The poor are lazy, the rich are selfless, says Ben Stein


I had almost forgotten that Ben Stein existed — Expelled seems to have been the last sad gasp of his marginal cinematic career. But he still lives on, whining on the virtual pages of wingnut webzines like The American Spectator. His latest is a discussion of all that is wrong with poor people.

My humble observation is that most long-term poverty is caused by self-sabotage by individuals. Drug use. Drunkenness. Having children without a family structure. Gambling. Poor work habits. Disastrously unfortunate appearance. Above all, and counted in the preceding list, psychological problems (very much including basic laziness) cause people to be unemployed, have poor or no work habits, and enter and stay in poverty.

Impoverished people have personal problems. They may have had terrible childhoods. They may have been the victims of abuse. They are often the victims of their own abuse of drugs and alcohol. But they are not the victims of corporations or of the Federal Reserve. Their sad backgrounds lead them into self-destruction.

It is all their own damn fault. Also, they aren’t actually poor, because they have indoor plumbing. How can they be complaining about their situation if they’ve got a working toilet?

Meanwhile, rich people are good.

But there are just some people who are better with money than others and will wind up with a ton of money. There will be people who strike oil, who create new Internet toys. They fund symphonies and ballets and schools for inner city kids. They are a bulwark against tyranny because they can afford lawyers to fight overweening government.

We want for there to be a high number of rich people who function as a brake on government just as the nobles did on the crown in long ago England.

They fund symphonies! Without rich people of good taste, all those inner city kids might have to listen to is that godawful rap crap, you know. Rich people have a mission to dictate taste as well as to set an example for the poors.

Why is it that I think that the rich are paying lawyers not to fight for equality and fairness and justice, but mainly to make sure that they don’t have to pay as many taxes as they should?

Don’t warry, though, Ben Stein has a solution.

What will make the genuinely poor stop sabotaging themselves? Maybe, just maybe, if we let God back into the public forum it would help. I have seen spiritual solutions work miracles.

Jebus. What an idiot.

Comments

  1. says

    Is Ben Stein even serious? The bits quoted here sound almost like self-parody — he knows it’s all bullshit, and he’s not even trying to make any of it sound credible, because he knows he doesn’t have to.

  2. playonwords says

    So God is letting all these poor people suffer just so He can be let back into the public forum?

    What a vindictive little prat He is; not only that but he is scared to prey on the rich otherwise symphonies and toe dancing won’t be funded or oil wells will not be built or internet toys won’t be developed. Funny I think those are all things we can well do without,

  3. vaiyt says

    There will be people who strike oil, who create new Internet toys.

    And there are their descendants, and people who kinda sorta look like them, who acquire their betterness by proxy.

    They fund symphonies and ballets and schools for inner city kids.

    Who don’t deserve it because they are lazy and were abused.

    They are a bulwark against tyranny because they can afford lawyers to fight overweening government.

    As long as said government is being overweening only where it should, like in people’s bedrooms.

  4. says

    My humble observation is that most long-term poverty is caused by self-sabotage by individuals.

    Nope.

    The Lasting Impacts of Poverty on the Brain. Badger, E., The Atlantic Cities, (Oct. 2013). (“Those who grew up poor later had impaired brain function as adults—a disadvantage researchers could literally see in the activity of the amygdala and prefrontal cortex on an fMRI scan.”)

    U.S. Census: 1 in 6 Americans live in poverty. Black Youth Project (Nov. 2013) (“Out-of-pocket medical costs and work related expenses are believed to be the main causes for more people entering the lower income bracket.”)

    Conservative ideology sentences citizens to poor health and permanent poverty. Willies, E., Daily Kos (Mar. 2014).

  5. robinjohnson says

    They are a bulwark against tyranny because they can afford lawyers to fight overweening government.

    They are a bulwark against tyranny because they have enough power to ignore or overturn democratically made decisions!

  6. David Marjanović says

    They are a bulwark against tyranny because they can afford lawyers to fight overweening government.

    So just perhaps there should be a way to influence government that doesn’t involve lawyers. Just maybe.

    I don’t know… how about elections?

    We want for there to be a high number of rich people who function as a brake on government just as the nobles did on the crown in long ago England.

    Yeah, for their own interest and nothing else. Fat lot of a difference it made for the average peasant for the next seven hundred years.

  7. pocketnerd says

    Comparing the rich to the feudal aristocracy like it’s a GOOD thing? Hmmm… is Ben Stein one of these nitwit neoreactionaries?

  8. mmfwmc says

    @Seven of Mine
    By “Disastrously unfortunate appearance” he means not looking like him – white and male.

  9. Geral says

    Many companies have outsourced their operations overseas, particularly manufacturing in order to be more profitable. As a result, entire sections of cities are now vacant with little opportunity for the people who do not have the means to leave. Citizens and companies leaving means less tax dollars to support public infrastructure. The kids of the unemployed or under employed turn to criminal activities because they see their parents suffering and their community disintegrating. The cycle continues.

    This is all so those on Wall Street can increase their fortunes and we can buy cheaper crap. This is an entirely manufactured crisis and it could be fixed if we had the political system willing to tackle big problems.

    I suppose Ben Stein would like them to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps”, borrow money from their parents, and start up their own business so they can do the same to their workers.

    If he cared he would look to improve our cities instead of complaining with his privileged life.

    /rant

  10. doublereed says

    We want for there to be a high number of rich people who function as a brake on government just as the nobles did on the crown in long ago England.

    Really? Because I thought we wanted an egalitarian society.

    You know, that whole America thing? Rejecting nobility? Any of this ringing a bell here?

  11. Bicarbonate is back says

    What’s really disgusting is the portrayal of the rich as a “bulwark against tyranny”. And the comparison to feudal times as an illustration (“as the nobles did on the crown in long ago England”). I suppose this kind of person can’t conceive of a society as complex as our own and so has to reference all the incredible knowledge and insight they’ve gained from reading things like A Game of Thrones. It’s also strange that in this “bulwark against tyranny” trope is an implicit acknowledgement that the rich are an alternative power that is in competition with a duly elected government, well, uhm, mostly duly elected.

  12. says

    But they are not the victims of corporations or of the Federal Reserve.

    Sure.

    How Wall Street Screwed Over Tenants in New York City: Fake eviction notices, heat and water shutoffs, and vermin infestations—what happens to renters when private equity enters the rental market. Gottesdiener, L., Mother Jones (Apr. 2014).

