Squaring the Culture




"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

04/14/2010 (1:52 pm)

Welcome to the Republican Party

I clipped the following from an email newsletter I somehow started receiving a few months ago, from Guns & Patriots. The author is Mike Piccione, the editor. Take it away, Mike…

I recently asked my friends’ little girl what she wanted to be when she grows up. She said she wanted to be President some day. Both of her parents, liberal Democrats, were standing there, so I asked her, “If you were President what would be the first thing you would do?”

She replied, “I’d give food and houses to all the homeless people.” Her parents beamed.

“Wow…what a worthy goal.” I told her, “But you don’t have to wait until you’re President to do that. You can come over to my house and mow the lawn, pull weeds, and rake my yard, and I’ll pay you $50. Then I’ll take you over to the grocery store where the homeless guys hang out, and you can give them the $50 to use toward food and a new house.”

She thought that over for a few seconds, then she looked me straight in the eye and asked, “Why don’t the homeless guys come over and do the work, and you can just pay them the $50?”

I shook her hand and said, “Welcome to the Republican Party.”

…Her parents still aren’t speaking to me.

Mike Piccione
Editor, Guns & Patriots

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19 Comments »

April 14, 2010 @ 5:20 pm #

I don’t think that’s an original with him.

Not that it’s any less likely to be true!

April 14, 2010 @ 6:13 pm #

Love it! Odd, I too started receiving their e-mails a while back and don’t know why. Apparently someone is handing out addresses.

question: do you know if the new, “Daily Events”, e-mail really IS from Human Events?

April 15, 2010 @ 1:09 pm #

Despite common perceptions, no liberal I know (and I know a lot), want to just give free handouts. Everyone agrees it would be better for people to work and earn a living wage doing so. Implicit in this email is the fallacy that poor people are poor by choice or because they’re lazy. That’s simply untrue. The United States has one of the greatest disparities between the rich and the poor in the developed world. Is your argument that Americans are by and large lazier than people in other countries and that’s why we have more poverty?

Also, even the Right believes in charity. Isn’t one of the arguments against government social programs that charity ought to be done on an individual basis or through churches and private community groups?

April 15, 2010 @ 3:28 pm #

“…and that’s why we have more poverty”

Do we really? “…have more poverty,” that is? How do YOU define poverty?

Federal laws keep defining “poverty” upward on the income continuum for the purpose of qualifying recipients for assistance programs (eg., up to 400% of the poverty level.”) Meanwhile, as best I can determine, NOT included in any federal poverty definitions are any transfer payments that the “poor” ALREADY receive, i.e., food stamps, Medicaid, school lunches, refundable tax credits, and the like.

We will never be rid of the bottom income quintile; however, that does not necessarily make all those folks “poor.”

I also have a quibble with this statement: “…one of the greatest disparities between the rich and the poor in the developed world”

So what? Why does disparity matter? Why is it bothersome that some have more, sometimes far more, than others? If the “others” still enjoy an equal or higher standard of living compared to almost anywhere else in the world, why do you hold disparity to be such a problem?

April 16, 2010 @ 9:25 am #

On poverty…
http://skeptisys.wordpress.com/2008/03/19/human-poverty-index-us-ranking/

http://www.globalissues.org/article/4/poverty-around-the-world

http://www.prb.org/Articles/2002/PovertyintheUnitedStatesandOtherWesternCountries.aspx

Even Alan Greenspan has commented that wealth disparity is a problem.
http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0614/p01s03-usec.html

The liberal dream is, at its base, simply a fulfillment of the idea that America is a land of opportunity. The indeed all men are created equal and deserving of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, regardless of which economic class you happen to have been born into. (Or skin color or sexual orientation.)

Inherent in the idea of opportunity is economic mobility. That hardworking individuals can improve their lot in life. That someone born into poverty has a, if not equal then at least reasonable, chance to succeed based on merit. Unfortunately, despite the fiction, this is not what we see in the US.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_mobility#Economic_mobility_in_the_United_States
http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2008/02_economic_mobility_sawhill.aspx

Liberals also want fairness in taxes. The conservative complaint is that we take from the rich and give to the poor, those lazy bums. The liberal complaint is that we take from the poor and give to the rich. Last year, the most profitable corporation in the world, Exxon Mobile, paid $0 in US taxes. General Electric, with 10.3 billion in pre-tax income, reported a tax benefit to the tune of 1.1 billion!
http://www.forbes.com/2010/04/01/ge-exxon-walmart-business-washington-corporate-taxes.html

It’s absurd that a company raking in billions of dollars pays less taxes than you or me. And that means the tax payers are picking up the tab for them. We’re paying for their fire protection, their police protection, the roads their employees use to get to work.

