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  1. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by KDude View Post
    It's not about deception. The problem is real and one people experience day-in, day-out. The root of the problem is inflation. The lower classes can't keep up with it, while the wealthy remain secure (beyond secure). Minimum wage in 1950, for example, was 75cents an hour. It sounds paltry, but the market itself allowed opportunity for even these low earnings. Rent would be around $40. That's a little over 50 hours of work. A week of work, for many people. A movie ticket: 50 Cents. Less than half an hour of work.

    Lets go to 2010. Minimum wage: $7.25. Rent is around $700-800 (give or take). Over a 100 hours of work, at least. A movie ticket: $8. Over an hour of work for your escapist entertainment needs. Might as well just pirate films, like most do. In any case, costs have doubled. Wages haven't. And forget about it if you live in a bigger city like NYC. Rent is over $1000. Anyone making money like this is crammed into a small space with with their relatives or friends (of course, min wage is higher in NYC, but still sucks).

    This goes without mentioning the amount of GIs after World War II, who benefited from entitlements like the GI Bill, got degrees, had opportunity to open small businesses, and could singlehandedly support a family. It effectively skyrocketed the middle class, and gave us the "traditional" image of the so called American Dream. None of this shit is possible now. We all want to "believe" in this dream, but dreams are fucking worthless. It took generous policies that made it happen.
    That unskilled labor has less value in real terms today than it did then given globalization, advancing tech, and a host of other factors.

    I wish it boiled down to what was fair, but it boils down to utility and the bottom line.

    At the moment I care more about more jobs than I do about fewer better paid jobs.

  2. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    That unskilled labor has less value in real terms today than it did then given globalization, advancing tech, and a host of other factors.
    Well then, either a nation tries to convert this unskilled labor in skilled one, or this nation is going to feel the increasing political pressure of people who can't make ends meet and thus demand transfers.
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  3. #73
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    Conservatives consider the welfare of the country as a whole more important than subsidizing decades of retirement for an elderly population that is living much longer, yet working no longer, than when that particular welfare program was created.
    Yes that is true

    Quote Originally Posted by cafe View Post
    $600-700 a month is adequate? Oy!

    I could be mistaken, but it seems to me when you actually know people that are in these circumstances, it makes a little bit of a difference in how you look at these things.

    Wages haven't gone up in about thirty years. A lot of people lost their home equity in the housing crash, which has historically made up a large part of the wealth of the less-than-wealthy. Pensions are virtually unheard of now.

    There are a lot of reasons why people don't have much if anything put back for retirement. Some of it is poor planning, in part influenced by a very consumer driven culture. Part of it is the erosion of the middle class. There are a lot of parts of it, but it's easier to just say they deserve it and go on our merry way.
    I have a pension, but agree with you generally here.

    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    At what point do national economic concerns, which have an effect on 100% of the populace outweigh concerns about subsidizing the lives of those at or below the poverty level?

    I understand the need for a social safety net, I'm just not so tied to it that I would rather see the economy tank than allow reforms that may change benefit levels, or narrow those that can qualify for the programs, or for that matter enforce a work requirement.
    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    Other countries systems are also not shaped like ours. If we pour more money into our currently broken system we will just make our structural problems larger.
    Exactly.

    I don't hold much hope for all of this. We have an increasingly competitive global economy. The US is struggling to maintain it's place in the world economically. Corporations implement whatever tactics they want within the law to be competitive and make more money. This includes eliminating pensions and offering retirees crappy deals to elinate their pension liability.

    There have always been rich people, poor people and people in between. I don't expect that to change.

    People are going to have to learn to fend for themselves - just as they have for the vast majority of human history before Franklin Roosvelt was elected and enacted the social welfare programs that we have today.

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  4. #74
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by highlander View Post
    I don't hold much hope for all of this. We have an increasingly competitive global economy. The US is struggling to maintain it's place in the world economically. Corporations implement whatever tactics they want within the law to be competitive and make more money. This includes eliminating pensions and offering retirees crappy deals to elinate their pension liability.

    There have always been rich people, poor people and people in between. I don't expect that to change.

    People are going to have to learn to fend for themselves - just as they have for the vast majority of human history before Franklin Roosvelt was elected and enacted the social welfare programs that we have today.
    There have been and are varying levels of inequality, too. If I am not mistaken, great economic inequality is often a precursor to the collapse of a state or at least a political system.

    When the wealthy not only implement whatever tactics they want within the law to be competitive and make more money, but use their wealth to, for all intents and purposes, buy the government and regulating organizations, then proceed to beggar the rest of the country (as is happening in the US now), well, you're going to have political instability as a result, IMO. It's one thing to fend for yourself. It's another altogether to fend for yourself with your hands tied, your feet shackled, and your mouth muzzled.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
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  5. #75
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cafe View Post
    There have been and are varying levels of inequality, too. If I am not mistaken, great economic inequality is often a precursor to the collapse of a state or at least a political system.

