Being Poor

Had a conversation about what meaning poor means. Here was my answer – what’s yours?

Being poor means you get run down – your clothes wear out, your don’t cut your hair often enough, you don’t see a doctor or a dentist, and so on – you put off every expense you can.

I once walked to hours to a job setting up a circus; worked over 12 hours setting it up, then walked 2 hours home because the money for the bus was enough to eat on for a day, and I just couldn’t justify it. I have gone to a job in the morning and then walked down to the soup kitchen for my lunch. I have gone to work when my feet were injured, placing them in plastic bags inside my runners so that the blood didn’t leak out, because I needed the money.

Being poor means being rousted because you don’t dress well and some cop or rent-a-cop wants to feel big or thinks you “lower the tone” of a place. And being poor means you can’t do anything about it – you can’t afford to “sue” someone. Being poor means not having a checking account and having to pay usurious rates at check cashing places.

Being poor means you do what you gotta do, you take the crap you gotta take and you wonder why being poor also means people feel like they can treat you like garbage.

Being poor sucks.

96 comments to Being Poor

  • Siun

    I was struck by how hard it was for me … even many years later … to say “I was on welfare for a while.” The omnipresent mythos that we are all upper middle class is pretty amazing and oddly pervasive even to someone my age and background who grew up in a political home that honored the working class and the poor.

  • canuck

    When I was growing up, I didn’t know I was poor because no one in my neighbout had much money.

    It wasn’t until I began high school and there was a mixture of economic classes that I realized that some of my fellow students dressed in more expensive clothes than I did, their parents had cars and they lived in houses that were much, much better.

    What you don’t know doesn’t hurt you when you’re growing up and it isn’t until you’re exposed to people that are obviously much wealthier that you become aware that you’re poor.

    I never did get to wear one of those felt poodle skirts with a crinoline that had yards and yards of netting with a cashmere cardigan worn backwards (with the buttons at the back).

    The neighbourhood I lived in was not dirt poor, but it was what would be described as blue-collar and I did not learn those terms until I began working.

    There wasn’t the information highway like there is now that differentiates economic classes and I didn’t identify with people that I saw on TV as being ‘real’ people. I was an avid reader but my imagination could not grasp a lifestyle that was much different.

    In order to feel the pain of poverty, there have to be marked distinctions to draw comparisons.

    Oddly, once I was aware, I was not envious and never did place a great deal of value on money. I’m content to be a worker bee and wouldn’t be happy if I were monetarily rich. I really value things other than money perhaps because I didn’t have much of it when I was growing up and it was a challenge to make do with what we had. We always had great food on the table because my grandmother had been trained as cook in the UK. To my mind, we wanted for nothing!

    I suppose that now that I’m older, I am relatively economically wealthy but I don’t measure myself by material goods. Never have, and never will. There are things that are much more important than money.

    Poor to me would be to grow up without hope and I had tons of self confidence that I would make something of myself. I was a curious child that had neighbourhood friends, books to read and a Grandmother that I loved whom I knew loved and encouraged me. It must be dreadful to grow up as an orphan without anyone that cares about you. Being an orphan would be my definition of poverty! (Not having anyone that cares whether you live or die!)

  • dasht

    That’s not “being poor,” that’s “being impoverished.” You’re poor when you own a relatively small amount of capital. You’re impoverished when you need more capital than you own.

    That said, you left out symptoms of impoverishment like housing insecurity, food insecurity, bodily integrity insecurity, access to information insecurity, and access to investment capital insecurity. (And, sure, the list could be extended.)

    Being poor means you do what you gotta do, you take the crap you gotta take and you wonder why being poor also means people feel like they can treat you like garbage.

    As far as I can tell, you can replace the word “poor” in that with “rich” and it remains true, at least if you would say “also means some people” instead of “also means people”.

    -t

  • Escher Sketch

    Being poor means you do what you gotta do, you take the crap you gotta take and you wonder why being poor also means people feel like they can treat you like garbage.

    As far as I can tell, you can replace the word “poor” in that with “rich” and it remains true, at least if you would say “also means some people” instead of “also means people”.

    Naturally once you replace “poor” with “rich” in that sentence it’s only fair to finish it properly with “or at least I reckon they probably would if we didn’t live in this gated community with all these security guards”.

  • Ian Welsh

    I been rich, and I been poor. A lot less people treat you like shit when you’re rich. A LOT.

  • dasht

    You’ve been so-called middle-to-upper middle class. Very different.

    -t

  • canuck

    Mine doesn’t measure wealth by monetary standards…it’s emotional and psychological.

