0850: "World According To Americans"

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collegestudent22
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby collegestudent22 » Mon Jul 18, 2011 5:56 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Holy shit a new page! The last one probably has the record now for longest single page on the forums.

collegestudent22 wrote:And, well, they don't need to because almost 90% say they are "well fed", with 2/3 saying they can even get the food they want instead of whatever is cheapest.
[citation needed]

If you're going to pull up all these stats, tell us where you got them.


Citation was given in the original post to those statistics. US Census Bureau statistics from 2005, by way of a Heritage Foundation report from August 2007.

For one, in smaller towns you can walk or bike to anywhere in the town should you choose to do so
Sure, if you live *inside* the small town. If you live anywhere in the vast rural areas around such towns, on the other hand, no such luck.


If you live in the "vast rural areas", you also typically own relatively large amounts of land, and work that land as a farmer or rancher to make a living. The poor are far more likely to live in urban areas, anyway. I can back that up easily - the states with the smallest overall population, and no big cities - states like Wyoming and Alaska - have the lowest poverty rates, according to the 2009 ACS report from the US Census Bureau. Virginia and Maryland have a much lower poverty rate than D.C., and New York has a much higher poverty rate than surrounding states, like Connecticut and New Jersey.

This hypothetical town has no Walmarts, Targets, fast food, or department stores? It has no menial labor jobs, such as construction? There are always jobs to be had, if one looks hard enough.
"Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?"


A misquote, but close enough. Ebenezer, though a miser, was somewhat right. He was a total ass for not giving voluntarily, before his change of heart. (The point of the story is, of course, the morality of charity.) This is altogether different from government-enforced theft. It also ignores the fact the point that there are jobs to be had, although they may not pay as well as the one you had lost, nor require the skills you have acquired over time.

Today, the expenditures per person of the lowest-income one-fifth (or quintile) of households equal those of the median American household in the early 1970s, after adjusting for inflation.


Free-market capitalism, while not eliminating human envy - and therefore not eliminating relative poverty (something no system can do), is extremely good at eliminating absolute poverty. And I would argue that this is the only kind of poverty that is worth eliminating.

Serious illness, for employees that have worked for longer than one year in a business with more than 50, is not a cause for termination of employment. Unpaid sick leave in these situations is protected by US law.
Okay, but what about not serious illness that still requires days off, or for people who've been at a place less than a year, or who work for a smaller company than that?


Charity, at least in America, is still very powerful. Soup kitchens and volunteer and charitable homeless shelters abound in both rural towns and large cities.

And, again, it is quite rare for someone to get fired for having to take a couple days off. This is true, not in spite of the employer's self-interest, but because of it. It costs an employer far more to advertise for new hires, go through the hiring process, and then train replacements, losing potential profit the entire time between the person is fired and the replacement is trained, than it does to allow a person a few days off for illness, provided that policy is not taken advantage by frequent absenteeism. Especially when the sick leave is unpaid.

I have worked, and continue to work, in jobs where I started off at minimum wage, without paid sick leave or expensive benefits like health insurance even after earning bumps in pay. Despite that, I can, if ill, take a shift or two off. I will not be fired for missing a shift, provided I inform my boss that I will not be able to make it beforehand. This was true at both of my minimum wage jobs in high school, as well as the ones I have held while in college.

At my current job, I was even given a couple weeks off in order to see my grandmother before she died, and attend the memorial service. Yet, I am only being paid $7.75/hr - slightly above minimum wage. Your assumptions of what it is generally like to work a low-paying job are quite mistaken.

including, nearly every single time, the individual's church.
Assuming, of course, that the individual in question is a Good Christian and has a church with whose social group they are in good standing.


Or a Muslim. Or a Jew. Or belonging to pretty much any religion. And, of course, many of these churches provide services to anyone - I have volunteered at many a church soup kitchen and homeless shelter in my youth. None of those limited access based on qualifiers, especially not a bar on the non-religious. Although you might get proselytized to (oh, horror! in exchange for free food and lodging, some might talk to you about Jesus or Allah!).

Your assumption that churches only look out for members of their church is, frankly, frightening. I mean, I realize many of those on this board are not religious, but still. Characterizing religion in this way is just wrong.

The government recently stopped a church that gave food to the homeless. Charity, even that of religious organizations, is not dead in America, despite attempts to make it so by a government that increasingly limits the choices of individuals.

collegestudent22 wrote:Much of unemployment is caused partially by those out of work refusing to take jobs "beneath them". All those "jobs Americans don't want" that "illegal immigrants are taking" ring a bell?
Oh, you mean those jobs that are often not so much beneath the person's perceived self-worth but also beneath what employers are legally required to pay their workers? Yeah, that does kinda ring a bell, actually.


If the wages are below the unskilled individual's self-worth, these jobs would not be taken by immigrants of any kind. It is also rare that even minimum wage laws are offered to adults with any kind of experience or skill. The vast majority of minimum wage workers, and the poor in general, are under the age of 25.

The fact that these wages are beneath what employers are legally required to pay their workers is really irrelevant. Clearly, someone is willing to take these jobs. But not Americans. If Americans were willing to take these jobs, and the economy distorting minimum wage law was eliminated (it doesn't really do anything, anyway, if employers can so easily get away with violating it), then unemployment would be drastically reduced.

Racism is also a powerful motivator for minimum wage laws. Specifically, the minimum wage movement originated in both the racist South, by organizations run by Dixiecrats, and apartheid-era South Africa. The argument then? That if blacks could not be kept out of trades that should be "white-only", a minimum wage should be used to prevent less skilled blacks from undercutting whites by willingly taking a lower wage.

This same logic is used today as a way to prevent undocumented immigration, by making it "less profitable" for employers. With the unconstitutional power grab of the US Government to turn border security from regulating foreign commerce and preventing invasion into "keeping people out entirely", this is yet another tool of racism.

"Minimum-wage laws are one of the most powerful tools in the arsenal of racists." -- Dr. Walter E. Williams, June 13, 2002

Walter E. Willam's Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed On Discrimination? systematically demolishes the argument that government intervention in the economy helps the poor, especially the poor minority. It shows how much licensing laws, minimum wage laws, and forced unionization hurt the poor worker, who is more likely to belong to a minority group, by preventing them from getting a job, and thereby the experience and skills needed to be worth the higher wage or salary.

The minimum wage, while improving conditions for those that remain employed, causes far more unemployment. It is the single reason that youth unemployment is constantly around three times the national average. The vast majority of economists will tell you the minimum wage law costs the economy thousands of jobs. Minimum wage laws increase incentives for outsourcing jobs as well.

The minimum wage law is just another example of government condescendingly controlling our actions and destroying personal choice. Citizens do have the ability to say no to a lower wage. At the very least, $2/hour, or even $2/day, is far better than unemployment.

If the minimum wage actually helped the poor, why stop at $7.25? Why not $10? Or $20? Or even $100/hr? Because it does not help the poor. It limits the number of people that can be employed, and it limits entrepreneurship to the very wealthy, by increasing the cost of hiring unskilled labor.

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby Monika » Mon Jul 18, 2011 9:26 am UTC

Germany has no minimum wage, but has higher unemployment than the US.

Let's talk a bit about the Heritage Foundation:
Heritage's mission is to "formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense."
It significantly influences the US domestic and foreign policies:
- Under Reagan. Because of the "study" "Mandate for Leadership".
- Under Bush. They are (indirectly) responsible for the "preventive" attac on Iraq.
- Domestic: Privatization. Deregulation. Reduction of welfare.

It's unclear where they get their numbers on people who sometimes (9%) or regularly (2%) cannot feed themselves or their family comes from - it does not come from the census report they base the other numbers on (Census 2005).

It's telling that you and they think that 9% of the poor not having enough food on all days is okay and negligable, only the other 2% that often don't get enough food count and are thus really poor.
Did you know that even a very slight malnourishment results in problems in the brain development of young children? Problems that will result in the children losing their natural love to learn, will make it difficult to concentrate and generally impede them from being successful when they enter school?

You claim church charities give food to everybody. They don't. I have a US friend who dressed as a homeless person and tested a lot of charities for a study he did. The church charities asked the people: "Are you saved?" and if he answered no he was sent away with no food.
Another interesting bit he found out: None of the shelters let the people shower after 5:30 a.m. Not even for going to a job interview.

You mention that the vast majority of the poor are 18 to 25. While poverty in that age group is highest, it is not correct that the vast majority of poor are in this age group. From the 2005 census report, table 6:
under 18: 12.8 mio = 17.6% of all people under 18
18-24: 5 mio = 18.2% of all people in that age group
25-34: 4.9 mio = 12.6%
35-44: 4.1 mio = 9.7%
45-54: 3.5 mio = 8.2%
55-64: 2.6 mio = 8.4% with an increase after 60
65 and over: 3.6 mio = 10.1%
So poverty drops by a third, not down to a third for age 25-34.
And children are almost as likely as young adults to live in poverty.

You say: When you were ill you could take off a shift or two. Lucky you who never even got a real flu that would require you to stay in bed a week or 10 days. Maybe you got flu shots? Through your parents' health insurance? I see.
You say after a year people can't be fired for being seriously ill. (1) I know several (sometimes previously) non-poor US citizens who lost their jobs or came very close to losing their job due to serious illness. I expect the situation for the poor to be more difficult. (2) US minimum-wage employers are well-known for firing people right before they would get certain benefits (as well as for keeping the number of hours right below the line for getting certain benefits like health insurance).
You say employers keep their ill employees because they don't want to go through hiring and training others. (1) Unskilled jobs. What training? If you are ill for a week, they can train a new person in that time. (2) Read the book I linked to. What actually happens is this: They have wanted ads out all the time, even when they have no job openings. They interview the people, only to tell them there is no opening. They keep the contact information. When there is a real job opening, they call those people, many of those are still unemployed as they have been applying to lots of jobs that do nto exist, as the other minimum-wage employers play the same game.
Also remember that the reason you could afford unpaid sick leave was that you did not really need the money, first living at your parents', then of college loans. Imagine you were an adult, non-student, had a rent to pay and kids to feed. What do you do when you are ill for a week or two and your income for that month drops to 75% or 50% of what you usually earn and what just barely covers your living expenses? You are evicted after being late for 10 days with your rent payment. Maybe you even lost your job because your employer thinks missing more than one or two shifts is a reason for firing. Or you had an accident and could not call in to tell the employer that you would not show up, so he fired you on missing the first shift and hired someone else.

Let's talk about color TV sets. Not TV sets. Color TV sets. Let's go back to my social studies class in 1995. Our teacher gave us an article about a new jail that was being built. It mentioned that the inmates get color TVs. We were all outraged. Then our teacher talked with us about how the writer of the article manipulates us with these words. Black-and-white TVs are not produced and hardly to be had. The TV sets are also a miniscule amount in contrast to the building in general and the running costs of prisons. Furthermore media competence will be useful for the inmates when they leave the jail.

But let's get to the actual point.
You say: The capitalists can't exploit the poor. Everybody can say no to a job that pays less than what they think they are worth.
You also say: People should accept low-paying jobs instead of thinking of themselves beneath them and sitting around unemployed; even 2$ a day are worth working for (LOL).
How exactly do you manage to resolve your internal contradictions?
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collegestudent22
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby collegestudent22 » Mon Jul 18, 2011 11:51 am UTC

Monika wrote:Germany has no minimum wage, but has higher unemployment than the US.


Germany's average unemployment in 2010 was 6.8%. That is quite a bit lower than the US. And, again, the minimum wage is only a factor when industries are paying it, instead of a lower wage. Thus, its effects will not be seen as much in the aggregate economy, but in the employment of the poor and young.

Therefore, youth unemployment is a somewhat better statistic to look at. Germany has a youth-to-adult unemployment ratio of 1.3-to-1. The US is at over 2-to-1 youth unemployment vs. adult unemployment, with 19% youth unemployment. (Source: Chart of Q2 2010 OECD numbers by The Economist)

Thus, not only is the average unemployment lower in Germany, with its lack of a minimum wage, but youth unemployment is drastically lower. This video clearly shows the damage caused by price controls, including the minimum wage. The last half also shows how real wages, after adjusting for inflation, rose drastically in the US between 1980 and 1990, and even more between 1990 and 2006.

Also, despite not having a de jure minimum wage, assuming the first part of your statement isn't also wrong, welfare payments and trade union agreements binding on entire industries constitute de facto minimum wage(s), as no one will accept a job that pays less than merely existing as a citizen, and no one can offer or accept a wage less than the negotiated union wage in their industry. It's not quite as bad as a de jure minimum wage, but still affects employment.

Let's talk a bit about the Heritage Foundation:
Heritage's mission is to "formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense."
It significantly influences the US domestic and foreign policies:
- Under Reagan. Because of the "study" "Mandate for Leadership".
- Under Bush. They are (indirectly) responsible for the "preventive" attac on Iraq.
- Domestic: Privatization. Deregulation. Reduction of welfare.


That has absolutely nothing to do with the US Census statistics, nor the stats from the other growth. Statistics I got to support my argument were obtained from various government reports, but because they were compiled by an organization that happens to share some of my opinions, it is invalid?

That's basically individual censorship, and you are never going to learn anything by ignoring every statistic and fact that may support a conclusion other than the one you have drawn. I, on the other hand, am open to being shown that I am wrong, but I am waiting for your argument to consist of more than assumption, conjecture, and "my US friend did X and it was like this".

It's unclear where they get their numbers on people who sometimes (9%) or regularly (2%) cannot feed themselves or their family comes from - it does not come from the census report they base the other numbers on (Census 2005).


Charts in the report, specifically going over this, tell their source quite plainly: US Census Bureau, Survey of Income and Program Participation, 2001 Panel, Wave 8 Topical Module, 2003. (Charts 4 and 5, for reference.) Knowing these charts show similar information, the numbers are at the very least plausible, as they line up very neatly with the 2001 numbers, without checking the actual 2004 panel. The Census data from the 2004 panel is here, if you are willing to put the effort in to understand the format and everything.

It's telling that you and they think that 9% of the poor not having enough food on all days is okay and negligable, only the other 2% that often don't get enough food count and are thus really poor.


No, I'm saying that the 100% that are counted as poor are not all poor - only that some small fraction, those that cannot afford food and rent on a regular basis, could be considered truly poor, and we should focus on helping them. I maintain that the government is a poor way to do this, and can only do it by legalizing and engaging in theft, therefore the private market, through both secular and religious charity, are far more moral and effective ways to help the poor.

While real material hardship certainly does occur, it is limited in scope and severity. Most of America's "poor" live in material conditions that would be judged as comfortable or well-off just a few generations ago. Today, the expenditures per person of the lowest-income one-fifth (or quintile) of households equal those of the median American household in the early 1970s, after adjusting for inflation.


Did you know that even a very slight malnourishment results in problems in the brain development of young children?


Did you know that undernourishment is not a problem with America's poor? The report also goes over this. Specifically, it shows that the poor are typically just as supernourished as the wealthy (Table 4), and obesity is a problem among the "poor" just as much as the rich - actually more so among poor women of all races (Chart 3).

As a group, America's poor are far from being chronically undernourished. The average consumption of protein, vitamins, and minerals is virtually the same for poor and middle-class children and, in most cases, is well above recommended norms. Poor children actually consume more meat than do higher-income children and have average protein intakes 100 percent above recommended levels. Most poor children today are, in fact, supernourished and grow up to be, on average, one inch taller and 10 pounds heavier than the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II.


Stunted growth among poor children in the US is an incredibly low 2.6%, according to Table 5, citing WHO statistics.

You claim church charities give food to everybody. They don't. I have a US friend who dressed as a homeless person and tested a lot of charities for a study he did. The church charities asked the people: "Are you saved?" and if he answered no he was sent away with no food.


Where did he go? Westboro Baptist or some other nutjob cult masquerading as a legitimate church? I have claimed that I worked at these charities, specifically the Denver Rescue Mission and the Springs Rescue Mission in Colorado, as a volunteer. These charities provide food, clothing, shelter, transitional housing, and medical, educational, and rehabilitation programs free of charge, and without regard to religious beliefs. I have also worked at the St. Matthew's Cathedral Soup Kitchen in Laramie, Wyoming, despite not being Catholic. There no reference to religious affiliation was even asked of the individuals looking for a meal to eat.

Your unidentified "US friend" visiting unidentified charities, in some unidentified location of the US is not a counter-point. It's not even an argument, merely an anecdote, without even any specifics, unless I also know this friend and trust his word. As the reported behavior is highly inconsistent with both my experiences and basic Christian doctrine, it is quite dubious.

Even charities I worked at where we asked "Are you saved?" or some variation of proselytizing, was only after we had fed, and sometimes clothed, the individuals. If they responded "No", did nothing more than inform them of what we believe, with them free to stop us at any time. There were no restrictions placed upon the care provided. In fact, it was a GOOD thing when non-believers were given care, as it was an opportunity to reach them with the love of Christ.

As for controls on showering, I don't know about cutting it off at 0530 - that sounds a little far-fetched. That said, some limits on water usage are necessary due to the scarcity of water. Running water can be pretty expensive, especially for an organization running on donations, and therefore limits must be made. Limited space at each location is also doled out on a first come, first serve basis precisely because it is limited, and may not be enough for everyone that comes to that location. So what?

You say: When you were ill you could take off a shift or two. Lucky you who never even got a real flu that would require you to stay in bed a week or 10 days. Maybe you got flu shots? Through your parents' health insurance? I see.


Health insurance for flu shots? They are inexpensive, you know. Cost around $30. Besides, I haven't had one since I had a severe reaction a few years back.

The reason I was limited to a shift or two was because I was part-time - generally only working 15 hours a week. Full-time employees could take off more shifts, and even then there were not people working shifts scheduled every day consecutively. Often, if you got sick on, say, Monday, you would take off that shift, and maybe Tuesday, if you were still ill. You weren't scheduled to work Wednesday or Thursday, and if you were still ill on Friday, you took off again.

Even then, due to vaccines limiting transmission in public areas, the chance that someone would get such a debilitating flu or other illness is virtually non-existent in the First World.

Also remember that the reason you could afford unpaid sick leave was that you did not really need the money, first living at your parents', then of college grants. Imagine you were an adult, non-student, had a rent to pay and kids to feed.


1) Having kids is a choice. If you are struggling to pay for yourself, why are you having children, knowing that they require many more expenses? In the words of economist Walter E. Williams:

"Having children is not an act of God. It's not like you're walking down the street and pregnancy strikes you; children are a result of a conscious decision. For the most part, female-headed households are the result of short-sighted, self-destructive behavior of one or two people


The greatest percentage of poverty is found in female-headed households. Over 70 percent of female-headed households are poor. A large percentage of poor people are children (17 percent); fully 85 percent of black children living in poverty reside in a female-headed household.


The idea that a single mother is a "hero", instead of a colossal idiot, is to blame for much of poverty, especially that of children.

