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Author Topic: Welfare-State People Sound Off  (Read 8916 times)

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Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

Welfare-State People Sound Off
« on: April 05, 2011, 11:34:08 AM »
My prefered role of government is to take care of everyone meeting their needs this means universally there should be a right to:

1. Housing Based on Need (number of people in the household including chiildren not adults)

2. Adequete Food (cafeteria style, food card or other means to buy food)

3. Education (libraries, k-12 plus post secondary education that is at least affordable)

4. Clothes

5. Health Care

6. Access to Other Essentials to Live at a Basic Level

This paid for by a flat tax on income of 50% since housing, utilities and other things are provided for money would be then for luxuries and things people want. Corporations also need to be taxed but I would set it based on jobs they create and run in the nation and have a "quality of life" tariff for goods imported from nations below a basic standard of living to make importing expensive but in line with UN conventions we are signees on and the declaration of human rights. We can't be faulted for insisting goods imported be from nations properly commited to the welfare of their citizens like in the new enlightened US.

If people are Libtertarians this will free people and give them untold amounts of liberty the freedom to be free from need and focus on what each wants. You want to go to college it would be possible and you could pay off the debt easier with a clear you get half your income to keep, the rest of your needs are met so take 30% of your income to pay off or pay for tuition if you want. Or set-up learning communes and not have tuition. Or go and work as a food server for sixteen hours a week and half the money is yours use your free time as you wish. Or your this odd person with no ambition, care to do odd jobs fir pocket money we will take half of that and go enjoy your life.

Naturally I would refocus the entire government for a security role, an adequete defense from invasion and modest resources elsewhere more money for mass transit and education and less on things not really needed. We could eliminate social security, the VA, medicare and medicaid rolling all this into the assured basic standard of living.

As I see it people would then work to buy things they want or to get extras but not have to work at a job if they opt not to they just will get by very basically a shared dorm with a his and hers communal bathroom area like college at the basic end. And if rich people want to own a 100 bedroom house it will be fine just pay half of all your income a year to the system and the utility costs etc. since its not government supported it should be expensive and a extreme luxury.

And people would freed form unneceesary work adding more jobs since most mundane jobs could be done part-time and freeing people to focus on things they find more important if they choose to. Its likely most will work more than that to get more things over less and the odd workaholic could still be one since things in a residence would be what people bought in the main.

I know its a long shot in hell this would even happen but for me it would be the perfect system and assure more employment since most companies would have to hire more people if fewer opt out of working long schedules.

Offline Xajow

Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2011, 01:55:45 PM »
If people are Libtertarians this will free people
No, it won't. It will make everyone slaves.

Offline Star Safyre

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Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2011, 02:31:42 PM »
And people would freed form unneceesary work adding more jobs since most mundane jobs could be done part-time and freeing people to focus on things they find more important if they choose to. Its likely most will work more than that to get more things over less and the odd workaholic could still be one since things in a residence would be what people bought in the main.

I'm as Socialist as a liberal, government employee can be expected to, and I don't believe in the wildest of my Pinko hearts this could work if only based on this single glitch:  What about those whose single desire is to do absolutely nothing?  So if one does not wish to work, become educated, or otherwise contribute to production, one contributes nothing and gains everything under your suggested system.

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I know its a long shot in hell this would even happen but for me it would be the perfect system and assure more employment since most companies would have to hire more people if fewer opt out of working long schedules.

There's as many possible economic systems as their are individuals.  As you've conceded that this system is unlikely and would be perfect for you, I'm curious as to why you've chosen to share it.

Offline Noelle

Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2011, 09:08:30 PM »
There's a big, glaring flaw in your work plan. Who actually wants to be a sanitation worker? Who wants to scoop elephant crap or bathe old people or artificially inseminate cattle? There would be a massive shortage of people to fill crap jobs because they're too busy painting watercolors with their feet or pursuing their dream of pumping out as many children as possible to form their own family baseball team or whatever it is people do.

Why should people who actively choose not to work be entitled to a share of my income when I do have a job? How exactly would this system be sustainable if nobody's obligated to contribute back? What incentive is there to work and provide needed services? I am all for having an ample safety net to provide modest means for those who are struggling, but this goes beyond safety net and starts bordering on rewarding people for essentially doing nothing and making people who actually pull their weight support them in that.

This is...not really freedom at all. This is kind of obviously biased against people with higher incomes and makes it difficult for those who want higher incomes to move up -- what about their freedom? Do they not matter? What incentive do they have to keep working? What incentive do they have to even keep living in the US and perpetuating a system that rewards laziness when they can just pack up and take their money elsewhere?

Pure capitalism is dangerous -- but so is pure socialism.

Offline Jude

Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2011, 09:27:35 PM »
Adding onto Noelle's point, only two types of people would work in this system:

1)  Those who want more than the basic government provided welfare state gives.

2)  Those who are ambitious in life and cannot stand not to work.

The latter type of person is fairly rare, especially after 40, and typically these people are only driven as long as they can work in a field that is fulfilling in other ways (creatively, emotionally, or intellectually).  So that leaves us with a whole lot of jobs that aren't fulfilling and people who want more than the baseline to do these jobs.

Not only would the system suffer from inflation of the price of labor at entry level positions, but each and every person who chooses not to work at all would be living off of the backs of those who do work.  There are probably enough resources to provide everyone in the country with a reasonable standard of living if we all worked, but each person who chooses not to work takes away from the collective welfare and limits the government's ability to do even that.  What you end up with is a system that is punitive towards higher income workers and doesn't help the little man much because the government can't provide for them anyway unless they collectively work (because money alone doesn't drive the economy, you need the laborers producing the goods for them to be provided to begin with).

