Sometimes it is shameful to be poor

I saw a note from the Bernie Sanders campaign claiming that Bernie’s net worth is only $330,506. They seem to think this is an honor. I consider it a significant shame. The man has held well-paying jobs for a whole lifetime. A reasonable and prudent man who merely put money commensurate with his high income into a retirement savings fund would/SHOULD have much more than that. I am sick of this idea that being poor is virtuous. Being poor may be unavoidable but it is not a virtue. And a person should take pride in having done enough to take care of himself and others.

Take a simple analogy. Five of us are on an extended hike. We all have supplies in our backpacks. The prudent and generous person carries enough for his reasonable needs plus enough to help others who may be unlucky. A person who has packed only enough for himself is selfish and imprudent. The one who has packed less than he needs is irresponsible and selfish. The good man is the one who can reasonably take care of his own needs and those of others.

I am not preaching the virtues of selfishness. On the contrary, oppose it. But let's consider what it means to be selfish. It is selfish not to share what you have with others. But the worst form of selfishness is to demand stuff from others because you have not planned properly. In other words, I do not share with you AND I want part of what you have in your pack.

We all depend on each other. The basis of civilized behavior, however, is not generosity. It is reciprocity. The good man does his part. He is prepared to share with others and expects other to share when they have the capacity. A person who needs help is given help. But NEEDS is the key. Those who need help due to their own habits or poor planning should still be helped, but they have let us all down.

IF Bernie is telling the truth about his net worth, he has let down the team. After many years of unusual opportunity, he has not properly prepared for potential troubles he could face. He relies on sweet serendipity and the kindness of strangers. But HE should be the one in the position to help. It is both pathetic and despicable to be in such a position when he has had so many advantages.

Posted by Christine & John at August 21, 2015 10:22 AM
Comments
Comment #397685
Take a simple analogy. Five of us are on an extended hike. We all have supplies in our backpacks. The prudent and generous person carries enough for his reasonable needs plus enough to help others who may be unlucky. A person who has packed only enough for himself is selfish and imprudent. The one who has packed less than he needs is irresponsible and selfish. The good man is the one who can reasonably take care of his own needs and those of others.

As an avid backpack camper, I can assure you there are dangers associated with over-packing as well. The added weight can be burdensome. The correct procedure is to pack what one needs and nothing more.

Posted by: Warren Porter at August 21, 2015 11:09 AM
Comment #397688

Warren

I take a little more than I think I need and certainly enough.

Of course, I am also recalling when I would hike with the kids and had to carry enough for whatever they needed. In fact that is the responsible analogy. Bernie is just pulling his own weight and not really preparing for the future. He is the parent who has enough for himself, but no surplus for others.

Posted by: C&J at August 21, 2015 12:06 PM
Comment #397689

I’m sure that doesn’t count his three retirement plans that he will benefit from for his 25 years in the House/Senate. Assuming he’s put in the max $17.5, the max catch up, and gotten the 1:1 match on the $17.5, then he’s probably got a couple of million in that one. Then there’s the FERS defined benefit plan that’s going to pay him another $100k/yr (probably already is since he’s 73). Tack on SS and, while it’s not Hillary money, it would make for a nice retirement down here in SC.

Posted by: George in SC at August 21, 2015 3:39 PM
Comment #397690

“and gotten the 1:1 match on the $17.5..”

Congress has a type of 401K plan but the match is up to 5% of the employee investment not a 1:1 match.

Posted by: Rich at August 21, 2015 4:30 PM
Comment #397701

Why on earth would you put Bernie Sanders, 330k and poor in the same post C&J? For starters Sanders isn’t poor. He is honest but not poor. Are you assuming that being an elected official is a ticket to wealth? That is what is wrong with our world today. We expect our elected officials to be rich not just well to do.

As far as your analogy you have measured in dollars and what dollars can buy. What if the “poor” hiker helped you carry your back pack would he still be selfish? If we expand our view of things to the rest of the world we will find many who by your standards are poor yet they are virtuous. Capitalism is the reason. The economic system favors some at the expense of others.

It’s like all these guys who had the advantages of growing up in the upper middle class, attending better schools, parents who knew someone to help get then into even better colleges, getting a start at a big corporation after graduation and then becoming one of the guys and getting promoted into upper management telling us how they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps while sending jobs overseas and complaining of all those who are “poor” and lazy.

Posted by: j2t2 at August 21, 2015 8:14 PM
Comment #397702

George

His net worth should include his TSP. I don’t think it is true that his net worth is so low. I do think that IF it is, he is a loser and I do not think that he should be proud of it or anybody should vote for him based on that.

Rich

See above - I think that Bernie is lying about his net worth. However, I find it disturbing that anyone would think it was good if he was so poor.

A person in Bernie’s position, work history and age should have a net worth of not less than $2-3 million and probably not more than $10 million.

Posted by: C&J at August 21, 2015 8:18 PM
Comment #397703

j2t2

If he helped carry, he would be part of the team and good. The obligation is mutual. What annoys me about the rich-poor debate today is the idea that the rich should just give to the poor.

Re Bernie’s wealth - please see above. I can do the math on this kind of thing. A person with Bernie’s income history should have at least a couple million dollars. It is just prudent. We are not talking about that hypothetical poor victim. Bernie had all the advantages. IF he really has only that much net worth, people like him are part of the problem, part of the reason so many Americans are not prepared for retirement, not doing their part.

Posted by: C&J at August 21, 2015 8:35 PM
Comment #397706

C&J, The rich take from the poor, they have rigged the system in their favor, taken advantage of our political system by buying politicians and turned the economy into a non productive financial driven system. Just look at the income inequality we have in this country if you are in denial about this.

I can’t believe you buy into the myths that a CEO works 400 times harder than an employee and other nonsensical bits of misinformation those that enable the wealthy to continue to take more than they earn continue to spout. That a hedge fund manager is worth a billion more dollars a year, despite not producing anything, than a farmer or an electrician is wrong C&J yet you blame the victim not the perp.

Posted by: j2t2 at August 21, 2015 11:27 PM
Comment #397708

j2t2

Sometimes the rich take from the poor. More often they create wealth in the sense that work and innovation create wealth.

We are not talking here about CEOs or even about income inequality in general. This was not Bernie’s problem. He earned good money consistently over many years. He had the opportunity to save and invest. If he failed to do so, he is to blame for not preparing enough for his own future and be able to help others.

We can talk about those at the very top and very bottom being separate. For most of us, those who fall in the 90%, choices matter.

Posted by: C&J at August 21, 2015 11:44 PM
Comment #397719

C&J did not include those legitimate investments he has made over the course of many decades. Congressmen know enough people to make those sound investments. And Bernie is saying he has not done that? He certainly would be worth many more dollars than what he claims. Uf he is telling the truth he has squandered away a whole lot of money. I agree with the conclusion that he is lying, kinda like Hillary when she left the WH and said she was broke. Sure would like to see some true statesmanship at work in WDC and elsewhere.

Posted by: tom humes at August 22, 2015 2:34 PM
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