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Author Topic: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.  (Read 1884 times)

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Offline Ephiral

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Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #50 on: October 13, 2014, 11:38:28 PM »
On the other hand, Consortium, I think you underestimate how many people get into some of this stuff purely because of a lack of opportunity. Gang violence, for instance... we already have upper-middle-class kids getting involved with gangs, but they're waaaaaay less common than kids who see gangs as the only way to some possible measure of success. Prostitution: Overall, it might go up or down, based on the factors you've both named - but you're likely to see a lot less exploitative prostitution. The factor you've cited would lead to an increase in people choosing to enter sex work, maybe... but that's not really a problem. Muggings, too, are generally a crime born of desperation and poverty - I wouldn't expect to see more of them when nobody feels they need to commit a violent crime to put food on the table. On destitution: People do that now and are somehow not rioting on a regular basis. What is your basis for saying that this would happen?

So... you might be right on one out of five here?

Offline SteampunketteTopic starter

Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #51 on: October 14, 2014, 12:54:20 AM »
All of the Ephiral.

Contrary to popular belief most criminals don't commit crimes because they're antisocial shitstains that deserve to be gunned down like dogs. It's because they're desperate. It's because they have a terrible need that goes unfulfilled and are willing to break laws to fulfill it.

And yeah, to be clear: Exploitative Prostitution is what I was referring as opposed to reasoned sex work. People going out to the corner so they can buy enough food to survive would be less common. I have no qualms about sex workers who choose their career path.

And the idea that all people (or enough to be a problem) are inherently greedy is dumb. It always has been. You raise people in a Capitalist Society and they will act like Capitalists. It's learned behavior, not inherent to humanity. And the only way to objectively prove whether it's inherent or learned would be to give birth to a set of children and raise them in a completely unbiased environment with no human interaction outside of each other, then study them. Then you would have some idea of what humans are like "Inherently" and what sort of innate moral codes develop.

My money is on a cooperative commune like apes, where greed and theft are punished by exile and death!

Of course such a thing is unthinkable and immoral on a massive scale, and is thus beyond the pale of what we could do, even if we had the technology and ability to winnow out all social factors.

Offline elone

Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #52 on: October 14, 2014, 08:08:02 AM »
All of the Ephiral.

Contrary to popular belief most criminals don't commit crimes because they're antisocial shitstains that deserve to be gunned down like dogs. It's because they're desperate. It's because they have a terrible need that goes unfulfilled and are willing to break laws to fulfill it.

And yeah, to be clear: Exploitative Prostitution is what I was referring as opposed to reasoned sex work. People going out to the corner so they can buy enough food to survive would be less common. I have no qualms about sex workers who choose their career path.

And the idea that all people (or enough to be a problem) are inherently greedy is dumb. It always has been. You raise people in a Capitalist Society and they will act like Capitalists. It's learned behavior, not inherent to humanity. And the only way to objectively prove whether it's inherent or learned would be to give birth to a set of children and raise them in a completely unbiased environment with no human interaction outside of each other, then study them. Then you would have some idea of what humans are like "Inherently" and what sort of innate moral codes develop.

My money is on a cooperative commune like apes, where greed and theft are punished by exile and death!

Of course such a thing is unthinkable and immoral on a massive scale, and is thus beyond the pale of what we could do, even if we had the technology and ability to winnow out all social factors.

You are right, criminals do have a terrible need they need to fulfill. That need is for more than they have. Giving them an extra $575 a week or so is not going to fulfill that need. I spent time in the military, probably the most equal place you might find. Equal pay, equal housing, etc., yet there was no lack of crime on post. Muggings, robbery, theft, drugs, etc. My background was Military Police Investigations.

So now we have to completely rid ourselves of a Capitalist society to get rid of greed. You have travelled far from just giving people 30k a year. I did not say greed was inherent by the way, I don't actually believe it is. I do believe that we are products of our environment. Perhaps after many many generations your utopian society might work. Then again, it never has, at least not for the long term to any degree.

We already have a cooperative commune like the apes. Greed and theft are punished by exile, but not death. It is called prison. Are you seriously recommending that we instill the death penalty for theft? We are better than apes, that is called evolution. You might also throw into the mix survival of the fittest.

Offline kylie

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Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #53 on: October 14, 2014, 03:10:20 PM »
Quote from: elone
What you haven't accounted for in all of this are human failings. Not everyone is going to be content just because they have more money...
     How have you determined that so many people are this greedy, that there must be riots and all the other things you predict in that scenario?

