Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby Thesh » Sun Oct 08, 2017 9:52 pm UTC

I'm suggesting that if you focus on ending wealth inequality, poverty will end.

As I previously wrote:
EDIT: Here's a suggestion for one specific thing that we can do to work towards this goal: Set a cooperative that sells rent credits (e.g. dollars per month) to people within an impoverished community. Take the money, place it in a growth-oriented fund, and wait until you have enough to buy an apartment complex. Buy the property, releasing rent credits so they can be sold or used. Continue to sell rent credits to raise funds to buy housing until every single person in the community is living in a cooperatively owned building. As long as the property remains cooperatively owned, every single person who rents there will be a homeowner and the entire community will be wealthier with much less poverty (if you own your home outright than you are probably close to or wealthier than the median). Tell me any reason at all why this would not work.


That is one example of how people can act their our own interest without the profit motive to make everyone in a given area a home owner, even within a capitalist economy, and greatly reduce poverty. That they lack infrastructure and education is because our property laws don't incentivize spending on them, and that the wealthy even infest the political system to prevent others from getting any real help. That without the poverty, our education would be much much better, and that alone will lead to higher innovation.

I'm suggesting that if we abandon the idea that the profit motive provides any benefit, and all work to cooperatively own what we, personally, depend on - crowdsource open license products and set up cooperative housing and businesses - and just do what's best for ourselves without trying to profit off of others, and in fact let the invisible hand do its job, it will lead to the best products for everyone. I'm suggesting that at every single step along the way, there is a way to move towards this goal that benefits the people spending the money directly.

I'm suggesting that we can set up our economy to be competing contractors to maximize competition and encourage productivity and innovation, and openly license copyrights and patents to lower the cost of follow-up inventions and allow us to make any incremental improvement we want. I'm suggesting that the marginal propensity to spend means inequality reduces the incentive to innovate, as the demand for new products is limited, and thus more equality, better education, and lower costs of invention will lead to much more innovation than we have today.
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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby CorruptUser » Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:11 pm UTC

And once again, I'm going to ask;

Are you suggesting some form of large-scale economy that has or has not been tried?

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Co-operative that sells rent credits

Postby ucim » Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:20 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:Set a cooperative that sells rent credits (e.g. dollars per month) to people within an impoverished community.
Where are these people going to get the money to buy these rent credits when they can barely afford rent?
Thesh wrote:Take the money, place it in a growth-oriented fund
This is suspiciously like the hidden battery in a perpetual motion machine. Growth-oriented pretty much means profit-driven, which pretty much means filthy capitalism, doesn't it?
Thesh wrote:and wait until you have enough to buy an apartment complex.
Meanwhile your rent-credit-buyers still have to live somewhere else, and pay rent on top of the investment they are making in your middle-man company. They could better off buy a growth-oriented mutual fund directly, and use the return on investment to buy a house. Their own house.
Thesh wrote:Buy the property, releasing rent credits so they can be sold or used.
"Or sold"? For a profit, perhaps? This is just real estate speculation in disguise.
Thesh wrote:Continue to sell rent credits to raise funds to buy housing until every single person in the community is living in a cooperatively owned building. As long as the property remains cooperatively owned, every single person who rents there will be a homeowner
Only in name. In practice, it depends a lot on the details; if you have to pay for part of Fred's broken plumbing, and he has to pay for part of your broken window, that does not feel like home ownership, and that feeling translates into how people do their maintenance, which determines the character of the community.
Thesh wrote:and the entire community will be wealthier with much less poverty (if you own your home outright than you are probably close to or wealthier than the median). Tell me any reason at all why this would not work.
If you can pull this off, then maybe. But pulling this off seems to involve at least as much money as buying the building in the first place, which they couldn't do because they didn't have enough money. So, this smells a lot like magic.

The bottom line is that if people are going to own property, either cooperatively or solo, they have to pay for it. The money has to come from somewhere. Classically, the money comes from the future, which is why banks and mortgages get involved. This is risky, especially with poor people, which is what drives interest rates too high.

I don't see where you have solved this problem. Where does the money actually come from?

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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby Thesh » Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:38 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:And once again, I'm going to ask;

Are you suggesting some form of large-scale economy that has or has not been tried?


You are making a claim that there is some benefit to private property ownership due to the profit motive, you have not provided evidence, I have provided evidence to the contrary. I am saying that the profit motive only appears beneficial because of the inequality caused by private property ownership and that there is no net gain in any area of the economy from private property ownership. Thus ANY economic action that benefits the consumers without using profit motive, whether small scale or large scale, will always be preferable to economic action that uses the profit motive. I mean, multinational corporations these days are effectively the same as mercantilist economies - acting for currency units because it gives them power, without concern for the outcomes, and the results are the same - everyone is worse off, and the economy is more stagnant. But if you want an answer, if we all work together as consumers to do what's best for ourselves, we will all take small scale action which will in effect be large scale action.

