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[P]
Welfare Reform and Education

By diginhalation in Op-Ed
Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 10:50:33 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

Robert's Story; the Problem of Poverty in America

Robert is in the third grade. He likes school, and he's pretty good at it. He started reading chapter books this year, and he likes that. He wishes he could go to school today, but he can't. He lives with his mom in their 1985 Mazda GLC. They get in trouble if they stay in one place for more than a few nights, so he can't take the school bus. This morning Robert's mom can't take him to school. She's too busy. This happens to Robert a lot. It makes him really sad. He remembers when he was in first grade he and his mom lived in an apartment. It wasn't a nice apartment, it kinda smelled funny, the carpet was a weird orange color, and the people who lived downstairs scared him. He didn't like it there, but now he just wishes they could go back. He doesn't understand why he and his mom have to be poor. One time he asked his mom, and she started crying. He doesn't ask her questions like that anymore.

This is not an uncommon story. In 2003 there were 35.9 million people living below the poverty line in the United States of America, 1.3 million more than in 2002. In addition, there were millions living within the penumbra that surrounds 'official poverty', with incomes that fell above the poverty line but bellow the threshold for a decent standard of living.


The national debate about poverty has gravitated toward welfare reform, personal responsibility, and moving people from welfare to work. The range of proposals is so wide it boggles the imagination, with political ideologies doing as much to inform arguments as facts.

As I see it, the United States needs to devise a goal oriented solution to welfare reform. Our goal needs to be the elimination of poverty. If we are to truly lead the world into the 21st century, we absolutely must lead it into prosperity. We therefore must be on the front lines of the war on poverty.

While I am of the belief that ideologies should take a back seat to goals, it would not become me to avoid disclosing my own political frame of reference. I tend to see issues from a liberal, substantivist point of view. The latter adjective, however, often outweighs the former. I find that basing one's political views on the unquestioned truths of a given ideology amounts to engaging in a strange, quixotic form of debate that provides hours of entertainment and few real solutions.

The problem of poverty in America is too dire to succumb to the temptations of ideological orthodoxy. If a compromise is required to formulate a lasting solution, than such a compromise must be reached. What must not be compromised is the essential goal; eliminating poverty from our society.

There is also the element of public opinion that has to be considered in any solution. In October of 1997, the American Viewpoint conducted a survey among 1,000 registered voters nationwide. When asked the question,

"Thinking about the role of the federal government, do you feel that government has the responsibility to help the disadvantaged regardless of their circumstances, or that government should do more to help people who want to help themselves, or that people should take more personal responsibility and not expect the government to solve their problems for them? "


They found that 50% of respondents favored people taking more personal responsibility. For any solution to work, then, it must take into account the value American's place on hard work and self reliance. This does not mean, however, that no government program to help people out of poverty would be acceptable to those 50% of people.

Another poll, conducted by the Gallup organization between January and February of 2004, found that 66% of respondents strongly supported "lifting restrictions so parents on welfare can participate more in education and training programs, to help them get good jobs when the economy improves." Another 22% somewhat supported lifting such restrictions. The same poll found that 81% of supporters would still support lifting educational restrictions from welfare even if it meant an increase in government spending. This shows that the value Americans place on equality of opportunity is real. We, as a nation, seem to understand the barriers that lack of education can place between a person and a good paying job.

Solutions that didn't solve anything


In 1996 Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), radically changing the nature of welfare. This was widely touted as the solution to the problem of poverty. Indeed, in the first four years of PRWORA both poverty levels and welfare caseloads dropped every year. The reformers who had supported this legislation declared victory, and to a large degree welfare reform dropped off the national agenda.

In 2001, though, things changed. The economy turned south, the surplus became a deficit, and the percentage of people living in poverty began to climb again. Despite this increase in poverty, the number of welfare caseloads has continued to drop since 2000. This presents a disturbing paradox; the number of families needing assistance increasing while the number of families receiving assistance is decreasing.

Historically, there has been little correlation between the welfare caseload and the number of people living below the poverty line. This leads to the conclusion that welfare doesn't help people out of poverty, but rather acts as a stopgap measure for those who would otherwise be without adequate food and housing. The problem of poverty, then, remains.

PRWORA was designed to change welfare from such a stopgap into a program to move people out of poverty and into work. It proposed to do this by forcing welfare recipients to participate in 'work activities' in order to receive benefits. If one looks only at the data from 1996 to 2000, it seems that the change was effective in solving the problem. Both poverty and welfare caseloads dropped. But these numbers don't mean that PRWORA actually performed its desired function. One could just as easily attribute declining poverty rates in the second half of the 1990s to a growing economy. In fact, given that caseloads declined by 4.3% between 2002 and 2003 while poverty increased from 12.1% to 12.5% , it seems that this attribution is reasonable.

The debate about welfare reform is far from simple. While the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) provisions of PRWORA were meant to be renewed in 2002, that renewal didn't pass until June of 2004. The passage was held up by fierce debates about whether or not to expand work requirements and educational opportunities

While I would not argue that welfare reform is totally ineffective, there are clearly problems associated with it. These problems are especially pronounced when the economy is weak. There have been numerous proposals made regarding ways to improve the welfare system, some of which I will detail in the next section.

Proposals abound, ideologies dominate

One proposal for solving the problem of poverty in America is to encourage poor people to get married. The kernel of this argument lies in the fact that unmarried people tend to be less poor. Using the old logic of post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this) it is proposed that being unmarried leads to poverty. This proposal is centered on reducing child poverty, suggesting that children born outside of wedlock have a much higher chance of becoming poor. Leading the charge to encourage poor people to marry is the Heritage Foundation. In their own words, this organization is "...a think tank - whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. "

A second proposal suggests that the best way to eliminate poverty is to strengthen the work requirements of the 1996 reforms while encouraging broad economic growth. The underlying principle upon which this proposal is based is that welfare should not be an entitlement program. The argument is made that welfare as an entitlement, wherein anyone making less than a certain amount of money is eligible to receive state assistance for as long as they fall bellow the income threshold, encourages people to make less money and discourages personal responsibility. Instead, proponents of this proposal would argue, we should require welfare recipients to work and limit the amount of time they spend on welfare. These are just the sort of reforms that PRWORA created. Many groups, including Freedom Works, would like to see those reforms expanded. Freedom Works is a think tank that "fights for lower taxes, less government and more economic freedom for all Americans." In the words of former House Majority Leader and current co-chairman of Freedom Works' sister organization Citizens for a Sound Economy, Dick Armey, "By emphasizing work and responsibility, the 1996 reforms push all able-bodied Americans towards the independence, self-respect, and self-sufficiency that comes from working. The War on Poverty may have begun in 1964, but it wasn't until 1996 that we truly began winning it."

Another proposal for addressing poverty focuses on economic issues other than welfare. This point of view holds that programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) discourage people from working. According to the IRS, "The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a federal income tax credit for low-income workers who are eligible for and claim the credit. The credit reduces the amount of tax an individual owes, and may be returned in the form of a refund. " Proponents of a proposal to reform the EITC point out that a worker shifting from part time to full time employment may actually come out with less money, because under the current program as someone makes more money they become eligible for less EITC. The reform proposal suggests a wage subsidy program to replace the current EITC entitlement. Their proposal is quite complex, but it seems to boil down to a change in the EITC program so that workers would receive eligibility for EITC based on their hourly wage rather than their annual earnings. This, they say, would not discourage workers from taking on more hours. The Economic Policies Institute, who published this study, describe themselves as "...a non-profit research organization dedicated to studying public policy issues surrounding employment growth." They go on to characterize their work, saying "EPI sponsors nonpartisan research which is conducted by independent economists at major universities around the country. " Much of the research on their website centers around minimum wage policy, with a clear focus on studies that portray raising minimum wages as harmful to the economy.

A fourth proposal suggests that in order to end poverty, we should pay people a 'living wage'. These proposals vary in scope, but the most commonly deal with the employees and contractors working for local governments. The amount of money that constitutes a living wage is generally determined by calculating the average cost of living for a particular area, including such costs as food, housing, health care, child care, and transportation. According to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a key proponent of living wage ordinances, 123 localities have passed such laws . ACORN claims to be "... the nation's largest community organization of low and moderate-income families, with over 150,000 member families organized into 750 neighborhood chapters in more than 60 cities across the country. "

Finally, there is a proposal that doesn't involve the government at all. Some private organizations have taken the initiative to institute their own job training programs for welfare recipients. One such program is called Project Independence. The Congress Of Racial Equality (CORE) sponsors this program. It is targeted at young adults in inner cities, providing them with job skills training and helping them to find employment in the private sector . The training provided by project independence is more along the lines of an apprenticeship than a class, taking place primarily in work environments rather than in the classroom. CORE describes itself in terms of its history, saying it is "...the third oldest and one of the 'Big Four' civil rights groups in the United States."

Education, the Missing Element

While all of the proposals that I have mentioned deal with important parts of the poverty problem, I believe that there is a dimension that is clearly missing; education. According to the Census Bureau's statistics from 2003, 21.3% of people living below the poverty level had no high school diploma. Another 11.3% had completed high school, but had no college. 8.5% had some college, and only 4.2% had a college degree. Strikingly, 41.5% of poor women between the ages of 25 and 34 had no high school diploma . By contrast, the Census estimates that 84.6% of the general population aged 25 or older hold high school diplomas, and 27.2% have at least a bachelor's degree . With these numbers in mind, it would be difficult to argue that there isn't a clear correlation between education and poverty.

While some of the organizations mentioned in the previous section deal with 'training opportunities' for welfare recipients, none go far enough. The only real solution to the problem of poverty in America is to give everyone equal opportunity and access to higher education. I therefore propose a new piece of welfare reform legislation, the Teach A Man to Fish act, or TAMF.

As I mentioned in the first section, public opinion on what to do with Welfare can seem contradictory. While people are not necessarily opposed to providing educational opportunities to the poor, personal responsibility is of high importance to Americans. I believe that my proposal meets both of these criteria.

TAMF would entail providing help finishing high school, as well as a college education, to anyone qualifying for TAMF. While beneficiaries of TAMF are in school, the welfare countdown will be frozen. This is to prevent recipients from losing benefits while they are in the process of getting a degree.

This program would require increased government spending for the first number of years, but it has built into it a plan to make the program self sustaining until it is no longer needed. Recipients of educational assistance, upon graduation from college and entry into the workforce, would be assessed an additional surcharge on their income tax of between 1 and 2 percent of their gross annual earnings.

This new tax would only affect former recipients of TAMF benefits, and the revenue would go directly back into the program's operating fund. The idea behind this is that college educated people are much more likely to have high paying jobs, so as more and more people graduate from the TAMF program, more people would be paying into it.

If, for example, there were 100,000 former TAMF beneficiaries in the workplace, each making $50,000 per year, a 1% surcharge would result in operating funds for the program of $50,000,000. Obviously, a 2% surcharge would double that figure. Since people generally spend far more years in the workplace than they do in school, once this program had been working for eight or ten years it would begin to pay for itself.

Because the former recipients of the TAMF benefits would be the ones paying for it, the program would meet the people's demand for personal responsibility. This is not a handout, it is a hand up.

Of course, there barriers to escaping poverty other than education; many people living below the poverty line can't work due to drug addiction, mental illness, physical handicap, or other conditions. The TAMF program would provide solutions to these people as well. If fully funded, TAMF would provide drug rehabilitation services, mental health treatment, and special accommodations to the mentally and physically disabled. Also, people with severe disabilities to education and would still qualify for other forms of government compensation.

This is a particularly salient time to discuss the importance of higher education as it relates to the workplace. In recent years, we've seen more and more American manufacturing jobs sent overseas. Workers in developing countries are simply able and willing to work for less than Americans are. As shipping and global communications become easier, this trend is likely to continue. The best long range economic opportunity we have is to develop our intellectual capital. TAMF does just that. If it becomes law, this proposal will help the overall economy by encouraging companies to hire Americans to do their high paying jobs, the sorts of jobs that require a college education. Eventually, as families break out of the cycle of poverty, fewer and fewer people will use it. Fewer will pay into it, and it will dissapate on its own as it becomes less needed.

As I said, the driving goal of any welfare reform policy should be the elimination of poverty. This proposal stands a good chance of closing in on that goal, and I believe that it should be attempted. Education offers people a door. It offers them an opportunity they otherwise wouldn't have had. In 2003 there were 35.9 million people living below the poverty line in the United States of America. How many there will be in 2023 is entirely up to us.

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Poll
Could this, in a million years, be feasible?
o Yes 42%
o No 38%
o It could, but it's a terrible idea 19%

Votes: 26
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Display: Sort:
Welfare Reform and Education | 367 comments (351 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
Interesting idea... (2.80 / 5) (#4)
by Dont Fear The Reaper on Wed Dec 15, 2004 at 11:24:13 PM EST

I'm curious: have you run any numbers at all to see how feasible it would be to pay for a college education with a 1 or 2 percent tax on an average college graduate's wages? Do you have any numbers to support the idea that it could fund drug rehabilitation and mental health treatment for those that need it, or "other forms of compensation" for those with severe disabilites? Do you have any data on what those things might cost? Because right now it just looks like a bunch of hand waving.

Lifetime (3.00 / 2) (#10)
by unknownlamer on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 12:34:16 AM EST

It looks like the tax would be attached to the reciepient until he died.

2% of a college graduate's income, assuming he works until 65, should cover college. State Universities cost around $3500 per semester if you are in state. $3500 * 8 = $28000.

If the person graduated and made $35000 per year, that's $700 per year at 2% so his college education is paid back in 40 years if he continues to make the same amount of money. If you work from the age of 30 until 65 you come within five years of paying it back given static income.

Most people will have more income over time, let's say $1000 more per year to make up for people who have a drop in income and inflation, it would work. $1000 is ~2.28% (floored not rounded) so...

0.02 * sigman=0n=35 (35000 * (1 + .028)n) = ~42560.38 (again floored).

In the end a normal reciepient will more than pay back what was given to him.



--
<vladl> I am reading the making of the atomic bong - modern science
[ Parent ]
So, based on that (none / 1) (#12)
by Dont Fear The Reaper on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 01:10:55 AM EST

a normal recipient may or may pay the money back, but you'll certainly have to wait 30-40 years. And that's not taking into account administrative overhead for the program, costs beyond tuition that a poor student might have that would prevent them from completing or doing well in college, or external costs like the increased tax revenues necessary to pay for more students at state colleges. Forget about things like mental health treatment or drug rehabilitation. You'd better hope that the dropout rate would be low enough to sustain an average expected income comparable with the typical, more self-selected college-goer.

[ Parent ]
Better Than Now... (none / 0) (#13)
by unknownlamer on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 01:20:58 AM EST

With current Welfare policies there is no extra money going into it above and beyond what any normal person would pay in taxes. It'll still bleed cash but slightly less and may be self-sustaining after thirty or so years.

I'm not really trying to defend the author's proposal, just pointing out a few numbers. The proposal does have a few good points (giving poor people the ability to go to college without huge loans and a multi-year disruption in their income) and a number of bad ones (the argument opens with a fictional anecdote intended to invoke a feeling of pity for the poor).

I think having to pay an extra two or three percent of one's income to the government in exchange for a free (at the time) education. The current system of government loans (in the US at least) could be fairly easily modified (instead of having a fixed term to pay the loan off, allow the person to pay a minimum of e.g. 3% of his yearly income until the loan is payed off).

All of this would be avoided if capitalism weren't such a fucked up economic system.



--
<vladl> I am reading the making of the atomic bong - modern science
[ Parent ]
And (none / 1) (#14)
by unknownlamer on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 01:41:41 AM EST

One could also require dropouts to pay for what they did complete using the same scheme but, instead of for a lifetime, only until they pay back what they owe after they are off of welfare entirely (and at a lower minimum rate ­­e.g. 0.5% of their income).

Requiring welfare recipients to get a GED but making it entirely optional to continue with college also fixes a number of the problems with money. Perhaps 1% of income is taxed for life on GED recipients and 3% on college graduates (in which case you get $63840.58 out of my hypothetical college graduate).

One could also gradiate the amount of income owed. More successful graduates would pay more percentagewise than less successful. So, for example, anyone making less than $30000 would pay 1%, between $30000 and $80000 2%, $80000 to $150000 3%, above that 4%. Perhaps even allowing for graduates to optionally pay more than the minimum required amount (some of the graduates will have to be the kind of people who are grateful for being given the tools to escape poverty and would give more back).

Finally, allowing anyone to pay an extra bit of taxes specifically to support the program would help. I'd be more willing to pay higher taxes if I knew the money was being used to help people instead of building guns to kill people with.

The author's idea is a good starting point that would stand a good chance of actually working with a few modifications and people willing to wait out the time neccessary for it to become mostly self-sustaining (not likely since American culture seems to be fixated on instant gratification). Maybe after a severe economic correction and the middle class is severly hit.

Limiting the length of the additional tax until the graduate of the program retires (when he recieves less than X% of his income from new sources, the rest being from his pension and social security) would help fight opposition as well.



--
<vladl> I am reading the making of the atomic bong - modern science
[ Parent ]
yuo hate teh poor people (none / 0) (#35)
by DominantParadigm on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 11:21:51 AM EST

just admit it

Caller:So you're advocating bombing innocent children? Howard Stern:Yes, of course!


[ Parent ]
Shit! (none / 0) (#37)
by Dont Fear The Reaper on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 12:04:29 PM EST

It's all true. In fact, I commit hate crimes against homeless people on a regular basis. I regret nothing!

[ Parent ]
discount (none / 0) (#121)
by Uber Banker on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 02:09:33 AM EST

you need to discount future value to present value.

[ Parent ]
Hope... (none / 0) (#135)
by unknownlamer on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 09:24:51 AM EST

One would hope that most people were recieving raises that at least matched inflation and that college tuition matched inflation and not much more.

Of course, seeing how my tuition went up from $3200 per semester to $4000, and I was actually making less money than when I started due to inflation after working at Quiznos for two years...



--
<vladl> I am reading the making of the atomic bong - modern science
[ Parent ]
but (none / 0) (#155)
by Uber Banker on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 12:04:37 PM EST

not only discount by inflation, discount by the long run interest rate of the economy, which is inflation plus the real rate (about 3% for the US), so if inflation averages 2% that's a discount rate of 5% without considering a risk premium (which in this ideal case is could be argued as irrelevent)

[ Parent ]
Ow, Numbers (none / 0) (#158)
by unknownlamer on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 12:12:49 PM EST

I think a $40kish return on an initial investment of $28k is about equal. I known nothing about financial math (although I did win the statewide DECA financial math competition when I was 14 by guessing...it just shows how dumb my competition was).



--
<vladl> I am reading the making of the atomic bong - modern science
[ Parent ]
sweden and the netherlands (none / 0) (#239)
by cyclopatra on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 05:31:17 AM EST

seem to use a similar system - in both countries, students get a combination of grants and loans (in the Netherlands, the grants convert to loans if you don't graduate within a given period of time) and the repayment is calculated as a percentage of your income. Apparently it works out OK in the Netherlands (they spend only slightly more than the US on higher education), not so much in Sweden (where "reform is on the agenda").

All your .sigs are belong to us.
remove mypants to email
[ Parent ]
About the kid (2.25 / 4) (#5)
by elver on Wed Dec 15, 2004 at 11:45:10 PM EST

About the kid at the beginning. If a mother can't support her kid, then it's up to the government to take the kid away and to give him proper parents. And yeah, shorten it and put it in the edit queue. Then we'll see.

"Proper parents" (2.50 / 4) (#7)
by cburke on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 12:03:33 AM EST

Man, that's such a scary mentality...  By becoming poor, she is no longer a proper parent...  As if being poor wasn't bad enough, now it comes with the threat of losing your children as well.  And apparently it isn't up to the government to help see that the parent -can- support her kid.  Nope, you're poor, no child for you.

It's a sad world without empathy.

[ Parent ]

Why not? (3.00 / 3) (#25)
by MrHanky on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 05:54:31 AM EST

Doesn't the child have the right to education, food, proper living conditions, etc.? And if the adult is incapable of being a parent, why should she have the right to be one?

Not that I disagree with you on that the government first should support the parent, but if that fails, they should care for the child in a more direct way. Far from all people are capable parents. Children should not grow up with heroin addicts, for instance.


"This was great, because it was a bunch of mature players who were able to express themselves and talk politics." Lettuce B-Free, on being a total fucking moron for Ron Paul.
[ Parent ]

The worst kind of Nanny State (none / 1) (#28)
by cburke on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 09:56:54 AM EST

I'm not saying that CPS shouldn't have the ability to take children out of dangerous or abusive or negligent homes, but that isn't what the post I replied to was about at all.  It was about being poor, and how being too poor made you inproper as a parent.

The child has a right to education, food, proper living conditions -- why do we have to take the child away from their parents to give them these things?  We don't, as you say, but it frightens me that some people think we do, because they don't want to help the child by helping the parent.

Is this the future the "personal responsibility" people want?  We won't give any aid to the struggling parent because they need "self determination", and when inevitably they can't give their kids what we define as "proper" living conditions (who lives in a Mazda?), we want the government to step in and take the kid away.  I can't think of a sadder and more heartless version of the "Nanny State" these people fear so much.

[ Parent ]

Parents (2.00 / 3) (#49)
by knight37 on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 02:15:23 PM EST

You know, Mrs. Buchman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car - hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they'll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.
-- Tod from "Parenthood"

Why should parenthood be an automatic right?




--Knight37

Once a Gamer, always a Gamer
[ Parent ]
What, shorten the kid? (none / 1) (#38)
by ksandstr on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 12:06:07 PM EST

And put him in the editing queue? What kind of a deranged bastard are you anyway?


[ Parent ]
Problem (none / 0) (#325)
by curien on Mon Dec 20, 2004 at 04:24:37 AM EST

My father was a social worker in Alameda County, CA (East Bay -- Oakland area) and later Guilford County, NC. He was the person who would physically enter a home (with police escort, of course) and remove children from an abusive environment, represent the children in court to ensure they lost custody rights, and then acted as case worker to find them a suitable home.

Suitable homes are few and far between, especially for older children and children "of color" (for lack of a better term). I don't have any stats, but it seemed like a large percentage of the abusive homes were foster homes that the kids had been placed in by the government. It doesn't do a kid much good to go from one abusive situation to another.

--
This sig is umop apisdn.
[ Parent ]

The poverty line is not a great indicator. (none / 1) (#8)
by Teuthida on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 12:22:45 AM EST

I'm a student. Not counting tuition, I live on a bit over CAD$10k/yr, which is slightly below the US poverty line and well below the line in Canada. I don't consider myself particularly poor - I'm definitely not "below the threshold for a decent standard of living."

I live in a pretty scuzzy apartment, but I have a decent TV and stereo, both purchased with my $10k/yr, cable, broadband, a fairly modern computer, plenty of cash left over for fast food, booze, the odd computer upgrade.

This makes any poverty figures questionable. How many people in my situation are included?

I am, however... (none / 1) (#9)
by Teuthida on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 12:24:19 AM EST

Too poor to click "topical".

Dumbass.

[ Parent ]

Fixed. (none / 1) (#57)
by aphrael on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 03:20:39 PM EST



[ Parent ]
I keep telling people..... (none / 0) (#75)
by adimovk5 on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 07:15:16 PM EST

.....that the admins will move comments to editorial from topical and vice versa. They never believe me.

[ Parent ]
I always do if I see them (none / 0) (#102)
by aphrael on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 08:23:44 PM EST

or if someone asks me about it on irc. Email is spottier, though.

