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Forum Post: How to get poor people motivated to vote/act

Posted 8 years ago on April 23, 2012, 8:08 p.m. EST by Misaki (893)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

This is a work in progress, based on my current understanding.

See for example, only 35% of the unemployed voted in 2010 compared to 46% of working Americans.

Some people think that it's their fault for being poor because they don't have a college degree. So they either continue to suffer or try to get some degree and end up either in debt, with a job, or no debt but still unemployed. This is partly because everyone 'agrees' that the US needs MORE EDUCATION to win at the GDP game.

Other people have the crazy idea that "the economy is bad so everyone must work hard and suffer together".

  • counterargument: corporate profits.

Other people think that "both parties are corrupt, so voting is useless".

  • this is correct to some degree because neither party has a solution the whole population can agree with.

Other people think that more government spending just leads to welfare, abuse of the system, waste of taxpayer dollars, and so on.

Other people think that if the economy is strong (as measured by GDP and/or corporate profits), this will somehow translate into jobs. People who think this often already have a job so they aren't affected by the lack of logic and just listen to whatever some authoritative-sounding expert tells them.

  • counterargument: the years of the great depression, the reality of high unemployment years after the financial crisis... really not sure how people can be so wrong but they are.

In summary: people will not get motivated if they aren't convinced that you have a solution that other people will agree with.

The biggest flaw in the assumptions people make is that we cannot encourage anyone to relax and enjoy themselves while there are people who are suffering due to joblessness or having a terrible, minimum-wage job. In other words people think we should fix economic problems, then reduce the working week.

The reality is that the correct order (when we have enough education and infrastructure/capital) is the opposite: we work less and economic distribution problems naturally fix themselves. But this requires addressing all the individual misunderstandings that people have which prevent them from voting or acting, which may include issues not listed above.



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[-] 3 points by GypsyKing (8708) 8 years ago

You are on to an essential truth here, which is that scarsity is not a problem in a fully devoloped society, with high worker productivity.

The function of the system is to create artificial scarsity as an incentive for people to sacrifice ever more and more of their time and energy for the staggering wealth of a tiny monority.

Thus, our system is not designed to distribute goods and services, but rather to prevent their distribution. Poor people are unempowered people, less likely to make demands or rebel, as a result of psychological abuse.

[-] 0 points by Misaki (893) 8 years ago

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

I don't really expect anyone to spend an hour watching it, but see Born Rich by Jamie Johnson, who is either a billionaire or close to it.

People work too much and have no reason to work less. That's all there is to it. It's somewhat ingrained into culture, society and even laws, but everyone is to blame, not the rich.

[-] 2 points by vodkarocksmovie (37) from Brooklyn, NY 8 years ago

One of the questions is whether culture jamming (Yes Men) can help awareness in disingaged people, or is it counterproductive? Debate tonight at Jalopy Brooklyn about the issues related to this form of subversion, including neo burlesque. http://nycal.mayfirst.org/node/4969

[-] 1 points by Misaki (893) 8 years ago

It has the potential to make people think more critically. However, some people just interpret it as entertainment or unproductive activity, similar to how Anonymous is not taken seriously by much of the population.

Basically, while saying that "inequality is bad" is useful to some extent, the movement must eventually graduate to an effective solution like work conservation.

[-] 1 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 8 years ago

When your choices are two parties that serve the rich, can you blame them?

Who in their right mind casts a vote for some rich asshole that works for another bunch of rich assholes, that are funded by rich assholes?

Seems to me they have a better understanding of reality.

[-] 1 points by Misaki (893) 8 years ago

(as I replied to you in another thread)

"Public approval of Congress remains very low and they are widely seen to represent the interests of the rich, but the truth is that until now no one has offered a solution to the economic recession that the entire nation can support."

[-] 1 points by gestopomillyy (1695) 8 years ago

government spending lead to more welfare??? are you crazy.. they want to cut food stamps,, but they want to increase welfare to afganistan citizens. the government spends 2 BILLION a week in afganistan and now intends to continue to do so for another 15 yrs. get you facts straight

this agreement funds welfare , government free healthcare, foodstamps and infrastructure. in a country that hates democracy, and contanstly violates human rights this is where the money goes


The agreement also says the U.S. will help support Afghan economic development, health care programs, education and social initiatives, and stresses that the U.S. remains committed to defending human rights and the right of free speech.

[-] 1 points by Misaki (893) 8 years ago

(it's a tangent but keep in mind... the US still has bases in Korea and Japan! from over 50 years ago.)

