Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Poor and lazy

Pushing consumer based pricing at $8 after taxes pay because
they can't afford the high dollar stuff is the power of the poor.
Who said you need it anyway?

The poor works hard for what they get so why call them lazy?
Even panhandlers work for what they get. Out there in the heat or
cold getting something of value for some kind of happiness.
What do you work for? Many people working 40 hour weeks
drink beer on the weekend.

Many poor live on only 20+ percent of their income.
And that is 20 percent sales for the town. So small towns are small because
they make nothing. The town cant grow because the people are not able to grow,
they are not paid to grow. 

The poor works hard for the low wages then spends low.

~~~~~Here's a breakdown of some of the most common myths about poverty in America, and why they're wrong:

Myth: The U.S. offers unparalleled opportunity to escape poverty.

Reality: America has far less social mobility than most comparable nations, including France, Germany, Denmark and Canada. Inequality in access to education, health care and home ownership has hardened class disparities. A 2006 study found that 42% of American men who grew up in the bottom quintile of incomes remained there are adults — a rate that's much lower in other developed countries. According to a 2013 Hamilton Project report, "a child born to parents with income in the lowest quintile is more than 10 times more likely to end up in the lowest quintile than the highest as an adult."

Myth: Education is the silver bullet for solving poverty.

Reality: A paper at the 2014 Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's annual conference revealed that class is a far better predictor than education level of where someone ends up. In the study, rich people who dropped out of high school maintained their wealth as often as poor people who acquired college degrees remained frozen at the bottom of the income ladder. In fact, a college degree does not even guarantee a middle class life: According to Mother Jones' analysis of census data, in 2012, more than 1 million people with bachelor degrees made less than $25,000 a year while working full-time.

Myth: Welfare makes the poor lazy.

Reality: People across the income ladder strongly prefer working to being unemployed, and the data show that this is very much the case for poor people receiving support from the government, especially after having time to recover from emergency. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "Among SNAP households [households receiving food stamps] with at least one working-age, non-disabled adult, more than half work while receiving SNAP — and more than 80% work in the year prior to or the year after receiving SNAP. The rates are even higher for families with children — more than 60% work while receiving SNAP, and almost 90% work in the prior or subsequent year."

Not only is there an absence of evidence that government aid causes rampant laziness, but there's also research suggesting that it promotes entrepreneurialism by mitigating the risk of launching businesses — many people are more ambitious with a safety net. Gareth Olds at the Harvard Business School has shown that access to government aid in the form of food stamps or health care corresponds directly with business ownership.

Myth: We should test all welfare recipients for drug use because they're all addicts.

Reality: A recent analysis by ThinkProgress found that in seven states requiring welfare applicants to be screened for illicit drug use, they exhibited rates of drug use lower than the general population. A 1996 study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found no significant difference in drug use between the welfare-receiving population and the non-welfare-receiving population, and a 2002 government survey found that welfare recipients clocked in at less than half a percentage point higher than non-welfare recipients for drug use. If it were an actual problem, then public health groups wouldn't adamantly oppose drug testing welfare recipients.

Myth: Poor people get by on benefits while the rest of us have to work for everything.

Reality: People from every stratum of society are beneficiaries of government benefits. According to political scientists Suzanne Mettler and John Sides, 96% of Americans have received government assistance, and most of it is has nothing to do with easing poverty. Student loans, unemployment insurance, Medicare and Social Security benefits are all forms of government aid. Some benefits are "submerged," or camouflaged because they work through the tax code or private organizations. An example of a submerged benefit is the home mortgage interest deduction, the kind of benefit for homeowners that in fact favors the rich over the poor.

Myth: Food stamps are used to buy junk food and other unnecessary items.

Reality: A 2015 study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that people who receive SNAP benefits don't consume sugary drinks at higher rates than others in their demographic who don't receive them. Welfare experts like Washington University professor Mark Rank say SNAP beneficiaries use them very carefully. "There are some isolated cases of abuse, sure," Rank told the Washington Post. "But they are hardly representative of what the people struggling to get by on SNAP are actually buying... These people are spending their money extremely frugally."

Myth: Single parenthood is causing poverty.

Reality: Two-parent households are generally going to make more money than single-parent homes, but the reason that single parents end up in poverty isn't pure recklessness or a cultural aversion to marriage. A number of studies suggest just the opposite: Economic insecurity actually discourages people from getting married. Despite the fact that low-income people generally possess traditional values about getting married, they view marriage as a risky investment of resources in an environment of economic and social instability, and opt for more tentative arrangements (moving in together) instead. Similarly, conservatives often point to absent fathers as a sign that poor men, stereotypically black, have shunned norms of child-rearing. But these critics pay little attention to the role that chronic scarcity and instability of jobs for low-income workers and mass incarceration plays in displacing fathers from households.

~~~~~Why do we think poor people are poor because of their own bad choices?
Maia Szalavitz
Cecilia Mo thought she knew all about growing up poor when she began teaching at Thomas Jefferson senior high school in south Los Angeles. As a child, she remembered standing in line, holding a free lunch ticket. But it turned out that Mo could still be shocked by poverty and violence – especially after a 13-year-old student called her in obvious panic. He had just seen his cousin get shot in his front yard.

For Mo, hard work and a good education took her to Harvard and Stanford. But when she saw just how much chaos and violence her LA students faced, she recognized how lucky she had been growing up with educated parents and a safe, if financially stretched, home.

