Monday, January 08, 2007

All Generalities Are False

"Political ideology can corrupt the mind, and science." ~ Edward O. Wilson

I was reading over a couple of posts and the comments on them from a leftie blog this morning and I was struck by the amount of accusations that indicate Conservatives and Liberals are defined by how they view the monetary assets or lack of them in people.

One of the most important factors, although not all of the most important factors, in determining ones political ideology kept popping up in the form of how we all view the wealthy and the poor and how we all propose to solve the problems caused by the gulf between the two.

Here are the two differences as I perceive them:

Conservatives stress personal responsibility to solve the problem of poverty, and Liberals stress the importance of the Governments responsibility to solve it.

On top of this is how the two ideologies attack one another for supporting one class over the other.

Wealthy people are demonized by the left because, apparently, they have money. They are seen as greedy and selfish, with a blatant disregard for poor people. Charity, if the Liberal commenters are to be believed, is not one of the wealthy class's qualities. They are like the ruling castes in India who consider it Godly to let the poor die in their poverty because that is their Karma. Supposedly, they will never think of helping a poor person to overcome their plight, ostensibly because if they did, the poor might well rise above them and crush them in some shrewd hostile takeover or something.

That seems to generally be how the wealthy are perceived by the Liberal ideology as far as I can see.

On the other hand, Poor people are generally seen by Conservatives, as lazy, ambitionless people with no desire to rise above their situation and an overwhelming need to lean wholly on the Government for their sustenance. They are to be detested, as they obviously don't want to take responsibility for themselves. They want the taxpayers to take care of them without expectation of paying anyone back.

That is the perception I get from reading what Conservatives often say.

As my father used to say, "All generalities are false, including the statement that all generalities are false."

I'll let the Philosophers try to figure that one out.

The fact is neither ideology is absolutely correct or absolutely wrong. There are those extreme examples in both the wealthy and the poor.

I am not wealthy, and never have been. Yet I don't expect the Government to take care of me. I don't want it to. I want to take responsibility for myself. I expect no hand outs nor would I accept them if they are offered. At least not without the expectation from my benefactors that I will eventually pay them back.

I will not bend this stubborn pride of mine to accept such a kindness. But that's me. And there are many just like myself that would find it demeaning to accept government help.

I know there are many people living below the poverty line that place no such restrictions on themselves and will accept, gladly, whatever handouts that are offered to them, even to the point of taking advantage of such kindness by cheating and lying to procure them.

These people are known as welfare cheats and they are legion. But not all poor people are welfare cheats.

Many poor people are Liberals but some are Conservatives.

On the other hand, I have known wealthy people who are exactly what the Liberals seem to believe are the rule, rather than the exception. They are greedy. They are selfish. They care nothing about the poor. They have the attitude that all a poor person has to do to alleviate his situation is "get a job".

Poor people often resent the success of wealthy people regardless of whether the wealthy person in question is a good person or not. That is a classic example of class envy.

Somehow, because one is wealthy, they are evil.

That is, of course, not true. There are many evil wealthy people, but there are many evil poor people as well. Some are Liberals.

Additionally, I have known many wealthy people in my lifetime that are generous and kind, and (blanch) Conservative.

All generalities concerning wealth and poverty are false.

Incidentally, the perception among many wealthy people that all a poor person has to do is to get a job is not because they are evil, or greedy, or selfish. It is because they have truly never been poor, and so, have no frame of reference. No matter how much personal contact they have with poor people, the solution is usually that simplistic to one who was never in that situation, or have and forgotten where they come from.

The fact is, they simply don't understand.

Just as I cannot understand how people like Bill Gates and other multi-billionaires never seem to be contented with their vast fortunes. They just continue to make deals and do more research and hire consultants so they can become richer and richer past all understanding.

I don't get it. I keep telling myself that if they were me, I'd stop gaining riches and any accidental increase in my earning more than I need would cheerfully be donated to the poor.

If the shoe was on the other foot, I'd likely think differently. Maybe. I don't know.

I think if we are honest with ourselves, Liberal and Conservative, we will have to concede that there are no absolutes, and not everyone fits into the stereotypical perceptions that define our singular ideologies.


rusty shakelford said...

I have had this same discussion with some co-workers and what astonished my was the class hatred among the liberals. Some important points I brought up was:

- with the exception of lawyers and politicians, the rich got rich without taking money from me.

- the government cannot protect people from making poor decisions. If you have to take care of kids without the help of a spouse, chances are you made a bad decision somewhere along the line. If your in your twenties and cant earn more than minimum wage then chances are it is due to some terrible decisions .

-no one has the right to make a decent living. The path is set out and the government should not be an obstacle, but in the end every individual has to do it themselves.

Jason H. Bowden said...

As the Chinese say, "to get rich is glorious."