    Okay, I’ll stop now. I just wanted to demonstrate how trivially easy it is to demolish anything Ben Stein or any other right wing pundit says.

  13. Kevin Anthoney says

    They fund symphonies! Without rich people of good taste, all those inner city kids might have to listen to is that godawful rap crap, you know.

    Try some chap-hop.

  14. says

    What’s really disgusting is the portrayal of the rich as a “bulwark against tyranny”.

    In all fairness, he’s probably getting his ideas of history from the founding of the USA – a bunch of rich oligarchs who banded together to get away from the colonial power when it started trying to tax some of the illicit income they were making off smuggling, slavery, tobacco, and rum – who then devised a political power-sharing scheme that allowed them to control a nation without having to trust one another. In the sense that he’s probably mistaking “taxes” for “tyranny” at a 1:1 mixing ratio, he’s kind of in line with the propaganda version of how things work.

  15. says

    doublereed 15:

    I thought we wanted an egalitarian society.

    We do. But conservatives oppose equality in principle. Preference for strict hierarchies is a defining characteristic of conservative political ideology.

  16. borax says

    I didn’t know that laziness was a mental illness, Thanks Ben.
    @14 irisvanderpluym. Rich kids who use drugs get to go to rehab and get their record expunged; poor kids go to jail.

  17. says

    This guy doesn’t sound like he’s ever talked to (talked at, maybe, but definitely never listened to) any poor people *or* any rich people.

    He’s too busy licking the boots of the rich; you can’t talk clearly when your tongue is out and anyway… you know how much they hate it when the hired help try to talk to them.

    What blows my mind about people like Stein is that they don’t realize that the real oligarchs in this country wouldn’t give them the time of day. They’re like pathetic orc-servants of Saruman who think that if they do a good job shining the jackboots they’ll be allowed to enter the aristocracy. As if! As if!

  18. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Well, Ben, you and Jimmy Kimmel stopped letting people win your money, so what do you expect?

  19. vaiyt says

    How is being a victim of abuse and having a bad childhood “self-sabotage”? The blatant lie behind this idiot’s propaganda is right in front of him, and he’s either so empathy-deficient that he can’t see it, or he’s so dishonest as to pretend it doesn’t exist while spelling it for other people.

  20. says

    Yep, Paris Hilton. Totally a creator

    +++

    They fund symphonies! Without rich people of good taste…

    Ehm, somebody again tell me who usually goes to symphonies…

    +++
    vaiyt

    How is being a victim of abuse and having a bad childhood “self-sabotage”?

    Well, at age 18 you’re supposed to leave all that behind. You must magically get get all that knowledge and all those skills and all the connections the privileged kids have at that time or it’s all your own godsdamn fault

  21. Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened says

    But they are not the victims of corporations or of the Federal Reserve.

    Second paragraph, and he’s lying. We’re done.

  22. Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened says

    Disastrously unfortunate appearance.

    … is he claiming that all poor people are ugly?

  23. says

    #31:

    He is !!!

    Worse than that : he claims they’re poor because they’re ugly.

    If there’s one thing that these trashy “extreme makover” shows taught me, it’s that, given enough money, you can repair bad teeth and a bad skin, get a good hairstyle (and of course nice clothes), and quickly transfer from the “butt-ugly” to the “cool and attractive” category. Just with enough money.

    And, Mr Stein, all poor people are not the victims of a particularly tragic accident of life. They’re just the residents of one of the boxes whose addition we call society. The one without whom the opposite one, your darling one, the one for the rich, would not exist.

  24. violetknight says

    If you’re up for giving the original article pageviews, it’s got plenty more good parts.

    “Some people will have better family connections than others. Some people will have richer parents than others. Unless we want to do away with property rights — a surefire route to dictatorship — we will have a lot of men and women who are rich by inheritance. Frankly, I feel sorry for them.”

    “Surely some of those people got that money by looting their own stockholders. I know this for a fact. I spent decades writing about it for Barron’s. There will be men in a position of authority who will loot.”

    (He then switches to the “just better” people, and gives these people not another thought.)

  25. Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened says

    @Giliell

    Yep, Paris Hilton. Totally a creator

    Day-um! I am so stealing this. Next time anyone claims the rich are job creators, I’m just saying “Paris Hilton” and walking away.

  26. borax says

    @31 Thumper, Just like fairy tales and bad literature. Good people are attractive (even if they’re covered in ashes or need glasses) and bad folks have sever deformities and lots of warts. This works in Benny’s mind because he thinks poor people are just bad little moochers. I really can’t stand Ben Stein.

  27. doublereed says

    I liked Ben Stein better when he played the pixies in The Fairly Oddparents. That was hilarious.

  28. doublereed says

    It should also be noted that Ben Stein inherited his wealth from his father, Herbert Stein. He’s not some ‘self-made man’ by any means.

    Didn’t they do a study that showed that people who win the lottery say that they deserved their wealth?

  29. arakasi says

    No discussion of this is complete without a reference to the Sam Vimes “Boots” Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness:

    The reason the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
    Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in the city on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
    But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while a poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

    Men at Arms, Terry Pratchett

  30. pocketnerd says

    @arakasi, #39:

    Yes, but if that poor man had just had the ruggedly individualistic Puritan work ethic to be born rich like Ben Stein, he could buy all the high-quality boots he wanted! CHECKMATE, SOCIALISTS!!

  31. U Frood says

    Rich people EARNED their wealth, often by being forward thinking enough to have rich parents.

    If you grew up in the poor neighborhood, never got the support at home to finish school and stayed in that poor neighbor hood, why weren’t you just smarter and had rich parents?

  32. Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened says

    @borax #35

    I haven’t come into contact with him much, but I’m beginning to agree with you. He seems to be an especially odious entitled little pratt.

  33. says

    There will be people who strike oil, who create new Internet toys.

    And there are their descendants, and people who kinda sorta look like them, who acquire their betterness by proxy.

    I would love to create a really cool internet gizmo, or a successful game. My financial worries would be over. But the idea of accumulating huge amounts of wealth and passing it on to people that just happen to be my kids, and creating clueless descendants that have no idea what it means to have limited means really grosses me out.

  34. says

    Donald Trump is another one who people think is some self made wonder, when in fact he got his start working for his father’s successful real estate company.

