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October 06, 2015

Comments

Well lets see bobby, one talks about society as a whole, the other is a racist, sexist, class based rant. I guess I go with the one that talks about as a more or less singular people.

But:
But seriously. Are you saying that the % of people who are now overcome with greed and a desire to cheat the rest of us has gone up over the last few years? Why would that be?

I am saying that from a cultural contract standpoint more people are willing to depend more on the largesse of society through the government. YOU, turned that into cheating and greed. Why would that be? Because your way I sound really negative instead of my way that ponders a perfectly legitimate question.

In 1934, there were a lot more people that went "on the dole" than in prior years. They didn't WANT to be on the dole, they resisted it greatly, but their circumstances forced it on them.

Those that didn't chose to starve to death, that is.

Perhaps some were "okay" with it, perhaps some rationalized it, perhaps some conveniently "forgot" what they were forced to do to survive.

Get the economy back to "moderately good" and we can talk about cultures of dependency. Until then, it sounds an awful lot like victim-blaming.

Working itself out of a job only works if there's no pushback. There's pushback. There's a lot of pushback. The current generation of young men include an awful lot of individuals with victim complexes, who - to hearken back to your example a couple of paragraphs higher - fervently embrace the idea that any and all failures they've suffered in life don't reflect on them or their actions, but rather are evidence of systematic sexism (or racism) directed at them; cults of victimhood are not limited to one side of the lunchmeat.

I agree with almost all of this. I'm not sure how one quantifies *how much* pushback there is. Whatever it is, it is chump change compared to the good old days. That said, losers who won't or can't take responsibility for their own shortcomings--the first step in overcoming one's shortcomings--can and will blame any external source that comes to hand. We will never get away from this phenomena.

But, I'm on board with your larger points: the problem isn't solved yet and people will make any and all kinds of excuses for themselves.

McTX, if your complaint is that women generalize from the particular after a series of experiences with anonymous, rude men, I guess then women have reached parity with our half of the human race in the area of generalizing from the particular.

I don't have a complaint on this general topic other than the desire to shoe horn every unpleasant encounter that life has to offer into someone's favorite "ism". It's tiresome. If there was ever an age of tolerance, this is it, and the whining is louder now than ever.

Feminists should focus more on the true bastards out there. To repeat my first comment: women should be taught/encouraged/helped to come forward, not just for themselves, but to keep the bastard from doing it again. Even if he beats the first rap, the second or third will be a lot harder to walk away from. And they are recidivists. Make no mistake.

As for general, everyday sexism, the smaller the organization, the better chance you'll find it IF the big daddy is that kind of dick. You may still find it in a bigger shop, but if you report it, something will happen.

We are in receipt of your application to be born to wealth, and it has been evaluated. Unfortunately, you did not meet the submission deadline (pre-delivery), and another candidate was selected.

All kidding aside, my dad told me years ago that 'the man/woman who marries money, earns it'. A very sizable percentage of trust fund babies, business inheritors, etc are pretty unpleasant if not downright awful people. Based on my not-that-limited experience. They probably had shitty parents who substituted money for love, time, attention, etc, but regardless, not being born into that club is not the disadvantage one might think.

it sounds an awful lot like victim-blaming

with a big dollop of knee-jerk-Obama-blaming on top.

"Get the economy back to "moderately good" and we can talk about cultures of dependency. Until then, it sounds an awful lot like victim-blaming. "

Funny, the President says the economy is good. I am pretty tired of every discussion turning into name calling, "victim blaming" being the ultimate attempt to stop all further discussion.

One of the things we should be discussing is the victimization of vast swaths of the US citizenry by policies meant to create dependence on the government, thus a Democratic voting base.

Not to mention that in this context it really belittles the victims in other contexts where victim blaming is a much more real issue.

meant to create dependence on the government, thus a Democratic voting base.

yay!

i was missing this one. i thought i'd never see it again after Brett's departure. now if you'd just phrase it correctly ("the Democrat Plantation"), it'd be just like old times.

One of our closest friends recently retired as the VP Human Resources for a major oil company. They had plenty of good old boy stuff out in the field in years gone by. She and others stamped it out.

I'm just gonna focus on this because I have a bunch of friends who are merchant marine and work in the oil industry. One of them is chief engineer on a drilling rig; another is second in command of a supertanker. And the thing they tell me is that the above statement is very wrong.

One of them found that she couldn't get hired despite being awesome...at least until she replaced Rachel with R on her resume. Everyone wants to interview R but no one wants to interview Rachel. Two of my friends specifically discussed sexism with the director of HR at a corporate event. Their analysis: the HR director is both completely clueless and also hostile to even the concept of sexism. "Sexism is against the rules, therefore there is no sexism in the company".

I am saying that from a cultural contract standpoint more people are willing to depend more on the largesse of society through the government.

There are a few sides to this.

It seems to me that more people make use of, specifically, food stamps nowadays because they would have a hard time making enough money to buy food otherwise.

