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Economic Morality

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Like many of you, I’ve been following the John Roberts confirmation hearing and I’ve found it fascinating to hear intelligent, eloquent people from both sides present their cases. Last night, one of the final witnesses against Roberts was Dr. Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under the Clinton administration, and a former professor at Brandeis University.

Reich opened his statement with a reminder that an increasingly smaller segment of the population has been getting increasingly wealthier. “If that doesn’t bring up issues of economic morality, I don’t know what does,” he remarked.

Inherent in Reich’s beliefs, and the beliefs of most liberals, is the idea that inequality per se is immoral.

A great case in point, brought up by a previous witness [an economist-sounding female with a British accent whose name I didn’t catch], is one where male sewer workers earn higher wages than female clerical workers. Prima facie, this appears to be case of gender discrimination and favoritism, another example of immoral inequality deserving of government intervention. However, this witness brought up several points. First, the market itself controls wages by valuing some services more highly than others, for its own reasons. Second, females are not prohibited from becoming sewer workers, but rather in the aggregate, they just don’t seem to want to become sewer workers. Third, in a study where people were asked to choose between clerical work and sewer work for the same wage, every person chose clerical work; the fact is that the market must pay people higher wages to do that type of work.

Where is the immorality here, and how much sense does it make for the government to interfere in this process? No more sense, I would argue, than it would make for a filmographer to intervene in the natural, amoral processes he is filming, thereby projecting his own morality on to those processes.

Reich, like all good leftists do, believes that the role of government is to engineer social uniformity, to eliminate all of society’s “immoral inequalities” which are believed to be caused entirely by socioeconomic factors. In other words, by equalizing socioeconomic status among the population (economic morality), you will eliminate many of society’s problems such as lack of education, illegitimacy and crime.

It just isn’t so, because we know that these social problems are not caused by low socioeconomic status, though they are correlated with it. But this proves that even an intelligent, highly educated person can be misguided; as is the well-meaning nature filmographer who, feeling sorry for the injured animal about to be eaten, ties a brick to the lioness’ hind leg to even the playing field.

The liberal politician wishes to change the world, to right what he sees as society’s wrongs. To do so, he must obtain power by winning the approval of the majority of people. The people play the sick role, aware of their symptoms but waiting for a diagnosis to explain their symptoms, wanting to feel better.

The politician readily provides such a diagnosis:

You suffer from a disease, an external process which is no fault of your own and entirely beyond your control. You are hapless victims and I have the cure.

To this end, both he and the liberal media will confuse causality with correlation in their assessment of society’s problems, thereby engineering a polarization. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps even despite their education and intellect they honestly cannot tell the difference between causality and correlation, in which case they are guilty only of ignorance. But surely many of them, deep down, do know the difference but are unable to abandon the positions in which they are so deeply invested.

The very sad irony is that the liberals are dooming the very people they’re out to save.
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  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Very clearly put. Good job. I wish more people would grasp some of these basic concepts and cast aside the old, worn out cliches the left has lived by for so many years.

    Dave

  • troll

    The left/right – democrat/republican distinction is a matter of propaganda and esthetics not ethics…how much must be given back to avoid a backlash…how best to package the system of expropriation

    capitalist government is about enabling the redistributing the wealth of the many to the few

    take your organizing principle – maximization of profit – off my (I mean Eric’s) bridge

    troll

  • troll

    should have edited for clarity – sorry

    capitalist government is about enabling the redistribution of the wealth of the many to the few

  • RedTard

    troll,

    I agree with your statement, but it is a two way street. The middle class makes money for the rich. The rich and middle class pay off the poor to keep them out of their subdivisions.

    Poor people do not create wealth, that’s why they’re poor. They live in houses they never built, eat food they never grew, and wear clothes they never sewed. The poor and the rich are both supported by the high productivity of the middle class.

  • Les Slater

    “Poor people do not create wealth, that’s why they’re poor. They live in houses they never built, eat food they never grew, and wear clothes they never sewed.”

    And who do you think built those houses, grows the food and sews the clothes? What world do you live in?

    Poor, and middle class are imprecise terminologies at best. Some workers are somewhat affluent, most not, and some middle class are poor, but it is the workers that produce the houses, the clothing and most of the food. There is a small layer of the population that is family farmers that produce a significant quantity of food. I would place farmers in a distinct class separate fro the middle class. In any case it is a small portion of the population.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    I’ve got the answer to the problem. Soylent Green. That’s the way to go.

  • troll

    yummy – you’re singing my song

    troll

  • alethinos59

    Ahh Searcher… Nice to hear someone else using the old, “blame the poor for being poor” scam…

    What you’ve done, with moderate success here in your post is to misdirect.

    Few educated people of liberal bent BELIEVE that there is such a thing as complete economic equality. There will are levels to society. Not everyone can be rich. Not everyone can be middle class.

    The issue HAS BEEN and will CONTINUE to be the elimination of the EXTREMES of WEALTH and POVERTY.

    Some people are lazy. They don’t want to work. They’re not too smart. Should they be GIVEN wealth? Hell no. I don’t know anyone who’d say otherwise.

    But there are a LOT of WORKING POOR. For whatever reason they are there at the bottom. Do they deserve to live hand to mouth when their company’s CEO, living 5 miles away just became $2 million richer because he laid them off? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

    The bullshit spewed out by such CEO types – that they’re only responding to “shareholder demands” is getting quite old. Who ARE these shareholders, who own millions of shares? Oddly enough, the senior management of that very company, along with their friends at other Fortune 500 companies…

    I would suggest trying to find a fresher approach toward blaming the poor for their own plight… This one’s already old…

    Alethinos

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    I don’t see anyone blaming the poor here. There’s a huge difference between saying the poor are poor and someone always has to be on the bottom of the economic pile and the poor deliberately choose to be poor. Most on the left accept the basic theories of Darwin, but they never seem willing to make the next logical step. Some people just aren’t as intelligent, as motivated or as capable as others, but that does not mean they are bad people or seek to be poor. This is why a diverse capitalist society is so wonderful. It lets every person find their level, find gainful employment and live a decent life if they are willing to work hard, despite their limitations of intellect and birth. Yet the inescapable truth is that not everyone is motivated to do the hard work to overcome the limitations they are born into. For them the society provides menial jobs which are relatively undemanding.

    Of course, the largest mistake we have made as a society is to provide support for those who are unwilling to work at all, essentially setting up a disincentive for those at the lower end of the economic spectrum to do the work necessary to advance themselves. Government should do everything they can to provide opportunity for those who are willing to take it, but perpetual support for those who will not work for themselves is self-defeating.

    Dave

  • Les Slater

    “Most on the left accept the basic theories of Darwin, but they never seem willing to make the next logical step.”

    The next logical step?

    It was the dawn of civilization where humans became civilized and began to accumulate surpluses sufficient so that it became possible to begin to rise above everyone-for-themselves survival. This was progress.

    It is a sign of utter bankruptcy for the collection of rich snots to justify their greed by raising the ‘next logical step’ as a defense of their social status.

    These people ultimately depend on brute force to maintain their miserable positions in society. One slip and they find themselves on the other side.

    I’m not talking about revolution here either. These snot’s positions aren’t as secure as they would like to think they are. They are really scared shitless that the economic system that they so dearly worship will eat them up too.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Les, you don’t understand even one little bit, do you. The leftist policies you support don’t keep the rich in power, they keep the poor from advancing and having a better life even if they try as hard as they can. The problem isn’t the rich, it’s the institutionalized support and enablement of poverty.

    Dave

  • Les Slater

    What ‘leftist policies [I] support’?

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Sorry, I assumed that your irrational hatred of the rich was part of the usual package of deluded and self-serving leftist twaddle designed as an excuse to justify exploiting the poor for political profit.

    Guess not.

