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875 Posts

Posted - 01/29/2004 :  18:37:01  Show Profile
Since Jennifer and I caused a stink in the lottery thead, I have decided to, at Jim's urging, start a new thread along the same tangent as my previous off topic post. The weather is horrible here and I can't get on a roof for a while and it is an election year so lets have a debate. You can see the topic from the title of the thread. Let's try to keep it cordial and remember that we are all ladies and gentlemen. We will disagree but we are all still friends. Below is the off topic post I made on the previous thread, I believe it will be a good starting point.

Now as far as poverty American style. Compared to poverty around the world and throughout history, poverty simply doesn't exist in America. Most people that we call poor today would be considered rich by all objective standards in most other areas of the world. Most poor people in the US have cars, color TV's, vcrs or dvd players, air conditioning, own their own houses and are considered overweight by medical standards and have access to some of the best medical care the world has ever known and everyone is entitled to 12 years of free education. While these people would be considered poor by the living standard of the average American, they are by no means poor when compared to the rest of the world. Many middle class Europeans don't have the material possesions that many poor people in the US enjoy.

Let's just keep in mind that most poor in this country are that way because of their own life choices and inabillity to effectively manage money or they simply have no real desire to EARN money. Quite simply, poverty as it is historically known does not exist in America.

Now, all you lefties, fire away.


370 Posts

Posted - 01/29/2004 :  21:01:30  Show Profile
Rush had the cure for medicare, reduce the number of treatments covered. Yes a kinder and gently America for all. I listen to rush to find out who scares him, it is always the one he rants about and calls names that is the threat to the President that walks on water. "You can fool all the people etc."
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875 Posts

Posted - 01/29/2004 :  21:35:39  Show Profile
He had a great idea. When the government quits paying for things the price of those things goes down. When the government pays for things, the price goes up.

According to The National Review, December 31st issue, page 13, in 1960 2/3 of all medical expenses were paid out of pocket by the individual receiving the care, today the average patient only pays 16% of his own medical expenses. "A CATO institute study shows that services covered by medicare and private insurance (like hospital stays and basic physician services) have much higher rates of infation than medical services not generally covered (such as dental care and cosmetic surgery)."

The same theory holds true for education. When you get the government involved the price sky rockets.
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26 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2004 :  08:46:45  Show Profile
Rush must be sending drugs to his listeners.

Dan Guyer
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Janice Toll

40 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2004 :  09:24:18  Show Profile
Kile, if you honestly believe there is no poverty in America, then I suggest you open your eyes and get out in America. I agree that some are “poor” for the reasons you suggest, consider these examples of those who are not:

1. A man and a woman, both in their late eighties were reared in a time and place when education was not quite what it is today. The school bus did not stop at their door, schoolbooks were not free, and in order to help their parents (who had never been to school) had to drop out and work. The couple marries, and has children. The wife stays home to care for the children, and later does domestic work, and the employer pays no Social Security. The husband works at the only job he can get, farm laborer, and no Social Security was being paid. The husband eventually gets another job, pays minimal Social Security, and at age 65 retires with a minimum Social Security Benefit.

This is not a made-up couple. This is a couple in Memphis. They live in a house they built. The rear slopes were covered with a tarp when I arrived. They quickly told me that was not due to the windstorm but was worn out. They couldn’t afford to replace the shingles, so the gentleman, age 87, had gotten on the roof and put the tarp on to prevent leaks, until they could save and replace the shingles. There was tree damage to the front slopes and the front porch had been knocked down.

2. A single mother has worked at the local pillow manufacturing plant for 16 years. One day she is told that they are closing the plant and sending the work to Mexico, to save on labor costs. This is a rural area and the only industry was this plant. She had worked all her adult life there, has no advanced training or education and has taken the only work she can get, part-time waitress in the local café, and is paid $2.20 per hour and tips. Problem is, no one can afford to eat out and tip because they are all out of work due to the plant moving to Mexico. I have not seen a decrease in the cost of pillows since that work was moved to Mexico, has anyone else?

3. A young man, 38 years of age was born with a disability, and is not capable of working. He receives Social Security disability benefits, on his parent’s account, in the amount of $787.00 per month. In today’s economy, this amount cannot even adequately provide modest living quarters, utilities, and food. Then, throw in the fact that his medication averages around $28,000.00 per month. (This is not a typographical error it really is twenty-eight thousand dollars per month.) This young man is not eligible for Medicaid because he makes too much money – the cut-off is $750.00 per month.

