Nightmare fuel: Kermit Gosnell exposed »« Don’t mind me, I’ll just be curled up in the corner, gibbering

Rand Paul edumacates the black folks

So…this guy Paul is considered a likely presidential candidate?

Does he really think educated students at Howard University are completely unaware of the Southern strategy, that the racist Southern Democrats switched parties as soon as it was clear that Democrats were endorsing civil rights legislation, while Republicans were opposing it? How patronizingly ignorant.

While we’re playing games with labels, I have another question. I saw a copy of our campus’s far right wing, conservative, alternative student newspaper, the NorthStar. Inside, it has a joke (“A person with a liberal arts degree says, ‘Would you like fries with that?’” —pathetically tired, and at a liberal arts university), an article praising Andrew Breitbart, an analysis of gay marriage that concludes it would not be good for the country, an article on Zora Neale Hurston that breathlessly reveals that she was…a Republican(!!!) (in the first half of the twentieth century — see Jon Stewart, above), an article titled “True Feminism” that is basically an anti-choice tirade, and a tribute to Margaret Thatcher.

But here’s the funny thing. The paper does not call itself conservative, or right wing, or pro-Republican, or anything like that…no, the label splattered on the front page and scattered throughout is that they are “classically liberal”. OK, sure, there was and is a movement that arose in 19th century Europe that mirrors the goals of a certain current political subgroup, but the meaning of the labels have shifted in the US, so that phrase is now an attempt at obfuscation. “Classical liberalism” is basically identical to “Modern libertarianism”, and on some issues (such as the importance of capitalism) it’s farther to the right than modern conservatives, and on others (personal liberty, for instance), it makes noises about being somewhere towards the left — although a paper that decries abortion and gay marriage isn’t quite so tolerant as they’d like to claim.

Even their campus organization record makes this claim.

The NorthStar is a classically liberal monthly publication. We promote the Marketplace of Ideas and limited government principles.

What amuses me, though, is that they seem to have become embarrassed by the label “conservative”, and don’t even want to be known as “libertarian” — so they reach back into their history books and dredge up an old term that can be easily confused with the current understanding of what it means to be “liberal”. Why? Because conservatives have been tainted by their long courtship of the fringe wackaloon side of the American electorate. And now they’re trying to escape the consequences of their long romancing of the deeply racist side of American culture by trying to remind everyone of their role in the Emancipation Proclamation…a role they have most effectively repudiated in the last 60 years.

Comments

  1. glodson says

    What amuses me, though, is that they seem to have become embarrassed by the label “conservative”, and don’t even want to be known as “libertarian” — so they reach back into their history books and dredge up an old term that can be easily confused with the current understanding of what it means to be “liberal”.

    I guess that’s one way to get back their respectability. Just lie about what you are by digging through history to find a new label, all the while not even bothering with the actual reasons why people find the current labels so repugnant.

  2. says

    an analysis of gay marriage that concludes it would not be good for the country

    Brilliant strategy. In a couple decades when the US is a bankrupted mess, they’ll have someone to blame other than the congressional/military-industrial complex and Wall St.

  3. Ben P says

    Republican:Classical Liberal::Liberal:Progressive

    Also why I ceased identifying as a libertarian about 2010. What I believe (general to the point of useless – very liberal on almost all social policies, including ones that many liberals are not liberal on, skeptical that throwing money at economic problems accomplishes what people think it will) is markedly different from Tea Partiers and others who call themselves libertarian, but then never vote anything but republican).

  4. Rey Fox says

    We promote the Marketplace of Ideas

    It’s this mealy-mouthed garbage that annoys me, the same crap that Fox spews about “fairness”. If you have ideas, if you have facts, if they’re of quality, they should stand on their own. If you have to wank on about supposed journalistic ideals at the outset, then you’re probably bullshitting. Sort of like how if you have to tell people that you’re a nice guy…

  5. thumper1990 says

    For fuck sake…

    Liberal: noun

    “a political or social philosophy advocating the freedom of the individual, parliamentary systems of government, nonviolent modification of political, social, or economic institutions to assure unrestricted development in all spheres of human endeavor, and governmental guarantees of individual rights and civil liberties.”

    This is what the fucking dictionary says. Now can right-wing douche bags please stop re-defining it? Much thank.

  6. says

    skeptical that throwing money at economic problems accomplishes what people think it will)

    So does this mean that you’re opposed to infrastructure, that you choose to ignore the demonstrable effects of jobs programs in relieving economic depressions, or that it’s just a buzzword you haven’t thought through yet? It’s always one or more when someone pulls out that kind of line, and none of them are good arguments. It doesn’t help anything to stop calling yourself a libertarian if you’re not going to stop parroting their bullshit too.

  7. generallerong says

    So….can we start slinging “Reactionary” and “Fascist” around again to characterize right wingers?

    And then I wonder…are we re-living an echo of the pre-WWII era?

  8. Dauphni says

    Being from the Netherlands, that ‘classic liberal’ is still what liberal more or less means in the political sense over here. Indeed most (but certainly not all) liberals here are considered centre-right, as opposed to the socialists and social democrats on the left, and certainly nowhere near the conservatives on the right.

    As far as I know, this is still the way it’s discussed in most of the world, and the USA seems to be an outlier. I’m curious how it came to be that way.

  9. says

    Rand Paul’s speech at Howard University is part of the new Republican push to “”reach out to new voters, specifically Asian Americans, blacks, Hispanics and young people.” They should add “women” to that list.

    That’s similar to the agenda Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus proffered shortly after Mitt Romney went down in flames. It is the stated agenda, word for word, of the spring conference the RNC is hosting this week in Los Angeles.