    Dave

  • Les Slater

    Thanks.

    Hatred is never totally rational but there are there are reasons for it. I do not support the Democratic Party’s solutions, and as you say, they are designed to institutionalize poverty and profit from it. The Republicans are not essentially different. There is a division of labor.

    I see a middle class hysteria on both the left and the right. My above post applied to both.

  • Les Slater

    B.T.W. if there was ever a snot that epitomized snottery, it was John Kerry.

  • Liberal

    “Inherent in Reich’s beliefs, and the beliefs of most liberals, is the idea that inequality per se is immoral.”

    Inequality is not itself immoral. What is immoral is an enforced condition that doesn’t allow the sort of Darwinism that Dave mentions to reach its natural state.

    For instance, professional sports is an area where performance alone determines success (well almost). Given an equal playing field (pun intended) a certain diversity among the population will develop in all things except the level of talent.

    The immoral condition was that which existed before Jackie Robinson took the field for the Dodgers, where the natural effect of Darwinism was prevented and the inequality was forced.

    “Some people just aren’t as intelligent, as motivated or as capable as others.”

    This is obviously true. However, when it is not this factor that solely determines success, civilization advances more slowly.

    “This is why a diverse capitalist society is so wonderful. It lets every person find their level, find gainful employment and live a decent life if they are willing to work hard.”

    Unfortunately, that is not really the society that we live in. Make a list of young, a-list actors. What percentage of them are the children of a-list actors?

    I have concentrated on higher profile professions, but these phenomena extend to the rest of society. In Connecticut, and I don’t know how this works elsewhere, education is funded through local property taxes. Students in Greenwich, one of the richest communities in the country, receive a far better education than those in Bridgeport, which is one of the poorest.

    We have a see-saw mentality in this country, where the wealthy must maintain their wealth by keeping the poor poor, leaving them relatively wealthier. We have not, to our detriment, grasped John Kennedy’s idea that “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

    It cannot be the case that only white males have the talents necessary to be CEO of a major corporation and yet corporate CEOs are overwhelming white and male. Why is that?

  • http://spaces.msn.com/members/searcher73/ The Searcher

    I appreciate all the comments; I found some of them quite amusing.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    >>I have concentrated on higher profile professions, but these phenomena extend to the rest of society. In Connecticut, and I don’t know how this works elsewhere, education is funded through local property taxes. Students in Greenwich, one of the richest communities in the country, receive a far better education than those in Bridgeport, which is one of the poorest.< <

    Except that as it turns out, even if you put the best teachers in those poor community schools and double the money, by taking it from other communities - which has been tried here in Texas, the schools don't get any better, because it's the family background and the community which determine educational success, not teacher quality or educational spending.

    >>We have a see-saw mentality in this country, where the wealthy must maintain their wealth by keeping the poor poor, leaving them relatively wealthier. < <

    This is fundamentally untrue. I challenge you to demonstrate any kind of causal relationship between the wealth acquisition and impoverishment. It's been tried. It doesn't work that way. The fact is that for the most part, those who build up personal wealth also make those around them and those they employ wealthier as well - maybe not on the same scale, but as a general trend.

    >>We have not, to our detriment, grasped John Kennedy’s idea that “a rising tide lifts all boats.”<<

    It’s not an idea, it’s a fact of the economy.

    Dave

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com Eric Berlin

    Except that the poverty rate has increased throughout Bush’s five years in office… a hole in the boat, then?

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    This discussion is so disappointing and immature.

    Dave’s serious advocacy of social Darwinism is bizarre enough, but the inchoate discussion of morality by people with no knowledge of ethics or how socialization works is quite amusing.

    Making poverty vs. wealth an issue of moral character is classic “blaming the victim” rhetoric and anyone who employs it should read the William Ryan book from the 1970s before they trot it out yet again. What’s particularly disturbing about the language of “a culture of dependency and failure” is that it’s basically code for racial divisiveness in this country.

    There have been many sociologists who point out the endurance of inherited wealth in this country, where traditionally wealthy families (many from the East Coast) have spread their enterprise around the country and remained dominant among the top 1% of wealth in this country that controls the vast majority of the movement of capital in this country. The Horatio Alger morality lessons are cute and necessary for anyone who’s poor to take to heart, but let’s not pretend that there isn’t a distinctly historical imbalance of wealth distribution that makes this one of the most unequal nations in the history of the industrialized world.

    Since you’re all using code for race, let’s be explicit. African-Americans are a textbook underclass and the arguments for the moral failure (tied to criticisms of academic, economic and criminal behavior) of blacks in this nation are virtually identical to the criticisms of racial minority groups in the history of virtually every colonial experience. The British still attribute the same moral criticisms to Indians and Pakistanis in their nation, who are still considered poor, inferior, morally suspect minorities who live in “slums” in London. Considering the positive reputation which South Asian immigrants have in this country, where they are consistently the most educated immigrants who arrive on our shores, how can the difference in which group becomes the underclass be explained by anything but enduring, socially constructed prejudices and structural discrimination? Indians are the UK’s blacks, where the racial slur “Paki” is basically the equivalent of our N-word as one of the most hatefully backwards word in the vernacular. Are we to attribute this to some sort of fundamental moral failing in their home culture, some pseudo-scientific “Darwininan” explanation of their fitness to survive? Or can this be an illustrative example of the unique processes by which socialized discrimination endures? The history of the Irish in the UK is another example.

    If it seems like it’s the SAME groups that are continuously being “naturally selected out” in your disgusting Social Darwinist fantasy, then it’s incumbent upon not only the minority culture but the dominant culture to answer for the morality of that situation.

    Dave, to make it personal since you want to speak of natural differences in intelligence and ability and are so insistent upon repudiating any moral obligation to others, sit down with your wife and have an honest discussion about the way Native Americans have been misperceived and excluded from mainstream society over hundreds of years. You may think you relate to her completely on your own terms as a white man, but I’m sure her experience of “economic morality” and racial pre-judgment is much richer and more mature than your perspective is. Yes, she may well be a conservative who thinks Natives need to work on themselves to get past alcoholism or poverty through education, but it doesn’t change the fact that she has some personal understanding of WHY Natives feel that their hard work won’t pay off in a way that’s fair, economically or socially.

    No one would rationally choose to be poor and suffer. And to attribute that sort of self-hatred to others is borderline morally monstrous and possibly most accurately a projection of people’s own hatreds.

    Dave, by that logic, your classmates at St. Alban’s could look at you and call you a moral failure since you’re in the bottom 5% of wage earners and in possession of relatively little wealth compared to the politicians, high-powered lawyers, and CEOs that came out of that school.

    Keep in mind too that welfare has been almost completey dismantled in this country, for better or worse, and that the “culture of dependency” argument is so 1980s. Now, people know they can’t rely on the government for significant aid to live by or readily available job training or quality schools and they make do with what they don’t have. We’ve broken the “welfare state” model for almost a full decade and we’ve seen an increase in poverty, not a decrease. People don’t find the minimum-wage service sector jobs liveable for their families, and that’s why there’s been a marked increase in child poverty, hunger, and parental presence as a result of a less-than-serious commitment to creating good jobs with a decent wage for former welfare recipients.

    Anyone in education who’s so oblivious to the notably successful efforts in inner city schools to use funding for magnet-type programs and to raise standards and test scores as a result should really read up on the more recent literature.

    That is all.

  • Les Slater

    “What’s particularly disturbing about the language of ‘a culture of dependency and failure’ is that it’s basically code for racial divisiveness in this country.”

    I do not think this is true. At least it is not fundamentally so. How people fared in New Orleans was primarily dependent on their economic status. Better off Blacks faired better than poor whites.

    Yes, there is deep-seated racism, but also contempt for the poor in general. You heard of ‘poor white trash’?

