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A.I. And Big Data Could Power a New War on Poverty? (nytimes.com)
125 points by bcaulfield on Jan 2, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 286 comments



AI will far more likely power a new war on the poor than power a war to fight poverty. Through new ways to discriminate in lending/housing (1), and new ways to discriminate in hiring (2), new ways to discriminate in policing (3.) AI will be no boon to the poor. It will be a new tool for the wealthy to use math as smoke screen for practices they have used for centuries to keep the poor poor and the rich rich.

1)https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/4x44dp/ai-could-r... & https://www.americanbanker.com/news/is-artificial-intelligen... 2)http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/economy/article/2112786/u... 3) https://www.propublica.org/article/machine-bias-risk-assessm...


It was exactly my reaction from reading this title.

A.I and Big Data are in themselves tools, but access to those tools is highly more likely if wealthy. So they will be used toward the self interest of the wealthiest, and, consequently against the interest of the poorest.

Cambridge Analytica and the Trump election comes to mind for example.


If you're a Google and most of your income is based on advertising how do you survive in a world in which only 0.01% of the population has an income? You don't need an internet to serve ads to 500 super rich, a magazine is a more efficient way to go when your numbers are that tiny. The system can keep pushing and pushing the poor but at what point does the system become so efficient that it eats itself?


Access to internet has only become cheaper over time. These days even homeless have internet access.

Not sure what is your point.


No point in advertising to people with no (disposable) income. It's like trying to squeeze blood from a stone.


[0] consumption = autonomous consumption + marginal propensity to consume × disposable income

Even when income, disposable or total, is set to zero, individuals still have to eat, to be sheltered, to take transportation.

Then, wherever there are multiple products for anything that would be considered a necessity, advertising can still have a positive return.

[0] https://saylordotorg.github.io/text_macroeconomics-theory-th...


I am not sure exactly how you would fight a "war on poverty" without also fighting a "war on the poor."

This is some "we are going to invade your country and force you to be free" level Orwellian thinking.


That is because the "war on ..."-metaphors are pretty much bullshit talk. If you want to look like a strong person, that takes an issue seriously, declare a war on a concept... Its a simple propaganda technique, aimed at people, that are easily impressed by bellicose statements. But it wears off quickly. Especially if one considers how other "wars on concepts" are going (war on drugs, war on terror)


If on the other hand you subscribe to the idea that War is a Racket, it becomes obvious that the label is used quite accurately...


By helping the poor out of poverty instead of strengthening the mechanisms that put them there to keep them there.

I'm not sure how exactly that's Orwellian thinking, please explain.


"War is Welfare" is fairly Orwellian.


This article is talking about analytics. Analytics will have a marginal impact at best on reducing poverty. Of course people working in analytics have been benefited by it through the income it has given them, but the cumulative effects of analyzing data will not lead to some epiphany that will help us to end poverty.

In order to bring about structural change of the scale needed to end poverty, we need to reach levels of technology, productivity and social organization that we have not yet reached today. We will not ascend to this level by analyzing some set of socio-economic data. We will reach this point by building machines that can do work for us and automating entire supply chains so that labor no longer impacts production costs.


We already have sufficient technology, agricultural & manufacturing output, and logistics in place to feed, clothe, and assumably shelter every human on the planet. Social organization away from surplus value hoarding by big capital seems to be the key missing piece of the puzzle.


I agree that novel social partnerships will need to develop, but I still think large increases in productivity and technical capability are necessary.

For example, the total amount of wealth in the world is about 250 trillion USD according to Credit Suisse. There are about 7.5 billion people in the world today. 250T/7.5B = 33,333 USD per person. This really isn't that much wealth per person. So the total amount in existence still needs to increase dramatically.


Given we've either already destroyed or are in the process of destroying every major marine fishery on the planet and something like 40% of the total dry land area on the planet is currently used for some form of agriculture it seems pretty plain that we cannot sustainably support the current global population. You sure that massive increases in global wealth and not a reduction in global population are what are called for?


> Given we've either already destroyed or are in the process of destroying every major marine fishery on the planet

Partially related to this, but my parents live in a village on the Lower Danube (the second largest river in Europe, after the Volga). I remember that when I was a kid (in the '80s) you had no problems catching enough fish during a day in order to feed a family of 3 or 4 if you wanted, and even sell something on the side for some extra cash (not much, but it mattered). I remember my uncle telling me that back when he was a kid (the '70s) the fish resources were even more plentiful, as in whenever the river was flooding the marshland-like areas he and his friends would go in there and catch the fish using their bare hands.

Nowadays you can barely catch a fish. Some former colleagues of mine spent an entire day trying to catch something in the Danube and at the end they hadn't catch anything (bare in mind, they were using more modern tools compared to what people were using back in the '70s and '80s). The struggle is real.


Highly recommend Four Fish by Paul Greenberg, does a good job showing all sides of the fishing industry and the projected future if we keep going the same way.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7347759-four-fish


Thank you for bringing back some sanity. Exponential population growth is not sustainable and will only make the poor, poorer (or not as poor but at the cost of health, etc).


It's actually a huge amount of wealth per person.

1st, you do realize that you include babies and elderly in that 7.5B?

2nd, you do realize that if we were living like touaregs instead of north americans we would all feel like f'ing rich with $30k?

3rd, and, spinning this back to social partnership, we could very well live in a world with no money, or at least a society in which money is not the only measure of contribution (i.e. where narcissistic douches like the donald wouldn't be seen as useful contributors).

(edited layout only)


But I'd much rather live like a North American than a Tuareg (I take you to mean the Berber people called the Tuaregs).

I like my central heat and air conditioning, and Netflix, and Spotify, and my comfortable and spacious car, and my ability to use air transport, and the restaurants that exist to serve me delicious food, etc...

Come now, we're human beings! The world is our domain! We should be working to create more things for more people, not settling for less!


I can't tell if you are being sarcastic or not. If you are being serious, then mind taking a moment to consider your impact on the Earth? It's kind of in a bad way right now.


I'm not being sarcastic at all. Whatever damage humanity is doing to Earth now in pursuit of material comfort will be quickly healed once we transition to more sustainable sources of energy. The Earth will be fine, it's very resilient.

Living well and living sustainably are both important, we don't have to sacrifice one for the other.


Well I disagree on all the above points, and there is a lot of evidence the Earth is having a really tough time dealing with our massive destruction of habitat, production of CO2, toxins, pollution--especially pesticides--overfishing, overpopulation, and overconsumption of every type of food. Ecosystems are in freefall, insects are disappearing, ecosystems are unraveling, the ice caps and Greenland and nearly all global glaciers are melting, the ocean is full of trash, and parts of the planet are likely to be uninhabitable in a century or two. This is not normal. Thousands of years of human history and it's come down to less than a century of industrialized fuckery to create a situation where a very ugly collapse increasingly looks inevitable.

And then you talk about living sustainable. Well buckle up, your lifestyle, and mine--I dunno for sure, since you mention Netflix and traveling I assume you are a relatively normal middle-class or upper-middle class westerner--are going bye bye. It simply does not scale to 7.5 billion people, so we are all are either going to have check out early without having kids or find a way to maintain our lifestyles using less energy, less food, less travel, and overall fewer goods, and then explain to our kids how they are going to have make do with even less than that.

The fantasy of a tech utopia run by machines on sustainable energy and the environment being all rosy like in the movies is just not going to happen. Unless we invent the Matrix--in which case, we'll all probably gladly enter it.


>the Earth is having a really tough time

Pointless statement because you are anthropomorphizing the planet. The only way the plan ceases to exist is if we manage to blow it up. Otherwise it's fine. Be more precise in your words.

>the ocean is full of trash

Again, it's not full. Don't be hyperbolic when convincing someone of an argument.

>It simply does not scale to 7.5 billion people

There is no evidence of this. The lifestyle of a vegan westerner who does not travel frequently scales extremely well.


You're seriously going to attempt to advance the claim there is no evidence to support the assertion that global consumption doesn't sustainably scale to 7.5 billion people in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary (you might want to look into Global Warming and the anthropocene mass extinction as a start) and then have the cheek to claim veganism is some kind of magic bullet? I'm guessing you aren't conversant with what percentage of total global consumption of fossil fuels is used by the agricultural industry, either as fertilizer or as part of the sow->harvest->packaging->delivery pipeline. You also really won't enjoy a clear-eyed examination of the impact of the agricultural industry's use of pesticide and herbicides.


It's almost as if you didn't read my post. We will be able to sustain our population pretty easily because we can adapt, farm further north, use more energy, etc. If anti-science people would stop blocking nuclear energy then we would have a clear path to low emissions energy for the entire planet.

If by 'sustainably' you mean some hand-wavy 'no impact to anything on the planet' then no, we cannot. We will certainly need to farm a lot and that takes land which will displace something.

Also, the ecosystem of the planet itself is not sustainable because of the competitive and evolutionary nature of life. Even without humans, animals and plants continually go extinct and have mass extinction events and yet life continues.


Your assertions are faith-based unless you have a plan for what we eat when (for example) pollinators go extinct? You cannot simply handwave away a collapsing ecosystem.


The earth never had to face a menace so great as the homo sapiens though. Will it be resilient enough? What's good enough? that we and our debilitated livestock survive this technological "transition"? Is living in such a world even worth it for your kids?


> then mind taking a moment to consider your impact on the Earth?

The Earth isn't a being with a utility function, you can't have a beneficial or harmful impact on it, only on people who attach positive or negative value to certain conditions on the Earth.


I would like to pick your brain on this - what number for wealth/person do you think would be a big number? What catches my eye about this is if everyone were a doctor right out of med school, the world's net worth would be negative, but everyone would be fed and clothed and be rich in 10 years. I'm not sure wealth per person is a great way to measure economic prosperity. If you have lots of wealth, does that necessarily translate to more income down the line?


>if everyone were a doctor right out of med school, the world's net worth would be negative, but everyone would be fed and clothed and be rich in 10 years

If everyone were a doctor that skill would be worthless. People are (mostly) paid according to the amount of value they bring to a company. That value is relative to others in the industry. Knowing how to competently use Microsoft Office (which puts you ahead of 99% of the world population) gets you nowhere in a AI focused startup because it doesn't make you more valuable to them.

