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politics and culture > Why is it wrong to CHOOSE to be poor?

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message 1: by Ed (last edited Dec 18, 2012 12:19PM) (new)

Ed Wagemann (EdWagemann) | 985 comments Tell me which one of these people is smarter:

Larry K. and George M. both live in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Larry K works part-time, 25 hours a week - making ten bucks an hour, so that he brings home about $1000 a month, which is about $12,000 a year.
$12,000 a year is below the poverty line for an individual.

In Illinois, this means that Larry K. qualify for food stamps. He also qualifies for free wi-fi and a free cell phone. On top of that Larry qualifies for CEDA assistance, in which $150 of his gas and electric bill are paid each month.
Lastly, Larry K will qualify for healthcare assistance so that he has no additional medical costs. Each year when Larry does his income taxes, he ends up paying nothing and in fact he gets a nice refund check.

George also makes $10 and hour, but he works 50 hours a week, which means that he makes $24,000 a year - which is above the poverty line. So CEDA doesn't pay his gas and electric bill, which means that he pays $1800 a year more than Larry in utilities. George also has to pay for his own phone, which is $600 a year and his own internet, which is $400 a year. George also does not get food stamps, which is another $3000 yearly expense that he has which Larry does not. Plus George has to pay $4000 a year in medical insurance that Larry does not have to pay.
And last of all, George pays more in commuting back and forth to work since he works twice as many hours a year as Larry does.

In the end, after all their living expenses are deducted, Larry and George have nearly the same disposable income each year.

But, before considering which of these persons is smarter, don't forget that Larry has 25 hours a week (plus communting time) more free time than George, which means he more than likely has much less stress in his life and certainly more time to pursuit hobbies, activities, interests, spend time with friends, family, love interests, eat healthier, and in general live an overall relaxing lifestyle at his own pace.
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http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1...


message 2: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 218 comments Mod
Larry is living off other people's money. Why doesn't that strike people as wrong? There are programs some people need, and that make sense. When it is a simple choice of not wanting to work more, that is not fair. So then George says, hey I want to do that also. So he does and so do a bunch of other people, who is going to pay the taxes to fund all the programs George and Larry use to live their lifestyles?


message 3: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 218 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "Here is the sorry sack of things:

Larry is, shockingly, an innovative thinker pouring his energy into finding all the little loopholes that allow him to extort the system.
In the black crevice of..."


It is not innovative to live off tax payers money. The wealthy top of the food chain Benjamins are still the ones supporting Larry's lifestyle no matter what loopholes they are looking to get out of.

Maybe Larry should focus his extra time and energy on becoming productive enough to be one of those top of the food chain types.

I get what you are saying about Larry taking advantage of his options, but people do not seem to get if we shun the wealthy for being wealthy and celebrate those who simply chose not to work because it is easier that way we will run out of tax money for people like Larry to live how he wants to.


message 4: by Ed (last edited Nov 19, 2012 09:55AM) (new)

Ed Wagemann (EdWagemann) | 985 comments Maybe Larry should focus his extra time and energy on becoming productive enough to be one of those top of the food chain types.

What if Larry rejects that notion because he thinks our entire system is wrong - he views our corporate-political system as wrong. He sees it as a system that rewards greed and encourages values that he does not agree with. So instead of contributing to the system, he does what little he can to work against it...

And maybe Larry thinks that the only way to make it to the top of the food chain is to buy into this corrupt system and sacrifice his soul. So it is not even worth making to the top of the food chain. Instead of focusing his time and energy on climbing the company ladder he prefers to paint, or go hiking, or volunteer at a youth camp or whatever...


message 5: by Tanjlisa (new)

Tanjlisa Marie (TanjlisaMarie) | 234 comments Ed Wagemann wrote: "What if Larry rejects that notion because he thinks our entire system is wrong - he views our corporate-political system as wrong. He sees it as a system that rewards greed and encourages values that he does not agree with. So instead of contributing to the system, he does what little he can to work against it...
"


