Social Question

stanleybmanly's avatar

Do you believe Americans understand the pathology of wealth or poverty in their country?

Asked by stanleybmanly (19837points) 1 month ago from iPhone

Why or why not?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

37 Answers

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Nope. Not even those who think they have a grasp on it. Not even those with college degrees in such things.

kritiper's avatar

They don’t want to. They have other things to think about.

JLeslie's avatar

What exactly do you mean by pathology of wealth or poverty? Do you mean the pursuit of more wealth when one is already wealthy? That the poor stay poor because of what they do to themselves?

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Is it that their are mostly rich and poor and few middle class?

stanleybmanly's avatar

@JLeslie Not exactly. In fact “poor because of what they do to themselves” illustrates what I’m talking about. There is an underlying attitude that if you’re poor in America it is because you choose to be poor. What if 80% of the people below the poverty line are children?

JLeslie's avatar

^^That’s what I mean, that people blame the poor for their situation. I’m not saying I believe that. Although, I do think in some cases it’s true, but mostly I think there is so much working against the poor they barely have a chance. The system is so unfair to the poor. It’s horrible.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@stanleybmanly Oh. In class we called it the “just world hypothesis”. That every thing good and bad is ones fault. That we have no fate or luck.

Cupcake's avatar

No. We still largely think poverty is due to a moral failing and lack of work ethic.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

I asked a question a while back ,asking is the system designed to keep the poor ,poor?
The poor have to pay higher interest rates because they are a greater risk to do business with.
and so on.
The wealthy do not, so in the end the system isn’t designed to keep the poor ,poor.
More so to keep the rich,rich.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Yes. That’s what I mean by pathology. Being poor is expensive.

stanleybmanly's avatar

And the pathology of the wealthy? Consider a life where you’ve never done the dishes or cleaned your bathroom or ridden the bus or subway.

flutherother's avatar

If Americans did understand it they would do something about it. America is a democracy after all. That the 400 richest Americans (probably including the Trump family) own a greater share of the national wealth than the bottom 150 million is a sobering thought and while the rich are getting richer day by day the poor are getting poorer.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t know if it’s designed to keep the poor poor, but that certainly is the result. As mentioned above interest rates are often higher for the poor, the poor have one unexpected problem happen, like an illness even for just 2 days, and they can’t pay all of their bills, and late fees and penalties can be outrageous and unjust and cause them to quickly get into a horrible hole of debt. The poor are in a constant state of being behind the 8 ball financially. I think a lot of people don’t understand how difficult this situation is.

Schools in poor neighborhoods tend to not be as good as schools in better neighborhoods, so the children are at a disadvantage. The parents often are less educated so the school is very important to help the kids with opportunities.

Poor people are connected with other poor people, and networking can be very important to getting higher paying jobs. The wealthy are connected.

Financial help from the government encourages not working as much as one might be willing too [ducking to not get smacked by some jellies]. If making a little more money means losing a lot of assistance, the person may choose to make less and stay on assistance. Remember I said they are willing to work, I’m not calling them lazy. I’m not sure how to fix this, I support helping the poor, but I can tell you even the rich who use the system do their best to not show earnings, etc. The only way I can see around it is to give assistance not based on earnings, like socialized medicine, and UBI of some sort, or housing, but that would be a more socialized system.

About the psychology of the rich, do did you mean the rich having this greed to get even richer?

SQUEEKY2's avatar

To answer your question,I don’t think the average American understands the pathology at all.
Especially the wealthy conservatives, they will answer with they climbed out by taking every university degree they could working six jobs and sleeping four minutes a night.
They fail to mention that their parents looked after all their other bills while that was going on.

The poor don’t have the options that the wealthy have to obtain more wealth, the wealthy don’t pay tax because they can afford every tax write off available to them.
The poorer classes do not, they simply have to pay the tax.
The system is definitely designed to keep the rich ,rich.
While the poorer classes pay all the countries bills.

JLeslie's avatar

@SQUEEKY2 Actually, some of those things you mentioned hurt the lower middle class maybe even more than the poor. The poor get some services for free.