Now, in agreement with you, I had a mother tell me that she was going to keep her daughter home from school on Monday because she could not afford to buy school supplies. (Free education still isn’t completely free, Kile. I guess you don’t have school age children, or you would already know that.) But, back to the mother, she was relating this tale of woe, while sitting in the bar at the country club drinking a beer, I believe her third one, but I really wasn’t counting.

As for color televisions, I wish that every poor child in America had one. I can think of no better way for them to find out there is a different way of life and escape poverty?

Kile, can you paint all poverty-stricken individuals with the same brush? Isn’t that like Attorney ads on TV saying all insurance adjusters are trained to cheat the insured?

My Point - there is poverty in America, poverty is going to increase as more jobs are being sent to foreign countries, and our cost of living is not going to decrease.

Janice R. Martin-Toll
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258 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2004 :  10:11:27  Show Profile
Janice you make a good point. There is poverty in America. However, I agree with Kile that it is relative poverty.

Relative to the money we make, these people you mentioned are poor. However, they are still richer than many people in the rest of the world. Maybe you saw Oprah's visit to Africa? That is poverty like no one living on American soil is ever likely to experience.

There is also the idea of poverty of opportunity. The opportunity for the 'poor child' in America far surpasses the opportunity for the African child with no family. Americans have no poverty of opportunity.

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Janice Toll

40 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2004 :  10:54:20  Show Profile
Jennifer, I agree with both you and Kile that the poverty in America is "relative poverty" compared to other countries. I, like you, have visited other countries and seen the depth of poverty in those countries. The people I mentioned, and millions more in the same situations, do not live in Africa or some other foreign country. They live in America, the Greatest Country on Earth. My point is, I would like to see all Americans, with the desire to do better, be able to do so.

As far as there being no "poverty of opportunity" in America, I agree to some degree, but that opportunity is also "relative. A child born to a mother addicted to crack cocaine is not going to have the same opportunity as a child born to the president of the United States or the CEO of some major corporation.

Janice R. Martin-Toll
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1200 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2004 :  11:07:06  Show Profile
Kile, I keep coming back to read and try to absorb your rather profound statement; ".... Let's just keep in mind that most poor in this country are that way because of their own life choices and inability to effectively manage money or simply have no real desire to earn money ....".

That is a sad condemnation of people who are less fortunate than you. As Janice pointed out, there are two sides to that tarnished coin.

The issue of what poverty is or isn't in America is a North American phenomenon. Compared to what we see on TV or read concerning the plight of many third world countries, we are very fortunate; and yes, arguably, our two countries are likely the best off in the world relative to "standard of living" and life expectations. But, within our continent poverty by any definition does exist; and will get worse.

"Poverty" goes beyond just meaning poor. Poverty also means to 'have a want of a means to have or do something', an inadequacy, or a want of copiousness, i.e. 'a drawing upon an abundance'.

Poverty, by any of these meanings, will afflict millions more in North America in the next five years.

One main reason for this is that the "working class" has disappeared. What we used to think of as the 'working class" - tradesmen, mechanics, factory workers - are a quickly diminishing component of the North American workforce.

Burger flippers, Starbucks servers and Home Depot clerks, all who collect minimum wage or a dollar or two above that; are not the working class, they are the "working poor".

What was touted in the mid 80's to be the saviour of the 90's, and was to create the new world order of this century - was the "knowledge industry". A "knowledge worker" could be loosely defined as anyone who spends the workday at a computer. The average salary of a knowledge worker placed them well in the "middle class".

But, the knowledge industry is about to vanish, and when it does, what happens to those former middle class people? When that happens, who is going to buy that specialty coffee, or walk the aisles at Home Depot filling their cart with goods, and buy burgers on the way home? What work will be left then for the "working poor", that the 'middle class' worker kept employed?

Do you remember the 60 Minutes piece about call centers moving to India? There is another industry that was the great hope of many municipalities throughout North America in the mid 90's. As you know, people will answer phones in New Delhi for a lot less money than people in any city on our continent. Call centers employ the lower middle class, if not the working poor; they are the McDonalds of the "knowledge industry".

Companies that have recently moved their call centers to India include, American Express, Sprint, Citibank, and Delta Airlines. Phone IBM, HP, or Dell for technical assistance and you are talking to India. It is also reported that Google is headed offshore to India. Two hundred thousand of your USA income tax forms will be prepared in India in 2004.

An estimated 400,000 American jobs in the above job classes have gone to India, China, and even a small portion of that to Russia; in the last three years.

Run up the information technology ladder 3 or 4 rungs, and the next large impact is set for implementation this year. The Wall Street Journal reported this month that IBM is moving 3,000 jobs offshore, and they are jobs that are not the menial pursuit of telling you your credit card will become unblocked as soon as a payment is received. IBM can hire a programmer in Beijing for (all USD) $12.50 per hour, compared to $56.00 in Poughkeepsie. That is a $116,000 a year job leaving the economy, times how many thousands? A senior analyst or applications development manager with 5 years experience, bills $18.00 USD per hour in China, or $66.00 per hour in the States. Americans in those jobs bring in $137,000 a year. That is all solid "middle class" income.

Every time we shop for clothing, how hard is it to find anything made in North America anymore?

So, think of how many things you do, that your family does, that your friends and neighbours do - that couldn't be done in Rio or Shanghai - for a third of what you need, by your measure of survival?

I have no idea what labels any of these thoughts have relative to politics. Is it politics that is allowing this to happen? Can or should politics drive the corporate world decisions? If politics has no control over these corporate decisions, what about the resultant poverty that will result?

This will be our poverty. Many people will no longer be able to draw upon an abundance they once had. Many people will suddenly be searching for a means to have what is no longer available. All these people will be the new poor. These people will be North America's newest entrants into poverty.
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103 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2004 :  11:45:34  Show Profile
Here in Houston it seems that you can't drive through an intersection without seeing someone panhandling on virtually all 4 corners. Mostly (but not all of them) men and usually with a bottle stuck in the pile of dirty clothes over on the curb. I can never drive by without being reminded of a passage in the book - "The Spellbinder's Gift" by Og Mandino where the main character explains why he always stops to speak softly with the panhandler and to give them some money. He talks about how you never hear a small child talk about how they want to grow up to beg on the corners, to push all their belongings around in basket taken from some market, to sleep on the streets.

Is it a matter of CHOICE on how they got there in the first place, or if they STAY there? Who really knows? As a Christian, I believe that the ability to make choices in our lives is what differientiates us from the angels. Sometimes we make good choices and sometimes we make bad ones. The fact remains that God will never take that freedom of choice from us, regardless of the circumstances. It took a hard lesson for me to learn, when, as a young boy of 13, I found my 18 year brother dead by suicide. His note he left us said that he felt like he had failed God and no longer deserved to live. For years I stayed mad at God, believing that He should have stopped Larry from his decision. Here was a young man who so desperately wanted to please God but allowed his own feelings of inadequacies to overwhelm him. It took me a long time to finally realize that it was God's love for us that forbid Him from taking Larry's choice away.

I apologize if it seems like I went off-topic, but what I hoped to stimulate and encourage is that we, as people, need to more often consider the consequences of our choices in life and the realization that those choices can affect many other people along the way.
(PS - I highly recommend "The Spellbinder's Gift", but only if you are ready to have to tough questions asked of your life.)

Kevin Hromas
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Reconstruction Man

124 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2004 :  12:44:28  Show Profile
"Is it politics that is allowing this to happen? Can or should politics drive the corporate world decisions?"

Arianna Huffington's project in this wonderfully scathing, wonderfully researched, wonderfully readable book is to rescue capitalism from the CEOs. Every player in the recent go-go market owes it to him (or her) self to read Pigs at the Trough and agitate for the reforms that might yet save the system.
— Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

With a passion for the truth and an eye for detail, Arianna Huffington reports on the hijacking of democracy. Read it and weep -- then head for the barricades. We have work to do.
— Bill Moyers

Arianna Huffington makes an appealing and compelling argument for the repeal of human nature -- that part of it that indulges savage, unconscionable and despicable greed. And she names the principal corporate offenders who, with their ill-gotten riches, purchase the political influence by which they mock and endanger our democracy.
— Walter Cronkite

A rousing call to action against special interests that have all too often triumphed over the national interest. As only she can, Arianna breathes energy and passion into the reform agenda. A withering, breathtaking, quintessentially controversial book that will inspire, inflame, and educate.
— Senator John McCain

Arianna Huffington has always been willing to speak from her heart, her gut, and her convictions about the world around her, and her sharp wit and thoughtful commentary help put issues on the agenda ignored by conventional thinkers. She isn't afraid to speak the truth about the power of big money in our political system that leaves unanswered enormous challenges in the environment, health care, and the globalized world, and I'm glad Arianna is going to be stirring the waters now and in the future.
— Senator John Kerry do your corporate sponsors rate...? Research that JimF...with some Dramamine and Phillips Milk of Magnesia in hand...ready to wash down with some Pinot Noir no less...

