Decline of the American culture

I've been reading Coming Apart by Charles Murray, which details the systematic decline of morality and industriousness among the bottom rungs of society. It pissed off Paul Krugman, which meant I had to read it myself.

Murray argues that this decline of "American" values is as much a symptom of poverty as the cause. At the same time, he cites how the elites have increasingly developed an increasingly insulated culture.

So, what do you all think? Are we in a state of moral decay, or are we just experiencing a change in social mores like we have so many times before? And are we separating into an increasingly bifurcated society?

Comments (204)

Feb 21, 2012

Definitely need more "moral" values to combat poverty... Taliban style... it worked well in Afghanistan, I'm sure it can work well in the US of A!

Seriously though...

Poor working class / less educated men have a harder time supporting a family, therefore fewer families... more bastard children, etc... demonising them through some "moral decay" rhetoric and blaming them for their poverty isn't useful to understand the trend, nor is it useful to better their socio-economic condition... I don't see how one could argue the causation flows the other way around...

I do see how having a strong family and social network can protect one against shocks in their career, etc... though, I'm not sure that's the point Murray is trying to make and it is of less value when the lack of opportunities for the lower classes is systemic.

Feb 21, 2012

Charles Murray is a fraud.

Feb 21, 2012
UFOinsider:

Charles Murray is a fraud.

This. Dumb book. Dumber thesis.

Feb 21, 2012

My view is that at least 40% of the country is capable of doing calculus. If you can do calculus, you can be a competent STEM person, and competent STEM guys create and maintain middle-class jobs.

So I think a lot of the social stratification we are seeing today is unnatural.

Feb 22, 2012
IlliniProgrammer:

My view is that at least 40% of the country is capable of doing calculus.

This is the single DUMBEST sentence I've ever read in my entire life. You are completely delusional - bordering on just plain ignorant - if you believe this.

    • 1
Feb 26, 2012
GentlemanJack:
IlliniProgrammer:

My view is that at least 40% of the country is capable of doing calculus.

This is the single DUMBEST sentence I've ever read in my entire life. You are completely delusional - bordering on just plain ignorant - if you believe this.

GentlemanJack is not a gentleman at all, he is a douche.

    • 1
Feb 21, 2012

Society is no better or worse off than it has been for millenia, this is nothing new.

Feb 23, 2012
blackrainn:

Society is no better or worse off than it has been for millenia, this is nothing new.

Yep, we always think the new generation is the degenerate one. Although this one is worse.

Feb 21, 2012

My view is that at least 40% of the country is capable of doing calculus. If you can do calculus, you can be a competent STEM person, and competent STEM guys create and maintain middle-class jobs.

Disagree.

"Doing" calculus is not the same as innovating. I doubt more than 15% of the US population has the ability to innovate at even a medium level.

Creating patents is dominated by high IQ scientists/engineers more now than any time in our history. Real technology innovation is dominated by 98th percentile or above. Steve Hsu's blog Information Processing goes over the data.

Feb 21, 2012
PetEng:

My view is that at least 40% of the country is capable of doing calculus. If you can do calculus, you can be a competent STEM person, and competent STEM guys create and maintain middle-class jobs.

Disagree.

"Doing" calculus is not the same as innovating. I doubt more than 15% of the US population has the ability to innovate at even a medium level.

Creating patents is dominated by high IQ scientists/engineers more now than any time in our history. Real technology innovation is dominated by 98th percentile or above. Steve Hsu's blog Information Processing goes over the data.

Innovating is only about 10% of the value. The other 90% is perspiration. That is something anyone with work ethic and basic math skills can do.

Feb 21, 2012
IlliniProgrammer:
PetEng:

My view is that at least 40% of the country is capable of doing calculus. If you can do calculus, you can be a competent STEM person, and competent STEM guys create and maintain middle-class jobs.

Disagree.

"Doing" calculus is not the same as innovating. I doubt more than 15% of the US population has the ability to innovate at even a medium level.

Creating patents is dominated by high IQ scientists/engineers more now than any time in our history. Real technology innovation is dominated by 98th percentile or above. Steve Hsu's blog Information Processing goes over the data.

Innovating is only about 10% of the value. The other 90% is perspiration. That is something anyone with work ethic and basic math skills can do.

This. How many of us actually innovate at our jobs, creating new processes, technology, or ways of thinking? Not everyone can be a visionary

Feb 21, 2012

The level of bastardization in this country is downright disturbing and foreshadows some terrible demographic realities down the road.

Feb 21, 2012
UFOinsider:

Charles Murray is a fraud.

Not going to argue it- most info-tainment books are sensationalistic. But they at least get the public interested in a problem.

PetEng:

The level of bastardization in this country is downright disturbing and foreshadows some terrible demographic realities down the road.

I think this was the point Murray was trying to make, among others. I am not promoting American Exceptionalism nor the validity of only one family structure, but single parent homes are usually less stable. It seems very reasonable that the prevalence of violent crime in certain regional social groups can be traced back to inadequate parental involvement.

I think its more interesting to consider Murray's argument that we have a less industrious and more entitled society. He highlighted how labor force participation lagged within less affluent areas even in boom times, and how we have more "disabled" workers now. What moved us from a society where handouts were taken only as a last resort to the current "wring every cent you can out of the government" culture we have now?

Feb 21, 2012

Most people have only basic intelligence. That wasn't an issue 40-50 years ago because the rest of the world was dirt poor and we have simple manufacturing jobs here. Now the rest of the world has caught up and we don't need dumb people to make stuff.

Unfortunately these people still have a vote. They elect people who give them what they want, instead of the cold truth that they need to fight harder. Much like how fat people keep dreaming of a pill or some magic spell, instead of the painful and miserable dieting and exercise that has work forever now.

America now needs informational workers and educated laborers.

Socialism will rise or totalitarianism. Both will be to placate the poor and un-needed.

Feb 22, 2012
ANT:

Unfortunately these people still have a vote.

Socialism will rise or totalitarianism. Both will be to placate the poor and un-needed.

Man, you really need to get out of the bad part of Philly. It's affecting the way you look at the world. People have been saying this stuff for generations about America and even after a recession we're doing ok.

Feb 22, 2012
UFOinsider:
ANT:

Unfortunately these people still have a vote.

Socialism will rise or totalitarianism. Both will be to placate the poor and un-needed.

Man, you really need to get out of the bad part of Philly. It's affecting the way you look at the world. People have been saying this stuff for generations about America and even after a recession we're doing ok.

We have an ever increasing amount of people not paying fed taxes

We have global competition and an information/service based economy

Less than 30% of Americans have a bachelors degree

Birth rates for educated, well off individuals is below replacement rate while low income, uneducated birth rates are above replacement rates

Illegal immigration continues, even those we no longer have a need for large amounts of unskilled workers, let alone non English speaking laborers

Everyone has a vote

Tell me how that is going to end positively. We will either placate these people with hand outs (socialism) or keep them in check with force (totalitarianism).

Feb 25, 2012
UFOinsider:
ANT:

Unfortunately these people still have a vote.

Socialism will rise or totalitarianism. Both will be to placate the poor and un-needed.

Man, you really need to get out of the bad part of Philly. It's affecting the way you look at the world. People have been saying this stuff for generations about America and even after a recession we're doing ok.

just because it hasnt happened yet does not mean it wont, DUCY?

Feb 21, 2012

We need Rick Santorum. He's the only guy proposing specific solutions that will save America from certain doom.

Feb 21, 2012
swagon:

We need Rick Santorum. He's the only guy proposing specific solutions that will save America from certain doom.

Another crazy radical for president, not this time.

The Four E's of investment
"The greatest Enemies of the Equity investor are Expenses and Emotions."- Warren Buffet

Feb 21, 2012

Rick wants to ban birth control. That will only magnify the problem. Women with college degrees and higher income have less than the replacement rate child birth.

The people who this economy cannot use and this country cannot support and the people you want on birth control.

Feb 21, 2012
ANT:

Rick wants to ban birth control. That will only magnify the problem. Women with college degrees and higher income have less than the replacement rate child birth.

The people who this economy cannot use and this country cannot support and the people you want on birth control.

No, you're wrong. Rick is the only one making any sense and proposing real solutions.

If America banned birth control, along with porn, and if it also passed a constitutional amendment explicitly banning gay marriage, then and only then would America immediately see its national debt wiped away, unemployment drop to 5%, real GDP per capita explode, and world peace.

Feb 21, 2012

One thing I will say is almost everyone living on this site is in a vacuum. Many are working hard at / graduated from a top 10/15 school (or are busting their butts at "non-targets"), scored 99th percentile+ on their standardized tests, have gotten a degree in something semi-useful (economics, CS, etc.), have some semblance of a family, etc.. The average American makes $38,000ish a year, doesn't have a college degree, scored a 22ish on the ACT, and studies "general studies" or "business" (at a non-target). And that's the average, the bottom 25th percentile isn't looking very good. Just something to remember.

The new economy is an economy where you need to be in the top 15/20% (and ideally the top 10%) of intellect to really compete (and I'm talking intellect on a broad level, whether that be leadership, technical skills, personal skills, etc.) We can take the top 23% of the Chinese population (or the top 10% of China's and India's population) and make them all citizens of the United States.... something to think about.

I think it's time to really start thinking about yourself as a global citizen. I will certainly be teaching my children Chinese / Portuguese.

Feb 21, 2012
blackrainn:

I will certainly be teaching my children Chinese / Portuguese.

Mar 3, 2012
blackrainn:

One thing I will say is almost everyone living on this site is in a vacuum. Many are working hard at / graduated from a top 10/15 school (or are busting their butts at "non-targets"), scored 99th percentile+ on their standardized tests, have gotten a degree in something semi-useful (economics, CS, etc.), have some semblance of a family, etc.. The average American makes $38,000ish a year, doesn't have a college degree, scored a 22ish on the ACT, and studies "general studies" or "business" (at a non-target). And that's the average, the bottom 25th percentile isn't looking very good. Just something to remember.

The new economy is an economy where you need to be in the top 15/20% (and ideally the top 10%) of intellect to really compete (and I'm talking intellect on a broad level, whether that be leadership, technical skills, personal skills, etc.) We can take the top 23% of the Chinese population (or the top 10% of China's and India's population) and make them all citizens of the United States.... something to think about.

I think it's time to really start thinking about yourself as a global citizen. I will certainly be teaching my children Chinese / Portuguese.

The average american makes $50,000. Huge difference, and enough to make a decent living in most places

Mar 3, 2012
IamObama:
blackrainn:

One thing I will say is almost everyone living on this site is in a vacuum. Many are working hard at / graduated from a top 10/15 school (or are busting their butts at "non-targets"), scored 99th percentile+ on their standardized tests, have gotten a degree in something semi-useful (economics, CS, etc.), have some semblance of a family, etc.. The average American makes $38,000ish a year, doesn't have a college degree, scored a 22ish on the ACT, and studies "general studies" or "business" (at a non-target). And that's the average, the bottom 25th percentile isn't looking very good. Just something to remember.

