The ramifications of that happening to my dad will probably last multiple generations. He went from a loving father to a loathsome troll of a creature working nights in a oil refinery (I thought at the time) finally. From that my mom and dad divorced. My wife doesn't understand why I have severe dentals problems now in life, or other health issues that doctors told me are from stress. She doesn't understand why I stress so much about money and stay up at night.
I don't know why I'm saying all this the solution is simple but the problem is hard to acknowledge. The poor and destitute simply need help. We live in a society though that thinks someone else is going to take care of the problems. When we do finally give help it's so conditional and shamed that the hole of guilt someone fell in is practically inescapable.
I think it's just the opposite problem. I simply don't know what to spend money on. I feel like I spend a lot of money, but somehow everyone is in deeper debt than I am. I just don't want to have all those expensive things. I grew up living out of a duffel bag and lost everything I owned in that multiple times in my life. I just don't want anything.
Buying furniture for the first time was the most stressful thing I ever went through. When I bought my first bed, I just laid on a bed in the shop and just stayed there having a mental breakdown. I walked out nearly in tears and slept on my floor for a full week before I finally called and ordered the bed. It was $700 and felt like I took a nose dive off a cliff.
The biggest effect is my appetite. No one understands why I'm so underweight. If you ever go a week without eating, believe me, your desire to eat food goes out the window. Those first bites of food makes you incredibly ill. I eat everyday now, but three meals is overkill.
The effect it had on me is quite wierd. On one hand, I always wish to earn more so as to not have to go through that phase again, while on the other hand, I never care about spending money. Even now that we have more money, I rarely spend on clothes, fancy food, gadgets or whatever that is not necessity. That phase of borderline poverty has made me frugal for life.
It isn't frugality for me, it's just that I can't stand clutter and really, what I consider. I think I missed whatever the definition of having things means.
OTOH, If I see nice clothes or shoes I definitely do consider getting them if I don't have something similar already, or different enough from existing clothes to give a different look. I won't say no to a road trip, or a weekend trip with my gf/friends. Or to eating at a fancy restaurant occasionally.
But cars are expansive, specially considering the average income, and having a Civic or a Corolla puts you in the top, with Audis being the "I'll never afford to have one of those".
Anyway, the prices kind of scale together. If you bought a twenty-year-old Spark/Matiz it would be cheaper than the comparable Civic. Also, I don't know where the OP lives, but the US has pretty lax regulations that let people drive around old cars for longer than many countries.
Needing a loan ≠ can afford to. Many people do not understand this simple fact.
You need a place to live. A fancy car as opposed to one you can buy outright? Not so much.
My ideal living situation is an empty house; my wife feels most comfortable surrounded by things.
What a profound statement. Thanks for sharing.
On the other hand, for a long time in my life, when I saved some money, I had absolutely no idea what to do with it. That was a kind of a problem no one around me had during my childhood. I wish I had found websites like "early retirement extreme" a few decades ago, because I was the kind of person who could quite simply achieve it. (Instead I lost the extra money taking bad investment advice from various "financial advisors".) Other people seem to have an irresistible urge to increase their expenses when their income increases; I don't feel this urge.
I actually worry about not having enough vacation, because experiencing other people's cultures and mindsets are the most important things to me. What else would I really need?
To each his own. Some people care about looking good or commuting comfortably. Most people exaggerate these costs - that's another matter.
Ah yes, the infamous two weeks where for a huge GHG release, we can experience other cultures and come back home changed.
I know my priorities and I've optimized my work/life balance for them.
The Community Health Act of 1963 was supposed to transfer mentally-ill patients from psychiatric hospitals to community-based centers, but "only half of the proposed centers were ever built; none were fully funded, and the act didn’t provide money to operate them long-term."
During the 80s "HUD's budget authority was reduced from $74 billion to $19 billion. Such alleged changes is claimed to have resulted in an inadequate supply of affordable housing to meet the growing demand of low-income populations. In 1970 there were 300,000 more low-cost rental units (6.5 million) than low-income renter households (6.2 million). By 1985, the advocacy group claimed that the number of low-cost units had fallen to 5.6 million, and the number of low-income renter households had grown to 8.9 million, a disparity of 3.3 million units."
If I want a book in English, I either have to special order it at the library and wait for a week to get it, or I have to buy it myself.
If you would like entertaining reading to assist in your own building of a new mental model around money:
(written by a programmer who retired early and is part of the "financial independence" movement/blogosphere)
I don't think about money at all either. I realize it's important, but it's importance has never consumed me. If I don't think about it, I actually spend less. If I think about it, I totally panic. I've saved money by not thinking about it.
I also have trouble eating! I just buy a week's worth of food at a time, twice a month, so typically I have only two week's worth of food per month, and that results in about 2 meals per day-- small ones. Sometimes I don't eat at all because of my appetite issues. I just take multivitamins to supplement those days, as well as extra Vitamin D3 and Magnesium.
Why are you criticizing his choice of bed? You are showing a lack of empathy to the poster's actual point, which isn't "Help me find a cheap bed". It feels like you're just looking for an opportunity to brag about how good at buying beds you are. Even if you're not, your response doesn't say anything about the article or add to the wider discussion in any way.
When I see people screaming and walking down the streets talking to themselves, I see people that need love. I see people that need to be taken in, not just for a night, but for a year or longer... so they can stop stressing about where they'll get their next meal, or if they'll have someplace warm and safe to sleep at night.
It is so easy for people to judge them.. say that it is their fault for being down on their luck. When you're homeless, you just get used to people assuming the worse... heck you even start to assume the worse about yourself. You say, why is it that no one cares to see that I'm hurting inside. People judge them for not taking whatever work is available for the day, because they assume... hey, one day helps, right... well when you're homeless, the help of one person is kind and does help for a bit, but what what people need in America are communities helping them.
Unfortunately, you will likely have to go to religious services and pretend to care about religion enough to get the help you need, because that is who America has designated as their community support system.
If they're talking to themselves, they need more than that. They probably need to be cared for in a mental institution. Unfortunately the overall national trend has been funding cuts, with the irony being that it doesn't save money overall; since the costs are just shifted over to hospitals and other emergency services.
This isn't a new subject. For those without severe mental issues, the end result is the same when we provide housing: it costs less
The statement that they should probably need to be cared for in a mental institution isn't true. That some or several may need to be cared for is true, yes, but the probability of that need is less well know. Schizophrenia and other schizophrenia-related disorders can often 'mellow out' on their own over time.  It is important to give someone a stable and loving and validating environment for them to be able to recover. There are several kinds of people who, while they talk to themselves, really just have their symptoms exacerbated by stress (e.g. schizotypal personality disorder can have quasi-psychotic symptoms triggered by stress).
1. https://www.nationalelfservice.net/mental-health/schizophren... (I will also note that this has been anecdotally determined, though I understand anecdotes are not data.)
> It is important to give someone a stable and loving and validating environment for them to be able to recover. There are several kinds of people who, while they talk to themselves, really just have their symptoms exacerbated by stress
Yes, which is why a mental institution is a good starting point for a homeless person with mental issues. Let's not confuse these institutions with the mental asylums of the past. Are there better alternatives for the mentally ill homeless that I'm not aware of? I don't feel that most if not all homeless shelters are equiped to fully deal with individuals suffering from schizophrenia.
A short-term stay in a mental hospital might be necessary while getting the patient adjusted to their medication. But once someone is stable, there is no need for such things. Even though the institutions have changed, they are still pretty horrible places to stay in, with all sorts of lifestyle restrictions that aren't generally needed.
A small apartment is appropriate for most folks once they are stable, along with access to someone to call. Some communities have social workers that visit once or twice a week and help with grocery shopping, bill paying, and general "how are you" sorts of things. Group homes are another option if someone chooses it: Private space with shared kitchen and whatnot, staffed with someone to help with cooking and cleaning. My ex, diagnosed with schizophrenia, would have been a candidate for such a thing. I was his primary caregiver, fair or not, and his doctor didn't want him living alone for his own protection.