They MIGHT cut food stamps, which many people depend on, which is why it's important to support work conservation so people can get jobs. Including people who work in bloated government agencies that don't want to fire people when there are no jobs in the private sector.

[-] 1 points by DanielBarton (1345) 8 years ago

what if we combined those all together

[-] 1 points by chell10 (4) 8 years ago

Job sharing. It is pretty well-known, and even practiced, outside of America.

Your first point has a greater counterpoint; that of vocational training. It is the norm in most western nations. There are dual branches of higher education: a student can choose to be college-bound or choose a vocation. The American public education system sets people up for failure just by requiring graduation to pursue a college degree.

As to the fourth point on your post; that of abuse of social safety net services: i would suggest that you get something other than fora to back that claim. In the case of me, no source will work. i know better. Abuse, (especially of food stamp benefits,) is the exceptional exception.

[-] 1 points by Misaki (893) 8 years ago

Job sharing got a boost recently: http://jaredbernsteinblog.com/hey-we-did-something-right-here/

However, it's oriented around saving jobs, not creating jobs. People are expected to want, and eventually return to, full-time work.

Part of the reason that inequality is so high is that there has been too much unemployment even in supposedly healthy times during the last 30 years: http://jaredbernsteinblog.com/slack-attack/

Working less would be good for wages even if we leave the recession. After all, haven't people been predicting for years that "we'll work less in the future"?

An excellent refutation of the idea that we need more vocational training can be found here: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/09/occupational-hazards/

(It's the general idea of "structural unemployment" and another good source of information is here: http://macromarketmusings.blogspot.com/2012/04/is-there-really-aggregate-demand.html)

You may think that food stamp abuse isn't a problem, but economic progress depends on using a solution that people who think the government is too large can agree on, like this one: http://occupywallst.org/forum/work-conservation-is-the-solution-to-the-global-re/

It might be possible to force people to accept more socialism, but I wouldn't recommend trying. More evidence, people want a smaller government (evidence in above thread) but they are aware that a larger government equals more growth:

Q59. Which do you think is the best way to promote economic growth in the U.S.? 1.Lower taxes on individuals and businesses, and pay for those tax cuts by spending on some government services and programs, or 2. Spend more on education and the nation’s infrastructure, and raise taxes on wealthy individuals and businesses to pay for that spending.
Lower taxes, cut spending 37
Spend more raise taxes 56

And just for the record (this forum isn't supposed to be candidates) people think Romney is dishonest but would still vote for him:


Q37. Do you think Mitt Romney says what he believes most of the time, or does he say what he thinks people want to hear?
4/13-17/12* [registered voters only]
What he believes 27
What people want to hear 62

Q27. Do you think Barack Obama says what he believes most of the time, or does he say what he thinks people want to hear?
Says what he believes 46
Says what people want 51

Q19. If the 2012 presidential election were being held today and the candidates were Barack Obama, the Democrat, and Mitt Romney, the Republican, would you vote for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?
Obama 46
Romney 46

[-] 1 points by vodkarocksmovie (37) from Brooklyn, NY 8 years ago

If more ressources were given to schools in underprivileged areas, it would be a great investment for our future. Instead these schools get less money because the constituants don't vote.

[-] -1 points by chatman (-478) 8 years ago

so no requirement to graduate high school to go to college? Actually many people get the GED while attending junior college

[-] 1 points by Misaki (893) 8 years ago

It used to be that lawyers and physicans weren't expected to go to college; they just went straight to law school or medical school.

But there's not much point in arguing about education. People can decide for themselves if they think high tuition and student loans are worth being able to get a minimum-wage job in the current economy. The idea of college will probably survive; the important thing right now is just creating more jobs.

[-] -1 points by chatman (-478) 8 years ago

the title should be how to get poor people motivated to work

[-] 2 points by Misaki (893) 8 years ago

1 million people applied to 50k job openings for McDonald's last year.

"Sales" or lack of demand is the distinguishing feature of the recession. http://macromarketmusings.blogspot.com/2012/04/is-there-really-aggregate-demand.html

[-] -1 points by Fleaparty4 (-12) 8 years ago

And to graduate high school and to not have illegitimate babies. Both are key to not being poor. We also need to figure out how to get many of our poor motivated to leave the country; many of them are here illegally. Drop-outs from Mexico aren't brain surgeons, they're dish washers and valets and constitute a good chunk of now our poverty. Fight poverty: "Occupy" the border.