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Author Topic: Some Polling I Found Intersting  (Read 2145 times)

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Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Some Polling I Found Intersting
« Reply #50 on: November 01, 2013, 03:25:07 PM »
Basically, I think it's just necessary to recognize that when you're talking to or about the working poor or the working class, in the current environment you are talking to a great many people who are making ends meet by working more jobs and engaging in more ingenious improvisation and deploying more willpower than is likely to be true for most of us who have the time and Internet access to post on a site like this. Or you are talking to people who served in the military and are surviving on veterans' benefits and possibly dealing with PTSD. Or you are talking to the elderly and retirees... some of whom are having to put off retirement to work two jobs or more.

You are basically talking either to or about a whole bunch of people who would feel absolutely rightly patronized and insulted that you think their economic problems would be easily solvable if it occurred to them to just have a more positive attitude. Life does not work that way, social and economic justice does not work that way, and the reason for my blast of sarcasm at Val there is that just at the level of absolutely basic respect -- before we even get to ideological disagreements -- it would be best if the self-help rhetoric was parked at the door.

(Not to be too harsh on the motivational rhetoric -- if it works for someone then good for them, and it surely does help explain the many successes achieved by, say, the Black community in the face of pervasive racial hostility, to the point of electing a Black President -- but nobody should be treating it as a lens through which we can directly analyze macro-economics or problems of income inequality. Those issues are way, way more complicated than just who has the right motivation or not.)
« Last Edit: November 01, 2013, 03:32:26 PM by Cyrano Johnson »

Offline Valthazar

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Re: Some Polling I Found Intersting
« Reply #51 on: November 01, 2013, 05:01:17 PM »
Cyrano, I think we are talking about two different but similar issues.  I agree with all the points you are making about discrimination and financial realities.

But if you asked Obama  or any other person who rose up out of their rough life situation what advice they would give to young people living in poverty and facing discrimination, he'd probably say something similar to what Imogen and I posted.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2013, 05:19:58 PM by ValthazarElite »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Some Polling I Found Intersting
« Reply #52 on: November 01, 2013, 05:56:45 PM »
But if you asked Obama  or any other person who rose up out of their rough life situation what advice they would give to young people living in poverty and facing discrimination, he'd probably say something similar to what Imogen and I posted.

Your problem there, al, is that you're ignoring most of the data.  Sure, maybe Obama would say that.  What you're ignoring is the many many others who worked hard, believed in themselves, followed their dreams, etc etc etc and failed.  By only pointing to the success stories you're implying a 100% success rate for motivational thinking.

Offline Valthazar

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Re: Some Polling I Found Intersting
« Reply #53 on: November 01, 2013, 06:04:15 PM »
Again, this isn't about the data, I 100% agree with everything you guys are saying.

But what productive good does it do for the individual to believe that they will not achieve their goals, even if the statistics and realities are all bleak?

Offline Oniya

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Re: Some Polling I Found Intersting
« Reply #54 on: November 01, 2013, 06:09:03 PM »
It might be more productive if people were honest about the fact that while possible, success will not be easy.  Handing someone who is having to skip the heating bill to pay the electric a Horatio Alger story is like telling someone suffering from major depression that all they have to do is 'think positive' and 'look on the bright side'.

Offline Valthazar

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Re: Some Polling I Found Intersting
« Reply #55 on: November 01, 2013, 06:36:03 PM »
It's probably just a difference of opinion.  I was always taught to accept what I can't change and let my work ethic give me inner satisfaction.  It isn't about compensation, or status, but just in creating a life that one is proud of within themselves.  We really can't debate opinions, and I acknowledge everyone else's views on this.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Some Polling I Found Intersting
« Reply #56 on: November 01, 2013, 09:35:13 PM »
if you asked Obama  or any other person who rose up out of their rough life situation what advice they would give to young people living in poverty and facing discrimination, he'd probably say something similar to what Imogen and I posted.

Actually, I would say Obama's genius as an orator and pragmatism as a thinker is precisely that he doesn't fall into traps like that. Obama has a habit of acknowledging both his hardships and his privilege, both of them in forthright terms, and factoring them both into what he says about his personal story, and not pretending everyone has the same privileges he did. He also has a habit of strongly backing personal initiative, but not pretending it is a magickal solution to injustice and not pretending it is the solution to every possible socio-economic problem. Hence, among many other things, the ACA (which I do hope retains the name "Obamacare" :)).

