A Philosopher's Blog

Are the Poor to Blame for Being Poor?

Posted in Business, Philosophy, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on October 7, 2011
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 03:  Republican preside...

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When asked about the protestors occupying Wall Street, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said, “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks,” he continued. “If you don’t have a job and you are not rich, blame yourself!” This does, of course, raise an interesting question: are the poor to blame for being poor?

Children make up a rather significant number of the poor, even in the United States. Using the federal definition of the poverty level $22,050 per year for a family of four), about 15 million children are poor. That is about 21% of all children. If poverty is defined as not having enough income to cover basic expenses, then the percentage increases to 42%. Given Fox News’ standard of $250,000 per year for a family of four, then the percentage of poor children would be vast indeed.

On the face of it, it would seem rather difficult to blame children for their poverty-even those that are old enough to legally work. After all, the wages for the sort of jobs that children are qualified to do tend to be rather low indeed. To be fair to Cain, his remarks were aimed at adults rather than children. Presumably he would blame these adults for the poverty of their children as well.

Some people are poor in the United States because they went bankrupt. While it is tempting to attribute these bankruptcies to overspending, over 60% of them are due to medical bills. There are no doubt cases in which people can be blamed for their illnesses (such as those relating to smoking or other lifestyle choices) and cases in which people could have paid their bills had they planned better. However, the majority of cases of medical bankruptcy seem to be cases in which the people are simply victims and not to blame.  “Unless you’re a Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, you’re one illness away from financial ruin in this country,” says Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., of the Harvard Medical School. “If an illness is long enough and expensive enough, private insurance offers very little protection against medical bankruptcy…” True, they cannot blame Wall Street and the banks (except to the degree that insurance companies and medical costs are at fault), but it would seem that people who end up poor under these conditions cannot be blamed.

It might, of course, be objected that if the people who went bankrupt had been as rich as Bill Gates, then they would not have gone bankrupt. If it is their fault that they are not that rich, then their poverty would thus seem to be their fault. This, of course, assumes that the medical costs that caused the bankruptcies were fair and that it is just and right of private insurance companies to not protect the less affluent from medical bankruptcies. These are, of course, rather dubious assumptions.

Other people are poor because they were fired. In some cases, people do deserve to be fired and hence are to blame. However, if a person is fired because their company is sending jobs offshore to make more profits or because the financial meltdown resulted in the loss of their job, then it would seem that they would not be to blame. Also, the Republicans delight in talking about how Obama is destroying jobs. If this rhetoric were correct, then Cain’s claim that the poor are to blame for their poverty would not be true-at least in the cases in which Obama allegedly destroyed their jobs.

It could, of course, be replied that the people who were fired should have taken action to ensure that they had jobs that they would not lose or that they were rich. Since they did not make themselves indispensable or independently wealthy (or could not stop Obama from destroying their jobs), then they are to blame. This, one might note, seems a bit like how a victim of theft can be blamed for the theft. If he had, for example, only had armed guards protecting his house, then his possessions would not have been stolen.

To close the discussion, I will consider an analogy between being poor and failing  one of my classes.

On the face of it, if someone fails my classes, then they are to blame. Likewise, if someone is poor, then they are to blame. However, the analogy breaks apart fairly quickly.

One significant difference is that my classes are designed to compensate for the fact that students do not all come from equal backgrounds. While I have some students who have received top-notch high school educations, I also have students who went through schools that were woefully underfunded and in rather bad condition. While there are some attempts in life to compensate for such disparities, it hardly seems fair to blame a person for being poor if they start out in horrible conditions and little is done to provide chances to overcome this.

I will, of course, note that there are exceptional people who manage to overcome the most dire odds-but these people are very rare and their success does not prove that the system is a fair and just one. It just proves that there are people who are so exceptional that they can do amazing things.  To use the class analogy, if I make a class so hard that only the very best student has a chance of even passing, it would be odd to say that my class is fair because one or two people manage to pass it.

