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Author Topic: A strange lead
Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by G2:
You think you're giving them freedom? That is funny.

So no real retort, just vague attacks.

Yes, absolutely. The idea is to give people the freedom that civilization exists to create in the first place.

quote:
Now you're switching it up to talk about biological necessity. The necessity to eat is not the same thing as the necessity to take from 49% to feed the rest so that the mob is dependent on you and your largess for that necessity. It's all about control.


Interdependence is the foundation of civilization. There's no change in context there. And you don't make any logical connection to how making sure a person can afford to feed themselves translates into preventing them from working for profit beyond that baseline.

On the other hand, if a person is starving, not only are they less able to work, but what they can earn first has to go to feeding themselves rather than being able to be reserved as profit to invest in future growth or assets.

quote:
I hope you keep saying that when I'm out of a job and you have to pay for my healthcare, food, clothing, shelter, etc. And you know what, that will be even funnier.
Hey, if that's all you want out of life, at least you're not taking a job away from someone who wants to be able to afford more than the baseline.
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by Greg Davidson:
It turns out that cheating on taxes was not correlated with fear of being caught, it was correlated with how much people believed that cheating was acceptable and how many others were cheating.

This sounds perfectly reasonable. Most people are going to follow the crowd. If you know someone that is cheating on their taxes or just not paying any you will personally feel that you are being taken advantage of if you pay your taxes, so you will use this as an excuse to cheat. If this becomes prevalent the entire populace will be cheating on taxes in one form or another and the listed tax rates won't resemble the real tax rates to any significant degree.

quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
Modern technology has increased personal productivity to the point where what used to be a minor concern has become completely trivial- all it means is that there's far more profit available to be made by those that are willing to do the work to provide for them.

While true in a very narrow sense, in the larger sense this is complete bunk! The US economy is 76.9% a service economy. It's not like the US decides to set the poverty level at a 1945 level of goods and never advances it. Most poor in this country have cell phones, cars and color TV with cable. That's well above the average middle class family from the 1940's and probably above the average middle class family from the 1960's.

quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
But on the whole, they're irrelevant- a healthy economy supports them without effort, but in a poor economy they serve as an easy scapegoat given people a moral high from blaming them rather than addressing the real causes of the weakness.

Look at Greg's comments above. It's not that the economy can't support a large class on the dole, it's that the productive class won't tolerate it! In effect they are cheating on their taxes by not contributing anything to the system. So the productive citizens who are contributing either find ways around paying taxes or start voting in politicians that won't casually give their money to others who don't contribute. All the wishful thinking in the world is not going to change the nature of the American electorate.
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Gaoics79
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quote:
But on the whole, they're irrelevant- a healthy economy supports them without effort, but in a poor economy they serve as an easy scapegoat given people a moral high from blaming them rather than addressing the real causes of the weakness.
Although I tend to agree with your assertion vis a vis the American economy at present, I dispute the implication that such people are always going to be "irrelevant" as you say. Greece serves as a good cautionary example of what happens when tax evasion and cheating the system becomes mainstream and endemic to the larger population.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
While true in a very narrow sense, in the larger sense this is complete bunk! The US economy is 76.9% a service economy. It's not like the US decides to set the poverty level at a 1945 level of goods and never advances it. Most poor in this country have cell phones, cars and color TV with cable. That's well above the average middle class family from the 1940's and probably above the average middle class family from the 1960's.



That's supports the overall point. 76% service, and that number is growing as the amount any given person can produce relegates the amount of production to a smaller and smaller slice of the economy, while everyone else who wants a job needs to find a way to keep money shuffling around the service sector.

