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Sequestration Shrinks Unemployment Benefits For 400,000 Californians

Federal unemployment benefits for more than 400,000 Californians are being reduced starting today, due to federal sequestration spending cuts.

Unemployed residents will receive an average of $52 less per week on their long-term benefits, which begin after week 26 of being unemployed.

President Obama criticized lawmakers in his weekend radio and internet address for helping the FAA but not federal employees, unemployed workers, seniors on Meals On Wheels and preschoolers in Head Start.

Air traffic controllers returned to work on Sunday after lawmakers rushed a bill through Congress to end sequester flight delays. But Obama warned the fix is a temporary Band-Aid.

“Maybe because they fly home each weekend, the members of Congress who insisted these cuts take hold finally realized that they actually apply to them, too,” Obama said.

The White House says the next cuts will impact the most vulnerable, including 70,000 children who get meals through the Head Start programs and nutrition programs for seniors and low-income women.

The federal government is scheduled to enact $85 billion in cuts across the nation.

Comments

Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | April 29, 2013 at 8:23 a.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

In this day, there is no reason... none... that an able-bodied person should be unemployed for over 26 weeks. I am starting to think I should try to get laid off so I can lounge around on the taxpayers dollar. It seems like the less effort you put into your life, the more rewards this government wants to dole out.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | April 29, 2013 at 8:26 a.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

What a disgrace ! This starts the same day that it was announced that millions of dollars were sent to Afghanistan that disappeared. Folks, the only thing that can fix Congess is a national taxpayer strike or a revolution. They have no concern for the people of this country or what we want done with our tax money.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | April 29, 2013 at 8:43 a.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Jean, I give you a 50/50. I agree that there is a group of people who lounge around on the taxpayer's dollar. In my opinion, the "welfare crowd" gets way too many benefits. Last night, I saw something about food stamps for pets. Just when you think it is not crazy enough. They get housing aid, food stamps, ADC, help with energy bills and whatever they can get from local charities.
I disagree with your comments on the unemployed. There are many reasons it takes time to find employment these days. To say people have "no reason" is unfair. Sure, there are people who will take advantage of a situation, but most of these folks are trying to find ways to use their skills. Problem is, many jobs today are not advertised. They are filled through networking.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | April 29, 2013 at 10:05 a.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

John Markkk, tell that to the employer who does not hire someone because they are overqualified, underqualified or simply "does not like" the person at the interview.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | April 29, 2013 at 10:07 a.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Oh, and FYI, John Mark, seasonal workers are able to QUALIFY for unemployment benefits too.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | April 29, 2013 at 10:44 a.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I'll just say this. If I wanted to find a job, I could. I don't think fast food, construction, retail, or trade unions hire through networking. The problem is people incorrectly believe that their labor is worth more than what people are willing to pay for it.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | April 29, 2013 at 12:03 p.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

The US government has NO mandate to provide unemployment benefits. Zero.

It is a matter for each state to decide what benefits to provide to their own citizens.

Sequestration is a measly 2% reduction.

$3.5 Trillion (with a T) in spending adding to the $16.8 Trillion (with a T) federal debt. $85 billion is pocket change.

This is all just a political game played by Obama and Congress, except the rules state the US government can't lose and the American people can't win.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | April 29, 2013 at 3:42 p.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

If the government stopped giving out so much money, the left would lose 90% of their voters.

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Avatar for user 'RichardRider'

RichardRider | April 29, 2013 at 4:09 p.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Pay people to be unemployed, and you'll get more unemployment. It's amazing how many people find a job (often not their IDEAL job) the day their unemployment runs out.

And let's not forget the folks working "off the books" in the underground economy. For them, reporting their income often is the same has having a 100% income tax bracket. So they have a strong incentive to not work for a conventional salary.

Unemployment in several states is under 5%, but paying people not to work reduces labor mobility. No one should be surprised.

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Avatar for user 'RichardRider'

RichardRider | April 29, 2013 at 4:16 p.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

According to this link, the current maximum time one receives unemployment benefits is 73 weeks. That's one year, five months!

People sometimes say that government doesn't work. But it does. Pay people not to work, and too many will choose remain unemployed.

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Avatar for user 'RichardRider'

RichardRider | April 29, 2013 at 4:36 p.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

OOPS. Didn't add the link mentioned above. Sorry.
http://www.edd.ca.gov/unemployment/Federal_Unemployment_Insurance_Extensions.htm

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | April 30, 2013 at 8:29 a.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

John Markkk, what labor? We are in a service/communications economy now. We get paid for OUR TIME; not for what we are "producing." Wea re not producing anything really--or a minority of the labor force are. Again, going back to Marx and Engels which are still relevant.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | April 30, 2013 at 8:50 a.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

You WOULD cite Marx, wouldn't you. Obama and the left march under the Marxist banner leading the USA to a bright socialist future!

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | April 30, 2013 at 9:54 a.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Once again, I say many of the folks on unemployment are not the problem that welfare is. You people can debate too many weeks, number of jobs available and types of jobs all day. However, these unemployed people, by definition, were working. There are multi-generations of welfare families that are far more fatal to our economy. They have far more benefits given to them than the unemployed get, yet no outcry for reform.

I guess we have been brainwashed into thinking there is no answer to the welfare situation.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | April 30, 2013 at 10:26 a.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

MP1, are you really unaware of the outcry for welfare reform?
There have been many answers to the welfare situation proposed in discussions on these boards.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | April 30, 2013 at 11:20 a.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I think unemployment benefits should decrease every single week for everyone. That will motivate people to look for work.

I have been personally acquainted with several people throughout my life who treated their unemployment status as a vacation. They would fill out their form saying they were looking for a job even though they weren't. They did not begin to look for work until they only had a few weeks of unemployment left.

I think a lot of people, including me, would rather sit on unemployment than work 8 hours a day for minimum wage. If that is the case, something is wrong. Unemployment should not be a better choice than working.

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | April 30, 2013 at 11:22 a.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Why do you people fight over things like social welfare? You do realize unemployment is a self-funded insurance, right? You do realize welfare is temporary and has to be repaid, right?

You have to think about long-term solutions to complex issues like social programs. We don't want to provide an incentive to turn the safety net into a hammock. But, we can't get rid of the net altogether. It provides a real safety and service to people trying to pick themselves up by their bootstraps.

You want to go after the REAL welfare problem?
http://thinkbynumbers.org/government-spending/corporate-welfare/corporate-welfare-statistics-vs-social-welfare-statistics/

Things like payroll tax caps, capital gains being taxed at 15% (approximately half the rate traditional income [labor] is taxed at), carried interest, incentives to defer profits offshore to avoid taxes, and being "emergency" loans at artificially low rates (bailout) are ALL forms of welfare, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.

Or you can keep fighting your neighbors over scraps while ignoring the true enemy.

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | April 30, 2013 at 11:28 a.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Here's a link for those of us who don't want to see this country become socialist:

http://imgur.com/gallery/Aic2o

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | April 30, 2013 at 1:11 p.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

A11, we fight over things like social welfare for many reasons; some because there are people who, by abusing it, should not be entitled to it but remain beneficiaries, some others because they do not agree with the premises on which the theory is based, and still others for reasons of philosophy.

I agree with some of your assertions on corporate welfare, but not all.

The link is funny, but it fails to recognize the inherent difference between public goods like highways, mass vaccinations and police and private goods like private roads, liver transplants and bodyguards.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | April 30, 2013 at 1:48 p.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Maybe both forms of assistance would be more palatable if we had the money we send overseas to places like Russia and China. We all should be outraged that we sent China aid for such things as "developmental assistance, economic support and drug enforcement". We give Russia millions for "military aid".
We put up with that insanity, but berate folks here that have had some bad luck. These are people who were working, and through no fault of their own, became displaced. Unemployment is paid by employers and is part of a worker's benefits.

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | April 30, 2013 at 1:53 p.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

"A11, we fight over things like social welfare for many reasons; some because there are people who, by abusing it, should not be entitled to it but remain beneficiaries, some others because they do not agree with the premises on which the theory is based, and still others for reasons of philosophy."

The paradox lies in the fact that cost of oversight would outweigh any savings gained from it. That's one example of why we can't approach these issues as black & white.

Almost every system or program in place today is being abused by some of the people using it. People lie on their taxes, if they even file. People speed in their cars. People cut in line. People lie to doctors to get deadly, addictive prescription narcotics. People misuse guns. People even misuse themselves (assault, rape).

What I'm getting at is: You have to take into account the broad realities of the situation, and see if the good outweighs the bad. You also have to approach the situation from a long-term perspective. What good would it be getting rid of unemployment insurance if it just resulted in more homeless and destitute? Your city's potential tourism is affected by the blight. Your property values decrease due to the "poorness" of the neighborhood. You end up hiring more police to stop the more prominent stealing/panhandling/debauchery, and fill more jail cells. All of this costing you, the taxpayer, money. (Directly and indirectly)

Or we can use that money to try and put people in a situation where they can retain housing while looking for a new job. Which option do you think serves society the most optimally?

Do we take away funding for prescription drug research because some people abuse said drugs? Do we castrate a neighborhood of males because there have been a handful of rapes? Do we rescind the second amendment because some fringe lunatic decides to murder people with a gun? Do we take away social safety nets because some people abuse them?

If you want to stay logically consistent, your answer for all of the above questions is going to be the same.

"I agree with some of your assertions on corporate welfare, but not all."

My assertions? It's called "corporate welfare", FFS. Can you elaborate at all?

"The link is funny, but it fails to recognize the inherent difference between public goods like highways, mass vaccinations and police and private goods like private roads, liver transplants and bodyguards."

I don't understand what you're getting at. The whole reason for the link was to show that fears of Socialism come from a foundation of ignorance. Literally, ignoring the multitude of social services that we are provided every single day.

I'm pretty sure most of us understand the inherent difference between a public and private good. My point of view is that both should exist as a check and balance on one another. Options are always good.

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Avatar for user 'RichardRider'

RichardRider | April 30, 2013 at 2:11 p.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

No Anon11, unemployment is NOT self funded. It's SUPPOSED to be, but by extending the benefits from 26 weeks to as much as 99 weeks, it's FAR from it.

The CA fund is broke, and has borrowed billions from the feds which will never be repaid. As I recall, the CA payment to the feds ALONE is over $500 million in 2011. And each year, we go DEEPER into the hole.
http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2010/ssrv/unemp_ins/ui_102010.aspx

It's likely saying that social security is self funded. It is, until it goes broke -- a date we move closer to with each passing year.

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | April 30, 2013 at 2:30 p.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Unemployment INSURANCE. The worker's labor is worth what he is paid, and whatever services he is due. Part of the worker's value was converted into an insurance premium. Even if this is paid by the employer, they knew full well that hiring on a worker would result in the additional UI investment as well.

Now that the insurance is doing exactly what it was supposed to do, it's all of a sudden an undue service? Why should the concept of insurance only imply risk to the consumer? Regardless of the underlying circumstances that lead us here, it is misguided to blame the people who paid into the program for utilizing it in a time of potential personal financial crises... and it is a little backhanded to say UI isn't self-funded as soon as the program faces potential insolvency.

The workers paid for unemployment insurance. That's self-funding. This is the result of a poor economy, which is due to powers that extend WAY beyond the average worker.

One last thought... Maybe if there wasn't so little discrepancy between the quality of life collecting unemployment vs. working a minimum wage job, people wouldn't be as potentially lazy. You catch more flies with honey. Give people a noticeably better quality of life if they have a job, and they'll work.

It's what people were complaining about with "illegal immigrants" taking all the jobs. Our "minimum" wage was a very nice living wage in Mexico, and so they took big risks just to have the privilege to work. Imagine if our minimum wage was a very nice living wage in our own country?

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | April 30, 2013 at 2:39 p.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree with some of what you are saying, but not all. It is going to be a long conversation.

