Platitudes that Work & Hypocrisy's Virtues

Doing the right thing is often the smart thing. One of the smartest things you can do is get married and keep your vows. Married households are twice as likely to be in the top 20% of income and their income has increased 59% in the past three decades, compared with only 44% for all households.

More and more our outcomes are the result of choices we make and individual choices have a significant effect on society as a whole. For example, according to the Washington Post, marriages among of high earners are a important factor in the growth of income inequality since the 1970s. People tend to marry other like themselves. The educated marry the educated and enhance their advantages. Moreover, the rich & educated marry at higher rates & married men & women are much more stable in their jobs, especially if they have kids. This leads to higher wealth and higher incomes. Conversely marriage has been declining among the poor, exacerbating the pathologies of poverty. One reason that welfare was so destructive from the 1960s until welfare reform of the 1990s is that it discouraged marriage.

Married people are healthier, wealthier & probably wiser, as indicated by the fact that they are more likely to vote Republican. That is why I support marriage for same sex couples. Causality is always hard to figure in societal situations. We know that married people are better off and more stable, but to what extent is it the case that stable people are more likely to get married and stay faithful and to what extent does marriage make people stable? They are probably reinforcing each other.

In any case, it is interesting how practical traditional morality can be and how much better off you are if you follow some simple advice. It is the kind of thing that everybody knows, platitudes even. They are things that everybody CAN do if they want to. Stay away from cigarettes, and whiskey and wild women. Stay in school. Do not do drugs. Go to work in the morning and do not gamble. Get married and be faithful. If you do these things, your life will probably work out okay.

The stereotype is that Republicans are more into personal responsibility. I am not an absolutist on this. Luck plays a big role in success. But we certainly have to take behavior into account. Doing the right thing is usually the smart thing. Solutions are often very simple, but maybe not very easy.

I do not always do the right thing. For those of your who might accuses me of hypocrisy, just remember that hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue. I would prefer those who cannot be virtuous would try to practice hypocrisy and at least behave well. If you do that long enough, you may come to believe it.

Posted by Jack at March 4, 2007 7:20 PM
Comment #210515

Jack, good article. You might want to add “take your vitamins, stay healthy” to your list of things to do. Behavior is the cake ,Jack, luck is the frosting.
I think the personal responsibility superiority of republicans is just that a sterotype. I dont think people of either party have a lock on personal responsibility. It just seems that way due to political beliefs.
The canadian SSP program is the way to go to help those less fortunate to get going in this Country as well.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 4, 2007 7:57 PM
Comment #210517


Obviously divorce is better than suffering the rest of your life in a terrible marriage. Who cares about affording that Lexus if your life sucks? The problems with your postings on happiness, marriage, and just about everything else is that you have only one yardstick. Money ain’t everything, Jack.

Posted by: Trent at March 4, 2007 8:10 PM
Comment #210521


It is not just money. It is everything else. Married people, especially men, are better off in almost every respect.

I use the money as a yardstick because it is easiest to measure. I also use it because when people complain about inequality, that it what they are measuring. Finally, I use the money because more and more there it is part of a cluster or behaviors and traits.

I understand that people who do not behave in a decent way are rarely admirable no matter how much money they have, think Paris Hilton.


Luck is important, but it often tends to be found at the intersection where opportunity meets preparation.

Posted by: Jack at March 4, 2007 9:25 PM
Comment #210522

“Married people are healthier, wealthier & probably wiser, as indicated by the fact that they are more likely to vote Republican.”


I’d laugh if it weren’t for that nasty stuff backing up in my throat. You may be somewhat right. I’ve had three failed marriages. My last two wives evolved as Giuliani recently described, “if you’re not a Liberal at the age of 20 you have no heart————if you’re not a Conservative at the age of 40 you have no brain”.

That’s been my downfall. I married liberals that evolved into conservative capitalists. I think they figured my agnosticism would at some point preclude my charitable generosity, but they came to love diamonds and gold more than the unknowns I kept sending money to.

They were wrong. So was I. I do wish I’d kept a few dollars buried in the backyard. Then again it’s not my backyard anymore :-/

I do applaud your acceptance of gay marriage. I think the whole debate should be over defining sex by a few ounces of flesh. Maybe I’m not really a man. Maybe I’m a lesbian living inside a man’s body.

That may be stupid but it’s understandable since I’m not a Republican and all smart people are Republicans, right?

Posted by: KansasDem at March 4, 2007 10:07 PM
Comment #210523

Actually Jack and Trent,
I find myself agreeing with you and Trent on this one. How can I agree with both of you - easy - you’ve both made excellent points.

Jack, I was was unhappily married for just over 25 yrs. Not only did we not get rich, I lost most of what little inheritance I got from my father, trying to get my husband and myself out of debt. doing one I worked 2, and frequently 3 jobs at minimum wage, trying to keep our family’s head above water.

Now, one may ask where and what was my illustrious husband doing? Well, let’s see, I put him back through college twice for his Masters once in Political Science, in Urban Planning, then a Masters in Education, concentration in History. He just couldn’t seem to find a job that he liked and doing one well enough to please his bosses. We moved 29 times while we were married, 19 of them during the first 10 years. Even with my college degree, no one wanted to hire me when I had shown I would pack up and follow my “man”every time he said “let’s move”. Can’t say I blame them. Moving tends to be an expensive alternative to finding and keeping a job. He was also a Republican, in-the-for-what-its worth column.

BTW, when I found out he was cheating on me,and left,I discovered he had run up over $80,000 worth of credit card and bank loans based on my credit, without my knowledge. Seems back in the 80’s and early 90’s when credit cards were simply sent out, ready to be used, he signed up for all of them. Using a nice secret P.O.Box number he managed to pay them off just enough to keep them happy. Using my check book, because,well gosh darn, I trusted him!!! And no I don’t have the foggiest what he brought.

Jack you actually wrote:

Married people… probably wiser, as indicated by the fact that they are more likely to vote Republican.
You have got to be joking!!!! My ex was the perfect REPUBLICAN. Maybe that’s why I tend to be, as I prefer, to call it a Demorublican or Robocrat . I, now, refuse to follow anyone’s party lines. I tried that in my marriage, by following, believing, and taking my marriage vows seriously. The GREAT REPUBLICAN just couldn’t get it together.

This is just one example of how following the

practical traditional morality… can be and how much better off you are if you follow some simple advice.

Yes, I know when he cheated on me, he broke vows of our marriage, thus I guess Jack, that would explain why I didn’t get rich while married to him. The only problem with that reasoning was we were into our 23th yr. of marriage when he decided to cheat. We originialy tried to work it out with a marriage counselor. However, had he not done that, we’d still be unhappily married now, celebrating our unhappy 37th anniversary, and I’d still be working 2-3 jobs, living in a rented trailer, on someone else’s lot, moving 3-4 times a year while my ex-husband tried to find the ‘right job’ just for him. (I know this because he has just changed jobs again, I believe this makes 4 in the past 4 years, and just moved again. I guess old habits die hard)

I did learn something very important during my 25 years with my ex-husband. I learned that money is an easy come, easy go proposition. I have lived without it and now live with it, to some extent. Frankly, I’ll admit I prefer having some. However, money just ain’t everything, Jack.

Now the part where I agree with with you,Jack.
If most people follow their hearts, and try to do the best they can, treat others with respect and respect themselves, they will achieve peace of mind and heart.

Believe me, those are far better than monetary riches.

Posted by: Linda H. at March 4, 2007 10:48 PM
Comment #210524

Is being married easier when you have money, or is having money easier when you’re married? Does marriage encourage better careers, or do better careers stabilize marriages?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 4, 2007 10:52 PM
Comment #210525

I’m trying to get this url working.

