Entitlement and Welfare Spending Catch-all

MacBrave wrote:

As opposed to the liberal wet dream of having everybody dependent on the federal government for a substantial portion of their well being; be it housing, food, etc.? I would like to know how that would work when only 5% of the citizens are having to pay to support the other 95%. Just raise their taxes some more I guess.

I have not seen any discussion here or anywhere from even the most left wing liberal that would indicate this some sort of goal or dream. What I see are liberals "dreaming" of is a better safety net for those in poverty, slightly to moderately raising taxes for people making over $250,000, and a health care system that is less likely to bankrupt a middle class (and below) family.

MacBrave wrote:
OG_slinger wrote:

Let's look at the numbers. Nearly 12% of Clinton County is below the poverty line. What are you going to do when nearly 4,000 residents get their government aid cut off and no longer have any money coming in to buy necessities, feed their children, or make sure they have a roof over their heads? Are you going to institute Depression Era laws where every jobless person has to be out of town before the sun goes down? Are you going to turn a blind eye to the shanty towns that will pop up? Or are you just going to organize "citizen groups" to chase the unwanted out of town?

Then there's the children. More than 20% of the children under 18 in the county, some 2,000 of them, are living in poverty. How are you going to cut off the benefits of their parents without impacting them? Are you going to have the government swoop in and take custody all 2,000 of them? Are you going to have the government give the minors the benefits directly and then monitor the families to make sure that the parent doesn't eat any of the food bought with government assistance? What am I thinking? Those parents would have to move out of the government subsidized housing. Can't give those deadbeats an inch, you know?

Hyperbole. *yawn*

Uh. What? His numbers look correct to me. According to the U.S. Census, 13.3% of the population of Clinton County was below the poverty line from 2006-2010. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 17.5% of children from birth to the age of 17 were living in poverty in 2009.

Where is the hyperbole here? In the rhetorical question about how to handle the problem?

The problem remains.

What I see are liberals "dreaming" of is a better safety net for those in poverty, slightly to moderately raising taxes for people making over $250,000, and a health care system that is less likely to bankrupt a middle class (and below) family.

Only the current administration has completely abandoned the Clinton strategy of welfare reform and will fight any common sense reforms tooth-and-nail. Here's a good editorial about a vote coming up in the House about making what should be no-brainer decisions about saving money on entitlement programs that wouldn't mean a significant loss of services. But the Democrats want to take all the cuts out of defense by cutting programs that the Joint Chiefs of Staff all agree will severely hamper national defense.

http://www.nationalreview.com/articl...

Next week, the House will vote on a proposal to forestall these cuts (along with scheduled cuts to some domestic programs). The proposal would restore the first year’s portion of the decade-long sequester, some $78 billion in defense and other spending, and would offset those expenditures within three years with reductions to various domestic programs that ultimately add up to $260 billion over the next decade.

Predictably, groups on the left have assailed the proposed cuts in domestic spending. “House Republicans,” one such criticism begins, “are asking low- and middle-income families to sacrifice health care and basic services to preserve redundant defense systems.” Specifically, they accuse Republicans of wanting to:

“slash funding for child and elder abuse prevention, Meals on Wheels, and foster care.”

“raise taxes on the families of 5.5 million low-income children,” and

“force hundreds of thousands of working families to forgo health coverage.”

Such carping completely misses the point. Politicians routinely say they will reduce spending by eliminating “waste, fraud, and abuse,” but rarely do they identify the specific steps they will take to achieve that goal. This plan identifies four areas where Obama-administration officials, often in cahoots with liberal welfare-advocacy groups, have expanded the boundaries of the welfare state well beyond what Congress intended when it passed the relevant laws.

Here are the reforms conservatives want:

1. Close state loopholes where food stamp applicants don't have to prove they qualify for foodstamps. Savings: $11.7 billion

2. Close the "heat and eat" loophole which allows states to expand eligibility for food stamps by up to $130 per month simply by sending a family a $1 check from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). (The program is aimed at families whose heating/cooling bills are included in their rent, rather than being paid directly. By paying families a token $1 of heating/cooling aid, the state qualifies them as “fuel assistance households,” which entitles them to increased food-stamp allowances.) Savings: $14.3 billion

3. Crack down on fraud of over-claiming for the child tax credit that exceeds one's overall tax liablity: Savings of 7.6 billion.

