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By stuffisthings on "The Logic of Stupid Poor People," Or, the Only Thing Worth Reading About the Barneys "Shopping While Black" Arrests

@SexySadie But where's the income threshhold at which other people are allowed to start judging you for your purchases?

Posted on October 30, 2013 at 3:59 pm 1

By theharpoon on "The Logic of Stupid Poor People," Or, the Only Thing Worth Reading About the Barneys "Shopping While Black" Arrests

@tofuswalkman "how did americans learn to hate the poor so intensely?" because we're told our whole lives that America is a colorblind meritocracy, therefore poor people must be lazy and stupid? but yeah. sometimes I wonder what it would be like to live in a place where compassion is a national value.

Posted on October 30, 2013 at 3:17 pm 7

By Tafadhali on "The Logic of Stupid Poor People," Or, the Only Thing Worth Reading About the Barneys "Shopping While Black" Arrests

@Oliver St. John Mollusc "sometimes you just need something a bit extravagant, and that everyone else needs to get over it because the occasional lobster is NOT the one thing keeping this person poor and dependent on food stamps."

EXACTLY.

I get so frustrated when people act as though being poor means you should never, ever get anything just because you want it or it's fun or you needed a pick me up or any of the millions of not "sensible" but STILL IMPORTANT reasons that literally everyone buys things they buy.

I consider myself pretty good with my money, and I have a pretty healthy savings account. But I'm not making very much right now because I'm in grad school, and so if I were really being completely responsible I would never go to interesting, pricier restaurants with my foodie friends and I would remember that I'm a librarian and stop buying new books and I wouldn't blow so much money on making stupid costumes for the one or two geek conventions I make it to a year (or on going to conventions!) -- but good food and new books and dressing up like Captain Kirk are basically the things that make me happiest in the world and so spend money I do. And, because of my socioeconomic background and middle class profession (where my earning is currently at the poverty line, but the possibility for networking and future advancement and the "feel" of the profession matter more for perception), I don't usually get any flack for that spending.

So the idea that a person, because they live in poverty, can't have the occasional lobster dinner -- or own a television set, something which 97% of American households do -- is just absurd. POOR PEOPLE ARE ALSO HUMANS. HUMANS SOMETIMES WANT THINGS THAT ARE NOT 100% NECESSARY FOR THEIR SURVIVAL.

Posted on October 30, 2013 at 2:12 pm 9

By j-i-a on "The Logic of Stupid Poor People," Or, the Only Thing Worth Reading About the Barneys "Shopping While Black" Arrests

@queenofbithynia "how soul-flattening is it to consciously aspire to belong to the class of people who shop at Banana Republic?"

AHHH AND YET, SO REAL

Posted on October 30, 2013 at 1:20 pm 4

By queenofbithynia on "The Logic of Stupid Poor People," Or, the Only Thing Worth Reading About the Barneys "Shopping While Black" Arrests

@j-i-a Plus! Also! I read a bunch of responses to this elsewhere where people were basically sneering at the poor who didn't even understand what the "proper" status markers were that they ought to be buying -- like, a real rich person looks at someone with a poverty wardrobe plus one expensive accessory, and is not fooled, so ha, joke's on you, poors. I don't know how anyone says such things and does not then have a moment of epiphany and then go off to set a Barney's on fire.

& but when it's a pure status purchase, I have all sympathy for overshooting the mark. it's like the comment above about how it would be more sensible to overreach just a little bit and buy a Banana Republic bag. Yeah, it would, and it might even do a better job at obtaining the effect you're after, but how soul-flattening is it to consciously aspire to belong to the class of people who shop at Banana Republic?

Posted on October 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm 13

By vine fruit on "The Logic of Stupid Poor People," Or, the Only Thing Worth Reading About the Barneys "Shopping While Black" Arrests

@SexySadie The main point of the article, as I read it, is to counter the people who condemn poor people who buy any status items by saying that status items can and do make a difference. She's not necessarily saying that a $2500 Celine bag is necessary. But she's also saying that it's easy and not necessarily fair for people who aren't that kind of poor to make the kind of call you're making - that there's a threshold somewhere of money that is appropriate to spend on a luxury item when you're in x financial situation.

She's also saying that purchasing luxury items is, for people who are poor, partially an emotional decision - something that feels important. And that isn't less legitimate or based on reality than logic, even if you think you can draw a direct conclusion about why she's (still) poor from the kind of things she chooses to spend her money on.

Posted on October 30, 2013 at 12:59 pm 4

By leonstj on "The Logic of Stupid Poor People," Or, the Only Thing Worth Reading About the Barneys "Shopping While Black" Arrests

As a person who grew up and for a big part of my adult life right on that "working class" edge of "poor" and "shitty, but just barely middle class", I think the 'buying status' thing is totally true.

To this day I don't know if the reason I am obssessed with the idea of learning to sail (which I can't afford to do) is because it signifies 'being rich folk' or because 'boats are awesome'.

At the same time though, I know when I was broke, and I did things people thought of as "stupid" with my money, sometimes it was just escapism, pure and simple.

Like I racked up tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt. Part of that debt was a couple hundred bucks living allowance per months.

Once, I made some side-hustle cash, and instead of "investing it in my future" or "Paying overdue bills", I bought a pair of fucking gorgeous suede adidas.

I was 25k in debt and had $400 in bills overdue. I could make an imperceptibly small dent in that, or I could have shoes that made me feel awesome. Easy fucking decision.

The fucked up part to me is, rich people get rich in a capitalist & consumerist society - they wouldn't even BE rich if we weren't so obsessed w/ consumption at all costs for any reason.

And then, they have the ignorance and fucking gall to call us out on it when the consumerism that is their lifeblood ends up fucking us over just as indirectly as it does directly. So wack.

Posted on October 30, 2013 at 12:48 pm 10

By Oliver St. John Mollusc on "The Logic of Stupid Poor People," Or, the Only Thing Worth Reading About the Barneys "Shopping While Black" Arrests

Love this. Recently a friend of mine posted a really interesting discussion on Facebook of the related issue of people spending their welfare checks on indulgent foods like lobster. Her point was a similar one: when you're really poor (as she used to be), sometimes you just need something a bit extravagant, and that everyone else needs to get over it because the occasional lobster is NOT the one thing keeping this person poor and dependent on food stamps.

Also, sorry to go all former-accountant, but the money you get back when you file your taxes is a refund, not a return (the tax return is the actual piece of paper you file). Sorry, sorry, sorry -- I hate me too right now.

Posted on October 30, 2013 at 12:46 pm 3

By j-i-a on "The Logic of Stupid Poor People," Or, the Only Thing Worth Reading About the Barneys "Shopping While Black" Arrests

What I love about this piece is that - yeah, I *personally* think it's ABSOLUTELY FUCKING RIDICULOUS to spend $2,500 on a handbag, even if you can afford it, maybe especially if you can afford it. I would absolutely call myself a huge idiot if I spent my tax return on a Celine purse! That purse is really pretty but what is Celine. Who knows! I don't know, I hate brand names and do not understand conspicuous consumption, but I'm wearing a polyester sweatshirt that says TRUST NO BITCH over the face of the Mona Lisa, and that's pretty stupid too.

BUT, it's the same as any up-in-your-business-when-it-shouldn't-be type of argument. It's her decision. It's everyone's life. I think Tressie is justifying not the behavior specifically but the fact that no one other than Nurse from Canarsie can understand why Nurse from Canarsie finds it so deeply important to signify luxury that she'd blow her tax return on a $2,500 Metrocard container. And that reasoning has so much to do with how shittily black people and poor people are treated when they are NOT flossing as hard as possible, and also, double-bindingly, when they are. Not ours to focus on Nurse Purse over the economic inequality and structural racism that went into the Purchase and Detainment of Nurse Purse.

Posted on October 30, 2013 at 12:43 pm 7

By archived on "The Logic of Stupid Poor People," Or, the Only Thing Worth Reading About the Barneys "Shopping While Black" Arrests

I really liked this article, and found the argument interesting - a perspective I had never thought of. But I still hate that how [poor] individuals spend their money even needs to be justified or discussed at large.

It reminds me of that report that came out several years ago that exposed and broke down how "the poors" actually own stuff, causing a lot of uptight rich people to clutch their pearls and tsk tsk. (I hesitantly link to the Heritage Foundation study: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/07/what-is-poverty)
About a year ago I got into a big argument with a friend's fiance about the fact that poor people dared to own things like TVs and video game consoles - this was a guy who had just returned from an 8 week European vacation and lived in a $4000/month 1 bdrm apartment, a guy who comes from wealth I can't even conceive of and who walked into a job in his families business likely making more than my parents and I combined. He legitimately thought that because they were poor they shouldn't own such "luxury items" (the fact that nothing in the study shows that these items were new when purchased - or even purchased rather than received as a gift was lost on him.)

Ugh, I don't know where I am going with this, I'm just left with a feeling of frustration at the condescending tone taken towards these shoppers. As a person who grew up not quite poor, but not quite middle class I can just totally relate to the ecstatic moment of opening up a tax return check and thinking I could finally buy myself something exciting, maybe I never bought a $2500 purse, but I can relate to that desire.

Posted on October 30, 2013 at 12:43 pm 7