OK, let’s start with the cost of enforcement. Is it better to let the money spent on enforcement be taken by graft? I don't think that is providing the correct incentive. People asking for financial benefits should be willing to jump through the hoops required to make auditing the use of those funds as simple as possible. E.g. use only an approved EBT card and only for purchases of necessities. It is not quite trivially simple to audit electronic sales records to check for luxury purchases, but it is not complicated.
The rate at which an individual is weaned off of this assistance can be adjusted as well. Lots of job openings? Cut back on the payments. Need to move to a new city to get a job? OK, here is a bus ticket. Caught defrauding the assistance system? Permanent and immediate revocation.
I also agree that we need to think long term. Perpetual welfare payments do not lead to an acceptable outcome in that timeframe. Assistance needs to be scaled back not just to save money, but also to provide a sense of urgency to return to work, or at least find a different legal source of income.
Regarding mortgage assistance, I don't mind if people sell their house as part of a financial restructure. It is a valid option and we are short on housing. Someone will put it to good use.
Not all things that are good for corporations are corporate welfare. Bailouts certainly are. Differing income tax rates for wages and capital gains certainly are not.
Fears of socialism come from a foundation of, among other things, watching socialism fail and destroy good economies on the way down. The link lists many public goods then conflates the issue by introducing socialized healthcare. That is what I was getting at.
Public and private goods do both exist, but while we should all reasonably expect to be able to use public goods I should not expect to use your private goods, nor you mine.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | April 30, 2013 at 2:44 p.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

“Maybe if there wasn't so little discrepancy between the quality of life collecting unemployment vs. working a minimum wage job, people wouldn't be as potentially lazy. You catch more flies with honey. Give people a noticeably better quality of life if they have a job, and they'll work.”

Exactly so A11, but I suspect our proposals for providing at that incentive may differ. The truth is there is an upper bound on wages as well. The employee’s total cost to the employer cannot be higher than the value he adds. There are people who seem unable to grasp that, though I expect you are not one of them.

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Avatar for user 'RichardRider'

RichardRider | April 30, 2013 at 3:14 p.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Anon, the "insurance" was for 26 weeks. And any private company this issued such an ill-funded "policy" would be both out of business, and their management in jail for fraud for running a Ponzi scheme a la Bernie Maddof.

But it gets worse. NOW the payments are for 73 weeks -- and has been as high as 99 weeks. There was no "unemployment insurance" promised for these extra weeks and ZERO funding for this giveaway.

That, my friend, is NOT insurance. The sequester funding cut affects only that amount above 26 weeks.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | April 30, 2013 at 3:23 p.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Minimum wage was never intended to be a living wage. It is meant to be a starting point where people could gain job experience and move on. It was intended to give our kid's income during the summer. It was intended to pay a fair wage for part-time work. If you have no skills and no work expeience, why do you think that any trivial job you do should pay a living wage? Should companies be expected to pay some dropout with no skill at all $25/hr? C'mon, raising minimum wage was meant to get started, learn, be dependable and move up. I will bet the the group wanting a higher minimum wage never owned or ran a business.

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | April 30, 2013 at 3:54 p.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

"OK, let’s start with the cost of enforcement. Is it better to let the money spent on enforcement be taken by graft? I don't think that is providing the correct incentive. People asking for financial benefits should be willing to jump through the hoops required to make auditing the use of those funds as simple as possible. E.g. use only an approved EBT card and only for purchases of necessities. It is not quite trivially simple to audit electronic sales records to check for luxury purchases, but it is not complicated. "

First off, people aren't asking for financial benefits. They are collecting on insurance they paid into.

Secondly, integrating an EBT system would not only cost money, but there would still be no mechanism or oversight in place to prevent someone for trading groceries for cigarettes, or selling their $50 EBT card for $40 cash to someone.

I'm also curious where you became educated on the complexities of analyzing electronic sales records for millions of people.

"The rate at which an individual is weaned off of this assistance can be adjusted as well."

That's assuming people are not looking for work, which is a very unhealthy assumption. People that are honestly looking for work will be unduly punished. Plus, unemployment has a finite length. Are you going to extend it due to the reduced payments over time?

""Lots of job openings? Cut back on the payments."

That's assuming the job openings are relevant, and not in high demand. There have been cases where thousands have applied for a handful of openings. Under your rules, 99% of those people would be punished for not getting that job.

"Need to move to a new city to get a job? OK, here is a bus ticket."

What if their spouse works locally? What if the new area has higher housing prices? How would they afford housing initially? What if the job ends up having to lay people off a month later? Are you paying to relocate them back home?

"Caught defrauding the assistance system? Permanent and immediate revocation. "

Is this not already how it works?

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | April 30, 2013 at 3:54 p.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

"I also agree that we need to think long term. Perpetual welfare payments do not lead to an acceptable outcome in that timeframe."

"Acceptable outcome" is a very subjective term. The idea of welfare is to sustain people's basic livelihood if they have an unforeseen crisis. Welfare only lasts a certain amount of time, and you have to pay it back. That seems pretty acceptable, especially given that it potentially saves society from having a large influx of poor and homeless. Whether they die or end up in jail, it's going to come out of our wallets sooner or later. I'd rather spend the money on keeping someone healthy than paying for the coroner to pick up a dead body.

"Assistance needs to be scaled back not just to save money, but also to provide a sense of urgency to return to work, or at least find a different legal source of income. Regarding mortgage assistance, I don't mind if people sell their house as part of a financial restructure. It is a valid option and we are short on housing. Someone will put it to good use."

The whole idea of assistance is to help you maintain your current standard of living while you look for comparable work. Scaling it back creates a ton of problems. If a teacher gets laid off and ends up not working for a year, should she have to sell her house and get a small apartment for that year? What if the market is bad. Should she be forced to take a loss on her investment?

"Not all things that are good for corporations are corporate welfare. Bailouts certainly are. Differing income tax rates for wages and capital gains certainly are not. "

So if I work to manufacture a good, I should be taxed 25-33%, but the guy who marks it up to 10x its value, and makes millions in pay in the process, should have to pay 15%?

Explain yourself.

"Fears of socialism come from a foundation of, among other things, watching socialism fail and destroy good economies on the way down."

Socialism is alive and well in America. Are we a dying country?
China is still around. Does that mean Communism works?

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | April 30, 2013 at 3:55 p.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

"The link lists many public goods then conflates the issue by introducing socialized healthcare. That is what I was getting at. Public and private goods do both exist, but while we should all reasonably expect to be able to use public goods I should not expect to use your private goods, nor you mine."

Ok? My point was Socialism isn't evil, and many people overlook the socialized society we are already immersed in. That's all I want you to take from it.

"Exactly so A11, but I suspect our proposals for providing at that incentive may differ. The truth is there is an upper bound on wages as well. The employee’s total cost to the employer cannot be higher than the value he adds. There are people who seem unable to grasp that, though I expect you are not one of them. "

Who determines that value, though? If we have CEOs making 100x the wages of the average worker, isn't the worker being undervalued?

The concept of unions was introduced as a check and balance to the "divide and conquer" approach many employers take. The idea of a union was to make the labor a single entity, which could then more fairly leverage its worth. Without them, how can a fair determination ever be met?

Of course, low-skill jobs are completely different. The prevalence of them is a problem, and contributes to the "race to the bottom" mentality, where the workers are infighting and one-upping each other by being willing to do more for less.

That sort of valuation exists too, and does have a place. But if we don't have some sort of check and balance, you're going to see an extremely low standard of living for low skilled workers, with employers essentially watching the dogs fight for scraps.

Long post, but in conclusion I'll say this: Your ideas concerning social assistance reform are extremely poorly thought-out, and very one-dimensional. The fact that I could postulate so many questions concerning potential situations where your reforms would fall short should be enough for you to rethink your position. If you feel your position is strong, answer the questions regarding the different scenarios.

It takes less energy to stop a person from falling than to pick them up off the ground.

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | April 30, 2013 at 3:59 p.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

"Anon, the "insurance" was for 26 weeks. And any private company this issued such an ill-funded "policy" would be both out of business, and their management in jail for fraud for running a Ponzi scheme a la Bernie Maddof.

But it gets worse. NOW the payments are for 73 weeks -- and has been as high as 99 weeks. There was no "unemployment insurance" promised for these extra weeks and ZERO funding for this giveaway.

That, my friend, is NOT insurance. The sequester funding cut affects only that amount above 26 weeks."

A poor system set up by entities outside of the control of the average worker(whose participation is mandated) goes insolvent due to a horrible economy (again, beyond the control of the average worker), and now people need more benefits than they were set up with.

Remind me again how that's the worker's fault and not the government. We funded a program, without choice, that promised to keep us going if times got tough. Times got tough. This is exactly what we paid for. Any miscalculation is on the backs of the creators of the program. They have the authority to force us to participate, so now they have the accountability as well.

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | April 30, 2013 at 4:05 p.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

"Minimum wage was never intended to be a living wage. It is meant to be a starting point where people could gain job experience and move on. It was intended to give our kid's income during the summer. It was intended to pay a fair wage for part-time work. If you have no skills and no work expeience, why do you think that any trivial job you do should pay a living wage? Should companies be expected to pay some dropout with no skill at all $25/hr? C'mon, raising minimum wage was meant to get started, learn, be dependable and move up. I will bet the the group wanting a higher minimum wage never owned or ran a business."

Two problems here. First off, you assume that there is room for everyone to move up and make more money. That's like telling 10 people with a pie that if they all work hard enough, they'll all be able to get a bigger piece. Sorry Charlie, only so much pie for so many people. So permanent minimum wage jobs do exist and they do demand a basic living wage, or a nice enough living wage to make having a job seem like a worthy investment.

Which leads me to problem two, which still hasn't been addressed. I'll just copy-paste from my old post:

"Maybe if there wasn't so little discrepancy between the quality of life collecting unemployment vs. working a minimum wage job, people wouldn't be as potentially lazy. You catch more flies with honey. Give people a noticeably better quality of life if they have a job, and they'll work.

It's what people were complaining about with "illegal immigrants" taking all the jobs. Our "minimum" wage was a very nice living wage in Mexico, and so they took big risks just to have the privilege to work. Imagine if our minimum wage was a very nice living wage in our own country?"

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | April 30, 2013 at 5:21 p.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

A11, when you say that welfare only lasts for a limited time are you claim that multi-generational ‘career’ welfare recipients do not exist or that the limited amount of time is measured in decades?
An acceptable outcome is a fairly applied inherently stable system, not necessarily one in which everyone is served indefinitely. Do you have a superior definition?
For relocation and market swings, yes people who cannot afford their current lifestyle should downsize. Living beyond ones means is an historically proven bad idea.
If your taxes are being applied to manual labor retirement programs like social security was designed to be then you should be paying a higher percentage of those wages to account for the retirement when you will be unable to work and earn income. If you believe you will ever be too old to invest and collect capital gains and must fund retirement years off of it then you should also plan for that contingency (but not through a non-existent federal program).
Values are determined individually by each potential purveyor and consumer in each circumstance. This is what economists refer to as a market and the amount and volatility of information involved is what makes centrally planned economies untenable. The value of the worker is appropriately determined by that worker and his employer. They agree on what value he is providing or they do not. We have neither slaves nor guaranteed employment here. The concept of unions is to monopolize skilled labor in a certain sector and raise wages above the market value by restricting it. It is somewhat effective at changing those wages in the short term, but in a robotic and information age this is a self-defeating strategy.
We may very well have an extremely low standard of living for unskilled workers. This is fine and provides strong motivation to gain skill.

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | May 1, 2013 at 3:21 a.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

"A11, when you say that welfare only lasts for a limited time are you claim that multi-generational ‘career’ welfare recipients do not exist or that the limited amount of time is measured in decades?"

As far as I understood, welfare can only be received for up to 60 months, with states allowed to extend it under different circumstances.

"An acceptable outcome is a fairly applied inherently stable system, not necessarily one in which everyone is served indefinitely. Do you have a superior definition?"

I wasn't asking for your definition. I just said the term was subjective.

"For relocation and market swings, yes people who cannot afford their current lifestyle should downsize. Living beyond ones means is an historically proven bad idea."

Except in my example, a teacher with a house is not living beyond their means. Unforeseen layoffs should not imply a forced downsize, because the teacher may be hired back on a year later and never be laid off again. The costs associated with relocating make it a burden on the person, unless you expect the government to cover it all. Either way, it's a losing situation. Way too complex and expensive.

"If your taxes are being applied to manual labor retirement programs like social security was designed to be then you should be paying a higher percentage of those wages to account for the retirement when you will be unable to work and earn income. If you believe you will ever be too old to invest and collect capital gains and must fund retirement years off of it then you should also plan for that contingency (but not through a non-existent federal program). "

So you can theoretically retire through social security or other investments, yet one should be taxed higher than the other because you say so.

