Poverty: A learned and tolerated comfort

Admittedly many of my opinions are controversial.  When it comes to my views on poverty and the poor, I tend to come across as heartless.  Perhaps it is my ability to remove my emotions from situations and look at the principles behind the ideas.  Or maybe I simply refuse to view the adult poor as much of America’s politicians see the adult poor: as invalids who shouldn’t be expected to care for themselves.

Housing is perpetually subsidized through housing programs such as section 8.  Food is provided through programs such as food stamp initiatives (SNAP).  Most schools are providing breakfast and lunch at no cost to the family, and have been for some time.  “Free” cell phones and service to anyone who asks makes the rest of us look like fools for paying for what is essentially a luxury.  Is this not far enough?  Apparently not, broadband internet service is also subsidized for those who can’t afford it also.  Now an increasing number of schools provide food for the students during the summer, and some even provide dinner.    Look, if you send your child to school with no breakfast, no lunch, no dinner, and also apply to have the school provide lunches during the summer, you have essentially admitted you are not fit to care for your child.

There’s a certain political mindset is at work here.  And that is: “The poor are unable to care for themselves and their children on their own, and so we must take care of them.”  There is no shame in being poor anymore.  There is political motivation to give as much no cost-to-the-poor subsidies as possible.  Keeping the public funds flowing helps secure votes.  Perpetual unemployment benefits, perpetual food programs, perpetual housing benefits, without the expectation of moving off those programs will motivate those individuals to vote for the person they believe will keep the money coming in.

Perhaps when we stop treating poor adults as invalids who cannot fend for themselves as if they are not competent enough to get work, food for themselves or their children, a place to live, etc. they will stop acting like invalids.  When we tell them they can do nothing for themselves, that it’s not their fault, and that we must help them, they will see themselves that way.  Being poor in America is far too comfortable and convenient.  The poor have cell phones, TVs, microwaves, computers, jewelry, and at more than $7 a pack many seem to have plenty of cigarettes.

I have no apologies to make.  I support true safety net programs for the truly needy.  It’s just that I disdain the amount and degree to which the “safety net” is openly defrauded and abused with no shame uncontested by those in charge.

At least I have comfort in knowing I am in good company:

(Benjamin Franklin) — I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer. There is no country in the world where so many provisions are established for them; so many hospitals to receive them when they are sick or lame, founded and maintained by voluntary charities; so many alms-houses for the aged of both sexes, together with a solemn general law made by the rich to subject their estates to a heavy tax for the support of the poor. Under all these obligations, are our poor modest, humble, and thankful; and do they use their best endeavors to maintain themselves, and lighten our shoulders of this burthen? On the contrary, I affirm that there is no country in the world in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent. The day you passed that act, you took away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependence on somewhat else than a careful accumulation during youth and health, for support in age or sickness. In short, you offered a premium for the encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder that it has had its effect in the increase of poverty. Repeal that law, and you will soon see a change in their manners. St. Monday, and St. Tuesday, will cease to be holidays. SIX days shalt thou labour, though one of the old commandments long treated as out of date, will again be looked upon as a respectable precept; industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them.

Comments

  1. I agree to a certain extent, but I also know that many people fall through the cracks. Growing up, we were poor – but my mom made too much money as a nurse to receive any assistance.

    Now you might think that being a nurse, she would have plenty of money. But this isn’t true. She worked for the V.A. Hospital and they didn’t pay the going wage for nurses at civilian hospitals. They paid a few thousand less.

    We didn’t live beyond our means either. We didn’t have a big screen TV or a computer or cell phones or new cars. We lived in a duplex. But we fell behind when she came down with cancer and had to take off work. She collected some money while off work, but not enough to keep up with the bills. She also had to pay for her chemo out of her pocket because the insurance plan offered at the V.A. at the time was ridiculous. It wouldn’t cover this one particular chemo drug; the one, as it happened, she needed.

    So the bills stacked up and shut-off notice after shut-off notice followed. We were evicted at least three times that I recall, and we sat in the dark for, one time, six-months. No assistance available. We tried.

    So while I agree to a certain extent that some people are poor because they have no motivation, I disagree that financial assistance for the poor is a big deal. It’s not. It seems to me that corporate welfare is a greater concern. These rich companies take more money in a month than government gives to poor people in a year. I wonder why you never talk about this.

    It’s worth nothing that the same utility company that shut us off for six-months received a huge government subsidy to research alternative fuels. The company came up with ————— wind mills. Cute, ‘eh? Millions of dollars to research something that’s been around, albeit in a different form, since Christ rode a tricycle.

    • I know you know this Terrance, but for other readers I’ll elaborate. I’m referencing people who live off the system. Its their only concern to make sure they renew their programs.

      There are some who really need to be helped while they grow. Its the ones who have little interest in growing because they have learned to tolerate their poverty that I can’t accept.

  2. paynehollow says:

    John…

    I tend to come across as heartless. Perhaps it is my ability to remove my emotions from situations and look at the principles behind the ideas.

    No, that’s not it. It’s because you speak as if you think the MAJORITY of the poor are people who “live off the system” and are deliberately lazy and getting “rich” off welfare.

    It’s because you speak as if the poor are the enemy, or are stupid or are immoral, that’s why you come across as both heartless and ignorant of the facts.

    Most folk who are needy are needy NOT because they want to be, nor because they are lazy. Indeed, many if not most needy folk have to work twice as hard just to scrape by.

    But maybe you don’t mean this. Maybe you only SOUND like you think the vast majority of folk getting assistance in one form or the other are lazy, dishonest and/or immoral. How about it? How big a problem do you think this is?

    I mean, it’s obvious to anyone who works with the poor (as a great majority of me and my friends do in one form or the other) that there are some minority of folk who are less than honest and hard-working. But they are the minority in who we work with. A tiny minority.

    If your complaint is against this tiny minority, then you could benefit from making that clear and clarifying that you aren’t speaking of the majority, just the bad apples. Then we could all agree: Dang them bad apples!

    How big do you think this problem is and what do you base it on?

    That latter question might also help inform you as to why you come across as heartless and uninformed. For most conservative (and liberal) types who bemoan “them welfare cheats,” their entire case is based on “these people I knew who were cheats” or, “My mom worked with this lady and she…,” that is, anecdotal, rather than statistical and representative information.

    ~Dan Trabue

    • I do think a majority of people using welfare services (how ever large – more than half) don’t need it in the sense that they have no other options to care for themselves. For them, a little motivation could get them off the services and choose not to.

      I’m not saying they aren’t poor, but I am saying their condition is self imposed.

  3. “… that is, anecdotal, rather than statistical and representative information.”

    Dan, quite correctly is cautious regarding drawing too much of a broad conclusion from anecdotal information. The problem is, it would appear that his view is based on anecdotal information.

    ” But they are the minority in who we work with. A tiny minority.”

    A couple of anecdotal observations.

    Back in my contracting days, I was looking to hire some folks. I used my connection with the family who ran the largest rescue mission in town to find some homeless guys who were interested in work. One day I needed a few guys short term, so I went into the day room at the mission offering to pay $9.00/hr. (this is probably 10-12 years ago), and out of the 60 or 70 guys in the room I got zero takers.

    Last year, the AmeriCorps intern assigned to me worked at a number of events that our non profit affordable housing provider was involved in and he came in the next day disillusioned. (For the record this is a 22 year old liberal idealistic recent college grad) He was shocked by how much effort was put into helping people get, and keep, various subsidies.

    Part of the problem seems to be that there is a cottage industry of groups who exist to help people get, and keep various forms of welfare or other types of assistance. Rather than to provide people with the means to avail themselves of temporary help, and move on.

    John, what seems heartless to me is not speaking the truth. It’s the development of a class of people who are “addicted” to various forms of public and private assistance.

    This doesn’t even address the fact that what we in the US consider poverty, is a standard of living that millions of people around the world aspire to.

  4. I have no doubt there is abuse because I’ve witnessed it myself. Even members of my own family have, I’m embarrassed to admit, abused the system. Now, how much abuse is another matter. I have no idea. It could be many or few. Truly, I don’t know.

    But what I do know is that, to me, the bigger issue, the one people should blog about, is corporate welfare. This is an issue that, sadly, conservatives have spent little or no time addressing. I wouldn’t characterize that as abuse on the company’s part, but certainly it’s abuse by politicians. They give handout after handout to billion dollar companies that definitely don’t need it. For instance, why the hell are we giving subsidies to oil companies who, year after year, produce record-breaking profits? For cheaper gas? Ha!

    That’s the bigger issue in my mind.

    • I’d discuss that as long as it’s defined. But oil companies dont make that much per gallon, it’s just that everything runs on gasoline so they make billions by volume. The government makes many times what the oil companies do per gallon. Oil is a global market, so the price isn’t as flexible as we’d like. However if we added more to the world’s supply, the price would come down.

  5. T.
    I think the reason this concerns me is the message it sends to the children who grow up in these families. How do you motivate these kids to succeed?

  6. John,

    It doesn’t make any difference how or why they make billions in record-breaking profit; the fact is, they do, and therefore shouldn’t receive any government money. It’s not necessary. it’s a waste.

    Besides, oil companies were a single example. You have mining companies, drug companies, casinos, weapons manufacturers, and even giant retailers like Wal-Mart all receiving a form of corporate welfare. Wal-Mart alone has received more than a billion dollars in “Economic Development Subsidies.” This is a fancy way of saying that government pays Wal-Mart to build new stores.

    Then you have Warren Buffet’s NetJet, Inc. seeking financial incentives from government to build high-class jetliners that — taxis millionaires all over the world. You know, people not quite rich enough to afford their own private jet. And this is the same company that didn’t pay its taxes!

    We also have your friend, Michael Moore, making movies and getting more than a million dollars from the State of Michigan to produce them! So we have a millionaire like Michael Moore taking money away from things like public schools, healthcare, and parks so he can make another movie explaining to us how government has neglected public schools, parks, and people’s healthcare! Yay!

    Craig,

    I agree that it is concerning. But I’m more or at least equally concerned with corporate welfare and the message that sends to our children. And I’d like to see conservatives address this more. If we did, we’d probably win more elections. That isn’t the only reason we should do it, but it’s an added benefit. People are tired of the rich getting richer while the poor get poorer. It is happening. Either through tax increases on the middle-class, healthcare premiums going up thanks to ObamaCare, or whatever. The fact is, the middle-class is dying and people are pissed.

  7. paynehollow says:

    Feel free to look up the actual numbers and do some actual research.

    [one example: MYTH: Poor people are unmotivated and have weak work ethics.

    The Reality: Poor people do not have weaker work ethics or lower levels of motivation than wealthier people (Iversen & Farber, 1996; Wilson, 1997). Although poor people are often stereotyped as lazy, 83 percent of children from low-income families have at least one employed parent; close to 60 percent have at least one parent who works full-time and year-round (National Center for Children in Poverty, 2004). In fact, the severe shortage of living-wage jobs means that many poor adults must work two, three, or four jobs. According to the Economic Policy Institute (2002), poor working adults spend more hours working each week than their wealthier counterparts.]

