Advice to the 1% from Lemony Snicket

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66 Responses to “Advice to the 1% from Lemony Snicket”

  1. GawainLavers says:

    Damn.  Site Boinged.  Way to DDoS the Occupy movement!

  2. Mari Lwyd says:

    Hello confused boinger,

    The other 8 of 13 are found by clicking the “by Lemony Snicket” link and then scrolling down past the vastness of white.

  3. shutz says:

    Very Important People only remain Very Important as long as there are less-important people who view them as Very Important.

    Banks can only make money from money.  Stop giving them money, and what they do will suddenly start to look extremely pointless.

    • digi_owl says:

      “Banks can only make money from money.”

      If this is a reference to fractional reserves, then it is a nice idea but a complete mess as implemented.

    • Rindan says:

      Banks can only make money from money.  Stop giving them money, and what they do will suddenly start to look extremely pointless.

      What exactly do you suggest people do with the stuff?  Put it under their bed and hope inflation stops?

      Banks are not a universal evil.  Boring banks that have saving accounts and then lend money out across communities to grow businesses are awesome and absolutely essential to the economy.  A lack of such banks is pretty much an economic death sentence.  There is a reason why we work so damned hard to get banks inside of poorer communities.  Without banks, businesses don’t exist.

      Don’t confuse the issue.  Boring old savings and loans banks and credit unions are awesome, needed, and essential to the community.  Highly leveraged investment banks or banks that do the boring stuff + perform highly leveraged trades are the fucking devil.  

      Don’t spread the hate to all banks.  Most local banks and credit unions are perfectly wonderful.  Sadly, while they are far more numerous than shitty banks, they own fuck all % of the total assets.

    • Sean McKibbon says:

      A person’s social stature may depend on the opinions of others, but their importance to a society doesn’t.

  4. CHilke says:

    Some of my sayings (not necesssarily original to me):

    Money is like eye color – it runs in families.

    Money is like manure – if you pile it up it stinks, festers, and attracts flies, but if you spread it around it helps things grow.

    Workers are people who work for their money, Capitalists are people whose money works for them.

    Money is like water – good when channeled for useful purposes like irrigation, but when it is left to its own devices, it is likely to become destructive like a flood.

    And an old chestnut I’ve found to be accurate:

    You don’t become Pharoah by working on the pyramids.

  5. hungryjoe says:

    This is a cute piece, like a diluted Ambrose Bierce.

    Tangentially 0n topic, here’s my advice:
    Cash out your 401k or your IRA and use it toward something that matters.  Giving them your money to play with for the next 40 years is a big con and you’re the mark.

    And if you think it isn’t a con, consider the penalty you will pay to access the money you already earned.  What’s it come to?  10%? 20%?  How much of it will they lose for you in an afternoon?  Yet the threat of this penalty immobilizes most.

  6. Stefan Jones says:

    THIS IS JUST CLASS WARFARE! YOU’RE ALL CORRUPTED BY ENVY!

    Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot to breathe for a few minutes and once the oxygen in my brain ran short I started thinking like a tea bagger.

  7. ernunnos says:

    Re 1, 2: Wealth and effort are neither synonymous nor orthogonal. Failure to understand that there are degrees of correlation between 0 and 1 leads to two equally wrong fallacies.

    3: Good point. Say, weren’t there an awful lot of kids over at the Soros house?

    4: Anyone who says money doesn’t matter is neither occupying nor working on Wall St., and not within the scope of this discussion.

    5:  Share? Was ist das “share?” I had to buy the oven and ingredients. Nobody shared. They got their cake, with interest. I didn’t have a choice. Why is it that nobody shares with the cake maker, but the cake maker has an obligation to share with everyone else?

    • Mantissa128 says:

      Why is it that nobody shares with the cake maker, but the cake maker has an obligation to share with everyone else?

      Because we gave you the ingredients, and in exchange, you promised us added value in the form of cake.

      But your oven broke. Now we are without ingredients, and without cake. And yet strangely, you still appear to have a lot of both.

