Thursday, October 16, 2008

Spreading the wealth.

The best way we can help poor people - is by realising they have poor impulse control. Not by spreading the wealth.

You see I have a unique perspective on this. Mr S. and I both grew up poor. Although, I was poorer. This will make Mr S. laugh when he reads this post, because we always compete about who grew up more disadvantaged.

At any rate...I clearly was more poor. Welfare poor. Slept in a dresser drawer as a baby, poor. Rich kids had cribs.

My family is still poor. It isn't because they've never gotten a leg up. They have. My Aunt and Uncle for example won the California lottery. Not once, but twice. Not a million dollars. But, a nice sum of money. A sum that could have made a difference in their future. They could have bought a house, and invested in their future. They didn't. They blew the money on things they couldn't even use. Even spending a great sum on lottery tickets. In the thought they could win again. Even though the odds are clearly against it. Choosing chance, over future investment. Do you know what that is called? Poor impulse control!

It is this sort of lack of impulse control I see over and over in poor people. They choose short term goals over long term goals. Every single time. Now I'm suppose to feel sorry for these people? Why?

It just makes me so mad. I came to the conclusion a long time ago that I could give every single dime I made to my family, and they would still be poor. It is just the way it is. And... it.. sucks.. I really do want to help them.

There is a mindset in this country that you can spend as much as you want, and then claim bankruptcy. It isn't easy to admit, but my family has done it several times. They know they will get new credit cards almost immediately. They are poor after all. How else are they going to get stuff?

Take another example. When Mr S. and I bought our house. We were signing the papers and the loan officer was shocked we only had two credit cards. The only reason this came up was because they give you two full length sheets to list your credit cards. Two full pages people! I'd made a comment about them printing out too many sheets. The gal came back and said "most people fill out both sheets". I told her I was sure she was putting me on. I figured "some" people did, but not most. In a matter of a fact fashion she shot back " no- most people fill out two pages of credit card debt". Which completely shocked me and shut me up.

No one is going to tell me that people have that much credit card debt, and expect to pay it off. They know they have a trump card of being able to claim bankruptcy. These are the people "spreading the wealth" will go to. And it sucks!

This isn't to say some people don't have to work much harder than others to get to the same place. They do. Life isn't fair. Your parents should have told you this when you were five. But, do we have to make it more not fair for those who have worked past any disadvantage by handing money to people not willing to work for it?

This just isn't what America is about. It isn't why people immigrate here. They think if they work hard - no matter what their background, they too can become more wealthy. Not be forced to hand that hard work over to others who aren't willing to be as devoted.

I'm sure people have a ton of family members like I do, who are willing to be receivers of distributed wealth. Let us give the money to them if we want to. Or not.


  1. Two full pages astounds me. One full page would kind of shock me too. When my man and I filled out our mortgage stuff, I think we had two between us. Cards not pages, like you. I guess not everyone pays attention in the required economics classes in high school.

    Thanks for the morning shock.

  2. Wowzer. Great post. You say very well and succinctly exactly what I feel. I'll have to link you so that the three people that read my blog, can also read yours!


  3. Given recent financial news, it doesn't seem that "poor impulse control" is confined to the poor. It takes quite the impulse to play with other people's money to the point that you're leveraged at 40 or 50 or 90 to 1.

    Or, as Chuck Prince of Citigroup did, explain your stupid decisions by saying everybody else was making them.

    Tom Paxton nailed it, 30 years ago, as we're reminded by good old Arlo:

    Yeah, I know, Lee did pay the money back -- though he tried not to. Already we're seeing that Government Sachs -- I mean, the Treasury Department -- hasn't necessarily thought all this stuff through.

    No one seemed to worry about that before releasing the first tsunami of cash to exemplars of capitalism.

    Any day now, John and Sarah will resurrect the bogeyman of "welfare queens," because you don't run into Wachovia board members, WaMu execs, or money-fund managers at the local Safeway. They have people for that.