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  1. #1
    Sugar Hiccup OrangeAppled's Avatar
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    Default The Compassion Gap & Generosity of the Poor

    Interesting article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/02/op...R_AP_LO_MST_FB

    A few things which stood out to me:

    A professor at Princeton found that our brains sometimes process images of people who are poor or homeless as if they were not humans but things.

    Likewise, psychology experiments suggest that affluence may erode compassion. When research subjects are asked to imagine great wealth, or just look at a computer screen saver with money, they become less inclined to share or help others. That may be why the poorest 20 percent of Americans give away a larger share of their incomes than the wealthiest 20 percent.

    A Pew survey this year found that a majority of Republicans, and almost one-third of Democrats, believe that if a person is poor the main reason is “lack of effort on his or her part.”
    The bolded are things I suggested in another thread not too long ago. It was based on my personal theories & observations, but I'm not surprised to see these findings.

    What do you think about the "compassion gap"?
    True? False? Justifiable? Why or why not?
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  2. #2
    I could do things Hard's Avatar
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    There has been a lot of studies on this exact topic in the past decade, and every year it seems like a news article like this comes up. It's quite fascinating to me, and it seems quite counter-intuitive on the surface.

    If the research shows evidence that it's true, then it must be. On an intuitive level, I think nearly everyone would agree that (most of) those who are more well off, are less likely to be compassionate towards others. In particular to those who are deemed "below" them in some regard. In this study it's referring to just money, but it can be extended. Those who stand on a higher pecking order tend to care less about those who are below them. We see this in social circles, work, media, etc.

    What is surprising to most, is the evidence that folks who are less well off are more compassionate, caring, and giving. The reasoning is usually that since they have less, the truly get what it is like to not have it, and don't want others in similar situation to suffer. They have also established that giving to others uplifts mood and makes one feel better in a rather long lasting way for most individuals. So there would be drive for them to do it as well. It makes them feel better about a shitty situation, and it helps someone else. So it simply makes the most sense on an emotional level. Although it is not exactly practical to do.

    As for how to solve this? I don't really think it's possible. I do not see in any of our lifetimes, that poverty will be fixed. I honestly think it is inevitiable in the world due to the nature of large groups, and inherient greed in most. We really would have to change human nature to fix it. There will always be a minority of individuals who just won't care. Even if they used to be poor and know what it's like. We all have that potential, and education can stop it, but only for some. Personalites are diverse, and some just don't care. It is what it is. We'd never be able to solve this unless we eliminated those personalities from the top positions, and it won't happen. In a lot of ways we need them.

    I think what would be better is to teach understanding, not so much compassion. It won't solve the problem though. Fixing it takes A LOT of energy, way more than nearly everyone has. It also doesn't really have a direct impact, and you'll never be able to get people to care enough to do it.
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  3. #3
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    It's that same Victorian mentality that poverty is a punishment for moral failings.

    Personally, I think people choose to find excuses not to empathise to spare themselves the pangs of sympathy. To admit that poverty is a problem and it's not the poor's fault puts yourself in a unpleasant position, because it raises uncomfortable questions: "Why is this happening?", "Am I partially to blame?", "What can be done about it?". Every child you see going without pains you a little inside and the seemingly insurmountable hopelessless of it all is very disheartening. It's easier to find some rationale for why it's justified and why we shouldn't care, and absolve yourself of empathy/guilt/pain/responsibility.
    INFP 4w5 so/sp

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    they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.

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  4. #4
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Luke 21:1-4

    Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
    What surprises me is how many of these wealthy also claim to be Christian.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

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    deplorable basketcase Tellenbach's Avatar
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    The wealthy give less to charity because they pay a lot more taxes compared to the poor. The top 5% of income earners in the U.S. pays 60% of the federal income taxes, while making 37% of the total income. The bottom 50% pays 3% but earn 12% of the total income. If the government taxed less, everyone would be more generous.

    Another thing to consider: the wealthy Americans are very frequently business owners who have to pay corporate taxes, payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, and a host of benefits to their workers.
    Senator Rand Paul is alive because of modern medicine and because his attacker punches like a girl.

  6. #6
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tellenbach View Post
    The wealthy give less to charity because they pay a lot more taxes compared to the poor. The top 5% of income earners in the U.S. pays 60% of the federal income taxes, while making 37% of the total income. The bottom 50% pays 3% but earn 12% of the total income. If the government taxed less, everyone would be more generous.

    Another thing to consider: the wealthy Americans are very frequently business owners who have to pay corporate taxes, payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, and a host of benefits to their workers.
    These are taxes on the business as an entity itself, not personal income taxes. If you consider charitable giving as a fraction of disposable income (i.e. what is left after essential expenses are paid, including taxes), I suspect it is still higher for the poor.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  7. #7
    deplorable basketcase Tellenbach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis
    If you consider charitable giving as a fraction of disposable income (i.e. what is left after essential expenses are paid, including taxes), I suspect it is still higher for the poor.
    You're probably correct, but why should we exclude taxes? Money is money. The fairest way to do it would be to add up all the money given to the govt and to charities divided by your total income before taxes (the gross income).

    Compassion Index = (charitable donations + government payments)/ gross income.

    The NYT is pushing a wealth redistribution agenda and this is the second editorial or blog post I've seen (posted in these forums) that's pushing the income inequality narrative, which is nonsense.
    Senator Rand Paul is alive because of modern medicine and because his attacker punches like a girl.

  8. #8
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    The studies indicate what happens when you think about dollar bills, but just because someone is wealthy doesn't mean money is on their mind.

    That said, I think that the relationship between the amount of liquidity someone possesses and the level of generousness they feel works both ways. No matter what income bracket you find yourself in, the synergy leads to a cycle in which it's difficult to escape/ascend your class. There's also something to be said about how one views money - you can see it as finite and expendable, or you can see it as a fluid asset that evolves over time with the investments you make.

    There are kinds of people that shell out money not because of their capacity for empathy, but because it just fits within their schema to blow a paycheck at the end of the week. As much as I wish I could chalk that up to someone feeling the need to benevolently stimulate the economy, I've never met a person who really thinks that way. Furthermore, there's something to be said about the relationship between one's general willingness to give and their willingness to spend; those attitudes could easily fall into the general categories of impulsiveness and openness to experience.

    In general, I think if people made a mindful effort to give, then everyone would be happier for it.

  9. #9
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tellenbach View Post
    The wealthy give less to charity because they pay a lot more taxes compared to the poor. The top 5% of income earners in the U.S. pays 60% of the federal income taxes, while making 37% of the total income. The bottom 50% pays 3% but earn 12% of the total income. If the government taxed less, everyone would be more generous.

    Another thing to consider: the wealthy Americans are very frequently business owners who have to pay corporate taxes, payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, and a host of benefits to their workers.


    Seriously?
    INFP 4w5 so/sp

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  10. #10
    deplorable basketcase Tellenbach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross
    Seriously?
    I'm not sure what you are disputing. There is plenty of evidence that show charitable donations going down when taxes are raised. I might also add that since the bottom quintile is likely receiving government assistance, they aren't actually being being charitable with their own money. They are being "compassionate" with the money taxed and redistributed from the top quintiles.
    Senator Rand Paul is alive because of modern medicine and because his attacker punches like a girl.

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