I think the mentality is shifting a little as millenials and gen z are slowly letting go of the meritocratic myth, but blaming internal motivations more than context is a problem in the American conception of the world we still suffer from as a nation. The inability of us to accept that our actions are not the only determining things in our lives seriously limit our ability to fully comprehend the world and how it really works which leads us to thinking ideas like work requirements are actually sane rather than completely counterproductive.
My house is cluttered, mostly because I'm frugal and we live in a house that is a bit too small for our hobbies (art for me, music for the spouse, though we both dabble in the other). I have more money this way.
And honeslty, the only time I've really gotten crap for this type of thing is when I'm poor and honestly too freaking tired to do any of this stuff. THere is nothing quite like working for 8 hours, using feet for transportation, and not being able to actually feed yourself well enough to have energy nor keep your house warm enough in the winter to do much. (I kept multiple blankets on). It is really easy to just give up. I wouldn't have gotten anywhere without some help and getting really freaking lucky.
Many schools do not have a great library. That have a library adequate to the school needs. Being able to use said library at school is sometimes difficult. By the time I was in high school, the library was a rare treat in class. They weren't open after school. You could not go there during lunch. My senior year, the school I went to changed and sometimes you could go there during home room period. Before that, not really: It was only 15 minutes most times anyway.
Not everyone has a public library to use either, and even when you do, good luck. You might need transportation.
I will also assume you are talking about older children. Most 13-year olds just don't have a lot of maturity for what you describe. Perhaps a 16 or 17 year old, and hopefully they aren't so poor that they have to work to help support their family or take care of their younger siblings while their parents work.
All in all, it really kind of seems out of touch and looking from the outside in instead of the other way around.
I am as well. And have parents enabling this behavior, with an career outcome as bad as you could expect. I can totally understand that part of the political spectrum doesn't want to encourage this at all (favorable interpretation of them), even though they IMO often overshoot that goal and advance less optimal outcomes.
> I will also assume you are talking about older children. Most 13-year olds just don't have a lot of maturity for what you describe.
Your phrasing makes this seem like a natural fact. Finding ways to deeply engrave important values (work hard, strive for greatness, delayed gratification, stuff like that) into future generations seems like a real challenge right now. And what makes stories like  so interesting. Evolution doesn't take care of that job for us anymore in a "work or starve" way. Religious "work or go to hell" probably did an ok job for a while, but comes with a lot of other baggage. A very capitalistic "work if you want a decent live" society over many generations leads to increasingly unequal starting conditions for offspring and thus seems especially incompatible with democracy, since it will lead to "the system is rigged, lets burn it down" votes, as recently observed all over the western world.
So what's next? As mentioned in my prior anecdote, mostly letting your children do what they want, thinking this will naturally make them strive for greatness, will probably not work. What are the necessary environmental factors parents and society should provide to shape future humans into productive members of society? I'm sure with all our knowledge, mankind can do better than the earlier simple carrot & stick systems.
Just because the West is no longer hungry doesn’t mean that nobody is.
My comment was really more about brain development, maturity, puberty (and the hormones that go with it), and things like that. It doesn't mean they are lazy or anything like that at all. These things are learned, and these young people aren't even in high school.
"mostly letting them do what they want" isn't true now and I don't think that has ever been true. As far as what to do next, we can start by trying to make sure folks have stable households which include not only things like shelter, food, and medical care but also things like internet access. These things lessen the stresses that are an issue - being poor won't necessarily make you suffer.
Make sure kids have freedom to explore. Treat kids like they are intelligent (they are, just not mature) and teach what sort of work goes into getting things. Be realistic about what to expect out of life (for example, a chem degree might really wind up working in a lab somewhere). We could do things like showing kids how work and patience pays off by allowing "fun" subjects (arts, music, inclusive sports, "hobby" classes). Increases in freedoms as kids get older so they can experiment with some of their choices (Such as being able to have free contact with friends, choosing one's own classes, ability to not follow in the parent's religion). A 13 year old might not be mature enough to realise what to do to make their future better 15 years into the future, but these sorts of lessons can be taught so when the maturity catches up it'll come together.
(I should note that naturally, some kids are geared more towards some of the long-term planning than others and I cannot speak for all young folks, just what I notice).
You can escape poverty by buying lottery tickets too. Obviously it is all about the probabilities. But if you earn $10/hour (what kind of insane unlivable wage is that?) even if you work 16h/day you'll still be poor.
I think what a lot of us a eluding to, is that some people can work as much as they can, up to burnout, without ever reaching above the poverty line.
I think that would be basically fate for a minority group single mother with low education living in a poor neighbourhood. People could blame her for her life, but except if her kid is exceptional in some way, he/she would also be doomed to be poor, for instance.
This is true. But the fact that you're not fixed in your position and could live better is an incentive to keep moving. Thus if you don't stop at the person right above you then there's hope you can make the jump to a better living condition.
> I think what a lot of us a eluding to, is that some people can work as much as they can, up to burnout, without ever reaching above the poverty line.
Again, this is true. But whose fault? I think we could get rid of the concept of poverty line and let people decide for themselves. 2 person making $500/mo in California could be living different lives. It's possible for one of them to not consider themselves poor. But they're out of luck since their poverty status isn't defined by them. It's imposed by the state.
> I think that would be basically fate for a minority group single mother with low education living in a poor neighbourhood. People could blame her for her life, but except if her kid is exceptional in some way, he/she would also be doomed to be poor, for instance.
Story of my life. Illiterate parents, but committed to giving their children a better life. My believe that wealth is generational, that state should define a poverty line stems from this story of my life. It's less a matter of fate than decisions and commitment to exiting a terrible situation.