Part of the problem here, though, is that editors can't do it, only admins; so there are fewer people available to bug.

[ Parent ]

How much of a problem is it? (none / 1) (#133)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 08:10:53 AM EST

More to the point, why hasn't there ever been an intelligent software fix to the problem? It would seem to me that it would be incredibly trivial to impose the same kind of constraint on posting a comment as there is on, say, selecting the category of a story before posting it. Why not have a null default value for the pull down list, and if you neglect to select something then a page is returned reminding you to select a comment type. It seems absolutely insane to me to have a default of "editorial", not just because there shouldn't be a default, but because if you actually are going to have a default value, it should be the value that the overwhelming majority of people mean to use. Computers are supposed to make our life easier and more pleasant. Do you enjoy fixing this bug by hand time and time again? :-/

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
null default (none / 0) (#278)
by adimovk5 on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 06:19:37 PM EST

I agree with skynight. The default should be null. If you make no choice, the system should ask you to choose either editorial or topical instead of defaulting editorial. You might still have to help a few people but action would be needed far less often.

[ Parent ]
But (none / 1) (#11)
by jongleur on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 01:08:30 AM EST

you probably don't have to keep up a junk car, pay for health insurance, or save for retirement or a house; if you did it might be different.
--
"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
[ Parent ]
Re: Poverty line (none / 0) (#18)
by diginhalation on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 02:50:58 AM EST

All the poverty statistics are taked from HHS and the Census. In terms of how many people fall above the poverty line and yet are unable to maintain a 'decent standard of living', there are no hard figures. The US poverty guidelines are based on food, and don't take into account; rising housing costs, health care costs (okay, y'all Canadians don't have to worry about that), or the cost of higher education.

[ Parent ]
10K (none / 1) (#115)
by losthalo on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 12:21:55 AM EST

I live on a bit over CAD$10k/yr

Before or after taxes?

[ Parent ]
How is this different from a student loan under (none / 1) (#20)
by jongleur on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 02:58:40 AM EST

slightly different terms?

The other objection is, you may end up jamming too many people into college. In general I believe in giving someone all the education they can hold, but, couldn't it lower standards to have an 'out' for welfare to be, to try to attend? I guess you could seal it off with the right conditions. But, I guess I see this program helping a slim percentage of people, and could be done with a tweak to the current system rather than requiring anything new.

I guess I like the idea of German-style vocational programs better (for the great bulk of people), but we don't have the same kind of companies that they do.
--
"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil

Interesting that .. (none / 0) (#21)
by Highlander on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 03:54:10 AM EST

Well, it is interesting that it is supposed to be self-financing. If it really is, you might even be able interest some big insurance company in running such a scheme; Although unfortunately the pay-outs happen before the pay-ins, so it is a scheme that is hard to start by business alone - it is more like a student loan. You might be able to interest someone like Soros in running such a scheme someplace he got a focus on.

Moderation in moderation is a good thing.
Not to offend (2.25 / 4) (#22)
by pHatidic on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 05:20:12 AM EST

But if you had taken even a cursory look at the webpage of the bureau of labor statistics you would know that the most common occupations in the United States are waiter and waitress, fast food industry, receptionist, janitor, management, stock clerk, postal worker, and material movers, in no particular order. None of these require the skills taught in high school or college except maybe management which is a very broad category. So how would paying HUGE amounts of money for high school and college educations help people get jobs when the most common jobs don't require them?

If you want to talk about providing education in terms of vocational training, that is one thing, but I think high school is a poor solution to getting people of welfare.

Also I should admit I didn't actually get all the way through the article so if I missed something feel free to bitch me out.

Sorry to reply to me own post (3.00 / 2) (#23)
by pHatidic on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 05:23:14 AM EST

But I feel it is also worth pointing out that 25% of all homeless are veterans of foreign wars, many of whom already have both high school educations and job skills. However many of them are unable to work because they are suffering from both physical and emotional trauma.

[ Parent ]
Bah (none / 1) (#113)
by Wulfius on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 10:31:15 PM EST

What a silly notion.

So you think all postal workers/waiters/janitors should be uneducated?

Life is not just about work. Giving people education expands their horisons.

Your waiter might be an amateur theater actor or similar profession that makes people lives better.

Education, undisputedly makes lives better, everyones lives.

---
"We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!
[ Parent ]

Yes (none / 1) (#119)
by pHatidic on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 01:39:45 AM EST

but that isn't what the article is about, the article is about keeping people off welfare.

[ Parent ]
We can't all be alphas... (none / 0) (#180)
by dunkstr on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 03:44:59 PM EST

Don't you remember the island in Brave New World?

[ Parent ]
YALF (none / 0) (#326)
by curien on Mon Dec 20, 2004 at 04:51:15 AM EST

"So you think all postal workers/waiters/janitors should be uneducated?"

That's not what he said. He said that education is not a requisite for such jobs. In the propositional calculus, he said
  ~(~q -> ~p)     (1)

whereas your quoted interpretation above is
  p -> ~q        (2)

where p = "x is a postal worker/waiter/janitor" and q = "x is educated".

Lets simpify the two statements a bit.

  ~(~q -> ~p)       (1)
  ~(~~q v ~p)        definition of ->
  ~(q v ~p)          double-negation
  ~q ^ p             DeMorgan's Law
  p ^ ~q             Associativity of ^

Let's call that last statement (1'), which might be interpreted informally as, "One can be both uneducated and a postal worker/waiter/janitor."

   p -> ~q          (2)
   ~p v ~q           definition of ->
   ~(p ^ q)          DeMorgan's Law

Let's call this last statement (2'), which might be interpreted informally as, "One cannot be both educated and a postal worker/waiter/janitor."

In any case, it should be easy to see that statements (1') and (2') are not equivalent, and since (1) and (1') are equivalent and (2) and (2') are also, then statements (1) and (2) must not be equivalent. If you don't believe me, do the truth table. I'm just a little too lazy for that.

One can clearly see that his statement in no way reflects your "interpretation" I quoted at the top. If you're still not sure, go ahead and make the truth table to convince yourself.

--
This sig is umop apisdn.
[ Parent ]

everyone should improve themselves (2.60 / 5) (#24)
by circletimessquare on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 05:48:03 AM EST

but no matter what policies you implement, it really doesn't mean anything if the person doesn't want to improve themselves

yes, there are those who want to improve themselves, but don't know how, and you CAN help them

but it seems to me that in any society predicated upon the assumption that human beings have free will, you will always have a group of hard core destitute

in other words, helping absolutely everyone in society assumes you are willing to deny free will to some who are beyond helping in any other fashion

you really can't help someone who doesn't want to help themselves any other way

this observation goes beyond personal responsibility, i'm talking about the psychology of helplessness

so there is a point at which you have to recognize that some people are beyond helping, a hard core group who will always be poor, poor of their own psychological making, and to do something about them means you are willing to completely deny their freedoms

this doesn't mean you shouldn't try to help, or that there are plenty of other of people who want help and can be helped, but it means that forever more in human society there will be some sort of poverty in some small percentage, unless you are willing to violate someone's rights completely

because real poverty is about the spirit, not the wallet: poverty of the wallet for such people is a symptom of a much deeper malaise


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Well-said (none / 1) (#327)
by curien on Mon Dec 20, 2004 at 04:54:19 AM EST

"because real poverty is about the spirit, not the wallet: poverty of the wallet for such people is a symptom of a much deeper malaise"

There is poverty of the wallet, and there is poverty of the spirit. There isn't a one-to-one correspondance, though. I think the problem is that lazy people don't want to bother trying to distinguish between the two, and there's an aweful lot of lazy people.

--
This sig is umop apisdn.
[ Parent ]

Universal Living wage the only sensible solution (3.00 / 2) (#27)
by speek on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 09:05:24 AM EST

As productivity increases, the need for people's labor to provide our needs decreases. Thus, in order to employ everyone so they can earn a living, more and more work needs to be invented that has nothing to do with satisfying needs. This would be fine if the people inventing work were the ones doing it, however, most people don't have the means to invent the work they care about and make living at it, and so are forced to do someone else's invented labor for pay.

The more productivity increases, the more people have to work at these invented jobs, the more we enforce the power of those with capital. It'd be better to recognize that we simply don't need everyone to work, and we have the ability to provide a universal wage.

Universal wage would help remove barriers to real productivity increases, and it would end the harmful impact of welfare, which rewards not working. Universal wage is neutral to whether or not you earn money elsewhere. At first, the universal wage would be inadequate as a living wage, but over time it would grow. Alaska already has a minimal universal wage in place.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees

Um... (3.00 / 2) (#43)
by skyknight on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 01:23:42 PM EST

and what stops businesses from raising prices in response to the creation of a universal living wage, resulting in the need for an increased living wage, resulting in jacked prices, and so on? Are you going to propose government mandated prices for everything as well? Have you thought about the monstrous complications of actually trying to implement a universal wage? It seems to me that anyone who supports such a thing believes that they can tweak on variable in a mammoth multi-variable equation and yet not have any effects ripple outward.

Incidentally, this is a long winded and polite way of saying that I think this is bullshit.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
It's not printing money (none / 0) (#69)
by speek on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 05:58:00 PM EST

It's taking money from one source and giving it to another, so no net increase in money. If business want to increase their prices, fine, but most likely they'll just get fewer customers.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Er... I don't know about that. (none / 1) (#71)
by skyknight on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 06:25:51 PM EST

The net effect might just be that businesses still do the same volume, and thus all you're doing is transferring money from tax payers to business owners. In other words, you're an accidental proponent of corporate welfare.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
well ok (none / 0) (#74)
by speek on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 07:13:04 PM EST

Only in the sense that giving people money to spend is a form of corporate welfare. With that way of looking at things, any tax cut on the poor is corporate welfare.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

The issue here is pretty simple... (none / 1) (#129)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 07:55:50 AM EST

You're thinking in terms of absolutes. That is your mistake. The market, at its core, does not care about dollars, or yen, or whatever. The market cares about about relative values. It assigns values of relative worth to goods and services. No matter how many pieces of paper you shove into the palm of a burger flipper, the market is going to assert that a good software engineer is worth more than 20x what the burger flipper is earning. If the burger flipper gets $5/hr, then our imaginary software engineer is going to get $100/hr. If you establish a living wage of $15/hr, then the software engineer is going to get $300/hr. Furthermore, the relative worth of a burger flipper or software engineer as compared to some arbitrary quantity of goods and services is fixed. Thus if you increase the amount of paper money in the hands of either of them, the seller of the goods and services that they desire will charge more for them. The seller's price adjustment will be the rational response to his increased labor costs as the result of this living wage. See where we're going with this?

You can only really have one effect with a living wage, and that is to temporarily squash the disparity between minimum wage earners and skilled labor. There is no free lunch, and the minimum wage earners are getting a momentary cash infusion. From whence shall it come? It's going to momentarily sting all of the higher wage earners until various pressures bring the system back to a state of equilibrium, as they inevitably will. Thus, your proposal is that of temporary robbery of skilled labor to subsidize the sloth and bad planning of low wage earners. Let's face it, anyone who is supporting a family while working at Burger King has fucked up, and by subsidizing those kind of fuck ups, you are encouraging it. Being a single parent burger flipper is a miserable life, and it should be. Were it not, we'd have a veritable armada of teen mom burger flippers, and that would be just idiotic. The world has enough problems without deliberately encouraging them through economic subsidy. That's suicide by social engineering. I worked at McDonald's once. I was 16, and it was for extra pocket money. That is the only expectation that people should have from such a job. It is not the financial bedrock that is required to raise a family and it shouldn't be.

The only way to fix your proposal so that it would have a permanent positive effect for the lowest wage earners instead of a temporary one would be to also impose wage caps on the higher wage earners so that their pay could not shift to reflect the artificial floor that you have put in place. Of course, this would severely punish skilled labor, eliminating the (financial) incentive for, say, a software engineer, to invest an enormous amount of time and energy in developing an advanced skill set. There exist only two possible outcomes for this scenario. Either the economy will be decimated as it bleeds out skilled labor, or a black market will be created in which skilled labor is able to find work at wages that reflect its real value. Of course, both of these scenarios I describe do nothing for the long term benefit of the minimum wage earner. Either they will find themselves living in an economically decimated country, or they will find that their government issued paper currency isn't worth shit because it can't buy goods on the newly created black market.

Do you really want this? Have you thought this through and come to the conclusion that this is how you want the world to work? I suspect that it is more likely that you just haven't thought things through. This is, in my mind, the root cause of all political lunacy. Someone comes up with an idea at time t, hypothesizes about the effects implementing it would have on time t+1 for a subset of variables, only gives a cursory glance at other variables, and completely neglects to examine the effects on any variables at larger time steps down the road.

The next time that you think that we can cure poverty by instituting a living wage, please lie down and wait for the urge to pass. We'll all be the better for it.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
You're doing the same thing. (none / 1) (#156)
by Kwil on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 12:10:38 PM EST

That is, assigning absolute values to things. Except in your case, it's wages instead of prices. You've somehow decided that employee X's wage is based absolutely on employee Y's wage, but it's not. It's based on the standard of living that it can buy.

I mean really, does the software engineer feel put out because the bum that used to ask him for quarters on the way to work every day is no longer there? No. He cares about being able to afford his Lexus and his 3 bedroom time share in Florida.

Does a living wage change that? Not really, because incomes were not evenly distributed to begin with.  A living wage gives a very large number of people the ability to purchase the basic necessities where they couldn't before. Thus, they see an significant increase in price. Is that increase in price equal to the living wage? No, because the people who could afford them before were already purchasing them -- that's why they're basics. Ergo, demand hasn't increased as much as the money supply has.

On the other hand, it gives very few people the ability to purchase a new Lexus where they couldn't before, because of the difference in price scales. So the price of the Lexus does not go up very much.

Net result, the gain on the bottom end isn't near as much as you'd hoped it would be, although there is some, and the gain decreases as the economic level of the person increases. There is no loss at the top end, because the amount of hte living wage doesn't make a difference to their concerns. Yacht & monocle demand does not spike, though you may tip your waiter a little more once in a while.

When you realize that wages are set on the lifestyles they buy, you see that a living wage isn't near as damaging as you like to think.

No, the big problem with a living wage is how do you afford it in the first place. That's where the problem actually lies and where damage to the economy might occur. If you were running a living wage by somehow externalizing the cost of providing it, you'd be okay. Unfortunately, there's really no way to do that within a single nation.

Of course, if you hold the attitude that people should suffer when shit happens, then you'll not want to believe this. I do understand it, however, after all, it's so much more pleasant to believe that someone who works hard and the best they can won't have their job suddenly outsourced, but rather that "they fucked up" somehow.  To believe otherwise would mean realizing it might happen to you, and that's not nice at all.  

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
So... (none / 0) (#198)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 05:33:25 PM EST

Did you just prove that there is such a thing as a free lunch?

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
no free lunch (none / 0) (#204)
by speek on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 05:44:22 PM EST

But a lot of hard work has gone into increasing productivity for a long time. The net outcome has been some really really cheap lunches, and a lack of need for most people to do any of the work to get make it.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

You might be right... (none / 0) (#207)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 05:50:15 PM EST

in the context of a perfectly benign world in which everyone is peaceful and reasonable, but that view is too first world centric. The overwhelming majority of the world is still dirt poor, and it's not clear to me that letting everyone have a free lunch would be particularly sustainable. The world is basically in a state of war at all times, and the existence of power hungry people is a given. Thus idleness and disorganization is a very dangerous proposition. Also, there is the matter of constraints. If all constraints were lifted, and people were basically just free to make babies all to no end, how long would any surplus last? How long would it be before we were bumping up against the limits of what this planet could sustain? The sustainability of the human species up until now has been possible because of extreme hardship. If everything is just la-dee-da then we're going to create a whole slew of new problems.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
what? (none / 0) (#219)
by speek on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 07:53:02 PM EST

A)I've been talking about the US and the US alone,
B)People in the US are mostly la-dee-da and are free to make babies as much as they want - adoption alone provides more outlet than anyone seems interested in taking advantage of, and
C)Baby-making has almost always declined given wealth and western education

I guess I just don't know what you're worrying about here.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

I think that the making of babies... (none / 0) (#228)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 09:20:49 PM EST

is very much constrained by finances. Children are phenomenally expensive things to have.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Yes, but it's not that simple (none / 0) (#338)
by curien on Mon Dec 20, 2004 at 07:16:33 AM EST

The less the mother and primary caretakers get paid, the lower the opportunity cost of a child. So yes, children are expensive, but children are less expensive for poor parents than for rich parents.

--
This sig is umop apisdn.
[ Parent ]
I am convinced... (none / 1) (#340)
by skyknight on Mon Dec 20, 2004 at 07:26:11 AM EST

that the #1 cause of financial hardship in the US is having children too soon. Children cost way more than people think, and having them is not a matter that one should pursue lightly. I've thought about this a lot, and I really don't want to have any until I've paid a house off. I'm thinking 35 could be a comfortable time to start. I know what my parents have been through, as they basically started having children as soon as they got married, and had five of them at that. They have spent the entirety of their married lives trying to outrun bills. They have managed to survive, but I think it has taken a heavy toll on them. When I have children of my own, I don't want that gun to my head. I want my financial base to be solid, and whatever money I earn after that point to be gravy.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Have children late (3.00 / 2) (#346)
by doconnor on Mon Dec 20, 2004 at 12:01:02 PM EST

One thing to keep in mind is that it take more then money to raise a child. It requires quite a bit of physical stamina. If you start at 35, when you're 40 you have to keep up with a 5 and 2 year-old and when your 50 you have to keep up with a 15 and 12 year-old. You won't be rid of them until you are 56.

Also having children usally requires the primary care-giver to to several years off. This can be detrimental to thier career, but it easier to recover from if it occours at the beginning of thier career at 25 rather then the middle at 35.

I'm just saying having children involves many factors.

[ Parent ]

That's why I plan... (none / 0) (#362)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 24, 2004 at 11:49:09 AM EST

on exercising a whole lot so I can be Superman when I'm 50 and manage to keep up with my children. A big part of my plan is my Tae Kwon Do and wrestling background. I don't ever want my kids to be able to beat me up. :-)

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
you haven't understood "universal wage" (none / 0) (#174)
by speek on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 03:08:11 PM EST

A living wage couldn't be "$15/hr". It's not a wage for work done. It's just money you get, period. Work or no work. Rich or poor. Male or female, black or white. It's not per hour of labor or anything like that.

You are thinking minimum wage, which is a whole 'nother animal that becomes entirely obsolete if an adequate universal wage (stipend?) is implemented.

Furthermore, a burger flipper is not worth 1/20 of a software engineer independent of other changes in the world. It all depends on supply and demand, and if a universal wage decreases the number of people interested in flipping burgers more than it decreases the number of people interested in writing software, then you can bet your ass that the relative worth of the burger flipper will rise.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

So... (none / 0) (#205)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 05:45:08 PM EST

you just want to give people food stamps, or K-rations, or whatever?

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
money (none / 0) (#220)
by speek on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 07:54:30 PM EST

Just straight up money. Not interested in dictating it's use. Not interested in giving it only to the poor or the unemployed.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Hm... (none / 0) (#227)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 09:19:26 PM EST

You realize that a lot of welfare money results in the purchase of cigarettes, beer, and scratch tickets, right?

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
so? (none / 0) (#241)
by speek on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 09:18:43 AM EST

I don't care what people do with their money.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Neither do I. (none / 0) (#246)
by skyknight on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 10:04:51 AM EST

I do, however, care what they do with my money, and you are proposing giving these people a "universal wage" and funding it with taxes. So, excuse me, but I do care how they spend "their" money.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
sounds like a character flaw [nt] (none / 0) (#275)
by speek on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 05:56:07 PM EST


--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

It is a character flaw on my part... (none / 0) (#276)
by skyknight on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 05:58:49 PM EST

to be resentful of people who siphon money off from me and then squander it?

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
basically, yes (none / 0) (#311)
by speek on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 10:30:39 AM EST

To believe that your money is yours unequivocally, that it is yours to determine when it has been squandered and when it has been spent wisely - that is a serious lack of perspective on your part. You owe more to the people who make your way of life possible than whatever minimal wage they are paid.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Ah yes... (none / 0) (#141)
by Shajenko on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 11:31:40 AM EST

The Theory.

This is brought out every time someone suggests increasing the minimum wage: the idea that prices will simply rise to compensate for the extra money people have available.

Thing is, it doesn't hold up in practice. Every time we've raised the minimum wage, inflation has either slowed or even reversed for a couple of years (at least) afterwards. Of course, you could argue that businesses simply wait a couple of years to raise their prices in response to all that extra money being spent. Of course, that's just silly.

You see, the flaw in The Theory is that its proponents ignore part of the capitalist system that they so often praise: competition.

Let's say company owner A is thinking about raising his prices to get more of the money that people have, due to their higher wages. Now, he knows that company owner B would just love to take away his business. So, if A decides to raise prices, B could easily leave his alone, and steal away a good deal of A's marketshare, leaving A with less total profit. A knows this, and will most likely leave his prices alone.

And that's how it plays out in practice.

[ Parent ]
Instead of rebutting this directly... (none / 0) (#143)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 11:38:52 AM EST

I will just refer you to my more voluminous comment further down in this thread. Economics involves the analogs of both thermodynamics and kinetics. In other words, there are both equilibria to consider and rates on reaction.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Of course... (none / 0) (#175)
by Shajenko on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 03:12:40 PM EST

You're simply asserting that certain people will demand a salary that is a specific ratio of another person's salary. You haven't made any mention at all about how raising minimum wage actually slows inflation down.

[ Parent ]
except (none / 0) (#176)
by speek on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 03:13:03 PM EST

economics is not so cleanly zero-sum as kinetics. Wealth does actually get "created". Productivity does increase.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

minimum wage increases (none / 0) (#280)
by adimovk5 on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 06:38:18 PM EST

If businesses are forced to pay higher wages for the lowest level employees, it raises labor costs. Eventually those costs will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices as the employer attempts to return the the original profit margin.

.....inflation has either slowed or even reversed for a couple of years.....

When has inflation ever reversed? And do the minimum wage increases often result in a delayed slowdown or are the instances statistical anomalies that only occured one or two times?

.....Let's say company owner A is thinking about raising his prices to get more of the money that people have, due to their higher wages. Now, he knows that company owner B would just love to take away his business. So, if A decides to raise prices, B could easily leave his alone, and steal away a good deal of A's marketshare, leaving A with less total profit. A knows this, and will most likely leave his prices alone.....

Then explain the behavior of gas stations. By your rule they would all charge the same in a region. They don't. Grocery stores also vary in price.

[ Parent ]

The effect will be delayed, because of sunk costs. (none / 0) (#296)
by kamil on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 12:34:11 AM EST

Business owners in minimum wage industries will not cut back on labor even if their business is a losing proposition because, they already spent the money and will try to recover as much as is possible. New business will not enter those industries, until demand for those services drives inflation in that sector of the economy until investing in minimum wage industries is competitive with investing in anything else. In the meantime total investment will drop as investors worry that government is prone to confiscate wealth by regulation in other ways and other industries, this risk premium will discourage investment and growth in the economy. The above only happens when minimum wage is raised above what the market is currently paying; otherwise the regulation has no effect on wage earners or the market. Kamil

[ Parent ]
The effect will be delayed, because of sunk costs. (none / 0) (#297)
by kamil on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 12:35:27 AM EST

Business owners in minimum wage industries will not cut back on labor even if their business is a losing proposition because, they already spent the money and will try to recover as much as is possible.

