Entitlement and Welfare Spending Catch-all

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.

Malor wrote:

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.

So that leads me to ask which is it? Is it that we're being parasitized by bankers or that we're wasting huge amounts of money on things that don't produce anything? Because the story of Main Street is the story of going from providing the necessities to keep workers working and clockers clocking, to a Main Street that is driven by consumer spending aimed to create enjoyment through wealth destruction.

Are we being tricked by bankers into thinking we can afford things we actually can't in the long term? Or is the problem our socialized economies insist on marshmallows today, damn the long-term cost?

I'm going to go out on a limb and bet that Malor's answer is: both.

OG_slinger wrote:

Not only that, but it's the Christian thing to do and apparently a lot of people think we're a Christian nation.

Just a note to help flesh that out a little bit.

wordsmythe wrote:
OG_slinger wrote:

Not only that, but it's the Christian thing to do and apparently a lot of people think we're a Christian nation.

Just a note to help flesh that out a little bit.

Actually wasn't the parable about the talents with the 3 servants along the lines of that the servant who didn't put their talents to work got punished?

Pretty much all of the "let them lift themselves out of poverty" arguments pretty much fall apart when you examine the differences in education quality and childhood nutrition afforded the rich and the poor. Compare Howard or Montgomery County schools with those just across the borders in Prince Georges County and it becomes immediately obvious why the poor remain poor generationally.

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.

In 2009, about half of American families paid no Federal income tax at all, and this would obviously include most if not all at or near the poverty level. So I'd argue those barriers are down already, and the effect has not been as you said. Why is that, given that your belief doesn't match with reality? What else is going on? I'd argue there are other factors in play, especially ones that can be improved with government assistance and projects not focused on individuals. What's your take?

93 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. 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.

The whole idea of the conservative response to poverty is that people will, when given the *opportunity*, lift themselves out of poverty. But your argument hinges on the idea that there is a permanent underclass for which no amount of opportunity or assistance will suffice. You try to delineate the size of that underclass by use of the idea of a "comfortable" living, but the fact remains that here you're just giving up on some percentage of the population, and in my view that's likely to include many who could succeed if otherwise given the opportunity. (I'm also curious as to how you size that group, and what studies back up the idea of incorrigibles.)

So let's assume that you're right - there is an underclass that will just sit on it's ass and feed off of others. Okay. Now, what kind of *opportunities* are you willing to fund for people who are trying to get out of the situation - those who are in poverty but not in the underclass? You can't just say "keep those in poverty in minimal comfort" without offering them the "equality of opportunity" that conservatives tout as right and proper. I mean, I had access to excellent schooling, college, loan assistance, health care, all sorts of things that conservatives often are willing to cut for the poor. Where's your line on services to back up the rhetoric?

Or do you not subscribe to "equality of opportunity" at all? That's a possibility too, I guess, although I doubt it.

bandit0013 wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
OG_slinger wrote:

Not only that, but it's the Christian thing to do and apparently a lot of people think we're a Christian nation.

Just a note to help flesh that out a little bit.

Actually wasn't the parable about the talents with the 3 servants along the lines of that the servant who didn't put their talents to work got punished?

More than just a parable - St Paul flat out said that those who don't work shouldn't expect to eat. But most Christian conservatives I know aren't looking to cause mass starvation or let people die. They just think there are alternatives to a bloated federal system. And if we're looking at government being more of a solution, I'd rather see the states and local communities handle it. They're closer to the situation on the ground, and there's less chance of fraud and waste from duplicate programs.

Pretty much all of the "let them lift themselves out of poverty" arguments pretty much fall apart when you examine the differences in education quality and childhood nutrition afforded the rich and the poor. Compare Howard or Montgomery County schools with those just across the borders in Prince Georges County and it becomes immediately obvious why the poor remain poor generationally.

Agreed but nothing in our current system goes to addressing this.

so when Jesus fed the multitudes, did he make them show proof of employment?

Robear wrote:
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.

In 2009, about half of American families paid no Federal income tax at all, and this would obviously include most if not all at or near the poverty level. So I'd argue those barriers are down already, and the effect has not been as you said. Why is that, given that your belief doesn't match with reality? What else is going on? I'd argue there are other factors in play, especially ones that can be improved with government assistance and projects not focused on individuals. What's your take?

Robear, I'm sorry you missed the sarcasm in my post - I wrote it to highlight the absurdity of the Republican party's plan for the country's prosperity, as it relates to people who are not in the position to benefit from tax cuts.