No offense, but this screams of ignorance. If you take into account the poverty tax , poor people pay more for many goods, have worse access to many services, and encounter much higher transaction costs to accomplishing normal life.
For example, if you are a single mother in Southside Chicago living in a food desert and far from the main L/Subway/Metro lines, then you take longer to commute to work, to go grocery shopping, to pick your kids up, etc. There are many additional costs to being poor that easily explain why they don't focus on "making their beds" or "organizing their place".
The Atlantic has a good article on decision fatigue and poverty "Your Brain on Poverty: Why Poor People Seem to Make Bad Decisions And why their "bad" decisions might be more rational than you'd think" that is worth a read .
I would argue here that you've confused correlation with causation.
Perhaps a minimum wage 60 hours/week worker just doesn't have the time or energy to make their bed, not an unwillingness. Maybe the poor conditions in a neighborhood are what make it affordable, not preferable. Etc.
That also matches rich kids going through college. It's hardly an indicator of anything in my opinion.
Being poor changes how you think and who you are.
We say that a blanket or jacket "is warm", even though all it's doing is trapping heat that we produce. We say a task "is difficult", even though we are the ones who are having the difficulty in completing it. We say an apple "is red" even if we know that the color we perceive is a property of how light interacts with the apple's matter.
And we often say that people "are poor" rather than "in poverty."
Language exists somewhere between representing the way we think, and affecting the way we think. Attributing poverty to an inherent property of a particular person, rather than their context, seems in line with how we speak (and perhaps think) about a lot of the world around us.
I think this is one reason it is so hard to fix social problems: because the first step must be a critical mass of people who can and will overcome a default way of thinking about the world.
Wealth and poverty for both society and the individual a generational. This generation lifts themselves to a height that makes life better for the next generation. One life time isn't enough to measure whether working hard will make you successful.
Being born into a well off standard is being born into generations of sacrifices and hard work. If the current generation doesn't work hard to maintain they will certainly make life harder for a few generations down the line.
This is a traditional, stereotypical belief that in order to escape poverty you have to work harder. This is old understanding of meritocracy and it's no longer valid. The new meritocracy is that you have to learn harder. And now, given all the learning resources available for free on the internet (which is also very accessible nowadays) it's probably the best time ever to self-educate.
Once in a while I walk past a person selling pens/begging for money in my neighborhood. I always wonder how much he could've learnt and improved his life if he spent his time on learning instead of sitting on a bench and begging for money. I have sympathy for people that are poor due to unbearable circumstances such as mental illness or disability. But I honestly don't understand why an otherwise capable person won't make an effort to self-educate in order to break out of poverty.
I disagree. Most mentally healthy people are capable of self-education. Self-education is what makes human a human. Being an adult person requires working self-education skill -- using public transit, bank services, mobile phones, internet, microwave ovens, TV sets, driving, etc -- all requires self-education to some extent. Getting professional skills is more difficult, but it just requires more effort, not a completely new skill.
Learning basic personal finance, or a skill, or learning to exercise, or reading about government services, learning cooking etc can go a great deal in fixing one's problems.
Education often involves learning something, its not always reading text books and writing exams.
Don't get me wrong I enjoy the benefits of a "good" job and I finished college to get where I am.
Or is this the same old trope with an extra step added?
This is the part you should be focusing on.
You've developed a model to explain why people live in poverty and how they can get out. Yet, as you can plainly see yourself, it doesn't actually jibe with reality.
You still need to cover your basic expenses, homeless or not.
That's a cute clip, but if you look at statistics you'll see Americans with less than a high school degree work on average 7.8 hours a day, and only 30% work on weekends and holidays.
30% is how many people?
What’s their schedule look like if they have kids too?
That’s a cute trick, using cold hard facts to normalize away bullshit
I personally work 2 full time jobs, I'm aware how scarce free time can get. I'm certainly not saying that everyone can do it on their own either. Just that cost is a very weak barrier to knowledge and that I agree you need to learn your way out of poverty.
I'm also a big proponent of basic income exactly for the reasons above, but I think the core idea is well founded. Hard work at a job (or two jobs) doesn't usually get you out of a shitty job, where as learning enough to get a better job does.
1) had a job
2) had access to the internet
now trying learning anything for free online when you don't have money for food because you're jobless and don't have access to the internet because you don't have money for that either.
For (2) as I said: libraries are free, coffee shops are free. hotel lobbies are free, heck some whole areas have free Wi-Fi. Internet is very easy to find.
I'll be the first to admit I had a good education, caring and supportive family, and my story would be different and harder without them, but I can't imagine a world that I didn't try to learn something new each day.
Again though, people always try and compare the worst. The solution for someone without a living wage job is a society that doesn't allow that to happen and is a different argument IMO. Getting out of abject poverty is very different than getting out of poverty / being poor.
That said, for someone homeless and jobless, time IS their greatest resource, so learning can be a useful resort. Further no one said they had to do it on their own. The main premise here is that learning is better than hard work for increasing your station. I think that's true regardless of feasibility.
I don’t think you’re giving this enough weight. I went to a small unknown state college and got a degree in CS. The CS curriculum was horrible. My saving grace, was that I had been a hobbyist programmer since the mid 80s when my parents bought me my first computer. When I graduated in the mid 90s, I knew I wanted to get out of the small town I grew up in. My choices were to move to a slightly larger city and developing using technology that was already out of date, but would have provided me a salary to support myself, or moving to the major metro area where I still live not making nearly enough to support myself as a computer operator based on an internship that I had the previous year.
There was no way that I could have chosen that job if I my parents hadn’t already bought me a car, paid for insurance, paid my moving expenses, and help me pay my other bills for the first six months.
