work and

    Most specifically, I does he really think that when a just-out-of-college graduate with absolutely no work experience gets hired as a senior executive for a multi-million dollar investment fund, it’s because of their hard work and not the fact their dad has all sorts of political connections they hope to take advantage of?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  141. Ron Beasley says:

    I was fortunate to have the privilege of living in Germany for several years and saw no “poor people” . Even the Turkish guest workers lived well. As I have said before thanks to outsourcing and automation their are more people who need jobs than there are jobs available, This is something we have to address as a society.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  142. Rob in CT says:

    @Jack:

    You and I have very different ideas about what our genes do/don’t do (or rather what they might do and might not do, as we don’t really know the full story yet. We’ve been researching this stuff for a few decades, and know only a bit of the story).

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence when generations of people struggle with the same thing. Like, say, weight. Could that be nuture rather than nature? Sure, I think it matters what you eat when you’re little and what you see your parents cook & eat and all that. But when you see people who know it and fight it and still struggle you realize there is a nature element too. Or at least I do.

    Small, rather inconsequential example for you: I have a borderline ridiculous sense of smell and taste, at least in comparison to my wife. I smell things and pick up flavors she swears she is totally unable to detect (she has bad allergies and I think basically can’t smell properly). There is no question in our household that I derive significantly more enjoyment from food. To her, eating is one step removed from “must fuel up now, put in fuel” unless there is chocolate involved. This does make things easy on me as the cook, of course ;) So, who struggles with weight and who doesn’t? You guessed it: I do and she doesn’t. She’s the one that’s been pregnant twice, and I’m the one who not long ago looked like I was (doing better now, but it involves constant struggle). Similarly, I’m the one who has to watch it with booze, whereas she’s borderline indifferent (likes the occasional glass of wine or beer, and is 1 & done).

    Other things I don’t struggle with at all. They come easily to me, and I watch others struggle and sometimes I’m amazed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  143. @grumpy realist:

    In terms of economics, I basically see US politics as a poker game where someone was just caught cheating, and the primary argument is whether this means we should ban poker (Democrats) or legalize cheating (Republicans).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  144. Teresa Rothaar says:

    A cell phone is a lot cheaper than a landline. Burners can be purchased for ~$15 and filled with minutes as needed. This is what I do, although I bought the $60.00 ultra-luxe model.

    Poverty and success are not all about luck, but they’re not all about working hard, either. As I mentioned earlier, not all decisions are as black-and-white as “Should I quit high school?” or “Should I try heroin?”

    For example, moving to a new city where you don’t know anyone due to a job offer could end up being catastrophic if that “good” job evaporates six months later, though no fault of your own (i.e., the company goes bankrupt and shuts down). No, this did not happen to me specifically; it’s an anecdotal story, but nonetheless an example of when a decision that seems “good” at the time turns out to be terrible later on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  145. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    DNA has nothing to do with lot in life. Even alcoholics have to make a decision to drink. DNA does not make the decision for them.

    Okay, now you’re confirming what was obvious, that your understanding is either child-like or simply way out of touch with decades of research.

    Of course DNA drives decision-making. All sorts of intellectual characteristics are either present or absent, (and in varying degrees) due to DNA. Even taking the example quoted above, you can see that a person with inherited alcoholism has to choose not to drink, where the person who lacks that gene does not face a similarly fraught choice. DNA drives the nature of that choice.

    A number of people I know have obsessive compulsive disorder. It appears to be genetic. Now, you can say that an OCD person has to choose to wash his hands 7 times, but that would be an absurdly simple-minded view. For a person with OCD, that “choice” is harder than every single choice I make ever. A thousand times a day they have to make extraordinarily difficult choices that I don’t have to make. That is DNA driving decision.

    You don’t want to believe that we are physical creatures, that’s a part of it. You want to believe that mind exists in some otherworldly dimension separate from our physical brains. But I can stick a probe into your brain and kill your entire moral structure. Your moral beliefs are encoded in your physical brain, and could be easily cauterized, rendering you amoral. True or not? Take my word for it, it’s true, it’s not even controversial or new-fangled.

    What can be done with a probe can be done more subtly and even more effectively by DNA. You are a body, a physical thing, a machine that can think. The machine that does the thinking is built according to blueprints we call DNA. That virginal machine then begins interacting with its environment, but every such interaction is affected by the initial design.

    Your toaster is your toaster. It was built according to a blueprint. In the life of your toaster it will acquire crumbs,and dents, and scrapes, and suffer power surges, yet it will remain a toaster.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  146. Jack says:

    @wr: I came from a poor family and a single parent household where my father refused to pay child support. I enlisted in the military at 18. I worked my but off as a Russian linguist and advanced up the ranks.

    I retired from the AF and took a contractor job supporting the same system I worked on as a military member. I got my bachelors’ degree on my own after retirement so I could move up in my company. I did not use GI Bill benefits because the GI Bill didn’t exist. When I came through it was VEAP and had a very poor return. I am now, after 9 years of retirement the Operations Manager overseeing the work of 36 contractors on a military installation.

    I live in a neighborhood where the average home is about $210k. My neighbor bought his house as an investment property to flip during the crash of 07/08 and needed to get someone in it quick so he went section 8 because they guaranteed him $1,200 a month

    I consider myself middle class but the numbers say I’m in the 9th percentile (91% of American make less than I do).

    I’ve done everything I suggest to others to be successful and I feel have done very well for myself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  147. Rob in CT says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    This is why I can’t actually tell if he’s oblivious or lying. He actually is a smart man. How can he not see it? But smart people do this all the time. So he really might not be lying: he might actually have convinced himself that he did it all by his onesies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  148. grumpy realist says:

    @Jack: God how stupid can you be. If you get fired you don’t get unemployment benefits. Capisce? So if your relative left her job and is getting unemployment benefits she didn’t get fired.

    I bet you’re a riot at family gatherings telling everyone else how much a set of moochers they are, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  149. Teresa Rothaar says:

    @wr: Really. How does this guy know all of these Section 8 people unless they live nearby?

    I grew up in the system; it’s why I became an anarchist. However, it sounds like he knows more welfare people, despite his hard-working 1% lifestyle, than I ever did as ghetto trailer trash.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  150. anjin-san says:

    @ Jack

    I got lucky in the DNA lottery.
    Most liberals equate that statement to being born rich and having daddy pay for everything.

    Personally I equate it to having a higher IQ than 97% of the people in America. It came to me by way of my father, who had a higher IQ than 99% of the people in the America. I’m also tall, reasonably good looking, athletic, and I enjoy good health.

    None of this came to me via hard work or character. I won the DNA lottery. My parents were highly intelligent, attractive, healthy people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  151. anjin-san says:

    @ Jack

    Writing, constructing a cognitive sentence, finding things to write about that people want to read has nothing to do with your DNA.

    Are you just trying to be argumentative, or are you really this ignorant?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  152. Rob in CT says:

    Jack, Good for you, by the way. Really.

    By the way, 9th percentile is stretching the definition of middle class, in my view I’m in a very similar percentage, btw. Some adjustment for living expenses might be necessary if you’re in a very expensive or very cheap area, but it doesn’t sound like that’s so. 9 out of 10 American households make less than we do. Some of that is age-related: we’re probably in or near our peak earning years. But even so, how can “middle class” mean ~80% of the country? It’s a bit odd, don’t you think?

