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May 30, 2007

Comments

A Non

Certainly, if you make $10, and then make $5, you have had a "higher % of increase" than if you made $100 and then another $5. So part I of the "explanation" fails to acknowledge this simple principle. The net income is still higher for the higher brackets.

Secondly, notice how this extra income is done -- working longer hours. In other words, overtime with no time to be with their family. Nice family values there, no? And they STILL are in the poverty line with the increases, and extra hard work.

Nice spin job by the article.

Tom Simon

Of course the net income for the higher brackets is higher. That's why they're called 'higher brackets'. There's no 'principle' to acknowledge. You have not discovered the Sinister Secret of Kapitalist AmeriKKKa. Move along.

Secondly, 'overtime with no time to be with their family'? I hardly think so. Read again, please:

In 1991, more than 30 percent of their income was from cash welfare payments; by 2005, it was 4 percent.

In other words, a large number of those people are spending more hours at work than their counterparts in 1991, because in 1991 they were not doing any paid work at all. Going from, say, zero hours a week to 40 does not constitute 'overtime with no time to be with their family'.

It is your assumption that they 'STILL are in the poverty line' — and it is obviously incorrect. If their income has increased by 35 percent, it stands to reason that most of them are better off than before. If all of them were below the figure set as the 'poverty line' in 1991, then obviously some of them — perhaps many of them — are above it now.

Of course you could arbitrarily decide that 20 percent of the population are poor, no matter how much money they have, but then all statistics would be meaningless. By that principle, if Beverly Hills were a country, 20 percent of the spoilt-rotten millionaires there would be 'poor' by definition. Worse yet, 80 percent of the people being slowly and deliberately starved to death by the madhouse regime of North Korea would be 'not poor'. If you want to accept the consequences of such nonsensical thinking, go right ahead; but I shall not keep you company on that road.

It is a common and stupid fallacy on the Left to assume that all income is relative: that it doesn't matter how much money you have in your pocket, only how many people are richer than yourself. Believe me, to poor people in the real world, it matters much more whether they have money for rent and groceries than whether they can keep up with the BMW-driving Joneses. I speak from personal experience.

To put this in the context of a Catholic blog, it takes away the condition of poverty, which it is at least possible to alleviate, and replaces it with the sin of covetousness, which can never be relieved by any change of external conditions.

So — The article is quite valid. Nice spin job by A Non.

bill912

People are trying to improve themselves economically by working! I am shocked! Shocked!

chris

The article may be "valid," but A Non's first point is also still valid. The higher percentage increase for the lowest quintile (20 per cent) reflects at least in part the fact that they were starting with less, so the percentage of increase is higher.

The highest quintile had the largest percentage increase, and since they started out with the most, that reflects a much larger gain over the same time period.

The article also leaves out an important fact: what percentages of the total income belonged to each quintile at the beginning and end of the 15 years. If the highest quintile had a larger percentage of the total income at the end of the period than at the beginning, then it's harder to argue that inequality is not increasing.

It's good to hear that those with the least are doing better. But it's not a reason to be satisfied.

bill912

Few people remain in the same quintile all their lives. I've been in the lowest, the highest, and the three in between. My father was raised in the hills of Kentucky during the Great Depression. He was so poor that he couldn't go to school some winters because he had no shoes. He made it out of poverty by hard work. He taught me his work ethic. He (and I) can echo the words of Gordon Lightfoot in his song "Sit Down Young Stranger": "I never had a dollar that I didn't earn with pride."

Hugo Chavez

The solution to poverty is to print more money and make inflation illegal.

counterpoint

"After all, income inequality in America is increasing, right? Wrong."

Wow, terrible math, Jimmy. An 80% increase on a family earning $20,000 increases their income to $36,000. A nice increase, and a very important one that should be congratulated especially at this income level. Much more food on the table here.

But, a 50% increase on a family earning $2,000,000 increases their income to $3,000,000. That is an increase in income disparity from $1,980,000 to $2,963,000 between the top fifth and lowest fifth - using these two values that fall in the respective tiers as models.

