Did Christianity cause the recession?

Hanna Rosin asks at The Atlantic. Or, more to the point, did prosperity theology — Jesus wants you to have a race car! And a pony! — help urge Americans to make some incredibly stupid financial decisions?

And thanks, Right Wing Watch, for the link.

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109 responses to “Did Christianity cause the recession?

  1. I don’t think so. I think most people are just naturally good at buying things when they have a few extra bucks.

    Love that photo of Granny!

  2. Yes!
    Man. That felt good. This blame game has its merits.
    It certainly beats sitting down and actually trying to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. Accountability is always more fun when someone else get to be accountable.
    But I’ll let the Prosperity Preachers take the hit on this one.

    • “None of the problems facing this generation will be solved unless the institutions, social relations and values that legitimate and reproduce current levels of inequality, power and human suffering are dismantled, along with the formative culture that supports them. The very ideal of democracy has been hijacked by casino capitalism and its rampant structures of inequality and power.”
      Henry A. Giroux

  3. …and yet if we even QUESTION capitalism, we’re unpatriotic and anti-American.

  4. Capitalism is not perfect, but I doubt that anybody could, name or think of a better economic system.

    • Socialism, run by fair-minded people. Problem is just about economic system seems to encourage corruption among the turds among us.

      • How is socialism ever fair? Bjorn Borg, Sweden’s favorite son, had to move out of Sweden during his playing days because was getting killed on the socialistic taxes.

        Have you ever seen a genius like Bill Gates come out of a socialistic country? George Soros made most of his money in capitalistic economies.

        All of this talk of economics makes me wish we were back in the 80s Ronald Reagan in office, America was lead by a strong leader, I had two healthy knees, and a big head of hair!

        • No, you can’t broad-brush socialism like that — or the people who grow up in a socialistic country, because socialism as a system has not yet been — in my opinion — successful. Socialism and communism are precisely what the early Christian church tried to practice but there again, I assume people got corrupted and took more than their share. And I had healthy knees and big hair during the Reagan years, too, but I didn’t have a president I’d voted into office.

          • The problem is what you wrote about run by “fair-minded” people…that’s the 787 billion pound elephant in the living room. Why would you want to see socialism if you think it has never been successful?

            DJ, today I have a bad right knee (runner’s knee), not much hair on top, and a Jimmy Carter wanna be that I didn’t vote into office.

            • Maybe because capitalism hasn’t been totally successful either? All the money concentrated in a very small portion of the population? Many people can’t get health care? Those are just at the forefront of the issues right now — just because we HAVE capitalism doesn’t mean it’s right or works anywhere near well.

              • No economic system is perfect, yet in a free market economy you have freedoms that other systems do not allow. What ‘s wrong with private (not government) ownership of the means of production and distribution? When you have private ownership of the factors of production there is a profit motive-profit is not a dirty six-letter word-profit provides jobs, a standard of living, taxable revenues, and better products and services for all of us. In our lifetime look at how the phone has changed. If the government was in the phone business we’d still have corded phone and circular dialing…instead of the little computers we walk around with today.

                Cynical Susan, imagine for a moment that you are a business owner-don’t you as the person who is taking all of the risks want to enjoy the fruits of your labor? Let’s say that you own a bakery-you get to decide what products to sell, the hours of operation, and the growth of your business. Once your bakery is really clicking, you may decide to hire some one …let’s say a nice fellow named Todd to run another bakery in another town…you open the other store to increase profits, provide jobs, and give the community your tasty baked goods. If you decide to close, then the state loses on taxable revenue, that nice guy named Todd loses his job, and the community is forced to buy “baked goods” from Stop and Shop.

                Cynical Susan, the great economist, Adam Smith wrote about the “invisible hand” and how private people will take risks in the hope of creating wealth. Once wealth is created it provides an incentive…with socialism and communism the government dictates how the factors of production will be used.

                • Socialism is not communism.
                  Communism is totalitarian.
                  Socialism is democratic.
                  Be reasonable.