    I tend to use upper-middle class or comfortably well-off or somesuch. It feels a little disingenuous to me to claim middle class status.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  153. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Your moral beliefs are encoded in your physical brain, and could be easily cauterized, rendering you amoral. True or not? Take my word for it, it’s true, it’s not even controversial or new-fangled.

    Moral beliefs are taught and learned. They are not coded in DNA. You can take a set of twins born in the south in the 1940s, separate them by moving one to live with a family in the north. The one that stayed in the south learns racism, the one that moved to the north likely does not.

    The people who play the “knockout game” were not DNA coded to punch people for fun, they learned it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  154. @Rob in CT:

    To say he’s lying implies he knows what the truth is an made a concious decision to say otherwise. I think he simply doesn’t care whether the statement was true or not. In essence, saying Mitt Romney is a liar is giving him too much credit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  155. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    @grumpy realist:

    It’s what’s kind of tragically funny about guys like Jack. They’re spouting the ideology foisted on them by smarter, richer, luckier folks who don’t want them to realize just how rigged the game is.

    And then, when you actually try to explain to them that they’ve bought a scam, they get irate. They’re like old folks who get ripped off by a phony contractor. They’ll stubbornly insist they weren’t suckers, and actually defend those who victimized them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  156. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    Jack, the knockout game turned out to be an urban legend.

    Come on man,now you’re just making me sad. I have to stop. We’re reaching the point where I feel like I’m punching toddlers.

    Believe whatever you want, dude. Bye.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  157. Jack says:

    @grumpy realist:
    If you can get laid off then you can definitely receive unemployment benefits. If you get fired for misconduct or disciplinary measures then your unemployment might be denied. However, no matter what you get fired for, you should still try filing for unemployment.

    Getting fired without cause

    This means that there was no reason for you to be fired. That there is no company written rule for the reason you were fired and that you didn’t receive adequate written warnings. However, this often doesn’t apply for at-will employees.

    An at-will employee can be fired at any time, for any reason (except discrimination or a hostile work environment). If the employer decides to let you go, that’s it. Every state, except Montana, employers may adopt an at-will employment policy.

    Things you can get fired for and definitely receive unemployment

    1. You were fired for being unable to perform the job. If you were not a good fit for the job, and your previous employer is willing to state that, then you can get unemployment insurance.
    2. You can prove that it was a hostile work environment. You cannot be fired for complaining about being harassed or discriminated against. You can’t be fired for reporting or complaining about illegal activity or about health and safety violations. You cannot be fired for taking family and medical leave, taking leave to serve in the military, or to taking time off work to vote or serve on a jury. If you are fired for one of these reasons you should contact a lawyer.
    3. You can prove you were discriminated against. You can’t be fired because of your race, religion or gender. If you feel that you were discriminated against, call a lawyer.

    Ways to subtly be “let go”

    The idea here is to make your workplace more uncomfortable when you’re there without alerting your employer that you are doing it on purpose.

    You can be subtly and sarcastically mean or cranky.
    Pretend that you don’t know how to do something. This works especially well if you are asked to do something new.
    Do just enough to scrape by.
    Work very, very slowly.
    Spend time forwarding “funny” emails.
    Treat work as your personal social club.
    Be constantly upset, angry, or depressed; anything but happy
    Have a lot of ongoing personal problems.

    http://finance.youngmoney.com/careers/get-fired-and-still-qualify-for-unemployment/

    You are wrong, again. My guess is that this isn’t the first time you’ve been told that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  158. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Jack, the knockout game turned out to be an urban legend.

    That’s why the Baltimore Mayor spoke out against it waaaaay back on June 25th. Yeah, urban legend.

    http://washington.cbslocal.com/2014/06/25/baltimore-city-mayor-speaks-out-against-knockout-game/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  159. Jack says:

    @Rob in CT: I understand that I’m not really “middle class”. But having had to work up from poor, I don’t yet consider myself well off, rich, or wealthy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  160. Jack says:

    @anjin-san: DNA does not make a person capable of writing well. Period. You must learn how to construct a proper sentence and relay what you want the reader to understand. That is NOT in your DNA.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  161. C. Clavin says:

    I guess believing in the knock-out game is consistent with the rest of it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  162. Pinky says:

    @Jack: I remember seeing an analysis of this. Nearly everyone thinks of themselves as middle class. Poorer people think they’re within range; richer people usually have middle-class roots. The one group that doesn’t think of itself as middle class is the upper middle class. They tend to be very insistent about their UMC status.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  163. DrDaveT says:

    @Jack:

    The typical American poor, own a home

    Doug, if you were looking for evidence that American conservatives really haven’t a clue what it’s like to be poor in America, you just found it…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  164. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: Considering the Baltimore mayor, and Baltimore police, also believe in it and CBS, not known for their conservative viewpoints is writing about it, you seem to be the outlier.

    http://washington.cbslocal.com/2014/06/25/baltimore-city-mayor-speaks-out-against-knockout-game/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  165. David M says:

    I’ll give Jack this, he’s helped convince me that “Yes, conservatives do think the poor have it easy”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  166. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    DNA does not make a person capable of writing well. Period. You must learn how to construct a proper sentence and relay what you want the reader to understand. That is NOT in your DNA.

    Oh for fwck’s sake. I CANNOT DIAGRAM A SENTENCE. Literally. I don’t know what a participle is. It is not about education. As I explained above, I’m a high school drop-out. I have never taken a single writing course. Ever. None. Zero No, it is not education. My wife is also a writer and she agrees: no, it is not about education.

    If you want to write fiction the single thing you need, the single thing you cannot do without, is not grammar, it is imagination. And education has a tendency to kill imagination, not foster it.

    Imagination is a type of intelligence and it is the result of DNA enhanced by experience.

    But hey, what the hell do I know? I’m just the guy who wrote 150 books, earned starred reviews, changed the lives of literally millions of kids, has the respect of his writing peers, and earns more than a law firm partner or surgeon doing it. But no, no, you’re the expert.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  167. Jack says:

    @DrDaveT: 42 percent of poor households actually own their own homes.

    http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/09/understanding-poverty-in-the-united-states-surprising-facts-about-americas-poor

    Professor Plumb, in the conservatory, with a wrench.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

  168. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds: While I can agree somewhat on your imagination viewpoint, writing is still learned. My guess is you read a lot. Along the way, you determine the definitions of words you didn’t understand through context or by looking it up. You don’t have to take a writing course to learn how to write. Self education is a big part of a lot of rich people’s background, yet it still required effort, attentiveness, and a willingness to learn. Who are the authors you read the most? My guess is your writing style, sentence structure, etc. are a result of that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  169. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jack:

    42 percent of poor households actually own their own homes.

    Accepting that at face value (versus those who are still paying off their mortgage), you’ve just disproven your “typical” point as 42% is 9 percentage points short of a slim majority.

    Considering the Baltimore mayor, and Baltimore police, also believe in [the knockout game] and CBS, not known for their conservative viewpoints is writing about it, you seem to be the outlier.

    Understand the concept of “moral panic.” For years news programs did reports about the fear of razor blade and pins in halloween candy. And yes, there were a few isolated occurences of this. But overall these events did not happen in proportion to the amount of coverage.