Give support for family members as well - this is something seriously lacking in the US system. He had help, I didn't.
A small amount of folks might need some help for substance abuse, but many short-term mental health facilities are equipped to do this. A fair amount of folks would be helped by police that are capable of helping mentally ill folks with training and a marker on their ID so the cops know what to change in their approach.
I would like to see more options here for medicine and research. Truly, recovery can be a long process for many and it takes time for the brain and body to heal from trauma. Some of that may be emotional trauma as well. I would love to see more options for preventive mental health services in the United States.
What is available for drug users, I'm not sure. It seems one of the major problems in the states is that substance abuse help is difficult. Some charities help folks by donating things like hygiene items and things like that. As you said, some folks nearly forget how to take care of themselves, having fallen out of the habit for such a long time. The same can happen with some mentally ill folks.
Most importantly, though, these programs need funding. Some of these things nearly need laws to happen (like police training). Having worker protection laws that allow folks to take care of themselves would help. One of the better ways to do this is by contacting your state and local government.
if the mental illness is as serious as schizophrenia, a home isn't enough. The issue isn't just about the mentally ill person's welfare, but also if that person poses a danger to others who live nearby. There is a strong correlation between schizophrenia and violent crime. Without treatment in a controlled environment like a mental hospital, it's hard to see a mentally ill homeless person being able to safely integrate with society when they also lack a family and friends support network.
> I was his primary caregiver, fair or not, and his doctor didn't want him living alone for his own protection.
This is the issue. The homeless will not have the luxury of having a caregiver to be able to live independently at least initially. I'm sure why it's so hard for people to accept that the homeless people, who also have mental issues, just don't have access to the same resources that a non-homeless person with mental issues has access to.
I’m not saying “you are wrong and I have the answers”, merely that thmakes perception that anyone who talks to themselves needs inpatient and medication may not be necessarily true. They could just need some time in a safe place, while inpatient treatment can actually not be safe and incredibly traumatic.
Bullshit. There are many people capable of losing touch with reality who live normal lives thanks to medication.
This may be a free country, but we shouldn't use that to neglect our duty to our neighbors.
> And unless they’re a danger to themselves or others (and
> not just in the sense of making bad life decisions), they
> can’t be held against their will.
We just choose not to. AFAIU, the Supreme Court decisions in the 1970s that, arguably, precipitated the dismantling of the archaic mental health institutions never even came close to suggesting that such people couldn't be forced off the street. For example, in the famous case of O'Connor v. Donaldson the patient, Donaldson, had actually been living in an apartment of his own in Philadelphia. He traveled to Florida to visit his parents, and it was his parents who had him committed after he shared paranoid delusions about his neighbors in Philadelphia. I've seen people use that case to argue against forcing people off the streets as-if we had no legal choice, but it's just plain wrong. Donaldson wasn't living on the streets; his ramblings notwithstanding he was clearly capable of taking care of himself, and in any event the case was never about his initial confinement but his continued confinement 15 years later.
We choose to let people live on the streets because we've somehow internalized the perverse logic that to do otherwise would result in a tyrannic state oppressing the mentally ill. (Myths about SCOTUS opinions come into being to bolster the logic.) That such an approach happens to require little or no budget outlays while simultaneously absolving us from moral blame is, I'm sure, merely coincidental....
Ouch, that's kind of an uncalled for jab at religion.
Why don't atheists band together and form communities to show the religious how it's done...?
This seems unjustified. Your statement assumes (a) Support systems in the community are run only by religious people. This implies (b) Non-religious people do not run any community programs.
Assuming (b) is true (which it may very well not be), the question that needs to be asked is, why do non-religious people and institutions not run more community programs.
Not rail against the religious people who do.
Disclaimer: I am not American.
This explains it. You probably live somewhere with a reasonable social safety net. Our government safety net is full of holes, and religious people build webs to catch people who fall through.
Not all of them are bad. Some of them will just help people and not make it conditional on joining their religion. In my experience and from accounts by other LGBTQ+ people, these are the outliers.
We moved to a small rural town when I was young out of fears that my father’s work for an oil company’s union (refinery construction and maintenance) would place him out of jurisdiction where we were.
He is and was a very talented fitter/welder and has even taught courses in college. He did however spend most of the best years of his life after his athletic career with some ugly-souled people who seemed to have it out for mankind in general. Somehow he endured decades of that to look after us. I wish he could have been more enlightened to the world as it would have helped my siblings and I out when we were young. Ultimately we were on our own financially and otherwise even though my parents offered whatever support they could.
I’ve spent time living on $5 a week for food. Some flour, sugar, water, butter, salt, baking soda, and on good weeks milk, can go a long way if you need them too. I forget how many times I had to live on homemade soda bread for weeks at a time, but it wasn’t fun—maybe that’s why I can’t remember it too well.
Im doing so much better than a lot of people who have never had a chance. I’m lucky I was a little bright. I’ve also been to school and worked alongside people who have no idea what it is to have no such luck, money, or otherwise—it’s enlightening and sometimes disheartening to speak to people in those positions about that.
I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve said. I think if most people took a moment to imagine how bad their own life could be, and compound that by a few orders of magnitude, you might get close to just how it feels to be in such a position and how hard it is to ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’— so to speak. Your points on dignity are a topic too large to address in this forum. But you’re right.
I don't know how much canned chili you keep, but FEMA recommends keeping at least a 3 day supply of non-perishable food on hand. I don't think FEMA has a reputation for having borderline paranoia.
If anything, FEMA tends to grossly underestimate the impact of the incidents they may respond to; the public tends to grossly overestimate FEMA's capacity and interests in doing what is ultimately, for every animal and man since the dawn of time, their own job and no one else's.
I think that's a bit harsh. Civilization gives us infrastructure to live safely in very densely populated areas. When that infrastructure fails it doesn't seem fair to just say: "Now it's up to you like it was up to your ancestors. It doesn't matter that they didn't live in a spot where they had 100k other homo sapience specimens within half an hour walk, now competing for resources that stopped flowing in."
It's so insanely densely populated that even leaving this place in a car could take you days.
Civilization allowing you to live without regular incidents is different from it allowing you to live safely. The marks of civilization (namely density) become liabilities when things go very wrong. In many ways, it's up to you in ways your ancestors never had to deal with: more things in civilization burn, crush, lacerate, and impale people when they fail than in nature, and nature had plenty of these to begin with.
A sense of safety built on the responsibilities of others is false, I think. Ideally we all do our jobs when the going gets tough, but in reality, you're surrounded by cowards who would rather watch you and yours die than put themselves in danger (see the recent mass shooting, where four deputies basically just stood outside for the duration of the attack), and in some sense, who could blame them?
I'd lived in Atlanta for several years before but the attitude of the well do to the poor was obscene.
When I left, I vowed I would never live in coastal California again.
I grew up during the tail years of communism and everybody was dirt poor. The interesting thing is, nobody was financially stressed, starvation and homelessness was not a thing. I ended up developing an abundance mentality and terrible money management skills.
Looking even further back, my parents experienced the height of policy stupidity and barely survived the great famine which killed millions. It scarred them for life, but also pushed them to make more money and live frugally even after achieving financial security.
Another point is back in those days the majority of population are poor, which means the social structure are build around poor people. Food, cloths, education, haircut, all of them targeted poor people. You don't need to live in the corner of the city and go great length to find products suited for you.
"Chinese poverty is different from American poverty because we weren't worried about starving."
Mentions a mass starvation event in China only a generation before which probably killed the equivalent of 10% of the US population at the time.
Of course, I only see residue effects long after it happened, so maybe time does heal all wounds.
8.1% of China's population is still malnourished to the point of stunting.
It's only 2.1% in the US.
People often comment on the 1958 famine as some singular event, but it actually was the 6th and last in the 20th century.
It's just so far from true I don't understand why they are getting upvoted (and me downvoted).
In the case of a famine, it's still the haves and the have-nots.