>I'm not sure wealth per person is a great way to measure economic prosperity. If you have lots of wealth, does that necessarily translate to more income down the line?

I totally agree with you here. The metric I think matters more is relative wealth. Say you are a software developer making $120,000: in the Silicon Valley that is about average, but in Kentucky that is three times what the average person makes. So in SV you live a "normal" life, but in Kentucky you are decidedly upper class.


MDs are as valuable in the North America are they are in Europe, they go to similar training, and enrollment numbers kept arbitrarily low. Yet they are paid a lot more in the US and Canada that they are in the UK or France. And we all know that cost of MD has minimal bearing on total the cost of healthcare, which in itself has minimal bearing on the relative healthcare efficiency.

I am ambivalent about the relative wealth. I think it is fair and helps, up to a certain level, but globally, money attracts money, which means that certain people, with certain background and certain jobs would be deemed worth leaving in California. And this relative wealth-based system is already in place (e.g. designers in Cuppertino, IT in N. Dakota, assembler in Shenzhen).


> If everyone were a doctor that skill would be worthless.

The point you made was 100% correct, but that wasn't my meaning. I said right out of med school because I meant to focus on the problem in terms of cash flow - you can be in heaps of debt but still be well off. If the world were in huge amounts of debt (negative wealth) it seems like it could still be well off.


> In order to bring about structural change of the scale needed to end poverty, we need to reach levels of technology, productivity and social organization that we have not yet reached today.

They been sayin' this since the wheel, methinks!

Jesus said, "The poor will always be with you." Not being a Christian, I still see the wisdom in this statement.

In wealth-oriented societies, rich people have been fighting a war to get rid of poor people since the beginning of time--throw them in jail, lock them in ghettos, deport them, wall them out. The structural change needed is in people's attitudes, society's values, not our technology.

It's getting worse, not better, and the more hopes we pin on our techno-fantasy, the harder the crash is going to be.


>In wealth-oriented societies, rich people have been fighting a war to get rid of poor people since the beginning of time

Would only quibble in that it's not getting rid of them that's the general goal, but leveraging them for their own benefit (which in some cases might involve the former).


But you're leaving out the fact that the average person is much better off now, materially, than they ever were in the past.


The average person might be a little better off than a decade ago, but the gap between rich and poor keeps getting wider, and even worse, the poor are actually getting poorer. If the rich get even richer, the average keeps going up, well done!


Do you know of any resources that explore this potential in depth (books, articles, etc..)? I'd be very curious. It's one thing to just say "building machines that can do the work for us" but what are all of the implications of this? Will the machines self maintain? Will they build themselves? How would we avoid needing massive teams of people to maintain all of this technology? How would power management and costs work? Even if it is semi-fiction I'd love to read others thoughts on the subject.


The future I and many others envision is one in which that's all taken care of by machines. From power generation to maintenance, etc.

I believe we have yet to fully appreciate the ability of a developed economy to produce jobs and work for people to do. Even if we automate the entirety of the food production, mining and energy generation industries, new forms of work will spring up to absorb anyone that may have been displaced by automation.

Whenever some work is automated, people insert themselves on top of that layer of production to form a new layer. This process continues ad infinitum. At least that's been the case for the entire history of organized human society.


We should really review the idea that everyone should “work.”

If machines are doing everything, and I’m not taking resources away from anyone else, why should I work?


I understand what the future you and others envision is (it comes up on HN all the time). What I was asking is if you have any references to someone who has actually thought very deeply about this to see if it is even feasible.

It's easy to just say machines will take care of everything. That is a long stretch from it actually happening and I think there are many fundamental problems you'd encounter trying to achieve that. Just looking for books, novels, whatever that might explore the idea a lot further.


Everything I see around AI/ML is nothing but bad news for entire strata of current vocations. Once the algos get fully optimised to point of diminishing returns - data scientists etc. will become just another unemployment stat too.


Every time I see an article talking about how we're going to destroy the economy by turning fast food workers into kiosks and replacing teamsters with self-driving trucks... I just think how much easier it is to replace the average white-collar worker.

Accountants, corporate lawyers, clerks, receptionists, schedulers... so many jobs that will either be eliminated or made so that 1 person can do the work of 20, leading to outsourcing and consolidation.

'First they came for the accountants, but I did not speak out because they were paying me really well to design weak AI to replace the accountants...'


I've lost the link, but I read a thread recently with doctors laughing at the idea they could ever be replaced with anything related to AI.

The 1 in 20 left - is so clearly going to happen to that profession - I suspect they'll be hit harder than truck drivers.

Once you get every symptom, every generic fingerprint, every prescription and every outcome for a decade in to a TensorFlow model - it's going to smash current results.

It won't be guessing at 100mg or 200mg, it will be prescribing 127mg/day for first week, and 122mg/day for the second - a year later it will bring that advice down to 126.


This is an utter fantasy. Small scale limited scope tools being rolled out to augment diagnosis -- Yes. AI doctors -- No :( Also the data is probably mostly shit -- physicians are fallible and like all people potentially incompetent or negligent -- these trends would be reflected in whatever historical data is used, that inefficiency would simply be made much faster with automation -- which is why they will try it first in India before it is ever approved on Western soil.

On the other hand a RL system that pokes and prods a living persons brain with electrified needles and uses a conv net to watch for feedback from the resulting facial expressions is completely possible -- with enough training experience anybody could convince me of anything using it. One 30 second session to ensure a lifetime of compliance and happiness -- the promotional material can have a guy drinking a glass Kool-Aid with a look of tranquil bliss on his face.


Analytics plays an important role in decision making and understanding. And in fact the cumulative effects of analyzing data has lead to greater efficiency in countless areas of manufacturing[1], better healthcare/patient outcomes[2], and evidence based policy making[3]. Higher levels of technologies, productivity and organization don't just happen by reaching and thinking really hard. Smart people are looking at the data and doing analytics to see how they can improve their processes. Analytics are corner stone to better technology, productivity, and systems.

And sure, you can make the argument that charts and graphs themselves will not end poverty. But your missing the point. You should be asking what arguments you can make with those charts. They are often made to help you make a decision. Like everything, finding small improvements will help us understand what is working and what isn't. And with that information we can build better systems with the goal of reducing poverty.

[1] https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-i... [2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2659/ [3] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/09/08/...


The point of analytics is to create knowledge. So you're saying either that you don't think analytics produces knowledge, or "Knowledge will have a marginal impact at best on reducing poverty".


Not all knowledge is useful or productive. If I decide I'm going to count every single hair on my scalp, I've produced data, I've done analytics on my scalp, but the knowledge I've created is not useful.

It's clear that analytics creates knowledge, but from what I've seen that knowledge isn't always helpful.

It really must be judged on a case by case basis, but analytics often just confirms what we've already known or suspected. We already know that mental illness is responsible for homelessness. The utility of additional analytics here is probably marginal. What is needed are treatments and cures for mental illness itself.


Bingo. It’s like the “nudging” trend that’s been floated around in political circles. While it offers measurable improvements from existing processes, it is in effect a tacit admission that our societies are structured poorly and we have neither the collective will nor the imagination to reinvent our ways of life.


Second, we can bring what is known as differentiated education — based on the idea that students master skills in different ways and at different speeds — to every student in the country. A 2013 study by the National Institutes of Health found that nearly 40 percent of medical students held a strong preference for one mode of learning: Some were listeners; others were visual learners; still others learned best by doing.

This study was a 100 person survey with no experimental evidence to back up people's beliefs. I've been working with educators for a while, and they've said that "learning styles" are just a myth with no solid evidence. All this survey says is that people think they learn best via one method, but people are notoriously bad at knowing what is an effective way of learning. In surveys people overvalue the "intensity" of a learning experience [1], which makes them think things like a 3-week bootcamp are more effective, when really spaced repetition is a better use of time.

At least in the US, there are many easier ways we could improve our education methods before resorting to ML-driven customization.

[1] http://www.pnas.org/content/114/37/9854.full


I don't really have experimental data to back this up. But after struggling for my entire life until recently with learning this is the experience I have had studying for my last course(after a decade of struggling to study).

I use to write everything down, it was the only way to retain whatever little information that I was capable of retaining. I never had enough confidence to NOT write everything. Realizing that all my abilities were impaired because of improper cognitive development. I decided to start from scratch, having nothing developed and picking one area that I was suited to. I have been practicing reciting rap lyrics of Eminem and Nas(not really for any reason, it was just fun). What I realized is that now my ability to recall information was significantly improved at least from a verbal learning style perspective. And it only took a few months develop. While studying for my final I went back to my old habits of writing every single detail down and realizing I will never have enough time to write it all down. So I started reciting knowledge the same way I would recite rap lyrics and I retained EVERYTHING. I have never studied so little, yet I aced my exam got an A in the course and was proud.

Moral of the story is that people are different, and while most people may learn from one method, it doesn't mean they will have that capability developed at the time they need it. So they have to learn to adapt with what is available to them.

edit: I will add that again poverty is the source of all this. My parents grew up in severe poverty and never were able to develop these skills properly and I had to suffer because of that.


Mind if I ask what was responsible for your "improper cognitive development"?


Very complicated issues, but mostly traumatic childhood of my parents which was mirrored by my brain and had to be undone before any serious cognitive development could happen. Trauma = Disassociation = Brain functions become disconnected and do not work properly. It becomes harder when you have to bootstrap your brain to work well and you are basically starting over 20 years later than everyone.


>Disassociation

Interesting. Do you mean like depersonalization and/or derealization?


It is probably all of the above. It is the umbrella term that covers everything.


>I've been working with educators for a while, and they've said that "learning styles" are just a myth with no solid evidence

I've worked with educators too. They are and they aren't it depends on the level and time period you're taking. At the individual level how a math problem (for example) is presented can affect how quickly a student grasps the concept. When you're taking an entire school and more than a decade of schooling the effects of presentation aren't all that meaningful because people do the best job retaining the knowledge they use frequently.


> "learning styles" are just a myth with no solid evidence.

> when really spaced repetition is a better use of time.

So, which is it?


I believe the comment you are responding to would say "both".

The learning styles to which they refer is the notion that different people learn better through visual or audio or hands-on experience. Spaced repetition versus intensive study is a different question, one of practice and time use, that doesn't address the question or value of "style".

