The fact that this article isn't condemning of this is amazing.
July 18, 2000 7:41 AM   Subscribe

The fact that this article isn't condemning of this is amazing. Being from Long Island, I can say that less than 1/2 hour from this house are, basically, slums. Areas of very great poverty.
posted by Doug (50 comments total)
How sickening. I had to stop after the 22 gallon-per-minute shower head. People like that may not realize it, but excess like that is hardly any better than shooting endangered animals for sport.
posted by owen at 8:16 AM on July 18, 2000

I agree. How can you possibly justify all this extravagance? 9.5 bathrooms? 12,000 square feet? 22 gallon-per-minute shower head? Ugh. What a waste of resources.
posted by evilmaryellen at 8:35 AM on July 18, 2000

As opposed to 3100 gallons of food thrown out every day by the various fast food restaurants where I live? America is the land of waste. We waste everything. I often wonder how much longer we will be allowed to do so before we are killed by angry, hungry mobs. But it never seems to happen.
posted by ab'd al'Hazred at 8:52 AM on July 18, 2000

Areas of "very great poverty" compared to where? Smoky Mountain in Manila? The Tombs in Cairo? The sidewalks of Calcutta? Sorry, compared to many other places in the world, there is no real poverty in America. Compared to the Hamptons, yes there is, obviously. But it's all relative deprivation, not absolute.

Real Estate is almost always a great money generator for a newspaper. The overall fawning tone is hardly surprising. I'm a bit more surprised that there's no examination of how poorly crafted even expensive houses are in this country, but hey...

posted by aurelian at 9:24 AM on July 18, 2000

I've never condoned America's wastefulness, ab'd al'Hazred. We take things for granted too often, and sooner or later, it will be our undoing.
posted by evilmaryellen at 9:43 AM on July 18, 2000

Hey, the boom in houses built by people with more money than taste is at least driving up wages for carpenters and plumbers.

And I'm waiting for the architectural backlash -- just as Victorian houses (fueled by the invention of the balloon frame) led to Arts and Crafts houses, the eventual reaction to McMansions is (hopefully) going to produce something more in keeping with my personal aesthetics.
posted by snarkout at 9:49 AM on July 18, 2000

So what? Who are you guys to say someone with money should or shouldn't build a house like this? Its their money. They paid for it.
posted by owillis at 10:12 AM on July 18, 2000

Re Aurelian's point about relative and absolute poverty: worse things happening elsewhere in the world doesn't mean you can shrug off poverty in the US. Some people have cancer, but doctors still treat non-fatal diseases.
posted by Mocata at 10:44 AM on July 18, 2000

Its their money. They paid for it.

And it's a waste of their money. Their money could be used a lot better elsewhere-- in their own lives or in society. Sure, it's their decision. That doesn't mean we have to accept it without speaking up. It doesn't matter how much money they have. There is a limit to resources in this world; someday we're going to hit it.

Besides, I can't imagine how this is that great of a vacation/weekend/summer place to live anyway, with all the congestion and overdevelopment. Whatever natural beauty there may have been about the place is probably gone.
posted by daveadams at 11:01 AM on July 18, 2000

I don't know. People who are wasting their money on overinflated land values and overpriced workers are causing a shortage of workers, dropping Rhode Islands unemployment rate to 2%.

I'd say that's a pretty good thing. All the people who live in the slums can get jobs. To paraphrase a quote from the article "... going around picking up everyone in boots to work on the site." I mean, that's a situation in which everyone but the person shelling out millions of dollars benefits.

Plumbers are buying jets, rather than just BMWs. There's a lot of money being pumped into the local populace. It's not all bad.

What's worse is pumping 20-some odd gallons of water per minute into your shower.
posted by cCranium at 11:09 AM on July 18, 2000

What does someone do with 9.5 bathrooms? Do these people really need all this stuff? Certain things I can see spending a lot of money on, but "his 'n hers" bathrooms aren't included. It's a blatant slap in the face to those who live a 1/2 mile away and can't even afford proper food and shelter.
posted by elf_baby at 11:10 AM on July 18, 2000

elf, who are you to say what these people need and don't need?! Indeed, who are any of us who are not the owners to make such judgements? Given the vast scale of welfare support and the incredibly tight job market, I'd say anyone who lives 1/2 mile away from this who can't even afford proper food and shelter doesn't wnat proper food and shelter (or, wants something else more).
posted by m.polo at 11:18 AM on July 18, 2000

Wow....wrote a long post and screwed it up. Very frustrating...

