Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Differences In Attitudes

I thought this might be fun to discuss. I nodded in assent to some things, disagreed mildly with some, and disagreed strongly with others. However, my disagreements were often on the basis of a few individuals I knew who don't fit - and those may be only temporarily in the category. For example a person who currently has wealth but does not fit these descriptions may not remain there long.

I found myself automatically rooting for the Middle Class, but being intrigued by what the wealthy did in contrast. I note some general themes that show up in multiple rows in each column, which made me suspicious that the arguments are crammed into a previously-believed theory.  So in my usual way...

I wondered what Ruby Payne's data was for this.  It turns out there isn't any. So this is rather like reading horoscopes, without an occultic involvement.  Have fun with it.


james said...

I agree. It smells a little off. Does he know very many rich people?

Grim said...

I don't know any rich people, so I'm no judge of that part of the chart. But I have a hard time telling from this if I'm supposed to be poor, middle class, or rich. And there are a few -- education? -- where there's no option I recognize in myself. I know people who value education for reasons not listed, and for all the reasons listed.

Donna B. said...

That's going to take some thought... but first we have to define those categories don't we? And isn't that always the sticking point?

To me, poverty means your next meal is iffy and your last meal wasn't filling and you don't have a car. Middle class means all your needs are met, but they aren't met with gold-plated accessories -- ie, you drive a Toyota, not a BMW. Wealthy means you have a BMW to drive while your Jaguar is in the shop.

I have known rich people and (unless they are also celebrities) they are not that different from middle class, except that they worry about different things. The rich people I've known worry about losing their wealth, but they do not care very much about the things listed in that graphic.

Middle class people worry about the same thing -- losing what they have. I can't say the worry is any worse, but it's likely they actually have more to worry about.

Poor people do not worry about losing what they don't have. This is where the graphic strikes me as most true -- especially about money. They don't expect to have enough to manage or invest, so they are going to spend what they've got. Which makes sure they don't have any to manage or invest.

Noblesse Oblige made me laugh... I think that might be on it's way to a middle class thing or, most likely, tossed on the garbage heap as no longer relevant.

I'd like to see some actual research on the family structure category and money. Could it be that the difference between poverty and middle class is the dependability & presence of males? Poverty could be matriarchal because it has to be -- males aren't present. Half the work force is missing and it's the physically strong half. When you get to the wealthy class -- it's whoever is mentally capable enough to keep/make money, so male/female isn't that important.

RichardJohnson said...

Donna B
To me, poverty means your next meal is iffy and your last meal wasn't filling and you don't have a car.

Heritage Foundation Poverty Study: Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car, and 31 percent own two or more cars. [43% own their own homes.]

It was interesting that networking and connections were often mentioned as values the rich have, but not the middle class. Whether this is actually so, is another issue. It is also of note that one reason listed for attending an Ivy League school is for the networking- either to maintain or to improve one's social class.

Re Noblesse Oblige- seems to me that a progressive save-the-world mentality is at least partly based on noblesse oblige: "Those poor things need our help, cannot survive without our help."

terri said...

What a horrendously biased study.

Yes, poor people have food to eat. How much of it is provided to them through welfare and charities. Having food accessible but not really being able to provide it for yourself is poverty.

Yes. If adults in poor households worked 40 hours a week they would be less poor. Do you know how scarce full time work is, especially in sectors where the working poor work? Companies purposely keep employees to 30 or 29 hours per week to avoid having to pay benefits.

Poor people have cars. Why? Because a car is a necessity if you do have a job. Public transportation in most of the USA is horrible and most employers stipulate that their employees have "reliable transportation."

Having access to a phone is also required if you plan on working.

I could go on and on....

Being poor in the US is not the same as being poor in Haiti. I have no problem acknowledging that. But poverty is relative to the culture around you. Being poor in the US is not just about material is about the lack of opportunity to change your circumstances, the lack of control over one's present and future, and the inability to be self-sufficient...i.e. meet all of your material needs on your own.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ terri - largely agreeing. First, it's not a study. This seems to largely be her theories-in-the-air.