At least, that's how I understand it. As a casual interpreter of someone else's comment, I could of course be wildly wrong.


I doubt it will help to combat poverty.

It will be used as a tool by the rich to extract more money and increase poverty.

Who will wield these AI tools that is supposed to be used to fight poverty?

Corporations are for-profit and a corporate sociopath cannot be concerned about limiting profit to help the poor. They'll want to use AI as a new tool to increase profits. This will come at the expense of the human populace at large.

My government in the United States of America is rapidly falling to greed. Corporations only act nominally concerned about the poor as a PR act to prevent the rage of the populace from using government against them. Since my government is even further down the slide into plutocracy than ever before, this government will neither stop the greed-based corporate use of AI nor will it use it to help the poor, because there's no money for their rich patrons in helping the poor.

Even you want this magic AI tech to help the poor, who will do it? Where will you get the data in the first place to feed into this A.I. and Big Data magic machine? I argue the two sources above will not be a help in so far as they might threaten the greed they exhibit.


The more likely outcome here is that AI and Big Data will be used to extract some of the remaining funds that poor people have by tweaking business models and marketing to become just that much more efficient.


Poverty is a social issue, it has almost nothing to do with tech fundamentally and tech normally only amplifies social beliefs, it rarely fixes them.


Indeed, it seems what we need to end poverty is more "heart" (empathy), rather than mind (intelligence)


Can we quit having wars on things ? Everything we have a war against gets worse.


Also, using the word "war" to address waste, poverty, terrorism, "drugs" and so on normalizes the idea that war is a good and necessary thing.

In most other cultures people don't use the word war metaphorically because it's seen as a terrible thing.


It's not a real war. LBJ noted that war seems to get heaps of money shoveled on it while basic domestic stuff goes unfunded. So declaring a war on poverty is a way to anchor the amount of money spent up where people think of funding wars instead of down where they think of funding welfare programs.


All true, but I think geggam still has a point. What if framing these things as wars is somehow part of why they don't work?


You might find this paper interesting, into explores the idea of framing things as war:

https://www.cse.buffalo.edu/~rapaport/575/F01/lakoff.johnson...

There's a book from the same authors that contains a more expansive list of metaphors and examples.


True, but it also sets expectations that can't be met - we won't 'win' these wars, poverty won't 'surrender' and whether or not progress is made, we won't 'lose' this war either.


But the condition of poverty often entails one or more of these realities: a lack of income (joblessness); a lack of preparedness (education); and a dependency on government services (welfare). A.I. can address all three.

Wow, and not in a good way. Reading that makes me apoplectic. My first instinct is to write something full of swear words and insults that wouldn't meet HN guidelines.

First, poverty is gendered. One of the things that drives poverty for women is the cultural expectation that we provide caregiving to our own children and other relatives essentially for free and that society owes us nothing for this imposition on our time and energy. There are other factors, but that's a big one.

The next thing that drives poverty is various intractable personal problems, such as health issues, learning disabilities and mental health issues. One thing society can do to reduce the degree to which such issues separate the Haves from the Have Nots is to provide universal health care.

Dependency on government services is driven in part by poor design of services such that getting on them actively cripples your ability to get off of them. This entire article sounds like a snide way to blame poor people for their problems rather than look for actual solutions.

I can't believe they say in the same article that a) jobs are outright going away and b) the solution for unemployed people is superior job matching services. If there are no jobs to get, you don't have a matching problem.

This is such utter drivel. Wow.


First, poverty is gendered. One of the things that drives poverty for women is the cultural expectation that we provide caregiving to our own children and other relatives essentially for free and that society owes us nothing for this imposition on our time and energy.

Where does the fact that more homeless in the U.S. are men than women fit into this for you?


That's really complicated. One thing that drives higher rates of homelessness for men is that it is safer for them. Homeless women are at high risk of being raped. Women often put up with things men will not tolerate in order to avoid the street because it is the lesser evil.

Of course, that isn't something most people want to hear. I am a woman and I spent 5.7 years homeless. It helped me solve some of my intractable personal problems. I am newly off the street and recently applied for my dream job. I hope to soon have the life I always wanted and could not arrange. I got it in part by taking the whole deal involved in exercising agency like a man, a luxury many women lack.

But commenting on such things tends to not be well received. Men want to play their own victim card when it comes to that statistic and it is never acceptable to point out that there is an element of choice involved and the greater degree of agency generally exercised by men is a driving factor in higher rates of male homelessness. It sounds like victim blaming to a lot of people.


In more or less all western societies men are found in the top and in the bottom of society.

I am perfectly fine with accepting that there is an element of choice involved if that also explains why men are found in the top of society.

My experience is that many women will not agree on that but instead point to (if they are really stereotype feminists) patriarchal structures in society benefitting men.


The patriarchy isn't so black and white. Toxic masculinity is bad for women and also bad for men. Sexist social conventions make it still much more acceptable for women to be unemployed than for men and so the pressure to succeed is much higher for men. I believe this, along with other expectations of masculinity, is part of the reason why they may be more likely to get burnout or suffer depression and other mental illness, while rejecting help necessary help. This can easily lead to homelessness.

Feminism includes criticism of the social dynamics that hurt men too. I think it's perfectly explained from a feminist framework why men can be on the bottom and also on the top of society. Most feminists support a solution to these problems as well as the ones that affect women since they are inherently connected.


Well, toxic masculinity isn't really a thing I recognize.

There is masculinity but claiming it's toxic is an absurd form of shaming which rests on the assumption that there are masculine traits which are objectively toxic.


I didn't say all masculinity is toxic. I think masculinity is fine but then you have things like this:

"Man up"

"Boys will be boys"

"You throw like a girl"/"[blank] is for girls"

"When men were men..."

"No means yes, yes means anal"

You can't deny there are some really terrible behaviours and expectations that have been normalised in our culture and they are considered as being inherent to masculinity.


No, toxicity is generally determined by dosage of a particular toxin, not grouped by toxins and non-toxins (example: water). This definition holds here too.


It implies that too much of a thing can be dangerous which isn't always the case.


It is a loaded term. It doesn't belong here, anymore than announcing women are all bitches belongs in civil discourse.


>My experience is that many women will not agree on that but instead point to (if they are really stereotype feminists) patriarchal structures in society benefitting men.

I'm curious as to why you think this an "either-or" proposition? Can men make choices and benefit from a "patriarchal" society? In fact, might men have further incentive to make the choices that will convey the benefits that disproportionately await them?


I'm not a feminist. I was on the street with my two adult sons. I have a track record of making even handed comments about gendered issues on HN.


That's fine.

I wonder still though if you agree that it also explains why men are found in the top.


I think it is more complicated than that. And I doubt we would be able to have a good discussion on the matter. You seem to be driving towards "Women just don't want it bad enough." There is some truth to that. But there is also a higher cost to women to just do the will-to-power thing and, in the aggregate, it doesn't serve survival of the species.


I am simply responding to your claim about men making choices and wondering if you are consistent with this or whether you claim it only applies to men.


In general, men and women face a different set of choices. It tends to be an apples to oranges comparison.

I do think this is an element:

Generally speaking, women have an option men lack. They can marry well. Given this easy out, when things get challenging at work, some will walk, especially since they have vastly less reason to believe they can achieve stellar success and they also face sexual harassment to a degree that far exceeds what men face. So, with poorer odds of reward, a typically worse set of working conditions due to the element of harassment and another option on the table, this will lead a lot of women to give up where men have fewer disincentives to persist and no easy out.

Women need to "want" it a helluva lot worse for wanting it to have any hope of getting them as far as a man is likely to get. So it is a rather unfair question and it really comes across like it has a very polite facade, but dark agenda.

I will add that I have already previously indicated women make choices as well when they choose to put up with crappy situations to avoid being raped on the street. So I don't plan to engage you further.


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you indicated that men often have a choice when it comes to homelessness

No, I said there is an element of choice. I said this was true about both genders.

Men do not face high odds of sexual assault on the street. When their choice is between staying in a crappy situation with relatives they don't much like or being homeless, homelessness may look like the lesser evil to them. When given the same choice, but knowing that life on the street is highly likely to involve being raped, putting up with crappy relatives is likely to look like the lesser evil to a woman.


You go to Denmark men are also found at the bottom and most of them are not homeless. So I don't think the homeless factor is useful even though I buy it's a matter of choice.


I'm not the one who brought up homelessness. I was asked about it. I replied. Then you had additional questions, that I answered to the best of my ability.

Also: Comments on HN talking about toxic masculinity and The Patriarchy should probably just be flagged/downvoted, not engaged in discussion. Talking like men are all evil pieces of shit for being born male in an overwhelmingly male forum is something I view as trollish. So I tend to downvote and/or flag them.


What are then victim hood stats by gender? While I would agree that homeless women would more often be victims of sexual violence, but sexual violence is not the only kind of violence. Do the stats really show that homeless men are safer?

Regarding your last comment, what do you mean by "greater degree of agency" and how do you measure it?

We don't live in Saudi Arabia. Women can make all the same choices men can.

Like what is stopping other women from doing what you did and how does that also not stop men?

It sounds like victim blaming because it is. In our society we tend towards believing people are not deserving of help if they are in bad situations due to their own choices.

I don't believe because I understand how hard it can be to make the right choices, and also because as far as I have seen that's true of almost everyone in a bad spot. That doesn't mean we shouldn't help them, because we should help everyone who suffers.


I believe they meant that poverty is experienced differently by gender, not that it only happens to one gender.


Homelessness is only the most visible sign of poverty. If we somehow gave all homeless people some walls to live in, let's say without running water and no heat, would we have "solved" poverty?

Of course not.

As the GP pointed out, homelessness is safer for men.

How about this fact: 21% of children live in poverty. How does that fit in for you?


To add to your point, a fair amount of homeless people have mental illness, so no amount of job will help them if we don't care to their mental health.

(The official US number is 25%, but I feel like Canada and UK surveys pairing mental illness and homelessness at up to 70% is closer to the reality.)


> To add to your point, a fair amount of homeless people have mental illness, so no amount of job will help them if we don't care to their mental health.

Mental illness isn't always a 100% sort of thing. Most people I know have been diagnosed with some sort of mental illness at some point or another, most of them either temporary or minor. Most of these people are gainfully employed, most of the time. Some of these people have had some issues retaining employment due to a mental issue getting worse.

