December 9, 2013

Why Linda Tirado? Why not a genuine poor person?

As you've no doubt heard, Linda Tirado recently published a wildly popular essay about why her poverty forces her to make impoverishing decisions:
This Is Why Poor People's Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense 
There's no way to structure this coherently. They are random observations that might help explain the mental processes. But often, I think that we look at the academic problems of poverty and have no idea of the why. We know the what and the how, and we can see systemic problems, but it's rare to have a poor person actually explain it on their own behalf. So this is me doing that, sort of. 
Rest is a luxury for the rich. ...

(Which might comes as surprise to intern MD's, lawyers who haven't made partner, untenured professors, entrepreneurs, and so forth, but never mind.)

Kind-hearted people immediately sent her $60,000, which she took to Las Vegas.

Not surprisingly, it turns out Ms. Tirado comes from an upper middle class background (e.g., she could have been a boarding student at Cranbrook School, where Mitt Romney matriculated). And she isn't all that poor in income. Her husband is in the military (soldiers aren't well paid, but they are a lot better paid than they were pre-1981). And her parents help her out.

(Since the exposure of her actual story, she now seems to emphasize her personal mental health problems as the root of her problems, which is kind of the opposite of the original moral of the story.)

The question I want to ask is this: In America, there are millions and millions of genuinely born-poor-and-stayed-that-way people. And yet, none of them managed to exploit this evident opportunity as effectively as this child of privilege. Why not?

My impression is that Tirado smartly exploited a meme that has been hot in what we might call the Gladwellsphere ever since the publication on August 20, 2013 of a paper in Science:
Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function
The poor often behave in less capable ways, which can further perpetuate poverty. We hypothesize that poverty directly impedes cognitive function and present two studies that test this hypothesis. First, we experimentally induced thoughts about finances and found that this reduces cognitive performance among poor but not in well-off participants. Second, we examined the cognitive function of farmers over the planting cycle. We found that the same farmer shows diminished cognitive performance before harvest, when poor, as compared with after harvest, when rich. This cannot be explained by differences in time available, nutrition, or work effort. Nor can it be explained with stress: Although farmers do show more stress before harvest, that does not account for diminished cognitive performance. Instead, it appears that poverty itself reduces cognitive capacity. We suggest that this is because poverty-related concerns consume mental resources, leaving less for other tasks. These data provide a previously unexamined perspective and help explain a spectrum of behaviors among the poor. We discuss some implications for poverty policy.

For an example of how welcome this study was to the conventional wisdom, here's Matthew Yglesias summarizing the meme in Slate on September 3:
Bad Decisions Don’t Make You Poor. Being Poor Makes for Bad Decisions.

In other words, this study was welcome fodder in the constant hunger for clickbait about how "Republicans Are Wrong Because Science." Lots of other publications in what you might call the semi-bright realm of the media, The Atlantic, NPR, etc., made a big, big deal over this. So the market was primed for somebody like Tirado who has the kind of rhetorical skills that appeal to SWPLs (despite all her complaints that lack of money has lowered her IQ, she's a deft writer who understands what her market wants to hear) to step forward with the seeming inside skinny that personalizes this popular meme.

Among people born poor who have stayed that way, however, few can write as well as Tirado; but I have to imagine that in a country as large as America, there must be some who can.

More subtle roadblocks to an actual poor person cashing in the way Ms. Tirado has include:

Genuine poor people, in contrast, don't really pay much attention to the Huffington Post and the like and aren't really that interested in the partisan battles that consume so many people of higher classes.

Moreover, genuine poor people tend to have attitudes and beliefs and ways of expressing them that are distinctly off-putting to SWPLs. But real poor people are seldom sensitive enough to the class marker aversions of the upper middle class to write a long essay that avoids stepping on any of those class land mines. For example, Tirado smokes cigarettes -- a prole habit these days -- but the way she verbally rationalizes her smoking as a manifestation of her victimhood is upscale. That's a tricky combination to pull off.

In other words, it really is better to be from an upper middle class background. People will treat you nicer, as they've treated Ms. Tirado.

And it's better to be intelligent enough -- even if you are signally lacking in Executive Function -- to pick up quickly on the ideas filtering down from the upper reaches of society the way that Ms. Tirado jumped all over the "Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function" boomlet.

P.S., In contrast, Audacious Epigone writes an essay, based on General Social Survey data, about what a typical underclass woman would say if she could write as well as Tirado and were honest.

For more insights into the complex interplay of poverty and bad decisions, here is The Onion's opinion columnist Amber Richardson's trenchant essay Why Somebody Always Around Every Time I Drop My Baby? Other illuminating efforts by Ms. Richardson are here, here, and here.

72 comments:

Anonymous said...

>>"The question I want to ask is this: In America, there are millions and millions of genuinely born-poor-and-stayed-that-way people. And yet, none of them managed to exploit this evident opportunity as effectively as this child of privilege. Why not?"



Steve, Steve. If the question has to be asked then...well....


Here's the thing. One prominent example of genuinely born poor and stayed that way, one prominent example who would be an actual "name" due to some recent fame, would be one Rachel Jeantel.

NOW THEN....


How come none of the powers that be, the educated hoity toity high filutin "right sort" of folks don't ask Rachel Jeantel to write an article on the plight of the poor? Regarding authenticity and expressing an opinion on behalf of her fellow impoverished classes, Jeantel could obviously fit the bill.