When ones find out what working and thinking folk know...then what? Let's see...ones could go to the political system to get justice...but, being supported by corrupt "free market / capitalistic / "democratic" minded individuals then the whole attempt would be rather pointless...although not necessarily hopeless...

And what kind of self-centered shortsighted insight feels poverty is one's own "fault"? Ignorance and bliss is certainly alive and well in the Land of Arrogance Aplenty...

The wheels of globalization are greased and turned by cooperative corporations / international banking entities / governments implementing NAFTA and other financial "equalization" schemes that are at the root of the "new poor" and "even poorer" populations in the US and other "cooperative" nations...

Viable research or empty rhetoric...Or the third option...keep thy head buried in the sand box...and voice muffled nonsense every once in a while to calm your fears...while soothing one's conscience between sips o' the vine...

Unpaid OP...added seed money for a healthy "new economy"...
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875 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2004 :  13:33:54  Show Profile
Well, Reconman, I wholeheartedly believe that poverty is ones own fault for this is a free country and no one forces you to be poor but yourself. If you get up off the couch and go out and work hard you will not be poor. That is why this country is so remarkable. When I was 10 years old I wanted more than the $5 a week allowance that my parents gave me, so I took that $5 and bought gas with it to put in my dads rickety old lawnmower and went door to door and by the end of the week I was mowing 3 lawns a day at $10 a pop. At the end of that month I had enough to buy a brand new lawnmower with a bagger attachment and was now able to offer my customers a better service by bagging up the grass clippings and putting them at the curb at no additional cost. At the end of another month I was able to purchase a weedeater and for an additional $5 I would edge the yard as well. I made money on that little business venture for 5 years until I was old enough to get a real job and I bought a car and played alot of space invaders and saw all kinds of movies. All of this started when I was 10.

That is how great this country is. If you can't find a job, make one. Most poor people in this country are poor because they do not take advantage of the opportunities available to them. I see it everyday and you will never in a million years convince me otherwise.

As to Janice's examples. Those are truly tragic stories, but do all of those people have food, clothing and shelter? If so, they are not poor by global and historic standards. Does the old couple own the house they live in?

You say the single mother lives in a rural area and there are no oppurtunities there for her other than waitressing. She is free to move to another area where the opportunities are better. The labor department has lots of programs that will help her get retrained so that her skills become more marketable. There are food stamps to help feed the kids and welfare and section 8 housing to help keep a roof over her head and clothes on her back.

There is no excuse for any child in this country to go to bed hungry. If they do, it is not because of poverty it is because of parental neglect. Shools offer free breakfast and lunch, there are foodstamps and WIC programs for families with children. Our country is the only country in the world were the poor people are FAT. POVERTY DOES NOT EXIST IN AMERICA.

Clayton, when was the last time you saw a buggy whip manufacturer or a livery stable? They don't exist because the economy evolved. That is what is happening now. People will have to move from the manufacturing sector to the service sector to keep busy, but it will happen. A mechanic in New Delhi isn't going to work on my truck and the plumbing job in my house can't be outsourced to Hong Kong. Vietnamese loggers can't harvest trees in US forests and nobody in Malaysia is going to cook my steak or serve me my beer. Iron workers in Bangladesh can't build a building in Manhattan. The economy is evolving and so too must the American workforce. It is the way it is and it is the way it has always been. When this country was founded 98% of all workers were in agriculture. It was necessary just to feed the poulation, now 2% of the population not only makes us Americans fat and happy but sends tons of grain to russia and rice to asia and sugar to Europe.

In America we do not know poverty. Some of us have it alot better than others, but we all have the opportunity to succede. The founder of got his start selling eggs, then he moved on to Yellow Pages adds and now he is on Forbes list of the 400 richest peopel in America. Marcus Bernard and Arthur Blank grew up in New York Tenement housing. They were both fired by Handy Dan home improvement store and decided to start their own store which is now Home Depot. Oprah Winfrey is a sharecropper's daughter and who among us wouldn't trade bank books with her? Ross perot started out with a paper route, moved on to breaking horses and selling greeting cards. Sam Walton turned a tiny general store into the biggest retail giant the world has ever seen. Red McCombs, owner of the Minnesota Vikings and car dealer is the son of a mechanic. 63% of Forbes 400 (252 people) are self made. Not only does our country provide everyone who needs it, food, clothing and shelter, we provide the opportunity to become rich beyond your wildest expectations, if you are simply willing to apply yourself. What other country in the world can say that?
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370 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2004 :  18:21:33  Show Profile
Kile tunnel vision is a great gift. You only see and hear what you want to. For those of us who can see shades of grey nothing is so simple. Enjoy your world, and don't worry, shaded windows will help you miss the school kids in houston collecting money ofr school supplies on the street corners.
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476 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2004 :  19:05:22  Show Profile
I've been pondering a similar topic for some time. I am reaching the viewpoint that when a corporation closes a factory in this country to transfer the jobs to a cheaper country and then sell those same products back to the fired workers is a form of economic high treason.

