Meta-Blog

SEARCH QandO

Email:
Jon Henke
Bruce "McQ" McQuain
Dale Franks
Bryan Pick
Billy Hollis
Lance Paddock
MichaelW

BLOGROLL QandO

 
 
Recent Posts
The Ayers Resurrection Tour
Special Friends Get Special Breaks
One Hour
The Hope and Change Express - stalled in the slow lane
Michael Steele New RNC Chairman
Things that make you go "hmmmm"...
Oh yeah, that "rule of law" thing ...
Putting Dollar Signs in Front Of The AGW Hoax
Moving toward a 60 vote majority?
Do As I Say ....
 
 
QandO Newsroom

Newsroom Home Page

US News

US National News
Politics
Business
Science
Technology
Health
Entertainment
Sports
Opinion/Editorial

International News

Top World New
Iraq News
Mideast Conflict

Blogging

Blogpulse Daily Highlights
Daypop Top 40 Links

Regional

Regional News

Publications

News Publications

 
The American Dream: still in reach
Posted by: Jon Henke on Friday, February 15, 2008

Geekpress has a fascinating post on an experiment conducted by Adam Shepard. After reading Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickel and Dimed", which told a story of the futility of trying to make it as a poor person, Shepard decided to find out just how possible it was to rise out of desperate poverty without using his contacts or his education.
He decided to start from the very bottom of the economic ladder, with "a gym bag, $25, and little else". He moved into a homeless shelter "on the wrong side of the tracks in Charleston, S.C." He set as his goal "to have a furnished apartment, a car, and $2,500 in savings within a year" without relying on his education or his former contacts.

He worked his way out of poverty, found work as a day laborer, made new friends, and landed a steady job at a moving company. He had to quit his experiment after 10 months because of learning of an illness in his family, "[b]ut by then he had moved into an apartment, bought a pickup truck, and had saved close to $5,000."
As Geekpress points out, "character, attitude, and work ethic" play a significant role in achievement. I'd argue that they are far more important than the "social injustice" factors, and yet social welfare policy almost completely ignores that, creating very detrimental moral hazards.
 
TrackBacks
Return to Main Blog Page
 
 

Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
without relying on his education
I get how he did not use his education on a resume to get a good job, but seriously, even as a laborer, how can you not use your education?
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Yeah, he may have been able to shed his contacts and education but his white privilege will always be with him.
as an aside i emailed this to a friend of mine from Alaska that had retired in Coos Bay. He said, "the Eugene newspaper had a big article on it." Some guy mad $60,000 a year panhandling.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know if it addresses the following points.

First, his education did matter immensely. I presume he pretended, when applying for these jobs, that he only had a high school degree or less. But he had in fact a college degree, and that meant he had skills and knowledge that would allow him to navigate the bureaucracy better, and to subsist better (for instance, knowledge of the basics of budgeting), than the average person existing at or below the "poverty" level.

Second, he had no family obligations—no child to support, no parent to look after, no sibling expecting him to help them. Often enough, the first member of a family to break out of poverty is faced with close relatives who feel, justly or not, that he should help them because he is better off.

The Will Smith movie that came out a few months ago made something very much like this point, didn’t it? And it certainly addressed the latter point, if not the former point.
 
Written By: kishnevi
URL: http://
for instance, knowledge of the basics of budgeting), than the average person existing at or below the "poverty" level
OH PLEASE.

You’re telling me that an average person at or below the poverty level doesn’t know the basics of budgeting? A child knows it when they get allowance.

(Now if they apply that common sense is another story, but please don’t tell me having a college education suddenly makes you a budgeting whiz)
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
"allow him to navigate the bureaucracy better,"

What bureaucracy? He started as a day laborer, then found a job working for a moving company. Neither involves any bureaucracy, or any other paper work requiring more than basic literacy.

"and to subsist better (for instance, knowledge of the basics of budgeting), than the average person existing at or below the "poverty" level"

Just how much education do you think it takes to figure out that you cannot afford to eat filet mignon if you are making minimum wage?