Ok, Aurelian, you've convinced me! I'm going right now to find some rape victims and mock them for whinning. I mean, they weren't MURDERED. Could be worse, right?

There are homeless people in Riverhead (Near the Hamptons). There are people who can't afford to send their kids to college. Can't afford health insurance. Some can't afford to feed their kids. But, screw them, cause they own a TV! Who cares that they are essentially stuck in a cycle of least they aren't in Egypt. (Just realized I stole Mocatas point...well, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery)

As for m.polo, it's perfectly acceptable to criticize people for wasting resources that could go to the needy but don't because of insane statis symbols. We all are wasteful, I'm sure, but when you're a prick who is going to buy a house with a billion guest rooms when some people don't even have a home, well, there seems to be a problem there? Why do some people think it's wrong to criticize the way some people use money? It's not's a valuable, life saving thing. If someone invented a cure for cancer and decided that he wanted to just poor barrels of it into the ocean rather than actually helping people with it, wouldn't we all be a little pissed? Would people write, "How DARE you tell that person what he should be doing with that cure for cancer?" Hell no.
posted by Doug at 11:38 AM on July 18, 2000

It is MY cure for cancer and I will do with it as I please. Besides the cancer cure is just a side effect, it was really developed to take the smell out of fish.
I would defend anyone's right to do with their invention as they please. It is not your money. It does not matter how they spend it, it is not yours. Go make some money and give it away. No one will stop you. I do not advocate wasting resources, I'm greener than all of you put together, but I do not feel anyone owes me anything, I owe nothing to anyone. The water waste is shameful, it cannot be defended. The showers at my local YMCA are just as wasteful, somehow I doubt people will get as fired up about rationing water for poor people. It would be great if the Homeowners were giving the money away, but they are not. What are you gonna do about it? Force them to care? Tax them, cause they can afford it?
If they start dumping oil in the ocean, give me a call.
posted by thirteen at 12:21 PM on July 18, 2000

Good grief, the Libertarian goons are out in force.

Here's a clue: if they have the right to do whatever the hell they like with their money, well, dammit, I retain the right to say whatever the hell I like about it. If they didn't want to be criticized -- well, here's a clue: don't get your 22-gallon-per-minute shower head written up in the most widely newspaper in North America.

posted by dhartung at 12:35 PM on July 18, 2000

Mocata: That's not a relevant comparison. It's not as if someone with cancer can go to another country and suddenly be well. A "poor" person in the US can go to another country, and suddenly be "rich", relative to who's there. And be begged from. And be resented for being so stingy while being so rich.

Doug, you're doing the same thing. It's not as if someone can go to another country and have the rape expunged from their body and soul.

It's not that I'm in favor of poverty. I am in favor of using words in such a way that they don't get watered down through inappropriate use.

College, for example, is a luxury. And it's one with needs-based financial aid, last I checked. But even if you're going to say a degree is necessary as a union card, rather than as a genuine indication of education, there are ways to get there from low income. Been there, done that. :)

Should medical care be provided for all? Sure. But that alone is a sign of just how wealthy we are, that we can contemplate such a thing (that other countries have done it before us merely indicates how well off they are, and that they have different priorities).

As for someone more willing to buy a TV (and a car, too, I'll bet) than food... I can't help them. Neither can any amount of money. My guess is, speaking as someone who used to fry ramen noodles rather than boil them because you get more calories that way for your then $.15/packet (cough)... Is that they do afford food, just not food you approve of. And that's your problem, not theirs.

