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Author Topic: Poverty  (Read 27604 times)
mike62901
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« on: June 28, 2007, 9:03:25 PM »

Re: What Keeps Poor People Poor by Charles Karelis 
From the issue dated June 29, 2007

Apparently Professor Karelis has never been hungry. His article was bizarre. He assumes he is right and continues form there. (I'd walk the last mile for exercise.)  Do economists actually debate why people without money do not have any savings? 
« Last Edit: July 01, 2007, 11:33:25 PM by moderator » Logged
yellowtractor
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« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2007, 9:08:08 PM »

Good grief, but this is incredibly, mind-bendingly bad.

Quote
Huck Finn gets more satisfaction on balance from floating down the river on a half-empty stomach than from working all day to put food on his table. But so what? Eccentricity is not irrationality.

It's not voodoo economics, it's Dada economics.  Or at least I feel better about it when I think about it this way.  Otherwise I feel angry.
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anthroid
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« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2007, 9:22:22 PM »

This guy is just repeating the standard lines from American culture about why the poor are poor and why it is, essentially, nobody's fault but their own.

Hey, I have a radical idea:  the poor are poor because they have no money.  If they had money, they wouldn't be poor.  Of course, if they had money (say, through the institution of a national living wage), the rich would be less rich though still mighty darn rich.

But how can you discuss anything with someone who says:

"For the very same reason, we should expect serious poverty to weaken theinvestment motive for saving, including the willingness to invest in education."

As Mike said, how in the world do you invest or save if you don't have enough cash for bus fare? 

Perhaps if this guy actually dealt in data and what people actually do rather than supposing what they might do (hey, here's a notion:  ASK THEM), he might have a better handle on what remains a serious problem for this country.
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yellowtractor
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« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2007, 9:25:57 PM »

(hey, here's a notion:  ASK THEM)


He would undoubtedly reply that this is not "data," this is "anecdote."  (begins revving tractor engine, lighting torches)
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goldenapple
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« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2007, 11:19:27 PM »

So I though, "Hey, who is this Karelis guy?" and then I looked him up. It turns out that this particular "economist" is actually a professor of philosophy. Now we know why there's no data in his argument. Here's how his publisher describes his sources:

Using science, history, fables, philosophical analysis, and common observation, Charles Karelis engages us and takes us to a deeper grasp of the link between consumption and satisfaction—and from there to a new and persuasive explanation of what keeps poor people poor. Above all, he shows how this fresh perspective can reinspire the long-stalled campaign against poverty.

Charles Karelis is Research Professor of Philosophy at The George Washington University. Formerly professor of philosophy at Williams College, director of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, and president of Colgate University, he lives in Washington, D.C.


He uses science and fables! And takes us deeper! What we're getting deeper into, well, that I leave to you to decide.
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dr_stones
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пошлите законоведами пушки и деньг


« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2007, 8:53:42 AM »

Then do what Jesus suiggested in the book of Luke . . . find someone poorer than you, divide your wealth in half, and give it away to them.  If everyone does it . . . 
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"History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme." Samuel "Steroid Free" Clemens
wannabeprof
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« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2007, 2:44:09 PM »

I'm sort of upset, but sort of grateful, that I'm not on campus and can't read the full article.  Even from the first paragraph it's upset me.  What about generational wealth?  Lack of homeownership or --worse-- your parents or dependents not having assets is much more difficult than just not putting aside money for a rainy day.
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11193366
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« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2007, 8:01:30 AM »

Articles like this infuriate me. What keeps poor people poor is that America is based, fundamentally, on an underclass because it is a capitalist society. Who would clean the homes of the rich, service their cars, serve them food, work in their Wal-Marts without the obliging poor? These jobs and even better paying jobs DO NOT pay enough to support families. There is no way at all period to save when you make so little money. I am so tired of hearing this smug advice from capitalists with ample resources. If a poor person made $100,000/year at their job, no doubt they would save as much as the next person.

Even two low-paying jobs are never going to be enough to buy the dream house, maintain a car, pay for health insurance, fund day-care, pay for food, etc. But the hope for this kind of demented dream sure keeps the working class and the poor working hard! Good news for business owners everywhere.

Any kind of rambling intellectual discourse on this topic is b.s. The truth is plain and simple: all jobs should pay a living wage. There is no reason why the man who changes our tires should be less able to support his family than the physician. Both jobs are needed, both humans are worthy, both deserve the same quality of life. This kind of thinking takes a major leap for those of us raised in America to hold one type of job in higher esteem, and therefore one class of people in higher esteem, worshipping money above all else and persistently allotting it to the same families in the middle and upper classes.

