5 Ways Liberals and Progressives Shame the Poor Without Even Realizing It

Yves here. While this post focuses on a “well off versus poor” divide, high levels of income inequality results in social segregation by what activities you can engage in. For instance, I knew a successful journalist (published regularly in Vanity Fair) who had a fair number of college friends in New York City who were either in finance or had married high-earning men. It was very difficult for her to go out with them. They’d inevitably pick restaurants which would stress her budget.

Similarly, at colleges and graduate schools in the US, too much of the point of going there is seen as the networking opportunities rather than getting an education. I hate the concept of networking, since it means people are seeking out contacts for their potential future use, and not for whether they are interesting or have good character. I am not about to dignify the source by tracking it down, but I read a college administrator advocating that lower income students get higher stipends and student loans so they could go skiing with their better-offs, since it would be valuable relationship-building. Help me. Aside from this being a ridiculous priority for an institution nominally devoted to education, does anyone think a newbie skier is going to make a splash on the slope with students who’ve been skiing for years?

And as an aside, I find it telling that this article acts as if only the poor might not be able to afford international trips. One of my brothers has a well paying union job and he’s only been able to afford to go overseas three times, and that was solo (his wife suffers from a lot of allergies and is loath to travel). For a family, flights are costly just by virtue of the number of tickets you need to buy. I know plenty of people of modest or even comfortable means who drive 12 hours each way to see relatives at the holidays, when some of them would fly if they were more flush.

By Alex Henderson, whose work has appeared in the L.A. Weekly, Billboard, Spin, Creem, the Pasadena Weekly and many other publications. Follow him on Twitter @alexvhenderson. Originally published at Alternet

The Republican Party has a long history of denouncing America’s poor as freeloading parasites, living off the hard work and innovation of the rich while contributing nothing to society. The left, meanwhile, offers a more inclusive and egalitarian perspective, arguing that more poor Americans could join the middle class with the right education, training and opportunities. Too often, however, liberals and progressives end up shaming those they intend to help, criticizing lower-income earners for everything from their dietary choices to their inability to make charitable donations. And in so doing, they’re only adding to the misery of one of the country’s most vulnerable populations.

Below are five ways in which liberals and progressives shame the poor without even realizing it.

1. Diet-shaming from organic food proponents

Leftists are often vocal proponents of healthy eating, and understandably so. But nutritious foods can be expensive, which is one reason America’s poor are more likely to make unhealthy eating choices. RedAndHoney.com blogger Beth Ricci has written at length about the challenges of trying to feed her kids on a tight budget, and how “condescending, sanctimonious, ignorant and presumptuous” proponents of overpriced organic food can be. When informed these foods can cost a small fortune, she writes, they often resort to the snide talking point that “cancer costs more.” Ricci reminds her readers that, “some people literally don’t have the luxury of choosing to pay more now in order to potentially save significantly in the far-off future.”

2. Diet-shaming from vegans

In a recent article for the Daily Collegian, writer Sophia Corsetti criticized the vegan movement for its assumption that “everyone has the privilege of choice.” Corsetti is not against veganism; in fact, she’s a proponent of the diet. But too many vegans fail to understand that the poor often live in food deserts. Rather than badmouth their diets, Corsetti urges vegans to be “more concerned with ensuring that everyone has access to sustainable, affordable food in the future…. In order to be taken seriously, the vegan movement needs to remove the guilt tripping and shaming that so often accompanies their rhetoric.” Corsetti cites Grow Food Northampton in Massachusetts as a commendable nonprofit that is helping the poor embrace veganism; its Red Bag program supplies local food-stamp recipients with bags of vegetables for 10 weeks at $2 per bag.

3. Checkout-shaming

When the left isn’t chastising the poor for their diets, it’s often bullying them for their failure to contribute to progressive causes. This often takes the form of checkout shaming, in which consumers are asked to contribute a dollar to charity they might not be able to afford. This is not only common practice at pricey chains like Whole Foods, but also big-box retailers like Kmart, where poorer people are more likely to shop.

4. Aggressive street canvassing

Aggressive street canvassers are a fixture in progressive cities, and the ones doing the canvassing aren’t always sensitive to the fact that the pedestrians they’re soliciting might be struggling financially. Organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and Greenpeace all do excellent work well worth supporting, but when someone earning $9 an hour can’t afford to make a donation, their representatives must be able to take no for an answer.

5. Travel-shaming

Encouraging Americans to visit foreign countries is unequivocally a good thing; humiliating them if they can’t is ignorant and insensitive. There’s a world of difference between not having the money to purchase a plane ticket and refusing to do so out of political or moral conviction, as some conservatives do. Trends analyst Richard Florida reported in 2011 that residents of blue states were more likely to own passports than residents of red states. (Those who lean liberal are also more likely to speak a second or third language and possess a greater knowledge about the rest of the world.) As Florida points out, 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin never owned a passport before 2006, and George W. Bush had “hardly been overseas before he became president.” Both obviously had the means to travel abroad; perhaps they simply lacked the intellectual curiosity. But one shouldn’t assume that those who haven’t traveled wouldn’t like to, and Americans living paycheck to paycheck shouldn’t be “travel-shamed” because they can’t afford a trip to South America or Europe.

Progressives and liberals who are quick to urge conservatives to check their privilege would be wise to follow their own advice. Today, America’s poor are under siege by a Trump administration whose budget proposals include draconian cuts to food stamps, Medicaid, heating assistance and other social programs. The last thing they need is to be demeaned by their purported allies.

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157 comments

    1. jrs

      I thought the most obvious one would be education shaming. Shaming those who don’t have formal education and credentials, or even in demand skills in a destroyed economy (hint: unless you truly are top 10%, your skills might be not so desirable either, but you won’t know that until you lose your job!). Isn’t this actually a far larger part of the culture than some yuppie shaming about organic foods which most people don’t think too much about anyway? And those who do can just quote Micheal Pollan: *if* you can afford to buy organic you should (you are for one thing reducing the pesticide exposure of the poor people that have to produce this food), but obviously not everyone can.

      “There’s a world of difference between not having the money to purchase a plane ticket and refusing to do so out of political or moral conviction”

      What is wrong with refusing to do so out of political and moral conviction? That is knowing plane travel is not environmentally sustainable? But people do drive to work, yes and if so there is a difference between doing what they must to get the means of survival at all (working) and traveling for self-edification etc.. Although in terms of end result they both end badly of course.

      Reply
      1. Jean

        Organic rice, beans and vegetables are far less expensive per serving than McCrap processed junk food. Great meals can be made with them using meat as a condiment. It takes time however, but so does driving or taking a bus to a fast food outlet.

        Yves is right about the high cost of *processed* organic food, usually in the middle of the store, where the boxes, cans and jars of organic or other food is located. Some of the extra layers and expense of organic horseshit would make P.T. Barnum blush.

        The outside ring of stores next to the walls is where the least expensive organic or conventional food is located.

        Also there is the issue of nutrient density; i.e. four ounces of high quality organic vegetables contains more minerals, vitamins and better taste as it comes from richer soil than four ounces of non organic stuff from skeleton soils and puffed with water. Thus, the cost may actually be lower per ounce and the appetite satisfied via better taste.

        Junk food is also convenient as it’s faster. Organic fast food is beginning to hit the market.

        Reply
        1. Bugs Bunny

          I was poor a couple times. I recall that when you have exactly 15 minutes to eat between buses or on your break, you take what you can get. Maybe it’s comfort food as well.

          Reply
        2. diptherio

          You’re doing it right now. Everything you say may very well be true, but there are a whole lot of other factors going into decisions about diet that you are failing to take into account, like time required for shopping and food prep, which can be hard to come by if you’re working three jobs to barely make ends meet. Also, there are these things called food deserts. I’ve visited a couple. Nothing within miles except for KFC, McDonalds and Domino’s. If you don’t have a personal vehicle, taking a half-hour bus ride to the grocery store and then schlepping it all back with you is not the easiest thing to accomplish.

          So, telling poor people that they really can and should eat the diet that you approve of, even if you come up with a bunch of reasons for it, is inappropriate. They may well have a hundred reasons to counter yours, but most will be more likely to just quietly despise you, or feel ashamed of themselves, than lay out all the problems they have that make your suggestions impractical.

          Reply
          1. Jean

            Diptherio,
            As long as one has a refrigerator, a hot plate and some tupperware containers, meals can be cooked then frozen a couple of weeks in advance. I admire my Chinese neighbors who buy a small sack of rice every couple of weeks and make a big pot of rice and vegetables, maybe meat added, lots of spices, then store portions of it to be taken out to work with them. They save large portions of their meager income this way along with sharing a house.

            I guess there will always be completely helpless and hapless people out there who cannot progress.
            “The poor will always be with us…”
            equals
            “Let me explain to you, some people will always be helpless. I will speak for them.”

            With all respect, If you acknowledge that there is a problem, then what is your proffered solution?