2) I am an adult, I have a rent to pay and food to buy, and I have no "college grants" that cover any of that. My student loans, which must be paid off after graduation, don't even cover the entirety of tuition and other school expenses, so college is currently a net expense for me.

You are evicted after being late for 10 days with your rent payment.


You are not. There are extensive legal proceedings to go through to evict someone for non-payment. Typically, this requires anywhere from 1 to 3 months after successive late or non-payments, depending on where in the US you are.

You say: The capitalists can't exploit the poor. Everybody can say no to a job that pays less than what they think they are worth.
You also say: People should accept low-paying jobs instead of thinking of themselves beneath them and sitting around unemployed; even 2$ a day are worth working for (LOL).
How exactly do you manage to resolve your internal contradictions?


I see no contradiction, though you might. Exploitation depends on paying someone less than the value of their labor. Unskilled labor has very little value. $2/day is not worth working for in the US (although it is in developing nations, often the best alternative), as it does not remotely cover possible expenses. However, there are many unemployed that won't take lower paying jobs than they originally had. Much of the time, this is someone who made $10/hr, got laid off, and won't accept something that pays, say, $8/hr. Or a minimum class worker that made $40K/yr, refusing to take $35K/yr.

Jobs don't even have to already exist. A college buddy of mine, being unable to find a job after the recession hit, started his own "business" by offering to wash windows for local stores. It doesn't pay very much, just above the minimum wage, but it is far better than being unemployed.

Fending for oneself, as on the frontier, is unheard of in the modern world. Perhaps it should not be. My friend did this by starting his own "business". I know quite a few people, being in Wyoming as I am, that make their living by hunting, and then selling some of the meat to local grocers or friends, or even in a stand.

Let's talk about color TV sets. Not TV sets. Color TV sets. Let's go back to my social studies class in 1995. Our teacher gave us an article about a new jail that was being built. It mentioned that the inmates get color TVs. We were all outraged. Then our teacher talked with us about how the writer of the article manipulates us with these words. Black-and-white TVs are not produced and hardly to be had. The TV sets are also a miniscule amount in contrast to the building in general and the running costs of prisons. Furthermore media competence will be useful for the inmates when they leave the jail.


It is true that "color" is added to increase the gut reaction to it. Regardless, the point still stands. The point about whether inmates should have access to TV still stands - whether you agree with it or not. Further, the point about the poor being able to purchase unnecessary luxury items, which happen to include televisions, is still relevant, even if you remove the word "color" and just talk about TVs. Although, IMO, the term is merely added in this context to specify that we aren't talking about poor individuals owning decades old television sets - these are fairly new TVs.

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby addams » Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:23 am UTC

Monika wrote:Germany has no minimum wage, but has higher unemployment than the US.

Let's talk a bit about the Heritage Foundation:
Heritage's mission is to "formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense."
It significantly influences the US domestic and foreign policies:
- Under Reagan. Because of the "study" "Mandate for Leadership".
- Under Bush. They are (indirectly) responsible for the "preventive" attac on Iraq.
- Domestic: Privatization. Deregulation. Reduction of welfare.

It's unclear where they get their numbers on people who sometimes (9%) or regularly (2%) cannot feed themselves or their family comes from - it does not come from the census report they base the other numbers on (Census 2005).

It's telling that you and they think that 9% of the poor not having enough food on all days is okay and negligable, only the other 2% that often don't get enough food count and are thus really poor.
Did you know that even a very slight malnourishment results in problems in the brain development of young children? Problems that will result in the children losing their natural love to learn, will make it difficult to concentrate and generally impede them from being successful when they enter school?

You claim church charities give food to everybody. They don't. I have a US friend who dressed as a homeless person and tested a lot of charities for a study he did. The church charities asked the people: "Are you saved?" and if he answered no he was sent away with no food.
Another interesting bit he found out: None of the shelters let the people shower after 5:30 a.m. Not even for going to a job interview.

You mention that the vast majority of the poor are 18 to 25. While poverty in that age group is highest, it is not correct that the vast majority of poor are in this age group. From the 2005 census report, table 6:
under 18: 12.8 mio = 17.6% of all people under 18
18-24: 5 mio = 18.2% of all people in that age group
25-34: 4.9 mio = 12.6%
35-44: 4.1 mio = 9.7%
45-54: 3.5 mio = 8.2%
55-64: 2.6 mio = 8.4% with an increase after 60
65 and over: 3.6 mio = 10.1%
So poverty drops by a third, not down to a third for age 25-34.
And children are almost as likely as young adults to live in poverty.

You say: When you were ill you could take off a shift or two. Lucky you who never even got a real flu that would require you to stay in bed a week or 10 days. Maybe you got flu shots? Through your parents' health insurance? I see.
You say after a year people can't be fired for being seriously ill. (1) I know several (sometimes previously) non-poor US citizens who lost their jobs or came very close to losing their job due to serious illness. I expect the situation for the poor to be more difficult. (2) US minimum-wage employers are well-known for firing people right before they would get certain benefits (as well as for keeping the number of hours right below the line for getting certain benefits like health insurance).
You say employers keep their ill employees because they don't want to go through hiring and training others. (1) Unskilled jobs. What training? If you are ill for a week, they can train a new person in that time. (2) Read the book I linked to. What actually happens is this: They have wanted ads out all the time, even when they have no job openings. They interview the people, only to tell them there is no opening. They keep the contact information. When there is a real job opening, they call those people, many of those are still unemployed as they have been applying to lots of jobs that do nto exist, as the other minimum-wage employers play the same game.
Also remember that the reason you could afford unpaid sick leave was that you did not really need the money, first living at your parents', then of college loans. Imagine you were an adult, non-student, had a rent to pay and kids to feed. What do you do when you are ill for a week or two and your income for that month drops to 75% or 50% of what you usually earn and what just barely covers your living expenses? You are evicted after being late for 10 days with your rent payment. Maybe you even lost your job because your employer thinks missing more than one or two shifts is a reason for firing. Or you had an accident and could not call in to tell the employer that you would not show up, so he fired you on missing the first shift and hired someone else.

Let's talk about color TV sets. Not TV sets. Color TV sets. Let's go back to my social studies class in 1995. Our teacher gave us an article about a new jail that was being built. It mentioned that the inmates get color TVs. We were all outraged. Then our teacher talked with us about how the writer of the article manipulates us with these words. Black-and-white TVs are not produced and hardly to be had. The TV sets are also a miniscule amount in contrast to the building in general and the running costs of prisons. Furthermore media competence will be useful for the inmates when they leave the jail.

But let's get to the actual point.
You say: The capitalists can't exploit the poor. Everybody can say no to a job that pays less than what they think they are worth.
You also say: People should accept low-paying jobs instead of thinking of themselves beneath them and sitting around unemployed; even 2$ a day are worth working for (LOL).
How exactly do you manage to resolve your internal contradictions?


Monkia;
Thank you for typing about this subject. I am in the US. I have seen such poverty, it is heartbreaking.
There are very few places for people to get any help at all. What was here twenty years ago is gone or greatly reduced.
Churches? Oh me yarm! There are lovely people in some of the Churches. There is no way for the churches to meet the need. There is a Mission near to where I live that is run by Christian standards. It is small and underfunded.
The things that I have seen and heard! It is complicated.
There are people dieing of hunger and exposure. We don't hear about it on the 24 hour news cycle? That does not mean that it is not happening.
It is not one or two. I am here. There are a great many people that can not find or buy food. Yes! We have men and women that crawl into the bushes along side the road and die. These men and women have become weak. Death from starvation does not happen all at once.
The will to live is strong. The poor are sometimes aggressive. The aggressive do O.K. There are sweet people that have being poor as the only crime that they have committed. It is true. It is like a nightmare.

I started picking up hitch hikers. Oh Dear God. I am so sorry that I can not do more to help. There was one man. I am fairly sure he did not make it. How could he? I feel so terrible. I let him get out of my car and walk away. He was so weak. He did not have adequate clothes. He was afraid to take money from me.

I asked at the gas station and at a hotel, "Is there a shelter in this town?"
I was told, "No."

How can we as a people be so indifferent to the suffering of others? Our poor people are more poor than ever. I have never before seen such poverty. The poor are ashamed. Some are aggressive. Most are embarrassed. When I listen to these men and women it breaks my heart. They attempt to understand what they have done wrong.
All humans are scientists. These very poor people are attempting to understand what went wrong so they can fix it.
Some are at fault. Some are not at fault. It really is that bad. The very poor are not pretty. They do not make for good TV.
I am caught in that terrible place. I have a clean warm place to live. If, I give all my money to the poor, then, I will be poor. There are more of them than there is of me. I would join their numbers and disappear like a rain drop in the ocean.
So, I pick up hitch hikers and feed them one by one. I listen to their stories. Some are 'on the road' by choice. Some are Assholes. I have stopped my car and put several out. But; The sweet ones? The ones that need help and have done no wrong? Why are Americans so selfish? What is wrong with us?!
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:37 am UTC

collegestudent22 wrote:If you live in the "vast rural areas", you also typically own relatively large amounts of land, and work that land as a farmer or rancher to make a living.
As someone who grew up in such a rural area, I can tell you this is every bit as much bullshit as most of the crap you claim. Rural poverty is a real thing, and the fact that more poor live in cities than in rural areas is mostly a simple function of the fact that more people in general live in cities than in rural areas.


including, nearly every single time, the individual's church.
Assuming, of course, that the individual in question is a Good Christian and has a church with whose social group they are in good standing.
Or a Muslim. Or a Jew. Or belonging to pretty much any religion. And, of course, many of these churches provide services to anyone
You said an individual's church would help them. The fact that non-church religious institutions exist and that they feed people who aren't members is completely irrelevant to that.

The vast majority of minimum wage workers, and the poor in general, are under the age of 25.
Minimum wage workers, perhaps. The poor in general, definitely not.
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby hawkinsssable » Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:12 pm UTC

collegestudent22 wrote:Statistics I got to support my argument were obtained from various government reports, but because they were compiled by an organization that happens to share some of my opinions, it is invalid?

So you think it's entirely valid to casually dismiss anything produced by the World Bank or the UN, simply because you "don't hold much stock" in them. Yet it's somehow invalid not to hold much stock in an agenda- driven think tank that RELIES on producing certain kinds of studies to maintain its image and funding?

On that note, I'd like to point out one thing about the Heritage Foundation report. It claims that the majority of poor children eat enough food, and that a higher proportion of the poor than the rich are obese. From here, the report (and you) conclude that the poor have a completely fine supply of food- after all, they can afford to stuff themselves to the point of obesity.

Yet many anti- poverty organisations define the problem as being able to afford "decent, healthy food", not food per se. And here are some interesting facts about food availability in low- income areas: the growth of supermarkets has drastically restricted other avenues of purchasing fruit, vegetables and healthy foods. Supermarkets are less likely to open in low- income areas than higher income areas. Even when they DO open in low- income areas, their prices are often higher, and they stock systematically less healthy food than in wealthier, white neighbourhoods (even though the mere availability of healthy food has been correlated with increased consumption of fruit and vegetables.) The problem, according to this analysis, is not that poor people generally don't get enough to eat. It's that the foods available in poor neighbourhoods are predominantly highly processed, fat saturated and unhealthy. Source: Raj Patel (2007), "Stuffed and Starved", chapters 8 and 9

It's also been established that here in Australia (sorry, no reference, read it in the paper) that it's much cheaper to eat unhealthily than to eat healthily.

This is all happening just below the surface of the supposedly comforting fact that obesity disproportionately impacts the poor. The relevant issues here have been grossly distorted, so that a cause for concern (the correlation between poverty and obesity) mutates into proof that the poor are doing just fine.

So yeah. I hold very little stock in the Heritage Foundation, or the Competitive Enterprise Institute, or Australia's Institute of Public Affairs, or any other agenda- driven think- tank. Their use of tactics of the kind I just described in order to reach the "right" conclusion is the reason why.

Speaking of distorting issues...

collegestudent22 wrote:Further, the point about the poor being able to purchase unnecessary luxury items, which happen to include televisions, is still relevant, even if you remove the word "color" and just talk about TVs. Although, IMO, the term is merely added in this context to specify that we aren't talking about poor individuals owning decades old television sets - these are fairly new TVs.


My local town's fire station have an annual jumble sale. I've gone to the last three. Every year, there's a wide range of cathode- ray colour televisions available. At the beginning of the day, they cost a gold coin donation. By the afternoon, they go FOR FREE. Including a whole range of sizes, definitions, and inputs. Often with remotes. They cost literally nothing. VCR's likewise go for free by the end of the day. If I wanted to, I could currently own 50 colour televisions, each with a VCR or DVD player, and it would have cost me literally nothing.

So the poor have colour televisions. What, exactly, does that prove? Literally nothing.

collegestudent22 wrote:Your unidentified "US friend" visiting unidentified charities, in some unidentified location of the US is not a counter-point. It's not even an argument, merely an anecdote, without even any specifics, unless I also know this friend and trust his word. As the reported behavior is highly inconsistent with both my experiences and basic Christian doctrine, it is quite dubious...

Limited space at each location is also doled out on a first come, first serve basis precisely because it is limited, and may not be enough for everyone that comes to that location. So what?


Firstly- The US is a big place. You've had one experience. Several posters in this thread have had another. Why exactly are you assuming that your own experiences are universal, and that everybody else must be lying to prove a point? And why exactly should I trust your anecdotes? I don't know you, and I see absolutely no reason to trust your word over Monika's or Addam's.
Secondly- We should rely on charity to meet peoples' needs, even though charities operate under certain limitations that mean that they can't meet everyone's needs?
Thirdly- You've been going on and on and on about how the poor are poor because of their own failings. They should just work the copious amounts of land they have (and sell the produce to... who? Large firms look for quantity and consistency, which small- scale producers are completely unequipped to provide), or go through the painfree and easy process of establishing a legal and profitable business. Or maybe the unemployed should just move somewhere else and find work there, maybe living under a bridge until they have a job that will lead somebody to approve them for rent. But let's just ignore for a second the dubious practicality of your prescriptions for unemployment. Let's ignore the effects social exclusion, race, and (untreated) mental illness have on a person's ability to find work. Let's ignore the negative correlation in Australia between low- cost housing and possibilities for employment. I'm going to ignore my fiancé's experiences as a social worker and a social work student and say, for the purpose of this argument, you're right! The poor are poor due to moral failings. They are lazy parasites selfishly refusing to do their share of work.

What possible reason do we have to treat these horrible people charitably?



Oh, and a final question: There are two sets of values you keep appealing to:
Firstly: Individual (negative) liberty is all- important, autonomy must be upheld over all else, and taxes are theft
Secondly: The poor should be helped. The best way to do this is through radical neoliberal economic reform of an extent that has never been done before[/list]

Which of these is more important to you?

Imagine a hypothetical scenario where you read a perfect post that manages to persuade you that neoliberal structural adjustment programs have increased poverty, unemployment and inequality almost everywhere they've been imposed. It even convinces you that Heckscher-Ohlin-Samuelson free trade theory is wrong, and it is gradual and strategic trade liberalisation of state- nurtured industries that has helped Britain, the United States, and the newly industrialised countries (NIC's) develop. Ultimately, you're left believing that economic policies of the type you've been advocating won't solve poverty in the US or elsewhere.

Would this change your mind, or does the value of autonomy and negative liberty override the value of eradicating poverty?
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby collegestudent22 » Wed Jul 20, 2011 4:13 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
including, nearly every single time, the individual's church.
Assuming, of course, that the individual in question is a Good Christian and has a church with whose social group they are in good standing.
Or a Muslim. Or a Jew. Or belonging to pretty much any religion. And, of course, many of these churches provide services to anyone
You said an individual's church would help them. The fact that non-church religious institutions exist and that they feed people who aren't members is completely irrelevant to that.


Pointing out that churches exist that aren't Christian, and that these churches provide services to any that come to the church (my definition of an "individual's church") for help, is quite relevant. Neither is the extension of my claim of charity that was not limited to churches - which was part of the primary statement. I find this trend of singling out a tiny portion of the overall statement to mischaracterize my arguments to be very disingenuous, by the way.

The vast majority of minimum wage workers, and the poor in general, are under the age of 25.
Minimum wage workers, perhaps. The poor in general, definitely not.


Look at the statistics again. Not only are individuals under 25 1.5x as likely as the next highest group to be poor, this group is also much larger than other age groups, at around 35% of the population. Using the stats given by the counter-argument here:

under 18: 12.8 mio = 17.6% of all people under 18
18-24: 5 mio = 18.2% of all people in that age group
25-34: 4.9 mio = 12.6%
35-44: 4.1 mio = 9.7%
45-54: 3.5 mio = 8.2%
55-64: 2.6 mio = 8.4% with an increase after 60
65 and over: 3.6 mio = 10.1%

About 18% of individuals under 25 are poor. Multiplied by 35% of the population, that amounts to 6.3% of the overall population. That amounts to nearly HALF of the overall poverty rate in the US, even before considering that the older a person is the more likely they have to accumulated the items that cause me to consider that estimate too high to be a good representation of actual poverty.

hawkinsssable wrote:
collegestudent22 wrote:Statistics I got to support my argument were obtained from various government reports, but because they were compiled by an organization that happens to share some of my opinions, it is invalid?

So you think it's entirely valid to casually dismiss anything produced by the World Bank or the UN, simply because you "don't hold much stock" in them. Yet it's somehow invalid not to hold much stock in an agenda- driven think tank that RELIES on producing certain kinds of studies to maintain its image and funding?


No, I find the UN and World Bank to be corrupt and power-hungry. Not just merely with an agenda, although it has one, and that does cause me to look twice at any original stats and studies. The report from the "agenda-driven think tank" gets it stats from government reports, mostly the US Census, where any agenda would be, by nature, the opposite of their limited government agenda at the think-tank.

On that note, I'd like to point out one thing about the Heritage Foundation report. It claims that the majority of poor children eat enough food, and that a higher proportion of the poor than the rich are obese. From here, the report (and you) conclude that the poor have a completely fine supply of food- after all, they can afford to stuff themselves to the point of obesity.


It also shows that the nutrient intakes for various nutrients is about the same between rich and poor. Furthermore, this admission that the poor have enough food is self-reported to the Census Bureau.

Yet many anti- poverty organisations define the problem as being able to afford "decent, healthy food", not food per se.


And here I am working off a definition of poverty that isn't changing with increased wealth. In addition, some "anti-poverty" organizations are merely socialist or communist egalitarian organizations that change the definition of poverty until it can only be eliminated by forcing individuals to have exactly the same economic status.