EDIT: ucim, some of your questions I already answered, some just show you are not even reading what I'm writing, and some show you aren't thinking. Yes, a growth oriented fund is capitalism - ultimately you take money out of the stock market, and put it into the cooperatives, leading to poorer capitalists and richer socialists. It's a free market - take advantage wherever you can to get an advantage.
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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby CorruptUser » Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:37 pm UTC

You are the one proposing radical change, from a system that has been proven to work, not necessarily the best, to some version of an economic system of which similar systems have been proven not to work, or some version of yours that has not been proven to work. So the burden of proof is on YOU.

Once again.

Are you suggesting some form of large-scale economy that has or has not been tried? And if it has been tried, what has been the result? And if it hasn't what actual evidence do you have that it'd work?

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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby Thesh » Mon Oct 09, 2017 1:47 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:You are the one proposing radical change, from a system that has been proven to work, not necessarily the best, to some version of an economic system of which similar systems have been proven not to work, or some version of yours that has not been proven to work.


Define "work". Every single economic system in the past "worked" if you assume that meant "is there economic growth".

CorruptUser wrote:Are you suggesting some form of large-scale economy that has or has not been tried? And if it has been tried, what has been the result? And if it hasn't what actual evidence do you have that it'd work?

It really doesn't matter; if we wanted to, we could vote tomorrow to give everyone equal wealth - regardless of democratic or private property. It will result in most Americans being wealthier and better off, and in less poverty. You have agreed, but said that in the end this would be worse. So you are arguing that people should stay in poverty, stay suffering, for the sake of the greater good of innovation. You have not provided any evidence that this is the case. So tell me, why should we keep all of these people in suffering when we could change the law tomorrow to at the very least have an unconditional basic income and completely take everyone out of poverty?

So, back to the original point: You are saying we should not do things to end poverty, but you don't actually have an argument for this, and you are taking this position just because you are afraid that if anything changes with respect to the economy your status will be lost. So you go as far as to take the position that poor people don't need to own homes because it's a service-based economy. You have no arguments but "Anything different from exactly this is too risky to try" but you don't want to even discuss the scenario I proposed for one action in one community, because you are stuck on some irrelevant idea like "is this a large scale or a small scale" - I described a single small scale scenario, yet the principles can be applied on a large scale, it makes no difference whatsoever - you simply don't want to think about the merits of it in and of itself, because you simply are happy with the way things are - like you said, the economy works for you, who cares about all the poverty and suffering worldwide.
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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Oct 09, 2017 1:51 am UTC

Holy strawman batman!

I have never said we shouldn't work to end the worst parts of poverty. Yeah, I'm done trying to reason with you. You want to go argue on the internet against some imaginary force of villainy? Go ahead, but leave me out of it.

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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby Thesh » Mon Oct 09, 2017 2:25 am UTC

This started because you argued that we shouldn't make existing copyrights open license because, while it would reduce poverty and increase productivity today, it would lead to worse long term results because of the lack of incentive to invest that it would lead to. And please, trying to argue? YOU HAVE YET TO PROVIDE AN ARGUMENT. The whole point is that every single aspect I point to of private property ownership is negative, and you refuse to even consider how any other model might possibly be better; like, you won't even acknowledge whether any argument I make has merit because you don't want anything different from how things are today. That's all it is - you do not support anything that would end poverty today, you argue for stupid incremental changes like trade laws, because you don't actually support the things that would eliminate it today, and it's purely because you don't want to do anything to upset your status - the exact thing you accuse the Democrats of doing. You support ending poverty if and only if you can be sure it doesn't harm you.

You said poverty could not be fixed, that the problems were inevitable. I showed you a system that can fix it, and the only thing you did was dismiss it as likely to lead to less innovation, and I said that's not likely the case you said "well, it hasn't be implemented". You are refusing to consider that maybe you are wrong that poverty cannot be fixed, and arguing we should accept it and not take actions that would definitely obviously fix it, because ultimately it would be more harmful - and your reasoning is that we have proved capitalism works; again, show that any aspect that makes capitalism different than market socialism has positive benefits to society - no, you won't do it, and you refuse to even consider the possibility.
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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby ucim » Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:22 am UTC

Thesh wrote:Yes, a growth oriented fund is capitalism - ultimately you take money out of the stock market, and put it into the cooperatives, leading to poorer capitalists and richer socialists.
So, this is the hidden battery. I don't see how this leads to poorer capitalists and richer socialists. "Taking money out of the stock market" is not the same as "taking money". By buying growth funds, you are fueling the growth of the underlying companies and their business models. The one who gets richer here is the middleman, who buys the growth funds and sells the rent credits. It means the people who buy the rent credits are getting a worse deal than if they simply bought the growth funds. And where do they get the money from?

Thesh wrote:ucim, some of your questions I already answered, some just show you are not even reading what I'm writing, and some show you aren't thinking.
Maybe I'm just too stupid to see the clothing on the Emperor. But in classic Dunning-Kruger style, I don't think so. Perhaps you are not being clear, as I'm not the only one that seems to have trouble swallowing what you are proposing.

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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby Quercus » Mon Oct 09, 2017 6:36 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Yes, I gave you evidence. List of every socialist country, or really, every country that had ever called themselves socialist. Almost entirely shitholes. When it comes to figuring out the best countries, try to look at things like life expectancy, infant mortality, etc. The best ones are predominantly Capitalist.


