When my late grandmother was a girl in rural Arkansas, no one had a job. Everyone old enough to walk and carry a pail worked from dawn to dusk. Work was endless, cruel and utterly universal, but a “job” in term of formal employment for wages, was rare. Those few who had been reduced to performing paid labor for someone else were at the bottom of the social and economic scale, a grim, defeated remnant.
My grandmother’s world was a time-capsule from an older, pre-capitalist society in which land ownership determined rank, and rank determined economic outcomes. Almost everyone worked in agriculture. A thin class of merchants, professionals and tradesmen occupied the small towns, serving the needs of farmers. In that environment, people who worked for wages tended to be impoverished and desperate. Alienated from the land by some form of misfortune they were society’s most pitiable figures.
We often hear assurances that disruptive technological innovations will create more jobs to replace the ones they destroy. Evidence for this comforting notion comes from a look at overall job creation over the last century or so. That may be too short a span of time and too great a confidence in continuity.
People did not always have jobs. In fact, the idea that responsible adults were supposed to have a “job” has only been around for a few generations. Our economy was not always built around employment. There is no reason to expect that it always will be. Capitalism created our very notion of a job. Capitalism is well on its way to replacing that concept.
Whatever jobs capitalism creates are incidental to its central purpose. What capitalism does is replace manual effort as the means of generating value. That may or may not create any jobs. Let’s review.
A person works 50 hours to produce 50 units of value. Instead of consuming all fifty of those units, he and ten other people each take 10 of those units and invest them in a project of some kind. Maybe it’s a machine, or a canal, or a company that will do the work in a different, more efficient manner. That new enterprise allows them to produce five times as much value from the same overall investment of work. From the returns on their successful investment come new investments that transform other kinds of work, and the cycle takes on an exponential character. Value, invested in improvements, yields new value beyond what was possible through labor alone. Capitalism may or may not create a job for someone, but capitalism always replaces work.
An example of this process can be seen in the story of the Pecan Shellers Strike in Depression Era San Antonio. This sheds light on the way innovation, organization, and government interact to facilitate capitalism.
In a strange twist, pecan production in San Antonio had previously been an industrial operation, but in the late 1920’s major producers stopped using machines. A massive influx of refugees from Mexico’s Civil War gave them a cheap source of labor, politically impotent, economically desperate, and willing to work for subsistence. Faced with this massive pool of exploitable labor and no political force to check abuses, businesses that controlled access to the pecan supply reverted to a pre-capitalist, almost feudal model of production. Capital owners lost their incentive to continue investment and became rentiers.
Entire families, including small children, worked to manually shell pecans in a style of labor that would have been familiar three hundred years before in Europe. Output dropped along with productivity and prices to consumers rose. As profits wobbled, producers simply placed more pressure on desperate workers.
First workers began to organize. A strike organized by a newly formed union won small wage gains for workers, but kept them locked into miserable conditions.
Next came government intervention in the marketplace. Labor organization achieved little through strikes and negotiation, but by organizing they were able to begin exerting political pressure. What broke this situation was a cultural/political innovation that tipped the balance in favor of technical innovation – a minimum wage. The Roosevelt Administration in 1938 intervened to ensure that the pecan shellers were covered for the first time by a federal minimum wage. That wage was significantly higher than what the shellers were earning previously.
With the stalemate broken by government regulation, capital owners resumed investment. Within months after the federal government imposed a minimum wage, an industry that had employed more than 12,000 people had roughly 3000 workers. Soon that number had dropped to a few hundred. Where thousands of people, many of them children, had been earning a penny or two an hour, a few hundred people were now earning more than a dollar an hour while machines performed most of the labor. The union disappeared, its workers dispersed, and its purpose diminished. On the capital side, less innovative and efficient producers went out of business, eliminating the rentiers, and the industry consolidated around the most successful investors.
What did the newly unemployed do with their lives? Attend school, mostly, since the bulk of them had been children. In strictly technical terms, the final arrival of industrial pecan production produced a net gain in “jobs” since none of the people involved in pecan production previously were employed in any formal sense. The arrival of industrial capitalism, paired with intelligent regulation, replaced the informal though brutal labor of thousands with a few hundred people who now had a “job.” Capitalism eliminated hundreds of thousands of hours of manual labor while creating the” job.”
What capitalism giveth, capitalism taketh away. Consider the evolutionary process we see in the Pecan Sheller’s strike and then extend it forward. What you see is the constant, relentless replacement of human work with technical innovations funded and enabled by capitalism. Sometimes capitalism creates jobs, but usually only where no formal employment existed before. Capitalism gave rise to the “job” as an intermediate stage. We are moving past that stage.
A fortunate few pecan workers saw their wages rise while the rest of the labor pool disappeared. As this cycle has repeated, the immediate rewards have consistently landed in fewer and fewer hands. Through cultural and political innovations (public schools and welfare programs), we have managed to spread the benefits of innovation beyond the immediate winners. Now we need to recognize our changing circumstances are create new methods to do this again.
Look closely at the labor which was replaced by one worker. The man (it would have been a man) who worked in the new pecan-shelling factory was now earning enough to support an entire household in a style far better than they would have enjoyed before. Previously, that family of six or eight would all have been working at shelling pecans. Now one person did that work using machines, freeing up a parent to tend to the family and children to attend school. That school could now be funded by taxes imposed on workers earning far higher wages and on capital owners making tremendous profits.
At the same time elsewhere in the world, other societies were experimenting with socialism to achieve similar goals. Their results ranged from marginal to disastrous. Our approach worked well because we were careful not to crush the freedom of capital owners to invest in new innovations. Instead of imposing central ownership of capital with the bureaucratic rigidity of collectivism, we kept capitalists free to make their own decisions.
Replacing human work with capital plus machines created a new wave of value. Political innovations channeled a portion of that value into a process that gradually converted a city of wretched slums into a first world metropolis. With each new cycle of innovation, more work has disappeared. In earlier cycles, almost all of that work was mechanical, replacing nothing but muscle. But as it had advanced, mechanization is being replaced by even more lucrative automation, replacing non-mechanical human functions.
Changes in the character of work in our time are putting new strains on the “job” as a social construct. Fewer Americans are “employed” than at any point in our post-agricultural history and the number is in continual decline.
Our political and economic order came to be organized around the idea of a full-time job. A job is where we get money. A job is how we get access to health care. We enforce our notions of fair play, economic justice, and basic human rights by regulating the terms of a job. When Donald Trump sees a protestor at his rally he tells them to “get a job,” because good, decent citizens have jobs.
What happens when the same economic forces that only a short time ago created our concept of a job suddenly render that concept obsolete? We have already entered an era in which jobs are transient, popping into existence and then disappearing in a short span of time. Fewer Americans than ever before are ‘in the workforce’ by the terms we have defined. More and more people earn their money from activities that do not look like a job. That trend is accelerating.
Just a decade ago, about 100,000 Americans worked in the video rental industry. The largest employer in that business, Blockbuster, employed more than 60,000 people at its peak. If wages for corporate office employees are included, then the average worker at Blockbuster earned about $35,000 a year, adjusted for inflation. Today, more than 95% of those workers have lost their jobs.
More than any other company, Netflix represents the force that destroyed the video rental industry. Average annual earnings for their employees are well over $125,000. Software developers and IT engineers there can earn base salaries in excess of $200,000, along with stock compensation that can double that amount. Instead of supporting 60,000 workers, Netflix has 3000 employees.
Given the compensation involved, it should not be surprising that careers in these new industries tend to start late and end early. Fifteen years as “labor” in a company like Netflix is enough to allow someone to spend the rest of their life earning a living from capital. Across of much of their remaining life, that former Netflix employee will be technically out of the labor force. And for many of the years prior to working at Netflix, that employee would have been technically unemployed, occasionally showing up in census records in the bottom-earning quintiles.
This new pattern of employment contributes to one of our most worrying economic trends, the rising earnings of the 1%. Our Netflix employee at different points in her life might show up in economic statistics as “poor,” “unemployed,” “out of the labor force,” and also spend several years earning wages that rank in the highest 1%. In fact, a study at Cornell found that one in twelve Americans will earn wages in the top 1% at least one year of their careers. Almost 40% will chalk up at least one year in the top 5%. Netflix employees at different points in their career arc are padding our measurements of the 1% and the poor.
Combine the statistical impact of workers displaced by the rise of companies like Netflix with the strange statistical impact of workers benefiting from these trends and the result is a hopelessly confusing muddle. When we examine employment and income we still see them through the lens of 20th century industrial capitalism. We are living through a massive economic boom making Americans richer, freer, and more in charge of their own futures. When examined through a 20th century framework it looks a lot like a Depression.
Our political innovations are dragging behind our technical progress to a degree that is threatening an earthquake. A combination of capitalism and technology is innovating us out of a job, and on the whole it is a fantastic thing. When thousands of pecan workers lost their jobs to political and industrial innovation, the results were fantastic. What made those results great was our willingness to change our culture to spread the value created by capitalism. Taxes funded schools. Regulations blocked capital owners from exploiting workers to extract rents. We adapted quite well.
Adaptations that helped my grandmother’s generation absorb their new realities have lost much of their utility. In our next stage of economic advance, our most lucrative work will start relatively late in adulthood, after many years developing knowledge, skills and experience. That lucrative work may or may not look like a job.
More people than ever before will earn the bulk of their living from accumulated capital. Labor, in a traditional sense, will evolve into narrow specialties or creative enterprises. Most manual labor will be in service professions. Even the most financially successful workers will have to survive many years of adulthood with minimal incomes, or none at all. This new economic order is already producing vastly more wealth than anything that came before, but it has also broken the political and cultural model under which we still live.
With no adaption, our current economic and political model will create a terrifying rift. Currently, people with significant family support or inherited money are the only ones who get to participate in this new economy. If you cannot survive from the ages of 17 to about 30 without a steady income while also investing significant capital in your own professional development, you cannot cross the chasm. Millions of talented people are being left behind. We are all losing what they could have contributed.
Relatively few of San Antonio’s pecan workers made the leap to industrial work, but they didn’t have to spend ten years in expensive education and unpaid internships. Adaptations that worked in that environment are not working anymore.
A basic income could preserve the potential of this emerging economic model. Adaptions created to cope with 20th century conditions are reaching the end of their usefulness. Our best hope is a model that makes everyone a stakeholder in this economy while preserving the freedom of capital owners to invest and innovate.
A minimum wage, regardless how high it may be set, provides no relief to those without a job. As the jobs era comes to an end, it is time to start looking for ways to deliver a more meaningful shared prosperity. A basic income is the logical answer to a post-jobs economy.
Orrin Hatch says this last week:
“He could be headed in that direction,” replied Hatch who has served as either chairman or ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1993-2005, “This [nomination process] is all about the election.”
“The President told me several times he’s going to name a moderate [to fill the court vacancy], but I don’t believe him,” Hatch told us.
“[Obama] could easily name Merrick Garland, who is a fine man,” he told us, referring to the more centrist chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia who was considered and passed over for the two previous high court vacancies.
Today, Obama nominates….. Merrick Garland.
Have fun walking that one back now Orrin. Obama continues to play chess while these guys play checkers. Its frankly a win-win. If the GOP holds hearings and confirms they look inept, partisan and incompetent for their earlier promises to not even hold hearings and then to do just that. As far as the court itself goes, nominating a moderate centrist to replace the extremist Scalia is a big win, moving the center of the court significantly leftward.
And if they insist on honoring their doubling diwn on their unforced error of refusing to even hold hearings, it gives lib groups huge firepower to attack the GOP on in key Senate seats for being outrageously obstructionist.
Obama is teaching these guys a lesson at the game they invented.
RE: Pres. Obama nominating Garland….(which will be announced in about 10 minutes), and what the GOP reaction will be….The only quality Republicans have more of than ego is pride. They will not concede to a nomination hearing. I don’t care who O nominates. They are already a laughing stock of the nation with this election, do you really think they would pour gasoline on top of a fire that is already blazing? What a master series of blunders.
Yep, the ink on the SCOTUS nomination form hadn’t dried before Speaker McConnell publicly reiterated the Republican position of no action. No surprise there. Lifer is correct. The Republican Party needs a major political comeuppance or they will continue along this path of obstruction. They are so smug in their self-righteousness. Pompous and self-serving. When will Humpty Dumpty fall off of the wall?
I wonder if Obama was already planning to nominate him, and Hatch just accidentally served himself up on a platter.
If you look at the other possible nominees (Srinivasan, Watford, Kelly), they are all well respected, young, and have a great shot at being nominated in the next administration (assuming a Democrat wins). If you were one of these people, would you even *want* to be nominated now and walk through a searing, brutal nomination battle, knowing you have a good chance of being unsuccessful? And knowing that once your nomination has been killed once, you will likely never have a shot again?
Garland, OTOH, given his age, knows that this is his only shot at the SC. A new President will likely choose someone younger, and possibly less centrist (definitely if it’s a Republican, but even a new Dem President would likely look for someone more liberal). Which means of all the people on the shortlist, he’s probably the only one who would even have agreed to be considered.
IOW, I would bet good money Obama was deciding to name Garland soon anyway. Now the real question, for people who love Washington inside baseball, is why would Hatch blurt something like this out? It might have truly been a mistake. But Hatch is not that stupid. He’s been in DC a long time, and used to be judicial cmte chair. Hatch is an institutionalist (i.e. he respects the institution of the Senate), which means he probably personally feels that they should at least consider Obama’s nominee, and even confirm him if he’s a good candidate. But he can’t say that officially thanks to McConnell’s block out.
In diplomacy, when official channels of communication are cut off, back channels are always, always maintained. Could this be back channel communication indicating that institutionalist Senators are indicating their preference to Obama and telling him they would buck McConnell if Obama selects Garland? I guess we’ll find out soon enough…
We’ll have to wait for O’s memoir!
WTH Bernie. Superdelegates, really?
Btw, the scorched, 2nd amendment-asserting Trump sign gets more beautiful with each passing day. Have updated my photo, but it will take a while to show up here.
I hope if (let us pray………) Drumpf loses to Hillary that someone will place a black wreath on that scorched sign……in the dead of night, for sure (-;
Better make sure Hillary gets the nom (looking much better) and wins the job before ordering the wreath, MassDem! Photos will be appreciated….telephoto lens works great!
He’s not trying to win. He never was. He wants at least 40% of delegates so that he has a seat at the table, either as VP or a cabinet slot. Frankly I think that’s more than he wanted when he first ran, but now he has an actual shot at leaving his mark on the Democratic Party and with plenty of money left to spend there’s no reason for him not to go for it.
Clinton supporters.. stop hyperventilating, she has the nomination locked down. Be friendly to Sanders and his supporters so they come out and vote for her during the general.
Me? Friendly to millennials? My son is a Sanders millennial and I like him waaay better than Clinton (-:
This process isn’t new. It has been going on for literally millenia. It is what fuels the existence of civilization.
Technological innovation drives down prices. The net result of this is that new products are created by the excess labor pool.
This is how all technological progress is made, fundamentally – by replacing human labor with automation, and thereby, moving humans further up the labor latter. The lower you are on this job replacement ladder, the poorer you are – this is why people in developing nations make less money than people in developed nations: their work simply is not as valuable.
The more value you can produce per unit time, the more valuable you become.
[quote]Fewer Americans are “employed” than at any point in our post-agricultural history and the number is in continual decline.[/quote]
This is completely wrong and has absolutely no relationship with reality whatsoever. More people are employed today than ever before in our history. 10% MORE of our working population is employed today than was in 1970.
You are repeating the Big Lie that some people are telling.
You need to stop doing that and actually look at the numbers.
In 1970 in the US, 57.4% of the working-age population was employed.
In 2013, 67.4% of the working age population was employed.
The BLS uses slightly different methods for calculating labor force participation, but they, too, measure these, and again, agree that there are MORE people as a percentage of the working-age population employed today than there were historically.
Look at 1970 to the present.
People need to stop repeating crap they read from pseudointellectuals and look at the actual real-life data.
People need to have jobs. They need to work to earn income. Guaranteed income is a terrible, terrible idea. It is horribly expensive and it doesn’t actually do what we want it to do.
Present-day welfare is set up to make welfare recipients miserable enough that they are incentivized to get jobs. It is a great system.
And yes, there are jobs. There is work. There is always work. There will always be work.
The people who argue otherwise are the lazy and the utopian. They have no grasp of reality whatsoever.
Society needs to create incentives for people to work. If there are incentives not to work, many people will not do so and will leech off of society. That is bad for society.
There is nothing wrong with welfare programs. There is something deeply wrong with the idea of people not working and sponging off of society.
TiD, you make some really good points. The terminology of “job” is part of the problem here. If your definition of “job” is “an activity that pays a wage or salary” then you see the problem in a certain light. If your definition is “an activity that is productive and useful” then we have a different problem. I think you and I probably agree that the goal is a system where people are rewarded for doing useful and productive things, not just to have a roof over the head and food on the table. And, as I’ve said before, history has shown that sociological changes like that generally don’t occur without a struggle.
“If there are incentives not to work, many people will not do so and will leech off of society.”