I'm a big Obama fan on his strengths as someone who does not recycle those kinds of obnoxious cliches. I like you well enough, but I don't think you can yet count yourself in his company. Not yet.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2013, 09:41:09 PM by Cyrano Johnson »

Offline kylie

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Re: Some Polling I Found Intersting
« Reply #57 on: November 01, 2013, 11:31:01 PM »
        I dunno, Imogen, if it's 'not useful' to blame the people holding most of the wealth when those same resources could have rather easily made life at least comfortable for a very large number of people who are left to struggle from day to day and month to month, often on multiple part-time, non-benefit jobs in an economy busy dumping most of the familiar sources of security (the very things their parents tended to assume were there to be positive about in the first place)...

         It sounds to me, like a moral excuse or perhaps, even a policy formula for excusing extreme inequality and forcing everyone else to simply get on with what little tiny, insufficient slice of the pie they have to fight over.  Now granted, if you really believe that is simply the way the world will always be, maybe it's just happier to whistle la-la, see what a good trooper I am and try to feel good anyway.  Or for that matter, one could equally well commit suicide or go blow up a federal building while they're at it.  It doesn't really matter, because nothing we say changes anything and we might as well try to be happy -- or why not, try to make some sense and meaning, or put some conclusion to it all and get it over with (maybe that makes some underprivileged people happy for a short time, too, however hard life might be). 

        And really?  It's not for me so much to say this way is the right response for individuals, or not.  It's your life and your body, your heart to take care of.  But saying that describing what it is, or that protesting or campaigning for something different, is poisoning oneself, now you're telling me what to do with both my own life and what I should believe (or even, couses of events I should help to contribute to) about the fate of everyone's, all at once.  You think you're trying to help, and I think you're trying to drag the whole world down with your own fluffy clouds of virtue in a place that hardly rewards it.

          Saying "whodunit" doesn't necessarily mean one spends their life doing nothing but that.  But saying "blame" itself is too much part of the problem, doesn't make much sense to me -- unless you want things to stay just the way they are.  The corporations and billionaires, with few exceptions, aren't exactly offering a reconciliation package for people who want to negotiate new terms.  Rather, they're opposiing them directly.  And they do that in large part, by saying, "Got a problem?  Ssssh.  Relax.  Just have faith.  You don't want to be singled out as one of those impolite, angry people; why they get monitored, locked out of jobs, and eventually called terrorist sympathizers.  So no, of course you can't do that.  So isn't it sooo much nicer and easier to just shut up, go back to work and remember: keep smiling and telling everyone else life is lovely and our way is the only, best way! while we blatantly rob you.

« Last Edit: November 01, 2013, 11:48:41 PM by kylie »

Offline kylie

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Re: Some Polling I Found Intersting
« Reply #58 on: November 01, 2013, 11:32:29 PM »
It's probably just a difference of opinion.  I was always taught to accept what I can't change and let my work ethic give me inner satisfaction.  It isn't about compensation, or status, but just in creating a life that one is proud of within themselves.  We really can't debate opinions, and I acknowledge everyone else's views on this.
         I think it's also a difference of background.  Some people have been taught to find satisfaction in having next to nothing, never mind getting on the internet here talking about how their family made it against the odds.  And they may be quite happy living in cities with cholera in the water and a low  life expectancy [strips superfluous exaggeration there], wearing the same filthy clothes all week.  Fine.  Maybe some people, more generally (including in developed countries like the US) just want to have unadulterated pride in doing a lot of work, any work, whatever work (we're still giving you the benefit of assuming they can actually get some!) to lean on, much as some just want to focus on religion.  At that level, sure it's an opinion. 

          But as I think Cyrano is hinting, it's also a big business (selling self-help), a political movement (a favorite line of the Christian right which has become hugely political), and a line that rather wealthy businesspeople are fond of professing as "something you must keep selling to everyone else or you don't even belong in many jobs, much less in the middle class or management."  At that point, it's no longer a choice of opinion, it's a philosophy and politics being forced down people's throats.  We don't say "grin and bear it" because it's just naturally obvious that people were born to do it, and if they knew how to take care of themselves they just would.  We say grin and bear it, because the burdens are unreasonable and in ways that matter to us, injust.  I don't say no one should enjoy working through that simply by working, but I don't see that mainly doing just that is something that suits my conscience either.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2013, 12:40:46 AM by kylie »

Offline vivaciousvixen

Re: Some Polling I Found Intersting
« Reply #59 on: November 11, 2013, 11:49:13 AM »
Well said Imogen. I am a firm believer that life is what you make it. Events may happen outside of your control, but a lot also happens within your control. Use it to your advantage.