    And they’ve line up the following speakers to advance this agenda: Dick Cheney, Hugh Hewitt, David Horowitz and Larry Solov. I probably don’t have to list Cheney’s past faux pas, little things like pushing for senseless wars and for torturing prisoners.

    Let’s see, Horowitz is a conspiracy theorist, an real anti-muslim, a racist, and a guy who thinks political correctness will force the USA to become a totalitarian state. His books include “Hating Whitey and Other Progressive Causes” and “The Race Card: White Guilt, Black Resentment, and the Assault on Truth and Justice.” That should work to broaden the RNC’s appeal to black voters. Just in case Rand Paul fails as an ambassador to black communities.

    Hewitt is a ragged-edge-right-wing radio jockey who believes that pretty much everyone but hims conspires to skew poll results. He loves, loves Mitt Romney and thinks an anti-conversative conspiracy defeated him. Otherwise, how do you explain such an inexplicable loss?

    And then we have Paul Ryan, who is worshipped by all of the above. Yesterday, Ryan said, “We don’t want a country where abortion is simply outlawed. We want a country where it isn’t even considered.” That’s nice outreach to asian women, black women, latino women, white women ….

  10. gregpeterson says

    I think it’s safe to say our government has extremely limited principles. Perhaps they should have said “the principle of limited government” instead. If they really did mean a government lacking in principles–well, have they SEEN Michelle Bachmann? Mission largely accomplished.

  11. yoav says

    Since I never learn I got into anther gun control debate on FB. It went as well as you can expect with me being compared to Hitler by the second post, since everybody knows the only reason the nazis could get away with it is because they disarmed the population (historical facts may disagree but that’s just because history is also a secret nazi), and it went downhill from there with me being then compared to Stalin because I was being “hyper rational” i.e using facts and logic to support my position instead of just pulling assertion out of a certain body cavity. The last straw after which I just gave up and walked away was when he tried to claim that all the murderous regimes of the 20th century were “progressive” (scare quotes in the original).

  12. says

    I think part of it is again an issue of labeling. The European left cheerfully uses labels like “socialist”, “social democrats”, “social liberals” — but in this country, any words beginning with “social…” have been stigmatized by Cold War history and gotten associated with Communism.

    Europeans can have a Communist party and not freak out. Americans tend to go ballistic at the word. And look at what Republicans do: Obama, a centrist, is constantly accused of being a “socialist” to defame him, because a lot of Americans melt down into tears at the thought of that socialism stuff.

  13. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    It’s not so bad PZ, our paper was founded by Okeef

  14. doublereed says

    Interesting. I usually find that liberals are the ones that don’t like the label liberal. We don’t exactly try to out-liberal each other the way conservatives try to out-conservative each other.

    Personally, I think “classical liberal” is just a method of obfuscation because they want to seem counter-culture rather than just the same ol’ right wing crap. It’s not that they like the label of “liberal,” it’s that they don’t like labels at all. Hipsters.

  15. notsont says

    “Throwing money at a problem” yeah that probably doesn’t work, investing in proper policy decisions and infrastructure however has a proven track record.

  16. mareap says

    I’ve never understood why “classic liberals”/libertarians would attend a publicly funded university.

  17. glodson says

    I’ve never understood why “classic liberals”/libertarians would attend a publicly funded university.

    They are entitled to a publicly funded education. Everyone else has to work for it.

  18. Ulysses says

    The “Classical Liberals” are a group of libertarians who embrace the libertarian economic ideals of squat in the country, demand government provided goods and services, and complain bitterly about paying taxes. They differ from other libertarians by having a right-wing social agenda (anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-everything that doesn’t have immediate benefits for them and their circle of friends).

  19. thumper1990 says

    @PZ

    No, Communism gets a bad rap here too; but it’s no where near as scary to the vast majority of the population as it is in America. I think the difference is that the vast majority of Europeans can distinguish between Socialism and Communism, while most Americans either can’t or won’t. (No offense meant to anyone present).

    That said, this trend is fast beginning to spring up amongst European Rightists too. It’s incredibly fucking irritating. Again, what is it with right wingers and refusing to open a fucking dictionary?

  20. busterggi says

    “Does he really think educated students at Howard University are completely unaware of the Southern strategy, that the racist Southern Democrats switched parties as soon as it was clear that Democrats were endorsing civil rights legislation, while Republicans were opposing it? How patronizingly ignorant.”

    Sure the students know about it but does Rand Paul? Rethugs like him learn their history from David Barton.

  21. Dee Phlat says

    PZ, it’s useless to complain that we should use current definitions for political terms. Terms change meaning in politics to be their polar opposites so often, you have to have to a lecture on definitions every time someone discusses politics. Libertarian means far left anarchist in the rest of the world, here it means you want to hand over society to unaccountable private tyrannies. Most of the US thinks communism and socialism mean monarchy.

  22. Ben P says

    So does this mean that you’re opposed to infrastructure, that you choose to ignore the demonstrable effects of jobs programs in relieving economic depressions, or that it’s just a buzzword you haven’t thought through yet? It’s always one or more when someone pulls out that kind of line, and none of them are good arguments. It doesn’t help anything to stop calling yourself a libertarian if you’re not going to stop parroting their bullshit too.