That is fine and dandy that he wants to work against the system. But I do not think me as a taxpayer should have to pay for his lackluster ways. A lot of these programs need to be done away with. If you want to live bare-minimum style and go off and paint and read and whatever, that's fine. But then your life should reflect your choices. You should not be fed and taken care of by other people...unless such people directly take you into their homes and offer to feed and care for you. But my tax dollars taking care of the Larrys of the world...no way should that be happening. He's a human being, but those are his choices. I should not have to pay for his choices.


message 6: by Ed (last edited Nov 19, 2012 03:10PM) (new)

Ed Wagemann (EdWagemann) | 985 comments Well consider this, what if Larry doesnt see his view as a dangerous disgruntlement toward society, but a passive resistant attempt at bettering society.

And because of this Larry thinks that he is entitled to welfare and that he shouldnt have to work as much as everyone else. Afterall, he is not contributing to the evils of corporate consumerism like everyone else is. The materialism, the pollution of the environment, the burnishing of human rights are all things that anyone who wants to participate in the corporate consumer culture are contributing to.

So Larry thinks that people like him have a higher value to society because his ilk does not contribute to these corporate ills as much as everyone else. He thinks that his ilk should not be paying taxes for instance, because they leave a smaller carbon footprint on this Earth. THey recylcle, re-use and reduce while the corporate "clones" consume, waste and pollute.


message 7: by Tanjlisa (new)

Tanjlisa Marie (TanjlisaMarie) | 234 comments Then Larry needs to move to a communist country where the government can take care of his every need while he soaks in his hippie-isms.


message 8: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 218 comments Mod
A few years ago I moved and started a new job then lost the new job right after I signed a loan on a car. I could no longer afford some things like cable and internet. So I cut cable and itnernet. I quickly found another job, but still owed some money some places so I kept my cable and internet off. However, the taxes I was paying were going to people like Larry so he could have cable and internet. Why should he be able to afford things I cannot afford by using my tax money?

I think if someone chooses to be poor that is their choice. You want to reject consumerism? More power to you. Do it on your own dime. I have a friend that lives in a cabin in the woods that he built. He runs his own electricity and water to the cabin. He has a huge organic garden that he uses for food, and he hunts for meat. He does not take a dime in assistance even though he techincally lives way below the poverty line. THAT is rejecting consumerism. If Larry wants to reject consumerism he should reject money for given to him to be a consumer.


message 9: by Ed (new)

Ed Wagemann (EdWagemann) | 985 comments Ideally that would probablly be the best way for Larry to go...but wouldn't he be doing more to combat the corporate consumer system by draining it from the inside rather than by living outside of it?

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Tanjlisa wrote: "Then Larry needs to move to a communist country where the government can take care of his every need while he soaks in his hippie-isms."

Why would he want to do that when he can do it here in America, where his friends and family are?


message 10: by Tanjlisa (new)

Tanjlisa Marie (TanjlisaMarie) | 234 comments I really don't see how moochers (referring to the Larrys of America and not necessarily everyone who needs public assistance) is fighting commercialism. Larry is not only taking the money from corporations, but from everyday working citizens just trying to make an honest living and find their place in this world. I really am finding it hard to wrap my mind around the fact that grown people think other people should take care of them. If this is a widespread thought process, I think I am going to have to take up a cause to have public assistance reduced!! Assistance is just that, assistance. It should be cut off after a period and people should not be career, lifetime assistance recipients!


message 11: by Ed (new)

Ed Wagemann (EdWagemann) | 985 comments Tanj, do you also have a hard time wrapping your mind around the fact that guys who run around in their boxer shorts chasing a ball make millions and millions of dollars? Or that overfed loudmouth radio talk show and cable tv show hosts make millions to sit on their asses and spout nonsense? Or that wall street investors make multi-millions to do absolutely nothing but move their money around?

