"Crime increased following the rise in unemployment and social disruption from the decline of manufacturing industries in the area. As of 2019 Bessemer ranks first in terms of violent crimes for US cities with 25,000 or more people."
Population has fallen from its peak in 1970 of 33k to 26k today.
Thanks for the reference.
EDIT: Also home to the world's oldest chicken, who lived 16 years: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matilda_(chicken)
frowns in Colorado
Funny enough, I have no heavenly idea how, I had actually run into the article on poor Mike before.-
Further edit: Come to think, poor Mike the "headless" would be a great mascot for -at least- AWS, for obvious, ssh-related reasons :)
VP of ... "Customer Engagement"? Prime? ...
... I got it! "Incubator"!
I'll show myself out ...
Random internet serendipity, shift in topic and mood. We live in such an interesting and strange universe.
I never committed any violent crimes, but I know throughout most of 2016 I was really really broke (about $15,000 credit card debt, 3 months of unpaid rent, a lawsuit from my landlord for the back rent). In the process I debated reaching out to one of those payday loan places, despite the fact that I knew they were scams. My desperate brain was overriding my logical brain.
I can only assume I'm not unique in this fact; if it comes down to mugging someone or not eating for a week, I'm not 100% sure which option I would choose. I would like to think that I would never hurt someone, but since 2017 or so, I've had a pretty privileged life.
I see the HN crowd as rather monotonic, and thanks to stories like yours, it shows me wrong, and that’s for the best.
My escape was doubling my pay, then paying off my debt, then refusing to take on any further debt, ever. Currently closing on a house, paid with cash. Never again debt.
No: being really broke can cause a lot of anxiety that can lead to irrational behavior.
But often a person has to choose between homelessness and crime and picks the latter as a rational choice, given the alternative.
So please don't assume poor = "crazy" = criminal, it's a bit unkind.
It's implied here:
"I think being really broke greatly hinders your ability to think rationally."
...by putting that sentence out alone without clarifying the context.
> psychological pathways
> unfairly reify
Are you feeling ok?
I never said "poor = 'crazy' = criminal". I don't think poor people are inherently crazy, though I suppose that being mentally ill could conceivably hinder your ability to make a decent income, if we're being pedantic. I feel like you're assuming I said something that I didn't; I really don't think I was being "unkind". In fact, I was trying to have a pretty sympathetic perspective on this. If that was not clear then that's a failing on my end and I apologize.
Yes, you could make an argument is the "more rational" decision is to commit a crime, I read Les Miserables, but keep in mind that my comment was in direct response to someone asking why unemployment led to violent crime, and I specifically did not exclude myself from any category.
You are literally accusing the writer of implying things which rely upon a context of your own making, not theirs.
I would consider someone that has their rationality stripped (or "greatly hindered") to be irrational. I think "irrational" is a bit more passive than "crazy", but I would personally read those as mostly synonymous.
I wonder why we interpret the same sentence so differently - we may be reading between the lines in very different ways - like the "blue&black / gold&white" dress.
That's what the following paragraph is about, trying to explain that this could happen to anyone.
Are you thinking that I understood your statement to mean that being broke would permanently turn you into a loony? Maybe I generally consider "crazy" to be a temporary state or state of mind that anyone can get into or out of, and you generally consider "crazy" to be a permanent fixture of personality, dividing society into hard lines of people that are either "crazy" or "not-crazy"?
Whereas "crazy" suggests an absence of sanity.
Rational vs irrational. Sanity vs insanity. These are not interchangeable ideas.
A lot of comments here seem to think that it has something to do with morals, but from living in poor places, what I gather is that people have no other options when they’re backed into a corner.
If you’re unemployed and you need money for rent and food, what the he’ll are you going to do? Survival mode kicks in, and you’ll do anything to make the next day/week. This could include steeling (to consume or sell) and mugging people (actual money, but probably less of a problem in the near future with everyone using digital payments). Now throw into the mix drugs to numb to pain of living an abysmal life... which are astronomically expensive, so most of the time your only option is to steel and mug more.
They aren't scams, but they are only useful for a very narrow band of people in a very narrow band of circumstances. For the vast majority of people that want one of those loans, they are better off not getting it. It's entirely possible to get the loan and use it as intended, it's just the most the people that need it aren't in a position to do so, and the lenders go out of their way to make it real easy to just roll the loan over into a new ones that kicks the problem down the road to the next payday after this one.
1: It's a dark pattern. "You borrowed $400 the other week and you owe use $500 today? How about we fund a new loan for $400 before your payment, roll that into your current payment, and all you have to do is pay the $100 difference this payday, and you can just pay it all next payday when it's more convenient?" Now, the lender has an installment plan for 700-1500% APR as long as they can get the client to keep doing that (but the client does have to choose to do it every time).
At least, that's how it was a decade or so ago. I think it got even more regulated since then, and they can't charge 25% interest per payday anymore (you can likely thank the NY AG if so).
If I recall, the military had a heavy hand in that. When the payday loan industry has cut into military readiness to the point the generals are talking to Congress about it, it's gone a bit too far.
edit (add ref): https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-109shrg50303/html/C...
You mean that it's possible for some people to use it in a personally beneficial way.
That is true without any need to get into intent. I think it's unambiguous that the predatory application is the actual intended usage-- since their business model doesn't make sense without it, they have a massive default rate that only gets paid for with the windfall customers that stay on the treadmill for a long time.
It's very rational to choose crime over starvation or exposure, especially when our legal framework (US) is morally bankrupt. Why not turn to crime when crime really isn't such a bad thing compared to the other shit going on.
It is easier to think long term while feeling secure but not thinking long term can lead to becoming insecure. Not trying to make any moral or blame judgements here - just pondering origins of problems and solutions.
I think my lack of impulse control came as a direct cause of me being broke. I had previously never seriously considered any kind of payday loan because I knew they were multi-thousand-percent levels of interest, but that part of my brain wasn't the one thinking. When faced with a really tough situation, I think it's common for your "survivalist" side to kick in.
I never actually did get the payday loan because I was able to (begrudgingly) get a loan from my stepfather-in-law for the back rent, and I very luckily landed a decent-paying job shortly afterwards.
I was absolutely one of the lucky ones. It's not hard at all for me to envision a universe where I was stuck in an endless cycle of debt, and honestly I still have nightmares about that time occasionally. Not fun.
For all the criticisms of UBI, I think it would be a net win simply because it eliminates the significant time wasted in maintaining welfare entitlement.
I’ll support UBI when it stops being a libertarian wet dream to eliminate all other social spending and becomes a supplementary cause that lets us re-examine social spending when we can see how it shifts if everyone has “basic needs” covered.
I don't support any UBI policy that leaves anyone economically worse off compared to existing welfare. In fact I would expect people to be reliably better off after you factor in secondary benefits such as a reduced time burden upon individuals (time can be a scarce resource when you're poor) and increased ability to prioritise your own needs. The last thing poor people need is fewer resources.
I also don't support any UBI policy that attempts to supplant programs which address disability as opposed to straight poverty.
In my mind the essential benefits of UBI are:
• Less fraud. It's much harder to game a system when everyone automatically qualifies for it.
• Less stigma. It's much harder to be ashamed by reliance on a system when everyone automatically qualifies for it.
• Less disincentive to earn more. Most welfare programs cut out out after you exceed a particular income threshold, so many people have an incentive to keep their income low. (Or to lie about income.)
• Less complexity. It shifts the burden of economic rebalancing away from welfare programs (written by politicians and administered by gate-keeping bureaucrats) and towards a system that already exists: progressive income tax. While everyone qualifies for UBI, high earners are progressively, functionally disqualified by having the UBI clawed back in higher marginal income tax rates.
• Increased mobility and increased incentive to migrate to areas with lower cost of living.
I was responding to:
> For all the criticisms of UBI, I think it would be a net win simply because it eliminates the significant time wasted in maintaining welfare entitlement.
The exact wording of the libertarian wet dream I was recognizing. I wasn’t labeling UBI, I was labeling an identifiable expression.
And I called out where this particular attitude would have starved me and apparently HN would prefer I starved.
If I wasn’t unclear and wasn’t misunderstood, you’ll have to explain to me how this has anything to do with libertarianism.
Is it because libertarian UBI might not be so generous? That it's motivated by saving taxpayer money rather than resolving poverty? On that I would agree. That's not the point of UBI.
Is it because libertarian UBI would be an excuse to eliminate more poverty welfare programs than liberal UBI? Because I personally see eliminating welfare programs to be a good thing so long as the UBI isn't intentionally less generous than what it replaces.
Or is it because libertarian UBI would mean Governments no longer forcing welfare dollars to be spent in a "responsible" way? Most of the criticisms I've heard seem to work on the principle that poor people don't know how to look after themselves or spend money wisely. So we need Government to force them to spend X amount on food with programs like SNAP, or spend X amount on shelter with housing subsidies. On this point I'd side VERY strongly with the libertarians. We have far too much paternalism in Government.
Close but for me it’s less about protecting similarly redistributive programs and more about protecting services best provided by government that nonetheless cost money and require the government to be empowered to administer them effectively.
Because they're not, the idea that they are is paternalistic bullshit from the kind of people who get their news from John Oliver.
Debt can be dangerous, and payday loans are commensurately more so due to their high rates. But debt is a _tool_, and just like middle- and upper-income folks can use it to prevent disaster or rationally extend themselves, lower-income people can too. Not having access to credit isn't a _good_ thing per se.
Whenever people have actually bothered to look into the use of payday loans instead of pearl-clutching about how the poor don't know what's good for them, they've found that much of the clientele is making rational decisions. As bad as a high-interest loan sounds to privileged sensibilities, the alternative is often worse. It's just more diffuse and thus easier to ignore.
Likewise, just because I post one extreme example of payday loan businesses being a fraud doesn't invalidate the entire industry. As a whole though, I feel the industry is quite scummy and often scammy.
I alluded to empirical evidence of their usefulness. Here's a study from the FDIC. It's dated, but there are structural conclusions about the way payday loans work and why their rates are so high.
I don't see the relevance of specific payday lenders being shut down for fraud. Individual cases of fraud should be cracked down upon, and its widespread prevalence in an industry suggests that regulation is potentially a good idea. But neither of these automatically negate the usefulness of a service, just as the bad behavior of the banking industry doesn't make a bank account useless.
> Likewise, just because I post one extreme example of payday loan businesses being a fraud doesn't invalidate the entire industry.
Yes, this is my point. The comment I responded to and that I quoted from said:
> I debated reaching out to one of those payday loan places, despite the fact that I knew they were scams
The point of my comment is that they can be useful, and the GP's shame at considering an option he "knew" was a scam is unwarranted and down to midwit elites who are quick to fuck the poor over in the name of paternalistic, performative virtue, but never bother to understand them as agents making decisions that are sometimes unintuitively rational.
That's not using debt as a 'tool', that is weaponizing it against those can't fend for themselves.
That's not a comment on the fairness of the rate charged. But if there is a sufficient amount of competition among lenders, and they were effectively regulated and monitored, we could expect their rates are enough to allow them to make a reasonable profit in spite of the risk of default.
European Union is not a country and every member state has their own rules regulating this, there isn't one payday lenders rulebook across the entire EU.
As for what you said - it's true, except that it boils down to a checkbox on the form "are you able to make repayments on this loan?" and that's about it, that takes care of the legal side of things.
Consider someone who got a flat tire and it needs to be replaced before the person can go to work. The cost of replacing a tire can be $100-$200. The cost of waiting could cost their job.
They could apply for a credit card with 18% interest and a bunch of fees - and the card MIGHT be delivered the next day. OR they can go to a pay day lender and borrow $100 NOW and get to their job this afternoon.
The tire replacement "should" have cost $100 - now it costs $121, and they keep their job.
You might imagine a similar situation for: your fridge broke and you NEED to keep your food fresh, your heater/AC broke, someone broke your front door trying to rob you.
Life SUCKS if you are poor.
Actual story: I met someone who was returning home on a bus, but was kicked off after having a seizure. She and her bf couldn't afford a new bus ticket to get home (to LA). They were stuck in Houston for at least a week, it is possible they missed work and were fired and missed rent and were evicted. If that was you, how much would you be willing to pay for $500 now? I didn't know them long enough to know if they were telling the truth, but I wish I had given them money.
I'm not asking why the customer doesn't just go to a bank instead.
I'm asking what's stopping you or me from opening a competing payday loan service that charges "only" $110 instead of $121.
It seems to me that this should be a highly competitive industry, the only barriers to entry being some capital, a storefront in a cheap part of town, and a little physical security? What am I missing?
Background: I work at a bank, we specialize in Credit Cards - but I'm in the car finance division. Some of what I have here is an educated guess.
Pay day lenders IS highly competitive. In certain geographies, there are LOTS of lenders. There are some very real barriers to entry:
You have to be credited with certain financial regulators (CFPB and OCC are the 2 I know of) to lend money - and these regulators come with various stipulations (e.g., keep $ in reserve, don't be racist, lend to people who can pay you back, etc)
Many "real" banks avoid this market because the regulators "punish" us - our Credit Card division would be held to a higher standard because we also had pay day loans. Fun fact: during the Obama administration, we also had Mortgages, because regulators "went easy" on the rest of the company. When Trump became president, regulators stopped caring and we sold our mortgages.
All of this being said, if you, right NOW had a lemonade stand lending money to people, you could probably get away with it.
On that note, there is a really interesting shift in the market:
Financial Services As A Service. Imagine: Bank of Small-Town-Maine is a legitimate bank. They know how to stay solvent, they are registered with the right regulators, etc. I approach them and say "let me use your Certifications, I'll use my money, my marketing, I'll buy Identification Services and Credit services - I'll lend money to people and we split the profit".
ACE Cash Express is doing something like this RIGHT NOW - and there are MANY other people doing it, too.
And on the point, financing your home appliances is a popular thing (but please, pay up front!)
> That's not using debt as a 'tool', that is weaponizing it against those can't fend for themselves.