                • I don’t agree with this, Todd, though you addressed it to Cynical Susan. I don’t agree that wealth creates incentive. I think wealth — in this country, anyway — creates more of the same — wealth, and only for a select few. I think we’ve been hesitant to really examine our economic system (our health system, you name it) because those of us who aren’t wealthy harbor this notion that one day? We will be. And we don’t want to remove that “possibility” from ourselves.

                  • Yeah, remember the Trickle – Down guarantee? Just cut our taxes and we PROMISE we’ll try to remember to let a little of our money trickle down to the masses? I think it’s more likely that a wealthy person will use tax savings to invest or to set money aside for heirs, not pump that money into the local economy.

                    Which brings up something else: wealth is made in a lot of ways: the sweat of your brow, working with a shrewd (or lucky) broker, inheriting money from someone who worked hard OR invested well, actually winning that Powerball bonanza, fraud — the possibilities are — well, maybe not endless, but there are a few. Some definitely require hard work, some definitely don’t.

                    I don’t think it’s right to base the quality of one’s life in terms of the basics on whether one’s hard work earns a profit or not, just as I don’t think it’s right to base one’s access to health care on what kind of work he or she does.

                    As a public school teacher I worked hard. It’s not necessary to go into detail — despite the way some people characterize teaching, we all know it’s a hard job. So is nursing, so is maintenance, so are fire-fighting and police work, so are many jobs that have nothing to do with profit (or profit-sharing or high salaries or bonuses or gifts, either).

                    • It’s why I stayed out of all those professions. Too hard. I’m not even kidding.

                    • During Reagan’s Trickle Down years the US economy enjoyed unprecedented success and growth…not my GOP cheerleading…actual facts.

                      Nursing, maintenance, and police salaries are all paid for by successful businesses and citizens that pay taxes…don’t believe me? Look at the state of California.

                    • Cynical Susan

                      “Nursing, maintenance, and police salaries are all paid for by successful businesses and citizens that pay taxes…”

                      No, they all aren’t — not all hospitals and walk-in clinics are publicly-funded; there are maintenance workers at your favorite McDonald’s; and while, yes, most police work for their municipalities, many teachers work in private institutions.

                      The point was not who pays the salaries for these TAX-PAYING citizens, but that these citizens’ hard work will never earn them great fortune. They and those with equivalent jobs (and salary-levels) are the ones who hold up the framework of our society but will not reap great financial benefits.

                    • As a private school educator I am quite aware of where the money comes to pay my salary. My bad on assuming that you meant private institutions when you listed the various jobs.

                      Cynical Susan, correct me if I am wrong…are you insinuating that a maintenance worker at McDonald’s should make 75K per year, have a corner office, and a McCar? You wrote that you were a public school teacher once. Shouldn’t you as a teacher with let’s say 20 +years experience be compensated more than a teacher fresh out of college? You as a veteran teacher have more experience, more to offer your students, and perhaps act as a Dept Chair…so you should make more money…right?

                      One of the great things about the free-enterprise system is that we all have read stories, and or know someone who started out as a maintenance worker, and by working hard-eventually make it to the top. Stories such as that are hard to find in socialistic economies.

                    • Oh no! Todd, don’t go down the path of claiming that maintenance workers can make it to the top with hard work. Those days when that was possible have long passed. My Grandfather did that. He never finished high school. He started out with a job driving a laundry truck and took it before he even learned to drive. He worked hard, served in the military as a marine, came home and worked himself silly until he could buy a business and then another. Had a heart attack in there in the process. But kids now-a-days don’t have those same opportunities. Our country imports more products than it did back then and higher education is required by more jobs than ever before. Stories like my grandfather’s will disappear all together in our capitalistic society or become so rare, it’ll be hard to find one.

