No hope left for America's recovery

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Re: No hope left for America's recovery

Unread postby James » Fri Nov 21, 2014 6:00 pm

I'm somewhere in the middle of this as well. Someone should only be entitled to a limited extent of social welfare/government support simply for being a breathing human. And I am a supporter of government support and social welfare programs to a point. I think it's a good thing that people can get some financial help after losing a job for a period of time while searching for another and I also think it is a good thing that people can get some support when circumstances turn against them. Our system should be able to keep everyone fed and sheltered provided they're willing to use the system.

I hold those beliefs because they are necessary to counter harsh realities in the United States—that there are more people in need of jobs than there are jobs, that the wealth divide is growing strongly and most recovery from our recent recession went to the country's wealthiest individuals (meaning the recession necessarily never ended for some others), that we have decided a minimum wage for jobs should be so low that even with two people earning it it remains difficult to meet basic requirements of financial security in many parts of this country, that business mentality in this country is such that people should be exploited for all they can be in the name of profit (at least in most businesses). I also believe this because it is necessary for us to support our society as a whole if we want to remain competitive in the future as a country.

And there are some social benefits I believe should be expanded. The amount of money involved in healthcare is ludicrous and anyone truly exposed to it in a major health event is ruined. The government really must do something to continue improving these circumstances (ACA sincerely did more good than harm, and addressed some truly cruel profit-born problems in the healthcare world). I think education is the most important thing we can spend money on in this country and would go so far as to say the government should fund community college educations, given reasonable expectations and parameters, for the sake of our country's future. At minimum it shouldn't aim to profit from them.

And in other areas I disagree with the Democrats. Most Democrats won't even consider changes to welfare systems but those changes must take place to reduce the size of our government. Defense (offense?), Medicare, Medicaid, and social welfare programs mark most of our nation's spending. All of which should be subject to careful scrutiny. Some should really receive cuts, in my opinion, like defense—we're spending far too much and involving ourselves in far too many wars—while all should be subject to careful review to make them more efficient and cut waste. There's a lot of waste to cut everywhere in government. Unfortunately the circumstance is such that Republicans won't talk about cutting defense (they even go so far as to spend more on it when a given military branch says they don't need it) and Democrats won't talk about changes to social benefit programs. Some major problems aren't going to change unless there can be some compromise here, and compromise is something Congress of late has become particularly opposed to.

But nobody should be getting a 'free ride'. People on disability should still be looking for ways to earn some income and that should be taken into account. The disability system should also be improved. It is broken, and there really is a lot of fraud (or at least exploitation of the system). I underestimated it until I came to know some people involved in the process used for approving claims in various parts of the country. Welfare, similarly, should be tailored to encourage people to find some degree of improvement, and the system should be improved so as to better transition people from welfare to employment (there are lots of roadblocks right now where the welfare recipient faces significant losses in positive progress). And no, someone shouldn't be able to make a decent living indefinitely on welfare programs. They should exist to help people between rough patches in the short term and to provide provide basic necessities in the long term.

The Republicans as of late certainly have been the enemies of programs designed to support struggling Americans just as surely as they've supported programs that bring more money into politics or help the wealthiest Americans to retain more wealth. But the Democrats, by refusing to acknowledge problems in these programs and work honestly to fix them (in many cases), are also a part of the problem. Some of this, though, is likely just a product of having such a heavily polarized Congress.
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Re: No hope left for America's recovery

Unread postby DreamGoddessLindsey » Sat Nov 22, 2014 6:44 am

I'm much in agreement with James, to be honest. At least with the specific things he just posted.

Personally, I think the problem is easy to fix. Here's what I'd do if I had the power to make the changes:

1. Pull all military back home, massively cut defense spending (~75%), then put soldiers to work as construction workers. I'd have spend most of the defense budget on infrastructure for the country (improving the Interstate system, tech jobs, etc.) because part of the problem is that politicians always talk about creating private sector jobs. The only way capitalism can work is the Keynesian method (used in this country until about the mid-70s, and demolished by Reagan through the 80s), so spending on infrastructure makes sense and will bring a long term profit. I would create a universal healthcare system capable of subsuming Medicare and Medicaid both. For welfare benefits, I would introduce true means testing that took net income, typical expenses, and debt into consideration. I'd create public sector jobs in tech and medical research in order to compete with the private sector and make them have to finally change. I'd raise taxes in order to provide college to anyone who wants it.

