Welcome login | signup
Language en es fr
OccupyForum

Forum Post: The 1% wants to take us back to the Gilded Age...

Posted 2 years ago on May 30, 2012, 12:26 p.m. EST by XenuLives (1645) from Charlotte, NC
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/05/29/1095619/--They-sleep-on-a-pile-of-rags-on-the-floor-

"In the Gilded Age one of the most common community responses to dealing with beggars – or paupers as those who seemed chronically, perhaps willfully dependent on charity were derisively called – was to make the beggar another community's problem. A town's trustee would issue the mendicant a one-way railroad ticket out of town, then hope the receiving town’s trustee didn’t do the same and send her right back. In October 1874, Greencastle did just that, and made Anna and her children Indianapolis's problem.

Anna’s life bottomed out in Indianapolis. She went barefoot in winters, and the report of the Indianapolis trustee noted that in the winter of 1876 the family was “burned about the feet,” presumably a case of severe frostbite. “They sleep on a pile of rags on the floor. Not enough clothing to cover themselves. … She also claims to have heart disease.”

Such conditions might suggest to you that Anna and her family needed immediate public welfare, private charity, or both. But as Americans encountered their first modern, industrial depression in the 1870s, many persons took as an article of faith the belief that relief created a disincentive to seek work, that it “demoralized” the poor. Chronic unemployment, poverty, and dependence were not necessarily viewed as proof of structural economic failings. More often they were seen as proof that poor persons suffered from moral defects that, in an age of enthusiasm for science, were also commonly believed to be inheritable. A popular interpretation of evolution and genetics suggested that a poor person inherited a predisposition to laziness, similar to the way we think of alcoholism as an inheritable risk, today. Easily-won relief might cause a biologically frail person to slide down a path of degeneration, forever living a squalid life of dependence on charity and welfare and then passing on that condition through her blood to her children. As Indianapolis’s trustee noted of Anna, “She is destitute, but continued help from the county has made her chronic. This old Irish fraud depends on public charity for a living … Is a professional liar and beggar. No help can make them live any other way than like hogs. They are stable bred and cannot rise above their breeding.” "

25 Comments

25 Comments


Read the Rules
[-] 4 points by beautifulworld (20443) 2 years ago

Unfortunately, history repeats itself, and, once again a total lack of compassion drives the support of an economic system that completely fails the majority of people. And, while the analogy of the Gilded Age is a good one, perhaps Feudal times will be more accurate in the near future.

[-] 2 points by geo (2638) from Concord, NC 2 years ago

Take us back? This IS the Second Gilded Age.

[-] 1 points by jimmycrackerson (940) from Blackfoot, ID 2 years ago

Back in 2002, mayor Rocky Anderson of Salt Lake City did this back during the Winter Olympics. Salt Lake City had (and still has) a problem with homeless people and pan handlers, so he gave them one-way bus tickets to Las Vegas.

[-] 1 points by farmer88 (40) 2 years ago

I was hoping this would be about the guild system, but I figured it had to do with the Gilded Age.

[-] -1 points by friendlyopposition (574) 2 years ago

I think our system does create dependence on government assistance. If I can stay at home and make $22,000/yr (the number is arbitrary) or I can go work at physical labor for $24,000/yr - what option do you think many people will take? It is a short sighted view, certainly - but that is all many people have. There are some who will take on the $24k job, and then slowly move up to where they are living comfortably, but I don't know what percentage that is.

I believe there is a balance that must be reached. The government should help people when times turn bad. The government should have programs for people to help them get back on their feet. The government should have programs for special populations that need perpetual assistance (children mentally ill, elderly). The government should not be in the business of carrying able people their entire lives. One of the big problems it the lack of oversight, and the abuse of system that causes so many American to have a great distaste for these programs. Even if the number of people that abuse the system is relatively small, it is a huge PR hit.

If a person is able to work (not some BS disability claim), and there is work to be had - then the person should be given the necessary and reasonable assistance to get back on their feet economically - and then they are on their own.

