Blaming the Poor Feels Great

povertyAnd the disciples asked Jesus, “Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?”

Being confronted with the suffering of others triggers discomfort in almost any healthy person. That compassionate urge is particularly nagging when the misery has complex causes and cannot be easily relieved. Our discomfort grows when we have some power to alleviate the suffering we see, but doing so would cost us something we want.

Everyone must confront this dilemma in one way or another. There is more suffering in the world than any of us can address no matter how much angst or commitment we bring to the challenge. Whether it’s generated by the homeless guy at the train station or Sarah McLachlan’s dog commercial, everyone must make some peace with the sadness we see around us. We contribute where we can and sleep soundly.

Some methods of coping with that angst are more constructive than others. One of the oldest, most powerful and most deeply obnoxious ways to escape is to simply blame the victim. Not only does it eliminate our nagging discomfort, it imparts a refreshing spritz of righteous superiority. More than that, it numbs us to one of the healthiest, yet most deeply disconcerting by-products of other people’s suffering – the mortal reminder that “there but for the grace of God…” Blaming the poor stunts the development of humility.

As a form of suffering, poverty is a profound test of compassion because it can seldom be completely separated from personal choices. Poverty is the greatest temptation to calloused disregard. There are opportunities open to most people that would allow them to defeat poverty. And it is true that bad personal choices, sometimes morally compromised choices, are often the gateway to poverty.

When thinking about wealth, poverty, and virtue it is helpful to keep in mind that bad personal choices, sometimes morally compromised choices, can also be the gateway to enormous personal wealth. Some of the people whose fraud engineered the Enron debacle and the mortgage collapse are quite rich and happy. One of Enron’s architects is in prison. Another is living on a mountain he bought in Hawaii.

If we assume that the poor have some character flaw at the root of their condition, there is no reason not to assume the same of the wealthy. We all have a character flaw at the root of our condition. We are human.

We use the organizing power of government to raise the floor of poverty not just from compassion. Extreme poverty is like a virus that reproduces and spreads. No one builds a garden while their house is on fire. The conditions created by severe want preclude the kind of personal investment necessary to change one’s fundamental condition. That’s why we eliminated child labor and sweatshops. That’s why we mandate education for children. That’s why we criminalize prostitution.

When a family is struggling to meet basic needs for food, shelter and clothing, teenage kids drop out of school to pitch in. Mothers and fathers work longer hours to feed the family, leaving them little or no time to be parents. Older siblings take on parenting roles they are ill-equipped to perform. Families, in essence, eat their seed-corn, ever eroding their capacity to make investments in education, health, and mental stability that yield massive returns over time.

In rare situations, a few remarkably talented people emerge from grinding poverty to become successful. Sometimes someone survives a plane crash. That doesn’t mean plane crashes shouldn’t be avoided or that the victims are to blame for their fate.

What makes a guy like Ben Carson, for example, such a tragic figure is the way he turned his own remarkable success into a condemnation of those left behind; those crushed by the same conditions of poverty and racism he endured. Survivors’ guilt can be a terrible torment. The deep conviction that you made it because you were more righteous than the worthless losers left behind in the ruins of Detroit must be a wonderful balm, though the odor is terrible.

Just as only Nixon could go to China, only Republicans are suited to address the structural issues that continue to feed unnecessary poverty in our country. Making poverty relief successful means keeping an eye on wider goals. Our ambition is not to build a bigger, more intrusive government. Our goal is to prevent temporary, unavoidable misfortunes from destroying a family’s capacity to invest in themselves and participate in the economy. It was Republicans under Nixon who first proposed a basic income, which would eliminate poverty while gutting the poverty-bureaucracy. Republicans remain best position to promote such an opportunity agenda.

Republicans often complain about a “nanny state,” then with the same breath urge government to tell us how to live. Poverty rises from many things, but most of all from a lack of money. Until we are willing to spend some money – our money – to address poverty, we should just shut up about it. When Republicans are ready to stop congratulating themselves for being white and affluent and start questioning their obnoxious and frequently racist myths about opportunity, an opening will emerge for the kind of positive structural changes that come along once every century or so.

Unfortunately, Republicans are showing no interest in addressing questions of economic opportunity. Poverty is complicated and there are few things Republicans hate more deeply right now than nuance. Paul Ryan can thrash and flail all he wants, but as long as he continues to coddle Republicans who insist on tying righteousness to wealth he will fail.

Meanwhile, with every poor kid who drops out of high school to take more hours at the restaurant, the country surrenders another opportunity to become freer, wealthier, and better able to compete. Blaming the poor feels great, but it comes with a cost.

About

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He is a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago.

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Posted in Economics, Republican Party, Welfare State
216 comments on “Blaming the Poor Feels Great
  1. CaptSternn says:

    Since this entry is still active, Lifer, a simple question: What makes you feel great to blame the poor?

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      Stern…I’m moderately sure you understand rhetoric and hyperbole.

      If not, it would mean that we have to take everything you type at face value, and no one wants to live in a world where some of the things you write are actually what you believe without hyperbole.

  2. Anse says:

    Here’s what I don’t get about the Republican view of poverty and welfare. If there are all these incentives to just stay home and live off the dole, why am I getting out of bed and going to work every day? Am I just a sucker? Or am I a superior example of the human race? Am I simply more noble than these moochers? I struggle to understand this. If being poor is really a choice, and one ripe with opportunity to have one’s bills paid and live in relative ease, why don’t we all make that choice?

    What I think happens with these Superiority Complex among conservatives is that they need to feel superior because their view of economics demands recognition of Winners and, out of necessity, Losers. Not everybody can prosper. It’s a competitive marketplace, and there have to be losers to make it all make sense. Your prosperity seems less credible to you if you can’t look at a poor person and assume they’re just inferior people of low character.

    What worries me is that this mentality enables us to justify further deprivations of those in poverty. Why invest in education in poorer communities if we are going to assume they’d be wasted? What’s the point of making sure everybody has access to health care if the poor are going to waste their lives anyway? Shouldn’t somebody on the dole live a shorter life anyway? It would save us some tax dollars.

    Eventually, those institutions that give those in need the best opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty become marginalized, ignored, or done away with. Because what’s the point, in this hierarchy of humanity that conservatives envision? They want us to believe anybody can make it in America, but at the same time, they’re writing off huge portions of the population as little more than “takers”.

    • bubbabobcat says:

      And to a larger extent Anse, the heartlessness of conservatives in general of any “others” not exactly like them, is just more deflection and projection of their own insecurities, fear of everything including their own shadows, despair in lack of control over their own lives, and their overall unhappiness manifesting into a bullying lashing out onto a weaker, less empowered “other” bogeyman.

    • flypusher says:

      “If there are all these incentives to just stay home and live off the dole….”

      Also exactly how many able-bodied, non-mentally ill adults are COMPLETELY on the dole-100% supported by public assistance? I suspect far less than the complainers complain about. Plenty of working poor get various forms of assistance, but it can’t see why any thinking person would conclude that they are living in relative ease.

      I might try to see if I can find any of those stats later (even us on the left side have jobs to go to).

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      That is a moderately broad brush with which you are painting (not unlike Stern’s broad brush that “the left” is illogical and makes decisions based on emotion).

      I’m not exactly sure the motivation for everyone on the right, and no doubt some of it for some portion is fear and insecurity based, but at least a little is a “just leave me alone” perspective.

      I think there also is a bit of the question of, “I did fine without all these programs, why can’t everyone else?”.

      That is not necessarily an invalid question. There are some obvious not-quite-equal-opportunity issues that might be missed with that position, but it is not an invalid thing to ask.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Well Houston, Cappy’s post below seems to fit that broad brush stroke quite well.

        Broad or not, “conservatives” by nature and definition are afraid of change and their do whatever it takes to maintain the status quo mentality not coincidentally benefits them personally.

    • CaptSternn says:

      The people that live completely off the government handouts and welfare are not poor. They live well above the poverty line.

      Where you fail is in blaming those people, acting as if others are superior and they are inferior, even suggesting that is the problem some see. The real problem is the system itself, a systen that gives incentives to not work, or to work less in order to acquire and keep those benefits and welfare payments. The system is what needs to be addressed, not promoted and expanded.

      • way2gosassy says:

        Sternn says “The people that live completely off the government handouts and welfare are not poor. They live well above the poverty line.” A lie oft repeated is just that a lie!

      • CaptSternn says:

        It’s no lie.

      • way2gosassy says:

        Prove IT

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Now Stern…if you basing your comment only on the CATO report and the one woman you knew living high on the hog back in the day, I suggest you dig a little deeper.

        Tanner knows how to do the math, but working at CATO, there certainly does seem to be some truck-sized holes in his paper.

      • Crogged says:

        If welfare pays more than working, why is welfare the problem?

      • way2gosassy says:

        Looking at the calculations from the census bureau kinda disproves your statement.

        http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/about/overview/measure.html

      • CaptSternn says:

        Way, right at the top it specifically states that some forms of welfare are not counted.

      • way2gosassy says:

        Got anything else? The Cato Institute is well known for their right wing political leanings and the omission of data points that do not agree with their “belief”.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Stern…I’m going with the assumption that you read Tanner’s paper, not just the big bolded words.

        Even you would have to kinda agree that there are some major league assumptions being made, and with just a smidgen of sunlight, those assumptions don’t really hold.

        In the spirit of even modest intellectual honesty, I think you are contractually obligated to put up at least a handful of caveats prior to mentioning that report.

        Aside from the half-dozen really big holes, it is interesting to note that the states which he identifies as the worst “paying” states for welfare tend to be the states with the largest groups of folks on welfare.

      • way2gosassy says:

        Yes Sternn, Non monetary benefits, food stamps and housing assistance. Or did you just skim over the non monetary part? Did you not also notice that the incomes of everyone in the household were included from all sources when calculating the amount of benefits they are eligible for. That includes SS, SSI, unemployment………

      • CaptSternn says:

        The study stands, HT. It is what it is.

        Way, just because it isn’t cold hard cash doesn’t mean it isn’t financial gain.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Sassy, I don’t necessarily quibble over the non-monetary aspects. The housing assistance and food stamps function essentially like cash, so that doesn’t bother me from a dollars and cents standpoint.

        The first really egregious (wrong) assumption is that he utilizes all the various forms of welfare and generally takes the maximum amount for each form. Now, he knows other researchers are reading his paper, so there is a paragraph about limitations. He acknowledges that almost no one would qualify or receive all of the various packages, but he then says, “but that is OK, because it is the best we have”.

        If you read some small print, you realize his “hypothetical family” represents less than 10% of welfare recipients. When you look at the “typical family” the numbers are pretty drastically different.

        The paper is actually a bit of a shame. The point being made could be a valid point. Doing the research the right way would have still supported their position in many ways, but the analyses are so off-the-wall that it harms their actual position with other researchers.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Wow stern…”the study stands” and “it is what it is” have to be the weakest endorsements of data analyses ever made by anyone at any time.

        Seriously Stern…you either know your conclusions are suspect and intentionally spreading bad information or you simply have not read the study with any kind of a critical eye. There is nothing hidden there. All you have to do is read the thing rather than looking at the pretty tables.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      It’s Social Darwinism under a new name — yet more evidence that the modern Republican Party is bound and determined to drag us all back into the nineteenth century.

  3. lomamonster says:

    I was about to flail you, Chris with “Just as only Nixon could go to China, only Republicans are suited to address the structural issues that continue to feed unnecessary poverty in our country.” But then you added, “Republicans often complain about a “nanny state,” then with the same breath urge government to tell us how to live.”

    That’s more like it, amigo! I was getting worried for nothing, as usual…

  4. Bart-1 says:

    Any problem with “shaming” the able bodied who choose to live off entitlements rather than work?

    • lomamonster says:

      Just your need, Bart. Just your need to.

      • Bart-1 says:

        Loma, while trying to avoid petty personal attacks, I find it disturbing that those who don’t need or deserve take from those who truly do forcibly give and those who need and deserve and you don’t care.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Bart-1/seriouscynic/usincrisis, that was one seriously mangled and incoherent sentence there.

        In other words, your usual posting.

    • lomamonster says:

      While you are “forcibly giving”, you surely deserve to get laughed at in your misery. The rest of us are truly giddy to be making enough to pay actual taxes.

      • Bart-1 says:

        “Broad or not, “conservatives” by nature and definition are afraid of change and their do whatever it takes to maintain the status quo mentality not coincidentally benefits them personally.” “that was one seriously mangled and incoherent sentence there.Not to mention the usual personal attack from the hate crowd erather than stick to the topic.

        In other words, your usual posting.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        So besides being totally incoherent, you plagiarize also bart?

        Dragging yourself to new lows. Even when already stuck in the bottom dregs of intelligence, honesty, and rationality. Quite an accomplishment bart.

