The 2% Illusion

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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby TheAmazingRando » Tue Mar 03, 2009 10:05 am UTC

dwalb wrote:Luckily i haven't got anyone to worry about but myself, so the money is sufficient and i'm surviving.
You do realize that a lot of the people on welfare are single parents with children, right? Assume a parent with two kids (which is not at all unusual). Do you think you could live on a third of what you're making? Assuming you would also have to find a bigger home? Assuming, also, that those kids will need some sort of supervision for the 12 hours a day you're working, which also costs money? Even if you could live off that money, could a growing child?

YOU are not EVERYONE, YOUR situation is not EVERYONE'S situation. Having kids changes things. Being a minority changes things. Being female changes things. The experience of a single white male (if you aren't white, I apologize, your reference to "your white money," sarcastic as it was, implied otherwise) are VASTLY different than the experiences of a non-white single mother (a category a lot of people on welfare fall under), who besides having to spend the same money to support two, three, four times as many people, will also face hiring description for A) being female, B) being non-white, and C) being a single mother. I don't doubt that you worked very hard, I'm sure you earned every penny you made, but not everyone has the white male privilege of "fair" treatment. Your situation means that you dodged a bullet every step of the way that plenty of other people aren't lucky enough to avoid. The sooner you can stop bullshitting yourself into believing that you and your experiences are representative of everyone, the better.

Some people cant believe things unless they have accreditation, research, and political voices backing it up.
Who is more likely to be right: the people who actually study a phenomenon, the way it has worked historically, and the way it currently affects a large number of people, or the people who restrict themselves to the observations and opinions of a single person?

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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby psyck0 » Tue Mar 03, 2009 4:10 pm UTC

I am enjoying the righteous thrashing of this idiot. Well done!

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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Belial » Tue Mar 03, 2009 4:18 pm UTC

What's cute is how dwalb has so thoroughly destroyed his own credibility and anyone's willingness to listen to him on two previous accounts, to the point where he apparently felt the need to create a third one.

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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Veracious Sole » Tue Mar 03, 2009 4:45 pm UTC

Belial wrote:
dwalb wrote:The poor dont have enough time to cook. They work too hard, not enough time in the day.

Ridiculous.


Oh, they can have the time.

They could just not work, and then they'd have all day to cook and do everything else.

But I was under the impression that you ever wanted them to not be on welfare. That requires working. And probably not pulling down very much money, so you'll be working a lot.

Which means TV Dinners and fruit roll ups.

Now, unless you have something more substantive to say than "ridiculous", sit down.


I'm going to have to agree with dwalb on this point. TV dinners and fruit rollups (along with many other prepackaged meals) are incredibly expensive compared to a home cooked meal. The idea that someone on welfare is incapable of preparing a meal due to time constraints is silly. Cooking doesn't take up so much time to render it an impossibility. Not unless the meal in question is a gourmet five-course extravaganza. Lets take a look at a basic spaghetti dinner:

1 1lb box of spaghetti: $2.00
2 cans of generic tomato sauce: $2.00
1lb of ground beef: $4.00

Total price: $8.00
Total cooking time: 15 min
Estimated Servings: 8
Cost per person: $1

Compared to a $4 TV dinner. well, I'm sure you can do the math yourself. Now, all this is assuming that you don't have kids who can do the cooking for you. Or a cheap (10-20 dollar) crockpot that you can just throw the ingredients in and leave alone for 12 hours.
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Belial » Tue Mar 03, 2009 4:51 pm UTC

The idea that someone on welfare is incapable of preparing a meal due to time constraints is silly. Cooking doesn't take up so much time to render it an impossibility. Not unless the meal in question is a gourmet five-course extravaganza. Lets take a look at a basic spaghetti dinner:


Which is fine if you want to live on pasta, and that's meeting your nutritional needs.

As someone further up the page pointed out, when you look at calories and nutrition for the dollar, tv dinners pretty much win. Especially if you also factor in time.
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Heisenberg » Tue Mar 03, 2009 5:12 pm UTC

Belial wrote:As someone further up the page pointed out, when you look at calories and nutrition for the dollar, tv dinners pretty much win. Especially if you also factor in time.

People who eat pasta every day live long, healthy lives. People who eat TV dinners every day do not. And if you replace the meat in the former equation with broccoli from time to time, you can avoid cancer.

Whole foods are often cheaper than processed foods, and we know they don't result in diabetes or cancer because people have been eating them forever.