    But when it comes to anecdotal research, listening anecdotally to dozens of social workers, teachers and educators who deal with the poor, preachers who work with the poor, churches who work with the poor, people who live with the poor, health care workers who work with the poor, mental health folk, etc… listening to THEIR anecdotal stories vs listening to some guy who hired a guy this one time and whose mom used to work with a lady one time… well, that’s sort of apples and oranges.

    Spend a few years actually working closely with the American poor and then come back to me and tell me your experiences.

    John…

    I do think a majority of people using welfare services (how ever large – more than half) don’t need it in the sense that they have no other options to care for themselves.

    Okay, and do you have a source for this rather outrageous and specific claim (more than half??) or is it all just pulled out of your… hat?

    If you’re just making it up, do you mind if we don’t take it too seriously?

    ~Dan

    • Dan

      How about the fact that I see it every day? Every day.

      A study can’t account for whether people are unmotivated especially if they are the ones answering the questions.

  8. paynehollow says:

    You follow people around and verify that “half of the poor and more” are lazy?

    Sorry, John, but I have to say that I can’t find that to be reasonably plausible. BS.

    Again, do you have any REAL support for that wild-butt-guess or is it totally just a fabricated figure, as it seems to be? If you just made it up based on nothing solid, we just can’t accept that as having any serious credibility, John.

    No offense, but please…

    ~Dan

    • I deliver mail in a large city. I see the people I deliver the checks I see the smoking and drinking I see the playing of the lottery I see the hanging out I see the drugs. I see it. The fact that you want to believe otherwise shows your unwillingness to face the problem, that perpetual government creates and fosters idleness.

  9. “Spend a few years actually working closely with the American poor and then come back to me and tell me your experiences.”

    I guess the decade plus I spent hiring, becoming friends with, bailing out, being official witnesses at the weddings of homeless poor people don’t count for crap in your left wing panacea. How many poor have you employed?

    I know there are hard working poor out there, I employed them, I worked alongside them, I build houses for them. Don’t hand me this typical liberal stereotype crap. I know it fits your worldview that all conservatives are mean and don’t care, but how about you spend a little time in the real world.

    The fact remains, whether you want to acknowledge it or not, that there are plenty of people and groups out there (mostly white and liberal) that are engaging in activities that are designed to keep poor folks poor.

    John, I’m sorry, but this kind of crap pisses me off. I’ve put my money where my mouth is for years and actually helped folks, and people like Dan, just live in their own prejudiced little world. I shouldn’t but when people call into question my personal character, it gets me.

    I can laugh it off when Dan let’s his (allegedly christian) buddies get away with crap like

    “(But let’s be honest, given how much the three of them spend time talking about, writing about, and fantasizing about gay sex, I’m not sure that forced gay marriage would exactly be “persecution” for them, if you know what I mean. Unless “persecution” means “wildest fantasies”. And given how much they obviously get off on the fake masochism of their phony martyr complexes, it is pretty evident that for them, it does.)”

    I can pass it off for the petty, childish taunting that passes for wit over there. But when Dan I have talked about what I’ve done, and he still throws out this crap, I get ticked. Again I apologize if this is out of bounds.

    FYI, (I realize that this is a generalization based of some pretty significant experience, but…) In my experience, the Haitian poor will work circles around American poor.

  10. John, I did Section 8 inspections for a while, and I was shocked by the number of houses with huge flat screens (this is back around 2000, when those were seriously expensive).

    • Before I was married my wife used section 8. She moved up to a better job and called the state to have them stop. The woman from the state basically argued with her telling her she could still get the money “everyone does it”.

      Some people support drug testing for welfare programs, but I think cigarette and alcohol testing would be better served, it can be way more expensive. Cigarettes in my state are near $8 and nearly all people in poverty smoke.

  11. Here in the PRM they (the DFL controlled state government) are raising cigarette and alcohol taxes despite the fact that those are the most regressive taxes collected. There is certainly an industry in encouraging people to “take advantage” of various programs designed to help those in genuine need.

    There is a reason why Paul Farmer (no right wing whacko) refers the folks who talk a lot about poverty etc.yet do very little as WL’s .

    I’d also recommend the book When Helping Hurts to get a view of how well meaning folks perpetuate the problems they try to solve using the typical left wing “solutions”.

  12. Dan,

    I don’t think quoting a bunch of leftwing websites is going to make your point. They don’t prove anything beyond the existence of poor people. They certainty can’t quantify motivation, albeit they try.

    I do agree with you, however, that the number of welfare abusers isn’t near over half. I truly don’t know how many there are, but I doubt seriously it’s more than half. I doubt it’s even half.

    My experience with poor people leads me to believe that many are very, very uneducated, to the point that many would test positive for mental retardation. No, I’m not being whimsical; I’m serious. Now this certainly isn’t true with all of them, but for many, in my experience, it is. But some are very bright, just not sure where to begin on the path to success.

    I would like to see – and I’ve told John this before – a comprehensive welfare system that takes care of people, but equally important, educates them. Get these people the education they need. If they dropped out of H.S. ,get them a GED. If they need college or post-secondary training, give it to them. If they’re able to learn, make them, otherwise they receive no benefits. Instead of Welfare-to-Work, we need Education-to-Work. We need to treat the problem and not the symptom. Welfare-to-Work is an example of treating the symptom. They throw these people in menial labor positions that don’t pay the bills, so they still end up needing assistance. And often these kind of jobs discourage them. They work hard yet can’t make due. This must stop. We need to set these people up for success rather than failure.

    • I would like to see – and I’ve told John this before – a comprehensive welfare system that takes care of people, but equally important, educates them. Get these people the education they need. If they dropped out of H.S. ,get them a GED. If they need college or post-secondary training, give it to them. If they’re able to learn, make them, otherwise they receive no benefits. Instead of Welfare-to-Work, we need Education-to-Work. We need to treat the problem and not the symptom. Welfare-to-Work is an example of treating the symptom. They throw these people in menial labor positions that don’t pay the bills, so they still end up needing assistance. And often these kind of jobs discourage them. They work hard yet can’t make due. This must stop. We need to set these people up for success rather than failure.

      T, I agree with this. I think education — the actual experience of seeing a value in being educated — would solve the majority of our nation’s poverty issues. Because the willingness to tolerate poor living conditions is learned, and in the majority of cases it is generational, new kids don’t know any different. So if they were to see real value in being educated, they would desire better.

  13. paynehollow says:

    Yes, there are certainly many folk who are poor due to lack of education and/or lack of some basic levels of mental acuity. My problem is when people (conservatives, typically, but not exclusively) say ridiculous things like “half of the poor folk are lazy and shiftless” which they base on their “extensive” exposure to poor folk as a mail man or as a business owner.

    That sort of conclusion is just obtuse and a sign of a very bad case of rational thinking, at least on that point. Not to mention offensive and an ugly representation of that person. People who say nonsensical things like that, reaching idiotic “conclusions” based on a limited bit of personal experience DO come across as no-nothings with an agenda/bias against poor people.

    I don’t disagree with what you say, Terrance, my dispute was with John’s inane and unsupported suggestion. Thanks. That goes for Craig, as well. I didn’t say what he said and he needs to go back and re-read what I actually said. My objection is not with conservatives (I grew up conservative and know there are many conservatives with a real heart for the poor who don’t make idiotic leaps like, “I know ten poor people – I see them across the street every day – and know they are lazy and shiftless, therefore more than half of all poor people are lazy and shiftless” – that’s just bad reasoning) but with the idiotic wing of conservative reasoning that would make such irrational and unsupported claims.

    ~Dan

    • Dan, I never said half of the poor are lazy and shiftless. I said more than half. But more accurately I said they lack motivation and have learned to tolerate their ordinarily undesirable living standards and conditions. They have learned to live on assistance and are ok to deal with it.

  14. paynehollow says:

    Um, that one line should read “A very bad case of IRrational thinking…”

    ~Dan

  15. “Spend a few years actually working closely with the American poor and then come back to me and tell me your experiences.”

    Yes Dan, I read your words. You’ll notice the quote of your words above. If you won’t be precise enough to clarify who you’re referring to, then don’t get all pissy when people respond to what you actually said.

  16. T. I don’t disagree with you either. But as you said the key is to provide jobs so that people can support themselves. The old safety net v. hammock. I actually re read John’s original post, and his premise is exactly right. There are too many Americans who are entirely to comfortable being taken care of by others. Further there is a group of enablers who are content to keep them there. As far as quantifying it. I’m sure there are plenty of numbers (like the study back in the 80’s that had people becoming homeless at a rate that would have had the entire country homeless in 10 years or so.), but seriously is it a good thing if the number is 49% rather than 51%. How about 25%, is that an acceptable number? While John’s observations may or may not be applicable beyond his own mail route, is not the point. The point is we have a welfare system that allows people to get entirely too comfortable (not physically). This is the reason why I employed the homeless. It’s amazing how people change when they have a job and have some degree of control over their life and future.

  17. “if you want to avoid poverty and join the middle class in the United States, you need to complete high school (at a minimum), work full time and marry before you have children.” As Haskins and Sawhill put it, “If you do all three, your chances of being poor fall from 12 percent to 2 percent, and your chances of joining the middle class or above rise from 56 to 74 percent.”

    How about starting here.

    Eliminate the stigmatization of education in the poor communities.
    Enact policies designed to increase employment for young people.
    Change the perception that proving your manhood requires having sex early and often.
    Change the perception that waiting until marriage for sex and/or children is unrealistic.

    I can’t understand why anyone would suggest that these changes which have this much effect of poverty are not the logical place to start.

  18. “My problem is when people (conservatives, typically, but not exclusively) say ridiculous things like “half of the poor folk are lazy and shiftless” which they base on their “extensive” exposure to poor folk as a mail man or as a business owner.”

    Ironically (heh) and hypocritically, Dan does this very thing constantly to rebut comments he believes are untrue. He believes they are untrue based on HIS personal experiences (“the black folk I know…the gay folk I know…etc), but the anecdotal reports by opponents are worthless.

  19. Craig,

    I like your list.

    “Eliminate the stigmatization of education in the poor communities.”

    Poor communities have public schools just like other communities do. The quality of their educational tools is nowhere nearly as important as the quality of the teacher and the willingness of the students to learn. If the students don’t understand the value of education, success in life is unlikely. I always thought that it would even be worth telling certain kids that they’d be better punks and crooks if they were educated. But as that education was happening, they’d see benefits in applying that toward careers that don’t risk their lives or liberty.

    “Enact policies designed to increase employment for young people.”

    Many kids from poor families want to help their families, but find crime to be the only employer willing to take them on. Idiotic policies, such as increases in the minimum wage, have eliminated part-time job possibilities for these kids. They’ve also reduced the number of adults able to find work as employers are now less able to hire more people because they are told to pay a wage the entry level job is not worth.

    “Change the perception that proving your manhood requires having sex early and often.
    Change the perception that waiting until marriage for sex and/or children is unrealistic.”

    These two are the most problematic due to the morality involved, but really important if reducing poverty isn’t just talk. We are told that we cannot mix religion with public policy, and I don’t know how one can hope to dissuade kids from engaging in sex if there is not an eternal aspect to one’s decisions. They will always think in terms of avoiding the imminent ramifications and not the eternal. Thus, the incentive to abstain is weak.