Perhaps more significantly, however, is the income disparity between the second and third tiers and the first tier. Seeing a 50% increase on a group that makes a substantial amount more than the next two levels who only increased by 20% very much signals an increase in income inequality in America. The top tier further distances themselves from the rest of the population. Nothing about the numbers presented distorts that reality.

I'll stand next to everyone celebrating the lowest fifth reducing drastically their dependence on welfare, but to deny that income inequality is on the rise in America can only result from failing to look at the numbers.

"It is a common and stupid fallacy on the Left to assume that all income is relative: that it doesn't matter how much money you have in your pocket, only how many people are richer than yourself."

You are actually incorrect here, Tom. It isn't a fallacy of the Left,it is a major aspect of Economics. Relative income is actually an important meter in understanding the distribution of wealth in a nation.

If you make $20,000 a year and the 80% of the population makes over $50,000 a year, you will be poor. If you make $80,000 a year and 80% of the population makes over $250,000 a year, you will be poor. Why? Because your money won't be worth as much. As income rises, the costs of goods rise. Relative income is very important in understanding the buying power of the income a particular family receives.

Celebrating a raw increase in the income of the lowest fifth is not justified unless it is understood in the context of the other tiers.

The rest of your statement is your opinion, but dismissing relative income is bad economics.

Chris

The anonymous poster at 7:21:35 AM gives himself away with the phrase "distribution of wealth". In America, we believe that wealth is earned, not distributed. Your economic position is a direct result of the decisions you have made in most cases (obviously excluded are medical issues, and other unexpected large expenses.) For example, I am pulling down about what a teacher in the state of GA makes per year. My skills set would allow me to probably earn twice that amount were I working in corporate America rather than in a nonprofit. But, we're doing okay, we're eating well, we're paying the bills, and we're managing to save a little because we are faithfully giving back and we're making lots of sacrifices on "luxury" items like cable TV and running the AC at 72 degrees. I've made a choice that what I am making is sufficient to live on and save on, and I get to spend more time with my family than if I were earning twice as much in a corporate job.

Paul H

This is along the same lines as a point that Thomas Sowell makes in his book "Basic Economics", which I read a couple of years ago after seeing Jimmy recommend it. Sowell points out that there is a misperception that "the poor" always stay poor. But in reality, if you divide people into five groups by income (e.g., lowest 1/5 of income earners, highest 1/5 of income earners, etc.), few people stay in the same quintile for their entire lives. Most people who are in the lowest quintile at one point in time will be in one of the higher quintiles at some other point in time.

Oh, and I love the comment by Hugo Chavez above. It's quite obvious that he has not read Sowell's book. :-)

broed

The fact that the lowest quintile is making such enormous gains is a critically good piece of news. The fact that the highest quintile made enormous gains is less critical.

But regarding the increase in the income of the rich: please keep in mind they don't eat the money. They invest most of it, which keeps the capital in the marketplace to borrow, to lend, to buy new equipment, to improve businesses, to hire people, to build things -- all very important to the economy.

I'm not a businessman, but it seems a strain to make this into bad news.

Pseudomodo

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.

For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, we did not eat any one's bread without paying, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you.

It was not because we have not that right, but to give you in our conduct an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, LET HIM NOT EAT. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work.

Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living. Brethren, do not be weary in well-doing. If any one refuses to obey what we say in this letter, note that man, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed.

Apostle Paul 2Thess 3:6-14

"Distribution of wealth" is economic/statistical terminology; I was not implying government allocation. I understand the misconception, however, as the Left typically hijacks this term to suggest a government regulated re-distribution of wealth - which, of course, is idiocy.

My point is that one can look at the distribution of monies across the population which allows us to create these somewhat significant five tiers of income.

Paul H reiterates a previously made point that we have income mobility in this country at a much greater degree than most others. This is one of the great things about a capitalist economy and representative government. One of the great things that is housed in ideals like liberty and freedom. As Chris states, we are afforded the opportunity to make choices in America and many of those choices come with somewhat predictable outcomes.

That said, I stand by my point that relative income remains an important factor, which is why teachers receive higher salaries in cities with more expensive standards of living. (i.e., it would be more difficult to live off a GA state teachers salary if you lived in Greenwich, Connecticut).