And yet, the Huffington Post does not decide to approach Rachel Jeantel directly and ask her to write an article about the poor.

Why not?

How come?

The question is a fair one.

The answer......is staring us all.....in the face.

Anonymous said...

Psychometrician Jelte Wicherts and a colleague have written a critique of the "poverty makes you stupid" study. The results appear to rely on questionable methodological choices and bad tests.

As a general rule, if a study on IQ is published in a top non-specialist journal like Science, and is written by non-psychometricians, it's almost certainly garbage.

eah said...

Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function

Just thinking about not being poor has already given me a great idea: I'll hit GoFundMe.com and tell everyone that if they'll give me money I'll be a genius in no time.

This internet thing is just too cool.

Brooklyn Girl said...

She received a scholarship to Cranbrook but didn't go.

You want to make the case that she's a grifter? At least do so without playing word games designed to mislead people.

Cail Corishev said...

The thing I've noticed about smart people who are poor due to bad decisions is that they always manage to stay barely afloat. They may pay all their bills on the last possible day before disconnection, run a month or more behind on their rent, and have all their credit cards maxed out. But they manage to tread water at that point, not falling further behind and ending up actually homeless or in jail. So it's clear that, if they hadn't gotten behind in the first place, they would have been able to keep up -- even better than keep up, since they wouldn't be paying late fees and overdrafts. They also know who can/will help them out, and how much they can lean on that help. They're smart enough to keep out of the actual poorhouse, but not disciplined enough to do any better than that.

Stupid poor people, on the other hand, don't have the ability to stay just out of serious trouble.

Anonymous said...

Looks more like charity was the problem in her case.

Chicago said...

The term "poor" is usually used to evoke emotion while at the same time serving as a smoke screen. The category is just a huge grab-bag with all sorts of people in it. If it just means receiving less than a certain number of dollars each month then a laid off middle-aged worker with no insurance and who suffered a stroke gets categorized in with the burly ex-con who just got paroled; both are low income. Ditto for all the addicts and winos roaming the streets, they're all poor too. Most people make a distinction between circumstances beyond one's control and lying in the bed that one has made. Drama queen Linda is just retailing pity to all the soft-hearted people out there in internet-land.

Anonymous said...

Poor people do not have the intelligence to promote their interests so they do it through proxy. This woman is not a good proxy however...

Whiskey said...

The big class distinction in poverty is not IQ, and poverty does not make you stupid, but the lack of income cushion to make reasonably well paying off investments: such as education (still), skills training, eating better (good food is expensive), exercise (takes time which poor people don't have much of), and violence avoidance (it is expensive).

This creates different behavior, constrained by cash flow.

Think of poor people as cash flow constrained corporations. Xerox and Kodak did not suddenly get stupid overnight; their corporations hold literally thousands of ground breaking patents as does Nokia. But marketplace changes constrained their cash flow and force them to burn their assets (patent sales) just to keep afloat.

Mark Plus said...

Americans in this compromised economic reality need to stop taking their living standards and lifestyles for granted and start to run their lives as financial projects so that we can avoid the Texas shanty towns and bean diets our elites have provided for us. Though again that gets into IQ issues. I doubt the Jeantels of the world can understand how to use a spreadsheet program.

peterike said...

Things are so rough on the "poor" that New York State is struggling mightily to pass a bill preventing them from using their EBT cards for "booze, lap dances and cigarettes" and at casinos.

I guess being poor really does make you stupid, and not the other way around.

http://nypost.com/2013/12/08/bid-to-nix-welfare-spending-on-booze-cigarettes-and-lap-dances/

Anonymous said...

"Being Poor Makes for Bad Decisions"
Go back far enough in time and then eventually every single person in the world will find their ancestors were poor.

Clearly some did manage to make good decisions, societies that allowed the good decision makers to advance and societies that had a greater inherent potential to produce these kind of people, are the ones that produced the greatest wealth. Since both these ideas are not supported by liberals, don't expect them to solve the poor people problem, rather it will just get worse.

Dave Pinsen said...

Can you explain why poor people don't have much time, Whiskey?

Anonymous said...

>> Dave Pinsen said...
Can you explain why poor people don't have much time, Whiskey?"



Exactly. That doesnt make any sense. If anything, the poor have waaaay too much time on their hands. They don't work the number of hours per day that the wealthy generally do. In most cases, they actually work a lot less.

So its not time that the poor are lacking. And there are plenty of exercises that are free.

Ultimately, do the poor want to better themselves? Are they into self-improvement as opposed to self-indulgent?

Answer: NO

Anonymous said...

Tirado sounds like a despicable character in every regard.

Virtually all progressives have been in the upper 1/2 of the SES distribution their whole lives and have no idea what it's like to live on a tight budget. It's hilarious to hear them pontificate on the plight of the poor. They would have us believe that millions of Americans live the lifestyle of an impoverished factory worker in Dickensian England.

Two people working 40 hours a week at minimum wage have more than enough money to get by and raise two kids (in most parts of the country). I'm under no delusions that they'll enjoy an opulent existence, but they can live a life that most people 40 years ago would have considered solidly middle class. A case can be made for reducing income inequality without hyperbole about the experience of being poor.

Psychometrician Jelte Wicherts and a colleague have written a critique of the "poverty makes you stupid" study. The results appear to rely on questionable methodological choices and bad tests.