Secondly, poverty contains other components beyond the material. The poor generally live in dangerous neighborhoods, which is certainly a form of negative wealth, especially if one is raising children. Discouragement is another price to pay, especially if one is smart enough to know that it is realistic discouragement - that the opportunities to dig oneself out are not going to be abundant.

People make it through. They force, or stumble upon, or endure through to better situations. They develop emotional coping strategies that allow self-esteem despite poverty*. They adjust and pool resources or sacrifice for children they hope will do better. But it doesn't make it easy, and not everyone can do it.

*The psychiatry book/website F*ck Feelings is very good on this score.

Grim said...

On reflection, I think of "middle class" as that point at which one has enough wealth to devote to signalling effectively. The poor don't mow their lawns -- gasoline costs money, and the maintenance on a mower costs money. The rich hire it done. But the middle class guy is out there every weekend in the summer time making sure that his lawn is clean and squared away.

That's an imperfect example, because lots of people don't have grass or live in apartments where the landscaping is taken care of by the rent. But even there: the poor live in cheaply maintained places, so the rent can be kept low. Not so the middle class. That's the threshold, I think.

I don't know that it's a mindset difference, though. I think the poor are often ashamed of their poverty -- though some are not, and those will never cease to be poor. But many are. They just can't afford the pretense of not being poor.

RichardJohnson said...

What a horribly biased study.
Poor people have cars. Why? Because a car is a necessity if you do have a job. Public transportation in most of the USA is horrible and most employers stipulate that their employees have "reliable transportation."

I drive a beater. As far as I am concerned, I am as well off driving a beater- provided that it runs- as if I had a brand new Mercedes. Why do I think so? Because my beater gets me around as well as a brand new Mercedes. Transport for $2000 versus transport for $70,000 [or whatever a new Benz costs]- I see the Mercedes owner as a fool. [However, my Mercedes-owning brother-in-law is a nice guy. I am not about to tell him my opinion of his auto purchase. Though it is a nice car.]

I seek no pity for driving a beater, nor should any other person be pitied for driving a beater. The point about driving a beater is that it shows that one need not spend a lot of money to get the same result as someone else who spends a lot of money on transport.

The big problem with being poor in the US is not material goods, but the environment in which poor people live. High crime neighborhoods are not fun to live in.

Having taught in high poverty schools, my opinion is that the low academic achievement of poverty level schools is largely due to their students coming from a culture that does not value learning/education/reading what have you. That might be better phrased as schools being disrupted by a significant minority that do not value learning. One class I taught had two disruptive students who, it turned out, had chosen to transfer to the school. This was apparently a a school that attracted bad eggs and repulsed good eggs. The administrative solution was to send them back to their respective home schools. When they were transferred back to their home schools,and another disruptive student was sent to a stricter environment, behavior and learning significantly improved.

RichardJohnson said...

AVI, I believe that Terri was responding to the Heritage Foundation study I cited.

RichardJohnson said...

Another angle on the "poor" can be seen in their business extractions. I know two women, born in Mexico, who signed on to bad real estate deals. One purchased a unit from a businessman who sells real estate via owner financing for those who cannot get a standard mortgage. He does so by charging higher rates of interest. I don't necessarily fault her for dealing with him- he sells to a lot of people- and she probably could not have gotten a conventional mortgage. What made this a bad deal for the seller is that she purchased it for a price that was considerably above the appraised value for the unit at the time. She didn't stop to look at the deal in that way.

The second woman purchased her unit on some "rent to purchase" deal. When she sold her unit, nearly all of the increase in value went to the owner, not to her. If she had spend $200 on a real estate attorney to look at the deal, she could have prevented this. She isn't stupid- her daughter is a STEM graduate from a highly respected private university in New England- but she should have been more careful.

