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[P]
Being Poor is Too Expensive

By leonbrooks in Culture
Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 05:15:36 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

If I am rich, I own my house and land; and generally the value of it increases. If I am poor I pay rent and never see a return. From time to time I am kicked out of my home and as well as forfeiting any bond, I have the expense of finding and moving into a new home.

Many factors like this contribute to making the poor poorer and the rich richer. Must a poor person remain forever an albatross, forever running and never quite able to fly?


The traditional remedy for poverty has been to buy a crate of apples, polish them up and sell them from a street corner. Have you ever tried this in a modern city? Would you buy an apple from someone you've never met, dressed in grungy clothes, in a dodgy neighbourhood and obviously looking desperate? And in a country town, everyone knows and trusts the grocer, not you.

Then the municipal authorities would come asking for your street-trading licence and either jail you for not having one or jail you on general suspicion - ``loitering with intent to commit a crime, namely loitering'' - or in Australia, ask you for your ACN and ABN and check that you were paying your GST.

You have no capital with which to start a business, no training in how to save from what you do have (or in how to run a business, however small), no licences, no qualifications.

The only old-boy network you have is a bunch of old boys who would like to borrow money from you if you had any.

So instead you turn to the State lottery, frittering even more money away in the hope of becoming a winner and never realising that there are an order of magnitude more convicted murderers than there are first-prize lottery winners.

In the extremely unlikely event that you do win real money, within two years you will be worse off than when you started because you don't know how to be rich, you're just a poor person who happens to have some money for a while. Oh, well.

And yet, in theory, you have the same opportunities, the same education as the little rich fella living not too many blocks away.

The lottery illustration shows that money is not actually what makes people rich. Nor is knowledge; in fact knowledge of the wrong kind can quickly make you dead, in many places. Nor is greed, because we all know greedy people who have always been poor.

But the person with money can buy their way out of problems; they're the one who can afford a lawyer to do better in court, can pay the fine and get on with their life instead of rotting in jail, can take a holiday away from the daily routine if they need to, have the capital to start a business if they want to strike out on their own. If their car expires, they can buy another. And they actually have a car in the first place.

But the poor? Not even God expects everyone to be rich; Jesus said ``ye have the poor with you always'' and instructed us to care for them.

In Open Source systems, we see some narrowing of the opportunity gap in a limited field, and a gift culture that works splendidly, albeit in an artificial environment. In MicroBanking, we see - at least in places like India and Africa - opportunities for smaller and smaller successful businesses.

But what can we each do to really cut back on poverty?

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Poll
How best can we fight poverty?
o Give poor people more money? 2%
o Improve the education system? 46%
o Abolish the education system? 8%
o Tax rich people more? 20%
o Relocate poor people? 3%
o Targetted policies (like uBanking)? 4%
o Teach them to value themselves? 7%
o Set them an example? 6%

Votes: 115
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Jesus said
o Also by leonbrooks


Display: Sort:
Being Poor is Too Expensive | 206 comments (204 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
Nit pick (3.64 / 14) (#1)
by finkployd on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:39:01 AM EST

"Must a poor person remain forever an albatross, forever running and never quite able to fly?"

The albatross can fly better than most birds, often flying hundreds of miles at a time and only touching the ground to breed.

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
s/albatross/ostrich? (2.00 / 1) (#4)
by your_desired_username on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:56:04 AM EST

That metaphor bugged me too; I would like to see it changed, even though I voted +1. I can't seem to think of a good replacent.

[ Parent ]
Dodo? (3.00 / 1) (#6)
by fvw on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:07:36 AM EST

Dodo seems to be the obvious replacement. Not only can't it fly, but it's also extinct, which is really a bummer.

[ Parent ]
Except... (3.00 / 3) (#16)
by nurglich on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:00:25 AM EST

That if poor people were extinct, it wouldn't be a bummer. No, I don't mean we should go out and kill the poor people. The point is it would be good if there weren't any at all. And unlike the dodo, we aren't exactly killing off the poor...

------------------------------------------
"There are no bad guys or innocent guys. There's just a bunch of guys!" --Ben Stiller, Zero Effect

[ Parent ]
this should help (5.00 / 1) (#28)
by Wah on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 12:33:50 PM EST

isn't google great...

One writer has used the analogy of an albatross. He notes that the albatross has the longest wingspan of any living bird: 12 feet. He also notes that it is too heavy to fly--it can't support itself in the air. In fact, in still air, it can't even take off. Yet the albatross is a marathon flier. Some speculate it can stay years at sea without returning to land. Scientists put a radio transmitter on one to track it. After 30 days and 9,000 miles, the battery gave out, and the albatross was still over the ocean.

I think it's a reference to all the things holding back those on the edge of prosperity. There are quite a few more that the poster doesn't get into, but it's a pretty good analogy. I guess the big question is, do you think it is everyone else's responsibility to build a catapult to launch the birds, or should the bird have to figure it out for himself?
--
Some things, bandwidth can't buy. For everything else, there's Real Life | SSP


[ Parent ]

The real analogy (3.00 / 1) (#53)
by Miniluv on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 05:45:30 PM EST

Is obviously penguins. This would truly enhance the already strained Open Source analogy to the point of breaking, but encourage voting for the story as readers are lulled into a false sense of euphoria while mentally picturing that ugly Tux.

The best part? It's even biologically accurate!

[ Parent ]

ARRRHHH! (3.00 / 2) (#58)
by Luke Francl on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:21:05 PM EST

Argh! Haven't any of you guys in this thread read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner? The albatros is a traditional symbol of burden. It was considered good luck for sailors on long on voyages. In Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the mariner kills an albatros, and in revenge the other sailors tie it around his neck as a punishment. Then the ship sinks and only the mariner survives, still with the albatros strung around his neck.

Maybe the education system failed you ;-)

To be fair, I have absolutely no idea if this is the metaphore the author was trying to suggest.

[ Parent ]

I'm fully aware (4.00 / 1) (#66)
by finkployd on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 07:52:18 AM EST

I'm fully aware of the The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, but there is no indication (nor would it even make much sense) that this is metaphore the author was using.

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
Yeah (none / 0) (#137)
by Luke Francl on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 03:59:31 PM EST

Upon further reflection, I agree with you. I just really liked "Rime".

Cheers.

[ Parent ]
Why I chose an albatross (thanks, Wah) (none / 0) (#131)
by leonbrooks on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 02:31:57 PM EST

  • Albatross, once flying, are essentially independent. As Wah pointed out, they can cover many thousands of miles without touching down and without much apparent effort
  • Albatross fledgelings aren't such great fliers; first takeoffs are very difficult even with a favourable breeze, and today's potential soaring champ (12,000km according to one SciAm program, halfway around the world) often becomes tomorrow's tiger-shark poo (if the link breaks, search for ``albatross shark''; check out Norbert Wu's other photos, many are brilliant).
  • Killing an albatross is considered unlucky (but nothing compared to a dolphin, see Terry Prachett's Small Gods for the consequences of Vorbis ordering one killed)
  • Finally, yes, the Rime of the Ancient Mariner

-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]
Well there's an obvious solution.... (3.18 / 11) (#2)
by daystar on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:46:44 AM EST

Since apples are the only path to wealth, if we put some effort into getting rid of all apples anywhere, then there will be no way for people to get rich. The People's Revolution will finally succeed!

Let's get to work, comrades.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.

Bad apples! (none / 0) (#145)
by pavlos on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 08:27:05 PM EST

This will also cure the problem of a few bad apples spoiling the lot!

Pavlos

[ Parent ]

Cure the problem? (none / 0) (#163)
by Wah on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 02:32:36 PM EST

I thought it was indicative of it.
--
Some things, bandwidth can't buy. For everything else, there's Real Life | SSP
[ Parent ]
chinese wisdom (ahem) (3.71 / 7) (#3)
by lokmant on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:50:44 AM EST

i usually *disagree* with Confucius, but the man once said:

"Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime."

(Mencius however, argued that you shouldn't educate people if they are hungry ... so it seems they are a little bit contradictory *g*)

but anyway, education is the way to go IMHO.

--
"fashionably sensitive, but too cool to care" (jewel)

Jeff Duntemann's version (4.00 / 2) (#76)
by dennis on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 12:31:38 PM EST

Sell a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you can sell him stuff for the rest of his life.

[ Parent ]
Another version (4.33 / 3) (#87)
by sigwinch on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 03:32:52 PM EST

Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day.
Teach a man to fish, and he eats for the rest of his life.
Teach a man to create an artifical shortage of fish, and he eats steak.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Or, the ever-popular... (3.00 / 1) (#89)
by beergut on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 03:56:51 PM EST

Give a man a fish, and you've fed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you've taught him to sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

Then there's always... (3.50 / 2) (#94)
by dgwatson on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 05:25:15 PM EST

Give a man a match, and he'll be warm for a minute. Set him on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

[ Parent ]
Confuse-she-us and Mince-she-us and salvation (none / 0) (#127)
by leonbrooks on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 02:03:23 PM EST

you shouldn't educate people if they are hungry

Ah! I have often wondered where the Salvation Army got their ``Soup, Soap and Salvation'' slogan from...

education is the way to go

I think so too, but what kind of education?
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

read your Marx (2.87 / 8) (#5)
by akb on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:03:23 AM EST

You seem to be making one of the basic Marxist observations about society. In identifying the proltetariat, Marx characterized them as the class which has only their own labor to sell, whereas other classes have been able to accumulate property and capital which can work for them. But everyone knows Marx has been proven wrong, so go watch TV and stop thinking about this.

Collaborative Video Blog demandmedia.net

Huh? (3.50 / 2) (#11)
by danny on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:22:50 AM EST

The story has no Marxist elements to it at all, that I can see. Nor does it make any sense at all to say "Marx been proven wrong" - any more than it would make sense to say that of Durkheim or Weber or Smith or Mill or Locke or any other prolific theorist on matters social and economic. (Every assertion in Das Kapital is false, yes?)

Danny.
[900 book reviews and other stuff]
[ Parent ]

Marx proven wrong? (2.20 / 5) (#14)
by lokmant on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:57:47 AM EST

Who ever said that Marx was proven wrong?

Perhaps central planning needed to wait for the internet to succeed?

--
"fashionably sensitive, but too cool to care" (jewel)
[ Parent ]

Marx proven right (4.00 / 6) (#17)
by slaytanic killer on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:09:29 AM EST

Marx's various critiques of purely free-market capitalism (for example: monopolies emerge without checks on their expansion) have been incorporated into modern policymaking in "capitalist" countries. In many ways, I hear China is even more capitalist than the US.

[ Parent ]
You don't need much money... (3.00 / 5) (#7)
by thunderbee on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:07:39 AM EST

...to start you own business. We're not talking about spending like a .com start-up. But you could start as a freelance consultant, then slowly build you business up with what money you make.
If you lead a reasonable life, you could be owning a small business in a few years. Then it's up to you to turn it into a profitable business, and keep it that way.
I'm not saying averybody can, I'm not saying it's easy, I just believe it's a way to go. It mainly depends on what you are willing to sacrifice. Is lowering you living standard for a few years acceptable? Are you ready to try, risking failure?

As to education, it is not a factor of success, it's a factor of failure. You don't have it, you'll suffer. It doesn't mean that you won't suffer just because you're educated!
Open Source decreases the cost of learning because you don't have to pay for software, and can freely learn about it. This allows you to build up skills that would otherwise be hard and expensive to come by.

There's no easy way to solve this problem. If there was one, it would be known if not used. Maybe it's just up to each of us to find his way.

freelance consultant? (3.00 / 1) (#62)
by Puchitao on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:15:13 PM EST

But what would our hypothetical proletarian consult on? Selling apples? Consulting jobs are great if you have enough education and experience in some in-demand field, but I doubt that he has a degree in IT or anything... and all the open source in the world's not gonna help him if he doesn't already have a computer.

Perhaps we can do *snappy fun* with you everytime! -- Orz
[ Parent ]
Well, he could sell vapour... (none / 0) (#125)
by leonbrooks on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 01:58:37 PM EST

...like many consultants do, but even that is a learned skill and a fine art, and not long-term-viable.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]
Not quite so simple. (2.66 / 3) (#8)
by Another Scott on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:14:33 AM EST

Hi,

You seem to take many chestnuts of popular wisdom as fact and use them to attempt to prove a point. I don't think you succeed.

For instance, some argue that it's foolish to own your own home. See, e.g. this post by Ben Tilly on IWeThey.

Minimizing poverty and more equitable distribution of income and wealth is a very complicated topic. It gets into the psychology of investment, balancing of risk and reward, law, ethics, foreign relations, civics, education policies, etc., etc.

It is a very interesting topic, but I think you need to improve your arguments.

Cheers,
Scott.

Corrected link. (none / 0) (#19)
by Another Scott on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:17:27 AM EST

Sorry about the mangled HTML.

Ben Tilly's post on IWeThey.

Cheers,
Scott.

[ Parent ]

Something specific would be much more useful (none / 0) (#124)
by leonbrooks on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 01:56:53 PM EST

some argue that it's foolish to own your own home

So someone postulated that rent was a bargain? Great, I like to see all avenues explored. However, this...

Minimizing poverty and more equitable distribution of income and wealth is a very complicated topic. It gets into the psychology of investment, balancing of risk and reward, law, ethics, foreign relations, civics, education policies, etc., etc. It is a very interesting topic, but I think you need to improve your arguments.

...is singularly useless to me. Yes, it can be a complicated topic if you're the kind of person who likes to complicate things. IMHO complicating your view of things is mostly a skillful way of avoiding actually doing something about them.

Some concrete examples of improvements that I could make to my arguments would be most helpful.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

How about this. (none / 0) (#149)
by Another Scott on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 11:52:45 PM EST

I said it was a complicated topic. I don't think it's possible to do it justice in just a few pages.

I gave an example of how one of your statements, about the rich owning their own house, isn't self-evidently true if you look at the costs and benefits and the way the economy works. I have similar feelings about your remarks about selling apples, not being able to start a business, etc. I could cite similar truisms: "The way to get rich is to use other people's money." But without evidence to back it up, it's not very persuasive.

My purpose in posting wasn't to counter all your arguments, but to state my view that your argument was weak.

I think your topic would be much stronger if you'd give factual evidence rather than anonymous annecdotes.

For instance, there's a relatively new concept called "microloans" which allow people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps with the help of very small loans. See, e.g., PBS Show "To Our Credit" which talks about microloans given to women around the world. Programs like this show that even very small amounts of credit can make a huge difference in reducing poverty.

A little searching with Google will turn up similar programs in the US - e.g. SBA info on Microloans. There are programs to help people start new businesses.

You could take the existence of these programs and investigate their successes and failures. Why, even with programs like this, is it difficult for some worthy people to get funding to start new businesses? Should something be done to fix the problems? If so, what?

It's things like that that I was getting at. Just friendly suggestions.

Cheers,
Scott.

[ Parent ]

Details, Evidence, Concepts (none / 0) (#157)
by leonbrooks on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 08:25:23 AM EST

I think your topic would be much stronger if you'd give factual evidence rather than anonymous annecdotes

Then posters would spend more time arguing about the details (often simply out of unfamiliarity) - as they have done to some extent anyway - instead of discussing the principles involved.

I have similar feelings about your remarks about selling apples, not being able to start a business, etc. [...] But without evidence to back it up, it's not very persuasive.

Didn't say ``not able to start a business,'' did say exceptionally difficult to start a business. Support for ideas expressed in the original post has been provided by several of the responses.

there's a relatively new concept called ``microloans''

Is there now? Well, well, what a surprise! Perhaps I should have put <BLINK> tags around ``In MicroBanking, we see - at least in places like India and Africa - opportunities for smaller and smaller successful businesses.''

As mentioned above, more reading is in order before suggesting improvements. It's a good idea to ensure that you have the concepts well in hand first. We have two eyes and ten fingers, therefore tend to type five times as much as we read. (-:

Also, if I don't agree with you it may not be because of a difference in proximate evidence, it may be due to a difference in reasoning. You seem to be hinting that the whole subject is so complex that it's too difficult to apply any simple, powerful metaphors to in a meaningful way. This is redundancy, we have whole universities full of people who say the same thing. I'm looking for the simple, powerful metaphors anyway, since they have a habit of bypassing theorists. (-:
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Rent? (3.77 / 9) (#9)
by wiredog on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:17:26 AM EST

If I am poor I pay rent and never see a return

I'm not poor and I pay rent. I'm just not rich enough to make the down payment on a house in Fairfax County Virginia. You appear not to realize that here is a group, quite large, known as the 'middle class'. Which is where I am, here in NoVa anyway. If I was still in Utah, with my salary, I'd be rich. I've been poor, the no-food-money-diet-plan poor, and yeah, it sucks. But I've known people who were poor who had houses and land. They had to sacrifice food/clothing money to make property tax payments, but they had the land.

The no-food-money-diet-plan really works, you can lose a lot of weight in a hurry when you go on that one.

The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
Phage

Poor is relative. (4.66 / 3) (#15)
by marlowe on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:59:54 AM EST

There's something to be said for knowing you have a place to sleep no matter what happens. To own a house nad land free and clear, with no mortgage. But then there's property tax. So we need some interest-bearing investments to pay off the tax and basic living expenses. Then you've got your own safety net. But wait, what about health insurance? Okay, some more interest-bearing investments to pay for that. Now you're set.

It's not about living in luxury. It's about security. Most people in America can't afford that. So we settle for luxury. It's cheaper.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Poor people don't fall from the sky (4.03 / 26) (#10)
by DesiredUsername on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:22:30 AM EST

"You have no capital with which to start a business, no training in how to save from what you do have (or in how to run a business, however small), no licences, no qualifications."

No training? No qualifications? Public training is available for free until age 18. It's called "school". Math class (and probably home economics) will teach you how to save. Shop class (and home ec and probably some others) will give you some qualifications. Nearly all poor adults were once children and teenagers in school, they didn't just spring into being on the street corners.

For those few remaining people (retarded, mentally ill, etc) that didn't have an opportunity that they passed up there is no "cycle" that needs breaking anyway. That is, giving them a house and land won't get them out of poverty--they can't take care of it.

I utterly reject your "poor people have no way to win" argument. 5 years ago my (then) girlfriend and I were actually losing money every month. Our rent was higher than my bimonthly paycheck and student loans, food and basic necessities ate up more than the rest. We had a $2000 credit card balance (from renting the truck to move to the place where the job was) and it was growing because we had to charge things like bread. I even lost my job at one point. Today we own a house (with a very large yard), have two children and are well on our way to paying off our 30 year mortgage (our only remaining debt) in 15 years.

How did I "Make Money Fast"? Taking advantage of my education, investing in my future (read: "college") and smart economics ("The Tightwad Gazette" was invaluable here). And don't try to tell me you "don't have enough money for college". I paid for the entire thing myself--including a $20,000 consumer loan (yes, the ones with the really high interest rate).

Am I against helping people in true need? No. What I'm against is helping people who have never shown any inclination to help themselves.

Play 囲碁
You're giving public education way too much credit (3.90 / 11) (#13)
by marlowe on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:53:35 AM EST

I've been to public schools, private schools, and the school of hard knocks, so I have a basis of comparison. Public school is the bottom of the barrel. Outside of math, very little of what I was taught in public school was of any practical use. In fact, a lot of it didn't even make sense (I'm thinking Social Studies here.) And of all the things I really needed to know to succeed in life, none of it, outside of some math and basic reading, was taught in the public schools.

I guess I could've taken shop, but somehow I don't think it would have taught me how to get rich.

And it's always been this way. Back in 1931, when that movie The Public Enemy came out, Cagney's character's brother went to school like a good boy. "He's learning how to be poor" said Cagney. And he was right.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Interesting. But what's your alternative? (4.00 / 2) (#21)
by Another Scott on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:44:46 AM EST

It's easy to bash the public schools. They do have problems.

But public education has many benefits when done properly - a common discussion of history, our form of government, rules of discourse, social interactions, etc.

Briefly, what do you think should be done to remedy the situation?

Cheers,
Scott.

[ Parent ]
Solutions? (3.00 / 1) (#23)
by slaytanic killer on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 12:01:42 PM EST

I don't have much time now, but here is the outline of a small solution, and a general thoughtline of solving such problems.

Assumption: the main problem with public schools is low-quality teachers. There often is some very good teacher in any given school, but there's not enough of her to go around. In other words, she does not scale for poor schools who get such teachers by luck. (And very often, bad teachers are worse than none at all.)

An answer may lie in some form of decentralized teaching. Using the net and other methods for very centralized teaching have not yet proven to be very good. And experts/good teachers in diverse subjects do not tend to just band together all the time, for the sake of young children. Since it is unfeasible to bring poor children to these diverse teachers, bringing the teachers to them seems an interesting possibility. Using whatever technology which could accomplish this.

This is the hard road; such an undertaking will take time, and not only because of its uncoordinated nature. There will also need to be systems where children can interact with each other and adults. However, on deeper reflection this is not so undoable. My personal educational levels have risen sharply with the internet. Not in any one subject, but in the web of larger knowledge, as well as the ability to reference anything in particular should I need. And I am able to socialize a lot more by meeting more people and travelling to each other. So while I don't have the time ATM to defend against the easy charge of "technology is naively overrated for education," I think that previous attempts have been naive, and not the idea of using tech to meet these ends.

[ Parent ]
Bad Assumption: It's not enough teachers, period. (4.00 / 1) (#72)
by Karmakaze on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 11:27:07 AM EST

Assumption: the main problem with public schools is low-quality teachers. There often is some very good teacher in any given school, but there's not enough of her to go around. In other words, she does not scale for poor schools who get such teachers by luck. (And very often, bad teachers are worse than none at all.)
And on what are you basing this assumption? Have you ever done any teaching yourself? Even any tutoring?

The main problem with public schools is that even the best teacher in the world can't do much with a 50-student classroom. Studies show over and over again that there is one factor that overwhelmingly affects quality of education - student-to-teacher ratio. It doesn't matter how much money your pour into a school, you need teachers, and you need enough teachers.

I used to tutor remedial readind and writing college classes in a program that basically did backfill for the public schools. I was getting the kids who made it to college at all (even in a very generous chalenge program), and the preparation they had been given was sadly insufficient. I simply cannot believe that in twelve years, none of these children ever encountered a competent teacher. It beggars the imagination that as a twenty year old mathematics major I could teach Reading and Writing better than someone who successfully completed an Education degree. What did I have going for me? - a 1:7 (or sometimes even 1:1) classroom ratio.

Children, particularly poor urban children, are being failed en masse by the public school system, but don't assume that every teacher in the country must be terrible at his or her job. I went to one of the best school systems in my state, and watched as the best teachers we had were handicapped by the system. The best teacher I ever had (including my years in college) was forced to leave teaching for the guidance department because of a grand reduction-in-force. Teachers are punished for bringing in extra materials, or for pointing out errors and outdated materials in the government-mandated curriculum.

I wanted once to be a teacher myself. I'd still like to be, actually, if only there was a system that would let me teach instead of babysitting. I gave up the idea once I researched and saw what the public system does to the teachers.


--
Karmakaze
[ Parent ]

Hmm... (none / 0) (#88)
by beergut on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 03:47:04 PM EST

According to the National Association for Education Statistics, the average student/teacher ratio for 1999 was 17.2:1.

I've never seen a public school classroom with more than about 23 students. Period.

Despite the shrinking student/teacher ratio (the number of students-per-teacher, on average, has been declining in the last ten years or so), the public schools produce worse results year by year.

Studies by the NEA, an organization that is active in the cause of teachers, NOT students, do little to persuade me that the ratio of students to teachers is the leading cause of poor performance, especially in light of the fact that that ratio has been decreasing, and so has the quality of public education.

My take on this is: we don't value education enough in this country. We are too top-heavy with administration and bureaucracy, and don't pay enough money to attract decent people to the teaching profession.

There is an old saying that I feel is apropos here:

"Those that can, do. Those that can't, teach."

I favor a return to neighborhood schools, getting rid of all these huge districts. Give the administrators and teachers back the reins. Let them get rid of problem students, so that those who want to learn may do so unimpinged.

