Especially the last one.
EDIT: Fixed last link
And so it annoys the shit out of me that when a friend in finance got a $10k raise, all she could talk about was "but I lose half of it to the government!". In some strange world where 30% equals half, she's more concerned about what she lost than the fact that her gain was almost equal to a poor person's annual income. She couldn't even frame her payrise as a positive.
I was discussing poverty with a colleague yesterday, as we were discussing the concept of Basic Income. I mentioned that when I was on welfare, it still wasn't quite enough to keep me fed and housed. His response was "then move house to where it's cheaper". My counter was "firstly, the point of 'social security' is to keep people socially secure, at least for short stints, which means not kicking them out of their homes for a handful of dollars". Secondly, of course, was the ignorance of the fact that moving house is expensive (fiscally and socially), from the hunt, to the security deposit, to the day of shifting furniture, to having utilities hooked up. Thirdly, if the point was to give me welfare in the short term until I get a job, moving house to where it's cheaper is going to make it harder to get a job.
Discussing poverty is difficult, because unless you've been close to it, you won't understand the limitations of being in it. And conversely, if you're currently in it, it's hard to view it in a 'big picture' sense.
There's more to life than feeling lucky we aren't in bad situations. I'd say ambition is more useful. A million dollars at 4% interest accrues $40k/yr, so in effect any millionaire is given 4x her raise every year just by doing nothing.
That's not a bad thing. It's just a fact of life. But "you should be happy with what you have" is practically a recipe for sabotaging your ambition.
Libertarians might get it done, but there's a serious bootstrapping problem in getting enough people to vote for them that they have a chance. For now, every vote for a libertarian is thrown away to idealism where it could at least be doing something.
If you look at dollars as "lifestyle points", and votes as "societal points", the same reasoning is going on right here: the scarcity of "societal points" is causing the same reasoning about how to vote as poor people have to make for spending.
Not sure what that means - only noticing that there are parallels.
I get the that the safety net helps.
My point is that civil society helps every one.
My one criticism of my fellow liberals is their messaging doesn't appeal to their audience's self interest AND their sense of fairness.
I'm saying 'keep some perspective', not 'don't try to improve your situation'.
That said, I mean, I don't know this person or their friend so it could be a flippant comment the friend made that's being overblown.
And you're probably only paying 10% in state tax if you live in California. Most other states' income tax are around 5 or 6 percent, and some are at zero.
Wtf? That's not how taxes work, guy.
(Which seems fine to me...)
There's also the ambition to build a better society in (some of) us and part of that is paying taxes. Not all ambitions are of a material nature.
I wonder if this is related to "loss aversion" . According to Kahneman's research, people tend to strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains. She has a net loss in satisfaction because the hit caused by losing 30% of her salary is bigger than the win resulting from making 70%.
Seconded. I was very poor twice in my life. First while growing up, and then for a few years after the downturn (19-23 years old) where I was making 13K-17K per year (post tax/credits, benefits included), working full time, and putting myself through school. I had no financial aid due to having no contact with my parents (a corner case that is poorly handled by the government, try getting anything except loans without a FAFSA). Until two and a half years ago I probably spent only three or four years where I wasn't poor by any standard.
Poverty is definitely something you need to live through to really understand. You can have compassion, commiserate, etc but not a true comprehension unless you've been there. Even then, I know there are levels of poverty I have no understanding of. One I personally experienced was trying to get some help at a free clinic and being denied because I wasn't quite poor enough to qualify. I believe I needed to have a dependent of some kind at my income level. Living through that is something I can't fathom.
Moving is definitely an interesting game. Most of the time I was poor as an adult I lived in a retail store front (that couldn't be rented out, leaky roof, boarded up windows) for $300/month. When I started doing well enough (making more than 20K) to consider an apartment, I went in with three friends because the cost to just get into a place in LA is typically, at minimum, $2000. The lower rent apartments want first, last and deposit, while more expensive apartments just want first and deposit. It's basically impossible to save up 1/10th of your gross yearly income, and it's not like the money is guaranteed to come back to you.
Since you're in a bad spot, and the landlord knows it - otherwise you wouldn't be one of three people in a $1400/month two bedroom apartment, they will play games with you. We had broken plumbing that went unfixed. None of us saw our deposits back. The management company literally pulled down websites as I found phone numbers for people in their offices. For a brief, albeit melodramatic, moment I felt like the protagonist in a man v.s. the oppressive company/government/world movie where I had just caught them and they were trying to pull the curtains over their wrongdoing.
Since I was still working insane hours and going to school, the couple hundred dollars weren't something I could chase after... which is really the sad thing. They knew I couldn't afford to do anything about it. Being inexperienced doesn't help. Yes I could have gone to the city, but I didn't know that back then, and when everyone around you is in the same place, you're often times short on experience. (I've since launched complaints after the fact - I'm not the first this has happened to ;). It's in the city's hands at this point)
Now that I'm doing a lot better, the Cracked articles really hit home. My personal poor habits from those articles is limiting myself to two/three pairs of pants and the paranoid bank account check habit. Even though I typically keep my expenses at half or less of my wages and I know the money is there, I won't sleep that night if I don't check my accounts every few days. When I was poor the next disaster seemed to be right around the corner. It's really hard to shake that instinct.
Being able to really live has been very interesting. I've tried to do as much traveling as I can, something I could never do before. I find myself weighing every permutation of airfare (travel dates, airlines, buying separate round trips for multi city trips), just like I used to do once upon a time when figuring out how to buy a month's worth of groceries in $60.