The question to ask and answer, it seems to me, is not "Why are more people relying on government?". The question is "Why are more people in a position of needing to rely on government?".

It is, in fact, remarkable that so many people find themselves needing to participate in food stamps, or TANF, or Medicaid, or any number of other programs.

A very large number of the adults who participate in those programs *have jobs*. They just don't make enough money at their job to afford housing + utilities + transportation + food.

Median personal income is mid-20K, median household income is just over $50K.

$50K is OK in some parts of the country, but is just about getting by in other parts, especially for households with kids.

And half the households in the country make less than that.

A lot of people are actually poor, where 'poor' means they don't have enough income to pay for everything they need.

Not luxuries, but basic stuff.

That is the problem to solve.

I really don't think people have somehow changed dramatically over the last 40 or 50 years, such that they have some kind of greatly increased comfort level with receiving public assistance.

I think there are just more people who are poor.

The reason that isn't even more glaringly obvious than it already is, is precisely because social support programs exist.

On a personal note, it's not clear to me why it's bad for people to rely on their government for assistance when they have hard times. To me, that is a demonstration of government helping people, which is certainly at least one of the primary functions of government.

Especially in a self-governing polity, i.e., a government of, by, and for, the people.

It seems to me, anyway.

"One of the things we should be discussing is the victimization of vast swaths of the US citizenry by policies meant to trash the economy, so that the
problems of 2008 could be blamed on having a Democrat in the White House
"

FIFY. Compare and contrast, the governmental response to 2008 and prior postwar recessions.

"One of the things we should be discussing is the victimization of vast swaths of the US citizenry by policies meant to create dependence on the government, thus a Democratic voting base."

Yes, LBJ certainly blew it again, like he did with Civil Rights, by trapping all of of those Medicare and Medicaid recipients into sending in their address-change cards after moving to the Sun Belt and joining the Republican's Southern Strategy, while still receiving their checks and nursing home accommodations.

It's when the immigrant Mexicans, former slave blacks, and lower income whites already in situ began receiving a little income support to ameliorate the low wages for emptying bed pans and blowing leaves around and having their unions deliberately busted that things got out of hand.

Who is insulted and victimized again?

Probably Paul Ryan, who along with his Mom and siblings saw things through on SS survivor benefits and the kindness of strangers and was so insulted he ran out and made a name for himself in the entrepreneurial private sector first chance he got.

In healthcare, we cooled our heels since at least 1948 for conservatives to create policies meant to make people dependent on the private sector, but try as they might, at least 50 million folks were shut out of that dependence and had to go without, with the proviso that emergency rooms at least had to supply overpriced aspirin and bandaids.

McKT, I agree pretty much on trust fund babies and their awfulness, but I still think, given half a chance, or half a million, I could break that stereotype.

A very sizable percentage of trust fund babies, business inheritors, etc are pretty unpleasant if not downright awful people.

I also kind-of agree with this, or at least it is consistent with my own experience.

However, now that I am a man of some years, and have achieved a concomitant degree of maturity and prudence, I believe I may at this point be prepared to take on the risks and foibles of unwarranted wealth.

In case anybody out there has a big pile of Benjamins that they need to dispose of, I am at your service.

However, now that I am a man of some years, and have achieved a concomitant degree of maturity and prudence, I believe I may at this point be prepared to take on the risks and foibles of unwarranted wealth.

WRS

Regarding food and the stamps thereof, I could spend some time coming up with a "narrative" about the cost of Cheerios to the consumer over the past 40 years, the return to shareholders of holding Cheerio shares, and the growth of executive pay relative to the stagnation of wages among General Mills rank and file employees to reach one conclusion or another, but if I spend any more time blogging today, I may have to apply for welfare, and as much as some of you think I crave doing that, I am really just a little tired and will catch you later.

General Mills shares.

It's not clear to me why it's bad for people to rely on their government for assistance when they have hard times. To me, that is a demonstration of government helping people, which is certainly at least one of the primary functions of government. (emphasis added)

I think a big part of the difference in views on the whole topic is right here.

On one side are those, like Russell, who see welfare as primarily a temporary expedient to help people in trouble. There are some who, for whatever reason, never manage to get out of trouble -- but very rarely for lack of trying.

On the other side are those who see welfare as a permanent lifestyle. That is, people go on welfare and never leave -- and have no interest in leaving. In short, it is a trap (deliberately set by one party for its own benefit?) to make people dependent.

I'm not sure that there are very many people, on either side of the question, who can be convinced otherwise. Details like the typical length of time a person will be on welfare, or how much (if anything) welfare recipients earn for themselves by working? Both sides will simply discount, or at least explain away, any facts which don't happen to fit their views.

I can see now why low income voters who might be on food stamps and who are unlikely to get off work on election day to cast their votes for Democrats are such an electoral threat, given their relatively low turnout, compared to retired folks in the Sun Belt who play a little golf and maybe stop by and see the grand kids on their way to the polls to vote for Republicans who promise to keep the government's hands off their Medicare.

