All that said, money don't matter as much in politics as some of the propaganda tries to tell. They are important, but they are not everything. There are numerous examples in US history alone where the candidate who spent the most lost, and the candidate who was the richest lost. By now, there's enough money on each side of any issue that the money on the sides is no longer the issue.
As for student debt etc. - this is the result of applying "feel good" solutions without considering the economic consequences. If you inject a huge stream of money into education system by providing unlimited federally supported loans, you get the prices go up, and you get the debt. And if you support home ownership and wealth accumulation by home ownership, house prices necessarily skyrocket and newcomers get priced out of the market. You can not have one without the other.
If we don't take steps to correct the situation, eventually only the upper 20% will be able to afford higher education. Regardless of how we might feel about government meddling, we all should be able to agree that it's anti-American to make higher education a privilege only the wealthy can enjoy.
You point out that the rich have always had more influence in politics then the poor, and this is obvious and has always been the case. By no means does this make the Citizens United decision less important, I'd argue that this is a tangential point. Citizens United has allowed corporations more weight to their voice then most of the US citizenry, wealthy or poor! In my opinion, the upper 20% have much more to fear from corporate interests than the lower 80%.
If they don't somehow get convinced of that, they will continue suffering, and their children would be suffering even more, until some catastrophic event forces the change of policy out of necessity. Or until some genius figures out that if we nationalize the whole thing, we could hide the spending inside the voluminous budgets nobody ever reads, and charge the same money now charged as loan payments through taxes, and everybody would be so happy for their "free" education.
> The poster to whom your responding points out that their loan debt is so large that they will not have the opportunity to have an income similar to those who graduated with similar credentials
If the price is too high, maybe it's time to stop buying and look for a different solution? Instead of declaring upfront "our aim is for everybody to buy X, no matter the price" and then acting surprised when the price of X is shooting up?
> By no means does this make the Citizens United decision less important
Oh, CU decision is very important. It recognized that if you have right to criticize Hillary Clinton privately, you also have right to criticize her collectively, i.e. band together with similar-minded people and create an organization dedicated to that goal. The alternative would be late-Soviet type of political life - where you could say a lot of things while you are in your own kitchen, but once you get out in public and try to make a difference, the state would control what you can say and how you can say it. I agree, it is a very important decision that confirmed citizens' right exist even if they start become a nuisance to the powerful people, and not only when they are inconsequential.
> Citizens United has allowed corporations more weight to their voice then most of the US citizenry,
Corporations are US citizenry (well, then can have foreign shareholders, but it's largely insignificant given US economy size dominates the rest so much). Who you think they are made of, Martians?
What are "corporate interests" and why should we fear them?
That so many people latch on to the outcome of a case, that was fundamentally about political speech against a very contentious political family, as "clearly wrong" because they are allergic to the large, varied nature of what a corporation can be made up of and equate it to always be evil money -- well they kind of lose me there too regardless of what side of the political spectrum you fall.
If you think Citizens United is bad, are you also against companies like Apple being vocal about climate policy or state bathroom laws?
I also disagree that a "meritocracy" does not exist, at least in the IT world. In my own life (anecdote, sure, but how many stories are similar?) I was raised by a single father who made 20-30k a year. I'm now in the top 20% that the article refers to, and seems to imply as very hard to do from the way I was raised. This happened not due to luck or privilege, in my opinion. This happened because I spend 12-16 hours a day in front of a computer screen, and because I do what I tell people I will do.
My son will certainly have access to more than I had when I was a child. Maybe I'm just an evil rich guy? The article seems to be prefer that I am.
That, I think, is what this article is most concerned about: once people make it up into this fabled 20%, they (consciously or not) work to change the system in such a way that they cement their advantage for themselves and their children.
It's easy to imagine it happening; if your parents pay for an expensive education and you work hard for your degree, when you end up in the field it must seem obvious that those people from the more expensive schools are simply better prepared. Now that we're talking about it, not only professionally but even socially. And they're just a better "fit" with the rest of the team... Things become more stratified and it becomes more difficult to enter the field if you're different.
I found it interesting that the author found this to be uniquely American, that in the UK people found it much easier to admit the ways in which being wealthy was to their benefit. I had always thought it was like this everywhere.
How so? I can't think of anything I know about IT and my profession that I couldn't learn from open free sources or experience. I don't say time spent acquiring degree was wasted on me, no, there are other advantages and I am not sure I could manage to gain that knowledge without the structure of the degree and peer support and so on. But it is possible to do it, at least all the means are around.
> that in the UK people found it much easier to admit the ways in which being wealthy was to their benefit.
Maybe in UK there's no consistent narrative that wealthy (and in general any well-to-do, societally adjusted) people are somehow all evil and at fault about anything wrong with the world, constantly scheming to oppress everybody else, and need to be constantly attacked, derided and shamed? No idea, I am not familiar with UK narratives, but I certainly know in some parts of the US such narrative is pretty much the default.
That's irrelevant to the claim being made. It's not education or knowledge that's inaccessible to lower classes, it's the stuff around it. It's nearly impossible to judge just knowledge and skills without any context, and even if you could manage it, it would be an unwise move leading to chaotic work environments. But it's also nearly impossible to judge "would this person be disruptive?" without also sneaking in strongly-class-biased culture fit screening, even if you explicitly prohibit doing so.
(Also, having the time to learn and knowledge of where to go to start learning are class biased. The founding population of tech was a different social community from previous power but still heavily upper-middle-class. (I'd guess tech workers 1990-2010 were about 60% from the second quintile and 80% in the 2nd-4th deciles.) They're skills that anyone could learn, but only in theory; in practice they're skills that anyone with the opportunity can learn, and the opportunity is not evenly distributed.)
In the Bay Area in the late 90s, if you could build and rack a PC you could get a top 10% salary with stock options. Lots of people lifted themselves to the upper-middle class that way. Now, between the high cost of living in cities with a lot of tech jobs, and declining salaries for non-specialized IT work, comparable skills only put you in the middle-middle class. If the trend continues, general IT skills won't pay any more than auto mechanic skills. Which can be decent if you hustle, but it's not the ticket to easy street that it used to be.
During the past election, much was made of the wealth of the candidates. That didn't strike me as very effective... What did seem to strike a chord was the idea that some of the wealthy aren't paying taxes and that sounds entirely reasonable to me.
That's even weirder because "corporation" is nothing but a name that we call group of people doing some stuff together for efficiency. There are more legal aspects to it, but it's rarely what is discussed in this context. How evil is that instead of each of us making our own furniture we have people from IKEA corporation to do it for us! Makes no sense to me.
> During the past election, much was made of the wealth of the candidates.
Well, it's a convenient target. If the candidate has no money, obviously it's a loser and can't be trusted with a trillion size economy. If they do have money, obviously it was made by some kind of shady deals and they don't understand the plea of the common man. There's always something to attack here.
> the idea that some of the wealthy aren't paying taxes and that sounds entirely reasonable to me.
Overwhelming majority of the rich pay taxes, and, moreover, if taken together with upper middle class, they pay most of the taxes. If we distributed political influence according to how much taxes the person paid, the richest 1% would have 40% of all the influence, the bottom 95% would have another 40% and the middle would have remaining 20%. The rich are paying tons of taxes. Highest quintile has about 69% of overall tax burden. The next one has another about 20%. 
This BTW undercounts corporate and other business taxes, which are not personally paid by "the rich", but paid by enterprises they own and thus diminish their income. If you count those too, the picture would be even more tilted towards most of the taxes being paid by "the rich".
