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Snakes

6 Things Rich People Need to Stop Saying

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While it's a Cracked.com article, the points are well-made here. Mind you, it's David Wong, which probably explains why I found it so funny and accurate in the first place.

Anyhow, this isn't an article that bashes rich people for being rich, which is what one might expect from the title. Instead, it explains why it's so frustrating for the common person (AKA: most of us, or to put it in more volatile terms, the 99% clique) to hear the wealthy say the things they do. I thought it might be interesting to hear all of your thoughts on this.

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What is with these "Shit X says to Y" and "N Things X say" themes that are popping up everywhere lately?

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There's a lot of crap in this article.

The main reason I oppose higher taxes on the wealthy and corporate taxes is not because I think they're being treated unfairly (though I do believe that to a degree). It's because I don't believe it will work.

I can understand society's temptation to close the gap between the rich and poor by redistributing wealth so that we can reduce poverty-related crime and disease. I can especially understand the compassionate element. But the idea that we can increase our economy's overall wealth, and very ability to support the poor, by taxing productivity and subsidizing inactivity, is just plain silly.

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They forgot to list wealthy celebrities encouraging the average citizen to give money to charity. That one really gets up my nose. I can appreciate how having a famous face spearheading some campaign might generate interest in said campaign, but why don't YOU give up your vast fortune before you tell me to give money that I don't have.

But yeah, great article.

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I like #5 but I gotta disagree with #4

#5 I like a lot because I know a lot of people in my particular field of work who drastically overwork themselves and only make a small fraction more than I do. I do some pretty hard work and full weeks too, but I'm also young and pretty well-adjusted to it, compared to some older folk who are single parents, and/or overweight. At my job, you can be quick on your feet, resolve crises, clean the store inside and out, and reorganize all the files, and still get paid as much as the guy who stood around picking his nose all night.

Logically, I understand where the writer is coming from for point #4, especially with the 10 hobos and one bottle of whiskey analogy. However, the truth is there are a lot of high paying careers that are in high demand. There are a lot of dangerous cities that don't have enough police officers, and not enough doctors, and various other high-paying positions with few qualified people to fill.

The opportunities are definitely there, so if you're poor and basing your poorness on the logic that there is not excess money left to distribute, then you're sorely mistaken.

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It would be an interesting article, if it wasn't so US-centric. Many of the core values mentioned in that article (like hard-working, land of opportunity, high-demand markets etc.) are simply not applicable 1:1 elsewhere. For example, the element of networking and political connections/favours as a factor is entirely missing from that article, which probably (?) is a good thing.

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"Well, $500,000 a Year Might Sound Like a Lot, but I'm Hardly Rich."

No argument, the quoted line is stupid and ridiculous. Any revenue above $150.000 per year per individual is almost immoral IMHO ; almost, because obviously some people can do great things for society with their own capital they wouldn't be able to otherwise.

"Hey, I Worked Hard to Get What I Have!"

I can empathize with certain professions being way underpaid for the amount of effort some people put into it. Nurses is one of the best examples.

On the other hand, the article seems to imply everyone works just as hard, which is bullshit. Let's face it, the average western country citizen is content to sit on their ass and browse the Internet, hang out in pubs, socialize, do whatever but work once their absolute minimum is done, and even while they're supposedly working they'll milk the hell out of coffee breaks, "reunions" that are just excuses for everyone to hop on their smartphone and chat up friends or family, or generally doing anything with the least effort and as slow as possible.

There are people working hard all over the job spectrum, and as unpopular as that fact might be, a bit more at the high end than at the low end, but regardless of what part you're looking at it's always a minority.

Think how many times you have seen the following situation in your professional life: something needs to get done, and yet it doesn't happen for months, the person or team in charge always claims setbacks and various issues. Then the thing is outsourced or something new pops up, and from scratch, as it becomes evident what's already there from the previous team, if there is actually anything, is unusable as a base, it's completed in a matter of days if not hours. The fact is due to skill, intelligence, motivation and a hundred other factors, man-hours efficiency is widely different from individual to individual.

