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The Demon of Materialism

Are the wealthy or the liberals more responsible for materialism within our country?

In their ever misguided attempt to make the world ‘fair’, the progressive movement has determined that wealth accumulation is the great evil on society.  Wealth, as if it is not an inanimate object, must be delicately handled by government fiat in order to prevent its possible corrupting effects from harming the people.  The government, capable of determining good from evil, will disperse the wealth as best needed.  This redistribution will then create a society where wealth is equally shared by the entire citizenry. 

It is assumed that wealth’s corrupting effects are materialism.  Once a person attains an arbitrary level of income, the possessions accumulated actually become oppressive to those with lower incomes.  The position held by an individual on the income scale of our country has become directly related to the amount of oppression that individual has exerted on those below him.  Regardless of both how the wealth was generated and its use; it is a form a materialism corrupting the society.  

The problem with this assumption is that materialism is not simply the accumulation of items.  It is specifically the emphasis on material objects and comforts with a rejection of spiritual, intellectual or cultural values.  Therefore, the progressive assertion that wealth and materialism go hand-in-hand makes great leaps in attempting to understand the motive of the person who has gained wealth.  Placing the blanket identity of materialistic over an entire group by simply creating a set income level that we are to believe is the starting point for materialism is a very pretentious policy. 

I understand that most liberal won’t flatly out claim that those over a given income threshold are materialistic; rather, they attempt to make the argument that there is a level of fairness to be considered within the income scale.  This insistence that our income structure should be built around what is fair is not attainable without labeling something as unfair.  In turn, the solution has become to characterize those with wealth as being materialistic in order to assign them the title of unfair.  If wealth generation/accumulation is suddenly materialistic it is easier to accuse that group of individuals as being unfair or harmful because they are rejecting spiritual, intellectual or cultural values that make a healthy society.  

Yet, in this attempt to bring fairness to the income structure of the US; the progressive movement has created materialism with their own policy.  The concept of wealth distribution among citizens has given birth to the belief that one is entitled to an income level.  This idea has come from different policy initiatives designed to foster this artificial level fairness within other areas of life.  We now live in a society where people deem certain items as deserved regardless of personal effort to attain those items on their own.  For example, the housing bubble was created as a policy driven by the assumption home ownership was deserved; we have a looming student loan bubble because higher education is determined as a right; our country spent billions of dollars on cell phones for people who felt they were deserved; public sector employees rioted under the assumption that pay and benefits were deserved; we are steps closer to nationalized healthcare because it is assumed to be deserved and this doesn’t include the countless other government programs handing out money to people who feel they deserve it simply by being alive.  As a result of income and a standard of living becoming entitled; it is these people that have embraced materialism.  For they have rejected the cultural value of one’s effort determining your standard of living.  It is the liberal that has rejected spirituality in favor of owning all material via governmental growth.  

I will not deny that some wealthy individuals have become materialistic.  However, their materialism has not created oppression as it is done as a reward for their effort and not an emphasis purely based on material gain.  In fact, it is the progressive policies of wealth redistribution that are a greater agent for oppression.  As it uses the weight of the government and the selfish desires of the entitlement class to restrict those they deem as wealth accumulators.  It is they who are preoccupied with attaining possession without effort.  It is they who are materialistic. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Luke March 05, 2013 at 05:06 AM
@Lyle Again, my point had nothing to do with cultures. My point was that each group was socialized to seek success through utilizing their own resources. Although each ethnic group will have its own emphasis, the point is that consistent effort will be rewarded. As for your second paragraph, I'm a bit dumbfounded. As far as I know, I am the only one on the Patch that works directly with and for the poor on a regular ( meaning daily) basis, both in the US and abroad. In addition, I have no idea what the heck you are talking about when you suggest that I think that the poor are subhuman. I have never said such a thing. In fact, if you would like to read someone who shares my perspective regarding the scope of the problem and some of the solutions, please see this link below. Keep in mind that I do not agree with this person on many things, but I do agree with what he says here: http://shorewood.patch.com/blog_posts/mea-culpa-admitting-when-youre-wrong Finally, I continually distinguish between the chronically poor and the rest of the poor. Among the chronically poor there are many/most that are exactly as lazy and stupid as you describe, due in part, largely, to socialization. The rest are only temporarily poor due to all sorts of reasons beyond their control, but they and/ or their children are on their way out because they are consistently working towards that goal.