You say this like a truism, like its an established fact eve though you have nothing to support it. Of course fraud happens. Your suggestion that without making receiving welfare “miserable” everyone would be on it is like saying because murder happens, that the ONLY thing keeping everyone from murdering each other is fear of jail time, whereas most of us wouldnt.murder regardless simply because it immoral and unethical and is not a natural human behaviour. ppl work for many reasons other then income, not least of all pride, enjoyment, status, power, prestige etc. Most ppl don’t WANT handouts.
Absolutely!! – a really good point
Rob, I say that because it is true. I personally am such a person. I mean, it isn’t that I wouldn’t ever do anything useful – I would – but put in 40 hours a week of useful labor?
The whole freeter phenomenon is related to this. The reality is that a lot of young people don’t feel that work is particularly valuable save as a means of gaining income. This isn’t even unfair; entertainment and our personal lives have become increasingly awesome over time. When your finest entertainment was reading some books, working an interesting job was actually fine. But when your finest entertainment is an endless supply of everything from the Internet, suddenly almost all jobs pale in comparison. Sure, there are some highly desirable jobs which people do absolutely adore doing, but dealing with IT rollouts or going in to the lab at midnight because you need to run a QC test on the latest batch of product produced by your factory so that you know if it is worth processing further is just not something most people want to do voluntarily.
The reason why capitalism works so well is that by linking pay to people doing useful things, you directly incentivize people doing those useful things. Jobs – work – is important to keeping society functional. People being willing to pay for something indicates that this is a thing worth doing. If they’re not, then it clearly isn’t worthwhile to them.
You make the assumption that this is some other random lazy people. I’m not talking about random low-lives (though many of them would not do any useful labor at all if they had their druthers). I’m talking about myself and my highly-intelligent, college-educated friends who are engineers, IT workers, programmers, scientists, and statisticians. We would still do some useful things, but a lot of what we do now is pretty vital to the function of society; we would spend our time doing entertainment and other things, by and large, and fiddling around with “fun stuff”. There is some value in that, but compared to maintaining and expanding the architecture of civilization?
But the fun stuff is more fun. It is more intellectually stimulating. Automation has made jobs more intellectually stimulating, but they’re still not as stimulating as, say, writing a story, or playing a sophisticated video game. In fact, the most stimulating part of the jobs I’ve done has been creating automation to do as much of my job as possible for me.
You’re simply wrong if you believe that most people wouldn’t skate by if they could. Indeed, a substantial fraction of the population DOES skate by as-is.
The reality is that such ideas are economically unsustainable and societally undesirable.
Hi Dragon – good theory – it has one minor niggly wee problem
The experiment has been tried
The data from the actual experiment shows….. – Theory busted!
It took us 5000 years to go from simple plows to iron plows. It took 1000 years to get from iron plows to mechanical reapers. It look about 50 years to get from the reaper to the tractor. Next came combines, planters, and sorters in just decades. In ten years we’ll make the leap from computer guided farm machinery to robotic, industrialized farming.
You have missed what’s happening around you. Completely. You are exhibit A in the political challenge accompanying this acceleration. Congrats, you are our evolutionary flaw.
People have been crying about the end of the world (at least as we know it) for well over a thousand years at this point. Indeed, Christianity was founded as an apocalyptic cult which believed the end was nigh, which is extremely evident in early Christian writings.
And you claim I’m the flaw?
Literally every single person who has taken your position has been wrong. Every one of them. Throughout history. Every time.
You are not unique. You are not special. We do not stand in a point in history any more special than any other point. Life, as they say, goes on.
The reality is that most of the advancements in agriculture have already taken place. At this point, less than 2% of American society works in agriculture. Going from 2% to 1% is a 50% decline, but it is a 1 percentage-point absolute change. That isn’t particularly significant, frankly.
According to your logic, the 88-percentage point decline in American agriculture from founding to today means that we’re all unemployed. But that just ain’t so.
Likewise, manufacturing has declined massively in terms of being a fraction of the population. And yet, again, we’re at 4.9% unemployment now, which is quite low.
Automation is nothing new. Every time we have increased automation, population has gone up and we’ve developed ever more sophisticated technologies.
Claiming that the world is going to change in a way that it never has before despite millions of idiots claiming that it would happen in the past and were wrong about it is an extraordinary claim.
Where is your extraordinary evidence?
Jobs exist because work still needs to be done. As we have developed ever more sophisticated technology, we have created more jobs, not less. This is because as technology acts as a force multiplier, we can produce ever more sophisticated things. We can produce things which were simply impossible to make previously.
I spend almost all of my time doing stuff that didn’t exist 30 years ago. What makes you think that the next 30 years are going to be any different?
This is hardly anything new, either; this has been taking place throughout the 20th century. The 21st century is no different in that regard.
Moreover, what we see as time goes on is that new projects require more and more labor. Video games used to be produced by a team of like, 20 people. Now we’re talking hundreds if not thousands for every game. The games sell more copies, but remain about the same absolute price (so they’re actually going down in price relative to our incomes).
This is not because of lack of automation. It is because of automation. Automation allows us to produce things which simply could not be produced before, and by making things that much better, they become that much more appealing. Over time, everything we do becomes more sophisticated, and so we get caught up in an ever-cascading level of complexity. Sure, at any given level, we tend to have fewer people – but because we’re building iteratively, going up to ever-higher levels of complex stuff, we end up employing more and more people, not fewer and fewer.
iPhones aren’t made by people. They’re made by cultures. No one person can make an iPhone from raw materials. It simply isn’t doable.
As we progress, demand for labor goes up, not down, because ever more sophisticated things are within our grasp. Nowadays, you can buy a drone for under a thousand dollars and fly around your own miniature airplane with a camera on it that can hover and take pictures and explore through the air. That simply was not a thing before. When you make it so that these things can be done by anyone, a lot of anyone’s start wanting it.
This is why even as our global population has exploded, we’ve still found work for everyone. In fact, we have more job openings right now than ever before.
If our society’s need for work is in decline, why are there so many new jobs?
TitD – Lifer has described the future work force as doing exactly what you’ve described – working far less than a 40 hour work week in order to pursue other interests. Key, of course, is to obtain the skill that will allow one the financial independence to enjoy such a lifestyle.
Obviously, you are highly skilled, well educated. What percentage of the workforce do you believe can function in this manner? And, if it is just the highly educated/skilled, what do you envision for the “others” whose innate intelligence, educational opportunities and financial limitations are different?
TD – I was under the impression that labor participation is declining. I had heard it multiple times from people I trust.
Anyway. your link broke. So I went BLS to look at the data. Guess what, your numbers are wrong.
In 2013 the labor rate had declined to 63.3 and has declined since. There was higher participation rates in the 70s because of women entering the workforce but there is an article saying there are multiple causes of falling rates, including baby boomer demographics.
Here’s link to an graph and a summary explanation.
I think I asked once before, If a strong safety net produces lower workforce participation, why does it not reflect that in countries with a strong, err, welfare system. I have posted the link comparing participation by country before. If you are interested you can find it.
Labor force participation still has to correlate with population growth to be statistically accurate. In 1970, America’s population stood at 208M; in 2010, America’s population had grown to 308+M.
Unarmed, you’ll have trouble getting any support for data from socialized countries in this forum. I haven’t studied it except superficially, but I do not believe America is the “only” exceptional country in the world. That position necessarily puts me on the side of America leading in some areas, and other countries in other areas. Isn’t this a healthier, safer, better situation for our troubled globe? Frankly, I’m ready for more autonomy of local responsibility for the middle east, the far east, and here at home. We don’t have to be the “best”, just do the best we can wherever that takes us.
It does reflect in them. Greece and Belgium have terrible workforce participation.
However, a more obvious example from our own civilization is retirement. What fraction of people retire when they can?
Most of them, right?
That’s people within our own civilization.
Why would you expect that young people, when granted the same option, would not make the same choice?
They’d be stupid not to, wouldn’t they?
Dang that Krugman. Stole my thoughts again.
He says – “It’s surely worth noting that other advanced countries, with much more generous welfare states, aren’t showing anything like the kind of social collapse we’re seeing in the U.S. heartland. ”
Now we are talking about whites. We’ll see a different tack from Talk Radio Conservatives now.
Big thanks to the commenter that coined “Talk Radio Conservative”.
We don’t see social collapse. That’s just not happening. It is a Big Lie.
Last I checked, Europe is having major problems dealing with the migrant crisis.
It is easy to just lie about stuff.
People just do it constantly.
It is the culture of fear.
Is society collapsing?
No. People are richer than ever before, and more peaceful than ever before.
Remember, all of these people are liars who are trying to get your butt in the seat.
You’re a sucker to them.
After all, if everything is okay, are you going to tune into the news?
They need to manufacture danger to keep your butt in the seat as much as possible.
Titanium – are you saying that deaths by suicide and drug overdose is not rising for whites in certain age groups and locations?
As in this study?
You moved to “BIG is the solution -> end” way to quickly. It would have been better to have a part 2 post about it.
I know. It was hard to separate them (especially after the last post, it would have seemed like harping) and both concepts are lengthy and complex.
Your readers are a “needy” bunch…..”more, we want more”! You’ve spoiled us with so many good posts that do exactly what you intend – inform us and make us think…hence, “more”.
The labor growth disparity quoted by Titanium and your assertion begs the question. Is our labor force growing, or is the “growth” statistically insignificant proportional to population growth? Do you care to clarify this? (See, I want “more”!)
Lifer is working for free, providing us with information and education. We are leeches. 🙂
I wonder what he gets out of it.
Fame. And untold wealth.
To me, THIS is how democracy is supposed to work. That’s two DA’s primaried out for going easy on police brutality.
If you want real change on this issue, it needs to be sved form the bottom up, like this one, not the top down.
The DA’s have far more ability to stop police violence them even the President does.
This is exactly what BLM should do more of. Vote out the DAs and mayors and city council members who are not serving all the community.
That’s great news, Rob. The people have spoken. Tamir Rice’s parents will finally get some justice.
Mime, in theory, the new DA could decide to go ahead with charges no?
I don’t think double jeopardy protections would apply, and there is no SoL on murder.
In any case, if ppl start making it clear that DA’s that go easy on cops will be out if a job, DA’s across the country will get the msg REAL quick.
I assume that a capital crime case can be brought back up but the legal eagles here will have to weigh in on this particular case and jurisdiction. I hope so. Don’t look for much change in jurisdictions where one party has held power for so long the authorities think they are invincible. Like in Chicago, or Houston, or Maricopa County, or arrogant officials like OH AG, Husted and so many others. These arrogant individuals don’t even see a problem.
Ted being a little overly gracious with Marco.
So what’s Teds next move? As weird as it sounds, I think he goes hard for Marcos endorsement and tries to bring him an Kasich on to and bring their establishment buddies.
In crude but honest political terms, it’s called “sucking up”. Kasich had some nice words for him as well…..In listening late to the “apres” Super Tuesday commentary, Ben Ginsberg explained why. Under GOP convention rules, unless a state specifically dictates how a candidate’s delegates are apportioned should they drop out, the delegates default to GOP rules which declare they are uncommitted. Rubio’s numbers would be a nice little addition to Cruz’ total, putting him more within Trump’s numbers. One thing is for sure, Rubio won’t want his delegates to go to Donald Trump.
Hillary had a big night as did Drumpf. A couple of close races between H & S in MO, but a big win for her in OH. Cruz’ night was very poor. There was a lot of talk about the possibility of Kasich as the stealth GOP nominee if Drumpf doesn’t meet the minimum number to claim the nomination outright. So far, Drumpf is the only candidate who has met Rule 40 which automatically places a candidate’s name in nomination. after a certain number of states (8) have been won. Robert Costa, a WaPo long time political reporter, mused about the Kasich possibility as a “dark horse” GOP convention nominee, and confirmed that there is a buzz on this possibility. He noted that Kasich had hired the two men who were the gurus of the most recent GOP brokered convention (1976?) and expert on the process. Obviously, K is hopeful money and support will start coming his way as neither T nor C are acceptable choices to the GOPe. A little more detail from Robert Costa, WaPo.
Looks like Ontario is giving Chris’s idea a run for its money. (See what I did there?)
“Statistics show that one in five children in Ontario face poverty,”
The UBI proposals I have seen “pay” adults – I would like to see a UBI proposal that effectively pays all citizens – even the kids
That would work better even with a smaller payout because it would deliver the money to the families that need it most
Maybe give the UBI the kids get to the parents until the kid reaches, say, 14. By that age a child knows if they want to support the family or not. Also, it likely helps teenagers get put of abusive homes a little easier if they don’t have to rely on their family for finances
Kids that live in abusive homes need to get out as soon as possible, well before age 14. I am not confident that money intended for “children” would be always be spent in their behalf. There is too much documentation of abuse in assistance for children that isn’t used for them. The rate of children living in poverty in the United States of America is 22% of all children – more than 16 million children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level – $23,550 a year for a family of four. Research shows that, on average, families need an income of about twice that level to cover basic expenses.
Good Christ, RobA. A child of 14 knows whether or not they want to support a family? You are quite clearly showing your age. And inexperience.
Fifty he said help support “the” family (as in one he is already part of) not “a” family (marrying and having kids). I assume he’s talking about abusive households, where kids may not want to support “the” family. You are quite clearly showing your curmudgeonly nature (:
Poverty! People nowadays don’t know what poverty is! Why, when I was young, we were so poor – (crowd yells, how poor were you?) We were so poor, I was sent next door to borrow a cup of electricity.
Seriously, it’s interesting to even say western countries have poor at all. You know compared to India, some African countries, and so on. I am not sure we should be worked up about poverty, instead we should try to provide each child all of the possibilities we can.
That is why I think the “It takes a village” meme is worthwhile. I know that there are some families that cannot imagine how to guide the bright but poor child, or at least provide him/her with a positive support structure. This support could come from child care centers or community centers where people of various backgrounds meet and attitudes and ideas are shared.
Big Brother, Big Sister are outstanding programs offered to young Black kids in their community centers or a facility within their neighborhood. Some really good work is done and they follow the kids for years, effectively “parenting” but mostly providing a safe, positive environment for kids who lack them.
Griffin – No matter how you parse it, RobA is basically saying the 14 year old gets to choose to give the money to his family, or keep it. This constitutes so remarkable a noxious cloud of horse exhaust, I worry about the planet warming faster as a result of this statement alone.
And I’m no carmudgeon. Arrggghhh!!!
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And 4 in 10 face acne. I live there. What a crock O.S. “Poverty” in Ontario does not exist. (At least when compared to about anywhere else in the world I’ve been. (And you challenge me on that at your peril! :-))
The new liberal government there is a far greater threat to the welfare of its citizens.
Careers have been changing and disappearing for some time, which is how you get the results in this link. Our unemployment insurance in this country is a cruel joke and we don’t have to keep going down the road of blaming people for their failure to choose the right job when 25 years old.
Click to access PNAS-2015-Case-1518393112.pdf
Well this is really, really depressing. Kinda makes you worry about the general a bit, and frankly maybe Dems should pay a little more attention to polls that show Bernie consistently doing better then Hillary in the general, especially against Trump.
There is a serious anti establishment dynamic in this year’s electorate that will give Trump a big boost vs HRC, whereas Sanders significantly neutralises that vs Trump, leaving him with only the racist white supremacists as his rock solid, not going anywhere base.
Even though I maintain that HRC is the “better” Democratic candidate, I am reluctantly coming to grips with the fact that Sanders may be the best hope for a Democratic win. I worry that turn out is going to be horrible with H as the nominee. As stated in an earlier post, “effectiveness” is critical, but if the Republicans sweep, that is a worse outcome than going with Sanders if he has a better chance of winning. I think H is in trouble. There is time for this to sort itself out, but it’s not looking good for her.
The only way the Democrats can lose the White House is to nominate Bernie. The only way anyone on the GOP clown car can win the White House is if they run against Bernie. Don’t care for HRC? Then take your pick from the other side. May allah help us all if that happens.
Nominating Sanders is the only way Democrats could blow this, not the other way around. We’ve seen time and again this cycle just how pathetic his support among minority voters is. He doesn’t get them and they – by which I mean specifically African-Americans – won’t turn out for him in the same way they would for Hillary Clinton, whose ties with those communities go back decades. Suffer sufficiently depressed turnout among those voters and the Democrats’ presidential firewall comes apart like a tower of jenga blocks.
Republicans are coming apart at the seams. Don’t snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
What if the establishment gets to make a brokered choice….what about Kasich?
@1mime: Think about what happened in Illinois when a Trump event was canceled and some protestors got in his supporters’ faces. Chaos ensued. Now take that reaction and multiple it a hundred fold to get an idea of what would happen in Cleveland if the Republican establishment essentially wrestled the nomination away from Trump to give it to someone like Kasich. For Republicans, it’d be the equivalent of taking a lighted match and throwing it into a can of kerosene.
Furthermore, Kasich has neither the campaign operation nor the leverage to do any of that. Cruz is in by far a better position to be the one to benefit in those respects.
Trump will try to connect Clinton to every economic and political failure going back to Bill C’s inauguration. And Hillary, unfortunately, doesn’t have an ounce of Teflon in her body. Her best strategy might be to get Trump to overreach. I worry.
Everyone will point out that polling for the general election at this point in the process is as predictive as allowing the direction of the wind determine which candidate will win. Even pollsters say not to trust those polls.
