Friday, April 11, 2008

a rant

Just finished reading this, hopped on the internet to check out some news and somehow landed here.

I think I lack the word to express the utter disbelief and outrage at the disconnect between the classes here in our society. It's awful. And embarrassing. And shameful. And we should be doing more, and spending less on kitchens that are overbearingly proud at the ridiculous price spent on the paint that covers the walls ("
and at $125 for two-thirds of a gallon, one of the most expensive paints out there, Mr. Brooks claimed with pride"- The New York Times).

And while I think government has its part to play, this goes beyond Democrat and Republican. It has to do with the feelings of entitlement and casual disregard for other human beings. It has to do with those who "have" really not understanding the realities of those who "have not." It comes from plain, ugly greed, couched in the terms of self-reliance, and the desire to get so far ahead of everyone else that the "poor among us" are simply left out of sight.

I am not suggesting we all go out and live in cardboard boxes. Nor am I suggesting legislation that demands that the rich buy houses for the poor. (Although there's a thought!)

Ultimately this has to do with where an individual's heart is. I think our nation has some heart placement problems.


  1. OH....I so agree with you!

    Because of where I live (in a very expensive part of the country), and because of my husband's choice of profession (public education), we barely make ends meet. And that is a crime!

    Our middle class is on the verge of extinction--if it isn't already extinct.

    I'm going to have to pick up that book.

    I think the gap is just going to get wider and that our country's "health" is going to suffer.

    Rant all you want. :)

  2. I have to play devil's advocate on this one (although I have to say that I really agree with Lindsey about teacher pay.. and police officers, librarians, fire fighters, soldiers and other public servants/heros). I think that our governments should pay those people commensurate with their contribution and education.. but that's another subject.

    I also agree that people should be far more generous. I was disturbed to see that Obama donated .04 percent of his salary to charity when he was making over two hundred thousand dollars per year and then wants to tax away the riches of others... hypocrisy I think. That's not the kind of leadership we need or change for that matter.

    But, in theory I have no problem with a 6 figure kitchen. And, I don't believe that the rich should buy homes for the poor. Social entitlement programs have done that for ages and it doesn't work. Just visit NYC.. as I know you have and you can see building after building of homes built for the poor that are now housing the great grandchilden of those who started living on the dole and passed it down as a lifestyle choice to their children.

    How many people did that guy employ (even if he's the world's biggest jerk) to build that kitchen? I would so much rather have a job or even two and be scraping by than living in a home that was purchased for me.

    Now if someone is unable to work, handicapped or elderly that's different.. but I think that job training and education are the answer.. not buying things for people.

    I would like to see something like the perpetual education fund made available to everyone.

  3. Good comments. My question - is there a point where spending becomes immoral and if so when is that point reached? For example, when $50/gal paint will do the same thing as $120/gal paint, is it an immoral allocation of resources to buy the $120/gal variety? Should the $70/gal disparity be donated by choice to, shall we say, the perpetual education fund or like ventures? All of this has to do with the moral fabric of society which seems to be unraveling on both ends - with the rich and the poor.

  4. Hey Tiffany-
    I agree about Social Entitlement programs. I do have issues with spending so much on a kitchen, because part of spending that amount is just for the "brand"- I don't believe that extra money goes to the workers. If it did, great. Part of the problem is that employers are not willing to share the wealth.

    The woman who wrote the book I read tried to live on $7 an hour jobs and could barely make it. It gives some interesting insights into how people really live, and I have to say, I don't know how much of it is a lifestyle choice as a life cycle they can't break out of, and that is our problem, not just theirs.