It all makes sense.

One of the things we should be discussing is the victimization of vast swaths of the US citizenry by policies meant to create dependence on the government, thus a Democratic voting base.

Ah, yes. The old agree with my premise first, then we can have a discussion dodge.

Not gonna' happen.

instead of my way that ponders a perfectly legitimate question.

So back in the golden age there were no such programs and therefore no such "choice" to "accept" them. It just sucked to be them and they died, prematurely, unlamented, good riddance.

So yes, there certainly are more of "them" these days.

This you assert is an "issue" that merits some kind of "discussion".

I detect some circularity here.

I think a big part of the difference in views on the whole topic is right here.

Sometimes hard times last a lifetime. For any of a variety of reasons.

I would be absolutely the opposite of surprised if people who were in a position to need public help voted for (D) rather than (R). Because the (D) party has, for the last 50 or more years, been more likely to advocate policies that help them.

Just like I would completely not surprised if people who were in a position to benefit from (R) policies voted for (R) candidates.

If you live here, are a citizen, and are old enough to vote, you get to vote. And, you deserve to have your interests represented. Your income level is not relevant.

It's also not like high levels of poverty are completely unrelated to public policies. And, it's not like public policies that create high levels of poverty don't actually benefit some people.

If they didn't, the policies wouldn't exist, and the people who champion them wouldn't find themselves holding public office.

It makes as little sense to criticize (D)'s for advocating policies that help poor people, or to criticize poor people for voting for them, as it does to criticize (R)'s for advocating policies that benefit wealthier people, or to criticize wealthier people from voting for them.

Everybody is entitled use their vote to further their own interests. The poor folks have the advantage of numbers, the wealthy folks have the advantage of money.

The way things are set up nowadays, wealthy folks have the edge.

"Everybody is entitled use their vote to further their own interests"

Everyone SHOULD use their vote to further their own interests. That's how a democracy figures out what is in the (overall) best interests of the citizenry.

Everybody is entitled use their vote to further their own interests

Excpet, of course, for those who are prevented from voting. Say by making up fantasies about voting fraud, scheduling voting when lots of them can be counted on to be working, etc. They, apparently, are not entitled to vote at all.

Democrats in their zeal to gain bullet-proof majorities to ensure more and more citizens become dependent on government seem to overlook the advantages of closing DMVs and polling places abnd preventing early voting in wealthier districts, as well as coming up with more and more documentation requirements for the privileged, the lucky, the achievers, and the preborn, who had better get their acts together as they push down the birth canal, or their lot in life is going to be reduced just by the act of being born.

The Founders solved many of the problems Marty finds objectionable by limiting voting to propertied white males.

But, no, we had to open the barn door.

They knew just about everyone else in America, from Abigail Adams to black slaves, if granted the right to vote, would vote their own selfish interests rather than voting for higher prerogatives like keeping the franchise and whatever protections government affords to the propertied and the pale bedicked, as the Founders and the Lord intended.

Small government, but one that maintains the watchtowers over the property that might be converted into food stamps.

Russell and Count--actually, you are onto something. Coming into money fairly late in life is not nearly as problematic as either inheriting early in life or otherwise coming into a windfall in the early years.

If you start out rich, you are far more likely to NOT learn to value things properly. It's not impossible to grow into a responsible adult if your family is very wealthy. Certainly I have known some. But it does seem to be challenging.

My impression is that what makes the difference is having parents who are not overly impressed with money. And do think it important that their children learn that some things they have to work for -- and there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to working. In short, they teach their kids that money is a useful tool, not a marker of virtue.

I agree, McTX.

In that case, I'll split mine with Russell.

Unemployment is a structural problem in capitalism

If you'll notice, now that unemployment has dropped to near 5% (this use to be a cause for great celebration among conservatives) and those chronically unemployed over the past eight years are finally to some extent seeking jobs again because they notice heightened demand for their services, the Fed hawks/inflation hawks, who seem to be the same ones who champion supply-side economics, in the financial community and among the pundits are now lobbying for interest rates to rise because inflation might creep into the system (despite our deflationary world economy in many respects) because we're finally seeing some wage gains.

Too many people now getting to within reach of at least watching everyone else eat high off the hog.

These same suspects have not viewed their out-sized wage gains and equity and bond portfolio gains over the past eight years as reason to fear inflation and to take the punch bowl away.

A cheap supply of labor is one of the linchpins of the supply side.

Notice though that Social Security recipients won't be receiving their pittance of a cost of living raise next year because fuel prices are down.

Food and shelter inflation are killing them, but hey, those aren't factors.

Everything seems gamed structurally to keep working folks on their tippy toes without quite reaching the brass ring.

"Sexism is against the rules, therefore there is no sexism in the company".