[-] 4 points by gestopomillyy (1695) 2 years ago

you forget that theres more than a few corporations that pays its workers low enough wages, no benefits, to were the people can work thier whole lives while receiving gov. benefits. food stamps and housing assistance,, government paid healthcare for the kids. still these are working people. what is the philosophy there? they work but they are still destitute and the government gives them reasonable assistance but they will never be on thier feet economically. what about those people? while allowing taxpayers to pay for the survival of employees of these corporations.. they rake in billions in profit. who is actually the ones 'stable bred and cannot rise above thier breeding?

[-] 0 points by friendlyopposition (574) 2 years ago

Undoubtedly, that is wrong as well. People who are working full time should be able to live off what they make. Corporations should cut pay and incentives for their executives in order to pay their employees more. It wouldn't take much - I bet a 1% cut in CEO pay could easily raise all first line employees pay by as much as 10% (just throwing numbers out there).

That doesn't change how there is no accountability in our current system.

[-] 2 points by XenuLives (1645) from Charlotte, NC 2 years ago

You're assuming that everyone has by default no incentive to work. I disagree with that notion. There may be a tiny percentage of true slackers, but I think if you polled 10,000 welfare recipients, you would have the overwhelming majority state that they just want to get a stable job that will pay the bills.

Nobody that I know wants things handed to them, but they also want a chance to succeed. With no jobs that pay a living wage available, and education expenses through the roof, AND small businesses being destroyed by the budgets of their larger competitors, there are very few options for people to "make it" in this country.

[-] -1 points by friendlyopposition (574) 2 years ago

I have been in contact with A LOT of people that don't have any incentive to work. They seem to be satisfied living in public housing, receiving a stipend from the government. Add to that the number of people fraudulently collecting some sort of disability from the government. It is not a myth that there are people receiving public money while driving nice cars and carrying expensive phones. I don't know a percentage - but like I said - it is enough to put off a large segment of the population. If there was ample oversight, and if the general population had confidence that the people receiving money truly NEEDED the public money, then I think only a small fraction of the population would oppose it.

I think from your post that you agree with my last paragraph. If a person can work, and there is work available, the government shouldn't be needed to provide financial support.

[-] 1 points by XenuLives (1645) from Charlotte, NC 2 years ago

For every piece of anecdotal evidence that you have showing that people don't have incentives to work, I have several people that I know who apply to everything that is available and are working their asses off trying to find work. I have several people who asked me to keep an eye out for Now Hiring signs, so that they can throw in their hat with the 800+ other applicants that will try to fill those same positions.

We can talk personal stories all day, but what I really want to see are the cold, hard facts. Who has done a survey that shows how many people on welfare have or lack ambition? Where is the data that proves or disproves your hypothesis? We can make generalizations all day, but I'd rather see a non-partisan, un-biased scientific study on this matter. I believe that, if such a study existed, at least 80% of the respondents would be at least moderately motivated to find work.

The government should be able to give its people a starting point, through living wage laws, or government works programs, training, tariffs on Chinese goods, and support for small businesses over bailouts to the largest institutions. After all, why do we have a government if its not providing helping us, the vast majority of its populace? Why would I consider a government legitimate if my participation in it only makes my life worse?

[-] 1 points by friendlyopposition (574) 2 years ago

So on one hand you challenge me to find a study that supports my point, and in the same paragraph provide me the numbers that you believe would support your point is such a study existed. A little contradictory, isn't it?

I feel like you have a point to make, and you aren't going to let my posts stop you from making it. I stated above that I support welfare for those that need it. I support government assistance. My frustration, and one that I think is shared by many others, is the lack of accountability. I said that the number of people that abuse the system may be a very small percentage - but that percentage makes people angry. People get angry when they stand behind someone paying for groceries with food stamps and then follow them out and watch them get into a nice SUV. These aren't urban legends - it actually happens. You never hear of anyone being prosecuted for defrauding the government out of assistance money.

I have no problem with helping those that truly need it. I have a big problem with the government giving money to people who could be out earning a living but opt to sit at home - able bodied - and collect a check.

[-] 1 points by XenuLives (1645) from Charlotte, NC 2 years ago

I can make a guess based on personal experience, just like you are doing with yours. I still want to see some statistics, not just personal anecdotes.