Then, there's also the question what is exactly working hard. There are people who got rich by simply putting long hours at the office and getting lucky over the years, there are others that get there because they consistently push themselves beyond and above - and there are yet more others, perhaps most to be fair, that work hard at gaming the system, and while it's definitely not condonable as a moral position it is undeniably a more proactive attitude, for someone who's goal is earning a lot of money, than clocking in at 7, pushing out at 22, and expecting a bag of cash to fall down the sky one day.

So reducing working hard to the number of hours spent on the job doesn't really work. That's not to say his conclusion is wrong, because, again, most rich people, much like most people, did not work hard to get where they are, and are in fact lucky. He's basically getting to the right conclusion with the wrong reasonment.

"If I Can Do It, So Can You!"

This reads like a semantic debate with both parties blurring the line, and I take issue with both positions.

Obviously, the idea that just because anyone does something, everyone can do it is dumb for a variety of reasons, we are not all born with the same abilities (or disabilities) and we don't all get the same opportunities out of life.

On the flipside, I tend to think most (most, not all) people in western countries now are rich, even if they don't use that term to think about themselves. For example, let's say I compare myself to Napoléon. So he won a bunch of wars, ruled an empire, had impressive power over people... But did he have running water? Was his home as comfortably heated as mine? Could he buy food from almost anywhere in the world at will, and could he keep that food stored for days, weeks without it going bad? Could he talk to anyone he knows regardless of distance instantly? Could he play DOOM? And so on.

I can honestly say I wouldn't trade the various comforts of middle class modern life for the life of an emperor living two centuries ago or even the life of a president living a mere half a century ago. Partly because I'd have died a newborn and another time as a young kid if it wasn't for modern medicine, but even without that, damn. We are spoiled.

The point being, money in itself is worth nothing, and people getting richer doesn't necessarily mean they're taking ressources out of someone's else pocket. We can all have better quality of life. And, at the same time, we can't all be filthy rich and have gigantic pools and mansions, no argument. Still, generally speaking, living standards tend to increase over time.

"You're Just Jealous Because I Made It and You Didn't!"

I think the examples the article listed defeat themselves. Actors, athletes, pop stars are all people who are inherently popular because of their job, and get money as a result of that popularity. It's also easy to do charity when you're a billionaire, because even if you parted with, say, 99% of your net worth, you'd still be left with enough to guarantee your family a wealthy life.

If you're a millionaire - I mean, most people fitting in the millionaire category is going to be at the bottom end of it. If you own your house, a car or two and earn $4.000 a month, it's likely even if you don't save any money at all you're already halfway there. If the choice is between saving money to give your kids a better life than you had and face any family emergencies or giving money to charities, most will go for the first pick and rightfully so if you ask me.

But then, you've got some people earning more than that, and some don't give back to the community, and, yeah, that is definitely wrong. That said, ideally people should have the right as to how to help society with their own money. When the government takes ~60% of what I earn and use that money to spend hundreds of millions on art or overpay deputies so they can have fancy suits and cars, while I cross homeless people on the subway, I'm a bit pissed. Well, thankfully you can always give to charities you know can make a difference and get an appropriate tax deduction, but still. Governments do good things, but they also tend to waste money. It's probably the best system given that so many people only look out for themselves, but it's still frustrating at times.

"You Shouldn't Be Punishing the Very People Who Make This Country Work!"

Firmly on the rich people side there... Well, I think. Because once again when I read the "What They Think They're Saying" and the "What We Hear" parts it seems like I'm reading two unrelated arguments.

Overtaxing people make many of them leave. We (France) lost and lose so many of our brains and skills to the United States for that very reason - I'm not claiming that's the only reason that can make skilled frenchmen moving to the US, obviously, but it is a significant one, along with a society that has, for the last 44 years, derided success, hard work, and plenty of other associated values.

On the other hand, not taxing rich people more than regular folks is obviously silly, but even in the United States I don't think that's actually happening, is it?

People love to talk about fiscal "optimizations" like it's something everyone whose paygrade is above the hourly McDonalds rate does, yet in my experience it's not quite as widespread as that. Although it's one of these topics people like to dodge around, who knows, but I certainly know I have never tried to cheat that way with my own money. Besides, if fiscal optimizations are the problem, target that. Raising the taxes globally just means honest people get screwed while criminals change their tricks.