            Reply
            1. freedeomny

              I did that. In fact, I did it for years. Along with all the “other” things I am supposed to do to be healthy. I got up at 6 am everyday to walk the dog (because yeah – animals make us very happy both spiritually and physically). Tried to leave my house at 7:30 am so I could be at work early – but if not, at least on time. Tried to leave work by 6:30 pm so I could get home by 8 pm. Had to walk the dog (remember, getting lots of emotional and physical value benefits there) immediately, before heading to the gym to do some weight training (for bone density – I did try to multi-task – carrying hand weights WHILE I walked the dog – but, it just didn’t work). Then there was the added pressure re sleep shaming (Arianna HPost thank you very much) – I had to be in bed by 10 pm to get my 8 hours of sleep! Then, then…I am supposed to spend my weekends cleaning, shopping and cooking meals for the entire week! Are you kidding me?! I say – ignore the shamers…

              Reply
            2. freedeomny

              You know – I thought of a great solution years ago. Why not make it easier for people to grow/harvest their own food!? I mean, it’s really only in the past 75 years or so that people have relied on food from grocery stores. Back when my parents grew up, most people could grow/have access to their own healthy food.

              This is very hard to do now. Most of the half way decent jobs are in cities. I tried for years to find a way to start a community garden in my neighborhood, and it is impossible – daunting at best. We all need to stick together and stop making excuses for governments – local or otherwise – who are clearly not working in the best interests of its/their people.

              Reply
            3. kareninca

              “As long as one has a refrigerator, a hot plate and some tupperware containers, meals can be cooked then frozen a couple of weeks in advance.”

              Huh? I know this thread is old now, but I have to respond. I have a stand alone freezer; I could do that. How on earth would you fit a couple of weeks of pre-cooked food in a refrigerator-top freezer???? I guess if you are a single person who eats like a bird. A very small bird. Who doesn’t need to have other things in that freezer as well. When I was poor I shared a refrigerator with four other people; I got about half a square foot of freezer space at best.

              So, your solution is for poor Americans to live like impoverished peasants. Swell. It may come to that, I suppose. If and when the 100 million Americans who are pre diabetic then live your Chinese neighbors – relying on rice – they will tip into diabetes. Chinese themselves are turning diabetic now. Go long amputation futures.

              The system you are describing works well for someone who doesn’t have to work, or who works part time, who has a fixed income, who has a small place of his or her own, and who has non-diabetes genes. An old person, most likely, who can hang out during the day with their food pot.

              I want to stress that I know exactly the sort of food prep and consumption that you are talking about, since I lived that way. But I didn’t have to work. And I don’t have kids. And I wasn’t pre diabetic then. I don’t hold the mistaken belief that it is a realistic option for other people.

              Reply
        3. SimonGirty

          Utilizing waste products donated by companies like H. J. Heinz, Pittsburgh’s 1980s community gardens were a pretty good experiment, with volunteers from the major universities close-by to see if we were adding anything that’d actually poison members. Of course, the same folks who hated to see city parks defaced and jammed full of “indigent old people” were less of an issue than those descrying others dumpster diving or begging post-dated food from the local super market chain, for the food banks. We’d figured the song “Both Sides Now” referred to a yuppie penchant for lecturing you from diametrically opposed, totally arbitrary perspectives, unremittingly devoid of any irony. Trader Joe’s & Whole Foods Audi & Volvo packed lots soon overflowed, so I guess lots of folks simply buy from VitaCost or iHerb, nowadays? First, they came for our co-ops, soup kitchens, gardens and CSAs… but we had degrees & could get the hell OUT!

          Reply
        4. JohnnySacks

          And non-organic rice, beans and vegetables are cheaper than organic. One could just toss a 20 in the bowl before the flush and cut out the middleman.

          Reply
        5. kareninca

          Organic dried beans cost a fortune in absolute terms. I go into Whole Foods intermittently and buy a bag of dried garbanzos in their bulk section; it will be something ridiculous like $12. I can afford it, sure. And I agree that cooking them in just the right way would be cheaper than McFood. But if I – upper middle class – am startled by the $12 cost for a plastic baggie of stupid beans, someone who is poor is going to be horrified. And organic vegetables cost a fortune in a lot of stores. Maybe not in Trader Joe’s, but most people don’t have access to Trader Joe’s. And I’ve bought organic and non-organic broccoli (for instance), and I haven’t noticed any difference in the amount it takes to make me feel full.

          All of the points you make are great for people who don’t have to work for a living, or who are a stay at home spouse. None of them work for people who don’t have access to a stove, a fridge, a freezer, good cookware, a good store, loads of time, lack of stress. I’m upper middle class – I eat a salad every day. I talk with the girl who cashiers at Safeway – she often mentions that she has just eaten something she regrets, because she was so hungry and in such a rush.

          Reply
          1. SimonGirty

            $1.99 BOGO half off, frequently at VitaCost. But, betya they’re watered with fracking return water. Most big towns have ethnic food stores. Too bad Google is now basically useless to seek out good ones. Aside from the incredible importance, now, of supporting regenerative agriculture, rectifying our wasted soil and ensuring a whole bunch of polyploid & open pollinated strains, chickpeas ain’t a big issue. Peanuts, or any legume grown in rotation with BT Cotton or Stacked Traits Maize… heck, I’d never serve any of that to kids (and I survived Reagan’s Miracle) I don’t care how cantankerous and ostentatiously cranky, rich city boomers are https://ask.extension.org/questions/385394

            Reply
            1. SimonGirty

              PS: why would anybody shop at Whole Foods, when you can get real organic tahini for $4/lb, pretty great legume based pasta $1.45 and tasty Indian MRE $1.50 at BigLots; excellent 100% pomegranate, sour cherry juice or blueberry kefir, all organic, at Aldi’s, Ollie’s or other liquidation stores? Man, I’m starved!

              Reply
            2. kareninca

              The ethnic food stores around here (Silicon Valley) don’t carry organic food. They sell really cheap produce and don’t even tell you what country it is from. In one case I saw the garlic was labeled, and it was from China.

              I just checked VitaCost online. They sell organic kidney beans (Eden brand) for $4.79/pound. Plus shipping. That is a lot of money. I didn’t see any BOGO sale. I looked in their “clearance center”, and didn’t see any food.

              I recently checked out a BigLots near me; it was disgusting; mostly junk food. Their MREs were not organic (I thought you were saying organic was the important thing), and anyway I would not trust “organic” from India; I’m not in a big hurry to eat anything from India for shipping reasons if nothing else. We don’t have Aldis around here, nor Ollies. The discount food store in our area (Grocery Outlet) does not sell organic beans.

              Look, I know that there are stores out there in the world with cheaper organic foods. But not around me. And not around most poor people.

              Reply
              1. kareninca

                Oh, they do sell frozen “organic” vegetables at Grocery Outlet. If you read the label, you see they are from China.

                Reply
            1. kareninca

              Haha. No kidding.

              The thing is, Whole Foods is actually the cheapest place around here that I’ve found to buy organic dried beans (one of the few things I go out of my way to buy organic), or at least in line with the other local places and I trust them well enough. That’s why I go there for dried beans. Not for anything else, though.

              Reply
              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                I begin to wonder just how unwittingly spoiled I may have become here in the Ann Arbor food jungle. I don’t remember what in-bulk organic chick peas cost at the legacy hippie food co-op but I feel it just has to be several times lower than that Whole Foods price . . . assuming that bag was a pound.

                And there is a Plum Market. And a By-The-Pound. And a Lucky’s Market where a Krogers used to be. That is a Colorado-based little chain which is testing the Midwest University Town market with a store here in Ann Arbor. Their slogan is ” Organic for the 99%” . And the various ethnic stores, though “India” and “China” raise the specter of cancer-juice food.

                I visited the Whole Foods once, just to see. Things looked very expensive there, but I did not see and price the dry bulk foods zone. One wonders if a healthy happy hippie heavy brown food diet could be assembled reasonably cheap from Whole Foods.

                Reply
                1. paintedjaguar

                  A Lucky’s Market recently opened in my red-neck of the woods. I checked it out. They did have reasonable prices on certain fresh veggies and fruit, but for the most part I would classify the place as a privileged person’s idea of a discount store. Except for small amounts of the aforementioned fruit/veggies, I left empty handed. Not worth the extra time and gas to make a special stop there.

                  Before I was forced out of Seattle by real estate development and rising rents, I shopped mostly at Grocery Outlet and a small local market. There are overstock grocers where I am now, but they are inferior in both their stock and their pricing (which is deceptive as well – a 10% surcharge is added to the shelf price).

                  Contrary to popular wisdom, I’ve found that leaving aside the ridiculous housing costs, it is actually easier to live cheaply in a large metro area than in red-state areas. Better public amenities, a better stock of upper class leavings, and just more choices in general.

                  Also, I might as well say it – the average middle class person’s idea of “cheap” is ridiculous to someone on a really tight budget and buying organic is risible.

                  Reply
  1. Andrew Dodds

    I understand the problem with diet-shaming.. but I personally hate the idea of being asked to contribute to charity at the checkout regardless of affordability.

