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September 2019
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Aerden [userpic]
On Whether One Deserves Wealth or Poverty

I am going to stray into the waters of American politics, here, so if you would prefer to avoid a possible firestorm, please skip today's entry. I am likely to open my big mouth and say some controversial things, today. I'm not trying to offend, but there are some principles I believe in, and I believe they should be stated here honestly.

Democrat presidential candidate Howard Dean was quoted today in Rolling Stone Magazine as saying, "...Republicans believe that, if you are rich, you deserve it, and, if you are poor, you deserve it..."

I am doing my best to be objective about his statement and not quote him out of context. However, the quote I saw on Fox News was rather lengthy and began with the Dean opinion, "Republicans are meaner than Democrats..." In the interest of preserving the man's intellectual dignity, this is all that I will quote here. If that 'meaner' quote is indicative of his opinions of the readers of Rolling Stone, I pity them, because he must think they're all five year-olds, with no more ability to reason than a pea.

I should also state my biases here. I am not a card-carrying Republican, but I have since 1992 voted Republican in the presidential elections. My voting record otherwise is all over the map.

So--Do we deserve our wealth or poverty?

I believe, in general--yes, we do.

HOWEVER, I also believe that chance plays a large part in our fortunes. It is possible to inherit one's millions or to win them in the lottery, just as it is also possible to get laid off from one's job and be unable to find another before one's savings run out. I know plenty of people who were formerly well-employed, who are now living off of unemployment compensation.

Sometimes, the luck comes in the form of sheer intelligence. Some of us are more able to become wealthy than others.

But I believe that, when it comes to making ourselves poor or wealthy, we have some degree of control over that. We decide to apply ourselves in high school, to go or not go to college, to be responsible about our personal finances, to experiment with drugs or not, and so forth. We decide whether or not to become entrepreneurs, and, depending upon our talents and drive, we either succeed or fail at business. We make the networking contacts, or we don't. We choose to read the books and study business and management techniques, or we don't. Though chance plays a large part in whether we become wealthy or poor, much of it is up to us.

It is a truth that some people I think would rather not face and/or don't want to accept, and it is a truth that can be twisted to suit political purposes by enflaming people into feeling disenfranchised, but I believe it is still the truth.

Rich or poor--for the most part, it's no one's fault but our own, people. We reap what we sow. We earn what we deserve.

Current Mood: calmcalm

Good morning, Aerden. I usually avoid discussing politics -- especially in an election year -- but when someone I like and respect voices a reasonable opinion and asks for response, I'm willing to engage in a conversation.

I don't have an official political affiliation either, but I tend to come down on the Democratic side. I understand what you write above about the degree of control that it is possible to exercise over our destinies through choice.

I also know what it's like to be a well-educated, responsible, sober adult with a great work record who can't find a job because there are more than 100 applicants for each position. In the Seattle area, where I live, there are people with Ph.D.'s who have held jobs all their lives, who are losing their homes and going to food banks because they have been laid off and can't find jobs, or are working at margainal jobs just to bring in some money but can't support their families. I have a Masters degree and excellent work experience, but I've been temping for more than a year because I can't find a full-time job.

I am *not* going to try to explain or analyze why unemployment is high in my area right now or (God forbid!) try to blame one party or another. But the fact is that sometimes there are circumstances beyond our control. My perception is that Democrats believe that government can do more to create circumstances which make it more likely that more people who choose to try to succeed will in fact be able to succeed. The Republicans expect people to be able to "rise above" whatever circumstances exist in the society/economy.

The Republican view is (in my view) based on an old and (again, in my view) somewhat primitive perception of the Divine rewarding virtue and punishing vice in a very direct and explicit way. I think it allows someone who is among the Virtuous Successes to absolve him/herself from having to do anything to help the less fortunate, or to look hard at injustices which are inherent in the system which has been good for him/her. After all, if I was able to make it, everyone should be able to! I made it, so there's nothing wrong with the system, it's all the fault of those who fail!

I do not absolve people from the responsibility of making good choices and working hard. But even the most diligent farmer can be ruined by a flood, a drought, an epidemic, an earthquake, or war -- events far out his control. Likewise, the most diligent ordinary person trying to hold down a job can be defeated by an economic situation that is beyond his control.