And here are some interesting facts about food availability in low- income areas: the growth of supermarkets has drastically restricted other avenues of purchasing fruit, vegetables and healthy foods. Supermarkets are less likely to open in low- income areas than higher income areas. Even when they DO open in low- income areas, their prices are often higher, and they stock systematically less healthy food than in wealthier, white neighbourhoods (even though the mere availability of healthy food has been correlated with increased consumption of fruit and vegetables.) The problem, according to this analysis, is not that poor people generally don't get enough to eat. It's that the foods available in poor neighbourhoods are predominantly highly processed, fat saturated and unhealthy. Source: Raj Patel (2007), "Stuffed and Starved", chapters 8 and 9


Supermarkets and stores such as Walmart do a lot to reduce the prices of all kinds of food, including "healthy" food - generally produce and meat. Any store that stocks fresh produce, dairy and meat cannot, by definition, be cutting out healthy options - these are the healthiest options that exist.

In addition, if the claim is that prices are higher in lower-income neighborhoods, I beg to differ. That claim defies both the concept of supply and demand (lower demand in smaller towns with less money has a price lowering effect) and the fact that prices are limited by competition. If the prices are higher, then the natural consequence is that competition will not be "dramatically reducing other avenues".

So yeah. I hold very little stock in the Heritage Foundation, or the Competitive Enterprise Institute, or Australia's Institute of Public Affairs, or any other agenda- driven think- tank. Their use of tactics of the kind I just described in order to reach the "right" conclusion is the reason why.


Check the report one more time, as it shows the supernutrition of the poor individuals, in various age groups.

collegestudent22 wrote:Further, the point about the poor being able to purchase unnecessary luxury items, which happen to include televisions, is still relevant, even if you remove the word "color" and just talk about TVs. Although, IMO, the term is merely added in this context to specify that we aren't talking about poor individuals owning decades old television sets - these are fairly new TVs.


My local town's fire station have an annual jumble sale. I've gone to the last three. Every year, there's a wide range of cathode- ray colour televisions available. At the beginning of the day, they cost a gold coin donation. By the afternoon, they go FOR FREE. Including a whole range of sizes, definitions, and inputs. Often with remotes. They cost literally nothing. VCR's likewise go for free by the end of the day. If I wanted to, I could currently own 50 colour televisions, each with a VCR or DVD player, and it would have cost me literally nothing.

So the poor have colour televisions. What, exactly, does that prove? Literally nothing.


Ah, so because your local town has a fire station that gives away old televisions for free, this must be a common occurrence, and it means nothing that the poor have TVs. At the very least, owning a television means that you have some living space to put it in (no need for a TV if you are LIVING IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER... ah, SNL), and the correlated cable/satellite monthly bill the poor indicates that not only do they have TVs, free or not, they can afford TV subscriptions.

collegestudent22 wrote:Your unidentified "US friend" visiting unidentified charities, in some unidentified location of the US is not a counter-point. It's not even an argument, merely an anecdote, without even any specifics, unless I also know this friend and trust his word. As the reported behavior is highly inconsistent with both my experiences and basic Christian doctrine, it is quite dubious...

Limited space at each location is also doled out on a first come, first serve basis precisely because it is limited, and may not be enough for everyone that comes to that location. So what?


Firstly- The US is a big place. You've had one experience. Several posters in this thread have had another. Why exactly are you assuming that your own experiences are universal, and that everybody else must be lying to prove a point? And why exactly should I trust your anecdotes? I don't know you, and I see absolutely no reason to trust your word over Monika's or Addam's.


I have put out various statistics, as well. Addam and Monika have none of that - they have only put forth anecdotes. I'm not saying that my anecdotes, on their own, hold any more weight than theirs - other than to show that, at the very least, theirs are not universal. But with the various statistics included, it paints a picture that should produce, at the very least, an argument that is plausible.

Secondly- We should rely on charity to meet peoples' needs, even though charities operate under certain limitations that mean that they can't meet everyone's needs?


The first lesson of economics is that resources are scarce. You cannot solve that by charity, government, or any other system, short of an invention of the Star Trek replicator. Because we have bunched up in cities, the problem of shelter exists - if the forests were free, and people lived near them, one could build their own shelter if necessary. (Note that it is the government that keeps those living near the forests homeless, in this scenario.)

Thirdly- You've been going on and on and on about how the poor are poor because of their own failings.


That's because some are. Much of the problem is also onerous government red tape and policies to "help".

Let's ignore the effects [...] race [...] [has] on a person's ability to find work.


Race has nothing to do with it. Read Walter E. William's Race and Economics, please. It shows how it is not discrimination by employers, but the unintended consequences of government policy that is the problem here.

The poor are poor due to moral failings. They are lazy parasites selfishly refusing to do their share of work.


That is a gross exaggeration of what I have said. Certainly, it describes some of the poor, but I would not call it a prevailing attitude. More importantly, poverty results because people are different - whether because of a lack of work ethic or something else, they are poor because they are not the same as those that become rich.

F.A. Hayek wrote:From the fact that people are very different it follows that, if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently. Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time


What possible reason do we have to treat these horrible people charitably?


They are still human beings, deserving of an individual's charity. This is, primarily, a religious belief for me. It has no bearing on my political beliefs, as charity and government action should be separate. Alternatively, even most atheists would agree that allowing poverty to be seen, without any individual action taken, is morally wrong. I contend that it is just as wrong to steal from someone else and appropriate that money, instead of your own, for the purpose of helping the poor.

This argument might apply to government, were government redistributive policies not legalized theft and violations of the equality of law.

F.A. Hayek wrote:any policy aiming directly at a substantive ideal of distributive justice must lead to the destruction of the Rule of Law.


Oh, and a final question: There are two sets of values you keep appealing to:
Firstly: Individual (negative) liberty is all- important, autonomy must be upheld over all else, and taxes are theft
Secondly: The poor should be helped. The best way to do this is through radical neoliberal economic reform of an extent that has never been done before[/list]

Which of these is more important to you?


Neoliberal? Neoliberal? What the hell does that mean? Actual liberalism is what I advocate. Not this "New Left" pseudo-socialism, masquerading as liberalism.

Imagine a hypothetical scenario where you read a perfect post that manages to persuade you that neoliberal structural adjustment programs have increased poverty, unemployment and inequality almost everywhere they've been imposed. It even convinces you that Heckscher-Ohlin-Samuelson free trade theory is wrong, and it is gradual and strategic trade liberalisation of state- nurtured industries that has helped Britain, the United States, and the newly industrialised countries (NIC's) develop. Ultimately, you're left believing that economic policies of the type you've been advocating won't solve poverty in the US or elsewhere.


A hypothetical scenario that says that, contrary to history, the US and Britain have been more liberalized over time, not less? That, contrary to common sense, it is not liberty - common to the history all successful nations - that has resulted in wealth, but servitude to government action? Impossible, but I'll bite.

Would this change your mind, or does the value of autonomy and negative liberty override the value of eradicating poverty?


The value of autonomy and negative liberty overrides the value of eradicating poverty. By a great degree. Because I know of one sure way of eradicating poverty - slavery. Everything you could possibly need would be provided for you, eliminating your poverty, in exchange only for you giving up all your liberty. If you would accept this bargain, please, let me know, and you can become my slave.

In the words of Patrick Henry, "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" As F.A. Hayek said, "The principle that the end justifies the means is in individualist ethics regarded as the denial of all morals. In collectivist ethics it becomes necessarily the supreme rule."

F.A. Hayek wrote:...if we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion.
[/quote]
Last edited by collegestudent22 on Wed Jul 20, 2011 10:00 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:07 am UTC

collegestudent22 wrote:They are still human beings, deserving of an individual's charity. This is, primarily, a religious belief for me. It has no bearing on my political beliefs, as charity and government action should be separate. Alternatively, even most atheists would agree that allowing poverty to be seen, without any individual action taken, is morally wrong. I contend that it is just as wrong to steal from someone else and appropriate that money, instead of your own, for the purpose of helping the poor.

This argument might apply to government, were government redistributive policies not legalized theft and violations of the equality of law.


A hypothetical question for you, inspired by this comment above:

If there were an organization in every way like what "progressives" (i.e. people the left-hand corner on the Nolan chart) want the government to be -- fully supportive of all personal freedoms but also aiming for economic equality through the provision of welfare in inverse proportion to income -- and this organization was not funded by taxes (as you say, legalized theft), would you support it?

That is to say, imagine there is an immense public charity organization providing all the services which modern left-liberals want the government to provide, but without any of the power of the state to regulate people's personal affairs, thus requiring it to get its funds for these services from somewhere besides legally requiring people to "donate" to it on threat of imprisonment. Never mind where that other source is, for now, just imagine it has one somewhere somehow. And it provides these charitable services on a sliding scale based on income; the poor get more services and the rich get fewer. Would you approve of it?
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby Kisama » Wed Jul 20, 2011 8:16 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:If there were an organization in every way like what "progressives" (i.e. people the left-hand corner on the Nolan chart) want the government to be -- fully supportive of all personal freedoms but also aiming for economic equality through the provision of welfare in inverse proportion to income -- and this organization was not funded by taxes (as you say, legalized theft), would you support it?
Please excuse me for cutting in here and answering a question that wasn't directed at me. Yes, this is almost exactly what I would advocate - charity organisation(s) funded by voluntary contributions replacing the Robin Hood of socialist/marxist/welfare statism. However I would favour a charity that, instead of simply allotting funds to individuals based on income, uses them more specifically to increase the self-sufficiency of struggling people (i.e. pay for education/training, pay for healthy food if that's an issue, pay for healthcare, help find job placements, etc. rather than handing out cash that may be misspent on superfluous luxuries).

If it's true that the majority of people want to help the poor, then voluntary contributions would be good enough (and if multiple charity organisations have to compete for donors by showing greater utility in improving the average standard of life, then I wouldn't be surprised to see them doing a much better job of it than governments do).
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby collegestudent22 » Wed Jul 20, 2011 8:54 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
collegestudent22 wrote:They are still human beings, deserving of an individual's charity. This is, primarily, a religious belief for me. It has no bearing on my political beliefs, as charity and government action should be separate. Alternatively, even most atheists would agree that allowing poverty to be seen, without any individual action taken, is morally wrong. I contend that it is just as wrong to steal from someone else and appropriate that money, instead of your own, for the purpose of helping the poor.

This argument might apply to government, were government redistributive policies not legalized theft and violations of the equality of law.


A hypothetical question for you, inspired by this comment above:

If there were an organization in every way like what "progressives" (i.e. people the left-hand corner on the Nolan chart) want the government to be -- fully supportive of all personal freedoms but also aiming for economic equality through the provision of welfare in inverse proportion to income -- and this organization was not funded by taxes (as you say, legalized theft), would you support it?

That is to say, imagine there is an immense public charity organization providing all the services which modern left-liberals want the government to provide, but without any of the power of the state to regulate people's personal affairs, thus requiring it to get its funds for these services from somewhere besides legally requiring people to "donate" to it on threat of imprisonment. Never mind where that other source is, for now, just imagine it has one somewhere somehow. And it provides these charitable services on a sliding scale based on income; the poor get more services and the rich get fewer. Would you approve of it?


If, as I understand it, this hypothetical organization gets its funding from voluntary action on the part of individuals and voluntary associations, then yes, I would, provided it did not merely fork over some money, but supplied necessary commodities for free or low-cost (depending on economic status) while providing training and education necessary for the individual to succeed on their own, and then, after having provided it forced the individual - as a requirement for continued help - to move towards, and eventually obtain, employment and reduction or elimination of the need for help.

Funding it by tax revenues, and putting it under the purview of the government, is the problem. The government's use of force to provide for something more than the protection of the right to property (and the rights to life and liberty, as an extension of the body as the property of the individual) is illegitimate.

In addition, as Hayek pointed out in The Road to Serfdom, government redistribution and economic planning cannot provide true material equality - just an enforced inequality, one that is actually likely to be worse (as it turned out in the USSR and Cuba) than the free market at the allocation of resources.

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby Monika » Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:07 am UTC

collegestudent22 wrote:
The vast majority of minimum wage workers, and the poor in general, are under the age of 25.
Minimum wage workers, perhaps. The poor in general, definitely not.


Look at the statistics again. Not only are individuals under 25 1.5x as likely as the next highest group to be poor, this group is also much larger than other age groups, at around 35% of the population. Using the stats given by the counter-argument here:

under 18: 12.8 mio = 17.6% of all people under 18
18-24: 5 mio = 18.2% of all people in that age group
25-34: 4.9 mio = 12.6%
35-44: 4.1 mio = 9.7%
45-54: 3.5 mio = 8.2%
55-64: 2.6 mio = 8.4% with an increase after 60
65 and over: 3.6 mio = 10.1%

About 18% of individuals under 25 are poor. Multiplied by 35% of the population, that amounts to 6.3% of the overall population. That amounts to nearly HALF of the overall poverty rate in the US[/quote]
I thought we were talking about adults under 25, i.e. the 18-24 age group, because those under 18 are for the most part not relevant to the "working at minimum wage" problem, as most minors do not work for a living.
So what we get is: 4.9/(5+4.9+4.1+3.5+2.6+3.6)=25.5%
But yes, many children are poor, as I pointed out previously (and you discarded as a bad decision of the parents to have these children). If we consider 0-24: (5+4.9)/(5+4.9+4.1+3.5+2.6+3.6)=41.7% But as I said above, there is not much reason to sum these groups up, as they would require completely different forms of intervention.
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby rattusprat » Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:41 pm UTC

collegestudent22 wrote:If, as I understand it, this hypothetical organization gets its funding from voluntary action on the part of individuals and voluntary associations, then yes, I would, provided it did not merely fork over some money, but supplied necessary commodities for free or low-cost (depending on economic status) while providing training and education necessary for the individual to succeed on their own, and then, after having provided it forced the individual - as a requirement for continued help - to move towards, and eventually obtain, employment and reduction or elimination of the need for help.

Funding it by tax revenues, and putting it under the purview of the government, is the problem. The government's use of force to provide for something more than the protection of the right to property (and the rights to life and liberty, as an extension of the body as the property of the individual) is illegitimate.


Let us imagine a country where the parilament and elected officials kept mostly out of the way, allowing the free market to operate, and as they don't do much worked in that role part time on a volunteer basis, charging no compulsary payments of it's citizens.
As above, let us imagine as part of the free market this country has a large organisation, named Government Inc., that conducts charitable work providing assistance to the poorest citizens, and also takes care of other things it is traditionally difficult to get a profit from, such as building and maintaining roads and other infrastructure for the common good, maintaining the law, etc. As this organisation struggles to make a direct profit, they get their funding from volunTAry eXpenditures made by citizens, with the custom of the country being that higher earners typically donate more than middle-low income earners.
If you lived in this country, I assume you would make at least some volunTAry eXpenditures to this organisation that, on the whole, serves the greater good. How much would you pay?

To ask the same question more directly, if the current system was altered slightly to make compulsary taxation by the government illegal, how much tax would you volunteer to pay in you tax return each year? Would it be the same percentage of your income in an economic downturn as in a boom?

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby hawkinsssable » Wed Jul 20, 2011 3:43 pm UTC

collegestudent22 wrote:In addition, as Hayek pointed out in The Road to Serfdom, government redistribution and economic planning cannot provide true material equality - just an enforced inequality, one that is actually likely to be worse (as it turned out in the USSR and Cuba) than the free market at the allocation of resources.


In the absence of major famine, plague or battle, never have so many lost so much in so short a time. By 1998, more than 80 percent of Russian farms had gone bankrupt, and roughly seventy thousand state factories had closed, creating an epidemic of unemployment. In 1989, before shock therapy [neoliberal economic reforms], 2 million people in the Russian Federation were living in poverty, on less than $4 per day. By the time the shock therapists [Chicago school economists] had administered their "bitter medicine" in the mid- nineties, 74 million Russians were living below the poverty line, according to the World Bank. That means that Russia's "economic reforms" can claim credit for the impoverishment of 72 million people in only eight years. By 1996, 25 percent of Russians- almost 37 million people- lived in poverty described as "desperate".
Klein (2008), "The Shock Doctrine", pp. 237- 238)

There are so many other things to respond to:
1. Your incorrect and, frankly, weird understanding of the term neoliberalism.
2. The premise that concern for negative liberty alone provides any grounds for preventing individuals from freely and autonomously choosing to work as a slave or bonded labourer (and how bringing positive liberty into it undermines your "government = slavery" metaphor.)
3. The irrelevance of consumption of protein (or any of the other small range of vitamins and minerals the Heritage study cites), to the correlation between poverty and obesity
4. The point that, no matter how you slant it, cathode ray colour televisions can be acquired VERY CHEAPLY or for free. And that so many of the other items listed are likewise irrelevant to any meaningful discussion of poverty. Telephones, for example, are hardly a luxury item if you want to be able to contact an employer.
5. I could get back to explaining the Marxist theory of value and contrast it with classical economics' limitations explaining the grounds for commodity prices in a monetised economy
6. And on that note, mention how a Marxist would point out that your charity model places the onus on the exploited to provide for the excluded, while freeing those who own the means of production to spend their money on, well, anything. The Heritage Foundation, maybe?
7. Or how your understanding of economic development is not exactly supported by history.
8. And ask you, honestly and genuinely, where exactly in this thread you posted the "various statistics" you've referred to that prove charities in the US operate widely enough and with enough resources to meet the needs of the impoverished. Because I've been under the impression that, for example, only 16.7% of Los Angeles County's homeless population is sheltered, and that deaths due to exposure aren't even unheard of.

But there’s not much point. Because according to you, the World Bank and UN are power- hungry, government reports and even statistics have illiberal biases, while anti- poverty organisations have insidious, concealed socialist or egalitarian agendas. And it goes without saying that socialists and egalitarians are too busy raping our women to say anything worthy of even the slightest attention.

The truth is the exclusive domain of classical (but not contemporary) economists, corporate- funded think- tanks and the business community. And, of course, the economic “common sense” you've developed accordingly.

You've very tidily insulated yourself from any information, opinions, theories, studies or facts that run contrary to your understanding of the world. That's probably good. Personally, I've changed what used to be some pretty deeply- held beliefs, and every time I did it's been unpleasant. But debating absolute beliefs is... absolutely futile.
Reason has always existed, but not always in a reasonable form.

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby philip1201 » Wed Jul 20, 2011 4:08 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Of course then the question is what really is productive or counterproductive toward the end in question -- e.g. whether liberalism or democracy are conductive toward obtaining the objective good -- but at this point I'm only arguing that it is pragmatically rational to assume that the end in question is attainable, somehow. We can't move forward with debating the best way to attain it until we've agreed on that.


I agree that we should search, but we can't rest in anarchy and hope this millennium is somehow more successful than the past three in getting us any answers. It's not like job hunting, where it's okay to wait and live on your unemployment benefits and/or savings. It's factually impossible for us to live in absence of morality, no matter how unjustified it may be. If I must answer within your analogy, it's as if you're starving and your friend asks why you're refusing to go beg on the streets, and you're saying you're waiting until somebody offers you the crown of England. Yes, it may be the worst job qualification match ever, it isn't even really a job, but it's that or die.