They can eat oranges every day too. 100 years ago, an orange would be a special treat, now everyone can afford one. That's not a sign of increased wealth; it's a sign that the value of an orange has dropped to a trivial amount. Poorer people have access to such things because the advancement of technology has lowered their overall value- it costs less to produce them and takes fewer people to do so. The amount of effort that it took one person to make one telephone in 1940 could produce 100 cellphones today (and that's probably low-balling it), just as the cost of cellphone service has dropped so that it's lower than standard service, and requires a far fewer people to maintain than an even remotely comparable level of service used to.


quote:
Look at Greg's comments above. It's not that the economy can't support a large class on the dole, it's that the productive class won't tolerate it! In effect they are cheating on their taxes by not contributing anything to the system. So the productive citizens who are contributing either find ways around paying taxes or start voting in politicians that won't casually give their money to others who don't contribute. All the wishful thinking in the world is not going to change the nature of the American electorate.
They're cheating on their taxes by.. lining the pockets of suppliers with extra revenue? The moral outrage aspect of it that you describe does certainly exist- it's been cultivated over a long time specifically as a tool to gain political power (as per the Southern Strategy) or just to maintain control of wealth (like the Mercantile corporations that Adam Smith called out). In either case there's no actual substance behind it, and it only serves to rot an economy's foundations by forcing a segment of it to live in constant debt to survive and helping to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of the debt holders.

(Especially because most of the producers are paying little to none of the cost themselves but are getting a significant portion of the benefits, especially in the form of increased customer revenues to their companies that should translate to higher wages.)

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
quote:
But on the whole, they're irrelevant- a healthy economy supports them without effort, but in a poor economy they serve as an easy scapegoat given people a moral high from blaming them rather than addressing the real causes of the weakness.
Although I tend to agree with your assertion vis a vis the American economy at present, I dispute the implication that such people are always going to be "irrelevant" as you say. Greece serves as a good cautionary example of what happens when tax evasion and cheating the system becomes mainstream and endemic to the larger population.
Better to say, when such is more profitable than trying to produce something. The more interesting impact to watch for is what happens to the countries that used to make money off of Greece's spending and how well they can weather the loss of a that part of their customer base. Those are the countries that should be first in line to help Greece out of its tight spot, since they're going to suffer by association.
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
It's not that the economy can't support a large class on the dole, it's that the productive class won't tolerate it! In effect they are cheating on their taxes by not contributing anything to the system.
The moral outrage aspect of it that you describe does certainly exist- it's been cultivated over a long time specifically as a tool to gain political power (as per the Southern Strategy) or just to maintain control of wealth (like the Mercantile corporations that Adam Smith called out). In either case there's no actual substance behind it, and it only serves to rot an economy's foundations by forcing a segment of it to live in constant debt to survive and helping to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of the debt holders.

So your explanation for the moral outrage that productive citizens feel over those who aren't is propaganda "cultivated over a long time specifically as a tool to gain political power". [Confused]

I assume that's the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy at work? Or more likely your refusal to face unpalatable facts.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
But this proportion must in every nation be regulated by two different circumstances; first by the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which its labour is generally applied;*4 and, secondly, by the proportion between the number of those who are employed in useful labour, and that of those who are not so employed.*5 Whatever be the soil, climate, or extent of territory of any particular nation, the abundance or scantiness of its annual supply must, in that particular situation, depend upon those two circumstances.

I.I.4
The abundance or scantiness of this supply too seems to depend more upon the former of those two circumstances than upon the latter. Among the savage nations of hunters and fishers, every individual who is able to work, is more or less employed in useful labour, and endeavours to provide, as well as he can, the necessaries and conveniencies of life, for himself, or*6 such of his family or tribe as are either too old, or too young, or too infirm to go a hunting and fishing. Such nations, however, are so miserably poor, that from mere want, they are frequently reduced, or, at least, think themselves reduced, to the necessity sometimes of directly destroying, and sometimes of abandoning their infants, their old people, and those afflicted with lingering diseases, to perish with hunger, or to be devoured by wild beasts. Among civilized and thriving nations, on the contrary, though a great number of people do not labour at all, many of whom consume the produce of ten times, frequently of a hundred times more labour than the greater part of those who work; yet the produce of the whole labour of the society is so great, that all are often abundantly supplied, and a workman, even of the lowest and poorest order, if he is frugal and industrious, may enjoy a greater share of the necessaries and conveniencies of life than it is possible for any savage to acquire.