Now, as an assistant professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt University, Mo studies how to get upper-class Americans to recognize the advantages they have. She is among a group of scholars trying to understand how rich and poor alike justify inequality. What these academics are finding is that the American dream is being used to rationalize a national nightmare.

It all starts with the psychology concept known as the “fundamental attribution error”. This is a natural tendency to see the behavior of others as being determined by their character – while excusing our own behavior based on circumstances.

For example, if an unexpected medical emergency bankrupts you, you view yourself as a victim of bad fortune – while seeing other bankruptcy court clients as spendthrifts who carelessly had too many lattes. Or, if you’re unemployed, you recognize the hard effort you put into seeking work – but view others in the same situation as useless slackers. Their history and circumstances are invisible from your perspective.

Here’s what has gone wrong: hard work and a good education used to be a sure bet for upward mobility in the US – at least among some groups of people. Americans born in the 1940s had a 90% chance of doing better economically than their parents did – but those born in the 1980s have only 50/50 odds of doing so.

As the dream has faded, however, its effects have not. Several elements of normal psychology combine to keep many across the economic spectrum convinced that the rich and the poor deserve what they get – with exceptions made, of course, mainly for oneself.

This error “lays the groundwork for beliefs that would tend to justify [systemic] inequality,” says Arnold Ho, principal investigator for the psychology of inequality lab at the University of Michigan.

A great example of what the fundamental attribution error looks like in real life can be found in the bestseller Hillbilly Elegy. JD Vance writes of seething with resentment as he worked as a teen cashier, watching people commit fraud with food stamps and talking on cellphones that he could only “dream about” being able to afford.

From his perspective, the food-stamp recipients were lazy and enjoyed selling food to support addictions rather than working honestly. But he had little idea how they saw it from within – whether they were using illicitly purchased alcohol to soothe grief, pain and trauma; whether they were buying something special to celebrate a child’s birthday; whether the hard life that he had been able to manage had just gotten the better of others who were born wired differently or who didn’t have any supportive family members, as he did with his beloved grandmother.

Another instance can be seen in this quote found in an article in the Washington Post about immigrants from a retired factory worker in Pennsylvania: “They’re not paying taxes like Americans are. They’re getting stuff handed to them,” the retiree complained. “Free rent, and they’re driving better vehicles than I’m driving and everything else.” He may not have known – or didn’t care – that immigrants do pay taxes (and so do millions of undocumented immigrants) or that they don’t typically get free rent either.

Indeed, this type of complaint – that undeserving people “cut the line”, as sociologist Arlie Hochschild puts it – is so common in coverage of Trump voters that it was recently caricatured by Katha Pollitt in the Nation: “‘I played by the rules,’ said retired rancher Tom Grady, 66, delving into the Daffodil Diner’s famous rhubarb pie. ‘Why should I pay for some deadbeat’s trip to Europe?’”

Another aspect of this phenomenon is known as “actor-observer bias”. When we watch others, we tend to see them as being driven by intrinsic personality traits, while in our own case we know that, for example, we acted angrily because we’d just been fired, not because we’re naturally angry people.

“We tend to see the world through our own experiences,” explains Stephen Pimpare, lecturer in American Politics at the University of New Hampshire and author of the forthcoming Ghettos, Tramps, and Welfare Queens: Down and Out on the Silver Screen. “We often think it is structure or circumstance that constrains our choices, but it’s the behavior of others that alters theirs.”

In other words, other poor people are poor because they make bad choices – but if I’m poor, it’s because of an unfair system. As a result of this phenomenon, Pimpare says, poor people tend to be hardest on each other. He gives the example of a large literature in anthropology and sociology about women on welfare published since the 1980s. “It finds over and over again that some of nastiest things you ever hear about women on welfare come out of the mouths of women on welfare.”

For instance, one woman will talk about how another down the hall is lazy and sits around, exploiting the system – even though her own behavior could be viewed from the outside as virtually identical. Some will even go so far as to deny that they even get welfare payments, he adds.

Biases about the nature of inequality, of course, don’t only affect poor people.

Among the wealthy, those biases allow society’s winners to believe that they got where they are by hard work alone and so they deserve what they have – while seeing those who didn’t make it as having failed due to lack of grit and merit.

“The myth of meritocracy turns out to be deeply anti-meritocratic,” says Richard Reeves, author of Dream Hoarders, a new book that suggests that it’s not only the 1% who need to take a look in the mirror when complaining about inequality – more like the top 20%.

“It’s something of vicious circle,” he says, describing how rising inequality increases physical and geographical segregation by class, which then reduces cross-class contact and decreases the ability to interact and empathize. Less empathy then fosters greater political polarization and justification of inequality, which in turn causes the cycle to repeat.

Cecilia Mo’s experience of the effects of inequality on education came during a stretch with Teach For America, a selective program that allows top university students to spend two years teaching in poor communities. It inspired her to study that organization, to learn whether close contact with people across class can change attitudes.

She figured that the elite students who wanted to join the program were already inclined to see structural disadvantages but found that, even for them, real experience deepened their commitment.

Intimate contact – such as the experience if teaching in the inner city, mentoring, other types of services that allow people to connect despite class difference – builds empathy. The more you engage with with people unlike you and learn about their lives and stories, the harder it is to see them as stereotypes or to dismiss their challenges as trivial.

While not everyone can participate in such intense service, the more we can recognize biases in ourselves, the less likely we will be to fall prey to them.

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