"Values are determined individually by each potential purveyor and consumer in each circumstance. This is what economists refer to as a market and the amount and volatility of information involved is what makes centrally planned economies untenable. "

No one here is arguing against the concept of an open market, but we've already seen that a lack of regulations can lead to a potential collapse of the system. Similarly, without wage regulations, we would see the collapse of the working class. Foxconn, anyone?

"The value of the worker is appropriately determined by that worker and his employer. They agree on what value he is providing or they do not."

Not always. Many people are faced with working for less than they are worth because the alternative is making nothing. The employer has much more leverage regarding wages in a non-unionized workplace, especially.

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Anon11 | May 1, 2013 at 3:21 a.m. ― 11 months, 3 weeks ago

"The concept of unions is to monopolize skilled labor in a certain sector and raise wages above the market value by restricting it. It is somewhat effective at changing those wages in the short term, but in a robotic and information age this is a self-defeating strategy. "

As opposed to employers who constantly hire the worker willing to get stretched the thinnest for the least money, right?

While unions can become powerful and abusive, the concept of them lies in equalizing the leverage regarding pay and working conditions. When you can't single out workers, you lose a lot of power. By unionizing, the workers acquired real powers of negotiation. This is a core philosophy of the idea of a worker's union, and ignoring it to focus on the abuses seems very biased and dishonest.

"We may very well have an extremely low standard of living for unskilled workers. This is fine and provides strong motivation to gain skill. "

I don't think you understand. There will always be minimum wage jobs. Even if one person gets another job, another will have to fill their place. These people often work very stressful and demanding jobs (ever been a landscaper?), and to deny them a semi-decent quality of life is harmful to society. It cements in a humongous lower class, and takes money out of the drivers of a successful economy -- the people. Decent pay means money to invest in quality goods. The demand for quality goods can create a demand for quality jobs. Which then allow more people to make money and invest.

All we're doing right now is watching the poor get poorer. It's not sustainable. The standard of living should be raised for anyone making less than 6 figures, if not 7.

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benz72 | May 1, 2013 at 7:13 a.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

I think we simply disagree on the fundamentals of what is appropriate control.

Living beyond one’s means can certainly be the result of a change in means. Prudence requires enough savings for several months expenditures to cover an unanticipated transition. You prudent hypothetical teacher would be able to weather a short term problem without outside assistance. One living too extravagantly for his income would be forced to downsize and cut back. Do you not see a fundamental requirement of thrift and self investment as being prerequisite to justifying public assistance?
You seem to see wealth disparity as a bad thing. I see it as an indication that people who perform extremely well can be rewarded for that performance. Almost all Americans now live in more luxury than all but the richest of centuries past. That rising tide has floated most boats, but it is fair to ‘reward’ the creators of wealth by refraining from stealing that wealth they created.
Do you believe the employees of Foxconn would prefer not to be employed at Foxconn? Are the enslaved? I think the preference would be to remain part of the working class instead of joining the non-working class. This addresses our estimation of value as well. You state “Many people are faced with working for less than they are worth because the alternative is making nothing.” This implies some outside standard of value that cannot be justified. If it could there would be no disagreement on the value in the first place. Purveyors of goods, including labor, will charge what the market will bear. If that market will only offer less than a worker thinks he is worth he may find something else to do with his time.

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benz72 | May 1, 2013 at 7:45 a.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Employers do hire the workers who contribute the most to their product for the least cost, as they should. I'm not focusing on the abuses but rather the fundamental method of action and intent. Do unions not seek to monopolize a sector of skilled labor? Do they not seek to raise compensation above market price? Do you not see a trend of replacing segments of the workforce with automation?
No one is denying anyone anything, they are simply not paying them more than they are worth. If one wants to be better compensated one is incentivized to be more productive, or to open a competing business, or to patent an improved tool for performing work more efficiently, etc.

Interesting video, but it bases the ideal on the votes of people who want more than they have rather than just reward. It also does not address the growth of wealth over time. I mentioned before that most people are better off than their ancestors. If some people are accelerating faster than others, so be it. Do you have anything more philosophically valid than a perception of unfairness of outcome to present?

You are correct to point out that consumption is one driver of an economy, but not the only one and it can be and often is overdone. Moderation of consumption is required for almost everybody. Such is the nature of scarcity and there is no sense condemning that fact.

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Anon11 | May 1, 2013 at 11:54 a.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"I think we simply disagree on the fundamentals of what is appropriate control.

Living beyond one’s means can certainly be the result of a change in means. Prudence requires enough savings for several months expenditures to cover an unanticipated transition. You prudent hypothetical teacher would be able to weather a short term problem without outside assistance. One living too extravagantly for his income would be forced to downsize and cut back. Do you not see a fundamental requirement of thrift and self investment as being prerequisite to justifying public assistance? "

Your solution to the welfare problem is that people should have more savings. Brilliant.

(I do believe we should be teaching personal finance classes in school, so kids can learn to manage money more wisely, though.)

"You seem to see wealth disparity as a bad thing. I see it as an indication that people who perform extremely well can be rewarded for that performance. Almost all Americans now live in more luxury than all but the richest of centuries past. That rising tide has floated most boats, but it is fair to ‘reward’ the creators of wealth by refraining from stealing that wealth they created. "

Did you watch the video? 40% of the wealth to 1% of the people is way too skewed. Our country was doing its best, economically speaking, when the middle class was the strongest. Why wouldn't we seek to emulate the past conditions which made us successful?

Using the argument we live in more luxury is kind of deceiving. When knowledge is passed down through generations, each subsequent one gets to start further ahead. My generation didn't have to invent fire, or the wheel. We didn't have to create the TV or the automobile. They were already there. You can't correlate the success of a political policy with advances in societal conveniences and technologies. It's a false attribution. Things have gotten steadily more luxurious regardless of the dynamically different politicians and policies that have come and gone.

Also, what is a "wealth creator"? I was under the impression the Federal Reserve controlled the money supply. Seems to me like your definition of wealth creator is someone who manages to get rich. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htX2us...

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Anon11 | May 1, 2013 at 12:02 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"Do you believe the employees of Foxconn would prefer not to be employed at Foxconn? Are the enslaved?"

You tell me.

" I think the preference would be to remain part of the working class instead of joining the non-working class. This addresses our estimation of value as well. You state “Many people are faced with working for less than they are worth because the alternative is making nothing.” This implies some outside standard of value that cannot be justified. If it could there would be no disagreement on the value in the first place. Purveyors of goods, including labor, will charge what the market will bear. If that market will only offer less than a worker thinks he is worth he may find something else to do with his time. "

He may find something else to do with his time? I don't think so. You need a certain amount of money to sustain a basic quality of life. You even acknowledge that the preference would be to remain in the working class. So at what point do we acknowledge that this reality can be exploited?

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benz72 | May 1, 2013 at 12:21 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

My solution to the welfare problem (if you want to put it in a single sentence) is to stop subsidizing poor behavior.

Yes I watched the video. It did not make any argument more concrete than 'it seems unfair' as far as I could see. Please explain why, if I am not taking anything away from you, I shouldn't be allowed to grow our wealth disparity as much as I am able? Why must I carry you up with me despite my having no impact on your lack of success? How is that fair or just?

Are you arguing that (people allowed to operate in) a free market did not provide those technologies and the conveniences they entail? There are certainly other factors to consider, but I view freedom to improve oneself as the major driver in innovation. What do you think drives innovation? Have you ever met an inventor who doesn’t care about patent rights? I’m sure there must be some, but probably not many.

The FR does control the money supply, but we both know that they are not creating wealth when they expand that supply. Otherwise they could print quadrillions of dollars and we could all be millionaires (actually they could, but it would be meaningless). Wealth is created by increasing that same subjective value we were discussing earlier. A wealth creator is someone who finds a way to increase value. A ditch digger creates little value and accumulates little wealth. A best-selling author, the inventor of the latest bit of consumer electronics or an efficient farmer may be much more efficient at that creation. I don’t know what you do for a living, but presumably you add value thereby and accumulate wealth in accordance with that contribution.
Your second video argues against factory owners not paying for roads and police. I agree that they (and everybody else who is served by roads and police) should pay for them. It does not explain why one should or would punitively tax that hypothetical factory owner. Do you have a good reason to do so?

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Anon11 | May 1, 2013 at 12:28 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"Employers do hire the workers who contribute the most to their product for the least cost, as they should."

Way too black & white. What if temporary margins come at a cost of long term business, due to decreased product quality? It happens. The corporate mentality of maximum profits as soon as possible is dangerous. Look at Romney and Bain Capital, and what they did. Is that what you support?

"I'm not focusing on the abuses but rather the fundamental method of action and intent. Do unions not seek to monopolize a sector of skilled labor? Do they not seek to raise compensation above market price? Do you not see a trend of replacing segments of the workforce with automation?"

Unions don't seek to monopolize a sector of skilled labor anymore than Walmart is trying to monopolize supermarkets. Employers have an advantage in that they are fewer with more power. It is easy to take on a workforce when you can single them out. The idea of a union is just that, to unionize the workforce. It's not an intent to monopolize so much as its an intent to balance the scales of power between employer and employee. We have minimum wages and worker's rights... would you take those away?

Also, why is it when an employer finds someone to do more for less, they're determining market value... Yet when employees unionize and negotiate wages, they're not? Seems a tad hypocritical.

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Anon11 | May 1, 2013 at 12:28 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"No one is denying anyone anything, they are simply not paying them more than they are worth. If one wants to be better compensated one is incentivized to be more productive, or to open a competing business, or to patent an improved tool for performing work more efficiently, etc."

You're being unrealistic. Increased productivity does not imply increased wages. http://www.epi.org/publication/ib330-productivity-vs-compensation/

Opening a competing business is not always realistic. Hate your Walmart job? Go open your own market. Yeah, that'll work.

Regardless if one person does go on to invent something, or open a small business, there will still be someone to fill their old job position... and that new person will just be in the same mess all over again. You're not addressing this reality.

"Interesting video, but it bases the ideal on the votes of people who want more than they have rather than just reward. It also does not address the growth of wealth over time. I mentioned before that most people are better off than their ancestors. If some people are accelerating faster than others, so be it. Do you have anything more philosophically valid than a perception of unfairness of outcome to present?"

We know an unregulated market doesn't work. This applies to personal wealth as well. There's a reason we have minimum wages and taxes. They are checks on the market to make sure we don't turn into a country with wealth disparity like China or Saudi Arabia. Why shouldn't the general public be allowed to determine what constitutes a minimum standard of living? It's not like employers are going to keep people who aren't good workers... so a minimum anticipated effort should require a regulated wage. But it seems that your view on this issue is the employee's regulated minimum wage is just slowing the acceleration of wealth to the appropriate person(s), since the employee might be willing to work for less than minimum wage if no such law existed.

Do you support eliminating the minimum wage? Why shouldn't our tax rate for the wealthiest Americans be determined by a popular vote? This is a democratic society, right?

"You are correct to point out that consumption is one driver of an economy, but not the only one and it can be and often is overdone. Moderation of consumption is required for almost everybody. Such is the nature of scarcity and there is no sense condemning that fact. "

Not strictly consumption. My point was that money in the hands of the low-to-middle classes tends to get spent. Goods, services, whatever. The money flows. THAT is what drives our economy. Money moving. That's why we shouldn't be giving the ultra-rich an incentive to sit on their wealth.

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benz72 | May 1, 2013 at 12:36 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

If someone is free to leave their situation and seek a better life then I do not see them as being enslaved.

Are you asking me if people with narrow skill sets who face lots of competition for work and who have not saved are at increased risk for exploitation? OK, sure, They are, but human trafficking is already illegal and we both agree that slavery is wrong. Do you not see this as a strong motivator to develop marketable skills, locate oneself in an area that is not saturated with other workers with those skills and save for emergencies? People who do not plan their work or spending often regret not doing so.

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Anon11 | May 1, 2013 at 12:53 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"My solution to the welfare problem (if you want to put it in a single sentence) is to stop subsidizing poor behavior."

That's assuming there's a cost-effective mechanism in place that can accurately monitor and identify "poor behavior". Which there's not.

"Yes I watched the video. It did not make any argument more concrete than 'it seems unfair' as far as I could see. Please explain why, if I am not taking anything away from you, I shouldn't be allowed to grow our wealth disparity as much as I am able? Why must I carry you up with me despite my having no impact on your lack of success? How is that fair or just?"