Remove the compulsory and mandatory requirement for education. It is rarely followed in the inner cities, for one thing, so it can't be said to help those students. It detracts from learning these kids could be doing in other fields, to boot. A kid who wants to pour concrete may not give the first shit about English literature - why force him to endure it? Especially when he's likely to cause problems for those who do want to learn?

In short, you need competent teachers. A truly competent teacher, with the ability to cull dead weight from her class, will teach more people more thoroughly than ten incompetent boobs who are there simply to babysit a bunch of buffoons, to the detriment of those who care about their own education.

Education is, after all, a personal choice. If someone chooses to be uneducable, why do we insist that he is able to harm the efforts of those who have decided to be educable?

Nonetheless, my children will never have to worry about that. I have made a conscious choice, no matter the cost, to homeschool my children.

Now to find me a wife and start makin' 'em.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

not everywhere (none / 0) (#106)
by Kyrrin on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 09:42:52 PM EST

I went to one of the top-rated public schools in the nation -- we were named in the Top 50 for the past 10 years running. And I was never in a general class that did not have anywhere between 25 and 30 students.

I did have a few classes with 10 or so students per teacher, but they were the concentrated, low-interest subjects such as Russian and Shakespeare. During elementary school, I was often in a classroom with over 40 students -- one year, I didn't even get a desk.

There's merit in the comment that there aren't enough teachers. The school district in the town I grew up in couldn't hire anyone. Not enough money in the budget, and not enough qualified people.


"I'm the screen, the blinding light; I'm the screen, I work at night. I see today with a newsprint fray, my night is colored headache grey, don't wake me with so much..." -- REM
[ Parent ]
There's the problem (3.25 / 4) (#24)
by Woundweavr on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 12:03:08 PM EST

There's the problem. I went to US public school in a mostly white, middle/working class suburb with one third the students attending a vocational high school that was within the building. It didn't work. Nine of ten vocies didn't get any skills from their portion. Although the remaining 1/10 generally were well schooled in their field, a 90% failure rate is unacceptable. Athletes, though our teams stunk, were given free passes whether they wanted it or not. Drama kids ignored the teachers, and were allowed because they were working on their lines and because people were scared of the drama teacher. Nerds and Acadorks (the members of the Academic Decathlon team and generally the math team and ACSL programming team) were given free reign because the material is so rudimentary they don't need to go to class.

Basically, you show up and you pass. They're not gonna fail you, it makes them look bad. Partially so everyone can pass nothing meaty is ever covered. Kids are bored and they don't learn much.

Public Colleges (in my experience and from what I've seen) aren't much better. With the exception of history/civics type classes, classes are too easy. This time is not because they dont want to fail people, but rather the class size. Plus, its 10K+ a year. Private Universities generally give a better education (although not always great still) for 20-30K+ and upwards to 35k+ a year.

So education sucks and/or financially cripples the average family. The problem is thats the only way we know how. Its very easy to complain like I did above, but with no alternative, it comes off pretty useless. Thats why the system remains. Even with an idea, the system is so entrenched the benefits would have to be immediate and obvious or it would take decades or centuries to put into place, at which time it'd most likely be obselete.

[ Parent ]

vo tech (none / 0) (#25)
by alprazolam on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 12:16:57 PM EST

Why do you classify the vocational program as such a complete failure? If it could be improved significantly, do you think public school would have to be considered a success? How would you improve it?

[ Parent ]
Depends on what you count as "success" (3.75 / 4) (#33)
by marlowe on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:13:19 PM EST

...which in turn depends on the basis of comparison.

Better a grease monkey than a hobo. But to my mind, that's just comparing different degrees of failure. Nobody ever got rich working in a gas station.

I'm making a decent living as an embedded systems developer. But that's not the kind of thing they teach in shop class.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
'success' (4.25 / 4) (#41)
by alprazolam on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:55:39 PM EST

an honest living above the poverty level is what i was thinking. vo tech isn't there for people to get rich, its there so people can earn a living, therefore not being poor.

[ Parent ]
You are an elitist moron (2.80 / 5) (#68)
by Eric Jonson on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 09:15:29 AM EST

Better a grease monkey than a hobo. But to my mind, that's just comparing different degrees of failure. Nobody ever got rich working in a gas station.

Just listen to yourself you fool. And think about just how much of a prick you sound like. You're saying that anyone not earning as much as you do is some kind of failure, and it sounds like the worst kind of arrogance and disdain for people who perhaps don't have your advantages.

By your rules you're a failure compared to me. But according to my rules, you're a failure for your complete lack of compassion for those who don't do as well as you.

[ Parent ]

Failure (3.00 / 2) (#78)
by Woundweavr on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 12:42:52 PM EST

It is not a complete failure, but it is a 90% failure which is close enough. The Voc is supposed to give its students some kind of trade, or at least the basis of a trade, that'll lead to a career. They could become plumbers, metal workers, carpenters, plumbers, chef/cooks, etc. However, 90% do not. Most hang around until they graduate. Something like 2/3 change what they are doing every year to avoid work. They graduate, and generally don't do anything until their parents force them to get a job (convenience store, McD type stuff) or kick them out.

I can think of a few people for whom it worked. One is getting more training as a chef. One is working repairing ACs and refridges. Two are carpenters for their uncle's company. One is a plumber. But for each of these I can think of 10 or 12 people who gained no real skills other than avoiding work in HS/VTHS. Thus the Voc fails.

[ Parent ]

Refridges? (none / 0) (#82)
by tzanger on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 02:50:50 PM EST

One is working repairing ACs and refridges.

I've never heard the word refridgerator shortened that way... it sounds like a device to re-cool things which were warmed up... like leftovers that become leftovers^2. :-)



[ Parent ]
Heh heh maybe regional slang (none / 0) (#170)
by Woundweavr on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 12:56:35 PM EST

Im from Boston and we call refridgerators(i use refridge so often im not sure thats spelled right) refridges or fridges interchangeably. Fridge is more common but refridge is close and understood. ::shrug::

[ Parent ]
Alternatives (4.50 / 2) (#35)
by marlowe on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:15:05 PM EST

1. Private school (vouchers! vouchers! vouchers!)
2. Home schooling
3. For inner city neighborhoods, even a Catholic school would be an improvement.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Lots of problems with the alternatives too. (5.00 / 3) (#47)
by Another Scott on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 02:47:42 PM EST

As you know. :-)

1. Nobody (AFAIK) is talking about vouchers large enough to pay for private tuition at a typical school. What happens to those who still can't afford private tuition even with vouchers? (It's easy to make the argument that the majority of those who can already afford private school tuition would gain the greatest benefit from vouchers.) Where will the funding for vouchers come from? Wouldn't the public schools end up even worse off if only the poor attended them?

2. There aren't enough school rooms to handle a mass exodus of students from the public schools. There's not enough money for private schools to purchase public school buildings.

3. Home schooling can be an excellent choice for those who choose to have a parent stay home. That's not an option for many (including one-parent families).

4. Catholic schools aren't free in most places. They also have limitations on the numbers of students they can take. It's easier to have a high-quality institution when you can be selective in who you admit due to facility limitations, etc.

I think all of the alternatives you list have some merit (and I think choice within a public school district has a lot of merit too), but they won't help the majority of students who attend public schools. Since maybe only a few tens of percent (to pull a number out of the air) of the students could use those options, unless those alternatives are coupled with major changes in public school funding (e.g. state-wide per student budget consideration so that rich and poor areas have more equitable funding) and administration (e.g. giving principals more power over how their schools are run, teacher ratings, and disciplinary issues) I don't think you'll be doing more than making changes at the margins.

Cheers,
Scott.

[ Parent ]
New Zealand's solution (4.66 / 3) (#75)
by dennis on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 12:26:48 PM EST

New Zealand had crappy public schools. Here's how they fixed it:

1) They allowed parents to send their kids to whatever public school they wanted.

2) They funded the public schools with a fixed amount of money for each student who registered.

3) They gave parents total control over the schools they sent their kids to. No national controls at all.

It took about ten years to all shake out, but now they have great schools. Take note, this is not a voucher system, it's still free public schools for everyone.

And personally, I'm willing to rely on our common culture to generate the "common discussion," rather than letting bureaucrats in Washington decide what the common discussion should be. It doesn't take central control to generate a common culture.

[ Parent ]

Great Idea, but... (none / 0) (#143)
by Robogop on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 07:55:39 PM EST

Great Idea, but it would never work in the US. Mainly because the teachers who are supposed to have the students best interests in mind, all are forced to belong to unions who have absolutely no interest in change. Even change for the better. Unless we can abolish the NEA, American schools will continue to have money thrown at them without any of the needed changes being made.

[ Parent ]
It's not that it wouldn't work... (none / 0) (#165)
by dennis on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 04:14:28 PM EST

It's not that the solution wouldn't work if implemented, but that, as you say, our political system is so calcified that real change is extremely difficult. However, I'm not so willing to take a defeatist attitude, it's still one-man one-vote and parents outnumber teachers by a large margin. If enough are convinced that this is a good solution, it will happen.

[ Parent ]
Is this a joke? (4.12 / 8) (#26)
by DesiredUsername on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 12:23:06 PM EST

"And of all the things I really needed to know to succeed in life, none of it, outside of some math and basic reading, was taught in the public schools."

How about advanced reading? Typing? Shop? For those that live in multi-lingual areas, Spanish/French/German are good. Depending on your age, you may have learned basic (and even advanced) computer skills. Science comes in handy for some things (and the scientific method is indispensible in my everyday life--as a non-scientist). How about English class (you know, where you learned how to write in sentences, as in the above)?

But that's all neither here nor there. Are you trying to claim that even things like history and geography are *useless*? As in having zero value, even for someone who works on an assembly line? These subjects make you a better person and provide you with a cultural background. That sounds touchy-feely until you think about this: If I was interviewing two people who were identical in all ways, except that one let it accidentally drop that he didn't know the capital of the US (as a USian) I'd hire the other person. Knowledge of basic facts indicates an ability and willingness to learn.

But lets say you DO think that it really is only math and basic reading that does any good. 1) The rest is all free, so why not learn it too? 2) There are plenty of successful people in the US that attended only public school--if it wasn't school that taught them what they know, what was it? And why can't "poor people" get the same stuff?

--
"It's like these people think that being really, really sad is a suitable substitute for being right." Tycho Brahe


[ Parent ]
What on earth are you blathering about? (4.00 / 6) (#36)
by marlowe on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:19:24 PM EST

Public schools do a simply awful job of teaching history and civics, and are nothing special at geography, English, or any other language.

Anyway, I learned to read and write in a private kindergarten. Then I got stuck in a public school system where I got to wait three years for my classmates to catch up. That's at least three years worth of school time wasted utterly. And no, they didn't teach social skills there, unless the law of the jungle counts as a social skill.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
The topic (2.25 / 4) (#37)
by DesiredUsername on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:28:49 PM EST

The topic under discussion is not "are US public schools the best they could be" or even "are US public schools as good as private/foreign schools". The topic is "are poor people lacking an opportunity to learn how to save money and get a job". My answer is: all that and more can be learned at your local school (or library). You may not become President based on that material (although you may...)--but you will be able to at least earn enough to live.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Even that much isn't true. (3.00 / 5) (#39)
by marlowe on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:42:47 PM EST

I've known plenty of high school graduates on welfare.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
So? (3.00 / 2) (#43)
by DesiredUsername on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 02:15:59 PM EST

"I've known plenty of high school graduates on welfare."

Did *everybody* from that school end up on welfare? If not, how do you explain the fact that some people got useful educations but your friends didn't? Did they have illnesses (mental or physical) or disabilities (reading, learning, etc)?

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Well, I got a useful education. (3.33 / 3) (#44)
by marlowe on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 02:21:50 PM EST

I just didn't get it in the public school. I was saved in large part by a few years in private schools. Others were less fortunate.

All of which only goes to prove my point.


-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
And by the way... (4.20 / 5) (#45)
by marlowe on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 02:25:50 PM EST

why on earth are you so desperate to defend the public school system that you're willing to use this sleazy "they must have been retards or something" ad hominem against the washouts? What's your interest?

And for the record, the people I was talking about were average. Depressingly average.


-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
"desperate to defend"? (3.80 / 5) (#46)
by DesiredUsername on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 02:41:44 PM EST

I'm not "desperate to defend the public school system". I'm just trying to figure out why you think it's so bad. Millions of people graduate every year and lead happy successful lives. The rest, a minority, do not. Therefore the school system must be adequate. I'll be the first to say that it isn't great--we could be turning out MUCH better educated students. But I just don't see how we can lay the blame for the "perpetually poor" at the feet of the schools.

And my question is serious, not sleazy. If they had legitimate problems in school, I have no problem giving them money to overcome their lack of education. But if their lack of education is due to partying and lack of concentration...well, you made the bed...

Someone might respond: not everyone on welfare is there because of lack of education. That's true. But any able-bodied, average-IQ human being can work an assembly line, dig a ditch or wash dishes and save the resulting money. And public school, whatever it's faults, *does* adequately education people for these tasks.

I'm not trying to say that anyone who is on public assistance is a lazy, good-for-nothing. I'd be foolish to, since I got unemployment checks for a while. But I scrimped and saved (hint: no Doritos or Breyers) to make the money go as far as I could, actually went to 3 interviews/week (the requirement) and got a job within a month.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Well prepared for menial labor. Oh joy. (3.66 / 6) (#50)
by marlowe on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 04:27:45 PM EST

People can dig ditches or wash dishes just fine without a high school education, so where's the value-added?

Hey, maybe we should have advanced classes for child prodigies. Teach them to dig bigger and better ditches than the rest. With straighter sides. No, let's try to make them well-rounded. Throw in some geology courses, so they'll know exactly what it is they're shovelling. "A serviceable full-bodied glacial moraine with accents of loam, a bit stony, but one must admire its presumption."


-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Ditch digging (5.00 / 4) (#70)
by YellowBook on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 10:06:06 AM EST

Hey, maybe we should have advanced classes for child prodigies. Teach them to dig bigger and better ditches than the rest. With straighter sides. No, let's try to make them well-rounded. Throw in some geology courses, so they'll know exactly what it is they're shovelling.

The funny thing is, you've just described a Ph.D. program in archaeology. You want a straight-sided, smooth-floored ditch, just go knocking on the door at the local university's anthropology department.



[ Parent ]
Public, private, whatever (5.00 / 2) (#69)
by flieghund on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 10:00:57 AM EST

Hey, I know several private school graduates who are on welfare (or at least extreme poverty). One guy in particular was a relatively close friend from childhood. He came from a well-to-do family (not "rich," but definitely upper-middle-class), showed great potential in both sports and academics (swimming, straight-A's), could have done just about anything with his life. "Anything" in this case ended up being: dropping out of college, getting strung-out on drugs (and I don't mean in the casual-usuer sort of way), and having a child with a woman he barely knows and for which he has no way of adequately providing. The last I heard, he spends his days panhandling for change in the decaying downtown core of our home town.

That's just one example. My point is this: While your education may play a role in your future success, that success ultimately rests on the decisions you make about your future.



Using a Macintosh is like picking your nose: everyone likes to do it, but no one will admit to it.
[ Parent ]
quotes (4.00 / 1) (#29)
by lokmant on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 12:50:43 PM EST

if we are into quotes anyway how about

"people that pity themselves are the scum of the earth" (Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami)

--
"fashionably sensitive, but too cool to care" (jewel)
[ Parent ]

Question (no sarcasm) (4.00 / 1) (#48)
by mjs on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 03:34:59 PM EST

Assuming that your household has two incomes, how would it change if one of those two were taken ill and unable to work ever again? Remember to include the effects of increased medical spending. Thank you!

[ Parent ]
Assumption is false (3.00 / 1) (#55)
by DesiredUsername on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 07:11:57 PM EST

My household has one income and has for at least the last 3 years.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
One essential skill (4.66 / 3) (#67)
by strumco on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 08:30:34 AM EST

...is hope. If a child does not believe that success is possible, success is impossible. If the child's father is in a dead-end job (or no job), if all his/her friends are at the bottom of the heap, if the richest people he knows are pimps and drug dealers - then those are his/her prospects.

But, what is success? For many, a place to live and food on the table would be wonderful - but that isn't the definition of success that they see all around them, in advertising, on TV, in movies. There, nobody is anything unless they've got an huge apartment, car, good clothes, plenty of food, foreign holidays (and they're all good looking too. The bastards.)

You (DesiredUsername) are to be congratulated - but you're also lucky. I can pretty much guarantee that you entered the school system with some degree of literacy, from a background of achievement. You knew you could do it. Many people know they can't.

And, once that person leaves school as a failure, the likelihood is that they'll remain a failure - for some of the reasons given in the original article.

The myth that "anyone can make it big" is a myth. Even in the US, the best way to make a small fortune is to start with a large one. Most business startups aren't funded out of saved (legit) earnings. They're funded by soft loans from relatives, or hard loans guaranteed by relatives. Those few who genuinely are "self-made men" are rare and special.

DC
http://www.strum.co.uk
[ Parent ]

math class (none / 0) (#160)
by anonymous cowerd on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 10:08:52 AM EST

Math class saved my ass. It so happens I was pretty good at it, plus I had the vanishingly rare faculty of actually being able to pay attention to what the teacher was saying in high school classes. So I picked up the rudiments of how to work with logarithms (you youths don't know logarithms, I'll bet you've never even seen a Peters's eight-place log-trig book, well let me tell you...), plane geometry, trigonometry, a little bit of calculus. Then when I finally managed to walk backwards into an entry-level land surveying position I was competitively equipped to pull myself right up the job ladder, which I did with great speed. Please note, however, that my success relied upon the fact that practically none of my job market competitors had any math at all. In other words, if math education in the public schools were generally more effective, I myself might have been less fortunate.

But as the economy was kind of fucked for the first few years after I got out of high school, and because I was so ignorant of how one goes about finding that better-than-dead-end job opportunity, and so confused and demoralized by my personal failure, it took half a decade before I was able to pull myself out of that minimum-wage mire. Hell, there was a good two years when I'd have been deliriously glad to score a minimum-wage job! But there weren't any openings for those either. I was pretty damn skinny at the end of those two years, I'll tell you. The question I've got for you is, what do you do while waiting for your lucky break? If the economy is fucked enough you might have to wait years; you have to eat every day.

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

the Earth's blue as an orange
[ Parent ]

Schools.... (none / 0) (#203)
by CyberQuog on Thu May 10, 2001 at 06:10:54 PM EST

Public training is available for free until age 18. It's called "school". Math class (and probably home economics) will teach you how to save. Shop class (and home ec and probably some others) will give you some qualifications. Nearly all poor adults were once children and teenagers in school, they didn't just spring into being on the street corners.

Your dead wrong here. Maybe your school had shop classes, home ec, decent math courses, etc. but most schools in truely bad neighborhoods have no such classes. I'm talking about harlem, paterson, south central, and a lot of other areas. These schools don't have textbooks, these schools don't have any true teachers, these schools don't even have heat. They have no money for such nice things as shop class and home ec. The only education these kids will ever get is out on the street, and once your there either dealing drugs or stealing for a living, theres no going back.


-...-
[ Parent ]
Tax the Poor (3.12 / 8) (#12)
by Bad Harmony on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:48:00 AM EST

Since US government policy is to tax bad things and subsidize good things, we should tax the poor. We already tax the mathematically challenged with state sponsored lotteries.

On a more serious note, how do you get people to change their behavior when the state softens the consequences of that behavior? Attitudes towards marriage, sex and having children were different when there were serious consequences to making poor decisions. I'm not saying that those were the "good old days", just that attitudes have changed with the advent of the welfare state.

5440' or Fight!

Why? (4.00 / 1) (#80)
by Elendale on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 02:06:18 PM EST

Wait a second. Now, i know that this place is pretty darn liberal, but wait just a goddamn second. Why should we tax those who can't pay to subsidize those who can? Are you advocating a legalized slaver? What? What's the point of asking those who have nothing while ignoring those who have something. Don't get me wrong, i realize that higher tax brackets often get more than half their income taken by the government: but they can afford it. Besides that, why take from those who have nothing? Is there some logic to this line of thought? Yeah. Steal from the poor, give to the rich. Brilliant idea.

-Elendale
---

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


[ Parent ]
YHBT. :) (5.00 / 1) (#83)
by beergut on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 02:56:17 PM EST

I think that was his point.

There is very little point to any taxation, except to line some politician's nest. Confiscatory taxation, progressively aimed at the "rich", does naught to help anyone, and lots to hurt everyone.

You might get miffed because that rich guy can buy a 120' yacht, but you're likely to not be so angry if you work at the yard that builds the yacht. If that rich guy wasn't rich, he couldn't afford to buy that yacht, meaning you wouldn't be able to participate in building it, meaning the yacht builder would have no need for your labor, meaning you would not work there. For an example of that, look at what happened to the U.S. yacht industry when a luxury tax was slapped on them. It nearly ceased to exist. All those people formerly honestly employed building yachts for those who, despite crushing taxation, were able to afford them were summarily put out of work. Just so some liberal politician can be said to have "really soaked it to the rich." Your tax dollars at work -- for you?

Also, "liberal" is a loaded word. "Liberal", in the U.S., would be pretty much diametrically opposite the view taken by the poster you replied to. Liberals in the U.S. want to "help" the poor by confiscating money from a) the rich, b) the middle class, and c) the poor. They then take their cut and do with it what they will (study cow farts, for example), and distribute the rest back to a) corporations, b) foreign governments, and c) the poor, who would be better off if they didn't pay the tax to begin with.

"Liberal" may retain its more classical meaning in other places, but in the U.S., it generally means "liberal application of government."

The argument that people in higher tax brackets "can afford it" is specious. What do rich people do that makes them deserving of heavier punishment?

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

*sigh* (3.33 / 3) (#86)
by Elendale on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 03:17:47 PM EST

You might get miffed because that rich guy can buy a 120' yacht, but you're likely to not be so angry if you work at the yard that builds the yacht. If that rich guy wasn't rich, he couldn't afford to buy that yacht, meaning you wouldn't be able to participate in building it, meaning the yacht builder would have no need for your labor, meaning you would not work there.

I'm not miffed because some rich guy can buy a yacht. I'm miffed because some rich guy think he deserves to buy a yacht. Its just an extension of the old "might makes right" philosophy.

-Elendale
---

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


[ Parent ]
And why... (3.00 / 2) (#90)
by beergut on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 04:03:28 PM EST

... would someone who has worked hard enough to have amassed enough money to buy a yacht, not then have the "right" to do so, or not "deserve" to do so?

I'd like to understand your point of view here, because it is seemingly utterly foreign to me.

I've lived in trailer parks, seen my shoes floating down the river after being flooded out of my home (yet another shitty little trailer), have accepted charity, and have seen things my peers have not.

Yet, I never was of the opinion that someone should not be able to buy a yacht if he so desired, and if he had the money to do so.

Curious...

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

I'm not saying you can't have a yacht (4.00 / 1) (#93)
by Elendale on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 05:22:24 PM EST

If you earn the money, then go ahead: buy a yacht. But you're confusing the ability to make purchases with money with the right to own a yacht. No one has the right to own a yacht. This doesn't mean that i'm going to a trip to the local harbor with explosives tonight, but when someone thinks that having money gives them the rights over those who don't have money: then i'm a bit worried.

-Elendale
---

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


[ Parent ]
yacht (none / 0) (#96)
by Shren on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 05:34:00 PM EST

It doesn't give them rights over others. It gives them something to offer. "I have a big stack of money. Give me that yacht." "Ok."

[ Parent ]
Right (none / 0) (#100)
by Elendale on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 07:06:25 PM EST

And if they don't want to give it to you for that stack of money, too bad. You'll live. Now if they did the same thing with food, that would be a problem.

-Elendale
---

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


[ Parent ]
*twitch* (none / 0) (#104)
by Shren on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 09:02:32 PM EST

And if they don't want to give it to you for that stack of money, too bad. You'll live.

Right. Lots of other people sell yachts. Or I'm always free to make a better offer.

