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Jun 29 2012

Depressing stories about income inequity

Jon Ronson has an interesting take on American economic disparities: He interviews 6 people, each one with 5 times the income of the previous one, going from an immigrant dishwasher to a billionaire.

Each story is worth reading, but the overall take is bizarre: all the people at the bottom of the ladder rationalize their position, saying that they wouldn’t want the worries of the next person up, while pitying the one below them. Except the guy at the top: he’s just angry at all those slackers below him. You can see how the system maintains itself, and why nobody is getting outraged at the tax disparities in this country.

I also learned that Jon Ronson, who’s open about his income, makes more money than I do. A lot more. Next time I meet him, I’m going to have to break the pattern and rage furiously at him and demand that he give me some of his cash. IT ISN’T FAIR, you rich bastard! It’s just not fair!

51 comments

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  1. 1
    The Dancing Monk

    “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”
    ― John Steinbeck

  2. 2
    joachim

    Professor Myers, isn’t your salary paid by the taxpayers?

    And how much of your income to you contibute voluntarily to the less fortunate?

  3. 3
    Ingdigo Jump

    Professor Myers, isn’t your salary paid by the taxpayers?

    Irrelevant but telling.

  4. 4
    Blondin

    Professor Myers, isn’t your salary paid by the taxpayers?

    Don’t the students pay tuition to attend UMM?

  5. 5
    Ingdigo Jump

    Professor Myers, isn’t your salary paid by the taxpayers?

    Speaking of that, what the fuck are you doing using a infrastructure maintained by tax dollars!? You hypocritical fuck! Get off the net freeloader.

  6. 6
    PZ Myers

    Only a small part of my salary is paid by the taxpayers, you fucking moron. The educational system in this country is struggling as the states invest less and less in education — more than half the cost of educating a college student is now paid by the students, who get to graduate with huge debts.

    Also, it doesn’t matter whether taxpayers or students pay for my salary in this analysis: I do work of some value to society, and I am not overpaid — we at UMM are a bit below the median on salaries, and college professors as a class are paid relatively little relative to the investment in training it requires to get the job.

    So, joachim, I’ve already determined that you’re a flaming stupid asshole, and probably one of those idiotic libertarians. Go somewhere else.

  7. 7
    richardelguru

    Years ago there was this sketch with Cleese, Barker and Corbett.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Class_sketch

  8. 8
    kassad

    The situation is weird in the US right now. Conservatives can’t shut up about “going back to what make america great” AND railing against people who take offense at the income inequality (in which the US scores as well as many third-world country). But in the 1950s, the head of a company earned in average 14 times what his (there were all men, let’s be honest) lowest paid employees. Now, the average difference is 400 times.
    Moreover, it’s top-executive that created a lot of the social system in the US. They understand the simple rule that happier people and employee was better for buisness.
    It was a time were most exectives wouldn’t not have dreamed about taking a raise when their company laid off people. They would have been despised by others entrepreneurs. Having well-paid employee was a symbol of your success.
    [There was of course exeptions and a lot of issues in those times, socially particularly, but by and large this is a fair description of a change in mentalities at the top level of society]

    ————————————————————————————————————–
    Eisenhower once said that nobody should mess with social security and labor laws:

    Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid. [Emphasis mine]

    The second part of the last phrase is still true, but the first not so much, sadly for the U.S.

  9. 9
    echidna

    The entire military has their salary paid by taxpayers. Every congressman, every senator, not even mentioning subsidies to all sorts of businesses. Is there something tainted about taxpayer money, Blondin the troll?

  10. 10
    PZ Myers

    That comment was so stupid that I had to look up the author: yeah, he’s posted here before, he’s a thick-skulled religious apologist, and then there’s this.

    You’re on notice, joachim.

  11. 11
    ImaginesABeach

    My salary is entirely paid by the taxpayers of my state. So what?

  12. 12
    lewin

    There’s a lot of social psychology research on this topic (John Jost at NYU for example). People, especially disadvantaged people, strongly believe in compensatory stereotypes that try to “even out” economic differences by attributing other traits to the disadvantaged/advantaged group. e.g., “Poor but happy” or “rich but dishonest”. Endorsing these stereotypes–which are quite untrue–maintains the belief that the system is legitimate.

  13. 13
    echidna

    Sorry, sorry, Joachim, not Blondin.