But to get back to the first topic of this thread, and the OP, I was also surprised when taking my first politics class, to find that so many were in the middle, when it had always seemed like a black and white issue in my formative years. But when you really ponder it, most people are not very extreme in their thoughts. The term extreme defines them as outside of the norm.

For funsies, if you had to pick an American political party, which would it be, D or R? Give no explanation, or we will be here all day defining what we do and do not support. As has already been established, there is a large gray area. I myself would be on the side of republican.

Offline HannibalBarca

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Re: Some Polling I Found Intersting
« Reply #60 on: December 14, 2013, 03:32:31 AM »
I'd like to interject my (suitably nigh-worthless) two cents into this topic, as someone who has a possibly unique perspective into the trials and tribulations of the poor, regardless of other variables.

I grew up in a community that was 90% poor, or around it.  At least, upwards of 90% of us received free or reduced-price lunches, which is a fair barometer for the poverty of a community in this day and age.  However, every single family had at least one adult employed.  We all had homes that were kept up, and there was community pride, as well as significant motivation to succeed.

I grew up in the U.S. Air Force.

Now, I'm already feeling the thought waves of some small percentage: 'An Air Force Brat!  Privilege!  Insulated community!  Safe from crime and similar depredations!'  Insulated, yes, from other communities, not so different from how poor, middle-class, and rich communities are insulated from one another, though.  Safe from some crimes, yes.  Not increased rates of alcoholism, abuse, and suicide, though.  Every community has their pros and cons.  My point is that just because people are poor may have no bearing whatsoever on their motivation to succeed.  Poverty may be built-in to the culture.

Note that I said culture.  So often I hear people wax on about this race or that ethnicity, when the focus should be on the economic structure of said group.  When discussing the amount of welfare recipients among African-Americans, it does well to remember that there are far more white Americans on welfare.  Or that the majority of African-Americans are middle-class.  Please bear witness to modern Atlanta, Georgia, and believe.

But I have had the opportunity, yes, opportunity, to live in four poor communities: a white one, an hispanic one, a black one, and one where the three ethnic groups each made up one-third of the population.

You'd be surprised how many similarities there between the three made up of one predominant ethnic group.  For all intents and purposes, the three of them shared 75% of the same difficulties.  The devil, to paraphrase, however, is in the differences.  And all three, to me, are not based on racial, but cultural differences.

Of the three, the hispanic community was the most vibrant.  I ascribe that to them having a large immigrant segment.  After all, attempting to journey to a new nation in search of improved economic conditions requires motivation, and a desire to improve one's lot.  But, for the hispanics who'd been citizens for generations, there was much less motivation to succeed.  Families tended to stay together instead of divorce.  Religion was important.  Drug use was less, but drug-selling was not.  Gang violence was a problem in some sections--drug-selling Mexican gangs.  Mistrust of the authorities was widespread--for reasons of immigration.

The white community was rural and close-knit.  They had a large percentage of single-parent mothers.  Religion was important.  There was rampant drug-use--methamphetamines.  Gang violence was a problem in some sections--drug-selling bike gangs.  Mistrust of the authorities was widespread--for reasons of all manners of conspiracy theories against the government.

The black community was inner-city and insular.  They had a large percentage of single-parent mothers.  Religion was important.  Gang violence was a problem in some sections--drug-selling gangs.  Mistrust of the authorities was widespread--for reasons of suspected institutionalized racism.

There was a cultural belief among them that I found ran through all three communities:  despair.  Only in the hispanic community was education respected as a way out of poverty--mostly due to the respect afforded education in the old country by immigrants.  The longer generations had been in the country, the less education was looked at favorably.  In the white and black communities, education was a laughingstock, even if teachers were still respected to a point by both--if the teachers could identify with the community.  Motivation was severely lacking, too in both the white and black communities, and both also had a definite culture of victimhood--'the liberal government' by the whites, and 'the racist white man' by the blacks.  Demonized enemies: check.  Both black and white communities had endemic levels of non-supportive fathers and adult males of able body on welfare.  Both had an emphasis on physical skills, rather than intellectual skills.  Both had a focus on survival skills, like being able to pick up and move from an apartment or house within a few hours, or where to find the most free food from food banks.  Both had a culture of victimhood....a lack of acceptance of personal responsibility, a resignation of the futility of trying to improve one's lot in life.