  5. way2gosassy says:

    In my younger days I met a very interesting young man who was a merchant seaman from Netherland. We spent many hours with him telling me about his home and how he became a cook on a merchantman. The upside is I just remembered something he told me about their social system. So to check my memory I went looking and found this article that pretty much sums up what he told me. It is a great article and fits very well with this discussion.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/03/magazine/03european-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    • DanMan says:

      and here we are, a mere five years later

      “It is only a matter of time before living in jail, where you have guarantee of food and [a] shower, is better,” she adds. Ah, sweet freedom!

      http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2014/0305/Time-to-pitch-in-Netherlands-moves-to-the-fore-of-rethinking-welfare

      • way2gosassy says:

        You know Dan that was a pretty good article. The shame of it is that the only thing you got out of it was one line.

      • DanMan says:

        there’s plenty more of that reality…

        “This kind of policy is extremely unpopular,” says Chris Aalberts, a researcher in political communication at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. “It is a disaster.”

        But at the same time, Mr. Aalberts notes that abstaining from cutting is not an option. “There is no budget anymore for the system that was there in the past.”

    • way2gosassy says:

      As usual Dan you take a simple sentence out of context and and twist it to serve no constructive purpose. You might have added that because of the worldwide financial meltdown 5 years ago some of these European countries still have very high unemployment. Every Country worldwide is experiencing some level of belt tightening but in neither of these articles does it say that they are ending their welfare programs only that they are asking their citizens to do a little more. In a participatory society, similar to our early years as a country, people are being asked to do voluntary public work for some of the benefits they receive such as unemployment. I see nothing wrong with that. Keeping people fit for work while shifting costs from public works to unemployment and allowing them plenty of time off for their job searches and any retraining they may be involved in to become more eligible for the jobs they are applying for.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      What a great article, way2gosassy. Thanks for the link.

      My spouse’s office had a visiting intern from Sweden last year. After an auto accident, she shocked the hospital workers by handing over a government-issued credit card for all health-care payments. They couldn’t get over the lack of co-payment, etc.

      And she and her husband were among the most delightful couples we’ve met. It’s anecdotal evidence, to be sure, but many Scandinavians seem much happier and more confident in their own personal future than their American counterparts. They also seemed much more aware — and more accepting — of the programs which their tax money went to support.

      • way2gosassy says:

        You are welcome Owl. But to be fair the article that Dan linked to is also compelling to the extent that even the tenth most democratic country in the world has it’s flaws. It is one of the most capitalistic/socialistic economies in the world and was devastated by the global economic downturn 5 years ago. They had, what seemed to be an almost perfect balance of income and benefits until then. Currently they are trying some very innovative and controversial changes to be able to maintain that balance. Those changes are outlined fairly well in Dan’s article, although most of what was written was anecdotal in nature, it still clearly defines what is a participatory society.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        They must be doing some things right.

        “Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden are the world’s happiest countries, according to the survey of 156 countries. ”

        http://edition.cnn.com/2013/09/09/business/earth-institute-world-happiness-rankings/

      • way2gosassy says:

        Their children are healthier and their mortality rates are much better than most of the developed nations including ours.

      • CaptSternn says:

        The live healthier lifestyles, Way.

      • way2gosassy says:

        Yep Sternn, Universal healthcare, excellent childcare and education, subsidies to parents to aid in childcare and eldercare, and basically no one in the country worries about healthy food sources. All paid for by the gubberment.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Has little to nothing to do with socialism, Way. They don’t eat the cheeseburgers, pizza and all the other fast food and junk food. Well, unless you are claiming that they are not free and government dictates diets, exercise and staying away from bad habits. I would rather be free and maybe live a year less.

  6. Bobo Amerigo says:

    Why guaranteed income rather than livable wages for everyone who works? Serious question.

    When mayors talk about those who need help in their cities, they seem to see the availability of jobs and low wages as problems that need to be solved.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2013/12/11/what-hunger-and-homelessness-look-like-in-americas-cities/

    • flypusher says:

      “Why guaranteed income rather than livable wages for everyone who works? Serious question.”

      Personally I prefer that, although one upside of the former is that stay at home parents would be compensated with something more substantive than lip service.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Maybe we have a living wage for those who are employed, coupled with a wage for a stay-at-home parent until the child is enrolled in the first grade?

    • John Galt says:

      A down side of the “living wage” is that it is set by politicians and/or economists. Set this low enough and it is not useful. Set it too high and businesses will have incentives to replace labor with capital.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Yes, that’s the conundrum. The best thing would probably be to tie it to some other economic number that simply occurs and isn’t set by anybody after it’s initiated. What that number would be, though, is beyond me.

        But from Chris’ POV perhaps, investments are going to replace most jobs anyway.

  7. “We all have a character flaw at the root of our condition. We are human.”

    Indeed. And so the first question should be: Why on earth would we entrust any social function beyond the barest minimum to the one social structure that we endow with a monopoly on the use of force, namely, government? The same villains we decry in the corporate world may be found seated at the public trough, holding the reigns of political power, entrusted with the power to coerce under the color of law. To the extent we subsume our personal responsibilities to government, such miscreants are in a position to do far greater harm than any corporate titan. The “organizing power of government” should always be a refuge of last resort, not default physic for any social ailment.

    • DanMan says:

      It looks like the rucas posse huddled up and decided for an all out push for their socialists paradise musings on this thread. I laughed when I saw it pop up on Saturday and set about getting busy in my work shop.

    • Tuttabella says:

      Actually, Dan, the two camps are having a productive conversation, for a change, and even finding some common ground.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Tutt, it could be that some of us on the right are simply staying quiet for the most part? I mean some are actually making points we have made in the past, and without our help. Many here on the left are not sold at all on a minimum income and arguing against it. John even made a serious point to the problems with raising the minimum wage (livable wage, as he and others called it). It is exactly what has been happening since democrats raised the minimum wage in 2007, compounded by uncerntainty of other costs of doing business in These United States. Businesses given incenitives to replace labor with capital. More very good arguments against a minimum income and even a federally mandated minimum wage.

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        No, no, no Tutt. Much better to swoop in and spread fecal matter all over the place.

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        Stern…I won’t even point out the obvious confluence of events: “many on the right are simply staying quiet for the most part” and a “having a productive conversation”.

        I don’t think anyone on the this blog is sold on a minimum income idea, but some of us are so illogical and full of feelings that we are willing to talk through the pros/cons and evaluate the feasibility of such a solution.

        Rational and logical people are better at dismissing ideas without exploring them.

        Or something like that.

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        Stern…If “staying quiet” means “personally contributing over 10% of the comments to this topic”, then yes, you are staying quiet.

      • DanMan says:

        tuts, if I completely reject the concept of basic human nature and accept that people will willingly put forth effort to prop up anonymous souls who do want to take care of themselves while going along with willingly limiting their own achievements to do so, then maybe I could accept that the conversation is productive.

        But since I can’t reject that reality any more than I can inject motivation into lay abouts, I can’t see the productivity. Chris Ladd is pushing schemes to dreamers. Most folks got the parables of Aesop and The Brother’s Grimm by the time they were about 8 years old. Reading the comments of the rucas posse shows they have rejected them and are absorbed with envy. A fool’s errand that never ends well. Again I will declare, envy is the basis for justifying theft.

        Obama and his supporters are declaring we cannot renege on raising the national debt ceiling by saying the money has already been spent. They are stealing our futures. Unfortunately they are not getting any pushback by an opposition party.

        No, nosotros no!

      • CaptSternn says:

        Yes, HT, I have been fairly quiet today. Reading and observing. I find it interesting that many of the leftists here actually rebel against the far left Lifer, against minimum income, against “livable wages” and even against a minimum wage. But only so long as us rightists don’t show up or contribute.

        Look at Fly’s comments about people getting the money spending it wrongly and how to “fix” that problem. Only when I come in and reveal the “logic” of how to deal with it does Fly get the wings (or feathers) ruffled and has to oppose me.

        When left to actual thinking things through, y’all can come to the same results as us conservatives, or something very close, and question those very ideas.

        But then you can’t accept that. You see my handle or my avatar and you must oppose, disagree and go with the opposite. Go with an emotional and oppositional response. Y’all throw out logic and reasoning based on simple opposition and obstruction.

      • Houston-Stay-at-Homer says:

        Stern…take just a bit of time to think about all the reasons that folks might oppose your comments.

        Are you sure that it must be because of your name, avatar, or even your specific being?

        Is it at all possible that maybe, just maybe, you jump ahead to specific conclusions that are not necessarily inevitable but that happen to fit your preconceived notions from the beginning?

        Could that be possible at all?

        Nah, no way. It must be that we are emotional.

      • flypusher says:

        You know Sternn, for someone who claims to do so much research, you’ve got to have the worst reading comprehension I’ve ever encountered (although Buzzy contends). You really didn’t get the point of HT’s proposed thought exercise, did you? Hint, hint, it was for people who DIDN’T AGREE with the minimum income concept or didn’t think it would work. I happen to be in that camp.

        People not agreeing with all your slippery slopes /= “feather ruffling”.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Ht and Fly, I understand. I was actually following your train f thought, Fly, attempting to have a discussion. but there is a Pavlovian response. An automatic defense thrown up just because It was me. I am not innocent of that type of response either.

        Anse, that attitude is the founding principle for Planned Parenthood, one of the original reasons for supporting legal abortions.

      • flypusher says:

        ” An automatic defense thrown up just because It was me. ”

        Wrong again. I responding to the content of what was said, not the fact that it was you who said it. If somebody else had expressed those same thoughts, my response would not have been any different.

        Don’t believe me? There’s an easy test for that- create a 2nd online account and see what response you get. Of course you would have to alter the writing style enough while expressing the same opinions so that no one guesses, but I’m willing to bet the non-trolls are going to be more focused on the content, not the avatar.

    • Anse says:

      Why don’t we just round up those miscreants and…kill them? It would save America. Or, at least go to jail? What an offensive post. Really, it’s quite a spectacle. The arrogance is astonishing. The ego is overbearing. Is this how we find happiness? Deriding the poor as “miscreants”? Amazing.

      • Tuttabella says:

        I think the miscreants tthor was referring to are those in government power, trying to control people’s lives, not the poor and disadvantaged themselves.

  8. rightonrush says:

    OT For those that follow Nate Silver, well, he’s back http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/what-the-fox-knows/

    • way2gosassy says:

      That was quite a read! Thanks ROR for the link. It did confirm for me some of the things I have long suspected about journalism in general.

      • Tuttabella says:

        Sassy, I read your story, which unfortunately ended up at the very bottom of the thread (the first shall be last, but not least!), and I found it to be incredibly inspiring. That’s how the social safety net is supposed to work. Never downplay your own efforts, though. You may have been “lucky,” but it seems to me you worked your butt off and made excellent choices along the way.

      • way2gosassy says:

        Thank you Tutt, I did work very hard but I also made some incredibly stupid choices along the way. Thank goodness I was able to learn as much from those choices as I did from the good ones I made maybe more, not everyone is so fortunate. The biggest motivation for me to keep trying was the beautiful and trusting faces of my children. I wanted them to never have to struggle so hard to succeed.

  9. Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

    One of the things that might be fun (in a relative sense) is for those who seem fundamentally opposed to a minimum income plan to discuss how they think a minimum income plan could possibly work.

    I’m thinking of Stern, Buzz, Tutt, 50, and a few others.

    Even though you are opposed to it, what would it take to make a minimum income plan work? None of us have the raw data to help determine the exact dollars and cents, but what fundamental provisions do you think would be needed?

    This is not unlike the group of pro-choice folks here walking through the provisions that would be needed to implement restrictions on abortion after 12 weeks. Oddly enough, you could probably get a fair amount of pro-choice traction on restrictions with the right provisions.

    Sometimes, having the other side talk through their ideas can identify a fair amount of common ground.

    • flypusher says:

      I’m in the “I’ve got serious doubts” category. I don’t have time for a lengthy post here, but I can address what I think most of us see as the big sticking point- what about people who spend the $ foolishly? Supposedly one would be free to use the $ for hookers and blow ( or any other vices). Then that person can’t pay the rent / buy food. Perhaps a way around that is part or all of the minimum income in the form of vouchers- THIS portion is for housing, and you can’t spend it on anything else. This portion is for food, no exceptions. That at least might avoid the homeless and hungry outcome.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Keep following that logic or line of thought, Fly. The next logical step would be to have government provide the housing directly, and the food. What if people spend their money on other things and neglect their clothing? They will have to have that replaced, government provided clothing (actually governemnt issued clothing is very durable, I still have my BDUs from the middle 80s). Instead of giving people money, give them what the money is meant to be used for. That way they can’t spend it wrongly and be left without necessities. Somebody will need to provide the government with those goods, so we can assign those people to work crews designated by the government based on what it needs at the moment.

        Care to guess at the rest of the logical progression from there?

      • flypusher says:

        ” The next logical step would be to have government provide the housing directly, and the food. ”

        That COULD be a next step, but I dispute that it MUST be. It’s entirely possible to provide the $ with whatever strings are agreed to, and stay out if the rest of it.