    Reply
    1. timotheus

      Agreed. This falls into an entirely different category as EVERYONE gets shamed for not being a nice person, which the company/chain store clearly is by virtue of its charitable spirit, just displayed. The whole shabby exercise is a PR stunt to produce warm fuzzies for the outfit that just vacuumed up your cash. It would be a worthwhile investigative enterprise to track down where all those charity dollars actually go to see if there were buddy-boy relationships among the top execs at the profit/nonprofit entities.

      When I lived in South America, one of the grocery chains hustled your change at checkout for donations to an anti-abortion group. So you got the opportunity to have the clerk stare at you as a baby-killer if you refused.

      Reply
    2. Steve C

      I also question (having never contributed) who gets the tax write-off? Does the corporation contribute money collected to charity in its name and then claim a charitable deduction? Just wondering.

      Reply
      1. diptherio

        You know, that same thought just occurred to me, reading this article. Next time I get asked to contribute at a check-out line, I’ll be sure to ask (not that the checker is going to know, but it’ll give them something interesting to talk about in the break room :-)

        Reply
    3. paulmeli

      I hate this too and so does most of my friends and family. My sister made it a point to talk to a manager at Publix (a serial offender) to point out how offensive it was. I doubt she was received well.

      This kind of behavior is in no uncertain terms a form of panhandling. I would prefer to directly help a homeless person than donate to what is mostly administrative expense for a typical charity.

      I have no trouble anymore saying “not today thanks”. The constant assault has hardened me.

      I’ve been told that The Salvation Army gets much higher percentage of your donation to the needy than say, Goodwill, which is building multi-million dollar facilities all over the place. There’s two within 5 miles of each other in the smallish community I live in NE of Orlando.

      Reply
      1. TimH

        There’s a difference between charity and non-profit.

        501(c)(3) non-profits must file Form 990 showing finances

        The 2013 Form 990 for Goodwill is here: http://www.goodwill.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/2013-GII-990.pdf

        It shows $2.1M going to board and C level, but does not break it down. I saw an earlier 990 some years ago which did break it down, and the boss got around $0.5M.

        990s can be checked at Charity Navigator: https://www.charitynavigator.org/

        If Charity Navigator cannot find them, is usually bodes ill.

        Reply
        1. beth

          Some of you may disagree, but I personally think that the $1 you hand the checkout clerk for charity is used to subsidize the store’s small contribution to the local food bank.

          I’m sure they have one or two employees who help load up the food bank truck each day as they load the too-long-on-the-shelf food. Who is checking to see where that money goes? The store manager?

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith Post author

            No, it is used to subsidize the store’s “contribution” at retail prices. They could even be “selling” past sell date food at retail prices.

            After the Puerto Rico, a local drugstore chain was soliciting for the American Red Cross, which has a terrible record in recent years in disaster relief, very highly paid execs, and poor accountability.

            Reply
            1. wilroncanada

              Thanks, Yves
              I think I remember writing about this before. The grocery chain, even if the money in total is going to a local, viable, reputable charity, which it seldom is because the campaign is usually nation, or at least area-wide, the grocery chain gets a tax write-off for its “Donation”, along with the valuable goodwill, whose part came from the donation you cannot claim.
              Donate money, or time, or even goods-in-kind to a charity in your own community.

              Reply
              1. Ook

                I have absolutely no problem saying “no”, loudly. It makes it much easier for people in line behind me to do the same for some reason.

                Reply
            2. Scott1

              When we wrote a White paper on Shipping Containers as fast strong shelter for those who suffered the loss of their homes post Haiti Hurricane I contacted the Red Cross, along with my Congressman, & USAID.

              The Red Cross wasted our time by not just telling me they were the wrong Red Cross.
              There is the American Red Cross and the International Red Cross.

              Whatever good we attempted to do in regards to Haiti was impossible more because of Haiti’s systems for deeds and who has them & who can get them, than the practicality of
              the use of port surplus steel boxes & barrels.

              I could point to Haiti and its systems as bellwether’s of Western Capitalism played out by Government, for profit, NGOs and non profit entities.

              One lesson far as my interactions with institutions is it matters knowing, or not knowing what difference the representative you are talking with will, or can make.

              Your understanding of the institutional mission
              may indeed not be the mission of the representative of that institution you have approached.

              Reply
      2. Ed Miller

        I’ve read many times in the last 10-15 years about many national charities or non-profits with high executive pay. They’ve become corporate low lifes in my tainted view. When I find executive pay above $200K usually I just say no.

        I only contribute to The Salvation Army among the nationals and some local organizations, along with disaster assistance groups that I find here such as hurricane relief. Good quality goods donations go to Salvation Army, not Goodwill. Goodwill ads, knowing executive pay vs. worker pay, are a turn off.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          My beef with the Salvation Army is their pricing. We’ve found our local Salvation Army to be setting prices on things suspiciously close to e-bay prices for similar stuff. I don’t particularly feel like calling a ‘downscale’ boutique store a ‘thrift.’
          I agree totally with you about Goodwills salary practices.

          Reply
          1. beth

            I have another objection to the Salvation Army. In my freshman year of college, I met another student who was a daughter of a Salvation Army officer. Insiders are called Sallies. It is actually a evangelical church that believes in two levels of salvation. Their church “ministers” are organized like an army with similar titles such as Captain, Major, etc.

            The church has missionaries like other evangelical churches.

            The homeless homes that they sponsor are rigorously organized so that adults and children who live there must get up at very early hours to go to services. It is very regimented. People who go to these places learn to say what is expected. The SA is always the last choice among the homeless. I wish I could remember all the things I learned from members and from the homeless, many years later. I don’t think many people know these things.

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            1. ambrit

              Yes to that. I have found out from conversations with homeless and transients that our local Salvation Army has a 5:00 PM curfew. Be in by then or sleep rough. Even having to work past that time doesn’t do any good.
              I’ve always wanted to set up an Amish or Mennonite Thrift shop. They were the ‘religious’ groups that did the most good after Hurricane Katrina. Kind and helpful people, but definitely not fools.

              Reply
    4. Solar Hero

      Always ask if the store will match your donation and that the donation will appear as such on your receipt.

      Reply
    5. TimH

      There’s also home-cooking shaming: Why can’t you poor people cook healthy meals? Because when holding down 3 part time jobs, they don’t have the TIME.

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    6. Elizabeth Burton

      Not to mention it’s been established over and over that the poor give a larger percentage of their income to charity than the well-off.

      I just wish people who have no idea what it’s like to live poor, as differentiated from being poor wouldn’t write articles about poor people. They’re clueless—all of them. This alleged defense of poor people is just as clueless as the ones attacking them for the simple reason it assumes all those doing the criticizing are technically correct but should have the noblesse oblige to not mention it.

      Reply
      1. sharonsj

        I agree. I hate it when people who are better off tell me how to eat and buy food. I once had $20 left to buy a week’s worth of food. The supermarket sales were for white bread, soda, bacon, American cheese and did not include the $4 cauliflower (which, of course, I did not buy). And I hate beans.

        Reply
  2. b-rar

    What do “liberals and progressives” have to do with “big-box retailers like Kmart” prompting you to donate at the checkout counter? Even for a person like me who has a tough time saying No to anyone who needs help, it’s easy enough to tell the clerk “not today, sorry” or push “No” on the PIN pad when asked. Usually they don’t even identify the charity, they just say “Donate $1 to muscular dystrophy?” It seems shady as hell and it’s enough to justify declining the request.

    Reply
    1. armchair

      Exactly. The example in the article of check-out shaming at Whole Foods is laughable. Whole Foods was founded by a greedy libertarian and bought out by another greedy libertarian. Yet, liberals and progressives are supposed to walk around in shame, because of some giant corporation’s gestures at charitable giving?

      Reply
  3. Fraibert

    Regarding networking, I think the emphasis placed on it is terrible. While many people have the requisite social and other “soft” skills to be effective a work environment, not everyone presents well in the fashion necessary to “network.” Moreover, there is too much luck with networking–success may be determined whether someone of relative importance just happens to take a liking to a person. While humans are social animals and there will inevitably be a preference for those one knows over strangers, schools and workplaces alike should be emphasizing the importance of assessing the person’s total abilities and character. To do otherwise is a huge disservice to the public at large and, at least in the case of business, seems like to be detrimental to the firm, as good “networkers” aren’t inherently the best choices for a particular position.

    Moreover, I think the author of this piece is being unnecessarily charitable to “liberals and progressives,” though this is probably due to the venue of publication. In the abstract, it is true that, when compared to the contemporary Republican Party, “[t]he left . . . offers a more inclusive and egalitarian perspective, arguing that more poor Americans could join the middle class with the right education, training and opportunities.” But, it is also that “perspective” that causes the issues which are the primary subject of the article.

    Well-off people on the “liberal and progressive” side, while espousing an “inclusive and egalitarian perspective,” still desire markers to indicate that they are the superior to common people. The issues raised in the article are the result of this desire. Organic food, extensive international travel, years of higher education, etc. are used as markers of social superiority because, unlike conservatives, adoption of the “liberal and progressive” ideology limits a person’s ability to assert overtly that wealth and overall “success” are due solely to superior ability and work ethic.

