General Question

whiteliondreams's avatar

Should people care for the poor or leave them to fend?

Asked by whiteliondreams (1698 points ) June 23rd, 2012

I understand there are many programs and systems in place for people with disabilities and low income.

Amorally, if the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, should something be done?

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37 Answers

athenasgriffin's avatar

I believe that the poor should be given every opportunity to succeed. There already are programs that teach skills and professional behavior to those who might be able to use them, these should be expanded. Children of the poor should be given a good schooling and access to tutors to supplement their learning the way that middle class families usually do. Opportunities to attend college NEED to be expanded, college should be completely free for those who have no way to pay for it but are gifted academically.

Qingu's avatar

I don’t think there’s a way to answer this question amorally. Throughout history, almost every society has been characterized by a very small elite class that controls power, wealth, and resources. If you’re okay with this, then there’s nothing “amorally” I can argue that can change your mind.

I don’t think most people are okay with this, though. The main difference of opinion seems to be on the level of faith we should have in the market. Some people believe that a laissez-faire market does in fact give poor people all the opportunities they deserve, and that such a market fairly and justly doles out wealth proportional to a person’s value.

Most intelligent and honest people, on the other hand, see that it is absolutely trivial for an elite class to completely dominate a so-called laissez-faire market and absorb power, wealth, and resources for their own use while impoverishing everyone else. Such people believe that a democratic government should serve as a counterweight to the market, regulating it and redestributing wealth to ensure that the elite class does not gain too much power through it. I am one of those people.

jrpowell's avatar

Fend in my mind means the increase in the odds I will be murdered while I walk down my street to 7/11 so someone can snatch my wallet. I will pay more so I can walk outside and leave my door unlocked at night.

Don’t give a shit if the shiftless eat Twinkie’s instead of robbing me when I head out for PBR.

jerv's avatar

If the rich let some of their money trickle down, it would improve their profits in the long run, mostly by not exsanguinating our economy.

If the poor are left to fend for themselves, they may do so violently.

You can’t get blood from a rock, but a rock can get blood from you.

Nullo's avatar

Biblically, we are encouraged to look after each other, and particularly the less fortunate.

ETpro's avatar

@whiteliondreams @jerv and @Nullo strike me as having it right.

jerv's avatar

@Nullo Sadly, Conservatives seem to cherry-pick/edit the Bible to suit there own ends. I know that this is a joke, but it’s one with a huge rain of truth to it.

missjowl's avatar

I’m sorry but I just look at them and pass them by I’m not going to give money to the homeles or the poor people because you never know what they will use the money for that’s just how I see it and if you don’t agree then I am sorry

Nullo's avatar

@jerv Hardly. Have you considered that two people might have different ideas for addressing an issue, with the same goal in mind? Your link targets a strawman, and furthermore suggests that a Christian who doesn’t embrace big government is a hypocrite.

jerv's avatar

@Nullo One can oppose Big Government and still care about their fellow humans. However, I don’t see how anybody who truly cares about their fellow man can be so willing to throw them under the bus. I would think that those who oppose big government and care about people would try their best to take care of people through the private sector (more charity, support food banks, fund clinics…) in order to keep the government from having to do those things (and doing them poorly), but it seems that their idea of help is telling the poor, “Tough shit, you lazy bastard!”, which doesn’t seem very Christian to me.

@missjowl There are more ways to help the poor than giving them money. Handouts are debatable, but would do you oppose a hand up?

flutherother's avatar

Most of the poor don’t want charity but an equitable system that gives a fair days pay for a fair days work. The minimum wage should be raised and the extremely wealthy should be more heavily taxed. Those incapable of work should be looked after. In a properly functioning democracy this would happen as a matter of course but our democracy is heavily influenced by the power of big money.

augustlan's avatar

Caring for the least of us improves the lives of all of us.

mattbrowne's avatar

Caring for the poor increases your happiness.

Qingu's avatar

@Nullo, I find it curious that so many Christians want the government to enforce certain Biblical commandments (eg, do murder, do not commit adultery, do not have gay sex) but not others (eg, give to the poor).

How does an upstanding Christian distinguish between the Biblical commands the government should enforce, and the ones it shouldn’t?

LostInParadise's avatar

The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, the middle class is being squeezed, and the economy is suffering for it. It is no coincidence that the economy is in the worst shape since the depression and that income distribution is the most lopsided since the depression. We are all in this together. Consumer economies require there to be people to be able to afford to buy things. There is only so much that a rich family can purchase. The poor and middle classes spend proportionately more of their income on consumer goods. Unless there is more spending for those on the bottom, things are going to get worse for everyone.