Of course, that doesn't mean everybody pays the same - through some scheming, or good timing, or both, some persons may pay low marginal tax, or even for some time no tax at all (e.g. when suffering a lot of losses, but still remaining rich), or may enjoy special treatment from the government for their enterprises, including reduced tax burden. But if we look at the overall picture, it stays the same. If you take it as "somewhere, in some moment of time, I can find a rich person that doesn't pay a lot of taxes" - that would be true. If you take it as a systematic occurrence among rich people - it is completely false.
And, of course, any recent usage of this meme were complete fabrications - Romney did pay taxes, so did Trump.
So I'm not sure - which part sounds "entirely reasonable"?
> I think IT is unique in that there was a time when you could sit down and teach yourself enough to get a decent job.
I think can be true, but many aspects of IT are skills-based honestly. And there will always be the ability to self-teach skills-based work. Some of this skill-based work is just well-paying right now. Because everyone needs it for something.
You're probably a hard worker, and a capable one, but how many people were born without the proper brain power to be able to do IT? Or was not lucky enough to go to the proper school? Or was unlucky enough to have a father who'd rather gamble and drink rather than feed his kids properly. When you see a homeless or jobless person of your own age and think "Lazy bum, we're the same, why can't he be a successful guy in IT?", you're dismissing the good luck you've had in life, and the bad luck that person has suffered, and that's meritocracy...
This happened not due to luck or privilege, in my
opinion. [...] Maybe I'm just an evil rich guy?
I'm a computer programmer, my father was a design engineer, his father was an architect.
That meant my parents could afford a house in the catchment area for a good state school, where most people's parents were university-educated, and most people were going to university. Next to no disruptive behaviour - which of course makes it much easier to retain good teachers.
My mother could take time off work after I was born, and we could always afford healthy, balanced family meals every day. My parents worked predictable, sociable hours so there was always someone to read me a bedtime story.
And it meant I was never short of educational things at home. I was one of the only people in my school to have access to a home computer; the first modem my parents brought cost $600.
Of course I could have as many books as I could read - assuming they didn't have them at the public library, which my parents had been taking to since before I could read.
I also had all the help I needed with my homework. Struggling to derive the quadratic formula? No problem, parent can do it from memory. Not doing so well in Subject X? No trouble, let's see if 90 minutes a week of private tutoring improves the situation.
I need an internship or work experience or a summer job in college? No problem, Dad can take me in where he works. Of course he made sure I knew how to behave and dress. None of my colleagues ever played pranks on the new guy or anything - after all, my dad was the manager of the design office.
There were also a bunch of less tangible things involving having seen things before and knowing not to be intimidated or feel like I didn't belong. Getting into university / starting a business might seem intimidating if you've never known someone who's done it before. I know a bunch of people who have - so when I did the same thing, it was an easy decision.
It sounds like you made it without any of those advantages - good for you!
But it'd be be pretty weird if I claimed those things I listed didn't benefit me - I plan to reproduce all of them for my children (if and when I have them), as I think they had a pretty large positive impact.
I'll agree that anyone can take their child to the library. And most families could do healthy home-cooked meals every night - unless the parents are working two jobs or unsociable hours.
But that modem? About 100 hours at minimum wage (if my country had a minimum wage at the time which it didn't - I'm using the rate from 3 years later)
The computer it was plugged into? More than three months at minimum wage - assuming you saved 100% of your income. But a luxury like a computer would come out of your disposable income, after you'd paid for food, housing, heating and travel to work.
90 minutes of tutoring a week? 11 hours at minimum wage. Did I mention that, for a time, I was being tutored in two subjects?
And that's without mentioning the opportunity costs of my mother leaving the workforce until I reached school age.
bingo, that's the thing no one wants to talk about.
And the solution? "You, in the upper middle class, feel guilty!". Ouch!
In IT/computer science world? Sure thing. But most likely you had a lot of advantages to get to that point.
From what I can tell, without said misrepresentation your comment amounts to "yes, my relative success is fully explained by and my fathers merits"?
I see a lot of jobs at the ... $50k-$80k mark which have a lot of responsibility but not much autonomy, and that's where I always have trouble (that mismatch).
The folks I know in the $50k-$80k range seem to work (measured perhaps by effort, stress and hours put in) at least as much as, often far more than, folks earning $100k-$200k. I don't have enough connections at the $300k and $30k ends to compare.
I tell that scenario and get people saying "doesn't matter, get out there, make it happen!" and... yeah - we all know some success stories who succeeded against the odds, but... we all know someone like that because it's still fairly remarkable in the first place.
People in a lower class still work hard. They might work harder than you. They just might not have had 2 dedicated parents, or a private school, or a good school system (because they were in a poorer area, so they get poor students, poor administration, poor fellow students). They don't have the freedom to take an unpaid internship to get college credits or a shot at a full-time job.
This is true, and part of the reason I prefer the UK to the US. People can be humorous about their status in the UK. I've got at least one friend, child of a zillionaire, who quite causally jokes about how he'd never be able to afford his lifestyle were it not for a judicious choice in parents. Class is so constantly talked about in the UK that you can’t really avoid the most common observations about it: it’s undeserved, and it’s hard to do anything about.
The other thing, which doesn't seem to be mentioned much in the article, is race. It's a truly unpleasant thing about America that race is a thing. I'm not psychologically scarred by it, in fact I thought it was somewhat funny, but I remember going to a NYC comedy club and the comedian started joking about me. "Why aren't you doing homework?". The point is race seems to be an alternative kind of class in America, one you can never work yourself out of. (And in that sense, class proper.) And because that’s there, everything else can be fixed with hard work. Right?
The stuff about property prices causing gated communities is quite true in and around London. Even a very highly paid banking job does not buy you much in many parts of London, and private schools are not cheap either. However there are council flats in just about every area of London; it may be unrealistic that they end up socialising, but there is at least the physical chance that children of the poor will run into the wealthy kids in Kensington.
His point about Oxbridge entrance is a positive for the UK; it is quite unthinkable that an Oxbridge don will be forced into accepting some unqualified kid. My tutor was clear that it was her and her alone who decided who got into the four spaces she had. Maybe someone has a story about it, but I find it unlikely that the swirl around Jared Kushner’s acceptance at Harvard would occur in the two British universities.
I don't understand this at all?
My parents have had successful careers, despite being dead broke in their 20s. They were able to stress the importance of education and hard work to me. I had a great job at Microsoft for two years, which I've now left to pursue a career in law.
And this is more or less the same family story of countless Cuban-American families. So I'm not buying this narrative of a calcified class structure built on generational wealth. The most important thing you can do for your children is not to be rich, but to be good. Values and virtues, not trust funds and special treatment.
I also reject your premise that all of these people were profiting directly from the Batista dictatorship. There was corruption in Cuba, but there was also capitalism.
And the skills, education, and practical know-how: how to manage money, how to start a business, how to get your kids a good education. And perhaps in some cases the vices that had served them well: how to find a loophole, how to trade favors, how to fudge the truth to your benefit.
In other words, the intangibles of privilege.
Like the OC, I've seen the dramatic impact of the "intangibles" in my own homeland, a former Communist state. Many of the leading businessmen and professionals today are descended from pre-communist elites, even though these elites were not only deprived of all their material wealth but actively discriminated upon during the five decades of communism (for example, by receiving "class background" penalties for university admissions). The idea that "money breeds money" is intuitively plausible, but turns out to be largely an illusion.