        I also seriously doubt that people are going to neglect to buy clothes, not in this fashion obsessed culture. Not likely the ones they want, unless they find more income.

    • CaptSternn says:

      It can’t work. Human nature won’t allow it to work.

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        Thanks for playing our game. Here is your year’s supply of Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        TT…thanks for the heads up about Microsoft Excel. I knew I should have updated from Quattro Pro.

        Maybe we are quibbling about the specific dollars, but I think you would have to nudge your values up a bit. Many folks in the $50k – $100k range likely currently have lower effective tax rates than you have presented (in admittedly a quick proposal).

        Are we treating all income as income or are we doing something different with capital gains?

        I’m conceivable on this, but I’d really like to figure out a way to make sure poor folks aren’t paying more taxes so that richer folks can pay a bit less.

        Take this in whatever spirit you would like: I think I get your fundamental point with the language, but your focus on “coercion” causes some pretty serious eye rolling. I understand the principle, but folks living under pretty coercive forces likely would have a chuckle at us talking about coercion in the US.

    • Actually, in preference to a minimum income, I’d prefer exempting some minimum level of income from any form of federal taxation whatsoever. I’d prefer to do this with a 0% tax bracket in some modified version of a flat tax, based on the theory that not taking people’s money in the first place is preferable to taking it from them, and then doling it back out at the whim of the federal government. But adjusting the EITC appropriately and putting a floor on the income level at which payroll taxes take hold would have the same effect.

      In the same vein as a 0% tax bracket, if we were to institute a minimum income, *everybody* would have to receive it; there could be no exemptions based on circumstance (wealth, other income, etc.) If the playing field is to be level, it must truly be level. (That’s the whole point with a flat tax, or a modified flat tax. Actually, it’s the whole point with the rule of law, in general – everybody is treated equally in the eyes of the law, including tax law.)

      Financially rewarding people to do nothing is not going to prove socially productive; we’ve already demonstrated this rather thoroughly with the current failed welfare state. Likewise (and closely related), fiscally punishing those at the lower end of the income scale for attempting to be productive should be avoided at all costs. Treating people differently financially based on their behavior (i.e., working vs. not working) is a recipe for social disaster, particularly if we incent not working in preference to working.

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        I’m not a fan of a flat tax, but I am hugely in favor of changing the tax and welfare system so that lower income folks are not dis-incented to work due to reduced benefits that outweigh the benefits of increased working.

        I’ve yet to see a flat tax proposal that doesn’t drastically reduce my 39% top marginal rate and lower my overall tax burden. If my overall tax burden is reduced, someone else’s is going to go up. I cannot see the light that suggests it makes sense to make poor people poorer in order to make my taxes go down.

        We can talk about reducing the size of the gov’t so that everyone’s taxes can be reduced, but until you get to that reduced size, lowering my taxes will require other people’s taxes to be raised, and that doesn’t seem to be a grand idea right now.

        The discussion above is interesting in that it focuses on paying (or exempting taxes) from people who work. I think Chris’ and others’ plans involve paying everyone, even if they don’t work. This would ease the burden of having the working dad or working mom the ability to stay at home with kids. By focusing on taxes or wages, that incentive goes away. It also doesn’t necessarily help the person who wants to quit work and go back to pursue the geologist degree.

      • HH, 39.6% is the marginal rate you pay only on income above $467K/yr (married, filing jointly) – you don’t pay that rate on all your income. You really need to check on what your *effective* tax rate is. Unless you make oodles more than $467K/yr, your *effective* tax rate is nowhere near 39.6%. On top of that, your unearned income tax rate is considerably lower, and presumably, “Richie Rich” that you are, you have a whole bunch of deductions that lower your effective rate, too. I’m apparently not doing quite so well as you; my top marginal rate this year was 33%. However, with all my tasty deductions, my *effective* federal income tax rate was only 16.5% this year. I’m doing OK tax-wise under the current system, but under almost *any* conceivable flat tax scenario (with rates around ~20-25%), my effective tax rate would actually go *up* (as would the effective tax rates of just about anybody labeled “rich”). But, hey, that’s just the patriotic way to go, right?

        A flat tax (or fair tax) does away with all the ridiculous complication of the existing tax code – no deductions; no credits; no EITC; no payroll taxes; all income (or spending, in the case of the fair tax) treated exactly the same. It also does away with all the political gamesmanship surrounding the tax code; your tax rate is your tax rate, period – none of this confusion with effective vs. marginal tax rates that seem to so energize populist politicians. And best of all, everybody is treated *exactly* the same.

        As you mention, exempting a certain level of income from taxes affects only those who work. Bingo. This encourages work. (Or at least, under the current welfare system, doesn’t punish as much those at the low end of the income scale who choose to work and thus lose the benefits they would otherwise receive for *not* working.)

        Paying *everybody* some effective minimum universal income while at the same time eliminating all forms of welfare has pretty much the same effect as a flat tax with a 0% bracket and a continuation of existing welfare programs. If we had a pure flat tax (or fair tax), with no other form of federal taxation, and a complete elimination of *all* forms of federal welfare, I could get behind a universal minimum wage in a heartbeat. Would you be game for that? :-)

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        TT…very aware of marginal and effective tax rates, hence the discussion shifted to my overall tax burden. Not a richie-rich, but I’m blessed with a wonderful wife who makes more money than I do. Not necessarily a bunch of deductions in our household, but everyone’s effective tax rate is less than the top marginal rate.

        I appreciate your emphasis on “conceivable” flat rate plans because there are lots and lots of inconceivable numbers getting knocked around.

        But still, lets run with this a while. It takes X dollars to make the gov’t work (it actually takes X minus some huge amount, but there is a number there). Right now, your effective tax rate is 16%, and would go up with a flat tax of 20%.

        I believe Mitch Romney discussed some 47% of takers who paid no federal income tax. What is going to happen to their overall tax burden? If your overall tax burden is going up, what happens to them?

        I have no doubt you have thought this through more thoroughly than have I, but right now, poor folks have essentially all of their income affected by consumption tax (e.g., sale tax, gasoline, property, etc.). Wealthier folks get to sit on some income after they buy their yachts and such.

        If you can point me to a flat tax plan that manages to not increase the overall effective tax rates of poor people, I’m all ears to ideas of simplifying the tax system.

        To your point: “If we had a pure flat tax (or fair tax), with no other form of federal taxation, and a complete elimination of *all* forms of federal welfare, I could get behind a universal minimum wage in a heartbeat. Would you be game for that? :-)”

        I can’t tell if this is an argument to end welfare or an argument to push it down to the states and local gov’ts.

        Your plan is tied to income, so it obviously doesn’t address welfare recipients who do not work or work but do not earn a livable wage. I’m not fundamentally opposed to state and local control of welfare…until you visit Mississippi and a few lovely counties there. Local control certainly is not always best control, and then as soon as you start setting minimum standards and enforcement of those standards, then all of the sudden we have a federal bureaucracy to handle it.

        I think Lifer’s original position is a minimum income, then getting rid of all federal welfare. It seems the only difference (and not a small difference) is that Lifer wants to give it to me even if I don’t work, but you want me to work.

      • flypusher says:

        “It seems the only difference (and not a small difference) is that Lifer wants to give it to me even if I don’t work, but you want me to work.”

        I’d say that’s the number one problem people have with the idea. What percentage of people do you need to be working to make this run? What incentives can be applied? Not everyone is self motivated. Would your minimum have to be set very, very low ( and I suspect it would) so that you really can’t have any nice things if you settle for it?

        The prospect of having to pay again to bail out anyone who blew their minimum income (and I have no doubt some people would do it) also bugs many of us.

      • HH, I’m not *insisting* on work. What I’m suggesting is that we trade an insistence on work for an elimination of coercion. If we treat a universal minimum income as a *REPLACEMENT* for welfare (rather than an add-on), then I’m all for it.

        As you may have gathered from my past comments in this forum, I am not a big fan of government coercion in any form. Welfare is the *epitome* of government coercion; you can only receive welfare benefits by conforming to a long list of government-inspired behavioral criteria (many of which are ultimately self-destructive and soul-eroding, and virtually all of which are designed to increase your dependency, and garner your vote for the party championing your “benefits”). And then when people invariably attempt to game the system, we decry their actions and demonize their persons for failing to conform to some centrally planned social ideal. LOL. Far better then, to apply a universal minimum income to *all*, with no strings attached, and with all other forms of welfare eliminated. If somebody wants to blow his/her guaranteed minimum income on mary jane, that’s not my lookout.

        You may have arrived at the conclusion that I am somewhat misanthropic, given my deep-seated abhorrence for any concentration of power in the political realm. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have deep faith in humanity, hence my strong support for the concepts of individual freedom and self-governance. But I am also aware of the brokenness of the world, and of our nearly limitless capacity for human folly. Hence my concerns regarding concentration of power in a Leviathan central government. Say rather that I attempt to conform to Aurelius’ dictum of looking things in the face, and seeing them for what they are – especially as applied to ourselves.

        Like most of us, I possess an alarming mixture of good and bad qualities. I am by turns selfish, generous, lazy, industrious, curious, obtuse, loving, and less so. Like many here, I certainly recognize that a universal minimum income might serve to inflame my baser tendencies. Unlike some posters, I firmly believe that we are all more than the sum of our baser instincts, and a universal minimum income would do nothing to eliminate my finer qualities. Indeed, such a thing might even contribute to freeing them, since basic sustenance would no longer be a concern.

        Regarding the flat tax, I don’t support a “pure” flat tax. Rather, I support a modified flat tax with two brackets, one at 0%, and one at whatever percentage is required to support the legitimate operations of government. By adjusting the income rate at which 0% bracket ends, it’s easy to protect the poor from the effects of federal income taxation. And even though there would be only two tax brackets, *effective* tax rates would remain highly progressive, with your effective tax rate asymptotically approaching the face rate of the flat tax as your income increases. Note that a scheme combining some form of non-taxable minimum universal income with a “pure” flat tax on all other income can result in the same effective tax rate curves as a modified flat tax; it all depends on how you game the numbers.

        Speaking of gaming numbers, there’s this marvelous, miraculous, whacky, fun computer program known as Microsoft Excel. True, it’s a bit math-y, but you can game all sorts of interesting tax and income scenarios with it. I invite you to explore the possibilities.

      • HH, with respect to exploring the possibilities, here’s one very simple scenario. Let’s say we establish a universal minimum income of $25K/yr for everybody, and a flat tax of 20% on all income (of any form) above that amount, with no deductions, credits, etc. I.e., everybody is treated *exactly* the same. Here’s what *effective* tax rates look like at various income levels:

        $25K/yr – 0% (and *everybody* gets this “base” income)
        $30K/yr – 3.3%
        $40K/yr – 7.5%
        $50K/yr – 10%
        $75K/yr – 13.3%
        $100K/yr – 15%
        $150K/yr – 16.7%
        $250K/yr – 18%
        $500K/yr – 19%
        $1MM/yr – 19.5%

        Is that progressive enough for you?

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        TT…thanks for the heads up about Microsoft Excel. I knew I should have updated from Quattro Pro.

        Maybe we are quibbling about the specific dollars, but I think you would have to nudge your values up a bit. Many folks in the $50k – $100k range likely currently have lower effective tax rates than you have presented (in admittedly a quick proposal).

        Are we treating all income as income or are we doing something different with capital gains?

        I’m conceivable on this, but I’d really like to figure out a way to make sure poor folks aren’t paying more taxes so that richer folks can pay a bit less.

        Take this in whatever spirit you would like: I think I get your fundamental point with the language, but your focus on “coercion” causes some pretty serious eye rolling. I understand the principle, but folks living under pretty coercive forces likely would have a chuckle at us talking about coercion in the US.

      • HH, like I said, you can game the numbers as necessary to produce the desired outcomes. Tweak the tax holiday (and/or minimum universal income); revise the flat rate up or down, etc. (In reality, you’d have to carefully compare the resulting rates to expected/desired revenue generation based on the U.S. income histogram, but, hey, that’s what the CBO is for. Bottom line, if we are going to have a government that consumes 1/5 of GDP, we have to tax at that rate, too.)

        The flat tax treats all income the same, so no special breaks for capital gains, dividends, interest, etc. Income is income; rich folks don’t get special treatment for special forms of income. The rich man’s dollar is treated exactly the same as the poor man’s dollar. (BTW, if we were to do this,we’d also have to eliminate corporate income taxes to avoid double taxation. We’d go from the least competitive corporate tax structure in the industrialized western world to the most competitive. If this seems a bit radical, bear in mind that corporations exist for only one purpose: to produce income, i.e. profits, for shareholders. So tax that income when it is realized as income for individuals, and is paid out as dividends or capital gains.)