      We’d like to have a word with you.

      • Justin R says:

        Your words have made me hungry, and mad, but mostly hungry.

        But yes, taxes on Many people paid for the roads, schools, hospitals, power, water, clean food, etc., that the top 1% enjoy, but they’re not paying their fair share back so we can all benefit.

         If the rising tide Did lift everyone’s boats, we wouldn’t be this unhappy, but just like a rising ocean temp actually raises the Edges of the ocean more than the middle, a wealthier upper class doesn’t necesarrily correlate with a better-off middle class. It’s not immediately obvious when you think about the problem, but in practice it can be quite devastating.

  8. BrotherPower says:

    14) They’re NINETY-NINE percent of the population. They could just fucking take it.

    Wouldn’t you rather negotiate the terms of your surrender?

    • Teller says:

      300,000,000 people in US. The 1% = 3,000,000. The 99% = 297,000,000.
      The ones in the street who could just “take it.” Let’s say, muy graciously, 10,000,000.
      10,000,000 ain’t taking diddley from 287,000,000.

      /apologies to Bo

      • BrotherPower says:

        I’m not sure what you’re getting at.

        The 10,000,000 could surely take it from the 3,000,000, right? And then if the 287,000,000 take it from the 10,000,000, isn’t that the same as the 297,000,000 taking it from the 3,000,000, which is what I was talking about?

  9. quickwhistle says:

    Ya know I was kinda put off by the people that were saying:  If your GPA were 4.0 we should take some away from you and give soem to others that have a lesser GAP.  But this CAKE … and LUCK … and HARD WORK .. comments me me see that the GAP sharing crowd wants it this way. 
     
    Don’t take what I worked for … useing public streets to get to school … and don’t take away from me the efforts I put forth, for those that did not (did not put froth the effort, do not use the public streets and did not have the LUCK of getting good grades … ’cause it is just LUCK). 
     
    At what point does ‘mine’ belong to ME?  The West was based on  few key points. One was Private Property Rights.  This blog seems to say that if your family has money (property) it can’t be passed on.    OK … who gets it?  The Federal Government?
     
    Tax the Rich to feed the poor, till there are Rich no more.   (then what?)

    • Finnagain says:

      Then we devour the ex-rich.

    • marilove says:

      What is up with all your random capitalization?

      No one has ever said that we want to get rid of the rich.

      • bbmcrae says:

        Random Capitalization is the Technique of the Slightly incoherent internet Poster.

        • petertrepan says:

          Why is that? Random CAPITALIZATION…”scare quotes”…
          …(lots of parentheses)…
          …Bespoke Philosophy Idioms (A special phrase I made up, meaning capitalized phrases whose special meaning is known only to the author)…       …sprinkled ellipses throughout…       … and e.e.cummings indentation…

          Somewhere, there must be a manual of style for people who share their explain-everything philosophies on the internet.

    • Tax the Rich to feed the poor, till there are Rich no more.   (then what?

      Right now, we tax the poor to pave the streets for the rich. The rich don’t pay proportional taxes – often they don’t pay taxes at all. But, I think you already know that…

      What really bothers me is not your ranting, obvious Stockholm Syndrome, or the fact that you misspelled ‘GPA’ 2 out of 3 times… What bothers me the most is that you misquoted Ten Years After:

      Everywhere is freaks and hairies
      Dykes and fairies, tell me where is sanity
      Tax the rich, feed the poor
      Till there are no rich no more?

      I’d love to change the world
      But I don’t know what to do
      So I’ll leave it up to you

      Population keeps on breeding
      Nation bleeding, still more feeding economy
      Life is funny, skies are sunny
      Bees make honey, who needs money, Monopoly

    • travtastic says:

      Tax the Rich to feed the poor, till there are Rich no more.   (then what?)

      Aside from the fact that most of what you just said is ridiculous, this one really got to me. Are you trying to imply that the world would starve from collective stupidity and laziness without rich people?