I don't have much material wealth, but I don't think that makes me the same as someone who never did and doesn't know how they ever could.
Or what you're saying is that they went from middle and upper class to temporarily lower class due to escaping Communism, then back to middle and upper class where they started. Pretty amazing, but it actually proves the point of the article rather than disproves is. People in the middle and upper classes stay there. Often even when they migrate to a different country. It's what happened to my parents so it's not unique to any particular heritage. It's a class phenomenon.
If you view class inequality as an actual problem, the notion that it is distributed somewhat evenly depending on ethnic status isn't enormously comforting.
Income percentile by age: https://dqydj.com/income-percentile-calculator/
Net worth percentile by age: https://dqydj.com/net-worth-by-age-calculator-for-the-united...
I find Alain de Botton's essays enlightening, here's a 2+ hour documentary about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1MqJPHxy6g , and a 4 minute summary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iipn6yM43sM
Ok, since it's not clear from the title, Richard V. Reeves is directing his tirade towards people making $100k+ and not the Bill Gates and Warren Buffetts of the USA.
Since many HN readers earn $100k+, let's ask ourselves:
Do you feel "rich"? Richard Reeves is calling you out as the class of the "rich" and to stop denying it. You agree?
Do programmers and sysadmins feel like getting the job and six-figure salary was from luck or the result of a rigged system? (Attending the 4-year college, whiteboard interviews, etc, was "rigged" in your favor.)
If you want to live in a neighborhood that prevents disassembled cars jacked up on cinder blocks, it doesn't really mean you want a nice-looking environment. Instead, you're just using the rules as a smoke screen to keep out low-income blacks and Latinos. You agree?
If you take advantage of 529 deductions for your kids' education and mortgage deductions, these are financial games to keep the low-income people from achieving what you've accomplished.
Richard Reeves says you should feel guilty? Do you feel guilty?
EDIT ADD: Since none of the replies (so far) directly engage with what I was trying to ask, I'll try to pose the question more directly: Do HN readers agree with Mr Reeves that _you_ are to be blamed for the low-income people not moving up the ladder?
Damn straight I feel guilty and what makes me mad is when people claim its about effort and hard work. Sure that's definitely part of the equasion but you can work twice as hard and put in twice as much effort and it doesn't mean a damn if you didn't back the "right" industry horse. Save a thought for those that chose different yet still totally as valid fields like nursing or teaching and appreciate the benefit that tech has "unfairly" brought you.
Next time you're up late and working super hard just remember you're not literally cleaning up shit and piss for 1/4 of the money.
Was your friend bamboozled into thinking that he could earn $250k/yr as a dancer? Teaching is one thing - I think most people would like to pay (good) teachers more. Nurses are capable of making quite a bit of money between base salary and overtime, especially at higher levels of education and specialization. Despite what the folks writing VC-funded CRUD apps here would like to think, programming probably has one of the lowest effort-to-payroll ratios around. Most people work harder than us for less money. Part of that's luck but part of it is the market. And part of it is hard work, effort, and hustle.
I've worked sanitation jobs before. They suck. They pay next to nothing. But they also require next to nothing aside from the willingness to do the work. They may pay "1/4 of the money" but they require much less than 1/4 of the skill, education, or experience.
Its more the old meritocracy adage. "Work hard and you'll be comfortable". Its more than that. Sure he could have made it dancing but not JUST dancing, if he'd gone for more a PR and choreography route, if he'd considered effectively wasting his training on doing something easy like being a backing dancer to a pop star.
However all of this is very much "create a successful startup" level than "be a code monkey level". To succeed as a dancer as much as a programmer you really have to go above and beyond.
I have worked sanitation before too. Honest work though.
I think a lot of that is the market.
In that case you're entirely unfamiliar with American conservative rhetoric and policy.
And back to your dancer friend, is he unhappy? If he looked at his risks, potential salaries, and happiness and chose to be a chef and amateur dancer, isn't that ok too?
I know many people who chose jobs that aren't their passion (hell, my passion is fishing and we know that doesn't pay). Instead I work a job that I enjoy while making enough money to provide for my family and my hobbies on the side. No, I don't feel guilty. If your passion coincides with a profession that makes $$ consider yourself fortunate.
it's not just about effort and hard work. there are a lot of other factors, and one of those factors is his decision (for better or worse) to become a dancer vs. a doctor or lawyer or engineer. he's an adult and made his choice. we as a society cannot afford to subsidize everyone's "dream" of being an artist. someone has to actually do the work of moving us forward and keeping the lights on.
Why this focus on guilt? Are we not allowed to be angry, as long as we still have some shred of comfort in out lives?
(Hell, my wife's parents saved up a 529 plan, and then she went to a state school on a full scholarship. Now we're apparently allowed to spend the 529 money to put a down payment on a house as a young couple, without any tax penalty. How is this allowed!?)
The question isn't, "Should people on HN feel guilty?". It's, "should people on HN receive a state subsidy for being fortunate?". Should we first make a nice living in tech, and then have the government write us extra little checks for all the ways we can pass our class down to our children?
I'm not sure it is allowed. There must be some other transaction happening to make this without penalty. 
Also, why is everyone on this thread [not you] speaking of a 529 as if it's some elite 1% benefit? It's open to anyone. Most states have a $25 minimum, a lot of states have no minimum contribution at all .
Edit: after some more research, it sounds like it may have been rolled over into an IRA for use with a first-time homebuyer exemption. See (http://finance.zacks.com/convert-529-ira-10479.html) under "Penalty Exceptions".
The feelings of instilling guilt goes hand-in-hand with convincing the intended audience that they got to their position because of fortune instead of hard work. (The chain of thinking is then: your hard work didn't get you to the position of taking the mortgage deduction; instead it was your luck that did it.)
The writer wants workers with 100k salaries to vote for higher taxes on themselves by supporting politicians that promise to remove mortgage deductions and 529 education savings plans. In other words, he has to convince HN programmers making 100k that they are in fact, oppressing the low-income class. (E.g. Those tax deductions for home & college are subverting meritocracy and you should _feel bad_ for taking advantage of them.)
Do you think the writer's style of rhetoric was effective at persuasion? Or was he only effective at getting people who already agreed with him to nod in affirmation?
Yes, the author did "talk about it" when he contends that people got that 100k jobs because of "luck" and "good fortune" instead of meritocracy. The author is throwing that premise-as-fact into the reader's face. The author has overlooked the fact that the reader must agree with that "luck" premise as a precondition of agreeing with the author's policy changes.
>We're talking about whether the government should send you free money for a position you've already got.
Ok, don't just write that sentence as some abstract credo. What does that mean in terms of concrete policy?
Let's play that scenario out. That's what I tried to do with my last comment.
Are we wanting $100k job earners to vote for raising taxes on themselves via abolishment of mortgage and 529 tax deductions? Yes?
If so, you think his arguments persuasive to those who don't think those deductions were morally wrong? Did he successfully convince them that they are oppressing the low-income class?
Yes, and I'd say we have pragmatic reasons to do so: the money for nice things has to come from somewhere. How is the subway system or Medicare supposed to run without tax money? If you make $100k and own a house, but have kids, where are your kids supposed to get affordable housing (and a rung onto the property ladder) of their own, without healthy pro-density zoning?
People shouldn't feel guilty for the advantages their parents and ancestors worked hard to secure for them.
The "guilt" is not about what their parents gave them; it's about making people feel guilt for taking the home & education tax deductions. (Although those are legal deductions, the writer wants to convince 100k earners that they are morally wrong for meritocracy.)