Posted by: Linda H. at March 4, 2007 10:58 PM
Comment #210527

Nice topic. I agree 99% with you on this one, Jack. I especially like the challenge you shot to those who have chosen vice.

Posted by: Don at March 4, 2007 11:17 PM
Comment #210528

I love this logic. I have more money, therefore I am more virtous. What a crock. It’s so absurd that I barely know how to respond.

This exemplefies the crass self applauding that is so typical of Republicans. I’ve got mine because I’m better than you.

Ignore theft, ignore greed, ignore aggression, ignore cheating, ignore lying because, since I’m wealthy, I spend more time with my family, can afford education and a healthy lifestyle, a safe neighborhood. So what if my corporation pollutes the ship channel and increases death rates in those neighbohoods. So what if I require my employees to work 70 hour weeks so I don’t have to extend benefits tomoreemployees and reduce my profits. Can’t get to work because of a sick kid?
I’ll fire you because your sick kid is affecting my profit margin.

I have a more stable and happy life because I screwed you over? Too bad. You deserve your fate, because I’m better than you.

Posted by: gergle at March 4, 2007 11:32 PM
Comment #210529


As I wrote, the causality probably runs in both direction and is mutually reinforcing. A good marriage is easier to maintain if you have a good job and it is easier to keep a good job if have a stable personal life.

Linda H

Sorry about that. Not all marriages are good. Some people are not good.

I think we should set goals that most of us probably cannot achieve completely - a man’s reach should exceed his grasp - but are nevertheless valuable even if we get only partway.

I do not think money can make you happy. I do believe that lack of money can make people unhappy.

There is a Latin saying that some people have too much money, but nobody has enough.

Posted by: Jack at March 4, 2007 11:36 PM
Comment #210531


People with money are not necessarily better than the poor, but there is nothing inherently virtuous about being poor. It all depends on how and why.

Some people are well off because they are greedy and crooked. Ironically, many people are poor for exactly the same reasons. For both rich and poor, such is the road to perdition.

It is not easy to become rich, but it is very easy to be not poor in the U.S. If you follow a virtuous path and are not really unlucky, it is hard to stay poor. Money should not be your primary goal, but it is more comfortable if you have enough.

Most of the time poverty results not from too little money, but from too much greed.

Posted by: Jack at March 4, 2007 11:49 PM
Comment #210533

“There is a Latin saying that some people have too much money, but nobody has enough.”

Perhaps there is Jack. There is also arrogance so thick it couldn’t be cut with a knife. I was just opining on your statement that, “Married people are healthier, wealthier & probably wiser, as indicated by the fact that they are more likely to vote Republican.”

Were you just someone commenting from the peanut gallery as I am I would totally disregard every future comment you made. Come to think of it, I can do that anyway. Maybe you and Ann Coulter can both retire in blissful ignorance.

Posted by: KansasDem at March 4, 2007 11:50 PM
Comment #210538


Sorry. I was not actually answering your comment and I am not sure how I insulted you. I appolgize if I have.

That is what I think is true. I believe that most people have more money than they NEED, but not more than they want. It is a basic problem that wants can be unlimited and most people have an uneasy relationship with money.

I admit that I like to have money, but I do not love it so much that I will do anything for it. I make more money now than I did 20 years ago, but I do not notice that I am very much happier. Better than things, I have found, are experiences.

I also understand Maslow’s hierarchy. That means that when you have enough of something it stops motivating you. I believe that people should think of ways to reach “enough” at a reasonalbe level.

Posted by: Jack at March 5, 2007 12:32 AM
Comment #210539

I have met so many people in my fifty-five years who, for lack of a better phrase, were “wild to be wreckage forever” (final line out of a poem, the author’s name escapes me.) I’ve long thought that happiness and prosperity were somehow a function of intellect and it is clear to me that it comes more out of one’s emotional intelligence. One just has to have the drive and the goal to BUILD something. And it is what you build that has value for yourself which is important. Using this measuring stick, a nobody with nothing really starts out at the top and a name with money (Paris Hilton?) really has a hill to climb. People who just don’t get the pleasure/satisfaction/sense of accomplishment out of creating a life (education/wealth/relationships), in my experience just never will. The brain chip that can make that happen is just not there.
I’m not sure that the basic engine of happiness and prosperity is marriage. I suspect that a stable marriage is a result of the desire to create and build.
Money seems so important to people. They can’t talk enough about all the aspects of it; but I have to wonder how much certain people really like money when they can’t seem to get rid of it fast enough. There are people who are beyond the help of even the democrats.

Posted by: charles Ross at March 5, 2007 1:56 AM
Comment #210540


Should be James Dickey…

Anyway, sense of accomplishment seems to me too the right thing to do, from which happyness comes.
Sure, for a few, get more money is the only thing giving them such satisfaction. But I’ll bet that for the huge majority of us, it’s not. Money is often a convenient tool in our road to accomplishment, but not necessary.

Faith is another, well known one. On a more general scale, empathy and some altruism are too.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at March 5, 2007 5:42 AM
Comment #210541


When you and I were growing up we had the example of a stable family environment.
We had two parents that had actually taken the time to know each other BEFORE they made the commitment to marry, and a mom that was generally at home to provide support for both the children and her husband.
Things that are deemed necessities today didn’t even exist.
Oh, and gasoline was 25-30 cents a gallon, and eggs were 2.5 dozen for a dollar.

Toto, it seems we’re not in Kansas anymore.

Posted by: Rocky at March 5, 2007 7:37 AM
Comment #210542

Oh, and BTW,

50% of marriages didn’t end in divorce.

Today I know more folks that are commited couples (of the various permutations), than those that are married.

Posted by: Rocky at March 5, 2007 7:54 AM
Comment #210544


Maybe marriage is becomming a luxury item. I think we are kind of getting marriage mixed up. It is a partnership in many ways, not just that two people love each other. I successful marriage means you stick with the partner when she is not so lovable.

My point on platitudes is that much of what we think of as morality is also very practical. It is great to question authority, but we have also to question the questioners.

BTW - about half of all marriages end in divorce, but half of all married people are not divorced. It is a statistical problem. Some people have mulitiple marriages and account for a big part of the divorce statistics. Somebody like Elizabeth Taylor negated seven successful marriages, for example.

Posted by: Jack at March 5, 2007 8:56 AM
Comment #210548
Some people have mulitiple marriages and account for a big part of the divorce statistics.

Don’t forget Rudy and Newt. They’re so big on marriage they’ve each done it three times.

I actually agree with your main point if you take out all of the partisanship. Red Staters are more likely to get divorced. From the NYT, 11/2004

The lowest divorce rates are largely in the blue states: the Northeast and the upper Midwest. And the state with the lowest divorce rate was Massachusetts, home to John Kerry, the Kennedys and same-sex marriage.

In 2003, the rate in Massachusetts was 5.7 divorces per 1,000 married people, compared with 10.8 in Kentucky, 11.1 in Mississippi and 12.7 in Arkansas.

Posted by: Woody Mena at March 5, 2007 9:18 AM
Comment #210551
Somebody like Elizabeth Taylor negated seven successful marriages, for example.

Hey, who are we to call her seven mariages unsuccessful? Each story have to end. Even the best ones.

What should matters here is not they all comes to an end before death, but their quality, no?

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at March 5, 2007 10:00 AM
Comment #210552
successful marriage means you stick with the partner when she is not so lovable.

That’s also true for unmarried couples. The single fact that barelly nothing force them to stay commited, to oppose with marriage, but still hold their commitment should be telling.

