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Thursday, December 16, 2010



They aren't stuck in the 1980's. They are financially insulated from poverty. Their judgments make sense in their own lives but don't make sense in the lives of the people they judge. They could do better if they cared enough to examine their assumptions, but this is one more reason I have no use for religion. The religious are intellectually lazy.

Joseph A. DePinto, LCSW

I have observed this phenomenon as well. Unfortunately it is too common. Thanks good Dr.

Donna B.

While these particular men may have been discussing religion, I don't think that is a prerequisite for being financially insulated from poverty and judgmental.

Religiosity may be correlated with intellectual laziness. It is not the only thing so correlated.

Dr X

I'm confident that plenty of the religious people I know would not have judged this man as those two judged him. Given the context, I was taken aback by the comments.


I think part of the trouble is simply that there is a split in our society between middle aged to older people who have embraced technology (or been forced to keep up with it at work) and those who have been largely insulated from it by having staff. Many older men have had secretaries and wives who have taken messages, handled things for them and so are literally clueless about how important having a cellphone can be.

I remember in my office at one point how the older men were staggered when I had a Blackberry, and then an iPhone because they simply couldn't conceive of a cellphone as anything except a carphone. They had cellphones and left them in the car for emergency calls. I remember explaining to one that I had to give one number to people to reach me as people couldn't be trying one number after another. And how I was keeping in touch with my parents' caregivers in England and assorted doctors and lawyers by email and often had time sensitive things to settle that way.

I think it's accidental that the men were religious. Most of the people I work with are atheists or lapsed Catholics and they would all have made similar remarks. They are a largely beleaguered middle class bunch, feeling their own standard of living deteriorating, having to take second and third jobs, their house values plummetting, their kids unable to find work, and they resent people on welfare, and affirmative action, and illegals. People who have always been Democrats and are now flipping politically, but not with any real hope, just disgust. They hate both parties, feel that it's a choice between being mugged by the undeserving (Democrats) or by the super-rich (Republicans). They are not in a mood to be charitable as they feel under siege themselves.

As for the guys you overheard? The religious people I know would not have had that reaction. Obviously it's sad that they could not see the need before them.

I think one thing that happens is that people who aren't heavy users of tech themselves get confused and don't distinguish between a cheap tracfone and a blackberry.

fred lapides

you may be right. You may be wrong. You should perhaps learn to detach and go your own way. You will not change folks. Why judge those who are judging others?

Noni Mausa

The argument that poor people can't really be poor if they have [X, Y, Z amenity] is one that shows up all the time in blog comments. It mostly shows a lack of imagination, whether willful or not, about the real challenges of living on a lower rung.

A cell contract is what? around $500 a year? That is about half a month's rent most places, not including utilities. Many "modern amenities" like dishwashers, colour TVs and DVD players, are available free or very cheap because they're passed down like used clothes or just given away. (Check Freecycle.) Because I love garage sales and second hand stores, my house is furnished with appliances and furniture which altogether probably cost me no more than that month's rent.

Welfare, if you can get it, pays from $4k to $8k a year. If that was the limit of your income, and you couldn't count on having a home base larger or more permanent than a sleeping bag, wouldn't you invest in a cell? I sure would.

The men on the bench failed in imagination by not looking at the numbers, or the reality of an income less than a quarter of the poverty line. In their world, the rent payments are taken for granted, as are their salaries and pensions, hot showers and refrigerators. Very human. We don't plan to do without our everyday resources, unless there's something odd about us.

I carry a compass and a slab of chocolate with me when I travel by air, because I have always thought if the plane went down, they might be handy. There is, apparently, something odd about me. :-) But for most people their world is the world, and it's hard work to examine someone else's world.


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