It's a manipulation tactic designed to force you to support the political aims of certain factions. While I do support the working class and poor, I, at least, decline to be manipulated.
It's a foolish tactic anyway; hammering the general public on guilt and privilege instead of focusing on sympathy and justice simply breeds resentment and will result in them silently sabotaging your agenda.
What if programmers were a dime a dozen and highly trained social care was where the lucra was at?
I learned how wealthy, privileged, and protected even 100k is when we pulled our kids from a Catholic elementary school and moved them to an integrated urban magnet school (median income $35k). Suddenly we had some classmates who couldn't properly afford food, school clothes, and field trips. Not just one or two families, but many nice, hard-working families with smart kids. Just -- wow -- middle-class us -- we were suddenly rich, and I'd never really known it before.
My eldest will perpetuate her privilege and attend an Ivy in the fall. Her classmates, with exactly the same talent, education, hard work, and academic achievement will not, despite the availability of financial aid. Their families just didn't know how to micro-manage the application process, they couldn't afford extra-curricular enrichment, and some had other issues at home like immigration status or family health problems. Edit: and legacy preference; I am an alumn.
While I don't think it's malicious intent that "keeps low-income people from achieving what we've accomplished," there are definitely structural elements that do. I'm sure the existing system of financial games, housing, zoning, and education could be rearranged to help them much more.
I don't think framing it in terms of guilt is helpful, nor is trying to construct privilege as something that people should be ashamed of. It just makes people very defensive. What is better is for people to be aware of what advantages they had that other people did not, especially when they're telling other people what they should do or saying that everyone could get to their level if only they worked hard enough - hard work is not sufficient, avoidance of obstacles is also necessary.
(Private education is tax-deductible in the US? Blimey. The UK setup is slightly different - private schools are usually structured as non-profit educational charities, with tax advantages, and even that is grudgingly accepted due to the age and character of the schools.)
Did you have a computer at home as a child? That's a huge advantage that was outwith your control.
Close: I feel privileged. I'm a man, Eurasian ethnicity (that is: can pass for "white"), have two sisters, one of which has an "exotic" first name. And yes, I see the system being "rigged" in my favour all the time, related to the things I mentioned, and the unfairness of it all does piss me off.
Yes I am lucky. Lucky to be both to parents who valued education, competency, and responsibility, knew how to instill those values in me, and had the capability to pull the right strings to see me through to a successful adulthood.
The median household income in California is $64k; across the US as a whole it's $52k. Half of all households are below these figures. If you're earning six figures, you are rich. It doesn't matter where you live, or what you spend your money on, you are rich. You're earning a minimum of 50% more than the median household income in a wealthy state. "Yeah, but my rent is high!"... well, go and see how the poor people live. Your rent may be high, but that's because you choose to live somewhere nice.
The article isn't about trying to make people feel guilty, it's about trying to pierce this bubble that the US upper middle class has (and HN has it in spades) that they're hard done by and kinda poor.
The "stop pretending" is certainly the title but it's not the whole theme. He covers several themes. The author also wrote:
>The American myth of meritocracy allows them to attribute their position to their brilliance and diligence, rather than to luck or a rigged system. At least posh people in England have the decency to feel guilty.
In other words, if Americans had the right moral sense, they'd feel guilty about it too.
The theme for "pretending" is more about awareness if where six figures fits in the percentiles. Maybe people making $100k don't know or don't admit that such an income is in the top 17%. Yes, it's more than 83% others make so he advises, "don't pretend you're not rich."
The other theme is guilt and morals which the author is trying to convey to readers via claims of "luck", "good fortune", and "myth of meritocracy". This line of argument is orthogonal to the "stop pretending" theme.
At least 2 different themes with 2 different sets of supporting arguments in that blog post.
It's explicitly stated in the conclusion: For Americans to solve the problem of their deepening class divisions, we will have to start by admitting their existence and our complicity in maintaining them. The morals the author is interested in isn't "you should feel guilty", but "we need to fix this in order to even start helping the other four quintiles".
Not to mention that you're misrepresenting what he's saying, framing it as 'claims of luck', when his literal words are "in part the result of good fortune" (my emphasis). He's mirroring the same kind of thing that Warren Buffett says, yet people on HN don't complain about being guilted by Buffett's utterances.
The author isn't trying to make the reader feel guilty in that article; if the reader does feel guilty or shamed in reading it, then perhaps they're hiding something from themself? I mean, there's hard evidence right in this thread, where you see someone on $300k honestly arguing that someone on $30k is better off because they pay less income tax by percentage (!?!?). That takes a bizarre level of self-delusion.
I don't have kids yet, but when I do I will send them to public school. I had the massive advantage of being able to afford buying a house in a good school district. The money spent on housing tends to be directly proportional to the quality of schooling, which has a massive impact on income mobility.
Even if you discount better teachers and the like, going to a school where everyone's parents are invested in their kids' futures will produce very different outcomes from where parents aren't there (working multiple jobs, in jail, whatever).
So even though I am not specifically putting a boot on someone's head to keep them down, I am a willing participant in a system that effectively does that.
In my view, very, very, very few programmers really deserve more than about $200k at most.
If you're earning $100k+ and you don't have children or extenuating circumstances such as disabilities that increase your non-discretionary expenditure, you're absolutely rich, and if you don't feel rich then you're either spending your money wrong or your benchmarks of wealth are waaaay off.
SV is a fantasy world.
(FWIW I also come from a public service town, where very intelligent and talented people lead decently upper-middle-class lives, but salaries top out well below where one could get in the private sector.)
I'm not sure whether I should be blamed for other people not moving up the ladder, I don't have kids or a house so some of his critiques don't apply to me. But it does feel like in many cases the upper middle class stands in the way of progressive policy.
Barring a catastrophe striking myself or my wife and permanently impeding our ability to work (and even potentially including a catastrophe striking only one of us) I will never have a concern about paying for food, shelter, transportation, clothing, education for my daughter, entertainment, or retirement. Nothing of any real import.
I think the most serious plausible risk would be a drawn out medical disaster occuring to one or both of us, with exotic and expensive treatments and overwhelming hospice costs. Our society deems it fit to bankrupt families in this state. The truly rich are the only ones really exempted from this potential outcome.
We have a house. It's about half paid off.
Extremely high cost luxury items (such as exotic luxury cars) are either out of our grasp or ruled to be within our grasp but miserable investments, and are not seriously considered. As an example, our primary vehicle is 8 years old, and it cost ~$20k when new. We have a "spare" vehicle which is much older but is still reliable (I commute by bike, but having a "spare" vehicle is useful for emergencies or for very bad weather (when my daughter needs transportation and cannot ride with me safely)).
We keep enough money in the bank to buy a similar new vehicle with cash if this one fails, or to pay for major problems with the house. If both occur at the same time, we would need to take out a home equity loan or an auto loan.
We donate to charity but I feel guilty about how little. We donate more since the election.
We still own luxury items. I have a $300 pair of shoes. My wife owns nice clothing. I own a $1500 bicycle (and have several more less valuable bicycles which I enjoy working on and tinkering with). I own ~$3000 worth of camera equipment.
We shop at a co-op market, we buy local organic food. We eat out at restaurants several times a week.
We travel every year, sometimes abroad.
We never have to work on weekends or holidays.
Our parents are not rich. We "earned" all of this on our own. Through, mostly, simply good fortune at being in the right place in the right time in the right generation.