Quote
You are right, criminals do have a terrible need they need to fulfill. That need is for more than they have. Giving them an extra $575 a week or so is not going to fulfill that need. I spent time in the military, probably the most equal place you might find. Equal pay, equal housing, etc., yet there was no lack of crime on post. Muggings, robbery, theft, drugs, etc. My background was Military Police Investigations.
     First, I'm not sure a military base is a great candidate for microcosm of the broader society.  Even assuming that "equal" refers to a level of pay and quality of life that is deemed sufficient and stable here (dubious if the VA hospitals are anything to go by; I'm not sure about day to day base life)...  I can think of a few reasons that might be a rather exceptional situation: 

1)  In my understanding, many people are in the military precisely because they started out with considerable poverty.  Even if they themselves seem to be getting by for the moment (and planning along such lines requires them to commit in their own mind to stay in - if poverty was their motive for joining, how many really desire to stay in so long?)...  Many are probably still connected to families and friends somewhere who are struggling day to day and reminding them of that possible black hole in the society -- if not calling on some of their resources. 

2)  Perhaps in some cases, soldiers even began their military careers as a form of voluntary restitution for crimes (where the alternative might have been a rather undesirable other sentence)?  I don't know really how common that is, but I believe I have heard of it happening for youth cases in some states.  At the least, some are sent to military-style youth offender "boot camps."  And once in the military system, they might find it easier to keep on going without certainty their original issues have been solved. 

3)  Moreover, it is the military.  It's a war machine.  If you're going to happen to choose anywhere with a rather high incidence (I imagine) of, or at least (certainly) very high-profile cases of aggression and overly competitively inclined people, people who are perhaps more likely to insist on exploiting power...  Well, why not such a field where macho acting out, tribal mentality, and excessive force is often encouraged?  Though certain regular police forces seem to be competing pretty well too for the title these days...  But the military is a much larger employer, and I suspect easier to join.

Quote
So now we have to completely rid ourselves of a Capitalist society to get rid of greed. You have travelled far from just giving people 30k a year. I did not say greed was inherent by the way, I don't actually believe it is. I do believe that we are products of our environment.
     You don't believe it's inherent, but at the same time you say there has to be a complete change in order for steam's suggestion to count as an overall success?  I dunno, sounds to me like you want to disclaim a lot on your own part while demanding a perfectly ideal outcome immediately out of steam's side.  Is there no room for incrementalism and "good enough" outcomes (something decisively better than we have now) here? 

      What we have now is a rather small minority denying a living wage to a very large number of people and keeping life even at a living wage increasingly tenuous for quite a few more (much of the so-called, but actually sinking middle class), with racial multipliers at play inside all of that affecting who falls where.  If improving from that situation means moving to one where another small minority, even a slightly larger one suppose, are still finding some way to suck a few more resources out of the system but the vast majority of people can keep on a comfortable living and it's not by and large obviously weighted by race as it IS now, then I would consider that a worthwhile improvement.  And those who like to deal in courtrooms or chasing paramilitaries for a living etc., could go on trying to minimize the greedy minority, as you put it.  Much as the government somewhat does now.  But in the present overall structure where the greed and racial bias are allowed to rule to such a vast degree, agents of the "system" can hardly cover the scope and depth of the inequality even when it does attempt to bandaid over certain symptoms.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2014, 03:18:40 PM by kylie »

Offline elone

Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #54 on: October 14, 2014, 04:28:41 PM »
First of all, let me clear up some things.

My whole point in participating in this exercise was to note that giving people more money is not a panacea to all of societies ills. Period.

Actually, the military is a prime example of a social group in equality. Like I said, we are products of our environments, and that carries through to the military. I think I mentioned that it would take a long time for people to stop bad behavior and get on the free lunch, no need to act up, bandwagon.

I do think that as a nation we can afford to house, feed, and improve the quality of life of all those who need it. I would gladly raise taxes and redistribute wealth. I think we should have free health care. All we need to do is quit policing the world and put our resources where they belong. It is an obscenity that we have mega billionaires at the same time we have people starving.

I am actually on your side.

Offline SteampunketteTopic starter

Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #55 on: October 14, 2014, 05:24:01 PM »
The military is a TERRIBLE example of any sort of microcosm of an equal society.

Racism, sexism, homophobia, and other deep-seated biases are magnified on post. And the educational inequities, economic inequities, and more that produce people who join the military still exist. Further, there's significant incitement to aggression and violence on any "Othered" identity that exists. It's why soldiers and cops both tend to create a hierarchy of people "Worth" living. It goes Cops and Military, then EMTs, then Citizens, then Criminals and then Politicians... Well okay, some soldiers put criminals below politicians or put them on the same level... But yeah. The military magnifies and intensifies bias, it doesn't remove it.

No. Giving out "Free Money" wouldn't fix all social ills. But it would help to offset the economic disparity we've constructed along majority/minority lines. Which is the stated goal in the beginning of this thread.

