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09-03-2010, 08:21 AM   #1
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Why people are poor

Anyone who thinks throwing money at people like extended unemployment benefits are a way to solve people's problems need to read this article and learn something.

jackpot-winners-just-as-likely-to-go-bust: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance

Researchers studied 35,000 people who one the Florida state lotto and found that the bankruptcy rate is the same for people who won small ($600-10,000) and people who won big ($50,000-150,000). The only difference was that the big jackpots delayed bankruptcy by a couple of years. The big winners didn't even have more assets when they file bankruptcy, the money just disappeared.

QuoteQuote:
"Our research suggests that perhaps there is something more systematic about the types of people who get themselves into financial trouble -- and the appropriate policy prescription for helping them out is going to be considerably more complex than giving them additional resources," says Hoekstra.

In addition, the findings challenge the assumption that bankruptcy is caused primarily by major financial shocks.

"Winning the lottery undid any negative shock (that previously occurred) for the large winners, and they still ended up filing for bankruptcy," Hoekstra says. "That is inconsistent with the idea that the only people who file for bankruptcy are those with negative shocks such as divorce, job loss or health issues."
If someone doesn't have the mindset to live within their means they will always be financially insecure and poor. If they do have that mindset the will always be financially secure even if they never become rich. At the end of the day it is and has always been a psychological mindset not an issue of how much you earn or how much you are taxed.

09-03-2010, 09:21 AM   #2
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What a silly article. So many unfounded conclusions.

Are they/you really saying that because 5.5% of the unsophisticated people who won something in the Florida lottery end up in bankruptcy, that getting $250 per week in unemployment benefits for a few more weeks so long as you document job search is the same thing? "Winners" include people who received as little as $600 and maxed out at $150,000. Moreover, most studies show the demographic of people who spend the most per capita on the lottery were poor and uneducated to begin with.

What this study may show is that people who believe that buying a lottery ticket is the way to solve their financial problems are not good money managers. It says nothing about why the vast majority of working poor are poor.

This quote is especially silly:
QuoteQuote:
Hoekstra says. It appears the simplest solution -- giving them cash -- doesn't enhance longer-term financial stability, and only postpones, rather than avoids, bankruptcy
First, I'm not aware of any government program that writes a poor person a check for $150,000. The day that happens, sign me up for the tea party. Second, saying that the winnings "postpone" bankruptcy implies that all of these folks were in debt over their heads and bound for bankruptcy when they won. The article does not indicate how many of those who filed bankruptcy got into trouble because of an event (death, divorce, illness, loss of job, etc.) that happened well after they had spent their "found" money. Finally, the observation that winners who file bankruptcy were no more likely to have paid off homes than non-winners says more about what it took during this period to buy a home outright in Florida than anything else. The median winning of $65,000 would not make nearly as much of a dent on the equity of a home in a market with an average sales price of over $200,000 for a 3BR home as the authors seem to assume.
09-03-2010, 09:45 AM - 1 Like   #3
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But wait a sec.

What do the poor lottery winners have to do with unemployment benefits?

Those who were laid off and otherwise displaced can't be categorized as lazy, shiftless suckers at the government teat. They were gainfully employed, paying taxes and so on. Many are/were home owners, and contributed to social stability. Most are Christian, many are born-again. Likely, just as many vote Republican as vote Democrat.

Now, through no fault of their own, they are jobless. Usually, they are in trouble with house payments and medical bills and credit cards, again due to the loss of job and the crash in housing (though there is a sizable minority with a share of the fault in this matter).

Apart from humane considerations, look at the economic ones: when there's no hiring, how does ending unemployment payments 'force' these people to find jobs? As more default on houses, this accelerates the housing 'correction'. The end result - and properly so, if you are a true capitalist - has to be a 'repricing' of these people's lives and job expectations - creative destruction - that ultimately results in a stronger economy.

The floor on income is represented by this equation: (cost of off shore labor * some inefficiency factor [usually ignored]) = salary + benefits here.
The floor on house prices is represented by, say, 1999, or 1980, or whenever our incomes were similar to the equation above.

Those with pensions will make out; those without will have the priviledge of contributing to society well into dotage.


---

Oh wait. I get it. Losing your job, losing your house, and getting unemployment = winning a lottery.
Somehow, to me that feels like anything but.
Now, being told I'm a freeloader, an un-disciplined poor lout, and undeserving of the unemployment payment, THAT will make me feel like I won the lotto! I'll get to sell my organs and children to pay for my wife's medical bills!