Even now, people in China are not concerned with or at risk of famine. It doesn't matter how many famines there were 50+ years ago, it won't make that untrue unless you can point to a credible reason why Chinese people today should fear famine.
The most recent UNICEF data puts malnutrition to the point of stunting at 8.1% in China.
In the US it was 2.1%.
I'm a bit confused; is China not still communist?
America has a political tradition of Don't tread on me. This influences our policies and attitudes regarding a great many things, sometimes in ways that are not positive.
I'm a woman who was one of the top high school students of my entire state and I failed to get the two career couple upper class outcome I expected. I spent my twenties reading boatloads of stuff trying to figure out what went wrong.
I concluded that European women asked society to help them carry the burden of being the one who carries a child to term. American women took the Don't tread on me position and basically told men to fuck off and get the fuck out of my way. The European approach has a much better track record of closing the wage gap and raising quality of life for both women and children.
On the other hand, I spent nearly 6 years homeless in order to get healthier when doctors say it cannot be done, so I am pretty Don't tread on me to good effect. So I don't actually think America is simply dysfunctional and needs to give up its silly ways. But we certainly have room for improvement on quite a lot of metrics.
I'm pretty sure most of that influx of people predates the European wealthfare states and modern democracies.
Have you never been to London? There are homeless literally everywhere, and London is one of the wealthiest cities in the world. The money in London is much, much older as well, so if anyone should have it "sorted" it should be London.
I live in London currently. There are almost no homeless people. What are you talking about? It's one of the largest city I've been to where I've seen the least amount of poverty.
I'll also say that London is super safe, you'll almost never see crazy people in the streets or public transport. I regularly take the bus or the subway at late hours and I've never seen anyone dangerous or looking for trouble.
You definitely picked the wrong city.
You don't get out much. Walk on any high street and you will see plenty of homeless people.
Thoughts and prayers: the air guitar of helping.
Honestly, the whole bash-the-poor perception is becoming more prevalent in Australia too (I'm from the UK too), it's becoming more and more the norm but as a whole, I find Australia to be very Americanised.
It affects your thinking forever. Even when doing consulting gigs, I still spent sparingly like it all could go away. Even after Dad got a decent job elsewhere, it took a few years to feel comfortable again.
My family came to this country with absolutely _nothing_ and my parents saved and saved and saved to accumulate a safety net. The point of saving is so that when you lose our job you don’t face imminent castrophe. If you lose your job and you’ve saved you can migrate and find a job elsewhere. But millions of Americans don’t do this. It’s hard to feel bad for them when you put so much hard work and deny yourself so much just to save.
But I’m not saying anything new: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ant_and_the_Grasshopper
If you work in a median-income job and are miserly for a long time and save up a year's income, you will have around $60k in the bank. Since you don't have a pension, materially all of this will be in mutual funds or the like if retirement is in your plans. But great, you have savings!
Now let anything happen that requires you to visit a hospital unexpectedly. Let's say your appendix bursts, so you couldn't meaningfully have avoided this calamity.
The average cost for an appendectomy in the US is $33k. That's just the surgery, so assume you'll be out $40k or more. Now let your boss be a miser (like yourself) who decides to fire you because you can't come in. Depending on how quickly you find another job, how much it pays, and your ability to avoid another unexpected disaster (car trouble, sick kid, etc.) you could quite easily burn through the entire $60k of your savings from this one incident. So the very next time this happens, you're no better off than the folks who saved nothing.
But wait, it gets worse! Since your $60k was primarily in retirement savings, you will likely end up paying penalties and taxes for early withdrawal. So you will end up spending thousands of dollars to access your money. The rules are designed to kick you while you're down in this respect. And now you have no retirement savings, so people can talk about what a freeloader you are in your dotage.
(The probabilities get worse as you get older. For an example of how bad, check pricing for long-term care coverage or long-term disability coverage. Basically -- you can't reliably out-grasshopper biology.)
Our healthcare system in general makes the grasshopper approach more about luck than is apparent at first glance.
1 - Obviously, insurance currently will pay a large portion of the $33k, as the ACA mandates that health insurers sell a useful product. But this has not been the case except for the last 7ish years, and may not be the case again in the near future. It would be foolish to expect health insurance to function as "health insurance" in America for any extended period of time.
It sucks ruining your credit with a bankruptcy event, but it beats out draining your retirement plans.
The flip side is this is a contributing factor in everyone's healthcare costs being so high.
You’re saying that because catastrophes happen there’s no point in saving? Yes health insurance was problematic before the ACA, but it definitely served its purpose for simple things like appendectomies. Not every single instance of needing savings is one that is financially ruinous, aka pre-ACA healthcare issue that involved preexisting conditions etc.
No, nothing in what I wrote says that. Literally nothing I wrote should lead to that conclusion. (Good thing you brought up straw man though!)
The point is that saving doesn't guarantee insulation from poverty, and that in America medical costs are historically a leading reason why that is the case. This is in the context of a discussion around how we treat poor and homeless people.
So if you wanted to take one bullet point from what I wrote, you could do worse than "it's not morally okay to look down on poor people in the US because if you're not relatively lucky, that could also be you" or something similar.
Hope that helps!
Useful health insurance existed before the ACA.
From my more cynical older viewpoint, I was never going to get decent coverage on the private market and that was simply a viable reason to present for rejection.
It shared the market with a lot more useless health insurance, and whether the useful plans were actually available to any given individual was not necessarily a function of how hardworking and conscientious they were.
In my families historical situation the big issue is you're poor because of debts. You can't move because you're stuck in a mortgage or farm loan. You can't go to college because you owe money. You can't better yourself without help from the outside essentially. Imagine owing 2k+ a month but only making 1800 for a few years that will drain your savings.. imagine then it gets worse and worse and eventually you get laid off.
Being upside down causes the blood to go to your brain and like the article implies makes some people continue to make bad decisions. Say you get out of being upside down for just a small time you then rationalize spending over what you were like before because you think your ship finally came in... but in today's society that can change in a heartbeat.
This works because we end up sharing the disproportionate costs which sometimes fall on those who are unfortunate (they lose their job, they get sick, etc). It's much more efficient than everyone having to have individual savings.
This sentence is contradictory: since individuals are told these lies/take this bait when they're minors--ie, not 'free' in any legal sense--they in fact are off the hook. When most minors, particularly those closer to the left-hand side of the privilege bell curve, do not have parents with the necessary social/economic background to teach them 'not to take loans from creeps', they are precluded from assessments such as the above.
I live in a Texas city. Rent here for a 2 bedroom apartment is over $1K a month. If you're a single mother of 2, you can expect $500 a month for EBT if you make $9 an hour. So after you get through paying your taxes, social security, medicare, etc... you're stuck with pocket change (that still has to go to electricity, gas for the car / maintenance) and use EBT to pay for your food.
Please spare the empathy bit. When you're working odd shifts, you KNOW the kids will eat the pizza rolls, so you buy the damned pizza rolls.
But let's say single mom gets a $4 raise. Guess what happens? EBT evaporates. Completely. Not only that, but she starts getting charged $160+ a month for the daycare that she sends her kids to so that she can work those odd hours. $3 more bucks? Her daycare subsidy evaporates. She's making $16 an hour, but now she can't afford to pay her bills.
Yeah, please lecture us again on why they can't save money.
Often the choice to have kids is at a more stable point and then things go downhill.
Tragedies will occasionally come out of left field, so I believe you can find real hard luck cases where everything was sunshine and rainbows when the couple decides to have a kid. But based on the people I've known personally the people with messed up lives are a subset of the people make consistently poor decisions. I bet that 9 single parents who are struggling financially out of 10 have some identifiable poor choice you could find if they were totally open and honest about their history. Does she have a 6 month emergency fund, health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, a large enough home, home insurance, a stable marriage, stable employment, flex in the budget? I think if you restrict to looking at parents who fit those criteria prior to the decision to have kids, the sliver who become this down on their luck is staggeringly tiny. And the parents who don't fit these can't afford kids.
