Friday, July 15, 2011

Sad Stampede

This is what we've come to. This is our 'recovery'. There are so many people wanting to sign up for Section 8 housing assistance in Dallas, that they stampede in an effort to get into line to fill out a form.

Well, it was 'the Jesse Owens Memorial Complex' they were trying to get to.

The obvious reaction is to wonder if there was this kind of race to fill out job applications anywhere in Dallas. But then, this bullshit recover has been a jobless wonder, so I have to doubt it. I find it sad on so many counts. Sad that so many people in just that one area are in need. Sad for the injuries the ill-managed event resulted in. Sad for the desperation of it all.

And yeah- I'll make it political. Is all the public spending saving these people? No doubt, to some, it's proof we haven't spent enough. For me, it's proof that people aren't being equipped for self-sufficiency. Blame schools, blame parents, blame the individuals themselves- but that kind of mad rush to fill out a form for assistance looks like the kind of thing we might have seen on a news report of the third world, say 10-15 years ago.


Doug said...

We're at least drifting (if not rushing) to third world status.

Keep a look out for gated enclaves, protected by armed guards, keeping out the impoverished masses; with little-to-no middle class anywhere in sight.

So, is the problem (ha! "the" problem - as if there is only one) a moral failure on the part of the poor, or a structural failure on the part of the society?

The moral failure angle suggests that we're falling apart because the masses are lazy and stupid.

The structural failure suggests that the wealthy are sucking all of the oxygen out of the economy, leaving little opportunity and/or incentive for the lower classes to work. (Sort of a flip side to this, I suppose, would be the notion that; regardless of upside incentive, if we just make the threat of homelessness and starvation severe enough, the lazy sods will get to work.)

Todd S. said...

Doug, I'm not sure that the two options are mutually exclusive. Maybe part of it is the immorality of "the rich" providing 99 weeks of unemployment benefits.

Mike Kole said...

Doug, that's about as thought provoking a response I've ever gotten. I literally thought of a dozen things to say.

I'm not sure I buy either of the angles you offer here. I've lived in some pretty poor neighborhoods in my life, been pretty poor too- hence my being there. But even in my current middle class bliss, I recognize that I don't make all the money I could, and I don't save all I could (or even should). These are choices. I know that anytime I want to change those things, I can work more, and spend less, or work more and spend the same, or work the same and spend less. I don't consistently make either of those three choices, and I think that's true of most people. We value a lot of other things over work and accumulation of wealth- but we tend to crab about our station in life, regardless or where we are, and we tend to see 'rich people' lurking somewhere out there, when maybe to some extend we are 'the rich', being that these are relative terms in experience, even if the tax code specifies the terms more clearly with brackets. Lazy? I'll give the 5,000 or so in Dallas this: They learned of something they wanted and put themselves in position to receive. They arrived early. They did not walk. Maybe, just like me, they could do well to apply this methodology more frequently.

As to the wealthy sucking the oxygen? I don't buy that for a minute. That's one angle that is well overplayed, in my opinion. Far as I can tell, my station in life has nothing to do with what any exploiting capitalist does, and everything to do with how much I work, and doing what. Bill Gates could be the billionaire he is, or penniless, and I'm still going to be right where I am, just like all these folks in Dallas.

In the post, I said that people are ill-equipped. A large part of what I think of in this term is the decision-making people use. For me? I'm pleased enough with the underwork. Certainly, my wife LOVES that I cook & clean more when not working more. But as to my spending habits? I long ago decided that I would do regular travel with the family, whether I had a surplus or not. I just value it that highly. So, sometimes I ring up some debt in so doing. I'm not following the advice the financial planners recommend, but I'm good with it. It's a conscious choice. But a lot of people make unconscious decisions, and that's a symptom, imo, of being ill-equipped for life.

So, where is the failure, and why is it sad? Maybe it's moral. I find poverty to be avoidable. Absolutely, anybody can run into bad luck, or be injured, but the vast majority can reverse course via their decision-making. Like I said, I was poor. Made some bad decisions, ended up with nothing. I got determined to straighten my financial world out, and did. I don't think I'm that special. It was just a priority. Then I got to a level of comfort, and worked less, enjoyed more leisure, etc.

And I think this explains a lot of Americans: Their level of comfortable living is a place your or I wouldn't accept for long. So, it's sad. Maybe instead of your threat of homelessness and starvation, it would be adequate to just remove the TV, internet connection, and heat.