SPLIT TOPIC: American society: the poor the unemployed — Brooklynian

SPLIT TOPIC: American society: the poor the unemployed

And I'm not sure why companies "owe" their employees a "living wage" or "affordable healthcare"

I throw those entitlements in quotes because there is so much that goes into them & what defines them, that it seems silly to throw those terms around so arbitrarily.

Plus there is a cause and effect relationship between the price of different types of labor that seems to elude you BG. You want a grocery store clerk to be guaranteed $50K a year (just for shits and giggles; for one person living alone or with a kid I'm not even sure that could qualify as living wage), then be prepared for $10 milk, $7 loaves of bread, $10/lb chicken breasts etc... directly impacting the bottom line of the very people you're looking to protect. And don't even bring up gov't subsidy; that merely amounts to the same thing. Letting the market naturally dictate the prices of goods and labor to a large degree balances things out more equitably than any person (as EVERYONE has a vested interest) could.

And on the healthcare side, there are all the issues of copay, deductibles and of course the health of the insured. Two people could have the same plan and one person could never spend a dime on healthcare, while the other person could be spending thousands every year, despite being insured. Short of signing into law that companies provide employees with prohibitively expensive "free" healthcare, there's no way for companies to provide healthcare that is universally affordable, without providing insurance that would put them out of business.

I think its good that people look out for the common man, but solutions have to be analyzed within the context of how the world works. Demanding "living wages" and "affordable healthcare" without showing an explanation or understanding of what these things mean both in the context of the employee AND the employer seems dubious; after all, without a profitable business structure there is NO employee or employer.

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Comments

  • And I'm not sure why companies "owe" their employees a "living wage" or "affordable healthcare"

    I throw those entitlements in quotes because there is so much that goes into them & what defines them, that it seems silly to throw those terms around so arbitrarily.

    The fact that you think I used these terms arbitrarily says far more about you than it does about my argument.

    For a singe parent to afford child care, health care, and groceries (as opposed to eating fast food), a compendium of studies (which I can find) found that you would need to make about $30,000 a year. Minimum wage is like $15,000/yr.

    Minimum wage is not a living wage unless you have no kids, never have heath problems, never have transportation issues, can find affordable housing and are willing to eat fast food a lot.

    So, there's your context. Not arbitrary at all.

  • Cool the Kid said it much more eloquently than I ever could.

    IMO the bottom line is that a person is free to either accept employment at the wage offered or continue to seek employment commensurate with their skills and needs elsewhere. The consumer is also free to shop at the big box store, mom & pop, bodega or Wal-Mart dependent upon their finances and needs.

    I do not believe that the mom & pop stores could offer even minimum wage or any type of healthcare. In order to remain in operation on such slim profit margins they have to capitalize on available labor - be it child, illegal or whatever. Wal-Mart is vilified yet the mom & pop stores are supported?????

    Minimum wage is a base line which is a national average - although minimum wage may very well be a living wage in many other parts of the country, unfortunately it is woefully inadequate here. Similar to social security for our elderly; there are many elderly citizens that are forced to subsist on less than $15,000 per year WITH health issues, transportation issues and are unable to eat fast food.

  • IMO the bottom line is that a person is free to either accept employment at the wage offered or continue to seek employment commensurate with their skills and needs elsewhere.

    NO, you're not. That's precisely my point.

    If you are broke, hungry, and have children at home, you have to take the first job you can get.

    You don't have the luxury of waiting for a better job, or training for a better career.

    Every day you don't work is another day your family doesn't eat, or you don't get medical treatment for some crippling condition.

    Walmart doesn't get employees b/c they're offering good jobs. They get employees b/c people are desperate enough by the conditions created in this country.

  • BG,

    Ideally we could offer training and support programs for those in the situations you describe. ...but, sadly, we never seem to get our act together and the desperate people (and situations) you describe continue to exist.

    In the interim, are you proposing that we ban low wage employers and have the less skilled/desperate people try to get their needs met on public assistance (TANF, Food Stamps, etc)?

    Because we have so many low wage employers, this isn't a question of merely getting rid of the one with the big "Price Dropper" smiley face.

    Literally the entire entry level service industry pays low wages.

    The advocate's of Living Wage disaster in developing a long vacant armory in the Bronx comes to mind.

    http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20091214/FREE/912149994

    It was a protracted battle, but in the end: As a result of asking for too much, the folks they were advocating for got nothing.

    This guy sums up the issue nicely:

    By WILLIAM on 12/15/09 at 1:36 PM

    Typical NY stupidity, let's not do anything. 300M in re-development is the Bronx would have been wonderful. These people fighting this thing don't even live in the Bronx, except maybe a few tokens. What a travesty that the city council votes no to business and the economy and yes to stupidity, just shows how truly out of touch that they are. This would have been a great project that would bring money spent in NJ, Westchester, and LI, back to NYC, jobs, which would have served someone. Granted it is nice that people have thoughts that retail clerks should be paid like investment bankers, but it does not economically compute, and in the end everyone needs to consider that a good solid investment in the Bronx is better than nothing...the black hole that sits there now....STUPID city council...

  • This is a multi-facted topic that has no clear answer.

    Do *I* personally think the government should reorganize its priorities and provide more assistance in the form of housing, transportation, child care, training, food subsidies and health care in lieu of paying people unlivable wages so that they can buy cheap goods from the very store that doesn't pay them enough to live?

    Yes, I do. Largely b/c simple employment numbers and private revenue shouldn't be essentially the only metric by which we judge value to the community. Yet, it largely is.

    I'm aware of America's pathological rejection of all-things government (though funny that's mostly voiced by middle and upper class people) and how impractical my ideas are (though that doesn't make them invalid or not worthy of consideration).

    That being the case, I'm not sure "lesser of two very evils" is acceptable here. Mom & Pop stores aren't some cure all either though. But do I begrudge local groups who are trying to fight our dysfunctional system which considers it progress to pay people unlivable wages?

    No.

  • I don't think anyone begrudges the local groups that advocate for the poor.

    The groups just annoy me at times when they can't see that they, even with government at their side, do not have enough power to change the lives of their constituents.

    I guess it is the widespread public support for their movements that deludes them into thinking otherwise.

    To me, their effort to fight Walmart's entry into NYC is a loser. As I've stated above, Walmart is going to come, whether we want it or not.

    So far, no one has mentioned in this thread that Walmart wouldn't be able to pay wages and benefits as low as it does if its competition paid more.... Basically, it's villianized for buying a product (in this case labor) for the going rate.

    Returning to the advocates:

    On the positive side, it is these very groups that manage to implement the basic safeguards in our society concerning minimum wages and other working conditions. despite being under funded and often run by volunteers , they play a needed role in our society in that they not only point out when new legislation and protections are needed, but also point out when our EXISTING laws and regulations are not being effectively enforced.

    Example:

    http://www.maketheroad.org/

    While I think the "Ban Walmart From NYC" battle is silly and misguided, I have been watching the recent effort to force NYC employers to provide sick time closely. To me, it seems like a worthwhile battle and I hope some form off the law is passed.

    Predictably, the law is facing significant opposition from the business community, specifically the food and retail service industries.

    It should be interesting to see whether the law is ever successfully implemented and enforced.

    Here's a nice summary:

    http://www.iwpr.org/blog/2009/09/new_york_citys_proposed_paid_s.html

    This seems to state the legislation is currently stuck in the City Council:

    http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=655220&GUID=8FEF6526-0C00-45D5-BD0B-617353F90F06&Options=ID|Text|&Search=paid+sick

  • BG claims that if you are broke, hungry, and have children at home, you have to take the first job you can get and unless you do so,your family won't eat or get medical treatment. Then why do so may minimum wage jobs go unfilled and/or filled by recent (even illegal) immigrants?

    As for going hungry or unaided, don't our taxes (and the taxes of corporations) go towards SSI, WIC, S8, Medicaid and other support programs to protect those less fortunate from these desperate situations? Although the original concept for these programs was to provide temporary aid to those in need, the amount of time that assistance is needed as well as the number of people needing the assistance has grown. The funding for these support programs has not grown in proportion.

    Banning low wage employers and having yet more less skilled/desperate people attempting to get their needs met via these programs would only further exacerbate the situation.

    How should government provide more assistance? By increasing the tax burden on people who although not struggling now would certainly struggle under more onerous taxes? Or should government provide more assistance by increasing the tax base - by expanding corporate growth in the area and increased employment?

    Mom & Pop stores certainly do not provide a liveable wage nor health benefits - and are mostly cash businesses. I sincerely doubt that they pay their fair share of taxes or contribute towards SS. The fact that Wal-Mart is a corporation subject to regulations (as well as public scrutiny) makes it a more viable option than yet another dollar store or mom & pop bodega.

  • Are you setting yourself up for the bootstraps speech? 'welfare queens'? the poor just need to work harder?

    what are all these wonderful minimum wage jobs that go unfilled? According to a study cited in Nickle and Dimed someone on welfare has a 97 to 1 chance of getting employment. Getting a regular job isn't as easy as setting your alarm clock and pounding the pavement.

    You reference our social welfare systems but they are barely enough to get people by. They aren't close to enough to give people enough breathing room to actually find livable wages, or train themselves for a better career, or anything of the sort. In fact they are comically inadequate for what they propose to do.

    How should the govt provide more assistance? How about multibillion dollar bailouts for the poor? How about reducing the 20% of the federal budget that gets wasted on national defense. How about closing corporate tax loopholes. How about more tiered tax bracket that taxes the ultra-wealthy at much more logical rates (an extended discussion we had in another post).

    The 'how' is a question I'm fully willing to debate. But this here conversations started off with the what and why.

    Should this one Walmart store come to Brooklyn? Who the hell knows? Is Walmart and the American corporate top-down model good for our country?

    No.

  • boygabriel wrote: Should this one Walmart store come to Brooklyn? Who the hell knows?

    Is Walmart and the American corporate top-down model good for our country?