    It’s quite possible to not have ‘any’ money and find joy in the world. Millions of people live without funds and they lead lives that are fulfilling. Monks for instance have inner peace that is independent of wealth. There are people who are economically rich that I know that I would describe as being poor.

    No one regardless of their economic status has to stand for being treated like shit. People have lie down to be doormats. Personl dignity cannot be taken unless its surrendered or it’s for sale.

  • creativelcro

    Can somebody have a fulfilling life without being “happy”? Is there a happiness pill? Why isn’t a happiness pill seen as an acceptable way of achieving a fulfilling life, if it makes somebody happy? Why isn’t a pill that makes one feel that one’s life is fulfilling seen as an acceptable way of living a fulfilling life? Why does one have to live a fulfilling life in the first place?

  • Brovalight

    Preserve Freedom at all costs.

  • chicago dyke

    let’s see: bloody feet, soup line, circus work…ian hit all the “dat’s po!” cliches in a single story. tough to beat. but i feel ya, bro. intellectual fun- replace poor with “black of any income” in this country. although i guess the upside of people understanding that the amurkin dream of perfected consumerist bliss is not guaranteed, is that they also learn a kind of freedom, having nothing to lose.

    unfortunately, class is stagnant to downwardly mobile in this country, fewer are able to escape poverty once they descend into it than ever before. we’ll see if this means increased motivation towards political action.

  • Brovalight

    Ah, nothing like a little class warfare debate to start the day….

  • canuck

    and who knows why one person is contented with who they are and others go through their lives not grasping what it is that makes them tick.

    Happy pills? Yep, I’m sure they’re out there.

    Go find something/anything that makes you laugh.

    Some things just defy explanation.

    You’ll know when you’ve found what it is that makes your world better. I suppose there are people that find happiness by buying it?

  • Lesly

    Being a member of the migrant poor class means wearing the same jeans to school every day because they’re the only pair that still fit. It means living with five people in a one bedroom, tiny apartment. It means the budget can’t afford snacks like cookies and potato chips. It means getting picked at in school because you look so bad. It means getting poor grades because everyone argues all the time. It means turning the bed frame someone dumped in front of the apartment complex into a big new boat toy by pushing it across flooded streets, etc.

  • adrena

    Although only the well-to-do could afford to send their children to boarding school. I felt poor because the nuns favored the kids whose parents were the richest.

    But I agree with Canuck….. poverty of the mind tends to aggravate material deprivation.

  • Tina

    I think personal dignity can be forcefully taken from people, think of Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib. I suppose tho that it could be confused with the loss of hope.

  • moebius

    That’s not “being poor,” that’s “being impoverished.” You’re poor when you own a relatively small amount of capital. You’re impoverished when you need more capital than you own.

    Therefore,
    The lower 99% of the population is ‘poor’ because they own relatively much less capital than the wealthiest 1%.
    And, the wealthiest 1% of the population is ‘impoverished’ because they need massive tax cuts, because they need that capital.

  • Don

    in the United States or Canada would be considered poor from the eyes of a starving African.

    But there was a time.

    I watch my mom. My parents are wealthy. Conservative types. She washes pieces of tin foil and plastic storage bags for re-use. She remembers another time…

    I did inhale.

  • Don

    in this world share 1% of the world’s wealth. Earn maybe $2 a day or less. And they don’t live in the US or Canada. The local panhandler here does much better than they.

    Wealth distribution stats. (1999).

    At present, 3 billion people live on less than $2 per day while 1.3 billion get by on less than $1 per day. Seventy percent of those living on less than $1 per day are women. With global population expanding 80 million per year, World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn cautions that, unless we address “the challenge of inclusion,” 30 years hence we will have 5 billion people living on less than $2 per day.
    Two billion people worldwide now suffer from anemia, including 55 million in industrial countries. Given current trends in population growth and prosperity-hoarding, three decades from now we could have a world in which 3.7 billion people are anemic.
    These related phenomena led UN development experts to observe that the world is heading toward “grotesque inequalities,” concluding: “Development that perpetuates today’s inequalities is neither sustainable nor worth sustaining.”
    UNDP calculates that an annual 4 percent levy on the world’s 225 most well-to-do people (average 1998 wealth: $4.5 billion) would suffice to provide the following essentials for all those in developing countries: adequate food, safe water and sanitation, basic education, basic health care and reproductive health care. At present, 160 of those individuals live in OECD countries; 60 reside in the United States.
    As of 1995 (the latest figures available), Federal Reserve research found that the wealth of the top one percent of Americans is greater than that of the bottom 95 percent. Three years earlier, the Fed’s Survey of Consumer Finance found that the top one percent had wealth greater than the bottom 90 percent.

    much more at the link

    I did inhale.