  20. paynehollow says:

    The difference, Marshall, is I don’t claim that my anecdotes are anything but anecdotes. Additionally, I cited actual data. Additionally, while I am citing my experience and the experience of the dozens of my friends who work closely with the homeless, poor, mentally ill and you are citing your experience as a postal employee and as a guy that worked for a year with a social service agency and your mother’s experience with her two friends at work who knew someone who was poor and lazy… the difference is that not all anecdotes carry the same weight.

    Now, I happen to know that Craig regularly spends time in Haiti working with the poor and God bless him for it. I would not begin to suggest that I have more knowledge on what Haitian poverty means for the folk there than he does, neither would I expect him to reasonably conclude that his experience as an employer would outweigh dozens of years (hundreds of years by the time you count the time of my many friends and co-workers and their collective experiences) of anecdotal experience of those who work closely with the poor on poverty, mental health and social issues.

    Not all anecdotes carry the same weight. To suggest a postal worker’s experience delivering mail to the poor outweighs those who actually work in the field’s knowledge would just be silly and irrational to an extreme level.

    ~Dan

  21. Interesting little dig there Dan. My decade plus of employing poor folks and my 6+ years of building houses for them and my experience inspecting houses for section 8 can’t compare to all of the wonderfulness that you and your friends do. Please don’t take offense, but as far as we know your “many friends” with “hundreds of years” of experience are 2 dudes who drove through the hood once or twice. I’m not saying it’s not true, just that it’s kind of convenient.

  22. Funny how this has gotten off topic, and into anecdotal evidence.

    I’m pretty sure that the point of the post is the there are significant numbers of the poor in America who have learned to accept and tolerate their situation. I’d love to hear anyone actually defend this kind of thing. Yeah, you can take as much from the welfare system as you can with an entry level job, you only lose dignity and self respect. Who in the world would argue that the poor in America need “free” cell phones and “free” internet.

    I read a great quote from a 16 year old South African kid regarding jobs.

    “And I thought what is this obsession with getting a job? You make a job!”

    I’d suggest that a little more of that kind of attitude might go a long way toward moving people out of poverty.

    PS: Why is the goal to move people from poverty to the middle class? Why is our goal so small? Shouldn’t the goal to move as many people as possible from poverty through middle class and on to wealthy?

  23. All I know is that when I was a kid and wanted something, I was told to get off my ass and work for it, that I wasn’t entitled to have it given to me, and who the hell was I to suggest otherwise.

    Dan seems to want to defend all the poor as if they are all victims of some outside oppression. It doesn’t work that way. If one wishes to point to outside factors one could blame, it would have to be leftist economic and social policies first.

  24. paynehollow says:

    Actually, Dan wants to defend the Truth from half-baked “reasoning” and clearly unsupported and unsupportable claims like “More than half the poor are lazy and shiftless. I know because I deliver mail to them.” And when it is pointed out that obviously, this character DOESN’T deliver mail to more than half the poor people in our country and, even if he did, that doesn’t qualify him to make the judgment based on that little bit of information that more than half the poor are lazy. That is just a goofy claim.

    Now, if you want to say something SUPPORTABLE, say it in a way that is defensible. Like, “In my experience, it seems like an awful lot of people that I think are probably on welfare don’t have a strong enough work ethic…” you can defend that. I can’t claim to know what “your experience” might be and you can make THAT claim all day long if you want. But an individual’s lightweight experience delivering mail to folk is hardly proof of anything other than their own experience.

    But he’s not spending time with these folk. He doesn’t know the medical and mental history of these folk. He’s making what seems like a prejudiced and goofy claim based on a few moments walking by their homes.

    I’m defending using good arguments and reason, not passing off one’s anecdotes of proof somehow of a vast conspiracy of lazy poor.

    If you will look at my actual words, I have not begun to make ANY claims of what “all the poor” are victims of, so the same goes for you, Marshall: You can’t just make empty claims and think they should pass as rational or defensible.

  25. paynehollow says:

    Craig…

    My decade plus of employing poor folks and my 6+ years of building houses for them and my experience inspecting houses for section 8 can’t compare to all of the wonderfulness that you and your friends do.

    Craig, I’m merely pointing out the obvious: That being an employer of a few poor folk (how many? 100? 500? 25?) over even ten years and your experience building houses in Haiti does not, in and of itself, make you an expert on US poverty. Is that not fair?

    And I’m not claiming to be an ultimate expert. BUT, my wife has 28 years of experience working directly with homeless people and families, serving no doubt thousands of people over the years. We have lived with homeless families in our home for several years, ourselves.

    My church has worked with folk in poverty for well over 30 years, working with thousands of people in a daily drop in program, spending time with them in their homes (or on the streets, for many of them), again, dealing with thousands of urban poor.

    We have another fella at our church – a doctor – who has worked dealing with the health care needs of the poor, mentally ill and homeless for over 25 years, again, dealing with thousands of poor Americans.

    We have a church social worker who has worked with the urban poor for over 20 years, again dealing with thousands of homeless, mentally ill and poor over her decades.

    We have a church mother who has worked with the poor for decades (I don’t know how many) in social service agencies and in church settings, again, dealing with thousands of poor folk over her work life.

    And I could go on. We have literally dozens of social workers, mental health workers, volunteers, health care workers, etc, who have a vast experience spanning decades and tens of thousands of folk in poverty in the US (and others with a great deal of experience working with the very poor in places such as Morocco, Nicaragua, Guatemala, India, etc).

    I am NOT saying our experience collectively trumps yours and means that your work with the poor has contributed nothing to your knowledge. I know you well enough, Craig, to feel like I know you have a heart for the poor, here and abroad, just as MANY of my conservative family and friends do. Your experience is vital and important and no doubt, has given you some insight.

    BUT, if you want to take your experience and then use it to suggest that it supports the claim that over half the US poor are lazy and shiftless, then maybe you have not learned that much after all. DO you support that claim, made by John?

    Or, to be fair, here is what John claimed…

    I do think a majority of people using welfare services (how ever large – more than half) don’t need it in the sense that they have no other options to care for themselves. For them, a little motivation could get them off the services and choose not to.

    I’m not saying they aren’t poor, but I am saying their condition is self imposed.

    Do you think there is ANY evidence to support John’s claim (which was in response to my question, “Maybe you only SOUND like you think the vast majority of folk getting assistance in one form or the other are lazy, dishonest and/or immoral. How about it? How big a problem do you think this is?”) and, if so, where is your evidence?

    And do you think it’s reasonable that a mailman can use his experience delivering mail to make such a claim? THAT is what I’m harping on here, not any of the other stuff you all are claiming that I’m talking about.

    ~Dan

  26. paynehollow says:

    John, if on the other hand, you want to clarify and state clearly, “NO. I most certainly do NOT think that over half the poor are lazy and shiftless, my only point was that in my experience, too many folk that I personally see receiving aid could make it without it, if they only changed their attitudes and made better decisions…,” well, at least you’d be down to a rational statement, making claims ONLY about what you’ve seen, not all the US poor, and that would be helpful for clearing up the confusion as to why you come across as heartless and irrational in your approach to US poverty.

  27. paynehollow says:

    Craig…

    I’m pretty sure that the point of the post is the there are significant numbers of the poor in America who have learned to accept and tolerate their situation. I’d love to hear anyone actually defend this kind of thing.

    I know of no one who’s defending that at all. To the degree that such behavior exists in folk able to make a living on their own, it’s not a good thing.

    Craig…

    Funny how this has gotten off topic, and into anecdotal evidence.

    I am the only one to have actually cited the studies and info that demonstrate more authoritatively that being poor does NOT equate with being lazy or shiftless. Do you have any studies to support the suggestion that the poor ARE lazy? Or would you agree with me that this is not a fair representation of our poor brothers and sisters, en masse?

    Yeah, you can take as much from the welfare system as you can with an entry level job, you only lose dignity and self respect.

    I know of no one seriously suggesting that any able bodied (and minded) folk should live off of “welfare.” Do you?

    Beyond that, even if “welfare” “paid” more than a minimum wage job, TANF (TEMPORARY Assistance for Needy Families) is only for families and is TEMPORARY. You can’t just remain on TANF and live off of those welfare payments. Also, from the TANF website…

    •With few exceptions, recipients must work as soon as they are job-ready or no later than two years after coming on assistance [60 months total possible in an adult’s lifetime].
    •To count toward a State’s work participation rate, single parents must participate in work activities for an average of 30 hours per week…
    •Failure to participate in work requirements can result in a reduction or termination of a family’s benefits.
    •States must engage a certain percentage of all families and of two-parent families in work activities or face financial penalty.

    Additionally, if you read the website, tasks that TANF support include education and work-readiness programs of the sort mentioned by Terrance. In other words, this “welfare” program encourages and prepares folk for work.

    Sort of the opposite of encouraging people to live off “welfare.”

    Oh, also, the website states specifically that the purpose of TANF is “a renewed focus on work, program integrity, and strengthening families through healthy marriage promotion and responsible fatherhood.”

    Does this sort of idea (ie, “welfare” that encourages folk to work, that is DESIGNED to be a TEMPORARY step on the way to gainful employment, that counts work-readiness skills and programs as a good part of what is covered in the time you’re TEMPORARILY getting assistance, promoting healthy marriages and responsible fatherhood…) seem like a good idea to you all? It seems to be exactly what you’re speaking of and something hopefully we can all agree is a good thing for the gov’t to promote.

    As to your list, Craig (“Eliminate the stigmatization of education…,” etc), it is a fine list. No one would serious disagree with those goals. The question is, how do we go about doing it?

    I would add that probably most people who work with the poor and see their actual needs and difficulties upfront and more fully (than say, a postman walking through their neighborhood) would probably suggest that one thing a good number of struggling families and individuals could most benefit from would be case workers and mentors. Of course, folk are in dire straits for a number of reasons. But some of the more common ones would include mental and educational deficits, disabilities (psychological and physical), drug abuse and poor work/social habits that have been learned.

    We have worked with many beloved community members who, for instance, simply aren’t as mentally capable as others – whether that’s retardation or borderline retardation or more severe psychological troubles – and, while their backs and arms may be strong enough to work, in order to make it through the days working regularly, they will often need some support of some sort. Someone who will patiently guide them, mentor them, give them coping skills, etc.

    Now, if you met these people on the streets at a brief passing, they may seem capable enough – and they ARE – but you generally wouldn’t know the full story.

    Ideally, these case workers and mentors could be family members, church members, concerned neighbors – and I fully support churches, families and communities taking on these challenges (which can be quite time- and energy-consuming, believe me). But, lacking that, all of us supporting and voting for MORE assistance in the form of case management will be working to improve society, as a whole.

    You know, like should come (ideally) through programs like TANF.

    ~Dan

  28. paynehollow says:

    So, you DO think that more than half of the people on some form of welfare (including or excluding corporate welfare and the elderly?) are lazy and shiftless?

    How about it other fellas? Craig? Do you really want to support this? Do you really think that John’s extensive mailman experience makes him a credible gauge of how lazy and shiftless poor people are?

    • Corporate welfare referee to tax exemptions, not cash payouts from other tax payers. Corporations keep more of their own money while the poor get other people’s money. See the difference? And I don’t count the elderly in my assessment.

