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Offlinewingnutx
Registered: 09/25/00
Posts: 2,268
Last seen: 5 years, 10 months
Face it, you'll never be rich
    #1987358 - 10/07/03 06:01 PM (13 years, 7 months ago)

Why do Americans still believe in the rags-to-riches fairy tale? In this final extract from his explosive new book, Michael Moore explains why the corporate bosses will never let the American dream become a reality

Tuesday October 7, 2003
The Guardian


Buy Dude, Where's My Country? at Amazon.co.uk

Perhaps the biggest success in the war on terror has been its ability to distract the nation from the corporate war on us. In the two years since the attacks of 9/11, American businesses have been on a punch-drunk rampage that has left millions of average Americans with their savings gone and their pensions looted, their hopes for a comfortable future for their families diminished or extinguished. The business bandits (and their government accomplices) who have wrecked our economy have tried to blame it on the terrorists, they have tried to blame it on Clinton, and they have tried to blame it on us.
But, in fact, the wholesale destruction of our economic future is based solely on the greed of the corporate mojahedin.

The takeover has happened right under our noses. We've been force-fed some mighty powerful "drugs" to keep us quiet while we're being mugged by this lawless gang of CEOs. One of these drugs is called fear and the other is called Horatio Alger.

The fear drug works like this: you are repeatedly told that bad, scary people are going to kill you, so place all your trust in us, your corporate leaders, and we will protect you. But since we know what's best, don't question us if we want you to foot the bill for our tax cut, or if we decide to slash your health benefits or jack up the cost of buying a home. And if you don't shut up and toe the line and work your ass off, we will sack you - and then just try to find a new job in this economy, punk!

The other drug is nicer. It is first prescribed to us as children in the form of a fairy tale - but a fairy tale that can actually come true! It is the Horatio Alger myth. Alger was one of the most popular American writers of the late 1800s. His stories featured characters from impoverished backgrounds who, through pluck and determination and hard work, were able to make huge successes of themselves in this land of boundless opportunity. The message was that anyone can make it in America, and make it big.

We are addicted to this happy rags-to-riches myth in this country. People in other industrialised democracies are content to make a good enough living to pay their bills and raise their families. Few have a cutthroat desire to strike it rich. They live in reality, where there are only going to be a few rich people, and you are not going to be one of them. So get used to it.

Of course, rich people in those countries are very careful not to upset the balance. Even though there are greedy bastards among them, they do have some limits placed on them. In the manufacturing sector, for example, British CEOs make 24 times as much as their average workers - the widest gap in Europe. German CEOs only make 15 times more than their employees, while Swedish CEOs get 13 times as much. But here in the US, the average CEO makes 411 times the salaries of their blue-collar workers. Wealthy Europeans pay up to 65% in taxes, and they know better than to bitch too loud about it or the people will make them fork over even more.

In the US, we are afraid to sock it to them. We hate to put our CEOs in prison when they break the law. We are more than happy to cut their taxes even as ours go up! We don't want to do anything that could harm us on that day we end up millionaires. It's so believable because we have seen it come true. In every community there's at least one person prancing around as the rags-to-riches poster child, conveying the not-so-subtle message: "SEE! I MADE IT! YOU CAN, TOO!!"

It is this seductive myth that led so many millions of working people to become investors in the stock market during the 90s. They saw how rich the rich got in the 80s and thought, "Hey, this could happen to me!"

The wealthy did everything they could to en courage this attitude. Understand that in 1980 only 20% of Americans owned a share of stock. Wall Street was the rich man's game and it was off-limits to the average Joe and Jane. Near the end of the 1980s, though, the rich were pretty much tapped out with their excess profits and could not figure out how to make the market keep growing. I don't know if it was the brainstorm of one genius at a brokerage firm or the smooth conspiracy of all the well-heeled, but the game became, "Hey, let's convince the middle class to give us their money and we can get even richer!"

Suddenly, it seemed like everyone I knew jumped on the stock market bandwagon. They let their unions invest all their pension money in stocks. Story after story ran in the media about how everyday working people were going to be able to retire as near-millionaires! It was like a fever that infected everyone. Workers immediately cashed their pay cheques and called their broker to buy more stocks. Their broker!

There were ups and downs, but mostly ups, lots of ups, and you could hear yourself saying, "My stock's up 120%! My worth has tripled!" You eased the pain of daily living by imagining the retirement villa you would buy some day or the sports car you could buy tomorrow if you wanted to cash out now. No, don't cash out! It's only going to go higher! Stay in for the long haul! Easy Street, here I come!