"I feel like you have a point to make, and you aren't going to let my posts stop you from making it."

Welcome to politics :)

"I said that the number of people that abuse the system may be a very small percentage - but that percentage makes people angry. People get angry when they stand behind someone paying for groceries with food stamps and then follow them out and watch them get into a nice SUV. These aren't urban legends - it actually happens. You never hear of anyone being prosecuted for defrauding the government out of assistance money."

So why is it the poor's fault in general if a few people are cheating the system? Why aren't you pushing for stronger enforcement of the current welfare laws instead of using one or two bad apples to justify making the entire group suffer? Some Christians really piss me off with their blatant bigotry, but you don't see me calling for the entire religion to be classified as a hate group.

If people are breaking the law, its up to the government to enforce those laws and bring those people to justice. If you see something like that EBT into SUV thing in person, why didn't you call the DA and tell them the license plate #? Tell them that you suspect welfare fraud and see if they investigate. What you DON'T do is persecute all of the poor just because of that one person.

[-] 1 points by friendlyopposition (574) 2 years ago

"I feel like you have a point to make, and you aren't going to let my posts stop you from making it."

"I stated above that I support welfare for those that need it. I support government assistance. My frustration, and one that I think is shared by many others, is the lack of accountability."

"I have no problem with helping those that truly need it. I have a big problem with the government giving money to people who could be out earning a living but opt to sit at home - able bodied - and collect a check."

C'mon Xenu, you are arguing with me as if I want to shut down welfare. I never said that. In order to investigate fraud complaints, the government needs resources dedicated to it. And I don't necessarily even need a criminal prosecution to be satisfied - just if I knew the benefits were being cut off to those abusing the system.

So do you agree or disagree that people who abuse the system are wrong? Do you agree or disagree that able-bodied people who can work, and who can find work at a living wage, should not be receiving public assistance?

[-] 0 points by XenuLives (1645) from Charlotte, NC 2 years ago

Sure, the small number of people who abuse the programs are wrong. Why didn't you just say that you wanted more funding for government to investigate this fraud in the first place instead of going on and on about "people who could be out earning a living but opt to sit at home - able bodied - and collect a check" ?

It sounds like you have a vendetta against people who are less fortunate than you from the way that you talk about these people. What have these people ever done to you?

"Do you agree or disagree that able-bodied people who can work, and who can find work at a living wage, should not be receiving public assistance?"

People who can work do not necessarily get jobs. Right now there are 3.4 people for every job opening in the country. That means that 66% of the job applicants are going home without work, regardless of how able-bodied or competent, hard-working, etc. they are. There simply aren't enough jobs for everyone who wants work to be able to work. OWS is trying to change that.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/05/30/1096008/-When-good-jobs-are-available-the-queue-goes-around-the-block

"At the Hyundai plant in Montgomery, Alabama more than 20,000 people have applied for one of the 877 job openings.

The surge of people applying may seem unusual, but it's not.

Take a look:

Last summer Ford had more than 18,000 people apply for one of 1,800 jobs at the retooled Louisville plant. That plant will open and start building the Edge SUV in mid-June.

In 2011, more than 41,000 applied for one of the 1,300 positions at the new Toyota plant in Tupelo, Mississippi.

In 2009, more than 65,000 applied for one of the 2,700 jobs at the new Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, TN. Since opening, that plant has added shifts and is currently hiring another 820 workers."

I want to see full employment through government works programs, government job training, Chinese tariffs, and other projects so that no one needs welfare in the first place. The fact that we have people on the streets starving or forced to use EBT is proof that our economic policies are WRONG, and they need to change if America truly cares about its citizens.

[-] 1 points by friendlyopposition (574) 2 years ago

Once again, you have your agenda - and it seems like your only goal is to push this agenda forward in your posts. I was interested in discussing a topic, but I see that isn't going to happen.

I don't have a vendetta against people that are less fortunate. Several times I have voiced my support for public assistance programs - the first time in my initial post. What have "these people" done? If by "these people" you mean the ones who can work but choose not to because they can get by on the government dime. I work for what I have. I work hard, and I work often. I pay taxes to support government programs and services. I don't want the money I pay in taxes to help fund someone's perpetual vacation. That is what they have done to me.