Another significant difference is that my classes provide an equal opportunity to each student. Everyone faces the same requirements. Everyone gets the same lectures, notes, and support material. Everyone has the same access to my office hours, phone, email and web site. In all but one of my classes the books are even free downloads. A person’s family, political connections, wealth and so on have no bearing on their grade-only performance matters. When students face dire problems (such as being deployed overseas by the National Guard) I work with them to ensure that legitimate problems do not prevent them from achieving the level of success they deserve. As such, if someone fails my class, they truly do have no one to blame but themselves.

Obviously enough, the economic world is not like this. People do not get the same starting point, they do not get comparable resources, and so on. As such, it would seem rather unfair to place the full blame on the person who is poor. If the system was fair so that people had the same opportunity of success based on effort, then the poor would be to blame for their poverty. However, the system is rather obviously not a fair system and this surely mitigates the blame.

To use the class analogy once more, imagine that I ran my class a bit differently. The requirements and availability of resources  varied from student to student based on such factors as their wealth and political connections. For example, the very poor students would be denied access to the notes, the lectures, my office hours and so on but would be expected to do as well on the tests as the wealthy students who had access to everything. My assessment would, of course, be based on performance-at least in part. The wealthy and connected would get a bit of a bonus proportional to their wealth and connections. I would, of course, point to the one or two poor students who were able to do well as proof that my class is fair. But, of course, only the most deluded would really regard it as fair. In this scenario, a reasonable person would be hard pressed to blame the poor students for doing badly in the class-after all, they were at a terrible disadvantage relative to those who succeeded and the success of a few exceptional students would not chance the inherent unfairness.

To use a final analogy, the economic system can be seen as comparable to a marathon race that some people must run and others can use various vehicles. True, a good runner could even beat some people who used, for example bikes, but the fact that this can occur hardly shows that the competition is fair or that the runners who finish behind the cars and bikes are to blame for this.

Thus, while some poor people are to blame, it is an unfair and sweeping generalization to blame all (or even most) of the poor and jobless.

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39 Responses

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  1. T. J. Babson said, on October 7, 2011 at 7:06 am

    Are we allowed to ask why people are having children if they can’t afford to take care of them? Is that somebody else’s fault as well?

    • dhammett said, on October 7, 2011 at 9:14 am

      Actually, it could be more complicated than that. Some, believe it or not, had a couple kids, had adequate employment, then the recession hit. They lost their original jobs. Now they still have the kids, but must keep two low-paying jobs (or if it’s an intact family, three or more), just to feed the family and keep up the payments on a house they built 8 years ago.
      But, sure. Go ahead. Ask away.
      We might also ask why there are elements of society that fight tooth and nail to prevent sex education in schools and contraceptive use among their parishioners (Oh. That’s right. There are no poor Catholics).

      You can ask the question, but having more children than you can afford to take care of is not the only issue when considering the subject of poverty.

  2. magus71 said, on October 7, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Everyone should read “The Millionaire Next Door”. It refutes many of Mike’s assumptions about the rich. Specifically, 80% of millionaire’s are first generation millionaires and made their money themselves. And, most millionaires got that way simply by working and being frugal, not by signing multi-million dollar athletic or Hollywood contracts.

    Almost all my friends were poor growing up. Some lived in trailer parks. Some of their parents got food stamps and free cheese. Many grew up with one parent. Yet none of the people I have in mind are poor now. Please don’t say “it’s anecdotal.” So what? Does that mean that if every other poor did what my friends did, they’d remain poor? No.

    Democrats must keep the poor thinking they live in a country that gives them no chance.

    Mike, most “poor” people I know and have known don’t care. They’re comfortable being poor because ther government makes them so. Do you even know any poor people?