Last edited by Nesster; 09-03-2010 at 10:01 AM.
09-03-2010, 10:07 AM   #4
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Unemployment benefits are just the Programme De Jour to throw money at people in poverty to save them from unscrupulous shifty corporate overlords that are holding them down.

Notice that I said "like extended unemployment benefits."

What this shows is that over the long run a life changing windfall ($150,000) has as much benefit to a spendthrift as an extra paycheck ($600).

Another example of a recurring payment that they gave was the bush tax cuts were initially used to cut debt but then were squandered.

09-03-2010, 11:01 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikemike Quote
Unemployment benefits are just the Programme De Jour to throw money at people in poverty to save them from unscrupulous shifty corporate overlords that are holding them down.

Notice that I said "like extended unemployment benefits."

What this shows is that over the long run a life changing windfall ($150,000) has as much benefit to a spendthrift as an extra paycheck ($600).

Another example of a recurring payment that they gave was the bush tax cuts were initially used to cut debt but then were squandered.
You still haven't explained how unemployment payments, regular or extended, relate at all to a windfall payment from the lottery?

The median payment was $65,000. That's no more than $45,000 in your pocket-- unless you are destitute, and the lottery winning is your first dollar. The first mistaken assumption of this article is that these winnings were in fact a life-changing sum. $45k won't buy or pay off a house in Florida. It won't mean you can quit work. It will barely make a dent in your retirement needs. However, it will pay for some luxury items you wouldn't otherwise buy, and that's the kind of thing most people would probably buy with a windfall.

Calling these winners "spendthrifts" is a gratuitous insult. We have no idea what their finances were when they spent the money or why things went bad in the 5 years afterwards. For all we know, the winners might have used the funds to put their kidor themselves through some college or pay for an uninsured hospital stay. If you have a good job and buy a new K-7 tommorrow, then the next day you have a heart attack and you won't be able to work at that job any more, were you a "spendthrift" for buying a new camera?
09-03-2010, 11:19 AM   #6
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...as it turns out, I can think of exactly how I'd use the $45K after tax to put myself into Florida bankrupcy I'd use it on a down payment on a... $750K house! (This was during the go go Bush years, I'm thinking.) Presto, 2 1/2 years later I'm holding a $700K mortgage with a balloon due in another 2 1/2 years, and the house is worth $350K, theoretically, IF there was a buyer.

...as it turns out, if I were laid off from a well paying white collar job where my salary gets me that $65K lottery win unemployment benefit, I doubt I'll be putting that down on that house. No sir. I'd be thankful I could keep up with the rent and grocieries and CORBA (if I have that), and keep that cable TV plugged in. In theory, if I didn't get the benefit, I'd be scrambling around, hoping Walmart or Wendy's is hiring (as I won't be hired to most lesser white collar jobs, due to being over qualified, and there won't be many jobs at or near my old level)... and, should there be a medical emergency, I'd be right there at the bankrupcy court... OK, I'd eat mac n cheese so I'd keep the cable tv and internet going...
09-03-2010, 11:32 AM   #7
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Wow Mikemike. How uneducated you are! Do you realize that unemployment is an insurance program? The more you had worked before getting displaced, the more your 'benefits' are? It's like all greedy MOFOing insurance companies. They are ever so happy to

---------- Post added 09-03-10 at 10:34 AM ----------

accept payments, but the moment a 'disaster' like massive great depression levels of unemployment happens the insurance company calls foul! Same thing happened with Katrina. Statefarm said how if they actually had to pay out what they were required, they

---------- Post added 09-03-10 at 10:36 AM ----------

would lose billions. That's 'unfair.' They gambled and lost. Nothing toward or unfair happened.

09-03-2010, 11:39 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikemike Quote
Unemployment benefits are just the Programme De Jour to throw money at people in poverty to save them from unscrupulous shifty corporate overlords that are holding them down.

Notice that I said "like extended unemployment benefits."

What this shows is that over the long run a life changing windfall ($150,000) has as much benefit to a spendthrift as an extra paycheck ($600).