New business will not enter those industries, until demand for those services drives inflation in that sector of the economy until investing in minimum wage industries is competitive with investing in anything else.

In the meantime total investment will drop as investors worry that government is prone to confiscate wealth by regulation in other ways and other industries, this risk premium will discourage investment and growth in the economy.

The above only happens when minimum wage is raised above what the market is currently paying; otherwise the regulation has no effect on wage earners or the market.

Kamil


[ Parent ]

Works microcosmically (none / 0) (#328)
by curien on Mon Dec 20, 2004 at 04:59:08 AM EST

Take a look at the system with the US military. It's not quite a universal wage, as there are pay differences based on rank and time in service, but I (as a computer programmer) make the same as a cook (well, not really, since I got a bonus, but bonuses aren't guaranteed). Housing is a fixed-cost, as is food (fixed either at the DFAC or the commissary) and even a large range of basic goods and services are fixed-cost at the BX.

It works fairly well. It would make for an interesting case study, to say the least.

--
This sig is umop apisdn.
[ Parent ]

How well does that really work? (none / 0) (#335)
by skyknight on Mon Dec 20, 2004 at 06:45:03 AM EST

I don't have any experience with working in the military, but my intuition tells me that it would work terribly. How can you attract talented software developers when you promise them nothing more than cooks? It would seem to me that recruitment would be extremely difficult. Sure, you'll get some talented people, but I would think that they were more an aberration than the rule.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Doesn't work too bad (none / 0) (#337)
by curien on Mon Dec 20, 2004 at 06:59:00 AM EST

I'm actually quite amazed at the level of the software developers in uniform. In the AF, you have to basically take an IQ test to get into the field (it's the only career field that requires it), so we all have a minimum level of intelligence. After that, we all pretty much get the same amount of training (ie, none) and are expected to do things like write complex web applications and maintain large personnel databases.

Yes, there are some real "rocks" that I've worked with -- but no more it seems than in the civilian world. And of course, the more productive of us end up picking up the slack.

The thing is, the military doesn't care about attracting "talented software developers" or "talented mechanics" or "talented xxxx" of any kind. Their reasoning is that they can pick up Joe Schmoe off the street and, so long as he has some level of basic intelligence and motivation, he can be trained to do just about anything. And you know what? They're pretty much right.

The military's known all along what businesses only recently started to realize. Yes, software engineering on large, complex projects is a highly-technical skill and they usually end up contracting such work out. But coding a nifty little application that makes the General's life easier (web-based performance reports, database for FOIA requests, I could list some more stuff I've worked on if you like) is really monkey-work that just about anyone can do.

That said, there's a reason that the AF gave a $40k re-enlistment bonus to me instead of to the cooks. OTOH, the bonus was eliminated shortly after I re-upped (has to do with the AF getting smaller and programmers being non-deployable).

--
This sig is umop apisdn.
[ Parent ]

Hm. Fair enough. (none / 0) (#339)
by skyknight on Mon Dec 20, 2004 at 07:21:04 AM EST

There is a world of difference between writing small stand alone applications, and writing large and complex software systems. Your point is well taken. However, I think that that is a dangerous mentality if not carefully regulated.

The problem is that a lot of major software projects have accidental conceptions (this sounds like something that would happen on the back seat of a car, but whatever). Someone writes a nifty little application to do something, then writes a another nifty little application to do something else, then realizes they might work well in tandem and conglomerates them into a larger application, etc. Before you know it, you've ended up with a gigantic code base that is a bunch of ill-tested, ill-designed, and undocumented kludgery. I know this from first hand experience because my last two jobs have involved coming aboard in precisely such scenarios. Several dozen small ideas had all seemed like simple little jobs by themselves, and had gotten all snarled up in a larger super-system that was quite a mess, and extremely brittle.

You might say that once some critical threshold is reached that a decision would be made to outsource the project, but that does not seem likely. Nobody wants to take a code base of tens of thousands of lines that represents years worth of work and just say "ok, we're going to have this rewritten from scratch, and somebody else is going to do it". To put it simply, unexpected success is perhaps the worst nightmare in engineering domains.

You have to build your systems to solve today's problems today, but you really ought to have an eye to tomorrow's problems as well, and that means figuring out how you are going to leverage your existing infrastructure in a sensible way as opposed to having to do a major rewrite or having to tolerate functionality being crammed awkwardly into a framework that is ill-suited to supporting it. To that end, you need well designed and crafted code that is robust but malleable, you need documentation that lets you comprehend a region of the system quickly, and you need extensive regression tests so you won't be afraid to refactor code.

There's a reason that most of the software systems in the world are just barely creaking by. Most people are just too short-sighted about the long term costs of sloppy development. I think this has to do not just with the fact that software is relatively new to humanity, but that largely you cannot see it, so people have a hard time conceptualizing how much labor goes into constructing it. Why is it that people would never interrupt a bridge building project and say "oh, I changed my mind, I want four lanes, not two", but this kind of thing happens all the time with software and is deemed totally acceptable?



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Happens a lot (none / 0) (#342)
by curien on Mon Dec 20, 2004 at 07:58:39 AM EST

Someone writes a nifty little application to do something, then writes a another nifty little application to do something else... Before you know it, you've ended up with a gigantic code base.
You might say that once some critical threshold is reached that a decision would be made to outsource the project, but that does not seem likely.

That's actually exactly what happens, mostly. Usually, it involves the programmer who started the application getting out of the military and getting a contract, continuing the work as a civilian.

It doesn't happen as often as you might think it does, though. The reason is that there's too much red tape involved in writing a piece of software. Before anything is allowed on the network, it has to go through so much bullshit bureaucratic red tape, hardly anything "conglomerates" in the way you described.

Versioning is the same way -- any time the code base is changed, you have to go through all the BS again. There is a short-list of things that the military does not fuck around with, and using uncertified software ranks right up there with downloading kiddie porn.

It's a PITA, useless process 99% of the time, but it does have some benefits.

The software for really important stuff -- weapons systems, communications infrastructure, that kind of thing -- of course don't get touched by us any more than the flight line mechanics get to design the next tactical fighter. But the rest of the stuff -- things that streamline business processes, compile data, that kind of thing -- we do all that.

For example, I'm helping a friend of mine (in my spare time -- blah) write a database app with a web interface that keeps track of all the flights coming into Spangdahlem. Is anyone going to die if it breaks? No. Will mission be impacted? Well, maybe a little, but it's not like the flight line is going to come to a screeching halt because an incoming flight can't get marked as "landed" in the DB and turn green on the Wing Commander's report. There's also no reason to pay someone huge wads of cash to write it.

--
This sig is umop apisdn.
[ Parent ]

And when that money floods the markets (3.00 / 2) (#51)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 02:26:23 PM EST

and inflation drives up the prices of everything - what will you have solved?

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it is insane. - Obscure Chinese Proverb
[ Parent ]
flooding? (none / 0) (#70)
by speek on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 05:58:50 PM EST

There's an equally large drain that powers the "flood", so no net increase in money supply.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Eh? What drain is that? (none / 0) (#72)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 06:54:31 PM EST

Higher salaries? That will just further drive inflation - just as health care benefits encourage an increase in medical costs and tuition grants encourage higher tuitions.


A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it is insane. - Obscure Chinese Proverb
[ Parent ]
tax (none / 0) (#73)
by speek on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 07:06:07 PM EST

The money comes from taxes. You take money out from one source, put it back in via the universal wage. No net money increase.

There could be some inflation, but that doesn't mean nothing has been changed for the better. Your argument seems to be based on the idea that there has to be some percentage of the population living below a basic means level, because otherwise, inflation results thereby making it so. But I don't agree that's true - I think a system that brought everyone up to a relatively high minimum level could create some inflation but at the same time not knock all those people at that level below a livable level.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

What? (none / 0) (#96)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 08:13:52 PM EST

WTF?

So, the government is going tax everyone and then hand that money out to businesses so they can pay higher wages?

Yeah. That'll work real smooth.

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it is insane. - Obscure Chinese Proverb
[ Parent ]

er? (none / 0) (#111)
by speek on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 09:44:40 PM EST

Serious miscommunication. You asked what the "drain" is - the answer is taxes. Taxes drain money, it "floods" back in via the universal wage. Maybe we shouldn't be using loaded terms, but that was your choice.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

I'm afraid you still aren't making sense. (none / 0) (#114)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 11:17:57 PM EST

A forced increase in the minimum wage will drive employer's costs through the roof and flood the economy with extra dollars. Both effects will cause inflation to rise until the effect of the "living wage" has been erased.

You have yet to explain how extra taxes - an additional cost to employers or consumers - will change this.

RUN !! IT?S AN ATTACK OF THE ?WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS? NAZIS!!!! - Brian Crouch
[ Parent ]

Not neccessarily (none / 0) (#136)
by wiredog on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 11:00:49 AM EST

Employers, faced with a large increase, will cut back on hiring, which reduces the inflationary effect of a higher minimum wage.

I think it would be workable if the minimum wage, and some other things (amt and inheritance taxes) were automatically adjusted for inflation.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]

um (none / 0) (#172)
by speek on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 02:56:03 PM EST

Who said anything about increasing minimum wage? You've really gotten this discussion completely off-track.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

*I* gotten the conversation off track. (none / 1) (#249)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 10:12:55 AM EST

Excuse me, but obviously you're using the word "wage" in some manner not actually defined in the dictionary.

RUN !! IT?S AN ATTACK OF THE ?WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS? NAZIS!!!! - Brian Crouch
[ Parent ]
Yes. (none / 1) (#252)
by skyknight on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 11:14:26 AM EST

He similarly confused the bejeezus out of me, and I went off on a long tirade assuming some definition completely different from what he meant. However, I equally dislike it regardless of which of the two meaning we are to assign to it. It's just a matter of which rant would ensue.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
allow me to translate (none / 0) (#238)
by cyclopatra on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 05:14:28 AM EST

speek isn't talking about an increase in the minimum wage. He/she is talking about, basically, a minimum income that everyone gets, provided by the government.

All your .sigs are belong to us.
remove mypants to email
[ Parent ]
I see. (none / 0) (#250)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 10:14:47 AM EST

I don't think that words means what he thinks it means.

A "wage" is not paid by the government. If he wants to talk about universal welfare or some other bit of silly communism he should at least have the brains to define his terms correctly.

RUN !! IT?S AN ATTACK OF THE ?WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS? NAZIS!!!! - Brian Crouch
[ Parent ]

While there is no net increase in money... (none / 0) (#131)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 08:01:48 AM EST

in the system, there is a net increase in the rate of volume per unit time. A given amount of money will buy less goods, thus more of it will be required for a given transaction, and you'll drive inflation that way. This isn't complicated. Instead of earning $5/hr and paying $3 for a hamburger, people will earn $10/hr and pay $6 for a hamburger. This helps us how? You have the same amount of money chasing the same goods but you're changing the value of one parameter and propagating its effects out to other variables. Of course, this increase in volume may cause liquidity issues, the result of which may be that the government issues more money.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
I don't disagree there would be inflation (none / 0) (#171)
by speek on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 02:54:51 PM EST

But I think you make an assumption that prices would necessarily rise to the point where the gains (by the poor) are fully negated. I don't believe this is necessarily so - I don't think it's even reasonable to believe such.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Thing is... (none / 0) (#179)
by Shajenko on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 03:22:20 PM EST

Every time we've raised the minimum wage, inflation has slowed, or even reversed. It's never gone the way cheap labor conservatives say: prices immediately shooting up to compensate.

[ Parent ]
You realize... (none / 0) (#194)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 05:20:05 PM EST

that in huge economic systems that there is a ton of lag between the application of an action and its effects rippling throughout the system, right? I would be interested in seeing statistics that actually back up your claims, and reasoning that shows that the statistics are not just noise.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Why didn't you say so? (none / 0) (#217)
by Shajenko on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 07:45:52 PM EST

So glad you asked :-D

Take a look at this page: CHEAP-LABOR CONSERVATIVES RESPOND. It contains the statistics you're looking for.

[ Parent ]
Hm... (none / 0) (#229)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 09:21:47 PM EST

I suppose you could have picked a less reputable looking site, but I'm not yet sure how.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Heh (none / 0) (#244)
by Shajenko on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 09:42:18 AM EST

I know, the United States government isn't especially trustworthy, but they're the ones who kept track of the statistics.

Check the unemployment statistics yourself. What was the Inflation Rate Then?

[ Parent ]
Tell me this... (none / 0) (#248)
by skyknight on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 10:09:19 AM EST

What are you trying to prove with inflation rates? Make a claim, and I will evaluate it and offer criticism of its validity.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
It's very simple... (none / 0) (#256)
by Shajenko on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 12:37:31 PM EST

The common claim is that raising the minimum wage causes inflation to very quickly make the increase in wages meaningless. But if you look at the data, you see that after each one of the minimum wage increases in US history, inflation has gone [b]down[/b] for the year afterwards, and often for a while longer.

The point is, the cheap labor conservative theory that minimum wage increases cause inflation is simply wrong.

[ Parent ]
Dammit... (none / 0) (#257)
by Shajenko on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 12:39:11 PM EST

Too much time on boards with different code requirements. The previous post should read:

The common claim is that raising the minimum wage causes inflation to very quickly make the increase in wages meaningless. But if you look at the data, you see that after each one of the minimum wage increases in US history, inflation has gone down for the year afterwards, and often for a while longer.

The point is, the cheap labor conservative theory that minimum wage increases cause inflation is simply wrong.

[ Parent ]
Problems with your conclusions (none / 1) (#282)
by adimovk5 on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 07:11:22 PM EST

.....The common claim is that raising the minimum wage causes inflation to very quickly make the increase in wages meaningless.....

What makes this claim common? I have often heard the claim that minimum wage increase cause inflation. I have never heard an authoritative source claim the inflation would follow immediately or quickly. Any economist worth his degree would understand that any action in the economy takes time to work its way through the economy. An increase in the price of a bushel of wheat doesn't instantly increase the price of a loaf of bread.

.....But if you look at the data.....

The data given is the rate of inflation over a period of years. The only data given is that which reinforces the author's claims. The author doesn't give all wage increase dates and all inflation rates. Also, the data is only a correlation. It's impossible to say with certainty that the wage increases did anything to inflation there are too many variables.

However, you can state with certainty that wage increases did not have the desired effect. Otherwise, why are they needed again? How did we survive without them before? Will we continue increasing the minimum on a regular basis? Why doesn't someone create a solution that doesn't require constant tinkering?

.....after each one of the minimum wage increases in US history, inflation has gone down for the year afterwards.....

Inflation didn't go down at any of the points mentioned. The RATE of inflation went down. The effect was temporary. Whether the effect was the result was caused by the minimum wage is impossible to say. It's a correlation not cause-and-effect. I suspect that a comparison of all inflation rates versus all increases in the wage would show zero correlation.

.....The point is, the cheap labor conservative theory that minimum wage increases cause inflation is simply wrong.....

If minimum wage increases don't cause inflation, why are prices higher? Wage increases cause and increase in labor costs. Increased labor costs reduce profits. Price inceases restore profits. Do you see an error in this logic?

[ Parent ]

Sure, sure (none / 0) (#324)
by Shajenko on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 11:51:01 PM EST

The data given is the rate of inflation over a period of years. The only data given is that which reinforces the author's claims. The author doesn't give all wage increase dates and all inflation rates.
So find one where it doesn't match up. I gave you the site that gives unemployment rates by the year for as long as those statistics have been kept. Finding the years when the minimum wage has been raised wouldn't be hard. Prove me wrong.
Also, the data is only a correlation. It's impossible to say with certainty that the wage increases did anything to inflation there are too many variables.
I don't have to prove that minimum wage increases decrease inflation, because I'm simply disproving the argument that minimum wage increase increase inflation, which is what the opposition is claiming. Correlation doesn't equal causation, but lack of correlation does equal lack of causation.

In other words, for the conservatives' argument to be accurate, inflation would have to go up after minimum wage increases, at a minimum. That's not the case. Therefore, their argument is wrong.
Whether the effect was the result was caused by the minimum wage is impossible to say. It's a correlation not cause-and-effect. I suspect that a comparison of all inflation rates versus all increases in the wage would show zero correlation.
You suspect? You've got the data, prove it.
If minimum wage increases don't cause inflation, why are prices higher? Wage increases cause and increase in labor costs. Increased labor costs reduce profits. Price inceases restore profits. Do you see an error in this logic?
Here's the error: prices rise in years when there is no minimum wage increase, and hasn't been for years.

Seriously, go to CG's forum. He has a one on one section. Try and convince some people.

[ Parent ]
Flawed assumption (none / 0) (#281)
by pyro9 on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 07:04:26 PM EST

Your figures work only if everyone's income is increased proportionally. However a universal wage would be a linear increase.

Let's say we decide on $10,000/year as a universal wage. People who used to make $10,000 now have $20k. Their income did double. People who made $20K before now have $30K. They only see a 50% increase. $100K before only see a 10% increase.

Prices will tend to inflate at the same proportion as the average income increase of the buyers of that product.

So, pulling purely hypothetical numbers out of a hat, let's say the average income was $50K before. Those people got a 20% increase. So the $3 burger now costs $3.60. A family that had a $50K income before is no better or worse off now. Someone who made $100K before is a little worse off (since they only got a 10% raise but 20% inflation). However, the poor family is much better off because they got a 100% raise but only 20% inflation.

The net effect is to push everyone a bit towards the middle.

It's also worth noting that is the universal wage is set high enough, it encourages entrepreneurship by reducing the consequences of failure and supporting the new businessman during the difficult starting years.


The future isn't what it used to be
[ Parent ]
Universal Basic Income (none / 0) (#348)
by badvoc on Tue Dec 21, 2004 at 08:02:39 AM EST

I think you mean "Universal Basic Income". "Universal Living Wage" is usually used to mean imposing a minimum wage high enough that no additional income is needed to live.

[ Parent ]
ya (none / 0) (#354)
by speek on Tue Dec 21, 2004 at 06:52:32 PM EST

I suppose I screwed that up.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

+1 FP, It will never happen! (2.00 / 3) (#29)
by codejack on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 09:58:19 AM EST

Hmm, Let's see here: The current administration is already trying to dismantle public education so as to create a nation of wage-slaves, as well as making sure that their kids have less competition for college admission, jobs, etc., and you think they actually want to further educate poor people? No, they're pleased as punch about this whole situation, whatever they may say publicly, and little Robert is how they want all poor kids to be.

After all, if wages go down, profits for corporations go up, and that's good for the economy!


Please read before posting.

Ah, that old democratic complaint. (3.00 / 2) (#50)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 02:20:17 PM EST

"The president is doing this!" "The president is doing that!"

The president doesn't control public education or even much of the money that pays for it. If you have a beef with how your schools are being run, take it up with your state and your county - because they're the ones that control the purse strings and the policies.

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it is insane. - Obscure Chinese Proverb
[ Parent ]

No. Child. Left. Behind. (none / 1) (#116)
by losthalo on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 12:38:25 AM EST

No. Text.

[ Parent ]
Yes and no (none / 1) (#138)
by wiredog on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 11:17:41 AM EST

Yes, it forces schools which receive federal funding to do certain things, as do most federal programs. But there's no law which prevents any school system from saying "We don't want your money, we're going to do it our way, dammit!"

The difficulty with doing that is getting the local residents to either pony up the difference in funding, or live with fewer programs beyond the basic 3 R's. In some States, such as California, (thank you Prop. 13) it's almost impossible to do that even if the locals want to.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]

No. Legal. Authority. (none / 0) (#251)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 10:30:27 AM EST

The schools don't have to accept the money he is offering.

RUN !! IT?S AN ATTACK OF THE ?WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS? NAZIS!!!! - Brian Crouch
[ Parent ]
Correction... (none / 0) (#353)
by Shajenko on Tue Dec 21, 2004 at 04:22:04 PM EST

They don't have to accept the money he's offerring to return to them. Don't forget where the money came from in the first place.

[ Parent ]
dismantle public education? (none / 1) (#56)
by aphrael on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 03:18:47 PM EST

I haven't seen that. The most i've seen is a proposal for a system wherein the government gives people money which they can then use to buy an education for their children at the school of their choice. That's still "public education"; and while it may be that the long-term plan is to then eliminate those subsidies, nobody's calling for that now.

[ Parent ]
from personal experiance. (2.83 / 6) (#31)
by xlylbit on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 10:23:32 AM EST

A few years ago after my divorse I started receiving welfare benifits. Not becouse I wanted to but becouse I had a child and his welfare took priority over my pride. I received section eight that paid not only my rent but also my electric bill, I also received free daycare, free health insurance, and $350 mo in food stamps. then becouse I did not wish to be on welfare I got a job. I was bringing home about $800 mo. With in 10 days of returning to the workforce all my benifits were cut off. I actually had a lower standard of living becouse I chose to work. I am not saying that welfare is neccessarily bad but more emphasis should be put into those who wish to improve there lives than those who wish to be carear welfare. perhaps continuing benifits for longer to provide an adjustment period.

That's not a welfare problem (none / 1) (#46)
by jubal3 on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 02:09:01 PM EST

It's a wage problem. The idea that working people with families HAVE to take $800 per month with no benefits because there just isn't any better work out there is a stark fact for lots of people.

And your description of welfare benefits is VASTLY more than anyone I've ever known on welfare. In most places for instance, section 8 has a 1-2 year waiting period.

I just checked with a friend and at present, Washington State pays a single person who is disabled waiting for SSDI (often a 1-2 year wait) $350 per month plus food stamps. That barely pays rent on a shitty shared apartment and one can only pray for mild winters ssothe heating bills can get paid.


***Never attribute to malice that which can be easily attributed to incompetence. -HB Owen***
[ Parent ]

It is a policy problem. (2.50 / 2) (#55)
by aphrael on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 03:17:38 PM EST

Welfare-to-work transitions could be structured so that benefits are phased out, and the benefit reduction could be set up so that you only lose, say, $.50 in benefits per dollar earned working. That we choose not to do this says a lot about our political priorities.

[ Parent ]
priorities (none / 1) (#65)
by jubal3 on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 05:12:12 PM EST

Unfortunately the Protestant work ethic left over from the days of Jefferson is far too ingrained in our culture (U.S.) to ever get a decent social welfare system.

Between the myth that somehow the average worker will get rich (never gonna happen for most) and the idea that everyone on the bottom is lazy or stupid (not true at all) I have ZERO confidence that we're ever going to get anywhere in the U.S. on this issue.

At its worst and most abused, the welfare system in the U.S. paid shitty for most people, and cost a comparitively trivial amount. (compared to say Social Security or defense spending).

We deperately need massive changes in labor laws and import/export policies before we can ever hope to address this issue on a meaningful way, and even then, voters are easily sold on the idea that welfare recipients are all lazy fat drug dealing sluts.

The fact that a permanent child care subsidy for EVERYONE for instance, an obvious benefit to the society, is NEVER going to happen here. And that alone would do more to solve poverty than any other single issue of reform.


***Never attribute to malice that which can be easily attributed to incompetence. -HB Owen***
[ Parent ]

Medical benefits (none / 1) (#118)
by Polverone on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 01:24:18 AM EST

Forget the food stamps and cash; the really tough thing to replace is the medical benefits. Nobody in their right mind, unless they're pretty healthy and reasonably lucky, will go from welfare to low-status work without health insurance. What sort of medical plan does Taco Bell have for 30 hour per week employees? How about 30 hour per week Wal-Mart employees? Maybe there's some special arrangement where if you work 30 hours a week at both Taco Bell and Wal-Mart, then you get a good health plan?