  35. says

    In addition to the more data-driven comments above (6, 14, 18), there’s this: “Look around Wall Street. You’ll find tribal insularity, short-term thinking, personal irresponsibility, cynicism about playing by the rules, an aversion to socially productive labor, a habit of shameless materialism, an inability to defer gratification and a lack of concern for what “message” all this sends to the youth raised in such an environment. In short, you’ll find the very things typically imputed to the culture of poverty.”

  36. Sven says

    Maybe, just maybe, if we let God back into the public forum it would help.

    Aren’t the poor more likely to be religious than the rich? They’re not suffering from an absence of Jesus in their lives, that’s for sure.

  37. raven says

    What will make the genuinely poor stop sabotaging themselves? Maybe, just maybe, if we let God back into the public forum it would help. I have seen spiritual solutions work miracles.

    Jebus. What an idiot.

    God hasn’t been banished from the public forum. As the creator and most powerful being in the universe, how could a few humans push him around?

    There are churches everywhere and mobs of xians everywhere. They are still 68% of the population. There are missions that specifically target the poor. In fact, it is one of the xians favorite (and easy) targets. Desperate people will do a lot for food.

    Cable TV, radio, billboards, strange people from strange cults knocking on your door.

    What an idiot doesn’t quite cover it. What a malevolent idiot comes closer.

  38. Jackie, all dressed in black says

    He’s also saying that only poor people abuse their kids, grow up in homes with addictions, and and mental illness. Rich people are above such things and that is why they are rich.

    He’s an ignorant, puffed up, slimy toad.

    No wonder Nixon liked him.

  39. cartomancer says

    If rich people are so wonderful and brilliant then surely the ideal would be that everyone is rich and there aren’t any poor people at all?

    Given this premise, how about all those super-mega-disgustingly-rich people and corporations, whose net wealth amounts to trillions of dollars, give it all away in equal portions to everyone else? When the dust clears everybody is rich!

  40. Kevin Kehres says

    Now that I think of it, Ben’s right.

    Ben: I think it’s time you came to the conclusion that the only proper way to bring god back into the public arena is for everyone to become a Muslim. After all, Islam means “submission”, and you’re asking us to submit to that particular god.

    So, the minute you get you and your buddies to convert to Islam, I will to.

    Holding my breath …

  41. U Frood says

    I’m sure if all the rich people gave away their money, since they are inherently better people they would be able to easily work themselves back to rich again.

    It happens all the time to people like Scrooge McDuck, he’ll lose everything he has but his lucky dime and by the end of the story he’s even richer than he started.

  42. says

    Jackie

    He’s also saying that only poor people abuse their kids, grow up in homes with addictions, and and mental illness. Rich people are above such things and that is why they are rich.

    I mean, those sort of things, they only happen in poor homes.
    That’s why any kid who comes from a middle-class home who claims such things is lying. Just ask my abusive alcoholic mother…

  43. Alverant says

    The next person who discovers oil or creates a new internet toy will be squashed by the existing rich people who don’t want to let some nobody into their club.

  44. says

    The next person who discovers oil or creates a new internet toy will be squashed by the existing rich people who don’t want to let some nobody into their club.

    Naah, look at how it worked out for Bezos and Zuckerberg – they’re now officially noveau riche parvenu and they made Wall St’s old money a ton of new money. New money is tolerated as long as there’s lots of it. That’s the one way in which the american experiment seems to have succeeded – it’s replaced hereditary aristocracy with hereditary wealth – the myth of breeding appears to have been somewhat dismantled (though replaced with common or garden racism in some quarters)

  45. dianne says

    I suggest a little experiment: We freeze all Ben Stein’s assets and give him a new start in life in public housing with a minimal amount of starter money–say, $25–and without access to his credentials (history of college degree, access to wealthy friends, etc). If he is selfless and hard working enough to be back in the middle class within, say, 2 years, he gets his assets back (and gets to keep all the money he makes in his new identity.) If he’s not, he stays where he is. That’s fair, right? Since it’s all about hard work and if he doesn’t work hard, well, he doesn’t deserve all the stuff that he previously had.

  46. dianne says

    Maybe, just maybe, if we let God back into the public forum it would help.

    Sure. Great idea. It worked so well in the Medieval period.

  47. says

    I suggest a little experiment: We freeze all Ben Stein’s assets and give him a new start in life in public housing

    The sad thing is that he’s already got such a starting advantage in terms of education and experience with social manipulation, that he’d probably do fine. He’d start a church or some other scam, and – having learned that lying is effective and easy – he’d be plying his trade uninterrupted in no time at all.

  48. says

    My humble observation is that most long-term poverty is caused by self-sabotage by individuals.

    The idea that Ben Stein has spent any significant amount of time trying to observe the poor in their natural habitat is ludicrous. He’s been a pampered preppie his entire life. Such people define themselves by their complete and total avoidance of the lower classes. And indeed, his extremely condescending and stereotyped attitude toward the poor is the result of that, precisely what you get when you only know them as an abstraction and not as human beings.

  49. victorbogado says

    Sure no rich people have drinking or drugs problems…. The problem is that drinking out drugs problems hit worst the poor people than the rich.

    First the rich have access to better treatments and clinics. Second if you see a week dressed person getting wasted on a bar with the same eyes that if the same person was badly dressed.

  50. says

    The problem is that drinking out drugs problems hit worst the poor people than the rich.

    A friend of mine once told me “heroin doesn’t kill you; it’s the poverty brought on by heroin that kills you.”

  51. A Masked Avenger says

    Skillful use of the (much less than) half truth, to persuade anyone predisposed to believe this.

    It’s certainly true that escaping an initial state of poverty is seriously impeded by things like addictions, single parenthood, a preference for instant gratification, etc. Perfectly true.

    There are also factors (other than money) that improve the prospects of those born into higher social classes. There’s mentoring in the skills appropriate for high-paying jobs, from people who know by experience. There’s a social network for connecting people with opportunities. Etc.

    As a cis/het/white/male/American person, I have all sorts of advantages. Although I was born and raised near the poverty line, my only burden was getting educated, networking, etc. I didn’t have to deal with people assuming I was less intelligent, less trustworthy, or liable to steal the spoons, mug them, or spend my income on crack. Taking full advantage of opportunity-plus-privilege, I did all right. But I’ve noticed that there’s an invisible barrier I’m unlikely to rise above (I don’t want to appropriate others’ difficulties by saying “glass ceiling”), relating to the fact that I don’t play golf, use the wrong fork on my salad, and can’t make smalltalk on any subject the CEO will give a damn about. The markers of lower social class are the one disadvantage I have, amongst all those advantages.