Income inequality is on the rise, as I have pointed out previously. Many make choices like Chris to accept a living standard more in compliance with their values. Others also do so, but perhaps their values lead them to higher income brackets. But that is not the issue, the health of an economy will suffer if a disparity between the richest and those in the middle class becomes more and more difficult to bridge. It hinders mobility between income brackets and that which we celebrate as a freedom in the United States will become more and more difficult.

counterpoint

Sorry, the last two anonymous statements were my own.

I one pointed out to a senior manager at work that if I worked his hours I would make more money than he did (Accounting for his grade as 'designated staff' (ie: no overtime pay) as opposed to mine (overtime pay at 1.5 to 2.0), and no bonuses)

bill912

I think "Hugo Chavez'" comment was made tongue-in-cheek.

Paul H

I think "Hugo Chavez'" comment was made tongue-in-cheek.

I know. I thought it was pretty funny. (If you were responding to me...)

M.Z. Forrest

20% in 14 years translates into a 1.4% IRR. Doing the calculation the way it was done depends in large part in how you measure inflation. For me and others, we view inflation as having been grossly understated over that time period. Also not mentioned was the impact of the minimum wage increase in '93.

If you want to measure progress of the poor in a society, the tradional measure is the GINI coefficient. Using the GINI coefficient one doesn't need to take into account inflation or even economic growth. In 1990 the GINI was .428 and in 2005 it was .469. This means our society was more inequal in 2005 than 1990. The GINI for 1970 for .394.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gini_coefficient

SDben5

Percentages lie. The middle class is dead.

Tim J.

"Celebrating a raw increase in the income of the lowest fifth is not justified unless it is understood in the context of the other tiers."

Nonsense. That's class politics, and has nothing to do with whether "the poor" are actually making real gains or not.

That can be measured much more reliably by indicators like housing, utilities, food, medical care, education, etc... the necessities of life. If a person has all those things, in what sense are they really poor, except as a matter of class politics?

I have what I need... I don't care HOW much Bill gates has. That is irrelevant. Some people are taller and better looking than me, too. Is that a problem?

Brian Day

Echoing Tim J.

What is the hangup on income inequality? Wealth is not a zero sum game. Someone becoming richer does not make me poorer.

As long as a worker is making a just wage (CCC 2434), what is the problem?

Dr. Eric

I don't care if Bill Gates is the richest man in the world or not, but I wouldn't mind if he paid for me to enter the seminary. ;-)

labrialumn

These things need to be calculated against the cost of living, and against the value of an ounce of gold.

Many are off welfare, because there no longer is any for single males, and for all it ends after a few months, even if you are not able to obtain employment (typically due to illegal immigrants taking the jobs Americans need)

There seems to be a tendency for policies of both parties to suppress the middle class and increase the lower class to create a proletariat not subject to laws regarding safety and other similar concerns.

This is reflected in the increased disparity.

That is a dangerous situation. Historically, such things lead either to civil strife or hundreds to thousands of years of terrible oppression.

I think we need to look at doing things which do not rob people of their property, though.

Exiling the illegals, establishing a 10-15% tariff across the board in order to encourage manufacturing in the US, to provide decent-paying blue collar jobs, ending day-trading and other forms of stock market speculation that are more akin to gambling than to investing in a company, hoping for dividends. Solidifying the dollar. These things, not government theft, are I think, more moral and ethical, and more likely to make real changes for the better - if, like me, you don't believe that the financial bottom line is the sumum bonum.

chris

Quoth broed: "I'm not a businessman, but it seems a strain to make this into bad news."

i don't know that most of us regard it as bad news. But we are aware of the strong possibility that the news is not quite as good as some would have you believe.

Juli

As another poster made the point, people bounce in and out of the quintiles. A university in MI (Ann Arbor?) did a longitudinal study years ago that confirmed it. It was over at least 20 years.

It found a small group permanently at the top, and one permanently at the bottom, but for the rest of us, we're telling the truth when we consider ourselves middle class. Most of us are, at least some of the time.