I've seen Kids Today arguing that sexism no longer exists in business or even society because the Civil Rights Act exists. Seriously, no joke. I've seen this argument for racism too. As near as I could tell these statements were made in earnest. I'm somewhat frightened by the political naivete of the up-and-coming generation. Admittedly, it's a bit scarier hearing that level of defiant cluelessness from an HR director.

To some degree, the sexism that manages to survive and thrive in the wild has undergone natural selection, so it's the strongest, fastest, most nimble sexism; hard to catch or sometimes even identify or track. It's still out there, though, hiding in the rough terrain of subjective judgement and beneath the jumbled cover of plausible deniability...

"The way things are set up nowadays, wealthy folks have the edge."

Nowadays? When was this not true?

Brett, er, I mean Marty, got me thinking that it was long past time to refresh my knowledge of the Ur text of the Democratic Party, Protocols of the Elders of the New Deal.

Alas, the secret handshake stuff about consciously passing hand-out programs to keep the poors addicted to the Democratic Party has been expunged. Truly a sad state of affairs. I note also that all the similarly highly confidential stuff in the GOP platform to give everything we have to rich people for nearly or absolutely nothing has likewise been expunged.

A sad day indeed for democracy if you ask me.

But as to my ORIGINAL POINT, I give you this.

It's really not that hard to understand, Marty.

No bobbyp its not, don't know why you can't. None of those things equal the other. Some people pay for stuff then get it, some people don't pay, they just get.

"..., those who get them through the tax system usually don’t realize they’ve received a handout."

So, if a mugger allows you to keep a fiver, you got a handout?

No need to try to muddle this with libertarian "mugger" rhetoric.

If a toll collector on the turnpike systematically and routinely takes 5 dollars for a given route (with a listed toll of 10 dollars) from red cars, but 10 dollars from otherwise-identical non-red cars for the same route, that's a handout. You can argue all you like that it was your clever financial acumen that led you to buy a red car (or get yours painted red), but you're not earning that 5 dollar discount. It's a legislative entitlement that's handed out to those meeting the specified criteria, not something they earned. It's a rebate, not a lower rate. You still owe the 10 dollars, but red car drivers are given a gift by the turnpike of 5 dollars as soon as they pull up. They don't work for it, they don't create it. They just claim it and take it.

Some people pay for stuff then get it, some people don't pay, they just get.

If you insist on creating a class of people who essentially have nothing, then I guess this is true. That just means that some people get stuff and then argue about who has to pay for it.

You essentially have it backwards.

So, if a mugger allows you to keep a fiver, you got a handout?

I assume your mugger = our government? You mean the democratically elected government of this nation? You know, the one that prints all the money to begin with and levies taxes to spend on those things we collectively decide they should?

Or you're talking about some other entity of which I am unfamiliar.

Please clarify.

None of those things equal the other

From a fiscal accounting standpoint they very much do. Who paid for the ability to deduct your mortgage interest from your IRS bill? Who pays for agriculture price supports?

These are handouts...just like food stamps.

What do the poor pay? They pay with their dignity every day they clean your bathroom, sack your burger, pick your food, or rake your leaves. They pay with blood, sweat, toil and tears.

And we give then nothing but a ration of shit.

But by all means, we have to cough up big handouts to corporations and bankers.

I think we can do better.

If we're equating the tax system with mugging, then let's cut out the conversation altogether, divide up the cruise missiles the muggers have made from our donations, and start lobbing them at each other from our separate foxholes.

Tell you what, I elect you to represent. Now, put on a disguise and hold me up round the next corner like we've never met and I'll act shocked and all unrepresented and you run off with the money and pay for part of my next colonoscopy like we hadn't arranged that ahead of time and then I'll go into a snit and make free tea in Boston Harbor while dressed as Tonto.

We don't deserve a country or a government.

We deserve to be blown up.

Well, the well-to-do and the elites in general always accused democracy to be the system where the have-nots vote themselves free meals.
I also hear from conservatives and libertarians alike on a regular base that the US are NOT a democracy (for that very reason) but a republic that adopted some democratic elements (and already too many of them in hindsight). Iirc it was just in the last election cycle that a GOP Congresscritter mused about the desire to return to the original system of vote only by the landed gentry (or their modern equivalent). Why not compromise* and go with the three-class-franchise? Same effect but keeps at least the veneer. And it's easier than 1-dollar-1-vote.

*OK, I know that that word is anathema

This may be a bit wackly, but my take on why Europeans are much more comfortable with governmental support systems that would cause apoplexy in American small government advocates is that 2 world wars rolling through your neighborhood is a useful reminder of the fact that you aren't really in control of your own destiny. Of course, it was Bismarck who started the first system of social insurance, so the seed had been planted earlier, but I find it interesting that historical forces of the last century have helped make social insurance more rather than less entrenched.

On the other hand, you've got folks like Ben Carson who think they would have been able to zig zag their way to a gunman and deliver a perfectly timed karate chop to the neck 'Hi-ya!' and save the day. I'm sure that Carson thinks that if he were in France in May 1940, he could have single-handedly stopped the German blitzkreig.