Are you familiar with the concept of a poverty trap? We're not talking about people whose financial decisions consist of figuring out how to distribute their securities tax-efficiently across their accounts. There are lots of people for whom there are _very_ few degrees of financial freedom, where not being able to pay for car repairs can mean losing your job which can mean getting evicted, and where a precarious but livable existence can become a financial nightmare trap with a single stroke of bad luck and bad timing.
What's the discount rate on a loan for someone in that position? Why are you so confident that, a million miles away from your situation, you can make that decision better for them than they can for themselves? If someone is underbanked (like 22% of Americans), why are you so sure that a time-sensitive $300 emergency expense isn't worth $360, if they're confident they can pay it back (eg, when they get their paycheck)? If you're actually interested in the well-being of those who feel the need to avail themselves of tools like this, the New Yorker wrote an article about it half a decade ago. There are a million other resources and even studies describing the demand side of the story, but it's a lot easier to just pat oneself on the back about how these poor illiterate people are being saved from themselves and then ignore the people whose weakened access to credit further immiserates them.
> I'm sorry but in Ontario, prior to January 1, 2017, the charge was $21 per $100 advanced, an effective interest rate of 14,299% (not a typo)
There are an impressive amount of things wrong with this short sentence and its implications.
1) This is the maximum allowable rate. It's completely consistent for someone to believe that the worst-possible payday lenders are on-net exploitative without claiming the entire industry is a scam.
2) The parent comment I disagreed with did not say "I was going to a pre-Jan-1-2017 Ontario payday lender, which I know is a scam". He said it of payday loans in general, a belief that's widely held in my social circles for the John-Oliver-related reasons I mentioned before.
3) Nothing in my comment said I was opposed to regulation, up to and including capping rates. Most people (poor or not) are pretty terrible at math, and desperation absolutely can push people further towards irrational decisions. Legally capping rates is a decision that, at a given rate, more people are falling prey to their innumeracy than are availing themselves of a costly but necessary emergency life-raft. There's nothing wrong with this legislative judgment call, but starting and ending your analysis at "look how high this number is!!!!" is just cosplaying compassion.
4) Again, the assumption that just waving your hands in the air and saying a number has any connection to the reality of poverty traps and the incredibly steep discount rates they impose upon people. Removing options from people isn't saving them from their misery, it's just displacing their misery into a million diffuse other problems that you don't have to think about.
Even if we accept that payday lending has a place, I think most payday lenders benefit from this equation and certainly contribute to the poverty trap: even if most of the debtors end up getting (likely minimum wage) jobs, they now have the added burden of repaying the onerous rates that they agreed to while under extreme duress. And that duress is the thing that seems to be missing in your calculus.
The problem with payday loans is not the theoretical application of debt theory but the rational risk taking of people with no other (perceived) options: under almost all circumstances, it is better to be starving next week than it is to be starving today.
Reminds me of an anecdote from poor African countries. Farmers would buy fertilizer months before they needed it, even though it is logically better for them to save that money and only buy the fertilizer when they needed it (assuming the price of the fertilizer was constant). But they knew if they had the money the would be tempted to spend it in the meantime, so they bought it early to avoid the temptation.
Payday loans can encourage people to take out a loan and spend money even in cases where it would be better for them to find an alternative.
Also, a lot of these payday loans are just flat-out illegal. If you look up usury laws in the US, they typically cap interest at somewhere around ~25% per year, and the highest I could find was on the order of 400% per year . I didn't check every state so it's possible there are some that don't have any caps, but my point is that very often these payday loans are literally breaking the law by charging absurd interest rates.
You don't even have to be that smart or read high-quality sources to find this perspective! "Payday loans never provide value" is too dumb for even Vox!
The reason I'm so passionate about this topic is not just garden-variety frustration at how stupid people are. "Helping" people by controlling what they can spend their food stamps on, whom they can have sex with, or how they survive and support themselves should come with a heavy, heavy burden of rigor. History is full of elites destroying the lives of others through their malicious "compassion" and refusal to actually consider that other people live different lives with different problems. The problem with things like payday loans is that the kind of IFLScience midwits that places like HN are thick with won't bother to do the most basic of research beyond clickbaity headlines, eye-popping context-free stats, amd comedy shows that pretend to be informative. It's repulsive.
Maybe I was being a bit hyperbolic when I said "scam" since they usually do what they advertise. Let me rephrase: they have ridiculously high interest rates that can lead to difficult-to-escape debt, and they are predatory towards desperate people, hence why you usually see them in poorer neighborhoods.
Debt is absolutely a tool and I wasn't claiming otherwise, so when I said "scam", what I really meant was "the worst possible way to leverage debt".
From your clarifications in this comment, it doesn't sound like you're the type of person I'm talking about. I don't disagree at all that loans can take advantage of people's innumeracy and desperation-driven irrationality. And I consider this a serious concern with excessively high rates. But it needs to be balanced against the bedrock principle that taking a choice away from someone usually immiserates them further, and if you believe otherwise you need a damn high level of rigor to show it.
Tarring the payday loan industry writ large as a scam doesn't stand up to that level of rigor, and there are a thousand qualitative and quantitative pieces of evidence pointing to the fact that the industry does provide value to a portion of the underbanked population.
This doesn't preclude things like capping rates, but this is an explicit recognition that, at the given rate, the cost of the innumerate being taken advantage of is higher than the cost of cutting off an emergency lifeline for people who can use it rationally.
I don't think you and I are especially in disagreement here, given your clarification of what you meant by "scam".
Not sure where you get your news/experience from ;), but I don't see how any of those arguments apply to payday loan places - in every country, city, society I've lived in, they a) were shut down for fraud and exploitation anytime anybody bothered to look & investigate b) are universally demonstrated and proven to prey upon those who can least afford it. These are not benevolent capitalists trying to help those who nobody else would help - the owners are shameless sharks exploiting and manipulating people into a vicious cycle.
(FWIW I'm not going to downvote, I actually upvoted - your perspective is interesting and must as I may disagree I'd like to hear more and maybe be educated, rather than shut the debate down; but I'd like to see some "counter-John-Oliver" studies and stats to go against the ones I think most of us have seen)
Edit: I mean heck, like with smoking, government here will try their best to talk you out of it; you can still do it, as an adult human being... but it's just a bad, bad idea
You are correct, not having access to credit is a bad thing. But having access to predatory credit is a WORSE thing. There's a reason we outlawed indentured slavery and "company scrip", and payday loans are a half a step up from that situation.
* well, the guidelines do also ask not to use allcaps for emphasis, but that's minor
Unemployment is a cause of or certainly concomitant with having very high stress and a very poor outlook on the future. In a town like Bessemer the thought process is something like “I don’t have a job, I’m not going to get one, I have no money, and this situation is not going to change.” And it’s not just you thinking this, you see your friends and family having the same problems. You reach out for help but after a while the good graces of others run out. So do unemployment checks.
After a few months you get evicted, so no one else will rent to you, and you are either homeless or at least not in control of your living situation. A slum lord may be involved. The food bank (which was already not a great source of food) is now useless since you need a kitchen to make most of the raw supplies they hand out.
The stress and pressure to take care of ones self and ones family under these conditions often leads so serious mental health issues, drug use, and domestic violence. For some it leads to other crimes like stealing, mostly stealing food or stealing things to buy food and drugs. You see your friends falling victim to these issues, getting arrested, dying of exposure, or losing themselves to mental illness. Prospects don’t look good.
One of the most infamous is/was New York City's SOTA program , which attempted to relocate and provide one year's rent for people from NYC's shelters. They basically shipped families and individuals out of state to other cities, hoping they'd find a job and affordable housing there. NYC is an economic powerhouse if you're credentialed and high enough on the treadmill to make it work, but not an area you want to start out with nothing; you can imagine that someone had the bright idea that there are cheap houses and entry-level manufacturing jobs in other growing cities, someone homeless and jobless might have a better chance of integrating into society than panhandling on Wall St.
The program met with outrage from the destination cities whenever anyone (utterly broke, with a history of homelessness, with no local family or connections...the program worked for some but did not for others) ended up in trouble and the locals found out they'd come from NYC. Turns out a lot of people would rather have their bright and bustling new-money "innovation hubs" and "tech corridors" unsullied by undesirables from dying cities.
It's one thing to turn a saloon and general store into a quaint Old West ghost town when the gold mine runs out. It's another to turn dying cities that once had populations of millions working in bustling industries of rail, coal, steel, or automotive manufacturing (like Bessemer, named after the inventor of the Bessemer steel converter, or other cities like St Louis, Detroit, Cleveland, Gary, Flint, Dayton, etc.) into not just the current Rust Belt cities but an enormous ghost metropolis.
A good first step is a country wide housing, healthcare, food, and job guarantee. If bezos zuck musk gates etc can be billionaires we can provide a minimal standard of living for everyone. I'm open to considering any research that says doing so is impossible, but I doubt any such research exists.
Subsidize 2 luggages and a 1-way bus ticket per household member, to anyone that wants to move to a new location. No questions asked. You can do it X amount of times in your life, and anyone with income below (a multiple of poverty rate here) qualifies. That's it.
I don't follow how you made that assumption about OP of the comment
(noting there's a difference between "I'm a student living with parents, I'd like a job but can't get one so I'm unemployed" and "I have 3 kids and a sickly partner and I'm overdue on rent and I'm unemployed and I have no social/family safety net")
I wouldn't call it "not having a real actual problem" - again, it's relative and so on; but a charitable read as "never been on brink of famine/poverty" may be a good interpretation?
Is having to make a decision to take your child off life support a "real actual problem in your life"? How about being told that your visa won't be renewed and you have to leave your entire life, job, friends and family behind and move somewhere else? Is that a "real actual problem in your life"? How about a cancer diagnosis? A cheating spouse?
Not all "real actual problems" in life have to be related to money - you can have plenty of it and still be in an extremely difficult and distressing situation in your life, which won't naturally lead to increase in violence(cancer diagnosis is probably one of the worst events you can have in your life and yet I cannot imagine it's corellated to increase in violence rates at all). I frankly also find the attitude of the previous poster to be condescening and jugemental.
And frankly, you don’t have to have experienced anything remotely similar to understand how economic desperation leads to crime, it just requires a capacity for, and willingness to employ empathy.
On the other hand, “Cancer patient goes on crime spree to pay for chemo” sounds like it could be a very funny film, in the hands of the right writer.
But in the US, unemployment, desperation, and easy access to firearms can be a big problem.
BTW, I'm still shocked by the casualness of people who threaten to shoot me. Or like to show they are armed in an attempt to intimidate me.
I have a few questions, sorry if this sounds like a lot I’m just really curious.
What city are you in where this happens? What are you doing to provoke this kind of behavior? Why haven’t you moved away to somewhere safer?
> What are you doing to provoke this kind of behavior?
Standing on the sidewalk, hanging out with friends.
> Why haven’t you moved away to somewhere safer?
I left when I was 18.
I'd be happy to entertain any additional questions you or others might have.
Would you happen to know why gangs would bother doing random acts of violence against teenagers standing on the sidewalk? I'd heard that the Italian mafia at least likes to keep themselves out of the public eye, interesting that other gangs don't.
They have literal games , such as "knockout". The game is literally to come from behind and hit a random passerby so hard that they fall on the ground... knocked out.
Its some real messed up stuff. I am sure you google.
Driving, riding my bike, walking. When I was a kid simply walking to school was enough. But people will threaten to shoot you for turning, not driving fast enough, merging, stopping, not stopping. Riding a bike in the right lane.
Growing up down here you get used to it. Far too many Americans have access to guns. Hopefully, they only use it on themselves. But even if only 1% of gun owners were certifiable crazy, that's still over a 1 million unhinged individuals.
I moved to Europe for a time. But career and family brought me back here. And I like money :-)
Guns are illegal.
Still, plenty of shootings and killings from random roadrage incidents.
And also obviously it happens frequently in SF from the homeless people. That is probably more worrying as they potentially have "nothing to lose"
Once the border officer asked me (or rather - barked at me) "why are you coming to the US?", to what I said "for business".
"For how long?" - to what I answered "for 3 days"
He then asks "why so short?" to what I answered "I swear if I could squeeze it to one day I would gladly come and go not to spend money in a country that is so welcoming" (it was a very long, tiring flight and I really wanted to go to the hotel, afer having queued up for 2 hours)
He told me that I should not reply like this, to what I said that this is the truth. We had a small staring contest and he let me go.
The other similar case in Russia was when the border guard was yelling at me for not having my passport number printed on my ticket (yes, I do not know either), to which I yelled back to kick me out of their country with a "never return" stamp because I am fed up enough to have a week-end ruined with tha travel. I showed him my hands together (as in "handcuff me") and he pushed me into Russia. The stay was great, people were great.
Officer (in a rather rude tone): "what were you doing in Canada?"
Me (sleepy and a bit disoriented): "sorry?"
Officer (suddenly seems to realize that he has my green card in front of him): "Never mind, you're good to go"
My best guess is that he was just too conditioned to grasp at straws for reasons to give people a hard time, until realizing he couldn't deny entry to a green card holder.
This is what greeted my family every time we came to the US. Which fucked up ICE agent will we get this time? Most of them were pleasant but it only takes 1 asshole in the bunch to ruin a great holiday.
And no matter what they say, Canada's ICE weren't much better.
Semi-relevant anecdote: I was traveling in my car with my mom and sister to Vancouver BC from Seattle (back when I was not a US citizen yet). Canadian officer at the border was more than just inquisitive. He asked who i was, where i worked, which team i worked on, what specific product I worked on and what specifically I did (which was already making me feel uncomfortable, because the product wasn't public back then, so I wasn't really allowed to talk about it in general). The questioning itself took like 10 mins and was absolutely unnecessary. Not even mentioning how aggressive he was, I felt like I was an inch away from being escorted to their "office" for additional questioning. And I am saying that as someone who doesn't usually feel threatened much by any interactions with officers.
On the way back into the US, however, it was buttery smooth. The officer confiscated the grapes my mother tried bringing back with her (despite me urging her not to do so), and he was extremely apologetic about it. Then he said "welcome home", and that was it. Took less than a minute overall.