    • dhammett said, on October 7, 2011 at 9:34 am

      On the other hand—Does that mean that if every other poor kid, did what my friends did, they could pull themselves out of poverty?—

      No. Your friends don’t interest me. Except that they’re examples of the friends you had when you were a kid.They got their government handouts (that’s where the food stamps came from, right?)Every last one of them, apparently succeeded in one way or another. But, I’d also, of course, like to hear about the friends you had who weren’t poor.
      Fewer kids from another environment, where there were different things going on, might have made it out of poverty. Some may even have been been killed before they had a chance to pull themselves up by their own ‘bootstraps’.

      I’m guessing there are a lot of people who can’t afford “The Millionaire Next Door”. First, make sure the local library doesn’t have any rules against smelly, poorly dressed people. Then donate a couple copies of the book. While you’re at it, donate a few copies of Dr. Ellis’ books. We want these poor schmucks to be healthy once they reach the middle class! And don’t forget, the library likely gets local, state and federal government funds.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 7, 2011 at 11:44 am

      What are my assumptions about the rich?

      Well, I grew up in the same town as you and had many of the same friends. You are right-many of these people got out of poverty and became successful. My Dad’s family was super poor-his parents had to drop out of school when they were kids in order to take care of their families and my Dad was the first member of the family to even finish high school. Thanks to scholarships, he was able to go to UMO and get a Master’s degree. He became a teacher and then a professor. I became the first member of the family to get a PhD-thanks to scholarships, loans and a Pell Grant. I’m a professor now and “giving back” (or being a useless parasite, according to WTP).

      My take away from our anecdotes is that you are right that people can get out of poverty and exceed their parents. However, this often requires the help of the state. My Dad and I (and many others) were able to go to college because of state support (which we have paid back many times over in taxes alone). Your paycheck comes right from the state and I suspect you’ll want to go back to school on the GI Bill when you muster out. Unfortunately, education funding is being cut and this will make it much harder for people to rise up.

      I’m sure some people are fine with being poor. However, the people who get fired and struggle to find work clearly are not as are the people who have been broken by medical bankruptcies. I do not think the state should become a welfare state, but it should provide a means for the citizens to better themselves-mainly through education. This has been a central pillar in the success of America but is being weakened.

      The hyper concentration of wealth is also a problem-people will have less and less to work with so as to get out of poverty. If enough talented people find that they cannot satisfy their ambitions, they will set their hands to changing the system and this can lead to real class warfare of the sort that we have seen in other times and places.

      • T. J. Babson said, on October 7, 2011 at 2:06 pm

        “The hyper concentration of wealth is also a problem-people will have less and less to work with so as to get out of poverty.”

        This statement makes sense only if one believes that a person gets rich by taking away from others. In fact, just the opposite is true–a person gets rich by contributing to the welfare of others. Steve Jobs is an excellent example.

        • dhammett said, on October 7, 2011 at 5:37 pm

          The fact that Steve Jobs’ death was a matter of worldwide consequence, that his ideas and products have and will affect people worldwide, and that the deaths of relatively few other “rich” people would seem to arouse/earn such attention might indicate that he’s an “excellent exception” to– but not necessarily an “excellent example” of– your contention that “a (any,every,all?) person[s] get[s] rich by contributing to the welfare of others”.

        • magus71 said, on October 9, 2011 at 11:54 am

          Steve Jobs; yet another person who began with little and ended with much.

          • dhammett said, on October 9, 2011 at 3:12 pm

            We should make lists of “People who began with ^little^ and ended with much” and “People who began with much and ended with even more”, “People who began with little and ended with less” and “People who began with much and ended with less.” Or does that seem like just another pointless exercise?

            • magus71 said, on October 10, 2011 at 2:05 am

              How about people who started with little and ended up with enough?

            • dhammett said, on October 10, 2011 at 8:46 am

              Sure. Add’em. But we need the facts and figures, if there’s a point to be proven here.

              ‘Enough’ for what?