And while, from time to time, the rhetoric that we see espoused by Marty here turns up over there, (and it is not really surprising that it gets its biggest hearing in the never occupied UK), and is often directed at immigrants/refugees, I can't (and folks might prove me wrong) see European nations doing away with what they have.

Some people pay for stuff then get it, some people don't pay, they just get.

and which are you?

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/05/which-states-are-givers-and-which-are-takers/361668/

libjap, Poland may be a bit of an outlier. Traditional xenophobia, still rampant antisemitism and a rogue media empire (Radio Marya) run by the Polish equivalent of the Westboro Baptist Church (although formally part of the RCC) that makes Fox News look like the voice of moderation have shifted the country far to the Right since the end of communism. The Kaczyński brothers also instigated their version of McCarthyiism. No surprise that Poland was about the only European country to throw in its lot with Cheney/Bush. Many have emigrated because they could not stand it anymore (I know some). The constant us vs. them demagoguery inevitably spilled over into the social economy. The Polish right follows similar trends as the US Right, pushing neoliberalism disguised as protection of the true Poles against the parasites and other enemies of the people (Germans, Russians, Jews, non-Catholics, liberals/lefties etc.). Admittedly, fringe groups in Germany and less fringy groups in Russia provide them with enough (political) ammunition for free to give some credence to the paranoia stoking.
I do not know enough about the economic policies of the Orban regime in Hungary. To me the regime looks like the Austro fasciscm post-WW1 plus nepotistic and partially kleptocratic tendencies but I have no idea about their official economic goals.

Hartmut: The Polish right follows similar trends as the US Right, pushing neoliberalism disguised as protection of the true Poles against the parasites ...

Hartmut, do you know whether American right-wing groups play much of a role in stoking the Polish right's right-wingery? I'm asking about practical, operational steps like drafting "model" anti-gay legislation, providing PR "consultants", funding "think tanks", and so forth. Mere inspiration is taken for granted, and anyway inspiration flows both ways.

--TP

back to wj, with an informative summary:

On one side are those, like Russell, who see welfare as primarily a temporary expedient to help people in trouble. There are some who, for whatever reason, never manage to get out of trouble -- but very rarely for lack of trying.

On the other side are those who see welfare as a permanent lifestyle. That is, people go on welfare and never leave -- and have no interest in leaving. In short, it is a trap (deliberately set by one party for its own benefit?) to make people dependent.

Summarize further: one side sees people on welfare because of 'a character flaw: they're lazy moochers'. The other side sees people on welfare because of 'circumstances, largely beyond their control'.

Clearly, South Carolina is a lazy welfare-dependent moocher. We don't need to look at 'causes' or anything like that, just the fact that they're getting stuff for free is enough.

Cut 'em off, otherwise they'll never stand on their own, and besides SC is trapped on the Democrat Plantation, that's why they always vote for those pinko Dems that promise more 'free stuff'.

Well, now, hold on there.

Let's not forfeit our liberal sensibilities in a snit over a one-way gravy train.

Didn't South Carolina secede from the Union and start the most egregious, brutal, and traitorous series of actions perpetrated by citizens against the United States of America in its history?

However, this stimulates my empathic glands ... for them. Call me felonious, but the Thelonious Monk in me wants to reach out see if my inclinations can be ruined.

It may seem like we've been paying these folks reparations all these milleniums since, instead of the other way round as God intended, but if we step back and consider this for a second, I say take the high road.

Let's extend a pathway to citizenship for each and every South Carolinian so they can continue to pursue the bounties of our great civilization like they since have they sneaked back across the border without so much as a howdy-doo-sorry-about-that-little-dust-up-we-don't-know-what-we-was-thinking-but-please-don't-stop-the-sugar-express.

Welcome them back.

One by one.

There will be hoops, of course, to jump through. Language remediation classes, for one, and I believe they need to become fluent in Spanish as well so they can partake of the full flowering of our Nation's cultural heritage and besides, "Paco, stoop over there, cheaply, and fetch me them onions," seems a little rough-edged in English.

Besides, weren't they just subjected to the privations and horrors of too much water and not enough drainage with the recent deluge and all?

After all, that storm was called down on them by one of their confederates, Michelle Bachmann, a Minnesotan Scarlett O'Hara who carries an AR-15 beneath her petticoats and for whom no one gives a damn, as God's sure vengeance for Barack Obama's jihad against the Jews typified by his supplying of their country with the multi-billion dollar Iron Dome?

Seems like God aimed that torrential catastrophe against the wrong State, when Washington D.C. was right up the coast, but you no never mind, we can divert funds from various boondoggle walls and build some dykes and high ground for South Carolinians to keep their pant legs dry the next time haters hate.

That should keep them in fine fettle unless the dykes meet up end to end and decide they want to marry, and then Bachmann may once again open the heavens and sic the floods upon them, but we'll still be there for them.


