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tony

Crying Poverty

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i hear a lot of complaining these days  about wages not keeping up and families struggling and I sympathize but sometimes all of us need to look in the mirror and realize that as a culture we have all fallen for the American consumer  trap of wants over needs. Many of us do in fact have it better than we realize and it is  sometimes our own behaviors that cause us our hardships.

Excerpt.

I HAVE BEEN accused of being too critical of America’s spending habits. I’m not in touch with families who live paycheck to paycheck, or so I’m told. I was roundly attacked by folks on Facebook, who claimed I lacked sympathy for the federal workers who ran out of money during the government shutdown—even before they missed a payday.

 

https://humbledollar.com/2019/05/crying-poverty/

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Great to have you back Tony.

Two principles: everything/everybody is interconnected and we lack the balance we require.

Yes the individual should take responsibility for the decisions they make. At the same time, we aren’t born with the belief that our value as human beings can be measured by the things we own. We aren’t born believing that things are just as important (if not more so) than people. This is something we’re taught at an early age and we are social creatures who are heavily influenced by everything around us whether we want to accept it or not.

I’d feel a bit foolish scolding somebody (whether they’re blowing their $1,000/year surplus on shoes or blowing their $100,00/year surplus on a boat and vacation home) too thoroughly for trying to attain success in exactly the way society has defined it for them. At that point I think it would be more useful to have a discussion about whether these purchases bring them anything more than fleeting happiness and what they’re giving up in exchange.

I’d feel incredibly foolish scolding low wage workers who literally don’t have enough to survive when you can clearly see that over the last forty years nearly all of the wealth has shifted to the top.

If I ever talk to an individual, I focus on what they have control over (personal responsibility). If I ever talk to a group, I focus on what they have control over (economic structures and values).

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Thanks Ed

I see you guys have been holding up the fort quite well.

 

My  intention is not to judge or compare. Every culture is different and every human's personal circumstances is different. I get that. Just thought the article was good food for thought.  I  believe in personal empowerment even when folks feel like things may be stacked against them. I've been streamlining my "stuff" somewhat since retirement. I often ask myself now-"why in the heck did we buy that"?  My only answer seems that it just seemed like a good idea at the time. Its been a battle throwing "stuff "out but I'm making progress. I don't own 19 pair of shoes though .

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I know you’re not judging anybody in a negative way. I like the articles you link to.

I’m just reacting to how this article made me feel on a personal level. If the author is going to discuss poverty and responsibility then IMO he must simultaneously acknowledge the realities of our economic structure. As my mom once told me, “I know it’s not fair, but this how you can get by playing their game.”

I grew up on the higher end of poor and worked with pretty poor people. I now have a fancy job and work with people who are decidedly not poor. The poor people worked much harder and were less wasteful (not that they had much choice).

It felt like this article was too focused on individuals’ mistakes. I’ve watched a political party echo that message as they’ve transformed the rules of our economy towards inequality (sometimes in a bipartisan way). They blame my generation’s circumstances on our desire to have avocados and toast for breakfast rather than on the structures they’ve intentionally built. They tell us our collective circumstances are a result of our flawed character rather than the system we were born into. This article reminded me of that type of argument because it was one sided. 

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I truly dislike the principles demonstrated in the blog, including a surprising lack of reflection and introspection. 🤢🙄😔

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4 hours ago, EdLaFave said:

I truly dislike the principles demonstrated in the blog, including a surprising lack of reflection and introspection.

He definitely can touch a nerve at times and not all his blog posts are great. The fact he elicits some negative feedback is a good thing. I enjoy reading diverse opinions. It opens one's mind to the truth which is often individual and personal. I've always believed the old saying that the truth is somewhere in the middle. I must admit that I agree with him that teachers (at least many of  ones I've known) are whiners who always want more but don't often see how they stand in their own way or how good they actually have it. I feel more for the blue collar worker who work a lot longer and a lot harder than most teachers for less benefits but dutifully do their jobs every single day. It's just a personal observation. I am getting more cynical as I get older about the liberal agenda. On the other hand I don't like the capitalist state allowing some of the things that happen in our society. 403b abuse is an example of something I have no tolerance for.  For what its worth I still don't understand the Fire movement and I am not sure I agree with it being realistic. Part me says its just a short term fad. Part of me says its a great movement. I'm open to hearing both sides of the argument.

Question: Is it hypocritical to be against our Capitalist system but investing our money in stocks and bonds and hoping for growth. I have to wonder , don't we invest in some of these big insurance companies when we buy index funds?

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1 hour ago, tony said:

I enjoy reading diverse opinions.

The author received a critique and he responded with a smug follow up post to:

  1. Declare that he was right without addressing the substance of the critique.
  2. Attack the younger generation(s).
  3. ...both of which were an apparent effort to claim victory/superiority over people.
1 hour ago, tony said:

teachers (at least many of  ones I've known) are whiners who always want more but don't often see how they stand in their own way or how good they actually have it

You're describing less than ideal aspects of the human condition. At different points in my life I've been surrounded by the lower end of the income scale and the upper end of the income scale. Based on that experience, the flaws you're describing become more pronounced and severe the further up the income scale you go. I have no experience or evidence to suggest that teachers are somehow inferior to their peers in this respect.

1 hour ago, tony said:

I feel more for the blue collar worker who work a lot longer and a lot harder than most teachers for less benefits but dutifully do their jobs every single day.

A common technique to wiggle out of addressing one group's grievances is to point to another group as being either more worthy or more to blame. Whenever I see anything that gets remotely close to this divide and conquer territory (intentional or not), I want to explicitly point it out and refocus on the issue at hand.

1 hour ago, tony said:

I am getting more cynical as I get older about the liberal agenda.

I'm not sure what you believe the liberal agenda is or how it applies to the discussion. The Republican economic agenda has basically been:

  1. Diminish unions.
  2. Don't enforce anti-trust.
  3. Minimize the minimum wage.
  4. Minimize requirements to pay overtime.
  5. Cut taxes for the wealthy (individual rates, estate tax, corporate rates, etc).
  6. Cut the social safety net (social security, medicare, medicaid, ACA, patient protections, etc.)
  7. Stop fully funded public colleges and universities.
  8. Deregulate industries.
  9. ...I'm sure there's more, but you get the point.

So when you hear workers give voice to their economic conditions are you hearing it as a political critique against the Republican agenda? What is your opposition based in?

1 hour ago, tony said:

For what its worth I still don't understand the Fire movement and I am not sure I agree with it being realistic. Part me says its just a short term fad. Part of me says its a great movement

What don't you understand?

Retiring early (by that I mean, in your 30s or 40s) is absolutely unrealistic for the majority of workers because they don't earn enough money. That's just a simple math equation. Go get yourself a six figure income and it becomes quite realistic.

I'm not sure how "new" or "popular" FIRE is. Certainly it's gotten press thanks to a rather noisy online subculture, but I'm not sure we're seeing more early retirees than we saw in previous decades. I haven't seen any data.

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