Social Question

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Are many of the poor in the US spoiled or not very grateful?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (22110 points ) September 4th, 2011

Many of the people I know that would fall below the government poverty line bitch about what they don’t have, and that the government don’t help and the rich are greedy bastards. Many of the poor here would be rich in many other nations. I don’t think I know of any person that could be considered poor that has a home that doesn’t have hot & cold running water, functional toilet and shower, a way to launder clothes; with out having to beat them with stones by the river, or use a washboard with a large pail. At least basic cable, a cell phone at least, even if it is just a burner air card phone, and possibly a beater car. Even those who are truly homeless many had pay-as-you-go cell phones. They never truly starved. They had food pantries to use, they recycled for money to buy food, they had soup kitchens to frequent. They were not like this poor bloke so starved to even get to the food to live another day at least. Even the lowest of the poor I have known, did not have to wash their clothes in a dirty river, or bathe in a river where all manner of boat traffic travel occurs, animals use, and even people use because they do not have toilets. I have never seen any government housing that had running open sewers in them. By comparison, the poor here in the US still has it pretty good. Taking into consideration all they do have, can they really complain and bitch about not getting what they like of feel they deserve to have?

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49 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Facepalm Maybe, @incendiary_dan has energy.

incendiary_dan's avatar

While I certainly think there are plenty of spoiled people in the U.S., I wouldn’t put them predominantly in the poor. Nor do I think “it could be worse” is at all an adequate measure or reasoning to disregard legitimate grievances with systemic problems and income disparities rivaling so-called banana republics.

Not to mention that an unfortunate number of American children and adults do have inadequate food, both in terms of amount and quality. There’s a lot of cheap food out there, but diets consisting of a lot of that cheap food often lead to malnutrition and the associated maladies. Many people go without heat during hard winters, many have to choose between medical bills, eating, or paying for heat. Just because they also happen to have a few trinkets doesn’t make them spoiled.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I drink a lot of coffee. :)

wundayatta's avatar

No. Not spoiled.

Poor is a relative term, and it is relative to what is going around in the environment of the person. Sure, a poor person in the US is wealthier than 90% of the rest of the population in the world, but so what? They are still disadvantaged, and they still pull the rest of us down or, at best, just keep us from increasing our wealth as much as we could.

Poor people are lost opportunities—anywhere in the world. We benefit by doing all we can to get people to raise their living standard closer to the mean. The mean, of course, is always a moving target, but it is the cultural mean that counts, not the worldwide one.

jonsblond's avatar

The working poor don’t feel spoiled when they need to visit a food pantry to feed their family.

Let me know when it’s the 15th of the month. that’s the date we get to visit the pantry again.

peridot's avatar

People pulling down $50K or $60K a year really need to not complain, either; that might bring down the morale of those making a mil or two (or ten) annually. They need to quit whining and pull themselves up by their bootstraps!

As has been mentioned above, it’s about context.

Jaxk's avatar

Here’s an interesting article about this that provides some insight. There is no question that the poor here in the US are much better off than, say, Uganda but it doesn’t mean we don’t have any problems. The trick as always, is to find programs that work and eliminate or alter those that don’t.

We provide a passable standard of living for those that are in poverty with the hopes that they advance to a point that they no longer require assistance. Things like food stamps, welfare, subsidized housing, etc. But the process is fairly complex to gain the benefit but incredibly easy to sustain the benefit. To make it worse we actually incent people to stay on government subsidies. If you become employed, you lose the government assistance but may actually degrade your standard of living. Who wants to work for less than they get for not working? We may want to consider making it easier to get on these programs but harder to stay on them. Generational welfare is a long term drag on the economy and a problem we seem to support.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

I know when my children were young and we had to have food stamps, I didn’t feel spoiled. more like embarrassed. I was grateful for the help. I think most people who get help feel the same way. I think you are basing your judgment on a narrow sampling. Unless you know MANY people receiving help. Most people I have known who receive help are pretty humble and thankful.

peridot's avatar

Too late for me to edit my response, but this thread (taken from the ‘Related’ box) ought to shed some light. By the same OP, too. Hmmm…

CWOTUS's avatar

It’s not just the poor, but it’s them, too. We’re all somewhat ungrateful and spoiled, to a greater or lesser degree, I think. Life on Earth is pretty good, all things considered, and life in the USA is particularly good – for most of us. Which is not to say that it couldn’t and shouldn’t be better, but as you point out in the details to your question, it’s not bad compared to the rest of the world, and it’s not bad compared to 50 and 100 years ago, etc.