  • Forgiven

    Being poor sucks.

    How many of us really believe it is blessed to be poor? How many of us drive by the slums and say, “boy are those people blessed”? Being poor sucks because poor people in America want to be rich and they are unable to be. Being poor means you rely on God to survive and you learn what’s important in this life. Being rich means you rely on yourself and your money and that is why it is so difficult for the rich to find what’s really important.

    Are poor people treated differently? Of course they are, always have been, always will be. But being poor materially is not the worst thing in this world to be, being poor spiritually is…

    The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive and unrealistic – John F. Kennedy

    The Disputed Truth

  • Bolo

    over at Feministe recently.

    Link here.

  • someofparts

    I agree with Don that my poverty, as a poor person in a wealthy nation, can’t be compared to destitution in the southern hemisphere.

    That said, I consider myself poor because I only have enough money for basic subsistence – food, gas, utilities, housing. Plumbing doesn’t work. Gutters have fallen off. Medical services are beyond reach. And it takes two jobs to achieve even this.

    Most vivid poverty experience was working for Coca Cola when I lived in my car. I would go to an all-night diner just after sunrise, order coffee and dress in the restroom. Opportunities to shower were managed with trips to the YMCA gym. I considered myself among the well-to-do homeless because I had a car.

  • Ian Welsh

    I don’t usually respond to you, but I’ll make an exception right now.

    Don’t ever tell me what I’ve been. I have had multiple servants. That’s rich. My father was rich when I was young. He lost it, but I remember.

    You are presumptious, constantly, and I grow tired of it.

  • Ian Welsh

    Wealth is relative, unless you don’t have enough to eat. Which, actually, is a place I’ve been and so have other Canadians and Americans.

    And I’ve lived in countries like Bangladesh and walked in the slums. I know poverty and I’ve never thought much of those who would say all Americans/Canadians are rich.

  • scrat

    An accountant would label me as poor. No medical insurance, not much in the bank, put off bills regularly.

    My friends and the urban community in which I belong to considers me the richest man in town.
    People of much greater monetary capital surround me and ask for my advice.

    I consider myself a happy and fortunate person.

    But, I am poor ?

  • Nominay

    I think you cross the poor threshold when you have trouble paying your bills and you have to start strategically planning your next meal, based on my experience from 6 years ago (things have picked up for me since).

  • Jeff Wegerson

    PrairieStateBlue
    All the poverty I’ve known has been self inflicted. I always knew I could return to a middle-class family and leave poverty behind.

    Yes I experienced hunger and cold and dirt and homelessness as I drifted between and among hippy communities in the 70’s. But it was always by choice. In a way it was like living on a rural farm as an educational experience for someone raised in the suburbs. You come to understand the physical realities and perhaps glimpse the psychological realities, but there is a huge difference between learning and experiencing poverty and being poor.

    Not knowing a route out is a big disability I never had to live.

  • Petronius

    If you are really poor/impoverished, you do not have the luxury of thinking about much other than your own survival. If you’re able to have a thought to your own purpose in life or you’re able to help others and can be generous with what you do have–you’re not poor.

    The rest (what you own, how you eat, where you sleep) is just stuff.

  • dasht

    Don’t ever tell me what I’ve been. I have had multiple servants. That’s rich. My father was rich when I was young. He lost it, but I remember.

    And, God as your witness, you’ll never go hungry again. (Frankly, my dear….)

    I would define impoverished more like this:

    Impoverished is when, to survive, you have to start hustling even though you aren’t so inclined: lying, cheating, stealing, screwing friends and relatives, etc. I don’t mean lying, cheating, and stealing in some esoteric debatable way — I mean very basic things like petty thievery on the grounds that baby needs diapers. It’s when you have a warrant outstanding for blowing off some petty misdemeaner choice a year ago so, today, you’ll turn yourself in because a few months in the pokie will be a spa vacation, relatively speaking, to what you are used to. Impoverishment is impoverishment not because it is frustrating or depressing — but because it is, literally, demoralizing. It deprives you of moral choices by making mere survival such a questionable thing.