Wicherts is one of the leading figures in psychometrics today, in my opinion. He's something I admire tremendously: a proper scientist who believes in doing careful work and trying to discover what's actually true rather than attempting to prove what's popular, ideologically convenient, or profitable.

jgress said...

Do you consider untenured professors rich? It seems to me all those classes of struggling professionals may potentially become rich, but at the time of their struggling they are usually burdened with massive debt and can hardly be called rich, which really only proves her point.

Just Another Guy With a 1911 said...

No real mystery here. If you think about it - Tirado is merely composing a Marxist and neo-pagan "Symphony in C."

http://youtu.be/hbjOEnxTF8c

Instead of polyphony evoking the endless space and thrusting cathedrals of the Faustian soul - grasping at the shrouded answer to the mystery and riddle of the world - a partial musical adumbration of the eternal, bankrolled by a member of the elite chasing immortality of some sort of the other, we have, instead, the reportage of Senora Tirado (surely, a Conquistador-American).

Instead of financial support of the Austrian nobleman to compose the eponymous symphony, she captures the attention, subscription, and support of the squalid, narcissistic nabobs who use her stories to feed the furnace of their indignation as thoughts of "racism" dance in their heads.

These noble and sensitive souls, driven to depression, restless nights, and, frankly,crazy pants incoherence over the fate of secular saint Solomon Northrop, recognize the original sin of the WEST that perpetuates this heinous evil, this web of inaction that entangles tawny and lithe limbs Senor Tirado. If only she was blessed with that ineffable quality of "privilege" Oh wait - er - move it along. Nothing to see. Obama. Ice Machines.

But alas - it is original sin of the WEST that laid Tirado low,and only they, the anointed, can expiate it. For the NPR tells them so. Only until the last white man on earth has been reduced to servitude to his noble brown brothers and/or slowly eliminated in the quite pogroms of anarcho-tyranny, will the scales be balanced. Of course, someone, some group will need to lead.

As Del Shannon said - I wonder who will stay.

Portlander said...

Rest is a luxury for the rich. ...

(Which might comes as surprise to intern MD's, lawyers who haven't made partner, untenured professors, entrepreneurs, and so forth, but never mind.)


Well, strictly speaking those are not rich either. Yet, at least. They are paying their dues, investing, which is something rich people do.

However, your point still stands. There is a group that is rich and doesn't have the luxury of rest. They are mostly in fly-over red states, so are completely foreign and out of mind to the coastal blue state-ers that run in the Atlantic, NPR, NYT's circles: the small business owners of skilled manufacturing, engineering, and contracting. They work like dogs trying to scrap out a little extra something while being squeezed between the foreign wage arb mega-multinationals enjoy and the bleed-my-heart-with-someone-else's wallet that liberals in govt enjoy.

Dave Pinsen said...

"Exactly. That doesnt make any sense. If anything, the poor have waaaay too much time on their hands. They don't work the number of hours per day that the wealthy generally do. In most cases, they actually work a lot less.

So its not time that the poor are lacking. And there are plenty of exercises that are free.

Ultimately, do the poor want to better themselves? Are they into self-improvement as opposed to self-indulgent?

Answer: NO"


Broadly speaking, there are three motivations for people to work hard:

1) They have to to survive.

2) They see an opportunity to get ahead by working hard.

3) They have religious or moral reasons for doing so (e.g., Calvinists, or those inculcated with similar traditions).

All of these motivations are weakened in modern America: we have a safety net that provides housing, food, medical care, and small amounts of pocket money to the poor; we have an economy with fewer opportunities for the average or below average individual to get ahead; and the Calvinist tradition seems to be limited to the self-actualizing class.

jody said...

how do they explain athletes being paid 100 million dollars over a 10 year career, then being broke 5 years later?

do the cognitive improvements only kick in after you have been rich for 20 years or something?

Anonymous said...

The very first comment at Huffpo on this piece attacked republicans for not supporting a higher minimum wage. But I bet these Huffpo folks fully support amnesty and continued immigration.

Someone needs to educate them on the laws of supply and demand. It is not the minimum wage, but excess labor supply that is driving wages down These folks either can't or won't make this connection. I guess they think once they get their insurmountable electoral advantage, they will implement all their pet social projects and all will be well.

God help us.

Svigor said...

How did Europe escape poverty? How did Japan? How is China escaping poverty? How did Jews come here from eastern Europe and go from 0 to 60 in so little time?

God came down and stuffed all their pockets with gold?

Why does poverty seem to afflict certain groups far more reliably than others, despite widely varying geographic, circumstantial, and cultural factors? E.g., poverty is much more reliably found among blacks than any of the things white people blame for that poverty. Poverty and low IQ seem to be almost as much a part of blackness as black skin does.

themaskedavenger said...

Audacious Epigone is anti-poor.
The problem is not the with the poor, it is with the Masters. They run things, not the poor.
Get Out! Get Out! Swarmy global hyperclass!

Anonymous said...

Hey Steve, any update on whether those "youths" were American?

http://isteve.blogspot.com/2013/09/minnesota-youth-runs-amok-in-nairobi.html

Anonymous said...