Not mentioned on this Q is the stress the lower middle class deals with trying to keep what they do have. The poor don’t have much to lose, while the middle class can very quickly drop down a class or two with small changes in the economy or small changes in health. It’s psychologically scary and full of pressure. Constant worry about the future from what I have experienced.

I don’t understand your statement about working six jobs and going to school and parents paying. I don’t know anyone who had their parents pay for college who worked six jobs. Plenty did work summers or part time while attending school, but I never hear them trying to say they paid their own way, and were exhausted from work, and had the same stress as those students who truly paid their own way, or a big part of the way.

stanleybmanly's avatar

You are talking at the fringes of my meaning about the pathology of poverty. Those lower middle class people clearly sliding toward poverty resenting those who have already arrived. Think about that. Angry at people worse off than themselves because of crumbs. Many of those sliding are already there. They just don’t realize it. They think the free crumbs ACTUALLY represent the city limits of poorville. It is only because they don’t understand the pathology of poverty that they fail to appreciate that the safety net has been cut to the point that if you qualify for any crumbs these days you are beyond poor!

JLeslie's avatar

@stanleybmanly I don’t mean they are angry at the poor, I mean only that they too have a precarious position. Maybe I don’t understand what you are getting at in your last answer.

The very wealthy don’t really have any sort of precariousness. They are either super wealthy, or mega super wealthy. A person with $10million in the bank right now can easily earn over $200k a year just on a money market savings account that’s making 2% interest!

$10million isn’t anywhere close to the wealth of the top 400. The top 400 earn over $200million a year. The numbers are astronomical.

Zaku's avatar

Americans don’t just generally lack understanding of the pathology of wealthy in the country. They have been living with many layers of cultural ideas and shaming patterns which reinforce the whole complex, going back before the country broke away from the British Empire, for instance in the Puritan “work ethic”.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Some do. I have a pretty unique perspective. My parents both came out of extreme poverty, but rose above that to become solidly upper middle class. Dad was a manager at Boeing. I was not raised poor, by any means, but I did hear the stories growing up! Not about how poor they were, just about how they lived and made a living.
So I was raised with money. I married a Boeing man, who moved into management, and I had no reason to think my life would be any different. Then my divorce threw me into poverty. I think the only reason I survived it without winding up in a homeless shelter was (not literally) in my DNA.
Back around to the other side again. I’ll never have the “wealth” that I could have had, had I not made different decisions, but I’m OK with where I am.

But then again, I’m not the standard “pathology” of poverty. The OP is talking about children who are born to parents who rely on the system to live and they just perpetuate that when they grow up.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III So, are you saying the people born into poverty are creating their own problem? They themselves perpetuate it. They have a poor man’s mentality?

YARNLADY's avatar

All of the chronically poor people I know believe in working, but make very poor choices managing what little they have. They waste much of their limited resources.
Many are unable to work due to various health issues.

Many of the insanely rich are there because of the faulty design of our economy, and many inherited their wealth.

Dutchess_III's avatar

No @JLeslie. I’m saying that some don’t see it as a problem. It’s the only way of life they’ve ever known. As far as they are concerned that’s just the way it is.

I guess I’ve never known any “chronically poor” people @YARNLADY. The poor people I’ve known wer pretty frugal, and they were only temporarily poor.

Aster's avatar

Many do understand; many do not. I guess a lot depends on how busy they are or if they’re involved with world problems or problems of their own.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Put it this way @JLeslie. Poverty is relative. If trump was forced to live at your income level, he would feel impoverished. But YOU don’t t think you’re impoverished, do you. People living in leaky, snake infested huts with no drinkable water in a 3rd world country would find Section 8 housing luxurious.

Poor people really don’t have time to deal with world problems, @Aster. They’re just struggling to survive and to keep a roof over their kid’s heads. I love ya, but that comment just painted you as unaware of what it’s like.
The most involved I got in world problems was to have my kids pick an angel off of the plate glass window at the grocery store and help me find a Christmas present for them. The “angels” were low income kids who might not have any Christmas. I suppose it was something you had to apply for but I never would apply.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III I completely agree that it can be evaluated in an “everything is relative” way. Also, it can be evaluated by an official poverty line set forth by the government. I’m not sure what the OP really meant with the Q. He didn’t give the definition he was working off of, or a link for exactly what he was trying to convey.