4. Eliminate healthcare subsidies which will be redundant when Obamacare takes effect: savings of $43.9 billion dollars.

jdzappa wrote:

3. Crack down on fraud of over-claiming for the child tax credit that exceeds one's overall tax liablity: Savings of 7.6 billion.

Yeah, I recently read about this scam: http://www.rightsidenews.com/2012051...

It is estimated that 2 million illegal immigrants are filing fraudulent tax returns each year and that they are pulling in more than 4 billion dollars in tax refunds every year that they are not entitled to.

They are doing this by abusing the additional child tax credit and the IRS knows all about it and yet they refuse to do anything to stop it. Illegal immigrants are filing tax returns that sometimes claim 10 or 12 nieces and nephews as dependents, and most of the time those nieces and nephews do not even live in the United States. So while you and I are being taxed into oblivion, many illegal immigrants are often pulling in tax refunds that are well into five figures. At a time when the federal government is absolutely drowning in debt, this is the type of fraud that desperately needs to be cracked down on, and yet the IRS refuses to take action.

jdzappa wrote:

Here's a good editorial about a vote coming up in the House

No, that's not a good editorial. That's a biased National Review article by a guy from the Heritage Foundation that reports:

Predictably, groups on the left have assailed the proposed cuts in domestic spending. “House Republicans,” one such criticism begins, “are asking low- and middle-income families to sacrifice health care and basic services to preserve redundant defense systems.”

the reality is:

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said Wednesday that the planned vote amounts to Republicans reneging on commitments made as part of the debt deal, which had envisioned the across-the-board cut as a consequence for Democrats and Republicans unable to reach a bipartisan deal on a better way to reduce the debt.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/politi...

That's deception. That's making you think there's some free-standing fight over guns and butter, and the evil democrats want to give the country away to welfare queens and border jumpers while the noble republicans want to keep us from speaking the Kaiser's German or something. It's an article that pulls this event completely out of context to get you, the reader, to come to a misinformed opinion.

Did I miss something in the article that mentioned the debt deal? Are they talking about the same vote? Maybe there's a good reason for the Republicans to go back on the debt deal. You know what though? Getting to that reason first requires us to know of the debt deal in the first place. Which you wouldn't know of at all if your only source for the facts of this issue was what you read in this editorial.

MacBrave wrote:

Yeah, I recently read about this scam: http://www.rightsidenews.com/2012051...

I could be wrong but that article has a fairly serious odor of bullsh*t about it.

NathanialG wrote:

I could be wrong but that article has a fairly serious odor of bullsh*t about it.

This.

4.2 billion amount and 2 million immigrants are the totals for ITINs claiming children. People with ITINs are allowed to claim qualified dependents, so it seems the journalist 'investigating' the story is either naive or disingenuous. And several conservative websites (including the one that was linked) seem eager to pick up the story and add their own "immigrants be taking all of our moneyz" bent to it.

jdzappa wrote:
What I see are liberals "dreaming" of is a better safety net for those in poverty, slightly to moderately raising taxes for people making over $250,000, and a health care system that is less likely to bankrupt a middle class (and below) family.

Only the current administration has completely abandoned the Clinton strategy of welfare reform and will fight any common sense reforms tooth-and-nail. Here's a good editorial about a vote coming up in the House about making what should be no-brainer decisions about saving money on entitlement programs that wouldn't mean a significant loss of services. But the Democrats want to take all the cuts out of defense by cutting programs that the Joint Chiefs of Staff all agree will severely hamper national defense.

http://www.nationalreview.com/articl...

I find any article to be dubious that starts out with an alarmist "Our national-security capabilities are set to implode next January." However, even if we are to take everything in the article as a fact, I 100% agree that this is a bad thing the democrats are doing. I just don't understand how this is a response my statements about the democrat's "dream".

From my point of view the republican dream is to have a smaller safety net that results in easier downward social mobility, health care that is only affordable to those who are wealthy, and as a result of these two things, lower taxes. I would hope that BOTH parties would recognize the importance of a social safety net and the issue of health care costs and the argument should only be about HOW we accomplish those goals. What I hear from the republican side is that we need a smaller safety net because those people don't deserve to be helped (or should just use their own non-existent bootstraps) and health care is expensive because of illegal immigrants, fat people, and again, those people who don't have jobs and don't deserved to be helped.