      • WTP said, on October 7, 2011 at 10:58 pm

        OK, you’re calling me out here but see my more relevant post below. I do not see you as a useless parasite. Anyone who can function in our society has enormous potential to be productive. We were all parasites once we popped out of the womb. But maturity and a sense of responsibility to the society we live in gives us the ability to far exceed that status. But if we do not demand productivity of ourselves or of each other, we will ultimately descend to the level of animals. If I am harsh, it is only because I see the value in every one of us and it saddens me to see it wasted. I know that I have benefited greatly by those who cared enough to send some rather harsh words my way. I would not be the successful person I am today without that. Mike, there’s a slow train coming your way and you have enormous potential to move beyond it. That is not directly a complement, it’s just a fact of observing (assuming what you post here about yourself is true, and I’m willing to believe it is) that you have a good, solid work ethic. Possibly stronger than mine. But it’s wasted on a perspective of life that is constrained by a Malthusian view. Not interested in pursuing this thread, but I’d be happy to discuss more abstract points below.

  3. WTP said, on October 7, 2011 at 8:33 am

    “While there are some attempts in life to compensate for such disparities, it hardly seems fair to blame a person for being poor if they start out in horrible conditions and little is done to provide chances to overcome this.

    I will, of course, note that there are exceptional people who manage to overcome the most dire odds-but these people are very rare and their success does not prove that the system is a fair and just one.”

    Such people are only exceptional in the sense that they try and try again. There are many, many more people who rise from poverty to success, maybe not multi-million dollar success, but certainly middle and upper-middle class success, than you comprehend. These are people who take action. And this “little is done to provide chances to overcome this” excuse does nothing to help them. You have responsibility to create your own chances in life. Normal people do it all the time. Hell, even the guy that buys a lottery ticket made the effort to buy a lottery ticket. Should he share his wealth with everyone else just because he was “lucky”?
    “However, if a person is fired because their company is sending jobs offshore to make more profits or because the financial meltdown resulted in the loss of their job, then it would seem that they would not be to blame.” – Why would this make them poor? They need to get another job. The fundamental flaw in this logic is that the job does not belong to them. The job belongs to the person or organization that wants to have a certain task accomplished. You repeatedly refuse to engage in discussion concerning your fundamental understanding of economics. I notice you again dodged the question, asked by TJ this time, as to what the LaBossierian view is on whether or not an economy is static, and thus we are all fighting over pieces of a fixed-sized pie, or dynamic. Can you answer what your view is on this? It is extremely fundamental to any economic discussion and the root of much pain and suffering in this world. I would hope that someone who considers themselves a philosopher would be very interested in pursuing such a matter.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 7, 2011 at 12:02 pm

      While the image of the noble warrior who rises again and again despite the outrageous arrows of fate piercing his flesh is appealing, there is the question of just how much we can reasonably expect of people. To use an analogy, imagine that life is like a long race. Now imagine that some people get an easy course to run and perhaps even a vehicle. Now imagine that some people have to battle through swamps, sand, fallen trees and so on. I’ve done that, so I know I can make it and so can some other folks. Other people, however, would not be up to, for example, swimming across a lake after running for miles through a forest and might get drown. On your view, they are at fault because they cannot meet the challenge. On one hand, perhaps you are right-maybe people are obligated to be able to meet any challenge and if they fail, the fault is their own. For example, a person who is beaten down and killed by muggers is to blame because he should have been better at avoidance or combat. If she beats the muggers, then they are to blame for their failures since they should have been tougher. On the other hand, there does seem to be a reasonable limit to how much we can expect from people and at that point the blame would shift from them (if only to a degree).

      As far as losing a job making them poor, it would if they could not find another job. Telling someone who has been looking for work to “just get a job” does not seem to be a very good solution. Of course, perhaps you think they should just be able to create or find one, despite the economic situation that exists. This goes back to the core question of how much we can reasonably expect from people.