These things require intelligence and common sense, not education. How do you suppose people survived and prospered for most of human history? If you wish to argue that poor people are stupid, then say so.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I get how he did not use his education on a resume to get a good job, but seriously, even as a laborer, how can you not use your education?
One assumes that he means he didn’t use the advanced education he got, not that he didn’t take advantage of the rudimentary education that every American can receive. The purpose is to demonstrate that one doesn’t have to be privileged to succeed, not that one can succeed without ever receiving any formal education.
But he had in fact a college degree, and that meant he had skills and knowledge that would allow him to navigate the bureaucracy better, and to subsist better (for instance, knowledge of the basics of budgeting), than the average person existing at or below the "poverty" level.
I’m going to speculate that the average person at or below poverty level would be quite offended to hear that they lack the intellectual capability for counting, spelling or basic personal interaction. No doubt some people do lack those skills, but I am skeptical that the "average person existing at or below the poverty level" is as mentally disabled as you seem to assume.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
"even as a laborer, how can you not use your education?"

Quite easily. Perhaps you can give us an example or two of how he would need his college, or even high school, education.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Funny thing; I’d have expected Oliver to be in here nipping at Jon’s heels.

Your thought on the matter are quite correct, Jon. Attitude is all.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Yes, but did he do it while smoking Kools?
 
Written By: Ronnie Gipper
URL: http://
kishnevi wrote:
Second, he had no family obligations—no child to support, no parent to look after, no sibling expecting him to help them.
On the other hand, it meant he had zero support base, with no previous contacts at all to help him if he got in a bind. His existence in a vacuum cuts both ways.

I’m of the mind that each author’s preconceived notions are what mattered most - Ehrenreich probably assumed she would fail due to the evils of capitalism etc. and did so. Shephard, on the other hand, probably went into this experiment believing in the ’American dream,’ planning to succeed, and thus did so.
 
Written By: James O
URL: http://
Why bother with the experiment. Just go talk to immigrants. I arrived to the U.S. with a shirt on my back and spoke no English. I consider myself in the upper middle class now. This is the story that repeated itself a million time in the history of this great nation.

Speaking of family obligations; both of my parents were janitors, my uncle and aunts were (and still are) janitors. My uncle and aunt is even more successful. They put three kids through medical school.

"The American Dream" is a misnomer. It is not a dream. It is a reality.
 
Written By: Minh-Duc
URL: http://
I’m going to speculate that the average person at or below poverty level would be quite offended to hear that they lack the intellectual capability for counting, spelling or basic personal interaction. No doubt some people do lack those skills, but I am skeptical that the "average person existing at or below the poverty level" is as mentally disabled as you seem to assume.
There is an appalling amount of ignorance out there, but, no doubt you’re right and the lack is not in intellectual capability. Rather the lack is in confidence. In knowing when a form doesn’t make sense that its badly written not that you can’t get it. In knowing when your boss tries to cheat you that he’s wrong, not you. In knowing that when a high school principal tells you that you can’t appeal his decision to expell you, that he’s lying and that you can drum up support to over turn it.

Also there is a difference between working minimum wage, or close to it, jobs for a year to prove a point, and working them for the foreseeable future.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
As an employer of 50 service sector employees in Canada, I would like to weigh in on this subject.

In my view, the Geekpress story gets it right. Character, attitude and work ethic (CAW) may not be enough to allow you to emulate the lifestyles we see on TV, but an effective combination of CAW will get you out of a minimum wage existence in short order, especially given the labour market since the early 1990’s.

I have had numerous employees who have not finished high school, who had the aptitude to earn more money (merit increases, promotions) simply by arriving to work on time, providing notice for absences and getting along with other staff. They couldn’t do it, and I had to fire them because I cannot run my business with staff that won’t show up to work or cannot follow standard rules of conduct.

The simple truth is that there will always be a certain significant percentage of the population that find it difficult perform at acceptable levels to keep entry level jobs, let alone be considered for promotion.

To the social justice crowd, this shades of grey reality doesn’t square with their blinkered, populist view of the way things are. Perhaps employers should be more vocal, providing additional understanding to the public before policymakers create laws and regulations that will likely make worse the problems they are intended to solve.


 
Written By: JasperPants
URL: http://
"But, but, but, .... We must save them."
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
This is another joke, right?