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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Belial » Tue Mar 03, 2009 5:17 pm UTC

Long term health is one of those concerns that comes in secondary to that whole "having enough energy and short-term health to actually do my job" thing.

It is, again, something that some people don't have the luxury to worry about.

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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Decker » Tue Mar 03, 2009 6:04 pm UTC

Veracious Sole wrote:Compared to a $4 TV dinner.

Wait, wait, four dollars? What kind of gourmet TV dinners do you buy? I get mine for a buck each from discount stores. Two bucks when I'm feeling fancy.
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Mar 03, 2009 6:34 pm UTC

Belial wrote:Long term health is one of those concerns that comes in secondary to that whole "having enough energy and short-term health to actually do my job" thing.

It is, again, something that some people don't have the luxury to worry about.

Yeah, pretty much. I know anecdotes are not scientific evidence, but this is still an illustrative example:

I lived for a year in Mexico and earned $10/day, $4 of which I spent on lodging. And even though food is a lot cheaper there than here, $6/day is still not much when I'm cooking only for myself (and so can't buy bulk and cook for a roomful of people extra efficiently), especially if I also occasionally wanted to do something for my own enjoyment (read, mental health), like go out or watch a movie or something. So I found a few months into it that I was losing a lot of weight. I simply couldn't afford enough calories of so-called "healthy" foods to maintain my daily level of energy output. And sure, I needed to lose weight to begin with, but I couldn't continue doing so and remain in decent short-term health.

I would have faced imminent malnutrition on that route, so I started seeking out "unhealthy" foods (because in the US middle class, these foods are too abundant and people overindulge), simply in order to maintain my weight. Of course, this meant eating fried foods or stuff with gratuitous bacon in it or whatever, which will have negative long-term effects due to the amount of cholesterol and saturated fat I was consuming. But it was basically a choice between that in the vague future and becoming unhealthily malnourished on a fruit and vegetable diet in the immediate present.

Of course, now I am again in the US and working a reasonably high-paying job, and so I have the luxury of being able to choose between short-term pleasure at long-term cost, or eating healthy and losing weight and being better off down the road. But again, this is a luxury, and it is not a luxury enjoyed by the working poor trying to support two or more children on a single person's earnings. If you can spend a dollar or two to quickly fill your kids' bellies with food they actually enjoy enough to want to eat, you do it. Because that's preferable to spending a similar amount of money along with hours a week preparing food that doesn't actually satisfy anyone's appetite anyway. (And whether it tastes very good at all depends heavily on how much cooking you already know how to do, which isn't likely to be much if your parents were similarly situated and so didn't have tons of time to teach you how to cook, and which isn't likely to increase any time soon without access to so-called "free" information via an expensive computer and an internet connection you pay for every month.)
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Veracious Sole » Tue Mar 03, 2009 7:04 pm UTC

Belial wrote:
The idea that someone on welfare is incapable of preparing a meal due to time constraints is silly. Cooking doesn't take up so much time to render it an impossibility. Not unless the meal in question is a gourmet five-course extravaganza. Lets take a look at a basic spaghetti dinner:


Which is fine if you want to live on pasta, and that's meeting your nutritional needs.

As someone further up the page pointed out, when you look at calories and nutrition for the dollar, tv dinners pretty much win. Especially if you also factor in time.


Pasta being one of many examples and not the end all be all of cheap quick foods. There are a plethora of foods that a person could cook on a restrictive budget. All which could be done with little or no supervision. Of course, you pointed out that some TV dinners have a higher caloric count. Yeah, that's true for some TV dinners. Not all, and not compared to all the potential readily available foods out there. Hell, if we were basing this on caloric content alone. You may as well just grab a cup of butter and chow down. That's over a thousand calories, no preparation time, and at half the cost of a TV dinner! Poor people rejoice!

Eating foods other than TV dinners won't put you at risk for malnutrition. I'm not arguing that being poor sucks, but saying that microwaveable crap is your only option suggests that you don't know what the hell you're talking about. Cheers!
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby MartianInvader » Tue Mar 03, 2009 7:40 pm UTC

Remember when this thread was only one step off topic? We were talking about taxes then. And we got to someone arguing that taxes were too high because people game the welfare system.

My question is this: Suppose you're right about welfare. Suppose lots of people who don't need it are abusing the system and being lazy. Why does lowering taxes help?