      I suppose being a Kentucky hillbilly in the muddy woods qualifies you to know more about it? My experience at my former jobs (deputy sheriff, police officer, and state marshal) also qualify me. But as a mail carrier I have delivered in 4 large urban cities. I have come into contact with more than 400,000 different families in the last 10 years. And an overwhelming majority are poor. So please, tell me about the poor guy from your church and the one up the road.

  29. paynehollow says:

    I live in Louisville, KY, John. The 16th largest metropolitan area in the US (the last I heard). We’re not a NY, but we’re not a small town, by any stretch, either.

    The point remains incredibly solid: If you want to know accurate and specific information, you go to the experts and those most well-versed in the numbers and on the ground reality. I have no doubt that you have fleeting encounters with poor folk. But that does not make you an expert. That’s not a criticism, just an observation.

    I would be loathe to pass myself off as an expert on postal policies or what day-to-day life is like for the postal carrier. I don’t find it wise or credible for you to pass yourself off as some kind of authority on the urban poor.

    How many days have you spent going around with the poor, studying their efforts and trials? How many studies have you taken part in? What sort of credentials do you have?

    The problem with the no-nothing wing of the conservative camp is their belligerent anti-science/anti-knowledge stance. Just because you observe people does not make you a sociologist or a psychologist, John, nor does it make you an expert on the poor in any kind of rational position to make a credible estimate as to how many of “the poor” are lazy and shiftless.

    That isn’t an insult in any manner. Just a plea for some sound reasoning.

    Craig? Terrance? Anyone?

    ~Dan

  30. Dan,
    The problem I think we’re having is that I’ve never made any claims for my experience, beyond the experience I and others in my circle have. If you want to keep score, i can do that. I’m not trying to claim hundreds of years of experience based on other people. Again, I can play that game, I just think it’s stupid and pointless. I have no desire to speak for others, or to try to use others in my circle to buttress my personal credentials.

    You may have noted that I have not supported John’s claim. I feel pretty confident that he just might have a pretty good handle on the folks on his mail route, but beyond that who knows. His point still stands, that a significant portion of the poor in America have become pretty content with their situation. Who really cares if John is using hyperbole to make a point. Any is too many.

    Although you have cited “studies’ I haven’t spent enough time digging into them or looking at others to care. You forget that you are the one who slammed John for basing his claim on anecdotal evidence, then used anecdotal evidence to make your point.

    The studies I’ve been looking at is what are the predictors of poverty, and how current US policy doesn’t do much to support changes in those areas.

    Yes, if you focus on ONE aspect of welfare, it doesn’t equate to an entry level job. However when you add up the various federal, state, and local assistance programs the situation changes.

    I notice you bring up those who are “…simply aren’t as mentally capable as others – whether that’s retardation or borderline retardation or more severe psychological troubles – and, while their backs and arms may be strong enough to work, in order to make it through the days working regularly, they will often need some support of some sort. Someone who will patiently guide them, mentor them, give them coping skills, etc.” The problem with this sort of anecdotal example, is that no one is suggesting that these folks don’t need help. The actual point of the post is that there are a significant number of American poor who have become accustomed and comfortable in their circumstance. Not that there aren’t people who have legitimate needs.

    A suggestion, how about putting forth a little effort in helping these less “mentally capable” find jobs that they can do. I find it hard to believe, given my family special needs family members who have full time jobs, that some wonderful caring experienced folks couldn’t find at least some of these folks employment. Wouldn’t that be preferable?

    Actually, I’d suggest that ideally, you’d want actual community members mentoring and advocating for these folks rather than government bureaucrats. (While were claiming other peoples experience I have a number of folks I go to church with who do this very thing)

    As far as sound reasoning, I’m loath to dismiss John’s experience because it doesn’t exactly line up with mine. I also am loath to believe that your hundreds of years of other peoples experience has produced significant positive results. This is not an insult in any manner, it is statement of rational fact, I have no objective evidence to evaluate your claims.

    I’m not sure I find it rational to dismiss John’s claims a priori because he’s not a socialist or psychologist, while using yout own (although mostly others) anecdotal stories to present yourself as someone who is more credible. Again, this is not an insult in any way, just a reasonable rational observation based on the anonymity of the medium we’re using.

    • I think Dan is too dismissive of my experience. My experience goes beyond “my mail route”. I have delivered all of New Haven, all of Hamden, all of West Haven, most of East Haven. Look into the populations of those cities. Also I was a deputy sheriff, I saw criminals and communities first hand. I was a state marshal, I worked the court system and have seen the people there that I deliver mail to today.

      Because I have seen the same thousands and thousands of people over a decade’s time in the same conditions doing the same things making the same poor life decisions, I think I have some ground on which to speak.

  31. Dan, by what standard are you claiming Louisville as the 16th largest city in the US. According to Wiki it’s 27th. Just curious.

  32. 27th by population. 50th by media market. 43rd in metro area. Just curious.

  33. “For most conservative (and liberal) types who bemoan “them welfare cheats,” their entire case is based on “these people I knew who were cheats” or, “My mom worked with this lady and she…,” that is, anecdotal, rather than statistical and representative information.”

    OK anecdotal information is automatically bad and of little value.

    “I mean, it’s obvious to anyone who works with the poor (as a great majority of me and my friends do in one form or the other) that there are some minority of folk who are less than honest and hard-working. But they are the minority in who we work with. A tiny minority.”

    Except when it allows Dan to support his point.

  34. paynehollow says:

    As I pointed out, quite reasonably, Craig, Not all anecdotes carry equal weight. A social worker who works every day for a quarter of a century with all sorts of homeless and poor folk who has some anecdotal stories to make some point is one source. A mail courier who has delivered mail through poor neighborhoods is another.

    Tell me, John, how many deep conversations have you had with the poor while working on your mail route? Have you spent an hour a week conversing with poor folk? Has it been on topics central to their poverty or simply passing the time of the day politely? How many conversations have you had with these customers about what deficits they might have and what resources they might have? Have you spent an hour a week talking with actual people about their actual problems?

    Half an hour every other week? Two hours a day?

    Do any of you seriously think that someone who spends even two hours a day (and seriously, John has not done this – maybe two hours a month? If that??) has the same level of basic information/data on which to make a reasonable assessment that someone who works 8 (10, 12) hours a day, every day, week in and week out over decades?

    Or can we agree that not all anecdotes hold the same gravitas?

    Get serious, fellas.

    But go ahead, BELIEVE that half and more of the poor are lazy and shiftless. Just don’t be surprised that people think you have a problem with poor folk and with reason.

    ~Dan

  35. I could be wrong, but I don’t think so, that Dan is the only one using the terms “lazy and shiftless” to describe poor people. This isn’t untypical, as Dan likes to use extreme hyperbole to paint the other side in the worst possible light (“it soundslike you’re saying…” “do you realize how that sounds?”). I share what I believe John’s position to be, that most of the poor in this nation are victims of their own decisions and actions, that very few are truly victims of the decisions and actions of others.

    While recent economic and social policies have exacerbated the problem of poverty in this country (the Food Stamp President), many of those impacted were not living in a manner that reflected the possibility of the poop hitting the fan. They lived as if it would always be sunny and no rainy days were possible. Others simply did little else but manage their personal economies poorly, despite free education available to improve their ability. Does this mean they are all shiftless and lazy? Hard to tell. The country has fell into depressions before.

    As Craig’s list shows, there are ways to reduce the likelihood of poverty. There’s some form of laziness involved with ignoring just those Craig listed. How many are into delaying self-gratification, which covers all sorts of things? Cell phones and flat screens suggest that few are willing to do so. There’s a form of laziness in not fighting off the urge to splurge. If Dan wants us to use those hyperbolic terms, it can be done while still not being the heartless bastards Dan chooses to believe we are.

  36. paynehollow says:

    Marshall…

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think so, that Dan is the only one using the terms “lazy and shiftless” to describe poor people.

    Then state your position, loud and proud. I keep offering this option. IF you don’t mean to sound so bigoted and hateful against “the majority” of poor folk, then make it clear and say, “NO, I do NOT think most poor folk in the US are lazy and shiftless.”

    I’m saying, quite clearly as you note, “This SOUNDS like you’re saying…” If you’re not saying that, then speak up. I believe John IS saying that, he refuses to back away from it.

    But if you don’t believe it, all it takes is a second to clarify.

    ~Dan

  37. paynehollow says:

    sorry about the italics…

  38. paynehollow says:

    Marshall…

    I share what I believe John’s position to be, that most of the poor in this nation are victims of their own decisions and actions, that very few are truly victims of the decisions and actions of others.

    Beyond that, Marshall, if you “believe” that “very few” are poor except by their own decisions, then support it. Where are the studies that demonstrate this?

    If you can not support such a claim and if you won’t make it clear that you don’t think “most” poor aren’t lazy and shiftless, are you surprised when people think that you have a problem with poor people, as a class?

    ~Dan

  39. paynehollow says:

    What I’m objecting to is the anti-science, anti-reason, emotional, “Me-“based approach to scorning the poor. “I see people who LOOK lazy to me and even though I don’t know anything about their situation, I’ve decided that this appearance is how “most” poor people are! And you can’t tell me otherwise cuz I sawed it mysself!”

    We’re adults, we should discuss policy like it and not be afraid to admit we don’t have support for our prejudices if we can’t support it and admit that it’s just a hunch that has no support.

  40. “Then state your position, loud and proud. I keep offering this option. IF you don’t mean to sound so bigoted and hateful against “the majority” of poor folk, then make it clear and say, “NO, I do NOT think most poor folk in the US are lazy and shiftless.””

    I don’t know that any of us are required to refute every goofy and dishonest misrepresentation put forth to bias the discussion away from your opponent’s position.

    I would also say that no scientific study is needed to support every position put forth, particularly when the point is so obvious. Give your own personal beliefs about wealth avoidance, you put yourself at risk for extreme poverty should a catastrophic illness or injury, God forbid, befall you or a family member. Your decisions and choices put you in this situation. Poverty is a strong possibility for you should such a thing occur because you choose to live as you do. Is that “lazy” or “shiftless”?

    More to the point, how are we NOT responsible for our own conditions given the liberty we enjoy in this country?

    “If you can not support such a claim and if you won’t make it clear that you don’t think “most” poor aren’t lazy and shiftless, are you surprised when people think that you have a problem with poor people, as a class?”

    That you ignore or dismiss what we say does not constitute a lack of support. But no, I’m not surprised that people like you think we have a problem with poor people. You’ve proven yourself on that score many times. When you speak about how something we say might sound to others, you’re really speaking for yourself and how you mean to portray people on this side of the ideological divide.

  41. Interesting, the words lazy and shiftless don’t appear to be in the original post at all. So as a point of fact the only one using the terms lazy and shiftless as Dan. Which seems to be misrepresenting John’s original point.

    Of course Dan also seems to provide the information to back up his claim the Louisville is the 16th largest city in the country.

    I’m not trying to be insulting or anything, but is it reasonable to misrepresent what others believe and then attack them for it?

  42. paynehollow says:

    You’ll have to take it up with the Census Bureau, Craig… (admittedly, they’re saying 17th, not 16th largest. I missed it by one)…

    source.

