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  1. #181
    Senior Member Jaguar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus View Post
    He has no more postable articles on the topic.

    My favorite part of the thread was when Rexy posted: "You're from the South, too, so it'd be interesting to hear how you feel trust between races could be built in practice." Then he posted an article written by Michael Nutter.

  2. #182
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wind-Up Rex View Post
    I delayed my response to reflect on the conversation thus far, and this post in particular. I believe you would have a difficult time finding anyone within the African-American community who would disagree with the bottom line that you've stated. Whatever issues we may have, we're Americans first, and that whole life, liberty and the pursuit business means as much to us as anyone. Perhaps even more given our history.

    If our goals are the same and even our view of the major roadblocks are the same, then there must be some compelling reason that most African-Americans don't see eye to eye with most white Conservatives about how to overcome those obstacles. Those disagreements are rooted in a radically different historical and cultural experience that has informed a strongly divergent understanding of what will constitute a solution. Anyone seeking to create legislation that will meaningfully impact the obstacles we face has to take that perspective into consideration, or your policies will be doomed to failure. In other words, as @Coriolis put it so succinctly, the issue with most Conservative policies in this area are that they are one size fits all, while people’s problems are not.

    Let’s take welfare as a case in point:



    What you’re describing here is a fairly stereotypical example of a liberal welfare regime: it’s based on the notion of market dominance and private provision; ideally, the state only interferes to ameliorate poverty and provide for basic needs, largely on a means-tested basis. While a liberal regime seeks to ensure that the government dependency of welfare recipients does not exceed their dependency upon their ability to make commodities of their own labor, it also reinforces social stratification within the society.

    No matter what kind of welfare regime you have, you’re going to impact the existing social order through the redistribution of wealth. For instance, liberal mechanisms like mean-testing draw distinctions between the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor. The history of the US, however, has shown that this stratification has been more directed towards maintaining racial divisions, than socio-economic ones. As I mentioned, in an earlier post, the earliest social security programs were deliberately designed in such a way that African-Americans were excluded. More recently, there have been studies that have examined state’s post 1996 welfare reform that have espoused a “get tough” attitude on welfare, indicating a correlation between low benefits in states and the percentage of that state’s population which was African-American. These analyses concluded that the correlation has nothing to do with the state’s ability to provide funding, or anti-welfare attitudes within these states, but ultimately could only be explained by hostility within the state towards African-Americans.

    The welfare example spills into the larger point I am trying to make that if your true goal is your stated one, then you’re not using the right means to achieve it policy-wise. You can’t contend with poverty in a real way without contending with race just as meaningfully. History has also shown this. The Great Society programs enacted by LBJ made the elimination of poverty and racial injustice its expressed aims. These programs expanded access to benefits to aid, pouring funding into education, housing, and community action in urban ghettos. This investment in black communities was directly responsible for the rise of the black middle class, the redistribution of political power in the Deep South from local Machines to black activist, and ultimately curbing some of the worst kinds of racial discrimination and some of the most obvious racial disparities across states.


    Social programs can work for us if they’re both properly funded, and speak directly to the obstacles that race creates for us, not incidentally. This is what I mean when I say that your party lacks the credibility to take on welfare reform. Talking to you and other conservatives there’s this feeling like you say the words, but you have no idea what they mean. And frankly, we don’t expect you to because you haven’t lived it. But to acknowledge racial inequality and then espouse policies like it has no practical consequence is just the height of arrogance. Then, when you put these policies that by no means incorporate the reality of the situation into place and they don’t work out, or they only make things worse, then suddenly it’s our fault. We’re the ones who are lazy or stupid or trying to “game the system”. It is absolutely infuriating.


    I say all this to say again that it is in your interest as an aspiring policy maker to continue to have the kinds of conversations that you and I are having right now. You don’t always have to agree, you don’t always have to understand, but it is imperative that you at least listen. You cannot compartmentalize policy: the social has ramifications for the political, the political the economic, the economic the social and so forth. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt that given your stated ends, you were not aware of the impact of the policy you prescribed. This issue on the macro level is the biggest one that Republicans faces with nonwhite voters. We assume that you’re not stupid and must recognize the consequence for the policies that you support will benefit only a privileged few, or actively do damage to a great many. There’s the natural suspicion that when you talk about freedom and agency you ain’t talking about us, or you wouldn’t support things that work so perfectly against our interests.


    That is coupled with the fact that Republicans represent a very different mentality about society and how we ought to contribute to it. Namely, a history of deprivation has led minorities to be proponents of positive rights in most cases. The Conservative mindset revolves around negative ones. That again is a function of history—if you have everything (i.e., rights and access), then all you need is for someone else not to get in your way. Blacks don’t have the luxury of that point of view when formally or informally basic human dignities have been denied to us, and we’ve had to fight just to have the space to exist as ourselves. The Conservative view assumes that space is already there and will always be there unless it’s encroached upon by something external. I think that common ground can be found between the two viewpoints if the Conservative doesn’t view the expansion of positive rights for a minority to come at the expense of his or her own negative rights.