I'm not sure the causation is entirely clear here. Is there evidence that countries become wealthy because they are capitalist, rather than becoming (or staying) capitalist because they are wealthy?

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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby Pfhorrest » Mon Oct 09, 2017 5:57 pm UTC

Some observations and comments on this thread I've been queuing up in my brain over the weekend while I've been able to read but not really respond:

First, I think some conceptual and terminological disambiguation could be useful. Namely, distinguishing capitalism from free markets, socialism from command economies, and distribution or concentration of ownership from collective or individual ownership.

A command economy is a system where the state dictates who will buy or sell or give or that what to of from whom.

A free market is a system where that does not happen, and transfers of ownership are thus voluntary between civilians.

Capitalism is a system where capital tends (by some mechanism or other) to concentrate in increasingly fewer hands: where having wealth provides a mean to extract wealth from others, and lacking wealth correspondingly costs you even further wealth.

Socialism is a system where that does not happen: where (by some mechanism or another) wealth tends to stay broadly distributed in many hands.

Lastly, wealth or capital can be broadly distributed without being collectively owned: there can be many individual private owners of their own roughly equal amounts of property; and conversely, having individually owned property does not entail that only a relative few individuals own all the property, it can still be broadly distributed among many individuals without having to all be owned by them all collectively.

All of these different things are separate factors and don't have to bind together. Just being a free market does not make a system capitalist, just being socialist does not make a system a command economy. There are capitalist command economies, like the system called corporatism or better known as fascism; and most to the point, there are market socialist economies. And while socialist command economies tend toward collective ownership, they don't necessarily have to, and market socialist proposals tend to be a mix of individual and collective ownership concepts.

It sounds to me that what Thesh is proposing is a kind of collectivist market socialism. The historical examples CorruptUser has offered in rebuttal have all been command economies, and so do not make for much of a rebuttal. Furthermore, it sounds from what CorruptUser has said about his own ideals that it could count as a form of market socialism, specifically something like distributivism (whose slogan is "the problem with capitalism is not too many capitalists, but too few", i.e. free markets would work more justly if only [private] capital ownership were more widely distributed), though even he admits of some state intervention (supporting a basic income, in particular).

(Also, appeals to history are a bit fallacious in practice, because of the complete lack of control groups and all the confounding factors. Yeah, capitalism has been on the rise as economic growth has been increasing, but that also correlates with the industrial revolution and many other changes; just because the number of pirates has declined while global mean temperature has risen doesn't mean pirates fight global warming).

It sounds like you both want wealth to be distributed into more hands, you're both okay with some degree of state intervention in the market to achieve that, though you'd both prefer it if non-state methods could achieve it, and the main difference is that Thesh wants the distributed property to be owned collectively by groups of people using it collectively, and CorruptUser wants it to be owned by the individuals who use it individually. And also that Thesh thinks he has a method to achieve that broader collective distribution without state intervention, and CorruptUser doesn't think it will work. Beyond that, the disagreement sounds to me like a misunderstanding of what each other wants.

For my part, I am 100% with you both on market socialism as an ideal with moderate state intervention (like a basic income or redistributive tax credit) as necessary to get us there, and I'd prefer individual ownership of that widely distributed property wherever possible, though in many circumstances collective ownership will make more sense (basically whenever it is by nature a collectively used bit of capital in question) and that's fine too.

And I still don't see how Thesh's proposal would work, though I think it'd be awesome if it could, it just doesn't look possible to me.

Oh and one last note: I think maybe the discussion about poverty elimination is failing to distinguish relative and absolute poverty. It sounds like maybe CorruptUser is saying that relative poverty is socially inevitable, i.e. some people will always tend to have more than other people, while Thesh is saying that absolute poverty could practically be eliminated, i.e. if capital were more equitably distributed, nobody would lack for the things they need to survive, because there's more than enough to go around, if only we would make it go around.
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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby Thesh » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:29 pm UTC

So the problem is that the tenants can't raise money, because they live paycheck to paycheck. Instead, a not-for-profit starts selling rent credits at a discount until they have funds to buy the apartment with cash (or a relatively small loan that will allow them to get profits) - this might be an average of $100 each from 10,000 people to buy a million dollar apartment building. The apartment is purchased and controlled by the not-for-profit, who releases credits to the backers on a monthly basis based on what they need in cash rent to cover maintenance costs. The backers can hold onto them, or sell them on the open market to the tenants. When the credits are paid back, the tenants get control, but they don't have to pay more than rent at any point, while the backers get their money back over time. The not-for profit can also collect additional rent to fund the purchase of additional properties.

Some tenants may buy credits in advance, but most will buy them at auction to pay their month-to-month rent; most likely they won't know which apartment they will buy until they have the funds. It's just a fundraising tool that you can use to raise money from a community so you can buy the building with cash in advance and keep all of the ownership in that community, whether in the form of rent coupons or the building itself. The objective is to have the tenants never pay more than their monthly rent and whatever they can spare. You don't have to sell them to within the community, but if the goal is to grow their wealth, it's generally best - if the goal is to buy all properties in the area, then those who bought rent credits will eventually be able to use them as well.
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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby slinches » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:07 pm UTC

What would prevent someone with more funds from buying up all the credits and auctioning them off for higher values? Which would then become essentially the same situation as we have now.