JLeslie's avatar

We should care about the poor, not only for their sake but for own as well. I agree with the answers above that the working poor should be paid a better wage, a fair wage for a days work. As the population gets more and more divided into very rich and very poor all of society suffers, and a backlash is more and more probable. The backlash can be in several different forms, it can be crime, increased unionization and work stoppages, or voting in politicians who are more socialist minded. If people and businesses on their own pay a fair wage the government won’t be called on to interfere.

As for the poor who don’t work, who can’t work, like the mentally ill, we have to help them, I can’t see how a society doesn’t? What if that person was you?

whiteliondreams's avatar

@ Everyone… Do you think that a new monetary system should be put in place? Should we go back to trading for goods since money only causes problems involving money, which happens to be expenses, habitation, institutions, and relationships? Do you think that if by “trickling money down” the economy would improve? Was it not said that by teaching people to fish they can feed themselves? Is it not also another saying that if you give someone an inch, they may take the mile? The speculation goes on and on about whether the “right” thing to do is help others, but to what extent does helping become reliance? @JLeslie I would only hope that someone would have the heart to do something logical about the people no one can take care of because if we are a society of people who like to help others but don’t want the responsibility of nurturing everyone’s child, then what happens when you get tired of helping? Mother Theresa was a tortured woman inside and in her analects she wrote that she couldn’t understand how people could be so tormenting. How far does a person have to go to help another? How many people do we have to help to say we are going to do fine? I have so many questions and it bugs me because there will be no end to the struggle and I know this because it’s been going on for over 6,000 years when the dawn of civilization arose. Does helping others make us better people or are we better people because we help others? What does that say about the people who do not help due to other circumstances? (Euthyphro dilemma)

Qingu's avatar

@whiteliondreams, in every system—economic, biological—there will be “cheaters.” Sharing society’s resources inevitably means some people will take advantage.

Oh well. You have to ask yourself what’s a higher priority: preventing cheaters, or preventing unfortunate people from suffering. I rank the second above the first.

dabbler's avatar

I’m totally with @Qingu that first priority is providing assistance to the ones that need it. If there are grifters who leech off the system of course we want to minimize the opportunities for that but some has to be tolerated if it can’t be avoided. There are a few parasites in the system and I say So What! if we can reach the people who need help.

As noted well above helping out the least fortunate among us makes life better for all of us. It’s a false economy to cut support for them.

We had almost no homeless people in this country until Reagan throttled federal assistance to mental intitutions. There are people among us who just aren’t able to cope with day-to-day logistics of life, and they are now on the streets or, worse, in jail where it’s far more expensive (for us the taxpayers) to keep them.

People are finding it harder and harder to get basic healthcare and we increasingly face scenarios where we are exposed to tuberculosis and other virulent diseases because people without the means for healthcare are on the streets coughing on us. It is way cheaper for society to provide minimal health services than it is to fight epidemics.

How much is it worth to avoid being in close contact with poverty and disease ? Is it even possible if there is nowhere for sick people to turn? Besides it being the clear moral choice, it’s cheaper to take care of the least fortunate than not to.

JLeslie's avatar

@whiteliondreams Paying someone a decent wage for a well done job is not giving away money or trickling down in my opinion. It is simple golden rule and fair play, and it does create a much better economy for the masses, including the wealthy. Think about it, the best times in America, prosperous times were during the time our middle class grew. We were proud as Americans to have a strong middle class. They were working, it was not free handouts. Part of the reason the middle class grew was because unions took hold and demanded better wages. I actually don’t like unions, because they becomean entity unto itself that has its own selfish reasons to continue, I prefer a situation without unions and good wages and reasonable conditions for workers.

If you give, and when I say give, I don’t mean give away, I mean pay people better, an extra $10k to 100 people who earn $40k year now; or give an equal amount of the total, so $1million to one guy at the top, which will give you more spending in your local economy? The $40k guy will spend almost every cent of his new income, and the millionaire might spend nothing, because he already has sufficient funds to buy whatever he wants. For some reason people I should say some republicans, want to believe giving more money to wealthy people helps the economy, but I don’t see how that makes any sense, nor any time in the past where that is demonstrated, and even currently in coutries that practice out of control capitalism that does not protects workers at all, and there is an elite few with lots of weath and power, basically that is the third world.