Juli

Another point to be made is income versus wealth. Someone who no longer collects a salary (or perhaps works part time for a small one, for something to do) may have a pot of gold in the stock market. Is it a good idea to leave that out of the debate? Perhaps in the narrow scope of the article, but I fear it allows people to draw incorrect conclusions if you don't consider the fact.

Tim J.

"I don't care if Bill Gates is the richest man in the world or not, but I wouldn't mind if he paid for me to enter the seminary..."

Heh. Good luck with that. I'd sure be happy to sell him some paintings!

counterpoint

PER TIM J. - That can be measured much more reliably by indicators like housing, utilities, food, medical care, education, etc... the necessities of life. If a person has all those things, in what sense are they really poor, except as a matter of class politics?"

Sure. But please consider the quality of medical care, housing, and education that is available to those in the lowest tier. 15% of children aren't covered by a health insurance policy, housing represents a larger portion of an American's income than ever before, and the disparity in quality of public school education from the poorer communities to those that are affluent hampers opportunity. These are the vehicles (education, health, opportunity) that allow for mobility within our society - for people to have the freedom to make their own choices on how they may live. So, I guess I disagree with you that the necessities are so well taken care of for the poor in this country.

And it is not class politics, which reaks of envy and greed - I'm not interested in playing one set against another. I'm not romaticizing the poor or villanizing the rich. I want equal opportunity (not equal outcomes) for everyone in this country.

But this thread has evolved beyond the question. The question that Jimmy posed was not whether the poor had an acceptable state of living. The question was whether the income gap was increasing in this country. As I and other posters have outlined, it is clear from the data in Jimmy's link and other indexes that the income inequality continues to increase.

JamesD

Seems to me that this is showing a decrease in income inequality. The poor are catching up to the middle class. Not that I think that equal income is all that valuable. I am hopefull that this trend increases with the increases in the min wage (a good thing IMO). I can't see it hurting them with the projected demands for labor.
One thing to take note of is that this is for "households with children", and does not include other households. I think these are the groups to be most interested in. However, this would seem to eliminate a substantial amount of the population and therfor may not be adequate in understanding the shanges in income equality.

Blackadder

One shouldn't confuse an increase in income inequality with an increase in poverty. If Bill Gates gets a million dollars richer and I get a thousand dollars richer there has been an increase in income inequality, but there hasn't been an increase in poverty. Both he and I are better off.

ami

The rich still got richer because the percentage of millions which is not really needed overwhelms a percentage of $16,000.

EEEEEK.

How do we explain the fact, found the the USCCB webpage that a million more people fall under the poverty line each year for the last many years?

Don't buy this.

M.Z. Forrest

From the econ standpoint, there are 3 possibilities in any economic trasaction.
1) The production cost is greater than what is saleable. (Implies production will decrease over time.)
2) The production cost is equal to what a good is saleable. (Implies production stability.)
3) The production cost is less than what a good is saleable. (Implies production will increase.)
Taking a bunch of shortcuts, economists are prefectly willing to stipulate than any one of these conditions may be present at a given and all these conditions are present in specific instances at a given time. Economics describes the general tendency of prices to approach circumstance #2.

If Bill gates has a $1 mil more dollars and I have $1K more dollars, it is a logical leap to say that condition #2 is present. Saying economics isn't a ZSG doesn't overcome this, because economics describes a central tendency, not a specific instance. For example, if a throw a ball in the air, the central tendency is for the ball to fall due to the law of gravity. At any given point, the ball may in fact be rising. Similarly, Bill Gates may indeed be getting richer, and I may be growing poorer.

Blackadder

M.Z. Forrest,

That's all well and good, but as a matter of fact production hasn't been decreasing in the U.S. in the last 10 years.

Dr. Eric

OK, so maybe Bill Gates won't pay for me to go to the Seminary, but what about Tom Monaghan? ;-)

David B.

Percentages lie. The middle class is dead.

Really? I didn't see the obit. in the paper.

