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It takes a humor site to speak the truth

If it is said by an filthy rich stock market jerk screaming on the trading floor, it makes the news. If it is said by a pompous thug with a cigar in his mouth on talk radio, it gets play. But those kinds of people all lie to serve their greedy self-interest; only a comedian can rip through the self-serving absurdity and point out the insanity. So here’s Cracked.com dismantling 6 excuses the obscenely rich use to justify inequity. It’s good. Here’s a sample:

So when I say “We’re all in this together,” I’m not stating a philosophy. I’m stating a fact about the way human life works. No, you never asked for anything to be handed to you. You didn’t have to, because billions of humans who lived and died before you had already created a lavish support system where the streets are all but paved with gold. Everyone reading this — all of us living in a society advanced enough to have Internet access — was born one inch away from the finish line, plopped here at birth, by other people.

So when somebody else asks for your help, in the form of charity or taxes, or because they need you to help them move a refrigerator, you can cite all sorts of reasons for not helping (“I think you’re lying about needing help” or “I don’t care” or “I’m too tied up with my own problems”), but the one thing you can’t say is, “Why should you need help? I’ve never gotten help!” Not unless you’re either shamefully oblivious, or a lying asshole.

Every word is truth.

Comments

  1. anuran says

    The Court Jester can tell the King truths that would get anyone else’s head chopped off.

  2. says

    …but the one thing you can’t say is, “Why should you need help? I’ve never gotten help!” Not unless you’re either shamefully oblivious, or a lying asshole.

    And that is exactly the summary of all the libertarian trolls I’ve ever witnessed.

  3. peterh says

    @#1:

    Precisely. That was the Court Fool’s function and justification. Terence said, “I put on a mask in order to show you reality.” He meant the philosophical reality within well-written drama, but it still applies. Good comedians and satirists are desperately needed in our culture.

  4. Lycanthrope says

    I read that one yesterday. Spot on. I like the tall person analogy: we’re not asking you to get things from the high shelf to try to cut you down to our size somehow; we’re asking because you’re literally the only person who can do it.

  5. Brownian says

    There are three columnists at Cracked I never miss: David Wong, John Cheese, and Christina H. And their biology lists are pretty cool, too.

    But some readers may be disappointed to note that the site is moving in FtB’s direction: just a while ago, in response to readers’ comments on an article about comic book sexism, Luke McKinney wrote “The 8 Stupidest Defenses Against Accusations of Sexism”.

    Incidentally, I wouldn’t be one of those disappointed readers.

  6. says

    The Micheal Jordan analogy would make an excellent teaching tool for the concept of privilege, which some people seem to have much trouble understanding:

    You can reply that if some other field paid more, you’d have just simply switched to it and been equally successful, due to your smarts and determination. You know, like how the smart and determined Michael Jordan was equally successful as a basketball player (six titles, $70 million a year) and baseball player (batted .202 in the minors) and team owner (his Charlotte Bobcats are currently 4-28).

    Hmm … wait a second. Man, it’s almost like Michael’s hard work and determination wouldn’t have made him rich if he hadn’t happened to have been born in the one place and one time in human history where a man could get rich throwing a rubber ball through a small metal hoop.

    Of course if someone does not want to understand privilege then all bets are off.

  7. psocoptera says

    “Now fight off these Nazis with your bootstraps” Awesome. I don’t care if it Godwined the article. This would have been a great conversation starter for my WWII vet, Republican Grandfather.

  8. FilthyHuman says

    Strange time we live in, where “news” groups provide the comedy, and comedy groups provide the news and relevant commentaries.

  9. FilthyHuman says

    @Brownian

    Indeed. Linked from the article, here’s Craig T. Nelson talking to Glenn Beck about about being completely self-sufficient while on welfare and food stamps.

    This is my thought process.
    I’m on food-stamp for a while…
    Okay…
    Anyone helped me out?
    Um… yes?
    No.
    … DOES NOT COMPUTE!

  10. FilthyHuman says

    @Ing

    “Go fuck yourself” is a physical impossibility

    I’m pretty sure it is possible to fuck one-self, at least oral version.

  11. LightningRose says

    As a kid, Cracked Magazine always seemed to be a cheap knock-off of MAD, But I really enjoy cracked.com

  12. says

    I thought that this excerpt was the least convincing part of the article–which on the whole was quite good. But here it suggests that just about anybody really could become rich, due to the legacy of past progress, when that’s hardly the case. It’s true that we all benefit from past progress, but because of competition and also privilege from the past, by no means is everyone so close to success if they just “worked hard” or whatever other fantasy the rich have about why they succeeded.