The majority of people in the country know nothing of Bernie, so his negatives are nothing right now. He will not be viewed as pure and wonderful after the onslaught of the general election.
“The majority of people in the country know nothing of Bernie, so his negatives are nothing right now.”
Maybe. I might be biased since I’m a Bernie supporter, but to me his biggest “negative” is simply the dreaded S word, which, even if you know almost nothing if Sanders, you know at least that.
“Sanders?” They say “isn’t he that communist?”
I concur that lots of ppl don’t know much about Bernie. But I think that’s currently HURTING him rather then helping. I think he has far more to gain then lose when America gets to know him, as evidence by the vast majority of his policies having broad bipartisan appeal.
With all respect, Rob, you’re cherry picking instances, intentionally or unintentionally, to suit your worries. It’s been said many times, but Sanders is only doing so well in polls right now because the Republican Attack Machine hasn’t laid into him yet. He won’t get the nomination, but his negatives and unfavorables would increase significantly once the GOP got through with him. I’d bet my right arm on it.
As for turnout, there is a simple solution for that, and their names are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. They are both loathed by the Democratic base, and few things turn out voters better than anger and disgust. Check out a recent NYT article about how more and more Latinos are applying for citizenship SPECIFICALLY so they can vote against Trump. Seriously. They actually say that that’s the reason why. And it ain’t just a few hundred we’re talking about here wither. We’re talking potentially in the hundreds of thousands.
Barring something completely unexpected, we know what’s going to happen. Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee and Trump and/or Cruz (maybe both?) will be the Republican nominee. Clinton’s going to win in a landslide, Democrats will retake the Senate and, just maybe, win a very narrow majority in the House. We just have to not screw up this once in a lifetime election. Fingers crossed.
If Kasich becomes the “pick”, the race looks a whole lot different, Ryan. A Kasich/Clinton contest would be a whole new dynamic in voter turnout as well as substance. The only way a Drumpf can avoid this is to win the 1237 delegates to claim….according to a lot of late night discussion from those who work in the bowels (uh hum) of politics, the GOPe will bend/change/twist any rules necessary to keep Drumpf out. This gives Kasich an opening, even if it is a long shot. Except for his hard right views on womens’ rights, he is an attractive moderate Republican whose credentials demonstrate the ability to forge consensus and he knows how to govern.
@1mime: With all respect, mime, I’ve already explained why that just ain’t gonna happen. Under what circumstances does Kasich – a man who will assuredly go into Cleveland having won one state and probably nothing else and with comparatively small delegates compared to Trump or Cruz – wrest the nomination away from Trump?
For the establishment to go in and do that would be nothing short of a proverbial slap in the face to the base and the millions of voters who went out and gave their support for Trump. They’d go absolutely batshit insane. The only way you avoid that is for The Donald to give his blessing, however reluctant it might be, in a deal at the convention. Cruz is probably the only one who would be on the receiving end of said deal.
You nominate someone like Kasich, Rubio or Paul Ryan (btw, did you hear that Boehner endorsed his favorite political son for president? Seriously.) and you’ve opened a can of worms that you aren’t going to be able to seal back up. It is much, MUCH better to let Trump or Cruz be the nominee, lose in a landslide and then just let the fallout happen. It’s better for the Republican Party and better for the country.
The concensus last night from both GOP and Dem operatives, is that unless Drumpf garners the 1237 delegates prior to the convention, the GOPe will look very hard at a rules change that will allow them to nominate someone else. They noted the cataclysm that would result and said that would factor in, but the animus to Drumpf and Cruz is extremely strong from the Establishment, and all felt that all should be prepared for this possibility. Personally, I think Drumpf will be the nominee and Kasich his VP. The PAC that supported Dr. Carson is pushing hard for him to be Drumpf’s vp pick….and, he did endorse Drumpf, so there is that. For anyone to try to predict Drumpf’s moves is risky. As Lifer stated, the GOPe has finally gotten their “just” dessert. And, expect Drumpf to move more to the center once he gets closer to his delegate goal. HE knows he will have to pick up traditional Repub support. The man may be crass, but he’s not stupid.
Utah’s aiming to overtake Texas in terms of insane lawmakers pandering to the religious far-right. Pornography has been declared a public health crises
” “This ought to be seen like a public health crisis, like a war, like an infectious fatal epidemic, like a moral plague on the body politic that is maiming the lives of our citizens.””
Some of the upvoted comments at the bottom are just depressing, with people wanting to ban porn to protect people’s “spiritual health”. These fucking dingbats have to learn how to stay out of other people’s bedrooms, if they pass this law not only would they be depriving people of a freedom but far more worringly they would drive porn into a totally unregulated black market that would endanger the workers and massively drive up the proft for actual gangsters and human traffickers who have an incentive to coerce people into it and treat their “employees” like they’re subhuman cattle. Didn’t the fundies learn ANYTHING from prohibition?
Sorry I’m so upset but I can deal with the fundies occasionally saying dumb shit or shilling dumb books to their crazy audience but these people are actually dangerous to society as a whole when they dictate laws based on Stone Age “logic”.
When I said “if they pass this law” I should have been more clear. I don’t think this resolution actually bans porn but it is setting them up for a law that actually will do just that. If it’s limited to Utah perhaps the damage is containable but we have to make sure these wingnuts don’t keep doing this in more-and-more states or human traffickers will be raking in big money and becoming far more powerful, like the violent street thugs who quickly managed to become millionaire crime lords after prohibition passed.
Speaking for the reprehensible porn folks, where’s “free speech” when you need it ?
It’s the goddam Mormons, Griffin. Stupid beliefs have stupid consequences.
(Oh, Fifty! All religions are the same! Remember the Crusades? Islam doesn’t cause terrorism. Joseph Smith may have been a huckster and a fraud, but like Moses, he lead his people out of, well, er, New York!). Honestly, I get so sick of hearing this asinine BS, I want to scream. (In a deep manly voice, of course.)
Fifty – As one of those gosh darn Mormons I am pretty offended by your comments. Mormonism sounds like “asinine BS” because it is different from the more common Christian religions.
Griffin – The issue as I see it is that Utah is the best closest the country has to a modern theocracy. The LDS church holds a way to large influence over state and local governments. It is not a good thing..
I’m really sorry about that, Turtles but I call religions out in the same way I would do any other belief system. Mormonism is a completely wacky religion based on the most asinine BS imaginable. You, on the other hand, are a friend, and a good guy, IMHO.
Ehhh…cannot argue with you to a point. Wayyyy to many Mormons are wacky but I like the message. All religions have funky stories.
And you are an example of the very best of them, Turtles.
“We want small government!! The smaller the better! Government needs to stop infringing on the People’s liberty and freedom with things like making sure that as many ppl have health insurance as possible and ensuring that federal public lands remain available to everyone, and stick to things not related to liberty, such as deciding which adults are allowed to marry, forcing women to have babies they don’t want, and making sure that nobody is doing anything Jesus doesn’t like in the privacy of their own bedrooms!!”
An issue with ever higher minimum wages relates to part time workers; workers just entering the workforce. Most of us had jobs in high school. It’s a fair bet we wouldn’t have, were it a requirement to pay us a wage sufficient to support a family. What did we take away from those jobs? (A hell of a lot more than a wage, I can guarantee.)
We no longer have ushers in theaters. Or gas station attendants. Or take your pick of ‘starter jobs’ that the economy could afford to to part-time, or summer help. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I understand the potential for ‘abuse’, but where has that gotten us, and what have we lost?
That’s an interesting thought, Fifty. I am assuming that you are driving the point that the named positions are not “missed”. Here’s a little job that I think had great bang for the buck….delivering newspapers. This offered kids a terrific first business experience. All three of our kids (including our daughter) had a route…they simply passed it up as they went on to other part time jobs – babysitting, lawn mowing, retail, but boy did it offer lots of learning opportunities. I wish our grandchildren today had this opportunity. It was a great experience for our children and many more.
Excellent response, mime. There are those who would make the jobs you listed illegal were they not subject to certain ‘standards’ associated with wages, withholding, insurance, and a host of other crap.
Actually , those jobs are “missed”. Not so much by our society as a whole, but by those who held them.
I guess if we are going to bring back paper routes, we’ll have to bring back newspapers.
Yeah, newspapers are going the way of so many other forms of communications. Landlines are rapidly disappearing. We still take the Houston Chronicle but I read several others (selectively) online. I have many memories of helping our kids with their routes…the mornings they overslept and “we” delivered the papers (and rolled and bagged them!). I had the route down. Being a mom means being lots of things, but great memories!
Heh! Another good comment, unarmed. Of course there other jobs not so much on the demise as paper “people”. (That was for you, HT. ;-))
50…you are going to be the Chairperson on our Committee to Eliminate Strawperson Arguments, and we are not going to grandparent people out of our regulations. The postal carrier will deliver the formal announcement as soon as the utility line worker complete repairs to get the lights on. It is so hot in here that our snowperson is melting.
*Big Smile* there, HT!
If there was a Universal Basic Income – would that remove the need for a minimum wage?
If we employ people on a very low wage now the taxpayers end up subsidising the employers – with a UBI there would be no increase
Also the people on the minimum wage would have more bargaining power
Overall with a UBI I think the need for a minimum wage would go away and maybe people would be able to do a lot of jobs that would make our society better but that are currently not “cost effective”
I don’t necessarily disagree with much you say. The issue I was raising was regarding workers just beginning to enter the workforce. Not really fully fledged adults, with all the other stuff that entails, but kids – living at home – in the process of learning exactly what being an adult is about. You were there, as I was. What about that? We’re destroying a critical part of our society’s training process. No one is suggesting we give a minimum income to high school students, are we?
That is one part of the UBI that IMHO seems to be wrong – all of the proposals talk about giving the UBI to adults
How about instead we give the UBI to everybody – up until 18 they can’t control it themselves but the money would go to whoever was looking after them
That way we ensure that there are no kids in poverty – if you have kids living at home they can kick in to the household budget
Possibly a sliding scale, half the UBI for a baby?
It makes having a kid budget neutral – or even positive
We would still need the social workers to ensure that kids are being looked after but anybody who had their kids taken away would also lose their contribution to the household budget
I would expect that kids – even young ones – who are unhappy would find it is easier to get somebody else to look after them if they came with a UBI
Sadly, America is replete with adults “gaming” the system (welfare), claiming subsidies for kids and using the kids money for themselves. I don’t know what percentage of adults do this, certainly hope it’s small, but it does happen.
To your last paragraph: Have you ever raised a child to adulthood? What you are proposing is the end to our civilization as we know it. Children should be raised by their parents – not social workers. It doesn’t take a village. And we don’t need to make reproduction profitable.
And none of this addresses the central point I raised. What about jobs for kids? What about child labor? What about the tension between the function of family vs. the society at large vis a vis raising children? And “unhappy children”? Hence my first question to you.
My son is now 21 and living away from home,
The “jobs for kids” question, – why special jobs?
There are lots of jobs that could be done by “kids” or old people or anybody that are currently not being done at all
With a UBI and no minimum wage they would be available and maybe they would get somebody to do them
In some cases that would be a kid
I agree a family is normally a good way of bringing up a kid – but a bad “family” is worse than a good “carer”
I believe that in Sweden more kids are being brought up by single parents than by two parents – and that with the societies support they are doing all right
Some families do a good job – some do a bloody awful job!
By the society supporting the kid we would not effect the ones doing a good job but we could give a clear alternative to the ones doing a BAD job
A new kid is a member of our society – a citizen!
He/She is NOT the property of his/her family – as a Citizen why should he/she not share in a UBI? – which is basically a share of the heritage of that society
If it is not OK for a citizen to be owned because he/she is black – they should not be “owned” because they are young (or old)
This will be a major affront to those (mostly fathers) who seem to believe that they OWN their children – So be it!
People who believe that should be encouraged to go somewhere else – the moon maybe
The lawn needs to be mowed, or the groceries put away, clothes don’t wash themselves and good food needs to be prepared. The home needs repairs and/or cleaning, cars need washing and down the street you may have neighbors who need help with all of these things. The motivation to succeed or excel has nothing to do with the external rewards which may accidentally result. Or if it does, so what.
And back in the day I remember the “paperless office” was going to come from computers-in my observations the computer made much more paper, not less.
OK. Sweden has a population slightly lower than North Carolina, and a GDP that falls somewhere between Florida and Illinois. I won’t even begin to speak of it’s cultural diversity. (About as close to unity as you can get.) Argument dismissed out of hand.
Children are about as “owned” as pets. We have laws protecting both; not only from willful harm, but from neglect. For the entire arc of history, children have been raised primarily by families. Why? Because they are not developed sufficiently to make their own decisions. It’s not ownership, it’s evolution. If you think it’s a great idea for the society to give teenagers, (especially those who might be “unhappy”), the right, and financial means to go out and find someone else to raise them, well my friend, we disagree on such a fundamental level regarding the wisdom of such a wild, Utopian experiment, I don’t know where to begin. So I won’t.
The jobs in question are not ‘special’. They are starter jobs. It is written no where that any and every job, no matter how little skill, or preparation required, should provide a wage sufficient to support a person on its own, let alone a family. If you want to simply make these jobs illegal by some means, well OK. But realize they simply will not get done. Or will get done by companies with overheads, minimum wages, and probably unions, that will pretty much guarantee few one will use them.
Child labor laws are the only laws that are necessary, even though one hopes adults won’t take advantage of kids….which responsible adults won’t. The others don’t care and we likely won’t know about them unless they get caught. I don’t know if there is a “best” age threshold that minimum wages should begin, but I guess if kids are interviewing for jobs that adults also apply for, maybe there is a case there for pay equipty for same job. Again, employers generally will hire a mature individual over a kid so that really should be the exception rather than the rule.
The current western two parents and children model is NOT a universal human model, and the Swedish example shows that good or even superior results can come from other ways of child rearing
The two parent model is failing – not because it is failing as a way of bringing up children but simply because the couples are breaking up – and that trend is continuing with no sign of it changing
You can either ignore that fact or try to set up a system that works in the real world rather than just in some idealised fantasy world
Which is what Sweden has done – I’m not talking about social of cultural just simply the idea that the society/government looks after the mothers (or fathers) who are looking after the kids
Children are about as “owned” as pets
This is the horrible terrible truth
Children are treated by a lot of people as their property to be moulded as they see fit,
the “Christian” model where the father treats his children as his sheep
Children are the most vulnerable of our citizens and too many of them are massively badly treated
Giving them (children) more control over how they are treated can only help
crogged – Are you talking about job compensation when you say, “The motivation to succeed or excel has nothing to do with the external rewards which may accidentally result.”? If so, kindly prove it.
And yes – paper use has increased with the rise of the machines. A curious and unintended consequence, I’d say. Sorta like completely revamping our social structure regarding work and compensation. New territory, but of course, completely predictable, right?
I dismissed the Swedish model for the reasons stated.
I can tell you that our Abyssinian has the best environment possible. And our daughter, the best guidance we could provide. We don’t let our cat outside. And we didn’t let our daughter roam, either. It’s not at all about ‘ownership’ – it’s about responsibly. It’s simply a crazy concept to suggest that a moody teenager knows more about what is good for him/her than concerned parents. And it’s equally absurd to suppose that the collective is as knowledgeable regarding the rearing of a particular child than the parents. What you are basically saying belies this concept. I think it’s simply weird.
Do children fall through the cracks? Sadly, of course they do. Do children fall through the cracks of public institutions? I submit they do on a far more regular basis.
“And it’s equally absurd to suppose that the collective is as knowledgeable regarding the rearing of a particular child than the parents”
Not at all – most do a good job – BUT for a decent percentage of parents the “collective is easily more knowledgeable because the parents are clueless
As far as public institutions are concerned – yes they have cracks but IMHO that is much more because they are chronically underfunded
Even if we take it as a given that a child brought up by two parents would have the best upbringing then we do need to design a system for the children who do not have two parents – a very large minority – possible a majority of kids
If we wanted to measure the success of the various different systems we could look at the resultant product – the grown up children
I wonder what the “happiness factor” of the kids brought up in Sweden is compared to those in the USA?
Who said anything about *two* parents? If I did, my apologies. If your position is that it takes two parents to properly raise a child, well, Mrs. Ohm would have a serious problem with that!
As to the allegedly quantifiable “happiness factor”, well, I don’t but that sort of pseudoscientific, sociological bullshit. And you shouldn’t either.
I was a Quality Manager
The war cry was – If you don’t measure something then you can’t improve it!
Seriously we do need to “measure” how things are going so that we can test what works
I would rather have a poor measure than none at all,
But I would much much rather have a good measure
And YES I have seen “bad measures” drive stupid behaviour!
As far as Orwell is concerned – I have read a fair amount of his work – but some of it a long time ago
Sigh – more homework when I get some spare time and I’m not sitting at this time eater
Sorry, Duncan. I meant to say, “buy”, not “but”. (Somebody put the damn ‘t’ on this keyboard next to the ‘y’! It’s not my fault!!!