Another example of a recurring payment that they gave was the bush tax cuts were initially used to cut debt but then were squandered.
you oversimplify to the MAX... but I agree on one thing.. people that do not know how to become millionaires are very unlikely to stay millionaires w/ a lottery win...
but comparing ones "dream coming true" to subsistence living on unemployment is naive... and actually insulting.
Years ago there was a daytime talk show w/ 2 groups of people. 1 old money (heiresses ect.) who basically had money managers since birth and the other lottery winners... Of couse all 3 said they wished thaey never won the money due to all sorts of reasons... 1 women had been a beautician and started her "dream" (which we are all sold ) of starting her own business. She did and was convinced to expand... it all collaped and she ended up broke.. VERY foolish of her to try to create jobs and businesses when she was unqualified.
Another more personal story involved a gentleman whose brother convinced him to buy a boat (no not a row boat, a BIG boat)for him.. Terrible that he should be nice to his brother. What kind of american would do such a thing? his brother trashed the boat on a reef before he had insurance on it (IF his brother could even afford it). His brother insisted he buy him another one. He refused and apparently his relationship was toasted...... He stated he wished he never won since he cherished his connection with his brother... Sad...
As a side note.. "on average" most small businesses fail.. generally taking their money and someone elses as well... Ohhh how evil...
and from the article it does seem like many suppositions are drawn on few "facts".. but this made sense.
QuoteQuote:
What happened? Hoekstra says he can only speculate. "We know quite a lot about lottery winners' finances once they file for bankruptcy, but we certainly don't know what they were thinking when they won the money," he says. "It's possible that people in our sample weren't used to dealing with large sums of money, and thus they may not have used it wisely."
Ever been on unemployment and seen how large that sum is?????

---------- Post added 09-03-10 at 11:44 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by troglodyte Quote
Wow Mikemike. How uneducated you are! Do you realize that unemployment is an insurance program? The more you had worked before getting displaced, the more your 'benefits' are? It's like all greedy MOFOing insurance companies. They are ever so happy to

---------- Post added 09-03-10 at 10:34 AM ----------

accept payments, but the moment a 'disaster' like massive great depression levels of unemployment happens the insurance company calls foul! Same thing happened with Katrina. Statefarm said how if they actually had to pay out what they were required, they

---------- Post added 09-03-10 at 10:36 AM ----------

would lose billions. That's 'unfair.' They gambled and lost. Nothing toward or unfair happened.
Our common ground....... hate for insurance companies
They just raised (significantly) my homeowners policy because too many people were filing SMALL claims. There using the increase to force everyone into "cheaper" policies (ie same rate as last year) by upping the deductible by 5X.......

Last edited by jeffkrol; 09-03-2010 at 11:45 AM.
09-03-2010, 11:45 AM   #9
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Trogdolyte - one thing I've been meaning to ask you - when you read the posts, are you reading them in the same small chunks as you have to post them? If so, my hat's off to you, I doubt I'd have the patience to read some of this stuff, a line and a half at a time...
09-03-2010, 11:50 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
You still haven't explained how unemployment payments, regular or extended, relate at all to a windfall payment from the lottery?
I won't get into regular unemployment benefits (weeks 1-26) b/c that is really a form of insurance that someone who is qualified has a reasonable expectation to receive.

So the extended benefits are like the lottery because they are an unexpected source of cash flow, its an annuity not a windfall but still unexpected. For a 99er who received the average of $300/week for 73 weeks longer than regular unemployment benefits it is a $22,000 jackpot. Can I get you your tea party application yet?

The main argument that I have heard for continued extensions and for a perpetual lifeline to the 99ers is that it will help them stay afloat. It has become painfully obvious that trying to keep them afloat is like trying to save the Titanic with a bucket brigade.

QuoteQuote:
The median payment was $65,000. That's no more than $45,000 in your pocket-- unless you are destitute, and the lottery winning is your first dollar. The first mistaken assumption of this article is that these winnings were in fact a life-changing sum. $45k won't buy or pay off a house in Florida. It won't mean you can quit work. It will barely make a dent in your retirement needs. However, it will pay for some luxury items you wouldn't otherwise buy, and that's the kind of thing most people would probably buy with a windfall.

Calling these winners "spendthrifts" is a gratuitous insult. We have no idea what their finances were when they spent the money or why things went bad in the 5 years afterwards. For all we know, the winners might have used the funds to put their kidor themselves through some college or pay for an uninsured hospital stay. If you have a good job and buy a new K-7 tommorrow, then the next day you have a heart attack and you won't be able to work at that job any more, were you a "spendthrift" for buying a new camera?
The researcher analyze their bankruptcy filings to check for negative financial shocks so given that his research is being published in a peer reviewed journal I will take his word over your speculation for a rationalizing why these winners go broke.