  14. 14
    kassad

    The situation is weird in the US right now. Conservatives can’t shut up about “going back to what make america great” AND railing against people who take offense at the income inequality (in which the US is as high as in many third-world country). But in the 1950s, the head of a company earned in average 14 times what his (there were all men, let’s be honest) lowest paid employees made. Now, the average difference is 400 times.

    Multiple fails…
    ——————————————————————————————————-
    Jo-jo up there is perfectly right. When a country start to pay its professors with tax-payers dollars, it is clearly in a downward spiral toward a crypto-socialo-marxisto-hypocritico-fascisto-leninist hellscape. The horror.

  15. 15
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    I ws going to say that I ♥ Jon Ronson, then I came across this:

    Nick has just been holidaying in Cabo.

    *eye twitch!*

    It’s an interesting article. I think it quite clearly shows how the “American dream” of working hard and becoming rich really poisons the discourse at all levels, from bottom to top.

  16. 16
    Blueaussi

    I work for the state, so I’m paid by the taxpayers. Of course, I *am* a taxpayer, so I guess I’m sorta self-employed.

  17. 17
    =8)-DX

    When talking about income, taxes and the economy (CZ here), especially in arguments with libertarians and conservatives, I usually just say:

    “I make a good salary. OK so about 40% of it goes to the state in taxes and insurance, but I’m fine with that. I’m willing to pay for the health and survival of the less well off, for pensions and maternity leave because I wouldn’t want to be in these people’s shoes without a helping hand, I wouldn’t want to be sick without being able to go to the doctor, wouldn’t want to have children and be unable to properly feed and clothe them, wouldn’t want to hit the pavement hard if I lost my job.”

    Understanding the how and why of social safety nets and the utility of common tax-paid projects should be basic education.

  18. 18
    ButchKitties

    But in the 1950s, the head of a company earned in average 14 times what his (there were all men, let’s be honest) lowest paid employees. Now, the average difference is 400 times.

    Sometimes I wonder if we shouldn’t supplement the minimum wage with a maximum CEO pay ratio. Your lowest paid worker must get $7.25/hr or at least 1/50 of the CEO’s pay, whichever is higher.

  19. 19
    Matt Penfold

    Here in the UK there are plans to make shareholder votes on executive pay legally binding(*). Needless to say many of the executives who would be affected are not happy about.

    There have been several shareholder revolts this year, and a number of CEOs have been forced to resign when the shareholders decided they were not worth the money they had awarded themselves.

    *. For someone very odd reason I cannot even begin to understand, the people who own the company do not, at the moment, have any legal authority to decide how much to pay those who run the company.

  20. 20
    csmiller

    Huxley, in retrospect, had it scarcely correct.

    “Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfully glad I’m a Beta, because I don’t work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able to read or write. Besides they wear black, which is such a beastly colour. I’m so glad I’m a Beta.”

  21. 21
    Sean

    It really is fascinating to observe the poor gazing up at those above them and then proceeding to either upbraid themselves, or, invariably, those even poorer than themselves. Neoliberalism; monetarism; falling wages covered by unprecedented borrowing: these are all bewildering concepts to the saloon bar bore who identifies indigent single mothers as the reason for his failure. As ever, this passage from Slaugtherhouse Five is a touchstone:

    America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kim Hubbard, ‘It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but might as well be.’ It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: ‘If you’re so smart, why ain’t You rich? ‘ There will also be an American flag no larger than a child’s hand-glued to a lollipop stick and, flying from the cash register.

    Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue, the monograph went on. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say, Napoleonic times.

    Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.

    The poor do not love one another because they do not love themselves. This is why the poor like the idea of taxing the rich less than we would think. This is why a man here in England immolating himself outside a welfare office will likely be welcomed – by people only one bounced pay cheque from joining him – as being evidence that the British government are finally eliminating the undeserving poor.

  22. 22
    Heliantus

    Joachim

    Professor Myers, isn’t your salary paid by the taxpayers?

    And this is relevant to salary inequity how?

    PZ Myers

    we at UMM are a bit below the median on salaries, and college professors as a class are paid relatively little relative to the investment in training it requires to get the job.

    True enough, and it’s not just at UMM, or college professors.