To me, this argument should be about going to a single payer health system, reductions to the military, and better means testing and fraud checks for welfare and Medicare/Medicaid. The republican argument I hear is all about being mad at those lazy people who don't work. There are lazy people are out there and they piss me off too, but again, go back to my picture from Bill Maher. We're arguing about the garnish on the plate. Not the main course.

MacBrave wrote:
OG_slinger wrote:

Let's look at the numbers. Nearly 12% of Clinton County is below the poverty line. What are you going to do when nearly 4,000 residents get their government aid cut off and no longer have any money coming in to buy necessities, feed their children, or make sure they have a roof over their heads? Are you going to institute Depression Era laws where every jobless person has to be out of town before the sun goes down? Are you going to turn a blind eye to the shanty towns that will pop up? Or are you just going to organize "citizen groups" to chase the unwanted out of town?

Then there's the children. More than 20% of the children under 18 in the county, some 2,000 of them, are living in poverty. How are you going to cut off the benefits of their parents without impacting them? Are you going to have the government swoop in and take custody all 2,000 of them? Are you going to have the government give the minors the benefits directly and then monitor the families to make sure that the parent doesn't eat any of the food bought with government assistance? What am I thinking? Those parents would have to move out of the government subsidized housing. Can't give those deadbeats an inch, you know?

Hyperbole. *yawn*

Nope. It's actually an accurate snapshot of the county you live in. Sorry, though. The web site uses that pesky Census data you don't like.

MacBrave wrote:

And I would like to know where in the hell I said all 4,000 of those residents were deadbeats. I've come to recognize the need for limited public assistance, it's those individuals and families that have come to rely on it, year after year after year that are the problem. How is the federal government breaking the cycle of generational poverty in this country? The most common remedy put forward is education, yet our piss poor government schools are not making the grade.

You are correct that you didn't specifically say all 4,000 of those residents were deadbeats. Instead, you implied it strongly, unless I'm misinterpreting the bolded part:

MacBrave wrote:

In my dealings with many of these poor individuals via various volunteer efforts I've been involved with in the 14 years that I've lived here it's clear that the poverty is not getting any better. Kids that I knew who grew up with parents on public assistance are now in your early-to-mid 20's. Lots of them now have kids, no job, and are living on the public dole, just like their parents did. Do you really think those parents, and now these young adults, really care about "getting ahead and giving their kids a better life?" No, most of them are content with living on some sort of public assistance for pretty much the rest of their lives. After all, if it was good enough for their parents shouldn't it be good enough for them?

Either way, my original questions stand about how you're going to strip away the government benefits from the deadbeats. All I have to do is add a question about how you're going to first figure out which residents are those deadbeats and which ones aren't. After that, you still need to address the questions I asked above.

And, yes, I'm being serious. Too many conservatives do nothing but spout simplistic political catchphrases. I'd like to see a true conservative solution to an actual problem. I especially like this situation because it's clear that doing something that would make the conservative in you feel good--cutting the benefits of hundreds, if not thousands, of your fellow residents--would also severely damage the local economy. It's one of those cutting off your nose just to spite your face moments.

I am wondering...how does free education, socialized medicine, and dare I say a proper pension program spell the downfall of society? I am fairly certain those are among the privatized parts of this country deteriorating the fastest?

I am trying to conceive of how a better educated, healthier population with less anxiety as to their winter years spells Planet of the Apes.

PoderOmega wrote:

I find any article to be dubious that starts out with an alarmist "Our national-security capabilities are set to implode next January."

It's absolutely ridiculous. At best you could say something like, "Our ability to quickly overrun any nation but a nuclear armed power will be reduced under the new budget." In fact, even that's not right. It would be something like, "Our ability to maintain military operations in 100 countries at one time while invading and occupying TWO OR THREE medium sized nations will be made more difficult."

We have, in essence, two of the world's largest, most powerful air forces air forces (the Air Force and the Navy/Marines aviation) and two of its largest, most powerful armies (the Army and the Marine Corps). It's nutso that Republicans expect to see the end of two occupations/wars and not realize a savings from it.