        There are social positives to creating as simple a taxation plan as possible. First and foremost, simplicity conforms most directly with the ideal of the rule of law – everybody, and every dollar of income, is treated the same, and it’s all easily understandable by just about anybody. Second, existing progressive marginal rates penalize success by placing an ever increasing burden on the last dollar earned. (The effect is not unlike the perverse incentive for companies (like mine) to remain under 50 FTE employees under Obamacare.) This last dollar earned penalty of progressive marginal rates affects not only the high end of the income scale, but especially the low end. Increases in marginal rates have a much higher impact on effective rates at lower income levels; the poor in this country are actually discouraged from increasing their income, tax-wise, under our current system. We’ve bandaged this problem with the byzantine monstrosity that is the EITC, but that’s hardly an ideal solution.

        I am sorry to roll your eyes, and I realize that coercion-wise we live in paradise compared to, say Venezuela, or Russia. Or for that matter, most of the social democracies of western Europe. However, for your part you should be keenly aware that we live under a degree of government coercion that would flabbergast our great grandparents. We are not unlike the apocryphal frog in the slowly heating pot of water; we are simply used to it, and are unlikely to recognize our peril until it is too late.

        Bear in mind that things went completely sideways in Germany in less than the time frame of a two-term presidency (the time span from the first anti-Jew legislation to Kristallnacht, from 1933 to ’38). My maternal grandmother had eleven cousins spread across what is now Austria and Hungary at the beginning of WWII; two survived. Those that perished died because they failed to act while there was still time; they simply could not conceive that what was about to happen *could* actually happen. No doubt they, too, rolled their eyes at the thought of their government turning on them. Ponder that, the next time you consider ceding more of your liberty to your government.

        When addressing almost any social problem, a range of solutions are available. I merely suggest that it might be best for all concerned, and for our progeny, to preferentially select the least coercive option from any given range of alternatives. (And, no, in case you were wondering, Obamacare was far from the least coercive option available.)

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Just a few quick points before starting a busy day:

        “existing progressive marginal rates penalize success by placing an ever increasing burden on the last dollar earned”

        The next person to say, “You know, I’m going to turn down that new job for $100,000 more because I’m going to be taxed an extra $4,600 on that extra $100,000 of my $500,000 salary” will be the first person to say that.

        The next person to turn down an extra overtime shift because, “Hey, that will bounce me into the 28% bracket, which means I would give up an extra $10.80 of that $360 out of my $90,000 income” will be the first person to say that.

        You have something of an argument at the lower end of the tax spectrum due to the bigger percentage jumps, but even then the “penalty on success” is $2,000 on a $20,000 raise for someone making $56,000.

        You could rather easily make the argument that we need smaller progressions at the lower end and larger jumps at the higher end.

        Regarding coercion:

        “you should be keenly aware that we live under a degree of government coercion that would flabbergast our great grandparents.”

        My great grandparents were born in the 1800s. We live in a society that would flabbergast my great grandparents in every possible way. Every institution has undergone ridiculous change, and it is not shocking that gov’t has changed as well. In some very real ways, we live in an era of unprecedented freedom.

        I suspect my great grandparents’ concern over low-flow toilets would be outweighed by the thrill of having toilet paper that came in a roll.

        I also suspect that your great grandchildren will be worried about apocryphal frog in the slowly heating pot of water because it won’t still be anywhere near boiling for them either.

        I think you and I probably are the only ones still reading this page. Have a great Wednesday.

  10. Texan5142 says:

    Wow! GOP women in Texas need to find a better more articulate speaker than this to represent them.

    • flypusher says:

      What a lazy substitute for thinking. While certainly having more jobs would be a fine thing, it does not follow that more jobs will cure the problem of not getting equal pay for equal work.

    • kabuzz61 says:

      I’ll be right back with a clip of the democratic left SJL.

      • flypusher says:

        Go right ahead Buzzy. We aren’t going to give her any passes if she says anything that illogical.

    • way2gosassy says:

      You are both right! She is very inarticulate and while more jobs are good thing eaual pay is even better.

  11. goplifer says:

    (reposting from below)

    Tutt,

    A minimum income would be available to everyone. I’ve talked about Charles Murray’s proposal which would send a monthly check to absolutely everyone. That money would be gradually taxed away at higher incomes. A better approach might be Milton Friedman’s idea which would send a check to any adult whose withholding for the previous month dipped beneath a certain threshold.

    Recipients would start paying taxes incrementally on income above the minimum as their wages rose, so there would be very little penalty for working while receiving the minimum.

    As for jobs, let’s remember that the decline in the number of commercial jobs that pay enough to support a family does not mean that work ends. My wife’s yoga instructor works, but she does not show up in the BLS statistics as participating in the labor force. Neither does the nice lady at the hospital who volunteers in the terminal ward. Neither does my next door neighbor who is at home raising three children.

    A minimum income would not create an underclass. It would change a lot of people’s field of decision-making, opening it more broadly. And very likely there would be more people able to participate in the higher-end of the labor market b/c far fewer people would be forced to quit their education for a lack of options. More than that, more people would have the freedom later in life to pursue a career change that required an education because they would have some minimum support to keep them alive while they did it.

    If choices are good in a free economy, then a minimum income would be a very good thing.

  12. goplifer says:

    All,

    Here’s a thought. Roll back the clock to 1890 and revisit the arguments about child labor and mandatory education. That is the closest correlary to our current (nascent) argument about a minimum income.

    Conservatives back then argued that child labor laws would lead to idleness and crime. Those jobs were the perfect preparation for the careers that awaited children of those classes. Schooling would ruin them, doing nothing to prepare them for labor market demands, rewarding idleness, and filling their heads with nonsense ideas that would ultimately make them harder to manage in the factory.

    They failed to recognize the coming emergence of an entirely new world of work in which a pool of educated laborers would be essential. They failed to appreciate that the cost we would sink into creating that labor pool would make everyone vastly richer. They were wrong, and the time they consumed delaying these measures cost us generations of undeveloped wealth.

    I would suggest that a basic income fits more into this category.

  13. goplifer says:

    JG,

    The theory behind this proposal is the opposite of Malthusian. It is based instead on the realization of Keynes’ dream of the 15 hour work week. The result would not be boredom, but freedom. With that freedom expect a lot of innovation, education, and creativity. We should also expect some idleness. We’re getting that anyway. People are people.

    How do we re-configure education for this age? The first step might be to create a more intelligent safety net that would allow people to use the education opportunities we’ve already created. It would also be a good idea to make it easier for people in their twenties, who have matured a bit from their earlier mistakes, to re-enter the education market. A basic income would help enormously with this.

  14. Tuttabella says:

    The more I think about this minimum income proposal, the more inclined I am to support a MINIMUM EDUCATION instead, something beyond high school, like a vocational program, to give people a base on which to build, so that they can take pride in their accomplishments.

    I understand the importance of giving people a helping hand, but we have to remember that pride and self-esteem are almost as important as having food to eat and a roof over one’s head. Many homeless people bristle at having to follow the rules of homeless shelters, and that’s something that must be respected. Our first instinct may be to say, “Dude, of course you have to follow the rules. You don’t call the shots here,” but I respect the fact that many prefer to live under bridges than have to kowtow to those who would give them a helping hand.

    • goplifer says:

      That’s a good idea. However…

      How do you get a minimum education when you need to quit school to feed your family? We already attempt to provide a minimum education, just like we attempt to provide a social safety net. It just isn’t working.

      • Tuttabella says:

        How about alternative methods of education, like night classes or Saturday classes, or online classes or self-study from home, providing them with free access to books, computers, and internet if they don’t have a computer at home? It may be complicated, but if you’re going to spend the money anyway, giving out food stamps, or just flat out giving them the income, I think this would be more practical for everyone in the long run.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Tutt, they already do and will provide alternative education. Also GED programs are very flexible. The only logical reason students don’t take advantage is they don’t want to attend.

      • Intrigue says:

        Goplifer, the very first comment on this blog is an inspiring story from Way2sassy. Why are we so quick to say it’s not working when there are examples that demonstrate that our attempts to provide a minimum education have worked? Are we relying too much on statistics to determine which programs are successes or failures and ignoring the real life examples or are we deeming these programs as unsuccessful before they even have a chance to succeed?

        My son will be attending the same high school I attended more than 20 years ago. When I attended, the percieved minimum education was a high school diploma or equivalent. I was one of the very few who went to a University and earned a BS degree. Others chose vocational programs offered through the high school. Some attended junior college and many went straight to work. Less than 1% failed to obtain the minimum education.

        Now the perceived minimum education is an associates degree. They offer a couple options for HS students to pursue an associates degree while they are pursuing their HS diploma. They also have structured the curriculum to promote an education path in the area of studies the student is interested in with the ultimate goal of leading the students to attend college and further their studies. Texas has implemented an incentive program where students who have completed Algebra II and are graduating in the top 10% their class will be automatically accepted to any Texas University.

        There is no doubt that my son will be recieving a better HS education than I recieved. I hope these newly implemented programs have a chance to succeed before they are deemed unsuccessful by people who don’t even know they exist.

    • Tuttabella says:

      Kabuzz, okay, so we’ve come full circle. If people are in a bad way, it’s their own fault, because they don’t take advantage of the educational resources available to them, worst-case scenario because they just don’t care, best-case scenario because they lack the motivation, or the example to follow. How do we motivate them? SHOULD we motivate them, or lead by example? Is it even our responsibility? Maybe not legally, but morally? Would our intervention even be welcome? After all, they do have their parents, and it’s not really our business to butt in. But if we see that someone is struggling, that with a little nudge in the right direction, we might be of some help, without being overly intrusive or showing disrespect toward the parents?

      I still think it comes down to education — with some motivation, inspiration, and mentoring so that kids know to take advantage of the educational opportunities, and not just giving them pure cash.

      • way2gosassy says:

        Sorry Tutt but may I “butt” in here and just say that given my situation as it was when I was much younger I would not have known that many of these programs existed if it had not been for one particularly dedicated job councilor who told me about these programs and mentored me through them. We don’t seem to get the right message to right the people in a timely fashion.

        You said “How do we motivate them? SHOULD we motivate them, or lead by example? Is it even our responsibility? Maybe not legally, but morally? Would our intervention even be welcome? After all, they do have their parents, and it’s not really our business to butt in. But if we see that someone is struggling, that with a little nudge in the right direction, we might be of some help, without being overly intrusive or showing disrespect toward the parents?”

        I have asked myself those same questions but it came back to me in the fact while my mother struggled to raise us she did not hesitate to ask me to quit school to help. Did she in any way feel obligated to encourage me to go back to school when my help was no longer needed, the answer to that is no. She herself had an eighth grade education and felt that it was more than enough for any girl to get by. We won’t go into why she felt that way. =) but my point is that I feel compelled to reach back when and wherever I can to give the same kind of encouragement to those I meet that might benefit from it. Just I received that encouragement from a total stranger I see nothing wrong in paying it forward. Any parent who would be offended at that is in my opinion fundamentally wrong.

      • Tuttabella says:

        Sassy, your comment reminds me of the story of my young cousin/niece, which I have shared online before. She lived in Spring and wanted to go to college in Tomball, but her over-protective father wouldn’t let her because it was “too far.” I was tempted to encourage her to go wherever she wanted, but I decided to stay out of it, because it would be encouraging her to defy her dad. I chatted with her, described my job, gave her some books and movies in French, and she said she wanted to be “just like me.” That’s the only thing I feel comfortable doing.

      • Tuttabella says:

        Sassy, my mom didn’t have great ambitions for me, either. Her main goal for me was that I learn a simple, basic vocation that would bring in enough money so that I wouldn’t have to depend on a man. That was a progressive goal in itself, but she never imagined that I had it in me to take my education much further than that. She was very protective of me, in her own way, and was afraid of my aspiring to too much, afraid that I would fail.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Tutt, the true answer is not all people are motivated or have a sense of achievement. If we did, we would be a nation of CEO’s. No matter, we will always need the worker bee.

        I don’t know what the answer to the dilemma is but I know what isn’t the answer. Throwing more money at it. I think in the digital age, we need to scrap the old way and build anew. Make it easier to accumulate knowledge. Personally, I can tell you from my experience that I can name the educators I had vs. the teachers who worked to get paid. I remember all the names of my educators and it was a long while ago.

        An agency is not going to fix this problem. It only has a small chance if it is handled at the local level.

      • way2gosassy says:

        Tutt, I appreciate you not wanting to interfere in a family relationship but I feel you do a good thing by encouraging her. Maybe a talk with Dad would have produced different results. I have mentored a dozen or so young people into going back to school but almost all of them had no close family ties to help. I have offered my home to 3 kids so they would have a stable situation in which to go to school while working. I think I learned a lot more from them than the other way around. Not everyone is willing to go that route and that’s is ok too.

      • Tuttabella says:

        Kabuzz, I also agree that the answer is not simply “more money,” and I also think we need to take care not to be too intrusive. We can encourage young minds, but we can’t dictate their lives. I do have populist leanings, and I want to help the disadvantaged, but one thing on which I differ from the liberal perspective is that people need to be left alone to their own devices, as autonomous and independent as possible. I don’t like the idea of intruding on the parent/child relationship, either. Most parents know what’s best for their kids, and not necessarily the noble “outsiders” who think they know better.