There is very little social mobility in America--it's a myth. For many poor women, taking off their clothes and having sex with strangers affords their best chance for making a living and allowing time with their children. Oh happy coincidence for all the wealthy men who have money to spend and the desire for extramarital sex.

All of this is no accident; it's exploitation of an underclass of human beings right here in America.

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georgia_guy
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« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2007, 10:21:49 AM »

There are so many flaws in your arguments that I am not sure where to start.

First, this whole "tire changers should make as much as doctors" argument is ridiculous. I can change my own tires if needed. It does nto take that much skill. I cannot however, remove my own appendix, nor would I give you the opportunity to try.

Second, if tire changers and doctors made the same, why would anyone bother with 10 years of college, and then the constant risk of lawsuits and diseases, when they can make the same money changing tires? There would be very few doctors, and too many tire changers.

Of course, I have lived exactly the type of life that you declare to be a myth. As a kid, my family was poor, wore second hand clothes, slept in second hand beds, in a rented hovel of a house, and considered any kind of meat with meals, even hotdogs, to be a treat. I've worked as many as THREE jobs at once, one of them washing dishes in a barbeque restaraunt, the second scrubbing and painting boat hulls, and the third stocking shelves at night at a Winn Dixie. Now, 20 years later, I have three cars, a net worth approaching half a million, and a wonderful house in an upper middle class neighborhood.

Most of my friends are in similar situations. My closest friend from childhood, grew up in a singlewide trailer. He how lives in a $400,000 house with a pool, and runs a successful construction business. He clears well over $100,000 a year with a GED for his highest degree. His wife, who also grew up in poverty, got a nursing degree from a tech college, and worked her way up into an administrative position making more than he does.

If you stop blaming "oppression" for your situation, and go do something about it instead, you'll be much better off.

Of course, its far easier to just blame society for holding you back.
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busyslinky
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« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2007, 10:51:50 AM »

I think, based on my quick reading of this article, that he supports more welfare and support for the poor.  He does not get into the minimum wage.  His point is that economist and their theories are not getting into the real world and why people act in certain ways that go against economic theory. 

The examples he presents initially are the economic theory arguments and later tries to explain why the are misguided.
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11193366
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« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2007, 11:09:22 AM »

Georgia boy...no one said I was in a bad financial situation...I still maintain that your kind of success is the exception, not the rule. It is possible, for example, that had you had children to support during your career rise and daycare expenses (ie no family to watch the kids for you), that you would have been more limited in career possibilities. Good daycare in Atlanta costs at least $850/month for one child full-time.

It is also possible that social connections played a role in your own success. Not everyone has equal access to people who can (and want to) help them rise.

Re: who would be a doc if it didn't pay more...the open source movement in the computer realm demonstrates beautifully that people will indeed invent/strive for "success" without the motivation of money. In other words, someone fascinated by biology, if given the chance, might well pursue a medical career just b/c he or she wants to!

I doubt you perform every menial task for yourself...people with any kind of money do depend on the underclass, whether it is at a restaurant, a hotel, a daycare center, or the office (cleaning staff, admins).

Can you really be serious in thinking that every person who does not have a $400,000 home lacks intelligence or drive? Something else is at work. Kudos to folks who get around it! But it is silly to deny the impediments our society imposes on people without means.
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georgia_guy
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« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2007, 11:28:32 AM »

It is possible, for example, that had you had children to support during your career rise and daycare expenses (ie no family to watch the kids for you), that you would have been more limited in career possibilities. Good daycare in Atlanta costs at least $850/month for one child full-time.


That's why I waited until I was 29 to get married, and had enough control over my biological urges to avoid having children I could not afford. Unless someone was raped, the "unwanted child" excuse does not work. Anyone who cannot afford children, can decide not to have any. If they decide to have children they cannot afford, they certainly cannot blame "society" for their lack of money.

It is also possible that social connections played a role in your own success. Not everyone has equal access to people who can (and want to) help them rise.

It is true that my father was a mechanic at the marina at which I scrubbed boats. I suspect I probably would have gotten the job anyway. Nobody in my family had any connections in academia. Try again.

the open source movement in the computer realm demonstrates beautifully that people will indeed invent/strive for "success" without the motivation of money. In other words, someone fascinated by biology, if given the chance, might well pursue a medical career just b/c he or she wants to!