                      The truth is, blue collar jobs are usually hard work with little pay-off. A person can work hard their entire life here in a free-enterprise society and never become wealthy. Free enterprise does not reward hard work, it rewards some talents well that do nothing to help society over-all (like sports/entertainment) and it rewards greedy business owners and execs who only care about the bottom-line (to hell with the hard working, lower level employees). I’m exaggerating some, but hopefully you get my point. Money does not have to be the only motivator and free enterprise emphasizing money over the well-being of society. I never thought of myself as a socialist, but may I am. I know nothing is perfect. People can screw up any theoretical model for society.

                    • If you think you’re a socialist, check them out.
                      The Democratic Socialists of America is a good place to start. Their membership includes people like Cornel West, (that Shiloh Baptist) and Gloria Steinem. Their Question and Answer pdf is only part of an excellent resource.
                      SocialistWorker.org is a publication of The International Socialist Organization (ISO). Another excellent resource with contributions from writers like John Pilger, Lance Selfa and Sharon Smith.
                      You’re correct in saying no one economic model has a lock on perfection. Each model creates its own unique set of problems, controversies and tragedy. And there is always the inevitable social issues that occur in whatever political mode is in power at any given time. How the government, our democratic order, responds to those unique tragic factors determines its survivability, its usefulness, to the populous.
                      The problems with capitalism are greed and sloth, (not sloth in the Labor sense, but in the corporate sense…..concentrating on how to make the maximum amount of money with the minimum amount of effort.) Capitalism seeks not to respond to the needs of the electorate, but seeks to control the needs of the electorate. Our government is failing in its responsibility to hold capitalism accountable for its failures, thereby creating a serious, and growing, anti-government attitude, becoming more pervasive, and more vocal in the midst of the current Depression, (from both sides of the political spectrum).
                      The problems with socialism are:
                      1-it hasn’t been tried here yet…
                      2-it clings to its Marxist heritage, creating continuing….
                      3-PR problems casting it as a devil in disguise.

                      Socialists, I think you’ll find, are very inclusive, very open to ideas. It is there where the democratic ideals of Accountability, Transparency and Social Justice survive.

                    • Thank you, leftover!

                    • Those are Party affiliated resources.
                      There’s also:
                      In These Times
                      Znet
                      And the venerable Monthly Review, home to Grace Lee Boggs. Ninety plus years old and still kicking capitalist and racist butt. I love her.

                    • Wow. Where has Grace Lee Boggs been all my life?

                    • I was just thinking the same. Why did I not know of her?

                    • On the street when not at The Monthly Review.
                      An excellent interview with Bill Moyers from 2007.
                      There’s also The boggsblog.org.

                      Responsible intellectuals don’t get much play in the MSM anymore. Especially when they’re avowed socialists.
                      Boggs is history in the flesh. A national treasure.

                    • Wow. I just spent a moment on the blog.

                    • Pretty impressive, isn’t it.

                    • …the blog I mean….

                    • “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
                      -The Elders, Oraibi, Arizona Hopi Nation

                      There’s a talking point.

                    • Get off your ass and do it yourself? Something like that?

                    • @Get off your ass…
                      “See who is in there with you and celebrate.”

                      More like….get off your ass and join in the celebration of community, common ground…

                      “Know the river has its destination.”

                      We can defeat fear when we join together.

                    • Amen. Bro. Leftover!

                    • I knew that. Yes. It is. I’ve added it to my favorites. Where do you find these things?

                    • Ideas.
                      I like ideas.

                    • Are you now or have you ever been? Would you identify yourself as a socialist? I’m pretty sure I lean firmly in that direction, myself.

                    • I probably most closely identify with socialism because of my pro-labor political leanings.
                      But folks have called me a libertarian.
                      Can you be a libertarian democratic socialist?
                      I’ve also been called a paleoconservative and a crunchy conservative, (which sounds like fun, but I’m not sure what it means, exactly).
                      And I’ve been called all sorts of things I won’t bother to repeat here.
                      Ideas.
                      I like ideas.
                      My answer to your question on inspiration would be Cornel West….
                      “…a bluesman in the light of the mind, jazbo in the world of ideas….”

                    • You read that interview with him lately — was it at Slate? I can’t remember now. The guy’s kind of brilliant, ideas-wise.

                    • No. Not yet. I see there’s three or four interviews out there. He’s promoting his new book, a memoir.
                      I need to get caught up.
                      Maybe tomorrow, he laughed, if I can keep myself away from healthcare reform for one day.

            • Ah, the pendulum swings — though you may not get your knee back, you just might get a president you want and I don’t. That’s only fair. I’m not sure capitalism works spectacularly, either. It sure chews up some people, anyway. It creates an underclass whose members have very little hope.

          • I agree that socialism, in particular democratic socialism, has yet to be accepted into our political processes. The stereotypical view constantly used to illustrate the “dangers” of socialism rely on outdated imagery steeped in violent revolution and the dreaded “redistribution of wealth.”

            “Democratic Socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically—to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few. To achieve a more just society, many structures of our government and economy must be radically transformed through greater economic and social democracy so that ordinary Americans can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives.”
            DSA homepage

            It’s about Accountability, Transparency and Social Justice. An end to discrimination in all its forms.

            The longer a privileged few can exploit stereotypes to keep us at each others throats, the longer they can pervert our democratic processes and our culture, exerting their control deep into our everyday lives, the longer they sustain their position, their privilege.
            This is one reason I am so passionate about Single Payer healthcare reform.
            It saves lives, it saves money, and it strikes a telling blow against the injustice and corruption, the tragedy, perpetrated on everyone by a privileged few.
            Look at what Aetna has planned for 2010.
            Aetna Prepares for Loss of 600,000 Members as it Raises 2010 Prices

            Executives say the company can be more profitable by dropping some business — the same decision the plan has made before.

            “There’s a rule of thumb out there that 20% to 25% of the people account for 75% to 80% of health care costs,” he said. “Avoiding that segment is probably the quickest route to making a lot of money.”

            Does that sound like the corporations plan to pay any attention to the neoliberal health insurance legislation currently being debated?
            They need to be removed from the system until such time their profit model changes from one based on denying care, on discrimination, to one based on innovation, efficiency and ingenuity.
            Will that happen?
            Not if we don’t Kill the Bill. And in order to do that, we have to make nice with Republicans.
            Including…..Droopy.
            Ouch!

            • Always there are people who get left out of the process. Actually, they’re more than left out, they’re chewed up. I can’t embrace that.

      • “Today, the richest one percent of Americans has 22 percent of all income and about 40 percent of all wealth. This is the biggest concentration of income and wealth since 1928.”
        Peter Dreier, “Bush’s Class Warfare.”

        “This type of economic inequality is not merely incompatible with a functioning democracy, it makes democracy dysfunctional and corrupt. Just as government can no longer outsource its responsibilities, the American public can no longer allow its political system to be governed by the rich and powerful. Political culture has been emptied of its democratic values and is in free fall, as it is now largely shaped by the most powerful, politically corrupt, socially irresponsible and morally tainted elements of the society.
        ………..
        Any society that endorses market principles as a template for shaping all aspects of social life and cares more about the accumulation of capital than it does about the fate of young people is in trouble. Next to the needs of the marketplace, life has become cheap, if not irrelevant. We have lived too long with governments and institutions that use power to promote violent acts, conveniently hiding their guilt behind a notion of state secrecy or lofty claims to democracy, while selectively punishing those considered expendable – in prisons, collapsing public schools, foster care institutions and urban slums. Under the current regime of free-market casino capitalism, children lack power and agency, and are increasingly viewed as either commodities or simply rendered disposable.”
        Henry A. Giroux

        It’s not about capitalism or socialism. If current neoconservative/neoliberal free market dominion is allowed to evolve unchecked, it’s democracy that will be lost.
        And as Giroux points out, our children are already suffering disproportionately under the stress of free market dominion.

        The deregulation ushered in by Reagan and the neoconservatives, and since bolstered by neoliberals like Kennedy, Carter, Clinton and now Obama, have driven our democracy, our social order, our politics, into complete disarray, much to the delight, and profit, of a privileged few.
        Even the term “free market” denotes a false consciousness, because no market can be truly free, accessible, when so few control the market itself.

      • THANK YOU, Leftover.

  5. From the Department of Disarray:

    “…senior Goldman people have loaded up on firearms and are now equipped to defend themselves if there is a populist uprising against the bank.”
    Bloomberg.com through Common Dreams.

    Keep your powder dry.

  6. “Socialism is a great idea till you run out of other people’s money.”

    -Margaret Thatcher-

  7. As a private school economics teacher, I am far from wealthy…perhaps I didn’t word the above post properly…creation of wealth is only one of the benefits of a free market economy.

    Wealth is defined differently by different people…I am certain that Micheal Jordan’s definition of “wealth” is a lot different than mine. I am also very confident that Jordan’s is different than Bill Gates’ and Warren Buffet’s.

    The socialist motto: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” So this a very fair question to ask: Since tennis players (Borg…from my above post), doctors, lawyers, business owners, and others who make a lot money they should be taxed more because they make so much more than say, a private school teacher? No! Talent and skills should be rewarded…there are a lot more people who can do what I do for a living than what Mr. Borg was able to do back in the 80s. So to continue this…the Swedish tennis player, Swedish doctor, Swedish lawyer and business owner see how much they are taxed…they will want to live in a place that is a bit more tax-friendly. In 1985 Borg moved to Monte Carlo to get away from the cradle-to-grave socialism of Sweden.

    Borg was not Sweden’s lone expatriate…the rock band ABBA, Bjorn Ulvaeus, and IKEA founder, Ingvar Kamprad all left Sweden to avoid the crippling taxes that socialism hands out to the successful.

    • We’ve been the benificiary of many talented people who like our tax structure but what if we started redefining “reward” as something other than wealth? What if I made a buttload of money and knew that my responsibility was to give a great deal of it toward doing good for others?

      • Shouldn’t philanthropic acts be the act of the person who created the wealth? Andre Aggasi has built schools in Nevada with his own money. That was special to him because he dropped out of school to pursue Brooke Shields…opps I meant his tennis career. When the government collects taxes it is able to do as it pleases…while a successful private person is able to ear-mark the money where they see fit. Having read you book, your column, and both blogs I would like to think that yes Susan you would give a great deal of your money to causes that you support…doesn’t that seem smarter than allowing a bunch of bureaucrats the power to distribute the fruits of your success to areas that they feel like?

        • Yeah, but that’s not everyone’s attitude and so people go wanting. I don’t mean to imply I’d be all that generous with my money. I’ve never had that much extra but I do think I’d share.

  8. Don’t you believe since you worked so hard for the money that you should have a say as to where it goes? If we are taxed fairly, and you have some left over then it’s your choice as to where the money is spent…not Obama, Dodd, or Pelosi.

    I realize that the word “fair” is a tricky word…but this is still the greatest country in the world regarding education, medicine, and standard of living…because of a free market economy. I never said that capitalism is perfect…but for the life of me I can’t recall a single time when socialism ever worked.

  9. I’d suggest that you ask yourselves: What would Jesus do? (regardless of your religious beliefs) Or, ask yourselves what would your kindergaren teach would have said. I’m thinking it would have been something like this: “Try your best, share, and be nice.” Everyone contributes in their own way and some get paid a whole lot more for their contributions. I don’t agree that pay is representative of our contribution in a Capitalistic society. The entertainment/sports industry is completely out of whack. Teachers who affect hundereds of little lives don’t get wealthy and (usually) the scientists who actually create new things to make our lives better make much less than the executives working in the same corporations. Once you have enough money to be comfortable, why keep collecting it when some people are working full time and still can’t afford to send their kids to college or buy a house or afford health insurance? Capitalism does NOT reward hard work. I know plenty of hard working people who are struggling to get by. I also know some who have been lucky and are living cushy lives. These people didn’t “earn” their wealth more than others who have worked equally as hard. We are nothing without each other and so why not take care of each other any way we can? WWJD? He would share and he would not be greedy. That matches more closely to Socialism than Capitalism. Capitalism fosters greed. Do people really need 6 houses and 12 cars? They think they need it because they get greedy. If Borg left Sweden to hold onto more of his money, he became greedy. He didn’t leave Sweden in order to survive. He wanted more than he needed.

