Smart people saying smart things

Gershom Gorenberg: “Republicans and the ‘Quality of Sodom'”

A couple of strangers show up in town. In the previous chapter they had arrived at the tent of Abraham, who hurried to put out the best meal he could provide. His wealth, he understood, was merely a trusteeship, something he’d been granted in order to share. In Sodom, the mob comes to get the strangers and the bleeding-heart liberal who tried to put a roof over their head. The threatened gang-rape is the means of aggression, not the point of it. Sodom is the original ungodly city, whose customs are the opposite of the justice that Abraham will teach his descendants.

Lest you think that Sodom was only stingy with outsiders, an ancient rabbinic tradition (preserved in Breshit Rabba) explains why the divine inquiry commission was sent to investigate the city in the first place: Sodom had a law against giving to the poor. This is meant as hyperbole; the point is that “what’s mine is mine” was public policy in Sodom.

Sodom, in short, was a polis run by the philosophy of Ayn Rand, where redistribution of wealth was regarded as immoral, where government had the responsibility to protect private property but not to insure the well-being of the people. Upstanding Sodomites would not have accepted a decision by the city elders requiring them to put coins in the kitty to pay healers who might treat people besides themselves. They would have argued that “I’m responsible for myself and I’m not responsible for other people… I should get the fruits of my labor and I shouldn’t have to divvy it up with other people.” The city elders would not have asked people to pay for more teachers to educate other people’s children, and certainly not to pay for food for those who couldn’t afford it. Not to put too fine a point on it, but in Sodom there would have been no problem passing the Ryan budget plan.

Jarvis DeBerry: “Photo of boy in public housing with an iPad prompts debate over what the poor should have”

I imagine that at some point or another all of us who aren’t poor have decided which items poor folks, especially those on government assistance, should be allowed to have. And which items they should be denied. Fancy rims have been known to set me off. Maybe for you it’s gold teeth, Air Jordans, the latest mobile phone. City Councilwoman Stacy Head used her taxpayer-funded phone to send an outraged email when she saw a woman using food stamps to buy Rice Krispies treats. What right do the poor have to sweetness?

I could try to defend myself and say that I think it’s ridiculous for anybody in any income bracket to buy rims, but that’s rather beside the point. I’m not my best self when I’m sitting in judgment and managing other people’s money, and I doubt you’re at your best when you do.

The idea that most people in public housing are living the lush life has persisted for at least as long as presidential candidate Ronald Reagan started using the offensive “welfare queen.” But you ought to take a walk through the Iberville if you think its residents are living like royalty. Walk through and see if you’d exchange their thrones for yours.

The sight of a kid in public housing with an iPad doesn’t offend me. Actually it gives me hope. So many poor people have no access to the digital world. They fall behind in school because of it. They miss the opportunity to apply for certain jobs. Yes an iPad is an expensive gadget, but we can’t deny its usefulness. As computers go, an iPad comes cheaper than most laptops and desktops.

It might help to think of poor people as being as fully human as everybody else and as no more or less flawed.

Melissa @ Permission to Live: “Why I used to be afraid of Universal Health Care”

I was afraid of Universal Health Care, because I knew nothing else but what I had been told by religious propaganda and conservative think tanks.  They repeatedly spread the idea that Universal Health Care took away all choice. I was told that people were assigned doctors, and were not free to choose a different doctor. I was told that older people were denied health care and left to die because they were not a priority to the national interest. I was also told that abortion was pushed heavily on any woman who had an unwanted pregnancy or women who were pregnant with a child with disabilities. I was told that people with disabilities would be eliminated by government encouraged abortions or possibly even killed at birth (they wouldn’t want those people on the federal dole since they would “waste money” and “drain the system.”) Universal Health Care was often tied in my mind to places like China with their one child policy, places where the choice to have a large family would not be tolerated.

When I moved to Canada at the age of 23, and was forced to experience Universal Health Care and found that it was actually a good thing for pretty much every person I came in contact with, I began to question what else I had been told could be misinformation. Even the very conservative people I came in contact with in Canada were happy with their Universal Health Care. In Canada large secluded religious sects had all their health care needs met by the government and had no problem with that. ***The stuff I had been fed was purely propaganda.*** There was no cap on how many children you could have, no older people left to die, no forced abortions or elimination of special needs people. Even when Canadians complained about wait times and talked of maybe running to the states to get a service faster, after finding out that it would cost them tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket, most chose to wait instead. … The system wasn’t perfect, but it was a decided improvement on what I had observed and experienced in the USA.

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  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    I’m always fascinated when people claim surprise or indignation at seeing someone who doesn’t have a home, but does have a cell phone or an iPad or whatever. Has such a person ever attempted to *price* housing and also a cell phone? An iPad is much, much cheaper than a place to live. And of course it’s not like an iPad is necessarily a great extravagance. A few seconds on eBay shows a lot of iPad 1s for sale hovering around $200, and it is not especially difficult to legally get an iPad without paying, as people who can afford to buy iPad 1s for $500 can usually afford to buy iPad 2s for $500 and so there are a certain number of hand-me-down iPads in the world. (Personally I have an iPad– I won it in a contest.)

    But of course this isn’t even the point, right? The point isn’t that the iPad is *expensive*, or a poor use of limited financial resources. The point is that an iPad is *nice*. The point here isn’t that a person in public housing can’t afford an iPad, the point is that a person in public housing doesn’t *deserve* an iPad, because an iPad is a thing that someone is typically happy to own. A negative reaction to a poor kid with an iPad is founded in the belief that poor people should suffer.

    Okay, goes the reasoning: We’ll let them have their public housing. But only so long as no one who lives there is HAPPY. They should be aware at all times of what a loathsome, shameful thing they’re doing, accepting my tax money.

  • Vermic

    A negative reaction to a poor kid with an iPad is founded in the belief that poor people should suffer.

    You see, poor people need to suffer in order to motivate them to bootstrap themselves out of poverty.  Every poor person enjoying the benefits of an iPad, cell phone, or nice-tasting food is a poor person briefly satisfied with their existence.   That’s a nine- or ten-second window during which they’re not working on selling pencils, founding a railroad, building a pyramid, or whatever poor people are supposed to be doing with their spare time.  And that leads to the worst sin of all: inefficiency.

  • PJ Evans

    The point is that an iPad is *nice*.

    It’s the same with small satellite dishes on public housing. ‘They’re not supposed to have that stuff’ seems to be the reaction of some people. I look at the dishes, wonder how many of them are actually being used – you can’t tell by looking – and remember that that particular housing has no cable TV. which most people don’t seem to be aware of, although it’s not a secret.

  • Omnicrom

    That’s the most frustrating thing about the Health Care and its debates. It’s also the main reason that I actually follow Fred. It’s because Health Care HELPS PEOPLE. Thousand and Thousands and THOUSANDS of people. It lets SO many people live better lives. That’s what gets lost whenever people bitch and moan and complain about it, it saves lives. I’m glad Fred Clark remains on target with Health Care, and I will never stop being unhappy at the people who have made Health Care political theater with the steady stream of complete and utter bullshit about “Death Panels” and whatever other complete crap you hear about it.

    In an ugly way it may tie into the I-Pad story. How sick do you have to be to entertain the notion that maybe the Poor aren’t worthy of living? Because that particular frustrating illness has reached pandemic levels across America.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    I was told that people were assigned doctors, and were not free to choose a different doctor.

    Have these people never dealt with an HMO?

  • Magic_Cracker

    Have these people never dealt with an HMO?

    Oh, but that there’s a private death panel. It’s just the Market allocating resources where they’re supposed to be. Axiomatically, any death dealt by the Invisible Hand is a moral death. Saving lives through government intervention is a Stalinism. /aynursa

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

     Oh, but that’s different! They’re doing it for profit! Profit makes it OK! That’s why the Tea Party rails against both imaginary “Death Panels” and the removal of care being denied for “pre-existing conditions” and lifetime caps on treatment.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Sure, but a lot of people are fortunate enough to not have to worry about pre-existing conditions (and of course then don’t care that other people do).

    But every person with an HMO has had to deal with “is my old doctor on the plan? Which hospital can I go to? If I go to a different one how much will it cost?” – and then they turn around and think “oh no, universal health care means I can’t choose!”

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    Not just HMOs necessarily. Switching from one PPO to another often means the domains of what is “in network” changes, esp. for mental health coverage. One set of doctors goes away, another set appears.

    I have a very specific medical issue. In my area, the best treatment for this area is available through the Kaiser HMOs. At my previous employer Kaiser was available, but not at my current one– my current employer offers a PPO plan which is actually excellent, however, excellent as the coverage is it can’t buy me access to the one set of specialists I’m most interested in seeing, because only Kaiser customers can see them.

    Really no one in the employer-provided health insurance system has choice– you can take whatever set of options your employer provides, and if those don’t fit your needs? You have no recourse but to quit your job, obviously not something people can do on a whim. Really Obamacare can be expected to introduce choice into a system that wasn’t there before– if you’re on the exchanges, you get to pick anything on the exchange and not just which plans your employer signed up for. That’s why Senator Wyden was making such a big deal about those “Free Choice Vouchers” that would have allowed people with large-group coverage to break out and buy directly from the exchange.

  • Carolyn

     But, in most systems I know about (and certainly in the Canadian systems), essentially all doctors are on the same plan. I’ve had americans ask me if I can pick a doctor – I can.

    I picked my GP because he was down the road from my old place. If I disliked him, I’d have changed. Most other doctors I’ve seen are ones my trusted GP recommends. I can change anytime I want. Where there’s absence of choice, it’s due to a shortage of doctors in an area or specialty, or the one you want being “full” for the moment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Alexander/502988241 Alan Alexander

    I will hate Sarah Palin until I die for spreading the “death panel” meme all over this country. For convincing millions of elderly, uneducated senior citizens that a scary black man wanted to kill them. I utterly hate her for that.

  • Guest

    The best argument I ever heard in favor of welfare and similar programs came from my father. When my aunt complained that it wasn’t fair that people who “don’t work get to live so well” off her taxes, my father said, “It’s completely fair. If you think that’s a better life, you can get rid of everything you own and go on welfare too.”

    (Years later she divorced her breadwinner husband and did, in fact, apply for and receive public assistance.)

  • cjmr

    You will find poor kids with iPads in my town.   Even in our public housing project.

    Why?  Because our school committee decided that it was so important that all middle school and high schools students have equal access to educational technology that they provided iPads to every such student. 

    Why do some people have such a problem with the poor acquiring bootstraps that they can use to pull themselves up with?

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

     Why do some people have such a problem with the poor acquiring bootstraps that they can use to pull themselves up with?

    I’m guessing it’s because all their “bootstraps” bullshit is merely a cover for their hatred of the poor.

  • Madhabmatics

    That Sodom article owns bones.

  • Chunky Style

    I deal with a lot of poor folks, and I have to admit, I see a lot of poor financial choices.  But I’m not going to chalk that up to laziness or an overly-generous welfare system; I place the blame on:

    – Not having grown up in a home where budgeting and spending carefully were the way of things.  I was lucky enough to have parents who scrupulously tracked every cent and never bounced a check or missed a utility payment; it was a valuable, formative example.

    – The expectation that things go to shit, so don’t be surprised when it happens, and be prepared to run for it.  That applies to cars that break down, appliances that fail, and the odd eviction notice.  This is highly related to what I was describing above: if your experience and expectation is that planning won’t do any good, you won’t plan, instead you get practice at dealing with catastrophes.  But Monster High dolls are on sale, might as well pick up a couple.

