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I am a graduate student in a nurse practitioner program. This week we had a discussion in class about whether low SES was a preventable risk factor. As a  practitioner I firmly believe that we have an obligation to help others rise from their circumstances. Of course the TP types attribute poverty to individual failings and character flaws. This weeks moderator made several drogatory remarks about progressive politics which I felt compelled to debunk or at the very least present an alternative history. Follow me below the orange dohickey for a story that I wanted to preserve.

The original discussion question was:
Can low socioeconomic status be prevented? Why or why not?

My Response: Absolutely we can ameliorate the impacts of poverty. Evidence from the world stage shows that societies with lower levels of inequality actually perform better on a variety of health outcomes. 25% of American children are raised in poverty. High levels of inequality impede social mobility.

Citing Enriching Children Enriching the Nation at

Respondent #3
Krugman and Stiglitz's policies are what brought us this inequality try this guy: (Citing a Milton Friedman video. Link not shared because I don't care to pollute the orange ocean)

My response

I quoted Wm Greider "People everywhere now understand what Friedman's kind of "freedom" means. America has been brutally coarsened by his success at popularizing this dictum--millions of innocents injured, mutual trust gravely weakened, society demoralized by the hardening terms of life. Most people know in their gut this is wrong but see no easy way to resist it. Friedman's utopia is also drenched in personal corruption. The proliferating scandals in business, finance and government flow directly from his teaching people to go for it and disregard moral qualms."Friedman's Cruel Legacy

The reality is that the states that embrace Mr. Friedmans philosophy most aggressively are those with the greatest levels of poverty, inequality and poor health. (TX, MS and LA are prime examples......)

Respondent #3
The idea that people who don't want their earnings stolen from them to give to others are only interested in themselves is the timeless argument of the left. This is the real BS. Poor people in America have cars and TVs and many eat too much. Is this really poverty? Have you actually researched Friedman's philosophy or do you just copy and paste critiques?

My response
One of the things that I look towards is for policies that work and deliver results. As an ex poli sci major I have looked at both sides of these issues.  The obtained results do not favor Mr. Friedmans philosophy as being an effective way to manage societies problems. there is a wide disconnect between theory and obtained results.  

I posted data and evidence based work to support why I think poverty amelioration is good social policy.  Do you really think that your earnings are being stolen when taxes are used to pay for schools, health care, roads and ????. Criticizing people who are less fortunate for having a TV or a car is mind boggling to me. (How can someone get to work without transportation?) (One of the reasons poverty is linked to obesity is not eating too much if anything it is that high quality food as being too expensive. to purchase on a limited income.)

I would encourage you to read Mountains beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder. relative inequality is a strong driver of poor health whether it is in Haiti or in harlem.....

Elizabeth Warren has made 2 rather pithy critiques of Messr. Friedmann and his policies.

The coming collapse of the middle class.

Rebuilding the Middle Class

Another classmate
Thanks for the great resources Pete.  I totally agree that we can ameliorate low socio-economic status, but I don't think we will ever get rid of it completely.  Giving the kids from low socio-economic status a sense of community (that doesn't include gang involvement) would be a great start.  We keep pushing our kids to learn more and more in school (my kids are doing math in 1st grade that I was learing in 3rd) but we are lacking in teaching them skills in resiliency.  If we could get kids to understand that the kid who wears pants that are too short or dirty shirts to school may have a difficult home life and teach them to be compassionate rather than indifferent towards that child, I think it would make a world of difference.  Teaching kids that they what happened during their childhood will always be with them in some respect, but that they have an opportunity to write their own history as an adult could be an invaluable lesson.  This is not an overnight solution, but I really do think the answer lies more in prevention, and that if we are more active in our communities, we will be able to make some changes over time.

Respondent #3
Great post Missy! Very well stated. It really is a problem how harsh children can be too each other and the effects that can play throughout a person's life. At my kids school, they have a social curriculum (It's a very "progressive" school). My son was just sent home a worksheet that discussed compassion. Does this take time from those advanced academic standards that you mentioned? You got me thinking about something else though, I hope kids don't think my kid has a difficult home life cuz he wears pants that are too short. :) He'll get new ones for Christmas

My Response
Its one of the reasons I tend to go on a toot about  early childhood education. One paper I stumbled across referenced a 17:1 savings ratio for early intervention efforts. (Art Rolnick had a great presentation about guaranteed pre-k education at MEA a few years ago. He made the point that business plans with a 15% annual return will always have investors.