Chris

"not really needed"

Ami, it's really dangerous to refer to any wealth held by anyone as "not really needed." It makes you sound like someone is the arbiter of what is needed an what is not. It's also classic class-envy speak - it makes you sound like Hillary Clinton. You need to note what was said earlier - high achievers don't eat their "extra" money, they invest it, which creates jobs for others. If some entity were to gather up all the "not really needed" excess money, and then redistributed it out to those who didn't have any excess money, then would that create jobs?

People made fun of Reagan's "trickle-down" economics concept, but it really holds true. That's why the economy in the US has been growing by leaps and bounds, and our unemployment rate is at nearly an all-time low, following the income tax cuts a few years ago - gov't takes less tax money from all of us, including a lot less from the "rich". Did the rich just sit on that money that they weren't handing to the gov't? No, they have invested it, which grows our economy, increases jobs, etc. Incidentally, it also increases tax revenues, which the left can't understand at all (they don't see how you can increase revenues without increase taxes.)

bill912

"It is a paradoxical truth that lowering tax rates increases tax revenues."--President John F. Kennedy, December 1962.

JamesD

So what is it that we want?

If it can be known that a policy will provide the largest income increase to every tier than any other policy, and at the same time will cause the largest increase in diference between the richest and everyone else or between each tier. All else being equal, would this not be the moral choice for the common good?

Esau

at the same time will cause the largest increase in diference between the richest and everyone else or between each tier.


JamesD,

I think Tim J. said it best here:

"I have what I need... I don't care HOW much Bill gates has. That is irrelevant. Some people are taller and better looking than me, too. Is that a problem?"

You don't see Tim J. living in a mansion, do you? But he doesn't seem to be complaining about the disparity between his income and that of the richest man in the world.

Are you telling me that everybody should have equal wealth?

Go form your Communist country then -- but from what I hear, it's an economic failure!

Even China can't help but take advantage of Capitalism -- although I fear their current intentions in heavily investing in American corporations, which speaks of an ominous Chinese take-over of Corporate America just waiting to happen.

If folks really want to earn BIG MONEY, they should rightly get off their asses and STOP COMPLAINING, for goodness sake!

I know poor people who did just that and became millionaires -- not by sitting on their asses and doing nothing about it, but by being proactive and doing something to resolve their predicament.

If your egalitarian solution is to force an equal-pay increase for each and every citizen, then I'll have no part in this tyranny.

People who work hard and capitalize on their talents deserve their dues and just deserts!

LarryD

"People who work hard and capitalize on their talents deserve their dues and just deserts!"

Personally, I prefer desserts to deserts, but to each their own! ;-)

LarryD

"People who work hard and capitalize on their talents deserve their dues and just deserts!"

Personally, I prefer desserts to deserts, but to each their own! ;-)

Esau

Personally, I prefer desserts to deserts, but to each their own! ;-)

Thanks for the correction there, LarryD!

yeah -- I think nobody wants a desert -- unless it's Vegas! j/k

;^)

M.Z. Forrest

I know poor people who did just that and became millionaires -- not by sitting on their asses and doing nothing about it, but by being proactive and doing something to resolve their predicament.

Let me get this right. You know people who came from lowest 5th in income strata (under $16,500) with children who later were earning over $175,000/year (top income strata). (I'll ignore $1mil per year) You are being silly.

Esau

Let me get this right. You know people who came from lowest 5th in income strata (under $16,500) with children who later were earning over $175,000/year (top income strata). (I'll ignore $1mil per year) You are being silly.

Oh, like that didn't happen in the past???

You haven't read the biographies of Captains of Industry in America who did just that even!

Those who've accomplished that today are merely following in the footsteps of those in the past who had the huegos to do just that!

Oh, by the way, thanks for practically calling me a liar, M.Z..

But, yes, I do know folks who have --

Dr. Eric

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JamesD

Esau,

Wow. I may not be the best writer but I am still surprised you took it the way you did.

I think we are in agreement. My point was that the change in difference between tiers is irrelevent And the simplistic example I tried to propose would make it clear that egalitarianism is not the common good.
We would want to choose this policy because it is THE MOST beneficial to the lowest even though it causes the richest to get richer even faster.

Jim

Esau

JamedD:

My bad.

