We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
A re-post of Shrinkwrapped's fine and thoughtful essay on the causes of poverty in prosperous and opportunity-filled places. He begins with a quote from Heather MacDonald:
A welfare mother in Central Harlem is not poor for the same reasons that a subsistence corn farmer in Mexico is poor. That’s just one of the many self-evident conclusions to emerge from a dangerously misguided antipoverty program begun by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2007. Bloomberg’s initiative, Opportunity NYC–Family Rewards, bestows cash rewards on (for the most part) single parents and their children if they act responsibly—by attending school, for example, or by working. Interim results for New York’s effort, which is modeled on a program in Mexico that targeted agricultural peasants, are now in. Not all of them are as blindingly obvious, though, as the fact that multigenerational urban poverty in America is far different from Third World rural poverty. One detail in particular stands out: that the lives of America’s underclass are characterized by a degree of disorganization that is rarely grasped or acknowledged. The implications of this revelation will be difficult, if not impossible, for the welfare industry to accept.
We have often discussed here that modern life is not only packed with opportunity, but that it is more demanding and challenging than that of the life of a serf on a Lord's estate or of a slave on a plantation. Freedom and free markets are part of what makes it challenging and worthwhile.
America is about opportunity, not security. That's why people want to come here. People who just want freebies go to England or Germany.
Perhaps this sounds like a heartless post during an extended recession. We believe in charity, but we also believe in holding people accountable for their fates and expect them to take charge of their lives as best they can. Furthermore, we do not view truckloads of money as the ultimate goal of life.
Those without socialist ideologies know that poverty in America is often temporary, often by life-style choice, sometimes by bad luck, and often because of dysfunctional life choices and/or character flaws and mental disability and illness.
Most people ARE peasants. They just want to be peasants with indoor plumbing and a dental plan and A/C and widescreen TVs to watch the gladiator games on.
I'm not insulting them (as I don't count myself as one), I'm just noting the propensity. In this country we have freaken HUGE numbers of people who stay in ONE job for decades. Even in these times. I knew this guy out in CA. During the HEIGHT of the tech boom he was the building maintence guy in an office complex. He was there when my company moved in, and when I knew him he'd been there 10 years. He was still there when I left. Had NO ambition to do any more with his life. He had his dental plan, a wide screen TV, and a screaming fast dirtbike that he took to the trails in his 2x foot RV on the weekends.
Yeah, maybe todays jobs require a bit more initiative than back when being the ox-handler was cush gig because in cold weather you could hang out in the barn with the ox, but when the work day is done most people still engage in the same pastimes--drinking, gambling and making babies. Or at least practicing baby making.
William O. B'Livion
I agree with Mr. O.B.. It seems that there are many assumptions made by the ruling class that the 'poor' think like the college-educated, upwardly aspiring minority that constitutes the so-called intelligensia. They just need the monetary means to join the midle class.
I've changed jobs several times in my career, looking for the better opportunity, sacrificing the known for the unknown. Sometimes the grass is greener, sometimes not, but the search for increased opportunity doesn't change. I've run across people, though, that had a 180-degree perspective on it.
Years ago, one person said she would never give up her accounting clerk posisition, because it was the first 'sit down' job she had. She wanted nothing more than a steady check, decent working conditions, and the ability to forget about work when she walked out the door at 5. Unfortunately, she often forgot about work before 5, as well.
Life, on a day to day basis, works fine for them. The thought of building for the future is less a concern. As long as they have the basics, and some toys, then all is right with the world. Except when it comes to voting for increased taxes on the evil rich folks in the corner office.
Impulsivity - the inability to delay gratification, is a driving force. It drives much single parenthood, incomplete educations, and inability to hold jobs.
There is a pathetic semi-logic of buying expensive things (or putting on a down payment) "because I have the money now, and I won't later." The underground market of the poor is composed of many promises that will never be fulfilled.
Rather like the sexual economy, actually.
Assistant Village Idiot