    – The odd physical, psychological, or emotional difficulty.  Not everyone who is poor suffers from any of the above, but if you were born poor or on the margins, it doesn’t take much to keep you there.  And if Scrooge McDuck-like thrift isn’t going to get you out of it, that’s all the more reason to live in the now.

    – The American norm that you “should” have this or that.  It’s insidious, especially with kids.  Last year I was persuaded to buy three of the kids in one family Nintendo DS’s (or whatever they’re called, I haven’t played a videogame since Yar’s Revenge); now one of them has said that, this year, he expects they’re all going to get laptops.  Dream on, kid.  (I might get a good desktop computer for the family, but not laptops for the three oldest kids.)

    – Not being completely clear on how important it is to make sure your kids do better.  This is how it turns into a loop and ensnares the next generation.

    As I sometimes fume after hearing about the latest baffling poor financial choice: “It’s enough to turn you into a Republican some days!”  Of course I don’t really mean it; I’m not a monster.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     – The expectation that things go to shit, so don’t be surprised when it
    happens, and be prepared to run for it.  That applies to cars that break
    down, appliances that fail, and the odd eviction notice.  This is
    highly related to what I was describing above: if your experience and
    expectation is that planning won’t do any good, you won’t plan, instead
    you get practice at dealing with catastrophes.  But Monster High dolls
    are on sale, might as well pick up a couple.

    This is a big problem, at least in my observation.  There seems to be a death spiral of bad decision making that feeds on itself.  If you unknowingly make a bad decision, then something else happens and everything goes to shit the tendency, I think, is to learn the wrong lesson.  That lesson might be, “The universe hates me,” or, “Nothing I can do will make this better,” or some other thing.  What it’s not likely to be is, “I need to fix this an better prepare for it in the future.”

    That’s not because the person in question is an idiot.  It’s because they are, basically, uneducated in what to do with money.  If you don’t know how to invest or create a rainy day fund, then you’ll probably piss away any windfall money you come across.  That, in turn, means that if your car breaks down a week after you buy that new flatscreen, you’ve got a new TV and a busted-ass car.

    Of course, there are people who are truly screwed and don’t even get that one big windfall to piss away, but I think that the scenario that causes the moralists to tut-tut about people in public houses with flatscreens and iPads and rims is the one where it’s someone who doesn’t know any better and keeps making the wrong decisions.  So when that person makes the wrong decision time and again they keep learning the wrong lesson.

    I had a friend who did exactly that.  He got a big settlement from a car accident and used the money to pay off all his debts and pay cash for a new car that would last him at least a decade.  Then I put him in touch with a guy to help him with investment and financial planning.  Shortly thereafter the economy cratered.  I kept telling him to get a job to pay his bills and stick it out and things would come back if he’d just be patient.  His response was to tell me about the various times members of his family had lost his shirt and then conclude that the universe just didn’t want anyone in his family to be successful.  Then he slowly emptied out his accounts, had a couple of unfortunate things happen, and ended up nearly destitute.

    I know that part of the problem was that he’d never gotten a good example.  His parents were having financial trouble when I met him and they just kind of sat around passively and waited for everything to fall apart.  The lesson he learned was, “There’s nothing you can do about this.”  The thing he internalized is, “Anything you do to try to break this cycle will fail and leave you worse off than you were.”

    Fortunately he’s doing better now and might finally have learned the right lessons.  But a lot of people don’t get that Nth chance.

  • Chunky Style

    I have yet to figure out what you can do to teach the other person a lick of financial responsibility.  If you’ve got any suggestions, I’d dearly love to hear what works.  Google will recommend things like “help them prepare a monthly budget”, but that’s a non-starter because it feels like a pointless exercise unless you already see the need to plan.

  • Daughter

     There are many organizations across the U.S. that are devoted to just that — helping low and moderate income people strengthen their financial responsibility skills while also building assets. I’ve just started working for an organization with such a program.

    Here are a couple of the larger organizations doing this work in the U.S.  —

    Operation Hope, based in Los Angeles: http://www.operationhope.org/

    Credit Builders Alliance, based in DC: http://www.creditbuildersalliance.org/

  • Chunky Style

    Awesome, I’m checking ’em out.  Thanks!

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    John Cheese at Cracked.com wrote about this kind of destructive cycle: http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-5-stupidest-habits-you-develop-growing-up-poor/

  • Chunky Style

    I see a lot of what John Cheese is talking about in the poor folks in my orbit.  But John Cheese’s #5, about making thrifty grocery choices, doesn’t ring true at all.  There are four main poor families I help, a total of six adults and eight children:

    Family #1: sure they buy cheap food, but they also don’t bother to refrigerate leftovers; they just let the leftovers sit on the counter overnight and then it gets thrown out in the morning.

    Family #2: absolutely, categorically refuses to look for good deals on groceries.  I’ve offered to take them to the wholesale club so they can get price breaks, and I’ve even offered to split packages with them so they still pay $5.50 for Kraft slices but get twice as many as at the corner store (for example).  Or they buy Lunchables for the kid instead of buying some god damn lunch meat and Ritz crackers.  Lunchables really really piss me off.

    Family #3: microwaveable meals from the gas station.

    Family #4: the mom is diabetic and has had chunks of both feet amputated; despite this, a huge portion of her food stamp money goes to candy at WalMart.  She doesn’t share.

    Now, I’m not a paragon of anything in particular, but come on already: I could live like a prince on what they get with SNAP.  Ugh, I just sounded like a Teabagger, I don’t mean it that way.  What I mean is, if they’d just make one or two non-stupid purchases, they might actually succeed in stretching their food dollar; I know I could.  But they’ll never listen to me.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to eat some leftover lentil chili.  Cost me $1.50 to make last night and I didn’t even eat half.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Family #2: absolutely, categorically refuses to look for good deals on
    groceries.  I’ve offered to take them to the wholesale club so they can
    get price breaks, and I’ve even offered to split packages with them so
    they still pay $5.50 for Kraft slices but get twice as many as at the
    corner store (for example).  Or they buy Lunchables for the kid instead
    of buying some god damn lunch meat and Ritz crackers.  Lunchables really
    really piss me off.

    Some people don’t know how to make the connection between the fact that even if they apparently pay more for something, the price per unit of that item can often be less so it ends up lasting longer and saving money in the long run.

    Part of this can be traced to the lack of reinforcement of effective math skills in some parts of the education system.

  • banancat

     

    Some people don’t know how to make the connection between the fact that even if they apparently pay more for something, the price per unit of that item can often be less so it ends up lasting longer and saving money in the long run.

    And plenty of people can make the connection but simply can’t afford to pay more upfront.  This is why I get so mad when people spout condescending tips like “buy in bulk to save money!”  If you don’t have the money upfront, you can’t buy in bulk even if it would save money in the long term.  A lot of people can’t afford to think long-term because they are just barely scraping by to make it to the next paycheck.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I’m talking about the difference between a $2.99 four-pack of TP and a $3.99 eight-pack. Literally.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    This is why I get so mad when people spout condescending tips like “buy in bulk to save money!”  If you don’t have the money upfront, you can’t buy in bulk even if it would save money in the long term.

    Or the storage space. Or, even if you do have the space, you’re still not going to finish it before it goes bad.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     

    Or the storage space. Or, even if you do have the space, you’re still not going to finish it before it goes bad.

    Or the ability to transport it home. Going from a $2.99 4-pack of toilet paper to a $3.99 8-pack of toilet paper may put you over what you can carry on the bus, or walk home with due to the added bulk.

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

     Or maybe it just flat out puts you over budget. It’s easy to say “It’s only a dollar” when you end the month with money still in the bank, not so much when every penny counts.

  • AnonymousSam

    *Raises hand* Bank of America once slapped me with $200 worth of fines because I’d gone six cents into the red. Pennies counted.

  • Kiba

    The apartment complex I was living in prior to this one gave me an eviction notice because I was 25 cents short on my rent (and another time because I was one cent short). They wouldn’t roll it over to my next month’s rent (for some reason this was impossible) and made me spend a dollar or so to get a money order for a quarter and then again for the penny. 

  • Isabel C.

    Oh, man, apartment managers. Don’t even get me started. 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    An eviction notice over 25 freakin’ cents? Jesus.

    If that doesn’t define the epitome of “cheap skinflint waste of humanity”, I don’t know what does.

  • AnonymousSam

    Ugh, been there too. I’ve paid my share of bills where the payment method cost more than the bill itself.

  • Rowen

     hrm. I’m not sure where you live, but here in New York, you have to have not paid for a certain amount of time before they can even bother to think about giving you an eviction notice. I don’t know how it works in other states, but that’s also a thing that someone working under the poverty line might not have access to.

    And honestly, I only know this because a few years ago, I was LEGALLY subletting an apartment from someone who had income based housing who was charging more then her housing contract allowed, and at one point she told me I had to do what she said because she could evict me. So, I did some research and called her bluff, because to evict me, she would have to go through a six month legal process where my rent would be held in escrow while she proved I was violating the contract AND this was while I had evidence that she was violating hers.  So, um, yeah. knowledge. . . if you can have it*, it’s a wonderful thing.

    *if you can have it being the operative statement here.

  • Kiba

    I live in Texas and they can, and do, give out eviction notices for late payment (usually after 3 days from the rent due date). You have a certain time frame (I forget what it is) in which you can make the payment and avoid the eviction but if you miss that window they can evict you even if you have paid your rent; at least that’s my understanding after listening to the apartment manager talking to a resident on this subject.** 

    Also, those two times I mentioned, they didn’t even contact me to let me know that I was short the 25 cents on my rent. They just waited until the 3 day grace period was up and gave me the eviction notice. 

    Start to finish the eviction process in Texas is two weeks.

    **And after looking over my current rental agreement they don’t even have to accept my rent payment even if I’m not late. 

  • Rowen

     at least that’s my understanding after listening to the apartment manager talking to a resident on this subject.**

    I’m willing to bet that the law says something a little different.

    Hrm. doing some research. . . .

    This webpage puts it in the most reader friendly. Basically, if you’re “late,” and the lease doesn’t give any other provisions, Texas state law gives you 3 days before the landlord can start to FILE an eviction, which begins with the landlord giving proper notice and then moving onto other avenues that may or may not end up in court. The basic thing is that the landlord can’t just come in and say “YOU WERE 50CENTS LATE LAST MONTH. GET OUT NOW!!” And in your case, if it had gone to court, AND the landlord had accepted the next month’s rent (and any after that), he or she would have something of a mess on their hands.

    http://www.freeadvice.com/law-questions/my-lease-says-my-rent-is–46965.htm

    Most of the time, when stuff like that happens, the landlord is relying on the tenant’s lack of knowledge of the law and the scariness of the word “Eviction” to get what he or she wants. Again, a reason for a well educated population/giving poor people access to things like iPads and decent educations so they can find out stuff like this so they won’t be intimidated by a slum lord.

  • AnonymousSam

    And/or the ability to throw the tenant out by force, because once you’re homeless, you can have a pretty damned hard time putting together a lawsuit while simultaneously scrambling for a place to live and hoping that when they threw all your stuff out on the front lawn that no one stole anything. That’s happened to people I know.

  • Rowen

     Yeah, I mean, the landlord can’t just go “YOUR 50CENTS AND THREE DAYS LATE. I’M CHANGING THE LOCKS AND SELLING YOUR STUFF!!”