I “worked hard” but I didn’t have to work two jobs to support myself.
There was another guy who graduated with me, who was just as smart, but didn’t have parents that could help him. He had to get a job in the same place that I avoided like the plague. He’s still working there 20 some years later.
When you're working a double shift to put food on the table, it's really hard to learn an extra skill set (e.g. programming) and make time to build up a resume on github (or whatever).
The cost isn't really located in the act of "buying" education.
Not everyone is going to be able to find a well-paying tech job. How many times have you come onto this forum seeing active HNers who are tech-literate and have a history of programming employment complain that they cannot find a job?
Look at your neighbors.. everyday people like your grocer or mechanic or mailperson.. Take a look outside your bubble. Not everyone is going to be able to be fluent in tech even with great effort. It's not so much that it's impossible, but that's it's incredibly unrealistic.
The only reason I've been able to work as a programmer is because I lucked into it. I got hooked when I was 12 or so because I found it fun. I had plenty of time and enjoyed it. If I had to do it all over today out of desperation I'm not sure I could will myself to do something completely foreign and uninteresting.
I think you take for granted the knowledge foundation that you were given.
That said, making good decisions isn't sufficient, especially when you're trying to claw your way out of deep poverty.
You need more than just hard word. You need the opportunity to do the right kind of hard work, which many people lack.
A person still has to work an uphill run everyday until they reach some financial break through .
Also don't overlook that America is also supposed to be a country of redemption and second chances, and that we as a society derive strength from that. We foster risk-taking, and we don't throw away people who seriously screw up - but rather capitalize on the fact that those who have overcome serious mistakes often become formidable humans. This is one of the bright spots of American culture, lets not throw it away for the cheap thrill of standing in self-righteous judgment.
>We foster risk-taking, and we don't throw away people who seriously screw up
These are things some Americans would like to be true, but are actually far from true, and far from universally supported. America IS a cruel society in many ways. Many Americans blame the poor for being poor, and do not support any form of public assistance. The nation does "throw away" people who screw up - the nation has a high incarceration rate.
Don’t be sexist. She has agency. She has responsibility. She made her bed and now she lies in it. People with your paternalistic condescending thought process are ultimately what holds people like Vanessa back in society in the first place. Don’t take away her agency. She’s responsible for any decisions she’s made, good or bad. And 99% of her 16yr old female peers know that having a kid at 16 is a “ bad decision.” It’s literally sexist as fuck to suggest she was somehow stupid enough or irresponsible enough not to know what she was getting into. Vanessa KNEW she was making a “bad decision” and she CHOSE to make it anyway. Stop pretending like she didn’t choose it. Stop pretending like she has no agency. Stop being sexist. Thank you
To many people having a family is the #1 thing you know, the 'economics' are in support of that.
The only kind of children society should encourage is those in stable financially-secure families.
People who make bad decisions will often go without resources. Society thus diverts resources to people who make good decisions. Things work better this way, with much less waste. We get more messed up families if government pays people to have messed up families.
I don't think that "she mothered too young". There is nothing wrong with age 16. The problem is instead that she didn't first find a suitable husband to support her family.
If you're just into shaming people for bad decisions, I'm not.
By sarcastically pretending that this 16-year-old made an affirmative choice to become a parent, the parent is actually trying to shame her for having sex as a teenager.
This goes directly to the heart of the article's point. Rather than confront a system that places some people at a disadvantage (lack of access to birth control or childcare), it's easier to insinuate that a person's hard life is solely the result of their own bad decisions.
I've been around to see people over decades, and how their decisions affect their lives. Meritocracy is not a myth. Where people wind up is very much a consequence of their choices.
This isn't the Soviet Union where one is assigned a career, a job and an apartment.
I've seen immigrants arrive here with nothing and become millionaires. That's why everyone wants to come to America. The opportunity is here.
Choices is not the same as skills. Meritocracy is about merit, not choices.
>It's the whole point of all the education available to Americans, most of it free. Choose it, or not. Heck, you can even get an MIT education for free over the internet. It's up to you.
It's only free if your time is worthless.
Else you have opportunity costs. Which are not just monetary (e.g. needing to work long hours to put food on the table) but human too (e.g. tending to a sick relative or raising your kid).
One could still study after his shift flipping burgers for their "MIT education for free over the internet". But they'd still be left without an actual MIT degree, and even following that free education will be much harder than the average HN commenter whose parents splurged for their education.
If a person is poor, and they still think sparing an hour watching a Ivy League university lecture(that can vastly increase their opportunity range) isn't worth your time, they have far bigger problems related to entitlement.
>>Else you have opportunity costs.
And there they have a choice. Which opportunity is more important to one's life?
>>and even following that free education will be much harder than the average HN commenter whose parents splurged for their education.
There is often a huge space between Homelessness and being a billionaire.
You can always start doing work that is better than flipping burgers. And I don't any one will contest the fact that it will take a person years before they reach 6 figure salaries.
Again, even an entry level QA job could pay you better than flipping burger and you can work from there.
Compared to working to put food on the table?
Not to mention that after back-to-back shifts, your ability to take in a Ivy League university lecture diminishes compared to somebody whose parents pay for their college...
And that's assuming you even have the necessary background in your underfunded school district and impoverished childhood to seek it and understand it in the first place....
But we also have lots of studies showing that the best of the lowest socioeconomic class almost never do better than the laziest of the uppermost socioeconomic class.
Could you point me to one? I've seen a number of studies on averages, and anecdotally, this contradicts my experience, so I'd be interested in whatever data you're referring to.