To quote what I said earlier:
philip1201 wrote:If there aren't objective moral standards, we act as though we don't know them, and we don't try to find them, we'll never know that we rightfully didn't waste our time.
If there aren't objective moral standards, we act as though we don't know them, and we do try to find them, we'll look forever but be sure we never acted on a falsehood (what I propose and expect).
If there aren't objective moral standards, we act as though we do know them, and we don't try to find them, we're delusional and will go to war with those we disagree with.
If there aren't objective moral standards, we act as though we do know them, and we do try to find them, we some day discover we are wrong and accept that those that disagree with us aren't insane after all.
If there are objective moral standards, we act as though we don't know them, and we don't try to find them, we'll have missed out a great deal and be stuck with unnecessary conflict.
If there are objective moral standards, we act as though we don't know them, and we do try to find them, we some day discover we are wrong and accept a higher universal standard (what I propose).
If there are objective moral standards, we act as though we do know them, and we don't try to find them, we're very likely to be wrong and won't accept arguments to convince us.
If there are objective moral standards, we act as though we do know them, and we do try to find them, we're very likely to be wrong but may be convinced after a while of doing things which are wrong.

So research away and try to find an absolute morality, just don't condemn us for not going along with something we don't know to be right.


Of course we must search for an objective morality, not even politicians are arguing against that, but we have to accept an alternative in the mean time. Given we can't prove or disprove the existence of a singular valid objective universal morality, we have to do research for what we must do if either of those possibilities is correct. All I'm saying is:

a. The null hypothesis is that there is no singular valid objective universal morality (until we have proven that one exists, we should believe there isn't).
b. Assuming there is no singular valid useable objective universal morality, democratic morality is best by human standards.
c. The assumption there is no singular valid useable objective universal morality reduces our ability to search for a singular valid useable objective universal morality less than not making that assumption. (because that assumption is necessary for a civilization to exist).

I think there are only two things we need to discuss:

1. Whether (a) above is correct - how likely it is that there is or isn't a singular useable objective universal morality.
2. Assuming there is a singular useable objective universal morality, how do we find it and what is it?

About (1), I have the position (a) because morality, as far as I can tell, is simply derived from the (human) mind and evolutionary necessity, partially morphed by culture and change of the human condition. The existence of morality in no way requires the existence of an absolute morality, so if that absolute morality exists it would mostly be coincidence.
(2) is either you expounding and me being skeptical a lot, or it's an open question which should be treated in accordance with (a,b,c).

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby Mordrorru » Wed Jul 20, 2011 10:09 pm UTC

philip1201 wrote:I think there are only two things we need to discuss:

1. Whether (a) above is correct - how likely it is that there is or isn't a singular useable objective universal morality.
2. Assuming there is a singular useable objective universal morality, how do we find it and what is it?

About (1), I have the position (a) because morality, as far as I can tell, is simply derived from the (human) mind and evolutionary necessity, partially morphed by culture and change of the human condition. The existence of morality in no way requires the existence of an absolute morality, so if that absolute morality exists it would mostly be coincidence.
(2) is either you expounding and me being skeptical a lot, or it's an open question which should be treated in accordance with (a,b,c).


I think any appeal to an objective, universal morality would have to be to something beyond ourselves. This is why most religions require an omnipotent and perfect God to dictate morality, as only such a being could truly be in a position to know what that was.

Anything else, such as a purely empiricist or materialistic view, most likely involving atheism (in the absence of a manifestly omnipotent and perfect being physically present in our universe) would necessitate subjective morality.

In the absence of a supreme and perfect arbiter to tell us what morality is, what is the best way to integrate morality into our societies and lives?

If it's by "democratic" processes, that leaves open the possibility of a tyranny of the majority. If enough people say something is moral, does that make it moral? Most people would say no.
On the other hand, if it's an "authoritarian" process, with some kind of enlightened teacher saying what is right and wrong, you just have the same problem but on a smaller scale. Just because this guy who claims to have knowledge or enlightenment says something, does that make it true? And in any case, people still need to accept his teachings, in effect "voting" for his morality and bringing us back to where we started.

What it comes down to in all cases is that, is that in the absence of a knowable, objective morality, all morality comes down to one thing: what is moral is what is enforced by force, whether that's from social pressure or from actual threats of physical violence.

Such a picture doesn't really jive with the sort of rosy Humanistic ideals of human rights and dignity, 'universal principals" and all that.

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby addams » Thu Jul 21, 2011 3:07 am UTC

You wrote:

Such a picture doesn't really jive with the sort of rosy Humanistic ideals of human rights and dignity, 'universal principals" and all that.

The ideals of human rights and dignity are important. We fail. Yet, there is something important to having high ideals.

We are human. We can imagine a wonderful world. We are able, when working together, to ease suffering and bring joy to other humans.
It is disgusting to me when rich people argue that the poor, 'have it coming'.
On the radio and on the TV I have seen people making the claim that beggars on street corners are all con men. The claim is that beggars are making more than working professionals. It is, just, not true.

That kind of meme makes it easy to walk away from the sick and the hungry.
We need a new meme that tells us that we responsible for the care of others.
Then intelligent people that also have moral authority can work together to make bring Justice into the world. We must work together.

The State is made up of people, flesh and blood people. We must work together and there is an element of trust. We must be able to trust one another.

This is very depressing. That one poster said that he expects the poor and the homeless to start washing windows. Good Grief! That is a poor quality idea.

It would be an O.K. idea, if, we paid these men and women and paid for instruction and paid for supervision.

Oh. I forgot where I am typing. This thread is getting very serous. I was reminded of something.
Here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNCaAUlENYs
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Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
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Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby collegestudent22 » Thu Jul 21, 2011 5:56 am UTC

Monika wrote:there is not much reason to sum these groups up, as they would require completely different forms of intervention.


You reached the same statistics as I did (41.7% of the poor is about 6.3% of the general population), so I will only address this.

Most poor children are in female-headed households. (Single mothers) These single mothers also tend to be very young. From the Heritage report in 2004, based on the 2001-2003 Census data:

Nearly twothirds of poor children reside in singleparent homes; each year, an additional 1.3 million children are born out of wedlock. Increasing marriage would substantially reduce child poverty: If poor mothers married the fathers of their children, almost threequarters would immediately be lifted out of poverty.


In addition, the welfare reform in the 1990s that required individuals on welfare to seek and obtain employment drastically reduced child poverty in the US.

after reform was enacted, the poverty rate [of children in singlemother families] dropped in an unprecedented fashion, falling from 53.1 percent in 1995 to 39.8 percent in 2001.


So, really, to curb child poverty, the single most important action that can be taken is to stop glorifying the choice of the women who have "unplanned" pregnancies to remain single. To stop naming single mothers "unsung heroes" or "aspiring heroes", for making a choice that is almost guaranteed to result in sustained poverty for both the mother and her children.

On the radio and on the TV I have seen people making the claim that beggars on street corners are all con men. The claim is that beggars are making more than working professionals. It is, just, not true.


Beggars on the street are commonly con men. Often in America, some will take advantage of the charity of the people. I have seen "beggars" with cell phones and iPods. I have seen beggars on television that will beg for a few hours until they feel they have made enough, only to return to their house, clean themselves up, and go to the bar. John Stossel did a program recently that showed this problem - he even dressed himself as a beggar and made over $8/hr by panhandling in NYC. These are occurrences that happen.

This is very depressing. That one poster said that he expects the poor and the homeless to start washing windows. Good Grief! That is a poor quality idea.

It would be an O.K. idea, if, we paid these men and women and paid for instruction and paid for supervision.


You need instruction on how to wash windows? And supervision is necessary only if you accept the idea that the impoverished and unemployed are morally bankrupt. Entrepreneurship in America doesn't always require a lot of money - unless you are in the cities, where corporate interest has made it much more difficult to start a new business.

What it comes down to in all cases is that, is that in the absence of a knowable, objective morality, all morality comes down to one thing: what is moral is what is enforced by force, whether that's from social pressure or from actual threats of physical violence.


If this is the case, the best alternative is the one that minimizes the use of force to dictate what is moral - liberalism (in the 19th century sense), is it not?

hawkinsssable wrote:
collegestudent22 wrote:In addition, as Hayek pointed out in The Road to Serfdom, government redistribution and economic planning cannot provide true material equality - just an enforced inequality, one that is actually likely to be worse (as it turned out in the USSR and Cuba) than the free market at the allocation of resources.


In the absence of major famine, plague or battle, never have so many lost so much in so short a time. By 1998, more than 80 percent of Russian farms had gone bankrupt, and roughly seventy thousand state factories had closed, creating an epidemic of unemployment. In 1989, before shock therapy [neoliberal economic reforms], 2 million people in the Russian Federation were living in poverty, on less than $4 per day.


Oh, that's a good one. Only 2 million people living in the Russian Federation were poor in 1989? Probably because most of them were still living under the USSR, given that the Russian Federation did not exist yet, having been created in 1991. I'm sure that all the statistics coming out of the USSR are totally right, though. We should give them no second thought.

Furthermore, I never claimed that the transition between socialism and capitalism would be magically fixing everything all at once. Any major change is a rough one, and I don't recall ever advocating for abrupt removal of all government influence - especially given how difficult that is. The process in the USSR was quite corrupt as well.

There are so many other things to respond to:
1. Your incorrect and, frankly, [i]weird understanding of the term neoliberalism.


No, it is your misunderstanding of what I advocate here that is the problem. I was saying that I was not for neoliberal economic reform - I am for classical liberalism politically, which necessitates a free-market approach to economics. If I adhere closely to any particular school of economics, I would think I am closest to the Austrian school, not that of Chicago.

2. The premise that concern for negative liberty alone provides any grounds for preventing individuals from freely and autonomously choosing to work as a slave or bonded labourer (and how bringing positive liberty into it undermines your "government = slavery" metaphor.)


Positive liberty is a misnomer - it is completely at odds with the concept of liberty. Defining something as its exact opposite (liberal now means "anti-conservative" or Progressive, liberty now supposedly means freedom to, instead of freedom from, etc.) seems to be a common tactic to negate any real debate.

My concept does not preclude voluntary servitude (with the understanding that this can be ended at will). This would be employment where instead of money, you are paid with certain, agreed upon necessities being met. The problem is the use of government force - government does not allow voluntary anything. Slavery is not voluntary. Indentured servitude, on the other hand, is. I'll let you guess at which I think is fine.

3. The irrelevance of consumption of protein (or any of the other small range of vitamins and minerals the Heritage study cites), to the correlation between poverty and obesity


It's a far more extensive list than most "nutrition facts" blurbs. Furthermore, the point was that they were more likely to be obese because they must eat unhealthy food. Unhealthy food does not provide as much nutrients - so that would be reflected in the nutrient counts. Instead, the nutrient counts are about the same, regardless of wealth.

4. The point that, no matter how you slant it, cathode ray colour televisions can be acquired VERY CHEAPLY or for free. And that so many of the other items listed are likewise irrelevant to any meaningful discussion of poverty. Telephones, for example, are hardly a luxury item if you want to be able to contact an employer.


The point is not the televisions. It is the related cable bills - the monthly, completely unnecessary expense of $40+ so you can watch House or CSI is NOT needed, and would not be bought by someone who is in "desperate poverty".

5. I could get back to explaining the Marxist theory of value and contrast it with classical economics' limitations explaining the grounds for commodity prices in a monetised economy


And I would like that, were it relevant. Instead, I am saying that both the Marxist labor theory of value and the classical economics theories were wrong - that value is entirely subjective. This is not a classical idea. Adam Smith and his contemporaries did not recognize that value is entirely subjective - that something is not inherently valuable.

6. And on that note, mention how a Marxist would point out that your charity model places the onus on the exploited to provide for the excluded, while freeing those who own the means of production to spend their money on, well, anything.


Much charity is done by the "evil" rich capitalist. The Rockefeller Foundation, The Gates Foundation, etc., all provide charity for the poor and excluded, as well as funds for the study of prevention of disease and increase of food supply. Further, capitalism is based upon providing goods to those that need or want them, and has thus resulted in a much improved standard of living for both the poor and the wealthy.

7. Or how your understanding of economic development is not exactly supported by history.


One book on history, written and I'm supposed to throw out all my own studies, and my own conclusions? Thank you, but I think I'll pass. The fact of the matter is, even a cursory look at the world today shows that the economically free countries are the wealthy ones, and the ones without freedom, the ones with tyranny, resulted in widespread poverty. Even in China, it is economic liberalization, combined with the piggy-backing on technology that was invented previously in other countries, that allows for the economy to grow so fast.

8. And ask you, honestly and genuinely, where exactly in this thread you posted the "various statistics" you've referred to that prove charities in the US operate widely enough and with enough resources to meet the needs of the impoverished. Because I've been under the impression that, for example, only 16.7% of Los Angeles County's homeless population is sheltered, and that deaths due to exposure aren't even unheard of.


I never made that claim. I will, however, point out that if this is the case, why isn't your "government safety net" doing anything about it? This is just as much a failure of my ideas as yours. More so, yours, in my estimation, as LA (and other cities) tend to be far more likely to believe that its the government's job to help, not charities.

But there’s not much point. Because according to you, the World Bank and UN are power- hungry, government reports and even statistics have illiberal biases, while anti- poverty organisations have insidious, concealed socialist or egalitarian agendas.


Yes, I claimed that government agencies and super-government organizations are corrupt and power-hungry. Is that news to you? It is one of the biggest problems with solving global poverty - the corruption of dictators and economic controllers.

Some anti-poverty organizations do have socialist agendas - specifically the ones that call for the government to make everyone "fair". Most of them don't explicitly call themselves anti-poverty organizations, though, so I will give you that. They call themselves "community organizers".

The truth is the exclusive domain of classical (but not contemporary) economists, corporate- funded think- tanks and the business community. And, of course, the economic “common sense” you've developed accordingly.


Classical, but not contemporary? Because I don't also think that contemporary economists get it right? Hayek, who I have quoted extensively, is pretty contemporary - certainly not classical in the sense of Adam Smith. If that isn't contemporary enough for you, I also tend to agree with the economists at the CATO institute. But they are at a "corporate-funded think-tank", and that means they aren't "real" economists, right?

How about Don Boudreaux, Christopher Coyne and Bryan Caplan at George Mason University? Art Carden at Rhodes College? Antony Davies at Duquesne University? Steven Horowitz at St. Lawrence University? Benjamin Powell at Suffolk University? Thomas Sowell? Walter E. Williams? Or do they not count now for some other reason?

I do, however, disregard any appeal to time - any argument that the classical thinkers must be wrong on liberty or economics merely because they wrote a long time ago. That is preposterous.

You've very tidily insulated yourself from any information, opinions, theories, studies or facts that run contrary to your understanding of the world.


Nonsense. If I had done that, I would never have read any Marx, and I wouldn't have read any of Keynes. I determined that I disagreed with it, as it seemed to be a weak argument to me, but I read it with an open mind. I would not have read Adam Smith or Thomas Paine. I would not have read Locke or Rousseau. Nor would I have read anything from Ayn Rand or the Ronpaul. I would be, still, a conservative - a defender of the status quo for the sake of nostalgia and fear of change, as my parents are.

Instead, I have become a liberal, in the original sense of the word. I don't believe in a vision for Utopia, where poverty and other social issues are solved. I believe strongly in the value of liberty. In the words of Frédéric Bastiat:

It seems to me that this is theoretically right, for whatever the question under discussion—whether religious, philosophical, political, or economic; whether it concerns prosperity, morality, equality, right, justice, progress, responsibility, cooperation, property, labor, trade, capital, wages, taxes, population, finance, or government—at whatever point on the scientific horizon I begin my researches, I invariably reach this one conclusion: The solution to the problems of human relationships is to be found in liberty.

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby mojacardave » Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:56 am UTC

BlitzGirl wrote:I get the conceit behind this but that meme is practically mummified by now. The little fake discussion between the "group of Americans" making the map was amusing, though.

Isn't world geography a mandatory part of the curriculum these days in the U.S.? I remember in high school we had to literally memorize the world map, and take a multi-part exam where we had to identify the countries and features like the tallest mountains, major rivers, etc. That was six or seven years ago, and I think I would still manage a lot more detail than this map...so I think it's not unreasonable that a random sampling of Americans could produce something like Randall's creation.


World geography is a mandatory part of the curriculum in almost every high school in almost every country in the world. So is long division, and the difference between 'have' and 'of'. Just beacause people are taught something, doesn't mean they know something...

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby hawkinsssable » Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:49 am UTC

Oh, that's a good one. Only 2 million people living in the Russian Federation were poor in 1989? Probably because most of them were still living under the USSR, given that the Russian Federation did not exist yet, having been created in 1991. I'm sure that all the statistics coming out of the USSR are totally right, though. We should give them no second thought.


Klein references 6 sources for those statistics, drawn from academia, the media, the government of the Russian federation, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

On that note, your criticism of Raj Patel's book would be strengthened by addressing the various studies he used to support each of his assertions, rather than holding that his arguments are disproved by economic concepts and theory.

No, it is your misunderstanding of what I advocate here that is the problem. I was saying that I was not for neoliberal economic reform - I am for classical liberalism politically, which necessitates a free-market approach to economics. If I adhere closely to any particular school of economics, I would think I am closest to the Austrian school, not that of Chicago.


Original quote: "Neoliberal? Neoliberal? What the hell does that mean? .... 'New Left' pseudo-socialism, masquerading as liberalism".

Hayeck, by the way, very much belonged to the Chicago School of Economics.

It's a far more extensive list than most "nutrition facts" blurbs. Furthermore, the point was that they were more likely to be obese because they must eat unhealthy food. Unhealthy food does not provide as much nutrients - so that would be reflected in the nutrient counts. Instead, the nutrient counts are about the same, regardless of wealth.


Energy density and energy costs are the relevant factors, and you haven't yet engaged with them once (possibly due to your over- reliance on the Heritage Foundation study).

The point is not the televisions. It is the related cable bills - the monthly, completely unnecessary expense of $40+ so you can watch House or CSI is NOT needed, and would not be bought by someone who is in "desperate poverty".


Original quote: "the point is about the poor being able to purchase unnecessary luxury items, which happen to include televisions".

The fact of the matter is, even a cursory look at the world today shows that the economically free countries are the wealthy ones, and the ones without freedom, the ones with tyranny, resulted in widespread poverty.


Off the top of my head, here are some relevant case studies: Chile under Pinochet (and Latin America in the 70's in general); Poland in the 1980's (and a whole range of Eastern European countries); post- apartheid South Africa; current Ireland. Post- soviet Russia. The countries involved in the HIPC debt reduction programs. And, of course, there's the author (Ha- Joon Chang) I've linked to a few times, who very persuasively argues that the correlation between liberalisation and (overall) wealth is the consequence of strategically liberalising different sectors after they've been able to develop industries that can be competitive internationally. Which is entirely hidden if you just have a "cursory look" at the world and draw sweeping conclusions.