    The point is, I am not from some “backwater” as John wanted to irrationally and ignorantly suggest, as if that were some attack on my reasoning (as it was, clearly, it only illuminated John’s emotional and irrational arguments for what they are).

    Craig…

    I’m not trying to be insulting or anything, but is it reasonable to misrepresent what others believe and then attack them for it?

    Craig, JOHN made the statement, “I tend to come across as heartless. Perhaps it is my ability to remove my emotions from situations and look at the principles behind the ideas…” and offered other rather grandiose and self-congratulatory “reasons” as to why he comes across as heartless. I pointed out it had nothing to do with his rather noble illusions, but rather, the way that he irrationally and heartlessly seems to categorize the poor as lazy and shiftless. I then proceeded to offer him several chances to clarify and make a clear statement, “NO, I do NOT think the poor are lazy and shiftless…”

    He continually declines to make it clear that he does not think this. As do you all. I am asking you ALL that question, just so you can take the opportunity to make it clear (well, with the blessed exception of Terrance who clearly and rationally disavowed that kind of sweeping generalization.)

    But ask him yourself to make it clear. “John, DO YOU think the poor are lazy and shiftless?” Maybe he’ll directly answer you. And maybe you’ll answer yourself to make it clear for you.

    Oh, Craig, and by the way, you want to talk about attacks? Perhaps you’ll set yourself apart and also take John to task for this attack…

    I suppose being a Kentucky hillbilly in the muddy woods qualifies you to know more about it?

    Classy as hell, John. And I mean that quite literally.

    ~Dan

    • Now that’s out of touch Dan, I must say. I called you a “Kentucky hillbilly in the muddy woods” in response to your dismiss me as just a mailman. That’s a little lesson is petty dismissals. Hope you learned something.

  43. paynehollow says:

    There is NO dismissing in noting that you’re a mailman. I LOVE postal carriers. God bless ’em!

    But noting the real world fact that you are a postal worker and not an expert in poverty issues able to generate believable statistics is not an insult or dismissing, it’s just noting that we each have our areas of expertise.

    I no more expect a social worker with dozens of years dealing and researching in poverty issues to be able to cite accurate postal statistics than I expect a postal worker to reliably cite poverty statistics.

    No insult intended in noting your actual vocation, I’m sorry if you took it that way.

    On the other hand, referring to Kentucky hillbillies in the muddy woods IS intentionally insulting. And I DO expect a postal worker to be able to understand the difference.

    ~Dan

    • So you’re saying that unless I’m some kind of sociologist my decade+ of experience witnessing the same people doing nothing with their lives except wait for their check means nothing huh.

  44. paynehollow says:

    No, John. I meant what I said, nothing more, nothing less. I did not say your experience “witnessing” poor people means “nothing.” Just that it’s not the same as working with the poor indepth, nor is it the same as researching poverty issues in a scholarly manner.

    Do you think it is?

    ~Dan

  45. paynehollow says:

    ? Is that an answer to my question?

    So (Craig and anyone else) is it NOT unreasonable to ask John if he’s inferring that the poor tend to be liars (more than half)?

    ~Dan

  46. paynehollow says:

    In my experience, my poor friends and acquaintances would much rather have a job. They don’t want hand outs, it’s demeaning and doesn’t pay enough, anyway.

    But then, I get to know folk at a deeper level than just passing by them on the street and making a judgment based on how they might appear at a glance (lazy, dishonest and shiftless??).

    ~Dan

  47. Maybe it’s a minor quibble, but it seems the point of the article you referenced was that they kind of had to massage the numbers to get the 16/17 rank. As I pointed out, since most of what I saw had L-ville much lower.

    http://www.ntc-dfw.org/northtexas/poplargestmetro.html
    http://www.stationindex.com/tv/tv-markets
    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0763098.html

    Maybe I should re ask my earlier question since you chose not to answer it. Once again. Is it reasonable to misrepresent someones position, then to attack them based on the misrepresented position, rather than the actual position?

    Next unanswered question. Are anecdotal observations an acceptable way to make a point or an unacceptable way to make a point?

    As far as John, I’ve repeatedly pointed out what about his position I feel is problematic. I see no reason to continue just to make you happy. Personally, I’m not sure any of us is qualified to make any sort of reasonable judgement as to the validity of his anecdotal observations as opposed to your “friends”. Not insult anyone or call into question either party, it’s just that the blog comment format is anonymous enough without suggesting that Dan (who for all intents and purposes we really know very little about) can invoke his “friends” (who we know even less about) as some sort of rational point of discussion. I’m not doubting the existence of these folks, nor the possibility that they do what you say, but there is really no way to verify that, nor to verify how successful and effective those efforts are. For example, if I had to I could produce evidence of what the group I go to Haiti with accomplishes (Number of clinic patients, number of surgeries, number of glasses, etc.) and I could even quantify the outcome (went from 20/100 to 20/40 vision etc.). However, I’m not sure how you would quantify or measure success. Let me repeat, this is not a criticism of what you/yours do, nor is it an attempt to elevate what we do in Haiti over anyone or any thing. I am simply pointing out that you can claim to have these hundreds of years of collective experience that you value very highly, but there is no way for any of us to even begin to evaluate your claims. Personally, I have no doubt that you/yours do quite a bit, but I can’t verify my hunch. By the same token, I find it presumptuous to discount John’s account of his experience simply because it doesn’t fit into your (or maybe my) template of validity. For all I know John could be 100% wrong (or 100% right or somewhere in between). For all I know, despite the hundreds of years of you/your collective experience, the poverty situation among those you work with could have gotten worse ( or better or stayed unchanged). This is why I think this kind of thing gets dangerous. You sound pretty proud of what you do/have done, fine. Is your pride at the point of sin? I don’t know, and wouldn’t care to guess. Is mine? I hope not. I try pretty hard to be honest and humble about what I may of may not have done. Does it always work, no. But I try.

  48. paynehollow says:

    To be absolutely clear on my part, I’m not saying that “the poor” don’t lie, never ever, they’re saints! I’m just saying that they are us. No different, as a rule, albeit disadvantaged for a variety of reasons.

    And to be absolutely clear, I’m not saying that those reasons are never self-imposed. Poor folk – just like wealthier folk – make mistakes, make bad choices, err.

    I’m just objecting to sweeping generalizations that are unsupported by anything other than casual observation. “The poor lie!” “The poor don’t want to work, they just want to sponge off of others!”

    Generalizations are rarely a good way to get at truth. And it is ridiculous to make a wild claim (more than half the poor lie moreso than the general population! More than half the poor are just looking for a free ride! etc) that one can’t support and expect to be taken seriously.

    And those on John’s side who agree with me would serve your “side” better by admitting it and taking him to task. Then we could begin serious conversations about how best to help.

    ~Dan

  49. Yes your question to John is unreasonable, as he has not said that. What he did say is that it is reasonable to think that if a poor person is taking a survey, they might be less than honest in their response either due to shame or in thinking that a certain answer will benefit them some how. It is quite a step from that reasonable premise to suggest that the words you put in his mouth are accurate.

    “In my experience, my poor friends and acquaintances would much rather have a job. They don’t want hand outs, it’s demeaning and doesn’t pay enough, anyway.”

    So this bit of anecdotal observation is supposed to prove what? I thought you were all about science and statistics and graphs and tables and stuff.

    I think I now have the answer to my earlier question.

  50. http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/population/estimates_and_projections–states_metropolitan_areas_cities.html

    Spreadsheet #20 from the US census bureau has L-ville at #42. So, I guess your argument is with the census bureau.

    This really isn’t a huge deal, I’m sure that you all have plenty of poor to help and to draw inferences from your observations. However, if you are imprecise about something as easily verified as this, it call into question the precision of your other observations. Which seems germane.

    One totally unrelated and completely off topic observation. In my experience the non US born poor I work with are significantly more likely to put forth extra effort to improve their lot in life than those born in the US. Maybe this is a topic for another post. I have some suspicions,based on my interactions with non US born poor folks, but nothing that I could state with any certainty.

  51. paynehollow says:

    sigh. Craig, I cited based on my last memory. As you see in my source, the local paper ran the story just two years and in that story, we were listed as 17th. Yes, there are vagaries in the ways they do these sorts of counts and yes, the city likes to put the highest number as possible. THE POINT STANDS: Louisville is a large city, not some minor little town.

    The point stands, John was being an ass when he made a jerky comment about Kentucky.

    The point stands, you are being an ass by nitpicking minor inconsequential tidbits in order to be a partisan hack while ignoring the very real assaults on reason and decency.

    Again, you are exposing yourself as a partisan hack, only interested in debating your gnats while swallowing your camels.

    Grow up, fellas. Reason like men.

    And this BS…

    Next unanswered question. Are anecdotal observations an acceptable way to make a point or an unacceptable way to make a point?

    has been answered and re-answered. I am sorry you haven’t got the mental wherewithal to read and comprehend actual meanings from actual words written and insist on reading INTO words meanings that aren’t there, but that is really your problem, not mine.

    I’d ask if you are ever going to answer any of my questions now that I’ve pointed out how many times I’ve re-answered your questions and addressed your sloppy reasoning, but now that you’ve thoroughly exposed yourself as WHOLLY uninterested in anything but partisan bickering, I think we know the answer to that.

    Lord have mercy.

    Dan

  52. Dan,
    As I said, if you can’t research something a simple to find as how large the city you live in is, it calls into question other assertions you make. Further, had you just said, hey I made a mistake and used a bad old source, it would have been less of an issue. However, you chose to get huffy about it instead of a simple humble “my bad”.

    You might have noticed that I stipulated that Louisville was medium sized city and that I’m sure you have plenty of poor folks there. If you didn’t I accept your apology for missing it.

    “The point stands, you are being an ass by,” not just admitting your mistake and moving on.

    As to John’s comment is this;
    “I suppose being a Kentucky hillbilly in the muddy woods qualifies you to know more about it? ”

    really any worse than this;

    “On the other hand, when the government starts mandating gay marriage for str8s, then I’ll be happy to agree that MA, Craig, Bubba, and the rest of their fundie Scooby Gang are actually being persecuted. Until then, they should shut up and sack up (as the kids say these days).

    (But let’s be honest, given how much the three of them spend time talking about, writing about, and fantasizing about gay sex, I’m not sure that forced gay marriage would exactly be “persecution” for them, if you know what I mean. Unless “persecution” means “wildest fantasies”. And given how much they obviously get off on the fake masochism of their phony martyr complexes, it is pretty evident that for them, it does.)”

    You excoriate John for substituting anecdote for study, you excoriate John for saying things he didn’t say, while expecting others to accept your anecdote as gospel and putting words in the mouths of John and others. Strangely you don’t seem to see any problem with this double standard.

    I’ve answered your questions, as usual, while waiting for you do do the same. It’s not surprising, yet still somehow disappointing.

    When I have a chance I’ll probably throw out a post on the topic I broached above. I seriously think that there is a cultural aspect to poverty that is overlooked. That way we won’t go further off topic.

  53. Interesting use of the “partisan hack” card, given that there has been almost zero discussion of the political aspect of this problem. heaven forbid we lose the chance to do a little unwarranted name calling.