I was multi-tasking between things and quickly read your post, thinking you were promoting that egalitarianism that often puts such a bad taste in my mouth, as you can see here by my response to it.

Dr Eric:

Yeah, like really!

It still amazes me that people buy in to those infomercials!

If it's not those two midgets (excuse me, little people), it's that Vietnamese guy.

I hear that Donald Trump is now actually getting into the act.

In fact, just the other day, I heard on a respectable CBS news radio station that he's even offering a free tape if you're one of the first callers (or something like that) to go for a seminar he's holding.

Dr. Eric

Esau,

The trick is in the testimonials.

The 2% that actually do make a profit are paraded around as if anyone and everyone can make a million by buying the stuff and using it. Unfortunately, most who buy the stuff won't use it and it may or may not work.

anonthistime

I am intimately acquainted with a very nice, handsome, and smart Catholic fellow who was married with children earning, and living off, $7-11K per year in the early 1980s. That fellow -- did I mention he is very handsome? -- is earning about $1MM per annum today. And that fellow knows quite a few gents similarly situated. I doubt most American high income earners were born into high income families. Economic and social mobility in the US is the highest in world history. Western Europe is another story altogether.

Esau

I am intimately acquainted with a very nice, handsome, and smart Catholic fellow who was married with children earning, and living off, $7-11K per year in the early 1980s. That fellow -- did I mention he is very handsome? -- is earning about $1MM per annum today. And that fellow knows quite a few gents similarly situated. I doubt most American high income earners were born into high income families. Economic and social mobility in the US is the highest in world history.


Thank you, Mike Petrik!

Although I don't think your fellow being handsome have much to do with it.

I know some of the ugliest buggers in the world and they were able to become equally rich.

In a nutshell, if one really has steel determination to make something of him/herself, it doesn't matter the poverty they come from, they can still rise to the top!

There are those who lived in slums who became entrepreneurial millionaires even.

Dr. Eric

Mike,

Would your friend/s be interested in funding my seminary training?

Mary

Relative income is actually an important meter in understanding the distribution of wealth in a nation.

We're talking about poverty, not distribution of wealth.

Mary

Let me get this right. You know people who came from lowest 5th in income strata (under $16,500) with children who later were earning over $175,000/year (top income strata). (I'll ignore $1mil per year) You are being silly.

Don't be silly.

Lots of people in this country know graduate students and people who have started businesses. Both can be quite poor (while in school or starting the biz) and see a great jump in their income very quickly.

Mike Petrik

Dr. Eric,
Hmmm. Poor attempt at anonymity apparently.
Indeed, please be assured that he already is.
And don't give up on a call from the Lord!

M.Z. Forrest

I'm glad so many not only know so many in the top 20%, but people who rose from the bottom 20% to the top 20%. It's an everyday occurence. Someone should have told me that I was posting to readers from the Upper East Side of Lake Woebegon.

Esau

M.Z. Forrest,

I believe your original remarks went:

Let me get this right. You know people who came from lowest 5th in income strata (under $16,500) with children who later were earning over $175,000/year (top income strata). (I'll ignore $1mil per year) You are being silly.


Both Mike Petrik and even Mary have personal experience as well.

Yet, I don't believe anyone of us here claimed it's an everyday occurence but that it DOES occur and IS possible!

Just what silver-spoon background did you come from exactly that you don't know similar folks?

I know folks who lived in slums, who came from third-world countries with their wife and children, earned meager pay and then became entrepreneurs and now live in great affluence.

Also, something similar to what Mary mentioned, even in academia, there have been people I had the pleasure of meeting, who came from poor families (which I can relate) and the way they got to where they are now was only through a lot of hard work and sacrifice.

While the "rich kids" complained about trivial things like their dada and mama giving them a Mercedes instead of a BMR, these people were doing as many as 25 or more units a quarter while at the same time holding a full time job, memorizing bus schedules, collecting bus transfers, all the while maintaining the grades and a paycheck.

Mind you, these are sons and daughters of janitors, fast food cooks, cherry pickers -- you know, your typical "low-lifes" (at least, this is the opinion of some who look down on such people); yet, these people made something of their lives and never took their family and where they came from for granted.