Luke March 05, 2013 at 05:22 AM
So, Lyle, I'm going to repost what I said above, because it goes much deeper than you have noticed. You haven't noticed because of the reasons Schmidt detailed. The fact is that the kind of success I describe below made those people wealthy in immaterial ways . In our country, that type of wealth is positively correlated with material wealth. (In other words, notice the play on words involving "wealth.") ............,,. I went to Myanmar a few years ago and spent two weeks with a minority group that was hiding from the military. They grew up in temporary shacks with dirt floors, yet they spent their free time reading English and Asian textbooks on any topic they could find. They loved their children and took care of one another. They were truly wealthy.
J. B. Schmidt March 05, 2013 at 04:28 PM
@Lyle http://www.scribd.com/doc/88767476/The-American-Welfare-State-How-We-Spend-Nearly-1-Trillion-a-Year-Fighting-Poverty-And-Fail-Cato-Policy-Analysis-No-694 This one has the most accurate data; however, is least liked by liberals. Now you may describe how the source is not believable. Tell me their numbers are wrong because they count certain items as welfare that you don’t consider welfare. You can write a lengthy dissertation on how much republicans hate the wealthy. Not unlike the other liberal on the internet. However, none of them can argue the factual numbers; they simply try to move them around by changing their description. The truth is, using the government numbers and dividing by families below the poverty level we are paying $60k+. Unfortunately, the materialistic progressive government monster that has been created eats most of this money.
J. B. Schmidt March 05, 2013 at 04:46 PM
@Lyle The problem is that as the government continues to create policies that claim to fix poverty through material possessions (money, phones, food); people believe that to be true. Yet, poverty hasn't significantly changed since 1980 while spending has skyrocketed. It is no longer about fixing the problem. It is about sustaining the materialistic desires of both the liberal politician and the entitlement voter.
Carbon Bigfuut March 05, 2013 at 04:51 PM
"So there are people that pay any income tax." Huh? That doesn't make any sense. "It just so happens they don't earn enough to pay." Yes, there are those that fall into the 0% income tax bracket. I was referring to those that money BACK from the government without paying in ANYTHING in income taxes. "However, they pay other taxes." I was referring to income taxes. Your original post was about materialism, and there is a tax specifically for that, called the property tax. It is levied based on the value of property owned. And please spell my name correctly next time.
Avenging Angel March 05, 2013 at 05:05 PM
Anytime a discussion like this comes up, I always think of this quote from one of my favorite authors, Robert A. Heinlein: “The America of my time line is a laboratory example of what can happen to democracies, what has eventually happened to all perfect democracies throughout all histories. A perfect democracy, a ‘warm body’ democracy in which every adult may vote and all votes count equally, has no internal feedback for self-correction. It depends solely on the wisdom and self-restraint of citizens… which is opposed by the folly and lack of self-restraint of other citizens. What is supposed to happen in a democracy is that each sovereign citizen will always vote in the public interest for the safety and welfare of all. But what does happen is that he votes his own self-interest as he sees it… which for the majority translates as ‘Bread and Circuses.’ ‘Bread and Circuses’ is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure. Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader—the barbarians enter Rome.”
Mr Lundt March 05, 2013 at 05:15 PM
"Survival expectations for people is hardly unrealistic expectations" Please Lyle. Drama and massive exaggeration do not help your case. Start looking at all of the able bodied adults that are perpetually on the dole. THE VAST majority of people on the dole could do without---the fact is that they don't need to because your policies enable them. More to the point your POLICY AND RHETORIC have them convinced that were it not for the nanny state---they would be unable to eat. Yet there the fact that you keep reducing your expectations on people, somehow makes you feel better inside. WHY? Because you take away other peoples money. Should ALL government help be stopped of course not . Ignore your knee jerk to show dramatic display you love.