There would either be an economic implosion (highly likely) because the state won't be able to keep up with its promises or wages would flatten across the board and people would gravitate towards easy, unskilled labor.  In the end things would be worse off than they are now for majority of people.

Two types of people would benefit from this (and these are distinct groups, I am not conflating the two):  the lazy and the downtrodden (those who are handicapped, disadvantaged, or otherwise find themselves in unfortunate circumstances).  Given how few of Americans are actually in the latter group, you'd do more harm than good.  Eventually, if we become technological enough, this system probably will be viable.  But we'll need to automate the means of production with such efficiency and cost-effectiveness that human labor will not be an issue in providing.

I mean no offense when I say this, but your system seems to reflect a lack of basic knowledge of the fundamental problem that economics exists to solve:  scarcity.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2011, 01:30:06 AM »
I mean no offense when I say this, but your system seems to reflect a lack of basic knowledge of the fundamental problem that economics exists to solve:  scarcity.

Scarcity of what, exactly?

There are more homes in this country than there are families. So it can't be scarcity of housing. The main problem here is determining and encouraging ownership, and good management of said ownership. That's not an easy problem to solve, but Ruby's flaw in this part is not actually about scarcity.

America is in one of the few enviable positions of actually producing -too much- food, and a well-designed rationing system + pay for more could be a powerful way to combat obesity.. So it can't be scarcity of food. Just require that it's grown and produced in America.

The same for clothing - it's not like we'd be paying for designer clothing. Again, just require that it's produced in America.

Our non-public health care system is actually an economic and medical drain, so it can't be for scarcity of health care.

We already have a public education system. Extending it to two years of post-secondary school (which seems to be optimal) would not exactly cripple. Especially if we got more open sourced texts and funded those, instead of paying the thieves currently printing educational materials.

So let's see, other essentials.

Water is actually technically rationed anyway, but making that more formal wouldn't change anything.

- Internet connection and cell phone. Rather than have a tax for this, seize the profits from the obvious price fixing schemes going on and use the funds to make sure that every American can have a phone number and an e-mail address if they wish one.



Save for housing, education and health care, everything on Ruby's list amounts to about $2k per person per year, and that's being far too generous. Assuming health care costs of about $4k per person per year (roughly what insurance companies in the US pay). Fifteen years of education (K-12+2) is about $300k (varies), assuming 50 years of labor after that, an average of another $5k per person.

These are all roughly high estimates. Also, guaranteeing liquidity for basic needs will itself improve the economy.

Everything Ruby wants to do, save housing, could be paid for with a 10% tax. This is because we already pay for most of it (one way or another, i.e. for healthcare), already, but still.

I do think making sure people have an address is important, because it's often a precondition for employment. That sort of situation is a horrific catch-22 and needs to be addressed. Even if it means giving people coffin cells to sleep and use the Internet in, with communal showers and whatnot available, along with a requisite that if you use it, you either pay for it or accept the sorts of jobs people don't want.

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Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2011, 05:00:46 AM »
Scarcity of what, exactly?

Scarcity in economic terms doesn't mean the same thing as we usually use the term.  Economically, scarcity is the concept that human desire to consume goods and services are limitless but tangible goods can only exist in limited amounts.  There may be a surplus in certain goods right now, which only means that there are more goods than customers can afford or are willing to purchase.

Given that, this statement:

1)  Those who want more than the basic government provided welfare state gives.

is entirely true and value statement. 

Offline Vekseid

Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2011, 06:55:06 AM »
Scarcity in economic terms doesn't mean the same thing as we usually use the term.  Economically, scarcity is the concept that human desire to consume goods and services are limitless but tangible goods can only exist in limited amounts.  There may be a surplus in certain goods right now, which only means that there are more goods than customers can afford or are willing to purchase.

You send me to Wikipedia, and even Wikipedia points out that yes, some goods can, in fact, be relatively abundant. I am not ignorant of basic economic terms or concepts, if you've paid any attention to my posts in this forum at all.

I did not ask what scarcity was, I asked what was, in fact, genuinely scarce enough to physically prevent Ruby's dream from coming to fruition. It's especially relevant, considering that we do most of it anyway, save for housing. And even then, there are enough homes in the United States to house each and every family. With enough left over to give some families two homes. This is to say nothing of apartment buildings, condos, etc.

There is enough food grown in the country to feed each and every family, with enough left over to feed a significant chunk of the planet. Removing the stigma of food stamps and just give everyone a $100/month voucher for US-provided food would not exactly break anything. $400 billion per year -> but it gets directly channeled into the agricultural economy. Not a bad deal at all. Even better, this could be used to encourage shopping at local markets.

We already provide health care to the majority of the population, with the US government being the largest insurer, and other nations prove that doing it universally is actually cheaper. You cut out the obscene profits of health insurers, the costs due to medicare underpayment (generally because of the excessive amounts of tests run), the costs due to lack of preventative care (something like fifty billion for diabetes alone), this isn't a bad deal either.

Clothing - same deal. Give a $300/year credit for American-made clothing. This also gets channeled directly into the economy, the money doesn't just vanish as with wartime funding.

We already provide compulsory education to the majority of the population. Most of this is absorbed in property taxes, but this makes the quality of education wildly varying.

There's really, very little wrong with Ruby's suggestion, outside of housing - and even then the problem is not exactly the scarcity of housing itself. Most of the rest is either already implemented, or is in fact implemented for the poorest classes of the population (hell, even housing is). It's just not implemented well, and the hoops you have to go through are atrocious.

Given that, it's important to recognize what Ruby's suggestion - for the pittance of its real cost provides. Security and stability.

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Given that, this statement:

is entirely true and value statement.