The new economy is an economy where you need to be in the top 15/20% (and ideally the top 10%) of intellect to really compete (and I'm talking intellect on a broad level, whether that be leadership, technical skills, personal skills, etc.) We can take the top 23% of the Chinese population (or the top 10% of China's and India's population) and make them all citizens of the United States.... something to think about.

I think it's time to really start thinking about yourself as a global citizen. I will certainly be teaching my children Chinese / Portuguese.

The average american makes $50,000. Huge difference, and enough to make a decent living in most places

Average income isn't a representative number. 46 million people under the poverty line (15%) don't have a decent living, and that number could be growing. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/14/us/14census.html...

Feb 21, 2012

swagon is on fire!

Feb 21, 2012

Innovating is only about 10% of the value. The other 90% is perspiration. That is something anyone with work ethic and basic math skills can do.

Patent production is dominated by people who are 98th percentile intellect or above. You can't improve a microchip design with an 80th percentile intellect if your competitors have a 98th percentile intellect. That's why companies like Intel/AMD/Google/Apple/Samsung/Sony stockpile the smartest motherfuckers they can in the high tech game.

You act like getting a job at the R&D department at Intel is easy. It's harder to get into than IBD. Getting a PhD in Computer Engineering or Physics is harder than getting into IBD.

Feb 21, 2012

You act like getting a job at the R&D department at Intel is easy. It's harder to get into than IBD. Getting a PhD in Computer Engineering or Physics is harder than getting into IBD.

LOL, what do you think my degree is in and how many research papers do you think I've published?

Trust me, 90% of the value is still in getting everything down on paper and vetting everything. Anyone who can get a 650Q on the SATs can do that.

Feb 21, 2012

I assume EE/CS and I'm assuming more than one. So?

The probability of writing a STEM paper and/or successfully filing a patent is highly dependent on intellect (and the data shows that).

Feb 21, 2012

Before this gets into a pissing contest about who files more patents, CS guys, Maths guys, or the top 1% or the top 5% (excluding the top 1%), etc.... can we recognise that this has nothing to do with:
1 - The issue that less educated (non-college graduate) Americans can't find gainful employment and have stagnant/deteriorating living standards/wages.
2 - Even if 50% of the USA were at Mensa level IQ, you would still have the issues we are talking about.
3 - All of this talk about patents and innovation misses the point that more people are employed in commercialising these scientific or creative breakthroughs or in normal course of non-innovative business than in coming up with these ideas.. the economics of it will always work that way. So what does this have to do with the issue of in the thread?

Every other thread in this place turns into STEM is better than something else, or Google is more innovative than MIT, etc...

    • 1
Feb 22, 2012
Relinquis:

Before this gets into a pissing contest about who files more patents, CS guys, Maths guys, or the top 1% or the top 5% (excluding the top 1%), etc.... can we recognise that this has nothing to do with:
1 - The issue that less educated (non-college graduate) Americans can't find gainful employment and have stagnant/deteriorating living standards/wages.
2 - Even if 50% of the USA were at Mensa level IQ, you would still have the issues we are talking about.
3 - All of this talk about patents and innovation misses the point that more people are employed in commercialising these scientific or creative breakthroughs or in normal course of non-innovative business than in coming up with these ideas.. the economics of it will always work that way. So what does this have to do with the issue of in the thread?

Every other thread in this place turns into STEM is better than something else, or Google is more innovative than MIT, etc...

1) Yes, that is the issue. However, the greater proportion of your population that is smart the higher the standard of living for the dumb ones.
2) If half of our population was MENSA level IQs we would be the richest country in the entire world - dwarfing Switzerland/Singapore.
3) If you don't have the innovative classes - you don't have the middle income jobs. At all. Look at Africa or South America. These places have patent production rates that are one level above plankton. And their economies will never be first world if those rates don't improve. Resource extraction will end eventually (pretty much the only sector of their economy that generates decent wealth).

Feb 22, 2012
Relinquis:

Before this gets into a pissing contest about who files more patents, CS guys, Maths guys, or the top 1% or the top 5% (excluding the top 1%), etc.... can we recognise that this has nothing to do with:
1 - The issue that less educated (non-college graduate) Americans can't find gainful employment and have stagnant/deteriorating living standards/wages.
2 - Even if 50% of the USA were at Mensa level IQ, you would still have the issues we are talking about.
3 - All of this talk about patents and innovation misses the point that more people are employed in commercialising these scientific or creative breakthroughs or in normal course of non-innovative business than in coming up with these ideas.. the economics of it will always work that way. So what does this have to do with the issue of in the thread?

Every other thread in this place turns into STEM is better than something else, or Google is more innovative than MIT, etc...

Great insight. Appreciate your quality responses in this thread and many others.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Feb 22, 2012
happypantsmcgee:
Relinquis:

Before this gets into a pissing contest about who files more patents, CS guys, Maths guys, or the top 1% or the top 5% (excluding the top 1%), etc.... can we recognise that this has nothing to do with:
1 - The issue that less educated (non-college graduate) Americans can't find gainful employment and have stagnant/deteriorating living standards/wages.
2 - Even if 50% of the USA were at Mensa level IQ, you would still have the issues we are talking about.
3 - All of this talk about patents and innovation misses the point that more people are employed in commercialising these scientific or creative breakthroughs or in normal course of non-innovative business than in coming up with these ideas.. the economics of it will always work that way. So what does this have to do with the issue of in the thread?

Every other thread in this place turns into STEM is better than something else, or Google is more innovative than MIT, etc...

Great insight. Appreciate your quality responses in this thread and many others.

Thanks happypants, just trying to learn from others and discuss ideas.

Feb 21, 2012

There was a really interesting article I read the other day on the Journal that more or less was saying that the decline of the sense of community was one of the biggest issues in the country from a social/developmental level (it also said that the only way to have a good community was to have a religion to center it around, which I don't necessarily agree with, but otherwise a good point). If you think about it, it sort of makes sense. I mean, in the greatest generation, for example, my grandparents used to always tell me how it was so awesome actually having a neighborhood and tight-knit community, because then even when times were tough you had a support system to lean on/events to look forward to, and when things were going well for you, the community kept you grounded. People would walk over to each other's houses unannounced, plan block parties, barbeques, etc. I mean I guess it still happens sometimes, but it just seems less common. Not to mention they used to go on tirades about how TV, Video games and the internet were destroying the social fabric of the country because people just weren't interacting with each other as much on a personal level. There might be something to that.

Feb 22, 2012

PetEng,

point 3 goes back to the issue that the majority of the people employed will not be doing the innovating, rather they would be in other parts of the value chain (some of these parts are more lucrative/require other skills). Point 2 is nonsense. Look at all of the high IQ people who can't find worthwhile jobs (look at any longitudinal study of high IQ people). 1. educated/less educated is not the same as smart/dumb. Are you using these interchangeably? do you mean more people should be educated in order to take advantage of the opportunities that are there in STEM fields? Yes, I agree.

The standards of living in the USA have more to do with the structure of the economy, the laws, institutions, governance, history, culture and natural resources than inherent intelligence of its people... reading this thread you would think that intelligence or moral values were all that mattered.

You are mixing smart with well educated, and are extrapolating from the individual to the macro economy/general population... You can teach someone maths even if they are of average intelligence. They won't be Phd level, but should be able to be a decent engineer / financier / management guy...

The reason countries in africa are poor has little to do with their patent production... it has more to do with the lack of proper governance, institutions, laws, property rights, and other social factors that enable free markets, availability of credit, family planning, education and the necessary infrastructure spending / social safety net of a modern economy.... this is before we even get into the wars, political instability, post colonialism, etc.. Africa's issues have less to do with innovation (in the patents / technology sense of the word) and more to do with institutions, the law and governance... if you look at Asian countries that have come out of poverty you can see that their development was a result of things other than "innovation in the patents sense of the word".... but we're getting off topic.

Patents, technology, etc... are great... even better is basic research that the US and European governments generously support... a lot of these investments are the basis for the patents / technology that large corporations and small innovative ones commercialise for the benefit of society at large... you don't get this kind of basic research unless you have government institutions and a society / culture that supports his kind of investment... this has little to do with the inherent intelligence of the population, or their work ethic or moral values, rather it is an institutional support / allocation of resources to this sector... This doesn't take away from your individual success or achievements, you just don't sound like you know how an economy works.

Feb 22, 2012

I thought about writing a novel sized rebuttal. Not worth it.

However there is one thing that literally makes no sense to me.

if you look at Asian countries that have come out of poverty you can see that their development was a result of things other than "innovation in the patents sense of the word".... but we're getting off topic.

Nothing could be more wrong. The definition of a first world economy is most aptly defined as 25k/year per capita GDP (that seems like the right number, but adjust 5k/year either way if you like).

An example might be Korea. Here is a country that with a span of 50 years created Samsung, LG, Hyundai, Kia, Daewoo and countless other industrial companies that compete at the highest level against European, North American, & Japanese companies (and win market share). That requires innovation. That requires patents. And it certainly requires intelligence.

Samsung is about to overtake IBM as the company awarded the most patents annually. Let me phrase that differently. Samsung is about to get more patents than any single company on the entire planet. That's a big deal. It's a tremendous achievement.

To think that innovation hasn't been at the core of South Koreas development (when 50 years ago they were poorer than Mexico) is absolutely idiotic. Their government has created policies which have been extremely focused on economic and tech development!

Feb 22, 2012

we went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.

Feb 22, 2012

Ok. Now that PetEng has given up, let's just say for argument's sake that there's significant value in being able to do basic math and get to work on time. The world needs innovators and it needs people who can grind out math. It also needs people who can work with their hands.

Regardless, given that the planet is running out of resources and oil will one day be more expensive than gold, and that the "innovators" have not been able to get us off of oil for the past 40 years, none of this matters. Resources are a lot more important than innovation. Especially in our current market cycle of flat equities and increasing resource prices.

We would also be far and away the richest country in the world if we had twice as much farmland.

Feb 22, 2012

PetEng,

This is a real tangent. You're not getting my point and have attacked a position I have not made. I'm not arguing that technology isn't important for a modern economy, rather that you are missing the point that it is less relevant to employment of the lower quartile of your workforce education wise than the social and economic policies that your country runs (safety nets, retraining, etc...). An extra 10-20% in number of patents issued is less relevant than making sure people who are in dying industries can manage the transition and retrain for growing industries.

As to the stages of economic development, patents and such come after (as a by-product of) an economy that is industrialising and urbanising... I don't think you realise what stage of development that most African countries are in (or many Asian countries were in 40 years ago)... they can have so much more simply by relying on what we (the world) already know... You need prerequisites before you can start churning out Patents... You need an economic base, and educated workforce, markets & products to "innovate" and build on... etc.... Patents & innovation of this scale don't just pop out of nothing because a few smart guys are born and decide to carpe diem... you don't innovate or churn out that many patents in a vacuum.

