Why are middle class conservatives dying without life insurance and savings?

(Not really a fan of the more formal structure of GD, this may be political in nature… but it’s also economics… and Lord knows I don’t want to throw this in the Pit. So here we are, in IMHO. Oh, and this is probably long. I am never going to get the reputation as the Alexander Pope of the SDMB, so sit back and enjoy. And respond.)


AS THE reader probably knows, there are a current rash of stories about anti-vaxxers dying of COVID, from accountants to radio show hosts to police officers. Please see the bottom of this post for some examples.

And, as you may know, I’ve written a number of posts criticizing the modern form of capitalism, the form which came into being starting around 1975 with the popularization of the Laffer curve, kicking off a policy trend which I refer to as the ‘financialization of America’, but is more commonly referred to as “Reaganomics”. One simple chart, an elephants tail if you will, of this phenomenon:

Imgur
Took a hit in the 1930s but by 1970 the financial sector had rebounded to Gilded Age levels. It wasn’t enough, apparently!

As our reward for the dismantling of the New Deal safety net… as minimal as that was, tbh… brought about by the financialization of America, the companies most poised to profit from trickle down and supply side economics developed a vast array of ‘wealth building’ and ‘financial protection’ products designed to Bring You Peace of Mind by Covering Your Family’s Needs Even At The Worst of Times… or so we hear on the endless USAA/NYLife/MetLife/etc internet, radio, and TV ads. Products such as:

Life insurance
Health insurance
401(k)
Financial Advisors
Annuities
IRA’s
HSA’s (Health Savings Accounts)
Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT)
Mutual Funds
Money Markets
Student Loans*
Subprime Loans*

All of these and more have been pushed to the fore while the defined benefit pensions and full-coverage health plans of the pre-financialization years (1945-1975) are no longer available to hundreds of millions, especially if your entire working life was spent in the American non-unionized private sector.

Including me. And, most likely, you.

Instead, we were given choice. Competition. Freedom.

Instead of a paternalistic company taking a flat 8% of your income to fund your retirement, you now have the freedom to decide what percentage… if any!.. you will fund to your retirement.

You buy that life insurance policy that you think you need, but that won’t prevent you… for the rest of your life… from being bothered by companies and salespersons calling/emailing/texting, all of them competing for your business.

You’re funding that 401(k). Time to make some changes! But your options are limited, your choice between options already pre-selected for you by your company’s HR department, the plan options, more. And if you decide to go it alone as a private investor, good luck as the multiplicity of options… and those competing against you… can make this an extremely daunting affair. Better go with that ‘medium’ risk option on the 401(k) and see if you can squeeze by on a 4% contribution.

Which brings me to the point:

The Venn diagram of people who are dying of Covid for ideological reasons and those who believe in this system… while not a circle, as the joke goes… must have some strong correlation. (Or not, and I am interested in data-driven arguments that covid-conservatives and financial conservatives are not related.)

So… these people who are dying. They’re setting up gofundme’s. Wives are scared because they have no breadwinner. Appeals for money and charity appear on Facebook, Twitter, IG.

I’m interested… @octopus, @Sam_Stone, @D_Anconia… I have heard all of you preach the same Gospel of financial reliance, the one I, too, was raised on. I know at least one of you bragged of your financial acumen during the COVID crash of March 2020, and you are the staunch conservatives who do answer for economic issues on this Board, so I have some questions to pose.

(And, of course, to everyone else as well.)

This is happening to your own ‘team’, the people also steeped in the ideology of self-reliance, savings, personal responsibility, and financial acuity.

Therefore:

  1. Does this imply a failure in the system, or a failure of the assumptions behind the system? In other words, are the products shit or is the idea that the great mass of people can be financially responsible/educated/disciplined on the individual level… is that idea shit?

  2. Your ideological cohorts are killing themselves, and the capitalist products above are failing their families. Does this concern you, that they are killing themselves via lies about Covid? Does it concern you they are leaving behind financially devastated families? Does it concern you that the system may have failed these people?