        I have no kids myself, and neither does Cap, so I have no personal stake in this issue, and the only reason I’m even in on this discussion is because Lifer brought it up the whole minimum income thing. I guess I do have a semi-maternal side that wants to help in some way, to plant a little spark in a kid’s mind and watch it take off, to make a difference.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Amen and very well said, Tutt. Parents don’t always get it right, even with the best of intentions. My parents made some decisions that held me back early on. I was doing poorly in early grade school, they and the school thought maybe I started 1st grade too early since my birthday was on the day a kid had to be 6-years-old to start. What they didn’t understand was that I was bored to tears by the 2nd grade.

        They did seek the advice form the “experts” and went with those choices. It wasn’t until later my parents realized the mistakes, not pushing me to higher standards, to my limits. Dad became a real advocate to push kids that showed promise early on, then fell behind later. But he mainly talked to the parents, not trying to undermine them, and he never went to school authorities or interfered when he wasn’t welcome.

        It is most important not to undermine parental authority.

  15. DanMan says:

    SSDD

    things looking normal at the pity place…sustainable income, freedom to be envious, dream of things that will never be, wishes for kisses, sunshine. lollipops and raindows

  16. Tuttabella says:

    Mr. Lifer, some of us question how your minimum income plan is supposed to work, because you’ve made some conflicting comments on past threads, such as: “A minimum income to anyone who works.”

    Works at what, if jobs are disappearing? With such rapid technological change leading to fewer jobs, and adding to that the guaranteed minimum income for those without jobs, which today you more plainly advocate, eventually you will have 2 separate groups — the work and the work-nots. Instead of throwing just enough money at them to keep them out of sight and in their place, just enough to ease your guilty conscience, to keep them from revolting and yourself safe, why not go all out and give them enough to truly improve their lot, teach them what they need to know in order to compete in today’s world and perhaps even overtake you in terms of success? Kind of like affirmative action, but class-based. Perhaps it’s actually you who are unwilling to tolerate being usurped by “those people.” It’s easy to be magnanimous when there is no real threat to your position.

    • Tuttabella says:

      Also, please understand that questioning how this minimun income thing of yours is supposed to work is not the same as rejecting it, and your links to old threads don’t necessarily answer our questions and sometimes make things even more confusing.

    • Tuttabella says:

      OV and Cap – So much for my Lenten vow of silence!

      • CaptSternn says:

        Meh, you take your vow of silence as you see fit, my dear lady. I am just watching to see if any can reply to your questions and observations.

    • Intrigue says:

      Tutt, I’m definitely not qualified to answer your questions as I have my own doubts and questions about this theory of a minimum income. From what I understand, the theory is centered around empowering low income citizens to take charge of an all inclusive allotment of funds opposed to our current system where they chase after small amounts of funds and have to adhere to stringent guidelines to obtain those funds. For instance, instead of living in a 3 bedroom government subsidized house in a poor performing school district, you have the power to choose to live in a much smaller apartment in an exemplemary school district. If I am at all correct with my assumption, I wholeheartedly agree with the premise of minimum income proposals.

      However, I have some of the same questions as you when it comes to implementing a minimum income proposal. I have read proposals that suggest every citizen, regardless of income, recieve this minimum income. On one hand this seems perfect. If you are capable of bringing in any extra income you are rewarded without the threat of losing your minimum income. On the other hand, it would be impossible to pay for such a program.

      Other proposals suggest you only recieve a minimum income if you fall slightly below minimum wage. This to me seems to mimic our social security system. We have senior citizens who have been enticed out of their full-time careers into this minimum social security check which is barely enough to survive. They can supplement this income by working but if they earn too much they will lose their ss checks. IMHO, this type of proposal would only continue to trap people into striving to retain their “benefits” opposed to motivating people to achieve a better life beyond their ” benefits” which seems to defeat the original premise.

      • way2gosassy says:

        I think that there are a lot of assumptions being made that if a minimum income were made available that most people would just quit working and hang out on the front porch, that humans in this country lack any ambition as a whole. I don’t believe that. I do believe that the 10-80-10 rule probably would apply here and that there is of course exceptions to every rule. The 10-80-10 rule implies that the first 10% are going to be the leaders or super achievers who are self motivated and ambitious. The 80% in varying degrees are motivated and largely successful while the bottom 10% represent those that do not fit into specific societal molds. They tend to need specific motivators to perform at any level and tend to measure success in their own terms.

    • goplifer says:

      Tutt,

      A minimum income would be available to everyone. I’ve talked about Charles Murray’s proposal which would send a monthly check to absolutely everyone. That money would be gradually taxed away at higher incomes. A better approach might be Milton Friedman’s idea which would send a check to any adult whose withholding for the previous month dipped beneath a certain threshold.

      Recipients would start paying taxes incrementally on income above the minimum as their wages rose, so there would be very little penalty for working while receiving the minimum.

      As for jobs, let’s remember that the decline in the number of commercial jobs that pay enough to support a family does not mean that work ends. My wife’s yoga instructor works, but she does not show up in the BLS statistics as participating in the labor force. Neither does the nice lady at the hospital who volunteers in the terminal ward. Neither does my next door neighbor who is at home raising three children.

      A minimum income would not create an underclass. It would change a lot of people’s field of decision-making, opening it more broadly. And very likely there would be more people able to participate in the higher-end of the labor market b/c far fewer people would be forced to quit their education for a lack of options. More than that, more people would have the freedom later in life to pursue a career change that required an education because they would have some minimum support to keep them alive while they did it.

      If choices are good in a free economy, then a minimum income would be a very good thing.

  17. John Galt says:

    A common thought has been voiced by several commenters, including Chris, about there not being enough jobs to go around in the future. This has a Malthusian air to it (and we know how accurate Malthus ended up being). For the entirety of recorded history there have been more than enough things to do to keep people busy and I don’t see this changing in any foreseeable future. In fact, we better figure out a way to keep most people busy, because nothing good comes from a society in which part works and part idles. Sheer boredom will generate mischief and if that is accompanied by rising inequality, it’s a recipe for disaster.

    The pace of change is accelerating. How do we re-configure education schemes to equip people with the skills needed to retrain every so often for new jobs? How do we reduce inequality while maximizing productivity across the economy? How do we ensure equality of opportunity, to the greatest extent possible? How do we minimize the number of people who are not cut out for the knowledge economy?

    • CaptSternn says:

      Why do we need to do anything of the sort? You work, you earn, you live. Or you can learn, invest, profit and live. You get replaced by a machine, learn to operate the machine, or learn to do something else.

      But you do have a point, sheer boredom is a recipe for disaster. That is what a minimum income would create.

      This issue with inequality is garbage. All have equal rights. Equal results is not relevant. Stop with the class warfare and using envy.

    • John Galt says:

      Where did I say anything about equal results? Where in my post did you get anything about class warfare? This is the problem with politics today (on both sides). Hard questions that deserve serious thoughts are dismissed with irrelevant tag lines.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Yes.

      • flypusher says:

        Class warfare is to the partisan right what the race card is to the partisan left- a convenient phrase to toss out as a distraction while dodging the actual issue/ question. Much like the octopus using a cloud of ink.

  18. Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

    There are probably a few thousand folks working at the Galleria today. Aside from the food court and skating rink, everything you can buy there can be bought online.

    As more and more people get used to buying more and more products online, those retail jobs (a bastion of low-skilled, entry-level jobs that allow people to buy boot straps on which to pull) are going to continue to go away. It will increase the number of call center and distribution jobs, but it will continue to drastically cut into the retail workforce.

    Even if we bring manufacturing jobs back to the US, the manufacturing processes still require fewer people to run them.

    It is good to be the person who fixes the machines rather than runs the machine, but even your electricians, mechanics, and instrument techs will tell you their jobs are turning more into “pull out the bad part and replace it with a new part” rather than actually repairing or rebuilding things. The price to manufacture new parts has become less than the price to actually fix the old part.

    Monsanto works more land with fewer people than 50 years ago, and those working the agriculture jobs still done manually are barely making livable wages.

    I think we probably need to have something of a rational discussion of whether or not we actually will have enough jobs in the future for everyone of typical working age.

    • flypusher says:

      I see healthcare as one area that can’t be outsourced or staffed with robots (at least in the near future). But like picking crops by hand, many of those jobs are physically arduous and don’t pay very well.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Why can’t healthcare be mechanized? Given advances in machine vision and tactile feedback, I see no reason why within a few years a robot won’t be able to draw blood at least as well as a human phlebotomist. Already computers are proving more apt than doctors at diagnosing MRI scans and other complex visual test results. And it’s not like robots would be that much more impersonal than many of the medical staff we encounter, unfortunately.

        The desire for human interaction, and the nervousness of having a machine working on our bodies, will delay the transition, no doubt. (Though already there are robots involved in surgery, when the patient is unconscious and won’t notice!) But the economic forces will eventually win out, as robots continue to become cheaper, faster, and better than human labor.

        I suspect my teeth will be cleaned by a robot at my biannual dentist visits by sometime around the time I retire. I will miss the chatter of the hygienist, but most people will probably be fine with a soundtrack or video while the machine whirs along.

      • flypusher says:

        “Why can’t healthcare be mechanized? ”

        I did qualify that with in the near future. The robots aren’t advanced enough yet in performing delicate tasks, although that could change. Even then there are still judgment calls that have to be made by humans.

        There could be niche luxury markets advertising actual humans doing the tasks ( be it health care or prepping food) even if automation takes most things over in the future. But that wouldn’t provide enough jobs for everyone.

      • GG says:

        Robotic healthcare is a fascinating concept. I’ve had enough doctors with lousy bedside manners that I’d almost prefer a robot. Most commercial planes are now automated and I’ve heard pilots talk about napping in the cockpit. They really don’t do much except take off and land now. I find that scarier than the idea of a robot operating on me.

        Speaking of robotic healthcare I saw some scifi movie set in space where the heroine programs a computer, gets into a plastic bubble looking thing and a robotic arm with different instruments performs an bortion on her.

    • way2gosassy says:

      I think the more immediate question is do we have enough jobs now considering that almost every new job created has an average of 3 people competing for it.

      • flypusher says:

        If you’re a 20-something who didn’t go to/ finish college I don’t envy you. Those people are really screwed.

    • kabuzz61 says:

      The skill is in knowing which part needs to be pulled and/or replaced.

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        No doubt about that buzz…but it takes fewer folks to do that than it does to repair and rebuild.

        A refinery is always going to need electricians, mechanics, and instrument techs, but they aren’t going to need as many of them. When I started working, you would find a couple of dozen electricians at a plant, and now companies are making it work with 10.

        However, currently (and for the next 10 years), there is a big gap in skilled trades. So, if you know any young folks with good mechanical aptitude and little direction, nudge them towards a quality trades program or apprenticeship system.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        I am a strong advocate for skilled labor. While I went through college I worked in commercial HVAC. I firmly believe if you can work with your hands you will always find work. I also remind many high school seniors I come across how much I made in HVAC. In Houston, that is something that will always be needed. ;)

      • texan5142 says:

        Agreed kabuz, I have been in maintenance for 30 years and there is almost always a job opening in maintenance. Thinking about leaving my job of 25 years to take a job for the Davis family. They own Davisco Foods and have a couple large dairies down the road from my house. They also own Cambria and just bought Sun Country.

      • texan5142 says:

        Good money in HVAC and skilled labor will always be needed.

    • goplifer says:

      ***I think we probably need to have something of a rational discussion of whether or not we actually will have enough jobs in the future for everyone of typical working age.***

      I think there may be another, far more important question we need to be asking ourselves right after we reach the inevitable answer to that question, that is – why do we need ‘jobs’ for everyone? If my plans pan out, my entire “productive” career will span about 20 years. I intend to do some work on the other side of that horizon because I like to, but it won’t be “productive” work in the sense of meeting my family’s basic survival needs.

      If I live to be 80, I will have held commercially productive job for roughly a quarter to perhaps a third of my life. That may be a long time for someone born today.

      And the work I did for fifteen years or so before that was minimally productive. I worked in a junk yard, restaurants, and bars. I stapled tar felt to the roofs of houses under construction. I worked in the publishing room of a series of law firms.

      I probably had thirty or more jobs, many of them at the same time, none of which had any relationship to my career goals. None of them could not have been better performed by a machine or a computer. They were just ways to pay the rent while I learned how to do something that would actually support me.

      Forget all the talk about life lessons and whatnot. We learn life lessons from whatever we do. Those jobs did nothing but make it take longer for me to build the skills I needed to compete in a career. Though they were occasionally amusing or enlightening, in economic terms they were a complete waste of time that interfered with the process of becoming a productive member of society.

      People who are already participating in the knowledge economy have largely stopped measuring their lives in terms of jobs or salary, though they often have both. They are primarily participating in entrepreneurial activities in which their primary compensation is in capital.