Both of these women from poor backgrounds assumed that simply because someone handed them a piece of paper to sign, that they would benefit from it.

terri said...


Your comments do not address my point. That link to Heritage makes much of the fact that poor people have cars. They probably drive beaters just like you do. It talks about they have food to eat, but not whether they are able to afford it themselves. It highlights that they have phones...OMG phones! Don't poor people know that they are not allowed to have communication devices to call 911!

The whole premise of that "study" and I think of your later comments is that poor people aren't really poor, and if they are poor it's because they are stupid, lazy, shallow people

I call BS on your anecdotes. I find it interesting that you have to mention that these women are "from Mexico." if we are supposed to understand that this piece of information means something significant. I know plenty of non-poor, non-Mexican people who are incredibly naive and have made some stupid decisions in their lives. Because they start out with a little extra in the bank, they can sometimes weather bad decisions here and there. The poor don't hold a monopoly on being manipulated and not knowing how more complex legal/financial situations work. Last I checked Madoff made his money off of wealthy clientele.

This type of thinking really infuriates me because the subtext is that poor people are lesser and wealthier people are greater. This same thinking is what leads many people to believe that Trump must be a genius and great leader because he's rich.

Wealth does not equal superiority of mind, morals, or leadership.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Terri - A little too much mind reading on what other people must mean. I wanted to stay with you for your fair points, but by the time you dragged in Trump - oh, sure, it's all exactly the same thing, put all the people who disagree with you into the same basket - you completely lost me. And your last line suggests that others are making moral claims for wealth per se - which isn't really fair to others.

terri said...

How is it not the same thing? The chart you have is supposed to be pointing out characteristics of people based on their levels of wealth/class. It is not in the same realm as that spurious Heritage link....but it isn't exactly a totally different animal either. But my comments aren't spurred by that chart.

As far as "too much mind reading" goes. I'm not mind reading. I am responding to direct comments made by Richard. He is responsible for the things he links to and says. I'm not making my points up out of whole cloth. I am using the very material he set before this blog's readers.

Is there some other way to interpret his comments or the Heritage study? What's the bottom line in what it is supposed to be conveying? What's the take-away from it?

Further, it's rather rich to be accused of "too much mind-reading" when a large percentage of posts and comments on this blog are made up of nothing more than mind-reading. I'll stop my "mind-reading" once everyone else here does so.

My comments about Trump are an example of what I have heard actual people in real life say about the justification for supporting him. They equate his wealth with the idea that he must be doing something right. Success in business is seen by many people as evidence of good leadership and trustworthiness.

AVI, you know that I have read your blog for years. I don't blog or comment much at all anymore for many different reasons. I only comment in disagreement when I am particularly riled by something. I am sometimes disappointed by the unchallenged assumptions that show up here. I wonder if anyone here would have taken Richard to task about this if I hadn't...or would that link have gone unremarked upon? Would there have been a collective,"Seems legit to me," response or none at all?

I live, work, and rub shoulders with people who would be classified as "poor" every single day. Reading these broad, negative remarks about them sickens me....and it always seems to come wrapped in a subtly implied but never directly stated, "Thank god we're nothing like that. We're good, smart, hardworking people who make good decisions."

There really is nothing more that I can say on this subject without further inflaming the situation. My response is mild to what I actually feel in this regard. My reaction is not really even one of mostly anger, though there is some of that. It is sadness and disappointment that I feel. Knowing that so many people really, truly, and unashamedly believe this shit is what gets to me.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I might go for a long, thoughtful post here, but Terri, my first thought here is to pull rank on you. I am not talking theory here, but referring to the parents of my fifth son, who believed they should have nice things because other people had them, and so bought what they could not afford. We have had a long hard slog unteaching that value and stressing that bad decisions lead to poverty, and poverty can tempt you to bad moral decisions. Because that is true. And there are lots and lots of people out there who think that, and I know them.