But it was a sham. It was all a ruse concocted by the corporate powers-that-be who never had any intention of letting you into their club. They just needed your money to take them to that next level, the one that insulates them from ever having to actually work for a living. They knew the big boom of the 90s couldn't last, so they needed your money to artificially inflate the value of their companies so their stocks would reach such a phantasmal price that, when it was time to cash out, they would be set for life, no matter how bad the economy got.

And that's what happened. While the average sucker was listening to all the blowhards on CNBC tell him that he should buy even more stock, the ultra-rich were quietly getting out of the market, selling off the stocks of their own company first. In September 2002, Fortune magazine released a staggering list of these corporate crooks who made off like bandits while their company's stock prices had dropped 75% or more between 1999 and 2002.

At the top of the list of these evildoers was Qwest Communications. At its peak, Qwest shares traded at nearly $40. Three years later the same shares were worth $1. Over that period, Qwest's director, Phil Anschutz, and its former CEO, Joe Nacchio, and the other officers made off with $2.26bn simply by selling out before the price hit rock bottom.

Meanwhile, the average investor stayed in, listening to all the rotten advice. And the market kept going down, down, down. More than four trillion dollars was lost in the stock market. Another trillion dollars in pension funds and university endowments is now no longer there.

So, here's my question: after fleecing the American public and destroying the American dream for most working people, how is it that, instead of being drawn and quartered and hung at dawn at the city gates, the rich got a big wet kiss from Congress in the form of a record tax break, and no one says a word? How can that be?

I think it's because we're still addicted to the Horatio Alger fantasy drug. Despite all the damage and all the evidence to the contrary, the average American still wants to hang on to this belief that maybe, just maybe, he or she (mostly he) just might make it big after all. So don't attack the rich man, because one day that rich man may be me!

Listen, friends, you have to face the truth: you are never going to be rich. The chance of that happening is about one in a million. Not only are you never going to be rich, but you are going to have to live the rest of your life busting your butt just to pay the cable bill and the music and art classes for your kid at the public school where they used to be free.

And it is only going to get worse. Forget about a pension, forget about social security, forget about your kids taking care of you when you get old because they are barely going to have the money to take care of themselves.

If you are still clinging to the belief that not all of Corporate America is that bad, consider this example of what our good captains of industry have been up to of late.

Are you aware that your company may have taken out a life insurance policy on you? Oh, how nice of them, you say? Yeah, here's how nice it is.

During the past 20 years, companies including Disney, Nestle, Procter & Gamble, Dow Chemical, JP Morgan Chase and Wal-Mart have been secretly taking out life insurance policies on their low- and mid-level employees and then naming themselves - the corporation - as the beneficiary! That's right: When you die, the company - not your survivors - gets to cash in. If you die on the job, all the better, as most life-insurance policies are geared to pay out more when someone dies young. And if you live to a ripe old age, even long after you've left the company, the company still gets to collect on your death. And regardless of when you croak, the company is able to borrow against the policy and deduct the interest from its corporate taxes.

Many of these companies have set up a system for the money to go to pay for executive bonuses, cars, homes or trips to the Caribbean. Your death goes to helping make your boss a very happy man sitting in his Jacuzzi on St Bart's.

And what does Corporate America privately call this special form of life insurance?

Dead Peasants Insurance.

That's right. "Dead Peasants". Because that's what you are to them - peasants. And you are sometimes worth more to them dead than alive.

? These edited extracts are taken from Dude, Where's My Country? by Michael Moore, published today by Allen Lane, price ?16.99.



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OfflineMisterKite
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Re: Face it, you'll never be rich [Re: wingnutx]
    #1987544 - 10/07/03 07:13 PM (13 years, 7 months ago)

No one will read that, it's too long. How about paraphrasing some stuff instead of just copy/pasting? I need to get that book, Michael Moore is awesome even if a lot of the stuffi n Bowling for Columbine was untrue or misrepresented. I love Stupid White Men, has anyone read Downsize This?


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"But for the sake of some little mouthful of flesh we deprive a soul of the sun and light, and of that proportion of life and time it had been born into the world to enjoy."


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OfflineBaby_Hitler
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Re: Face it, you'll never be rich [Re: wingnutx]
    #1987562 - 10/07/03 07:17 PM (13 years, 7 months ago)

Now, more than ever:


Evil


Robot


Army


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InvisibleInnvertigo
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Re: Face it, you'll never be rich [Re: wingnutx]
    #1987581 - 10/07/03 07:21 PM (13 years, 7 months ago)

What's considered rich? noone on this site has been able to tell me that. i want to know so i can look forward to my tax break.