Wealth disparity is supposed to be minimal in a healthy society (like post-ww2 USA), and it is controlled by rates of taxation, and things like minimum wages.

The problem lies in the fact that the will of the people is being subverted by money interests. When it's a smart investment to "lobby" congress to effectively buy a vote to keep your taxes low, there's a problem. Because congress is supposed to be championing the will of the people, not the money.

That's why it's not so black & white as "I'm a good businessman, ergo I make more and more money". People are being cheated, politicians are being bribed.

As to why you should "carry me up", your perspective is all wrong. I already pay taxes for schools and roads, so you can hire educated employees and ship your goods. I pay taxes for police, so your business doesn't get looted every night. Everyone else has already carried you, and each other.

If you're more successful, you have more theoretical strength to help carry the people that carried you, and continue the cycle of progression through communal efforts. Your attitude is, "Even though I'm stronger, I shouldn't have to lift any more than the weakest person" is a selfish attitude that hinders societal progress.

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benz72 | May 1, 2013 at 12:53 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

I support long term investment. Companies (or rather the people who run them) make mistakes. Cutting critical infrastructure is one of those mistakes. Some companies are not worth sustaining and should be shut down. There is no sense investing in a buggy whip manufacturing line.

You are right that Walmart is looking to monopolize supermarkets and distort the price of goods. We have a law (SATA) to prevent that. We do not have a law preventing monopolization of skilled labor. In fact we have a cabinet secretary who encourages that distortion.

Yes I would eliminate wage laws. People who cannot be productive enough to meet the current minimum wage could then be employed. Workers rights are (and should be) the same rights as everyone else gets.

Both (all) parties to a transaction determine value. That is the nature of trade. To suggest otherwise implies that one of the parties is being coerced into a deal they would otherwise avoid.

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Anon11 | May 1, 2013 at 12:53 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"Are you arguing that (people allowed to operate in) a free market did not provide those technologies and the conveniences they entail? There are certainly other factors to consider, but I view freedom to improve oneself as the major driver in innovation. What do you think drives innovation? Have you ever met an inventor who doesn’t care about patent rights? I’m sure there must be some, but probably not many."

Some technologies have come from private inventors with private investment. But there are myriad more technologies that have come either through a publicly funded program (like NASA), or through public funding like research grants or subsidies (like pharma). Implying innovation only occurs in purely private enterprise under free market conditions is completely disingenuous.

What do I think drives innovation? A number of things. Money, no doubt. Convenience, progress, absolutely. Other factors? I'm sure there's some. What's your point?

"The FR does control the money supply, but we both know that they are not creating wealth when they expand that supply. Otherwise they could print quadrillions of dollars and we could all be millionaires (actually they could, but it would be meaningless). Wealth is created by increasing that same subjective value we were discussing earlier. A wealth creator is someone who finds a way to increase value."

So your version of wealth creation is really more like being really good at wealth extraction from other people.

"A ditch digger creates little value and accumulates little wealth. A best-selling author, the inventor of the latest bit of consumer electronics or an efficient farmer may be much more efficient at that creation. I don’t know what you do for a living, but presumably you add value thereby and accumulate wealth in accordance with that contribution. "

I'm not creating wealth. I'm getting compensated for my labor. I'm helping someone and they're helping me. Everyone walks away happy. That is a lot different than being an employer who knows someone desperate to work can be leveraged to work for an artificially low wage.

That's the underlying problem with your definition of wealth creation. It relies on stepping on people to climb higher.

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Anon11 | May 1, 2013 at 1:05 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"If someone is free to leave their situation and seek a better life then I do not see them as being enslaved."

You just make it sound so easy.

What if you were starving, and the only way I would give you food is if you cut off a finger? Would you feel like you weren't a slave because you had a choice in the matter?
(A little extreme example, I realize, but hopefully you get my point. The presence of extremely limited choice does not imply freedom.)

"Are you asking me if people with narrow skill sets who face lots of competition for work and who have not saved are at increased risk for exploitation? OK, sure, They are,"

Which is exactly why I'm in favor of worker's rights, and tend to be pro-union.

"but human trafficking is already illegal and we both agree that slavery is wrong."

Awesome. I guess that solves that problem! /sarcasm

"Do you not see this as a strong motivator to develop marketable skills, locate oneself in an area that is not saturated with other workers with those skills and save for emergencies? People who do not plan their work or spending often regret not doing so."

I still don't think you get it. Not everyone can climb. There are always going to be people working minimum wage, high labor jobs. Until the architecture of our economy changes, there will always be people filling those roles, and they need basic protections and quality of life standards.

I really don't think you realize how much more money EVERYONE can have if the top 10% were taxed higher. (Wouldn't hurt to cut the defense budget either)

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benz72 | May 1, 2013 at 1:23 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

A market is a fantastic mechanism by which to measure good or poor economic behavior.
Wealth disparity isn’t “supposed” to be anything in particular. “Supposed to” implies a philosophical underpinning. I have yet to see a valid one presented for your case of reducing it.
In what way do minimally regulated markets not work? What problems beyond fraud are you trying to solve? Whose duty is it to solve them?

People can determine their own minimum standard of living, and then work to support that minimum. Are you claiming that I should be able to determine your minimum standard of living?

“Why shouldn't our tax rate for the wealthiest Americans be determined by a popular vote? This is a democratic society, right?” If I rephrased that as ‘why shouldn’t the use of your left kidney be determined by popular vote? This is a democracy right?’ I suspect you could understand my revulsion to your suggestion. After all, you don’t NEED it, and there are people who are less fortunate who will die without it. Right? This need is not a valid claim on either your organs or your earnings. You may choose to donate either, but it is unconscionable to ‘harvest’ you.
Your analysis of moving money driving an economy sounds suspiciously Keynesian, and is likely to lead to overspending. I suggest you review Hayek. Humorously, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0nERT...

Your article on the links between productivity and wages point to EMPLOYER investment in increases in productivity not translating to EMPLOYEE increases in wages. I don’t have a problem with this. If you buy a better piece of gear for your employee to use the increased productivity belongs to you, not him.

I absolutely agree that bribery of elected official is a problem and is immoral. Since we cannot trust those officials at all times I seeks strong restrictions on their ability to pass laws that distort the economy, since they are likely to be influenced by those they are seeking to control. Q.v. regulatory capture.

Everybody who earns income is already paying for those schools and roads. In fact, even with an ungraduated tax scale those who earn more are paying more. A progressive tax scheme exacerbates that disparity. The rich are already carrying more than their fair share.
Please don’t put words in my mouth. I believe your position equates to ‘I should be paid a portion of someone else’s productivity regardless of my own investment into the process’ but you probably view it differently. Out of curiosity though, suppose I agreed with your assessment of my position. Can you explain why I should want to carry more than my share just because I am stronger?

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benz72 | May 1, 2013 at 1:44 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

“What if you were starving, and the only way I would give you food is if you cut off a finger? Would you feel like you weren't a slave because you had a choice in the matter?”
Yes, I would feel that I was not a slave. If you don’t want to trade with me at a price I am willing to endure then we shouldn’t be trading. Free will is fundamental to humanity. Actually, there are about 100 people right now intentionally starving themselves to death because they do not like the prison they are in. This is a valid choice.

“I still don't think you get it. Not everyone can climb. There are always going to be people working minimum wage, high labor jobs. Until the architecture of our economy changes, there will always be people filling those roles, and they need basic protections and quality of life standards.”
I get it, not everyone can climb. Now why do we need more non-climbers? Humans can survive on surprisingly little, why do they need more than they are able to earn on their own? Why should you and I be forced to pay for it instead of allowing you to donate as much as you think you should and allowing me the same courtesy?

“I really don't think you realize how much more money EVERYONE can have if the top 10% were taxed higher. (Wouldn't hurt to cut the defense budget either)”
Well, for starters, mathematically the top 10% could NOT have more. Secondly, it is unconscionable to think that because someone else has something you want you should be able to take it. This seems completely immoral to me. How can you justify this line of thinking?

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Anon11 | May 1, 2013 at 1:53 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"I support long term investment. Companies (or rather the people who run them) make mistakes. Cutting critical infrastructure is one of those mistakes. Some companies are not worth sustaining and should be shut down. There is no sense investing in a buggy whip manufacturing line."

That's true.

"You are right that Walmart is looking to monopolize supermarkets and distort the price of goods. We have a law (SATA) to prevent that. We do not have a law preventing monopolization of skilled labor. In fact we have a cabinet secretary who encourages that distortion."

Probably because an employer has an ingrained advantage in wage negotiations from the get-go, at least in lower skilled or high demand jobs. Unions are a check to an existing power structure. They are the effect, not the cause.

"Yes I would eliminate wage laws. People who cannot be productive enough to meet the current minimum wage could then be employed. Workers rights are (and should be) the same rights as everyone else gets."

So when fast food employees are paid $2/hr, work 30 hours a week (to avoid healthcare obligations), and take home a $55 check every week, where do you suggest they live? Rent is supposed to be 40% of your monthly income, so they need to find housing for about $99/month. Good luck with the rest of the money. Bus pass? There goes half. Groceries? Hope you like beans and rice. If only they could afford to run their stove. What a wonderful world you've created for us.

"Both (all) parties to a transaction determine value. That is the nature of trade. To suggest otherwise implies that one of the parties is being coerced into a deal they would otherwise avoid."

You mean like taking an artificially low wage so you can have a job? Sounds like union-negotiated wages fall under the umbrella of "a party to a transaction determining value".

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Anon11 | May 1, 2013 at 1:58 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"A market is a fantastic mechanism by which to measure good or poor economic behavior. "

Assuming it's honest. Big assumption to make.

"Wealth disparity isn’t “supposed” to be anything in particular. “Supposed to” implies a philosophical underpinning. I have yet to see a valid one presented for your case of reducing it. "

If wealth disparity wasn't supposed to be anything in particular, why do we have existing mechanisms to regulate it? Even if they don't function optimally, they're there for a reason.

Do you really think we'd be better off living in a place where a very narrow sect of the population controls a vast majority of wealth while the vast majority live in poverty?

Maybe you should move to Kingdom of Jordan ;-)

"In what way do minimally regulated markets not work? What problems beyond fraud are you trying to solve? Whose duty is it to solve them?"

Oh, now it's "minimally" regulated. So regulations are necessary to a degree?

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benz72 | May 1, 2013 at 2:33 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

It is not employers/employees who have negotiating advantage, it is the one who can find a superior alternative or hold out longest. Often this is the employer, but there are certainly cases of top-of their-field professionals who can have their pick of employers.
When fast food employees…. They should probably be living in their parent’s house, or in barracks, or some other very highly cost efficient structure. But mostly what they should be doing is putting every waking moment into bettering themselves so they can avoid being one of the non-climbers.
Again you are claiming an “artificial” lowering of wages. What are you measuring this against?

OK, an honest market is a fantastic measure of good or poor economic behavior. Thank you for pointing out my omission.
“Do you really think we'd be better off living in a place where a very narrow sect of the population controls a vast majority of wealth while the vast majority live in poverty?“
Some of “us” doubtlessly would not be better off. Some of “us” would be better off. I think the movement away from our current condition would reflect the distortion imposed by current policy. I think people SHOULD get what they EARN.
You seem to want to have control of policy, if you had personal control of 10% of our GDP don’t you think you could enact many of the things you think are important? Would you tell Mr. & Mrs. Gates that their philanthropy is a bad idea and they should donate equivalent funds to the government to run a program it decides is important?

I believe people are trying to create methods to regulate wealth disparity based on jealousy. I also believe they have not been enacted yet. What mechanism currently limits wealth disparity and what is that limit?
Yes, ‘minimally regulated’. I think we should have a mechanism for resolving accusations of fraud and punishing offenders. I think it will provide a more honest market (see above for why this is important). Do you disagree?

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Anon11 | May 1, 2013 at 3:44 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"People can determine their own minimum standard of living, and then work to support that minimum. Are you claiming that I should be able to determine your minimum standard of living?"

People determine their minimum standard of living by supporting things like minimum wage increases and taxing the upper class. They can also determine an appropriate standard of living by unionizing and negotiating.