The commitment who matters is in the heart, not on a peace of paper.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at March 5, 2007 10:04 AM
Comment #210553


I have seen the statistics. It says less than people think. You have to adjust for age, cultural factors etc. The red/blue thing is very much overstated. In 1984, every state but Minnesota was red. In 1996 most states were blue. In a big blue state like California, more people voted red than the whole voting population of Vermont and in a big red state like Texas, more people voted blue than in voted in all of Utah.

Re your divorced candidates, Mitt Romney, the Mormon, is the guy with only one wife.

Posted by: Jack at March 5, 2007 10:10 AM
Comment #210555


The commitment is what counts. You are right. But marriage makes the legality much easier. It is kinda silly for two people who plan to stay with each other not to get married, especially if they plan to have kids. A committed couple that does not get married has to go through a lot of complicated legal hoops to create the same sort of package they could get by getting married. It is their business, as far as I am concerned, but they should not complain about the ambiguities that their own behavior creates.

Posted by: Jack at March 5, 2007 10:18 AM
Comment #210556

Back to your topic, I agree that it’s easier for people who choose to stay commited on goals to get a better life for all of them. Often a win-win case.
It’s more than the sum of all parts (hey, don’t blame me, you asked for platitudes after all! ;-)
A couple and, to a larger extent, family commitment is one of the best.

I’m not sure, though, being married make that much difference. Does a marriage really help you more to stay commited to your couple and family? Does every failed mariage ends in a divorce? How many bad marriage is endured (with all the bad side effects it have on the whole unity, kids included) until death/it’s too late?

Less than in the old days, for sure. But I guess we could say it’s not zero, right. Being married is not a magic solution. Being commited is.
Marriage could help some people to keep commitment high. But marriage could also help people to stay together for too long while, clearly, all commitment is gone, just because none wants to break the famous “for as long as they both shall live” vow.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at March 5, 2007 10:30 AM
Comment #210557

BTW, why don’t you back your claim that voting Republican means one is wiser?


Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at March 5, 2007 10:32 AM
Comment #210560


I can agree with a lot of what you say. I am single and have been happily divorced for over 20 years. I am a moral person with two intelligent and well balanced sons. I have friends, hobbies, pets and enough money to live comfortably. I remain single because I like the independance aspect. I am not a loner or shutin. Despite not being married I do enjoy life and consider myself an asset to society. I have nothing against marriage and most of my friends are.

What I do have a problem with is your somewhat simplistic and grandiose ideas of why you feel republicans are smarter or perhaps better people than the rest of us. I wonder do you actually believe this, or are you being antagonistic? Life is just too complicated and unpredictable to apply a simple set of statistics to the happiness formula. How many of those people we percieve as being happy are truly happy behind the scenes. We do not always get to see both sides. And to say that the poor are a result of their own doings is also much to simplistic. Some yes, but I am willing to bet that the larger percentage are the result of oppression, poor or no education, mental sickness, chronic illness, and the arrogance of class distinction.

I found this quote which I believe lends a bit of honor and reason for compassion and understanding when it comes to the plight of the poor.

“Only ambition is fired by the coincidences of success and easy accomplishment but nothing is quite as splendidly uplifting to the heart as the defeat of a human being who battles against the invincible superiority of fate. This is always the most grandiose of all tragedies, one sometimes created by a dramatist but created thousands of times by life.”

Posted by: ILdem at March 5, 2007 10:41 AM
Comment #210561


But marriage makes the legality much easier. It is kinda silly for two people who plan to stay with each other not to get married, especially if they plan to have kids. A committed couple that does not get married has to go through a lot of complicated legal hoops to create the same sort of package they could get by getting married. It is their business, as far as I am concerned, but they should not complain about the ambiguities that their own behavior creates.

Agreed, globally.

That’s why I will propose soon. After 8 years, I know how life with her is. And my two adorable kids deserves a stronger legal commitment, indeed.

But, here in France, I don’t encounter so much legal complications. I claim being the father legally. Regarding income taxes, it’s even more interesting (as the one having the bigger income would benefit the “kids in charge” tax cut the most).

What missing legally in our situation is if I or her die tomorrow. It will legally sucks for the one surviving. This needs to be fixed.

What 8 years of unmarried couple bring to us is to write the plan. We didn’t have one fully written plan at start (I’m not talking about Iraq War here, make no mistake! ;-) ).
I’m not commited to a fixed initial plan, I’m commited to us, her and my kids.
We didn’t “plan” to stay together and have kids. We tried to and, so far, succeed. We’re now far more skilled in, well, us, than at start.

With skills comes rewards ;-)

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at March 5, 2007 10:58 AM
Comment #210562

Ah yes, once more we meet the arrogance of Republicans and conservatives making sweeping claims about the supposed superiority of their fine character as a group which leads to all things good for them — and leaves the rest of us out in the cold with our supposed failure and unhappiness.
Have any of you ever read Ken Blackwell’s 20 point requirements for high character?
It’s clearly a fascist tract, just like Jack’s claims above about how Republican conservatives are superior is fascistic.
In this way, liberals become less as people than themselves, and with their plans for the country, we become less important. Indeed, our citizens can be separated into ranks of “good” and “bad.” And because we’re always the “bad” and because it’s all our own fault, almost anything can be done to us with a blissfully clear conscience.

Posted by: Adrienne at March 5, 2007 11:29 AM
Comment #210563


I’m not sure I understand the objective of this post. Are Democrats less supportive of marriage than Republicans? I have never thought of it that way, though I have thought that Democrats are more supportive of alternative lifestyles, including programs to help people that are on their own. Does that mean they support marriage less? Should people be forced to marry? Should married people get a lot of tax breaks? Are you more deserving if you are married than others? If Democrats don’t see it that way, does it make them hypocrites? When I was growing up, I was the only kid amongst my circle of friends whose parents were not divorced. These divorces were ugly. A lot of people my age are now very careful before they jump into marriage. Does that mean they are sinful or something?

I don’t disagree with you that marriage is a good thing, but your perspective that married people are better, more virtuous, etc. is totally alien to me. Poor people have it bad, so they should marry? How about recognizing that times have changed, and that rather than expect people to marry on demand we need new ways of helping these people help themselves?

Posted by: Max at March 5, 2007 11:40 AM
Comment #210564


People often take me more seriously than I intend.

I think life is kind of fun and kind of funny. My insoucience is part of my general personality. Some people find it annoying; others like it. It will not change in any case. I do not ever remember being any other way.

I do not think Republicans as a group are smarter than Dems. People who seriously study these things find some differences between party members. Dems have a bimodal distribution. They are popular among the very poorly educated and the very well educated. Republicans are more popular in the middle. The same goes for income etc. It is funny and allows for almost any type of stereotype you want to use.

Re being poor - Success in life is a combination of luck, skill and general placement. I do not believe everyone will be rich if they just have the right behaviors and attitudes, but if you do the right thing, you are unlikely to be poor. It is an important nuance.

Some of the explanations for people being poor are not “their fault”. You are right about the mental illness and the lack of cognitive ability. But this is a social more than an economic problem. Someone with mental illness maybe cannot take care of himself, but our society gives him all sorts of rights so that nobody can really take care of him against his will.

Attitudes are very important. I have a decent job. My father dropped out of HS and had a bad attitude. When I told him I was going to try to get the job I now have, he told me not to bother because that was only for rich kids. Had I listened to him, it would have been true in my case too. Many people are oppressed by themselves. It may be based on some historical oppression, but now it is their own attitudes that are keeping them down. Oppression becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.


You have a sensible plan. There are always many ways to do things. Some are easier than others. And some people need more help. You are a smart guy who can plan. The structures of most institutions are in place to help those who cannot come up with their own plans.