Adam Smith pegged the basic phenomenon almost two and a half centuries ago. And there's no need to appeal to conspiracy when the such appeals are made openly- from the Robber Barons using them to help block labor laws to the Southern Strategy, to Regan's "welfare queens" to populist politicians today on any number of issues. Exploiting such outrage is easy, and doesn't require any reference to the actual facts that undercut it.
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JWatts
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Ahh, then we're in agreement that un-productive people are a drain on the economy. Productive behavior should be incentivised and un-productive behavior discouraged.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Ahh, then we're in agreement that un-productive people are a drain on the economy. Productive behavior should be incentivised and un-productive behavior discouraged.
Who gets to decide what constitutes productive behavior? Is ballet dancing productive?

Personally, I don't think public welfare funds should be used to coerce behavior at all, precisely for the reason alluded to in my previous sentence.

[ July 13, 2010, 10:11 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Greg Davidson
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There is a strong leftist thread in Pyrtolin's quote of Adam Smith:

quote:
though a great number of people do not labour at all, many of whom consume the produce of ten times, frequently of a hundred times more labour than the greater part of those who work
He was talking about the wealthy; essentially the subset of those who owned capital who earned income by "renting" the right to use their capital for productive purposes. Thus, those who own land, factories, or just plain wealth are considered unproductive unless they are actively working as entrepreneurs, and then their productivity is only in proportion to their labor (not to the earnings that accrue based on the use of their wealth).

So to Smith, the idle rich are equivalent to those who live on public handouts, both are consuming that which they did not produce.

edit: Let me add, I also think that Smith may be going too far. But this adds necessary complexity to the debate - Adam Smith, one of the patron saints of the Reagan Revolution, actually wrote several things in the Wealth of Nations that could be mistaken for the writings of Karl Marx.

[ July 13, 2010, 10:54 PM: Message edited by: Greg Davidson ]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
Ahh, then we're in agreement that un-productive people are a drain on the economy. Productive behavior should be incentivised and un-productive behavior discouraged.

No- it solidly stands that unproductive people are, pretty much by definition, economically neutral on their own. If they're given funding to support themselves, then they become economically positive, because they spend that money to support themselves; if they're not given funding, then they become economic drags because then those that don't resort to theft find their way to attach themselves as significant burdens to whatever individuals they can convince to support them. Distribute that cost and it becomes inconsequential.

Economic health lies almost entirely in ensuring that anyone who wants to be productive has access to the resources necessary to be productive and in ensuring that they have the proper education and training to maximize their productivity. Unproductive people are just people that aren't competing for market share.

Productivity should absolutely be incentivized; but to do that effectively you need to make sure that everyone has access to enough money to vote on how that incentive is rewarded.

Disincentives, though, only work in terms of optional activities, not issues of survival. People will forgo cigarettes if you put enough price disincentive on them to act against addiction. They will not forgo food because they don't have enough money to pay for it, and the energy that they expend in doing so actively takes away from what could be used productively.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by Greg Davidson:
edit: Let me add, I also think that Smith may be going too far. But this adds necessary complexity to the debate - Adam Smith, one of the patron saints of the Reagan Revolution, actually wrote several things in the Wealth of Nations that could be mistaken for the writings of Karl Marx.

That's actually backwards- Marx drew from Smith in his writings; there's no accident in the similarities. But he tried to leave behind essential elements- particularly where the making it possible for people to attain wealth as a reward for labor- is essential as a force to motivate people to achieve more than the minimum, and he advocated violently rebelling against the system rather than simply reforming it and allowing it to self correct.

Essentially, Smith points out the ongoing class war and says that it needs to stopped with reforms that empower laborers to actually profit from their work, and Marx's reply was that the business owners would never actually let that happen, so forcefully taking power was the only way to go.

A lot of what is called capitalism by its supporters these days, is pretty much the other half of what Smith advocated- almost as if, in reaction to Marx, people threw out everything that Marx emphasized and tried to keep the rest. Unfortunately, at that point, what's left isn't far removed from the mercantile system that Smith was trying to reform in the first place. It's not at all surprising that only mixed economies are viable- putting socialism and capitalism back together are really just uniting the two broken halves of the original philosophy from which they were drawn.