I’d like to weigh in on the “one” child debate. Both of you (Duncan and Fifty) make valid points. It is legitimate to point out that many children grow up (as opposed to are raised) in single parent households. It is also fair to point out that America’s system for caring for children whose safety and security is not met within their parent’s home, is not uniformly strong. Sadly, many of America’s poor children raise themselves and their younger siblings. Obviously, growing up in a stable home with one or two parents, is the ideal. For the single parent, the challenges are many, especially since most single households with children are headed by women who traditionally earn less than their male counterparts. This results in many additional problems but love, discipline, and continuity of presence can help balance income differences as long as poverty doesn’t crush them.
Here is where the institution of public schools can help. Early childhood, after school, year round and summer programs can not only provide an educational purpose, but it can serve as a safe place for many young children. In this, Duncan is correct. He is also sadly correct that there are neglectful and bad parents who should not be allowed to raise their children. What happens to these kids? Kids don’t ask to be born and I deeply believe that society has a responsibility to help those who lack safe, secure home environments. The question is, how?
Part of the answer may be found in Lifers GBI so that parents (and their children) will have a “floor under them”. It may also require generations of education and opportunity before parents (of whatever configuration) learn how to responsibly plan for and care for children they bring into this world.
BTW, Duncan – I can safely assume you’ve read Orwell, right? (An admittedly rhetorical question…)
Mime – You are essentially correct on every point. Any “safety net” has holes, pretty much by definition. (Sweden included, heh-heh.). My point was, and is, that abandoning parenting to the collective is a very, very bad idea. It is also by definition “Utopian” to believe that any method is without holes.
Fifty, what is your definition of a “collective”?
I don’t think I ever proposed “abandoning” – just a tighter tougher safety net
My mental processes always look to fix holes – I was accused at work of being defeatist because I would always look at what could go wrong
Where it works – its OK
Where it doesn’t – we need to fix
Question – if a type of “parenting” produces weak neurotic unhappy children who don’t fit into todays society is it a success??
Governmental systems, with the law supporting them.
Schools are “governmental” entities. And, in this particular case, they are the perfect institution to assist children in need.
Helicopter parents who live through their offspring, seek to shield them from any and every peril, and spend every waking moment worrying about what they’ve done to damage, or otherwise compromise their precious child. Everything can be over done, Duncan. It’s simply the that State is much more officious.
Frankly, Fifty, I worry more about kids raised in ultra religious households more than any other.
Mime – Well, I don’t think schools should be charged with “raising children”. As to your other comment, I suspect you’d be surprised if I disagreed. I don’t. It’s a fair point, and I quite frankly forgot about it.
I’m not talking about public schools “raising” these children, but they can have them in their care and custody from early morning until late afternoon, in a safe, educational, structured environment. We can’t save all children from neglectful or abusive or nutty parents, but we can offer shelter and food and safety. That would go a long way to providing security in their lives and a real chance to break out of a bad situation.
Well mime, I think we’re already doing that, aren’t we?
No, not broadly enough. Early childhood programs are optional in most states as are after school programs. Year round school is way underutilized. Heck, in TX, kindergarten is still half day. When little kids aren’t in school, if they come from poor and working families, someone has to care for them. When the school doesn’t offer the above mentioned programs, it falls on an older sibling, a relative, a neighbor…as the parents are likely working. Even most welfare programs designed to assist single moms don’t provide childcare assistance. I understand there is a limit to public assistance but these same welfare recipients can’t do the job if they’ve got kids to care for. Now, I’d be first in line to support inexpensive/free birth control to any and all women – especially those who are single parents or have to work at minimum wage jobs. No more babies, please!!!
Duncan – Bad measurements lead to bad conclusions. Almost by definition, they are worse than no measurements at all. As such they lead to conclusions with the aura of ‘mathematical precision’ that is entirely unfounded based on the data, and given credence far out of proportion to their real-world significance or validity.
Our society has revamped about work and compensation many times, in particular when the industrial revolution created these things we call ‘jobs’ in which you leave the place where you sleep and eat, then the information revolution created ‘careers’. At the same time wealth changed from castles, gold and diamonds into capital-a completely abstract ‘thing’. We really don’t have to have a culture where the desperation of survival is considered a ‘motivation’. It’s not nirvana, nor the threat of a one world government, or a despotic dictatorship to have a simple redistribution of ‘capital’. Mr. Trump wasn’t demotivated by his upbringing, he worked very hard to become a giant @sshole.
A directed program to redistribute capital in the United States is indeed unprecedented, crogged. (And by the way, I assume you’re speaking about other people’s capital, right?)
Fifty, Fifty. Yes, other people’s capital. This is what civilized countries do to keep the lights on not only in the halls of Congress, but in people’s homes. I don’t know what the “ideal” is but the way it’s working right now is benefiting far too few. How would you solve the problem of wealth divide? (And, don’t go down the road of “work harder” or I’ll never forgive you!)
Mime – The so-called wealth divide (capital divide), and the income divide are two completely different things that many people conflate.
First, I think far too much emphasis is placed on both, but:
The latter is largely a result of a good old boy network. Pro sports salaries are driven by chronism with local governments with wealthy team owners. Outrageous executive salaries are driven by rubber stamp corporate boards who scratch each other’s backs until the skin comes off the shareholder’s backs. The entertainment industry is a network of moguls fed by a gullible public’s eagerness to overpay for its products.
The former regards private accumulations of capital. Other people’s capital. Government reaching it there to essentially steal it and redistribute it, is an abhorrent concept that anyone but a communist thug should be repelled by.
So which one are you talking about, and how are you proposing to address it?
How can you talk of income divide without talking about wealth divide given what is happening in America today? Capital accumulation isn’t “evil”, but when said capital is consolidated in so few hands and the vast majority of a population are struggling to live, that compels a civilized nation to redistribute income responsibly. Now, before you go bonkers on me, I am not a Communist, nor a socialist, but I do believe our current wealth distribution is benefiting too few. Your POV appears that whatever you earn, you keep. My POV is that I keep enough of what I earn to live with security while still contributing to the general welfare. Obviously, we differ on this.
As to how I would address it? I think American government has the responsibility to develop a better plan than currently exists. There has to be incentive to risk and reward for effort. We had our own business. I understand that. But, we always shared with our employees. They had health insurance decades before any government mandate – because we valued our people. Oh, you say, government didn’t mandate that you do so….that is correct, but even if they had, obviously we would have done so.
The outcry in our country right now is a direct result from people in need, who feel the system has failed them. Personally, I have always supported a strong infrastructure program to put people to work, because this is not only a tool to help people but it is focused on a general good of our country. It hasn’t happened because of political dysfunction….principally, the Republican mantra of total obstruction to O’s proposals.
In summary, I am not an economist, we did share/re-distribute when we were in business, still do through our taxes, and would love to see a deep, meaningful effort by our leadership to address both our income divide and our wealth divide – responsibly. Lifer has suggested a BI. Republicans have suggested entitlement reform. Democrats have suggested putting people to work in necessary projects. Reasonable, smart people should be able to figure this out. There will always be poor and wealthy classes, but the existing divide is too large and hurts not only our nations people but our nation. We’re better than that.
I look forward to your reply. Be nice or I won’t respond (-:
You seem to have the presumption we don’t reallocate or redistribute capital now (I guess they way it happens can be considered ‘natural’). We tax to have common defense and some protection against life events for everyone. We allow dead people to completely determine the allocation of capital after death. We also have intellectual property laws designed for the industrial revolution allocating capital in this virtual age. If you don’t invest in the machine (people) who create capital, you will have less capital.
Mime – In providing insurance for your employees, you increased your operating expenses, decreased your income, and reduced your taxes. You could say you taxed or redistributed a portion of your income – not your wealth. There many ways we (re)distribute income. That’s essentially what income taxes do. We do not, nor do we have the constitutional means, to redistribute wealth. And that’s a good thing, because it’s a sick and twisted concept. Yes, I expect to keep what I earn *after* I’ve paid taxes on that income. I sense a failure to communicate, here. So, and with the intent of being very *nice* about it, you did not address the central message of the post.
crogged – It’s a very odd view that trans-generational family businesses should be done away with by taxing them out of existence. Or family farms. Or tuition funds for grandchildren.
On IP, I can only observe, old buddy, that you know far less on the subject than I. Yes, the system needs improvement. But our IP laws 100% identical to, and in full compliance with the rest of the developed world. (See WIPO) Knowledge is a commodity. It has intrinsic value. It is expensive to produce. It is essential to progress. It deserves protection. How would you propose to accomplish this? Pull out of WIPO? What then?
(For the record, I have a bunch of patents – none of which ever made me much money. The value of my old business was in its IP that was not patented, but was a trade secret. And yes – I too detest patent trolls. If your plan can destroy those bastards, I’d like to hear it.)
If a partnership shares a portion of its income, their wealth is affected. We could have decided to simply forgo health insurance for our people. The benefits we provided didn’t lower their wages and it was not done to have a tax benefit. It was done because it was the right thing to do.
I did answer your question as honestly as I could. I lack the knowledge to solve problems as massive as our income divide present. Furthermore, it is not my responsibility to do so, nor yours, if I may be so candid. We elect people and they hire professionals to design (or not as is the case) a structure that will provide fairly for our nation’s population. When all the discussion centers around tax cuts and benefit reductions, that looks rather self-serving to me. The solution will never be perfect. Those with means will always be expected to contribute to the general welfare. All I ask as a single citizen is that the system not be rigged. (That is a whole discussion in and of itself. That our country is sensitive to and offers assistance in ways that keep people out of deep poverty. Those who unfortunately fall through the cracks will be lost, but all our citizens should have access to a quality educational opportunity, equity in job opportunity and health care. Beyond that, unemployment insurance and welfare need to be fair and adequate. I believe in a safety net for the disabled, elderly and our veterans. HOW that is structured in a responsible, fair formula is beyond my financial ability to construct, but there are others whose jobs and positions hold them accountable for doing so and that is where the focus for change needs to be.
mime – Here’s the thing: Pretty much what you always say about the poor, the downtrodden, the old, the young, the minorities, and all the rest come off, (to me at least), as platitudes. You should believe that the vast majority of us want the same things. But the devil is in the details. You can’t really go on about the “wealth divide”, but have no vision how to address it. (Short of outright confiscation.)
There’s a fine balance between the interests of all those you talk about, and incentives in the democratic system. No one wants to kill the golden, egg-laying goose, either. You seem to have very strong opinions about the wrong courses to achieve your social goals, but they should be buttressed by alternatives. The left – for whatever reason – seems to have a problem with this. Doing a thing for the sole purpose of “just doing *something*”, especially something that gives all sorts of warm, fuzzy feelings, is not a course to anything but disaster. Complex issues require complex solutions – the so-called wealth/income divide is just one of them.
Ok, fair enough. My responses are inadequate, sound like platitudes, and fail to offer specific solutions . That’s disappointing because the poor, minorities, children, elderly, women, etc., deserve informed representation and support and I had hoped I was achieving that. Never the less, your primary complaint is that I am not offering specific solutions. That is difficult to do on a national level without deep budgetary knowledge and access. The best I can do is offer broad solutions such as these: quality, affordable elementary and post high school education; expanded chlld care for single and poor parents; adequate healthcare for all; an adequate safety net for the unemployed, elderly, disabled, poor, and veterans; equality of opportunity; equal pay for equal work; affordable access to family planning services and contraception; jobs training in market relevant areas for those entering the market or requiring re-training. I would not worry as much about balancing the federal budget as I would on establishing budget priorities that adequately address basic quality of life needs as well as meeting functional general services and defense. This isn’t going to be specific enough for your wishes, but details for the allocation of tax revenue is well above my pay grade. Frankly it is the responsibility of those we elect to office and the supporting federal bureaucracy to flesh out the specifics through laws, policies and programs.
Obviously you have some specific solutions to address areas of concern of interest to you. I’d like to read them and I promise to be kind in return.
mime – Not a lot of time right now, but here are a few:
Vote against every idiot that pushed for defunding Planned Parenthood. Dump Them!
Support candidates that would fund technical training at community colleges.
Support candidates that recognize that the healthcare system is broken, and would work to fix it without slush funding private interests like big Pharma, and the insurance industry.
There are just a few. More later!
This just seems like a poor argument. Keep wages at subsistence levels so that the economy won’t shed inefficient and superfluous jobs? Even if there was a large data set to show that low wages keeps jobs (there isn’t) I’m not sure that would be a good idea. Is it good for society to keep ALL wages low so that we can continue to have a few jobs still available? Or is it better to say goodbye to the theater usher and gas station attendant jobs in order for the other 99% of low paying jobs to finally get a living wage?
Companies are generally going to hire the bare minimum of ppl required to run their business. None of them are hiring ppl because they want to spread the jobs around, or they can’t be bothered to eliminate excess jobs at $7/hr but they will absolutely slash them at $8/hr. By raising the minimum wage, you don’t hurt jobs because there are no spare jobs to cut. Anybody working now is working because their business needs them. By forcing companies to pay them more, you are simply cutting into the businesses profit. They’ll still make healthy profits of course. Just no longer obscene ones.
If a job is so non essential to the business that it can’t survive a $10/hr wage, then it doesnt even exist because its almost certainly been eliminated years ago. And if a job IS essential to the business, then the business will pay the $10/hr.
This whole “don’t raise wages because then we’ll fire everyone and nobody will have jobs” is pure BS in the exact same way that trickle down economics is, and is used the exact same way: to shift more of the societal economic burden off of the wealthy elites and onto the backs of the poor.
RobA – Where to begin? “inefficient and superfluous jobs”, eh? Did you ever have one?
“By forcing companies to pay them more, you are simply cutting into the businesses profit.” Ever run a business? Does it occur to you that businesses might, just maybe, raise prices instead of making less money? And which segment of the population bears the brunt of price increases? The rich?
“shift more of the societal economic burden off of the wealthy elites and onto the backs of the poor.” Small businesses represent more than 99.7% of all employers, employ half of all private-sector workers and 39% of workers in high-tech jobs, provide 60% to 80% of the net new jobs annually, pay 44.3% of total U.S. private payroll, produce more than 50% of nonfarm private gross domestic product, or a GDP of roughly $6 trillion. “Wealthy elites”. Sure, RobA.
If this topic can be considered Off Topic, here it is. Tutta, you have expressed this concern many times. I think the Weekly Sift parses it out with great empathy and honesty. Whether we want to believe race is not what this election is all about or not, read this. It will increase your awareness if nothing else.
There’s a great blog that has (almost) nothing to do with economics called The Last Psychiatrist. Anyway, there’s an interesting piece in which, when talking about hipsters on foodstamps, he/she posits this:
“So start with an interesting hypothetical: does everybody need to work anymore? I understand work from an ethical/character perspective, this is not here my point. Since we no longer need e.g. manufacturing jobs– cheaper elsewhere or with robots– since those labor costs have evaporated, could that surplus go towards paying people simply to stay out of trouble? Is there a natural economic equilibrium price where, say, a U Chicago grad can do no economically productive work at all but still be paid to use Instagram? Let me be explicit: my question is not should we do this, my question is that since this is precisely what’s happening already, is it sustainable? What is the cost? I don’t have to run the numbers, someone already has: it’s $150/mo for a college grads, i.e. the price of food stamps. Other correct responses would be $700/mo for “some high school” (SSI) or $1500/mo for “previous work experience” (unemployment). I would have accepted $2000/mo for “minorities” (jail) for partial credit.”
I think he makes a great point. We *already* have a basic income. We just call it something else. The rest of his post is a fascinating psychological analysis of *why* we have to call it something else. I highly recommend it.
This may be why from an economic POV, as we change from the economics of scarcity to the economics of plenty, a basic income is a no brainer (I understand it’s not even really controversial among economists) but politically it’s very, very difficult to implement except by stealth.
There is literally no chance it ever gets.implemented in America first because of the political baggage.
When it comes to America (which I think it will) it will be because it’s been implemented pretty much every other developed nation AND has a multi decade track record of success in those countries.
This is where a Sanders presidency will lose support. Excellent article that goes into great detail both pro and against, the impact of a Sanders budget…..IF he could even get it passed. Absent Sanders platform that would impact tuition, wages, health care, jobs, taxes – what’s left? A great campaigner with cool ideas that would be impossible to implement? I think it’s high time for media to start focusing on this aspect of Sanders campaign. He’s mostly gotten a pass but is gathering momentum and it is time to hold his ideas up for deep, wide scrutiny.
Sorry, but this article pissed me off. Just to pick on a couple of topics, among many choices:
“The number one reason why these policies are feasible in Denmarkis that that country is extremely homogeneous.” Translation: if we do that here we’d have to treat black people fairly, and we can’t have that.
“It is likely that some business executives, hedge fund managers, and well-paid professionals will decide to hang it up and head for the beach.” Fine. I wish them well. Again, finance is not part of the real economy, the one that creates material benefits for individuals and society, its only legitimate purpose is to serve the real economy. If they don’t want to do that, get out of the way.
Sure, but the point is, we have not seen much indepth scrutiny of Sanders proposals and at least this article gathers a bunch of them and puts them out there. Pick what you like, dish the rest. It is critical that those who are in love with Sanders platform have something substantive to read. That really hasn’t been happening to the degree that Clinton’s every move is on parade. Fair is fair. Disagree if you like, but make a well informed decision, that’s all. To do so, there has to be data out there, which is Drumpf’s problem as well. He’s gotten a complete pass on scrutiny of his “plan”. Is that how we elect people these days?