The closer-knit hispanic community had a vibrant community culture, and even though poor, the community looked healthier.  There was a sense of pride of community.  The despairs of generational poverty had not yet set in.

I saw in the black community, and--surprisingly to me at the time--the white community, the same unmotivated, helpless sensibilities as those found on Native American reservations.  Once welfare and/or other government support was the only way income came about, after a few generations, the desire to 'lift one's selves by the bootstraps' was nonexistent.  The whole concept of work ethic, which so many people raise, is absent from these communities.  It has literally been erased from their cultural memories.  It is as alien to them as snow in the Sahara.  Take away a people's reason to work, and you take away a chance for them to have dignity.  Of course, simply stripping away welfare immediately won't solve the problem, either--broad-brush tactics seldom do.  Education works, but education has to be accepted as a possibility for success...and in these two communities, the typical individual is so beaten down, even by the age of eight--eight!--that there is little or no incentive to improve one's lot in life.

Take a moment to soak that in.  Imagine that, by the age of eight, you believed yourself so worthless, that there was simply no power left in you to try to better yourself.  It had already been beaten out of you emotionally, spiritually, or physically.

I am someone who believes there is little difference between Middle Eastern terrorists and gangbangers of any color.  There is little difference between disenfranchised young men with no hope for improvement and low self-esteem and that carry AK-47s, regardless of them being white supremacist bikers, black gangbangers, or Afghani Taliban.  They are created by the same sick formula.  Despair, poverty, and lack of community.

I do have to add, however, that I saw a higher number of disadvantages for blacks than whites or hispanics.  The image of the angry young black gangbanger, the welfare queen, and the uneducated ebonics-speaker carries heavier weight as stereotypes among the majority white population, and the hispanic population, and, yes, the black middle-class, than the racist white redneck hick or the lazy siesta-taking Mexican stereotypes.  Gangster rap and its accompanying videos hasn't helped the stereotypes.

What is truly sad, however, is the mixed community.  I did see a lot of ethnic intermixing, multi-ethnic children, and a great reduction of racism.  Instead of rallying together to improve their common lot, however, I saw an even greater incidence of reinforcement of concepts of entitlement and 'deserving' welfare, regardless of ethnic group.  The ignorant didn't work together to help themselves...they merely increased their feelings of helplessness...'look, it doesn't matter what color you are--we're all always going to be poor and helpless.'

I'd also like to add, however, that when given the opportunity to actually work--really work to live, not at slave labor wages--that I saw people formerly reduced to despair work fiercely hard to keep themselves from falling back into the black hole of poverty and blame.  All ethnic groups.  It seems that dignity has no color barrier, does it?

Take it for what it is.  I'm a teacher, and for someone who is borderline Asperger's, I've learned damn well and good what empathy is, and how to empathize.  The most fearful thing I see, however, isn't welfare, or racism...but lack of empathy for others.  I see the next generation of poor children becoming sociopaths without care for their fellow humans due to lack of parenting by severely-emotionally handicapped parents. 

I've also seen, unfortunately, the same sociopathic tendencies in middle-class children given too much ADHD medication by parents just wanting to shut down normal childhood behavior, too much time in front of TVs and videogames by parents too interested in being on Facebook or MMORPGS for hours at a time, or chatting on iPhones nonstop while their toddlers scream and reach out for a simple hug at the supermarket, needy for emotional contact and support.  This might not have anything to do with the initial discussion, but it segues into it--there are threats to children at all economic levels.  And they become the adults of the future.  Future problems are being created now.

Offline RetributionTopic starter

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Re: Some Polling I Found Intersting
« Reply #61 on: December 14, 2013, 08:08:55 AM »
Nice post Hannibal and you captured a lot of my take on the state of things much better than I ever could.