I get that the intent is to lower the barrier to entry for investment, which I'm not opposed to at all, but how do you enforce such proposals without a centralized authority?

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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby Pfhorrest » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:18 pm UTC

I'm still having some trouble following along. I have some questions to help clarify that.

Is a "rent credit" something other than just prepaid rent? Like if I buy $10,000 worth of rent credits, what does that get me? $10,000 worth of future rent discount on the building you're buying with the money I paid for the rent credits? Or something else?

Who are you imagining the backers (the people buying the rent credits) to be? The future tenants, who are living paycheck to paycheck, or someone else? If the future tenants, who we're assuming are living paycheck to paycheck, are they somehow getting a current place to live while paying that? (Because if not, then I don't see where they're going to get the money to pay for it).

Or is it other, wealthier people in the community, who buy rent credits, and then get either discounted rent for themselves, or else money from the people they sell them to, in the future? In essence, the wealthier parts of the community are loaning money (with no interest?) to the collective of future tenants of the building, and once that loan is paid back the tenants own the building? If that's correct, what would incentivize those wealthier people to do this with their money instead of something that pays them back more (e.g. lending to someone else at interest), other than just out of the kindness of their hearts? (Which I don't think we can count on, as that's essentially the old conservative non-solution of "private charity can fix everything", in which case why hasn't it yet?)

I gather that your goal is to have a building owned by a non-profit organization owned by the people who live in the building, and that sounds like a great goal, I'm just still not seeing how you get to it from here. Say, to use your figures, you have a million dollar building, and you get $100 from each of ten thousand people to pay for it. I'm assuming this is not some miracle building with ten thousand apartments each worth only $100 in it, so say you have instead only one hundred apartments, each worth ten thousand dollars. (These all sound like ridiculously low numbers for housing prices to me, but then I'm from California where ten thousand wouldn't have bought the tiny trailer I live in, and not even a hundred thousand would buy the land under it, if that land were even for sale).

So you have 9,900 investors who aren't getting to live in the building, who are instead due back $100 each, for a total of $990,000 in debt, split between the 100 people who get to live in the building, or about $9,900 per person owed from the people living in that building. So they basically each put $100 down on a $10,000 apartment and now owe the difference to the people who lent them the rest. If they can afford that, why couldn't they each afford to borrow the $10,000 it would have taken for each of them to buy one equivalent apartment, which we're presuming they couldn't? Is it just because they're not having to pay interest on that, while borrowing money directly they would have? If so, then again, why would the people not getting a place to live out of it lend that money at no interest, when they have interest-bearing options elsewhere? (Which, I remind you, I think they shouldn't have, for basically exactly this reason, but under your system they would still have and would greedily take advantage of).

Also, kind of tangential, have you heard of REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts)? There's one called FundRise that's been in the news lately and my bank has been recommending to me, and as soon as I have some extra money to start investing again I plan to look into it. Basically, you can put a small amount of money into buying small fractions of many different apartment buildings around the country, and profit from the profits that those people make off their tenants' rents. Profits that I think they shouldn't be making in the first place, again, but if people are going to be profiting from my rent at my expense and there's nothing I can do to escape from that until I have ridiculously huge amounts of money, I figure I may as well offset that as much as possible by playing the other side of the table too so as to eventually have enough money to buy out of the goddamn game.
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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby morriswalters » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:28 pm UTC

The weakness in your plan is people. Most people who would use it will be the least suited to manage it. Running large properties requires major levels of involvement by the residents and the ability to learn how to do it in a way the preserves value. My daughter lives in a co op. Her rent is about 335 dollars a month, including basic maintenance and utilities. Two bedrooms and a bath and a half. Within 20 years it won't exist, because they aren't investing back into the property. They should have money in the bank to update and upgrade. And they don't have the discipline. It becomes about keeping rents artificially low. It involves politics of the lowest sort. They simply don't have the requisite skills. I like your ideas, but I question the depth of your thinking.

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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby Thesh » Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:42 am UTC

slinches wrote:What would prevent someone with more funds from buying up all the credits and auctioning them off for higher values? Which would then become essentially the same situation as we have now.

I get that the intent is to lower the barrier to entry for investment, which I'm not opposed to at all, but how do you enforce such proposals without a centralized authority?

The tenants don't have to pay rent with credits, so they can't sell them unless they sell them for less than or equal to the tenants current rent. It doesn't matter.

Pfhorrest wrote:I'm still having some trouble following along. I have some questions to help clarify that.

Is a "rent credit" something other than just prepaid rent? Like if I buy $10,000 worth of rent credits, what does that get me? $10,000 worth of future rent discount on the building you're buying with the money I paid for the rent credits? Or something else?


Rent credits are sold in the units of months rent. So you pay cash, and you get something that entitles you to a fraction of a month's rent. The cash value fluctuates.

Who are you imagining the backers (the people buying the rent credits) to be? The future tenants, who are living paycheck to paycheck, or someone else? If the future tenants, who we're assuming are living paycheck to paycheck, are they somehow getting a current place to live while paying that? (Because if not, then I don't see where they're going to get the money to pay for it).


Anyone in the community or anyone else you want. It's something you work together towards as a community, to end the poverty of that community. It's an investment in their future; the more properties they buy, the lower rent gets, the less money flows out and the easier it is to raise money for other things.

I don't know where the confusion is on funding. Are you assuming the people need to have the cash on them right away? It doesn't matter if it takes ten years to raise the cash; impoverished communities have the highest potential for growth over any other investment.

The point is ending poverty, doing something to benefit the community as a whole while also benefiting themselves. Not only do they save money directly, but it gives them the power to invest in their community, improve infrastructure and education. People are in poverty because they don't own anything and others have the power to take every single penny that flows into the community. No amount of individual savings invested outside of the community can fix that.
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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:49 am UTC

@Pfhorrest

Relative poverty will always exist, even in parasite kingdoms developed places like Lichtenstein and Monaco will have relative poverty where someone is on the bottom. You have to separate out what is relative and what is absolute, and don't knock yourself out on fixing the relative because that is an endless treadmill you will never win. What we can do is focus on actual poverty, which is access to healthcare, food, housing, and education, and maybe communication (I actually like the "obamaphone" program, which began under Reagan).

Medicaid is a good start, but flawed. The biggest flaw being that it stops too soon, preventing people from moving up from the underclass into the middle class, and I'm convinced that that's a feature of the system, not a bug, part of my argument that led us down this rabbithole. Healthcare did have a huge fix in terms of the ACA and the CSR's, which almost eliminated one of the biggest problems with welfare, but preventing it from running out too fast, but the cost of healthcare has been skyrocketing in spite (or because) of the ACA and so the CSR's stopping at 400% of poverty level has created a new albeit less severe poverty trap.

Food is a bit tricky, thanks to food deserts, though the cause of that is a debate for another time.

Housing, well, sorry, you aren't really going to do much better than section 8 because quite frankly, a huge chunk of people are incapable of owning their own home, and most government initiatives to subsidize housing are utter tosh. The home mortgage deduction is effectively a wealth transfer from taxpayers to the banks, government initiatives to keep interests rates low were one of the causes of the recent depression, the subsidized flood insurance program is just a giant boondoggle all around, etc.

Education is, well, it's tricky. Even if you were to properly pay teachers, which is actually the case in NYC, well, the teachers burnout faster than they can be replaced.

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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby Thesh » Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:35 am UTC

Actually, based on the OECD's measure of poverty being 50% of median household income, a $10,000 per person UBI would end relative poverty in the US for the average 3 person household. There's no mathematical reason to believe relative poverty must exist.
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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:13 am UTC

Thesh has a good point about poverty there. And my proposed (elsewhere) tax credit of ~25% the mean income funded by a 25% flat income tax (thus revenue neutral) would also accomplish that objective, ensuring that nobody has under about $1k/mo per person to live on, while still being a net benefit to about 75% of Americans (the mean personal income is about the 75th percentile of incomes at present), and only a relatively small cost to most of the remaining 25%, whose incomes generally aren't much above the mean. (The magic money comes from the tiny fraction of people making absurdly, ridiculously huge amounts above the mean, for whom the 25% their income taxes minus 25% the mean income credited is still a lot of money).

Thesh, as to your coop-building proposal, maybe you can walk me through it from the point of view of some hypothetical people to help me better understand how it's supposed to work. I'm going to use figures from my real life experience to flesh these hypothetical people out, so bear in mind that things might need adjusting for different cost of living elsewhere.

Say I'm a poor member of a community, making $1000/mo after taxes and paying $500/mo to rent the cheapest bedroom in someone else's house that I can find (with market rates for such bedrooms running closer to $800/mo average). [This was my actual life circumstance until around 5 years ago]. Despite being so house-burded I'm super frugal and still manage to sock away around $100 most months so long as no disasters happen. I would love to have 1br or even studio apartment to myself in a building that I co-own, but renting an apartment costs $1000-1500/mo at the cheapest, and buying one somewhere over $100,000 altogether, so I'm out of luck. But your plan sounds like a dream come true. Walk me through what I pay and what I get and when (and why and how that happens).

Now say I'm a somewhat more affluent member of that same community, making $3000/mo after taxes and paying $1500/mo on my mortgage (most of it in interest) on the cheapest old 2br/1ba single family home I could find (around $400,000), that I'll be struggling my entire life to pay off. (That's around my current income and what I'm putting toward housing one way or another right now, though an actual mortgage that cheap would be hard to come by and houses cost significantly more than that now than when I looked up that figure a few years ago). Assume I am greedy and too concerned with making sure I own place to live before I'm too old to pay rent and interest anymore to be concerned in any real actionable sense with anyone else's struggles. Would I be interested in your plan? Why? Walk me through what I pay and what I get and when (and why and how that happens).

Now assume I'm a townie who inherited a house from my grandma and doesn't have to pay anything but property taxes and maintenance, and I make, say, $1500/mo. Do I want to be a part of your project? Why? Walk me through what I pay and what I get and when (and why and how that happens).
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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby Thesh » Tue Oct 10, 2017 4:26 am UTC

Let's say you have a large impoverished community of 100,000 people. Average rent is $500 per month, and operating costs are $300/mo per unit. Every year, the community is losing $2,400 per year per unit, or $240 million. Distribution of income of those who fund it is not important, but over the course of 2 years you go to churches, knock on doors, work with community organizers, and manage to collect an average of $5/mo from across 10,000 residents of any status, for a total of $1.2 million, selling 2500 rent credits at $480 per month. You use this to buy a 50 unit apartment complex.

After you buy the apartment, you begin to release the rent credits to the units. Let's say there are 20 two bedroom units, and 10 of each for studio, one, and three bedroom apartments. You need 60% of your rents to cover maintenance, so every month you release 20 credits. These are distributed out proportionally for each type of unit, so each month you will release 8 two bedroom, and 4 of each of the rest. Each contributor gets a fraction of this, which they can sell for whatever price they want, probably through an auction website ran by the not-for-profit.

At this point, your community has increased its net income by $120,000/year. As time goes on, they continue to sell credits, organize the community, knock on doors, etc. until they can get the next apartment complex. This is a little easier, because the community now has another $120,000/yr of income. I would give the backer an option of reinvesting their money online, putting it towards the next apartment. In about 10.5 years, all of the rent credits for the first apartment have been released to the backers. You can have the not-for-profit rent it out for a fixed period after that, say 5 years, and then reinvest that money in another property, and so on and so forth. It doesn't need to be apartments either; it works with houses as well.

Now they can take some of that extra $240 million per year in savings and further improve infrastructure, education, and use a similar strategy on the businesses, while they have a ton of capital they can borrow against for improvements.

At no point do any of the renters pay anything more than they are currently renting, but over time they pay less, and the people who do the funding will see their money back; however, they shouldn't look at it as savings, they see it as an investment in their community, and are scraping together donation-level funding - it's a relatively small amount of money that they are putting up.
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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Oct 10, 2017 4:47 am UTC

Okay, so the money is basically coming from private charity, essentially to provide an interest-free loan for the good of the less-well-off in the community, out of the goodness of their hearts? That sounds like it would be great if it happened, but I really don't see it happening. That's the same non-solution of traditional conservative "private charity can fix everything"; you're just describing a structure through which private charity can fund a public good. But why hasn't it already, and what's going to make it happen now when it hasn't already?
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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby Thesh » Tue Oct 10, 2017 5:08 am UTC

You directly benefit in two ways: one is that it is not an interest-free loan; you bought the credits at a discount, and if rent stays the same or goes up then you profit; the advantage over a loan is that you don't have fixed payment terms. Second, you will have an extra $120,000 per year circulating within your community, some of which will be spent multiple times before leaving, leading to higher demand and higher wages.

This is not charity, although the levels of funding are that level - it's crowdsourcing; people working together to purchase the property within their community so that they can all get to the point where all of them own their home.
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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby ucim » Tue Oct 10, 2017 5:15 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Capitalism is a system where capital tends (by some mechanism or other) to concentrate in increasingly fewer hands: where having wealth provides a mean to extract wealth from others, and lacking wealth correspondingly costs you even further wealth.

Socialism is a system where that does not happen:...
Well, no, that's not how the words are defined. Captialism is a system where private ownership is largely unrestricted; specifically ownership of the means of production (which is a very broad category of things). That capital thus tends to concentrate is a side effect of unrestrained (or protected) capitalism, not a defining trait of the system.

It's important to not infused definitions with value judgements.

In any case, the tendency for accumulation (wealth, power, friends, reputation, population, anger, and many other things) is a property of many things. This is not unique to capitalism.

Questions for Thesh spoilered because others have raised the same issues:
Spoiler:
Thesh wrote:So the problem is that the tenants can't raise money, because they live paycheck to paycheck.
Yes.

Thesh wrote:Instead, a not-for-profit starts selling rent credits at a discount...
It would have to be a hefty discount if it were to be attractive to people who have a hard time making the rent in the first place. This makes it attractive to wealthy investors also though, and they are in a better position to make this investment. Sure, money flows in and the building gets built, but now it's the wealthy that are owed the right to rent the units, which they can then sell to the less fortunate at a profit. (The wealthy would presumably not be interested in actually living in this building, as it's not built to their standards.) In any case, the target population is now paying market value again. I don't see how this helps them any more than investing in any other investment, be it real estate, mutual funds, or stocks and bonds.

In any case, I'm not quite sure what this "rent credit" is. I buy one and what do I have? The right to live for a month in some apartment at some time in the future that is decided by the cooperative that built the building? If the market rent is $500/month for this unit, how much would such a "rent credit" cost?

So yes, it's a fundraising tool to get the building built. But I don't really see its advantages over any other fundraising tool. You still need money, and it would come from people who have it. It seems a lot like pre-sales of condos.

Thesh wrote:Some tenants may buy credits in advance, but most will buy them at auction to pay their month-to-month rent;
Why is this a better deal for the tenants than simply paying rent or a mortgage the usual way?
That asked, and after reading Thesh's responses to similar questions, my conclusion (Thesh - amirite?) is that the plan is essentially a way to purchase a building and "keep the profits in the community". Given that a building might have $8 million in yearly expenses, and generate $10 million in yearly income (all figures out of my gastrointestinal tract), that's $2 million profit for the building owner. Under Thesh's plan, the building owner would be the cooperative, and the money is thus "kept in the community". However, the people living in the building aren't getting any benefit from this - they pay rent as usual. Only the owners of the rent credits are, and they don't have to be community members. To the extent that they aren't, the money is leaving the community.

