Poor is ethical?

So my friend Jim asked me to look at this article, 5 Ways the Poor Are More Ethical Than the Rich. So, here goes.

Obviously, this is a loaded subject. The “vanishing” middle class, the percentage of wealth owned by the percentage of wealthy people, the cost of education, crime and punishment, at the cornerstone of all these debates is financial inequity. According to Sociology Professor G. William Domhoff at University of California at Santa Cruz:

In terms of types of financial wealth, the top one percent of households have 35% of all privately held stock, 64.4% of financial securities, and62.4% of business equity. The top ten percent have 81% to 94% of stocks, bonds, trust funds, and business equity, and almost 80% of non-home real estate.

So can we approach these contentious subjects using logic? Of course.

But of course, where you start and how you look at it is going to determine, to a large extent, where we end up. Because, usually, logically, both sides of any contentious issue are going to be wrong.

So let’s look at one side of it. Is it true that, as “many wealthy Americans believe,” “dysfunctional behavior causes poverty”? Well, first, we have to define what “dysfunctional behavior” is. If dysfunctional behavior is defined as borrowing money that you can’t pay back, then many wealthy Americans would be right. Because borrowing money that you can’t pay back is stealing. And stealing is the cause of not having what you need.

If, however, we define dysfunctional behavior as lacking “good character and a strict work ethic” then you’d be half right. As I discuss in my book, hard work is not the cause for financial success. But what do we mean by “good character”? If that means not stealing, then as above. If that means not lying, then maybe here you have a debate. Because, technically speaking, there is no connection between lying and making money.

Consider money,
I will make it,
Because I lie/tell the truth.

Are either of these two syllogisms true? No, both will fail. Why? Because you know people who have told the truth and made money, and you also know people who have lied and made money. So either syllogism will fail tests #2 and #3.

Which is I guess what bothers me about this whole article. I love the conclusion (more on that later), but people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. If you don’t want to see poor people homogenized and stereotyped, then what would be your correct response? Don’t homogenize or stereotype wealthy people. The article starts off with “many wealthy Americans” and then gives their views as if they were all the same. Really? Warren Buffet believes that all poor people lack character and a strict work ethic? Bill Gates thinks the poor don’t care about each other? But I can tell you where stereotyping those you don’t like will get you; you will just see more people stereotyping you.

Consider stereotyping those I don’t like,
I will see more of them,
Because the third result of a mental seed is I will see that thing in my environment.

So how do we fix the wealth inequity in this country? By bashing rich people? Did you honestly think that would ever work? I just wrote about motivating others recently; changing attitudes is not a successful strategy for change. What is? Changing ourselves.

I’m also interested in how the article starts off berating the wealthy and idolizing the poor, but then point #5 is about the “vanishing” middle class and students burdened by college debt. What were we talking about here?

Then we get this whammy: “Lower-income Americans serve our food, care for our sick, and clean up after us, with minimal benefits and few complaints.” My brother is a nurse; he beat my income last year by triple digits. Talk about myths; the average garbage collector, if they work overtime, can make $60k a year. I’m in the wrong business. And few complaints? Hahahahaha. Maybe some of them, but all of them? Does this author even know any poor people?

I’m not saying the sentiment here isn’t correct; of course I agree that we should not judge people in poverty, but should instead look for ways to help them–like, for example, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. But I don’t see how gross generalization, either way, is going to help anything. If I want to approach the subject logically, I should stop trying to blame others and look for a solution myself.

Consider poverty,
I will eradicate it,
Because the third result of giving is that I will see a change in my world.

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