    No.

    Is globalization good for our world? Who knows.

    Is globalization good for our nation? Who knows.

    Is globalization good for Brooklyn? Who knows.

    ...but it is happening, and I fear it is likely to result in a "corporate top-down model" for the entire world as we relentlessly pursue the benefits of free trade and Pareto Efficiency.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_efficiency

    Can you, Boygabriel, stop it? (I can't)

    Do you think you can muster up the support of the populous to try to make our government stop it? (I can't)

    If you were able to get the government to bail out the poor, eliminate the 20% of the budget that is spent on defense, close the corporate tax loopholes and implement a system that progressively taxed the wealthy, do you think our government would be successful in stopping globalization? (I do not).

    .....yes, it sucks to be poor.

    it sucks to be poor in our world

    it sucks to be poor in our nation

    it sucks to be poor in our city.

    As globalization progresses, it may SUCK EVEN MORE unless the gains from trade (cheaper products, food, etc) outweigh the costs (increases in unemployment, increases in skills required, etc).

    krowonhill wrote: Would Walmart be good for Brooklyn?

    Frankly, everything we've described in this thread will happen with or without it.

    The same thing goes for burning things in the streets of Seattle at the WTO conference.

    ....globalization will happen whether you spend your day with 22 year old anarchists throwing firebombs at the police, or whether you use the day to do your laundry.

    http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&source=imghp&biw=1680&bih=914&q=seattle+wto+riots&gbv=2&aq=1&aqi=g3&aql=&oq=seattle+wto&gs_rfai=

    Personally, I choose to adapt as best I can and try force my government to help those who can't adapt.

    ....as you accurately point out, not everyone can "pull themselves up by their bootstraps".

  • Thread summary:

    a. If you are a Mom and Pop store and you try compete directly with Walmart, you will be screwed.

    b. Many Mom and Pop stores do not compete directly with Walmart, and they will be ok.

    c. It sucks to be poor, and we live in a world/city/nation that does very little to make it suck less. It would be nice if we could change this.

    d. Globalization has pros and cons

    e. etc.

    Next?

    P.S. Life is still worth living. These are the challenges of our times.

  • I'm too drunk to think/post clearly but I just strongly disagree w/BG's stance

    I understand & to a degree agree w/what BG wants for the country. But I am at a loss as to how the US could realistically make it happen w/o making the rich poor, or driving the cost of basic goods up well beyond what the avg American could afford, or increasing the tax burden on those who actually pay them well beyond sustainability & reason

    Esp considering the ocllective federal & municipal govts fiscal crisis

    Again I ask what BG feels the 'standard of living' should be for the avg American and how we can pay for it. Should every American have access to the lifestyles afforded to households earning 60K? 80K? 100K? 200K? How do you rationalize such an expensive + broad sweeping subsidy? And what about the people who make things work with less? What about all the poor people spending what little cash they have on CC debt, lotto tickets, alcohol, expensive hairdos yadda yadda/ BG how do you suppose more $$$$ will better their situation?

    Increasing entitlement programs doesn't solve the problems of poverty; it temporarily ails the symptoms but it also deepens the underlying cause. I'm getting dizzy but tomrooorw...

  • I love that business and economic topics are popular on Brooklynian (a favorite of mine too, in case you haven't noticed). I'm no fan of Walmart, but can't see that their any worse than other businesses located in NYC. On exception is Costco (really a competitor of Sam's--a Walmart subsidiary). I seem to recall that they make an effort to pay a decent wage plus benefits. Very enlightened.

    Walmart does do some things well. First, they bring lower costs, which raises living standards for shoppers. Second, they give work experience to many who need it (yes, I know, it's not like these are highly skilled jobs, but nonetheless, it's better than no experience for many). Third (and this was chronicled in The Atlantic), they are at the forefront of bringing local and fresh produce to markets. The implications for this last item are huge. Giving a large market to generate some scale for local farmers is a big deal. Allows lower average costs and maximizes nutritional benefits for many.

    And Walmart's advantage is based on more than just low wages. They have a vastly superior distribution network that is probably the world's best (Amazon also has an impressive logistics system). This was demonstrated when, during Hurricane Katrina, they were able to deliver emergency provisions when the gov't was not. Again, I'm not defending their poor reputation, which is partly deserved, but we don't exactly drive out other local businesses who are proven bad actors, do we?

  • Thread summary:

    a. If you are a Mom and Pop store and you try compete directly with Walmart, you will be screwed.

    b. Many Mom and Pop stores do not compete directly with Walmart, and they will be ok.

    c. It sucks to be poor, and we live in a world/city/nation that does very little to make it suck less. It would be nice if we could change this.

    d. Globalization has pros and cons

    e. etc.

    Next?

    P.S. Life is still worth living. These are the challenges of our times.

    And I come around here to discuss these things. It's worthwhile for me.

    As for CTK's slew of questions, I'm happy to discuss specifics. But those questions aren't a rebuttal to my points.

    (that minimum wage is too low, social services are inadequate, and that our country is simply not doing enough to create decent opportunities and pay for our poorest 40-50%. (~25% of America is paid hourly, another 10-20% is unemployed.))

  • Minimum wage is too low- again I ask, what should minimum wage be in your opinion BG, and how should the raise be paid for? Should minimum wage be state specific? It's definitely reasonable in other parts of the country. Plus I'm not sure why the gov't should take responsibility for people's decisions (i.e. having kids while making $20K/yr).

    Country is not doing enough to create decent opportunities for the poor- the country doesn't have enough opportunity for ~10% of the working population; I am unsure of where these opportunities for the least skilled portion of the population are to come from (thoughts on this to come)

    Country is not paying enough for the poorest 40-50%- BG, you do realize the poorest 40-50% pay little to no income tax and utilize the most of the govt's resources + programs? This comes back to my basic question- what more aid should the gov't provide to the poor, and as a follow up, given the country's fiscal status why should that be a priority?

    Also the idea that the gov't arbitrarily "pay for the poor" bothers me. Do you realize there are poor people who have made multigenerational legacies of living on the government dole? What about arbitrarily throwing more money at the poor solves the underlying problem of the cycles of poverty? How does that help them (or the country) in the long term?

    TBH I would have no problem with more $$$ being given to the poor through the form of public works programs. Much of our infrastructure is long overdue for O&M work and private contractors simply cost too much for our gov't to use them to get things back up to 100%. Why not train + utilize the labor pool of the poor? That way at least they gain some marketable skills & contribute. There are similar forms of work in various fields, not all necessarily involving physical labor. Obviously there are some poor people who simply can't work- which is fine; I think welfare programs are meant more for them. But the idea that all poor people are complete victims of society & wholly unable to support themselves is self-destructive for all parties. The country needs to move away from the idea of unwarranted entitlement to gov't programs, from corporations to individuals.

  • I would quadruple the number of publicly subsidized community colleges.

    ...but are we still talking about Walmart?

  • whynot I don't know that more college is the answer. I think it might be time for CUNY to consider opening up some trade schools too

  • CTK, Yes I would offer tech classes at my thousands of community colleges.

    ....tech jobs pay way better than Walmart.

  • CTK it's hard for me to discuss this if you're going to constantly resort to framing this in simplistic binary terms as if I'm arguing that the poor should get a free ride and that I don't think they should work.



    Also the idea that the gov't arbitrarily "pay for the poor" bothers me.

    really? come on dude.

  • Well BG when you say one of your focal points is that



    our country is simply not doing enough to create decent opportunities and pay for our poorest 40-50%.

    And I ask pretty pointed/specific questions that go unanswered



    Again I ask what BG feels the 'standard of living' should be for the avg American and how we can pay for it. Should every American have access to the lifestyles afforded to households earning 60K? 80K? 100K? 200K? How do you rationalize such an expensive + broad sweeping subsidy? And what about the people who make things work with less? What about all the poor people spending what little cash they have on CC debt, lotto tickets, alcohol, expensive hairdos yadda yadda/ BG how do you suppose more $$$$ will better their situation?

    I have to resort to making assumptions

    You want to ramp up all these efforts to help the poor, but in my opinion + from my experience you don't seem like you want to discuss specifics on why you feel the country's efforts are unreasonable or how you think the country could actually make things happen. Nor do you seem to show an appreciation of the context these programs would have to occur in.

    Unemployment is at its highest point in the last 30 years- people will skills & experience have been out of work for months

    Markets & investments are somewhat weak

    Property values are way down

    Entitlement programs are damn near at their limit w/all the newly unemployed people leaning on them

    Tax revenues are lower and the deficit is growing, doubly killing any available money to expand programs

    Fiscally, the U.S. should be scaling back everywhere it can, INCLUDING entitlement programs, not expanding. To date I don't think you've stated why you believe otherwise, other than that "its just what you believe", or something to that effect. I respect & understand your agenda, but I just don't see why it has to be a priority at this point in American history

    What do you want for the US

    How can we make it happen in these times while still meeting our fiscal obligations

    If it should happen regardless of us meeting our obligations, how do you justify such prioritization

    That's all I really want to know

  • Are you asking how I would restructure American values and priorities so that, for example, minimum wage is high enough that a single parent can have decent health care and afford child care?

    I'm more than happy to answer.

  • Will your answers take the following statement into account?

    "globalization will happen whether you spend your day with 22 year old anarchists throwing firebombs at the police, or whether you use the day to do your laundry."

    Or, do you dispute the statement's truth?

    ....or, are you stating that we can simultaneously improve the life of the poor while incurring the effects of globalization?

    If you have a way to achieve that last one, you have my undivided attention.

  • Are you asking how I would restructure American values and priorities so that, for example, minimum wage is high enough that a single parent can have decent health care and afford child care?

    I'm more than happy to answer.

    I don't know if I agree with this approach (i.e. BG telling me what I should feel should be American priorities) but I'll bite. I was really hoping more for an answer to the questions of where the system is lacking, why you feel it's lacking, what you think should be done, and my favorite question... how you propose to pay for the fixes.