    Actually infrastructure spending is fine, and I certainly recognize the effects of Keyenesian economics and that they can be applied when necessary and appropriate. I also specifically recognize that, while the deficit is a future problem, the evidence shows us today that fiscal crowd-out is not yet an issue and stimulous spending is not yet driving the cost of our borrowing up. So that’s fine. But it also needs to be balanced by specific knowledge that every additional dollar of debt is some additional amount, year in and year out, that has to come off the top of the government’s budget. You borrow money to spread spending over time. Debt payments are about 6% of the federal budget now, the higher the debt gets the higher that figure gets. ($233 billion a year as of $2012 )

    And actually as a matter of practicality, the infrastructure in this country is long overdue for an upgrade. But I also find it curious that the first thing you jump to is infrastructure, given that federal spending on infrastructure makes up less than 5% of the federal budget. ($50-$60 billion a year on average).

    Specifically when I’m talking about skepticism I’m talking about welfare programs, and I know a little bit about these because I work as an attorney for a state agency that handles all of it. I agree there is a genuine moral reason for the government to keep people from starving, dying of otherwise treatable mental illnesses, etc. I also believe there are solid utilitarian grounds for the state ensuring minimum levels of medical care, education and similar services. But as always, the devil is in the details.

    To put it bluntly, people are selfish. (Which is quite rational I might add) If you offer benefits, people will abuse the shit out of them. It’s great that we want to help people, and I fully support that, but at the end of the day you can’t help people who aren’t willing to step up and do their own part. Don’t mistake this for glib “pulling themselves up by their bootstraps” bullshit, I’m fine with the government helping people, I do however have somewhat limited tolerance for providing indefinite subsidies who show no interest in doing anything other than continuing to collect the subsidy.

    There certainly is a utilitarian case that the benefits provided outweigh the costs of abuse and waste in the system, but that doesn’t mean the system can’t be structured in a way that minimizes the abuse and waste. I’m pretty callous in this, but I try to be honest too. Any system that tries to reduce waste will invariably draw the line somewhere and exclude otherwise meritorious people at the margins. Some balance calls are easy, most are difficult. Anyone who comes in with pure ideology ignores the difficult policy choices involved.

    Oh, and this skepticism fully extends to corporate welfare situations as well. Many of our regulatory bodies were started with the best of intentions, but have been all but wholly captured by the industries they purport to regulate. This doesn’t mean the answer is no -regulations, but it does merit a hard, skeptical look at how you build a regulatory system so that it can’t be captured. Often you find the answer is discarding intricate and detailed rules in favor of broader and more easily enforced ones.

    Take climate regulation for example. Traditional environmental regulations are “hard caps.” “You shall release no more than 25 ppm of substance X in your exhaust.” Those can be done with carbon but don’t work well, so some enterprising diplomats produced a “cap and trade” system. You cap carbon emisions but allow people to purchase additional emissions in exchange for people who are removing carbon from the atmosphere. It’s a clever idea, but implementing it is difficult and creates a lot of problems. I think the problem is resolved much more simply. You want people to produce less carbon, you impose some specific caps in areas, but generally you impose a tax on it. If you’re going to put more than X amount of carbon out er year, you have to pay Y per ton or fraction of a ton. Then you accomplish the same goal without creating a whole system of rent seekers.

  23. M, Supreme Anarch of the Queer Illuminati says

    Dauphni @ 10:

    Being from the Netherlands, that ‘classic liberal’ is still what liberal more or less means in the political sense over here. Indeed most (but certainly not all) liberals here are considered centre-right, as opposed to the socialists and social democrats on the left, and certainly nowhere near the conservatives on the right.

    Our liberals are basically the same; socially moderate, but still convinced that “free-market” solutions are generally the best way to approach everything (though with some encouragement in the right direction from government). It’s just that our political spectrum is skewed, so that we effectively only have a center-right and a hard right. Our “progressives” are basically the more centrist social democrats everywhere else, and anything to the left of that is “left-wing extremism”.

    Now, that’s on economic, regulatory, infrastructure, etc. positions; socially, our liberals are centrist to somewhat left-of-center in international terms, though our conservatives are still frothing right-wingers. We still don’t have a strong left wing there, though (at least in terms of political representation).

  24. Ben P says

    That was a lot longer than I intended to be, and I’m sure someone will pick out something at random and respond without bothering to read anything else. But that’s life.

  25. says

    @Ben P

    To put it bluntly, people are selfish. (Which is quite rational I might add) If you offer benefits, people will abuse the shit out of them.

    What is the percentage of recipients who are abusing the system?

  26. says

    The NorthStar is a classically liberal monthly publication. We promote the Marketplace of Ideas and limited government principles.

    Sounds about right. Though wouldn’t they be happier if the government didn’t have limited principles, but rather no principles and just a PayPal account?

  27. unclefrogy says

    any amount of fraud and abuse in welfare is dwarfed by the fraud and abuse on the corporate side by the oil companies alone not considering agriculture, banking and finance, mining and other forestry, military spending security spending and a bent tax code. Yah it is the unwed woman in the “inner city” that is responsible for the debt.

    The subject of the post has been amusing me for some time now. There is no way that everyone by now understands very clearly what the republican party stands for, what policies they support, what their ideas are. What is plane is that many more of the electorate dose not share those ideas in a word they are not buying especially the young, women, blacks and Asians. The republican’s answer is to find not new ideas but a way to say the same old stuff in a way so I guess that no one will notice? A new way to sell old goods that the market did not by last year.
    the clip makes it very clear that they got nothing that their new targeted groups want.
    uncle frogy

  28. mmLilje says

    My old university had almost all the student political parties taking names that implied they were one step further to the left than they actually were, because at some point someone on campus realized that unless they weasel-worded themselves out of stating their true stance they’d never get any votes from the traditionally radical student body. Thus, the socialists remained the socialists but the centrists became the “liberals” and the conservatives became the “moderates”.