Edit: in fact, the Wikipedia article directly contradicts your claim, saying "Looking at larger moves, only 4% of those raised in the bottom quintile moved up to the top quintile as adults. Around twice as many (8%) of children born into the top quintile fell to the bottom" - suggesting that the best of the underprivileged are far more successful than the laziest of the over-privileged.
Percentages hides values:
"However, because US income inequalities have increased substantially, the consequences of the "birth lottery" - the parents to whom a child is born - are larger today than in the past. US wealth is increasingly concentrated in the top 10% of American families, so children of the remaining 90% are more likely to be born at lower starting incomes today than the same children in the past. Even if they are equally mobile and climb the same distance up the US socioeconomic ladder as children born 25 years earlier, the bottom 90% of the ladder is worth less now, so they gain less income value from their climb ... especially when compared to the top 10%."
And, those who fall from the top quintile are likely starting at the 80% point and not the 95% point.
My ancestors came here because life in the "Old Country" was so bad that braving the crossing of the Atlantic in cattle class on a ship, coming through Ellis Island, finding out that working in New York wasn't much better, and finally landing in the steel mills and coal mines of Western Pennsylvania was a step UP--but not by much.
Those same ancestors also stood in front of bullets from Pinkertons because that was preferable to allowing their working conditions to continue.
The fact that immigrants move is generally a sign of how shitty the place they are leaving is, not necessarily a sign of how good their destination is.
"While the total number of migrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border is near its lowest level since the early 1970s,
the number of apprehended unaccompanied children and families is again on the rise after a dramatic drop in the months following Trump’s inauguration.
This is a vulnerable population who, for the most part, are deliberately seeking out U.S. border security authorities and asking for protection. Affirmative requests for asylum of individuals from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras have increased by 25 percent in fiscal year 2017 compared to 2016.
These people are fleeing for a reason. As White House Chief of Staff John Kelley once put it, the mass migration of children from Central America to the U.S.-Mexico border primarily consists of “[parents that] are trying to save their children.” The countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are facing unparalleled levels of violent crime, with El Salvador and Honduras ranking among the top five most violent countries in the world."
That doesn't make much sense if the US is a hell-hole of capitalism grinding people into poverty (as immigrants usually have little).
In 2016, 1.49 million immigrants came to the US. The median age is 44, so they're hardly all children.
Meanwhile, an awful lot more want to come but can't get in legally.
> This is the most ridiculous proof that America is the land of opportunity I can imagine.
People run to opportunity, not away from it.
A lot of the planet is just terrible. Of the places that aren't terrible many wont let you just sneak in and make a living if you live a cash and carry lifestyle.
At best you can prove that the US is viewed as better than their current abode by people that don't live here.
This is the definition of damning with faint praise.
For example, you can get an MIT education for free on youtube, you can open a business on github for free, you can get funding for free from kickstarter, you can advertise for free on reddit, you can reach a worldwide market for free via the internet, you can write and sell a book on Amazon for free, and on and on. Nobody needs to know your age, gender, ethnicity, religion, location, disability, marital status, etc.
There's never been such opportunity, right here anywhere in America.
"But we also have lots of studies showing that the best of the lowest socioeconomic class almost never do better than the laziest of the uppermost socioeconomic class."
The entire point is that there is inequality of opportunity and unequal return on equal potential not that there isn't opportunity.
If you recall the post I replied to you said
"So why do penniless immigrants keep coming here? Do they know something poor people in America don't, or are they simply misinformed?"
This is terrible logic. This is a wealthy nation with lots to offer but people here have actual problems here too. You are glibly dismissing these actual problems with bad logic which personally makes me very angry. Who the heck are you.
Imagine if someone was talking about how racism was still a problem in America and you piped in with how your black doctor friend's practice was doing great and people shouldn't let negatives become a self fulfilling prophesy.
Well no shit but what we were actually talking about was inequality in America which we can actually do something about.
From the individual's prospective whatever society does the individual ought to do the best they can and for many decent lives await in spite of challenges. From the perspective of society we ought to try to maximize everyone's chances as best we can.
That looks an awful lot like a meritocracy.
* does not apply if you or your children get shot by the police for being the wrong shade of brown, maimed by unsafe working conditions associated with low-skilled labour, get sacked because you ask for a raise, etc.
Police kill ~1000 people per year in the US and roughly half are white. While there is an inarguabale disparity there, that means your chances of getting shot by police are extremely, vanishingly rare. And the numbers killed each year is in steep decline. Let's abandon the fear mongering rhetoric of getting shot by police is any real threat. It makes good headlines but it's just not likely to happen to 99.9999% of people no matter their "shade of brown" as you say.
There are more worker protections, more systemic empowerment of people in all classes, all genders, all faiths, all backgrounds than ever in history. There's a lot of work to be done and the system is by no means equal. Wealth disparity is real. But the fact is there's more learning resources available for free with which to bootstrap yourself than ever. As someone descended from hard working immigrants who valued education, and who is part of an incredibly racially diverse family, I don't think it's a crap deal at all.
As an aside, when the word "meritocracy" was coined, it wasn't considered a good thing. It was a bad thing.
If things keep going like this, those millionares will soon have to build their own fortress cities to keep all the undesirable and disgruntled poor people away.
The fact that poor people come to the US doesn't prove anything either, 99,(9)% of them will never be millionares, just like most people won't.
Which policies hurt the poor and middle class the most?
Our housing policies, our immigration policies, our trade policies, and our anti-family policies.
Where I am, the good and the bad, is nearly entirely the sum of my choices. For example, if you floss or not eventually has a large effect on your health. Ditto for the amount you choose to drink, smoke, and exercise. Where you choose to live, who you choose to marry, who you pick for friends, what you do with your free time, do you work to excel in school or do just enough to squeak by, what major do you select in college, it just goes on and on.