Hell, Mexico, our neighbor, with people running across our border, is a democracy and is a capitalistic country. People throw around those words like they identify America, but it identifies many countries, even countries we would not want to be compared to. Our system is much more complex than just simply throwing around a basic concept, and one of the biggest thing I think we had in the past was integrity and fair play, and that is being lost to extreme greed and a false interpretation of what works and what doesn’t. I think capitalism is a great thing when done with integrity, I think it made America great, but there is a limit, and like anything, when taken to an extreme it isn’t good.

I am not talking about taking money away from the wealthy, although in the end they would be making less, it’s true, but if they never had been allowed to make these huge salaries it would not feel like it was being taken away. And, when I say allowed I don’t mean the government interfering somehow, I mean if they had always been paying better wages to employees they never would have been giving these super huge salaries to executives.

As far as taxation, I would go as far to say the EIC, food stamps, and other programs that help support our working poor are actually like a subsidy to corporations. They get to pay shitty wages and the government feeds the people. If you are middle class, I have no idea your income, then supporting low wages means the company in your town can make huge profits, pay executives huge salaries, and your taxes help pay to feed the mouths of the laborers and their children. If you like that system have at it. I don’t.

ETpro's avatar

Even banana republics and dictatorships take care of the greatest among them. A society is know by how it treats the least among it. @Nullo insists that government shouldn’t take care of the poor, the disabled, the mentally challenged. He wants caring people to do that. But the obvious fact is that’s a ruse. In the last 30 years, as GOP hegemony has grown, the wealthiest 1% have seen their income shoot up 265% and their taxes plummet from a high of 90% on earnings over $400,000 to a current top effective rate of 17% for the wealthiest. And there has been absolutely ZERO surge in charity to offset all the suffering this growing inequality has produced.

I think the “private charity will fix it” meme is just an opiate the greedy people inoculate themselves with.

jerv's avatar

@ETpro Hence my contention that many Conservatives are somewhere between “insanely optimistic” and “utterly fucking delusional”... barring those that are just bullshitting and know that charity won’t stop people from suffering/dying but are too inhumane to care.

whiteliondreams's avatar

Do you all know what are the occupations of the top 1%? It’s real estate. I know this because I attended a Rich Dad Poor Dad seminar and I was instructed that there are more millionaires who are real estate investors than any other occupation in the 1%. Also, the reason for the housing bust wasn’t ONLY because loans went into default for people who couldn’t afford them, the banks were playing with money from Europe that was already tainted with inflation. Another problem we are overlooking is the way banks use money. Do we all know? There is a 40/1 ratio of loans from major banks such as BoA and WF to name a few. This 40 to 1 means they take your $1 and loan $40 out. That is not only impossible, but that is what is increasing inflation on the dollar. I learned in sociology that the dollar buys 5 cents. Finally, I also learned in sociology that the middle class is sliding into the poverty bracket. American ambitions are what make Americans ambivalent when it comes to helping others and helping themselves. Thanks to the brainwashing of what was known as the “American Dream” and “inalienable rights”. Don’t get me wrong everyone, I am not being pessimistic on purpose and I am not trying to create any dissension intentionally, but I am seriously tired of people acting like they care (when they may), but then turn around and criticize someone who is ruining their lives on purpose. So what? If people are poor, they are poor for a reason. Hence, Americans promote sending 50 cents to another nation, but we can’t even pick up the kids off the streets here in America. We want to help the poor, but we can’t even control the quality of education in our schools. What does it take to improve education? Parents, teachers, government officials, television and media, music artists and television actors? What? Milton Hershey (Hershey’s co) was a rags to riches story as was that fat lard Warren Buffett, but how many people have duplicated such a story? Not many and it isn’t intended to be repeated. There has to be a caste system, which the United States happens to have regardless of whether we agree with it or not. Without the system, everyone would be equal and we damn well know that we are not all equal socioeconomically, culturally, politically, or academically. We all know the differences, so why pretend that there is an imminent degree of precedence in regarding the poor when there is a 50/50 chance (apparently we like to bargain) that they can be moochers? We don’t have the time or resources to create a system to filter out the shit from the paper.

Qingu's avatar

“the banks were playing with money from Europe that was already tainted with inflation.”

I don’t think this statement makes sense.

You are talking about banks overleveraging. It’s absolutely true that this caused systemic risk to the financial industry. But it doesn’t cause inflation. In fact, the financial crisis was characterized by deflation (much like the Great Depression).

Inflation is not a bogeyman, and inflation is not the only problem that an economy can have.

