I’m not sure what the next decade holds for the US, but it’s either gonna be some major-scale reinvestment and redistribution or it’s gonna get pretty damn unstable.
Stability is directly proportional to the strength of economy. When people struggle, they take up on the streets. Not to take away anything from the BLM movement (I support it obviously), but my guess for its stronghold and how it became mainstream is because of the pandemic. 2 months into the pandemic in May 2020, a lot of anger was pent up. It was all released in the unrests we saw in pretty much all major cities. Same goes for far-right extremists, Boogaloo boys, QAnon, etc.
There hasn't been as many protests in the world in pretty much every country as much as we had in 2020.
Too bad people are more focused on social identities than poverty. If the unrest was more about poverty there would be a lot more people involved, and people would have a harder time painting it as thing for restless black people. If the demonstrations were about poverty, and every group could see “people who look just like me” I bet there would be more success.
The issues this article highlights are not systemic, they are because of the pandemic.
Unemployments statistics also differ heavily on what the specific statistic consider unemployment to be.
6.8% increase in median household income from 2018-2019. Look at the stats, most of that growth went into the lower quintiles.
And no, even if income inequality increases, higher incomes for low wage workers have real, immediate benefits.
Furthermore income isn’t everything. If wealth inequality wasn’t so great than even those unemployed would be able to weather C19 must more comfortably.
The middle and lower classes in Europe pay very high tax rates, but get a lot in return. The left in America is promising European-style safety nets without any tax raises - but the rich simply can’t afford this amount of safety net. Bernie was at least honest in that he plainly said new, broad-based taxes would be necessary to fund his proposals.
Edit: HN is hilarious because people downvote facts they don’t like. At least admit reality to yourself - or post a comment that refutes the statistics.
My understanding is that it's all the deductions that make the US system on the whole quite regressive.
In any case US taxpayers don't appear to be getting good value for their money.
They do have a pretty insane military though...
The Economist article is paywalled so I can't read beyond the intro. But the headline is intriguing: "gov't spending is not." That seems to be me to be the crux of it; Canada's tax system isn't terribly effective and we've been running deficits for seemingly forever, but at least all that debt is on the whole focused on things like health and education; while the US has an absolutely huge debt that seems to produce little of value for its population.
EDIT: I'll add that Canada is no worker's paradise. Inequality here is still very pronounced, and the gov't is also involved in all sorts of stupid subsidies on failing industries, and seems unable to effectively build new infrastructure. And our housing market just gets more and more irrational every year.
With the 2018 tax changes, a lot of the itemized deductions are capped and the standard deductions raised. I think I've read now that 90% of the filings are for standard deductions.
The most hilarious thing of all is that Trump passed a tax cut, and one of the very few tax increases as part of it was to eliminate the ability to deduct state taxes from federal above 10k. The only people this affects are rich people in high-tax blue states. And the democrats are bitching and moaning to remove this, because again, no one likes paying taxes, even those who pretend to love tax increases https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/12/house-democrats-stimulus-bil...
I was astonished to discover earlier in my career, after a pay raise, that I got to stop paying FICA at a certain point. I didn't even realize there was an upper limit. It's a tax that only applies to "lower" income workers. Highly regressive.
Also, US income taxes are only nominally progressive. There are so many loopholes that very wealthy people (most infamously the POTUS) can end up paying no taxes whatsoever. Tax dodging is a science and an art. Didn't Warren Buffett say he paid a lower rate than his secretary?
If you did not limit the taxes and they explicitly became income taxes (in appearance), many upper-middle class Americans would find themselves paying upwards of 50-60% taxes on income for vanishingly few benefits. That has political ramifications that the government would rather avoid.
The challenge for the US is that the taxes on the middle class are very low relative to e.g. Europe. But they cannot squeeze enough taxes from the top 20% that pay most net taxes to make up the difference.
However to reform social security so it can actually be maintained, I agree we should increase the limits or remove them entirely. But keep in mind social security is not seen as a tax - it’s a retirement pension. If we are going to change it so that rich people pay more and get less, we should also reform Medicare so that rich people pay for their own healthcare in retirement. Tons of old age programs give handouts to the rich - that’s not what they are for.
This is a very important distinction, so I'll repeat it. Social security in the United States is not a pension, it's just a government program. We're told it will continue, but that's only because the current government says it will. A future government could just decide to stop payments, and there would be no recourse because it's not a pension. If you live in the United States, please plan accordingly.