Richard Head March 05, 2013 at 08:37 PM
"Wealth, as if it is not an inanimate object, must be delicately handled by government fiat in order to prevent its possible corrupting effects from harming the people. The government, capable of determining good from evil, will disperse the wealth as best needed. This redistribution will then create a society where wealth is equally shared by the entire citizenry. " YES!~ DOWNTOWN! http://racineexposed.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/downtown/
Lyle Ruble March 05, 2013 at 09:30 PM
@Mr Lundt....I agree, that if someone is an able bodied adult that they should be working. However, if you haven;t noticed there seems to be a shortage of jobs at the moment, especially for the unskilled and under educated. Jobs have been declining since the Clinton years. The kinds of jobs these people would normally pursue are gone. Even skilled workers are having trouble. I am open to suggestions as to what can be done to put these people to work. What do you purpose?
Lyle Ruble March 05, 2013 at 09:59 PM
@Luke....Finally, someone from the right who distinguishes from those that are chronically poor from those that experience a period of acute poverty. I think J.B. should have more clearly differentiated between those who are materially poor and those that are poor of character or morality, and that is not just in the inner cities. I come from a tradition of hard work and an emphasis on scholarship. In my community, if you graduated from high school, your kids went on to get their BA or BS. Their kids were expected to gone on to graduate school and become professionals. If I was a rag picker, my kids would be expected to go into retail, and on the process goes. For my people, we have found the US to be a blessing that allows people who apply themselves the opportunity to succeed, however how one gauges that success. But even if we have been successful, we have never forgotten our humble roots and the ancestor that was the rag picker. I am disturbed as much as anyone else about the able bodied who either choose not to pursue legal work or is shut out of doing so because of a lack of opportunity. What I refuse to do is apply a broad brush and label all that are receiving assistance as belonging to the group who are lazy. My position is that I have accepted that there will always be those who, for one reason or another, will require public assistance. (continued)
Lyle Ruble March 05, 2013 at 10:02 PM
@Luke (continued)....I support giving them the assistance they need and not whine about the fact that we are doing it. The chronically poor doesn't constitute that great a burden on society and the benefit is the long term social stability of our communities. The plight of the poor is a diversion from the really important issues of economic transition and what the future will hold for our society. Adjustment to globalization is the real issue.
Lyle Ruble March 05, 2013 at 10:09 PM
@WaitingForTheSpark....I see no purpose for your statement. My wife and daughters would take extreme exception to your statements. Your statement added nothing to the discussion and added a tangential diversion that brought up an anti-Semitic myth. Just as with any other group we have people that are as guilty as anyone with a focus on materialism, but it is not a general characteristic of Jewish women.
Luke March 05, 2013 at 11:29 PM
@Lyle We aren't that far apart, so I'm not going to attempt to divide too many hairs. Besides, I'm tired and am pecking away on a mobile device. I need, however, to step up in J.B.'s defense, since I still think that you do not get his point. His goal was not to paint the poor with a broad brush. His point is that the left has fostered both latent and overt materialism in the poor. I happen to agree with his point in several ways, so I may return to that issue if I have some time. But let me circle around and approach the issue from a different angle. The availability of government support has had a number of unintended consequences which result in alienation and dehumanization, which are the byproducts of materialism. For example, people now expect the government to care for all their elderly relatives because the government at one time began a program to assist only the poor. Elderly relatives are no longer cared for by their own families much as a result. When Oma (grandma) can't make it on her own, we do something unheard of for most of human history, which is to call someone who is not related and ask them what they are going to do about the problem. This saves us money and relieves us of the need to get involved. This is but one example of how government has fostered materialism and moved us toward emotional individualism, but all the other government support programs have the same unintended affect/effect.
Mike March 06, 2013 at 12:42 AM
Tax the Rich!