    I found out recently that as a (former) post-doc in a university in Canada, I was paid about two-third of what someone of my level could expect if working in the private industry. And the health insurance would be better in the private sector.
    Worse, if I was working as a assistant professor back in my country, France, I would be paid only half of my current salary as post-doc, which is a lower position than teacher. The health package would be better (some level of dental, eyeglasses included; oh, and retirement deposits) and as civil servant, there is the job security. Not sure if these benefits make it for the difference in wages.
    Not sure also if I should complain: after all, either way I’m making enough to live without much worry, and I’m debt-free. Things may be different if I wanted a family, a car and a house of my own. Or if I was sick. I know there are plenty of people who have to live with less money than me. So yeah, I’m privileged (especially the non-debt part). I just have high doubts that my privileges are the ones bringing down the economy.

    So frankly Joachim, putting up taxpayer-paid positions as privileged when discussing salary inequity will require a few more arguments.

  23. 23
    rickschauer

    Joachim,

    Think about this, asshat, Jamie “Bailout” Dimon’s salary is extorted paid by da taxpayer, too. Fool!

  24. 24
    kassad

    This is why a man here in England immolating himself outside a welfare office will likely be welcomed – by people only one bounced pay cheque from joining him – as being evidence that the British government are finally eliminating the undeserving poor.

    That’s the old notion that the reason you are not doing well is the fault of the one doing even worse. The worse thing maybe not be that the poor hate themsleves, but the fact that they hate other poor people. That’s why the red states are the poorest, the heartland have the most people on food-stamps, and yet they cheer everytime a Republican rants against the “leeches” who abuse the system (probably a black single mother on governement payroll).

  25. 25
    jimmauch

    I can’t understand why you people are so hard on the billionares. You can only imagine the economic and lifestyle sacrefices the the billionare has to endure because of those slackers. I can’t wait to tell the the guy that cleans our offices that he too can succeed if he just goes out and gets still another full time job. He can pull himself up by his bootstraps just like I did. After all anyone with proper initiative and dad’s money can buy their own government.

  26. 26
    Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff

    During the late housing meltdown, I met an old friend from university. During the conversation, he came out as a fervent believer in Ayn Rand. (Sigh. Yes, he was a white computer science geek doing programming.) I held my tongue — after all, he wasn’t hurting anybody with his stupid opinion.

    Then.

    He started to rant about the worldwide economic meltdown. And he blamed someone. He blamed someone specific. He blamed Carter for the Community Reinvestment Act, which barred redlining ethnic communities; this, he said, forced, FORCED banks to loan to blacks who couldn’t pay their mortgages, and blacks reneging on their home loans created the whole crisis we were now in.

    I lost it. I really did. I’m a quiet person, I am. I rarely raise my voice. But I couldn’t help myself.

    (I could put this in all-caps, but I won’t. Just imagine me yelling.)

    “Blacks are 12% of the US population, and the poorest 12% at that. The average white US family has about 40 times the assets of the average black family. And the CR Act did not force banks to lend to blacks, it stopped them from denying financially qualified individuals for being denied loans due where they wished to buy. That was called redlining, you idiot, and it helps perpetual ghettos! And you think that the small proportion of the poorest 12% of the total population who actually could take loans to buy houses brought down the whole economic system of the richest country in the world? You are (okay, I’m yelling now) YOU ARE NOT BEING RATIONAL! YOU’RE FALLING FOR NIGGER-BAITING YOU STUPID BASTARD!”

    The word felt ugly coming out of my mouth, but there’s no doubt that that was the word playing in his mind when he thought the whole financial crisis.

    I doubt I changed his mind, but at least he shut the fuck up.

  27. 27
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    The point about the relative pay of universities, government, and private industry is very accurate.

    I am a post-doctoral fellow working at a research university on a NIH grant. As such, my pay is set in Washington – I make $39,264 a year. This is not bad for a single person with no dependents, and I live comfortably (recent budgeting crisis in my personal life notwithstanding).

    If I were working on a non-US government grant at a university (say, a state grant, or an industry grant, or being paid by the university), I would probably be paid similarly. Like I said, this is not bad.

    I was chatting with some friends not long ago. We are from similar backgrounds, went to undergraduate together, graduated in the same year with similar degrees and skill sets. I went to graduate school and am now here. I have $20,000 in student loan debt. The second of us went to medical school and is now a resident. She makes about $40,000 a year – and has $80,000 in student loan debt. The third of us got her masters and then started working in industry. She makes $50,000 a year and has paid off all but $2,000 of her student debt.