  3. What about the products? Regardless of their faults as individuals, should not the power of the market have made these products irresistible even to the low-information consumer? Shouldn’t the power of innovation made them… better? Why didn’t they have life insurance, if they are clear-headed about the world? We’re all going to die. Why didn’t they have sufficient savings… what is it we’re supposed to have, 6 months minimum? Why don’t they have sufficient savings to handle this emergency, allowing the survivors to transition?

These people had good jobs!

And, please: I understand you don’t know why the specifics about these individual cases. But as a general rule, why do you think the most vocal supporters of capitalism among the middle class are failing to take advantage of the benefits of capitalism?

Was it a failure of training? Of personality? Of will? Morals? Products? System?


Thank you for your responses.

To me, what this shows is that American capitalism is also failing the very people who believe in it the most, but have the ability to defend against it the least. It’s a financial epidemic on top of our ‘freedom’-driven Covid pandemic. It’s a goddamned shame. It’s a fucking catastrophe. And it’s even more evidence, as if more is needed, that the economic theories of choice, competition, and freedom uber alles which has been foisted upon us by a party of grifters is fundamentally broken.

But we know what I think. What do you think? Why are middle class conservatives dying without the life insurance and savings they know, as conservatives, to invest in?

*It’s probably unfair to list two loans as “wealth building products”. But goddamned if student loans and the sort of shit loans and financial products which caused 2008 aren’t sold as a means to boost your earning potential/lifestyle, so I’m going to include them. If you want to argue, go ahead, I’ll just ignore ya’. :wink:

105 posts were merged into an existing topic: YouCannotGargleSand Sock posts

(Not really a fan of the more formal structure of GD, this may be political in nature… but it’s also economics… and Lord knows I don’t want to throw this in the Pit. So here we are, in IMHO. Oh, and this is probably long. I am never going to get the reputation as the Alexander Pope of the SDMB, so sit back and enjoy. And respond.)


AS THE reader probably knows, there are a current rash of stories about anti-vaxxers dying of COVID, from accountants to radio show hosts to police officers. Please see the bottom of this post for some examples.

And, as you may know, I’ve written a number of posts criticizing the modern form of capitalism, the form which came into being starting around 1975 with the popularization of the Laffer curve, kicking off a policy trend which I refer to as the ‘financialization of America’, but is more commonly referred to as “Reaganomics”. One simple chart, an elephants tail if you will, of this phenomenon:

Imgur
Took a hit in the 1930s but by 1970 the financial sector had rebounded to Gilded Age levels. It wasn’t enough, apparently!

As our reward for the dismantling of the New Deal safety net… as minimal as that was, tbh… brought about by the financialization of America, the companies most poised to profit from trickle down and supply side economics developed a vast array of ‘wealth building’ and ‘financial protection’ products designed to Bring You Peace of Mind by Covering Your Family’s Needs Even At The Worst of Times… or so we hear on the endless USAA/NYLife/MetLife/etc internet, radio, and TV ads. Products such as:

Life insurance
Health insurance
401(k)
Financial Advisors
Annuities
IRA’s
HSA’s (Health Savings Accounts)
Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT)
Mutual Funds
Money Markets
Student Loans*
Subprime Loans*

All of these and more have been pushed to the fore while the defined benefit pensions and full-coverage health plans of the pre-financialization years (1945-1975) are no longer available to hundreds of millions, especially if your entire working life was spent in the American non-unionized private sector.

Including me. And, most likely, you.

Instead, we were given choice. Competition. Freedom.

Instead of a paternalistic company taking a flat 8% of your income to fund your retirement, you now have the freedom to decide what percentage… if any!.. you will fund to your retirement.

You buy that life insurance policy that you think you need, but that won’t prevent you… for the rest of your life… from being bothered by companies and salespersons calling/emailing/texting, all of them competing for your business.