People should pay more taxes as they get richer. The reality of the system right now is that it peaks very fast, but then as earnings keep growing nothing happens theorically, and in reality the super wealthy get to pay less. "Should" is all well and fine though, but at some point you've got to deal with unfortunate economic and human realities, and balance a tax rate that can be as fair as possible without driving innovation out of your country.

"Stop Asking for Handouts! I Never Got Help from Anybody!"

On this I'm in full agreement with the guy writing this article, so I won't try to repeat his arguments.

I do think social support needs to be carefully balanced. Living in a country with strong safety nets, I've seen so many abuses of the system.

An old man who had been on welfare his whole adult life used to live in a flat a few blocks from my home. He'd ring SAMU every few days or so, prompting an emergency vehicle, the whole deal. Even just one time, it's a costly process. The guy did it about fifty times in a year. And no, he wasn't sick or anything, nor was he a hypochondriac! He just did it to waste "the government's" money, and he laughed about it. Which is, of course, our money as a collectivity, ressources that could have been better spent elsewhere.

Somewhat more common is people who go to see doctors every few days or even daily, ask for prescription drugs, etc. - our social security reimburses can cover up to 100% of the cost to the individual if they haven't got much income. Those people gaming the system are few, but they do it to such an extent the strain on the budget becomes significant.

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AndrewB said:

The main reason I oppose higher taxes on the wealthy and corporate taxes is not because I think they're being treated unfairly (though I do believe that to a degree). It's because I don't believe it will work.

Economists disagree.

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It's easier to tax the poor. They have little money, but there are many of them.

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Bucket said:

Economists disagree.

If you mean the dumbass Keynesians who failed to predict all of the major financial crises over the last 25 years, and the special interests who have had their gears greased by the government bailouts, you're correct.

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Maes said:

It's easier to tax the poor. They have little money, but there are many of them.

A technicality here: it's *easier* to tax them because they have little representation and they don't make much noise when you step on them. It's not so easy for them, though, because even when tax rates scale, the cost of necessities doesn't.

AndrewB said:

If you mean the dumbass Keynesians who failed to predict all of the major financial crises over the last 25 years, and the special interests who have had their gears greased by the government bailouts, you're correct.

By "Keynesian", do you mean the economic strategy that got us out of the Depression, kept us afloat after WW2 and didn't prevent this current recession because today's fat cats abandoned it for their own interests?

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Economic policies have been all but Keynesian since the Reagan-Thatcher era.

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Jodwin said:

Which is not at all. ;)

What can I say, some of us enjoy spending time reading meaningless shit about meaningless shit.

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TVTrope was kinda fun when it was new, but it has gotten old fast.

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Gez said:

TVTrope was kinda fun when it was new, but it has gotten old fast.


They changed it and now it sucks? :-p

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Maes said:

They changed it and now it sucks? :-p

Yes. It has become too politically correct and non-critical.

But it's still useful if you like watching cinema/TV or following games' plots.

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Bucket said:

By "Keynesian", do you mean the economic strategy that got us out of the Depression, kept us afloat after WW2 and didn't prevent this current recession because today's fat cats abandoned it for their own interests?


You've been reading too much Paul Krugman.

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I don't agree with the "not everyone gets the same rewards even if they work as hard" argument.

Working hard is not the same as working well.

Haven't people heard of the phrase "work smarter not harder"?

I have heard people complain that rich people don't work hard because they don't always work long hours or in jobs that require lots of physical work, but I fail it see how its relavent.

If people are talented enough then they can accomplish more in 4 hours then unable or incompetent people would in 8. Its not just a matter of effort, but also a matter of skill.

Legions of people probably want to be austronots, and lots of those people probably work really hard in an attempt to make it happen, and yet only extremely few actually have the skill required to actually become one.

I don't get it why people believe that working as hard is the same as working as well or working better.

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hardcore_gamer said:

I don't agree with the "not everyone gets the same rewards even if they work as hard" argument.

Working hard is not the same as working well.


For example, an excellent teacher who works really well will never make as much money as, say, Nick Leeson.

There are jobs that pay a lot. Other jobs that pay peanuts. The quality of the work done by people having these jobs is not proportional to their pay at all, in most cases. The pay is proportional to how much society thinks the job matters.

