Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Quotes of the day

What makes it so hard is not that you had it bad, but that you’re that pissed that so many others had it good.--Melvin Udall, in As Good As It Gets

FDR, it seems, was apparently dead wrong about the financial purpose of his Social Security system. He advocated it as an insurance system, in which the benefits paid to an individual were linked to the contributions paid by that individual. But today we are told that the funding side of Social Security is a “tax”—the “payroll tax.” We are also reminded that it’s a regressive tax—a larger burden to the middle class and poor than the rich—but we are not reminded that it is a “contribution” to a system that will eventually pay out benefits in proportion to each individual’s contribution.--Steve Conover

Resentment is a powerful, long-lasting emotion that usually is self-serving and dishonest (I have never heard a criminal complain that his defense lawyer is upper-class, as he often is), as well as useless. Resentment is undoubtedly part of everyone’s psychology, at least potentially, and few of us have never heeded its siren song. A population’s general level of resentment, however, is not a natural phenomenon that one can analyze in purely mechanical terms, as if it increased geometrically with the Gini coefficient. Britain itself has been far more unequal in the past without widespread riots’ breaking out, so it is clear that we cannot understand people’s behavior without referring to the meanings that they attach to things.--Theodore Dalrymple
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