> A future government could just decide to stop payments
A future government could just decide to go to war with Canada and the recourse for citizens would be the same.
This is a common misunderstanding of how taxes work, or specifically what refunds mean. Getting a refund does not mean you paid zero or negative tax. Getting a refund simply means that you had more tax withheld than you should have. The tax withheld from your regular paycheck is not authoritative, it's just a prepayment of your estimated tax bill for the year, and it is almost always slightly inaccurate.
You can see this for yourself assuming you earn above the poverty line. Your tax return has three fields related to this: total tax withheld, total taxable income, and the tax owed given your taxable income. Getting a refund just means the tax withheld is greater than the tax owed. The total tax owed on your tax return is the tax you actually paid for the year, and for the vast majority of people it is >$0 even if they get a refund. In fact, the approximate tax paid on the median US household income (~$68k) would be ~$13k (assuming the household files a joint married return) which is decidedly non-zero.
What income range do you define as middle class? And
What's lower class in the US income wise?
Also for a bit of context what government services do people receive welfare for in the US? What are the big sercices that are driving those net negative tax payments?
It's only going to be done with all tax payers increasing their contribution (or maybe all but the lowest).
The HN guidelines  mention:
> Please don't comment about the voting on comments. It never does any good, and it makes boring reading.
I love how the hopeless are not counted as jobless.
It's important to understand that the value of the unemployment rate is not the absolute number but its change over time.
We also have other metrics published alongside the unemployment rate, like labor participation.
We all seem to be admitting that it's a bad, misleading statistic. So why are we so committed to keeping it around forever? Why not change the definition?
People say "for historical comparison", but what's the point of a historical comparison of a statistic that we all admit now is bad and misleading?
The fact that something has always been done a certain way is no justification for continuing to do it, especially if the initial decision was misguided in some way.
It's much more misleading to suggest that the people not included in the unemployment rate are the "hopeless" since it includes children, the retired, and those unable to work.
Another route, similar to the one in this study, may be considering people who are actively searching for work and where the household income is below a certain threshold (likely based upon the composition of the family).
The country is not monolithic. It could be considered typical, yet you might still have only 70% being two income households.
It would be silly to include the other 30% as unemployed.
That being said, "seeking employment" is likely one of the worse indications of unemployment. People may be excluded or impeded from joining the workforce for a variety of reasons and stop seeking employment because of that. It is a rather long list: discrimination (age, disability, gender, race), accommodations for disabilities, access to affordable childcare, criminal record, level of education. While some of those can be addressed, they rarely are addressed in a meaningful manner. In those cases I find it difficult to treat not-seeking employment as a choice.
The majority of what you term as “hopeless” is seniors that are let go and eventually decide to retire rather than entering the work force at wages less than they earned previously. It’s not a bunch of disillusioned 20 somethings giving up on life.
assuming "long way from retirement" is 10+ years.
Discouraged over job prospects
age 24-55: 311k
age 55+: 170k
Discouraged workers are persons marginally attached to the labor force who did not actively look for work in the prior 4 weeks for reasons such as thinks no work available, could not find work, lacks schooling or training, employer thinks too young or old, and other types of discrimination.
Is it meaningless? Isn't it important to get as accurate an assessment as possible of the current situation? Arguably that's even more important than historical comparisons.
> The majority of what you term as “hopeless” is seniors that are let go and eventually decide to retire rather than entering the work force at wages less than they earned previously.
Is there a citation for this? Millions of people are newly out of work now as a result of pandemic-related shutdowns, so it seems highly unlikely that primarily seniors are affected by an inability to find work.
It's not true. Discouraged workers is usually 2:1 for age <55 vs >55.
Usually the vast majority are not seniors. GP just made that up
You can check for yourself via blm:
You need that historical baseline to assess the current situation.
To provide an extreme example, as extremes are often useful in illustrating failure cases, it would be trivial to say that the murder rate in the US has dropped by nigh-on 100%. Simply redefine "murder" to mean "persons killed by a woman wearing a blue hat on the third Tuesday of February".
But what if the historical baseline has always been misleading, and undercounting a problem?
> Simply redefine "murder" to mean "persons killed by a woman wearing a blue hat on the third Tuesday of February".
This isn't a useful example, because the point of redefining unemployment is to get a more accurate view of it, whereas this redefinition of murder gives a less accurate and completely pointless view of the problem.
Then you create a new metric, but keep the old one around for historical baselines.
