What do we "owe" society
I hate it when people use the term “giving back.” Don’t get me wrong. I believe in charity and helping others. But giving back implies you have taken more than your share. Some people have indeed done this, but I expect they are less likely to give. In my life, I figure that I have a net positive balance. I have taken a lot, but contributed too. We all stand on the shoulders of previous generations and we can argue that we can never pay them back. This may be true in the theoretical sense, but has no practical value. After all, you cannot “pay back” dead generations.
Guilt is an interesting thing. I feel guilty for specific things I have done or left undone, but I have no generalized feeling of guilt. I am not responsible for ills of society. I did not cause slavery, war or genocide. The world's poor do not suffer their plight because of me.
I want to help makes things better and I give freely of my own resources, but I do so out of desire to help, not to atone. I don't owe you anything unless we have an specific relationship. I will help you if I can and if it seems appropriate, unless you try to guilt me; in that case, you get the bupkis you deserve.
Posted by Christine & John at April 2, 2014 8:25 PM
I’m not feeling too guilty right now as it’s April and that means tax time. My CPA gives me a 3 year summary and this year is the highest % of federal tax to gross income of the three. It might even be the highest I’ve had since I started using Scehule A.
Guilt is used a lot by the left, and often disguised as claims for equality.
I’d like to see stats on who gives more and who is actually mostly taking more.
Seems like lefties like to grow welfare, government, and taxes more often and there may be a reason for that if more lefties are taking and more moderates and righties are funding it?
Sometimes it seems to me when I read those on the left, that they believe our Constitution and government was formed to give citizens monetary things.
I find no reference in the Constitution or any of our founders papers that suggest that government should provide “stuff” to individual citizens. There is no authorization anywhere that mandates or even suggests that government should give the governed material things.
Some on the left are convinced that the “welfare clause” is justification for government monetary largess for the governed. Take another look…it doesn’t mean that.
I agree with C/J…I don’t owe anyone anything. I have worked hard all my life, had some success, saved a little for retirement, obeyed the law, and served my country in our armed forces. Am I now the bad guy? Am I responsible for the poor, the uneducated, the slothful, and all those who have less than I do?
I refuse to wear the mantle of guilt that some on the left would drape me with. When I choose to help my fellow man I do so with my own money and resources…and I do so willingly. We, as individuals, can choose to be charitable. There is no provision in our Constitution for government to make that choice for us.
What do we expect society to think when, for over 100 years now, we’ve paid our federal government to take care of us.
First, we have economic depressions and the federal government gives the power of the Treasury to the Federal Reserve and told us economic depressions will be a thing of the past. Even now they say the Federal Reserve is there to even out the business cycle.
Next, only one generation after, and in spite of the Federal Reserve, we have a major depression and the federal government says it will take care of the unemployed and those too old to work with “social security” and unemployment “insurance” and a miriad of other programs to “help” the poor.
Then, another generation passes and, we get medi-care and medic-aid to “help” the poor and the elderly with their medical problems. All the while dictating how and when the medical problems get dealt with.
And Now, another generation passes albiet delayed by the over-reach of Hillary-care, we have what our federal government calls “universal health care” as if it is supposed to cover everything in the universe!
So really, what should we expect? People now just look, slack-jawed, at the government, with their hand out because, generation after generation, they have been conditioned to think that is the only way they’re going to get anything.
We asked for it! We got it!
Maybe we are ready for a tax to support the downtrodden of the world. Maybe managed by the UN or similar.
The ability to manipulate the tax code (law) makes billionaires out of some and po folks out of others.
Yep! What we owe society is to try to pull our heads out of our #&//$, try some common sense, less greed and selfishness, and stop rewarding corrupt politicians with perpetual re-election. Or not, and watch the deterioation grow worse. One way or another, ee are going to get our education, and it looks like it will be the hard way again.
Somehow, we need to slow Corpocracy down. Thinking back to the Regan era when the pol’s promised border control. And since, we have taken on some 20M folks just walking across the border, amnestizing some, others - just let the chips fall where they may. Families having children with no legal rights depending on gov’t to provide for them What a mess and all for the Corpocracy. Big biz is determined to get more near slave labor. And, the pols want to get more folks signed up on SS.