    Tell me, how much sense does that make?

  28. 28
    Matt Penfold

    And I though the level of student debt in the UK was getting bad.

  29. 29
    Johnny Vector

    Everybody STOP!

    Stop what you’re doing right now and head over to Crommunist’s place to read his series about System Justification Theory.

    It’s got all those things y’all are saying about blaming those below you and identifying with those above, but with studies and data and stuff! It’s long, but well worth reading.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2011/10/20/why-are-you-hitting-yourself-an-intro-to-system-justification-theory/

  30. 30
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Matt,
    For my educational level and financial background (i.e. my parents’ economic status), I am lucky to have that low of a debt level. My friend the doctor has so much more because, unlike graduate school in the US, scholarships for medical school are few and far between.

  31. 31
    Gnumann+,with no bloody irony at all (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun)

    My friend the doctor has so much more because, unlike graduate school in the US, scholarships for medical school are few and far between.

    Lemme guess – the rationale goes something like this: “Heaven forbid we give access to the poor to education that universally gives a well-paying job.”

  32. 32
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    What? No.

    The rationale is “doctors make a lot of money,” so it doesn’t matter.

    Unfortunately, while (post-residency) doctors do make a lot of money on average, the kinds of pay that allow you to pay off crushing debt – $150,000 and up is not unusual for newly minted doctors – are the high-paying specialties, and not things like general practitioner/family doctor. So this is aggravating the already existing problem of too many dermatologists/plastic surgeons, not enough family doctors/OB-GYNS.

  33. 33
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Hairhead:

    I doubt I changed his mind, but at least he shut the fuck up.

    Sadly, sometimes that’s the best you can hope for.

    During the housing collapse, I knew a lot of poor white people that blamed poor black people for the very same reasons that your “friend” was– the government forced lenders to give African Americans money, while leaving white borrowers out in the cold. Plus, you know, if those black families weren’t all on welfare, NY wouldn’t have found itself $10 billion in the hole*.

    These assholes had the nerve to say this with a straight face while they were benefitting from government programs. Everything from heating assistance to food stamps to programs that helped rural families get hooked up to and pay for high speed internet access. The naked hypocrisy and racism was astounding.

    *Which was directly related to Wall Street’s collapse, but we can’t let facts get in the way of scapegoating, now can we.

  34. 34
    Matt Penfold

    Unfortunately, while (post-residency) doctors do make a lot of money on average, the kinds of pay that allow you to pay off crushing debt – $150,000 and up is not unusual for newly minted doctors – are the high-paying specialties, and not things like general practitioner/family doctor. So this is aggravating the already existing problem of too many dermatologists/plastic surgeons, not enough family doctors/OB-GYNS.

    Thankfully here in the UK we do not have that problem since all specialities are paid pretty much the same. There will some differences depending on the amount of on-call work required. There is a problem with a shortage of doctors entering some specialities, but that is because some specialities are considered “sexier” than others.

    And general practitioners are probably the highest earning of all.

  35. 35
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    @richardelguru

    Years ago there was this sketch with Cleese, Barker and Corbett.

    I managed to find what is apparently the only copy on youtube: http://youtu.be/K2k1iRD2f-c

    Good stuff.

  36. 36
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    In the US, doctors are paid based on the number of procedures they perform, and different procedures cost different amounts (mostly based on rational stuff like supply/demand, cost of materials, skill of the practitioner, etc).

    So:

    I, Ms. Generic American, go to my GP for a checkup. Dr. GP checks my glands, weighs me, checks my blood pressure, gives me a once-over for worrying lumps/discoloration/etc, asks me how I’m feeling and if I have any concerns, and orders a cholesterol screen. That is two procedures: the physical exam and the blood work.

    Later, I go to see my gynecologist. Dr. Gyno performs a pelvic exam, a breast exam, and collects tissue for a PAP smear. Two procedures: the physical exam and the smear.