At the end of the day financial security means making responsible decisions, living within your means, insuring against risks i.e. having health insurance to cover the hospital stay, short term disability to cover the recovery period, and long term disability in case you are permanently put out of commission. I know 2 people off the top of my head who have gone through some very serious medical hardships and the combination of these three insurances and a fiscally responsible lifestyle kept them from going bankrupt, although they have had to scale back considerably by moving to smaller houses, selling 1 car, and other budget cuts. But that is the difference, almost every time I read a hard luck story about a 99er or unemployed person sinking fast it mentions how the cable company just cut them off after they have been unemployed for 2 years and their benefits ran out or some other ridiculous unnecessary expenses they still carried despite the bleak outlook of their personal future.
09-03-2010, 11:55 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
...as it turns out, I can think of exactly how I'd use the $45K after tax to put myself into Florida bankrupcy I'd use it on a down payment on a... $750K house! (This was during the go go Bush years, I'm thinking.) Presto, 2 1/2 years later I'm holding a $700K mortgage with a balloon due in another 2 1/2 years, and the house is worth $350K, theoretically, IF there was a buyer.

...as it turns out, if I were laid off from a well paying white collar job where my salary gets me that $65K lottery win unemployment benefit, I doubt I'll be putting that down on that house. No sir. I'd be thankful I could keep up with the rent and grocieries and CORBA (if I have that), and keep that cable TV plugged in. In theory, if I didn't get the benefit, I'd be scrambling around, hoping Walmart or Wendy's is hiring (as I won't be hired to most lesser white collar jobs, due to being over qualified, and there won't be many jobs at or near my old level)... and, should there be a medical emergency, I'd be right there at the bankrupcy court... OK, I'd eat mac n cheese so I'd keep the cable tv and internet going...
Apparently the study had some kind of control for the gaming of Florida bankruptcy. That ploy was specifically mentioned in the article.

The second part is exactly what the article says... that the payment postponed bankruptcy but did not avoid it. I don't necessarily buy that because I don't know at what point these recipients got into financial trouble or why. However, even if it were true, it does not mean that they were spendthrifts or used the money unwisely.
09-03-2010, 11:57 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikemike Quote
I won't get into regular unemployment benefits (weeks 1-26) b/c that is really a form of insurance that someone who is qualified has a reasonable expectation to receive.

So the extended benefits are like the lottery because they are an unexpected source of cash flow, its an annuity not a windfall but still unexpected. For a 99er who received the average of $300/week for 73 weeks longer than regular unemployment benefits it is a $22,000 jackpot. Can I get you your tea party application yet?

The main argument that I have heard for continued extensions and for a perpetual lifeline to the 99ers is that it will help them stay afloat. It has become painfully obvious that trying to keep them afloat is like trying to save the Titanic with a bucket brigade.
And the amount of the benefits from the gov is also minuscule in comparison to the debt AND this "cash" is usually immediately circulated to prop up the rest of your glorious insurance republic
QuoteOriginally posted by mikemike Quote



The researcher analyze their bankruptcy filings to check for negative financial shocks so given that his research is being published in a peer reviewed journal I will take his word over your speculation for a rationalizing why these winners go broke.
What are the "facts" in the article as to why they go broke? I must have missed that.
QuoteOriginally posted by mikemike Quote
At the end of the day financial security means making responsible decisions, living within your means, insuring against risks i.e. having health insurance to cover the hospital stay, short term disability to cover the recovery period, and long term disability in case you are permanently put out of commission. I know 2 people off the top of my head who have gone through some very serious medical hardships and the combination of these three insurances and a fiscally responsible lifestyle kept them from going bankrupt, although they have had to scale back considerably by moving to smaller houses, selling 1 car, and other budget cuts. But that is the difference, almost every time I read a hard luck story about a 99er or unemployed person sinking fast it mentions how the cable company just cut them off after they have been unemployed for 2 years and their benefits ran out or some other ridiculous unnecessary expenses they still carried despite the bleak outlook of their personal future.
Let me know how your friends do when the insurance companies decide they are too much of a risk......
(personal rant)
Last thing this economy needs is a bunch of penny pinching tight wads that are bottom feeding deals.....

Last edited by jeffkrol; 09-03-2010 at 12:02 PM.
09-03-2010, 11:59 AM   #13
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... although, truth be told, I do think certain people in the white collar world are behaving like spoilt children. I've heard plenty of stories, where a newly laid off person will only 'take' another job at equal level. Months go by, and maybe they slowly start to lower their sights. Instead, why not jump at any job someone's willing to hire you for, in your field?