But you've already said that it wouldn't make you "throw out all my own studies, and my own conclusions", presumably no matter how persuasively it's argued. So on we go.

where exactly in this thread you posted the "various statistics" you've referred to that prove charities in the US operate widely enough and with enough resources to meet the needs of the impoverished.

I never made that claim.


And yet...

[quote=collegestudent22][quote=hawkinsssable][quote=collegestudent22]Your unidentified "US friend" visiting unidentified charities, in some unidentified location of the US is not a counter-point. It's not even an argument, merely an anecdote, without even any specifics, unless I also know this friend and trust his word. As the reported behavior is highly inconsistent with both my experiences and basic Christian doctrine, it is quite dubious...

Limited space at each location is also doled out on a first come, first serve basis precisely because it is limited, and may not be enough for everyone that comes to that location. So what?[/quote]

Firstly- The US is a big place. You've had one experience. Several posters in this thread have had another. Why exactly are you assuming that your own experiences are universal, and that everybody else must be lying to prove a point? And why exactly should I trust your anecdotes? I don't know you, and I see absolutely no reason to trust your word over Monika's or Addam's. [/quote]

I have put out various statistics, as well. Addam and Monika have none of that - they have only put forth anecdotes. I'm not saying that my anecdotes, on their own, hold any more weight than theirs - other than to show that, at the very least, theirs are not universal. But with the various statistics included, it paints a picture that should produce, at the very least, an argument that is plausible.[/quote]

I will, however, point out that if this is the case, why isn't your "government safety net" doing anything about it? This is just as much a failure of my ideas as yours. More so, yours, in my estimation, as LA (and other cities) tend to be far more likely to believe that its the government's job to help, not charities.


Who here has argued that the American welfare state is doing even an adequate job? There's a lot of discussion in the political mainstream about the constraints placed on political parties, the ability of well- funded special- interest groups to generate enough flak to compromise the democratic process. Still in the mainstream, there are criticisms of agendas in the media (i.e. our source of political information), and the constraints according to which media has to run in order to become successful. There are even, here and there, criticisms of the values politicians have to internalise to become successful. Outside of the political mainstream, Marxists and Anarchists both agree that governments are reactionary and should be overthrown.

It takes a lot of time, effort, grassroots activism and- often- expensive awareness- raising campaigns to get the government to recognise any kind of welfare issues.

Who are these straw men who go around claiming that the current US (or Australian) welfare system is a success?

Some anti-poverty organizations do have socialist agendas - specifically the ones that call for the government to make everyone "fair". Most of them don't explicitly call themselves anti-poverty organizations, though, so I will give you that. They call themselves "community organizers".


I loled irl.
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby addams » Thu Jul 21, 2011 1:34 pm UTC

On the radio and on the TV I have seen people making the claim that beggars on street corners are all con men. The claim is that beggars are making more than working professionals. It is, just, not true.



Beggars on the street are commonly con men. Often in America, some will take advantage of the charity of the people. I have seen "beggars" with cell phones and iPods. I have seen beggars on television that will beg for a few hours until they feel they have made enough, only to return to their house, clean themselves up, and go to the bar. John Stossel did a program recently that showed this problem - he even dressed himself as a beggar and made over $8/hr by panhandling in NYC. These are occurrences that happen.

Really!? A whole $8.00. Now, what we need is for Jon Stossel to show us how he lives on $8.00.
That is $8.00/day? How does he do it?
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby hawkinsssable » Thu Jul 21, 2011 4:51 pm UTC

addams wrote:Now, what we need is for Jon Stossel to show us how he lives on $8.00.
That is $8.00/day? How does he do it?


Actually, collegestudent22 was saying $8 an hour (which presumably only applies during busy times at busy locations)- which could add up to a whole luxurious $46 a day, if you can find 6 hours where there are enough passers- by. (Maybe pre- work, lunch break, and after work?)

But that's missing the point. Begging is incredibly demeaning. It involves performing your poverty to try that you're worthy of other people's charity. Not worthy of as a matter of justice, but worthy as a matter of charity.

So the homeless and the beggars here in Melbourne, Australia never, ever look anybody in the eye. Even when I give them my spare change, they'll only say "thank you" or "really, thank you" or "thank you so much" or something else to show how pathetically grateful they are, without lifting their eyes off the pavement.

They obviously never beg in groups, or talk to anybody while they're begging, or do anything other than sit, almost completely still, slouched over, staring at the pavement. You can't be social while you're begging, or give any indication that your life is in any way pleasant, because that compromises your performance- you have to prove how miserable you are to get anything done.

The same thing is also true of impoverished communities in Australia who want to attract some form of welfare- they have to constantly perform how miserable and impoverished they are in order to attract any media or government attention.

It's insulting and demeaning and tragic, and I personally believe that the only reason somebody like Jon Stossel can beg on the streets is because they can keep their performance of poverty conceptually separate from the rest of their lives. After all, they're not *really* that desperate and powerless- they're doing it so they can write a neat little libertarian column in the newspaper. They don't need to beg on the streets. It's an act. They're better than that.
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby addams » Thu Jul 21, 2011 6:48 pm UTC

hawkinsssable wrote:
addams wrote:Now, what we need is for Jon Stossel to show us how he lives on $8.00.
That is $8.00/day? How does he do it?


Actually, collegestudent22 was saying $8 an hour (which presumably only applies during busy times at busy locations)- which could add up to a whole luxurious $46 a day, if you can find 6 hours where there are enough passers- by. (Maybe pre- work, lunch break, and after work?)

But that's missing the point. Begging is incredibly demeaning. It involves performing your poverty to try that you're worthy of other people's charity. Not worthy of as a matter of justice, but worthy as a matter of charity.

So the homeless and the beggars here in Melbourne, Australia never, ever look anybody in the eye. Even when I give them my spare change, they'll only say "thank you" or "really, thank you" or "thank you so much" or something else to show how pathetically grateful they are, without lifting their eyes off the pavement.

They obviously never beg in groups, or talk to anybody while they're begging, or do anything other than sit, almost completely still, slouched over, staring at the pavement. You can't be social while you're begging, or give any indication that your life is in any way pleasant, because that compromises your performance- you have to prove how miserable you are to get anything done.

The same thing is also true of impoverished communities in Australia who want to attract some form of welfare- they have to constantly perform how miserable and impoverished they are in order to attract any media or government attention.

It's insulting and demeaning and tragic, and I personally believe that the only reason somebody like Jon Stossel can beg on the streets is because they can keep their performance of poverty conceptually separate from the rest of their lives. After all, they're not *really* that desperate and powerless- they're doing it so they can write a neat little libertarian column in the newspaper. They don't need to beg on the streets. It's an act. They're better than that.


I agree with you.
It is humiliating for people to have to beg. It is humiliating.
It is wrong that we are so selfish.
There are men and women that either can't beg or won't beg. Those people are dieing. It is true.
Yes. It is also true that this little planet may have a surplus of humans.
To allow our brothers and sisters to die in misery is, just, wrong.

We can and should have higher standards than that.
The united states has many wealthy people. There is a surplus for many.

For the State to step in and set standards is good and proper. The money? Well; The worth of the money can change very quickly.
It is good for people that have skills to use those skills. It is good for the poor to be treated with dignity. It is good for all to have a sense of collective well being.

It is possible. We do have the means! We lack the will.
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby collegestudent22 » Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:17 pm UTC

hawkinsssable wrote:Hayeck, by the way, very much belonged to the Chicago School of Economics.


So, not only did you misspell his name, you ignored your own source, which stated "Hayek is not considered a member of the Chicago School". Hayek was a member of the Austrian School of Economics, following in the footsteps of his mentors, including Ludwig von Mises.

The point is not the televisions. It is the related cable bills - the monthly, completely unnecessary expense of $40+ so you can watch House or CSI is NOT needed, and would not be bought by someone who is in "desperate poverty".


Original quote: "the point is about the poor being able to purchase unnecessary luxury items, which happen to include televisions".


Is there a conflict here? Many of the luxury items in question are not "cheap or free", and televisions might be free - but they incur additional costs beyond just the TV set, such as cable bills. Here is a graph of these luxuries according to the Department of Energy:

Image

Notice that the necessary survival items, including refrigerators and stove/ovens, are owned by almost 100% of the "poor".

strategically liberalising different sectors after they've been able to develop industries that can be competitive internationally.


That's right, because automobiles were done this way. Oh, wait - no they weren't. In fact, they were more liberal when they started than now. Well, the oil industry started this way, right? Nope, again, this was an individual entrepreneurial effort that started the industry. Computer technology? Nope, neither Microsoft or Apple were part of an illiberal industry at any point in time. The greatest innovation has been done in liberal industries - not government controlled or planned ones.

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby addams » Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:55 pm UTC

First; The desperately poor do not have four walls and a roof. Let alone all that other stuff. The very poor disappear. I talk to these people. Many have no one. Some have nothing more than the clothes that they are wearing.
The individual stories are heart breaking. The poor are sometimes mean to other poor. It is not uncommon to hear that homeless people are afraid to use homeless shelters. There are examples of the very poor that have had their backpacks stolen by other poor people.

I am certain that it is the place of the State to provide the peace of mind that comes from knowing that we are a good and just people. If, we were a good and just people, then, we would use our vast resources to provide dignified ways and means for our people.

What good is all our collective education? If, we can not use it?

Of course there will be mistakes. Of course, there will be poor people that have had help that will not be helpful. This should not stop the rest of us.

We are a wealthy nation. The churches can not provide for the wave of poverty that is following in the wake of poor decisions that were made. Our only hope is for us to help one another. The only way for us to do that is by working together. The time tested way to work together is through The State.

If the people of the united states have fallen into such despair and ignorance that we can not form a State that serves the people, then, we may need to look for help from abroad.

Hey!! Europe!! We may need a hand here! You guys are still smart. Right?
Don't feel bad Europe. I know. How could you help us? We are belligerently ignorant and cruel. Stepping in to help our poor would only cause you difficulty.

The poster that states that he makes $7/ hour with no benefits and no vacation seems to like things the way they are. It can be so much better than that.

It is like attempting to make a Religious conversion. That poster sense of self worth may be founded on the poster's ability to 'go it alone'.

Second; Am I yelling? I don't mean to yell. It is, just, so upsetting.
No Government in the car industry?! No Government in transportation?! No Government in the development of computers and the internet?!
You Are Wrong!!
Please! Someone explain it.
I don't know about other countries, but, in the united states the Government has played important and active roles in transportation and communication; And, still does.
Rock? Shall I hide under a rock?
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby collegestudent22 » Fri Jul 22, 2011 6:21 am UTC

addams wrote:I am certain that it is the place of the State to provide the peace of mind that comes from knowing that we are a good and just people.


The purpose of the State is to protect the rights of individuals - not abridge them in order to help certain groups of them. The benefits of something do not justify coercive action to obtain it.

The time tested way to work together is through The State.


I have seen the results of these "tests" of time. The results of the Holocaust, the Holodomor, and Mao's Cultural Revolution. The spread of ideas such as eugenics. The extreme poverty of feudalism and monarchy in the past. The dictators that even today, in places like North Korea and Iran, repress their people and increase poverty.

The long stretch of peace during the mid-19th century was at least in part the result of limited government and laissez-faire economics in places like Britain and the United States. The free movement of people was widespread; Russia, the only country that required a passport, was considered backwards. The bloody wars and atrocities committed by governments during the 20th century were the consequence of a move toward state intervention to control people’s lives, ultimately leading to the emergence of ultra-statist regimes such as Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Communist Russia and Maoist China, and many other totalitarian experiments including a United States that interned over 110,000 individuals of Japanese descent, drafted many more individuals, and implemented wage and price controls.

Poverty cannot be solved completely as long as resources are scarce. And that cannot be changed unless someone invents a Star Trek replicator like device. It can be lessened, but not by the State - only by a policy of freedom that increases the wealth of all people, combined with a moral code that favors the voluntary rejection of envy and promotes the ideal of charity.

Hey!! Europe!! We may need a hand here! You guys are still smart. Right?


Smart? The only reason Europe hasn't gone under due its financial burden helping the poor is because the main responsibilities of the state - namely defense - is taken care of by the US. And despite the confiscatory tax rates and massive welfare programs, they aren't doing any better. According to poverty.org.uk, about 1 in 7 people in the UK are "at risk of poverty" - a rate of 14% (this is also the exact rate in France, according to Wikipedia). The US, on the other hand, has an poverty rate of 12.65% (Wikipedia entry on US poverty), better than the average in EU, with less spending on social welfare.

And, again, this is Europe, where statist controls to solve social problems invariably end up with elimination of liberty, genocide, and war.

The poster that states that he makes $7/ hour with no benefits and no vacation seems to like things the way they are. It can be so much better than that.


It can be - but only if people are allowed to further their own goals in a free marketplace. Forcing wealth to be redistributed to the unskilled and poor because the wealthy are "too rich" only results in a more equal poverty for everyone.

No Government in the car industry?! No Government in transportation?!


The government did not help Henry Ford - he failed multiple times before succeeding with Ford Motors. Nor did they assist Karl Benz in inventing the thing.

They did not help fund the Wright Brothers in developing heavier than air flight. The government viewed the airplane as a curiosity with no real potential until it proved itself in WWI a decade later.

Even today, government interference has caused the airline industry to be stagnant and of poor quality. In fact, I were to say that if any potential businessman were able to convince some venture capitalists to fund an airline that used planes with a flying wing design, they could make a whole lot of money by improving fuel efficiency (due to lower weight and drag), passenger comfort (more space than in the conventional design), and capacity (depending on the size of the aircraft, of course). Yet, this is radical innovation and will not be tried by the current airline industry - and government subsidies encourage this stagnation and work to prevent new entrepreneurs from entering the industry.

No Government in the development of computers and the internet?!


I did not say the internet, I said the personal computer. The PC, invented roughly simultaneously by Bill Gates' Microsoft and Steve Jobs' Apple, was funded entirely by private individuals. Further growth in computer technology has been pushed by private corporations, as well.

In addition, on the subject of communications, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone without any government assistance. Morse's telegraph was also developed without assistance from the government.

I don't know about other countries, but, in the united states the Government has played important and active roles in transportation and communication; And, still does.


I will merely point out that what the government has assisted with (large communication networks, the internet, highway system, transistor technology, etc.) has almost entirely been pursued for defense - a legitimate responsibility of the government under the social contract. Often the government will use technology that was invented by the private sector, providing some portion of the funding only after the idea has been thought up and shown to work.

Angus Maddison wrote:[w]orld per capita real income has risen twenty times as fast since 1820, than it did in the eight centuries from 1000 to 1820.


The reason for that? Precisely the implementation of liberty in Europe and the US. Reverse the trend away from it there, and start a trend towards it in the rest of the world, and the potential is there for an even more explosive trend. Revert to statism, however, and the world will be reduced to rampant poverty and chains of slavery.

The best way to help the poor is economic growth. However, politicians and bureaucrats are limited in their knowledge, as is any individual. No matter how smart an elected official, bureaucrat, or committee is, there’s no way they could adequately plan and control the actions of millions of individuals to achieve maximal economic growth. Having the government control the capital will result in stagnation and decline.

Confiscatory taxes for redistribution won't work either. In addition to destroying the equality of law, confiscatory taxes take money away from the wealthy capital owners, and result in a reduction of capital as the basis to provide economic growth. Even were the rate the same - which it is not, due to high taxes pushing capital into tax shelters, where it is not used for investment resulting in economic growth - the smaller principal working would necessarily create lower growth potential.

The desperately poor do not have four walls and a roof. Let alone all that other stuff.


That's really my point. That the majority of those defined as "poor" by the US government are not actually all that poor. Not only does this result in a much higher percentage of those defined as "poor", it actually prevents aid from reaching those stuck in true poverty.

Furthermore, even if we were to take all the money from those over a certain amount of wealth and give it to those below it, making everyone equal materially, we would end up only with poverty for all and an economy where no one possesses enough capital to risk funding risky ideas that improve the standard of living for all people.

Currently, the top 1% of taxpayers in the US pay more than the bottom 95%. If that is not their "fair share", then what is? 96%? 97%? 99%? The rhetoric is all about fairness, but real fairness would be that everyone pays in proportion to their income above some minimum level. I have proposed placing that level at anywhere between 2-3 times the government poverty level - which places it squarely in the lower "middle class".

Basically, this is the tax structure I am proposing here - take your income, subtract about $25K, multiply by 0.25 (my suggested tax rate), and send that amount of money to (or from, in the interest of compromise) the government. For example, if you make $100K, you would pay 0.25*$75K = $18,750 - leaving you with $81,250. If you make $25K, you are left with $25K. If you were to make $10K, you would get a check for $3750 - giving you $13,750 total income. If you make $5K, you would get a check for $5K - giving you $10K in the end.

In this way, welfare is reformed to be an addition to the income of the individual through their tax return. However, it is based on a sliding scale so as to be not quite enough to discourage improvement in employment. (Whereas now, it is a full payment until you hit a certain milestone, and you then lose it entirely.)

Actually, collegestudent22 was saying $8 an hour (which presumably only applies during busy times at busy locations)


It was over $8/hr - the $8/hr was an average made in various parts of downtown NYC over the course of a full 8 hour day. Which, by the way, amounts to more than minimum wage.

As to your point that begging is demeaning. Well, yeah. A lot of things are - including taking government assistance because you aren't "good enough" to make it on your own. So, really, it is the mere act of being poor that is demeaning. No one is contesting that - poverty is no summer picnic. At the same time, the State cannot fix it any more than private charity can, and only makes things worse by destroying incentives for economic growth, demonizing those that do succeed, destroying the concept of the Rule of Law, and enforcing only a weak inequality through totalitarian power.

To quote F.A. Hayek, "A claim for equality of material position can be met only by a government with totalitarian powers." and furthermore, "[e]ven the striving for equality by means of a directed economy can result only in an officially enforced inequality - an authoritarian determination of the status of each individual in the new hierarchical order."

"If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion."

"Freedom granted only when it is known beforehand that its effects will be beneficial is not freedom." (Emphases mine)

The strongest argument, IMO, against a socialist welfare program to help the poor is the majority of Indian tribes in the US. Many tribes require that money that comes into the tribe over a certain, small amount (almost all of this money being earned by casinos) must be given to the tribal leadership and then distributed equally to the tribes. Often, this money, after being split among the others, is just enough to survive, reducing the incentive to find work, and as a result, Indian reservations in the US often suffer from rampant unemployment, alcoholism, poverty, and other related social issues. This is further exacerbated by rules that severely disincentivize non-reservation businesses, in an effort to keep Indian culture, and restrict what can be bought and sold within the reservation.

It is like attempting to make a Religious conversion. That poster sense of self worth may be founded on the poster's ability to 'go it alone'.