"If I rephrased that as ‘why shouldn’t the use of your left kidney be determined by popular vote? This is a democracy right?’ I suspect you could understand my revulsion to your suggestion. After all, you don’t NEED it, and there are people who are less fortunate who will die without it. Right? This need is not a valid claim on either your organs or your earnings. You may choose to donate either, but it is unconscionable to ‘harvest’ you. "

A kidney is a finite resource. Wealth is renewable.

"Your analysis of moving money driving an economy sounds suspiciously Keynesian, and is likely to lead to overspending. I suggest you review Hayek. Humorously, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0nERT...";

Well, modern day reality shows us the wealthy are not spending money, and that is hurting our economy. The Bush Tax Cuts certainly didn't create jobs. So maybe it's time to try something different, like resurrecting the middle class and letting them have more influence.

"Your article on the links between productivity and wages point to EMPLOYER investment in increases in productivity not translating to EMPLOYEE increases in wages. I don’t have a problem with this. If you buy a better piece of gear for your employee to use the increased productivity belongs to you, not him."

It takes a higher level of competency, generally speaking, to understand and utilize newer technologies. This should translate into increased wages, even if minimally. Where is the compromise?

"I absolutely agree that bribery of elected official is a problem and is immoral. Since we cannot trust those officials at all times I seeks strong restrictions on their ability to pass laws that distort the economy, since they are likely to be influenced by those they are seeking to control. Q.v. regulatory capture."

Theoretical restrictions, at this point. Until it's demonstrated that we have an efficient mechanism to oversee officials and determine what constitutes a "distortion of the economy" to implement your restrictions, we can't go without regulations. Making politics honest is a pretty tall order. That's why I don't feel your point of view is based in reality.

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Anon11 | May 1, 2013 at 3:45 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"Everybody who earns income is already paying for those schools and roads. In fact, even with an ungraduated tax scale those who earn more are paying more. A progressive tax scheme exacerbates that disparity. The rich are already carrying more than their fair share. "

So given the choice, you'd take an overall reduction in income to achieve a lower tax rate? I doubt it.

The rich have many mechanisms in place to accrue more wealth, and they are allowed to remain safely wealthy and retain all the freedoms of America. Pretty sweet deal. We've already seen from history that even when the upper class was taxed above 80%, they did not flee the country, and they weren't exactly living in squalor.

"Please don’t put words in my mouth. I believe your position equates to ‘I should be paid a portion of someone else’s productivity regardless of my own investment into the process’ but you probably view it differently."

You act like people can't get fired from a job. There's a huge difference between expecting something for nothing, and having checks and balances in place to assure you're not going to be leveraged into working for scraps. People would not be guaranteed employment. They could quit or be laid off. You have to give them protections, though. It's why we have rules about overtime, and lunch breaks, and time off to vote.

"Out of curiosity though, suppose I agreed with your assessment of my position. Can you explain why I should want to carry more than my share just because I am stronger?"

Because the eventual dead weight will become an anchor for everyone, including you.

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Anon11 | May 1, 2013 at 4:43 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"Yes, I would feel that I was not a slave. If you don’t want to trade with me at a price I am willing to endure then we shouldn’t be trading. Free will is fundamental to humanity. Actually, there are about 100 people right now intentionally starving themselves to death because they do not like the prison they are in. This is a valid choice. "

It's not free will when you are forced into a system where your choices are limited. Just because I can move freely about my (theoretical) jail cell doesn't mean I'm free.

"I get it, not everyone can climb. Now why do we need more non-climbers?"

It's not that they're not willing to climb. There's just not an open ledge to start their ascent. (I acknowledge there are people that have no desire to climb. I despise them, too, but am unwilling to punish the whole due to the actions of a few.)

"Humans can survive on surprisingly little, why do they need more than they are able to earn on their own? Why should you and I be forced to pay for it instead of allowing you to donate as much as you think you should and allowing me the same courtesy?"

You keep going back to shallow theories. It's not that black & white. Not everyone gets paid what they're worth. The system is rigged. You can't ignore these huge obstacles to the real life practicality of your theories.

"Well, for starters, mathematically the top 10% could NOT have more."

*Everyone ELSE

"Secondly, it is unconscionable to think that because someone else has something you want you should be able to take it. This seems completely immoral to me. How can you justify this line of thinking? "

I don't justify that thinking. I'm saying that the playing field needs to be leveled. Rich people get rich in our society. They live here, use services, are subject to the same laws... so why shouldn't they contribute more into it than the average person, if it has given them more than the average person?

Maybe this will help you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwpnH_...

Free markets can be corrupted. Your theories rely on an honest market, just like the theory of Communism relies on an honest society. Both fail in reality, because they ignore the complexities of human nature and do not make smart, long term risk assessments.

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Anon11 | May 1, 2013 at 5:01 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"It is not employers/employees who have negotiating advantage, it is the one who can find a superior alternative or hold out longest. Often this is the employer,"

Uhh....

"but there are certainly cases of top-of their-field professionals who can have their pick of employers. "

A small minority, comparatively.

"They should probably be living in their parent’s house, or in barracks, or some other very highly cost efficient structure. But mostly what they should be doing is putting every waking moment into bettering themselves so they can avoid being one of the non-climbers. "

This makes the assumption that someone who "betters" themself is automatically going to succeed. Have you seen how many college graduates are unemployed? They bettered themselves... Now a bunch of them are working low wage jobs, because THAT'S ALL THAT'S AVAILABLE. Why are you punishing these people with life in barracks? Don't you think as a country we should be supporting the idea of bettering the standard quality of life?

"Again you are claiming an “artificial” lowering of wages. What are you measuring this against?"

Potential negotiated wages with an employee union.

"OK, an honest market is a fantastic measure of good or poor economic behavior. Thank you for pointing out my omission. "

Pretty big think to overlook.

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Anon11 | May 1, 2013 at 5:01 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago


"Some of “us” doubtlessly would not be better off. Some of “us” would be better off. I think the movement away from our current condition would reflect the distortion imposed by current policy. I think people SHOULD get what they EARN."

What they earn is a result of negotiating what they're worth. Fair earnings should come as a result of an equally leveraged negotiation. Non-unionized employee bodies have almost no leverage, and the farther you tip the scales, the harder it is to re-balance it.

"You seem to want to have control of policy, if you had personal control of 10% of our GDP don’t you think you could enact many of the things you think are important? Would you tell Mr. & Mrs. Gates that their philanthropy is a bad idea and they should donate equivalent funds to the government to run a program it decides is important?"

I'm guessing Gates foundation doesn't donate to the government because much of their work is international.

"I believe people are trying to create methods to regulate wealth disparity based on jealousy."

I only make $40k a year and the Waltons make $40k/second. Jealous isn't the word. An understanding that there is an obvious imbalance is more like it. No one is worth that much. The kids didn't even build it, they just inherited it. But they're earning what they're worth, right?

"I also believe they have not been enacted yet. What mechanism currently limits wealth disparity and what is that limit? "

Welfare, Social Security, minimum wage, tax brackets...

I don't know what you mean by their "limit". I don't know what percentage tax bracket is the cap.

"Yes, ‘minimally regulated’. I think we should have a mechanism for resolving accusations of fraud and punishing offenders. I think it will provide a more honest market (see above for why this is important). Do you disagree? "

And if the regulatory agency becomes corrupted, then....?

Actually, this poses an interesting question: Can we point to a time when the markets have ever been free of corrupting influences?

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benz72 | May 2, 2013 at 7:42 a.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

“A kidney is a finite resource. Wealth is renewable. “
This is disingenuous. Should kidneys become renewable it would still be unconscionable to harvest them from unwilling ‘donors’ and if wealth is generically renewable there is no strong argument for taking it from one to give to another.

Who said anything about willingness? There are people who will fail. Lack of willingness is certainly one mechanism but not the only one. Further, declining to give someone something is not the same as punishing them. It is refusing to reward them. I can no more punish you by not writing you a check than I can punish you by not giving you a car. Non-intervention is not punishment.

I am not ignoring anything, and if what I describe is false then you should be able to provide proof of such. Certainly there are huge obstacles to succeeding in life. That does not imply that those obstacles should be removed so that everyone can succeed. Regardless of the level of external influence, there will be some who succeed and
some who do not. Bet on the smart, dedicated, strong thrifty ones, not the others.

“Rich people get rich in our society. They live here, use services, are subject to the same laws... so why shouldn't they contribute more into it than the average person, if it has given them more than the average person? “ OK, done… they are already paying more, by quite a bit actually. Next issue?

Re: news clip Yes, lending to people who cannot repay will cause a collapse. We agree. Keeping interest rates too low too long will cause a bubble. We agree.

“This makes the assumption that someone who "betters" themself is automatically going to succeed.” Not true. It make the assumption that those who do not better themselves almost certainly will not. There are no guarantees of success. Also, successful completion of a college curriculum that has no demand is an odd definition of “betters”.

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benz72 | May 2, 2013 at 7:43 a.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

“Potential negotiated wages with an employee union.” We simply disagree on the appropriate datum then. For reference here is what I am using http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market_p...

“I'm guessing Gates foundation doesn't donate to the government because much of their work is international.” OK, point to any philanthropist who donates extra money to any government for use as that government sees fit. The point is that when you direct wealth you can make certain that it is going towards something you consider important and that it is being used appropriately.

“I only make $40k a year and the Waltons make $40k/second. Jealous isn't the word. An understanding that there is an obvious imbalance is more like it. No one is worth that much. The kids didn't even build it, they just inherited it. But they're earning what they're worth, right?”
They aren’t earning it and shouldn’t have it but somehow you are? Help me understand how you have a better claim to that wealth than they do. When you are done please explain why some random guy in Haiti does not have a better claim to you $40k than you do.

Welfare & SS do not explicitly limit wealth disparity. So far as I know nothing does, nor should it.

“And if the regulatory agency becomes corrupted, then....? “
Exactly! That is the regulatory capture I was referring to earlier. The fewer powers a regulatory agency has the less likely it is to be corrupted.

“Can we point to a time when the markets have ever been free of corrupting influences?”
I do not know of any on a national scale. Perhaps very small tribal markets are not corrupted by their governments, but I cannot point to any as a certain example.

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Missionaccomplished | May 2, 2013 at 9:19 a.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

_uckapoo, you conveniently forget the welfare reform under Clinton"

Clinton Touts Welfare Reform. Here's How It Failed. | The Nationwww.thenation.com › Blogs › Bryce Covert‎Cachedby Bryce Covert - in 118 Google+ circles
Sep 6, 2012 – Clinton may be explainer-in-chief, but he left out the gaping hole welfare reform has made in the safety net

Oh, and why don't you concentrate on military spending instead? That's where most of the spending and waste lies. Oh, wait, but that doesn't count! The military and LE gets a free pass from some of the Teebirchers.

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Missionaccomplished | May 2, 2013 at 9:24 a.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

_uckapoo and AL ANON are willing to pay for the latest Escalade or other gas-guzzler! But Heaven forbid they should pay ONE CENT for the maintenance of roads where that gas-guzzer will travel.

Try again, boys.

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Anon11 | May 2, 2013 at 12:36 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

MA, I drive a 1990s 4-cylinder econobox by choice. I pay taxes when I fill up with gas.

What's your point?

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Anon11 | May 2, 2013 at 2:09 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"This is disingenuous. Should kidneys become renewable it would still be unconscionable to harvest them from unwilling ‘donors’ and if wealth is generically renewable there is no strong argument for taking it from one to give to another."

I get what point you're trying to make, but it doesn't really work in full context. Money is everywhere, and the amount you have is in constant flux. You get services from your contributions through taxes. Again, a complex issue can not be resolved with such a shallow level of understanding. We don't have two finite "monies" and we aren't being forced to give them away. Your analogy does not work.

"Who said anything about willingness? There are people who will fail. Lack of willingness is certainly one mechanism but not the only one."

I really wish you would quote me, because I can't always figure out what you're replying to.

"Further, declining to give someone something is not the same as punishing them. It is refusing to reward them. I can no more punish you by not writing you a check than I can punish you by not giving you a car. Non-intervention is not punishment."

Again, this simplified explanation ignores the realities of the world. We are automatically put into a position where we are forced to give to the country. We are bound by its laws, we have to pay taxes, etc.. So being that people are already forced into a controlled environment that demands a degree of sacrifice, it doesn't become an issue of having something vs. not. It becomes an issue of adjusting the environmental parameters in order to best serve the most people. The government is a constant intervention.

"I am not ignoring anything, and if what I describe is false then you should be able to provide proof of such."