Oh, and I'd enact any and every financial policy Elizabeth Warren suggests, no questions asked.
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Re: No hope left for America's recovery

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Sat Nov 22, 2014 8:43 am

James wrote:Most Democrats won't even consider changes to welfare systems but those changes must take place to reduce the size of our government...

Some should really receive cuts, in my opinion, like defense—we're spending far too much and involving ourselves in far too many wars—while all should be subject to careful review to make them more efficient and cut waste. There's a lot of waste to cut everywhere in government...

The disability system should also be improved. It is broken, and there really is a lot of fraud (or at least exploitation of the system). I underestimated it until I came to know some people involved in the process used for approving claims in various parts of the country.


I agree with most of the above also. I have two minor objections and one major one, though:

a.) I'm willing to put up with some fraud, some waste, some inefficiency in the name of having a system that works the way it's supposed to, most of the time, for the people who are most vulnerable. That's not a very fashionable thing to say, of course, but there is really a danger of making 'efficiency' into a kind of fetish.

For one thing, technically it is impossible to create a system that is 100% efficient. For another thing, there are other goods besides 'efficiency' to be considered. Families are not efficient. Civil society is not efficient. But they are valuable because they provide other intangible goods to the society that are not subject to what passes for cost-benefit analysis. For still another thing, the cost-benefit analysis of 'streamlining' itself is often not approached honestly. The irony is that, in the name of 'efficiency', welfare 'reformers' (like Wisconsin ex-governor Tommy Thompson) often end up spending more money hunting down fraudulent claims than the fraudulent claims actually cost.

Which itself is somewhat inefficient, no?

b.) I don't agree with the sort of 'compromise' that consists in 'I'll cut my welfare if you cut your defence spending'. That presumes that there is some sort of equivalency in value between the two. Beyond a certain basic degree of actual defence, 'defence' spending is all literally worthless. True, it makes defence contractors very rich, but from a baseline utilitarian view certain kinds of weapons can only serve to destroy wealth rather than create it.

c.) My disagreement about welfare is simply this: the fundamental problems with it are not going to be solved by mere tinkering or streamlining. There has to be a fundamental shift in the way the poor are treated in our society, as opposed to the rich, and the first welfare 'reforms' need to be aimed straight at the top. Corporate welfare - subsidies both direct and indirect that go to corporations which refuse to pay living wages - needs to end. Freight on public roads should be taxed; domestic businesses that outsource living-wage jobs should be fined and subject to the same tariffs that are applied to foreign businesses; greater tax benefits should go to small businesses (especially worker-owned ones) than to large ones, and to large businesses that give better pay and benefits to their workers than to the ones that don't. Courts should always, always give the benefit of the doubt to labour unions and their representatives, and 'right to work' laws should be struck down wherever they rear their ugly heads.

Right there, I think you'd solve a huge chunk of the welfare problem. Because, simply put, people who don't need to work three jobs in order to scrape out a decent living don't need to be on welfare. And most people who are on welfare don't want to be there - and again, following point a.), for the few that do want to be there, we simply shouldn't worry about them if it would cost more to punish them than it would to keep them on the rolls.

Let's be more worried about the moral hazards our government sets up for the people at the top, than for the people at the bottom of the income distribution. Those are way more systematically costly in any case.
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Re: No hope left for America's recovery

Unread postby DreamGoddessLindsey » Sat Nov 22, 2014 6:53 pm

I actually agreed with your whole post, WeiWenDi. I think maybe most of us (except maybe Shik) are in less disagreement than it first appears, probably because I'm terrible at "speaking", as it were. I have good ideas, but I'm not good at explaining myself or at expressing myself. My problem with Shik is his "Lawful Neutral" stance toward most things, whereas I'm more "Chaotic Good" (to use D&D alignments as references). He seems to care more about legality whereas I think more about morality due to my inherent disrespect for the rule of law in this country, thus creating the arguments between us.
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Re: No hope left for America's recovery

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Sun Nov 23, 2014 2:12 am

:D DGL, I think we're in disagreement a lot less often than you might think.

