Senate Income Inequality in the U.S.: Causes, Effects, Solutions

Discussion in 'Community' started by Jedi Merkurian, Mar 17, 2011.

  1. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    @Skywalker8921 personal stories are great and all, but please illustrate what point you're trying to make.
    Last edited by DarthBoba, Nov 10, 2013
  2. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 10
    I saw this talk live, and I would highly recommend everyone watch this.



    I'd be keen to discuss SImon's argument/opinion.
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  3. J-Rod Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 6
    I can do better. But I was pressed for time so I just threw out my initial reaction. What a hack, made up term to syphon money from the people to the government. We are officially out of problems when you can't find any real hunger so you have to dress it up a little bit.

    Look, I know all out a "poor" diet. A diet t hat poor people have to eat. Lots of bulk foods like beans, rice, potatoes, pasta. As a poor Midwestern boy growing up fatherless and on welfare I'm all too familiar with this diet. But I have to be honest; It doesn't matter what you eat...if you are overweight and especially if you are obese you are overeating. It's not what you are eating but how much you are eating.

    And yes, "poverty" in America looks different than it does in most other places. I know you won't read it. But it's there for you anyway.


    I'm not sure what that's supposed to prove. That redistribution is better? No. It isn't. Everyone has opportunity. Use it or don't. The guy who takes advantage of opportunity is going to be unequal to the guy that has 6 kids out of wedlock. And probably those 6 kids as well if no one is there to show them how to take advantage of opportunities. What does that prove, exactly?
  4. Jedi Merkurian ST Thread Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

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    It proves that we need better sex education and access to contraception.

    It proves that we need better access to post-secondary education, including "vo-tech" training.

    Instead, we have the opposite.
  5. J-Rod Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 6
    I hate when I bite at off topic stuff but here goes...
    There are not very many kids in the country who:
    1) Don't know where babies come from.
    2) Can't get a condom.

    It's a self discipline issue. Not an educational issue. Not an access issue.

    And I don't have a post secondary education. Yet I make a fair piece more than the average income in the US. Gumption is more valuable than education. Even if you have a degree you will still need some gumption. But it's harder to have drive and hunger when the government wants to give you a fish every single day. Why learn to fish?
    Last edited by J-Rod, Nov 11, 2013
  6. Arawn_Fenn Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2004
    star 7
    Wait... so you profited from so-called "income redistribution" but now you want to cut it off for everyone else?
  7. J-Rod Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 6
    I never said that I wanted to cut everyone off. The healthcare law is a bad law. That's what I said. Our welfare programs are too big and fraught with waste. That's what I said.

    My own situation was this: My mother took free money. And because she did, we never had much. She would work under the table when she could for extra money. But she never left "the system" until I was 16. And guess what? She started making a very good living. Welfare literally kept her down. A smart, strong, competent woman afraid to make so much that they take her free stuff away.

    A benefactor of the system? Or a victim? I say victim.
  8. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 10
    So you are arguing, what, precisely? I feel like you should watch Simon's video that I posted, but... yeah. What? That welfare disempowers the poor and creates further disenfranchisement? OK assuming that's true, and I'm not convinced it universally is, but I'll play along... assume that's true, what do you propose be done?
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  9. J-Rod Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 6
    Easy. These programs need to be scaled back and better checks put into place. Clinton actually had the right idea. (With encouragement from the Republican congress, that is. ;) )
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  10. Jedi Merkurian ST Thread Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

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    I'll have to respond with links to back it up when I'm not typing with my thumbs, but there is a statistical correlation between education and unwanted/out of wedlock pregnancies, even birth rate in general.

    You've done well for yourself, and good on ya' for that! However, as we say in the Senate, " the plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data'". Less charitable members of the Senate might confuse your "I did it, so can anybody" mindset with being narcissistic and judgemental ;)
    anakinfansince1983 likes this.
  11. J-Rod Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 6
    Guilty as charged. But to an extent, it is true: If I did it so can anyone. I'm not smart. Those stats you have, are they for people who get degrees or people who go to college? Because a certain number fall out because of unplanned pregnancies and college didn't smarten them up any. :D

    Always remember, college doesn't make you smarter.
  12. anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of CT, SW Saga and Lucasfilm Ltd

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    College not making a person smarter isn't the point. I actually agree with you there. I know some people who only have high school educations who I would consider smarter than I am, and I have a masters degree. I just happen to like school, brains have nothing to do with it.