    The knock out game was an example of a moral panic and it led people to over-cover it.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knockout_game#Criticism_of_reporting

    This is similar to the fact that most people in surveys believe that we are an increasingly violent and unsafe nation while actual violent attacks and crime rates are still at a historic low.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  170. Jack says:

    @Matt Bernius: I agree it’s not 51% but I’m betting that 42% is still far higher than you would have believed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  171. Jack says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Considering there have been 25 examples this year alone, I think it’s something more than “moral panic” or “urban legend”.

    2014

    New York, New York (near NYU Campus Greenwich Village)
    Philadelphia (Brick to face)
    New York city, New York (male victim)
    New York City, New York (female victim)
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana (victim killed)
    Cambridge, Massachusetts
    St. Cloud, Minnesota (victim killed)
    Flint, Michigan
    New York, New York (six victims from same thug)
    Charlottesville, Virginia
    Denver, Colorado
    Rochester, New York
    New York, New York (victim Killed)
    Houston, Texas (two victims)
    New York, New York (female victim)
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Ferndale, Michigan
    Baltimore Maryland (two victims)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  172. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    Yes, Jack, I did all of those things. So did the next 10,000 writer wanna-bes. And yet they aren’t me, because they don’t have the hardware I have. It’s not because they don’t try, or don’t read, or don’t take courses, or don’t have interesting lives. It’s because I have a particular kind of intellectual gift that they do not. Gift. As in given to me, not earned.

    Unlike you, I know these people. They used to show me their writing samples back before I put a stop to that stuff. They take the seminars and listen to the inspirational speeches and do 100% of the things you think they should do to become writers. They want it with all their hearts, and I can tell in two paragraphs that it’ll never happen for them. I could make a nice little second income going around the country talking your kind of ‘we can do it!’ bullsh!t to people, but I am no longer quite that dishonest.

    You should ask yourself why that is so threatening to you. Is it because you’ve been telling yourself this just world fairy tale for a long time and you can’t bear to challenge it? Because I gotta tell you: you’re not just wrong, you are provably, demonstrably and indubitably wrong.

    Believe the fairy tale if that’s what gets you through the day. But it really is just a fairy tale.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  173. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jack:

    The typical American poor, own a home, own at least one car, have more rooms in their home and more square footage, have AC/heat, have more than one TV, have gaming system(s) and games (at over $50 a pop), have cable or satellite TV, have oven, stove, and microwave.

    BTW, looking at your link* reveals that according to heritage, you’re vision of the “typical” poor household doesn’t match up with the actual facts.

    Here are the actual “typical” ones (by that I mean a 51% majority or more)
    own at least car – 74.1%
    (multiple cars drops us down to 30.6% btw)
    AC/heat – 81%
    TV – 99.4
    (multiple TVs – 69.2%)
    Cable/Satellite – 63.7%

    However, you made two key assumptions that don’t match the “typical household”:
    own a home – 40.7%**
    gaming system(s) – 29.3(!)%

    *- http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/09/understanding-poverty-in-the-united-states-surprising-facts-about-americas-poor

    ** – note if we look at households with children, this does rise to a slim 53.9% majority.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  174. grumpy realist says:

    @michael reynolds: Which is why most writers are always at loggerheads with English teachers. We Don’t Need Them. Most of us more or less know what the rules are simply because we speak the language.

    Most creative part of “creative writing” isn’t the writing; it’s the editing….

    It’s always great when people ask science fiction writers “where do you get your ideas from?” As Ursela LeGuin retorted: “from the Encyclopedia Brittanica and reading signs backwards. Where else?”

    I think it was Anthony Boucher who mentioned “a little mail-order firm in North Dakota”

    And then there’s Mohr, who blames it all on the lutefisk…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  175. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds: This is the whole nature verses nurture argument. I believe nurture and you believe nature. Maybe it’s somewhere in between?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  176. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jack:
    Right… 25 examples across the *entire* country. That’s like saying Bear attacks and Shark attacks are a national problem (as there are typically about that number of attacks a year).

    Juxtapose that against the far higher number of yearly deaths due to accidental discharge of fire arms. If I’m supposed to care about the *seriousness* of the knockout game, then you should care about that.

    Again, you just don’t get it do you?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  177. Matt Bernius says:

    @michael reynolds:
    Would you agree that writing, like most things, is a cultivated skill that’s fundamentally rooted in a certain level of base talent.

    Just as with any physical skill, you can practice all day but ultimately your progress is going to be impeded by your natural potential. However, that said, most people never actually do the work to reach the limits of their natural potential.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  178. Jack says:

    @Matt Bernius: Matt, in my rush to make the post, I glommed everything into one sentence. That’s why I provided the link, so you and others could see it for yourselves.

    There was no intent to deceive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  179. Scott says:

    @Jack: I actually believe that a substantial percentage of the poor do own their own home. I suspect that these poor are the newly poor, post 2008, having lost their jobs, stuck in the suburbs, underwater on their mortgage and unable to move or get out. They are quite invisible and not the poor that most here are imagining in their heads.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  180. Jack says:

    @Matt Bernius: I never said “national problem”. I simply said they were occurring and that DNA is not what is causing them to occur.

    BTW, I could use your example “Right… 25 examples across the *entire* country. That’s like saying Bear attacks and Shark attacks are a national problem (as there are typically about that number of attacks a year).” and apply it to “mass shootings”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  181. KM says:

    @Jack:

    Moral beliefs are taught and learned. They are not coded in DNA.

    Actually, they are stored in your brain, which is created from your DNA. Take a look at Phineas Gage to see what Micheal is referring to. The man had a railroad spike driven through his skull in 1848 and is one of the most referenced and documented cases of brain damage and subsequent moral/behavior changes in history.

    You are correct in that we are more then bare bones biology but it is foolishness to think one can disregard it entirely or that it doesn’t play a very significant role. It’s very hard to be self-righteous when one has little to no physical capacity to understand righteousness in the first place.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  182. Jack says:

    @KM: I don’t disagree that they are “stored” in your brain, but morals must be learned. No baby is coded to be a racist anymore than a baby is coded to be a murderer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  183. @Jack:

    Considering there have been 25 examples this year alone, I think it’s something more than “moral panic” or “urban legend”.

    And are those actual “knock out games” or just garden variety muggings?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  184. Jack says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Ask me about a specific one and I will provide the link. Each instance is a separate link.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  185. Teresa Rothaar says:

    @Scott: Additionally, a lot of dirt-poor people in Appalachia own “homes” that have been handed down through several generations. However, these “homes” are run-down shacks not unlike what you’d see in the 3rd World. Just because you own a piece of real estate doesn’t mean it’s great.

    You also bring up a point a lot of people ignore, which is that many people who are poor these days used to be middle class or even above. They lost their jobs and money, but are still managing to cling to their assets. That big-screen TV might have been purchased when the owner had a good job, and with the rate at which electronics depreciate, it’s probably not worth selling. A TV you paid $700.00 two years ago might not fetch $100.00 today. Hell, I’d just keep it and enjoy it until the electric got turned off.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  186. Teresa Rothaar says:

    Additionally, urban ghettos are full of poor seniors who bought their homes decades ago. These homes are in as bad a condition as the shacks in Appalachia.