I live in California, where we have a "problem" with illegal immigration. The problem stems from two important facts: Employers only have to pay illegals about half of minimum wage. You know, that minimum wage that "nobody" can live on in this country, allegedly. The other fact is that half of US minimum wage is about 7 times the average wage throughout Central America. So the illegals not only live on that "unlivable" wage (and I've had tortilla and butter dinners with some of them)... They send money home. So both parties see illegal work as an incredible deal.

Tell me again how "poverty" has any useful sense in a country as rich as that.

posted by aurelian at 12:43 PM on July 18, 2000

Fair enough. BTW, what kind of goon are you?
posted by thirteen at 12:45 PM on July 18, 2000

Owwwwwww... perhaps this kind of Goon?

Or maybe you like a larger goon.

posted by aurelian at 12:57 PM on July 18, 2000

Class warfare, yeah!

The main problem I've always had with this argument is that you are penelizing those that are successful to reward those that fail.

Calling poor people failures is awfully rough, but it's not a disease and they're not the victim of a crime. Poverty results from poor choices by themselves or or by their parents. These mistakes can be overcome in a relativly short time here in America, there is no caste system.
posted by Mick at 1:01 PM on July 18, 2000

Outrage sells papers, which is why this story was run in the first place. It also sells the American Dream myth that you too may someday own a home like this (but of course, you won't). Gross flaunting of wealth shows a total lack of class, not to mention the fact that it makes one look like a complete moron. Unfortunately, the world is full of pathetic, insecure rich people that feel they have to try to impress everyone with their silly spending. These people are total losers.Don't worry. We'll all be dead someday (sooner than you think) and we'll all have to answer for our karmic crimes. America is just about ready to choke on it's own greed. I'm going to have a good laugh when it does.Thirteen, you have completly missed the point. How about a little sympathy for your fellow man who didn't happen to be as lucky as you?Mick, we don't have a literal caste system but we do have a very real class system. Try growing up in an inner city ghetto with no educational or economic opportunity. Not too many of those kids end up millionaires.
posted by Mr. skullhead at 1:34 PM on July 18, 2000

The Great Gatsby, anyone?
posted by holgate at 2:00 PM on July 18, 2000

Mr Skullhead: I do not believe in luck or karma. Sympathy is a wasted emotion. Instead of being sympathetic, do something about it. Sympathy is passive and weak, it is worse than nothing, because it allows you to feel like you care when you do not. I grew up in the inner city, and went to poor schools. I do not know how rich any of you are here, but chances are you are richer than me. So, since you feel so lucky, throw a little sympathy my way.
You are right that I would never own a house like that. Not because I won't have the money, but because I have no need for such a place. I fully intend to become rich. When I am rich, I will do what I want with what is mine, and what I want is not wasteful by anyone definition.
I had meant to say at the end of my first post that I believe you all have the right to complain, just like the trophy home people have the right to ignore you.
posted by thirteen at 2:02 PM on July 18, 2000

This isn't about "rights." People have a right to own these dumb houses. We all have a right to complain. Wasting water isn't the point either. It's water...and I don't really care (thats a lie, it annoys me, but in the bigger scheme of things...)

However, the fact that some people here would actually be nonchalant about someone dumping the cure for cancer in the ocean...I just can't understand it. If that analogy doesn't get you, I can only say this...try some empathy. Think of what it would be like to have cancer, know what that is like, and then think of what it would feel like to see that valuable resource wasted by some dicknose...

Then think of being poor (except if you're under the Rush Limbaughesque illusion that poverty doesn't exist in the US) and how it would feel to know that some guy is using money you would use for survival on a marble staircase. Just think about it...

But, of couse, if this kind of thing doesn't bother you, you probably also think poor people are lazy. So, I dunno...

This is just a very disturbing discussion to me.