And why should the CEO of, for example Ford, rake in $3 million in a year, hundreds of times for than the people actually building the cars? Because losing $14.6 billion shows what a wonderful job he’s doing? That he’s smarter and more deserving than everyone else?
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/story?id=7165296&page=1

April 16, 2010 @ 10:47 am #

>>Implicit in this email is the fallacy that poor people are poor by choice or because they’re lazy.>>

Well…not by choice perhaps, but often because they’re lazy.

>> That’s simply untrue.>>

Your authority for this would be…????

April 16, 2010 @ 11:58 am #

Ah, I see, the rise in unemployment since the economic collapse is due to laziness. Silly me.

And children born into poverty aren’t held back by a lack of food or access to quality education, but just pure laziness, is that it? They have just as many opportunities to succeed as children of middle-class and wealthy parents do?

Sure, there are a few exceptional kids who manage to break out of the circumstances they were born into, but we don’t ask that children of wealthy people overcome such obstacles.

“Well…not by choice perhaps, but often because they’re lazy.”

Same question, your authority for this would be???

“The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”
-Proverbs 29:7

April 16, 2010 @ 12:13 pm #

>>And children born into poverty aren’t held back by a lack of food or access to quality education, but just pure laziness, is that it?>>

Sometimes. If the conditions you mention were in fact unable to be overcome, then none would escape them, right? But in fact, some _do_ escape the condition of being born into poverty. So therefore, the conditions themselves are not the determining factors.

And…by the way…how do you define “acess to quality education”?

>>…we don’t ask that children of wealthy people overcome such obstacles.>>

No…they have different obstacles. Have you ever heard the expression “Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.”?

My authority? more years of observation than you’ve been alive, I’d guess.

April 16, 2010 @ 12:16 pm #

And Eric…

you didn’t answer _this_ question:

>>How do YOU define poverty?>>

How _do_ you define poverty?

April 16, 2010 @ 1:00 pm #

Implicit in this email is the fallacy that poor people are poor by choice or because they’re lazy.

I would argue that the majority of chronic poor people are poor by choice, or rather choices. Choosing to drop out of school, having children out of wedlock, getting pregnant as a teen, drug and alcohol abuse, etc.

And many poor people are lazy. They’re born into welfare dependent families and learn from the git go that you don’t have to provide for yourself and your family because your rich uncle Sam will always be there with a hand out. The only time they may have to get of their asses is to sign up for the “free” goodies and go vote for the pols who keep promising more.

As for the unfortunate ones who have lost their jobs due to the economy, most will bounce back once it begins to recover. I’d also imagine it takes more than one swallow to get your pride down when you’re forced to sign up for assistance and once back on their feet, will waste no time getting off the dole knowing that it’s a hand up, not a hand out.

There’s a lot of difference between being poor and being broke. Poor is a state of mind. Broke is a temporary situation.

April 16, 2010 @ 1:50 pm #

Well, I linked to a number of articles discussing what poverty was, but briefly, with some reservations, I accept the US Census Bureau’s definition of poverty. And I’m aware, as stated, that this measurement does not take into account things like food stamps. I’m also aware of the difference between relative and absolute poverty.

I’m not going to go into a lengthy definition of what constitutes a quality education. Briefly, I think our public education system is mostly broken, but I agree with the ideal that all people have a right to a quality education. Suffice it to say, I define education as something more than rote learning, that ideally education gives opportunity for people to develop intellectually and emotionally, to be free to explore, question. Furthermore, education ought to celebrate knowledge for its own sake and not simple be a utilitarian means to a high paying job. But more concretely, I’m talking about having qualified teachers, access to good materials, buildings that aren’t falling down around you, and so on.
http://www.newamerica.net/publications/policy/equitable_resources_low_income_schools

“My authority? more years of observation than you’ve been alive, I’d guess.”
Ah, a variation on the argument from antiquity, I guess. Not what we usually mean by that logical fallacy, but alright.

Seriously, though, do you have anything more substantial than an argument from anecdote? Give me evidence. I’ve linked to a number of articles with actual numbers and statistics. 1% of children born into low income families will ever reach the top 5% of income, while 22% of children born to wealth will reach the top 5% income bracket. So I ask, is your belief that the disparity is simply because poor children are inherently lazier than the wealthy children?

If there are systemic problems that could be addressed, should we, as a country, do something about it? Or is compassion not an American value?