--------------------

America....FUCK YEAH!!!

Words of Wisdom: Individual Rights BEFORE Collective Rights

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." -- Thomas Jefferson


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Invisibleluvdemshrooms
Two inch dick..but it spins!?


Registered: 11/29/01
Posts: 34,186
Loc: Lost In Space
Re: Face it, you'll never be rich [Re: Innvertigo]
    #1987610 - 10/07/03 07:29 PM (13 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

Innvertigo said:
What's considered rich? noone on this site has been able to tell me that.  i want to know so i can look forward to my tax break. 


:lol:


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You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for that my dear friend is the beginning of the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it. ~ Adrian Rogers


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Offlinewingnutx
Registered: 09/25/00
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Re: Face it, you'll never be rich [Re: MisterKite]
    #1987614 - 10/07/03 07:30 PM (13 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

No one will read that, it's too long. How about paraphrasing some stuff instead of just copy/pasting? I need to get that book,




If this exerpt from the book is too long, how are you going to read the book?

The piece boiled down to: You will never get ahead in the USA, written by a guy who did just that.


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Invisibleluvdemshrooms
Two inch dick..but it spins!?


Registered: 11/29/01
Posts: 34,186
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Re: Face it, you'll never be rich [Re: wingnutx]
    #1987647 - 10/07/03 07:41 PM (13 years, 7 months ago)

A well done summation!


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You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for that my dear friend is the beginning of the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it. ~ Adrian Rogers


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InvisibleInnvertigo
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Re: Face it, you'll never be rich [Re: luvdemshrooms]
    #1987663 - 10/07/03 07:44 PM (13 years, 7 months ago)

*rim shot*

seriously is rich 100K a year 200K a million? i used to think 30K a year was a lot of money then when i made 30 it wasn't all that much. 50k became a lot of money then it wasn't. I want to know if i'm rich so i can call Bush and he could get me some more money.


--------------------

America....FUCK YEAH!!!

Words of Wisdom: Individual Rights BEFORE Collective Rights

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." -- Thomas Jefferson


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OfflineMisterKite
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Re: Face it, you'll never be rich [Re: luvdemshrooms]
    #1987672 - 10/07/03 07:46 PM (13 years, 7 months ago)

It strains my eyes to read the internet for a long peroid of time. And MIchael Moore got ahead in entertainment business, not corporate America, which is what the excerpt seemed to be about.


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"But for the sake of some little mouthful of flesh we deprive a soul of the sun and light, and of that proportion of life and time it had been born into the world to enjoy."


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Offlinewingnutx
Registered: 09/25/00
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Re: Face it, you'll never be rich [Re: MisterKite]
    #1987679 - 10/07/03 07:47 PM (13 years, 7 months ago)

use a bigger font or print it out.


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InvisibleInnvertigo
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Re: Face it, you'll never be rich [Re: MisterKite]
    #1987689 - 10/07/03 07:49 PM (13 years, 7 months ago)

what do you consider to be rich?


--------------------

America....FUCK YEAH!!!

Words of Wisdom: Individual Rights BEFORE Collective Rights

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." -- Thomas Jefferson


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Invisibleluvdemshrooms
Two inch dick..but it spins!?


Registered: 11/29/01
Posts: 34,186
Loc: Lost In Space
Re: Face it, you'll never be rich [Re: Innvertigo]
    #1987710 - 10/07/03 07:55 PM (13 years, 7 months ago)

I think the line is somewhere between Daniel Ziff and Bill Gates.


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You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for that my dear friend is the beginning of the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it. ~ Adrian Rogers


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Invisiblecarbonhoots
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Re: Face it, you'll never be rich [Re: wingnutx]
    #1987720 - 10/07/03 07:57 PM (13 years, 7 months ago)

For further reading on this subject...

just because you came here yearning to be free doesn't necessarily mean you're going to be. You gotta become a millionaire first.


THE WRATH OF THE MILLIONAIRE WANNABE’S
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The right likes to think that every Leftist “hates” the “rich”. I suppose there are those on the Left who hate the rich, but if they do, their anger is misplaced. It’s the “wannabe’s” you have to watch out for.

The inscription on the Statue of Liberty says “send me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” That’s pretty much how it was from Jamestown to Barry Goldwater. Oppressed peasants and proletarians from the hierarchical cesspools of Europe - and lately Latin America and Southeast Asia - came here to be free. Somewhere along the way, some of us got the idea that the Statue of Liberty invites the huddled masses “yearning to be millionaires”. They got the idea that just because you came here “yearning to be free” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be. You gotta become a millionaire first.