    And rich: Rich is when there is enough capital in your family, well enough structured, that it is pretty near impossible for one generation to simply lose it all at the expense of the next generation. It’s when you can’t move through society without fear of things like being kidnapped. It’s when you can’t speak freely in public without fear of being sued. It’s when the management of your wealth becomes, de facto, a matter of foreign and domestic policies. It is being constantly confronted with a series of vital, ethical questions about which you must make choices and about which you can not have enough information to prevent unintended consequences. It is, literally, demoralizing.

    You’re right, Ian, that I don’t know you or your history — only what you describe here. “I have had multiple servants” doesn’t sound rich, to me. It sounds wasteful — the kind of mistake frequently found among the upper middle class when they spend principal on convenience features instead of reliable growth. You sound like you come from a family that almost became rich but that, like most who almost become rich, made a few damn mistakes at the last minute and went back the other way.

    However we define the terms, I think it is weird that you are so defensive about the issue. You offer up a story of personal tragedy, of a sort: your personal journey from lap-of-luxury (such as it is) to having to bust hump like the next average joe. Why in the world do you take such effete offense (“You are presumptious, constantly, and I grow tired of it”) just because someone points out that the extremes of that spectrum, in both directions, lay a bit beyond what you are describing?

    Is the point of the question you raised with this article to work towards a better grasp of poverty? Or to help you lick (or pass along) your personal wounds?

    -t

  • Tina

    You’re right, Ian, that I don’t know you or your history — only what you describe here. “I have had multiple servants” doesn’t sound rich, to me. It sounds wasteful — the kind of mistake frequently found among the upper middle class when they spend principal on convenience features instead of reliable growth. You sound like you come from a family that almost became rich but that, like most who almost become rich, made a few damn mistakes at the last minute and went back the other way.

    Is the point of the question you raised with this article to work towards a better grasp of poverty? Or to help you lick (or pass along) your personal wounds?

    and you are still making assumptions that you have no proof of.

  • dasht

    Mine doesn’t measure wealth by monetary standards…it’s emotional and psychological.

    It’s not monetary, exactly, but it is economic. “Poor” isn’t a self-esteem question of feeling bad about not having as much as you’d like — it’s a survival question where you find yourself with no better choice than to toss your values aside for a moment and do things that are clearly wrong, even to you, except that you have no realistic choice. E.g., you f’ing well don’t want your kid growing up in a neighborhood surrounded by thuggish grey market drug sellers and you f’ing well want to care for your mother inlaw in her dotage — but today, you need to get momma to fill out the damn social services form in such a way that she’ll get a scrip for some pills you can sell to keep your baby supplied with fruit juice.

    Talking to a bunch of privileged people, as we are here, I think my descriptions of “poor” must sound like I’m dredging up the really extreme cases from the depths like some kind of after-school-special morality play. Not at all, though. Another aspect of “poor” (as contrasted with just “batshit crazy”) is not just that you find yourself demoralized in those ways — but everyone around your home is pretty close to being in the same boat.

    No one regardless of their economic status has to stand for being treated like shit. People have lie down to be doormats. Personl dignity cannot be taken unless its surrendered or it’s for sale.

    My friends who are poor tend to be extremely dignified — and with complete justification, in my view. My middle-class friends who are sliding down the economic latter are sometimes dignity-challenged on the way but they tend to get over that after they get over the initial trauma — and then they start becoming more like my poor friends, in that regard.

    Survival, under trauma and/or severe challenge, itself creates dignity (better than just about any other way).

    -t

  • dasht

    and you are still making assumptions that you have no proof of.

    You quoted me as saying “[Y] doesn’t sound [X] to me. It sounds….” and “Is the point….?”

    What assumptions do you think I have expressed there that I ought not have?

    -t

  • Tina

    You’re right, Ian, that I don’t know you or your history — only what you describe here. “I have had multiple servants” doesn’t sound rich, to me. It sounds wasteful — the kind of mistake frequently found among the upper middle class when they spend principal on convenience features instead of reliable growth. You sound like you come from a family that almost became rich but that, like most who almost become rich, made a few damn mistakes at the last minute and went back the other way.

    You admit you don’t know his history then proceed to make assumptions about his family.

  • Karl der Grosse

    … as you can get in this country. Lived under elevated freeways, sold plasma, got free meals from the Hare Krishnas, dumpster dived etc. This was in the early 80’s when they were dumping the mentally ill on the streets from the public institutions, which is not how I got there however. I would say at that time, from my own anecdotal observation, about 20% of the homeless had pretty serious mental health issues and a large percentage of the rest had substance abuse problems, possibly caused or exacerbated by less severe mental health problems.