"Samsung, LG, Hyundai, Kia, Daewoo and countless other industrial companies" didn't pop out of nowhere because of a few "innovative" Koreans came up with patents. They came about due to national industrial policies, etc... you are looking at the end product/where they are now and are saying they go to where they are because they have patents and are smart, not realising that they didn't need to reinvent the wheel to put the policies in place to get here.

i take it you are a collage student / science major and have a special attachment to technology an science. this is great and I envy your for it, but don't let it cloud your ability to understand how the world works, or how countries, economies and institutions develop over time.

The world doesn't revolve around reinventing the wheel every day. Bringing it back to the original topic, patents don't matter much for the bottom quartile of employment if this segment your workforce doesn't have the skills to contribute to commercialising these patents... this is what we're talking about when we point to the bottom quartile of the American labour force. These aren't people who will be employed directly in R&D...

    • 1
Feb 22, 2012

It's nothing new. Capitalism always creates superfluous labor, and within which poverty grows. In the old time, say, 19th century and early 20th century, this can be battled with the continuous growth of the American Empire. But this expansion ended eventually, and so ended the "American Dream".

Feb 22, 2012

Ok. Now that PetEng has given up.

What does that mean? Do you want me to do sentence by sentence rebuttals?

Feb 22, 2012

This is a real tangent. You're not getting my point and have attacked a position I have not made. I'm not arguing that technology isn't important for a modern economy, rather that you are missing the point that it is less relevant to employment of the lower quartile of your workforce education wise than the social and economic policies that your country runs (safety nets, retraining, etc...). An extra 10-20% in number of patents issued is less relevant than making sure people who are in dying industries can manage the transition and retrain for growing industries.

Why does a plumber make 50k/year in the US but only 5K/year in Mexico?

The skill differences aren't large (I would argue non-existent). Plumbers in the US are more productive because their customers are more productive. That's the value of the congnoscenti.

Working with your hands is an absolute dogshit skill in 50% of the world because their economies are fucking terrible and can't innovate worth shit.

i take it you are a collage student / science major and have a special attachment to technology an science. this is great and I envy your for it, but don't let it cloud your ability to understand how the world works, or how countries, economies and institutions develop over time.

I am a working professional. Not a student.

I have given a lot of thought about why certain countries are rich, and certain countries are poor. Mexico has had 50 years to advance from 2nd world to 1st world but they are unable to. They can't innovate. In the meantime South Korea, China, and, Singapore went from a far lower starting point and are now 1st world economies with blue chip companies.

Feb 22, 2012
PetEng:

The skill differences aren't large (I would argue non-existent). Plumbers in the US are more productive because their customers are more productive. That's the value of the congnoscenti.

Working with your hands is an absolute dogshit skill in 50% of the world because their economies are fucking terrible and can't innovate worth shit.

i take it you are a collage student / science major and have a special attachment to technology an science. this is great and I envy your for it, but don't let it cloud your ability to understand how the world works, or how countries, economies and institutions develop over time.

I am a working professional. Not a student.

I have given a lot of thought about why certain countries are rich, and certain countries are poor. Mexico has had 50 years to advance from 2nd world to 1st world but they are unable to. They can't innovate. In the meantime South Korea, China, and, Singapore went from a far lower starting point and are now 1st world economies with blue chip companies.

Apologies for the comment about you being a student. it was uncalled for on my part.

Productivity (revenue/income/value added per hour worked) has a lot of do with how much capital you have per worker... capital formation is key, and it doesn't have to be innovation-based... Barbers in Mexico have lower wages than barbers in London because the clients of London barbers are wealthier... they are wealthier because they are more productive, they are more productive because they are working with a lot more capital (money, plant and machinery, infrastructure, resources, technology, etc....). therefore London is wealthier than Mexico per capita.. It has a strong export base (financial services, business services, etc..) and has gone through a lot of capital formation over the decades (centuries).

I am more productive than my Indian counterpart, because I have so much more capital to work with, not because I am smarter. If anything, I'm pretty sure my Indian counterpart has more degrees than I do and probably a higher GMAT.

My argument is that it's not about technological innovation as much as it is about sorting out the conditions for capital formation and free markets... I think we're clear on one another's positions and actually seem to agree on a lot apart from how important technological innovation is in economic development. I don't think we'll convince one another on these points, or get much closer.

Feb 22, 2012

And the Liberals way of doing things has worked?

Feb 22, 2012
ANT:

And the Liberals way of doing things has worked?

You said that not me.

Feb 22, 2012

If you cannot take advantage of the freedom this country offers, the free K-12 education system, the low cost state university system with subsidized student loans, and all the other goodies that you get, OH WELL.

Feb 22, 2012

Consider this figure: 75 percent of America's 17- to 24-year-olds are ineligible for military service due to lack of education, obesity and other physical problems, or criminal history.

The overall situation of the so-called 99%, from money matters to social issues, has been plummeting, and it's only going to get worse.

I think ANT is right on this one, socialism or totalitarianism is inevitable.

Feb 22, 2012

Add on - How do you fix things when the biggest problem is people not being responsible. I mean inner city schools suck, but it isn't like these kids aren't showing up because they are working at age 12 to provide for the family. People are blowing off school because they don't care and their parents don't care.

Same thing with college. How do you stop people from maxing out loans, choosing expensive schools when they should choose cheap ones, studying something not in demand.

You could fix most of the poverty issues in this country if you could only control the people in this country.

Unless you control people you cannot stop bad decisions.

Feb 22, 2012
ANT:

if you could only control the people in this country.

.....where you going with this line of reasoning?

Feb 23, 2012
ANT:

Add on - How do you fix things when the biggest problem is people not being responsible. I mean inner city schools suck, but it isn't like these kids aren't showing up because they are working at age 12 to provide for the family. People are blowing off school because they don't care and their parents don't care.

Same thing with college. How do you stop people from maxing out loans, choosing expensive schools when they should choose cheap ones, studying something not in demand.

You could fix most of the poverty issues in this country if you could only control the people in this country.

Unless you control people you cannot stop bad decisions.

We don't even need to control them -- we just need to stop subsidizing their shitty decisions (as you point out in some of your other posts in this thread).

Feb 22, 2012

this is another one of those liberal bashing threads?

the most dangerous liberals i know are the ones in the GOP who call themselves conservatives.

    • 1
Feb 22, 2012

If you want to stop obesity you have to stop people from over eating, stop them from being lazy, stop them from eating bad things.

If you want kids to be smarter you need to stop them from skipping school, stop them from not studying, stop them from picking unprofitable majors.

If you want to stop poverty you need to stop people from having children at young ages, stop them from over spending, stop them from making bad work decisions.

You can bring a horse to water, but unless you control that horse you cannot force it to drink.

Feb 22, 2012
ANT:

You can bring a horse to water, but unless you control that horse you cannot force it to drink.

So you don't think people can be reached through reason?

Feb 25, 2012
ANT:

If you want to stop obesity you have to stop people from over eating, stop them from being lazy, stop them from eating bad things.

If you want kids to be smarter you need to stop them from skipping school, stop them from not studying, stop them from picking unprofitable majors.

If you want to stop poverty you need to stop people from having children at young ages, stop them from over spending, stop them from making bad work decisions.

You can bring a horse to water, but unless you control that horse you cannot force it to drink.

There are many ways to "control" a horse. For the obesity problem, it's essential to regulate the food industry while introducing mandatory sport classes in schools.

Feb 22, 2012

Reached through reason? I mean not going to school leads to poverty, yet people still blow off high school and their parents still don't make them go.

Being overweight leads to heart disease and a host of other things, yet people still eat pounds of cheesecake.

Reason helps very few people.

Listen, I am 100% cool with letting people be free, but that means I don't care when they ruin their lives. If you want to have a nanny state, really help people. And you do that from making decisions for them and forcing them to comply.

Feb 22, 2012

So you don't think people can be reached through reason?

Not the garbage of society.

Feb 22, 2012

There is a much more merciful solution.

Pay people to get vasectomies.

Offer $5K, a keg of bud light, and some "magic brownies."

Done and done.

Feb 23, 2012
IlliniProgrammer:

There is a much more merciful solution.

Pay people to get vasectomies.

I actually think this would help a large amount. The type of person who values a few thousand $ over a family probably would be a terrible parent anyways. However, birth rates are already very low, so I am not sure how you would counterbalance the impact- perhaps other incentives, or allow more highly educated workers to immigrate?

ANT:

Add on - How do you fix things when the biggest problem is people not being responsible. I mean inner city schools suck, but it isn't like these kids aren't showing up because they are working at age 12 to provide for the family. People are blowing off school because they don't care and their parents don't care.

Same thing with college. How do you stop people from maxing out loans, choosing expensive schools when they should choose cheap ones, studying something not in demand.

You could fix most of the poverty issues in this country if you could only control the people in this country.

Unless you control people you cannot stop bad decisions.

What you are saying is very true. I think we are seeing this to some degree at the corporate level. We are moving closer to a state-capitalism model. Corporations do not want to take responsibility for their choices, and instead demand corporate welfare.

I remember this article: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/0...
I feel bad for the woman there. She has had a rough life, and it doesn't look like it is getting any easier. But she made the mess herself- she got pregnant while in high school. The system was working for her; she was going to go to college. But how can any monolithic government fight personal irresponsibility? Ultimately, I think the change has to occur within our value system.

Charles Murray pointed out those McGuffey Readers from the early part of the century. I am not a cultural imperialist by any means, but would it be so bad to "indoctrinate" schoolchildren with pro-social values? We already have pushed diversity and sensitivity into the classroom; why not responsibility, work ethic, and the importance of family? If parents are not teaching their children these values, somebody must; otherwise social decay snowballs.

Feb 22, 2012

I'd say that no more than 10 - 15% of people can be persuaded to do things through reason and rational argument. I'm probably being generous.

Feb 22, 2012
TheKing:

I'd say that no more than 10 - 15% of people can be persuaded to do things through reason and rational argument. I'm probably being generous.

And this is the crux of the vast majority of our problems.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Feb 22, 2012

IP has a great idea and I would support it. And the King is correct. You need the carrot and the stick. The stick gets better results.

Feb 22, 2012

IP, it's a great idea, one such program exists where drug addicts paid to be on birth control/sterilized.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Prevention
But the left is shitting the bed about it (surprise surprise)

Feb 22, 2012

Barbers in Mexico have lower wages than barbers in London because the clients of London barbers are wealthier... they are wealthier because they are more productive, they are more productive because they are working with a lot more capital (money, plant and machinery, infrastructure, resources, technology, etc....). therefore London is wealthier than Mexico per capita.. It has a strong export base (financial services, business services, etc..) and has gone through a lot of capital formation over the decades (centuries).