That said, I'm not immune to doing bad emotional math. I just got a bonus today and the same thought process ran though my head when I saw the amount deposited into my account. It's hard not to. In fact, musing about it is enjoyable. Much more than being rational about it. Money brings out all sorts of emotions.
The problem I have with it is that I like roads, police officers, and all those expensive "leach-feeding" social programs I used to be a customer of; so I quell my irrational anger pretty quickly. Without inexpensive Community College courses I wouldn't have gotten the necessary education or the connection I used to get my first paid internship ($15/hour almost double my previous job) which turned into my career.
Like the Cracked author mentions, yes there are terribly abuses of the money... but I believe the good outweighs the bad.
I don't see any problem with paying that forward. I'm certainly not suffering doing it, even if I occasionally shake my fist at those "Tax and Spend Commies in Congress" for an irrational split second. In a couple years, with some luck and hard work, I'll be making closer to the amount that poor unhappy retired couple from the WSJ graphic was making... all the while dealing with my "poor kid from North Hollywood" mentality.
So there's a bootstrapping problem which I think is mostly insurmountable. Which is a shame, because it's a good plan, otherwise.
And in some zoning designations, this is actually illegal. For example, years ago I lived in a house in the same town with 4 other guys, but it turned out the maximum number on non-related people allowed in a "single family" dwelling there was 3. The landlord let everyone move in but eventually threatened to kick us out on those grounds.
Things might be different in the States or elsewhere.
But just because you lucked out doesn't mean that it's just as easy for someone else, in another area. To actually create something like this on purpose, somewhere close to where you happen to have gotten a good job? That is hard.
6ren is right, but it's not the whole story. In addition to to being able to have multiple people each entirely responsible for a single lease, we (Australia) have a very generous "student allowance" scheme for most students. This guarantees us students a fortnightly income that is almost certainly at least whatever we would be paying in rent + utilities.
My situation is such an example. I live with three other students and one adorable puppy in an expensive city (Brisbane, Queensland - Numbeo.com estimates Brisbane's living costs as ~87% of NYC's). We live just ~5km or ~3 miles from either of the two local universities, and just above 2km or ~1.5 miles from the CBD. Rent is not cheap in our area.
Yet we had no insurmountable problems obtaining a lease. Rental applications are competitive in this area, so we did have to apply for a lot of leases - but credit concerns were never a problem. Despite being employed for maybe just 12 hours a week each, money is not in question - there are four people each entirely responsible for the rent who are guaranteed social benefits that amount to at least enough for their share.
Unemployed Australians also receive similar social benefits provided they keep applying for jobs.
Youth Allowance with Rent didn't cover my rent in a share house, or even bills. When I didn't have more than one part time job I was relying on money from my Mother to pay the rent.
Realestate.com.au affords some pretty nice share housing at that rate.. :) I admit it's not the standard of housing that I grew up in, but why would I be entitled to such? ;)
But try it in a non-university town where non-students vastly outnumber the students? I don't think so. The landlord has everything to risk and nothing to gain by doing strange and unfamiliar things. If they have even heard of the practice, it's only for students, in student-dense areas, in housing long used in this way, with all the features (internal locks for each room, etc.). Why would they risk their nice house when they can just rent to somebody else?
Rents are expensive. It makes no financial sense to live by yourself.
Even in my home town - which has no substantial university - it's generally assumed that if you rent and do not have dependents, you almost certainly have housemates.
I wonder if this acceptance will keep once the economics changes?
It's like standing on one leg; if that leg crumbles, you will fall and land hard. But if you have two legs, one leg can crumble and the other gives you enough time for you to land gently. If you... magically had a third leg (and weren't standing with them in a triangle?), you might not even notice that one leg stopped working.
Houses there are so cheap that this kind of plan would probably work as long as you had enough human will and intention to make it happen. As far as I can tell, that is where these things break down. It's hard for groups to form this kind of collective dynamic and trust in the absence of some cohering force - religion, a focal point like a cult leader, or similar influences.
 Well, OK, two syllables.
There are some cool people who are broke and want to live communally, but there are also some people who do that because they don't have their lives together.
To make it work, houses are better than apartments. More than 4 people is too much, and you really need to trust and respect the other folks you live with.
You also need to be able to not sweat the little things--having people ask if they need to pick up an extra X when they go to the grocery store is handy. Living close to a grocery store (within walking distance) is even handier.
Also, you need to not be messy party folks--your landlord is much more likely to give you an easy time if they don't see evidence of this. Talk to your landlord semi-frequently to touch base and let them be secure in their investment.
Your idea is functionally the idealized vision for how welfare works.
I felt that she wanted to believe she lived alone but couldn't handle the fact that both of us needed the other for the apartment sharing to really work.
Strokes of fate that lead to poverty are one side, but the side is reproding if you are poor: I consider this as highly irresponsible - for you as for your children.
Seriously, think about what you're saying here. Also, be aware that severe poverty is actually the best reason to have children. If some manage to survive, they're your best chance for care in old age.
Indeed, that's why birthrates tend to be the highest in the most desperate places on Earth. And that's why there's no surer way to reduce the birthrate than to develop social insurance structures that are strong enough and equitable enough for people to feel that they don't need to have lots of children for one or two to survive, and that they won't be utterly dependent on those they do have for care in their dotage.
- Calling the GP an asshole and implying that they aren't "terribly intelligent" can only serve to detract from your argument.