    Also I'm curious as to why the gov't should be on the hook for the choices people make. If you make 20K/yr and decide to have a kid... couple of things. One you already basically pay no taxes, and w/the kid deduction prob drop to a zero tax liability, on top of all the low income housing & other gov't programs you have access to. But even still, at the end of the day that's a choice you make. Why should the rest of the country bear that financial responsibility? Those are the kinds of specific instances I'm curious to hear your opinion on, as everything I've read from you seems pretty vague.

  • The rest of the country should bear that responsibility, unfair though it be, because we are too concerned for the welfare of children to let them starve just because their parents may be irresponsible.

  • Also CTK remember there are single parents out there who lose their husbands/wives, or are battered women/men. There are families that lose their jobs and have nothing so for these people I do think that the government should help them until they can get on their feet again.

  • O yea stacey, things happen and I have no prob with helping people who are victims of circumstance

    But that's different

  • sorting those truly worthy and in need of assistance, from those merely malingering is no small task.

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/malingering

    You have my undivided attention if you have figured out a way to do that.

  • [/The rest of the country should bear that responsibility, unfair though it be, because we are too concerned for the welfare of children to let them starve just because their parents may be irresponsible. ]

    ---This

    [....or, are you stating that we can simultaneously improve the life of the poor while incurring the effects of globalization? ]

    I would argue that by giving the poor a better shake, the US will be in a much better place to compete and stay on top in this era of globalization. Social mobility has set our country apart. Now with the distance between rich and poor growing astronomically, social mobility is disappearing. You have to be really great and have everything go right to climb out of poverty. Alternately, you have to be a huge douche and have everything go wrong to fall from the upper class. The obstacles for letting talent rise (and shit sink) are getting to be way too strong

  • I like natty the newbie.

    ...welcome.

  • People always complain about the wealth gap...

    Yes, the rich are getting richer. But are the poor really getting poorer? Is the middle class disappearing? What role does consumer debt play in all this? I don't think it's as simple as an upward wealth flow; there are a lot of other factors- many of which are voluntary- that are at play in the flows of money.

    I wholly agree though that a mobilized + self sufficient poor class is much better for the country than otherwise, and efforts to help the poor should be made in that vein...

  • The rich are definitely getting richer.

    ...and there is certainly a lot of people out there who hold the opinion that this is a bad thing:

    http://www.mybudget360.com/top-1-percent-control-42-percent-of-financial-wealth-in-the-us-how-average-americans-are-lured-into-debt-servitude-by-promises-of-mega-wealth/

    (I link this article as an example only ...I do not agree with all its points)

    As we have alluded, all of this seems to come down to a few central questions. Here's some favorites:

    "When we determine that someone can't ever work, what should be their standard of living?"

    "When we determine that one merely needs temporary assistance to get back on their feet, what should be the standard of living?"

    "when someone does work, what should be their minimum standard of living?" [the discussion started with walmart and other big boxes afterall]

    Perhaps because I consider myself a part of it, I argue that having a middle class is a good thing as well. Does government have a responsibility to make sure people like me continue to exist?

    In the event we define what "middle class" means, what % of the workforce should be middle class?

    Taking the article I link at face value, 1% controls 44% of the wealth. This is consistent with other articles I've come across. Is there any point at which we should try to redistribute wealth from the rich? Can the richest 1% control 65% of the wealth? Can the richest 3% control 85% of the wealth?

    What if the situation arises where I am getting poorer not as result of any preference for eating out and overspending my credit cards, but as a result of health care expenses and things like -um- rent for an ultra cheap apartment someplace boring, like in Ohio. (note: I am trying to avoid a "move someplace cheaper" response)

    ...the paranoid guy in me believes that at some point the rich will be too powerful to tax at all. Forget all about capitalism and economics for a moment, is there a point at which we should implement more progressive taxes simply to protect our struggling democracy?

  • Sorry, WhyNot, it's too late for us all. Given the recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, protecting the rights of corporations to spend their unlimited wealth to ensure the election of those who would nurture and increase their wealth even further, us poor, working class, middle class and upper middle classes have no chance of improving our lots... From now on, the green all goes to those rich enough to own large chunks of the richest companies.

  • What if the situation arises where I am getting poorer not as result of any preference for eating out and overspending my credit cards, but as a result of health care expenses and things like -um- rent for an ultra cheap apartment someplace boring, like in Ohio. (note: I am trying to avoid a "move someplace cheaper" response)

    My question here is, how can this be the fault of the rich? Healthcare is more and more expensive because of a long list of factors:

    http://money.blogs.time.com/2010/02/25/why-is-health-care-so-expensive-let-us-count-the-conspirators/

    Some of them to do with shady business practices, but some also simply to do w/Americans living unhealthy sedentary lifestyles & taking pills for all the ailments that the pharmaceutical industry makes up. So more questions come. Are the healthcare problems merely bad luck (i.e. something genetic or random) or are they the result of a bad lifestyle?

    ...the paranoid guy in me believes that at some point the rich will be too powerful to tax at all. Forget all about capitalism and economics for a moment, is there a point at which we should implement more progressive taxes simply to protect our struggling democracy?

    As long as a special interest group has the power to get an official elected, they will always be represented. That's exactly how winners like Charlie Rangel stay elected. If we want to protect democracy we have to go back to being a country of moderation, thrift & compromise, which doesn't necessarily mean going back to pre-Reagan tax cuts.

    I'm still curious about the poor + middle class wealth growth in absolute terms. People are too hung up on relative wealth

  • I imagine myself to be someone who has none the bad habits you describe, but could still very well be in the situations we are describing due to a variety of factors. For simplicity, I will refer to these factors as "luck".

    As a result, I am able to feel some sympathy for the Ohio versions of myself: They don't smoke, they are my age and weight, they don't drink much, or have none of the other vices we all hate.

    However, they need somewhat regular medical care for kidney stones. Needless to say, as a result of being a carpenter, they don't make much money in the current economy.

    [Full disclosure: In real life, this writer has a table saw in his apartment, takes anti-kidney stone medication, and went to undergrad in Ohio]

    While the character I paint is perhaps wealthier and better off than he would be anywhere in the rest of the world, do we still have a responsibility to improve his lot in life?

    [ I.E. Even when the economy was great (in 2006), his income was never at the level that he could have saved for the prolonged period of spotty employment that he (they?) are now experiencing. ...this is also combined with the fact that he did expect this downturn to occur]

    Let's imagine in addition to working for few contractors when they have work, my character runs a handyman business on the side. In otherwords, my guy is doing as much as he can to get ahead, but can not.

    Is it ok for some to have incredible wealth, while the hard working "lout" I describe, barely gets by? ....should he have the opportunity to advance in life?

    (please imagine him as having no kids. It frees us from a whole "he shouldn't have had kids if he wanted more for them than he could provide" conversation)

    Given our huge wealth (and I consider the rich to be part of "us"), do we have some responsibility to make sure he has a "decent" quality of life?

    ...or do we simply chart my guy's fate up to "bad luck", and let the free market rule?

  • BG telling me what I should feel should be American priorities

    Funny, I don't remember telling you should feel anything. *I* can explain how *I* would reorganize things.

    The system is lacking b/c minimum wage is unlivable (you should be able to work full time and support a child). The system is lacking b/c we have the most expensive, least efficient health care in the developed world. The system is lacking b/c class mobility is dying. The system is broken b/c wealth has been astronomically concentrated in fewer and fewer hands over the past 3 decades.

    There are a million things we could reorganize in order to pay for this stuff, but we could start with 1) true health care reform with cost controls, 2) increased taxes for the wealthy and super-wealthy (top 1%), reduced defense spending (20% of fed. budget), increased corporate oversight and reduction in foreign tax havens, more efforts to keep jobs from going overseas.

    That's off the top of my head.

    Why should the rest of the country bear that financial responsibility?

    Because we all have a vested interest in having as few people live in financial misery as possible. If we have a financial or socio-economic underclass, which is essentially what we have now, we don't have a functioning society.

    It is not an ok status quo.

    as everything I've read from you seems pretty vague.

    I mean, we are on an internet message board where most responses are limited to 500 words or so. But for the 800th time, you shouldn't assume I don't have more to say on the subject, all you have to do is ask specific questions.

  • Some of them to do with shady business practices, but some also simply to do w/Americans living unhealthy sedentary lifestyles & taking pills for all the ailments that the pharmaceutical industry makes up.

    Unhealthy life choices are not a significant reason for astronomical health care costs.

    Absence of price analysis, cost controls, and adequate regulation are the major factors.

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/06/01/090601fa_fact_gawande?currentPage=all

  • Will your answers take the following statement into account?

    "globalization will happen whether you spend your day with 22 year old anarchists throwing firebombs at the police, or whether you use the day to do your laundry."

    Or, do you dispute the statement's truth? -WhyNot

    I'm not sure what your implication is. Everyone is doomed to make 90¢ an hour in a factory and there's nothing anyone can do about it?

  • I agree with BG, and have a hard time thinking of the guy I describe above as being at fault for having kidney stones.

    ....perhaps because I pass a kidney stone about once a year, and about once every three years it is a big enough deal that my insurance company shells out $4k for the care. There's no way my Ohio counter part can afford that. Needless to say, he is in an industry that doesn't provide its workers health insurance. ....private contractors don't use union carpenters, they are too expensive.

  • Will your answers take the following statement into account?

    "globalization will happen whether you spend your day with 22 year old anarchists throwing firebombs at the police, or whether you use the day to do your laundry."

    Or, do you dispute the statement's truth? -WhyNot

    BG wrote: I'm not sure what your implication is. Everyone is doomed to make 90¢ an hour in a factory and there's nothing anyone can do about it?

    I don't imagine the effect of globalization as being that brutal, but do imagine that we have only BEGUN to experience the downward wage pressure. I do fear we are going to have to use all of the assets at our disposal to maintain a standard of living for the vast majority.