However: Muggings and similar crimes are primarily motivated by need. Not need for a nebulous "More". Otherwise you'd have a shitload of WASPS with business suits and derringers shouting "Awlraight you wohrthless bum, put your hands where I cahn see them! Diamonds and Jewelry in the bag." at the country club through their lockjaw. But a need for enough to make it through the damned day.

Same thing for Burglaries and Gas Station robberies.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #56 on: October 14, 2014, 05:33:04 PM »
I'd like to point out another flaw in the military-as-example: It's a high-trust environment. Personal property is left basically unsecured except by the goodwill of bunkmates all the time. That vastly lowers the opportunity cost of betrayal.

Elone, it seems like your criticism boils down to "This won't make things perfect." My answer is: So? Neither will anything; there will always be betrayers. What we should be aiming for is to make sure the betrayers can a) inflict as little damage as possible, and b) be reduced in number. The current model fails catastrophically on both points, but particularly A. You don't need to be perfect to be better.

Offline elone

Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #57 on: October 14, 2014, 10:14:43 PM »
The military is a TERRIBLE example of any sort of microcosm of an equal society.

Racism, sexism, homophobia, and other deep-seated biases are magnified on post. And the educational inequities, economic inequities, and more that produce people who join the military still exist. Further, there's significant incitement to aggression and violence on any "Othered" identity that exists. It's why soldiers and cops both tend to create a hierarchy of people "Worth" living. It goes Cops and Military, then EMTs, then Citizens, then Criminals and then Politicians... Well okay, some soldiers put criminals below politicians or put them on the same level... But yeah. The military magnifies and intensifies bias, it doesn't remove it.

No. Giving out "Free Money" wouldn't fix all social ills. But it would help to offset the economic disparity we've constructed along majority/minority lines. Which is the stated goal in the beginning of this thread.

However: Muggings and similar crimes are primarily motivated by need. Not need for a nebulous "More". Otherwise you'd have a shitload of WASPS with business suits and derringers shouting "Awlraight you wohrthless bum, put your hands where I cahn see them! Diamonds and Jewelry in the bag." at the country club through their lockjaw. But a need for enough to make it through the damned day.

Same thing for Burglaries and Gas Station robberies.

Maybe you should read what I write instead of interpreting it to suit your own opinion. The use of the military as an example was that it represents a group of people who exist in a setting where they all have basically equal access to pay, housing etc., yet many commit criminal acts.  Contrary to your assertion that all crime comes from desperation, crime can come from greed or any number of other factors. Your stipend for everyone will not cure all crime. Do rapists rape for the money??

According to you, the only people who join the military are those that have suffered some inequities in their life. What about when we had the draft? Soldiers came from all walks of life, rich, poor, educated, barely literate, all teated equally, yet crime was common.  Also, where do you get the idea that cops and soldiers have a list of people who are worth living? Can you give me some example of that? What does bias have to do with this subject anyway, I thought we were talking about giving people money to help everyone be able to live a quality life.

I'd like to point out another flaw in the military-as-example: It's a high-trust environment. Personal property is left basically unsecured except by the goodwill of bunkmates all the time. That vastly lowers the opportunity cost of betrayal.

Elone, it seems like your criticism boils down to "This won't make things perfect." My answer is: So? Neither will anything; there will always be betrayers. What we should be aiming for is to make sure the betrayers can a) inflict as little damage as possible, and b) be reduced in number. The current model fails catastrophically on both points, but particularly A. You don't need to be perfect to be better.

When I was in the military, everything was locked tight. Personal property was never left out where it could disappear.

Not sure I understand your concept of betrayers. Would they be the ones who don't go along with the program or the ones that control the wealth?

I don't think things have to be perfect, I just don't think that giving everyone 30k is going to solve the inequalities that have plagued our society for hundreds of years. I would rather see the money spent on educating everyone, free healthcare cradle to grave, maternity care and pay, free university for anyone who can't afford it, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, etc. Take the money from our massive military budget, tax the hell out of billionaires, close corporate tax loopholes, ban lobbyists, stop gerrymandering our voting districts, get money out of politics, what have I left out?

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #58 on: October 14, 2014, 10:25:03 PM »
Huh. Must be differences in military culture between there and here, then.

"Betrayers" in the context I've been using it here, comes from the venerable Prisoner's Dilemma; it refers to people who refuse to cooperate with others, who break the social contract for their own gain. Any attempt to design a system around human interaction is going to need to deal with the problem of betrayers, and "make sure they never happen" isn't ever on the table. A perfectly secure system is perfectly useless.