      • bcsizemo says:

        In some respects he may.

        If not it’s more metaphorically, like that bible verse that says teach a man to fish and he can feed him, give him a fish and he can be fed for today or something like that.

        But in a broader sense his argument does under lie some of the problems with social programs today.  How do you instill a solid work ethic in young people if they were brought up in a family that has been on some type of assistance most of their lives?  I have friends from very rural places that see a lot of that.  That and if we did create a broader redistribution of wealth what motivation is there to work harder to get more when a larger chunk is taken away as you do?  (I’m just saying this in an extreme case, not something proportional like a flat tax or specific taxes that would apply more heavily to higher income people like investments.)

        • marilove says:

          How do you instill a solid work ethic in young people if they were brought up in a family that has been on some type of assistance most of their lives?  I have friends from very rural places that see a lot of that.

          Is there any solid evidence or research done in regards to these claims?  Anecdotal doesn’t count.  I hear a lot of, “If we help people in any way, they’ll just become lazy!” and I’m not sure I fully believe it, especially since it’s all, “My mother’s friend’s aunt knows someone who totally abuses the welfare system!!” The Welfare Queen stereotype is common, but it’s not really based in much reality.  Especially when you consider that most super-rich people abuse the system far worse than any supposed “Welfare Queen”. Apparently, the super-rich taking advantage of tax-breaks and loopholes and paying almost zero taxes is okay, but a poor person getting a few extra food stamps is Bad Bad BAD!

          • bcsizemo says:

            I agree that I doubt there have been any in depth studies like that, but there is a lot of evidence that children do grow up with behaviors learned in the home.  I’m not saying one leads to the other, but it is just something to think about.

            I agree up to a point that everyone should work toward a common goal.  In my mind that is making everything better for everyone with in reason.  That doesn’t mean the whole community building houses for each other, but I think much more money and technology should be put back into the public through taxation.  I personally find it odd that things like utilities are not under government control/regulation.  But then again with the efficiency of our government that might not be such a great idea.

          • marilove says:

            I agree that I doubt there have been any in depth studies like that, but there is a lot of evidence that children do grow up with behaviors learned in the home.  I’m not saying one leads to the other, but it is just something to think about.

            So, you’re basically assuming that, if people get some help (without really identifying what that help is), their children will suddenly be lazy, because of some supposed studies that exist about learned behavior in the home?  Your assumptions lack a lot of, well, everything.

          • Duncan McPherson says:

            Without even breaking a search-engine-sweat, I was able to find this:
            http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=parents-peers-children

            The point is, the influence of parents on the child’s development (the Nurture Hypothesis) is not necessarily as absolute as we might have once thought. 

            A disturbing theme in these discussions is that they often appear to rely — on both sides! — on tribal knowledge or misremembered factoids. 

            Much research was done to determine how real the whole “welfare queen” stereotype was (here’s a nifty article from the pile on that: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/17m7r1rq#page-1). 

            Spoiler alert: while much political hay was made back in the day, that stereotype wasn’t actually supported by the data.

            The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 makes it infeasible, if not impossible,  for people to be on welfare indefinitely in the U.S. (Well… I’m sure if there’s a way to game the system, some outlier is doing it.) Here’s a book you can preview that discusses some of the consequences of that, courtesy of Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=l3q07196BAwC&printsec=frontcover&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false

            A curious thing about us — humans, that is — is that we have the capacity for brilliant insights and creative thought. However, that takes a tremendous amount of work. We’re very happy to let people do the hard work of thinking for us, taking their results and boiling them down into some heuristics. Because these reality filters become confused with our identities, we’ll start only observing that data that supports our prejudices, even unconsciously inventing data or creatively misinterpreting anomalous events to further represent our preferred points of view.