Sadly, I don't know a way to make people realize that the "lower taxes and everything will be alright" line is a load of crap. We tried it for 8 years under Bush, we continue to live with those lowered taxes for 3 years under Obama and our economy is still in bad shape. I do believe that raising taxes *right now* would not help the situation, but I just don't see any way that further lowering taxes will help, either.

How can the government help people living at the poverty line... I really don't know. They should be able to get foodstamps, so that they don't have to starve, but there are still hungry Americans. They should be eligible for some health care benefits, pending the Supreme Court's decision - that might help keep some from emergency room visits instead of being healthier. The living situation of the poor can only be helped so far with subsidized housing, but that hasn't seemed to work.

Longer term, education is key. Maybe this generation can't be helped much, but if you find a way to fund schools, with good teachers and a reason to stay in school, the next generation won't be as poor. I wonder if there could be a poverty boarding school? Foster parents to live there as guardians of the students, teachers are required to spend 1 year at one of these schools to qualify for tenure. Divert some of the food stamp money to pay for the meals, buy up empty buildings to convert for classrooms and dorms. It would take a lot of stress off of single parents, not having to worry about a kid home alone all the time. It would enforce consistent rules between classrooms and home life. It keeps kids off the streets, away from gangs, and in a culture where learning is important.

Of course, it will never happen, because it costs money.

jdzappa wrote:

More than just a parable - St Paul flat out said that those who don't work shouldn't expect to eat. But most Christian conservatives I know aren't looking to cause mass starvation or let people die. They just think there are alternatives to a bloated federal system. And if we're looking at government being more of a solution, I'd rather see the states and local communities handle it. They're closer to the situation on the ground, and there's less chance of fraud and waste from duplicate programs.

If you're going to claim things, please provide some actual evidence (and from a neutral source, such as the CBO, rather than a conservative think tank). Specifically, you're pretty much claiming that all social spending is wasteful to some significant degree and you are also claiming the same for fraud.

Are these things that you simply believe because those "facts" fit your political views or do you actually know with certainty that social spending rife with fraud and waste?

jdzappa wrote:

Agreed but nothing in our current system goes to addressing this.

Ever hear of Head Start? It has several longitudinal studies backing up its effectiveness and yet it always seems to be hauled out and put on the budget chopping block by conservatives. Last year, House Republicans wanted to cut about a quarter of it's funding...

Robear, I'm sorry you missed the sarcasm in my post - I wrote it to highlight the absurdity of the Republican party's plan for the country's prosperity, as it relates to people who are not in the position to benefit from tax cuts.

Sorry, I did miss that. My bad. I do agree that education is key. I worry about solutions that can be said to "take children from their parents and give them to the government"; that has not turned out well for American Indians and Australian aborigines, no matter how well intentioned.

They just think there are alternatives to a bloated federal system. And if we're looking at government being more of a solution, I'd rather see the states and local communities handle it. They're closer to the situation on the ground, and there's less chance of fraud and waste from duplicate programs.

Well, but government is only bloated at this point because of entitlements and defense, and even those have been cut and everything except DoD has undergone and is still undergoing efficiency improvements, many quite successful. Conservatives have fully participated in whatever bloating there is, but the fact is, they've also had a tremendous impact on reducing government costs and making it more efficient. I feel like the objections are not to government being bloated, but rather to *what it does*.

As for local and state governments being less corrupt, I'd say it's the other way around. 50 different state standards and thousands of standards for counties and cities can't be as effective as one standard set of rules for Federal civil service. I'd rather see a national set of state and local standards first; then I'd agree with you. But of course, that would be the devolution of state power, and would freak out conservatives as a matter of ideology alone, whether or not it could be made to work.

Robear wrote:

I worry about solutions that can be said to "take children from their parents and give them to the government"; that has not turned out well for American Indians and Australian aborigines, no matter how well intentioned.

Yeah, it would have to be a totally volunteer program. I wonder if that kind of thing would actually work, though.

I think there were some social institutions in the Georgian through Victorian period in the US and Great Britain that worked in this way, and not with terrible results. But involuntarily? I doubt it would work.

jdzappa wrote:

More than just a parable - St Paul flat out said that those who don't work shouldn't expect to eat.

You are going to find a LOT of interpretations of that verse that don't support your reading. Just saying. This tends to be why basing public policy on snippets from the epistles can get you in trouble. See also Romans 13.

*edit* See also much of The Bible. Or any scriptures, really.

bombsfall wrote:
jdzappa wrote:

More than just a parable - St Paul flat out said that those who don't work shouldn't expect to eat.

You are going to find a LOT of interpretations of that verse that don't support your reading. Just saying. This tends to be why basing public policy on snippets from the epistles can get you in trouble. See also Romans 13.