Mr. Henke once advocated for George Allen. I think he was even paid to do so.

George Allen is, and always was, a racist buffoon. That Mr. Henke agreed to advoate on his behalf says everything one would need to know about his judgment and analytical skills. And, accordingly, his opinion.

I hope no one is taking this post seriously. Captain Sarcastic makes the most obvious point.

Henke’s reply?
One assumes that he means he didn’t use the advanced education he got, not that he didn’t take advantage of the rudimentary education that every American can receive. The purpose is to demonstrate that one doesn’t have to be privileged to succeed, not that one can succeed without ever receiving any formal education.
Why would Mr. Henke assume that? Mr. Henke is being ridiculous. And his last point is even more ridiculous.

What world does Mr. Henke live in? Of course education matters, regardless of privilege.

This kind of armchair nonsense went out of vogue when All in the Family went off the air. Guess Macaca, I mean Henke, never got the message.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Good grief, MK ... that’s just a terrible try. it makes no sense whatsoever.

Into the sauce tonight are we?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net
You know, I find myself agreeing with MK on this one.

College education is wonderful stuff. It confers upon one an inner light, a shining halo that once acquired, can never be removed. It has many effects, but the most important one is the fact that people fall over themselves to give you money. Take a job, sit there and do nothing, show up late, assault your co-workers, doesn’t matter. The Education Aura renders people helpless but to just throw money at you.

They don’t even know why they’re doing it. They can’t help themselves. It’s just that good.

It is a well-known fact that college-educated professional movers are able to move three times more stuff in the same amount of time than a merely high-school-educated mover.

Of course, white skin is best for this effect, as the darker your skin, the less of this shining inner light is absorbed and can’t be seen by others, so naturally the issue of racial inequality is the first thing that leaps to mind when discussing the education gap. Obviously, albinism is best.

Is it any wonder why college degrees are so sought after? Why, people with mere high school educations can’t compete with these walking gods among men, these paragons of moral virtue, these shining exemplars of the human race. It’s not just that they shouldn’t hide their light under a bushel; it is that they can’t.

MK and tom scott are right. The college educated are just... better people, and there’s just no way that they could hide that fact. This experiment is therefore fatally flawed. Of course he was successful, it was his destiny as an educated man.
 
Written By: Jeremy Bowers
URL: http://www.jerf.org/iri
Quite easily. Perhaps you can give us an example or two of how he would need his college, or even high school, education.


It’s not a matter of need, I never said need, I asked how he could not use his college eduacation. Here is an example of what I mean.

When my wife was pregnant with our first child, I took a job as a kind of laborer/gopher on a construction project. I had a full time day job, but this job was perfect because of a rushed schedule, they worked until midnight every night, so I could go straight from my real job to this gig. It would last about three months and that worked out for me. I was looking to put some more cash in savings before the baby was born. My job was essentially to do what was asked of me. Some jobs were more complex than others and required more direction and others required more reporting. I had better comprehension and communication skills than the other workers, so I was always chosen for the most complex jobs. I did not do this on purpose, I was just looking for a paycheck, but I also could not pretend not to understand the directions. By the end of the project, I was essentially doing a carpenters job, building frames and hanging drywall. It’s not that the others were not capable, but since it was easier to teach me than them, I was advantaged. When the project was over, the contractor asked me to work full time, at significantly higher pay. I had advanced past the rest of the workers. (I did not take the job, as it was not nearly as much as I was making in my day job, but it was nice to get the offer.)

Innate intelligence is a huge factor, you don’t need an education at all to be smart on some level. But if you take two people with esentially equal innate intelligence and work ethic, and give one of them a college education, there will be advantages across the board.

My main thought on this, is that it’s not so much education, or affluence, but simply good parenting that can put a person in positon to compete and win in the marketplace.

The saddest thing are the numebr of kids who simply don’t have real parents, they jsut have one or two people in their house that work all day and send them to day care, or have them let themselves into an empty where they watch tv for 60 hours a week. 70% of American two-parent households have two full time workers. Many are affluent, many are not, but I believe that in general, this is a disadvantage for people entering the workforce. Not always, as some kids will learn indepedence and excel, just in general.