Aside from perverse incentives that @Jaxk correctly points out, that is, incentives for people not to improve their situation, we have many other unintended consequences of well-intentioned policies.

The minimum wage laws are a good example. Many people protest that not only “minimum wage” but “living wage” laws are needed, “because a low-income worker can’t provide for a family at minimum wage”. Without debating the truth of that statement (because before government grew as large and “benevolent” as it did and before it debased our currency as it has, people could live comfortably on a lot less than they do now, including single-earner households, which used to be the norm), whether a person “can provide for a family” or not at minimum wage only means that the lowest-value jobs in most organizations are now priced beyond what they’re worth to employers. So what happens is a relentless and increasingly strong drive to automate and eliminate those jobs – or to transfer them (if they’re ‘production’ jobs, especially) overseas to people who are willing to work for any wage. (Those people who get those jobs don’t stagnate at “low wage” jobs forever, either. As they learn production technology, improved methods and machinery, adapt to more stringent quality controls, etc. they become more valuable… and move on to the better paying jobs that would have been – used to be – part of the American landscape.) Meanwhile teenagers and recent graduates (high school and college) are shut out of the labor market because as “new employees” at most organizations they simply aren’t worth the legislated minimum wage.

It’s not like they would languish there forever.

But no, we want to be more “benevolent”, so we adopt polices that ensure the very things we try to prevent. Meanwhile taxes increase, money is further debased, and folks who were “getting by”, now fall into the “social services net” ... and languish there.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@incendiary_dan While I certainly think there are plenty of spoiled people in the U.S., I wouldn’t put them predominantly in the poor. Many of the rich feel spoiled because they have way more than the minimum.

Not to mention that an unfortunate number of American children and adults do have inadequate food, both in terms of amount and quality. There’s a lot of cheap food out there, but diets consisting of a lot of that cheap food often lead to malnutrition and the associated maladies. Sure there are people lacking here. That is never going to change, and may get worse. Some people don’t seem to think if it were worse they would have more they could use.

Just because they also happen to have a few trinkets doesn’t make them spoiled. They are if they think it is not enough. If they think they are getting short changed because they can only afford a phone that does what a phone does; make calls. If they can’t have a phone that takes pics, surf the Web, store music, slices and dices and makes hundreds of Julianne fries, they are spoiled.
They certainly don’t seem very grateful.

@jonsblond The working poor don’t feel spoiled when they need to visit a food pantry to feed their family. Those who truly know they are not entitled to it are not spoiled. Those who would not dare use a food bank because they can’t get all name brand stuff, or they can go there and pick up prime rib eye, are, IMO.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I seriously hate the cult of gratitude, and how it’s used to disregards all undesirables by pointing out how they didn’t genuflect enough.

mrrich724's avatar

Somehow, over the years, people have groomed this sense of entitlement, which is just rotting people and burdening those who do have “more.”

It doesn’t help when you have people like Obama (but not just him, this isn’t an attack on him), fortifying their position saying that it’s our duty to help.

“I do not have what you have therefore you are obligated to assist me, because it’s only fair.” I can not BEGIN to fathom that concept. . . that anyone owes someone less fortunate than them anything.

And I think one of the most important statements in @CWOTUS paragraphs is that when you do help, it incentivises certain people not to work to improve their situation.

