The Rich Are Spoiled and Lazy — Not the Poor

CocktailsSo much of the time, I despair about politics and economics. These are not areas where people are honest. I might have strong opinions about which are the best translations of Don Quixote. But they aren’t based upon the fact that I have a room full of them that I’m trying to unload. I know, politics has always been a messy business. But democracy was supposed to help in this regard, but I’m afraid that the power elite have become so good at manipulating people that the very idea of democracy in the kind of capitalism that we have may be impossible.

My mind constantly goes back to 2012 and the California Proposition 37, which would have required the labeling of GMO foods. Now on this issue, I tend to side with the conservatives. From a consumer standpoint, there is no evidence that there’s anything wrong with GMO foods. That’s not to say that I don’t have problems with them — especially in how they turn farmers into neo-serfs beholden to chemical companies. And I wonder about the environmental impact of GMOs. I don’t especially see labeling doing that much. But I also don’t see why the people have to be stopped from knowing. So I’m fine with labeling.

And in early 2012, the people of California were fine with GMO labeling. Early polling showed the law passing by a landslide. And then after months and millions of dollars of commercials featuring an old couple whose family farm was just going to be destroyed by the new law, Prop 37 went down to defeat by almost 3 percentage points. I was here during that time. This was not a case of the people being educated about the law. It was a case of an emotional campaign based upon gauzy romantic visions of the family farm and hysterical claims about the destruction of the California economy.

It is just that the whole “welfare makes people lazy” claim is a bit of “common sense” manufactured by the laziest people on earth: the rich.

The situation is even more annoying when it comes to economics, which is supposed to be an academic discipline. But it isn’t. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a lot of people doing very good work. But in the public sphere, economics is used to make whatever point someone in power wants to make. This is why a careful think tank like the Tax Policy Center can always been offset with a conservative talking points mill to claim that whatever giveaway to the rich that the Republicans want to do will be fiscally responsible because it bring on 4% or 6% or 149% growth. It doesn’t really matter, because these groups just pull their numbers out of the air.

I was thinking about this the other day when I read an excellent article by Dylan Matthews, Economists Tested 7 Welfare Programs to See if They Made People Lazy. They Didn’t. This doesn’t come as a surprise. There has never been much indication that welfare programs made people lazy. Humans tend to be dissatisfied. If you give them food and a place to sleep, they will look for better food and a nicer place to sleep. And in our society, where making money is considered the only important function of men, it is a question of self-respect.

So why did four economists have to do detailed studies of 7 welfare programs to show that they didn’t make people lazy? In fact, the evidence indicates that helping out struggling people makes them less lazy. But you already know that. It is just that the whole “welfare makes people lazy” claim is a bit of “common sense” manufactured by the laziest people on earth: the rich. Take a man who has no money. He will almost certainly weed your whole back yard for forty bucks. Ask Donald Trump to do it. It isn’t just that he’s busy. He lives in a society that has lied to him — telling him that his time and effort is worth more money.

Anyone will get off the couch and work if you pay them enough money. But we’ve been sold a bill of goods. The poor are lazy, even though they will work for almost nothing. The rich are productive because they must be paid a huge amount of money to get off the bar stool at the Encore Wynn in Las Vegas.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

11 thoughts on “The Rich Are Spoiled and Lazy — Not the Poor

  1. How hard is it to get rid of a ton of books? Just take them down to the local used book store in your rented UHaul truck in the middle of the night so no one can see you and leave them there in a huge mound.

    The claim that people become lazy has made me use my illogical mind and point out that I know, as a person who had to do the manager thing, that I want someone who is going to be angry, resentful and negative at work to keep their butt parked at home by paying them to stay away. They ruin morale, make it difficult to get things done and so what if they are just using that money to survive on? What do you care if it means you don’t have to put up with them?

    Then again, as a liberal, I am probably just thinking it is easier to throw money at a person which for some reason I have yet to have explained to me is baaaaaaaaaaaad. *rolls eyes*

    I have a headache, seems to be making me more irritable in my writing than normal.

    • As the SO observes, books are a real storage issue. This is why God invented libraries. Dump the books and if you ever want to read one again, check the library.

      That said, there are books I’m loathe to get rid of, although I should. Keeping them is like proving I read them. To whom I would prove this and to whom it would matter, well, that’s me being stupid.

        • Spoken like a true intellectual, someone who admits they know nothing! I’m guessing you’ve read them all, too. However they do become a storage issue.

          I don’t dare give away books that have gone out of print, or signed copies by dead authors. I’m still pissed at myself for giving away Jim Hogshire’s “So You Are Going To Prison” and a signed “Hitchiker’s Guide.” I thought those were loans. I was wrong.

    • I think the “support makes people lazy” is just a post hoc rationalization for supporting low tax policy. I’ve come to the conclusion that the rich are actually stupid. The only way one can be rich is by living within a strong social framework. They think that they are going to be rich in their libertarian utopia? They will be until the leader of their personal army decides to slit their throats. There are no rich tigers in the jungle — just tigers who have eaten recently.

      • They are not cognizant of history enough to be aware that someone long before them set it up so they could have that kind of money. Even the “self made” multimillionaires or billionaires don’t know that many many people have spent decades setting it up for them. After all they built that right?

        It is so frustrating to have to constantly fight against it.

        • I was reading an article yesterday about how working class people are less and less open to government programs that redistribute wealth. We need to embrace the idea that the capitalist system itself redistributes money in a shocking unjust way. I’ve come to the point where I can’t even call myself a capitalist, except on the most minor scale. Let the capitalists have their donut shops. But for important things, we need something better. If capitalism is the best we can come up, then we are screwed.

          • I take the long view of it, we have not had what we can call capitalism for very long. Or socialism or any of the other isms. So we might be able to change to another system eventually but it will take time.

            • All economies are mixed. No one is actually for totally free markets. Free market in nuclear weapons? So the question is just how free markets are going to be. I get tired of people talking about our free markets. We are talking about partitioning. But maybe there is a better system than that.

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