    In this light, I view the rich as one of our country's assets.

    I'm ok with taking some of the rich's wealth in order to improve the lot of the rest of us, and buy natty's argument a growing of the present divide presents real risks of social unrest and the like.

    Like all of us, (...CTK included...) I would try to do it in a manner that it did not destroy their incentive to take on risk in exchange for profit. ...I also would not to tax the rich to the degree that they would all simply buy warm coats and then move to Canada.

    P.S. Spending the day with Anarchists is fun on occasion. Drinking cheap beer with them beats doing laundry. ....however, getting tear gassed by cops sucks.

  • Close beneath the surface of CTK’s arguments is the point that the poor deserve what they get. They are poor because of the decisions they made and others shouldn’t have to help them. I think most conservatives hold this view. Lets ignore appeals to compassion and set this as our goal: excellent people who contribute to society (or prove useful to the market) are rewarded and those who are useless get what they deserve (poverty).

    The problem is that this isn’t close to what is happening. The rich have way too much power. A useful rich father can ensure that his useless offspring and friends remain rich for generations.

    Conservatives love their bare-knuckles capitalism. They think it is what makes this country great and use it as a way to justify their disregard for the struggle of the poor. Well let’s let that sword cut both ways. If the rich felt a little more fire under their behinds in order to keep their wealth, they would have to be more productive and this should help our country.

    So where do we start? The estate tax should be rising rather than falling. Maybe we can scrap legacy admissions. Maybe we can enforce the current laws a little better as whynot suggests. I would start with off-shore tax shelters. Hopefully wikileaks will help in that regard. Other than just higher taxation (which should be on the table) how else can we ensure that the rich earn their wealth?

  • Inequality: The rich are getting richer. And I have no problem with this. And they contribute taxes. But they should. After all, our government protects their property. Our government opens markets for them. Our government provides opportunities for them. Opportunities are provided through military build ups which help the likes of Carlyle Group, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, GE, United Technologies, Booz Allen, etc, etc. Opportunities are provided through government sponsored medical research, where most of the profits are garnered by private industry. Opportunities are provided through explicit or implicit government guarantees. And government also created opportunities through de-regulation. This lowered regulatory compliance costs for many businesses. Government has also stood by and let the elite manipulate the labor market. True owners of public corporations have very little control over labor decisions made at the firms they own. So boards are friends of the executive suite, exorbitant pay packages are rubber stamped, etc. This has been remarkably persistent. And it is not a free labor market, but one controlled through collusion and manipulation. I have a hard time believing that most CEOs are worth 200 to 500 times the average salaries at the companies they run. Since our government benefits them, I question the assertion of many in this class that they need to pay less taxes. A rise in taxes is necessary.

    At a minimum, at least 50% of the working population has not seen their standard of living raised in at least 30 years. That’s a long time. It can be argued that this class has seen its standard of living shrink. It’s hard to have any assets of any value if you can’t keep up economically. I don’t think we can eliminate inequality. I’m not sure we should try. But I am sure we have far, far too much of it. And I’m sure there is no free market reason why this should be. But we don’t live in an entirely capitalist economy. Even the elite who extol the virtues were bailed out en masse two years ago. Given what I’ve seen over the past 2 years, I see little correlation between worth and decision making prowess (or hard work).

    Healthcare economics: Healthcare is expensive because the market for its services is not competitive. Not even remotely. What makes it not competitive? Let’s start with the need (and it is a need) for insurance. A problem with the way insurance is implemented is that it is used as the principal means for primary care. This shields the end user from the real price. A reason (not the only reason) insurers pay for most care is to control moral hazard—as some will neglect their health until a real emergency emerges. But nonetheless, it is a problem. Another problem is information asymmetry. The provider is much, much, more informed than most end users. That gives the provider a level of control over which services are provided for a particular need. The result is usually provision of the more profitable service. Yet another problem is adverse selection. When given the choice of paying for healthcare at a fixed rate, those who are healthier (and for whom the cost would be lower than the fixed rate they are presented), will balk at the price and not pay. This leaves a pool of relatively less healthy people, who see the price and think it is a bargain. Next year, prices rise and the pool becomes even less healthy (self-selection). Competitive markets are in the national interest. That’s why the government—whose duty is to protect its constituents—regulates industry. A quick aside: Insurers are exempt from anti-trust. The reason (and I don’t buy into this reasoning) is because they all calculate rates based on the same underlying data. Theoretically (actuarially), the rates for similar pools of candidates should be identical.

  • Water Ice and Natty-

    I think viewing the nation's rich as "assets" is crucial to making progress toward creating a wage and healthcare system that benefits the nation.

    This logic is in sharp contrast to CTK, who believes that the wealthy should not be responsible for the poor because, for the most part, they have merely mastered the capitalist system.

    CTK correctly points out that the vast majority of the conditions we allude to are not the "fault of the rich", and that they have committed no crimes.

    In response, I point out that our nation periodically requires people to do things that they really hate doing.

    Does anyone among us like jury duty?

    In times of emergency, we even people to serve in the army and go kill people we don't know. Who among us likes to do that? As I'm sure you are aware, this last obligation is mostly met by poor 18 - 25 year olds.

    Is there a point when we should require the rich to make similar "unfair" sacrifices for the good of the entire country?

  • All employable individuals are assets. All of these individuals deserve a chance to help the current economic climate.

    I blame the rich for the tragic misallocation of resources over the past 5 years. That disaster resulted in their taking resources for their own benefit. And those resources (financial capital) no longer exist to help alleviate the causes of poverty. Many more people are unemployed than otherwise would have been absent some really poor decisions made by some really powerful people.

    Sacrifice? Please. No sacrifices need to be made. None should be asked for. If we did ask, the answer will always be a firm, NO. If some feel it is unfair to pay higher taxes, well, too bad. Life is unfair. Do the wealthy want their assets protected? Pay taxes. Do you want a good economic climate, with educated professionals ready to help your firm get to the top? Pay taxes. Want first rate infrastructure so your trucking company can deliver freight? Pay taxes.

    Some very wealthy and powerful individuals recognize the need for (somewhat) higher taxes and a broader base of the affluent. Among them are Buffett and Soros. Even Pete Peterson recognizes that cutting goverment spending in the short term is self-defeating, though he is not crazy about raising taxes. And CEOs from the most powerful firms have been clammering for universal (government paid) healthcare for quite some time. They feel that we (the U.S.) is at a competitive disadvantage without it (the costs of government paid healthcare don't show up on an income statement).

  • Lots of things put us at a competitive disadvantage relative to the rest of the world.

    ....many countries are now further ahead of us in terms of high speed trains, internet infrastructure, electrical power grid.

    As you point out, private industry often has no incentive to invest in such things.

    This is in part because they have the luxury of relocating to a country that has the mix they require.

    ....this is where government is needed. Government is largely the force that built the high speed trains, electrical grid and internet infrastructure that other first world nations enjoy.

    If one can overlook its irritable neighbor, S Korea is quite an enviable country in this regard. As a result of having a highly educated populous, hard working culture, and supportive government, it has made astounding gains over the past 20 years.

    ....I'm pretty sure it provides its residents health care as well.

    P.S. To be fair, I'll agree that our labor costs are among our disadvantages.

    However, most studies I've seen actually put our tax rates among the lowest.

  • Damn this quote function....

    Re: whynot's post on the Ohio carpenter- once upon a time, that carpenter had no access to any treatment, simply because it didn't exist. Even when it was available, he might not have been able to afford it. And in any case, him "just getting by" was and still is a standard of life people kill for & go to great lengths to come here to have. So obviously while it's not perfect, I'm unsure of perfection in this context being worth the cost.

    Re: BG's response-

    The system is lacking b/c minimum wage is unlivable (you should be able to work full time and support a child).

    Since when is affordability of children a legal entitlement? Has there ever been a time where everyone across the socioeconomic spectrum could afford a child? And what does being able to support a child exactly entail? I don't think that's a reasonable request.

    The system is lacking b/c we have the most expensive, least efficient health care in the developed world.

    I agree that healthcare is incredibly and needlessly expensive, but without some serious reform we should not look to throw $$$ at ensuring everyone has access to it.

    The system is lacking b/c class mobility is dying. The system is broken b/c wealth has been astronomically concentrated in fewer and fewer hands over the past 3 decades.

    I don't think wealth has truly been leaving the poor and flowing to the rich (at least not wholly involuntarily). Yes, much of what has made the rich rich has been made off the poor (finance, interest, healthcare, real estate). But I don't see how any of that is new. Changes in tax laws and the more violent swings of the American boom-bust economy have magnified the exponential nature of wealth, which IMO is the real cause for the growing wealth disparity. Even if the gov't has been lax in keeping the rich from enabling their money to multiply "too much", I fail to see how one getting rich off regular investments is immoral or happening at the expense of the poor. In that case, middle class folks should ditch their 401Ks and give away any real estate capital gains. Outside of wholly egregious and immoral instances like the Enron scandals etc, BG, how are the rich getting richer off of poor people's backs?

    Also let's not forget, yes, many are victims of circumstance, but many are also victims of their own bad decisions financially. America's incredibly low savings rate and high household debts + credit cards per household numbers are a huge reflection of this, but always a big factor you never mention. Barring emergencies (and again, some, but nowhere near all personal debt is due to emergencies), there's really no reason any American should hold any debt, and yet we hold a lot of it that we just can't pay off, which holds us in slavery and kills any chance of wealth.

    Unhealthy life choices are not a significant reason for astronomical health care costs.

    Absence of price analysis, cost controls, and adequate regulation are the major factors

    I admit, I will need a lot more time than one day to pick through the article.

    But just some notes about America's health.

    Colors represent % within each state regarded as obese as of years listed. (1993 was the first year they had data in all 50 states).