The more demand for your labor there is, the easier it is to get back on your feet after a temporary worsening of your condition is resolved, and that's super important, I think. Also, if you have chronic issues, the degree to which your employer will tolerate those chronic issues is determined largely by demand for your labor.

I mean, certainly, there are some who are completely disabled, and I imagine that if you took one of those people I know with minor issues that periodically got worse and better, they'd have a hell of a time trying to get better if they were homeless. Certainly, mental health treatment is important and would help a lot. I'm just saying that more demand for your labor is also something that helps a lot, even when you do have some other issues.


Imagine getting rid of all your possessions and wealth, moving somewhere that you have no support network, not talking to anyone you know, and living on the street (going hungry sometimes, facing the elements, not being able to shower regularly, wearing holes in all your clothes, ...). After 5 years, what do you think the chances are that people will consider you “mentally ill”? If you want to make the experiment more realistic, imagine also suffering some trauma that causes you extreme amounts of anxiety for a while such as going through a messy divorce with a scheming narcissist, having your family disown you, getting severely physically assaulted, or killing several innocent people.

Many “mentally ill” people were formerly considered “sane” within the bounds of social norms, but even the best prepared can fall on hard times, and being homeless and socially isolated is really hard even for the mentally strongest.


I'm not sure homelessness is safer for men. Men are a lot more likely to be victims of every kind of assault than rape, and I have no reason to believe that the ratio of male:female victimization is affected by poverty. Further, men probably don't lag women a whole lot in rape victimization, or at least it's certainly more prevalent than the cultural meme suggests, largely due to underreporting and the fact that many jurisdictions (including the FBI) have defined rape in such a way that it excludes men from the victimization statistics (e.g. "rape is vaginal penetration"). Besides, there are far fewer social services (e.g., shelters) available to homeless men as compared to homeless women.


Glad to find others here who had a negative impression of the article. Wasn’t sure what comments to expect given its association with two influential organizations. My objections vary somewhat from others, but overall I felt it was at risk of drifting into Not Even Wrong territory.

The author suggests hard working middle class people are missing out on millions unfilled job openings ripe for the picking, because we don’t have good enough matching algorithms.

One insult is suggesting desperate out of work people may not already be taking the extraordinary measures necessary to find the best positions they can get. I question even the validity of the claim, that “matching” is alone is keeping any significant number people out of work. Another insult is not mentioning a lot of these jobs may not be filled simply because the salary and opportunity for career development are not that great.

Other topics like improving the educational system are grossly oversimplified given the competing interests of students, teachers, politics, and government. The biggest problem has been explained here on HN previously: Education doesn’t lack good ideas or innovation as much as it lacks funding to develop and implement the good ideas.

Other points about how AI will remove concerns of bias seem naive, or at least not in tune with recent work like that from Facebook, that has faced an uphill battle trying to convince people its easy to create objective policy systems.

I can see the benefit of articles that look at the current practical challenges of AI, and also more speculative articles that look at what the future may bring. This argument seems to be stuck in the middle, while not doing particularly well at either.


> One of the things that drives poverty for women is the cultural expectation that we provide caregiving to our own children and other relatives essentially for free and that society owes us nothing for this imposition on our time and energy. There are other factors, but that's a big one.

You have a source for that? I would think that the wage gap would be a much more significant factor than cultural expectations. And I would hope that people would provide caregiving to their own children for free.


Well, there are studies that find that the wage gap has a lot to do with caregiving. This freakonomics episode talks about that: http://freakonomics.com/podcast/the-true-story-of-the-gender...


There is a reason poor urban neighborhoods are full of poor single moms, not single dads, and it’s not the wage gap. Indeed, the wage gap all but disappears when you eliminate child-rearing related differences from the equation.


Out of curiosity, why did you scope to urban neighborhoods? Either the finding holds true for urban, suburban, and rural poor neighborhoods or child-rearing responsibilities is probably not the cause (instead, it would probably be something that correlates with population density). What am I missing?

EDIT: I can't reply ("I'm posting too fast"), but I'm genuinely asking for clarity--not making a point or impugning anyone's character.


I've spent many years living or working in depressed industrial/port cities, so urban poverty is the first thing that comes to mind. It's apparently also true in rural areas, though I've never spent enough time in any such places to see who was carting around the kids. https://scholars.unh.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https:/....


Ah, thanks for clarifying.


It seems uncharitable to glom onto a single word of the GP's statement; suburban and rural areas are also full of single mothers.


I was just asking for clarity; not making a point of any kind.


>I can't reply ("I'm posting too fast"),

Click on the time next to the post you want to reply to.


From their description, your parent appears to be rate-limited: they can't post a new comment and instead are editing one they already posted.


In a different comment, they outright state they are being throttled:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16056235


Yeah, I think I get something like 5 posts in several hours (or maybe it's 5 posts in an hour with several hours of cooldown time?). I suspect it's because I have too many "controversial" posts, which is to say that center-left is a bit too far to the right for some on HN.


Have you had a child recently?

My wife was a finance director and made good coin. Given the cost of daycare and the difficulty of getting late childcare (we both have jobs where the day ends when it ends sometimes, daycare assumes your day ends at 4 everyday), it was a no brainer for her to stop working.

When she returns to the workforce, she’ll be on the bottom as an analyst or some other gig.

For people with less resources, it’s far worse.


Why can't a finance director afford a nanny? Why can't the finance director's spouse quit their low paying job? Either the job pays more than childcare (about $15/hr), or it's not a high paying job to give up.


In more developed countries that would be illegal. You are guaranteed to be able to return to the same position and pay.

Also daycare would be subventionized.


> In more developed countries that would be illegal. You are guaranteed to be able to return to the same position and pay.

Even if you quit entirely, beyond straightforward maternity/paternity leave? I don't think I'd be in favor of that type of regulation. In my opinion, if you make the decision to quit (for whatever reason), you can come back to get whatever job your skills let you get. I also think "developed" isn't the adjective you're looking for, maybe "tightly-regulated".


No, it's still maternity leave, but in some countries up to 3 years as far as I know. After that there are state-provided kindergartens.


> Even if you quit entirely, beyond straightforward maternity/paternity leave?

Of course not. The point is that there shouldn't be any economical or work-related downside (other than slightly less pay during maternity/paternity leave) for having a child.

(Obviously raising a child costs money but I hope you get the idea)

Developed is quite apt for any society that values its members.


I wasn’t clear — this was 5 years ago, and she resigned. Her employer provided 6-8 months of leave, mostly paid.


There are many sources. Off the top of my head, you can look for books, articles etc about the feminization of poverty, pink collar ghetto and the second shift. I have read far too many books (articles etc) over the course of decades to remember them all.

And I would hope that people would provide caregiving to their own children for free.

So would I. But why is it only women are expected to provide such care and are classified as gold digging whores if they think the father should provide for them while they do so and also provide some compensation into the future for the lost career building opportunities it costs them? Parents should both be responsible for the product of having gotten jiggy together, not just mothers.


In the USA, alimony and child support serve this purpose. Other developed countries are similar, or have strong non-gendered social security.

In USA, while women are in poverty more than men, likely for the reasons you highlight, women receive more social services than men, for those same reasons. Homelessness disproportionately impacts men (by far), because woman and children have more access to social services.


According to https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/adult-poverty-rate..., poverty rates between men and women are comparable; only 3% difference. Also, besides poverty, I would expect a comparable expectation on men to make up the deficit by working harder. I'm guessing the disparity is really driven by a significant disparity between single mothers and single fathers.


Europe has a better track record here. European women historically advocated for getting help with the burden of bearing and raising kids. American women seem to have modeled feminist positions on the historic American attitude of don't tread on me. Those social services mitigate some of the harm, but don't empower women to reclaim their lives effectively.

Also, the American track record for alimony and child support is not great of late.


I think it's probably has something to do with the fact that females have all the biological equipment necessary for child-rearing and males have all the biological equipment necessary to hit it and quit it. Furthermore, only the female can be absolutely certain (without some investigation) that her child is actually her child. The male usually has to accept some deception risk.

The instinct for pair-bonding--and, in humans, the cultural institution of marriage--evolved as behavioral adaptations to the unfairnesses inherent in having two sexes.

It would appear that equal outcomes demand equal commitment. As the biological commitment is a few kcal and a few minutes for one, versus years of time and many more kcal for the other, that leaves an awful lot of effort to make those scales balance.

Simple analysis suggests that females should cartelize and police each other's behavior with respect to males, embargoing reproduction from any male deemed too selfish in regard to child-rearing responsibilities. But cartels are tough to keep together, and males can counter with misogynistic and patriarchal strategies of their own.

The biological discrepancy will therefore likely never be resolved to anything even close to fairness.

It's never going to be free, either. There is always an opportunity cost. Providing resources to an existing child precludes using them yourself or applying them to a theoretical future child.


> But why is it only women are expected to provide such care and are classified as gold digging whores if they think the father should provide for them while they do so and also provide some compensation into the future for the lost career building opportunities it costs them?

I'm inclined to believe this opinion runs diametrically opposite to the general consensus in Australia, insofar as legislation can be considered the general consensus.

I'll admit some men, and some women, may lean in the general direction of the opinion you've state, but I feel "gold digging whores" is overly strong.

But their opinions hardly matter as we have strong child support legislation, with a strong Child Support Agency to enforce the laws to direct an appropriate amount of money to the resident-parent to aid in funding the child. We also have a fairly well run welfare system.


I feel "gold digging whores" is overly strong.

In the US, full time moms tend to get viewed and treated like leeches, regardless of their socioeconomic class. I was a homemaker a long time. I have six years of college. I was a military wife and homeschooling mom. But America is pretty sucktastic about treating full-time wives like pariahs and non contributors.

If your land is more civilized than mine, I am very glad to hear it.

Edit: And I am not questioning it. I met an Australian friend for lunch/dinner with a group of friends in San Francisco years ago. He talked very differently about his full-time homemaker wife than is the cultural norm here.


> But why is it only women are expected to provide such care and are classified as gold digging whores if they think the father should provide for them while they do so and also provide some compensation into the future for the lost career building opportunities it costs them? Parents should both be responsible for the product of having gotten jiggy together, not just mothers.