EDIT: At least you took out the asshole comment
* entitled to have children 
* entitled to financial and other aid to raise those children safely and securely 
 UDHR, Article 16, paragraph (1) http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/#a16
 UDHR, Article 25, paragraph (2) http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/#a25
That's like saying the bible is true because the printer exists, or the church, which is of course trivially true. That some organisation is behind a document does not make it true or false.
And keep in mind that the League of nations (the creators of the UN) came forth from the Red cross, which was a division of the army that guards of the pope.
Libertarians would never come up with the idea that only the richest should be allowed since this would be a deprivation of freedom (which libertarians appreciate).
I didn't they that only the richest people should have children. I only claim that it is irresponsible to produce children if you don't have enough financial security: both for the expenses and for the fact that the child will suffer from the poverty.
Also, it doesn't take much education to become aware of this country's long and unbroken history of race-based brutality (slavery, Jim Crow, and the War on Drugs to say nothing of the outright genocide inflicted on Native Americans). Nor do you have to be exceptionally thoughtful to recognize the resulting correlations between race and poverty that persist today. And given how deeply engrained these problems have become, saying "poor people simply shouldn't reproduce" is tantamount to insisting that entire races suddenly give up on themselves in a sweeping acts of self-destruction. Which, yeah, right. Maybe go fuck yourself?
There's another, far more decent response to systematically denigrated people who struggle mightily to raise their kids: you help them.
More seriously, you never 'know' that you'll be perfectly economically steady and care-free for the 18+ years required to raise a child to middle-class American standards until that time has passed--at which point you probably shouldn't be reproducing anyways due to age-related defects.
Unless you are talking about "Hey, I'm in a homeless shelter, lemme get knocked up/knock up because why not", you paint in too broad strokes.
I still think fish is poor people's food and won't eat it again.
Because childbearing is not a rational choice -- it's a visceral response to the most basic of biological drives, drives that won't brook interference from something as peripheral as intelligence.
Look at the fertility numbers : if the rich were made responsible for producing the nation's offspring ... well there wouldn't be a future for America.
Furthermore, there is nothing that increases happiness half as much as having a child.
And if the problem is food, then I would say the US is violating far more than just those 2 rules.
I don't. I think a little socialism is healthy. But I defy you to solve this without screwing over at least one large group of voters. If that were possible, it probably would have been done already.
USA was a perfectly fine country back in 1990 when it had 250m people; and it would be a perfectly fine country if it'd have 250m people today instead of the current 315m.
In fact (contrary to "nothing that increases happiness half as much as having a child") I'd say that the Earth might be a happier place if the future had, say, 1-2 billion people instead of the current 7b or expected 10b - as everybody would have a larger share of the fundamentally limited natural resources, freshwater and space.
If the current resources were distributed somewhat fairly, then noone could have a lifestyle approaching even the "first world" working class - quality life is possible either for an unfairly small part of population, or if there is less population in the first place; and low-by-choice fertility is the most reasonable way to achieve that.
When the health of your social programs is based on continued population growth the future may indeed be grim without it.
However, the bane of those social programs is quickly increasing lifespans. No matter if population growth is zero or huge, if you're currently below 45, you anyway have to "prepare for yourself" rather than expect them to survive in the current form - unless the retirement age moves beyond 80 within this decade.
A variety of factors, primarily two:
1. Poor people tend to have poor education, and are rarely if ever taught about things like birth control.
2. Poor people also tend to be very religious, and in America at least the main religion is anti-birth control.
It is true that there are a lot of things that suck, that few people with access to resources really empathize with those in scarcity trap. Thing is, people are not as helpless as they like to think they are.
Because being poor is a complete absence of freedom. If you want to get out of it, you need to follow extremely rigorous lifestyle (like the one published by MacDonald) for decades, with each mistake costing you years of saving.
That is doable in the country side, but in urbanised area where you are bombarded 24/7 with adds, tempted by very easy credit, surrounded by toxic peers in a society that hates you ? If you think it is, then consider that you also start with a 13 IQ handicap().
Picture that as trying to be on a very strict diet while working drunk in your favourite sweet factory, with everybody around you gorging themselves, even those that shouldn't.
There are many incentives to being irresponsible today, and learning about being responsible with resources involves having some non-volatile resources with which to be responsible to start. When you grow up surrounded by scarcity and a general attitude of helplessness and irresponsibility, it's really hard to develop a responsible approach to life. As a culture, I think we tend to encourage continued irresponsibility. It seems to me that in the world we've created, just a little responsibility doesn't pay--to get off to a viable start, one really needs a critical mass of responsibility, which is difficult to acquire on your own with no resources.
People are not as helpless as they think they are, but they have little way of knowing it without the benefit of having already had the experience of having resources and responsibility.
However, if you are reacting to past associations with rewards and punishments, you are not being response-able. Being responsible doesn't mean, "I am going to be a responsible adult," as in, "I am fulfilling this socially-conditioned image of an 'adult'." Responsibility means being able to make choices (whether they are informed, or not, wise or foolish, it does not matter; there is no such thing as a "responsible choice"), then accepting all the consequences of each choice. It's only when you accept what is, is, are you able to respond with more choices and actions. People tend to want to make choices, yet avoid accepting the unexpected or undesirable outcomes of those choice. By avoiding or deluding themselves into thinking the undesirable did not happen, they compound avoidance with more avoidance until they are paralyzed, unable to act. They are unable to respond.
