Dad on wealth inequality.

A friend of my father’s posted my link to the wealth inequality video.  In came Agatha (name changed) with the following objection:

ok. I watched it. and I have a couple problems with it. First off… how do you know his statistics (or ANYONE’s for that matter, are correct and accurate? (Oh that’s right, if it’s on the web it has to be true.) Secondly, he keeps using the word “should” which to me, implies “entitled to.” Lastly, assuming it’s all true, let’s also assume that it was redistributed ‘fairly” and the poor are now flooded with the money they so desperately deserve/need. I give them all 2 years or less and THEY WILL BE IN THAT POOR 20% AGAIN for the same reason they are often there now. They can’t spend wisely, can’t save and can’t plan for the future. I could count on both hands the people I know that have won the lottery, received SSI settlements, life insurance setttlements, etc etc etc. THEY ARE ALL BROKE now! It isn’t how much you make folks, it’s what you do with it!!!

Father braved her all caps to retort:

How I know is that I relied on experts just like you do when you use your computer.

Here is a graph from 2007 that shows basically what the video said. Here is another one, from the university of California at Santa Cruz. If you need more, try putting “inequality of wealth in the U.S.” into google. It isn’t true because of a snarky “if it’s on the web it has to be true”, it is true because anyone paying attention already knows this and anyone else who is curious but didn’t know didn’t bother to look it up but chose to make sneering gratuitous remarks instead.

As to “THEY WILL BE IN THAT POOR 20% AGAIN…”: Apparently, when you watched it you didn’t pay very close attention; It isn’t 20% that is poor—that is over 40%, and the next 30% of middle class isn’t just a whole lot better off.

Had you paid attention, you would have known the responses on ideal and and how people thought the wealth were divided were taken by a Harvard business economist.

you asked “First off… how do you know his statistics (or ANYONE’s for that matter, are correct and accurate?” Well, since you specifically asked how I know anyone’s statistics are correct and accurate, I have to admit I can’t speak for the accuracy of just anyone. Specifically, I can’t speak for the accuracy of all the claims YOU made. Since I gave some additional sources for verification on the claim of wealth distribution after you asked so nicely, perhaps YOU can provide some sources to back up the wildly speculative claims you made.

I shall eagerly wait to review them.

One last thing….if you want to have civil discussions with research done on political ideas, I’m all in. However, if you want to come on here and make unnecessarily snotty, sneering, snarky remarks, you can expect me to call you out on them. If you demand additional sources for information I post, you damned well better be ready to reciprocate on yours.

Have a nice day.

He also had a zinger earlier in the thread:

The reason we have social programs is because those with the money to donate have not historically done an adequate job of donating. A problem with charitable contributions is that they can get tax breaks for supporting religion, which doesn’t help the bottom 50% at all.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Glodson

    In other news, water is still wet.

    Your dad never ceases to amaze me with how well he can break something like this down, and be politely snarky in his reply. It is pretty cool.

  • John Horstman

    I’m impressed by JT’s dad because I’d have given myself brain damage from *headdesking* too much if I had to deal with this many comments repeating inane, debunked, right-wing memes. Of course! The poor are poor because they suck with money! It has nothing to do with increasingly skewed income distribution, its impacts on wealth distribution, and the cyclical impacts of wealth distribution on future income distribution due to differing access to capitalist income systems like market speculation or even actual investment. Fucking Just Universe fallacy.

    • iknklast

      But, John, didn’t you know that the very fact of being born poor is evidence enough that you “suck with money”? After all, if you were good with money, wouldn’t you have chosen rich parents? Then you could have been sent to the best schools where you would be taught how to make sure you got more money while your employees got poorer.

      And the fact that she lumped SSI entitlements in with the lottery is a good example that she herself “sucks with money”. There is no comparison between winning a large lottery potful, and getting the small amounts that you get on SSI. If they get SSI, they are pretty much doomed to be poor. I know; I spent a number of years working for Social Security, followed by several years drawing it. My check at that time would barely pay the most basic expenses of living a simple, non-plush life. Of course you’re still broke after getting an SSI entitlement; there isn’t enough money there to make you rich. But that just shows the right-wing tenor of her thoughts: the typical idea of the Welfare Queen, sitting back getting lots of money from the government to live a posh life.

      • ButchKitties

        People forget the “skill” aspect of “money management skills” as in these are things that are taught. It’s a chicken/egg situation where Agatha is assuming poor people are poor because they can’t manage their money, when it very well may be that (some) people can’t manage their money because they’ve never had any money to manage before. They’ve had no opportunities to learn or practice those management skills.

        I get the impulse to make Agatha’s assumption. I was raised by two accountants who sat down with me and taught me how to create a budget, taught me how to balance a checkbook, taught me how to calculate credit card interest, etc. I’ve had my own bank accounts from a very young age, so I got to practice those skills early and often. To me it was as normal as being taught to brush my teeth. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized my friends who go into credit card debt were raised by people who had credit card debt. The majority of this debt wasn’t from frivolous purchases, it was for things like the heating bill and groceries. I’d learned to keep all that birthday money socked away for a rainy day. They had never had that birthday money in the first place, and learned that when you don’t have $200 for the month’s heat bill, you put it on the credit card so the heat doesn’t get shut off.

        I spent years giving myself undeserved credit for being a smarter and more responsible person when the truth is I was born on money-planning third base. I’m trying to get over it, but Agatha still thinks she hit a triple.

  • unbound

    In addition to your dad’s zinger, it isn’t just that the wealthiest won’t put in adequate amounts, but that they financially starve the middle classes as well. While the wealthiest continue to receive unwarranted levels of compensation (the CEO for my company got nearly 2 million in stocks (worth closer to 6 million now) as nothing more than a gift just before becoming the CEO…not as part of anything he did, the SEC filings show it as a gift as well), they continue to keep middle class salaries essentially flat for the more than a decade now.

    Every year for over a decade now, I hear the HR of my company follow the same script: if the company didn’t perform well, salaries need to remain flat because the company isn’t doing well; if the company did perform well, salaries need to remain flat because the “market price” for the workers is flat.

  • PhysicsPhDStu

    Hi JT,
    Can you add your Dad in the contributer page and link the tag “Shit My Dad Says” to it ?
    Can you also add the other contributors tag so that we can access all their posts from that page ?

  • baal

    “A problem with charitable contributions is that they can get tax breaks for supporting religion”
    There is a reason why charities get a huge spike in donations right after xmas and before the new year. It’s the wealthy using charitable donations to reduce tax liability.