“It is likely that some business executives, hedge fund managers, and well-paid professionals will decide to hang it up and head for the beach.”
First of all, let me clutch my pearls. Now that that’s done, this is patently absurd.
Most if these super elites don’t even think about money the way you or I do. Seriously, what’s the difference between taking home $30 million and taking home $50 million? Other then a bigger yacht maybe.
For these ppl, income is merely a way of keeping score. There are many reasons to work other then pure income, namely status, power, job satisfaction, social aspects etc etc.
Good thing someone forgot to tell JP Morgan, John Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford that they were being taxed at a top end of 90% or they probably would have just quit and gone home to fish or something.
I mean, seriously…..who even gets out of bed for less then $100,000/day
“It is likely that some business executives, hedge fund managers, and well-paid professionals will decide to hang it up and head for the beach.”
First of all, let me clutch my pearls. Now that that’s done, this is patently absurd.
Most if these super elites don’t even think about money the way you or I do. Seriously, what’s the difference between taking home $30 million and taking home $50 million? Other then a bigger yacht maybe.
For these ppl, income is merely a way of keeping score. There are many reasons to work other then pure income, namely status, power, job satisfaction, social aspects etc etc.
Good thing someone forgot to tell JP Morgan, John Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford that they were being taxed at a top end of 90% or they probably would have just quit and gone home to fish or something.
I mean, seriously…..who even gets out of bed for less then $100,000/day?
“tuition, wages, health care, jobs, taxes”. If he could implement even *one* of these parts, he’d be more effective than most Presidents. It’s like asking, aside from the New Deal and WW2, what did FDR actually do? 🙂
Also, I agree with Creigh. This is not a fair and balanced piece on Sanders. Why is it that Republicans and their “moderate” Democratic allies always want us to implement the economic policies of, for example, Ireland (a small island with a miniscule GDP compared to ours), but then say it’s too different a country to adopt their social policies?
When big banks here say we must dismantle our regulations so they can become as big as European banks, how come we don’t say Europe is too different and those regulations won’t work here? That we shouldn’t let JPMorganChase become Deustche Bank because the two countries are different?
Oh yes, and to Prof. Zingales, who in the article is quoted as saying “The danger for the United States is that it would wind up looking more like Italy and Greece than Denmark and Sweden,” due to our level of ethnic and cultural “diversity”…: Italy is less ethnically diverse than Sweden. But I guess to someone trying to scare people by bringing up the boogeyman of the failed states of the Mediterranean (with a nice side smear that nonwhites are a drag to a Western economy), facts are of little importance.
I don’t disagree with either you or Creigh about the frustrations Sanders supporters are feeling. Sort of like the other GOP candidates felt when Drumpf got all the time on stage and all the “free” time the rest of the time while their campaigns were ignored or had to pay for it.
Lest I be misunderstood, I am going to say it again: I like Bernie, and I agree with many of his ideas. I simply do not feel he will be able to implement them. As for the small or large EU comparison, that wasn’t the main point. Possibly the article could have focused more on the difficulty a Dem Pres will have negotiating a GOP Congress….I know, if Sanders is elected, seats will flip. Possibly in the Senate, not nearly enough in the House. We lost almost the entire first term of O’s administration while he figured out that Republicans hated him, would block anything he proposed, and didn’t give a S&*% what anyone else thought about it. Once he figured that out, the Dem majority in Congress was gone, the base was discouraged and didn’t show up in 2010, the Republican Party captured more Gubernatorial seats and took control of the House, to be followed in 2012 with control of the Senate. After which, O has had very few successes unless he’s gone around the process with E.O.s. I’m glad he did but I would have been happier with a more successful agenda from “day one”.
I can tell you from personal experience plus years of watching sausage making in all levels of government, that to be effective is what is important. Being principled is important but it doesn’t bring home the bacon. And, Sanders is promising lots of bacon. If he wins the nomination, he will have my total support, but do I think he will be effective? No. His agenda while important is only part of the job – a highly neglected part, to be sure, but a President doesn’t have the luxury of focusing only on “his” or “her” agenda, their job is infinitely more varied.
Great discussion, guys! Everyone is making super points.
I understand your concern about effectiveness, but I don’t think Bernie will be less effective than Hillary. Effectiveness has nothing to do with the ‘radicalness’ of your policies. Rather, the key to being effective is understanding the way power works in Washington, and being willing to get down and dirty in the horse trading and sausage making that is the legislative process. There’s nothing in Bernie’s record that shows that he doesn’t understand this (to be fair, Hillary understands this as well).
As you mention, Obama was ineffective in his first term not because he had incredibly radical ideas. His ideas were rather modest and centrist. Rather, he didn’t understand how Washington works, and spent 4-6 years before realizing Republicans don’t like him no matter how nicely he talked to them.
Is Bernie equally naive? No. He’s been in Washington long enough to understand how things get done. He may have radical ideas, but I see no reason to believe that he would reject a 50% compromise (or even less) just because of idealogical purity or a politically naive hope of getting 100%. For example, even though Bernie supports Medicare for all, he accepted Obamacare, but pushed to keep the public option in place. When even that was untenable, he voted for Obamacare without it. IMHO, Bernie’s voting record shows that regardless of how much he truly wants, he understands what’s realistically possible, and is willing to negotiate within that realm. The only difference is Bernie is willing to say what he truly wants.
There’s an old truism in negotiations that you should never negotiate against yourself. It means, don’t start the discussion by giving someone what you think they want. Ask for what you want, ask them to tell you what they want, and then start negotiations. IMHO, Hillary is making the classic mistake of starting the negotiations against herself before anyone has even asked for concessions. Bernie understands that you will never get what you want unless you start by asking for it.
It’s one thing to know “what” you want in politics; it’s another to work for compromise with others who have a very different agenda. If Bernie is the nominee, I will support him. Will Bernie’s supporters do the same for Hillary? IOW, will they stay home or go out and vote for a Democrat they didn’t support but who is a far better alternative than the Republican choice?
Of course, I can’t speak for every Bernie supporter, but believe it or not, I genuinely like Hillary too, and think she’s gotten a bad rap from the progressive base. So if she’s our nominee, I’ll gladly supported her. Heck, in 2008, I supported her over Obama, whom I thought was a neophyte who believed in kumbaya rather than understanding how DC really works. Yet when he won the nomination, I voted for him, and even volunteered in his campaign.
One of the reasons I’m glad I’m a Democrat is because we seem to have endless debates about the direction of our party (healthy, IMHO, to keep the party platform relevant), but in the end, we’ve so far managed to come together. I don’t think this one will be any different.
I’m not too swayed by the “he can’t get his agenda passed so why bother?”
With the exception of the ACA, Obama has gotten very little of his “agenda” passed the usual ways (through Congress). And yet he still has many legacy achievements, and the country is significantly more liberal then it was 8 years ago, and showing no signs of slowing. I think the interesting case could be made that America is more liberal today then it would be had he had a compliant congress. People get angry when they elect a president and the opposition treats him like an illegitimate usurper.
If Sanders gets elected and faces the same or worse obstruction, I think it inevitably leads to even MORE liberalisation of the country. And if you’re a liberal voting for Bernie, that is almost certainly a good thing.
Chris, I’m sorry, but there are so many false equivalencies here that I’m not sure where to begin. People didn’t use to have a formal job, because (as you say) they were busy scratching our a meager survival existence. Not having a job to stay in perpetual schooling or play World of Warcraft is an entirely different ballgame. Like you, I know people whose productive years will not likely exceed 20 years – I know 45 year olds who have “retired”. These are the exception and will continue to be so. Perhaps they were able to do this because the tax system is sufficiently regressive to allow them to amass a lifetime worth of wealth in a few years. None of these people were revolutionary entrepreneurs, just hard working business people. People have been making dire predictions of all sorts for centuries and we have neither starved to death nor arrived at the post-capitalist utopia that is at the heart of your ideas.
Let’s do the math. There are about 280,000,000 American citizens or permanent residents (the rest are legal or illegal immigrants). 71.5% of these are over 18. A basic income of $15,000 per person for every legal adult is $3 trillion, or 17.7% of GDP. This is in comparison to a current federal government that spends a bit less than $4 trillion on everything. You casually let slip that $15,000 is enough to live, given a presumption of provision of health care. We currently spend 17.2% of GDP on health care, a bit more than half privately and the rest in some form of public spending. This amounts to $9,500 per person, or $2.66 trillion. We are now up to 34.9% of GDP, a bit of which is repurposed from the private sector (health insurance). Let’s imagine ruthless cost control can get this down to 12% of GDP and you’re still at federal expenditures of 30% of GDP before any discretionary spending, which today eats up about 7% of GDP (mostly in defense). That is 37% of GDP.
Note that I have assumed the basic income will replace Social Security, which is probably politically impossible in the short run (4.9%) of GDP. It also does not include the reality that college costs a hell of a lot more than $15,000, no matter who pays for it.
This is pretty close to the tax rate in France and does not include anything related to state functions of local policing or education. You are very close to doubling the size of the federal government as a “conservative” principle. What am I missing here?
Let’s take a look at the version of a BI you’re referring to as a starting point, because it’s the most eye-poppingly expensive. That’s the Charles Murray version where everyone gets a check no matter what. I’d prefer one based on withholding, like Friedman proposed, but the math on Friedman’s proposal is more speculative and harder to pin down. First, the truly universal version:
I ran the numbers for a 10K basic income here. http://blog.chron.com/goplifer/2013/08/how-to-end-the-welfare-state/. I’m getting 250m US adults, by the way. Minor quibble. Let’s do the numbers for 15K using a $3tr target.
First we have to eliminate the duplication of welfare programs and social security (which seldom pays as much as 15K a month, averaging about 13K). That saves about 1.2tr a year. We’ll come back to SS in a moment.
A 10% VAT would raise about $750bn. There is reason to expect that a VAT which was used to fund a basic income would end up yielding more than the standard calculations, but let’s leave that aside.
Now you need another $1tr.
This takes us to the question of the claw-back tax surcharge. In Charles Murray’s version of the BI, everyone gets a check every month (hence the $3tr cost), but a graduated tax on incomes pulls it all back by about an 85K a year income. That surcharge in Murray’s calculations produces about $700bn.
That leaves us to generation $300bn from income taxes, which would represent about a 15% increase for earners at about the 150K mark (3-4 percentage points in net).
Step up from paying 21% to paying 24% and institute a VAT and you’ve paid for a basic income.
There would have to be some provision for people who have already paid into SS in excess of an amount that would produce a basic income. There actually aren’t very many of these people. I need numbers here and I don’t have them. One way or another those people would have to be made whole.
I’d prefer a much smaller program that only makes payments when incomes drop below a threshold. The overall outlay would be about half and it would cost a bit less to administer. The overall tax impact would be about the same, though you could probably get pay with a smaller VAT.
I’ll write about this in more detail later, but the BI also needs to be indexed, either to GDP or tax revenue or something. It should be a kind of national ownership plan, like Alaska’s payment from oil revenues, rather than a welfare entitlement.
What if the worst fears of conservatives are realized and everybody becomes a bum? Revenues will drop and the BI will drop with it. And the opposite works as well. Rising wealth gets spread.
And yes, health care is a critical issue. Can’t go into that right now, but the gist of it is that health care is a problem we need to solve anyway, regardless of what we do about our welfare system. More later.
I guess the challenge would be to set and maintain a BI “sweet spot” where one receives sufficient income to meet basic needs, yet does not receive a level of compensation that removes the incentive for most people to do better.
The “sweet spot” scenario should be the intended goal. It will be interesting to see what happens if the economy does take off. The normal checks and balance that Mosler referred to assumes that there will be “sufficient inflation as a natural outcome of increased spending. Higher standards of living for more people will result in more money spent. The upper tier will always be focused on investment thus the real stimulus will be empowering the classes that have always been one step away from financial catastrophe. Those on the bottom rung of the economic ladder will always have tenuous capability to secure retirement, but if the GBI helps them avoid major debt and maintain a decent lifestyle, our nation will be better off in many respects. Again, equality of educational and job opportunity combined with affordable health care is critical to the GBI achieving its ultimate goal – quality lives and security for more people.
The thing is, in France, tax(and mandatory social investments) is all-inclusive : retirement, job insurance, health insurance, etc….. When my employer pays 100 Euros, I’m getting 51(that’s even before the income tax and the sales tax), but I haven’t got to care about all those things. The best universities(and what we call grandes ecoles, who is a parallell system, rather good) are nearly free. I did pay 1800FF per year(that would be 300 or 400 euros per year today) for a “grande ecole du groupe A”(the best ones, my “grande ecole” was number 12 in France, I think in the time).
The idea, if I understand well, is to replace all that(besides maybe the health insurance). The check for everyone is a job insurance, helps you paying your studies, pays your retirement; etc…..
The idea is also to get rid of all the bureaucracy associated. Getting your jobless indemnity is a PITA in terms of papers, your retirement income even worse. If everyone gets it, you can put 1 million state workers to joblessness(in France, I leave you the job of scaling to the USA), enjoying the new universal income as their lone source of income.
I like the idea, the problem being the transition.
America would not only have to elect a Sanders, but a whole contingent of Sanders clones in the House and Senate to ever provide a benefits package comparable to that of France and many other European nations. Capitalism has concentrated wealth for so long to so few, that I don’t see them fading away without a Yuuuuuge fight over many years. As you noted, the transition will be difficult. Be aware, Glandu, that there are many Americans (some who post here) who disparage European university quality and feel America’s higher ed institutions are far superior. While there are many fine universities in the U.S., the problem has always been access due to high cost and equality issues. It’s also why so many of our college-bound population are in debt up to their ears, and that’s a damn shame.
The relative quality of US institutions of higher learning vis a vis Europe in general, or our great friends in France, (and I mean that without any irony whatsoever), is really not a simple matter of opinion, mime. Tuition expenses are a indeed an issue here, and this needs addressing as I have opined previously, but the quality is not.
Glandu – Can you get a degree in Women’s Studies for any major university in France, and if so, how much would it cost?
Universal healthcare would likely reduce (significantly) the present cost of healthcare, both in % of GDP and absolute terms.
As for the size of the government, it needs to be smartsized, not downsized (necessairily). That likely means increasing the size of some branches of government while at the same time reducing others. It may even result in a net increase in size, and that’s not inherently a bad thing.
Government spending is not (in a vacuum) bad. It is wasteful and inefficient spending that is. I consider spending more on the military then the next 15 countries COMBINED to be wasteful and inefficient. I don’t consider spending money to ensure every citizen has access to healthcare to be so, even if it’s a relatively large number.
“Smartsize” happens when “smart” people make good decisions, not partisan decisions. If the decisions are based upon rational thought, generally speaking, the nation benefits which is a far larger group than is benefiting from government policy today. And, that goes for both parties. Put country first in the truest sense of the word, and decisions will result in more democracy, not less as is continuously threatened by those who are afraid or worse, selfish.
You may well be right about the end of the job era, but then again you may not. I seem to recall back in the 1980s (yeah, I’m that old) it was all “with these new-fangled silicon computer chips, no-one will need to work more than 20 hours a week. What will we do with all that leisure time?” 30 years and more later, and I reckon I work longer hours than my father did. What happened to all my extra leisure time?
Maybe it was just that the predictions were accurate, just premature, and now it really is about to happen.
But colour me skeptical. In a lot of ways we’re still just hairless apes, and competing with each other for status is a *big* part of our makeup. Even with a basic income, lots of people – mostly men, I’m guessing – will be out there seeking some way of gaining “positional goods”; the big house, the sports car, the yacht, the holiday to Europe or whatever it may be that will enable them to impress women and intimidate other men. How? Sports & entertainment, for example; I can’t see AI replacing Tom Brady or Tom Hanks any time soon, if ever.
The other side of the coin of those 80’s predictions was mass unemployment; but it didn’t happen and I’m not betting on it this time, either. While paid employment may end, or at least revert to levels of your grandmother’s era, work or labour or “doing stuff to get stuff” will continue in some way. That’s my prediction; we’ll see who ends up being correct.
***What happened to all my extra leisure time?***
I understand the sentiment, but if you’re regularly working more than 70 hours a week, you are an extreme outlier (young attorneys and software developers facing a deadline are about the only ones). For the average laborer half a century ago that was a pretty standard work week in many fields despite labor laws. For farmers it was more like 80-90.
Labor participation by adult males, the only segment of the workforce who have had access to full participation for as long as we’ve kept records, has been in decline for as long as we’ve kept records. It’s dropped by almost a quarter since the 60’s in a straight line. Now that other groups like women and minorities have gained access to the workforce, their participation has also peaked and is now in decline.
Individual experiences may vary, but on the aggregate we have fewer people working. They are working less than they ever have before. And the overwhelming bulk of them are doing it in relatively safe, climate controlled conditions with appropriate safety gear where needed. That’s what the aggregate numbers tell us.
Lifer: “…if you’re regularly working more than 70 hours a week, you are an extreme outlier..”
Maybe I missed something here, but the “class” you are targeting with the 70 hour work week is in the professional arena. I don’t know many low working class (those whose work is labor-intensive, everyone from those in construction to people who work in homes, yards, hospitals,etc.) who don’t work a 70+ hour week. At their hourly wage, they simply can’t make it with less. It is certainly conceivable that this group would/could work fewer hours if they had a GBI, but that is not the case for many of them at present.
Another point in favor of your pricing model that hasn’t been mentioned and is difficult to quantify, is the money saved through elimination (or greatly reduced) of fraud, abuse and waste that accompanies our current model. While I am not a believer in the hyperbole that this problem is massive, I do agree it exists and could be lessened under your BI construct.
I’m not facile with the numbers you were citing, but we also have this little problem of existing Federal Debt, which though manageable under today’s scenario despite what we constantly hear from conservatives, is still a real obligation that has to be repaid or at least “managed” within existing revenues.
Another point is that women in the workforce do not earn equal pay for equal work, are not represented in high level positions proportional to their numbers but are over-represented in lower income positions. Surely any attempt to level the gender pay playing field will necessarily address equal pay for equal work which will redistribute working pay more fairly. Key is will it mean more income overall or simply redistribution?
Finally, as American society moves to more fairness in benefits that hew more closely to liberal ideas – paid family leave, paid maternity leave, equal pay for equal work, educational equality, universal health care of some kind, some kind of employer matched retirement program that is available to more than the upper tier – what will these new policies (which in my view are important) – do to your mathematical formula? Dare I hope for a more realistic DOD budget that allows other areas of importance to share limited revenue? If not, where will the money come from to fund this more generally socialized (in the broadest sense) distribution of revenue?
While I respect your analysis, Chris, I don’t think this is a unique problem. As you’ve mentioned, productivity and economic growth has been relentlessly increasing for centuries.
And as productivity and economic output rises, the best thing to do is to share the productivity gains with both suppliers (so they can continue to invest as needed) and consumers (so they have the means to consume all the new output). When we had strong unions, this is what happened. After all, a 5-day work week and 8-hour days were not a God-given right; they were obtained after pitched battles driven by unions. If we’re truly at a point of economic abundance where the number of people we need working has declined, then we should be talking about 4-day work weeks, increased vacations, etc. while keeping the salaries the same. But this is anathema to capitalists who think it’s great that they can keep 100% of the productivity gains of their investments but think it’s BS when other capitalists do the same, thereby ensuring that no one has enough money to buy each others’ goods and services.
IOW, it boils down to income inequality yet again. It’s not surprising that if income inequality has been inexorably rising for the past 50 years, that we’re now at the point where demand is so low, central banks have to offer *negative* interest rates to entice capitalists to invest in new production.
BTW, your analogy about the pecan shellers regressing to a feudal model before unions and political initiatives reversed the course is prophetic. Thanks to the destruction of job security and wage stagnation, gross capital formation as a percentage of GDP has been on the decline in the US for a few decades (meaning less money is going to productive investment since stagnant wages means there’s less pressure to improve productivity). Indeed, wages are now so low, that many Indian outsourcing companies are establishing centers in the US, because they’re now cheaper than running the same white-collar sweatshops in India and China. Same thing with onshoring of manufacturing. Those aren’t happening because all of a sudden the US invested in its infrastructure, education, etc. to the point that we can outcompete. In the face of declining gross capital formation, the only reason for onshoring is our labor has become cheap enough.
From an economic standpoint, a good Keynsian would say that the big problem with the economy today is lack of demand (for consumer goods and services). Lack of demand is pretty much equivalent to lack of money in the hands of people willing to spend it. So what would happen if a bunch of people were given money to spend? Entrepreneurs would be incentivized to figure out how to meet that demand. In many cases, people would have to be hired to work in the businesses that were set up to supply those goods and services.
Basically, Chris, what you’re proposing is demand side stimulus. There would probably be some inflationary tendency associated with a basic income (though it would certainly be less of a problem than many people might think). But since the primary purpose of taxation is to control inflation (by reducing demand to a level that can be accommodated by supply), taxes might have to be raised.
The people who invented and still believe in supply side stimulus are going to hate anything that might raise inflation or taxes. These people have a mortal fear of inflation and taxes.
Ryan, A little inflation is just what the doctor ordered.
Sorry, Mossler, my comment on inflation was mis-directed. You are correct once again. Us old folks would welcome a little rise in interest rates to help our conservative investments, as well. All in moderation……….
Off Topic, but I’m in Florida for a couple of days of work.
Three straight Anti-Trump ads back, to back, to back on TV.
The first and third commercials were “Trump or Consequences”, linkikng Trump to various democratic ideas (e.g., individual mandate, planned parenthood not evil) and the middle was “Vote for Rubio to stop Trump” which actually said, “a vote for Cruz or Kasich is a vote for Trump”.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such commercials, but I’m in Texas, and we live in a state generally without political ads because there is no chance the state is going to vote anything but GOP (at least for the time being).
I’m officially “Team Trump” at this point (in preference over Cruz), but I think the violence and protesters at his rally’s will do some damage to Trump politically. It is all fun and games when he’s just mouthing off about Mexicans and Muslims, but when there are pictures of bloody folks in the streets, I think people will look much more negatively about that.
Excellent post. If your point of view was the conservative Republican point of view, our country would be in excellent shape – not just for today, but for the future. I’m a future-oriented person when it comes to economics and politics…even though I support Sanders(!).
One of the biggest problems that people have with looking to the future is that they generally only see the immediate past, and today. The vast majority of people alive today have lived in a world where “jobs” are what you do in order to survive+thrive in the world. Most people are totally oblivious that other people were born and grew up in totally different conditions than themselves and their immediate family and neighbors. They actually believe that they went to school, went to college/got a decent job out of high school, and are doing fine, so anyone who isn’t is a lazy piece of shit looter and moocher. Yet, this very worldview is a recent phenomenon…that working at a job is “normal” and the “responsible” way to live.
Most people are unaware that just a few generations ago, people who went to work everyday were considered wage slaves. Paraphrasing it from memory, but, you either find someone to hire you, or you starve to death. Hooray freedom. A few generations ago, people owned property, and they worked that property for their own livelihoods.
The world is changing, and technology/automation is going to continue to reduce the number of jobs that are available. Already, right this very second, the human species in general, and the US economy in particular, doesn’t need as many laborers as there are people over the age of 18 who would be willing and able to work.
So, Chris, what do you see as the major stumbling block for the US population who would read your take on a basic income, and scream that you’re a g-d communist? Is it their nearsightedness? Is it their inability to realize that economic stages of capitalism are not static, and never have been?
I ask, because you point at Sanders as someone who wants to apply a 20th century fix to a 21st century problem, whereas Sanders is the candidate who sees the same exact problem you do – that the economy favors one group of people over the others.
Or, to put it another way, and to avoid even discussing Sanders…how do you envision the US economy transitioning to a basic income, when right now the current, outdated safety net is constantly threatened by a federal government with a majority of Republicans in charge of the three branches.
I understand that you aren’t a Trump/Cruz/Brownback Republican, but considering that you’re still ostensibly a Republican, how are YOU and your allies going to convince the Republican donor class/establishment that if they want a capitalist, business friendly country, they are going to have to get over continually cutting taxes for the supply side, allowing unemployment to remain high so that wages stagnate, all while those same politicians scapegoat the unemployed and call them lazy moochers and looters?
To transition from one stage of capitalism to another stage without having all of the good sink, and all of the bad rise to the surface won’t be easy. It’s a very fragile thing. Right now, assuming that the transition is going to happen whether politicians are able to see it or not, which political/economic middle ground would be best?
A stronger safety net providing the population with X, Y, and Z benefits that aren’t a “basic income”, or cutting as much of the safety net as possible, because the safety net itself is encouraging people to be lazy and mooch off the system, rather than going out and getting themselves a good factory, blue-collar $25 and hour job right out of high school.
As a “liberal”, relatively speaking, I think that gutting the current safety net, right now, would be extremely detrimental. I think you agree, but that is what sets you apart from the rest of the Republican party as a whole. So, since “leaving isn’t exactly an option”, how are you going to convince the people who view the world as a static place where JobCreators™ will always create jobs if we just give them more tax cuts and dirt cheap labor, to essentially do a 180 turn…which I think they would consider, off the top of their heads, communistic.
How can you and your fellow sane Republicans change the static view of economic reality within your party, without the party infrastructure being totally destroyed first?
The party infrastructure is already destroyed that’s why we’re seeing the rise of Trump/Cruz/etc. In 2012 what was left of the infrastructure managed to shove Romney through but the GOP is over for now. It will have to fully implode to be reasonable, and might need a new name too, as unfortunate as that it.
My biggest question is what happens to the Dixiecrat and far-right nationalist vote? That’s at least 15% of the electorate, and the GOP can’t afford to lose them anymore. Do they get their own party? Do they go back to the Democrats?
Well, I’ve been predicting Trump as GOP nominee destroys the party as a national party for at least a few election cycles. Since Citizens United (typical conservative pyrrhic victory, by the way) the Republican party is in essence just a brand name under which to market yourself. Trump is simply a much better marketer than any Republican. In fact, Trump is in essence just a marketer, and nothing else. It’s his name that sells, not his products.
Back on topic – instead of saying infrastructure, I should have said party platform.
In essence, the platform, regardless of Trump, Rubio-bot 2.0.4, Kasich, or Brownback, is cut taxes on the wealthiest people in the solar system, encourage unemployment (by ignoring it) to drive down wages, and then demonize everyone who isn’t employed. That is, in essence, their platform, with wedge issues like abortion and guns and the rest simply kabuki theatre to keep the rubes and useful idiots entertained while the tax cuts get passed and the money gets distributed to the donor class.
Chris is basically calling for a basic income, and if you think Republicans masterbate furiously to the word “redistribution” as is, how is a Republican going to start calling for literal redistribution to the “lazy” unemployed, with cold, hard cash, rather than simply health insurance or SNAP assistance that is still more benefit/abstract than actual cash money?
In the future, what I see is sane conservatives joining with the conservative right-wing of the Democratic party, and the actual liberal left wing forming a new party…I mean, you can see it already with the Sanders v. HRC arguments now.
I’m not sure if this is 1856, 1968, or 1980 for the Republican party, but one thing is for sure – things are about to change, and not necessarily for the best.
I predicted back in July that Trump support would be over 3% until the day after the election…in essence predicting Trump as the nominee… when everyone else thought he was just some passing fad.
Why was my prediction more accurate? Because the dirty fucking hippies were right over the past 45 years, and if you payed attention, none of this is any surprise. The GOP donor class has spent billions training their base to buy whatever bullshit they are selling and to ignore reason…and now the donor class is trying to fight Trump with facts and figures. Hilarious, if you think about it.
The GOP donor class taught the base to salivate to the sound of bells, and Trump is a master bell ringer. And all the GOP donor class can do is say, “bad base, bad, stop it!”. The results are unsurprising, of course. The GOP trained its base to be a bunch of authoritarian goons.
I’m not trying to advertise another blogger here, but one of my favorites is Driftglass. He’s a firebrand to some extent, and an amazing writer if you like your political prose poetrified.
By the way, I do advertise goplifer.com in multiple places whenever I’m discussing what a rational, reasonable, sane Republican looks like, so hopefully my non-linked reference to Driftglass doesn’t break any rules here.
“My biggest question is what happens to the Dixiecrat”
Well, going by Jim Webb’s poll numbers, that’s like 5 people, so they’re not relevant.
“and far-right nationalist vote?”
Been wondering that myself, but at 15% (I think it’s less), they don’t have a plurality and it’s getting harder and harder for them to form coalitions with other groups (or be part of them), so gradual extinction seems to be the path. How long that path takes and how much BS it still manages to kick up in its death throes is another thing.
It is my belief, that this coming election will have more significance for the future not only of the Republican Party, but more importantly, for our country, than any other going back all the way to FDR. I think it is that critical. I have been reading commentary that the GOP is abandoning their focus on the Presidency (I don’t agree with that opinion) and will focus instead on retaining their majority and seats in the House and Senate. After all, they’ve pretty well shut down President Obama, would probably do the same for either Sanders of Clinton, so the Presidency, though nice, is not essential. That’s just my opinion, but it is how I think this is going down.
Well, different factions within the party want different things, which is why the rift is opening up.
You have the Tax Cuts Today, Tax, Cuts Tomorrow, Tax Cuts Forever wing perfectly happy with the federal government unable to do what the federal government needs to do. This is Grover Norquist wing, and an ineffective government makes it much easier for the already rich and powerful to stay rich and powerful. This is the wing that doesn’t care about the presidency. I mean, listen to Master Norquist, Oathmaker extraordinaire, discussing the Presidency.
The rest of the Republican party isn’t going to like not having the Presidency, because the Presidency is in charge of the executive branch, and to some extent, determines the policy outlook of the US Supreme Court, through appointing justices for life. This wing is the wing that is going to find it difficult-to-impossible to exist as a unified party if the members have essentially zero chance of ever getting into the big seat at the White House.
Once a political party has zero chance of winning the White House, it either adapts, adopts, or disappears.
Norquist and friends don’t care about abortion – their daughters and mistresses can fly to NYC for a nice weekend and an abortion. They don’t care about guns – they live in gated communities with armed security…Stand Your Ground and Concealed Carry/Open Carry is just a limited liability economic policy for the private police that they use as bodyguards.
This is the rift you see now. There are grifter-subtype Republicans who don’t really give that much of a shit if Rmoney or Rubio is President, as long as regulations are lax and taxes are low. And then there are the true believers subtype Republicans who really do want to outlaw guns and make gun ownership mandatory…and they need the White House to do it. Additionally, the base believes that they are the true Americans, and that everyone else is a moocher/looter pseudo-American, as that is what the donor class/establishment has used to get them to side with them and join their tribe…and the base is finally waking up to the fact that they’ve been used as useful idiots for the past 40+ years.
Hence, the donor class/establishment and base divide…and without each other, they are relegated back into the wilderness like they were from 1932 until the mid 1990s.
Grover Norquist is on my top ten list of conservatives I reeeely can’t stand. I don’t want to ruin my Sunday (or yours) by listing the others.
Good response. Our youngest son is an ardent Sanders supporter and called today to tell me “what a great VP Hillary will make” (-; Our two oldest are conservatives and I’m afraid to ask them who they are supporting. Generally, we don’t talk politics because we can’t.
Slate did an interesting Q & A on what a contested Republican Convention scenario might look like. It’s a interesting read. Don’t think for a minute that the RNC has given in to the Don. And, Masters Romney and Ryan (despite protestations from Ryan to the contrary), are very much possibilities with a few tweaks of convention rules. Anyway, check it out.
I’m not even sure which scenario I prefer…Trump as GOP nominee, or a brokered convention with someone like Jeb(?) chosen as the dedicated tomato can. Either way, I think that the last 40+ years of neoliberal economics are about over, and it can’t come soon enough.
You seem very certain of the GOP post mortem….Hope you’re right but I think this is going to be really hard….which is ok as long as Dems take the Senate. We need the Senate more than we need the presidency but both would be awesome.
The Republican Party is actually already much closer to this solution than the Democrats. It was Democrats, after all, who killed this idea in the Nixon Administration. Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio have both proposed something that comes very close with their expanded EITC. Once the knuckle-draggers have split away to form their own white nationalist party, the center of gravity inside the GOP might pivot, placing pressure on the Ryan/Rubio types to move closer to a minimum income.
It makes a lot of sense as a proposal from the business right. It was Hayek and Friedman who originally cooked it up.
And, supposing the moderate, sane center of the Republican party starts to call for a basic income…they won’t have the votes by themselves.
So, if center-right Democrats join the moderate Republicans, does this lay the foundation for a new center-center party, and if so, does it lead as a new coalition with a left-wing pull?
Where does the white nationalist party go since it would be a regional party at best? Given our Electoral College and First-Past-the-Post voting system, they have to go somewhere.
Not with Paul Ryan. He’s a good man but he is hard right. I can’t see him aligning with moderate/conservative Dems. I frankly don’t see any coalition between Dems and Repubs. It is certainly possible that the Trump faction could split off but where would they go? They think Dems are the problem…I don’t know, n1cholas, I think either the Repubs fix themselves by elevating the rational leaders and letting them lead and control the Freedom Caucus, the Grover Norquists, the Heritage Foundation et al, or ?
Well, I was just about to ask who’s closest to a minimum income.
I think we have to remember that a negative tax, which is essentially what EITC is, is not the same as a basic income. EITC, IMHO will not be enough in this century’s ecocomy.
That said, I don’t think the right wing nationalists will form their own party – they’re already the largest bloc in the GOP primaries, unfortunately.
If anything, the sane people will have to split off. And in this, you better be hoping for a Sanders nomination – because the Dems will then become a traditional left wing party again, and a lot of moderate and center right Dems would be interested in a center-right party with the GOP.
Seriously, Sanders vs Trump is the best possible outcome for a GOPLifer party to become a significant player in the American system.
If Sanders loses, especially with superdelegates and other hijinks that the Dem party is pulling, then the left wing of the Dem party breaks off/stays home – and the corrupt patronage party will remain and have no issues occupying the center-right.
The GOP is a little murkier, but having the right wing nationalists all rally behind Trump means everyone else will get a nice clear boundary of the voters they’re playing for. You couldn’t ask for a better outcome to disawow the far right and be consistently center right again – whether that be from within GOP establishment or out of it.
This election cycle has had so many new precedents set that I do think it’s the most unusual in modern history. The pollsters and pundits are baffled, precisely because there is no precedent for 2016 in modern history…
Pseudo, I’m curious about the Dem “hyjinks” and superdelegate comment. Superdelegates are a legitimate part of the process. That Clinton has been able to get these people to declare for her is to her credit. Understand that superdelegates merely are declared but are unbound at the convention. IOW, these people can go to the convention and vote for whoever they like. Now, it is expected that they will vote for the “declared” candidate at least on the first ballot, but they are not “required” to do so as I understand it. (Please correct me if I am wrong.) Also remember that Bernie bears some responsibility as he is a declared Independent who is “using” the Democratic Party rather than run an independent, 3rd party campaign. Bernie votes with Dems “most of the time” but not all of the time, which the rank and file Democrats in the Senate (and House) clearly understand. The superdelegate process was/is open to Sanders just as it was/is to Clinton. He didn’t get their support because most have an allegiance to HRC or feel she is the better candidate. That is their right under the rules. The big question is if Bernie accumulates more “popular primary” delegates, how would that impact superdelegates. The convention sorts that out.
What hyjinks are you referring to? There is a lot of nasty stuff being circulated (what is true, I don’t know) but I am unaware of any “hyjinks” from the Clinton side. Enlighten us, please.
The idea that the business right give a damn about Hayek and Friedman is amusing. All they care about (generalizing) is taxes and regulations, and on an individual basis building barriers to competition from other firms.
This is from another blog – and I may have posted it here before but it is so apt
“Business friendly” is code for “Rich businessman friendly”, despite the two being almost entirely at odds. Business growth is higher under left-wing governments because they encourage reinvestment of profits in wages, R&D and modernisation, rather than allowing a small number of execs and owners to extract all the money as market rent.
(In the same way that spending is actually often lower under left-wing governments, after an initial burst, because preventative maintenance is much cheaper than crisis management. The right wing does everything by crisis management, because their ideology insists on “saving money” by cutting long-term preventative programs.)
Let me preface this by saying that I’m not a 100% Sanders supporter. isidewith says I’m about ~80% aligned with both Gary Johnson and Bernie Sanders, with Jill Stein ranking slightly below, and Clinton further down still. I’m quite libertarian when it comes to civil liberties and pretty centrist when it comes to econ.
Look, politics in modern history has operated under the idea that “The Party Decides”. There are many methods for forming and enforcing a consensus around a candidate, the most prominent of which is superdelegates.
The problem is that voters, including a LOT on the Sanders side, especially this election cycle, do not like “The party decides”. They see that influence extend to endorsements, local Dem chapters endorsing a candidate and sending out sample ballots listing only the choice of the establishment, or even something that’s seemingly innocuous like Clinton appearing first and Sanders appearing last on a ballot, even though it makes no sense alphabetically (there are several other unknown candidates). They see this as a subversion of the Democratic process, never mind that both parties are, as I understand it, private entities that can do whatever they want. It doesn’t matter that Sanders was an independent who ran as a Democrat purely to avoid being a spoiler (as revealed by his own thoughts and words towards the end of 2014). To many Sanders supporters, Sanders is closer to the heart of the Democrats as a party of the left and labor than Clinton is, and they are furious that the party establishment doesn’t give Sanders exactly as much importance to him as they do towards Clinton. Look at things from this angle, and then you begin to see the anger of the Bernie or busters at the DNC and the “establishment”, and how every little story or event feeds that anger, sometimes deservedly and sometimes undeservedly – the line between real and perceived insults gets blurred.
Let me give you a list of things, some of which may not be true, that I’ve heard, both on the internet and from Sanders supporters I know.
-Sanders announces. Media writes him off but Jon Stewart introduces him to the public.
-Two months later, Sanders had gained some steam, but media still writes him off and doesn’t give him much airtime. Now, note that the mainstream media (MSM – it’s so commonly used that it has it’s own acronym) is not the DNC, but it’s already feeding the narrative of the established consensus of “The Party Establishment” and the “Pundit Class”.
-First major blowup. DWS (Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Another acronym that you’ll be seeing more) goes ahead with a ridiculously sparse debate schedule with fewer debates consigned to horrible spots on TV. This feeds into “Hey, the establishment doesn’t want everyone to see our candidate Sanders. They’re trying to protect Clinton. What the hell?”. And then it’s made worse by the fact that the DNC institutes a rule that if a candidate takes part in a debate not sanctioned by the DNC, then they get barred from all of the official debates. DWS did not relent on this debate schedule until it became clear that Sanders was competitive anyway and added a bunch more debates.
-The Biden thing. Nothing to do with Sanders again – but the moment that Biden entered the news, everywhere, including MSM and polls (look at the polls from that time period. There are more questions about Biden vs republicans than Sanders vs republicans) was all about “Clinton vs Biden”, completely ignoring the candidate that was actually doing better than Biden. Again, not necessarily a DNC thing, but I’m sure you can see how generic anger against the establishment will include the DNC.
-The polling data thing, fallout between the DNC and the Sanders campaign. This was bad. The warning signs that people were angry should have all gone off at this point. A Sanders campaign employee finds a hole in the firewall (between the two campaigns) in the system that holds the databases held by both campaigns. He then proceeds to improperly access that data. I do not know how much data he accessed, and how much was stolen. The guy at fault says he was just trying to document the breach, given that his prior warnings about poor data security had been ignored by the vendor of said database system, while the DNC says he stole a lot of data. In either case, the guy is promptly fired by the Sanders campaign, and the campaign issues an apology. The DNC decides to punish the Sanders campaign by cutting off all access to the database, citing the need for a review. Sanders campaign says cutting off all access basically causes the entire campaign to grind to a halt, sues the DNC asking for an independent audit. Things quickly become murkier when it’s revealed that both the database vendor and the auditor that the DNC wanted to use has ties to the Clintons.
Note that the Sanders campaign was at fault here, but to Sanders supporters, the DNCs response was overly harsh, and used a minor infarction (that should have been handled behind the scenes) as a pretext to directly and significantly harm the Sanders campaign. It reinforced the belief that the DNC and DWS were in the bag for Clinton.
-News comes out that the DNC has removed limits on lobbyist cash that were put in place by Obama. This news comes as Sanders was doing amazing fundraising and is widely seen by Sanders supporters as a means of bolstering the “Hillary Victory Fund”, and to counter Sanders’ grassroots success with even more corporate money. Added rumor: Hillary Victory fund was supposed to have been limited to the general, but apparently that money was spent on ads directing people to Clinton’s fundraising website. Again, it’s a rumor, but by this point, you must be able to see the narrative that’s being seen by many Sanders fans.
-Somewhere at this point, people become convinced that Chris Matthews on MSNBC is in the bag for Clinton after people think he had been extra hard on Sanders and extra soft on Clinton. Things are not helped when it’s discovered that Matthews’ wife is running for office and is somehow linked to the DNC and Clinton fundraising. Not too sure on the details on that one, but it feeds into the establishment/MSM/DNC are all against Sanders vibe. Similar allegations of being “sold out” to the establishment are made – that people are pretending to be unbiased journos while, in reality, they have deep biases – on Andrea Mitchell, Michael Cohen (Boston Globe), Jonathan Capehart (Washington Post). These allegations are just that – allegations, but more fuel to the fire.
-Superdelegates. Believe me, that the anger was real after super Tuesday, and was turning malicious. There were so many articles calling Sanders’ campaign dead, showing (and not clarifying) superdelegates as though they were pledged and could not change their minds, calling for Sanders to end his campaign or to at least stop damaging Clinton and so on. It doesn’t matter what the math and the precedent said. The very fact that they were calling the “people’s campaign” dead and asking them to give up infuriated them. When it became clearer that many Sanders supporters didn’t turn up because they thought a) it was over, b)there was no chance or c)it was a winner-take-all like in the general and didn’t bother, they were infuriated more. I think this was a real turning point when it came to the anger. I even have a personal component with this. One of my friends, who’d been a lifelong straight Dem ticket voter through many election went Bernie or Bust that day – a real surprise for me, considering she never paid that close attention to politics. It’s not just her though – bad MSM reporting is having an effect, such as when my friend’s mom, who pays even less attention, asked “What happened in Maine?”, and was annoyed that MSM didn’t report on that.
-Moar on superdelegates. DWS says something that essentially means superdelegates are so that the party establishment doesn’t need to compete against the grassroots. And Howard Dean says that as a superdelegate, he’s not elected by anybody and he’ll do what he thinks is best. Cue even more outrage and anger.
-In that atmosphere, and bad blood, you’ll begin to understand that even stories/rumors of relatively minor infarctions can do. For example, stories of polling officials, volunteers or helpers at some places promoting Clinton, rumors of people in old age homes taken to vote for Clinton, rumors of electronic polling machines being poorly secured and vulnerable to hacking – and that differences in results where electronic machines gave an advantage to Clinton and paper ballots gave an advantage to Bernie (true as I understand it, but it can also be explained by the urban/rural divide), or Bill Clinton campaigning in MA on polling day, and entering a polling location and blocking voting (this one’s true. He held up the line because secret service, campaigned just 150ft (legal limit) out side location, and even entered a polling location at one point (illegal, but what’re you going to do?))
-Tulsi Gabbard resigns as vice chair, endorses Sanders and adds more fuel to the fire saying there was intense pressure within the DNC to support Clinton.
-Oh, and at some point, DWS makes everyone hate the DNC a little extra by going out of her way to support the payday loan industry and attack some of the regulations by Warren’s regulations on them.
Look, a lot of what I said is trivial or innocuous or just an unproven rumor. I know this. But consider that a lot of Sanders’ supporters already see the whole system as hopelessly broken and corrupt. They see the RNC as being full of crazies and the DNC as being horribly corrupt and fully taken over by big money interests. They see Sanders as the one honest incorruptible politician who’s been fighting the good fight for decades, standing up for causes whether they were popular or not (That bit is true – go google Sanders 199x or 20xx) and they see him as someone they can rally around. All of the stuff I mentioned above has only reinforced the idea that the whole system is horribly corrupt, and broken – and that the DNC, DWS, MSM and Clinton are all symptoms of exactly that. A lot of first time voters and independents (independent≠centrist/moderate) are breaking for Sanders precisely because of that – and they’re not happy. The same goes for the under 30s who get a majority of their info from zillions of sources online rather than from MSM.
What I’m seeing is voter apathy (who cares? They’re all the same and fake. My vote doesn’t count), turn into outright voter antipathy to the establishment. I’ve seen that anger in people who never were on the activist fringe – normal people, leading boringly normal lives, who are suddenly very angry at the political establishment, the MSM the pundit class and the narrative they drive. And for the first time, sources of info on the internet are just as powerful cable TV. People are organizing.
If you want the DNC to survive relatively unscathed, you better hope that Clinton wins outright in pledged delegates, or that Sanders wins and the superdelegates don’t sway the election to Clinton. In the first scenario, Sanders supporters will be salty, and some won’t vote/vote green but most will eventually accept the loss. If Sanders wins, most Clinton supporters will vote for him. If sanders wins elected delegates but superdelegates turn the election, believe me when I say it’ll be bad. The reason for this is that a giant section of Sanders supporters are voting for him, and not for a democratic candidate. So far, the Dems have been effective in bringing outsiders into the Dem fold, but I’m not sure that’ll happen in the third scenario – and considering that the Dems need the youth, independent and first timer turnout to win the General, it’ll be bad…
Okay, sorry for the long post, but I’ve been following the Sanders vs Clinton thing with a lot of interest. That a 74-year old white man, a Democratic Socialist from Vermont with zero name recognition can come to challenge one of the greatest political dynasties in the country, a machine with power, influence, wealth, donors and establishment support – and do it almost entirely on the power of the internet, with no support from the media, party establishment, or wealthy donors is one of the most incredible stories of our time. Ron Paul and Howard Dean were never this successful, and they weren’t running against one of the most well oiled political machines. It’s a demonstration of the changing face of politics in the internet era.
Pseudo, I think I just got beat out for “most wordy” (-; but maybe I’ll get there with this post!
Thanks for the detailed response. I will offer a general response but we can continue to exchange thoughts if I am unclear or you have disagreements you wish to pursue.
First, I like Bernie. Pretty much every body on the left “likes” Bernie. Read the WaPo article I linked that analyzes his platform for cost accuracy and you will better understand why people like me who love his ideas but KNOW he can’t implement them, are concerned. Let’s assume Bernie gets the nomination and becomes President. The “real” likelihood that the House will change its red spots for at least two more election cycles is highly unlikely due to gerrymandering. That.is.fact. Even if the Senate converts to Dem majority, it is unlikely it will be able to do so without the filibuster threat. That.is.fact. So, what will a man with great ideas (most of which I like) be able to actually accomplish? And, how important is that in this election? I submit, tremendously important.
Now, let’s focus on what I think is really happening. There are always going to be affronts, abuses, and probably some dirty tricks in any nomination process. I really, really don’t think this is happening to a larger degree than what is normal politics (which says a lot for cynicism from years of watching/being involved in politics.) What isn’t “normal” is that so many young, passionate people are engaged – many for their first time. I would posit, much more so than even Obama attracted. That is fabulous. Unfortunately for them, the real world of politics, whether they like it or not, whether it’s right or not, is an institution and, as such, has features that are necessary and repugnant. Sanders supporters have a combination of passion and political naivete and exceptionally high expectations. People of my age and sustained interest AND involvement over years (I’m 72 and have actually run for a local office which is eye-opening even at this level) have a more realistic understanding of the entire process. I might get “miffed” but it takes a major problem for me to become scandalized or furious, because, well, it’s politics. It is highly imperfect, fraught with contradictions, but it is kinda sorta democratic. Could be lots better, I agree with that.
Bottom line, I don’t believe the young lions of Sanders campaign can approach this race with anything other than scorn and skepticism for his opponent, HRC. I have already stated that I will vote for whoever the Dem nominee is and work hard to help them get elected. That includes Bernie Sanders, who I think is a principled, smart man. I just do not believe he is the “right” candidate for the times and for the job as I understand it. I have a pretty good idea of what’s involved in the “process” which I don’t think most millennial Sanders supporters do. That’s not a criticism, they are simply too new to the process. I applaud their interest and hope they will stay with the Dem Party regardless who the nominee is. I can see from your remarks, that may not happen. So be it. All we have to risk is a Republican sweep of three branches of government for decades, which I happen to think is worth holding my nose and voting for the one who can win AND work effectively within the political structure.
I will support HRC because I think she is the best candidate (of all). I like Bernie Sanders and am in awe of his inspirational campaign. It is critical that Dems win the PResidency and most of all, the Senate. I will sacrifice a whole lot to accomplish that end, and, believe me, the Republican Party will do the same. I hope you don’t feel that I am being evasive or disrespectful, but that I helped you understand why many do not share your support for Bernie as the ultimate candidate. Of course, that is the spirit of a campaign, but, in the end, I’m certain even Bernie will put party before disappointment. I would expect nothing less. There is simply too much to lose.
Obama ran an amazing campaign in 2008 with plenty of online support – but he did have a few advantages. He was a young black man, which is important in a society where race still plays a part, while Sanders is an old white man. He had plenty of support from large donors, and the political establishment and MSM, while Sanders doesn’t.
Clinton is a woman going up against an old white man with little establishment support
I don’t have a problem with HRC, per se, or the DNC per se. After all, HRC is a solid “traditional” politician. Besides, the DNC has a major skin in this game in their donor networks. This massive grassroots fundraising that Sanders does – it doesn’t help the DNC directly. It remains to be seen if the grassroots energy that I’m seeing with the Sanders campaign extends to downballot races. So far, I haven’t seen much of that. Clinton is helping raise money for the DNC for downballot races.
“What isn’t “normal” is that so many young, passionate people are engaged – many for their first time. I would posit, much more so than even Obama attracted. That is fabulous. Unfortunately for them, the real world of politics, whether they like it or not, whether it’s right or not, is an institution and, as such, has features that are necessary and repugnant. Sanders supporters have a combination of passion and political naivete and exceptionally high expectations.”
This is precisely the problem. I would also add that the under 30s have all grown up with the internet and social media playing a major role in their information gathering.
I’m beginning to think that you can’t run a 20th century campaign to these voters. Consistency of message and coherency of ideology is essential. Most, if not all, politicians do modify their message and their positions with different crowds. This is normal – it’s either not reported at all or it’s simply mentioned as a candidate tacking right or left. This is how it always has been done. The internet age is making this impossible – every little shift you make gets called out and you get skewered for it on social media. Everything you’ve said in the past is fair game. Case in point – the Clinton turning into Sanders meme.
Sanders clicks with these voters while Clinton does not precisely because of the internet. This is the same reason Ron Paul was an internet sensation in 2012. As I mentioned earlier, looking back at videos on Sanders from the 90s and 2000s gives you essentially the same person he is today – and that absolute consistency is precisely why he’s managing to pull in young (and old) idealists.
This has plenty of implications. Traditional wisdom held that you propounded that you held proper right or left wing positions in the primary and then tacked to the center in the general. But you can’t do that with the internet generation without massively unfavorable trustworthiness ratings and 80-20 losses. Everything is visible and everything counts and there is no longer a media narrative that you can rely on.