Why was South Korea able to become 1st world while Mexico (or any South American country) hasn't been? Despite - literally - every single country in Central and South America having a higher standard of living as compared to South Korea in 1950?

Feb 22, 2012

I think South Korea had a lot of advantages during that period compared to most South American countries.
- Stable government: So many South American countries had political turbulence, coups, wars, etc... Think Chile, Brazil, etc... I think this is a big factor. The historical, social, ethnic and ideological contexts to these societies is very different from the stability you find in South Korea.
- Strategic Location: As South Korea industrialised this allowed for certain industries like shipping, Logistics, etc.. to develop.
- Workforce: Low cost, able and educated workforce.
- Stable currency / financial management: This is related to the politics situation, but several South American countries had horrible experiments with financial crises, financial mismanagement at a policy level (think Chile in the 70s), etc...

Countries like Brazil seem to experience decent progress towards industrialisation for the short period where they get their act together politically and have proper policy...

This political/financial stability and consistency in economic/social development policy South Korea helped them transition from an initial policy of low cost outsourcing, to shipping, autos, etc... into finally high tech, etc.. The jump to tech was a big one (I suppose this the one where most innovation had to/continues to occur)... My point is that they were able to get to this stage to benefit from "innovation/patent production/high tech" because they had the prerequisites (Stable government, educated labour, social cohesion, stable currency/financial management and proper policy) and had already developed to a relatively industrialised state.

I could probably have been more concise. I'm not sure if I'm articulating my point as clearly as I want.

Feb 22, 2012

I just discovered this thread and I gotta say

ANT SPEAKS THE MOTHERFUCKING TRUTH. PERIOD.

I just read the whole thread and too many of you are living insulated lives in Greenwich, CT or something. Someone said that 40% of the US can do calculus - ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME??? 90% of the US couldn't tell you what calculus is much less do it. Never underestimate the stupidity of Joe Blow.

Also, I agree with ANT - the inmates have taken over the asylum. We now have 50% of the American public paying ZERO taxes and 30% on some entitlement program. They are now the majority. And once you give them a taste of that fruit they don't give it back. We have to be very careful about what our country is becoming. We are getting dumber, less sophisticated and now voting in people that reflect those values.

WSO is a unique place. Do not allow yourself for a second to believe that this is a reflection on greater America. We live in a country where Kim kardashian is famous for being famous - we are slowly evolving into nothing. You guys need to get your heads out of your collective asses and wake the fuck up.

Feb 22, 2012
GentlemanJack:

I just discovered this thread and I gotta say

ANT SPEAKS THE MOTHERFUCKING TRUTH. PERIOD.

I just read the whole thread and too many of you are living insulated lives in Greenwich, CT or something. Someone said that 40% of the US can do calculus - ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME??? 90% of the US couldn't tell you what calculus is much less do it. Never underestimate the stupidity of Joe Blow.

Also, I agree with ANT - the inmates have taken over the asylum. We now have 50% of the American public paying ZERO taxes and 30% on some entitlement program. They are now the majority. And once you give them a taste of that fruit they don't give it back. We have to be very careful about what our country is becoming. We are getting dumber, less sophisticated and now voting in people that reflect those values.

WSO is a unique place. Do not allow yourself for a second to believe that this is a reflection on greater America. We live in a country where Kim kardashian is famous for being famous - we are slowly evolving into nothing. You guys need to get your heads out of your collective asses and wake the fuck up.

Amen brother.

Feb 23, 2012

We are forgetting about the eradication of productivity vis-a-vis NEPOTISM.

Our prosperity has perpetuated our laziness. My school is full of trust-fund babies who have ZERO incentive to learn or be productive (apart from spending their money) and will be handed 6-figure salaries upon graduation with their C averages. I worked my way through most of college, have GPA > 3.8, have a mathematics paper under publication review from a respected journal, and am struggling to get a finance internship (interview nonetheless). I really question the existence of the meritocracy WSO members opine all over this forum.

It is true that "the inmates have taken over the asylum," but the mediocrity and stupidity is permeated throughout the upper-classes as well. Upper-class, entitled graduates that contribute so little in value-added and yet claim taxes penalize the prosperity they "worked" so hard for.

Feb 25, 2012
Hfhopeful:

We are forgetting about the eradication of productivity vis-a-vis NEPOTISM.

Our prosperity has perpetuated our laziness. My school is full of trust-fund babies who have ZERO incentive to learn or be productive (apart from spending their money) and will be handed 6-figure salaries upon graduation with their C averages. I worked my way through most of college, have GPA > 3.8, have a mathematics paper under publication review from a respected journal, and am struggling to get a finance internship (interview nonetheless). I really question the existence of the meritocracy WSO members opine all over this forum.

It is true that "the inmates have taken over the asylum," but the mediocrity and stupidity is permeated throughout the upper-classes as well. Upper-class, entitled graduates that contribute so little in value-added and yet claim taxes penalize the prosperity they "worked" so hard for.

Raise the estate tax and remove the tax-free prestige of some trusts or funds and you solve the problem, at least part of it.

Feb 23, 2012

^ Don't worry about what others are doing.

Do you. And keep going.

Feb 23, 2012

GentlemanJack, while I agree with you, I believe Illini was referring to the mental capacity of 40% of the people to do calculus i.e. they could be taught, and one day they would be able to do it.

The level of entitlement in our society sickens me. If you can't make it in America, you can't make it anywhere. People complaining about social inequality should compare the US to other capitalist countries (no, EU countries do not count). In the third world Asian country that my Dad emigrated from, you have to do everything right from the moment you are born. You have to attend private schools for which you have to take a test similar to the SAT (because the govt. only provides free education until the 5th Grade), be in the top 10%; then take a test that makes the SAT look like pre-school stuff (I got a 1600/1600 on my SAT, and couldn't solve 20% of the problems) to enroll at a State University (there Private Colleges are dog-shit, and State Schools are the best), and again be in the top 10% to get into a decent MS program (there, almost everyone has Grad Degrees), and again be in the top 10% to finally land a decent job.

Contrast that with America, the land of a million chances. Free K-12 education. Free healthcare/food for the absolute destitute (in a third world country, you would simply die off, and no one would know that you ever even existed). Need based scholarships at the best Universities for the intelligent and cheap State Schools for others. Here, if you flunk out of High School, get a GED. Just barely passed High School (this was the case for me, I had a 2.3 GPA)? Get into a Dog-shit State School, get a 4.0, and transfer out. Oh, what's that, didn't know about the transfer process? Get a Masters from a good School.

There is just so much entitlement...

IMO, the chief problem in this country is acting like all humans are born with the same abilities, and everyone deserves a 6-figure salary upon graduating Bumfuck University, and majoring in Sociology.

This problem can be further distilled into asymmetry of information. For instance, people still think that studying "Gender & Sexuality" at a 4th Tier University and graduating with a 2.8 GPA is the road to riches. The sooner people get injected with an icy dose of reality, the sooner we'll be able to start fixing shit in this country.

Feb 23, 2012
Leonidas:

IMO, the chief problem in this country is acting like all humans are born with the same abilities, and everyone deserves a 6-figure salary upon graduating Bumfuck University, and majoring in Sociology.

We certainly agree on this. We definitely feel too entitled in this country and that everyone is a "special & unique snowflake". We coddle our kids too much and the end result of all of this is that America is becoming less & less competitive. I don't just mean that internationally, I mean that within our own borders.

Capitalism thrives on competition because it drives innovation. But Americans are being bred to NOT compete - there are no losers, everyone gets a trophy and a hug. I fucking hate that. Capitalism is what made America great and what can make America great again. You take away competition, you take away the notion that some people will be richer than others and what do you have left??? Obama & socialism - and that's where we're at.

I know this is going to make me sound like an asshole, but kids today need to learn how to lose, how to come back from adversity, how to deal with bullies. These are all valuable life skills and we're just giving them away.

Feb 23, 2012

"IMO, the chief problem in this country is acting like all humans are born with the same abilities, and everyone deserves a 6-figure salary upon graduating Bumfuck University, and majoring in Sociology."

I think this line of thinking is the biggest bullshit argument in politics today. It's simply not true on a large scale.

Feb 23, 2012

I agree with some of the assessments of the problems, but I really take issue with the solutions: trying to 'control' people is just a mistake, especially in this country. The justice system picks up the worst, but I'm thinking that just leading by example is the best place to start....when people WANT to do something, nothing can stop them. When they're being beaten and whipped in one direction or another, they may tolerate it for a while, but ultimately they will rebel. People think the militias out west are nuts, but they're training for exactly this sort of thing.

Look at the Arab Spring: (1) the people doing the controlling only had thier interests in mind and (2) it's not possible to sustain (3) and why would you want to? do you honestly think you'll be in the ruling clique?

Ford supported a fascist movement here, and there have been numerous attempts, but America is simply too big and too diverse to control beyond a very rudimentary level.

Feb 23, 2012
UFOinsider:

I agree with some of the assessments of the problems, but I really take issue with the solutions: trying to 'control' people is just a mistake, especially in this country. The justice system picks up the worst, but I'm thinking that just leading by example is the best place to start....when people WANT to do something, nothing can stop them. When they're being beaten and whipped in one direction or another, they may tolerate it for a while, but ultimately they will rebel. People think the militias out west are nuts, but they're training for exactly this sort of thing.

I don't think anyone is proposing solutions that involve controlling people. If anything, it's about letting them go of the gov entitlement programs and let them fend for themselves. We need to have people take more responsibility for their actions - there's nothing controlling about that.

Feb 23, 2012
GentlemanJack:
UFOinsider:

I agree with some of the assessments of the problems, but I really take issue with the solutions: trying to 'control' people is just a mistake, especially in this country. The justice system picks up the worst, but I'm thinking that just leading by example is the best place to start....when people WANT to do something, nothing can stop them. When they're being beaten and whipped in one direction or another, they may tolerate it for a while, but ultimately they will rebel. People think the militias out west are nuts, but they're training for exactly this sort of thing.

I don't think anyone is proposing solutions that involve controlling people. If anything, it's about letting them go of the gov entitlement programs and let them fend for themselves. We need to have people take more responsibility for their actions - there's nothing controlling about that.

I think I skipped a beat and misinterpreted something in the earlier posts

Feb 23, 2012

I am saying we should 100% control people. That should be clear. We either control them or we allow people to fail without government intervention. Gut the safety nets.

When a parent buys you a car, do they take it away when you do bad? Do they have conditions, such as good grades, no drugs, whatever? Why should we give money (entitlements) without strings attached.

I'm sorry, but this idea that throwing money at the problem will change anything is comical. A lot of the issues with crime ridden areas are a break down of society. Single mother households, no supervision, no respect for the law, low school attendance, etc. All of these are personal decisions.