If you're not on welfare but don't have health insurance, one medical emergency can take all you have and then some.
--
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.
[ Parent ]

The way it works (none / 0) (#367)
by jubal3 on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 09:46:40 AM EST

when you are poor is not the same as the way it is when you are middle class.

"If you're not on welfare but don't have health insurance, one medical emergency can take all you have and then some."

If you're among the working poor (and I've been there before) medical bills aren't going to take anything from you.

In reality, if youdon't pay the bills,nothing happens. You get harassed by bill collectors, but you are judement proof. In every state in the U.S. there is an exemption for wage attachments. You can't attach someone's wages if it would make them homeless, unable to pay child care bills, etc. You wouldn't bother to take someone's car unless it's pretty new and paid off, even then you can't take it if the person has to have it to get to work.

The problem is that this kind of debt prevents you from ever getting OUT of poverty, and it's a major hassle.

Middle class people who've lost a job making 50k and are working for 30k with no insurance are in exactly the position you describe. They have lots of assets to take (comparatively).


***Never attribute to malice that which can be easily attributed to incompetence. -HB Owen***
[ Parent ]

there is no poverty in the US (2.25 / 4) (#34)
by bankind on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 11:19:58 AM EST

sorry but fat obese, malnurished on ho-hos and twinkies americans that own a car are not poor. children that have A school to attend are not poor. Hospitals that provide free health care, vacinations and dental mean that the person is not poor.

There are americans that have limited income, but the US has so much economic opportunity, non-monetary tranfers and services, questions like these underly the broader navel gazing probelms that make people fly jets into our buildings. There are americans that lack relative wealth, but I've grown up around the shotgun houses in the Mississippie delta and I know people from Destiny projects in New Orleans.

If you want poverty, come talk to the farmers I just met today living off 100,000 dong a month (about 8 dollars). Families barely able to make enough rice to eat and need to gather bananas to trade for fertilizer to stretch a rice crop two seasons.

Maybe rather than reform welfare, we should reform that failed government institution called US Ageny for International Developmemt (USAID). Certainly would save a whole lot more money in Iraq, than an education scheme that won't have an impact for 2 generations (yes-education spending has a 2 generation lag).

the Us poverty line begins at house, while every where else it starts at food. I just don't see the point.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman

sure but.. (none / 0) (#42)
by jarv on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 01:11:06 PM EST

How many dongs does it take to buy a banana?

[ Parent ]
Okay (none / 0) (#66)
by thankyougustad on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 05:13:42 PM EST

This is the second time I've asked this question: you do know that people are starving in America?

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
starving in America (none / 0) (#78)
by adimovk5 on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 07:30:33 PM EST

Yes there are people starving in America. There have been since the birth of the United States. The answer is simple. Go to where employment exists. Earn money. Get enough temporary charity from the kindhearted to get started.

The difference between the 1700s and 1800s and now is that most people expect the government to bail them out. They sit and wait and do nothing productive or constructive in the interim. They cry out that there's no work when what they really mean is there is no work they wish to do in the place where they are.

[ Parent ]

Woah (none / 1) (#81)
by thankyougustad on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 07:40:13 PM EST

Go to where employment exists. Earn money. Get enough temporary charity from the kindhearted to get started.

This is such a simple and elegant solution. We need to get this out to those people so they can pull themselves up by their bootstraps and become productive members of society.

All sarcasm aside, I agree that there are a ton of fat lazy welfare slobs. They aren't starving. So I'll say it again: there are people starving in America.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]

"go to where employment exists" (3.00 / 2) (#103)
by aphrael on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 08:27:11 PM EST

is difficult to do when you don't have the money to pay for the trip.

[ Parent ]
travel pay (none / 0) (#124)
by adimovk5 on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 06:50:06 AM EST

....."go to where employment exists" is difficult to do when you don't have the money to pay for the trip.....

Can you point out any place in America where the employment rate is 100%? There are jobs everywhere. There is no place that I know of that employment is in an unreachable place. In the example given, the victims are in a car moving every few days.

The problem is a desire to find similar or better employment OR have employment handed to them. People who want to work, period, will always find work.

[ Parent ]

What's your point? (none / 0) (#352)
by Shajenko on Tue Dec 21, 2004 at 04:17:49 PM EST

Can you point out any place in America where the employment rate is 100%?
What exactly are you trying to accomplish with this question? I seriously doubt there is anywhere that every single person who is willing and able to work has a job. If there were such a place, it would be no problem at all to get a job, so I'm not sure what you're trying to say.
There are jobs everywhere.
There were jobs everywhere during the Great Depression, but still the unemployment rate was 25%.
There is no place that I know of that employment is in an unreachable place.
But as you said yourself, there is no place with 100% employment, meaning a large number of people will still be unemployed.

I have a friend who had severe problems getting a job. She even went to fast food places, the so-called "bottom rung" of the employment ladder. They wouldn't hire her. She was previously doing customer service work.

One of the biggest CLC tactics is to address a systemic problem as if it was an individual problem. When the number of jobs created is less than the number of people added to the work force for a few years, you will have a larger and larger number of unemployed people. You can encourage them to get more education, and work harder at getting a new job, but you will still have a growing number of unemployed.

[ Parent ]
Read 'Nickel and Dimed' (none / 0) (#117)
by losthalo on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 12:42:20 AM EST

by Barbara Ehrenreich

[ Parent ]
NIckel and Dimed (none / 0) (#277)
by adimovk5 on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 06:12:13 PM EST

In the book writer Barbara Ehrenreich attempts to downgrade her lifestyle to that of a low wage worker. She attempts to live on her own while working no more than 40 hours a week. She constantly complains about the unfairness of the lifestyle.

Unskilled and low skilled work is for unskilled and low skilled people. It's entry level work. It's for beginners. It's not for adults. It's not a permanent way of life.

Who said that it's necessary to live on your own? Many people have roommates to share the rent. She could have sought out friends or coworkers to share with.

Why didn't she use social networks? There are many churches and charity services that will help people find shelter and food and work. Many people also get help from friends and family.

Barbara Ehrenreich sets up an impossible situation and then proves that the situation is unlivable.

[ Parent ]

ISTR (none / 0) (#294)
by losthalo on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 12:24:39 AM EST

she did make use of charity services at a number of points, and they were of pretty limited helpfulness. Feel free to correct me. As for roommates, who can you trust with all of your worldly possessions? Who can you trust to not sell drugs out of the place and get you a federal prison sentence when they get busted and pin it on you? Etc.

Barbara gave herself a reliable, working car and an allowance of cash to get started. Plenty of people are in a more desperate situation and have kids already to care for as well on top of it.

[ Parent ]
helpless Barbara (none / 0) (#306)
by adimovk5 on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 09:38:03 AM EST

.....she did make use of charity services at a number of points, and they were of pretty limited helpfulness.....

She couldn't possibly have exhausted all the charities. There are so many. However, aid from charity would have made her unable to paint her bleak picture. Therefore she only made cursory attempts.

.....who can you trust with all of your worldly possessions?.....

From what I understand she didn't have many worldly possession. She could have shared rent with co-workers. They were living drug free lives too.

.....Plenty of people are in a more desperate situation.....

I have spoken to plenty of people in worse situations who did much better. They managed to save enough for college or start businesses and put children through college.

It starts with living in small cramped rooms and having nothing. They saved everything and went hungry often. No car with gas and insurance. No McDonalds. They sacrificed the present for the future. Many of those who suffer are unwilling to sacrifice current comforts.

[ Parent ]

"Plenty of people" (none / 0) (#310)
by losthalo on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 10:28:19 AM EST

Arguing that 'some manage to do it' doesn't mean that the opportunity exists for everyone. If everyone gets a degree, it means nothing, you're all still pushing brooms and hawking Chinese retail at Wally World. The fact that some people can rise above poverty by these means doesn't mean everyone has access to those means, or that everyone will rise up out of poverty if they try this. This is a problem with capitalism, and one we don't seem intent on finding a real solution to; instead it's easy to say that opportunity is out there if you try.

[ Parent ]
The term you're looking for (none / 0) (#331)
by curien on Mon Dec 20, 2004 at 05:13:37 AM EST

is "fallacy of composition". Ie, adimovk5 is guilty of that fallacy is a stunning way.

--
This sig is umop apisdn.
[ Parent ]
WTF? (none / 0) (#329)
by curien on Mon Dec 20, 2004 at 05:08:12 AM EST

I lived with my best friend for three years. I had no problems. Jesus christ, you think every second poor person is a crackhead?

--
This sig is umop apisdn.
[ Parent ]
Moving (none / 0) (#237)
by ensignyu on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 02:37:16 AM EST

causes a lot of other problems. Leaving friends and family behind, moving children from school district to school district. Hardly worth it for a low-wage job unless there's no other choice.

[ Parent ]
unless there's no other choice (none / 0) (#260)
by adimovk5 on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 01:01:29 PM EST

The other choice is starvation and death.



[ Parent ]

And I'll ask *you* again. (none / 0) (#87)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 07:54:43 PM EST

How do you know?

There are plenty of claims that Americans are fat, or malnourished, but I have yet to find any support for the claim that any percentage of Americans are starving.

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it is insane. - Obscure Chinese Proverb
[ Parent ]

Try walking down the street n/t (none / 0) (#90)
by thankyougustad on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 08:01:33 PM EST



No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Ah. Yah. (none / 1) (#94)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 08:10:31 PM EST

Dude,

As I mentioned elsewhere, I help with a temporary homeless shelter and my wife helps with the local foodbank. And I have yet to meet anyone in the United States that was starving.

Claiming that we fat-assed Americans are starving belittles the agony of people who actually are.

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it is insane. - Obscure Chinese Proverb
[ Parent ]

Okay (none / 0) (#97)
by thankyougustad on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 08:15:14 PM EST

You are a true philanthropist. I am certainly not saying that fat-assed Americans are starving. I however do not have any pictures of the Americans who are suffering from extreme hunger and mal-nutrition.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Then perhaps (none / 0) (#100)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 08:17:48 PM EST

you should re-examine your beliefs.

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it is insane. - Obscure Chinese Proverb
[ Parent ]
Please expand (none / 0) (#101)
by thankyougustad on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 08:18:38 PM EST

I don't understand what your last post meant.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
It means you're either an exceptional troll or (none / 0) (#104)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 08:36:43 PM EST

you've completely confused "assumptions" with "facts".

RUN !! IT?S AN ATTACK OF THE ?WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS? NAZIS!!!! - Brian Crouch
[ Parent ]
I promise I'm not trolling (none / 0) (#106)
by thankyougustad on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 08:43:54 PM EST

and as for "provable facts" (do you believe in Science?), you're the one who claims that most homeless people are homeless by choice. I live in a very urban environment and I know that a lot of those crazy fucks aren't there by choice. This world is fucked up and cruel, and people suffer all over the world. To deny that people suffer economically in America is foolishness. There are people here, who, again, are not getting enough to eat. They are starving. In Darfur living skeletons give stark examples of starvation. In middle America, people eating out of dumpsters and mal-nourished children give another. Perhaps you are just innured to it?

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Ah, and now you put words in my mouth. (none / 0) (#112)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 09:53:21 PM EST

I said that most homelessness wasn't caused by economic problems - drug addiction and mental illness are not the same thing as "choice". And no "living wage" will cure either.

As for mal-nourished children - did you follow my or Gen-Y's links?

From the USDA:
In 0.7 percent of households with children, one or more child was hungry at times during the year because the household could not afford enough food.

So, in less than 1% of all households did a child go hungry even once. That doesn't mean that food banks and church food stores and food stamps aren't needed - because 9 million children made use of those - but making use of assistance is not the same thing as starving.

RUN !! IT?S AN ATTACK OF THE ?WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS? NAZIS!!!! - Brian Crouch
[ Parent ]

Excuse me (none / 0) (#130)
by thankyougustad on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 08:01:14 AM EST

I reread your saying they have to choose not to go to a shelter. I haven't followed the links yet because I am off to work, but this discussion has degraded into a semantic arguement. You claim that malnutrition and going hungry isn't starving. While it's not the same as what is happening in a lot of Africa, it is still starvation.

Additionaly, even if you catagorically deny that it is in fact starvation, my original point was that in America poverty does exist, that people are in fact suffering, and not all of them are overweight, undereducated blobs spending tax money on cable TV. People are going hungry and I don't care enough to quibble over the meaning of a word.



No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Try the USDA (none / 1) (#107)
by GenerationY on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 09:15:01 PM EST

It depends what you mean by starving of course, but I think its fair to say there are Americans who have problems getting enough food.

http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/fanrr35/

In 2002, 34.9 million people lived in households experiencing food insecurity, compared to 33.6 million in 2001 and 31 million in 1999. 11.1 percent of US households (12 million households) experienced either food insecurity or hunger in 2002.

9.4 million of these individuals lived in households in the worst circumstances and experienced outright hunger. One in ten households (9.7 percent) with incomes below 185 percent of the federal poverty line experienced hunger.

Black (22 percent) and Hispanic (21.7 percent) households experienced food insecurity at double the national average. In addition, the prevalence of food insecurity for households in central cities (14.4 percent) and rural areas (11.6 percent) substantially exceeded the rate for other households (8.8 percent).

The food insecurity rates for households with elderly jumped in one year from 5.5 to 6.3 percent, and from 6.1 to 7.4 percent for elderly persons living alone.

[ Parent ]

Experiencing hunger is not starving (none / 1) (#109)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 09:24:29 PM EST

As this group, dedicated to hunger in the US, points out:

In the United States hunger manifests itself, generally, in a less severe form. This is in part because established programs help to provide a safety net for many low-income families. While starvation seldom occurs in this country, children and adults do go hungry and chronic mild undernutrition does occur when financial resources are low.

RUN !! IT?S AN ATTACK OF THE ?WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS? NAZIS!!!! - Brian Crouch
[ Parent ]

it is still inexcusable (none / 0) (#160)
by thankyougustad on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 12:16:07 PM EST

in a first world country.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Sorry, I shouldn't have been so short. (none / 1) (#110)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 09:35:02 PM EST

Yes, it is possible for economic difficulties to cause people to go hungry in the US - particularly because bureaucracy can mean a long delay between losing your job and getting welfare or unemployment.

But I dislike the lame term "food insecurity" because it implies some similarity between eating food you don't like (i.e., fromt that site, "reduced variety in their diets") with simply not having enough to eat. In particular, I'm also annoyed that they combine worrying about not having enough to eat with actually not getting enough to eat and does not differentiate between people who didn't get enough to eat once during the year with people who have serious problems getting enough nutrition.

RUN !! IT?S AN ATTACK OF THE ?WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS? NAZIS!!!! - Brian Crouch
[ Parent ]

One point (none / 0) (#330)
by curien on Mon Dec 20, 2004 at 05:12:38 AM EST

One can be malnourished without actually going hungry.

--
This sig is umop apisdn.
[ Parent ]
hunger (none / 1) (#234)
by bankind on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 10:39:54 PM EST

like poverty is relative. Public schools provide free eductaion and food is free for low income housing. Granted from my experience in public schools, the qualification for am A or B lunch ticket was skin color alone.

All societies have poverty gaps where individuals and households are unable to meet basic expenses. But considering the strength of American civil society (which is how from DeTocqueville to Putman the US is defined), there is a large enough social safty net to meet these gaps.

Agreed it is a sad state when black men in the US have a lower life expectancy than the average man in India, these issues are not economic, welfare, or state determined. These are much more difficult cultural issues (political culture, not black culture as Sen has pointed out).

So going back to the relative nature of staving, the average dumpster in America yields more food than the average small household farmer can produce in the developing world. The difference is that in the US there are charities, public schools, and acts of philanthropy that are not available in less developed countries (as well as dumpsters).

If you really care about poverty in the US, it is entirely a matter of the legal environment of Non-profit organizations and has nothing to do with state intervention. Bringing the state into economic activity in the US is only a matter of fufilling your own poltical agenda. That isn't humanitarianism, it is self-rightous, elitist manipulation of the lower classes to benifit your own political agenda.

Any student of Huey Long can tell you that.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

Interesting figures (1.33 / 3) (#88)
by NaCh0 on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 07:56:29 PM EST

I heard that your mom lives off of 100,000 dongs a month too.

--
K5: Your daily dose of socialism.
[ Parent ]
more (3.00 / 2) (#169)
by Battle Troll on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 01:42:32 PM EST

Most Americans can't even begin to imagine real poverty.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Tell us about it (none / 0) (#190)
by thankyougustad on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 05:10:28 PM EST

you seem to know a lot about real poverty. Help us to understand.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
dude (none / 1) (#253)
by Battle Troll on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 11:28:15 AM EST

Have you ever been to a genuine third-world country? I promise you, it's nothing like a large American city. There's no such thing as social services. People with jobs often can't afford to buy enough food to replace the calories they expend by their labour (a great example of that last is the Indian shipbreaking industry.)

Comparing a society in which the uninstitutionalized mentally ill and teen runaways might go hungry with one in which 20% of the population usually does is simply baffling. Rightly or wrongly, voluntarily on in-, the hungry in the first case are dropouts from society. The hungry in the second are members of socially essential classes that would never come close to hunger in the first world. In the first world, if you participate in normal society in any form, even so marginal a form as spending your life on government assistance, you will never be hungry. In a poor country, no matter how hard you work, the wolf is always at the door.

Look, I appreciate your concern for the homeless. This is a genuine social problem in North America. But it's not a problem of poverty; you can't solve it with poverty-alleviation methods. Insofar as there is any state solution, it would lie in social-service expansions, which are a different kettle of fish altogether.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

I wholeheartedly agree with this post. (none / 1) (#255)
by skyknight on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 12:11:02 PM EST

It makes an incredibly important distinction with which so many people cannot trouble themselves. People often tell me that I have no sympathy for the poor. That's just not true. Rather, I have no sympathy for the poor in America. There are whole classes of people in other countries who are dirt poor, not because they lack industriousness, but because there exists no opportunity as their lands are ravaged by despots and their wars.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
No one is saying (none / 0) (#263)
by thankyougustad on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 01:10:09 PM EST

that the people in the Third world don't suffer. I have seen it with my own eyes. And I have seen people suffer in America. Suffering shouldn't be rated on a scale of one-to-ten. Because there are more brown skinned people suffering doesn't make the suffering of American's any less worthy of empathy, especially given the fact that this is one of the richest countries in the world. It is lamentable no matter where you are.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
so what? (none / 0) (#264)
by Battle Troll on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 01:13:11 PM EST

No one is saying 'no one suffers in America.' Several people are saying 'there is no poverty in America.' To assert that there is is simply to dilute the meaning of the term 'poverty.'
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
I'm asking myself the same question (none / 0) (#265)
by thankyougustad on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 01:50:15 PM EST

So what? Do you say things like that just to get up on a soapbox? Should I care that people claim there isn't any poverty in America when I see it all around me everyday? I guess not.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
no (none / 0) (#266)
by Battle Troll on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 02:05:58 PM EST

I'm saying what I'm saying because the solution to poverty is never for the government to directly give cash to people. If you look at countries that are successfully eradicating poverty, such as Eritrea, or countries that did so recently, such as South Korea, one constant factor is that they didn't ever try to give their citizens something for nothing. Rather, they created environments in which enterprise let to success and sloth led to flipping burgers (or the local equivalent thereof.)

The problems of the poor in North America are not so simple as lack of money. Creating new entitlements (especially a guaranteed minimum income - yuck!) will not help. I agree that a greater targetted investment in certain social services would be a good thing.

So the point is: poverty in the Third World is real poverty. Poverty in North America is falling or causing yourself to fall through the cracks in a functional social system. Think about it: what would a guaranteed national income do to help out a mentally-ill homeless man? A teenage runaway? How could the bureaucracy ever hope to connect with them?
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

'Poverty' (none / 0) (#295)
by losthalo on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 12:32:58 AM EST

I would class people choosing between necessary medicine and food to be poverty. People who cannot obtain the means to move to where there is work to make money to live on to stay off the streets and in shelter, is poverty. You may define what exists in Third World nations as a more desperate degree of poverty, but the word doesn't imply starving to death in a desert or dying of thirst with no clothes on your back.

[ Parent ]
yes and no (none / 0) (#302)
by Battle Troll on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 09:10:24 AM EST

People who cannot obtain the means to move to where there is work to make money to live on to stay off the streets and in shelter, is poverty.

I agree that social services in the USA need to be strengthened. But I don't think that a new round of entitlements is germane to the problem.

I was delivering food relief baskets on the part of my church recently, and I found that in the heart of the ghetto in my 'poverty-stricken' city, everyone had a cellphone (which I don't) and there were new cars and even SUVs all over the place. I'm used to poor neighbourhoods in Canadian cities, where you'll see rusty '83 Buicks and Acadians and Aries K-Cars in the driveways, so I guess I wasn't prepared for the shock. (In fact, I did my driver training in an Aries K-Car.) Instead, I saw new Blazers, Durangos, even Escalades! And I was saving from my paycheque every week to buy food relief for these people! I mean, the houses were lousy, sure. But I doubt that, for a guy driving an '02 Durango, it's purely a matter of his having no money. How'd he get the $2k (at least) to put down even to begin a lease?

Entitlements have a way of not solving anything. People who are not really desperate make a profit off of them, while people who are desperate never hear about them or never have time to take advantage of them or are simply too far gone (eg no fixed address) to be reached by them. It's not that I have no sympathy for the poor, but that I don't think that expanding entitlement programs will help those that you want to help. Instead, better social services (such as state drug plans, which are now becoming common in blue states) are the best way to go. And I repeat, poverty, implying desperate circumstances as a way of life, does not consistently exist in any social class in North America.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

This is relative (none / 0) (#307)
by losthalo on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 10:08:35 AM EST

There are poor neighborhoods where you see that. And there are neighborhoods where you do not. And simply because some residents have taken to dealing drugs doesn't mean that there aren't people barely keeping themselves afloat in the same area, fighting to have food, clothing, and shelter.

I certainly won't argue with you that a program of entitlement to help isn't going to solve the preblems we have by itself. However, the problem is complex, likely the solution will be as well.

This country is seeing fewer and fewer people having more and more of the wealth in this country, and we've gone from one bread-winner on average per household to two in my lifetime. Part of that is the 'necessity' of things like Nike shoes, a new car for you 18-year-old going to college (I had an '86 Mercury Lynx in '92) and cellphones for the kids. But aside from the families in the burbs, there are more Americans struggling financially - we are gradually dumping the middle class into the lower class standard of living. If we have no strategies for putting the economy on track (and just getting the stock exchanges growing again does nothing for this) we may all be wondering how to pay for things.

[ Parent ]
more (none / 0) (#316)
by Battle Troll on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 02:53:13 PM EST

we've gone from one bread-winner on average per household to two in my lifetime

This has to do with a worldwide decline in the relative value of labour during the generation in question and is a phenomenon common to all industrial democracies. That's why GM's '50s strategy of buying peace with the unions bit it in the arse by the '70s.

But aside from the families in the burbs, there are more Americans struggling financially - we are gradually dumping the middle class into the lower class standard of living.

I would say, rather, that the middle class is being redefined as either people with a sufficiently valuable labour as to be able to command a high salary, or people who are sufficiently astute in business that they can earn as much or more as the former as their own employers. That's what makes progress such a bitch: the total value of the economy grows faster than does the productivity or utility of some occupations. But I don't see any political solution to that problem.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

footnote (none / 0) (#317)
by Battle Troll on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 03:02:05 PM EST

So, in short, we're seeing the conditions that prevailed in most other countries for most of history start to prevail over here as well.