    When the wealthy not only implement whatever tactics they want within the law to be competitive and make more money, but use their wealth to, for all intents and purposes, buy the government and regulating organizations, then proceed to beggar the rest of the country (as is happening in the US now), well, you're going to have political instability as a result, IMO. It's one thing to fend for yourself. It's another altogether to fend for yourself with your hands tied, your feet shackled, and your mouth muzzled.
    There are a lot of bad things about capitalism but it does offer any individual the opportunity to make their own in the world financially. It's a reason so many people come to the US from places like Mexico, India, Poland, etc. They come for the opportunity and I doubt they feel they are shackled with their hands tied.

    Also, it is not just about the wealthly taking advantage of people. It is corporations, which are designed to be the most efficient vehicle on this earth to make increasing amounts of money. You could say people run them but if they don't make their numbers or the stock goes down, you get fired. It is a system that is in place with enormous influence in the world. Think about a company like walmart that has systematically helped to destroy the local business. It is the same thing with chain restaurants loke McDonalds. The food is horrible for you. The corporation doesn't care about you though. It just wants to make more money. It will do it or be replaced. Much of the wealth in the world by the way is created when private companies go public. Go down the list of the world's richest people and you see a pattern.

    Is it sustainable? Probably not, but I don't know what is going to stop it.

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  6. #76
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    Government as Old-Age Home

    WASHINGTON -- We don't need a charm offensive; we need a candor offensive. The budget debate's central reality is that federal retirement programs, led by Social Security and Medicare, are crowding out most other government spending. Until we openly recognize and discuss this, it will be impossible to have a "balanced approach" -- to use one of President Obama's favorite phrases. It's the math: In fiscal 2012, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and civil service and military retirement cost $1.7 trillion, about half the budget. If they're off-limits, the burdens on other programs and tax increases grow ever-greater.

    It's already happening. The military is shrinking and weakening: The Army is to be cut by 80,000 troops, the Marines by 20,000. As a share of national income, defense spending ($670 billion in 2012) is headed toward its lowest level since 1940. Even now, the Pentagon says budget limits hamper its response to cyber-attacks. "Domestic discretionary spending" -- a category including food inspectors, the FBI, the Weather Service and many others -- faces a similar fate. By 2023, this spending will drop 33 percent as a share of national income, estimates the Congressional Budget Office. Dozens of programs will be squeezed.

    Nor will states and localities escape. Federal grants ($607 billion in 2011) will shrink. States' Medicaid costs will increase with the number of aged and disabled, which represent two-thirds of Medicaid spending. All this will force higher taxes or reduce traditional state and local spending on schools, police, roads and parks.

    The budget debate may seem inconclusive, but it's actually having pervasive effects. Choices are being made by default. Almost everything is being subordinated to protect retirees. Solicitude for government's largest constituency undermines the rest of government. This is an immensely important story almost totally ignored by the media. One reason is that it's happening spontaneously and invisibly: growing numbers of elderly are simply collecting existing benefits. The media do not excel at covering inertia.

    Liberals drive this process by treating Social Security and Medicare as sacrosanct. Do not touch a penny of benefits; these programs are by definition progressive; all recipients are deserving and needy. Only a few brave liberals complain that this dogma threatens programs for the non-aged poor. "None of us wants to impose new burdens on vulnerable seniors," write economists Harry Holzer of Georgetown University and Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution in The Washington Post. "[But] for how long will we continue to sacrifice investments in our nation's children and youth ... to spend more and more on the aged?"

    Hypocritical conservatives are liberals' unspoken allies. Despite constant grumbling about entitlements, they lack the courage of their convictions. Consider House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's latest budget plan. From 2014 to 2023, he proposes cutting federal spending by $4.6 trillion. Not a cent comes from Social Security, while Medicare cuts are tiny, about 2 percent. His major Medicare proposal (in effect, a voucher) wouldn't start until 2024. Most baby boomers escape meaningful benefit cuts. As Holzer and Sawhill fear, most of Ryan's cuts affect programs for the poor.

    What frustrates constructive debate is muddled public opinion. Americans hate deficits but desire more spending and reject higher taxes. In a Pew poll, 87 percent of respondents favored present or greater Social Security spending; only 10 percent backed cuts. Results were similar for 18 of 19 programs, foreign aid being the exception.

    Only the occupant of the bully pulpit can yank public opinion back to reality. This requires acknowledging that an aging America needs a new social compact: one recognizing that longer life expectancies justify gradual increases in Social Security's and Medicare's eligibility ages; one accepting that sizable numbers of well-off retirees can afford to pay more for their benefits or receive less; one that improves generational fairness by concentrating help for the elderly more on the needy and poor to lighten the burdens -- in higher taxes and fewer public services -- on workers; and one that limits health costs.

    Obama hasn't talked intelligently or openly about America's aging. In budget negotiations, the administration has made some proposals (a different inflation adjustment for Social Security benefits, a higher Medicare eligibility age) that broach the subject. But Obama hasn't put these modest steps into the larger context of social change; nor is it clear how much the administration supports them. It's true that Republicans should also accept higher taxes -- but only after the White House engages retirement spending.

    Little is possible while public opinion remains frozen in contradiction. The mistake lies in thinking that the apparent paralysis isn't policy. It is. Government is being slowly transformed into a vast old-age home, with everything else devalued and degraded.

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