OG_slinger wrote:
MacBrave wrote:
OG_slinger wrote:

Let's look at the numbers. Nearly 12% of Clinton County is below the poverty line. What are you going to do when nearly 4,000 residents get their government aid cut off and no longer have any money coming in to buy necessities, feed their children, or make sure they have a roof over their heads? Are you going to institute Depression Era laws where every jobless person has to be out of town before the sun goes down? Are you going to turn a blind eye to the shanty towns that will pop up? Or are you just going to organize "citizen groups" to chase the unwanted out of town?

Then there's the children. More than 20% of the children under 18 in the county, some 2,000 of them, are living in poverty. How are you going to cut off the benefits of their parents without impacting them? Are you going to have the government swoop in and take custody all 2,000 of them? Are you going to have the government give the minors the benefits directly and then monitor the families to make sure that the parent doesn't eat any of the food bought with government assistance? What am I thinking? Those parents would have to move out of the government subsidized housing. Can't give those deadbeats an inch, you know?

Hyperbole. *yawn*

Nope. It's actually an accurate snapshot of the county you live in. Sorry, though. The web site uses that pesky Census data you don't like.

MacBrave wrote:

And I would like to know where in the hell I said all 4,000 of those residents were deadbeats. I've come to recognize the need for limited public assistance, it's those individuals and families that have come to rely on it, year after year after year that are the problem. How is the federal government breaking the cycle of generational poverty in this country? The most common remedy put forward is education, yet our piss poor government schools are not making the grade.

You are correct that you didn't specifically say all 4,000 of those residents were deadbeats. Instead, you implied it strongly, unless I'm misinterpreting the bolded part:

MacBrave wrote:

In my dealings with many of these poor individuals via various volunteer efforts I've been involved with in the 14 years that I've lived here it's clear that the poverty is not getting any better. Kids that I knew who grew up with parents on public assistance are now in your early-to-mid 20's. Lots of them now have kids, no job, and are living on the public dole, just like their parents did. Do you really think those parents, and now these young adults, really care about "getting ahead and giving their kids a better life?" No, most of them are content with living on some sort of public assistance for pretty much the rest of their lives. After all, if it was good enough for their parents shouldn't it be good enough for them?

Either way, my original questions stand about how you're going to strip away the government benefits from the deadbeats. All I have to do is add a question about how you're going to first figure out which residents are those deadbeats and which ones aren't. After that, you still need to address the questions I asked above.

And, yes, I'm being serious. Too many conservatives do nothing but spout simplistic political catchphrases. I'd like to see a true conservative solution to an actual problem. I especially like this situation because it's clear that doing something that would make the conservative in you feel good--cutting the benefits of hundreds, if not thousands, of your fellow residents--would also severely damage the local economy. It's one of those cutting off your nose just to spite your face moments.

You are right OG, and I am wrong. How could I be so disillusioned.

Sorry for trying to add anything to this discussion. I'll go back to playing Diablo 3 now.

MacBrave wrote:

You are right OG, and I am wrong. How could I be so disillusioned.

Sorry for trying to add anything to this discussion. I'll go back to playing Diablo 3 now.

While his tone may have been more confrontational than was needed, I do think OG raised some legitimate questions about the position you're staking out.

You are, of course, free not to respond - but that doesn't mean his questions have no merit.

This is the entire speech excerpted in the above video (from Obama's June 11, 2011 radio address).

The context makes it abundantly clear that Obama is not arguing that Americans shouldn't aspire any higher than that, but that he's making the case that American's aren't looking for a free ride, and don't feel entitled to luxury - that they're willing to work hard and live within their means, and really just want to be able to provide for their families, at the end of the day.

It's very odd to hear Adam Curry & John Dvorak get so heated about the billions spent (and lost / unaccounted for, even) in Iraq, since that really occurred during the previous administration. Is it safe to assume that Curry & Dvorak were equally livid about the Bush administration's spending on those wars, and ardently support the US withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan the Obama administration has been working towards?

[Edit to add on-topic: there are things that private industry does better than government. There are also things the government does better than private industry. Neither is inherently a panacea. Robear's already ably debunked that the myth of inherent government inefficiency upthread, and his point that the US Government is the biggest donor to Catholic Charities USA shows that the division between "government welfare" and "private charity" is not as clear-cut as the thread title might imply.]

[Days-later edit to add: the original thread title was "Government Welfare vs. Private Charities: Fight!". It's since been edited. I agree that it's moving the goalposts to do this, but given the points Robear already made, I think the "private charity is inherently better / more efficient" line of argument was pretty much impossible to continue.]