*edit* See also much of The Bible. Or any scriptures, really.

In particular, Matthew 6:28.

Paleocon wrote:
bombsfall wrote:
jdzappa wrote:

More than just a parable - St Paul flat out said that those who don't work shouldn't expect to eat.

You are going to find a LOT of interpretations of that verse that don't support your reading. Just saying. This tends to be why basing public policy on snippets from the epistles can get you in trouble. See also Romans 13.

*edit* See also much of The Bible. Or any scriptures, really.

In particular, Matthew 6:28.

Yeah!

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.

In a shootout between Saul of Tarsus and Yeshuach bar Yusef, I'm going with Yeshuach.

Just sayin'.

Robear wrote:

As for local and state governments being less corrupt, I'd say it's the other way around. 50 different state standards and thousands of standards for counties and cities can't be as effective as one standard set of rules for Federal civil service. I'd rather see a national set of state and local standards first; then I'd agree with you. But of course, that would be the devolution of state power, and would freak out conservatives as a matter of ideology alone, whether or not it could be made to work.

China is pretty much the case study proving this to be true. The central government does not have a lot of control over what the provincial and municipal governments do around the country--it's afraid to exert too much authority as it might cause a lot of social upheaval. The problem is, however, most of these governments are extremely, extremely corrupt. Read about Bo Xilai, the former part chief of Chongqing--it's a pretty fantastic story. Fantastic as in you only expect to see such scandal in an over the top film or novel. Money greases all the gears and wheels here, at every level except the uppermost of the central government.

Not having a central government powerful enough to keep states in check is a bad idea. And yeah, it's bad for commerce, too. China's logistics industry is a complete mess right now, because every province and even cities will have different taxes you have to pay along the route that end up adding a huge amount of cost, and many times cities will favor certain logistics providers over others. So you end up having thousands of logistics providers, most with poor network infrastructures, and hardly any that can provide nationwide service at a decent price.

Education standards in the US, gun laws, voting rights laws, all sorts of differences between states support the case for me in the US.

Are states an anarchism that should be done away with? Would the USA be better off just being the 'UA'?

MacBrave wrote:

Are states an anarchism that should be done away with? Would the USA be better off just being the 'UA'?

Sometimes I think it should be the US&CSA: the United States and City States of America. Most cities have more in common with each other than with the respective states they are located in. Give cities their own place in the Federal government.

I think in a democracy, that various levels of government are useful, and whatever is picked - states, regions, districts, autonomous cities, whatever - serves as a bridge between local concerns (should our city update it's water conduits? Zone a particular area industrial or residential?) and national concerns (national defense, interstate commerce and transportation, educational curricula, basic laws, etc.). So I'm happy with the local/state/federal system, and would not suggest that we disable one or more of them.

At the same time, it's dismaying that some things that are required all over the country, like education, are managed at the local and state level, instead of federally. We don't think it's okay to let each state fund it's own part of an interstate highway, but we have no problem with states teaching their students different things in different ways to suit local agendas. Diversity can be a good thing in some areas, but if it's hampering progress, maybe it's not as good a solution as, well, union.

Imagine if you ran a multinational corporation, and you rolled out a product. You set up all the marketing, you allocate units to particular regions, and provide information and support to every part of the company so they can sell it. And then the director of sales in Bavaria says "Well, you know, I don't think our customers want this, we'll pass, thanks." WTF? And the interesting thing is that you've got a contract with your marketing supplier that if something is not sold company-wide, then it won't provide information for it as part of the standard; you'll have to purchase at one-off costs if you want marketing materials for it, because it's more expensive to produce in smaller quantities. And then you've got to change all the materials distributed in Bavaria to not mention that product, even though it's all over the Internet and magazines and such... More costs, and then on top of that some of your Bavarian customers actually *do* want the product, but they need to go to Paris to learn about it...

That's what we do with education and textbooks. And it's nuts.

Robear wrote:

I think in a democracy, that various levels of government are useful, and whatever is picked - states, regions, districts, autonomous cities, whatever - serves as a bridge between local concerns (should our city update it's water conduits? Zone a particular area industrial or residential?) and national concerns (national defense, interstate commerce and transportation, educational curricula, basic laws, etc.). So I'm happy with the local/state/federal system, and would not suggest that we disable one or more of them.

The problem is that the fed has crept into the state and local where it shouldn't be. I think that our tax structure is all wrong. You give the most to the fed, then state, then local. I think the order should be State, Local, Fed.

bandit0013 wrote:
Robear wrote:

I think in a democracy, that various levels of government are useful, and whatever is picked - states, regions, districts, autonomous cities, whatever - serves as a bridge between local concerns (should our city update it's water conduits? Zone a particular area industrial or residential?) and national concerns (national defense, interstate commerce and transportation, educational curricula, basic laws, etc.). So I'm happy with the local/state/federal system, and would not suggest that we disable one or more of them.