Not trying to generalize anything from this, as, of course, the experiences differ wildly between individual border officers and such. I just thought it was an interesting semi-relevant anecdote.
I was driving from a town in Illinois to Toronto (a very long 10 hour trip as it was). Got to the border, they said that I needed to pay several thousands dollars to import my car because according to them I was a "returning resident" even though I kept saying I work in US and was going to return to US (and had paperwork to prove it, to boot). Nope. They kept insisting I was lying about the purpose of my trip, and eventually decided that because I was "lying", they were going to seize my car (and everything in it, including laptops and cellphones).
They then proceeded to tell me I had to pay $14k to get my car back (or to find a cab willing to come to the border. Without a cell phone. At midnight on a sunday.) Did I mention I had my wife and two children in the car with me? Yeah.
So I ended up scrambling to come up with $14k by maxing out multiple credit cards, got my car and belongings back, and finally got our asses out of there at 2am (with still 3 hours of road ahead of me).
I knew the border officers were full of shit so I filed a formal appeal with the government. Six months later, what do you know, it was actually reviewed and it was determined that the border officers were in fact in the wrong and that I should get a full refund. Better late than never, but boy, that night couldn't have gone much worse.
Shouldn't be surprising that their staff follows the same principles that created the agency in the first place.
Customer service takes a nose dive once you train your staff on how to spot the next shoebomber.
What? Where in the US do you live? I've lived in the US my entire life and never, not once has anyone ever threatened to shoot me. Thats a felony in itself and I am really surprised by that.
The US is a big, diverse place with a lot of history.
Two is that America’s high crime rates well preceded the advent of the modern welfare state. New York had much higher crime than London even in the 19th century at the height of Victorian social Darwinism and Dickensian work houses. If anything the disparity has actually decreased in the post war period.
The short answer is America, and in fact the Western Hemisphere in general, is just a much more violent society at its roots than the Old World.
I think there is a clear reason: nihilism and depression. If you have resigned yourself to being unemployed and impoverished forever, what difference does it make whether you're in jail or not? It's the same reason we argue that jailing the homeless is pointless. They don't care; life in prison might even be better in terms of quality of life. Sure, there's less freedom, but the poorer you are, the less the delta in freedom is. You don't have access to a lot of the freedom that financially healthy people have to begin with. Jailing them is like trying to drown a fish. We don't have any functional punishments for people who don't care about their life (I'm not advocating that we try to invent some).
You mentioned rape specifically. The prevailing theory afaik is that rape is about control over someone else rather than sexual gratification. There are plenty of ways to have sex; the floor on sex worker prices is shockingly low. Doubly so in extremely poor areas. It's not shocking to me that people with almost no control over their lives would lash out in ways that grant them control, or at least a feeling of control. If you're poor and have no safety net, you have little control over your housing (can't afford to move), your job (don't have a rainy day fund to tell your boss to fuck off), your food (you eat what's cheap, or what the food bank will give you), your money (you're lucky if you even have enough to pay bills, much less have money left over that you can pick what to do with), etc. Your life becomes a constant chain of being shunted around and manipulated by people who do have money.
Crimes of opportunity are an attempt to lift yourself out of poverty. Crimes of passion are an attempt to cope with the struggles of living a life that you have almost no control over.
I'm not attempting to absolve anyone of responsibility for their actions, but I can see how someone would make that choice.
Also, suicide is an act of passion, and it's highly correlated with unemployment.
No, that's not quite right. Someone who is depressed is not homicidal and highly unlikely to be violent to anyone but themselves. A nihilist is consumed in the thought that life is meaningless so they would not go around randomly hurting people by definition. A sociopath might but that's different.
I am originally from Russia, but live in US. I actually feel safer in US than in Russia.
It is far easier to get assaulted as result of road rage or because somebody don't like how you dress in Russia. Hopefully Russia have stricter gun laws, so it's less lethal.
Also when people believe that they can't, by legal and socially acceptable means, thrive, their belief in the current social order is undermined. A lot of society operates on trust in fundamental fairness; for people who find that life is fundamentally unfair, that trust is eroded, sometimes permanently.
Crime often puts people in stressful situations.
People in stressful situations sometimes act violently, even if that's not their default mode of conduct.
As a simple example, imagine someone shoplifting some food from a market, where an employee confronts them and bars their way, saying they are calling the police. The shoplifter tries to leave, and a scuffles ensues while the employee tries to restrain the accused. It's very easy for the crime to become assault while someone is fleeing, and nobody needed to intend for any violence at any point.
Law enforcement can probably withstand some budget cuts before public safety suffers, and leaders probably cut other things first, but at some point it might have an effect.
Yes, 10,000 years ago our monkey brains were just fine at navigating the world as it existed. They're not just fine at it today. Today, even some of the simplest jobs require advanced skills in disparate areas, and frankly about 16% of the entire world population is not up to the task. Sixteen percent is the amount of the world population with an IQ at or under 85. These are people who struggle with tasks as simple as folding a sheet of paper into thirds, more or less perfectly, and then placing it into an envelope.
The world we live in, and almost certainly the world we're creating, has no place for these people. Even something as simple as receiving merchandise on a dock in a warehouse requires some basic computer skills, from either operating a Windows or Linux machine and interfacing with SAP, Oracle's JD Edwards, or IBM's AS/400, to figuring out the proper layout of boxes on a wooden pallet to maximize storage space of the warehouse. Something your grandfather or great grandfather did with a 6th grade education, now requires a minimum of a high school education by necessity, if not by design.
That brings me to actual answer to your question... because they don't have the decency to lay down and die. Because inside every human is an irrational desire to live, even when you're no longer useful. I know, know... a long argument can, and likely will, be made that "every life is valuable", etc., so forth. I understand and even accept those arguments on an emotional level, because I am not a machine - I am a man, and because I find it morally repugnant to allow people to die because they have no economic value.
That said... clearly there are plenty of others who do not feel the same way. If you work on AI to streamline a process or aid in manufacturing, you feel this way. The people who employ you, feel this way. You cannot design an algorithm that replaces 7,800 jobs and then throw your hands up and say, "I'm just doing my job." We either have to decide that everyone is worthy of life, regardless of their intellectual abilities and their economic contribution, or we have to decide that's not the case. Right now, because no one is taking Universal Basic Income seriously, we're clearly deciding that your value is mostly - one could argue almost entirely - economically based. We have a few exceptions to this that I can think of off the top of my head - the clergy seem to provide some kind of non-productive "good" that enough people, in America at least, feel is worth the cost of supporting them. But the factory worker who makes widgets for your ConsumerGoodX that you bought, she apparently does not.
I would like to be wrong about this, but our actions as a society say otherwise. We reward companies that reduce their "human capital" and return the money that would be spent on those salaries to either expanding their operations or in dividends to their shareholders. We reward them with higher stock prices and increased demand to purchase those stocks. We reward them by purchasing their goods. We tell ourselves another story, because if you really thought long and hard enough about it, you'd likely have to do some serious soul searching. Most of us don't want to do that.
But in countries going through late stage capitalism, if you don't have a job, you have to rob your neighbour to eat.
Any country with a strong social safety net will be far better off when unemployment spikes than one without such a net.
When humans care about their fellow man, society flourishes. When it's every man for himself, spiralling unemployment means crime, anarchy, and chaos.
Perhaps you need me to be more clear. When there is unemployment, crime goes up. This happens no matter where in the world you are. I didn't think I needed to spell that out.
Countries with a strong social safety net will be far safer when unemployment rises out of control. That's just common sense.
It's why Sweden is multiple times safe than the US, regardless of the unemployment rate. They have a social safety net.
I suspect manufacturing is somewhat less casual about their employees’ health because much of it is unionized, and training is more difficult. Warehouse workers are considered disposable.
And the service industry is light years easier than warehouse work, at least based on my time in both.
People being carried out of a factory missing a limb are more noticeable than people who stop coming to work because their backs simply can’t sustain the work any longer.
But why does this work need to be for decades? Why isn't the worker in amazon also educate themselves or upskill, so that they can move to a different career with higher paying prospects?
The days of working the same job for your entire life is gone - and that it's every person's own responsibility to keep improving their own skills and career prospects, continuously throughout their life.
Secondly, are we really sure that if everyone suddenly educated themselves into a better job that there would be enough better jobs to go around? It seems unlikely. Particularly with increased automation.
My point is that the “get a better job” argument isn’t a strong solution to providing for everyone’s needs. We’re pretty clearly getting worse in this area as a society, with stagnating wages and fewer opportunities for entry-level work which can make ends meet.
At a point, if this trend continues, you get riots and revolution when people feel they don’t have another choice. We aren’t necessarily close to that, but if these trends continue, that’s more people making less money with higher prices. At some point that leads to desperation for enough people that violence happens. Just look at Russia or France in the past couple hundred years.
My meaning with that is that it’s not just someone’s own responsibility, but that there is some level of social responsibility for maintaining a baseline.
If they were valuable, they would be valuable enough to pay a high price.
And i don't believe that it is possible to run out of high skilled jobs. It may be that in the further future, these higher skilled jobs paid just as much as low-skilled jobs of today, and the lowskilled job of today disappears due to automation. But that's a good future - it means that production and output must be very high for it to occur. And who's to say there won't be even higher skilled jobs? Or brand-new job types that's not envisioned yet? After all, human have unlimited desires which is the impetus for all economic progress.
> if this trend continues, you get riots and revolution
only if society don't invest in up-skilling. I'm a big fan of society helping those of lower skill to increase their skill. Education is one of the most efficient forms of investment a gov't can undertake.
Edit: Added the bit about all the world governments
- Health care
- Worker protections
- Required time off
- Sick time
- Maternity leave
Here its $15. And you're on your fucking own.
If you compare it to completely underdeveloped or dictatorial economies... Sure I guess its way better. But the US shouldn't be comparing comparing itself to that. Its like saying "This engineer is horrible, but he's not as bad as this drug addict that is yelling all day outside our front door!"
The US as a whole is awful at providing healthcare, but healthcare is a particular area where Amazon actually is going way above what is normal and is provided astonishingly well for its workers.
Glad to see someone like you list the real numbers, because I keep hearing "good insurance" when it comes to Amazon warehouses, but this is the first time I saw someone actually point out the specifics. Also glad to hear that Amazon warehouse workers receive health benefits on par with full-time SWEs (not being sarcastic here, I genuinely am happy to hear this is the case).
$3k for a Microsoft SWE is a "dang, I wish I didn't have to go to the hospital" situation.
$3k for an Amazon warehouse employee earning $15/hr can often be a "there go my savings, I wonder if I got this injury due to the amount of physical activity my job requires" situation.
Essentially, what it means is that if an employee spends less than $1.5k/yr on medical expenses, they don't gain much benefit. If they spend over $1.5k, they essentially only spend 10% after that on all of their medical expenses. And once they hit a hard cap at $3k, they spend nothing at all. 90% off for most medical stuff is a great rate.
Not even mentioning the fact that this kind of an insurance is a godsend to people with major health problems, given that in the worst possible scenario, they would only ever spend $3k of their own money in a calendar year on medical stuff. And that's only if their actual pre-insurance-cost expenses are closer to the $16.5k, because $1.5k + $1.5k/0.1 = $16.5k.
And I am yet to see a better insurance out of any employers (not just warehouse employers). Even the "amazing" student insurance I had back in college (which I had to pay the premium for) was much worse than this.
Nitpicking here, but they probably do, because the insurance-negotiated prices for many services are much better than the prices prices you could negotiate yourself -- and that is assuming you even have the skills and energy to do any negotiating.
I have a high-deductible plan, which on paper covers literally nothing until I hit something over $7k/yr in expenses, which I thankfully never have. However, I usually pay 30-60% less than the uninsured cash price for my appointments and procedures just because I'm on the plan in the first place.
I often (not always) check this with the provider, so it's not like I'm just blindly assuming the discount claimed by the insurance company is accurate. It's usually not, but the discount still seems to be substantial.
In exactly one case I ended up saving like 50 bucks per dermatologist appointment by paying them directly.
I'm 38 and also have a $7k+ deductible (my plan is HDHP), costs me $275/mo.
Currently it's something like "we charge you a lot for the first few months but also give you the money to pay it in your HSA", which makes you wonder why they give it to you in the first place. It's not like you can optimize your prescriptions out of your life, so it's not enabling choice.
Btw, once you're 65 you can withdraw money for no reason without a penalty, so it's no worse than a traditional IRA. Too bad deposits are taxed in California.
That said, having to pay up to $3k a year in medical costs when you're earning a Microsoft salary is a much smaller percent of your income than having the pay the same making $15/hr at an Amazon warehouse.
And I agree with your point, that type of an insurance with a fixed cut-off is regressive in a similar way that a sales tax it. So please don't get me wrong, I am not trying to say that Amazon warehouse workers have it just as good as Microsoft SWEs in terms of benefits (or just in general).
They do, however, have the type of health benefits/insurance that is extremely difficult to beat by literally anyone except what other big tech companies provide to their SWEs. And afaik those benefits for Amazon warehouse workers kick-in on day 1, unlike what it's like at many other similar warehouse jobs.
The latter should absolutely be avoided, but an HSA is basically just another tax-advantaged retirement account along the lines of an IRA.
When I said "i don't personally touch it", I didn't mean that I avoid it. I just know that it is a part of my benefit package, i get contributions in there, but that's about it. I don't even look at it or interact with it in any way otherwise, because I am not planning to use it until much later in life.
Probably much easier than it would be for a warehouse worker. Though I have no idea how this is relevant to what was said in the message you were replying to.
Given the physical nature of the work, I'd consider them more enlightened if they provided a lower deductible at the $0 premium level for every warehouse worker across the board. I'm really getting tired of places treating the long term mental and physical health of workers as an unpriced externality that's later paid for by society.
Also, thanks to motardo for the data point. (I will assume you're an actual warehouse worker.)
> but it is the minimum $0 monthly premium plan.