  54. “The point stands, John was being an ass when he made a jerky comment about Kentucky.”

    Thankfully for me, Craig reposted John’s comment. It makes it easy as it supports what I was going to say, which is…

    John didn’t make a jerky comment about Kentucky. He made a jerky comment about YOU, Dan. It followed the jerky comment you made about him being a mere postal worker. Don’t whine about someone returning volley. It’s bad form and…whiny.

    “I am sorry you haven’t got the mental wherewithal to read and comprehend actual meanings from actual words written and insist on reading INTO words meanings that aren’t there, but that is really your problem, not mine.”

    How ironic, Dan, given that you insisted on reading into John’s words meanings that aren’t there. He never used the words “lazy” and “shiftless”, but you insist on, not merely inferring those terms, but injecting them into his meaning. That really IS your problem.

    OK. THAT was fun.

    There seems one angle not considered in this tangential back and forth about anecdotal evidence. It is far more than merely possible that each people are dealing with different classes of poor people. Craig indicates this with his comparison between Haitian poor and American poor. Two different classes. Thus, it could very well be that the poor encountered by John over the past many years, is of a different class than those holy and perfect poor that Dan lauds. Just a thought.

  55. paynehollow says:

    And yet, NOT A SINGLE ONE OF YOU will step up and clearly affirm, “NO, I do not believe poor people are lazy, shiftless or that they tend to be liars…”

    If you can’t say something that clearly suggests a baseless attack and then be willing to clarify when asked, then it’s time to either accept that you DO sound like you’re doing a biased and irrational attack against groups of people or change your mind about clarifying your points.

    But go ahead, insinuate that the poor are as a class are liars, that they are lazy and shiftless. The evidence for those who have eyes to see is there. People don’t work 2-3 menial jobs, take care of their kids, walk all over the place and do their best to manage their homes (or lack thereof) and remain lazy. There is ZERO evidence that poor folk are more likely to be liars and it is contrary to sound reason.

    Shame on you all for not being willing to admit reality and for your attacks on the poor.

    The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows to bring down the poor and needy…

    Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?

    ~God

    Shame on you.

  56. paynehollow says:

    Re: “Not a single one of you…”

    with Terrance being the blessed exception. Good on him.

  57. “And yet, NOT A SINGLE ONE OF YOU will step up and clearly affirm, “NO, I do not believe poor people are lazy, shiftless or that they tend to be liars…””

    Consider it not dignifying a stupid question with a reply. Nothing said suggests such a sweeping opinion by anyone here. A more profound question would be why you insist on inferring the worst about those with conflicting points of view? Don’t your realize it sounds like you are trying to be an asshat? You’d do well to re-read John’s post and return with a more honest attitude as regards his meaning.

  58. paynehollow says:

    Marshall, if someone reads something I’ve written and interprets something ENTIRELY DIFFERENT from what I actually wrote (and believe me, you all do it all the time), I will almost always quickly and clearly refute the false understanding, for clarity’s sake.

    Look, here is (at least one – I think there are more) examples of this IN THIS VERY THREAD. John said…

    So you’re saying that unless I’m some kind of sociologist my decade+ of experience witnessing the same people doing nothing with their lives except wait for their check means nothing huh

    And I responded…

    No, John. I meant what I said, nothing more, nothing less. I DID NOT SAY your experience “witnessing” poor people means “nothing.” Just that it’s not the same as working with the poor indepth, nor is it the same as researching poverty issues in a scholarly manner.

    It’s really quite easy and all it takes to clear up a misunderstanding. IF you are saying things that sound like to others that you are bigoted against the poor (and many of you all REPEATEDLY do this) and someone asks you for clarification, WHY would you NOT clarify?

    Is it that hard to say, “NO, Dan, I do not think the poor are lazy, shiftless or liars, in general…”?

    ~Dan

  59. paynehollow says:

    Or YOUR VERY OWN example of saying…

    It followed the jerky comment you made about him being a mere postal worker.

    When all I did was point out that he WAS a postal worker, not a social worker. It’s a different knowledge base, not an insult. What is insulting or “jerky” about pointing out the reality that he is a postal worker, by his own testimony?

    What IS insulting is to suggest that someone with zero experience actually working with the poor, mentally ill and homeless or studying the topic in a scholarly manner is somehow able to make a conclusion about what percentage OF THE WHOLE GROUP OF POOR folk is lazy and shiftless (or whatever it is he believes, since he won’t disavow that), but based merely on casual and passing observations in a poor neighborhood.

    As I said, IF he wants to say, “In MY experience, I have seen an awful lot of poor people who don’t seem to need any assistance and who appear to be lazy, shiftless and/or basically dishonest…” then he can legitimately say that. It’s the stereotyping of people he does not know AT ALL as a group that is the rational problem. Too many folk will look at what appears to be a poor person driving what appears to be their own Cadillac and who appear to be entirely healthy and then they’ll jump to conclusions, as if they know the background of the story and then conflate that to “over half” of “the poor,” as a group.

    That is an emotional and 1″ deep analysis of poverty. We need rational and well-considered analyses of these sorts of problems, not shallow and emotional.

    ~Dan

  60. This all has to do with human nature. We all wish making a living was easy. For some, the wish is granted in the form of a government check. It is naive to suggest that most of the people receiving welfare haven’t figured out that the money they receive is more than most of them could get from a job they’re qualified to perform. And the longer they’re not working, the worse their prospects for earning become.

    Liberals believe things about people that simply aren’t true. The truth is that human beings are basically selfish and lazy. All of us. When the path of least resistance presents itself, we take it.

    We hear stories of rich kids, having been given every opportunity in life to become at least productive members of society (if not as rich as their daddies), who blow it. Genetics, opportunity, connections… None can stand up to the crippling power of spoiling a person.

    Do liberals not know this about ourselves? Do they think giving alone will make people better? When we hear about a kid escaping the slum, do they not know that that’s the exception? The rule is generational poverty. The kid from the slum who makes it out, by some miracle, does something different than those who stay and continue to take.

    And what’s amazing is the fact that anyone would leave the gaurantee of welfare at all. It would seem that our selfish nature would be satisfied by a constant stream of money for our entire lives without any strings attached. But, again, that’s the rule. Generational dependence.

    It doesn’t matter to me that some people abuse the system. I think it’s far worse that the system abuses the people. How many of the “truly needy” are truly needy because they’ve never had to earn even enough to afford the poor conditions in which they live? How many have been ruined while being raised seeing the example of paid life-long idleness?

    Yes. They are indeed needy. They lack the expectation of their neighbors that they lift a finger to help themselves and others.

  61. paynehollow says:

    C2C…

    And what’s amazing is the fact that anyone would leave the gaurantee of welfare at all.

    Speaking for myself, my friends, my family (and in my friends and family, I count the poor ones and those on welfare in amongst them)… NONE of us want or desire the “guarantee of welfare…” Why would we? Work is good, it’s healthy, it’s desirable, it’s wholesome. It makes me a better person and helps me make my community a better community (at least GOOD work is thus).

    This is true for the majority of poor, homeless and mentally ill folk that I and my community surround ourselves with. Are there some poor or unstable folk who DO want to live off of others? Sure, absolutely, but at least in my community’s fairly extensive first-hand experience, they are the exception, not the rule.

    Beyond that, the “guarantee of welfare” is a pretty miserable existence. Who would want that? I’m just saying that, in my experience, most people – across the socioeconomic spectrum – WANT to do good, meaningful, helpful work. So, where you conclude…

    The truth is that human beings are basically selfish and lazy. All of us.

    …I’m just saying that, while we ALL have our selfish and lazy moments, this is not true at all for most people I know, including the poor and homeless and mentally ill. Perhaps you are just hanging out with the wrong people? (I say that as a good-natured jibe, not a serious attack, by the way…)

    ~Dan

  62. “NO, I do not believe poor people are lazy, shiftless or that they tend to be liars…”

    Since NO ONE has said this, why should we respond to. Lazy and shiftless are your (Dan) words not John’s or anyone else’s. Similarly, NO ONE has stated categorically that all poor people tend to be liars. If anything we should remonstrate with you for continuing to misrepresent what actually has been said. Rather that remonstrating with John for what you have said.

    But, just to be clear, I have addressed this concern you have. Both from what I see as a lack of precision on John’s part, aw s well as a lack of accurately representing John’s point on yours. I fail to see any value in covering this territory again.

    Or you could explain why it’s OK for you to whine about an obvious tongue in cheek comment, while you lambaste conservatives for whining about what the perceive as legitimate concerns. Or, just explain why you let you homies get away with much worse than you’ve gotten here.

  63. Dan,

    It’s not about “wanting” to do good work. It’s about people being conditioned not to do it. I’ve met folks with jobs who don’t want to make more money because certain “free” benefits will cease to be available to them. They actually do good. They’re not lazy (in nature, yes. But not in action). But they have been put in a position, by the system, in which they don’t want to do any more good than is required.

    If there were no welfare, how would one feed themselves? The same way I do without welfare. Go and help someone. In return, they give you money. That’s what money is for. To reward help.

    Money is not, as some have suggested, a resource. A dollar is a note. The note is meant to say, “The holder of this note helped me. Help the holder of this note and take it. Then give this note to someone you need help from”. If you hold a note like that without having helped someone, you’re a cheat.

    That is, of course, unless you are truly unable to help anyone in any way. We are to take pity on such people. But, a bloated government program is not the way to determine who is truly unable to help. That should be left to the individual or community groups.

    I am perfectly capable of deciding whether a person is deserving of my charity. And by the way, we already do exactly that when we give above and beyond our taxes to certain charities who have made a compelling case. There is no case to be made by welfare programs and the politicians who implement them. There is no requirement, other than a means test, to determine who is “deserving” of earned money. “You don’t HAVE money? Now you do! Don’t forget to vote!”.

    You know what happens when you make money? You go to jail. It’s called counterfeiting. Why is that a problem? Because counterfeiters cheat the system! They’re SUPPOSED TO HELP people in order to “have” money.

    Welfare, socialism, communism are based on the idea that people are lazy and selfish. It is supposed that you are entitled to someone else’s help because you need it. I need it! We all need it.

    The difference is that I’m EXPECTED to help. Not because I can (according to my ability), but because I have! “Rich people can afford it”. Well, hell yes, I can afford it! I’ve helped people! I did what I had to do in order to honestly and proudly hold the note!

    Taking without giving should be seen as shameful, whether you are able to give or not. If you’re truly worthy of my charity, come to me with your head hung low, if only to set an example to younger or more able-bodied people, so that they will want to help me and not be shamed.

    Heartless? NO! If you can’t help, I’ll help you, to the best of my ability, and willingness. What more can be asked of me?

    But no one’s asking. They’re just taking. And that’s the problem.

  64. paynehollow says:

    Craig…

    Since NO ONE has said this, why should we respond to.

    Because it SOUNDS like this is what you’re saying. JUST LIKE when you all repeatedly misinterpret/misunderstand me and I correct your misunderstanding. Repeatedly.

    If I can do it for your misreadings/misunderstandings, why can’t you all do the same thing?

    And it’s why I generally say these sorts of things in the form of a question (“You don’t really mean to say…, do you?”), to GIVE you the opportunity to clarify. So WHY NOT?