It was mentioned here that the poor do not hang out in places like Slate or Huffington Post, I also think this is probably true. The question I have is where the poor hang out on the internet ? If I had to guess, could it be Youtube ? I base this on the usual disdain that the people at Slate and other liberal hangouts have for the comments quality there, its the rich looking at the great unwashed masses of comments there. Personally I love a lot of the Youtube comments, a lot of them are sincere and to the point, no convoluted intellectual circle jerks.

Having said all that though, being able to access the internet should not earn one the poor label, compared to the real poor people in the world that have no electricity or running water, they are are not poor.

Anthony said...

Megan McArdle has covered how decisions that poor peopole make which keep them poor actually make some sense, far better than Ms. Tirado. For people from poor-folk environments, leaning on family to make it through the roughest patches is pretty much the only way to survive. Unfortunately, that means that as soon as one has a little surplus saved up, one will be leaned on by some other family member. Breaking out of this trap requires bailing out on one's family, which is *hard*.

peterike said...

how do they explain athletes being paid 100 million dollars over a 10 year career, then being broke 5 years later?

Heh. Apropos of this, the current New York Review of Books has a review of the new Mike Tyson autobiography, reviewed by (of all people!) Joyce Carol Oates.

Ms. Oates writes the following:

when the auditing is done, often it is found that, after having made many millions of dollars for himself and others, the boxer is near-penniless, if not in debt to the IRS, and must declare bankruptcy (Joe Louis, Ray Robinson, Leon Spinks, Tommy Hearns, Evander Hollyfield, Mike Tyson, among others).

She finds nothing of note in that list of names. Nothing that ties them together other than boxing. Nothing at all.

Anononymous said...

August 20, 2013 of a paper in Science:
Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function
poverty directly impedes cognitive function


Scientific vindication of aristocracy? Better to keep positions of responsibility away from the cognitively-impaired poor.

countenance said...

Or, it could be as simple as an axiom that was pounded into my head 50 million ways to Sunday when I was growing up, but I didn't quite grok (*) the meaning until I was a young adult:

Poor people have poor ways.

(*) - Robert Heinlein is going to be inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians. I'm shocked that he wasn't already there.

Anonymous said...

Australian property owner shot by tenant's millionaire father.

Detroit lottery millionaire guilty of Australian's murder

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-07-17/family-welcomes-detroit-murder-verdict/4135730

Monroe Ficus said...

The scary thing is if amnesty II comes true, plus a min wage of $15. How would that work? Would there be newly legal immigrants working black market jobs instead of the other way around? Or would they all get on the dole? How about the specter of robo workforce? Or is the use of robots only for those benevolent nonracist Japanese?

Ed said...

Or you can do what the NY Times did, pay an upper middle class reporter to follow a poor Black family for a year or so.

It's actually a very good story probably Pulitzer worthy. Unfortunately for liberals though the family probably isn't the best one to highlight the magnificence of their ideology.
http://www.nytimes.com/projects/2013/invisible-child

Anonymous said...

"In America, there are millions and millions of genuinely born-poor-and-stayed-that-way people. And yet, none of them managed to exploit this evident opportunity as effectively as this child of privilege. Why not?"

Well, there is Cracked.com's John Cheese.

http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-things-nobody-tells-you-about-being-poor/

http://www.cracked.com/article_18824_5-things-nobody-tells-you-about-quitting-drinking.html

http://www.cracked.com/article_19030_quitting-smoking-6-things-you-notice-about-stupid-world.html

http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-ways-methamphetamine-can-make-you-new-person/ (He's not a meth-head, he just lives in Meth Country.)

--Discordiax

Anonymous said...

"Two people working 40 hours a week at minimum wage have more than enough money to get by and raise two kids (in most parts of the country)."

Crazy talk. Leave it to libertarian aspies or prole conservatives (most of whom are poor themselves, ironically) to minimize the hardship and overall suckiness of being poor.

Poor whites who espouse such politics must be overcome with a case of impenetrable denial over their station in life.

Soundboard said...

"Bad Decisions Don’t Make You Poor. Being Poor Makes for Bad Decisions."

Yglesias is just displaying a usual fallacy in liberal thinking- take one potentially promising point that comes up, and stretch it to explain far more things that you have no real support for than it possibly ever could. Then write off every raised eyebrow as 'racism', 'sexism', 'cis-privilege', or some other nonsense, because it must be right because it lets me pretend I am right.

It may be true that if you are concerned about how you are going to pay the rent, you may be more likely to not worry about whether all your i's are dotted and t's are crossed (OTOH, you may be more concerned about it if you're bright, as it is even more critical that you don't lose your job or flunk a class), but does it really explain away that making bad decisions will make you poor? And bad decision making in the first place can put you into the tough spot.

Further, I wonder whether you can even take this one study about farmers at certain times of the year and extrapolate it to urban poor anyway. So be skeptical of liberal pronouncements like these that claim to 'prove' anything like a magic bullet.

I have to agree with Cail, that if you're bright, you'll probably figure out how to make ends meet even if your cash flow is low (like when you're in college or just starting out). And as plenty of celebrities and progeny of the rich and famous have shown us, you can have money out the wazoo and still end up in bankruptcy if you're dumb as a bag of rocks.

I also think there are other factors here that may play an even bigger role in whether you're poor than IQ, like future orientation and impulsiveness, or a behavioral/genetic tendency towards addictions. Of course, brown people don't come up so good on these scales either.

Anonymous said...