What the basic living stipend idea is all about is removing some very powerful incentives for betrayal, and thereby reducing how often it occurs - and, y'know, giving everybody enough to live on. We've got very little to indicate that it wouldn't be successful at that goal - which doesn't mean your ideas aren't worthy either, but they certainly don't seem as well-formulated or viable in the form you've proposed them.

Offline elone

Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #59 on: October 14, 2014, 10:47:48 PM »
I think a basic stipend is a decent idea, I am just not sure what percentage of people will do the right thing with the money. The right thing being using the money to better themselves or their surroundings. Besides, if someone is unemployed and homeless, 30k is not going to get them educated, health care, transportation, housing, food, clothing, etc, that are basic needs. I don't think I could exist on 30k today, and prices would certainly go up.

I really don't see how giving people the services I suggested as being any less viable or well-formulated than throwing money at someone. All it takes is the political will to do what is needed. Of course that is the problem with all gains proposed for a society that takes money from one person or group and gives it to another.


Offline Ephiral

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Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #60 on: October 14, 2014, 11:31:07 PM »
30k is pretty basic but not so sure it's impossible, in most places. What was less viable and well-formulated about your idea is that it's way more expensive, and you've shown no numbers to demonstrate its viability. I think it's an interesting concept, not sure if I agree with all of it but most of it's good... but what exactly will it take?

Offline SteampunketteTopic starter

Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #61 on: October 15, 2014, 03:47:02 AM »
"Muggings and similar crimes" does not equate to All Crimes. Don't put words in my mouth.

And yes. There is rape in the military. If you think rape is about sex I've got a land bridge from Australia to England to sell you. Sex is just the weapon being used. Rape is about power and violence. Two things that the military does it's damnedest to instill and magnify in soldiers.

And no. I didn't say "The Only People" that join are desperate or downtrodden. I said the problems that exist outside exist inside, carried with the people who hold them. Both those who are minority members holding internalized bias and those who are majority members enacting bias on others was the implication, there.

As for the cop example: Talk to Soldiers and Soldiers who became Cops. Head on over to the Paragon Unleashed forums and you can hang out with Duck Armada, who will tell you in no uncertain terms where he, and the rest of the police force he works with, rate civilians as a class: Just above worthless.

And if you're confused as to where the Bias comes into it go back and reread the first post to understand what oppressive legacy is and how it creates and maintains economic oppression.

Offline kylie

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Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #62 on: October 15, 2014, 06:04:53 AM »
 
Quote from: elone
I would rather see the money spent on educating everyone, free healthcare cradle to grave, maternity care and pay, free university for anyone who can't afford it, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, etc. Take the money from our massive military budget, tax the hell out of billionaires, close corporate tax loopholes, ban lobbyists, stop gerrymandering our voting districts, get money out of politics, what have I left out?
     
          Much of this (I'm inclined to think, probably all of it) is good stuff.  I'd love to see it too.  I suppose I'd also prefer to see it along with a guaranteed living income, if society can afford it.  And there is a simply massive amount of money sitting in a portion of the economy that very few, but very wealthy families tend to control and hoard.  So perhaps, hopefully, that might be feasible too if there were only political will. 

          If only.  But then the US is not anything near a pure meritocracy at all -- let alone a serious, egalitarian form of welfare state (and there is some of that flavor in the proposal too) -- so thus far there isn't.  Even at the regional mass movement level, people are barely getting around these days to organizing to raise the legal minimum wage.  Which not every industry polices well as things are, and that doesn't even begin to deal with problems like the housing market and spiraling prices (in fact we're here partly because wage hikes have not been linked to cost of living, and have not kept pace, for decades).

          You say you're on this or that "side," but I didn't feel I was all that sure where you stood on what before exactly.  The military case seems problematic for the argument you suggested, but hey it's just one case and I actually didn't feel you had really explained a great deal about your overall view yet.  Now, l was at least a little surprised when you said (above quote) you support these things -- that is, after the bit earlier about how there would be riots and so on with a guaranteed income level.  I do suppose there might be say a few outbreaks of violence. 
a bit tangential to my point but here's why I say that.
Just guessing, on the general principle that it's hard to please everyone and even a few principled greedy can get rather explosive in protest or even a small revolt?  And after all, when you currently have massive resources at your command and some of your wealth might be diminished by the proposal, it could be tempting for a few people to put some of their resources to work first causing disruption.  Or maybe on the basis that simply changing things is technically hard, especially if there is a chance it might not be done in a way that makes for a very smooth transition and then some people feel caught in the meantime. 
  But I thought that you were suggesting, even if you might (perhaps) support the proposal in principle, that somehow 'too many' people would turn to crime, or perhaps just act out in extra-judicial displays of outrage or frustration (say, as often enough happens somewhere around large-scale protests, though not always).  I felt there was some hint of 'too many' in the way you said it and that probably you were trying to say providing a flat guaranteed income was not viable for that reason -- you expected the social backlash or maybe just local crime to be somehow too intense to accept.  But if that were the case, I'm not sure why the same assumptions of backlash would not apply to these things above that you do support, as well.  Did I just read too much into your listing of riots and other possible problems?