That is basically how socialist societies function. Some of these happen to have the highest standard of living in the world. I'm not really sure what you are getting at.

By all means, make sure that the 'free' benefits people get are just meager enough that they can be secure but not enough to satisfy.

Housing is a bit of a thorny issue. You want to encourage ownership, because otherwise people tend to take piss-poor care of said property. But it should be possible to make sure that people can get showers, have an address where they can pick up mail, have a cell phone so they have a phone number, have Internet access, a safe place to sleep, etc. even without 'housing' in the traditional sense.

Offline Noelle

Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2011, 07:30:14 AM »
Nobody is claiming it's scarce now. But who is going to work the jobs to provide those things if the incentives to work are practically nonexistent? 16 hours of labor a week by someone who just kind of wants to be working the job isn't enough to meet demand for even the basics. Who wants to work in a factory when they could be chasing their dream of playing the banjo? Who's going to educate the next generation if work is optional and the tax on those who do work is 50%? And even if they do teach, how is 16 hours a week sufficient to accomplish anything in any career?

Offline Jude

Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2011, 08:02:18 AM »
We'll need more workers than ever in all sorts of basic service industries if we provided those things.  Plumbers to maintain the piping in these houses, government bureaucrats to oversea the dispersing of all of these amenities, doctors and nurses to help with the new patient load, people to do hard manual labor on the farms, truck drivers to transport all of the newly consumed goods (not to mention gas to fuel the transit), factory workers to make the clothing and medicine, so on and so forth.  Upping the need for basic labor force while at the same time reducing the incentives for working (by making it not necessary for basic survival) is a recipe for famine in the long-term.

In order for it to work we'd have to be able to raise the standard of living of the majority of the country.  It wouldn't matter if you were working poor, a welfare queen, or struggling middle class, society would have to give you more than you already have in order for this system to be at all sustainable.  There may be money for this on paper, but I highly doubt we have the labor for it.

You may think, "That CEO makes 3 million a year.  If he gave 2 million of it to charity in a month we'd be able to provide for 50 families."  It seems to work out, 2 million divided by 50 is about 40,000.  However, this assumes that simply because the money would then be available the goods and services would be as well.  In reality, if we started a grand program like this the skyrocketing demand for all of these goods and services would increase their value exponentially.  Going by today's standard we can probably afford this, but the question is for how long and after the shift in the economy we would cause, would it really be a viable program?

Now, I'm not skeptical about our ability to provide all of these things.  The whole food thing isn't terribly shocking, as you've said we basically already provide that.  Housing is another story however because you can't just provide someone with a framework of wood, electrical wiring, bricks, and carpeting and viola.  Houses require a ridiculous amount of resources to maintain, especially if we're trying to keep the property intact and the people in them above the poverty line.

And the more you pile on in terms of rights the more expensive it gets.  Internet?  I guess everyone needs a computer.  Then they need electricity for it, the physical infrastructure, we'll have to beef up our national network to compensate for the additional traffic, provide education on how to use it for the computer illiterate, and tech support for the vast majority of people.  Cell phones are a whole other nightmare.

I think it's fairly non-controversial to say that if we give people too much for doing nothing not enough people will work in order to sustain the burden.  I will admit that how much is too much is a question that is horrifically complicated and would require such nuanced knowledge in order to draw the exact line.  I am not qualified to make this determination.  I do however think that if you provide people everything that they need to survive you're giving too them too much.  I simply can't wrap my head around why people in dead-end careers would continue to work at all in this system.

Why not work, save up a bit of cash for leisure, then return early and then live under mommy & daddy government's roof until the day you die?  If you like to read, just live in your government provided house, eat your government provided food, and go to the library to check out government provided books.  Or better yet:  spend all day on the internet doing nothing while those who are stupid enough to work foot the bill for literally everything you do.

After all, who needs a job when you've got flash games, porn, and wikipedia.

EDIT:  And none of this speaks to the incompetence of organization bureaucracy.  I just don't have faith in a government that can't even manage to solve problems in a capitalist framework for the fortunate (ignoring the lower 10% of the population's struggles) to do the same for damn near everyone.

Reminds me of something my dad once said:  every time I go to the DMV I'm reminded of why socialism will never work.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2011, 08:06:33 AM by Jude »

Offline Serephino

Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2011, 09:15:42 AM »
Socialism can be good, to a point.  I am very much against providing for people who are just plain lazy, but there are many people out there who aren't lazy, they just have the odds stacked against them.  If you become homeless for some reason, the chances of you getting a job drop dramatically because you don't have an address or a phone number.  That isn't fair to those who do want to work.  In that case, providing, say, temporary housing for those actively looking for a job would be a benefit.

I'm also in support of government run healthcare.  In this modern age, this should be a right.  And I think this would benefit the nation because aren't healthy people generally more productive?  Hell, if I would have had access to proper care a long time ago, I might have been able to work. 


Offline Vekseid

Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2011, 09:19:16 AM »
Nobody is claiming it's scarce now. But who is going to work the jobs to provide those things if the incentives to work are practically nonexistent? 16 hours of labor a week by someone who just kind of wants to be working the job isn't enough to meet demand for even the basics. Who wants to work in a factory when they could be chasing their dream of playing the banjo? Who's going to educate the next generation if work is optional and the tax on those who do work is 50%? And even if they do teach, how is 16 hours a week sufficient to accomplish anything in any career?

I already mentioned that the tax for everything Ruby wants, save housing, is 10%. Not 50%.

The mean wage is $100k per year, roughly. The sum total of all of the benefits Ruby is requesting, save housing, is $10k per year, roughly. There are genuine issues regarding ownership and responsibility when it comes to housing - but the rest of it is a pittance.