The problem lies in the myriad assumptions surrounding your theories. They ignore the complex realities of our society, which we should be acknowledging in order to advance more realistic ideas and solutions.

"Certainly there are huge obstacles to succeeding in life. That does not imply that those obstacles should be removed so that everyone can succeed."

Why make life harder than it needs to be? You sound like you want people to fail.

My analogy is that working together to remove obstacles for everyone is like giving olympic runners brand new shoes. They are all safer, more comfortable, and can all run faster. The fastest guy will still win, but everyone's times will improve.

Why is that a bad thing?

"Regardless of the level of external influence, there will be some who succeed and
some who do not. Bet on the smart, dedicated, strong thrifty ones, not the others."

So you just made my point for me. If external influence has no bearing on success, then why leave up (unnecessary) obstacles? \*slow clap\*

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Anon11 | May 2, 2013 at 2:35 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"We simply disagree on the appropriate datum then. For reference here is what I am using http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market_p...";

From your link: "In economics, market price is the economic price for which a good or service is offered in the marketplace. "

So explain to me how a unionized labor force that collectively offers their services for a negotiated wage is not akin to market price?

"OK, point to any philanthropist who donates extra money to any government for use as that government sees fit. The point is that when you direct wealth you can make certain that it is going towards something you consider important and that it is being used appropriately."

The thing is, people may not be donating directly to government because there would be, potentially, no oversight on where the money goes. When people donate to grant funding, or to foundations like the Gates', they are circumventing the complexities and potential corruption of the government. It's a safety mechanism to insure the areas of government that we do want to grow, do grow. You *can* say it's not an investment in government... but you definitely *can't* say it's not an investment in society. (Which is supposed to be a primary function of government)

"They aren’t earning it and shouldn’t have it but somehow you are? Help me understand how you have a better claim to that wealth than they do. When you are done please explain why some random guy in Haiti does not have a better claim to you $40k than you do."

I was glad to have a roof over my head, and parents that took me to school. But once I turned 16, I got my first job on my own. At 18, I moved out on my own. I created my own life. I was never handed anything.

The Walton kids inherited a multi-billion dollar business empire from their dad, and got jobs because they were related.

I'd like to think I earned my life more than they did. The simple fact that such disparity can exist from day 1 is another factor that tends to be overlooked when these theories are tossed around. "Work hard and you'll succeed"... Not always! Some people never have to work a day in their lives and they live better than we could even imagine.

"Welfare & SS do not explicitly limit wealth disparity. So far as I know nothing does, nor should it."

Explicitly? Funny how you like to sneak in these extra words when your position weakens. Just like those "minimally" regulated markets came out of nowhere...

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Anon11 | May 2, 2013 at 2:35 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"Exactly! That is the regulatory capture I was referring to earlier. The fewer powers a regulatory agency has the less likely it is to be corrupted."

But a minimal level of authority is required in order to balance the "powers" private businesses can exert, such as fraud.

Your position has aligned itself with the concept that a free market works. A free market implies no external controls. Switching over to "minimally" regulated means that it is no longer a true free market. That's why those principles don't apply to employer/employee relationships, either. You can't apply free market principles to a regulated market - minimally or otherwise.

"I do not know of any on a national scale. Perhaps very small tribal markets are not corrupted by their governments, but I cannot point to any as a certain example. "

Fantastic. Remember that little caveat whenever you present your theories regarding a self-correcting free market, and try to apply them to societal issues like welfare and living wages.

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benz72 | May 2, 2013 at 3:42 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

“We don't have two finite "monies" and we aren't being forced to give them away. Your analogy does not work.”
My money is most certainly finite. I am also being forced to give some of it away. We can all point to the things we like least about government spending. Some of those things also fall outside the specific purposes of government.
“So explain to me how a unionized labor force that collectively offers their services for a negotiated wage is not akin to market price?”
In precisely the same way that prices offered by cartels are not market price, though restricted sales.
“We are automatically put into a position where we are forced to give to the country.” You are right that modern society is complex, but it is also more complex than it need be in many cases. It sounds like you are arguing a slippery slope ‘since freedom is unattainable, we might as well further restrict a few people to make other happy’. Sorry if I misunderstand, but that is what I am getting out of your statements.

“The problem lies in the myriad assumptions surrounding your theories.”
We all think our own ideas and theories are realistic. Is there a flaw in my reasoning you would like to point out?

“Why make life harder than it needs to be? You sound like you want people to fail. “
I think this is a bit odd. Aren’t your proposals making life easier for some only by making it harder for others? It also isn’t about what I want for others’ success. I don’t care one way or the other about their failure but they should be highly motivated to succeed.
“Why is that a bad thing?” Well, it is morally wrong to take from A and give to B. It is also bad to reward poor behavior. Further it is bad to establish an expectation of unlimited assistance. It is bad to encourage unsustainable population growth. Etc. That being said, if you would like to use your own money to provide better sneakers to everybody, that is your right.
BENZ72"Regardless of the level of external influence, there will be some who succeed and
some who do not. Bet on the smart, dedicated, strong thrifty ones, not the others."
A11”So you just made my point for me. If external influence has no bearing on success, then why leave up (unnecessary) obstacles? \*slow clap\*”
You got ‘no bearing’ from my quote? In any case, those obstacles can be removed by those who choose to do so. It is not the government’s job.

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benz72 | May 2, 2013 at 4 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

“I was glad to have a roof over my head…” Good for you, my story is similar. That does not show how either of us is entitled to the Walton fortune. If anything, be glad you are the person you became and not some kept ‘pet’ of an heir. In any case, it isn’t about the Walton kids. It is about the Walton who made the money in the first place. He gets to decide what to do with it. If you had been his best friend and he had left it to you then you could have decided how to spend it.

“Explicitly? Funny how you…” OK then, implicitly. I’m sorry if my attempts to clarify our points of difference make you think I am weaseling my words. We are limited on this forum. The programs you refer to do not have the goal of reducing wealth disparity. They are supposed to be sustenance programs. A program aimed at limiting wealth disparity would, I imagine, limit wealth. This is not a proper goal of anyone, much less a government of a free society.

“You can't apply free market principles to a regulated market - minimally or otherwise” This simply isn’t true. The lighter the regulation the more closely the models will predict that behavior (all other things being equal). Oddly, the further from free a market is the more complex and error prone the models become and the less predictive validity they have. No model correctly predicts all economic behavior. You posted a video of Greenspan in which he alluded to that concept.

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Anon11 | May 2, 2013 at 5:35 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"My money is most certainly finite."

Money is not finite in the same sense body parts are. If we could grow body parts from umbilical cord stem cells, wouldn't we want to make a communal investment into that, in order to provide a service to those in need? (Which can be ourselves, potentially)

You make money, you spend money. You don't make and spend kidneys.

" I am also being forced to give some of it away."

The taxes you pay are supposed to provide you with services. We pay income tax, and we get National Defense. We pay gas taxes, we get maintained roads. We pay into social security, we get a protected standard of living.

Name a single country or government where you can keep all of your money.

"We can all point to the things we like least about government spending. Some of those things also fall outside the specific purposes of government. "

What's your point?

"In precisely the same way that prices offered by cartels are not market price, though restricted sales. "

Cartels offer a black market price, and there is competition in the black market as well. There's a reason illegal drugs have pricing trends.

Comparing legal employee unions to cartels is so slanderous and wrong, I don't even know where to begin. Either you have a terrible bias, or you are just horribly ignorant.

" You are right that modern society is complex, but it is also more complex than it need be in many cases."

Maybe so, but that doesn't mean you get to postulate theories that make humongous assumptions and ignore these complexities.

"It sounds like you are arguing a slippery slope ‘since freedom is unattainable, we might as well further restrict a few people to make other happy’. Sorry if I misunderstand, but that is what I am getting out of your statements."

It's more like the idea of true freedom is a myth. We are a tremendously socialized country. I'm trying to work within the confines of reality. That means a fully Libertarian society carries about as much weight as a fully Communist society.

Socialization is like finding the middle of the slope. Once you're there, you have room to balance yourself in either direction without completely falling in either direction.

Would you give up freedom of speech? Would you give up the Fire Department?

I wouldn't give up either, despite one representing a more libertarian philosophy and the other representing a more communist philosophy (central institutions). They can co-exist without being shoehorned into an extreme label. That's what I'm trying to say. Find the balance, and emulate what has been successful when applied in real life.

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Anon11 | May 2, 2013 at 5:35 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago


"We all think our own ideas and theories are realistic. Is there a flaw in my reasoning you would like to point out?"

I've been pointing out the fact that you're ignoring real life complexities when you postulate theories. What have you been reading?

"I think this is a bit odd. Aren’t your proposals making life easier for some only by making it harder for others?"

Not necessarily. Refer to my analogy about giving everyone new shoes. Whose life is harder when everyone is doing better?

If you're arguing for the top 10%, then I can assure you their lives are not going to be "hard" based on any comparative measurement. Even if you get taxed from $50 million down to $10 million, you still have TEN MILLION DOLLARS. Life is not hard with ten million dollars.

"It also isn’t about what I want for others’ success. I don’t care one way or the other about their failure but they should be highly motivated to succeed. "

You should. This whole thread began with people complaining about having to fund social programs. The existence of social programs affects everyone. You turning a blind eye to it isn't going to help anyone.

If people can't afford housing, they go homeless. When the police need to hire more officers to accommodate for the increased patrols, who do you think pays for them? The homeless people?

This is what I'm talking about when I accuse you of shallow thinking. You seem to assume that ignoring other people's failures is going to have no impact on your life, without even considering who will clean up the subsequent mess.

I'm repeating myself... Let me copy-paste from earlier:

You also have to approach the situation from a long-term perspective. What good would it be getting rid of unemployment insurance if it just resulted in more homeless and destitute? Your city's potential tourism is affected by the blight. Your property values decrease due to the "poorness" of the neighborhood. You end up hiring more police to stop the more prominent stealing/panhandling/debauchery, and fill more jail cells. All of this costing you, the taxpayer, money. (Directly and indirectly)

Maybe you should actually reply to my entire posts (like I did with you), and you wouldn't have to ask me questions I've already answered.

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Anon11 | May 2, 2013 at 5:35 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago


"Well, it is morally wrong to take from A and give to B. It is also bad to reward poor behavior. Further it is bad to establish an expectation of unlimited assistance. It is bad to encourage unsustainable population growth. Etc."

Again with the shallow arguments. If it's morally wrong to take from A to give to B, everyone who has paid for the Fire Department and never used it should be in a state of moral outrage. How ridiculous does that sound?

Also, say you have a classroom full of 30 kids. 10 are misbehaving, and 20 are behaving. You have to either reward either everyone or no one. What do you do?

This question is based on the idea that the unemployed are a singular group, because the cost-benefit analysis shows massive, individualized oversight wouldn't be realistic.

"That being said, if you would like to use your own money to provide better sneakers to everybody, that is your right. "

It's more like: Would it be smart to invest as a group, in order to maximize the services while minimizing cost, in order to achieve efficient progress as a whole?

The answer is almost always yes.

You certainly wouldn't have the internet, interstate highways, police departments, clean water, or sewage systems without a mutual investment. Just imagine the cost efficiency of each individual trying to acquire clean water. At least it would be moral, right?

"You got ‘no bearing’ from my quote? In any case, those obstacles can be removed by those who choose to do so. It is not the government’s job. "

The structure of government is the obstacle course. We are born into the course. We have to pay taxes, obey laws, etc. Those are obstacles. Obstacles the government has presented us with. Why shouldn't the creator of the obstacles be the vehicle for removal if society decides it so?

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Anon11 | May 3, 2013 at midnight ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"Good for you, my story is similar. That does not show how either of us is entitled to the Walton fortune. If anything, be glad you are the person you became and not some kept ‘pet’ of an heir."

It's not supposed to show entitlement. It's supposed to be a demonstration of how disparity exists, and why we need mechanisms in place to influence it.

"In any case, it isn’t about the Walton kids. It is about the Walton who made the money in the first place. He gets to decide what to do with it. If you had been his best friend and he had left it to you then you could have decided how to spend it."

So he can decide to not pay taxes with it? I thought that was illegal. I guess we don't have full control over our own money after all. Your position doesn't seem to take this into account.

"OK then, implicitly. I’m sorry if my attempts to clarify our points of difference make you think I am weaseling my words. We are limited on this forum."