This is the society we live in. Why is it any more wrong for the Larry's of America to stake out their little piece of this nonsensical economic system than it is for the wall street fat cats or overpaid entertainers of America?


message 12: by Tanjlisa (new)

Tanjlisa Marie (TanjlisaMarie) | 234 comments I do have a problem that entertainers make more money than teachers. People can choose to stop listening to those shows and people can choose to stop putting so much value over entertainment versus education. Will it happen...I'm doubtful. I'm not saying it's more wrong for moocher Larry; I'm saying it's equally wrong. Which one would be easier to change? Cutting off moocher Larry. Because people loved to be entertained and hate being taxed. I could poll ten people right now and asked if they think teachers should be paid more. Eight out of ten would probably say yes. But then the hard follow-up question is are you willing to pay an additional sales tax or higher property tax to back up that statement. I don't know how many would agree. But moocher Larry living off my freaking taxes, oh yeah, he would be on the chopping block with shorter hesitation.

As far as Wall Street...people really don't pay attention to what they don't understand. So Wall Street billionaires will probably continue to get away with whatever.


message 13: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 218 comments Mod
Ed Wagemann wrote: "Tanj, do you also have a hard time wrapping your mind around the fact that guys who run around in their boxer shorts chasing a ball make millions and millions of dollars? Or that overfed loudmouth..."


Ed,
I have seen you make a case for Obamacare. I am partial to Obamacare. I do not think it is great for business or the economy, but I do not think that the Republicans had a better plan. This is what I am confused by. In this post you show a clear distaste for wall street fat cats and overpaid entertainers. I hear you on the entertainers. I cannot believe that The Jersey Shore Cast makes more money than teachers, police officers, and other important members of society. I also do not watch The Jersey Shore, or most cable for that matter.

Anyways, my confusion lies here. Why do we shun the rich that pay for the programs that people like Larry need to live their lives? Why are the wall street players so horrible if their tax money will be paying for things like Obamacare? I am not rich, and I do not hero worship the rich, but I know that the rich people are super important to our economy especially if we want all the programs that we keep voting for as a country.


message 14: by Ed (last edited Nov 19, 2012 09:07PM) (new)

Ed Wagemann (EdWagemann) | 985 comments Why do we need rich people in order to have fair, quality health care for all-americans? If there were no rich people, is it possible that it could be more likely that the US would have fair, quality health care? WHat are the obstacles that are preventing the US from having fair, quality health care? Couldn't the case be made that all of the obstacles have to do with the health care system being profit-driven? Couldnt the case be made that the problem with our health care system is that our society has come to value money and power to a unhealthy degree?

I mean what is so wrong with the idea that it is more important for everyone in AMerica to have quality health care than it is to have uber-rich people in our society? Would our society really crumble if basketball players and entertainers and wall street banksters didn't make mult-millions of dollars? WHat do the uber-rich contribute to our society? Why are they so valueable to us? Other than the mere fact that they have lots of money - why are they so important to our society? What are they contributing?

I mean if they arent really contributing anything, then why do they deserve to have more money, more opportunity, more advantages than Larry?


message 15: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 218 comments Mod
Ed Wagemann wrote: "Why do we need rich people in order to have fair, quality health care for all-americans? If there were no rich people, is it possible that it could be more likely that the US would have fair, qual..."

We need them for their tax money to pay for these beloved programs. How could we possibly afford to provide healthcare for the population, keep schools supplied, pay teachers and police officers fairly (we barely do that now with rich people), pay for welfare, pay for internet and cable for the Larry's of this world if we had less of a tax revenue than we have now?


message 16: by Ed (last edited Nov 19, 2012 10:02PM) (new)

Ed Wagemann (EdWagemann) | 985 comments Larry isn't getting cable tv - he's getting free wi-fi.

Jenny, getting rid of uber-rich people doesn't get rid of the money. The FED will still be circulating the same amount of money whether we have uber-rich people or not. Or at least that is how it is supposed to operate. We can't be for sure, because despite Dr. Ron Paul's efforts, the FED is not audited - which is something that REALLY needs to be changed and I hope Paul's bill to have it audited will get passed.