    My grandmother’s sister fell into this category. She bought her home in the 50’s, when her neighborhood was full of blue-collar factory workers. Then the factories shut down, the jobs evaporated, and the area got worse and worse until it became straight-up ghetto. In the last years of her life, nobody wanted to come visit her because the neighborhood was so dangerous. Her son was stabbed outside the house in a robbery. However, she refused to leave, despite the fact that she could. Although she was poor, her daughter was a nurse who married a doctor; they wanted to take Mom in, but Mom refused. They couldn’t force her. She was unreasonable, but she wasn’t demented.

    After she died, her children just let the state foreclose on the house; it was worth literally nothing. 10 years following her death, the building is no longer there. It’s an empty lot, like most of the neighborhood.

    This woman did not “live well” in that house. It was a shame, really, and not an uncommon situation. A lot of elderly people flat-out refuse to leave their ghetto neighborhoods until they are carried out under a sheet, feet first.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  187. Jack says:

    @Teresa Rothaar: Economic position is determined by quintile. The same percentage of the US population exists in the bottom most quintile this year as last year.

    The fallacy among most is that people stay in the same quintile their entire lives. The truth however is that most people go up and down through 3-4 quintiles during their lives as they start out with nothing and build their way up. They then get to their golden years and drop back down a step or two.

    No matter how much we relieve the stress on the poor, assist them from cradle to grave there will still be 20% of Americans in the bottom quintile.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  188. KM says:

    @Jack:

    I don’t disagree that they are “stored” in your brain, but morals must be learned. No baby is coded to be a racist anymore than a baby is coded to be a murderer.

    Tabula Rasa only goes so far. Then it becomes victim blaming. Some people have within them from birth the seeds of their demise, not of their own making, but from that what spawned them. We are not the sole architectures of our own downfalls, merely the largest players.

    What’s with the quotes? Since your mind learns the lesson, your mind retains the lesson. Where are learned morals “stored” if not in the brain?

    You seem incredibly dedicated to the idea that there is no mitigating factors to “moral failings” other then pure free will. Which is odd because every religion and philosophical system out there recognizes them. Christianity says even Adam and Eve were tricked into their sin – they didn’t do it just for @#$%$ and giggles. Why must you believe the absolute worse of your brethren in order to function in this world?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  189. EddieInCA says:

    @anjin-san:

    @ Jack

    I go back to the statement that America’s poor live better than Europe’s middle class.

    Jack, you’ve obviously never traveled.

    The “Middle Class” in London, Paris, Geneva, Barcelona, Brussels, Rome, and most of Europe live MUCH BETTER than the American middle class. As someone who has lived, for a minimum of five months, in each the above mentioned cities in addition to Stockholm, Prague, Zagreb, Vancouver (Canada, not Washington), Seattle, Miami, Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Shreveport, Austin, Las Vegas, Washington, DC, and a few others, I can tell you without a doubt that you are completely full of sh*t.

    Hell, America’s middle class doesn’t come close to Europe’s middle class. Europe’s middle class comes to America to vacation and party because it’s so cheap compared to their home countries. Visit Orlando or Ft. Lauderdale in February. Everyone there seems to be from London, Munich, Paris? Why? Because America is a bargain. How we see Vietnam and Thailand for it’s inexpensive vacations…. that’s how the European middle class sees America.

    Get out a bit more. It would do you some good.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  190. anjin-san says:

    @ Jack

    You know, I am a pretty good writer, people pay me to do it. I can sit down and write good ad copy on the fly pretty much any time I want to. It’s a good skill to have. It comes to me very easily, I did not have to work or study hard to get here.

    I could work and try and study an practice till my eyeballs were bleeding, and my best writing will never be as good as something Michael could do standing on his head. He is simply far more talented than me. How many people can create a world in their head and articulate it in a way that is commercially viable and desirable to millions of people? Precious few. He won the DNA lottery there. That’s how it works.

    One of the guys I do work for is a self made multi millionaire. Put him in a room with a bunch of smart people and he will be the smartest one in the room. By a large margin. He’s so smart he has basically written his own rule book as he goes along. He’s also a fine athlete, attractive and charismatic. He won the DNA lottery, and he will be the first one to tell you that. If he was not born with all those wonderful tools, he would probably be a waiter or a carpenter, no matter how hard he tried.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  191. Jack says:

    @KM:

    You seem incredibly dedicated to the idea that there is no mitigating factors to “moral failings” other then pure free will. Which is odd because every religion and philosophical system out there recognizes them. Christianity says even Adam and Eve were tricked into their sin – they didn’t do it just for @#$%$ and giggles. Why must you believe the absolute worse of your brethren in order to function in this world?

    Yet Adam and Eve still had to make a conscious decision to listen to the snake, pluck the apple, hold the apple to their mouths and then take a bite of the apple. No one made that decision for them. Unless you are telling me that poor people do not have the ability to make good decisions due to undeveloped brains. That’s not what you are telling me is it?

    We all are the results of the decisions, good or bad, that we made in life. I cannot blame anyone else for my bad decisions yet take credit for the ones that turned out well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  192. anjin-san says:

    @ EddieInCA

    Every time I return home from a trip to Europe, I go to the supermarket, look around, and ask myself “how do we eat this shit?”

    Thank God the Berkeley Bowl is only 15 minutes up the road from me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  193. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:

    Yet Adam and Eve still had to make a conscious decision to listen to the snake, pluck the apple, hold the apple to their mouths and then take a bite of the apple.

    You realize that’s fiction, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  194. Jack says:

    @KM: Go back to the link I provided. You apparently didn’t read what was there. I too have lived in multiple countries and I can say for certain, that economically speaking, the poor here have it much better than middle class in Europe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  195. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: I was using the example provide, numbnuts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  196. Another Mike says:

    @Tillman:

    I think this thread gave me a headache.

    Yes, it’s basically a straw man thread. Red meat for the wolf pack.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  197. EddieInCA says:

    @Jack:

    @KM: Go back to the link I provided. You apparently didn’t read what was there. I too have lived in multiple countries and I can say for certain, that economically speaking, the poor here have it much better than middle class in Europe.

    Jack….

    Jack….

    Jack…

    Europeans value much more than economics.

    They work less hours. They spend more time with their families. They enjoy more vacation.

    They live longer. (US is 35th, behind countries like Italy, Spain, France, Luxembourg, Ireland, Belgium, Greece, etc).

    They’re born healthier (US is 34th in infant mortality, behind countries like Luxembourg, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Greece, etc)

    Simply put, the European Middle Class live better lives.

    And I’m certain I’ve lived in many more countries than you have.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  198. anjin-san says:

    @Jack:

    So the people I know who live in single rooms in the flophouse are actually better off than a middle class type in France.

    I will be over there tonight, will be sure to let them know how lucky they are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  199. anjin-san says:

    @ Jack

    I too have lived in multiple countries

    So you’ve been around, you have simply learned nothing in the process?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  200. Franklin says:

    I think the answer to the question in the title is pretty obvious. I think a better discussion point might be: “Do conservatives think that most people act rationally most of the time?” Because that’s how conservatives seem to act. They just think the poor need an incentive to work (more).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  201. @EddieInCA:

    The “Middle Class” in London, Paris, Geneva, Barcelona, Brussels, Rome, and most of Europe live MUCH BETTER than the American middle class.

    Part of this is language differences. The “middle class” in the UK refers to a segment of society that would be considered upper class in the US (e.g. In Yes, Minister Hacker repeatedly refers to Humphrey as middle class. He doesn’t intend this as an accusation of averagness, but as an accusation of being an out of touch elite). What the US calls middle class would be referred to as “working class” in the UK.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  202. jukeboxgrad says:

    Jack:

    The typical American poor, own a home

    Jack:

    42 percent of poor households actually own their own homes.

    Your own source proves that your claim is false (I realize Matt also explained this to you). When are you going to take responsibility for your false claim?

    Also, even though your pal Pinky said the Heritage report “is fully footnoted,” they don’t really explain how they computed that number. Also, while the Heritage article you cited says “42 percent,” the number actually claimed in the Heritage study is 40.7%.

    Heritage is not honest, and neither are you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  203. wr says:

    @Jack: “I’ve done everything I suggest to others to be successful and I feel have done very well for myself.”

    You have also, according to your buddies in your party, spent your entire life as a moocher, sucking off the government tit. Everything you’ve earned as a contractor building for the military has been paid for with tax dollars. And yet you’re the first in line screaming about how terrible it is that we take tax money from the winners and give it to the losers.

    Funny, that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  204. jukeboxgrad says:

    KM:

    It is a moral failing to be poor in some religious lines of thought

    Matt:

    a key cause of this view is a Calvinistic sense of moralism and predetermination

    I think this is the key issue.

    Here’s the main problem the GOP is always trying to solve: the rich aren’t rich enough and the poor aren’t poor enough. Conservatives do really despise the poor, and I think it’s important to understand the religious, historical and psychological roots of this phenomenon.

    The core belief of Republicanism is that the rich are virtuous and the poor are lazy (as GWB reportedly said). And as someone else once famously said: “Let us remember there is not a poor person in the United States who was not made poor by his own shortcomings.”

    This disdain for the poor is rooted in Calvinism, and we’ve seen it in remarks by Gingrich (“really poor children … in really poor neighborhoods, have no habits of working”), and we also heard it recently from Ryan (“generations of men not even thinking about working”).

    Consider why a person would adopt these beliefs. When I adopt this philosophy, it’s in order to feel good about myself. What if I’m insecure? What if I have a nagging sense that certain privileges and luxuries came to me by luck? Then I’ll find comfort by hiding inside this belief: that the poor deserve to be poor and the rich deserve to be rich, and that’s that. Once I’ve adopted this belief, it’s natural to feel offended when government hands benefits to poor people. Such a thing is evil, because it is man overturning a certain divine and moral order.

    Mitt is a perfect illustration. He lives in the shadow of his dad, and suffers from a sense of inadequacy:

    … documentary shows Romney doubted himself … “I always think about Dad and about [how] I am standing on his shoulders. I would not be there … if Dad hadn’t done what Dad did. He’s the real deal … The gap — for me, I started where he ended up. I started off with money and education …” Romney is an enormously accomplished man … And he had just decisively beaten the sitting president [in a debate]. And his reaction to that impressive victory was that 1) it was a fluke, a one-time deal; and 2) his father would have done better.

    The above is an instance of a filmmaker capturing Mitt in a candid and revealing moment. Now consider this other instance of a filmmaker capturing Mitt in a candid and revealing moment:

    There are 47 percent of the people … who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them … my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

    These two Mitts are deeply connected. The Mitt who thinks Dad is “the real deal” is telling us that he thinks he’s not “the real deal.” I already explained why a person carrying that burden of insecurity would find comfort in this belief: that the poor are poor because of their failure to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” When I adopt that belief, it’s easier to tell myself that I’m rich because I did “take personal responsibility.” And I have a deep need to tell myself that because all my life I haven’t really been sure that it’s true.

    There are a lot of people (including lots of non-rich people) who have a problem like Mitt’s problem. They are the people who fill forums like this with righteous yammering about takers and makers. I think it’s a good idea to try to understand what makes them tick:

    Such views cannot be overturned unless their specific histories are exposed. Only when we acknowledge distinctively religious roots of the American work ethic do we get a better picture of why some conservative political views resonate so powerfully with the base.

    (For links, see another version of this comment here.)

    My apologies to those who already saw this comment when I posted it here in March (link). Anyone interested in this thread might enjoy the fine comments in that prior thread.

    Rob in CT:

    It’s total bullshit that he didn’t benefit massively from being George Romney’s son.

    Correct. And it’s interesting to see how in an unguarded moment he admitted this truth.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  205. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “Unlike you, I know these people. They used to show me their writing samples back before I put a stop to that stuff.”

    And beyond these people, there are those writers as good as you, or even better (as I’m sure you would be the first to attest) who because their interests don’t connect with the public or because they’re lousy marketers or because of a zillion different reasons simply don’t sell a fraction of what you do. Daniel Woodrell can write rings around James Patterson, but only one of them can buy several small countries and have money left over for lunch…

    And while it’s possible that Patterson just works harder that Woodrell — and it is a drag having to supervise all those people who “co-write” under your name — somehow I suspect there’s more to it than that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  206. anjin-san says:

    @ jukeboxgrad

    Conservatives do really despise the poor

    Which is remarkable, as so many of them claim to be Christians.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  207. jukeboxgrad says:

    as so many of them claim to be Christians

    Conservative rhetoric has so many contradictions that even the contradictions have contradictions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  208. anjin-san says:

    @ Jack

    …Sigh…

    Have you ever spent time around someone who was really gifted? My old roommate is one such person. You can hand him an instrument he has never seen, come back in two days, and he will be playing it well enough to join a band. He can sit down at a piano or pick up a guitar and compose music on the fly that will have you in tears. If you ask him how he does it, he will tell you it’s like walking or breathing, he just does it.

    Same thing with art. Ask him to produce a work of art in a medium he has never worked in, come back in a week, and he will hand you something that you would be more than proud to hang in your home.

    And yes, he does work to improve certain aspects of his music and art skills. But he was doing things when he was seven that I could never do if I had devoted my life to practicing. Because he was born with immense talent, and I was not.

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  209. @jukeboxgrad:

    The problem with Romney isn’t that he just started the game with a head start because of his dad. It’s that he was able to actively righ the game in his favor because of who his dad was. His fortune wasn’t made growing profitable companies. It was made using his dad’s (and later his own) political connections to secure government concessions that essentially subsidized his business and then pocketing the value of those subsidies.

    He’s basically a far more successful version of the “welfare queens” he complains about so much. He made his fortune laundering tax dollars into his own pocket.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  210. anjin-san says:

    @ jukeboxgrad

    Reminds me of a line I loved from a TV show: “You keep secrets that aren’t even secrets”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  211. Jack says:

    @wr: So, serving my country is sucking the government tit? Working for a private employer with a government contract is sucking at the government tit? Providing a service to the government for which it pays my employer who then pays me is sucking at the government tit?

    You are going to compare me to those that collecting EBT/Welfare/food stamps/section 8? Is that the comparison you are really making? Or are you just being an ignorant douche like always?

    No conservative would ever disparage a military retiree like you do…often, simply because we disagree.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  212. anjin-san says:

    @ Jack

    No conservative would ever disparage a military retiree like you do

    They would certainly disparage the postman who brings them their mail, the heath inspector that helps make sure they don’t get sick, social workers who save peoples lives, the teacher who taught their children to read, and so on.