    Top cause of death in the US: heart disease

    Diabetes is on the rise

    Americans are def not healthy, and it doesn't help when coupled w/the increase in litigiousness

    The healthcare issue is complex... I am not sure an article singling in on one hospital as representative of the country on the whole is fair, but again I haven't had the time to read through it. Comes back to a fundamental disagreement with you though... the end users are not 100% victims, they bear some responsibility in the downfall of the system.

    Re: natty

    The problem is that this isn’t close to what is happening. The rich have way too much power. A useful rich father can ensure that his useless offspring and friends remain rich for generations.

    Not sure what the problem here is. If one can afford to ensure their offspring will be accounted for why wouldn't they do so? That's a big part of why they made pensions for cops + soldiers.

    Water Ice

    Sacrifice? Please. No sacrifices need to be made. None should be asked for. If we did ask, the answer will always be a firm, NO. If some feel it is unfair to pay higher taxes, well, too bad. Life is unfair. Do the wealthy want their assets protected? Pay taxes. Do you want a good economic climate, with educated professionals ready to help your firm get to the top? Pay taxes. Want first rate infrastructure so your trucking company can deliver freight? Pay taxes.

    Funny you should mention fairness and taxes in a discussion about the rich and poor, lol. High earners pay a shit ton of taxes. Someone like me who's single w/no kids and making decent money gets taken to the cleaners by various gov't agencies (about 40% once the city is done with me). Low earners w/the kids basically pay nothing. If you're poor enough, you can get pretty sizeable subsidies and benefits. So I'm not sure what you're talking about.

    I don't know. Americans entitled to gov't subsidies for having kids they couldn't afford otherwise? Rich people being chastized for not paying enough taxes when poor people pay nothing? The stink about the RELATIVE wealth gap? Maybe I'm missing something here...

  • Some things I want to know:

    How has the wealth gap grown at the expense of the poor?

    Why in 2011 are people suddenly entitled to the means to raise a child?

    What about voluntary personal debt, obesity, and other increasing negative factors that are pretty much wholly under the control of the individual?

    Anecdotally, what percentage of poor people do you guys feel are true victims of a failed system?

  • CTK-

    As you are aware, I perceive myself as a moderate. On rare occasions, I've even voted republicans (mostly when the democrats run a complete idiot).

    While you seem to want to focus this conversation on personal responsibility (and I agree with you that such factors play a large part in what keeps people poor in this country), I have largely given up on trying to change the negative habits of others ....especially on some large scale.

    Instead, I would be delighted if we could merely provide opportunity to those who currently do have their acts together to help themselves.

    While you view health care as something you do not want to pay for because you feel it is inefficient and overused by people with bad habits, do you also feel government should not have a role in providing people with things they are unlikely to overuse?

    whynot wrote:

    Lots of things put us at a competitive disadvantage relative to the rest of the world.

    ....many countries are now further ahead of us in terms of high speed trains, internet infrastructure, electrical power grid.

    As you point out, private industry often has no incentive to invest in such things.

    This is in part because they have the luxury of relocating to a country that has the mix they require.

    ....this is where government is needed. Government is largely the force that built the high speed trains, electrical grid and internet infrastructure that other first world nations enjoy.

    If one can overlook its irritable neighbor, S Korea is quite an enviable country in this regard. As a result of having a highly educated populous, hard working culture, and supportive government, it has made astounding gains over the past 20 years.

    ....I'm pretty sure it provides its residents health care as well.

    Should the US government somehow have less of a role than these other governments, also located in capitalist countries?

    .

    .

    .

    Why?

  • I have a (small) family, but my income is (or rather, was)r large. I have no reason to believe it won't be again sometime soon. My tax rate is (normally) higher than 40%. I am fully capable of taking care of my family, paying for healthcare, and taxes.

    That does not mean government should not tax, and provide a series of benefits to help the poor and also to ensure fair and competitive markets. These items have been missing as of late (like the last 10 years).

    CTK, your getting taken to the cleaners for a 40% tax rate? OK, there are other lower tax rate environments to exploit. We are all free to leave. I LOVE CAPITALISM! But that does not mean that I don't value the government's role in ensuring my security, fair markets, and other services which no private entity could take care of.

    Healthcare has been rising at an unsustainable rate for far, far longer than the obesity epidemic. Moreover, Europe and Japan have lower obesity rates, but higher rates of smoking and drinking. Yet they have lower and more effective healthcare. Why is that? Healthcare is a right. Healthcare is necessary for a competitive economy. Healthcare is not a competitive industry, and cries out for massive government intervention.

  • Some Americans would benefit from some subsidies. Certainly the earned income tax credit has been a success. While we are talking about government subsidies, please feel free to include the wealthy. Subsidized farming (most are large corporations who benefit), implied guarantees on banking, tax deductions on debt (overwhelmingly benefits the wealthy), grants and wholesale giveaways of valuable government assets like patents, and subsidized infrastructure projects (like water and sewer) for McMansions. Shall I go on? I can you know. What an amazing double standard.

    High earners (and I'm talking about people who earn north of $500K per year, and in some cases much, much more)pay (or should pay) high taxes. But they benefit from the government and the American system. Now they need to pay their share. They need to because that's where the majority of the money is. Funny how that works. These people are (almost) by definition the leaders of our society. They certainly command its resources to their benefit.

  • So when the rich receive help or preference from the govt, it's exploitation, it's unfair, it's destroying the country.

    But when 32% of people filing taxes have a zero or negative tax bill, and nearly all of these people are at the lower end of the income spectrum, I'm sure you & BG view this as "progress" lol. "Poor people shouldn't have to pay for anything!" Their tax liabilities are lowered by behavioral subsidies like kid deductions, college loan interest deductions, hybrid car deductions yadda yadda. What's fair about THAT?

    And then there are people like me, who don't make $500K/yr, but have to pay taxes. Pls don't talk about what's "fair", the American tax system screws over half the country, while the other half gets screwed by special interest groups. All while our deficit grows out of control.

  • Our deficit grows out of control because the majority of voters consistently vote to keep taxes low while simultaneously keeping government services high. So voters want the services, but not to pay for them. I'm all for cutting spending (at some point in the near future but not right now), but also (moderately) higher taxes. There should be giving on both sides. After 30 years of lower taxes, reduced regulation, globalization, and capital re-allocation, it's time to go slightly in the other direction. Not alot. Just a little. Focus on those areas where the market clearly fails. I say that as a U of Chicago Economics School of thought believer.

    I'm sorry to hear that you believe the 68% who do pay positive taxes are treated unfairly. Wow, I just thought they were relatively prosperous. Certainly they are all entirely self-made and can start their own autonomous country and be just fine. And I'm sure we're all so grateful for their agreeing to pay taxes at all, given they can afford to. It's just sooo unfair. (an aside, I wish I had a dollar for every working poor individual who gets a tax deduction for driving a hybrid. I'd never have to work again.).

    The poor are (in general) obviously less capable of pulling themselves out of poverty and in need of education, perhaps welfare, and medical subsidies to stay affloat and improve themselves. Perhaps we should insist that they rely on the generousity of the wealthier classes and give up these government interventions in their lives. Would save alot of government spending. And the numbers who are able to improve their (financial) lot will be greatly diminished. Abolish public education. Abolish public health. Let's do that then. What a crowning vision for our future. Can't wait to live there.

  • ctk wrote: So when the rich receive help or preference from the govt, it's exploitation, it's unfair, it's destroying the country.

    I'm not sure if I'm the "you" in "you and BG", but I'm fine with infrastructure investment by the government, even if the rich benefit more from it. As you may recall, I remain annoyed that the stimulus funding largely funded continuations of current programs, and lacked greater attention to infrastructure issues. As a result, I fear we may have just postponed the pain ....when we could have actually mitigated the pain.

    While I'm certainly all for police officers, health care worker and teachers continuing to do their vital work, a big part of me wonders if the "lack of disruption" in their employment caused the public to continue to believe that these services are somehow provided magically free by the government.

    Oh, how I would love for people to see that when taxes fall, so do services. I believe such situations would cause the public to --among other things-- value these services to the degree that they would be willing to pay for them. Presently we just seem to pass these costs on to the next generation via debt.

    As mentioned above, you (CTK) seem to speak about the rich and others who pay taxes as if you are endangered species. This perplexes me. ...the wealthy seem to be doing quite ok despite the poor allegedly getting a free ride.

    While I paint a sympathetic picture of an Ohio carpenter and wonder out loud whether there will remain enough incentives for him (and others) to improve their skill set given the opportunities available, I also worry about their ongoing faith in our country.

    ....Huge wage gaps are bad for morale and civic participation.

    ....History has shown that "let them eat cake" doesn't go over well.

    I think there are a lot of things that our government could be doing help the US remain in the world sphere, that it does not. ....this is not just a matter of helping specific economic classes, and pitting one class against another.

    As ramble on this thread and others, I also worry about the country, as it is represented by the GDP and the trade deficit, and the national debt. ...is it your agenda to only talk about social classes, as if their is no concept of "Nation" that bonds us?

    ....if so (as one poster pointed out), those with the means may very well leave the country, and we will be in even worse trouble.

  • This conversation is growing a bit too complex to try to discuss over a message board. I got to talking about this with my gf last night and am much more able to express my thoughts clearly face to face. If you guys want, I'd be more than glad to meet up to talk about this over some beers.

    Basically what I think is, yes the rich are growing exponentially richer, but I still have yet to hear anything about how it's at the expense of the poor- especially considering that as the rich get richer, they pay more taxes into the programs that help the poor. Plus for w/e reason BG, natty etc seem to wholly discount all + any of the benefits the poor recieve- citing such statistics as "its x% likely that one will break free from poverty" or "there's a one in a x chance a poor person will get a job", w/o really examining how those statistics are formed (how do we know how much effort is being made by the poor to get out of poverty, on avg?)