There is a big difference between pounding out a few lines of code in your spare tiem, and pursuing a medical degree. Even WITH the salaries that doctors make, we still have a shortage. Do you really think it would get better if doctors were paid less in a relative sense?

I doubt you perform every menial task for yourself...people with any kind of money do depend on the underclass, whether it is at a restaurant, a hotel, a daycare center, or the office (cleaning staff, admins).

Can you really be serious in thinking that every person who does not have a $400,000 home lacks intelligence or drive? Something else is at work. Kudos to folks who get around it! But it is silly to deny the impediments our society imposes on people without means.

First, I find offense at your terminology. As someone who has done many of those "menial tasks" for a living, at some point during my life, I find your use of "underclass" offensive. Why do you feel that someone who happens to currently make less money is inferior? I never once felt like the member of an underclass.

Society does not impose these impediments. I would argue that our society actually attempts to overcome any impediments. We have universal public education. There are scholarships and loans for college. Most cities have employment agencies, and other programs to help people get ahead.

I would not suggest that everyone can have the level of success my friend is enjoying, but nearly anyone is capable of improving their own situation, should they be willing to make the necessary sacrifices to do so.
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allbutfoundajob
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« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2007, 11:45:03 AM »

I still maintain that your kind of success is the exception, not the rule.
Re: who would be a doc if it didn't pay more...the open source movement in the computer realm demonstrates beautifully that people will indeed invent/strive for "success" without the motivation of money. In other words, someone fascinated by biology, if given the chance, might well pursue a medical career just b/c he or she wants to!

I doubt you perform every menial task for yourself...people with any kind of money do depend on the underclass, whether it is at a restaurant, a hotel, a daycare center, or the office (cleaning staff, admins).

Can you really be serious in thinking that every person who does not have a $400,000 home lacks intelligence or drive? Something else is at work. Kudos to folks who get around it! But it is silly to deny the impediments our society imposes on people without means.


Here are two more people for the anecdotal stories of rising up.  Both my wife and I grew up in different counties in trailer homes.  We both pursued graduate degrees, not becuase of some love of learning, but because we both knew what it was like to go hungry or without other material possessions.  If I could have the same earning power without getting degrees, I would never have gone to college.  There would be no incentive in doing so.
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dr_crankypants
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« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2007, 11:52:03 AM »

I'm not sure what I think of the basic argument, but in fairness to the writer, I think that argument is more complex than it's been getting credit for. 

The way I see it, this article is compatible with the argument that the poor are poor because they have no money, don't have money to save, etc....  My impression is that the point of this is that at the lower end of the income scale, the amount of money that would be needed to genuinely change things (making saving possible/worthwhile) is greater than for moderately poor people.  Which does make some sense.  I think that one could easily take issue with the focus on the failure of incentives to work, but I think that the analysis is compatible with a focus on structural problems: the poor lack incentives to overcome their problems because their efforts won't really make a dent in solving their problems. 
 
But, as Busyslinky points out, he's arguing for greater generosity to the poor (including a more generous welfare system), suggesting that it would create more incentives to escape poverty, because it would make escaping attainable (making hard work actually produce bigger benefits).
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11193366
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« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2007, 1:00:28 PM »

I guess I'm different...I would (and have) happily pursued graduate degrees just because I love learning. But think about why the families you grew up in were poor. Things were probably more complex than you are suggesting. Ask any single mom who stayed at home to raise her children and then has to face the working world after mid-life...she might succeed through hard work and luck or she might not.

And consider the structure of society...you, the individuals, have changed your position somewhat, but you are still not the major capitalists of America or the world, the ones who own the vast majority of the wealth (the richest 10% of adults in the world own 85% of the wealth--World Institute for Development Economics Research). And is unlikely that you will be, unless you marry into that world or found a fabulous company that you can sell for millions.

My point is that the US relies on having a large number of low-wage workers in America. A system that enables every single citizen to achieve vast wealth would undermine itself. No one would perform the many undesirable activities that make up the underpinnings of our society...who would work in the factories, who would care for the children and the elderly, who would cut our hair and clean the office buildings?

We need to look beyond our own circumstances and remember that just because we can buy an ipod or computer or even a car or a house doesn't mean we have moved from being a "serf" to a "lord"...most of us will work for someone else (a "lord"/major landowner and stockholder) for our entire lives just to pay these large expenditures off. And there is a reason for that. It is our economic and social system. It's bigger than us, and it does affect each of our lives.
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