    As challenging as it was for me, I was single and in my early twenties, I can not even imagine what it would be like if I had children who were dependent on me. What to do about poverty is a complicated issue, which touches on education, mental health, discrimination and disparate native ability to name just a few. What do we do as a civilization for the poor and impoverished? What do we owe them, do we owe them anything? Can we do anything?

  • dasht

    I did not say “Aha! Your family was wasteful….” I said that an image of a wasteful family is what was conveyed to me by the description given.

    Do you see the difference?

    -t

  • canuck

    other Agonists, I was never poor, just didn’t have an abundance of ‘things’, but there always was food on the table, clothes on my back and someone that cared that I was alive. Books were free at the library and I loved going to school. My teachers were amazing models.

    Mini Ha Ha that collected rags in my neighbourhood was poor. So too was the lady up the street that kept her retarded child in an upside down playpen and the hermit that lived three doors away in the backyard of the boardinghouse that rented rooms to the railroad workers. I consider my childhood very rich for having had the opportunity to be exposed to a mosaic of people that aren’t found in economically wealthier neighbourhoods. There were families that spanned several generations that had mothers, fathers, grandparents and children living under the same roof. There were none that had criminal records…all had a source of income of some sort or another. They made the best of what they had and most of their children grew up to be fine adults. There were no classes in my childhood, all were equal, highly individualistic, nonjudgmental, and accepted by each other, which I think people without a great deal of money have attitudes they are blessed with because of their circumstances. There is no snobbery where there aren’t many luxuries, because all are in the same boat. I remember those days with fondness…so, “No, I was never poor, nor impoverished, quite the contrary.”

  • dasht

    unfortunately, class is stagnant to downwardly mobile in this country, fewer are able to escape poverty once they descend into it than ever before. we’ll see if this means increased motivation towards political action.

    Me too, though, mostly I hope it is a matter of the workers buying up (and then operating) the means of production. So, politically, it is good (in this view) to try to figure out how to empower entrepreneurialism, at least as a rule of thumb. That’s hard to direct, to any good effect. A kind of jujitsu-like approach is called for — hence my fondness for fiscal conservatives.

    -t

  • Ian Welsh

    Again, you don’t know squat. My father lost his money not because of the cost of servants, but because of political issues – he chose the wrong side. Oops. He was a multi-millionaire back in the late 60’s and early 70’s – at that time, that qualified as rich.

    Also, in certain places and at certain levels of rich, servants are pretty close to automatic. If you don’t know that, you haven’t been really rich yourself.

    You also continue to be presumptious. Clearly this article was about what it’s like for individuals to be poor. What it’s like to be poor. Not about the sociology or economics of poverty. I have written those articles, more than once, and will doubtless do so again.

    One of the most tiresome kind of trolls are the “you ought to write the article I wanted written” trolls. The writing here is free, if you don’t like it, feel free not to read it. The only people who get to tell me what to write (sometimes) are people who pay my word rates. You don’t.

  • Ian Welsh

    As usual, what you read into other people’s writing says more about you than it does about the person writing. Tiresome and presumptous.

  • Bolo

    “I’m going to redefine the terms you’re using to make them mean something that no one else here really accepts, then use these new definitions to tell you you’re wrong. Oh, and I think having servants means you’re just upper-middle class.”

    Why in the world do you take such effete offense (“You are presumptious, constantly, and I grow tired of it”) just because someone points out that the extremes of that spectrum, in both directions, lay a bit beyond what you are describing?

    Because in the process of doing so, you are implicitly nullifying his experience. Or at least reducing his joys and despairs to something less than they are. It’s equivalent to being at a social event and him telling an interesting story about both how good he had it and how bad it can get. Then you chime in afterwards saying “That ain’t nothing. It can get so much better and so much worse than that. You weren’t rich and you weren’t poor. And your father screwed up when you were almost rich.” It minimizes and degrades.

    PS: How the hell can you have servants and not be upper class? Upper-middle class, you might have a cleaning lady and lawncare people that come by every so often. But a servant? Someone who cooks for you everyday? Someone who drives you places? “Jeeves, fetch me my coat?” Give me a break. The only place you can be upper-middle class and have that happen is China–and last time I checked, we’re talking about living in the US and Canada.

  • Tina

    is you playing word games again. These are your words:

    You sound like you come from a family that almost became rich but that, like most who almost become rich, made a few damn mistakes at the last minute and went back the other way.

  • dasht

    No, you don’t see the difference, I see.

    From my perspective, this is a bit like being deprived of something fundamental to communication in my circles like, oh, say, subjunctive voice.