There are a couple of problems with this idea, though overall I think it would be the way to go.

First, I'd hesitate to hire you at 3 levels below your last job, because first, I'd suspect you'd continue looking for a better job, and second, I'm not sure you could still do that job 3 levels down. So, I tell you you're over qualified.

Second, there's this thing economists call 'signaling'
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signalling_(economics)
Essentially this boils down to: in order to keep your relative position on the corporate pole, you want to limit how much less pay you are willing to accept. If you accept a much lower salary, you are signalling employers that you're really not cut out for the bigger job. For there's a logic amongst the corporate crowd. You may be competent but through no fault of your own get kicked out when the new boss comes in, for example. One measure of your 'value' to your old company is how much did they pay you? Once you break that, you may be damaged goods for a long time.

Which by the way leads to pessimism among those whose pay was cut in this recession. Was that 'signaling' the employer that you're willing to work for less, etc etc?
09-03-2010, 12:02 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by troglodyte Quote
Wow Mikemike. How uneducated you are! Do you realize that unemployment is an insurance program? The more you had worked before getting displaced, the more your 'benefits' are? It's like all greedy MOFOing insurance companies. They are ever so happy to

---------- Post added 09-03-10 at 10:34 AM ----------

accept payments, but the moment a 'disaster' like massive great depression levels of unemployment happens the insurance company calls foul! Same thing happened with Katrina. Statefarm said how if they actually had to pay out what they were required, they

---------- Post added 09-03-10 at 10:36 AM ----------

would lose billions. That's 'unfair.' They gambled and lost. Nothing toward or unfair happened.
The first 26 weeks of unemployment benefits are insurance administered through the state governments. The next 73 weeks are special emergency appropriations made by the federal government that are disbursed to the state programs and paid for out of general federal funds (AKA Deficit Spending borrowed from the Chinese) and there are no plans to make those extended benefits permanent or collect them through increased premiums in the future. I don't know if they have a similar program in Oz but thats how it works in the USA.

Your talking to a Katrina survivor my apartment took on 12 feet of water and was 3 blocks away from a levee breach. FYI flood insurance is what most people made the largest claims on and that is a federally administered insurance program here too. Most of the people that haven't recovered were totally uninsured or woefully under insured but the city is recovering much better than I was expecting it would 5 years ago.
09-03-2010, 12:09 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
... although, truth be told, I do think certain people in the white collar world are behaving like spoilt children. I've heard plenty of stories, where a newly laid off person will only 'take' another job at equal level. Months go by, and maybe they slowly start to lower their sights. Instead, why not jump at any job someone's willing to hire you for, in your field?

There are a couple of problems with this idea, though overall I think it would be the way to go.

First, I'd hesitate to hire you at 3 levels below your last job, because first, I'd suspect you'd continue looking for a better job, and second, I'm not sure you could still do that job 3 levels down. So, I tell you you're over qualified.

Second, there's this thing economists call 'signaling'
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signalling_(economics)
Essentially this boils down to: in order to keep your relative position on the corporate pole, you want to limit how much less pay you are willing to accept. If you accept a much lower salary, you are signalling employers that you're really not cut out for the bigger job. For there's a logic amongst the corporate crowd. You may be competent but through no fault of your own get kicked out when the new boss comes in, for example. One measure of your 'value' to your old company is how much did they pay you? Once you break that, you may be damaged goods for a long time.

Which by the way leads to pessimism among those whose pay was cut in this recession. Was that 'signaling' the employer that you're willing to work for less, etc etc?
Messy isn't it.. and it seems the more you got paid the less you will accept.....
THAT is human nature.. like buying homes "pre-forclosure". Everyone waits for their "white knight" no matter how illogical it is.
As to the unemployment extensions... bottom line.... it puts money in the economy..... secondly it "helps people"...... some that will eventually still fail but did I mention it puts liquidity in the economy????

---------- Post added 09-03-10 at 12:11 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by mikemike Quote
FYI flood insurance is what most people made the largest claims on and that is a federally administered insurance program here too. Most of the people that haven't recovered were totally uninsured or woefully under insured but the city is recovering much better than I was expecting it would 5 years ago.
Fed program, fed insured, feds helped my my how stupid was that.. Should have been all private insurance.. Oh ya they probably wouldn't touch that "profit pool" with a what 12 ft pole.......... for being bailed out by the fed you sure have a funny way of thanking them.
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