You know some poor people. Whatever. I grew up poor and have spent my life working with the poor. I am in their homes and I know their decisions. No one here is saying that the wealthy are virtuous and wise - only that many of the poor make bad decisions. You are drawing the unwarranted conclusion that because people report that the poor sometimes make bad decisions, that they are therefore saying that all of the rich must of course be making really good, moral presidential ones.

It's a nice thing to defend decent people who happen to be poor. It's the Lord's work and you shouldn't desist. But flipping that over isn't warranted.

RichardJohnson said...

The whole premise of that "study" and I think of your later comments is that poor people aren't really poor, and if they are poor it's because they are stupid, lazy, shallow people.

I would agree with you that the study makes the claim that being poor in the US isn't that bad, backed up with considerable data. From what I have seen in Latin America,I would agree with that claim. You do not. So be it. [Refer to my previous statement that living in high crime neighborhoods has a greater negative impact on the poor than lack of material goods.]

I fail to see where the Heritage Foundation study has a premise that "they are poor it's because they are stupid, lazy, shallow people." It does correctly point out that fatherless households are a contributor to poverty. [I would add that the two women I discussed are very hard workers. One is from Monterrey.That figures.]

Teri, undoubtedly not only the poor make poor financial decisions. I have made more than my share of poor financial decisions. I would not have been a better person had I made better financial decisions, but I would have been better off. My point is that had they made better financial decisions, they would have risen further from their origins of poverty. I was also trying to make the point that they got taken advantage of. I am reminded of the kindly grandfather of a neighbor who as a real estate agent participated one of the sales, without any warning to her that she was purchasing well above appraised value. A commission is a commission.

The wealthy seller of the over-valued property is not one of my favorite persons. Long story there, but it had a good ending for me.

If you don't make enough good financial decisions, you will not rise from the poor. Similarly, if you make too many poor financial decisions, you will fall from the wealthy. Ashes to ashes, as they say. A childhood friend of my brother, whose ancestors made savvy investments in the China trade and with Alexander Graham Bell when he was in startup mode, illustrates that very point. The financial tale was but a sideshow of the sad decline.

Having worked in Latin America, I have seen poverty much worse than that in the US. I have observed that students whose parents were born in Mexico or Central America tend to be much more motivated in school than their English as a first language counterparts. That has given me a view of poverty in the US that may not agree with you, but which agrees with my experiences.

I call BS on your anecdotes. I find it interesting that you have to mention that these women are "from Mexico." if we are supposed to understand that this piece of information means something significant

Había contado que ellas eran de México porque charlaba con ellas en Castellano algunas veces cada semana por 8 años. Pienso que ellas no tenían mucha experiencia con asuntos financieros comparados con ellos nacidos en los EE.UU. Nosotros nacimos con charla de los treinta años para pagar la casa.

Teníamos un vecino que era perjudicado contra personas de origen Mexicano. Pasaba yo bastante tiempo defendiéndolas.

Conozco alguien nacido en Mexico quien, ya que está jubilado, se ocupa con la gerencia de sus catorce propiedades.

Si puedes leer Castellano, recomendo Patria o Muerte por Alberto Barrera Tyszka.
¿Vos me entendés? Si no, siempre hay Google Translate.


terri said...

No necesito "Google Translate." Puedo leer tus comentarios.

Writing them in Spanish doesn't mean they come with added value. This was a post about poverty. You are the one who brought their nationality into it. It is a very different thing to say that someone was taken advantage of because they are from another culture and that is part of the reason they made a bad decision. That is a completely different argument.

You know of some Mexican people and defend them to racists..great. I spend my day helping community college students from all over the world: Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba , Honduras, the Phillipines, Vietnam, Haiti, Egypt, Jordan.....The list goes on and on. Most of them don't have much money and are struggling to complete their classes and work and get this English thing down. I also work with local students who are white, black, hispanic, etc. Many of them are non-traditional students who are doing their best to complete an AA degree while working, raising kids, and taking care of aging parents. These are people who are doing their very best, but life happens. Their parent or kid gets in a terrible accident and the car used for transportation is totaled and now there is health, monetary, and organizational stress that has to be dealt with. A health emergency and the costs associated with it can put them behind the 8-ball for years.