Are you proposing that only the top 10% most economically secure people should have children? Because if you check those critera you'll find it's a surprisingly small minority of people that meet all of them.
(Something like half of all Americans have no emergency fund at all. Is anyone who lives in an "at-will" state truly in stable employment, either? And so on.)
I feel like I'm talking into the wind here. I guess I hold unpopular opinions around here. Is personal responsibility so unpopular? Or do people not believe that decisions we make affect our lives?
The presumption that it's people's own fault that they are poor often comes with a presumption that they're lying or evasive when it comes to explaining why they're in that situation when really they don't want to have to justify their existence all the time.
Doubly so in areas of reproductive choice. Not only is abortion extremely controversial in America, but access to contraception is hardly guaranteed and not necessarily free.
And again, I think you're vastly overestimating how many people could realistically achieve your standards just through their own decisions. Are your standards achievable at all on minimum wage?
(edit: think about this on the larger scale - an America where everyone has 6 months savings and no personal non-mortgage debt would have a financial industry with hundreds of billions of dollars in very different places ...)
Having grown up as a military brat I know about poor and I know that this kind of self-serving look-down-your-nose "advice" is just rationalization for living well in a society that enables sociopathy
I'm sorry you had to go through that as a kid. My beliefs on this subject are rooted in an empathy and caring for kids who could have had better childhoods if their parents had their shit together a little more.
Having kids when not entirely 100% secure in your future is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as the parents make sure things go okay for the family. But that's hardly the case most of the time, and people over-extend way more than they can conceivably manage/sacrifice-to-handle. That's where family planning should help (by sharing knowledge), not just giving out free birth-control.
People need to be damn sure that they can provide for the kids, or that they will give 110% in order to make it so. But, welfare is sadly pretty-much at a point where it's just paying people en-masse to have children rather than helping people that got into bad situations. That's not moving society forward, or helping the needy; that's creating/breeding generation upon generation of a dependent under-class that will just vote to reinforce said government handouts.
Most children aren't actually planned. They occur because mother nature has spent millions of years perfecting the art of tricking people into liking sex.
Or, as I sometimes say, our genes are like virii: They don't care how miserable they make you in their quest to reproduce themselves. Coincidentally, genes and viruses are both made of RNA at their root (DNA being two RNA, basically).
And while I agree with you that evolution is powerful, reliable birth control is recent enough that we haven't adapted to it. It's quite possible to control when you have kids via abstinence, birth control, and abortion. But it does require long-term thinking and contentiousness, and my point is that these sob stories are mostly missing these personality traits.
Taken to its logical conclusion, I see no reason why that would not lead to a society where murdering kids up to a certain age is the expected norm when the family falls on hard times. If there is a god, I would hope he/she/it would go all Sodom and Gomorrah on it.
When we make public policies, we need to start from a baseline assumption that human sexuality exists and sometimes babies happen and those policies need to respect the privacy of the couple whose coupling created that child and their right to make a hard and complicated decision balancing multiple different interests. Sweeping policies of "just don't have kids" go horrendous places, including forced abortions of late stage pregnancies which are essentially murder because the baby is developed enough it would be viable outside the womb if the mother went into labor.
You may call that sexual morality, I call it common sense.
Quite the opposite. I'm interested in people changing their decisions in such ways that children have better lives. Simultaneously, I'm am very much against my tax bill and my city's crime rate being higher because of completely avoidable problems.
1) government provides taxpayer funded healthcare
2) government mandates everyone buys health insurance via healthcare.gov
3) government is not involved in at all, including Medicaid and Medicare and does not offer any kind of assistance to business to offer health insurance such as tax deductions
It reminds me of therapist mandated reporting of child abuse making it so those most at risk of committing child abuse no longer seeking therapy, leading to an overall increase in harm. Or the HIV laws in California that resulted in people refusing to get tested. And it makes me think that limiting ones ability to own a gun based on mental health will result in people being less likely to seek mental help. Why is there such dismissal of secondary effects of laws even after seeing them occur?
The size of income is not the only difference between people. People can have different families, get different informal education at home, etc.
If you are poor but smart, and so is your family, and you love and help each other... there is a chance you will sooner or later get out of poverty somehow; as long as one succeeds, they can provide help and advice to others, etc.
It is a completely different situation if e.g. someone in your poor family is crazy. Crazy people can create all kinds of difficulties, whether interpersonal or financial, which can consume all your energy and savings.
I know people who have decent income, but can't save any of it, because they have relatives who regularly get themselves in all kinds of financial trouble, knowing that they can always ask Joe to save them. For example, they don't pay their bills, and then call Joe for help when a collector comes and wants the money back with some extra interest. And Joe doesn't know how to tell them "no" and just watch them lose the roofs above their heads. Therefore, no matter how many years of decent income will Joe have, he will never have savings.
I know people who spend a lot of their attention mitigating various problems that their crazy relatives with too much free time created. The amount of energy someone else spends on building a startup, they spend solving artificially created problems which wouldn't exist if their crazy relatives wouldn't make up things, or if the rest of the family wouldn't believe them.
I guess what I am trying to say is that people are connected; and some of them start connected to decent people, and others start connected to huge heaps of shit. Social capital is also a form of capital, and it can be negative.
Both are strategies that can be valid and work in different sceneries. When you spend some money you create a social net, maybe you have more friends or hang with more people that could help you in troubled times. For the "ant" people, the colony (family) is all. Can't trust anybody out of that circle, so saving the money is the correct and only option. For solitary "grasshopper" people, without strong family bonds, spending money and being generous with their money can pay more in the future if they make wise choices about whom to spend the money. Safety net can be made with money or with social bonds. Both can fail and no one is more virtuous than the other. The best is probably having a mix of both.
Upvote for the story but "simply need help" is not a policy a government can use to solve the problem. Granted, solving this problem for everyone is nigh impossible but maybe you can give us an example of a policy that would have helped out your individual family to give us some ideas?
Helping the poor is big business, which creates a backwards incentive structure. No one is willing to press these companies to the wall, but hey, they can have rewards ceremonies and drive nice cars. They must be doing something great with all those accolades even though more dead bodies are dumped in the bay each year, right?
examined a program that ran for five years with a high success rate.
There is a readable article on this at https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/02/housing-first-s...
Then "simply need help" would be a significant policy change.
Lots of other developed countries have made inroads on poverty. Just look.
I have never heard of that term before. What does that mean?
> Then "simply need help" would be a significant policy change.
Again, governments are based on policies and rules. "simply need help" is way to abstract.
> Lots of other developed countries have made inroads on poverty. Just look.
Which policies and rules used by other governments do you recommend?
To be fair, the poor have a high tax burden in the US compared to other industrialized countries. And they get fairly little for their taxes... Still an Uber driver who complains about taxes being high is sad, because lower taxes will only hurt him.
And yes, I didn't say they were rational players :)
Which the article says, we shouldn't expect.
Let's not pick "sides" here.
But complaining about taxes doesn't reduce poverty.
Many comments in this thread mention the disparity between the Haves and Have-nots in San Francisco. Imagine the impact if all those Haves decided to use their own time and money to aid the homeless/hungry/needy/destitute? Instead, we fall back to blaming the other side's politicians and policies and we hope that someday Big Brother will take care of everything.
Do you think the problem is, or can be, competently handled by government? I think government can get results by brute-forcing with massive amounts of money, but history shows that it's still terrible at it (hello War on Poverty). Now, I don't mean to say government should have no role/do nothing. I'm saying that it should not be the -default- entity to take care of things because it allows the citizenry to absolve themselves of all responsibility. Government isn't some wise entity - it's just people. And oftentimes those people are thousands of miles away, working with incentive structures poorly aligned with the issue at hand.
One benefit of transforming this issue into a matter of personal responsibility is that the incentives are much stronger - if it's MY money being used, I'm far more likely to strive for efficiency. If your charity gobbles up my donation with admin costs, I'm "shopping elsewhere". A somewhat-related example of this strategy was a method used in Africa to combat elephant poaching. I can't find the reference now, but basically the government decided to "give" land areas to citizens, who would be responsible for poaching issues. It ended up working much better than when the government sought to directly reduce poaching.