    On my way home from Dr. Gyno’s office, I wrap my car around a pole. An oral surgeon is summoned to put my mouth back together. I require 3 screws in my jaw, 4 teeth put back into place, and repairs on 5 broken teeth. Also, a plastic surgeon, working with an otolaryngologist, repairs my nose and cheekbones. All told, this is five procedures, requiring the efforts of at least six people (two surgeons, the otolaryngologist, at least one nurse, and an anesthesiologist) and a lot of materials – and that isn’t counting the other stuff like pre-op bloodwork, a hospital say, rehab, etc.

    Dr. Oral Surgeon and Dr. Plastic Surgeon will charge a large bill, for their services and the materials; and Dr. Otolaryngologist will charge for expertise, the nurse’s services will probably be rolled in with the above, and Dr. Anesthesiologist will also charge for services and materials.

    The lowest of these charges will be several times what Dr. GP and Dr. Gyno charge.

    Now – I’m not saying that in this scenario, that those skilled people who put my hypothetical face back together don’t deserve compensation. Far from it.

    But Dr. Oral Surgeon – assuming they have a practice revolving around accident victims and root canals like most oral surgeons – will, as the lowest-paid of the specialists, will make 2 to 3 times a year what Dr. Gyno makes. And Dr. Gyno will outearn Dr. GP.

    And Dr. Gyno, if a practicing obstetrician, will have higher operating costs than Dr. Oral Surgeon, much of that being the need for malpractice insurance.

    None of this makes sense, but that is how it is in this country.

  37. 37
    furiouslysleepy

    The article was pretty wonderful, and thinking about it, the defining question of the 20th century was how to make a just society.

    I think it was the first time in history that so many people simultaneously decided to design a society form the ground up, and were confident that they would succeed. It turned out to be a bit harder than that. We still haven’t managed it: we know a bit better some of the things that don’t work, and maybe we even know a few of the ingredients that have to be present, but it’s not a solved problem by far.

    And though a certain commentator has been smacked down for trolling, I must admit that the article made me feel guilty. I studied hard and worked hard, and my parents struggled hard to get me where I am. I earn fairly well, but I will never be rich. There are many people with much more money that is much more undeserved than mine. But I am also privileged. Maurose Frantz could ask me what it is that separates us, why I have been deemed worthy of earning so much more than him. If what I do is that much more valuable, then why can’t he do that himself. He was not given the same choices I was.

    I give a significant amount to charity, but that does not make it ok. I’m not on the side of the angels. “If I lived in a revolutionary times, I might have been a revolutionary,” I think, but the thought is just refusing to look at the truth, and I have so many ways of doing that. I feel like my outrage is manufactured, so complicit am I in the system that I could not possibly genuinely resist it. I feel like a man in a crowd watching someone get murdered on the street, aware of the bystander effect but still just watching, unwilling or unable to help.

  38. 38
    Gnumann+,with no bloody irony at all (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun)

    Thankfully here in the UK we do not have that problem since all specialities are paid pretty much the same. There will some differences depending on the amount of on-call work required. There is a problem with a shortage of doctors entering some specialities, but that is because some specialities are considered “sexier” than others.

    And general practitioners are probably the highest earning of all.

    Ah, the horrors joys of socialist socialised death-panels medicine.

    You should try it America. If you do it right it can probably fit within the budget of medicare.

  39. 39
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    I thought this quote from Nick Hanauer ($125,000/week) was surprising, but apt:

    The view that regulation is bad for business is almost universally held,” he says. “But in every country where you find prosperity, you find massive amounts of regulation. Show me a libertarian paradise where nobody pays any taxes and nobody follows rules and everybody lives like a king! Show me one!

  40. 40
    zb24601

    all the people at the bottom of the ladder rationalize their position, saying that they wouldn’t want the worries of the next person up, while pitying the one below them.

    That reminds me of the 1931 novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley in which everyone was indoctrinated from birth to be happy that they were exactly where they were placed in their society, which was not upwardly (or downwardly) mobile.

  41. 41
    anthonyrosa

    Something about all this reminds me of a conversation I had with my parents. It was about the health care thing. They got angry.

    “It isn’t the poor who need health care assistance,” they said. “They all get free health care anyway.”

  42. 42
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    “It isn’t the poor who need health care assistance,” they said. “They all get free health care anyway.”

    O_O

    Can I move to the country where this is true?