I think it’s great when people are willing to help, I think it’s horrible when people translate that as any type of obligation to help.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Can we have some links to the people you are using as examples? I’ve never heard of anyone not going to a food bank because they couldn’t get name brand food or whatever. You sound like you are repeating republican talking points.

jerv's avatar

If by “spoiled” you mean. “allowed to live” or “not killed by a lack of self-sufficiency” then yes. However, by the standards of those who believe in human rights, not really. Okay, maybe the prepaid cellphones are a luxury, but even remote African villages often have some way to contact the outside world whereas there are fewer and fewer payphones here in the US, meaning that those without their own phone really are incommunicado… and thus often unable to get a job.

Also, thanks to the economic policies that you love, there are many more that need such assistance. A few years ago, many food banks were struggling to meet half the demand we have now. That also puts a strain on the government, forcing them to spend more,which in turn raises taxes, at least on those that pay them. But so long as GE and Bank of America get fat refunds every Tax Day, who cares how many people suffer?

But the real reason they are not spoiled is simply because we are the richest nation on Earth and yet we also have a rather large and growing inequality here that threatens to drag us back to Medieval times of Feudalism where you were either Nobility or a Serf.

@Jaxk Another rare agreement between you and I.

@Russell_D_SpacePoet He often does.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Russell_D_SpacePoet You sound like you are repeating republican talking points. I have no ideal what Republican talking points are. I am not a member of neither party, to me they are Twiddle Dee, and Twiddle Dumb. The people that live around here by their talk I would suspect they vote Democrat. Many feel they should have what those up in the ‘burbs have. The wealthy has that, as people say, we are in one of the riches nations on the planet. Why shouldn’t they be able to have better trinkets? We give 100s of millions or more to other countries, why can’t Uncle Sam give some of that love at home? That is what they believe.

ETpro's avatar

The economic disparity in America has been steadily growing for the last 30 years. The top 1% hold 43% of all the wealth in the nation now. THe last time they got close to that level was in 1928, and I think we all know what that brought on. the most recent peak was 2007, and wonder of wonders, that brought a second massive economic crisis. But we’ve been in the Great Regression since 1980. Taxes have been cut in half from 70% for the top bracket to 35%; and those who earn the very most rarely pay that rate. Instead, they are taxed at 15%. Meanwhile, withholding asn sales taxes than mainly impact the middle class and working poor have actually gone up over that period.

<sarcasm> So yeah, the working poor and the unemployed have it so good. They don’t have to worry about money because they don’t have any. Most don’t have to worry about health care because they don’t have any. Such a codddled bunch. Let’s take what they have and ship it all to the billionaires who are so unfairly treated today. </sarcasm>

Jaxk's avatar

Now there’s the solution. Let’s do what they did in the 30s. 1930, they raised the import duties by 40%, 1932 they raised the income tax from 25% to 63%, 1936 they raised the top tax rate from 63% to 79%. All this ushered in more than a decade of depression. Now that’s a scenario we want to follow.

Let’s all sing:

Trailers for sale or rent
Rooms to let…fifty cents.
No phone, no pool, no pets
I ain’t got no cigarettes
Ah, but..two hours of pushin’ broom
Buys an eight by twelve four-bit room
I’m a man of means by no means
King of the road.

woodcutter's avatar

How many is many? Is there a percentage of poor who might fall into the “spoiled” category to get a base amount of the spoilt and poor population? Since it’s a big guess- how many that number is, it leaves it open to speculation only. I speculate the real “poor” in this country really don’t say much. It’s hard to say anything if you don’t have a voice.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk Nobody is suggesting that we follow the steps taken in the Great Depression Where’s that straw man coming from?

Now, let’s look at what you actually suggested. You wrote, “1930, they raised the import duties by 40%,” Probably this was a bad move, but the Depression did start in 1929, not 1930, so blaming the Smoot Hawley Tariff Act requires another trip in that time machine you apply so liberally in analysis of the Great Depression.