    The "if I can do it, anyone can" is a huge fallacy though. It assumes that everyone is you.
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  13. J-Rod Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 6
    But I'd like everyone to at least have the chance. There are generations from the projects in Chicago to the hills of Tennessee who have been living off the system and never had the chance to even try.

    This is the mentality of too many on the system. Just work the system and live the best you can.
  14. Lord Vivec Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 17, 2006
    star 8
    Yeah, it's totally just a made up term with no real meaning. It's not like the World Health Organization uses it (you were perfectly willing to cite them last page when it suited your argument) or the UN uses it or anything.
    You'll pardon me if I don't get my information from partisan think tanks.
    Perhaps if you had, you wouldn't dismiss legitimate economic terms out of hand as "hack" and "made up."
  15. anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of CT, SW Saga and Lucasfilm Ltd

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    Giving them a chance to try would involve a job with a living wage, that one can get with only a high school diploma (those are there but very difficult to find in this economy), affordable and dependable child care, and vocational education both in high school and immediately afterwards.

    Not cutting off their benefits and saying "Oops, you're on your own now."

    It also involves not judging every single person who receives benefits by those with a particular "mentality."
  16. J-Rod Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 6
    Every single person? who's posts are you reading? Notice that I said,"too many" not "all." So how about judging at least some of them?!?!?!
  17. J-Rod Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 6
    It's sourced. You may draw different conclusions than the report did. But the facts of the report are still true.
    Last edited by J-Rod, Nov 11, 2013
  18. anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of CT, SW Saga and Lucasfilm Ltd

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    You're suggesting taking each situation on a case by case basis? That the government should examine "mentality" when determining who should and should not get benefits?

    I'm not sure how that would work, and if there is no means to do this, and you want to reduce benefits based on the "mentality" of some recipients--you absolutely are judging all recipients based on the mentality of some.
    Jedi Merkurian likes this.
  19. J-Rod Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 6
    I'm not saying that we enforce based on mentality. I was just making an observation of a large part of the welfare demographic.
  20. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 10
    Except that is not accurate. Firstly, you are not taking account of any systemic issues in the US. Secondly, you assume that in other countries that beat the US on equality, development, and happiness are somehow less likely to embrace opportunity by way of tying equality to that entrepreneurial spirit. Thirdly, you are disregarding the overwhelming correlation between race and poverty.

    I appreciate this suits your particular agenda in this matter but it's woefully inadequate as an explanation.
  21. Lord Vivec Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 17, 2006
    star 8
    Don't breathe a sigh of relief just yet. You're not out of the woods.
    I've got to say I've noticed this sort of trend in your posts. Your argument boils down to an estimation that all poverty is largely just a matter of psychology. If only they could be "motivated" enough, they would live perfectly comfortable lives. Redistributive programs are to be avoided because they work against the incentives that desperation can provide. You seem to assume, in short, that there are no legitimate barriers to success, and that therefore any degree of economic hardship is the person's own fault. There are a couple things to say about this, but the first is to point out how obviously untrue that is.
    For instance, take this example from your own post. You agree that those six kids will probably never learn of the opportunities. I'd go further, and say they may well face a lot of other sorts of hardship. Are you really comfortable with this outcome? They are going to fail because of something completely outside of their control? You won't even concede it's reasonable to, in the name of giving everyone a fair chance, at least make sure that they know about the opportunities that exist? It's wrong to have a program like SNAP that helps feed them if their father doesn't buy them food? It's better that they just be malnourished, so that someone else theoretically "learns a lesson" while damning them in the process? How is this sort of logic at all humane or defensible? How do you account for people who are impoverished for reasons outside of psychology, that are related to actual life circumstances that they can't (and couldn't) control?