Sometimes, to avoid a trap, you have to let things go. You let go of what seems to be urgent, accept the consequence of letting go of the urgent, in order to make room to climb out of the trap. Or to use a more concrete metaphor: if your foot is caught in a bear trap, and the bear is coming after you, and you don't want to be eaten, then chop off your foot. (That or just sit down and die with dignity).
Yes. It sucks. Yes, it will hurt. Yes, you might still die of infections, bleeding out, or get chased down by the bear. Or maybe the bear gets distracted by the newly chopped-off foot and you're able to hobble away. What is, is. You choose, you accept.
So most people who think of themselves as responsible adults are not actually responsible. They are simply re-enacting behaviors and emotional patterns of a child with a parent; the parental figure often being society and other authority figures. This re-enactment happens whether someone grows up in an environment of scarcity or abundance. In face of situations that really suck, these folk regress into the helpless child, hoping someone else will make the hard choices for them or magically make things better. Or lament that, they've done all the right things, it's not fair that things suck.
People who think of "responsibility" this way tends to use paternalistic language -- something, I think, that your word usage suggests.
Many people use the term in the prescriptivist fashion you critize, which makes it hard to respond to those ideas without using the term. I'm not sure what else one could call it. Prescribed responsibility? Whatever you call it, it's really easy for those with many resources to make rules of "responsibility" that make little sense to those who have no resources, and then to criticize those without the resources for being "irresponsible". That was what I meant with my original comment--it's easy to be "responsible" in the making-sure-things-go-well sense when you have enough resources to pay your way out of bad choices. Responsibility in the sense of accepting-the-consequences-of-your-actions-and-moving-on-from-there certainly has a different formulation that isn't dependent on having resources.
Thanks for your comments--I think there really are two separate ideas of "responsibility" being discussed, which I'd never really thought about much before. The two shouldn't be conflated, but I think they are all the time. When I first wrote my original comment, I wasn't quite convinced about the idea myself, but I thought it was interesting enough to put forward as an idea. You've helped me unravel which part of it doesn't quite seem right and which part rings true.
However, it wasn't until in the past couple years that I understood "acceptance" (and that understanding is not acceptance). That required practicing a specific form of mindfulness meditation, called Vipassana, or insight meditation. All of Vipassana is simply accepting the sensations, emotions, and thoughts as they arise ... and pass. Usually, there are comfortable and comforting sensations, emotions, and thoughts that we don't want to let go of, and ugly stuff we don't want to experience. Acceptance is acceptance, whether stuff comes up or passes on. Usually, people's fundamental, existential misery kicks in and they run away from Vipassana. Your mileage may vary.
The rules-based, considered-in-advanced "responsible choice" is more akin to expectations and standards. That is, one's outwardly measurable behavior can be observed and held up against a standard. This is the typical way a child is socialized.
The other, responsibility in the sense of accepting-the-consequences-of-your-actions-and-moving-on-from-there falls more along the lines of, "with great responsibility comes great power." It's really the language of power (and as a side-effect, freedom and resources). It's choice after stripping away the social expectations.
I have discovered (and experienced) a way to teach a child how to make choices, accept its consequences, and move from there. It requires a teacher who has been initiated in this. When the child makes a choice, the teacher engages in a conversation to probe the motivations. Is the choice really Choice, or are there some underlying hidden agendas. (For example, the child might be thinking, "If I do this, then Dad will be proud of me, and I will feel accepted."). It's only when these hidden agendas are stripped away from the child, then the teacher points out that this is Choice. "Ok. You chose this. Here is what you do."
The teacher then shows a little bit of the practice to accomplish it, and then sits there with the student and let the child do it. (Not read a book, not watch Netflix, not go away and leave the child to it; the presence of mind of the teacher witnessing is actually very important). It is very important that the teacher never hold the child's hands. If you've stripped away all the hidden agendas and motivations, then if you hold their hand, they are not really accepting the consequences of Choice. You're not accepting their Choice. It is, however, OK, to answer questions, to correct incorrect attempts after the fact (typical newbie mistakes like, forcing things, or going too fast, and sometimes demonstrating something once the child has tried it first).
It's even ok if the child feels overwhelmed by the Choice. That's actually an awesome initiation. The typical response is to seek an adult figure to do it for them. This is where the teacher maintains discipline: the child has to do it for himself. Reminders that, "you chose this" often helps. Usually, the child is not really struggling with the challenges of task or skill, but rather, struggling with inner aversions and inability to accept the suffering that comes with the work.
However, when the child gains some achievement in the task, he knows for sure that it wasn't because people did it for him. He knows it wasn't because someone else expected it of him. He knows it resulted from his effort. He knows to his bone, he chose to do something and he did it himself. External praise isn't required. (What's the point? You know you accomplished it, the presence of praise from the outside is irrelevant). Often though, continued discipline to have the child keep practicing is needed. (Once is not enough, that's why it is called "practice"). Usually, as the skills mature, and as the child matures, the child grows into adulthood with the capability of disciplining himself.
If it sounds intense and a lot of work, it is. It requires a lot of attention from the teacher. It's not scalable. In fact, this dynamic is closer to the older master-apprentice model of instruction (assuming the master didn't have his own hidden agendas).
What you end up with though, is someone who knows how to grow into tasks bigger than himself.
In other cases (for example ecological awareness etc.) there is - unluckily - a chance that you are right.
No, lack of contraception is not the issue here either. What, do you think that because you have low monetary gain you are perpetually unhappy and would not want to have children? That all procreation coming the poorest are mistakes and accidents?
That's quite a nice bubble there. Sorry to burst it.