By the way, this is what the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is doing with the various unemployment metrics.
> The point of redefining unemployment is to get a more accurate view of it, whereas this redefinition of murder gives a less accurate and completely pointless view of the problem.
I see you are new to politics.
Please refrain from violating the Hacker News Guidelines. Your comment is neither accurate nor appropriate.
“Regained jobs” or “gave up searching”.
One of those is good, one of those is bad. Seems like lazy reporting to just say “meh, one of those two”.
The people in power always use the most optimistic measures and the people who want power always use the most pessimistic measures. I'd personally argue the more pessimistic measures are closer to reality, as would many others. BLS found a way to serve us and the people in power, simultaneously, without getting themselves replaced. They didn't just do an ultra-important, thankless job, they also found a way to square a political circle in order to do it. I have nothing but respect for them.
Click through all the links at the bottom of this report:
That being said, the closest single metric to follow isn't any of the indices. Try prime age employment-population ratio.
The book was a satire meant to be a warning (which needless to say has not been heeded) against what might happen to Britain between 1958 and the imagined final revolt against the meritocracy in 2033.
Much that was predicted has already come about. It is highly unlikely the prime minister has read the book, but he has caught on to the word without realising the dangers of what he is advocating.
Underpinning my argument was a non-controversial historical analysis of what had been happening to society for more than a century before 1958, and most emphatically since the 1870s, when schooling was made compulsory and competitive entry to the civil service became the rule.
Until that time status was generally ascribed by birth. But irrespective of people's birth, status has gradually become more achievable.
It is good sense to appoint individual people to jobs on their merit. It is the opposite when those who are judged to have merit of a particular kind harden into a new social class without room in it for others.
Ability of a conventional kind, which used to be distributed between the classes more or less at random, has become much more highly concentrated by the engine of education.
The way the U.S. is structured it's as if the only route to success is becoming a professional basketball player in the NBA. Oh, you don't happen to be extra-tall or able to shoot a basket? You must not be working hard enough.
There are definitely good non-college jobs in America, though fewer than there were fifty years ago. Many are trades - welder, carpenter, plumber. Are things similar in Germany?
I'm don't really know what to make of this number. I know what they are trying to express, but it doesn't seem well done.
If $20k/year per worker is "poverty", and to be clear it is a relatively poor wage in the US, it would be interesting to apply the same analysis to European countries. It gets uncomfortably close to the median income in countries that we typically don't view as particularly poor. Americans have anomalously high incomes, even those below the median.
While "rich" is over stating it, based on purely inflationary measures $20k in 2020 (or $645 in 1900) was not bad pay.
What does that mean? Do they have ADHD?
And that leads to real political risks: no matter what they will be tarred with the brush of their most radical element, while the radicals feel that they aren't being listened to. As a sibling comment to yours put it, the party is "largely funded by the same people" as their opponents.
So they're unable to put forward a radical program, and seem to get little traction on incremental changes. That, I believe, manifests as what the OP thinks of as "unable to focus".
I've soaked up American media and politics for the past four years. I originally got into it because I had some personal life events that made me interested in it. Since I started paying more attention, an attention that has risen both steadily and sharply over time, it has noticeably decreased my quality of life overall. I would get upset, frustrated, and overall I've been skeptical of connecting with people. The byproduct was that my awareness around narratives, misinformation, and propaganda has grown and I started to understand that this was largely just the status quo now. That view favors no political party whatsoever.
I'm from the South/Midwest but live on the coast and I served in the military. Because of that I have had this huge array of friends that hail from all walks of life whom I had no problem getting along with. I've now lost lifelong friends over their or my political views, I've felt disappointment in people (and they have felt it in me), and really it's alienated me very much from the American way of life in general. I've always had different views from my friends because I don't fit very squarely in many of our political categories and for a long time that was okay. These days disagreement comes part and parcel with some sense of morality and unfortunately in our political dichotomy that cuts both ways and leaves someone like me in the middle.
At some point I came to the realization that I could either become an ex-patriot or totally disconnect and buy some time. Surely some folks would find my disconnection so abhorrent that they may choose to alienate me anyway, but for my own mental well-being I decided to deactivate my social media accounts, block all breaking news, american news, and political commentary, as well as cancel my streaming services (other than Hulu, I can't miss Rick and Morty!)