This cooperative doesn't own the building free and clear. It owns the building and owes rent credits. This means that the $10 million in yearly income isn't going to come in. Not for a while. How long depends on the ratio of rent to property value.

As I see it, it's just a building being rented. There's an odd financing method, but the benefit doesn't actually accrue to the community unless the community invests in it, and if the community could do so, it could invest in other more lucrative ventures.

To the extent that that's not happening, this won't either.

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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Oct 10, 2017 5:36 am UTC

ucim wrote:Well, no, that's not how the words are defined. Captialism is a system where private ownership is largely unrestricted; specifically ownership of the means of production (which is a very broad category of things). That capital thus tends to concentrate is a side effect of unrestrained (or protected) capitalism, not a defining trait of the system.

It's important to not infused definitions with value judgements.

The term "capitalism" was coined originally by Marx, as effectively a pejorative against systems where unequal capital ownership results in transfers of wealth from those who generate it to those who own capital. It has since been redefined in popular usage to mean more like what you say: private property and free markets. Understandably, because Marx's solution to capitalism was to abolish those things, but that's not the only solution anyone has ever proposed. To the point, that redefinition completely erases the conceptual possibility of market socialism, which is in favor of private property and free markets yet explicitly anti-capitalist in the original sense, which sounds like a contradiction in terms if you read "capitalism" in the redefined sense instead. That is why it is important to clarify the true original sense of the word, without which it is impossible to even express certain ideas.
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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:02 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:The term "capitalism" was coined originally by Marx


Wikipedia wrote:The term "capitalist", meaning an owner of capital, appears earlier than the term "capitalism" and it dates back to the mid-17th century. "Capitalism" is derived from capital, which evolved from capitale, a late Latin word based on caput, meaning "head" – also the origin of chattel and cattle in the sense of movable property (only much later to refer only to livestock). Capitale emerged in the 12th to 13th centuries in the sense of referring to funds, stock of merchandise, sum of money or money carrying interest.[22][23][24] By 1283, it was used in the sense of the capital assets of a trading firm and it was frequently interchanged with a number of other words – wealth, money, funds, goods, assets, property and so on.[25]


500 years ago the "means of production" was a workshop with a master and an apprentice or two, etc. The smithy gave way to the steel mill, with a thousand workers to one factory owner, and in terms of production the worker or even a small group of workers had no realistic means of establishing competition if they chose to do so, effectively letting the factory owner dictate terms. That may be mostly true still, but when 80% of the economy is the service sector, that's irrelevant. The factories no longer dominate the economy. Look at where the major mega-corps are making their revenue; it's not raw materials or the industrial base itself. And the thing about the service sector, while it too is dominated by mega-corps, the barriers to entry are not insurmountable the way they once where. Your attorney's means of production is what, a computer and an office? The music industry once required a fortune to set up shop, but the means of production is now a few thousand dollars of equipment. Movies don't cost anywhere near what they once did, with the "means of production" having been reduced to basically a decent camera and a laptop; sure, you won't get a blockbuster, but you get the entire Indie industry.

The biggest issue is that capital gains are taxed less than income, but that's more a governmental failure. And if you think that your system is immune to corruption, bwuwahaha no. Get the money out of politics first.
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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:12 am UTC

Yeah, that's the etymology of "capital", and "capitalist" in the sense of someone who owns capital, not the sense of someone who supports capitalism. That says right there in your quote that "capitalist" (in that other sense) predates "capitalism".
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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:22 am UTC

And Wikipedia attributes "capitalism in the modern sense" to Louis Blanc in 1850. Marx didn't invent half the things people think he did, and in real life he was exactly what you'd expect.

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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby Soupspoon » Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:16 am UTC

Marx, how I always expect him:
Spoiler:
Image

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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby ucim » Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:22 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:The term "capitalism" was coined originally by Marx, as effectively a pejorative...
...but it no longer means that. When we use the words, we use them in the modern sense (of owning the means of production; which includes the gateways to distribution). If you want a sensible discussion, you need to use non-pejorative definitions.

Pfhorrest wrote:To the point, that redefinition completely erases the conceptual possibility of market socialism...
No it doesn't. Not in the slightest. Simply define that too, non-pejoratively.

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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Oct 10, 2017 4:32 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:To the point, that redefinition completely erases the conceptual possibility of market socialism...
No it doesn't. Not in the slightest. Simply define that too, non-pejoratively.

Using what words? They're for private property and free markets but against capitalism. If you've taken "capitalist" to mean "for private property and free markets" then that sentence contradicts itself. What word would you substitute for "capitalism" to keep the original intended meaning? (And why should we have to make up new words just because people have systemically failed to use the old ones correctly? How is that not their fault?)