    Conservatives claim to honor work. Why do they so disparage so many hard working folks who happen to work for the government?

    BTW, he was being sarcastic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  213. Jack says:

    @anjin-san: I don’t disparage hard working folks that work for the government…the IRS aside.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  214. Jack says:

    @anjin-san: Again, I’m not saying there are not gifted people. Languages came relatively easy to me. I was speaking English (native) French, German, Russian, Latin (although dead) and Spanish by the time I was 25. But it still took studying. To some, that would be impossible, and to others still, they could pick it up easier than a john could pick up the clap in a Tijuana whore house.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  215. Pinky says:

    Jack – You’re experiencing the swarm. You’ve challenged the Tribe, and they’re going to come at you from every direction. That makes it impossible to reply coherently to accusations from one persoen that you’re being too X and from another that you’re not X enough. It’s a bug in the internet, one that I don’t think can ever be fixed.

    Someone upthread was commenting that we’ve had a few 100+ threads lately. On most of them, a rightward voice spoke up and refused to quiet down in the face of the swarm. The problem is, that kind of swarm (even if stood up to) discourages people from hanging around. Another bug. (Then again, maybe all of these comments from the right are from the same person using different names. If so, brilliant trolling, dude.)

    Edited to add: Unfortunately, quite often, the only person who would stick around to argue after being swarmed is exactly the kind of person you don’t want around, a genuine troll.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 11

  216. Just Me says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I think you are overly generalizing from your own experience.

    My dad was one of 10 kids born to very poor parents in a 3 room home (as in a living/kitchen area where parents and nursing infants slept, a girls room shared by 5 girls and a boys room shared by 5 boys).

    He worked his tail off, graduated high school, joined the Navy for GI Bill, went to college then optometry school. He worked his tail off at his job and is one of the most generous men I have ever known. He became successful and was highly respected because he worked hard and gave back when and where he could. There are far more people like this who become a success than people who just get lucky.

    I think for you when success is more about art than work luck and talent are more important but don’t dismiss the hard work of others.

    As for the OP-the original poll was pretty bed-if you take you quickly realize 99% of the questions feel more like a neither.

    Also, when it comes to poverty and obesity-two observations somewhat anecdotal but I think have legitimate basis.

    #1 Most affordable foods that tend to spread far among people involve very high carb items. Potatoes are really cheap compared to non high carb vegetables. I can buy a 10lb bag of potatoes that can provide several meals is similar in cost to a head of broccoli or a bunch of asparagus which will only provide one meal. Pasta is dirt cheap compared to many other meal choices and goes very far.

    The poor are trying to spread their dollars and by virtue of price end up choosing high carb foods.

    #2 the typical American diet is junk. Poor or rich the vast majority of Americans eat crap and much of the crap is pretty cheap.

    Talking about Europe-junk food in Europe is much more expensive than healthy food. In the US a highly sweetened sugary cereal is much cheaper than a high fiber, low sugar kind. In the. US the healthier foods are expensive and the junk is cheap. I don’t expect the poor to be any less prone to buying the junk than the well off.

    I am not wealthy and I don’t have food stamps and groceries are outside of housing the most expensive part of the monthly budget. I am often amazed at how people can afford to shop solely at places like whole foods and traded Joes’s. I would have to double my food budget to afford food from those places.

    So I can easily see where the poor may struggle to pay for groceries and suffer from obesity. I actually think given the kinds of food that spread the dollars it makes sense that the poor struggle with obesity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  217. Jack says:

    @Pinky: I agree. This is not my first time disagreeing with Anjin, wr, grumpy, and others and will likely not be the last.

    “Two roads diverged in the wood and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

    This is a quote first written by the classic poet, Robert Frost. This simple, yet hard hitting quote reminds us to take the road we feel is right for us, no matter how many people believe it is not worth the effort.- Robin Williams in Dead Poet Society

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  218. anjin-san says:

    @ Jack

    Languages came relatively easy to me

    There you go. Thank your DNA. You had a gift for language, and between that and hard work, you were able to make a better life for yourself.

    Now imagine coming into the world with real gifts. Or an IQ of 91. Or a chronic health problem that does not allow you to live a normal life. Or mental illness. There are millions of people like that in America. They did not do anything wrong, they just lost the DNA lotttery.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  219. Grewgills says:

    @anjin-san:

    I can pick a restaurant at random in Paris and have a meal that is better than the best meal a lot of Americans will have in their entire lives.

    The best seafood I’ve ever had was at a place in Paris I picked at random.

    I have to call BS on this, particularly regarding the fish. My fish experience in Europe was abysmal. Everyone overcooked it no matter how specific the instructions given. There is some good fish on the Med, but by and large it was a HUGE disappointment. I do better buying fish and fruit out of someone’s ice chest on the side of the road here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  220. anjin-san says:

    @ Pinky

    Oh, what meanies liberals are.

    Tell me, what do most right wing blogs do with dissenting voices? Oh, yes – they quickly ban them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  221. wr says:

    @Jack: “So, serving my country is sucking the government tit? Working for a private employer with a government contract is sucking at the government tit? Providing a service to the government for which it pays my employer who then pays me is sucking at the government tit? You are going to compare me to those that collecting EBT/Welfare/food stamps/section 8? Is that the comparison you are really making? Or are you just being an ignorant douche like always?”

    According to the brave souls in the Tea Party and most Republicans. But hey, don’t get mad at me — I’m not the one who believes this. Your people do. Take it up with them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  222. Jack says:

    @anjin-san: Yet, when I first started reading this blog ~7 or more years ago, I thought it was right-wing, yet no one banned you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  223. anjin-san says:

    @ Grewgills

    I have never had a restaurant meal in Paris that I was not very pleased with, and I have had random walk in meals that were truly memorable. I can’t really speak to the rest of the continent, as I tend to gravitate to Paris and nearby areas. I’ve had some excellent meals in London, but I do research beforehand there. Hoping to spend some time in Italy next year, I have a long list of places to try that friends have given me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  224. Jack says:

    @wr: There is no one in the Tea Party that would accuse me of feeding off the government tit. Nice strawman…now prove it…and show your work, cupcake.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  225. anjin-san says:

    @ Jack

    Yet, when I first started reading this blog ~7 or more years ago, I thought it was right-wing

    James has always been (in my view) a moderate Republican, with roots in genuine conservatism, not the radical modern variant. This was never a right wing blog.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  226. anjin-san says:

    Now imagine coming into the world with real gifts

    Sorry, should be

    Now imagine coming into the world no gifts

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  227. Pinky says:

    @anjin-san:

    Oh, what meanies liberals are.

    It happens on any site, actually, where there’s a Tribe.

    Tell me, what do most right wing blogs do with dissenting voices? Oh, yes – they quickly ban them.

    Not in my experience. What have you been doing that gets you banned so quickly?

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  228. Jack says:

    @anjin-san: Believe it or not, I understood what you meant without the correction–I know that’s a surprise to you. You know, me being a barefoot, tobacco chewing, no toothed, slack jawed, hillbilly, right-wing, gun totin’, tea bagger and all.

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  229. Grewgills says:

    @wr:
    It’s mostly the higher VAT. When I was living in Europe I bought all of my electronics and some for family there while visiting family in the US.

