Monday, November 28, 2011

Things aren't working. . .

Did you see the 60 Minutes program last night regarding the growth in the numbers of homeless families and children?  Families living in their cars.  Children "learning how to be homeless."  Check it out here.

Somehow current lectures about freedom, rugged individualism, tax cuts for the wealthiest, no matter what the human cost; and shrinking government ring right hollow when you have to face the stories of these families fallen on very hard times. 

One out of 4 children in America is classified as living at or below the poverty line. 

Almost 50 million Americans find themselves scratching out a living at or below the poverty line.

People want to work, but our economy is not working for growing numbers of us. 

If we don't begin to do better, I say. . .

Shame on us!


Lorlee said...

I am reading "Deer Hunting with Jesus" which details the growth of the underclass in America. I recommend it.

Anonymous said...

Half-truths, innuendo, class-baiting, and self-serving.

"Something" must change. Unlike the social-democratic countries of Europe, one can move from bottom to top and top to bottom of social "classes" in the USA. So, indeed, something can change. And it happens all the time. Those in the bottom 10% are rarely in that position in five years. They move up. Yet there is still a bottom 10%. Where did they come from? The young enter the bottom right away and most move quickly out of it. The lower and middle classes sometime drop down into it - only to move out of it again in a usually short period of time.

You are attempting to use a static analysis to evaluate a moving target. The real category to focus on is the chronically poor - those that get in and remain in the bottom 10%. Once you observe their characteristics and behaviors you'll find that health, education, and inability to make decisions are driving factors. I support helping these people, but do not support creating additional dependency systems that illegitimately define more and more people as poor and also create incentives to remain poor through social service programs (why work when you get paid to stay home?).

You describe a few examples of poor people in desperate situations - which unfortunately are situations that have existed throughout history - and assert these examples as far more normative than is true in reality.

Perhaps you benefit from the poverty (envy) of others. You, sir, are a Sophist!

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:57:

Like your mentors Rush and Glenn, you make up facts that fit your ideology - exactly you accuse Larry of doing.

Entrenched poverty is a fact of life in the US. Take a look at the Appalachians, the Mississippi Delta, the Bronx (NYC), Watts (LA), and the Texas border with Mexico, to name just a few 'hot spots' with millions desperately in need of help. These people are not upwardly mobile, and their numbers are not small.

I am not dismissing indiviual intiative, but family of origin and consequent opportunities make all the difference. It is not either/or, but both/and. Dismissing a serious amount of 'inelasticity' in our social classes, and talking as if anyone motivated enough can 'make it,' is naive at best, but even worse leads to seriously bad policy making things even worse.

Try to mold your ideology to fit the facts, not vice-versa.


rcorum said...

Ken, I think it is beneath you to use the "Rush, Beck" attack. Whoever this person is they seem to me to articulate their own beliefs quiet well. I watched the program and was moved most of all by the spirit of these poor people and the fact that they were intact families who worked together as a family. They seemed down but not defeated.

Larry James said...

Anon 1:57, you are extremely articulate and dead wrong about the data, but I realize you simply dismiss facts with your verbal slight of hand. That said, the numbers of Americans dropping off into the underclass, that is a legitimate term/classificaiton--those living at or below the poverty line have been growing dramatically over the past 3 years. In addition, income in the middle class has remained flat while income for those at the top has grown dramatically. These are simply the facts. And, we see the impact daily in our work.

I have no idea where you are theologically, but if you are a person of faith, I'd challenge you to dig a bit deeper. A great place to begin would be the little book of Amos in the Hebrew Bible and James in the Christian scriptures.

We'll likely never agree. And, I expect you will continue to sit in judgment of me, calling me names, etc. And, I'm really ok with that, but the thing that bothers me is the impression you may leave that you acutally understand the poor and the lives that they live. Sorry, but you don't.

Anonymous said...

Ken, can you read?

Larry James said...

Nice one, Anon! Insults substitute nicely for an really serious answer to the objections of someone who doesn't see the world in such a self-assured way, as do you.

RC, I respect you, but it really doesn't matter how articulate a person seems if what they say is both wrong and poisonous. Sorry.

As to the poor being "down but not defeated," you are exactly correct! I see that daily--wonderful spirit just wanting a shot at life. We need to turn admiration into action as a people.

Anonymous said...