I can think of few things more insidous and harmfully insulting to the citizens of any country. Now the corporate honchos are closing factories in Mexico because the wages are too high. Can ya believe that?
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Reconstruction Man

124 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2004 :  19:36:32  Show Profile

Very sorry for your past loss.


"Well, Reconman, I wholeheartedly believe that poverty is ones own fault for this is a free country and no one forces you to be poor but yourself".

Tell that to all those that are too poor to move, even if retraining is available. Tell it to the little boy or girl that want to mow and save, but dad or mom beats them till the mowing money is handed over.

Tell it to the family who's bread winner is suddenly paralized because of some DUI nut, and while reeling from those facts, have no clue that their future is going to unfold like a house of cards falling in slow motion.

Tell that to the family who was rejected food stamps because they made $1 buck too much to qualify. Or the family that has the decision to pay their car insurance bill or home insurance bill or have groceries for the week / month.

Tell it to the mother who lost medical benefits for her kids because some accounting wizard wants the state books to look good and so takes back the deduction she had for child care which now makes it appear she has more money to "play" with...and so that accounting trickery disqualifies her and her kids for publicly supported health insurance.

Tell it to all the trusting Enron, Tyco, MCI, etc. corporate supporting folks who spent many an hour trusting their altruistically honorable corporate family heads, not realizing their retirement money was a ghost story in the making.

Tell it to the person who doesn' t know their employer is planning to go out of business...the day after tomorrow...just one day after that person turned down a job so as to remain loyal to their present trusted "friend".

Tell it to the insurance poor who hang in there to pay their part of the promise, and they do not realize their unregulate company is faking their solvency, or their regulated company is going to play hard ball to pay anything at all.

Tell it to the deeply depressed, severly handicapped, morally poor wealthy, incest and rape victims, and the upwards of 1,000,000 species due for extinction by 2050 how circumstance that make us all poor at many levels are somehow hurdles to overcome...if we all just try a little harder.

Hmmm...But then again, maybe things aren't really that bad after all and those lazy folks just need a few Tony Robbins rally's to "snap out of it"...
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875 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2004 :  19:40:42  Show Profile
I'm glad we can have this little discussion. It's nice to be able to debate a subject in a polite manner without any personal attacks.

Mark, I don't believe for a minute those kids in Houston are begging for school supplies and if they are their parents should be jailed for child endangerment and neglect. Really, how much money do you need for school supplies a pencil and a spiral bound notebook are less than $1.

Most, if not all of those traffic beggars are simply running a scam because they know there are alot of sympathetic people out there who they can make a bunch off of.

I don't have tunnel vision. Quite the opposite. I can see the big picture and in reallity those we consider poor are actually quite well off compared to the poor of 100 years ago or the poor in the Sudan.

I think a big issue is those of us who lean to the right tend to be optomists who see the glass as half full. Sure our country isn't perfect but we have done so much and the results are truly astounding. I believe that those who lean to the left are pessimists, they think that since we have not reached Utopia everything is awful and people are suffering everywhere.

I don't agree with much of what the government has done in the war on poverty. The preamble to the Constitution says we will "promote the general welfare", not provide for it. But even though I don't agree with most of it, it has pretty much eliminated hunger in this country. Most homeless people are that way because they don't want to live any other way. I'm not saying that hardship doesn't exist and that people don't get down on their luck, but studies show that in America of those considered poor today by American standards 86% will no longer be considered poor in 10 years and 20% will be considered wealthy.

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1014 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2004 :  19:58:30  Show Profile
Kile, the good Lord gave you ears to hear with and eyes to see. If you will only open both you will see and hear a poverty in this country that is pervasive.

I invite you down to North Carolina to spend a week with me and I will take you on a tour and show you the poverty your eyes have been closed to and which is very real.

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Kile. Your eyes are wide shut.

Edited by - JimF on 01/30/2004 20:05:07
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