Now if they did the same thing with food, that would be a problem.

No, they'd just get stuck with a big pile of food while I go and buy some elsewhere.

[ Parent ]

Well... (none / 0) (#105)
by Elendale on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 09:28:39 PM EST

If one person/company did this you wouldn't even care. If they ALL did this you might start caring.

-Elendale
---

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


[ Parent ]
argh (none / 0) (#171)
by Shren on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 05:29:37 PM EST

If one person/company did this you wouldn't even care. If they ALL did this you might start caring.

No, I'd laugh and watch them starve, in that they either have a huge pile of yachts and no food, or a huge pile of food and no shelter or transportation or refrigeration.

You seem to be implying that a group of people can take vengance on another group of people by organizing an industry-wide strike. Should such a preposterous thing come to pass, all that will happen is that I'll end up learning to grow potatoes, while said-striking-industry ends up having no money to buy anything else. Your premise is both immoral and absurd, in my opinion.

[ Parent ]

Affording it means nothing (3.00 / 1) (#85)
by tzanger on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 03:13:42 PM EST

Don't get me wrong, i realize that higher tax brackets often get more than half their income taken by the government: but they can afford it.

What I think you fail to realize is that if you're in the lower end of the upper tax bracket that 50%+ tax often puts you BELOW the net income of people in lower tax brackets. Afford it my ass.



[ Parent ]
Yeah (4.00 / 1) (#95)
by Elendale on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 05:26:05 PM EST

I know exactly how that goes, actually. It is sometimes possible to donate enough money to knock yourself into a lower tax bracket though. Still, i'm guessing you don't have it as bad as a lot of people in lower tax brackets.

-Elendale
---

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


[ Parent ]
Tax brackets etc. (5.00 / 1) (#101)
by phliar on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 08:25:18 PM EST

tzanger writes:
What I think you fail to realize is that if you're in the lower end of the upper tax bracket that 50%+ tax often puts you BELOW the net income of people in lower tax brackets.
I don't think you realise how tax brackets work. If you're in a 50% tax bracket, that doesn't mean that you're paying half of your income in taxes; 50% is the marginal rate dT/dI (if you're familiar with calculus, or slopes of lines). If you make one more dollar, 50¢ of that will go to taxes. In other words, if your income is x, the amount of taxes you're paying is something like:

if x < 20000 then
   0
else if x < 30000 then
   (x-20000) * 0.1
else if x < 50000 then
   (x-20000) * 0.1 + (x-30000) * 0.1
else if x < 80000 then
   (x-20000) * 0.1 + (x-30000) * 0.1 + (x-50000) * 0.2
else if x < 100000 then
   (x-20000) * 0.1 + (x-30000) * 0.05 + (x-50000) * 0.1 +
      (x-80000) * 0.1
else
   (x-20000) * 0.1 + (x-30000) * 0.05 + (x-50000) * 0.1 +
    (x-80000) * 0.1 + (x-100000) * 0.15

So if I'm making $120,000 I'm in the 50% tax bracket i.e. if my income increases by y my taxes will increase by y/2. But it is not the case that I'm paying $60,000 in taxes; furthermore, this function is continuous and monotone increasing, i.e. if person A makes more money before taxes than person B, then even after taxes person A will have more money than person B.

The reality of the situation is that the person who makes more money often pays less taxes than the person who makes less. This is because:

  • this formula is applied after you've subtracted all your deductions from your income
  • most deductions (tax shelters) are only available to the super- or ultra-rich.
An example: when I was in graduate school, one year I made around $20,000 and I paid about $3,500 of that in taxes (federal, state, social security etc.). My uncle, a successful MD in private practice with a mansion in the swanky suburbs paid about $9,000 that year.

Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

you don't understand marginal tax rates (none / 0) (#162)
by anonymous cowerd on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 11:38:26 AM EST

You evidently don't understand tax brackets. (Also it's worth noting that no tax bracket in the U.S.A. pays as high as 50% of their income in Federal taxes.) This is a common and understandable error, particularly in the working class, where you yourself never really need to consider any tax bracket but the lowest one; I see it all the time. Let me explain with a simplified example. (I'm leaving off various deductions and differential tax rates for capital gains as compared with ordinary income, to simplify the arithmetic; here's a link to some tax rate tables, if you're interested.)

Suppose you're told that the income tax rate is 15% up to $65,500 per year, and 28% above $65,500 a year. On the face of it, the way we usually interpret the phrase "tax rate", you'd expect that a fellow earning $65,000 would pay 15% of it, or $9,750, leaving him with $55,250 after taxes, while a guy earning $70,000 would pay a painful 28% of that, for a tax bill of $19,600, leaving him $50,400, less than the other guy whose gross income is $5,000 less. That seems to be what you said.

But that's not how your tax bill is really calculated. The way it's computed is marginally. The calculation works like this: the total income is broken up into parts, and each part is taxed separately. Let's look at that guy with the $70,000 income again. On the first $65,500 of his income, he pays the 15% rate, for a subtotal of $9,825. Then for the remaining $4,500 above $65,500, he pays at the 28% rate, for a subtotal of $1,260. Add them together and you get a total tax bill of $11,085. Subtract $11,085 from $70,000, you get the $70,000-a-year man has a net income of $58,915, as compared with the $65,500-a-year man's net $55,250. The way this scheme works, there is no point at which one is penalized for an increment in his income.

Of course, if you're talking about an income of, say, a million dollars a year, practically all of that income falls in the high-rate brackets. There you have to consider capital gains taxes. If you are, say, a particularly energetic salesman, and you manage to bring in a half-million dollars of income this year, your overall income will be sectioned into five brackets, each taxed at different rates - 15%, 28%, 31%, 36% and 39.6%. That's gotta hurt! though the $350,000 you'll have left over can still buy a lot of consolation. But few of the very-wealthy derive most of their income from straight wages. Instead, generally, they get the greatest part of their income from returns on investments.

Let's imagine a second case, then. Suppose that I am the son of a millionaire and the grandson of two millionaires, and I have gotten my working capital basically by being born into the right family. Suppose I invested two million dollars in shares of a Dow Jones index fund in 1992; then I put my feet up on my desk and took a nap; when I woke up, I went on vacation for several years. Here it is, 2001, and I'm "tanned, rested and ready." In 1992 the Dow was at about 3000; today it is in excess of 10000. So I have better than tripled my money - I'm ahead by in excess of four million dollars, or about a half-million per year, same as our hypothetical energetic salesman - at virtually no risk and practically an absolute-zero degree of effort on my part. Now, how much have I paid thus far this decade in taxes? The answer: not a red cent! See, I haven't realized the gains in those index fund certificates. Sure, on paper I am ahead by $4m; but I haven't really gotten any real money out of my shares, and it's at least theoretically possible that the market might collapse tomorrow, leaving me with a loss.

Now imagine that I want to buy something, so I decide to cash in those shares all at once; I want to build a new wing onto the family mansion, or endow a chair at the University of which I am alumnus, or I want to marry Anna Nicole Smith; whatever. When I sell my shares and realize the decade's profit the IRS recognises that I have made a taxable profit of four million dollars; the time has come for me to pay income tax on that. Here's the kicker; the kind of income I have made is a special one, different from the paychecks you and I get. It's called "capital gains," and as the guys who make most of their income by "capital gains" write most of the Federal laws, it is taxed at a specially low rate, as low as 18% as compared with the tippy-top Federal rate of 39.6%.

So if you really put your back into advancing your career, you work eighty hours a week for income and you are especially lucky and successful, you will end up paying a much higher tax rate than your relaxed neighbor who owns the house down the street, but he's never there 'cause he's always off on vacation somewhere.

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

the Earth's blue as an orange
[ Parent ]

I did used to buy apples from a guy on the corner (3.66 / 6) (#18)
by error 404 on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:15:19 AM EST

He'd pack plastic bags with a small selection of fruit, suitable for a day's munching. Usualy an apple, and orange, and one other fruit that varied - a peach, plum, banana, whatever.

He was always well dressed - probably the best dressed person I'd see all day, because I work in a software company. His spot was an island in traffic, and he sold to people waiting for the light to change. Very sharp, energetic guy. Moved like the UBS guy on Mad TV. Always seemed to know when I wanted fruit and when I didn't.

No idea what licenses he had to get, or whether he had cop problems. Also no idea how much money he made, or whether there was an organization involved. The neighborhood was beyond dodgy. My teenage son gets a lot of respect in the new place in the 'burbs for having survived 'the ghetto'. The teenager mythology is a little sad: one of his friends thought going there was dangerous enough to be a viable form of suicide.

No point to this comment, really. But you asked a hypothetical and I had actual experience to relate.


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

Outdoor sales (3.00 / 1) (#74)
by winthrop on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 11:47:44 AM EST

Where I live, there's a guy who will sell you a copy of Spare Change* if you give him $1 or a small supply of marijuana if you give him $20. I imagine the second part of his business is the more profitable. Controlled substances seem to be a particularly profitable line of products in the outdoor sales space, so I wouldn't discount the possibility that a businessman as in touch with the needs of his customers as you describe was a player in this market.

*Spare Change is a newspaper written for the express purpose of being sold at a markup by homeless people.

[ Parent ]

No contribution too small (none / 0) (#123)
by leonbrooks on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 01:50:21 PM EST

I [...] used to buy apples from a guy on the corner

Glad to know that the genre survives, glad to know that someone in the city is flogging genuine health food. (-:

No point to this comment, really. But you asked a hypothetical and I had actual experience to relate.

Thanks; every bit of context, experience and ambience helps...
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Corruption and street sales (none / 0) (#146)
by pavlos on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 09:03:58 PM EST

I am from Greece, though I live elsewhere and only travel to Greece a few times a year. Over the past 10 years there has been a huge increase in the number of poor people selling various (quite legitimate) petty things to car drivers at traffic lights.

Almost all of them are children, or poor immigrants, or both. From time to time, someone takes pity on such a child and looks into their situation, or tries to reunite them with family. It then turns out that the child is an "employee" of some racketeer who collects their modest proceeds and pays them a pittance.

The point of this is not to say anything about the social efficacy of buying from street vendors, but to point out the following: If the poor have no power (no legal status, no healthcare, no income support) then someone with power can and often will abuse their efforts to make an income. You would think child street vendors would not be lucrative enough to abuse. Well, it seems not.

Pavlos

[ Parent ]

Corruption, politics, or cult possible (none / 0) (#174)
by error 404 on Tue May 01, 2001 at 10:58:11 AM EST

I would not have been surprised hed I learned that the guy was connected to some organization I would not choose to support. I vaguely suspected that he might be connected to a black seperatist movement that was attempting to "purify" the area of people like me.

I bought from him anyway. I am a capitalist: he was selling something I wanted at an acceptable price. I wasn't trying to support a cause. If I had more than a vague suspicion that he was part of the "black KKK", I might have boycotted.

I do not buy magazine subscriptions from young people selling door-to-door. There was a bad crash a couple of years ago that threw some light on that particular business.


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

Thoughts from the peanut gallery (4.00 / 15) (#20)
by jd on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:23:26 AM EST

Phew! A poster with a sense of social responsibility!

Seriously, this is what it comes down to. There will always be a rich/poor divide. There will always be people with skills that are in demand, those with skills not in demand, and those with no skills at all.

There are a range of solutions to this problem. First, education is WAY too expensive. The supposedly-free "State" education is so badly-run and so hopelessly mired in corruption, violence, underfunding, apathy and depression (and that's just the teachers!) that it desperately needs replacing.

Universities are even worse. They're funded, alright, by massive grants from corporations, the student fees, and any other money they can get hold of. The students then end up being taxed TREE TIMES for their education. Once in the fees, once in the interest on the loans to PAY those fees, and once to the Government, as a result of the (in theory) higher-paying job they get from having the education.

I don't know about you, but IMHO, if you buy something, you should only have to buy it once. More than that, and you're feather-lining some cozy nest of an accountant who's figured out how to rob you blind AND leave you grateful.

There is a simple way to resolve this. Create a HUGE, high-interest investment account. Have Universities dip into their share of the interest ONLY, and use that to negate all student fees.

The same applies to schools up to University. If they get a sustainable, guaranteed, workable level of income, they're going to do a lot better. No, I'm not talking about whether they have enough chairs, or enough books. You can share books, and I'm sure you can stagger classes if chairs are that short in supply. Those are ALL solvable without effort.

No, I'm talking about staff/pupil ratios. The "ideal" is in the 1:10 - 1:15 range. NOT 1:40. Too many kids, for too few staff, and you have a recipe for disaster.

I'm also talking about library resources. Schools SHOULD have their own comprehensive libraries, covering as many subjects as they've room for, from kindergarden through to 1st year University texts.

Then there's building resources. School buildings should be structurally sound, structurally intact, with adequate air-conditioning & heating, sane lighting (most modern lighting can trigger anything from migranes to epilepsy), easy-to-reach exits, and space.

There are all the other ingredients, vital to a good education, even though they don't appear to be directly involved -- nutritionally-sound (AND EDIBLE!) food, SECURE storage lockers for each kid, "safe rooms" (where a kid can go, and know that they cannot be attacked or bullied) with enough exits that bullies can't just hover by the door in the knowledge you've got to come out for class, councellors who have SOME idea of psychology (sorry, but 50%+ of kids do NOT have ADHD - to diagnose, approve or even ALLOW such a diagnosis is medical incompetence at best and more likely severe malpractice that endangers lives), and teachers who have an understanding of teaching beyond a "if you shout loud enough, and scare them enough, some might listen enough" approach.

Last, for the education side, examinations are a test of one's knowledge. They are NOT some game you play, to get on the high-score table. But that is EXACTLY how examinations are treated! When was the last time ANY student studied the subject in the knowledge that they'd pass if they did? No. They study exam technique, memorization methods, and the pathetic excuse that exam boards call a syllabus. Some might even grab the last 3-4 years papers, and look for unimaginative examiners.

On the cultural side, welfare is the single-most important RE-invention there has ever been. (RE? Yes. It was invented by the Celts, who had a novel approach to the scheme. If a tribal leader didn't ensure zero homelessness and zero skilllessness, he was promptly awarded with a slow and painful execution.)

A sick population, a homeless population, an uneducated population, an abusive population CANNOT be as productive as one with all of those properties. Ergo, ensure it. Otherwise, EVERYONE looses. How? Same as above. Invest. The more you invest, and the less you touch the core resources, the more resources you have to use.

Bad public schools (3.00 / 1) (#30)
by DesiredUsername on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 12:58:42 PM EST

"The supposedly-free "State" education is so badly-run and so hopelessly mired in corruption, violence, underfunding, apathy and depression (and that's just the teachers!) that it desperately needs replacing."

That last time I attended a public school was in 1991. Unless all these problems sprang out of whole cloth some time in the last 10 years, then you are just plain wrong. What with moving around a few times, I attended 3 different public schools from 7th grade to 12th grade. The first one was adequate. The second one was good. The third was excellent. Each school had excellent teachers and only one had a teacher I would call "poor".

Now, I would not be at all surprised if *some schools* had all the problems you cite. But since not ALL schools (and, I would bet, not even MOST schools--counting each school equally and not weighted by number of students) have this problem I think we can lay the blame somewhere else. Since the "bad schools" I always hear reported on are from urban areas, my guess is the problem is two-fold: 1) Overcrowding. 2) Racism (that is, funding the "white schools" better than the "black schools"). Neither of these problems requires the system to be replaced.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Observations from the heartland (4.00 / 2) (#51)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 04:28:12 PM EST

Here in Ohio, we have two types (in general) of public schools that turn out uneducated graduates.
  1. School districts (mostly rural) that are among the worst funded in the country.
  2. School districts (mostly urban) that are among the best funded in the country.
We also have a large number of public schools that turn out very well educated graduates and a large number of public schools that turn out both well educated and ill educated graduates.

For schools of the first type, money is a very large problem. Some districts can't raise enough money to maintain the existing physical plant, let alone build new schools, let alone pay teachers what they are worth. These types of schools simply need more money. While money won't magically fix all the problems with these schools, being able to afford experienced teachers and adequate buildings would go a very long way.

For schools of the second type, money is still a very large problem, but by no means the most pressing problem. (Some districts in Ohio spend better than $7k or $9k, way above the national average, per year per student and still don't have the money to fix dilapitated buildings.) For these school districts, the problem is that the system is fundamentally broken. In Cincinnati, they tried experimenting with charter school to see if privitization of a sorts could help. It didn't. Charter schools perform as badly or marginally worse than their traditional public school competition.

Just what is needed, I have no idea. All I know is that in many cases (certainly not all) the system is fundamentally broke. Coincidentally the system is fundamentally broke only for those who can not afford to buy their way out by living in an expensive suburb with a good school system.

Nothing can be more pitiful and absurd than to pride oneself on one's genius
Nikolai Aleksandrovich Berdyaev, "The Ethics of Creativity"


[ Parent ]

A few data points (4.00 / 1) (#107)
by bunsen on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 12:45:34 AM EST

In my high school experience (I'm not gonna discuss elementary and middle school, as my memory from then is even more biased than that from high school), I've had 2 excellent teachers, several good ones, several mediocre ones, 3 or 4 best described as inadequate, and one who was completely unfit to teach. Those who I consider poor teachers were plagued primarily by apathy. The ones who tried, whether they succeeded in teaching the course material or not, helped to make the whole experience bearable. Money was definitely not a problem, or at least it shouldn't have been. The fact that the district paid ~$3000 apiece for a couple hundred $1500 computers didn't help. (The fact that the company the computers were purchased from was owned by a close friend of the superintendant is purely a coincidence.)

The administration, on the other hand, was pretty much terrible overall. The principal considered himself the most important man on the planet, justified by his educational doctorate from a little-known local university (It's fun to watch what happens when people address him as "Mister" instead of "Doctor."). The superintendant and school board seemed to jump on any idea that involved the word technology. They preferred replacing the cafeteria cash register with a $3500 Pentium (running software written for an 8086) to fixing the leaks in the roof.

The curriculum also suffered greatly from politics and trendy educational philosophy. The idea of teaching new material was abandoned in most required classes, since some people might not learn it as well as others, and then they'd feel bad. This resulted in junior-level english courses which focused half the semester on the distinction between a sentence fragment and a complete sentence. (I might be exaggerating about the motivation, but my junior year english course really did spend half a semester on precisely that subject. Then they went on to the "writing process," with plenty of brainstorming, mapping, and "prewriting," but very little actual writing.)

So even with plenty of money, no violence to speak of, and no visible racism, the school as a whole was quite ineffective. The problem was with apathetic teachers and incompetent or apathetic administrators.

---
Do you want your possessions identified? [ynq] (n)
[ Parent ]

D'OH! (none / 0) (#108)
by bunsen on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 12:59:42 AM EST

Meant to change the subject line on that comment... It started as a list of my teachers and brief descriptions of what they did right or wrong, before I realized how long and off-topic it was getting. I'll try to remember to preview more carefully next time.

---
Do you want your possessions identified? [ynq] (n)
[ Parent ]
My experiences (none / 0) (#166)
by adamsc on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 10:42:17 PM EST

(Experience from 3 high schools in California - Buena High in Ventura, Santa Maria High in Santa Maria, and Santana High in Santee (yes, that Santana).)

With the exception of SMHS (which had a poor tax base and a ton of migrant farmworks' children, who might only be at one school for 3-6 months), money wasn't much of a problem. What was a problem was priorities and overhead. The administrators at every school were at best useless and, especially in the case of Santana, often a major hazard. Beyond the obvious wastes of money, there were two things I saw which resulted in perhaps 10% of a graduating class receiving a real education at any of the schools:

  • Indifference - almost every administrator and entirely too many teachers seemed to have an attitude along the lines of "this would be a great job if we didn't have students" and there were more than a few wannabe-authoritarians (especially the most-overtly liberal ("scratch one and you'll find a closet aristocrat") - that's a personality trait you don't need to brag about having if you actually do). When educating students is obviously at the bottom of the priority list, all but the most driven students suffer. It was not coincidental that the best teachers all seemed to wage constant battles with the administration.
  • GIGO - the average course material (especially textbooks - c.f. Lies My Teacher Told Me) would be laughably poor was this not such a serious issue. The most educational courses I had were with teachers who didn't care about getting in trouble for not using the official textbooks; the courses which followed the district curiculum were ~5 grades behind when I'd first learned the material and even then still presented as hard. Unsurprisingly, low quality material and indifferent teachers do not produce well educated students...

As a side note the bad schools aren't a race issue - it's a case of middle-class versus poor, not white vs. black.



[ Parent ]
Well put. (3.00 / 1) (#97)
by Requiem on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 06:02:13 PM EST

I don't know about you, but IMHO, if you buy something, you should only have to buy it once.

You're bang on with that statement, but I don't think you fully developed what you could have.

Here in Canada, for example, you typically pay both provincial and federal sales taxes on an item, which can add up to 14%.

Then you get to pay income tax on top of that.

[ Parent ]

Some good points about education (3.00 / 1) (#136)
by leonbrooks on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 03:23:53 PM EST

(And an amusing title; really, almost every post here is from ``the peanut gallery'').

sane lighting (most modern lighting can trigger anything from migranes to epilepsy)

Agree. Most modern computer screens as well, at least as set by default when you install Windows...

nutritionally-sound (AND EDIBLE!) food

This one has been shown to reduce tendencies to crime as well as promoting learning. An education in nutrition was considerably more effective in preventing relapses than more counselling, stiffer sentences or anything else tried.

Ergo, ensure it. Otherwise, EVERYONE lo[]ses. How? [...] Invest.

At this point we diverge. If your investment is supporting a principle inimical to your objectives, more investment will simply make the problem(s) worse. Sailing faster is all very well, but please make sure you're sailing in the right direction!

The direction I would choose to sail in is smaller schools, with the aim of dwindling and despecialising schools as such to the point where they become information and specialised-facility resource centers for the surrounding community, no or very few classrooms as such. I would also raise school-entry age to 8 years old and abolish kindergarten and any state funding of child-care (except, of course, where it was absolutely necessary, e.g. crippled single parent, truly ADHD child, etc).

Getting the government to lower taxes in response to the lowered spending on schools would be the big trick. I think I would try to raise the income tax thresholds rather than give a straight discount, and keep it rising. Here in Oz, income tax was introduced in WW2 as a ``temporary measure'' (ha!) to fund the war effort, and the tax brackets now start so ridiculously low that a social security recipient with no other income can find themselves paying income tax.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Bullshit (3.88 / 17) (#22)
by onyxruby on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:56:03 AM EST

This is complete bullshit. I grew up in poverty, even to the point of working food shelves to get food for the family. Am I still in poverty? No. Why? Because I chose to do something about it. I put myself through school (independent status under the age of 24 by the way), trained myself with computers, and worked my ass off to get to where I am at now. I am now at a point that many people would call a success. Without question I make more than most of my classmates that I graduated with.

If your poor, do something about it. Stop blaming "the man", government, big corporations, the welfare system, education, and help yourself become financially secure. No one forced me to remain poor, I decided I wanted to become financially secure, and that's what I did. Would you believe I have even been on welfare? For two months after getting surgery that I had to have that kept me from being able to work I was on welfare, food stamps and all. After two months and I was able to go back to work, I made the choice and did exactly that. The only person that can hold yourself down is yourself.

The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.

A (non-sarcastic) question (4.00 / 2) (#27)
by slaytanic killer on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 12:32:42 PM EST

Isn't the submitted article trying to take your advice and seeing how to "do something about it," analyzing the situation?


[ Parent ]
Intriguing... (3.37 / 8) (#32)
by jd on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:11:06 PM EST

Since the only person "blaming" or shaming is the poster I'm replying to.

Saying "hey, this approach isn't working" is nothing more and nothing less than what it says. It says that that approach isn't working. Where's the blame, or the accusations in that?

On the other hand, your "success story", of a person who has crawled out of poverty, is full of critisism, slights, accusations and shame.

Success is how you define it. I define it as being less toxic than those I grew up around. Food is somthing that any child can grow or find. Clothes are nothing more than bits of plant fluff that have been twisted up and twisted together.