The monthly premium is the cost of the insurance plan. A "$0" premium isn't actually $0, it means that Amazon is paying 100% of the monthly costs of maintaining the insurance, requiring $0 contribution from the employee. Many companies (especially warehouse type operations) are less generous, and require some monthly contribution from the employee to pay the premium. The worst health insurance I ever had required me to pay 100% of the monthly premium, with $0 committed by the company. That company lost a lot of employees.
> I pay 100% of the first $1500
This is the "deductible". The covered person is responsible for 100% of costs until the deductible is met, although there are many exceptions. For example, a routine checkup might be 100% covered ($0 cost), as well as a range of preventative care procedures described by the ACA.
> then 10% of the next $15,000
After the deductible has been met, the person is responsible for coinsurance of additional costs. An extra $5000 procedure would translate to a $500 bill for the patient.
> then 0% of anything over $16,500.
This is where the "out of pocket maximum" or OOPM is reached. In this case, the most the patient could expect to pay is $1500 (deductible) + $1500 (10% of next $15K) = $3000. After that, all excess charges are handled by the insurance company until the insurance year resets.
In short: Health care will cost between $0 and $3000 depending on how many services are used for the year (excluding fully covered benefits like annual checkup, depression screening, breast cancer screening for women, vaccinations, and other services covered for free under the ACA)
This is an important point. And a related point.
- Because the OOP payments reset annually, there are perverse incentives to over consume medical care after OOP is reached within a given year. Defer preventative health care until after you have a major medical problem that runs to max OOP, then stack up on preventative care before the year ends.
- Related: Insurance is also tied to employer - if you change jobs, all those OOP values reset (to whatever policies are in place with new employer). This causes friction in the labor market - employer-provided and -subsidized health care prevents people from looking for new employment.
In general, we wouldn't even use it to access private health care, because we would then face substantial fees to use it (I don't know exactly; it varies significantly by procedure, has a $500 deductible, substantial copay, and has maximum caps), however we're taxed heavily for not having a private policy.
Our family income has recently pushed over some thresholds in the rebate system, pushing up prices even more, might have to shop around to find an even more useless but cheaper policy.
Australia's public health system is pretty decent, but the half baked private system bolted on the side is a mess. Lots of people paying thousands for unusable insurance which is just sent directly to private companies.
But I assume a company like Amazon is dealing with a large insurer part of nationwide networks like BCBS.
Also, insurance companies have their own doctors and pharmacists that might disagree with the patient's doctor's treatment plans, and will not cover the healthcare costs for those items without a "prior authorization" from the insurer. There's an appeal system in place for this too. Although, this type of thing exists without health insurers too, it's just employees of the government deciding what to approve and not approve.
Actually, out-of-network emergency care is an 'essential benefit' under the ACA, so most plans do cover this scenario.
I actually just screwed myself with this recently. I went to an urgent care while traveling (because that is usually cheaper when I'm at home) and it wasn't covered. An urgent care apparently doesn't count as emergency care. It turns out that I should have gone to the (typically very expensive) ER instead -- it would have been covered 100% because of the ACA!
Every time I dig into ACA, I find that it’s a pretty decent framework for a non taxpayer funded healthcare system.
From what I understand, order picking there must be god awful, but being the receiving clerk might not be so bad. Being on-site IT might not be so bad. Certainly being the Director of Operations for that warehouse wouldn't be bad... at least I wouldn't think.
You've been mislead by propaganda. They have healthcare, protections, etc.
In Alabama you cannot qualify for medicaid unless you are a "needy child, parent, caregiver, pregnant woman, or elderly/disabled resident". Meaning you can't qualify just for being low income.
While Amazon does provide decent health insurance, most lower income jobs do not.
I make good money, and have good health insurance and it would still cost me over $1k to go to the hospital. Imagine doing that with no health insurance while making $10/hr.
EDIT: You updated your comment so I'll add on. Sure, Amazon provides health insurance, but a lot of businesses don't. In 2020, ~31 million Americans didn't have insurance. Even if you have health insurance, premiums and deductibles can be astronomical.
Europe is not one country. I hope you realize it's hard to generalize.
So while your comment is half correct, I think you should give the parent commenter the benefit of the doubt before you try and "well actually" them.
Such a difference between talking about working at a warehouse from the outside vs being born into a life that traps you there.
I think HN struggles with topics like unionisation because most of us have just never been at the bottom of society without a way out. We’re relatively rich and so highly skilled - we lucked out to be nerds in a world of tech, perhaps due to timing or perhaps because our parents were wealthy enough to put us here.
It’s the same phenomena of loving Uber or Airbnb and not understanding the cost to others.
I don’t know how to solve this problem. I don’t personally want to go work at an Amazon warehouse so I can see how awful it is. I work damn hard but I know how lucky I must be.
How do you get the rich to realise that the poor are simply, by definition, less fortunate?
I think a significant difference is that most folks in tech do not live and work among the skilled and unskilled laborers. In the military, you know the cook, the plumber, the electrician, and the riflemen, the air traffic controller, the network technician. Personally. You've been around the world together, you may have been in firefights together.
In the military, the headquarters jobs with the bean counters are rare. Bean counting is essentially synonymous with 'fat and happy'. In tech, the equivalent of bean-counting headquarters is 90% of the organization. It's extremely advanced bean-counting, but the field units have atrophied quite a little bit.
I really like your perspective. Reminds me of the attempts in new towns in the UK to try to mix different socioeconomic classes on the same street. "Show me and I'll understand." I grew up in a deprived town (but my family was comfortable) and I've worked a lot of awful jobs, maybe that helps.
So a good first step would be to integrate within companies more? Perhaps corporates deliberately avoid that. Much easier to treat warehouse staff badly if your valuable engineers don't know them personally.
There is so much digging at Amazon I’d like to see the delivery and warehouse work role required performance metrics and work role benefits posted so we can look at facts.
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me, 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store"
That's ignoring the whole healthcare situation... which I think you're leaving out of the equation.
30 seconds of searching indicates the average grocery store clerk in the UK makes 8.80GPB/hr. Add on healthcare and they're coming out far ahead of an amazon warehouse worker.
Of course the US healthcare system is broken so I know what you're getting at but I don't know that I want Amazon to pay their workers > $15 to subsidize a broken healthcare system for their workers I just want a functional healthcare system and for them to continue to make $15/hr.
Sorry, are you seriously trying to claim an HSA is better than universal healthcare?
>Of course the US healthcare system is broken so I know what you're getting at but I don't know that I want Amazon to pay their workers > $15 to subsidize a broken healthcare system for their workers I just want a functional healthcare system and for them to continue to make $15/hr.
I'm not even sure where you're going with this. The original claim was that $15/hr was better than you can get in Europe. I pointed out the hourly wage actually isn't much better, and oh by the way, that wage doesn't include healthcare (which it doesn't). If you want healthcare coverage you have a monthly fee, plus your co-pay and deductible. Not even REMOTELY competitive to western Europe unless you're one of the lucky few who literally never gets in an accident and never gets sick (as well as your entire family).
It's not an HSA and nothing else. It looks like it's similar to my employer plan which is actually more generous than some universal systems - I/my partner use about the same services here and in Australia and I pay less here. Mainly because universal systems don't always cover dentists/specialists/mental health.
I was attempting to nicely dismiss your comparison.
I think it can be. Depends on the details but an HSA comes with a high-deductible plan. This is normally ideal for young people, who are generally healthy and only need insurance for rare catastrophic illness or serious accidents. Normal, routine care (checkups, immunizations, etc.) can be budgeted and paid out of the HSA tax-free. I don't see why that stuff should be "free" for most people, any more than groceries or utilities or housing should be.
I do. Having a healthy population benefits me. Having people immunised, cared for and well keeps me healthier and safer. Having people lose homes and jobs and potentially their lives because they can’t afford healthcare is not something I support.
Study by the NIH: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5296930/
I started with a new doctor after finally getting insurance a few years back. I told them I needed to come in for my annual check-up, and came in with a list of the things that had been bothering me and that I hadn't been able to get looked at (this is common for people who have not had healthcare access). The doctor spent 15 minutes with me, doing the bare minimum of setting up outside testing/imaging - as in, basically no guidance that day - and then coded it as a 45-minute, in-depth consultation ("because of the number of issues addressed"). $250. Before any tests or treatment. For reference, that was about 1% of my annual take-home. For a lot of you, that's like paying a grand or more just for your doctor to direct you elsewhere.
So, yeah, certain things are "covered." But the structure of our healthcare system forces our clinics and hospitals to operate like many other American businesses, which is "in a predatorial manner."
If you say “my knee hurts lately”, then that’s separate as the physician will do an evaluation that is separate from a routine physical.
And it’s not just the US. I have family in Canada and they were told maximum of 2 complaints can be addressed as they can only bill for a certain amount of time. Beyond that the doctor is working for free. Another separate appointment is needed.
If you view a person and their health in a holistic manner, you can't just say, "Well, I've got you set up to check for diabetes and Crohn's, but if you want me to consider that mole then you'll have to pay me another $300 and/or wait a few weeks until I'm not so booked."
My point was that "free preventative care" is not a panacea. Any time a doctor is incentivized to turn that visit into a money-maker, they'll gladly attempt to. And that's wrong.
The difference is that I would not personally be out 1-3 weeks worth of food money for each visit, just establishing my baseline. In neither case would what happened be a "matter of billing" because I would never receive a bill.
The doctor gets paid $X for a preventive visit. If you start adding things on that will be flagged to ensure doctor get paid more, typically through additional billing codes.
The original comment was “why do I get billed more when I bring up issues during a preventative visit”?
You have no empathy for people who can never afford ridiculous health care systems in private systems. This optimises the failed "rugged individual" philosophy that has only lead to ruin.
I’m not American and have only just learned about HSAs and totally fail to understand your comment. Could you explain how they help someone poor pay for medical expenses? Doesn’t the account get low/empty and then you’re out of funds?
I'm not sure how Amazon works, but my plans works something like (I'm rounding to make it easy, the reality is slightly more complex) that I pay everything for the first $3000, then for the next $15,000 I pay 20%, and thereafter I pay nothing. My total out of pocket is $6000/year, which is also the most I can put into the HSA per year, and my employer matches some of my contributions to in reality I'm getting $7k/year while only a few rare loop holes can get me close to needing that much. It is very rare for anyone to have more than $18k in medical expense per year (I had a baby last year and still am well below that), so for most people the HSA is another retirement account.
Now the HSA does mean I'm not paying $100/month for my insurance, but instead $600/month. However most of the money is invested using the HSA as a retirement account for my medical needs. The idea of the HSA (which has not worked out in practice) is because the money is mine I'll have incentive to shop around for cheaper medical procedures to make sure there is more money for my future retirement, and this should lower costs (in practice most medical things can't be shopped around for, but a few people do look at their itemized bills and sometimes notice a billed procedure that wasn't done).
Now that $600 is $3-4/hr, which is not insignificant to someone making $15/hr. However here again things get complex. That money is pre-tax income, so your taxes are almost cut in half for the year (granted this is only $500 - and only for a single person who can't claim anything else).
It’s a phenomenal sum of money to spend, and while you have clearly considered your options, it really shows how expensive it is in the US.
That said, I was surprised to see how high it is in New Zealand where I am ($4204) and how much less you are spending than the average in the US ($10906).
The median person in the US doesn't spend much more on healthcare than the median European and their income is much higher. (Median income in a poor state like Alabama is higher than the UK.)
Plus we have working clothes dryers. Meanwhile in Sweden they're so poor they have to ration the tvättstuga.
That’s the same everywhere though. If you want to record the most expensive year of healthcare in someone’s lifetime, it’s a safe bet that the last year is going to be at, or near the top. Like has been compared with like.
> Plus we have working clothes dryers.
I’m missing something, and I suspect it’s obvious. What’s this about sorry?
You're right it is comparable, although it's affected by the country's demographics. I just mean if you're moving to the US as a working-age person, it is not going to represent your situation. A median or age distribution would be more informative.
> I’m missing something, and I suspect it’s obvious. What’s this about sorry?
That's just a fun quality of life fact about the US. Europe has better transit, we have better and bigger housing and our appliances work better. We're more likely to have air conditioning too.
(Clothes dryers don't work very well unless they're vented to the outside, and in older brick buildings like Europe, and for some reason also in Japan, they aren't always.)
I likewise had some of the best American specialists in GI and oncology. I also ended up with six figures in medical debt despite having incredible insurance and a great job. I also experienced excruciating wait times at emergency rooms that dwarfed anything I’ve encountered at the A&E in the UK.
The NHS obviously has massive scope for improvement and isn’t even the healthcare system I have felt the most secure in (that was the Swiss) but I am confident that the NHS is almost certainly better for the average Brit than the US medical system is for the average American.
I'm glad you've had a better experience with the NHS than I have; my wife has a chronic condition and has had a pretty bad time in the NHS - she hates going to the doctors now from how many times she's been called a liar or accused of just trying to feed a painkiller addiction (despite not actually asking for painkillers). All because many doctors seemingly struggle to admit that they don't know what's wrong.
I just bring this up because I think (and I could be wrong) that some people see socialised healthcare as a panacea but my experience with it is that it's actually very inconsistent and regularly lets people down (not just my wife, a good few others that I know as well). I still wouldn't choose the US system over the NHS though, not by a long shot.
Do they? Every socialised healthcare system is crying out for money and is in need of help. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone claim one is perfect.
Oh, and granted it was just the one experience, but the wait time seemed on par with an urgent care here in the US.
That sounds really weird. Why would a UK doctor not fix a break?
I’m guessing there was a medical reason rather than anything to do with the NHS or quality of care?
I've had other NHS experiences that make this not particularly surprising.
incorrect. they are OFFERED healthcare coverage. By this use of the word have, I have a private jet because I could buy one if I had the resources.
Did you know that the United States is the wealthiest country in the world?
In aggregate, sure; its somewhere between 5th-8th by per capita GDP, which is the more relevant comparison, depending on source.
But the UK isn’t even close to the US, or particularly near the top in Western Europe (which yas countries ahead of the US.)
Is it fair to compare the average wage of a warehouse worker across the entirety of the U.K. with the starting wage of a warehouse worker in a single deeply impoverished town?