And yes, Hoover did raise the top tax rate to 63% in 1932. Guess what else happened that year. The rate of decline of the GDP slowed. Raising taxes did not cause the depression and it did not worsen it, it did the exact opposite if it had anything to do with the GDP curve. Again, an anachronism. Pull out that time machine so the arm waving actually works

Finally, as the link above shows, the GDP turned the corner in December of 1933. So to argue that a 1932 tax hike made it worse is absurd. And as to tax rates causing economic decline, while I am sure that one set too high can do so, the record from the 20s makes your argument untenable. The tax rates had been high from 1916 to 1923 and those years were part of the economic boom that preceded the crash of 1929. The top marginal rate was slashed in 1924 and the depression hit in 1929. But hey, the trusty time machine can make actual history irrelevant, can’t it?

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk How about if we keep taxes low on the top tiers despite the $700 Billion that will cost over the next decade (and hold Congress hostage for a few million worth of cuts to stuff we don’t approve of while leaving our pet projects untouched), keep the loopholes that allow the big corporations to shelter all of their money abroad and often get money back at the expense of middle-class citizens and small businesses, and make the numbers look good. I mean, we all know that if you wrap dog shit in gold leaf, it is no longer shit, right?

Double-digit unemployment is simply because it’s too damn expensive to hire American workers. Ignore the record profits many are reporting. Facts don’t matter and numbers lie, except when they support our agenda.

Okay, I am going to switch to decaf now…

jonsblond's avatar

btw- It’s Hunger Action Month

Hunger is a reality for 1 in 6 Americans

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@jerv Double-digit unemployment is simply because it’s too damn expensive to hire American workers. That is probably a question in its own right, and an interesting one to boot. I will deviate off trail; why is that? What is responsible for the US worker being too expensive to employ?

@jonsblond Hunger is a reality for 1 in 6 Americans No dispute there, but I have never met anyone who was so starved they fell out on the roadway because they only had a hand full of millet every other day for the past six months. The only one I ever hear of starving to death in the US do so at their own hand. The homeless around here, and I know several, they always find some place to eat. A church that is feeding, a soup kitchen, food giveaway, they recycle so they have cash to buy some food, no, it isn’t Spagos, but it is still food, There are some, maybe not a large number, that won’t use those resources because it isn’t Spago’s quality or name brand food. They feel if the top 30% of the US can have that, the government should stop wasting money abroad so they can have it to, not 2nds and 3rds.

jrpowell's avatar

“No dispute there, but I have never met anyone who was so starved they fell out on the roadway because they only had a hand full of millet every other day for the past six months. The only one I ever hear of starving to death in the US do so at their own hand.”

I got food stamps, a whopping 148 dollars a month. I got the max amount since I was homeless and didn’t have a income. Around three bucks a day to cook without a kitchen.

I’m really curious about you H_C. Did your parents pay for your college? Have you ever struggled? Ever went to the hospital and walked out three days later with a 11 thousand dollar bill while you made minimum wage and worked 60 hours a week?

Jaxk's avatar

@ETpro

Let’s not twist what I said. The Great Depression lasted from 1929 to 1940. The tax rate didn’t cause it but the taxes prolonged. If you want to know where the straw man came from read your own posts. You seem to be advocating the exact same things. Hell the tax hikes stopped the decline. Hell we don’t need the spending just raise taxes and the recession will be fixed.

Your record from the 20s is factually incorrect. The forgotten recession (many call it a depression) 1920–1921 was one of our worst recessions. Infact the rate of decline in 1920 rivals the rate of decline in 1930. The big difference is we pulled out of it. And we did so without massive spending. In fact we cut spending dramatically.

What ever you are using for a data source for the 20s needs to be updated. the forgotten depression was not part of the economic boom.

Judi's avatar

I put this on your other quetion, But you really do need to see what John Stewart Has to say about those greedy poor~: @Hypocrisy_Central

jca's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central: “What is responsible for the US worker being too expensive to employ?”

The NAFTA Agreement.

CWOTUS's avatar

The primary reason that some American workers are “too expensive to employ” has to do with a lot of factors.

First is the fact that the rest of the world wants to acquire what we have acquired, and they’re willing to work for that. And since their base is so much lower, they are willing to work – for now – for a lot less than we’re willing to work for. So a lot of jobs go to places in the world where people are willing to work at them for less.