(I've never "needed" to make my own clothes. The point is, it CAN be done, not who's done it.)

I'd say that a family that is self-sufficient, emotionally together, non-abusive, and utterly poor beyond belief is richer and greater than =every= poster on Kuro5hin put together.

I'd say that the hundred financially richest men on the planet are likely to be poorer in spirit than half the people on welfare, in America or Europe.

Financial security, as a goal, for it's own sake, IS poverty. True richness comes not from seeking money, but rather simply having it because you've taken care of your REAL needs.

(The same way that you -will- get ill, sooner or later, if you just try and "make" yourself well. But you stand a good chance of having no illnesses of any significance if you eat right, drink enough fluid, exercise, and generally take care of your physical needs.)

As for your "advice", I hope nobody takes it. You don't get jobs by knowledge, you get them from experience in the field PLUS any necessary bits of paper.

A kid who gets into computers, becomes a guru by the age of 10, and works -their- ass off to be the best computer geek that has ever lived, would not be as "qualified" as a 22-year-old who has a BSc in computing but knows nothing outside of the exam paper.

History is littered with the corpses of people who KNOW, and filled with the glittering monuments to people who simply qualified.

Even if you "win" a rat race, you're just another rat. It sounds like a paradox, but it's true. The only way to really win is not to enter at all.

[ Parent ]

Hunh? (5.00 / 1) (#38)
by onyxruby on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:29:25 PM EST

Of course you need experience, I am not for one second going to advocate book smarts over real world knowledge. I started by getting a job in the computer lab of my school, then sold computers, did helpdesk, field engineer, network administration and so on. I bought, built and tore down my own systems. Just to learn NT 4, I spent several hundred hours training, making, breaking and fixing to gain experience before getting "experience". This was in addition to school, and getting those little peices of paper.

The point of my comment was to take responsibility for yourself. You can hold yourself down or lift yourself up. I am not saying for a second that those that have money are any better than those that don't. What I am saying is that for those for whom the lack of money is an issue, can make a choice to resolve that issue. Working a job you don't like for the money is never going to make you a happy person, I certainly never implied it in my post. Money has it's place, and I put it there - right behind things like family and having a life.


The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.
[ Parent ]

You are right. (3.75 / 4) (#34)
by Anodos on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:14:58 PM EST

You (an individual) are the only person who can pick you up out of a situation. I know this first hand. But, I COULDN'T drag myself out, initially, because I had a problem: depression.

Now, I'm not saying that all poor people are depressed, but the thing is, a majority of homeless people have mental problems.

During the 1960's, the advent of helping people with mental problems, caused many Psychiatric Hospitals to sprout. During the 1970's and 1980's, when funding for mental help, from the US Govt. was declining (yes, I'm taking a a USian Point of View), when the Psychiatric Hospitals were closing, the doctors would hand each soon-to-be-ex-patient, a lunch bag, and sent him on his way.

Sometimes people, like yourself, can fix your situation. There are times, when people are not "well" enough, mentally, to be able to initiate the process.

One more thing, just because you can do something, doesn't mean that someone else can as well.

[ Parent ]
Excellent! But what about the others? (4.00 / 1) (#122)
by leonbrooks on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 01:40:44 PM EST

[I] worked my ass off to get to where I am at now.

Excellent! How many of your poor peers did likewise, and of those who didn't, why didn't they? What contributed to their choices?

Without question I make more than most of my classmates that I graduated with.

And were they all poor too? Or are you impugning the value of schooling? (-:

If you[']r[e] poor, do something about it. Stop blaming ``the man,'' government, big corporations, the welfare system, education, and help yourself become financially secure. No one forced me to remain poor, I decided I wanted to become financially secure, and that's what I did.

You could be onto something here. Specifically, eliminating blame-servers from your life. I'm sure many people blame Microsoft - whether rightly or not - for the cruddy state of computer software, and then don't do anything else about it, having figured that identifying a source for the problem is enough. As long as you blame some external entity for a problem, you waive a certain degree of control over that problem yourself.

What made you decide that

  • financial security was achievable in general; then
  • it was achievable specifically by you; and
  • it was worth the trouble?

How long and how hard were you prepared to work to achieve it?

Finally, I guess the question is: what are you doing next?
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Take care of two things (4.00 / 4) (#31)
by Wah on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:05:06 PM EST

in this country (US), and nobody will have the right to call themselves poor. Education and Healthcare, the two main environmental ingredients for "creating all people equally". Oh, and try to write laws that don't favor international corporations over local businesses, but good luck with that one. And don't favor credit companies over families. And I guess you'd have to work with the system, but now I'm just being redundant.
--
Some things, bandwidth can't buy. For everything else, there's Real Life | SSP


"Education" in the US, from its creators (3.66 / 9) (#49)
by botono9 on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 04:01:15 PM EST

"Public schools do not exist to please Johnny's parents. They do not even exist to ensure that Johnny will one day earn a good living at a job he likes."
-- Al Shanker, late president of the American Federation of Teachers

"We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks."
-- Woodrow Wilson

"In our dreams...people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple...we will organize children...and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way..."
-- Mission Statement, J.D. Rockefeller, Sr.'s General Education Board, 1906

"I have undertaken to get at the facts from the point of view of the business men [sic]- citizens of the community who, after all, pay the bills and, therefore, have a right to say what they shall have in their schools."
-- Charles H. Thurber, from an Address at the Annual Meeting of the National Education Association, July 9, 1897

"Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual."
-- from The Philosophy of Education (1906), William Torrey Harris, U.S. Commissioner of Education (1889-1906)

"In a free country, where the government is by the people through their chosen representatives, practical legislation admits of no other standard of action: for what the people believe is for the common welfare must be accepted as tending to promote the common welfare, whether it does in fact or not."
-- Viemeister v. White, President of Board of Education, October 18, 1904


"Guns are real. Blue uniforms are real. Cops are social fiction."
--Robert Anton Wilson
[ Parent ]

Interesting set of quotes. (4.00 / 6) (#52)
by Another Scott on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 04:28:38 PM EST

It's a shame that all of them seem to be many scores of years old. Hmm... I wonder why that is...

How about this one: NEA President speaks at the National Press Club in 1997 -

Today, however, it is clear to me -- and to a critical mass of teachers across America -- that while this narrow, traditional agenda remains important, it is utterly inadequate to the needs of the future. It will not serve our members' interest in greater professionalism. It will not serve the public's interest in better quality public schools. And it will not serve the interests of America's children ... the children we teach ... the children who motivated us to go into teaching in the first place.

And this latter interest must be decisive. After all, America's public schools do not exist for teachers and other employees. They do not exist to provide us with jobs and salaries. Schools do exist for the children -- to give students the very best ... beginning with a quality teacher in every classroom.

It's easy to take a sentence or two out of context to attempt to prove a point. But it's often not an effective technique.

Cheers,
Scott.

[ Parent ]

They've soaked in, overt is no longer necessary (none / 0) (#133)
by leonbrooks on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 03:02:52 PM EST

It's a shame that all of them seem to be many scores of years old. Hmm... I wonder why that is...

The damage is now done, the curriculum is soaked in school-to-work, exactly the outcome demanded by Rockefeller and friends in the quotes. And the system is producing people who are of course as blind to this kind of manipulation as fish are blind to water. Dare I say ``QED''? (-:

Now Oz schools have a progress reporting system which is just total vapour (I'd post a scan of my daughter's report if I was allowed to, so you can see what I mean; and I'd home-educate her if I was allowed to), so vague you can't really tell even how good a factory component your child is becoming. The down-side of not disappointing anyone is that you can't satisfy anyone either.

Further down Bob's speech, we find his basic motivation: ``we [the Teachers' Union] must revitalize our public schools from within, or they will be dismantled from without [... by ...] the vast majority of Americans who support public education, but are clearly dissatisfied''. Much of what Bob Chase has to say here is very encouraging, but bear in mind that the goal is not to provide the best method of education but to support State schools, and the reason is so that the union may prosper.

If Bob's personal goals are also ``for the children'' then that's nice, commendable, worthy. But it doesn't alter the inevitable facts that the union will act for the union first, children later; State schooling is amongst the most inefficient ways of imparting academic information that exist; and it is also one of the most damaging ways to acquire academic knowledge.

Until Bob's ``for the children'' motivation becomes strong enough to cause him to abandon both his Union and also the State schooling methods and principles, he will be digging his own grave in terms of objectives.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Above interesting, brilliant & right on the $$$ (none / 0) (#120)
by leonbrooks on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 01:24:16 PM EST

Thanks for posting those, they are now part of my signatures database. (-:
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]
created equal - being different (3.00 / 4) (#40)
by mami on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:55:12 PM EST

Isn't that again the story of all men *created* equal, but as soon as they are out of mother's womb, they slip into very *unequal* living conditions ?

You are born into political and social system created by men. It's up to men to decide how a political systems is supposed to help each person to have an *equal* opportunity to leave their status of being less fortunate than his neighbor and strive for becoming as fortunate as the fellow men (the richer men in your case). Isn't policy making the process of deciding how the system is going to help you to become as equal as possible with having the maximum individual freedom necessary ?

It's a matter how the political system balances freedom versus equality. To me it's clear that for example in the U.S. the persistance of a poor underclass is directly related to the fact that access even to free public education (but especially private education) is dependent on its citizen's income. That's a matter of how the U.S's educational system is structured and funded.

It's also their own choice. They value their free floating system more than they value giving everybody an equal opportunity. They rely on the (psychologically understandable) experience that many people have had: "I worked my ass off to get out of poverty, you can (and should) do the same. You can do it."

Clearly this argument is a cop-out for people who have suffered a lot and fought bravely to better their lives. It is not an argument to base public policies on and is socially irresponsible. Not that the argument has not its value, but it is one which is obviously true no matter what, to the point it becomes a trivial statement. It doesn't provide a basis to structure a legal and political system upon, which protects and serves their citizen's needs.



Freedom and equality (4.50 / 2) (#77)
by bluesninja on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 12:37:28 PM EST

It's a matter how the political system balances freedom versus equality.

Wrong! "Freedom vs. Equality" is a false dichotomy. If everyone had absolute freedom, then everyone would be "equal," in that everybody is free to pursue their goals without being hindered by others. This is the libertarian (anarchist) ideal of equality. What you are defending is more like egalitarianism, which lives under the delusion that "all people ARE equal", rather than "all people have equal rights and freedoms".

The fact of the matter is, not all people are equal. Some are stronger than others, some a smarter than others, some and more charismatic than others. Some people work hard to gain these skills, others are born with them. But everybody should be free to use their skills for their own advantage.

The problem with our system is that you must "buy into" the system first -- people in adject poverty are shut out.

I, for one, don't want a "system" (read: government) deciding how free I deserve to be. Only I should determine that. Unfortunately, we have a government doing this, and even worse, they are incompetent at it. Corporations are now taking over where they failed, and believe me, their intentions aren't freedom, and the only kind of equality they're interested in homogeneous, global, brand consumers.

"Welcome to the new feudalism" - Jello Biafra

(Sorry, that rant got a little out of control...)

/bluesninja

[ Parent ]

ROOC is OK (none / 0) (#156)
by leonbrooks on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 08:10:54 AM EST

If everyone had absolute freedom, then everyone would be "equal," in that everybody is free to pursue their goals without being hindered by others. This is the libertarian (anarchist) ideal of equality.

Unfortunately, this has a condition in it which does not exist in the wild: ``without being hindered by others''. Also unfortunately, Anarchism always condenses into something else in practice, and I say unfortunately because the system of government which I think would work best for me is probably closer to Anarchism than what we (I speak for either of USA or Oz) have now.

Sorry, that rant got a little out of control...

Rant away. A controlled rant is almost an oxymoron, and often things come out which would remain unsaid. Sometimes better unsaid, nevertheless unsaid. (-:
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

It was supposed to be an oxymoron! (none / 0) (#144)
by pavlos on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 08:02:42 PM EST

The phrase "All men are created equal" was supposed to be a thought-provoking oxymoron. An oxymoron is a statement which sounds grand or convincing but is unfounded.

Clearly people are not created equal. Some are taller, some sing better, some are good at maths, some are stronger, some have poor health. The point of "All men are created equal" was that society should be blind to these obvious differences and give everyone an equal chance to live a fulfilling life.

Somewhere along the line this has gone wrong, and some people started thinking like this: They say that all men are created equal, but look, these ones over there are not equal. They're weaker than me. Therefore I have no moral obligation to treat them as equal.

Pavlos

[ Parent ]

But who's job is it? (3.30 / 10) (#42)
by tweek on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 02:07:04 PM EST

Taking this quote:

"But the poor? Not even God expects everyone to be rich; Jesus said ``ye have the poor with you always'' and instructed us to care for them. "

This was his directive to the Church *NOT* the Roman government. Remember he also said "Render unto God what is God's and to Ceasar what is Ceasar's". He understood that we were not nor will we EVER be a theocracy. If we were, then we would have some sort of Christian obligation to provide for the poor. Jesus was saying that let the Church be the ones to provide for the people and handle social issues. Let the government do the things that are not in the Church to do.
Mind you I'm only picking apart one section of the whole post to make a point. I'm also assuming the christian faith applies but only because that was what was referenced.

Some people call me crazy but I prefer to think of myself as freelance lunatic.

Not really... (1.00 / 5) (#54)
by Kyle_the_Dragoon on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:10:59 PM EST

This was his directive to the Church *NOT* the Roman government. Remember he also said "Render unto God what is God's and to Ceasar what is Ceasar's".

Umm, as far as I know: it was directed at everyone. The church doesn't exist to handle social issues: the people do. Please try not to look stupid in the future.

I've said it before, and i'll say it again: Read the freaking FAQ!
[ Parent ]

And why is that.... (1.50 / 2) (#56)
by tweek on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 07:19:26 PM EST

making me look stupid. Just because my interpretation is not YOUR interpretation does not make me stupid.
Oh wait. I've just been trolled.

Some people call me crazy but I prefer to think of myself as freelance lunatic.
[ Parent ]
which church? (none / 0) (#61)
by willj on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:05:50 PM EST

I'm not a religious scholar, though I do go to a backward-ass conservative Christian university, but I'm led to believe that he was speaking to everybody when he talked. There was no Church (with a capitol C) at the time. That didn't occur until a few years after his death.

[ Parent ]
The Body (none / 0) (#64)
by tweek on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 07:01:31 AM EST

Usually when the Church is refered to in the New Testament, it's refering to the Body of Christ. In essence, all believers worldwide. It's been years since I've picked up any of my apologetics so you'll have to forgive me for not having a better explanation. All being said though, you are correct. The Church (body of Christ) wasn't an actuality until after the Pentecost.

Some people call me crazy but I prefer to think of myself as freelance lunatic.
[ Parent ]
actually... (none / 0) (#91)
by cory on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 05:15:09 PM EST

Jesus told Simon "You are Peter, and on this Rock I will build my Church." At that moment, the Church (as we know it) came into being. Check your catechism if you don't believe me.

Cory


[ Parent ]
*BZZT* Wrong Answer (4.00 / 2) (#65)
by Anonymous 242 on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 07:51:29 AM EST

This reply of Jesus was directed at Judas Iscariot after he (Judas) complained about a woman dumping an entire jar of perfume on Jesus' head. Judas was complaining about how much good they could have done for the poor by selling the perfume. The author of the gospel implies that Judas' real interest was more personal, being the person who managed the money for the band of apostles and being a person who frequently dipped into the common purse.

Jesus' reply wasn't so much a statement about the poor as it was a statement about his time left on this earth.

Nothing can be more pitiful and absurd than to pride oneself on one's genius
Nikolai Aleksandrovich Berdyaev, "The Ethics of Creativity"


[ Parent ]

Wrong question rather than wrong answer (none / 0) (#119)
by leonbrooks on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 01:19:48 PM EST

The statement was most specifically in answer to Judas' complaint about money wasted on ointment; the main thrust of Jesus' answer was that (and this is almost a singular occurence) at this point the significance of the ointment and the use of it on himself was more important; he was also rebuking Judas because even if it had been a waste she had done the best she knew with what she had. The information about the poor is almost en passant, nevertheless real and definite.

As to the comments below about the Church... it was in existence at the time of Christ, at first the Disciples and a few others (John the Baptist's parents, probably Mary and Joseph, certainly the odd prophet) were the Church. There was a distinct Apostolic heritage in France and Italy up until the early 1600s, another in India, another in China.

If on the other hand you mean the Roman Catholic Church when you say ``the Church,'' that's a more complicated question. The churches from which that organisation derived (around a core of orders like ``the Vestal Virgins'') predated Christ by some time, the first official hints of a formal body with its character appear in the early 300s, and the first formal organisation would have been in the early 400s AD. The RCC itself gets a bit vague and confused about Popes at times, notably before about 600AD.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

If he chooses such a course... (3.75 / 8) (#57)
by skim123 on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 08:01:14 PM EST

Must a poor person remain forever an albatross, forever running and never quite able to fly?

Only if he chooses such a course. Will the poor person ever be "rich?" Unlikely. But if he or she works hard and makes wise decisions regarding their lives, they can have a much better life and have a wonderful chance at moving up a few notches in the social strata.

The traditional remedy for poverty has been to buy a crate of apples, polish them up and sell them from a street corner

While that may not work today, I think the old motive of, "Find a job, work hard and proud, and get promoted," still holds true today. What is wrong with a poor person who has little skills to start a job at Taco Bell, show up early, stay late, work hard, and get promoted to, say, manager? Work hard at that, run a good store, etc., and get promoted to manager of a number of stores? And don't say it's impossible. An uncle of mine came from a very rough background, did construction, had a bout with alcholism and drug abuse, but cleaned up and started working in a video game store chain (a small one, they have a number of stores in a smattering of states East of the Mississippi). Yes, he was working with teenagers for a low rate. But he worked hard. He was soon promoted to manager of the store. He put in a lot of time and energy and made his store very profitable. He was then made the manager of all stores in his city. And then on to manager of the East coast stores. He is still manager of all those East coast stores, owns a portion of the company, and is in a much better off position due to:

  • Hard work
  • Determination
  • Strong work ethic

And yes, folks, he came from a poor family, he spent most of his life poor, he had only a high school education... So, I think the moral of that story is if you want to improve anything you have, be it your financial situation, your fitness level, your social skills, etc., work for it! It's not going to fall in your lap, and, for God's sake, please don't expect that those who have more of what you want have some obligation to give you what it is you want.

Sorta like being gay: you're walking around, you know something's up, you just don't know what it is yet.


Not enough jobs to go around (4.00 / 1) (#109)
by swr on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 03:40:59 AM EST

An uncle of mine came from a very rough background, did construction, had a bout with alcholism and drug abuse, but cleaned up and started working in a video game store chain (a small one, they have a number of stores in a smattering of states East of the Mississippi). Yes, he was working with teenagers for a low rate. But he worked hard. He was soon promoted to manager of the store. He put in a lot of time and energy and made his store very profitable. He was then made the manager of all stores in his city. And then on to manager of the East coast stores.

But that can't happen for everyone. Believing that it can based on a number real-life stories is analogous to believing that because there are a number of people have survived gunshot wounds, anyone can survive gunshot wounds if they seek immediate medical attention / have faith in god / are strong of character / whatever.

The fact is, in most places there is this thing called an "unemployment rate". That is the percentage of people in the workforce who have not found a job. Some of those people are choosing to stay unemployed because the jobs available to them are not to their liking. Some are unemployed so that they can collect benefits. But many, probably most, are unemployed because there aren't enough jobs to go around.

I know this is not something people are eager to swallow, but staying employed is like playing musical chairs. Most of the time there are more workers than jobs. The vast majority of workers find jobs, but some get left out in the cold. You can call it laziness or weakness of character or whatever, but mathematically it is very simple: jobs < workers.

Much like musical chairs, the game doesn't seem all that unfair when you have yourself a seat.

Also, unemployment varies from region to region, and from industry to industry. Some industries in some regions will have full employment, while others will have higher than average unemployment. So you can't assume that your (or your friend or relatives) experiences with finding work are the same as other peoples'.

Now you may asking, "Why don't these people just get a job flipping burgers?", assuming that the fast food industry is somehow exempt from the previously described matters, as if there are somehow an infinite number of jobs in that sector. And while there are an infinite number of "work with teenagers for low pay" type jobs, there are also an infinite number of teenagers working for low pay, and so the two infinities have a tendancy to cancel each other out.



[ Parent ]
Bah (2.00 / 1) (#121)
by skim123 on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 01:35:28 PM EST

I once heard a man talk at a Rotary Club lunch (don't remember his title/name), but he made the comment that, classically, there's always been at least a 2% unemployment rate, and he chalked it up to there being 2% of the population who just doesn't want to work (or are too incompetent to hold a job for any length of time). I agree with this.

...because there aren't enough jobs to go around

Perhaps, but I find this hard to believe when I see Help Wanted signs all over the place. Yes, if you were a database admin making $45k a year, working at the graveyard shift at 7-11 may not seem ideal, but don't say that there aren't enough jobs when clearly there are. They may not be enough jobs that you may want, but there are jobs.

Sorta like being gay: you're walking around, you know something's up, you just don't know what it is yet.
[ Parent ]

More workers than jobs (none / 0) (#138)
by swr on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 05:11:48 PM EST

classically, there's always been at least a 2% unemployment rate, and he chalked it up to there being 2% of the population who just doesn't want to work (or are too incompetent to hold a job for any length of time). I agree with this.

Sounds reasonable. But the unemployment rate is usually greater than 2%. Those extra people are perfectly good folks who just can't find a job.

Perhaps, but I find this hard to believe when I see Help Wanted signs all over the place.

Most "help wanted" signs get a lot of response. It is not uncommon for a single position to result in dozens, or even hundreds, of applicants.

Just because there are a lot of "help wanted" signs does not mean that there is surplus work, it just means the process of evaluating potential employees takes some time. Jobs with high employee turnover will have help wanted signs a lot of the time, even when there are lots of people competing for a handful of jobs.

There are more workers than jobs. Our economy depends on it. If there were more jobs than workers then employers would have to compete for workers by offering higher wages and/or benefits. This would result in more expensive goods, which would cause the workers to demand still higher pay, and the cycle continues. The result is out-of-control inflation. Eventually the employers would be unable to pay any more, and unable to invest in growing their business (and our economy!) and things would start going into the crapper for everyone.

Please don't use the ~2% (or whatever) lazies as a model for all unemployed people. There really are other reasons for people to be unemployed, many of which are completely beyond their control.



[ Parent ]
yeah, sure, THIS year (none / 0) (#159)
by anonymous cowerd on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 10:00:55 AM EST

Perhaps, but I find this hard to believe when I see Help Wanted signs all over the place.

Yeah, sure, this year there are a lot of entry-level job openings. You may thank the extraordinary Mr. Clinton, himself an escapee from the trailer-park life, for this happy state of affairs, if you can somehow focus your mind on something else besides Monica Lewinsky's lips. Don't expect to see so many of those signs two years down the road, with the Repugs in the saddle, mad to flog the working class for its effrontery in expecting to earn a living.

That's 2001. But in 1973, in the hope of being able to continue at college, I went to apply for a job at a nearby restaurant as a dishwasher, at minimum wage and not a cent more. The manager of the restaurant told me that he had placed the want ad in the newspaper two days previous, and he had gotten a hundred applicants. How many "Help Wanted" signs do you think you'd have seen in shop windows back then, hey?

If you've got the time, go down to the library and read about the extreme case, the Great Depression of 1930. Pulling a couple volumes off my bookshelf I can recommend William Leuchtenberg's Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal as an overview of the era. Concerning the effects of the Great Depression on individuals, I also have a "documentary history," a compilation of extracts from magazines and newspapers of the times, entitled The Great Depression, edited by David A. Shannon. There are a couple of chapters in it, both reprinted from articles in the New York Times in 1932, titled "Vagrant Civil Engineer" and "Unemployed College Graduates."