    Yet, as the author I think recognizes, these varied “liberal and progressive” markers of social superiority are just proxies for wealth. This means that “liberals and progressives” just disguise their feelings of superiority for the poor in more refined terms. We have a term for that: euphemism.

    And euphemism is done on purpose.

    Reply
    1. Poor Behaviour

      1) Networking is hardly ever about transgressing your social circles or classes. Most often it is about just homosocializing and confirming your social status.

      2) Owen Jones book Chavs The Demonization of the Working Class is an excellent piece of work. With this one in mind you could drop the ”without even realizing it” in the title of this post.

      Reply
    2. SimonGirty

      True, that… or, mostly? Lots of our betters had no idea of the existance of what they blithely appropriated and drove upscale from working class nerds. Our “Whole Foods” movement became a libertarian BRAND, wiping out our buying clubs, co-ops, mom & pop ethnic bulk food and displacing farmer’s markets. They’d learned about easy to fix, fun to drive European cars after we’d moved on to far more dependable Asian ones, & forget about domestic audio, sporting goods, homegrown dope and homebrewed beer! Our idea of air travel, overseas was epitomized in “Platoon“ or “Dispatches” & I’m constantly being asked who LaVern Baker, Ollie Mae Givens, Clyde McPhatter and Clarence Brown were, to this day!

      Reply
      1. Ed Miller

        +100 Perfect description for networking in the tech industry. Actually, if one wishes to remain employed long term, it’s a perfect description for working in the tech industry.

        Reply
    3. J Sterling

      I’ve heard it said family is where class begins, but networking is vital to class formation and maintenance as well. And if you’re one of those people who thinks class mobility is the answer to class inequality, it would logically follow that networking hard is how you would think people should get into a more privileged class.

      Although as Poor Behavior notes below, the privileged are aware that everyone would like to schmooze with them, and put social moats in place to minimize that annoyance. And that too is part of class maintenance: oh, you can’t afford the restaurants we like? what a pity…

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Please tell me how one “networks” with people not in your class, particularly when class gradations are now finely tuned. You first have to get invited to the right meetings in the first place, unless you pay to got to a conference, and most are very pricey.

        I can tell you that when I would go to Manhattan cocktail parties, I was treated completely differently when I was at Big Prestigious Firms versus a non-name firm consultant. People would literally turn away from me when they figured that out. It would have been similar had I paid up to go to a conference with prospects. And I has the WASP manner and look and the right wardrobe.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Too true. I learned who my real friends were in high school when we had to congregate in larger assemblies and crowds. (Short answer, it was a very short list.) Lunch room was the worst. I eventually decided to start bringing my lunch again and eat out under the palm trees. After that decision, I thoroughly enjoyed lunch.
          There are so many ways in which people of supposedly ‘higher’ class can and will snub and insult their ‘inferiors,’ it would make a challenging minor to take in university.

          Reply
  4. Richard Matta

    I live in one of the most wealthy and progressive areas in the country, just outside DC, and never see diet shaming anywhere. Progressives make bad food choices all the time, it’s no one’s business. Check-out donations and street canvassing…please…those of us with money ignore them all the time, is it somehow more embarrassing to say no if you have no money than if you do? And I know plenty of people with money who have rarely or even never been out of the country, except maybe to Canada or the Bahamas. I’ve never seen one of them criticized or humiliated in any way. Perhaps I live in a more enlightened bubble. There are rude people everywhere from every walk of live. We learn to avoid them.

    Reply
    1. jrs

      I don’t think diet shaming is a big deal anywhere not even here in Southern California. But maybe Portland? Oh well, maybe, I don’t know. Yes you can buy organic if you want, it’s readily available, the food choices are overall better than many places, but very few people care of you eat organic or not (and it’s not the most basic shift to healthy food either, that’s avoiding processed food, buying more fruits and vegetables, then worry about if they are organic).

      ” Check-out donations and street canvassing…please…those of us with money ignore them all the time,”

      and they tend to canvas more where there is money, love to canvas outside the Trader Joe’s, more than outside the Target in my experience.

      Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          If one is confronted by a PETA troll, and if said troll is wearing something visibly made of some kind of petrochemical plastic etc.; it might be fun to tell the troll all about how their plastic whatever is made from oil. And then ask the troll: ” how many baby Iraqis died for your windbreaker?”

          Reply
    2. jrs

      Ok I read the article on the poor person being diet shamed, she was complaining about diet shaming on Facebook, in a nutrition oriented group. Face palm.

      That’s why the rest of us wonder where this diet shaming even exists. And then it turns out the example given doesn’t actually exist in the real world, neither your friends and especially not the other people in line at the grocery store care (and aren’t health paragons themselves probably). On a FaceBorg group …. ok then …

      Reply
    3. Yves Smith Post author

      There is a lot of discussion about how poor people should be eating better, trust me. I see it regularly, INCLUDING HERE. We’ve had arguments in comments over this, with someone who was low income defending their use of canned vegetables being attacked!!! So this does happen, it is not urban legend.

      Reply
      1. jrs

        I think there are people who think that ‘those people on wic/foodstamps/etc’ are all buying potato chips and sodas with their government checks .. oh and fast food. So some people think these should be restricted to healthy food (I am not one of the people who think so, though I understand the argument).

        But worrying about organic or not is getting into very fine distinctions that I really think most people are indifferent to. Buying organic is good, if you can, so is buying local, when you can. But if you have to join facebook nutrition groups to hear people bash you for eating non-organic, that really ins’t representative of anything but what people obsessed with nutrition think.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          my mom and I were pioneers in Organic ag, beginning in the 80’s(“pioneers” is Malcolm Beck’s word, I was once on a first name basis with him). when the Feds took over Organic Certification, early 2000’s, it was so anti-small, and geared towards Big Ag, that we…and many of our peers…abandoned government certification altogether.
          It’s been a long while since I plowed through the regs…since I operate in the grey/black market, and certification doesn’t matter there…but I can’t think that they’ve gotten any better.
          Ergo, when you buy “organic” produce, I wouldn’t bet that you’re buying what you think you are. “Know yer Farmer” is really the only way to know for sure…which is sad as hell.
          As far as diet shaming…in my region of Texas(between Austin, San Antone and San Angelo) the only diet shaming is the Food Stamp Shaming you mentioned. This is almost all from Right Wingers…skewing to the older cohort.
          There aren’t enough out of the closet dems/libs/progs to encounter any of the sort of bad behaviour indicated in the article.

          Reply
      2. Lyle

        But 60 years ago the only way to have vegatables in the winter and early part of spring was canned as freezers were not as large and shipping costs for fresh were higher. I recall even 35 years ago how the produce section of a Kroger had a lot fewer items just after New Years. It used to be you had seasons for fresh fruit only. Now with air freight you can have the fruit year round. Many of the folks who homestead also can food as it is a relatively low energy way of storing food compared to freezing. To go back a generation further my mother recalled that Oranges and the like in the Midwest were Christmas only items.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          There is another sort of food ‘weaponization.’ My Mom remembers getting an orange once a week during WW2. Children were prioritized for fruits and vegetables during the rationing. She lived in London, and went through the Blitz. Sometimes the ‘busybodies’ earned their keep when they stuck around to make sure that the kiddie actually ate that orange, and not an adult or, heavens forbid, said orange get diverted into the black market. The vitamins content of that citrus fruit was well appreciated.

          Reply
      3. wilroncanada

        Thanks again, Yves
        My daughter has been working for many years now to help poor people, among others make better food choices, as a community nutritionist. Liason with schools to begin helping students understand nutrition and food preparation; best-babies programs which work with poor mothers to prepare foods in public kitchens; developing food security awareness because our area (Vancouver Island) imports 95%of its food from elsewhere, about 75% of it from California.
        She is frequently chided as engaging in lost causes by all kinds of people at all ‘status’ levels.

        Reply
      4. Nancy kramer

        Eve the people who comment on your blog are NOT in any way representative of the average American in the real world.

        Reply
    4. kareninca

      ” is it somehow more embarrassing to say no if you have no money than if you do? ”

      Actually, yes.

      I think what you are missing here is that if you are well off, you can ignore these social requirements and feel secure in the knowledge that you could attain them if you actually wanted to. Not being able to act in the socially ideal way because of lack of ability, is a VERY different thing.

      Reply
    5. Martin whinnery

      because when the why is you cant afford it, thats shaming. When the why is a decision youve made, when you could afford it, thats affirming. One is rooted in a hateful vulnerability, the other is only possible from a position of relative security.

      Ffs

      Reply
  5. Fraibert

    Also, I meant to add this as a final thought to consolidate comments, but forgot.

    Street canvassers are obnoxious. When I was living in New York City, I deliberately avoided them (whole New Yorker walk fast, no eye contact, pretend they didn’t exist if they attempted to accost me), and I found their virtue signaling rhetorical questions sometimes offensive. I don’t care what your cause is, I am not signing my name on a sheet of paper to be used for unknown purposes.