    That brings me to the fundamental point that I want to make. I think the only way that society works is if everyone feels responsible for everyone else on some level. It’s not just enough to “get yours” no matter who you are. There has to be some point where we as Americans can look not just at our Constitution, but to the esprit of life, liberty and the pursuit and ask what we’ve done to insure it not only for ourselves, but for all, respectful of the individual circumstances of their lives. For a Conservative white man, that would mean understanding the rights and opportunities that contribute to that “free space” he seeks to preserve for himself through his belief in negative liberty, so that he can support the policies that would extend them to others as well. For a Liberal black woman, that means doing what I can to continue to rectify inequality as I understand it for all groups, and while supporting the policies that actively further that end also recognizing where gains have been achieved. I believe that is the sturdiest common ground for Liberals and Conservatives from which to discuss any sort of policy, but policy which touches on race in particular.
    The point you make about us not having lived it is important.

    Given that my inexperience with the system precludes me from being able to offer satisfactory policy proposals I'll put the ball back in your court.

    Our fiscal straits require that something be done on government spending generally, and entitlements/welfare specifically.

    My goals as a conservative are first and foremost to get the percentage of GDP that the government spends in borrowed dollars every year (including interest on those dollars previously borrowed) to a sustainable level .

    Our most recent budget proposes to do this in 10 years which I would agree is too soon. However, stuck between a budget proposal that eventually balances the budget and one that doesn't (ever) I'm going to prefer the one that balances (on a purely academic level because I don't have to worry about the Republican budget passing and the negative effects it would have). Given that reality I support the budget because it focuses on balancing the budget period, not because of how, or how soon it does it.

    The most fundamental problem I have with the current system is that there is frequently no incentive to work more for fear of losing more valuable benefits. This feeds into my worry that many of those that came up with the welfare state, and continue to maintain it, have no interest (or incentive) to make the system as effective as it can be in lifting the poor out of poverty. At the most basic level declining numbers of voters dependent on gov't benefits would not benefit the Democrats electorally.

    Given the state of affairs currently that I fear locks many into a permanently dependent underclass, and the needs of the country to spend less I would like to hear how you would reform the system given your much greater experience with it. A good starting place would probably be bureaucratic streamlining, which also faces stiff opposition because the jobs that would be lost are yet again Democratic votes.

    We need to spend less, and provide the dependent with every incentive we can to lift themselves out of poverty, and the byzantine nature of the bureaucracy needs to be addressed.

    How would you address these issues?

    EDIT - take a look at this article and let me know what you think.

    The Unfinished Work of Welfare Reform

  3. #183
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus View Post
    We have had religion, guns, and general political views. Are there any topics left we disagree about?
    How do you feel about cocktail umbrellas?


  4. #184
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wind-Up Rex View Post
    If our goals are the same and even our view of the major roadblocks are the same, then there must be some compelling reason that most African-Americans don't see eye to eye with most white Conservatives about how to overcome those obstacles. Those disagreements are rooted in a radically different historical and cultural experience that has informed a strongly divergent understanding of what will constitute a solution. Anyone seeking to create legislation that will meaningfully impact the obstacles we face has to take that perspective into consideration, or your policies will be doomed to failure. In other words, as @Coriolis put it so succinctly, the issue with most Conservative policies in this area are that they are one size fits all, while people’s problems are not.

    What you’re describing here is a fairly stereotypical example of a liberal welfare regime: it’s based on the notion of market dominance and private provision; ideally, the state only interferes to ameliorate poverty and provide for basic needs, largely on a means-tested basis. While a liberal regime seeks to ensure that the government dependency of welfare recipients does not exceed their dependency upon their ability to make commodities of their own labor, it also reinforces social stratification within the society.
    To be accurate, liberal policies are often just as one-size-fits-all, and often ineffective as long-term solutions. To take the example about 150% or 200% of poverty level: the buying power of that income will vary with many factors, including location, family size, and medical needs, to name a few. As a means test, it will exclude people who really need the help, and perhaps include others who don't. The only way around this is to administer assistance on a local level, where the person making decisions on what a family receives can see the totality of that family's needs and resources. We cannot replace the judgment of human beings with a numerical look-up table. This will probably cost more in the short term, being more labor intensive (a few jobs for those displaced by reduction in bureaucracy), but should save money in the longer term by getting people financially independent faster, and paying only for what they really need in the interim.