            The thing is, we don’t know — we don’t — how much parental influence affects a child’s willingness to become a useful member of society. However, if the disadvantages present for that theoretical impoverished child make it easier for her to believe, truly, that the group in charge “has it in” for her, then what is her incentive to become a “productive member” of that group? If we believe capitalism to be superior, then we admit that we are willing to let things be unfair. The race won’t always go to the swift, nor the fight to the strong. Hard work, talent, and a good attitude won’t always save you. Winners — at least some of them — will cheat, and nice people — somewhat more of them, it seems — won’t make it as often to the winner’s circle.

            And so we can do that. We can live in that world. But do we want to? Is it right to let that happen?

            It’s funny. I was born into a family that became, through my father’s shrewd dealings, very well off for a while. And then he left. And then what was left of my family was very, very poor. Sixteen years later, after climbing my way back up, achieving much, I felt, through merit, things fell apart once more. The “vagaries of the market” for my industry, and all that. Eleven years have elapsed since then, and things seem fine for me personally once again… but I no longer feel as though I can truly relax. And, looking at those who have been so deeply affected during this recession, I have such empathy for them.

            You can do everything right and still lose it all. And if you’re capable of “doing everything right” by the rules of the game we play, you have to realize you’re luckier — not better, just luckier — than the multitude of sorry bastards who can’t even get a chance to roll the dice.

        • VerySincerely says:

          The “teach a man to fish” is a Chinese proverb. The bible is, not surprisingly, much more radical on the subject of fishing. 

          One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 20 And they left their nets at once and followed him. (Matthew 4). 

          • Jim Saul says:

            “Give a man a fish, then charge double for every one after that.  Teach a man to fish, and we’ll sue the fuck out of you for infringing on our fishing business method patent.”

          • Brainspore says:

            Yeah, but just wait and see how suddenly the fishing trade becomes important once you take away Jesus’ magical bread-and-fish-multiplying-powers.

    • Catbeller says:

      We just want them to pay their damned taxes. And go to jail, when they are naughty. They do neither.

  10. bcsizemo says:

    I think Fry said it best, “Shut up and take my money!”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaHUpWuqNHY&feature=related

  11. Stefan Jones says:

    “Private Property Rights,” capitalized like a proper noun?

    Has the concept been elevated to personhood now, like corporations?

  12. PhosPhorious says:

    5:  Share? Was ist das “share?” I had to buy the oven and ingredients. Nobody shared. They got their cake, with interest. I didn’t have a choice. Why is it that nobody shares with the cake maker, but the cake maker has an obligation to share with everyone else?

    Poor cake maker. . .  nobody shares with him.  They just take.  Why don’t you call a cop. . . I mean, why don’t you hire a private security specialist at your own expense to protect the cake that was created ex nihilo by you?

    Problem solved!  You’re welcome.

  13. bubberella says:

    What do I want with a whole cake?  I bake a lot more for other people and give away a lot of canned goods that I grew in my back yard and prepared myself.  I wouldn’t bake or can if I just did it for myself. 

    • travtastic says:

      With a whole cake, you can be secure in the knowledge that no one else can have it!

    • Wally Ballou says:

      I often decide to share the cakes I bake with others.   I often help others to do a job that needs doing, which they can’t handle on their own.

      But the reason I do these things is that -choosing- to do them makes me feel good.  I enjoy the companionship of those I am helping, and yes, I can’t deny that the fact that they are thankful for my help does give me a mild buzz.

      Come at me with the threat of prosecution, and tell me I -must- give up half my cake to an anonymous someone who has no appreciation for the care and effort I put into baking it, and watch the oven occasionally grow cold.

  14. millie fink says:

    How do you instill a solid work ethic in young people if they were brought up in a family that has been on some type of assistance most of their lives?  

    Simple. Provide them with a real education, and then provide them with real opportunities to make something of it.

    • bcsizemo says:

      That’s a really naive and over simplified view of it.

      A real education and real opportunities does not mean that will have a drive and desire to take them.

      You can pose that same question/answer on why are so many people obese in America?  If you can afford fast food/junk food/eating out you can afford to eat healthy.  Giving someone the knowledge of what to eat and why doesn’t mean they will decide to change themselves.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        A real education and real opportunities does not mean that will have a drive and desire to take them.