But it’s not just “workers’ salaries”. “Jobs” depend on a confluence of capital (investment in plant, equipment and startup overhead, etc.) and labor. When the capital is available overseas to create the initial investment there in plant and equipment, as it is in China, for example, then that’s where the plants are built (assuming markets are available for the produce), and the labor pool is already there. Right now in the USA there is a general unwillingness to make the capital investments needed to create new plants. (We don’t have to get into all of the reasons for that in this little post, but the unwillingness is evident by the fact that “stimulus money” is sitting in banks at near-record low interest rates, and no one is borrowing it for investment. For one thing, the domestic markets for consumption are flat or declining.)

Finally, there’s a sense among many that they’re “too good for” certain kinds of work, or “too valuable” to work for much less than they have worked for in the past. If an auto worker spends a number of years making tens of thousands of dollars per year doing nothing more than bolting bumpers on new cars on an assembly line, then when he gets laid off he has a sense that his “worth” is tens of thousands of dollars per year. When a lower wage job opens up at Taco Bell, he won’t take it, because it’s “beneath him”. He hasn’t recognized that the market for his labor has changed.

It’s not permanent. The rest of the world is starting to catch up, wage-wise. Some production is starting to come back onshore because of quality, transportation and scheduling issues. As US and world wages reach parity (sometimes because US wages fall, it has to be admitted), then more work will come back because of “price only”. But it’s going to take time, and not panicking and doing more stupid things… like another “stimulus package”.

jerv's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I think it relevant to digress briefly on that one.

How much does food and shelter cost in other places? I only took a couple of minutes to find stuff like this that show how our cost of living is fairly high compared to the rest of the world. Note that China’s COL is about 1/5 of ours; that might explain why they work so cheap. I know that I need to be paid more than someone living in many other parts of our own country as rent is higher here. (WA is $850, which is what I pay, NH is $919 so we got lucky there, but much of the Midwest is around $600-ish) but we still pay considerably more for housing than many other places abroad.

How much does it cost to see a doctor for a life-threatening illness? I mean what does it really cost? The last time I went to the ER, is was over $4,000; do hospitals overseas charge nearly that much? How much is a loaf of bread? I remeber when I was in the Navy, I marvelled at how far my dollars went.

That leads us to the vicious cycle. For instance, my landlord has bills to pay, so he has to charge me more, which means I have to earn more, which costs my employer, who in turn has to raise prices. That means other people have to earn more to afford what my employer is offering, which leads to our customers either needing more income or our company’s profits falling…

@CWOTUS While “too good” is an issue, I think a larger issue is that many people don’t have the skills required for what jobs are available. I am in a fairly odd position as I actually lack the skills required to do customer service; something our current economy has a great demand for. Lucky for me, I have various manufacturing skills and got hired on at a place that does such good work that people overseas come to us despite the price of our products. How many qualified Database Administrators do we have? Registered Nurses? Both are skills that are in fairly high demand but that most people lack. I mean, I don’t think a guy who spent the last 20 years bolting bumpers to cars can put an IV into my arm or debug SQL.

Jaxk's avatar

@ETpro

BTW, just for the sake of information, we have been going through recessions on a regular basis for a long time. The ‘Boom and Bust’ cycle that got so much press. Most are fairly shallow and don’t have a big impact but some quite severe (1920, 1929, 1981, 2008).

During the period 1871–1900 we were in recession 48.3% of the time.
From 1900–1950 we were in recession 36.8% of the time.
From 1950–2009 we were in recession 15.2% of the time.

We seem to be getting better at this economy thing. I’m not sure how this fits in but thought it was quite interesting. It needs research.

Jaxk's avatar

@jerv

We have about 50 different jobs training programs funded by the federal government. They seem to be very disjointed and spread across several different agencies (why is that not a surprise). Maybe we could tie these directly to welfare/unemployment/food stamps/etc. We help financially while you go through retraining. Then you must get a job. Hell we can even help with that (the unemployment office used to be a great source for finding a job).