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  230. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: You may want to consult a dictionary as to the definition of ‘radical’.

    to save you time, Radical is from the Latin, meaning literally ‘from the root’.
    so, radical conservatism isnt a variant. It is the real conservatism.

    Youre welcome.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 10

  231. Grewgills says:

    @Jack:

    However, those are not the ones conservatives like myself are complaining about. I’m complaining about the people who live off of taxpayers year after year who always seem to be able to buy the latest cell phone, get the latest gaming system, buy the latest sneakers, and still have money left over for recreational drugs.

    So your problem is with a small minority of the poor that you like to characterize as the majority then.

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  232. anjin-san says:

    @ Jack

    Believe it or not, I understood what you meant without the correction

    Well, you thought OTB was a right wing blog, and you have made quite a few comments today (and other days) that are wildly wrong, so forgive me if I don’t assume that you will understand certain concepts.

    barefoot, tobacco chewing, no toothed, slack jawed, hillbilly, right-wing, gun totin’, tea bagger

    I don’t believe I said any of those things about you. Do you have a victim complex? Grown men should not feel sorry for themselves, at least in public.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  233. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    to save you time, Radical is from the Latin, meaning literally ‘from the root’.
    so, radical conservatism isnt a variant. It is the real conservatism.

    Well, I suppose it’s possible that a hate and envy filled ignoramus such as yourself is a real conservative, and men of intelligence and character like Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley were the variant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  234. Moosebreath says:

    @Pinky:

    When Redstate was founded, the moderators did not merely ban anyone expressing a left-of-center opinion, no matter how politely expressed or how well backed up, but they took pleasure in doing so by mock shooting them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  235. Jack says:

    @anjin-san: No, you haven’t said them, and I apologize if you took my statement as an accusation. But that is typically how I am treated here, so I may as well turn into the skid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  236. Grewgills says:

    @Just Me:

    I am often amazed at how people can afford to shop solely at places like whole foods and traded Joes’s. I would have to double my food budget to afford food from those places.

    Whole Foods will eat up a whole paycheck, but Trader Joe’s has great prices and you can get good food there for cheaper than at the Safeway or whatever your dominant supermarket is.
    On the cheap sugary or starchy foods vs healthier veg prices you are spot on.

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  237. wr says:

    @Pinky: Fascinating. I post a message celebrating the lively discussions we’ve been having here for several days, and you find in the same facts only reasons to whine about how persecuted right wingers are.

    What a sad, dismal view of life you have.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  238. wr says:

    @Jack: “now prove it”

    Yawn.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  239. wr says:

    @Jack: “But that is typically how I am treated here, so I may as well turn into the skid.”

    Well, you lasted longer than many, but eventually every right-winger gives up arguing his points and lapses into whining self-pity. Congrats to you for holding out this long.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  240. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: try again.
    They would be considered “too radical” by today’s GOP.
    Then again, the GOP establishment didn’t much care for RR, either.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  241. wr says:

    @Grewgills: “Whole Foods will eat up a whole paycheck”

    That’s certainly the cliche, but they’ve been pretty responsive to it — yes, you can blow ludicrous amounts of money, but their house brand of organics is really well priced (competetive with other markets non-organic) and a lot of the produce is at least competetive as well…

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  242. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    RR

    I guess you don’t have the insight to realize that Ronald Reagan would despise what you stand for. Obama is closer to Reagan than you are.

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  243. Grewgills says:

    @wr:
    They have a few house brand items that are worth getting, but I can get produce as good for cheaper at several local markets and better produce for a better price if I go to one of the farmer’s markets that are closer to home. They cater to a more well of clientele, at least here they still do.

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  244. Monala says:

    @Jack: That “$60,000 of disposable income” would only be the case if an individual were receiving every form of public benefit available. That’s simply not the case – most people on public benefits qualify for one or two. In addition, many benefits are hard to obtain and time-limited, such as TANF and section 8 housing vouchers.

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  245. jukeboxgrad says:

    Pinky:

    Not in my experience.

    You need to get out more. National Review routinely deletes comments posted by liberals.

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  246. jukeboxgrad says:

    Pinky:

    You’re experiencing the swarm

    You’re experiencing what happens when you make bogus claims you cannot support. You cited a Heritage report that you said “is fully footnoted.” Your pal Jack cited Heritage saying this:

    42 percent of poor households actually own their own homes.

    Show me where that claim is “fully footnoted” by Heritage. You can’t and you won’t, because it’s not.

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  247. wr says:

    @Grewgills: Yeah, and that’s great if you’re in an area that has the right kind of store like that blockhead Anjin and his Berkeley Bowl. (Sorry, Anjin-san — that’s jealousy talking.) Down here in the desert our farmers markets shut down in June and reopen in October, so we miss just about everything you’d want from a farmer’s market… and Whole Foods, when it finally opens this fall, will be cheaper than the two high-end alternatives.

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  248. Matt says:

    @Jack: I’ve heard this same crap many times from right wingers. I want to know how to get unemployment like your mythical dude. Every job I’ve worked at fights unemployment claims and they usually win.

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  249. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: Really?
    You’re going to have to explain that.
    I’ll wait.

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  250. Stan says:

    I’ve long felt that if university education were free in the US we’d have a lot more kids willing to study hard in school and climb out of poverty. One example supporting my view is the case of Finland, see http://tinyurl.com/jwukxkj, another is the high rate of college attendance and graduation by members of a high school class in New York City when promised a free education by an alumni who had struck it rich. And then there’s the GI Bill of Rights, FDR’s last great progressive law. Maybe I’m naive, but it seems to me that people are moved more by hope than by fear.

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  251. jukeboxgrad says:

    Above I cited these statements:

    KM:

    It is a moral failing to be poor in some religious lines of thought

    Matt:

    a key cause of this view is a Calvinistic sense of moralism and predetermination

    I meant to include this one:

    gVOR08:

    conservatives very much do equate morality and success

    Sorry if there are others I missed.

    I think this is a key concept that is not discussed enough, so I’m glad to see several different people mention it here.

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  252. Eric Florack says:

    @Paul L.: exactly.

    And if we don’t agree that life choices are the key, we are labeled as “ignorant”.
    (Snort)

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  253. jukeboxgrad says:

    grumpy realist:

    He’ll continue tugging his forelock to “his betters” and never let out an ounce of complaint while they steal everything out from under him (oh, perfectly legally, of course.) Just as long as there is a population in the US that he can look down upon and sneer at as “undeserving.”

    That last sentence is quite important. The ability to “look down upon” is key.

    We are social creatures, and our experience of wealth or poverty is relative, not absolute. A basic feature of human nature is to feel a little less bad about your poverty when you notice that someone else is even poorer. Being one rung above the bottom of the ladder is much less uncomfortable than being at the bottom. There are strong evolutionary reasons for this.

    So poor white people get some comfort from thinking that the poor black people on the other side of town are even poorer, and it’s deeply disturbing to contemplate a reversal of this structure. Which is what comes to mind when the government attempts to lift up the poorest of the poor.

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  254. Stonetools says:

    I don’t judge conservatives’ view of the poor by what they say; I judge by what they do. Based on conservative policy toward the poor over the last 50 years, you would have to conclude that conservatives HATE the poor, especially the black and brown poor.
    One of many examples is the Republicans blocking of expanded Medicaid in the states. Conservatives have no real reason to oppose it. Even their usual pretext “We can’t afford it” doesn’t apply , since the federal government picks up most of the tab. No, they simply oppose extended Medicaid out of the belief that the they just shouldn’t have to pay for health insurance for the poor and if that means that they suffer and die, well it’s just too damn bad.