Both are asinine reasons. Would be different if the US was spewing out high tech jobs which it ain’t.
IMHO we can pay back previous generations by doing for the future generations what the past generations did for us.
As far as what is owed to society I believe we have a responsibility, not owe, equal to the rewards we have gained from the advanced society we live in. We have a lot when we consider Haiti or some of the other poorer countries.
I think we need to understand the monumental shift that has transpired since WWII in not only the USA but in the world. The greatest generation saw one if not two world wars and turned towards preventing a third in this country. As a result we have a society that is more inclusive than in the past with respect to different religions, different skin colors, nationalities and sexual orientation amongst other factors. Our tribal mindset allows that we are going downhill as a country due to these changes. Common is less common these days.
We also have the technological globalization that has caused many problems for this country while becoming a boon for others as capitalism favors the low wage slave labor, lax environmental regulations amongst others. This shift has for many years now caused many social issues as we strive to regain our status as #1 in the world. Remember when one persons wages could support a family now two wage earners aren’t enough for many families.
The point is this type of social upheaval combined with deregulation and privatization has left many Americans at the mercy of the few who have profited from these changes.
Using the common talking points we hear from conservatives such as the poor are lazy, they have a bad lifestyle, they expect government to do everything etc is reason to feel guilty,IMHO. Many can sit back and say it isn’t their fault the poor are poor after all “we didn’t cause slavery, war or genocide” but in many cases the people we elected to office did cause war. Some gained from supplying the war efforts many lost family and fortune because of it. So perhaps we shouldn’t feel guilty for that but we should share some responsibility for it.
Yes, we are all culpable.
How we vote matters.
Much of what we do everyday matters.
The U.S. appears to be in decline and the majority of people are the majority of the problem.
To the extent that I am responsible for the way the U.S. has developed during my lifetime, on balance I am proud. It is a better place now than it was when I showed up. It could be better still, but dealing with reality it is not bad.
re the poor - I want to help the poor. The way to do that is to help them do better, a partnership not a patronage paradigm. People become and remain poor due to a complex of habits, attitudes and behaviors. If we want to address poverty, we need to address those things. I am willing and even eager to help those willing to improve. I want them to pull their own weight and enjoy the feeling of self worth I am most of the others on Watchblog have achieved.
Re slavery and genocide - we have fought against those things and our vigilance has saved millions in formerly communist countries and given a chance to oppressed groups such as Afghan women. Sorry we couldn’t do more, but others should pull some of the burden too.
A better place now for who, certainly not the poor that are the subject of conservative attacks. on the working class and the poor.
The truth is that certain behaviors and habits as associated with becoming and remaining poor. There are few people remain poor who don’t abuse drugs or booze, manage their money well, value long term relationships, avoid committing crimes and plan for the future. The only exceptions are sometimes people with serious disabilities.
I have never met a habitually poor person whose poverty I could not explain in terms of behaviors or in the serious disability, as above. Anybody can fall into temporary poverty. If you stay there a long time, you are doing something wrong. We would help most by identifying these habits and trying to get people to do differently.
I have always tried to help in this way. Dozens of people are not poor today because of my personal attention. I may be able to do more, but, as I wrote, I have no cause to feel guilt for the plight of those I was unable to help and certainly not for those who would ignore my good advice anyway. There is nobody who is poor because I am better off and there are some who are less poor BECAUSE I am better off.
No guilt attaches in any but the religious sense related to original sin. If you are making a religious argument, I will have to let that go since I generally do not argue theology.
I perceive many similarities between habitual obesity and long-term generational poverty. Except for those with disabilities, both obesity and poverty are mostly self-inflicted.
Have you ever witnessed a person walking on a treadmill while eating high carb and high caloric food at the same time. You know for certain that this person is not really serious about weight loss.
Those living in poverty will remain there unless they themselves make positive changes in their life. What will it take to inspire those individuals to make those necessary changes? Will another government program do the trick? If so, why haven’t the myriad government programs long in existence eliminated most poverty?
Can, and does, the government inspire the generational poor to better themselves and thus their lives? If so, where is the evidence?
The truth is that certain behaviors and habits as associated with becoming and remaining poor. There are few people remain poor who don’t abuse drugs or booze, manage their money well, value long term relationships, avoid committing crimes and plan for the future.