It would have been good to see a conservative proposal for dealing with the situation. How would conservatives break the cycle of poverty?

MacBrave wrote:

Agreed. A small example which sticks in my mind is when I was in college co-oping for the department of defense at a military installation, working in their I.T. department. One day in early September he came to me and said "Do you want to work some overtime on the weekends between now and Oct. 1st?" I answered that my current project and workload really didn't seem to justify me working overtime. His response was "That's Ok, work it anyway. I need to use up this budgeted overtime by end of the fiscal year or I won't get it next year." I just don't see this kind of scenario playing out in any kind of well run private enterprise.

I have seen exactly that kind of scenario play out time and time again in very well run, huge multinational enterprises with tens of thousands of employees. Honestly, I see it one of the unfortunate-yet-unavoidable side-effects of a huge bureaucracy.

The only part of that post that wasn't accurate was get rid of their income tax. They want to tax poor people MORE.

The rest was spot on and unfortunately hilarious.

SixteenBlue wrote:

The only part of that post that wasn't accurate was get rid of their income tax. They want to tax poor people MORE.

The rest was spot on and unfortunately hilarious.

The joke on the income tax is that people at the poverty line pay no income tax. Damn leeches.

Robear wrote:

It would have been good to see a conservative proposal for dealing with the situation. How would conservatives break the cycle of poverty?

They have said it over and over again, but no one seems to be listening. Once you remove the barriers the government puts in the way, they will be free to do what they want with their money. Get rid of their income tax, so they can keep all 22,000 dollars they make.

Wikipedia[/url]]In 2010, in the United States, the poverty threshold for one person under 65 was US$11,344 (annual income); the threshold for a family group of four, including two children, was US$22,133

With that money, and no Big Brother getting in the way, they could start up a business that makes them into millionaires. Obviously, they would need to borrow money from the bank to get started, you can't choose to not eat for a year (ROFL!), but they can get a loan from any old bank if only the government didn't put so many regulations on the banks. Once the banks are free to loan out much more than they hold, they can afford to take a chance on poor people. Right now, there are too many rules holding banks back so they only want to lend to the Elitist Liberals and the illegal immigrants.

It's such a simple problem to solve. Vote Romney in 2012, you'll be glad you did.

*edited to add*
I have been reading this thread since the beginning, and I do want to chime in on the original premise, it is another one that has been tossed about forever: private businesses do everything better than the government. I know where the thought comes from: incompetent agents of government and infinite money. If you only look to a party that is convinced the government can't do anything right, or that is your default starting point, you have to overcome a serious confirmation bias to move past the assumption. The ever slightly more factual part of this assertion is that a private business *has to* do things better than the government, because they have tighter financial restrictions: a company really can't choose to borrow multiple years' worth of growth to meet the demand for their services, they will go out of business first. Our government (and most of them, to a point) can go severely into dept to "afford" charity works. It should be pretty obvious that the level of efficiency or competence isn't related to who is doing the work (government or private sector) but who has the resources, real or imaginary. If the government had to work within its budget, it would need to be more efficient or cut services.
My biggest problem with advocating for the private sector to provide all human services is one of motive. A government wants to help the sick, poor and weak because they make up the populace being governed, and they should be able to contribute to the overall health of the nation. Charity... who knows why they are doing things. Churches are doing charity work at a local level because they love their neighbors; but at an organizational level they do charity because they want to add to their followers. When the needs conflict with the teachings, support is removed; not something a government is likely to pull.

I am wondering...how does free education, socialized medicine, and dare I say a proper pension program spell the downfall of society?

If you divert too much wealth into those things, rather than generating new wealth, your economy will eventually collapse. Medical care and pensions are luxuries, and they must be paid for by real work done by real people... if your expenses for these are too high, you will wreck the productive part of your economy with tax rates that keep businesses from being able to reinvest into growth, making themselves stronger. With high tax burdens, the companies may be able to limp along, but their ability to expand, creating new wealth, is sharply curtailed.

Education can be viewed as an investment, but it depends on the type of education. Much of it has no real economic value.

It all comes down to one marshmallow today, or two marshmallows tomorrow. And socialized economies seem to always insist on marshmallows today, damn the long-term cost. Greece is the current poster child, but there are others all over Europe. They just haven't blown up yet.