I never said that people who are able-bodied and CAN'T find work shouldn't be helped. I said that people who are able-bodied and CAN find work that pays a living wage should be cut from the rolls. But then you went off on some diatribe about unemployment rates. Completely irrelevant to my point.

As long as we are making assumptions and putting words in each other's mouths - your posts sound like you believe people are entitled to receive government assistance whether they actually need it or not. If a person can get a job, but decides they would rather stay home at subsist at the poverty line on food stamp, then that is just fine by you.

I'm done banging my head against this wall.

[-] 1 points by XenuLives (1645) from Charlotte, NC 2 years ago

What do you think a conversation looks like? We're having one right now! I say something, you say something, repeat. Hell, I agree with you on the welfare fraud thing. What more do you want? You want me to demonize an entire demographic because of your bias? Not gonna happen.

I have an agenda? Sounds like you are projecting just a bit. You seem to be on this holy crusade to paint the poor as people who don't work hard or are lazy or whatever else justifies your discrimination against them. You want to take away aid from some fictional person that you conjured up that supposedly just sits in front of a TV all day instead of looking for jobs, or some imaginary throng of persons who are defrauding the government in mass. If you want to talk about who's cheating the government, lets talk about companies like Duke Energy that are paying NEGATIVE taxes on their profits while raising their rates to consumers.

You keep bringing up this subset of poor people that are supposedly "lazy" yet you claim you don't have a vendetta against them. So why haven't you spent a single paragraph talking about the AVERAGE poor person on welfare, NOT the ones who are defrauding the system, and are NOT the anomaly. I'm talking about the 85 or 95 or whatever it is % of people who are just stuck trying to get a job at the Toyota plant that's only hiring 2,000 people out of 20,000 applicants, or for one of the 65,000 jobs at McDonalds out of 1 MILLION applicants...

"If a person can get a job, but decides they would rather stay home at subsist at the poverty line on food stamp, then that is just fine by you."

And where is this job coming from? China? Is there a tree that jobs grow on? Can I just pray to some deity for jobs to fall out of the sky? Is there some magic bean that I can plant that will give me the capital I need to start a small business that can succeed against Wal*Mart and every other large chain?

How about one of those auto plants that have ~10 people applying for every job opening? In your twisted world the 9 out of 10 who don't get those jobs just go home and sit on the couch all day? Is that what you're trying to say? Just let those people starve because obviously its completely their fault that THERE AREN'T ENOUGH FUCKING JOBS TO GO AROUND?!?

That's my point. You want to blame individuals for the economy. I'm blaming our fucked up government policies that put bombs over people, greed from the largest banks, and Wall Street for gambling with our money and then asking for Uncle Sam to cover for its failure. Do you think its fair for Wall Street to get a bailout, while Average Joe in North Dakota suffers?

I want poverty eradicated. In my world I see welfare gone, not because of cutting funding, but because everyone has a job and everyone has a living wage. No food stamps needed because everyone is working and can afford healthy food, not just Ramen and McDoubles.

[-] 1 points by friendlyopposition (574) 2 years ago

This isn't a conversation. It is me responding to things you say, and you going off in random directions.

This is from my initial post "The government should help people when times turn bad. The government should have programs for people to help them get back on their feet. The government should have programs for special populations that need perpetual assistance (children mentally ill, elderly)."

[-] 1 points by XenuLives (1645) from Charlotte, NC 2 years ago

OK, and your point is? You just spent paragraph after paragraph attacking some "lazy" group of people because of your bias. I called you out on it and even offered some data. So are you ready to talk about how we will help the majority of those in poverty get back on their feet?

Are you ready to talk about the average American who is facing hard times right now, or are you going to keep ranting against a few people who according to you "don't want to work?"