What is rich? What point is there in having more than this? How would it benefit society for us to have more than this? I suppose we could work less, but we both enjoy our work.
I'm white and male and relatively young still, so to some extent, yes, it is rigged in my favor.
Ok, how do Asians fit in that narrative? They suffer reverse-discrimination and yet they are over-represented in high-paying technology jobs. Was the system "rigged" for them as well?
In the UK its fairly well considered now that a working class 50 year old thats worked at UK average pay for the majority of their life, generally, has better standard of living than the 30 year old on 100k. The appreciation of housing and the current cost of things they got for free seem to matter far more than the salary you currently earn.
You (and I) may need to work. But that doesn't mean there's not a large gap between us and the "poor".
Take myself for an example - I own half my house and the bank owns the other half. So, yes, I have to work for a "survive" and pay for my mortgage and food.
But I only have to earn enough pay half the cost of housing, because the other half is provided by my capital.
A poor(er) person has to earn enough pay 100% of their cost of housing. A rich(er) person would own their house in full, so has no need to earn to pay that cost of living.
So there's clearly a scale between having to work to pay for anything, and not having to work at all because your capital pays enough dividends to cover all your bills.
The article contends that the "rich" cut off point is much lower down than we think, and that this advantage is passed from generation to generation.
The author says that in the UK this generational advantage is more recognised than in the US, because it is more formalised - which takes away some of the ability for people to be willfully ignorant of the advantage they've been given from birth compared to others.
In virtue of this monstrous system, the son of the worker, on entering life, finds no field which he may till, no machine which he may tend, no mine in which he may dig, without accepting to leave a great part of what he will produce to a master. He must sell his labour for a scant and uncertain wage. His father and his grandfather have toiled to drain this field, to build this mill, to perfect this machine. They gave to the work the full measure of their strength, and what more could they give? But their heir comes into the world poorer than the lowest savage. If he obtains leave to till the fields, it is on condition of surrendering a quarter of the produce to his master, and another quarter to the government and the middlemen. And this tax, levied upon him by the State, the capitalist, the lord of the manor, and the middleman, is always increasing; it rarely leaves him the power to improve his system of culture.
You still have to go to work every day like everyone else to sustain this lifestyle. You just have nicer "things" and "fancier" experiences?
Sure, it's a continuum, but "not having to live hand-to-mouth" is a hell of a lot closer to rich than to poor.
See this as an example:
The article does not give much details. But managers basically stole her wealth from her and siphoned it to themselves.
"She was supported in her claim by Thomas Middelhoff". In my opinion it was Middelhoff who badly advised her for his own gain.
I wouldn't consider this rich, wealthy yes, but not rich.
Also my money is probably more in the range of the 20% of the population that is "under me" in the stats than the 2% "over me".
However, if we're talking about state of mind, then rich can be how secure one feels in their lifestyle. If all your family and friends are doctors/lawyers/business and owners/engineers and everyone is making $200k+, then making $100k won't feel rich. You won't be able to engage in many of the activities they can. You might also not feel rich if your income isn't secure, there is working rich and then wealthy, where you can make a few hundred thousand from investments and don't have to worry about getting sick or taking sabbaticals.
If "state of mind" is your standard then almost anyone can tell a story about how they aren't really rich. And this isn't just me screwing around. There is a bunch of research about how the vast majority of people, no matter their financial situation, don't quite feel rich because they can always see "the next level up."
Perhaps we should be using a better standard than "state of mind."
Conspicuously missing from this op-ed is the experience of millions of immigrant families who came to the United States and worked hard to make it into the top 20%. Many started with practically nothing. Did they all benefit from pure luck? Did they move to the U.S. to take advantage of a rigged system?
This seems to blow quite a big hole in the author's specious argument.
Rich is as much about being able to manage your finances well as it is about how much money you make. If you are living from paycheck to paycheck, it doesn't matter whether your monthly check is $1500 or $10,000. If you're bad with money, you aren't rich.
Or if you're bad with money and can't hire people who are good with it.
Accent very much colors perceptions in America as well. There are "redneck" and "urban" accents that would absolutely be a devastating red-flag in many job interview situations.
> Posh Brits are more likely
> to see that their position
> is at least in part the
> result of good fortune
Heh, riiiiiight. They feel guilty.
Color me skeptical.
$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America: https://www.amazon.com/2-00-Day-Living-Nothing-America/dp/05...
They pay about 40% of the income taxes (I went and looked this up after your comment. "Nearly half" was perhaps slightly overstating the case).
Given that we have a progressive tax system it makes intuitive sense that the higher percentiles (1%, 5%, 10%, whatever) will always pay a greater percentage of total income tax than they make in total income.
I noticed that curiosity as well. Not sure it means anything in particular but it was interesting.
> Most of the children born into households in the top 20 percent will stay there or drop only as far as the next quintile.
And rewritten a bit, it sounds rather weak:
> More than 50 percent of the children born into households in the top 20 percent will stay in the top 40 percent.
>The rhetoric of “We are the 99 percent” has in fact been dangerously self-serving, allowing people with healthy six-figure incomes to convince themselves that they are somehow in the same economic boat as ordinary Americans, and that it is just the so-called super rich who are to blame for inequality.
7 months after the election is actually quite long.
Here is what makes me in a $300k a year household and the $30k household on the other end of town the same:
>Your home is regarded as a model home, your life as a model life. But all this splendor, and you along with it... it's just as though it were built upon a shifting quagmire. A moment may come, a word can be spoken, and both you and all this splendor will collapse.
The rich cannot be ruined. I can. If I was to be fired from my job it would be a minor disaster, if I was to get an incurable disease I would slide down the income scale without a break.
I would happily pay 80% taxes if I knew that when I needed it most the welfare state would have my back, but I know that it won't. The rentiers have shown time and time again they would rather destroy the economy than allow everyone to have the luxury of stability.
That is why I am a socialist and I know I'm not the only one.
You can comfortably afford the best available health insurance. You can comfortably afford very good life insurance and income protection insurance. You can comfortably afford to save a substantial amount for emergencies and retirement.
You're in a completely different situation from someone on $30k a year, who is undoubtedly living paycheck-to-paycheck. For you, a broken boiler or a major engine repair is a near-trivial expense. For someone on $30k, that same expense might put them into debt for months or years. If the mailman brings you an unexpected utility bill or parking ticket, you're not faced with the choice of skipping meals or going into debt.
Even on not-so-good insurance, isn't this why out-of-pocket maximums exists? I'm not a fan of the current system of healthcare insurance, and I'm not an apologist for how these companies push costs back onto people. However out-of-pocket maximum exists so that you don't go bankrupt for a catastrophic event that requires substantial care over the course of a year. It will vary from carrier to carrier, but I doubt a you'll ever pay more than $20k on a year of treatment for lowered tiered plans. With $300k, this person's cap is more likely to be between $5k and $10k. That's going to sting a bit, but $10k is still only 3% of the total income.
I don't deny that a disabling event can really screw things up for a family, but even insurance has its limit on how much they can screw you.
> On $300k a year, either you're not really precarious or you're making utterly reckless financial decisions.
Why not start with the $30k a year household:
Hot water? What a luxury! Half the world can't afford drinking water.
Car engine? They can use a bicycle like they do in India.
Utility bills? Just bring in some chickens into your home to warm it up.
With enough will and prudent planning you can make a dollar a day stretch much further than you could imagine. Just like you are suggesting I spend my life figuring out ways to live better in a system broken by design.
In a sane country I wouldn't have to worry about insurance and the people making a tenth less than me wouldn't worry about cars, boilers or bills, because there would be public options for all of those things.
Wealthier people skew Republican, and that's not just the 1%. OP's example of the school districts is another example. Still another is the fact that, if you look in any city in America, the wealthy (but not 1%er) areas have better roads, better parks, and better everything in terms of public infrastructure. I have a friend who works at the local power company who outright says that whenever there is a storm that takes out power, the wealthy areas come first for repairs, right after hospitals and police stations. Not, you know, the most populated areas or anything.
And it gets worse still, when the 20% try to redirect blame at the 1%. Because who are these 20%ers anyway? They're lawyers, managers, mid-level executives, financiers, maybe developers for banks, big ad firms, or VC-owned boondoggles. In short, they are the white-collar "hands" providing the services that allow the 1% to exert the level of control they do over the whole system.
To hear the 20% disclaim all responsibility for the state of inequality in the country is very similar to how the head of HR or IT tells you "well, I really can't do anything about anything, it's just Policy, set by our betters". But they are enabling all of it.
This depends on your state's economy. "In poor states, rich people are much more likely than poor people to vote for the Republican presidential candidate, but in rich states (such as Connecticut), income has a very low correlation with vote preference" .
It is well-known that urban areas lean Democratic, and richer states are more urban. Thus the phenomenon may be reflecting urbanization rather than state wealth.
Have a look at the period 1950-1970. If we were to tax corporations at the same rate as they were in that golden period we would not have a national deficit.
>Where's the evidence that this solidarity ever existed?
1950, 1960 again.
However, in the present day, I don't think it is just the 1% who are against a corporate tax increase. That would hit IRAs, pensions, and investments for those who can afford such things.
As I said: I would happily pay 80% taxes if I knew that when I needed it most the welfare state would have my back, but I know that it won't. The rentiers have shown time and time again they would rather destroy the economy than allow everyone to have the luxury of stability.
The top 19% do not trust government because for the last 40 years government has been hijacked and made to work against the people.
A perfect example: would you support a 30% hike to pay for Trumps border wall? If not, why are you against tax increases?
Many Republicans have taken this to the logical extreme: they say government programs CANNOT work. In solidly red areas, they justify this by pointing at how their local school districts or whatever are failing badly. Why are they failing? In large part due to lack of funding.
So, low funding creates failure which is used to justify lower funding. It's circular. In cases where there is clear evidence that a socialized alternative can work, like healthcare, the evidence is simply ignored.
This is not to say that the government cannot waste money. Of course it can: walls, military spending, and so on. But your argument is dangerously close to the hypothetical Republican one. The only solution I can see is for taxpayers to BOTH be willing to pay taxes AND demand value for their money.
Problem with money is that it represents economic activity. If the government spends more you need to work more (with borrowing becomes slightly more complex, working more now, or working even more in the future).
And when it comes to that, your logic would change as well. Would you work (under a bad boss, etc ... ie. work, as in actual work, whatever it takes) to improve those schools ?
For a very large majority the answer is no.
You say that the super rich have something most of us don't, stability. I agree with that. The super rich often want the rest of us to lack stability, it's good for employers to have desperate workers. However, at 300k, while you do not have absolute stability like the super rich, you have something that comes very close... the ability to plan ahead.
At 300k, you can save, buy top notch insurance and whether the storms that MANY people in the US cannot. Sure, there could be financial blows that are just too large to shrug off... but those blow that you can withstand, and those of a 30k'er, are two different beasts.
The rich can see the horizon and plan ahead.
The super powerful float in space looking down on earth and place things beyond the horizon.
Planning is good, but who's game are we playing?
The much better solution is to make a universal basic income the sole welfare system. Then let people make their choices.
you've gotta be one of the most of out touch people i've ever seen express their out of touch opinions. what shows of solidarity have you made? have you ever even been to the poor part of town? if you live in nyc message me and i'll gladly take you on a tour where you can stand with your brethren.
>With enough will and prudent planning you can make a dollar a day stretch much further than you could imagine.
go ahead: plan it out for me since my imagination is so poor.
Personal attacks like this are a bannable offense on HN. Please never post like this again. Instead, please (re)-read the following and follow them in letter and in spirit from now on:
That means posting civilly and substantively, or not at all.
I'm not virtuous enough to push for higher taxes and more welfare? By shutting me down you'll have even more poor to celebrate! Isn't virtue signalling great?
A long time ago, pg (who created HN) wrote:
A comment in reply to another comment should be written in the spirit of colleagues cooperating in good faith to figure out the truth about something, not politicians trying to ridicule and misrepresent the other side.
That's the standard we ask users here to follow, regardless of how wrong or provocative the other comment has been.
Kettle meet pot.
Within a year or two? I think you mean "after your first paycheck". The ability to have a grand or two 'cushion' money in the bank is an incredible difference between the haves and have-nots. And I don't mean "money in my day-to-day account", I mean emergency money of any kind.
It's bizarre that a 300k/yr household can even contemplate being similar to a 30k/yr one.
So, if you lived as a $30k/year household you'd be able to save 3.5 years worth of expenses every year, ignoring any kind of tax efficient ways of doing so. In your first pay packet you'd have a spare seven and a half thousand dollars.
At a 3% withdrawal rate you'd want to have $860k in investments, meaning you could expect to work for ~8-9 years then retire forever. Less if you can invest in a more tax efficient way, are OK with just cutting down to part time or taking on a bit more risk. Oh, and if you're comparing yourself to a $30k household that can afford to save anything, all these numbers just go up and up.
So, comparing a $30k/year household who are able to save literally nothing, you could have the same life but only have to work for less than ten years rather than 40+.
Quick numbers, but I'd be surprised if the various simplifications change the overall result particularly drastically.
2 Beds 1 Bath -- 650 Jackson MO or 7800 a year or 25% of the income gross
$4940 - $5160 /mo 2 beds / 2 bath 979 sqft say 5000 a month or 60000 a year or 20% of the income
add the huge differences in effective tax rate of CA to MO combined with the jump in federal tax rates and it is arguable that 30k in MO would actually be better off
Groceries may be more expensive in the big city, but not 10x more expensive. You're not paying 10x more for a car, or a plane flight. And insurance premiums / deductibles sure aren't 10x cheaper in a less expensive part of the country.
Plus, the "$300K in expensive place" household has the option of moving to the less expensive place. The reverse is hardly true.
> it is arguable that 30k in MO would actually be better off
2. Even if we were to accept that $30K in one place went just as far as $300K in another, "better off" ignores that higher property costs are likely to indicate a more desirable place to live. (For whatever reason: access to jobs, lower crime rates, pleasant to live in, what-have-you.)
Anyway, there's no such thing as perfectly impervious to risk - even ultra-wealthy families sometimes topple. That doesn't change the fact that with careful management, a $300k/year income can rapidly feather a rather nice, rather secure nest. $30k/year cannot.
And it costs quite a lot to get that level of care.
If you talk to someone with significant health issues, it rapidly becomes, "The doctors don't have the answer".
Nobody wants to spend longer with the doctor - they want healthy, productive life outside the doctor's office.
That's not right.
How do you feel about kids born in Africa?
If it's the former: Suffering isn't a contest, just because you aren't the MOST impoverished person on the face of the planet does not make your problems less real, nor does it make you less deserving of help when you do need it.
If it's the latter, I'm all for getting those kids healthcare (and food) and whatever else they might need. That's a damn sight better use of my tax dollars than numerous Government programs currently sucking up actual trillions of dollars here in the States.