Lyle Ruble March 06, 2013 at 04:04 PM
@J.B. Schmidt....I am well familiar with Michael D. Tanner's ideological positions and the article you cite is consistent with his general thinking. However, he starts his article with a bias that influences his overall presentation of material. I have no problem with the numbers he cites, he have taken the raw numbers from government sources. What I do take exception to is the way he spins the numbers to give the impression that those receiving benefits for a family of three are actually directly receiving $ 60k + in benefits. He is adding the direct benefits with administrative costs to come up with his numbers. Totally misleading to the uniformed reader and leads them to believe direct benefits are much greater than they actually are. To be honest, the article should be titled more toward the bureaucratic administrative costs rather than direct benefit distribution. You dutifully passed on the misinformation without fully understanding the implications. Tanner brings up the primary objection to his own argument. He clearly states that we have no way of knowing how bad abject poverty would be without the anti-poverty programs initially introduced during the Johnson Administration. Also, he doesn't differentiate differences of who receives what and what proportion of benefits. Therefore, some receive a larger proportion of benefits when compared to others. This leads to the rejection of broad brush claims, making them moot.
J. B. Schmidt March 06, 2013 at 04:45 PM
@Lyle It bolsters my point that materialism is the driving force behind liberal policy when it comes to government benefits. The bureaucratic, big government, system is a money pig. It takes what it can simply for the sake of possessing it. The huge waste with the welfare system, typically going to those not poor, is driven by materialism. Those taking, via the function of a corrupt bureaucratic system, are doing so for their own comforts in life. Those propping up this system care not for others, but care only for the 'warm happies' they get in their fully bellies. Those poor taking more then their 'fair share' don't care for others, they are only out for themselves. The pig of big government and progressive policy creates the concept of material possessions being the 'needs' of life. If the government spends $60k per family, what is preventing the elimination of poor? The material desires of those able to get a hand in the piggy bank after it is removed from the tax payer. If the government blows money like a sailor on shore leave, driven not by good but the materialistic desire of those elected; why wouldn't those doing the electing be driven by the same desire? I am not calling for an end to welfare and my broad brush paints progressive policy, not the people it sucks in. For it has created an electorate driven by materialism, with little respect for the country or their fellow citizens.
Born Free March 06, 2013 at 06:53 PM
Listen closely as the Progressive 'collectivist' Nazi's defend their psychotic deliberate denial. They do it from their comfy dwellings on high tech gadgets amongst "2 cats and a dog", a fat 401K, Cadillac health care, a Beamer in the garage and a new Saab in the driveway, 2 Mopeds and 4 Trek mountain bikes in the garage, 4 pairs of Birkenstocks for each member of the family that wan't aborted while living in safe neighborhoods. Nothing wrong with materialism as long as accunulating it doesn't make you pretentious nor define's the purpose of your existance and self worth. -------------- 'VOTE FIXING IS DISENFRANCHISING'
Lyle Ruble March 06, 2013 at 07:02 PM
@J.B. Schmidt....So is the criticism of the poor or those that service the poor? Part of the bureaucratic morass is not just an effect of materialism, but the system is designed to create multilevel accountability. Another issue that creates the inefficiencies is that poverty isn't dependent on just one variable, but multiple variables. There has evolved specialists who are focused on each of those variables. This makes sense in light of the fact that you wouldn't expect someone to make medical decisions about patient care if they have only been trained in child welfare issues. The 126 agencies that are cited are organizations of specialists and experts. The greatest problem that I can see is the redundancy between agencies creating inefficiencies and bureaucratic bloating. I would more than support an effort to go through all the agencies and streamline them and create greater efficiencies for program supervision and accountability. Your usage of terms such as corruption, et al; is in fact not intentional corruption, but the impact of inefficiency and basic bureaucratic culture. I also don't understand why you would fault people that work in the various agencies for being concerned about their employment, just like any other worker. To accuse them of somehow promoting the continuation of poverty for their own material gain is a serious indictment and untrue. (continued)
Lyle Ruble March 06, 2013 at 07:11 PM
@J.B. Schmidt (continued),,,,,My wife works with abused and neglected children and she certainly doesn't want to profit off of the problem. She works everyday to alleviate the problem by working with the families. She has no control over preventing the problem, but deals with the tragedy of child abuse and neglect. Now are you stating that she shouldn't be compensated for her professional work? I can tell you that she wouldn't be doing what she is doing if she didn't have a committment to addressing the problem. She certainly doesn't hardly make enough to compensate for her work and working conditions. You need to stop looking at government like looking at a forest and start seeing the faces of government like you would looking at individual trees. Those that you so vehemently criticize are caring and committed human beings just like you.
c March 06, 2013 at 07:15 PM
What "ivory tower" liberals like Lyle don't understand is that there always was and always will be the poor and ignorant. Liberals want to shift the middle class to the poor and ignorant in order to expand the democrat voter pool. What now, Lyle?