  43. 43
    macrophage

    Just got around to reading the article. Thanks for posting, it’s already up on my facebook page. :-)

    I’m kind of curious to see what my Libertarian friends (from high school, of course) have to say about it. Assuming they read even part of it. They [my Libertarian friends] earn between $100K – $150 K but yet have almost exactly the same attitude as the billionaire in the article. Is it possible the author accidently biased his article by casting people with different political viewpoints? I’d be interested to hear from a conservative and liberal at each income level to see how their viewpoints differ.

    It’s a common misconception that everyone who visits an ER or hospital in the States will be treated. They will all be evaluated but the hospital is only required to treat emergent patients by law. They can turn away stable patients. And often do.

  44. 44
    cactuswren

    I found a copy with better audio:

  45. 45
    ibyea

    Ah, joachim. I believe quiet some time ago, my words for him were: fuck you. I just can’t remember why I did that.

  46. 46
    coffeehound

    Professor Myers, isn’t your salary paid by the taxpayers?

    And how much of your income to you contibute voluntarily to the less fortunate?

    Wow. If your point is that people can’t give enough in the richest country in the world so we are now woefully outgunned by other developed nations in education and healthcare you’ve just made a perceptive and nuanced argumument for education and healthcare support and you would be willing to pay taxes to that end…but somehow I don’t think that was your point. So….what was it again?

  47. 47
    coldthinker

    What’s wrong with getting your salary paid by tax money? At least you know you’re working for a decent employer, not some shady dot com company.

    At different times, taxes have taken 15 to 40 percent of my gross income. And if my income rises, I’m happy to pay more. For me, my family and friends, this tax money has helped to pay for our education, health care, kindergartens, hospitals, libraries, universities, museums, playgrounds and playing fields as well as maintaining parks, streets, highways and all kinds of transportation systems around them. I’m happy to be part of paying the salary of the doctors, nurses, teachers, professors, police men, garbage truck drivers and street sweepers. And I’m even happy to pay taxes to support the lazy drunk unemployable bastards, so fewer of them will feel the need to mug me on the street or burglarize my home to get a hot meal or their next fix.

    If we lived in some prehistoric anarchy, we could only dream of a system, whereby all people would constantly contribute some of their hard earned assets to build a better village and help each other in times of need, instead of just battling each other fiercely for the limited resources. Now there is such a system. It’s called taxation. We just whine about it because we tend to take all benefits around us for granted.

  48. 48
    cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming)

    The richest guy’s belief in success as a result of woo reminded me of something in What’s the matter with Kansas? Ch 6:

    [E]very single one of the [embittered Republicans] was a believer in the power of positive thinking. If you just had a sunny disposition and kept everlastingly at it, they thought, you were bound to succeed.

    [...]

    The world’s failure to live up to the impossible promises of the positive-thinking credo did not convince these men of the credo’s impracticality, but rather that the world was in a sad state of decline, that it had forsaken the true and correct path.

  49. 49
    cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming)

    Two more links:


    How did it all go so wrong? Hayes pins the blame on an unlikely suspect: meritocracy.

    And, re. AudleyZD @#33:

    He says that too many Americans lean on taxpayers rather than living within their means. He supports politicians who promise to cut government spending. In 2010, he printed T-shirts for the Tea Party campaign of a neighbor, Chip Cravaack, who ousted this region’s long-serving Democratic congressman.

    Yet this year, as in each of the past three years, Mr. Gulbranson, 57, is counting on a payment of several thousand dollars from the federal government, a subsidy for working families called the earned-income tax credit. He has signed up his three school-age children to eat free breakfast and lunch at federal expense. And Medicare paid for his mother, 88, to have hip surgery twice.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/us/even-critics-of-safety-net-increasingly-depend-on-it.html?pagewanted=all

  50. 50
    Chris Young

    It would have been good if he had interviewed someone making 5 times lower than $200/week too.

  51. 51
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    It would have been good if he had interviewed someone making 5 times lower than $200/week too.

    I can do that. Hell I’ve done that here in plenty of comments. The regulars here know about my shitty situation and have saved my ass from literally sleeping on the streets again twice.

    This topic makes me sad. I get all bristled up and offended because I’m poor but don’t buy into this American Dream that I’m going to magically be rewarded for all the shit I do. But I know I’m rare in that respect, I’ve seen it all too often with other people I’ve interacted with. Mind boggling how they can believe in it.

    =(

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