    Wealthier Blacks have contempt for poor Blacks as well other nationalities and whites. This is especially true of the Black political leadership, which mostly represents this privileged layer.

    Blacks are a greater percentage of poor because of a long history of brutal discrimination, which still exists. Even though wealthier Blacks are discriminated against, the social consequence of the Black population’s existence is more related to their economic status than race.

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Yes, class is the problem more than race, but it can’t be ignored that the primary locus of economic discrimination in American society has always been racial.

    You can’t talk about poverty without talking about race because blacks and Hispanic immigrants are the poorest and definitely subject to the last hired – first fired phenomenon. Black professionals are to be admired but the statistics overwhemingly show that educated blacks in business rarely advance beyond mid-level management into the upper reaches of executives. So discrimination isn’t just against poor blacks, but the discrimination of most concern is obviously against the poor.

    It just happens that race is the primary fault line upon which poverty resides in this country.

    That is all.

  • Nancy

    A question for anyone who know the answer: I read/heard somewhere last week that the outrageous over-compensation of CEOs rampant in America does not exist in Europe; I don’t remember where I read/heard this, nor were there any details I read/heard concerning how or why this obtained in Europe: whether they had laws limiting CEP reimbursements or what. Anyone know about this one?

  • Jody

    Funny how people have theroies of proverty. Live in it for a while and see how you get out. I have been in proverty and the only way I got out was that I knew what it was to be middle class. I knew how to get out. I watched how proverty and education had been ingrained in those in proverty. Look at major stores like Walmart. They pay people as little as they can and employees have no health care. They live day to day and when they get their pay check its usually spent at the store. Now Walmart is cashing checks and becoming a store bank. Funny how no one says this is wrong? The poor cash their checks at check cashing places and get charged. The poor buy at dollar stores which usually the items sold are cheaper in the burbs due to competition. The poor usually can not get to these stores. The poor have no extra money to save. I’ve seen the same people work at discount stores for years. Most can’t afford cars and gas. They can’t afford to get education. When you live in proverty you see how the world works and what political world you would follow.

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Well said, Jody.

    Another little-known fact about the inner cities is that grocery stores are frequently hard to access, few in number and (in a cruel irony) actually charge MORE than the same chain will in the suburbs. Meanwhile, liquor and tobacco stores, advertisements for these unhealthy products, and the unhealthiest fast food chains are everywhere, contributing to the obesity, health and addiction problems that make it even harder for people to work and live long, happy lives. If you’ve ever been in a neighborhood like Englewood on the South Side of Chicago, you can’t find a single grocery for miles, you find nothing but sneaker and used-jewelry stores in between liquor stores, and every restaurant is a fried-chicken and fried-food chain where you get served and put your money in a rotating door through bulletproof glass.
    And you wonder why people are alienated and feel dehumanized by poverty?

    That is all.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>Except that the poverty rate has increased throughout Bush’s five years in office… a hole in the boat, then?< <

    The increase in the percentage in poverty is a tiny fraction of a percent over 5 years, and is less than the amount that the poverty line has been raised by the Census bureau during that time.

    >> What’s particularly disturbing about the language of “a culture of dependency and failure” is that it’s basically code for racial divisiveness in this country. < <

    What's most disturbing about it is that it exists and that it is fostered and fed on by the Democratic party.

    >>There have been many sociologists who point out the endurance of inherited wealth in this country, where traditionally wealthy families (many from the East Coast) have spread their enterprise around the country and remained dominant among the top 1% of wealth in this country that controls the vast majority of the movement of capital in this country. The Horatio Alger morality lessons are cute and necessary for anyone who’s poor to take to heart, but let’s not pretend that there isn’t a distinctly historical imbalance of wealth distribution that makes this one of the most unequal nations in the history of the industrialized world.< <

    The top 1% of wealth is a huge group of People, it's a group of THREE MILLION people. Only a tiny fraction of those survive primarily on inherited wealth. I know from personal experience that inherited wealth doesn't necessarily survive successive generations. Because of large families and excessive taxation, with each generation the fairly substantial wealth of my great grandparents has been subdivided so many times that very little has passed down even to my parents. My great grandparents owned corporations. My parents and their siblings were skilled and well educated, but depended on the salaries they earned. Ever heard of the term 'genteel poverty'? It's extremely real in America.

    Most of the top 1% you're talking about have earned their way to that status, and when you get to the very, very top of that group - the top 1/10th of 1% who really have enormous wealth, even more are self-made.

    >>If it seems like it’s the SAME groups that are continuously being “naturally selected out” in your disgusting Social Darwinist fantasy, then it’s incumbent upon not only the minority culture but the dominant culture to answer for the morality of that situation. < <

    Except, of course, that statistics don't bear out any of what you believe to be true about society. The fact is that there is a higher percentage of whites below the poverty line than blacks, than unemployment is higher among whites and blacks than it is among hispanics, and that there are a larger percentage of poor whites on welfare than of poor blacks. The reality is much more as Lee describes it, that there's a class of chronic poor people which is unassociated with race.

    >>Dave, to make it personal since you want to speak of natural differences in intelligence and ability and are so insistent upon repudiating any moral obligation to others,< <

    I, of course, said absolutely nothing of the sort.

    >> sit down with your wife and have an honest discussion about the way Native Americans have been misperceived and excluded from mainstream society over hundreds of years.< <

    My wife is an extreme hadcore Republican and her family are Cherokees and have lived successfully in white society for more than 100 years. You don't have a real grasp how totally accepted native americans are in the culture of states like Texas and Oklahoma.

    >> You may think you relate to her completely on your own terms as a white man, but I’m sure her experience of “economic morality” and racial pre-judgment is much richer and more mature than your perspective is.< <

    We have talked about it. She's never experienced racial prejudice. She's a part-blood Cherokee living in Texas. One of the chiefs of the Cherokee nation lives down the street from us on a 10,000 acre ranch. Neither of them has ever been looked at twice for being Cherokee. His son goes to the same private school as our daughters.

    >> Yes, she may well be a conservative who thinks Natives need to work on themselves to get past alcoholism or poverty through education, but it doesn’t change the fact that she has some personal understanding of WHY Natives feel that their hard work won’t pay off in a way that’s fair, economically or socially.< <

    Except that it HAS paid off for her and her family over the years. They aren't all wealthy, but they were never reservation indians. They've never been exposed to prejudice because they live in a state which is extremely ethnically diverse with people of mixed blood all over the place.

    >>No one would rationally choose to be poor and suffer. And to attribute that sort of self-hatred to others is borderline morally monstrous and possibly most accurately a projection of people’s own hatreds. < <

    No one ever said that anyone chose to be poor. But those who are poor do have the opportunity to get out of poverty through hard work. I've seen it happen.

    >>Dave, by that logic, your classmates at St. Alban’s could look at you and call you a moral failure since you’re in the bottom 5% of wage earners and in possession of relatively little wealth compared to the politicians, high-powered lawyers, and CEOs that came out of that school.< <

    Good lord, where did you get the idea I'm in the bottom 5% of wage earners? I don't earn all that much money, but it still puts me in the top 2% according to the statistics I've seen. This is one of the reasons why I object to the left's soak the rich politics, because they consider people like me rich, and I can ill-afford to pay more in taxes than I already do.

    >>Keep in mind too that welfare has been almost completey dismantled in this country, for better or worse, and that the “culture of dependency” argument is so 1980s. Now, people know they can’t rely on the government for significant aid to live by or readily available job training or quality schools and they make do with what they don’t have.< <

    They may not be able to depend much on the federal government, but believe me, state programs are alive and well. No one has done anything to eliminate basic programs like WIC and its equivalents.

    >> We’ve broken the “welfare state” model for almost a full decade and we’ve seen an increase in poverty, not a decrease.< <

    Welfare doesn't get people out of poverty, it just helps them cope with poverty.