    Reply
    1. Eureka Springs

      Never sign a petition you haven’t read thoroughly and or is not clearly stating who is the money behind it all. Which means you probably shouldn’t sign any on the run. Never trust that the guy or girl with a clipboard has read it entirely their self or gives a damn beyond the pay per signature they probably receive. And never trust them if they say press hard there are a few carbon copies underneath.

      The weed initiative petitioned for then passed in the polls here in AR is a perfect example… it left countless people not only in jail, prison, on probation, with fines and permanent records for weed, it kept much of that system in place whilst creating a monopoly largely owned or managed by a few rich and former prosecutors who spent their lives destroying other lives for weed to begin with.

      Liberals and their progs who are liberals in denial ( I mean all Democrats) hate themselves as much as they love to hate and divide others.

      I was presented a petition to sign and I threw it on the ground, man.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        so, petition signing as a sting operation.
        I’m pretty darned cynical,lol, but I never even considered that possibility.
        Being less terminally cynical, I would guess that there’s be a First Amendment Defense.,,,but instead of “redressing the grievances”, they double down on them.
        silly me.
        Sometimes, I really hate my country.

        Reply
      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        or just scary looking at all…that’s my strategy, along with the “Glamour” that I’ve learned(giving off hostile vibes), and “the Look” I learned in raising my boys.
        It was a revelation, some years ago, when I realised that all the troubles I had with rednecks and cops growing up was due to Their fear and uncertainty…not anything I had done or said, specifically(usually,lol).
        That can be put to use…and it works! I can go into a crowded store and have a moving bubble of empty all around me,lol.
        Of course this is only to be used when I leave the county…wouldn’t want my local yokels to fear me overmuch.

        Reply
  6. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Travel shaming

    One of Sanders’ issues has been free college education. One great thing that a lot of high schools do is take kids on travel overseas. Our high school French dept took some trips like this to Quebec City and Montreal but not everybody had the funds to go when they went all the way to France.

    I’d like to add to Sanders agenda and make sure funding is available for any high school student who wants to join their school trip overseas. Seeing how other people live is a real eye-opener and could go a long way toward solving any number of problems.

    Reply
    1. jrs

      Wow I never went to a high school that went on any travel trips, maybe a day field trip at best. FANCY. Although I suppose if one is very close to the Canadian border it is easier. But do we really imagine this is available to poor people AT ALL? That poor people’s high schools EVEN go to trips overseas that poor people could get grants for? This seems very out of touch to me.

      Reply
      1. Big River Bandido

        I went to inner-city public junior high and high schools, which served a wide mix of ethnic, racial, and economic backgrounds. Trips like these were “offered” all the time…but being able to go was contingent on being able to pay — or on being able to sell enough fundraiser candy bars to pay for it. Far as I know, there was never any kind of assistance or subsidy…and if anyone had dared ask, they would have been shamed for it. But the entire process had that.

        Reply
      2. Eureka Springs

        Also the cost of passports. Public school students should all get their first passport in say the tenth grade together for free. Call it field trip of life preparedness.

        Reply
      3. lyman alpha blob

        We were close to the Canadian border so travel to those cities was a day trip on the school bus if I remember right. We had a couple of very enthusiastic French teachers but it was a public school and not every department did this type of thing – French may have been the only one.

        Anyway, I know it’s probably just a pipe dream, but considering taxes don’t fund expenditures, there’s no reason why the federal government couldn’t make funding available for every student who wants to do this, if not through the schools themselves then through some sort of summer program.

        Reply
    2. Don Cafferty

      “… a lot of high schools do is take kids on travel overseas …”, this one is a sore spot for me. During child rearing years, I could not afford to send my son overseas but today I am expected/encouraged to donate so other children of whatever means can. But, it is no longer “a lot of high schools”. A lot of local children’s/youth sports teams fund raise throughout the year for the purpose of attending far-off tournaments. There are times that the number of demands/appeals is excessive and for purposes that leave one wondering about the necessity. I live in an area where the rich are well hidden and the numerous poor people can be readily seen. A vivid memory recall is walking into the locally owned hardware store franchise and seeing youth fund raise so their team can go to Finland. Really … Finland of all places! Are there no other alternatives. A problem with the broad appeals for money is that the success of the venture is rarely heard/reported except to those immediately involved.

      Reply
      1. Jean

        Where we live, rich kids get to fly to and massage elephants in Thailand as part of their “community service”.

        Whenever I’m approached to donate to building orphanages in Africa, or such things, I always counter that I would be happy to do the same in Appalachia.

        Reply
    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      More educational to travel to where the local homeless live (not unusual to be a few block down the street).

      Then, to where local immigrants are taking advantage of their newly found upward mobility and let the student practice the language in question (Spanish, Chinese, French, Russian, etc).

      Reply
  7. Louis Fyne

    You know what really grinds my gears? CO2-shaming

    “liberals” preachy about the environment as they jet off on private planes (just one leg can easily use as much fuel as 6+ month of driving a family car).

    we survive the whole winter with the thermostat at 63 with the insufferable, hellish burden of wearing extra layers.

    Prominent preachy elite can’t suffer the indignity of flying first class? Give me a break!

    At least Republicans aren’t hypocrites about being energy hogs.

    Reply
    1. Stillfeelinthebern

      Yup. The Bush vs Gore home energy match was the last straw for me with Al. He has all the money in the world to make his home a model of what he was preaching. Lost every remaining drop of respect for him with that one. https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/tale-two-houses/

      And the South Park guys were right, “An Inconvenient Truth” was nothing more than a powerpoint presentation and a bad one at that.

      Reply
  8. SimonGirty

    Due to Sputnik, Keynes or whatever, lots of smart poor-ass prole kids got to hang out with upper middle class kids and see how they lived. Dope, miscegenation, the draft and student loans had some of us believing we could be friends (though we’d be scruffy punks, never hippies?) We had some difficulty with the whole generation gap thing, liking and respecting our folks, mostly. Then one day, they all started snorting cocaine, drove up rents, BMWs, US made audio gear… and went to work for their dad’s country club buddies, listening to Carly Simon and wearing New Balance sneaks, swiss watches & Dockers?

    What I love, is their obdurate assumption that we poors see all that much difference between our betters, self-labled as “left” or “right.” Unable to afford the dead eyed obliviousness so prized by white flight suburbanites, or their mirror image yuppie offspring gentrifying us out of our homes. Our inability to ignore their well chewed detritus, thoughtlessly dumped upon us; or to buy into what their media, schools & tag-team kleptocracy try to gavage down our throats has now rendered us deplorable, unable to convey our disenchantment with our tawdry, hand-me-down gig-economy peonage. If we weren’t surprised at the last election, well… some things you can’t euphemize away, or relegate down Google’s memory hole.

    Reply
  9. David

    One element of this is that, as soon as food companies spot the latest trendy idea (at the moment it’s Veganism) they immediately redo their packaging with something like “suitable for Vegans” and double the price without changing the contents, this putting what were originally just vegetables, for example, beyond the reach of many people. There’s quite a lot of evidence that the average person actually does want to eat well, but finds it hard to get the information they need. The latest wheeze is “gluten free” bread, made from grains that have a higher glycemic index than wheat.
    On travel, yes, I think a lot of British people were genuinely baffled by the prominence in the Brexit debate of threats to straightforward travel around Europe (not that that’s actually under threat) when they themselves went abroad once a year on holiday, if that.

    Reply
  10. freedeomny

    Here is the problem that I have with this article:

    “Below are five ways in which liberals and progressives shame the poor without even realizing it.”

    This article assumes an intended reaction. No one can “make” you feel shame. The great thing about having a brain is YOU get to decide how you want to react to the world. That being said, the next time I am asked for money at the supermarket check out line I will politely say no – and then I will look up the CEO of said supermarket along with his/her reported compensation and write him or her a letter shaming them into giving a very large donation to whatever charity it is they are hustling.

    Reply
    1. diptherio

      No one can “make” you feel shame. The great thing about having a brain is YOU get to decide how you want to react to the world.

      Yes and no. While it’s true that it is possible to attain a very high degree of control over your emotional state, it is not the case that everyone has been able to cultivate this latent possibility. And it takes a very high degree of self-awareness to not let this kind of thing eat at you over time. It’s one thing to shake off the occassional attempt at shaming, but when people attempting to use shame to change your behavior (or just to be mean) becomes your daily experience, it’s orders of magnitude more difficult to retain your equanimity. This is something I have direct experience of…and I’ve been intentionally cultivating equanimity for quite awhile now.

      So while it’s true that no one can make you feel bad without your permission (as the saying goes), it doesn’t follow that attempts at shaming by liberals, or anyone else, shouldn’t be pointed out for the bad behavior that it is.

      Reply
      1. freedeomny

        Hey Diptherio – I get where you’re coming from and do agree that bad behavior should be pointed out. But not sure about being more aware/or having more emotional control. I certainly don’t feel that personally…. I think personally I eventually just got pissed off.