    And why is the author letting alone the fact that most of the 1% did not make their own way without having great advantages over the rest of us? Sure, especially in new technologies, not all were particularly privileged, Steve Jobs (in many ways one to take from others, including from Wozniak) being a poster boy for the exceptions. Yet most of the 1% were born upper middle class or above. They have enormous advantages over the rest.

    No, most didn’t ask for handouts because they didn’t need to ask. They were born to handouts. New technologies just gave a few chances to some who weren’t, they certainly didn’t change the usual pattern at all.

    Glen Davidson

  13. Sastra says

    Good article.

    I always figured success was primarily due to 2 major factors:

    1.) Luck.
    2.) Not deliberately doing anything stupid enough to really fuck things up.

    Of course, there’s probably a lot of luck involved in that second one.

  14. Brownian says

    Of course, there’s probably a lot of luck involved in that second one.

    Undoubtedly. Where the bar for how stupid something you did has to be to really fuck things up is set is very dependent on number one. Consider the slack that drug users are cut if they happen to be athletes, politicians, or leaders of the National Association of Evangelicals.

  15. juice says

    “Go fuck yourself” is a physical impossibility

    Oh, there are pictures. Rule 34.

  16. Brownian says

    I’m pretty sure it is possible to fuck one-self, at least oral version.

    Oh, there are pictures. Rule 34.

    Exactly. Remember how Josh Saviano from The Wonder Years had some ribs taken out so he could do that very thing and then became Marilyn Manson?

  17. pacal says

    “Lift yourself up by your bootstraps” is a physical impossibility.

    “Go fuck yourself” is a physical impossibility

    I get the point but I’ve seen video; some people can indeed fuck themselves.

  18. Pinkamena, Panic Pony says

    khops @#18: Shall I point out your mistake or wait for you to figure it out?

  19. FlickingYourSwitch says

    It’s so obvious when you think about it. No one is entirely selfmade, and the more advanced and wealthy your society is, the more assistance do you have from stuff that was paid for and arranged by citizens before you arrived. That’s why we pay taxes, so everyone can have the opportunity to get an education, and so everyone will have access to healthcare, and so everyone will have welfare safety nets if needed, so that everyone can use the infrastructure, roads, be protected by the firemen, policemen and the military.

  20. khops says

    Pinkamena, Panic Pony @23 – might as well just tell me. broke a bone the other day and am on copious amounts of painkillers. interacting with humanity is a struggle.

  21. unclefrogy says

    the paragraph just previous to the one quoted made me laugh out loud!

    <>>

    the is a great novel by frank Norris that was made into a radio drama I heard once called Mcteague where the main character ends the story dieing handcuffed to a corpse in death valley with his gold.
    the Rich and there self importance remind me of that scene.

    the 1% just do not seem to understand history or society very well. Hell they do not even understand football, without the linemen the back field would not likely even survive to the end of the game.

    the one exception would be Warren Buffet.

    uncle frogy

  22. unclefrogy says

    what happened to the quote?

    here it is

    In other words, you don’t “own” shit. The entire concept of owning anything, be it a hunk of land or a house or a fucking sandwich, exists purely because other people pay other armed men to protect it. Without society, all of your brave, individual talents and efforts won’t buy you a bucket of farts.

    uncle frogy

  23. Azkyroth says

    I thought that this excerpt was the least convincing part of the article–which on the whole was quite good. But here it suggests that just about anybody really could become rich, due to the legacy of past progress, when that’s hardly the case. It’s true that we all benefit from past progress, but because of competition and also privilege from the past, by no means is everyone so close to success if they just “worked hard” or whatever other fantasy the rich have about why they succeeded.

    No, what it’s saying is that because of past progress, our baseline for measuring how “fortunate” we are is, at least in the first world, unbelievably high, and no one whose fortune is being measured “earned” the initial height of that baseline. It came from the efforts and sacrifices of others.

  24. cham826 says

    Gotta love this:

    You’re intentionally conflating “anyone can have the moonshine” with “everyone can have it.” And you are doing it because you’re hoping that we will all be too busy fighting each other to ask why there was only one jar.

  25. Brownian says

    Cham, who are you talking to?

    cham826 is quoting a favoured bit from the article.

  26. doktorzoom says

    See also Jim Hightower, who said of George HW Bush, “He was born on third base and thought he hit a triple.”

    (Cursory searching suggests that Hightower may have found rather than originated the phrase; he definitely popularized it, with the help of fellow Texan Molly Ivins)

  27. says

    No, what it’s saying is that because of past progress, our baseline for measuring how “fortunate” we are is, at least in the first world, unbelievably high, and no one whose fortune is being measured “earned” the initial height of that baseline. It came from the efforts and sacrifices of others.