    To be fair, though, our “liberals” are closer to the “classic liberalism” of Europe. Believe in free-markets and in the private rights of the citizen. And, paradoxically enough, the ones most concerned with environmental issues and global warming. We also still have a communist party, although they just call themselves “The Reds”.

  29. unclefrogy says

    I am sorry I hear the words in my head but sometimes they do not get typed. the mind is much faster than my finger

    uncle frogy

  30. omnicrom says

    That was a lot longer than I intended to be, and I’m sure someone will pick out something at random and respond without bothering to read anything else. But that’s life.

    Does this violate Chris’s new rule?

    Anyways I get a strong sense that Republican Party hasn’t got a clue anymore. Watching that Rand Paul bit really reinforces the feeling I’ve had for a while that the Republican Party has doubled down so hard on retaining their core group of uninformed voters, rich people, and lunatics that they’ve completely lost touch with everyone else. They aren’t appealing to Minorities or young voters because I get the feeling they haven’t the foggiest idea what these weird black kids want. Rand Paul looked honestly surprised that no one seemed to immediately fall in line, and that they knew recent political history. That’s not good for the Republicans when their young upcoming breathe of fresh Libertarian air Rand Paul can’t follow the younger generation.

    Of course part of it is that the Republican party has a precarious position. The issue of LGBT rights is a good marker of this: the party doesn’t really seem to get WHY LGBT rights are becoming more and more popular but they know that the issue is one they’re on the wrong side of by polls and votes. However they can’t move, because if they do then a bunch of the Talibangelicals that make up the lunatic base will be disgusted. Similarly you have a split between the more reasonable bad Republicans and the completely unreasonable and even worse Tea Party Libertarians: The Tea Partiers have enough popularity they could split off and form their own third party. That would naturally spell doom for the Republicans by splitting their votes but if “standard” Republicans move too much back to the center I think they’re afraid that the Tea Party would split from the party because of their fetish for ideological purity.

    To be fair to them the Republicans the Democrats are spineless. However the Democrats seem to have an idea of what they want and they appear to be moving in the right direction.

  31. says

    As far as I know, this is still the way it’s discussed in most of the world, and the USA seems to be an outlier. I’m curious how it came to be that way.

    it came about because US politics are a dichotomy, and classical liberals from virtually any other Western country fit snugly into the Democratic party.

    IOW, the US has one party that fills the spectrum from Classic Liberal to Progressive, and another that fills the spectrum from Conservative to Raging-Wingnut-Regressive

  32. says

    skeptical that throwing money at economic problems accomplishes what people think it will

    I tend to look at it this way. We know letting kids play with matches is a bad idea, pretty much all of the time, but no one wants to restrict matches, or stop letting the kids have them, so.. any skepticism about how buying lots of fire extinguishers will “prevent fires” misses the point. The fire is going to happen anyway, without serious changes to the behavior of the morons that keep handing out boxes of matches, and say, “Yes, but.. it would be unfair if the kids didn’t have them!”. Since it going to happen anyway, do you stop buying fire extinguishers, on the basis that it won’t fix the real problem? Same thing with, “throwing money at economic problems.”, it won’t fix the problem, but it might keep the house from burning down around us, at least for a while longer.

    The lack of either imagination, honesty, or courage, on the part of politicians, on one side, and the greed, avarice, and, in some cases, denial of reality/stupidity on the other, pretty much means we have to do “something”, and, sadly, the only thing we can manage to do, when its not shot down too, is throw money at the problem, and hope some of it sticks.

  33. Ben P says

    What is the percentage of recipients who are abusing the system?

    The sample I see is admittedly biased, because the ones I see are ones who are appealing a government determination. People don’t usually appeal being given welfare benefits, they do appeal them being taken away. In that particular work area almost everyone I see is, but as a percentage of the total I’d guess that’s smaller, but not trivial.

    Probably the most common I see is not one we’re responsible for, which is people who are on federal disability but work for cash on the side. Now, this is a double sided blade. They’ve gotten on disability through an ecosystem of providers that bend the system and credulously accept questionable claims of disability. But that ecosystem exists precisely because of the grinding poverty in the areas I cover (Arkansas delta counties). The people try to get on disability because there’s little paying work, and work for cash on the side because it’s extra money, but even if they weren’t on disability that cash on the side is all they could earn.

    I don’t put a strong emphasis on cheating the system as a moral failing, people are rationally responding to incentives. And actually I think that moral feeling governing policy is exactly the problem. How much money do we spend trying to seperate disabled from non-disabled, means-qualified from unqualified, and then in “overage” so to speak, to people who have exploited the system to come within these guidelines. Although it’s politically impossible, I think the idea Milton Friedman once proposed is very interesting, replace social security, unemployment and most forms of cash welfare with what he described as a negative income tax. Every citizen gets a basic subsistence level amount of money to spend as they will, you remove all sorts of burden costs and ways of cheating the system, but at the same time, if people misspend that money, that’s much more clearly a problem of personal responsibility than people who are simply down and out.

  34. says

    The Republican Party’s befuddlement over LGBT rights was discussed up-thread. One thing Republicans do know is that they want LGBT votes. They want the votes without having to commit to policies that would mitigate prejudice against LGBT individuals.

    The other conundrum Republicans are facing is how to win LGBT votes without losing the votes of their shrinking core of hardcore bigots and religious absolutists.
    http://firstread.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/10/17691775-social-conservatives-warn-priebus-they-could-abandon-gop

    A group of high-profile social conservatives warned Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus in a letter this week that their supporters could abandon the GOP if the party seeks to change its position on social issues, particularly same-sex marriage.