    Turning Stein around, some barriers would indeed be lowered with effective programs to address addictions, lack of education, etc., but also some sort of mentoring in life skills that almost everyone has in the higher classes and that most lack in the lower classes. It would all be helpful.

    Damned if I know, though, why those things are all “your fault, losers!”

  52. Caren Tarvin says

    Disastrously unfortunate appearance.

    Did Ben Stein just call poor people ugly? They’re poor because they are UGLY?

    This guy. I just can’t with this guy.

  53. Chris J says

    @39:

    Huh. Sam Vines is actually correct. It’s not exactly boots, but think of credit card debt. Everyone these days needs a credit card to increase their credit score (a fact I loathe). A poor person will accumulate credit card debt out of necessity, then be forced to make monthly payments to pay it off. Because of interest, they end up paying much much more than the original debt (and in some cases they may never pay it off). A rich person can afford to pay off the debt immediately or quickly, and end up paying much less overall.

    Poverty is self-reinforcing. To be able to rise out of the cycle is admirable, but if you want to blame someone for not being able to do so you might as well blame a drug user for not having the willpower to overcome their physical/psychological dependence.

    Hang on… They already do, don’t they?

  54. dianne says

    The sad thing is that he’s already got such a starting advantage in terms of education and experience with social manipulation, that he’d probably do fine.

    Barbara Ehrenreich found it not so easy when she went to play working class person.

  55. Jackie, all dressed in black says

    Chris,
    Yes, but it isn’t just credit cards. The poor pay more for goods and services than the wealthy and they pay a much higher cost in quality of life. If a wealthy person is in a wreck or needs to move, no problem. They just do. Credit score low? Well, that’s gonna cost you. You can’t even rent a decent place without a credit check. You’ll have to move to the slums. Had to buy the cheapest washer/dryer set so that you didn’t have to lug laundry for a family of 6 back and forth from the Laundromat? I hope you can afford another set when it wears out, just like Sam’s boots. Can’t afford a new car? Well, I hope you can afford to take your clunker into the mechanic every time the transmission falls out, the axle snaps (both have happened to me), etc on your old car. I hope you don’t get fired for being late when that happens or that you aren’t fired for not having reliable transportation. You definitely hope you don’t get sick or injured. That can bankrupt you PDQ.

  56. Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened says

    @A Masked Avenger #64

    Yeah, that’s the other thing he seems to be missing. Idiots like him who stereotype the poor also won’t have anything to do with the poor, and won’t give the poor any opportunities.

    Probably not so great a problem in the US due to the relative lack of regional accents, but here in the UK 80% of employers admit to discriminating based on regional accents.

    …our research shows that the Liverpool accent comes off very badly, as does Cockney and Brummie. “Received Pronunciation” or the “Queen’s English”, on the other hand, reigns supreme.

    For those who don’t know, Liverpool, Bristol (Brummies are people from Bristol), and East London (Cockneys are people from East London) are famously deprived areas. So what this study is really saying is that 80% of employers admit to discriminating against people who sound poor. Posh accents, it goes without saying, come off well.

  57. says

    Had to buy the cheapest washer/dryer set so that you didn’t have to lug laundry for a family of 6 back and forth from the Laundromat? I hope you can afford another set when it wears out, just like Sam’s boots.

    It’s not only that.
    Being well-off to start with, you can afford one that’s energy efficient. My energy bill is actually much smaller than that of comparable low-income families.
    Grocery? Having reliable transportation means I can shop where it’s cheap.
    Have a freezer? I can buy things cheap when they’re on season and even save time cooking!

  58. says

    Huh. Sam Vines is actually correct. It’s not exactly boots, but think of credit card debt. Everyone these days needs a credit card to increase their credit score (a fact I loathe). A poor person will accumulate credit card debt out of necessity, then be forced to make monthly payments to pay it off. Because of interest, they end up paying much much more than the original debt (and in some cases they may never pay it off). A rich person can afford to pay off the debt immediately or quickly, and end up paying much less overall.

    This is why having a credit-based economy, rather than a regular fucking money-based economy with access to credit for big-ticket items, is incredibly fucked up. Credit should have been the thing that allows Sam to buy the fifty-dollar boots on installment and save on boot expenses in the long run; instead, it’s become a trap of never-ending fees and interest payments.

    Credit is a wonderful thing for middle-income people who can cover all of their regular living expenses within their ordinary cash flow and occasionally need to pull ahead of it a bit to, as previously mentioned, buy the energy-efficient washing machine instead of the crap one. It’s fucking vicious to actually live off. But as living expenses go up, the middle-income portion of the populace shrinks, and credit gets continually marketed, managed, and generally talked about like it’s money (credit is not money!)… more and more people end up living off credit.

  59. robro says

    My humble observation…

    What about this makes me want to say “Fuck you, Ben Stein.” What an ass.

    This paragraph from a WP article on the Ryan budget’s impact on women says it all:

    “For example, Medicaid (about 70 percent of adult recipients are women), food stamps (63 percent of adult recipients are women) and Pell grants (62 percent) would be cut. Then there are programs in categories that would face cuts Ryan hasn’t specified: Supplemental Security Income (two-thirds of the poor and elderly recipients are women), welfare (85 percent of adult recipients are women), housing vouchers (82 percent of recipient households headed by women), child-care assistance (75 percent female-headed households) and the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program.”

    When we say “poor” in this country, we mean women and children.

  60. Chris J says

    Jackie@70:

    Yup. Everything becomes exponentially more difficult. The same sort of thing is true of jobs as well. Jobs across the spectrum have absurd income/effort ratios. I make very good money as a programmer (which arose from a degree from an expensive school and a childhood of exposure to electronics), and I’m working forty hours a week at most on a flexible schedule in a low-pressure environment. Those forty hours can’t come close to comparing to forty hours in a more labor-intensive job that pays far less. Talk about differences in quality of life…

    I never quite realized til now how awful the “you get what you pay for” mentality really is. There are a wide range of things you can do to make a product cheaper, but for some reason in our society the default is to just make it junky. We’ve designed $100 laptops that are durable and functional. We’ve created golden rice, a rice that is cheap, available, and nutritious. Why can’t we put that same effort towards other products as well?