         To put it another way -- and I actually think this is probably more to the point: How about the reasons we have some of the sort of blow-ups and frustrations we already have now?  Take riots, as it's one of those things people often point to as an example of how masses on the street demanding justice 'just can't seem to get anything done without somewhere deteriorating into violence and threats to business' etc.  We already have periodic riots emerging out of situations where White police officers kill or beat Blacks in somewhat uncertain (sometimes but not always immediately sketchy) circumstances, all multiplied by the general tensions between the police and many Black communities (see policy for style and concentration of policing, I mentioned above).  Or:  We also already have riots when it appears the national government is bent on creating trade regimes that many working class people might reasonably anticipate will result in a huge incentive for business to remove jobs from one area and place them somewhere else entirely (thinking of things like NAFTA and the WTO), again most importantly multiplied or abetted in that reality by the low pay and lack of mobility that also often persists among many people such that they have very little to no security if some of those industries move away.

...  So given that these are some of the huge periodic disruptions that we presently have, when it comes to rioting...  Now consider simply handing everyone 30k, or whatever number is practical (and setting up an appropriate system of food/ housing distribution such that people can continue to live on that comfortably, if necessary - avoiding the sort of inflationary spiral that also keeps many people stuck at the bottom today)...  Why would that result in a worse situation as far as the likelihood of riots goes?  If I were putting it all on a balance sheet, I also think many of the outbreaks that happen for the kind of reasons in the paragraph above this would go away. 
« Last Edit: October 15, 2014, 06:19:44 AM by kylie »

Offline HannibalBarca

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Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #63 on: October 19, 2014, 07:44:31 PM »
I've been lurking for a while, meaning to post a response, or at least a meaningful comment, so here I am.

I'm a solid Liberal when it comes to social and most economic issues, but I have a couple of caveats when it comes to the topics discussed here:  I was raised in a U.S. Air Force family, and I'm currently an elementary school teacher in a very poor community with a diverse ethnic background.

As far as military bases being a microcosm of a nation in general--yes and no.  Those in the military are members of the general population before they join, and raised in various communities, ethnic, economic, and otherwise.  However, I have seen a general change in the military population over time, just like the change in the general population.  When I was a child, doors were left unlocked on base, neighbors disciplined and watched over each others' children, and there was a much greater acceptance of other ethnic and mult-iethnic members of the community.  We had racists, sure--but so many of my friends in school had mothers who were from other nations, that to act racist in school was to ostracize yourself from pretty much everyone else. 

10% of the military on the base were officers, the balance being enlisted.  That meant 90% of the children on base received free or reduced lunches, because enlisted pay for an average enlisted airman was at or below the poverty level.  All military, with families or not, had access to free housing.  Virtually everyone was employed.  Motivation among parents was high.  Back to school night was standing room only in the classrooms.  Corporal punishment was still an option at school, if parents signed a form and sent it back to school...needless to say, the exceptions were rare.  Curfews were in force for children and adults.  Yards were expected to be kept up, and the best-kept yards were awarded yard-of-the-month, including a sign posted on it.  Virtually all children were expected to excel in school, regardless of ethnic, cultural, or economic background.  Social norms were strictly enforced by the community--the social norms of the military, not the cultures one originally came from.

I also benefited from parents who were raised in Southern California in mixed-ethnicity communities.  My father and mother are white/Native American, but grew up in communities that were balanced or majority Hispanic.  While my father was stationed in Vietnam, my mother and I lived with her parents in a community that was 85% Hispanic.  I was the only white kid in my class while I was there, and got a small taste of what being an ethnic minority is like.

My father retired within the same month I graduated from high school, and my younger brother graduated from junior high.  I started going to college while he went to high school for the first time in a civilian school.  The differences were stark and shocking.  Kids divided along ethnic lines at the school, there were fights primarily over racial tensions, and poverty was endemic.  My brothers dealt with culture shock, basically.  I'd lived in civilian communities when younger, but they had spent their entire lives sheltered, as it were, in military culture.