    But, if you happen to be a minority, or poor, or both, or some other combination, you might not be able to scrap together the funds/place to stay while you deal with that. Though, if he HAS changed the locks immediately after serving you with an eviction notice, I would imagine you could get the police involved and be entitled to damages, but that’s going beyond my area of knowledge.

    The biggest thing I’m getting out of this is that if you’re poor, often times you don’t have access to even the knowledge that would help you out in this situation and are thus left to the wims of the landlord who pretty much expects that you’re not going to be able to do anything EVEN if you know what you can and cannot do. Another reason why cutting funds to education just helps keep those gosh darn poor people in their place. [sarcasm, btw]

  • AnonymousSam

    Even then, it’s one of those things that you generally wouldn’t expect you’d ever have to deal with, and if it happens suddenly enough, there’s precious little you can do about it while you scramble to figure out what you’re going to do. My SO paid rent every month and was fully up to date, had a brief argument with the landlady, thought nothing of it — until a visit to the family ended on coming home to find the locks changed, belongings on the front lawn, and a note on the door stating that the landlady had invoked her right to throw out tenants for disorderly conduct.

  • Rowen

     Also, yeah, it’s about 2-3 weeks, but in a situation like yours, especially if you had paid the next month’s rent in full, the landlord is going to have to weigh legal fees, and how long it’s going to take him to find a new tenant and a if he’ll even win. Frankly, bullshit like that sounds like an intimidation factor, which, unfortunately, works WAY too often.
    http://www.rentlaw.com/eviction/texaseviction.htm

  • Isabel C.

    You are really rocking the legal resources here, and it’s impressive as hell. Just thought I’d note that.  I may bug you if I ever find myself in a situation like this. 

  • Rowen

     I’m not a lawyer, and my knowledge of the law is minimal. Plus, I live in NYC, where the law acts in favor of the tenant, not the landlord. However, when that landlady a few years ago threatened me with eviction, I got really scared for a few weeks, and felt like I was powerless to do anything except to accede to her illegal demands. Well, I was lucky enough to have a friend who was a lawyer who basically said “She’s wrong, and this shit will never fly in court. Here’s what to do . . .” and since then, bullying landlords make me see red.

    (for example, I’m currently in a quasi-legal living situation while another apartment comes along. Well, the landlady here got a hold of this, and has been blackmailing my roommates ever since, even though we gave her the option of me just moving out, in addition to having work done outside of the legal hours and other illegal thing. I understand that my roommates don’t want to say anything, but I think when I/they move out, I’m going to be dropping a few hints to the IRS about unpaid taxes and the NY Dept of Housing . . .)

  • Isabel C.

    Ooof, yeah. Good luck with that, and also I hear you re: landlords. What the actual hell?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Ugh! Thank god I live in a different place where the residential tenancy laws are less asininely biased against the tenant. :

  • PJ Evans

     Thus the line about buses.
    You really don’t want to have to take a bus to do grocery shopping. Or laundry.

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    Or carry on your bike, if you’re like me back in grad school.

  • banancat

     

    Ugh, I just sounded like a Teabagger, I don’t mean it that way.

    Intent isn’t magic.  You literally called these people stupid.  How are you helping these people anyway?  Another downside of being poor is that they have to put up with your condescending crap.  Jeez, have a little empathy.

    Family #3: microwaveable meals from the gas station.

    Ok, I don’t know this family but you are implying that their time is worth nothing.  Maybe the parent(s) work long hours or work odd jobs or have a very long commute because they have to rely on public transit.  Maybe they have illnesses that make them too tired to cook.  Maybe they are just busy because they have kids an a life.  Maybe they don’t have the knowledge to cook.  Maybe they don’t have the equipment or a big enough kitchen.  Maybe they just a freaking long day and want to spend half an hour sitting down during the evening instead of standing up and cooking.

    Family #4: the mom is diabetic and has had chunks of both feet
    amputated; despite this, a huge portion of her food stamp money goes to
    candy at WalMart.  She doesn’t share.

    Ok, there is so much wrong with this.  First of all, diabetes isn’t punishment for eating candy or eating the “wrong” things.  Do you even know if this woman has type 2 diabetes?  Do you know that it’s related to her dietary habits?  I am so sick of this narrative that diseases are punishment for sinning and that you have no one to blame but yourself if you get something.  I doubt you are qualified to make this assumption about this woman.  And again, all my points from my previous paragraph about convenience apply in this situation too.  Maybe candy is the only enjoyment she gets in her life.  Or maybe she has an undiagnosed eating disorder.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to eat some leftover lentil chili.
     Cost me $1.50 to make last night and I didn’t even eat half.

    Oh wow, let me give you a medal AND a pat on the back!  I’d give you a cookie too but then you’d accuse me of wasting money and you’d probably get diabetes.  Now if only all these other people had the privileges you have (time, cooking equipment, knowledge, energy) then they could be perfect just like you!  But instead they’re just too stupid to be perfect so you have to give them your condescending charity.

  • Chunky Style

    Hi banancat!  I would bet anything that I’ve got more experience than you do dealing with actual for real poor people; I am going off actual experiences with people, whereas you reek of unfounded opinions.  Let’s go through this:

    “You literally called these people stupid.”

    No, I said they are making very bad food choices.  There’s a big difference.

    “How are you helping these people anyway? Another downside of being poor is that they have to put up with your condescending crap. Jeez, have a little empathy.”

    Wow, you’ve totally got me checkmated here: if I don’t help them “enough” by your standards then I am a condescending prick, but if I help them “too much” by your standards they’re having to put up with my condescending crap.

    Meanwhile, you are championing the decisions of, among other people, a woman who eats a ton of candy despite having been warned by the doctor that it will kill her, and has already had chunks of her body removed.

    “Family #3: microwaveable meals from the gas station.””Ok, I don’t know this family”

    Smartest thing you’ve said yet.

    “but you are implying that their time is worth nothing. Maybe”

    Remember, you don’t know the family, so quit with the maybes.  You’ve come up with a dazzling array of reasons why microwaveable meals from the gas station might be a good option for someone, but they don’t apply here.  There is a nearby grocery store with better prices on the microwaveable meals, to say nothing of cheaper alternatives.

    “Family #4: the mom is diabetic and has had chunks of both feet amputated; despite this, a huge portion of her food stamp money goes to candy at WalMart. She doesn’t share.””Ok, there is so much wrong with this. First of all, diabetes isn’t punishment for eating candy or eating the “wrong” things. Do you even know if this woman has type 2 diabetes? Do you know that it’s related to her dietary habits?”

    Yes and yes.  You are going to positively asinine lengths to defend people you haven’t met, but I have.

    “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to eat some leftover lentil chili.  Cost me $1.50 to make last night and I didn’t even eat half.””Oh wow, let me give you a medal AND a pat on the back!”

    Why would I want that?   You’re kind of an idiot.

  • The Guest That Posts

     banancat,

    THIS to everything you said. Everything.

  • cjmr

    A Lunchable can be tossed directly into the kid’s backpack, and s/he doesn’t have to remember to haul home the dishes.  Plus–it makes him/her feel more like the other kids.  IMO, sometimes children’s self-esteem is worth the parents making sacrifices with their *own* food choices instead of their children’s.

  • Chunky Style

    Okay, let me clarify.  Lunch AT HOME.

    Even then, I’m not sure how a properly packed lunch — with a peanut butter sandwich or a turkey sandwich or whatever — would somehow make a kid a pariah.  I honestly didn’t expect that people would be tripping over themselves to come up with excuses why bad food choices are actually good ones.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You really have forgotten what it was like in school, haven’t you?

    Think about all the backstabby office politics you may have ever had to deal with somewhere.

    Then multiply that by the fact that kids lack the emotional and social maturity to know when to shut their fucking faces sometimes, and you get…

    Kids being the most nasty little hellion assholes to someone who sticks out like the nail that isn’t hammered down.

    So yeah, a kid that brings something that looks crappy or trashy to others who’ve never known anything less, and it becomes a very short trip from “hey, that’s different” to cruel teasing because “hey, that’s different and it isn’t like what we have, so clearly this person who has it isn’t like the rest of us.”

  • Chunky Style

    I said “a PROPERLY packed lunch”.  I hoped that would dissuade people from assuming I meant a paper bag that’s been re-used seven times and has a tire track on it, but nope, you went right there anyway.

    And no, I haven’t forgetten what it’s like being a kid.  But you’re saying things have gotten so ridiculous in the elementary school lunch room that a properly-made sandwich — by which I mean made with bread and other foodstuffs, and not two sheets of cardboard covered with lard — is grounds for ostracism.  I’m calling bullshit.

  • Kiba

    When I was in grade school I got teased for brown bagging my lunch (sandwich, drink, maybe a cookie or something) instead of buying whatever crap the cafeteria was selling that day. 

    And, yeah, mine was a “properly packed” lunch.

  • Rowen

     On the flip side of that, anyone in MY grade school who BOUGHT their lunch was teased about the questionable quality of food that the cafeteria sold. . .

    So, it’s not a universal thing.

    On the subject of Lunchables, that thing is packed with a whole lot of sodium and not a lot of anything else. If I ever have kids, they’re not eating that. But I also get that it’s easy. But I also like real cheese.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I honestly didn’t expect that people would be tripping over themselves to come up with excuses why bad food choices are actually good ones.
     
    I haven’t seen you present any evidence that any of these people are making bad food choices. Seen plenty of evidence that these aren’t the food choices you’d make in their situation, and I’m willing to take on faith that your choices would give them more money and better health than their choices, but that’s not the same thing as ‘they’re making bad food choices’.

  • Chunky Style

    “I haven’t seen you present any evidence that any of these people are making bad food choices. Seen plenty of evidence that these aren’t the food choices you’d make in their situation, and I’m willing to take on faith that your choices would give them more money and better health than their choices, but that’s not the same thing as ‘they’re making bad food choices’.”

    Really?  When the doctor tells you to stop consuming processed sugar because it is killing you, and you still blow a big chunk of your money on candy, that’s not a bad food choice?  When you run out of SNAP funds by the end of the month because you’ve wasted a lot of it on tiny pre-packaged meals where probably two-thirds of the price goes to packaging and presentation, that’s not a bad food choice?  When you let probably a quarter or more of your food go to waste simply because you couldn’t be bothered to refrigerate the leftovers, that’s not a bad choice?

    You know, I’ve taken some heat for being condescending and high-minded about how to spend wisely, but at least I’m making like poor folks are fully-functioning human beings who are capable of making choices and even making improvements in their lives.  You, and a bunch of other people, are acting like they are passive, utterly helpless participants in their own lives.  I will admit that they have a limited range of choices, but within that range, there are still much better choices to be made.

  • EllieMurasaki

    You know, I’ve taken some heat for being condescending and high-minded
    about how to spend wisely, but at least I’m making like poor folks are
    fully-functioning human beings who are capable of making choices and
    even making improvements in their lives.  You, and a bunch of other
    people, are acting like they are passive, utterly helpless participants
    in their own lives.  I will admit that they have a limited range of
    choices, but within that range, there are still much better choices to
    be made.

    No, you moron, I am saying that maybe the only pleasure that diabetic woman gets from life is from eating sweets, and if so then sweets are not a bad food choice for her even if they will kill her, and I do not have the right to take that away from her.

  • Chunky Style

    You don’t know this woman.  I do.

    Either way, you are assuming she is essentially a child who is unable to take any kind of charge of her life.  I find her choices frustrating because I believe she could do better.  You are doing her a far greater disservice than I am.

  • Isabel C.