The examples being provided are somehow supposed to show that poor people are poor because they make bad decisions...the implication being that they are stupid, naive, whatever.


There is no "rank" to pull. Your comments are condescending and if you are the only person who can look at the situation and make a correct judgement here because, as you put it ,"you know some poor people. Whatever." That sword cuts both ways. You don't possess some inherent authority that makes your experiences more valid and true simply because they happened to you.

The examples/analyses presented so far which are supposed to be objective all come with a point of view attached to them. I highly suspect that they were created with the point of view already in place before anyone went searching for confirmation of it. Funny thing...people looking for evidence after their point of view is in place always find it.

It's a nice thing to defend decent people who happen to be poor. It's the Lord's work and you shouldn't desist.

Wow. That's the type of thing someone says to an idealistic kid with a knowing look, patting them on the head, unwilling to disabuse them the of their childish nobility even though they think it isn't based in reality. Did you mean that comment in any other way?

As far as my comments about Trump go....they are tangential. I bring them in because they are loosely related to my other points and I have heard them from the same kind of people who like to disparage the poor. Do they apply to all Trump supporters, or all people? No they do not. There is overlap though.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Nope. Never said I was the only, never implied it. You made sweeping generalisations and I asserted that I knew many counter-examples personally that accorded with the statistics.

You are in no position to rail against condescension on this thread.

As for bringing preconceived ideas to the data, that cuts both ways. I will revert to one of my longest-standing ways of looking at argument. The people who are arguing against you are making allowances, acknowledging exceptions, seeking places of possible agreement while maintaining their general position. You, on the other hand have been 100% correct from start to finish. That's always a bad sign.

terri said...


Acknowledgements and allowances came after I made a point of railing against that Heritage link. I took Richard to task for his later comment, in which there were no acknowledgements or allowances either. I haven't argued against your original post or anyone else specifically other than responding to what you've said in the aftermath of my comments. If you want to criticize what I have to say, let's at least look at the timeline and how things evolved.

I haven't claimed to be 100% correct about anything. I objected to what the Heritage link was implying about the poor in general. Your response to me has been nothing but criticism of my tone and how it comes across. There has been little to no response to the actual substance of my comments and my disagreement with what is underlying that link and some of the comments involved in the conversation. Instead, it seems as if you would rather argue about how the argument is occurring and what the very idea of arguing my point of view means about me...which is really nothing more than ad hominem.

I could do what I see so many people do...state a one sentence acknowledgement and allowance about how I could be wrong and then afterward write 50 sentences pretending that acknowledgement doesn't exist....because I really don't believe the acknowledgement or think it is so rare that it is barely worth mentioning and probably doesn't exist. In other words, I could use the acknowledgement as some sort of polite cover to pre-empt attacks on my argument and give me an escape route that maintains some appearance of considered acquiescence to the other side.

I find that approach disingenuous even though it is used frequently.

I am incensed about what seems to be underlying that link and this discussion. Even in your response to me I notice that you say "decent people who happen to be poor" and not "decent poor people." It makes me wonder if you think that a decent person being poor is undergoing an unfortunate trial, rather than assuming that perfectly decent people can be and are poor. And notice the fact that "decency" is even mentioned at all. It's mentioned because throughout this whole conversation there is an association being made between moral and intellectual values, or the lack of them, and poverty.

You can think I am crazy, liberal, unrealistic...however you want to characterize me is up to you. Feel free to try and set up what I am saying as unfair and impolite and unreasonable.

All I want is someone to honestly answer the questions I posed about that link and some of these comments. Do you and your commenters believe that, in general, being poor is a direct result of character flaws? Do you believe, in general, poor people are poor because they somehow deserve it? What is the purpose of the Heritage link and what do people think the take-away of it is?

