Tag: the poor

Dave Ramsey channels Ebeneezer Scrooge

Dave Ramsey

We can thank Dave Ramsey for bringing clarity to the economic justice debate.  Ramsey wasn’t trying to shock and dismay thinking Christians, mind you, it was all very accidental.  He innocently published Tom Corley’s “20 Things the Rich Do Every Day: So what do the rich do every day that the poor don’t do?”  After giving us his list, Corley says:

I spent 5 years studying the daily activities of 233 wealthy people and 128 poor people.  What I discovered was that wealthy people have vastly different daily habits than poor people.  In fact, I tracked 140 daily activities that separate the wealthy from the poor and in this article I will highlight 20 of these activities. These Rich Habits are the financial equivalent of the Holy Grail. Because there is no research like this of any kind, these discoveries are revolutionary and will challenge everything you thought you knew about becoming wealthy.  The Rich Habits will transform your life from one of financial failure to one of unlimited financial success beginning in as little as thirty days. I will show you how easy it is to reinvent yourself in these 30 days.  In order to become wealthy you must learn how to walk in the footsteps of the wealthy . . .

Notice, Corley isn’t saying that the impact of poverty is worsened by poor decision making; poverty, in this view, is caused by those choices.  There are no other contributing factors.  Losing your job, a major illness, a serious downturn in the economy, a major drop in the value of your home, taking a leave of absence to care for a dying loved one . . . none of that stuff has anything to do with your economic standing.  It’s all about you and the decisions you make. (more…)

Fred Clark: Victor Hugo’s theory for why the rich resent the poor

Victor Hugo’s theory for why the rich resent the poor

Posted: 17 Aug 2013 11:17 PM PDT

Chris Hedges sent me looking for this, from Victor Hugo in Les Miserables:

On the part of the selfish, the prejudices, shadows of costly education, appetite increasing through intoxication, a giddiness of prosperity which dulls, a fear of suffering which, in some, goes as far as an aversion for the suffering, an implacable satisfaction, the I so swollen that it bars the soul . . .

That’s harsh. It’s particularly harsh because it’s so precisely accurate.

“A fear of suffering which, in some, goes as far as an aversion for the suffering” diagnoses the disease now afflicting American politics. Whether it’s food stamps or gun safety, lead and mercury poisoning or substandard schools, access to health care or the dual mandate of the Fed, this is what shapes our discourse.

This accounts for the great mystery at the heart of American politics — the backwards flow of resentment. In America, the wealthy resent the poor, the powerful resent the powerless, the well-fed resent the hungry, leaders of the dominant religion resent religious minorities, privileged whites resent people of color, privileged men resent women.

This is an enigma. It seems impossible. The poor do not deprive the rich, so how is it even possible for the rich to resent them? We can understand how the downtrodden might resent those who have beaten them down, but what possible reason could there be for those at the top to resent those they grind beneath them? There is no rational basis for this resentment — no way of explaining it.

Hugo offers a theory: The fear of suffering can fester into an aversion for all who suffer. Those who suffer are a reminder of the thing we fear. And so we come to resent those who suffer, and therefore we seek to punish them.

That fits the confounding facts. It helps us to understand the disgraceful, gravity-defying miracle of reverse resentment.