And if it's just plane fare, there are probably a lot of places you can make it with a bus ticket that have better prospects without needing to go to Europe.
Top of mind why someone would NOT want to work in "Europe":
- lower salaries
- much higher tax rate
- stuff in general is more expensive (higher VAT + everything that's imported)
Healthcare in the UK is not as good as you may think it is. Unless you love waiting lines for life-threatening conditions.
And even if they didn't, through the Affordable Care Act, someone at that income level can buy a "Gold" plan with low deductibles for $75/month. Obviously for Amazon workers, that's irrelevant.
K-12 education is free, and once you factor in-state tuition and FAFSA, university is also basically free for anyone that continues to make minimum wage throughout their career.
The estimated cost of attendance at one of the closest public universities, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has a yearly estimated cost of attendance of $28,695 for in-state students.
University isn't 'basically free' for low income students. My parents lived below the poverty line their entire lives. I graduated with my bachelor's degree and $80k worth of loan debt.
Sure low-income students might be eligible for needs-based grants and scholarships offered at their college. But federal support for low-income students is pitiful and college for those students is a far cry from free.
You’re also narrowly scoping this to talking about one of the largest and fanciest universities in the state. Meanwhile, there are plenty of other colleges in the area that cost fractions of Bama. And of note, Amazon actually pays for up to 95% of tuition/fees for warehouse workers who choose to pursue associates degrees.
There are certainly societal problems in the US regarding education costs and healthcare, but these are both areas where Amazon is actually providing for its workers way, way above what the federal government provides, and even way above what is normal for most Americans (the health insurance that Amazon warehouse workers get is likely better than the health insurance of most of the people posting in this thread). This is the kind of stuff that needs to be kept in mind to understand why Bessemer residents don’t all see Amazon as evil.
The University of Texas's program is:
2.) Covers students enrolled at the time the program went into affect. It doesn't cover recently-graduated students.
3.) Only covers Texas residents (meaning it's irrelevant to a conversation about Amazon employees in Alabama)
4.) Only covers tuition, not cost of living. Cost of living, of course, is more than half of total cost of attendance at the University of Texas.
Go ahead. Ask me how I know what it's like to be a low-income student at the University of Texas.
> "You’re also narrowly scoping this to talking about one of the largest and fanciest universities in the state."
I scoped it to one of two public universities near Bessemer, Alabama. UAB isn't the flagship campus, the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. By the way, the other public university near Bessemer is the University of Montevallo. It has a cost of attendance of 27,845 per year for in-state students.
> "And of note, Amazon actually pays for up to 95% of tuition/fees for warehouse workers who choose to pursue associates degrees."
Is that generous? Yeah. To some extent. But keep in mind the following:
1.) It only applies to associates degrees.
2.) The yearly payout is $3,000 (for full-time employees, half that for part time)
3.) You have to have worked for a year to be eligible
4.) Amazon only covers certain degrees
You also have to continue working a demanding job with irregular hours. It's not nothing, I agree. But I've worked other non-skilled jobs with much more generous tuition reimbursement packages (including, but not limited to: eligibility for dependents, unrestricted major choice, applicability to four-year degrees, and more generous yearly maximums).
> "This is the kind of stuff that needs to be kept in mind to understand why Bessemer residents don’t all see Amazon as evil."
I never said anything about Amazon being evil, or whether Bessemer residents see Amazon as evil. In fact, if you look at my posting history, I've been very upfront that I am an employee of Amazon.
Further, 'not being evil' and 'providing more then the federal (or state governments)' is a very low bar to cross. It doesn't obviate the need for a union.
Infuriatingly disingenuous argument.
Talk about an argument being disingenuous. Don’t put words in my mouth.
In Alabama, you can actually use the net price calculator here: https://financialaid.ua.edu/net-price-calculator/
For a family of 2 that earns minimum wage tuition goes as low as $8,000/year in total, and that's excluding any Federal grants or loans.
Generally speaking, sticker price != net price for the vast majority of students: https://www.manhattan-institute.org/new-approach-curbing-col...
From the link: "The average annual net cost at a four-year public college has grown by almost 81% beyond inflation over the past decade, to $3,870."
Again, I'm sorry to hear about your personal experience; it's totally valid. It's, however, not representative of the median or the majority of the lower class.
To rephrase: "For a family of 2 that earns minimum wage, tuition remains more than 50% of your gross income."
The same source notes that the net TFRB (which I'm reading as cost of attendance, as it isn't defined anywhere) is $15,500, with $6,500 in grants. Or a CoA of ~$9,000 annually. This remains above the 50% number I mentioned.
And it's worth noting that these grants aren't solely federal grants. Universities (and states) offer all kinds of non-need-based aid. The one I'm familiar with, since I'm from Georgia, is the Hope scholarship.
This grant offers 6-10K per year, which is amazing, unless you lose it part way through your education (by failing to maintain what can be a fairly difficult GPA requirement). I nearly lost it my first year. That would have been an additional cost of ~20K over the remainder of my education. That was stressful for me, an upper middle class person with financially responsible parents who had decent savings for my education.
That kind of stress would be compounded for someone who started in more dire financial straits, and who was more heavily relying on the grant money.
: And while some people can live at home, this is not available to many people, and can negatively impact your ability to network and build a social support network with peers at university, which is extremely valuable.
In addition to HOPE, you also have Zell-Miller which is even more generous (covers housing, food, and books).
The fact that Georgia's aid is tied to merit is a system that I personally agree with, but understand why someone might not. It's something that the voters of each State should litigate.
> (I went to Georgia Tech)
Then you're probably familiar with at least part of the controversy: maintaining the Zell/HOPE GPA requirement at GT is difficult. So for an above average, but not exceptional student, or a student who doesn't have a strong support network, the rational decision can be to go to a worse school because maintaining the GPA requirement will be easier.
That means UGA (or State or KSU) over Tech for many people. I think that there are a variety of reasons that's a misalignment of incentives (and thankfully there seems to be some improvements happening in this area).
Yes, and I don't see a problem with that. The best schools are for the best students. This response shouldn't surprise you, coming from an alumna of Georgia Tech, which is an extremely rigorous and prestigious school.
I understand that values differ, but at some point, personal responsibility and merit need to count for something.
If the net result of this is that an unexceptional poor student ends up going to KSU or Georgia State instead of Georgia Tech, I'm okay with that. KSU and Georgia State are perfectly fine schools, and its graduates go on to lead perfectly fine lives outside of poverty. I recommend playing with this tool which allows you to see, for every single school and major, what the earnings vs debt is: https://www.wsj.com/articles/which-college-graduates-make-th...
Not everyone is entitled to go to Georgia Tech (or MIT or Harvard) for free; and there are plenty of middle-of-the-lane universities that provide opportunities for unexceptional students, at little to no cost.
I am eternally grateful for the FAFSA/Pell Grant program. Without it, I wouldn't be conducting fundamental science and getting paid 6 figures.
I know this is N=1 sample size, just wanted to put it out there.
I think college should be free only for people that cannot afford it. Rich kids should pay.
Here is some more information:
Talking about Germany here by the way.
Talking about the wealthiest country in Europe. I'm glad you are not cherry picking your data when you expose facts.
Unless you mean that the US is in fact not a wealthy country if you are looking at above facts. Then that's something that could be argued.
The US is almost exactly as diverse as the EU (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_terr...). Alabama is more comparable to Estonia than it is to Germany.
If you want to compare apples to apples, there are States in the US where citizens pay higher taxes and get benefits like free university: https://money.cnn.com/2017/04/08/pf/college/new-york-free-tu...
Bullshit. In Italy only the lowest income brackets get free healthcare, everyone else has various degree of copay. And even then you get terrible services, with queues several months long for exams and quality far inferior from what you get going trough the private sector.
And when I worked and lived in Dublin, same story, I had to pay 270€ for using emergency services at a public hospital and was lucky to have them covered by the private insurance my employer provided.
Proper dental procedures, substitutive hormone therapy, plenty rate stuff require specialists or medicines that mutua doesn't pass. heck if you have a condition that require a specialist during pregnancy you're going to have to pay everything out of your money to avoid the random ginecologist rotation, to the tune of 120€+/visit, and you're going to need ten or more if any complication arises.
This is the typical uninformed comment from some ableist that never actually had to suffer from the Italian healthcare beyond the most basic services.
Utterly false as a general rule, and free is not as glamorous as you make it sound like. Some doctors will refuse to see patients who are on the free healthcare system, too.
> if you need an expensive treatment
Yeah, if you can wait for it. Ever heard of surgery that sometimes take a year to reserve? Well that's the standard in Europe for certain conditions.
I need more information about that health care plan. Last time I looked at the market I was looking at worse premiums, coverage, and limits and making garbage pay.
My plan is $500/mo from me and $1500 from my employer with, iirc, 8000 max oop
Edit: I reviewed the plans they offer. Mine is significantly better, excluding the max oop. Anyone know what the costs are for for the plans?
I honestly have trouble believing yours is “significantly better”. One of the Amazon plans is a $300/year deductible with $2,300/year oop, and costs $80/month, and Amazon contributes $500/year towards your HRA. Another plan has no deductible, and $1,500/year oop. Those are some of the best healthcare insurance plans I’ve ever seen in the US, period. I’d believe it if yours was about the same, but it’s pretty difficult to be “significantly better” than those.
E: I'd love to see the official coverage breakdown offers with prices if anyone has them please share, email in profile if you don't want to share publicly.
You understand that you are paying more in premiums than the premium _plus_ out-of-pocket maximums of these plans, right?
A quick Google search gives https://www.premera.com/documents/042884.pdf which indicates $31 per month (or $14.31 per biweekly pay period), which is $372 per _year_, plus Amazon refunds $500 into your HSA.
There is no way your plan could be better for you, regardless of your circumstances. You start off more than $6000 in the hole compared to the Amazon plan.
Furthermore, it is a bad historical precedent to rely on employers for healthcare. This was a poor side-effect of the wage-hike stoppages during WWII that was later tax-exempted through federal law. It was never well thought out.
Finally, how many people in this town feel they have equal opportunity for social mobility? Decades of economic stagnation and degradation have thrown any plausible arguments towards a "meritocracy/American dream/everyone has an equal chance at success" out the window.
Amazon's plans can be found here: https://www.amazon.jobs/en/landing_pages/benefitsoverview-us
These plans are extended to every single Amazon employee, including the warehouse workers. Most of the warehouse workers we're talking about would probably choose the Kaiser HMO that has $0 deductible and 100% coverage; all they would pay is $30 co-pay. This is more or less how the single payer healthcare works in Australia, for example.
No. We're talking about workers in Alabama, and Kaiser is listed on that very page as regional: Kaiser Permanente HMO (California, Colorado, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Washington)
I'm assuming Amazon charges employees some portion of the insurance premium, as most employers do? Also, there's this:
> Amazon’s benefits can vary by location, the number of regularly scheduled hours you work, length of employment, and job status such as seasonal or temporary employment.
You're correct that there's regional variation, but that's mostly a function of the medical networks. For instance, UHC's network may have more coverage in the Northeast than Blue Cross Blue Shield (or vice versa).
Ultimately, as full-time employees, Amazon's warehouse workers are entitled to the exact same health insurance as their white collar counterparts sitting in the offices, and they offer extremely above average Cadillac health insurance.
I didn't think so. My company offers us Kaiser as an option as well, but only for folks in states where Kaiser operates (I'm in Michigan). I thought one of the distinctive features of Kaiser is that they offer insurance _and_ have their own clinics.
Regardless, the point of Amazon offering quality healthcare plans to the warehouse workers is still great to hear!
For anyone not living in the permanently-fucked US, an explanation: your health insurance covers you for "in network" doctors at an "in network" hospital. If you go to an "in network" hospital you would assume (wrongly) that you are fully covered. But no. Some random anesthesiologist can come into your room, provide their service for 20 minutes, and stick you with a $5,000 bill because they are "out of network". And you have ERISA insurance and you are just plain fucked.
Anyone getting health services in the US must hang a sign on their door saying "In Network Only". I'm 100% serious. Every person that walks in your room must be vetted. And good luck if they can't find an "in network" surgeon for that emergency service or whatever.
Everything you're saying is partially correct, but it heavily depends on the specifics of the plan. FAANG companies, in particular, typically have extremely generous PPO plans that offer 0 co-insurance and broad networks. You're correct that, out-of-network, balance billing may occur, but Amazon's plans have networks so broad that this is unlikely to happen.
In addition, if you look at Amazon's plan documentation, they also offer a Kaiser HMO for which none of this applies.
There's a lot that can be improved around price transparency, but Amazon is one of the few companies that offers Cadillac gold-standard insurance, and because ERISA requires that all employees receive the same benefits, this extends to their full-time warehouse workers too.
> Amazon's plans have networks so broad that this is unlikely to happen
I mean, this doesn't sound reassuring you know. "unlikely" and "depends on the specifics". That's kind of the problem. No one knows what is covered and what is not. Billing in the US is this labyrinthine thing where hospitals, doctors, and insurance all seem to be making it up as they go along in conjunction with whatever they feel are the laws and whatever they feel like they can get away with. Leaving it up to the patient to appeal after appeal after appeal on a flood of bills they will receive, depending on their operation or service.
You can't even get a detailed bill out of some of these places. The doctors vanish and you're literally stuck talking to one of those robocalling bill collector agencies, which probably has a PO Box in fucking Alaska. It's shady as hell. All of it.
All that being said...
> I mean, this doesn't sound reassuring you know. "unlikely" and "depends on the specifics". That's kind of the problem. No one knows what is covered and what is not.
The "likelihood" of this happening, while probabilistic, isn't purely random. I found this tweet by a health policy expert to perfectly capture the status quo: https://twitter.com/CPopeHC/status/1234510323425652737
"American healthcare in short:
~60% (in good employer plans, generous state Medicaid, or M.Adv/Medigap) have the best healthcare in the world.
~30% have insurance with gaps/risk of big bills.