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

the Earth's blue as an orange
[ Parent ]

More work for less money. (3.00 / 2) (#111)
by your_desired_username on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 09:19:23 AM EST

Speaking of someone who has made a strong work ethic work for me - this takes time. At low paying jobs, most employers will not or cannot give raises or promotions for hard work. With one exception, everywhere I have worked, I have found myself disliked, sometimes even hated, for working harder than those around me. Most business are populated by people who feel they have a right to do as little work as possible. They know they get away with this only because 95% of employees do the same thing. If you work hard, they will be expected to work hard too - and they'll hate you for it. If you want to succeed due to a strong work ethic - expect to try 5 or 6 jobs before you find one that gives you anything back for your hard work. Now if you can't get 5 or 6 jobs - or if you can't live off of what they pay you - or if you can't go without pay for the weeks and months it takes to find a new one - you'll fail. Strong work ethic only ups your chances a little - and you have put up with being disliked by co-workers who do not share your work ethic, and with being screwed by employers who want to take unfair advantage of it.

[ Parent ]
Everyone should become a manager! Or President! (4.00 / 1) (#140)
by pavlos on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 06:12:45 PM EST

You uggest that anyone can escape poverty by generally working hard. However you then provide examples all of which describe someone rising to be a manager, or a business owner, and so becoming relatively richer than their former coworkers!

How is that supposed to mitigate the problem of poverty? Even bilieving for the sake of the argument that anyone could do it, which is far from likely, surely you are not claiming that everyone can do it.

It is clear that there are many fewer managers than employees, and many fewer owners of successful corporations than low-paid workers. You might as well say that the lottery will cure poverty because, in principle, anyone can win.

If it just takes hard work to rise to the top, why doesn't everyone get there. Ah, I get it, it must be that those who do make it are gifted, or that those who don't are too lazy, and so it's OK in either case.

Another poster bemoans the fact that, if you do work visibly harder than your co-workers, they may despise you. Is that strange? You are lowering their working conditions (by raising management expectations) in order to improve your position relative to them.

Now, I certainly agree that a strong work ethic can make people productive, and this is a good thing because work may get done, goods may become abundant, and everyone may be better off assuming certain reasonable conditions hold. But having the ambition and determination to rise relatively to others does nothing to solve collective problems such as poverty.

Pavlos

[ Parent ]

Taxing the Poor is Stupid (3.50 / 8) (#59)
by Luke Francl on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:34:58 PM EST

A lot of people here are suggesting hard work as the traditional remedy for removing oneself from poverty. This is true. But it's hard, maybe too hard -- because, after all, the middle class ends up supporting the poor one way or another, whether through charity or taxes.

I think the worst thing our[1] government does to the poor[2] is tax them. Why is the government taxing anyone who makes less than $30,000 a year AT ALL? Why are we taxing capital gains less than oh, say, $50,000 a year? How the hell are the poor supposed to become middle class if the government keeps TAKING ALL THEIR MONEY? They need everything they can get. Incouraging people to invest[3] would be a good start to lifting them from poverty.

[1] United States

[2] OK, don't get me started on our drug policies which ruin hundreds of lives daily, mainly those of the poor because they can't afford a decent lawyer to convince the judge that they've "made a wrong turn" and are "never going to do it again".

[3] A money market is a good choice for someone with low tolerance for risk, yet it pays better than that nice fat 0% you get from a checking account.

Humans are Pack Animals (2.75 / 4) (#71)
by cryon on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 11:06:52 AM EST

And they are highly concerned with social status. One of the major dynamics in most pack animal/social animals societies is that those animals with status, take advantage of their high status in order to KEEP their high status.

This is why poor people are taxed. This is why there are so many tax laws that favor those who already own property.


HTGS75OBEY21IRTYG54564ACCEPT64AUTHORITY41V KKJWQKHD23CONSUME78GJHGYTMNQYRTY74SLEEP38H TYTR32CONFORM12GNIYIPWG64VOTER4APATHY42JLQ TYFGB64MONEY3IS4YOUR7GOD62MGTSB21CONFORM34 SDF53MARRY6AND2REPRODUCE534TYWHJZKJ34OBEY6

This is not logic (none / 0) (#115)
by leonbrooks on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 12:51:55 PM EST

You have only a postulate - ``people are pack animals'' - and observation - [which] ``take advantage of their high status to keep their high status'' - and a conclusion [so] ``this is why poor people are taxed.''

You have not proven ``people are pack animals,'' you have not shown that all pack animals are as you say, you have not shown any real connection between status and taxes. Expect to have to do so if you want to be taken seriously.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

What poverty is... (4.69 / 23) (#73)
by dasunt on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 11:37:57 AM EST

Now I've seen several threads arguing about what advantages poor people can use to get out of poverty, and I believe that most people don't know what poverty is.

  • Poverty isn't driving a 5 year old car. Poverty is no car, and walking through the cold winters of a northern state a few miles to the grocery store. The lack of an automobile limits the amount of jobs you can get, and public programs you can take advantage of. If food shelf is across town, are you really going to go when the windchill is -40? Can you get the $8/hour job at the factory 10 miles away? (Its better if you are in a large town because of public transportation, but smaller towns have horrible bus service, if they have any at all.)
  • Poverty isn't having to stay at home most of the time instead of going out to eat. Poverty is not settling for ground meat instead of choice cuts. Poverty is not having enough to eat. Poverty is hunger.
  • Poverty isn't not being able to buy name brand clothes. Poverty means having a two old threadbare pairs of cheap pants, if you are lucky, and a few faded shirts. Oh, and you either have to wash them in the sink or walk down to the laundromat and spend money that could go for food because your washer broke and you don't have the money to repair it.
  • Poverty isn't renting a two bedroom apartment in a secured building. Poverty is living in a cheap apartment or trailer house. Your landlord doesn't give a damn if your furnace goes in winter, and he's not going to fix those drafty windows, leaky piper, or clogged drains either. And don't put too much of a load on the electric, god only knows how old the wiring is. (Btw, now you are living in a cold house, undernourished, and having to brave a cold winter climate. Your health is going downhill. Your clothes look horrible. How good of an impression do you think you make at a job interview?)
  • Poverty isn't not going to the movies. Poverty is no entertainment. No cable, not even basic. Maybe no television set. No newspapers, no magazines. You will probably have a radio, and you might be able to pick up a few local television stations, if your TV works.

    Now this is a pretty stark picture of poverty, and might be considered extreme, but I have seen what I described. I'm not saying that you need all of the above to be considered poor. If I was pressed to give a definition of poverty, I would have to say "Unable to afford safe shelter, proper nutrition, clothing, and needed transportation, as well as medical attention." It could be argued that poverty also includes the inability to better one's life through work, the inability to save money for the future/emergencies, and the lack of a small amount of entertainment (since humans are not robots). Poverty is about sacrificing the future for a substandard present. Being in college and in debt because of student loans is not being poor, as long as you have a safe place to live, enough to eat, etc. Being a divorced 25 year old mother with 2 kids and another on the way might be. Due to welfare reform you can only stay home for a year after the birth before you need to find a job. (And don't think this only happens to "white trash" or your favorite "no good" ethnic group. It could be a devout christian mother who marries young and moves away from her family, just to find out that her breadwinning husband is turning abusive.) Oh, and the majority of poor aren't adults, they are children.

    So, whats the best way of escaping poverty? Education. Although the parents might be trapped in a life of poverty, it is possible, in America, to gain a college education if you are lucky. Of course, this doesn't always work. When I was at college, a 30-ish year old single mother that I knew dropped out because she had several kids and got a decent job offer ($8/hour). Sometimes, even additional schooling can be a luxery. Its also better if you are not in an economically depressed area. Its possible to grow up in the United States in an area that gives almost no hope for the future. (And if you don't think so, visit some of the poorer Indian Reservations in this country).

    As for the article, I find it a little stereotypical. Saying that all the poor play the lottery is like saying the rich all eat caviar. Assuming that the poor are too stupid to manage money is often not the case. When you have to make every dollar count, you learn budgeting. However, the poor often do make poor investors, since they are often ignorant at how to invest, due to the lack of money to save. Your friends aren't all bums from the cast of "My Fair Lady". They are just poor people like you who understand about having no money. Sometimes, they are the nicest, kindest people you'll meet, since they've been walked on by everyone else. And the apple example is horrible. I don't think the analogy has been legitimate since the great depression (if it wasn't a stereotype even then). Use the example of a factory worker making minimum wage and working under hazardous conditions who doesn't dare report it since (s)he needs the paycheck. As for the poor's contact with the legal system, its probably more in the context of seeing you ex screw you out of child support and calling the police when something disappears from your home and having them show up 5 hours later, ask two questions, and leave, never to be heard from again. If they show up at all. And if you think the police will come quickly when your neighbor (the one with the phone, unlike you) calls the police because someone is being abusive, think again. They really don't want to be involved.

    Most people use the term "poor" and "poverty" without realizing what it means. Most people don't know how limiting and horrible poverty really is. I'm not sure if you can understand poverty if you never experienced and never knew anyone who did.

Thank you! Exactly the rant I needed! (none / 0) (#113)
by leonbrooks on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 12:32:20 PM EST

If the article hadn't gone nova in under 6 hours, I'd include some of your comments in it. Many posters here think that no internet is poor, the no-telephone example might wake some up. (-: Certainly Mr I-really-thought-this-one-through slothamn's megabuck income cap needs a reality check.

The apple example was carefully chosen to be highly stereotypical. Not all poor people play the lottery, but many more of them do than of richer people and they can less afford to. The examples were again chosen to typify rather than be universal.

I do have one gripe about your contribution, though, which I'll address in reply to this my post.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Education (4.00 / 1) (#114)
by leonbrooks on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 12:46:56 PM EST

So, whats the best way of escaping poverty? Education. Although the parents might be trapped in a life of poverty, it is possible, in America, to gain a college education if you are lucky.

Education as such is a brilliant idea, a wonderful although not universal cure for poverty (any widely applicable cure will have several essential ingrediants). Education through our current system as an escape from poverty is a very poor idea because that system is designed to limit people. In fact, some people explicitly advise against attending school if you want real financial success.

Nevertheless, I have read of (no reference, would be much obliged if someone provides one for me) a businessman standing up to tell a class of schoolchildren how to be successful... in a poor spanish-speaking district in a US city. Scanning row upon row of hopeless faces in that crowded classroom, something broke inside him, and he simply announced that he would pay the college fees of any student in the room who achieved an honest pass mark. Some huge percentage (98?) of the children did.

Obviously, the mere possibility of a better future completely trumped any inadequacies of environment, race, schooling system, whatever.

Sadly, this could not be done wholesale. The effect would be to destroy the self-worth of the participants as effectively as the self-worth of many Australian people called Aboriginals already has been by a protracted handout system. Aboriginals-at-heart call these angry, resentful, hopeless people ``coconuts'' or ``rainbows'' because they are either only dark on the outside, or don't know what colour to be. Nevertheless, I think the businessman's philanthropy shows us a key part of a solution.

I dearly hope that we can find and use enough of the pieces to make a difference.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Absolutely!! (4.00 / 1) (#129)
by Robogop on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 02:17:35 PM EST

One of the problems America has as a country is the notion that everyone should a nice house on the corner, two cars in the garage, and 2.4 kids. This will not happen no matter how much money we throw at people with less than the average salary. It bothers me to see money taxed from me to go to people who are not truly poor but just at a lower income level than me.

There was a time in America when receiving handouts from the government was stigmatized and looked down upon. Only the truly desparate (disable, widowed, etc) would actually take the assistance.

Now we have a nation on the take from the goverment and we ask what else can we do for them? How about weening them from welfare system, providing only goverment assistance to the truly needy, and seeing how many "poor" do quite fine without the "help" of our goverment?

[ Parent ]
Good idea, but who bells the cat? (none / 0) (#134)
by leonbrooks on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 03:06:46 PM EST

How about we[a]ning them from welfare system, providing only goverment assistance to the truly needy, and seeing how many "poor" do quite fine without the "help" of our goverment?

I like this idea; but... how would you qualify recipients? How would you justify this action in terms of (1) getting re-elected; and (2) the necessary legislation itself surviving an election?
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

cheap apartment (4.00 / 1) (#139)
by anonymous cowerd on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 05:30:08 PM EST

Poverty is not having enough to eat. Poverty is hunger.

So far so good, you got that right, but then you go on to say:

Poverty is living in a cheap apartment or trailer house.

Jesus Christ, I remember when I moved into this cheap apartment (the landlord didn't fix the heater all winter) on Richmond Street in Dunedin, I really thought I was sitting on top of the world. I had recently finally scored a full-time job, at a good 125% of minimum wage, with the glimmer of a promise of an eventual promotion and raise! My twelve year old car actually ran more than ninety-five percent of the time! One time when I got sick I actually could afford to go to a real live doctor!

Poverty, pal, is not living in a nice cozy rainproof trailer. The word for that is luxury. Poverty is going to sleep hungry under a fucking overpass, and being rousted out of your sleep and told to move on by a fucking County Sheriff. Not to brag too much, but I got an overall score of 1580 on my SATs in high school, yet I've gotten to experience that.

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

the Earth's blue as an orange
[ Parent ]

An explanation (none / 0) (#147)
by dasunt on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 09:21:34 PM EST

Being homeless is worse then having a cheap apartment or trailer house, but I still stand by my viewpoint - being poor is not being able to afford proper housing.

Proper housing has some mechanism for maintaining a livable temperature. Proper housing affords protection from the elements. Proper housing has clean water and sanitary plumbing. Proper housing is not a safety hazard due to poor wiring or structural problems. If your income doesn't let you afford proper housing, then you are poor.

Its like being starving, and then receiving enough food simply to be malnurished. The extra food is going to seem like Christmas to you, but you are still poor.

[ Parent ]

Re: What poverty is... (none / 0) (#198)
by aetius3 on Sat May 05, 2001 at 06:16:57 PM EST

Dude, you don't know the meaning of the word. Lets try this again:

Poverty is about seeing a twenty year old rusting Ford truck with three wheels as an incredible luxury, since no one you know has ever been in a car, let alone thought about owning one. Poverty is about having to actually hunt and kill your own food in that 40 degree windchill, not whisk on down to the grocery store (what's that?). Poverty is about a really bad winter killing thirty percent of the people you know, not causing an inconvenience. Poverty is about watching your whole village dying agonizing deaths from ebola and being totally powerless to stop it. Bus service? Public Programs? What are those?

Poverty isn't about not having enough to eat -- real poverty is about not having *anything* to eat. There are people in this world who would kill for one mouthful of what someone has as a street person in the U.S. today. Living on $2 a day? Hah! Try $2 a month -- or a year. Try living on what you can hunt, grow, and forage for yourself. What's a restaurant? What's ground beef? Is that some kind of meat you get off of the ground?

Poverty is about not having any clothes at all, and having to cobble something together out of whatever is handy (leaves, etc) or going naked. There are also people who would kill to have the kind of clothes that poor people in the U.S. throw away, since just about anything from a factory is better that what you can make yourself. Washing things in the sink would imply running water, which a good portion of the people in the world don't have. How about never washing things, or only doing so in a creek, river, or the ocean?

Poverty is about living in a cave or in a hut you built yourself. What's rent? For that matter, what's money? Poverty is about living outside, subject the whims of nature and the whims of your fellow man. What's a landlord? Oh right - he's the guy who killed several people in the village and forced you and the rest to work on his farms, without pay and under threat of death -- and then forced you to fight (and likely die) for him when his neighbor decides that those farms rightfully belong to him. How about the only security you know of is the guy who beats you and forces you to work as a slave? What's a job interview?

Poverty is about not having any money at all, and possibly never having seen any money, not merely having small amounts of it. Movies? Cable? Radio? That would imply having a TV or radio, which is something your village leader had, and you all used to gather around once a week to listen to the news (full of static) from the capital city. It broke four years ago (or was it five? No calendar, can't really keep track well) and you've been in the dark since, except when soldiers come through your village and tell stories.

Shortly put, if you think anyone in the U.S. is poor, you need a major wake-up call. The poorest of our poor live better than a good portion of the world. Any time you want to see real poverty, head to Western Turkey, Northern Siberia, various African nations, Kazahkstan, or any of another hundred places. Real poverty means that if things go just a bit bad for you, you end up dead, starved or killed. It sort of puts things in perspective.



[ Parent ]
high interest and insurance rates (3.50 / 2) (#79)
by ksm on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 12:50:29 PM EST

When you are marked high risk by lenders it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. With rates as high as 25% being offered to people who don't have the jobs to handle such debts... it helps to keep people exactly where they are.

The insurance rates on items such as cars and on housing, discourage the purchasing of them. Making it harder for someone in poverty to provide themselves with a proper safety net.



I agree with the topic (2.10 / 10) (#81)
by slothman on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 02:22:07 PM EST

Just because you were poor and became middle-class does not mean that anybody can do it. I think rich people should be taxed idioticly high like 90% and limit the yearly salary to 1 million dollars, while poor people should be taxed nil. If you tax one 2 million yearly salary person 1 million dollars how many $10,000 yearly salary peoples tax would that equal?

Progressive tax plan (3.42 / 7) (#84)
by fluffy grue on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 03:00:03 PM EST

That sounds a lot like Ralph Nader's progressive tax proposal. Unfortunately, Nader always sets the cutoff too low ($100k) - I mean, $100k/year is more than enough for someone to live on, but it sounds pathological. Your $1M is a much more psychologically-reasonable limit.

That said, I also believe that charitable contributions should be 100% tax-deductible, up to, say, 95% of one's income tax. After all, the idea behind taxes is that it's enforcing giving up your income so that the rest of the world can do well - charitable contributions are doing the same thing, only the person making the contribution is saying where they want the money to go.
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

that's not morally defensible. (2.60 / 5) (#92)
by Shren on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 05:22:12 PM EST

That's only morally defensible if you accept that the sole justifable use of one's excess income is to serve the state and it's citizens. How would someone ever save up enough money to start a buisness under such a authoritarian plan?

Actually, you are scaling your tax plan not by what the government needs to run itself, but by what someone can afford to pay. "Squeeze them a little tighter! They're rich!" That's *not* in any way morally defensible. The government would become even more of a criminal protection racket ("give us money and we won't throw you in a cell") than it already is. At that point it stops being "tax what we need" and becomes "tax every cent they can bear". It'd solve the population problem, however, because people would leave.

[ Parent ]

You should hand all you money to me... (none / 0) (#102)
by darthaggie on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 08:26:31 PM EST

I think rich people should be taxed idioticly high like 90% and limit the yearly salary to 1 million dollars, while poor people should be taxed nil. If you tax one 2 million yearly salary person 1 million dollars how many $10,000 yearly salary peoples tax would that equal?

I take it you don't make money, or that you never expect to be rich. Let us take an example, shall we?

Alex Rodriguez is being paid US$25.2 million per year, with a 10 year contract to play baseball. A-Rod's don't grow on apple trees -- I can't play as well as he, and neither can you. Neither of us can hit as well, nor can we put fans in the seats.

And that, my friend, is why he's been judged worthy of that salary -- if he brings enough fans to the Ballpark at Arlington (more specifically, enough people to the area shops), his salary will be well spent money.

By what right do you demand his money that he's earned because he's able to use his talents most effectively?

I am BOFH. Resistance is futile. Your network will be assimilated.
[ Parent ]

You should hand all you money to me... (none / 0) (#200)
by el_chicano on Sun May 06, 2001 at 12:44:44 PM EST

Alex Rodriguez is being paid US$25.2 million per year... And that, my friend, is why he's been judged worthy of that salary...
You are talking about a salary that is partially paid for by tax incentives given by local and state governments to private ballclubs to build multi-million dollar playpens? Your argument would hold more water if sports were truly a free market, but with the anti-trust exemption that Major League Baseball enjoys you can't argue A-Rod's salary is based on his value in a free and open market...

[ Parent ]
Taxes (4.00 / 1) (#103)
by sigwinch on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 08:44:51 PM EST

I think rich people should be taxed idioticly high like 90% and limit the yearly salary to 1 million dollars, while poor people should be taxed nil. If you tax one 2 million yearly salary person 1 million dollars how many $10,000 yearly salary peoples tax would that equal?
Making the tax rate curve too steep is deadly: it penalizes people for productivity. You can whine about the idle rich all you want, but there are plenty of people who are worth million-dollar salaries. It takes an usual kind of person to run a large industrial or commercial business, and the risks are considerable not just to the company but to the surrounding economy they support. I've even seen this hurt a ~$100k/year enterpreneur, who took a $5k contract only to see a tax increase of almost $5k, which is a pretty foolish thing for the gov't. to do.

A proper progressive tax doesn't penalize the rich: it unburdens the less wealthy from taxes they can ill afford. And even at the lower income levels, keeping a small tax is good to remind them they are still part of the system, and also to avoid the stigma of given them a free ride.

If you tax one 2 million yearly salary person 1 million dollars how many $10,000 yearly salary peoples tax would that equal?
But if you didn't tax the $2M person $1M, what would they do with the $1M? I'll bet that very little of the $1M would sit around as cash. Much of it would be invested, providing capital for a variety of business ventures and personal acquisitions. (When you buy a $75,000 house on a 30 year mortgage, someone has decided they don't particularly need a whopping big pile of money for a considerable fraction of a human lifetime.) The rest of it is spent on luxuries, like yachts and stereos and servants, thus providing jobs to other people.

I see taxes as just an accounting convention for determining gov't. spending. There are other methods for setting gov't. spending limits, but they tend to be worse than taxation. Slavery, for example, tends to be unpopular these days. Printing money tends to devalue the money of the poor fastest, plus there are traps like printing more money than can be spent (a favorite way for totalitarian gov'ts. to flush their economies down the toilet).

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Think about what you are saying. (none / 0) (#130)
by Robogop on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 02:23:16 PM EST

If I can make as much as I want I have an incentive to work. If I am limited in what I make and am taxed outrageously on what I earn why should I do the same work? If I currently earn a billion a year and am limited to making 2 million what happens to the $400 million I would currently be taxed? And then on top of that you would tax me 50% of the reduced income? Think about this again - without the upperclass our government would not have the tax money to implement any social programs. If you really want to help the poor, reduce income tax on the upper class and let them make (and spend!) as much as they can.

[ Parent ]
incentive (none / 0) (#196)
by marx on Thu May 03, 2001 at 09:34:00 PM EST

Why stop at excessive money as incentive though? If work encouragement is the most important thing in society, maybe we should provide some stronger incentives. For example, I'm sure a productive programmer would appreciate a small harem of sex slaves to even more money. This could even provide a synergistic effect in that it would reduce sexual tension as well, and could provide a useful occupation for all those third world young girls who obviously are not working hard enough, since they're so poor. Why should I work harder if I can't have my sex slaves?

No? Why is your idea better than mine? If you start babbling about human rights, remember that the right of decent housing, food, medical care, job etc. are all part of the declaration of human rights. If you refuse to provide these basic rights to people, only to provide this incentive to other people, why not violate some more while you're at it?

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

90% tax on success idea incredibly short-sighted (none / 0) (#206)
by golek on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 01:19:27 PM EST

And what incentive will there be for anyone to take the risk to start a business and hire people (some who may even be considered "poor")? Under the tax regime you suggest, if one becomes too successful they might be classified as "rich" and the government will proceed to tax the business into bankruptcy and its employees into unemployment.

The answer is no one will. Then everyone will be poor and dependent on government for a job, since there will be no entrepreneurs starting businesses and hiring people. The paradox is that there will also be little wealth to be redistributed to the ever-growing ranks of "the poor" and therefore the government will have to find ways to generate wealth. Maybe they could take over some of the manufacturing centers that have been abandoned by bankrupt companies and put the poor to work there making light bulbs or something. Of course, these enterprises will be horribly inefficient due to the fact that there is little incentive to work hard and all the people with drive and good business sense have all left the country in search of opportunity and economic freedom, to be replaced by political cronies of the powers that be.

You're philosophy is not new. It has been implemented all over the world with disasterous results.