    • To be fair to Borg, he earned his money…not the socialist Swedish government. Jac you make very good points (like always) but who should decide what is “comfortable” to use your word.

      Jac, remember…Borg was getting taxed at over 60% and as we all know the earning years for an athlete are very short. Look at all of the good that Agassi has done with his earned wealth. Were the members of ABBA, and the IKEA founder being greedy too…I think they were being prudent.

      • Thanks, Todd. Sure, comfortable is subjective. Maybe “comfortable” should be defined by the people who are currently least comfortable. I don’t know. What’s good for one should be good for all. We aren’t that different.

        Regarding athletes, since the rest of us have to work for a living until we’re 65-ish, I don’t feel sorry for an athlete that can’t retire at 35. Retrain and go into another career for the next 30 years. (I’m doing it.)

        The members of ABBA have more money than they know what to do with. They turned down an offer of $1 billion to reunite!! Sorry – I have no pity for their tax burden.

    • And this, sports fans, is as good a theology as any. Go, Sis. Jac!

      • Thanks, Sis. DJ.

      • Jac,

        Trust me I am no fan of athletes who blow their fortures, and my ears bleed whenever I hear anything from ABBA…but I do respect that they do something that very few people can do, and they do deserve to move wherever it’s economically best for them.

        OK Jac only because I like you…this past August I had to “endure” ABBA’s Greatest Hits…my girlfriend enjoys the band and loves the song “Fernando.” What can I say…she’s wonderful, and she made shrimp and pasta for me…so she kinda had me over a barrel.

  10. The McDonald’s corporation is offering a new item to their value meal menu…It’s called a McObamameal-you simply order whatever you want…and then the person behind you in line pays for you meal.

    :)

    • I like it! I’ll have a cheeseburger, small fries, and a small diet coke please. Thanks. Let me add that I’d be happy to pay for the person in front of me-as long as they just order what they need and aren’t greedy.

      • Jac,

        You are truly a great person.

      • Are you saying that because you plan to be the person in front of me who orders 2 Big Macs, an extra large fries, Chocolate Milkshake and an Apple pie – all super-sized?

      • Jac,

        I could eat all that…but two things, as a midwesterner I wouldn’t allow you to buy me dinner (unless it was my birthday) and I thought we both liked Whoppers…Big Macs are JV…Whoppers are All-World!

        • All-World. Do you ever eat the burgers at Dairy Queen? Love me them brazier-burgers. Can’t remember how to speel brazier, but there you are.

    • You! In the corner. Go. That’s an old joke and we’re taking away your joking privileges, to be returned after you write on the wall: DJ IS NOT OLD DJ IS NOT OLD.

      • I didn’t call DJ old…I called her classmate , Connie Chung old…see it’s really not the samething is it?

        OK, DJ is not old, DJ is not old, DJ is not old…ancient…but not old. :)

        • Corner! Now! (I had a friend who actually trained her dog to go into the corner and sit quietly. It was pretty funny, actually.)

  11. “Don’t you believe since you worked so hard for the money that you should have a say as to where it goes?”

    ABSOLUTELY. So: no more of my money spent on war! Far more of my taxes spent on health care (not insurance)! Okay?

  12. Bush decided that a whole shithouse of money would go into the endless money and life pit in the Middle East.

    And oh! the irony! If Bjorn (who seriously was not literally being killed by taxes, he was being inconvenienced by them) had blown through all his money and was destitute – he would have gone back to Sweden.
    And the owners of Lego live in Denmark – they didn’t skedaddle.

    Also, the richest tend to give the least percentage of their income to charity. Period. Gates aside.