>>" Anonymous said...
"Two people working 40 hours a week at minimum wage have more than enough money to get by and raise two kids (in most parts of the country)."

Crazy talk. Leave it to libertarian aspies or prole conservatives (most of whom are poor themselves, ironically) to minimize the hardship and overall suckiness of being poor.

Poor whites who espouse such politics must be overcome with a case of impenetrable denial over their station in life."






Way way way way wait. Hold it. Where exactly are the poor whites going to go? The Democrats lonnng ago gave up on them and left them high and dry in the ditch for the blacks, gays, the environment etc. All those SWPL causes that are mostly upper middle and upper classes stuff.

FACT: The Democrats DONT give a damn about the working poor or the "deserving" (mostly white) poor! They havent in decades. If they did, think they'd have passed NAFTA and other such trade agreements? Think they'd have stood by and allowed outsourcing as well as amnesty to continue? Also they are largely supportive of the H1B Visa program.

FACT: Over 90% of the Unions are now GOVERNMENT/PUBLIC SECTOR UNIONS! Very few private sector unions in number any more.

The Democrats haven't spoken for the common working man in near 50 yrs.

NOW THEN: AND AGAIN.....Where exactly are the white working poor going to go?

We haz pickle, we does.

Anonymous said...

A representative group of Chinese born into extraordinary poverty (the equivalent of less than $1000 per person per year) nevertheless averaged more than 100 when their IQs were tested in middle school (where 100 = British whites in 1979). Impoverished Mongols born after 1990 averaged 100.

Blacks from households with incomes of more than $100,000 (in today's terms) scored worse on the math SAT than whites and Asians with incomes of less than $16,000.

Sorry Matt Yglesias.

Maxwell Power said...

Jack London she ain't. The noose hangers and hardscrabble hoaxers have a key thing in common: they've figured out their mark to a T, but the shaky coherence of their argument isn't intended to advance some political coalition, just their own immediate objectives. A while ago Mickey Kaus wrote on a foodie blogger who did A Year On Food Stamps. (The young woman, who looked as if she could be from any Lena Dunham project, turned out to be from the mean streets of Ann Arbor or somesuch) In her magazine article the blogger had bragged about how easy it was to get on SNAP over the phone with no real verification procedure. Kaus observed this was the type of person the USDA would try to hush up during the next round of Congressional food-stamp theater

Maxwell Power said...

See my forthcoming airport hardcover "Thinking Poor Dad, Thinking Rich Dad: The Power of Not Being Underprivileged During Thought"

You've got to be carefully taught said...

Barbara Ehrenreich's book about her pretending to be a cleaning lady/waitress/masseuse/etc. is on a lot of poli sci and sociology reading lists; I mean for-credit courses that cost tuition. To me this episode with the wonderfully named Tirado shows the tradition of the higher-ed biz passing on society's higherest values--resentment, casuistic rhetoric, melodrama, and so forth--to the young.

Anonymous said...

I think I saw this show on cable--"The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Linda Tirado"

Eric said...

The scary thing is if amnesty II comes true, plus a min wage of $15. How would that work? Would there be newly legal immigrants working black market jobs instead of the other way around? Or would they all get on the dole? How about the specter of robo workforce? Or is the use of robots only for those benevolent nonracist Japanese?

They newly legal immigrants will go on the dole. They won't have a choice because the country will be swamped with another wave of illegals intent on making it in for the next amnesty. The new illegals will work all the sub-minimum jobs.

And yeah, get used to ordering fast food from a touch screen.

jody said...

"The scary thing is if amnesty II comes true, plus a min wage of $15. How would that work?"

this is how it will work. the new 'americans' will be US citizens so they will be subject to PPACA, which means employers will have to pay for their health insurance if they work more than 29 hours a week. many employers will instead seek out yet another wave of illegal aliens, who they can have work 40 hours a week, since they are not citizens and not subject to PPACA, and who they can pay less than 15 dollars an hour, since they are not citizens and not subject to minimum wage laws.

some employers who cannot get access to illegal aliens will be put out of business. they will be forced to hire the new 'americans' for 15 dollars an hour but only be able to employ them for 29 hours a week. that won't last for long against

1) automation
2) employers who can hire illegal aliens

sunbeam said...

Funny. In my experience, the more money you make, the less you actually do.

Tell me, do any of you have any respect for the intellect or talent of a media person? I don't. I think I could swing a dead cat in a subway and hit any number of people who could do Tom Friedman's job.

As nearly as I can tell, being photogenic and having a totally neutral accent are the only real requirements for being a newscaster or weatherman (yeah right, I believe some of those guys understand fronts and pressure, odds are if you do you aren't telegenic, and that's the real no no).

Yet a lot of these guys make beaucoup money.

Do you guys know any poor people? At all? Try getting ahead with two part time jobs making minimum wage or close to it.

I've been around college professors, businessmen, executives, salesmen, and many other types of people I could make a long list naming.

In my experience if you do something that is easily quantifiable and measurable, that is the point where Poindexter in the corner office starts quantizing you to maximize profit and put on the thumbscrews.

I've also noted that many, if not most job openings aren't exactly awarded on the basis of pure "merit," whatever that may be exactly. Quite often the best way to get a job is to have a contact on the inside.

Plus the less money you have, the more money people take. If you have never seen it, you can't imagine the ways people have to take a few percent at a time from you. From check cashing, usurious interest rates based on credit ratings, rent, there is literally no end to it, besides the obvious things like overpriced convenience store food.