    Oh my God. 

    THEY AREN’T YOUR CHOICES. THEY AREN’T YOUR BUSINESS.

    It doesn’t matter if you “believe she could do better” or not, because IT IS HER LIFE, NOT YOURS. Your frustration is totally fucking irrelevant to the entire situation. 

    Newsflash: people will always make choices you find frustrating. Instead of clutching your pearls all “But it will kill her eventually!” or “But he’s totally cheating on him!” or whatever, try this: take a breath, have a beer, be prepared to give neutrally-phrased advice *if asked*.

    Then butt the fuck out, because: NOT YOUR BUSINESS.

    God, talk about stupid. Did you miss the bit in grade school where you’re supposed to keep your eyes on your own paper?

  • EllieMurasaki

    you are assuming she is essentially a child who is unable to take any
    kind of charge of her life.  I find her choices frustrating because I
    believe she could do better.  You are doing her a far greater disservice
    than I am.

    NO, dipshit, I am assuming that her eating sweets IS her taking charge of her life in a way that pleases HER. Not a way that pleases YOU, but as it is HER life and NOT YOURS, it is NOT YOUR CONCERN unless she chooses to make it your concern, and I have seen no reason to think she has.

  • Isabel C.

    Yes, and thank you.

    God, there’s nothing like these guys to bring out my otherwise-well-squashed inner libertarian. 

  • Chunky Style

    “NO, dipshit, I am assuming that her eating sweets IS her taking charge of her life in a way that pleases HER. Not a way that pleases YOU, but as it is HER life and NOT YOURS, it is NOT YOUR CONCERN unless she chooses to make it your concern, and I have seen no reason to think she has.”

    Hey dipshit, when have I said that I have any authority over her?  Oh that’s right, I never have.  But I reserve the right to think she is making bad choices, especially when she runs out of grocery money at the end of the month.  Just as I reserve the right to know you are an idiot, because you keep opening your mouth and saying idiotic things.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Even if you did have authority over her, you would not be in a position to smirkingly tell her she’s being stupid about her money and her food, the way you’ve been smirkingly telling us she’s being stupid about her money and her food. If she asks your opinion on her choices with respect to money and food, then you can tell her you think she’s being stupid about both, but not fucking well until, and politely, and respectful of her right to make choices that you think are stupid even after being informed of why you think they’re stupid choices. ‘Cause there’s only one of us here who’s not being respectful of her right to choose her own life, and strangely enough that person looks like you. Smirk and all.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     Wow, it’s amazing how fast this thread turned into More Non-Judgemental Than Thou liberal one-up-person-ship.  :-P

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I don’t think anyone here believes poor people are magically immune from sometimes making sub-optimal buying decisions (It would have to be be magical, as I’ve never met anyone of any income level, poor OR rich who didn’t sometimes make sub-optimal buying decisions). What we object to is you declaring yourself the oracle of what constitutes a bad purchasing decision for all poor people.

  • Chunky Style

    When you run out of grocery money before the end of the month, guess what?  At that point it is a real, factual problem and not a matter of opinion, and certainly not an abstract matter of “sub-optimal buying decisions” as you euphemize.

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    Chunky, you have posted a few dozen posts now expressing your frustration that people  with whom you are connected make self-defeating choices regarding food and refuse to take your advice about how to do better.

    People here offer you feedback about how you come across, feedback that if you took seriously rather than arguing with, might just help you to connect better with the people you want to help. But you don’t value that feedback; you think the people who give it to you just don’t get it.

    To someone like me, standing off to the side, the similarity between you and the people in your life making what you consider bad food choices is overwhelming.

    To you? I suspect you’re going to continue munching on your metaphorical candy as you lose more and more standing with people you want to help.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    I’m willing to take on faith that your choices would give them more
    money and better health than their choices, but that’s not the same
    thing as ‘they’re making bad food choices’.

    So, now I’m curious: if food choices that lead to worse health and less money for poor families aren’t bad food choices,  what would you consider a bad food choice?

  • cjmr

    I was a poor kid.  I wore weird clothes–5-8 year old fashions handed down from older second cousins–and was teased for it.  I had a crappy hand-me-down bicycle that my dad got out of someone else’s trash–and was teased for it.  I wasn’t allowed to watch TV, go to movies, or hang out at the park or the mall–and was teased for it.  I would have LOVED to have been able to have had the same kind of thing to eat for lunch as my peers instead of the cold leftovers in a thermos, that YES, I was teased for.

  • Chunky Style

    I was a poor kid too — wore old hand-me-downs from my cousins, brown-bagged it, and so on.  I got teased for my clothes, but bringing lunch to school in a bag or a lunchbox wasn’t ever an issue.  (Now having a “Love Boat” lunchbox could bring on the mockery, but that’s a different thing.)

    Sounds like you got teased for a lot of things, and bringing a lunch wasn’t what tipped it over the edge.  Even if you want to argue that bringing a lunch was the root of all your problems, I assume that would have held if you’d brought a Lunchable, which would have been the worst of both worlds: all the ostracism, for about three times the cost of the small amount of food contained in the package.

  • wallflower

    Question–how many cars among these families?  (I’m guessing at least one is missing a ride, unless I misunderstand you.)  And how is bus service in the area?  I can see there may be some serious bad judgment here, but I think the question of transportation is still relevant.)

  • Chunky Style

    You are correct, one of the families is missing a ride; the other three have vehicles.  The Diabetes family doesn’t have a car, but fortunately the Lunchables family is related and gives Diabetes a lift to WalMart every SNAP day.

    You’re correct that transportation is a key issue.  To that end not only am I involved in endless carpooling, but I’ve given one used car to one of the families (in pretty good shape, not a junker I was looking to unload), racked up all kinds of car repair bills for a couple of them, and I loan my car out too when it can be helpful.  Three of the four families have a working family member (the Diabetes family doesn’t — it’s just a mom and a kid) and I understand how vital transportation is to holding down a job, so I do what I can.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     John Cheese at Cracked.com wrote about this kind of destructive cycle

    I thought of that article, too.  But I’d already blathered on enough by then, so I figured I’d done enough damage.

  • Lori

     

    And if Scrooge McDuck-like thrift isn’t going to get you out of it, that’s all the more reason to live in the now. 

    I think people really, really underestimate this one. Speaking from experience, it’s really tough to forgo all the little pleasures that elevate life a tiny bit above bare survival when you know that even if you live in total misery your situation isn’t going to change much at any point in the foreseeable future. At some point misery + hopelessness = not giving a shit.

    I have decades of life experience with other realities so I can (mostly) fight that when I need to. If I didn’t have that I’m quite sure I’d make different decisions now. More than that, I’m quite sure the people doing all the pearl-clutching about the so-called bad decisions the poor make would too. Among the complainers that I know personally, the loudest are the ones who have had the cushiest lives and have the least capacity for enduring even mild deprivation.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I work with a lot of middle class people and I see a LOT of poor financial choices there too.

  • LoneWolf343

    I’m outraged because the kid clearly got robbed. iPad, really?

  • Gotchaye

    What mcc said.  Resentment at poor people with iPads is like wanting to balance the federal budget by cutting international aid.  The poor are already saving money all over the place.  Most poor people live in bad school districts, and often in high crime areas.  They don’t have health insurance.  They don’t put their kids in day care while the parents are working.  They don’t save for retirement.  How frugal!

    To be very clear, the above is tongue-in-cheek.  Poor people /can’t/ afford those things, but people who can afford those things tend to not even think about them as things that someone might choose not to afford – they see them as necessities and unconsciously assume that everyone else is already spending similar amounts on those things.  A middle class family in a decent school district and with health insurance might, because of those expenses, not have much disposable income, and might see an iPad as a pretty expensive device.  So seeing poor people who can apparently afford iPads can be disconcerting if they don’t realize what else the poor are going without.

  • hidden_urchin

    The worst part of the poor quality of government assistance and lack of uniersal healthcare is what it really says to people.  Since we put money towards what we value not ensuring tht people have the basic requirements for a decent shot at life is essentially telling them “your life has no value to me.” 

    That’s a really ugly message. 

  • MaryKaye

    There’s also the point that in my local middle and high schools you are, practically speaking, required to have Internet access in order to do your homework.  So you can use a public library terminal, but we are fighting to save our public libraries (looks like the levy passed, yay!) and if your local library is on Tuesday furloughs and your homework is due Wednesday morning, it’s a problem.  Or if the lines are twenty people long, or if your schedule can’t be made to fit the library’s (say, you have a job or siblings to look after).  An iPad will let you do your work, and may well be a cost-effective and sound solution.

    This would go doubly in areas with less good libraries. A few years ago it looked like Oregon would lose *all* of its public libraries, though I think they have managed to recover somewhat.  If you don’t have library Internet, what else are you going to do?

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    So you can use a public library terminal, but we are fighting to save our public libraries (looks like the levy passed, yay!)

    I voted “yes” on that levy.  I was happy to see it leading in the preliminary results.  My local public library (the Douglass Truth library on Yesler to be specific) was an invaluable school resource when I was a child.  

  • PJ Evans

    I’ve heard that schools of public administration teach that public libraries are a luxuries, and only schools need libraries.
    I don’t know what they think ‘public library’ actually means. But I wouldn’t want someone who thinks public libraries are a ‘luxury’ anywhere near government. (I’ve already seen what they can do even with major support for the library from the public.)

  • Turcano

    City Councilwoman Stacy Head used her taxpayer-funded phone to send an outraged email when she saw a woman using food stamps to buy Rice Krispies treats.

    I’m outraged too.  Storebought Rice Krispies treats are stale as hell.

  • AnonymousSam

    What pisses me off about the assumption that “poor person plus expensive toy equals spoiled rotten poor class QUIT MOOCHIN’ OFF MAH TAXES YA COMMIE SCUM” bullshit is the fact that not all of us start out poor, and it’s not like we’re inclined to sell all our belongings the moment things go south.

    In my worst days — when I was so poor that I spent less than 50 cents a day for food — I still had a computer, a leather jacket, video game consoles and a small collection of books. These were all things I had when I left home, most of which were old even before then. To suggest that they disqualify me from ever receiving government aid at any point in the future is to invite an entry into my list of people to put against the wall when the revolution comes.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    “point on it, but in Sodom there would have been no problem passing the Ryan budget plan.”

    so “liberals want to turn America into Sodom and Gommorah”

     has become “Conservatives want to  turn America into Sodom and Gommorah”

    congratulations left-Christians, you’ve become the thing you were supposed to be an antidote for.

  • Madhabmatics

    One of the reasons the iPad thing is also pretty dumb because it assumes the person who bought it couldn’t afford it, when poverty is going out of control. There’s a good chance they could have bought it when they were in a good condition and suffered a set-back like a job less or a failed vehicle.

    (It’s also dumb because so what if poor people have something that will improve their chance to get out of their situation!)

    A person on another forum I post on was complaining about some poor dude who had spent ten dollars for an account. “He’s poor, the fact that he bought this account proves that he is irresponsible.”

    The guy had bought the account like, eight years ago, before he lost his job. That just made her insist even harder that spending ten dollars on a website when you are well-off is irresponsible because what if you lose your job eight years later and need that ten dollars!

  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    I found that report on Sodom quite interesting.  A wikipedia check gives the same version as the Jewish tradition.  The Genesis story makes more sense that way, than it does with the Christian tradition.

    Thanks.

  • banancat

    iPods cost about $200.  Where I live, a modest 2-bedroom apartment costs about $800 a month.  Why, if that kid simply cut back his iPod expenditure by 4 each month, he could afford to pay for an apartment for his family!  It’s simple, really.