And also, Aurelian, some people who come here from Mexico came because there was a murderous dictator in office, and eating tortillas and beans is better than being murdered. Also, they CAN live on a third world type salary because they live third world lifestyles, which do not include things like medical care, education, ya know, silly stuff like that. The "livable" wage is not about survival. I can survive on a can of beans and a jug of rat piss if I had to. It's about living a lifestyle that a civilized nation should afford it's citizens.
posted by Doug at 2:27 PM on July 18, 2000

I do not think anyone is going to dump a cure for cancer in the ocean. I think they would be an idiot to do so. A cancer cure would make them rich. Cancer is scary. I am afraid of getting cancer. I probably will get skin cancer. If someone does create a cure, but for some reason decides not to share it with me, I will not fault them for it. I do not have a RIGHT to other peoples things if they do not wanna give them to me. Do I have a right to that cure because I NEED it? Isnt their some christian commandment about not wanting you neigbhors stuff? I volunteer, and give to charity. You cannot compell me to do it, nor can you stop me.
My desire to become rich, is so that I can take care of myself and not require anything from anybody. I ask people to give me the same in return.
Lastly, whose political leanings are served by the existence of poor people? I want us all to be rich. Why are people poor? The class issue is torn apart by the poor people who rise above their backgrounds everyday.
posted by thirteen at 2:45 PM on July 18, 2000

Sorry, but even if they did dump this hypothetical cure for cancer into the ocean, I'd still say they had the right to do so, assuming whatever was in the containers (and the formula that created it, I suppose) belonged to them and they paid the costs of the development. You speak as if these private individuals somehow owe you - and by extension, all of us - a sentiment I find disgusting. Nobody owes me - or you, or any of us - anything that they have not already agreed to give me.

Because there's this little thing called Personal Responsibility. It means taking care of yourself, so long as you cause no harm to others, a skill that seems to be precipitously dwindling in contemporary America.

The fact is that there are services and programs available to assist people in lower income situations who want to change their circumstances - and there have been since the 1960s, long enough for three generations of adults to avail themselves of the benefits. And yes, I'll repeat it because, yes, I believe it: in this economy, with the support mechanisms still available despite the reductions in welfare spending, anyone who fails to change their circumstance has only themselves to blame. Neither they nor you have any innate right to anything someone else has accomplished.

I wish the future owners of this ostentatious monstrosity health and happiness in their new home; the phrase "more money than taste" springs to mind, but hey, if ya got it, spend it...
posted by m.polo at 3:04 PM on July 18, 2000

I don't know if poor people serve any political leanings. I think the desperation caused by poverty is pretty handy for the powerful, both in government and business. The ignorance caused by poverty (thats not an insult, try going to a poor inner city school and see how much you learn) is also very useful to the powerful in our society.

And even in our capitalistic society we don't agree with your view on the cancer cure. If something like that came along, we would take it from that person, and make it publically available. So, I dunno...
posted by Doug at 3:07 PM on July 18, 2000

Rich people are served by the existence of poor people. It's really hard to get rich without taking advantage of cheap labour, and if everyone's rich, labour becomes the hardest thing to get.

posted by Mars Saxman at 3:11 PM on July 18, 2000

Atlas Shrugged, anyone?
By the way, I did go to a poor inner city school. It seems like Aurelian and I are the only people here who have actually spent some time being poor.
I grew up poor, worked after high school to save for college, got a good job, lost it in the recession of the early 90's, survived mostly on condiments and packets of butter, got another job and kept it. Now I work another one on top of that. I'll put my work ethic against anyones, and if I am going to work this hard and not be allowed to do as I please with the earnings, then what do you call that?
posted by thirteen at 3:27 PM on July 18, 2000

BTW, the proper way to phrase that would have been
And even in our capitalistic society we don't agree with your view on the cancer cure. If something like that came along, me and my thug friends would take it from that person
posted by thirteen at 3:43 PM on July 18, 2000

What a prick; he couldn't be bothered to spend $2 grand for the *maid's* faucets, too?


Thirteen doesn't believe in karma, eh? We'll see...
posted by baylink at 3:51 PM on July 18, 2000

Are we playing "prolier than thou", now?