Feb 23, 2012

ANT, I don't think a dictatorship is necessary. We should simply get rid of welfare. We still shouldn't let people starve to death, but that should be the extent of our kindness.

Feb 23, 2012
Leonidas:

ANT, I don't think a dictatorship is necessary. We should simply get rid of welfare. We still shouldn't let people starve to death, but that should be the extent of our kindness.

I completely agree with you and I do not want a dictatorship either. But in order to secure freedom we must allow some to fail.

Feb 23, 2012
ANT:
Leonidas:

ANT, I don't think a dictatorship is necessary. We should simply get rid of welfare. We still shouldn't let people starve to death, but that should be the extent of our kindness.

I completely agree with you and I do not want a dictatorship either. But in order to secure freedom we must allow some to fail.

I agree with that. The problem is that we're such a nanny state where no one is allowed to fail. Everyone gets a trophy, everyone gets a 2000 sq ft house, prisoners deserve rehabilitation, etc, etc, etc. It would be such a drastic change from the status quo that I can't even imagine how to go about it.

Feb 23, 2012

We are hardly a nanny state compared to Europe.

We can have both a nanny state and a libertarian state- but the catch is that we need to find an ethical and moral way to keep the nannied population from growing exponentially.

Feb 23, 2012
IlliniProgrammer:

We are hardly a nanny state compared to Europe.

We can have both a nanny state and a libertarian state- but the catch is that we need to find an ethical and moral way to keep the nannied population from growing exponentially.

Why don't you get one of your 40% to calculate that exponential curve for us, genius . . .

You & Obama.They don't make them too smart in Illinois, do they?

    • 1
Feb 23, 2012
GentlemanJack:
IlliniProgrammer:

We are hardly a nanny state compared to Europe.

We can have both a nanny state and a libertarian state- but the catch is that we need to find an ethical and moral way to keep the nannied population from growing exponentially.

Why don't you get one of your 40% to calculate that exponential curve for us, genius . . .

You & Obama.They don't make them too smart in Illinois, do they?

Whoa there tough guy.

    • 1
Feb 23, 2012
GentlemanJack:
IlliniProgrammer:

We are hardly a nanny state compared to Europe.

We can have both a nanny state and a libertarian state- but the catch is that we need to find an ethical and moral way to keep the nannied population from growing exponentially.

Why don't you get one of your 40% to calculate that exponential curve for us, genius . . .

You & Obama.They don't make them too smart in Illinois, do they?

WTF, go take a walk and settle yourself.

Feb 23, 2012
GentlemanJack:

Why don't you get one of your 40% to calculate that exponential curve for us, genius . . .

You & Obama.They don't make them too smart in Illinois, do they?

Can anyone here tell me what 1.0^nth is? Apparently, you must be part of the 60%.

If we limit nannied people to two children- or pay them to get vasectomies, we don't have exponential growth by the poor. We can maintain a stable relationship between the population of rich people and poor people.

Feb 23, 2012
IlliniProgrammer:

We are hardly a nanny state compared to Europe.

Would you agree that's kinda like saying, "I am hardly short compared to Danny DeVito"?

Feb 23, 2012

Guys... totalitarianism/fascism is not the solution.. it has been shown throughout history to be very inflexible, resistant to change and ends up breaking down spectacularly when people rise up and gain critical mass (civil war, complete destruction of society, rampant corruption, etc...)

Reading the posts on WSO, it doesn't seem like you guys are political enough to benefit form totalitarianism.. Its very likely that you will be the kind of guys to suffer under such a regime.

Feb 23, 2012

Reading the posts on WSO, it doesn't seem like you guys are political enough to benefit form totalitarianism.. Its very likely that you will be the kind of guys to suffer under such a regime.

I'll venture a little further than that. Most totalitarian regimes have gone after the prior elites:

-German Jews
-Russian Bourgeoisie
-Chinese teachers and academics (Cultural revolution)

Totalitarianism is generally a REACTION to those perceived as being in power. If/when we become totalitarian, who do you think those people are? Even if we go fascist, who do you think they'll go after?

HINT: Who is seen by the country as gaining wealth/power at the expense of middle-class voters?

Feb 25, 2012
IlliniProgrammer:

Reading the posts on WSO, it doesn't seem like you guys are political enough to benefit form totalitarianism.. Its very likely that you will be the kind of guys to suffer under such a regime.

I'll venture a little further than that. Most totalitarian regimes have gone after the prior elites:

-German Jews
-Russian Bourgeoisie
-Chinese teachers and academics (Cultural revolution)

Totalitarianism is generally a REACTION to those perceived as being in power. If/when we become totalitarian, who do you think those people are? Even if we go fascist, who do you think they'll go after?

HINT: Who is seen by the country as gaining wealth/power at the expense of middle-class voters?

I must disagree you with this, as the Culture Revolutions mainly targeted at the bureaucrats, who, as you said, were in power.

Feb 23, 2012

I disagree that the the morality decline is a result of poverty, but the opposite is probably true. When the morality was more Quaker/Protestant you lived a moral, hard-working life. you wouldn't do crack, bankruptcy was anathema, welfare was temporary, etc. Your morals preclude you from being in poverty due to laziness and poverty is more a result of other, uncontrollable problems. Furthermore, morality precludes you from going out and being a drug addict(on some level), selling drugs, being an alcoholic, having a ton of kids, etc. All of which are huge causes of poverty. Then there is a sense of inescapability that leads to a loss of morality in poverty, but I would rather think that morality decline is the genesis rather than the result of poverty.

Reality hits you hard, bro...

Feb 23, 2012
MMBinNC:

I disagree that the the morality decline is a result of poverty, but the opposite is probably true. When the morality was more Quaker/Protestant you lived a moral, hard-working life. you wouldn't do crack, bankruptcy was anathema, welfare was temporary, etc. Your morals preclude you from being in poverty due to laziness and poverty is more a result of other, uncontrollable problems. Furthermore, morality precludes you from going out and being a drug addict(on some level), selling drugs, being an alcoholic, having a ton of kids, etc. All of which are huge causes of poverty. Then there is a sense of inescapability that leads to a loss of morality in poverty, but I would rather think that morality decline is the genesis rather than the result of poverty.

Be specific about the time frame you are talking about, rather than just speaking in generalizations of "quaker/protestant" morality. I tend to think that this perspective is little more than a Pleasantville-esque derangement of the modern GOP's vision of America.

You can have the quaker work ethic and a small family and still get screwed due to economic crisis, outsourcing of entire industries, and modernization in manufacturing.

Feb 23, 2012
TheKing:
MMBinNC:

I disagree that the the morality decline is a result of poverty, but the opposite is probably true. When the morality was more Quaker/Protestant you lived a moral, hard-working life. you wouldn't do crack, bankruptcy was anathema, welfare was temporary, etc. Your morals preclude you from being in poverty due to laziness and poverty is more a result of other, uncontrollable problems. Furthermore, morality precludes you from going out and being a drug addict(on some level), selling drugs, being an alcoholic, having a ton of kids, etc. All of which are huge causes of poverty. Then there is a sense of inescapability that leads to a loss of morality in poverty, but I would rather think that morality decline is the genesis rather than the result of poverty.

Be specific about the time frame you are talking about, rather than just speaking in generalizations of "quaker/protestant" morality. I tend to think that this perspective is little more than a Pleasantville-esque derangement of the modern GOP's vision of America.

You can have the quaker work ethic and a small family and still get screwed due to economic crisis, outsourcing of entire industries, and modernization in manufacturing.

I agree with the last statement. I tried to say that in my explanation, but maybe it didn't come across. It is impossible and harmful to say that every poor person is poor because they are lazy and stupid. It's hard to lift yourself out of poverty once it occurs, but I think that morality is a positive for getting out of poverty because it incentivizes hard work and honesty.

Reality hits you hard, bro...

Feb 23, 2012

Mormons seem to be doing alright.

Feb 23, 2012

bankruptcy is a good thing...

Feb 23, 2012

Morality/responsibility/integrity/work ethic dies with socialism and left wing views in general.

Are you a stupid whore? Did you have sex when you shouldn't have? Then get an abortion and kill your unborn child which you voluntarily brought into this world by having unprotected sex.

Are you a dumb fucking retard? Have you maxed out three credit cards by buying dumb stuff on your dogshit 30k/yr salary? Did you default on your big ass house you can't afford and want to blame someone else for it? Do you have zero responsibility or awareness of how your actions affect the people around you? Are you barely smart enough to dress yourself? Then vote Democrat and recieve HURP DURP FREE MONIES from the government (i.e. taken from responsible hardworking people who pay taxes). Anything else would be UNFAIR to the poor and unfortunate who simply HAPPEN to be poor because of EXPLOITATION from the rich...

Republicans/the right have their issues too but is fucking GREECE not enough to show you what happens when you live a life of entitlement and irresponsibility?

Feb 23, 2012
FusRoDah:

Morality/responsibility/integrity/work ethic dies with socialism and left wing views in general.

Are you a stupid whore? Did you have sex when you shouldn't have? Then get an abortion and kill your unborn child which you voluntarily brought into this world by having unprotected sex.

Are you a dumb fucking retard? Have you maxed out three credit cards by buying dumb stuff on your dogshit 30k/yr salary? Did you default on your big ass house you can't afford and want to blame someone else for it? Do you have zero responsibility or awareness of how your actions affect the people around you? Are you barely smart enough to dress yourself? Then vote Democrat and recieve HURP DURP FREE MONIES from the government (i.e. taken from responsible hardworking people who pay taxes). Anything else would be UNFAIR to the poor and unfortunate who simply HAPPEN to be poor because of EXPLOITATION from the rich...

Republicans/the right have their issues too but is fucking GREECE not enough to show you what happens when you live a life of entitlement and irresponsibility?

Troll, this isn't the comment section on Politico.

Like it or not, a fuck ton of people receiving government benefits are far right republicans living in deep red states. They scream and yell about lazy people and needing to cut benefits while simultaneously taking them and living off the government. A large part of our nation is suffering from extreme cognitive dissonance, and people with oversimplified black and white viewpoints like yourself only make things worse.

Feb 23, 2012
Relinquis:

Guys... totalitarianism/fascism is not the solution.. it has been shown throughout history to be very inflexible, resistant to change and ends up breaking down spectacularly when people rise up and gain critical mass (civil war, complete destruction of society, rampant corruption, etc...)

Reading the posts on WSO, it doesn't seem like you guys are political enough to benefit form totalitarianism.. Its very likely that you will be the kind of guys to suffer under such a regime.

This. I mean really guys? You want a totalitarian state? You can't have selective totalitarianism; the poor cannot be controlled while the rich roam free. Doesn't work like that.

FusRoDah:

Morality/responsibility/integrity/work ethic dies with socialism and left wing views in general.

Are you a stupid whore? Did you have sex when you shouldn't have? Then get an abortion and kill your unborn child which you voluntarily brought into this world by having unprotected sex.