On the relevant issues- the most simple point that he makes is this: the reward for labor should be capital that the worker can use directly to acquire wealth or use to invest in their own capital projects to gain future returns. (Money is not wealth- it's only proper function is to serve as a medium to be spent or invested)

He also very explicitly makes the qualification that struggling to meet basic needs actively prevents wages from being used as capital, and thus community effort needs to be made to correct that issue.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
Who gets to decide what constitutes productive behavior? Is ballet dancing productive?
I don't know, does the ballet dancer entertain and stimulate thousands of people or gain prestiege for America on the world stage? Does the ballet dancer earn money for an employer? In short, does the ballet dancer enrich anyone's life but his/her own, in monetary terms or otherwise?

Most people would agree that a ballet dancer that does not meet any of the above criteria, is not productive. And if said ballet dancer (the one who does nothing to entertain, enrich, or otherwise improve our collective existence) were to be living off welfare, most people would call that sponging.

So in answer to your question, we all get to decide who is "productive" and who isn't.

quote:
Personally, I don't think public welfare funds should be used to coerce behavior at all, precisely for the reason alluded to in my previous sentence.
And that's where your opinion probably stands as an outlier. I think most of us would think it fair that a public welfare system should, at the very least, "coerce" the kind of behaviour that will lead the recipient to maximum self-sufficiency and independance as soon as possible.
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Pyrtolin
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So how is the ballet dancer supposed to get access to the dedicated time and resources required to train to be a more productive ballet dancer if that have to struggle to work instead?

Even if no one every opts to reward the dancer with money, then the dancer has at least served to put money in the hands of farmers that grew the food the dancer ate, into the hands of landlords for apartments, into the hands of various utility companies, and into those of ballet dancers whose production has been implicitly rendered more valuable. Paying the dancer's baseline needs ends up contributing to the income of several dozen people, even if the dancer never manages to earn anything above that baseline that could be spent or invested on further economic growth.

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The Drake
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Interesting that talk has turned to welfare. So then, extending welfare benefits rather than unemployment makes sense, yes? And to qualify for this social safety net, does it not also make sense that one should have to return the wealth that they accumulated in better times before drawing upon public funds?

Unemployment is supposed to bridge a gap between jobs to prevent disruption to the economy and even encourage the consumer to become more highly leveraged with nothing in reserve. Once you are over 52 weeks, I think you've stopped being unemployed and have entered the realm of unemployable. Time to burn the savings and become a charge of society.

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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
So how is the ballet dancer supposed to get access to the dedicated time and resources required to train to be a more productive ballet dancer if that have to struggle to work instead?

Maybe, the same way I got my engineering degree. Relocating to an affordable school and working 30 hours a week on weekends to support herself. Picking up the available grants and taking the very minimum loans necessary. It worked for me, it will work for her.

And the last time I checked, ballet dancers don't have to spend $200 a semester on books.

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TomDavidson
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I don't mean to make a big deal of this, but most dance students I know spend well more than $200 a term on course materials. [Smile]
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
So then, extending welfare benefits rather than unemployment makes sense, yes? And to qualify for this social safety net, does it not also make sense that one should have to return the wealth that they accumulated in better times before drawing upon public funds?
Not even remotely- that's the kind of attitude that turns such support into a trap instead. The entire idea is to eliminate poverty, not force people into it.
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Pyrtolin
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http://books.google.com/books?id=qg61T_I1mwsC&lpg=PP1&ots=3bhlBdOO_C&dq=road%20to%20serfdom&pg=PA148#v=onepage&q&f=false

To add to this, this is a good section from Hayek's The Road to Serfdom (So not exactly a remotely liberal economist) which notes (if you scroll up to the previous page) first, that lack of basic security is a critical threat to freedom (because of the actions that striving for it will drive people to) and then that there is no good reason for the state to not ensure a minimum standard of living that keeps people well enough to work and for it to provide general insurance against common life issues that are difficult to predict and prepare for on the individual level.

The link above is to the full version, the quote below is from the condensed version, since that one allows for copying:

quote:

Like the spurious ‘economic freedom’, and with more justice, economic security is often represented as an indispensable condition of real liberty.In a sense this is both true and important.Independence of mind or strength of character is rarely found among those who cannot be confident that they will make their way by their own effort. But there are two kinds of security: the certainty of a given minimum of sustenance for all and the security of a given standard of life, of the relative position which one person or group enjoys compared with others.