Ever wonder why old-world Asian and Jewish families valued education so much? It's because, in 19th-century Russia, if you were a Jew and you didn't want to be flippin' burgers, you only had a few options: doctor, merchant, mafia, musician. Maybe lawyer, but not likely. In 19th-century China, if you were born a peasant, it was either your parents spent everything they could squeeze out for you to have the privilege of busting your ass in school to prepare for the Imperial exams, if they could even manage that (which was doubtful,) or else you were going to be illiterate and shovelling shit in Hunan province for the rest of your days.

I can't say that I have a whole ton of sympathy for first-worlders who are starting to feel the relative pinch inflicted by rising global prosperity. I know that no-one told them life was going to be like this, but then, at least they had a few generations of relatively unearned, easy prosperity. That's more than they ever had in other countries.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

So? (none / 0) (#332)
by curien on Mon Dec 20, 2004 at 05:20:03 AM EST

I can't say that I have a whole ton of sympathy for first-worlders who are starting to feel the relative pinch inflicted by rising global prosperity. I know that no-one told them life was going to be like this, but then, at least they had a few generations of relatively unearned, easy prosperity.

Unfortunately, I didn't really get to enjoy the relative prosperity of my forefathers (only the current relative propsperity). And no, I don't feel guilty for the whole slavery thing, either.

--
This sig is umop apisdn.
[ Parent ]

my point is (none / 1) (#341)
by Battle Troll on Mon Dec 20, 2004 at 07:53:57 AM EST

Rising global prosperity means that our relative ability to command labour in the Third World is in permanent decline, and that the relative value of labour (as opposed to skilled work) in this country is nonetheless also in permanent decline, because rising prosperity in Vietnam or China is starting from low down.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
There is definitely poverty (none / 0) (#270)
by cburke on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 03:45:11 PM EST

I agree with you completely about the difference between America and the third world.  That doesn't mean you can't call it poverty, or that calling it poverty denigrates the vastly worse poverty of the third world.  Having to choose between food or rent despite having a job is poverty.  Kinda like you can have a "bad day" where you got in a car accident and your water heater burst a pipe without denigrating the "bad day" of someone ripped apart by hyenas.

Really the problem is the ones saying that there is no poverty in America, and thus we shouldn't do anything.  Privileged unsympathetic statists, basically.

[ Parent ]

point is (none / 0) (#293)
by Battle Troll on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 10:44:58 PM EST

The kind of poverty that Mr. thankyou is talking about is the kind of poverty that cannot be alleviated by poverty-relief measures.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Education isn't the answer at all (2.50 / 2) (#39)
by cdguru on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 12:35:02 PM EST

Education allows motivated individuals to utilize their motivation by combining it with skills. This presupposes that people want to do something with their lives. Most of the "welfare reform" proposals that I have seen also make this assumption, with the draconian requirement that people actually get out there and work for a living. What if they simply don't feel the need? The "work ethic" that we are all supposed to feel says this doesn't happen, but it actually does.

There are fundamentally two concepts that can be taken from this: a "dole" or subsistance living without work, or forced work for a living wage. The difference between these two is simple - work. Do we believe that it is the responsibility of everyone to work?

If working isn't required, then we can assume that there will be some number of people that will take advantage of this and not do anything, even if the path is clear by which they can improve their situation if they work. While we are generally conditioned to believe this isn't possible or is not a choice anyone would make, it is clear from recent history that it is a choice and as the population grows, a choice that a small percentage (but yet a significant number) will make. Unless we choose to require (with enforcement) work for everyone, we are going to have to live with there being some that simply choose not to.

Various economic theories abound as to how to make society work when not everyone is meaningfully employable. Some say the government should simply engineer the economy to pay everyone "a living wage" no matter what. If this money comes from taxing the working people, there will always be resistance to providing too much and people asking "why don't they just get a job?" A different way of handling it is described in Robert A. Heinlein's first book, "For Us, The Living". It describes a system called "Social Credit." It is at least worthy of consideration as a different way of providing for non-working people.

By the way, I totally agree with the poster that says there is no real poverty in the US. Poverty in the US is an inconvenience compared to the life-threatening situations in third-world countries. We happen to not like inconveniences and some people are unable to fit into the social fabric of society. We used to put them into hospitals, but in the late 1970's we threw them out on the streets because they were "prisoners" and we gave them their "freedom". You can see the results on the streets today.

You ignore a core fact of poverty (2.28 / 7) (#40)
by godix on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 12:41:21 PM EST

You can not eliminate poverty. Everytime you think poverty is about the be eliminated the government goes and changes the definition of poverty and you're right back where you started. Yesterday poverty was living a Huck Fin like existance where you were homeless and relied on charity, petty theft, and the fact there were still woods to gather an existance from. Today poverty is a roof over your head, enough food to become fat, a car, and a TV.

Politicians love making speechs about helping the poor, it makes them look good. So politicians will always make sure there are some poor around to make speechs about.

"Yeah, we rocked the vote all right. Those little bastards betrayed us again."
- Hunter S. Thompson on the 2004 election.

What if... (none / 1) (#41)
by Sarojin on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 12:56:36 PM EST

you overthrow c(r)apitalism and make everyone equal?

[ Parent ]
People will never be "equal" (2.00 / 2) (#44)
by Cro Magnon on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 01:37:49 PM EST

If, somehow, Bill Gates, myself, and a street bum had exactly $60,000, in 10 years, Bill would probably be a millionaire, I'd be middle-class, and the bum would still be a bum.

And if you have a central power enforcing "equality", you'll have the old Soviet Union. And you know how well THAT worked.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]

but if everyone was in poverty (2.00 / 2) (#45)
by Sarojin on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 01:42:29 PM EST

...no one would be in poverty!

[ Parent ]
It would be a workers paradise. (none / 1) (#48)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 02:14:09 PM EST

I can see it now.

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it is insane. - Obscure Chinese Proverb
[ Parent ]
the equal start would be temporary (2.50 / 2) (#82)
by adimovk5 on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 07:44:01 PM EST

Before long you would have rich and poor again. The more skilled and more talented would have the money that once belonged to the less skilled and less talented. You would be faced with some choices:

  1. Forbid the accumulation of wealth. In this case you will destroy the urge to achieve. If accumulation is impossible, people will lose the desire to create.

  2. Periodically restore everyone to equal. The result would be almost the same as the first case.

  3. Perpetually redistribute income from the successful to the unsuccessful. This is close to what the politicians clumsily attempt now.

  4. Accept that skill and talent attract wealth.



[ Parent ]
cash money bling bling (none / 1) (#122)
by Sarojin on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 05:30:33 AM EST

"If [wealth] accumulation is impossible, people will lose the desire to create." Are you sure this is true? What's the deal with open sores software?

[ Parent ]
open source software (none / 1) (#123)
by adimovk5 on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 06:43:49 AM EST

Good try but, the people who create open source software have accumulated wealth. They have homes and they have computers and they have internet connections. Accumulated wealth has given them leisure time. With that leisure time they pursue hobbies. One of those hobbies is open source software.

[ Parent ]
Shirly (none / 0) (#125)
by Sarojin on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 07:01:57 AM EST

When you mentioned wealth before, were you referring to personal wealth, or communal wealth?  Computers and homes and internet connections can be communal wealth.

Would the displacement of all personal wealth with communal wealth eliminate open source?

[ Parent ]

s/with/by/ /nt (none / 0) (#126)
by Sarojin on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 07:02:49 AM EST



[ Parent ]
communal wealth (none / 0) (#200)
by adimovk5 on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 05:38:42 PM EST

I was talking about personal wealth. I suppose it is possible that a society could exist in which computers and homes and internet connections were communal property. In such a case, how would the communal property be bought? How would it be maintained? How would you determine who gets to use it and when?

With personal wealth these things are decided by money. It may not be ideal but it makes property distribution simpler. Communal wealth raises more questions than it answers.

[ Parent ]

So give everyone more leisure time, and... (none / 0) (#208)
by Russell Dovey on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 06:03:35 PM EST

...who knows what they'll create! Yeah, you've got a good plan there.

So, how do we give everyone more leisure time?

Magically transport everyone into the Culture novels, of course.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

What are you implying? (none / 0) (#214)
by Rhinobird on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 07:00:23 PM EST

Are you trying to say that people aren't making money from Open Source software?
"If Mr. Edison had thought more about what he was doing, he wouldn't sweat as much." --Nikola Tesla
[ Parent ]
Yeah, that'll work great. (2.00 / 2) (#47)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 02:13:37 PM EST

Look at how well it worked in China.

Well, okay, look at how well it worked in the USSR.

Errr... Look at how well it worked in Cuba!

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it is insane. - Obscure Chinese Proverb
[ Parent ]

This is a myth. (none / 0) (#54)
by aphrael on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 03:15:18 PM EST

There does exist a class of poor people for whom poverty does not include a roof over their head.

[ Parent ]
You do know (none / 1) (#64)
by thankyougustad on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 05:12:10 PM EST

that people are starving in America?

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
starving in America (crosspost) (none / 0) (#79)
by adimovk5 on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 07:34:58 PM EST

cross post

[ Parent ]
Yes I know (none / 1) (#89)
by godix on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 08:00:25 PM EST

I also know that vast majority of people who are classified as living in poverty are NOT starving. In fact, if you look at the stats for obesity, the poor are typically the fattest group of society.

There is HUGE difference between the government definition of poverty and the fictional Robert prefacing this article. While there are Roberts in the US they are by far a minority amoung the poor

"Yeah, we rocked the vote all right. Those little bastards betrayed us again."
- Hunter S. Thompson on the 2004 election.
[ Parent ]

Agreed (none / 1) (#92)
by thankyougustad on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 08:04:55 PM EST

That is probably partly why there is such a bad case of mixed priorities in America today. People deny actual poverty in the face of wallmart slobs. Lamentable.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Not starving, (none / 0) (#318)
by ambrosen on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 06:40:20 PM EST

but malnourished. It's difficult to fill youself up on a healthy diet when you're working two jobs and still don't have much cash.

Of course, I live in a country with a minimum wage of $9 an hour and where unemployment benefit is $100/week + housing, so I only know from hearsay.

--
Procrastination does not make you cool. Being cool makes you procrastinate. DesiredUsername.
[ Parent ]

Bwahahahahah (none / 0) (#320)
by godix on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 08:10:45 PM EST

I love the initial comment on that book. "Mostly out of laziness, I decide to start my low-wage life in the town nearest to where I actually live, Key West, Florida". Yeah, great, even the pathetic wannabes who think it's cool to live on a street for a week then spend years pretending they understand poverty and homelessness promote the 'lazy' theory of poverty.

Incidently, I don't know what country you live in but I am willing to wager my next years salary that your country has some homeless people in it. Frequently the cause of homelessness is mental illness or having no clue how to handle money rather than a simple lack of money.

"Yeah, we rocked the vote all right. Those little bastards betrayed us again."
- Hunter S. Thompson on the 2004 election.
[ Parent ]

Indeed, (none / 0) (#356)
by ambrosen on Thu Dec 23, 2004 at 09:01:30 PM EST

there's plenty of homeless people, and plenty of people in a bad way. But there's very few people in a bad way despite being mentally stable and working as hard as they can.

--
Procrastination does not make you cool. Being cool makes you procrastinate. DesiredUsername.
[ Parent ]
As awful as it sounds... (none / 0) (#132)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 08:04:38 AM EST

the threat of starvation maintains an equilibrium. We need that equilibrium.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Please explain (none / 0) (#159)
by thankyougustad on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 12:14:53 PM EST

I am the first to say we need janitors. I don't see how we need the threat of starvation.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Guarantee that people won't starve... (none / 0) (#163)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 12:19:42 PM EST

no matter how appalling their performance, and you more or less guarantee appalling performance on the part of a huge swath of society.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure if this is true (none / 0) (#164)
by thankyougustad on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 12:32:06 PM EST

While I agree that a lot of people won't work if they don't feel rewarded some how, I think only the last layabouts have to be threatened with staravation to get up and work. Don't forget that a lot of people will work simply because they haven't got anything else to do.

I agree with you to an extent, but I find it to me a more of a carrot and stick system, rather than just a 'stick'.



No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
It's not that simple. (none / 1) (#192)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 05:15:58 PM EST

While it's true that people might be inclined to do something productive to keep themselves busy, without financial motivation they might not do a good and thorough job when working on a large project. For example, I love to write software in general. That does not mean, however, that I'm always having a great time when writing software. Sometimes I'll be working on a project, and bringing it across the finish line is an incredibly tedious proposition. Were it not for my contractual obligations, my professional reputation, etc., I might very well say "fuck it" and move onto something that was more interesting. Without a bit of control in this world, we are apt to end up with a whole lot of half done projects of poor quality. Hell, we already have that problem even with a bit of control. Imagine how bad it would be without it.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
go ahead and try that (none / 0) (#218)
by speek on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 07:46:36 PM EST

With OSS, you release a half-assed project, people, if they find it mildly interesting, will come along and pick up where you left off. Furthermore, as you say yourself, you move on to something more interesting, you don't say "fuck it" and then sleep in till 4pm the rest of your life.

Frankly, without financial motivation, I think people are more likely to do a better job with their projects - after all, their motivation is that they chose to do it. As long as they continue choosing to do it, they're most likely motivated to do it well. People like to laugh at OSS software, but frankly, there is no comparison between the bulk of OSS projects and the bulk of in-house projects, quality-wise.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

A self selecting population renders your sample... (none / 0) (#225)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 09:15:11 PM EST

invalid. When you speak of OSS projects, you are aware only of those that did not die in obscurity, so it is highly dubious how valid your assessment is.

Personally, I know that I am more passionate about projects when I am doing them for fun instead of money. However, that does not necessarily correlate well with staying power. When passion is the only driving force, I might only do the fun bits and then drop it when it becomes tedious.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
yes, it's a self selecting population (none / 0) (#243)
by speek on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 09:27:55 AM EST

That's the whole point. And yes, there are tons of projects that didn't work out up on sourceforge - I'm willing to bet the people who worked on them and failed went on to some other efforts - and not simply to the couch. Have we forgotten the discussion - it's about whether people like to work.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

That not really the purpose of this discussion. (none / 0) (#247)
by skyknight on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 10:07:51 AM EST

I think it's more about whether people will do useful work without financial motivation. Maybe I like to move a wheel barrow of stones up a hill in the morning, and move it back down the hill in the afternoon. You might classify this as "work", but it sure as hell isn't going to keep anyone in food, clothing and rent. People are rational, and if you let them get away with anything, they will do things that are alarmingly destructive to the greater good because they figure someone else will pick up the slack. Thanks, but I'd rather not go around feeding and cleaning up the messes of loafers. I have better things to do with my time.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
of course they'll do useful work (none / 0) (#274)
by speek on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 05:54:40 PM EST

That is the whole point of work and our innate desire to do it - it's to be productive. Most people don't get enough feeling of productivity from their day jobs - thus all the side work people get involved in.

Frankly, you're lack of confidence in people is surprising - how can you espouse libertarian ideals if you have such a low opinion of people? Shouldn't you instead be in favor of some sort of elite class to watch over all the slackers and loafers and deadbeats and incompetents to make sure things go right? Unless you like seeing suffering...

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

I take no joy in the suffering of others, (none / 0) (#279)
by skyknight on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 06:34:13 PM EST

and I don't have a low opinion of all people. I do, however, think that there need to be "audit procedures" to keep people honest. The most natural form of audit is for people to pay their own way in this world. If you completely uncouple people's well being from their willingness to contribute to the creation of the things required for their well being, you're not always going to get the utopia that you seem to espouse.

Most of the really important things in this world that need to get done are 10% inspiration, creativity and talent, and 90% hard grinding work that has no guarantee of being fun. I think the perfect example of this is the tendency for academics to turn out "toolkits" that are really neat conceptually, but completely useless in industry. The problem is that they are interested in only the theory that they find entertaining, and have no drive to actually churn out something that integrates with real world problems. This is rampant. I know it from first hand experience. To do the not-so-fun yet really important stuff, sometimes you need an external push. Those are just the facts.

I feel no desire to be part of some elite ruling class and to lord over peons. I just want people to be free to live life on their own terms, and that means everyone, and in turn that means that nobody has an obligation to provide for the needs of others. As soon as you espouse that someone has an obligation to provide for another, you are espousing slavery.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
I didn't say anything about utopia (none / 0) (#309)
by speek on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 10:24:29 AM EST

As soon as you espouse that someone has an obligation to provide for another, you are espousing slavery.

This is what I mean by character flaw. If you don't feel some moral obligation for the welfare of fellow suffering people, and are inclined to call it slavery when someone suggests you should, then I see that as a character flaw. I also think it's lacking in perspective to believe you have done something that makes you deserving of the things you have in life and that those who suffer without are not.

As for academics and their toolkits, it takes all kinds, and those toolkits and basic research have historically been behind a lot of productivity increases and advances in our technology. You may not particularly like them or respect them, just as I don't usually like or respect people who are driven with ambition for power and money and fame, but I recognize they provide a useful service.

I just want people to be free to live life on their own terms, and that means everyone...

Either you don't really mean this, or you have some idealistic (utopian?) and ultimately unrealistic dream of what it means for everyone to live life on their own terms.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

innate desire (none / 1) (#283)
by adimovk5 on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 07:29:40 PM EST

.....of course they'll do useful work.....That is the whole point of work and our innate desire to do it - it's to be productive. Most people don't get enough feeling of productivity from their day jobs - thus all the side work people get involved in.....

People don't have an innate desire to work. They have an innate desire to breathe, sleep, drink, eat and have sex. Once basic urges are satisfied they look for clothing and shelter. When basic needs are satisfied they seek to avoid boredom. Avoiding boredom isn't the same as work.

Look at the elite classes who have an almost unspendable amount of money. By the third generation you have degenerate human beings. Most of them contribute nothing to society.

If you give a sustainable income to people without expecting anything in return, you will enlarge the class of non-contributors.

[ Parent ]

yes, they do (none / 0) (#308)
by speek on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 10:15:47 AM EST

It can be warped and destroyed, however. That it takes 3 generations to do it says something. It's not exactly fragile, but it's not written in stone like the needs you mention. Welfare as we know it erodes it, for example.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

people like to work (none / 0) (#177)
by speek on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 03:18:13 PM EST

People not corrupted by a wasteland of public schooling, corporate imagetainment and competitive consumerism, that is.

Even despite that, most people love working. Just not necessarily in cubicles with bosses that come running with their spreadsheets, in companies that give 50% bonuses to CEO's at the same time the 25% of their workforce is slashed...

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

The problem with that assertion... (none / 0) (#189)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 05:08:49 PM EST

is that it assumes an overly you-centric universe view. You, personally are an able, conscientious, competent and moral person. Don't make the mistake of thinking that the majority of other people are the same way. It's OK, though, because I often make the same mistake. Every now and again, though, I have a reality check when I interact with other humans, you know, roughly on a daily basis.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
I don't agree (none / 0) (#201)
by speek on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 05:39:57 PM EST

That people like to work is a well-founded, mostly universal observation. Let people engage in work meaningful to them, and they thrive, and are generally happy. Prevent such opportunities, and they languish. The vast majority of people, given everything they could possibly need and otherwise left to rot will almost invariably find some work to occupy their time. The computer-gaming/TV vegetable phase only lasts so long.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

And to that, I reply with... (none / 0) (#203)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 05:42:41 PM EST

this in lieu of repeating myself.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
faulty observation (none / 1) (#285)
by adimovk5 on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 07:46:02 PM EST

.....That people like to work is a well-founded, mostly universal observation. Let people engage in work meaningful to them, and they thrive, and are generally happy. Prevent such opportunities, and they languish. The vast majority of people, given everything they could possibly need and otherwise left to rot will almost invariably find some work to occupy their time. The computer-gaming/TV vegetable phase only lasts so long.....

It is YOUR OPINION that people like to work. Many people share YOUR OPINION. Many people share the opposite opinion that people are lazy and will avoid work wheever possible. Your opinion isn't universal or even close to universal.

I have a brother who wants much but is unwilling to do the work required. In the meantime, he works 40 hours in a deadend job. He lives in a trailer park. He spends his spare time playing video games. He's angry because college educated kids keep getting promoted ahead of him. That's my brother. He's in his 30s. He expects the world to give him what he thinks he deserves. I've met many people like him.

Far fewer are the people with strong work ethics. They work because something inside them drives them to create and build. They don't work to earn money. When work is unsatisfying they move on. I wish there were more people like that but I fear that they are outnumbered by the first group.

[ Parent ]

people like to avoid boredom (none / 1) (#284)
by adimovk5 on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 07:35:19 PM EST

Avoiding boredom isn't the same as work. Most of the people I have met would prefer to never do anything. Why do loterries entice people? It's the chance to gain something without having to earn it.

Why do so many employess surf the net and hang around the water cooler? It's too escape boredom and avoid work. Why do people watch television and play video games? They are escaping boredom and avoiding work.

[ Parent ]

we worship indulgence (none / 0) (#313)
by speek on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 10:53:53 AM EST

The dream of retirement is drilled into people's heads from day one. How many people dream of retiring at 40? As though nothing could be better than retiring, moving to florida, and golfing and fishing all day. Yet, how many people find satisfaction in retirement? Other than those who simply find another line of work?

Children want to be part of what the adults are doing from very early on. They want to help, they want their efforts appreciated by others - deemed productive, in other words. People's dreams generally involve stupendous amounts of work. Very few have the drive to achieve them, true, but also very few have no drive at all.

Our society would take getting used the idea that no one is going to make you work if you don't want to, and if you don't want to, here's your $10,000 dollars to live off of. Right at this moment, there's probably a huge percentage of the population that would take that and go live in the trailer house and do nothing - maybe as high as 20%? But for most of those people, that is only going to last a year at most - most of them are going to find some little thing they enjoy doing and do it for some extra cash. Fix cars, chop wood, do construction, paint, make arts/crafts, grow some food, etc. Whatever strikes their fancy. It wouldn't take too long for people to relearn the joy that a little productive work brings.

Right now I work a mind-numbing job writing software in a group that doesn't know how to use CVS. It doesn't matter how hard I work there, I am not a productive member of society (unless one things making yet another project management application really represents productivity!). Yet I am paid enormous sums of money. One might think this must be heaven for us loafers and slackers (surf the web all day and get paid hugely for it), but it is not. But, I am somewhat stuck - I can't go work a job the feels productive without a huge paycut, and I can't make my job more productive because it is essentially the laws and regulations of the government and business climate that ensure people like me are needed for silly tasks.

And yes, it's MY OPINION that people like to work. It's rather an unshakable opinion based on a lot of observation and experience. I don't blame you for not being convinced on my say so - it's something you either see in people or you don't. I've also met people who would simply sleep all day if they could, and what strikes me about them is how unusual and unfathomable they are.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

He means... (none / 0) (#178)
by Shajenko on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 03:20:49 PM EST

In order to get people to work cheap, you have to threaten them with death.

Sounds like slavery to me.

[ Parent ]
Right... (none / 0) (#184)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 04:45:05 PM EST

because making people involuntarily provide for others isn't slavery, ja? You're an ass for conflating having to work for a living with being enslaved. That desecrates the suffering of real slaves.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Still (none / 0) (#188)
by thankyougustad on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 05:08:33 PM EST

he does have a point. Having to work or risk dieing is one aspect of slavery.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
By that token... (none / 0) (#191)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 05:12:28 PM EST

all animals in the wild are slaves. Don't you think that is a bit preposterous? There is a difference between having biological obligations and being a slave. Being a slave entails, in my mind, being forced to act in a certain way by someone who exerts force over you. This is not the case in a employer/employee relationship. You are free to leave any job. The world does not owe you a living, and this fact does not make you a slave. Rather, it simply imparts personal responsibility to you. Furthermore, how can one be owed a living without some kind of slavery relationship resulting in which someone else is a slave to your wants/needs?