One, capitalism creates wealth that didn't exist before. The pie isn't static, like socialists believe.

Secondly, to believe there is rampant poverty in the United States is downright retarded. I can back up this claim with hard data. For example, the poverty level in the United States is the median wage in advanced countries like Spain. 80% of those making minimum wage in the United States live in households that make 40K a year or more. Your average poor child today in America ends up growing an inch taller and ten pounds heavier than the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy. Nearly half of poor women in the United States are overweight. Expenditures for the average person in the lowest household income quintile in the United States equal that of the average household in the 1970s.

The idea that poverty is "staggering" in the United States is frankly retarded. If liberals care so much about it, and if the poor people are so easy to find, then go find one and write them a 1,000.00 check.

Writing a check to a poor woman is pretty difficult to do if you're standing on her patio seeing cars in front with pimped out rims, and glancing at the 300-lb kids inside. That's why liberals don't do this. In contrast, giving money to government bureaucrats can give liberals a big erotic grief-off without any reality to pour cold water on their messianic do-gooder delusions.

Marie's Two Cents said...

Well that brings up interesting statistics.

For instance, I saw I think it was on O'reilly where they put a "Salvation Army" Bell Ringer in front of a store during this last Christmas Season in San Fransico, and one in Kansas City, people walked right past the one in San Fran (Of course) but they donated to the one in Kansas City almost every time someone came out of the store.

I think it is a Liberal mindset that the "Government" in some way "owes" them something, yet alot of the rich in Hollyweird seem to think that also and the biggest donater is Oprah! (Even though I am not real pleased with Oprah at the moment) but that's another story.

But Bill Gates, as rich as he is turned around and donated one third of his net worth to Aids research!

I think the Republican mindset rich or poor or middleclass is "Give Back", and the Liberal mindset that has sunk in over time is "You owe me"

Quite a contrast!

Lone Ranger said...

Envy is the most useless and contemptable of all human emotions. Even hatred sometimes has its uses. Despising someone because they have more than you do seems not only irrational, but sinful. I've never been offered a job by a poor man. And no man can get rich without benefiting others.

Dan Trabue said...

Y'all have a pretty poor idea of liberals if you think there is envy involved in any way. The only envious folk I know of tend towards the conservative. I don't know of the first envious person who's described as liberal.

The liberal folk I know are either generally content or purposely downwardly mobile.

BB-Idaho said...

Your father is correct about the rule of generalizations, and you are correct about stereotyping: blogs of all stripes are guilty. You attempt to define liberal/conservative by the perception of each towards wealth and are on to something. I wonder
if it is 'empathy', or how we
identify with others. For example, earlier today, I heard
regarding the California governer's health insurance initiative, conservatives lamenting the loss of rights of
corporations and businesses and the liberals bemoaning the rights of individuals. But you are dead on when you note there are exceptions to generalizations....

Anonymous said...

Good post, Mark.

Wealthy people are demonized by the left because, apparently, they have money. They are seen as greedy and selfish, with a blatant disregard for poor people. Charity, if the Liberal commenters are to be believed, is not one of the wealthy class's qualities

I don't get this disparagement of the rich. Many of the rich folk, I know, are extremely generous. They do a lot of good. I don't begrudge them enjoying some luxuries, that they have earned.

In regards to your comment about Bill Gates and how much wealth is enough wealth for him...I hope he continues to grow wealthy. He's done more for society than Mother Teresa, in my opinion. And he's been generous in his giving to charity. If he were poor, he would not have much to give. If he gave most of his fortune away, he would have less to invest; less to grow. People like Bill Gates creates more wealth. He creates a bigger pie to be had by more people.

I find it interesting that Oprah Winfrey chose to donate toward South African children rather than American black children, recently.

Dan Trabue said...

"I don't get this disparagement of the rich."

It's been around for a while, starting with those original "liberal hippies," Jesus and the early church (and Jesus got it from his momma before him).

Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. ~Jesus

God has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. ~Mary

But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. ~Jesus

Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?...

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire.

~James (Jesus' brother)


mom2 said...

Y'all have a pretty poor idea of liberals if you think there is envy involved in any way. The only envious folk I know of tend towards the conservative. I don't know of the first envious person who's described as liberal.>

in any way.? Being a bit presumptuos?
The only envious folk I know of tend towards the conservative. Showing love? or being a little judgemental?
I am sure you would not be the later. :)

Dan Trabue said...

When I hear a conservative person saying, "Boy! wouldn't that be nice to have Gates money!" yes, I make the judgement that that person is envious.

I don't hear ANY of my so-called liberal friends making that sort of statement. And knowing them as I do, I know it's because we have no desire to be filthy rich. We recognize that we are already wealthy enough. As I've stated, most of us are trying to find ways to live on less, not ways to gain more.