If two people love each other enough, they might want to have a child. Yes, even if the future is unclear. Yes, even if it means selling the car, taking the public transportation and working over time and having multiple jobs. Whether the situation is permanent or temporary is not even an issue here.
Plus. Having a marriage and children, and getting all financial assistance needed to achieve that is a human right.
The US has signed the treaty enshrining that principle into law ... case closed.
Accidents being the exception, having a child is a huge decision. Especially if you are quite poor.
I have no idea what your personal experience of life is, nor your background. But you seem to have some skewed vision of life if you believe that "these people" shouldn't "produce children" as if the poor were not even humans.
Poor people have children for the same reasons rich people do. The only exception being that there are less gifts at christmas.
Are they robots for practicing family planning? Do they not familiar with "love"?
Because "love" totally makes condoms not work.
He doesn't know any poor people, because he's more than likely rich (they have an average net worth of $10m) and has no reason to associate with them. And he doesn't know any small business owners because the US Capitol complex supplies everything he needs -- haircuts, dry cleaning, catering, car service. And the lobbyists that come to see him? Defense industry, insurance industry, agribusiness, etc. Not Jim's Handyman Services.
I was deeply moved by that piece.
As someone who comes from a country where 'gas' is a shit load more expensive than the US because of tax I call utter bullshit. It costs about 20-40p to go to a supermarket, or at most a dollar in your US terms. Over here there's also a massive competition war going on at the moment between Tesco & Sainsbury's for local convenience stores which have a good percentage of your normal weekly shop if you were buying everything fresh.
I suspect that mom just preferred to serve up frozen shit. And bullshit again on stuff like TV dinners being cheaper than other foods, they're certainly not over here in the UK. A simple chilli or bolognese is much cheaper if you buy the raw ingredients than any processed foods.
I suspect the problem's more that Mom just doesn't know how to cook.
Also, it's hard to have time to cook when you're working two jobs.
The first and the third links are the same - did you mean to post only two?
I've never been able to explain my childhood satisfactorily (to me, to see the listener get it) to anyone. Less still why I made myself homeless and slept rough.
But those three articles... at a certain point, throwing in your hand is the best thing you can do. At least you've broken the cycle and now have the freedom to figure out your way out.
'Imagine how bad our PhD student theses would be if we said, "It's year two. Course work is done. Come back in three years with a thesis, and if you want you could always come and ask me questions, but otherwise that's it. You're off." Of course it would be awful. That’s just too distant a deadline.'
'You realize you're describing the experience of 30 percent of all graduate students in the United States.'
Ouch. That's just painful.
I finished, but it was rough at times,
Is it the poor who have power to change things, or the rich?
Which is the bigger group? The poor or the rich?
If it is the poor, then isn't it relatively the rich who think differently?
Mostly the rich. That's the point. Laws get passed to service the wants of the rich, because they have orders of magnitude more influence. These laws then screw over the poor, but the rich can't properly sympathize because they just don't understand, because their world is so different.
Dismantling of welfare programs in order to cut costs in order to lower taxes on the rich stops critical services to the poor and keeps them trapped in poverty.
Tax liens sold to rich investors lets them practically steal homes (or get them at bargain prices) and evict the owners in order to flip them off what are sometimes ridiculously small amounts of debt compared to the home value owed by the not-well-off (but not ridiculously small compared to their financial situation).
And that's just off the top of my head... I'll give you a hint, most of the laws concerned are related in some way to cutting taxes or letting rich money play more (ie. make more money).
Meh. The recession wasn't caused by a financial crisis. The recession and the financial crisis both had the same cause - a real estate bubble. And I don't see any indication wealthy people have come out ahead here except for a handful of people who managed to cash in during the bubble. But that's not a question of how the law is structured - that happens in every bubble.
>Dismantling of welfare programs in order to cut costs in order to lower taxes on the rich stops critical services to the poor and keeps them trapped in poverty.
That's an odd view of the situation. For one thing, services to the poor have been greatly expanded in recent years. Disability, SNAP, WIC... all that stuff has been expanded. Also, existing programs like Medicaid have maintained the same level of service even as costs spiral out of control.
The only thing I can think of that's actually been cut is AFDC, if you consider a time limit on benefits to be a cut. And that's perfectly reasonable - it's supposed to be a net, not a hammock.
Also, if you really wanted to trap people in poverty you couldn't do better than to hand them money for being poor. Lots of people are on benefits for a few years and then they pull themselves out of poverty. But there's a significant percentage who'll stay on benefits because that's the path of least resistance.
> Tax liens sold to rich investors lets them practically steal homes (or get them at bargain prices) and evict the owners in order to flip them off what are sometimes ridiculously small amounts of debt compared to the home value owed by the not-well-off (but not ridiculously small compared to their financial situation).
I'm not sure you understand how this works. When you have a lien against your house and you don't pay it, the lien holder can force the sale of the property. But the homeowner gets the money from the sale after the lien has been satisfied.
Nobody's getting screwed here. People who end up with no money 1) didn't pay their taxes and 2) don't have any equity in the house.
If you didn't have a system where the city/county could take your house for back taxes nobody would pay taxes.
Welfare programs haven't expanded in the last few years, they've simply been more needed. When more people are out of work, more people need welfare, but that doesn't mean the programs have become more far reaching. And besides, why on earth do you think I'm only talking about the last few years? Lobbies on the right are constantly pushing for "dismantling the mommy state", and it has everything to do with wanting lower taxes. Which is an example of the rich getting laws passed that screw over the poor, which you seemed incredulous about.