Offline HannibalBarca

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Re: Some Polling I Found Intersting
« Reply #62 on: December 14, 2013, 11:00:02 AM »
Thanks for the compliment, Retribution.  I'm not shy to admit I'm an atheist with mostly liberal beliefs...but I was raised a Catholic by Staunchly Republican parents.  I, like everyone, have many, many beliefs, and not all of them are liberal...many are moderate, and a handful are quite conservative as well.  We are the sum of our beliefs and actions, not a simple cypher, easily digested into left or right, black or white.  While most people would see me and categorize me as white, I'm 1/4 Blackfoot, with some Gypsy thrown in...along with my German, Albanian, Greek, Sicilian, Welsh, Irish, Scottish, English, French Canadian, Lakota, and god knows what else my uncle who keeps track of genealogy has missed.  I went to a bilingual preschool, then elementary school, where 98% of the population was hispanic, so I have a taste, even if miniscule, of what it is like to be on the other side of majority...something I wish everyone who is in a majority could experience.  Walk a mile in another man's moccasins (original saying Native American), indeed.

And I know not all rural white communities are full of meth-heads and ignorant rednecks, too.  Not all inner-city black communities are plagued with low education levels and gang violence.  Not all hispanic communities are close-knit or highly religious.  There are always exceptions.

I read once somewhere that every man or woman is a nation unto themselves...I wish I knew who first said it, because I've taken up that concept wholeheartedly.  Once we look at each human we meet as a rich new tapestry made up of a weave of countless colorful threads, and discard all stereotyping labels before we truly know them, then we as a society are on the right path.

But...I know from experience why people thrust their identity in others' faces.  I know why some African-Americans demand reparations, why some gays and lesbians flaunt their sexuality openly, why some feminists demand the ERA.  It is a demand to be noticed, to be counted, to be verified as existing, to refuse to be swept aside as the Other and counted as wanting, as something less than other humans. 

Once the majority accepts a minority as equal, truly equal, such behavior tends to shrink to a minimum.  Those of other formerly oppressed minorities like Irish and Chinese immigrants are examples of this.  Acceptance into the mainstream does not require the minority to give up all of their ancestral traditions and embrace the overarching culture of the majority, either.  Trust me, as a teacher to the several communities I've worked in, I've seen my cohorts--white and black and hispanic--reveal ugly facets of themselves about 'those kids' who were in the minority in the student population--whether 'those' kids were white, black, hispanic, Muslim, Native American, homosexual, Filipino, or otherwise.  Doesn't sound indicative of the stereotypical liberal educator, does it?

God, I've threadjacked us far off the topic.  To wit, though--I just am trying to make the overall point that humans are humans--no conspiracy theories necessary when Occam's Razor will suffice.  African-Americans really do struggle under additional difficulty multipliers due to historical cultural burdens, no different than Native Americans and the horrible institutionalized despair machine that is the reservation system.  If Reconstruction hadn't been ground to a halt by Hayes' Republicans and their Democrat partners in shame, perhaps the current problems would be much reduced or even nonexistent.  As a historian, I can see the opportunities lost for creating equality early on.  Our nation had to go to bed with the devil of slavery just to get the Constitution created in the first place.

But it is sadly humorous to watch one side of the pushing war fall on their face when the other side suddenly ceases their pushing back.  By the way, VivaiousVixen, I don't identify with either political party.  George Washington knew from the experience of British politics when he said in his farewell address as President not to trust the passions of political parties--they demand your loyalty to them and their constituency, not their nation.  While the Republican Party in general has apparently handed the steering wheel over to their lunatic fringe, that doesn't mean I wholeheartedly approve of the dishwater-weak top brass of the Democratic Party, either. 

Once upon a time, there were liberal, moderate, and conservative segments of both parties, far back into the past of our nation.  Now, much like what I see of so many Islamic nations, with Republicans I see the true silent majority content to allow their most extreme, most vocal, most venomous, most in-the-pocket-of-the-elite members push out any dissident, alternate voices.  God, I mean, when John McCain is called a RINO, Sarah Palin is held up as a viable replacement for him as President, and staunch Republican primary voters choose and expect Tea Party candidates to win acceptance in a general election by the rest of the non-Republican population of voters, what insanity is next?  We need two viable alternatives at least to have a functioning democracy.

Okay, now I'm really through.  Pardon.  Perhaps I'll start my own thread.  Better yet, write a book on my outlook...