When millions can barely do it, the political and business classes fucked up and they need to fix it. That's the point of goverment, they can tackle systemic issues.
Who told you poor people are capable of as good choices as richer people?
When you live life in easy mode is easy to make the right choices.
It's also easy to see some people who managed to play in hard mode and win, and extrapolate to everybody (especially if you don't account for lucky breaks and mitigating factors in their course).
But because a handful managed to win in hard mode, it doesn't make it as easy as those who play in easy mode, nor it makes it any more statistically possible for the masses to win the hard mode gameplay they were dealt.
>Where I am, the good and the bad, is nearly entirely the sum of my choices.
(One is even tempted to wish upon people saying hat a couple some serious accident or decease that kills their savings or takes their job, or puts them into depression, or have them tend to another family member, and such, to see whether their tune will remain the same...)
You don’t have to go back many generations to see that compared to today almost everyone played on hard mode.
Hard mode is comparable across the same game. Those in 1800 played 1800s game, those in Nigeria play the Nigerian game, etc.
You wouldn't consider it much of a success if a person with huge work, skills, and effort got themselves to 1800-era middle class possessions TODAY, would you?
Our ancestors struggled in a much harsher world and got us to a point where we can enjoy easy mode.
Why can’t the poorest Americans do the same?
They struggled in an era of economic upward momentum, much mobility, job creation, with a population boom, and when the US emerged as global leader. And from 30s to 70s, in a much more labor and working class friendly climate, when lots of protections and rights were established (the 8-hour work day, pensions, minimum wages, equal rights for women and foreign workers, work safety, etc).
Not on an era of stagnant wages, job outsourcing, automation, over-concentration of money to too few hands, precariousness, eroded labour rights, when other countries emerge as global leaders, and so on.
When playing life's levels, it's not just the conditions you meet that matter, it's the momentum of the whole game environment too. If the game environment constantly upgrades, gives you more guns, ammo, etc, it's easier than playing easier initial conditions but seeing very slow or negative game environment progress.
The first step in making better choices is to realize that one is making choices.
In other words, you "make" decisions only partially, and your choices are shaped by your status in life, before your conscious self can "chose".
Having been born in a developing countries and went to US for university and work sometime there, I can say that US minimum salary and the other related perks are already significantly way better of most of emerging countries.
Likewise, people know that getting pregnant at 16 is not a great life plan. But the fundamentalist right have been campaigning for decades to control women's reproduction, including to prevent sexual health education, prevent contraception, and to deny access to abortion.
Lack of a social safety net (including health care) means that if you get a few bad breaks you could be living in your car with your kids. Essential medicine (like insulin) which should only cost a few dollars actually costs someone on minimum wage all their disposable income.
Saying that its better than a developing economy misses the point, the US is one of the richest countries in the world, and ordinary people are systematically taken advantage of by their own system of government. It's just tragic.
That will do far more for the children of the future than anything else.
The real question is: why won't America care about children?
America has a significant social safety net, but should responsible citizens pay for the upkeep of someone who has multiple children out of wedlock before the age of 20 without any means to support those children? Absolutely not.
People must take responsibility for their own actions.
Well, the grasshopper's parents couldn't get a bank loan because they were PoC so they had poor investment options, missed out on promotions for similar reasons. Grasshopper got arrested for standing on the street while black and spent 2 months in jail because he didn't have a spare $10k for bond, and lost his job, even though charges were dropped. Ms grasshopper got sick while pregnant and had to pay $30k in hospital fees with an expensive loan. Loss of income meant they couldn't service the loan and they declared bankruptcy. Now they can't get credit for decades. Meanwhile the ant went to college and gets a good job, maximum access to tax breaks, social mobility etc.
So yeah, the poor choice to be born disadvantaged. Seriously, go back to your troll hole.
But somehow I think you meant we should improve the lot of the parents in the hope that that would help the kids.
(1) choose a better school district, i.e. buy or rent housing in a more expensive location -- not applicable to poor parents
(2) read with their young kids; help older kids with homework -- requires time and a good enough living situation and enough education of the parents. Encouraging reading to kids is one of the top parent-education strategies being tried. The amount of help a parent can provide is limited by their own education level and time availability.
(3) Provide a stable environment where kids have good food, space to work quietly and access to books and computers -- this can be hard to impossible for the poor!
(4) transport kids to school every day -- most families in the US are expected to transport kids to neighborhood schools. For the poor, this means walking regardless of weather. In bad weather, attendence of the poor is way down, understandably.
(5) extracurriculars -- other than in-school sports, these typically require fees, parents to drive kids places, and parental time. Not possible for many poor families.
Your anecdote doesn’t really mean much. “Significantly way better” is apparently still not enough.
Similar to why food stamps are cheaper than food education. The administrative burden is prohibitively expensive.
Let’s not consider the thesis at hand here; jobs aren’t the answer. That flies in the face of our corporate sponsored religion.
Of course believing that inherently threatens your status.
This site should best stick to discussion of technology. Whenever social topics come along, the community quickly reveals its ignorance of reality for the majority, and knee jerk defense of its status quo
Maybe take some money out of military spending? Educate the population, the economy soars, and then you can re-increase the military budget 30 years down the line.
But when a person of 16 makes a life altering decision, and we shrug our shoulders and say "they should have known better".
I'm not sure most parents, Vanessa included, don't know that education is important to their children's future. She likely lacks the opportunity to send her children to a school where they would receive a good education.
> 2. Educate people to not have kids before they're financially and emotionally ready.
I would argue that most people look at having children in terms of opportunity cost. If you're wealthy and have a good career, you tend to put off having children or have fewer children. That's why the birth rate is so low in developed countries compared to that of the developing world.