    • Carol,

      Please don’t put words in my mouth…I never wrote “literally.” I am very careful with that word…because I know how to use it.

  13. My Grandpa Zaino came to America as a 12 year old from Italy with 20 bucks, and little or no English skills. With a strong work ethic he was able to eventually own his own successful construction company. With the success of his business-my grandparents were able to afford to to send my father to Michigan State as an undergrad and to NYU for grad work. Sorry but as a second generation American I believe that the American Dream is alive and well. I have adult students who work two or three jobs, go to school, and still find time to raise their children. Socialism, in my opinion robs people of the chance to work themselves into the type of life that they want. The government couldn’t even run a silly cash for clunkers program successfully. Have you seen post offices closing? Fannie and Freddie are on life support. Call me old-fashioned, but Reagan got it right as a Federalist…smaller federal
    government, more power to the states, and lower taxes.

    • This is my point, Todd. Our grandfathers (note not grandmothers – but that’s a different issue) did it a few generations ago but it’s not possible for today’s generation to rely on hard work as a path to wealth. The big pay-off is no longer there. The pay-off is just getting by. The big pay-off is there for the privileged few – it’s not there for anyone who is willing to work hard and want’s it. I don’t see that as fair, do you? That early 1900′s possibility has disappeared.

    • My great-great-great-great-great-grandfather came to America with less money and became a horsethief. The world is a very different place now, Todd. The American Dream is far harder to achieve.

      • That would make you sixth generation American…I always suspected that you might be a blue-blood.
        :)

        Yes, the American Dream is harder to achieve…but in this great country anything is still possible…sorry for being an optimist…I am a Red Sox fan-it’ s in our handbook.

        • Actually, I got tired of typing “great.” I’m eighth-generation. I believe. Perhaps ninth or more. And one part of my family met the boats. I could belong to the Mayflower Society, I’m told, but why?

          • I’m nine generations off the Rock. Quidnesset, Mass., 1650.
            We could be cousins!

            • Hey! I often wonder why — given the jump I’ve had on the rest of these latecomers — I haven’t made more of myself. Does that nagging feeling of doubt haunt you, too?

              • I don’t know what you mean exactly by….
                “made more of myself”…..

              • Not to but in here, but what do you mean by that? You’ve done more than most of us – you’re hardly a slacker. What do you doubt, dj? You’re doing, you’re getting into the middle of things and talking about them AND people listen to what you have to say. That’s big!! What would you do if there was no doubt?

                • Do you ever wonder if you’re doing enough? For whatever everyone’s role is, I wonder if a good number of us wonder if we’re doing enough.

                  • Story of m’life.

                    • I hate it when I start doing that. Of course I’m not doing enough! The world isn’t perfect yet! But maybe it’s not me not doing enough! Maybe it’s Cynical!!! Yeah!

                  • @Do you ever wonder…
                    Sometimes. I think that kind of feeling is natural. Especially these days when the public square is so active with cause and concern.

            • I always get that wrong…
              It’s Rhode Island…not Mass…….
              It’s some kind of mental block…..

      • Possible – yes.
        Probable – no.

        You can be optimistic and realistic.

    • I have a lot of things I want to say, but I’m in the middle of a get-a-lot-done mood so I need to focus on only one or two things and then get back to what needs-to-get-done.

      I have a grandfather story too. Mine also came here from Europe, in the very early 1900s. He was apparently a very skilled toolmaker who lost his job because of an industrial accident injury. No unions yet, no health insurance, bye bye Andrew.

      And those folks who work two or three jobs and “still find time to raise their children?” Tell me how they do that. How can you work most hours of the day that you’re not sleeping and be able to give your kids the attention they need? They have to work all those jobs because their labor isn’t valued enough to be paid a decent wage so they only have to work one job — and I’ll bet that because they’re low-wage workers, they have no health insurance for themselves or their kids either. I doubt if many of them rise to the level that you believe is still possible. It was once — just as it was possible to work your way through college and not have a huge debt when you graduate. Times have changed. The economy has changed. The rules have changed. And it’s not for the best except for a very few.