Keep in mind, we already provide everything in Ruby's list to the nation's poorest. Everything. Free cell phones. Free health care. Extremely cheap housing (for as little as $5 a month). Free clothes. Free food. Free books. Free Internet access.

There is no vehicle in Ruby's list. You want a car? You want fuel for it? You need to work for it. We could probably provide a free bicycle though.

There is no dining out in Ruby's list. No entertainment budget. No social budget. I find the claim that people in general would be content to sit and rot to be rather specious.

The only reason for hiking taxes to 50% would be to pay down the debt, really. And when that's done they can go back to 30% or so (defense + social security + other general government functions).

We'll need more workers than ever in all sorts of basic service industries if we provided those things.  Plumbers to maintain the piping in these houses,

No we wouldn't, the houses already exist.

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government bureaucrats to oversea the dispersing of all of these amenities,

Why? Just attach the clothing and food vouchers to your state ID. The free cell phone program already exists.

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doctors and nurses to help with the new patient load,

We need more general practitioners and fewer specialists. This is a function of the way our health care system is currently broken, not an actual shortage of medical specialization.

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people to do hard manual labor on the farms,

Hardly, this would just replace food stamps, and gut some of the bureaucracy.

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truck drivers to transport all of the newly consumed goods (not to mention gas to fuel the transit),

Like what, twenty? A hundred? Again, for the millionth time, these programs already exist for the poor.

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factory workers to make the clothing

Yeah, more work for Americans, that's -such- a problem.

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and medicine,

Somehow I don't think a 25% increase in demand is going to break the Pharma industry.

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so on and so forth.  Upping the need for basic labor force while at the same time reducing the incentives for working (by making it not necessary for basic survival) is a recipe for famine in the long-term.

Name one famine the United States has undergone since the introduction of food stamps in 1939.

Name one nation whose universal health care system has collapsed it.

Name one nation whose universal education system has collapsed it.

Do homeless shelters encourage homelessness?

The rest of the goods are trivial in comparison - the idea is to make sure people have phone numbers, an address, and an e-mail address, because employment often requires these things.

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In order for it to work we'd have to be able to raise the standard of living of the majority of the country.  It wouldn't matter if you were working poor, a welfare queen, or struggling middle class, society would have to give you more than you already have in order for this system to be at all sustainable.  There may be money for this on paper, but I highly doubt we have the labor for it.

There is money for it in reality, because, you know, we already do it.

I've mentioned this before, but part of the problem with many forms assistance for the poor is that they do in fact work, and actually make too much in order to get the benefits. Ruby's solution gives no additional benefit to those who actually refuse to work most of the time - they already get it all. It's the people who make more than $10k a year (roughly) who get screwed. You can't live on that - but you don't get the free health care, cheap housing, etc.

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You may think, "That CEO makes 3 million a year.  If he gave 2 million of it to charity in a month we'd be able to provide for 50 families."  It seems to work out, 2 million divided by 50 is about 40,000.  However, this assumes that simply because the money would then be available the goods and services would be as well.  In reality, if we started a grand program like this the skyrocketing demand for all of these goods and services would increase their value exponentially.  Going by today's standard we can probably afford this, but the question is for how long and after the shift in the economy we would cause, would it really be a viable program?

Your argument only holds for goods that don't already have a comparable amount of demand already. Cell phones, clothing, and food may increase slightly in demand, but for the most part, it won't increase too much, because nearly the entire population already has these things.

Similarly, sometimes providing a good universally can actually reduce the overall cost. When I went to ER for my hernia, I took up the time of a lot of good doctors, whereas a general checkup would have sufficed if I had gotten it checked earlier, and taken up the time of all of one doctor. For a more graphic example, one member here spend five days in an ICU because she could not afford $100 for antibiotics for an infection. Another member here has spent three years in chemotherapy, for want of surgery when the first symptoms of cancer appeared.

We -all- pay for that.

This is to say nothing of the cost of rescission workers and the medical staff time they take up, the cost of bankruptcies - not just for the people going through them but the hospitals stuck with the costs. The cost of frivolous testing - not just in terms of the expense in medicare but, you know, the woman in my signature would be alive today if her overworked doctors didn't miss it.

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Now, I'm not skeptical about our ability to provide all of these things.  The whole food thing isn't terribly shocking, as you've said we basically already provide that.  Housing is another story however because you can't just provide someone with a framework of wood, electrical wiring, bricks, and carpeting and viola.  Houses require a ridiculous amount of resources to maintain, especially if we're trying to keep the property intact and the people in them above the poverty line.

This is actually an argument for providing more housing - seizing unused, run-down homes, and auctioning them off to the impoverished and giving them a voucher to help fix it up. House prices aren't just falling because of the economy. We have two million homeless... and nineteen million empty, unused homes. These aren't homes being rented out or used as vacation homes. They, simply, aren't used.

The issue is you want to make sure the people acquiring a home have a sense of ownership of and responsibility for it. That's non-trivial.

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And the more you pile on in terms of rights the more expensive it gets.  Internet?  I guess everyone needs a computer.  Then they need electricity for it, the physical infrastructure, we'll have to beef up our national network to compensate for the additional traffic, provide education on how to use it for the computer illiterate, and tech support for the vast majority of people.  Cell phones are a whole other nightmare.

Let's see, a typical nettop cheap laptop draws about 40 watts. Not even a kilowatt hour per day if somehow used 24/7.

Compare that to say, heating assistance.

And don't get me started about 'upgrading the national network'. There's a reason why I said we could pull the funds by legally seizing them due to antitrust violations. It is not that expensive.

And we already are providing free cell phones.