I believe I may at this point be prepared to take on the risks and foibles of unwarranted wealth

russell is wise beyond his years. May said wisdom be rewarded.

LOL.

I'm just thinking of the children, y'all!

one side sees people on welfare because of 'a character flaw: they're lazy moochers'.

Some of them see it that way. Brett and Marty see it as a conscious plan by the Democratic Party to adopt public policies that create and/or enhance the number of "moochers" who are perfectly willing to forego gainful employment (widows and orphans take note!)and purposely choose poverty so they can live off handouts (stay on the plantation) and vote for Democratic Party candidates in elections.

Evidence for this theory? Why none is needed. It is asserted as self-evidently true.

This bs is claimed to then be the basis of a "serious discussion".

It is laughable.

Stack up the money spent for "welfare" against that spent for handouts to other interest groups, especially the well off. There is no comparison.

The rich have bought this country lock, stock, and barrel. An equally tenuous, but more realistic theory, is that the rich own both parties and go along with welfare programs just to keep the pleebs quiet and maintain the fiction that there really are two political parties competitively seeking to advance their interests.

maintain the fiction that there really are two political parties competitively seeking to advance their interests.

compare the statements of the current GOP frontrunners, Trump and Carson to statements from the two Dems frontrunners.

the difference between the two parties is pretty clear.

Some people pay for stuff then get it, some people don't pay, they just get.

So we've got a simple solution. We get rid of all, repeat all, of the welfare programs. Including the military, of course, since it provides lots of jobs (and training!) for those who get out of high schools with no worthwhile skills.

But my question is, will we have the government police up the piled up bodies of those who starve? Or does that somehow get done by public-spirited citizens?

And who will provide jobs for those who were so undernourished as children that their mental abilities are not up to doing jobs in the modern economy?

And spare a thought for those unfortunate folks in places like Iowa, who voted for uber-conservatives. And now find their economy falling apart as farm subsidies disappear. Including those d*mn green subsidies which account for much of corn production.

once again, there is a difference between a moocher, or greedy or lazy person and someone who has been raised in an environment where welfare, wic, subsidized housing and snap are just a way of life. Where they are streams of income regularly used with little regard to how much an individual makes. This cultural

the difference between the two parties is pretty clear.

Within the generally accepted boundaries of political discussions in the USA, that is certainly true.

I did say "tenuous". As far as flights of fancy are concerned, my theory is a lot more grounded in reality (Naderism and variants thereof, which see)than that offered by Marty, who essentially argues that Democrats simply seek power to have power and have no policy goals other than those consciously adopted to gain that power. Hence, welfare programs are just a means to the end of acquiring power.

That no documentation is provided to back up this preposterous claim is obviously irrelevant.

Who needs proof when you can argue by mere assertion?

once again, there is a difference between a moocher, or greedy or lazy person and someone who has been raised in an environment where welfare, wic, subsidized housing and snap are just a way of life. Where they are streams of income regularly used with little regard to how much an individual makes. This cultural

Even if you accept this premise, it really does nothing to advance the argument that this is the successful result of a plan executed as intended.

It's sad and wasteful of human potential for people to rely on welfare across generations. I don't want that, and I don't know that anybody does, not even the evil cabal that is the Democratic party.

This cultural

Yes, and it is also economic, and political.

All of those things. Probably some other things as well.

We choose to organize ourselves in a certain way. The consequences of that, among other things, include a lot of people being poor enough that it's hard for them to afford stuff they need. And, where the meaning of "need" is also cultural, i.e., we don't seem to be comfortable with people living in their cars, or in cardboard boxes, or eating out of dumpsters.

I agree that it would be better if folks could do for themselves. It wouldn't make much of a difference to me, personally, but it would probably be better *for them*.

Getting to "better" will require a variety of things to change.

Getting to "better" will require a variety of things to change.

Absolutely. But one thing we might give some serious thought to discarding is repeatedly lecturing and haranguing some segments of society (you know who!) about the deficiencies of their "culture".

Because we have been doing so for literally HUNDREDS OF YEARS, and the results are there for all to see.

..someone who has been raised in an environment where welfare, wic, subsidized housing and snap are just a way of life. ... This cultural"

Then you should have no difficulty identifying the groups of people that constitute that particular "culture". Please do so. Without circularity.


Well snarki lets see, my sisters kids, their neighbors, the people they hang out with, some of the people I know, some people I hung out with when I was younger, my first girlfriend and her husband. I can identify quite a few, mostly lower middle class to poor people who have not taken advantage of the opportunities available to improve their lot over a couple of generations.

someone who has been raised in an environment where welfare, wic, subsidized housing and snap are just a way of life

me.

now 45 year old white guy working as a programmer for SAS.

that's who you're talking about, right?

Last time I bought some items at Target®, some of them were on sale. Thanks for the handout Target®!

I can identify quite a few, mostly lower middle class to poor people who have not taken advantage of the opportunities available to improve their lot over a couple of generations.