~10% uninsured must rely on uncompensated care, go without treatment, or risk bankruptcy
The strength of M4A proposals is that they begin with an understanding that the 40% exist and need things fixed.
Their weakness is that they pretend that the 60% don't, and threaten to take away what they have."
Amazon is, pretty reliably, part of that 60%; it offers some of the best employer health coverage out there. Like, it doesn't even compare to public health plans in a lot of the world.
All of the problems you brought up (labyrinthine systems, appeal processes, bill collector agencies in Alaska) are real problems that you and I agree need to be solved, but they're also problems that don't afflict beneficiaries of generous plans paid for by rich companies, and that's what we're talking about in the context of Amazon Warehouse workers.
That said: prereq is you’re bonkers smart.
Meh. I went to an Ivy league, as did my sister. My wife was a grad student at Stanford. My classmates were clever, but they weren't that smart! The standardized test scores can be improved with work.
As for standing out with your essay and CV, I remember a talk from an admissions officer from Harvard. His take was that it's easy to stand out from 99% of students just by actually doing real, substantive work. He wasn't talking about the stuff that's designed to be a student CV stuffer to impress admissions. Do actual, substantive work.
Something like a substantive contribution to a scientific field. Amateurs can still do this. Maybe run a real business. The example this admissions officer gave was someone who dropped out of High School, got a GED, then started repairing motorcycle engines. Then, you also need to make sure your essay is well written, which is another skill which can be learned. Relate your experience back to the academic opportunity, and how this would enable you to benefit society.
There is a problem with this way of thinking of admissions: If you do pursue it in earnest, you might well decide to skip university entirely.
I went to an Ivy coming from an inner city public school and I found it a big culture shock in terms of both how well behaved people were in classrooms and also how quick/smart people were to grasp what I was saying and build on it. By the time I was a senior, I had lapsed to the "people here actually aren't that smart" line of thought - but I wonder if I just got used to being around more intelligent people.
The "not smart" people are the latter category: they can still pick things up quickly, but they viewed getting into the institution as the last hurdle they'll have to go through in order to be set for life. They just coasted and got Cs and didn't really care about learning new stuff because they knew the university's name on their degree alone would land them some cushy PM job where they wouldn't need that pesky coding ability every again).
It was actually infuriating because I really enjoy CS and getting paired up with these folks who were born with a silver spoon in their mouths but didn't care was disappointing. Most of them were uncomfortable with the mental struggle of doing difficult group projects, often just showing up for the "design session" but skipping out on most of the coding. I made a lot of enemies out of them when I told the profs to look at my (GPG-signed) git commits and consider how they want to distribute grading points.
I laughed. Did it change something in the end?
I learned most of the "defensive git" tricks during this time because I caught one of these guys trying to rewrite history to claim credit for my commit. That guy got referred to the university's "ya dun messed up bigtime" committee (I forget the actual title) and I think he was kicked out for academic dishonesty. Ever since then I gpg sign all my commits!
Great. It's one thing not to do anything (and get penalized for it accordingly) but trying to claim ownership is a whole new level.
There's an expensive way of protecting one's work: have an individual oral quiz on the code that was written.
I've met people who I would describe as "bonkers smart", as the comment I was replying to had it. That is, people who are literally 2-3 times faster at getting to the next step, and just leave the entire room behind, when the room contains a dozen graduate students. They are not that common, even in a place that's supposed to be populated by the intellectual elite.
how well behaved people were in classrooms and also how quick/smart people were to grasp what I was saying and build on it
These are just skills/habits that can be learned!
Not everywhere in Europe, and "free healthcare" is largely a myth. It's free until it's not. You need glasses? Out of your pocket, and it's super expensive. You need to stay in hospital? It's not going to be anywhere free. And they will kick you out as soon as they can as they are starving for beds and resources. Good luck with that.
Sure, you can always go to the emergencies to get free treatment, and wait 10 hours to see someone who is overworked to diagnose your issues.
Nobody is ever going to kick you out of hospital. It's covered and the stay is usually longer than in the US where they kick you out right after you wake up.
The wait times are not worse than in the US, never had to wait more than 2-3 hrs in the hospital.
Neither you would ever receive a surprise bill from the hospital.
I live in the US (originally from EU) and I don't like people arguing the EU healthcare sucks without experiencing it themselves.
No matter what your job/status is, you don't have to be scared to see any doctor - dentist, specialist, eye doctor...
Usually you know when you need a root canal. It's usually because just getting a tooth filled is more expensive than getting it pulled, and most 'decent' dentists won't do pulls, because it eventually, allegedly, leads to all of your teeth shifting and falling out.
I've had dental insurance a couple of times, and while it was $20 to get a full cleaning and xray or whatever, they wanted me to get braces for $2500 out of pocket. I've never had another dentist i was paying for myself ever mention braces or anything else. from 20-38 i went to the dentist like 5 times, 3 cleanings when i had insurance, and 2 wisdom extraction. I'm well aware i lucked out in the dentistry lottery, most people i know have way more problems with their teeth, and i am unsure why, so i never judge people on their dental accoutrements.
Germany and Netherlands for example the payment is in the order of 100 euros a month for health insurance.
Single payer health care is not necessary 'free'. Here in Czechia one pays mandatory 'health tax/insurance' in addition to regular income tax. But still (IMHO) better than US system.
Why do we keep using this term? There is no such thing as free healthcare. There is taxpayer paid healthcare. I'm not being critical of taxpayer paid healthcare. Those countries made that choice as to how they would pay for healthcare. Cool. Sounds like a good choice. But can we stop calling it "free" please.
Education is also not free... Rant off. Sorry for the interruption.
But yes, it comes with affordable healthcare, free education, longer vacation, and maternity leave.
I don't think most of my colleagues in academia could physically complete a shift in an Amazon warehouse. Is that a skill?
The labels unskilled and entry level are used to depress wage expectations not accurately represent the requirements of the work performed because the work is deemed to be of low economic value.
It doesn’t mean, and has never meant it was easy work or anyone could survive doing it for long - rather that the necessary skills (for the majority of the population who doesn’t already have them by dint of existing) can be taught in about 5 minutes by someone not trained in teaching it to you.
Ditch digging is ‘unskilled’ because anyone who can figure out a shovel can do it, and theoretically any random passerby could do it (for a time) to a competent degree. This is unlike a ‘skilled’ trade, or craft such as electrical work, surveying, etc.
It’s something very few people could actually sustain for very long - I spent a week ditch digging before when I was younger - but part of why the pay is terrible and the work is hard is because any rando who needs some cash this week can do it. There is a ton of competition keeping prices low and conditions hard.
I live in the middle of The Netherlands; the average house price is 360k and the average wage is 36k, that's around 10x salary to house cost.
One important point: in almost all cases in NL both partners work, the general rule is that women work part time and increasingly couples under 40 both work full time. That's how the insane house market is propped up.
Healthcare costs are around 200 EUR / person / month at the limit (you pay ~110 and the deductible is about 900 EUR a year).
Food? Health care? Transportation?
I'll try for you: the cohesive view of cost of living would show these rubes to be peasants to the unskilled European's millionaire.
Interesting point, where's your data?
Exactly. Why would u/flavorous make a drive-by comment and not cite any data?
I expected something like this, for international comparisons:
That link and your refrains about data are signs of flailing due to lack of rhetorical content. Your argument is Europe good; US bad.
has fewer people and they earn less, not fewer people who earn less.
You're right that healthcare could be more expensive, but there is also employer-covered health insurance.
That’s 3.4% of income, lower than the typical health insurance tax in European counties.
Are they perfect? No. Pretending the systems flaws are somehow Amazon being evil vs the American medical and safety net being a morass of bureaucracy and bullshit is just wrong though.
I'm certain that a small town in Italy or Spain could come out cheaper.
Apropos of nothing: Much pedantry about wages in a blighted area. Crickets about billionaires sharing some of their cheddar with the peons.
Why ... what did you think that the subject was, dear ?
So yeah, you can have your own opinion. That doesn't mean that the opinion is beyond criticism, nor does it mean it's a rational thought out opinion from all points of view, considering all the facts.
Curious, what would you say is better to do? I could see either one of those choices as being equally rational and justifiable. I honestly lean a little more towards the stereo. Your answer depends on your outlook in life and your interests and wants/needs in the moment. It's not so simple as objective 'data on the situation'. Furthermore, claiming that you can deduce quickly what is rational and right for someone else is a little condescending.
Or are we talking about the hicks that vote against government healthcare and social safety nets despite the fact that they would themselves benefit?
"Voting against their interest" is just how the ivory tower crowd derides the poor for sticking to their ideological guns even when it doesn't benefit them. The poor have opinions and beliefs and making sacrifices in the name of their beliefs does not make them stupid.
In fact, the people who were the first "rednecks" would most likely reject all of the fascist bootlicking that goes on for most conservatives (not that neoliberal bootlicking is better, just less prevalent; I don't see hordes of foaming-at-the-mouth Biden supporters screaming adoration about Biden with some goofy flags and apparel on the street corners, while I still see the Trump folks doing the same cult worship of their new "god"). The original rednecks were miners who violently opposed capitalist exploitation . This culminated in the battle of Blair Mountain , in which miners living in exploitative conditions violently rebelled against the authoritarian private police (the "Pinkertons") in their attempt to form a union. This is also the first time that aerial bombardment is used on American soil (preceding Pearl Harbor).
Needless to say, I think the original "rednecks" have nothing in common with those who pretend to espouse some sort of "rural identity"; the original rednecks would not have looked to the state to force their own restrictive ideas of living on other people.
It's fine for people to have their own opinions about these things, but when these people who stick to their ideological guns do so in the face of facts (e.g. all of the cult-of-trump people who intellectually contort themselves to see him as some skilled businessman when he has a history littered with business failures, including losing money on a casino!), it's a little difficult to respect their opinions; this is especially true when their opinions are incoherent (e.g. the GOP celebrating Goya and that my pillow guy for "getting involved in politics" when it benefits them, while deriding companies looking to boycott states that plan to impose Draconian voter suppressing laws to "stay out of politics") and involve restricting the liberties of other people to comport with their own strict world view (e.g. restricting the right of other people to get same-sex married, as though that is somehow an "attack" on hetero marriage).
Ultimately it's about being able to accept new evidence and change one's mind, which I think these people who vote against their own interest (hicks or not) are not wont to do. Just as not all people in the GOP are fascists, but all fascists vote for GOP candidates, not all people towards the liberal end of the political spectrum are open to new ideas and changing their mind, but all people who are open to learning and change are on the liberal side of the political spectrum.
It’s quite the opposite actually.
I mean there are plenty of people alive today that lived through a time when interracial marriage was illegal, too .
Even if the path they use for their goal appears to be deregulatory, they're more than happy to call in the cavalry when that same deregulation allows actors with whom they disagree to also partake in the newfound "freedom":
* Whenever some state capitol puts up the commandments in the state house because "wE'Re a ChRiSTIaN NaTiON" under the guise of freedom of religion, then gets upset when the church of satan wants to put one of their own symbols right next to it 
* They were more than happy to stand on the ground of "A company is a private business and should be able to operate as it pleases" when it was about a bakery and a gay wedding cake, but now that Twitter is kicking off right-wing wackos, all of a sudden they pull a complete 180. Not to mention that this was the same mindset of the Jim Crow "separate but equal" disaster in the US's history.
Most of them are not aware that they are making sacrifices, though. They were convinced that the only alternative is communism.
And while I don't know you, I'm gonna assume that you don't work for Amazon in Bessemer. Neither do I. So our responses to the situation might just be more about us and our baggage, than the actual facts on the ground in Alabama.
Right, because no one has any relevant experiences which might influence their thoughts. You said anyone. You come across as incredibly condescending
People in this thread are all like, "Don't tell me giving someone food is in their self-interest! What if they want to starve?"
higher wages or better working conditions don't happen in a vacuum. Thinking it's a godsend or something is the definition of not thinking rationally.
For these communities, these are well paid jobs with great benefits compared to what they would otherwise have.
At that point the question is - why should you starve so someone else can be happy about Unions?
These issues only get solved with society wide action. The poor sap casting their single vote here can’t afford to make this call on their own, and they’re just happy their particular king is generous enough to grace them and not more abusive. Because there are a LOT of more abusive ones , and they’ve probably seen that first hand unlike most of the posters here.
Conditions for a laborer in Bulgaria, Romania, and the UK are on a completely different level. This is not that dissimilar.
Interesting, so you prefer people who don't use their own brains.
Contrary to what folks seem to think, unionization is not always a “no brainer”. Been through two orgs that went through the process, considered joining one because they presented a good case, rejected one because there was no value to the $50 the wanted to pull from my paycheck.
Often when I hear that people need to be educated about some issue, what I understand the speaker to be implying is that the reason a person disagrees with them is due to ignorance, when that's often not the case. We may think we arrive at our opinions based on cold logic and inarguable facts, but in reality there are many more factors that influence all of us.
Fraud to get disability payments is very high. People who are unable to rejoin the job market sometimes make the difficult decision to connive with sympathetic doctors to get this. But once you do this, you can never go back to work in any official capacity. This is the one case where people who are chronically unemployed give up and become wards of the state. So the 'desperately poor' are actually taken care of in some fashion in the US.
The problem is that the people who are the 'working poor' often get shafted. These are the janitors who are working all hours of the day, the baggers at the grocery store, the short order cooks, the security people who patrol industrial and residential facilities, etc. Even though their children are eligible for all the benefits above in many cases, it's still difficult to raise a family if there is one breadwinner who makes minimum wage. These people are not eligible for many benefits programs and also do not generally get healthcare from their employers (employers deliberately keep hours/week down to avoid this expense). The problem is, 'taking care' of these people is very hard: they are the majority of the workforce, and I suspect that there is not enough money to fund programs for these people because of the sheer size of this workforce. Also remember that this group oftentimes does not have powerful unions (many subgroups do), which means politicians do not have to listen to them.
The utopia would be having low income housing running on solar with affordable EV's for people under a certain income level as well. Combined with a basic income, it would certainly make a huge decrease in poverty and allow these people to bootstrap themselves into the middle class.