But my point is that supposedly the FED would still be circulating the same amount of money, only instead of it going to the uber-rich it would be circulated among the rest of society, small businesses in particular.

And this would actually be BETTER for our economy because the uber-rich have a tendency to take US dollars out of the country, they invest overseas, they hide it in off-shore bank accounts, and they Mitt Romney-ize it by moving american companies to 3rd world nations that do not recognize american standards of workers rights or environmental protection.

So getting the money out of the hands of the uber-rich and putting it in the hands of small businesses ACTUALLY keeps the american money on american soil which in turn INCREASES revenue.


message 17: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 218 comments Mod
Ed Wagemann wrote: "Larry isn't getting cable tv - he's getting free wi-fi.

Jenny, getting rid of uber-rich people doesn't get rid of the money. The FED will still be circulating the same amount of money whether we ..."


Right, I get what you are saying, but won't there always be super rich people? Even if the Fed is circulating the same amount of money, aren't some people going to end up with more of it than others? And shouldn't they? I agree that entertainers should not, but why can't someone who works two or three jobs or works a million hours a week at one job have more money than someone who simply chooses not to work much?

So, even if we get rid of all the super rich people we have now, won't other rich people just take their place? Then we have to shun them for working for their money yet tell them how to spend it?


message 18: by Tanjlisa (last edited Nov 20, 2012 06:22AM) (new)

Tanjlisa Marie (TanjlisaMarie) | 234 comments THAT IS NOT THE ROLE OF THE GOVERNMENT!!! Minus the trust fund riches, rich people are rich because either they made terrific business decisions or we as a society have placed entertainers as more important than other job series. IT IS NOT THE GOVERNMENT'S JOB TO REDISTRIBUTE WEALTH. WE DO NOT LIVE IN A COMMUNIST SOCIETY. If you think entertainers and teachers should switch the zeros on their paychecks, you have to change people's minds. But that is too hard, isn't it. So you rather rely on the government to come in and take the reigns. Well that's not their freaking job!! Tell people to stop watching these god-awful shows and find a way to get teachers more money!


message 19: by Ed (new)

Ed Wagemann (EdWagemann) | 985 comments Obviously getting rid of all the rich uber-people is not a possible or practical idea. My only point is that monetary and material wealth in our nation should reflect a higer set of values than what we are seeing in our current economic system.

Our current system values greed, selfishness, materialism, faux-celebrity and fame, half-ass entertainment, controversy for controversy's sake, and all kinds of nonsense.

While helping others is not rewarded in our economic system, nor is helping the environment, nor is being honest. Even hard work isn't fairly rewarded in our current system.

Why is this? What can be done about it? How can we change society so that monetary and material wealth reflect "better" values?


message 20: by Jenny (last edited Nov 20, 2012 10:46AM) (new)

Jenny | 218 comments Mod
Ed Wagemann wrote: "Obviously getting rid of all the rich uber-people is not a possible or practical idea. My only point is that monetary and material wealth in our nation should reflect a higer set of values than wh..."

Some very rich people donate to some very worthy causes. Bill Gates donates to all sorts of philanthropic children's causes. Stupid (and I genuinely mean stupid) Donald Trump donates big sums left and right. The Evil Koch brothers fund a huge portion of PBS.

We can never attempt to legislate or force charity or humanity, it is not a possibility. It is no longer charity or humanity after that.

However, I would agree that we need to teach the youth that being the next Snooki is not the ideal career. Monetary and material wealth can be separate from values. You can be super rich and have strong values.