    Thirteen social conservatives, representing various influential groups, wrote Priebus ahead of the RNC’s quarterly meeting this week in Los Angeles to sternly rebuke the conclusions of a post-election report that advised Republican elected officials to adopt a softer tone toward social issues.

    “We respectfully warn GOP Leadership that an abandonment of its principles will necessarily result in the abandonment of our constituents to their support,” concludes the letter, which was obtained by and independently verified by NBC News in advance of the meeting this week.

    The letter further asks GOP committeemen to pass a resolution at their meeting this week re-affirming the party’s 2012 national platform, which includes language calling for bans on abortion and same-sex marriage.

  35. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Ben P, you gave an evidenceless answer, full of OPINION. Where are the government statistics, etc., to back up your OPINION. Lets take your liberturd tendancies out of the argument. What are the facts, not your OPINION of the facts?

  36. says

    In reference to my comment @39, Steve Benen, writing for The Maddow Blog, notes: “That nine of the 13 groups involved in this effort are 501(c)3 tax-exempt organizations, legally prohibited from supporting political parties, may be of interest to the Internal Revenue Service.”

  37. Ben P says

    I tend to look at it this way. We know letting kids play with matches is a bad idea, pretty much all of the time, but no one wants to restrict matches, or stop letting the kids have them, so.. any skepticism about how buying lots of fire extinguishers will “prevent fires” misses the point. The fire is going to happen anyway, without serious changes to the behavior of the morons that keep handing out boxes of matches, and say, “Yes, but.. it would be unfair if the kids didn’t have them!”. Since it going to happen anyway, do you stop buying fire extinguishers, on the basis that it won’t fix the real problem? Same thing with, “throwing money at economic problems.”, it won’t fix the problem, but it might keep the house from burning down around us, at least for a while longer.

    The lack of either imagination, honesty, or courage, on the part of politicians, on one side, and the greed, avarice, and, in some cases, denial of reality/stupidity on the other, pretty much means we have to do “something”, and, sadly, the only thing we can manage to do, when its not shot down too, is throw money at the problem, and hope some of it sticks.

    The point about politicians is well taken. But here’s my issue.

    Using matches in your example is problematic, but I’ll go with it. I think calling for the government to “ban matches” because it is possible that someone might light a fire is exactly the reaction of many liberals, and is exactly why, although I’ve voted primarily for democrats in almost every federal election since 1998, I don’t consider myself fully aligned with the democratic party either.

    I see the impulse to tell people “you can’t have the freedom to do this, because we don’t trust you to do it responsibly,”as fundamentally an authoritarian impulse. It comes out of a different place than the ones who want to restrict freedoms because they believe the use of those freedoms is immoral, but the net result is often the same.

    Of course this isn’t absolute, taken to an absolute the principal would prevent many sorts of rules that benefit society. That’s why I go back to the word I used in the initial post, skeptical, if you want to create a rule that broadly limits the freedom of the populace to produce some perceived benefit, I see you as having to justify a heavy burden that (a) this rule will actually accomplish what you think it will, (b) it won’t introduce some other negative that limits or outweighs the benefit, and (c) perhaps most importantly, there’s not a less restrictive way you can achieve the same benefit.

  38. Ben P says

    Ben P, you gave an evidenceless answer, full of OPINION. Where are the government statistics, etc., to back up your OPINION. Lets take your liberturd tendancies out of the argument. What are the facts, not your OPINION of the facts?

    Ok, I’ll give you a statistical evidence drawn from the one I explained from my personal experience. The NPR story on disability rolls was recently in the news, perhaps you heard part of it and direct from SSA jut for example.

    In the same time period as the large growth in disability rolls, the claims for disability related to mental illness climbed from 16% of the total to nearly 32% of the total. Musculosketal problems (of which the largest is unspecified back pain) likewise grew from 13% of the total to 28% of the total. Circulatory problems also grew. Physical injuries fell to 4% of the total.

    Now what sort of medical conditions would you expect are very difficult to controvert, if you were looking to argue someone isn’t really disabled. Would it include nonspecific pain problems and mental illnesses? Or is the entirety of the growth due solely to all of these people who got along without disability before suddenly coming down with pain disorders that make it impossible to work.

    The NPR story evaluates a place not unlike the one I cover, where 1 in 4 people is on disability and specifically talks to a doctor who passes on disability paperwork because he sees the people as not having any other meaningful opportunities.

    It’s certainly not a majority of cases, but I think that’s quite a bit of evidence that there’s, the exact same word I used before, a non-trivial percentage of people who exploit the system.

    Or perhaps I’m just a “liberturd.”

  39. says

    I do however have somewhat limited tolerance for providing indefinite subsidies who show no interest in doing anything other than continuing to collect the subsidy.

    oh, I have near endless tolerance of that. Because when those people can’t sit at home anymore, they become employees at McJobs and fuck up everything for everyone, making the lives of people who are actually trying to do their job miserable.

    Any system that tries to reduce waste will invariably draw the line somewhere and exclude otherwise meritorious people at the margins. Some balance calls are easy, most are difficult.

    most “balance calls” are only difficult because people are pretending like “the poor” are the only people on welfare. If you looked at the “welfare state” in general, most of the calls would be fairly easy: might your “drawing the line” affect someone’s ability to find food, shelter, and/or necessary healthcare? Then you need to err on the side of not letting that happen. Might your “drawing the line” affect someone’s ability to amass another million? Err very much on the side of caution, given that these folks have clever lawyers.