We had a great tragedy of illegitimate births in the U.S. In many ways, it was caused by the elite culture spreading its attitudes to the less fortunate. A smart woman with lot of support can have a child out of wedlock and get along all right. She probably can afford day care or has friends and relatives to help. When a poor woman, living a generally disorganized life does the same thing, it destroys both her and the child’s future. Many men are perfectly happy to have freedom from marriage. They can drop the whole thing. The institution of marriage protects the less fortunate women and children. It is unfortunate that they are the ones who often avoid it.

Posted by: Jack at March 5, 2007 11:46 AM
Comment #210565

“Doing the right thing is often the smart thing. One of the smartest things you can do is get married and keep your vows.”

right -> smart
smart -> married and keep vows
right -> married and keep vows?

Though I agree with you in principle, and statistically it can’t be beat. Where it breaks down is… it is simply not you nor the government to choose what is right for me. I think the constitution says that, doesn’t it?

Or, if I am misinterpreting what your definition of “right” is, please define it further.


Posted by: dutch_expat at March 5, 2007 12:32 PM
Comment #210569


You can do as you please. It is a free country. Some things work better than others. The alternative lifestyle you choose will lead to consequences.

I am just annoyed when people do so many wrong things and still blame society and expect to get bailed out.

Posted by: Jack at March 5, 2007 12:54 PM
Comment #210570

Jack I love your statistics.

3 decades is 30 years. Income increase is 59%. That is just under 2% income growth per year. With inflation running between 2 an 3% per year on average, married couples have lost ground. Singles even more.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 5, 2007 1:09 PM
Comment #210573
We had a great tragedy of illegitimate births in the U.S. In many ways, it was caused by the elite culture spreading its attitudes to the less fortunate.

I think you’re trying to say that Democrat values are responsible for people getting divorces. Personally, I think that’s a crock. The Republican promise to turn back the clock to the 1950’s is empty and impossible. I wouldn’t want divorce outlawed even with its problems. I wouldn’t want to go back to arranged marriaged either, though weren’t those simpler times? Couldn’t someone make the argument that we should since it would increase stability and defray costs of people finding someone, etc? We live in a free society. People make their own decisions, and I guess Democrats are less likely to look down on people because of their choices.

Posted by: Max at March 5, 2007 1:19 PM
Comment #210574

“You can do as you please. It is a free country. Some things work better than others. The alternative lifestyle you choose will lead to consequences.”

What about Beavis and Butthead, or Jay and Silent Bob? These people exist out there. Both examples liked chicks, BTW. Do you argue that, by not allowing people in a situation like these, where they are obviously devouted to one another, would bring down society if given the ability to commit to one another for the rest of their lives?

Jack, one obviously can’t do as one pleases, by your logic. Am I correct?

Again, in general I agree with you:
“I am just annoyed when people do so many wrong things and still blame society and expect to get bailed out.”

But again, restricting them, instead of potentially governing them (and maybe make some money off of them), is going to bring down society?

Is it legal for two people, whom may fit the legal requirements, but don’t love one another and aren’t (legally) committed to one another, get married? I’m pretty sure the constitution allows that.

Posted by: dutch_expat at March 5, 2007 1:27 PM
Comment #210575

What you’re saying, though, implied that things ran more in one direction. That it might run in other directions brings up interesting questions as to what the labor practices of corporate morality are doing to public morality and the integrity of today’s families.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 5, 2007 1:28 PM
Comment #210576


I believe the figures are inflation adjusted.

Median income for a married household was $66,057.00 in 2005. If you do not adjust for inflation, that would mean they were making around $41,000 back in 1975. Nobody I knew made $41,000 in 1975 and median income was actually Household income in unadjusted dollars in 1975 was ">$16,142, which if you multiple by 1.59 is only $25,665. Math is not my strength, but I can figure that much.

The chart on page 4 shows the ADJUSTED income for all earners. You can look at the details farther in the report. This ideas that people have gotten poorer over the past 30 years is just not supported by the statistics or observation.

Posted by: Jack at March 5, 2007 1:57 PM
Comment #210577


Unless you associate Dems with elite culture, I am not talking about Dems. I was thinking of the rich women who can afford the support needed to be a single parent.

I do not look down on people for their choices, but I recognize different consequences.


I do not care what they do as long as they do not bother me. When their choices cause me trouble, I have a right to complain. Still, I probably would not restrict it in most cases. I can judge many things, but most are not my business. I make that distiction. But there are stupid choices. I cannot say all choices are equal.


Bill Clinton (who I generally liked) had a mighty strong influence on making oral sex “not sex”. Murphy Brown TV show had an effect on perception of unwed mothers. Corporate scandals break down respect for institutions. Yes, they all have an effect. We should probably judge more and tolerate less.

Posted by: Jack at March 5, 2007 2:07 PM
Comment #210579
Jack wrote: One of the smartest things you can do is get married and keep your vows. … Stay away from cigarettes, and whiskey and wild women. Stay in school. Do not do drugs. Go to work in the morning and do not gamble. Get married and be faithful. If you do these things, your life will probably work out okay.
What ever happened to “practice makes perfect” ?

Just kidding. Obviously, those are generally good rules to follow; can’t really argue with any of that.

I’ve seen many marraiges that were doomed from day one. Especially at too young an age. Divorce often isn’t a big deal until there are children involved. Then it is usually messy and painful; especially for the children. However, sometimes, divorce is necessary for the welfare of the children too. So, there’s no hard-and-fast rule that’s always right. When people get married, they are taking a chance. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, even when neither of the couple have violated any vows. Trying to force a round peg into a square hole doesn’t always make sense.

Jack wrote: The stereotype is that Republicans are more into personal responsibility.
Hmmmmm … yes, perhaps it is just a stereotype (and fading). And whose personal responsibilty? Their own, or others?

Despite the more numerous similarities between the politicians of both parties, there are a few differences which are reflected in their voting records.
When looking at the Republican voting records, most in Congress have a penchant for wanting laws that try to legislate morals, and it is sometimes about things that are silly, possibly violate free speech, possibly voilate the Constitution, are contradictory, or want to criminalize things rather than solve the real problem.
For example, many Republicans in Congress:

  • want to make buring the U.S. flag illegal

  • support the death penalty

  • want to ban same-sex marraige and/or civil unions

  • want cheap labor more than secured borders

  • want wiretapping without civil oversight

The flag burning thing, in my opinion is ridiculous, but best portrays a general philosophy that permeates other things.

And, when it comes to responsibility, there ain’t many (if any) in Congress that have much room to talk, since there are few (if any) in Congress that:

  • aren’t irresponsible

  • aren’t FOR-SALE

  • aren’t bought-and-paid-for

  • voted YES to ban gifts, soft money, campaign finance reform, etc.

  • don’t look-the-other-way

  • don’t pander and peddle influence

  • don’t spend most of their time trolling for big money donors rather than adequately addressing the nation’s problems

  • don’t vote on pork-barrel, graft, waste, and themselves cu$hy perk$ and raises for themselves (8 raises between 1997 and 2006); simultaneously while our troops are risking life and limb, don’t receive adequate medical care or promised benefits

  • and aren’t growing an already severely over-bloated government ever larger, to nightmare proportions.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 5, 2007 2:39 PM
Comment #210583

Jack said: “This ideas that people have gotten poorer over the past 30 years is just not supported by the statistics or observation.”

Just plain wrong, Jack. Middle class in the 1960’s meant a car, a home, one wage earner, a radio or stereo, a TV and a phone. That was middle class.

Today middle class means that plus a PC and a blender. But, today it takes TWO wage earners to achieve that extra PC and blender and keep up with the 1960’s middle class status.