    Or even ignoring this point, how exactly does your model work? If more help reduces people's motivation to get out of poverty, and psychology is the only important thing, why have any anti-poverty programs at all? Why charity of any sort? Won't that just reduce their incentives to get a real job?
    Last edited by Lord Vivec, Nov 11, 2013
  22. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 10
    Exactly. Even if you're right that in some cases welfare further disempowers some people, you fail to account for what happens to kids born in that situation who are never given any opportunity to realise their potential. You may defer to your experience, but a quick analysis would conclude you're an outlier and not normative J-Rod.
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  23. Jedi Merkurian ST Thread Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

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    Okay J-Rod, regarding the connection between education levels and unintended pregnancies, here is a study from the CDC. In particular:

    The study also indicates that there is a correlation between unintended pregnancy and poverty level as well. Impoverished women have more unplanned children, who are then impoverished, who are then more likely to have more unplanned children of their own when they reach reproductive age, and so on, and so on...

    Regarding sex education and unwanted pregnancies, how about this:


    Or -if you wanna go HuffPo :p according to this article which references this study:


    Regarding education and lifetime earnings potential, there is this article which indicates that while the earnings potential gap based on levels of post-secondary education levels is narrowing,

    Are there exceptions to this? Yes. I am one, for example. I never completed college, while my wife has a bachelor's degree. Broken down into terms of hourly wages, I earn approximately twice what she does. However, and this is important, the plural of "anecdote" is not "data." Just because I out-earn my wife, and you apparently also out-earn a lot of people with college or vo-tech degrees, this does not invalidate the overall statistical trend.

    Something else I cannot stress enough that the inverse is true, namely that the statistical trends do not invalidate your own accomplishments.

    *the article indicates that those holding bachelor's degrees earn an average $2.27 million over the course of their lifetime.
    Last edited by Jedi Merkurian, Nov 11, 2013
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  24. darth-calvin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 10, 2002
    star 2
    I'm curious what you still do with the homeless that drives you to the conclusion that they are all addicts. What kind of program is it though? If its a program that is specifically designed to do homeless outreach with addicts then I can see the reason for your opinioin. However, before I'll buy your anecdotal evidence, I'd like to know more about the defined purpose of your "lesser" work.

    I ask this because I am in the trenches and have been for my entire career. I began working with people with significant disabilities and mental health issues then moved to teaching job skills to people on public assistance (I was there for the move from the old AFDC to the TANF program instituted under Clinton), then finally I moved to working with families who have preschool aged children.

    I work for a Community Action Agency with departments serving low-income people through senior services, early childhood education, employment and training (welfare, as you would think of it), at risk teens, housing assistance and homeless, victims of domestic violence, etc. Every year we go out and do a survey of homeless people to get an idea of the numbers and needs of the people so we can plan our services (this includes things like going to abandoned buildings, bridge underpasses, forgotten tunnels, etc.)

    What we have found is that the most common reason (by far) for homelessness is mental health issues (people on record as actually having a legal diagnosis, not just our guess). I would suggest that a significant number of people that you dismiss as addicts who just need to get their **** together are actually people with mental health issues who are self-medicating because they can't afford the drugs that will actually help them (an incredibly common phenomenon). Have you asked this of the program you work with, or are you just assuming you know?

    You come off as somebody who thinks your experience with poverty and homelessness applies across the board for everyone (which is ridiculous), and still applies today. Having known you for a while now, I know that the age of 16 is far, far behind you. Have you bothered to update the information on which you base your opinion according to the new system in place? I'd be very curious to hear what you think welfare is today - the number of people on it, how much you think they get, how long they are on it, what they have to do to stay on it.

    I've found that most people bitching about welfare do not understand it at all and are quite surprised to find out how wrong they are. For example, a couple years ago there was a chain email going around about a woman in Florida who was getting $15 K per month from welfare because she kept having kids. This demonstrates absolutely zero knowledge of the system as that is absolutely impossible.

    I can answer these questions for you if you like because it is my job to write grants and do assessments of community needs.
    Last edited by Jedi Merkurian, Nov 12, 2013
  25. Darth Geist Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 1999
    star 5
    Hey, let me just chime in by quoting David Wong: