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Everyone knows there's a clear double standard between the rich and the poor in pretty much every facet of life. From opportunity to incarceration, it's not even debatable. It's so bad that we don't even try to hide it anymore -- we just kind of accept it, like knowing that our favorite Game of Thrones character is absolutely going to get their head cut off at some point, and there's not a goddamn thing we can do about it. So we might as well masturbate to it.

The insane part isn't the acceptance of that fact. It's that we actually advocate it by adhering to a strange, universal set of morals that propose to make us better people at the expense of financial growth. And the longer we keep ourselves tied to a flowery idea that's meant to work only in a perfect, honest world, the longer it's going to take to wade out of the sewage. For instance, how many of you have heard ...

4
Being Rich Makes You an Evil, Greedy Bastard

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The Moral:

For an example of the evil, greedy rich person, see pretty much every movie ever made. TV Tropes has a pretty good section on it. So does the Bible. For that matter, so does life. If you need more evidence and have a few lifetimes, feel free to read through the 50 million stories this single Google search returned on "charity worker arrested for embezzlement." If you're immortal and the sun hasn't exploded by the time you finish, we'll wait.

Money corrupts, and there is no denying it. It's why we hear so many stories in the news about politicians ripping off ridiculous amounts of money from the people they serve, yet doing less jail time than a poverty-entrenched person who was caught with a joint. The rich get away with it because they have the money to buy their way out of punishment (through better lawyers, private detectives, bribing the judge with fine meats), which then reinforces their will to commit more atrocities, because ... well, why not? There's no downside. Not really -- not when compared to fucking jail. But hey, it's not their fault. Evil money just claimed another victim by turning an otherwise honest person into an agent of greed. They're victims, people.

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".tnavres layol reve ruoY .nopaew ruoy ma I .rallod ythgim ,uoy rof ylno swolf doolb yM"

But That's Bullshit Because ...

Money doesn't corrupt jack dick. If all the money disappeared from the planet today, the object of temptation would then be whatever was next on the list of "most desirable human stuff." Probably boobs. I don't know, ladies, I'm looking at this from a dude's point of view. You'll have to give me a little rope on this one.

Oh, wait, it's rope! Everyone would value and desire rope.

Eventually, you'd have corrupt people stealing and hoarding other people's rope. There'd be rope embezzlement trials and gang members shooting each other in the streets over bungee cords. The point is that the temptation to take what isn't ours is always there. The people who master that urge are considered good -- or, hell, even normal. And the people who give in to it are corrupt. And it spans all socioeconomic levels. Money doesn't corrupt ... we do. Money is just frequently the object of our corrupt desires.

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No way he's not fucking that pile later.

The problem is that we've seen the greedy rich person trope for so long that it's become ingrained that wealth (and, by association, success) is an undesirable goal. We've set up a stigma that "too much" money is a bad thing. Yes, making yourself wealthy by crotch-punching everyone you come in contact with is terrible, but that's not the only path to the goal. What, we can't be both good and financially secure? Why does it have to be one or the other? The truth is, it's not an either/or path.

In fact, the point isn't even really about becoming rich -- a very small percentage of people reading this article will ever reach that level. It's about that stigma sticking its ass-sniffing nose into every goddamn tax bracket and tainting even the smallest desire for financial growth as "bad." Something a good, moral person would never want to become.

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As an added layer of evil, she follows the metal detector guy all over the beach, asking why he's mad.

That moral itself isn't just there to warn rich people about the possibility of corruption ... it's there to keep the non-rich exactly where they're at. Because let's face it, if everyone suddenly started making the same amount of money, there would be no such thing as "rich." And the actual corrupt members of that elite group don't want that. It means that they become one of us. They'd be taking a catastrophic fall in status. Lucky for them, that moral keeps us right in place, afraid of becoming them, petrified of sharing their horrible fate as victims of the Greed Demons. The only way for us to combat it is to stand at a safe distance from the all-encompassing power of the wicked money that turned them into those monstrosities.

3
Haggling Over Debts Makes You a Dishonest Piece of Shit

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The Moral:

You put yourself in the debt you're now drowning in. You spent more than you could afford, and now you need to own up to it and pay that shit off. What's wrong? You can't afford the late fees or the interest rates associated with your credit cards or collection agency bills? Too bad. This is the way the financial world works. When you signed the paperwork for that card or that loan, you agreed to all of their policies, and now you are bound by law to pay it. Read the fine print, fucko. If they so desire, they can hire God himself to come down and spank your ass with a mountain.

And you'd totally deserve it. You didn't walk into a bank and ask them to just give you money. Even if you did, that's what the immediate eruption of laughter was about. You asked for a loan. Credit cards don't operate on the gift system. You entered into an agreement that, yes, they would give you the money you asked for, and in return, you'd pay back that money, plus more. That's how they make a profit. Now man up and pay that shit off before they get pissed and decide to have Jesus throw a forest at you.

