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  •  Not wanting in the least to threadjack (34+ / 0-)

    but seeing a LOT of this lately and wondering the cause of it:

    A minor imperfection is not open season to blame the person who got laid off and can't find work. I remember one case where the reason a person could not find a job—and ultimately died—somehow became their failure to have their priorities straight. That postmortem diagnosis was hung on the flimsiest evidence: The deceased had purportedly once said they wanted to get some used ski boots during the period they were looking for work. They never got any boots, they just mentioned one time to one friend they saw some advertised online.

    What Was He Doing Wasting Time Looking At Ski Boots On Craigslist! Aha! That Explains Everything!

    What is this "blame the victim" mentality that is so prevalent these days? Is it a sense of scarcity felt by the blamer? Is it fear of "there by the grace of God go I"? Is it an attempt to rationalize someones hard times because they don't know who/what to blame it on so it's easier and and requires less thought to blame the sufferor?  I just don't understand the growing meanness that is showing in people.
    •  I believe it's rooted in Calvinism. (12+ / 0-)

      Republicans: if they only had a heart.

      by leu2500 on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 09:54:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Whether it's historically rooted in Calvinism (18+ / 0-)

        or not, there is a distinct parallel there.

        I am lucky (or unlucky) enough to be a largely self-employed consultant (I also teach at local U as an adjunct, but the real money comes from consulting).

        I spend a couple of hours a day (say, one in the morning and one in the evening) with my kids. I read the paper when I can. I make it a policy not to work a full 7 days in a row (i.e. I take one day a week and try to at least do a half-day of "family" stuff). I also blog, though my blogging is irregular.

        These things have lost me contracts, because they make me "less serious and dependable."

        If I can't demonstrate that I spend every waking moment frantically working for a paycheck, then I am likely to be a bad worker. There is no regard for the rest of life.

        A worker is a worker, and is only measured on those grounds. A good worker is "99% productive," i.e., has nothing in life apart from work, sleep, and bathroom breaks. Everything is measured in those terms. Someone that is more productive than anyone else at the company is still a bad worker if they are only 80% productive—i.e. if 20% of their life is spent actually, you know, living.

        It's not about how much you do for the company. It's about how much you don't do that you "could" be doing if only you'd stop playing with those damned kids.

        -9.63, 0.00
        "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

        by nobody at all on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:22:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  our priorities (13+ / 0-)

          are so out of whack as a country.  People measure their value in dollars.  Working 50-60 hours a week is considered as much a point of pride as competing in a triathlon.

          Other countries realize there's more to life than getting rich.  Job security, time spent with family, a social safety net provide much greater satisfaction in the long run than the endless treadmill on which most Americans live their lives.

          There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast.

          by puzzled on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:44:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, but who's going to pay for job security (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            qofdisks

            (which can lead to some non productive workers) and social safety nets.

            It takes taxes for the later and lowering the company's profits which can lead to outsourcing, layoffs, etc.

            There's got to be a balance between the company's needs and those of the workers.

            It’s the Supreme Court, stupid! Followed by: It's always the Supreme Court! Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

            by auapplemac on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:25:40 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Even in other countries pressure is mounting (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            qofdisks

            on more relaxed lifestyles and social safety net. Look at Europe and the pressure for a more "flexible" workforce.

            Skepticism of all the elite institutions, not trust, is what required for successful leadership in this era. Digby

            by coral on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 12:08:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I (12+ / 0-)

      don't think you have to worry about threadjacking when it's in the post.

      You have asked a profound question with disparate psychological and social overtones. The answers are far beyond the scope of this comment. And I don't think anyone is immune to it, there is a definitely a blame the victim mentality at work and it gets worse as the times do.

      I experience it myself, a commercial came on showing starving children in Africa asking for help and the two thoughts that entered my mind were 1) this is a scam, my money won't help them it'll just pay an actor and trustees fat salaries, and 2) they live in a desert, if they survive they'll just have kids who also live in a desert. I.e., blame them.

    •  blame. I find myself constantly asking people (17+ / 0-)

      why they need to determine blame in a given situation.