Perhaps "conservatives" make the judgement that "liberals" are envious because they're assuming we think the same way that they do - that to get wealthy is the ultimate goal? Don't know, just a guess because you see it so often and it is so often wrong.

Francis Lynn said...

Here's a generality for ya: behind every fortune is a crime, behind every large fortune is a large crime.

Funny bout rich Hollywood type liberals - they seem to be the most niggeredly of any when it comes to the poor, yet they pontificate about the poor poor while they do their token advocating for them.

mom2 said...

Dan, speaking in generalities and unsubstantiated statements is just gossip. You need to be able to verify these kind of statements before throwing them around for the "gospel" truth. Otherwise, it is propaganda. It is a shame to mislead people. Not everyone is going to follow your lead, but you sure try. Have to give you credit for tenacity, but if you are wrong you will have to answer for those led astray.

Jason H. Bowden said...


How Nobel Prizes in economics did Jesus receive?

I would agree with your assessment that Jesus was a communist revolutionary. I would also add that he got exactly what he deserved from the Roman authorities.

Dan Trabue said...

Mom2 said:

"speaking in generalities and unsubstantiated statements is just gossip."


Folk have been speaking in generalities about "liberals" being envious of wealthy people or of being classist. I responded by saying that I don't see it in my world (which is populated by what you all consider "liberals"), but rather, the only place I ever hear that is from the mouths of those who consider themselves "conservative."

I haven't stated that all conservatives are greedy. I've not stated any generality. I've stated the fact that I've not seen it in my experience.

Understand the difference? And will you call your "conservative" pals on the carpet for speaking in generalities?

Dan Trabue said...

Jason said:
"I would agree with your assessment that Jesus was a communist revolutionary. I would also add that he got exactly what he deserved from the Roman authorities."

I did not say that Jesus was a communist revolutionary, at least in the sense of the phrase today. He is communalist - lived a shared life of shared goods, and he is a revolutionary - in that his teachings are revolutionary.

And those teachings were perceived as a threat to the powers that be in the Roman empire and religious leadership, so it was predictable that he was killed.

But what exactly is your point here and what does it have to do with the topic at hand?

mom2 said...

The only envious folk I know of tend towards the conservative. I don't know of the first envious person who's described as liberal.
I haven't stated that all conservatives are greedy. I've not stated any generality. I've stated the fact that I've not seen it in my experience.> from Dan's posts.

What in the world were you saying in the above then. You live in a cocoon, eh? Cute way to leave loop holes, it seems to me.

Dan Trabue said...

"What in the world were you saying in the above then."

Last time, mom2. The only envious people I know are conservativ-ish. That is not to say that ALL "conservatives" are greedy or envious. Why? Because I don't KNOW all conservatives. And even amongst the conservatives I know, not all are envious.

My point has been and remains that y'all don't know or understand liberals if you think that they're envious when they talk in negative terms about the rich. You don't think Isaiah was envious, do you? Mary? James? Jesus? They gave the wealthy hell, was it out of envy?

Do you think James the apostle was saying, "Is it not the rich who are exploiting you?" because - deep inside - he was really wanting their wealth?

The point is that the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil. The point is that excess wealth is a trap. A danger. An exploitation often (but not always). Can you understand that some people may think this way out of concern for the wealthy?

And since our nation is so wealthy, do you not understand that we may even be directing this towards ourselves who - even at $25,000 a year - are incredibly wealthy and privileged?

Mark said...

Well, Dan, It has been my experience that the ones who are the most envious are Liberal-ish. See? As I said, neither side is completey right or completely wrong.

But think on this: Where does the mantra, "tax the rich" come from? The right?

That Libearal idea stems from envy in my opinion. "I don't have it so we need to take it from those who do, to equal the playing field." Don't you think envy plays a part in that mindset?

Yes, many conservatives are envious, but don't try to argue that no Liberal is. That is just prepostorous and saying you don't know any that are is not believable.

Dan Trabue said...

I didn't say no liberal was. I said I don't know of any, and I know a lot of people you'd consider liberal.

Your post was correct. Generalities tend to be false. I was just addressing some generalities that were put forth in the comments section.

"Don't you think envy plays a part in that mindset?"

No. Not in the least. I know hundreds of perceived liberals and not a one wants to tax the rich out of envy. Not to say it doesn't exist (an envious liberal), just that in my experience it is not only not the norm, it is virtually non-existent.

People who think the rich ought to be taxed usually think so out of justice: To those who've received much, much will be expected. As Jesus pointed out, the poor widow who gives penny was giving exponentially WAYYYY more than the wealthy man who gives a million dollars.

At ~$25,000/year, I think of myself as wealthy and would definitely want to give a larger percentage than a person at ~$12,000.

Isn't this true for you, as well? Do you really want the person poorer than you to pay an equal percentage?

I doubt it, I think you're a better person than that.