There is no reason why, in a society which has reached the general level of wealth ours has, the first kind of security should not be guaranteed to all without endangering general freedom; that is: some minimum of food, shelter and clothing, sufficient to preserve health. Nor is there any reason why the state should not help to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance in providing for those common hazards of life against which few can make adequate provision.


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JWatts
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quote:
some minimum of food, shelter and clothing, sufficient to preserve health.
I don't really oppose this. With minimum being defined as less than what an individual would get working at minimum wage.
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The Drake
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I agree with your quote. I'm not some crazed anarcho-capitalist.

A minimum standard of living can be guaranteed, as well as protection against life's ills.

X calories a day
Y square feet of livable space
Z dollars for transportation and other

But why should we do this in such a way to preserve someone's savings? The idea is to support the impoverished, not to eliminate poverty.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
quote:
some minimum of food, shelter and clothing, sufficient to preserve health.
I don't really oppose this. With minimum being defined as less than what an individual would get working at minimum wage.
Minimum wage should be eliminated in favor of a minimum income at 150% of the poverty line.
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Pyrtolin
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(To note- that actually does align with what minimum wage work would provide, but it also scales automatically to both family size and inflation)
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
But why should we do this in such a way to preserve someone's savings? The idea is to support the impoverished, not to eliminate poverty.

Poverty renders people unable to work effectively. The elimination of poverty is part of the fundamental point of civilization in the first place.

And why does current misfortune overwhelm and completely erase all of a person's past contributions, never mind justify actively handicapping their ability to recover?

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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
quote:
some minimum of food, shelter and clothing, sufficient to preserve health.
I don't really oppose this. With minimum being defined as less than what an individual would get working at minimum wage.
Minimum wage should be eliminated in favor of a minimum income at 150% of the poverty line.
JWatts, anytime you think you're dealing with a rational person, come back to this comment. The fundamental misunderstanding of economics that this represents tells you all you need to know.
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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
And why does current misfortune overwhelm and completely erase all of a person's past contributions, never mind justify actively handicapping their ability to recover?

I can't imagine anything handicapping a person's ability to recover more than removing any consequences for remaining out of work.

Own your home outright? Stay on the dole, and retire early....

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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
I can't imagine anything handicapping a person's ability to recover more than removing any consequences for remaining out of work.

Own your home outright? Stay on the dole, and retire early....

You left out something:

Own your home outright? Stay on the dole, and retire early.... and vote progressive!

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Michelle
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quote:
Poverty renders people unable to work effectively. The elimination of poverty is part of the fundamental point of civilization in the first place.
I disagree with this statement. Survival is the fundamental point of civilization. Survival is also the fundamental point of interdependency. Biologically we are programmed to survive. Some of us believe we have a better chance of survival in smaller groups or even on our own. Some, like you think the village is necessary. Get everyone working in this direction, or in that direction. There is no right or wrong. It is all a matter of belief systems. When your fundamental beliefs come in conflict with my fundamental beliefs of what will give me, (or us) a greater chance of survival, then there is division.

However, when I look at bees, ants, and locusts' collective numbers, seeing...that when the hive, colony or swarm grows too big -- their chances of survival are diminished.

It isn't that these massive social programs are wrong, they are just counter-productive for a civilization to survive. The government has taken on the responsibility of too much, and has grown too big to be effective -- we are going to end up 'eating our own'.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
And why does current misfortune overwhelm and completely erase all of a person's past contributions, never mind justify actively handicapping their ability to recover?

I can't imagine anything handicapping a person's ability to recover more than removing any consequences for remaining out of work.

So taking away resources that they could have otherwise used to support their own enterprises is preferable to allowing the to enjoy the benefits of what they have already managed to earn, particularly the leg up it gives them in freeing them to choose for themselves how to contribute to society?