Could you explain why that is?
Easy by the rest of my comment maybe I didn't illustrate it enough but a lot of people share ideas on how to fix it without truly understand it. Poverty is easy to fix. It's the giving up personal wealth to prevent it that's the hard part. As per the link it basically says the same crap everyone says, the "Helping the homeless is hopeless" narrative. Now saying that once you're screwed you'll never be able to think 'normal' again... c'mon man.
how does giving up personal wealth fix poverty?
Wealth and safety nets give families chances where those in poverty can't afford to take. "Move across the country and change jobs or risk dying of starvation with your family in the car because once you got there the job's gone" "Spend all your savings going to college at the expense of your kids when there are no jobs right now" "It'll cost hundreds of thousands for chemotherapy but on average patients with your diagnosis get 3 more years typically of life"... these are called risks. The wealthy get more rewards because they can afford more risks. Most who are in poverty are in poverty because they themselves or their family could not afford the risk. If those who are high lend a hand it could help immensely.
riddled with fallacies and calculated to produce envy. totally irrelevant to our discussion.
It's about income distribution.
It's true that the economy is not a cake you can split in several parts, so it's not a zero sum game, but I think that inequalities should be reduced, and that means taking from the ones who have, to give to those who have less.
And if you take from the ones who have the most, you are not creating poor people, you are just improving the balance.
And again, it's about the extremes, there is less need to touch the incomes of those in the middle.
I don't understand how taking from the rich to give to the poor would be a bad thing.
so you've got some people who (for whatever reason) are prevented from making a decent income. how are you proposing to solve that problem by routing an income that is contingent on their inability to generate their own? We have tried that for 3 generations and poverty is worse than ever, inequality is worse than ever, the food stamps go to buy drugs, and the only solution you people have is to take more money from "the rich" and pour it into the same failed social programs.
> I think that inequalities should be reduced, and that means taking from the ones who have, to give to those who have less.
people who generate their own income are going to have whatever they generate less whatever you take. people who cannot generate their own income are going to have whatever you take less your operating costs, and spend it on non-discretionary consumption items like food, rent, healthcare. which are provided by people who don't need your welfare. so you're simultaneously creating a dependent class or poor people and a guaranteed income stream for the wealthy. this is why your idea has always failed.
>And if you take from the ones who have the most, you are not creating poor people, you are just improving the balance.
you'll observe that the ones who have the most are the ones who write the tax code. good luck taking from them.
>I don't understand how taking from the rich to give to the poor would be a bad thing.
1. creates a class of poor people who are dependent on social programs for survival.
2. "Taking from the rich" happens through a political system that is designed to protect the interests of a subset of rich people. so the rules are manipulated to take a lot from rich people without political connections, and route money towards rich people with political connections.
That is a non sequitur.
Is that really how you interpreted TFA?
I read it entirely opposite to that interpretation. It explained why helping those suffering scarcity is necessary and why society needs to revisit attitudes and mechanisms to do so.
I can't see the explanation you say exists.
I suspect that there's a missing qualifier to parent's comment --something like 'from people who haven't lived what I have lived' -- but absent that it sounds like other people's experiences are of no or negative value.
I'm curious which way you interpreted TFA, as it may inform why you believe I'm missing the point of the parent post.
It's worse than this. Now society thinks that government is going to take care of the problems. The past fifty years and the War on Poverty have shown us how well that works. I wish that, instead of spending more untold billions on new programs and bureaucracies, government would switch to facilitating citizens to create, man, and implement the help that is so sorely needed by the poor and helpless. Encourage the citizenry to take personal responsibility for helping others, instead of offering an easy out to do nothing.
I really don't understand why this is so controversial in North America. The 'Fuck You All, I've Got Mine' mentality is a sign of a morally dead society.
But I rarely (never?) see any rhetoric in DNC politics about party members donating of their own free will to anything other than the Democratic party.
It's misleading to say that it would be a-ok to start a socialist society in a libertarian society. It (like many aspects of libertarian analysis, in my opinion) ignores the reality of a political situation like the one described.
More to the point, the notion that communes are a threat to libertarianism is flat out false. Libertarianism is about freedom to associate with and do business with people as you please. That includes pooling ones' interests in a commune.
What you cannot do under libertarianism is force someone to join, or prevent someone from leaving.
My point is that if these things are natural, it is likely that we'd reach a similar structure if we started from scratch.
I don't really think that the true premise of capitalism is going away until we reach a Star Trek post-scarcity level of wealth. I do think we can - and should - combat the ill-effects that come from the exercise of a capitalist system for billions of people.
I think we need to make it better, not a do over
That's because forcible communism's track record is simply horrific. You can create or join a commune as you please, I have no problem with that. But when you try to force people into one, or prevent them from leaving, a lot of people are going to fight you.
What do you think wealthy people do with their money?
> the only thing that makes sense
If you want to end human progress. Me, I'm excited about Musk's progress in space exploration, for one example.
What’s the political philosophy that means you can help others as much as they need? Maybe we should talk about that one more.
"From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" - Karl Marx.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. - Steve Jobs
Mine was the opposite, really. Grew up as a welfare-kid in Western-Europe with a disabled dad and a sibling. The state provided for us, the three of us made do with about $1200 (roughly the $7.50 minimum wage in the US at a 40h 52w work schedule) or so in today's money, living in the capital city so rent and insurance ate up quite a bit of our budget. Still, we had a great childhood, went to university, always did sports, vacations, had books and computers at home. Everything was always a few generations old, everything was second hand, I still have clothes that are 15 years old. I always worked to buy my own clothes, phone, trips etc, such that my dad was 'only' paying rent/food from age 14, and eventually we chipped in there as well. I feel tremendously grateful for having been born here, socio-economic mobility is a lot higher here than elsewhere (the American dream irony). I've got a postgrad degree, steady job, traveled the world etc. I never wanted for anything, honestly. The government helped us out with tuition fees, insurance, rent, and I happily pay my fair share back in taxes. Most importantly perhaps, I never felt the damage of stress of being poor, we were never scared for our future, if anything, it looked bright. I don't feel any less than others, not ashamed or fearful. I owe a lot of this to the state and my fellow citizens.
When I was 17 I went through a period of near destitute. I was living on my own, my father had passed away, and I had dropped out of school. Yet, I found myself with some very good jobs, such as GE Capital, a big Oil and Gas companies IT department, etc.
Regardless of the opportunity, my arrogance, ambivalence, or immaturity (take your pick) cost me a series of good jobs in short order. The result was I had no money, no electricity, no gas for my car, and not much to do. Eating cold beans out of a can in the dark tends to force you to re-think your priorities.
In my case, I got very motivated very quickly and dug myself out of that hole after a few months. I think that's the point Orrin Hatch was trying to make. If I had a fallback, I would have, without a doubt, kept coasting along from job to job. I've never looked at work or money the same way since as I never want to find myself there again.
So long story short, being poor (by my own doing) didn't necessarily motivate me, but looking into oblivion sure as hell did.
I think that's why all the trimmings of a "socialist" society are so attractive to me.
I hear what you're saying. You felt motivated because there was nothing to enable your coasting. But it can also work in the other direction.
Those who do not have the capital cannot take risks in the first place.
Unless we are going to avoid widely classifing a "risk" as something "scary" or "hard", then isn't changing jobs risky?
I'm not going to pretend that some people don't thrive when looking at the poverty void -- they are the exception to the rule. There are also those who coast on gov't funding. There's probably many reasons why someone would coast, but if I'm in a system that has so thoroughly forgotten about me since birth (e.g. not having any opportunities for better education for one), why would I want to partake in it? I think the cost of a few people not trying to make changes for the better is by far outweighed by helping those you need support in their most desperate time.
It's not about giving people a safety net when the have moonshot ideas to start a business. It's to have a safety net when they need a bit of time to improve themselves, which when you have little time and money is a huge risk.