Envy is nowhere in the equation. It's not thought about, doesn't cross my mind. It's a matter of justice. Fairness.

Dan Trabue said...

"but don't try to argue that no Liberal is. That is just prepostorous and saying you don't know any that are is not believable."

Well, perhaps I hang around a nobler stock of "liberals" than you do. Yeah, the "liberals" that I know are indeed not envious, whether you believe it or not - or at least not openly so.

As I believe I've already stated, most of the folk I hang around are looking to simplify their lives (living with less, requiring less of everything including money). We're joyfully downwardly mobile in intention, not upwardly mobile.

Now, we do envy the folk who have been more successful at simplifying their lives and we yearn for that simpler life ourselves. In that regards we are envious and jealous. But we weren't talking envy in general, but envy of the rich.

Virtually non-existent in my world, Mark. Believe it or not.

Perhaps you ought to come to my church sometime so you can meet folk who are honestly working to set aside that sort of materialism?

Mark said...

Do I really want a person poorer than me to pay an equal percentage of taxes as I do?

An equal percentage, yes. An equal amount, no.

Nor do I want a richer person to pay more of a percentage of taxes than I. The operative word in this is "Fair".

Dan Trabue said...

"The operative word in this is "Fair"."

Actually, the operative word is "Equal," but then, equal is not always the same as fair.

If a person is making $10,000/annually and paying 10% in taxes, he is left with $9000. If he was going to have a difficult time making it on $10,000 - he is going to be extremely hardpressed to make it on $9000.

If a person is making $100,000 a year, his 10% tax will leave him with $90,000 - on which he can presumably survive.

Equal treatment may not (often IS not) Fair treatment.

Do you disagree with the words of the Bible: To whom much is given, much is expected?

Regardless if you do, I'm confident that a majority in our country believes in the notion of progressive taxation and rejects as regressive "equal" taxation.

Dan Trabue said...

re: Fair vs Equal

Looking at it another way: Suppose we had a reading contest. To be equal, no extra devices would be allowed to un"fairly" help someone. So, we don't allow any glasses to be allowed.

If some people wore glasses and others didn't, it wouldn't be equal, right?

We must not allow Equal to become the enemy of Fair.

mom2 said...

Dan, You have commented on your site about your wife and her work. In our town, those working in that field are some of the best paid in town. You are implying that you live on $25,000. I don't believe it.
I have also read about your vacation trips and "mission" trips. Those cost money. It is ridiculous to portray ourselves poor, when in this country, people on welfare are so many times better off than those in other countries.

Dan Trabue said...

That's the ballpark of what I make, mom2. I'm not going to speak for my wife, as I don't think that's appropriate. I will say that I don't know where you live, but in our community, social workers make in the $15k - 75k range typically.

Let me know where you live that social workers make such high salaries and I'll send some of my friends that way.

Not that they'd go. As I've said, it's not about the money.

As to the mission trip, when I or my church members have done that, we've raised money to do so. We can't generally afford to go on overseas trips.

As to my vacations: You seem to be implying that I'm some jet-setter. We drive over to one of the state parks or the Smokeys for our vacations generally, and stay at a Super8 or some such hotel or camp out sometimes (not as much as I'd like). So I'm not sure what you're implying or why. Envy? Are you determined to try to give me grief for some reason? It's not working, if that's your goal.

And what does that have to do with the topic at hand: Making generalizations about liberals, cons and the wealthy?

Who's portraying themselves as poor? I have already repeatedly said that I AM wealthy. Even at $25ish. And certainly at more.

mom2 said...

I am only calling your hand at implying you live in the 25,000ish. That is false, unless your wife does not use her money and piles it up in the bank. I am not rich or poor and I envy no one. What do I need with lots of money when I don't plan to take it with me.

Marshall Art said...

I have no problem with those who seek to live simpler lives on smaller incomes. That is their choice. But smaller incomes do not accomodate catastrophic injuries or illnesses very well. What then? It's not a matter of simply living simply. One must work to ensure one isn't a burden on others. That's not to say that should the unexpected occur, one can't call upon others for assistance, but to live in a manner that exposes one to the unexpected with no hope of self-sufficiency is not responsible. I hope your goals take this into account.

As to generalities, I believe speaking in generalities is appropriate in debate. There are far too many variations in society to debate in any other way. As long that it is accepted that the discussion is based on generalities, more can be accomplished for more people by proceeding in this way. Often, a point is made and a responder will mention his own situation to refute the argument. Then, it will have to be mentioned that the original speaker was speaking in generalities and his point is still valid, the responder notwithstanding. Quite common on the blogs.

mom2 said...

As to generalities, I believe speaking in generalities is appropriate in debate.>

The problem with Dan and liberals is that they use generalities to make implications about people that they have no way of knowing whether what they imply is true or not and it is just another propaganda method.