My self-worth is partially founded on my refusal to use force, whether individual force through robbery, or the force of the State through immoral taxation, to support myself. I have absolutely no issue with accepting the voluntary charity of others should I ever need to.

Here's a hypothetical question - imagine for a moment that you are poor. Your neighbor is quite wealthy, compared to you. Now, is it right to steal from him to be more equal and meet your needs? If not, is it right if you get your friends to steal for you? What if you and your friends have a vote with the wealthy individual in question, and he is the only one that votes against you taking his things? Is it right then? If not, how is it any more right if it is a large majority against a wealthy minority? Society cannot survive once the vast majority realize they can vote to confiscate the wealth of the minority - that is the recipe for the destruction of any society's economic power.

"The principle that the ends justify the means is in individualistic ethics regarded as the denial of all morals. In collectivist ethics it becomes necessarily the supreme rule." - F.A. Hayek

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby hawkinsssable » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:11 pm UTC

collegestudent22 wrote:So, not only did you misspell his name, you ignored your own source, which stated "Hayek is not considered a member of the Chicago School". Hayek was a member of the Austrian School of Economics, following in the footsteps of his mentors, including Ludwig von Mises.


You're completely right. That was incredibly stupid of me. I knew that Hayek had tought at the Chicago School of Economics, I knew that he had a close relationship with (and large influence on) Milton Friedman, I knew that he strongly approved of the neoliberal restructing of Chile's economy, and so I assumed you could class him as a neoliberal. When I saw his name pop up on the wiki page for Chicago School thinkers, I linked to it without checking the source.

Again- very, very stupid of me. There are obviously nuances that differentiate the Chicago and the Austrian school (if I understand correctly, a key difference is that the Austrian school sees state intervention as morally evil, not just misguided), and I shouldn't have just blindly assumed that Hayek's associations with Friedman and the Chicago School would classify him as a member of the Chicago School.

collegestudent22 wrote:That's right, because automobiles were done this way. Oh, wait - no they weren't. In fact, they were more liberal when they started than now... Even today, government interference has caused the airline industry to be stagnant and of poor quality... They did not help fund the Wright Brothers in developing heavier than air flight.


Automobiles, huh? Japan nurtured Toyota through high tarrifs and strict controls on foreign investment in the car industry. In 1949, it even bailed the firm out from bankruptancy. Considering the poor reception of Toyota's first passenger car for export (the Toyopet), I'm going to assume that Toyota couldn't have survived without state intervention. Today, Toyota Motor Corporation is the world's largest automobile manufacturer by sales and production. Huh.

On that note, Renault used to be a French state- owned enterprise. The state government of Lower Saxony, Germany, is the largest shareholder in Volkswagen (18.6%). Chrysler would not exist if it hadn't been bailed out by the Raegan government in the 1980's.

Singapore Airlines has been named the world's favourite airline quite a few times, and it never once made a loss in its 35- year history. And it's a state- owned enterprise (57% controlled by Temasek, a holding company whose sole shareholder is Singapore's Ministry of Finance. (All figures accurate to 2007)

And the Wright Brothers were very much aided when the US government imposed a patent pool. (See: the Wright Brothers vs. Glenn Curtiss)

Again, it's obvoiously not simply case of state ownership good, free markets bad. Just that things are much more complicated than simplistic neoliberal economic models have room for.

collegestudent22 wrote:The bloody wars and atrocities committed by governments during the 20th century were the consequence of a move toward state intervention to control people’s lives, ultimately leading to the emergence of ultra-statist regimes such as Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Communist Russia and Maoist China, and many other totalitarian experiments including a United States that interned over 110,000 individuals of Japanese descent, drafted many more individuals, and implemented wage and price controls... statist controls to solve social problems invariably end up with elimination of liberty, genocide, and war.


Dude. Hitler was SUPPORTED by German industry, which felt pretty threatened by the massive popularity of communists at the time. Some of my relatives were in socialist organisations in Germany during the Third Reich, meeting in secret and disseminating information at great risk to themselves. The socialists. Not the capitalists. On an interesting sidenote, Facism in Italy and Germany was met with overwhelming approval by the business world- investment boomed in both countries after Hitler and Mussolini assumed power.

Lenin was the only leader who pulled his country out of WW1.

Economic liberalisation in Chile and Argentina went hand- in- hand with state terror, massive numbers of deaths, censorship, and "disappeared" dissidents.

The US were on the "right", liberal side of the Cold War and funded terror in a HUGE way. The diagram below represents cold war US military aid and police training to countries that used torture on an administrative basis at the time.
Image
Key
In the circles: no. of US trained military 1950-75
On the lines: total spent on US military aid 1946-75
Black circles : indicate US training to local police,
* Significant change of government in 1970s, but used torture for part of the decade.


The mind loves simplifying models, but economic liberalism neither causes nor prevents actrocities. It's all much, much more complicated than that.

collegestudent22 wrote:Poverty cannot be solved completely as long as resources are scarce. And that cannot be changed unless someone invents a Star Trek replicator like device. It can be lessened, but not by the State - only by a policy of freedom that increases the wealth of all people, combined with a moral code that favors the voluntary rejection of envy and promotes the ideal of charity.


Poverty (and most notably) starvation are almost invariably the result of a breakdown of ENTITLEMENTS. In the case of starvation, it's the breakdown of entitlements to food. Very, very, very few modern- day famines have been caused by an absolute lack of food. Instead, it's people's inability to claim an entitlement to food. It's been shown time and time again, especially in the context of African famines, that when traditional stockpiling methods and communal entitlements to food are replaced by a market economy and market entitlements to food, communities that would previously be relatively unaffected by poor harvests suddenly find themselves starving from an inability to claim market entitlements to suddenly expensive food.

Further problems arise when there are obstables to claiming entitlements to famine relief from the government, or if the government uses market- based mechanisms to distribute said famine relief foods.

I can provide references and case studies if you really want.

collegestudnet22 wrote:Currently, the top 1% of taxpayers in the US pay more than the bottom 95%.

Sounds shocking. Until you consider the distribution of wealth in the US.

Image
(The rightmost column is the top 1%, and the first 6 columns are the bottom 95%. AFTER these horribly unfair taxes.)
Image

Oh dear. Something is amiss. Quickly, we have to fix it!

Image

collegestudent22 wrote:Nonsense. If I had done that, I would never have read any Marx, and I wouldn't have read any of Keynes. I determined that I disagreed with it, as it seemed to be a weak argument to me, but I read it with an open mind. I would not have read Adam Smith or Thomas Paine. I would not have read Locke or Rousseau. Nor would I have read anything from Ayn Rand or the Ronpaul. I would be, still, a conservative - a defender of the status quo for the sake of nostalgia and fear of change, as my parents are.

Instead, I have become a liberal, in the original sense of the word. I don't believe in a vision for Utopia, where poverty and other social issues are solved. I believe strongly in the value of liberty.


Just for the record, that's not what I've been trying to say. My problem with your, with Friedman's, with Hayek's philosophy is that (for true believers) it's a closed loop. It has a central premise: the free market is a perfect scientific system, and allowing individuals to follow their own self- interests creates the greatest benefits for all. Anything else is misguided (Chicago school) or actively baby- eatingly evil (Austrian school), and compromises the obvious benefits of the free- market system.

Any evidence to the contrary must, logically, be caused by one of 1 or 2 things: Distortion and outright lies from power- hungry governments, NGO's, socialists, and citizens' groups; or, the problems are due to interference in the free- market system. If it's the former, there's no reason for self- evaluation; If it's the latter, the problem can only be solved by a stricter and more complete application of these perfect, flawless, blameless economic principles.

Oh look. We're going 'round in circles again.

Hayek wrote:"If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion."


Nice quote. Here, let me use two from Anatole France in reply- one bastardised, one not:

"Liberalism, in its majestic equality, allows the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and forbids both rich and poor from stealing bread."
"One must learn to think well before learning to think; afterward it proves too difficult."
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby collegestudent22 » Sat Jul 23, 2011 9:17 am UTC

hawkinsssable wrote:Today, Toyota Motor Corporation is the world's largest automobile manufacturer by sales and production. Huh.


The vast majority of the reason behind that is the difference between the power of the UAW in the US and the lack of unionization with Toyota employees. When you must pay employees, in salary and benefits, almost double in the UAW controlled American corporations, it is a basic fact that other companies will be able to produce cheaper and more innovative cars.

Chrysler would not exist if it hadn't been bailed out by the Raegan government in the 1980's.


Wait, what? You are aware that the bailout for Chrysler was passed in 1979 and signed by President Carter in January 1980, before things were handed over to Reagan, right? The Reagan administration did nothing to help Chrysler other than buy Dodge trucks for the military, in accordance with the need for them and after a proper contracting process - that, again, began under Carter.

And if a company would not survive without a bailout, then it should not exist. If it cannot produce a product that meets demand, why should it be kept going? Allow the market to remove it and divert resources to things that do meet the desires of individuals.

collegestudent22 wrote:The bloody wars and atrocities committed by governments during the 20th century were the consequence of a move toward state intervention to control people’s lives, ultimately leading to the emergence of ultra-statist regimes such as Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Communist Russia and Maoist China, and many other totalitarian experiments including a United States that interned over 110,000 individuals of Japanese descent, drafted many more individuals, and implemented wage and price controls... statist controls to solve social problems invariably end up with elimination of liberty, genocide, and war.


Dude. Hitler was SUPPORTED by German industry, which felt pretty threatened by the massive popularity of communists at the time.


Industry often supports plans arranged to help them maintain power - in much the same way that Enron was one of the biggest backers of cap-and-trade legislation before its problems came to light, and the financial sector was a big force behind the more recent bailouts. I am not proposing corporatism, here.

Some of my relatives were in socialist organisations in Germany during the Third Reich, meeting in secret and disseminating information at great risk to themselves. The socialists. Not the capitalists.


And? Advocating state control, but not under this guy you disagree with, is still a problem.

Lenin was the only leader who pulled his country out of WW1.


WWI, of course, being a war against state control and nationalism in Germany. Lenin, also, having won a revolution in Russia, partially due to the war, and needing to rebuild - not really a solid reason to say that statists don't like war.

Economic liberalisation in Chile and Argentina went hand- in- hand with state terror, massive numbers of deaths, censorship, and "disappeared" dissidents.


Then it was most certainly not true liberalization - which would go hand-in-hand with political liberalization. At least according to the Austrian School of Economics.

The US were on the "right", liberal side of the Cold War and funded terror in a HUGE way.


The US was on the anti-Communist side, not necessarily the liberal side. That much is obvious, and really irrelevant to the economics and politics of liberalization. I have issues with many US actions during the Cold War, but I recognize that many of these were as anti-liberal as they were anti-Communist.

Very, very, very few modern- day famines have been caused by an absolute lack of food. Instead, it's people's inability to claim an entitlement to food.


1930s and '40s America would like to have a word here. I'm sure the famine of the Dust Bowl was caused by a lack of government action to provide things - not by a lack of those things in the first place. And the famines in the supposedly-equal USSR were merely a result of rapid industrialization, right, despite such industrialization in Europe and the US increasing farm yields and actually reducing poverty and starvation.

Currently, there is a famine in Somalia due to a drought. The only thing that can alleviate this problem, and often does in other countries that have crop shortages, is access to the global marketplace. It is, in fact, (mostly-)free trade throughout the "free" world that prevents local famines and food shortages from becoming a problem. Not some "right" to steal food from others if needed.

It's been shown time and time again, especially in the context of African famines, that when traditional stockpiling methods and communal entitlements to food are replaced by a market economy and market entitlements to food, communities that would previously be relatively unaffected by poor harvests suddenly find themselves starving from an inability to claim market entitlements to suddenly expensive food.


So, then, the problem is that there are no authoritarian governments working to get food to the people? Now who is simplifying things - man-made African famines do not result from market economies, but from corruption preventing charitable aid from other countries and diverting political aid. Entitlements suffer from being not only ineffective, but immoral. Corruption only makes it worse, as the government no longer steals from the wealthy to give to the poor, but just merely steals.

I can provide references and case studies if you really want.


It really isn't going to help, though. These references and case studies are written with bias inherent.

collegestudnet22 wrote:Currently, the top 1% of taxpayers in the US pay more than the bottom 95%.

Sounds shocking. Until you consider the distribution of wealth in the US.


Wealth, or income, here? Taxes are not on wealth, only income. Although your chart from Mother Jones was cute, and all, since they have no understanding of capitalism. Last I heard, they were decrying an across-the-board equal percentage cut in tax rates as "tax cuts for the wealthy" on the basis that higher income earners get more out of a tax cut, ignoring that this is precisely because they pay more. It was pretty much demonizing the fact that Bill Gates gets $1M per 1% rate cut (or whatever), and poor Joe Schmo that only pays $2K per year anyway didn't also get a $1M tax cut.

For income distribution, the top 1% had 21.3% of the income earned. Thus, the bottom 95% (even ignoring the "poor" 47+% that don't pay any tax at all) should be paying at least as much as they are total.

collegestudent22 wrote:Just for the record, that's not what I've been trying to say. My problem with your, with Friedman's, with Hayek's philosophy is that (for true believers) it's a closed loop. It has a central premise: the free market is a perfect scientific system,


That's rich. No one claims that it is perfect, least of all me. They have claimed, however, that the State does NOT do a better job. Further, applying "science" to it is decried by Hayek, at the very least.

"This means that to entrust to science - or to deliberate control according to scientific principles - more than scientific method can achieve may have deplorable effects." - F.A. Hayek

and allowing individuals to follow their own self- interests creates the greatest benefits for all.


No, it creates the greatest benefits for the individual - which is more important. Furthermore, if an individual cannot determine what is of greatest benefit to them, how can you (or anyone else) possibly claim to know the best ends for them.

"It is rather a problem of how to secure the best use of resources known to any of the members of society, for ends whose relative importance only those individuals know." - F.A. Hayek

Anything else [...] compromises the obvious benefits of the free- market system.


The obvious benefit is not perfectly meeting needs - it is in liberty itself.

Hayek wrote:"If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion."


Nice quote. Here, let me use two from Anatole France in reply- one bastardised, one not:

"Liberalism, in its majestic equality, allows the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and forbids both rich and poor from stealing bread."


That is a really bastardized quote. But, accepting the point, you would, obviously, prefer a world in which the government controls your every action and provides your every need. I do not understand how you cannot see that this is slavery.

"One must learn to think well before learning to think; afterward it proves too difficult."


So, your counterargument to that of The Road to Serfdom, that attempts at forced equality by government controlling the economy destroys liberty, is not to argue that it doesn't (which could then be examined), or to decry liberty as something that is not valuable (which I would highly contest, but at least this could be argued against), but to merely ignore it as not "thinking well"? Forgive me if that seems incredibly ignorant.

Again, I ask. Would you say that it is OK for one person to steal from another out of "necessity"? If not, what if their friends do it for them? What if their friends all vote to do it - does that make it right? And if it is right for one person to steal from another, and we keep redefining what "necessity" constitutes, then private property is meaningless, and anarchy or tyranny results.

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby Yakk » Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:30 am UTC

No true Scotsman.

In any case, during the period of the Great Depression, farmers (overall) had enough food. The problem was distribution -- and, in particular, with prices collapsing, paying for debts that where denominated in pre-deflation values:
In some ways farmers were better off than city and town dwellers. Farmers could produce much of their own food while city residents could not. Almost all farm families raised large gardens with vegetables and canned fruit from their orchards. They had milk and cream from their dairy cattle. Chickens supplied meat and eggs. They bought flour and sugar in 50-pound sacks and baked their own bread. In some families the farm wife made clothing out of the cloth from flour and feed sacks. They learned how to get by with very little money. But they had to pay their taxes and debts to the bank in cash. These were tough times on the farms.

The Federal government passed a bill to help the farmers. Surplus was the problem; farmers were producing too much and driving down the price. The government passed the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) of 1933 which set limits on the size of the crops and herds farmers could produce. Those farmers that agreed to limit production were paid a subsidy. Most farmers signed up eagerly and soon government checks were flowing into rural mail boxes where the money could help pay bank debts or tax payments.

22 wrote:Taxes are not on wealth, only income.

The USA has both wealth and income taxes, as do most industrialized economies. An example of a wealth tax is property taxes.

Not that this matters. You have indicated that anyone who disagrees with you must be doing so out of biases. So I'm (personally) done here.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby hawkinsssable » Sat Jul 23, 2011 4:47 pm UTC

cs22 wrote:
hawkinsssable wrote:Some of my relatives were in socialist organisations in Germany during the Third Reich, meeting in secret and disseminating information at great risk to themselves. The socialists. Not the capitalists.

And? Advocating state control, but not under this guy you disagree with, is still a problem.


Big moral failing, belong to (Trotskyist, I think?) socialist organisations that are seeking to replace Nazism.

I'm not sure why, but out of everything you've written, that's the only thing to actually offend me.


I made a few claims in my last post:
1. Many businesses, in some of the exact fields you claimed this could not be the case, relid on state intervention (especially early on) to reach their current levels of innovation and commercial success.
2. The size of a state or the extent of its economic liberalism does not lead to atrocities, genocide or war. It's much more complicated than that.
3. Absolute scarcity is very rarely the problem, and focusing on scarcity is unhelpful- entitlements are more important. FOR EXAMPLE: Starvation is due to an inability to claim an entitlement to food, something that the introduction of the market has greatly contributed to.
4. That the wealthiest 1% of Americans pay an equal amount of tax to the lowest 95% is largely because of the staggering inequality in the US.
5. Your ideology and your mode of reasoning is a closed loop that leads to you dismiss anything that runs contrary to your intuitions.


I don't understand how you addressed point 1
I don't understand how you addressed point 2
You only addressed point 3 in a cursory way, through claiming that market economies do not and can not produce starvation, and any anthropological evidence to the contrary is obviously false due to inherent bias. You also mention corruption and bureaucratic idiocy- which are widely acknowledged as forming barriers to claiming entitlements. You also, I think, misunderstood the meaning of "entitlements", which hardly refer exclusively to entitlements vis a vis the State.
You (partially) addressed the specifics, but not the spirit, of point 4. (The spirit being that your intuitions about "fairness" are spectacularly unintuitive, a point you didn't exactly undermine.)
You confirmed point 5. Through your comment on "inherent biases", and by reaffirming throughout your post that negative liberty, including glorious economic liberty, is the most important thing. Full stop. Everything else is meaningless. Taxation is theft. Taxation is slavery. Uncompromisable property rights are necessary to stop society from devolving into anarchy and baby- eating.

Which brings us to core values- how valuable is negative liberty relative to positive liberty? Relative to preventing starvation? Relative to preventing "absolute" poverty as you understand it (no entertainment, no appliances, no living space, no food)? Relative to preventing absolute poverty as most people understand it (an absolute but elliptical concept)? Relative to producing the funding necessary to, for example, develop entirely unprofitable medicines for illnesses that affect only the poor? And those debates, with their "inspiring" quotes and thought experiments and deeply rooted ideals, are passionate and exhausting and ultimately futile. I don't want to get into that.