How does that contribute to women being in poverty at a higher rate than men? If the parents are married, they share finances so they are either both in poverty, or neither are in poverty. If they are divorced, the primary caregiver will be compensated for their time through child support payments.

And I don't think stay at home mothers are generally classified as "gold digging whores", maybe my experience is different from yours though.


Most poor people in the US are women and their children. Most of those women were solidly middle class until one of three things happened:

1) She got unexpectedly pregnant.

2) She got divorced.

3) Her spouse died.

Due to the fact that women live longer and men are, on average, about 4 years older than their wives, 90 percent if the time, when someone is burying their spouse it is a woman burying her husband. (for hetero couples, a stat that will change with same sex marriage)

I did the homemaker thing. I have 6 years of college. My post divorce life has been far less lush than that of my ex.


>Most poor people in the US are women and their children.

What a strange statement. This would be true if, for example, poor people were 33% men, 33% women, and 33% children.

It would also be true that "most poor people in the US are men and their children."

Did you mean to say something specific about single mothers and the children who live with them? Or was the phrasing an attempt to import that image while saying something much less meaningful?

Here's something that is specific and true: The vast majority of homeless in America are men. There are many, many centers set up to help women and children in poverty exclusively, while resources just for men are rare-to-nonexistent.

Extreme poverty is massively gendered against men, and the resources to address it are massively gendered towards helping women.


I posted this above to another comment:

My mother cheated on my father and he left her because of that.

He was required (by Texas law) to pay child-support to my mother up until we were 18 (I am 29) to my mother who cheated on him; he still owes back pay on that and refuses to pay until they put a warrant out for his arrest.

My mother demonized him to us by crying about not knowing why he left her; she never once mentioned until 5 months ago that she cheated on him.

Dad regrets leaving us (his kids, not my mother) because it put a rift between us. We never knew the truth until recently when my mom let it slip in a conversation.

At this point I feel like he has been punished enough by the state of Texas for leaving my cheating mother.

Recently my eldest brother had a girl and my father has been in her life as much as he can and I'm incredibly happy for that (not jealous one bit) because at least my niece will have something my brother and I never had because he was soured by her behavior.

We grew up poor because of my mother's infidelity...


>She got unexpectedly pregnant

This may show my bias growing up in a traditionally christian environment, but for years the rub on the right has been to disregard two of those realities and handwave the other as: she got unexpectedly pregnant, because she lacks personal responsibility, and is therefore not entitled to the support of the state or society. When the Haves "get unexpectedly pregnant," it's an accident or a surprise, when the Have Nots do, it's a sin. Even some of the responses here dogwhistle the sentiment that the people in this position kind of deserve it, which disgusts me.

And to the other reply to your comment: Good thing this isn't a sympathy contest, and that humans do not have a finite capacity to care for their fellow humans, so we can feel bad for the dead people and still work for the benefit of the people left behind. "These are nice points, but wave of hand I'm not going to listen to them, honey." Of course they needed a throwaway account to say it here, too bad that attitude prevails in so many of our interactions every day.


At the individual level, I've always thought discussing person responsibility for getting pregnant or attempting to cast blame for doing so is pointless. The kids are there whether we like it or not so what are we going to do now, as a society?

At the societal level, attempting to hold people to a lofty standard of moral purity doesn't seem to be particularly effective considering even clergy have trouble remaining celibate.


> At the individual level, I've always thought discussing person responsibility for getting pregnant or attempting to cast blame for doing so is pointless.

The hope is that it prevents future unexpected pregnancies by making people pause and think before they act "Hmm, maybe if I do this unprotected thing I want to do that it will financially screw over the girl I want to do it with. Maybe I shouldn't do that thing without protection."


> At the individual level, I've always thought discussing person responsibility for getting pregnant or attempting to cast blame for doing so is pointless. The kids are there whether we like it or not so what are we going to do now, as a society?

Personal responsibility is about incentivizing good choices, so society has to pick up the tab for fewer children born into poverty. Unfortunately, this probably doesn't work out in practice since people (particularly teenagers) are going to have unprotected sex regardless of consequences. So there is a point even if the point is broken.


I absolutely agree. To be clear, I'm not endorsing the attitudes I described - they abhor me.


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He's dead, what does he care? We can't change that so might as well focus our attention on the survivors.


We can change that. Invest in men's health--research diseases that disproportionately kill men and incentivize safer employment options for men. If some group is dying disproportionately, we probably shouldn't say "Oh well, nothing we can do anything about that, let's focus on the group that is surviving".


I'm talking about feeling sympathy for the dead more than the living.


Right, but the OP seemed to be asking whether men or women were the primary victims of high male mortality rates. Responding with "the men are dead and we can't do anything about it" seems cruelly fatalist. Like I mentioned, we actually could do something about it and help both groups (regardless of which group is the primary victim), but I think there's a sizable contingent who want to paint women as the primary victims of male mortality while at the same time arguing that we can't divert any public money/awareness from more important causes to address male mortality.


> Most poor people in the US are women and their children.

There are 44 million people in poverty in the US. There are 10 million single mothers in the US, with 17 million children. Since the majority of single mothers are not in poverty, your statement is false.

https://singlemotherguide.com/single-mother-statistics/


It is, at worst, inadequately pedantic. Most poor adults in the US are female. Women and children make up the majority.

My phrasing is fine if someone is engaging in good faith and trying to actually understand my points rather than looking for some trivial means to justify dismissing them.


I assumed you were talking about single mothers and their children. I think that is a fair assumption since it is not very surprising that the majority of people in poverty are women and children - they do make up the majority of the US population, after all. You could similarly say that most poor people in the US are men and their children.


You could say that, but women usually get custody. So it isn't really an accurate framing of social reality.

You really seem to be reaching here. So I will likely not reply further.


You've supported your thesis (that society treats women unfairly) with "we let men die younger" and "we let women disproportionately win custody battles". I think your posts have been confusing--I don't think we need to assume bad faith.

EDIT: Others have independently expressed similar confusion as well.

EDIT2: I'm being throttled, but in response to Doreen:

Here's where you say women live longer (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16055356). I don't see how that can mean anything other than "men die younger". Again, no need to resort to "bad faith" when "miscommunication" suffices. Here's the full text for convenience/posterity:

> Most poor people in the US are women and their children. Most of those women were solidly middle class until one of three things happened: 1) She got unexpectedly pregnant. 2) She got divorced. 3) Her spouse died. Due to the fact that women live longer and men are, on average, about 4 years older than their wives, 90 percent if the time, when someone is burying their spouse it is a woman burying her husband. (for hetero couples, a stat that will change with same sex marriage)


"we let men die younger"

Nowhere did I say that. That framing sounds incredibly bad faith.


This is true, to some extent, and false to some extent as well. There are plenty of fathers who split primary care giving. Also, once children reach school age, primary care giving responsibilities decrease and can be split between parents more easily.


The stats I have seen suggest that full time moms do 60 hours of women's work per week. Working moms still do 40. To make up for the loss of 20 hours of women's work, men began doing an extra 10 minutes per day, or 1 hour and 10 minutes per week.

Those stats are not current. Given the reactions I got from working women at a Fortune 500 company over the detail that my sons took over the cooking and cleaning, I have zero reason to believe we are anywhere near achieving parity.


Where are you getting these numbers?


Lots and lots and lots of reading over the years.


"Lots and lots of reading", yes that scholarly peer reviewed journal. I know it well.


The 60 hours of work a week for homemakers comes from a book called "More work for mother." It is a figure that has been stable for 300 years. I don't recall where specifically I got some of the other figures. I was trying to sort my life out, not prepare for debate on an internet forum I had not yet heard of and which did not exist when I was doing a lot of this reading in my 20s.


I don't think the statistics you posted about men working an extra 10 mins a day is accurate. It actually sounds quite absurd.


You've posted plenty of comments that break the HN guidelines. If you keep doing this will ban you. Especially, please cut the ideological flamebait and—as in this case—nasty snark.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


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That sounds like personal baggage talking. It sounds really venomous.

I successfully swapped gender roles with my sons. I got a corporate job and offered them the chance to take over the women's work rather than get jobs themselves. They did not half ass it, though they also did not handle it the same way I would. If it weren't for feeling attacked in an ugly and gratuitous way, there would be good common ground to be found there.

If you are interested, the book "More work for mother" details 300 years of history of household tech. It partly agrees with you that maybe women should learn to lighten up a hair. But it also asserts the pressure for women to work so hard comes from real gains in things like child survival rates.

I like the book in part because it is a rare example of not hating on either gender and not promoting the war between the sexes.

I don't plan to engage you further because this just sounds like someone venting their spleen on a random internet stranger and I am not interested in engaging with that.


I just really can't stand it when people measure the value of work by hours. It's a pet peeve. Sorry.

I'm also somewhat irritated when people call it "women's work", as it puts the whole conversation on a sexist basis from the start, even though that is a factually and historically accurate way to describe it.


As respectfully as possible: it sounds like you and your wife have not really sorted this. Which isn't some harsh criticism. The world today is largely dumping a lot on hetero couples and leaving it up to them to figure out what works when time honored tradition no longer does.

If you can find a copy of the book "Chore Wars," maybe that would be useful.

I don't disagree with you that domestic chores need to be streamlined as part of the solution. But the subtext of your long comment is just a whole lot of anger at "women," which probably means at the state of things between you and your wife, and kicking an internet stranger is less harmful to your life than just taking it out on your wife.

But I ain't crazy about being kicked, no matter how much I can understand the dynamic likely driving it.


I never said "wife", but I did say you were free to assume. You can comb through my whole history of comments here on HN; I have never (to my recollection) said what I am or what I am married to. And that has been almost entirely to avoid ad hominem in discussions such as this.

As a matter of fact, my spouse acts a lot like my father and I act much like my mother. He also makes every little task a needlessly complicated affair, but he largely does it to get attention and recognition, as an insufferable extrovert. And then he doesn't get it, because my mother and all their children only look at the actual results. Somehow, they're still married, even after so many decades of putting up with the other one's crap.

And my spouse and I are sorted. As I mentioned, the only way to not do any of the work yourself--including the mental/emotional effort--is to let someone else do it their own way. So if my spouse does a job in a way that I find grandiose and inefficient, that's fine. If I do a job in a way my spouse considers to be half-assed and slipshod, that's also fine. There is an equitable division of labor insofar as we can both agree on what actually needs doing.