The two questions that leap immediately to mind for me are:

1. Do you think this is the result of a master plan by the Democratic party?

2. If you wanted to end this cycle, how would you propose to do it as a matter of policy?

Last time I bought some items at Target®, some of them were on sale. Thanks for the handout Target®!

So many silly analogies, so little time.

Last time I bought some items at Target®, some of them were on sale. Thanks for the handout Target®!

Remind me again about your legal obligation to buy those particular items at that particular time from that particular vendor?

So many silly analogies, so little time.

Yes! Social Security is just like HAPPY HOURM\ at the local lounge.

A special tax break or subsidy to a certain segment of industry in a particular region is JUST LIKE a sale at Target!

This must explain libertarianism's broad appeal.

that's who you're talking about, right?

no, no, no....not you. THEM!

Tony P., I know that the type of guys from the US that push 'kill the gays' legislation in Africa also visit Poland and Russia and it seems quite regularly 'for moral support'. But it also seems that this mainly happened after those two countries came up with their anti-gay legislation and/or campaigns all by themselves. It looks to me more like US neonazis visiting Germany to meet likeminded people as often happens. It's of course possible that there is some sharing of resources too (same with the neonazis who store most propaganda material on US servers out of range of German law enforcement).

Hartmut, the question that arises is, which direction is that "moral support" really going? (Or is it bi-directional?)

Russell,

Here's a chart for you!

Pretty amazing if you ask me. Comment welcome.

bobby

To explain my point of view. The quote is crouched in business terms, but can equally apply to individuals.

"...tax breaks are not economically or ethically equivalent to receiving subsidies. Simply put, being permitted to keep your income is not the same as taking it from competitors. Exemptions and loopholes do not forcibly redistribute wealth; taxes and subsidies do, thereby benefiting some producers at the expense of others."
No, Tax Breaks are not Subsidies

Charles,

That is simply not true. Exemptions and loopholes are just passing the buck for somebody else to pick up the public tab.

Further, if your "income" is enhanced by a special public policy (tariffs would be an example), how can you say that is not "redistributionist"?

Charles,
Suppose you and I both make $90K, and are both taxed at 30% -- $27K each.

Except I have access to a loophole (or exemption or whatever) which allows me to avoid being taxed on 1/3 of my income ($30K, leaving me to be taxed on $60K). Now, effectively, I am taxed at 20% ($60K x 0.3 = $18K = $90K x 0.2). While you are still taxed at 30%.

That is the same as if I had gotten taxed at 30% on my entire income, and then gotten a subsidy equivalent of $9K.

It doesn't matter how you do the accounting. The bottom line is the same. Which means that the economic impact is the same.

wj, I'd say (from impression not hard data) that in Poland it is support from and in Russia support for the US.
From the point of view of the potentially murderous bigots Poland's anti-gay measures are always in danger from a change in government (Poland is still a democratic state) or from the EU and thus in need of moral support. That's not the case in Russia for the forseeable future. Instead Russia can provide moral support for the less successful spiritual kin in the US.

Exemptions and loopholes do not forcibly redistribute wealth

Here, let me explain my point of view.

The feds have a budget. They fund the budget primarily through tax revenue.

If you don't pay it, somebody else has to.

Not a hard concept to grasp.

Pretty amazing if you ask me. Comment welcome.

I don't really disagree with the points being made there. A hell of a lot of people receive some kind of benefit from the feds, whether it's mortgage interest deduction, or SS or Medicare, or welfare of some kind.

Some folks receive benefits from either the feds or their local government in the form of legal bars to people competing with them, via licensing requirements etc.

Most people benefit from federal or state or local programs and/or laws, directly or indirectly, in a wide variety of forms.

The thing I was getting at when I was talking about people who are against public programs, even if they would benefit them, was a somewhat different thing.

What prompted my comment was my experience listening to the debate over the ACA, before it was passed. In particular, there was a NYT piece, citing a guy living in the upper Midwest somewhere - Michigan, Minnesota, I forget where.

His sister was disabled. The ACA would provide a way for her to receive care that would, basically, make it possible for her to not be a completely helpless housebound shut-in.

The guy recognized all of that, and was against it.

There are a lot of folks like that. They can see the benefit of a given program, but they simply think it's wrong. They don't think it's something that government should do.

Even if it means that people they love will suffer.

I don't really have anything to say to people like that. There isn't really a conversation to be had with them, as far as I can tell. They believe what they believe, and I can't imagine what argument I would bring to bear that would be more persuasive than "your sister will be able to leave the house". Or, whatever the particular issue is.

Some folks are just agin it. Period.

I don't know if the guy in question claimed a home mortgage deduction, or was a SS beneficiary, or whatever. If so, I don't know if he would have perceived his opposition to the ACA as ironic, or not.

That is simply not true. Exemptions and loopholes are just passing the buck for somebody else to pick up the public tab.