      Jobs may continue to have an important economic role in the future, but not the central role we are used to. We need to stop thinking of a job as the definition of character or productivity. It has no relationship any longer to either.

      As such, we need to find another way for people to survive. The only way “jobs” will do that is if we mandate employment through unions or some other interference in business. That will make everybody poorer by stifling dynamism and do nothing for us in return.

      • CaptSternn says:

        What? Mandate jobs through unions or some other interferance? How about keeping it simple, you don’t work, you don’t eat? Many jobs are simply to earn a living, pay the bills, buy food, the necessary things. A job usually doesn’t define a person. Most people work to live instead of living to work. Once a person earns enough to retire, they are free to do so. It doesn’t matter how long or short that time period is. Maybe their parents earned enough so they never have to work. No problem there as they are not a drain on society.

        And if nobody is working, ever, earning a living, where does the money come from to pay all the people enough welfare so they don’t have to work?

        Working in the service or construction industries are not wastes of time with no economic benefit. Builders run a business to build, they get paid and make a profit. In turn tehir employees get paid, so they have money to live on and do things they want. Generally, the person having the home built is working to pay their bills, and contribute by having the home built. That all contributes to the economy.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Sternn, you keep ignoring the question of what happens when there aren’t enough jobs to go around. So you’re going to consign to starvation anyone except those who are necessary and sufficient to keep civilization running?

        There will always be people working and earning a living. Under our currently developing economic paradigm, some of them will be making scads of money while the majority don’t. For every breakthrough app developer, there are hundreds whose programming efforts don’t catch on, and thousands who never had the educational opportunities to even enter such a market.

        So, yes, the super-rich who benefit most from the economy will be heavily taxed, to support those who can’t find work because that very economy has automated them right out of work. The programmers I know *enjoy* programming; they don’t do it for the money (though that’s nice) so much as for the delight in problem-solving. That will continue to be a motivation for work, as it is for so many successful people.

        I hope that many of those who end up on the subsidized end of the economic ladder will find or make jobs that generate some cash, even if they won’t quite amount to subsistence level. Handicrafts, visual art, performance of music or dance or theatre, clever designs for consumers to make at home on their 3-D printers, re-enactments at living history sites, and so on may become a way to generate spare cash above and beyond whatever the government-supplied minimum income might be. I tend to think of it as “the Etsy economy.”

      • CaptSternn says:

        Yes, Owl, I did web design, graphic design and programming becaused I enjoyed it. I was well compensated for a while as a result. Once I was no longer getting the financial compensation, I could no longer afford to spend my time on it. Paying the bills nad having money to do things I enjoy doing meant changing careers again. I enjoy doing IT work now, it is rewarding. That includes earning money, that is part of the reward.

        Think I would do it for free? Or to earn the same money as somebody sitting at home doing nothing? No, not a chance. Oh, I would still work on computers, maybe even get back into web design and programming, but for myself, my own blog or my own site, not for anybody else. I did that when I was doing web design and programming. I had several sites and domains, many just for fun, a couple for business.

        Think you are entitled to have me build you a web site? Better have deep pockets. Very deep pockets. Otherwise why would I bother to lift a finger when I could make the same money doing nothing?

        Do y’all even think about what you support or the consequences? I think not.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      @Houston-Stay-At-Homer: When maintenance becomes “pull out the bad part and replace it with a new part”, then robots will soon be able to perform the job just as well as people, if not better. The real art of maintenance consists of figuring out what’s wrong with a broken piece, how to fix it, and whether that’s more economical than simply replacing it. A doctrine of simple replacement all the time, coupled with advances in machine vision, etc., is a straightforward road to mechanization.

      I suspect you’ll still have a small population of repairers and restorers, in the same way as there are folks who still repair vintage furniture or maintain old cars.

  19. flypusher says:

    Everyone’s current situation is a result of things you could control (your choices) and those outside your control (what family your were born into, what genes you got, and other instances of good or bad luck). The proportions of the two and the details differ from person to person, but I challenge anyone to find an example of someone who was absolutely 100% boot-strappy (even the extremely talented people who achieve success despite starting in poverty find a mentor or three to help them on their way up).

    “When thinking about wealth, poverty, and virtue it is helpful to keep in mind that bad personal choices, sometimes morally compromised choices, can also be the gateway to enormous personal wealth. ”

    Look what a sex tape did for Paris Hilton’s “career”. The universe is definitely not a fair place.

    • desperado says:

      (even the extremely talented people who achieve success despite starting in poverty find a mentor or three to help them on their way up).

      Or a government program or 3 to help them on the way up.

    • kabuzz61 says:

      Besides making a very rich girl a rich girl celebrity?

      • flypusher says:

        Would you consider making a sex tape of yourself to be a virtuous and wise choice?

      • texan5142 says:

        If it was with Paris Hilton, yes.
        (Snark alert)

      • flypusher says:

        Did the guy in the tape ever get any $ or fame out of it? Definitely unfair, the universe is!

      • kabuzz61 says:

        I wouldn’t but apparently some would rather have the celebrity as the Kardashian’s. Poor choices for poor reasons.

      • flypusher says:

        “I wouldn’t but apparently some would rather have the celebrity as the Kardashian’s.:”

        Neither would I. This goes to Chris’ point that bad/immoral/stupid choices don’t always mean bad outcomes any more than good/ethical/wise choices always mean good outcomes.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Way too isolated as an example Fly. Some choices you can’t ever remove such as a felon, that will follow you forever and will hinder every move he/she makes.

      • flypusher says:

        Doesn’t seem to hurt the gangsta rappers that much, hell, a felony can be a career boost.

  20. way2gosassy says:

    I agree with Paul Ryan on one point, our welfare system to far flung with to many agencies that manage to many moving parts. It is inefficient in delivering and managing it’s many agencies.

    I also agree with Sternn to a small extent that the States should be managing health and welfare for their residents to account for regional differences in what is the true cost of living.

    The problem with allowing states to have all the decision making power is that some states will not provide benefits to all who need them equally.

    Most poor people in this country do work and most aspire to be able to provide food, shelter, clothing and education for their families. I can’t find many examples of people who do not want to do better than just getting by. Contrary to the remarks made by Paul Ryan, most people of all colors want to have a decent job that at least will pay them enough to live with the basics and preserve their dignity.

    We recently passed a farm bill that cut SNAP benefits to millions of our nations poor, most of whom are children, disabled, elderly and military families, while preserving subsidies to corporate farmers. Food is the cheapest form of welfare that has the greatest positive benefit for those who receive them. We have governors in some states that would deny those benefits to the children of convicted felons or someone who has failed to pass a drug test and yet in others we have Governors who are gaming the system by upping the “Heating subsidies program” in order to qualify their residents for more SNAP benefits.

    It’s just my opinion but I believe a more efficient way spending our welfare dollars is to place all programs under one umbrella. Call it “Health, Welfare, Housing and Social Services” if you like. Let the Federal government determine what the minimum level of assistance should be and what benefits should be required by the states to provide. Establish specific rules at the Federal level that the states must abide by in providing those benefits but allow the states to determine what their level of need is. We know that the cost of living in a state like California or New York is much higher than say a state like Louisiana or Alabama.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      Here’s an interesting aspect of the recent cut in food stamps:

      http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/03/13/289849253/states-rebellion-against-food-stamp-cuts-grows

      So many states are rebelling against the cuts that House Speaker John Boehner is urging his fellow members of Congress to act.

      “Since the passage of the farm bill, states have found ways to cheat, once again, on signing up people for food stamps,” Boehner, an Ohio Republican, told reporters Thursday.

    • flypusher says:

      “We have governors in some states that would deny those benefits to the children of convicted felons or someone who has failed to pass a drug test …”

      I can understand to some degree why some people would want a drug test for people on public assistance. After all quite a few of us have had to take one as a condition of employment (yours truly included). It’s only fair, right? But anyone who thinks that would save taxpayers any $ is totally kidding themselves. You would have to pay people to collect the samples, do the tests, keep the records, etc. You’d have to have an appeals process if you’re going to be fair (remember the story of the new mother who ate a bagel with poppy seeds, causing her to fail a drug test and have her baby taken away?). You’d also need to make provisions for the children of those who lose benefits due to failed drug tests, as they’re not at fault. So that’s even more tax $ needed for CPS, the foster care system, etc. So are you willing to pay for standing on the principle that people on welfare shouldn’t be doing drugs?

      I’ll have to go look up the children-of-felons-denial thing, but on the face of it, it sounds really, really wrong.

      • John Galt says:

        You’ve hit upon a fundamental question: no system can prevent fraud with 100% effectiveness, so how much are you willing to tolerate? If you are spending $5 to prevent $1 worth of fraud, then there’s a problem.

      • way2gosassy says:

        I may have misspoken a bit on the Governors denial of benefits it is a Federal law that does that, however it does allow some latitude for the states to decide on how long those folks would be denied those benefits. To make my point a little clearer I would add that the parents apply for the benefits and if they should be denied those benefits it also denies the children. At what point does anyone find this acceptable if you believe that children need to be raised by both parents ( in a perfect world). With very few exceptions I do not believe that people need to serve lifelong sentences after they have served their time in jail.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        The children who live in a home with drug addicted parents need to be removed from them anyway. That is what you do for them. The children need a chance at success and better role models. If the parents clean up their lives and prove it, they can go back.

        Even Obama states there is millions in fraud. There is no doubt that the system needs to be tightened up and yes someone deserving might catch a bad deal but nothing is perfect.

        Drug testing that may cost a couple hundred to test and maintain records is money well spent if it will save millions.

      • flypusher says:

        “Drug testing that may cost a couple hundred to test and maintain records is money well spent if it will save millions.”

        Methinks you are underestimating the first and overestimating the last quite a bit.

      • Tuttabella says:

        With respect to the regulation of welfare . . . I am opposed to drug testing as a condition to receive benefits. First of all, there is no correlation between the need for food and the use of drugs. A person who has a drug or alcohol problem should not have to go hungry. Benefits should be based solely on income level, number of dependents, etc.

        Also, just because some welfare recipients may use their welfare benefits in exchange for drugs, that’s not a reason to demand drug tests from everyone who is on welfare. It’s way too intrusive, and even people on the public dole deserve to keep their dignity intact.

        I also have serious doubts about the need for drug testing as a condition for employment.

      • flypusher says:

        “I also have serious doubts about the need for drug testing as a condition for employment.”

        I could see it for some jobs, where impairment could have some very catastrophic consequences.

      • Tuttabella says:

        True, Fly. My point is that just because many people have to undergo drug testing as a condition for employment, as in “we have to do it, so welfare recipients do, too,” should not be a justification for testing welfare applicants, and that perhaps we should also question the validity of testing job applicants, although Cap would say that a private company should be free to use any form of testing it wants, and job applicants who want no part of that testing have the option of going elsewhere.

        Drug testing for job applicants makes sense, so long as there is a correlation between drug use and job performance, but I see no justification for drug testing as a condition for receiving welfare. It focuses unfairly on a particular group of people. The goal should be to prevent fraud, not to keep people with drug problems from receiving benefits.

      • flypusher says:

        “The goal should be to prevent fraud, not to keep people with drug problems from receiving benefits.”

        When I think of welfare fraud, I think of things like people claiming extra children or faking disability or lying about their income.

      • Tuttabella says:

        Fly: Exactly.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Sorry to butt in, but there is a major difference between a private employer requiring drug testing and the government requiring it. Private employers can do it because they are not government entities, but government is not allowed based on 4th amendment issues. Government can do it (outside of government employees) as a condition for probation of parole, but those are cases where a person has some rights taken away through due process as punishment for a crime.

        I am against all drug testing to get a job or benefits. I think it should be impairment testing, not at all hard or expensive to do. But I am also against prohibition, it really is none of the government’s or anybody else’s business what a person does on their free time as long as they do not endanger others, like driving while intoxicated, flying planes or using heavy equipment on the job. If they can enjoy some substance, get plenty of rest and show up sober, or drive sober, that is what matters.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Every state that has tried drug-testing for welfare recipients has found that it costs more money than it saves.

        It turns out that fewer welfare recipients are drug-addled moochers than popular conservative rhetoric would have it. And the difficulty in avoiding false positives, using current technology, becomes larger and larger as you increase the size of the testing pool. Fairly testing the entire mass of welfare recipients rapidly becomes impractical, not to mention ruinously expensive.

      • flypusher says:

        More than one new-mom-poppy-seed-false-positive-drug-test, it seems:

        http://abcnews.go.com/US/t/story/mom-sues-failed-drug-test-poppy-seeds-22865452?ref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F

        I’d sue too.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        I will say I am with the Captain about drug testing. I am against it for all unless there is a risky performance problem.

        Tutt, if someone is applying for money/food claiming the inability to afford it, but can afford drugs (not cheap), there is a disconnect.