I still don't know how easily the D&D alignment systems can be mapped onto political ideologies or stances. People can be hypocritical, inconsistent or weak-willed, or proclaim to believe something they don't practice, or fail to see the big picture - which is fine. I do that sometimes too. And I know anarchists who are more 'lawful' in how they organise their personal and professional lives than a lot of conservatives are.

Likewise, with a handful of noteworthy exceptions (like Dick Cheney, Bill Kristol or Ayn Rand), I don't think right-wingers and libertarians are necessarily 'evil'. I think in a lot of cases, they're misguided anti-government idealists with a warped understanding of the way the world works.

With regard to the rule of law in the United States. I'm not that sure anymore - the standard for the powerful always seems to be, 'what can you get away with' rather than 'what does the law say'. I think - and Shik, feel free to correct me here - that Shik is genuinely concerned with what the law actually says, and what the ramifications of that are in a society that doesn't necessarily follow it.

That's my interpretation, anyway.
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Re: No hope left for America's recovery

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sun Nov 23, 2014 4:53 pm

DreamGoddessLindsey wrote:All good people deserve basic standard of living. Why the obsession with "labor"? Why must we say a person only deserves something if they "labor" for it?


I was actually surprised when I read this but that may be due to UK culture.

Here, welfare has always (as far as I'm aware) been seen as a safety-net since William Beveridge's day, something to help people cope while they find work. Even the Greens proposing a citizens wage see welfare as support to get people back into jobs. There are always debates on the practical elements like how much to give (I would seek to cover food, reasonable utility bills, housing, clothing, medical, some form of transport costs and internet), how best to give it and so on but the consensus is that it should be that safety net but that they want people to get jobs, that disabled should also get more help. There might be some who can't work and there are payments to cover that but for the rest, all political parties want them working. Partly to ease the welfare bill (in theory), mostly because work is seen as good on a personal level and mustn't incentives unemployment.

So I agree with you, rather then Shi, that government has a duty to provide a basic standard of living but I think we disagree on what basic requires and I think governments are right to point labour is a key part of it.

There's are many more people than there are jobs. That is a fact that's not up for debate and is well-documented. The jobless still deserve a decent standard of living, though


Leaving aside our likely differences over standard of living required, there is an issue about jobs. Now full employment means something below 5% or so unemployment which means there is going to be those unable to find jobs. One of the questions that has yet to be asked in mainstream politics is what to do about those who are still unemployed even with full employment.

Bad people don't deserve anything. If I ran the world, violent criminals would be put in a 5x9 cell all day every day with no fun time or exercise equipment. Only enough food to sustain life. Nothing more than this.


Thankfully you don't as I much prefer the Nordic model.

Sun Fin wrote:
This is an interesting article about one of those socialist countries you love to rave about but seem to disagree with in practise:

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013 ... are_btn_fb


In fairness to DGL, she raves about their economic and cultural side, she is still allowed to disagree with them on other things. Though one could argue the kindness they show to prisoners reflects on their attitudes elsewhere

James wrote:I hold those beliefs because they are necessary to counter harsh realities in the United States—that there are more people in need of jobs than there are jobs, that the wealth divide is growing strongly and most recovery from our recent recession went to the country's wealthiest individuals (meaning the recession necessarily never ended for some others), that we have decided a minimum wage for jobs should be so low that even with two people earning it it remains difficult to meet basic requirements of financial security in many parts of this country, that business mentality in this country is such that people should be exploited for all they can be in the name of profit (at least in most businesses). I also believe this because it is necessary for us to support our society as a whole if we want to remain competitive in the future as a country.