    Plus there's this whole issue of entitlement... 100 years ago there were no social services whatsoever basically, and people were still breaking down our doors to get here. Even now in these economically depressed times, we have problems with keeping people out who come here and want to work, plus live a life & have kids on pay lower than minimum wage. And in any case, even w/that considered there's always gonna be unemployment & people out of work at some given point in time; there can't be opportunities for every single person.

    I think there are a lot of things that our government could be doing help the US remain in the world sphere, that it does not. ....this is not just a matter of helping specific economic classes, and pitting one class against another.

    As ramble on this thread and others, I also worry about the country, as it is represented by the GDP and the trade deficit, and the national debt. ...is it your agenda to only talk about social classes, as if their is no concept of "Nation" that bonds us?

    This resonates with me and I think ties into my stance. I don't want to demonize the poor, and I think it's goofy for Water Ice/natty (can I call you guys Natty Ice? :lol: ) to demonize the rich. Everyone seems to be grabbing for what they can w/o much regard for the country at large. But at the end of the day, a country of people who all work for (when capable) and get their fair share, and can compete on the global scale is a country headed for a long and prosperous course in the future. Squabbling over entitlements etc, ESPECIALLY when there are already so many out there, just seems counterproductive and silly when lumped together with how good the country "used to be".

    Again though I'm getting a bit lost here so I really would rather continue this in person

  • Some of the people participating in another thread

    http://brooklynian.com/forum/brooklyn-politics/split-topic-churches-and-morality-in-crown-heights/page/8#post-721491

    are getting together on

    Wed 1/26/10

    @ 7 PM

    @ Sapid on Washington Avenue for Indian food.

    I mention it here because I see the topics as very related, and believe in a "more the merrier" philosophy.

  • If BG will commit to coming, consider me there

  • Not sure how I feel about Indian food but I'm happy to meet up for beers at some point.

  • Yea I'm def gonna grab a patty or two before hand at that place on Flatbush

  • CTK, do you believe that am I not good looking enough to be an effective draw?

    That said, I'm 99% sure that BG is correct in stating that this Indian restaurant and beer do not go together.

    ....but I will be going regardless.

    http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/sapid-indian-restaurant/menu

  • Who's idea was the Indian restaurant? There are like, 37,000 other cuisines/bars available in the area. I was thinking more like Weather Up or something.

  • Indian was my idea.

    ....I figured if we are going to resolve religion and morality in 2 hours, we should be sober and able to hear each other ....that, and the fact the place is yummy and inexpensive.

  • >>We now return to our regularly scheduled programming <<

    anyone stlll have the energy to read and comment on the following?

    http://www.gothamgazette.com/article/Economy/20110118/21/3452

  • Like I said before, the rise in wealth at the top is mainly due to policy, not some conspiracy to milk the poor.

    I think an examination of how to bring growth to the other 99% would be good, but I think assigning blame to the rich for making themselves richer is unfair. There's no connection. The blame should go to whoever initiated these policies- the very gov't ppl are looking for to save them.

  • "mainly due to policy"

    aren't we talking about a lack of policies?

    As a result of letting the market be as free as we have, haven't we created an environment in which wealth is becoming increasing concentrated?

    As I asked above, at what level does the concentration of wealth become a problem?

    Surely you agree there is a level that would be problematic.....

  • I think there has been a lot of policy that has unfairly helped the rich (i.e. corporate welfare). However, those policies didn't necessarily hurt the poor or middle class (for example, there are normal folks who profited from the crazy US takeover of various "companies" by betting on or against their stocks at the right time).

    Plus bear in mind, money talks, unfortunately. Even if we enacted a plan to redistribute half the wealth of the top 1%, that top 1% would still hold the bulk of the wealth, along with the various connections & opportunities that come with it. Let's not forget America's history of slavery, monopolies, yadda yadda.... even in the "good old days" of 90% federal taxes the rich still wielded a disproportionate amount of power. That's the power of being rich!

    I think the more fruitful effort is to ensure that during periods of prosperity the growth is distributed equitably across income lines, that one group's growth doesn't happen at the expense of the other, and that efforts are made to bring those out of the 1st world in America into it in some meaningful way.

  • Let's assume that rich keep getting richer, and the wealth of the other classes continues to decrease.

    (lots of data out there says that the real wages of the middle class and the lower classes have been falling for quite sometime).

    At some point, they are going to get pissed and look for someone to blame.

    Isn't is logical to think that they are going to blame the rich? ....regardless of whether a macro trend (such as over population or globalization) is to blame?

    Shouldn't the rich share their wealth to prevent one of the poor from getting a job as their security guards and then shooting them dead?

    ....note: this wouldn't be out of any generosity or altruism by the rich, it would simply be a way to preserve their safety.

    (all those African countries come to mind...)

  • I think we have a long way to go before that point. I mean, the reason for much of the uprising that occurs in Africa is due to outright blatant theft. Countries like the US send billions of $$$ in aid, and rather than it going to the people who need it, it goes to the dictators and warlords running the country. That's a deep topic in itself but right now I just don't see that happening to the US. People here for the most part have means to sustain themselves, as well as guns etc.

    Plus I keep coming back to the fact that middle + lower class Americans don't save + aren't good w/the "little" money we have. I find a wild array of #'s, but I'm gonna pick the # from this site:

    http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/credit-card-industry-facts-personal-debt-statistics-1276.php

    As of March 2010, the average household has about $15,000 in credit card debt. W/an avg APR of 10-13% that's like a minimum payment of about $300... $3600/yr after taxes, or about $4500/yr before taxes.... a good 10% of the avg American household's income. And that's not even counting the late fees and overdraft charges that really pad the banks' coffers. CC debt is especially a problem for black people, which indicates, depressingly, that poor people hold a lot of debt. So if we want to talk about where a lot of poor people's wealth is going (voluntarily!) CC debt is a good place to start.

    I understand things happen, but an avg of $15,000 worth of things happening for everybody? I think poor people just learning money management alone would help tremendously. Like I said it makes no sense to raise entitlements when the people receiving them have shown they cannot do right w/the resources they already get. And that's no indictment of them; if you don't know you don't know; I blame schools for not teaching simple personal budgeting & the effects of bad money management, and CC companies for basically forcing themselves on customers without informing them of the possible pitfalls. Still though, people should know what the fuck they're doing.

    And I think things have been occurring to correct this, which is good. But yea that's a biggie.

  • Plus bear in mind not all households have CC debt. 54 million have debt out of the 110 million or so in the US. I can't find a graphic of any kind of debt distribution vs income, but I BET there's an inverse relationship between household debt and household wealth. Is the price of "keeping up with the Kardashians" really worth it?

  • Because I completely agree with you that that people's own habits (especially being financially foolish) tend to keep a lot them poor, I will not comment on that aspect of your last two posts.

    I, do however, continue be stuck on my "there will come a point in which the wealthy will need to redistribute income for their own good" thoughts.

    CTK wrote: I think we have a long way to go before that point. I mean, the reason for much of the uprising that occurs in Africa is due to outright blatant theft. Countries like the US send billions of $$$ in aid, and rather than it going to the people who need it, it goes to the dictators and warlords running the country. That's a deep topic in itself but right now I just don't see that happening to the US. People here for the most part have means to sustain themselves, as well as guns etc.

    Folks who do study criminal behavior, psychology and political science argue that it is often the subjective perception of "unfairness" that causes people to rise up and grab someone's Iphone or be part of crowd that surrounds a mansion/castle while armed.

    While I agree that taxing the nation's most successful until they leave the country is self-defeating, the impatient, violent people do have a way meeting each other, and occasionally get along well enough to generate some really good news footage on BBC.

    During the late 80s and early 90s, a lot this footage came out of Central America.

    Because I was merely a younger version of the guy I am now, I traveled to El Salvador with a group of economics majors in 1992 to see what all of the fuss was about, and participate in hypothetical discussions of how "we would develop the country" ......all while consuming copious amounts of the country's products: coffee, tropical fruit and marijuana.

    --to be continued---

    Btw, don't worry, I am remaining on topic.

  • Well that perception of fairness concept ties right back into what people feel they're owed. In 3rd world countries the connections between the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer are pretty clear. Americans however have shown that they feel entitled to a lot of things they really aren't entitled to.

    I mean I was just listening to a podcast about a chick who is suing Walmart because she walked into one of their glass doors. "WALMART OWES ME!" I know people who have made their living doing time card scams at places like McDonalds etc. People on public assistance w/flat screen TVs and expensive clothes. So IMO it makes no sense to talk about wealth redistribution when many of those looking to gain will be spending that new money on things that are unnecessary. America in general needs to recalibrate its standard of living to match our actual needs & output.

  • You have just saved me much typing.

    Basically, what I was going to say was:

    Here I'd gone down to El Salvador just following a drawn out civil war over class issues, and was expecting to see Che's point of view.

    But I didn't.

    Instead, I saw a bunch of poor, uneducated farmers who were growing things that could be grown by anyone in the region for just as cheaply.

    While being driven around by a tour guide who sympathized with the peasants, I was told "Over the past few days we have seen how the poor live in my country, Today, we are going drive through one of the neighborhoods of oppressors."

    However, while I expected to get a drive through Scarsdale, I instead got a tour of Levittown!

    Because there were no "truly wealthy" in the country, the poor hated those people who sold their products to United Fruit and the coffee producers: Mid-level people who earned the equivalent of 50k in today's dollars, and had scraped together enough to get a house with a functioning toilet and perhaps air conditioning.

    Yet, to them, this represented extreme wealth. ....they afterall, were working 12 hours a day, living in huts, and (except in cases where US AID had educated them about "germs" enough to dig a well!) drinking from streams that were also sewers.

    I large part me thought: "At this moment, I am not seeing oppression. At this moment, the ruling party is not shooting these people in the streets. At this moment, giving these people money would help very little. These people are completely illiterate and need education. These people need someone to dig them a well. These people need tractors and the skills to repair them. The age of the water buffalo is over, and these people got left behind."