Fast-forward to today.  I'm 45 and have been teaching for over 12 years at the same elementary school.  The last base my family lived at is, incidentally, only about ten miles away from the small town I live in.  Our ethnic makeup here is roughly 1/3 black, 1/3 Hispanic, 1/3 white, and around 10% Filipino, Chinese, and Thai.  90% of the children at my school receive free or reduced-price lunches.  I'm lucky if 1/3 of my student's parents show up for parent-teacher conferences or back-to-school night--just one parent.  The great majority of my students live in a single-parent home.  Some are raised by grandparents, uncles/aunts, older siblings, or are homeless.  Around 20% of them have one (or both) parents in prison.  About 20% also have a family member in a gang.

The similarities and differences between the military communities I grew up in and the one I live in now can be seen in the above paragraphs, but some of the details are startling.  I've had parents tell me they didn't want their children to grow up smarter than them; I've had parents tell me their children were stupid.  I've had parents insist their children couldn't behave because they had ADHD.  I've had parents insist it was my job to teach their children morals, not theirs.  I've had most of these comments from native parents--mostly black and white.  The particular culture of Hispanic and Asian families, regardless of the nation their culture originated from, tends to value education...most immigrant families do, regardless of nation of origin.  What is surprising, however, is the blatant attitude of entitlement I get from both black and white families of poverty.  Not all, mind you, but a very high percentage.  With what I know from first-hand knowledge of the reservation system in the United States, it brings me to the conclusion that any kind of welfare system, while well-meaning, tends to become broken, and the way we go about such matters in the U.S. desperately needs fixing...but it is not the primary problem.

How does all this relate to the thread topic?

In this community of deep poverty, multi-ethnicity, and confused and bankrupt culture, there is virtually no racism.  Poverty ties the majority of the citizens together in a kind of desperate brotherhood.  A sense of victimhood, of someone else being to blame for their misfortunes, runs deep.  A sense of helplessness runs right next to it--the attitude that their situation cannot be helped; a kind of self-defeating fatalism that only makes their conditions worse.  I have children of all ethnic varieties that have told me that they expect to go to prison when they grow up, just like so many of their family members.  There is virtually no motivation to improve one's self.

My point is that, aside from racism--which does exist in our nation still--inequalities in this nation are primarily a problem of culture, not poverty.  Or the culture of poverty.  There are generations of families, regardless of ethnicity, that have lived on welfare and have no motivation to better themselves.  They have a deep sense of desperation--the kind that drives individuals to crime.  They lack an appreciation for what an education can do for your life, for a variety of factors, but including the fact that many of the schools they attended or attend are unable to effectively educate, because of other factors, such as disciplinary problems, emotional disturbances, and basics like lack of sleep or hunger.  I have students whose only meals are the breakfast and lunch they receive at school.  Three and four day weekends are times of deprivation for them, not extended fun times.

With all of this, do you really think, that many of these poor parents and their children will be using that $30,000 wisely?  I have had children every year whose parents are poor, own multiple video game systems, and yet the children are dressed in filthy, worn-out clothes, have rotten teeth, and go hungry often.  The lack of common-sense and basic living skills are stunning.  Another factor that often goes along with these families is the bunker mentality--everyone else is out to get them.  Too many times I have had conferences with parents over a child's bullying, only to have them blame the other children, the teachers and administration, the other parents--everyone but their children.  To blame their children would, by extension, mean blaming themselves as parents--and there are a huge number of parents here that have extremely low self-esteem, to the point where they can't or won't make critical self-judgements necessary to make self-improvements--the kind that would help them out of the situations they are in economically and personally.

I'm usually a big-picture guy.  But my career puts me in the trenches where I see the little details that make large, sweeping generalizations null and void.  Stereotypes don't work in my field.  Neither do generalizations of how society would be improved or harmed by a sweeping increase in income.  It will take much more than money to help large swaths of the poor in the United States.  It will take, in my opinion, a concerted effort by all economic and social levels within the nation to improve more than the economic well-being, but the cultural well-being of our country.  The problem is, our nation is, at its core, a multi-cultural society, in which people do not easily, readily, or understandably accept new cultural values.  A monolithic culture, like Japan, has a better chance at making sweeping national changes.  The U.S., by its very nature, stymies efforts to make a rising tide that lifts all boats.  Our cultural complexity is at once one of our greatest strengths and most glaring weaknesses.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2014, 07:57:11 PM by HannibalBarca »

Offline Caehlim

Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #64 on: October 19, 2014, 08:47:17 PM »
Contrary to popular belief most criminals don't commit crimes because they're antisocial shitstains that deserve to be gunned down like dogs. It's because they're desperate. It's because they have a terrible need that goes unfulfilled and are willing to break laws to fulfill it.