    I know that’s its presumed “point,” but it’s essentially meaningless as such. You’re not going to “pay back” the dead, so any “share the wealth” idea isn’t exactly going to address that aspect. It would be much better to address the fact that we all make up this society together, that it is a collective effort, hence the idea that “I earned this myself” hardly counts for much, although it counts for something (hardly anyone wants to change society so that being successful isn’t of benefit to the one who succeeds, so that point is also more or less moot in this context).

    Besides, as I noted, it allows that maybe these people really did better than the rest, or possibly even that they were lucky, when in fact the playing field was never even, not even close.

    I said that it suggests what I said, and it most certainly did to me, and I’m sure it would to many others. I don’t care that his lame “point” was otherwise intended, he most certainly didn’t conclude his article well, despite its being an pretty good article otherwise.

    Glen Davidson

  28. says

    Been following Wong’s stuff ever since his previous site, Pointless Waste of Time. I actually liked the longer essays he and John did there better, but he’s done a good work at Cracked with the list-based humor.

  29. autumn says

    I have a friend who simply refuses to believe this. He’s pretty successful due to a lot of very hard work, but refuses to believe that luck or chance had anything to do with it. He actually stated that anyone in the US who worked hard could earn six figures per year. He also doesn’t believe in a progressive tax system! Dude, I know it’s terribly common in the US to fail to understand, but diminshing rate of marginal utility is in the first week of the first econ. class.

  30. autumn says

    Also, damn, guess I’m reading Cracked for the next few hours. nearly as bad as TV tropes in the “Well, I’m gonna look at just one more” category.

  31. MichaelE says

    Isn’t some of this a fancy way or saying “if everyone is special, noone is”?

    Which is true, to be sure. We can’t all be rich, because if we were, noone would be.

  32. says

    @khops in #18: they’re all over the comment section of the Cracked article already. Only read if you have a strong stomach. I couldn’t take reading it for very long.

  33. says

    autumn wrote: “I have a friend who simply refuses to believe this. He’s pretty successful due to a lot of very hard work, but refuses to believe that luck or chance had anything to do with it. He actually stated that anyone in the US who worked hard could earn six figures per year. He also doesn’t believe in a progressive tax system!

    People make their own luck. Good luck is more likely if a person works very hard.

    Six figures could be as little as $100,000 a year. Virtually anyone can achieve this with very hard work over a long period of time. A person just has to choose the right profession, and then work hard at it.

    An example is myself. I got up to only $60,000 a year but I was very lazy about it. Three times in the middle of my career I took one year vacations, blowing all my savings and falling behind everyone else. Without those vacations and with working (and studying) much harder, $100,000 a year would have been no problem. And I came from a lower middle class family and I had only two years of college. I was a consultant. I designed and coded custom made computer software for large corporations. If I didn’t retire at age 49 I might have been able to earn $100,000 despite my laziness. (Got wiped out in the stock market so I’m working again).

    autumn’s friend doesn’t believe in a progressive tax system. Perhaps after working so hard he doesn’t think he should be punished for it.

  34. Gen Fury, Still Desolate and Deviant #1 says

    humanape

    Did you even read the original article? Or even the POST?

  35. says

    humanape:

    Six figures could be as little as $100,000 a year. Virtually anyone can achieve this with very hard work over a long period of time. A person just has to choose the right profession, and then work hard at it.

    *snortle*

    You really are oblivious, aren’t you?

    Sure, many people can earn a lot of money by working hard at it. But were you not a privileged douche, or had you bothered to read the article, you’d also realize that there are a limited number of jobs that pay that well. So it doesn’t matter if you have 100 people willing to work long hours, if there’s only 1 job that pays $100k. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

    autumn’s friend doesn’t believe in a progressive tax system. Perhaps after working so hard he doesn’t think he should be punished for it.

    Again, had you bothered to read and comprehend the article…

    That’s not punishment, Sweet Pea. That’s paying back into a system that provided the infrastructure in which they could have a job that pays a lot of money. An infrastructure that wouldn’t exist without folks paying taxes. And since the wealthy benefit more from the system, it seems they should pay more.

    It’s what we call fairness. But then, people who are obsessed with wealth often aren’t too concerned with fairness.

  36. potira says

    @ 36 horace

    Wow. What a bad article! I guess his “always go for the middle ground” approach in that article ended up kinda lacking…

  37. says

    Which is true, to be sure. We can’t all be rich, because if we were, noone would be.

    Bullshit. Everyone in America is rich compared to everyone else 100 years ago.