    Fascinating.

    -t

  • nihil obstet

    Nah, debates about class warfare just distract me from sharpening the prongs of my pitchfork and checking the tar on my torches. I want to know when we all storm the gated communities.

    You’re poor when you can’t afford the pitchfork or the tar — not as serious as when a dental abscess kills your child, but sufficient to make sure that power retains power.

  • dasht

    Because in the process of doing so, you are implicitly nullifying his experience.

    Honestly, I think I’m elevating his experience by painting it as closer to universal. It is an “average” experience, for some definition of average. It is also a “profound” experience, as evidenced by Ian’s writings. Portraying the profundity of the average: that’s high opera, baby.

    -t

  • dasht

    PS: How the hell can you have servants and not be upper class? Upper-middle class, you might have a cleaning lady and lawncare people that come by every so often. But a servant? Someone who cooks for you everyday?

    In the flatter economy a few decades back that was rather more common.

    Anyway, the border I would place between “upper-middle” and “rich” has almost nothing to do with what people buy — it’s all about sovereignty. You don’t need much sovereignty to get servants.

    -t

  • dasht

    “All publicity is good” and “Don’t read your reviews”.

    You’ll convey your perspective through repetition and exposure, not by getting too far into the trenches of any one hard-to-follow argument. You are better off mostly ignoring me until you have a really, really, certain point to thrust home and embarass the f out of me.

    Of course, you have to watch your publicity and peak at your reviews — it’s just, you don’t have to go off on impulse in response. Nobody has to really know you care about these things and, to the extent you draw attention to it, it detracts from the main project of conveying your perspective.

    Aside from that, you do consistently seem to come back to the impression that I disrespect you and/or are otherwise hostile towards you. That’s not true, though. If it were true, I don’t see why you’d care. If you already know it’s not true, I have trouble seeing anything honorable about how you reply. What’s with that?

    -t

  • dasht

    “Can we do anything?”

    Liberalize legitimate trade. People everywhere are very good at that.

    -t

  • dasht

    I think you cross the poor threshold when you have trouble paying your bills and you have to start strategically planning your next meal, based on my experience from 6 years ago (things have picked up for me since).

    You saw the threat of impoverishment and, thank creation, escaped. Imagine if you got stuck there. Imagine if you you grew up into the realization that your parents were stuck there and that your chances were little better. And imagine of “strategic planning” boiled down to, “well, I guess I need to go flaunt the law for baby’s diapers….” Then you’re getting closer to poor.

    (Not to diminish your trauma — just to report what I see in others.)

    -t

  • dasht

    Yes, “liberalize” is a wonderful word. It means “to make more free”.

    Liberty is kind of cool.

    Here’s an irony for you: there are frequent gluts in the market for investment capital. These gluts occur because the demand for profit extraction is structured in such a way that you can only get investment capital by accepting a huge investment in exchange for equity in plausible promise of a huge, 3 year or so ROI.

    So, you can get 1..5..10 $M building the next big web site in Silicon Valley but good luck getting .5 or 1 $M to do a grocery store in the ghetto.

    How to fix this?

    I think it is largely by making fund managers much more agile (largely a technology and management question) and then, secondarilly, by tweaking the regulatory environment (taxes, zoning, etc.).

    Wouldn’t it be horrifying to the main thrust of much of the left’s position if, in fact, it turned out that progressive action was mostly something that has to occur outside of electoral politics?

    -t

  • Petronius

    “well, I guess I need to go flaunt the law for baby’s diapers….”

    What is the law for baby’s diapers that you propose to flaunt? And why would anyone with other worries bother to promote such a thing?

  • dasht

    What is the law for baby’s diapers that you propose to flaunt?

    :-)

    -t

  • Escher Sketch

    of slave owners and their doomed attempts to preserve their marvellously liberalized slave ownership environment.

    Maybe someday that market can be liberalized once again.

  • dasht

    That is a moral hazard — failing to recognize the humanity of others in your definition of “liberal market”.

    -t

  • Petronius

    Sorry for picking, but this whole section is ridiculous. People with internet access (and probably a fair number of them with broadband at that) are discussing what it means to be poor.

  • Ian Welsh

    We haven’t all been well off for our entire lives.

  • Petronius

    but writing from a distance of time can’t do any thing to enhance the accuracy of the situation.

    I respectfully suggest that anyone who wants to find out what it’s like being poor in today’s world should seek out someone who is poor–now. I suspect that one’s treatment and feelings as a poor person depends on the geography and zeitgeist.