Lyle Ruble March 06, 2013 at 08:38 PM
@c....Even from ivory towers, people understand there has always been and will be the poor and ignorant. That doesn't change the fact that in a nation with our abundant resources, that we can assure that people in need have their survival and security needs met. There is no basis to your statement that liberals want to shift the middle class to the poor class in order to expand the democratic voter pool. I don't care about the Democrats or Republicans or liberals verses conservatives, since the labels don't really mean much anyway. The transition from a local or national economy to a global economy has more to do with the downward mobility on the middle class and the stagnation of upward mobility by the poor classes. The globalization process is creating a regression toward the mean; whereas parity will eventually be reached and business won't find off shoring is such a great advantage. This process will take some time, but will eventually bring back the stasis that everyone is searching for.
Lyle Ruble March 06, 2013 at 10:02 PM
@Luke...I think with the economic transition that globalization is causing will impact the role of the family. I foresee a reemergence of the extended family structure replacing the American traditional nuclear family. The family of the future will be that of the past with the younger generation taking care of their elderly relatives.
Luke March 06, 2013 at 10:23 PM
@Lyle Perhaps my point was not clear. My previous post was making the point that the government is taking on the role of the extended family. The availability of money attracts more and more people, thereby weakening and undermining family, regardless of the form it takes. In my example, the person called to resolve the problem was the government, or a service receiving money from the government. Ironically, this trend actually results in a lower standard of living for the overall population.
Lyle Ruble March 06, 2013 at 11:30 PM
@Luke....Fundamentally I don't disagree with your point that outside agents have taken over the traditional roles of the extended family. I also retain the belief that we will see the reemergence of the extended family as a solution to many of the social problems we are currently experiencing. It may mean that much of the subsidies that people are used to receiving to purchase or depend on will have to be terminated. I see a great deal of positive benefits to nuclear families reconvening into the extended family units. McMansions make more sense if you have 12 to 16 people living in them rather than just 4. :>D
Luke March 06, 2013 at 11:45 PM
@Lyle Tell me about it. I live in one of thise homes with three generations. One generation is moving out and the other has about 6 months to live.
J. B. Schmidt March 08, 2013 at 01:59 PM
@Lyle I am not going to attack your wife. She sounds like an angel and a little out of your league. :) Obviously, as I posted, there are people sucked into this system that mean well.
YankeeVictor May 23, 2013 at 08:59 PM
Lyle,,,,,,What happens when the amount of people "needing help" from the system exceeds the ability of the system to supply "help"? The "help" you talk about is provided by the labor of others. So what percent is a tax of their labor fair? Lyle, if you want to help the poor go ahead. Unfortunately many do gooders have no problem spending other peoples money to make themselves feel important. The fact is that ultimately a society will collapse when demand exceeds supply.
YankeeVictor May 23, 2013 at 09:05 PM
Mike. Right On! Tax them bastards dry.
YankeeVictor May 23, 2013 at 09:11 PM
Lyle.....you posted "and business won't find off shoring is such a great advantage". Man, what are you talking about. A few days ago the head of apple testified as to why they have BILLIONS in Ireland rather than in the U.S.---the amount of tax liability was something like 30% bringing it back to the U.S. You also have to realize much of the hugh cash reserves that are held are due to the fact they companies can't afford to build and equip factories in the U.S. and that the markets the companies service are overseas. Why would you build a factory in the U.S. to service the Pacific rim markets? Lyle,,,the fact is that millions of manufacturing jobs are never coming back. The customers are in different countries and it takes far fewer people to produce goods due to advances in technology.
YankeeVictor May 23, 2013 at 09:14 PM
Lyle...Oh and another thing....maybe many countries have realized that many American workers are not really motivated to go to work and that in many cases they are not the brightest lights on the tree so to speak. Many cultures around the world value education, especially in math and sciences. I don't think that is the case in the U.S. any longer.

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