The problem is that the fed has crept into the state and local where it shouldn't be. I think that our tax structure is all wrong. You give the most to the fed, then state, then local. I think the order should be State, Local, Fed.

This came up as a parenthetical earlier in the thread. That would just turn America into the European Union, with some states playing the role of Greece and some playing the role of Germany. In order for the states to not turn on each other, the wealth needs to be redistributed from the richer states to the poorer ones. Entitlement and Welfare spending isn't just for the benefit of individuals: it's for the benefit of states, too.

bandit0013 wrote:
Robear wrote:

I think in a democracy, that various levels of government are useful, and whatever is picked - states, regions, districts, autonomous cities, whatever - serves as a bridge between local concerns (should our city update it's water conduits? Zone a particular area industrial or residential?) and national concerns (national defense, interstate commerce and transportation, educational curricula, basic laws, etc.). So I'm happy with the local/state/federal system, and would not suggest that we disable one or more of them.

The problem is that the fed has crept into the state and local where it shouldn't be. I think that our tax structure is all wrong. You give the most to the fed, then state, then local. I think the order should be State, Local, Fed.

Where in particular do you see the Fed pushing into the State?

The problem is that the fed has crept into the state and local where it shouldn't be. I think that our tax structure is all wrong. You give the most to the fed, then state, then local. I think the order should be State, Local, Fed.

That's a discussion I'd *love* to see in Congress and the parties. Instead, any tax-related issue is addressed by the suggestion to cut it. Inequity? Cut taxes. Not enough government income to fund programs? Cut taxes (yes, seriously, it's claimed that cutting taxes increases revenue). Economic downturn? Cut taxes. Economic upturn? Cut taxes.

It gets tiresome.

Robear wrote:
The problem is that the fed has crept into the state and local where it shouldn't be. I think that our tax structure is all wrong. You give the most to the fed, then state, then local. I think the order should be State, Local, Fed.

That's a discussion I'd *love* to see in Congress and the parties. Instead, any tax-related issue is addressed by the suggestion to cut it. Inequity? Cut taxes. Not enough government income to fund programs? Cut taxes (yes, seriously, it's claimed that cutting taxes increases revenue). Economic downturn? Cut taxes. Economic upturn? Cut taxes.

It gets tiresome.

There was an Onion article a while back that I can't seem to find regarding a Republican proposal to give North Korea a tax cut in exchange for nuclear disarmament. I thought it made as much sense as pretty much anything else the GOP has said in the last 11 years.

Paleocon wrote:
bombsfall wrote:
jdzappa wrote:

More than just a parable - St Paul flat out said that those who don't work shouldn't expect to eat.

You are going to find a LOT of interpretations of that verse that don't support your reading. Just saying. This tends to be why basing public policy on snippets from the epistles can get you in trouble. See also Romans 13.

*edit* See also much of The Bible. Or any scriptures, really.

In particular, Matthew 6:28.

Yeah, that Jesus guy just couldn't shut up about feeding the hungry and stuff. Community organizers, man... "if you have two coats, give one away" is nothing but redistributing the wealth.

bombsfall wrote:
jdzappa wrote:

More than just a parable - St Paul flat out said that those who don't work shouldn't expect to eat.

You are going to find a LOT of interpretations of that verse that don't support your reading. Just saying. This tends to be why basing public policy on snippets from the epistles can get you in trouble. See also Romans 13.

*edit* See also much of The Bible. Or any scriptures, really.

Paul's tentmaking (yeah, it became a term) wasn't even consistent among the other apostles.

bandit0013 wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
OG_slinger wrote:

Not only that, but it's the Christian thing to do and apparently a lot of people think we're a Christian nation.

Just a note to help flesh that out a little bit.

Actually wasn't the parable about the talents with the 3 servants along the lines of that the servant who didn't put their talents to work got punished?

As for the parable of the talents, it's entirely possible that the "Master" in that parable is not, in fact, intended to be an allusion to G-d. See Matthew 25:24, for example:

The Book of Matthew wrote:

24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.

In this light, the servant who neither invested nor lost the money is likely the most righteous actor, and he is punished for it by a greedy master.

Paleocon wrote:

In a shootout between Saul of Tarsus and Yeshuach bar Yusef, I'm going with Yeshuach.

Just sayin'.

I can guarantee that Jesus would not fire, but that he also wouldn't stay down.