That’s what the “dittohead” is. He’s a millionaire wannabe. He’s bought into the sales pitch of Carlton Sheets, Don LaPree and all those Amway kooks that “you too can be rich beyond your wildest dreams.” He watches their infomercials complete with large breasted babes reclining on a Rolls in front of some mansion in Southern California. “I started with nothing, and now I have all this” some lounge lizard in a plaid sport coat tells them. And they believe it. It never occurs to them that assuming that these guys are as rich as advertised, they got that way as high-tech grifters.

It’s the new myth of America. Even the dittohead who is smart enough to realize that there’s no “get rich quick” formula, still wants that Rolls with the bimbo as standard equipment. And he believes with all his heart that anybody can get it - if they want it bad enough. What’s worse, he believes that’s what life is all about. It’s all about living in a house with rooms you never go in. It’s about buying expensive sports cars, that cost a house payment every month to keep running. It’s about spending ten thousand dollars for a wristwatch - so people will see it and wish they had one.

It is inconceivable to him that most of us don’t want a ten thousand dollar wristwatch. He can’t understand any ambition other than accumulating things whose primary value is that other people don’t have them. He fails to appreciate those great joys in life that don’t cost anything at all. If he discovers such joys, he sets about figuring out a way to charge for it. Some of these guys would charge you for the air you breathe, if they could figure out how to meter it. Maybe that’s why some conservatives are hell bent on ruining the envrronment. So they can make “breathable air!” a commocity for sale. “And for an extra fifty thousand dollars, we can build your house on a lot with breathable air. Better hurry though, there aren’t many left.”

Of course eventually, these guy realize that not only are they not millionaires, they’re not making much progress toward that noble goal. That’s when they get ugly. You see, they see themselves as capable, intelligent, hard working people - and they are for the most part - who “have what it takes” to “make it”. They believe that the difference between those who “make it” and those who don’t is being “capable, intelligent and hardworking”. Things like “having rich parents”, “getting just plain lucky” or “being a crook” don’t factor into the equation anywhere. No, American society is a natural hierarchy where the most capable are “rich beyond their wildest dreams”, and the non-rich are chumps that just don’t measure up.

Only they are capable - some of them actually are - and they’re not rich. Clearly, something is broken, preventing these wannabes who “have what it takes” from reaching materialist heaven. Now here’s where it gets interesting. Since they “have what it takes”, there must be somebody else to blame. This from the people who accuse the poor of “blaming everybody but themselves”. The dittoheads do the very same thing. Its “tax and spend liberals”. It’s “big government”. For the more crude among them, it’s “the niggers”. Only they don’t use that word in public. Instead, they call them “minorities”.

It can’t be the rich to blame. That’s what they wannabe. And it can’t be them, they work hard, they’re smart. They’re playing the game “by the rules” - and they aren’t getting anywhere. Something must be holding them back. It must be all of those taxes they pay. You know, taxes for “social programs” for “minorities”. Not one of them has ever looked at the federal budget to see just how much of their taxes goes for “social programs”. We’re talking maybe five cents on the dollar. They don’t realize that 20 cents of every income tax dollar goes for interest payments to rich bond holders. They don’t realize that stealth fighters, nuclear powered aircraft carriers, and the guys to maintain and operate all of that Frankenstein military hardware cost a lot of money. To the tune of another 25 cents out of every tax dollar. They never go into the part of town where the “minorities” live and ask where that five cents on the dollar is going. They sure aren’t building “Don LaPre style” mansions with it. And I haven’t seen one Rolls in that part of town, though I have seen a few fifteen year old Lincoln’s - without a large breasted white woman lounging on them.

They never ask where the wealth of the “worthy” people who have “made it” with their “hard work” are getting their money. “I work hard. I go to work everyday” - like the rest of us don’t. These dittoheads don’t realize that “playing by the rules” means that they - the dittoheads - are producing what somebody else sells for a profit. These dittoheads don’t realize that when they go home and write checks for their rent, they’re house payment, their car payment, and their credit card payment, the biggest part of that payment is interest that goes to some millionaire. They don’t realize that those interest payments - this is in addition to the part of their taxes that is interest - add up to way more than they pay in taxes.

Or maybe they do realize it. Maybe they are perfectly willing to give the lion’s share of what they create at work, and then pay the lion’s share of what they earn at work to bond traders, Wall Street investment bankers, their boss and Don LaPree, because after all “that’s what I want to be able to do”.