Anyways, you have brought me around a little. I see what you are trying to say here, I just think it is impossible to tell people how to use their wealth to represent better values.


message 21: by Ed (last edited Nov 20, 2012 11:07AM) (new)

Ed Wagemann (EdWagemann) | 985 comments You are very open-minded to expanding your views, which is a commendable trait. Sometimes it is easy for people on the internet to get caught up in the tit-for-tat one upsmanship game and they end up sacrificing their critical thinking in the process. I have to constantly remind myself not to get cuaght up in that silly game.
:)
For the record, I dont have anything against rich people. I honestly dont. My problem is with a society that rewards, greed, excessive materialism, faux-fame, lame-ass entertainment, etc.
But I also dont knock myslef out trying to slap rich folks on the back for their TAX-DEDUCTIBLE charity donations that they use as photo ops and publicity boosts.


message 22: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 218 comments Mod
Ed Wagemann wrote: "You are very open-minded to expanding your views, which is a commendable trait. Sometimes it is easy for people on the internet to get caught up in the tit-for-tat one upsmanship game and they end..."

I do not think it matters if it is tax deductible or not. Bill Gates programs in Washington state has changed lives of young kids. I witnessed it. Who cares if it is tax deductible.

I try to open minded especially when it comes to political arguments because so few things are black and white. I become frustrated though when people shun the rich while living off them. The unfortunate thing about the lame ass entertainers that are rich is that we allow it. We (not I, I cannot stand some of those stupid reality shows) watch their shows, which brings in the ratings that give them a huge paycheck. I worked with at risk youth on a non profit literacy promotion program a while back and I spent so much energy telling the kids that it is better to be smart than to be snooki. I hope it got through to some of them!


message 23: by Ed (new)

Ed Wagemann (EdWagemann) | 985 comments Susan wrote: "Ed - a smiley face just doesn't look right in your posts. Just sayin'."

I have no idea about text messaging/discussion board edicate.
Is a smiley face kind gay?
If so, I'll edit it out immediately - I'm pretty homophobic, in case you didn't notice.


message 24: by Tanjlisa (new)

Tanjlisa Marie (TanjlisaMarie) | 234 comments lol. That is too funny. No, a smiley face is not gay. I just don't think she associates "happy" with you. lmao!!


message 25: by Ed (new)

Ed Wagemann (EdWagemann) | 985 comments Jenny, I honestly just do not understand why people on tv are paid so much and why Americans think this crap is entertainment.

To me a karoke bar is a billion times more entertaining than American Idol. A little league baseball game is a million times more entertaining than a major league baseball game. And chattin on a discussion board or with friends is a million times more entertaining than listening to the talk radio and cable tv pundits talk out of their asses.

And as for the state of mainstream tv shows - I swear to god, they make me want to vomit. The laugh track alone is reason to take a shotgun to your tv set. Then the repitition of idiotic commercials. Its mind numbing.

And I'm not trying to be some snob who turns his nose down at TV to be superior. Its that it honestly bores and annoys the hell out of me all at the same time. Its truly torture for me. And when I do watch football on Sundays, I have to mute the commercials, otherwise I would truly lose it.


message 26: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 218 comments Mod
Ed Wagemann wrote: "Jenny, I honestly just do not understand why people on tv are paid so much and why Americans think this crap is entertainment.

To me a karoke bar is a billion times more entertaining than American..."


WE AGREE!!!! I knew we could find some common ground, we have found some common ground in other threads also. Thanks for discussing this stuff with me because I swear my friends are simply unconcerned with any of it.


message 27: by Ed (new)

Ed Wagemann (EdWagemann) | 985 comments Susan wrote: "Here is the sorry sack of things:

Larry is, shockingly, an innovative thinker pouring his energy into finding all the little loopholes that allow him to extort the system.
In the black crevice of..."


Those at the top are counting on the idea that most people are cowards and want to travel the path of least resistance. Its amazing how much shit people will put up with just to "get along". I think Nazi Germany is a leading example of that.


message 28: by Craig (new)

Craig (cmckenne) Ugh. This thread seems designed for knee-jerk reactions. What hasn't been identified: what race are they? There are demographic barriers -- whether we want to see them or not -- that influence what people earn and how much they work. Additionally, there is no statistical evidence that "these people" are living off our money. If there are barriers in the way, then it is the job of the government to ensure equal protection of rights under the law for ALL citezens. Each individual regime has had its own way of accomplishing this, for good or bad.


message 29: by Ed (new)

Ed Wagemann (EdWagemann) | 985 comments Craig, I have no idea why you are bringing race into this. Totally not relevent. There is no reason to look at every issue in the world through the spectrum of race. Its totally a non-issue in this case.


message 30: by Jenny (last edited Dec 18, 2012 08:11PM) (new)

Jenny | 218 comments Mod
Craig wrote: "Ugh. This thread seems designed for knee-jerk reactions. What hasn't been identified: what race are they? There are demographic barriers -- whether we want to see them or not -- that influence what..."