The best investment we can have is in kids.....

Respondent #3
Early childhood education is available now and parents who choose this investment can have their 15% return but it seems you are suggesting that all children should be forced out of their families and into institutions at an earlier age. I'd like to pass on that investment

My response
No one is saying that. If you read the proposals carefully the economists are saying that early childhood education should be available at no financial barrier to children and their families,

The point is that society as a whole gains about 12% lifetime ROR through making early childhood education available to families. Individuals gain about 4-5% ROR from their participation in pre-k education

Some choice quotes from Respondent #3
How is the word justice in "criminal justice" different or similiar to the word justice in "social justice"?

Thank you Lindsey! You touched on the idea's I was thinking are important to discuss in regards to MI. You are correct, the data shows that most people continue the socioeconomic status they were born in. This has not changed as we have moved closer and closer to socialism. The unions that speak for the nursing profession suggest that we should move further towards socialism. We have an obesity epidemic among poor people, perhaps it is not the amount of resources we have but the choices we make. Those choices are, as you say, heavily influenced by our education at home and at school.

In summary he is a typical know nothing who does not choose to listen to anything that does not agree with his narrow world view.

My Essay defending progressive alternatives:

One of the things that we can strive for is reducing the impact of disparities on achievement. (Whether it is health, economic, social or emotional.) If we don't put the tools in place to help people overcome disparity society as a whole loses out. Plenty of people have the talent and desire to be skilled tradesman and become self supportive but if they cannot access training because of health, emotional or financial barriers the cycle of dependency continues.

My behavioral training comes through because I believe that good systems help yield good results for people.  (FWIW I am not a socialist but I do believe that social democratic principles help deliver better results.)

From a psychological standpoint people need to believe that they can win if they play the game by the rules. So many people are trapped in situations by learned helplessness. Part of our role as providers is to teach and support people that they can make changes to  make their lives better.

(It takes one person to believe that a person can succeed and that makes all the difference in the world for that person.) As helping professionals we are the person who can help change their world for the better through our care and mentorship.

A little family history (well a lot actually :))

My great grandfather was a second son in Norway. He had a high school education (very well educated for Norway in the 1880s). He could not inherit the family farm. This led to his emigration. One of the last homesteaders in SD. He improved his 160 acres that was given to him by the government. He had 12 children who lived to adulthood. He sent my grandmother and great aunt to nursing school in Chicago. He did this because he wanted to make sure that his daughters could support themselves and he saw education as the key. My grandmother later became one of the first CRNA's in MN. My grandmother sent both of her daughters to nursing school for the very same reasons. My parents also encouraged me to pursue education and I became a third generation RN as a second career. My daughter is a pediatric ICU nurse.

The point is that targeted government help helped establish a family pattern of self sufficiency. Without that first bit of help it is highly unlikely that my grandfather would have been able to help his children succeed. How many peoples lives were saved because my grandmother was there to help as a nurse? How many LPN's (one of whom went on to become a PhD nurse) were trained because my mother was there to teach them? How many children have been helped because my daughter was there to provide care? None of this would have happened without a combination of family and government resources.  It was all made possible because the resources were there to give people the skills they needed.

Response #1
Thank you for sharing a real-life story to illustrate the principles you have espoused in this discussion, Peter. Your family's story is inspirational and very much apart of that web of connectivity that has played such an effective role in helping to move families and individuals to raise themselves up in effort to make better lives, better memories, a better nation of people.  Somehow, it seems as if the fervor and the sense of self-efficacy about the possibility of the journey has altered somewhat. We need to recapture that belief and sense of commitment which propelled so many onward in pursuit of those better dreams, better lives. We need each other.
Response #2
Pete, great testimony on how a little assistance can affect multiple generations! I also liked what you said about learned helplessness. I think there's a bit of that moving thru our country!J
Response #3
Where did the government get the land?