People love to tell me I'm insensitive but I say the community needs to step up and do it part to help raise the children. We won't do that. We harp on about "personal responsibility".
I think most* people who don't already have children (me included) should elect to not have children in the current situation. There is no benefit to having children in the west. We don't care after our parents. How can we expect our children to provide care for us? It makes no sense to have children on am individual level. Yes, a shrinking population can wreak havoc to GDP growth rate but what is this GDP growth doing for people out of work and unable to afford health care in Wisconsin?
There is a stigma associated with not having children. It needs to go away. It needs to be the norm and not the exception to have zero children.
I'm 100% on board with this. You can make a lot of mistakes in your life and still pull yourself up if you're unencumbered by marriage and kids. I know from personal experience. I was deep in debt and making poor life decisions in my twenties. It took until until my thirties to get my act together. It was hard, but would have probably been impossible if I had kids to worry about providing for. I'd even say that if you are financially able to support a family, I'd still wait until I get through my twenties before starting. With life expectancy up, there's no reason one can't wait.
> It needs to be the norm and not the exception to have zero children.
I get where you're coming from, and I don't look down on anyone who chooses to never have children, but I don't agree on this point. I know quite a few people who have chosen this lifestyle. I thought for a long time I'd never have kids as well. But now that I do, I couldn't imagine not having any. I think it's more important to wait until you're emotionally mature and financially secure enough to do it. If it's not for you, by all means, don't have kids. Being on the other side of it now, though, I can say that it's quite a transformative experience.
>> financially secure
I think the point of the article is that based on the current trajectory, a big chunk of the population will never get there.
I just searched this on Google:
> According to a 2016 GOBankingRates survey, 35 percent of all adults in the U.S. have only several hundred dollars in their savings accounts and 34 percent have zero. Only 15 percent have over $10,000 stashed away.
As an aside, my wife and I are good friends with a couple who only recently let us know that the husband (single earner for the family) has been unemployed since last year, and that they were completely broke and on assistance programs. We were floored, we had no idea, but in hindsight it explained some behaviors we'd witnessed. Anyways, I mention it because they have two young kids, and are trying to have another one. I just can't fathom how, given what they're going through, that having another child is in any way a sensible decision.
It's a sad state of affairs we find ourselves in. Housing prices are astronomical, healthcare costs keep increasing, all while wages remain stagnant. I have great empathy for what people are going through. I'm always mindful that you never know what can happen, one major health issue and it can all go away.
Something has to give. Perhaps people like me will offset others who want multiple children staying at home.
The meta is that in general people will want fewer children if they are better off. Does that mean poor people will have more children by design? Does that mean we can never get rid of poverty?
In fact, the US is at or very near the worst among OECD countries in all of the following, and is much closer to Developing countries than Developed countries: infant mortality, child poverty, child health and safety, life expectancy at birth, healthy life expectancy, rate of obesity, disability-adjusted life years, doctors per 1000 people, deaths from treatable conditions, rate of mental health disorders, rate of drug abuse, rate of prescription drug use, incarceration rate, rate of assaults, rate of homicides, income inequality, wealth inequality, and economic mobility. 
Also, there will always be some worse off country to say "look it could be worse, see how lucky you are?" I think that is such a disingenuous and irrelevant point.
This might sound harsh, but I do think it's better of for her to hand her children over to foster care or something. Having to support 3 kids with such salary is just too much for her. What I was proposing was "how to prevent future Vanessa"
With the Federal minimum wage currently at $7.25/hr, that’s just $15k/year at full-time. That puts many minimum wage workers below many countries’ average wages . But that’s before adjusting for purchasing power parity.
Being a single earner on minimum wage effectively guarantees you and your family will be in poverty in the US. That is effectively not true in most countries in Europe, even the poor ones. You don’t get to live well or anything, but you certainly aren’t planning on poverty.
 California, and San Francisco in particular, have a higher minimum wage but also higher expenses. Worse, many low-education workers are waitresses, which often have a “tipped minimum wage” as low as $2.15/hr before tips (again, San Francisco doesn’t do this, but it’s expensive to live here).
Inevitably, the market for unskilled labor is an employer market because there will always be a supply of workers unless each and everybody has a job. However skilled somebody is, if he doesn't find a job in his profession, he falls back onto the unskilled labor market in every other profession.
It is correct that minimum wage prevents the existence of some jobs. But it ensures higher wages for all of the unskilled workers who create more value and who are not replaced by a lower bidder.
The jobs that create less value than minimum wage are still available for freelancers. Companies have to buy them as a product or service.
Minimum wage helps software developers to take away jobs from low skilled workers (because it forces employers to automate low-paying jobs).
Most of workers are hurt by minimum wage limit. The higher minimum wage limit is - the more workers are hurt by it.
It does NOT matter if job market is "employer market" or "candidate market". The impact of "minimum wage limit" increase is the same: lower skilled workers lose their jobs to software developers and other higher skilled workers.
However, every other job can be continued. Why should people be fired if employers can still make a profit? Minimum wage is like a hidden union that ensures that unskilled workers don't outbid themselves.
In the situation when employer is forced to pay more -- he, usually, would benefit more if he hires more qualified person (for that higher rate of pay). So less qualified (but cheaper) worker will be fired (or not hired in the first place, if you consider long-term effects of minimum wage increase).
Regardless of the correct level before causing a crowding out of employment, what do you believe the purpose of having a minimum wage is (if not to prevent poverty)? Why not just let the market decide?
Edit: I mean this seriously, and don’t intend it as an attack. I’m (personally) unclear on the perceived purpose of the minimum wage.
