Zeph (surlygrrrly) wrote in antiacademia,

Of course the poor are lazy and the rich work really hard. I am only a sociologist, what do I know?

These are only some of the many insightful and compassionate responses my Introductory Sociology classes had to a question about what can be done to help those in poverty.

"The government already gives enough money for [welfare]. I don’t think we should do anything else [to help the poor]. If we give them too much then they will just take advantge of it and not want to work because why should you work when you get free money?"

This one referred to "well fair."

"You could fill out a "FAFSA" form. This includes information about your income, any investments you have, how many dependents you are supporting and so forth. The government examines your form and gives you money to pay for school. This is money that you do not have to pay back.. Not to mention, "Where there is a will, there is a way." There are hundreds of scholarships available to people."" (My emphasis)

"There’s no excuse for Tammy. She just isn’t working hard enough. She could get welfare or she could get a better job."

(This is in reference to Tammy, one of the people featured in the film, who lives in a crappy trailer in the country, has no car, and walks 10 and 1/2 miles to work at Burger King)

"Nothing should be done to help [poor people]. Everyone has the same opportunities and if you make bad choices then that is your problem."

"The only way to help poor people is they have to want to help themselves. Most poor people don’t want to work and are content with their situation. There is nothing that can be done if they don’t want to change."

"We should not do anything to help people in poverty. It is their fault they are poor. It is unacceptable to have another kid if you already have one and cannot take care of it. It is all about irresponsible choices. [They] made [their] own choices."

"The government already has a lot of programs in place. It is just that most people don’t want help. They like how they live. If they want help, we should help them but most don’t want it."

"Rich people should not have to take care of poor people. Most rich work very hard for their money and it is not fair that they should give it to the poor."


I showed them a film called People Like Us: Social Class in America and I spent 5 hours in class lecturing about class, inequality, and poverty, as well as trying to engage them in conversation about these things.

And this is what they come up with. WTF?

Am I wasting my breath? NOTHING seems to be getting through their thick little skulls. They spit out every stereotype about the poor that I so painstakingly tried to convey to them was NOT true.

What do you do with this?

In addition to these beauties there were a bevy of responses singing their own praises:

"Yes my parents bought me a brand new sports car for my 16th birthday, but I am not snobby. Some people said I am spoiled but I am not. I work very hard for everything I have."

No kid should have a new car. Ever. And no kid should drive a sports car or an SUV.

"I have a nice house, a nice car, an IPhone, a laptop, and pretty much every kind of technology. But, I work very hard for everything."

I guess his parents had nothing to do with any of this?

"In the film they showed only rich people having horses. But we have horses and we are not rich... Everyone has their own new car that we have to buy gas and insurance for, and we live in what some call an upper class neighborhood but really we are just middle class. We have a nice house and everything but it is not a mansion and we don't go to country clubs and parties all the time."

New cars for each kid and horses. Sounds rich to me. But then, I have never worked hard enough so I wouldn't know.

"I don't think there is anything wrong with judging people by their status symbols. It just shows that if you have nice things you worked really hard for them."

The future of our society is in their hands. I am scared.
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