    "The ruling party is trying to move the country into the modern age, and doesn't seem to be living particularly extravagantly as it does so. These "rich people" are the only ones bringing any new money into this economy"

    Yet I also understood the poor's point of view: They wanted what others had. They wanted what they felt they "deserved".

    ....and all the little supply and demand charts in the world, and macro economic classes in world weren't going to make them change their minds.

    And if "land and wealth redistribution" didn't happen quickly, the poor were clearly going to send the country into another era of completely self-defeating civil war.

    To make a long story short: I concluded that the "rich Levittown residents" were completely screwed. As a result of their ability to figure out how to escape the slums, they would always be hated, and the poor majority was going to consistently vote in a way that kept the country stuck.

    Moral of the story:

    In a democracy, the rich had better figure out a way to appease the poor.

    ....even if the poor deserve to be poor, and play a marginal role producing products of little value.

    As I see it, if things get worse the wealthy of the US can either dismantle our democracy [With the help of the US and under Ronald Reagan the ARENA party systematically attempted this]

    .

    .

    OR

    .

    .

    .

    throw the other classes some carrots (like health care, etc.) to keep them quiet.

    ------------------------------------------

    Currently in the US, the poor are doing the exact opposite of the above.

    Instead of blaming the rich, they are blaming immigrants.

    Somehow America's native born believe that they are exempt from world economics, and that somehow "Jose" is to blame because he will work for less (and perhaps harder) than them.

    .....of course, it makes no sense.

    Perhaps after a while they will get their acts together, and to blame people whom they believe to be evil and rich.

    .....barring things like slavery, that will make no sense either.

  • The poor are blaming the rich too, make no doubt about it.

    You might be right. In the long run subsidizing the costs of living for a segment of the population might be beneficial. The problems arise when people start wanting more. I am still hung up on BG's claim that it's the gov'ts responsibility to ensure that everyone can afford to have and raise children. Once we start to create programs based on emotional appeals rather than what makes sense for the country, we are hopping onto a greased up sled headed down a slippery slope. That's why I try to rationalize everything I believe to some degree. I'd love for everyone to have everything they ever wanted and needed, but reality won't let that happen.

    And I also agree that there's definitely an element of, dare I say, jealousy, for lack of a better word, that is behind these entitlements. Couple that with an absolution of responsibility and you have a pretty flawed logical basis for analyzing what can be and needs to be done about poverty in America.

  • Correct: None of the social classes in america speak with one voice.

    ....all attribute different factors for their success or failure.

    It is quite annoying to hear the rich speak of their status as if no one else helped them get all of that money, and they somehow have a skill set that warrants annual pay of 20 million.

    Other rich will admit they were simply in the right place at the right time.

    Still other rich know that they are able to profit because of miserable working conditions and low pay in other countries, and even seem to feel some genuine guilt about benefitting from it ....often expressed by a donation to the country they have plants in.

    I want BG to comment on my El Salvador trip.

  • Some rich people... sorry, "rich" people really did make their own way. My dad went from living in a shanty w/illiterate parents to having a successful private medical practice in NYC. Is it his fault that the poor + middle class haven't seen the same gains in income that he might have? He has used his position to put all his kids through college, bring family over from Ghana and make a lot of investments & provide help back home. So what about people like him, who are self-made, helping as they can and not exploiting anybody? I'd bet most "rich" people are more like him and less like Gordon Gekko, but to BG that is of no consequence as they have more than others, and regardless of how they got where they are do not deserve all they have. It's silly

  • Not sure what you want me to say.

    I think health care needs to be massively reformed. I think minimum wage needs to be almost doubled. I think executive pay needs to be tethered to the lowest paid worker. I think there needs to be a new bracket for the super rich. I think we need to dramatically cut defense spending.

  • I think the difference between the liberal and conservative arguments here can be summed up as - If you are a liberal, you believe that the "government" should give the poor what they WANT and the conservative believes that the "government" should give you what you NEED. There is a vast gap in the WANTS to NEEDS and there is a greater gap of determining how to fund the difference. There is also a large gap in the concept of decisions and consequences. Being a FISCAL conservative, I chose to limit my spending - and TRY to save a crumb or two for retirement. But should I be penalized (via higher taxes) for this decision? Should the decision to have children be subsidized by those who opted NOT to do so?

    We all argue for freedom in our choices, but rarely do we correlate that freedom with the consequences of those choices.

    CTK states that in the long run subsidizing the costs of living for a segment of the population might be beneficial. I believe this has been the going concept since the Johnson administration. The problems of poverty have not been eliminated (nor reduced) despite increased spending by each consecutive administration (both republican and democrat). I think it is well past time that we look to grass root solutions (someone mentioned trade training?) and the concept of responsibility. It is NOT the government's responsibility to ensure that everyone has everything they want (from children to home ownership).

    65 years of encouraged conspicuous consumption (via all media bombardment) has created the notion that immediate gratification is everyone's right - regardless of abilities or resources.

  • I'd bet most "rich" people are more like him and less like Gordon Gekko,

    and I'd "bet" the exact opposite. Hmmm.



    but to BG that is of no consequence as they have more than others, and regardless of how they got where they are do not deserve all they have. It's silly

    just skip your dumbass and false generalizations, ok? it wastes precious server space.

  • If you are a liberal, you believe that the "government" should give the poor what they WANT and the conservative believes that the "government" should give you what you NEED.

    I think is a somewhat unhelpful generalization.

    I think our *society* needs to do better giving people opportunities to get out of poverty.

    I do not think the government should buy everyone luxury cars or an HDTV.

  • As most generalizations are. But the problem is that if the poor are simply provided subsidies with no education or training on how to manage limited resources, those resources may very well be wasted (at the very least utilized imprudently). Perhaps it is a bit naive to think if the poor are provided with TOOLS to pull themselves out of poverty they may do so. You refer to opportunities - again, I do not grasp what those may be. The creation of illusory jobs?

  • BG-

    I want you to comment on my trip to El Salvador 20 years ago because many of the poor in America are similar to the uneducated peasants I wrote about.

    ...what they produce isn't worth a lot in the world economy, and I question whether paying them more to pursue it via the same outdated "methods of production" with their water buffalo is going to help anyone.

    Not to be cruel, but we've all read Brave New World, by Huxley right?

    ....at some level doesn't there need to be poor so that there can be rich?

    Doesn't the efficiency gains from the whole "capitalist - free trade", "pareto optimality" madness allow us to feed the 7 BILLION people we will now have on earth?

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&biw=1680&bih=914&q=pareto+optimal+definition&aq=4&aqi=g10&aql=&oq=pareto+o

    Barring some massive disease outbreak, do we have any choice BUT to pursue those gains?

    When we pay domestic people more than they are worth, aren't we foregoing some of the potential gains of such trade ?

    ....i.e. While the individuals that receive the protection benefit, we as a country are slightly more worse off.

    ....likewise, when we allow someone to amass $20 billion, aren't we missing out resources we could use to drop birth control from planes?

    CTK-

    Your dad has my total respect. We should have a tax system that makes sure others like him continue to work 12 hour days in order to succeed.

    Domino-

    I agree, but still want some protections for those at the absolute bottom of the scale who are "worthy". ...especially the kids.

  • @Domino

    "if the poor are simply provided subsidies..."

    I never argued this. I'll recap for you.

    For starters:

    I think health care needs to be massively reformed. I think minimum wage needs to be almost doubled. I think executive pay needs to be tethered to the lowest paid worker. I think there needs to be a new bracket for the super rich. I think we need to dramatically cut defense spending.

    @WN31

    ....at some level doesn't there need to be poor so that their can be rich?

    Probably, I haven't spent enough of my life reading economic treatises. But there's poor and then there's poor.

    I am suggesting, as a very rough beginning baseline, that if you work full time for minimum wage, you should be able to afford to have kids, and not be threatened with bankruptcy if you get sick or injured.

    Minimum wage isn't $6-whatever b/c of some all-knowing free market process. That's what it is b/c that's the lowest that business lobbyists could get our "representatives" in congress to agree to. Similar to how executives aren't paid $20M a year or whatever b/c that's what the glorious unfettered (except when aided by government giveaways) market dictates, but actually b/c that's what the CEOs are able to convince the boards (who strangely consist of other CEOs) to pay them.

    I am not arguing socialism. I am not arguing communism.

    I am arguing that what we accept today as "acceptable quality of life" for our poorest workers is inadequate to say the least.

    Our society can do better. It won't bankrupt us. It won't change the almightly American Way. In fact it might, just might, make us stronger and more competitive.



  • and I'd "bet" the exact opposite. Hmmm.

    How many rich people do you know?



    just skip your dumbass and false generalizations, ok? it wastes precious server space.

    You continually demonize the rich & make hapless victims out of the poor, and don't really explain why....

    I do not think the government should buy everyone luxury cars or an HDTV.

    What do you think they are doing by enabling people on welfare to take cash out of their EBT cards? What do you think would happen if we were to "pay more" for poor people w/o addressing the underlying causes of poverty cycles?

  • How many rich people do you know?

    Dude, if you knew where I was from and where most of my friends work. Let me just put it this way, I'll be surprised if you know more bankers than I do.

    You continually demonize the rich & make hapless victims out of the poor, and don't really explain why....

    Nope, that's just how you read it because you're defensive and you refuse to ask pointed questions.

    We've been over this about 800 times. I will defend any claim I make. I am purposely thoughtful with my words.

    What do you think would happen if we were to "pay more" for poor people w/o addressing the underlying causes of poverty cycles?

    Who said anything about no addressing that? Oh wait, that's another one of your useless assumptions about my viewpoint.

  • In very many parts of this country, you CAN work full time for minimum wage AND afford to have kids. Unfortunately, the DECISION to live in one of the most expensive areas in the country limits your ability to live on minimum wage. Even further limits the OPTION of having children. Again, why should these DECISIONS be subsidized?