  5. I think the Perpetual Education is a good plan to follow, as well! It creates opportunity and responsibility.

  6. I mostly agree with you Allysha.. but I think this is an interesting discussion. I like Sally's comment. You could keep on expanding that. Say, is it immoral to buy Louis Vuitton? For my own personal moral code.. I believe in the principle of modesty (which I think is a lot deeper than just making sure all of a persons bits and pieces are covered :)! I try to practice modesty and to be a generous person. However, I have never had great riches to tempt me!! :)
    But, there are two ideas that kind of bother me. I don't believe in raising the minimum wage, which people like the lady who wrote this book seem to be promoting. I don't think that people were meant to make a living say bagging groceries. If you raise the minimum wage across the board then you just raise the price of everything for everyone and so if the guy who used to make $7 now makes $9.. he can't feel it because everything he buys reflects that. That just causes inflation and doesn't help anyone in a real sense.

    Another thing.. back to the kitchen. (I don't think that I would have that kitchen even though I love it and even if I could afford it.) And, great deal of money was spent on the paint that's true. And, maybe most of the money from that paint went to the brand. But, there were also a lot of artisans who built that kitchen who would not have work doing the work they love if millionaires didn't buy outragous kitchens. As an artist, I (who make very little per hour) love that people can work doing what they enjoy. It is a great blessing for me. (In truth if you can make a living wage doing what you love.. you are wealthy in my opinion).

    I also agree with Sally that it's about moral fabric. It seems that the wealthy seem to hoard and the poor seem to act more entitled and less industrious. But, that maybe more just what the news covers because I really do see Americans doing an amazing amount of good because they are such generous people.. maybe not perfect, but some of the most generous people in the world. And, I certainly don't want to get government more involved.. they always screw it up. I don't want our country to be France where I am entitled to 5 weeks vacation.. but am so poor because the government taxes away all I make so that I can only stay home. :)

    I see really only 2 solutions to poverty (I'm not an expert). But, I think greater honesty and integrity (this whole sub-prime mess being an example of the 10,000 small dishonesties that can impoverish a nation) and then education.

    I just don't think the temptation to have government become the great equalizer works... not that you are saying that Allysha, but the ideas are certainly in the public forum at the moment. Like you say.. it's a matter of the heart.

    Great post by the way. It prompted about an hours worth of good dinner table discussion. You are a popular writer around here. :)

  7. I'm glad this is good conversation fodder!

    I agree that the government isn't the answer. I think it can do some things(workplace standards, etc.) And inflation is an issue with raising the minimum wage. Although I do think the wage is still a little low.

    I just finished Alan Greenspan's book so I have been thinking about the pressures on a free market economy and what allows growth vs what is morally right.

    When I said it comes down to the heart I really believe that. If everyone were able to balance profit for themselves and their company along with wages for the workers, or at least had to desire to do so since nothing in this world works perfectly, things would be a lot better. "Do unto others..."

    And education is a huge key. In fact that's something AG pointed out in his book. The wage disparity between upper and lower classes is in part because there are so many unskilled laborers flooding the lower skilled positions of the market place and not enough to take the higher skilled jobs.

    But getting people a good education is another entire post/rant unto itself. I wish we paid teachers more, that's for sure!

    (p.s) Also, I will proudly say that Sally is my mom. She's very astute, and I always like to hear/read what she has to say!

  8. I've been wondering about that Greenspan book. Did you like it? Sally is very smart! I like your mom. I would love to hear her take on her own question and your take on it as well. That subject comes up around here because of the kind of neighborhood we live in we have friends of every economic class (just getting by a few steets on one side and super wealthy a few streets on the other side) and they have a lot of different views on that subject (moral shopping you could call it :) and express them often.

    You made a lot of great points.. I agree with them all.. especially.. "Do unto others.."

  9. I enjoyed Alan Greenspan's book. Especially the biographical parts. It does get a little intense with the Fedspeak at the end. I plan on blogging about it more on Just an Orange in a little while, maybe on Friday of this week.
    It's fascinating, though. He's a smart man.

    I've found that people usually find a "moral" argument to support their own position, whether rich or poor.
    And the other side is usually misrepresented to a certain extent. I think there are things each side can do.

    Oh dear, I could go on and on. But I won't. I have to clean a house!

  10. I'll look for your post over there then. Fun discussion. :)