That was part of my point, though I worded it poorly.
>then taking time to educate themselves (a vocation school, getting resources on how to stretch a dollar, etc.) may seem like a risk.
I think the biggest issue here is kids. I taught at a local community college, and I can say that almost everyone there was taking a risk of some kind to get through school. But the moms that had to leave class early to pick up their kid from one place and bring them to another place and then go to Walmart for work to make ends meet.
I had a student who was homeless, and now has a good job. He worked harder than 99% of the other students. (I taught for about 12 years)
I also had a student that was watching porn and left his baby in the tub and it drowned.
These are the people that would benefit from help, but the problems that I see are that they have help right now. I know this because I was a homeless teen on the streets for a while. And there's help all over the place.
I think people that have never been homeless don't understand it at all. It's a totally foreign world. But half the people that were my friends were trying to get off the streets, and the other half were not. Drugs were pervasive, and one friend was this happy, carefree kid, and a year later when I was back in town, he was on meth and was mugging people.
What people are missing is good parents that could teach their kids how to live, especially when it gets hard. Save money, don't waste your life on drugs, work hard, be decent to people.
Many of my friends were happy being on the streets (I was for a time) because home life was so wretched.
What would happen if all these kids got a chunk of money every month? Drugs and entertainment, I gurantee you that. Why? Because they saw no hope in spending it wisely when many couldn't look further than a day in the future. Misery an hopelessness was their daily life.
Some kids would get some money, and they go to a fancy restaurant for a single meal. One time a bunch of kids spanged (spare changing) for a whole day just to get a night at the Hilton hotel and bunch of them took showers there. (there are showers at the shelter, and they still did this) And yes, the shelter was totally safe (some theft) but it was kids, not crazed adults. I think the adults lives are just an extension of what the teens experience, but a more realistic outlook, and hopelessness is spread out over time differently. (I was homeless as an adult for awhile as well)
The kids that made it out were the ones looking for jobs and housing, even when all they had was a local shelter and general mailbox and phone service provided by a local volunteer house for homeless kids.
Risk plays no part in helping any of these kids, or me when I was there. There daily life is full of risk. There were kids selling drugs, a few prostituted themselves in various ways. (though this gets worse the longer you are out there) I finally got a job, but had nothing to spend money on. I had hundreds of dollars in my pocket at one point, and was still homeless.
Unless you have 10k or more, what "risk" could you possibly take without family or a huge support network? And if you did have that money, but no support, it would be insane to take a risk. I think talking about risks in regards to helping the needing is red herring, a strawman, and distraction.
What these people need is real hope, so that when they change from spending $30 a day at McDonalds, to spending $100 a week at a grociery store, that they truly believe and understand they are making their future better.
I have so much more to say about this, but I will pause. I find many comments about the poor and downtrodden to be based on faulty understanding of these people's reality. It reminds me of white people arguing about what black people experience. Can they? Of course, but they often sound silly and misinformed.
being cognitively tired does play a role, but more so because they are cognitively lazy. their bad / lazy decisions are confounded by the fact they are trying to solve problems caused by making bad decisions in the first place. on top of that, most dont value education.
i typed a long story but deleted it. in short, 4/6 of us siblings dropped out of school, those same 4 had a large life insurance policy from the airforce which they blew almost immediately.
we have so many opportunities in this country, but it still does require that we go to school, work, and use our head. i am aghast on how so many people simply refuse to THINK. so many people with money problems have no idea how much money annually they spend on ANYTHING. how can you even begin to talk to someone about getting out of poverty, if they wont even calculate how much they are spending on that 5$ starbucks and 600$ phone.
I'm aghast when I see well off people just burn money. There is an entire population of people who find success via a different road than intelligence or intrinsic value.
I've seen things that would make your blood boil.
I have seen people in fire situations get a one time windfall of $8,000 dollars and spend all of it for a down payment on an expensive car. That's the kind of decision making that keeps you poor.
The more money you have, the dumber you can be with it and still be guaranteed survival. At a certain level of poverty, you have to operate at peak financial efficiency to live a mean lifespan.
50,000$ properly spent could change the course of human history. It could supply the nearby treatment center for children with behavioral/emotional problems for years!
I could buy a few mig welders, some angle grinders, associated PPE, several hundred pounds of scrap metal, and still have enough left over to pay two unemployed people in rural Missouri to make tiny metal sculptures for model towns for 6-12 months.
The above is my goofballs, no thought business plan for 50k. I'm not even trying and the ROI on that hairbrained stupid plan is better than atleast 10 different decisions I've seen made over 50k.
I'm not even being creative or thoughtful. For someone like me to see someone be told "We don't need this." and them respond "eh fuck it, it's just 50k" is...
It's astounding. It's mind altering. It's the name brand bread vs. human lives metaphor in your face and on fire.
So yeah there is a difference.
Most people I meet are literally stereotypical consumers and couldn't come up with a unique idea to save themselves.
On HN a few weeks back, I read someone's comment that some poor people are poor because they own cheap cars that cost a fortune in repairs because they're always breaking down, preventing them from saving up for a better one that won't need repaired so often, which would allow them to save and get ahead.
Maybe that's not always the kind of decision-making that keeps you poor after all.
One of my cars is terrible (2000 Mazda). I waste, but not much. I'm repairing it quite often. A single $500 repair is one (very cheap) car payment on a new one. I'm way ahead keeping the old beast going. I can replace the whole car 3 to 6 times over before I get to the price of a new one.
What I do pay with is inconvenience and my time to drag it into the shop. That's value too, but purely financial costs I'm winning.
Overall in the end, I'm going to pickup a cheap (15K), affordable car to replace it with. Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra range of vehicles. At those prices, the financial gain is outweighed by convenience for me. So we all "have a price". At least until more of those Tesla Model 3's have been out a while, I'll spend more than I normally would on one of those beauties. :)
A lot of people say it's not worth fixing a car that's worth less than the repair. I disagree, it's money in vs money out. Same concept as calories in calories out. Obviously, the comment you quoted would be correct when you start dealing with outliers/extremes. There's money pits, then there's real money pits.
I don't knnow how accurate it is, but it does make sense for some things, such as shoes, and thinking about it, train tickets (season tickets are better value for money but very expensive), and essentially anything where bulk/long term is better value, but only being affordable to some people, and I think the space to store things comes into play as well...
The problem is that an unreliable car is far more likely to cause sudden "emergency" events that require a lot of liquid money upfront and if you don't have that money this might cause a chain reaction so you lose your job and then your home.
The fact is you can't always weigh pros and cons and always get a positive outcome. There are many poor people that will always be poor-but entire industries have spent decades making decisions weighing pros and cons and completely collapsed because of things outside of their control. Why can this principle not apply to a portion of the poor?
Rational thinking under stress is hard. It can be a trap, and often is.
But I do suspect that, like myself, you are well-educated and probably from a stable home with parents that were good role models.
Someone whose home life was chaos probably wasn't lucky enough to been demonstrated those life skills.
It's sad, but I don't want to pay for people making totally avoidable bad decisions. I don't know the solution but whatever we can do to avoid kids being raised in chaotic home situations would help in the future.
My extended family, grandparents, cousins, etc, are mostly doctors, holding PHDs or otherwise very wealthy from successful businesses. I was motivated out of a sense of feeling unworthy, thanks to my narcissistic dad. For education I was marked as a genius in junior high, that fell apart at 13 though, just no guidance at all. College, I loaded up my stuff myself into a borrowed pickup truck, carried it into the dorm myself, organized my loans myself, organized classes and how to graduate myself. Worked 30 hours a week throughout to pay my bills. I never had help for anything. For someone my age to be raised in cloth diapers as I was, and growing up in a house with no air conditioning, gives you an idea on how it was. I'm a product of the 1930s, not 80s. Had they not had a Commodore they initially bought for taxes in the house, I would've been screwed like these other kids. I've also worked nonstop since 12 years of age. I'm tired, and not even that old today. I'm not complaining, others have it worse, just explaining that no, I'm not one of the well-connected, pampered white boys. It sounds odd, but I barely identify with being white as a social class. The way I see life is that we're born alone, and we die alone. It's just the way it really is, the rest is someone who loves you blowing smoke up your ass.