Were this factual C&J wouldn’t rich people who abused alcohol or drugs become poor? Wouldn’t the very rich become poor when they divorce or go to jail for short periods of time? Yet we all know of people who are rich yet abuse drugs and or alcohol.
It seems to me you have fallen for some myths created by conservatives to salve their guilty feelings. Isn’t it much easier to do when you can use the assorted conservative myths such as lazy, drugs, and whatever else you use instead of admitting the voodoo economic of Reagan that is our economic system is rigged, globalization favors the rich, crony capitalism and other real world reasons why the poor get poorer and the rich get richer.
You are making a category error. First, I am talking statistically. It is not a syllogism. But if we use the language of the syllogisms, we can say that not everyone with bad habits is poor but everybody who is habitually poor has at least a few of the bad habits and behaviors.
As I have been trying to tell you, guilt is not one of my important emotions. I have replaced it with a kind of responsible ethic, which I think is morally superior. I work to keep my word and doing things that are useful. Only when I fail at that do I feel the emotion you feel all the time as guilt. I have made nobody poor, so I have no reason to feel guilt on this.
I think that this unfocused guilt is often a characteristic of liberals and I think you are morally suspect because of it. I have liberal friends who are “concerned for the poor” but personally do nothing for anybody. IMO, morally weak people flock to liberalism, since it gives them an easy out. They can vote away their guilty feelings.
But please don’t project that guilt onto me. I don’t feel it for anything I have not personally done on purpose and even then I can get over it quickly if the situation changes. I conquered that emotion when I was in my twenties. I can help you with some exercises if you want to become as free as I am to do real good rather than feel bad about what you haven’t done.
BTW - crony capitalism REQUIRES larger government involvement. I dislike it more than you do, but I work at cutting the roots while you just swing at the leaves on the right side of the tree.
I agree with the general premise that you cannot help the poor lift themselves up by making them comfortable in their poverty. I have also witnessed the decline of wages in manufacturing, and many of the other skilled blue collar jobs that once offered someone willing work a decent standard of living. I see those same people now working for wages that were considered good in the 1980s, but barely allow them to exist in todays economy.
So what is the answer ? Forcing an artificial minimum wage on employers will only act to drive more of these jobs overseas, and allow a small handful of those lucky enough to secure a job in a sector that cannot be outsourced for whatever reason to live well at the cost of the rest of us.
I believe a balance between our ability to compete in the global market place coupled with reasonable regulation on imported goods would go a long way to helping alleviate this problem. The other issue I see is the lack of true free market capitalism where the one making the most viable product succeeds. I don’t think gov’t should be in the business of propping up industries through subsidies. I also realize that the availability of cheap goods has in its own way has helped the average person, but where is the fulcrum between affordable goods and maintaining good paying skilled blue collar jobs in this country ?
In order to give those willing to work the ability to succeed, we need to create an environment that lends itself to producing the types of jobs that will help the average person at least achieve the ability to live a comfortable middle class lifestyle.
We need to teach the poor better habits. Indeed, it might be useful to give better wages. But it must also come with discipline.
McDonald’s used to be (maybe still is) a great trainer of the poor. I worked there for a while during college. They demand excellence. We always had to smile, be nice to customers no matter what and constantly keep things clean. There were simple procedures. For example, start filling the drinks, grab the sandwiches, put them in the bag first, get the fries in one motion, put them in the bag, grab the drinks and smile as you deliver them to the customer. It is not very hard, but there are some people who don’t do it, some who thing they should not “have to.” These people end up in two categories. The smart ones become entrepreneurs. The dumb ones just stay poor. There are more dumb ones.
You are making a category error.
And you are only telling part of the story. Perhaps the reason the poor do drugs, say mental illness, is why they are poor C&J. I am saying it isn’t the drugs themselves because rich and well to do people do drugs yet are still making money.
The same can be said about managing money well. It depends upon how much money you are managing most of the time. The poor start with little or nothing and the basics are costly, you mange the money well but try living in a tent in a trickle down town with young kids and a minimum wage job.
I know you did all these things in your mind when you were “poor” but when you did them the cost of a college education has risen exponentially since then. Middle class jobs were available for grads then, many today are graduating to minimum wage jobs.