If there's too many people abusing welfare, maybe we should have more oversight, or change requirements to make it to make it harder to cheat, or whatever. But if we just cut its funding across the board via a tax cut, then who's going to lose their welfare, and who's going to keep it? People who know how to play the system are going to be all over the new rules to get their checks, while the poor honest folk that actually need welfare are going to be thrown to the curb in even greater proportion than before. I've never understood why welfare cheats always seem to be the standard argument against taxes, when as far as I can tell it means there should be more funding so that there can be more oversight.
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Indon » Tue Mar 03, 2009 8:23 pm UTC

dwalb wrote:yes, i agree. Lets continue on this chain of thought.

If the govt stopped forcing the 'salvation of humanity', then people would suffer. And there would be a need for REAL charity.

Those who give charity never need to give it. That's what makes it charitable.

Charity is not a product which adheres to principles of supply and demand because, by definition, it can not be paid for (so by market principles, there is no demand). Thus, charity is not managable through a market structure (because an efficient market would respond to a lack of demand with a lack of supply - the only way charity can be supplied is when the market is not working). Period, end of story.

The sole alternative to a market structure is a directed structure such as government.

To reiterate: Market structure automatically fails at charity. Government doesn't. So government's better.

dwalb wrote:The current welfare system is hugely abused. I have a problem with my tax money paying for carts of tv dinners and fruit roll ups. There's no oversight. People return year after year to welfare, doing all they can to stay unemployed, so that the govt will continue to foot the bill. The govt has no good way to handle that problem. Sure they've implemented controls, and paperwork. There is still a massive abuse of it going on.

This is not indicative of a problem with welfare in general.

This is indicative of a problem with a specific implementation of welfare.

Let's look at things with the every-person-is-self-interested (aka homo economicus) view of an economist. Say you make 100 dollars a week from welfare. You can only engage in minimum-wage labor at 5 dollars an hour because you have no education or job skills.

Your options may look like:
Work 40 hours and make 200 dollars in a week.

Don't work and make 100 dollars in a week.

Note that working 40 additional hours makes only 100 additional dollars - the added value of your work is only half the minimum wage. It's not a smart system that encourages people to not work like that.

A better system would be one that, instead of totally cutting benefits for employment, slowly reduces benefits as income increases. This way, there's no sudden drop in the utility of added income encouraging people not to work. One awesome proposal I've seen for this (courtesy of Vaniver) is a negative income tax.

See how a bit of science applied to a system fixes problems with the system, allowing you to obtain the system's benefits for vastly reduced costs? It's awesome.
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Vaniver » Wed Mar 04, 2009 1:26 am UTC

Indon wrote:Charity is not a product which adheres to principles of supply and demand because, by definition, it can not be paid for (so by market principles, there is no demand). Thus, charity is not managable through a market structure (because an efficient market would respond to a lack of demand with a lack of supply - the only way charity can be supplied is when the market is not working). Period, end of story.

The sole alternative to a market structure is a directed structure such as government.

To reiterate: Market structure automatically fails at charity. Government doesn't. So government's better.
Well... not really.
That's if you look at the need as the supply, not the response. If you look at the response as the supply, and charitable givers as the demand, you get a better view of the humanitarian industry. And turning to government invites a number of market failures- monopoly provider (sort of), captive markets (if the government wants to provide people with homes, I can't say "nope, I'd rather give them medical care or food or high-density shelter"), and so on.

Indon wrote:One awesome proposal I've seen for this (courtesy of Vaniver) is a negative income tax.
All credit for that goes to Milton Friedman.
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Garm » Wed Mar 04, 2009 3:30 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:
Indon wrote:One awesome proposal I've seen for this (courtesy of Vaniver) is a negative income tax.
All credit for that goes to Milton Friedman.


Which just goes to show that even the progenitor of shock and awe capitalism wasn't a huge douche. He understood that people needed to be able to feed themselves if they wanted to get ahead.
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Indon » Wed Mar 04, 2009 5:09 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:Well... not really.
That's if you look at the need as the supply, not the response. If you look at the response as the supply, and charitable givers as the demand, you get a better view of the humanitarian industry. And turning to government invites a number of market failures- monopoly provider (sort of), captive markets (if the government wants to provide people with homes, I can't say "nope, I'd rather give them medical care or food or high-density shelter"), and so on.