      As far as the economy goes, it has to be finite. It can be dynamic, but within clear limits. To use an obvious example, there is only so much land that people can own on earth. So, if I have X property, that means that I have taken a slice from a fixed pie. As far as money goes, we can obviously just keep inflating the available currency-even to infinity. However, the purchasing power of each slice seems to be linked to the other slices. But, in general, since we are in an effectively finite system, we are ultimately fighting over a finite pie.

      • WTP said, on October 7, 2011 at 10:39 pm

        Mike, this right here is the fundamental, elemental matter of what ails the understanding of economics. Everything else discussed here in regard to economics, “fairness”, the nature of societies, and politics is just wasted effort without an understanding of this point. Do you have the curiosity; do you have the philosophical desire to pursue this subject? Or are you simply interested in a sophistic defense of a Malthusian steady-state economic model? Do you care enough to put other clown-nose-on/clown-nose-off discussions on hold long enough to dig into this?

        There is no finite pie. If there was, existing civilization would be far more poverty stricken than those civilizations that existed in the past. After all (as you like to say) there are nearly as many people alive today (or more, didn’t check this…statistically irrelevant) than there have been in the entire history of human civilization. If economics was a zero-sum game, that constant wealth would be diluted amongst a larger population. Yet what do we have today, but the wealthiest civilization the world has ever seen. The average man today lives better than the nobles of centuries ago. And there are far more average men now than there were nobles centuries ago. Why do we live better? The same amount of matter (or even more limiting in your perspective, land) exists today as then.

        Your position is very materialist-based, which is a very ironic position for a philosopher to be in. We are not limited by the stuff in this world/universe, we are only limited by our ideas and our ability to create new ideas. What matters most is what is between our ears. It is stunningly despairingly sad that so many Philosophers fail to understand this.

  4. magus71 said, on October 7, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Mike,

    If, as you and others argue, economics is a zero sum game, that is, in order to have rich people you must have poor people, why is it that in many countries, mass starvation and poverty occur? It seems to me that the more rich people a country has, the fewer poor people a country has, as a percentage of the population.

    There are multiple ways to escape poverty in the US. In many other countries, there is almost no way. I’m not drinking the kool-aid.

    If I can do it, anyone can. It took me a long time to learn. I grew up poor; ran away from home 5 times; my dad was a heavy pot smoker and lived in a trailer park; my mom was abusive; I dropped out of high school and got a GED. But then something changed–*my mind*. I became a Christian and all my thoughts moved through a different filter. Suddenly I cared. Suddenly I found myself in college. Suddenly I was the first college graduate ever in my family and had a job in law enforcement. Yes, I have people to thank. Yes, I hurt some people when i was younger. I’m still learning from mistakes, but that’s something I didn’t do when I was younger. I rarely learned from mistakes. I’m not going back to watching the world pass me by and blaming everyone else. I know exactly what kind of person that thinking breeds: A schemer, because you think that’s the only way to make it here. That’s a lie. I encourage everyone who reads this, if you’re poor, get down to basics. Don’t steal, lie, cheat, study hard, say your prayers and take your vitamins. It’ll do you more good than anything a liberal will tell you.

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgwrWTu4ST0&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&version=3%5D

    • dhammett said, on October 7, 2011 at 10:04 am

      “Don’t steal, lie, cheat, study hard, say your prayers and take your vitamins. It’ll do you more good than anything a liberal will tell you,”

      I know it may be hard for you to believe, but there are liberals who sit in pews in UCC, Episcopalian, and some Lutheran churches who would give the same advice (although they might avoid the vitamin hype–and they may or may not excoriate conservatives). Magus, it can’t be healthful to harbor the animosity you seem to feel toward libs.

      Magus, you’ve written your story on here before, and I’ve commended you on what you’ve accomplished.
      But I feel compelled to tell you that some poor people don’t have easy access to computers to read your post. And they sure can’t afford vitamins (except maybe the generic brands from China that may be laced with melamine :( ).