    Being poor in San Francisco during the 70’s was not an ordeal for many, for example.

  • Brovalight

    Poverty must exist in a capitalist system. The problem now is the distribution of wealth. Much of the capital that could relieve poverty is wasted by nation-states. This is true in the West in general and is worse in the world at large. The system is also designed to be exploited for personal gain. People will make money from the system in any way they can, by legal means or by exploiting the systems’ many weaknesses. How well you or those that support you exploit the system to the postive side of the balance sheet in raw or imagined capital goes a long way towrard determining whether or not you are ‘poor’ (no, I’m not a communist or a socialist).
    Some of the characterizations here on this subject have had a very negative vibe; they associate being poor with being miserable, disrespected, etc. I don’t think I’ve ever personally been poor, but I’ve never been rich, either. I’ve known many people who have called themselves as poor but have lived happy lives and went on to success or their own version of happiness be it monetary or otherwise. I feel much more sorry for a rich child that is abused by his or her parents than a poor child that grows up in a house full of love and goes on to sucess. We all pay a price for the rich children who are not loved or felt neglected, for many of them become our future leaders and never learn to give anything of human value to their legacy. We all pay a price when neglected poor or rich children end up in the prison/probation/mental health system. We are lucky when great people lead with wisdom for the good of the people in general. It doesn’t happen often enough.
    To me, it’s how rich your life is.

  • Don

    I hear of hungry people in the United States. But I honestly don’t know many if any on a personal level that go to bed hungry. Just doesn’t happen in small town Texas. And if it does, I want someone to show me. Homelessness however, is epidemic, particularly among people with mental problems, but these people tend to accumulate in large cities for whatever reason.

    I spent childhood years in Ecuador and Colombia. Watched little kids dispatched to the streets to beg. Three-year-olds that couldn’t walk for lack of milk and protein in their diet.

    I’ve seen and known Mexican children that fed themselves from dump-grounds.

    There is no comparison of poverty in the US and Canada to levels of poverty in third world countries regardless of what you think.

    I did inhale.

  • dk

    poor, as in not having money? or not having opportunity?
    Ian, your definition of poor must mean I am still poor.
    Thanks for letting me know

  • Don

    just put them into context with the larger world. Relatively speaking, we in the west have had a much easier time of it than most.

    Within the last decade somewhere around three million North Koreans starved to death. Half as many as Hitler killed in concentration camps, yet hardly a peep in the news about it.

    We’ve all seen pictures of drought and war victims in Africa, and if you look at our history here in the US, there were times during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl days like no one born since WWII knows on a personal level.

    I hate to be a doomsayer, but I fear that our day will come and soon. The scene for a perfect storm is set.

    Call me crazy. I really don’t care.

    I did inhale.

  • mauberly

    wannabe poor here. And I don’t wannabe.

    http://mauberly.blogspot.com/

  • Tina

    I don’t believe there are wannabe poor here and I don’t wannabe be either. Being broke all the time sucks enough.

  • mauberly

    over on my distinguished blog of tolerance, that we’ve Jonathan Winters’d him(dropped him like a bad habit.)

    Even though his comment is at times disruptive, it usually is quite interesting. It does not consist of Maddog’s bwahahhahhahs.

    Of course I miss Maddog.

    So take my view for what it is. It takes a troller and a trollee for trolling.

    http://mauberly.blogspot.com/

  • Tina

    Not true at all. I miss maddog too, he owned his words. bwahahahahahahaha ;)

  • JustPlainDave

    …argued dissent, and mutual tolerance for such dissent. Can’t say that I think much of dropping folks for the venal sins demonstrated by dasht – brings to mind certain past actions I was on the receiving end of.

    My view is that being obnoxious and obdurate in disagreement simply isn’t a capital crime [and yes, Virginia, there is a reason why I think this :P]. As a denizen I would respectfully request of our esteemed editing crew [and I mean that in all sincerity, emphatically not as sarcasm, veiled or otherwise] some transparency – a) was dasht actually turfed, and b) if so, what was the decision making around the action (for clarity, I’m not asking who or seeking to point fingers – I’m asking what process there was, formal, informal, group consensus or what have you). I think we’d all agree that banning is something that happens very infrequently and very reluctantly here – I’d suggest that a little post-mortem is not necessarily a bad thing.

    “When intelligence producers realize that there is no sense in forwarding to a consumer knowledge which does not correspond to his preconceptions, then intelligence is through.” ~ Sherman Kent

  • mauberly

    So this was empty and I did not notice it.