        Reply
    2. Lyle

      JUst decide that you don’t care what anonymous folks think of you. Because they will often be wrong. Consider that Sam Walton used to go around Bentonville, in a beat up old pickup and old clothes. Of course the criticizing classes would have had a completly wrong impression about him not knowing he was one of the richest men in the world.

      Reply
      1. Martin whinnery

        And if your understanding of the world is that if you come across as someone without resources, youre much more vulnrrable to exploitation and maltreatment, what then? Because thats a fact, and deciding you dont care doesnt change that.

        Reply
  11. Harry

    My response to checkout shaming attempts.

    “I know its not your fault but pass this on to your manager so he tell his manager – he should come down here and show me his contribution to that charity if he wants to solicit me when im shopping. Why are they so dumb?

    Street solicitation… “dont even think about talking to me”

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Why bother with the manager, I tend to ask the person at the cash register if they want to make a donation to my charity instead, when their plea for this that or whatever comes at the end of my transaction.

      To date, not one cent has come my way. But i’ve made a lot of people uncomfortable with my asking for their money, in lieu of mine.

      Reply
      1. diptherio

        Dude, please stop. Those checkers are required to recite the script to every customer. They’re just doing what they have to to pay the bills. If you want to make someone uncomfortable, pick a target a little higher up the food chain.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          Why should I bother with higher ups, when I can get to the source of frustration in the guise of the employee constantly asking me for a donation?

          If enough people made a fuss and turned the tables on cashiers and asked for a few bucks for your local food bank, they’d certainly become hesitant to hit us up all the time.

          Reply
          1. FluffytheObeseCat

            Those round black bulbs on stalks hanging over the check out are CCTV cameras. The checkers are monitored. It’s easy for management to see if they are engaging in the mandated spiel or not. Take your complaints to people in store management or the main office.

            Reply
          2. diptherio

            The source of your frustration IS the management. Duh. Do you really think it’s the checkers idea to hit everyone up? But hey, taking it out on the most powerless people around is easy and makes you feel superior, so I guess it’s alright…jeebus…

            Reply
          3. kareninca

            You are picking on poor people. That is like telling the janitor – in front of everyone – that the toilet paper is not soft enough.

            The higher ups don’t care that people make a fuss, as long as they get some money from them. Their employees can suffer day in and day out as long as some money comes in.

            Reply
          4. ambrit

            Sorry to pile on here but I recently worked at a downscale retail establishment that treated its’ employees exactly like machines. You made the mandated spiel or you were ‘encouraged’ to find somewhere else to work. How encouraged you ask? It worked like this.
            Week one of the ‘exodus program’ had you being lectured by the second tier management. You do want to be a team player, don’t you? Your obdurate nonconformism threatens everyone in the store. We don’t meet our quotas and we all suffer etc. etc.
            Week two begins the curtailment of working hours. You had thirty perfectly good hours last week. No one says anything but, suddenly, you now have twenty hours for the week. Oh, and spread over five or six days.
            Week three cuts your schedule down to ten hours for the week. Split up over three, non contiguous days.
            Week four, if there is one, and I have been subject to exactly this myself, though for other reasons, you find yourself down to four hours for the week.
            If there is a week five, four hours again.
            During all of this, you are reminded that you are on call all the time during the week.
            It goes on, but you get the picture.
            I’d rather expect an approach to the store manager with the avowed intent of soliciting funds for your proprietary charity, or to put up posters promoting “Save The Endangered Rainbow Marmosets” to get a rise out of the store management.
            However, in the final analysis, such charitable funding drives associated with the store in any sense are just corporate virtue signalling. Perhaps the best tactic would to raise some H— at the annual shareholders meeting and make sure that the protest and response are recorded and widely spread, especially among the class of person who has stock in the corporation.
            Well, thank you for your time. The blessings of Moloch be upon you. Are you sure you don’t want one of our brass tablets? No? Good day.

            Reply
        2. bronco

          this is like how circuit city used to force the checkout people to pitch extended warranties on everything.

          They had quotas to meet I’m sure , maybe its the same with the donations

          Reply
      2. marym

        What’s accomplished by cashier-shaming? Do you assume they have any choice in asking about this? Or that they would talk to their manager about it unless specifically asked to provide feedback?

        Reply
        1. Eureka Springs

          While I wouldn’t describe my insistence cashiers stop asking me these things (donate/upsells etc.) as shaming, I can say such insistence has worked on more than one occasion in more than one business. It’s just more tax on my time to go up the ladder.. so why pay the tax without trying lower time/cost with the person in your face first? You really don’t think a cashier is going to say to their boss this is piss**g off customers?

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Help me. Do you think the cashier wants to jeopardize her job? And I’ve never had a small retailer (where the manager might have some power) hit customers up for donations. It’s always chains, mid-sized or large ones.

            Reply
            1. Eureka Springs

              If my comment suggested I was referring to small biz I apologize for the inarticulate nature therein. But I stand by my experiences that saying so to cashiers, even in places as large as Sams Club worked. I’m sure there was a chorus of offended customers which ultimately ended the practice but it worked. Much to my surprise. And I have no problem taking it “upstairs” if need be. It just hasn’t been necessary.

              Reply
          1. Yves Smith Post author

            I actually sometimes tell the cashier, “I know you have to ask me…..”. They can’t feel good asking and being rejected 80+% of the time.

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              When he worked for Bigg Boxx stores, our son was quite good at ‘meeting his metrics.’ How I asked him. Simple dad he’d reply. You just view the customer as a thing of potential utility to you. What, I asked about the people who don’t play along? Easy, he replied, they cease to exist to you. That point gets across somehow and they hurry away.
              I do the “I know you have to do this routine” routine as well. The cashiers response to that sally will tell you a lot about that store.

              Reply
  12. Steve

    Besides being asked to donate in check out lanes I have never witnessed this activity. I have lived many places had many jobs and run large charity projects for housing. I was a vegetarian for a long time and never told anyone to be one. My Vegan friends never tried to shame me. Both my Democratic and Republican friends would pick on me for not eating meat but I just happily pointed out that they were all on Lipitor. (BTW none of them were economically disadvantaged). Of the thousands of people I was around on charity sites I never witnessed anyone trying to tell a homeowner family they should eat better or change anything. I have never witnessed in my life someone shaming someone for not traveling outside the country. The only people who even care about where someone went to college are my friends that went to elite private schools. No one else cares. It is in articles like these that show up in the New Yorker, Atlantic, Alternet, etc where I ever even hear of this stuff. Fortunately for people in need they probably never come in contact with any of this. I do secretly think that all shaming is the nefarious work of Russians.

    Reply
    1. diptherio

      Can’t tell if you’re being facetious or not. Assuming not, what makes you think that your experience running large charity projects gives you any insight into what us poor people experience? I’ve been telling liberals and progressives to knock this stuff off for years now. Just because you’ve never witnessed or experienced any of this doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, only that it hasn’t happened around you (or that you haven’t noticed it when it did). I’m not going to write an essay with 20 examples from my life, though I could, but just take my word for it: these things do happen…all the time.

      Reply
  13. The Rev Kev

    Funny about that mention of George W. Bush not having a passport until he became President. This was nearly twenty years ago but I read at the time that for a lot of influential people, that it was a point of pride NOT to own a passport.

    Reply
  14. GERMO

    I’d add Car Shaming aka Bike Pride — the assumption that, like the comfortable-liberal class, we all have agency over where we can live relative to where we can work… and can take mass transit or ride a bike without spending 3+ hours a day on commuting.

    Regarding the DC commenter who doesn’t see food shaming — uh, YES Portland.

    Reply
    1. jrs

      Even DRIVING a lot of people spend 3 hours a day commuting I find, and yes it’s often working class people, but not the extremely poor. Although some middle class people do it as well. But yes public transit will often make a 2 hour a day commute much longer than that.

      Reply
  15. diptherio

    While we’re at it, lets add higher-ed shaming. And how’s about we drop the whole “So what do you do (for a living)?” line of small talk, too.

    Reply
    1. blennylips

      How about we just call it shaming, as in a tactic.

      I guess the pull of “Keeping up with the Joneses* wore out, so now the push is via shaming.

      Push, pull to what? Selling more crap, obviously.

      *Preferred by Welshman over “Jones'”.

      Reply
  16. Off The Street

    Networking training begins early, with a side dose of emotional manipulation. Witness the following from early elementary school years.

    -Parent A aggressively pursuing playdates for little schnookums for socialization, serially working through the classroom. Kids realized that they were pawns in some creepy adult game, reinforced after not getting return playdates or being dropped for someone higher up the perceived prestige and connection ladder.

    -Networker kid B telling another 7-year old: You are dead to me.

    Really, who does that? Who talks like that? At least the transparency allowed early detection and another life lesson before returning to more normal child activities.

    Reply
    1. cnchal

      Networker kid B telling another 7-year old: You are dead to me.