Numbers can be made to lie in all kinds of ways. American workers however, know the difference between their parents middle class achievements and what it took in work hours, and their own today. That’s why Republicans can’t sell their bolstering that the economy is just great, with numbers or any other misleading hype. Real world experience by workers and their families is the real test, and the polls show they aren’t happy with the economic situation their children face over the next 50 to 60 years.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 5, 2007 3:06 PM
Comment #210585

Jack, in purely economic terms, what happened was after WWII, business enjoyed a glut of workers to choose from, as education and civil rights opened to employers huge increases in labor. That permitted businesses to downsize wages, pressuring families to move ever more toward 2 wage earner status which is now the norm, as opposed to the one wage earner status which was the norm for a middle class family in the 1960’s. In other words, business got hooked on cheap labor and now view it as a right, prompting them to move overseas where labor costs can keep their profit margins high.

Most large business in America has no loyalty or even perceived responsibility for the American family. And beware the Median income number. It only means half the population earns above and the other half below. It says nothing about the distribution of that income at the very low or very high end of those groups.

Fact is, huge CEO salaries and compensation packages raise the Median income for the entire nation, though 99.5% of the population does not benefit from those CEO salary and compensation increases.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 5, 2007 3:14 PM
Comment #210586


“Married people are healthier, wealthier & probably wiser, as indicated by the fact that they are more likely to vote Republican. That is why I support marriage for same sex couples.”

In 2 weeks I will be married 56 years - and I am not a Republican but a Democrat. Republicanism and marriage have nothing to do with each other. As a matter of fact the two are antagonistic to each other: Republicans constantly tell us about the importance of competition in order to get ahead; to get ahead in a marriage requires not competition but cooperation.

Yes, competition helps businesses make money. But competition produces lots of marital problems and lots of divorces.

I see that you do believe a little in cooperation when you say you favor same sex marriage. Wonderful.

I think the big divide between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans stress competition and Democrats stress (or should stress) cooperation.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at March 5, 2007 3:16 PM
Comment #210592

On the subject of Clinton, oral sex would have remained more obscure had certain parties (or is that a certain party?) not been so intent on exposing Clinton’s affair to the world. As for unwed mothers, the Sixties and free love have more to do with that than Murphy Brown.

Real world cultures are not so linear, not so simple. Many have tried to engineer morality back into society, only to feed back into its decadence instead. Positive pictures of morality in the media might have a good effect, but positive, how? Positive in that we have perfect characters who don’t have real world problems, or have no conflicts regarding them, or positive as in folks faced with complex problems managing to work out of them with unexpected integrity?

I mean, while some Republicans have fought against the the culture of self-gratification, in many ways, Republicans have also indulged in it. They champion political incorrectness, encouraging people to say what they please, rather than watch what they say. They champion a very management-centered approach to business, letting folks get away with putting draconian workloads on people, or aiding them in casting aside folks who would just as soon maintain their job security. With tax policy, they’ve consistently appealed to people’s greed, rather than their sense of responsibility, which might lead them to want to make the sacrifices necessary to deal with things.

Morality is often narrowly defined in politics nowadays, such that if you’re not talking about abortion or gay marriage, people practically don’t connect with it.

The culture will be doing much better when people realize that morality involves more than just what’s below the belt.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 5, 2007 3:46 PM
Comment #210595
American workers however, know the difference between their parents middle class achievements and what it took in work hours, and their own today.
Good point.

Aside from more workers per household, the 40-hour work week is disappearing.
What Congress should be focusing on is the approaching entitlements/demographics iceberg we are sailing toward. If we don’t change course soon, it may be too late.
Exacerbating everything is the total $42 trillion of nation-wide debt:

  • $8.75 trillion National debt (never larger except in 1995 and after WWII)

  • $12.8 trillion Social Security debt)

  • $450 billion pension debt

  • medicare debt; liable to make Social Security look mild in comparison

  • $20 trillion of nation-wide personal debt
Considering the total $22 trillion of federal debt, it has N_E_V_E_R been larger.
77 million retiring entitlement recipients over the next 20 years (7,305 days) is 10,540 recipients becoming elibigle each day! (yes, that’s right: per day).

Let’s conservatively assume the 77 million baby boomers only live another 20 years (on average).
Now, lets just estimate the cost for one year with 10,540 recipients becoming elibigle each day.
10,540 recipients per day x $9,000 of entitlements benefits per year per recipient x 365 days per year = $34.6 billion per year
Now consider that an additional 10,540 people are becoming eligible each day for 20 years.

That’s $34.6 billion per year more in benefits for only the first year (that’s in addition to benefits already being paid to pre-existing recipients).
That’s $69.2 billion per year more by the second year (doubled)
That’s $103.9 billion per year more by the third year.
That’s $138.4 billion per year more by the fourth year.
That’s $173.0 billion per year more by the fifth year.
That’s $207.0 billion per year more by the sixth year.
… … … … … … … … .
That’s $346 billion per year more by the tenth year.
That’s $692 billion per year more by the twentieth year, if the 77 million baby boomers all live at least 20 years longer.
And all that is in addition to those already receiving benefits in the first year.
Many will not live to the end of that 20 year period, but many will, and some will live beyond that.
That does not even address the looming Medicare shortages.
Currently, about 45 million people receive Social Security and Medicare benefits.
That could climb to 68 million people in 6 years (45 million + (10,540 x 365 x 6 years)).
It’s not a pretty picture.
The entitlements/demographics iceberg we are sailing directly toward:

  • may require 77 million baby boomers to work longer

  • may require reduced entitlements benefits

  • younger tax payers may be forced to pay more taxes

  • 77 million baby boomers will earn less, pay less taxes, spend less, and down-size

  • baby boomers are more diligent about voting

  • and the government is likely to borrow more and print more money because of all that, growing the debt and inflation ever higher
This will negatively impact the overall federal bugdet for many years into the future.

  • Posted by: d.a.n at March 5, 2007 4:06 PM
    Comment #210600


    My father was middle class. We did not own a car. We had a television that didn’t work well and not at all if it rained. We owned a house that was about 2/3 the size of the average house today. Nobody had PCs, microwaves etc. My shoes had holes in them by the end of most summers. We stuffed cardboard in when we played basketball. That was middle class back then. My friends were worse off, since they had lots of older brothers, they never got any new clothes.

    Today almost all Americans own a car. Most families have two. Home ownership is at an all time high and most homes these days have air conditioning, color cable TV and microwave ovens, things unavailable to all but the very wealthy thirty years ago. More women work outside the home today and that contributes to the higher material standard of living we now call middle class. With fewer kids at home, households are smaller. And people work on average fewer hours than they did back in those good old days.

    The progress since 1960 has been astonishing. Ordinary people have things - like that PC you mention – that nobody could have back then.

    The median is a good measure. If the median is $65,000 it means that at least half of the households earn $65,000 or more. If some of them earn more than that, so much the better.

    Re the middle class. The middle quintile starts at $53,016 in family income. (BTW it was only $40,189 in adjusted dollars back in 1970) So that means 60% of Americans earn more than that. There is no segment of the U.S. population that is poorer than it was in 1970 or 1980. The problem people have is that the richer half of the population got richer faster. You may or may not consider this a problem, but it is not the same problem as the poor or the middle class being worse off. In fact if you look at that chart I linked, you find that the income of the 60% quintile today would have put them in the 40% quintile back in 1970. The middle class is disappearing by moving up in income.


    Yes. THere are lots of causes. The 1960s were a very destructive decade. We have slipped a lot. I agree with you. I just do not think corporate scandal is the only or the primary cause of decline.

    re anti-PC - it is not aimed at saying anything. It is merely aimed at being able to tell the truth to power, usually in academic situaions.