    But let me put it this way. Rich is different things to different people. As is poor. In the Biblical example it is the rich man who won’t give up his wealth to follow Jesus. It identified him in a way which he preferred to the divine. That was too rich for Jesus.

    If you’re not rich in that way, one might say that you’re not rich, for it does not identify you fundamentally; it is not part of your self image, it does not play an ultimate role in the way that you are. It is not your first cause; hence transfers to future generations are not primary for you. Etc. With or without the divinity tossed in.

    On the other hand, if you’re talking about tax brackets, or servants, that is another matter.

    So who is really rich? It depends on how you look at it.

    Likewise poor. How much of nothing have you got and how do you see it? Are you envious of the man who won’t give up his wealth? You may have just fallen to a new level: to the poor in spirit.

    Or once again are we just talking about tax brackets and poverty levels and what appear to be self perpetuating cycles in poor families and communities?

    Why pitch a comment out over this?

    http://mauberly.blogspot.com/

  • Lesly

    You are better off mostly ignoring me until you have a really, really, certain point to thrust home and embarass the f out of me.

    You’re self-absorbed and still boring.

  • GordonMcMillan

    …YMCA missionary to India and grew up there. When they wanted her to finish her dinner, they said “There are starving children… in Armenia”. Even at 5 yrs old, she knew there were starving children a few hundred feet away.

    Of course there’s a huge difference between the poverty of W Africa and the poverty of E St. Louis. But the former is not an excuse to ignore the latter.

  • Karl der Grosse

    the University of Chicago Neo-Liberal School of economy or are we in John Galt territory? I don’t see how that helps the genetically disadvantaged. If your father is rich and connected enough you can be marginally functional emotionally and intellectually and become President of the United States. What do the unconnected do?

  • mauberly

    comment that you don’t care to respond to. It takes a trollee who wishes to refute the troll and whose literary honor is offended by him for the discourse to continue.

    Suppose a guy is a functional autistic and comes to the sight. What do you do with him if he gets into a persistent mode? It is easy to ignore him on a blog site. It is not like he is in your living room.

    Dash was not garbaging up the site with obscenity or advertising anything.

    Don’t see it, but I ain’t no honcho.

    http://mauberly.blogspot.com/

  • Don

    and I suspect that we’ll have more not to ignore in the very near future, with current trends.

    Poor people will soon be immobilized by rising fuel costs.

    That’s the first step. Others will follow.

    I did inhale.

  • GordonMcMillan

    …is a poison pill wrapped in rhetorical candy, perhaps someone should expose it before it kills the discourse.

  • nymole

    before the crash of a 30-year relationship that I didn’t see coming:-)


    “George Washington did not cross the Delaware for Capitalism,” Shmuley Boteach

  • mauberly

    but it was a Bus(c)h light. I’m poor in the beer department. The head fills up either way.

    http://mauberly.blogspot.com/

  • mauberly

    been there, Bud. Ain’t good. And in one now, in business. No one wants to live in a one horse town, except those that own the horse.

    http://mauberly.blogspot.com/

  • GordonMcMillan

    One above.
    “Impoverish” is to make poor. The semantic difference is entirely different than Tom claimed. That is, Tom was claiming Ian was wrong by finding an invalid excuse to claim he was wrong.

    Then he criticizes for missing symptoms. Ooh, my. You can’t really be sick, you’re not dead yet.

    Then his “substitute” claim. Here it is with substitutions:

    Being rich means you do what you gotta do, you take the crap you gotta take and you wonder why being rich also means people feel like they can treat you like garbage.

    Equivalent? Hell no. Sensible? Still no. Too much Bus(c)h? Still no. Too much Bushmills? Now that’s beginning to make sense. Another 5th, and I’m sure it’ll be totally clear.

  • mauberly

    He made a distinction, whether you like his word ‘impoverished’ or not, and you become the grammar goblin here to avoid the force of his distinction, which could have been simply acknowledged, or left alone. The force is that Ian could add a lot to the list of being poor, given his beginning in what appears to be a kind of destitution, rather than statistical, “poverty line” poverty.

    The rest is irrelevant because the security guard remark starts off the pissing.

    If Ian wants to pick up “the do what you gotta do” business so as to point out Dash’s comparision is invidious, fine; Dash did wiggle out in advance with the word ‘some’ in front of ‘people.’

    He may have been thinking of a case where someone rich, alone, is thrust into a unfriendly, poor man’s environment and has trouble.

    So why go there? Unless you want trouble.

    http://mauberly.blogspot.com/

Leave a Reply

Users