A lot of that holds true here. As for the highlighted bit: One of the problems our government is having is it has got people into jobs as quite an impressive speed... and the benefit bills don't come down. Because benefits are needed to ensure people can survive because companies don't pay enough so essentially our welfare system is subsiding employers having low level staff.
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Re: No hope left for America's recovery

Unread postby DreamGoddessLindsey » Mon Nov 24, 2014 2:55 am

Dong Zhou wrote:So I agree with you, rather then Shi, that government has a duty to provide a basic standard of living but I think we disagree on what basic requires and I think governments are right to point labour is a key part of it.


Perhaps. Here are some of the basics of my stance. Currently, the government thinks 30% of gross income is reasonable rent. It's not. A small apartment in Port Angeles that two can live in, even for low-income housing, is around $400. In addition, gross income shouldn't be the deciding factor, but rather net income after accounting for union dues, taxes, and health insurance. As such, I think that to remain out of poverty, a reasonable estimate is 20% of gross income or perhaps 30% of net income. From what I see looking around, and knowing that the internet is no longer a luxury but a necessity and is yet very expensive, and that medical bills can still get crazy with co-pays and deductibles, as well as the rising costs of everything, I think the minimum monthly income to not be in poverty would be $2000/month. That gives you enough breathing room to be able to get your stuff together and get back on sure footing, or enough to live on for the disabled and jobless. The maximum benefits possible should be given to anyone who makes less than that.

I do realize, however, that different areas have different costs of living. I know $2000/month goes nowhere at all in Seatlle, San Francisco, or New York City. As such, local governments would have to work with the federal government to make sure the basic needs are being met for that location. The $2000/month would fit Port Angeles. Back in Pontiac, probably $1600/month. San Francisco.

That's what I'd want if nothing else were changed. I can think of a lot of ideas to reduce these costs, like hammering down on the internet companies. There is no excuse why we have the most expensive internet in the world. In Tokyo, I could literally get ten times my current speed for the same price.

http://oti.newamerica.net/publications/ ... ivity_2013

This is now how the so-called "greatest" nation should be. I know Asia is always ahead of us in technology, but this is ridiculous.

Of course, it might be hard to compare our thoughts on this since you're in the UK and I'm in the US. World of difference. I don't suppose you'd wanna sponsor an immigrant? :P

Dong Zhou wrote:Thankfully you don't as I much prefer the Nordic model.


I just don't understand why violent criminals shouldn't be punished to the extreme. Rapists and murderers should be put to death, even.

Dong Zhou wrote:In fairness to DGL, she raves about their economic and cultural side, she is still allowed to disagree with them on other things. Though one could argue the kindness they show to prisoners reflects on their attitudes elsewhere


Thank you. You're correct. Heck, technically, socialism is purely an economic idea, not a system of complete government. That one would be communism. I have a socialist economic view, a progressive social policy view, I'm anti-religion, I'm pro-science, I take a hard stance against violent criminals, I have a federalist view of government itself, and I stand with democrats on the environment.

Heh, I'm just not so simple that I can be put in a tiny category.

Dong Zhou wrote:A lot of that holds true here. As for the highlighted bit: One of the problems our government is having is it has got people into jobs as quite an impressive speed... and the benefit bills don't come down. Because benefits are needed to ensure people can survive because companies don't pay enough so essentially our welfare system is subsiding employers having low level staff.


Ban outsourcing, big tax hike on them, $15/hour minimum wage, universal health care, end "right to work", and create public sector jobs to compete against the private sector.

Republicans believe in Reagan's trickle-down theory despite it being proven wrong outright over the source of the last 30 years. Their belief is that you help companies and they'll help workers out of the goodness of their hearts. Naive and idiotic. since taxpayer money then goes to feed the poor and the rich as it were. I think the welfare should go to the people, and that companies need to be heavily regulated in order to stop corporate abuse of employees, thus ensuring that taxpayer dollars never end up in the hands of businesses.