So, investment banking is extremely important and pays well. Transmitting skills to future generations is not important and pays poorly. Speculating against entire countries is very important. Producing stuff used in daily life is not important. Firing people to replace them by Chinese subcontractors whose workforce is made up of jailed dissidents is immensely important. Performing maintenance work so that people don't have fatal accidents is absolutely not important.

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Or, you know, they just happen to be in an "industry" that does little else than throw money around like it's nothing. In fact, half the time it IS nothing. May as well be Monopoly money.

You've been reading too much Paul Krugman.

I'm not sure why you think your ad hominem is a sound argument, but if there's any stance of his that you want to criticisze on its own merits, I'd love to hear it.

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Gez said:

For example, an excellent teacher who works really well will never make as much money as, say, Nick Leeson.

There are jobs that pay a lot. Other jobs that pay peanuts. The quality of the work done by people having these jobs is not proportional to their pay at all, in most cases. The pay is proportional to how much society thinks the job matters.

So, investment banking is extremely important and pays well. Transmitting skills to future generations is not important and pays poorly. Speculating against entire countries is very important. Producing stuff used in daily life is not important. Firing people to replace them by Chinese subcontractors whose workforce is made up of jailed dissidents is immensely important. Performing maintenance work so that people don't have fatal accidents is absolutely not important.


Isn't the obvious response to this that, those jobs like investment banking, create much more wealth for the people that they work for? Yes, teaching is feel good and very important but at the end of the day, teaching doesn't create a profit. Public money goes into it (I assume we are talking about general public school education), children are taught, then told to move on. Teachers do not create direct wealth and are a dime a dozen. Where are you going to get all of this extra money to reward these people for working in a field important to the future of society?

Investment bankers that can work a system and create millions and millions of dollars for a corporation? They are worth the pay for that company. A star football player that can fill an entire stadium all season and sell thousands of jerseys? They are worth the pay for that company. Specialized engineers, doctors, and lawyers that own their respective fields? They are worth the pay for those companies. An elementary school teacher? A full stack of applications. A handyman or janitor position? A full stack of applications. A general laborer? A full stack of applications.

I'm not saying it is fair, but it makes perfect sense why people who perform skilled jobs that most can't are paid significantly more.

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Ralphis said:

Yes, teaching is feel good and very important but at the end of the day, teaching doesn't create a profit.

Only because we're too shortsighted and impatient to look at the long term. Teaching does create a huge profit, if you use a generation as the timescale, instead of just the next month. Nowadays, "long-term investment" means "maybe a little bit over five years".

And then again, are all the overpaid people really worth that much money? Sure, the people who sign their paychecks (that is to say, quite often, themselves) might think so. But there has been a strong trend over the last decade of top wages increasing a lot, while wealth taxes are decreased, and the average wage itself stagnates.



See the huge javascripted map, too.

Completely coincidentally, at the same time, we have been running from financial crisis to financial crisis while our governments are choking on ludicrous debts and technocrats are appointed by anti-democratic organizations to impose austerity measures over nations ruined by unemployment and fraud.

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AndrewB said:
I can understand society's temptation to close the gap between the rich and poor by redistributing wealth so that we can reduce poverty-related crime and disease.

That's a point-of-view statement rather than a response to national or global economics. As a middle or higher class person the spread of disease and crime coming from less fortunate people may affect you directly, you would like to avoid them. But from a broader social respect, what is health? Isn't poverty or portions of society which become nonproductive and alienated from business a form of massive unhealthiness, which itself nests more diseases, crimes and instability in their strict senses? As far as individuals without many responsibilities are concerned, ignoring those problems and mostly just worrying about not getting AIDS or not getting mugged may make sense in their little world. But anyone who starts to get involved in broader activities starts to respond to more indirect effects, more so if the activity takes place in the long term.

The point of view you're taking is also mimicked by the rich or by private entities because, while they already deal with broader social fronts than particular individuals, they still narrow them down to their relatively immediate interests (mainly their trade and profits). It's the basis of classic economics, as a result, which spread during the renaissance and crystallized during classic modernity, when a new class of merchants enthusiastically spread the new power of their class to counter feudal traditions. With its hegemonic establishment, it sticks to technical aspects and tries to avoid more political questions and debates lest they intrude on that hegemony. They will present themselves as "apolitical" and claim that "science has ended ideologies". Complex mathematical formulas dependent on specialists, which are treated as "objective", supersede over topics on social conflicts or "ideal moralities", that they think can be set aside from economics. The basics still use conceptions of the individual and self derived from the philosophical framework of the 18th and 19th centuries, previous to the bulk of out scientific developments and more recent historical attunements.