  61. Onamission5 says

    Back when I had only one child to care for and worked 50+ hours a week, in order to do so, a full third of my income went to pay childcare. If I worked more than 50 hours a week in an effort to make up some of the difference, my tax bracket went up just enough to eat every extra dollar I made. In order to have affordable housing I had to live six miles out of town. In order to live six miles out of town, thanks to cuts to what little public transportation existed in my town, I had to have a car. What I had left over after basic living and work related expenses was less than $500/mo for food, medical, clothing, shoes, and other such luxury items, for two people.

    And this was 20 years ago, and I was a success story. I worked my way off of public services, slowly, over the course of a few years, first losing my cash assistance, then childcare assistance, then food stamps, then finally losing my medical benefits, as my hours and obligations at work increased. If my kid was sick, and their illness happened to not coincide with the one day a week I had off, ze came to work with me. If the car needed new tires or a timing chain, that came out of the food budget. What about child support, you ask? Yes, what about it indeed.

    Something tells me Stein has never worked 15-20 hours a week just to pay for childcare so he could work. Something tells me Stein has never had to decide between eating or being able to get to his job. Something tells me that Stein has always had a choice of neighborhood, and has never been repeatedly priced out of living someplace that was convenient to job, daycare, and shopping so that yuppies could live in the newest trendy area in town. Something tells me he’s never had his affordable housing get sold out from under him, or condemned, or scooped up for development purposes, or gotten his rent jacked so high every year that he’s relegated to moving every three years whether he wants to, can afford to, or not. Something tells me he’s never had his heat shut off because a housemate lost a job and then had to scramble to come up with another deposit to get the heat turned back on before temps dropped down below freezing again.

    And again, I am a success story. This is a slice of what the working poor who do better than their parents have to go through, and this slice is utterly free of the additional burdens of racism or xenophobia on top of crushing poverty.

    @Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened #71:

    Oh, the US has regional accents aplenty. It’s just that our tv people are coached out of any regionalisms, so that the generic US accent– which is really more of a central midwest accent than it is general to the population– dominates the media. My spouse speaks with a Maine accent (think boston: cah in havahd yahd, but with more nose and brass) and my region of birth is distinguishable by the way I say my O’s. Have you never heard any stereotypes about the way US southerners talk (stupidly, apparently, grr), or seen Fargo?

  62. dianne says

    Re the Sam Vimes boots theory, I believe that the conservative response would be that he should have gone without boots until he could save up enough to buy good boots and it’s his own fault for putting his desire for boots now ahead of his long term planning. What’s a little frostbite now when you know you’ll have boots in 5 years? (Yes, I made myself a little sick writing that, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got the argument, if not the tone, right.)

  63. says

    Huh. Sam Vines is actually correct. It’s not exactly boots, but think of credit card debt. Everyone these days needs a credit card to increase their credit score (a fact I loathe). A poor person will accumulate credit card debt out of necessity, then be forced to make monthly payments to pay it off. Because of interest, they end up paying much much more than the original debt (and in some cases they may never pay it off).

    There’s something similarly vicious I’ve seen advertised: Payday loans. If you need money now and can’t wait until payday, they’ll loan you money with interest, presumably to be paid back with your next paycheck. If you don’t think of the implications, the interest is essentially charging for convenience. But if you’re living from paycheck to paycheck, the temptation and/or necessity due to emergency expenses can make things even worse for you.

  64. Chris J says

    It takes effort to produce something that is cheaper… In our wonderful capitalist system, we say to hell with effort and just let everything cheap break apart because “you get what you pay for.”

  65. says

    There will be people who strike oil,

    Ahh, the Beverly Hillbillies School of Economics.

    who create new Internet toys.

    Not that poor people should have computers, or the Internet, on which to do such a thing.

  66. says

    @Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened #71:

    Oh, the US has regional accents aplenty. It’s just that our tv people are coached out of any regionalisms, so that the generic US accent– which is really more of a central midwest accent than it is general to the population– dominates the media. My spouse speaks with a Maine accent (think boston: cah in havahd yahd, but with more nose and brass) and my region of birth is distinguishable by the way I say my O’s. Have you never heard any stereotypes about the way US southerners talk (stupidly, apparently, grr), or seen Fargo?

    My brother recently revealed a thing that explains a childhood memory. We live in Texas. I remember playing with a tape recorder with my brother and him being shocked when he heard his own voice. Originally, I thought it was the usual thing where your voice sounds different in a recording (since it’s not connected to your skull vibrations, unlike your ears). He told me what really shocked him was how deep his southern drawl was. It was the event that got him to consciously change his accent from southern to the generic American.

  67. coffeehound says

    We want for there to be a high number of rich people who function as a brake on government just as the nobles did on the crown in long ago England.

    So, Ben, what I’m hearing is you need to put the brakes on a government( which in a representative democracy is supposed to be a feature, not a bug) that we the people elected specifically to do something for us. All to serve the desires of a small minority (that would be you) . Sounds to me like the wrench in the works isn’t government or poor people, it’s you.

  68. says

    Funny, I was just listening to one of those NPR/TED radio programs (I know, I know) that was all about how research demonstrates the opposite of what Stein is claiming: being rich apparently makes you into a selfish, miserly person. Poor people are far more likely to share and make charitable donations. Though, as with many of the behavioral differences between gender that have been observed, these differences are very malleable and can be counteracted with relatively simple environmental cues, such as photographs of suffering children.

  69. says

    My humble observation…

    What about this makes me want to say “Fuck you, Ben Stein.” What an ass.

    Probably the fact that his whole piece consists of sneering, elitist condescension of the poor. When you do that and start off as anointing yourself as humble, you are indeed an ass.

  70. robro says

    doublereed @#38

    Didn’t they do a study that showed that people who win the lottery say that they deserved their wealth?

    I don’t know about this specific study, but Paul Piff and others at UC Berkeley have studied how privilege and advantage can affect peoples behavior toward others. It’s not pretty. Even accidental advantage in trivial contexts (playing Monopoly) can make the privileged obnoxious.