Ken is arguing with a figment of his imagination. He did not read my post thoroughly enough to make a credible argument.

First, I acknowledged there are poor people who need our help.

Second, I explained in lay terms the meaning of relative social mobility - a term commonly used to describe a socio-economic feature of the USA and often used to contrast our society with nearly all other societies. You can move up.

Third, Ken is overstating the number of people in entrenched poverty. It has been Larry's intent to try to persuade readers of this blog that 50% of the people in the USA are on the precipice of poverty. Not true as there is a wide distribution of people in a range of income levels ( - see this (if you can read).

Third, you are using the Bible as a political document, a guide to government, which it was never intended to be. Marxists and socialists use the Bible this way to persuade naive Christian people to support nondemocratic purposes. The Bible is a personal document intended to form human character. This can and often does have a political impact on a personal rather than governmental level. For example, I take my values and beliefs with me into the voting booth.

Fifth, I personally have walked the gauntlet from poor to upper middle class and it was a wonderful trip that I would not exchange for any other lifestyle. My family is from the Appalachians and many still live there. Ken has no idea how ridiculous his claims are.

Sixth, the poverty line is a sociological construct.

Seventh, you and your pets use emotional terms to describe your personal experiences with a few people and avoid using hard numbers in context when you make an argument.

Eighth, 1 + 1 never = 3. But you seem to think that taxing the rich will make all things right in the universe. There aren't enough rich people to pay for everything you want. But there are enough non rich people to go to work every day and take care of themselves. Then there will be enough resources to take care of those who truly can not work.

Ninth, you claim there are not enough jobs. But in reality there are enough jobs if people are educated enough to qualify. We invite guest workers to this country to compute our math problems for us b/c our education system is operated by women who constantly max out their credit cards and can't figure out why (see Yvonne Gonzalez).

Tenth, you never, EVER get upset by government overspending, or corruption, or weird liberal social behavior. This makes me think you have a few skeletons (or a blow-up doll) in your closet.

There is an eleventh but Ken has run out of fingers and thumbs by now and I don't want to confuse him.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I had two thirds but not one fourth. Ken, you can't get a whole by adding those together, so don't try.

Anonymous said...


Larry James said...

Long-winded Anon, just for the record, I do get upset with government overspending and corruption--and there is plenty of both. I could list a number of familiar items/issues, but you'd not like much of my list. As to "weird liberal social behavior," I'd need a bit more definition. A rule of thumb for my page is that most of what I comment on has to do with very poor people and their environments like those here in Dallas where we are working. As for "skeletons. . .in your closet," your comment appears to be an example of psychic projection defined by a few of your own. Just a hunch given what I've noted over the years.

rcorum said...

Larry, the respect is mutual, but I felt that your comment directed toward me was a bit dismissive. For a long time we had a woman who posted several times a week and it appeared to me that all she was doing was writing down talking points from conservative talk shows. This guy is more than articulate. He has presented several challenges to you that I feel that you have failed to answer. You simply called him long winded. To me it is pretty simply. We are spending money we don't have on programs that are often sorely mismanaged and there will be a day of reckoning. I just read today Cornell West predicting that the next war on poverty will be a take it to the streets kind of war.

Anonymous said...

Larry can not address individual charges that build the case he is a socialist. The pattern emerging from his blog posts clearly demonstrates a desire to make postal workers of everyone.

How many people will your plan cover Larry? How many people need housing? Insurance? Medical care? A retirement check? Long holidays to refresh the soul? Free education (with no bother of defining effective learning)?

Do you know what you get when you add up all the things Larry wants? The European Union. That game is playing itself out, even as I type. The next step is a stronger central govt. in Europe to control the budgets of the most elicit spenders: Greece, Italy, & Portugal. Translation - loss of sovereignty. Now I really don't care whether the Greeks are citizens of a country called Greece or a a country called Germany.

As far as I am concerned Greece is reaping what it has sewn. Rampant socialism has a price. Unfortunately, the price will be paid by every citizen living in the EU in the form of inflation and loss of property value. And, of course, in the form of even higher unemployment rates that persist in depressed economic conditions. (Ring a bell?) But those of us in the USA will pay, too. All because European social engineers think they can regulate the economy through restricted work weeks, excessive benefits packages, universal healthcare, and housing programs.

We have found the enemy and it is ... Larry.

Or anyone who votes like him.