    When people have a low income, it’s impossible to save your way to financial security.  You can’t save enough if you don’t have enough in the first place.  An iPod is a drop in the bucket and if you’re gonna be in the hole every month anyway, you might as well have a little enjoyment in your life.

  • DavidCheatham

    Why, if that kid simply cut back his iPad expenditure by 4 each month, he could afford to pay for an apartment for his family!  It’s simple, really. 

    Indeed. I find it rather hilarious when people talk about the irresponsibly poor _owning_ something that would cost maybe two week’s pay.
    It’s like people see $200 and their brains break. That’s a lot of money! Well, yes, it sorta is, if it was being spent constantly.

    But even assuming that actually was spent while poor (As poor people are apparently being supposed to sell off every possession they own, and never receive used things from friends, and can’t borrow things.), for all you know, that’s their entire entertainment budget for three years.

    This is pretending having a computer is actually a luxury. It’s not anymore. People _need_ computers, and it’s entirely possible that this iPad is this family’s computer.

    So there’s like five fallacies on top of each other which this:
    1) This poor family owns a luxury… (which half the time isn’t a luxury. Likewise, some sort of computer is a necessity, as is a damn cell phone.)
    2) …which they had some choice about… (Apartments _come_ with cable and AC. It doesn’t matter if they don’t want it.)
    3) …which they actually paid for… (Poor people are given stuff all the time. The entire idea of ‘giving stuff away’ can be confusing to some people, I know.)
    4) …when they were poor… (Often the poor used to be not poor.)
    5) …that the price of would have contributed in a meaningful sense to get them out of poverty.  (Which a one time purchase of $200 would not have.)

  • Isabel C.

    I keep remembering Jon Stewart’s response to a similar ZOMGSCANDAL involving, I think, poor people owning refrigerators:

    “Those beverage-cooling motherfuckers.” 
    Also,  the whole “poor people must live miserable lives wherein every cent goes to the Long Term” thing is so very Victorian Workhouse. 

    For the record? I don’t put as much money toward the long term as I should. I sometimes eat Chinese takeout instead of putting the thirteen dollars in my savings and getting a can of Campbell’s soup. And sometimes this rebounds on me–I’m temporarily strapped for cash as a result of moving, a friend’s wedding, and property management shenanigans for which I may well throw an octopus at someone’s head–but first of all, it’s my choice and I have reasons for it, and second, I am lucky. I have a pretty good job, I have a credit card, I’m young, single, and able-bodied, and there are friends and family who can and will help out if need be.

    Luck shouldn’t make the difference between “I’m uncomfortable for a week” and “I’m not eating for a week”, when the people involved are making the same decision. 

  • Rowen

     That actually brings up another interesting point in that maybe said person got said item for a lot cheaper then buying it at full price. Maybe s/he saved up for a year. Maybe they got it at a raffle, or it was one of those “Fill out 100 surveys” or it was a gift from a more wealthy relative. Maybe it was on sale or they got it on one of those overstock websites.

    You don’t really know.

  • PJ Evans

    Some people will buy brand-name food rather than store brand, even if they’re having to borrow money for expenses. (Yes, I’ve seen that. They couldn’t save money either.)

  • banancat

     Wow, you seemed to have entirely missed the point of this post.

    How dare those people eat food they like, amirite?  I’m a big fan of generics but in some cases the name brand really is better.  Are you suggesting that poor people shouldn’t be allowed to eat food they enjoy?  Honestly, they wouldn’t be able to save even if they ate nothing but strictly-portioned rice and beans.  Being poor isn’t a matter of not saving enough; it’s about not having enough to begin with.  Even middle class and rich people don’t spend their money perfectly, because we’re human.  I refuse to shame poor people for not spending their money exactly the way I think they should.

    How did this thread turn into a list of ways in which poor people are bad and should be judged?  I thought the post was pretty much making the exact opposite point.  Can we just stop this now?

  • PJ Evans

     Not bloody likely – I’ve lived on rice and hotdogs. What I object to is people buying expensive stuff because they don’t want to change their habits, even when they’re broke.
    Also, buying food at the gas station is a lot more expensive than buying the same thing at a supermarket. A gas-station sandwich, ready to eat, will run a dollar more (minimum) than the same sandwich at a supermarket. (They’re forgiven if the gas station is the only place they can get to without taking buses.)

  • JayemGriffin

    They’re forgiven if
    They’re forgiven if
    They’re forgiven if
    They’re forgiven if
    They’re forgiven if

    I’m kind of stuck on that. That is a really horrible clause to use in just about any context. So much wrong in there: people need to be ‘forgiven’ for their choices; people need to be forgiven BY YOU for their choices; such forgiveness is conditional… I’m sure there’s more. At best it’s a very unfortunate choice of words; at worst, you actually believe this.

  • Nenya


    They’re forgiven if the gas station is the only place they can get to without taking buses. 

    I just have a hard time with someone “forgiving” other people for the food choices they make, especially when those other people are broke. It’s already a fraught enough situation (food + money, each of those are emotional alone nevermind together), and if you’re not their mother, their personal nutritionist, or someone they’ve asked for help about it…it doesn’t seem right to sit around talking about what terrible choices they’re making. 

    Look, sometimes we poor people make bad choices. Just like anybody else. But we get a shit-ton more judgement for it (we’re supposed to be perfectly virtuous, the “good” poor, so we’re worthy of help, I guess) and by virtue of not actually having much money, it’s a lot harder to bounce back from said mistakes. “Oh, they’re *allowed* to fuck up sometimes, if I judge that they fit my rules for what’s an okay fuckup” — doesn’t help, okay. Doesn’t help anybody. 

  • Albanaeon

     Yeah, I guess when the world’s going to pot and it’s time to eat, it’s wonderful to be reminded of that by having to always eat something cheap and horrible.

    Having been there, yes I completely understand why people get less affordable things to eat because they actually enjoy them.  For one, its a bit of pleasure and “normalcy” in an otherwise abysmal time.  And those bits can be just as important as saving a few bucks.  Seconds sometimes it quite frankly doesn’t matter.  Sure, I could shave $10-20 off my food bill, but since that won’t stretch to the $50 I need to pay utilities, it’s not like it makes a rat’s ass anyway.

    It’s really easy to harp on others choices when you aren’t the one having to make them.  Lay off.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     

    Being poor isn’t a matter of not saving enough; it’s about not having enough to begin with.

    This. A thousand times this.

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    I buy brand name items rather than store brands for some items. Sometimes they have a lower sodium content. Sometimes they have a higher ratio of vegetable to liquid. Sometimes they just taste better. OTOH, some store brand canned foods are actually lower in sodium. Cheaper is not always the best buy. It depends on the individual item.

  • cjmr

    Also, brand name items are less likely than store brand items to either not have wheat or soy fillers, or when they do, to label them better.

  • http://dcmoosings.blogspot.com LouC

    as cmjr pointed out, a lot of schools are assigning Ipads or laptops to students. How dare they! /sarcasm

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Newsflash: Sometimes poor people make financial decisions  which are, from a purely financial perspective, sub-optimal.

    As it turns out, and I am sure this will surprise many of those who run our civilization, poor people are not disinterested actors seeking to maximize financial outcomes with no stake in any other aspect of the financial transaction.

    I mean, they keep blowing their money on *food* and *shelter* when they *should* just be investing it in high-yield commodities.

  • Daughter

    Here’s another: http://cfed.org/

  • friendly reader

    Re: what poor people have… Stewart and Colbert covered this thoroughly:
    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-august-18-2011/world-of-class-warfare—the-poor-s-free-ride-is-over
    Unfortunately the Colbert Nation site isn’t letting me browse the archives, so I can’t give the link for that, but maybe you’ll have better luck with a search.

  • Don Gisselbeck

    Let’s not forget that what the predator class hates most about western civilization is that it has made it possible for laborers and mechanics to live the good life. (Work 40 or so hours a week. Have decent food, clothing, housing and medical care. Be human; socialize, create, play.)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    There’s a guy at the University of NSW, Professor Peter Saunders, who does a lot of interesting research into poverty. Australian context but (apart from something below which may freak out the USians) probably fairly generalisable.

    One of his research projects looked at what is considered “essential” by the general community, then looking at welfare recipients specifically what % did not have the essential items due to unaffordability. So he builds up a deprivation model of poverty rather than purely income based. He also compared the view of welfare recipients of what counts as essential to the wider community view, and found that (unsurprisingly) welfare recipients often have a harsher threshold than average.

    http://www.sprc.unsw.edu.au/media/File/Report7_09_Still_doing_it_tough.pdf

    For your interest, stuff named as essential for all people by >95% of Australians in the general community survey:

    Medical treatment when needed    99.9%
    Warm clothes & bedding when it’s cold     99.8%
    Substantial meal at least once a day     99.6%
    Ability to buy prescribed medicines     99.4%
    Access to a local doctor or hospital     99.3%
    Disability support services when needed     98.9%
    Dental treatment when needed     98.6%
    To be treated with respect     98.4%
    Aged care services     98.2%
    To be accepted for who you are     98.0%
    Ability to speak and read English     97.9%
    Streets that are safe to walk at night     97.7%
    Access to mental health services when needed     97.4%
    A decent and secure home     97.3%
    A safe outdoor place to play for children near the home     96.4%

    For our Republican friends, 92% said access to a bulk-billing doctor was essential. Bulk-billing means the government pays the fee and the patient has no out of pocket costs.

    The full list and the research around it is very interesting.

  • Chunky Style

    “I work with a lot of middle class people and I see a LOT of poor financial choices there too.”

    This isn’t about dick-waving over thrift, this is about making sure you have enough food to eat.  If you can make poor financial choices but still put food on the table and keep a roof over your head, fine.  If you’re running out of grocery budget by the end of the month, perhaps you should try to fine-tune your grocery practices.

    Do you even see what you’re doing here?  You’re arguing that people who are having trouble making their food budget stretch for the whole month, shouldn’t try to do anything about it, because other people don’t have that problem.  What sort of crazy shit is that?

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    Do you even see what you’re doing here?  You’re arguing that people who are having trouble making their food budget stretch for the whole month, shouldn’t try to do anything about it, because other people don’t have that problem.  What sort of crazy shit is that?

    No, we’re saying that you don’t get to tell other people how to live their lives, even if they are poor, so get off your high horse.

  • Chunky Style

    “No, we’re saying that you don’t get to tell other people how to live their lives, even if they are poor, so get off your high horse.”

    Yeah, that’s totally what this is about: me telling people how to live their lives.  It’s got nothing to do with the real problem of people exhausting their food budgets by the end of the month.

    Growing up, my parents raised three kids on a teacher’s salary … my family was by no means rich, and I’m pretty sure we dipped below the poverty line some years.  But even so my parents kept it together, by employing time-honored strategies of spending carefully and not wasting.  These are not secret Masonic strategies that the poor can’t employ; and what’s more, if you have a limited food budget, that makes those strategies even more essential.  As someone who actually deals with poor folks — as opposed to having read about them in Newsweek once, and having a hypothetical concept of poor folks in mind — I would very much like to see them employ those strategies more consistently, not because I begrudge them their SNAP dollars, but because I don’t want to see them go hungry by the end of the month.

    If your current grocery habits feed you for 90% of the month and the other 10% of the month you go hungry, you should probably see if there are ways to shave 10% off your current grocery bill; that will allow you to cover that last part of the month.  OMG I HATE POOR PEOPLE FOR UNDERSTANDING THAT.