Considering that a lot of people are in that situation, I was wondering if you were advocating taking money from the rich to give it to the poor.
Personally, I don't believe in free healthcare. I accept that people who are unlucky or demonstrate poor judgement will suffer and die. However, I also believe that the market should be deregulated so that more affordable options become available.
Oof. That’s quite an admission.
I thank you for stating it though. I think our politics would be in a better place if people would admit things like this more.
I suspect that a lot of Republicans have the opinion that the poor don’t _deserve_ to be taken care of by society, because they believe that they are poor because of their own inaction. But it’s impossible to debate this - and change minds either way - because we don’t admit that point of view in discussion.
Can we please not generalize Africa? It's the biggest continent of the world, not a giant 3rd world country plagued by famine and poverty. Some countries are, but if you mean those, please name them specifically.
(I dislike phrases like "asians" and "europeans" too, much as Americans should dislike the moniker "American")
The problem isn't people not saving or investing the problem is an insane system kept afloat by greed, ignorance and fear. "Security"? what good is having paper when no one wants to buy it? October 29, 1929 is a day my grandmother remembers well and one I dread we will see again.
Government is the only insurance scheme large enough to protect us from ourselves.
Gambling on debt sounds like a sure-fire way to end up with even more debt. And that's what most investment boils down to: A gamble
Profit isn't generated out of thin air, somebody has to be the sucker and pay for it, those are usually the losers of aforementioned gambles.
Dating? Hell, you can't even get to know someone properly in 6+ months. Taking a job? It's all rainbows and unicorns unless you work there for a 6-12 months, etc.
You act as if investing is bad. You're never going to make any meaningful amount of money if you don't invest (in the broadest sense, this could be in yourself, in your business, in the stock market, in alternative assets, etc).
Debt magnifies the result of your investment. Whether you make a good or bad investment is ultimately up to you. Moderate debt isn't a real issue. The interest is often also tax deductible. It sure as hell makes more sense taking on debt for investing than it does taking on debt to (excessively) spend (as most Americans do).
Indeed, it's all about risk-management and in that regard gambling on debt represents a way higher risk, one I would not take, than gambling on savings you actually own.
With the latter, you at least have some control over the worst case scenario, while gambling on debt throws any control like that straight out of the window as debt can spiral out of control very quickly that way.
> The interest is often also tax deductible. It sure as hell makes more sense taking on debt for investing than it does taking on debt to (excessively) spend (as most Americans do).
Sure, it does make more sense but consumer credits are mostly short-term and as such somewhat more manageable for debtors with no real income security. Long-term investment credits, which usually have way better interest rates, are simply out of reach for many of these people because they lack the secure long-term income and/or can't make the required deposit.
Also, say you can acquire a plot of land you want to hold for a long time, and you can acquire it with 10% cash down + pay < 1% annual interest on a secured loan, you'd be an idiot not to take on the debt. Take the remaining cash and invest it somewhere with a higher yield.
It depends, is probably the correct answer here. :)
Disclaimer: this is not investment advice. Do not take investment advice from Internet comments.
Unless you're talking short term, put it in a total stock market index fund and forget about it.
Maybe the culture you come from is very new.
When there systems fall, only those with either high enough walls around them with ability to sustain independently within those walls, or at least the ability to escape to another currently stable situation will be secure.
When a Gotham'esque hell breaks loose, where is your security then?
This autonomy is the line.
It doesn't have to be total anarchy or civil war either. Imagine food shortages or media propaganda or government policy changes.
Again, all very fragile. The distinction is what controls you, and what autonomy you retain.
Categories: every day is a living fuck all, I depends on the systems around me, I have autonomy myself, I have autonomy over others as well.
Can you see the line?
One man’s apocalypse is another man’s civil war. I will let the more knowledgable reference history here.
On what we’re speaking about:
korrachs> I was wondering how long it would take for the attack on the solidarity of the precariat:
korrachs> The rich cannot be ruined. I can.
taneq> within a year or two you would have far more security than the $30k household will ever have.
Although you could argue that I’m cherry picking to make my point, I will so bold as to allude that perhaps we are missing the larger argument here.
The solidarity of the precariat under fire is an excellent way to consolidate power amongst the influential. A little something called divide and rule.
There's a strata of poor to somewhat rich, but they're all in the same bucket of the grander wealth scale: workers. They must keep doing work in order to maintain their lifestyle, the only thing their relative income difference dictates is the quality of that lifestyle and how long they can maintain it after losing income.
After that comes 'i don't need to work again' wealthy. Then 'fuck you' wealthy. Then 'I can ignore the law' wealthy. Then 'I can buy the law' wealthy. The 99% sits on the lowest rung on the meaningful wealth scale.
What is the difference between the first two? I can't figure it out.
As the creator of Minecraft put it:
>Once I realized I had fuck-you money and didn't care about my public image any more because it didn't affect my day to day life in any way
Lloyd Blankfein can.
> Beneath a veneer of classlessness, the American class reproduction machine operates with ruthless efficiency. In particular, the upper middle class is solidifying. This favored fifth at the top of the income distribution, with an average annual household income of $200,000, has been separating from the 80 percent below. Collectively, this top fifth has seen a $4 trillion-plus increase in pretax income since 1979, compared to just over $3 trillion for everyone else. Some of those gains went to the top 1 percent. But most went to the 19 percent just beneath them.
Nothing about what you state goes against the spirit of the article, which between the lines mainly seems to be about wealth redistribution.
Also, while I agree with all of your points, putting yourself in the same boat as the precariat, the most vulnerable underbelly of modern society, is a bit crass.
That's ridiculous. No government services costs that much. No insurance for any event costs that much.
If you live in richest country in the world and citizens pay 30% taxes and government can't provide free education and health care then it's something wrong with the government itself and artificially inflated prices on education and healthcare.
Instead of raising taxes, you need pop healthcare and education bubble first.
And it looks like it's not only me how doesn't like high taxes in Sweden:
You and the $30k household are both in the global 1%. Over 80% of the world's population lives on less than $10/day. Both of you have social safety nets for food, housing, and healthcare. You live better lives than virtually everyone in the history of the planet has ever lived. That's what makes you the same.
>That is why I am a socialist and I know I'm not the only one.
Capitalism with relatively free trade is the only mechanism in the history of the world to be able to pull massive numbers of people out of grinding poverty. Socialism has tended to result in the opposite outcome. If you need a refresher course, watch Venezuela unfold right now in real time.
What does this even mean? Rome pulled massive numbers of people out of grinding poverty with the free grain dole, not at all capitalist.
>If you need a refresher course, watch Venezuela unfold right now in real time.
Yep, socialism is the cause of all their problems. In no way is this situation caused by the huge drop in oil prices, something almost entirely outside their control. And Capitalism has never experienced a collapse like theirs...
>What does this even mean?
It means that the reason there was grain for Rome to give was because of trade and capitalism (as well as some slavery and conquering which impoverish some populations to enrich others).
Capitalism (private ownership of means of production) means that I benefit if I provide things that other people want.
Trade allows individuals to make exchanges that benefit them.
Free trade ensures that exchanges benefit both parties, resulting in an increase of total well-being.
> Rome pulled massive numbers of people out of grinding poverty with the free grain dole, not at all capitalist.
And Rome periodically put them back into grinding poverty by reducing the size of the grain dole because it was too expensive? Funding consumption can't reduce long term poverty (give a fish vs teach to fish).