    >> People don’t find the minimum-wage service sector jobs liveable for their families,< <

    It's a good thing that minimum-wage service jobs don't actually exist. As I proved in detail in an article last year, you can't find a job anywhere in this country that on the books that pays the federally mandated minimum wage. On a nationwide basis the market sets the real base wage at around $2 per hour more than the federal minimum wage.

    As I also demonstrated in that article, it's perfectly possible to live a decent life on $7 an hour. I lived on the equivalent of less than that by working only half time while going to grad school and I didn't experience a great deal of suffering. I still know plenty of people who live that same lifestyle successfully.

    >>and that’s why there’s been a marked increase in child poverty, hunger, and parental presence as a result of a less-than-serious commitment to creating good jobs with a decent wage for former welfare recipients.< <

    Actually, the truth is that the stats on child poverty and hunger immediately started going up when the federal government linked aid to schools directly to the number of people they signed up for assisted lunch programs. Public school administrators went out recruiting people below the $50K family income cut-off who otherwise never would have considered themselves poor, to sign up for assisted lunches and the result is that all those kids started being counted as poor and hungry when they aren't really poor or hungry and only got classed that way because of active recruitment by education bureaucrats.

    >>Anyone in education who’s so oblivious to the notably successful efforts in inner city schools to use funding for magnet-type programs and to raise standards and test scores as a result should really read up on the more recent literature.<<

    All magnet programs do is help the kids in the magnet programs and help education bureaucrats keep their schools from being classed as failing. They bring kids from wealthier family backgrounds into failing schools where they are completely isolated from the general population of the school and educated well, while the neighborhood kids who go to the regular part of the school continue to fail. So much so, in fact, that in Austin 2 of the magnet schools fell below the 50% mark on our state mandated testing despite the presence of magnet students in 2003 and 2004.

    So, once again, your assumptions fail the test of fact. You should stop believing what Air America is telling you and go out and live in the real world for a while and see how things really are.

    Dave

  • Les Slater

    “It just happens that race is the primary fault line upon which poverty resides in this country.”

    Race is not a scientifically based category. As far as Blacks are concerned it is primarily skin color. There are other features that may be pointed to but they are not primary. There are some examples of whites and Blacks that have such a close relationship of features that they might be considered kin if not twins except for their skin color.

    Skin color is an identifiable fault line. Prejudice is easy to apply when it is so easy to group. People will ignore the skin color if they are confronted with the likes of a Bill Cosby, who, in turn, don’t primarily see skin color (except maybe as an embarrassment) when they confront a typical poor Black.

    Skin color and other features, like maybe a serious clue like surname, are what make up the target of discrimination.

    History is what makes up who is discriminated against, but the history has more to do with economics than any feature of the discriminated. Slavery was primarily an economic relationship. The ‘racial’ justifications came afterwards.

    The Hispanics, like Irish and others were accused of taking jobs and resources, primarily economic justifications.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>A question for anyone who know the answer: I read/heard somewhere last week that the outrageous over-compensation of CEOs rampant in America does not exist in Europe; I don’t remember where I read/heard this, nor were there any details I read/heard concerning how or why this obtained in Europe: whether they had laws limiting CEP reimbursements or what. Anyone know about this one?<<

    This is primarily because wealthy Europeans long ago took themselves out of the economies of their home countries by changing their official residences to tax haven countries, or making sure that their wealth and earnings were accumulated outside of Europe, and by taking their corporations international so that they would not be saddled with excessive European taxation.

    Dave

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>Dave, to make it personal since you want to speak of natural differences in intelligence and ability and are so insistent upon repudiating any moral obligation to others,<<

    I forgot to finish my response to this part of Babs’ little tirade. In addition to never having said anything like this, I do absolutely believe in our moral obligation to others. Each person has the obligation to share what wealth he makes, or what services he can provide with those who are disadvantaged. That is a basic moral obligation in society. But that does not mean that forced charity at gunpoint, carried out by the government is a good idea. Incentives, like tax deductions, for contributing the charity are a great thing, but just taking money from people using the force of government and giving it to others is exactly the kind of thing we fought a revolutionary war to stop.

    Far from repudiating our moral obligations, I’d say that they are among the most important responsibilities we have. But they are our responsibility as individuals, not collectively through government.

    Dave

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Dave,

    That “Air America” closer was so lame and doesn’t apply to me at all and you know it. I’ve never heard a second of Air America in my life. Stop wasting your time with talk radio phantom politics.

    Dave, notice a trend in the arguments you have? All the things you assert as “fact” are only true as a matter of very narrow interpretation and when they’re challenged against the truth of broader perspective, you always end up only defending them on some very narrow semantic terms.

    I feel so bad about “genteel poverty,” I really do.

    I’ve seen the stats about the white poor before as well (often quoted by liberals), but I’ve also read that black poverty is much more enduring over generations than white poverty is. Black poverty is more systemic, but white poverty is of equal concern.

    I said “bottom 5%” of St. Alban’s alums.

    Your wife is part-Cherokee and I’m glad she’s had such a great time of things in this country, but her example doesn’t disprove the example of the economic fortunes of most Native Americans, who have the highest unemployment rates (and the concomitant social problems that come with that) of any ethnic group in the country. I’m sorry to hear she’s not more informed or in touch with that situation. Meanwhile, we have Mr. Nalle pontificating about how Natives should suck it up and take our representations of them as college mascots while Mrs. Nalle thinks racism doesn’t affect her people.

    School lunch accounting is not the only reason poverty and child hunger rates have gone up so significantly. Again, this is another example of a situation where you use some minor fact that’s only very narrowly true to disconfirm something much broader.

    Similarly, your anecdotal claim about wealthy students at magnet schools, many of which are now tied to neighborhoods in places like Chicago and hence wouldn’t have wealthy students unless they lived in the hood, means very little to the fact that there are definite success stories when states and cities get serious about investing money and talented teachers in inner city schools. There are plenty of magnet schools here and in Austin that fail in their mission, there’s no question, because they too face funding difficulties and some of the same problems that all inner city schools face. But committed educators, not those who are so quick to dismiss city-school funding as a waste of effort and the students in those schools as ineducable due to a “culture of dependence and failure,” know better than to share your cynicism.

    Your state welfare stories are at best anecdotal and I’m glad I can “take your word” for it.

    Again, your anecdotal take on the statistics about the self-achievers in the top 1% of the wealthy isn’t scientific and doesn’t neglect the research that real social scientists have done in the inheritance of wealth.

    I’m not really sure how to respond to your “trust me when I tell you this” claims about statistics. I don’t want to be rude or insist that you do more of your narrowly-focused research to find evidence which only conforms to a limited part of your point of view, but your style of argument isn’t particularly persuasive to me.

    You may say the same to me and that I’m drinking liberal Kool Aid, but the people you know and the stories you hear aren’t a reason to think poverty in this country (black or white) isn’t of serious moral concern.

    Yes, liberal politicians (I’m thinking squarely of Moynihan here) have participated nearly as much as conservatives in viewing the poor and minorities as cultural inferiors who are subjects of policy-making and social engineering. But the danger of ignoring and neglecting our commitments to the poor and those who actively face discrimination in employment, education and the marketplace is far more dangerous than the risk of disrespect toward them by opportunistic politicians. The problem in both cases is a moral and intellectual disregard for the poor and the problems and the answer is more concern, not less.

    Yo, Searcher, nice job linking to the Laing book, but your argument is distinctively at odds with Laing’s thought.

    That is all.

  • troll

    There is no such thing as a self-made millionaire…they all depend on the brains and backs of others

    troll

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Lee Slater is absolutely right that race is socially constructed, a biological fiction. That’s why the social reality of racism is even more insidious, because it’s based on false claims of differences in natural ability and intelligence.