  71. unclefrogy says

    is he actually advocating that we promote religion? The opiate of the masses?
    his financial advice is equally bad. I would bet he would say anything to support any cause or opinion for the right price.
    He is only in it for the money.
    uncle frogy

  72. A Masked Avenger says

    There’s something similarly vicious I’ve seen advertised: Payday loans. If you need money now and can’t wait until payday, they’ll loan you money with interest, presumably to be paid back with your next paycheck…

    There is a catch-22 here: there’s a reason that some people can’t just use their credit card, or get a personal loan. The ones who have a credit card, probably don’t seek Payday loans. The ones who do see Payday loans, probably can’t get credit cards, probably because they have bad credit, probably because they have a bad repayment history, probably because people loaned them money and then didn’t get paid back.

    IOW, much as we dislike the concept of usury, it’s true that anyone lending to those particular people is taking a substantially higher risk of never being repaid. The short repayment schedule (hence the name “payday” loan) is meant to mitigate the risk. The high interest rate offsets the risk by making the ones who do repay cover the interest and principal for those who don’t. If the rate were forced down below some (unknown to me) threshold, then defaulters would more than offset the interest income, and the lender would on average be losing money on every loan.

    This raises interesting questions I have no answer to–for example, are there alternative, decentralized, social structures that can replace this? Such as a mutual-aid society that structures loans to break even? Or collateralized small loans for poor people? (Those exist already, and are called pawn shops, which have issues of their own.) Can such loans be structured for better risk pooling in some way? Or is there literally no viable alternative beside some sort of government program, to fill the niche occupied by payday loans?

    The most obvious solutions are to ban payday loans completely, or to set a legal maximum on the interest. The latter would probably put then out of business by setting the rate below the risk threshold. But I don’t know whether the folks who use these loans would thank us for taking them away as an option, without supplying a viable alternative. The niche exists precisely because today they lack alternatives.

  73. mesh says

    @50 cartomancer

    If rich people are so wonderful and brilliant then surely the ideal would be that everyone is rich and there aren’t any poor people at all?

    Given this premise, how about all those super-mega-disgustingly-rich people and corporations, whose net wealth amounts to trillions of dollars, give it all away in equal portions to everyone else? When the dust clears everybody is rich!

    Ah, but you miss the brilliance of Mr. Stein’s humble reasoning: if everyone had the same money then there would be no rich and therefore no superheroes to valiantly protect us from Big Gubmint™ with their battalions of lawyers! Just as there must be losers for there to be winners, there must always be economic inequality for there to be rich people.

    I’m reminded of a quote by Syndrome from The Incredibles: “And when I’m old and I’ve had my fun, I’ll sell my inventions so that everyone can have powers. Everyone can be super! And when everyone’s super, no one will be.”

    Besides, we all know that poor people are so irresponsible and self-sabotaging that they would just piss away any money they were given that could otherwise have been used in the war effort against tyranny, so what are the truly magnanimous rich to do but hoard it for the sake of liberty, freedom, and justice?

  74. burgundy says

    “Disastrously unfortunate appearance”

    Ben Stein is probably a fan of “People of Walmart.” [inset barfing here]

  75. Al Dente says

    There’s another way that rich people can live more cheaply than poor people. I recently bought a car for $20,000. I paid cash and so I don’t have a four, five or six year loan to pay off. A five year loan on $20K will actually cost just over $25,000.

  76. says

    I’m amazed that Ben Stein would like to end secularism in this country.

    Dear Ben,

    Sure, let’s bring God back into the public schools. Your grand kids can learn about how horrible they are for not believing in Jesus and get graded accordingly. Oh, that’s right, you’re rich, and your plan doesn’t affect the religious diversity of rich people. Your grand kids get to go a properly denominated (orthodox, conservative, reform, you pick!) private school where they can learn about how awful those poor kids that go to that dirty public school are, all because they choose to be poor. Just two questions:

    Will you let those poor kids eat cake?
    How well fortified is your house for when the mob comes with a guillotine?

    Concernedly Yours,
    Misguided Plebeian

  77. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    A Masked Avenger @ #88:

    I can only speak from my own experience. When we lost our house, and had to spend three years in apartments we couldn’t afford (while working our way up the waiting list for the apartment we could afford), we would have to get a payday loan about every other month to avoid being late on the rent, losing that $50 penalty, and ruining our record for renting another apartment.

    We would eat very cheaply for a few days and then pay the loan back, so we were the ideal customers, I guess—but we would have been in much worse shape if that option weren’t there. I can see how it would be easy to get strung out on payday loans though—just maundering, I have no solutions….

  78. anteprepro says

    Working theory: Ben Stein is the Bizarro World version of Jon Stewart. Jon Stewart is a comedian whose insightful liberal-leaning political satire has essentially turned him into a more trustworthy voice in journalism than most journalists. Ben Stein was a Nixon era economics guru who then dipped into comedy for twenty/thirty years and has re-emerged as an eager, sleazy, dry, and humorless defender of the worst right-wing idiocies and injustices.

    Alternative: Ben Stein is the Second Coming of Ronald Reagan.

  79. bachfiend says

    A book recommendation. Matt Taibbi has a new book out this week ‘Divide’, which deals with this very topic. How the poor get done over because they’re easy targets. The very rich get a free pass. And the just rich and almost rich get the regulatory attention from the authorities because they need to be seen to be doing something about banking crime that led to the GFC.

  80. Gregory Greenwood says

    We want for there to be a high number of rich people who function as a brake on government just as the nobles did on the crown in long ago England.

    Wow. That is an almost Creationist-level history fail. I am not sure which era of UK history he is referencing, but I can tell him that at no point did the nobility act as champions against royal power on behalf of anyone but themselves. Stamping on the neck of the ordinary person was the noble sport of choice.

    If, as I suspect may be the case, he is referring to the Civil War (ours, not yours – just to avoid confusion for all the transatlantic Pharyngulites) then he might want to consider the little wrinkle that after Charles II was executed, Cromwell took power as ‘Lord Protector’, which essentially made him an absolutist monarch in all but name until his death. Hardly a brake on unaccountable power. And that is without even mentioning the horrors Cromwell enacted in Ireland.

    Then again, I don’t imagine Stein lets little things like reality interfere with his delusions.

  81. ck says

    The most obvious solutions are to ban payday loans completely, or to set a legal maximum on the interest. The latter would probably put then out of business by setting the rate below the risk threshold.