The point of the exercise is not lost on me, I don’t disagree that simple effort can make a lot of difference, but this guy used his education, it would be impossible for him not too have. Plus, he had a finite schedule for this existence. I wonder if he would have been so dedicated if this was just his life, period, and he did not have a cushier life awaiting him. Perhaps he might have tried to enjoy the life part of his life a little more, and maybe, treated himself to rims on his Caddy?
College education is wonderful stuff. It confers upon one an inner light, a shining halo that once acquired, can never be removed. It has many effects, but the most important one is the fact that people fall over themselves to give you money. Take a job, sit there and do nothing, show up late, assault your co-workers, doesn’t matter. The Education Aura renders people helpless but to just throw money at you.
Dude, are you forget the secret oath you signed when you graduated from college, swearing on your 401k that you would not reveal our secret benefits?

 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
OK, MK is a close second to Willis.
I am vindicated.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Showing up is 90% of life. Jasper is completely correct that if you are a diligent, on-time employee, even if you are of average intelligence, you will have a decent job. It does not take a college degree to do most jobs - I am not sure what course work I took that would give me an edge in being a house mover. But I would guess moving companies would love an employee who was on-time and worked hard rather than a flake with a philosophy degree.

By the way, in most high schools they teach Home Economics which should have taught everyone how to do a budget, use a checkbook, etc.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Reading through the comments in Nickel & Dimed at amazon.com it looks like that author only worked low paying jobs for a few weeks here and there over several months, moved twice, smoked pot, and even managed to call in sick a few times.

Also, it might be useful to note that only 2% of the labor force works for minimum wage at any given time.

"But if you take two people with esentially equal innate intelligence and work ethic, and give one of them a college education, there will be advantages across the board."

You have to be kidding. You really think that college helped you hang drywall better? Let’s even imagine trigonometry to be useful in construction, that could be learned in high school, not college. In any event we could find identical twins and run this experiment.

Oh, and by the way, if the one twin went into construction right after high school, while you did 4 years of college, guess who would be the better worker once you started competing?

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
kishnevi does have a point about family obligations. This is not to say that Mr. Shepard’s experiment would have to fail if he had a dependent, but it could change things quite a bit.

 
Written By: J Sterlace
URL: http://
But if you take two people with esentially equal innate intelligence and work ethic, and give one of them a college education, there will be advantages across the board.
Harun is right, Cap. The advantage of the one with the college education is that he will be eligible for more jobs involving less labor. There is nothing in a college education that will make one better at hanging drywall or moving furniture. I can’t believe you would even suggest otherwise.
 
Written By: J Sterlace
URL: http://
"Also there is a difference between working minimum wage, or close to it, jobs for a year to prove a point, and working them for the foreseeable future."

What is that difference and why is it relevant?



" I hope no one is taking this post seriously. Captain Sarcastic makes the most obvious point"

That working as a day laborer requires a college degree??? Gee, I guess all those illegal immigrants who do the jobs Americans won’t do are better educated than I thought. I certainly take this post more seriously than I do your comment.



"I had better comprehension and communication skills than the other workers,"

Purely due to your college education. I dislike bragging, but I daresay my comprehension and communication skills were above average even before college. I think that is how I got into college.

"It’s not that the others were not capable"

That is the point. Thank you. You may have had some advantage due to your education, but the whole point of this post is that it is possible to succeed without a college education, i.e. it is not a necessary condition for advancement.

"and give one of them a college education, there will be advantages across the board."

That may be true, but it is irrelevant to this post.

"Plus, he had a finite schedule for this existence. I wonder if he would have been so dedicated if this was just his life, period, and he did not have a cushier life awaiting him."

I refer you to Minh-Duc’s excellent comment, which also applies to millions of native-born Americans.

I have known enough people with and without educations to know that there are factors more important to success than education or even intelligence. Education is not even a sufficient condition for making a good life for yourself, much less a necessary one.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Confreaking-radulations. The guy worked cr*p jobs for less than a year and managed to stay in the black and own an apartment. Who would have guessed that that would be possible, right? Here, in an America, you can work cr*p jobs, and - firmly fixed on proving your point in a journalistic experiment - *not* go bankrupt or die... over a year! Hooray! America is BACK!!!