        You know, your argument sounds remarkably like the view that some people are lazy by nature, only you’ve prettied it up by substituting upbringing for genetics. But it still says that some people are just that way, and the only way that we’ll get their lazy asses to do any real work is to keep them on a treadmill.

      • sincarne says:

        Your argument against millie’s response applies equally to your original argument.

        There is a theory (that I’m trying unsuccessfully to find) about generations in currently affluent families. It states that the most common progression is this: 1st generation lays the foundation for building wealth. 2nd generation works very hard and builds the wealth. 3rd generation is Paris Hilton.

        How do you instill a work ethic in the very rich who’ve had everything handed to them? Shouldn’t we take away all their wealth to ensure that they become productive members of society?

  15. subhan says:

    14) One should always remember that 99% of the population hold in their possession 99% of the guns, knives, cudgels, and other such nasty things.

  16. machinestate says:

    1)  “If you work hard, and become successful, it does not necessarily mean you are successful because you worked hard” 

    Well it doesn’t necessarily mean you are successful because you didn’t work hard either.  Some people make or do really useful stuff that everyone needs, like putting out fires, serving food, building factories, taking the trash away, answering 911 calls etc.  For one
    thing, many people get paid much more, to do much less, like some celebrities, many kinds of investors, and outright crooks who either break the law or exploit loopholes just because they can.

    I don’t get where you’re going with blad people not being [small people] or whatever that bigoted one-liner was about.

    2) Sure, “fortune” has even more than two meanings.

    3) I don’t see howthis is funny, it’s common sense.  The people the 99%’ers are angry at are those people who can control the wealth of the masses, without supervising it, nor even being made to supervise it.   It’s like having a kid you have to leave at daycare because you both work, and the daycare pretends to teach them stuff but instead just shows them TV ads all day and/or wander off.  It’s time to give the SEC some real enforcement.

    4) Aesop’s Sour Grapes?  Really dude…? really.

    Yeah, and people who say being unemployed doesn’t matter haven’t been unemployed for over a year – by your logic anyway. Or that anyone who says alcohol doesn’t matter has probably drank before, and can’t/doesn’t now.  I have no idea where you’re going with this one, sorry Lemonny.

    5) “There may not be a reason to share your cake. It is, after all, yours.
    You probably baked it yourself,”

    - and generated your own power?  did you leave a carbon footprint?

    ” in an oven of your own construction”

    - with raw materials sourced from where, and disrupting whom in that process?

    “with ingredients you harvested yourself. ”

    - What is there “roundup ready” wheat now?

  17. MrBillWest says:

    “No. 11 Historically, a story about people inside impressive buildings ignoring or even taunting people standing outside shouting at them turns out to be a story with an unhappy ending.”

    This is the one that scares the shit out of me. No matterwhat, this must remain civil. Far too often in history this shit end in blood. Many people are refering to the 99%, but many of the 99% side with the 1%.

  18. MrJM says:

    Consider moving your money from your bank to a credit union in which you will have an ownership interest: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/10/10-9 

  19. Guido says:

    “How do you instill a solid work ethic in young people if they were brought up in a family that has been on some type of assistance most of their lives?  ”
    How do you instill a solid work ethic in young people if they were brought up in a family that lives from trust funds, builds nothing and adds no value to any product?

  20. lavardera says:

    You can tell its struck a nerve because of all the rallying against it. All this condeming taxing the rich – Hey, lets just start with removing the Bush tax breaks, and take the taxing of the rich back to where it used to be. If that does not kill all the rich folks, then maybe we can take it a bit further – not for ever, but hey, maybe for just as long as the Bush tax breaks were in place. Just to even up a bit, ok?

  21. Shay Guy says:

    Something just clicked in my head while reading this comment thread. Here’s a quote from Dogbert’s Top Secret Management Handbook:

    Leadership skills are quite different from management skills. When you “manage,” by definition, you’re trying to distribute resources where they will do the company the most good. When you “lead,” by definition, you’re trying to get those resources distributed to yourself. Obviously, leadership is a better way to go. It’s easier too.