Of course we should also evaluate these programs. Consolidate and or modify/eliminate those that don’t work. We already spend $billions on job training and $billions more on welfare. Everything should be geared to move people off welfare rather than extending it.

Just because you were a factory worker doesn’t mean you can’t learn a new trade. (BTW, when I say ‘you’ I don’t mean you just a term for the collective)

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk The catch is that, aside from minimum-wage jobs like McDonalds, many of the jobs are beyond the abilities of many people to even learn, at least in any sort of cost-effective manner. I mean, I studied Nuclear Physics and SQL gives me trouble, so how do you think a person who as a result of our faltering education system is functionally illiterate and can’t even calculate correct change when you hand them a $10 bill for a Big Mac is going to fare?

BTW, I figured you didn’t mean me personally given that you probably know me well enough by now to know my background. But given the problems my shop has had finding people that can even be machine operators (let alone be able to operate without constant supervision) makes me wonder. I mean, all it really takes to be an operator is the sort of math skills I had back in 1983 when I was just going into the third grade plus the computer skills needed to operate an ATM and enough common sense to know that when the machine sounds like it wants to explode, you hit the Big Red Button and call for a real machinist to fix it, yet we have a hard time finding even that level of competence.

Jaxk's avatar

@jerv

That’s why all the new cash registers calculate the change for you. Hell you don’t even have to know the price, all you have to do is push the button with the picture of a hamburger on it. There is no question that some require more training than others and some are just not capable of even menial tasks. But those numbers are not that large. I remember as a kid believing that anybody could be anything they wanted. Brain surgeon, Rocket Scientist, all they had to do was work hard and learn. When I grew up, I learned otherwise. But everyone (with the exception of the severely retarded) has the capacity to do some work. The trick is what. That’s what the jobs training should all about. Finding the right job and learning to do it.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central So you know that many people around you that receive aid and have the attitude you have said exists. I’m glad you know enough of them to judge them all..You must know hundreds of them to have such a firm negative opinion of an entire group of people…..

Symbeline's avatar

There’s certainly many variations of poverty that must be considered when comparing different countries. A person born without any legs in Krakmabool and is dying of Polio is worse off than some bum picking garbage and bumming change, yeah. But to me, this is where your point ends.

In the more advanced countries, poverty is a still a serious issue, and the government’s disregard for it is quite alarming. Being homeless is actually a lot of work. You gotta survive somehow, and usually the police don’t care about you. Or much of anyone else really, including fellow bums. In places where money is everything, I got a real hard time with all that get yourself out of the rut if you really want it bullshit. There are thousands of poor and homeless people out there, and as if for a second I’ll believe it’s a choice, or someone being spoiled or ungrateful.
Poverty exists I guess because it exists, but there are so many factors that nobody ever considers that make it remain. Besides the whole money thing. I guess everyone was some poor bastard before we invented that.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Judi I put this on your other quetion, But you really do need to see what John Stewart Has to say about those greedy poor~: @Hypocrisy_Central Thank you, it made my point with facts that should not be in dispute because I did not come up with them. I love it when others do the work for me. What did it say? What I have said:

• 99.6% of the declared poor has a refrigerator.
• 81.4% has a microwave.
• 78.3% has A?C in their home.
• 63.7% have cable or satellite.
• 54% have a cell phone.

Even thought they are declared poor, more than half, 5/8 in some cases, have what the non-poor has. It is not like you have the non-poor over here with all these conveniences, then over there is the poor with nothing but a Maytag washer box to live out of, fighting the dog for a bone. Yet there are those who aren’t happy with that.

@jerv I only took a couple of minutes to find stuff like this that show how our cost of living is fairly high compared to the rest of the world. I will digress a moment with you to say, that because the cost of living per person in Switzerland is 1,505, almost 500 more than the US, that means we live in mud huts? I guess we can say their money is not worthy as much so it is a false read.

The same dwelling in Greece, or Brazil with A/C, dishwasher, garbage disposal, electric range, with hot and cold running water, was just made more shoddy than if in Finland or the US? If people want to overpay for something that should actually cost less, that is on them. I would guess because petro is more expensive in Europe their gas is superior to that found in the US and Canada?