[ Parent ]

ALL YOU PEOPLE ARE MISSING THE POINT! (3.00 / 7) (#98)
by cryon on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 06:33:52 PM EST

"Poor" can be definition never go away in ANY human society! Or least any human society as we know it. "Poor" is defined as those who have less. In any human society those who have less are poor(excluding perhaps some comunist societies in a limited respect). You may tell a person to get educated and better themselves, and they indeed may do, and even become rich--BUT THEY DO SO AT THE EXPENSE OF SOMEONE ELSE!!!

For every rise, there is a fall. Zero sum. (excluding technology & engineering that benefits us all).

Therefore by definition, there will always be the poor in human society, just as there are always low status, medium status, and high status animals in most animal societies.
HTGS75OBEY21IRTYG54564ACCEPT64AUTHORITY41V KKJWQKHD23CONSUME78GJHGYTMNQYRTY74SLEEP38H TYTR32CONFORM12GNIYIPWG64VOTER4APATHY42JLQ TYFGB64MONEY3IS4YOUR7GOD62MGTSB21CONFORM34 SDF53MARRY6AND2REPRODUCE534TYWHJZKJ34OBEY6

Zero-sum: garbage! (5.00 / 1) (#112)
by pavlos on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 11:09:14 AM EST

The assertion that one becomes rich at the expense of someone else is correct, but the assertion that it is all a zero-sum situation is baseless.

The political and economic structre of a society defines (very indirectly, but also very strongly) the relative numbers or rich and poor and their relative living standards.

For example, in a communist country you have a relatively uniform medium or low income. In a western capitalist society you have maybe 20% with middle-class income and prospects, 60%-70% stagnant working class, and 10-20% in real trouble. In a third world corrupt state you have maybe 1-5% of a powerful class and the rest are very poor.

Now, this will surely get many replies alledging that a capitalist society is not as I described and in fact 70%-80% can be "rich" if they worked at it. Really? If everyone were rich who would wait at tables? Factory workers would demand high wages, making clothes and cars expensive, so that doctors and managers are relatively less rich. On the other hand, overall well-being might improve.

So, it is indeed a zero-sum game in a political system that does not chage. It is not a zero-sum game in that we can (hopefully) modify the political system to make it more or less hierarchical, and that would affect the well being of people in a non-zero-sum way.

Pavlos

[ Parent ]

Cogito zero sum? (Zero Summers all please read) (5.00 / 1) (#117)
by leonbrooks on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 12:59:24 PM EST

For every rise, there is a fall.

Bollocks.

If your proposition reflected reality, only accidents of geology and geography would distinguish societies. The OPEC countries are an example of this effect. But there are many countries with squat by way of resources and a wealthy population, and others sitting on a goldmine and starving.

No sale.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Capitalism is Negative Sum (none / 0) (#142)
by fsh on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 06:53:43 PM EST

Negative Sum for the worker, that is. Positive Sum, of course, for the ruling class. The people who own the capital, the capitalists, exploit the labor of the workers (wage slaves), to garner profit for themselves. The natural tendancy of any capitalist society is for the rich to become richer (positive sum) and the poor to become poorer (negative sum). A slow steady inflation is necessary to blind the populace to this fact, but most 'raises' are right at the rate of inflation, and, thus, necessary. If you receive a raise that is not greater than the rate of inflation, your pay has effectively been docked.


-fsh
[ Parent ]

Don't make them richer, just let them live. (3.40 / 5) (#99)
by piman on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 07:05:11 PM EST

It seems to me the article isn't another "Let's fix the poverty problem" discussion, but rather a prompt for the question "Given the fact poor people will always exist, how can we prevent them from being too poor to live?"

Poor will always exist; some will always have less, or need to work harder, whether by virtue of less useful or common talents, laziness, or biological reasons such as mental retardation or something that demands expensive medical treatment. The issue instead is that our society is designed to make sure poor people are not only poor, but are constantly forced to become more poor, to the point where they cannot afford to live.

The obvious solution, of course, is to buy the apples from the street vendor rather than the grocery store, and to continue doing such things on a larger scale, and to reform the laws against such actions - which, unfortunately, is much easier said than done.

98% would do fine (none / 0) (#116)
by leonbrooks on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 12:55:25 PM EST

the article isn't another "Let's fix the poverty problem" discussion

Ah, a hairsplitter.

No, you won't cure all poverty in the same way that you won't get 100% pure bulk gold. Diminishing returns. But the current returns seriously suck. The article is intended to prompt discussion on ways and means of moving the ``near starving'' line down to a few percent.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

It's all about money (2.66 / 3) (#110)
by Punikki on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 04:16:13 AM EST

How about a state grant(ok, this takes a lot of work to evaluate and needs competent people to decide if it should be given) of say, 2500 USD, for starting a new business? How about a tax break for starting companies? How about 100% free education on all levels throughout people's lives. Adult education, zero cost.

It's all about money (none / 0) (#199)
by el_chicano on Sun May 06, 2001 at 12:28:51 PM EST

How about 100% free education on all levels throughout people's lives. Adult education, zero cost.
In the U.S., that would require that society value education over everything else, and that is not going to happen. Now education means 12 years of training to get a job, and if you are really lucky another 4 years of training and a better job. For most people, once they have that job further education is irrelevant.

I am lucky because as a Texas veteran, I get free college tuition/fees because I ran out of VA benefits. The funny thing about this is that previous to the last legislative term, it was on an unlimited basis. However, in the name of cost-cutting the state limited the benefits to 150 semester hours.

I say that is funny because the reason legislators gave for putting the semester hour limit is because they want veterans to get a degree so that they can get a job, not to go to school indefinitely. Any veteran who wants to go to school just to go to school was accused of being a freeloader and a drain of tax resources!

Nevermind the fact that my parents paid plenty of taxes over their working careers and that I am currently paying all sorts taxes myself. Not to mention the two years I sacrificed serving my country in the Army. Nope, I want something from the state so I must be a freeloading bum!

It is hard to keep learning when the system puts up all kinds of roadblocks in front of people seeking more education. You know the system is seriously broken when it treats education in terms of dollars and cents instead of a search for truth and knowledge...

[ Parent ]
What I Learned in School (2.57 / 7) (#118)
by espo812 on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 01:13:38 PM EST

Yesterday, I learned that Sam Walton's heir is the richest man in the world. And his heir isn't Gates or Allen. Sam Walton started Wall-Mart. His buisness began by selling things out of the back of his truck. So yes, it is apparent that the poor can indeed become rich.

espo
--
Censorship is un-American.
A very small percentage (5.00 / 2) (#141)
by fsh on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 06:38:46 PM EST

If Wal-Mart is a human success story, then I'm ashamed to be a human being.

Please keep in mind that Mr. Walton acheived his phenomenal 'success' in large part due to predatory business practices, just like Gates did. Such great tactics as: draining ecologically vital wetlands (cheaper land); after convincing small towns to drastically upgrade sewer/water/electricity in one section of town for the new supercenter, forcing them to reduce those same rates to incredibly low levels under threat of leaving (nobody needs the same amount of space, etc., as a Wal-Mart). And let's not even talk about the way they treat their slaves, er, employees (middle management, for instance, has to work at least 50 hrs/week, oftentimes as much as 60-70; also, they push their 'profit-sharing' options on their employees most when just before they take a big stock hit). It's easy to become rich when you don't mind exploiting your wage slaves.

So yes, it is apparent that the poor can indeed become rich.
The problem with this sort of statement is that you only ever hear about the successes. You never hear about the poor who worked their asses off for years and still never accomplished anything, and you never hear about the well-to-do, middle class people who worked their asses off and then got screwed by a slump in the economy. While I certainly agree that *some* people can pull themselves out of poverty, I vehemently disagree that *all* people can pull themselves out of poverty.


-fsh
[ Parent ]

Do I have to prove the sky is blue, too? (1.00 / 1) (#126)
by cryon on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 01:59:30 PM EST

Well, this is obvious to anyone who is older and has spent a lifetime learning about a wide variety of things. If you are young, or if you are old and successful in your career, you can forget staying with me as a generalist. You will have specialized. No chance....
HTGS75OBEY21IRTYG54564ACCEPT64AUTHORITY41V KKJWQKHD23CONSUME78GJHGYTMNQYRTY74SLEEP38H TYTR32CONFORM12GNIYIPWG64VOTER4APATHY42JLQ TYFGB64MONEY3IS4YOUR7GOD62MGTSB21CONFORM34 SDF53MARRY6AND2REPRODUCE534TYWHJZKJ34OBEY6

oops (none / 0) (#128)
by cryon on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 02:03:49 PM EST

this was in response to the person who asked me to prove that humans are pack animals
HTGS75OBEY21IRTYG54564ACCEPT64AUTHORITY41V KKJWQKHD23CONSUME78GJHGYTMNQYRTY74SLEEP38H TYTR32CONFORM12GNIYIPWG64VOTER4APATHY42JLQ TYFGB64MONEY3IS4YOUR7GOD62MGTSB21CONFORM34 SDF53MARRY6AND2REPRODUCE534TYWHJZKJ34OBEY6

[ Parent ]
Actually, it's not (none / 0) (#132)
by leonbrooks on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 02:41:47 PM EST

Do I have to prove the sky is blue, too?

The sky is not blue in a pollution-free locale (it's black, check for yourself by looking down a roll from the middle of plastic wrap or tinfoil, this is why a solar tracker is more useful in outback Oz than in Lancastershire); nor is it blue at sunset, sunrise, in a polluted locale (try brown, ugh) or on most other planets.

Well, this is obvious

Generally, this is a prefix which means ``I haven't really thought about it, but...'' - and there's no clear indication that this is not one of those cases.

Please reply to the original posting, don't start a new one. Poor form, that man.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

what year is it? (4.46 / 13) (#135)
by anonymous cowerd on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 03:18:52 PM EST

All this depends, more than anything else, on what year it is. I fear that there are an awful lot of younger readers here at K5, who have never in their working careers experienced unemployment rates like those in 1982 or even 1992, and in their awfullest niightmares they never saw unemployment rates - twenty-five, thirty percent! - like the U.S. experienced in 1931.

So imagine for example that it's 1972 when you stumble out of your tenth-rate high school and your dismal childhood home (where your Dad drank booze all day and your Mom slapped you around regularly - in other words, unlike, say, our current U.S. president, you've got no family insider line to set you up with a nice position with no effort on your part). 1972 was when that economy-stimulating Vietnam war was closing out and the layoffs from the arms plants were clogging the job market with workers who were more experienced - hence, preferable - than you. Right around the corner is an Arab oil embargo that's about to deal another strong blow to the employment rate. And of course there's a Republican in the White House, whose party's slogan is "Fuck the poor!" And not just any Republican, but Richard Nixon, one who hates everybody under thirty with a wild, mad, paranoiac loathing... Well, things might not work out so well for you; it might take several years before you can even score a steady entry-level job that pays enough to put a roof over your head and keep you fed. The problem being that until they invent cheap cold-storage for teenagers, you can't wait several years for your next meal. Fortunately, though the legitimate job market is a wasteland, there's a thriving black market selling dope, and comfy culverts and concrete overpasses to sleep under when it rains.

Suppose you hit the job market, with those same non-qualifications as above and the same sort of absence of the insider line, in June 1981. There's another Republican in the White House; a richer, stupider, more callous one who can't for the life of him remember not being fairly rich and famous. He himself is an actor and his head is as empty as a Bell jar, but that doesn't mean that his administration doesn't have policies, it's just that you don't get to see the string-pullers who create those policies and write the phony-baloney scripts the figurehead reads so glibly off the Teleprompter. Well, buddy, you are sure in the wrong place at the wrong time, 'cause the guys on whose knee President Charlie McCarthy sits are planning on inflicting a ten-percent-plus unemployment rate on those bonds-destroying workies for the whole next year. But don't take my word for it. Take the Bureau of Labor Statistics' word for it. Here is a chart showing unemployment on a month by month basis from 1969 to last month.

year jan feb mar apr may jun jul aug sep oct nov dec
1969 3.4 3.4 3.4 3.4 3.4 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.7 3.7 3.5 3.5
1970 3.9 4.2 4.4 4.6 4.8 4.9 5.0 5.1 5.4 5.5 5.9 6.1
1971 5.9 5.9 6.0 5.9 5.9 5.9 6.0 6.1 6.0 5.8 6.0 6.0
1972 5.8 5.7 5.8 5.7 5.7 5.7 5.6 5.6 5.5 5.6 5.3 5.2
1973 4.9 5.0 4.9 5.0 4.9 4.9 4.8 4.8 4.8 4.6 4.8 4.9
1974 5.1 5.2 5.1 5.1 5.1 5.4 5.5 5.5 5.9 6.0 6.6 7.2
1975 8.1 8.1 8.6 8.8 9.0 8.8 8.6 8.4 8.4 8.4 8.3 8.2
1976 7.9 7.7 7.6 7.7 7.4 7.6 7.8 7.8 7.6 7.7 7.8 7.8
1977 7.5 7.6 7.4 7.2 7.0 7.2 6.9 7.0 6.8 6.8 6.8 6.4
1978 6.4 6.3 6.3 6.1 6.0 5.9 6.2 5.9 6.0 5.8 5.9 6.0
1979 5.9 5.9 5.8 5.8 5.6 5.7 5.7 6.0 5.9 6.0 5.9 6.0
1980 6.3 6.3 6.3 6.9 7.5 7.6 7.8 7.7 7.5 7.5 7.5 7.2
1981 7.5 7.4 7.4 7.2 7.5 7.5 7.2 7.4 7.6 7.9 8.3 8.5
1982 8.6 8.9 9.0 9.3 9.4 9.6 9.8 9.8 10.1 10.4 10.8 10.8
1983 10.4 10.4 10.3 10.2 10.1 10.1 9.4 9.5 9.2 8.8 8.5 8.3
1984 8.0 7.8 7.8 7.7 7.4 7.2 7.5 7.5 7.3 7.4 7.2 7.3
1985 7.3 7.2 7.2 7.3 7.2 7.4 7.4 7.1 7.1 7.1 7.0 7.0
1986 6.7 7.2 7.2 7.1 7.2 7.2 7.0 6.9 7.0 7.0 6.9 6.6
1987 6.6 6.6 6.6 6.3 6.3 6.2 6.1 6.0 5.9 6.0 5.8 5.7
1988 5.7 5.7 5.7 5.4 5.6 5.4 5.4 5.6 5.4 5.4 5.3 5.3
1989 5.4 5.2 5.0 5.2 5.2 5.3 5.2 5.2 5.3 5.3 5.4 5.4
1990 5.4 5.3 5.2 5.4 5.4 5.2 5.5 5.7 5.9 5.9 6.2 6.3
1991 6.4 6.6 6.8 6.7 6.9 6.9 6.8 6.9 6.9 7.0 7.0 7.3
1992 7.3 7.4 7.4 7.4 7.6 7.8 7.7 7.6 7.6 7.3 7.4 7.4
1993 7.3 7.1 7.0 7.1 7.1 7.0 6.9 6.8 6.7 6.8 6.6 6.5
1994 6.6 6.6 6.5 6.4 6.1 6.1 6.1 6.0 5.9 5.8 5.6 5.5
1995 5.6 5.4 5.4 5.8 5.6 5.6 5.7 5.7 5.6 5.5 5.6 5.6
1996 5.6 5.5 5.5 5.6 5.6 5.3 5.5 5.1 5.2 5.2 5.4 5.4
1997 5.3 5.3 5.2 5.1 4.9 5.0 4.9 4.8 4.9 4.7 4.6 4.7
1998 4.7 4.6 4.7 4.4 4.4 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.4 4.4
1999 4.3 4.4 4.2 4.4 4.2 4.3 4.3 4.2 4.2 4.1 4.1 4.1
2000 4.0 4.1 4.0 4.0 4.1 4.0 4.0 4.1 3.9 3.9 4.0 4.0
2001 4.2 4.2 4.3

(Dammit, where's the Courier? I put "code" tags around it!)

There's this concept, the type of thing that naturally springs into the swinish minds of rich so-called "conservatives," called "the natural rate of unemployment," or acronym-wise, "NRU." According to this notion, there are a certain percentage of those smelly lower orders who are simply incapable of holding down a steady job. Nothing can be done for them because they are just inherently too inferior. According to the Wall Street Journal crowd prior to about 1993, they number about six and a half percent of the current-day American labor force. What follows is that even if the U.S. economy is hitting on all eight cylinders, there still will be about a six-point-five percent unemployment rate, because any time one of these chronic losers manages to temporarily land a job, another one will have been laid off on grounds of incompetence. That means if the demand for employees gets to be very great, so that the employment rate rises above 93.5%, there will be more job openings than workies to fill them.

This is very, very bad, as it means that employers will have to offer potential employees special inducements, such as improved pay, benefits and working conditions, merely not to lose the workies already on the payroll, never mind getting new ones for new positions. The term used by the banking cabal for this is "over-stimulated," as in "the economy is over-stimulated, so we must cool it off by raisng the Fed's prime rate." According to NRU theory, the alternative to clubbing the manic economy over the head with a rate increase to temporarily dissuade business investment, is wild, unconstrained price inflation. The theory goes, as the newly arrogant workies demand raises, their beleaguered employers must pass on their increased expenses to their customers by way of price increases; the workie mob, who now see the cost of commodities rise, demand yet greater wages and in a seller's market for labor are able to enforce these demands, and we enter a loop of general inflation, which fatally destroys the value of the bonds and securities where the all-inportant rich have secreted the greatest part of the wealth that is synonymous with their personal puissance.

To me, the most interesting part of that chart above is that the Clinton administration was able to lean on the Fed to the extent that the Fed, with great and tremulous forebodings, ignored their duty to hobble the economy back in mid-1994 when the unemployment rate dropped fearsomely beneath the NRU. As I said, the investors's consensus, as I read it daily in the WSJ, was that this neglect meant ruinous price inflation was waiting right around the corner; it's time, so they said, to fire up those factories which produces President Ford's "Whip Inflation Now" lapel buttons, and to stock up dry food and small-arms ammo in the survival cellar. Gee, I guess the mega-inflation never happened, right? I guess the investing class overestimated the degree of worthlessness of the working class - an understandable error, though, as none of the higher class ever associate personally with members of that malodorous lower class.

I'll always wonder, though I suppose I'll never know, what varieties of pressure, bribes, threats and blackmail Bill Clinton applied to Alan Greenspan et cie. to force them to drop their fixed policy of diddling the Fed rates to keep the unemployment number above six-and-a-half. Note the beginning of an upturn even during the very first months of the business-friendly but worker-hostile Dubya administration. Well, a lot of working class fools voted for that moron, so I guess they'll only get the thrashing the stupid naturally deserve; too bad for the rest of us, most especially those poor kids who are in about the tenth grade today.

May all your children reach the age when they must first enter the job market during a Democratic administration.

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

the Earth's blue as an orange

Interesting rant, new poll option? (none / 0) (#155)
by leonbrooks on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 07:50:28 AM EST

Perhaps I should have added ``Abolish the Gummint'' to the poll options? (-:
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]
Capitalism requires poverty (4.85 / 7) (#148)
by pavlos on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 10:56:40 PM EST

The original story makes some observations to the effect that capitalism perpetuates poverty. For example poorer people are more likely to pay rent, or get into debt, have insufficient education, or lack the resources to start a business.

The general idea is that there is a causal link from capitalism, if not to poverty then at least to relative inequality. If you already have money it's easier to get more money than if you don't. I don't think this is being contested, and I'm not saying it's the only thing capitalism does.

Now, many people have asked questions like "how can this cycle of poverty be broken?", or "what could be done to solve this perplexing problem?", or even "why don't they just pull themselves out of it, like my uncle?".

They seem to be missing the point that capitalsm requires a social hierarchy, and currently this means poverty at the bottom. This is what defines the wealth of the upper class. Having poverty is quite a deliberate effect of capitalism (insofar as one can ascribe intent to such things) and will not go away without either a social fight or some change of the basic parameters, like technology.

The important point is that poverty is necessary for the absolute, not just the relative wealth of the wealthy. It is not that the wealthy have an irrational desire to be wealthier than others (though some surely do) but that they require the work af an army of poor people to sustain their wealthy levels of consumption.

Wealth means being able to eat in nice restaurants, buy cars and other recreational goods, travel a lot, live in a large and attractive house. This means that waiters, factory workers, airline and hotel staff, and construction workers need to work to make these things. If all these other people were equally wealthy, the cost of their work would go up. Those who are currently wealthy would not be able to afford such a luxurious lifestyle.

As a though experiment, think of the lifestyle of a middle class professional, such as a programmer. Say the programmer works 60 hours a week (terrible working hours, these programmers). How many hours of other people's work does it take to produce the food, transportation, goods, etc. that the programmer consumes in a week? 100? 200? 500? Clearly if all of these people were paid the same as a programmer, our programmer could afford only 60 hours worth of consumption.

I honestly don't see what blindness affects those who say "why don't the poor just work and become rich". Sure, there are plenty of chances for a poor person to become rich, and many do, but they can't be thinking that all the poor people can become rich at the same time. Who would then wait at tables?

It is a positive effect of capitalism that it motivates people, mainly by the threat of poverty, and so goods and services get produced. It is also a positive effect that people do have some chance to change their social class. It is a third positive effect that there is something like a 20-30% of the population who lives comfortably, which is much better than, say, feudalism. This latter effect is what causes people to say "Everyone can do it, I and my middle class friends did".

Capitalism does not promise, or even plausibly suggest, a society where everyone is reasonably wealthy, no one is poor, and the economy is self-sufficient. We have never seen such a society in known history. Athens and Rome had slaves and no rights for women. European colonial powers abused the people of the third world to sustain their luxury (Britain was relatively fair, it treated its own working class like shit too). The present United States depends on the unfairly cheap labour and resources of the third world, as well as its own poor.

Such a society could happen, but I think it would require either a more fair political and economic system, or a rise in absolute production of wealth (such as by technology) or both. The sad fact is that capitalism seems quite capable of preventing advances like technology from improving the overall standard of living.

Pavlos

Direct links, efficiency, positive feedback (4.00 / 1) (#154)
by leonbrooks on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 07:45:41 AM EST

The general idea is that there is a causal link from capitalism, if not to poverty then at least to relative inequality.

You're off down a false trail. The article neither says nor implies this. The opportunity to stay poor was much stronger in Stalinist ``Communist'' Russia, for example. AFAICT, all large societies have this apparent bug.

they can't be thinking that all the poor people can become rich at the same time. Who would then wait at tables?

They surely can! People who enjoyed waiting or at least enjoyed the restaurant atmosphere would be doing it. Restaurant meals would be relatively more expensive, the waiters better paid and almost certainly better treated.

One way to help achieve this kind of thing as a society is to waste less money on short-lifetime disposable junk, poorly engineered (wasteful) devices, and fads. Then the people who manufactured things like cars, toasters and clothes would find that their wages were a smaller part of the cost of the device, so it wouldn't hit the retail price as much if they were paid more. And they would need to be paid more, since they would need to do a better job (make a more reliable toaster or better-stitched clothing) in order to compete effectively.

How you would convince consumers in general to do this, and manufacturers that they want better stuff up front, I don't (yet) know. But making people richer is a positive-feedback part of it, because poor people can't afford to buy better stuff (and in the long term, they would be wealthier if they could, so would then be more able to afford the better gear in the first place, chicken-and-egg).
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Agreement, clarifications (4.50 / 2) (#161)
by pavlos on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 10:32:05 AM EST

he opportunity to stay poor was much stronger in Stalinist ``Communist'' Russia, for example. AFAICT, all large societies have this apparent bug.

Yes, I agree. I only meant that capitalism has this effect, not that it has it more or less than other systems. I shouldn't have included this paragraph as it confuses the issue.

(Descriptions on how a generally wealthy society would work)

I also think that such a society would work in itself, and that it would be wonderful. The problem is getting there from here, since:

  • The people who currently have an advantage (great wealth) would resist.
  • It would take a lot of persuation to convince everyone who has clawed a career out for themselves to adopt a less competitive system.

    I agree that positive feedback and efficiency tend to bring general wealth. However there is no guarantee that the current system will allow them to succeed. For example in most industries the barrier to entry is large and the situation favors large corporations over small producers. This is neither a free nor an efficient market, but rather an example of entrenched power being abused.