    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    We need to spend less, and provide the dependent with every incentive we can to lift themselves out of poverty, and the byzantine nature of the bureaucracy needs to be addressed.
    Yes on all counts, except that the incentives must really pan out once the person puts out the requisite effort. Spending less can't be a priority at first, however, for the reasons outlined above. As with anything else, we get what we pay for, and a cut-rate approach to reducing poverty brings limited results.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  5. #185
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    How do kids get into college? They take tests.

    How do they get certified for their career? They take tests.

    How are they evaluated once in those careers? Their performance is evaluated.
    I'm not sure where you are working or attending school. I have been admitted to 3 universities in my lifetime (and accepted to several others), and my admission was on the basis of much more than tests. The tests were almost a formality. I have never been tested in connection with a job application. My performance evaluations have always entailed a holistic examination of my abilities and contribution to the organization, made by people who spend the time and effort to understand what I really do. If teacher evaluations were conducted in a similar manner, they would be a constructive addition to promotion and professional development. I would actually favor the use of some kind of peer review, in conjunction with review by an administrator who is given the time to do the job right. Overreliance on standardized tests/metrics is no better for teachers than students.

    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    It's amazing how resistant teachers are to getting feedback on how well they are doing their jobs.
    No, it is amazing how their attempts are thwarted when they try to respond to the feedback they get.

    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    At the end of the day this is about not wanting teachers to be evaluated at all. :
    At the end of the day it is about measuring something that is worth measuring, in a way that obtains accurate results.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  6. #186
    Senior Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    How do you feel about cocktail umbrellas?

    They are in the same category as bubble gum paper, of small things I enjoy playing with when sitting at a table. In this way, they are good; in pretty much every other way, they are useless.

  7. #187
    Senior Member Bamboo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    ...
    For the record, there is a long and storied tradition of misattributing the letter F in place of TH to Will Smith in specific, and there's little doubt of its racist origins, ... People even call him Will Smiff on racist websites. ... but IMO the cigar explanation is a little naive given the internet's history of adding Fs to Will Smith's words. Although IMO it's entirely possible that the person who created that meme DID think it was funny because of the cigar, and didn't "mean it like that" either, for the same reasons you guys didn't see it, but that the racist shit just got reused and repackaged enough times that its racist origins were no longer apparent.

    ...
    Makes sense now that I'm seeing what you're talking about with the links and things.

    I guess I don't know a whole lot (read: anything) about Will Smith specific racism. Or memes, except that I like cats.

    And this:
    similar to "Ah So" being attributed to Asians.
    That's a thing? Well ok then. I guess I don't spend enough time hitting up racist internet sites.

    But to clarify:
    I think it's commendable that the thought never occurred to many of you because your minds are unsullied by racism in any form,
    I don't know about anyone else but I wouldn't claim to be unsullied...at least I thought I knew racist things. You're really making me question if I'm a good enough racist here, this is heart wrenching stuff.

    And...
    But denying that something you didn't even make could possibly be racist or could be derived from racism... I don't think that's necessarily a good thing.
    ...yes
    Don't know how much it'll bend til it breaks.

  8. #188
    my floof is luxury Wind Up Rex's Avatar
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    @DiscoBiscuit

    I think the first to do is to define what we’re talking about when we’re discussing the welfare state. Any number of categories of spending can come under that umbrella, and their distributional impact varies enormously. Means-tested government spending on the 79 programs providing cash, food, housing social services, training and targeted education for low-income families (not including Medicaid) is small relative to most other transfers (<2% of GDP), and has had a fairly level spending trend from the 1970s (1.3% in 1976) to present (ditto for 2011). Even at the height of the Great Recession, we were only spending ~1.7% of GDP on these kinds of programs. Of our major gov expenditures—defense, healthcare and social security—the only one that really impacts the poor is healthcare via Medicaid, which is rough 4-5% of GDP. CBO projects spending on means-tested programs to fall as the economy continues to recover, but Medicaid to increase as the ACA expands coverage.

    To be frank, I have only a cursory understanding of poverty in the US as my background pertained more to studying these issues globally. Honestly, for all that I had to play Devil’s advocate first, I’m not really in disagreement with you. I believe that the only long-term solution to poverty is wealth creation. That has been the experience of countries from China to Botswana. You can’t redistribute your way out of poverty, but you can teach people the skillset and create the opportunities necessary to become more productive. That’s the only long-term fix. There are a couple of things that I would target to effect that goal.

    1. Bolster human capital

    If a person’s wealth breaks down to a) their income generating ability, b) less liabilities, c) plus assets, then the starting point should be increasing productivity. The federal means-tested programs I described above should be viewed as the front line of that process. I’d begin the reform process, however, by rationalizing those 79 programs down to one, and doing away with means-testing altogether.