@Russell_D_SpacePoet I’m glad you know enough of them to judge them all..You must know hundreds of them to have such a firm negative opinion of an entire group of people….. Sorry, maybe IU should have rephrased it to make it even easier to follow. Since I am not speaking Chinese, or Yiddish, it was straightforward. I never said all, if I meant to say all that is what I would have said. I guess I should have said, “Many of the poor I have met in this areas. That way you can believe the poor which John Stewart pointed out, still have most of what the non-poor have, even if they don’t have as nice a brand, all the bells and whistle and far less channels, are so grateful they have that, they never would fathom complaining.

@johnpowell I’m really curious about you H_C. Did your parents pay for your college? Have you ever struggled? Ever went to the hospital and walked out three days later with a 11 thousand dollar bill while you made minimum wage and worked 60 hours a week? No, any college I ever went to my mother did not help me a dime, she wasn’t able. The sperm donor listed as the father on the birth certificate hasn’t been around since I was six, so I got no help from him. I struggle constantly and because I can’t afford to get my Benz detailed or take that second trip to Cabo San Lucas before the year ends. Halloween 2007 I ended up in the ER and emergency surgery I still owe on, and I was making more than minimum wage and it still kicked my arse. Most my life I have been closer to poor than I ever was to rich. I was homeless living out my car for 2 weeks once, with 6 cats. I have stayed in dinky coffin-like rooms in an illegal boarding house where I had to share the bathroom. I was grateful for it as piss poor as it was because I got to stretch out on a bed at night to sleep, I was not stuck in a car, or under a bush. I did not have to battle the cold on how not to freeze at night. It was far from the John Hopkins or the Sir. Frances Drake, but it was better than a lot of other alternatives.

jerv's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central If people want to overpay for something that should actually cost less…
With that statement, you just proved that you know nothing about how our market actually works. You have some idealized notion that people are willing to sacrifice what many consider to be a necessity for the sake of trying to haggle. Let me know when you return to reality.

woodcutter's avatar

So fucking what if the poor have some of the same things as the non poor. It’s a good bet that whatever they do have is old as dinosaur shit and is on it’s last leg with duct tape and wire keeping it going. To be considered poor enough do we as a society wait till people really hit rock bottom to help? No, that would be like trying to cherry out a YUGO to keep it going just a little bit longer, good money into bad as thy say. The time to help people is when they are salvageable, which in a big way means they still have some dignity left and the means to actually pull on their bootstraps. We want to assist before they have no bootstraps, for the effort to do any good at all. Just because someone is poor and has a mobile phone really isn’t an indicator they are sandbagging. It’s probably because they don’t have a landline or a computer and is all they have to stay connected. There are abusers of the system of course and the question at the top asked if “many” are spoiled. Well what does “many” mean really?

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central. I was actually being sarcastic because I am fairly sure you don’t know a huge number of people on assistance. Therefore if you don’t, you are drawing your conclusion from a few people. No you didn’t say all of them, but your attitude about the subject hints of your opinion of people who receive assistance.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Russell_D_SpacePoet No you didn’t say all of them, but your attitude about the subject hints of your opinion of people who receive assistance. My mistake, sarcasm is the dish best served dry, and I think I got an end that was a bit moist. I have nothing against people getting aid, or even needing it. But to complain that you don’t have a phone that is Web capable, serves as a mobile hot spot, takes pics and video, serves as a MP3 player and slices and dices and makes hundreds of Julianne fries. When they could have no phone and have to beg the neighbors, or scour the countryside for a pay phone whenever they have to make a call, I do have an issue with that. Even if your fridge is eight years old, if it keeps the butter cold and the milk from spoiling, then it has worked, even if it doesn’t have the bells and whistles of a brand new on. The poor are deserving of more, but to knock what they have because it is not top notch when they could not even have that, bad taste in the mouth, IMO.

Jaxk's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central

I think you shortchange the benefits of Julianne fries.