    I agree that making people richer is fundamentally an engine for social change as they then demand better living standards, can afford better tools, etc. However there are two problems with present-day western capitalism:

  • The western working class (maybe 60-70%) may not be getting richer but rather is stagnant or getting poorer. This is the point that the original article was trying to make. Market efficiency (I can do this job for marginally less pay) contributes to this.
  • There is a large number of poor people, mainly in the third world but also in the US, who are much poorer than the western working class. Irrespective of whether they are becoming poorer or richer, they are currently so poor that they form an extremely tempting source of cheap labor. There is little incentive to offer better pay in the west as a result.

    So, I agree with your sentiments and about the existence of positive forces. I'm just saying that current facts are a bit negative.

    Pavlos

    [ Parent ]

  • war destablizes countries ... (none / 0) (#164)
    by cryon on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 03:45:35 PM EST

    ...and that inhibits investment in those countries. That effectively decreases competition for investment capital and so those countries who are so strong that they cannot be threatened by war, profit because the investment capital flows to them.

    That is why the West has lost ground to the East. If we want to gain that back, we need to declare war on the East, and carry the battle to them. That means capital would come scurrying home to Papa.

    On age discrimination re middle aged white males, we need to sell the country on a war, and then all the youngsters would trundle off to fight, leaving all those juicy jobs to us.

    You know they will nite on it if we sell the sizzle; they always have before....
    HTGS75OBEY21IRTYG54564ACCEPT64AUTHORITY41V KKJWQKHD23CONSUME78GJHGYTMNQYRTY74SLEEP38H TYTR32CONFORM12GNIYIPWG64VOTER4APATHY42JLQ TYFGB64MONEY3IS4YOUR7GOD62MGTSB21CONFORM34 SDF53MARRY6AND2REPRODUCE534TYWHJZKJ34OBEY6

    [ Parent ]

    Oink (5.00 / 2) (#175)
    by jude on Tue May 01, 2001 at 11:47:10 AM EST

    The truest tenets of capitalism can be observed by watching pigs eat. The weak, the hesitant, or the unpopular are shoved out of the trough while the strong, the confident, and the popular have free reign to gorge.

    You are right. Capitalism requires poverty and wealth because those are the rules of the game. As long as a society believes imitating swine is the noblest goal to which it can aspire that is not going to change.

    Some people see this as "natural order" and "survival of the fittest" and defend it as such. Others think that we ourselves, and not just our technology, should advance. Social darwinism is regression, not progress, and humans should work to become something more than their dear cousins, the pigs.

    [ Parent ]
    capitalism... (none / 0) (#202)
    by bluebomber on Wed May 09, 2001 at 03:40:50 PM EST

    As a though experiment, think of the lifestyle of a middle class professional, such as a programmer. Say the programmer works 60 hours a week (terrible working hours, these programmers). How many hours of other people's work does it take to produce the food, transportation, goods, etc. that the programmer consumes in a week? 100? 200? 500? Clearly if all of these people were paid the same as a programmer, our programmer could afford only 60 hours worth of consumption.

    Two responses:
    1. As a thought experiment, think of how few people would be employed if your theoretical middle-class-professional-programmer did not consume 500 person-hours worth of goods and services. (Note that the airline staff and auto-factory workers are not exactly working for slave wages. Also note that most of the auto-factory workers themselves own automobiles -- does this make them "evil consumers, exploiting the working class"?)
    2. I think you are confusing being "wealthy" with being "rich". The distinction may be artificial, but I want to at least use it to illustrate my point (argue about my choice of vocabulary separately if you must). If you are wealthy and you continue to be wealthy, then you (by definition) consume less than you earn. Assume I have $100k in the proverbial bank. I would consider this to be somewhat wealthy (mostly depending on my age). If I earn $50k/yr (I am single, no children), you might consider me "rich" -- I have a high income. If I consume $75k/yr, I will appear "richer" -- I will consume more and lead a "rich" lifestyle (driving new cars, meals out, extensive travel, etc.). If, however, I only consume $30k/yr, I will be banking $20k/yr and become wealthier. You could possibly say that in the high-consumption scenario, I am living my lifestyle "on the backs of the working class" (those auto workers and airline staff mentioned earlier). However, I can't maintain this consumptive lifestyle for very long -- it is decreasing my wealth. In the second scenario, I am becoming wealthier. I don't understand how this increased wealth is the result of exploiting the working class. Perhaps I am dense, I have just never understood this argument. If you want to say that the only way I acquire this extravagant income is off the toil of another, consider the possibility that I am a farmer or a skilled tradesman.

    Lastly, and this is not a troll or a flame, but can someone describe an economic system other than capitalism that does not create a poverty class? From my knowledge of recent history, communism doesn't work and socialism suffers similar problems, though to a lesser degree. A fully socialised society creates a problem with motivation: what will *my* benefit be from working hard? (I am assuming that people are rational actors and largely motivated by self-interest.)
    -bluebomber
    [ Parent ]

    not-so slight correction (3.00 / 1) (#150)
    by Rainy on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 01:56:46 AM EST

    The first sentence in this article says that if you're rich, you own your house and some land and their value increases, so you're all set. This overlooks the fact that if you were to realize this increasing value, you'd have to sell the house and the land. This is a part of a bigger issue this article overlooks - the lifestyle level. A rich person who earns 75k or 90k and owns his house and a few cars may very well spend all of his income maintaining his lifestyle - and a negative change of it is more traumatizing than maintaining a lower level lifestyle. There are perhaps 1% or 2% who have incomes that are so much higher than their lifestyle needs that they automatically invest them into expansion of business or investment, the rest of us either risk more than a little discomfort if a rainy day comes OR are so-called 'next door millionaires' who maintain much lower lifestyle than their income allows because they simply like accumulating the wealth.
    --
    Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
    True, to an extent (3.66 / 3) (#151)
    by decaf_dude on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 03:32:37 AM EST

    The situation is called "positive (or reinforcing) feedback mechanism", aka The Vicious Circle.

    The poorer you are, the poorer you will get, or so it seems. For instance, in England if you hit a rough patch and become homeless, chances are you'll stay homeless, for if you want to get a job, you need a permanent address. Of course, in order to have a permanent address, you need a place to stay where you'll be paying rent, for which you need money, usually obtained by working... Catch 22, is it?

    In reality, having gone through more problems than many (hopefully) would in their lifetimes, I can tell you this: You can sit on your bum and bitch about how tough and unfair life is, or you can get up and do something about it.

    Wise man said: "Life is what you make of it."


    --
    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


    You don't even understand (4.57 / 14) (#152)
    by hav on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 06:44:08 AM EST

    From the other comments I've read, I really don't think a lot of you know what "poor" really means. I'm sure you know people who maybe rent a trailer, who don't have a car and have to take the bus to work every day, or who don't have a phone or TV, and consider them to be poor, but in the grand scheme of things, that's nothing.

    I live in uptown Manhattan (aka Harlem) and I witness truly poor people on a daily basis. People who haven't slept in a warm bed in years, the closest they get to a warm bed is a few sheets of cardboard over a grate in the sidewalk with steam coming out. People who get by on $2 a day worth of food, because everyone else in the neighborhood is so poor that they can't even afford to give change. And this is now, in 2001. In the 80's crack destroyed New York, people lived at levels of poverty found in 3rd world countries. Things have improved drastically since then, but there is still widespread poverty that needs to be dealt with.

    For most of the people up here, the education system is useless. 40+ kids crammed in a classroom, no textbooks, sometimes no heat, and inexperienced or substandard teachers because there isn't enough money to attract good ones. Besides reading and basic math, nothing useful is taught in school. Home Ec and Shop class do not exist, there's no money for that stuff. The students are forced to learn things they have absolutely no interest in, such as History, Literature, and Science, instead of subjects that will directly benefit their lives. They see school as a burden, because they are not learning things that can be directly applied to life to better their situations.

    By the time they become teenagers, most of them are fed up with school and drop out to hustle on the streets. Compared to busting your ass making $3 an hour (off the books, of course) mopping the floor at the bodega (convenience store) on the corner, selling drugs, stealing, and robbery are much higher paying jobs. Young kids can easily make a couple hundred dollars a week out on the street. The money enables them to help their mom out with the rent, feed the family, and sometimes even purchase new sneakers or a gold chain. The best part is, none of the money gets taxed. Of course, there's a downside: the money only comes for so long, then you get arrested or shot.

    Despite what you may think, except for the fact that it's illegal, dealing drugs is a legitimate occupation that requires real world skills. I personally know two of the drug dealers in my neighborhood and they really treat drug dealing as a job. They establish business hours where they are known to be out on the corner and they stay out there during these hours in rain, freezing cold weather, or burning heat. The only times they leave are to pick up more of the product or jet from the cops. Sucessful dealers learn street economics, self defence, salesmanship, and customer service. They learn to efficiently and effictively run a business on their own and are able to support their families until their time runs out.

    Drug dealers aren't the only entrepaneurs on the street. Many people sell mix tapes (most violate copyright laws), do sketches or drawings, perform (sing, dance, play an instrument, etc) sell random shit, or many other legal things. The problem is, there isn't much money in any of it. You can only sell so much incense or sketch so many people in one day.

    The solution to all of this is to completely restructure the education system in inner city schools. The classic curriculum should be thrown out the window and the teachers should focus on teaching the students things that will improve their lives, both in the long run and the immediate future. The school system should double as day care, allowing parents to work their job(s) without leaving their children unsupervised at home or on the streets. Children should enter school at 3 where they are taught to speak English and count during their first year or two. Then between the ages of 5 and 10, the students should learn basic arithmetic and focus primarily on reading. From 10 until graduation, they should learn real world skills. No homework should ever be assigned, students should be encouraged to work after school or participate in athletic activities. Nutrition, sex, and health education should be much more prominent (health class was always a joke at my school). Students should learn about laws and legal procedures. They should also become proficient with a single occupation, whether it be a mechanic, a hair dresser, a computer programmer, a chef, an electronics repair person, an accountant, a construction worker, a subway operator (starting salary for a subway engineer is like $40,000 in NYC!), even a bus/cab/limo/truck driver. Basically, children should graduate school with SKILLS, not just knowledge. Knowledge is absolutely useless if you don't know how to apply it. There will always be a demand for skilled labor, it's up to the schools to stay with the times and make sure students learn skills for the latest hot jobs.

    Of course, the budget required to accomplish this would be ridiculous. The money has to come from somewhere. Now, the reason the rich keep getting richer is because they have money to invest, which returns even more money. Investments should be heavily taxed in order to improve the educational system, especially urban schools. It should not be limited to investments in the stock market and banking world, it should also include other investment types such as real estate. This hinders the rich's ability to multiply their wealth while helping the poor dig themselves out of the hole and get on their feet. Welfare should only be for those who are completely unable to work (ie crippled, retarded, etc) and anyone else who wants help from the government should have to work for it. Individuals should not be allowed to rot away in the ghetto doing nothing and still receive a check on the first of the month. If you want assistance from the government, you should assist the government in return, even if it means spending 10 hours a week picking up dog shit in Central Park.

    Very good post, one faux pas (in 3 acts) (4.50 / 6) (#153)
    by leonbrooks on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 07:33:13 AM EST

    Liked practically everything you had to say very much, especially nice crisp examples of Real Life in New York today, but...

    The solution to all of this is to completely restructure the education system in inner city schools. [...] The school system should double as day care, allowing parents to work their job(s) without leaving their children unsupervised at home or on the streets. Children should enter school at 3 where they are taught to speak English and count during their first year or two.

    Yes, the schools need restructuring. At least.

    No #1, using schools as babysitters is one of the biggest problems with existing State (and similar private) schools. It's one of the principal reasons for the positive correlation between school attendance and crime. I agree that the problem of not having enough working hours to pull in a viable income needs to be addressed but it has to be done another way.

    I suspect that some method(s) for adding value to what the parent(s) already do is required, so starting with productive education for the parents, in small chunks (which, sigh, also works against learning) or maybe as Sunday classes, might be a viable approach to freeing up their time. Perhaps also working to popularise jobsharing and scheduling split school days to match? Maybe not realistic but certainly worth examining.

    No #2, putting children into school at 3 is also an exceptionally bad idea. In fact putting them in at 8 or 9 generally works well in that they have generally caught or passed their peers by the end of Primary school (7th year of full formal schooling in Oz, the year they turn 12). If ways to impart knowledge can be found which are systematic enough to please the inevitable administrators, human enough to please both parents and children, and effective enough to work.

    Generalised No, you're advocating school-to-work here, which effectively blocks off their horizons. The only way to actually give these people a real future educationally is to teach them classics, reasoning and other ``random'' stuff unrelated to holding down a 50-hour-a-week blue-collar job. Specialising them in a single occupation basically turns them into automatons, and has been shown to be an especially major mistake when a specialty changes, as they do.
    -- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
    [ Parent ]

    great post (none / 0) (#158)
    by cryon on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 08:46:13 AM EST

    as a former teacher, I agree
    HTGS75OBEY21IRTYG54564ACCEPT64AUTHORITY41V KKJWQKHD23CONSUME78GJHGYTMNQYRTY74SLEEP38H TYTR32CONFORM12GNIYIPWG64VOTER4APATHY42JLQ TYFGB64MONEY3IS4YOUR7GOD62MGTSB21CONFORM34 SDF53MARRY6AND2REPRODUCE534TYWHJZKJ34OBEY6

    [ Parent ]
    one small problem (none / 0) (#204)
    by Ceebs on Fri May 11, 2001 at 11:58:03 AM EST

    If you want assistance from the government, you should assist the government in return, even if it means spending 10 hours a week picking up dog shit in Central Park.
    The problem with this is that unscrupulous politicians can then chop jobs using those stuck in poverty and on workfare schemes to take up the slack. Apart from the fact that this policy usually increases poverty, This is in essence a form of slavery.
    A much better option would be to force people onto education courses in return for their money.(and no not necessarily work related. let people choose what they want to learn. If you let people learn what they want, then you will build a society wherepeople are generally content.)

    [ Parent ]
    a liberal education is a must. (none / 0) (#205)
    by october1917 on Sun May 13, 2001 at 01:10:31 PM EST

    What you are proposing is to transform the education system into simple automaton-training. Isolate students from context by not teaching them history, deny them insight into the meaning of their life by not teaching them literature or philosophy, deny them the knowledge of abstractions and of the workings of their world by not teaching them science or high-level math courses. In the short run, this will help the students get jobs, true, but in the long run, this will not only make their lives less meaningful, but will, over the course of generations, "slow down" and decay society.

    Imagine a whole world of uninspired, unenlightened, non-idealistic, people, people who only live day to day and aren't sure of what they're living for anyway, because they've never really thought about it. A world of wage slaves and middle managers!

    This proposed transformation to the education system goes hand in hand with the mass-culture trends that dictate that learning is merely a necessary means to an end (personal economic stability), not, under any circumstances, an end in itself.

    The unexamined life is not worth living. -Socrates

    [ Parent ]
    Enough with the f*cking emotional flamebait (3.75 / 4) (#167)
    by DranoK on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 01:11:45 AM EST

    And that's exactly what this (and other articles about charity, etc) are: flamebait. They are written with the sole intent to intice defensive behavior about working for money, or pompous religeous me-too-ers. People want to seem like Mr. Nice Guy all the time, bringing up how enlightened they are to the ills of the world. So much social commentary and so little meat.

    And such a double-standard. What the hell do you do for society, and by you I mean anyone who ever claims to help the poor? Do you give money? What? 5%? 10%? 25%? Do you donate your precious time? A lot of it? And for what? So one poverty-stricken possibly mentally challenged can eat for one more day? Can have shelter for another month? And then the next?

    Where is this progress you're talking about? The happy-jizzy feeling you get by proclaiming how helpful you are? Or is it the smugness of bringing up 'important critical topics for The Community to discuss at once!'? Ah, bullocks!

    I'm sick of reading articles written for emotionary reactions from both sides. Articles which are so shallow I can't believe people give them a +1. I mean, really, post something you actually have strong feelings against, and not something intangible as figuring out what morally should be done, and think you're doing anything great and holy for society by wasting oxygen thinking ;)

    Yeah, this comment is flamebait, but dammit stop writing such pointless articles.

    DranoK


    Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence
    --DranoK



    Dunno about gay, but demented seems likely (none / 0) (#168)
    by leonbrooks on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 09:00:22 AM EST

    They are written with the sole intent to intice defensive behavior about working for money, or pompous religeous me-too-ers.

    Now that you've got that off your chest, perhaps you have something topical to contribute? In point of fact, I wrote the article to get answers, not to provoke wailing and chest-beating.

    Yours is the only post on the entire page which actually flames the article, all the other critics seem to have been sober when they arrived and made topical comments. Can we have some sense from you now?
    -- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
    [ Parent ]

    Demented? Sure, why not... (none / 0) (#169)
    by DranoK on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 12:52:35 PM EST

    Whatever you want me to be I'll be. Yes, I do have something topical to contribute; I've already contributed it however. In point of fact you wrote the article to get answers? Is that your Truth? Is that honestly what you think you were doing? It's irrelevant, you realize; each of our Truths is unique to us, and my Truth is perfectly valid. And in my own happy reality (possible in opposition to your happy reality) this piece was written as flamebait.

    I dunno about other posts, I didn't read any of them. Fuck, I didn't even read more than 3/4 of the article before sighing in exasperation. I guess, if what you say is statisitcally accurate, then the me-too-ers outdid the defensives this time.

    I mean what I say and I write what I mean. It is your responsibility to find meaning (if there is any) in my words, and then to acknowledge, disreguard, jack off too, whatever.

    Usually I'd never answer a comment like yours, but I am since I always answer every response someone posts to a comment or reply. But if you like, it might be easier to simply think the Big Purple Dinosaure wrote this and it's probably best to simply ignore my rants.

    *shrug* Do what you want.

    DranoK


    Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence
    --DranoK



    [ Parent ]
    Metadiscussion (none / 0) (#173)
    by leonbrooks on Tue May 01, 2001 at 08:51:33 AM EST

    In point of fact you wrote the article to get answers? Is that your Truth?

    Since the decision to write it was made in the privacy of my own mind, it is not only my ``Truth'', it is the only truth available on the subject. Regardless of whether you choose to believe it or not.

    On that topic, your tone often has a Bursar-like edge to it (although nowhere near as polite). Have you been taking your dried frog pills dependably of late?

    I dunno about other posts, I didn't read any of them.

    Really? So why on earth would you complain about what you percieve as other people posting pointlessly?

    It is your responsibility to find meaning (if there is any) in my words, and then to acknowledge, disreguard, jack off too, whatever.

    Well, no, it takes two to tango. You have at least as much responsibility for putting meaning (if any) into your words. That's what communication is all about.
    -- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
    [ Parent ]

    Arf! (none / 0) (#181)
    by DranoK on Wed May 02, 2001 at 03:06:37 PM EST

    Since the decision to write it was made in the privacy of my own mind, it is not only my ``Truth'', it is the only truth available on the subject. Regardless of whether you choose to believe it or not.

    On that topic, your tone often has a Bursar-like edge to it (although nowhere near as polite). Have you been taking your dried frog pills dependably of late?


    Nah, it is your Truth, however your wonderful demented mind may view it. In my mind you might not even exist after all. The problem is you fill your argument up with what you call truth that it becomes disturbing to read. You point out 'problems' which are may or may not be considered 'problems' by every other asshole in the Universe. Some may think it's a good thing. *shrug* You're looking at reflections in the glass and calling them truth; you live in a world you've painted with green slime and chose to call reality. Don't give me shit on what's true or not because nothing is true to more than a subset of humanity.

    Off-topic but who the fuck is Bursar? Oh, and don't insult me. I have a very fra-g-ile self-esteem. You might drive me to insanity! ARGH!

    Really? So why on earth would you complain about what you percieve as other people posting pointlessly?

    Obviously becuase I choose to. I perceive what I want to perceive dammit. Ban me kick me fuck me at least what I write is what I believe. I never selfishly attempt to post to get kharma fuzzies. And it's not like this is the first article like this to grace kuro5hin with its presence, and, unfortunately, I did read the posts for those articles. Too many people post in a desire to argue or show how freakin' smart they are. Twinkie posts.

    Well, no, it takes two to tango. You have at least as much responsibility for putting meaning (if any) into your words. That's what communication is all about.

    I put thought into my words and always say what I feel. If you fail or choose not to understand, or spin various meanings, that's completely in your own mind. I justify my comments by the simple fact they exist; I feel no compelling need to contribute to your imagination, to boost your self-esteem, or to intice you to flame at me. I write simply because of a basic need to. If you find my words to have no meaning then disreguard them. Although I'm sure there's plenty of sexfantasy entrenched deeply within my comments.

    I think you have a problem with me not because I disagree with you but because I fail to give you any respect. To which all I have to add is: ARF!

    DranoK


    Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence
    --DranoK



    [ Parent ]
    A legend in your own mind (none / 0) (#186)
    by leonbrooks on Wed May 02, 2001 at 07:25:58 PM EST

    In my mind you might not even exist after all. The problem is you fill your argument up with what you call truth that it becomes disturbing to read.

    If I might not exist after all, then my words also might not exist after all, and you might not relly be disturbed by them. So why worry?

    Off-topic but who the fuck is Bursar? Oh, and don't insult me. I have a very fra-g-ile self-esteem. You might drive me to insanity

    It sounds very much like closing the gate after the horse is well and truly below the horizon. The Bursar is a character from practically any Discworld novel (Terry Pratchett). All of Terry's books are a good read.

    I feel no compelling need to contribute to your imagination, to boost your self-esteem, or to intice you to flame at me. I write simply because of a basic need to.

    Pretend just for a moment that you are writing to elicit a response. No, really, it's OK, we're only pretending; now what kind of response would you be seeking if this were the case?
    -- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
    [ Parent ]

    Bark! (none / 0) (#187)
    by DranoK on Wed May 02, 2001 at 07:47:32 PM EST

    If I might not exist after all, then my words also might not exist after all, and you might not relly be disturbed by them. So why worry?

    I'm not worried, i'm disturbed. And I never once said your words didn't exist; I said you may not exist. I mean by that your basic personality you mean to convey; it seems wholly transparent to me.

    It sounds very much like closing the gate after the horse is well and truly below the horizon. The Bursar is a character from practically any Discworld novel (Terry Pratchett). All of Terry's books are a good read.

    Um...closing the gate after the horse is well and truly below the horizon? Damn; sounds like Christian symbolism (I have no clue if you made that up or quoted it but that's what it sounds like to my ears). Discworld...discworld...I've heard that somewhere before. I generally dislike novels; they've all been done before in some way or shape or form. There's nothing new, everything is repetitious and redundant. No matter how many books you write on horses fucking goats the fact is you're still writing about a horse fucking a goat. *shrug* I don't expect you to understand what I mean, not many people do.

    Pretend just for a moment that you are writing to elicit a response. No, really, it's OK, we're only pretending; now what kind of response would you be seeking if this were the case?

    Do we get to play dressup after this? Or the touchy-touchy game? Nah, of course I'm writing this for a response. *smirk* I never realized I could possibly have given you the notion I wanted no response from you. Oh, I see, you saw "I feel no compelling need to contribute to your imagination, to boost your self-esteem, or to intice you to flame at me. I write simply because of a need to." Notice that I never said I didn't want you to *respond*; just that I do not write this to intice *flame* from you. Difference there. And you're not flaming. So I'm happy. See? =)

    As for what type of response I'm looking for...I dunno, originality would do. Instead of simply quoting other people's works I may or may not be aware of, I'd like a response you mean. I'd like a response to show you're not just a reflection of every other Good Christian in the world, one which shows an ability to see behind your own rhetoric and speaks what you truly feel. So many people's self-esteem is based on Good Deads and Kindness etc. that they act in minimilistic ways (such as writing an article) to fullfill these self-indoctrined ideals and boost their own confidence in themselves. All I'm looking for is someone who doesn't view the world thru self-taught obscurity.