It doesn't matter how you do the accounting. The bottom line is the same. Which means that the economic impact is the same.

Well, I can argue from authority of two influential economists. :)

Well, I can argue from authority of two influential economists

The Austrians will rot your brains.

Just a heads up.

Russell, you left out the infrastructure benefits. We (at least outside the East) drive on roads without having to stop every couple of miles to pay tolls, because the government built and maintains them. We have municipal sewers, rather than having to maintain individual septic systems. (And if you have every had to deal with septic tanks, you know just how huge a benefit that is.)

The extreme libertarians argue that private companies should take care of all of that. But it is at least interesting that, across a couple of hundred years of US history, people chose to have lots of kinds of infrastructure done by government. Might be a reason for that.

Well, I can argue from authority of two influential economists. :)

Well, if we line yours up with mine they might, just possibly, reach a conclusion.

The guy recognized all of that, and was against it.

I directly benefit from a number of government programs that I, in principle, disapprove of.

There's some debate among libertarians as to whether to avoid government benefits that libertarians are against. But, as any of you would argue, it would be damn hard to do so.

It doesn't matter how you do the accounting. The bottom line is the same. Which means that the economic impact is the same.

Upon a bit more reflection: In the aggregate, this could well be true, but certainly not in all instances.

Most importantly, there will be winners and losers.

And that is where the rubber meets the road.

I directly benefit from a number of government programs that I, in principle, disapprove of.

There's some debate among libertarians as to whether to avoid government benefits that libertarians are against. But, as any of you would argue, it would be damn hard to do so.

Yes, unless you live in a society consisting only of people who are exactly like you, you will always live with the dissonance of being involved in one way or another with things you don't approve of.

Not a problem that is unique, in any way shape or form, to libertarians.

Indeed. a major part of the problem for the Freedom Caucus seems to be that they resent (loudly!) having to live in a society which consists of people, indeed a majority, who disagree with them.

And they seem to be determined that, even if others disagree, society must be restructured to fit their (minority) vision. And nothing else is acceptable. Which means that, eventually, the rest of the country -- specifically, the rest of the GOP -- will have to decide that even holding on to bits of political power is not worth the price demanded.

who would've guessed that electing a bunch of idiotic self-righteous hardliners would turn out bad for everyone...

wj,

What the "Freedom Caucus" resents (loudly!) seems to match pretty well with what certain of our fellow commenters resent (persistently!), and that includes resentment of the fact that the majority refuses to acknowledge their sturdy common sense and exceptional Americanism.

In view of that, bad-mouthing the "Freedom Caucus" comes dangerously close to incivility in the ObWi context. Tsk, tsk.

--TP

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! ;-)

Although I have to say that nobody here even comes close to the level of close-mindedness and bad faith that seems to characterize the behavior of the Freedom Caucus.

I can identify quite a few, mostly lower middle class to poor people who have not taken advantage of the opportunities available to improve their lot over a couple of generations.

I find this completely believable.

The thing is, some folks are not that ambitious. Or, they lack other personal traits or life skills - tenacity, ability to defer reward - such that their odds of notable success are less.

Once upon a time, folks like that could get some kind of job and make enough money to get by. Not have a lot of money, never get rich, probably never have a new car. But, probably be able to afford a place to live, have a family if they want. Not go hungry.

The "once upon a time" I'm referring to is really the middle of the 20th C, so, post-Depression up until about the Nixon days.

There are folks in my family history who owned homes and raised families working at jobs like school custodian, power utility grunt laborer, and local auto garage mechanic.

Some of the things that made that possible were stronger unions, meaningful minimum wage laws, and a highly progressive tax code.

Also, an environment where it was not so easy - legally or logistically - to simply outsource labor to another continent.

As a society, we have decided to change most of those factors. When I say "as a society", I mean the changes were facilitated by changes in law and public policy. These were conscious political and socio-economic decisions.

There are other factors involved as well, but the changes in public policies and attitudes toward labor - people who make their way in life by working - have been fairly profound over the last, say, 40 years.

So now, instead of having strong labor institutions, meaningful minimum wage laws, etc., we have food stamps. Because we'd prefer to not have people begging on the streets and eating out of dumpsters.

There likely has been a cultural change in the attitudes toward accepting public assistance. If so, that's only one of a number of cultural changes. Changes in culture don't come from out of the blue; culture is, among other things, an adaptation to the given environment.

Change the circumstances on the ground, and the culture is going to change as well.

Pluggers used to be able to make a living for themselves. Not so much, these days.

If women, minorities, etc know they will get a fair hearing in confidence and if assholes know they will get fired, then folks tend to behave. This may not jibe with the modern feminist narrative, but that's no surprise.

As a middle-aged, middle-class white male who's worked in large corporations, I have to say that if I knew a member of upper management had said or written that second sentence, or even agreed with it, I would have absolutely no confidence that person was capable of giving a fair hearing and would therefore avoid going to that person with a complaint.

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