    Take climate regulation for example. Traditional environmental regulations are “hard caps.” “You shall release no more than 25 ppm of substance X in your exhaust.” Those can be done with carbon but don’t work well, so some enterprising diplomats produced a “cap and trade” system. You cap carbon emisions but allow people to purchase additional emissions in exchange for people who are removing carbon from the atmosphere. It’s a clever idea, but implementing it is difficult and creates a lot of problems. I think the problem is resolved much more simply. You want people to produce less carbon, you impose some specific caps in areas, but generally you impose a tax on it. If you’re going to put more than X amount of carbon out er year, you have to pay Y per ton or fraction of a ton. Then you accomplish the same goal without creating a whole system of rent seekers.

    this makes it sound as if a)no one proposed a carbon tax; b)the cap and trade idea was invented by “liberals” to “throw money at a problem”; c) cap and trade was invented specifically for CO2 emissions; d)you thought anyone here didn’t already know that the cap and trade thing was implemented specifically to allow for corporate loopholes, it being a conservative idea

    That was a lot longer than I intended to be, and I’m sure someone will pick out something at random and respond without bothering to read anything else. But that’s life.

    aren’t you a pompous little shit

  40. Akira MacKenzie says

    We promote the Marketplace of Ideas…

    Translation: We promote the constitutionally protected freedom to spread proven lies, superstition, racism, sexism and other assorted popular (and profitable) bullshit without legal consequence…

  41. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Gee, whose on disability has nothing to do with the potential fraud, which you are talking about. Typical non-sequitur answer/evidence from someone idiotlogically motivated, not evidence motivated. Makes everything you say *floosh* dismissed as evidenceless assertions.

  42. says

    Probably the most common I see is not one we’re responsible for, which is people who are on federal disability but work for cash on the side.

    given how low disability payments are in the U.S. sometimes, entirely understandable. That’s not a problem with cheating, that’s a problem with making people try to survive on ridiculously little money.

  43. says

    Ben honey, if it were easy to convince someone to give you disability because of depression or back pain, I wouldn’t ever need to work.

  44. vaiyt says

    The “Classical Liberals” are a group of libertarians who embrace the libertarian economic ideals of squat in the country, demand government provided goods and services, and complain bitterly about paying taxes. They differ from other libertarians by having a right-wing social agenda (anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-everything that doesn’t have immediate benefits for them and their circle of friends).

    In short, almost indistinguishable from garden variety libertarians.

  45. says

    The NPR story evaluates a place not unlike the one I cover

    a place with extremely poor people and no jobs?

    1 in 4 people is on disability and specifically talks to a doctor who passes on disability paperwork because he sees the people as not having any other meaningful opportunities.

    I think that’s quite a bit of evidence that there’s, the exact same word I used before, a non-trivial percentage of people who exploit the system.

    I have a hard time caring about people trying to make ends meet by “exploiting” a system that exploits them far more thoroughly.

    Pretty much the only sensible thing you’ve said about welfare is that trying to judge which poor people are worthy of help and which aren’t is a waste of resources. A basic income (enough to house and educate oneself & one’s children, and have healthcare for same) for everyone regardless of means or need would probably end up cheaper. And maybe we can then throw out the wasteful government spending targeted at convincing corporations to create more jobs; cheaper to just pay people for sitting at home forever & maybe get bored and create a kickstarter or something :-p

  46. Ben P says

    Ben honey, if it were easy to convince someone to give you disability because of depression or back pain, I wouldn’t ever need to work.

    I know a doctor you can go see, in fact I know several. I see their records pretty routinely in my job, along with all the people with back pain, high blood pressure and depression that are on disability.

    Oh, wait, I must just be imagining those places on disability and all those people. Gee my whole job must be

    Of course, I suspect you probably earn more than the $650 a month that people take in on disability if they’ve never paid into the system.

    most “balance calls” are only difficult because people are pretending like “the poor” are the only people on welfare. If you looked at the “welfare state” in general, most of the calls would be fairly easy: might your “drawing the line” affect someone’s ability to find food, shelter, and/or necessary healthcare? Then you need to err on the side of not letting that happen. Might your “drawing the line” affect someone’s ability to amass another million? Err very much on the side of caution, given that these folks have clever lawyers.

    There are multiple kinds of welfare. Things like unemployment, social security, etc., sure, non-poor get those all the time and I have no problem with that. There are also many non-welfare types of government subsidies, many of which are also abused. One only needs look as far as Mitt Romney’s tax returns to see that.

    But when you’re talking about means tested programs, the people who get them are poor by definition since you have to be below the poverty line to get these benefits.

  47. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    #48 Jadehawk

    Ben honey, if it were easy to convince someone to give you disability because of depression or back pain, I wouldn’t ever need to work.

    Seriously! I have two disabled parents. My step dad is (latest diagnosis) schizo-effective. He hears voices and was institutionalized in a mental hospital for 11 years. It still took him years to actually get disability and he was at first denied. Oh, and he’s allowed to work up to 20 hours per week and still keep his disability income (this is one of the few things the system as right, since the check is so fucking little) so Ben, you might want to check on just who is doing all this supposed “illegal” work on the side.

    Besides, isn’t the point of disability mean that you can’t consistently, fully work to earn a living? That doesn’t mean that you’re bedridden 24/7 or anything. It doesn’t mean you can’t do a one time job, because hey you had a good day or did it slowly at your own pace.

    My mother has degenerative disc disease (which as already needed 3 surgeries and needs another one soon on her lower back), nerve damage in her hands so she doesn’t have full range of motion and often wears hand guards due to the incredible pain (she’s going to have surgery one one hand soon), a pinched nerve in her neck, walks with a cane, has uh… crap I forget the name of her intestinal problems, has had to have surgery on her bladder (to be re-fixed several times and is still an issue due to the bladder sling), has depression, had to have a full hysterectomy at 35 and STILL NOT APPROVED. They keep denying her.