You’re funding that 401(k). Time to make some changes! But your options are limited, your choice between options already pre-selected for you by your company’s HR department, the plan options, more. And if you decide to go it alone as a private investor, good luck as the multiplicity of options… and those competing against you… can make this an extremely daunting affair. Better go with that ‘medium’ risk option on the 401(k) and see if you can squeeze by on a 4% contribution.

Which brings me to the point:

The Venn diagram of people who are dying of Covid for ideological reasons and those who believe in this system… while not a circle, as the joke goes… must have some strong correlation. (Or not, and I am interested in data-driven arguments that covid-conservatives and financial conservatives are not related.)

So… these people who are dying. They’re setting up gofundme’s. Wives are scared because they have no breadwinner. Appeals for money and charity appear on Facebook, Twitter, IG.

I’m interested… @octopus, @Sam_Stone, @D_Anconia… I have heard all of you preach the same Gospel of financial reliance, the one I, too, was raised on. I know at least one of you bragged of your financial acumen during the COVID crash of March 2020, and you are the staunch conservatives who do answer for economic issues on this Board, so I have some questions to pose.

(And, of course, to everyone else as well.)

This is happening to your own ‘team’, the people also steeped in the ideology of self-reliance, savings, personal responsibility, and financial acuity.

Therefore:

  1. Does this imply a failure in the system, or a failure of the assumptions behind the system? In other words, are the products shit or is the idea that the great mass of people can be financially responsible/educated/disciplined on the individual level… is that idea shit?

  2. Your ideological cohorts are killing themselves, and the capitalist products above are failing their families. Does this concern you, that they are killing themselves via lies about Covid? Does it concern you they are leaving behind financially devastated families? Does it concern you that the system may have failed these people?

  3. What about the products? Regardless of their faults as individuals, should not the power of the market have made these products irresistible even to the low-information consumer? Shouldn’t the power of innovation made them… better? Why didn’t they have life insurance, if they are clear-headed about the world? We’re all going to die. Why didn’t they have sufficient savings… what is it we’re supposed to have, 6 months minimum? Why don’t they have sufficient savings to handle this emergency, allowing the survivors to transition?

These people had good jobs!

And, please: I understand you don’t know why the specifics about these individual cases. But as a general rule, why do you think the most vocal supporters of capitalism among the middle class are failing to take advantage of the benefits of capitalism?

Was it a failure of training? Of personality? Of will? Morals? Products? System?


Thank you for your responses.

To me, what this shows is that American capitalism is also failing the very people who believe in it the most, but have the ability to defend against it the least. It’s a financial epidemic on top of our ‘freedom’-driven Covid pandemic. It’s a goddamned shame. It’s a fucking catastrophe. And it’s even more evidence, as if more is needed, that the economic theories of choice, competition, and freedom uber alles which has been foisted upon us by a party of grifters is fundamentally broken.

But we know what I think. What do you think? Why are middle class conservatives dying without the life insurance and savings they know, as conservatives, to invest in?

*It’s probably unfair to list two loans as “wealth building products”. But goddamned if student loans and the sort of shit loans and financial products which caused 2008 aren’t sold as a means to boost your earning potential/lifestyle, so I’m going to include them. If you want to argue, go ahead, I’ll just ignore ya’. :wink:

No one is completely rational and everyone makes mistakes. But currently a large minority of Americans is actively rejecting rational behavior. They actively reject the evidence all around them, whether economic, medical, or meteorological (not a complete list). And then base their decisions on the opposite of the evidence.

In a better situation, a failure in one area would be mitigated by success in another. Instead, they are cutting off their own support. Every new bad decision they make compounds the harm of previous bad decisions. It’s a vicious cycle of self harm. And they lash out at those who would help them.

Reality has no mercy.

I understand that, and that is a good reason as to why they don’t advocate for UBI, M4A, a wealth tax, and more.