So for me, good genes, bad immediate family. Most of these poor folks have bad genes and a bad family. So I may have escaped, but I know what you mean with your comment. I will say I'm probably more sympathetic than you are, I will pay for others' mistakes. Due to my experiences, I probably have more legit, heartfelt sympathy for the underclass than these fly-by-night liberal types that do lots of virtue signaling on social media. It may be why I married a Mexican woman, she's very smart and being how I view life, she's my reason I don't just say ciao and put a bullet in my head. She brings some emotion out of me, I love her, and we were both tossed out. It's all good and easy when half your needs are handled for you by someone else. I'd settle to just have someone to talk to that cared about me (my wife fills that void, but I mean in my family otherwise). When times get tough and they're truly on their own, a lot of these people, who are weak, will be goosestepping or whatever is the next easiest grease they can walk on. We're seeing the rise of that already, for another class, who thinks they're forgotten.
To fix the home solution that you mention, I have a bit of experience there. I think the turn key easy fix is making parents criminally liable for their children until 21 or 25 years of age. They'll either pay attention like good parents and raise them right, or at least turn them in to mental health when they're building bombs or amassing an arsenal. It's what I came to, given my experiences and what I hear from my wife, who is a public school teacher.
Of course, that's not a real, holistic fix for a failed society like mine (USA). Most people are interested in quick solutions to problems (take the guns etc), and more parental responsibility should solve a lot of problems at once for a society that clearly isn't civilized and has a smorgasbord of issues to address. If you read this far, congrats.
Do you have any data, studies, or real references as to why this is, or do you simply call them lazy to feel better about yourself?
You've clearly outlined a trend-are we really to believe that the poor are simply more cognitively lazy than every other population? That is why they are poor? Quite the claim.
My stance is close to what you're getting at. I don't think they're purposefully lazy most of the time. Though I agree with the OP that some have to be, there's no way. I'm intellectually lazy oftentimes, why wouldn't a discouraged, down on their luck poor person be? Makes zero sense that they wouldn't.
Being paid less and less in my life, while others around me make more, has been extremely demotivating. I can't imagine how the life gets sucked out of people with lesser will-power than others have.
I think it's not a claim that some people simply can't be bothered to go to school and better themselves. They just don't care. It's either stemming from their psychological profile, childhood abuse, or other factors that took down their motivation and self-esteem. They're giving themselves what they deserve, in their mind, accepted their social status.
Many of us do it. I accepted that I'm "working class" long ago and strongly identify with it. Even forgoing clothing that is outside of my class status. I'm a sturdy rural guy that even though I live in one of the largest cities in the US, prefer my blue jeans and work shirts (old fashioned Scottish plaid button ups for a country boy like myself) with work boots (think a black pair of Doc Martens). So I can completely see how others adopt their possibly lower socio-economic status as well. I like mine, it's part of my identity and I'm comfortable in my own skin that way. Maybe they are too, even if it doesn't benefit them.
Now that I'm 40 and poor again (lost my job due to cutbacks), it is impossible for me to recover. Getting new jobs are much harder and people are pretty discriminative towards my age. Nowadays, even employers choose younger people for part-time jobs, since I'm over the hill agewise and overqualified.
Why is the social pressure overwhelming? Socially sometimes it seems that it's better to crawl into a cave and never be seen in your poverty, than be seen as a 40-45+ year old doing janitorial work (or other kinds of jobs most people find degrading, despite the fact that to your face they will deny it), by your friends and family. Also a lot of people can't accept the downturn in their lives. That's how you get alcoholism, depression, drug abuse. It's much harder to wake up and say: I've failed all these years, I need to start over.
However, if you define poverty in absolute terms, then there is no fundamental reason why we cannot reach 100% non poverty. All that is necessary is for society to produce enough "stuff" that, when divided by the total population, is still greater than the poverty threshold.
In practice, the much harder problem is distributing that stuff such that everyone actually gets enough to put them beyond the poverty threshold. This is certainly a hard problem, but I don't see any reason to think that it is fundamentally unsolvable.
This is indeed how it is defined in many wellfare states eg in Europe.
"People are considered at risk of monetary poverty when their equivalised disposable income (after social transfers) is below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold. This is set at 60 % of the national median equivalised disposable income after social transfers."
There will always be poor people with this definition.
For example, in a country with ten people whose incomes are 7, 7, 8, 8, 10, 10, 12, 50, 47212 and 4000000000000000, there is no poverty after that definition (the median would be 10). As you can see, it doesn't even need to be a very egalitarian society!
In this case, median means "sorted by income, at which point have we divided the entire dataset in half". For a dataset with more than 2 elements (so 3 elements minimum), you can construct a dataset for which any below-100% of the median of the dataset is not represented in the dataset.
The easiest example would be using "99% of the median" and [9.999, 10, 11]. Median is 10, 99% of the median is 9.9, the smallest sample is 9.999.
60% of the median income basically means "the lowest 50% income bracket should not have more than 40% deviation". Or rather; the lowest possible income is bigger than 60% of the lowest earner of the top 50% of society.
As those jobs are automated, who will patronize those businesses? eg what fraction of McDonalds customers are high-income high-skill laborers vs lower-wage low-skill?
The companies will evolve or die as they always have if their customer base disappears.
Human cognitive abilities follow a normal distribution. Some low-skilled laborers never had an opportunity to reach their potential, others lack the capacity to perform higher skill jobs... and some people are incapable of even "low-skill" labor.
Is automation maintaining or reducing the number of jobs for less capable people? Are we slowly raising the unemployable-threshold?
Good thing it is not true at all, and has been debunked and ridiculed by economists over a century ago.
The Malthusian argument is a thermodynamic argument. If we grow without bound (either by number or per capita consumption) we will run out of resources like any other biological system.
The only thing that allows us to escape this is human's unique ability to transcend our biological nature - i.e. breed responsibly (Gd I hate that) and consume less.
Mainstream economics is enamored with boundless growth, therefore, we're on a crash course.
Human behavior is not thermodynamics. To the very least, the day were all the resources in the universe have been consumed by its living beings is so far away that it is absolutely irrelevant and inapplicable to our society.
Malthusian economics are garbage.
"Right, because food today is more expensive than food yesterday" Love the sarcasm, not the shallow argument (I appreciate that food is, seemingly, cheaper than yesterday).
Human behavior is not thermodynamics. Agriculture is. Food is cheaper today because:
1) N2 fixation thanks to Dr. Haber
2) Large scale potash mining and shipping.
3) Unsustainable use of other necessary agricultural inputs
Point 1) is fairly stable in the medium term (i.e. my daughter's potential children's life span ~ next 100 years to 400 years) because energy is cheap and effectively getting cheaper. Population won't grow too fast as to run out of energy, if it did we're really f.ed, and global energy use has stabilized and might decline.
Point 2), however, is a nasty one. Run out of potash, then you run out of K and therefore food production above carrying capacity. You can turn to (say) oceans to mine K, but that's expensive.
I appreciate the econ argument that "you can't run out of resources because the price goes up until you don't want to use them" but that ultimately trash. You won't go hungry, because you might afford a doubling in price of your groceries. It's the Ethiopian kids whose lives balance everything out.
Point 3) Acquirers are running out so, for example, California's agricultural production is in peril.
Are there alternatives that are more "sustainable"? Sure. But they all come with (an unknown to me) maximum carrying capacity.
As to human behavior not being modeled by thermo... that's irrelevant. People will shift preferences to eat lower quality, higher yield crops due to prices changes and all.
Of course those prices changes are (partly) due to... thermodynamics!
Look at Walmart, they aren't raising wages out of the goodness of their hearts, they need to raise wages to keep good employees. (and probably a little PR and politics too)
Why can’t minimum wage be raised to provide a better standard of living?