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I think it's fairly non-controversial to say that if we give people too much for doing nothing not enough people will work in order to sustain the burden.  I will admit that how much is too much is a question that is horrifically complicated and would require such nuanced knowledge in order to draw the exact line.

It's pretty clear that providing enough food to eat fairly well is not too much.

It's pretty clear that providing a cell phone with limited minutes is not too much.

It's pretty clear that providing housing assistance is not too much. This includes utility assistance programs.

It's pretty clear that providing clothing assistance is not too much.

It's pretty clear that providing education is not too much.

It's pretty clear that providing universal health care is not too much.

The only thing that remains, from Ruby's argument, is actually providing the housing directly and not just assistance (because $5 per month is apparently too much for some people, and they will bitch and holler about paying even that, according to one friend who's worked in low income housing).

There probably is a point where you have to identify and prune outright leaches, and maybe something like that will suffice.

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I am not qualified to make this determination.  I do however think that if you provide people everything that they need to survive you're giving too them too much.  I simply can't wrap my head around why people in dead-end careers would continue to work at all in this system.

Because they'd work on something else. And those dead-end careers would either evolve into non-dead-end careers, or get replaced in some manner. I think you have a bit of a static conception of the status quo.

Take, for example, what broke the Soviet Union. It took more than just the general inefficiency of a planned economy. They actually had to be goaded into overinvesting into heavy industry, which actively took away from less glamorous but no less critical industries.

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Why not work, save up a bit of cash for leisure, then return early and then live under mommy & daddy government's roof until the day you die?

Inflation. To say nothing of - isn't this what happens anyway?

Regardless, I don't have a single grandparent that hasn't done some form of productive labor since retiring. I don't think I'm alone, by a long shot, in that department.

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  If you like to read, just live in your government provided house, eat your government provided food, and go to the library to check out government provided books.  Or better yet:  spend all day on the internet doing nothing while those who are stupid enough to work foot the bill for literally everything you do.

The thing is, people can already do this. Oddly enough, it only really gets bad when there is actually no work available - during the Great Depression and to a lesser extent now. Part of the idea is making sure the labor is available.

It's like asking why do government workers who know they can't be fired still work? Some certainly don't, but the majority, in fact, do.

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After all, who needs a job when you've got flash games, porn, and wikipedia.

EDIT:  And none of this speaks to the incompetence of organization bureaucracy.  I just don't have faith in a government that can't even manage to solve problems in a capitalist framework for the fortunate (ignoring the lower 10% of the population's struggles) to do the same for damn near everyone.

Reminds me of something my dad once said:  every time I go to the DMV I'm reminded of why socialism will never work.

Yet no private enterprise has created a network to rival the Internet. Despite trying. Repeatedly. Don't know about where you live but the DMV up here tends to be pretty efficient compared to say, my bank.

Regardless, a part of the reason I think that, save for housing, Ruby's ideas are good is that they remove a lot of bureaucracy from the programs they're replacing. No approval process, you get a couple of vouchers attached to your state ID. Simple and elegant. If you don't get food stamps normally, you can either use it to supplement your income, or if you're feeling particularly generous just forget about using it. Same with the clothing voucher.

And there's nothing like removing the 'you must make less than $10k per year to get free health care' bullshit. The opposition to universal healthcare is -not- about providing it to the homeless. They already get care. The opposition to universal healthcare is about preventing the working poor and self employed from getting health care.

Offline Noelle

Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2011, 05:45:22 PM »
I already mentioned that the tax for everything Ruby wants, save housing, is 10%. Not 50%.

We're going off of her model. My critique is of her model. She wants a 50% flat tax implemented, which means it doesn't matter if my job pays 30k or 300k, half of it gets shipped off to support people who aren't under any pressure to contribute anything back.

Quote
Keep in mind, we already provide everything in Ruby's list to the nation's poorest. Everything. Free cell phones. Free health care. Extremely cheap housing (for as little as $5 a month). Free clothes. Free food. Free books. Free Internet access.

This is misleading. We have a limited budget for all of those things, meaning not everyone is provided for and even if every single poor person applied for those programs, not all of them would be accepted into the program, and that's if the program is available in said poor person's area. There is scarcity not only in terms of the availability of said programs, but the funds we have to spend on the nation's poorest and even that is coming under fire due to budget concerns -- and that's without a no-obligation work policy. Good luck scraping that up when even more people decide to hop off the full-time work wagon.

Quote
There is no vehicle in Ruby's list. You want a car? You want fuel for it? You need to work for it. We could probably provide a free bicycle though.

Poor people already have programs that try to get them access to cars because mobility is essential to getting a job, especially for those in areas without public transportation and those living in rural areas. A bike alone isn't going to cut it unless you want to push those people into a catch-22 of "I need a car to get a job" and "I need a job to get a car". This is inconsistent with the rest of her policies.

Quote
There is no dining out in Ruby's list. No entertainment budget. No social budget. I find the claim that people in general would be content to sit and rot to be rather specious.

I can go to the movies, eat out, and get sufficiently drunk on a part-time budget, so why wouldn't I? 16 hours a week is pretty cushy, if you ask me, especially if all of my other expenses are paid for and I can basically quit and not have a shred of worry about what to do between jobs.

Quote
The only reason for hiking taxes to 50% would be to pay down the debt, really. And when that's done they can go back to 30% or so (defense + social security + other general government functions).

Milking the rich like a cow whenever you're hard-up for cash is like having a friend that only calls you when they want something. How long do those friends want to stick around and help you, exactly? Holding the rich accountable and taxing them fairly along with the others is one thing, but jacking up the tax whenever you feel like it while providing them with little to no incentive to continue to do their work is a pretty shitty deal. Why would they stick around in this country? We would lose our competitive edge over other nations in a hurry -- just look at how hard it is to keep companies in our borders now. Starting up your own business would basically be a joke.