It takes a lot of discipline to stick to the bean and rice diet. It takes a lot of money in this country to buy the kinds of foods that well off people and Germans take for granted.

Tell ya what. Put yourself in my hands. I'll take all your money, put it in escrow, and send you to a destination of my choosing. Work the job I pick for you. In one to three years say (I don't want you to know you escape at at a certain point), we'll check to see how disciplined you were.

My guess is when you have to do everything yourself, from cutting the grass, to fixing your car, to toting clothes to the laundromat, to any number of other things I can come up with, you aren't going to be so froggy.

Ah, who am I kidding? A couple years of no hope, dead end living, and I'll have another batch of cigarette smoking drunks cross addicted to sugar and fat to stick with the West Virginia collection.

At least at this point, you might be interesting. Not just another metrosexual hipster with trendy glass frames.

Anonymous said...

One of the many problems poor people have is that if you're poor, your relatives tend to be poor as well. So once you come up on a little bit of money, you're relatives all swarm you and try to mooch off you. It can be hard to resist family, so many poor people spend that money right away instead of saving or investing it. If you spend your money on new hubcaps or a big screen TV, your cousin can't ask you for it. But of course, spending the money right away keeps you poor.

Steve Sailer said...

Yeah, you might need a "cunning peasant" culture, like in "Jean de Florette."

AmericanGoy said...

The first poster nailed it.

Anonymous said...

LInda Tirado shot herself in the foot with that gofundme. She shystered $60 grand out of the American public. But by doing so she probably did herself out of a book contract. She posted on Groupthink that she only has three months to come up with a book. But then she headed off to Santa Barbara to hang out with a "celebrity homeless dude". Without her new "grifter" reputation, I think she would have gotten a signature on a contract from a gullible agent & publisher. One thing she does have in common with the poor is indeed a lack of cognitive skills and strategic thinking!

Steve Sailer said...

Why write a book if you can be on TV?

Dental makeover!

Anonymous said...

And yet, the Huffington Post does not decide to approach Rachel Jeantel directly and ask her to write an article about the poor.

Why not?

How come?


Who said she was poor?

countenance said...

"The scary thing is if amnesty II comes true, plus a min wage of $15. How would that work?"

A whole lot of people working for less than minimum wage.

Foreign Expert said...

Low-income is not poor. If you have glass windows, electricity, and running water, you are not poor.

Anonymous said...

>>"Anonymous said...
And yet, the Huffington Post does not decide to approach Rachel Jeantel directly and ask her to write an article about the poor.

Why not?

How come?

Who said she was poor?"





Why, what have you heard that proves she's rich?
Thought so.



Jeantel is also representative of the authentically poor or rather one who definitely comes from an impoverished background.

But then, SWPL dont really want to deal with such authentically impoverished persons as Jeantel. They'd much rather have far leftist socialist Barbara Ernennich play act at pretending to be "poor" in order to whack white people over the head with the old shame game "How can we as a society not face up to the fact that millions of destitute, down and out, forgotten pathetic types exist in our daily lives? How can we as a society not care about our fellow man?? What must we do to improve the situation AND shouldn't the government step in and do something right now!"



That's what the influential SWPLs want to hear. They want to feel phony pathos over such nameless and preferably in the background invisible people and pretend to care about problems that largely don't directly affect them in any personal way.

Rachel Jeantel brings the reality home in a personal way and that the SWPLs would much prefere to ignore.

Jeantel's the "wrong sort" to discuss the realities of poverty. One might not get the right message: namely, that the poor are all sweet, innocent victims who are trying hard to do well and care about their fellow man even more so than the upper classes. Also, the poor are just as well educated as the rich but haven't any opportunities.

Jeantel brings it all home and back to reality and not in a rose colored glasses way that SWPL truly cherish when discussing the poor and their plight.

Long live Rachel Jeantel!!!

Anonymous said...

Steve, her parents didn't just help her out, they actually bought her a house. She posted about expensive decorating ideas she had for that house under the exact same screen name she made her "poverty thoughts" rant under. Nobody bothered to check it. The link is absolutely precious:

http://groupthink.jezebel.com/dear-hivemind-1443909523

The teeth situation is another obvious lie: military dental insurance isn't great, but it's good, and you could probably fix your teeth for about the same amount as it would take to decorate your kid's room like a forest.

But everyone is focusing on "OMG, can this woman *really* be poor when her parents are UMC?" rather than the fact that she is a documented liar who should be getting investigated for fraud. It's bizarre.

Anonymous said...

peterike said...
Ms. Oates writes the following:

when the auditing is done, often it is found that, after having made many millions of dollars for himself and others, the boxer is near-penniless, if not in debt to the IRS, and must declare bankruptcy (Joe Louis, Ray Robinson, Leon Spinks, Tommy Hearns, Evander Hollyfield, Mike Tyson, among others).

She finds nothing of note in that list of names. Nothing that ties them together other than boxing. Nothing at all.

======================


I am no fan of her work, but I'm pretty sure that Ms Oates knew exactly what she was doing there.

Anonymous said...