    Posted by: Jack at March 5, 2007 5:02 PM
    Comment #210602

    d.a.n, d.a.n, d,a,n! Do you think that when the generals politely suggested in the winter of ‘42 that maybe men and resources were not being put to best use in street-to-street fighting in Stalingrad that Hitler just gave in to their pessimism? What kind of a man do you think Adolph was? He was an optimist, by god! He stayed the course and stuck to the plan. Of course, his army suffered 300,000 dead, 80,000 taken prisoner and essentially, lost the war three years before he shot himself but he still serves as a courageous example of P.M.S. No, sorry, wrong acronym, P.M.A. (Positive Mental Attitude).
    Now here you are, laying out all these dreary statistics, openly suggesting that maybe we don’t live in the best of all possible worlds; maybe it is NOT going to work out for the best.
    Shame on you. We don’t need your reality-based dismality here. (yes, spellcheck I know, but I have the right to use any word I wish, even if the word does not exist. THAT, my friend, is what I’M talkin’ about: pure can-do optimism!

    Posted by: charles Ross at March 5, 2007 5:19 PM
    Comment #210604

    Jack, so from your response to dan, I can take it that ‘cause you afford to wear shoes that don’t have holes in them in 2007 that you’re doin’ just fine?

    Posted by: charles Ross at March 5, 2007 5:24 PM
    Comment #210606

    charles Ross,
    I am an optimist.
    Because I think we can do much better.

    And the seriousness of the entitlements/demographics iceberg shouldn’t be underestimated, not to mention these other pressing problems that are not being addressed adequately for too long.

    So, are Bernanke (Fed. Chairman), Greenspan (former Fed. Chairman), and David Walker (U.S. Comptroller) pessimists too?

    • David Walker said “America is on a path to depression and bankruptcy, and the politicians to date, refuse to act to prevent it.”

    • Bernanke and Greenspan are expressing similar concerns, including trade deficits, and the growing wealth divide, the debt, deficits, entitlements, and the approaching entitlements iceberg.

    • Even Jack himself wrote:
      It [i.e. the deficit] would be fine EXCEPT for the entitlements iceberg we are sailing toward.
      … The demographics are just going to smash us unless we do something.

    charles Ross wrote: d.a.n, d.a.n, d.a.n! … Shame on you. We don’t need your reality-based dismality here.
    charles Ross, You are entitled to your opinion. Unfortunatly, you’re can not decide who and what people write here as long as it is with the limits of the Rules of Participation. So, if it’s OK with you, I’ll do the same as you and let you write what you want, and I’ll write what I want (within the limits of the Rules of Participation … which includes not telling people they can’t write here).

    Now, if you can disprove any of those facts, I’ll be happy to discuss any of that at length.

    charles Ross wrote: Jack, so from your response to dan, I can take it that ‘cause you afford to wear shoes that don’t have holes in them in 2007 that you’re doin’ just fine?
    charles Ross, Jack did not respond directly to me in this thread. His response with regard to shoes was to David R. Remer.
  • Posted by: d.a.n at March 5, 2007 5:45 PM
    Comment #210607

    I don’t agree with your take on the decade. It’s far to easy to blame on the sixties what had really been underway for years before that point, which was the relaxation of victorian sensibilities, and the decline of the church as a central force in people’s lives.

    Sometimes, you need to do away with the old order in order to better suit your society to new realities. Other times, the destruction of an old system that no longer effectively conveys or applies old values allow those old values to be acknowledged and cherished freshly. While morality shouldn’t be sunk in a morass of relativism, there’s no denying that we have to apply our morals in the context of today’s world, which is in a state of ongoing radical change.

    As for political correctness, go look at your typical line-up of Republican Pundits, and the things they say. The reaction against political correctness has gone deeper than you think.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 5, 2007 5:48 PM
    Comment #210608

    He was joking. I think he actually agrees with you.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 5, 2007 5:50 PM
    Comment #210609


    A good pair of comfortable shoes is very a very important component of happiness. If your feet hurt you sometimes do not think as clearly.

    When I look around at the poor these days, they have a fair amount of money to spend on shoes.

    Posted by: Jack at March 5, 2007 5:56 PM
    Comment #210610

    I think there were some good things in the sixties.
    There was the civil rights movement.
    That was a good thing, overall.
    There was much more fiscal responsibility and less debt.
    The bad part was Vietnam.
    That’s probably part of the reason L.B.Johnson didn’t run for office again.
    Compared to the sixties, in which I lived in, I see more and more severe problems now, that are being allowed to grow in number and severity, and some may soon reach critical mass within a decade or less.

    d.a.n- He was joking. I think he actually agrees with you.
    If so, I apologize. I read it three times and the comment that immediately followed to Jack with regard to me. It certainly fooled me. If so, again, I apologize. Posted by: d.a.n at March 5, 2007 6:00 PM
    Comment #210615

    I should have recognized the dry humor, because that Hilter example seemed like a terrible example of why we should be optimistic. Sorry. That’s not the first time I’ve been completely fooled by dry humor. It’s really funny if that was the intent, and of course, I feel like a fool.

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 5, 2007 6:41 PM
    Comment #210623

    My favorite quote from Mark Twain:

    “Always do the right thing. It will gratify some and astonish the rest.”

    Sometime I can give you my lecture on self-selection bias in observational studies of causality. Judea Pearl (father of Daniel Pearl, the reporter beheaded by terrorists) is also most eloquent on the subject. It is almost impossible to tell whether marriage causes wealth or wealth causes marriage without way more detailed data collection than are available. Deconvolving the forward feedback in the data requires sampling at several timepoints in each person’s life, an unlikely event.

    But thanks for playing.

    Posted by: mental wimp at March 5, 2007 7:35 PM
    Comment #210630

    I am very curious. Just where do you live? Certainly not in the south (SC, Ga, AL, MS.,Mo, or AR). Nor could you live in southern Texas.

    Believe me, there are still children wishing they had shoes, let alone cardboard to put in them. I’ve worked with them, talked with them, fed them, and watched them die from malnutrition and disease.

    Yes, Here in the US. Poor people, whose only crime was to get laid off, get sick, be poorly educated,get pregnant at too young at age, or have the forces of Mother Nature wipe them out.

    Oh, and please don’t forget the homeless,those doubling up with family members,and those living in cars (with their children) while they try to qualify for shelter.

    Did you know there are Habitat Homes sitting empty because the interests rates are to high for those for whom the structures were built can no longer afford the mortgages?

    We have 4 sitting in my town, 2 have been reprocessed, and 2 simply have stayed empty - all because the “jobs” the homeowners had were shipped to Mexico. This I know because I am on our local board.

    Things just don’t always work out the way you think they do. There are simply too many external forces coming into play. It is however a nice pipe dream.

    Congratulations to Philippe Houdoin
    and to Paul Siegel

    Posted by: Linda H. at March 5, 2007 8:14 PM
    Comment #210634

    I think Jack lives in Virginia.

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 5, 2007 8:24 PM
    Comment #210636

    Take a good look at this graph

    Notice, in 1980, 1% of the U.S. population had 20% of all wealth.

    It has now doubled to 40%.

    I don’t care if our poor are better off than the poor of 20+ years ago.

    We can and should do better.
    That won’t happen by repeatedly rewarding irresponsible incumbent politicians for irresponsible behavior.
    We send them money to be that way! ? !
    It’s really no wonder they are that way.
    We (voters) are programming them to be that way.