    The single federal program would have two primary objectives: 1) provision of access to education and technical assistance with an eye to long-term employment, and 2) ensuring well-being until 1) has been obtained. (I think that outside of such a program major education reform is needed [and we’re not exactly home free on healthcare either], specifically increasing more student’s ability to graduate with a tradable skill and greater depth of knowledge of STEM subjects, but my knowledge of the area is superficial at best.) 2) should cover the needs that everyone has a right to—food, shelter, and healthcare—and anyone who participates in the program should be eligible.

    Eliminating means testing for social programs does a couple of things. First, it would cut down on some of the overhead costs associated with the administration of the programs. Second, universalizing these programs would eliminate the social stigma associated them. Eliminating stigma would cut down on some of the issues of resentment that you mentioned as it is probable as many middle income as lower income people could be beneficiaries. (It also has the potential to make such programs a viable alternative to traditional secondary education.) Finally and most significantly, it would eliminate the disincentive for work created by the implicit marginal tax penalty on people who make just enough to no longer qualify for federal assistance programs. Everyone stands to gain when eligibility revolve around outcomes rather than strictly income.

    Acknowledging the fact that the states have a spotty track record when it comes to administering these projects equitably, I feel that some sort of federal-communal partnership would be ideal. The federal government would create a network of local service providers who would also be responsible for setting benchmarks for outcomes.

    2. Increase viability of opportunities

    One of the most insightful things I’ve ever read about why welfare and entitlements are so out of control was written by our own @Jonnyboy. The big takeaway for me from that post was that even people who are able to get jobs get positions that don’t pay a living wage, lack benefits, or both. Reforming the safety net is not enough to make low-income people self-sufficient, wealth creators. They need a living wage. They need affordable health care. The private sector is only able to avoid providing those things because the government is willing to pick up the tab. Eliminating that form of corporate welfare ought to be part of any plan for poverty alleviation.

    It’s hard for me to really care about belly aching about increased marginal costs de-incentivizing hiring when corporate profits have been at record highs for the past ten years. I’m ok with them taking the hit on this one. And it’s not like they lose out completely on this: increasing the supply of labor with a skillset relevant to the needs of the current economy is bound to benefit the private sector. Incentives such as tax credits could also be introduced for companies who hire a certain number of program participants. Incorporating the private sector as stakeholders at the program level through partnerships and advisory roles would also be a way to make the public-private relationship more mutually beneficial. Program administrators get the benefit of being certain that their participants are getting a relevant skillset, and companies get a novel form of corporate social responsiblity that happens to fill positions that had previously been unfillable.

    3. Introduce financial instruments specifically designed for wealth creation among the low-income and educate on their use

    If income generation is the short term solution, then how to manage liabilities and acquire assets are the long-term components of this approach to poverty alleviation. As this post from the Economist discusses, low-income families frequently lack access to basic financial services, much less the credit necessary to acquire assets.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Economist
    Often low- and moderate-income families need a way to cash their check, they need a way to pay their bills, they need a way to save for the future, and they’ve cobbled together an interesting mix of bank and non-bank services to do that that are often more expensive and more costly than they need to be.
    This lack of access in conjunction with insufficient income and means-testing practices that de-incentivize savings are some of the primary reasons that the poor don’t save. This cannot be the case if the low-income are going to be wealth creators. Micro-lending is a great example of an innovative approach to this issue, but it’s only a start. If the government is interested in ending poverty, then it should make it a priority to work both with communal organizations and traditional retail banks to design services tailored to their needs.

    The greater challenge is naturally addressing the cultural aspect. The sort of self-destructive materialism that is pervasive not only in hip hop culture, but also glorified in a lot of mainstream pop culture isn’t going to go away overnight. What can be done to counteract it is educating on the importance of saving starting at a young age, and making financial literacy a cornerstone of an adequate primary education. That way even if a young person hears someone mistakenly conflating owning a Bentley with “having made it to the top” they can pity that person for their ignorance, rather than buying into their bullshit.

    Incentivizing savings could also be done, at least for recipients of federal assistance, by making putting away a small percentage of monthly income a mandatory for continued eligibility, and is yet another reason why means testing ought to be done away with.
    _________________________

    This is admittedly a touch sprawling, but it acknowledges the multi-faceted nature of poverty, and seeks to address it in a way that ought to be more impactful and cost-effective than what we’re doing now. I also think that the idea of transforming the poor into future “wealth-creators” would have appeal to both sides of the aisle. What do you think?
    And so long as you haven’t experienced this: to die and so to grow,
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  9. #189
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    haven't read all of the thread, but it's somehow making me think of the situations when someone says something that you think is perverted in some way and start giggling about it and then call them a perv... and they were innocent to whatever it was so YOU'RE the one who looks like a perv instead

    i.e.

    person 1, staring at massive steak on their plate: I can't handle all of that meat!

    person 2, giggles: you perv!

    person 1: what? for not being able to eat all of my steak? (sinks into innocent confusion)

    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett

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