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 7, 2011 at 12:10 pm

      The causes vary, but it often involves having a political elite backed by military and police forces funded by outside powers. These people take the majority of the resources for their own selfish benefit and leave the rest to starve. If there is a competent opposition, civil war arises-thus creating more suffering.

      Yes, the US has opportunities to escape poverty. I agree. My main points are that 1) existing means (education, mainly) need to be preserved and 2) new means need to be created. Many Republicans seem to take the view that creating opportunity is a matter of acting in the interests of those on the top-apparently on the assumption that the folks on the top will trickle down the wealth to those below them. However, it seems to make more sense to spend resources on creating opportunities for those below to work their way upwards-mainly via education and the chances of creating new economic growth. Giving more to those who already have does not seem to be calculated to help those who have little or nothing.

      I seem to be commonly accused of wanting to just hand the poor cheese and money. This is not the case. What I favor is the American ideal of using our collective resources to enable people to succeed. This is, as they say, a way of investing in the future. One of America’s great strengths is our education system and we should be improving that rather than trying to “improve” it by cutting budgets, imposing standardized tests, and allowing for-profit colleges to profit on taxpayer dollars.

    • dhammett said, on October 10, 2011 at 2:50 pm

      From an article in today’s (Oct.11) NYT Online by Gordon Marino, who, apparently, writes on boxing for the WSJ and is a prof of philosophy at St Olaf College. Oh. And he’s apparently a boxing trainer. Can’t get much more ‘hands on’ than that.

      “In an article largely critical of Freud, the philosopher Jonathan Glover gleans this truth: the facts we grasp are often cherry picked by our emotions. He writes, ‘Knowledge of the possibility of unconscious factors distorting our view of our situation places on us a special duty of skeptical scrutiny.’ [1]

      “Our awareness of the idea of the unconscious can help us keep a third eye on the underlying leitmotifs of our lives, lest they dominate our understanding of the world. For example, for whatever reason there are throngs of Americans who detest nothing more than the idea of someone getting something for free, especially if it might involve their tax dollars. THUS DURING THE RECENT DEBATES OVER HEALTH CARE, AND, FURTHER BACK, WELFARE REFORM, THE ATTENTION OF MANY WAS RIVETED ON COLLECTING AND SERVING UP INSTANCES OF THE TINY PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE WHO PERHAPS WORKED THE SYSTEM TO KEEP FROM WORKING, OR TO GET FREE MEDICAL TREATMENT— AS THOUGH THE SHIFTLESS FEW WERE THE RULE RATHER THAN THE EXCEPTION. Could not some of these hidebound individuals profit from considering the possibility that there might be a HEFTY ELEMENT OF SELFISHNESS AND/OR RESENTMENT embedded in their psychic hard-drives, and that these fractious feelings filter their understanding of the facts?”

      And variations apply to other posters on here.

      • dhammett said, on October 10, 2011 at 2:51 pm

        Oh. Caps mine in that post.

  5. ajmacdonaldjr said, on October 7, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Poverty is a relative term. There are few truly poor people in America. True poverty is found in third-world, not first world nations. That’s why we call them: third-world nations.

    People in America only think they are poor because they compare themselves to the wealthy and the middle-class. There are, or course, pockets of true poverty in America but, in general, everyone in America is wealthy in comparison to the truly poor found in third-world nations.

    Herman Cain is an idiot, although he makes a good point that ambition can raise one out of poverty.

    Failure is the best way to learn and it’s a mistake to ensure that no American ever fails; that she will be bailed out and protected from all her mistakes. This goes for the big banks too: no bank it too big to fail and no bank should ever be bailed-out. Obviously, banks, too, need to learn from failure and not be bailed-out.

    “The poor you will have with you always.” ~ Jesus

    • dhammett said, on October 7, 2011 at 7:22 pm

      Shouldn’t we be judging poverty in this nation by comparing the US to other developed, affluent nations?