This is like the free will debate all over again. Millenia ago some people pondered whether determinism might interfere with free will. After thousands of years of talking about that, many people now take "free will" to be defined in a way that makes it incompatible with determinism, making compatibilism (which has been around the whole time that was happening) sound like nonsense right on the surface, and then they accuse compatibilists of trying to redefine words. Likewise, early state socialists poised private property and free markets as the root problem behind capitalism, and they and capitalists made such a big stink fighting each other that now people take "capitalism" to be defined as anything with private property and free markets, making libertarian socialism (which has been around the whole time that was happening) sound like nonsense right on the surface, and then you accuse libertarian socialists of trying to redefine words?
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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby ucim » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:00 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Using what words? They're for private property and free markets but against capitalism.
Simply don't use the word "capitalism" if you believe it will be confusing. Don't use the old definition, don't use the new one either.

So, without using the word "capitalism", what is it that they are against?

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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:05 pm UTC

ucim wrote:So, without using the word "capitalism", what is it that they are against?

Pfhorrest wrote:a system where capital tends (by some mechanism or other) to concentrate in increasingly fewer hands: where having wealth provides a mean to extract wealth from others, and lacking wealth correspondingly costs you even further wealth.

Do you have a more succinct name to substitute so we don't have to type that long descriptive phrase out every time we want to talk about that thing?
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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby ucim » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:11 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
ucim wrote:So, without using the word "capitalism", what is it that they are against?

Pfhorrest wrote:a system where capital tends (by some mechanism or other) to concentrate in increasingly fewer hands: where having wealth provides a mean to extract wealth from others, and lacking wealth correspondingly costs you even further wealth.

Do you have a more succinct name to substitute so we don't have to type that long descriptive phrase out every time we want to talk about that thing?
This is not a definition of a system, it is a description of a system (or set of systems). We could call such systems "accumulistic" (an adjective). However, it would be wrong to define it as "accumulism" (a noun) for that reason. If you want a noun, you need to be more specific in the "some mechanism or other", because it's the mechanism that is under discussion.

I get that you see accumulism as a Bad Thing. I won't argue with you. I may even agree with you. But it is not a "thing", it is an effect.

It is an tendency of capitalism (present day definition) to exhibit this effect. Capitalism tends to be accumulistic. To the extent that this is a bad thing, and to the extent that it doesn't undermine the good things about capitalism, it should be mitigated somehow. Typically by laws such as those against monopolies, and (nonexistant!) privacy protection laws, and environmental protection laws, and things like that. Taxation is also an effective tool to reduce accumulism. If applied too heavily however, taxation turns the system into a command economy. There's a balance.

Accumulism results also from the freedom to give the fruits of your labor to whomever you want, such as to your family. That next generation will start with an advantage. But do you really propose prohibiting giving the fruits of your labor to your (undeserving - they didn't work for it) family? Because giving to your family is a primary motivation for earning money in the first place. Accumulism also is helpful in the creation of large capital pools necessary for Apple or SpaceX. Yes, in theory somebody could try to form a cooperative to fly to Mars, or develop elegant spy tools cell phones, but in reality that ain't gonna happen.

To answer your original question, you could say: "They're for private property and free markets but against accumulistic effects." These things are inherently in conflict; you can't have it both ways. You can however have a blend, a balance. This is where the discussion could be fruitful.

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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:29 pm UTC

ucim wrote:To answer your original question, you could say: "They're for private property and free markets but against accumulistic effects." These things are inherently in conflict; you can't have it both ways.

Centuries of libertarian socialist thinkers beg to differ.
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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby ucim » Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:17 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Centuries of libertarian socialist thinkers beg to differ.
I could rephrase: "These things are inherently in conflict; you can't have it both ways without some externally imposed stricture." Those italics are what the following sentence added. And this goes back to what I said before... no unrestrained system, be it capitalism, socialism, communism, whatever, is good by itself. They all have their issues, they all need some reins on them.

The advantage of capitalism is that it uses our greed as the engine, rather than trying to suppress it. An engine isn't enough though; an economic system also needs a steering wheel and brakes, lest it drive itself off a cliff.

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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Oct 11, 2017 12:01 am UTC

ucim wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:Centuries of libertarian socialist thinkers beg to differ.
I could rephrase: "These things are inherently in conflict; you can't have it both ways without some externally imposed stricture."

Again: Centuries of libertarian socialist thinkers beg to differ, usually arguing that it is external impositions on what a free market would naturally be that creates the capitalism we find arising from it. That is the entire defining characteristic of libertarian socialism: the argument that socialism (the opposite of capitalism, in the original sense, as I'll continue to use it) should be enacted by having governments stop doing things they're already doing; that socialism is the natural state of a market, if bad things aren't done to make it capitalistic, bad things that people in power usually tend to do because it helps them keep power.

You are effectively arguing that that is by definition impossible. I don't really care to argue about that myself right now, just know that you are hardly stating some uncontroversial truism, you are directly denying a whole wide swath of socioeconomic thought with many notable proponents.
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Re: Stuff about poverty, race, etc., split from Trump presidency thread in N&A

Postby ucim » Wed Oct 11, 2017 1:11 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:...just know that [...] you are directly denying a whole wide swath of socioeconomic thought with many notable proponents.
I suspect it's not possible to state an opinion on the subject without doing that. :)

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