Either of us is, of course, free to do other things that the other person does not care about, but that work will not be paid as well with the intra-family currency based on gratitude and respect. The greatest sticking point is that my spouse wants to be paid (in that currency) by the hour and I want to be paid by the job. And that mirrors in miniature all the people out there that believe in the labor theory of value, versus all those that do not.

I don't care how hard you work at something, or how long it took for you to do it. I only care what you got done. And if you did something that no one else wanted, your effort doesn't count for as much as if you had done something that everyone needed. So when I hear you say that women do N hours more work inside the household than men, I feel I must rebut:

Time is not how everyone measures the value of labor.

That, of course, raises the question of how the value of labor should be measured. The tick marks on your household yardstick might be equally useless or worse, like SLoC or story points. Anecdotally, I have found it's usually better to not have an accounting based relationship, and to avoid keeping score on everything. If you feel emotionally as though you're working too hard, and your partner not hard enough, maybe talk about it to move expectations closer to reality. But telling your other that you are working 18 more hours per week on your relationship than they are is not likely to produce the result you are hoping for.


I never said "wife", but I did say you were free to assume.

You are correct. My error.

But I see zero justification for you starting with a venomous comment and coming back now with a high handed comment that places all the blame here on other people, their prejudices and their propensity for ad hominems.

For the record: There was zero intent to attack you. I was doing my best to be understanding in the face of a really ugly remark. Sometimes when I do that, it goes very well. Sometimes, like now, it does not.

And I will make a mental note of this incident and try to keep it in mind should I run into you again on the forum. This has been an entirely unpleasant experience for me.


It isn't your fault.

I'm not a pleasant person. I don't care to explain why right now, but it isn't right for me to spread my damage to others without their consent. So I'm sorry for doing that.


It sounds like you and your spouse really resent each-other and don’t get along very well, with each one constantly unsatisfied by the other’s methods and bitter about the differences, and neither of you making much effort to understand or empathize with the other person’s experience and priorities.

I recommend against projecting that on other families you don’t know. And maybe talk to a therapist?


You should be made aware that we are both Midwesterners. If you are not familiar with the regional culture, markers that normally indicate animosity are sometimes used insincerely as a sign of affection. Whereas elsewhere, if you hear someone shout "Hey asshole!" you might assume that person is angry with the other, in the Midwest it could mean that, and it could also mean the two are very good friends and one is enthusiastically greeting the other.

There is also some hyperbole involved. My spouse may take only 15 actual minutes to clean a toilet, and use one off the shelf product, specifically marketed for cleaning toilets. So in comparison to the way I do it, that is using 12 different chemicals and taking all f'in' day. When my spouse describes how I do it, it would probably be more on the order of "takes 15 seconds to rub the seat down with a moist towelette". It is a caricature, rather than a photograph.

Actually, now that I'm describing it, that does seem very strange to use insincerity so much. But as I was growing up, when sarcasm was everywhere, it made a lot more sense.


I think the concern is that mothers rather than fathers are expected to provide care giving.


Fathers are also expected to provide full financial support, both culturally and legally.


Assuming the father 1)is known 2) is able 3) is willing. Re #3, Paternity must be established and that burden falls on the mother. Where the assumed father does not voluntarily submit to a paternity test, the mother has to file suit to compel him. That's not something that's going to be easy for someone already in poverty.

When the Welfare People Come is great read on the the way the welfare system is stacked against those who need to use it that delves into this and OP's points in greater detail.


Another factor is the large number of men put in prison for long periods of time, and even when they get out their record destroys their ability to earn money to support their families.

> 1) is known

If the woman doesn't know who the father is, who's choice was that?

> 2) is able

yes

> 3) is willing

The courts routinely assess child support on both willing and unwilling fathers. It's not an option for fathers.


#1) Don't moralize the situation. The woman may have been raped, her partner may have lied to her. She may just have wanted to get off and the condom broke. She may be a prostitute, willingly or unwillingly.. Doesn't matter. The only reason any of these are an issue is the unremunerated responsibility of the woman to raise the child.

#2) Yes, your prison comment overwhelmingly impacts the poor, particularly minorities.

#3) The burden is on the woman, if the woman is poor she may not have the resources to force the father to pay.


My mother cheated on my father and he left her because of that.

He was required (by Texas law) to pay child-support to my mother up until we were 18 (I am 29) to my mother who cheated on him; he still owes back pay on that and refuses to pay until they put a warrant out for his arrest.

My mother demonized him to us by crying about not knowing why he left her; she never once mentioned until 5 months ago that she cheated on him.

Dad regrets leaving us (his kids, not my mother) because it put a rift between us. We never knew the truth until recently when my mom let it slip in a conversation.

At this point I feel like he has been punished enough by the state of Texas for leaving my cheating mother.

Recently my eldest brother had a girl and my father has been in her life as much as he can and I'm incredibly happy for that (not jealous one bit) because at least my niece will have something my brother and I never had because he was soured by her behavior.

We grew up poor because of my mother's infidelity...


[flagged]


Please don't go after someone about the details of their family story. There's enough heartache already.


I will respect this moderation decision, but I think, in context, it seems to indicate an approach that is ultimately detrimental to the quality of discussion on HN.

If someone is using a personal story with blaming statements as a means to make commentary about a more general topic of discussion, either the appropriateness of the blaming statements given the narrative must be just as subject to challenge as it would be if the narrative were a third-party news story and the whole style of argument of using such stories in a discussion needs to be viewed as out of bounds, otherwise you've created a specially privileged argument style for which only silence or agreement is allowed.


I largely agree, except it's easy to turn the topic back to the argument at hand. You just make statements about that, rather than about specific individuals, even though the other commenter did the latter. By commenting explicitly about the general and only implicitly about the personal, you convey respect and leave space for the other. It's different when the personal details are from your own life—relevant personal experience is fine.

We need this for discussion quality because challenging someone on their intimate personal details typically makes them feel wounded where it already hurt, prompting a defensive attack and a flamewar. Also, because we can't know from internet comments what was really going on in someone's life, it's more intellectually honest.

There are other things one can do to signal that someone is not being attacked. You can rephrase a statement as a neutral question. You can lead with "In my experience," making the statement about yourself. You can say "Of course I can't judge what was going on in your situation, but" and return to a general case.

I agree with you that when someone makes blaming personal statements as if they had general force in an argument, most of us immediately sense that something's off. But such statements come from pain and pain never responds to argument, only acknowledgement.

You're a fine HN commenter and I think you know all this already, but maybe the above will help clarify something for others.


It's just bad writing. There's a way to make the point you're trying to make without directly confronting someone about their childhood and their parents. "Well actually" is a super useful, easy way to make points on a message board, but there are things we should be extra carefully not to well-actually.


I've been thinking about trying to start a new site with fewer helicopter parents.

Would you be interested in essentially a mirror of HN's front page, but where you're free to say most things?

The mod criteria would be "If you get personal, or you're destructive to conversation, you're out." But conversely, uncomfortable ideas will be allowed.

I'm thinking we could also set up a Slack community for the site. If people have problems with the moderation, they can come chat about it openly.

The moderation here has been getting a bit stuffy, and maybe other people feel the same way. I don't know. If you're interested, shoot me an email and we can start hammering out a plan.

Unfortunately, I have no way of contacting you other than to post this here.


So because my mother cheated on him it's his fault for leaving...get a grip.

If my father had cheated on my mother I'm assuming it would still be his fault if she left him; that seems to be the gist of what you're getting at.

Once a cheater, always a cheater. We grew up poor because my mother cheated, not because of my father leaving.

And we grew up poor because my mother relied entirely upon my father for financial support and negated that benefit by cheating.


> So because my mother cheated on him it's his fault for leaving

No, independently of your mother cheating on him, it's his fault for refusing to uphold his legal obligation to materially support his children.

Leaving the spouse is not the issue. (Leaving the children may be an issue, but to the extent it is it is at a minimum mitigated by fulfilling the legal support obligations a parent who is not raising their children has to those children.)

> If my father had cheated on my mother I'm assuming it would still be his fault if she left him

Whoever's fault leaving is, it would be his fault if he chose to refuse to meet his legal obligation to support his children.

> We grew up poor because my mother cheated, not because of my father leaving.

From your own description, the poverty was at least in large part because your father refused to pay legally-required child support after leaving you and your mother. Assuming that there was not a custody contest that you omitted in which your mother was awarded full custody, leaving children is not necessary with leaving their mother, however justified the latter is, and in any case, neither requires being a deadbeat on child support.


It kind of is a moral situation isn't it? Excluding rape, all the others are in the sphere of womens control.

Accidents are only accidental in intent, not in results.


If the woman doesn't know who the father is, who's choice was that?

In some cases, the man who raped her.


I think he was referring to terminating the pregnancy or putting the kid up for adoption.


Terminating the pregnancy is another choice that's not practically available to many poor women in the united states.


It is also incredibly shitty to suggest that if a woman is raped she can just get an abortion, problem solved. It is surgery, this another insult to the body, and some women feel strongly that abortion is murder. So the choice becomes "Do I try to spend the rest of my life loving this demon spawn that will be a living, breathing reminder of my rape every day, or do I swallow my morals and commit what I view as baby murder?" Acting like it is no big if a woman is raped and left with such a conundrum sounds just mind-bogglingly callous.


>we provide caregiving to our own children and other relatives essentially for free and that society owes us nothing for this imposition on our time and energy

At least historically, what society gave in return was keeping women (for the most part) out of harms way when it came to wars.


Historically wars frequently involved one side razing the others city and murdering and enslaving all of their non-combatants. Not exactly out of harms way.


The death rate for men in wars is far, far, far higher than for women.


How so? The last century saw the civilian death rate in war increase fast, such that something like 90% of war deaths a civilians. The overall stats are not skewed much by the overwhelmingly male make up of most armies. Or are you arguing that male civilians die in wars a lot more than female ones?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_casualty_ratio


The 90% figure is disputed, and includes refugees. A more reasonable figure in the article is:

"On the average, half of the deaths caused by war happened to civilians, only some of whom were killed by famine associated with war...The civilian percentage share of war-related deaths remained at about 50% from century to century."

That implies roughly 3/4 of the deaths are men.


