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  1. highlander says

    Gerry Charlotte Phelps — and you BW — are living proof that clear thinking and clear writing are two sides of the same coin.

    The Heritage Foundation had an interesting piece on the subject of poverty perhaps a year or so ago in which they pointed out that if you identify the specific individuals with earnings in the bottom quintile of incomes in a particular year, you will find that three years later, some two thirds of them are no longer there and have moved up into one of the higher quintiles. I’m not sure if “three years” and “two thirds” are the correct figures, but the basic idea was that a large number of people listed as living in poverty are actually just passing through and are on their way up.

    (I think it was Ymarskar who furnished the original link, which I have been unable to find again. If you still have it Y, I’d be glad to get it again.)

    There are also two ways of viewing wealth: one is to consider absolute wealth, and the other is to focus on relative wealth.

    In terms of absolute wealth, by any measure the poor in our country are very well off indeed. If memory serves from another Heritage Foundation piece, the average “poor” family in our country lives in a house, has at least one car and a couple of color television sets. Compare this with how the pioneers lived in sod huts out on the prairie and it’s easy to see that significant improvements in absolute wealth have been made — as conservative commentators are wont to point out.

    Liberals, however, prefer to look at relative wealth, which could loosely be taken to be the ratio of the net worth or income of the wealthiest people compared to that of the poorest. As Gerry Charlotte Phelps points out, there is something of a sliding scale of opinion here. I think that even conservatives would agree that there is some number which is too large — especially if there were no middle class to fill in the mid-range. Marxists, of course, contend that the only fair ratio would be one — everybody the same.

    I do not know whether relative wealth, the ratio of rich to poor, has increased in our country or decreased. My guess would be that it has remained about the same, with both rich and poor making equal gains, on a percentage basis, in absolute wealth.

    Ironically, it seems to me that wherever Marxism has been attempted, the actual result has been what the those on the left claim to abhor: a very few very rich people, a whole lot of poor people, and very few in between.

  2. highlander says

    Gerry Charlotte Phelps — and you BW — are living proof that clear thinking and clear writing are two sides of the same coin.

    The Heritage Foundation had an interesting piece on the subject of poverty perhaps a year or so ago in which they pointed out that if you identify the specific individuals with earnings in the bottom quintile of incomes in a particular year, you will find that three years later, some two thirds of them are no longer there and have moved up into one of the higher quintiles. I’m not sure if “three years” and “two thirds” are the correct figures, but the basic idea was that a large number of people listed as living in poverty are actually just passing through and are on their way up.

    (I think it was Ymarskar who furnished the original link, which I have been unable to find again. If you still have it Y, I’d be glad to get it again.)

    There are also two ways of viewing wealth: one is to consider absolute wealth, and the other is to focus on relative wealth.

    In terms of absolute wealth, by any measure the poor in our country are very well off indeed. If memory serves from another Heritage Foundation piece, the average “poor” family in our country lives in a house, has at least one car and a couple of color television sets. Compare this with how the pioneers lived in sod huts out on the prairie and it’s easy to see that significant improvements in absolute wealth have been made — as conservative commentators are wont to point out.

    Liberals, however, prefer to look at relative wealth, which could loosely be taken to be the ratio of the net worth or income of the wealthiest people compared to that of the poorest. As Gerry Charlotte Phelps points out, there is something of a sliding scale of opinion here. I think that even conservatives would agree that there is some number which is too large — especially if there were no middle class to fill in the mid-range. Marxists, of course, contend that the only fair ratio would be one — everybody the same.

    I do not know whether relative wealth, the ratio of rich to poor, has increased in our country or decreased. My guess would be that it has remained about the same, with both rich and poor making equal gains, on a percentage basis, in absolute wealth.

    Ironically, it seems to me that wherever Marxism has been attempted, the actual result has been what the those on the left claim to abhor: a very few very rich people, a whole lot of poor people, and very few in between.

  3. says

    What bothers me very much… well, it doesn’t bother me so much as make me annoyed at the people doing it… is when the argument is framed such that if I (or you or anyone) doesn’t support a social program approach to dealing with poverty that we hate poor people. Or that anyone who doesn’t hate poor people will, of *course*, agree on what should be done. (Same with medical insurance, education, etc.,)

    Conservatives “hate” poor people, racial minorities, etc., etc., Conservatives hate, hate, hate.

    How lame is that argument? How lame is it to refuse to recognize that there are more than one, or even *two*, opinions about what is best to do in order to help other people.

    And then we get the “vote against their interests” garbage directed at poor conservatives. As if poor conservatives all must have the same idea about what their interests are and how best those interests should be served.

    I’m on the libertarian end of things but it doesn’t mean that I hate poor people. It means that I have opinions about human nature and how people function that leads me to view social programs as the economic equivalent of bleeding people every time they feel a little bit ill. Bleeding would never have been done if it didn’t *seem* to help, just like government welfare programs *seem* to help. And probably *some* people are helped. And probably *some* people were made better by having the doctor come and fill a bowl with their blood.

    Charity is, by all means, good and necessary and we’re directed to do so by G-d. Taxation and welfare is not Charity. Just like mandatory public service is not volunteerism. Neither thing teaches nor encourages nor *rewards* people to greater Charity or volunteering. It guts the process of the intrinsic emotional rewards of helping other people while eviscerating existing impulses of personal responsibility for the well being of family, friends, and neighbors.

    It gets so bad that people gripe when they have to take care of their very own children or parents.

  4. says

    The Heritage Foundation had an interesting piece on the subject of poverty perhaps a year or so ago in which they pointed out that if you identify the specific individuals with earnings in the bottom quintile of incomes in a particular year, you will find that three years later, some two thirds of them are no longer there and have moved up into one of the higher quintiles. I’m not sure if “three years” and “two thirds” are the correct figures, but the basic idea was that a large number of people listed as living in poverty are actually just passing through and are on their way up.

    I don’t remember using a link from the Heritage Foundation or that topic. So can’t help you here.

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