    I fully agree that MANY executives are barely worth the price of a MetroCard - especially given the poor decisions which have contributed to the financial meltdown (wasn't it some bonehead at Merrill Lynch that deflated the MBS portfolio to the tune of $20MM still got a $1M+ bonus?). But a barely literate rude retail clerk is also not worthy of $90K per year.

    By arguing for an increased minimum wage, you are merely asking that the subsidy come from private industry rather than the government. Increases in wages should be commensurate with increases in skill and performance (take THAT Teachers Union). Since corporations exist FOR PROFIT, low skill jobs will be outsourced to cheaper comparable unskilled labor.

    If more shareholders voted (a familiar chord) against the CEOs and booted them off for poor performance, perhaps the concept of RESPONSIBILITY and CONSEQUENCES would be enforced.

  • Please. Where in this country can you make $15,000 a year (minimum wage) and not be absolutely scraping by?

    you are merely asking that the subsidy come from private industry rather than the government

    This is an entirely relative statement. Your starting point presupposes that absolute maximum corporate profit is the most important factor in society.

    It's not.

    If our corporate structure means that minimum wage HAS to be $15,000 a year in order for us to be functional, then we need to do better, as a society.

  • I my haste, I forgot to ask what OPPORTUNITIES can be provided to those that are poverty stricken?

    I am fully in support of developing the TOOLS/SKILLS to reduce poverty, not continue providing CRUTCHES that only serve to perpetuate it.

  • domino wrote: In very many parts of this country, you CAN work full time for minimum wage AND afford to have kids. Unfortunately, the DECISION to live in one of the most expensive areas in the country limits your ability to live on minimum wage. Even further limits the OPTION of having children. Again, why should these DECISIONS be subsidized?

    In an attempt to avoid this conversation, I made my carpenter be childless and live in Ohio.

    ...I agree with you that poor's choices about where they live and whether to have children should involve me much less than they do presently.

    He isn't doing anything to "keep himself poor"

    He works pretty hard.

    He's pretty smart.

    He shows up on time everyday and can make built-in bookshelves with the best of them.....

    He knows how do do more than put seeds in the ground and then have water buffalo pull a plow.

    Besides trade schools, what should be available to this guy?

    health insurance?

    a low interest loan so he can buy a small apartment?

    a low interest loan from the federal small business association so he can launch a small cabinet building business?

  • As for the commentary that where can you live for $15,000/year and absolutely not just scrape by -

    Look to the vast majority of retirees living in Brooklyn. Many earn less than $1,200 per month. They may own their own homes (due to having worked hard and paid their mortgages - yet still continue to pay real estate taxes in excess of $3,000 per year) or have some rents that are subsidized, but manage to live within the progrma of social security.

    As for home ownership - it is a privilege, not a right. A low interest low although may provide the buyer with a home, has repercussion upon the rest of society. He is asking society to subsidize his WANT (ownership) as opposed to having his NEED (shelter - renting an apartment) met. Often to the cost/detriment of other members of society.

    A low interest loan from the small business association is subsidized by the taxes paid - the less people paying little to no taxes further erodes this functionality. Additionally, should the business succeed, although the loan is repaid (in most cases, not) its not the taxpayers who share in the equity or profits (apart from the taxes the business pays).

    Should the retirees look for a waiver of their real estate taxes (STAR program of $400 per year has been eliminated which is a mere dent in the $3,000 annual tax bill anyway)? Even this small discount further erodes the tax base for municipal program funding (free school lunches and breakfasts for children). SO who should bear the burden - those retirees making less than $15,000 per year? Shouldn't the parents of these children bear some of the burden? If both parents earn $15,000 per year, while they would not be wealthy by any stretch, would be in much better circumstances than those earning a total household income of $14,000 (further reduced by $3,000).

    While we do need carpenters, especially talented ones, unfortunately there is a cyclical demand. During housing and renovations booms I am sure the carpenter can appreciate higher demand (probably higher income). During lean times, carpenters (like many other craft and tradesmen) face decreased demand.

    The

  • BG and CTK-

    It is your turn. Please state what, if anything, you would do to help the previously described carpenter.

    Besides trade schools, what should be available to this guy?

    health insurance?

    a low interest loan so he can buy a small apartment?

    a low interest loan from the federal small business association so he can launch a small cabinet building business?

  • I'm happy to answer but it's not quite clear what problem he faces. Just the general problem of trying to live on $15,000/yr?

  • I was imagining him as living off 40k in really good years, and 10k in bad ones. This year is a bad one.

    I also imagined that he spent 1k out of pocket seeing MDs and taking prescriptions every year to "not have kidney stones".

    ....but 4k in the years in which he ended up with kidney stones anyway.

    His other major expenses are his apartment, his 10 year old pick up truck, food, and new blades for his saws.

    He doesn't have much luck with the women, so he gets off pretty cheap there. :)

  • So what's the question? I'm stil lost

  • I think the issue of people who had careers in dying industries is tough and prob beyond the scope of this discussion.

    I think opportunities & programs should be made available to the poor to help them become more self-sufficient, but to work in the hopes that everyone will make a minimum of $50K/year while keeping the prices of goods the same w/o gov't subsidies is unrealistic. We have to come to grips w/the fact that there are gonna be people in this country living on $15K/yr and just do what we can to ensure they're not left in the cold. But eliminating poverty completely is totally unreaslistic, and if the programs we create can't boost this carpenter's income (as that's really what it comes down to right?) what more can we do?

  • I was trying to see whether any us would provide government subsidized health insurance to the carpenter.

    Needless to say, if you asked the carpenter if he wanted government health insurance ....he'd likely say "sure, as long as it doesn't cost me more than 6k over a three period"

    currently he spends the following:

    yr 1: 1k

    yr 2: 1 k

    yr 3: 1k + 3k for ER visit

    total 6k.

    He'd be willing to spend 2k a yr for health insurance as a result.

    Should we (aka the government) provide it to him for this cost? That is all he is willing to pay.

    Should we give it to him free in the years that his income is lousy?

  • The infra-structure of this entire country is deteriorating at a rate which was unanticipated (higher volume of traffic, more pollutants) and financial belt tightening has postponed long overdue maintenance and repairs. To repair a bridge or tunnel is vastly cheaper than erecting a new replacement. I propose that a WPA type program be made available to the unemployed/under-employed (I KNOW I am going to get flack from all the union supporters but frankly the need for unions is long gone). Craftsmen and tradesmen would benefit the most.

    If the project was in a higher priced real estate market, a differential would be provided for the cost of housing. Similar to the Section concept.

    Again, as to the purchase of an apartment - ownership is a privilege, not a right. Also, if this person is in dire straits, where is the down payment and closing costs coming from? Back to rental.

    Low cost business loans - to some degree I could agree to this but with certain strings. Unskilled workers be hired from the unemployment rolls. If the job is not taken, for reasons other than inability, that person has now forfeited unemployment.

  • BG stated that maximum corporate profit is the most important factor in society. It's not. But it is definitely critical to maintaining a corporate tax base within New York to subsidize what would be exorbitant taxes. Leading to more flight of those able to flee.

    "If our corporate structure means that minimum wage HAS to be $15,000 a year in order for us to be functional, then we need to do better, as a society."

    Yes but we also have to resume functioning as a true society. Last time I checked, generally TWO people produced a child. At minimum wage, that equals $30K. There was also familial support and charitable organizations which would also provide support should one parent become incapacitated. I certainly remember rent parties and funeral envelopes as a child. Also round robin baby-sitting by moms.

    Society seemed to function a bit better BEFORE everyone started to focus on "finding one's self"

  • Well the round robin deal is dead as moms have to work to pay NYC rent. And to BG's credit, in NYC at least, COL is high as fuck, and leaving the area is tough when you have no skills. But ultimately if u can't afford to live here, u can't afford to live here. Perhaps relocation programs for the under or unemployed might be something to consider.

  • In recent years, several of my close friends have relocated to North Carolina/South Carolina for various reasons. One went to Florida. The COL down south is so different from here - two of the couples who left are no longer two income families(by need here); the moms have opted to stay at home and be full time moms. Neither dad makes close to $90K. Their skills? Sales. Go figure.

    BTW, there was a huge demand for carpenters in the area since much of the housing needed renovation. Cost of 3 bedroom home near Charlotte? $180K. Taxes? Pittance (less than $1K).

  • rent parties?

    just don't be a single parent?

    jesus h christ.

  • Perhaps we should focus on "what (if anything) should we do with the situation we have?"

    i.e. Like it or not, we have large numbers of families headed by one parent who are unable to afford market rate housing and food.

    We presently respond with food stamps and subsidized housing.

    ....I do believe HRA will still give people a bus ticket to another state if they state they could live with a family member (say, in North Carolina), yet simply lack the funds to go there.

    Needless to say, NY can not simply give out bus tickets to other states without being able to demonstrate that they would have housing upon their arrival. ...such regulations prevent "war" between the states.

  • I don't understand why the means of raising kids is a right. Not being able to afford having a kid is and should be a reality. I want to have kids w/my gf now, but we are holding off... because right now we can't afford it, at least in the way that we want. The concept of holding my hands out to the gov't for help to take care of my kid is asinine to me; makes more sense for EVERYBODY to PLAN and make the necessary adjustments they have to in order to raise their kids right (which in my case is moving down south eventually).

    Do I want to raise my kids in NYC? Of course, I love it, this is my favorite place. But is the gov't entitled to ensure that I'm able to? NO, and I think such thinking is not even worth entertaining. If you can't take care of a kid, you shouldn't have one. Period.

    NYC does have a serious problem on its hands though as young people just can't afford to stay here long; but again the answer doesn't and shouldn't lie in subsidies or artificial labor pricing or w/e, but rather in creative programs that are a simultaneous compromise and benefit for everyone involved. Bloomberg and his idea of a luxury city has moved forward a few while setting most of us back as far as owning property & such goes... but when the effects of dude's work come to light the city will pull the necessary strings to fix the problem and make living affordable (if not then, maybe sooner).

This discussion has been closed.