If you view charity as 'buying good feelings', and I think that's what you're getting at, then you've made charity a luxury good, which introduces all sorts of other problems.

Specifically, the supply-demand relationship still has nothing to do with how much trouble people are actually in that could be helped by charity, and charity is probably not the only way to satisfy that supply-demand relationship (being money for emotional or moral satisfaction) and furthermore probably isn't the most effective way to do so - for instance, less effective forms of charity (such as moral crusading for censorship) could concievably satisfy the supply/demand relationship better than more effective forms of charity (helping drug addicts).

Edit: You could even say that this phenomenon helps fund social conservatism.
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Vaniver » Sat Mar 07, 2009 4:41 pm UTC

Garm wrote:Which just goes to show that even the progenitor of shock and awe capitalism wasn't a huge douche. He understood that people needed to be able to feed themselves if they wanted to get ahead.
Thomas Sowell wrote:Liberals seem to assume that, if you don't believe in their particular political solutions, then you don't really care about the people that they claim to want to help.


Indon wrote:If you view charity as 'buying good feelings', and I think that's what you're getting at, then you've made charity a luxury good, which introduces all sorts of other problems.
That depends on how you defined luxury good and necessity. The limited research I've seen suggests that the lower your income, the higher percentage of it you donate to charity- which would suggest that buying good feelings is a necessary good, not a luxury.

But yes, the economic view of charity looks at who has the economic power, not who has the need. But, since they're the decision-makers and we're interested in decisions, it seems like a useful way to look at things.

We also don't have to deal with objectivity- perhaps you think that we should minimize the people suffering from hunger, while I think that we should minimize the number of species going extinct, and a third person thinks we should minimize the number of children born to single mothers, and another person thinks we should minimize the number of people out of work. There's no objective way to determine which one of those goals is more noble- and it seems pretty selfish to say "society, my goal is the right goal."
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby william » Sat Mar 07, 2009 11:48 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
Garm wrote:Which just goes to show that even the progenitor of shock and awe capitalism wasn't a huge douche. He understood that people needed to be able to feed themselves if they wanted to get ahead.
Thomas Sowell wrote:Liberals seem to assume that, if you don't believe in their particular political solutions, then you don't really care about the people that they claim to want to help.

We're not saying that you don't care*. We're saying that you don't understand.

*although if you want me to pull up some nasty quotes, I can do that.
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby athelas » Sun Mar 08, 2009 4:46 am UTC

william wrote:We're not saying that you don't care*. We're saying that you don't understand.

You don't call people douches for being ignorant.

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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Garm » Sun Mar 08, 2009 7:42 am UTC

I think that's a pretty interesting statement by Sowell. I kind of wish it were more true. The Republicans did their biannual populist dance this last year. Backed by Palin's incomprehensible rhetoric (I'm loathe to call it that) they tried to paint the democrats as a bunch of elitist sissy boys or rich dykes. Several months later and they've pivoted to backing Rick Santelli's overtly classist rant shown live on CNBC. "Where's the love for the rich guy" is the new Republican message. Or rather they've just reverted back to the message they've been running on for essentially the last 30 years. So sure, I'd be glad to agree with Sowell and say the Republicans cared about the poor if they'd spent any time since Regan doing anything to help. The vast majority of economic legislation coming from the Republicans is targeted at the rich. I've posted graphs, statistics and links in other threads that show that while the rich are doing great, everyone else is going downhill. Can't really say that's showing much regard for those who are struggling, can you?

I think that's because Republicans (and here, as always we're talking about pluralities, I'm sure there are some repubs/conservatives who do care about the poor) don't really care about the bottom 80% of the country. Their primary constituency is the top 20% of the country. Over on 538.com, Nate Silver showed that if only people under the poverty line were to vote, the Dems would win in 46 states. If only the rich were to vote the Dems win in maybe 10. What's that tell us? The poor think the Dems are on their side and I think the economic policies espoused by the republicans bear with this idea. When push comes to shove and the economy goes south, the republican congressmen puff up their chests, call upon the middle class to make economic sacrifices and then trot out some legislation to lower dividend taxes. How's the caring for 80% of the country? The tax-cut laden "stimulus" bill that was purposed by McConnel and Boehner's crew in response to Obama's hotly debated package would have cost about three times as much in the long run compared to what was actually passed.