If, in general, people believe that, then I reiterate that it saddens, disappoints, and angers me greatly.

If you truly believe that defending the decent poor is the Lord's work....then why aren't you doing it?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

The Heritage study focuses on the level of deprivation the poor experience, compared to other countries, and to fairly recent times. It notes that the poor work fewer hours than others, but other than that does not much talk about whether people deserve to have those things or not. I think the underlying tone which you detect was preloaded. The article includes:

"Of course, the living conditions of the average poor American should not be taken as representing all the poor. There is actually a wide range in living conditions among the poor. For example, a third of poor households have both cellular and landline telephones. A third also have telephone answering machines. At the other extreme, however, approximately one-tenth have no phone at all. Similarly, while the majority of poor households do not experience significant material problems, roughly 30 percent do experience at least one problem such as overcrowding, temporary hunger, or difficulty getting medical care."

That seems to back away from generalisation pretty strongly. There is also reference to first and second generation immigrants who are poor, a group which does not tend to remain poor, and has generated good decision-making at least once by coming here to improve their lot somehow. I didn't detect any blame attaching to them, simply noting that poverty in America is not as advertised. That was the repeated theme, that the poor are not destitute, likely geared toward countering political plans that trade on painting a picture of destitution.

We have had in the comments that fatherlessness is also a contributing factor, which does suggest bad decision-making on someone's part. I absolutely do add in that some of the poor have made bad decisions, some of them moral decisions, which has created or added to their poverty. Crime can make you go to prison, and prison makes you poor. That doesn't mean that the poor are criminals, but that criminals end up poor. Some people can keep their jobs, money, and lifestyle while using drugs, but the odds are against it, and many of those sink into poverty. It's one of the added problems of being poor, is that such people are your neighbors. There is also a tendency toward impulse-buying that is greater than in the middle class. This has been amply studied and I have seen in as a shared cultural norm many times.

That does not mean that the poor in general are deserving of it - "deserving" is a tricky word even if poverty were always and entirely the result of bad decisions. Nor does it mean that the poor in general have bad cahracter. You are reading those generalities into other people's comments, and that is why I accuse you of mind-reading. It simply means that a greater percentage of the poor have made bad financial decisions or have cultural habits that don't lend themselves to getting out of poverty. How could it be any other way?

I have no idea what your distinction is about "decent poor people." I notice that your next sentence only reinforces the idea that you have some theory about what my motive is. I know there are some people out there who have the bad attitude toward the poor that you describe, but you have applied it broadly. The people I encounter who judge the poor most harshly are the almost-poor, who are struggling along under burdens, working extra hours, and resenting people who seem to not be trying as hard. Much of that criticism may be unfair or oversimplified, but I'm not willing to make the resentful almost-poor my first target for anger.

I am done. I will read any replies but will not comment.

RichardJohnson said...

You are the one who brought their nationality into it. It is a very different thing to say that someone was taken advantage of because they are from another culture and that is part of the reason they made a bad decision. That is a completely different argument.

I fail to see the validity of your word parsing. Because they came from a different nation, they implicitly came from a culture different from middle class America. Perhaps I should have previously stated something like "from a non-middle class Mexican background" to mollify you. Guess what: I already did. READ WHAT I PREVIOUSLY WROTE : Both of these women from poor backgrounds.. Which is another way of saying "from another culture," is it not? Whatever. Moreover, that was from my initial comment about the two women.

I also pointed out I knew someone born in Mexico who had become rather prosperous in the US.

Most houses in Mexico are paid with cash, not from a mortgage. This means that most Mexicans who come to the US and purchase a dwelling have no previous experience with the mortgage culture as we do in the US- which does make them more likely to get taken advantage of regarding mortgage contracts.

IOW, your above quote is total nonsense. Puras boludeces. For those who don't speak Spanish: total nonsense. Or in the vernacular, B.S.