I don't think you understand what being trapped in poverty really means. If people are choosing to stay on benefits, it's usually because working 60 hours a week to barely tread water doesn't seem to appealing to them. Social mobility in the US is among the lowest in the developed world.
Tax liens: for the most part it's not corrupt, but I was referring to this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6349476
So far you're not really disproving my point, just arguing other aspects of your ideology.
Those "crazy incentives" were put in place by well-meaning people who confused middle class signifiers with causative behavior. In other words, people who thought home ownership was a way into the middle class instead of what it is - a middle class luxury.
>Welfare programs haven't expanded in the last few years, they've simply been more needed.
Not true. Before Obama took office you could be on food stamps three months in a three year period. Now the only limit is your income. Even bigger is Medicaid, which consumes ever greater portions of state budgets on a per-capita basis.
>I don't think you understand what being trapped in poverty really means. If people are choosing to stay on benefits, it's usually because working 60 hours a week to barely tread water doesn't seem to appealing to them.
That's exactly my point. Of course nobody wants to work hard. But if you don't take an entry level job you'll never have a job that makes you comfortable. Thus my comment about social programs trapping people in poverty.
>Tax liens: for the most part it's not corrupt, but I was referring to this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6349476
I understood what you were referring to. The article is written to inflame passions in people who don't understand the process. If you read through the HN thread you'll see half the people who read the article think the lien holder pockets the entire amount from property sales.
>So far you're not really disproving my point, just arguing other aspects of your ideology.
No, I'm disproving your point, but you're ideological blinkers prevent you from reassessing your position.
I still don't think you understand what being trapped in poverty means. Even taking that entry-level job, assuming you can get it in the first place, often doesn't raise the person much higher. Been trapped in poverty often means you don't have the background, education, opportunity, or even awareness to go after that job in the first place.
Tax lien thing: the article never mentioned what happened to the money from the sale of the house, other than that it was sold by the investor, so I hardly think it was a matter of political blindness on the part of the readers. Furthermore, the man was eveicted from his lifetime home over a $150 dollar bill, and forced to pay $5000 instead, no to mention either lose the house or lose out on selling the house under more favourable conditions to a buyer willing to pay more, depending on what is in fact true. Discussion on that article seems to indicate he did indeed lose the equity, and that this is a problem in Washington D.C. due to how the law is worded there. This example proves my point either way.
Is that a question? Of course wealthy people have more influence, and that's a good thing, too. If they didn't the poor people would vote themselves everyone else's money and complain when the economy crashed.
But I don't think the laws "screw" the poor. Whenever the government is taking money from one person and giving it to a different person you wouldn't call the second guy "screwed".
>I still don't think you understand what being trapped in poverty means. Even taking that entry-level job, assuming you can get it in the first place, often doesn't raise the person much higher. Been trapped in poverty often means you don't have the background, education, opportunity, or even awareness to go after that job in the first place.
And yet somehow millions have escaped from that trap. I don't know why you don't think I understand what you mean here. I'm just skeptical it's a real thing. Have you considered this may be a case of survivor bias, that people with the character and discipline to not be poor... are no longer poor?
>Tax lien thing: the article never mentioned what happened to the money from the sale of the house, other than that it was sold by the investor, so I hardly think it was a matter of political blindness on the part of the readers.
Well, that's my point. The article never mentions the homeowner gets the money from the sale of the house less the lien amount. The whole point of the article is to upset you - if they tell you everything you'll think "oh, that makes sense" and turn the page.
>Furthermore, the man was eveicted from his lifetime home over a $150 dollar bill, and forced to pay $5000 instead, no to mention either lose the house or lose out on selling the house under more favourable conditions to a buyer willing to pay more, depending on what is in fact true.
Bad things happen when you don't pay your taxes. Surely this isn't headline news? Of course if you have any equity at all you don't let someone foreclose on your house - you sell it first. But the "left with nothing" guy didn't have any equity, so the particulars of the sale don't matter that much to him. But we're supposed to emote here without wondering how much money he took out of the house during the real estate boom.
>Discussion on that article seems to indicate he did indeed lose the equity, and that this is a problem in Washington D.C. due to how the law is worded there. This example proves my point either way.
No. The fact that "discussion" has confused you doesn't prove anything. There's no legal trick wherein you can steal someone's house for $150. The reason the homeowner isn't getting anything is he doesn't have any equity.
The article was deliberately written to confuse you. The only thing that should cause you to raise an eyebrow is the amount the lien holders were charging for legal fees. But those are normal sorts of numbers (ridiculous, but still normal) when you get sued and have to pay legal costs.
Let's take a look at the original quote from you I was responding to:
"Is it the poor who have power to change things, or the rich?"
Yeah, that was the question.
Being rich is only possible when others are poor.
"Being rich" is a relative situation: If you have privileges because you're rich, you're not likely to say "I'm going to downgrade my life so all the others can meet me at the same level (of privileges)".
Why? Because, a little simplified: you wouldn't find anybody to take care of your garden anymore.
No rich person really has a natural incentive to call for real equality. So, the idea that we're all born with the same rights is currently still just an idea and nothing more. It's not respected and implemented:
"The Richest 10% of American Families Got Half of All Income Last Year." 
And it's likely to get even worse (for the 90%, that is), as money has this natural polarizing/monopolizing effect.