Further proof of the uncaring nature of republican/conservative fiscal policy can be seen currently. The failure of the last eight years (30 years?) of economic leadership is manifest. We are facing a horrible crisis. We lost something near 700,000 jobs last month alone. The vast majority of these lost jobs are coming from the construction and manufacturing sectors, areas were a four year degree is the exception, not the norm. Have the republicans forwarded any ideas to aid these workers? Not really, no. Instead they're arguing about how best to protect the salaries being paid to the people who helped get us into this mess. That's not caring, that's hoping for kickbacks and a cushy post senate career. So I don't really think it's much of an assumption to say that by and large, republicans don't really care about poor people. Come up with an idea other than trickle down and maybe I'll reconsider.
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Sun Mar 08, 2009 10:13 pm UTC

Garm, aren't you falling into a similar trap there that Sowell outlined? Everyone who's not a liberal does not agree with current Republican leadership, as far as I'm aware most people regardless of political category do not agree with them.

The income divide bit you laid out doesn't exactly reek of accuracy either. While it's true that if you look at the extremes of income there's heavy stratification between the parties, but middle income groups are much more divided.

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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Bakemaster » Mon Mar 09, 2009 1:33 am UTC

Bubbles McCoy wrote:The income divide bit you laid out doesn't exactly reek of accuracy either. While it's true that if you look at the extremes of income there's heavy stratification between the parties...

Make up your mind; do you agree with him, or don't you? Because that's pretty much the exact point 538 was making.
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Mon Mar 09, 2009 2:20 am UTC

I was objecting to this -
Garm wrote:I think that's because Republicans don't really care about the bottom 80% of the country.

And how he goes on to detail how the only people who constitute the Republican party are that 20%. Support is wider then that, it's not as limited as Garm seemed to indicate. The very poorest may support the democrats in force, but the very poorest aren't aren't 80% of the country.

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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Bakemaster » Mon Mar 09, 2009 2:24 am UTC

Not yet, anyway.
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Mon Mar 09, 2009 2:35 am UTC

Hardy har har.

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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Indon » Mon Mar 09, 2009 4:21 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:That depends on how you defined luxury good and necessity. The limited research I've seen suggests that the lower your income, the higher percentage of it you donate to charity- which would suggest that buying good feelings is a necessary good, not a luxury.

In which case, the argument that government services reduce the supply of charity, and thus that private charity could replace government charity (as it clearly does not do so now, and if government services do not reduce the supply of charity, than removing them can not be expected to significantly increase that supply) strikes me as inapplicable, and the discussion is entirely moot.

Vaniver wrote:But yes, the economic view of charity looks at who has the economic power, not who has the need. But, since they're the decision-makers and we're interested in decisions, it seems like a useful way to look at things.

But the criteria of the decisions being made have no relevance to what the decision choices are.

Vaniver wrote:We also don't have to deal with objectivity- perhaps you think that we should minimize the people suffering from hunger, while I think that we should minimize the number of species going extinct, and a third person thinks we should minimize the number of children born to single mothers, and another person thinks we should minimize the number of people out of work. There's no objective way to determine which one of those goals is more noble- and it seems pretty selfish to say "society, my goal is the right goal."


Government contains mechanisms for collective decision-making that markets can not be expected to provide - and ultimately, since charity is about improving things for people, there is an objective element that must be addressed through such collective decision-making. Some forms of charity suck, in objective terms, but reap in money anyway in a private market (example: evangelism) for various reasons (such as, as noted earlier, providing the 'product' involved in charity, which is just good feelings and has nothing whatsoever to do with making an impact).

To reiterate and build upon that point, because I think it's really important: An ideal, free-market charity industry would accomplish nothing in objective terms, because the industry's purpose is not to accomplish anything, but to make people feel good in a certain way (and ideally, these companies would gravitate towards making people feel good with as little expense as possible). In such a view, actual effects from charity is equatable with profit. As such, everything private charity accomplishes is due to market inefficiencies.
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Garm » Mon Mar 09, 2009 4:45 pm UTC

Bubbles McCoy wrote:I was objecting to this -
Garm wrote:I think that's because Republicans don't really care about the bottom 80% of the country.

And how he goes on to detail how the only people who constitute the Republican party are that 20%. Support is wider then that, it's not as limited as Garm seemed to indicate. The very poorest may support the democrats in force, but the very poorest aren't aren't 80% of the country.