What you and @YARNLADY wrote often times gets a lot of pushback on fluther. That people born into poverty just see it as a way of life, or that poor people make bad choices managing the little they have.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Like every other level it’s full of stereotypes. Jesus, the dirty looks I got when I used food stamps. I’d be dressed very professionally for teaching, but using food stamps. I HAD to be scamming the system.
I was substitute teaching 9 months out of the year.

MrGrimm888's avatar

When put on the spot, many Americans don’t understand very much of anything…

If you’re poor, you understand how hard it is to dig out of it. Every little thing puts you back. An illness, broken down vehicle, raise in rent, a parking ticket, etc. Any of these small incidents, can be the thing that completely breaks them.
Banks, title loans, and pawn shops take whatever is left. Them they have nothing, and no way to get anything. Most poor people are actually worse than at zero. They owe money to hospitals, banks, power/water companies etc. Making getting back on their feet practically impossible.
When you are poor, there is simply no margin for any random problem.
If you go to a local homeless shelter, you might be surprised to find that some people have full time jobs, or two jobs. But once you get down, it’s extremely hard to get up. If nobody can/will help you, you will likely sink further into poverty…

The more wealthy a person is, the easier it is to accumulate more wealth. That’s a fact… A ridiculous fact, but a fact…

Dutchess_III's avatar

Here is a spot on blog written by our own Auggie that speaks directly to @MrGrimm888‘s point. It Costs More to be Poor.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Also, the powers that be seem to gang together to take you even further down. The first time I applied for some help through welfare, in 1993, they told me I had to sell my 87 Aerostar van (which was paid off) because it was too new, worth too much, and to buy something older. I also had to sell my house. No one that owns a home worth all of $45,000 should qualify for any kind of welfare.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Speaking to Auggie’s blog, when I was newly poor my fridge went out. I couldn’t buy a new one. So for a month I used the small freezer as my fridge, buying a bag of ice every single day, for 30 days. Do the math. That’s another example of how it costs more to be poor.
I finally appealed to my church, and this one couple donated a fridge they had in their garage. It was hideously ugly, but I have never been so grateful in my life.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III I think in FL you have to have less than $3,500 in the bank to qualify for food stamps. I don’t know about whether you can own a house. When I first started looking into it I thought how terrible it is to have to get down to almost nothing, basically the system incentivizes people to not save, to stay poor. In NY the minimum is much higher.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The perception is that the poor are not to receive “aid” without punishment. The hurdles are erected to assure that any possibility of public assistance is as tedious, degrading and humiliating as possible. There is an implied pretense that every applicant is more likely than not engaged in the art of pretending to be poor in attempt to scam the taxpayers. Myths are circulated involving Cadillac driving welfare queens. Such legends are gobbled up and by none so eagerly as those on their way to the poor house themselves.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^Some people are dumb enough to think you can buy Cadillacs, with food stamps. You can’t fix stupid… But you can get stupid to vote…

Dutchess_III's avatar

I was always on the verge of going overdrawn in my bank account, @JLeslie. Their claim was I had too many assets of “value” that I had to offload. I needed to get the cash and support the family for another month or two. That made SO much sense. Sell a vehicle that was paid off, then buy a beater that wasn’t worth $1,000 and go into debt. Same with the house. No way could I find a rental for what I paid every month on my mortgage.

Then, when I moved here and was renting, I had been substitute teaching full time, 5 days a week for 2½ years. I did have a degree in education and I thought subbing was the best way to break in.
Well, one month they called me in for a random “interview” regarding my food stamps. One young, condescending guy told me I wouldn’t qualify unless I had a full time job.
I said, “I have a full time job.”
“No, you don’t. You need to have a job where you get to work at 8 and work until 5, every day.”
He refused to hear my arguments and he denied my food stamps over this, so I went to his supervisor and threw a fit, and they reinstated them.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

@JLeslie I was lumping everyone from middle-middle class down.

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