I'd say it's more complex than that. Crimes are committed because of a diverse range of reasons but are mostly covered by the following in my opinion (not in any particular order):

1) A person's vital need is not covered, forcing them to break the law out of desperation.
2) The law is an attempt to legislate a certain morality or cultural value not shared by the individual and is rejected as invalid. (laws against interracial marriage, gay relationships, drug use, etc)
3) The person possesses a mental or personality disorder which inhibits their ability to recognize or follow the law.
4) The person's cultural or subcultural background encourages rejecting the authority of law as a positive trait.
5) The perceived gain outweighs the perceived risk and no other factors such as morality, cultural values, etc are sufficiently involved to interfere for whatever reason.

Quote
And the only way to objectively prove whether it's inherent or learned would be to give birth to a set of children and raise them in a completely unbiased environment with no human interaction outside of each other, then study them. Then you would have some idea of what humans are like "Inherently" and what sort of innate moral codes develop.

While this has not ever been deliberately performed because of psychological ethics, there have been several examples of 'feral children' throughout history. Unfortunately without human interaction, they're severely crippled and basically don't act in any way recognizably human usually without much success in recovery or treatment. I personally think that this is both because humans need contact with other people and also that many of our ideas of humanity are the cumulative work of a hundred thousand years of social development being passed from generation to generation. They generally don't display much of any morality at all, however I personally suspect that isn't because human don't have an innate morality (studies generally confirm that we do) but rather because the trauma of their experience and isolation has led to difficulties in them feeling empathy for other humans.

With all of this, do you really think, that many of these poor parents and their children will be using that $30,000 wisely?  I have had children every year whose parents are poor, own multiple video game systems, and yet the children are dressed in filthy, worn-out clothes, have rotten teeth, and go hungry often.  The lack of common-sense and basic living skills are stunning.  Another factor that often goes along with these families is the bunker mentality--everyone else is out to get them.

This can of course be a factor, not everyone necessarily is going to make good life choices and it is especially difficult if you've been denied opportunities and role-models to obtain life skills. It tends to self-perpetuate from generation to generation. With our media pumping millions of dollars into careful psychological manipulation of people to believe that they require those luxury goods it's also not surprising that it sometimes works.

However there was an interesting point brought up regarding some of this behaviour by Tim Harford in his book The Undercover Economist that pointed out that frequently poorer people are forced to make substandard choices because of the difficulties in obtaining the upfront investment in household infrastructure required to reduce recurring costs. For example a family that pays for laundromat fees for any washing spends more money in the longrun than a family that purchases a washing machine, however one requires an upfront investment whereas the other one doesn't. Families that rely on fast-food rather than taking the time to learn cooking skills and the cost to obtain the cooking equipment will often have trouble affording food in the long-run even.

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Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #65 on: October 20, 2014, 08:21:04 AM »
HannibalBarca very well spoken and general representative of what I see in the day to day world. I simply cannot add anything *quietly applauds*

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Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #66 on: October 25, 2014, 10:54:50 PM »
          Well if you can't add anything to that, then you very obviously don't want to talk about legacy.

Offline Primal

Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #67 on: November 14, 2014, 04:23:14 AM »
Interesting thread, good stuff!

I think Basic Income, as I understand it (an unconditional sum of money all citizens receive yearly, no questions asked), has a great chance at being implemented in the U.S., and I'm speaking from my Libertarian/capitalist-pig/personal-freedom point of view.  That might seem antithetical at first look, but I think Basic Income offers goodies that people from all political viewpoints can find appealing.

Presently, the US has a large welfare state.  It's a complex and bloated bureaucracy that promotes dependency not only via direct monetary means, but with a maze of condescending, personally invasive, and socially subjugating rules that span across 100+ anti-poverty programs.  Basic Income removes the need for all of that.  Welfare, Food Stamps, Unemployment, TANF, etc., etc. ... dump all of it.  Everybody gets a check.  You don't have to check in with Big Brother and ensure he approves of your behavior in order to keep receiving it.  Work doesn't affect it, so you're not penalized for working.  The poor are given assistance in a manner that actually treats them like free people in a free society that have agency.

Government bureaucracy gets substantially smaller.  The poor are getting money without a poverty trap.  It's not perfect, but hey... what is?  There's something for everybody like.

Offline Sethala

Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #68 on: November 15, 2014, 05:05:41 PM »
Mostly skimmed this topic, and I have a few thoughts...

First off, I agree with the general idea of the topic, that there's very much a "rich get richer, poor get poorer" issue in the United States (and, I imagine, in many other first-world countries, though I don't pay enough attention to them to be sure).  The idea that yes, someone who's well off today can usually trace a few hundred years of lineage though people who were also well off, while someone who's stuck in poverty usually had grandparents and great-grandparents also stuck in poverty, is an issue, and one worth addressing.  The problem is that then I see this idea and see some people trying to shove racial politics into the matter, when really, the issue is less about racism than it is about opportunity to succeed in society being tied to what your parents are able to provide you while growing up.