But why aren’t they buttressing the ‘I don’t want the nanny state’ argument with equally irrational show-of-faith purchases of, say, life insurance?

Would also like to mention that some conservatives, especially the Randian types, do see Man as a rational being. Even the regular Joe (represented by Eddie Willers in Atlas Shrugged).

They’re not against those things per se. They’re against them because they reject the evidence that they need them. And they similarly reject the evidence that they need life insurance.

They have no rational or principled positions. Their paradigm is “reject evidence I don’t like”. And that manifests everywhere in their life, leading to many poor choices.

(It’s misleading to think of them as “conservative” because there is no philosophical connection of their position with conservatives as we used to understand the term. Use “reject evidence they don’t like” to better model their behavior.)

Long term planning doesn’t work well with the “Instant Gratification” folks. They can make life insurance payments to protect their family, or they can buy that nice new toy now. They can buy the home they can afford, or they can go deep into debt buying more home than they need and then furnishing it.

Often times bad choices are more fun than good choices and a bird in the hand is worth more than a bird in the bush.

Vaccination rates correlate with education level and income. It’s very likely that the unvaccinated are disproportionately likely not to have ever earned enough to have significant savings. (Also, being low-income correlates with a number of other conditions that make it more likely that you will die if you do get COVID, such as obesity.)

So, if I am understanding the OP correctly, you are asking why someone who is wrong about “A”, wrong about “B”, wrong about “C”, and wrong about “D”, then why are they also wrong about “E”? Is that it?

I’m not a conservative, and I’ve done well with the current system, but there are some upsides.
Back in the mid-70s a big issue in the computing community were what was called “portable pensions.” Back then defined benefit plans didn’t kick in until you worked for a company for quite a while. That was good for the old model of working at a place for decades - like was expected at IBM or the Bell System - but those who were consultants or who worked at startups got screwed. 401Ks and SEPs and IRAs are much better for that kind of person, and for more and more people now there is no expectation of long term employment at one place.
I didn’t quite get the data on conservatives being hurt worse by the new system, but it is plausible. The reason would be overconfidence that drives libertarian/conservative behavior. Why have a company decide for you if you think you are the best stock picker on the planet? A few years ago one libertarian was vehemently opposed to the FDA since he was convinced that he could analyze drug safety better than those durn doctors. Thaler and Sunstein found that in Sweden, with a national pension plan that involved picking from a reasonably large number of funds, members do a bad job investing, tending to buy at the top due to better performance up to that point.
Conservatives also may not be that great at predicting consequences or how to handle worst case scenarios. The 2008 financial crisis is an excellent example. The Times today had an article on why the Mississippi health care system is melting down. A good part is that they refused Medicaid from the feds, which reduced the money the hospitals catering to the poorest got, so a lot closed and a lot more can’t pay doctors and nurses competitive wages. So, when Covid hit, disaster.

Right. The question isn’t so much why conservatives aren’t saving money or paying for health insurance, it’s really why so many working class white people consider themselves conservative?

I mean, for the middle/upper-middle class whites, the “freedom” to choose on health insurance comes more back to whether or not they get to choose a high deductible or Cadillac plan, and the costs/benefits that come with it. They are not interested in what they feel would be a pay more, get less plan with UHC, especially if it means that their money is effectively paying for poor, ethnic, rural, urban, etc… people’s health care.

But for the working class folks? They stand to benefit from most of these ideas, but they’ve been convinced that the government wants to take their money, and throw it toward lazy and worthless people (which is code for “black and hispanic”), making their own lives harder, and not materially improving the lazy people’s lives either.

IMO it’s the latter. Of course, since many people are not financially responsible or disciplined, they will buy “bad” products.

I don’t think the financial system failures are directly impacting people being stupid about science. To put it in other words: if people could not screw themselves financially, they would still be screwing themselves on health matters.

I’m not sure which wealth building products you are talking about - investments? Student loans? Mortgages? I’ll just not comment on that.

