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Thread: Poverty - Culture or Condition

  1. #1
    Administrator Jonesie's Avatar
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    Poverty - Culture or Condition

    I got into one of those long, over-caffeinated conversations with a few friends at dinner tonight that got me to thinking. And led me to a conclusion.

    Poverty is a cultural illness. There are individual exceptions, but generally speaking, it's a philosophical condition. I think the broadest misconception by both conservatives and liberals alike is that poverty is a financial condition. It's not. Financial difficulty, malnutrition, etc... These are symptoms of poverty, not the actual disease. The actual illness is in the approach a culture and its citizens take into action, or inaction.

    Take Germany. Not only has the world taken away every dime they had, we've taken away their means of making more by destroying their industry utterly and completely. Several times in the last century. And yet they are currently listed among the top 5 of the world's economies. Is it that Germany has natural resources or raw material that countries like Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Thailand, Ukraine or Indonesia don't have? Is it that they're genetically more intelligent than any of these other cultures? Do they possess some kind of magical power that leads them back up the economic pyramid time and time again? The answer to all of these questions is no.

    Since Venezuela is too easy of a target, I'll use Mexico as an example. Mexico has an abundance of natural wealth, a population twice the size of Germany, and proximity to the world's largest and most robust economy. Yet they've found a way to stay broke for a couple centuries. You could change the word 'Mexico' out with a dozen third world economies.

    You have a heart condition and require a pacemaker. On the table in front of you, you have a pacemaker with the 'Made in Germany' label, and one that says 'Made in Mexico'. Which one do you hand to the doctor to install? The truth is, unless it's Tequila, even the Mexican will choose the German product when it matters. Is this because Germany gets better materials in which to assemble pacemakers than Mexico? Is it because Germany has a long tradition of making this particular product? (like Swiss watches).

    The sad truth is, that regardless of any product one might choose, the Mexican (add other country) will sit on the shelf if it is similarly priced to the German product. The reason for this is the world expects the German workers to have more pride in the products they make, any product, than a Mexican worker. Again, Germany can be substituted for any thriving first world economy, and Mexico can be substituted for any similarly sized 'developing' economy.

    To be cont'd.

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    Take the US-Mexico frontier. Affluence on one side, poverty on the other. Instead of Mexicans flooding North in search of a better life, why don't they observe the factors that make the difference, and import the things that are working in the North?

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    Administrator Jonesie's Avatar
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    Poverty is a spiritual condition. It is the reason you could put the sum of the world's wealth in a pile and distribute it equally to the world's citizens. Within 5 years, 90% of it will be back where it was before.

    It's what makes a worker in (xyz shit country) do only the minimum required of them. It's what makes an employee steal from their employer and justify it with the thought "I need it more". It's what makes a store in (xyz shit country) not take a defective product back. Because in their mind, 'they won'.

    In almost all the countries in Latin America, you can't make deposits through the atm machines to a bank account. The reason is the branch managers were taking the cash and deleting the transactions. Similar situations in grocery stores, Large transactions require a manager to oversee.

    For a few years when I lived in LA, I had Lakers season tickets. You know that not once did I ever see anyone die or get injured exiting the staples center. Most soccer games involve several injuries as a result of people simply not taking a moment to allow their fellow patrons to clear an isle before they enter it. You can see this on busy pedestrian walkways as well. Instead of looking ahead and veering away from oncoming pedestrians, there are collisions and last second reactions because they simply don't give a shit about anyone but themselves.

    These are several examples of the spiritual sickness that poverty is. These are things that can't be fixed by simply writing a check. It is the reason these countries will be poor a thousand years from now.

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    well put! Like you said it is a cultar thing yet we go and live in these places.

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    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    I've been in these countries, as well as most of the other countries in the world. Talking about poverty or capitalism is just like talking about prostitution, which is the focus of discussion on this board. All of the previous posters make accurate points. To most people, the culture and law in many other countries just makes no sense. This is especially true of people from the USA and other western capitalist countries. The default response in the USA if an obviously homeless person walks up to you and asks for a dollar or a few coins is "Get away from me. Get a job."

    There are many other countries in the world in which people respond to that situation differently. For example, it would be a gross violation of the Pashtun people in Afghanistan to treat a homeless person in this manner. The Pashtun are required by their "law" to welcome all visitors and to assist a person in need. In the USA the basic "law" is to push the person away and tell him to "Get a job." But you don't know that person's situation. Why is he there? You don't know unless you ask. Of course, if you do ask and he answers, he might be lying. In the USA, we were mentally conditioned from birth to assume that all strangers are liars and cheats. That's good for self (selfish) preservation, but it's not so good for society.

    The example was given for tickets to sporting events. The cheapest prices that I could find online for L.A. Lakers tickets was $29, and $11 for parking. Taking Wifey and Joey Junior to the Lakers game? That'll be $98, thank you very much... and that's before the $5 Coca-Colas and $9 hot dogs. Of course there's no poverty-related violence, because poor people are effectively banned from ever seeing a Lakers game inside Staples Center.

    Of course that "expensive tickets" argument will come up every now and then. In response, the Lakers (or whoever) will have a "Kid's Saturday" game where a few seats -- maybe 50 seats -- will be made available to the 13 Million people who live in the L.A. Metro Area... at a reduced price. I can almost hear the Lakers owners and players saying, "Are those poor people complaining about $30 tickets and $9 hot dogs again? Maybe this will shut 'em up."

    But every country has its own problems. I shouldn't single out the USA, even though this is one of the many reasons why I don't live in the USA any more. Other countries may have more poverty than the USA, but it's hard to find a country that could care less about its poor than the USA.


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    The points made earlier by Jonesie about different philosophies in business and commerce (German versus Mexican products) hits the nail on the head. German products, in general, aren't allowed to leave the factory unless they are, for all practical purposes, flawless. Germans, in general, demand the best, and nothing less will do. In the USA, the driving force is a balance between cost and quality. Perfection at any cost is not the ultimate goal, as it is in Germany. Asia slides a little further down that slope. The Japanese have stressed quality in the past couple of decades, but South Korea and China are still struggling with the quality issue, although they offer dirt-cheap products. You can buy a brand-new Chinese car, right here in Costa Rica, for well under $10,000.

    As for products made in Mexico or Central America? It's all about price here. Wendy's (hamburgers) was forced to close all of its stores here in Costa Rica a couple of years ago. When asked why they closed the stores, the owner of the Wendy's restaurants in Costa Rica responded "Lack of business. We're priced higher than McDonald's and the other hamburger joints, and we just can't compete." This of course raised the question of quality versus price, and one of the television stations in San Josť did a "man on the street" poll with the question, "Which is more important to you in a fast-food hamburger? Quality or price?" The overwhelming answer was "I don't care about the quality, as long as it's cheap."

    I got caught in a logic loop with a friend at work a few years ago regarding cars. I had had a couple of Japanese cars back-to-back, and he was giving me shit about not "Buying American." I have had a couple of U.S. built-cars, and they were inferior in quality to the two Toyotas that I owned. However, I had already decided that I was going to consider a German car for my next vehicle. I promised my friend that my next car would not be from Asia (including Japan). He misinterpreted this to mean that I would be buying a U.S.-built car.

    I had always kind of thought, up until that point in time, that Mercedes and BMW owners were kind of "uppity" in a "my shit don't stink" kind of way. But then I purchased a BMW 335i. I instantly knew... right then and there... that I would never buy anything other than a BMW again, unless the circumstances absolutely dictated it. A finer vehicle I have never driven, and my second BMW just blew me away, even compared to my first one. I wasn't buying the $100,000 BMWs, either. I was buying the entry-level $30-$40K stuff. Even if $30K still seems like a lot for a car (it does to many people), the quality and features of the car are those of a much more expensive car from any other manufacturer in the world. Gotta love that 4 years of free maintenance and free loaner BMWs, too. I got an M5 as a loaner once. It WAS a used M5 with 20,000 miles on it... but Who Cares? It was an M5! Two days later, I brought that 560-horsepower fucker back to the dealership with 2000 more miles and a lot less tire on it.

    Unfortunately, BMWs sell for as much as 50% more in Costa Rica than they do in the USA, and new BMW warranties in Costa Rica are different than in the USA, covering less in the way of broken stuff. And, as you might imagine, getting a BMW fixed in Costa Rica is a lot like having your testicles ripped out through your wallet. Besides that... It is really difficult to enjoy a BMW in Costa Rica, due the high gearing and high-speed fuel mapping. As Germany's premier once said... "We are a Nation of Drivers." The car doesn't even start to feel good until you're passing 140 mph. Removing the speed-limiter is a must if you really want to enjoy the car, and driving a hunkered-down M5 at 180 mph is practically impossible in Costa Rica.

    I was moving from Tennessee to California, and my friend was driving the moving truck while I was driving my 335i... through Arizona... nice and flat. He left the gas station, and I pulled up the fuel pump. We had hand-held FRS radios for communication, and I said, "Just Go. I'll catch up with you a little while." I filled up the car and then took off. You can pay Dinan, in California, a few thousand bucks to reprogram your car's computer and give you 25% more horsepower and a better power curve, as well as removing the 155 mph speed limiter, which almost all German-built cars have. I had hit that speed limiter a couple of times and it frustrated me enough to take the car to Dinan. I passed my buddy doing 175 mph. You could have heard a whisper in the car, and it felt like driving a Corvette at 55 mph. There's nothing like it. I'm not bragging, here. It's all the car. It's just that good.

    But that is the point that we're making in this thread, including other threads... including the Cubadave thread...

    What makes sense in one culture simply doesn't necessarily make sense in another. We look at the poverty situation, the price of basketball tickets, the quality of cars made in different countries, Cubadave in jail, etc...

    Why does Canadian Football only have three downs? Why can they put you in jail for dropping a paper currency bill and then stepping on it in Thailand? For chewing gum on the sidewalk in Singapore? Why is it illegal to sell alcohol before 8 a.m. on Sunday in Tennessee, but it's legal on Saturday and Monday? Why can't liquor stores sell non-alcoholic beverages in Tennessee? (there actually is a 2% alcohol lime juice mixer made, so that the liquor stores can sell it)

    That's the dumbest thing I ever heard! Why? It makes perfect sense to me! Really? Don't give me a thumbs up! It's offensive and vulgar!

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