I assume you're a social conservative, that's awesome. Now please never involve yourself in politics as social conservatives are the problem with the modern GOP. Oh and FYI, there are non-voluntary ways to get pregnant. Abortion should not be an issue with America's current economic state.

FusRoDah:

Are you a dumb fucking retard? Have you maxed out three credit cards by buying dumb stuff on your dogshit 30k/yr salary? Did you default on your big ass house you can't afford and want to blame someone else for it? Do you have zero responsibility or awareness of how your actions affect the people around you? Are you barely smart enough to dress yourself? Then vote Democrat and recieve HURP DURP FREE MONIES from the government (i.e. taken from responsible hardworking people who pay taxes). Anything else would be UNFAIR to the poor and unfortunate who simply HAPPEN to be poor because of EXPLOITATION from the rich...

Republicans/the right have their issues too but is fucking GREECE not enough to show you what happens when you live a life of entitlement and irresponsibility?

Greece is a clusterfuck. Every time I see clips on the news showing people rioting in the streets I feel sick. It's not the same as seeing Egypt, Libya, or Syria where there is legitimate cause for uprising - I mean for fuck's sake, the last time I saw the Greek riots there were a bunch of 20-somethings throwing chairs through the windows of a Starbucks (which was also on fire). What a fucking mess.

With that said, I'm glad you noted that the Republican party has their own issues, because they most definitely do. Once they lose the fucking moral obsession (oh hey, GOP frontrunner Rick Santorum) then maybe we can get around to finding solutions. Until then, our political system will royally fuck us over.

ALSO, why hasn't anyone mentioned the current birth control debate? THIS IS A FUCKING AWESOME SOLUTION ON THE PART OF DEMOCRATS. Make birth control available to anyone, including the poor. ANT wants vasectomies, a great solution that is clearly not about to happen, so why can't we take the next best thing? I realize that it's a burden to pay for (and insurance companies are throwing a fit), but the benefit would be tremendous for many, many people.

Feb 23, 2012

Listen, I am against dirt poor hillbilly Republicans just as much as I am against inner city bums.

Feb 24, 2012

What do you guys think of corporate welfare? the fact that your government taxes you to pay big corporations in nearly every large industry?

I don't see much anger about this... I wonder why?

Feb 24, 2012

Relinquis, I think we all agree that any kind of welfare is wrong. I think that the Banks should have been allowed to fail. However, let us not forget that if that scenario did arise, it would have been a catastrophe of epic proportions.

Personally, I think that we should just re-instate Glass-Steagall, so that when Investment Banks go bankrupt, they do not crater the economy.

Feb 24, 2012

We can't be idealistic libertarians one moment and pragmatic ones the next.

Remember that when millions of families and children get taken off of welfare, it is a great human tragedy as well. Just as bad as a banking collapse for bankers and the middle-class.

If we need to cut welfare, we need to cut bank bailouts and corporate welfare, too.

Feb 24, 2012
IlliniProgrammer:

If we need to cut welfare, we need to cut bank bailouts and corporate welfare, too.

Absolutely. For whatever it's worth, most people I know who want to cut welfare do not want to do it overnight. Even Milton Friedman himself wanted to phase out welfare (and many other social programs) over a 5 to 10 year period.

Feb 24, 2012
econ:
IlliniProgrammer:

If we need to cut welfare, we need to cut bank bailouts and corporate welfare, too.

Absolutely. For whatever it's worth, most people I know who want to cut welfare do not want to do it overnight. Even Milton Friedman himself wanted to phase out welfare (and many other social programs) over a 5 to 10 year period.

Bullshit. Sink or swim bitches!

:)

Feb 24, 2012

Leonidas, it's not just banks that receive corporate welfare...

I don't agree that any kind of welfare is wrong... without a social safety net for people who lose their jobs, fall ill, etc... you would not have a modern economy and would have to rely on the kindness/charity of strangers if you face a setback early in life...

Glass-Steagall would be nice.

Feb 24, 2012

Just swim with the current.

America is not in decline. It is going through a transformation, as an entirely different culture of people are immigrating here.

People are just trying to profit off of scaring people. We were going into decline in the 80s when the crack epidemic hit. We were going into decline in the 60s when the hippies showed up. We were going into decline during the great depression and after the civil war. Give me a break. The nature of America is that it is elastic and will always snap back as long as people believe in it.

The liberal/conservative argument is bullshit. If you go far enough in either direction you end up on the other side.

Ignore the religious fear mongering. It is a form of mental terrorism. Most of its political. Religion is for sheep and we all end up in the same place.

If anything everyone has to come together and find some basic principles that we all can agree on and no one can argue with.

I would start with:

Don't lie.
Don't steal.
Don't kill.
Don't enforce your beliefs on other people.
Have lots of sex.
Make money.

I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself.

Feb 24, 2012
W845:

If anything everyone has to come together and find some basic principles that we all can agree on and no one can argue with.

Is this before or after we all hold hands, stand in a circle and sing kumbaya together?

Gimme a break, get your head out of your ass.

Mar 2, 2012
W845:

The liberal/conservative argument is bullshit. If you go far enough in either direction you end up on the other side.

LOL YES, a lot of Ron Paul fans don't realize they're agreeing to the same stuff Bill Maher is saying on a LOT of stuff. Extremist = extremist, regardless of their "philosophy". The philosophy thing makes me laugh, like any of the people in the media have actually sat and read the full texts of the stuff they claim to be quoting....I have, and I've also studied the historical context, and they're totally off base. Thomas Paine, and the rest are a very different crew than currently depicted in the news.

Feb 24, 2012

I should clarify my position. I hate bumfuck inbred republicans just as much as I hate most democrats.

I'm more pro-responsibility than I am anti-abortion or a social conservative. You made your fucking (literally and figuratively) choice, you chose to conceive a child, so deal with the consequences. You have no right to kill the child you chose to create. "It's my body", yeah fuck off you dumb cunt. Your body, not the child's.

That being said I'm also realistic and know abortion will always be legal so it's not a voting issue for me. And as far as "non consenting ways" to get pregnant, what's the probability of that happening? Like 2% or less of all pregnancies? Of course I'm pro abortion in that position. And pro-birth control, sure.

And Rick Santorum is a fucking nutjob, I'd rather have Obama back than him. This is coming from a Catholic with 13 years of private Catholic school under his belt.

About Greeks throwing stuff through starbucks windows, remember when the British did that a while back? Those riots? You know serious changes are happening when the nation that had the biggest empire the world has ever seen just a century ago gave birth to a bunch of "chavs" rioting because their benefits got cut by their overload nanny watchdog police state government.

Feb 25, 2012
FusRoDah:

I should clarify my position. I hate bumfuck inbred republicans just as much as I hate most democrats.

I'm more pro-responsibility than I am anti-abortion or a social conservative. You made your fucking (literally and figuratively) choice, you chose to conceive a child, so deal with the consequences. You have no right to kill the child you chose to create. "It's my body", yeah fuck off you dumb cunt. Your body, not the child's.

That being said I'm also realistic and know abortion will always be legal so it's not a voting issue for me. And as far as "non consenting ways" to get pregnant, what's the probability of that happening? Like 2% or less of all pregnancies? Of course I'm pro abortion in that position. And pro-birth control, sure.

I'm tired of people defending fetuses as if they're a part of society already. If they haven't seen the light of day, it's not murder. A woman getting an abortion is no different than a woman removing a kidney and throwing it in the trash, preventing its use for someone with kidney failure who needs a donor - in fact, I'd argue that the kidney situation is much more deplorable than an abortion. Does abortion prevent a life from existing among us? Absolutely. But that's opportunity cost, not real cost. It's a shame that this is the situation that everyone chooses to waste their opportunity cost awareness on, because there are many other things that impact us directly, every day, worth fighting for.

Regarding pro-responsibility, I'd argue that in many cases, such as when a woman cannot possibly afford another child, abortion is the responsible decision for 1) the mother 2) any other children she has who would lose already scarce resources with the coming of another child and 3) the fetus who would become a child in such terrible living conditions. National Geographic had a great article on this a couple issues ago - devastating story with the criteria that I l just listed. Definitely put things into perspective for me.

FusRoDah:

And Rick Santorum is a fucking nutjob, I'd rather have Obama back than him. This is coming from a Catholic with 13 years of private Catholic school under his belt.

I'm so glad you said this. Couldn't agree more - I too went to a Catholic school for a large portion of my life (although I'm no longer a practicing Catholic) and I think Rick Santorum is a disgrace to much of modern Catholicism.

FusRoDah:

About Greeks throwing stuff through starbucks windows, remember when the British did that a while back? Those riots? You know serious changes are happening when the nation that had the biggest empire the world has ever seen just a century ago gave birth to a bunch of "chavs" rioting because their benefits got cut by their overload nanny watchdog police state government.

I meant to mention the UK riots because they too were appalling. While I want to blame the chavs (and the Greeks) for their irresponsibility and savageness, I simply can't. Welfare is no better than a morphine addiction - after a while, no matter how much you want to stop, you keep doing it to remain alive. Therefore the government, the dispenser of the drug and thus the cause of the addiction, is to blame.

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Feb 25, 2012

A couple things.

  1. It's impossible to know how many abortions are related to rape/incest because the majority of rapes go unreported.
  2. You won't, nor should you, be taken seriously if you can't have a discussion without referring to women as "whores" and "cunts". It's extremely offensive and makes you look misogynistic.

If you expect a dog to bite you you'll be happy when al they do is pee on your shoes.

Feb 25, 2012
fruit loops:

A couple things.

  1. It's impossible to know how many abortions are related to rape/incest because the majority of rapes go unreported.
  2. You won't, nor should you, be taken seriously if you can't have a discussion without referring to women as "whores" and "cunts". It's extremely offensive and makes you look misogynistic.

jesus someone used offensive language in their argument, lets all have our periods about it.

the guy has some very valid points

Feb 25, 2012
leveredarb:
fruit loops:

A couple things.

  1. It's impossible to know how many abortions are related to rape/incest because the majority of rapes go unreported.
  2. You won't, nor should you, be taken seriously if you can't have a discussion without referring to women as "whores" and "cunts". It's extremely offensive and makes you look misogynistic.

jesus someone used offensive language in their argument, lets all have our periods about it.

the guy has some very valid points

No, not really. All I've seen is women shouldn't be allowed to have abortions because apparently they deserve to be punished for unprotected sex.

Would you be saying the same if he'd used racial slurs?

If you expect a dog to bite you you'll be happy when al they do is pee on your shoes.

Feb 25, 2012

You guys are too defensive and intractable about your beliefs. Every generation has a propensity to forget what happened before they graced the earth. Just look at wall street. Every 10 years or so some new problem arises that should have been seen coming.