      I wish I could recall the details of a conversation I had last week where a person was recounting a story and kept referring to who was to blame. It wasn't a scenario where assigning blame would lead to anything constructive. Every time she mentioned 'blame', I repeated, "why does there have to be someone to blame?" It took about 5 times before she acknowledged what I was suggesting. When it had sunk in, she stopped dead in conversational track. As though she didn't know how to proceed without the blame package slung over her shoulder.

      I certainly understand that when a situation calls for someone to be held accountable in a meaningful way, we need to make that judgment. But, most often, what I experience is finger pointing for the purpose of nothing by shaming and/or avoidance of something. And it is so embedded in our culture to victim-blame. Some sort of way of proclaiming that the things which are good in our life are because we have done everything right and deserve them and people who struggle must deserve what they got because they must have done something wrong.

      I can remember seeing the world this way when I was in my 20s. A little real life experience, though, and I had those lenses ripped off.

      Building Community. Creating Jobs. Donating Art to Community Organizations. Support the Katalogue

      by UnaSpenser on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:11:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why blame? (7+ / 0-)

        I agree with what everyone else observed about this.

        People get scared, and we get scared about a lot of things.

        People who are afraid of losing their jobs, and then not being able to find another one, want to believe that, if you just do the job hunting right, you'll land on your feet.

        Women who fear being sexually assaulted may cling to the idea that it is women in short skirts who are at risk. Don't wear clothes like that and you'll be safe.

        If someone repeatedly raises blame arguments in a conversation about employment, my guess is that the person is sick with anxiety about being laid off and never getting another job.

    •  not all blaming the victim, (11+ / 0-)

      but in this instance, i do believe it's about not wanting to allow that the same thing could happen to them.  so people glom onto looking for ski boots online as a "reason" for their colleague's bad circumstances.

      Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

      by Cedwyn on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:18:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Rationalizing why it can't happen to them (22+ / 0-)

      If they can successfully shift blame onto the victim, they can continue deluding themselves into believing they're secure.

      "The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities" - Adam Smith

      by Jesse Douglas on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:19:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Some can be the cause of their problems. Do we (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ArchTeryx

        still look upon them as victims. Not every victim finds himself in that position due to someone else's action or that of "society."

        There are times when some blame can be placed on the victim who constantly makes bad choices and expects a different outcome or gets angry at the world for his/her situation.

        If they don't learn from their experience, what then?

        Suppose there's this wealthy kid who gets a pretty good education and job or profession. Now he starts to drink more than socially and becomes an alcoholic or does hard drugs. He goes into rehab (parents can afford it), but when he comes out, goes back to the same habits. How would we feel about this person?

        Do we consider him a victim or has he just given the middle finger to the rest of the world?

        Suppose someone is lazy and does not want to work  or at least not very hard  (believe me, there are people like that) and expects the rest of us to somehow support her through the safety nets that are available or mooches off his friends and family? How do we think about her?

        Yes, they do need help, but if someone rejects that help, what then?

        Do we pay for their lifestyle? Do we put a roof over their head? If I decide I really don't want to work, will you give me a pension so I can sit under a tree the rest of my life?

        How does society do with these people? Anyone have an answer?

        PS: Just to get back to the subject presented by the diary, I want to add that age discrimination (along with the others) is not acceptable.

        It’s the Supreme Court, stupid! Followed by: It's always the Supreme Court! Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

        by auapplemac on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:54:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Better that a dozen of those are supported... (4+ / 0-)

          ...then one honest (unemployed) worker starves for lack of a safety net.

          Of course, the right thinks exactly the opposite: better starve a hundred workers to make sure that one moocher gets just what's coming to them.

        •  Here's the thing though (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pandora, Freakinout daily

          The percentage of people like that (whose economic situation can be attributed to purely personal issues) doesn't really change that much over time; such people have always been with us. But lots more people have been experiencing economic hardship now than in the past, and it strains credulity to believe that a large portion of the population has gone down the tubes in recent years (during the Great Depression there was actually some ridiculous speculation about "delayed activation of genes for mental retardation"; the fact that the same people who were "unemployable by virtue of personal characteristics" were working, and doing well at it, after WWII started seemed not to register on such speculators).