Don't get me wrong, I'm under no illusion that there's no racism in the US.  However, I see a lot of correlation here between "minorities" and "people in poverty", and I think too many take the leap and think that correlation implies causation, when that's not always the case.  I think that these are two issues that intersect when you look at demographics, but have wholly different methods to solving them, and trying to conflate both issues by tying them together removes a lot of the nuance that could lead to a solution to them.  It also invites an issue of "racist solutions" (is there a better term for this?).  For instance, trying to elevate African-American people by instituting some form of tax break or welfare ignores the issue of white people who are stuck in the same poverty loop because of the same social factors affecting them.

Anyway, I think Steampunkette's idea has some merit, although I also think her idea of giving people that much money "because we're a rich country and we can afford it" isn't enough of a reason thanks to the issues that large of an influx will cause on inflation, not to mention the number of people doing vital but menial tasks that will up and quit because they don't have to work to make money (even if they'll earn more money by working).  Personally, I think an annual supplement of $5,000-$10,000 would be enough of a boost to most people that it would help fix a lot of the economy's issues, especially if it's an equal handout to everyone regardless of other income (and perhaps a small supplement beyond that to people who are more in need, though I don't know enough about such systems to suggest anything right now).  It's not enough to bring everyone out of poverty, but it is enough for the people who are stuck in a cycle of being unable to even get a part-time job because they have nowhere to start to at least get the ball rolling.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #69 on: November 15, 2014, 05:47:59 PM »
I'm... really, really confused about your position, Sethala. You open by saying that there are in fact class divides, which can be traced back through "a few hundred years" - the wealthy can trace their wealth back that far, as a rule, and the poor can trace their poverty similarly. And yet you don't think that being non-white has a causative connection to poverty? Just what do you think was happening with non-white people in America in the early 1700s?

Offline Sethala

Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #70 on: November 15, 2014, 08:16:51 PM »
I'm not saying that racism isn't a factor, it's just not a direct factor in why African-American people are, in general, worse off than white people in America.  The direct factor is that a disproportionately large portion of the African-American population in the US comes from families in poverty, and the economic system in the US means that people who come from rich families tend to end up rich on their own and vice versa  The indirect reason behind all of this is racism, yes, because that's the cause of the African-American population mostly descending from people in poverty, but racism by itself is not a major direct cause.  (I'll concede that it is a factor, but it's not as significant as lineage and inheritance is.)

The reason this matters is because anyone trying to say "Black people will be better off in society if we create programs focused on helping African-Americans" is ignoring that the root cause of the issue isn't racism, it's a lineage of poverty, and the solution would be generally flawed because it wouldn't account for people of other races (other minorities or even white people) that are in the same position.

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Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #71 on: November 15, 2014, 08:43:32 PM »
I'm... really, really confused about your position, Sethala. You open by saying that there are in fact class divides, which can be traced back through "a few hundred years" - the wealthy can trace their wealth back that far, as a rule, and the poor can trace their poverty similarly. And yet you don't think that being non-white has a causative connection to poverty? Just what do you think was happening with non-white people in America in the early 1700s?

All he's saying is that there are both blacks and whites (and every other race besides) that are stuck below the poverty line.  Therefore, a solution to the problem should be directed at 'poor people' rather than any other factor.  Although I would go slightly further and say it should include not just Basic Income, but also things like how to avoid fraud, how to budget money in the first place, and so on.

Offline Sethala

Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #72 on: November 15, 2014, 09:21:03 PM »
All he's saying is that there are both blacks and whites (and every other race besides) that are stuck below the poverty line.  Therefore, a solution to the problem should be directed at 'poor people' rather than any other factor.  Although I would go slightly further and say it should include not just Basic Income, but also things like how to avoid fraud, how to budget money in the first place, and so on.

Exactly, thank you.

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Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #73 on: November 16, 2014, 10:31:03 AM »
All right, thanks for the explanation. Still don't think I agree, though - as an offhand example, redlining is still a thing.

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Re: Let's talk a little bit about oppressive legacy.
« Reply #74 on: November 16, 2014, 06:13:06 PM »
All right, thanks for the explanation. Still don't think I agree, though - as an offhand example, redlining is still a thing.

There are many poor white folks too (and not just the ones in Appalachia). 

The problem is, many of these poor white people aren't considered to be poor because their incomes suggest a different story.  When you factor in car payments, student loans, credit cards, and more, you'll see that poverty is far more common than we think.  Many seemingly "middle class" people with iPhones are literally one broken car transmission away from being on the street.  76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.