Underearners Anonymous

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Hi Folks,

I found this article about a group called Underearners Anonymous interesting. I think it provides interesting insight into the mindset of many poor people in this country and I think it would be interesting to know more about the stories of the members of the UA groups.

I found the following quote particularly revealing:

... most members insist that the program is really about cultivating "prosperity"—a state of mind that includes a feeling of well-being and the ability to make sound judgements. Indeed, the most compelling story I heard had little to do with money. "Linda," a teacher and researcher earning her Ph.D., told me she was suicidal 12 months ago—"completely broken and damaged"—and out of answers. UA's 12 steps, she says, were the solution.

Her entire life, she says she saw herself as "a highly educated and brilliant victim" of an indifferent world, but her step-work revealed the true reason for those $7-an-hour filing jobs: They allowed her to feel morally superior to friends taking jobs as investment bankers, and intellectually superior to her co-workers. Linda says she also discovered the source of her suicidal feelings: buried guilt and shame. For more than a decade, she had been leeching off family and friends, lying to get jobs and stealing from employers. When she confessed and made amends to the folks she had harmed, she says, the bad feelings vanished. These days, Linda supports herself, practices rigorous honesty and does an awful lot of praying. The result, she says, is increasing dignity, peace of mind and self-acceptance.

To me, that sounds exactly like the mindset of a lot of university liberals. It's amazing that a person could feel morally superior to other people while stealing on the side. Undoubtedly, the internal contradictions of her life were leading to suicidal thoughts. But, the great thing about UA is not that it pointed out those contradictions but that it apparently helped her find a way out. This, in my view, could make it a very good program (though I still know little about it).

It sounds like the organization has a religious foundation, but it would seem logical for Objectivists to create such a group. A 12-step program to help people realize their full potential sounds like exactly the kind of thing a philosophy of rational individualism should be promoting.


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  • 3 weeks later...

There is normally a lot more going on. "Self-Talk" that is put into your head while you are too young to know better, much less resist. Like nobody in your family has gone to college, it's a waste of time and money (unfortunately, too true for most people) etc. Ditto the religion thing. It's an attack on your mind, and most people never get free of it.

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