      Jesus had something more than a simple “Don’t be poor, be happy” view:

      “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

  6. magus71 said, on October 10, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Has anyone actually read about how Herman Cain grew up? The anecdotes keep piling up until they’re not anecdotal anymore.

    • dhammett said, on October 10, 2011 at 4:11 pm

      I’ll bet he grew up black. And so did Obama. So the vast majority of blacks can be business leaders or presidents, right? Or at least pull themselves up out of poverty by their bootstraps, right? I don’t think that attitude is true of whites , Mexicans, Chinese, whatever. To paraphrase WTP above: “There are many, many more people who fall from success [defined, I assume, as something other than poverty] to poverty, maybe not $2/day poverty , but certainly below the poverty-line poverty , than you comprehend.” Are the people with the “Your Fair Share is not in My Pocket” bumper stickers going to help pay for them, if they’re permitted to opt out of Social Security or taxes that pay for other safety net programs?

      Much more evidence than you’ve been presented here is needed. Sorry.

      I can probably find 50–500 instances to support just about any claim about the human condition. How many serial killers have done their evil deeds? Whatever the answer, it only proves that there lies, within some men, genetic predispositions that do not exist in others. That some experience different environmental influences.Many things are not within the control of the perpetrators,- – -other factors are. Still, I wouldn’t leap to the conclusion that all men could be serial killers, if they only set their minds to it. Took their vitamins. By the same token, I’m not going to jump at the possibility than even 50% of the poor are fully responsible for their poverty. The figure (since we’re talking anecdotal evidence here) may range from 10% or less to 90% or more.)

      I’m not a Christian, but it seems the sentiment expressed in the Biblical quotation in my 7:22 pm post above fits my weltanshauung better than it fits the apparent schadenfreude#* exhibited by you and some others here.@%

      #*Boy, I hope I used those two German words properly, ‘cuz I don’t get too many chances to use them in the same sentence.
      @% It’s a
      “Tee hee. I made it despite the hurdles I faced, and he didn’t. He should have, because all it takes is the Bible, vitamins, and a strong work ethic, and the ability to know it all by choosing the right ideology. Haw, haw!”
      attitude that percolates to the top of many of the replies.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 10, 2011 at 7:02 pm

      I’m still trying to find any political offices he has held. As I recall, Obama’s lack of experience was a big deal last time around.

      • WTP said, on October 10, 2011 at 8:07 pm

        Obama’s lack of executive experience was the more serious concern. Cain has it in spades.

        Whatsamatta, Mike? Have I entered gadfly/troll territory? I’m not playing “gotcha” here, a game you like to play when convenient. I question your understanding of economics. These are legitimate questions considering what you write about and considering your position of some, though admittedly quite moderate, influence in society. A position that exists significantly at Florida taxpayer expense.

        BTW, what’s with the laser focus on Herman Cain now? Is it my imagination or do you seem to focus on the issues surrounding whoever is the leading Republican contender? You write very little about Obama, considering he’s the POTUS. Surely there’s more to discuss philosophically and in practical experience concerning where he is on the issues.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 11, 2011 at 3:07 pm

          Business experience is not the same as executive branch experience. I’ve been the head of the philosophy & religion unit for years, yet I would not be inclined to say that qualifies me to be President. All I am asking for is a consistent set of standards for assessing candidates. When Obama was running, I agreed to the obvious: he lacked executive branch experience and this was a point of concern.

          Is the standard now that business experience now counts as executive branch experience? Did Obama’s success in selling lots of books count?

          • magus71 said, on October 13, 2011 at 2:11 am

            Funny–it was actually Hillary Clinton who pushed the experience thing the hardest, Mike. This CNN commentator back during the election goes on to say that it’s BECAUSE of Obama’s lack of experience in Washington that people wanted him as President. Do you suppose he’s saying the same thing about Cain?

            Hillary now works for the man she says was under qualified for president, and Barack Obama hired Hillary, the woman he said had no qualifications herself.