    ~Dan

  65. paynehollow says:

    C2C…

    And by the way, we already do exactly that when we give above and beyond our taxes to certain charities who have made a compelling case. There is no case to be made by welfare programs and the politicians who implement them.

    And I, for one, FULLY support charities, families and non-profits assisting the poor. It is MY PREFERRED choice for dealing with problems of need. At any point, the private sphere can kick gov’t out of the poverty/social needs business by stepping up and meeting all the needs (to a reasonable degree). BUT, the case to be made for gov’t welfare programs is that the private sphere is not meeting the needs sufficiently. Poverty costs society and for that reason, it is properly within the sphere of gov’t to step up when the private sector fails to do so.

    I seriously wish the conservative side of society would take this as a challenge: You don’t want gov’t involved in assisting in social needs? THEN TAKE CARE OF THEM YOURSELF. But you can’t have needs going unmet and then complain when the gov’t steps up and does what needs to be done.

    Having said that, I’m not sure how your response is addressing my comments to you. My point to you was that I don’t find people to be generally selfish and greedy. We have our moments, to be sure, but you know what? This morning, I went to work gladly, talking to some homeless folk along my walk to work and did so gladly and in love.

    I walked the 2.5 miles to work, and home again (requiring more time and effort – the opposite of lazy and greedy) because I want to live aright in a way that is less harmful and more healthy and wholesome. Just as I do every day. I left work and went to help my son with a project involving working with two young kids and I did so gladly and with great joy, not miserly and with a grinchy spirit. From there, I went to help my elderly parents with a plumbing disaster at their house. I didn’t have to leave work early, though, because my nephew is living with them out of love and sharing to help them.

    Along the way, we stopped by church to assist a new church friend (really, a stranger), along with the rest of my church, who was moving into her new home.

    I don’t do this to point to myself, I am hardly the most generous person, just average (at least in my circle of friends and acquaintances). But that’s the point. I’m just an average guy and I’m not in any way extraordinarily greedy or selfish. C2C, I bet YOU’RE not greedy or selfish, either.

    We ALL (most of us) do things like this all day, every day, taking care of the elderly, of the children, of the lonely, of the homeless, of the needy, our friend, family and even strangers. Why? Is it because we’re greedy and selfish and have some ulterior motive? No. Is it because we’re threatened to be sent to a burning hell if we don’t do these things? No. We do it because of our basic humanity, or, for those of us with a religious bent, because of that of God within each of us.

    Are you really saying that you and your community of friends are that different than I and my community of friends, and that you’re actually greedy and selfish? I bet that’s not the case, but you tell me.

    ~Dan

  66. “Marshall, if someone reads something I’ve written and interprets something ENTIRELY DIFFERENT from what I actually wrote (and believe me, you all do it all the time), I will almost always quickly and clearly refute the false understanding, for clarity’s sake.”

    This isn’t entirely accurate, that we do it all the time. What is more the case is that we state conclusions that are drawn directly from your comments, and then you back-peddle because you don’t like your own sentiments reflected back to you. This is different from the manner in which you choose to characterize our comments in the worst possible light, making wildly extreme analogies that bear no resemblance whatsoever to our point.

    The example you used regarding John ( beginning with “So you’re saying that unless I’m some kind of sociologist my decade+ of experience…”) represents a logical conclusion inferred from you comments. It’s nothing like injecting things like “lazy and shiftless” where it wasn’t used.

    In short, you say one thing and do another.

  67. paynehollow says:

    No, the difference is, I read your words and ask, “Do you really mean THIS, because that’s what it sounds like you’re saying?” – and that is simply a reasonable request for clarification… whereas, you all tend to read my words and say, “So, you’re saying THAT…” – not a request, typically, just a declaration, and I respond, “NO, if you look at my actual words, you can see that I did not say THAT at all and I don’t believe THAT, rather, I believe just what I said…” and then, you all still keep on saying I think THAT, even though it’s been clarified for you that THAT is not what I believe at all.

    In short, you all tend to continue to peddle falsehoods after it’s been clarified, with nary a “whoops! my bad…” And historically, you all DO do it regularly. As demonstrated, you DO IT IN THIS VERY POST.

    And the difference between asking someone to simply clarify what it SOUNDS like they’re saying (a point that NONE OF YOU – except Terrance – has YET to do) and making a false claim and then having it clarified and STILL hanging on to that false claim is the difference between adult conversations and childish ones; the difference between respectful, grace-full conversations and obtuse and belligerent ones.

    Shame on you who do this.

    ~Dan

  68. Dan,

    Now you quibble. When we state the conclusions that are provoked by your words, do we really need to precede it by asking “Do you really mean…?” We can’t help that your words say what they say. That’s on you. But we can at least connect the dots, as it were, between what you say and our conclusions provoked by what you say. Therefore, the response would naturally be the same regardless of whether the question is asked or implied.

    Conversely, you do NOT do the same thing. You put forth some wild and disparate alternative to what we say which cannot be reasonably inferred by honest people. You create an extreme alternative (which cannot help but paint us in the worst possible manner) and assert it reflects our words and sentiments without any effort to show how it could be an accurate reflection of our words. This dishonest tactic has been pointed out time and again by many people.

  69. “Because it SOUNDS like this is what you’re saying.”

    So what. Since when is your perception reality. It doesn’t matter what it SOUNDS like, it matters what is ACTUALLY said. John DID NOT use the terms shiftless and lazy, yet you continue to use them despite being corrected on this matter multiple times. You continue to misrepresent what has actually been said in favor of your straw man version of what has been said. You while about a tongue in cheek comment about hillbillys, yet you allow much worse to go unchecked at your blog. Yes ask a question, I and others answer it, then you keep asking it, why is that?

  70. paynehollow says:

    Craig, you have no credibility. Your refusal to call your comrade on an obviously offensive remark gives you no credibility to criticize others.

    As to my blog, here’s your problem: When someone (like Marshall, for instance) starts off with offensive, jerkish commentary and people RESPOND IN KIND, I tend to let it go. If your side “starts it” and people are merely responding in kind, well, it’s not my preference, but they’re just receiving what they gave. And, as a point of fact, I have deleted MANY more such comments from folk on “my side” than I have from your “side” and I have criticized – publicly and in private emails – those who use abusive language, even if it is only responding in kind to your side’s bad behavior.

    You, on the other hand, appear to want me to delete and criticize negative commentary from my side but not do the same for those on your side.

    Thus, you have no credibility or rational defense for this off-topic red herring.

    As to this…

    Since when is your perception reality.

    I’m not sure what you’re failing to understand. THIS IS HOW COMMUNICATION WORKS.

    Person A makes a statement and, in the statement, he makes a reference that SOUNDS like he’s suggesting something bigoted, for instance.

    BUT, to be fair, person B asks for clarification: “It sounds like you’re suggesting something bigoted… is that what you mean?”

    This is not an attack, it’s not a falsehood, it’s not stupidity, it’s not misleading. It is A QUESTION giving the other person a chance to clarify.

    This is how communication works. What part of that is problematic?

    As stated, you have no credibility, brother. I don’t know if you are just so unskilled and ignorant in communication that you make these continued attacks or if you’re being deliberately belligerent and obtuse. I presume the former, but when you are corrected and re-corrected on it, it begins to appear you are being deliberately misleading and a divisive person.

    If so, I rebuke that sort of behavior, in the name of the God of Grace. Shame on you.

    If the latter, well, I’m sorry, but I’ve explained things to the best of my ability. If you have a question, feel free to ask, but answer the questions asked of you first. That is how communication works.

    ~Dan

  71. paynehollow says:

    Craig…

    Yes ask a question, I and others answer it, then you keep asking it, why is that?

    Okay, demonstrate your answer. The question is, “Do you think that the poor are, as a class, lazy and shiftless?” Where is the answer, “NO. I do not think that…”?

    I see that Terrance directly answered that, but not you, not Marshall, not John. When I asked John, here is his response…

    No Dan, I stand by my estimate.

    And again…

    Dan, I never said half of the poor are lazy and shiftless. I said more than half. But more accurately I said they lack motivation and have learned to tolerate their ordinarily undesirable living standards and conditions.

    A reasonable person would conclude that John thinks that “more than half” of the poor are lazy and shiftless, which he then goes on to explain means that MORE THAN HALF lack motivation.

    As to you and Marshall, the closest you have said is responding by saying, “No one has said that.” But why not just address it straightforwardly? “No, of course I don’t think that. I never said that, and I don’t think it.” That is how I address the MANY, MANY times you all conclude something that I never said.

    And you know what happens in each of those times? There is never an acknowledgment. “Oh, okay, thanks for the clarification, it sure sounded like that’s what you were saying to me, glad to hear that’s not what you meant…” kind of thing. Just more falsehoods being repeated on top of already clarified falsehoods.

    So, if you can point to the place where you directly answered that question, please do so and I will certainly thank you and apologize for missing it.

    ~Dan

  72. “But why not just address it straightforwardly?”

    Why do you insist incredibly stupid and/or purposely demonizing questions must be answered? What’s more, by your own reprinting of John’s response, he DID clarify his position by saying “But more accurately I said they lack motivation…etc” He totally clarified that he did NOT say “lazy and shiftless”. But again, you bring up such a stupid and demonizing possibility and expect the person to dignify it? Where do you get off?

  73. One more thing, Dan…I do NOT “start it” at your blog. I respond to your posts and then get crap from you and the kids. Happens every time.

  74. “The question is, “Do you think that the poor are, as a class, lazy and shiftless?””

    My answer is that it is a stupid and pointless question since NO ONE has suggested that “poor are, as a class, lazy and shiftless”. Why is this so hard for you to understand. Ask a question that relates to the reality of the post and comments and you’ll likely get a different answer. As long as you continue to misrepresent what has been said and to claim that John has said things that he demonstrably has not said, i see no reason to play your game.

    “A reasonable person would conclude that John thinks that “more than half” of the poor are lazy and shiftless,…”

    No a reasonable person would conclude that in John’s experience he believes that more than half of the poor people who he encounters “lack motivation” and “ave learned to tolerate their ordinarily undesirable living standards and conditions.”. A reasonable person would jump to that conclusion by reading the actual words that he used, not by substituting loaded and polarizing terms in order to misrepresent what was actually said.

    Personally, as I have said repeatedly, I’m not sure I agree that John’s “more than half” accurately reflects conditions beyond his experience. I would also say that if a letter carrier consistently delivers checks to more than half of the poor people on his or her route, that might be a reasonable basis to conclude what John has.

    “You, on the other hand, appear to want me to delete and criticize negative commentary from my side but not do the same for those on your side.”

    Nope, not at all. I’ve not said that. This is the kind of misunderstanding that happens when you assume you know best what other people want, rather than paying attention to what is actually said. What I have said is that the comment at your blog is at least as offensive as John’s tongue in cheek “hillbilly” joke. The fact that you whine about John’s joke while allowing your “christian brothers” much more latitude makes your indignation seem a bit spurious. I’ve told you dozens of times, that if you want to encourage that kind of thing at your blog you should be completely free to do so. If you choose to allow those kind of intentionally provocative comments (yes a certain someone has repeatedly said that he intentionally comments to provoke.), then you don’t have much room to whine or get indignant when you get a little bit directed your way.