      Who talks like that? Adults first, then into the minds and mouths of children. Kevin O from Shark Tank say’s that when he can’t make a buck off you, for an example.

      Reply
  17. Stratos

    Yves,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this crossposting this article!

    I am so very tired of “holier than thou” vegans. They seem to not realize how much of their voluntary choices about food are based on abundance.

    Abundance in the food system allows them to make decisions to follow designer diets. Personal financial abundance allows them to purchase pricey ingredients for their chosen diet and lifestyle.

    Reply
    1. kareninca

      I was a vegan for 19 years, and I never pushed it on anyone. It was a cheap way to eat. Really, really cheap. I would look at my food bills and compare them to national averages and they were way lower. There are other potential problems with being vegan (e.g. it may not work for blood sugar; it didn’t for me), but it is not costly. Meat and fish and cheese are expensive. Now that I am a vegetarian I’m spending way more.

      Reply
    2. kareninca

      I just posted about how cheap vegan cooking is. And it is. That’s why poor people traditionally ate that way a lot of the time. I used to make huge pots of cabbage stew with beans and rice added, and live on them for days; I find cooking somewhat boring and I don’t care about food and that was easy (I can’t do that now due to blood sugar). But it doesn’t really matter in the end, since many broke people can’t afford the time/amenities tax to cook vegan or omnivore from scratch; both are very hard for them.

      Reply
  18. anon y'mouse

    my two famous and much repeated examples:

    upon complaining about rental unit’s non-existent and/or poor maintenance issues–“just move, then!” I should’ve been quickwitted enough to ask for loan of deposit money.

    same/similar for employer complaints. Jobs are just plentiful. I can walk out and get one as soon as I decide I want one.

    This was when I realized a middle class & upper mindset can’t even deal with the reality of actual poverty and its lack of choice. Oh, and that they believe “voting with feet/dollars” works.

    Reply
  19. Jerry

    Whenever there is a discussion about illegal/legal immigration with liberals, they often make· statements like, “they have jobs that Americans won’t do. ” That statement irks me in so many ways. They are stating that Americans at the bottom are too lazy and unwilling to do certain jobs and they are also stating that this is all immigrants are good for. These are comments that I get from bleeding hearts that are very much against Trump’s policies on immigration.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      Yeah, that trope has really rankled me. When was it decided that “immigrant jobs” were ones that Americans wouldn’t do? Why was that decision made? And by whom?

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        The immigrant jobs around here really put years on you in a hurry.

        It’s both stoop labor and climbing labor, all the time. Orcharding jobs here are done almost exclusively with Mexican labor, and it’s not as if Americans are being shut out of the fun, it’s beyond the physical ability of most of us, quite simply.

        Reply
        1. jrs

          Some of them are jobs Americans won’t do, construction or gardening are jobs many Americans probably would do especially if the pay was tolerable, but agricultural pay is real low for that labor.

          OTOH even if Americans wanted to, they don’t have the network to necessarily get such a job, because even illegals often get their jobs through people they know is my understanding. Networking: it’s not just for the rich.

          Reply
          1. Jean

            Carpentry, plumbing, electricans, landscapers, even meat packers, once jobs that allowed Americans to earn a Middle Class wage. At least around here, they have been reduced to upper lower class wages.

            How about jobs for teenagers? Now filled by 30 year olds from somewhere else.

            Reply
            1. Jerry

              Bingo!!! The meat packing industry now is comprised of an illegal immigrant workforce. That used to be a high paying union job that was a ticket to the middle class. Now it is a low paying minimum wage job.

              What has happened over the years is that you have an unlimited supply of labor coming into the country to do these jobs. Of course a large labor supply is going to drive down wages. If you are an American employer, it makes more sense for the employer to hire an illegal immigrant because there will he less turnove due to the fact there are less employment opportunities for other jobs. There is also less likelihood that the immigrant worker will complain about workplace safety violations or workplace discrimination. It’s almost a no brainer for an employer.

              Reducing the supply of labor by holding illegal employers for violating employment laws would leave them no choice but to hire Americans. Because the labor supply would be lower then the wages would have to go up just because of the simple economics of supply and demand. Let’s start calling it an illegal employer problem instead of an illegal immigrant problem.

              Reply
  20. Altandmain

    Poor shaming from the upper middle class to the poor does happen quite a bit more often than many people think.

    I suspect that is where the origins of the ring wing term “liberal elite” comes from. Same with “limousine liberal”.

    It can be summarized by:

    – Sees whatever virtue signalling trend they are promoting as a sign of their moral superiority in a way quite similar to how right wing types see rich people as morally superior

    – Sees their credentials, from whatever well regarded institutions as another sign of their superiority

    – Consider themselves cosmopolitan due to travel and multicultural

    – Looks down on people who do not have these interests, credentials, or are well traveled

    You can see this phenomenon in many of the cities. Clinton Liberals are probably the worst offenders here.

    A recent example of virtue signalling might be the Tesla and Elon Musk cult. They seem to feel that the fact that they are driving an electric vehicle is a sign of moral superiority.

    A few issues:

    – The Model S and X are very expensive. Even the Model 3 is looking like a 50 to 60k USD car. Not everyone can afford one, although they are expected to proliferate with more models coming out.

    – As many of these owners are high income, they often have very high carbon lifestyles. Examples include frequent flights abroad and large Mcmansions.

    – They lecture the rest of society (as we’ve seen on NC before) about how superior this makes them.

    – They complain when the subsidies for high priced electric luxury vehicles are ended.

    – Criticisms of Tesla, such as the economic viability of the company, quality issues, etc are met with religious fundamentalist-like anger. Other discussions such as Musk’s hostility to mass transit, the need to change land use patterns to remove car culture, etc, are not discussed.

    Another visible example might be the actions of Clinton supporters during the 2016 election, who largely ignored the economic grievances of Trump and Sanders supporters.

    – No recovery has occurred for the bottom 90 percent

    – Sanders ideas of free public university were dismissed, perhaps because the “elite” go to what they consider prestigious schools

    – No discussion about the damage that the loss of manufacturing has done, nor why nations like Germany, Japan, Korea, etc have manufacturing

    – By contrast, the fact that Clinton was a woman was a sign of virtue

    – Agressive use of shaming toward the Sanders base despite the WikiLeaks revelations and Clinton’s failure to address the damages of neoliberalism

    You can think of many more examples.

    I can see how working class Americans, who have often been lectured by upper middle class Americans might be quite angry. In some cases, the upper middle class are their superiors at work so they are in no position to protest.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Clinton’s failure to address the damages of neoliberalism . . . hmmm . . .

      Clinton’s “failure” to address the damages of neoliberalism is like Count Dracula’s “failure” to address the damages of vampires.

      Reply
  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Diet shaming.

    Not if we say ‘free organic foods before free college.’

    Some do, but not all of us talking about eating healthy are condescending with ‘but cancer costs more.’

    So, I hope I’m not just one of the few who will demand free organic foods before free college.

    Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I can’t speak for them, but for me, it’s food before housing before school.

        As much as I don’t like it, students go to school to get a job, to feed themselves and their families, along with providing shelter and health care, etc. instead of having their (and everyone’s) hunger taken care of first by the society, so they can pursue knowledge for knowledge sake.

        So, I would say, food first.

        Then, people can go to school because they want to, not because they have to (to avoid starvation).

        Reply
  22. Tim

    1. This isn’t obvious?
    2. There is plenty more that could be added to the list
    3. I’m not sure it’s enough reason to stop solicitations of donations, just how and where you go about asking for them.

    Empathy is a core part of virtue, and you wouldn’t need to signal virtue if you have it in the first place.

    Reply
  23. Sound of the Suburbs

    After working my way up I eventually got to the stage where I worked with people that went skiing every year.

    Is that when you know you are doing well?

    (This is the UK)

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      No. You know you have arrived when you can do as one of my uncles did and send photos to his relatives of him and his wife skiing in the nude at a Club Med in the Pyrenees. He was a Londoner who relocated to the ‘Shires before the gentrification happened.

      Reply
    2. Wukchumni

      Going skiing @ Mammoth Sunday through Wednesday, and we do it on the cheap. 7 of us share a condo and it works out to about $39.53 per night per person, we brown bag lunches on the slopes and cook dinner @ the condo. A season pass was $600 and i’ve skied 13 days so far, and with probably the last days of skiing for the year, it’ll be 17 days @ $36 a day.

      Skiing doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor…

      Reply
  24. Waking Up

    Bottom line…. the “shaming”, if done by an individual is a way for them to show “superiority” over another person (at least in their mind). When done by a corporation, it’s usually for marketing or profit purposes. If we lived in a more civic or community minded country, “shaming” wouldn’t be necessary as people would already have gladly contributed to the needs of those around them.

    Reply
  25. drumlin woodchuckles

    Just a tangential aside about the alleged over-pricedness of organic food.

    Organic food is not overpriced. Poor people are underpaid. Or otherwise underfunded.