    That’s always been the threat, but frankly I don’t believe it. This is an industry that preys upon people who have no other alternatives. There is little to no competitive pressure for these companies to do anything better than match the other payday loan company a few blocks away. I expect you could peg these companies’ maximum interest rate at something near what credit cards use and greatly limit the fees they can charge, and they’d still be very profitable enterprises.

  82. moarscienceplz says

    @#96 Gregory Greenwood

    I’m sure it’s just a typo, but it was Charles I who was executed, not Charles II.

  83. moarscienceplz says

    Apparently Ben Stein’s character of the clueless mouth-breathing High School teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was drawn from real life.

  84. says

    A Masked Avenger #88

    There is a catch-22 here: there’s a reason that some people can’t just use their credit card, or get a personal loan.

    There are many reasons that this may be the case, most of which have exactly fuck all to do with finances. Being black, for instance, is a very common reason for not being able to get a loan.

    The ones who have a credit card, probably don’t seek Payday loans.

    BZZZT!!!! Wrongo. Many people who seek payday loans do so because they’ve already maxed out their credit from other sources, like credit cards.

    The ones who do see Payday loans, probably can’t get credit cards, probably because they have bad credit, probably because they have a bad repayment history, probably because people loaned them money and then didn’t get paid back.

    Or because they have no credit history because either no commercial entity was ever willing to loan them money, or because they haven’t previously sought it out. I see a lot of assumptions here that you really ought to check before you start spouting off.

    IOW, much as we dislike the concept of usury, it’s true that anyone lending to those particular people is taking a substantially higher risk of never being repaid..

    Wrong again. The rich are actually as likely to default on loans as the poor; the middle classes are better about paying them off.

    If the rate were forced down below some (unknown to me) threshold, then defaulters would more than offset the interest income, and the lender would on average be losing money on every loan

    The relevant question, then, is where that threshold is relative to the usurious rates payday lenders actually charge in real life. (hint: It’s a whole lot lower).

    This raises interesting questions I have no answer to–for example, are there alternative, decentralized, social structures that can replace this?

    Yes. It’s called wage hikes, jobs programs, and a functional social safety net. Also helpful would be a ‘right to capital’ such as that proposed by Muhammed Yunus; a tax-funded program that guarantees every individual a zero-interest loan (or, indeed a direct subsidy to be repaid via later taxes) for use in starting an enterprise of some sort. Ideally this would be accompanied by support services such as those offered by business incubators, also paid for out of public funds.

    Such as a mutual-aid society that structures loans to break even?

    Or a social business like the Grameen Bank. Credit Unions are also an excellent plan, but the thing is that there needs to be a source of initial capital, which people who are relying on payday loans haven’t got, or they wouldn’t be. Starting them out with a direct subsidy wouldn’t be a bad idea, though.

    Or collateralized small loans for poor people? (Those exist already, and are called pawn shops, which have issues of their own.)

    Yes, let’s punish people even more for being poor. That’s a great plan.

    Can such loans be structured for better risk pooling in some way? Or is there literally no viable alternative beside some sort of government program, to fill the niche occupied by payday loans?

    As I said, wages and social safety nets would do wonders, as would a right to capital, such that so I guess the short answer is no. There is nothing that can solve the problems associated with payday loans other than government programs of some sort. Why do you imagine that there would be? What’s wrong with solving it through a government program?

    The most obvious solutions are to ban payday loans completely, or to set a legal maximum on the interest. The latter would probably put then out of business by setting the rate below the risk threshold.

    Bullshit. Regulators are just as capable of doing the math on those risks as the payday lenders are, and indeed laws that do precisely that exist in many states, and have somehow failed completely to put the payday lenders out of business despite their incessant whining and howling beforehand about how business would be impossible under such a regime.

    But I don’t know whether the folks who use these loans would thank us for taking them away as an option, without supplying a viable alternative. The niche exists precisely because today they lack alternatives.

    So maybe we should, I dunno, provide some fucking alternatives? Just a fucking thought.

  85. says

    Guys, Ben Stein was a speech writer for Nixon. His entire shtick has been selling bullshit for the highest bidder. He sounds like a parody because he doesn’t believe what he’s saying, he’s just hitting the greatest hits.

  86. carlie says

    NPR’s Code Switch had a piece about lending circles as an alternative to trying unsuccessfully to get a loan. Comments on the piece (on Twitter) indicated that this is common across many immigrant groups. Works well, except that it requires a group who all really trust each other and live in communities/cultures where trust is a high form of currency.

  87. mikeyb says

    The right are so fucking predictable. What Ben Stein says is no different that what a hundred other right wingers from Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Megan Kelly, etc etc etc have said thousands of times over and over again ad nauseam. The rich are virtuous and overtaxed, the poor are lazy and lack virtue, white males are the real oppressed minority and Jesus is the magical answer to finding peace, accepting your place in life at the bottom of the food chain, and shutting the fuck up about ever questioning the oligarchs that be. By sucking up to the rich, they figure they may get some private meetings with the likes of Sheldon Adelson or the Koch brothers. God forbid that they should ever think badly of them.

  88. knut7777 says

    After a family member had some contact with the guy, I have to conclude Ben Stein is one of the most self-loathing humans to ever walk the planet. So at least he is in agreement with the rest of us. I remember fondly Hitch, in his opening remarks to a debate, thanked the participants and wished them well, one being Stein. In fact he wished Stein good health and several long lives because that is what it would take to live down the ignominy of his role as a Nixon henchman.

  89. mikeyb says

    Let’s put it this way, Ben Stein makes Dinesh D’souza or Deepak Chopra sound intelligent by comparison. Were getting to Sarah Palin territory with this guy.

  90. ck says

    @knut7777,

    Unfortunately for Hitchens, the same could’ve been said for him and his support of Bush and his wars. The man had a way with words, but also massive blind spots that made him prone to support stupid things like that.

  91. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    “disastrously unfortunate appearance” = black?

    No, I think that would just be “disastrous”. Looking culturally black instead of just genetically black

  92. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    Of course, I meant: That would just be “unfortunate”.

  93. Akira MacKenzie says

    Sigh… The depressing shit is just how many people actually agree with this tripe and vote accordingly. Thanks to capitalism, religion, and environmental destruction, I don’t have a lot of hope for our future, folks. H. sapiens is screwed and there is nothing we can do about it.