    Racial exclusion is the most enduring form of discrimination (economic and otherwise) in this country and the most troubling.

    I’ve written volumes on the Bill Cosby debate, but the reason he’s accepted by white society is because he’s an entertainer on TV and film and wealthy. A younger Bill Cosby had a lot more to say about discrimination against black actors and the ways white viewers tried to pigeon-hole him.

    That is all.

  • MCH

    Mrs. Nalle is part Cherokee.
    How much is “part”?

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    “doesn’t neglect the research that real social scientists have done in the inheritance of wealth.”

    That should read NEGATE.

    That is all.

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Dave, this is patronizing social Darwinism:

    “Most on the left accept the basic theories of Darwin, but they never seem willing to make the next logical step. Some people just aren’t as intelligent, as motivated or as capable as others, but that does not mean they are bad people or seek to be poor. […] if they are willing to work hard, despite their limitations of intellect and birth. Yet the inescapable truth is that not everyone is motivated to do the hard work to overcome the limitations they are born into. For them the society provides menial jobs which are relatively undemanding.”

    You try and distance your position from the a genetic explanation, but your answer to poverty is that people who are “limited by birth and intellect” should work hard even though it’s their nature that makes them poor to begin with. How noble the poor struggling creature who works himself into the lower middle-class must be. That’s the most bizarre take on the Horatio Alger myth I’ve heard in a while.

    That is all.

  • Les Slater

    “Most of the top 1% you’re talking about have earned their way to that status, and when you get to the very, very top of that group – the top 1/10th of 1% who really have enormous wealth, even more are self-made.”

    Self made? Maybe. I knew of Bill gates before Microsoft existed. Years later I had a chance to talk to him. I asked him what role did his wealth play in his relation to Microsoft.

    The first part of his answer was interesting. First, he said, ‘you know that I came from wealth’. I didn’t know. He said that when he was in school he had absolutely no worries about having to find a job after graduation. He had no concern about grades or even graduation. He used the opportunity to study and produce, in an academic environment, what he thought was important.

    He now uses the position of his company to prevent others from competing.

    At one time Microsoft’s monopoly was progressive. It brought order to the technology and the market, where once was much chaos. Today, I would say that their major contribution to the universe is an increase in thermodynamic entropy.

  • Nancy

    Whatever the overall answer will be, it surely doesn’t help things that Jr. is busy taking advantage of the hurricane to force workers to accept bare-bones pay rates from those very wealthy mega-corporations such as Bechtel who have been handed the contracts to clean up & rebuild New Orleans. He claims it’s to save money for the government, but it amounts to the same thing in the end: more money into the banks of the mega-rich, far less into the hands of the actual guys working. Of course Jr. is able to make a big deal about this as if he were actually doing something good & honorable, ignoring that what he’s actually doing is screwing the working people at the very bottom by requiring them to work at slave labor rates, (and while he’s at it, nullifying a minimum wage law he’d have to fight battles in congress to eliminate otherwise, at considerable cost to his “compassionate conservative” image & distinctly detrimental to his b.s. about caring for the poor) while secretly helping his Bush Buddies to actually increase their profit margins hugely at public expense. Does anyone here really think that, not having to pay top dollar to their workers, these multinationals are reeeeeeally going to give the gov’t a price break? Or are they not going to follow their usual modus operandi, charge the gov’t what they normally would, and pocket the difference? Smirk talks about compassion for the poor and working people; well, who the hell does he think are going to be doing this work rebuilding, now at minimal wages – martians? Does he think Steve Bechtel is going to be out there getting his patent leathers & lily-whites dirty doing this actual work; or is it not going to be these very same poor & working people he’s just stripped of their rights to a decent living wage?

    This really IS immoral & unethical, not to mention cowardly and underhanded (all typical Smirk traits, however, so noone is surprised, I’m sure), to gut a minimum wage law using the ‘cover’ of the hurricane damage as an excuse to remove a labor law that has been an offense to all “capitalists” for as long as it has existed, and then some. Indeed, it seems to me Jr. is using Katrina well to effect a number of similar economic & social ‘rollbacks’ which have annoyed if not hampered his various BushBuddies in untrammeled exploitation of their own workers as well as supposedly public resources, under cover of “helping” N.O. to recover from the hurricane, all the while actually raping the workforce & public to the max.

  • Les Slater

    “This really IS immoral & unethical, not to mention cowardly and underhanded (all typical Smirk traits, however, so noone is surprised, I’m sure)”

    Nancy, you personalize this too much. This obscures seeing the essence of the problem.

    This WHOLE thing is bipartisan. Even recognizing the fact that such liberals as Bill ‘end welfare as we know it’ Clinton are, as much scum as the Bush family, does not get to the bottom of this either.

    It is the capitalist system that is in crisis and no reforms or charismatic figures are going to change that fact.

    The problem is the capitalist system itself. It is not in the interest of the majority of us.

  • Nancy

    Well, you’re right on both counts: I’d have more credibility if I didn’t personalize, but seldom can achieve the ‘distance’ required to do so; and I agree, the capitalist way of life is the criminal element/in crisis, in general – altho the theory works, somehow the applications suck.

  • Les Slater

    “…but seldom can achieve the ‘distance’ required to do so…”

    It’s not easy, the whole setup is a trap. The wealthy elite not only own both parties, lock, stock and barrel, but also the media, schools, courts, culture in general. Religion has raised the ‘free market’ as something the Lord has given us. It is really the ‘free market’ that has given us what religion has become.

    All are set up to keep us from thinking, from seeing who are allies and who are enemies.

    Let’s try to be more objective.

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    The philosophical problem with capitalism is that while it encourages hard work and industry out of individuals, it’s also a profoundly unethical system if it is the primary system for ordering human life and societies. You end up with sort of the foundation-less, wimpy Dave Nalle position where you talk vaguely about individuals helping each other out through charity on their off-time from exploiting others for profit.

    I’m not against capitalism and I’m not a Marxist. More importantly, I think Weber’s been proven right about the “iron cage” of capitalism being something we’ll be stuck with in modernity for a good long while.

    But that doesn’t mean there aren’t profound ethical questions about capitalism’s effects in human life. Yes, it raises the standard of living of people in the developing world, but that’s a product of the technology that drives capitalism as much as it is capitalism itself. You can of course make the argument (probably a true one) that capitalism drives technology just as much, but that also comes at the cost of the environment and the exploitation of underpaid workers throughout the world. Marx was right that in modern capitalism, “all that is solid melts into air” and that human life changes so rapidly, but any objective person interested in ethics has to realize there’s often a cost to this as well. Capitalism is fundamentally unjust in so many regards, yet it makes many new lifestyle and consumption choices available to consumers, including the consumption of ideas through something like the World Wide Web, which is becoming monetized into a literal marketplace of ideas. So the irony is that our awareness of movements to make capitalism fairer or resist its uglier side effects are made possible to us by the innovations and technologies of capitalism that allow people to use the tropes of globalization to develop concerns beyond their local, provincial interests. That wasn’t possible in previous generations.

    For those of you right-wing knee-jerk types who are already starting to itch because anyone DARED mention capitalism without a sexual gleam in their eye,
    Jesus had issues with materialism too. But Christian conservatives in this country aren’t much interested with the New Testament philosophy on materialism.

    That is all.

  • Nancy

    Yuh, I always find it interesting that those who claim to be christians invariably gloss over the none-too-sweet views JC rather prominently held about unjust profits, gouging thy neighbor, & The Rich. Guess they’re all going to be in for a rude awakening when they get called to account Upstairs, what?

  • Les Slater

    “Yes, it raises the standard of living of people in the developing world…”

    Does it? Maybe in some sense but it would be hard to make an objective case for that.

    Things like inter-capitalist rivalries such as WW-I and WW-II certainly set things back a bit, didn’t they?