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
-Proverbs 31:8-9

April 16, 2010 @ 2:15 pm #

There is nothing in the original email that implies, suggests, argues, or in any way indicates that poor people are poor by choice or that they’re lazy. That’s not just a poor reading of the letter, it’s a delusional one.

What the letter does suggest is that offering poor people an opportunity to work is a better solution to poverty than is offering them goods for which they have not worked. Also that Republican party policies reflect this difference, and Democratic party policies do not. And finally, it suggests that a child can see intuitively why the Republican party approach is better than the Democratic party one. It says nothing at all about the reason for poverty.

I welcome attempts to convince me otherwise, but they’d better refer specifically to something in the letter, and they’d better explain how the referred-to statement requires laziness on the part of the poor.

April 16, 2010 @ 4:25 pm #

>>Briefly, I think our public education system is mostly broken,>>

That’s a topic that could certainly be discussed at some length. There is no doubt that there are problems with the public education system, but the fact is that both poor and rich – or at least, well to do – children go through the system, with differing success, both during the scholastic years, and the years after.

>>1% of children born into low income families will ever reach the top 5% of income, while 22% of children born to wealth will reach the top 5% income bracket.>>

These are facts – there’s no denying that. There’s also no doubt that starting a race from 100 yds behind half the field places a significant handicap on the starter. Nevertheless, correlation does not equal causation – especially when the starter doesn’t have to be first in order to win, but just to get ahead of maybe half the pack.

>> So I ask, is your belief that the disparity is simply because poor children are inherently lazier than the wealthy children?>>

“Lazier” is the trigger word here. It indicates a choice between willingness to work and choosing _not_ to work. I don’t really know how you – or I – can make a valid judgment of a person’s motivation. If children are not taught that they have to work to eat, but rather just go down to the local government office to pick up their check, and if working takes 40+ hours per week, and requires them to be on time, dress differently than they’d prefer, and if that job doesn’t actually pay much more than sitting home and picking up that government check, what incentive do they have to spend the effort to find a job? Nevertheless, there _is_ a choice, and poverty is often the result of bad choices. Also, years and years ago, I read something about research done on children starting in kindergarten and continuing through high school. The thing that stuck with me was that the most accurate predictor of success was the ability of a child to accept the postponement of a reward for good behavior (or preferred action). The test given in kindergarten was simple – child was given a piece of candy. Child ate candy. Ok… Then the adult placed a piece of candy on the table, told the child that s/he was leaving the room, and if the child didn’t eat the candy till adult returned, s/he could have 5 pieces of candy. Some of the children waited, some of the children did not. There was no punishment if the child ate the candy, but keeping track of which children could wait till the adult returned to get the 5 pieces of candy was an accurate predictor of the children who would succeed in school. So simple – and fascinating! How do you teach a child that ability?? is it a matter of teaching – or innate to certain children? I don’t know. The problem is – if it’s innate…that is…genetic…you come up with a real can of worms.

For hard data, I’d probably refer you to the percentages of illegitimate births, percentage of children raised in single parent homes, children raised in homes with their mothers and live in boyfriends – that sort of thing. They used to say “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”…I’d say that no one is rocking the cradle these days – children are simply growing up, and raising themselves. Sort of a “Lord of the Flies” environment.

This article may be relevant to the education issue.

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/04/professor_removed_for_tough_gr.html

April 16, 2010 @ 8:29 pm #

“..but the fact is that both poor and rich – or at least, well to do – children go through the system, with differing success, both during the scholastic years, and the years after.”

But they don’t really go through the same system. Children of well off parents are far far more likely to have had years of early childhood education before entering the public schools. There is a gross disparity between money spent, quality and experience of teachers, and attention paid to children between wealthier schools and poorer schools. The experience of a wealthy kid in the suburbs is vastly different than the experience of a poor kid in an urban area. I’ll believe money doesn’t matter in education when the rich stop spending so much of it to secure advantages for their kids.

I don’t disagree with anything the article has to say. Only I guess my conclusion is different. I feel like we are failing our children. I’m not comfortable holding 6 year olds accountable for their own education.

I very much disagree that if people aren’t taught they have to work to eat, they would never work. Such a strange conception of humanity! Do you mean to say you would honestly never get out of bed or do anything if not for promise of money? Why does Bill Gates continue to work so hard at so many things? Working is integral to our sense of self and to our self-esteem. I’ll grant, if work means years and years of flipping burgers or other mind-numbing work, yeah, people are going to have a hard time being motivated. No one loves that work. We suffer through it if we have to, hopefully on the way to something better.