You have to pay for what you use.

Malor wrote:

Education can be viewed as an investment, but it depends on the type of education. Much of it has no real economic value.

Really? Care to share your thoughts what parts have no economic value? Are you just thinking of those women's studies liberal arts degrees that someone took a $60k student loan out for and won't pay back?

Malor wrote:
I am wondering...how does free education, socialized medicine, and dare I say a proper pension program spell the downfall of society?

If you divert too much wealth into those things, rather than generating new wealth, your economy will eventually collapse. Medical care and pensions are luxuries, and they must be paid for by real work done by real people...

Well, let's remember that the only costs that *must* be paid are the material costs of the technology and the food the medical personnel need to not starve. Much of the cost of medical care is the profit the providers of medical care demand in return for their goods and services.

Education can be viewed as an investment, but it depends on the type of education. Much of it has no real economic value.

True, but very little of what we use our production for has real economic value these days. Television shows have no real economic value. Movies. Music. Sports. Sex toys. Dragon costumes. Video games. Wallpaper. Artificial sweeteners. Pets. Neckties for pets. Computers to run internet message forum software. Upkeep on the Washington Monument.

It all comes down to one marshmallow today, or two marshmallows tomorrow. And socialized economies seem to always insist on marshmallows today, damn the long-term cost. Greece is the current poster child, but there are others all over Europe. They just haven't blown up yet.

You have to pay for what you use.

So who does Germany think Greece should invade?

In the five years up to 2010, Greece purchased more of Germany's arms exports than any other country, buying 15% of its weapons. Over the same period, Greece was the third-largest customer for France's military exports and its top buyer in Europe. Significantly, when the first bail-out package was being negotiated in 2010, Greece spent 7.1bn euros (£5.9bn) on its military, up from 6.24bn euros in 2007. A total of £1bn was spent on French and German weapons, plunging the country even further into debt in the same year that social spending was cut by 1.8bn euros. It has claimed by some that this was no coincidence, and that the EU bail-out was explicitly tied to burgeoning arms deals. In particular, there is alleged to have been concerted pressure from France to buy several stealth frigates. Meanwhile Germany sold 223 howitzers and completed a controversial deal on faulty submarines, leading to an investigation into accusations of bribes being given to Greek officials.

PoderOmega wrote:
Malor wrote:

Education can be viewed as an investment, but it depends on the type of education. Much of it has no real economic value.

Really? Care to share your thoughts what parts have no economic value? Are you just thinking of those women's studies liberal arts degrees that someone took a $60k student loan out for and won't pay back?

Considering that the sex I have is so much better because of the impact people with women's studies liberal arts degrees have had on our culture and on the relationships between men and women in that culture, this is going to be a hard argument to make. No pun intended.

True, but very little of what we use our production for has real economic value these days. Television shows have no real economic value. Movies. Music. Sports. Sex toys. Dragon costumes. Video games. Wallpaper. Artificial sweeteners. Pets. Neckties for pets. Computers to run internet message forum software. Upkeep on the Washington Monument.

And we're having a hell of a lot of trouble paying for stuff, because we're wasting huge amounts of money on things that don't produce anything.

It doesn't matter in the least whether anyone likes this or not. Liking it is irrelevant. These things consume wealth, and in many cases, return little or nothing. If we do too many of these non-productive things, we impair our ability to generate new wealth.

We might not like the fact that jumping off a four-story building will probably result in severe injuries, but gravity doesn't care. Likewise, entropy doesn't care.... waste enough of your goods and energy on making useless things, and you will become poor.

Considering that the sex I have is so much better because of the impact people with women's studies liberal arts degrees have had on our culture

Do you produce more goods and energy as a result? If not, from an economic perspective, then it's at most a wash, and at worst a waste. If you do produce more, is it enough more to make paying for that education worthwhile?

Malor wrote:
True, but very little of what we use our production for has real economic value these days. Television shows have no real economic value. Movies. Music. Sports. Sex toys. Dragon costumes. Video games. Wallpaper. Artificial sweeteners. Pets. Neckties for pets. Computers to run internet message forum software. Upkeep on the Washington Monument.

And we're having a hell of a lot of trouble paying for stuff, because we're wasting huge amounts of money on things that don't produce anything.