    You’ll be pleased to know that both my high horse and I manage to eat well enough for the entire month, by the way.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Do you even see what you’re doing here? You’re arguing that people who are having trouble making their food budget stretch for the whole month, shouldn’t try to do anything about it, because other people don’t have that problem. What sort of crazy shit is that?

    Where exactly am I doing that? I just made the observation that lack of financial skills isn’t the sole domain of the poor. Tell me where I’ve argued what people should or shouldn’t do?

  • Chunky Style

    “Where exactly am I doing that? I just made the observation that lack of financial skills isn’t the sole domain of the poor. Tell me where I’ve argued what people should or shouldn’t do?”

    Oh, so you’re just tossing out unrelated observations that have nothing to do with the topic at hand, which is trying to stretch a food budget.  Okay.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I think the key point here is that in Anglo-Saxon descended societies in particular, a perhaps unhealthy level of virtue is attached to the notion of thrift. It’s particularly paradoxical when we consider that in modern society, nobody blinks an eye when a wealthy person foolishly spends lavish amounts of money on the most ludicrous of items (conspicuous consumption), even though according to social notions of thrift, he or she would be better off not spending that kind of money.

    Contrariwise, the social acceptability of the wealthy spending money on all sorts of things becomes inverted when one looks at the poor. In a myriad ways the system functions in a way to force them to usually spend more to get less; it even strikes me that ‘sin taxes’ are a rather perverse way for the government to recapture some of the money it spends on welfare payments to the poor, since cigarettes and alcohol are the ‘go to’ socially acceptable stress relievers.

    It would be nice if the outrage over OMG SPENDING SO FOOLISHLY were perhaps first applied to one’s own wallet and budget before deciding to spread that moralizing around to other people. It would also be nice if society put its money where its rhetoric is and actually gave the poor opportunities to do better for themselves instead of stumbling blocks.

    Didn’t the Bible once say not to put stumbling blocks before the blind?

    You wouldn’t purposely trip a blind person, but it seems fine to purposely keep poor people poor through overdraft fees, payday loans, cheap-assed welfare payouts, and all else besides.

  • Chunky Style

    “It would be nice if the outrage over OMG SPENDING SO FOOLISHLY were perhaps first applied to one’s own wallet and budget before deciding to spread that moralizing around to other people.”

    Moralizing?  That’s what this is about to you?  Really?

    Then I guess I’m the only person here who doesn’t see this as a moral issue, but a practical issue.  Seems everyone else is looking to say why the poor shouldn’t be expected to make better purchases, I just want them to make it through the whole month without wondering how they’re going to feed their family for the final week.  Cutting out the god damn Lunchables would help.  Buying less candy would help.  Not throwing out a quarter of your food would help.  Not buying microwaveable meals from the gas station would help.  Not one of us here would actually make these bad food choices, but apparently the people who can least afford to make those choices, are heroes or something for choosing to waste their money.

    “You wouldn’t purposely trip a blind person, but it seems fine to purposely keep poor people poor through overdraft fees, payday loans, cheap-assed welfare payouts, and all else besides.”

    Exactly how much of this are you accusing me of?

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    Not one of us here would actually make these bad food choices

    We wouldn’t? So where did those Lunchables in my fridge come from?

  • Chunky Style

    “We wouldn’t? So where did those Lunchables in my fridge come from?”

    Okay, I stand corrected.  Dude, two-thirds of a Lunchable’s cost is the packaging and presentation.  You get the equivalent of one or two slices of baloney, a slice of cheese, a few crackers, and a fun-sized snack.  That’s like 75 cents worth of food, tops.  How much did you pay for that Lunchable?

    If you have the money to spare, fine, spend it how you like.  But I like to think that you’d choose differently if you were on a tight budget and were going hungry by the end of the month.

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

      How much did you pay for that Lunchable?

    Price is not the only variable, bumblefuck. If have a lot of things to do, and if paying a bit more in cash means I can save half an hour I would otherwise spend preparing my lunch, then it’s worth it to me.

    Repeat, very slowly, after me: Other people have their own priorities. These may sometimes be different to my own, but that does not make them wrong. My priorities and values are not inherently universalisible.

  • Chunky Style

    Do you run out of grocery money before the end of the month, bumblefuck?  If you do, then maybe you are making bad choices.

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    And if I spent all my time cooking every meal from scratch to save a few pennies and didn’t have time to look for a better-paid job, I’d still be making bad choices. Sometimes all you get are bad choices.

    And anyway, IT’S STILL NONE OF YOUR GOD-DAMNED BUSINESS. Why is that part so hard for you to get?

  • Isabel C.

    And sometimes, even “bad choices” aren’t even bad, for you, they’re just less ideal, or riskier, or whatever. 

    Warning: possible TMI.
    I am…pretty sexually active. There are times when I don’t know the people I go to bed with very well. Yes, I use protection, but that fails sometimes, and for some things. 

    I do not want a committed relationship, or children. It’s possible that when I’m eighty, I’ll regret this, die alone, and have my face eaten by cats. 

    I live alone in a city.

    I believe in Vague Pagan Stuff. 

    I read fantasy, romance, and horror. I play video games and RPGs. 

    I am happy with the job I have, and have no wish to move up to a better-paying position. 

    I eat red meat and candy frequently, drink cocktails once or twice a week, and, in my youth, smoked the odd joint. 

    I hang out with people about whose conduct there have been Many Rumors.

    For every single one of the points above, someone has, at least once, taken it upon themselves to tell me why this is a horrible idea and an unwise choice and will end badly for me and why, oh why, am I not listening?

    And…shut up, That Guy. I know the possible consequences of all these things. I also know that, for me, the rewards of doing them outweigh the risks, or even the certainty. 

    Likewise…okay, my dad had a heart attack a little less than a year ago. A small one, but a heart attack. Since then, he’s been very careful about eating and exercising and so forth, but if he wasn’t? If he decided “fuck it, I’m sixty years old, I don’t mind maybe dying at sixty-two, and I want eggs and bacon for breakfast”…well, I’d be sad, because he’s my father and I’d miss him and bleh.

    But I wouldn’t be mad at him. I wouldn’t think he was an idiot, or making a “bad choice”. He’s a grown man, he knows his situation better than I do, and he has the right to weigh the quality of his life against the probable length of that life.  That’s how it goes. It would seem disrespectful to take any other stance on this. 

  • AnonymousSam

     Three questions:

    1) Where were you when I was single?
    2) What are your views on polygamy/polyandry?
    3) We should like totally make a house together in a nice suburb where neighbors won’t complain if we run around the lawn in bondage gear because you sound awesome and I can’t think of a third question what is this I don’t even

  • Isabel C.

    Ha! Thank you! You sound pretty awesome yourself.

    I respect poly*y, and think it’s the only form of committed relationship I could do, but don’t identify myself that way because, to a lot of people, that implies “wants at least one committed relationship,” whereas I am girl!Henry Higgins but with sex.  

    Also, hee! I suspect the answer to 1) would be “moving, forever”. It seems like my fate.

  • AnonymousSam

    If you find yourself tossed out on your head somewhere in the Pacific NW, depending on how things go here, I may invite you to come help cover rent with like-minded souls and we’ll see where it goes from there.  :p

    ‘Cause speaking of landlords… the only thing keeping us from having a real actual home of our own is money and the lack of adequate amounts of it. The man is very traditional and privacy is somewhat lacking, walls or no walls.

  • Isabel C.

    Three things: 

    1. There’s a difference between giving advice and mocking or yelling at people for not following it. 

    “Here’s how to maximize your food budget,” is advice. It might be more or less appropriate and more or less tactfully phrased, as all advice is, but it’s advice.

    “These stupid people are doing stupid things with their food money!” is not advice. It’s not neutral observation, either.

    I’m as guilty as anyone else of doing the eye-roll “…oh my God, what an idiot,” at people, although for me it’s generally about choice of SO and/or hairstyle, but at least don’t pretend that what you’re doing is productive for them or others.

    2. Yes, poor people make “bad choices” from a strictly ideal budgeting-and-health perspective.  So do rich people. Rich people don’t have to suffer for it nearly as much as poor people do. That would be, um, the point of the quoted article, wouldn’t it, now? And that maybe our focus should be less on “oh my God these stupid poor people spending their money stupidly” and more on making sure that all people have the resources to make better decisions, and that deviation from a strict ideal doesn’t fuck up anyone’s life.

    Most of us don’t live exactly and precisely the way we should, for values of “should” that often conflict with each other. For most people in the middle class and up, that’s not a death sentence; for poor people, it can be. (Or at least a homelessness, hunger, or undereducation sentence.) That’s the problem. Not people’s bad habits.

    3. Bringing up “but but but some poor people really do make bad choices you guys” in response to a thread mostly about Point 2 is tasteless victim-blaming.  

  • Chunky Style

    If a woman with type 2 diabetes refuses to change her lifestyle enough to stop killing herself with WalMart candy, then fuck yeah, sign me up for blaming the victim.  Because in this case, the victim is also the perpetrator of the crime.

    Also, what about the children who are not getting enough to eat because of their parents’ dumb choices?  Any concern for their well-being at all?  Any tiny particle?

    At least I’m not treating poor adults like they are children, completely incapable of controlling any aspects of their lives or unable to make even a few modest positive changes.

    “…  and that deviation from a strict ideal”

    A “strict ideal”, which again, in your world, would include cutting down on the foods that are killing you.

  • Isabel C.

    Everything kills you eventually, Spanky, in case you haven’t noticed. For some people, living to be ninety isn’t a goal.

    Would I make the same choices? No. I also don’t smoke. But I have friends who do, and I’m not stomping around all OH my GOD you are SO DUMB. They’re adults. They know the score. 

    Yes, I’m concerned about children. There are ways to express that–whether by supporting school lunch programs or by giving more neutral, more context-specific, and less snotty advice.  And I notice that you didn’t start going Helen Lovejoy about this whole thing until people started calling you on the rest of it.

    I’d give you more credit for “concern for their well-being” if I didn’t suspect that much of it was self-serving bullshit. 

     At least I’m not treating poor adults like they are children, completely incapable of controlling any aspects of their lives or unable to make even a few modest positive changes.

    I’m not sure in what world scolding people for their lifestyle choices is treating them like adults. 

    Also, you have failed to respond to my first point and ninety percent of my second. 

    So, your entire response:

    1. I can totally blame the victim if I want! Because the victim is stupid! And eating the wrong things will make you die eventually! Yeah!
    2. Won’t somebody please think of the children?
    3. People can change these things and therefore they should because I know best!

    Is that correct?

  • AnonymousSam

    Blaming the poor for not having financial management skills reminds me a bit of blaming people for not having learned to swim after they’ve fallen in the water.

    1) It’s unhelpful.
    2) Odds are pretty good that they’re not going to spontaneously learn while struggling to stay alive.
    3) PUBLIC LIFE PRESERVERS ARE A SOCIALIST IDEA DO NOT BE FOOLED BY THE LIBERAL RADICALS SWIMMING LESSONS ARE AFFORDABLE IF YOU MAKE SMART FINANCIAL DECISIONS AND IF ALL ELSE FAILS LIFE INSURANCE NEVER HURT ANYBODY

  • Chunky Style

    “1. I can totally blame the victim if I want! Because the victim is stupid! And eating the wrong things will make you die eventually! Yeah!
    2. Won’t somebody please think of the children?
    3. People can change these things and therefore they should because I know best!