All I will say is that our values are shaped by our social and material circumstances, and what matters to some people in some contexts hardly matters to other people in other contexts. And that I would hardly wish to impose a political and economic order on any people based purely on my moral reasoning, with all its subconscious, deeply internalised values.

Yakk wrote: You have indicated that anyone who disagrees with you must be doing so out of biases. So I'm (personally) done here.


Me too. But I do want to pose one last, purely hypothetical, scenario. (Best read with this playing in the background.) Imagine a state of near- complete economic and political freedom. Or even just moderate economic and political freedom. Somehow, something has gone wrong, and inequality has grown, wages for almost all workers have been reduced, and the working day has gone back up to 14 or 16 hours. Unions are, in this scenario, forbidden because they compromise employers' freedoms. (Alternatively, if you want to put a different spin on it, inequality alone has increased and all the dumb, selfish parasites and moochers are filled with uncontrollable envy.)

Suddenly, a random factory worker has an idea, and starts talking in secret with other workers. The idea is this: the people running these factories, well, they rely on our labour. They can't make anything without it! If we can just get enough people together who will refuse to work, we can kick those guys out, and start sharing all the money we make equally. Maybe that will compromise innovation, but who cares? We've progressed as much as we need to. It's time to equalise wealth.

So a general strike is called, and across the state, everybody stops working. Even the strike- breakers. The whole system is going to collapse into something else.

The president of the United States calls you, and asks for your advice. Would you rather sacrifice some economic freedoms in order to institute fair labour standards/ a slightly more equal distribution of wealth to placate the parasites, or would you rather watch the entire system fall?
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby collegestudent22 » Sun Jul 24, 2011 5:52 am UTC

Yakk wrote:In any case, during the period of the Great Depression, farmers (overall) had enough food. The problem was distribution -- and, in particular, with prices collapsing, paying for debts that where denominated in pre-deflation values:


So, that's why nearly half of all farmers gave up in the Great Plains and headed for the cities in California further to the west? Because they had enough food, despite the vast droughts and overworked fields that produced no food?

In some ways farmers were better off than city and town dwellers. Farmers could produce much of their own food while city residents could not. Almost all farm families raised large gardens with vegetables and canned fruit from their orchards. They had milk and cream from their dairy cattle. Chickens supplied meat and eggs. They bought flour and sugar in 50-pound sacks and baked their own bread. In some families the farm wife made clothing out of the cloth from flour and feed sacks. They learned how to get by with very little money. But they had to pay their taxes and debts to the bank in cash. These were tough times on the farms.


You know, most of the farmers of that time would beg to differ. In fact, the government produced a film during the 1930s - The Plow That Broke The Plains - to show the extent of the damage to the farming community.

The Federal government passed a bill to help the farmers. Surplus was the problem; farmers were producing too much and driving down the price. The government passed the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) of 1933 which set limits on the size of the crops and herds farmers could produce. Those farmers that agreed to limit production were paid a subsidy. Most farmers signed up eagerly and soon government checks were flowing into rural mail boxes where the money could help pay bank debts or tax payments.


If farmers were really producing too much and driving down the price, that would be a good thing. Given that so many were out of work and living off of their savings, a lower price for food would be of great benefit to everyone. But, of course, you won't see it that way.

The AAA did put controls on farmers, just as the National Recovery Act put controls on industry. It had little to do with the particulars of the market, and everything to do with a belief by FDR (and Hoover before him) that the government could fix the problem, if only it had more control. Totalitarianism took over the US almost entirely between 1929 and 1945.

22 wrote:Taxes are not on wealth, only income.

The USA has both wealth and income taxes, as do most industrialized economies. An example of a wealth tax is property taxes.


I am, of course, referring to the federal government - which is almost entirely funded by income taxes, excise taxes, and tariffs. And, of course, printing and borrowing money. Local and state governments may have taxes on wealth. The only federal tax that would qualify as such is the estate tax.

Not that this matters. You have indicated that anyone who disagrees with you must be doing so out of biases. So I'm (personally) done here.


Of course, there is bias involved. My sources are biased as well. Thus, I have endeavored to make my points based on statistics from sources that are biased against my arguments (the US Census Bureau cannot possibly be accused of being in favor of reducing government power, for example) - not merely some book that a guy that agrees with me wrote.

hawkinsssable wrote:
cs22 wrote:
hawkinsssable wrote:Some of my relatives were in socialist organisations in Germany during the Third Reich, meeting in secret and disseminating information at great risk to themselves. The socialists. Not the capitalists.

And? Advocating state control, but not under this guy you disagree with, is still a problem.


Horrible people, socialists in general and my relatives both. Seeking to replace Nazism with (Trotskyist, I think?) socialism was pretty morally problematic.


I did not say that it was worse than Nazisim, although it can be seen that Communist socialism has destroyed just as many people. I said that it was still a problem. In effect, the difference between hating Jews and hating capitalists is not so far - hate is still hate.

We could, of course, replace the corpses you posted from the Holocaust, with those that resulted from other socialist policies and controls.

The difference between Nazism and the Communism that Hitler railed against was very small. One committed absolute horrors to increase the power of the State with Hitler in charge. The other did very much the exact same thing, only to get and keep Communists in power.

The collectivism is still present in these systems, whether they be fascist, Nazi, or some other kind of socialist.

1. Many businesses, in some of the exact fields you claimed this could not be the case, relid on state intervention (especially early on) to reach their current levels of innovation and commercial success.


My point was not whether they had relied on state intervention - it was that they did not do so when the industries were (1) very young, and (2) actually improving and innovating.

2. The size of a state or the extent of its economic liberalism does not lead to atrocities, genocide or war. It's much more complicated than that.


Your so-called "complication" arises from the fact that you do not see that economic liberalization and political liberalization are irrevocably linked. If you have no political liberty, such that the government can make you "disappear" if you dissent or otherwise make life difficult, you have no economic liberty to create businesses that the government does not approve of. If you have no economic liberty, such that your subsistence is provided by the government, you have no true political liberty to dissent - as your subsistence can be cut off, and then what would you do? These go hand in hand. You cannot have economic liberalization without political liberalization - which is why it seems to have failed in places like Russia and Chile, where dictators still control the government. (Yeah, I know that there is technically democracy in Russia - but Putin has switched from PM to President for decades, always with his lackey in the other seat. He and his followers really run the country.)

"The idea that political freedom can be preserved in the absence of economic freedom, and vice versa, is an illusion. Political freedom is the corollary of economic freedom" - Ludwig von Mises

To believe that you cannot fully own your justly acquired property or business and use it for the ends that you speculate may please yourself or your customers the most--without massive state intervention--and still be free is a myth. Political freedom is considered to be the means by which economic freedom was realized-- They must go hand and hand.

3. Absolute scarcity is very rarely the problem, and focusing on scarcity is unhelpful- entitlements are more important. FOR EXAMPLE: Starvation is due to an inability to claim an entitlement to food, something that the introduction of the market has greatly contributed to.


And I argued that local scarcity is nearly always the problem, where there is not enough. Free trade prevents local scarcity from having as much of an effect (as there is almost never a global famine) . Thus, it is not the entitlement that helps, but the ability to trade freely with other nations and peoples. For example, there is a famine in Somalia right now - and the problem is very truly scarcity and lack of trade.

Further, much of the reduction of starvation is due to increases in agricultural technology that result from liberal marketplaces.

4. That the wealthiest 1% of Americans pay an equal amount of tax to the lowest 95% is largely because of the staggering inequality in the US.


And that inequality is not nearly so vast as you made it out to be when dealing with income instead of wealth (and we are talking about the income tax). Focusing on wealth distribution is rather disingenuous when talking about how much is paid in income tax.

5. Your ideology and your mode of reasoning is a closed loop that leads to you dismiss anything that runs contrary to your intuitions.


No, you. Of course you have to show me significant proof of something that I disagree with, based on my use of logic and the evidence I have accumulated over the years. I could make the same claim about you - that isn't an argument. It's pretty much a tautology.

You only addressed point 3 in a cursory way, through claiming that market economies do not and can not produce starvation, and any anthropological evidence to the contrary is obviously false due to inherent bias.


I did not claim that - I claimed that the market is the best way to alleviate starvation. Resources are scarce - that is one of the first lessons of economics. The fact that you cannot understand that, and claim it is all about distribution (and further that the State can distribute better than a free market) is part of your problematic understanding of my position.

You also mention corruption and bureaucratic idiocy (which are widely acknowledged as forming barriers to claiming entitlements). You also, I think, misunderstood the meaning of "entitlements", which hardly refer exclusively to entitlements vis a vis the State.


So, using this meaningless definition of "entitlements", where any access to food counts, free trade is still the best possible way to avoid corruption and bureaucratic idiocy, given that the only other option is to have access controlled by idiotic, potentially corrupt, bureaucrats.

The free market is the best way to distribute resources to the ends only individuals can determine the relative importance of.

You (partially) addressed the specifics, but not the spirit, of point 4. (The spirit being that your intuitions about "fairness" are spectacularly unintuitive, a point you didn't exactly undermine.)


Again, fairness would indicate that the top 1% would pay in proportion to their share of the income - 21% of the taxes. Possibly just a hair more than that, accounting for the small percentage taken in by the desperately poor. Not more than the bottom 95% - where anything below the median income is tax-free or even added to with money stolen from the top earners.

You confirmed point 5. Through your comment on "inherent biases", and by reaffirming throughout your post that negative liberty, including glorious economic liberty, is the most important thing. Full stop. Everything else is meaningless.


Positive liberty is a meaningless term. Liberty that does not infringe on other's rights, however, is definitely the most important thing. Without liberty, wealth is meaningless - even that small bit that provides subsistence. People work to live better - and that cannot happen, even with infinite wealth, if they are not free to choose the course of their own lives.

Taxation is theft.


Correction: Taxation for the purpose of rearranging the wealth of a society is theft. Furthermore, it harms the actual distribution of goods, weakens the economy by removing job-creating capital, and results in only a lower standard of living for everyone. Taxation should be restricted to funding the legitimate functions of the government - diplomacy, military defense, and the legal system.

Taxation is slavery.


Dependence on government is slavery. The provision of necessities for existing, with no private, free way to provide them yourself, along with so many rules, regulations, and laws that prevent this way from existing - that is slavery. Not mere taxation.

Uncompromising property rights are necessary to stop society from devolving into anarchy tyranny and baby- eating servitude.


Fixed. Demeaning and misrepresenting my position is not getting us anywhere, although I'm sure it makes you feel better about your beliefs.

Which brings us to core values- how valuable is negative liberty relative to positive liberty?


Positive liberty is meaningless. It destroys liberty in the name of liberty. An oxymoron if I ever saw one.

Relative to preventing "absolute" poverty as you understand it (no entertainment, no appliances, no living space, no food)? Relative to preventing absolute poverty as most people understand it (an absolute but elliptical concept)?


Absolute poverty is, and always has been, a desperate struggle to survive. Anything more than that is not truly poverty. And I ask you how something can be both absolute and elliptical (whatever you mean by that)?

Relative to producing the funding necessary to develop unprofitable medicines for illnesses that affect only the poor?


The government is the biggest obstacle to this. For instance, government banned DDT (because it weakened eagle's eggshells or something). DDT is the easiest solution to eliminating malaria in Africa, where it is a huge problem for the poor. (And only the poor, as we virtually eliminated malaria in the developed world before banning DDT.)

And what illnesses, pray tell, are affecting ONLY the poor in modern society?

All I will say is that our values are shaped by our social and material circumstances, and what matters to some people in some contexts hardly matters to other people in other contexts. And that I would hardly wish to impose a political and economic order on any people based purely on my moral reasoning, with all its subconscious, deeply internalised values.


And yet, you propose exactly that. Whereas my "political and economic order" allows for individual freedom of choice to work towards ends that have relative importance known only to the seekers of those ends, you proclaim that this is meaningless, and even harmful, and we HAVE to help the poor at the cost of everything else. That allowing choice is evil, because it hurts the poor. That I have no right to choose what to do with what I have earned.

I proclaim that if helping the poor is the most important individual end, in your view, then you should pursue it. Strongly. With your own resources. I, however, may see other individual ends to be important, and choose accordingly. This is far different from assuming, as you seem to, that your ends are not only the most important to you, but should be to everyone, and therefore you have the right to use the government to force us to seek your ends instead of our own.

Thus, I claim that liberty, in the original sense, is the most important political end, as it allows you to determine the relative importance of any individual end, and act upon that. If that should be different than what I choose, so be it. Just don't force me to go along with you if I do not choose to.

Imagine a state of near- complete economic and political freedom. Somehow, something has gone wrong, and inequality has grown, wages for almost all workers have been reduced, and the working day has gone back up to 14 or 16 hours. Unions are, in this scenario, forbidden for reasons relating to economic freedom. (Or maybe, if this is too implausible to even consider, inequality alone has increased and all the dumb, selfish parasites are filled with uncontrollable envy.)

Suddenly, a random worker has an idea, and starts talking in secret with other workers. The idea is this- the people running these factories, well, they rely on our labour. They can't do anything without it! If we can just get enough people together who will refuse to work, we can kick those guys out, and start sharing all the money we make equally. Who cares if that compromises industrial innovation? We've progressed as much as we need to. It's time to equalise wealth.

So a general strike is called, and across the state, everybody stops working. Even the strike- breakers. The whole system is going to collapse into something else.

Would you rather sacrifice some economic freedoms and institute a minimum wage/ maximum working day, or have the entire system fall?
[/quote]

Interesting theoretical, almost a reverse of that in Atlas Shrugged. However, it fails on two counts to be even plausible.

1) You make the same assumptions that the makers of Bioshock did. That any society based on political and economic freedom must prevent certain freedoms. The right of free association requires that workers be allowed to join unions - although it also means that employers can fire unions instead of working out a contract (in most fields, this would be suicide, as training an entire new workforce is very expensive and the bad PR would hurt as well) and workers can choose not to join the union (as in right-to-work states in the US).

2) There are many states where the power of the unions is weakened by the right to work. These states have higher average wages, closer to full employment, and better economic growth. So your assumption that the union helps is quite wrong, especially given the political corruption rampant in unions in the US, where the UAW and teacher's unions force workers to join, force them to pay dues, and then use those dues to promote union power over that of both the workers and employers.

3) Even if this hypothetical were plausible, and the scenario could theoretically happen, what would I prefer? Neither. The right to choose not to work is an inherent economic freedom. Thus, I would say the system would need to collapse. However, your understanding of collapse is quite a bit different of mine. If there were no laborers that would work under the current conditions, the conditions would change - capital owners are not stupid. They will, of their own volition, work out agreements with the laborers. Conditions will, if possible given the amount of capital, improve (well, for most workers - the rest will likely be unemployed).

Besides, if the laborers are so organized as to hold the entire system hostage, they can have whatever they want - in other words, the system will collapse anyway as the laborers demands increase until they cannot be realistically met (this happens all the time, where union agreements drive companies out of business). Just as the system of social democracy is beginning to collapse now that people are voting themselves money out of the Treasury (did you know that Greece had yet another bailout - but that socialistic welfare thing is working so well, right?) until the State itself goes bankrupt. Collapse of the system, however, is in no one's best interest - they may see it as a way to get better pay or benefits, or a more fair system, but it would merely result in chaos and anarchy.

I take it, given your obvious disdain for liberalism, that you would agree with Mussolini (and be glad that he was mostly right) that "[i]t may be expected that this will be a century of authority, a century of the Left, a century of Fascism. For the nineteenth century was a century of individualism…. [Liberalism always signifying individualism], it may be expected that this will be a century of collectivism, and hence the century of the State…."

"Liberalism and capitalism address themselves to the cool, well-balanced mind. They proceed by strict logic, eliminating any appeal to the emotions. Socialism, on the contrary, works on the emotions, tries to violate logical considerations by rousing a sense of personal interest and to stifle the voice of reason by awakening primitive instincts" - Ludwig von Mises

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby hawkinsssable » Sun Jul 24, 2011 1:47 pm UTC

you proclaim that... we HAVE to help the poor at the cost of everything else.


When? Where?

And what illnesses, pray tell, are affecting ONLY the poor in modern society?


These. And here's the stuff on R&D.

Image

We could, of course, replace the corpses you posted from the Holocaust, with those that resulted from other socialist policies and controls.

Remember the part where I specified "Trotskyist?" As in "Not Stalinist?"

Oh, wait. Facism is indistinguishable from Socialism. Stalin is indistinguishable from Lenin. Lenin merely conveyed, and did not adapt or change, Marxist thought. My mistake.

You are labouring under some staggering misconceptions about what socialism actually means to the people advocating it. Just FYI, every socialist organisation I've had anything at all to do with, in real life and online, labels what you call "socialism" "state capitalism".

Of course, there is bias involved. My sources are biased as well. Thus, I have endeavored to make my points based on statistics from sources that are biased against my arguments (the US Census Bureau cannot possibly be accused of being in favor of reducing government power, for example) - not merely some book that a guy that agrees with me wrote.


a) The only statistics I've seen you use are from the Heritage Foundation, which in turn drew on US Census Bureau statistics. You did not do the primary research. The Heritage Foundation is not biased against your arguments.

b) The idea that the US Census Bureau is in favour of increasing government power is, well, weird. The idea that the US government in general is in favour of 'big government' seems to me unintuitive and a little out of touch with political developments since, well... the 80's seems as good a line to draw as any, what with Reaganomics and the explicit rejection of the "Great Society". Personally, I believe that to argue either way you'd first have to get into some in- depth ethnography of the US government, its politicans, its bureuacrats, and the underlying ideological influences.

If there were no laborers that would work under the current conditions, the conditions would change - capital owners are not stupid. They will, of their own volition, work out agreements with the laborers. Conditions will, if possible given the amount of capital, improve (well, for most workers - the rest will likely be unemployed).


Indeed. My mistake.

Of course you have to show me significant proof of something that I disagree with, based on my use of logic and the evidence I have accumulated over the years...

It really isn't going to help, though. These references and case studies are written with bias inherent.
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby collegestudent22 » Sun Jul 24, 2011 6:03 pm UTC

hawkinsssable wrote:
you proclaim that... we HAVE to help the poor at the cost of everything else.


When? Where?


Statism, in any form, requires that we give up our liberty and property to the state, for the purpose of "helping the poor" or "stopping global warming" or solving some other

And what illnesses, pray tell, are affecting ONLY the poor in modern society?


We could, of course, replace the corpses you posted from the Holocaust, with those that resulted from other socialist policies and controls.

Remember the part where I specified "Trotskyist?" As in "Not Stalinist?"