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 5, 2007 8:32 PM
    Comment #210639

    Jack: An interesting post. What I’m not sure about is whether a “marriage” is, per se, the operative variable in the data. There is research that suggests that a “committed, monogamous relationship,” is the operative variable. It is probable that a “marriage” where either or both members are “married” in name only don’t reap the apparent benefits of a “committed, monogamous relationship.”

    Posted by: Allen at March 5, 2007 9:07 PM
    Comment #210640

    Linda H

    There are poor people. Fewer of them than there used to be and we have defined poverty up.

    I am pointing out that the idea that the poor have gotten poorer or that the middle class is gone is just wrong.

    You can say that in our country of 300 million, we have some poor people. I am saying that their behavior contributes. This may not be their “fault”, but it is not helpful to ignore the behaviorial aspects.

    BTW interest rates are near historical lows. Maybe if you are on the board, you can get whomever owns those houses to cut them a break. After all, an empty house returns no revenue at all. That doesn’t make sense from any angle.

    Posted by: Jack at March 5, 2007 9:12 PM
    Comment #210641

    We need to look at the big picture.
    Even Jack acknowledges the entitlements iceberg we are headed toward.
    Everything else aside, that is what needs our attention, before it is too late.

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 5, 2007 9:16 PM
    Comment #210646

    Remember when we were growing up. We went home from school and there was usually a parent there to care for us. There might have been a few families where both parents worked but there were still lots of mostly moms around in the niegbor hood to keep an eye on us. Now when you go to a nieghbor hood during work hours they are like ghost towns. Most middle class kids are at daycare or when they get older become latch-key kids ,glued to the tube because it safer than letting them play outside. This is not a good thing for our kids or country. It also explains why married couples do better financialy. Both parents have to work. It is not by choice. It is a function of wages not keeping up. If that top 2% with 40% of the wealth had to settle with only a paltry 20% we could raise our children better.

    Posted by: BillS at March 5, 2007 11:38 PM
    Comment #210647

    Stephen D.:

    Morality is often narrowly defined in politics nowadays, such that if you’re not talking about abortion or gay marriage, people practically don’t connect with it.
    The culture will be doing much better when people realize that morality involves more than just what’s below the belt.

    I absolutely agree. These Republican conservatives love to lecture to us about morality and hold themselves up as superior to everyone, but it’s pure hogwash. It’s as plain as can be that the corporate plutocrats don’t give a rat’s ass how American families are surviving in the dog-eat-dog world their endless greed has created. And the Christian Right raves on and on about abortion, sex, and gay marriage, yet they prey on people who’ve lived lives of desperation because of their dismal upbringing, or who are lonely or old, and through fear and brainwashing techniques get them to hate and demonize their own fellow citizens, just because they are liberals who can’t and won’t agree with their fascist religious agenda.
    They’ve got women frothing at the mouth against abortion who themselves have had one, if not more abortions, but who feel enormously guilty about the choice they decided to make, and so would like to take that choice away from all women. They’ve got Televangelists out there lying through their teeth about godly miracles and magic, so that they can encourage poor people to forget about paying their bills in order to send their money to them — because “Jesus will one day reward them for it”. Thus, these lying charlatans become millionaires, living lives of ostentatious wealth while they set up their fascistic rightwing political action committees.
    They’ve got spokesmen like Ted Haggard who outwardly looked like the perfect Christian Republican, with the meek, submissive wife and the large brood of indoctrinated children, but who are self-hating homosexuals furtively getting their freak on with male prostitutes and using crystal meth, while simultaneously excoriating gay people in their sermons week after week. Gay people, mind you who unlike him are fully capable of being honest and confortable enough with their own sexuality to go out and try to find a relationship that might actually bring them happiness and true love.
    The right has got politicians like Delay and Cunningham and Foley — mouthing all the moral rhetoric, and being anything and everything but moral themselves. It’s such a bad joke.
    Many times when I hear people on the right talk about how wonderful it is that they’re the perfect model citizens who are married and stable and oh-so-traditional, I can’t help but think to myself: Yeah, naturally. After all, so many of them are scared to death of change. Indeed, many would rather live a complete lie than ever deal honestly with the truth about themselves or their spouses. Some are even naive enough to believe that guys like Ted Haggard are just in need of a few weeks of intensive Christian de-gayification in order to fit right back into the “normal and traditional” mold.
    Such desperation. Such dishonesty. Such a disconnect from reality and truth.

    I’m really proud of being a liberal. We’re not perfect human beings either, but at least we know that, and try to be honest with ourselves and with others. True morality takes a whole lot of honesty and compassion — and less judging and condemnation. The only time we seem to find it hard not to judge and condemn people is when hold themselves up as paragons virtue when it’s merely a carefully constructed artiface masking a great deal of weakness, lying, or dirty secrets.

    I don’t think God, if God exists, would approve of that either.

    Posted by: Adrienne at March 5, 2007 11:42 PM
    Comment #210649


    Of course your diatribe is quite one sided. The shoe fits on the left and the right. It also appears that anything on the right or that you don’t agree with is fascist.

    Meanwhile, The Washington Post, which is certainly not a bastion of conservatism,on March 4, had an article that that says a lot of what Jack had in his opening remarks.

    Posted by: tomh at March 6, 2007 12:23 AM
    Comment #210650

    I need to fix this sentence:
    “The only time we seem to find it hard not to judge and condemn people is when they hold themselves up as paragons of virtue, when it’s merely a carefully constructed artiface masking a great deal of weakness, lying, or dirty secrets.”

    “Of course your diatribe is quite one sided.”

    I’m entitled to my opinions, just as you are entitled to yours. If the Patriot Act hasn’t yet altered, abolished, or abridged it in some unknown way, far as I know, our freedom of speech is still our right under the First Amendment. As is your freedom of religion, and my freedom from your religion.

    “The shoe fits on the left and the right.”

    Care to elaborate? Remember, until this administration finds a way to take it away, we’re all entitled to launch our own diatribes.

    “It also appears that anything on the right or that you don’t agree with is fascist.”

    If you care to be honest with yourself, you might take a long hard look at what GOP leadership has been doing in this country. The corporatist plutocrats (neocons) paired with the militant rightwing Christians are a united force within the GOP and are attempting to create an authoritarian fascist state.
    Oh, and btw, there are a certain number of folks on the right who I don’t consider to be fascists.

    “Meanwhile, The Washington Post, which is certainly not a bastion of conservatism,on March 4, had an article that that says a lot of what Jack had in his opening remarks.”

    So what? Am I supposed to be stunned that people who work for the Washington Post can be illogical or wrong on occasion too? For instance, while Bob Woodward was hiding what he knew about the Plame investigation for two whole years, he was also publicly criticizing the investigation, claiming: “the consequences are not that great”, and that “there’s nothing to it”, and calling Patrick Fitzgerald’s behavior “disgraceful” and a “junkyard dog prosecutor.”
    Btw, the same is true of The New York Times as well (another paper that people on the right always claim is slanted left). Over there you could find Judith Miller clearly promoting the Bushco agenda and feeding us all the lies about WMD’s to promote their illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq.
    Just like marriages aren’t always perfect, neither are all newspapers perfect — including those two.

    Posted by: Adrienne at March 6, 2007 1:58 AM
    Comment #210658


    For everyone else, the one (possibly two) ideas presented in the author’s homage to himself are not new. For example, God relates (in a much more useful way than “Jack.”) the virtues of marriage among other things. Read the Bible if you are in doubt—it is a far more credible source than the author of the above post. Not into the Bible…ok, try most any ancient eastern spiritual/religious work. I would provide readers, here, with a bibliography, but that should be responsiblility of the person posting the blog topic. Of course, people posturing as intellects, scholars, academics, etc. usually can’t be bothered with such trival things.