  75. Dan, You and I help people because we are conditioned to do so. This says nothing about our basic nature. We’ve grown up surrounded by good examples. There are those who grow up with the example of idleness. And those idle get paid.

    And to be clear, you don’t help people because you are basically good. You do it because you have been conditioned to do it by a community (of friends, family, and church) who EXPECT IT of you. You’re acting in self interest. You would be ashamed not to help your family. You would be shamed by your community. You would prefer not to have to feel guilty.

    That’s what society is all about. Look at the ten commandments. Why would God have to tell a bunch of basically good people to do basically good things? Isn’t it because He thinks we need to be told how to act? What is expected of us? Why isn’t there only one commandment: “Just, do what comes natural, and all will be fine”?

    Romans 7:18 I know that good does not live in me–that is, in my human nature. For even though the desire to do good is in me, I am not able to do it. (TEV)

  76. paynehollow says:

    C2C…

    You do it because you have been conditioned to do it by a community (of friends, family, and church) who EXPECT IT of you. You’re acting in self interest. You would be ashamed not to help your family. You would be shamed by your community. You would prefer not to have to feel guilty.

    If I may speak for myself (and my community), we do it because it brings us joy, as much as anything. Yes, there may be some shame element involved, but mostly, living aright is its own reward. It’s a good and right and pleasant thing to do, even if it may be momentarily unpleasant (changing a diaper on a child I’m watching in the nursery, for instance).

    So, are you saying you only do good things because you’d be ashamed not to do so? Doing hard work does not bring you joy and a sense of pleasure, as well?

    I would agree that we can be taught (“conditioned”) to “enjoy” bad things, as well – being lazy, shirking off work and letting others do it for you, etc. But I guess, no, I would ultimately disagree with you. I think such bad behavior is innately hurtful to our souls, psyches and bodies and we innately know it at some level.

    I’m saying that we are God’s beloved children, created in God’s image (and God’s image is one of goodness and good work, I’d say), created “a little lower than the angels,” created with that of God within us, with God’s light built into our soul and God’s Spirit calling us on the way. We certainly DO have a sin problem, a sinful nature and we will sometimes do those things we don’t want to do, but that’s just it, we DO want to do the Good and Right, it’s part of our being a creature of God, seems to me.

    Are you saying that you have nothing within you that wants to do the Good and Right and you only do so from a sense of shame? I rather doubt that is true of you, and don’t see it in my own poor, sinful self and know I don’t see it on my blessed community of folk around me, including my poor and needy friends and community.

    We have a homeless drop in center open every day at our church (which is, by all accounts, a hard and great work we do with joy and pleasure, despite its difficulties) and the homeless guys tend to be as helpful and appreciative – even despite their dire circumstances and often rough upbringing – as all of Heaven. We do have bad experiences, as well – someone coming in high or whose mental illnesses are causing them to act out – but they don’t generally seem lazy or unhelpful. They certainly DO have some learned bad behaviors, but those tear them up and they don’t want to do the bad that they sometimes choose to do.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    ~Dan

  77. paynehollow says:

    As to this question…

    Look at the ten commandments. Why would God have to tell a bunch of basically good people to do basically good things?

    I would say to help clarify and codify what we already know innately – the Bible teaches us that God’s Word/Law is written on our hearts and we can see this apart from the Bible. Is there anyone (apart from the sociopath with disordered thinking) who doesn’t know deep inside that it’s wrong to steal, to kill, to lie?

  78. Dan,

    “Living aright is its own reward” is yet another example of what I’m talking about. We have all kinds of quips like this to try to convince ourselves to do good, against our nature. There’s a certain comfort in following our sinful nature. Doing good things are often not immediately apparently rewarding (changing a diaper, for example). Doing bad things is often very immediately seemingly rewarding (porn, pre/extramarital sex, drugs, theft).

    You come here and tell us you help those in need. For the record, I’m happy you do. Good for you. But that’s the point: I’ve just given you a reward in the form of praise. What you don’t do is come here and proudly list your vices. You may be addicted to porn (not that you are). But I’d never know it, because there’s no expected reward for telling me.

    So, if you were a person who is playing the system, would you go to Dan and tell him you were? Or would you tell him you really WANT to do good? You’d hide the bad and display the good. It’s impossible to tell the difference between the honest and the liars.

    The difference between you and the government is that you probably wouldn’t go out of your way to give food to a guy who rolls up to the shelter in a new Caddy. He’d be ashamed. And rightly so. The government would, because asking for money from them is all that’s required.

    I honestly believe that government welfare ruins people. My church takes people in and feeds them. But the money with which to do so is limited, so we’re on the lookout for scam artists. We must. And we can. So, we do. The government feeds scam artists. Very few questions asked.

  79. paynehollow says:

    So, I’m not sure what your point is, C2C. I repeat my question to you:

    Are you saying that you have nothing within you that wants to do the Good and Right and you only do so from a sense of shame?

    ARE there people who scam the system? Of course there are. Just like there are “hardworking wage earners” who try to scam the system in various ways. Just like we all may occasionally cut corners in our favor.

    Are they representative of the whole? No, there is no evidence that I’ve seen to suggest that. Do you have any evidence that the “scammers” in the welfare system or the workplace either one are representative of the whole? Where is that evidence?

    My point is while there are those who scam all systems and while we all have our laziness and false moments, I don’t see that as being representative of the whole of us most of the time.

    And for the record, I enjoyed changing diapers in its own funky way. I laughed and my kids giggled (when they were old enough) and it was gross little joyful moment I have shared with my kids (and others…). And I’m not pointing that out for a “reward” on my part, I’m saying I’m representative of most people I know. We all do what is right because it is right, because there is joy, comfort and peace of mind in so doing, not because we are shamed into doing it or exclusively because we’ve been conditioned to embrace the good (although that certainly helps).

    Are you saying that you and those you know best only do the good for reasons of shame and selfishness?

    ~Dan

  80. paynehollow says:

    C2C…

    We have all kinds of quips like this to try to convince ourselves to do good, against our nature.

    Another question: While it is absolutely true and observable that our human nature is flawed and has a tendency to sin, do you not agree that it is just as true and observable and biblical to note that we are created in GOD’s image, to do good? That we are created a little lower than the angels? That we have that of God within us? That we have God’s Word, written upon our very hearts/souls?

    For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

    ~Ephesians

    “What is humanity that you are mindful of them,
    a son of man that you care for him?
    You made them a little lower than the angels;
    you crowned them with glory and honor
    and put everything under their feet.”

    ~Hebrews

  81. Dan,

    I do many good things just to avoid being ashamed. Other good things (like work) I do out of necessity. Other good things I do are because I am required to (expected to). Any good thing above and beyond my own self interest are done out of having been conditioned to do so (“it’s better to give than to receive”, and such). Generosity is learned. The natural state of man is selfishness.

    Even when things are relatively good, we yearn for something better. That’s why we have contracts of certain types. To prevent parties from acting in their own selfish interest. Marriage, for example. If it’s in us to do good, why would we have to have a marriage contract? Certainly, the good thing to do is to have and to hold, forsaking all others, but we have to promise in front of witnesses to do so, so that we may be held accountable. Someone a long time ago (I believe it was God, in whose image we are made) came up with marriage to combat our natural urge not to be monogamous.

    I don’t think that we should forget that we are also creatures of habit. If we practice doing good at an early age, at the direction of a higher authority, then we’re likely to find comfort in continuing to do good. Likewise, if we are taught at an early age that it’s acceptable not to work, but to stay home and take money from folks who “can afford it”, we’ll find comfort in continuing on that path for years to come.

  82. paynehollow says:

    So, you and your friends (assuming they want you to speak for them) DO do Good only for reasons of shame and conditioning, not for the joy of doing good and knowing you’re doing the good you were created to do? Your natural state is selfishness, is that what you’re saying? And, given your “natural” choices, you’d always choose selfishly?

    I would have to say you can speak for yourself, but I doubt that you are naturally all that selfish. I’m sure you, like all of us, have your selfish moments, but I rather doubt that you’re naturally selfish. But if you insist you are, I’ll defer to your own self-knowledge.

    But are you speaking of BEYOND yourself? You say, “the natural state of man is selfishness…” so you’re suggesting that you think that all people everywhere and in all times are naturally selfish. What is your support for that?

    I have certainly seen children from a young age openly share things with no obvious selfish motives. I have to suggest that you can speak for yourself, but I don’t know that you can speak for all of humanity on this point.

    Peace,

    Dan

  83. Dan,

    Doing good for the good feelings it may bring is selfish. And that’s ok. It’s good that there is that motivation. But, it’s a reward.

    And children are the best example of what I’m talking about. Children are naturally selfish from day one. And that’s ok, too. They need to cry out of hunger and discomfort. And until they are able to listen to reason, all our job is is to cater to their every need, most of which only become apparent to us by their ACTING selfishly.

    It’s hard to train kids to act selflessly. Their very first conditioning is “I cry and stuff gets better for me”.

    Try asking a five-year-old to give their Teddy bear to a needy child. If they do, it’s because they feel some guilt. And that’s IF they do. For most, losing something they want is too unbearable a prospect to willingly go along with. They’ll keep the toy for themselves.

    And I’m not speaking “for” anyone. I’m speaking about everyone. We have to be able to generalize when we talk about the nature of things. After all, you are saying that, generally, people want to do good, right? We just disagree about what is generally true.

    I may be willing to concede that we all generally want to do good, if you would be willing to consider that someone might think that taking is good BECAUSE it is said that giving to them is a good thing. That for the good giving to happen, there must be a “good” taker. Isn’t it possible that the dwindling stigma attached to just taking makes it easier for a taker to believe that his taking is as “good” as anything else they might do?

  84. paynehollow says:

    C2C…

    Doing good for the good feelings it may bring is selfish.

    Merriam Webster defines Selfish…

    concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others

    Doing good for good feelings is not, at least by this definition, selfish. Changing a baby’s diaper because, 1. it needs changing and 2. it gives you joy to be able to help that baby, even in an unpleasant task, is not selfish, not by that definition.

    Perhaps you are speaking of “self-interest,” rather than selfish? Or are you using some other definition of selfish? Acting in one’s own self-interest is not necessarily a bad/negative thing. Acting selfishly IS usually considered to be bad, seeking one’s own pleasure WITHOUT regard to others, that is what makes something selfish, right? So, if I enjoy drinking and driving because I enjoy the feeling of driving fast with a buzz, that is NOT acting in one’s self-interest and it IS acting selfishly and that is wrong. But doing some kindness because it makes you feel good to just do a good thing, that is NOT selfish, but could be considered acting in your own self-interest. Maybe.

    Are we using these words the same way?

    As to your question: Is it possible that a dwindling sense of shame about not working (for instance) at the societal level could lead to some folk not working as much? Sure, it’s possible, maybe even likely. For SOME people. But would this be a widespread problem? I don’t think so. I don’t work because I’m shamed into doing so. I work because I enjoy working. I would HATE to live off begging or borrowing from others. I think that sense of wanting to do right is innate, God-given. Part of God’s Word written upon our hearts. Do you disagree?

    ~Dan

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