    Is that correct?”

    Sure, I’ll cop to that, if you’ll cop to this: you are championing a woman who is killing herself with sugar, and refuses to stop.  She just turned 51 and they’ve had to chop parts of her feet off already, and you still believe continuing to kill herself with sugar is a fine, responsible choice.  That pretty much says everything that needs to be said about you.

  • Isabel C.

    It’s not a choice I’d make. It’s not a choice I’d advocate.

    But, and you might want to put your face up real close to the monitor so you get this clearly: NOBODY ASKED ME.

    NOBODY ASKED YOU.

    Did this woman come to you and say “Hey, Chunky Style, I’d like to stop having diabetes?” No?

    Then it’s none of your damn business.

    She might be thinking “…fuck it, I’m 51 and I have no feet. I want to have a happy short life.” That’s her choice.

    Do you always do the things that will keep you in the best possible health? Do you really want to?

    Note that you haven’t answered my “everything kills you” point either. So, you know, just keep hiding behind “but it’s UNHEAAAALTHY” like the weasel-dicked little coward you are. 

  • Chunky Style

    “Everything kills you” is an idiotic point for you to be holding up as your justification of needlessly self-destructive behaviors.  If you want to take up the cause of self-destruction, go right ahead, I won’t challenge you.

  • Isabel C.

    So…do you drink more than a glass of red wine at dinner? Eat meat? Eat butter? Eat any processed foods? How often do you walk every day? Do you ever have sex? 

    If so, you’ve got no room to talk.If not, do you think the rest of us are stupid for doing these things? 

    If so: fuck you, enjoy your needlessly joyless ninety years, or however long you have until you get hit by a truck.

    Seriously. *Why* is “everything kills you in the end” an idiotic point if your entire argument is “this specific thing will kill you in the end”? 

    Because things…actually aren’t stupid just because you say so, you know.  

  • Isabel C.

    Further note: if you–and by “you” I mean “random readers”, not Chunky Style, because I do not care–actually abstain from alcohol, meat, sex, butter, and so forth because you like doing so or are uninterested in these things, please do not take my “needlessly joyless” comment to apply to you. 

  • Chunky Style

    “Seriously. *Why* is “everything kills you in the end” an idiotic point if your entire argument is “this specific thing will kill you in the end”?

    Because things…actually aren’t stupid just because you say so, you know. ”

    I feel like a robot is asking me to explain why being alive is better than being dead, and why being healthy is better than being sick.  Except a robot would realize what stupid questions those were and would be ashamed to make them the keynotes of an argument.

  • Isabel C.

    So a long miserable life is better than a short happy one, then? Do you favor keeping someone alive for ten years in a vegetative state? Or in chronic, agonizing pain?

    See also: my questions to you. Which you haven’t bothered to answer, along with the rest of my argument. 

    I reiterate: coward. 

  • Chunky Style

    I haven’t answered your questions because they, like you, are more than a little dumb.  The doctor hasn’t told me that I need to stop doing this or that or else it will kill me; and even if I am every bad thing you say I am, it still doesn’t refute the central truth: IF YOU’RE HAVING TROUBLE MAKING YOUR GROCERY FUNDS LAST, PERHAPS YOU SHOULD SEE IF YOU CAN MAKE BETTER PURCHASES.

    I reiterate: you’re more than a little dumb.

  • Isabel C.

    TW: Racism

     
    The doctor hasn’t told me that I need to stop doing this or that or else it will kill me;

    Again: so, cancer patients should be kept alive against their will, right? Because as long as the vital signs are going, that trumps anything else, by your logic.

    And…that’s your central truth? In which case…a) yes, that’s true, but again, either irrelevant or derailing to the original argument*, and b) you did a piss-poor job of getting it across, judging by the response.

     I haven’t answered your questions because they, like you, are more than a little dumb.

    And now, the second verse of Things Aren’t Dumb Just Because You Say So (Assertion is Not Proof). Gonna add this to the dance mix list.

    *”But some black people really *are* lazy!”, one might say, in response to a complaint about stereotypes. One would then be a vile little racist. I hope you can follow this analogy.  

  • Chunky Style

     You are likening cancer to diabetes worsened by insanely bad dietary choices.  A smarter person than you would never have made the comparison.  A person of your caliber won’t ever understand why.

    I will keep calling you dumb as long as you like.  Lord knows you keep proving and re-proving the point.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So basically you’re the only person on the board smart enough to realize that everyone should agree that a long life that sucks is better than a short life that doesn’t suck?

  • Chunky Style

    Well I admit I’d rather be dead than you, so yeah, I guess there are lives so sucky I wouldn’t want to continue them.  But we’re ridiculously far afield from the original point, which is about how making bad choices (specifically food choices) hurts the quality of your life (i.e., going hungry at the end of the month).  The only way to get to where we are now is if you assume the candy-binging is a deliberate form of suicide, and until today, I wouldn’t have imagined anyone so invested in a conclusion as to make that leap.

  • EllieMurasaki

    My point, which you keep missing, is that maybe she thinks, and maybe she is entirely justified in thinking, that a couple days hungry is an acceptable price to pay for a definite upswing in her mood the rest of the month.

    Well I admit I’d rather be dead than you, so yeah, I guess there are lives so sucky I wouldn’t want to continue them.

    Did you seriously just say you think I should commit suicide?

    Somebody who’s had a good mental health month and is aware of the issues CS just stepped on explain how horribly hurtful and offensive that is, please. I am (for the first time ever on Patheos) unsubscribing a thread, because I have not had a good mental health month and part of that did include suicidal ideation and I need to go pretend this conversation never happened.

  • Chunky Style

    “Did you seriously just say you think I should commit suicide?”

    No, I said that I’d kill myself if I woke up one day and discovered I were you.

    That was a zing that, all things considered, I felt was appropriate.  That said, I didn’t realize that you would take it as more than an Internet slap, and I’m sorry for that.  I wish I could undo it.

    I hope the rest of your month goes better.

  • Maniraptor

    This will accomplish fuck-all, but sometimes one just has to get in on a righteous pileon.

    Sorry, buddy, but you aren’t being a witty comedian, you’re being an asshole. Wherever you go, there are people who already wake up one day and want to kill themselves. We don’t need you to remind us. That one hurt *me* and I’m just a lurker, not the target. The only distinction between what you said and what you claim to have not meant is that you don’t want to be held responsible.

    Bragging about how you’re so much smarter than every poor person you know also makes you look a lot more assholish than witty. Regardless of how good or bad those people’s decisions are – that discussion’s been handled – telling *us* isn’t helpful to anyone, it’s smug at best.

    EllieMurasaki: I hope things get better. I’m so sorry that you had to be reminded of that.

  • Chunky Style

    “Sorry, buddy, but you aren’t being a witty comedian, you’re being an asshole. Wherever you go, there are people who already wake up one day and want to kill themselves. We don’t need you to remind us. That one hurt *me* and I’m just a lurker, not the target. The only distinction between what you said and what you claim to have not meant is that you don’t want to be held responsible.”

    I chose my words carefully; as much as you want to claim I said something I didn’t, or meant something else, a “righteous” man wouldn’t distort what the other person said just to argue an easier point.  Can I trust you to be “righteous”?

    As I said to Ellie, I’m sorry I hit a nerve; if I had any idea there was a nerve to strike in that general vicinity, I would have stayed completely away from that area.  From my perspective, she came at me, we both escalated the argument, and it so happens I said something she took wrong and in the most painful way.  I will be mindful of her and you and others, and stay completely away from there going forward.

    By the way, I have no known sore spots, so feel free to go at it however you like.  Nobody else seems to feel any particular need for restraint towards me, and I’m down with that.  But if you can be creative I’d really appreciate it; my favorite insult yet is “you are the Michael Jordan of dying alone and unloved”, and I’m always on the lookout for better.

  • Isabel C.

    Go back to 4Chan. 

  • Isabel C.

    Okay, yeah. 

    I mean, not that he’ll listen, but CS:…that is not okay, at all. Certainly not in a forum like this, which aims to be at least a little more civil than your average LJ/4Chan thread. *Definitely* not from someone whose made half his shtick on here how he cares about humanity so much more than the rest of us. 
    You don’t know what people are going through, for one. Not Ellie, not someone reading.  I mean, again, this is more addressed to spectators who grasp the whole concept of empathy, because…Chunky Style…but “and you should kill yourself”, out of the blue, in an argument?

    Wow. You are a horrible fucking person, CS.

    Ellie, in case you do see this, I’m sorry for what you’ve gone through and you have my sympathy. 

  • Isabel C.

    And for what it’s worth, I’ve flagged the post in question. Not sure how much that does. 

  • Isabel C.

    It’s an analogy. Look it up.

    So…your entire argument here is “YOU’RE DUMB AND A ROBOT AND YOUR ARGUMENTS ARE DUMB AND I DON’T HAVE TO TELL YOU WHY YOU’RE DUMB BECAUSE YOU’RE DUMB?”

    Very convincing, that. 

  • Chelle

    Stop blaming the victim! Budgeting is not always the solution especially if you have to budget pennies.. That’s like saying people should eat less to survive another month..

  • AnonymousSam

    The robot may well take a look around this country and determine that the quality of life may well outweigh sentimentality for a beating heart. This robot has come close to doing so many times.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The robot may well take a look around this country and determine that
    the quality of life may well outweigh sentimentality for a beating
    heart.

    http://365tomorrows.com/08/09/hard-time/

  • AnonymousSam

    That’s a frightening story. I had thought of something similar, but of homemade origin: a story I wrote, also science-fiction, in which medical and cybernetic advances allow humanity to replace deficient organs, repair DNA and even upload the mind to a fully artificial body. As time progresses, these “improvements” become mandatory.

    There are two leading causes of death in that world:

    1) Revolution against the government
    2) Suicide via an embedded device which shorts out cybernetic implants, overloading the brain with pleasure signals

  • Daughter

    A couple of months ago, a person shared a link about an article on making environmental changes. The article said that making any significant changes requires that a person have three things: 1) dissonance (a feeling that the current situation is bad and should change); 2) a sense of efficacy (the knowledge, skills and ability to change the situation); and 3) a belief in the benefits (a belief that whatever difficulties or efforts are required to change the situation, it will be worth it and they’ll actually achieve the desired results). Most poor people already have #1 about their finances; it’s #2 and #3 that are often missing.  Several people have already given reasons for why that’s the case, so I won’t repeat them.

     You know the links I posted to asset building organizations? I participated in a webinar sponsored by one of them.  They shared some of their strategies that help people address #2 and #3. Yes, people make wrong choices, but it takes a lot of effort and support and hope to change deeply engrained habits.

    So here is some of what they do. They may offer someone with a terrible credit score  and few resources a small, no-interest loan (say,$150) to purchase something they need (e.g., medication, shoes for the kids, minor repair work on their car). The person now has 12 months to pay it back, at a rate of $12.50 a month.

    They stay in close touch with the person throughout the year, giving them frequent reminders of when the loan repayments are due. The person may even have to take financial literacy classes to be a part of the program. That’s how they help build #2.

    Here’s the really great thing: as the person makes each payment, they place the payment in an escrow savings account in the person’s name, and then they match the savings (sometimes 1:1, or more, if the funds are available). So the person is essentially paying themselves back, and at the end of the year the person has now accumulated $300 (or more) which is now theirs. They also show the person their before and after credit scores (and explain how having a better credit score helps them). These strategies are how they build #3.