That's what I'd prefer.
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Re: No hope left for America's recovery

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Mon Nov 24, 2014 1:29 pm

DreamGoddessLindsey wrote:Perhaps. Here are some of the basics of my stance. Currently, the government thinks 30% of gross income is reasonable rent. It's not. A small apartment in Port Angeles that two can live in, even for low-income housing, is around $400. In addition, gross income shouldn't be the deciding factor, but rather net income after accounting for union dues, taxes, and health insurance. As such, I think that to remain out of poverty, a reasonable estimate is 20% of gross income or perhaps 30% of net income. From what I see looking around, and knowing that the internet is no longer a luxury but a necessity and is yet very expensive, and that medical bills can still get crazy with co-pays and deductibles, as well as the rising costs of everything, I think the minimum monthly income to not be in poverty would be $2000/month. That gives you enough breathing room to be able to get your stuff together and get back on sure footing, or enough to live on for the disabled and jobless. The maximum benefits possible should be given to anyone who makes less than that.


I'm not sure how housing benefit works here but I believe it to be a more flexible as rents vary but everyone is subject to a cap so the more your rent costs, the less room for some of the other benefits (some benefits are outside the cap).

Why would the unemployed pay union fees?

That's what I'd want if nothing else were changed. I can think of a lot of ideas to reduce these costs, like hammering down on the internet companies. There is no excuse why we have the most expensive internet in the world. In Tokyo, I could literally get ten times my current speed for the same price.


Yeah, I have heard your it systems are a bit of a mess. Which surprises me given the need for internet in the modern business and America seeing that as important. Our main parties are trying to get high-speed broadband to most of the country by end of decade to catch up

Of course, it might be hard to compare our thoughts on this since you're in the UK and I'm in the US. World of difference. I don't suppose you'd wanna sponsor an immigrant? :P


Immigrants bring cooties and satan worship, the Daily Mail told me so :wink:

I just don't understand why violent criminals shouldn't be punished to the extreme. Rapists and murderers should be put to death, even.


I don't think punishing them to the extreme and failing to rehabilitate all that you can helps society. As for capital punishment, I disagree with it on several levels.

Ban outsourcing, big tax hike on them, $15/hour minimum wage, universal health care, end "right to work", and create public sector jobs to compete against the private sector.


right to work? I don't know what you mean with that one?


Republicans believe in Reagan's trickle-down theory despite it being proven wrong outright over the source of the last 30 years. Their belief is that you help companies and they'll help workers out of the goodness of their hearts. Naive and idiotic. since taxpayer money then goes to feed the poor and the rich as it were. I think the welfare should go to the people, and that companies need to be heavily regulated in order to stop corporate abuse of employees, thus ensuring that taxpayer dollars never end up in the hands of businesses.


I think idiotic is harsh and I wouldn't say taxpayer money shouldn't go into business but I agree with the gist of what your saying.
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Re: No hope left for America's recovery

Unread postby Shikanosuke » Mon Nov 24, 2014 1:49 pm

Dong Zhou wrote:I'm not sure how housing benefit works here but I believe it to be a more flexible as rents vary but everyone is subject to a cap so the more your rent costs, the less room for some of the other benefits (some benefits are outside the cap).


I'm not entirely sure where she's pulling numbers from. From what I recall we have a cap as well. That cap is that the maximum allowance is the lesser of a payment standard minus 30% of a family's AGI or the gross rent for the unit minus 30% of the AGI. The system allows for tenants to pay a fairly low contribution to their own housing with the voucher system, though I hear waitlists.



Yeah, I have heard your it systems are a bit of a mess. Which surprises me given the need for internet in the modern business and America seeing that as important. Our main parties are trying to get high-speed broadband to most of the country by end of decade to catch up


I'm not sure its that much of a mess. And public provided internet access is widely available.


right to work? I don't know what you mean with that one?


In many states we have 'Right to work' statues which, if i remember correctly, makes it so you can't have union security agreement i.e an agreement b/w employers and unions on how the union can compel employees to join said union or pay fees.
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Re: No hope left for America's recovery

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Mon Nov 24, 2014 4:56 pm

Stopping people being forced into unions seems a good thing to me. As long as the employer isn't stopping or punishing people for joining a union
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