Statism is the problem. Even if I assume that Trotsky would not have committed abuses of power, what about whoever replaced him? Or the next guy? And what about the general poverty and low standard of living of the USSR after Stalin, and of Mao's China, even without their horrible abuses of power?

Oh, wait. Facism is indistinguishable from Socialism. Stalin is indistinguishable from Lenin. Lenin merely conveyed, and did not adapt or change, Marxist thought. My mistake.


Statism, in any form, inevitably results in abuses of power. It doesn't really matter if it was Stalin, Mussolini or Hitler, or even the monarchs of old Europe.

You are labouring under some staggering misconceptions about what socialism actually means to the people advocating it.


And the people advocating socialism are laboring under some stagger misconceptions of both capitalism and human nature.

The idea that the US Census Bureau is in favour of increasing government power is, well, weird. The idea that the US government in general is in favour of 'big government' seems to me unintuitive and a little out of touch with political developments since, well... the 80's seems as good a line to draw as any, what with Reaganomics and the explicit rejection of the "Great Society".


With the "Great Society" then being taken up again in a limited form by "W", and almost entirely by Obama, I think the rejection during the 80s no longer really applies. Obama's push of government run healthcare and cap-and-trade are merely a couple examples of attempts at increasing government power.


It really isn't going to help, though. These references and case studies are written with bias inherent.


And in that instance I was referring rather explicitly to case studies wherein assumptions are made about the underlying factors that differ from what I would assume. If you assume X, and I assume Y, the inherent bias from your assumption already makes your argument incompatible with my logical basis - it's as if you are arguing with the assumption that 2+2=5, instead of 4, and then building a mathematical argument. It will not convince me. Thus, you must not only show an argument from your assumptions, you need to show me why I should throw out my assumptions in favor of yours - which you have failed to do.

The famine point is a good example. Your assumption that the free market is at fault creates an argument that makes no sense to me. My understanding of famine is as follows: food supply shortages result from drought or other conditions, this causes (in a free market) prices to rise, and the result is it is more difficult for the poor to get food. This can be alleviated by increasing supply through trade, as it is extremely cheap to ship food around the globe now. I fail to see what your argument is based on, as you are claiming that supply is not the problem - which would result in very low prices in a free market economy, where nearly everyone would be able to afford food, such that charity would be enough to help the very poor.

One of my assumptions here is, as Lord Acton said, "Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely." Unless you can give me a good reason to reject this principle of human nature, I fail to see how great power should be concentrated in government, as opposed to the spontaneous order of the marketplace, where things tend to work without anyone "in charge".

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby hawkinsssable » Sun Jul 31, 2011 4:32 am UTC

Let me just conclude by explaining something so obvious I didn't think it needed to be said.

Here are three major philosophies and their prescriptions:
Utilitarianism: The morally right action is the action that produces the most overall utility. Utility usually ends up defined as some form of wellbeing.
Egalitarianism: The morally right action is the one that increases overall equality. Equality is usually defined in terms of wealth, opportunity, or wellbeing.
Liberalism: The morally right action is the one that increases overall liberty. Liberty is defined as the absence of coercion by others, especially the state.

Here is what happens if you take each of the above philosophies to their logical conclusion:
Utilitarianism: A person's organs provide their "owners" with a certain amount of utility. If you killed one person and redistributed their heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, corneas, skin, etc. to people who needed them more, you would increase overall utility. Therefore, the morally right action is to set up a system whereby individuals who contribute the least utility to others (let's say, men and women over sixty without children or anybody willing to avow love for them) have their organs harvested for the greater good.
Egalitarianism: (defined in terms of wealth.) In order to achieve absolute equality, we should sacrifice free choice of occupation, as well as overall wealth, and set up an incredibly large and burdensome bureaucracy to assign people to equally- paying jobs. It doesn't matter that liberty and overall utility will be sacrificed in the process.
Liberalism: Climate change is going to cause some pretty serious consequences for the earth, including massive reductions to overall utility, increasing inequality between temperate wealthy regions and poor, arid regions. As well as large- scale loss of human life and the extinction of a whole range of species.
Image [i](Source: IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007)
Combating climate change involves compromising the liberty of businesses to pollute as much as they want. Therefore, the morally right thing to do is to let climate change run its course, no matter what we happen to sacrifice in doing so.

Thankfully, very few people are absolutely committed to just one of the above philosophies. Look at the following graph:
Image
Do Americans value equality? Yes. Do they value it absolutely? No.

Here is what happens if you're me (or anybody who's not a fundamentalist):
Utility, equality, and liberty are all legitimate, independent social values and none should have absolute priority over the others. Determining how to fairly sacrifice some values for others is incredibly difficult, but there are absolute limits beyond which none of these values should be sacrificed. For example: The limit for liberty falls somewhere BEFORE it being okay to kill people and redistribute their organs; the limit for utility falls somewhere BEFORE allowing global warming to destroy the earth; the limit for inequality falls somewhere BEFORE allowing people to live in conditions of absolute deprivation.
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby collegestudent22 » Sun Jul 31, 2011 6:23 pm UTC

hawkinsssable wrote:Here is what happens if you're me (or anybody who's not a fundamentalist):
Utility, equality, and liberty are all legitimate, independent social values and none should have absolute priority over the others. Determining how to fairly sacrifice some values for others is incredibly difficult, but there are absolute limits beyond which none of these values should be sacrificed. For example: The limit for liberty falls somewhere BEFORE it being okay to kill people and redistribute their organs; the limit for utility falls somewhere BEFORE allowing global warming to destroy the earth; the limit for inequality falls somewhere BEFORE allowing people to live in conditions of absolute deprivation.


Utility and equality are not social values. Utility is meaningless at a social level, because determinations of utility are fundamentally subjective. Note, also, that at a personal level it becomes merely part of liberty. Material equality (as opposed to the equality of treatment known as justice) is meaningless on any level - everyone can be equal in poverty just as they can be equal at any other economic level. In fact, strict equality would result in poverty for everyone, because it would require an end to transfer of wealth, and even $63T split among a population of 7 billion would be less than $9000 per person were we to assume that transfer was allowed but perfect equality was maintained. Wealth is not a static quality - people become more or less wealthy all the time, and wealth increases for everyone as a whole all the time. The philosophy of liberty has resulted in prosperity, even for the poor, in the Western world, and you advocate that we forgo this for the collectivist and statist policies of the nations trapped in poverty and corruption? I see no sense in that.

Quests for enforced material equality result in an elimination of not just liberty, but justice. From the mere fact that people are different, inequality results from equal treatment under the law. Thus, any quest for material equality requires an elimination of justice.

Liberty is not incompatible with the other two, either. If it was made so that everyone was free to do whatever he wished, short of force or fraud to infringe on another's liberty, you could use your own resources and influence to push for voluntary charity to reach equality (or a minimum quality of life for everyone). Alternatively, you could do the same thing, except pushing a utilitarian model where we seek to eliminate waste and maximize utility. Or you could, as I would, worry about your own actions, giving your excess resources to charity, and maximizing the utility of what you keep for yourself. Without liberty, however, you are forced to hand over your resources to an inefficient (i.e. not utilitarian) system that does a poorer job of actual reaching equality (due to corruption and a lack of competition). So, not only have you eliminated liberty, you have failed to better provide the other two ideals.

As for global warming, that science isn't even settled, and is likely just as false as the global cooling hysteria that preceded it. Many prominent climate scientists, such as this one, find the idea of man-made global warming to be nonsensical. And again, man-made climate change can easily be shown to be a false premise with basic common sense - the Earth does not exist in a bubble, where temperature is constant. It does not fall to doom because of a change of a few degrees - it has been much colder and warmer in the past. Correlation =/= causation, and average global temperatures went down between 1940 and the late 1970s and since about 2003, despite increases in greenhouse gases and predictions of the opposite effect. Of course, you accept this "science" that predicts doom as the result of prosperity pretty much blindly, because it offers a reason to limit liberty.

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby hawkinsssable » Mon Aug 01, 2011 2:52 am UTC

Re: The 2007 IPCC Climate Change Report, which synthesised the available evidence on climate change and reflected both the contested areas of climate change science and the areas of scientific consensus:

As for global warming, that science isn't even settled, and is likely just as false as the global cooling hysteria that preceded it. Many prominent climate scientists, such as this one, find the idea of man-made global warming to be nonsensical... Of course, you accept this "science" that predicts doom as the result of prosperity pretty much blindly, because it offers a reason to limit liberty.


Read: "The scientific consensus against climate change exists because scientists hate liberty and want to destroy it! A very small number of scientists, including widely discredited crackpots like Roy Spencer who have been unable to get their 'findings' published in peer- reviewed journals (for reasons like flawed modelling) happen to disagree, providing a flimsy case for allowing businesses to continue to pollute unhindered. Coincidentally, these guys tend to end up promoted and employed by business- funded think tanks. Anybody who finds the scientific consensus in pretty much THE MOST heavily scrutinised field of science more plausible than a bunch of marginal, discredited warming sceptics does so because they hate liberty. Anybody who takes the marginal, discredited warming sceptics seriously loves liberty and is therefore right."

Let's just leave this gem of paranoia and backwards reasoning here for anybody who happens to stumble across this thread in the future.
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby collegestudent22 » Mon Aug 01, 2011 9:31 am UTC

hawkinsssable wrote:The scientific consensus against climate change exists because scientists hate liberty and want to destroy it!


No, it exists primarily because once you say that the world is not ending, but it would be interesting to learn more about the climate and why/how it changes, a major incentive for funding is gone, and your science becomes just another interesting side project with very little chance for immediate use.

A very small number of scientists, including widely discredited crackpots like Roy Spencer who have been unable to get their 'findings' published in peer- reviewed journals (for reasons like flawed modelling) happen to disagree


Roy Spencer has been published in Journal of Climate in 2008. at the very least. Dismissing someone as a crackpot scientist because they disagree with your (non-expert) view is a little, well, unscientific, don't you think? "Flawed modeling"? So, basically, "your model doesn't match our predictions of warming caused by human action"?

providing a flimsy case for allowing businesses to continue to pollute unhindered. Coincidentally, these guys tend to end up promoted and employed by business- funded think tanks.


Yeah, business-funded think tanks, like Harvard, MIT, the University of Alabama, Colorado State University, the University of Delaware, the University of Ottawa, Duke University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the University of Virginia, the University of London, Arizona State University, the Max Planck Society, and NASA. Wait - none of those are business-funded think tanks. And that was just going off the list on Wikipedia.

Anybody who finds the scientific consensus in pretty much THE MOST heavily scrutinised field of science more plausible than a bunch of marginal, discredited warming sceptics does so because they hate liberty.


Not the acceptance of the "consensus" - the acceptance of the theories of DOOM if we don't give control of everything to a world government and shut down virtually all industry. For one, science isn't done by "consensus". Secondly, climatology is not the "most heavily scrutinized" - pretty much anyone who says man is causing climate change is afforded little scrutiny (as evidenced by "Climategate"), while those that disagree are dismissed as "crackpots". And let's not ignore the fact that these are not skeptics of the fact that climate does change, but skeptics of the attribution of cause to man - which makes sense, as ancient history is full of examples of both warmer and colder periods without the use of fossil fuels, and modern history isn't matching up with predictions (contrary to the IPCC predictions, it has been COOLING recently, despite increasing CO2 production worldwide).

John Cristy, contributor to several IPCC reports, said "I'm sure the majority (but not all) of my IPCC colleagues cringe when I say this, but I see neither the developing catastrophe nor the smoking gun proving that human activity is to blame for most of the warming we see. Rather, I see a reliance on climate models (useful but never "proof") and the coincidence that changes in carbon dioxide and global temperatures have loose similarity over time." Reid Bryson, now deceased, but formerly Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said, "It’s absurd. Of course it’s going up. It has gone up since the early 1800s, before the Industrial Revolution, because we’re coming out of the Little Ice Age, not because we’re putting more carbon dioxide into the air."

Let's just leave this gem of paranoia and backwards reasoning here for anybody who happens to stumble across this thread in the future.


People are easily prone to accept something that fits with their preconceptions. According to you, too much liberty is bad - predictions of global catastrophe due to climate change fits that assumption. Used to be that skepticism was a good thing - apparently, that is not the case any longer, and we should accept whatever the "consensus" is. Or else we are all going to be reduced to poverty and death because the globe will warm 3 degrees Celsius - all of 5 degrees Fahrenheit - over the next century! How will we ever adapt to slightly higher average temperatures!

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Aug 02, 2011 12:34 am UTC

hawkinsssable wrote:Liberalism: The morally right action is the one that increases overall liberty. Liberty is defined as the absence of coercion by others, especially the state.


This is only a consequentialist definition of liberalism, saying that liberty is the good end which justifies any means. All forms of consequentialism specify an end which justifies any means; that's what makes them consequentialist, and causes the problems you described for the three positions to defined here. But most forms of (classical) liberalism are deontological in nature, not consequentialist. They say that the morally right action is one that does not force other people to do things; that regardless of the end you may have in mind, that is the correct means by which to proceed with trying to accomplish them.

For an example of the contrast, John Stuart Mill was a consequentialist liberal (and also a utilitarian, holding that liberty was the best way of achieving utility, which he defined as happiness). Mill held that "civilized" cultures (like his England) should conquer "uncivilized" cultures (like India, which was under British rule at the time) and "civilize" them into a condition where they would embrace liberalism, because that would increase liberty (and thence utility), which was an end worthy of such means, in his eyes. A deontological liberal, on the other hand, would say that nobody should be conquering anybody because that would violate their liberty; it might be permissible (though not obligatory) to liberate someone from their oppressors, but it would be nonsensical to force them to be liberal, because that would be illiberal itself and thus wrong.

Most liberals, being of the deontological kind, do not argue that the government should do whatever maximizes liberty. They argue that the government, in doing whatever it is trying to do (which may be quite noble ends), should not itself violate liberty. I think I showed this clearly earlier in getting cs22's approval of a government-like social-welfare organization which does not fund itself through forced taxation.



On that note, I thought of an analogy about this the other day. Imagine it's a few centuries ago, and someone has come up with a sound argument against creationism; but Charles Darwin has not yet even been born, much less taken his inspirational trip to the Galapagos. So we now have good reason to believe, by whatever argument, that creationism is false; but we don't have an alternative explanation for how humans and such came to be how we are now. The creationists laugh at this state of affairs, and ask the anti-creationists "So, what, we all just happened, simply by random chance, then? And the next passing storm might assemble a fine carriage from driftwood for me?"

Imagine how ludicrous it would be if the anti-creationists of this hypothetical alternate history replied "Yeah, I guess so, because creationism is definitely false." A modern-day biologist would instead reply "Of course not! Random chance drives the process, sure, but the organization of matter into the extant organisms we see today was guided by [the processes theorized by the modern evolutionary synthesis]". Likewise, a wise anti-creationist of this hypothetical alternate history would reply "Of course not! I'm not certain how we got here, but we definitely weren't created; however, figuring out how we did come to be is a very important open question...."

The analogy here is that liberals have good arguments against why society shouldn't be run the way it is, by coercive state power. But then when asked "Then how are we to feed and cloth and house the poor and preserve our air and water and forests and ice caps? Just trust that people will manage it all right by themselves? The rich will care for the poor out of the kindness of their hearts, and buy vast tracts of natural land just to preserve them?", typical liberals reply "Yeah, I guess so, because state coercion is definitely wrong." Ok, so state coercion is definitely wrong, and people will have to manage it all right by themselves; but there's a big important open question of how, which we can't just shrug and ignore. Anti-creationism, no matter how true it is and how good reason you have to think it's true, sounds ludicrous until you have a theory of evolution to explain how, by random chance without any intelligent creator, things like humans could plausibly come to be. And likewise, anti-authoritarianism, no matter how true it is and how good reason you have to think it's true, sounds ludicrous until you have some kind of plan for how, all voluntarily without any state coercion, social institutions could plausibly function.

That's the problem I'm trying to solve with my talk of an investment-funded welfare system, property-law-based environmental regulation, and so on. How can we accomplish social ends by liberal means? Because illiberal means are definitely not OK, but those social ends are definitely not just going to accomplish themselves, either.
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby Vash » Wed Aug 03, 2011 1:33 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
hawkinsssable wrote:Liberalism: The morally right action is the one that increases overall liberty. Liberty is defined as the absence of coercion by others, especially the state.


This is only a consequentialist definition of liberalism


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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby BIGmexico » Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:15 pm UTC

The joke is explained in the box at the top of the comic. A (fictional, yet perhaps a charicature of a real)group was doing a story about how distorted Amercan's view of the world outside of the United States is (in order to be smug, smug people are frowned upon by xkcd). Their plan backfired, however, because educated Americans are actually pretty decent at geography. There might be a few jokes about how they classify things (like most of Africa being brown, except for the southernmost tip, which we are all fairly certain is called South Africa), and there are a few mistakes because most American citizens are human, and thus make mistakes, and don't get hung up on perfection. Then there are the "Are you sure you're American?" "I read BBC News." jokes showing that we aren't isolated from outside media. It's a pretty well executed joke in defense of Americans, which the ones of us who get it appreciate.

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby collegestudent22 » Fri Aug 05, 2011 3:13 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:That's the problem I'm trying to solve with my talk of an investment-funded welfare system, property-law-based environmental regulation, and so on. How can we accomplish social ends by liberal means? Because illiberal means are definitely not OK, but those social ends are definitely not just going to accomplish themselves, either.


I would agree with this, but I would also say that it is more important that we avoid illiberal means. The great thing about liberty is that you don't need such a plan. There was no "free market" plan - but when the market became free, or at least as close as it was allowed to become, prosperity was the result. This prosperity has resulted in a living condition for the poor that often exceeds that of the rich in the Third World. (Have you seen the dump that cost bin Laden $1M in Pakistan?)

In addition, no solution is perfect. Working with a total elimination of poverty (or a "perfect" environment) in mind, no solution would work. My argument is that the combination of the prosperity of the free market and religious and other charitable work is a better solution than the bureaucracy of government, even without the consideration of the illiberal means involved with the latter.

The beauty of liberty means that people can decide the "how" for themselves. If you find the solution to poverty is wealth redistribution, you can work to gain wealth and then give some of it to the poor - you can even attempt to convince others to voluntarily do so. If, like me, you find that it makes more sense to give them the very basic necessities - food and shelter - and work to get them a job.

Treating the rich as scary boogeymen, instead of people with individual desires and ideas of what is important, is much of the problem. The rich often DO, of their own volition, help the poor, or try to preserve the environment - or take up any number of causes, from curing AIDs to alternative energy. Often, they do some of these things to make money by providing a solution, but that isn't always the case. At one point in the 1890s, the rich banker JP Morgan even bailed out the US Government.

Would hawkinssable, after gaining significant wealth, not care about the poor or global warming any more? Would he not use some of that wealth to voluntarily assist these causes? Why should we assume that those that do gain the wealth act any differently?


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