The problem lies in the fact that your theories speak in absolutes, but once we get down to the details, little qualifiers start to appear.

"The programs you refer to do not have the goal of reducing wealth disparity. They are supposed to be sustenance programs. A program aimed at limiting wealth disparity would, I imagine, limit wealth. This is not a proper goal of anyone, much less a government of a free society."

Taxes limit your wealth, do they not? Sustenance programs control wealth disparity by not letting the bottom fall out.

"This simply isn’t true. The lighter the regulation the more closely the models will predict that behavior (all other things being equal)."

This isn't true. We had deregulation and it almost lead to a collapse. You may attribute it to a 'botched prediction', but it still is proof that the principles can not be applied with accuracy.

"Oddly, the further from free a market is the more complex and error prone the models become and the less predictive validity they have. No model correctly predicts all economic behavior. You posted a video of Greenspan in which he alluded to that concept. "

Complex and error prone? Deregulation almost brought the roof down. I don't think you get to throw stones when you live in a glass house.

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benz72 | May 3, 2013 at 1:09 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

“I've been pointing out the fact that you're ignoring real life complexities when you postulate theories. What have you been reading?” only what you write and the links you post. If those unnamed complexities are what I suspect you are talking about they will resolve themselves when population adjusts to available consumption.

“Life is not hard with ten million dollars.” While true from both of our perspectives, that does not imply we get to raid their bank accounts. Need is not a valid moral claim.

“If people can't afford housing, they go homeless.” True, and life is hard when homeless. It still isn’t my responsibility to pay for someone else to have a house.

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benz72 | May 3, 2013 at 1:10 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

“You also have to approach the situation from a long-term perspective” In the long term, those destitute and homeless will not clog the city and prevent tourism, though they will in the short term. When there is no reason to stay in the city, they will leave if they have not died first, which is a sunk cost anyway.

“Again with the shallow arguments.” You seem to be confusing public and private goods. A fire department protects everybody. Welfare checks are much more specifically targeted. Can you see the difference?

“The structure of government is the obstacle course” I see we are talking about different obstacles. Yes if the government creates it, then the government should certainly remove it. I was talking about the inherent obstacles to life (food, shelter, etc.) It is not the government’s job to relieve those obstacles.

“It's not supposed to show entitlement. It's supposed to be a demonstration of how disparity exists, and why we need mechanisms in place to influence it.”
Well, you are half way there then. I agree that $4e9 > $4e3. Now you only have to prove that we need to influence it.

“So he can decide to not pay taxes with it? I thought that was illegal.” Sorry for the shorthand, yes, everybody should be paying taxes as required. Once they have been paid, we should be free to spend it on our heirs or give it to them, or burn it if we choose to do so.

“The problem lies in the fact that your theories speak in absolutes, but once we get down to the details, little qualifiers start to appear.” Sorry about that, full explanations take more space than we have. I don’t see a way around this.

“Taxes limit your wealth, do they not?” I suspect we are talking past each other. Perhaps this would help. What is the maximum amount of wealth allowed by law to one individual?

Benz72 "This simply isn’t true. The lighter the regulation the more closely the models will predict that behavior (all other things being equal)."
A11”This isn't true. We had deregulation and it almost lead to a collapse. You may attribute it to a 'botched prediction', but it still is proof that the principles can not be applied with accuracy.”
Another point where we seem to be talking past each other. Interestingly though, if we cannot accurately predict economic behavior, why are you in favor of having the government attempt to control it?

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Anon11 | May 3, 2013 at 3:07 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"only what you write and the links you post. If those unnamed complexities are what I suspect you are talking about they will resolve themselves when population adjusts to available consumption."

The complexities are numerous. That's part of the reason why it's such a difficult issue to face efficiently. I'll give you a couple examples in my next replies.

"While true from both of our perspectives, that does not imply we get to raid their bank accounts. Need is not a valid moral claim."

Taxation is "raiding" a bank account, so this behavior already exists. I guess taxation is immoral, right?

Here's where it gets complicated: Taxes pay for services we may or may not use, like the Fire Department. So while your idea suggests that the general public should not have authority to "raid" bank accounts, by having a system of taxation (and subsequently, services) we are already reaching into people's pockets in order to best sustain society as a whole. So it is no longer an issue of morality, but rather an understanding that we are an intertwined society that requires appropriate balancing so we can have optimal levels of universal success.

The system is rigged. The ultra-rich invest in manipulating laws in order to accelerate even more wealth to themselves. I paid more taxes than General Electric last year. At what point do you acknowledge this reality, and understand you can't use surface level arguments like, "It's wrong to take things from A to give to B"?

"True, and life is hard when homeless. It still isn’t my responsibility to pay for someone else to have a house."

You either pay for them now when it's more feasible to stay afloat, or you can let them drown and pay for the extra police/prisons/coroners. That money is eventually coming out of our pockets. Why shouldn't it go to people for a potentially good cause? At least when you fund social programs, you roll the dice on people. When you let them fail, everyone loses.

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Anon11 | May 3, 2013 at 3:23 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"In the long term, those destitute and homeless will not clog the city and prevent tourism, though they will in the short term. When there is no reason to stay in the city, they will leave if they have not died first, which is a sunk cost anyway."

I didn't realize homelessness had a shelf life. The problem isn't going to fix itself, either. Where do you think they will all go? Apparently they don't stay *anywhere* long term.

Also, how is dying a sunk cost? If the person has health insurance and savings, they pay their medical costs, and their funerals. If they die on the street, we incur the cost.

"You seem to be confusing public and private goods. A fire department protects everybody. Welfare checks are much more specifically targeted. Can you see the difference?"

Social programs are through the government, which makes it a public good. Yes, you need to have low income to utilize the service, just like you need to have an emergency to utilize the services of the fire department.

Both welfare and the fire department are funded by a community of people, to provide a public service should a crisis arise. Can you see the similarities?

"I see we are talking about different obstacles. Yes if the government creates it, then the government should certainly remove it. I was talking about the inherent obstacles to life (food, shelter, etc.) It is not the government’s job to relieve those obstacles."

Even if you feel like it doesn't make sense to get rid of the obstacles to basic living, you are again ignoring the consequential costs. Starving people en masse will probably start stealing food or maybe even riot. Homelessness has a lot of costs we've have to endure already: More police, less tourism, people don't feel safe, the city is seen as more poor and ghetto which lowers real estate values, etc. etc.

So like I've been saying, you're going to pay for it one way or another. What seems like the better option? Paying for someone to eat, or paying for extra cops to catch all the thieves? Remember, too, that by exercising the option to not help provide food, we are creating a thief from a potentially decent person.

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Anon11 | May 3, 2013 at 3:43 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"Well, you are half way there then. I agree that $4e9 > $4e3. Now you only have to prove that we need to influence it."

We already have mechanisms in place to influence it. We need to adjust those existing mechanisms. Again, look back to when our country was creating the largest amount of successful people, and when the economy was strong, and emulate those conditions! Does that really seem like a radical idea?

"Sorry for the shorthand, yes, everybody should be paying taxes as required. Once they have been paid, we should be free to spend it on our heirs or give it to them, or burn it if we choose to do so."

On one hand, you are saying we have no moral justification for taking from A to give to B. Yet, A should be paying his taxes *as required*, which at present date assumes higher incomes give higher percentages. So, in essence, A may in fact be contributing more in taxes than they receive in services. According to your argument, this is immoral behavior. Why do you all of a sudden condone it?

"Sorry about that, full explanations take more space than we have. I don’t see a way around this."

I haven't had a problem. It's called multiple posts.

Your omission of a "full explanation" seems shady, especially when coupled with the fact that when the qualifiers in your "full explanation" started appearing, they started weakening your argument.

"I suspect we are talking past each other. Perhaps this would help. What is the maximum amount of wealth allowed by law to one individual?"

X% of the total money supply. Not limited legally, just in theory. With taxes, the most money someone could have it (X-t)% of the money supply, where t = taxation.

If progressive tax rates were uncapped, you would hit an eventual income cap, by mathematical standards. So our tax system, with modification, can be a full-bore wealth limiting mechanism.

"Another point where we seem to be talking past each other. Interestingly though, if we cannot accurately predict economic behavior, why are you in favor of having the government attempt to control it?"

Again with the absolutes. Government is like a football field. It sets the boundaries and provides referees. While players can not run out of bounds or commit fouls, they are free to use the entire field in order to find a way to succeed. You're never going to play an honest game without rules and structure.

We live in a hybrid Socialist/Capitalist nation, and it's a great blueprint for long term sustainability. We just need to tweak it, and stop pretending like the answers are limited to these absolutist theories.

We need to have government regulation of a capitalist market in order to provide checks and balances. It's not counter intuitive, it's taking the best of both worlds.

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benz72 | May 3, 2013 at 4:39 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

“Taxation is "raiding" a bank account, so this behavior already exists. I guess taxation is immoral, right?” Not quite, taxation is not to sustain society as a whole but rather to serve the taxpayer. If other people happen to benefit at no additional cost, that is fine. Further, you keep conflating public goods that protect inseverable groups like the fire department and private goods like shelter, food and medical treatment. Like you are fond of pointing out, it is complex, but not indecipherable.

“You either pay for them now when it's more feasible to stay afloat, or you can let them drown and pay for the extra police/prisons/coroners”
I chose option 2. It will be cheaper in the long run.

“I didn't realize homelessness had a shelf life” All individual human activities have a “shelf life”.

“If they die on the street, we incur the cost.” This cost will be significantly less than that which would be required to sustain them.

“Social programs are through the government, which makes it a public good.” This is not the economic definition of public good. See here for an explanation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_good
Q.v. tragedy of the commons for overuse of public goods. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_...

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benz72 | May 3, 2013 at 4:42 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

“Can you see the similarities?” yes I can, can you see the differences?

“Starving people en masse will probably start stealing food or maybe even riot.” This is an excellent reason not to artificially sustain large numbers of people with borrowed or confiscated money. When it runs out there will be more of them to cause trouble.

“we are creating a thief” Humans have free will. The thief creates himself.

“Why do you all of a sudden condone it?” I only have the choice between supporting all taxation in all circumstances or none at all? There are certainly good reasons to tax for MUTUAL benefit. But I consider it immoral to tax A for the SPECIFIC benefit of B. Is that clearer?

“Your omission of a "full explanation" seems shady” Sorry to disappoint. See here for full explanations:
http://www.tiptopwebsite.com/custommusic2/mrsilber2.pdf
http://mises.org/pdf/econcalc.pdf
They are a bit long, but well worth the read. Please let me know if you need more.

“If progressive tax rates were uncapped, you would hit an eventual income cap” This is true. It is also true that if 100% of all money were taxed by the government there would be no wealth disparity whatsoever. I do not consider either of those states to be desirable.

“You're never going to play an honest game without rules and structure.” I agree. Enforce the rules, punish the cheaters and when someone wins stop making him give part of the trophy to the loser.

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RegularChristian | May 5, 2013 at 6:27 a.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Philosophical thoughts aside, this is bad economics. The loss of the dollars circulating will contract the economy.

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Anon11 | May 5, 2013 at 11:26 a.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

" Not quite, taxation is not to sustain society as a whole but rather to serve the taxpayer. If other people happen to benefit at no additional cost, that is fine. "

I pay income taxes. Some pay more, some pay less. What is the difference in services received by myself vs. someone who pays a different rate?

"Further, you keep conflating public goods that protect inseverable groups like the fire department and private goods like shelter, food and medical treatment. Like you are fond of pointing out, it is complex, but not indecipherable."

Fire defense is only a public good because the people have designed it so. Food, shelter, and medical treatment can also be public goods, if so designated.

You pay for public fire defense in case someone needs it. It's like communal insurance. Same way our taxes fund food stamp programs, or help build homeless shelters, or even provide free clinics.

"I chose option 2. It will be cheaper in the long run."

When someone is on welfare, they have to pay it back. When someone is on unemployment insurance, it's because they paid for it.

When someone goes to jail, they cost us money we never get back.

(I wonder how your position would change if you became disabled through no fault of your own, and were denied government disability pay because it was cheaper to let you rot.)

"All individual human activities have a “shelf life”."

Not when you're speaking in societal terms. Of course an individual will only remain "homeless" until they die. But you seem to forget that people are born, too. So until you break the CYCLE, homelessness will NOT have a shelf life because there are always young people growing up into it.