  94. Useless says

    As usual, Stein is confusing the poor with indigenous Americans. How could he not know about Reagan’s speeches at Moscow State University in 1988 and the follow-up questions in a class (American history?) the next day? http://millercenter.org/president/speeches/detail/3416

    Most of the American press ignored it, and I had to look in an English-language Swedish newspaper to find it. Here’s what was covered in his prepared speech on the first day:
    “Q: Mr. President, I’ve heard that a group of American Indians have come here because they couldn’t meet you in the United States of America. If you fail to meet them here, will you be able to correct it and to meet them back in the United States?

    President Reagan: I didn’t know that they had asked to see me. If they’ve come here or whether to see them there? [laughter] I’d be very happy to see them.

    Let me tell you just a little something about the American Indian in our land. We have provided millions of acres of land for what are called preservations—or reservations, I should say. They, from the beginning, announced that they wanted to maintain their way of life, as they had always lived there in the desert and the plains and so forth. And we set up these reservations so they could, and have a Bureau of Indian Affairs to help take care of them. At the same time, we provide education for them—schools on the reservations. And they’re free also to leave the reservations and be American citizens among the rest of us, and many do. Some still prefer, however, that way—that early way of life. And we’ve done everything we can to meet their demands as to how they want to live. Maybe we made a mistake. Maybe we should not have humored them in that wanting to stay in that kind of primitive lifestyle. Maybe we should have said, no, come join us; be citizens along with the rest of us. As I say, many have; many have been very successful.

    And I’m very pleased to meet with them, talk with them at any time and see what their grievances are or what they feel they might be. And you’d be surprised: Some of them became very wealthy because some of those reservations were overlaying great pools of oil, and you can get very rich pumping oil. And so, I don’t know what their complaint might be.”

    If that wasn’t good enough, he continued the next day with the fact that all Injuns are millionaires who have blown their largess on firewater. He continued with his vast knowledge of cartoon Indians. There is no reason for any complaints because the Bureau of Indian Affairs takes such good care of them. Reagan didn’t look for any positive things to say such as Brother Randy White’s statement that “they’re good at sneaking up on people”.

    I’m afraid I have to agree with brother Ben. If Injuns were just more spiritual, they’d still be millionaires.

  95. rogerfirth says

    Ben Stein started off playing a pathetic joke of a human being in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and he’s taken that role to heart ever since.

    Life imitating art, ya’ know?

  96. says

    I think the comment about the looks refers to the fact that poor people don’t have 500 $ formal outfits, 200$ haircuts and 100$ manicures. I mean, really, if they could just look like they were well to do middle class on interviews then maybe they’d get jobs for middle class people. But noooooo, they run around in their cheap jeans and T-shirts and have their neighbour do their hair and apply nail polish themsleves so it’s their own damn fault if they don’t get the job, right?

  97. Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened says

    @Onamission5 #76

    Oh, the US has regional accents aplenty. It’s just that our tv people are coached out of any regionalisms, so that the generic US accent– which is really more of a central midwest accent than it is general to the population– dominates the media. My spouse speaks with a Maine accent (think boston: cah in havahd yahd, but with more nose and brass) and my region of birth is distinguishable by the way I say my O’s. Have you never heard any stereotypes about the way US southerners talk (stupidly, apparently, grr), or seen Fargo?

    Oh I’m aware the US has regional accents, I said relative lack. I remember reading somewhere (I cannot for the life of me find the source right now) that linguists recognise about 20 regional accents in the US, whereas in the UK there are hundreds. They’re also more specific; just in London, for example, it’s possible to tell an East Londoner from a South Londoner. South East London has a recogniseable accent, as does North West London. And I don’t mean dialect here; I mean the way they pronounce words, not the slang used.

    I get what you’re saying about the media though. Over here they like TV Presenters to speak in “Recieved English” (AKA The Queeen’s English), which is probably why most Americans think we’re all posh :)

  98. twas brillig (stevem) says

    Ben Stein started off playing a pathetic joke of a human being in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and he’s taken that role to heart ever since.

    Life imitating art, ya’ know?

    FTFY I am sorry, to paraphrase:
    blockquote>Ben Stein, a pathetic joke of a human being in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, has taken that to heart, and still is.
    after his role in Expelled, I think this is a more correct statement. Your original is too forgiving, I can’t forgive him after his participation in that piece excrement.

  99. sondra says

    Were to start on this one…Honey Boo Boo is still on the teevee, but Ben Stein isn’t.

    The wealthy do contribute to Ballet, Opera, Symphonies and they enjoy big tax deductions for doing it. They also enjoy all those things that most of the poor folk can never afford to go see because they can’t afford the tuxedos…or food.

  100. jamessweet says

    Rather than arguing against this Republican caricature of the poor as lazy and shiftless, my preferred tactic these days is to acknowledge that some people fit this caricature to a T (my experience, unlike Stein’s, seems to suggest that these are a distinct minority, but I know they exist because I know at least one, who has been a horrible thorn in my side for far too long… but I digress…) And so? What do we DO with these people? Because let me tell you — again from personal experience — that if you just let them twist in the wind with no support network, they don’t suddenly magically turn into non-lazy non-shiftless people. They just make life crappier for everyone else around them, and often end up costing society more in the long run than it would to just give them some basic social support.

    Not only is the Republican plan of “fuck the poor” unkind and uncompassionate and immoral, but it’s also naive and unrealistic. Not only do these conservatives assume the worst of people, but then they have no actual plan for what to do with the people for whom their assumptions prove true.

  101. ck says

    @jamessweet,

    Indeed. Other people’s problems don’t stay other people’s problems just because you don’t get involved in them. It doesn’t matter if it’s poverty, disease or something else entirely.

  102. vaiyt says

    Not only is the Republican plan of “fuck the poor” unkind and uncompassionate and immoral, but it’s also naive and unrealistic. Not only do these conservatives assume the worst of people, but then they have no actual plan for what to do with the people for whom their assumptions prove true.

    They do have a plan: let ‘em die of exposure, starvation or disease.

  103. =8)-DX says

    I think someone needs to sit Ben Stein down and explain cause and effect and feedback loops to him.

    There is no connecting mechanism between envy and greater productivity.

    I thought it was a basic tenet of conservative economics, that people work hard because they are selfish and want to have the same things as everyone else – they envy others of higher social status and work hard to rise up in the food chain.

    Consistency.. ah.