That’s why in some other countries, instead of a minimum wage, which is the government forcing businesses to pay a certain wage, the government itself makes up the difference between the actual wage and a desired wage. So if the government decides that everyone should earn at least $15/h but the market price for flipping burgers is only $10/h, the government itself will provide the additional $5/h. This effectively raises the standard of living without pressuring businesses and also without the adverse effects like pushing up prices or creating more unemployment.
Your explanation of what's going on at the micro level contradicts my experience as a business owner who's been signing paychecks for many years. All businesses have inefficiencies, and in general the larger the check, the more scrutiny the expense will receive. Internally this manifests as having higher expectations for a higher paid employee, and prioritizing automation, offshoring, or other business decisions when labor costs get too high. Externally, when we expand our relationship with a client, we fully expect that it will receive more scrutiny from various stakeholders at the company simply because the check getting written to us is bigger, even if we deliver proportionately more value.
Keeping minimum wage low is $153B/year "corporate welfare" check.
No, it also means those people are paid a liveable wage, as opposed to a pittance.
The lowest minimum wage I remember hearing about as a kid was $1.50/hr. I thought that sounded like a lot of money at the time, but I probably was not even 10 years old.
That would have been in the first half of the 1970's when the federal poverty line was around $2,500. So working full time, you'd make $3,000 or about 120% of the poverty level.
Today, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and the poverty level (2016) is $12,200. So still, a full-time minimum wage worker earns nearly 120% of the poverty level.
Source: Table 1, https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/income-p....
But jobs are just means to an end for most people. Why can't government aim to simply provide those ends?
The obvious counterargument is that the free market is more efficient. But the US government has shown itself to be very capable in providing some services to the entire country. The military has done a great job keep the country safe. There just doesn't seem to be the willpower to create the navy/army/airforce of food, shelter, healthcare and education.
I guess the issue is that it's hard to get elected if you promise to make things better 20 years from now.
I think you could interpret the US military's success despite "waste" to mean that a federal government can get away with a lot of inefficiency and still beat the "free market."
History already showed us what private military is like. I believe it's essentially feudalism and warlords. I.e. true poverty for 90% of the population. A powerful federal millitary that follows the laws of democratically elected officials gives people in the US historically unprecedented safety.
It's not clear to me why the federal government couldn't build a military-like organizations for addressing food, shelter, health care, and education.
The fundamental issue seems to be that the free market is the best means for deciding resource allocation towards those other goals. So why not simply implement UBI pegged to prices in LCOL areas?
There is a better answer - keep the minimum wage where it is until it becomes meaningless because of inflation and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit and make it easier for employers to pass it on to workers each month. They already take out taxes, it shouldn't be hard to do the opposite.
The EITC has historically been supported by both Republican and Democratic presidents.
That isn't poverty.
It's kind of like that. I coasted through most of my 20s, wasted a lot of time. I decided some years ago that I wanted to work as a dev, so I studied for a couple years and made it happen. But I have a large number of friends from early 20s to 40 (many of whom come from middle or upper-middle class families) that are perfectly happy coasting through life - they work in restaurants, bike shops, strip clubs, or take bouts of unemployment while on food stamps, etc. These are the urban equivalent of the trope of coal miners that refuse to learn new skills. Why are they like this? Because they are comfortable. You can live and be perfectly happily in a major city on 25k/year, living with roommates and on/off government assistance (though you'll never save money or advance). I'd raise the minimum wage significantly to help battle some of this (food stamps or housing assistance for people that work is corporate welfare in my eyes). But much change must come from within, and we have to find a way to motivate people.
So yes, help the poor - by providing education, healthcare, and time and opportunity to learn new skills when they are unemployed. But everything should be designed to encourage people to learn and contribute productively to society. No, it's not easy to make money, no, it's REALLY not easy to become comfortable, and yes, it's really, really difficult to become wealthy for 99% of people. But it's everyone's responsibility to try to contribute to society and we owe it to ourselves to strive for more.
You would be incorrect. I'm right here, a real person, with real experiences.
"You read the parent comment and think the poor and just lazy and all your have to do is work yourself a slave and suck corporate dick."
I assume your trying to say "the poor `are` just lazy" and that wasn't what I said or was trying to say.
To the contrary, I think it's much harder to dig yourself out of a hole once your in it. In my case, during that period, I went from working in a high-rise to applying at Jack-in-the-Box because it was the only thing within walking distance and I couldn't even get that job.
I for one got lucky and found some opportunity, but that wasn't my point. My point was that, for me, hitting rock bottom, having a minimal safety net (i.e. not sleeping outdoors), was just enough for me to change my life perspective.
If you want to talk about your experiences or opinions, go for it, but don't dismiss mine as "propaganda".
Survival bias is always going to be strong here.
I also know people who are doing poorly and a good deal of them (not all!) are that way through poor choices (and would admit it).
Of course I also know people who are doing poorly through no fault of their (poor health, caretaker burden, etc). For those folks I'm glad we social programs to help them.
That's a pretty bad thing to say without knowing for sure.
Source: Table 1, https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/income-p...
So you are calling redm a liar. Do you have anything to back up that accusation? Or are you calling them a liar purely because it suits your poorly-constructed narrative?
> When we all know statistically America is worse than ever before.
"We all know..." is false. What you mean is probably more along the lines of "This is what I think, without having done any research to support my wild claim."
> You read the parent comment and think the poor and just lazy
Where did the GP call the poor lazy?
> and all your have to do is work yourself a slave and suck corporate dick.
> Nope, it's always the corporate stooge.
Why are you accusing redm of being a 'corporate stooge'?
But does that mean I deserve that experience? Should I be put in a situation where I have to fight to survive? I think that is unreasonable.
There exist better motivations. I am capable of work that is much more attractive to me than entry-level labor jobs. The idea that I am less valuable as a person because I am dependent; or that I ought to be compelled by my social situation to do stressful unfulfilling work does not sit well with me. That is where I strongly disagree with Sen. Hatch.
We are capable as a society of helping more than the most destitute. We should promote individual liberty, so that people can do work they are passionate about. I don't believe that those living on welfare should be compelled to do work that they have no desire to do. We should instead work to provide them opportunity and counsel so that they can find their passion and follow it.
Taxation is theft, but the current Republican party (including Sen. Hatch) has used that as an excuse to push an agenda that works against those who are barely getting by, while working for those who have inherited obscene amounts of wealth. That, in my opinion, is worse than the theft itself.
I don't understand how you can hold this view in light of what you said before that paragraph. How do you suppose we come up with creative solutions to social problems, and of helping the destitute and others, without any wealth or income? Our taxes are what fund those programs.
I believe taxation is theft, but that that fact is no excuse for allocating spending of tax dollars unwisely.
What the Republican Party, and many Libertarians seem to think is that because taxation is theft, anything that depends on taxation is immoral, and therefore taxes are free to be allocated immorally. That conclusion is fallacious, absurd, and malicious.
You can disagree with me on the fine point of taxes being immoral in the first place, but that is precisely not my point.
So your position is: Oh its stealing money, but lets spend the stolen money better?
> What the Republican Party, and many Libertarians seem to think is that because taxation is theft, anything that depends on taxation is immoral, and therefore taxes are free to be allocated immorally. That conclusion is fallacious, absurd, and malicious.
No they don't. Its a talking point that they've conveniently latched on to since you need to have a reason for doing the terrible things that they do without admitting it explicitly. I'll give them credit for exploiting the worst parts of individualism in the US to convince many (seemingly you included) of the "evil of taxation and government". But it is not an ideology that they believe in. Nor, I will point out, are any of their solutions backed by any kind of experience or evidence.
So your position is: If I find the source (taxation) to be unethical, I am not allowed to have any opinion on spending?
My point is that that is absurd.
> But it is not an ideology that they believe in
That is my point: It's a vain representation of ideology that is used as an excuse. You don't need to fight the ideology itself to understand that.
Rather than freaking out every time you read the phase "taxation is theft", maybe you could actually read what I am saying, and understand that we are in violent agreement on every other point.