The "0.1%" are far more wealthy than ever before - however, they are not employing more people for their personal needs. Assistants, butlers, maids, chauffeurs, live-in nannies/governesses, dedicated gardeners, etc. are a very rare breed nowadays used by tiny numbers of ultra-rich, while a hundred years ago many "upper-middle" class specialists (doctors, lawyers, civil servants) employed other people for their personal needs.
In fact, I'd say that it's entirely the opposite - the rich don't need or want the common people anymore, they can do almost without them; so they're not associating with them and not redistributing the wealth to "common laborers" by paying for their services, almost all of the wealth is invested in capital not in labor. So labor as such loses; the lower class would be better off being employed as gardeners rather than rotting without income, but they aren't. The top 5% can't afford them, and the top 0.1% need/want just a few.
What intrigues me is that poverty is essential to the dynamics of capitalism. Some are rich because some are poor. Modern capitalism operates on a very abstract layer and my basic comprehension of economics is not enough to understand how this relationship between rich and poor translates to modern times but I have I feeling it still holds true.
That said, and here's an inconvenient idea, what if some are lonely because others have too many friends? In the same way the richness of some breeds the poverty of others, what if the abundance of some breeds the scarcity of others? I hope you understand this doesn't imply guilty on any side. It just hints at a somewhat cruel dynamics underlying the commodification of life. Doesn't it?
One interesting thing is how it connects with John Boyd's concept of OODA. Boyd talks about "stacking" the opposing force's OODA loop and injecting it with misinformation to get it going. It more or less describes, for example, the predatory loans. It's also interesting to see this kind of dynamic play out in the TV shows, Burn Notice and Leverage.
Unfortunately, you'll have to crunch the numbers if you wish to have children. It may be in your best financial interest for one of you to quit your job and stay home with the kids, at least until they start school. Yes, you'll be broke all the time, but damn if your kids won't benefit in the long run from it. This is what my wife and I had to do. We had our two kids two years apart. She quit a pretty good job to stay home and raise them because by the time it was all said and done, she would have brought home less than $1000/month after daycare for two children...one of which was a baby.
The first country or state to disband the current teaching system and replace with a competitive system will skyrocket to success. This is a no-brainer, but it's so to difficult implement because there's so many of the 'government handout' teachers voting they swamp the rest of us.
I think you'd more likely see a teacher driving one, to supplement their income.
Meanwhile, fisherman, who hold the most dangerous job, have a median salary of $25,000.
Firefighters, whose job is to enter dangerous buildings, $45,000.
Fast food workers, $18,000.
We can argue about what specific subjects are best to teach in school, and what a teacher ought to be paid, but don't you think that, broadly speaking, educating children provides some economic benefit to a nation?
Where are the proper studies (with 1000s of participants) showing teachers can do a better job than babysitters who hand out an ipad with learning software to every student?
The teaching system is a 19th system. It's like if the tech industry continued on with using telegraphs and morse code for everything.
There's a lot of "but it's always been done that way", and teachers' unions are very quick to play the "think of the chilllllldrun card". Lots of entrenched bureaucracy and budgets that people don't want to lose.
Why are public schools with the same "limousine liberals" operating them more successful than poor schools? I think your theory has a few holes.
Teaching metrics should be about how successful people turn out as adults, not some test scores at year end.
Until the government education system can show it's success in that, I'd hold off funding them.
What has shown success are private schools http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405270230382220457746...
If everyone was a businessman, they'd be earning more than government set minimums.
I have a laptop and I've had the luxury of time to learn to program. If I invest 1,000 hours in a web startup that fails, I still get to eat food from a grocery store and sleep on a bed.
As a young adult in a family living paycheck-to-paycheck (because they are paid barely enough to survive) you are not likely to have free time to develop skills - you need to be working to cover the cost of your meals, taking care of young children, etc. You don't stand a chance.
But let's say you had some free time, and you went to the (evil socialist government waste-of-taxpayer-money) public library and taught yourself some Rails and spent enough time on the Internet to get an idea of something people wanted. Already we're talking pretty implausible, but let's go with it. High school ends, and you want to dive into building this thing. But guess what? You need to eat. So you take a shitty minimum wage job and come home exhausted every day; your body physically will not let you concentrate no matter how hard you try. Game over.
You have a shitty education and no GitHub portfolio. There is absolutely no reason for a venture capitalist to believe in you, you're just another delusional starry-eyed kid who has no idea how much he doesn't know. But let's say your parents have faith, and they're willing to continue eating the cost of your room and board in their apartment because they just know you're going to make it big like Mark Zuckerberg and will be able to take care of them. You work 100 hours a week on your idea for 6 months, but it fails. It was a good idea but it turned out there wasn't a market for it, or you screwed up because you've never done this before, or you got eaten alive by competition staffed with Stanford comp sci graduates. Not only is the game over, but you've betrayed your parents, you're getting evicted, your siblings are being placed in foster care, and you're homeless.
It was pretty irresponsible of your parents to let you do that. Which is probably why "keep your head down, work hard, take what you get, and recognize ambition as sinful" makes sense to people as a religious value.
Taking risks with your time is a luxury which you absolutely do not have when you're living on the edge of not making rent. Capitalism does not allow for everyone to be an owner - the whole point is that the ability to make money resides in the hands of people with money as opposed to the collective.
That's $120,000 over k-12 (not including pre-school). Is $120,000 and 12 years not enough to teach every kid entrepreneurship and coding?
As I wrote in another comment, the current education system is 19th century stuff and it's amazing a lot more people aren't astounded why it still exists.
You have not solved the risk or capital problems.