>as well as some slavery and conquering which impoverish some populations to enrich others).
Massive understatement, roughly 15% of the population of Rome were slaves and the Pax Romana is often seen as one of the causes of the breakdown of the economy. This is a common theme with capitalism and it's enrichment periods. It's very hard to argue that most of the world benefitted from colonialism.
>And Rome periodically put them back into grinding poverty by reducing the size of the grain dole because it was too expensive? Funding consumption can't reduce long term poverty (give a fish vs teach to fish).
And capitalism periodically put them back into grinding poverty with massive crashes or unchecked greed. Teaching a man to fish isn't that helpful if you then own all of the poles and materials to make the poles and refuse to share.
In a world with free markets and free trade how would this be possible? I'm having a hard time imagining a single person or even a corporation owning, for example, all of the iron across the entire globe.
And no, control of that land isn't what enabled the grain dole. The lands won by the army did.
This isn't that different than capitalist Venezuela. Loan someone in Venezuela a bunch of arms, they fight, then they have to repay you and look at those discovered oil fields they have!
(Also, you spotted that Rome was a slave society, but failed to make the obvious conclusion that slavery precludes free exchange of labour!)
Government took only 5%.
In the Scheidel–Friesen economic model, the total annual income generated by the Empire is placed at nearly 20 billion HS, with about 5 percent extracted by central and local government.
Especially important in the sub-discussion about healthcare that's going on here. There's disparity of information (not every citizen has a complete knowledge of all possible medical specialisations), disparity of capability (medical conditions can be literally incapacitating), and disparity of risk (most medical conditions are mostly randomly distributed).
Yes, that's true. The world is not fair and we're not all equal in power. How is the solution to that to take 80% of everyone's income and hand over control of it to a select few in government?
In a free market system at least each participant is free to walk away from any given transaction. Now you want to take away even that.
Who do you think is better capable of making decisions about your own children's best interests when it comes to getting educated: you or Betsy DeVoss?
The more centralized power/money is, the more ripe it will be for corruptive forces. The less powerful the government, the less damage a bad actor can do when they inevitably get elected.
If this is the basis of your argument, then again there is only one logical endpoint. "What is property?... Property is theft!" Ownernship centralizes power over that thing in the hands of a person or small group.
The US libertarian view is anarchy with property rights stapled on, which does nothing except help the rich get more powerful. They use the same arguments about how freedom is essential and government interference is bad, but ignore how there is no freedom on private property and want government guaranteeing their status.
Nothing prevents you from moving in a more socialist country. Why don't you? There's plenty of choice out there.
Countries can control who moves into them, you know.
Many of our poor health outcomes seem to be due to lifestyle issues (obesity, drugs, lack of exercise, etc) not our actual health care system.
Not disagreeing with your comment as I think you are mostly right. Just thought you might find this interesting.
After all, if you always adjust your spending to your income, you will never be rich in any 'cannot be ruined' sense. Consequently, it would be unfair to compare situations to the 30k family and conclude you are in the same boat.
No, you wouldn't.
If you lived on 20% of your income ($60,000 - still double that $30k household that you claim is the same), you could retire in 5.5 working years and have that nest egg sustain you forever - no welfare state needed.
If you drop it down to the $30,000, saving 90% of your income, you could retire in 3 years.
Your lifestyle is preventing you from doing that, and your lifestyle and the fact that you can choose whether or not to live the $30k lifestyle is how you are not the same as that $30k household on the other end of town.
> That is why I am a socialist and I know I'm not the only one.
You're still only a socialist as long as you're spending other people's money.
The question is not one of abstractions, but of political realities. What exactly has this so-called "solidarity of the precariat" wrought? The author's point is precisely that the upper-middle class actively work against the interests of the 80%. Do you disagree that 30k/yr private schools, Ivy League legacies, and these suburban enclaves are also "an attack on the solidarity of the precariat"? Only that the 80% only have their words and their votes, whereas the 20% have real political power?
It sounds like you should buy insurance.
What's stopping you from saving up same amount of money?
> if I was to get an incurable disease I would slide down the income scale without a break.
...as would your utility to the society. It's understandable, from basic moral instinct, that society would continue to provide you with basic food and shelter, would such a thing happen. But why on Earth would I, for example, be compelled to continue pay you your former salary (since we're on HN, I'd assume you're on senior software engineer level) after you can no longer provide the relevant service?
The fact that it would put him at a significant relative quality of life disadvantage compared to his peers. A widespread 80% tax would not.
This is also true of insurance systems.
Nobody's pretending that socialised systems magic healthcare out of thin air, it's more a question of total resources spent by society and distribution of outcomes - including whether certain people get rationed out of the system because they can't afford it.
For everything else there's capitalism.
Although I've never had the option to choose these utilities in the cities I've lived in. I haven't lived in a ton of cities, but enough to wonder.
This crucial point of yours seems to have been missed by the author of the article. I wonder if that has something to do with them being from the UK, which has nationalized healthcare and some sort of a welfare state.
Oh and by the way, countries like the Soviet Union have never been known for providing good healthcare solutions or even producing remotely interesting new drugs for their population.
Are you sure you really want socialism for health care? Seems like the facts don't really align with your idealized version of socialism.
When everybody in this thread are advocating for socialism, are using the word in the European sense, socialism as in social-democracy , as have many leading European parties in their names . Its tenets are as many as there are people using the word, but usually involve a strong safety net with a publicly owned healthcare system, strong redistribution by taxing the rich and companies, and generally having corporations on short leash. For a successful implementation, see the Nordic countries.
In the US, the word socialism is used as a synonym for communism, that is the word that would be used in Europe for the kind of government that ran all those countries you mentioned, is responsible of all those awful things and shares nothing with socialism but a far historical background, lost in the mists of the late XIX century.
In real life (in Europe), it would be hard to find anybody that goes by socialist or votes a socialist party that would advocate for anything remotely similar to a full fledged Communism.
I can see that lots of Americans refuse to acknowledge the difference between different kinds of political systems, or look at Europe as it actually is. It's disappointing that even on HN people can't see past their prejudices.
I can't figure out "Europe as it actually is." I have concluded that peasants like to be ruled and cradle to grave socialism is what people clearly prefer despite the negative effects it has on real personal freedom.
The world is full of countries with more equally distributed healthcare systems than the US with better public/private balance. The one that gets brought up most often here is the UK NHS, but there are plenty of others.
(Ironically, even if you limit yourself to actual communism, Cuba has quite an effective healthcare system. It just relies on not having freedom of movement so doctors can't move to better paid countries)
"The infant mortality rate in Cuba is lower than it is in the United States and is among the lowest in the world"
Not perfect, but far better than you might expect.
How many countries with socialist health care systems then produce new drugs for patients? I can tell you, it's about none. Most of the new drugs worldwide come from the US market. There's no way going around that fact.
Novo -- focusing on diabetes; about 15,000 employees in Denmark: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novo_Nordisk
Novozymes -- enzymes; about 6,500 employees in Denmark: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novozymes
Coloplast -- colostomy bags etc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coloplast
Genmab -- cancer etc: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genmab
These are 4 directly medical companies that also are all 4 part of the OMX 20 stock market index (similar to NASDAQ 100, the most 20 valuable public companies). That index also has 2 hearing aid companies (GN and William Demant)
One source estimates 44.000 employees in biotech/medtech in the Copenhagen/Sweden "Medicon Valley" area.
There's also the question of what kind of research is prioritised by the profit motive.
(Human Genome Project is probably the flagship example of such international public research)