Better to force them to live in a slum and work at McDonald's than to allow them to use the resources that they've acquired to innovate?

quote:
Own your home outright? Stay on the dole, and retire early....
If they've contributed enough labor to get that far already, why not? There are more valuable things that they could be devoting that time to, be it parenting, pursuit of the arts, or what have you. In the meantime, they're still spending money to feed themselves and creating plenty of opportunities for others to do wage-based labor.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
However, when I look at bees, ants, and locusts' collective numbers, seeing...that when the hive, colony or swarm grows too big -- their chances of survival are diminished.
And yet, it's desperation to survive that causes such overpopulation, and over-production that enables it until it hits the point where resources are stretched to thin and the structure collapses.

As wealth and security increase, birth rate declines; there's less desperation to produce enough children to support you in the future and more direct care about ensuring personal sustainability and investment. People are only future oriented if they feel that they feel that they have a future worth protecting.

And more to the point- poverty is explicitly not survival. It may not be necessarily be fast, but it is a negative feedback loop below the point where long term survival is possible; it breeds desperation pretty well, but nothing productive.

[ July 14, 2010, 11:09 PM: Message edited by: Pyrtolin ]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by G2:
JWatts, anytime you think you're dealing with a rational person, come back to this comment. The fundamental misunderstanding of economics that this represents tells you all you need to know.

And you're back to personal attacks instead of trying to address the actual points.

The implicit idea that you suggest that some people must starve for others to prosper is complete bunk. We can easily produce enough to ensure that everyone has the essential baseline required to be able to prosper, and it's impossible to reach optimal economic function until that baseline is ensured. If some people squander it, it's their loss at the gain of everyone else in the system.

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Originally posted by G2:
JWatts, anytime you think you're dealing with a rational person, come back to this comment. The fundamental misunderstanding of economics that this represents tells you all you need to know.

And you're back to personal attacks instead of trying to address the actual points.
If you want to take that as a personal attack you can, I don't care, but that's not what I intended it to be. It does exemplify a vary basic misunderstanding of the way things work.

quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
The implicit idea that you suggest that some people must starve for others to prosper is complete bunk. We can easily produce enough to ensure that everyone has the essential baseline required to be able to prosper, and it's impossible to reach optimal economic function until that baseline is ensured. If some people squander it, it's their loss at the gain of everyone else in the system.

The implicit idea that you suggest that for some people to prosper others must starve is complete bunk.

You want people at 150% of the poverty level for minimum wage. Why do you stop there? Why not 200%? Why not 500%? What are you basing this artificial 150% on?

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Al Wessex
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==>"It isn't that these massive social programs are wrong, they are just counter-productive for a civilization to survive. The government has taken on the responsibility of too much, and has grown too big to be effective -- we are going to end up 'eating our own'. "

That makes sense, but for it to be right the meaning of "civilization" has to be very simple. However, we live in a complex society where the various elements of the economic model are very highly coupled to each other.

For instance, I will argue that this is a consumer model more than a capitalist one. In order for us to maintain full employment we have to consume goods and services at a rate that matches a rough approximation of their overall production. Per capita (worker) production is a function of the number of workers * their productivity / overall production.

In other words, if we pump out 1 unit of goods/services, somebody has to buy the 1 unit at the cost of production or higher, or else we don't need the worker who produced it. With any level of unemployment, everyone else has to pitch in and buy what the unemployed people aren't buying. Now that unemployment is very high, the rest of us have to buy even more. Worse, we have to buy more at an accelerating rate in order to compensate for the constant increase in worker productivity.

If private sector consumers (aka people) don't have the capital to do that, our "civilization" requires the public sector (aka government) to step in or the economy will begin an inexorable slide toward dysfunction and eventual chaos. If the government pumps too much money into the consumer space, then we face the risk of government insolvency, also not good.

Right now the experts are betting (hoping as much as predicting) that a lot of government spending is required. The debate among them is how much is going to be enough. They're not worried about how much is too much, and understand that the problem of compensating for the debt we create now will have to be addressed later. People who are worrying loudly about the spending are the ones who don't want the government to help at all. They are increasing the odds that things ultimately will fall apart, and they think that will be a good thing. They imagine that after that happens they can pick up the pieces and build a better version of what we already have now. What they fail to consider is that they are also part of the problem, not just the "architects" of the solution.