    DranoK


    Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence
    --DranoK



    [ Parent ]
    Camera Obscura; or, through a pinhole, darkly (none / 0) (#193)
    by leonbrooks on Thu May 03, 2001 at 06:39:00 PM EST

    Do we get to play dressup after this? Or the touchy-touchy game? Nah, of course I'm writing this for a response.

    Ah.

    As for what type of response I'm looking for...I dunno, originality would do. Instead of simply quoting other people's works I may or may not be aware of, I'd like a response you mean. I'd like a response to show you're not just a reflection of every other Good Christian in the world, one which shows an ability to see behind your own rhetoric and speaks what you truly feel. So many people's self-esteem is based on Good Deads and Kindness etc. that they act in minimilistic ways (such as writing an article) to fullfill these self-indoctrined ideals and boost their own confidence in themselves. All I'm looking for is someone who doesn't view the world thru self-taught obscurity.

    What an odd world-view... you have no idea what you want, but are happy to post more or less randomly until you get it. Do you have any idea how many responses you'll have to wade through that contain only what you don't want?

    The other thing that struck me as it would a stranger, from the outside (oooOOOOooo), is that you're pretty obscure about what you're chasing but quite ready to brand another as ``obscure'' as if your own conversation were as clear and precise as gem-quality diamonds.

    If you're after a person who is entirely composed of original material, your also after a person who doesn't speak any language that you understand, since language itself is contexted around other people's experiences: in order to communicate, you first have to build up, albeit third-hand, a collection of experiences. In order to have a coherent picture of any reality other than what you can see and touch in your immediate neighbourhood, you have to read books, watch videos, converse and otherwise pollute your originality with the experiences of others.

    Face this, dude: we're every one of us non-original, holographically interrelated collections of other people's words and pictures. We also feature prejudices, lest we have to deduce the correct answer to every question from first principles, and the sun sets before we've decided what to have for breakfast. The holy grail you seek does not exist, per se.

    If you're looking for perfect happiness in this world, or even ``a reasonable facsimile thereof,'' prepare to settle for something less, at least in the short term. If you take an evolutionary world-view, our genetic burden will exterminate the race (all races) within a few centuries [question for the onlooking pundits: why hasn't it done so already?]. Wow, what a wonderful future to look forward to... If you take a Christian world-view, perfect happiness has been reserved for a perfect world, not the churned, tattered, abused wreckage we see about us, your task in this world is to make the best of it for yourself and for others. Hence the original post in search of useful opinions and methods for so doing.
    -- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
    [ Parent ]

    Yes..Yes!! Now you are starting to understand! (none / 0) (#195)
    by DranoK on Thu May 03, 2001 at 07:38:43 PM EST

    What an odd world-view... you have no idea what you want, but are happy to post more or less randomly until you get it. Do you have any idea how many responses you'll have to wade through that contain only what you don't want?

    You're absolutely. I don't know what I want. I just no it does not exist yet. I do, however, know what 'it' is not.

    The other thing that struck me as it would a stranger, from the outside (oooOOOOooo), is that you're pretty obscure about what you're chasing but quite ready to brand another as ``obscure'' as if your own conversation were as clear and precise as gem-quality diamonds.

    Of course I'm obscure dammit! I live in the same world of reflections we all do; I can't help but draw symbolism from repetitious works, or invent my own in a bland uterous of love-filled ethics; it is impossible for mere words to ever divulge the true chaos of my thoughts. I try the best I can, but, unfortunately, obscurity is one means I have at my disposal of inticing chaos, which I believe will bring out thoughts which are closer to whatever it is I'm looking for.

    Um...how the hell did we get on this topic anyhow? Oh well, it's a very nice change =) I like you.

    If you're after a person who is entirely composed of original material, your also after a person who doesn't speak any language that you understand, since language itself is contexted around other people's experiences: in order to communicate, you first have to build up, albeit third-hand, a collection of experiences. In order to have a coherent picture of any reality other than what you can see and touch in your immediate neighbourhood, you have to read books, watch videos, converse and otherwise pollute your originality with the experiences of others.

    *sigh* No, you're right, I'm not a person composed entirely of original material, although such a beast I certainly aspire to be! All I can do is acknowledge my own dullness and beat other people's dullness into submission. My language is like an icicle sword breathing cold terror into the wielder's frost-bit hands, a complete mockery to the enemy, who can crumble the sword with minimal effort. I fight for the chance I may get lucky and stab my enemy, and create a more superior emotion.

    Other than that, yeah, you're right. Reflections of reflections of reflections....makes you wonder if there ever was a reality that would even be recognizable by us mortals. Driving down thru various layers of obscured reflections can drive a sane brain to incoherent thoughts and images, which may or may not be closer to no reflecions than not. The question of the second is, how does someone completely unoriginal create something original? That is one thing I should like to seek.

    Face this, dude: we're every one of us non-original, holographically interrelated collections of other people's words and pictures. We also feature prejudices, lest we have to deduce the correct answer to every question from first principles, and the sun sets before we've decided what to have for breakfast. The holy grail you seek does not exist, per se.

    Yes! Yes!! You see?! We've created so much material and so many ways to alter and hide redundancy that we live on endless miles of grabage obscuring our view of the reality the ground holds. Until you dig and dig and dig and dig and either go insane from the smell or reach the center and find nothing, only to realize that your entire concept of the search is proved wrong. Do you see the insanity which lies there? To devote a lifetime to a quest which can never be answered? My point is we all do this, seeking Buddha seeking Christ seeking more money seeking to help others seeking to selfishly change the world! Only by deluding yourself your delusion of reality is real can your insane goals ever be achieved; or, more accurately, only by believing you have suceeded in your goals can you acomplish something, albeit in your own mind. Because these very goals are based in a reflection which contains reflected rules and guidelines; only by existing completely in an imaginary reality can anyone acomplish anything and reflect upon their acomplishments in any kind of analytical light; how can you compare apples to apples if some of them belong to a different reflection of reality?

    f you're looking for perfect happiness in this world, or even ``a reasonable facsimile thereof,'' prepare to settle for something less, at least in the short term. If you take an evolutionary world-view, our genetic burden will exterminate the race (all races) within a few centuries [question for the onlooking pundits: why hasn't it done so already?]. Wow, what a wonderful future to look forward to... If you take a Christian world-view, perfect happiness has been reserved for a perfect world, not the churned, tattered, abused wreckage we see about us, your task in this world is to make the best of it for yourself and for others. Hence the original post in search of useful opinions and methods for so doing.

    I take the reflectionary 'world-view' that pretty much everything is pointless. Except OJ. I really like OJ. But anyhow, the more social realities you construct to deal with the problems existing social realities have created by definition will create other social realities which did not exist before. The only true salvation is impossible: to disreguard every reflection of reality and exist as simple existence. In this sense, intelligence has always been the cruelest of gifts. Yes, it creates scientists who can build things and artists who can mock things, but the first original thought ever experienced will inevitably begin the unstoppable transmutation into a world full of refletions of reflections. It is not even possible anymore to view reality as reality without the social constructs in place. And that, my friend, is why I mocked you. Becuase you're trying to do something, for whatever goal (I still think it was to get attention, but whatever), and it is for simple existence that I vomit filth into the world. That, and because I enjoy it.

    I do like you though, honestly.

    DranoK


    Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence
    --DranoK



    [ Parent ]
    man (5.00 / 1) (#176)
    by tokage on Wed May 02, 2001 at 04:02:04 AM EST

    <aol> me too! </aol>

    I know exactly what you're saying. Some other people and I were discussing this the other night on #k5, it's really irritating heh. One thing about k5 that is exasperating is the sense by everyone that We Can Change Everything. Topics often are "What can We do about this?". The answer is, fucking nothing. What is a weblog community supposed to do about international/global problems that confound governments and millions of people's efforts? That's not to say that change doesn't begin with an individual, I'm just sick of the fairy tale "we can make everything okay" attitude that permeates discussion here. I'm still irritated Electric_Angst's article made front page. To quote directly from it, "Knowing that there are people who will die because of a lack of funds for food and medicine, how can you morally justify not donating 100% of that excess?". That just makes my blood boil. Who the hell are you to question my behavior or tell me how to allocate my funds?

    I'll quit ranting here:) I think you know what I mean, though. People need to grow up, remove the illusion that life can be made into a pretty rose garden, and deal with it realistically. Try to live fair and do whatever you can to help, but stop being so fucking overbearingly arrogant as to try to tell people what they should do, or how they should think.



    + You better pray to God there's some Thorazine in that bag, otherwise you're in bad fucking trouble. +
    [ Parent ]
    Part of the precipitate? (none / 0) (#177)
    by leonbrooks on Wed May 02, 2001 at 06:50:46 AM EST

    Topics often are "What can We do about this?". The answer is, fucking nothing. What is a weblog community supposed to do about international/global problems that confound governments and millions of people's efforts? That's not to say that change doesn't begin with an individual, I'm just sick of the fairy tale "we can make everything okay" attitude that permeates discussion here.

    Let's cut to the chase: you're completely wrong here. (-:

    Not only can a single individual make a significant difference (everyone knows about Mother Teresa as an example, and the average k5 reader has at least an order of magnitude more resources than she started with), but on the way to doing something about it is a stop called having something to do, and that in turn depends on understanding the options. For which discussions like this would be quite useful if they weren't drowned in pointless nihilism.

    stop being so fucking overbearingly arrogant as to try to tell people what they should do, or how they should think.

    Yah, and a fine example that is... yes, Bwana Thorazine-dependent, I no tell people how to think, Bwana Thorazine-dependent... yes, Suh, Boss, Massah, Baghwan...

    Yes, that was sarcasm, could you tell?
    -- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
    [ Parent ]

    mhm (5.00 / 1) (#178)
    by tokage on Wed May 02, 2001 at 08:06:53 AM EST

    But hidden within my frantic 2am starvation fueled dementia, you missed:

    That's not to say that change doesn't begin with an individual, I'm just sick of the fairy tale "we can make everything okay" attitude that permeates discussion here. I'm still irritated Electric_Angst's article made front page

    I wasn't saying the common individual has no power to stop the evils that beset us, simply that the lofty, overbearing attitudes of geekly sorts driving their SUV's planning to Change The World from the comfort of their desk chair with a point and a click irritates me. Not to overgeneralize, or anything so subtle. May I point out Mother Teresa was down in the trenches, getting her hands dirty. We hear about $HORRIFIC_EVENT on CNN and suddenly feel we -have- to Get Involved. If you've seen Beyond Rangoon you'll know what I mean by that, a peaceful movement in Burma was quelled with extreme violence and we didn't even know about it.

    Everything begins with an individual's effort, then generally that person will run into like-minded people and things will snowball from there. Just don't tell me that it's my Duty as a K5 denizen to donate X amount of my income to the Christian Childrens fund, where as the authors of South Park so amusingly(accurately?) showed us, you can eat if you will just say your Christian name. I think more people need to just do what they can, try to be understanding and empathetic as possible. So many people do things like donate money out of guilt. Why do you think they show the starving kids in the ads on TV? Otherwise, us fat pigheaded Americans would continue on our merry ways, buy buy buying.

    The point of this whole digressive diatribe was, don't imply that because my morals, way of life, or manner in which I choose to help those less fortunate than I differs from yours, I am a bad person. Also, be wary of lofty pedestals, when the weight of reality crashes against them and they tumble, a person could be badly injured.
    + You better pray to God there's some Thorazine in that bag, otherwise you're in bad fucking trouble. +
    [ Parent ]

    Hmmm (none / 0) (#183)
    by DranoK on Wed May 02, 2001 at 03:16:59 PM EST

    You're far too polite. =)

    DranoK


    Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence
    --DranoK



    [ Parent ]
    Ah! Another TRUTH! (none / 0) (#182)
    by DranoK on Wed May 02, 2001 at 03:15:39 PM EST

    Let's cut to the chase: you're completely wrong here. (-: Not only can a single individual make a significant difference (everyone knows about Mother Teresa as an example, and the average k5 reader has at least an order of magnitude more resources than she started with), but on the way to doing something about it is a stop called having something to do, and that in turn depends on understanding the options. For which discussions like this would be quite useful if they weren't drowned in pointless nihilism.

    Hail to the Emporer for he is Good! I'm right and you're wrong and all that happy shit! So I'll invoke the name of Mother Teresa the whore and assume what everyone does or does not have, because I'm enligt-fuckingly-lightened! Oooh! And you used a Big Long Complicated word in there too! Nihilism! Yeah! Say that dirty word! I'm not skepticle about existance, I just refuse to acknowledge that the best reality we can choose for ourselves is this Christian-moraled orgy of a world. Oh yeah, philosophy and an ism for every occasion!!

    Yah, and a fine example that is... yes, Bwana Thorazine-dependent, I no tell people how to think, Bwana Thorazine-dependent... yes, Suh, Boss, Massah, Baghwan...

    Yes, that was sarcasm, could you tell?


    Ya need work, bitch, you ain't even funny. And if there's one thing I can't stand is attempted sarcasm that finds the need to point itself out. Look! I'm being sarcastic! *snicker*

    Boot tooth boot shoes are all ya have to lose!

    DranoK


    Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence
    --DranoK



    [ Parent ]
    The core of buddhism: ``every man for himself?'' (none / 0) (#194)
    by leonbrooks on Thu May 03, 2001 at 06:47:27 PM EST

    you used a Big Long Complicated word in there too! Nihilism! Yeah! Say that dirty word! I'm not skepticle about existance, I just refuse to acknowledge that the best reality we can choose for ourselves is this Christian-moraled orgy of a world.

    The definition of nihilism that fits the context is #2: ``A doctrine holding that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated.'' This fits the otherwise entirely pointless ``well, that's your reality'' style of relativism. Reality simply is, only our perceptions of it vary. No matter how differently an individual or group looks at it, reality won't change, although our views of it may.

    And saying ``well, that's the way you see it'' won't change reality any more than wearing holy grease made the Zulus bulletproof.
    -- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
    [ Parent ]

    Please see my comment to your response to Bark! (none / 0) (#197)
    by DranoK on Fri May 04, 2001 at 12:56:30 PM EST

    I think that response can equally cover for this response as well. My poor fingers are hurting today so would rather not rant on ;)

    Cheers

    DranoK


    Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence
    --DranoK



    [ Parent ]
    Damn straight! (none / 0) (#180)
    by DranoK on Wed May 02, 2001 at 02:20:38 PM EST

    Ah, a like-hearted individual! I shall roll around in the quilt of your words and get warm fuzzies!

    I know precisely what you mean. Thing is, I believe people post articles like this to solicit angry response so they can get warmer fuzzies of cum-stained acts of chairty.

    Argh, too much caffeine.

    DranoK


    Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence
    --DranoK



    [ Parent ]
    Before answers.... (1.00 / 1) (#172)
    by dice on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 06:27:11 PM EST

    The problem I always have with this is simple.

    Why should I care?

    [ Parent ]
    If you don't care (none / 0) (#184)
    by DranoK on Wed May 02, 2001 at 05:53:09 PM EST

    then you shouldn't care. I have no respect for those who try to force me to care about what they care about.

    DranoK


    Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence
    --DranoK



    [ Parent ]
    Example.. (5.00 / 3) (#179)
    by henrik on Wed May 02, 2001 at 02:04:49 PM EST

    The problem isn't as much that people are poor but that they can't live decent lives while being poor.

    Sweden, for example, has a hybrid capitalist/socialist system that allow individuals and companies the same relative freedom to do what they please as most industrialized contries without having a large percentage of the population in poverty.

    We've realized that a industrialized society *can* afford to take care of those who cant take care of themselves without sacrificing freedom for the rest (no, a few percent lower taxes does not freedom make)

    While the social security network has been downsized in the '90's all Swedish citizens have the basic right to:

  • Healthcare
  • Schooling (from kindergarden to university)
  • Housing
  • Food
    If you can not afford any of this yourself, it will be provided for you.

    Of course, those living on government money will not live a life in luxuary and there's still a huge gap between the richest and the poor. But the important thing is that it's much smaller than in, for example, the USA. For someone with $1e9 it doesnt really matter if he has $5e8 or $1e7 - it doesnt really affect his standard of living. But a few thousand dollars can make a great difference for someone without money.

    All societies will always have poor people. But if it is possible to create decent lives for the poor - why not do it?

    Yes, this system relies heavily on government intervention and government redistributation of wealth. And we all know that any form of government intervention is always evil no matter what it is. So there's no need to point that out.. i already did it for you. :)

    -henrik

    Akademiska Intresseklubben antecknar!

  • Thanks, Henrik; can you add some detail please? (none / 0) (#185)
    by leonbrooks on Wed May 02, 2001 at 07:17:34 PM EST

    If you can not afford any of this yourself, it will be provided for you.

    How does this actually work?

    For example, Australia will provide cheap housing for financially disadvantaged people, but there is (I can speak authoritatively only for Western Australia here) a wait of several years before a house becomes available and you may have to move some distance to take occupancy. To get your house, you fill in a form and take or send it into the HomesWest office. You must show that you are penniless (bank account details etc) and have no reasonable prospect of being pennifull by the time you get a house.

    There is essentially no ``free food'' program from the government, but a combination of Red Cross and assorted religious (mostly Christian, as you would expect in Oz) organisations running things like soup vans and kitchens means that a city-dweller can get at least basic fod at least twice a day without much effort.

    Free medical benefits is your Medicare number, and the hospitals generally work on a treat-first-sort-out-payment-later basis. Medicare is not the greatest system, for example I was hospitalised with gall problems and the previous occupant of the bed had been sent home to die because his liver cancer had advanced too far between the time it was diagnosed and the time he was hospitalised for treatment (two years!) for conventional therapy to have any positive effect.

    State School is free, in fact if you're part of a suitable ethnic minority you are paid to send your children along (often to the detriment of the other children).

    Income tax starts at about $AUD6000 PA at tewnty-some percent and peaks out just shy of 50%. Which is silly since an unemployment pension puts your income at about $AUD9000 a year.

    How does Sweden compare?
    -- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
    [ Parent ]

    Being Rich is Expensive. (none / 0) (#188)
    by jennifer on Thu May 03, 2001 at 08:32:17 AM EST

    To start off, I live in Manhattan and am poor. I'm poor because of my $20,000 ($35,000 - $15,000) tuition bill a year. My parents don't pay for anything, and I didn't qualify for any need-based financial aid. I work around 25 hours a week as a programmer, with a full load of classes besides.

    However, I grew up rich. I went 400 miles away from home for high school, to Choate Rosemary Hall, where I started rowing crew (went to Henley-on-Thames) and excelling academically-- which is how I got the background to get into college and get scholarships.

    Right now, I can only afford to rent. In Manhattan... that's damn expensive. As a female without a handgun permit, I need to rent in a place where it's safe for me to wake up at 4:30 in the morning. Crew and Work take up about 50 hours a week together, and I'm lucky if I can fit in a few hours of studying at races on the weekends, which makes it difficult for me to do things like laundry-- it takes nearly 1.5 hours to do, so I send it out. I need to wear suits to work (at an investment bank), so my work clothes are rather expensive and require dry cleaning.

    I have no capital to speak of, and am only getting poorer and poorer. When I go to graduate school, I'm sure it will only get worse.

    Basically, the only thing I have going for me is education. Which, in the end, means everything.

    Poverty affects everyone.... (none / 0) (#201)
    by jude on Mon May 07, 2001 at 10:33:31 AM EST

    because it is more a way of life than it is a simple matter of have and have not. This is symptomatic of any society where the spirit of giving has died. Everything has a price and what is freely given amounts to nothing but essentially valueless tokens. People find themselves nickeled and dimed to death while they scrounge to make their lifework nickel and diming others to death. It isn't called the "rat race" for no reason.

    The solution is a widespread change in attitude about money similar to the one that has occured in relation to cigarettes. Money has become a nasty, ugly little thing very much like cigarettes. It should be painted to be again what it once was--a stand in for something of real value, but, in itself, totally worthless.

    We need to decide on a "standard of living" that affords everyone a lifestyle that can be considered basically comfortable and freely provide that for them. Those who wish to pursue the bells and whistles can earn money to do it. Those who do not can enjoy the perks of a simpler life.

    We are all prisoners of our economy, rich and poor alike. The rich are simply more unconscious of their own servitude because they have more material goods to obscure the view.

    So superpowers would crumble into agrarian societies and bustling economies would degenerate into swap meets. Would that really be a bad thing? Then the systems we designed to serve ourselves would serve us again, instead of demanding that we spend our lives serving them. It may seem like pie in the sky but it is close and nestled snugly in the human heart. Close knit families know it well. If societies became more like large extended families it would not be hard to envision something like this working. But in order for it to happen money must not be the central focus of everyone's attention.

    [ Parent ]
    Being Rich is Expensive. (none / 0) (#189)
    by jennifer on Thu May 03, 2001 at 08:33:25 AM EST

    To start off, I live in Manhattan and am poor. I'm poor because of my $20,000 ($35,000 - $15,000) tuition bill a year. My parents don't pay for anything, and I didn't qualify for any need-based financial aid. I work around 25 hours a week as a programmer, with a full load of classes besides.

    However, I grew up rich. I went 400 miles away from home for high school, to Choate Rosemary Hall, where I started rowing crew (went to Henley-on-Thames) and excelling academically-- which is how I got the background to get into college and get scholarships.

    Right now, I can only afford to rent. In Manhattan... that's damn expensive. As a female without a handgun permit, I need to rent in a place where it's safe for me to wake up at 4:30 in the morning. Crew and Work take up about 50 hours a week together, and I'm lucky if I can fit in a few hours of studying at races on the weekends to keep my scholarships, which make it difficult for me to do things like laundry-- it takes nearly 1.5 hours to do, so I send it out. I need to wear suits to work (at an investment bank), so my work clothes are rather expensive and require dry cleaning.

    I have no capital to speak of, and am only getting poorer and poorer. When I go to graduate school, I'm sure it will only get worse.

    Basically, the only thing I have going for me is education. Which, in the end, means everything.

    Uh, your *ticket* means everything (4.00 / 1) (#192)
    by leonbrooks on Thu May 03, 2001 at 06:18:56 PM EST

    Thanks for telling us a bit about yourself. You sound like the kind of person I'd want banking my merchants if I had any. (-:

    Basically, the only thing I have going for me is education. Which, in the end, means everything.

    Well, no. You also have a certain amount of determination and self-confidence. I'm sure your plan isn't to continue getting poorer, but as a result of having the sheepskin at the end of your courses to eventually land a high-paying job. You're getting poorer by choice and for a clear reason.

    The people this discussion is intended to be about are just plain getting poorer for no good reason at all.

    I got the background to get into college and get scholarships.

    Also - and understand that I think what you're doing is of a noble spirit, it takes grit and determination to deliberately sail as close to the rocks as you are in order to shoot for a favourable trade wind for the rest of your life journey - you have the ivy leaves on your side, and probably a family who have the resources and will to bail you out if things get really bad. Postulate no culture in your history, no family safety net, no scholarships to get you kick-started and it suddenly looks a whole lot grimmer.
    -- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
    [ Parent ]

    NPR/Kaiser/Kennedy poll on poverty in US (none / 0) (#190)
    by Another Scott on Thu May 03, 2001 at 09:20:20 AM EST

    NPR story on new poll on attitudes about poverty in the US.

    In fact, a majority of Americans think poverty is not just a problem but a big problem, and another third say it's somewhat of a problem. Despite that characterization, however, Americans are divided on why poverty is a problem and on what should be done about it, the survey found.

    Lots of fodder for this topic is in this NPR survey. The telephone survey was of 1952 adults in the US between Jan 4 and Feb 27.

    It's discussed in a series of stories/shows running on National Public Radio through May 7.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

    Thanks, Scott (none / 0) (#191)
    by leonbrooks on Thu May 03, 2001 at 06:07:27 PM EST

    Lots of fodder for this topic is in this NPR survey.

    There's nothing like a shot of basic research to lend some reality to a discussion.
    -- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
    [ Parent ]

    Being Poor is Too Expensive | 206 comments (204 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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