It doesn't matter in the least whether anyone likes this or not. Liking it is irrelevant. These things consume wealth, and in many cases, return little or nothing. If we do too many of these non-productive things, we impair our ability to generate new wealth.

We might not like the fact that jumping off a four-story building will probably result in severe injuries, but gravity doesn't care. Likewise, entropy doesn't care.... waste enough of your goods and energy on making useless things, and you will become poor.

On the other hand, the only point in creating more productive things once we've met our basic needs for food/shelter/etc. is the creation of non-productive things. Are we really having trouble paying for stuff? I think it's more that we're having trouble creating a society where enough people have something to bargain with.

edit: to use a simple example, giving away free Xbox consoles to the poor by taxing the rich, or letting the rich keep their money to buy a yacht are both cases of wasting goods and energy on useless things.

Considering that the sex I have is so much better because of the impact people with women's studies liberal arts degrees have had on our culture

Do you produce more goods and energy as a result?

Yes. : )

If not, from an economic perspective, then it's at most a wash, and at worst a waste. If you do produce more, is it enough more to make paying for that education worthwhile?

Actually now that I think about it, women's studies liberal arts degrees are probably one of the best investments in the history of civilization. They changed the culture from one in which half the wealth creating talent in our population could at most become a head nurse or an elementary school principal to one in which we are closer than at any other time in...well, technically, in history to optimal utilization of our entire population.

Part of the reason social welfare has become so expensive is because we can no longer hire the intellectual talent in one half of the population at bargain prices. It was cheap to provide quality teaching and nursing when women were confined to the pink collar ghetto. Now those women are doctors instead of nurses, and are managing business firms instead of schools.

Malor wrote:

Medical care and pensions are luxuries, and they must be paid for by real work done by real people.

Or they could be paid for by robots doing real work. As long as we all share in ownership of the robots, it'll be fine. It's a failure of imagination to think our economy and work lives must follow the same model into the future.

Malor, can you elaborate on what is economically productive work from your viewpoint, and what wealth produced by those activities should be spent on? Are we talking things like space programs and road construction? Philosophical inquiry? Pure scientific research? What is the endgame to your approach to the usage of wealth as a catalyst for 'productive' growth?

Malor, can you elaborate on what is economically productive work from your viewpoint, and what wealth produced by those activities should be spent on?

Anything that, net-net, causes more energy, goods, and knowledge to be produced than you yourself consume. The greater the surplus, the better. The more of a country is focused on these things, the faster the real wealth of that country grows.

Measuring that is, of course, difficult. But we've really killed our ability to be introspective about the economy by switching to fiat money. We measure wealth by measuring dollar flows. Back when dollars had to be earned, when they had to be dug up out of the ground and refined, there was some predictive value there.

But now that infinite amounts of the stuff just show from thin air for free, produced by entities that didn't put anything into the economy at all, counting wealth tokens and their exchange is a much, much poorer measurement device, almost certainly negatively correlated with real wealth generation, instead of positively.

In other words, as Wall Street grows, and takes an ever larger slice of the pie using phantom wealth tokens, Main Street is impoverished. The people actually creating the energy, goods, and knowledge of the world have been hijacked by people doing no work and adding no value. We're being parasitized by bankers.

It's probably not even the bankers' fault. They're just playing the hand they're dealt. But when the Fed is giving them hands with four aces every time they start to lose very many chips, well, it's not exactly a fair game.

And, since all paychecks for economic experts come from the entities making phantom money, somehow, mysteriously, people who are critical of this arrangement don't get funding, and are effectively silenced.

Robear wrote:

It would have been good to see a conservative proposal for dealing with the situation. How would conservatives break the cycle of poverty?

You don't. You're operating under the false assumption that all members of society can be net producers. What you want to do as a just society is to set a minimum bar where they don't suffer, but not so high that being unproductive leads to a "comfortable" lifestyle. People disagree on where comfort starts though.

bandit0013 wrote:
Robear wrote:

It would have been good to see a conservative proposal for dealing with the situation. How would conservatives break the cycle of poverty?

You don't. You're operating under the false assumption that all members of society can be net producers.

I think it's more that he's operating under the assumption that some members of society who are trapped in a cycle of poverty could be net producers under different circumstances. There's certainly a question as to whether all members can be net producers and whether a just society wouldn't want to make it so that being unproductive would still be comfortable, but those are questions further down the road.