In other words, if government gets out of our private business it will fail in its purpose, and the illusion of a happy country ruled with a light hand will never come about, but chaos will. That would be the real end of our civilization.

[ July 15, 2010, 10:40 AM: Message edited by: Al Wessex ]

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The Drake
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If everybody got 150% of the poverty level, 150% would be the new 100%. Witness US vs other nations. Our minimum wage worker has clean water, can feed themselves, and rent a room. Yet we call them poverty stricken.
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
If everybody got 150% of the poverty level, 150% would be the new 100%.

Indeed, which I believe was G2's point. Saying everyone should get income of 150% of the Poverty point is just re-norming the system.

quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
Witness US vs other nations. Our minimum wage worker has clean water, can feed themselves, and rent a room. Yet we call them poverty stricken.

And cell phones, cars, cable TV, game consoles, etc.
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LetterRip
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Some 'luxuries' have become quite cheap (I can get a TV, cell phone, microwave, and game console for close to nothing or even free), some are essentially mandatory (in most of the US getting a job without a phone and car is about impossible - also cell phone contracts are as low as 7$ per month, and a running car for less than a months rent), even mandatory as part of the purchase of a neccessity (there aren't many apartments that are leased without basic cable included in the base price) , while some neccessities are quite expensive, even dwarfing other expenses.

It used to be pretty much everyone could afford the neccessities - food, rent, medical care - but luxuries were expensive. Now many items that are luxuries are essentially free, but rent as a percentage of income and health care costs have sky rocketed.

Poverty with basic infrastructure and a strong manufacturing base looks different than poverty with poor infrastructure and non existent manufacturing base.

Personally instead of raising poverty, I'd prefer universal health care that provides the vast majority of essential care. Something comparible to scandinavian countries. A 'must work' if offered work similar to many scandinavian countries.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
in most of the US getting a job without a phone and car is about impossible
I'm not sure I believe this, and not merely because I happen to be one of those individuals who has no car or license, and yet is gainfully employed. Agreed there are some specific occupations that require one to own a car, but I think it's an overstatement to say that it's always mandatory. And ditto for the phone. In fact, I don't see why one would need a phone to become employed, unless one was working from home.

quote:
even mandatory as part of the purchase of a neccessity (there aren't many apartments that are leased without basic cable included in the base price)
I don't know what things are like where you live, but in my City, most apartments do not include basic cable. You pay for it just like you pay for your phone bill or your internet.
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LetterRip
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jasonr,

where do you live? In some big cities in the US public transport is reasonable enough that you can live without a car, that doesn't describe like 90-95% of the US. Honolulu and Phoenix you could sorta get by without one, probably NYC and a handful of other big cities.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._cities_with_high_transit_ridership

In most of the US a car is needed to get to and from work. In most of the US you require a phone to be contacted by potential employers, by employment agencies, to communicate with work in general.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
If everybody got 150% of the poverty level, 150% would be the new 100%. Witness US vs other nations. Our minimum wage worker has clean water, can feed themselves, and rent a room. Yet we call them poverty stricken.

That doesn't logically work- how exactly does the having more money than the base cost of living make the base cost of living go up?

The poverty line isn't a relative wealth value, it's a straight sum of the costs of living. Unless there's a shortage of food, giving someone enough money to buy food doesn't change the price of food.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by G2:
You want people at 150% of the poverty level for minimum wage. Why do you stop there? Why not 200%? Why not 500%? What are you basing this artificial 150% on?

100% would leave them perfectly on the balance between meeting the cost of living and not, no room for error or irregular urgent expenses (accident damages, appliance failures, etc...), but more importantly it provides no baseline access to capital.

150% leave a little room for normal fluctuations, but more importantly, grants a small amount of capital stock to invest. Will man squander it on a slight improvement in their quality of life? Sure. No real loss, since that puts other people to work. But it will open up the option to the rest to either invest that little bit either in someone else's endeavors or in training or materials for their own enterprises and offer them a real chance to become economically independent actors.

On the other hand, 150% of poverty is not so high that it even begins to offer anything resembling luxury, so it leaves plenty of motivation to do more than coast along at the minimum line.

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