"You can tell what God thinks of money from looking at the people He gives it to."
posted by holgate at 4:25 PM on July 18, 2000

Well, If there is such a thing as karma, mine should be pretty good.
I love you people.
posted by thirteen at 5:38 PM on July 18, 2000

Thirteen, Atlas Shrugged came to my mind as I read this thread too. I think individuals on both sides of this argument would have a new understanding of just why this issue is so complex. On the one side some feel wealthy people have a responsibility and duty to spend their money not on themselves but instead they should benefit society. They should freely give their hard-earned money away for nothing. Others believe it's survival of the fittest and he who has the most wins and me first the hell with the ladies and children i'm getting off this sinking boat cuz i'm rich and blah blah blah blah blah.

Personally I think you're both wrong. =) The answer lies somewhere in between.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:51 PM on July 18, 2000

Surely if this development is creating more jobs then it will be a better solution to poverty in the long term. I can see far more benefit in giving a person a job rather than giving a person money. The same people who might buy a TV or car before food. Do you really want to just give them money.

Do you not get that 'give a man a fish' advert in the US? If not, it refers to third world aid, and it goes like this:

Give a man a fish and he can feed himself and his family. Give a man means to catch a fish and he can go on providing for his family for a long time to come.

Just my thoughts.
posted by iamcal at 12:36 AM on July 19, 2000

White privilege plays no small role in contributing to the ability of whites to rise out of poverty. People of color face an entirely different set of challenges. Any analysis of the american dream that doesn't consider race is deeply flawed.
posted by sudama at 9:00 AM on July 19, 2000

Sudama's comment has surprised me so much I am having a heart attack. I never would have guessed you would hold that opinion, or that it would be so broad in scope.
You seem to have a race obsession that borders on mania, I can only guess that you did not grow up around "people of color" and feel bad about it. That is my impression, I do not know if it is true.
What does your comment mean when you boil it down? Any analysis that did not take that into account would be flawed, as it would be if it ignored sex, religion, education, etc. This off kilter conversation has been about excess and personal freedom. Poverty was mentioned in oblique terms that covered all poor people. How would this thread have been improved by the irrelevant mention of race? If it was pertinent, wouldn't someone have already mentioned it by now?
I often get the feeling after reading your comments that you do not have the same respect for black people that I do, and that they cannot succeed without your help. I find it offensive.
posted by thirteen at 9:42 AM on July 19, 2000


Chill out a bit there, man. All the guy said was race should be considered, and you say that he's obsessed (almost manic) and deduce that he is somehow being condescending. You also somehow got that he doesn't respect black people as much as you. How you got that from a THREE sentence post I have no idea.

You sound scared of his ideas, and it's showing.
posted by Doug at 10:09 AM on July 19, 2000

I can only guess that you did not grow up around "people of color" and feel bad about it.

I feel bad about the everday attitudes and behaviors of white people which further white supremacy.

When you boil it down, (I thought my comment was already pretty succinct... I can only get wordy from here) what I meant by my comment is that when white people talk about how they pulled themselves up by their proverbial bootstraps, I'm disappointed they don't give credit to the invisible white hands that were pulling with them -- hands which don't reach down to grasp black, brown, yellow or red hands. I harp on this because the correlation between, for example, education and success is not hard to find, but the relationship between white skin, the unearned privilege it brings, and success is rarely discussed. I wouldn't be surprised if most people reading this haven't ever considered that relationship.

Poverty was mentioned in oblique terms that covered all poor people. How would this thread have been improved by the irrelevant mention of race?

Poverty was mentioned in this thread initially in terms of a very specific group of poor -- those who live in the "slums" on Long Island. For those less than familiar with New York, this refers to the poor communities of people of color at the east edge of Brooklyn and Queens. In this case 'poverty' was a euphimism for 'poor people of color' -- a prevalent usage. Your rise out of poverty was mentioned in specific terms that covered you. My mention of white privilege was intended as a direct counterpoint to your unstated assumption that your experience can be generalized to include everyone. Your "if I can do it, so can anyone" attitude reflects a willfull denial of the role race plays in people's lives.
posted by sudama at 10:52 AM on July 19, 2000