Judi's avatar

When you find a rental you can afford you’re not going to say, ” please, take out the dishwasher and air conditioner. I’m poor and I can’t afford those modern amenities.”
Having those things does not make it easier to choose between food and medicine.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Judi When you find a rental you can afford you’re not going to say, ” please, take out the dishwasher and air conditioner. I’m poor and I can’t afford those modern amenities.” I am not saying, nor have I said, that the poor should forsake what they are given if it is what the middle-class and wealthy has. I say if they find an apartment they can afford but it doesn’t have central heating and air, or it doesn’t have dishwasher, if it has a wall furnace, windows, a roof that doesn’t leak, and hot and cold running water, complaining because there is no dishwasher is crazy. If it has a solid floor but it wasn’t wall to wall carpet, it isn’t a dirt floor, what is there to complain about? You find a place you can afford and the stove was 18 years old, so long as it is safe and not going to burn the place down, it will still heat a pot of water. It doesn’t have to have digital readouts and fancy timers to do that. They are not warming water over an open fire outside, what is there to complain about? They can desire more, I would not blame them, but to not see how it could be worse, that is ludicrous.

Jaxk's avatar

@Judi

Since about 47 million people are on Medicaid and about 44 million get food stamps I’m not sure they need to choose. We give them both food and medical care. Probably even pay some of thier rent.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk Those programs don’t always cover the cost though, especially at a certain income level. Some people are better off totally unemployed than earning a meager income that is enough to reduce benefits but not enough to pay the bills.

Try eating on $34/month.

Judi's avatar

@Jaxk, you really have no idea. The working poor don’t have any REAL access to Medicaid. I knew a girl who earned minimum wage and was told that she would be responsible for the first $500 per month. She would only be covered until she was 21. I won’t even stare with the nightmare I had with my disabled son. The worst was having to prove he was disabled.

jca's avatar

Ironically, many people getting Medicaid now are people with money, who hide it legally through eldercare trusts, or supplemental needs trusts (such as NYSARC) and then are eligible for Medicaid.

Jaxk's avatar

@Judi

I may have a better idea than you think. The problem as I see it is that if you are familiar with the system, getting on these programs is not very tough. If however, you’re not familiar with the system, it can be an almost impossible task. Once you’re on the programs, it becomes much easier to stay on them. This creates a system where those that need temporary help may not get it. While those that get it stay on it for a lifetime. That’s why I said earlier “We may want to consider making it easier to get on these programs but harder to stay on them.”

The truth is we have unemployment extending out two years or more, welfare, disability, housing subsidies, food stamps, medicaid, and god only knows what else. Some people get help that truly need help. Some learn to game the system and use it as a tool to keep from having to work. Many actually get caught in the middle and simply can’t find a way out. The left only talk about those that truly need the help. The right only talks about those that are gaming the system. Both arguments are valid. We need to find a way to help those that truly need it which includes a process to become self-sufficient. Government aid should be a hand up, not a career.

Judi's avatar

@Jaxk , Agreed. My sister, who was a single mom had to ask her boss not to give her a raise once because every time she got a raise, her rent went up and her food stamps went down. Neither program took the other into consideration, so every raise was, in effect, a pay cut. It would have been easier for her to stay on the system than it would have been to work her way out of it. Most people would just give up. My Sister, however, is an incredible woman. She just retired at 55. I’m so proud of her. :-)

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk Part of that has to do with government being out of touch. Apparently, many of these agencies think that a gallon of milk is under a dollar, rent is under $500/month, and life-saving medication (like Insulin) is not subject to price-gouging. At best, they are anachronistic. More likely, they are just stoooooopid.

Unfortunately, neither of the alternatives I’ve seen are really palatable. One would basically increase the benefits of our current system without any notable reform; costly but doesn’t really solve anything. The other cuts costs through economic Darwinism; if you aren’t self-sufficient then you die. It’s not government’s job to help anyone. Every person for themselves.

We do need to find a way to give a hand-up instead of a hand-out. And I say “we” because I doubt DC can.

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