          Personally, as a physician, I would be very concerned at a child becoming febrile after having ingested bleach or had it shot up his rectum—Orac (Respectful Insolence)

          by ebohlman on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 03:22:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Following up with a thought I forgot to include (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Pandora

            We're all prone to taking a mental shortcut called the availability heuristic, in which we judge how likely something is to happen based on how easily we can imagine it happening. It's fairly easy to imagine someone who's out of work because, say, he can't show up sober, easier than imagining someone out of work because of greater economic conditions that require years of study to understand. Therefore, we can fall into the trap of thinking they account for most of the unemployed.

            The "51% rule" of stereotypes is bunk. It is not necessary that the majority of a particular group have some trait in order for that trait to become a group stereotype; usually all that's necessary is that the incidence of that trait be higher, even very slightly so, in the group than in the general population (in rare circumstances, the association of the trait with the group is truly non-existent, as in Jews murdering Christian children for their blood or gay men molesting boys to produce a new generation of gay men).

            The problem is that the availability heuristic isn't the only way we fail to deal with probabilities appropriately; part of the reason statistics is considered such a difficult and dreaded academic subject is that doing well in it requires unlearning a lot of "things we know that ain't so". If we learn, for example, that African-American teenagers get in serious trouble with the law at twice the rate of white teenagers, we're very likely to come off with the impression that most African-American teenagers have been or will be in serious trouble with the law. But at the time I came up with this example, the actual rates were 5% for white teenagers and 10% for black teenagers (complication: at the time the public perception was that two-thirds of white teenagers had been in serious trouble with the law).

            Personally, as a physician, I would be very concerned at a child becoming febrile after having ingested bleach or had it shot up his rectum—Orac (Respectful Insolence)

            by ebohlman on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 03:39:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  It's a combination, depending on the person (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pandora, unclebucky, pdxteacher, jck, Sailorben

      who's casting blame, of all the things you mention.  Every time in history - at least U.S. history - that the economy is distressed, two things happen:  Immigrants and minorities are blamed for lack of opportunities in the general population (and subsequent dependence on family or government programs), and those without income and connections are blamed for their own misery.  It's much easier to blame the powerless - and less risky -  than to hold the powerful accountable.

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:46:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Saw a program the other day about a divorced (0+ / 0-)

        women with an older teenage daughter. They lived in a nice house with nice furniture. The mother owned it, but still was paying the mortgage.

        She heard she might be laid off and was distraught, because she had no savings. Why? Because she had a spending problem or should I say a buying problem.

        Her daughter confronted her about her spending sprees, but at this point it was too late.

        Now the daughter was worried about moving, leaving her neighborhood and friends as well as all the other new problems she would have to face.

        I don't know the outcome, but at some point the reason for their problems is staring at them from their mirror.

        It’s the Supreme Court, stupid! Followed by: It's always the Supreme Court! Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

        by auapplemac on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 12:05:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This, in case you weren't paying attention, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SueDe

          was a thread about an awful job market and economy that fails many, many people. Why are you trying to make it about "personal accountability"?

          No tip for this thread-jack.

          It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

          by karmsy on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 07:47:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Denial it could happen to you (8+ / 0-)

      Blaming the victim is a defense mechanism against the feeling of vulnerability to similar fate.

      I think it's happening more often now because of the squeezing of the middle class, stagnant wages, and high unemployment and underemployment.

      If we can find a reason that the victim is to blame we can fool ourselves into believing it won't happen to us.

      Skepticism of all the elite institutions, not trust, is what required for successful leadership in this era. Digby

      by coral on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 12:07:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Blame-the-victim (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pandora, RiveroftheWest

      is all about the blamer's personal anxiety and sense of scarcity. It's how they keep knowledge of the awful impersonality of fate at bay.

      It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

      by karmsy on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 07:43:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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