    When she went in for the last hearing, they asked her a bunch of stupid questions (I’m too angry right now to be able to remember the kinds of things they asked her) to figure out what she can do for work. Guess what the even stupider result was? They told her she could work as security. Yeah, my mother with a cane/roller with back and hand problems got recommended to try working security.

    Fuck the system. It’s fucked up. And you know what? I don’t give a flying shit about people having to lie to get approval because the entire thing is set up to disbelieve, disillusion and blame them. Oh, and…

    38 Ben P

    I don’t put a strong emphasis on cheating the system as a moral failing, people are rationally responding to incentives. And actually I think that moral feeling governing policy is exactly the problem.

    [...]

    Every citizen gets a basic subsistence level amount of money to spend as they will, you remove all sorts of burden costs and ways of cheating the system, but at the same time, if people misspend that money, that’s much more clearly a problem of personal responsibility than people who are simply down and out.

    What does that even mean? It sure sounds like you still want to blame people for being born poor or having medical conditions – like you still judge what they spend their money on just must be misspending. It’s just not a moral failure but now it’s a personal one because hey, them poor peoples don’t know how to handle money – otherwise they wouldn’t be poor. Why is it always the poor who have to justify and explain how they spend their money? Why don’t we put you under the microscope Benny boy and talk about your misspending?

    I’m so fucking tired of having to justify why I occasionally buy a book, game or a take out pizza to indulge once in a while to assholes who want to call it ‘misspending’.

  48. cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming) says

    the meaning of the labels have shifted in the US

    One of my pet peeves. ;-)

    The opposite of “conservative” is “radical”. That of “liberal”, “illiberal”. /peeve

    Americans melt down into tears at the thought of that socialism stuff

    Heh. You know who, post-WWII, was promoting universal health insurance?

    Eisenhower.

    Fecking socialist.

  49. WharGarbl says

    @cm
    #54

    Heh. You know who, post-WWII, was promoting universal health insurance?

    Eisenhower.

    Fecking socialist.

    Eisenhower – Republican

    Wow, that’s a HUGE flip-flop on the Republican. If I have to guess, after Reagan the party just went down the crapper.

  50. says

    I suspect you probably earn more than the $650 a month

    according to my tax return, I made just under $8000 last year, so you’re welcome to shove it.

    But when you’re talking about means tested programs, the people who get them are poor by definition since you have to be below the poverty line to get these benefits.

    that’s my point, ffs. Once you’re even within smelling distance of the poverty line, you almost by definition deserve welfare, and any “line” must be placed so that you won’t be cut off, even if it means a few cheaters here and there get through; because poor cheaters probably should be getting what they cheat the government out of anyway.

  51. Akira MacKenzie says

    I work at one of the companies that handles food stamp benefit cards for the states (because it’s cheaper to sub that out to an out-of-state, non-unionized, call centers that pay their employees crap) so I get to deal with public assistance beneficiaries on a daily basis. In the nearly two years I’ve worked there, I am yet to receive a call from the welfare queens that capitalist slime like Ben P. constantly allude to. Instead, I get the 68 year old woman in Minneapolis who is getting a whooping $16 a month in food stamps. Or how about single mom in Tennessee who is trying to feed their kids on $400 a month? What about the mentally handicapped man in La Crosse who doesn’t understand why he didn’t get his monthly $100 because his care-giver (assuming he has one) didn’t fill out all the proper paperwork.

    Not one of them getting thousands of taxpayer dollars to buy lobster and the down payment on an Escalade. Is their fraud? Certainly, but considering the alternative of starvation, I’d rather feed, clothe, and shelter one grifter than let the nine poor people starve or live in a cardboard box in a alley.

  52. says

    @Ben P

    but at the same time, if people misspend that money, that’s much more clearly a problem of personal responsibility than people who are simply down and out.

    Your point about personal responsibility is interesting, and I think that it gets to the heart of the world-view differences between “libertarian” and “liberal” thinking.

    I (liberal) would, in principle, totally support a “subsistence level” system like the one you outlined. But I don’t think it would achieve any clarity about personal responsibility. Instead, it would provide better information about the systemic problems that would cause people to “misspend” the money. So I would not support such a program if it provided cover for ignoring the systemic problems.

  53. says

    I suspect you probably earn more than the $650 a month

    I keep on staring at this, and it just pisses me off.

    Ben, what part of “depressed, with back pain” did you not understand? What the everglorious fuck made you so fucking certain I made more than that?

    Fuck.

  54. WharGarbl says

    Extension from #55
    The more I read about Eisenhower, the more I wonder.
    How the hell did Eisenhower get elected as a REPUBLICAN!
    Then I remember, Republicans back then at least were sane (you may disagree with some of their policies, but they’re at least sane).

  55. omnicrom says

    I noticed that as well Sallystrange. Unsurprisingly when Ben P went on he then said some questionable and/or ugly things. Chris was completely correct when he noted no person who feels the need to proactively shore up their defenses is probably saying anything good.

  56. Ben P says

    that’s my point, ffs. Once you’re even within smelling distance of the poverty line, you almost by definition deserve welfare, and any “line” must be placed so that you won’t be cut off, even if it means a few cheaters here and there get through; because poor cheaters probably should be getting what they cheat the government out of anyway.

    Ok, so to the point then.

    Two hypothetical groups:

    a. People who are willing and able to work, but find it a better use of their time to not work and to attempt to obtain government benefits they wouldn’t otherwise be entitled to.

    b. People who physically cannot work, and could not live if they were not otherwise supported.

    And of course, people in between.