JLeslie's avatar

@whiteliondreams I think the top 1% starts at $400k more or less. They for sure are not all earning all their money in real estate. But, I am willing to accept a lot of them dabble in it at least, and many do earn their income that way. 10 years ago I would also believe a lot of the 1%‘s wealth was tied up in real estate. It would be interesting to know what forms of real estate. Was a lot of it land? That money is not employing a lot of people then. I would guess some of it is commercial real estate, and other residential being used as investment property. Not to mention the primary residence of these people. You know, that stat, the bottom of the 1% makes $400k…the top 400 earners in America make over $200 million per year…that is some spread.

We don’t have a caste system, but we most definitely have socioeconomic strata that separates the classes. The difference in America to say India or other third world countries was we had public education, well this is one difference, and evennthe poor could get a decent education. We had no royalty, so there was not a family that kept the wee people down. And, our motto was to take in the tired and poor longing to be free. To some extent we lived up to it, because we were a country of immigrants, and understood each other, as much as there was some trouble and fighting among the various groups, we were all empathetic and supported the idealism the country promised. There was no one supposedly purposely keeping someone down, all were given an equal chance. Of course it is not exactly equal for many reasons, but it was pretty damn good. At the time the country was created we were fairly unique in our wisdom of what we wanted for our people.

Most people are not saying they want everyone to make the same amount of money no matter what their job, most people frustrated with the rich getting richer and everyone else getting poorer are just saying the difference between the rich and poor is too wide. Too wide to keep a healthy economy and safe, educated society.

Republicans, some of them, seem to be saying they want to get rid of some of these things that made us great. Public education, and many of them around me could care less if an education is provided for the poor, and want the rich to get richer, because they believe somehow it will make them richer. It is not just that they have some sort of philosophical belief that the rich should get richer and that is how God and our country does best. They also believe it will make them themselves richer. It is a reuse. I don’t see how they believe it?

JLeslie's avatar

Oops, typo. Should be ruse not reuse.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Qingu – I don’t think that conservative Christians who follow the ten commandments are against giving to the poor. The difference between conservative Christians and liberal Christians (like myself) is that conservatives feel the giving is an individual choice, while liberals feel the giving is the responsibility of the community represented by elected officials. Liberals feel that poor people should have health insurance paid for by everyone who isn’t poor instead of having to rely on individual charity. It’s interesting that European conservatives share the values of the American liberals.

jerv's avatar

@mattbrowne I get in a lot of trouble for saying what you said in your last sentence. Many people refuse to acknowledge that even our Liberals are rather Conservative, while others cite that fact as proof that the US is superior to the kingdom of Heaven.

whiteliondreams's avatar

I’m disappointed that Christians have factions aside from their principal doctrine. Liberal Christian – Conservative Christian? Since when do you differentiate the teachings of your Anointed One? I’m quite certain that Biblical text is black and white and what isn’t is not intended for man to differentiate. Not that it entirely matters to me, but a true “Christian” is a loving Christian, not a “choosing” Christian. Best wishes. sigh

Qingu's avatar

@mattbrowne, my point was that conservative Christians have a completely ad-hoc way of interpreting which Biblical commands are “individual choices” and which ones should be enforced by the state.

whiteliondreams's avatar

Speaking of biblical texts, I’m about to open a question on the matter.

mattbrowne's avatar

@jerv – It’s very difficult to measure superiority. Let’s take income per capita as an example. The current value in the US is slightly higher than in Germany, but if you subtract the 0.1% super rich in both countries the average income per capita in Germany is higher. So 99.9% of the Germans on average are doing better. The super rich in the US are far more rich than the super rich in Germany. And what about the number of vacation days? Is having 28 or 30 per year superior or inferior?

mattbrowne's avatar

@whiteliondreams – Okay, so let’s look at an example. What does the biblical black and white text say about all people having health insurance? Yes or no? Most German Christians say yes. Many American Christians say no. How can this be? There is only one Bible. How do you explain this phenomenon?

mattbrowne's avatar

@Qingu – Point taken!

whiteliondreams's avatar

I meant I was going to open a completely new discussion, but changed my mind soon after.

jerv's avatar

@mattbrowne Considering that we allege to reward hard work yet give lesser rewards for more work… well, you do the math.

mattbrowne's avatar

Well, @whiteliondreams, you haven’t answered my question how the Bible would clearly answer the health insurance question. You rejected the notion of conservative and liberal Christians without backing up your view. You don’t have to open a new discussion. You can simply give an answer here. If you have one.

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