Aurelian, I don’t think you’ve refuted my point. ‘It's not as if someone with cancer can go to another country and suddenly be well. A "poor" person in the US can go to another country, and suddenly be "rich", relative to who's there.’ According to this argument you could take a homeless person from the US, give him ten bucks, dump him in Burkina Faso, say, and he’d no longer be poor. Relatively speaking, perhaps; but I don’t think his situation is improved all that much. You’re just using the distinction between relative and absolute poverty to obscure the fact that poverty does exist in the US. Mick, you say that any kind of redistribution would be ‘penelizing [sic] those that are successful to reward those that fail’. This only holds true if the rich have made their money in some kind of social vacuum independent of the rest of society, which they clearly haven’t. If they can benefit from the things society provides (like the national infrastructure, laws and so on), then surely society can use a small portion of their wealth for the greater good in return. (I will assume your claim that ‘in America, there is no caste system’ is a little joke.) Thirteen, you say that ‘Sympathy is passive and weak, it is worse than nothing, because it allows you to feel like you care when you do not’, before discussing your personal kampf. Have you ever considered painting watercolours? I hear the art school in Vienna has a very good course. Finally, what is anyone going to do with 0.5 of a bathroom – have 0.5 of a shower?

posted by Mocata at 11:03 AM on July 19, 2000

How can someone from a poverty-striken area take personal responsibility and make money if they are not given that opportunity? To make the kind of money that is needed to live comfortably (ie, not off "beans and rat piss"), one usually needs some sort of degree from a continuing education institute. In order to attend such places as colleges, universities, and even vocational-tech schools, that person needs to be able to pay for it. Yes, there is financial aide. However, financial aide is generally given to those who the committee feels would be able to pay it back. It's sad, but it's true at many places. (from someone applying for financial aide for college right now, I've got personal experience with that particular aspect of things...) So a person is unable to pay for the education they need in order to get the job to make the money they went to college to make in the first place!

I may be rambling, and I may not make sense, and even if I do make sense, you may disagree with me. I'll admit, I'm sure there are exceptions to my opinions, but this is how I see it from where I'm standing.

posted by elf_baby at 11:14 AM on July 19, 2000

It's funny that some people here think wage is actually related to the amount of work done. Like, somehow, Bill Gates happens to work 9 billion times harder than the average person. Or, even, that his work is worth billions of times more than the average person. It's almost so nieve as to be cute. Almost.

It's a great crowd, though. We've got one guy who thinks that people living on tortillas and BUTTER (said beans before, sorry, that's actually somewhat nutritious) in abject poverty is good...who may or not be the same guy who envisions a scifi-type transportation of the poor (of course without paying the costs of moving) to other even poorer places to up their standard of living...We've got the compassionate nazis who think sympathy is weak. What else? The objectivists who think that people who are poor are basically just lazy, or dumb, because it's so EASY to succeed in America. Of course, sprinkled in are the people with a heart, Mocata, elf_baby, others I don't remember.

Imagine all this coming from some house in the Hamptons?
posted by Doug at 11:41 AM on July 19, 2000

Doug, get off your high horse man. What right you have to call ANYONE a Nazi is beyond me, let alone thirteen. That's just inflamatory, and doesn't help your argument. It suggests you're just looking for confrontation, rather than trying to educate.

This discussion was about poverty and social responsibility, not about skin colour. Does a greater percentage of white people have money? Yeah, no question. I don't need numbers to agree with that statement. But there are white people out there who are just as poor as the poorest black person, or the poorest asiatic, or the poorest Indian.

Poverty affects everyone. Should I be less willing to help Person X make a better life for themself because he happens to be a white male, or should I want to help someone make a better life for themself because they can use the help?

I'd say the answer's fairly self-evident.

sudama: You're a smart person, and I respect you, but I can't understand why everything has to be about race. Almost every one of your first comments in a thread is akin to "The white man has the power, the black man is powerless."

We know. Nobody here, white black asian indian or any other shade or race is ignorant that it's easier to be succesful if raised in a nice neighborhood, with middle-class parents and a college education. We're also aware that most black people are caught in a spiral of poverty, and most people with middle-class parents and a college education are white. It's NOT NEW.