That's not my point at all. Sowell is whining about how people say Republicans don't care about the poor. That's essentially what he's saying. I can understand where he's coming from. There is a certain attractiveness to taking rhetoric to its logical extreme. The Democratic party forwards legislation like Wick, food stamps or even SCHIP that uses tax dollars to help those less fortunate. When the Republicans vote against the bill it might seem logical to right to turn around and say the Republicans don't care about the poor. So there certainly is that vein of thought and rhetoric within the Democratic party. There's no denying it. Sowell's complaint contains an implied defense which is what I take issue with. He says "Liberals seem to assume..." by which he insinuates that they're wrong in this assumption. So... he's implying here that republicans/conservatives actually do want to help the same people that liberals do but through different means. Again, that would be totally fine but the evidence doesn't support that statement in any way. At least insofar as it relates to the people who are not rich.
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:12 pm UTC

First off, you're overgeneralizing the parties - Sowell's distinctly talking about anyone who is not a liberal (he'd probably be loathe to consider himself a Republican), not just Republicans. Secondly, and what is probably his main point, is that not supporting food stamps does not mean you hate the poor, it just means you don't support food stamps. There are many ways to try to alleviate poverty, and while true that government intervention on a wide scale is the most visible and large effort that could be mounted, it is not necessarily the most effective. Also, volunteering part of your income towards poverty means more than volunteering someone else's income, even if the later has a larger dollar value attached to it. That's not to say that government shouldn't necessarily get invovled, but tread carefully when judging other people's motives.

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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Belial » Mon Mar 09, 2009 10:56 pm UTC

Bubbles McCoy wrote:Also, volunteering part of your income towards poverty means more than volunteering someone else's income, even if the later has a larger dollar value attached to it.


False dichotomy. The actual choice is between volunteering part of your income or volunteering part of your income and part of everyone else's (and only if a sufficient number of them agree).

Or were you under the impression that only those who voted *against* the programs actually had to pay for them? I agree, that system would be problematic.
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Tue Mar 10, 2009 3:22 am UTC

This is no false dichotomy, Garm was launching a rather critical attack on the top 20% for not caring about poor people due to their history of not voting democratic. Seeing as this group pays what, 80% of tax returns?- it is perfectly fair to claim that this group is not somehow inherently uncaring for the poor if they do not wish to have higher taxes, which would inevitably land on their shoulders, to pay for larger programs.

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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Garm » Tue Mar 10, 2009 4:08 am UTC

Bubbles McCoy wrote:This is no false dichotomy, Garm was launching a rather critical attack on the top 20% for not caring about poor people due to their history of not voting democratic. Seeing as this group pays what, 80% of tax returns?- it is perfectly fair to claim that this group is not somehow inherently uncaring for the poor if they do not wish to have higher taxes, which would inevitably land on their shoulders, to pay for larger programs.


Sigh... I was attacking Sowell's insinuated defense of recent policy. I'm not suggesting that we make the top 20% of earners in the U.S. pay for the lifestyles of the other 80%. I'm saying that criticizing recent conservative economic policy is totally justified, even with such extreme rhetoric as "Republican's don't care about the poor." I presented some evidence in order to show that the previous statement wasn't unwarranted. So if I were to say something in this vein I would say "most republicans don't care about the poor". (of course this isn't totally true. There has to be a group of disadvantaged folk for the religious right to be charitable at. And I think this statement could be broadened somehow to include libertarians who favor a flat tax but then I'd have to include a disclaimer for those who don't understand the idea of regressive taxation... but I digress). I think this would be much less in error than Sowell's statement that "Most people on the left are not opposed to freedom. They are just in favor of all sorts of things that are incompatible with freedom."
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Tue Mar 10, 2009 5:12 am UTC

That quote's probably twenty years old... Vaniver only brought it up in defense of non-liberalism as a whole in relation to the poor.

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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby aleflamedyud » Wed Mar 11, 2009 12:55 am UTC

Heisenberg wrote:Numbers disagree with Obama? Clearly mathematics is biased.

I think this article is suggesting that it's unlikely President Obama will stand by his "no tax increases under 1/4 million" claim. Even throughout the campaign we heard that number drop lower and lower. We'll probably see a substantial tax increase affecting a large number of Americans.

Am I the only one who thinks that making people who earn $100,000-$250,000 a year pay more taxes really won't be all that bad? Or, God forbid, even tax the upper middle class a bit?
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby TheStranger » Wed Mar 11, 2009 2:06 am UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:Am I the only one who thinks that making people who earn $100,000-$250,000 a year pay more taxes really won't be all that bad? Or, God forbid, even tax the upper middle class a bit?


There is a careful balance there though... the people in that tax bracket are an important part of the economic system (as investors and small business owners).

I'm also generally opposed to raising taxes unless absolutely necessary... as well as targeting taxes to specific income groups just because they have more... the burden should be carried across the population (proportionally).
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby MrGee » Wed Mar 11, 2009 3:37 am UTC

Yeah, the problem with taxes is that they stifle economic activity, no matter what you do with the money. If no one can make a good wage, they won't work.

Here's a thinker for you: I know a guy on welfare because of some sort of mild mental disorder. He spends half his check on bills and the other half on drugs and alcohol, destroying what few brain cells he has left. Does that mean he's gaming the system, or that he's a hopeless case that the government has magnanimously decided to help?

Also note:

-We do have a phased negative income tax. It's called the Earned Income Tax Credit.

-You can't get on welfare without being old, disabled, or a parent. You can't even get food stamps without being dirt poor.

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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Indon » Wed Mar 11, 2009 5:25 am UTC

TheStranger wrote:I'm also generally opposed to raising taxes unless absolutely necessary... as well as targeting taxes to specific income groups just because they have more... the burden should be carried across the population (proportionally).


There's been discussion on this forum (in SB, if I recall) about if tax benefit increases proportional to income, or increases slower or faster (in order to discuss the 'justness' of progressive vs. flat or regressive taxation). My connection right now is really bad, so I'll just note that such a topic was discussed, and it was an interesting conversation (though, I can't really say any conclusive decisions were made from what I remember, just some good talking points and then, like many problems, we ran into the limits of what we knew).
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Garm » Wed Mar 11, 2009 6:04 am UTC

MrGee wrote:Yeah, the problem with taxes is that they stifle economic activity, no matter what you do with the money. If no one can make a good wage, they won't work.


But there was an immense amount of positive business growth under Clinton with the "high" tax rates and negative growth under Bush with his ginormous tax cuts.
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby william » Wed Mar 11, 2009 8:32 am UTC

Garm wrote:
MrGee wrote:Yeah, the problem with taxes is that they stifle economic activity, no matter what you do with the money. If no one can make a good wage, they won't work.


But there was an immense amount of positive business growth under Clinton with the "high" tax rates and negative growth under Bush with his ginormous tax cuts.

Not to mention the 50s were fairly good and the top marginal tax rate then was something like 90%.
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Wed Mar 11, 2009 8:49 am UTC

But tax revenue as a percent of GDP hovered around 20% for all of these years (well, it hit 22% at the peak of the boom under Clinton but for the most part, 20%), and we did have a decent amount of growth under Bush. If we actually forced more money from the economy, you'd likely see more negative effects.

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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Garm » Wed Mar 11, 2009 3:14 pm UTC

Bubbles McCoy wrote:But tax revenue as a percent of GDP hovered around 20% for all of these years (well, it hit 22% at the peak of the boom under Clinton but for the most part, 20%), and we did have a decent amount of growth under Bush. If we actually forced more money from the economy, you'd likely see more negative effects.


If by decent amount of growth under Bush you mean that the GDP continued to increase monotonically as it has since WWII (until this last quarter). Keep in mind that this increase in the GDP was extremely anemic under Bush II. He also oversaw a decrease in actual wages since inflation outpaced wage growth and an explosion in consumer debt. Bush II was unable to create enough jobs to keep up with population growth. Really I'd say he was an abject failure. Don't forget that one portion of GDP calculation is government spending. We've been spending billions of dollars every month in Iraq, money that's kept off the budget by accounting practices but is more than likely added to the GDP in order to inflate the value.
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Re: The 2% Illusion

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Wed Mar 11, 2009 11:06 pm UTC

It's somewhat disingenuous to claim that real wages declined, as with every other recession we have seen on modern history wages declined and then rose relative to inflation, claiming that wages were stagnant simply because peak-to-peak growth was relatively low is cherrypicking numbers. I don't see how you can say we didn't have enough jobs, 4.6% unemployment is perfectly healthy.

A chart -
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As to deficit spending propping up the GDP, the deficit did decline with time (for what it's worth) so I don't think that really counts as an excuse as to why there was growth under Bush. Granted his administration was an abject failure, but we have had worse failures.


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