    Posted by: Kim-Sue at March 6, 2007 9:11 AM
    Comment #210660

    Adrienne and Tom

    The shoe always fits both feet. All people are sinners and all people do rotten things. If we demand perfection, nobody will succeed. The key is to try to improve.


    I already did my gene pool thing and am now finished.

    I have no idea what you are talking about. I did not mention the Bible or directly reference any religion at all. I am taking a pragmatic approach, so why should you expect a bibliography on religion.

    I also do not posture as a scholar, intellectual or academic. I write. People like you enjoy reading what I write and come back for more. If they stop. I won’t write anymore. That is a service I provide to you at no cost and I am happy to have smart people like you fill in for my inadequacies.

    Posted by: Jack at March 6, 2007 9:23 AM
    Comment #210668

    I have to defend Jack, here. At least he is willing to put himself out there to initiate what often are very interesting exchanges. The blog editor recently asked for new writers to commit to putting out their views on a couple of topics a month. I thought about it but it is safer and more fun to stay in the peanut gallery and take my shots from there!

    Posted by: charles Ross at March 6, 2007 11:00 AM
    Comment #210695

    Right on, Jack!!!

    Posted by: Allen at March 6, 2007 1:37 PM
    Comment #210709

    It is not easy to become rich, but it is very easy to be not poor in the U.S.


    Well, at least you were smart enough to include the concept of luck, in your defense of this post. Of course luck is a relative concept. Some think it’s a matter of luck that one is born of middle class or wealthty birth. Some think it’s a matter of luck to remain in poverty, once you are born to it. Some think it’s a matter of moral fibre that picks you up from a fall and puts you back on the road to health and financial stability.

    But it isn’t just luck or moral fiber. It’s mathematical probabliity that poorness and ill health follow poorness and ill health. It’s not luck. It’s a cultural bias inherent in the Republican heralded capitalistic-boot-straps-ethos. Which is what I reject about your theme to this piece and about Republican philosophy in general. It’s a sell out to the rich are better mindless mentality that is absolutely a useless platitude. Calling it luck doesn’t make it less mind numbingly elitist.

    The rich aren’t luckier. The table is tilted.

    Posted by: gergle at March 6, 2007 1:59 PM
    Comment #210748

    Jack’s best line? “The stereotype is that Republicans are more into personal responsibility.”

    Who’s believing that is the stereotype anymore? 9/11 on W’s watch after ignoring intel? Not his fault. The recession under W? Not his fault. No WMDs in Iraq despite the UN inspectors telling us as much before the push to bomb? Bad intel, not his fault. Libby going to jail? Not Libby’s fault. Delay? Biased prosecutor. Things going poorly in Iraq? Medias fault. Katrina repsonse poor? Mayor and state’s fault. Bin laden still running free? Not his fault. Civil War in Iraq? There’s no civil war in Iraq. CIA Agent outed? Huh, what outing? Global warming? Not man’s fault. And so it goes. Can you name one time in recent history, in the many, many failures they’ve had, where a Republican, or the Bush Administration said, “We blew it, we accept we blew it, we take responsibility.” And all of their followers just go along, “Not their fault.”

    I think with the GOP Culture of Corruption, and the pass the buck Administration, and all of the followers screaming “It’s Willy’s fault” no matter what the issue, the reality is “The stereotype is that Republicans are more into personal responsibilty is simply a joke.”

    Posted by: Boomer at March 6, 2007 3:39 PM
    Comment #210764


    The downturn started in March 2000. If Bush can travel in time, it is his fault. Besides presidents get too much credit or blame for the economy. There is a big difference between macro and micro events.

    Something like Libby is the “fault” of Libby. Yes.

    Something like Katrina has lots of contributors.

    There is also the problem with the macro taking responsibilty. What does that mean? If tomorrow Bush became convinced that everything re Katrina was his fault. How would his current behavior change?


    It is clear that random chance and circumstances play big roles in success. It is also clear that those two things are not sufficient to explain success in our society.

    Most people to do not start out very rich or abysmally poor. You could probably say that about 5% of the population is so rich that not much can affect them and about 5% are so poor that they have almost no chance. That leaves the rest of us who have unequal but decent chances and that is where most of the action in society is. That is where behavior makes a big difference.

    You know the rough defintion of free will is whether behavior is predictable. If I tell you both my parents we HS dropouts, that my grandfather was an immigrant who never really learned English, that I attended urban public schools and that my parents could not afford a car while I was growing up, can you predict with any accuracy what I am doing in life? I do not think so.

    Life is a mixture of chance, circumstance and behavior. Maybe your circumstance and luck are so bad it is almost impossible to get ahead. But that is unlikely. It is more likely that your circumstances are a challenge (most are), but your behavior either makes you a success or not.

    If your retirement plan consists of buying lottery tickets, you have problems, but no doubt once in a while you will strike it rich. That is luck. If you save and invest wisely, you probably will do all rich, but once in a while you will get wiped out. That is also luck. But low probablities. We have safety nets for these things, but if you try to lift the net too high, you destroy the behaviors that allow people to save themselves.

    Posted by: Jack at March 6, 2007 4:44 PM
    Comment #210793

    ..”.hypocracy is the tribute vice pays to virtue.”Beautiful,just beautiful.
    You are right about marriage. I’ve been married lots of times and its been mostly great.

    Posted by: BillS at March 6, 2007 9:29 PM
    Comment #210844

    Jack said:
    “Most people to do not start out very rich or abysmally poor.”

    No, Jack, nor do they end up there. The biggest predictor of relative wealth is where you started, or where your parents started. This belies your theory that behavior is what changes this. The biggest difference is what you inherit. Be it position, health, coping skills and access.

    Most people’s real income is dropping while the wealthy few are getting richer. That you have a better education than your father is typical. Most of us do. That’s why I find it strange that Republicans attack the puclic education system as a failure.

    Getting a degree is paramount to keeping your wages from dropping out of site, as a new caste system is developing in this country.

    The big lie is that you have a decent chance. You have a better chance than a poverty ridden economy or war torn foreign shore, but calling that decent is deceptive. Looking at the numbers and reality tells you we live in a society with an elite caste and the rest of us poor schmoes.

    If you’re smart enough and slick enough, you might pull a fast one and win the lottery by suing the chemical company that crippled your child, and collecting a pittance of their cash stream to keep the board and CEO from going to jail…kinda like in Bhopal, but with Dollars instead of Rupee’s. Of course, there will those Republicans out shouting how your pittance is destroying the economy, so they propose a bill that will pay off the tort attorneys and reduce your pittance to 1/10th.

    Republicans are quickly becoming the party of liars by sticking with Bush. Soon they are to become the party of Marie Antoinette, as they try to explain their theories of wealth acquisistion in some temperence laced theories about why the rich get richer. Tell it to your rich buddies. I ain’t buying, and the public is growing tired of the same song. Republicans and Democrats both have lost this message because they have become Plutocrats.

    Posted by: gergle at March 7, 2007 2:08 AM
    Comment #210852


    I must apologize! I could have sworn you were trying to pass yourself off as someone of high high education and intellect. Thank you for clarifying those points for me. Although, I already suspected that whatever higher education creditials you do possess only serve as a veneer.

    Now that I know you are trying to pass youself off as a “writer”…. Well then, at least your [I’m not sure what to call it] “writings” don’t cost anything.

    Posted by: Kim-Sue at March 7, 2007 4:47 AM
    Comment #210872


    You like what I write or you would not be here and if you do not, stay home. You are welcome to enjoy my writing, but I do not need you.

    I am sorry if you think I am stupid. Despite this lack of intellect, I do well for myself. I hope you are as successful.

    Posted by: Jack at March 7, 2007 9:26 AM
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