Umm... if they are living off tax payer money aren't they living off our money? If there are barriers in the way, sure fine, lets help them out. But the question stated was that one of the guys simply did not want to work because it cost less to not work. I know some people think that our government can pay for everyone who simply does not want to work healthcare, food, electricity, cellphone, and internet, but is simply not possible.


message 31: by Craig (new)

Craig (cmckenne) Race absolutely matters because if we're talking one white guy and one black guy, or two black guys, the demographic data gets complicated by cultural/ societal issues beyond money. I'm just suggesting that, given the desire for complicated discourse, the scenario you proposed is not as complex or complicated as it actually is -- race included.


message 32: by Gary (new)

Gary | 134 comments Nobody really "chooses" to be poor. Certainly some people may give up trying to earn better, some people may decide that hours of back breaking work for a pittance is not worth it. They are not deciding to be poor, they are deciding that - for whatever reason - that they cannot do any better.

The right wing answer to this is to do everything in their power to stop supporting the poorest, to force them to work for less, but all this does is glut the work market and force wages down due to competition. This seems fine for corporations that can then cut their wages bill and maximise profits, but in the end it is self-defeating, because those reduced wages then reduce spending power and therefore reduce demand for everyone's products.

In the initial example, who are the actual winners here, the person who works, the person who doesn't or the corporations that can offer such poor wages that either option keeps the person in question on the poverty line? Meanwhile the truly idle moochers earn money hand over fist while lying on foreign beaches for tax reasons.

Plus the right-wing politician gets to claim that they have created more jobs by pointing out that their are now two people who are employed, even though its actually effectively one job shared amongst many. The right-wing are always talking about "jobs" for people, but never about whether those jobs are actually paid more than a poverty wage.

Meanwhile "tax" is not "our" money as in just people who pay tax, it is our society's money. A person on the poverty line may not pay tax, but they are part of the society that businesses profit from, that society's infrastructure, services, security are all part of what tax is for. In fact the 'captive market' of poor welfare recipients who form a large proportion of many businesses customers are also one of the things that is part of our society. This is why those people who get to claim more of the wealth of that society pay a larger portion of it to maintain that society. This isn't 'unfair' or poor people mooching off the rich, as the taxes are just a relative proportion of the wealth that they get to claim from society.

However, the story of the right tends to be in my eyes very selfish. People earn money and then assume that they deserve the money they are earning and people who earn less deserve less. This isn't really true. I doubt that a soldier risking his life for the defence of his country deserves less than a corporate executive who got the job from his family contacts. That isn't to say that everyone doesn't deserve the money they earn, they should however acknowledge that sometimes luck and background are often as important as hard work and enterprise. If it wasn't then you wouldn't have such low social mobility.

Again though, low welfare serves to depress the wages of the majority, low wages leads to low spending and low economic growth, no matter how "hard" people work. Therefore a few % higher tax on the people that can afford it in the short term is likely to feed back to them in a growing economy where the majority can afford to buy things and therefore jobs and wealth grows which then means more demand and cycles around to more wealth and more jobs.


message 33: by Ed (last edited Dec 19, 2012 08:19AM) (new)

Ed Wagemann (EdWagemann) | 985 comments Craig wrote: "Race absolutely matters because if we're talking one white guy and one black guy, or two black guys, the demographic data gets complicated by cultural/ societal issues beyond money. I'm just sugges..."

Race only matters to racists.
The point of the question is whether or not our economy has been so corrupted by the corporate poltical system that it makes trying to obtain the American dream worth it any more.


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