Edit 2: like many folks, my “we’ve never come close to it” is influenced by http://www.nber.org/papers/w4509 and similar studies, and I’m aware of the opinions that the study was flawed or doesn’t generalize (e.g., https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/timworstal...).
- Many states have a higher minimum wage, so the BLS reports are annoying. They do strictly less-than-or-equal rather than also including “nearby” or even “minimum in state”, making the overall percentage fairly low. I’m guessing data for “What percentage of the labor force makes less than $15/hr” would be more helpful, but is too far from the current minimum wage to be a reasonable discussion.
- Anecdotally, informal labor is driven by workers without the right to work (whether due to immigration status or otherwise). So I don’t think it’s reasonable to suggest that people would suddenly end up below minimum wage; the more likely outcome is as others have suggested: companies will raise prices (keeping the job), invest in automation (removing the job), or both.
Minimum wage is insufficient yet to put all population into poverty.
If we increase minimum wage to, say, $100/hour, then 99% of population would be not able to find any jobs [that pay minimum wage or more] and that would, effectively, put 99% of population into poverty.
With current $7.25/hr minimum wage only few percent of population cannot find jobs because they do not have enough skills to get minimum wage job.
What are some optimal tax rates? What are the target individual finances (food, housing, retirement, etc)? What should government spend money on?
I manifestly do not care what the absolute values are for minimum wage, fees, various tax rates, government spending, etc.
I do care about fairness, equal opportunity, rule of law, and empowerment. I care that people can feed and educate their kids, grow old, and play with their grandkids.
I want a SimCity for IRL policy.
Policy makers first simulate their proposals. Then repeat their experiments in the real world.
First a little, then a lot.
Hypothesis, experiment, evaluate. Rinse, lather, repeat.
As circumstances change and new ideas crop up, better strategies displace old strategies.
We're geeks. We should be thinking about this stuff systematically. Lead by example.
The other states just have to find a reason to can them so i imagine its "somewhat" more difficult.
A lot of States (or maybe cities) have much much higher minimum wages for servers than my state. California, Las Vegas, and maybe New York pay higher than the $2.
- Agreed on the single earner families on minimum wage guaranteed to be in poverty. But, pointing somewhere else and saying "It's better there!" seems off to me. Pick a specific policy and advocate for it. Higher minimum wage? Guaranteed housing? Universal basic income?
I explicitly didn’t want to make this comment about advocating for a policy, but first to make sure we’re all on the same page: the US minimum wage isn’t enough to get by on. I should have added that a huge portion of the labor force is at or near this rate, except again I’m on my phone, so I couldn’t back that with the precise number.
Since you asked, I’m one of the Basic Income folks :).
Depends on where in the US you live.
Interest rate targeting uses an unemployment buffer to keep wages and therefore prices under control. Poverty for those in work is entirely part of the plan.
To fix the poverty problem you need to fix the structural viewpoint and return to the Beveridge condition - everybody must have an alternative living wage job offer available to them so that job competition works properly in favour of people. There must always be more jobs available than people that want them, not slightly fewer.
But that then runs into what Kalecki called "The Political Aspects of Full Employment" - a recommended read if you haven't already: https://mronline.org/2010/05/22/political-aspects-of-full-em...
Truly a 'wicked problem' - tied up with the concept of power
Even at 5% unemployment, your condition can be satisfied. For example, jobs might be unfilled because the candidates are unwilling to move. The candidates might be unqualified... shall we hire a random person as a brain surgeon? There could be a dozen job openings per person, and still the unemployment rate remains above zero.
As you move toward 0% unemployment, you push harder and harder against the problem of unsuitable workers. Reaching 0% is a bit like traveling at the speed of light: it is an unreachable goal, with difficulty rising dramatically as you get close.
I know you've chosen this because you think it's a reductio ad absurdum counterxample, but really, if the market is desperately short of brain surgeons, you might think it would create more, cheaper places at medical schools.
Medicine is a uniquely restrictive market, hemmed in by legal protections and a labor guild system, but some version of this dynamic is operating in many sectors of the American economy: Companies refuse to pay for training, then whine that they can't find suitable candidates.
This may differ by country, but you typically only show up in the numbers if you were fired. After all, if you quit your job, you aren't involuntarily unemployed, which is what the numbers are supposed to measure.
How often do people get fired? I remember reading numbers of every 20 years on average (don't have the source handy, I'm afraid), but let's call it every 10 years to make it conservative.
In a situation of true full employment, with a plethora of employers looking for employees, at least low to medium skill workers should be able to find a new job basically immediately -- within a week perhaps. Let's be conservative again and call it two months.
This means people are unemployed for two months every 10 years on average, which translates to ~1.7% frictional unemployment. That's way less than the 5% number you cite.
In fact, several industrialized nations saw unemployment rates below 1% for some time between the Second World War and the 1970s. In other words, achieving well below 2% unemployment rate is absolutely realistic.
If you convert the delta to the 5% number you cite to the US workforce, you get about 5 million people. 5 million people who are suffering simply due to political ideology.
On a more political level, I think it's important to keep in mind that the current situation (where people misleadingly talk about full employment even for unemployment rates much higher than 2%) is very beneficial to employers, because it greatly strengthens their bargaining position. Now add the fact that the majority of funding for economics think tanks is aligned with employer interests, and it's clear why the public discourse may be somewhat skewed and biased towards accepting inhumanely high rates of unemployment.
We're discussing the US here, and for the US this is not correct: https://www.bls.gov/cps/cps_htgm.htm#unemployed
Or, if the dogs are intelligent, they could split those 19 bones to 20 pieces...
Let's assume you are talking about sharing, as that's what the original point was about. Specifically the sharing of 19 bones among 20 dogs, by dividing up the bones.