Of course planning for the future to the poor may be what do I feed the kids tonight, it just isn’t the same as planning for the future as you think of it. Part of the problem is children raised by the poor develop little ability to plan for the future when day to day is tough without money. I am saying the myths created by conservatives that claim the poor are lazy and such aren’t really the case most of the time.
As I have been trying to tell you, guilt is not one of my important emotions….
I believe that C&J, you have evolved above “guilt” which is good IMHO, If this evolution is due to empathy not the myths conservatives create to help themselves evolve beyond guilt. That is my point C&J, Hell no one should feel guilty for having empathy for others. But over the past few years it seems conservatives have told us the unemployed are unemployed because they choose to be. Hardly empathy IMHO C&J.
I think that this unfocused guilt is often a characteristic of liberals and I think you are morally suspect because of it.
Ah yes the conservative moral high ground. It is the liberal who lack morals, but are you sure C&J that you are not confusing morals and money? More money doesn’t equate to more morals, in fact many poor people have very high moral standards and have had for generations yet they don’t have the money you have. Sounds to me like your morals argument is a syllogism.
But please don’t project that guilt onto me.
Wouldn’t do that C&J. I am talking empathy not guilt. I am simply asking that conservatives look at the myths they spout about the poor and unemployed and realize where deregulation and trickle down economics combined with technological advances and globalization have left the majority of people in this country.
I can help you with some exercises if you want to become as free as I am….
Thanks but I will pass, it seems you may be a bit confused about this guilt versus empathy thing, so I will go it without your help for now.
BTW - crony capitalism REQUIRES larger government involvement.
Not necessarily that is yet another conservative myth. Lax rules and regs, the revolving door between industry and the regulators, collusion amongst corporations all are part of crony capitalism C&J, the “well if we just make government smaller” myth just allows more crony capitalism.
but I work at cutting the roots while you just swing at the leaves on the right side of the tree.
Capitalism is the root of crony capitalism C&J, not government. Swinging at the leaves, or myths, of the right as I do may allow some light into the forest C&J. If we cant see the forest for the trees we won’t solve anything.
I say lets deal with the real problem C&J, lets not try to make those out of work feel guilty after this country hemorrhaged millions of jobs, many never to return. Lets not make the poor feel guilty for being poor and idolize the rich who have cronied their way into power. Lets hold the job creators responsible for doing their jobs, creating jobs and not reward them for poor performance.
Being out of work is not the same as being chronically poor. Most people have been poor at some time in their lives and most have recovered.
The bad habits infect those who are poor for many years.
So I think we should divide the poor into different groups. Some are poor chronologically. Almost all of us were poor when we were young. Another group are those who faced bad luck. Also a passing stage. We have those affected by the bad economy. This economic recovery has indeed been bad, but we presume it will eventually improve.
All the above group could include you and me and probably did. But there is a group that is poor all the time, sometimes generationally. These people have bad habits or bad attitudes. It may not be their “fault.” They may have learned it from parents and it may be the result of conditions of the past that have now changed. Whatever the reason, they will be poor always unless they change.
Re morals and money - that is your formulation, not mine. I am not saying good habits will make you rich; they are likely to make you not poor.
BTW - just as there are people temporarily poor, there are those temporarily rich. Most of the rich were not rich their entire lives and many will not stay rich more than a year or two.
Generally speaking, there is a lot of movement in incomes and outcomes. We need not be very much concerned with that. We need to address the chronically poor. The question is how they got that way. When we answer that, we can address the problem.
Excuse me if I interject in your conversation with j2t2. You are correct about doing something about the chronically poor although I do have a hard time referring to other people like that and would rather take that they just don’t have the ability to realize their potential and that is disheartening.
I also think that there is something that can be said for the chronically self righteous. I am not accusing you of that. You seem to have a grasp on being poor and being able to understand that for you it meant realizing your own potential. But there is a segment of our society that seems to want to be chronically self righteous, it insulates them from being able to accept any suggestion that the chronically poor need to realize their potential. It sometimes seems to me that by being self righteous about the poor they can then just revert to “it’s their fault and they will always be that way” mentality and not be able to conceive that they do have potential, just as we know all humans have.