Good from afar, far from good

I realized that quip to describe the phenomenon where someone of the opposite sex looks attractive from a distance, but less so the closer you get to them, also applies to the poor and needy.

Deserving from afar, far from deserving?

I’ve noticed that the folks who tend to be strong advocates for the generic needy (the needy from afar), become less so the closer they get to specific needy people and to their own wallets.

I, again, recall a conversation with a friend who owned a car lot. He was a strong advocate for the deserving and faceless “minimum wage worker,”, because they were powerless against employers. But, apparently the car salesmen on his lot weren’t deserving of that treatment since he treated them as contractors so he wouldn’t have to be locked into paying them minimum wage.

Health insurance is another example. The faceless uninsured was used to garner support for Obamacare because everyone ‘deserves access to health care’. But, put faces on some of the uninsured and look at some of the choices they’ve made — like paying for an expensive cell phone plan, instead of buying insurance — and the ‘deserving’ moniker starts to make less sense.

This exposes a good tactic to use in conversations with people who have the ‘deserving from a far, but far from deserving’ affliction. First, put some faces on those who they think are deserving.

Their next argument will be that those are only a few abusers or outliers and ‘that should be fixed, but doesn’t take away from the vast majority of the other (faceless) deserving.’

To which, a good response is, “How do you know? Are you guessing?”

3 thoughts on “Good from afar, far from good

  1. It disturbs me that the national dialog on the issue of poverty has become dominated by a lefty media that uses inflammatory language to attack anyone who disagrees with their “benevolence”.

    The word “deserving” is an example of that.

    For example: Jack is poor and must make hard choices in the allocation of resources: food or medicine, etc. The dialog is: “No one deserves to live like that.”

    This is a meaningless assertion meant to acquire power over others by playing on their senses of sympathy and guilt. It’s effectively a “religious” statement in that it requires no evidence, demands that you believe it too, and damns you if you choose not to.

    I think it would be worthwhile to reframe the issue in terms of what people have earned. Did Jack make choices that earned him a place among the poor? Has Jack earned the handouts the “benevolent” left wants to give him? Has someone robbed Jack of the consequences he has earned through his actions?

    Robbing Jack of his earnings — his just deserts, both positive and negative — clearly (at least to me) becomes the morally wrong act.

    So instead of allowing the left to talk about how “No one deserves blah blah horrible tragedy blah”, let’s respond with “Stop trying to rob the populace of their earnings to satisfy your misplaced feelings of guilt.”

    • I’ve tried to reframe, like you suggested. I find resistance to that. They try to keep it at the abstract level of “nobody deserves that.”

      However, like I mentioned in the post, when you actually talk about real world cases — people you know — we suddenly come out of the abstract world and all kinds of opinions come out about how certain people could have made better choices.

      But, without context, everybody is “deserving” or “doesn’t deserve that”. Even when you point them to the one or two specific cases where they just judged how deserving someone was, they will still just assume that’s a tiny fraction.

  2. A corollary point might be — it is impossible to improve the position of the poor and powerless by empowering and enriching the rich and powerful. The US government is the richest (in terms of spending) and most powerful entity in history; no company, individual, or empire even comes close. And yet it still lusts for more money and more power while claiming that it needs that money and power for our own good.

    (I know that there is no such entity as “the government”, it’s a bunch of individuals.)


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