    The destruction of Viet Nam, Korea, Yugoslavia, Iraq to name a few have certainly slowed the rising of civilization. Who’s next?

    The deliberate prevention of allowing the unfettered development of the undeveloped is to be noted too.

    Capitalism has brought progress, but so have previous economic systems.

    Each ran its course and became a brake on further progress. Each had their supporters that used whatever resources they had, always with great brutality, to stop the inevitable.

    They are, and will continue to try. It will get more brutal, but in the long run they have nothing to offer. This too shall pass.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>Dave, notice a trend in the arguments you have? All the things you assert as “fact” are only true as a matter of very narrow interpretation and when they’re challenged against the truth of broader perspective, you always end up only defending them on some very narrow semantic terms.< <

    No, I don't notice that 'trend', Babs. The facts I allude to are all from previous research I've done for articles I've written. You can go look them up for yourself if you like. I'm not going to do additional research or provide references for a lowly comment when I've already done the work elsewhere.

    >>I’ve seen the stats about the white poor before as well (often quoted by liberals), but I’ve also read that black poverty is much more enduring over generations than white poverty is. Black poverty is more systemic, but white poverty is of equal concern.< <

    This is another false assumption. You think that white poverty among the rural poor of the appalachias isn't as enduring as any poverty in the nation? Black poverty only appears enduring because it's part of a gradual pattern of relatively short term emergence from poverty. There were virtually no blacks who were not poor 100 years ago. But they have been rising out of that poverty faster than any other group in the nation, so I don't think you can describe it as a chronic condition, they just started behind. And I do have facts to back this up. Look on the BLS site or look for my article on it in the near future.

    >>I said “bottom 5%” of St. Alban’s alums.< <

    I can't speak to that. The school is so small and there are so few graduates that I doubt any kind of studies have been done on them. It certainly could be true. I know my family was far less wealthy to start with than most of those I attended school with, but then I also know that I make more money through my actual, personal labors than 5% of my particular class, but all of this is pretty irrelevant.

    >>Your wife is part-Cherokee and I’m glad she’s had such a great time of things in this country, but her example doesn’t disprove the example of the economic fortunes of most Native Americans, who have the highest unemployment rates (and the concomitant social problems that come with that) of any ethnic group in the country. < <

    This is entirely a function of the differences between Reservation Indians and those who have become part of the dominant culture. Because there are no reservations in Texas no one here grows up with negative examples of indians or a clearly identifiable group people can point to and be prejudiced against. Indian heritage here is just another element in the giant melting pot, plus as I said before, she's enough Cherokee to claim membership in the tribe, but it's just part of the ethnic mix.

    >>I’m sorry to hear she’s not more informed or in touch with that situation. Meanwhile, we have Mr. Nalle pontificating about how Natives should suck it up and take our representations of them as college mascots while Mrs. Nalle thinks racism doesn’t affect her people.< <

    It doesn't in the case of Texas. Dislike of Indians is regional and more cultural than ethnic. It's a product of the reservation and of keeping the residents isolated from the white society around them, essentially pointing them out for criticism.

    >>School lunch accounting is not the only reason poverty and child hunger rates have gone up so significantly. Again, this is another example of a situation where you use some minor fact that’s only very narrowly true to disconfirm something much broader.< <

    Show me some evidence that there's an actual increase in hunger and poverty. Every study I've seen on the subject uses the school lunch program as the data source.

    >>Similarly, your anecdotal claim about wealthy students at magnet schools, many of which are now tied to neighborhoods in places like Chicago and hence wouldn’t have wealthy students unless they lived in the hood, means very little to the fact that there are definite success stories when states and cities get serious about investing money and talented teachers in inner city schools. There are plenty of magnet schools here and in Austin that fail in their mission, there’s no question, because they too face funding difficulties and some of the same problems that all inner city schools face. But committed educators, not those who are so quick to dismiss city-school funding as a waste of effort and the students in those schools as ineducable due to a “culture of dependence and failure,” know better than to share your cynicism.< <

    Everyone should share my cynicism. You can rarely go wrong with cynicism.

    >>Your state welfare stories are at best anecdotal and I’m glad I can “take your word” for it.< <

    What, you don't have WIC or something like it in your state?

    >>Again, your anecdotal take on the statistics about the self-achievers in the top 1% of the wealthy isn’t scientific and doesn’t neglect the research that real social scientists have done in the inheritance of wealth.< <

    There's wealth and there's wealth. There's a huge difference between being born Paris Hilton and not actually ever having to work and being born in the upper middle class which gives you a good launching point in education and seed money for building a real fortune like Bill Gates or Michael Dell.

    >>You may say the same to me and that I’m drinking liberal Kool Aid, but the people you know and the stories you hear aren’t a reason to think poverty in this country (black or white) isn’t of serious moral concern.< <

    Obviously poverty is a moral concern, but the question is what's the best way to deal with it. Is it better to address poverty by just giving people money, or by helping them raise themselves up out of poverty, which usually takes more than just money and less than nothing but money.

    >>Yes, liberal politicians (I’m thinking squarely of Moynihan here) have participated nearly as much as conservatives in viewing the poor and minorities as cultural inferiors who are subjects of policy-making and social engineering. But the danger of ignoring and neglecting our commitments to the poor and those who actively face discrimination in employment, education and the marketplace is far more dangerous than the risk of disrespect toward them by opportunistic politicians. The problem in both cases is a moral and intellectual disregard for the poor and the problems and the answer is more concern, not less.<<

    Moynihan is not the problem. The problem is the existence of a political party which uses the poor as a power base as a matter of routine. For that to work you have to KEEP the poor in a state of poverty and dependence, so you make them grand promises at the same time as delivering what looks like help but is meant to keep them poor. Welfare is exactly the kind of institution designed to keep the poor grateful but still poor. You give them money, so they like you, but you don’t give them any actual help so they stay poor. Classic Democratic vampiric feeding off of the oppressed class they use as a power base.

    Dave

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>This really IS immoral & unethical, not to mention cowardly and underhanded (all typical Smirk traits, however, so noone is surprised, I’m sure), to gut a minimum wage law using the ‘cover’ of the hurricane damage as an excuse to remove a labor law that has been an offense to all “capitalists” for as long as it has existed, and then some. Indeed, it seems to me Jr. is using Katrina well to effect a number of similar economic & social ‘rollbacks’ which have annoyed if not hampered his various BushBuddies in untrammeled exploitation of their own workers as well as supposedly public resources, under cover of “helping” N.O. to recover from the hurricane, all the while actually raping the workforce & public to the max.<<

    Nancy, I don’t think you understand this temporary lifting of the wage restrictions. The wages we’re talking about are not the federally mandated minimums, but customary minimums insisted on by the government for workers working on their behalf, and they are far higher than the general minimum wage. The idea is that this will allow the hiring of more workers, including local people to do all the work that needs to be done. We’re not talking about paying people less than $5.15 here, we’re talking about paying them less than $9. Admittedly, not a great wage, but high for unskilled grunt labor.

    Dave

  • Nancy

    Crap, Dave: the ONLY reason the Publicans don’t get a chance to treat the poor/oppressed as a power base to feed off of a la the Dems is because they can’t GET any of them to vote for them! If they could sucker enough of them away from the Dems to vote for them, they’d be feeding off them just as avidly. In fact, they manage to do so anyway, since they own most of the businesses that employ the poor, or have influence with the administration & congress, which screws the poor whenever they can.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    I agree with you in general, Nancy – all politicians tend to want to make people vote for them. But philosophically the Republicans are sort of incapable of victimizing the poor in the same way the Democrats do, because they are fundamentally opposed to that kind of policy. What they’d be more likely to be guilty of – and have been in the past – is ordering workers in businesses to vote for a particular candidate. It doesn’t happen much anymore because it’s SO illegal and easily prosecuted, but it is something they were certainly guilty of in the past. Of course, the labor unions do the same thing and get away with it because they’re unions and not bosses.