I'd like to bury my parents before I leave this country, so if I can buy some time I'd like to do that and this has made a world of a difference in my day to day life. That doesn't mean I wouldn't like to stay up on some statistics like this one. I'm still a citizen and I still want to help people where I can, I just can't be subjected to the daily onslaught of politically focused, shifting morality.
I have more interesting observations, like how the news looks without being able to see Twitter, or things my friends have done to keep me included on the more positive sides of things happening on social media, so feel free to ask questions.
CBS News: https://www.cbsnews.com/
NY Times: https://nytimes.com/
Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/
Wall Street Journal: https://wsj.com/
PBS News Hour: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/
Boston Globe: https://www.bostonglobe.com/
Philadelphia Inquirer: https://www.inquirer.com/
Finantial Times: https://www.ft.com/
Your attitude kind of glosses over the fact that the current unfolding catastrophe in the US is a result of a series of deliberate policy decisions and does not have to be like it is.
You're saying restrict economic activity for the pandemic but still have a good economy and that doesn't make sense.
Let’s be careful with flippant remarks about people dying when the measures we _have_ put in place have still left us with hundreds of thousands of people dead.
There are reasonable debates about how we handle the response to a pandemic in America. Let’s stick to those.
The balance doesnt seem out of whack to you?
Would you put 100 million people into poverty to save 1 life?
Note that Norway has seen less economic damage than Sweden.
The US has pursued a spectacularly inept constellation of policies that have killed granny and created an economic disaster.
The economy can't recover until the pandemic is controlled. Doing nothing about the pandemic to 'save the economy' will only make both the pandemic and the economy worse.
Making enough N95 masks, and forcing people to wear them, would have both kept granny safe and saved the economy. But, that didn't happen, so the US is stuck with the worst of both worlds.
With recent political events, I’m hopeful (and it has been some time since I’ve had hope). Just have to keep up the momentum.
“Apathy is the glove into which evil slips it’s hand.” Stay involved. This isn’t a call to a particular party, but to compassion and empathy, regardless of whom champions it.
 https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/03/20/a-wider-par... (first graphic)
Common ground can be found with everyone. I've found you can get those who hate capitalism to suggest capitalist ideas. I've found you can get those who hate socialism to suggest socialist ideas, especially around the ideas of safety nets regarding children, cancer and other health concerns.
Republicans have tried to take away social security and medicaid/care, but their voters will not have it.
Statistical measures of poverty are set in terms of being able to afford the basic necessities of life, such as food, housing, medical care, transport, education and communications. Relative standing is irrelevant.
Further, having 10 times more income (or wealth) than subsistence farmer in sub-Saharan Africa is meaningless if your cost of living is 1000 times higher than that of a subsistence farmer in sub-Saharan Africa. Poor Americans aren't paying sub-Saharan African prices; they're paying American prices, and that means their income does not go very far.
The problem with asking the government to fix this in some way is that you'll most likely ensure the absolute floor of the pricing with be set higher.
It's all those beautiful first world regulations we set out subsiding the price paid that ensure pricing is high, not capitalism. I'm not saying remove them but if we can not recognise the the true source of the problems it's hard to improve it meaningfully.
If unintentional, perhaps you should consider your life and behavior in view of the three ghosts referenced in that novella.
So you're right that the old mantra about a poor American being in the top 10% of the world is no longer true. Having made that concession, we should also recognize that the poor in the US are still much better off than the poor in a lot of other countries. That group of countries has just been shrinking over the past 30 years.
Our main societal concern should be, "How do we reverse that trend?" Because more and more of the middle class are joining the ranks of the poor, and though it's only my opinion, I don't think that will end well for us.
Anyone who wants to change this will be fighting an uphill battle against cultural norms, vested business interests and ideological positions.
The GP comment was a bad one, but responding with a second bad one not only doesn't help, it breaks the site guidelines in an additional way: "Don't feed egregious comments by replying; flag them instead."
Maybe some republicans simply think realistic solutions are not those you believe will work.
The government keeps the roads fixed and the playing field level and the country safe. People, as individuals say what the future looks like.
I could tell you but I'll be b& from commenting. :-)
FWIW, that's only true in America, which is only 5% of the world's population.
Hundreds of millions of people around the world have it much better.
Those kings lacked modern luxuries, to be sure. They even lacked most modern comforts. Those kings of the past did not have to worry about being homeless and were unlikely to worry about putting food on the table. When it comes to the essentials, their needs were met and (for the most part) they did not have to concern themselves with losing it due to their economic position. While they may be concerned with losing those essentials due to the politics of the era, that is something entirely different.