      • Tuttabella says:

        Kabuzz, I agree it’s messed up when people can buy drugs but can’t afford food, but to zero in on drug use as a deciding factor to determine welfare eligibility, just because a lot of people do it, is using false logic. It’s like testing everyone for caviar in their blood, just because a handful of people used their food stamps to buy caviar. Hey, if you can afford caviar, you have no business filing for welfare.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Tutt, it is very well demonstrated that people who receive food stamps and use drugs sell those stamps for their drug of choice. In essence, you and I are supporting their drug use.

      • flypusher says:

        I get the impression that there’s no distinction being made between drug felony for using and drug felony for trafficking the stuff. That’s really messed up. The traffickers are the ones who deserve the harsh treatment. But even their young children aren’t at fault.

    • way2gosassy says:

      This is also a pretty fair article on the subject.

      http://boards.medscape.com/forums/?128@@.2a0e5ac7!comment=1

      You make a mistake and go to jail serve your time but you will never see an end to the punishment. What is really bad is that your family is also punished for those same mistakes.

  21. CaptSternn says:

    Oh boy, more on this “welfare for all so none have to work” stuff. But on an earlier entry the same supporters were sayiong that a minimum income should not be above the poverty line, it should only be just enough so a person could barely exist, barely subsist, because otherwise if people could live comfortably without working, why would people work? Most wouldn’t.

    Had the dot com bubble lasted two or three more years, I would be retired. I would love to be retired and not have to worry about income, housing, clothing, food, transportation, water, electricity, gas, my fancy computer, my home entertainment system with widescreen HD TV, my cable TV and internet, phones, etc..

    I am not there yet. I do have a good job with decent pay and good benefits. I might be able to retire at 60, if I continue doing things right. How did I get where I am now? Through a few years of poverty, wondering if I could keep the lights on and where my next meal would come from. I was in poverty because of choices I made, and got out because of choices I made. No welfare or government handouts, no use of the social safety net.

    There are people that really do need a social safety net, but many using it don’t actually need it. They use it, and get their minimum income, just because they can. And they are not living in poverty. Getting the federal government out of it and making it more local would avoid having those that don’t need it live off of it.

    Having said that, one observation and some questions.

    Observation: Lifer says he is a republicabn, and republicans are racists. This has been a recurring topic/confession. I can only take from this that it is how he sees the GOP establishment he is part of and supports. We tea party folks and many other conservatives I know do not participate in such things nor do we hold such views.

    Questions: What is the minimum income? How much money per year, per month, per week? Is it all inclusive? Does the amount of government paid health care become a part of it, or would that health care be extras? Seriously, put some number out. Try to explain exactly how it would work. Do people with kids get more? Or do kids get the minimum income as well, maybe their parents administrate it? Or would the politicians administrate it? Would it be a trust fund? If yes, how would the parents pay for the needs of the kids? Have those calling for it actually thought about it? Or is it just a bumper sticker slogan, buzz word (no offense there, Kabuzz :) ). Is it the idea that people will contribute to the system based on their capability, and draw from the system based on their needs or comfort levels? I would also ask if they thought of the consequences, but that answer is obviously “NO”, or they wouldn;t be calling for it.

    • goplifer says:

      What would a minimum income look like? Depends on what we created. Here’s my proposal, though I’m starting to think it should be changed to look more like Milton Friedman’s, based on monthly income tax withholding:

      http://goplifer.com/2013/11/17/how-to-end-the-welfare-state/

      A list of other proposals:

      https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2014/02/09/should-government-pay-you-alive/aaLVJsUAc5pKh0iYTFrXpI/story.html

      And an approach to universal health care catered to American conditions:

      http://goplifer.com/2013/11/17/universal-health-care-for-the-ownership-society/

      Look, we already attempt to provide something like a basic income. We do it poorly. It is a dense network of bureaucracy and market interference that costs vastly more than it needs to and only meets the needs of those who are already deeply behind the poverty curve. It kicks in once someone is already screwed.

      That net includes dozens of programs, along with tools like the minimum wage and mass federally regulated unionizaton that reach deep into otherwise private business decisions. We know what would happen if we yanked the rug out from under our poverty supports. Just go to Mexico and see. But our method of dealing with this problem is too government-intensive to be effective in our time.

      So scrap it. Provide everyone a guaranteed income, a sort of national profit sharing, and dismantle the rest of the poverty infrastructure. Stop burdening the entire economy with the pointless effort of determining who “deserves” help. Shrink the government bureaucracy and the government footprint on business.

      If someone is actually content living on $800-1000 month I really don’t care. They weren’t helping me or anyone else by flipping burgers or delivering pizzas. I’ll buy my Big Mac from the McBurgertron 3000 and have a Google Car deliver my pizza. And I won’t have to tip anybody.

      I’m already supporting a welfare system. For a fraction more I could eliminate most of the hassle and make it something that might actually work. We’ll all be richer and freer for it.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Ok, so basically you would not use the minimum, or basic, income to rise people above the poverty line. You would keep them below the poverty line. You would scrap food stamps, housing, phones and all other forms of welfare, even for those that truely need it.

        But you would provide hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions of
        dollars in things like health care with no consequences to those recieving those benefits.

        By the way, who is going to flip your burgers or deliver the pizza when nobody is working? Who is even going to provide the raw materials? Going to grow your own veggies, hunt your own meat, cook over an open fire in front of you lean-to, catch your own fish? I was a scout and a hunter, I can do those things. Think your average city or suburb dweller can do those things?

        Make everybody pay income taxes when nearly half the nation doesn’t pay federal taxes, and to support those people that choose not to work and live off the system? To live below the poverty line as you suggest they do? If the majority choose to do so, fresh out of high school or even dropouts, who then pays for it?

        Or do you think technology will replace all those jobs, meaning even fewer jobs and more people living below poverty on their basic or minimum income? But who will run those systems?

        I appreciate your reply, but I still don’t think you have thought all this through. And you keep throwing around the word “libertarian”. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

      • goplifer says:

        Do I think technology will replace those jobs. Yes, absolutely. The only thing preventing that from happening already is a vast pool of desperate poor willing to work for so little as to make the capital investment unnecessary.

      • way2gosassy says:

        Sternn you out of hand disregard anyone’s opinion about the poor in this country and dismiss any suggestion whatever about how to deal with the problem. Your circular logic on why the poor are poor and who is and isn’t poor or how they came to that position is inconsistent at best.

        So please tell us just how would you deal with the problem of the poor in one of the wealthiest countries in the world?

      • CaptSternn says:

        What acts of charity I perform are nobody else’s business and not done so I can come on a blog and parade them around.

        I do wonder if any of you have lived around poor people? Or is it something y’all only sit around and pontificate about? What is poor anyway? I have known people that lived quite comfortably with very little income and no savings. I know people that live large but can barely make ends meet and will probably never be able to retire, always struggeling.

      • texan5142 says:

        No answer Sternn, come on man, the guy with all the answers does not have one. No one asked you what you do personally. Nice dodge.

      • John Galt says:

        “Look, we already attempt to provide something like a basic income. We do it poorly. It is a dense network of bureaucracy and market interference that costs vastly more than it needs to and only meets the needs of those who are already deeply behind the poverty curve. It kicks in once someone is already screwed.”

        I agree with this completely. Sternn does not because he is fundamentally opposed to welfare out of a belief that most people – himself and a few other hearty souls excluded – are shiftless bums whose primary goal in life is to sponge off those few “makers” in society. It’s not the nature of the aid, it’s the aid itself.

      • texan5142 says:

        The question was how would you deal with the problem, not what you are doing.

      • CaptSternn says:

        What problem? We aren’t talking about the sick, the disabled, the elderly, just people with little income and very little personal wealth. I have lived that way on occasion, by choice to change course. I know others that live that way and want nothing more. Most absolutely wanted no handouts or welfare, just to be left alone to their own devices.

        What is the answer to their choices? Leave them alone to their own devices as they wished. You call them poor, they would just shrug and walk away.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Sternn crankily demands, “By the way, who is going to flip your burgers or deliver the pizza when nobody is working?”

        Robots. There’s already a prototype machine that generates artisan-quality hamburgers using fresh ingredients. Let the technology develop a bit more, and it’ll easily surpass human workers in quality and cost-effectiveness. I foresee a future where the typical fast-food restaurant has no human workers at all: orders are taken at a kiosk (as some have already experimented with), machines make the food, and even the truck that comes by to empty the grease-traps runs using a descendant of the Google automated car.

        “Who is even going to provide the raw materials?”

        Robots. We’ve come a long way from the days when children had to climb into coal seams. People who can dig still run pretty cheap in wages, but mine disasters are pretty expensive. As robots get cheaper and better, there will definitely be a drive to lose only automated capital (ho-hum) rather than generate a 24-hour continuous news blender when a cave-in traps some of your mining labor. And we already have combines rather than lines of workers to pick many crops; automated fruit-pickers are under development, and it’s only the ridiculously low wages paid many migrant workers that prevents further development of agricultural automation.

        Really, Sternn, have some imagination. Supposedly you work in technology, after all.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Yes, Owl, we no longer have blacksmiths. We have other professions. We no lnger ride horses except for fun (for the most part). We have computers that run cars and computers that diagnose problems. But people have to plug in the computers and read the results, then replace the parts. Things change. Evolve, adapt or die. Don’t you believe in evolution?

    • CaptSternn says:

      You come up empty. Sound-bytes and slogans. I am not as well read or educated as TThor, granted. But I ain’t stupid. I guess you really aren’t trying to reach my type, people that have studied and done research, people that value the U.S. Constitution, people that value individual liberty and rights, equal rights for all but not necessarily equal results, Federalism and freedom.

      You would rather reach the uneducated, people that like the way things sound, all based on emotion rather than logic and facts. The truth is that those are the hardest to fight against, the most easily influenced through sound-bytes and ignorance, through emotion. What now?

      • desperado says:

        “You come up empty. Sound-bytes and slogans.”

        Followed by:

        “people that value the U.S. Constitution, people that value individual liberty and rights, equal rights for all but not necessarily equal results, Federalism and freedom.”

        Irony impairment strikes again.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Cappy wrote:

        “You would rather reach the uneducated, people that like the way things sound, all based on emotion rather than logic and facts.”

        No Cappy, I’m pretty sure Chris has given up on reaching you, buzzy, and DanTroll.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        A recent example Captain is Obama’s appearance on the Funny or Die show. His attempt to reach the lowest base uninformed voter. The office of the precedency should be held to high esteem not squander it on stupid, inappropriate shows.

      • texan5142 says:

        Did you feel that way about all the other presidents that went on comedy shows? Maybe he should have joked about starting a war under false pretense while troops were dying in the fields.

        http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mdDp_jlgC9M

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        Stern…I doubt you have really spent any time wondering about the actual reason why folks can drift into really disliking some of the things you say, but as a bit of a personal service, things like:

        “I guess you really aren’t trying to reach my type, people that have studied and done research, people that value the U.S. Constitution, people that value individual liberty and rights, equal rights for all but not necessarily equal results, Federalism and freedom.

        You would rather reach the uneducated, people that like the way things sound, all based on emotion rather than logic and facts. ”

        Make you sound like the talking head idiots on Fox (or MSNBC).

        “You uneducated stupid people who let your emotions control your thinking just cannot understand the true and right perspective that I have because I have done the research (and you haven’t), and I love freedom, liberty and rights (and you don’t).”

        The faux humble-brag that leads to your incredible pomposity that those on the other side are uneducated folks devoid of logic and facts is moderately astounding (and this is on a blog with a boat load of incredibly cocky people).

        I tell you, it must be difficult to live in a world with all of us idiots and inferior beings.

        I, for one, feel honored that you deem us worthy of your time and effort to provide us emotional, uneducated wrecks with your one, your true, your correct perspective.

      • flypusher says:

        “The faux humble-brag that leads to your incredible pomposity that those on the other side are uneducated folks devoid of logic and facts is moderately astounding (and this is on a blog with a boat load of incredibly cocky people).”

        It’s especially pompous and astounding when he makes pronouncements on science.

      • GG says:

        “I guess you really aren’t trying to reach my type, people that have studied and done research, people that value the U.S. Constitution, people that value individual liberty and rights, equal rights for all but not necessarily equal results, Federalism and freedom.”

        OMFG……….dude, you seriously need to take it down a notch. You are not a Constitutional expert no matter what you think and everyone on here values liberty as much as the next person. And really? “equal rights for all but not necessarily equal results”. That’s doesn’t even make sense.

        Pompous doesn’t even begin to describe you.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        If you can’t understand what ‘equal rights for all but not necessarily equal results’ you are part of the problem. But I do notice GG that you and Texan bring zip to any discussion. Just snark and judgment.

        Homer, get off your cross dude. No one is saying what you perceive. Your acting dumb schtick is getting tedious.

        If you applaud the ACA which forces us to buy a product, you don’t understand liberty and freedoms. It’s just that simple.

      • flypusher says:

        “If you can’t understand what ‘equal rights for all but not necessarily equal results’ you are part of the problem. ”

        Exactly who here has ever seriously advocated for “equal results”?