You go on later about how providing cell phones, cars, housing, etc. is "not too much", but that's in a society that expects people who are capable to work to do so. I would totally agree with that sentiment if you were applying it to society as it is today because I think helping people get on their feet and be more competitive in the job market is a good thing and access to those tools helps people become productive citizens. Under Ruby's stated plan, nobody of any age or capability is required to do anything and they still get to reap the benefits of those who do, all while providing frankly awful incentives for anyone to actually work. Why do you need a cell phone if you're not working? That's extraneous. Why do you need access to the internet if you're not planning on doing anything on track to getting a job and contributing back? Technology becomes nothing more than a gateway to leisure activities if you're not actually using it to better the society you live in and I don't really feel like busting my ass at my job and watching half my wages get sucked out to let someone else do absolutely nothing for the country. If you want leisure, you pay for it. That's why we don't have programs in America to send the poor to Disneyland. It's extraneous.

Again, who is going to volunteer to take a job wiping asses at the hospital if they don't actually have to? Who is going to take a career cleaning houses when they know they can pursue literally anything else they want and be supported by the government during the interim while they don't have a job?

This whole plan treats having a job like jobs are an optional add-on in the game of life or like people who choose to work do it because they love what they do. It sucks, but not everyone can do exactly what they want to be doing because someone still needs to handle our garbage and filter the piss out of our water and cleaning up vomit out of urinals. Who wouldn't rather just float by on the system until they get a better job offer rather than do any of those things?
« Last Edit: April 06, 2011, 06:58:40 PM by Noelle »

Offline Star Safyre

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Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2011, 05:59:30 PM »
You send me to Wikipedia, and even Wikipedia points out that yes, some goods can, in fact, be relatively abundant. I am not ignorant of basic economic terms or concepts, if you've paid any attention to my posts in this forum at all.


I did not ask what scarcity was, I asked what was, in fact, genuinely scarce enough to physically prevent Ruby's dream from coming to fruition. It's especially relevant, considering that we do most of it anyway, save for housing.

My intention was to lay a semantic groundwork to ensure the term was being used in its technical definition.  You asked "Scarcity of what, exactly?"  My answer was, by the technical definition, everything.  Current abundance has nothing to do with the possibility of a long-term, far-reaching and drastic change in an economic system, as other members have argued here.  Goods decay.  Skilled workers die.  Stating that this system would work because of the surpluses created by the current system is no guarantee that those goods and services will continue to be abundant in their current quantities long after the new system is in place.

For many years I lived under free housing, eating free meals, having free medical care, free clothing, free education, and free phone and internet use in exchange for what little work I half-heartedly did between hours of free time exploring my dream career.  I was a child.  If my parents had continued to fund my lifestyle, I would certainly continue living as a child.  If the government offered the same, surely I'd take them up on it, but I know I, along with a few others here who have voiced their like-minded opinions, would certainly not continue to contribute to productivity and society at my current rate.

Offline Silverfyre

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Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2011, 06:02:25 PM »
You send me to Wikipedia, and even Wikipedia points out that yes, some goods can, in fact, be relatively abundant. I am not ignorant of basic economic terms or concepts, if you've paid any attention to my posts in this forum at all.


I do not think she was saying that you were ignorant of what "scarcity" meant, but rather making it a point of relevance so that everyone was on the same page as far as what the economic definition was.  There is no need to get personal and state that she never paid any attention to your posts on this forum when her replies to you have been thorough and tailored to each response. That's nothing less than an assumption and a wrong one at that.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2011, 06:05:01 PM by Silverfyre »

Offline Jude

Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #15 on: April 06, 2011, 06:03:57 PM »
Your argument starts out with the idea that because the houses already exist we won't need more plumbers to maintain them once they see regular use.  From there you delve into a sea of denial in rejecting that her plan would require any extra effort.  The whole problem is that creating an official welfare state with clearly enumerated benefits opens up what is already problematic to a larger group of people.  If you don't think anyone will quit their job and become lazy, I don't know what reality you live in, but  honestly sit down and ask yourself from the perspective of your own life:  how many of your coworkers are miserably unhappy in their jobs on a daily basis?  How many of them do you know that work pretty much only to support themselves and their family?  How many of them would love to retire, but are afraid they could not survive without their job?

Make a perfect safety net and you'll see cases of "Office Space" syndrome popping up all over the place, and that's the real problem with your arguments:  you ignore that and the effect it will have time and time again no matter how many times I allude to it.

Ignoring even whether or not we can meet these demands now for our entire country, as Star Safyre said much better than I did, our current abundance is a product of our current system.  Take away a lot of the incentive to work, and how can you possibly be sure that the needs will continue to be met?

Your answer for everything seems to be "vouchers," but a piece of paper magically cannot give you access to something, it has to be created physically by another person in order for you to receive it.  You're overly simplifying the differences between what we currently have now and what is being proposed in every category:

Housing:  sure, we provide shelters, but the cost of providing group quarters for the poor in a very utilitarian fashion is nothing compared to giving each and every poor family (or individual if the person is on their own as many are) their own home which then requires upkeep and utilities is another story entirely.  And what about everyone who currently has a house?  Are we going to give the poor free houses but not pay off the mortgage of everyone else?  You can't provide something for a certain segment of the population absolutely free that's worth thousands of dollars then require everyone else to slave away at it.

Food:  The food stamps program is different than providing food universally because our program currently covers about 43 million people and there are about 300 million in the United States.  That's kind of a big difference, unless you're saying that those who choose to work will still have to pay for it out of pocket, and only those who do nothing will get it for free while the workers support them with the money the government takes from them in taxes.  In which case, yay, big incentive not work.