The examples being provided are somehow supposed to show that poor people are poor because they make bad decisions...the implication being that they are stupid, naive, whatever.

I intended to show that poor decisions will tend to keep people in poverty. Are you going to inform me that poor decisions will NOT tend to keep people in poverty? I think not. However, the "implication" is merely your projection. I merely stated that they made bad decisions which didn't help them move out of "poverty." NOTHING MORE. You are putting words into my mouth.

I also pointed out that I had made bad decisions. I pointed out a childhood peer from an advantaged background who had made bad decisions- though in his defense previous generations of his family had also made bad decisions which helped fritter away the family fortune. You stated I made the "implication" that that those two women "are stupid, naive, whatever" for having made bad decisions. By the same token, you could also state that I made the "implication" that and my brother's childhood friend, for having made bad decisions, "are stupid, naive, whatever." Interesting.

Regarding implications, I recall a discussion I once had with a work colleague. I stated that a comment he made showed that he was ignorant about the subject being discussed- which was correct. He raised his voice to inform me that by calling him ignorant I was also calling him "a stupid good-for nothing so-and-so," which did not please him. We went to a dictionary so I could show him what "ignorant" meant. He agreed with me that the definition of "ignorant" stated nothing about being "a stupid good-for-nothing so-and-so." We need to be careful with implications.

Writing them in Spanish doesn't mean they come with added value.
You are correct. However, that is not why I wrote them in Spanish. I wrote in Spanish to show my general contempt for your "getting on the high horse" comments.
What you more recently wrote does not diminish my general contempt for your comments. Not at all. ¿Vos me entendés? For those who do not speak Spanish: You unnerstan'?

If you consider me over the top for using "contempt" and "boludeces" to describe my reaction to your comments, I would point out that you previously wrote " I call BS on your anecdotes."

Donna B. said...

terri -- what I got from the Heritage article could be restated as "there are poor people and then there's poverty and they arent' the same thing". And our government (for example, census) is doing both groups a disfavor by lumping them together and creating policies that do not distinguish between the two groups. Not distinguishing between the two groups means that those in poverty, those in the most severe need are short-changed.

Richard Johnson posted the Heritage link in response to my comment "To me, poverty means your next meal is iffy and your last meal wasn't filling and you don't have a car." I took his linking of that article as a way of pointing out to me that our government doesn't think of poverty the same way that I do. I took it as an explanatory link, not a disparaging one. Obviously, you took it differently.

DOuglas2 said...

Perhaps it reveals my biases, but when I look at the "poverty" column, in so far as I spot a value judgement in the text there, I see humanistic attitudes attributed to the poor. When I look at the middle-class and wealth columns I see mercenary and materialistic attitudes. So much of the discussion between terri and Richard above is mystifying to me.

In my early 20's one of the things I brought into the commune I joined was a 4-year-old car. I had spent a long time in the library copying price data from used-car offerings in old newspapers and entering it into Lotus123 in order to calculate expected depreciation, and worked out that (at that time) there were two knees in the depreciation curve. One could minimize total cost of ownership by buying a 4-year old car and selling it when it was 9 years old. From age 0 to 3 and once it hit 10, the depreciation curve was steep, but from age 4 to 9 depreciation was minimal, assuming you kept the car in good condition.
I was furious when one of my fellow communards who was using the car finished a painting job and then just got into the car to drive home, while still in his wet-paint covered clothes, transferring paint to the doorframe, handles, steering wheel, and seats. This came out in our commune's weekly air-all-your-grievances meeting, where the consensus of everyone except me was that I was being entirely unreasonable, as only vanity would make me care what the car upholstery looked like, and who ever heard of selling a car that was still working just because it had reached some arbitrary age? I couldn't know that it might, if in good condition, net $3000 towards purchase of the next car-How could I know it wouldn't be wrecked or have worn out its engine by then-this was considered an unknowable, and probably just something from my imagination as justification for what I only wanted to do because of pride.