    In other words,

  • Daughter

    Whoops, posted too soon. In other words, they don’t judge or criticize people, they walk with them and help them address obstacles along the way. (I don’t know this for sure, but I would guess that they also steer their clients to resources that may interfere with their ability to repay their loans, so that an unexpected life crisis doesn’t derail the progress they are making).

    ~~~~~~

    Btw, Chunky, you are not the only one on this forum who has experienced poverty or worked with poor people. I’m not sure why you’re assuming that you are.

  • Daughter

    OK, I’m still making errors. What I meant to say is, “they also steer their clients to resources to help them when they encounter difficulties that may interfere with their ability to repay their loans.”

  • Chunky Style

    “Btw, Chunky, you are not the only one on this forum who has experienced poverty or worked with poor people. I’m not sure why you’re assuming that you are.”

    Because most of the people who think that I’m somehow wrong for thinking that people with limited grocery budgets should strive to make good purchases, apparently cannot conceive of the possibility that poor people may actually make bad food choices.  That’s the perspective you have if you’ve never met a poor person in your life.  Meet a few of them and you’ll meet some who are sharp with their money, but also plenty who are not.  Then you start seeing poverty is a syndrome, involving a great many external forces but also some choices on the poor person’s part.

  • Daughter

    I think the issue is that you’re busy criticizing these people you work with (iow, trying to make them feel #1, dissonance), but don’t seem to be doing something to help them with #2 and #3. “I’ll show you how to shop,” isn’t enough to build #2, efficacy; and “you’ll be healthier,” isn’t enough to build #3, belief in the benefits. The woman with diabetes, for instance: if she thinks that if she gives us candy, it won’t make much of a difference for her health, then why would she give up something she enjoys? 

    You know what are key things needed to help someone with #2 and #3? Trust and safety. I know that I don’t learn well when I feel like the person teaching me is critical or condescending toward me.

  • Chunky Style

    “You know what are key things needed to help someone with #2 and #3? Trust and safety. I know that I don’t learn well when I feel like the person teaching me is critical or condescending toward me.”

    What makes you think I’m condescending in my approach?  Yes right now I am venting on the Internet, but it would be sort of an unjustified leap to assume that this is how I am when I’m all “you know, if I go to the wholesale place I can get a big thing of Kraft slices, I’ll cut you in for half”.

    There isn’t a teacher alive, or a social worker, or a restaurant employee, or a dental hygienist, or really anyone who has to deal with the public, who doesn’t sometimes talk about the people they deal with in frank and occasionally unflattering tones, where they feel it’s warranted.  Same thing here except I’m not being paid by anyone.

  • Isabel C.

    And what gives you the impression that this is the place to do so? I didn’t sign up for your support group, buddy. 

  • Chunky Style

    “And what gives you the impression that this is the place to do so? I didn’t sign up for your support group, buddy. ”

    Every single post here has been you volunteering for just such a role.

    Inner libertarian, huh?  Why am I not surprised.

  • Isabel C.

    So you take people telling you to fuck off as signing up for a support group?

    Are you…*actually* from BizarroVerse? 

    Also, in the interest of combining posts: you have every right to think whatever you want. But when you open your mouth–or the comments section–and say it, people are going to react. So “blah blah I have the right to think” is…once again, irrelevant. Much like you. 

  • Daughter

    I’m from a family of teachers and social workers, and I’ve worked for community nonprofit organizations my entire 20+ year career, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone vent the way you have here. I’ve heard people express concern, a la, “How can I help this person, because I feel like she’s making some bad choices?” But most of the people I know in this field, know that the attitudes you express, even if you don’t verbalize them with your students or clients, will affect the way you treat them.

  • Isabel C.

    Yeah, this. 

    My father ran a variety of schools for thirty years.  He and the faculty occasionally vented about the kids, sure–but I assure you, if he’d heard anyone talk the way Chunky Style does about their students, that person would have been fired so fast their feet wouldn’t have touched the ground.

    Customer service and so forth, sure, there’s venting. But a) even groups like customers_suck do not look kindly on this sort of bullshit, and b) dealing with retail customers, as a retail employee, is a very different power relationship than dealing with students as a teacher or dealing with poor people as a social worker.

  • Chelle

    The reason why poor people are poor is because people feel it’s the poor person fault for not budgeting correctly. This might be true for some that didn’t initial grow up poor but hearing comments like poor people arent smart enough and that’s why their hungry 10% of the month is really low. You were truly venting about the wrong people and in an insulting way.

  • Chelle

    Though people in general should budget what they eat if they can’t afford to eat, isn’t the problem. The problem is why they need to budget what they eat to afford to eat. For most poor people, food is the only thing they can afford and that’s extremely sad. It hurts me to think that poor people have to be told to save pennies everyday or be told, thats the reason why your broke, and/or be pushed to being fine with eating less than preferrable. My family and I starved because the pennies we saved wasn’t enough. Let’s not blame the victims.

  • AnonymousSam

    When I was poor (not that my financial situation has improved to the point of saying I’m out of the woods, but to a degree, it’s better now) , we called those self-defeating decisions “our sanity fund.” Because sometimes saving $5.99 means being unhappy for the rest of the week, and that’s a much more immediate danger than what’s coming up at the end of the month.

  • banancat

    OK Chunky Style,

    All of those things that you are so horrified at poor people for doing?  I’ve done them.  I’ve thrown away leftovers.  I’ve bought expensive convenience foods many many times.  Sometimes I buy name brand food.  Sometimes I eat lots of candy even though it’s not optimal for my health.  Sometimes I buy the expensive candy because I love it so much.  I even buy lunch from the cafeteria every day even though I know I would be much cheaper to make a sandwich myself.  I could probably save $40 a month if I just started packing lunch.

    So why is ok when I do all of these things but it’s horrifying when poor people do the very same things?  I’m guessing you’ll give me one of two excuses:

    1) I’m not using welfare or food stamps.  Those people are using our taxpayer money so it’s our right and even our duty to judge how they use that money.  It’s not really theirs; it’s ours and we should be offended when they spend it in a way we don’t approve of, right?  Wrong.  We’ve all benefited from taxpayer money.  If you want to judge all people that use “your” money, then you need to be horrified and go on rants about those rich and middle-class making “stupid choices”.  I also don’t believe for a second that you’ve never a sub-optimal purchase.  Since you’ve used my money, I demand that you justify all your choices to me.

    2) You’ll say it’s ok for me to spend sub-optimally because I’m not poor.  What you won’t say out loud is that because I have more money, clearly that is an indication that I am more hard-working and therefore more deserving.  The myth of the meritocracy is alive and well and you surely buy into it even if you won’t admit to it.  But I work less hard than all the poor people I know.  I make good money and it’s largely due to race and class privilege.  I’m white and my parents were middle-class so I got to go to a pretty good public school and then I was able to afford college with the help of my parents.  Because of my good-paying job, I can afford to live with just 1 job and I don’t need to work overtime to make ends meet.  So I work hard at that job, but many poor people work harder.

    There are ways that many poor people can improve their spending, just as their are ways that most other people can improve their spending.  But you know what doesn’t help?  Shaming and finger-pointing.  The only purpose that serves is to let you pretend you’re helping while conveniently doing nothing that requires you to actually help.  I have everything going for me.  I have a decent amount of spare time because I am young, single, childless, and work decent hours with a decent commute by car.  I have the money, education, equipment, and kitchen space to cook and store meals.  I have a car and several grocery stores that are conveniently close and offer both healthy and inexpensive food.  And yet, I still use convenience foods, eat unhealthy foods, and do wasteful things.  So if I, with all my privileges, just don’t feel like  cooking some nights, then what do you expect from the people with far less than me? 

    Perhaps instead of shaming them, you could do something systemic to actually help them.  You could push for better healthcare in this country so people with chronic pain or fatigue conditions could get better treatment and would by physically better-able to cook meals.  You could try to push cities to get better grocery stores that are more convenient.  You could help organize a car system that people can borrow (or even drive those that can’t) so they can get to those groceries stores and haul back food more easily.  You could start a drive to get cooking utensils for people to use.  You could push to make public transit more convenient so some of those people don’t have to transfer several times to get to work, giving them more time in the day.  You could organize community cooking or financial planning classes.  You could push to increase worker’s rights laws so that more people can afford to live from just one job and will have more free time.  I literally thought of all these things off the top of my head.  If you think a little harder you could figure out 100 more things to do actually help poor people make better spending choice.  But instead of actually doing something, you’d rather just scold and shame them.  Go sit on your high horse, but do everyone a favor and do it far away from society because you’re not helping anyone.

  • Dan Audy

    Ok, going to vent here about something that suck about being poor and how being poor ends up costing A LOT OF FUCKING MONEY.

    You make a mistake in your mental tally and end up short in your account.  My wife forgot to ensure that there was $39.60 in the account for an automated payment on the first of August.  Automated payment comes along and attempts that charge which, for no apparent reason, they broke into two separate charges for the components of the charge rather than a single charge.  $16.10 charge is declined, 30 seconds later they attempt to charge $23.50 to an account that just failed to process a smaller fee, 30 seconds later they charge a $25.00 non-payment fee for EACH of the failed transactions to an account that, as we just established, doesn’t have that much money in it .  My bank in turn charges me $42.50 for each of those four non-sufficient funds attempted transactions.  Now I have $50.00 in non-payment fees and $170.00 in NSF charges over a $39.60 expense.  Because I have to come up with an extra $230.00 before next month I don’t know if this debacle is going to repeat itself again because I’m not sure I can squeeze that money out of our budget.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Given that much it might almost be worth seeing if you can take the bank to small claims. There has to be some kind of legal precedent in case or statute law prohibiting abusive fee-piling like this.

    I would also stop all auto payments immediately and switch banks. Once everything’s switched tell the original bank to go fuck themselves if they want to waste a lawyer’s time suing you for the $230.

  • Dan Audy

    I’m going to try talking nicely to them about it first and see if they would voluntarily waive those charges or at least reduce it to a single NSF charge rather than 4.  Then I’ll talk to the company that put through the charge and see if they will waive their fees too.  I’m hoping that a bit of human kindness and desire to keep business will motivate them to deal fairly with us.  

    If not then I will switch banks even though they already snatched that money from our (automatically deposited) paycheck.  I’m not willing to voluntarily do business with a company that thinks it is ethical to treat a customer this way even if it won’t save me a penny (or I suppose a nickle now that they phased out the penny).

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Out of curiosity, which bank?

  • Dan Audy

    TD Canada Trust

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I wish I could say I’m surprised, but sadly, I’m not. The big five (or four, now?) banks have always been rather pilloried for being out of touch with the basic needs of their customers.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     The problem is that we’re NOT the banks’ ‘customers’, we’re their RESOURCE.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    … and resources exist only to be strip-mined and depleted to exhaustion. :

  • Isabel C.

    Oh my God, that’s evil. I’m sorry.

  • Lori

    I’ve been there, and I feel your pain. It really is evil (and should be illegal) to split a single charge like that. I’d be interested to know if it was the company or the bank that did the split and what their justification is for doing so.

    I hope that you’re able to get the people involved to behave like human beings.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    And if you’re poor, that means at some point you’re going to get bank-fucked.

    Because having a checking account while poor doesn’t just mean you have to be responsible and good at math — you have to be perfect. Meticulous, flawless record keeping is the difference between surviving and having the bank seize your next paycheck.”

  • Random548

    Try and get a kidney, Lung, Heart,or whatever major organ.  You will get the first hand experience with “death panels”


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