      • Cynical Susan,

        I often see over 150 students during the course of the year ( we have classes throughout the entire year) and yes there are some stories I hear about neglect, abuse, and other bad things. I also hear and see wonderful stories from my students who walk to school, hold down jobs, are good parents, and work hard to graduate on time. I tell them often that I admire their work ethic and the determination they show each day.

        CS, if you need to have your lawn mowed are you willing to pay double or triple the going rate for a worker so he/she does not have moonlight? Most of us act in our own economic self-interest-don’t you ever enjoy getting a good deal on a car, TV, vacation, computer, or book? A free market makes competition something that benefits the consumers, the workers, and the economy as a whole. Trust me if McDonald’s was paying its workers 25-30 dollars per hour-they would have to charge the consumer eight to ten dollars for a Big Mac. McDonald’s is not Morton’s or Fleming’s steakhouse. Same thing goes for workers…if you have a good education, marketable skills, and strong work ethic the chances of for success are highly likely. If you have problems with English, not so good in math, you are a drop-out, and or have a criminal record…then it’s going to be a much more difficult road for that person.

        I realize that you are busy…but earlier today I asked you if you felt that an educator with 25+ years on the job was worth more to a school than a recent grad just starting out. I’d be interested to get your response. Good luck with your to-do-list.

      • Because, as we all point out from time to time, the message sequence here gets non-sequence-y or non-sensible, it’s hard to find all the things I wanted to note and possibly comment on. Probably just as well, I’d be up all night!

        No one gets to choose what talents they’re born with, or how much native intelligence they get, or what their physical capabilities are, or how wealthy their family is. And yet these things are often rewarded greatly, just because of the luck of the draw.

        I have read about studies that have shown that people who are tall or who are good looking are more likely to be successful — we don’t choose those characteristics either. Men on average make more money than women, and white men on average make more money than black men. So let’s say you’re a tall handsome white male. With less effort than people who don’t fit into these categories, you’re more likely to succeed.

        One might think, therefore, that the deck is stacked against most of us, but many of us do make an effort to give ourselves a good life. I believe that that good life should be within reach. I’m not talking about wealth and its trappings, I’m talking about health and shelter and food security and respect. If I’m not as intelligent or as talented (or cute) as you are, I may not be rewarded with that corner office, but I shouldn’t have to work three jobs to barely hold my life together. I shouldn’t have to choose between staying home when I’m sick or going to work because I don’t get paid sick days. I shouldn’t have to know that my child can’t have that surgery because the system just doesn’t allow for health care for someone like me.

  14. How can you say “story of m’life” Susan…how about all of the lives you helped as a teacher? How about all of the kind things you’ve done for friends and family…that may not have seemed big to you, but a Godsend to them.

    How about the way that you, DJ, and Jac keep this Republican on his toes? :)

    • My story of MY life, not someone else’s interpretation of it.

    • So really, it’s you, Todd, who aren’t doing enough. Phew. Thank God. I thought it was me. Nah, but sometimes some people (like myself) wonder if we’re making any headway. I’d intended to have eliminated homelessness in Hartford by now, for instance, but I haven’t.

  15. I’m having trouble following the responses so I’ll say something about:
    “Do you ever wonder if you’re doing enough? For whatever everyone’s role is, I wonder if a good number of us wonder if we’re doing enough.”

    I do. I could be doing more. I could be doing less, too. There is so much to do that it’s hard to know what to do, too. I’d have to pick one thing, I think, to really make a difference and I can’t seem to pick just one thing. Maybe that’s my barrier; I’m not focused enough.

    • Or maybe you have a lot of interests and a lot of talents with which to pursue those interests. Mr. DJ is musical. He acts. He’s an athlete. He’s a firefighter. I feel kind of sorry for him. I write. It’s easier. I never wake up and think “Should I play my piano, or try out for a play?” I wake up and open the laptop. Easy!

  16. Wow, I just learned SO MUCH!

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