    That’s the problem. Ideally, bankers do contribute something to the nation — they move money around to where it can do the most good. (And store it, but I think that’s secondary.) But too many bankers were willing to neglect or act against that goal in favor of moving as much of it as possible into their own pockets.

  22. Stefan Jones says:

    I’m not sure what this means, but a couple of times a month I bake a couple of cakes or a tray of brownies or the like for my co-workers. It’s a team-building morale boosting kind of thing.

  23. Jim Saul says:

    Just because I can’t believe the meme hasn’t been referenced yet…

    “The cake is a lie!”

  24. Brainspore says:

    “Fortune” is a word for having a lot of money and for having a lot of luck, but that does not mean the word has two definitions.

    So Lemony Snicket is saying many rich people got that way through A Series of Fortunate Events?

  25. asuffield says:

    But more importantly, what happened to the Snicket file? And where is the sugar bowl?

  26. 13tales says:

    Dear America: while you’re busy wilfully each others points, triumphantly toppling straw men, arguing about cake, and quibbling over percentages, could you please find time to regulate your bankers, even just a little, so they’ll stop wreaking havoc on the world economy?

    - signed, the rest of the world

    PS. It may help to jail some of them.

  27. Peter Ellis says:

    (3) is badly worded, which is a real shame.  I suspect he was aiming for an image along the lines of the child-catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  Instead, it plays into the stereotype of the uneducated lower classes having too many children.

  28. Chris Hogan says:

    5. There may not be a reason to share your cake. It is, after all,
    yours. You probably baked it yourself, in an oven of your own
    construction with ingredients you harvested yourself. It may be possible
    to keep your entire cake while explaining to any nearby hungry people
    just how reasonable you are.

    And a ba(n)ker counter-argues:

    If I buy the cook book, oven and ingredients with my own money, and then spent the time and effort baking the cake myself, then that makes it MY cake.*  Take it off me, and I’m not likely to bake another.

    * Marx and Adam Smith agree on this.

  29. snagglepuss says:

    I just rely on Lily Tomlin’s idea that winning the rat race only means that you’re the biggest and meanest rat of them all.

    “Working hard” within a system that both a member of it and the people he/she screws over know is already rigged in the member’s favor is not something to brag about, it does nothing to elevate their images or ideas, and to continue to defend it marks it’s adherents not as  decent or honest people, but as, at best,  delusional or willfully ignorant dupes – Flaws which in themselves tend to wreck their argument that the cream will rise to the top.

    bcsizemo and ernunnos have either forgotten this, or never learned it. They defend a set of values and behaviors that they would instantly recognize as horrific if they were working against them, but for the time being they choose to believe that they are beneficial to all. Should the day come that the cut-throat realities of their cherished system were to stab them in the ass, they’d be only too quick to hire an attorney and decry it’s unfairness and it’s loathsome lack of ethics or humanity.

    It never fails to amaze me the way that cheaters and ruthless swine sneer at the carnage they cause, yet expect pity and forgiveness, even CHARITY, when that carnage catches up with them. Is there a clinical term for that kind of pathology, or does the term “fucking asshole” pretty much cover it?

  30. Annie says:

    I just want to be the girl with the most cake.

  31. ercwtsn says:

    For me, number 5 best extrapolates an Occupiers’ animosity of the wealthy minority:
    there is nothing wrong with a man keeping what is rightfully his–after all, you earned it–but when his pursuit of wealth impedes on the commonwealth then the people have right to make protest. 

    In the marketplace we are all connected. And to manipulate, exploit or constrain others in favor of so few particulars, encroaches us all.

  32. Antinous / Moderator says:

    The real question about this post is: where are those two guys standing?  Because the plant in front of them is Colocasia esculenta or Taro.  Are there tropical sky farms in Manhattan now?

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