I agree that 90% seems to be the upper end, but 50% is the extreme low end and is a dated figure and the other sources seem to show this. Notably that quote you cite was written in the early 80s, and according to most those sources, wars are getting more deadly for civilians and less deadly for combatants (drones and other remote killing methods?).

UNICEF et al cover this at length. https://www.unicef.org/graca/patterns.htm

https://www.iraqbodycount.org

Edit: Intersting discussion here, suggesting much of the difference comes down to how you measure and when you stop measuring. The longer you measure, the worse it is for civilians and in particular, women. https://files.prio.org/Publication_files/Prio/Armed%20Confli....


True. But the reason for this is because if you lose 90 percent of your men to war, you can enact polygyny and rapidly repopulate. But no matter how many men a woman sleeps with, it takes 9 months to complete a pregnancy. Whereas a man can father children on multiple women at the same time.

Not does that alone justify keeping them in poverty.


True -- except maybe for the "at the same time" part; with a few minutes break in between I'll agree :) But yes, I agree also that it doesn't justify poverty. I think partly due to the inherent assymetries (like the biological one you mention), historically we have had a mix of advantages and disadvantages for the two genders. As the situation changes, maybe the "deal" becomes more favorable for one, less for the other. (e.g. Women are expected to work now, also to take care of children, whereas a chivalrous behavior towards them is worth much less in 21th century).

The mainstream opinion today seems to be that the current "mix" is less favorable to women (I happen to disagree with this), but I think it is a good basis for a civil discussion, more so than the insistence on equality at all levels which seems unattainable to me. (EDIT: last few words added)


Poverty is gendered, but it is not female gender. If you walk any major US city in the evening, you can clearly see what gender it actually is.


Homelessness is not the only form of poverty. I would argue that long-term homelessness is only a small slice of the pie.

Furthermore, women are probably more likely to get an offer (and accept an offer) for welfare assistance than men. Parents with children are probably far more likely to receive assistance than individuals.


>more likely for welfare assistance than men

I don't see how it cancels my argument other than highlighting even bigger wealth distribution imbalance in favor of women.


Just so we can start with a more precise base statement:

2 minutes of googling seems to show that adult women’s poverty rate is around 20-30% higher than men’s.


The biggest predictor of poverty for women is marital status. Families headed by a single female have a poverty rate over five times higher than married couple families.

http://federalsafetynet.com/us-poverty-statistics.html


And, according to that data, twice that of single dads, which seems like a more apt comparison.


Not that simple though,

Courts favour giving custody to Women. The men who do get custody generally have to have more of their affairs in order (job, housing, stability). So its not surprise when a man gets custody he is in a better financial position.


Exactly. My mother cheated on my father; she got custody of us and had to be both mother and father while also growing up in poverty.

She also demonized him to us as if it was his fault for leaving her.

Her cheating also made a head while she was both dating my current step-dad and another man who could also have ended up as my step-dad.

Needless to say, I have a hard time with relationships because my mother's have been extremely out of the norm.


Needless to say, I have a hard time with relationships because my mother's have been extremely out of the norm.

I am very sorry for what you suffered.

For some years, I read as much scholarly info as I could on infidelity.

In a nutshell: Infidelity doesn't destroy a relationship. Instead, it grows out of serious problems within the relationship.

I hope you find a means to heal.


> In a nutshell: Infidelity doesn't destroy a relationship. Instead, it grows out of serious problems within the relationship.

Sometimes the "serious problems" are simply that one partner is a cheater. An ex of mine (who cheated on me) went on to cheat in their next relationship, and the one after that, and based on mutual friends' comments, a few more since. Some people just aren't wired for monogamy.


> In a nutshell: Infidelity doesn't destroy a relationship. Instead, it grows out of serious problems within the relationship.

Yup, she was co-dependent on him and he was a workaholic mechanic.

There is more to the story than I have said:

My father had a serious cocaine addiction (he is clean now); that combined with his workaholic nature (at the time) caused him to not be around my mother as much as he should have.

She wished he would be around more with her and the cheating on him seems to be the side-effect of that issue.

Those were the starting points of the relationship problems and they only worsened from there.

My mother's mother ragged on her a lot about every mistake (big or small) she happened to make. I believe this caused her to have a hard time trusting her decisions and lowered her self-esteem.

The codependency with my father and his lack of being around due to working (to help provide for us) was definitely a factor in her cheating on him; it seems to be a common problem of those whose significant other isn't around as much as they should (or would like them) to be.

Thanks for the thoughts on healing, it's definitely a struggle.


Let me very gently suggest that trying to decide which one to blame is not a constructive path forward.


Agreed, I've long since stopped blaming either of them.

It sucks that they did divorce however my brothers and I turned out just fine by her raising us.

I see a psychiatrist and have talked plenty with her about my childhood and growing up.

From my posts it may come off that my mother is a terrible person and that's so far from the truth. I love my mother and would do anything for her.

She had to play the role of mother and father (something any parent would struggle with). Sacrifices she made to raise us still amaze me to this day.

Mom involved us in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts to be around male mentors (and it helped a lot). We had the support of Big Brother & Big Sisters for one-on-one interaction with male figures.

We never went without under the care of my mother, however we were in poverty and she constantly was trying to make ends meet every month. While we weren't homeless like in your situation, it was still very much a struggle.

I learned very early on the difference between wants and needs.


I really got a lot out of what Patrick Stewart said in this video about his own parents:

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2013/05/31/187551135...


Thank you for sharing that powerful video with me. Makes my liking of Patrick Stewart (the only true Commander of the Enterprise) even stronger.

He's such a kind, caring and eloquent man despite his upbringing.

I'm watching https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xi_27bpIb30 now to learn more about his life.


Infidelity is not excusable. You either need to decide if you are in or you are out. If you're out, then be honest and cut the cord.


These are fair comments, however I think it's reasonable to say that we need more automation in the home and personal care. Health Care, IMHO, should be solved by AI and Big Data.

I'm a free market person and I believe if the government tried to legislate this, it would screw it up. Rather it should try to open the way for the private industry to create AI based health care solutions.

I'd also like to see character based communities with minimal basic income. Ie, your economic output is not relevant, but rather your character. How kind you are to others, how passionate you are about your talents, how independent you are about looking after yourself. I think this is the real solution to poverty in a world of increased automation.

I know some people want UBI without strings attached, but my feeling is that without some kind of purpose (even a non economic one) mental health issues will increase.


I have a little exposure to this space (healthcare), and I'm nowhere as optimistic as you that AI or big data will cure what ails us, especially on the small scale (each patient).

Datamining is likely to help detect and clarify negative patterns in large groups (like when stents don't actually reduce angina). But doing the same to find positive patterns to shape policy seems to be much harder due to the wild variation inherent in individual patient response to each therapy.

Existing therapy is refined via specific experiments which are not amenable to aggregation into large groups that can be 'mined' using AI or DM, thereby adding further value. It's not clear to me what AI can add to existing stat/prob methods here.

Inversely, when trying to characterize patients using their raw data, I've found individual patient data to be so horribly noisy and so often mislabeled as to be useless for more than trivial purposes of individual trend summary. This becomes especially woeful when aggregating digital health records, and is likely to remain so for decades to come (given their current glacial rate of improvement).

When it comes to the prospect of mining medical data to improve treatment, I can only say, "GIGO".


>if the government tried to legislate this, it would screw it up

Agreed.

>Rather, [the government] should try to open the way for the private industry ...

Disagree, at least in part.

One source of personal frustration is the perception that rich techies who made their fortunes by writing programs without explicit government approval/legislation seem to spend a lot of time begging for government solutions (like UBI) or approvals for these problems without first attempting to use their money, brains, and tech with a little creativity to generate extra-governmental solutions.


I have my own concerns, but not because of gender. Still what I want to comment on is the gendered poverty argument you made.

I have been saying something similar for a long time! The wage gap, in my opinion, is a result of choices made by women in a society that expects them to be primary caregivers.

I think that people should be paid to be caregivers for their own families. In fact, many new programs do exactly this. Still it is not reliably spread throughout the US federation.

However, my concern is that subsidizing child care actually leads to overpopulation. I am worried about the Malthusian trap.

http://magarshak.com/blog/?p=286


If you take one of the article ideas in isolation, i.e. using AI to match impoverished people with good, unfilled middle class jobs... do you object to this idea by itself, or just to the idea it would be a cure-all, oblivious to other social factors?


Eh. It would definitely help to have better tech that could point people in the right direction in their job searches.

But I agree with you that when the real problem is a rising fundamental scarcity, a better breadcrumb detector is not the ultimate solution.


Yeah I kinda saw it coming with just the headline. The only thing needed, and missing, to wage "war" on poverty (inappropriate metaphor for 53 years but I'll go along with it) is the will. Not more data.


The title of this post should really include "OpEd" or "Opinion" to make it clear that this isn't journalism, but punditry.


The most tragic aspect to the responses here is the strangely monochromatic assertion that only homeless people count as poor.

Utterly bizarre.


People tend to focus on their biggest fears. It is an overwhelmingly male forum. It's not really rational, but pointing to statistics about homelessness and gender as a way to dismiss other points about the feminization of poverty is really common. It probably comes from a place of fear and suggests to me that men are saying "It isn't like my life is just peachy. And if I can't hack it, then fuck me. Society won't do shit all for me."

And that's not a crazy thing to be wrapped around the axle about, though it doesn't generally make for good debate.


It is both frustrating and enlighening to see that almost all replies to your comments and comment chains therein are grappling with your note that poor women may possibly have it harder than men. HN is not a good place to discuss issues relating to marginalized people; as a whole this is the least marginalized forum I could think of.


That's most likely due to the fact that this article/topic was non-gendered, or gender-neutral. And that the poster decided to inject it into the conversation. It may be a pertinent matter to discuss, or not, but it acted as a focal point in that comment.

To be fair, I stopped reading that post at that point and moved on to the discussion chains. Only afterwards did I come back to it.


I actually think the discussion is going really well overall.


I agree with you because it is civil and good points are being made. As a general point though notice that assertions about women are met with requests for sources, but assertions about men are assumed true.


I hadn't really noticed, so I will just assume you are correct. But:

It is an overwhelmingly male forum. So not surprising that men generally are more aware of male reality than of female reality.

There have also been rebuttals of the worst and most inaccurate pro male comments.