Yes, there are a lot of problems with the education system. Wake me when you find a way to fix it that actually works in a sustainable and scalable fashion.
Punishing teachers for teaching students who don't give a shit because there is no good reason for them to give a shit just decreases the number of teachers willing to work in poor districts.
There is an 'unlimited demand' for programmers skills because of demand ran out, there would be no work left (we'd have a singularity/post scarcity) - programmers automate work.
> There is an 'unlimited demand' for programmers skills because of demand ran out, there would be no work left (we'd have a singularity/post scarcity) - programmers automate work.
Someone has to pay programmers to live. If everyone is a qualified programmer, then there's always a programmer willing to work for less (barring a powerful labor union) - until you've driven the wage back down to basic survival (at least for many of the 90% of people who are by definition not in the top 10% as far as skill level), and we're back in the same cycle of poverty we were trying to fix.
Even if there is variability of pay, at least society would be far richer, so being poor wouldn't suck so bad.
Prove that teacher quality and not curriculum design or cultural factors is actually what's holding down education in poor districts. (You do realize that teachers don't get to choose what they teach, right? Curriculum is set centrally.)
Personally, I'd want to see self-directed curriculums with a core of entrepreneurship and computing.
With people like you around, even the Singularity wouldn't get rid of capitalism.
Do you think that the majority of people would think that it was "too hard to bear" if they had to work, live in low rent apartment AND go to school?
America's poor are the worlds wealthiest.
The sad state of mind that people fall into is all about relativism. They are poor relative to X people. They are disadvantages relative to X groups. They have to work harder than X people so this is suddenly an insurmountable feat.
Put nearly ANY (truly) poor immigrant in the US and watch the magic work. Watch this insurmountable feat accomplished again and again. Watch this success propagate for a couple of the immigrant's generations. Then watch the values that they brought, the very reasons that made them succeed them washed away by American influence.
I have seen this first hand on many many occasions. I would like to see a study of immigrants and how hard they work compared to the inner city people of America. I would like to see the difference in choices that they made.
Why don't we see this. Why don't we see the government publish and advertise what poor people must do to escape poverty. Advertise how the immigrants do it without wellfare. You never see it (and probably never will).
Having spent most of my childhood living with my mom and my three siblings on her meager $8,000 / year income, I'd say I have to agree. Poor is a state of mind.
But, I'll argue that it's not a state of mind that the poor take on themselves. "Poor" is a distinction that others will give to you, not the other way around. Being poor is about being relegated by the other members of society. It's about being isolated, segregated, and honestly, constantly dealing with all sorts of mean-spirited people who believe they could have made better decisions...obviously.
Please try to imagine living a world where you're the lowest status person around, where the kids and adults look upon you in disgust. Imagine no support network, few friends, and a life void of most conveniences. Is it better than the poor of other countries? Maybe. I don't know. But, at least, I would hope that they have some sort of community. Being poor in America is about being alone and laughed at, while suffering.
Are you saying that a poor kid does not start to realize that they are poor by their own observations pretty early on? Mom, can we eat at that restaurant. Mom, why don't we get a car like other people have? Mom, why don't we have a telephone like people on TV do? Why am I wearing worn out clothes, socks and shoes? Why do we eat lentils, rice or beans for every meal? ETC...
I grew up poor and knew we were poor from very early on. Not because anyone stigmatized me either. It was blatantly obvious. If everyone else around me and on TV had was in the exact same financial circumstances that we lived in.
Even in your case, I don't see the point of your statement. Is it to place blame on the haves for persecuting the have nots? This is America. I realize that being poor may negatively affect social status among peers, but I don't consider this a limitation. Look at immigrants/refugees. Not only do they act, look, eat, smell and talk differently. They are also minorities and poor. They have far less going for them at first glance. They are stigmatized for a host of reasons.
A deeper look reveals that they have two assets that most inner city kids do not have. A strong determination to work hard/succeed and a strong family presence to reinforce and encourage that determination.
My guess is that if you had a strong full family with a father at home who taught you kids to believe in yourselves and not to listen to naysayers things would have been much different in your life (even if you still were dirt poor)
Why do I think that? Because that is my story. There are popular poor kids and there are unpopular rich kids. Same with fat kids, skinny kids, athletic, clumsy, ugly, handsome ETC. The biggest determining factor is how much self confidence they have. When people truly believe in themselves, they will rise to the top. Their peers will believe as they do. That they are valuable to others.
The government "nanny" will continue to try to replace God and family, but it will never even come close to succeeding. The more the government tries, the worse things get. No amount of money will ever replace what a child gets from being reared in a good healthy and loving family.
Nothing will ever keep a family together like a true belief and faith in God can. Broken families are a result of selfishness. The government does nothing but promote more selfishness.
Reading through your past posts, I see that there's a trend. You have a distinct, extreme ideology of free market libertarianism. And, you try to cherry pick reality to fit into your ideology. You're not convincing anyone that way.
Poor immigrants and minorities with two-parent households don't succeed any more (and probably less) than poor white kids with single parents.
We have a historically vestigial class of people that have nothing to offer a modern economy. And that class will grow as the economy gets more complex. An increase in complexity is indistinguishable from downward mobility.
Poor immigrants come from places where the cognitive sorting hasn't happened yet.
The basic gist is that just looking at quantity of physical possessions is an impoverished way of analyzing the situation.
Except, oh wait no, that's actually the opposite of what we want.
Remove options that are specifically attractive to less wealthy / poor people and you increase the average wealthiness of your demographic