It was mentioned here that the poor do not hang out in places like Slate or Huffington Post, I also think this is probably true. The question I have is where the poor hang out on the internet ? If I had to guess, could it be Youtube ? I base this on the usual disdain that the people at Slate and other liberal hangouts have for the comments quality there, its the rich looking at the great unwashed masses of comments there. Personally I love a lot of the Youtube comments, a lot of them are sincere and to the point, no convoluted intellectual circle jerks.

I think rich liberals have more compassion for poor whites than conservatives do. While rich liberals put down the south they put it down since they think lower middle class Republicans are stupid to care about tax cuts for the Koch brothers and Rush Limbaugh who makes 40 miilion a year from radio. Both leftie Barry Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are against fast track trade while Ted Cruz and Mike Lee support it. Also, the Democrats supported a rise in the minimum wage to 10 while the Republicans opposed it. Democrats support legalizing illegals but there are plenty of republicans that do. I use to buy into the liberal elite thinking but the Republicans that support that thinking like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham make a 7 figure income a year from radio.

Anonymous said...

>>"I think rich liberals have more compassion for poor whites than conservatives do"


And yet you give NO EVIDENCE AT ALL for this line of thinking. NONE. The liberal politicians policies are at best a mixed bag, at worst

If you can't cite any direct proof that rich liberals have more compassion for the poor whites (when they don't) rather than see that all they care about is their own class of "right sort" of folks.

No, the main reason WHY rich liberals put down the South is because of the values that they espouse. Religiosity, in particular is a major turn off to most rich white liberals. They tolerate it from minorities since they well understand that the minorities use religion as a pathway to advance black liberation theology (which actually has more in common with white liberalism than with traditional Christianity).

AGAIN, FINISH THE SENTENCE: Most of the Democrats supported NAFTA. Blue Collar Bill Clinton signed it into law. Democrats for the most part have strongly supported free trade policies and are currently back such policies to the hilt. They have not supported the white working man for decades.

See, you have to finish the sentence, conclude the train of thought and not just act all Karl and Karla Marx lite wannabe. Finish the train of thought.

Or is this yet another example of Rachel Jeantel's brighter cousin?

pat said...

Linda Tirado finds broccoli intimidating?

I ate worse than she does when I was her age. I was such a bad cook, I ate Jello powder straight out of box. I couldn't be bothered with something as complex as boiling water.

I look back on my starving student days as my golden years.

If she needs money why doesn't she just become a prostitute? She could dump the rug rat at some orphanage too.

Albertosaurus

map said...

I think what people are not realizing here is that status concerns are what drive issues over poverty, not issues over material subsistence. Tirado's story resonates with SWPLs because SWPL's are very well aware of how easy it is to become poor and end up with nothing. So Tirado resembles themselves if they were derailed from their careers.

SWPl's know that being smart and working hard is not enough. They've encountered many people they have to compete against who are trust-funders with a massive backstop of family funds and connections. They also know about career paths and value transference and other areas that have a massive impact on their lives.

Most of all, they are keenly aware of what happens when their status drops below the status of the peer group around them. The stress from ostracism would be enormous.

Real poor people hang out with other real poor people, so the benchmark standards are already low.

map said...

Anonymous @ 12/10/13, 8:58 AM

While the Republicans have many flaws, being opposed to a rise in the income tax in not one of them.

The Democrats are the party of the rich and they support income tax increases precisely because most of their income is not subject to taxation.

Rush Limbaugh and the Koch brothers support tax cuts because their audience is composed of people whose income is subject to the taxes they want cut.

Rush Limbaugh and the Koch Brothers do not need tax cuts because they get the same tax benefits that Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry and other rich Democrats.

Or, do you really believe Nancy Pelosi became a politician to raise taxes on herself?

anon said...

Low-income is not poor. If you have glass windows, electricity, and running water, you are not poor

By your metric, the only poor people in America are homeless.

I'm all for skepticism about the average poor person and Linda Tirado, but c'mon.

You're buying into the mainstream repub view of things. That is the same mode of thinking that led to outsourcing and illegal immigration galore. The attitude that poor people seeking a higher standard of living are somehow "ungrateful", just cuz they could be Guatemalans living in muddy shantytowns instead.

Anonymous said...

"Two people working 40 hours a week at minimum wage have more than enough money to get by and raise two kids (in most parts of the country)."

Crazy talk. Leave it to libertarian aspies or prole conservatives (most of whom are poor themselves, ironically) to minimize the hardship and overall suckiness of being poor.


The census bureau has an alternative measure of poverty, report linked below. The poverty threshold for a family of 4 is set at 120% of the 33rd percentile of national household expenditures on food, clothing, shelter, and utilities (FCSU) for a family of that size/composition. The threshold in 2011 was a little over $25,000. So ~1/3 of such families spend less than $22,000 on FCSU each year.

I seem to recall reading somewhere that median FCSU spending for a family of four was ~$28,000 a year, but I can't find a source for that.

Let's assume that two people work 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, and make $8 an hour. That works out to $32,000 before taxes and transfers (their net income would likely be higher). Hence my contention was correct, unless you have an unrealistic understanding of what it means to "get by".

http://www.census.gov/hhes/povmeas/methodology/supplemental/research/Short_ResearchSPM2011.pdf

Anonymous said...

thank you to Steve for linking to "Amber Richardson" at Onion. She does the best voice of an authentic poor that I've ever read.

HuffPro readers have disgust for the real poor . They have empathy for the privileged who make bad decisions, and become poor.