Assumign by 'naive' you mean wrong, are you saying that it is simply a more optimal situation for one dog to go hungry?
Does the one dog always go hungry, or does one dog (but a different one each time) go hungry?
Do we just let the one dog go hungry each time intentionally, so that in future no dog goes hungry? What if then one day there are only 18 bones for 19 dogs? Do we let that dog die too?
What if a group of 18 dogs is required to take down an animal that provides enough bones, but we let the two other dogs die because sharing is naive?
Well, that pretty fundamentally calls into question rather a lot of all the principles civilisation is founded upon and which permeate nature, even (nature!).
So you better provide some amazing scientifically backed proof of that statement. No, Atlas Shrugged is not scientific proof.
The dog can die. It isn't my problem.
What am I saying people should do?
Once there are only 19 dogs left, the number of bones will simply be reduced to (slightly more than) 18, because the prevailing ideology is that there must be 5% unemployment. (This is greatly simplified, of course, but that's the gist of it.)
Eventually you'll stop being lucky. And in any case, it's not always the same dog who gets unlucky. So yes, it is your problem, or at least it will be.
Then you'll get used to share your 5% , after some time he'll want to have 6.75% and you'll think- well , compared to 5% additional 1.75% is nothing for my safety!
After some time other dogs will start to look with keen eyes on lazy dog lifestyle.
Considering the number of times this has happened in human history, any ideas of kingly invincibility you may have are unlikely to be realistic.
Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. It's the nature of any gamble, and life certainly is one.
Conflict is adverted, and every dog continues to work together, as they all feel like participants in a mutually beneficial relationship between themselves as individuals, and the group as a whole.
You still haven't made a point.
Is the intelligent action the action that is most likely to benefit the group?
Is a group of 20 fed dogs stronger than a group of 20 dogs where one goes hungry and becomes a weak or unstable element?
Seems like you're just trying to somehow rally against equality and/or sharing, by associating them with naivité, like you have some knowledge others do not, because you don't like those words, rather than trying to actually discuss the concepts they represent, specifically in this context, properly.
You don't 'give away' resources, they are transformed into other resources. Would you give up the ability to own seven cars for the knowledge that you'll never live under a bridge, no matter what? Many people would.
We are a social species that attained our dominant position on the planet through co-operation.
All complex life on earth exists because of cooperation. Competition drives some feature drift, but the biggest step changes happened because of the increase in complexity made possible by cooperation.
The example I've come across was of musical chairs. If there are 3 seats and 10 people, no matter what, some people will be out of luck.
I find it strange reading all the "get an education" or "don't have babies out of wedlock" attacks. If everyone in the country got PhDs, we still have the same level of poverty. If everyone married and then had babies, we'd still have the same level of poverty.
Lets say every american went to medical school and become doctors. You know what we'd have? A lot of doctors in poverty. If everyone became a software developer like me, we'd have hordes of poor developers.
The dominant economic system ( quasi mercantilistic capitalism with some social protections ) today pretty much guarantees poverty for a portion of the population. It's structurally systematic. The system is designed for income inequality and no matter what, we will have few extraordinary wealthy and lots of people in poverty. This is the dominant trend with a few blips ( the burgeoning of the middle class post ww2 US, but that was an anomally ).
If everyone had PhDs then those PhDs would be able to produce many more goods and services than exist now.
If everyone was doctors, then healthcare would be plentiful, and nobody would suffer from not having access to healthcare.
If the world was full of software engineers, then we would have a plentiful amount of software.
This is easier to consider by thinking about the opposite situation.
Imagine if we got rid of all of the doctors, software engineers, and farmers? What would happen?
We would quickly lose access to all of our healthcare, new software and then all of our food.
Its a kind of thing like the average number of hands per population is less than two. Seems counter intuitive, but when you think about it, it does make sense. One shouldn't relay on the expected value of people having two hands, for global population it's a tad lower.
The reason 5% is considered full employment is there will always be a number of people who are unemployed because they are between jobs, for instance their partner has moved or they are rejoining the workforce after pregnancy or even looking for their first job.
People not looking for a job aren't included in that 5%, to be considered unemployed you have to be working less than 2 hours a week and looking for work.
More importantly that figure doesn't include the underemployed, those working at least 2 hours but looking for more.
Interesting. We definitely have negative interest rates in some places by now. Now waiting for the income subsidy.
* You need very high import taxes, so goods have to be produced with local labour
* If truly automation were to become pervasive, that needs taxing
* You probably need restrictions to prevent money from crossing borders too easily
* You can't have open borders
* You have to strongly respond to illegals working (or legalize them, while still killing those illegal jobs), because they'll destroy the bargaining power of others
(this is, incidentally, why for 90% of history leftists and communists were strongly against immigration, and the right was pro-immigration. Even today, the right is still in favor of (limited) immigration, that doesn't seem to have changed much. But I sometimes wonder if it isn't the case that Trump won because a significant portion of the left electorate voted for him because of the labour competition due to immigration and tolerating of illegal immigrants and illegal immigrants' labour)
(On a more serious note, I fully expect automation to simply lead to automated armies defending the rich from the poor, rather than relieving any suffering anywhere. Productivity increases have not lead to (proportional) wage increases, have not lead to (proportional) reductions in working hours. The internet has not lead to information-driven utopia, but instead ad-serving dystopia. Automation will also fall to the deathly grip of capitalism, as does everything else.)
This is revisionism and ignores the whole "internationalism" vs "socialism in one country" debate. It also fails to recognise the history of nativist (far-)right anti-immigration parties and lefty anti-borders activists.
So no, I think not revisionist at all.