On the GOP side, you can point to Fox and right wing media and say they primed people for Trump. The question everyone should be asking on the left is why isn’t Clinton steamrolling this old white guy.
Remember that the silent majority of the country is the 40% who don’t vote in general elections, and remember that the people who win elections are usually independents – especially in the polarized and highly partisan system today. The DNC should be taking notes, and working out how to keep all those voters within the Democratic fold, but I don’t think they are, unfortunately, I am beginning to think that a lot of the fresh support that Sanders has brought into the Dem fold are being dismissed, like you just did as “young idealists”. It is true – but it being true doesn’t make it any better for the Dems. They are assuming they’ll all just stay and vote out of fear of the other side. I’m not sure they will and that worries me. The DNC should totally focus on appearing clean and transparent – and publicizing everything they do. There’s a trust gap between the average Sanders voter and the DNC which could soon be a problem.
What did Clinton do wrong with the under 30s? She could have been the proud, consistent, moderate Democrat explaining why her stances are better (and she could have – Sanders is a bit too left wing for many people, including myself) but she tried the traditional politician move of moving to the left – and social media skewered her for it, and spawned a hashtag along the way. Then her campaign tried the sexist thing or even the most recent ” where was Sanders in 1994 when I was fighting for healthcare?”. The last one was particularly egregious because the internet provided an answer, complete with video in minutes – and was then rapidly shared all over the place and was a clear demonstration of something that would have worked brilliantly in 10 years ago completely backfiring.
The caveat is that it only backfires with people who get a lot of their info from social media and the like – and apparently that’s about 80% of under 30 Dems.
This whole Dem nomination cycle is such an absurdly straightforward demonstration of the rapidly changing face of politics and about the massive division of voter priorities and perceptions across generations and most importantly, a massive opportunity for the future that I find it incredible that no one is taking about it – much less doing something about it.
PS. I’m not trying to convince you to vote one way or the other. I’m simply rambling on about what I’m seeing after following the Sanders campaign and its supporters closely for months. As lifer put it a little while ago, the political establishment, black churches, Union leadership and MSM have barely held this tide this year. My question is, what happens tomorrow?
I am sorry if my comments came off as condescending. I admire the millennials for their passion, enthusiasm and hard work and deeply believe they are our future. (My millennial son is working LA on the web for Sanders and is pumped about what he stands for.) All of us at some point in our lives have been idealistic about something that was vitally important to us. I don’t see idealism as a “bad” thing, but it is better if it is tempered with reason. And, you are correct, the real story is how technology is changing the political process in ways that will radically change how candidates communicate with their base. Heck, expensive campaigns may yield to email, posts and tweets which cost nothing except time! Take that, Citizens United! Savvy politicians and their handlers understand this but the rest are still working within the rules they know. Clinton falls into this group. Sanders represents the twitter/facebook/etc base who communicate in a whole different way. We ignore this new dynamic at our peril. At this moment in time, I think we are in transition in our political campaign process, and it will be interesting to see which candidates come out on top. It may well be that Sanders wins and ushers in a completely different communication model or that Clinton wins and serves as a bridge to the new model that is not quite ready for the big leagues. We will probably get an inkling of this tomorrow in the Super Tuesday results.
We keep looking at this 2016 election as a time when working class populism surged. Maybe we need to consider that something else is going on – a fundamental change in how campaigns will work in the technology age. It’s different, that’s for sure.
I just want to clarify that I do NOT consider your comments condescending. I get it. That’s how politics works
But it’s not people like me who the Dems should be worried about. I’m simply laying out how a lot of Sanders people are perceiving things. And it infuriates them. The Dems will not win them over by just crushing their hopes and idealism – and the fact that the proportion of registered independents is rapidly rising should terrify both parties.
Population management through conscious, responsible birth control is so obvious one wonders how anyone could fail to support it. This new era will require a smaller number of humans to make the world run just as lives are becoming longer and healthier due to medical and scientific advances. It will be interesting to see if beliefs regarding family planning will evolve responsibly.
Presumptive is that higher income over fewer work years will become the standard. For the majority, or a lucky few? Will there be more poor? More wealthy? A smaller middle class? Will the income divide continue to expand between classes of people? There must be planning to transition to this new jobs era or we will once again leave vast numbers of people behind. What are your thoughts about this? More targeted, different kinds of educational opportunities? Other options?
One critical aspect of a shortened work career will be the responsibility to manage one’s income wisely. Living on capital is very different than living on earned income. “Things” happen that no one can anticipate. What do you envision happening to the social safety net, Lifer? Do you believe the GBI will supplant it? What happens if it doesn’t?
I look forward to more of your forward thinking posts. My concern is that we as a nation have not demonstrated responsibility or prescience to plan for what lies ahead. We are not learning from past mistakes and many people have been hurt as a result. We know it’s coming – why not plan for it?
I agree with the solution
BUT the problem diagnosis is wrong
We (us here in NZ or you guys) are NOT short of “things that need to be done”
Automation has NOT made people redundant
There are tons of things that need to be done – from infrastructure onwards
Have you looked at a Victorian railway station? – we have a wonderful example in Dunedin
Instead we have – people who want to work – things that need to be done
But no “money” to do them
Think of “money”
I think of it as blood – doesn’t “do anything” but it transfers the necessary materials to the organs that “do things”
Also we get the current problem which is not so much a shortage of blood but that the big toe has grown a huge blood blister and is hogging all of the blood
Don’t get me wrong I really like the solution and it will become necessary in time but just now we need to get the money off the rentier class and back into circulation
Duncan, you have basically diagnosed the problem correctly. And I agree with your assessment that people want to work and there’s no shortage of things that could usefully be done by humans. One of the problems with capitalism is that it really doesn’t have a way to resolve that need. The only thing it seems able to resolve is the search for profits. What Chris is proposing is a solution to at least part of the problem (by supplying money) but it sure isn’t capitalism.
Reminds me of Guns, Germs and Steel except what is described in that book happens over hundreds if not thousands of years. What we are seeing is the same evolution in just a couple generations. Just like compounding interest on a savings account, the science is multiplying and/or compounding at a phenomenal rate.
Exactly. It’s the combination of power and speed that makes this unsettling.
Might I note that even when the transition has encompassed a long period of time, we haven’t properly prepared for it. The speed of this transition is breath-taking and my fear is that we have even less time (and seeming desire) to prepare than we have demonstrated in the past. What have we learned? Why can’t we see what is coming and plan for it?
@1mime: It’s an honest and genuine concern, but frankly there’s no point in worrying about it. What’s worrying going to do? It’s my sincere belief that humans, for better or worse, can adapt to pretty much anything. And while I would certainly never say that that adaptation won’t come without its due consequences, we WILL adapt. The best thing any of us can do is to make our voices heard to stimulate the kind of conversation that will generate the kind of leadership we need to see our way through it.
We need to focus on reforming our politics. That is our first and foremost concern.
The private PIC is not going to like this basic income theory one bit, It would most likely reduce crime rates and that is bad for business.
Excellent piece Chris. I really hope you (and others like you) start to get your ideologies added to the core GOP platform.
I actually think this sort of forward thinking , Civilization 2.0 (or 3.0 or 126.0 or however you want to divide up historical epochs) outlook has a natural home in the Republican Party, as the “Party of Business”. But unfortunately the Party of Business has long ago ceased to be, replaced by the current Party of BusinessMEN, which is often not at all the same thing.
Its starting to look like a civil war will erupt sooner or later in the GOP and the sane Republicans may get a chance to finally influence party policy in a way they haven’t in a very long time.
Would the $15,000 NIT you prescribe in the book be enough for someone to live off though, especially while they’re paying for schooling and rent? Don’t get me wrong it would be a definite improvement but what other new social programs would their be to help this new situation?
This might sound a bit utopian but I’m wondering it technological advancement gets far enough that we all get $50,000 or more every year for the labor machines do, and eventually move on to a post-scarce economy. The trick is distributing the wealth from the machine/capital owners without slowing down innovation or discouraging investment.
Of course at that point we’ll just need a way to starve off boredom. I’m honestly not as worried about that as other people, with enough leisure time people will join clubs/communities for interests they enjoy, or do activities they actually have passion for. Or I wouldn’t be surprisied if people occasionally go “back to school” for a few years every now and then to become even more educated. Schooling starves off boredom while enhancing knowledge for the general population.
$1250 dollars a month without paying income tax is definitively enough to live on if you have some provision for health care. Two people sharing a place who are both earning at that level could live pretty comfortably.
And if earnings displace the NIT on a sliding scale, you’re looking at a situation where you could work fifteen hours a week and live on about $1600 a month. Compared to the economics I was living under after graduating from college, that’s a pretty sweet deal.
Set it up as an adjustable fund, indexed to income tax revenues, and you can see how it could get quite large in time.
Housing is expensive it would take two incomes just to make it affordable.
In the latter portion of the Blair era, Britain ran a welfare state generous enough to give us some hints as to what a Universal Income state might look like. Sadly it wasn’t a utopia.
Firstly, rents shot up. These prices were determined largely by scarcity, and when more people had money there wasn’t magically more land in the country for them all, with the inevitably result that rents simply rose to accommodate it. Far from helping provide for people, it essentially acted as a transfer of tax money to landowners, only briefly touching the bank accounts of the supposed beneficiaries.
In an ideal world this would have been resolved by mass building projects. In the real world it resulted in landowners benefitting more from the scarcity than from building, with predictable consequences.
Secondly, by putting cash into the hands of poor people, a cottage industry of grifters was created. A large slab of the populace now had enough money to be worth scamming but not enough to be able to hire lawyers to contest that scam. While big-headline things like PPI mis-selling made the newspapers, the majority of such grifters were smaller operations, often flying under the radar of a slow-to-respond regulatory system.
Tragically, this meant that Britain’s glimpse of what a universal income might have looked like made it worse for many people, rather than better.
The solutions to these issues were found to be government-led mass building campaigns and onerous regulation of small business, neither of which were implemented due to their political ickyness. I suspect that you will agree that these are not things you would lightly wish into being.
In short, this is a hard problem and one which needs to be considered in terms of its consequences rather than just its feasibility.
EJ – You mention problems that occurred to me when thinking about this UBI thing. First is the possibility of prices of rising in very specific circumstances, Secondly, grifters taking advantage of the disadvantaged. I was wondering if you could give us some info on the programs and whether they were replaced and with what? What is the situation now in the UK? If it is too much to explain in a comment format, maybe some links.
Hi unarmedamdunafraid, I’m not a policy expert but I’ll do my best.
On the end of the system:
When David Cameron won the election, it was on a platform of (amongst other things) reforming the welfare state. While I felt this was a good aim even, it quickly became apparent that “reform” was being used as a euphemism for “reduce.”
The system is still in place (that is, poor people still receive cash payments and there is subsidised healthcare and limited public housing) but with two main changes and a rumoured third.
Firstly, under the old system people received money for housing as a separate sum; this enabled authorities to raise or lower this sum to track the price of rent in an area. This was a terrible system because it meant that there was no incentive for any landlord to charge less than their local maximum allowed payment, and no incentive for competition amongst landlords. This terrible system was replaced by one in which a single merged payment was made (for both rent and other expenses) and the citizen was allowed to keep anything they saved on the rent; however the amount was also severely reduced, to the point where rent simply became unaffordable. For those not lucky enough to make it into the limited stock of subsidised public housing, this is a terrible thing. Citizens are now facing being driven out of mixed-income urban areas and into depressed regions where work is scarce.
There is now talk of a mass sell-off of subsidised housing. I would love to think of this as something other than ideological slash and burn, but… yeah. Sometimes thinking charitably only goes so far.
Secondly, administration of Britain’s welfare state has increasingly been handed over to outsource companies who have been set targets for the number of people they have to get off welfare. Over the course many scandals, it has emerged that these companies have found it easier to get people off welfare by withdrawing support from those who need it than by helping people into work; at times this has included intimidating the elderly, falsely certifying the ill as well, and intentionally losing large numbers of records.
Given the hostility of certain members of government to the concept of a welfare state (coughIainDuncanSmithcough) it has been suggested that this is either deliberate or is the result of a tacit understanding. Having worked with outsource companies, I would suggest that it’s simply the usual breathtaking incompetence.
On the subject of grifters:
When I say “nothing has been done”, please understand the context of this remark. In general, Britain is quite hostile to regulation and especially to consumer protection. Instead, this country has historically promoted industry self-regulation via voluntary codes of conduct or by ombudsman schemes. These… look, they might work in your country. I’m not saying that they won’t. Here, though, they are a mechanism which exists to put a PR cloak over the misdeeds of big companies (since those big companies run the industry bodies) while doing nothing effective to stop small actors carrying out pretty much open banditry (since these small people often don’t sign up to codes of conduct or move too quickly to be held down by them.)
All that said: nothing has been done. In some industries like real estate or legal claims management, there are so many con artists that the few honest people have been virtually crowded out by Darwinian competition. Even formerly reputable companies are now finding it necessary to act as shells for banditry in order to get in on the action.
Recently, the grifters have suffered heavily from cutbacks to the welfare state, since it reduces the amount available for them to steal. The world’s smallest violinist might have a new gig.
Lemme see if I can get you some links to people who know more than I do.
Sounds about right
To give a different but similar perspective (from the antipodes) we have “benefit fraud” – naughty naughty!
When you actually look at it 90+% of the time “Benefit Fraud” is not telling the Work & Income department about your boy/girl friend – or about a change in the circumstances of said boy/girl friend
The sooner we get something like a UBI so that people can live in private the better
EJ – Thanks for the well written reply. Plenty there to think about.
Griffin, the missing piece to the puzzle is affordable, quality health care. In a fast paced society like Lifer is describing, time is of essence. Miss time due to illness and you’re in trouble. Incur huge costs (or any costs if you’re living on limited income) due to an unexpected illness or accident and it will eat up any GBI absent the health safety net. I don’t see how it will succeed absent the health component.
If machines were able to replace most labor and in turn most labor were to stop reproducing we could and likely would be on a path to a balanced world. The biggest reason there is such wealth disparity certainly to the extent where people actually starve is overpopulation. However so long as religious belief holds sway over reason, thoughts such as this will never be considered, let alone adopted
The only real hope we have is that reason may prevail before we destroy our world through overpopulation.
Birth control is far less costly than military control.
We’re already there. Peak human population looms at about 9bn somewhere around 2050. Fertility is declining steeply in every industrialized country. China begins to experience absolute decline in population by 2020. Germany and Japan have already started. US is staving off population decline only through immigration. Fertility rates declining everywhere except a few corners of Africa and Haiti.
A good book to read is Demographic Winter. It outlines some of the reasons for populations declining. Your world of most of us living off of capital is coming just in time. But we have a messy political evolution to go through first before wealth (capital) which actually has been accumulating for generations through our ancestors work is universally shared.
“The biggest reason there is such wealth disparity certainly to the extent where people actually starve is overpopulation.”
I would disagree with this point. We ALREADY produce more then enough food as a species to feed more then 10 billion ppl, and yet we still cannot feed ourselves. To me, this strongly implies that the culprit is not lack of resources, but inefficient resource distribution as well as institutionalised artificial “shortages”, which is a product of a dysfunctional globalized system.
How bizarre would that look to an advanced alien race who landed here and saw that we have more then enough resources to take care of everyone, and yet we still have millions of humans constantly at risk of death for lack of basic necessities like food and clean water.
I’m sure there are many different factors and dynamics at plat, but overpopulation is not one of them.
Imagine you distilled the entire human race into a large (by modern standards) family of, say, 9 or 10 kids. Let’s say the parents bough 2 or 3 of those Lamborghinis, boats, vacations, and sent them to Harvard University. They also have several million invested in the stock market.
And they also have 2 or 3 kids who live in an unheated shed in the backyard, have to panhandle to buy their own food, and generally are constantly on the verge of death from starvation.
I think a reasonable person would conclude that there is something very wrong with this family. But I don’t think anybody would come to the conclusion that the problem is a lack of resources or too many kids.
Rob, I agree that population control is generally not a problem for educated, middle to upper income people. It is, however, for those in the poorer class. That is the tragedy of this pillory of PP which directly assists women that most states don’t help adequately and thus these children and the single mom become a tax burden. For these large, poor families, adequate nutrition is a problem.
Mime, don’t get me wrong, there are many many instances of overpopulation at the LOCAL level, the Brazilian favellas, the Indian ghettos and many many other similar sites.
I’m talking about zooming out and looking at the entire breadth of humanity.
We (as a species) have ample food to feed everyone on Earth. We have ample room to house everyone with dignity. We have ample clean water for everyone to drink. We have enough medicine to prevent millions of deaths.
The fact that millions of ppl are dying of thirst, starvation, preventable diseases, overpopulation etc is not a property of a global shortage of ANY of these things, but of a failure to properly distribute these resources.
I appreciated the breadth of your argument Rob, but redistribution is a huge problem that will not get fixed if Repubs remain in power. They don’t want it, don’t like it, and won’t do it. I don’t care if there are ten Trumps running every election. It is antipathy to their basic self-serving philosophy. Gotta change parties; gotta change direction. We agree on that, I know.
BTW, PM Trudeau really was a big hit at the state dinner as was his wife. He impresses me.