Rather than raising awareness by sparking the same old flame, why not raise awareness of the solutions?
posted by cCranium at 1:04 PM on July 19, 2000

Forgive me, but this whole "who you are and where you come from determines your lot in life" line of reasoning begs the question:

Did or did not most of the African Americans in the US descend from slaves? As that is the case, how do you account for some of those families succeeding and becoming successful and some not?
posted by elfgirl at 1:34 PM on July 19, 2000

First I'm a libertarian goon, now i'm a compassionate nazi. The nazi one bugs me, as I believe nazi's were out of control leftists, and according to the Liberatarian personality test I am just right of center.
I ignored this thread at first because it seemed stupid. As if there was an appropriate distance for wealth to exist from poverty. "Can you believe it, such waste a mere 1500 miles from abject poverty!" I got into it after Doug started laying claim to other people thoughts, work and invention on the basis of need. Nothing I have said hurts anyone in anyway. You can claim the higher ground if you want, but if you start stealing and redistributing wealth, see how long it is before people start calling you a nazi.
The comments I made to Sudama were based on at least 5 other threads I have seen him comment on. We all know the limits of expressing tone in the written form, and I never intended to express any animosity towards him. I do think his heart is in the right place, and he certainly get a lively discussion going. I do not think he is correct in his thinking. I did not realize he was responding to my own post, and thought he was coming out of left field(pardon the pun). He mentioned my unstated assumption, it was unstated because it was not present. To claim I was given anything I worked for denigrates me and my effort. I never said "I can do it, so anyone can" . Not everyone can do it, only people who work towards a goal can. Many poor people had less than me, and will end up with more. When I read stuff like that, tho I know it is well intended, I hear it as you saying that these other people are inferior to me, so my accomplishments are worthless, and theirs are a miracle. Doesn't Sean Combs ave a big house in the Hamptons? Wonder how much water is flowing out of how many bathrooms at his place, I bet its alot, the racist bastard. Blowing all that money on fancy white clothes and jewelry, with all that poverty so close. This is the point where you insert some sympathy. I never want anyones sympathy, if you try to give it to me I'll tell you to go to hell. Why should I express towards others, what I would consider insulting and patronizing towards myself. I mentioned my I think it is worthless earlier, and you have not said anything to prove me wrong. If you would rather feel bad than do something, go ahead. I will not admire you for it tho. I will not abuse my emotions.
It is disingenious to lump people under the catagory of "people of color" as if these different communities had the same goals and have the same problems. The term creates an us against them thing that does not exist on an individual level. There is as much tension between people of color as there is between black and white. The problems facing black and asian kids getting into colleg are dramatically different. I know black doctors, and black drug dealers. I could have told you when we were 16, who was going to do well and who was not. There are people who care and help people of all colors up in life. Most charity is given by white people, most volunteers are white, Sudama is white, tho I reall he has rejected the term white in regards to himself. Are you helping Sudama? Are your white hands invisible to "people of color"? If so why? I help my friends, y friends help me, that is how the worlds problem will be solved.
So, I did not know what color the poor people on long island were, sue me or shoot me and take my stuff. My mind is unchanged
posted by thirteen at 3:31 PM on July 19, 2000

This discussion was about poverty and social responsibility, not about skin colour.

eCranium, you can't have a meaningful discussion about poverty and social responsibility without talking about race. I'm not trying to point out inequities, nor do I claim to have solutions. I'm trying to point out the causes -- the hidden dynamics which lead to such disparities.

In this case, it was precisely the absence of any consideration of race which needed to be brought into the open. Unlike you, I'm not at all confident that most white people here know what role race plays in their lives. Until a few years ago, I had no idea. It wasn't something I learned in grade school, high school, or college. It's not something white people are encouraged to see -- rather, we are encouraged not to see it. In fact, quite a few MeFi regulars encourage me not to see it every chance they get.

If it were true that everyone here KNOWS what there is to know about racism, then I suspect the discussions here would take quite a different direction, and would mention race far more often than they do now. You're telling me that I'm not bringing anything new, yet very few posters here seem to be familiar with my perspective. If people were as aware of racism as you suggest, then it wouldn't be so invisible in the discussions, and people wouldn't be so uncomfortable every time I brought it up.

