Yves here. I’m featuring this post from Angry Bear because it presents a vivid example of an increasingly common form of economic hatred: that of seeing anyone lower on the income ladder as fully deserving of their lowly status and a potential, if not actual, social parasite.
What I find distressing is the difficulty of addressing class bigots when confronted with them. For instance, I have a relative who regularly presents a socially acceptable version of this world-view: that government safety nets encourage dependence, that people would be forced to become more resourceful and self-reliant without them, and therefore (drumroll) all those taxes are stealing from her. Of course, since she is in the outsourcing business, it goes without saying that seeing those without work as responsible for their fate, as opposed to victims of CEOs and executives that use extreme cost cutting as a way to increase their own bottom lines, is not a line of thinking she’s prepared to entertain. She sincerely believes that everyone should be able to create their own work, as in go into business for themselves. When told that takes resources, such as working capital and connections to do that, her retort (and I am not making this up) is “If you told these people they had to come up with $100,000 to get their child back, they’d find a way to do it.”
When I was young, the more vitriolic expression of economic hatred presented below, and its more sanitized cousins, would have been rejected in polite company. It might not elicit a rebuttal, but it would get the stony silence of disapproval, as if someone had just revealed they were fans of ethnic cleansing. But we are pretty much talking about the same thing, except along class rather than ancestral lines. Not all that long ago, saying you hated the poor was seen as an admission that you were the functional equivalent of poor white trash, so insecure in your own social standing that you saw it not just as reasonable but important to kick those below you so as to assure your clearly precarious economic foothold. I don’t know how to instill a sense of shame in those who attack people who are struggling to survive as signaling that they are not all that successful themselves (otherwise they wouldn’t cavil about their tax bill), but it worked once and it seems a more fruitful course of action than trying to reason with class bigots.
Anyone who has made headway with class bigots or with bystanders to those arguments, please share your strategies!
By run75441. Originally published at Angry Bear
One poster’s complaints to progressives:
– Is it not greedy on YOUR part to demand a piece of what others have earned?
Why can she not learn a more skilled trade?
I have also seen Ph.D.’s doing unskilled labor. They chose to study what they wanted to study, not what would earn them a living. But those who DID study what would earn them a living should be forced to support those who studied what they WANTED instead?
No-one is FORCING them to do anything. They chose the course of their lives. They studied useless things, or perhaps did not study at all. They slacked off in school, perhaps, and so did not take advantage of the education offered to them.
And I don’t know whether you’ve toured the world much, but we don’t exactly have “degrading poverty” in this country. Is there any other country where the primary health problem of the poor is OBESITY? Our “poor” people eat TOO MUCH!!
The UN defines “extreme poverty” as living on less than $1 per day. How fat can you get on $1 per day?
– ‘[There] is no reason the lady who cleans your rest room should not make as much money for her time as you do for yours… if you had to spend the time cleaning the rest room THAT would be the opportunity cost of the job.”
There is a very good reason she is paid less per hour than I am — just about anyone can clean a bathroom, and very few people can do my job. It takes years of training and experience to be able to do what I do. The training is expensive and less than one-third of those who qualify to start the training finish it.
How much training does it take to clean a bathroom?
Some people’s time really is worth more. Even those who clean bathrooms. If one person does it better and faster than another, shouldn’t the faster and better employee be paid more? Should the computer programmer who is slower and makes more mistakes be paid the same per hour as the one who writes twice as much code with half as many errors? Should the grocery clerk who gets through 30 items per minute be paid the same as the one who does only ten?
If everyone were paid the same hourly wage, why would anyone go through the time, trouble, and expense of getting specialized, difficult training?
– The first problem with the individual income tax is the blatant unfairness of taking more from those who earn more. If one man works 60 hours a week, and two others work 30 hours each at the same hourly wage, our government takes more from the one than from the two. How is that fair?
One man studies hard in school, and another does not. The one gets a good education and a better-paying job than the one who did not. How is it fair to tax the hard-working person at a higher rate?
It is not a matter of taking what I earn, but taking it to give to those who do not earn it. Our public policies punish good choices and reward bad choices.
It is pretty well known there are impediments to being successful in America and upward mobility for those who start in the lowest quintile of income have a greater probability of sliding backwards once they have advanced a quintile or two as opposed to those who are born into that quintile. Add race to the issue and the likelihood of moving upwards is even more unlikely with a greater probability of sliding backwards. “Understanding Mobility in America,” 2006 Thomas Hertz