Of course, they now fear that the kids they may one day raise will become the spoiled brats they had encountered in school, but I guess that's life though when the parents try to provide for their kids things the parents didn't actually have the luxury of having when they were growing up.

In this way, rich people and those who become rich are alike in that they only want what's best for their children.

A Non

"The 2% that actually do make a profit are paraded around as if anyone and everyone can make a million by buying the stuff and using it."

This is also true with the scam known as "capitalistic society." The people who "make it big" are paraded around showing "see, it is possible," but then those who do not (no matter how hard they work) are ignored and told "You just don't try hard enough."

Esau

...those who do not (no matter how hard they work) are ignored and told "You just don't try hard enough."


A Non,

Perhaps that may very well be true.

These folks may not be trying hard enough at all.

They're probably your typical Americans sucked into complacency, merely "thinking" they're working hard.

For example, some Americans go to work 9 to 5 every day of the week and call that working hard.
But if their goal is to become wealthy, are they trying hard enough to achieve just that?

The folks I know who became successful and affluent held full time jobs, went to school at the same time, planned out what they wanted to accomplish, conceived and carried out every possible action to achieve just that.

In other words, they didn't sit on their asses complaining "I'm working hard and getting nowhere", wondering why they're not rich.

Also, mind you, these folks came from impoverished families, but, in the end, they achieved the American dream by taking advantage of every opportunity, if not, making every opportunity possible by attending schools and networking.

Some started their own businesses (there were a few who even took advantage of the dot com boom back then and raked in the dough that way) and others who became wealthy through wise investment strategies (e.g., Qualcomm), while still others who in the end took up well-paid careers (e.g., investment banking) that offered them handsome salaries and signing bonuses.

This is what's meant by "trying hard".

"Trying hard" does not mean sitting on your ass, complaining why you're not rich and doing nothing about it.

If what you're presently doing is not producing the desired results (i.e., "getting rich"), then plan and carry out other contingencies. I mean, it's simply insane to do the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. That simply is NOT "Trying Hard".

"Trying hard" means trying to do all you can to make every opportunity possible.

Blackadder

"The U.S. Treasury found that 85.8 percent of tax filers in the bottom income quintile in 1979 had moved on to a higher quintile by 1988 — 66 percent to second and third quintiles and 15 percent to the top quintile."

http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/williams010406.asp

If 15% of people in the bottom income quintile have moved into the top quintile ten years later, it's not surprising that Esau might know some of them.

Esau

Thanks Blackadder for the article!

Duane

"Trying hard" means trying to do all you can to make every opportunity possible.

Opportunities are like gold mines. Some strike it rich with little work, while many do lots of work and gain little.

JamesD

"The U.S. Treasury found that 85.8 percent of tax filers in the bottom income quintile in 1979 had moved on to a higher quintile by 1988 — 66 percent to second and third quintiles and 15 percent to the top quintile."

I am one of those!
In 1979 I filed income taxes to get back the $15 or so that was witheld at my evening job when I was in high school. In 1988 I was making enogh that they were not taking SS out of my checks by years end.
But note: My family whom I lived with in 1979 was in the top quintile.

LarryD

Hey, JK Rowling was penniless until she wrote "Harry Potter" and now she's probably the richest person in the UK - so it's possible to become wealthy without working hard, too. I'm not holding her up as a role model or anything, only as an example that it's possible to improve one's life by applying oneself, and either reaping the rewards of hard work, striking it rich through opportunity, and/or being in the right place at the right time with the right idea.

Esau

...it's possible to improve one's life by applying oneself, and either reaping the rewards of hard work, striking it rich through opportunity, and/or being in the right place at the right time with the right idea.


LarryD:

So true!


Hey, JK Rowling was penniless until she wrote "Harry Potter" and now she's probably the richest person in the UK - so it's possible to become wealthy without working hard, too.

Now, if only that happened to me! ;^)

LarryD

Esau - problem with me is, I work too hard at not working too hard :-)

And the pay isn't that great, either.

labrialumn

I thought that the Roman Catholic Church held to a theology of the Cross, not a theology of glory, Esau.