What’s wrong with giving kids as much opportunity to find their passion as possible? And hopefully they can make a living out of it as well some day.

Anyway, this debate could go on forever. I know I’m not changing any minds. I’ll stop trolling on your board and let you get back to trashing liberals. My best hope is that I didn’t seem completely insane to you, that maybe some of you will see past the rhetoric and know we liberals aren’t crazy socialists bent on destroying America. And I’ll tell folks on the liberal boards that you don’t all want America to become a Theocratic Corporate Oligarchy.

April 16, 2010 @ 8:41 pm #

The entire liberal enterprise regarding poverty is based on a complete misreading of statistics. The assertion is that there exist permanent states called “poor” and “rich,” and that somehow justice demands that we minimize the distance between them.

The truth is that nearly everybody is poor at some point in their life, and better off at some other point.

Thomas Sowell writes about this at length in several of his books: the best predictor of a person’s income, by far, is… age. Not education, not race, not gender, not family background. Age. People are poor when they’re young, then they become wealthier as they age, as their experience and value to their employer increases and as they accumulate goods.

Thus an increase in the disparity between “rich” and “poor” means, more than anything, that the current aging generation is obtaining more in the way of accumulated goods than did the previous generation, relative to starting salaries.

Does that sound like something that needs to be solved? It does not to me.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying there are not social issues that the American people, as a culture (NOT as a government) need to address. There are plenty. And there does exist some number of near-permanent underclass, and some (NON-governmental) social work would benefit that group. But the disparity between poor and rich IS. NOT. A. PROBLEM.

Period.

April 16, 2010 @ 8:50 pm #

Eric wrote:

But they don’t really go through the same system. Children of well off parents are far far more likely to have had years of early childhood education before entering the public schools. There is a gross disparity between money spent, quality and experience of teachers, and attention paid to children between wealthier schools and poorer schools.

Eric, there are so many errors in your thinking that it will be impossible to even begin to unwind them. But your focus is entirely on the school system here, and that’s an error of enormous magnitude. So we’ll start there.

The best predictor of a student’s success in school is the home life of the student. Again according to Thomas Sowell, ALL the difference between black and white income in America disappear — completely — when the statistics control for three elements in the student’s home of origin: newspapers, magazines, and library cards. Students whose PARENTS teach them by example to read, to inquire, and to think, succeed. This is true regardless of race, school expenditure, textbook quality, or any other factor. Students whose parents do not teach them this by example, do not succeed.

Obviously, this is not something that can be overcome by any policy regarding schools. The government can do nothing about this. This is a cultural matter that must be addressed at the cultural level.

Carry on.

April 17, 2010 @ 9:39 am #

>>Children of well off parents are far far more likely to have had years of early childhood education before entering the public schools.>>

Most start in kindergarten, at age 5. So…where and how are they getting these “years of early childhood education” before entering the public schools??

Do you come up with the same answer as Phil does?

April 17, 2010 @ 4:03 pm #

American society has been trying for roughly 45 years to provide sufficient advantage to the lesser-fortunate of its population, such that they can enjoy the equal access to opportunity that is the American promise. It has underwritten Head Start, poverty programs, social programs, disabled programs, training programs, affirmative action programs, Medicaid, and so on, almost ad infinitum. If money were the solution to this problem, if it is a solvable problem, it would have been solved already.

Exactly what more would you have SOCIETY do that you think would be more successful or productive than what it has tried so far?

I will grant that there are many differences between, to pick an egregious example, inner-city Detroit schools (where I student taught in the late 60s, btw), and some Eastern private prep school. However, let’s remember as well that America became the commercial and military powerhouse that it is largely through the efforts of immigrants and pioneers, many of whom were educated in urban night classes and one-room schoolhouses, respectively.

It is the appetite for education and advancement that drives personal learning, and progress and success, not the bricks and mortar of a schoolroom. And that appetite derives from the immediate home and cultural environment. That is where your educational problem lies. And I don’t know if that’s a solvable problem.

April 18, 2010 @ 9:22 am #

>>Working is integral to our sense of self and to our self-esteem. I’ll grant, if work means years and years of flipping burgers or other mind-numbing work, yeah, people are going to have a hard time being motivated. No one loves that work. We suffer through it if we have to, hopefully on the way to something better.

What’s wrong with giving kids as much opportunity to find their passion as possible? And hopefully they can make a living out of it as well some day.>>

Had some car time yesterday, so got to thinking about this. How lucky we are that many have the opportunity to “find their passion”! It says something about the development of our society that this is a concept of “work” that even considered!

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