[-] 0 points by friendlyopposition (574) 2 years ago

There you go, trying to spin the conversation off in another direction. My point from the very beginning was that I support help for those that need it. I think we need greater accountability so that there is money available for those that need it, and those that don't need it - don't get it. All this talk about cutting back on public assistance programs could be minimized if the money went only to those that NEED it. While I am not right on target, I would present that I am more on topic with the OP than you are

"Chronic unemployment, poverty, and dependence were not necessarily viewed as proof of structural economic failings. More often they were seen as proof that poor persons suffered from moral defects that, in an age of enthusiasm for science, were also commonly believed to be inheritable. A popular interpretation of evolution and genetics suggested that a poor person inherited a predisposition to laziness, similar to the way we think of alcoholism as an inheritable risk, today."

In this thread I will keep ranting about those few that don't want to work. They are hurting the entire system - including those that actually need the resources.

[-] 1 points by XenuLives (1645) from Charlotte, NC 2 years ago

The point of the article was that the aristocrats and even charities of that period had these preconceived notions about people who were poor, and used those false idioms to deny starving children and families help. They had pure hatred for this group of people, just like some politicians and pundits have today.

"No help can make them live any other way than like hogs. They are stable bred and cannot rise above their breeding."

So you are agreeing with the hatred that the people in the Gilded Age spouted? They demonized the poor over misconceptions, much like what you have done repeatedly on these forums. I actually have compassion for the poor.

So what's you plan for fixing our poverty issue? Getting rid of welfare fraud? How are you going to do that? By using more government funds to pay for enforcement of the welfare laws? What tax are you going to levy or increase in order to get those funds? Do you have any data that would show how much America will save if it eliminates this fraud? What are you going to do about the "few that don't want to work" that you are so obsessed about?

[-] 1 points by XenuLives (1645) from Charlotte, NC 2 years ago

I do have a plan for ending poverty:

"I want to see full employment through government works programs, government job training, Chinese tariffs, and other projects so that no one needs welfare in the first place. The fact that we have people on the streets starving or forced to use EBT is proof that our economic policies are WRONG, and they need to change if America truly cares about its citizens."

  • Government works programs like what we had in the New Deal. We have so many bridges, roads, and other parts of infrastructure that need maintenance that we can hire millions of workers for years by doing this.

  • A massive government job training program. This is an investment in making America competitive. We need legions of smart people in this country since all of the low-end jobs are now in India and China.

  • A large tariff on Chinese imports. Get an economist to crunch the numbers and find out what percentage we need to tax these goods so that it is disadvantageous for manufacturers to move facilities over there. Also provide tax incentives to businesses that hire American workers and build plants in our nation.

  • Raising the minimum wage to the living wage required, based on geographic location. If every working American can afford food, clean water, clothing, and shelter then we can eliminate the EBT program and use those funds in another program.

[-] 1 points by friendlyopposition (574) 2 years ago

I'd love to discuss the article. Thanks for getting us back on track. I don't believe that being poor means a person has moral defect, nor do I think it is hereditary. Actually, laziness can be hereditary, but it isn't linked to or exclusive to the poor. The poor should not be demonized - in fact, we should take reasonable steps to help get them out of their situation. Unfortunately, unfettered public assistance doesn't do that. We should do more for people rather than just give them a check at the beginning of each month. All that does is build dependence. I talked a little about that in my first response. I have a great deal of compassion for the poor - and I have put that compassion into action far beyond this silly little forum. But my personal contributions are irrelevant.

I don't have a plan for fixing poverty - and you don't either. If I had a plan, I would love to fix all the worlds problems. Unfortunately it is complicated.

[-] 1 points by gestopomillyy (1695) 2 years ago

does that large segment know that 10% of military families get food stamps i wonder?

[-] 0 points by friendlyopposition (574) 2 years ago

There is a lot that contributes to that number. First of all - the most obvious factor is that entry level military service doesn't pay very much. On top of that, studies I've seen measure food stamp use at the commissaries - and they are also used by retirees, reserves/guard, and others. It may not accurately capture active duty personnel receiving these benefits. Finally, the nature of the job means a lot of movement, so it could be difficult for a spouse to generate significant income.

All that being said - I agree with what I think is your point. People who volunteer to serve should be compensated enough to stay of public assistance.

[-] -1 points by adaldk (-11) 2 years ago

the obama administrations goal is to have everyone a govt dependent. so much easier to rule over people that are totally dependent on the govt. so much easier to subjugate them,.