Seriously, Jon, can’t you see how ridiculously weak this confirmation is? No one claims - certainly not Barbara Einhenrich - that working low-wage jobs in America is a death sentence. The guy worked cr*p jobs and freaking survived. I don’t think anyone disputes that it is possible to survive. But is that the American dream, exactly? That you can work dead-end jobs and not starve to death before your natural time of passing? I thought it was a dream of upward mobility.

That seems to have not been demonstrated in this book. Eh?
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Um, glasnost, the guy went from homeless to an apartment, from walking to having a truck, and from $25 in his pocket to $2500 in the bank. How is that not upward mobility? What is it that suggests to you that he would not have advanced any further, but merely eked out a life of bare survival, if he had continued the experiment?
 
Written By: infidel91
URL: http://
One difference is that it is "he" not "she". Women can not usually live in shelters without them having children or being mentally ill. If they have no immediate family, they have to maintain their own apartment from the outset. In some places day laborers make more money than days work (housekeeping and or babysitting)or even a steady job in a hotel laundry. Women usually have to have more skills to get jobs that pay enough to move out of poverty. I would be curious to know how much Sheppard was paid hourly at that moving company.

When Sheppard filled out the application for that job, it was legible, the information required was written in the right place, every word was probably spelled correctly and the description of his experience was coherent. Even at the interview, his demeanor, confident and competent, would probably be quite different than most other laborers, simply because he has a college education.

I don’t see this as comparing apples to apples.
 
Written By: VRB
URL: http://hathor-sekhmet.blogspot.com
I’m going to speculate that the average person at or below poverty level would be quite offended to hear that they lack the intellectual capability for counting, spelling or basic personal interaction. No doubt some people do lack those skills, but I am skeptical that the "average person existing at or below the poverty level" is as mentally disabled as you seem to assume.

They don’t lack the intelligence, but very often (thanks to our wonderful public schools) they lack the education: they were never taught, or they were cutting class on the few days that the teacher actually taught something worthwhile. And very often they don’t understand the concept of budgeting and savings because they’re used to living hand to mouth—they enjoy today with what they have today, and face the problems of tomorrow tomorrow.

BTW, I mentioned bureaucracy in my original comment because Shephard had used food stamps for a period during his experiment.

And think of this.
Think for a minute. Suppose you’re presented with two applications for the same job. You don’t know that applicant 1 has attended some college, and applicant 2 barely managed to graduate his (ghetto neighborhood) high school, since that page is missing from the applications.
Applicant 1’s form contains mispellings, shows poor to bad handwriting, and contains answers which indicate he misunderstood the question. Applicant 2’s form is typed, contains no mispellings, and all the answers are relevant to the questions.

Which one would you guess to be better educated? Which one would you call first for the job?
 
Written By: kishnevi
URL: http://
Which one would you guess to be better educated? Which one would you call first for the job?
I wouldn’t guess about education, just that Applicant #2 cared enough about the job and respected his prospective employers enough that he took the time to fill out the application properly and neatly.

In fact, I would think even lower of #1 if I knew that he’d attended some college, where #2 barely graduated high school.

 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
What is that difference and why is it relevant?
It is the difference between going camping with a home to come back to versus living in the woods.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
I wasn’t going to say anything but really, some of the commentary is outright arrogant and ignorant.

I (a female) didn’t graduate from high school. No one in my immediate family has. I didn’t graduate because I ran away at age 16, taking my little sister with me because daddy was just a little too "affectionate" with her. So, at 16, I had a kid to support. Actually, in some respects it was easier than it sounds. Before I left home, I had six brothers and sisters to take care of. I felt guilty for years, for abandoning them.

I worked hard to support us. First at Jack in the Box, third shift because I made 35 cents an hour more. We lived in a trailer outside of town. I couldn’t afford a car so I rode a bicycle. It was hard to save money for a car too because of my sister. I did everything I could to keep her in school and have as near a normal life I could make for her. She got appendicitis. It took me over three years to pay for her operation. Add urinary tract infections and birth control pills (she was definitely hard to manage in ways I wasn’t). I suppose we could have gotten medicaid but we were living in fear, hiding from my father.