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
True (none / 0) (#193)
by thankyougustad on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 05:17:29 PM EST

all animals in the wild are slaves. Don't you think that is a bit preposterous?
Yes, yes I do. Then again, animals don't work.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Animals in the wild are working all the time... (none / 0) (#195)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 05:21:40 PM EST

and the only welfare that they might get is to be killed quickly and painlessly by a particularly no nonsense predator. The more unlucky chaps get eaten alive by really terrifying ones, you know, like spiders or large cats.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Or sharks (none / 0) (#209)
by thankyougustad on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 06:05:03 PM EST

I'd hate to be eaten by a shark. I can't say that animals and people work the same. Animals burn calories in the never ending quest to find enough to hopefully reproduce. People collect fat and money in the never ending quest to buy shit. For an animal, work is synonymous with life and so can't be compared to human work. Too many humans don't do anything at all (the very rich, and the very poor).

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
I suppose sharks would be could be pretty bad. (none / 0) (#231)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 09:28:57 PM EST

It would depend how quick and professional they were about their work. If they had the decency to eviscerate you with one good bite, I imagine it could be very quick. If, however, they were picky eaters, prone to nibbling, it could be a rather sordid affair.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
It wouldn't matter (none / 0) (#232)
by thankyougustad on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 09:43:04 PM EST

Because the worst has to be the anticipation. After you feel that bump underneath you. . . the brushing against your legs, you know what your up against and even if you never get a chance to look into that black black eye before you dye, you know terror.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
I think the trick is to play dead. (none / 1) (#233)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 10:07:13 PM EST

They like their food fresh, so if you hold very still they'll be all like "yuck, day old sushi, no thanks".

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Notice.... (none / 0) (#216)
by Shajenko on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 07:42:55 PM EST

I specifically said, "Work cheap".

If someone else holds all the cards and sets all the rules, and tells you "Work according to my terms or die", that's slavery. And if they hold nearly all the cards and make nearly all the rules, then that's very nearly slavery.

Now, who are you to say that we shouldn't make an effort to get further from slavery, rather than nearer to it?

[ Parent ]
I suppose when you are turned down for a date... (none / 0) (#230)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 09:24:11 PM EST

you try to remonstrate with the girl that she is violating your right to easy sex, too, ja? Nobody has an obligation to give you anything. As soon as you step onto that slippery slope, there is no end to the things that you will assert you deserve.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
if you give me nothing (none / 0) (#242)
by speek on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 09:22:19 AM EST

I will kill you in order to take it.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

So now you're a necrophiliac? (none / 0) (#245)
by skyknight on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 10:03:36 AM EST

I knew there was a reason that I am a strong proponent of private gun ownership. :-)

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
So are you saying... (none / 0) (#351)
by Shajenko on Tue Dec 21, 2004 at 03:59:55 PM EST

... that regulating companies is the same as rape?

[ Parent ]
all the cards (none / 1) (#286)
by adimovk5 on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 07:51:56 PM EST

.....If someone else holds all the cards and sets all the rules, and tells you "Work according to my terms or die", that's slavery. And if they hold nearly all the cards and make nearly all the rules, then that's very nearly slavery.....

Emploers don't hold all the cards. You aren't forced to work for someone. You can be self employed and open your own business. You can even hire people and pay them decent wages. But that would mean learning to think and create. It's much easier to rely on others to provide your employment and tell you what to think and what to do.

[ Parent ]

And.. (none / 0) (#350)
by Shajenko on Tue Dec 21, 2004 at 03:58:43 PM EST

You can be self employed and open your own business. You can even hire people and pay them decent wages. But that would mean learning to think and create.
It also requires a great deal of starting capital. Something that continually concentrates into fewer and fewer hands. Plus, the much bigger companies can easily crush you.

Don't pretend that it's an option for any but a scant few people.

[ Parent ]
Existance of the Poor is inevitable (2.00 / 2) (#52)
by dharma on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 02:43:01 PM EST

Say the government said the minimum wage will be $15/hr and it will be indexed to inflation. Suddenly that janitor that cleans my office will earn ~$32,000/year instead of $14,000/year. Fair enough.

Next year, however, I (and every other educated person in the building) will point out to my company I spent nearly a decade in school to earn all my graduate degrees, produce intellectual property the company makes millions off of, take courses every to keep my skills up-to-date, and get phone calls from competitors on a 4-6 month basis asking me if I am happy with my employer. If last year I was earning 6x more money than an uneducated janitor, by golly I had better be earning 6x more next year as well.

The end result is, everyone else will still earn more than the uneducated janitor, inflation will make his $15/hr worth only $6/hr again and we are back to square one. The higher you make the minimum wage, the faster this cycle will occur.

Next, not everyone can be a CEO, an engineer, an MBA, scientist (well most of them are ridiculously low-paid unless they have 20 years experience and/or sell their soul to private industry), a baseball player, etc. You will always need people to toss your trash, clean your office building, cut your grass, pick your crops, etc. Then some people aren't interested in an education or they simply are too stupid.

The elimination of poverty is a pie-in-the-sky dream of people with too much time in their hands, a rich daddy, or a serious lack of ability to live in reality. I suppose, however, some people like living in their self-created cocoon of delusion.

The presence of poor may be inevitable (none / 1) (#53)
by aphrael on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 03:14:32 PM EST

but the inability of poor people to afford housing in reasonable proximity to where they work is a direct result of political policies, and is not inevitable.

[ Parent ]
What do you mean? (none / 0) (#58)
by dharma on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 03:41:12 PM EST

The price of housing is controlled by supply and demand. And also by a perculiar characteristics of Americans: We like single-family homes with a yard. Sure when you are young you like that apartment downtown, when you are old you like that condo. But when you are in your late twenties/early thirties and married you want the house with the yard. This limits the number of homes that are built and raises the prices of those that remain. Politicians ignore this at their peril.

Even countries with a much stronger socialist government have the same phenomena. Housing in Tokyo, Japan is ridiculously expensive (even moreso than in America), similarly in Europe. Few people in the 1st world live close to work. C'est la vie.

[ Parent ]

the price of housing is constrained (none / 0) (#67)
by aphrael on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 05:31:20 PM EST

by land-use policies which discourage higher density and which discourage sprawl. Note that in urban areas, high-density housing typically rents or sells for enormous quantities ($2000/mo for a two-bedroom is not outrageous), while there are political strictures in place to prevent building more *and* to prevent building in the preserved greenspace areas.

In California, at least, we have policies which deliberately make it difficult to construct new housing, thereby inflating the value of land and making it impossible for the poor to afford housing.

[ Parent ]

public transportation (none / 0) (#83)
by adimovk5 on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 07:48:31 PM EST

Couldn't the housing problem be eased by a combination of public transportation plus housing built in inexpensive areas? It might mean a longer commute but it would also provide decent housing at reasonable cost.

[ Parent ]
Don't the poor typically occupy urban centers? (none / 0) (#213)
by syncrotic on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 06:33:32 PM EST

In many cities, the poorest neighbourhoods are often in city centers, which is a legacy of the white middle class migration to the suburbs. Poor people are right beside work, geographically, and middle class suburbanites are the ones travelling 80 miles per day in their amusingly oversized vehicles. Housing in reasonable proximity to work is definitely not an issue. In fact, a lot of very wealthy people would love to live on the land currently occuppied by ghettos, you know, if it wasn't occuppied by ghettos.

[ Parent ]
Well, it wouldn't be... (none / 1) (#258)
by kcidx on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 12:46:33 PM EST

...occupied by ghettos if they hadn't moved out in the first place.

[ Parent ]
And it won't be for long either... (none / 0) (#355)
by dharma on Wed Dec 22, 2004 at 02:53:00 PM EST

...many major cities are becoming rapidly gentrified. Nothing cleans out a ghetto and brings crime under control faster than the appearance of a few white people in the area. What I always wonder is: where do the poor people go? The suburbs are too expensive and the inner cities are becoming as well. So where do they end up?

[ Parent ]
the poorest people (none / 0) (#287)
by adimovk5 on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 08:00:03 PM EST

live in rural areas far from the cities. The poor of the cities receive more attention because the contrast is more visible. The rich and middle class can see the poor daily. In the rural areas the poor are only seen by other poor.



[ Parent ]

Not necessarily (none / 0) (#60)
by hawthorne on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 04:24:39 PM EST

Why not take the viewpoint that last year you were earning (say) $30,00 more than the janitor, and now this year you're still earning $30,000 more than the janitor?

Thereby the gap between rich and poor would be somewhat reduced, and you would still be receiving considerably more for your expertise - albeit not quite the percentige margine that you're used to.

[ Parent ]

Only the percentage matters (none / 0) (#61)
by KnightStalker on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 04:51:41 PM EST

Let's say this goes on until we're putting hundred dollar bills into candy machines, and the janitor is making $1M/year. You, the engineer, are making $1,030,000/year. This is essentially the same salary, then. There'd be no incentive (except your own personal interest) for you to put in the extra effort. If you were making $6M/year, though, your relative positions would not have changed.

[ Parent ]
it's a question of ratio, not difference (none / 1) (#86)
by adimovk5 on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 07:54:41 PM EST

A person earning $20 an hour has twice the purchasing power of one earning $10 an hour. It is the ratio that allows him to buy a better lifestyle. If you change the values to $40 an hour versus $30 an hour, you have tampered with the ratio. The $10 difference means much less. You have devalued the purchasing power of the higher income person.

[ Parent ]
Get real. (none / 0) (#63)
by thankyougustad on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 05:09:39 PM EST

The elimination of poverty is a pie-in-the-sky dream of people with too much time in their hands, a rich daddy, or a serious lack of ability to live in reality. I suppose, however, some people like living in their self-created cocoon of delusion.

School and food are things that all people should have access to. There is no reason that people should live in poverty is today's society. In our first world system some will always get paid enormous sums of money to play football and be in movies. Others will get a lot of money to practice law and medicine. Then some will get paid very little for picking up garbage. These people still should have access to good education and proper nutrition. That they don't, and that some people still claim they won't (shouldn't or can't) get it, is absurd.



No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Please point out which Americans have no access (none / 1) (#76)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 07:19:29 PM EST

to school or food.

In America basic education is free and food subsidies are available, so your point is meaningless.

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it is insane. - Obscure Chinese Proverb
[ Parent ]

Sure. (none / 0) (#80)
by thankyougustad on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 07:35:02 PM EST

Why don't you go tell the people who sleep in the streets of my city, and eat its trash, that my point is meaningless. My point is pertitant even limited to the United States. We don't know how many immigrants to the US go without school and food (and health care) They are illegally here and it is hard to keep track of them. Three million Americans are homeless. They have not got access to education and don't have food subsidies. There are homeless children, too.

You claim that "In America basic education is free and food subsidies are available. . ." Your point is in fact "meaningless" since people are starving in this country and it, despite being the richest country in the world, has a staggeringly ignorant population (ahem.)



No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Ummm... Yah. (none / 0) (#84)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 07:49:39 PM EST

I defy you to provide a valid cite for people starving in America.

I'm sorry, but in order to be long-term homeless in the United States you have to deliberately choose to not go to a shelter - and I say this as someone who helps (in a small way) to operate a homeless shelter one month a year. There are homeless in the United States but their homelessness is almost always caused by something other than simple economics.

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it is insane. - Obscure Chinese Proverb
[ Parent ]

Just to clarify (none / 0) (#85)
by thankyougustad on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 07:53:01 PM EST

Are you willing to state that "In America, no one starves unless by choice, and all have equal access to basic education."? Because it seems that way to me, and if you are, we should just drop this subject right now instead of wasting our time trying to convince each other of something we don't believe.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
I believe in provable facts, not blind assertions. (none / 1) (#93)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 08:06:30 PM EST

Each of the 50 states has a public education program that provides twelve years of schooling at no cost to the student. For example, here is a link to Pennsylvania's. While the quality of those schools is uneven, they do exist.

And as for starvation - I can find no evidence in any census, scientific article or google search that Americans are starving for any reason at all.

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it is insane. - Obscure Chinese Proverb
[ Parent ]

Hey! I like facts too! Imagine! (none / 0) (#99)
by thankyougustad on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 08:17:32 PM EST

And I tend to make conclusions based on what I see. And in America I see people, for whatever reason, who cannot read and do not have enough food. Maybe I should move to Pennsylvania because in Virginia things seem pretty fucked up.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Pity you can't show me any. (none / 1) (#108)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 09:17:00 PM EST

And, yeah, maybe you should get out more - you might learn something.

RUN !! IT?S AN ATTACK OF THE ?WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS? NAZIS!!!! - Brian Crouch
[ Parent ]
And you can't show me any either (none / 0) (#128)
by thankyougustad on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 07:53:44 AM EST

This is turning circular.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Proof of starvation (none / 1) (#288)
by adimovk5 on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 08:07:34 PM EST

I think the burden of proof is on you. porkchop_d_clown is asking you to prove your assertion that many in America are starving. If you are right there are probably reports that prove your case. You are asking him to prove the there is no starvation. You are asking him to prove something doesn't exist. How is he supposed to do that?

I have no doubt that there are hungry people in the United States. There are many who don't receive three meals a day or the minimum government RDA in nutrients. Starving is a rather strong term I reserve for those who have so little food that they are dying. I don't think starvation is widespread in the US.

[ Parent ]

Bullshit! (none / 0) (#305)
by thankyougustad on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 09:28:22 AM EST

If I had a digital camera I could take pictures of Tom dick ad harry who sleep in the back ally of my building. As it is, I can't. If he doesn't care to take my word that there are homeless people, why should I give a shit?
You are asking him to prove something doesn't exist. How is he supposed to do that?
This is partly right. He is actually claiming there isn't any starvation. I don't know how he expects to proove that. As far as I am concerned, people are starving. It's not, as you say, widespread, but it does happen. To denigrate people suffering from poverty and hunger in this country by putting them next to the third world is . . . I don't know why people say things like that. To argue? I'm going to France for three weeks. Have a nice holiday.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Your hypothetical pictures (none / 1) (#345)
by Cro Magnon on Mon Dec 20, 2004 at 09:45:17 AM EST

might show that Tom, Dick, and Harry are homeless, but unless they look like those African children I've seen on TV, they wouldn't prove that they were starving.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Reminds me of something I've heard before... (none / 0) (#269)
by cburke on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 03:23:17 PM EST

There are homeless in the United States but their homelessness is almost always caused by something other than simple economics.

MIT interviewer, after I mentioned there was no way I could pay tuition:  "Nobody doesn't go to MIT merely because of money."  Hmm... okay.  So I guess when I still couldn't afford it when the acceptance deadline arrived it was some kind of character flaw.  That flaw didn't stop Michigan from giving me a scholarship, though.

But in a way, you're right...  It's not just economics, it's the assumption that being homeless is a choice, or a character flaw.

[ Parent ]

Point taken. (none / 0) (#357)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Dec 24, 2004 at 11:40:34 AM EST

That didn't come out as well as I intended - no, being homeless isn't a character flaw, but it does imply problems beyond simple lack of cash. A lot of the American homeless problem is a consequence of the mental-health reform movement that occurred when I was a kid. When the courts ruled that you couldn't lock up the mentally ill, they effectively declared that being unable to cope is a lifestyle choice. Having spent some amount of time working with the homeless, I am absolutely certain that for most of them homelessness is an effect rather than a cause.

By the way - I worked my own way through college, up to and including signing up for the military when all other cash was exhausted, so I'm not sure how much sympathy I have for you. I probably would have smacked that MIT interviewer, though.

RUN !! IT?S AN ATTACK OF THE ?WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS? NAZIS!!!! - Brian Crouch
[ Parent ]

please provide sources (1.50 / 2) (#91)
by adimovk5 on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 08:03:27 PM EST

.....Three million Americans are homeless.....

Please provide a source for your statement. I have never seen this number.

.....We don't know how many immigrants to the US go without school and food (and health care) They are illegally here and it is hard to keep track of them.....

People who are illegally in the United States are not immigrants. They are criminals who have broken our immigration laws. I have no sympathy for them. They are a burden on our social system. We have enough problems already and there are people who are waiting legally in line to immigrate.

Those criminals should try fixing the problems in their country instead of running away from them and adding to our problems.



[ Parent ]

Here ya go (none / 0) (#95)
by thankyougustad on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 08:11:42 PM EST

Homeless.org
People who are illegally in the United States are not immigrants. They are criminals who have broken our immigration laws. I have no sympathy for them. They are a burden on our social system. We have enough problems already and there are people who are waiting legally in line to immigrate.

I'm not sure how to take this comment. It seems very blockheaded to me, which inclines to believe its a troll but you seem like a legitimate user so I'll take it for what it's worth. Semanicts aside, these people are in America and we need to find constructive ways of dealing with them. I won't fault you for not having sympathy for starving, desperate people, but it still isn't going to get YOU anywhere. You ignore people and after a while you have a native born generation of people who feel ignored and are very poor. This tends to make criminals that will just as soon kick your ass (and mine) to take what we have as listen to complaints about legitimate immigrants.

Those criminals should try fixing the problems in their country instead of running away from them and adding to our problems.

All I can say about this is that it is idealistic and impractical.



No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
kindhearted with my wallet (none / 1) (#127)
by adimovk5 on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 07:03:04 AM EST

.....Semanicts aside, these people are in America and we need to find constructive ways of dealing with them. I won't fault you for not having sympathy for starving, desperate people, but it still isn't going to get YOU anywhere. You ignore people and after a while you have a native born generation of people who feel ignored and are very poor. This tends to make criminals that will just as soon kick your ass (and mine) to take what we have as listen to complaints about legitimate immigrants..... I have sympathy for starving desperate people. I don't have pity for criminals. If you feed, clothe, and shelter the illegals you will encourage more to enter. You might as well open the border.

I am not ignoring the illegals. I want them all rounded up and shipped out. They will not turn into criminals. THey are criminals.

Legitimate immigrants have waited in line and obeyed our laws. They deserve our help as they try to become good citizens.

The criminals are a burden on taxpayers and should be removed.

.....All I can say about this is that it is idealistic and impractical.....

And yet you believe it is realistic and practical to care for people who enter the country illegally? Do you think they will be the last? You are treating the symptom instead of the disease.

The root of the problem is their native country. Send them back and help them OVER THERE. Pay for their food and clothing and shelter OVER THERE. Help them to change their native land and you will stop the illegals from trying to come here.



[ Parent ]

Practicality (none / 0) (#157)
by thankyougustad on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 12:12:38 PM EST

I want them all rounded up and shipped out.
Right. . .

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
what's wrong with that? (none / 1) (#199)
by adimovk5 on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 05:33:32 PM EST

What's wrong with wanting criminals rounded up?

[ Parent ]
Rounding criminals up... (none / 1) (#202)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 05:40:54 PM EST

is a problem when laws make criminals of men that should not be classified as such.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
then change the laws (none / 0) (#210)
by adimovk5 on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 06:07:00 PM EST

Under our current social system, the United States can only absorb a certain number of immigrants per year. The social system must be changed if you want to allow unrestricted immigration. Otherwise the economy will collapse and there will be nothing for the illegals OR the citizens.

[ Parent ]
The point is that in this case (none / 1) (#211)
by thankyougustad on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 06:08:39 PM EST

it is impractical. There is no way you can 'round up' (as a national socialist would put it) immigrants and send them back to thier countries of origin. Not gonna happen.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
so are you suggesting (none / 1) (#259)
by adimovk5 on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 12:53:26 PM EST

that because it is impractical to find ALL the illegal entrants then we should give up trying to return any of them? Should we cease enforcing speed limits because we can't stop all speeders? Should we cease hunting down counterfeiters because we can't catch them all?

I think we should continue enforcing the law and keep trying new methods so that we eject as many as possible. I have no problem with legal immigration. I have a problem with people who think they can ignore a decision made by the citizens of this country when it conflicts with their own wants.



[ Parent ]

Different kind of impractcality. (none / 1) (#261)
by thankyougustad on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 01:03:37 PM EST

I'm not going to worry about the difficulties of rounding up illegal immigrants. It would indeed be next to impossible, but you're right, we don't abandon things just because they aren't 100% efficient. What my concern is is this: you take out America's illegal immigrants and the economy shuts down.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
economy shut down (none / 1) (#272)
by adimovk5 on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 05:40:26 PM EST

What makes you believe that the economy will definitely shut down if all the illegal immigrants are removed? Can you point me to a reputable site that backs your claim? I would like to see for myself. I suspect that the proof is lengthier than a simple comment reply.

I believe that the illegal immigrants could be removed if the government and the citizens really wanted it to be done. I also believe that the economy wouldn't shut down. Work needs to be done. There are citizens who need work. At some point the two will meet. People will be paid to the work that needs to be done.

That probably means that wages for the work will rise since there will be fewer workers. A lack of workers in an industry causes wage increases. It may also mean that the number of legal immigrants may need to be increased to meet the labor demand.

[ Parent ]

I can tell you (none / 1) (#273)
by thankyougustad on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 05:52:11 PM EST

from personal experience that one Mexican is worth then white boys. However, if that isn't good enough for you, is a very timely peice from the BBC.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
That BBC article (none / 0) (#289)
by adimovk5 on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 08:20:39 PM EST

in no way supports your claim.

Successful reduction of illegal immigrants wouldn't happen suddenly. The economy wouldn't collapse because there were no cheap nannies, maids, and gardeners. People would return to doing the work themselves or pay higher wages to employees.

.....one Mexican is worth then white boys.....

I agree that one ambitious hardworking Mexican is worth ten lazy pampered white boys. However hiring illegal immigrants is still wrong. Perhaps we should move the immigration stations to the north side of the deserts. We continue persecuting those trying to cross. Hell, we make it even more dangerous. Any survivors get work visas. After a probation period the work visas become immigration visas.

[ Parent ]

Um. (none / 0) (#303)
by thankyougustad on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 09:23:39 AM EST

There is a film out this year called A Day Without Mexicans. Based in California, it imagines how the Golden State wakes up one day to find that all of its Mexican migrants have disappeared. There is no one left to flip the burgers, clean the loos, blow the leaves or nanny the children. For 24 hours, life in California grinds to a halt. Mass hysteria breaks out.


No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Maybe for California (none / 0) (#343)
by Cro Magnon on Mon Dec 20, 2004 at 09:40:49 AM EST

because it's full of pampered liberals who wouldn't know an honest days work if it bit them. But in some parts of the country, Americans still know how to work.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Comparing immigrants to non-immigrants... (none / 0) (#349)
by Shajenko on Tue Dec 21, 2004 at 03:55:16 PM EST

... is comparing apples and oranges. Immigrants will tend to be harder working than non-immigrants simply because only those willing to go to the trouble of emigrating are counted. I'm sure there are plenty of lazy Mexicans. Most likely they didn't bother leaving Mexico.

Add to it the fact that the trek is very dangerous and the survivors are threatened with expulsion, ensures that illegals will work very hard indeed. Of course, the reason that it's illegal to hire illegal immigrants is because society sees it as highly immoral to abuse and exploit people like that.

Plus, if we cut off the escape route to the US, Mexico will have more pressure to clean up its act. Then both the US and Mexico (and their citizens) will be better off. Supporting the continuation of illegal immigration means you support weakening both countries.