  7. WTP said, on October 11, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    “Business experience is not the same as executive branch experience.” – What does this sentence even mean, Mike? Executive experience is what I was talking about. E.g. a person or group of persons having administrative or supervisory authority in an organization. “Executive branch” experience would be as a Governor, POTUS, Mayor, etc. Obama has none of that either. Cain’s work as chairman of the board of the KC Fed is far closer to governemental executive experience, though not an “executive branch” per se, than Obama ever had.

    “Did Obama’s success in selling lots of books count?” – This sentence shows you have no idea what I’m talking about. If Obama owned a company that produced, distributed, marketed, and sold the books then yes. But simply writing a book which get sold by others does not constitute being an executive.

    • WTP said, on October 11, 2011 at 4:12 pm

      yes, that should be i.e. not e.g. Defeats my point, I know…

    • dhammett said, on October 11, 2011 at 6:40 pm

      “Obama has none of that either”. No experience as POTUS? Seriously?

      • WTP said, on October 11, 2011 at 7:13 pm

        Obviously that should have been “had”, gotcha-douche-bag-boy. This discussion of Obama’s experience was in the context of when he was running for president. I wouldn’t bother to respond to your post here except it wouldn’t surprise me if Mike jumped on this too.

        Mike, care to address the stronger aspects of my point above?

        • erikdhammett said, on October 11, 2011 at 10:08 pm

          Of course it should have. But context and tense are irrelevant here. I’ve never criticized anyone on here for editing problems. I tend to be more interested in sources of information, misrepresentations, outright lies, etc. Indeed, I’ve criticized others for pointing out minor errors. Why, with your capacious mind, I’m surprised you haven’t noticed and recorded that.

          The point was to get you to respond. And you did. Salivate much? Now you know what a real troll* might do, and perhaps you can toss around the label more wisely next time.

          Gotcha.

          *See my SOTO Draft response for Jan. 28, 2011, 10:17 pm and references contained therein for further explanation— in case you’ve forgotten.

    • T. J. Babson said, on October 11, 2011 at 10:14 pm

      Mike is playing word games. He knows full well that “executive experience” is not the same as “executive branch experience.” Executive experience involves running a big organization, as in Chief Executive Officer. “Head of the philosophy & religion unit” is closer to middle management, but is still more executive experience than Obama had when he ran for president.

      • WTP said, on October 12, 2011 at 8:37 am

        Which is exactly what irritates. Mikey (and to a much greater extent, erikdhammitfrkwhatever) likes to play little passive-aggressive word games and likes to weasel his way out of points and facts. But then it’s crybaby time when his little games elicit a reaction. It’s intellectually dishonest and intentionally sophistic. And given his concentration on the slightest faults of conservatives, libertarians, etc. yet the ease at which he glosses over the faults of the other side.

        I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize for my previous apology. It is becoming more apparent to me that Mike is not on the up-and-up, much like ericdhammitfrkwhatever just in a different flavor. Sorry there Magus, but that’s the way I see it. You guys have a personal connection that elicits an admirable personal loyalty. I don’t have that with Mike and in spite of what I may have said earlier, I don’t think any of my lefty friends are this intellectually dishonest. I gotta call ‘em like I sees ‘em.

        • dhammett said, on October 12, 2011 at 8:52 am

          Perhaps you should take a little time off to sulk– like you have twice before. Consider Jan 28. Consider the incident where three people on here pointed out your excessively aggressive attacks on the blog host.

          Use the time to consider the possibility that other posters with other opinions are not necessarily wrong (or trolling. . .) just because you say so.

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 12, 2011 at 1:41 pm

        No, not a word game-just clearing up the distinction.

        Are you saying I should run for president? ;)

  8. erikdhammett said, on October 11, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    Second sentence should read as follows: “But context (which is usually very important) and tense (which occasionally is) are irrelevant in this situation.”


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