Mr. Anon said...

"Why Linda Tirado? Why not a genuine poor person?""

Poor people are icky.

Gene said...

Back in the early seventies the Atlantic Monthly ran an article arguing that in the kind of meritocracy the US was apparently becoming, there would inevitably be a stratification of society by IQ.

Of course the authors were soundly denounced but they were more right than perhaps they realized.

Maxwell Power said...

Anonymous 5:15, well said. The Huffington Post essayist gets acclaim because she does poverty the right way. Non-poor Huffington Post readers would very much like to encourage this sort of nobility & grace among the poor

Holley Siemers said...

If people want to help the poor,they can help the children of Yelm, WA have food, heat, and maybe a touch of Christmas.
http://www.gofundme.com/5j8630

Anonymous said...

"Two people working 40 hours a week at minimum wage have more than enough money to get by and raise two kids (in most parts of the country)."

Crazy talk. Leave it to libertarian aspies or prole conservatives (most of whom are poor themselves, ironically) to minimize the hardship and overall suckiness of being poor.


The original poster is completely correct. Minimum wage for 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year for two people comes to $29,000. My wife and I (no kids) lived off of less than $20,000 for several years while we were in graduate school, and I knew several families where the husband was in school making less than $20,000 a year, and the wife was at home with 2-4 kids. You really can live reasonably comfortably with such means, provided you spend frugally and don't take for granted luxuries that most Americans take for granted (cable TV, driving rather than walking or biking most places, etc.).

I'm not against people with incomes that low trying to make more money. I am against giving them state welfare and drumming up enormous sympathy for their plight when the people we should be concerned about helping are the actual poor in the third world.

Handle said...

This is just the newest take on the old Progressive / Conservative debate on human scenario analysis.

Conservatives prefer to look at things through a 'free will / internal causation through individual choices / personal responsibility / blame' lens while progressives prefer the 'external cause / sympathy' frame.

The former tends to underestimate the influence of quirks of fate, chance, luck, etc. while the later, as per Arnold Kling, overemphasizes narratives of 'oppression' and abhors anything smacking of 'blaming the victim'.

But as the war to eradicate oppression continues decade after decade, it becomes harder and harder to actually find. Yet the detrimental and self-destructive behaviors patterns of the less equal do not change.

So the oppression is displaced to zones that don't bear much scrutiny. We have institutional, systemic, and unconscious bias doing the mysterious statistical work of disparate impact.

When even those explanations fail upon examination, then we're left with the trauma / PTST / vicious cycle psychological phenomena line of argument. Poor people are poor because something bad happened to them (sympathy frame), and that bad things contaminates them in some way that they can't stop doing bad things even though they know they should and they want to (more sympathy), and worse, it turns them into bad parents which spread the disease to their kids.

Everyone is blameless, everyone deserves sympathy, no behavior or choices can be judged or criticized or identified as a 'root cause' of continued destitution.

It's a rhetorical / intellectual superweapon. You can't beat something like that with mere logic and evidence, reason and argument - it's impervious to facts. It's faith.

MaMu1977 said...

It's been said in this thread, but I'll reiterate: poor people make poor decisions.

I can see it in my own family.
Mother's side: my grandmother's siblings and their descendants bought houses, kept their noses to their erstwhile grindstones and saved money. Today, the average net worth for any one of them is upwards of $250K (excluding the teens and recent college graduates, obviously.) My grandmother's children and grandchildren, however, are lucky to have roofs over their heads. If they (my mother and her siblings) didn't have children off whom to sponge, only one of them would have avoided homelessness. But, "It was fun to be able to do whatever we wanted while it lasted...", they'll say at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

My father's family is more of the same. My great-grandfather managed to hold onto close to 1000 acres of land in the rural South (hint: I'm black, so you can imagine the tactics that were used against him in Jim Crow times.) He parceled out 80 acres to eachof his children, then left another 200 acres in a private trust. 7 of his 8 children have either held onto or increased their acreage (and net worth.) My grandfather has (at this moment in time) 3 acres to his name. **3**. My father's siblings have avoided homelessness by leeching from their bother as tightly as any lamprey, to the point that they've drained over $1,000,000 from his bank account in less than a decade. Because, it must be said, my father is "responsible". He retired fromthe military with an honorable discharge, then performed contract work with the government until 2013. For his efforts, he was paid $1.5 million. He then was forced to pay over $500,000 to earn back the "family land" (land which, to be clear, cost less than $10,000/year in taxes. Then, the constant $100-500 loans (cavities, light bill,christening gifts, etc.), then the normal holiday presents... Long story short, over $200K was given away in the blink of an eye **on top of** paying premium prices to retrieve what was and still is scrub land

Theodore Seeber said...

All that and not a single link to the absolute best article of the genre- and the most believable one:

http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-5-stupidest-habits-you-develop-growing-up-poor/

Anonymous said...

MaMu1977: My dad's family is a similar story. My great-grandfather was very rich, and high-society; but his children and grandchildren (except my dad) squandered most of their money, and when they did have a job, it was "working" for my great-grandfather's business -- i.e., taking stuff from it when they wanted so that the business ultimately folded. Now everyone but my dad in the extended family is surviving off of my grandparents' social security checks and my dad's goodwill.

Of course, this story doesn't speak too well about the way the rich entitle their children either. But it does speak to the importance of hard work and making good decisions.