[ Parent ]
adimovk (none / 0) (#170)
by GenerationY on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 01:47:41 PM EST

is that a foreign name by any chance?

[ Parent ]
My money is on... (none / 0) (#183)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 04:43:06 PM EST

"adam of k5"

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
it's 2 things in one (none / 0) (#197)
by adimovk5 on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 05:32:14 PM EST

It's an abbreviation of AD-apt IM-provise OV-ercome plus k5. It's also close to Isaac Asimov who was the first author that I read just for the author.

[ Parent ]
constructive ways of dealing with them (none / 1) (#137)
by wiredog on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 11:14:22 AM EST

The most constructive way is to round them up and ship them back across the border.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
No, that's a completely idiotic way... (none / 1) (#140)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 11:23:32 AM EST

A huge fraction of US labor is done by illegal immigrants, people who have a work ethic but are breaking laws only because the laws are stupid. Some studies estimate that illegal immigrants make up 75% of agricultural labor at certain times of the year. So, are you volunteering to pick the berries, or are you saying that we should pay more for them? Which is it?

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
A couple of solutions (none / 1) (#145)
by wiredog on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 11:43:31 AM EST

Pay more for them is one. We already do that with higher prices for medical care, especially emergency care. Another option is a guest worker program which makes them legal. Or allow the agricultural corporations to import the workers on something like an h1-b.

Note that all of the options for legalizing the workers result in higher prices as the corporations now have to pay them what they're worth and treat them as they would other legal residents.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]

Well, don't you think that this is preferable? (none / 0) (#147)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 11:54:48 AM EST

While there are certainly drawbacks, don't you think it would be better that everything was on the up and up? The price of goods would reflect the real costs of producing them instead of being artificially low, and tax revenues would be collected to offset the burden of having these people in the system, instead of having them place a strain on it without paying into it.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Absolutely. (none / 0) (#150)
by wiredog on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 11:57:44 AM EST

Then, of course, we get into the entire assimilation (how many can we, how hard should we force it, etc) argument. Also the homeland security argument.

But you would still have people who would otherwise be excluded trying to sneak in, who would have to be deported.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]

actually, garbagemen make a good hourly (none / 0) (#267)
by Battle Troll on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 02:11:38 PM EST

More than, eg, construction workers.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
So you're a greedy bastard then? (none / 0) (#212)
by Russell Dovey on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 06:15:03 PM EST

Seriously, why would any decent person do this?

And then Russell slapped himself in the head as he realised he was talking to an American... (joking, I have lots of American friends.)

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

Your education is only worth it if you make 6x? (none / 0) (#268)
by cburke on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 02:25:51 PM EST

How about having a job that is physically easy, intellectually stimulating and doesn't involve cleaning toilets?  What's that worth?  I wonder what you'd do if you lost your job and had to clean toilets for a while, and then were offered your job back but at 1/3rd the pay.

Is that why you got your degrees, to get more money?  Don't answer if one of them is an MBA.  But if it is, then I'm going to go out on what is not so much of a limb and say your employer would be better off with someone who didn't mind making only 2x what a janitor makes because they enjoy what they do.  In my experience engineers (or other producers of "intellectual property") who are in it for the love are an order of magnitude more valuable than ones who are in it for the money.  Just like students in a class who are in it for the knowledge come out better than the ones who are in it for the grade (and the degree and the subsequent high-paying job).

No, not everyone can be a CEO.  Why, though, should a CEO make 200x what their workers make -- and why is this not the case in many other countries?  And don't even try to say "stress" or "risk".

Funny how you would point out to your company how valuable you are and thus should make 6x more than the janitor, but it doesn't occur to you to go to your company and ask why upper management makes 50x (before benefits) what you make.

Inflation is not going to make everything the same, because there's no way you could keep the 6x, 50x, 200x multipliers and the only way you'd get hyper-inflation is if you tried.  So don't try.  If you can live well off 6x what a $14k janitor makes (and I'm sure you do), you can live well off 2.5x what a $32k janitor makes.  Don't worry, they'll still be driving the Corolla while you drive the Supra so your superior status will be clear.

The elimination of poverty is a pie-in-the-sky dream of people with too much time in their hands, a rich daddy, or a serious lack of ability to live in reality. I suppose, however, some people like living in their self-created cocoon of delusion.

Funny, that's how I feel about people who feel they are entitled to make X times more than someone working hard in a shitty job.

Yes, "Existence of the Poor is Inevitable".  That statement is patently obvious and nothing but an attempt to hide the fact that we could have much fewer poor.  A flimsy excuse to protect the status quo.

[ Parent ]

Yes and No (none / 0) (#271)
by dharma on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 05:16:06 PM EST

My graduate degrees are in physics and electrical engineering. But funny you should mentioned it, I am currently entering an MBA program. I may only be earning 6x-7x now (26 years old the youngest in my division) but I certainly plan to hit that 50x by the time I am 35. I don't ask upper management why they earn 50x more because I am going to climb my way up there and join the club. I am not jealous of them unlike most people.

Do I love my profession? Yes. I earned by degrees because I enjoyed learning and I enjoyed the topics. I've published papers, made presentations and contributed my own accomplishments to the field. But if I had to choose between a Nobel Prize and a fat salary I will choose the fat salary. Why? Because in the long run we are all dead. Since I don't know if an afterlife exists but I do know this life does, I want to enjoy this life. I like to travel abroad. I like a nice house, a pool, a big screen TV, etc. That requires money.

You can hold whatever disdain you want for those who've worked their way up to a large salary but that is little more than disguised envy. It will get you no where. Am I a superior human being? No. Am I entitled to earn X times more: you bet. I earned it.

[ Parent ]

Well, I will (none / 0) (#292)
by kurtmweber on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 10:42:44 PM EST

And don't even try to say "stress" or "risk".
Why? That is part of the answer.

Another part of the answer is that their labor is simply worth that much more to those paying the checks.

Aristotle put it quite nicely when he said something along the lines of, even though the General depends on the foot soldiers and the foot soldiers on the General, the General is more important because without him the organization dissolves.

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
[ Parent ]
Schooling (3.00 / 3) (#59)
by NoBeardPete on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 03:59:06 PM EST

If you look at the US workforce, you will see that people with more schooling generally make more money and have a higher standard of living. From this, you seem to deduce that if we give everyone more schooling, everyone will make more money and have a higher standard of living. I think this is a mistake.

Extra schooling can help an individual do better in two different ways. It might actually make them more productive, allow them to accomplish things they wouldn't have known how to do, or allow them to accomplish things more efficiently. Alternately, it might simply help them compete with other potential employees, and convince an employer that they are the best candidate. If schooling is primarily useful to the individual because of the first of these reasons, providing more school to more people will help the whole population. If schooling is primarily useful to the individual because of the second reason, providing more school to more people will not help the whole population, it will just cause a type of inflation - perhaps instead of needing a college degree for a typical office job, one will need a masters degree.

So, the question is, "To what extent does schooling help an individual because of each of these two reasons?" A further question is, "If we put more people in school for longer, how will that change the ratio of these two effects?"

I think Americans already spend plenty of time in school. Hell, I think they generally spend too much time in school. Instead of figuring out how to get funds to keep more people in school for longer, I'd advocate that we figure out how to give people a better education with the time that they do spend in school.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!

Good point (2.00 / 2) (#62)
by thankyougustad on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 05:04:37 PM EST

this is partly why a college degree, today, in America, is of almost no use, except as a potential ticket to grad school.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Not Necessarily (none / 1) (#98)
by The Solitaire on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 08:16:35 PM EST

Even if education is primarily useful for the second reason, it doesn't follow that encouraging more education will lead to "education inflation", though it might. You would have to also assume that when an employer was attempting to fill a vacant position, an employee with additional education is preferred, all other things being equal. However, this just isn't true.

Once upon a time I worked at a certain ubiquitous, but rather crappy electronics peddler (guess away). When we were trying to fill a sales position, we got an application from someone with a master's degree (in what I can't remember, but I believe it was in the sciences). The application was promptly consigned to the circular file, because the applicant was clearly overqualified. First, we wondered why anyone with an advanced degree would want to work there. Second, even if they were on the level, and there wasn't anything wrong with them, the likelyhood was that they only wanted the job as a stop-gap, and we were trying to avoid having a high turnover rate.

This is just one example, but I'm sure there are many, many, others. Employer's (despite what you might read in Dilbert) aren't that stupid. At some point, they're going to realize that the difference between a bachelor's degree and a high-school diploma is meaningless if you're hiring a (insert relatively menial job here).

I need a new sig.
[ Parent ]

Overqualified is harsh (3.00 / 2) (#105)
by GenerationY on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 08:37:11 PM EST

People often to treat it like a kind of joke but it really isn't.

I had a 3 month period between one job finishing and another starting where I could hardly get anything because I have advanced degrees. Sure, I could miss them off my CV legitimately, at which point its starts to look like I did a stretch in prison basically unless I start to tell some serious lies. For which I could go to jail...

In the end I worked as a relief postman and did some general labouring on a building site. The only things I could get then were jobs in which you don't need any qualifications so nobody asks you basically (the building work was the kind of thing where you turn up at 5.30/6.00am in your work clothes, sign a liability form, join a queue and the managers grab their quota of bodies and send you to it for the day, cash in hand - it was like being in newsreel of the great depression or a George Orwell novel). I think it did me good as a person because it broadened some of my horizons and knocked me off my arrogance a bit to do a decent day's work, but I would have preferred (say) retail to working outside in the winter. But you need basic maths to work in retail, which means a CV, so I couldn't.

[ Parent ]

Not a Joke (none / 0) (#196)
by The Solitaire on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 05:25:34 PM EST

To be clear, I don't think of it as a joke at all. I myself have an advanced degree (and am working on a second), and I'd hate to have to go through the kind of experience you describe. That being said, I think I'd prefer manual labour to retail. I hate retail, and I never, ever, ever, want to go back to it.

I need a new sig.
[ Parent ]

Yeah (none / 1) (#206)
by GenerationY on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 05:49:16 PM EST

Sorry, I wasn't targetting the remark at you.
Its more that if you mention it being a problem, people look at you like you are saying your bag of gold is too heavy to carry or that parking your Aston Martin is a bitch etc...

[ Parent ]
overqualified (none / 0) (#290)
by adimovk5 on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 08:29:24 PM EST

I asked the human resources guy about overqualified people. He said that they eventually demand higher wages or better job positions/promotions. If the demands aren't met they quit. Now the company has lost all the time and money invested in the ex-employee. It's more efficient to hire a person whose education matches the job. They will give a better return on the investment.

[ Parent ]
Not everybody works for somebody else. (none / 0) (#139)
by Kwil on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 11:18:37 AM EST

Your second point assumes that "working for another firm" is the only way that those with a higher education are employed.

The chances of someone starting their own business and succeeding (as in, remaining in business for over 3 years) can be directly correlated to the level of education they have.

Thus, even if there is some "degree inflation" as you mention, there will also be a net gain in jobs as a whole as more small businesses take root.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
You're making the same mistake (none / 0) (#165)
by NoBeardPete on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 12:33:39 PM EST

More schooling in an individual correlates with certain things (higher income, likelyhood of starting a business, etc). This does not mean that having more people in the population go through more schooling with increase those things.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

No Duh.. hence "correlation" (none / 0) (#167)
by Kwil on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 12:42:17 PM EST

However, to deny that the correlation exists simply because it doesn't agree with your point is just as foolhardy.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
Your mistake (none / 0) (#173)
by NoBeardPete on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 03:01:30 PM EST

You point out that more schooling correlates to business starting. You then assert that increasing schooling will therefore increase the starting of businesses. This is a fallacy.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

No.. (none / 0) (#300)
by Kwil on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 05:25:38 AM EST

Why is it that some people have drilled "correlation != causation" so far into their heads they fail to see that "correlation == relation"?

I don't care if education causes more people to start a successful business.
What I care about is that education and successful businesses are co-related. Given that not everybody can get an education, by providing universal education, we ensure that those who would find lack of education an obstacle no longer have that obstacle.

Look at it as a comparison.

You either have an education(E) and can start a successful business(B), don't have an education(!E) and can start a successful business, have an education and can't start a successful business(!B), don't have an education and can't start a successful business.  

We know that the correlation shows us that E+B > !E+B
We also know as basic knowledge that !E+!B > E+B
What we don't know is how E+!B compares.

So, let's think about this. Educated people who start a successful business either successfully start the business because they are educated, or because they are the type of people who would successfully start a business, they get educated.

At the same time, uneducated people who start a successful business I think we can safely assume would not be less likely to do so because they received an education, correct?  

Now, given this, we see that, in every case, changing a person from !E to E does nothing to harm their chances of starting a successful business.

Now, if you assume that this policy changes one person from a !E+!B position to an E+B position, then you've had a net gain in employment.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
Why would the U.S. (none / 1) (#68)
by sudog on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 05:45:26 PM EST

... ever want an educated populace who can think for themselves? Neoconservatives want people dumb enough to believe the fear and propaganda their leaders foist on them without demanding proof, and they need a workforce they can exploit.

Seems simple enough to me.


Indeed... (none / 0) (#182)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 04:42:11 PM EST

Putting logic, probability and statistics on the curriculum would be political suicide. Better to keep the masses confused with calculus.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Your goal is impossible but your methods are... (3.00 / 2) (#77)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Dec 16, 2004 at 07:23:47 PM EST

excellent.

As others have noted we can never eliminate "poverty" because "poverty" is a moving goal -but we can, and should, radically improve public education in the USA. By doing so we would not only make the democratic ideal more real (by allowing more people to go as far as their dreams and work ethic will take them) but restore much of what we seem to have lost over the past 30 years.

After all, a more education populace will be more able to care for themselves, less likely to fall under the sway of demagogues of any stripe and capable of the kinds of creativity that produce real wealth - new inventions, new medicines, new art.

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it is insane. - Obscure Chinese Proverb

I think that the government... (3.00 / 2) (#134)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 09:12:06 AM EST

could both take the moral high ground and in the long run ameliorate problems by doing less, not more. There are two kinds of people on welfare: people who are loafing parasites, and people who have suffered legitimate hardships. I think that most of us can agree that the former deserve poverty, and the latter do not. Those who would free ride must have harsh consequences in place to steer them right, and those who have a work ethic should not be forced to supplicate to the government for assistance when dealt a bad hand.

I think that the number one cause of good people ending up in bad situations is their inability to accrue savings that can be tapped in times of trouble. This is the result of perhaps a few things, but a major contributor is the enormous tax burden. Just imagine what would happen if instead of forking over a third of their income to taxes every year, families only paid a "mere" fifth of their income, and were able to squirrel the resultant savings away to cover unforeseen catastrophes. Mind you, people might piss away the extra money in their pocket by making frivolous purchases, but then whose fault is it when the sky falls and they don't have a shelter? At least then their misery is the result of poor planning, not an oppressive tax burden.

Life is hard, and managing one's finances sensibly for the long haul involves some serious consideration. If you are living from pay check to pay check, bothering not with contingency planning, what do you expect to happen when there is a momentary disruption to your normal life? Animals in the wild store body fat to deal with disasters, and so too must sensible people store cash reserves. No longer is the currency of life calories, but money. This is not complicated.

As for education in this country, it is currently run in an absolutely brain dead fashion. A person with a high school education can do only one of two things: go to college, or get an absolutely miserable and ill-paying job. That is just stupid. Instead of burying students under a mountain of useless (on its own) general knowledge that fails to over qualify them for even a burger flipper job, kids should instead be inculcated with practical skills that can get them real work, and then encouraged to pursue concrete higher education as it becomes apparent that it would yield them benefits. Even a majority of college educations do little to prepare one for the real world in a tangible way. We need to stop treating the process of education as if it needs to be like building a pyramid, starting with an enormous and (by itself) useless base, and ending up with some hyper-focused end point.

We should instead use an iterative process. Have kids learn a concrete skill set. Then let them build outwards from it, picking up additional bodies of knowledge that they can leverage, or if they want, bodies of knowledge that can let them branch outward in other ways. What if at the end of a high school education we were turning out not disaffected 18 year olds who have had the joy of learning wrung from them, but instead 18 year olds with a sense of pride in having a real skill set, the earning potential that comes from it, and a real appreciation for the value of knowledge? Until we start thinking along these lines, things are not going to get better, no matter how much money we throw at the problem.

Kids aren't stupid, and they aren't lazy. They are just incredibly frustrated by being forced to learn things for which there may never be a benefit, or for which the benefit is so far off in the future that they cannot comprehend it. Anybody who has witnessed the ravenous way in which a kid can devour a body of knowledge when they can immediately apply it knows what I mean. How come are schools are so unbelievably incapable of teaching even rudimentary things, but the same kids that fail out of the system can commit 5000 different Pokemon cards to memory? HELLO!?!?



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
the enormous tax burden? (none / 0) (#142)
by wiredog on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 11:38:08 AM EST

Not that enormous. At least not here in Virginia. Between state taxes, federal income taxes, federal social security and other taxes, I lose about a quarter of my paycheck. Sales taxes take another 5% or so. So I'm losing less than a third of my income to taxes.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
Um, just barely... (none / 0) (#144)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 11:40:47 AM EST

and you've neglected to mention property taxes.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
I rent (none / 0) (#148)
by wiredog on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 11:54:57 AM EST

That said, even those aren't too bad. I honestly have no objection to taxes, only how they are used and the distribution of who gathers them. The anti-tax nuts say 'all taxes should be lowered' when that is not an optimal solution. Lower federal taxes, and higher state and local taxes, would be better. I'd rather see more local taxes and lower federal (and state) taxes.

That, I think, would do more to improve people's lives (and futures) than lower taxes overall, or and Federal program.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]

You pay property taxes even if you rent. (none / 0) (#149)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 11:57:17 AM EST

You don't pay them directly, but they are reflected in the magnitude of your rent. It is folly to think that you don't pay them, just because someone else is paying them for you. TANSTAAFL.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
True. (none / 0) (#151)
by wiredog on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 11:58:52 AM EST

But those taxes are spread out among more people than if it was just me.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
Um, no... (none / 0) (#154)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 12:01:22 PM EST

Your rate of taxation per unit time is fixed. What does it matter whether you lived in the same house indefinitely or bounced from one place to another?

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
I'm in an apartment now. (none / 0) (#161)
by wiredog on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 12:16:33 PM EST

More people per square foot.

With houses that's true, subject to the vagaries of the market. Locally (DC area), it may be better to rent at a loss than to sell if you are living somewhere else for a couple of years. Or, for that matter, to rent at a loss while holding onto the property to sell later.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]

So, what you're saying is... (none / 0) (#187)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 05:06:18 PM EST

that you save on taxes by being crammed into a miserably small place. :-)

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
You won't like it... (none / 0) (#254)
by codejack on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 12:08:25 PM EST

Lower federal taxes, and higher state and local taxes, would be better. I'd rather see more local taxes and lower federal (and state) taxes.
And you're from Virginia? Look it up, 40% of federal taxes come from California; If we lower federal taxes and go to state or local taxes, California will have the best economy in the world, and Virginia will be right in between Ethiopia and Mississippi,


Please read before posting.

[ Parent ]
But wait. . . (3.00 / 2) (#262)
by thankyougustad on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 01:05:39 PM EST

What percentage of those federal taxes go to things that matter to us Virginians? How much of those dollars are going to our schools, our roads, our hospitals? I'm willing to be it's pretty small. Isn't most of that money from California going to things like the Defense budget, and other national programs?

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Uh-huh (none / 0) (#312)
by codejack on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 10:40:12 AM EST

So who is going to pay for those national programs when the states keep all their money? Can Virginia afford it's own army? It's own HUD? Anything else? Hell, I'm not sure Virginia could afford roads if it weren't for federal money.


Please read before posting.

[ Parent ]
VA? You're joking, right? (none / 1) (#334)
by curien on Mon Dec 20, 2004 at 05:45:58 AM EST

You're using the Communistwealth of Virginia as an example of low taxes?

First, the state income tax rate is quite high. I thought it was high in NC, but VA takes the cake. Second, the sales tax rate is nearly astronomical on some items. When you eat in a restaurant in Newport News, you pay 14% sales tax. FOURTEEN PERCENT!

In addition to an annual registration fee, you have to pay property tax on your car every year. Oh, and it's not based on how much the car is worth, but on how much the state thinks it's worth. I had a $500 car at one point that VA wanted $30 per annum for (it had major -- but entirely cosmetic -- body damage).

Oh, and don't get me started on their fucked-up vehicle inspection policy, their restrictions on "vehicle modifications", their copious toll boo^w^wspeed traps.

Oh, and how about city parking permits. They cost, what, $50? And if you don't have one, it's a $100 ticket. The treasurer of VA Beach got in trouble a few years ago for explaining the purpose of those things. They were, according to him, a tax on all those black folks who were too poor to pay income tax.

Is that the Virginia you're talking about?

--
This sig is umop apisdn.
[ Parent ]

I'm dubious. (none / 0) (#363)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Dec 24, 2004 at 11:50:04 AM EST

That sounds awfully low to me. Particularly the sales tax. But, it has been 20 years since I lived inside the beltway so perhaps I'm mis-remembering.

RUN !! IT?S AN ATTACK OF THE ?WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS? NAZIS!!!! - Brian Crouch
[ Parent ]
Nice idea but (none / 0) (#146)
by GenerationY on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 11:45:19 AM EST

Just imagine what would happen if instead of forking over a third of their income to taxes every year, families only paid a "mere" fifth of their income, and were able to squirrel the resultant savings away to cover unforeseen catastrophes. Mind you, people might piss away the extra money in their pocket by making frivolous purchases, but then whose fault is it when the sky falls and they don't have a shelter? At least then their misery is the result of poor planning, not an oppressive tax burden.

I'm imagining the hyper-inflation that would destroy any savings you have already prudently made out of your income. People wouldn't squirrel it away, they'd spend it, so changing the taxation system would only penalise already careful people. In fact there would be a double whammy because as well as inflation, you'd also the poorest people being paid a bit less. But hey, they are still getting a "living wage" sufficient to keep them in cheap clothes and bad food right?

[ Parent ]

We could follow this logic through... (none / 0) (#152)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 12:00:19 PM EST

to its insane conclusion, and say that the best way to fight inflation is to do away with income, right? Yes, there would be momentary problems as the system behaved violently as the result of a change in constraints, but it would proceed to a new equilibrium, and that equilibrium would be preferable. Furthermore, there would be more resources to go around on the whole, as taxation is an inherently wasteful process as the result of the overhead of performing the collection. I don't think it's quite as simple as you make it out to be.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
The question is.. (none / 1) (#166)
by Kwil on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 12:34:00 PM EST

..though taxation is inherently wasteful due to collection, is that waste made up for by the economies of scale that are afforded to a government with a large amount of resources behind them?  Perhaps not, but maybe so. I don't know.

In addition, given that there will always be some sort of tax (as otherwise, you wouldn't have politicians to bother with those boring things like negotiating trade deals or providing national defence) does a reduction of tax necessarily reduce the overhead, or does it just magnify the ratio of overhead to taxation?

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
It's a trade off, (none / 0) (#186)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 04:58:32 PM EST

and there is obviously gain up to a certain point, and beyond that it becomes wasteful. If that were not the case, then apart from corruption we wouldn't bother with any taxes at all. I think it's sensible to say that we get better economy of scale by having a military assembled at the federal level instead of each of us just keeping a rifle in his closet as the only means of defense. There are other things where one can make a similar argument, and yet other things for which the utility of having them performed by the government is highly specious.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
economies of scale (none / 0) (#291)
by adimovk5 on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 08:50:35 PM EST

.....is that waste made up for by the economies of scale that are afforded to a government with a large amount of resources behind them?.....