Clothing:  Going back to what I said about food, are we going to make workers pay when non-workers get this for free as well, or are we going to clothe the entire country?

Education:  This isn't something I'd do away with, but we're failing here as is.  Our public education system is absolute crap for the amount of resources that we pour into it, so it isn't exactly a glowing endorsement of government efficiency or efficacy.  Adding free post-secondary education as the cherry on top would likely just make things worse.  We have merit-based scholarships and financial assistance that requires a lot of effort to obtain it in order to minimize the amount of money that is squandered, and college students still end up wasting a lot of opportunities.  I'm not really sure how giving free post-secondary education would go over either when you've got that cushy government subsidized lifestyle waiting for you if you fail too.  And by the way cost me about 40,000 dollars to get my 4 year degree from a relatively cheap state university, so that's no small price tag.

Health Care:  You named situations where having earlier access to health care would cut costs while forgetting that there are a lot of instances where the opposite occurs.  A lot of money is wasted by the paranoid, children faking sick, and frivolous testing.  When people are responsible for the cost of their own health care they're far less likely to abuse it.  When you cut people off from the consequences of their actions they tend to abuse it.  It's true that socialized medicine does not necessarily lead to bankrupt, defunct country.  It is a bill we could probably pay for.  However, it has been established fairly well (and I can pull up the stats if you want) that the best medical system in the world is the France's, which is part public part private.

They do have universal coverage, but they basically have what amounts to a public option for insurance which keeps the private practitioner system functional.  How much do the French pay for this efficient, effective system?  About 60% of 20% of their salaries go into supporting this program, which costs them 12% or so.  It will cost more in the United States for a multitude of reasons including our unhealthy lifestyles (and consequently higher rate of obesity), so your claim of: 
Quote
Everything Ruby wants to do, save housing, could be paid for with a 10% tax. This is because we already pay for most of it (one way or another, i.e. for healthcare), already, but still.
is basically nonsense on stilts.  That one aspect alone of Ruby's "plan" is more than 10%.

The only way any of this would represent a modest increase in taxes is if we only provided it to people who did not work, and made people who do work continue to pay for everything themselves.  I can't think of anything more demoralizing than supporting yourself completely while others around you are getting most of what you struggle to earn for free.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2011, 07:58:29 PM by Jude »

Offline Asuras

Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #16 on: April 06, 2011, 10:17:14 PM »
I think Vekseid's right in saying that the economy we now have could support these things.

However, I am skeptical that we could continue to provide that level of output if people got these things for free. If housing, food, utilities, clothing, etc were provided for free I'd probably work part time in a bit job to pay for the cable, computer, and internet and play World of Warcraft all day.

It's kind of strange, but in my mind because I have to work in a full time, real job even for the basic requirements of life, it for some reason follows that "Okay, given that I have to work a full time, real job, let's work in a good, well-paying, productive job."

Offline OldSchoolGamer

Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #17 on: April 07, 2011, 01:44:43 AM »
I don't think a welfare state is the way I'd like to see America go.

Not that we can't or shouldn't import concepts and practices from other countries where they are shown to work.  And not that our economy doesn't need a major overhaul, and our political system a 120,000-mile tune-up.

I am in favor of a national single-payer health care system for one simple reason: it works.  What conservatives in America simply don't understand is that our private health care system is unsustainable.  The Republicans here seem to think the health insurance industry has some God-given right to revenue increases of 5 to 8% every year, in perpetuity, regardless of who has to pay for it or whether the larger economy grows at all.  Well, the Church of Eternal Growth has closed its doors now.  The party is over.  The cheap oil and cheap credit are gone, so Big Health is going to have to downsize along with the rest of the economy.  I think the only way this will happen is if the government steps in and says to the insurance companies, "no, even if you whine like emo kids we WON'T pay 8% more for the same procedure this year and then another 7% more the next year and then 9% more the year after next when inflation is 2.1%.  You get a CPI adjustment like the rest of the population, and that's it.  Don't like it?  Tough.  It's called 'austerity', and the rest of the country is dealing with it.  Buck up, little insurance CEO campers, and if you have to fly commercial rather than your private jet sometimes, tough titty."

As for housing, I think the best way to deal with that situation is to make sure there is NO tax benefit whatsoever to banks sitting on foreclosed homes.  No write-offs, no depreciation, no nothing.  Oh, and fines if they aren't maintained.  Make the banks WANT to liquidate the homes and get them on the market, even at a loss.  Longer-term, we need the government out of the mortgage business.  We need to return to the days when homes were places to live rather than commodities.  People expect commodities to endlessly appreciate. 

As for labor...we have a structural surplus of labor and this is not going to change anytime soon.  Ideally we would begin to tariff cheap imports to get industry back in America, but so many people in such high places have drank the "free-trade-at-all-costs" Kool-Aid that this probably will never happen.  So for the here and now I'd support reducing the workweek to 32 hours.  This would nudge some of the larger corporations sitting on so much cash to increase hiring.

Offline Zeitgeist

Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #18 on: April 07, 2011, 06:49:25 AM »
Where would (if at all) choice come into play in a system like this? If the government is providing these things by way of a tax would we risk having to dispense with choice in favor of economics?

Don't we already have evidence a system like this doesn't work, i.e. Marxism/Leninism? One might argue the exact nature of success and failure when it comes to Socialism versus Capitalism, but last time I checked America, after its foundation has not suffered a revolution or collapse of its government system. No, Capitalism isn't a form of government but in my mind it goes hand-in-hand with a representative republic/democratic system.

In my opinion, a system as suggested would only erode personal liberty, something people died for and risked war for in 1776.