    Food for pay, not for free. The farmer is not your slave. Organic farming is hard work and the organic farmer deserves to be paid for herm’s hard work. And in those cases ( an entirely separate issue) where the food is of higher actual quality, more nutrient-dense, etc., it is worth more and should cost more.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Organic food IS overpriced.

      It costs 5-10% more to produce than conventional alternatives and is typically priced at a 30-40% premium. It is an affluenza product and priced to what the market will bear.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Have there been studies done on the costs of organic production versus conventional production? Are there links to these studies or to articles explaining these studies to a lay audience?

        And is it organic food that is overpriced? Or is it that conventional food is underpriced? I have read that the food-cost-percent of the annual individual or family budget in America is lower than the relative cost of food in European countries, Korea, Japan, etc. Perhaps the lower quality of much conventional American food relative to conventional European/Japanese/etc. food is the “price” of underpricing.

        So people who want food without carcinogenic teratogenic mutagenic intestinal-microbiome biocides in it are merely affluenzers? And wanting food without cancer juice in it is an affluenzic pursuit and food without cancer juice in it is an affluenza product?

        Reply
  26. Stephen Gardner

    I had to laugh #3 Checkout Shaming. I have an upper middle class income and I couldn’t care less about those phony charities at the supermarket. If anyone asks me I just cheerfully answer “Nope.”. I see all of this shaming nonsense as virtue signaling by people who are not sure of their own moral worth. This is why they virtue signal at very high decibels. They are not trying to shame others they are really trying to avoid shame themselves because they think they need to “do something” to merit being on this earth. Falling prey to that idea that you need to justify your existence is the first step to dividing people into surplus people and useful people. I don’t want any part of that. It is just another sad side effect of our phony meritocracy. I know damned well that I did nothing to merit what I have. I got lucky and I had good teachers–end of story. The flip side of that is that I know that I could just as easily have been poor. I grew up in a rural town in northern New Hampshire at the epicenter of the opiate crisis. People I went to high school with are still there. I, and some of my friends managed to get out and profit from educational opportunities and a thirst for knowledge. It didn’t have to turn out that way for me. There but for the luck the Irish go I. ;-)

    Reply
    1. Optic7

      Good comment. The older I get the more I realize that how well we all do in life is almost(?) completely down to luck.

      The place and circumstances in which you’re born? Luck and luck.
      Your health, both physical and mental? Luck and luck.
      Your parents, family, friends, and community? Luck, luck, luck, and luck.
      Your attitude, intelligence, motivation, curiosity? Luck, luck, luck, and luck.

      That’s not to say that anyone should leave everything (or anything) to luck. We should absolutely try the very best we are capable of doing in all aspects of our lives, if for no other reason than to rest assured that we made the effort.

      Reply
      1. paintedjaguar

        A friend of mine once took offense when I remarked that his successful brother had been lucky. Since the brother was also a close friend, I knew that he was talented and had worked hard (and was good at “networking” too). What I meant of course was that he was “lucky” in that his hard work had actually paid off whereas in many cases it doesn’t.

        Reply
  27. juliania

    Maybe this doesn’t pertain, but leaving the ‘shaming’question on its debatable shelf, here’s another side of things:

    “…At monastic tonsure, the person being tonsured gives among other vows a vow of non-aquisitiveness, i.e. of poverty…In opposition to non-aquisitiveness there are two vices…the vice of stinginess and the vice of greed…The non-aquisitive man ought to be free both from stinginess and from greed, and he ought to say, “what’s mine is thine, and what’s thine is also thine.” …As such, a spiritually understood virtue of non-aquisitiveness ought to render a man open to the world and to people…”
    [“The Poor in Spirit”, Mother Maria Skobtsova]

    Reply
    1. juliania

      Which is just to say that those who might justifiably feel ashamed of themselves in these interesting times are not the poor.

      Reply
  28. Dave

    Organics….. do a google search on the dangers of organic pesticides. The organic farmer often uses more pesticides then the standard farmer as organic pesticides are less effective then synthesized pesticides. So they really douse the crops with pesticides.

    The only difference is the organic farmers must use pesticides which occur naturally. Quite a few of these naturally occurring pesticides have proven to be extremely toxic to humans.

    https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2011/06/18/137249264/organic-pesticides-not-an-oxymoron

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Your comment reminds of me of a book I read many years ago and still have, called The Natural Poisons In Natural Foods.
      http://www.worldcat.org/title/natural-poisons-in-natural-foods/oclc/2118453

      There are some other plant-derived pesticides one could add to those in the NPR article . . . derris, rotenone, solanin from tomato/potato leaves, nicotine from tobacco leaves and stems ( nicotine is what puts the “Black” in “Black Leaf 40”, and others I don’t remember right now but are probably on those lists. Some of them are poisonous to very poisonous to people if ingested too much of at one time. But they are not chronically toxic in tiny cumulative doses over time, the way many of the petrochemical-based pesticides and herbicides are. They are not endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, etc.

      Still, their heavy use by some ( many?) organic growers indicates the ritual-belief basis rather than the scientific information basis of some ( much?) organic agriculture practiced today. The scientific plant-nutrition and soil nutrition knowledge and information used by some organic growers is still just beginning to break out of the parallel-dissident agronomy world viewable in Acres USA and some other such publications. The science-based organic grower seeks to keep his/her soil repleted enough in all the plant-needed nutrients that the growing plant will have fully functional growth and metabolism and immune-system functions working well enough that the plant fails to release the heat-and-chemical signatures of deranged cellular metabolism and thereby fails to attract the plant-eating insects evolved to detect offgassing ammonia, alcohols, etc. combined with the different infra-red heat signature given off by plants with deranged metabolism. Such plants might be thought of as “stealth plants”, hiding in plain sight from plant-seeker insects which are evolved to focus on deranged-metabolism plants.

      My understanding of all this is strictly lay-amateur to be sure. I am not a science-based organic farmer.
      I am a science-inflected semi-organic backyard gardener. Since my survival does not depend on my gardening at this point, I am free to let pests take the plants and try figuring out how I grew the plants wrong to begin with that pests would even arrive. Much of my gardening has been pest-free and most of the pests I do have are small mammals who are looking for different things in a plant than the sickness-keyed plant-seeker insects are looking for.

      Reply
      1. adrena

        I don’t trust the US USDA label. Hence I never purchase vegetables and fruit from Whole Foods.

        I live in The Netherlands for 6 months every year. Here, the regulations for organic produce are strictly enforced. The preferred method is the use of thousands of insects.

        I buy everything directly from the farm. And, best of all, the food is so much cheaper.

        A 25-minute bike ride through the countryside to get to the farm is an added bonus.

        Reply
  29. ewmayer

    Re. the juxtaposition of diet-shaming and high-priced grocery stores like Whole Foods asking for donations at checkout – some basic figuring tells me that Jeff Bezos could feed around 20-30 million Americans nutritious food-bank-style meals every day for an entire year simply with the *increase* in his net worth over the past 12 months. Charity begins at home, right Jeff?

    Reply
  30. adrena

    Checkout shaming

    I’m not poor but sometimes I tell them in no uncertain terms that I think it’s disgusting to ambush people at the cash. Or, I might say in a loud voice: “No, I do not wish to contribute to the children’s hospital”.

    I cannot be shamed ’cause I don’t give a shit what anybody thinks.

    I continue to contribute to a charity of my choice.

    Reply
  31. Luis Goncalves

    Very interesting and diverse points of view. The author of this article definitely has a point, but the solution to those ills (or the opportunity to correct them) requires a lot of discipline. It requires from us to be NON_JUDGING.
    We all do it, and it is hard not to. EVERYTIME we pass a comment or an opinion, let’s consider if we are unconsciously putting down someone for whatever form of behavior we believe they are lacking (e.g. not eating right, not travelling, etc.). We need to open our minds to the possibility that everyone is trying, and that they may, just may, be even more frustrated by their lack of results than we are from them not ‘meeting’ our expectations (which could be totally wrong for them anyway :), hence not achievable). Just sharing a thought…

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      To the shamings listed above, I would suggest adding “organic food shaming” whereby left identified people try to prove their proletarian authenticity by shaming organic food eaters for eating organic food. Right identified people also practice “organic food shaming” in order to pin the limousine-liberal tail on the culture-leftwing donkey and discredit anyone raising health concerns against Petrocorporate mainstream Chemotoxic mass-bulk-commodity feed-stocks.

      To Kareninca way up above, I don’t know what organic chick peas cost per pound at Whole Foods. I was at Lucky’s Market yesterday and priced organic and conventional chick peas there. Organic chick peas are $2.69/pound and conventional chick peas are $1.99/pound.

      Amfortas the Hippie referrenced Malcolm Beck way up above. For those wondering who/what this Malcolm Beck might be, here is a favorable article about Malcolm Beck and also about some garden-related questions by a practicing Academic Agronomist.
      http://www.plantanswers.com/malcom_friend.htm

      https://www.acresusa.com/lessons-in-nature <—- this is a book by Malcolm Beck available from the Acres USA Bookstore. I could have linked to Amazon's offering of same book, but I will not link to Amazon.

      Reply

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