Thirteen, I agree that the "people of color" category is problematic, though not nearly as problematic as that of "white". I suspect that most poor whites have more in common with poor people of color than with well-off whites; one of the most pernicious effects of racism is that poor people with fair skin more readily identify with wealthy people of fair skin -- based on imagined differences, subtle messages of superiority, and a complex system of privilege -- than with other poor people. If white people didn't buy into the fiction of whiteness, tie their self-worth to the fiction, and support and reinforce the fiction through policy, culture, and everyday behavior, we would be a long way toward a healthier society. What people of color have in common is simply that they are not "white", which isn't saying a lot if you take whiteness to mean fairness of skin -- but whiteness means a lot more than skin color in the United States, and that's what I'm trying to get at.

To claim I was given anything I worked for denigrates me and my effort. I never said "I can do it, so anyone can" . Not everyone can do it, only people who work towards a goal can.

Have you read the white privilege article I linked to earlier in this thread? I don't mean to suggest you have been given any more or less than the privileges discussed in that article, which all white people (in the US at least) have access to. It's just not a level playing field. People "working towards a goal" face different challenges based on the color of their skin. Not based on a history of slavery in the US, not based on the malicious racism of a few thousand overt white supremacists, not based on any inferiority of people of color, but based on the concentration of power in the hands of a white elite, based on the cultural assumption of the normality (and therefore superiority) of white people, and based on the privileges to which people of color do not have access.

And I apologize for putting words in your mouth. I think I confused your "I did it" with m.polo's "anyone can".
posted by sudama at 4:31 PM on July 19, 2000

The poor and the rich have been with us since time began, when ever that was, and will be with us when it ends. The cycle of your parents is hard to break out of, whether they be rich or poor. Skin color has nothing to do with it.

Every country in the world has people that are considered rich or poor by their standards. The "right" to do with your money what you want exists, can not get around that. The "right" to complain about what the rich do with their money also exists.

This conversation could go on forever and will never be resolved here or anywhere else for that matter. But we have the "right" to do it.
posted by bjgeiger at 8:56 PM on July 19, 2000

The difference is one of fundamentals: Plato warned that the attempts of the poor to transcend their poverty would only lead to misery (and to be quite honest, he was pretty much on the mark); trouble is, the USA was founded on the assumption that everyone starts with a blank slate. And while that might have been basically true for John Locke in the 1690s, given that he was talking to (and about) a white, middle-class demographic, it's patently not the case today.
posted by holgate at 9:15 PM on July 19, 2000

The poor and the rich have been with us since time began, when ever that was, and will be with us when it ends. The cycle of your parents is hard to break out of, whether they be rich or poor. Skin color has nothing to do with it.

Be that as it may, when skin color plays any role in determining who is rich and who is poor, this is injustice. This I condemn.
posted by sudama at 9:32 PM on July 19, 2000


The Nazi thing may have been uncalled for. I had meant to say Fascist, 'cause compassionate fascist is the current joke on conservatives in Doonesbury. So, I mispoke, I don't think you're a Nazi. Degenerate capitalist pig, maybe :)

Anywho, give a call to a drug company. Ask them how long, for instance, their patents last. Now compare that with the average patent...what will you see? As a society we have decided that medicines are important enough to the health our our country and citizenry that we take them out of the hands of these companies sooner.

The comparison, which nobody seemed to get, was that people would FEEL outraged by dumping a valuable medecine in the water. Maybe you wouldn't, but you also think sympathy is weak, and insincere. Yet (and if you look back to my original post, it'll be easy to see how this relates) people don't feel outraged when people waste money, which in society is as, if not more, valuable than medecine.

I scored perfect left on the little biased libertarian diamond thing. Anarchist socially, Socialist economically.

posted by Doug at 6:47 AM on July 20, 2000

Doug: I might not be outraged, but I would not approve of the waste. I never liked the wasteful house much either. Now we can all be friends again.
Congratulations on your perfect score.
posted by thirteen at 7:51 AM on July 20, 2000

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