I can especially understand the compassionate element. But the idea that we can increase our economy's overall wealth, and very ability to support the poor, by taxing productivity and subsidizing inactivity, is just plain silly.

How are the rich productivity? They're people who nominally got their hands on the titles of sums of cash or "more material" means of production. The workers that get higher wages or better services due to taxes or other means by which they obtain wealth from work also lose incentive when pay is guaranteed to be low for the bulk of them, or when their ability to retain jobs is weak because of a high level of control by the money or business owners. Subsidizing inactivity can mean two things. One, that you are putting more into making things inactive. Two, that you are giving money to those who are inactive. The latter is done so that they will be able to become active. If not, it's simply being done wrong, unless some sector actually needs to chill. Subsides are being placed with the wrong incentives, in the wrong hands, or under inadequate conditions. The former would be the result of bad public policy, either from ignorance or with intent to damage public policy in favor of alternative private means. A historical way to destroy public services is to strangle them first by various means, and use that degradation later as an excuse to put an end to them.

40oz said:
There are a lot of dangerous cities that don't have enough police officers, and not enough doctors, and various other high-paying positions with few qualified people to fill.

But the scarcity of a service and demand aren't the same thing. The former can well be only potential demand. You can have a situation where lots of people want a service yet not many employers are willing to invest on it, or most of those requiring the service can't pay for it at the price it's offered. Especially when governments and companies are cutting costs and there are many unemployed, subemployed, indebted or low-paid potential clients or users.

Maes said:
For example, the element of networking and political connections/favours as a factor is entirely missing from that article, which probably (?) is a good thing.

I'd say that does fit in #4. It's one of the ways the haves leave the have-nots out.

Phml said:
On the flipside, I tend to think most (most, not all) people in western countries now are rich, even if they don't use that term to think about themselves.

Living in the West is more or less like living in the rich neighborhood of Earth, broadly speaking due to its regional framework, but on a global scale. In this sense, "cutbacks" in the West do make sense because otherwise the West just lives off the sweat of the rest of the planet. But well-planned cutbacks which can leave a social consensus (thus economic, national and regional trust and stability) and cutbacks that benefit the ultra rich and the financial system while the middle and lower classes pay for it are two different things.

On the other hand, not taxing rich people more than regular folks is obviously silly, but even in the United States I don't think that's actually happening, is it?

With all the ways people in the financial system can avoid paying up, sure it is.

AndrewB said:
If you mean the dumbass Keynesians who failed to predict all of the major financial crises over the last 25 years, and the special interests who have had their gears greased by the government bailouts, you're correct.

Keynes' ideas are a way to try to fit recent modern economic problematics into the classical or orthodox framework without debating its precepts. As an anecdote to this, I recall Keynes saying something like he preferred the rich over the poor because "good things mostly come from the former". It's like saying "I might be addressing something similar but I'm no commie" in an attempt avoid being stigmatized with that moniker or leaning.

Thus, what under economics that admit socialist considerations requires actions that refer to the rights of the population, in Keynesianism this becomes a mechanic factor in a more abstract system determined "scientifically" or "objectively", just meant to run the "motor of the economy" instead of something that's part of a means of social organization. It's like a way to cheat these issues into a system which is unwilling to deal with them. As a result, it's bound to err by dealing with shadows of the original problems, and be tackled by those frontally assaulting the idea of dealing with them. Without political convictions defending finds that seem incidental and promissory, these easily lose substance, making the more classic orthodox policies just as good or better.

Ralphis said:
I'm not saying it is fair, but it makes perfect sense why people who perform skilled jobs that most can't are paid significantly more.

Well, key highly-paid positions where power (lots of money) is involved are as much or more about loyalty than expertise. Trust can be anything from the person's proven honesty to "I'm going to pay you $40,000 a month and you're going to run this ugly business, because neither of us wants your wife to see those pics of you at Charlie's gaybar".

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That's probably the most poignant Cracked article I've ever read. Very well written.

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