"This cost will be significantly less than that which would be required to sustain them."

This assumes that the person will never be productive, and will be getting free money for their entire life.

Welfare is limited and repaid.

...and what if the person we're "sustaining" gets a job and manages to eventually help pay into the system? Did you factor that into your cost-benefit analysis?

What if they don't die, but end up murdering someone and going to jail for life. Will that cost us less to sustain?

"This is not the economic definition of public good. See here for an explanation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_good
Q.v. tragedy of the commons for overuse of public goods. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_... "

The only technicality is that you can be excluded from social programs if adequate need isn't demonstrated.

But the article itself listed things such as streetlights as public goods, even though we have blind people that obviously don't need or use them. So it seems the definition can bend a little.

Besides, how can you say social programs aren't public goods if they're subject to the tragedy of commons? Seems contradictory.

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Anon11 | May 5, 2013 at 11:26 a.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago


" This is an excellent reason not to artificially sustain large numbers of people with borrowed or confiscated money. When it runs out there will be more of them to cause trouble."

The money is already spent. We're essentially either funding food subsidies, or funding prisoners. There is no option to not spend money on society.

If we funded wide-scale birth control distribution, we would be "sustaining" a large number of people. But the subsequent reduction in pregnancies would make it worth it, long term.

You just seem to want to invest in the illusion of individual accountability and wealth, despite the fact it doesn't exist. At least not in America. Every aspect of your life is intertwined with everyone else's. Whether it's taxes, social programs, police/fire departments, schools, etc.

Until you live in a seceded land, with no laws governing you, no (non-natural) resources available to you, and no wealth supply to start with, you can't pretend like your philosophies have any basis in the real world.

You'd rather let people die than try to save them. That is a window to your black soul.

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Anon11 | May 5, 2013 at 11:56 a.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"Humans have free will. The thief creates himself."

Starving vs. stealing is not exactly free will. Are you implying that in order to retain morality, one must effectively commit suicide? Which would you choose?

"I only have the choice between supporting all taxation in all circumstances or none at all? There are certainly good reasons to tax for MUTUAL benefit. But I consider it immoral to tax A for the SPECIFIC benefit of B. Is that clearer?"

If you're taking the position that it's appropriate to take from A to give to B sometimes, it destroys your moral absolutist position from earlier.

Besides, if we used your revised definition, then taxing me for someone else's food stamps doesn't SPECIFICALLY benefit them, since I will be able to live in a neighborhood with less starving and homeless, raising my property values and my quality of life.

"This is true. It is also true that if 100% of all money were taxed by the government there would be no wealth disparity whatsoever. I do not consider either of those states to be desirable."

I have yet to dive into the texts you linked, but it seems many of them are using the flaws of socialism as a foundation to justify opposite theory.

Like I've stated before, I believe in both Socialism and Capitalism. Each system has its own strengths and weaknesses, and by hybridizing the strengths of both (where they don't overlap) we will end up with the most efficient system.

Example: Wealth disparity. In a true socialized economy, it's pretty much even across the board. This demotes innovation, kills ambition, and erases the incentive to work hard. In a fully capitalist society, eventually the wealth will be heavily tilted in one direction. America is already experiencing that, even with social protections in place. Deregulation almost lead us to collapse, so obviously the idea of a completely non-socialized system is untenable.

"I agree. Enforce the rules, punish the cheaters and when someone wins stop making him give part of the trophy to the loser. "

What a shallow answer.

What if the winner gets to write the rules for the next round? Do you think the winner might just write the rules so they win again? Who decides who is a cheater? Are the resources necessary to punish cheaters going to be recouped?

Most importantly, why do you assume everyone is playing their own game? You seem to have the mentality that only the last runner of the relay race actually wins.

Your blatant ignorance regarding the socialized nature of this country and how it affects everyone and everything is astounding. Tell me one person who has never had any help from any part of society, and has become successful.

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benz72 | May 6, 2013 at 8:10 a.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

“I pay income taxes. Some pay more, some pay less. What is the difference in services received by myself vs. someone who pays a different rate?” It will vary somewhat by locality if nothing else, what is the point of the question?

“Fire defense is only a public good because the people have designed it so. Food, shelter, and medical treatment can also be public goods, if so designated.” No, fire defense is a public good because it is very difficult to prevent fire spreading from house to house and therefore it is easier to cover all of them. Food, shelter and medical treatment are trivially easy to individualize.

“You pay for public fire defense in case someone needs it. It's like communal insurance. Same way our taxes fund food stamp programs, or help build homeless shelters, or even provide free clinics.” See above for severability.

“When someone is on welfare, they have to pay it back.” Please cite. Also, are you including food stamps in your assertion?

“When someone is on unemployment insurance, it's because they paid for it.” This is true. I don’t have a problem with people insuring themselves against loss. I expect it.

“When someone goes to jail, they cost us money we never get back.” Also true.

"I wonder how your position would change if you became disabled through no fault of your own, and were denied government disability pay because it was cheaper to let you rot." That is why I am earning and saving now. I will minimize the requirement for dependence. I do not expect someone else to carry my weight. If it costs more to keep me than I can provide I have become worthless.

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benz72 | May 6, 2013 at 8:11 a.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

“But you seem to forget that people are born, too. So until you break the CYCLE, homelessness will NOT have a shelf life because there are always young people growing up into it.” I have not forgotten that. I do think that the less we subsidize the fewer there will be. Would you like to run a population projection?

“This assumes that the person will never be productive, and will be getting free money for their entire life. Welfare is limited and repaid.” What method of repayment are you describing?

“and what if the person we're "sustaining" gets a job and manages to eventually help pay into the system? Did you factor that into your cost-benefit analysis?” Yes.

“What if they don't die, but end up murdering someone and going to jail for life. Will that cost us less to sustain?” No, but there are two problems with this line of reasoning. The first is that it is essentially extortion (pay me to not murder you). The second is that the cost of execution is very much inflated.

“Besides, how can you say social programs aren't public goods if they're subject to the tragedy of commons? Seems contradictory.” I am warning that if you try to treat them like public goods they will be overused. Do you disagree?

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benz72 | May 6, 2013 at 8:17 a.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

“The money is already spent. We're essentially either funding food subsidies, or funding prisoners. There is no option to not spend money on society.” Are you claiming that there is no option to spend $0 on society? If so I agree. If you are claiming that there is no option to spend significantly less money on society then I disagree.

“If we funded wide-scale birth control distribution, we would be "sustaining" a large number of people. But the subsequent reduction in pregnancies would make it worth it, long term.” Sort of. If we fund large scale birth control or sterilization we will be preventing a large number of people. You correctly point out that it would be a cost savings.

“You just seem to want to invest in the illusion of individual accountability and wealth, despite the fact it doesn't exist. At least not in America. Every aspect of your life is intertwined with everyone else's. Whether it's taxes, social programs, police/fire departments, schools, etc.”

This is only partially true. Certainly not every aspect of my life is intertwined, and certainly it is not with the entire population of the country in any meaningful way. I do agree that there are taxes and that they provide public goods. I have never said otherwise.

“You'd rather let people die than try to save them. That is a window to your black soul.” We don’t have souls, but if we did don’t you think this would be insulting? Also, it is incorrect. There are people I would personally try to save, within my means. I do not assume that everyone is a worthwhile investment, or that there is a shortage of people, or that those societal ties you keep referring to are remotely strong enough that not offering this assistance would significantly harm me.

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benz72 | May 6, 2013 at 8:19 a.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

“Starving vs. stealing is not exactly free will. Are you implying that in order to retain morality, one must effectively commit suicide? Which would you choose?” Sometimes, yes. Is there nothing in your moral code so abhorrent that you would rather die than do?
“If you're taking the position that it's appropriate to take from A to give to B sometimes, it destroys your moral absolutist position from earlier.” I see you fail to grasp the distinction. Please let me know when you finish the references if you would like to discuss them.
“Besides, if we used your revised definition, then taxing me for someone else's food stamps doesn't SPECIFICALLY benefit them, since I will be able to live in a neighborhood with less starving and homeless, raising my property values and my quality of life.” Which you could also do if you gave the money to that person directly. So other residents may not find a quality of life increase in maintaining a starving homeless population.
“Like I've stated before, I believe in both Socialism and Capitalism. Each system has its own strengths and weaknesses, and by hybridizing the strengths of both (where they don't overlap) we will end up with the most efficient system.” What makes you think I don’t hold a similar view but with a different ratio of hybridization? Granted, I think 1% to 99% is a better mix than 50/50.

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benz72 | May 6, 2013 at 8:21 a.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

“Example: Wealth disparity. In a true socialized economy, it's pretty much even across the board. This demotes innovation, kills ambition, and erases the incentive to work hard.” True

“ In a fully capitalist society, eventually the wealth will be heavily tilted in one direction. America is already experiencing that, even with social protections in place.” Yes, good.

“ Deregulation almost lead us to collapse, so obviously the idea of a completely non-socialized system is untenable.” non sequitur.

“What if the winner gets to write the rules for the next round? Do you think the winner might just write the rules so they win again?” The process of law is already established. We have already agreed that political graft and regulatory capture are harmful.

“Who decides who is a cheater? Are the resources necessary to punish cheaters going to be recouped?” Courts decide. Sometimes those resources are recouped.

“Most importantly, why do you assume everyone is playing their own game? You seem to have the mentality that only the last runner of the relay race actually wins.” I don’t have any idea what this means.

“Your blatant ignorance regarding the socialized nature of this country and how it affects everyone and everything is astounding. Tell me one person who has never had any help from any part of society, and has become successful.” This isn’t a helpful statement. Please moderate your tone. I do not know of such a person. Can you make a similar claim about no person failing to succeed despite profuse help from many parts of society? If not, then I think you will find that, as I stated above, there are some minimum functions of societal ‘infrastructure’ that are necessary but not sufficient to sustain any society. Cutting back to those minima does not imply that everyone would fail in the future.

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Len | May 6, 2013 at 1:08 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Anon11--Please make your comments longer. Perhaps in book form?

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Len | May 6, 2013 at 1:10 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Benz72--Perhaps you can write the forward to Anon's book.

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Missionaccomplished | May 7, 2013 at 9:06 a.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

@LEN, LOL.

I think they are just copying and pasting. Hence the quotation marks. (" ")

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RegularChristian | May 9, 2013 at 8:01 a.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

It seems that almost every time there's an opportunity to lend a helping hand to someone in need, the discussion sidetracks to philosophical questions about the origin and morality of people's work ethic. That's a whole separate question. Why not be positive and see that most people on the dole are doing the best they can and help them out?

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benz72 | May 9, 2013 at 12:47 p.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

There is nothing wrong with heling them out. Please do. There is something wrong with me deciding for you how much you must help someone out.

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Missionaccomplished | May 13, 2013 at 9:23 a.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

"Are there no prisons?”

‘Plenty of prisons,’ said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.’And the Union workhouses.’ demanded Scrooge. ‘Are they still in operation?’

‘Both very busy, sir.’

‘Oh. I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,’ said Scrooge. ‘I’m very glad to hear it.’

‘Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,’ returned the gentleman, ‘a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?’

‘Nothing!’ Scrooge replied.

‘You wish to be anonymous?’

‘I wish to be left alone,’ said Scrooge. ‘Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned-they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.’

‘Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.’

‘If they would rather die,’ said Scrooge, ‘they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

-- Charles Dickens, A CHRISTMAS CAROL

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benz72 | May 14, 2013 at 6:42 a.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

An interesting fictional quote. Do you find a fault in the logic?

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Missionaccomplished | May 14, 2013 at 8:45 a.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

Not in the logic, but in in the stand you take. Sadly, unlike the reformed fictional Ebeneezer Scrooge, I see no such hope in the real world.

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benz72 | May 15, 2013 at 7:01 a.m. ― 11 months ago

If the logic is sound but it does not lead to a conclusion you like perhaps it is time to reexamine your preference in conclusions. We can wish as hard as we like for some kind of miracle, but that is unlikely to change its probability. I believe we are better served by expecting the universe to be as we observe it to be, rather than as we wish it to be.

If you find fault in the stand I take, please explain it.

As I recall the change in Scrooge's opinions required mystical intervention and relied on the premise of damnation in the afterlife. Can you construct an argument for as similar reformation of priorities without relying on such untestable hypotheses?

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