Larry, what makes you think that J. K. Rowling didn't work hard?

Esau

I thought that the Roman Catholic Church held to a theology of the Cross, not a theology of glory, Esau.


labrialumn:

14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world. (Gal 6:14)

Cajun Nick

Touching on the commment by LarryD and subsequent question by labrialumn:

Happy Catholic recently posted this little gem concerning Harry Potter and Star Wars.

Esau

Cajun Nick,

Thanks for that!

You can actually do the same between Dune and Star Wars as well!

Nothing's original these days, unfortunately.

It's all recycled.

Esau

Cajun Nick,

If you don't believe me about Dune and Star Wars, here's a site I just ran into that practically summarizes my suspicions:

Star Wars Origins


Cajun Nick

Nothing under the sun is new, neither is any man able to say: Behold this is new: for it hath already gone before in the ages that were before us. (Ecclesiastes 1:10)

As for Dune, I've never gotten around to reading that book, but I've heard that it's pretty good. I once looked at it when I was much younger, just after the 1980s feature film came out, but decided against it when I saw a glossary(!) at the end of the book. Maybe I'll take another look at it after I finish Pope Benedict's Jesus of Nazareth (if my local library gets around to ordering a copy).

Cajun Nick

Esau,

We cross-posted; when I checked back, I saw the Star Wars Origins link.

Thanks very much for posting it. Those similarities are toooo much. Lucas really should have mentioned a "Thank You" to Herbert, among others.

I'm going to have fun poking around that website for a while.

LarryD

"Larry, what makes you think that J. K. Rowling didn't work hard?"

You're right - a quick assumption on my part. I was trying to show support of one of Esau's previous posts that while there are those who have started with nothing and worked through trials and overcame obstacles and "worked their fingers to the bone" - the Horatio Alger-esque way, in other words - there are still others who have become wealthy by 'apparently' easier methods. Just a different type of hard work. Writing best selling novels is not easy. I used Rowling as an example because she just came to mind. I'm not jealous or envious, mind you - more power to her. We're fortunate to be living in a society where it's still possible to improve one's lot and still get to keep some, and sometimes most, of what is earned.

anonymous two

I just went to my file cabinet and checked our income taxes, and sure enough, we fit into this category - last year our business cleared almost $250,000. When we got married my husband was doing whatever work he could find, from selling health club memberships to hourly landscaping, and I was a part-time "gypsy" college teacher making no more than $4,000 a year (my best year). During that time we raised three children, none of whom needed loans for college.

We had no family money (hardly any family!) and out ourselves through college and grad school. It CAN be done.

Esau

We had no family money (hardly any family!) and out ourselves through college and grad school. It CAN be done.


anonymous two,

Congratulations on such a tremendous success!!!

Hope you and yours continue to reap such blessings!

Jarnor23

And then there are those who bust their butts at 40 hour a week jobs that pay crappy, just so they can still see their kids, instead of trying to work two minimum wage jobs to "work hard and get ahead like they should". Which they'll have to rely on NFP to have less of because they can't afford them unlike the rich people with a 40 room mansion that have 1 or 2 kids tops.

Wow, our society is fair, awesome, and totally rewards hard workers instead of lucky schmucks who got a break or were born into blue blood.

anonymous two

Wow, our society is fair, awesome, and totally rewards hard workers instead of lucky schmucks who got a break or were born into blue blood.

Well, as I posted two posts above you, we put ourselves through college and did it without being blue-bloods (my family were immigrants, my husband's were dirt poor). It is not necessarily about worker harder, but worker smarter - that is, making the decisions that will lead somewhere.... I am not a "prosperity theology" person - I don't believe for a minute that God "wants us rich" above all else - but I will say that you have to get rid of the anger and envy first and be gratefulfor what you have before you can move forward. Your post was very bitter. May God bless you and your family.

Jarnor23

I think people in this country who cannot even afford to finish college because they cannot pay day care for their kid (and NO, the government will not help) have a right to be a bit miffed. I think some of you are confusing capitalism and the "American Dream" with Catholic belief.

Good for some of you that you're fabulously rich through your hard work. Many aren't.

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