Long story short, I’m fairly successful now. I wrote the "blue book" of my industry, I’m kind-of sort-of famous, well known in my trade. I write full time; I don’t earn six figures but real close to it. I never did graduate from high school. I’m not proud of that but it was the only life and choice I had.

I remember at the time, even then, knowing I was bound for a different life than everyone else I knew at the time, in spite of my lack of education and my daily hardships. I think my biggest advantage was being articulate. I read a lot. My biggest deficit was diffidence. Having an education affords one inner confidence and sense of self, the wherewithal to stand up for oneself. I was taken advantage of repeatedly that the man in this example could never have been.

In sum, yes, you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps (assuming you have boots to start with, many don’t) but you’d do a supreme disservice to many disadvantaged people to assume it would be this easy, as it was for this gentleman. That would be untrue and unkind. Please be compassionate and charitable. It’s not as easy as it sounds.
 
Written By: bootstrapper
URL: http://
They don’t lack the intelligence, but very often (thanks to our wonderful public schools) they lack the education
Give me a freakin’ break.

The majority of Americans don’t have a college education. According to your standards, they should all be living under bridges fighting the crows for road kill.

People without college educations are not illiterate imbeciles. Several of the commenters here have some serious elitism issues.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
In sum, yes, you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps (assuming you have boots to start with, many don’t) but you’d do a supreme disservice to many disadvantaged people to assume it would be this easy, as it was for this gentleman. That would be untrue and unkind. Please be compassionate and charitable. It’s not as easy as it sounds
Nobody said it was easy. But it’s there to be done. Plenty of people with more advantages at the outset have wound up doing worse than others have in life because of their actions, while people with far less advantages at the outset have become very successful because of their drive to succeed.



 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
This debate is not about either/or, but over degrees of difference.

The question isn’t whether it is possible to pull oneself up from next to nothing, but how hard is it to do, for whom, and how much can we generalize from Shepard’s experiment.

I don’t think there are easy answers to this one, though I do come down on the side that people are more resourceful and resilient than our society currently credits. To an extent this is self-fulfilling prophecy. I would prefer to see more messages like Adam Shepard’s and fewer like Jerry Springer’s.
 
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
"Which one would you call first for the job?"

I imagine that is a real dilemma for those hiring laborers, since so many college graduates are competing for those jobs.


" It’s not as easy as it sounds"

I don’t think anyone is saying it is easy, just that it is not as impossible as some are saying. As far as not having a HS diploma, you have more than enough to be proud of; no need to fret about not having one. You certainly have my respect.

"Several of the commenters here have some serious elitism issues. "

I’ll second that. Having done a fair amount of those jobs myself with and without a college education, and having hired and fired a few, I know d%m well there are more important predictors of a good employee than a college degree or even a HS diploma. Even being glib and articulate with good communication skills is not a guarantee of a superior employee. These things may sometimes get you in the door, but they don’t get you references, promotions, raises, or even continued employment. There is no college class I ever heard of that teaches good work habits, a good attitude, the ability to get along and work well with other people, and a few other skills more important than having some piece of paper.

 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
One difference is that it is "he" not "she". Women can not usually live in shelters without them having children or being mentally ill. If they have no immediate family, they have to maintain their own apartment from the outset.

Can you explain this more? Are you saying that shelter operators are discriminating on the basis of sex and will not allow single women to use the shelter, or are you saying that the male homeless create such an atmosphere that women won’t go to these shelters or is there another explanation?
 
Written By: James
URL: http://
James,
Providers don’t allow co-ed shelters. I am not saying that there aren’t any shelters that take single women, who are just homeless, but I don’t know of any in my city. Most shelters for women are geared to those who are mentally ill, have drug problems, hiding from abusive husbands and women who have children.