      • GG says:

        Wake up on the wrong side of the litterbox kitty? Me and Tex are just fine. I posted my opinion of Cappy’s pompous windbaggery. You rarely bring anything except whining and personal attacks against “commie, leftist, Marxists”.

      • texan5142 says:

        Answer the question kabuzz, did you feel the same way about other presidents went on comedy shows? Well did you?

      • kabuzz61 says:

        “And really? “equal rights for all but not necessarily equal results”. That’s doesn’t even make sense.” posted by GG today. I mean, really? Life is difficult for some.

      • GG says:

        Actually, kitty, life is pretty easy lately but thanks for your concern.

      • CaptSternn says:

        “If you applaud the ACA which forces us to buy a product, you don’t understand liberty and freedoms. It’s just that simple.”

        Nor the constitutional role of the federal government, Kabuzz. Well put, sir.

        HT, yes I can be blunt and direct, probably too much so at times. The left does generally go with emotion over logic, and the right generally goes with logic and reasoning over emotion. That is no secret or some vast right-wing conspiracy. That doesn’t mean the left is stupid or idiots. Ignorant and uneducated does not mean stupid. I am uneducated on many things, ignorant of many things. But when I want to know something, I do research and try to educate myself so that I am not ignorant on an issue. There are many things I do not comment on because I don’t know the subject. I have to scratch my head and start looking things up, or else just avoid it because I don;t have a clue.

        Lifer and Pelosi are examples of going forward based on emotion and not considering consequences or even if the government should be involved, even if it has the authority to be involved. This whole “minimum income” thing is a perfect example. People shouldn’t have to work, they just walk into a home and decide they like it and live there. Walk into a grocery store and pick up whatever groceries they desire. Walk into a restaurant and order whatever they want off the menu. They can be artists, musicians, whatever and not have to worry about anything other than what they want to do.

        But who provides the groceries? Who cooks and who serves them at restaurants? Who builds those homes? Who makes their clothes? Who makes their musical instruments, or their desired medium in art? Who provides them with health care when they are sick? In order to have a class of people that do whatever they want instead of being productive members of society at some point, or have parents that produced and gained wealth, there has to be an underclass, a class of slaves.

        That is using logic and looking at reality. Looking at the consequences. And still nobody has really addressed how such a system would work without a slave class or a complete collapse of society, except maybe for the guy that said, “From each according his ability, to each according his need.”

      • Turtles Run says:

        ” The left does generally go with emotion over logic, and the right generally goes with logic and reasoning over emotion.”

        This is really rich coming from a person that has disregarded every study and piece of evidence provided to him and his right wing pals. The only reasoning you have ever offered are opinions based on warp-reality twisting contortions.

        PUH-lease!!!

      • CaptSternn says:

        “Actually, kitty, life is pretty easy lately but thanks for your concern.”

        You got yours, to hell with everybody else. Life really is difficult for some. Maybe difficult times they get over, maybe long term problems. So much for that “compassion” from the left. Doesn’t mean they want handouts or welfare, but people do go through hard times.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Sternn plaintively cries, “In order to have a class of people that do whatever they want instead of being productive members of society at some point, or have parents that produced and gained wealth, there has to be an underclass, a class of slaves.”

        Perhaps, since you pride yourself on auto-education, you should look up the etymology of the word “robot”.

      • GG says:

        Cappy, you are the one who calls me a “leftist”. I do not.

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        Stern says, “The left does generally go with emotion over logic, and the right generally goes with logic and reasoning over emotion.”

        You could spend a few weeks and not come up with evidence for this other than, “I believe it to be so”.

        I think very sincere people on the other side would say the exact same thing about your side.

        I think we have at least a few left-of-center leaning scientists and engineers who roll through this blog. Oddly, when a study’ results do not go in the direction I thought, I cannot “feel” them into significance with my emotions. Oil companies will go broke if their geologists don’t put some logic, data, and reasoning with their, “I feel like there is oil right over there”.

        Meanwhile, we have some other folks letting some pretty interesting thinking affect their views on a whole lot of issues based on “faith” in a higher being.

        Of course, those are just my feelings getting in the way of all your serious thinkin’ and stuff.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Oh Homer how you lie. No one who has faith on this blog brings it into the voting booth. No one has ever said that. I can only imagine you are speaking through emotion. Don’t bring the faithful down with you.

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        Buzz,,,yes, I’m a liar. I admit it…but if I’m a liar, am I lying about admitting it?

        I think we have more than a few times seen some folks on this here blog state they are against same sex marriage based on their religion, and I bet there are more than a few folks who have voted in referenda on same-sex marriage based on their religious beliefs.

        Heck, there are those on this blog that even say they cannot communicate with non-religious folks regarding abortion and same sex marriage.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Here is what you wrote Homer: Meanwhile, we have some other folks letting some pretty interesting thinking affect their views on a whole lot of issues based on “faith” in a higher being.

        Your biggest and the left’s biggest mistake is thinking conservatives who practice their faith can’t separate it from the secular when it is far from the truth. Yes, because of my faith I do not support homosexual marriage. Does that mean I wouldn’t vote for someone who is a homosexual? How do you come to that conclusion? I believe through my faith that life is precious and God has a plan for that child. Does that mean I won’t vote for a pro choice candidate or someone I have no idea what they believe?

        Where I am fundamental in my thinking and voting is with the Captain. Adhere to the constitution, leave my freedom and liberty alone and let us succeed or fail on our own. I will take that into the voting booth.

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        Buzz…I don’t think the question was whether you would vote for a gay candidate.

        I think Stern’s point was the the left is making decisions based emotions while the right is making decisions based on facts and data.

        Stern did not specify Buzz in that comment.

        I think you could probably find a whole mess of folks who have voted against same-sex marriage due to their religious beliefs in the various referenda around the country. Generally, the most vocal groups against same sex marriage are religious groups, and they generally are very active any time there is a same-sex marriage provision on a ballot.

        Since you are not using your faith in the voting booth, were such a same-sex referendum be on the ballot in Texas, I am confident you would vote in favor of same-sex marriage.

        I am confident you would vote for a slightly more qualified constitution loving, GOP, fiscally conservative Muslim over a constitution loving, GOP fiscally conservative Christian.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Homer, that is not what I am saying at all. You ask me directly if I support homosexual marriage I would say no. If it is on my ballot and asked, I will say no. There is no contradiction there. Just because I would vote that way does not make me think everyone must think and believe like me. That is where the Captain is correct. The left is so emotionally driven that not only do they want their own way but they also do not and will not tolerate a dissenting opinion.

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        Yes Buzz…the left is one monolithic block that always believes the same way and refuses to listen to any other side…as obviously evident in the postings above on this topic.

        I know you like to say that I play dumb (really, I am dumb), but you sometimes have to admit that the stuff you write can every once in a while be difficult to follow.

        You seemed to be concerned when I said that some people’s faith influences their rational and fact based thinking thinking. You appeared to argue that you leave your faith outside the voting booth. In fact, you said, “No one who has faith on this blog brings it into the voting booth. No one has ever said that. ”

        This surprises me because a lot of people I know bring faith into their voting decisions, so I’m kinda confused why you seemed to take umbrage at the thought.

        So, I’m kinda curious why rational and logical arguments you would use to justify a vote against same sex marriage.

  22. texan5142 says:

    Pass the popcorn

  23. texan5142 says:

    Pass the popcorn please

  24. kabuzz61 says:

    Just like Obama you stand behind the poor to make your cheap, very cheap political points. And right away, the echo chamber clambers on board.

    Ben Carson a ‘tragic’ figure? That is your righteous indignation showing. You amaze me Chris. You being the most judgmental AND trying to be the moral compass while broad brushing an entire country of the GOP and conservatives. I don’t expect you to see the disconnect but at least we do.

    Also telling that you have no links to any GOP leader ever saying they want to end welfare. Or hurt the poor.

    And Homer thinks a president can legislate. That’s telling also.

    • texan5142 says:

      So says the judge mental cat.

    • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

      Buzz…I can only assume you are just looking for folks attacking you and lashing out at seen and unseen forces.

      I think you could probably read my post a few dozen times and never ever find any suggestion that anyone thinks the President can legislate. I’m kinda serious…where do you get that? And maybe more importantly, why?

  25. Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

    As a wild and flaky liberal, I have no doubt that it will be Republicans that are the linchpins to fixing (or destroying) our welfare system and what the country does with poor people.

    I think Democrats are too worried about stopping Republicans from slashing and burning the system to provide any significant overhauls. They spend their time defending the existing systems from real and imagined attacks.

    If you read the comments from the dastardly libs here, I think it is safe to assume most of want a high functioning Republican party. Almost all of us really do believe the country will be better when the GOP is represented by more young people, more minorities, and more women.

    With a broader, more diverse base, there can be a balance that has a better perspective of what it is like for a single parent raising a kid while still being a fiscal conservative. More women in the GOP would at least provide a chorus of folks urging Republican men never to discuss rape during a campaign. A larger, more vocal minority population in the Republican base would allow for a better perspective of the realities of being a minority in 2014.

    The larger minority and female base will cause some constructive discomfort because not all of them will will have the same talking points as Hermann Cain, Ben Carson, or Sarah Palin.

    The Democrats having to try to reconcile Ben Nelson and Dennis Kucinich belonging to the same party probably made them better.

    You know, after writing all this, I’m now not sure it will be a Republican that does it. It may be the first minority female Democrat President who just says, “Look, this isn’t working, and I’m going to work with the GOP to fix it.” Of course, that all would be contingent upon having a Bob Dole (earlier in his career) or a Jack Kemp on the GOP side that would listen.

    • Manhattan says:

      Houston-Stay-At-Homer, the 4th paragraph is pretty much of what I thought what should be done with the GOP and the only way to go forward I knew it for years ever since I’ve been watching politics 11 years ago, but when I talked to conservatives or Republicans about reaching out, all I got was the RINO response and that somehow in order to reach out, the party has to become the Democratic Party or Democrat Lite. If I had a nickel every time the last part of my sentence, I’d be rich.

      Honestly with outreach in the past, we just don’t show up and then some Republican who honestly has never had much experience with any voter outside the base says something stupid and insensitive that alienates people who would agree with and vote for Republicans but can’t due to the bad taste. But these groups who don’t feel welcome have to get involved too, but not just small groups like in droves instead. Neither side can expect the other to change their mind and see the error of their ways. It takes two to tango as they say.

      Most of GOPlifer’s ideas came from the Republicans of the moderate to liberal (read: almost extinct) wing like the minimum income.

      Houston, there is a book called Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party from Eisenhower to the Tea Party by Geoffrey Kabaservice. Moderates in the 70’s tried to convince the party to open the doors to minorities, women and the youth and fell on deaf ears mostly because it might’ve alienated the new Republicans that came in during the 60’s and the ideological balance. I learned that Republicans like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were actually from the moderate wing before becoming right-wingers. The book is well researched and shows how the Republican Party changed (not necessarily for the better) in almost 50 years.

      The point of the book was that the moderate to liberal wing of the Republican Party was instrumental and took part in achievements that were thought of as Democratic achievements. They tried to make a third way beyond big government liberalism and small government conservatism. That wing getting purged out over the course of 50 years has made the party unable to function and appeal to a broader section of the county.

  26. bubbabobcat says:

    Thank you Chris.

    That’s all I have to say. (To quote the great philosopher F. Gump)

  27. way2gosassy says:

    I can hardly wait to read the comments on this one!

    Today Republicans would thumb their noses at the Jack Kemps of the party who believed that by concentrating poverty into urban areas you were not giving the improverished an example to aspire to.

    Jimmy Carter and Habitat for Humanity put that premise to the test with amazing results. The basics are that you provide a home for a poor family by doing two things. One is that they be willing to spend x number of hours in helping to build someone elses home and then spend the time helping to build your own. The home is not free by any stretch but by building “sweat equity” into the home you give that person skills in maintaining the home and the pride of ownership. Second these homes are not usually located in poor areas so the schools are a bit better and the kids are exposed to a better lifestyle.

    I was one of those kids that you talked about that had to quit school to help support my family. I’m not at all sorry that this happened because it gave my younger siblings an insight into what it takes to make it in this world. I struggled just to pay the bills a short time later when my 3 kids were small because I didn’t have an education. I was fortunate in that the Texas employment agency at that time was offering on the job training programs that paid both the employer and the employee to participate. Once I qualified for my job and was put to work full time I found another opportunity to further my education with a grant from the Federal Government that allowed me to go to school at night to get my high school diploma.
    Several years later I applied for a Pell grant in order to go to college, again, at night. With every step I made I improved my situation, but I was not alone and I had a lot of help along the way. I put everyone of my kids through college and each of them have pretty good jobs.

    Being white I was offered more opportunities to improve my life and that of my family. I was lucky, minorities are not given those same opportunities. It was those same state and federal safety nets that helped to lift my family out of poverty that people like Ryan would abolish today.

    You can teach a man to fish so he will never be hungry but we still need to support him until he learns.

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