The government rarely benefits from economy of scale. When it does that benefit tends to be less than what would have been gained by the private sector.

The government is best at those things that are impossible to achieve without government. Funding the police and firemen are good examples. Can you imagine purchasing the protection of these people on the open market? If someone didn't pay would they receive no protection?

Everytime the government touches money it reduces the money. There is a price to be paid for all the bureaucracy. Imagine if we had to pay for one bureaucrat. He has a salary and benfits. He also has a place to work. The building has to be paid for as well as the utilites and associated costs. Now start adding co-workers and bosses and subordinates. Add payroll systems and meetings.

The more you ask government to do the more money you take out of the system. There is no incentive to be more efficient since there is no competition. If you add projects and spend more money, you get more money. If you save money, you lose money. Perpetual government projects will always end up bloated, corrupt and inefficient. There has never been a government operation that avoided this.

[ Parent ]

I call bullshit. (none / 0) (#299)
by Kwil on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 04:43:44 AM EST

For two reasons:
First, corporations are no different when it comes to bureacracy. And in fact, certain fixed costs that you point out, like buildings, utilities, and associated costs, are exactly the ones that the economies of scale help to deal with.  In addition, the government most often owns its buildings. This means it doesn't pay to a landlord, who takes a profit. When ever someone takes a profit, those are additional resources that are gone from the task at hand, whatever it may be. The only difference is that corporations tend to have a shorter life-cycle.

Second, there's a counter-example in Canada -- a country that's managed to maintain a surplus budget for 7 years in a row now and is paying down its debt quite handily. At the same time, taxes are going down but services are generally being maintained.

There is competition in a governmental system. It's called political parties and elections. Just because the average american consumer doesn't care to get informed about the possibilities or choose based on the actual working economics of a party as opposed to ideological values doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

In other words, there's nothing that inherently forces a government to be inefficient. Given an attentive enough populace, inefficiencies are punished with an absolutely ruthless change in management.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
Do you honestly think... (none / 0) (#301)
by skyknight on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 07:34:26 AM EST

that there is that much difference in outcome between having a Democrat or a Republican in office? Personally, I'm not seeing the choice that you seem to think exists.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
uncompetitive government (none / 0) (#304)
by adimovk5 on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 09:25:04 AM EST

.....First, corporations are no different when it comes to bureacracy.....

Corporations are very different. They must compete against other corporations. They must use their assets efficiently and produce a return on investment. Government has no such pressure. As you pointed out, the government owns its property once it is bought. That property is taken out of the economy and is no longer required to be used productively. There is no incentive to care for the property or use it productively.

.....Second, there's a counter-example in Canada.....

Canada isn't a counter example. Here are some comparisons from the CIA factbook 2004:

Canada
population 32,507,874

revenues $348.2 billion

debt of 77% of GDP

purchasing power parity $958.7 billion

United States
population 293,027,571

revenues $1.782 trillion

debt of 62.4% of GDP

purchasing power parity $10.99 trillion

calculations
population ratio 9.01

revenue ratio 5.12

debt ratio 1.23

PPP ratio 11.46

You can see that the two countries aren't in the same class. The United States has 9 times the population and 5 times the revenue in an economy that is 11 times that of Canada. Nevertheless the debt ratio of Canada is higher. In other words, Canada's debt is higher in relation to its economy. The raw amount of debt the US has is disgusting but as a percentage it is in line with other countries.

Canada's population is on par with that of the US circa 1860, when the census recorded 31,443,321. The debt of the United States wasn't a problem until the 1930s. It slowly increased until the release of the dollar from the gold standard in 1971. From there the increase per year is larger but still linear and has parallelled the growth of the economy. The US debt problem coincides with the fall of the Great Powers and the emergence of the US as a world superpower. Canada is a minor power and doesn't have the obligations of the US.

.....There is competition in a governmental system. It's called political parties.....

There is no significant competition between the political parties. It's the same as saying the two sides of a quarter are different. They are but most people don't care about the difference. It's still a quarter and still spends the same. The minor parties are different but have little impact on the majors.

.....In other words, there's nothing that inherently forces a government to be inefficient.....

There's nothing that forces government to be EFFICIENT either. In the abscence of pressure, government is inefficient and bloated and slow.



[ Parent ]

Brilliant, sherlock. (none / 0) (#314)
by Kwil on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 12:55:58 PM EST

My congratulations on completely missing the point.

Proof of my point (ergo, disproof of yours) does not require that a government be in a better position relative to any other. Hell, proof of my point doesn't even require that a government be in a positive position. Proof of my point only requires that the position of the government is getting better -- that is, maintaining services while imposing lower tax burdens. Your assertion would suggest this is impossible as it entails a government becoming more efficient. Something you suggest can not happen.

Canada, however, is doing this. It's lowering the individual tax burden, while maintaining services and surplus.

...There is no significant competition between the political parties. It's the same as saying the two sides of a quarter are different. They are but most people don't care about the difference. It's still a quarter and still spends the same. The minor parties are different but have little impact on the majors....  

Hey look! You've just pointed out exactly what I've said, that the American Consumers are simply too non-observant to consider alternatives based on something other than idealogies. So we agree. Just because the American people don't choose wisely doesn't mean a wise choice does not exist, as you point out may be true with the minor parties.

... There's nothing that forces government to be EFFICIENT either. In the abscence of pressure, government is inefficient and bloated and slow. ...

Congratulations, Captain Ob(li)vious. How is this different from corporations? Examine Standard Oil and Ma Bell for examples of corporations that had an absence of pressure. Notice anything?

Now if you'd care to recall my point: that people can apply pressure if they bother to use their brain and senses. You're not asserting anything at all different from that, or even related for that matter.  Again, just because the American people don't put pressure on the government doesn't mean it can't be done.

You're equating what is (and not even what is generally, but simply what is for the U.S.) with what can be, and then blaming the system based on that faulty observation.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
Also, what if... (none / 0) (#240)
by skyknight on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 08:05:12 AM EST

instead we had mandatory savings plans for people? Personally, I think the idea of telling people how to manage their own money is odious, but perhaps slightly less odious than having the government outright take it from them to do rainy day contingency planning for them and subsequently to make them beg. Would you prefer that?

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Whoa! (none / 0) (#153)
by codejack on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 12:00:32 PM EST

I'm sorry, but if I recall correctly, people under the poverty line don't pay federal income tax! How will lowering taxes help them, again?

The fact of the matter is that any system you can devise to alleviate the worst symptoms of poverty (after all, that is the goal, right? No starving people in the street) will be subject to abuse. The only thing you will do by trying to cure the abuse is make the whole thing more expensive and harder to get out of; Have you ever tried to find a job when you have to go to "job workshops" for 4 hours every day? Besides, living in the projects and eating government cheese is punishment enough.

As for education, I think the biggest problem is that teachers aren't paid enough; Think about it, if you're in college tryign to decide on a major, and you're leaning towards either teaching or mechanical engineering, and you see that (using salaries from tennessee) a teacher makes $26,000/year, while a mechanical engineer makes $50,000/year, which way are you going to go? Well, I think that the smart people will become engineers, while the not-so-smart people will become teachers.

That's not the only problem, of course, but it wouild go a long way towards getting better educated, more committed teachers into the schools .

Of course, none of this will help while the only jobs available are flipping burgers, or is it just in Tennessee where people with Bachelor's and Master's degrees are getting unemployment because there aren't any jobs?


Please read before posting.

[ Parent ]
First of all, to be horribly blunt... (none / 1) (#162)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 12:17:23 PM EST

I don't think that people below the poverty line should be having families, period. That's just stupid. People think that they have a right to procreate, but they don't. It's a privilege earned by having a certain degree of economic success. That's how it works in the wild, and it's silly to think that it should be different within the confines of civilization. Birds don't breed until they have fattened up a bit and built a nest. People shouldn't breed until they have developed a semi-respectable economic base, and that means getting past the poverty line. If you start cranking out babies on a $15k salary, you more or less get what you deserve.

As for formal education, it is becoming increasingly worthless, and this is why educators are so ill-paid. For most kids, it is nothing more than state run day care. Also, there is a huge emphasis on the accrual of credentials instead of actual knowledge. Our whole system is becoming a giant diploma factory. Young people spend an enormous amount of time going through these systems, and they don't really gain much in the way of practical experience until they get out into the real world and get a job. It's stupid, and it's the reason that there is such a healthy disrespect for education these days. "Great, you spent four years in a bubble. Now get some real experience, you philosophical wanker."



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Interesting. (none / 1) (#168)
by codejack on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 12:53:33 PM EST

Completely insane, but interesting. Sorry, but people aren't going to stop fucking, and if you want them to do it with birth control, you've got to fucking educate them! It's biological, and economics has nothing to do with it. If you remove welfare, HUD, etc, all you will have is more people living in the streets, starving to death. I would suggest that, even as just a public health issue, welfare is necessary. Moreover, if you don't want roving bands of thugs (well-armed thugs, at that) breaking into your house, killing you, raping your wife, and selling your kids into slavery, you might want to think about what happens when people get desperate, particularly in societies where firearms are cheap and plentiful.

And you are putting the cart before the horse on education: Education is bad, so teachers don't get paid well?! No, education is bad because teachers don't get paid well. Schools don't get enough books, enough money for projects; The Every Child Left Behind act has not only pulled more money from public schools, but pulled it from the schools which need it most, while gutting the last vestiges of true education by focusing on test scores rather than creative and critical thinking.

You know, they used to have "practical" education; They called it vocational school. For welders, plumbers, mechanics, etc, that's great, but it doesn't give you the "useless" education you need to get into college. Granted, neither do most high schools, but I would propose that the teachers not being well educated has a lot to do with that.


Please read before posting.

[ Parent ]
How many years of schooling do we need... (none / 1) (#185)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 04:54:56 PM EST

to educate people on how to use a condom? I'm not proposing that people stop fucking. I'm proposing that they stop procreating and expecting other people to pick up the tab. You want to argue that fucking is natural? Well, no shit it's natural. While we're at it, though, I ought to remind you that it's perfectly natural in the wild for stupid animals to get eaten, and thus denied the privilege of reproduction.

Your conjuring of visions involving insane mobs looting and pillaging is preposterous. We're not talking about a society in which there is a corrupt monarchy keeping the people down. There is boundless opportunity in the USA, and to say otherwise is ridiculous. Yes, we're got problems, but we're not the peasantry of Louis XIV.

As for carts and horses, that's not a good analogy at all. Really, the downfall of the education system is autocatalytic. It is the case that the outcome of the education system is poor because teachers are ill-compensated, but they are ill-compensated because the education system is seen as being largely worthless apart from being a state run day care facility.

Also, you're being way too narrow in your definition of practical skill sets. How useful is an economics degree to someone who wants to go into management? How useful is a computer science degree to someone who wants to be a software engineer? They are massive overkill for a set of skills that is only a subset of what is needed to be successful in those disciplines.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
I say (none / 0) (#215)
by levesque on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 07:33:37 PM EST

There is boundless opportunity in the USA, and to say otherwise is ridiculous.

There is bounded opportunity in the USA. I think you agree. Your use of Natural and Economics as predicates is indicative. I also hate when I have the impression someone thinks they can equate stupid with what is not selected for in the wild.



[ Parent ]

You know very well what I meant. (none / 0) (#223)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 09:12:11 PM EST

We often speak of the sun as having unlimited energy, too, and nobody says "nuh-uh! the sun only has finite energy!!!!11!!" For all intents and purposes one can very reasonably assume that it has unlimited energy. Also, you need to clarify your second point about natural selection as I am not sure where you are trying to go with it.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Each individual (none / 0) (#319)
by levesque on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 07:44:19 PM EST

is bounded by biology, intellegence, looks, economic level/class. How much initiative is needed for any individual to "rise" varies greatly from nothing to a lot to unthinkable. It is better than a closed class system but there is still room for tremendous improvement.

Evolution theory refers to change occuring when the environment exerts a pressure on the species, individuals always have mutations occuring and the "pressure" may increase this rate; one of these mutations may help survival under the new environmental conditions; so over time the species will rid itself of non mutated individuals ( those that didn't have the mutation have been selected againts ).

Now stupid and intellegent are part of a continum and you could say it has been selected for because it is in existence. One is balanced by the other. You cannot select against stupidity unless you figure for some kind of diviner of ultimate goals who sets up a weird test for all humans and kills those who don't pass.

[ Parent ]

I'm not convinced that there is necessarily... (none / 0) (#321)
by skyknight on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 08:37:23 PM EST

a very strong selective pressure against stupidity. There is a preponderance of really brutish and boring labor that needs to be done to keep a civilization going. The world needs its epsilon semi-morons, to borrow Huxley's classification scheme.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
exactly (none / 0) (#344)
by levesque on Mon Dec 20, 2004 at 09:41:03 AM EST

Look at the upper class it has the same general rate of the intelligence, or stupidity, quotient as other classes. But I would put it in a non authoritarian light, something like stupid people are as useful as intelligent people -it is the mix that makes it viable.

By the way that implies that using cash as part of the regulation of school admittance increases the percentage of stupid people in school.

[ Parent ]

Wrong (none / 0) (#221)
by Shajenko on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 09:05:28 PM EST

Your conjuring of visions involving insane mobs looting and pillaging is preposterous. We're not talking about a society in which there is a corrupt monarchy keeping the people down.
Do a little research on the riots in New York during the Civil War. Lots of people, deep in poverty, living in squalor, rioting violently right here in America. It was a real wakeup call for the very rich.

[ Parent ]
That is a ridiculously anachronistic comparison. (none / 0) (#222)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 09:08:26 PM EST

There is such a stark difference between the US circa 1860 and now that I can't believe that you're even venturing a comparison. The US was still basically a fledgling country at that point, and we still had half a continent mostly unpopulated.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
What does it have to do... (none / 0) (#224)
by Shajenko on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 09:13:33 PM EST

... with how old the country was? Do you mean that our country is now sophisticated enough to efficiently crack down on dissidents?

[ Parent ]
Um... (none / 0) (#226)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 17, 2004 at 09:18:23 PM EST

the fact that we were even capable of ending up in a civil war should make things pretty obvious, I would think.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
More, obviously (none / 0) (#235)
by codejack on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 12:14:41 AM EST

Like it or not, many school district still have no sex education whatsoever. Also, you use of natural selection is flawed; Their ability to get us to pick up the tab for their procreation is prima facie evidence of their suitablity to reproduce. And stupid animals eat smart animals all the time, or would you suggest that sharks are the smartest creatures in the ocean?

As for my "visions involving insane mobs looting and pillaging," you may want to read a little history; Oh, sorry, you must be a product of public education where the nickname for history teacher is "coach", right? Well, get on google and look up "mother Jones", cross-reference with "ludlow" if you like, Watts, "tulsa race riot", or just go here. When you've done that, we'll discuss this point further.

Finally, you completely missed my last two points:
  1. You have a hard time getting motivated, high performing college students to go into teaching because there is more money in just about anything else, and
  2. The advent of public education being regarded as "state run day care" corresponds to the modern day necessity of a two-income family, due to the increasing gap between the average and median incomes in America, similar to what happened in the 1920's.
This all ties in together: Rampant inflation over the past 25 years, coupled with only modest increases in median pay, has resulted in an ever-lowering standard of living for most Americans, while funding cuts and ridiculous "reforms" have gutted public education, guaranteeing that the upcoming generation will be ill-prepared to contest with the children of the wealthy for college admission, jobs, etc., in addition to giving them no ability to apply critical thinking to the grotesquely inaccurate propaganda handed out by the likes of Fox news, as well as every other major news outlet, and so have no basis to resist the upcoming re-enactment of the Great Depression and the ensuing third world war. Now, I've left a lot out, there being only so much time on my hands, but I'm sure some others will pick up where I've left off.


Please read before posting.

[ Parent ]
Taxes and the poverty line (none / 0) (#361)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Dec 24, 2004 at 11:48:28 AM EST

Everyone pays the social security tax and everyone pays medicare/medicaid and everyone pays state and local taxes. In my state that adds up to about 15-20% off the top even if you're only working at McDonalds.

I agree with you about teacher's pay levels. I keep looking at getting a teaching certificate but I really don't want a 50% pay cut.

RUN !! IT?S AN ATTACK OF THE ?WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS? NAZIS!!!! - Brian Crouch
[ Parent ]

Spplit category (none / 0) (#333)
by curien on Mon Dec 20, 2004 at 05:34:30 AM EST

There are two kinds of people on welfare: people who are loafing parasites, and people who have suffered legitimate hardships.

I don't think that's granular enough.

First, the loafing parsites. There are those who are genuinely lazy and would simply rather live in welfare-subsidized squalor than work toward a better life. Then there are those (single mothers, etc) who cannot afford to get off welfare.

The problem, it seems to me, is that welfare is currently pretty much all-or-nothing. If we had a phased transition system or a "partial welfare" system, things might be better.

Next, the people with the legitimate problems. Again, I'd like to split this into two subcategories: those with temporary problems and those with permanent problems. There's a difference between the guy out of work because we're in a recession and the guy out of work because he's mentally ill, and we need to address their issues differently.

The solution there, I think, is that we need to spend a little more time properly evaluating people's situations before just handing them money. If it's medical help they really need, then that's what they should get. Unfortunately, there are going to be folks who refuse that help, and there are going to be folks who, for whatever reason, simply cannot function in society. I'm not really sure what to do about them.

--
This sig is umop apisdn.
[ Parent ]

I dunno... (none / 1) (#336)
by skyknight on Mon Dec 20, 2004 at 06:51:44 AM EST

I certainly won't make the claim that there is nobody worth saving. However, it's not clear to me that it's possible to save them all, and it's certainly not possible to save the people who deserve it without a high degree of corruption and free-loading. I just think that government is particularly ill-suited to this task. As you suggest, there needs to be a much more aggressive policy of evaluating people on a case by case basis before we start doling money out. To some extent, I am inclined to believe that private charities are better suited to this task than is government, particularly private charities staffed by volunteers. When the process is highly mechanized, run by employees who are there just to collect a pay check, not out of a desire to do good, I think there ends up being real problems. Government bureaucrats often compound the problem, not solve it.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Reducing poverty (none / 0) (#298)
by kamil on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 01:12:37 AM EST

The greatest reduction in poverty is elimination of zoning and over restrictive building codes.

There used to be boarding houses and cheap affordable if small and unpleasant high density housing. The reason it is gone is that current home owners (voters) wish for the value of their housing to go up and want to discourage poor people moving in near them as that reduces property values. Poor people are only potential voters, and get screwed by municipal regulations. Housing takes up a much to large portion of income especially when one knows how to cook and live cheaply.

The other suggestion I have is that education curriculums should be cut into smaller units then grades by subject matter, and vouchers should be instituted with centralized testing.
High school level courses should be free to anyone of any age, college level progressively more paid by the student.

Each school private or public would have to compete for vouchers, this would result in higher quality education as well as one which working people could schedule around work, as schools begin to compete. There would also appear programs that take a long time and short time fast track programs for quick studies.

The idea is to make schooling like Evercrack addictive with positive incremental rewards. A lot of though went into designing MMORPGs to be addictive could we not design learning to be so.

Kamil


LVL 6 IT ADMIN LF PL GROUP! PST! (none / 0) (#323)
by sticky on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 09:17:16 PM EST

nt


Don't eat the shrimp.---God
[ Parent ]
Please don't talk with your mouth full. (none / 0) (#359)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Dec 24, 2004 at 11:44:17 AM EST

Vanna, I'd like to buy a vowel.

RUN !! IT?S AN ATTACK OF THE ?WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS? NAZIS!!!! - Brian Crouch
[ Parent ]
Oh, god... a Libertarian. (none / 0) (#366)
by riboflabhabin on Sat Dec 25, 2004 at 04:30:14 PM EST

:The greatest reduction in poverty is elimination of :zoning and over restrictive building codes. Right. That way, all the poor people can either be taken advantage of by crooked landlords or catch on fire because the buildings they are in don't have to follow saftey guidelines. It sounds like you're suggesting that we simply kill the poor as a solution to poverty... There is a reason why we have the zoning regulations and "restrictive building codes" that we have. It because at one time, when we lacked such regulation, people were exploited.

"Civilization is a youth with a Molotov cocktail in his hand. Culture is the Soviet tank or L.A. cop that guns him down." -Edward Abbey, "Desert Solitaire", In Civilization.
[ Parent ]
a solution to poverty is.. (none / 1) (#315)
by metagone on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 02:19:14 PM EST

not to encourage it at any level. from the uneducated to the educated and the rich to the poor, people need to be taught a fundamental thing: live with as little debt as possible. debt encourages depravity which leads to poverty.
.
Debt is not an inherently bad thing. (none / 1) (#322)
by skyknight on Sun Dec 19, 2004 at 08:40:29 PM EST

What is stupid is to take on large amounts of debt for consumer items. Debt for investment is often wise, whether it be for a home or an education. There is a world of difference between taking out a loan to go to college, and taking out a loan to get a wide screen TV.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
and how many people actually understand even this? (none / 0) (#347)
by metagone on Mon Dec 20, 2004 at 01:32:03 PM EST


.
[ Parent ]
Yeah, but pushing debt on low-income consumers (none / 0) (#358)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Dec 24, 2004 at 11:42:12 AM EST

in order to collect late fees certainly is.

RUN !! IT?S AN ATTACK OF THE ?WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS? NAZIS!!!! - Brian Crouch
[ Parent ]
*sigh* (none / 1) (#360)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 24, 2004 at 11:47:50 AM EST

I find the financial industry to be incredibly depressing. Banks generate some ridiculous fraction of their revenues from charging customers overdraft fees. I don't recall the number off the top of my head, but it's on the order of a half of their revenues. Also, the absolute avalanche of credit card offers in the mail boxes of people is madness. I think of the credit card industry as being an integral component of the modernized institution of slavery. Sure, it's opt-in slavery, so nobody is getting Shanghaied and dragged off involuntarily, but still it's a really pernicious and ugly system all the same.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Did you ever read 'The Diamond Age'? (none / 0) (#364)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Dec 24, 2004 at 11:52:32 AM EST

There's a beautiful scene where a loan officer explains to a customer what kind of debt prisons his bank uses.

Yeah, I understand the value of debt but the credit card companies seem to be run by Vinnie the Loanshark.

RUN !! IT?S AN ATTACK OF THE ?WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS? NAZIS!!!! - Brian Crouch
[ Parent ]

Yes, Diamond Age is a great book... (none / 0) (#365)
by skyknight on Fri Dec 24, 2004 at 12:01:24 PM EST

in which Stephenson makes myriad prescient and disturbing observations. My memory, however, is somewhat fuzzy on that scene, though I seem to vaguely remember it being discomfiting.

It's pretty clear to me that credit card companies have no interest in whether a given client is going to be able to repay their debts. They could not care less. They are just playing the numbers and trying to maximize their profits, no matter how heavy the human cost. Really, though, if they didn't do it then someone else would. There is, alas, an equilibrium to be maintained. There will always be short-sighted people who dig their own graves financially and on whom a handy profit can be made. It's sad, but it's reality. To a large extent, it's what keeps our economy turning. People bury themselves in debt for things that on the whole they really don't need, and then work their whole lives at jobs they hate to service the debt. So it goes.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Welfare Reform and Education | 367 comments (351 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
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