I don't want people to go without anymore than anyone else, but nor do I want people to be beholden to a system that I believe wouldn't ultimately remove choice and liberty. There is no guarantee of success, only of opportunity.

Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #19 on: April 07, 2011, 07:18:23 AM »
I studied Marx and Leninism the only problem with them is they were instituted stupidly, Mao and Stalin both abused the ideas of Communism to their own ends.

Lets pick a Sci-Fi example Star Trek namely the Federation if one looks at Earth its just as I propose it no one seems to want for anything they need uet oddly most people work at something because most people want to do something. The only difference is technology the ideal is attainable.

I strongly feel the governments highest duty and this is all governments are to provide for all citizens to a basic level essentials to life and an education. Housing in my model would not all be free you can opt out and buy a home you own, just with all the wasted buildings I see alot of places to put people where they can live so if an owner is not using said buildings why not just eminant domain them and run it as a government run housing structure where people live since many people would be in them there would be not the same stigma of public housing in the past.

As for the adult wanting to go home that is simple don't count more than the parents or senior most adult (unless they are caring for an infirmed or otherwise reduced capacity adult) plus children under eighteen. At eighteen they are allowed their own place the government should then reduce the family space accordingly and relocate both parties the new adult to their own place and the parents if in government sponsored housing to a smaller residence. With grace periods and necessary conditions taken into account if a person works out of their home and its also a business space that has to be considered also.

And everyone is a slave to some system what is better being the slave of a corporation having to slave away hours in toil to get what you need and that doesn't always work, I know many that work at McDonalds as adults or at Walmart scraping by at best but without health care access and we have soldiers families on food stamps. Or the government saying here you go you owe us half your pay, you don't have to work as hard but we will decide some things for you and other things your free to do a Communist model.

Under Marx people work to meet their needs and wants to some degree also just the society makes sure you also are free to think and to explore your status as a human being with a mind. People work to provide each other with what is needed and wanted not by force ewither gunpoint or lack of government support but they want to be productive. Is this any different from say the Amish who live well and share some obligations like health care among all the families and see no one is starving that I would argue is Communist in nature just in my case I take out the religion.

Offline Noelle

Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #20 on: April 07, 2011, 07:21:16 AM »
You really haven't addressed any of the issues we've all pointed out about it. You say it would work, but we just provided countless replies that show otherwise. Just wishing it would work isn't enough -- there are countless loopholes that inevitably lead to failure.

Offline Silverfyre

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Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #21 on: April 07, 2011, 02:22:40 PM »
That and using a sci-fi example instead of a real life example kind of makes your argument for such a society seem all the more far fetched.  Is there any sort of historical proof that this type of society has ever been implemented and made to work?

Offline OldSchoolGamer

Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #22 on: April 07, 2011, 03:34:41 PM »
That and using a sci-fi example instead of a real life example kind of makes your argument for such a society seem all the more far fetched.  Is there any sort of historical proof that this type of society has ever been implemented and made to work?

Prior to the advent of industrialism, communal economics actually worked fairly well.

I think a point many discussions like this miss is that the nature of work has changed dramatically in the past two centuries.  Here in America, we're rooted in the Protestant work ethic, which itself springs from a document written millennia ago for a Bronze Age civilization (not trying to create a thread derail into religion, and I'll leave the question of the veracity of the Bible for another time and place, but that's the objective truth).  Back then, the primary means of production was agriculture.  When a child came of age (usually around 13 to 16, no ten year period of adolescence like today), women married a man, and men found themselves a plot of land and built a house and proved the land.  Everyone not physically disabled could work.  There was no "unemployment" as we conceptualize it in modern industrial societies, because women were by definition wives, and men needed no one's permission to work.

Then came feudalism, which began the process of putting land ownership and production on a more organized basis, and industrialization, which finished that job.  The means of production are no longer available to all and sundry; permission is now required (i.e., "a job,") to produce wealth.  Yet (especially if Americans listen to the GOP) we still want people denied permission to produce to feel some sort of guilt at their "laziness" or "mooching."  This is especially irrational when you consider the basis under which certain people can be denied this permission--even, in some situations in America, a low credit score.  So someone who is in poverty and seeking employment to rise from poverty can and sometimes is denied employment because...they're poor.  Lazy bums!  Ditto for the rapidly growing, unemployable class of people who have been convicted of a crime.  Did something stupid when you were young?  Well, forget about just moving onto the next town and starting anew--you have a criminal record that bars you from employment for life in America at least.

I'm not going to claim to know all the answers, nor do I necessarily advocate we all go "back to the land."  But I think any honest, intelligent discussion of wealth distribution needs to begin with a recognition of how much the goalposts have been moved by industrialism and the Information Age.

Offline Star Safyre

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Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #23 on: April 07, 2011, 03:59:58 PM »
Could any proponents to this system discuss the possible methods of transition should those with the power to do so adopt it? 

What can be said for how equitably property will be redistributed?  Many of the goods being distributed are not commodities.

What if the current surplus in say, home, does not fit the needs of the people.  For instance, say I have a family of five and no unused houses are available in my area which could accommodate my family.  Am I forced to move?  Who pays for the relocation?

Even if homes, clothing, and other needs are going unused, they are still technically the property of a business or individual.  Will there be compensation?  Who decides fair compensation? 

Offline Sure

Re: Welfare-State People Sound Off
« Reply #24 on: April 07, 2011, 04:28:55 PM »
Quote
Here in America, we're rooted in the Protestant work ethic,

No. That was a myth made by Protestants to paint Catholics as lazy and justify not hiring them. It is offensive to suggest that and an offensive term itself, just as it would be offensive to claim we are rooted in a 'white' work ethic.