    I do not need to have people I can look down upon to make me feel good. I want everyone to be at least as well off as me. That’s like saying “Icecream doesn’t provide me happiness unless someone else doesn’t have icecream”

  38. says

    @humanape:

    People make their own luck. Good luck is more likely if a person works very hard.

    And yet your story shows this isn’t true. You had the good fortune to grow up at the right time to have your peak years during the golden age of IT consultancy, when demand of IT expertise grew faster than its supply. That same market looks quite differently today, with a much more saturated market, and a lack of demand, with both government projects and private IT investments put on hold due to the recession. The market is especially tough for starters and juniors right now. If you are indeed working in IT again, I don’t understand how you can be unaware of this. And if you are indeed aware of this, how you can claim with a straight face that “people make their own luck”, and “Virtually anyone can achieve [$100,000 a year]”?

  39. MichaelE says

    @46

    You misunderstand me, Ing, I did not mean to say that people are not more well off today than a hundred years ago. That much is obvious. Nor did I in anyway suggest that you need someone to look down upon to be happy.

    To better illustrate what I meant. Consider the hypothetical situation where everyone earns $100.000 anually (arbitrary number, I know, but for the sake of argument). That would certainly create a higher level of inflation. Thus raising the standard for what it means to be rich. If everyone has millions of whatever currency you use, that currency then becomes less valuable with higher prices, salaries, expenses, etc.

    That’s all I meant. And yes, we should all want everyone to be well off, economically, health-wise, education-wise and so on. And as the decent people we are, that’s the least we can wish for our fellow citizens on this fair world.

  40. says

    Ah I see. Currency =/= wealth. You can actually have the overall wealth of a society go up rather than it remaining a strict zero sum gain. It is better for the economy that many people have disposible income rather than it be consolidated. So everyone having money to spare would be what we would hope for. High spending to drive industry high consumer confidence etc. Better than all the coin stagnating in the vaults of a few

  41. MichaelE says

    I think, I’m not sure, but I think that I’m not explaining myself very well…

    Um, gold! if gold could be found anywhere, anytime it’d basically be worthless aside from whatever utilitarian purpose it might serve, yes?

    But yeah, I do think we would all be better off if everyone had “disposable” wealth, earned through work of course.

    Are some people going to be “filthy rich”? Sure, why not? I’m fine with that, I’m even fine with it not being me (though I’m enough of a capitalistic pig to think that there’s no such thing as me having too much money. I’m a little crazy like that). It’s, I think, unavoidable. There will always be those who have more than others. We should try to work towards a society where everyone, at the very least, can have a comfortable and secure life where they can actually “live” and not just “survive”

    Or something like that, yeah…

  42. MichaelE says

    Yeah, a while ago. I’ll readily admit that my short-term memory is not as good as I would like it to be. I’ll go read it again when I have time.

  43. says

    @MichaelE:

    Are some people going to be “filthy rich”? Sure, why not? I’m fine with that…

    Are you sure you’re fine with that? No matter how large the difference in wealth, no matter how high the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few? In a world where money buys influence, or money is power?

  44. KG says

    blockquote>Got wiped out in the stock market – humanape

    Oh, good! Always nice to see a real arsehole come unstuck!

  45. K E Decilon says

    Somewhere I heard this idea about why there is nothing wrong with a progressive tax system. It incorporates a lot of the ideas expressed in the article, in just one sentence.

    “Those that get to go to the party should be asked to help pay for the party”

    In the global economy being hammered together by the 1%, the party is being paid for by those that only attend the party to serve food and drinks, and clean up after the party.

    The PIGS are being asked to clean up the party in the Eurozone, for instance.

  46. horace says

    @45 Potira,

    I would differ, I thought that his views on Christians and atheists are the best account of the accomadationist world view that I have read.

  47. says

    K E Decilon,

    The PIGS are being asked to clean up the party in the Eurozone, for instance.

    Germany also profited a lot by selling to the PIGS. It also kept its wages low, making it hard for the PIGS economies to compete.
    The French have been pointing to how they have relied more on domestic consumption. I think I’m with the French on this one..

  48. says

    Are you sure you’re fine with that? No matter how large the difference in wealth, no matter how high the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few? In a world where money buys influence, or money is power?

    Seriously. In the Idiot’s View of Economics if the problem with he economy is ‘People aren’t spending/buying!’ and you have a huge class of people lamenting all they would like to or NEED to spend/buy but lack the funds, and another smaller class that has most of the money and is saving most of it…It’s sort of a no brainer where the problem lies. Yet assholes like above are asking the people who are already struggling to work harder.

    If you’re a plumber which would you rather have in your neighborhood? 100 thousand dollar houses or one hundred thousand dollar house?