But WSO is the incubator for the next great philosophers of the world. Forget Socrates, Descartes, and all those losers. The answers are all OBVIOUS here. Just like Gene Marks has the solution for poor black kids living in a vacuum: http://www.forbes.com/sites/quickerbettertech/2011...

Feb 25, 2012

Was sitting in a barbershop today in not the best part of town. There were several African american women there, and one was commenting that the other should have stayed in Massachusetts because the healthcare was cheaper there. Another lady was talking about politics, specifically Romney, and said that "there's just poor and rich now."

It's that mentality that kills me. If you don't like where you are at, then go back to school, work odd jobs, start wheeling and dealing, whatever. But don't blame "someone else" for your problems. If someone else worked their butt off to get into a top school, get great grades, and follow the "correct" path, does that mean you are automatically entitled to their standard of living? Hell no.

Feb 25, 2012

Didn't you guys hear the speech at Osawatomie? Obama understands the issues at play here and will invest in our infrastructure and human capital to bring back the middle class. This is why we need to make sure the Democrats regain the House!

Feb 25, 2012
ProvincialPeasant:

Didn't you guys hear the speech at Osawatomie? Obama understands the issues at play here and will invest in our infrastructure and human capital to bring back the middle class. This is why we need to make sure the Democrats regain the House!

And how is he going to do that?

Feb 26, 2012

I just found this thread, WOW!

Ant and Gentleman Jack have said some things here that speak to my soul. Amen Bros.

I am so tired of this nanny / entitlement / hand-out state. Pussification of American.

Feb 27, 2012
adapt or die:

I just found this thread, WOW!

Ant and Gentleman Jack have said some things here that speak to my soul. Amen Bros.

I am so tired of this nanny / entitlement / hand-out state. Pussification of American.

We need more good men like you!

Feb 28, 2012

Theres a book called The Culture Code thats a pretty good read on the topic

Feb 28, 2012

on a side note you have to have compassion to people i understand every one on here is all like

fuck yo poor ass go get me my meal and keep the change to go get a bisectimy u poor mfer

show some compassion :P it will make you a better person and it's what the lord wanted

i agree though so ppl r just mad bc bad and lazy, but do they rlly affect you?

also why do you think the higher income earners don't deserve to pay more in taxes?
basic out dated economics:
the mc is less then the mc of taking it from a poor person

also iq is a bs statistic if your hungry,patient and stuborn you'll make disco's and shouldn't be discouraged never let some score on any test define you or your setting yourself up for failure

furthermore you can patent what ever the fuck you want, but if you don't have good marketing your product isn't going to do shit in the real world

Feb 29, 2012
blastoise:

on a side note you have to have compassion to people i understand every one on here is all like

fuck yo poor ass go get me my meal and keep the change to go get a bisectimy u poor mfer

show some compassion :P it will make you a better person and it's what the lord wanted

i agree though so ppl r just mad bc bad and lazy, but do they rlly affect you?

also why do you think the higher income earners don't deserve to pay more in taxes?
basic out dated economics:
the mc is less then the mc of taking it from a poor person

also iq is a bs statistic if your hungry,patient and stuborn you'll make disco's and shouldn't be discouraged never let some score on any test define you or your setting yourself up for failure

furthermore you can patent what ever the fuck you want, but if you don't have good marketing your product isn't going to do shit in the real world

I'm pretty sure this post was awesome but I'm having some difficulty translating from Blastoise into English.

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Feb 29, 2012

You don't take more from a rich person because it is wrong. People are not starving. We are not living in an oppressive society. The poor in the US are far better off than most people in the world. You need to have an almost insurmountable argument to make a justification to take something from someone else that you didn't earn.

The rich pay the majority of taxes. They pay their "fair" share. And if you are going to use economics or a cold calculation to justify taking from the rich, why not just turn a cold shoulder to the poor? Their level of consumption doesn't offset the costs.

It is not anyone's right to take from someone else. Just because you can convince a majority to use the government to steal doesn't make it right.

Mar 1, 2012
ANT:

You don't take more from a rich person because it is wrong. People are not starving. We are not living in an oppressive society. The poor in the US are far better off than most people in the world. You need to have an almost insurmountable argument to make a justification to take something from someone else that you didn't earn.

The rich pay the majority of taxes. They pay their "fair" share. And if you are going to use economics or a cold calculation to justify taking from the rich, why not just turn a cold shoulder to the poor? Their level of consumption doesn't offset the costs.

It is not anyone's right to take from someone else. Just because you can convince a majority to use the government to steal doesn't make it right.

The rich pay the majority of taxes because they have the majority of income and wealth. They benefit the most from the way our government is set up. Shouldn't they pay for their benefits? The marginal utility of a dollar is much much higher at the bottom of income scale, so shouldn't that be accounted for?

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Mar 1, 2012
freemarketeer:

The rich pay the majority of taxes because they have the majority of income and wealth. They benefit the most from the way our government is set up. Shouldn't they pay for their benefits? The marginal utility of a dollar is much much higher at the bottom of income scale, so shouldn't that be accounted for?

it made me sick to read that. So many things WRONG with that statement. Please watch that bleeding heart before it stains your shirt. How can you gave a name like freemarketeer and be so clueless???

Mar 2, 2012
freemarketeer:
ANT:

You don't take more from a rich person because it is wrong. People are not starving. We are not living in an oppressive society. The poor in the US are far better off than most people in the world. You need to have an almost insurmountable argument to make a justification to take something from someone else that you didn't earn.

The rich pay the majority of taxes. They pay their "fair" share. And if you are going to use economics or a cold calculation to justify taking from the rich, why not just turn a cold shoulder to the poor? Their level of consumption doesn't offset the costs.

It is not anyone's right to take from someone else. Just because you can convince a majority to use the government to steal doesn't make it right.

The rich pay the majority of taxes because they have the majority of income and wealth. They benefit the most from the way our government is set up. Shouldn't they pay for their benefits? The marginal utility of a dollar is much much higher at the bottom of income scale, so shouldn't that be accounted for?

You are right that the right pay the majority because of their wealth, but the poor and lower middle class also pay nothing which is not a good situation. There should be some amount that we all pay since we all benefit.

As for the rich benefiting the most, I think that is debatable. I think the poor benefit the most. American poor are some of the richest in the world. The have free healthcare, free schooling, free food, welfare, heating supplemental income, on and on. These are all provided from taxes from the wealthy.

The wealthy benefit from having a stable government, laws, national security, etc. We all benefit from these. These are also core duties of the government. We form a government so it can protect us from foreign enemies, have laws, etc. Things only a collective can do.

The things that the government does now penalize people who earn for the benefit of others. Now I am not saying we shouldn't have safety nets or help the poor, but this concept that the rich need to be milked more and more is criminal at best.

I agree with you about the utility of a dollar being higher at lower income levels, but do you want economics deciding moral and ethical decisions? If so I am in complete agreement with you then. We should use cold economics in making decisions and cold economics would not take productive assets and throw them at unproductive ventures.

You cannot use economics to validate one practice while ignoring that holistically economics would say greater benefit for all is to be derived from focusing on the producers, not the users.

Mar 2, 2012

ever heard of payroll taxes?

Mar 2, 2012
melvvvar:

ever heard of payroll taxes?

Is this directed towards myself? If so, those still are not federal income taxes which I clearly emphasize in my post.

Best Response
Mar 2, 2012

i love all these arguments about the poor not paying their share. yeah, they don't pay federal income taxes. they don't pay much in capital taxes either. and they don't have much in estates to pay tax on either. what's your point? they still get a good chunk of their earnings hided out of their asses through payroll taxes and the biggest most regressive tax of all which is your massive across the board yearly inflation tax which directly transfers wealth out of sticky-waged earners into the pockets of people who hold capital assets.

a lot of you must have grown up poor. i can't imagine anything other than self-loathing to explain the harshness of the anger you are spouting against the $10,000 a year crowd.

let's be clear on where all your upper middle class taxes are going to. a pittance goes to the likes of medicaid. most of it goes to even more upper middle class senior citizens in the form of social security and medicare. that's about 65% and growing. and another 20% goes to the weapons makers, whom, last i checked, are doing quite alright.

but no, you buy into the meme that it's the poor that's ailing you. they ought to pay their fair share! if you are so much against redistributive socialist taxation, why not tilt at your own grandparents and their whole generation sucking you dry in a system where they get 5x out what they put in and you will be lucky to get 5 cents on the dollar? why not tilt against the military industrial complex which is on track to burn up another 2-3 tril over the next decade? see, the politicians don't do that because they know what side their bread is buttered on. why the average workaday middle-class slug doesn't, i don't know.

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    • 1
Mar 2, 2012
melvvvar:

i love all these arguments about the poor not paying their share. yeah, they don't pay federal income taxes. they don't pay much in capital taxes either. and they don't have much in estates to pay tax on either. what's your point? they still get a good chunk of their earnings hided out of their asses through payroll taxes and the biggest most regressive tax of all which is your massive across the board yearly inflation tax which directly transfers wealth out of sticky-waged earners into the pockets of people who hold capital assets.

a lot of you must have grown up poor. i can't imagine anything other than self-loathing to explain the harshness of the anger you are spouting against the $10,000 a year crowd.

let's be clear on where all your upper middle class taxes are going to. a pittance goes to the likes of medicaid. most of it goes to even more upper middle class senior citizens in the form of social security and medicare. that's about 65% and growing. and another 20% goes to the weapons makers, whom, last i checked, are doing quite alright.

but no, you buy into the meme that it's the poor that's ailing you. they ought to pay their fair share! if you are so much against redistributive socialist taxation, why not tilt at your own grandparents and their whole generation sucking you dry in a system where they get 5x out what they put in and you will be lucky to get 5 cents on the dollar? why not tilt against the military industrial complex which is on track to burn up another 2-3 tril over the next decade? see, the politicians don't do that because they know what side their bread is buttered on. why the average workaday middle-class slug doesn't, i don't know.

20% of Federal taxes go towards national defense, which is perfectly fine since this is what a Federal government should do.

20 % is Social security. It is not for the rich, but for the poor and lower middle class. Everyone else saves or works in a career that doesn't destroy their body. Social Security can be fixed with some simple measures.

20% goes to medicaid and care, for the poor and elderly. Once again, not exactly for the people that pay the taxes.

The rest goes to various agencies, social programs, interest on debt, etc.

The issue is not about the poor, but the fact that the government does too much. It should shrink in size. Stick to defense and a few other things. Lets shrink and reduce SSI. Lets reform and reduce Medicare/caid. Lets shutter countless, useless government agencies. Lets allow Americans to keep what they earn and when it is taxed, it only goes to what government should truly do.

End the nanny state in all of its forms. Some will thrive some will fail. Let nature take its course.