    Dave

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    How about discouraging voter turnout by blacks and the working poor? I’m not even necessarily implying illegal tactics or intimidation, but the myriad ways in which hard-ball campaigns misinform or mislead people into NOT voting to help their candidates. The GOP has traditionally relied on this tactic more than Democrats have, I think, in modern politics.

    That is all.

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    What research are you talking about, Dave? Your blog articles for this site?

    That is all.

  • Nancy

    Got news for you, Dave: it still goes on. They just have gotten more … subtle … about how the ‘orders’ are phrased. Ask any federal employee. The pressures are there, it’s just they’re a helluva lot harder to prove in a court of law, thanks to the administration’s lawyers and Rove-types. And then there’s the blatant political order-giving ref: elections of the various churches, esp. the conservative ones. Like the one in SC that tried to force out anyone who wasn’t a Republican? I understand Oral, Jerry, & good ol’ Pat have issued voting orders to their followers, too, as has the Catholic church – which is why I support the complete taxation of all religious groups. They’re not apolitical by a long shot.

    Anyway, neither side would abstain from using & abusing anyone they could batten on, if they just can get the opportunity, and philosophically the Pubs are just as capable of screwing the poor as anyone else. They do it every day & have done it in every election. Gotten pretty ingenious about it, too.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Babs, I’ve written several articles on this site on employment, poverty and wages, all with plenty of statistical data and links to the sources.

    Dave

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Nancy, the key difference is that when Republicans encourage people to vote for them by questionable means it doesn’t necessarily depend on their economic status or keeping them in poverty. There’s a big difference between sending a bus to pick up old ladies at a church center and making sure as many people stay poor in the inner city as possible so they’re easy to round up and take to the polls every election.

    Dave

  • Nancy

    Dave, neither side has to do anything to make sure anyone stays poor; they just have to sit back and do nothing, which is what both sides do: they blow lots of hot air, lots of posturing, and do … not a goddamned thing, then blame the other side for it.

    The shame of it is, there ARE enough of those who are poor who are there by their own lack of initiative or repeated wrong choices that making excuses or blaming the victims is viable for both sides, as well. Y’can’t help people who can’t or don’t want to help themselves.

    I have specifically in mind a family of my acquaintance who are the stupidest, (& in the case of the father & son) laziest, most criminally-inclined group I’ve ever met. Only the mother has any redeeming qualities, mainly her penchant for hard work & absolute honesty – but that doesn’t help her, because she’s so functionally illiterate that cleaning is the only job she’s capable of, and she frankly isn’t capable of gaining literacy, either, altho she was nominally kicked thru high school special ed classes.

    That these people reproduced themselves at all is a crime. Specifically that they produced the son is something for which both of them should have been shot, along with the son. They are a living, sterling recommendation for enforced sterilization. With shining examples like these, neither party is ever going to want for excuses as to why the poor are still & will always be with us. And now I understand the son is perpetrating himself. 6 proud generations (at least) of shiftless, cagey but stupid, ineducable, poor (white, BTW) trash dating back to before the Depression.

  • The Searcher

    To whomever remarked that the viewpoint expressed by my post does not agree with the views of R.D. Laing: I’m sure you’re right, I randomly chose a book to link to.

    Judging by some of the comments I’ve seen here, it would appear that several of you might favor:

    1. More government control of market valuation of goods and services
    2. Redistribution of wealth [above and beyond the current level of taxation] to ensure a more homogenous SES among the population
    3. Mandating the same qualitative and quantitative [in dollars] levels of education for all people, assuming that education is the key to success.

    Did any of you see the New Orleans benefit concert before which Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover delivered impassioned speeches?

    One remark of Belafonte’s made me scratch my head. He said that when a society creates beggars, it’s time to re-structure the society.

    Not being a historian, I wonder, has there ever been a society in human history that did not have beggars? If so, perhaps we could follow their model.

    Also I’m curious: has anyone on this list ever experienced life in a commune, and if so, do you believe that such a social structure is workable on a massive scale?

    I strongly suspect that, no matter how equal we might force things to be, some will always be more equal than others, human nature being the rather nasty thing that it is.

  • http://paperfrigate.blogspot.com DrPat

    “randomly chose a book to link to”

    Free ASINs: 0872202836 [On the Genealogy of Morality, Nietsche]; 0072831928 [Morality and the Good Life]; 0130863904 [Meyer’s Security, Economics, and Morality in American Foreign Policy]…

  • Nancy

    I think you’re right, Dr.Pat. The problem is when it gets out of hand so that those on top develop an unshakable steel grip & wealth suction on those beneath them in the economic layers. Fairer taxation would be what most of us would settle for. Reaganomics (trickle-down theory) that Dave Nalle espouses aside (and that has been proven not to work), the rich do NOT pay their fair share, and the corporations not only don’t pay their fair share, they’re sucking it in, in the form of massive corporate welfare courtesy of BushCo., thereby adding insult to injury.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Sorry Nancy, your statements on taxation are just not true. Not only do the rich pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than any other group, but the genuinely poor pay virtually no tax at all.

    I’m open to considering a ‘fair tax’ type proposal, but arguing that the current system is slanted in favor of the rich is just not supported by fact no matter how many times the democrats repeat that claim.

    Dave

  • Shark

    In a serious discussion about a serious issue, Booey kicked some asses (Daaaa-veeeey…) all over the playing field.

    That is all.

    ====

    Wait, no it’s not.

    This is the most despicable and deluded sentence I’ve ever read:

    RedTard: “Poor people do not create wealth, that’s why they’re poor. They live in houses they never built, eat food they never grew, and wear clothes they never sewed.”

    [Shark spits out window in ANY FUCKING DIRECTION and hits extremely poor minority construction worker, extremely poor minority migrant farm worker, and extremely poor minority sweat shop sewing machine operator]

    ======

    I’ll just add that at some point, it will behoove the rich to pay the poor to stay off their front lawns.

    That day is swiftly approaching.

  • http://paperfrigate.blogspot.com DrPat

    I think you’re right, Dr.Pat.

    OK, but my only comment in this thread was an offer of some more-appropos ASINs for the post. Not sure how you get from Nietsche and Meyer to trickle-down economics and the graduated tax system.

  • alethinos59

    Searcher… Good lord now you’re referencing communism? The ISSUE isn’t some idiotic POLITICAL ideology… Everyone knows communism is an abject failure. It always was. But then again so is CAPITALISM as it is currently being practiced.

    GREED IS GOOD is the obvious banner that Corporate America marches under, no matter how it is dressed up these days.

    The issue IS about morality. Not about “economic equality” which is a joke. No one is suggesting that.

    Again, it goes to the reality now of outrageous riches THERE and five miles away bone-crushing poverty. I am not talking the SELF-INFLICTED poverty of laziness. I am talking about the poverty brought on by an economy that allows CORPORATION to have rights that in most cases SUPERSEDE the rights of individuals.

    This is a hydra that cannot be easily overcome…

    I wonder, once the world’s major corporations have run out of Bangladeshs to run off to in a never ending search for (essentially) slave labor, what will the do next? Find a way to repeal the minumum wage laws here in the US? Oh, wait – they’re already doing that!

    I imagine next they’ll insist that CLONING isn’t such a bad idea after all… There’s a ready made work force…

    I always love how the rich, who very often have had EVERYTHING handed to them keep telling the poor that if they REALLY wanted to get out of that pit they’d work, “just a little bit harder.”

    Alethinos

  • Voltairean

    Searcher,

    Perhaps you should search out an education. With offense, this post has so many errors, unsubstantiated claims, circular reasoning, contradictory reasoning and use of underhanded techniques (use of straw man and false analogies) that it does not warrant a response to the subject matter.