This was part of my early life-education in the fact that different subcultures had different unwritten "rules", along with a girl friend who was aghast that I would even consider buying the "store-brand" of anything from the supermarket, as we were not poor and did not need to deprive ourselves of the superior quality that a brand implied.

I began to internalize that "different is different, not right or wrong" after seeing that for a majority of my household, my unwritten assumptions about the right way to do things were considered wrong/extravagant/prideful, and assuming too much knowledge of what the future might bring. I also began to observe that intimate relationships which crossed these invisible subcultural lines were full of strife that didn't seem to appear so frequently in marriages and business partnerships where there was more commonality in the unwritten rules. A recent study where it was reported that having matching credit scores is a great predictor of having a lasting marriage just reinforced this notion for me-the attitudes that lead to behaviours that lead to credit scores are examples of "the rules". Acknowledging this doesn't imply that a high credit score is a virtue.

terri said...

I don't have time to delve into this today, but I want to do it at a later time. So here is a brief bit.

The Heritage Foundation is a partisan group. They have a specific version of conservatism that they promote.
The Heritage paper which was linked is dubious. If you don't believe me, go to the references used at the end of the paper and try to independently verify the claims the author makes and the statistics they use. Good luck with that.

Here's one example of how they lie with statistics(statistics I still haven't been able to verify). When discussing food security or shortage, they compare apples to oranges. They go back and forth between discussing people in poor households and people in all households. For instance, they say:

For example, across the whole U.S. population, in a given month, one child in three hundred will skip a meal because of the family's lack of money for food. One child in a thousand will go a whole day without eating for the same reason.

But that isn't the point. The discussion is supposed to be about what poor households experience. If you are trying to make the point that poor children hardly ever really go hungry you can't count the stats of the entire population.

Secondly, many of the references can't be located.

Thirdly, many of the references have notes stating that Heritage Foundation did some calculations based on various charts. this is a problem because they cannot independently verify their stats and they neglect to explain how they made the calculations. They do not list their methods. This is a major problem.

Fourthly, many of the references are self-referential. The author refers to other papers he's written for Heritage in which he makes similar claims. He does this 7 times. You can't quote yourself as a source of independent data and authority, unless you have actually done some independent scholarly research, done actual studies, presented your work for peer review, etc. You can't quote your previous opinion pieces as evidence for objective claims.

If you are writing a paper all of your information should be able to be located and independently verified. Anyone should be able to read through references to the work you are citing and be able to find it themselves.

At this point I would say that we are arguing about facts which may not even be facts, which is disturbing to say the least. How many people will take this paper at face value? Probably many.

And...this relates to the original post. A chart was provided for discussion with a great big disclaimer that there probably wasn't any actual hard data or analysis behind it, and that it was about as valuable as horoscopes. And yet, even saying that it probably didn't mean anything the discussion continued as if it might be credible.

Why? Why discuss a topic that has no credence as if it does? The answer to that question and what it makes me personally wonder about what was underlying the discussion is the root of my frustration.


I have been direct and confrontational, not condescending. I have been so because I felt the need to disagree loudly and firmly about where that Heritage link goes.


I really don't care if you have contempt for me or my comments. If I knew you in real life and thought you were occasionally prejudicial in your comments, I would probably roll my eyes, hold my tongue and move on. I didn't do that here because there is difference between someone making a passing comment I disagree with and someone actively promoting a point of view (through that Heritage link) that I believe is unjust and dubious.

I have said all that I have to say from my personal point of view and my opinion. I don't regret what I have expressed in that regard.

RichardJohnson said...

Teri, I take it that you have nothing to say about my response to this comment of yours:
You are the one who brought their nationality into it. It is a very different thing to say that someone was taken advantage of because they are from another culture and that is part of the reason they made a bad decision. That is a completely different argument.

I can understand why you don't, because you got thoroughly Fisked.