Mar 2, 2012
ANT:
melvvvar:

i love all these arguments about the poor not paying their share. yeah, they don't pay federal income taxes. they don't pay much in capital taxes either. and they don't have much in estates to pay tax on either. what's your point? they still get a good chunk of their earnings hided out of their asses through payroll taxes and the biggest most regressive tax of all which is your massive across the board yearly inflation tax which directly transfers wealth out of sticky-waged earners into the pockets of people who hold capital assets.

a lot of you must have grown up poor. i can't imagine anything other than self-loathing to explain the harshness of the anger you are spouting against the $10,000 a year crowd.

let's be clear on where all your upper middle class taxes are going to. a pittance goes to the likes of medicaid. most of it goes to even more upper middle class senior citizens in the form of social security and medicare. that's about 65% and growing. and another 20% goes to the weapons makers, whom, last i checked, are doing quite alright.

but no, you buy into the meme that it's the poor that's ailing you. they ought to pay their fair share! if you are so much against redistributive socialist taxation, why not tilt at your own grandparents and their whole generation sucking you dry in a system where they get 5x out what they put in and you will be lucky to get 5 cents on the dollar? why not tilt against the military industrial complex which is on track to burn up another 2-3 tril over the next decade? see, the politicians don't do that because they know what side their bread is buttered on. why the average workaday middle-class slug doesn't, i don't know.

20% of Federal taxes go towards national defense, which is perfectly fine since this is what a Federal government should do.

20 % is Social security. It is not for the rich, but for the poor and lower middle class. Everyone else saves or works in a career that doesn't destroy their body. Social Security can be fixed with some simple measures.

20% goes to medicaid and care, for the poor and elderly. Once again, not exactly for the people that pay the taxes.

The rest goes to various agencies, social programs, interest on debt, etc.

The issue is not about the poor, but the fact that the government does too much. It should shrink in size. Stick to defense and a few other things. Lets shrink and reduce SSI. Lets reform and reduce Medicare/caid. Lets shutter countless, useless government agencies. Lets allow Americans to keep what they earn and when it is taxed, it only goes to what government should truly do.

End the nanny state in all of its forms. Some will thrive some will fail. Let nature take its course.

The problem is that the state has to take care of the poor people. As in modern society a certain percentage of poor people does exist and probably is unavoidable. Leaving them to starve? Not a good idea.

Mar 2, 2012
melvvvar:

military industrial complex

You had a lot going for you in that post until you used to most obvious hippie buzzword of all time.

Mar 3, 2012
FusRoDah:
melvvvar:

military industrial complex

You had a lot going for you in that post until you used to most obvious hippie buzzword of all time.

yes, dwight eisenhower was a huge hippie.

Mar 2, 2012

numbers here matter. of the 65% chunk that goes into medicare/SS (people always blurt it out like the two were joined at the hip) the medicare:SS breakdown is 5:1. and yes, it is mainly going toward transfer payments for middle class and upper middle class retirees who are overusing the medical system because hey, when somethin's free FOR ME, who the hell cares how much it costs SOMEONE ELSE?

if you're talking about the government doing too much, that's one thing. but it's not the poor that are sinking the system. yeah, the poor take more out than they put in. if they pisses you off, that's OK. who likes a free loader? how abuot the retirees who are doing that to the tune of 5x what they put in? the retired and old are the wealthiest quintile of the US population so just remember that the reason you're having such a struggle putting together a retirement is that your paychecks are getting a good piece hacked out of it to pay shuffleboarders in florida.

and the difference between the poor and the retirees is that there are a lot more retirees and they are taking out a lot more per retiree. the thing that is sinking the US fiscally is not a couple of poor bastards but the throngs of upper middle-class retirees who are lined up at the trough and don't give two shits about the consequences.

but ok, now at least we have figured out that the real culprit is not the hated welfare queen or trailer trash mama but your own grandparents and uncle steve who works at raytheon.

Mar 2, 2012

They are both the problem. Lets start rolling back social security and income testing it. Why on earth do people think they have a right to retire and be taken care of is beyond me. I think it is unhealthy for people to retire anyway.

Social Security should roll back to what it was created for. As a safety net for infirm people and widows. It doesn't need to be a national pension.

Side note, I read a wonderful article in Businessweek talking about how the Spanish resent Chinese immigrants for working too hard. Made me warm inside to see how weak the Europeans are and how the Chinese and other hard workers simply roll up onto their shores and eat their lunch because they are so lazy.

That entire continent is in for a tough next half a century as the rest of the world moves on and they are left in the dust.

Mar 2, 2012

We could balance the budget and fix this country so easily. Just cut the waste. Let people sink or swim on their own. How humanity has reached its greatest heights through evolution and natural selection and once we get there we implement countless measures to mitigate the selection process is beyond me.

Have some nets and let nature sort the rest out. People need to be toughened up.

Mar 3, 2012
ANT:

We could balance the budget and fix this country so easily. Just cut the waste. Let people sink or swim on their own.

Everyone should also keep in mind that a lack of government programs for the poor is not the same thing as making people sink or swim. Plenty of private charity exists between family, friends, and even strangers. People tend to assume that if the government doesn't do it, it won't get done, which just doesn't seem consistent with reality.

Mar 2, 2012

i'm not going to argue against spaniards' laziness. checkmate.

Mar 2, 2012

No one says starve, but let the state manage it. They are more directly in contact and can flex easily. There also need to be a solution to their plight. Eventually one must stand on their own two feet or accept their lot in life.

Mar 3, 2012

^^^ So for semantic correctness, $38,000 is the median income while $50K is the average.

Apparently even above-average Americans like we have on this forum struggle with mean, median, and mode.

Mar 6, 2012

Average income isn't a representative number. 46 million people under the poverty line (15%) don't have a decent living, and that number could be growing.

And? From what I've seen most of those people did 1 of 4 things:

1) Didn't graduate high school.
2) Are a felon.
3) Did drugs.
4) Had kids they couldn't support.

Don't do those 4 things and you aren't poor. Those are called "decisions". I don't believe the government should support "bad decisions".

Mar 6, 2012

^^^ God bless you. Absolutely. Those 4 things by and large dictate poverty levels for people. Make simply solutions and your life will benefit. If not, deal with the consequences.

Mar 6, 2012

This "essay" is utter crap and is full of grammatical errors, and a CLEAR lack of scholarship. Reads like a conspiracy theorists manifesto. Guy who wrote it is either an idiot posing as a professor, or a tenured professor at Harvard.

"...all truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

  • Schopenhauer
Mar 6, 2012

No, never. America is an idea. Anyone, from anywhere can become an American. China is a nation composed primarily of the Han ethnic group. Those same Han people can become Americans. A Mexican can not go to China, and become Chinese, but he can come to America and become American.

I had not even been in America a few years ago, and now I consider myself a patriotic American.

Yes, there are issues in this country that need to be fixed, but there is nothing that America can not overcome.

    • 1
Mar 6, 2012
JamesHetfield:

No, never. America is an idea. Anyone, from anywhere can become an American. China is a nation composed primarily of the Han ethnic group. Those same Han people can become Americans. A Mexican can not go to China, and become Chinese, but he can come to America and become American.

I had not even been in America a few years ago, and now I consider myself a patriotic American.

Yes, there are issues in this country that need to be fixed, but there is nothing that America can not overcome.

I handily disagree with this notion. This is the immigrant's idea of America, not the natives'. If Americans don't exist as "real people" to be cherished and protected by their government and country, if white and black Americans (the populations who formed this country) are as equally American as any Chinese, then what's the point of all this talk about the middle and lower class? Of fighting for these people who can't even fight for themselves?

Why not just ferry over as many rich East Asians as you can and just rename the country Greater China?

No, America is comprised of a people which happen to agree on an idea. America is NOT just an idea where people are replaceable cogs. If the Han Chinese are not replaceable by Nigerian blacks in China then Americans are not replaceable by Han Chinese in America. You are one of the reasons I hate immigrants. They think America is some giant international silo village, where the people are chitin and live only to satisfy the whims of high-flying internationals. That is not America. We have flyover parts of the country, and farms, and towns, and real communities. The same as any other country.

Just because we treat immigrants well and integrate them, doesn't mean we want to be taken OVER by them. It's precisely why some don't want illegal immigration. Immigrants don't understand America in anything but economic terms.

    • 1
    • 2
Mar 6, 2012
JamesHetfield:

No, never. America is an idea.

TNA:

If anything, I think the US will retract some and then grow again.

^^^^

America is going through a consolidation phase. Debt is being stabilized on an individual and entity level, the nation as a whole will next move to put its collective financial house in order. Military, government, corporate, family, heck even cultural sectors are tightening the belt and focusing on their core while running smaller but much more focused R&D. This is unpleasant, but America has overextended itself a bit (FUCKING THANKS BILL&GEORGE) and while there are benefits that come from these adventures, the forseeable future (3-9 years, depending on a lot of things) are all about positioning for the long term.

Mar 6, 2012

Maybe we are, maybe we aren't. But the better question is who is going to step up and be the new America? China? Doubtful. The country is growing and becoming powerful, as it should be, but China has countless issues people simply gloss over.

If anything, I think the US will retract some and then grow again.

Mar 6, 2012
Mar 6, 2012

Absolutely we're in decline, as is the West in general, but we're not in decline in that another country isn't going to become a superpower and replace us, at least not in the foreseeable future. Rather, the U.S. will fall back into a state of regional hegemony and other nations such as China and to some extent Russia will pull more weight in their regions of the globe. So we're in decline in that the world is going to be multipolar again (with the U.S. still being the most or one of the most powerful nations on earth), but we won't have another country replace our power on the world stage, at least in the next century, barring some sort of natural disaster or nuclear catastrophe here. To be honest, this would probably be better for our country's military and people in that maybe we'd finally stop trying to be the policeman of the world and we'd return to our country's tradition from founding until WW2 of non-intervention.

Mar 6, 2012

simplify.

we are one failed treasury auction away from total calamity.

Mar 6, 2012

Most probably - in long term decline. I don't think US will ever have the same share of global GDP as it had after WWII (over 40%) or will ever have the unchallenged influence on global issues that it had in 1990's after USSR collapsed. It is going to be a multi-polar world with key players being USA, EU, China, India, Russia, and Brazil.
It is hard to judge historical things from perspective of a life time. There is an animated political map of Europe since 1 AD till our time - looks very impressive (you should google it if interested). No country is going to exist forever in the same form or borders. At some point, there will be a better idea for governance than the existing model based on US Constitution - but when, where and how it will appear is anybody's guess.

Mar 6, 2012

Read "the next 100 years" by George Friedman. He argues USA for the next 100 or so years because of the unbelievable superiority we possess economically, geographically, and politically. He has very good reasoning for all his assumptions and predicts the decline of China and another cold war (and defeat) with Russia. Interesting stuff and well explained in his book.

Mar 6, 2012

I am less concerned with the USA declining and more concerned with what China will look like in 20-50 years. It will be interesting to see how they adjust and adapt to things as their citizens demand more rights and/or freedoms.

Mar 6, 2012
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