Respondent #3 is the die hard tea partier. I am not sure that he will succeed as an NP as he is way too judgemental about patients that he will see as an NP.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Ugh. I can't read all of respondent 3's answers (7+ / 0-)

    for the same reason I can't discuss politics with one of my friends. If it's going to make me sick, it's not worth it. Bleah. What an awful view of life.

    •  OMG. (5+ / 0-)

      Of course I don't like all the customers at work -- who possibly could?

      But there's one guy...before, I just thought he was an asshole, y'know?

      Since last weekend, he has proven himself to be a vile racist GOPer.

      I don't think I can stand to wait on him anymore, and I think I am going to quickly spread that to all my coworkers...none of whom are racists.

      He walks in?  I'm gonna be outta the "box."  Because his racist spewings make me want to hurl.  And sooner or later, I will tell him so...and get my ass fired.  Better to just see another task that needs to be accomplished -- anything to avoid the bastard.

      To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

      by Youffraita on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 12:59:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Is there a non-confrontational approach? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lorikeet, Youffraita

        Would you be supported in saying something that conveys the following:

        "Sir, we have customers from all backgrounds, and varied beliefs. It sometimes hurts our business when customers share their opinions about politics and social topics out loud. Times are tough, so, as a regular customer, we are hoping you will be willing to help us stay in business by not sharing political and social opinions while in the store."

        •  That's a terrific approach! (0+ / 0-)

          And one that I don't think I am capable of delivering.  My version would go something like:  "Ged oudda here, ya fucking fuck shithead racist Rethuglican ASSHOLE."  

          Because if I don't completely sublimate my feelings, they get expressed in no uncertain terms.

          Running away and making my coworkers (who probably don't know what a racist he is b/c he's not stupid enough to say racist shit to someone with brown skin) deal with him will probably save my job, and make that rat-bastard uncomfortable at the same time.

          It's a win-win!

          To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

          by Youffraita on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 12:08:38 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  The Example..... (8+ / 0-)

    Look at the President.  His parents divorced, he only saw his father twice in his life, his grandparents brought him up while his mom was in school & far away.  His mom was also on foodstamps @ one point in his young life.

    He tells the story of his mom getting him up early in the morning before school to tutor him.  When he complained, she said "this is no picnic for me either, buddy".

    Somehow he & she persevered.  And.....look at him now.  

  •  Gotta love Norway & Norwegians. (3+ / 0-)

    The sister of an ex of mine said (this was back around 1979) that she would stay in Norway b/c the U.S. was too decadent.

    I didn't see it then.  It is incredibly obvious now.

    To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

    by Youffraita on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 12:52:26 AM PST

  •  Judgmental medical workers are scary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chun Yang, radical simplicity

    They do it (judge).  They do it more than you think they do.  Do they ever kill people?  I don't know.  But when someone of a different race, religion, or political bent sticks a needle in your arm, you wonder.

    Hey, GOP - Get In, Sit Down, Shut up, & Hang On!

    by 88kathy on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 05:05:47 AM PST

  •  excellent rebuttals to an idiot (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mary Mike, radical simplicity

    Everything in this article is great, and the horrors of respondent #3 are even valuable because theyre so well demolished.  About the only reasonable thing I ever heard Milton Friedman say (in person, he was the speaker when I was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa) was that sometimes regulation can have perverse effects.  This is true but isn't a reason to avoid all regulation as he was trying to say.  Where would be we without the progressive movement of the 1890s-1910s?  No FDA, no antitrust....
       How sad that in almost 2013 our income inequality is almost back to 1913.  What a huge waste of human potential that every American kid can't have the best early education and, like most wealthy democracies, more or less free college tuition.  Some would waste it, but some would amaze us with what they achieve.      

  •  Whats most amazing to me..... (0+ / 0-)

    I've worked as an RN now for nearly 20 years, and can't believe the number of colleagues who share this distorted and hardened worldview about the poor (whom they care for!)

    Good luck with your program.  Be careful in how you share your viewpoints.

    Romney supporters: Do you love your country, more than you hate President Obama?

    by Boberto on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 11:38:26 PM PST

    •   (0+ / 0-)

      I think that what #3 missed is just how lucky he is in life. The corrollary is to be appreciative for his success. There but for the grace of god go I......

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