Defend yourself, Larry.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Rush to me. And, for the record, I can neither read nor write. My pet monkey responded to you on my behalf. I thought he did well.

RC: as far as polite discourse, ending with "You, sir, are a Sophist!" is basically a full-of-yourself way of saying "you're full of s*#t." Not a great start to the conversation. Not likely to elicit meaningful conversation. Not really meant to do so.


Anonymous said...

The good news about Ken's post is that he has opened the door for intelligent discourse. Ignorance, being forgivable, should be welcomed rather than shunned.

In ancient Greece, the free citizen had the right to file suit against other citizens and to defend himself (not herself) against charges of others and the govt. in the public assembly. Cases were presented orally; deliberations over the arguments resulted in a decision favoring one side over the other.

Public speaking skill was important. Thus, many well-to-do citizens took speech lessons from well-know orators. And to educate their children they paid "tuition" to these orators, or to disciples of these orators. The field of rhetoric was born.

Now, Ken, your monkey needs to learn a few things about rhetoric. First, two schools developed around the concept of rhetoric. The Platonists were idealists - this gets kind of complicated for monkeys - which means they believed in objective truth. This foundation had all sorts of implications for philosophy, which I won't go into. Monkeys tend to get "lost in the cave," if you know what I mean. The Sophists believed no such thing. Instead of believing in objective truth, they felt that a good argument could beat truth in many cases. Thus, style was emphasized over substance.

Now, Ken, we all know that style is important. But it's no substitute for a good fact. Gravity is real. It's not a theory to be tested by the human body. You're monkey knows this instinctively. Follow your monkey's example in this area. No argument against the principle of gravity can counteract the fact that there is a consistent and measurable downward pull on objects and bodies. It's a principle we can work with, but not against.

Facts are stubborn things. When I called Larry a Sophist I was accusing him of relying upon arguments of style over substance. In fact, see his most recent post, where he used the misfortune of a veteran to argue that 100 million people should pay more in taxes. An educated person would know this reference very well. And now you know, too.

I did not inform Larry that his is full of any substance even remotely similar to what you described. I have standards - for one thing I am more of a Platonist than a Sophist.

Larry has revealed some things about his education and I believe he knew full well what I meant when I made the claim. He can attempt a rebuttal, if he desires. (I don't think he wants to go there.)

Ken, this has been a good experience for me and I hope it has been good for you, too. You may need a review session with the monkey, but I think we've made some progress. Now, let's see if Larry can defend himself against charges that he is a socialist.

Larry James said...

I feel no need to defend myself, especially here other than to simply state that the real "gravity" about which I am concerned is the force pulling people down and pushing them to the side--a force I see at work daily. Anon argues while people suffer, die and fall into deep holes created by an unjust, unchecked capitalism that's been rolled out over the past 3 decades. I'm looking for leaders like Mark Hatfield, E.Dirkson, and, yes, Richard Nixon. Socialists? Hardly. Reasonable, usually compassionate, and just compared to current standards? Yes. Call me what you will. It doesn't matter. Now, let me get back to my job.

Anonymous said...

But I thought BO was going to make things work. I heard this morning that his approval rate was lower than Jimmy Carter.

Anonymous said...

If you were serious about turning the country around you would not vote for Obama in 2012., but you and I both know you will. I think if Obama gets 4 more years it will be over for this country.

Anonymous said...

"I think if Obama gets 4 more years it will be over for this country."

You don't really think much of this country, do you.

Assuming, arguendo, he was a bad president, I think we'll survive.

We survived 8 years of Bush!

Anonymous said...

Too smart to work? Or watch TV about work?

Republicans don’t watch MTV’s Jersey Shore. But they dig ABC’s Castle.

Democrats don’t like Discovery’s Deadliest Catch. But they swoon for NBC’s Parks and Recreation.

Those are a few of the findings from an annual research survey by Experian-Simmons that measures the consumer preferences of various political ideologies. In a report prepared exclusively for EW, the company calculated some of the favorite — and least favorite — TV shows of political partisans. (Specifically: the report measures which shows among the survey group were watched by the highest concentration of self-identified “Liberal Democrats” and “Conservative Republicans.”)

In the findings, “sarcastic” media-savvy comedies and morally murky antiheroes tend to draw Dems. While serious work-centered shows (both reality shows and stylized scripted procedurals), along with reality competitions, tend to draw conservatives.