Most people here seem to genuinely be interested in understanding and not merely looking to shoot me down.

It used to be a great deal more onesided and challenging, to the point where you couldn't say anything about the reality of women's lives without it being a flamewar or beatdown.


Thanks for the time your are putting in here.


Had a very similar reaction to this.


Friendly heads up: HN norms are that you simply upvote, instead of replying with a comment that basically boils down to "I agree" and no other info.


[flagged]


This comment breaks the site guidelines. Please read https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and post civilly and substantively, or not at all.


Poverty rates for women are 30% higher than men, and in the Key child bearing years its 50% higher.


And social services / welfare are correspondingly higher for women.


I don't see why you're getting down-voted. As the Nth level parent comment mentioned (n = too lazy to count, social services often form a positive feedback loop that traps their recipients at that level so it would follow that if you give women and children more social services you'll trap more of them at that level.


Depends on how you define "social services." Services directed at veterans, job retraining for manufacturing workers, support for small businesses, etc., overwhelmingly benefits men.


You lose your bet


[flagged]


vast majority of poor people are not homeless, the world is complicated


What this article describes is a terrible, confused, scary nightmare.

From the very first picture that begins the article on-down, Elizabeth Mason advocates an absolutely frightening system that is made even more scary by how she comes through as genuinely/naively believing in it all.

> Big data promises something closer to an unbiased, ideology-free evaluation of the effectiveness of these social programs. We could come closer to the vision of a meritocratic, technocratic society that politicians from both parties at state and local levels — those closest to the practical problems their constituents face — have begun to embrace.

First, meritocracy was first brought up as a joke by the author who coined the term. Second, who is advocating for this “technocratic vision” short of Silicon Valley CEOs? This “vision” of centralized, unbiased analysis by top-notch planners was what we had in Vietnam or with GOSPLAN in the USSR, not what we need now.

Third, AI works fast, which means even if it’s 75% less “ideological” or whatever, it’s rate of speed is so fast that it will magnify any and all biases that might be lurking inside. To imagine that it is unbiased is crazy, let alone to think that it wouldn’t be used to some horrible malevolent end (cough China cough).

This article made me sick, but it was so uplifting and wonderful to see all the other negative reactions on here and that this is not representative of HN.


Unemployment is only at around 4% right now, extremely low. Want to take a huge bite out of poverty? raise the minimum wage and increase benefits so that folks don't need to work three jobs just to pay their rent. no AI robots needed. just garden variety wealth redistribution that's sorely needed.


raise the minimum wage and increase benefits so that folks don't need to work three jobs just to pay their rent.

No. Offer actual affordable housing. New housing has more than doubled in size since the 1950s, plus we have largely eliminated small, cheap housing alternatives, such as SROs* and boarding houses. There is no end to how much we can grow houses and inflate the cost associated with not being homeless. If we don't deal with housing, no amount of raising wages fixes this problem.

Though I agree that we need to provide universal health care.

* https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_room_occupancy


Lots of evidence that minimum-wage laws reduce employment opportunities for the young and the unskilled of any age. High MW legislates them out of jobs.


If people on minimum wage can not make ends meet any way then why have the job? It's being subsidised by the government already via food stamps and other welfare so why not cut out the middle man?

Additionally if the unemployment is 4% then raising it slightly isn't a problem. 0% unemployment is bad for an economy and the US has safely hovered between 4-6% which is needed to let businesses be able to hire when more workers are needed


Raising the minimum wage will simply result in jobs being replaced by kiosks.

Not that it won't happen soon anyway, but why hasten it.


Here, argue with the Economic Policy Institute regarding this very basic and widely recognized economic fact: http://www.epi.org/publication/minimum-wage-workers-poverty-...


The EPI piece actually doesn't address the other commenter's point in any way.


Why keep putting it off? Isn't this the whole point of technology? So that humans will no longer have to do these jobs? Lets just have it happen and deal with the consequences. Why keep kicking the can down the road?


Because it will be much easier to deal with an increase in joblessness/transition to different types of work if it doesn't happen all at once.


There will be a big hurdle of political correctness when the machine spits out answers that don't conform to establishment dogma -- e.g. https://techcrunch.com/2015/08/02/machine-learning-and-human...

Chris Stucchio writes about this in depth: https://www.chrisstucchio.com/blog/2016/alien_intelligences_...


Those issues aren't different, morally, than good old-fashioned racial profiling, or really any other discriminatory use of stereotypes.

If you're cheering for guilt by association to make a comeback just because the evil establishment thinks it's a bad idea, I'm at a loss of words. Any other fundamental freedoms you'd like to abolish because smart people happened to think they are good ideas? Presumption of innocence? Habeas corpus? The 5th amendment? Suffrage?


> If you're cheering for guilt by association to make a comeback just because the evil establishment thinks it's a bad idea, I'm at a loss of words.

I'm not cheering for anything. I'm pointing out that machines may have a distasteful view of the world and that this will be a stumbling block for using them effectively.

> Any other fundamental freedoms you'd like to abolish because smart people happened to think they are good ideas? Presumption of innocence? Habeas corpus? The 5th amendment? Suffrage?

I'd appreciate it if you could tone down the hysterical moral outrage, particularly when aimed in my direction.


My outrage isn't directed at your moral failings,which are unfortunately all too common, but at your intellectual failures.

You are misrepresenting the status quo when you're insinuating that some "establishment" conspiracy will be suppressing the usefulness of violating fundamental rights, such as assumption of innocence, in their quest to defend "political correctness".

This is obviously wrong. Such rights, and others like privacy or the right to a fair trial, only make sense under the assumption that their violation would in some ways benefit law enforcement. Otherwise there'd be no need to protect them.

While the argument that, for example, "torture doesn't work" is sometimes made, it is always secondary to "our civilisation is better than that, and it is strong enough to accept a (small) hit in effectiveness in the defence of fundamental rights".

So when you believe you've stumbled onto some greater truth, and that the world needs to hear some tough talk of realism, you've simply missed the essential message of enlightenment, and are reverting to 16th-century morals.


> My outrage isn't directed at your moral failings,which are unfortunately all too common, but at your intellectual failures.

Would you care to enumerate the moral failings of mine which you have identified? Or is this just an indiscriminate attack?

> You are misrepresenting the status quo when you're insinuating that some "establishment" conspiracy will be suppressing the usefulness of violating fundamental rights, such as assumption of innocence, in their quest to defend "political correctness".

I have made no such statements nor insinuations. There is no conspiracy. If this is the only such intellectual failure of mine which you have (mis)identified, then I suggest you recalibrate your moral outrage meter and try a less scattershot approach to fighting ideas and messengers which make you uncomfortable.

As to the rest of your statements, I think I agree with them mostly. We should not violate fundamental rights including the presumption of innocence particularly. I agree with prohibitions on torture on moral grounds and not simply consequential grounds.

I have not missed the essential message of the Enlightenment and in fact uphold such ideals as a core part of my identity. So in summary, I reiterate my concern that your outrage is indiscriminate and scattershot, and you have misunderstood my position and statements.


You can't use terms like "big hurdle of political correctness" and "establishment dogma" and then pretend you didn't start the "hysterical moral outrage"


Really? That just seems like a dispassionate accounting of facts. There are such things as political correctness and establishment dogma, and these things constrain large scale social programs. I don't see the hysteria or moral outrage as such.


The TechCrunch story seems like a misapplication of machine learning. Even when an individual is alleged to have committed a crime in the US, they enjoy the presumption of innocence.

Texting someone that the police are watching them based solely on their associations seems both intentionally creepy and un-Constitutional. I suppose this is the Chicago PD though. Given their operation of "Black Sites" in contravention of the Constitution they apparently don't care too much for the Rule of Law.

Your second link is quite fascinating though.


Unfortunately, social media has revived the witch hunt. People are presumed guilty till proven innocent, within the public domain.

So while this is less likely to become prevalent in criminal cases, this sets up a dual system. In the public sphere you can be affected in numerous deleterious ways because there is no presumption of innocence in the public sphere. Even if you're not on social media. You can be mistakenly doxxed and suffer the consequences.

We will need to come to terms with the implications of both these distinct phenomena which can result in injustice.


Just because it’s new to you, doesn’t mean that moral panics somehow didn’t exist before the internet. More importantly as with the case of sexual harassment and assault, the internet can offer a platform that doesn’t necessarily require panic to talk about basic morality.


Of course they existed. It's why we have the centuries-old term "witch hunt". The important thing is not that they are unheard of, but that they are back, after a rather long hiatus in the West.

And the worst thing about the witch hunts to my mind is not that they are happening; it is the increasing amount of the population that sees them as a good thing. As long as they are targeted at the right people, of course, but the standards used for "right people" are growing quickly, too.


A hiatus? Really?

‘80’s: The Satanic Panic

‘90’s: Crack and Rap

‘00’s: Video Games

‘10’s: OMGZ Teh Internet!


I lived through all of that. It was not continuous like it is now. It was intermittent. If the media had not been ginning them up for the temporal equivalent of "page views" they wouldn't have happened at all. Now "the people" can generate them on their own. (The media still runs along behind fanning the flames, but they're working to keep up rather than leading it now.) There has been a fundamental change in how they work now.


That’s essentially the same argument which was levied against the Gutenberg press, and the home telephone, the crossbow, and virtually all significant advances which served to empower more people at the expense of hierarchy.


I don't think jerf is saying that the increased prevalence of witch hunts is an argument levied against the internet. I'm pretty sure jerf is an enthusiastic supporter of the internet. Nonetheless, the increased prevalence of witch hunts which is enabled by the internet is lamentable and worth addressing.


I am no longer able to track what argument you think I am making, or that you are making.


I think there is a difference between unsubstantiated vilification of an amorphous or undefined group, (headbangers, techbros) and particular individuals (i.e. doxxing). I mean, sure you had an exception where Ozzy "ate a live bat" but it was more about "more at 11".


https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/08...

Just for one example of how individuals were indeed singled out. Same with each example given, I’d recommend studying the history of this aspect of human behavior to get a grip on its present. Sure, Harvey Weinstein and his ilk did alright, but plenty of individuals went through the wringer. That’s not even looking at the impact of the crack panic on the prison population and various communities.

You just didn’t have a live feed informing you of their plight.


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