Edit: for clarity.
This isn’t a dinner party conversation of whether I’d rather be a feudal lord in 1270 Britain or an American living paycheck to paycheck in 2020.
Or they might be downvoted because this community skews towards makers, and “it’s better than it was so why talk about how to fix its problems?” is the antithesis of building, creating, making. It is the antithesis of the very real work of progress.
For example, owning a functioning automobile was a huge luxury only for the rich 100 years ago.
For another example, the terms of the debate have shifted. It used to be about the objective state of the poor people. Today it is less about that and more about the subjective state of poor people relative to the state of wealthy people, i.e. "inequality".
Or another example: I really don't like smartphones, for all sorts of reasons not worth getting in to here. But having one is sort-of a requirement these days since all kinds of services are only available as a phone app, and many company's primary method of contact is WhatsApp, and a lot of social life happens on there as well. Of course you can go without one, but it's debilitating.
There are a few more things like this. Income has risen, but so have mandatory costs for a normal life.
Of course "poverty" is subjective, but IMHO it's a disgrace that (working!) people struggle to make ends meet every month, and would definitely classify that as "poverty". That peasants 100 years ago had it worse is just irrelevant here, in my view.
I'm not entirely sure what the intention of your comment was, but by your reasoning we could relativise every war as "it's not as bad as WWII" or every pandemic as "it's not as bad as the black death", and that doesn't strike me as a helpful or constructive way to deal with the problems that exist in the here and now.
Smart people command more value than dumb people - it's a sad but true reality. Educate your kids!
 - https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/which-households-hold-most-...
 - https://www.businessinsider.com/graduate-student-loan-debt-n...
Completely disagree. This is one of the biggest lies being forced by the higher castes in the US. "Smart" is subjective, "value" is subjective.
Let's be honest: this statement only true because a certain class of people want it to be true. I value k-12 education in my world view more than I value derivitaves traders: in my ideal world teaching would be a high-paying competitive field and Black-Scholes would mean absolutely nothing.
But I can't tell if you don't realize the world we live in is what me we make it, or if you just accept what you are told the world "should be" because you're benefiting from the system and are scared to make it equitable.
A stupid person will fall for get rich quick schemes. A stupid person will believe grinding it out at a job they hate will eventually lead to something better. A stupid person will lack the will to try hard enough to better themselves.
The real question is, of course: are you ever "stupid"?
And what I mean by that is you set out a very black/white view of who is worthy and who isn't, and I bet dollars to donuts you don't live up to your own standards because that's where black/white thinking leads. It helps everyone to not think in such subjective, judgemental, and largely pejorative terms. I think the world would be better served if we started from the position "everyone has value."
First, in my opinion, basic income is absolutely needed, and has been for quite some time. Not only the pandemic, but also the severe state of the long-term debt cycle, and the increasing automation, as well as existing social inequality, all make basic income necessary if we want to avoid more extreme levels of homelessness. And it seems unlikely that significantly higher levels of homelessness will be tolerated without large increases in entitlements.
We also need much more effective tax policies related to corporations and wealthy individuals.
But I also believe that when people on the other side say that we can't pay for the basic income, they are correct. The income of the government will still not add up to be able to give everyone a livable floor to start with given the high cost of living in the US. And even with dramatic improvements in tax collection, its not going to come close.
So I believe that either we will end up creating a new type of high-tech money, or quite possibly have a global war where we try to defend the US currency.
They are also afraid of the following things:
- Consequences for using free money the wrong way. We've already seen people imprisoned for using stimulus money that was freely given out with no real checks. And that was from a completely right-wing administration and Department of Justice! People know they'll take the money, they just don't want the opportunity for the state to judge them for its "generosity". It's either no strings attached or not done at all.
- A diminishing set of options. People don't like consolidation of control when the state nationalizes an area, distorts a market with its unlimited resources but is also not very competitive while retaining its ability to imprison and kill people. So people are afraid of that.
Underneath all the arguments about empathy, redistribution, how it is actually financed or expropriated, are those concerns.
 site search of doj.gov "ppp indict" https://www.google.com/search?sxsrf=ALeKk009z-HSGv1tJet83_Rj...
Sorry, what? I must've missed this.
with the point not about rationalizing how much you agree with the substance of fraud, but about the state not having created the opportunity to feel defrauded and levy greater charges 'on behalf of the people'