Life insurance costs money every month, and it’s basically a bet on how long you will live with a “payout” they will never see; many people hate buying vehicle insurance for that reason (and that’s why people are forced to buy that). Of course they’re not being clear-eyed about that.

Having an emergency fund requires you to have more income than expenses for a considerable amount of time. You probably need to save for more than six months to save up six months of expenses. Some people never get to that point, continually running into emergencies, often caused by their own poor functioning. (If you maintain your car, perhaps you wouldn’t have been surprised by the transmission suddenly dying.) Incomes have not kept up with inflation, and some of these people have seen drops in income (eg you lose your job and the replacement doesn’t give as many hours or as many dollars per hour), which is a problem even if the person in question budgets and doesn’t spend money foolishly.

At least in my circle of acquaintances, coworkers, relatives, the overlap of people who:

believe that STRAIGHT TERM life insurance is a scam

AND

believe that COVID isn’t real or not dangerous/vaccines don’t work

AND

must buy the biggest boat, ski/lake house, four wheelers, whatever they can finance

Is very high, regardless of where they are on the political spectrum.

Setting aside the left vs. right dichotomy, humans in general are terrible about assessing risk and planning for the future. We’re wired to favor instant gratification. Our lives are lasting longer than our ancestors needed to plan for.

I would also question the OP contention that conservatives are dying in penury more than anyone else. Things are kind of shit for most people who weren’t born into some money. The only difference is that conservatives think “I’m better, I’m different, I’ll plan.” Then they go borrow $45K for a lifted Ford F150, find themselves penniless in late middle age, and confidently state that they’d have done much better if it weren’t for all the Mexicans.

I will say, just because there’s a GoFundMe set up doesn’t mean they were without resources. It seems like these days GFM is the modern equivalent to a sympathy card.

StG

Yeah, I have a fairly wealthy cousin who set up a GFM to raise $20K when her son was hospitalized. It wasn’t for medical expenses - it was to give him a bunch of experiences ( almost like a bucket list, but his life wasn’t in any danger. ) Her husband is a dentist in Westchester County - they don’t need a donation from me to take him skiing.

Yeah, I don’t market time except for that crash in March. It was too good of a buying opportunity. And either the whole system was going to crash and stay crashed or it would rebound in no more than a decade or so. My time horizon is over 20 years so I felt no risk from that decision. I feel the big societal risks are strong AI, an asteroid, or something similar to smallpox.

To answer your question the more I learn about learning and decision making the more I am convinced that people aren’t all that rational. I know very intelligent people who make good money and make terrible decisions. I’m not even convinced that deciding is the right term. I think they are acting and reacting to stimulus and in a way that isn’t optimal for modern life. We haven’t evolved to deal with what we deal with.

So, analysis of human behavior that assumes rational behavior is I think flawed. I’m not a huge fan of pure democracy or pure capitalism or hardcore libertarianism for that reason. That said, history has demonstrated that concentrations of power in the hands of certain institutions leads to genocide so a paternalistic approach isn’t a panacea either.

Even when we have the state or companies fund pensions you can’t trust the bastards who run or oversee them. How do you set up a system that eliminates fraud when that system can be captured by people who are immoral? And that always happens. Without fail there is institutional or regulatory hijack or capture.

You almost have to have cultural indoctrination where certain values are damn near universal in order to have the internal checks. But we live in a society where even the concept of a shared sense of morality is deliberately undermined.

If I were dictator I would do a birth dividend. I’d also implement a few years of hard core national service with zero exemptions. Some form of national health care with penalties for unhealthy behavior. You want the benefits of an advanced economy? Well you need to help produce. I’d also get rid of the minimum wage :wink:

So in other words, I don’t think we can rely on laissez faire economics. But I’m extremely concerned about concentrations of power.

Did anyone donate to this? “Hey, I’ve spoiled my kid for years and I’m tired of funding it…anyone else want to contribute”?