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  255. Moosebreath says:

    @Stonetools:

    “Even their usual pretext “We can’t afford it” doesn’t apply , since the federal government picks up most all of the tab for the 1st 3 years, and 90% thereafter.”

    FTFY.

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  256. Stonetools says:

    Please free my comment from the spam filter. Tia

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  257. dmhlt says:

    @Pinky:

    Citation for conservatives viewing poor as LAZY:

    [1] Rep. Paul Ryan:
    “We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with….”
    http://www.politicususa.com/2014/03/12/paul-ryan-claims-black-men-lazy-poverty-country.html

    [2] Don Yelton, GOP party official in North Carolina:
    “If it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that wants the government to give them everything, so be it.”
    http://articles.latimes.com/2013/oct/25/entertainment/la-et-st-don-yelton-daily-show-racist-remarks-voter-id-north-carolina-republican-20131025

    Citation for STUPID

    May not help my case, but you gotta love this John Stuart Mill quote:

    “I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.”
    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/John_Stuart_Mill

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  258. C. Clavin says:

    @Eric Florack:
    That’s just insane. Today’s Republicans are not Conservative by any imaginable definition.
    Radical economic theories.
    Radical activist judges legislating from the bench.
    Radical imperialistic foreign policy.
    Radical approach to governance…and an expressed (and acted upon) desire to burn everything down to serve their radical ideological ends.
    Radical idea that some people deserve freedom and others do not.
    The GOP has lost it’s way. And dupes like you will never be able to grasp that fact.

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  259. jukeboxgrad says:

    you gotta love this John Stuart Mill quote

    I like that quote. I think it goes well with this one, which I think is quite fitting for this thread:

    “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

    -John Kenneth Galbraith

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  260. jukeboxgrad says:

    Please free my comment from the spam filter.

    By any chance was it a reply to me? If so, that’s why it got stuck.

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  261. Stonetools says:

    Yep. It was in reply to a comment of yours. I’ll just let it go.

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  262. rudderpedals says:

    @Eric Florack:

    to save you time, Radical is from the Latin, meaning literally ‘from the root’.
    so, radical conservatism isnt a variant.

    Perhaps this explains the Bill Ayers’s book’s popularity with the far right.

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  263. jukeboxgrad says:

    Yep. It was in reply to a comment of yours.

    Your comment will go through just fine if you avoid the Reply feature.

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  264. Pinky says:

    @jukeboxgrad: This is one of those problems with message boards. When someone says something like “It is a moral failing to be poor in some religious lines of thought”, I don’t bother replying. But what if people take it seriously? If you let enough statements like that go by, people will start to treat it as a fact. I’m hoping to spend very little time on the computer today, so let me just say the following: That statement is practically meaningless. It could refer to an element of Calvinism, which is not synonymous with American Christian thought, much less American Conservative thought. It ignores all the arguments about private versus public charity. It ignores – well, as I said, it ignores so much as to be almost meaningless. It is a moral failing to be rich in some religious lines of thought. It is a moral failing to be poor, or rich, in some secular lines of thought. It just bugs me that someone’s going to think that conservatives think the poor have it easy because it’s a moral failing to be poor in some religious lines of thought, and believe that they’ve thought through the whole thing. Happy 4th, all.

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  265. jukeboxgrad says:

    When someone says something like “It is a moral failing to be poor in some religious lines of thought”, I don’t bother replying.

    Plenty of evidence was presented showing that “it is a moral failing to be poor” is a key part of contemporary conservative dogma. You “don’t bother replying” because you can’t address that evidence.

    And while rejecting claims by others without lifting a finger to address the evidence that was presented to support those claims, you feel free to make claims that are bogus and unsupported by evidence. You cited a Heritage report that you said “is fully footnoted,” and you are pretending to not notice that I challenged you to support that claim.

    Not understanding the difference between assertion and evidence is a key part of what makes you such a good conservative. You treat your own bogus assertions as if they require no evidence whatsoever, while treating claims made by others as unsupported even though they are not unsupported.

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  266. Stan says:

    In many ways I agree with Jack. Yes, many poor people are responsible for their own problems. Yes, many successful people owe their situation more to hard work than to good luck in the genetic lottery. Yes, God helps those who help themselves. But no matter how justified Jack may be in his criticisms of the poor, and I think there’s a lot in what he says, my feeling is so what? Who cares a rat’s ass about who’s at fault? We have a higher percentage of poor people in the US than in other advanced countries. Their presence here is bad in a practical sense in every conceivable way, besides being a moral stain on our consciences. What can we do about it? We can follow Jack’s recommendation and say not my fault, they’re bringing it on themselves, they’re not my problem. But they are. Among other things, they contribute to our high health costs, to our high crime rates, and to our inability to sustain consumer spending.

    Before retiring I did basic research at a university in applied physics. Before starting a new study our research team would survey the literature to avoid methods that didn’t work and to improve on methods that did. If we applied the same methodology to the poverty problem, we’d see that Jack’s method — and Doug’s, for that matter — is to cut social benefits, lower taxes on the wealthy, and wait for the magic of the marketplace to solve all our problems. This has failed, and if Jack can’t acknowledge this, it’s because he’s blinded by his disdain for people who haven’t accomplished as much as he has. The most successful countries in western Europe have largely avoided the kind of mass poverty we have in the US through a mixture of social welfare to keep people from falling into despair, spending on education, and practical training to produce a productive work force. Even if the poor are responsible for their own problems, and they are to some extent, we still need to do more about poverty rather than simply wave our fingers at them and say it’s your own fault.

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  267. bill says:

    @C. Clavin: sure, throw money at the problem- that’s worked in the past right?! the money spent could have just been given to them directly to see what they could have made of themselves. it couldn’t have done any worse.

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  268. Jenny says:

    The only ones I see pushing that “the poor have it too easy” trope, are the leftists, who attack poor US citizens, whose jobs were sent overseas by DEMOCRATS, or the poor US citizens who speak up because they are losing jobs, or being denied jobs because DEMOCRATS refuse to enforce the immigration laws put in place to protect the most vulnerable from having their wages dragged down by illegal aliens. It’s DEMOCRATS & the left who have increased poverty and homelessness. It’s DEMOCRATS and the left who attack poor citizens for speaking out on behalf of their rights. The corporate interests are in bed with the democrats and the left so please can this cr*p about, “the right”

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  269. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenny:

    The only ones I see pushing that “the poor have it too easy” trope, are the leftists, who attack poor US citizens, whose jobs were sent overseas by DEMOCRATS

    Evidently you missed the ENTIRE Romney campaign.

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  270. CarolDuhart2 says:

    @beth: And let’s not forget the used-to-haves : folks who were doing great until a recession, a layoff, or some other disaster hit. And of course the folks who had to retire and still had the toys they had when they were working.

    And electronics are incredibly cheap these days. A trip to Walmart or Costco. And there are second-hand stuff you can get from pawn shops, rummage sales, et cetera.

    What poverty is is when you struggle to get the essentials in life-food, medicine, transportation.

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