EDIT: for poor math skills. lol
That'd be $329 trillion, which is on the order of 100x what we spent.
damn, didn't know covid killed 99% of the US population. rough.
I come from a shit city in France, a former textile powerhouse that lost everthing after the war when it became automated abroad and we couldnt compete. And I moved to Hong Kong years ago.
Well... between this city and my new one, there's such an imbalance, I think I wish a few companies were trying to enslave people back home to teach them something else than shooting heroin and cheating on social insurance... And the French gov cant fix it, they can't make people clever and useful just with money and will...
It's completely sustainable and is effectively just a simplification and improvement of the status quo of having unemployment insurance and a bunch of means-tested benefits for low income people, but without the poverty traps, perverse incentives and excessive bureaucracy.
b) Observe the real world, see what happens when you "just increase tax rate". You'll find that very often when you increase taxes you actually end up collecting less, as more people decide to illegally dodge taxes or simply close up shop.
Given a country's economic output, laws, culture and a thousand other factors, there's a hidden function that determines the maximum tax rate you can employ where anything more than that is counter-productive with both short-term and long-term results, the latter often including reputational damage that can be nigh impossible to repair, soft-capping your economy far below what it could've been. See: Laffer Curve, and the shining example that is Argentina.
Mean personal income in the US is ~$54,000:
For a $12,000 UBI that would yield a flat tax rate of ~22%.
In real life it's more complicated than that, but not so much more complicated that the number is going to be off by an order of magnitude. It's completely viable. People are already paying nominal rates that high.
> Observe the real world, see what happens when you "just increase tax rate". You'll find that very often when you increase taxes you actually end up collecting less, as more people decide to illegally dodge taxes or simply close up shop.
The primary causes of this are that higher taxes give people less money to spend which hurts the economy and that higher marginal rates deter working.
A UBI is a transfer payment, so on net nobody has any less money to spend and in practice people with less money would have slightly more and those people are more likely to spend it. So this factor goes in favor of economic growth.
Meanwhile half the point of the UBI is to get rid of the crazy marginal rate cliffs created by means-tested benefits programs. The status quo deters work more than a UBI would, e.g. you lose unemployment if you take a job. Terrible incentives that would go away.
Make the combined marginal rate 60% and now I have to go earn $375 in order to have $150 extra to pay for the labor for that repair. For the equivalent of $375 in wages for a service call, there's a lot of things I'll bother to learn how to tackle myself.
Meanwhile at the top the difference would be less than an increase from 40% to 60% because the UBI is replacing all of these other programs which would no longer have to be funded, or could be made strict alternatives to the UBI which would make the UBI less expensive.
To get the maid to show up, you have to cause their bank balance to increase by at least $10, after taxes. If the government is taking 80% of what you pay them away in food, housing and education assistance, you have to pay $50 to get them their $10. Get their real marginal rate down to 40% and you can pay $20 while they enjoy a surplus of $2.
Yes. And that is absolutely monstrously huge. You just doubled the US tax rate!
Sure, you could cut spending elsewhere, or whatever, but once you do a program that is on the scale of literally doubling the US tax rate, you are definitely at a point where the costs of the program are very high, and likely unviable.
(Half the funding for many of the existing programs don't even show up in the federal budget, even though they're federal programs, because the feds condition the program on the state government providing matching funds, but the state's taxpayers don't get any refund of their federal taxes if the state doesn't implement the program. So the states are coerced into funding inefficient programs, and those would go away.)
I think people are reasonably skeptical of this part. I've never seen someone show me the math around how all those programs would be rendered redundant by a UBI. Before getting to the political problem of dismantling benefits, some of which pay out more than $12,000 a year and have a vocal, sympathetic minority willing to fight for them.
I think that understates it: some enormous fraction (like 45%) of federal government spending is for retirees (Social Security, Medicare and government funded pension) who represent only about 15% of the population.
That's the unsquareable circle for UBI.
Social security has a dumb design if it's supposed to be a safety net. It pays out in proportion to how much money you made. That's not a safety net. If someone who made $20,000/year when they were working can survive on a given amount of money, someone who made $80,000/year when they were working can survive on the same amount. If they want more they can use the extra money they made to buy an annuity. And that's why social security costs so much -- it pays out more to people who, by and large, need it less.
Now, you're not going to pass a repeal of social security. The people currently receiving significantly more from it than they would from a UBI would revolt.
So you do this. You give people an election between a UBI for life or social security after retirement. Current 65 year olds are all going to pick social security. Current 18 year olds are going to pick the UBI, because the net present value is higher. That means social security long-term goes away.
In the short term, social security has a trust fund. It gets spent down to make up the difference between what existing retirees would get from the UBI and what they'll be getting from social security. In the long term, when all of the younger people who chose the UBI over social security reach retirement age, the high cost of social security goes away because nobody wanted it.
Well, sort of. There're two bend points where the proportions go down fairly sharply (90%-32%-15%). It's extremely progressive from that point of view: those with lower average lifetime earnings get a much higher proportion of income replaced than do those with higher lifetime earnings.
Median annual Social Security benefits for 2020 are about $15K, vs. mean of about $18K., for example.
>So you do this. You give people an election between a UBI for life or social security after retirement. Current 65 year olds are all going to pick social security. Current 18 year olds are going to pick the UBI, because the net present value is higher. That means social security long-term goes away.
It makes a big difference where you set the level for UBI, and which entitlements programs you claim it replaces. Without knowing the specifics of the proposal, you can't get good numbers.
But it sounds like you're saying UBI will replace Social Security. Let's assume UBI pays $12K per year to every adult, which is less generous than a lot of numbers I've heard. This means it would replace about two-thirds of the average Social Security benefit.
Based on U.S. life expectancies, that UBI number and average Social Security benefits, I think that puts the break-even point for lifetime UBI to equal lifetime Social Security about 56 or 57. So let's say that everyone 57 or over stays in Social Security.
>In the short term, social security has a trust fund. It gets spent down to make up the difference between what existing retirees would get from the UBI and what they'll be getting from social security.
Social Security's "trust fund" was about $2.8tn at the end of 2020. That's 2.61 years of payments. The idea that Social Security is, in some sense, pre-funded by payroll taxes is completely false. It is effectively a pay-as-you-go system with a small buffer.
Under the assumptions above, you will exhaust the trust fund in less than 8 years, which is a problem as life expectancy at 65 in the U.S. is almost 20 years. So you now either have to stop funding the gap between UBI and Social Security (politically impossible) or raise more taxes.
Over to the UBI then. Social Security brings in taxes of just over $1.06tn year year. Let's just call it $1.1tn. By the way, non-benefit costs for Social Security are only about 0.05% of the program cost, so there's very limited opportunity to make gains by streamlining administration as is often claimed for UBI.
US population is about 330m. Take out the child population (about 19%; they aren't getting UBI) and the over-65 population (about 16%; they're retired and are getting Social Security). So you now have 215m people who will receive UBI.
Your $1.1tn of payroll taxes funds only about $5,100 of the $12,000 that's supposed to be paid in UBI. Payroll taxes would have to increase by 2.35x to cover the cost of the UBI, and that's before you plug the Social Security gap.
Making UBI less generous encourages more people to stay in Social Security which means your funding gap gets wider.
The best way to handle this is to give people a one-time election of whether they want the UBI. If they want the UBI, they're disqualified from all of these other programs, for life.
Then nearly everyone picks the UBI. The person receiving $500 from other programs certainly does, so does the person receiving $10,000, probably even the person receiving $12,500 because they get to avoid doing the paperwork every year for all the other programs.
You're left with the negligible percentage of people who actually receive non-trivially more than $12,000 under other programs, representing a minority of the existing funding. This could also be assisted by dropping some of the less sympathetic programs immediately and further reducing the number of people on the other side of the $12,000 line. And the percentage shrinks over time, because someone picks the UBI at age 18 and then 10 years later discovers they might have received $16,000 this year from some other set of programs, but they've already made their choice. After a few years the other programs have so few people using them that there is no political will to continue them at all.
And recall that one such program is social security, which is currently funded by a 12.4% tax. That by itself is more than half the way to 22%. And all the existing retirees who choose that over the UBI would then not have to be paid the UBI.
Source for UBI total cost: https://freedom-dividend.com/
note: I ignored his ~$0.9 trillion in predicted savings/economic growth but that would lessen the bill even more.
500/mo or 1k/mo UBI does require raising taxes and consolidating programs (a polite way of saying cutting). At 500/mo you'd raise the total tax rate (as of GDP), but it'd not be an unreasonable raise (as compared to 2k/mo UBI for all citizens which would need taxes at 40% of US GDP).
It also removes a huge relief valve for large segments of the population to survive that can’t meet the bar demanded of the ‘normal’ workers.
In 2018, the household income quintiles were as follows (https://www.taxpolicycenter.org/statistics/household-income-...)
Lowest quintile mean: $13,775
Second quintile mean: $37,923
Third quintile mean: $63,572
Fourth quintile mean: $101,570
Highest quintile mean: $233,895
There were about 159M employed persons in the US in the most recent high (https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/employed-persons), about 50% of the US population. We want our UBI to cover everybody.
To make this simple, because quintiles comprise an equally populated group of people, let's imagine that instead of there being ~32M people per quintile, that our nation has 10 people, where 5 people don't work, and each of the remaining 5 falls into one of the quintiles.
If we wanted to define a UBI of $18,000 per person, we need to somehow come up with $18,000 * 10 == $180,000 to distribute to everyone equally.
If we fund this progressively, each individual would have to pay:
Unemployed #1: 0 (statistically, a child)
Unemployed #2: 0 (statistically, a child)
Unemployed #3: 0 (statistically, a retiree)
Unemployed #4: 0 (statistically, a retiree)
Unemployed #5: 0 (statistically, a disabled person or stay-at-home caretaker)
Total revenue: $180,000
Then consider that everyone here is receiving back 18,000 under the UBI. The highest quintile earner’s net take-home is, thus 233,895-103,000+18,000 == $148,895, which effectively renders their effective tax rate approx 36%. If you run this breakdown across all quintiles:
Unemployed #1-5: $0 - $0 + 18,000 == $18,000
Lowest: $13,775 - $8,000 + $18,000 == $23,775 (effective tax -73%)
Second: $37,923 - $12,000 + $18,000 == $43,923 (effective tax -16%)
Third: $63,572 - $21,000 + $18,000 == $60,572 (effective tax 6%)
Fourth: $101,570 - $36,000 + $18,000 == $83,570 (effective tax 18%)
Highest: $233,895 - $103,000 + $18,000 == $148,895 (effective tax 36%)
You'll notice that the top 2 pay a tax rate that’s comparable to today’s. We wouldn't necessarily need to increase everyone's taxes by the above amount, because there's some wiggle room in the Federal budget. Examples: we can probably eliminate Social Security (which would just be replaced by the UBI), EITC/CTC (basically already a BI), and food stamps (ditto). Medicare, which is an in-kind benefit, can either be eliminated, or it can continue to exist but be paid for by the UBI. Ditto Medicaid.
Also notice that because the lowest quintile still ends up with more than the unemployed person after their taxes, there isn’t a disincentive to work.
This math also assumes that we're giving people $1,500 per month, and also assumes that children will receive the same amount as adults — a UBI may only pay $1,000 per month to adults, and $500 per month to children, in which case the effective tax rates would be lower.
This math also assumes there is 0 VAT. This math also ignores payroll taxes, which account for 35% of the current Federal revenue.
We can play with different levels of progressivity and generosity, but the idea is the same. We can scale up from single-person quintiles to million-person quintiles, but the percentages don't change.
Also, China has been trying to unwind their US position over time, but it is a difficult task because they have to do something with the US dollars that they get due to the trade imbalance.
Also, in this context "the top" is anything above the middle. Are lawyers and petroleum engineers going to move to a tax haven?
Yes? I'm not a particularly special engineer, and a significant part of my decision to leave California was the income tax. I'm certainly not alone there.
Also bear in mind that "tax haven" is a relative term. Canada can become a tax haven if their taxes are lower than ours. Europe can be a tax haven if their taxes are lower. If my net income in the US (taking into account higher salaries) comes out the same as what I would make in Europe, I'm moving to Europe. I'd much rather have the safety net than UBI.
I think this takes more thought. I agree that we want a progressive curve, and that UBI-with-a-flat-tax gives us a progressive curve, but I don't think we've established that it gives us the curve we want. Moving from the ideal curve to the (potentially) less than ideal curve for the sake of easier enforcement may still be worth it, and may still produce a system that we'd prefer to the current one, but we have to actually establish that.
It's mostly just not that compatible with confiscatory-level taxes on very high income people, but the cause of the trouble there was never really the taxes (once they were paying the same rates as ordinary people). The problem there is regulatory capture and inadequate antitrust enforcement leading to abusive consolidated corporate empires.
It gives a family of curves, and as you say you have a knob you can turn...
I don't have a strong opinion about exactly what shape the curve should have, but I do have a strong opinion that it's probably important and I've noticed a tendency (first in myself!) for UBI proponents to be satisfied having checked the "it's a progressive curve" box without having looked carefully at whether it can produce the particular progressive curve we (more broadly) want.
Edited to add: I suppose if we do find that we need people to be taking home marginally more for the first N dollars earned, we could add a rebate based on reported income. Small fraud ("I reported a little more than I actually made") winds up pretty bounded in the amount it can walk off with; larger fraud ("I invented 500 people who are reporting income") isn't that much bigger a concern than it would already be with a UBI since the maximum rebate is probably much smaller than the stipend that would otherwise be expected. Note that I'm not calling for this, just exploring the space.
Some remote workers who can might do that but I doubt very many.
There are almost no countries in the world that milk their citizens that way.
Two exceptions I know of:
I believe The USA spends most on social welfare than any other country.
What does that have to do with health system
I see USA at 10 in per capita section in your wiki link.
The lesson of the GINI coefficient and the psychology of relative wealth, is that absolute, material well being isn't the issue. The issue is whether people think the cards are so stacked against them, that they will never win.