But here’s something I’ll bet the dittoheads haven’t thought of. Maybe they’re the chumps. Maybe they’ve been sold a bogus “American dream” that never existed. Maybe “the rules” they play by were written by the people who have “made it” - not by the people who haven’t. And maybe - just maybe - the people who have “made it” wrote those rules to keep the wannabes chasing a dream that’s a mirage. Maybe Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Samuel Adams didn’t fight to make the world safe for John D. Rockefeller - or Don LaPre, either. Maybe the Rolls Royce complete with bimbo was left out of our inalienable rights for a reason. Maybe the “pursuit of happiness” Thomas Jefferson wrote about was something a bit more profound than the empty joy of owning things you don’t need so you can look down of down on the lesser mortals who lack your “ability”. Maybe Thomas Jefferson intended the “pursuit of happiness” to be something attainable not just for anybody - but for everybody.

Does that mean I think someone shouldn’t be free to spend ten thousand dollars for a wristwatch? What it means is that I want to look at a man who spent ten thousand dollars for a wristwatch, and feel free to laugh at the dumb son of a bitch.


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  -I'd rather have a frontal lobotomy than a bottle in front of me

CANADIAN CENTER FOR POLICY ALTERNATIVES


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InvisibleInnvertigo
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Registered: 02/09/01
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Re: Face it, you'll never be rich [Re: luvdemshrooms]
    #1987723 - 10/07/03 08:00 PM (13 years, 7 months ago)

Then i guess i won't be getting my checks anytime soon...DAMN!! even though they pay more taxes..


--------------------

America....FUCK YEAH!!!

Words of Wisdom: Individual Rights BEFORE Collective Rights

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." -- Thomas Jefferson


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Anonymous

Re: Face it, you'll never be rich [Re: Innvertigo]
    #1987725 - 10/07/03 08:01 PM (13 years, 7 months ago)

my favorite part is that the same people that complain about materialism are the ones bitching that the "poor" in america don't have enough money.

i go to maine every summer to do construction and repairs on poor folk's houses for free.

i once helped put a new roof (the old one was caving in) on a trailer that had a big screen TV inside, and a satellite dish, ATV, and horse on the outside. they also slept on mattresses placed on the floor and ran their dog breeding "business" out of their trailer = 120+ dogs inside the trailer (it smelled fucking horrible in the summertime... some folks told me that there were more dogs there in the winter, when the house was all closed up...  :razz:). we also installed a new floor in the place because the old one was rotting because it was soaked in dog piss.

the whole time we were there, the dad was watching TV on the big-screen while his two able-bodied sons listened to music or slept.

i'm not saying that everybody's like that... that was definitely the worst... but damn...

i've seen alot of fucked up living going on up there.

but yeah, it always amuses me how people can say that anyone making just enough to get by is really poor. if you've got electricity, you aren't poor. period.


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InvisibleInnvertigo
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Re: Face it, you'll never be rich [Re: ]
    #1987738 - 10/07/03 08:03 PM (13 years, 7 months ago)

we did a habitate for humanity thing a few weeks ago and the people who were getting the house had to help build it, just as it should be.


--------------------

America....FUCK YEAH!!!

Words of Wisdom: Individual Rights BEFORE Collective Rights

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." -- Thomas Jefferson


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Offlinehongomon
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Re: Face it, you'll never be rich [Re: Innvertigo]
    #1987743 - 10/07/03 08:04 PM (13 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

Innvertigo said:
What's considered rich? noone on this site has been able to tell me that. i want to know so i can look forward to my tax break.




Can people get rich, or does the word's nebulous nature make it impossible?


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Offlinehongomon
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Re: Face it, you'll never be rich [Re: wingnutx]
    #1987747 - 10/07/03 08:07 PM (13 years, 7 months ago)

I'd like to know a little more about the "Dead Peasant" thing. Is that legal?


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InvisibleInnvertigo
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Re: Face it, you'll never be rich [Re: hongomon]
    #1987749 - 10/07/03 08:07 PM (13 years, 7 months ago)

Rich is relative. If i made 50K in Uganda i'd be fucking rich, if i made 50K in my town i could barely pay the mortgage and the other bills.


--------------------

America....FUCK YEAH!!!

Words of Wisdom: Individual Rights BEFORE Collective Rights

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." -- Thomas Jefferson


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Offlinehongomon
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Re: Face it, you'll never be rich [Re: Innvertigo]
    #1987758 - 10/07/03 08:13 PM (13 years, 7 months ago)

Of course. I think we can assume that when people talk about being rich, or about rich people, they're using the word relative to their own context--their own country for example.


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