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And lo, He held a mighty spruce. And with great fury the Lord did whip a bitch.

But That's Bullshit Because ...

Hey, did you know you can settle with collection agencies for less than what you owe? Because you totally can, and that even includes having them remove or lessen the negative remarks they put on your credit history. But what about those late fees and interest rates? Those are set in stone, right? You signed a contract. Nope. You can negotiate your way out of those, too.

Wait, did I say earlier that when you signed that paperwork, you were bound by law? Sorry about that -- law has very little (and oftentimes nothing) to do with it. That's right, fuck the police. You're signing an agreement to corporate policy, which means that if you contact the right person and talk in just the right way, those policies can be bent or broken.

So why do we just give in and pay what the creditors are demanding? Because we've taught ourselves that not doing so is immoral and dirty. Not sticking to the agreed-upon terms is downright criminal -- you're breaking the contract, after all. What we forget is that you're not dealing with a $20 loan from cousin Filthneck Crotchrocket. You're dealing with a business. And if a business is faced with the choice of waiving a few late fees in order to keep you from going to a competitor, that's no choice at all. They'll happily give those fees the finger and work out payments with you.

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"Ma'am, while we're at it, can you get it in writing that they'll put their tongue in my ass?"

And yes, goddamnit, you are entitled to that. They will not hesitate to stick you with whatever extra fees they can, because you are not a person to them. You are an account -- an asset to their business if you're making your payments. If you're not willing to make the same business decisions for yourself, you are at their mercy. Just keep in mind that it doesn't mean you should call them in a temper tantrum, demanding justice like you have something over them. They don't have to do jack shit for you, and they won't if you're yelling racial slurs at the person who's reading your file. But if you're polite and you talk to the right people, they almost always have the ability to help you out.

This is a major way that wealthy people mentally differ from the poor and middle class. We allow that moral to taint our view of how money and businesses work, whereas to them, haggling over debt is just a tool. Do you think Donald Trump feels guilt when he repeatedly files for bankruptcy? Hint: No, he does not. Donald Trump feels nothing. Ever. About anything. It's just another business strategy. It's no different on your smaller scale.

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No, seriously, Donald Trump thinks he is the only person who lives here on this planet.

Given, if you do that to regular people who have given you personal loans, you are a douchebag and deserve to have the mob punch your neck off. Please don't take that as a stereotype-based insult, The Mob. I'm a huge fan of your crimes.

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2
Asking for Help Makes You Weak

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The Moral:

My ex-mother-in-law used to help us out quite a bit, just out of the blue. Usually it was in odd ways, like buying a swing set for the kids or bringing us unnecessary things she found while shopping. Mostly dildos. Sometimes things that weren't dildos but were shaped very much like dildos. But it was always useful in some way, even if we brought the unnecessary items back for store credit. We were always thankful for it, but the second we asked her for help, she blew up.

Honestly, I understand why, and I don't blame her for it one bit. Giving something freely to someone feels pretty awesome. But if that person asks you for more on top of what you've already given them, it's pretty easy to feel like you're being taken advantage of. You start to see the recipient as an irresponsible person who constantly needs the intervention of others just to function in everyday life. She had no problem letting us know that, both in words and in the look on her stupid, fat face.

From the perspective of the person in need, when you see those reactions long enough (and no, it doesn't take very long -- once is enough for most people), you learn that asking for help makes other people pity and resent you. You're not good enough to make the money that they make. You're not strong enough to put yourself in their position. You're weak.

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"There you go. Make sure you don't try to eat it, you dumb fucker."

So after a while, you do absolutely anything to avoid seeking help. Including murder. Well, OK, maybe not that, but you'd do quite a bit. Obviously, taking care of problems on your own is the most respected trait a person can have, at least on the financial end. And if you can't ever manage that, you'll never be respected or even taken seriously for that matter.

But That's Bullshit Because ...

Seeking that position of independence isn't a bad thing. In fact, that should be your immediate goal in life. But if you're in a tight spot and you can't make it out on your own, not taking advantage of the help that's available to you is doing nothing but hurting you.

Government assistance is a perfect example. We were on food stamps, welfare, and medical cards from as early as I can remember in life, right up until the day I separated from my ex-wife. As I was trying to adjust to the financial clusterfuck that ensued after moving out, many of my friends and family recommended applying for assistance through several programs that would have taken care of everything from my electric bill to food. But I refused. I had been on those programs my entire life, and no matter what the consequence, I had made up my mind that I would never be on them again. Even if it meant that I had to kill a man.

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Always be prepared. That's my motto.

Sorry, I'll stop with that. It's just so fun to say if you do it all dramatically.

For the next couple of years, I was completely fucked. And not in the fun way. I was trying to claw my way out of the hole I had created, and every time I moved up 5 feet, I'd slide back 4 feet, 11 inches. I'd ask for help only when I was about to lose a utility, which put the person I was asking in a ridiculous bind, trying to scrape up cash on a few minutes' notice. Which in turn made me look 10 times more irresponsible.

But I eventually learned that the hole I was in could not be scaled by myself. Not with my miniscule income and a hundred other factors adding weight to the climb. I needed wiggle room, a reliable boost that wouldn't just step out from under me when I was finally getting a firm grip on the walls (then giggle as I lay motionless, a broken spine rendering my registered-weapon feet useless for any chance at retaliation). Accepting that help was what finally got me out, and it took more strength to do that than many people can imagine. The weakness was the pride that kept me swatting away good, logical suggestions like mosquitoes. Murder mosquitoes. Sorry, there's no way I can stop doing that.

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That's why I'll never say shit to people who have to live on welfare. I've been there, and it sucks. It beats the shit out of your pride and makes you feel like you're less than human, feeding on the scraps of "normal" people who will always see you as trash. But not taking that help is doom. You're taking an already disadvantaged situation and making it a thousand times harder than it has to be in order to escape. The assistance is there for a reason, and submitting to the moral that accepting it makes you weak is just plain dumb. Use it, get the hell out of that hole, and never look back.

Of course, on the opposite end of that spectrum ...

1
Saying No to Requests for Help Makes You an Asshole

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The Moral:

There was a weird cycle in my family when I was growing up where everyone borrowed from everyone else. They couldn't get around it, because when you're a week away from payday and you have no food left, you have to do something. But the thing that has always struck me as odd was that none of them stopped and said, "No, I can't, because lending $20 to you means that I'll be that much short next week." They just freely coughed it up, and then four days later, they were fucked.

They had to supply the help because there was a person in need right in front of their face, and they had that $20 in their pocket right there on the spot. Even if that $20 came in the form of quarters, because my aunt was a bad stripper. What kind of asshole wouldn't do that for another person, let alone a family member? It's not even a choice. Any stable, sane family teaches their children from birth that you put other people before yourself because you never know when you're going to need that help in return. It's just the right thing to do.

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"I guess just take, like ... um ... half or something? I can make more, right?"

But That's Bullshit Because ...

You cannot help people if you're putting yourself in the position of needing the exact same help.

My wife manages a store for a corporation that has been going through a slump. Wait, let me rephrase that: a corporation that is murder-fucked beyond repair. They are currently closing many of their individual stores, including hers, which means she's losing her job. Fortunately, for the first time in ... well, ever ... we are far enough ahead on bills that we can easily coast for the next few months, even without her working.

Up until this happened, we've been able to help out my relatives when they're in financial trouble, but not for long. Because as much money as we have right now, we will need that to supplement the lost income as she's hunting for a new job. Preferably a hit man or a bounty hunter. We are now in the position where paying one of their bills means subtracting from our own. Regardless of how much we want to help them out, we are not in the position to do so until that job is replaced. Maybe a space smuggler? Anyone have any good connections?

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I don't even know what a space smuggler would smuggle. Like comets or something?

Now, from any of their vantage points, I will look like the stingiest tightwad asshole in history. I can hear some of them right now, yelling in a panic, "What the fuck? I know you can help me out. Compared to what I have, you're fucking RICH! Family is supposed to help out family!" But until our income gets back to normal, helping them out means putting my own household in the hole. And putting us in the hole means that when we do get back to normal, I still won't be able to help them out because I'll be busy digging us out.

You have to be extremely careful in choosing when to give in to those requests because it can very easily grow into a financial black hole. Even if they don't understand the position you're in, you have to remember that the more you grow financially, the more you can help them out in the future. But the key term there is "grow." It's easy to sit back and bash Bill Gates for having $67 billion and not giving it up to single-handedly solve all of the world's problems and bring about a never-ending peace between nations. It takes a colder logic to step back and realize that maintaining and growing his wealth is what allows him to donate $28 billion to his own charity and continue to do so long after everyone else has achieved their final goal of "good-looking corpse."

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Given, Bill Gates gets paid in those chocolate coins, so it may not be quite as impressive as it sounds.

Look, I'm not saying that we have to eliminate these morals. At their core, they're nice guidelines to help keep us from becoming dehumanizing monsters. I'm saying that, just like everything else in life, they need to be closely examined and questioned. Because what works for a millionaire has no bearing on someone who has to consider eating their pets to make it through next Tuesday. Yes, there is a double standard, but much of it is as simple as a mindset. And you are totally in control of that part. Get up and fight your way out of this shit -- on your terms, not theirs.


John is a columnist right here at Cracked with a new article every Thursday. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.


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