So the answer is no. We know that condemning those at the bottom will result in civil unrest. Everyone needs to live in dignity, or there will be violence. Psychology has pretty much determined this to be a fact of human nature.
However, this doesn't mean we should have equity. People should be rewarded, and people should also have something to strive for. It's the dignity of the common person which has been eroded over time.
The actual discussion is about the degree of which government should handle re-distributing wealth to the lower class and to what degree the middle and upper class is responsible.
The “divide” is that politicians on both sides who’s actions don’t always match their stated positions.
This is both right and wrong. Asian immigrants are notorious for arriving on foreign shores, penniless, then winding up owning businesses and sending their kids to top tier schools. The problem isn't being born into not having money and things. The problem is being born into an environment that sets children up for future failure.
The good news, is that such cultural practices aren't attached to race or ethnicity and so can be learned and adopted. There are historical precedents for this.
The bad news, is that other cultural practices can do the opposite, and insulate groups of people against things like valuing education and a work ethic.
As someone who lived in the US for a long time and now lives in Europe, I can tell you that all of the Americans I've met over here (who are not vacationing) are incredibly driven and entrepreneurial. They do not at all reflect the average American back in the US (e.g. I don't know a single Trump supporter over here; the Democrats Abroad caucus typically goes far more liberal than any state, supporting Bernie Sanders in 2016 by a very wide margin).
Are refugees counted as immigrants? A lot of the refugees from Syria come through Turkey, so I'm curious if that's throwing off the numbers.
Refugees and immigrants aren't really comparable. The most stark difference is that refugees can (and likely will) be sent back when their country stabilizes enough. If you're a refugee, there's little point in building up a new life when you know it will all come to an end.
No, it's about immigrants from Turkey (who came mostly in the 60ies as regular working migrants to both feed Germany's hunger for workers and buy Turkey's entry into NATO). The Vietnamese on the other hand were often refugees, much poorer and with much less support.
There aren't any relevant numbers about the migrant crisis '15 yet, it's too recent to get meaningful statistics.
> The most stark difference is that refugees can (and likely will) be sent back when their country stabilizes enough.
True, but that very rarely happens in Germany. It's considered cruel to deport someone who has lived in Germany for a few years.
Deportations of asylum seekers usually only happen for so-called "safe countries", e.g. Balkan states, when the request for asylum is denied.
This is a strange observation to me because Trump did very well with the small business owner demographics.
SMB owners who are US citizens abroad, however, are driven by primarily one thing, regardless of party affiliation: who will be most likely to support a rewrite of the punitive tax laws that the US places on its expatriate citizens (which no country other than Eritrea does).
I don't follow. What are some examples of this?
If healthcare is free, people who are healthy have to pay healthcare for those who aren't.
I'm not taking a stance one way or the other on these issues, just trying to illustrate the argument.
Nevermind the fact that from my eyes looking at America from overseas, it seems like companies are the only institutions/organisations that are functioning even remotely in a socially optimal way.
Your government is a disaster and couldn't meaningfully manage the pandemic at all, academia is a disaster and is bankrupting your future, military is a disaster and has heavily underinvested in next generation weapons programs so they could spend more time bombing the middle East, your unions are self-serving enterprises (aren't schools in your most populous state STILL closed due to teacher's unions?), your newspaper are incredibly corrupt across the spectrum.
The only things that seem to work correctly are your companies which are still world-leading and world class. Amazon is a gem in your society, but demonised as if it is the source of all problems.
It's not company town level of influence, though. A defining feature of which IIRC is that the company owned most or all other businesses in the town and often extracted most of the workers wage through extortionate pricing of basic goods and services.
I think a good question to ask before is what happens if they dont come in the first place? If I were a resident in a town wanting jobs, i'd probably be more excited about jobs arriving than the possibility they might eventually disappear.
No, they should do so, just not be so exploitative about it (e.g. deliberately going into areas full of desperate people, for the reason of using that desperation to exert maximum control with minimum accountability).
Amazon could probably have no problem staffing the center at $11/hr there, but they're paying $18-$22 instead. How on earth can you define that as 'exploitation'? It's borderline charity, given the observable labor market equilibrium there.
Speedwalking an Amazon warehouse carrying objects, run by hyper-optimizing automation that times tasks to the second, is different from leaning on idle cash register at McDonalds, or slowly pushing a vacuum cleaner.
The society should act accordingly.
I am trying to say there is a contradiction in what you are saying. You claim to want companies to move into impoverished areas, but also say doing that is evil. No company has ever moved into an impoverished area to help people, they have always done so out of self interest.
So which do you want, companies to move into impoverished areas (acting evil), or not (acting good, according to you).
Luckily, this isn't true. There are absolutely areas where companies can do good and profit. Moving good jobs into a blighted area is a classic example of a win-win. The company gets low wages, and residents get some of the best jobs they have access to.
> Why would a company ever do anything out of the goodness of their hearts?
Because a company is made of people. I won't fault a company for following market incentives, but questions like yours sometimes imply that a company shouldn't do anything out of the goodness of their heart. Then you get people saying stuff like the company's goal must be to maximize shareholder value and stuff, and getting angry when a company does something out of the goodness of their hearts, which I take issue with. <end rant>
It's one thing to shop for a lower price, it's quite another to notice someone's desperate and take advantage.
> The collective population of the world does this when we chose to purchase things for cheaper prices made in countries with more lax environmental and labor laws.
An a lot of people object to that, too, and they often lack the power to make any other decision.
Isn't that what taxes are for?
I wouldn't search for evil intent in those moves.
I was a union member back in the last 1980s through 1990s early. I was in a low skilled job where we paid our dues and got exactly nothing for it. Oh we had a wonderful contract that specified it all. It was great for basically keeping anyone new boxed in. Each quarter if we were lucky we got a visit by our local union rep in her Mercedes which cost more than many of us made a year. So I am so not a big union supporter and lean against them.
On another personal note, they spent decades harassing my uncles, now cousins industrial roofing business calling OSHA and other inspectors out to where even the OSHA representatives joked about it. It became a coffee break for them. All this over a company with less than thirty people at max.
So while they may have some application on higher paid jobs when you are low wage there isn't much they do for you other than suck two hours of wages or more from you each month.
People here glorify unions have no experience with them at the level that would have been seen in Amazon. They have these grandiose ideas how everyone benefits. Oh don't get me wrong, you are likely to get some changes that are beneficial, but in the end you are still exactly where you are before but now its all in nice pretty print writing which spells out exactly how you aren't going anywhere fast. Oh, don't forget the monthly payout (could be weekly in some places) and don't expect much if you ever actually reach strike stage.
Had a friend who was a pilot. Personal situation - moved, wanted to live in base rather than deadhead yadda yadda - you start off at ground zero at the new airline - literally next to guys with no time on type (and you could have thousands of hours on type - which is years of work).
I might recommend to watch Waiting For Lefty to understand the distinction.
Are "dying cities/slums" a purely American phenomenon, in terms of rich first-world countries?
Is there similarly a "rust belt" in Germany, of cities that had an economic collapse after manufacturing died out? Are there rich European countries with flailing cities that devolve into crime and poverty? Does Europe have its own Bessemers, Detroits? (though I do hear Detroit isn't as bad as it's made out to be)
The UK definitely has declining factory towns (often called mill towns there) similar to the US. Northern England is like that for the most part. Less of a rust belt and more of a rust hat.
Not anti union, but these also had high union activity, which some explain as a cause of their 'rustification' as companies moved production elsewhere (like Alabama) to avoid.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brotherhood_of_Sleeping_Car_Po... (See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railroad_Commission_v._Pullman.... )
One of the few things I think Trump got right is when he brought tariffs back. If you want companies to keep jobs in the US you have to make the labor cost just as much no matter where you find it. Otherwise it is just a race to the bottom.
Well, that guy would do a really bad job, especially after he dies. You can compete with him by staying healthy and being much more productive.
That's not an accurate description of overseas labor though, those people are skilled at what they do and their PPP-adjusted pay is better than that. (Sometimes overseas developers aren't skilled at enterprise development, in that case their skill is scamming the outsourcing manager.)
> One of the few things I think Trump got right is when he brought tariffs back. If you want companies to keep jobs in the US you have to make the labor cost just as much no matter where you find it.
That's not what a tariff does, a tariff makes foreign companies' products more expensive for domestic customers. It's just a pointless tax increase. And when the other country fights back it makes your products more expensive for foreign customers, hurting you.
Keeping jobs domestically means doing the opposite, increasing foreign customers for your stuff. This falls under industrial policy and it's what the overseas countries taking your jobs did better than us.
(Also German carmakers have - at least until now - done much better than Detroit for a variety of reasons).
Inside immigration is also big. Small towns/cities are losing population while big cities/capitals are rapidly growing. We have hundreds of towns that once had thousands inhabitants and now they barely have a couple hundred and haven't seen a kid in more than a decade.
But as far as I know, there's no Detroits in Europe. The cities with most crimes are also the ones that are attracting more people and immigrants. The abandoned places are quiet and peaceful.
There's also growing trend of trying to revive those places by people that just can't take big cities anymore or people who work for home, etc. Why would they pay a huge chunk of their salary for a crappy shared flat on the city when they can live on a nice house with garden only 5 hours away?
As for crime, it's some economic and some that Detroit was the center of the car industry which means everyone was huffing leaded gasoline fumes for decades. In Europe everyone is still breathing in diesel, which just kills you rather than makes you a rage monster.
Most of Japan is dying as nearly its entire population moves to Tokyo.
And that's only a slight sprinkle of hyperbole. Other regions are sustained only by tourism or by other industries where the average worker age is past 60.
Charleroi Belgium comes to mind. Once a prosperous industrious town, now the glory is gone. Recently read somewhere there is a bit of revival, culturally at least. Economically I’m not sure. A bit like Detroit maybe.
I don't know more details, I am only speaking observationally. Someone else might tell you why this happened.
I would assume it has to do with globalization and other nations being more competitive than local business.
Not yet, but we are doing out best to deliver that in the near future \s
What we do have is sort of a coal belt. The Ruhr Area, where coal mining used to be big but has died out. Some regions did not recover from the closing of mines, Gelsenkirchen for example.
It's not that any city is altogether full of crime and poverty, personally I'd say they're just less desirable with full-on "crime and poverty" being noticeable only in some hotspots (but then again, I don't live there and only ever visit for short periods of time, so really all I can say is "it doesn't seem that bad").
Observe for yourself the recordings by CharlieBo313
And if it was such a hell hole, why did Amazon choose to open a warehouse there? Out of the goodness of their hearts? We need to ask questions as to why Amazon had to become a "savior" for the City of Bessemer. Not just focusing on effects but looking into causes too!
My comment isn't about Amazon specifically as much as the fact that there are so many cities all over this country (supposedly the wealthiest in human history) that have fallen into so much disrepair and so much distress that they need companies like Amazon to come "save" them.
We need to ask why is all I'm saying.
As I've grown older I've tried to resist the urge to marry myself to these stark beliefs. Following this thread there's a lot of good information on what those competing perspectives actually entail. In my current area, which is mostly liberals of varying degrees, unions are almost universally championed. If you ask about the downsides or present an example of how they can be bad you can face people who think you're some kind of oppressor, or that you must be conservative. Where I'm from, which is mostly various flavors of conservativism the mention of unions causes similar outrage but in the other direction. If you mention how a union could be useful or various implementations that are non-stock (such as unions that don't try to practice authoritarian control over pay and just maintain representation for working conditions) then you'll be demonized for being a socialist. I used to think, "these are bad people of varying variety" but I've come to understand they're just people without experience in each other's geography and problem set, so it becomes easier to speak dogmatically.
Sometimes a union can be good, sometimes it can be bad, sometimes it's a bit of both pending nuance and implementation details, but at the end of the day this is a truth: the only people whose opinion matters is the people whose lives it will directly affect.
How did we as a nation go from the land of the free, a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage, to "beg for scraps or you will starve."
All of this has always been propaganda, nothing more. The average unskilled worker has never had a good life in America.
They'll be able to put a roof over their head, and not worry about their kids' next meal or maybe even their kid breaking their arm. But they're not going to advance to the next rung of the socioeconomic ladder.
You’re painting way too bleak of a picture based on zero data.
This was basically the norm from 40s to late 80s after reganomics started widdling away workers' rights.
This is the way it should be - 1 parent at home, 1 bringing home $$.
Else, the government should cover child care, or pay stay-at-home parents a salary for providing their own child care.
If a company can sell its products two towns over for 2x the price Bessemer can afford, it's not going to slash prices in Bessemer just because everyone there is poor.
1 - https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/feb/05/amazon-wo...
Find a dying city with huge unemployment. No problem finding workers for a factory where most employees don't require anything more than ability to walk and read.
This why we need national and international coordination on minimum wage and minimum work environment laws.
Normally having a huge employer would be a boon to the city, but most of these people are going to be working for close to minimum wage and Amazon most likely negotiated with the city so they don't have to pay a dime.
I think a retail/warehouse workers' union only really works if it's a national sort with local chapters so that a company can't hire except through a union.
I'm not saying such a situation isn't rife with its own problems, but as long as these unions are essentially on a per-location basis, a company with the resources can always close one location and open up down the street to avoid the union.
If you don't have the first it is easy to replace anyone striking, and the union doesn't have power. If you don't have the second the better employees will want more money and so they won't work with the lesser ones
In retail it is generally easy to replace people. It only takes a few minutes of training and the new person will figure it out.
In retail there are a lot of different jobs. People who can do more (and have been around longer) are worth more. Many of the jobs do have metrics that can be measured to say who is better. While the pay this results in isn't much more, it is enough.
That isn't to say you need the above to have a union. There are counter examples that work, but they are less powerful than unions that have those factors because they find it harder to get everyone to stand together.
As such retail unions have trouble working. It is too easy to hire someone else if they go on strike.
This is also why the UAW started dying once containerized shipping made it practical to move factories overseas.
They voted to allow the “hand” to maximize exploitation without restraint.
America is utterly rotten.
Until they get hurt on the job and Amazon fires them for failure to show up to work: