Ben Affleck Lives on $1.50 Per Day

1220-Ben-Affleck-mass-senate-seat-dems-scramble_full_600One of the left’s favorite linguistic touchstones is differentiating between the economically “lucky” and the economically “unlucky.” Sometimes, they substitute “blessed” for lucky; other times, they substitute “unfortunate” for unlucky. The underlying notion is clear: economics are random. On average, anyone, regardless of intelligence, initiative and decision-making ability, can be poor. So, too, anyone can be rich in the lottery of life.

Nowhere is this myth more closely guarded than in Hollywood. When it comes to Tinseltown, the elites who live in posh mansions off of Sunset Blvd. believe that they could just have easily ended up in a one-bedroom hole-in-the-wall in Pacoima, waiting tables at the nearest Chipotle.

So when Ben Affleck announced this week that he would attempt to spend no more than $1.50 on food and drink in one day, he raised few eyebrows in the self-important liberal Mecca that is Los Angeles. Sure, this multimillionaire wears expensively tailored clothes to the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Sure, he earns millions per movie. But he can eat like a poor person!

This is a logical maneuver for a follower of Howard Zinn: Affleck thinks he’s rich because he exploits poor people, even if he’s never actually exploited a poor person. He lives in the greatest country in human history, and is rich because he is a talented writer, director, and actor (he’s progressed somewhat since Reindeer Games). But to assuage his guilt, he’ll tell the lie that millions of Americans are barely able to consume their minimum calorie requirements each day thanks to the cruelty of capitalism.

According to OMG!, the Yahoo Hollywood blog, the director and star of Argo will be raising cash for the Global Poverty Project. Other celebs joining the quixotic quest to get skinny include Sophia Bush, Josh Groban, Debi Mazar, and Hunter Biden.

So, how many Americans are living on $1.50 per day? Virtually nobody. According to a study by the University of Michigan, about 1.7 million households in the United States were living in extreme poverty based on their cash income. That number was just 700,000 when you include welfare and food stamps. When state benefits are included, that number drops precipitously.

But we shouldn’t be fooled by the notion that millions of Americans are just a food stamp away from starvation. Private charities continue to care for the hungry. The costs of these government programs are staggeringly large, and represent taxpayer money better served by reinvestment into the economy and charitable giving.

Beyond that, decision making counts. While Hollywood likes to portray those who are permanently poor as universally hard-working, moral, excellent decision makers, the permanently poor (not counting those who truly cannot take care of themselves like the disabled and mentally ill) are largely poor because they make poor decisions. Those poor decision are often incentivized by the government.

The good news is that at least Affleck is raising money for a private charity. Mayor Corey Booker of Newark, New Jersey tried a similar stunt last year in order to stump for more government spending.

Affleck will no doubt cite his heroic gesture as evidence that America’s government must do more for the “unlucky.” But if liberals actually wanted to help with poverty, they might try focusing on incentivizing personal success. They might make an effort to use their celebrity to encourage childbearing within marriage, since unwed motherhood is the single most correlative factor in poverty. They might try to push for school choice since the poor suffer most from our catastrophic public education system . They might even work to start businesses and work with them in areas that have historically taken government money rather than building industry.

But it’s easier to eat three bananas a day in front of the cameras. That makes for good imagery and for a self enhancing sense of personal morality as well. Encouraging good decision making sounds preachy and judgmental. It implies that people like Ben Affleck are rich for a reason. And Hollywood can’t live with that reality. It would force them to try to help others in a material way. It would force them to stop condemning everyday Americans, middle class people who can’t afford the luxury of spending a day posing for TMZ while tearing down the philosophy of capitalism that provides true opportunity.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

  • Anamah

    He should be more acute what kind of thinking is that? Maybe he has time to study this matter… because it seems is unable to give a viable idea …However I liked his work at Argo…

  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    Leftist lies, especially among the Hollyweird, are legendary and as big as Pinnochio's nose. To assuage their guilt over their lavish lifestyles, just for acting out parts in a fantasy world, they try to act out fake penance. Lost on Affleck, and the rest of the leftist crew, is that if not for capitalism he would indeed be living in less high style straits, but hardly on $ 1.50 a day!!. But rather than thank capitalism for his good fortune, he feigns this and that, as actors are wont to do.

    To be sure, Affleck's latest flick was a well crafted directorial debut. But as an ever angst-ridden leftist, he allowed his film to be co-opted by his leftist cohorts in Washington – http://adinakutnicki.com/2012/10/14/hollywood-lib

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

  • Mary Sue

    Ben Affleck has always been terminally stupid.

  • candy

    If poverty and entitlement use leaves people "starving", why are 60% of women on welfare overweight / obese?

    • guest

      in large part b/c cheap food in the US is disproportionately high calorie, preservative laden food. http://frac.org/initiatives/hunger-and-obesity/wh

      • Spikey1

        So because calories are actually energy; the poor people are consuming too much energy and not working it off.

        Do actually see where your logic leads….

      • patron

        Of course it's our fault for the lack of grocery stores in Detroit neighborhoods where residents steal everything in site including the copper from live electric lines.

        It's never the crackheads, who know how to cook crack, meth and boil the opiates out of pain pills but can't steam broccoli or wash lettuce. It's never the drunks, who prostitute for their addictions and spend all their food stamps on junk food a few days after receiving them.

        What's the solution for the awful problem of the lack of Whole Foods and farmer's markets next to crack houses and burnt out blight from Devil's Night? More big government spending by liberals of course! Just ignore the bill needed for Michelle Obama's military convoy and fighter jet escorts when she builds community gardens which months later turn into community cesspools.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    If Ben was spending time working at a Goodwill or Salvation Army Store maybe I could
    give him some credit as a caring human being but the $1.50 a day gimic is pure crap.
    Being a Hollywood type he must get ahead of the crowd in endearing himself to the
    leftist media to validate his bonafides as a lefty. I thought his movie gave the correct
    appelation a starving person might give him………..ARGO………………William

  • guest

    "the permanently poor … are largely poor because they make poor decisions. "
    Since this is the heart of your argument, you could at least pretend it's something more than uninformed opinion. Ever heard of providing evidence for one's central claims? Can we assume you believe this nonsense to be true on a global scale as well, or is it just our poor?

    • Mary Sue

      I can think of several bad decisions that don't need evidence because it happens all the time.

      -spending rent money on ANYTHING BUT rent (be it the next shiny thing or drugs or cigarettes)
      -smoking
      -doing drugs
      -just being bad with money in general
      -not finishing school, not because they can't, but because they don't want to because they'd rather hang out and play hookey.
      -getting a job and not being reliable (being late or absent disturbingly often for no good reason other than irresponsible behavior)
      -being a thief

    • patron

      Yes. Even more so on a "global scale". Heroin addiction in the Moslem world, property seizures in Latin America and South Africa, and bribes in Asia. The ones who get out only come back to their cultures as egotistical god men, mimicking their idols in Europe and and the coasts, and kill everyone in site.

      Since 2008 under Obama's Forward to the Dumpster plan, the US provides incentives for poverty. Everyone who left welfare due to work requirements went on SSI. 90 months of unemployment, free healthcare, free food, free housing, and free utilities make the welfare state more lucrative than going to the factory at 6:00 AM.

      The worst is Bernanke's federal printing press of $85 billion a month. We're told it's suppose to magically transform roofers into machine operators, but it's just the fuel for the Democratic's money for votes schemes.

  • tkellybal

    I'm reminded of Martin Sheen spending a night or two 'homeless', years ago. What did that accomplish? This fasting by Affleck has more to do with self-absorption rather that aide to those less fortunate.
    It has become obvious to me, now age 48, that the poor in America are disproportionately stupid and lacking in moral character. If someone is not stupid and lacking in moral character, they are far more likely to climb out of poverty. Stunts like Affleck's and Sheen's are of no benefit to anyone except themselves. It just assuages their guilt.
    Now whether poor people should be helped is another question, and up to each individual.

    • Mary Sue

      oh yeah, he kicked a homeless person off a sewer grate so he could feel what it was like to be homeless.

  • tagalog

    If Ben Affleck and his co-ideologists had any real connection to the world of people who have low income, they'd be living it up on their high income.

    People with low income don't look to the rich to act like poor people; that doesn't give the low-income people a damn thing to aspire to. Having a lot of money to throw around is the dream of low-income people.

    For Heaven's sake, just watch the movie Sullivan's Travels. It was made about 75 years ago. Back then, when EVERYBODY was broke, they understood that. Today, it's cloud-cuckoo land.

    Ben Affleck doesn't have a clue.

  • Michael Volpe

    This reminds me of my favorite comedy, Sullivan's Travels. Did Affleck ever mention the movie in relation to this idea?

  • AlgerHiss

    Little Ben is the Mitch Snyder of our times.

    • tagalog

      Mitch Snyder at least had the advantage of being committed to his cause.

      As soon as the newsworthiness of it dies down, or Ben Affleck wants to hire a private jet to take him somewhere, his $1.50 a day budget will go flying out the window.

  • Spider

    The best social program on earth is a good JOB. Something Obama and the Left knows nothing about creating – and never will… The Obama Doctrine: Bankrupt the country, Spread the Poverty around and make excuses for Is-lam. Oh… and of course be Joe Cool and play Golf.

  • Lon Chaney

    Who cares what Affleck says or does? It's preening and prancing, that's all.

    • Mary Sue

      not to mention a desperate attempt to regain relevance.

  • Roy Dzigli

    Your conjecture is that Ben Afleck subscribes to the "Lucky"/"Unlucky" Paradigm?
    We have no way of knowing how pervasive that beleif is among Hollywood elites but the concept if it's accurate would be comparitive to the "Divine Right Of Kings" maybe?
    Why do they think that God has graced them with good fortune and not graced others?
    Some humans do inherit talent,wealth or intelligence and manage to piss it away. Others seem to live lives of contentment and grace.
    My own experience with poor, lower classes has been that the majority are lazy and corrupt. Those who who are not lazy and corrupt but are still poor have a diginity that you cannot put a value on.
    It does seem that when many people have huge sucess in one field they feel compelled to tell everypone else what to do and how to behave.
    Every persons spiritual path is different and the measure of their success or failure may or may not have anything to do with wealth………I'm just sayin!

  • http://twitter.com/kattaB4 @kattaB4

    Has there ever been anyone sane out of Hollywood!?

    • tagalog

      Walter Matthau always struck me as pretty down-to-earth and levelheaded.

  • Maxie

    To be fair, in Aflecks' world ". . . anyone, regardless of intelligence, initiative and decision-making ability, can be poor. So, too, anyone can be rich in the lottery of [an artists] life." In can be who you know, who you owe, or who you do, or don't, sleep with. The people who inhabit this superfluous world know this all too well but, in their arrogant ignorance, project this prostitutional ethos onto the world at large.

  • DebbieOhio912

    How nice it is of Ben to demonstrate his empathy for the poor. What an insult.
    It never ceases to amaze me that the very people who hate capitalism don't have any problem with it when it stuffs their pockets with $$$. Put up or shut up, Hollywood.

  • marios

    Why did not Affleck donate at least 1 ML to such organization as "Veterans of foreign wars", or "Help hospitalized veterans", or "National disabled veterans", or… He and almost all those Hollywood" liberals are cynical hypocrites. Nothing but only pose. Disgusting. It is fact that conservatives donate in times more than liberals.

    • tagalog

      The Wounded Warrior Project could use some money. Really.

  • Mary L

    But that's asking a lot of Ben Affleck to suggest he encourage motherhood within marriage, which is a great idea, because what you are really asking him to say is don't have sex outside marriage, and who has the courage to say that? Because otherwise, your are asking him to either endorse contraception (morally wrong) or, abortion, a heinous act. So what you really want him to do is say: don't have extra marital sex. C'mon, let's get real. Do you really think he will be able to actually swim so much against the tide?