I remember once working in a factory sewing jeans during summer break from college, having a high school diploma didn’t make me stand out or give me the ability to sew faster than the other ladies. It was a minimum wage job and the only way I could make more money was to sew more bundles above the quota. It was hard work to make the quota each day and my ability might have improved slightly over time, but it would not have been any harder work. If you are in a job like that when you are just a cog, just how are you going to work harder to advance. Everyone follows the rules; just how do you stand out. You sew a little faster and when you get enough years you may be considered for the line leader. The manufacturing supervisor is not hired from the ranks of your job. The only way you can advance is to leave. During that time if a woman had too many jobs, it was held against her. Now, she may settle in a job, just because it has health insurance. The reason I keep mentioning women is because they represent most of the poor and the working poor at that.
 
Written By: VRB
URL: http://hathor-sekhmet.blogspot.com
If you doubt that the apologists for the less-educated, familially-burdened, and finanically-disadvantaged really believe that their "comrades" lack the common sense required to perform basic budgeting or to understand the simple instructions that govern physical labor, examine the very nature of these excuses.

As has been already exposed in previous comments, these excuses carry with them the implication that without a diploma/degree, without freedom from "unchosen" family obligations, and without being born with a silver spoon, successful people wouldn’t be successful. Everyone is equally stupid - some are just socio-economically lucky.

This is a simple implication that any intellectually honest person - regardless of background - would realize in a matter of moments. In fact, it is much simpler than managing personal finances, telling your lazy relatives to shove off, and amassing dreams that involve climbing out of the poverty of one’s birth.

Evidently, the apologists really do believe that people - especially poor people - really are that stupid. Why else would they attempt to camoflauge such an obvious implication with such shoddy excuses?

The entire point of the article’s experiment was to show that intelligence, education, and socio-economic status are irrelevant. Character is what counts. Anyone who would attempt to evade this fact, or be taken in by someone else’s sophisticated arguments for evasion, lacks character and nothing else.



 
Written By: Grant Williams
URL: http://
Well, Grant, that opens a whole other can of worms that perhaps should be discussed: there’s a(n) (in-)famous, controversial book out there that posits that success is more closely correlated to innate intelligence than to any other factor. It also cites statistics that the 18% of people who have degrees are nearly a standard deviation more intelligent, on average, than the population mean.

I doubt anyone has actually done studies to see if day-laborers or movers with high IQs are better or more successful than those with lower. Are there strategies or efficiencies that such workers might notice that can improve their performance? Regardless, as has been pointed out above, if they learn faster, know to show up on time, etc., then they’ll tend to do better than people who don’t.

Just throwing that thought into the mix....
 
Written By: Wiz
URL: http://
Wiz: No, that can of worms should not be opened. The Bell Curve’s finding are not relevant to the controversy. I don’t know if there’s statistical proof (in my opinion, an oxymoron) that white collar workers are smarter than blue collar; and I don’t care.

The excuse makers are not (at least not yet) explicitly demanding that the effects of superior intelligence be equalized by government intervention; they’re demanding the equalization of the effects of a simpler nature.

If real discrepencies between intelligence and socio-economic status exist, no amount of government intervention can change them. The only thing that the government can and does effect through the myriad of labor laws, pro-union laws, minimum wage laws, unemployment/workmen’s comp laws, welfare programs, "progressive" tax structures, et cetera, is the equalization of modern life’s basic necessities.

All that this guy’s experiment did was to show that, even within America’s massive welfare state and it’s shrinking system of free enterprise, these things can still be had without government intervention. All that it requires is personal integrity.
 
Written By: Grant Williams
URL: http://
I guess that upward mobility is another of those jobs that Americans won’t do.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

 
Add Your Comment
  NOTICE: While we don't wish to censor your thoughts, we do blacklist certain terms of profanity or obscenity. This is not to muzzle you, but to ensure that the blog remains work-safe for our readers. If you wish to use profanity, simply insert asterisks (*) where the vowels usually go. Your meaning will still be clear, but our readers will be able to view the blog without worrying that content monitoring will get them in trouble when reading it.
Comments for this entry are closed.
Name:
Email:
URL:
HTML Tools:
Bold Italic Blockquote Hyperlink
Comment:
   
 
Vicious Capitalism

Divider

Buy Dale's Book!
Slackernomics by Dale Franks

Divider

Divider