    For example let’s look at one short paragraph:

    It just isn’t so, because we know that these social problems are not caused by low socioeconomic status, though they are correlated with it. But this proves that even an intelligent, highly educated person can be misguided; as is the well-meaning nature filmographer who, feeling sorry for the injured animal about to be eaten, ties a brick to the lioness’ hind leg to even the playing field.

    1. You claim as fact that “these social problems” are not caused by socio economic status but offer no supporting evidence. You do not even state what social problems you are writing about.

    2. Who is “we” and how do we know this to be the case?

    3. What is the correlation?

    4. If there is a correlation, doesn’t that mean that there is some cause and affect going on? Isn’t that the definition of a correlation? And if so, why doesn’t this negate your entire thesis?

    5. How is this proof that a highly educated person can be misguided? I think it is safe to assume that we will never have to worry about this with you.

    6. What is your definition of misguided? Having a different set of values than you?

    7. Your lioness analogy is similarly flawed, however, extremely revealing.

    It’s very interesting that the poor or socioeconomic underclass you write about is represented by an injured animal. This is as revealing as Barbara Bush speaking about hurricane victims. And is really indicative of the entire post which is merely trying to couch your racist beliefs in non sensical reasoning.

    Similarly, the rich white folk (generalizing) are the mighty lioness.

    Further, you look at social reforms (the brick) as being placed on the lioness. It is holding you back. So the lioness who has everything is being held back by the hurt animal who has nothing.

    And this is just one tiny paragraph. Every paragraph is just as bad. You even go so far as to profess knowledge of not only Robert Reich’s inner beliefs but of all leftists. That is quite impressive. Hey, what am i thinking now? And now? Okay, wait, and now?

    Finally your entire premise is also flawed because you fail to understand the definition of morality and because of your fundamental misunderstanding of the functions of government.

    You provide one example of how you believe the free market should determine wages and employment opportunities and believe this to be a microcosm of what the relationship should be between government and the people. People, like Robert Reich, are misguided for believing otherwise.

    This is beyond naive. Do you think that 5 year old children should work 20 hours days every day of the week for a nickle a day in a coal mine without health insurance? I’m guessing not. Thus, there must be a role for government. Thus, without clarification, your example and hyposthesis are already negated.

    Hey, sorry to dissappoint, but this was almost as poorly reasoned as it was written.

    Prejudice, friend, govern the vulgar crowd – voltaire

  • troll

    *If there is a correlation, doesn’t that mean that there is some cause and affect going on? Isn’t that the definition of a correlation?*

    for the record – the answer here is no

    troll

  • The Searcher

    To Alethinos:

    I do not disagree with what you have said.

    To Voltairean:

    1. The social problems referred to at the beginning of paragraph 7 are mentioned at the end of paragraph 6. Perhaps you should seek out an occulist while I’m searching for an education. As for the evidence,

    2. “We” = the “royal we”, since I’m a racist-elitist white person and think I’m royalty. One main point of my post was that even if you equalized SES among the entire population, you would still have social problems (see #1) and you would still have economic inequality.

    3. A correlation: Joe is poor. Joe is a high school drop out.

    4. With offense, “Joe is poor because he is a high school drop out” is to represent correlation as causation. With offense, after you pass your critical thinking class this semester, you might try some “experimental methods of social sciences” courses.

    5. If a highly-educated person confuses correlation with causation, I’d say that person could be misguided.

    6. See #5

    7. Populist politicians have already set the precedent for representing the poor as hapless, injured animals with rich white people being the victimizing predator. I use the analogy not to criticize social reforms in general, as you have implied, but to criticize the type of government involvement mentioned in paragraph #4, which deals more with market valuation. Great straw man, by the way.

    I suspect that you accused me of being racist because you yourself associate poverty with race. Nowhere in my post did I mention race.

    I think I’ve wasted enough of my time responding to you :)

  • Jody

    I’ve lived in middle of Wisconsin which considered the birth place of the republican party. It astounded me that the republican party didn’t know that there are people in the area that voted for them and are on welfare.Republicans were taking money away from the people that voted for them. These are white people in the who voted for him are near proverty level. Most do not have health insurance. Most are farmers who accept welfare for fallow land. Boys join the military as they can not afford college. Many do not do it because they are patrotic. Private schools are not in rurals areas but these people voted for a party that believe in vouchers. Wisconsin has great public schools that are paid for by tax dollars. Girls do not have much and many head to the Twin Cities in Minnesota or Milwaukee. Some become prositutes in the cities and live in proverty. Still the area will vote Republican. It has nothing to do getting out of proverty. But they do depend on the county and state and feds to get by. Some of it had to go with the gun issue. The Possie Comatada are big in the area. Some of it has to do with religion even though most of the girls there do get abortions in the cities and then go back home. But most has to do with this is the way their parents voted. Confusing huh?

  • The Searcher

    And your point, as it relates to this discussion, is…?

  • http://paperfrigate.blogspot.com DrPat

    Jody wanted the chance to misspell posse commitatus

    Isn’t that point enough?

  • Jody

    Sorry to misspell but isn’t the conversation been that liberals help to keep the poor poor? I wanted to point out that the Right uses the poor just as much. Sorry not to make that clear. Central Wisconsin is an example of people who are on welfare and ingrained in proverty are used by the Right. Many do not see that farmers are collecting welfare for fallowed land as welfare. Frito Lay owns acres of land and collect federal welfare in Wisconsin. The Right could care less that school vouchers for private schools would mean more proverty to the many kids in rural areas. To leave the area is the only way to get ahead. The highest paid jobs with health benefits are government jobs in counties. The Republican businesses in the area do not pay the wages needed to get out of proverty as they know that people will accept lower wages with no healthcare as they can not leave or nor want to leave as that is where the family is or they want to be in the country. The Right uses their views on Guns and Religion to get the people to vote their way. Meanwhile the poor stay in proverty.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>I’ve lived in middle of Wisconsin which considered the birth place of the republican party. It astounded me that the republican party didn’t know that there are people in the area that voted for them and are on welfare.Republicans were taking money away from the people that voted for them. These are white people in the who voted for him are near proverty level.< <

    This is because the Republican party doesn't cultivate poverty as a motivator for loyalty, unlike the Democratic party. The Democrats assure loyalty by telling people that they are poor so they should vote for the Democrats to make sure they get a handout. The Republicans tell people that they don't need to be poor and the Republicans will support their efforts to raise themselves up out of poverty. A key difference between the parties.

    >> Most do not have health insurance. Most are farmers who accept welfare for fallow land. Boys join the military as they can not afford college. Many do not do it because they are patrotic. Private schools are not in rurals areas but these people voted for a party that believe in vouchers. <<

    Which certainly won’t do them any harm. What’s your point?

    Dave

  • Les Slater

    “The Republican businesses in the area do not pay the wages needed to get out of proverty as they know that people will accept lower wages with no healthcare as they can not leave or nor want to leave…”

    Republican businesses? Are there no Democratic businesses? Would they, or do they treat their workers any different?

  • Rosie Powell

    Why is it that the conservatives always have to blame the liberals for what is wrong with the country? And why is it that the liberals always have to blame the conservatives?

    I am becoming weary of this political non-partisanship. It’s impact upon the American political scene and the American public is becoming increasingly negative. Instead of coming together to occasionally find a solution to some of this country’s problems, both the liberals and conservatives are too busy serving their political agenda by pointing fingers at the others . . . and ignoring the American people.

  • http://kl7aj.com Eric P. Nichols

    I remember someone putting it like this: “I’ve never been offered a job by a poor person.”

    The fact is, the only time you have absolute uniformity is in a state of total entropy.

    Eric