    What ratio of a to b is acceptable?

    according to my tax return, I made just under $8000 last year, so you’re welcome to shove it.

    In that case, why not? I reccomend a doctor you can see.

    What does that even mean? It sure sounds like you still want to blame people for being born poor or having medical conditions – like you still judge what they spend their money on just must be misspending. It’s just not a moral failure but now it’s a personal one because hey, them poor peoples don’t know how to handle money – otherwise they wouldn’t be poor. Why is it always the poor who have to justify and explain how they spend their money? Why don’t we put you under the microscope Benny boy and talk about your misspending?

    I’m so fucking tired of having to justify why I occasionally buy a book, game or a take out pizza to indulge once in a while to assholes who want to call it ‘misspending’.

    I do want to be clear that utilitarian concerns also justify some form of a separate universal healthcare system. That’s something that to a substantial extent simply doesn’t function effectively as a free market.

    But beyond that, I’m not even sure what your point is beyond trying to imply that I think people being poor is their own fault. I don’t. However, I am perfectly willing to say that I believe people’s poverty is not necessarily everyone else’s problem, except in that ensuring a minimum standard of living benefits society as a whole. I say you disregard both the Republican’s moral outrage that someone would dare suck off the government teat rather than work, and Democrat’s moral outrage that there are starving people while the rich dare make “another million.” that makes me cold and heartless and I will freely admit.

    And going back to precisely what you were discussing, I think a negative income tax precisely avoids making those sorts of moral judgments. With the assumption of universal or near universal healthcare, that sort of system provides everyone a base income, paid out of tax revenues, (which may be collected progressively, or in the manner that’s most efficient) that they can spend how they wish. If you want to get a pizza or a book it’s no concern of mine, because that’s an unnecessary intrusion into your spending. But the converse under that sort of system is that if you choose to buy a book and then find yourself in a pinch, that’s also not a concern of mine.

  57. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Yawn, another evidenceless post from Ben P *floosh* disimissed as irreleveant to reality.

  58. Ben P says

    Unsurprisingly when Ben P went on he then said some questionable and/or ugly things. Chris was completely correct when he noted no person who feels the need to proactively shore up their defenses is probably saying anything good.

    If by “questionable and/or ugly things,” you mean disagreeing with the groupthink, then sure. I’m a professional contrarian. I do it everywhere, in fact I do it for a living (which I’m sadly neglecting today given that this has been distracting me when I need to be writing a brief).

    But I think I’ve been quite measured and if you look at the posts, I’m pretty sure all the insults flow one direction. If your definition of being civil means “don’t say anything anyone will disagree with, thereby not provoking the anger of those who might disagree with you” that’s a little closed minded don’t you think?

  59. Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I) says

    Jadehawk@everywhere

    I was going to summarize your response to be as such: Why are you so fucking worried about a few poor people trying to not be poor? If you restrict this system, all you’re going to do is make everyone else at this income level more miserable. Why do you hate poor people, Mr. Lawyer man?

    Sound about right?

  60. Esteleth, the most colossal nerd on Pharyngula says

    My attitude, with regards Ben’s “thought experimen” @64:

    I would rather 50 shiftless people who could work but don’t want to get benefits they don’t “deserve” than have 1 person who cannot work go hungry due to lack of benefits.

    Likewise, I care more about people caught in the “doughnut hole” than I care about the risk of welfare fraud.

  61. WharGarbl says

    @Esteleth
    #68

    I would rather 50 shiftless people who could work but don’t want to get benefits they don’t “deserve” than have 1 person who cannot work go hungry due to lack of benefits.

    I think there are limits on how many “shiftless people” who abuse the system before the system became completely unworkable.
    Although more than likely there will always be ways to minimize that.

  62. says

    Ben P

    But I also find it curious that the first thing you jump to is infrastructure, given that federal spending on infrastructure makes up less than 5% of the federal budget. ($50-$60 billion a year on average).

    Because I know libertarian rhetoric, and I know that you weren’t going to bring up military spending (far and away the most wasteful portion of the budget), but were instead going to attack the social safety net (which is part of the category of infrastructure, just like a system of laws, a postal system. etc., you ignorant, self-righteous twerp.)

    Those can be done with carbon but don’t work well, so some enterprising diplomats produced a “cap and trade” system

    You do know that that wasn’t invented for CO2 emissions, don’t you? Look up ‘Acid rain” sometime, cupcake.

    You want people to produce less carbon, you impose some specific caps in areas, but generally you impose a tax on it. If you’re going to put more than X amount of carbon out er year, you have to pay Y per ton or fraction of a ton.

    Which is different only in name from a hard cap enforced by progressive fines, which you initially indicated you opposed. Make up your damn mind.

    Now what sort of medical conditions would you expect are very difficult to controvert, if you were looking to argue someone isn’t really disabled. Would it include nonspecific pain problems and mental illnesses? Or is the entirety of the growth due solely to all of these people who got along without disability before suddenly coming down with pain disorders that make it impossible to work.

    Or, just possibly, those people have always been disabled, scraping by on whatever minor jobs they can manage and whatever charity they can scrounge, because the system is rigged against them, and it’s very difficult to get a good diagnosis when you’re poor as shit and can’t afford a doctor. (I live with two such people, since you’re so fond of anecdote.

    What ratio of a to b is acceptable?

    Any or all. So long as no one’s going hungry, homeless, or without health care, I really don’t see any reason to give half a shit.

  63. Esteleth, the most colossal nerd on Pharyngula says

    I think there are limits on how many “shiftless people” who abuse the system before the system became completely unworkable.

    I agree. Nonetheless, the standard should be “help as many people as possible.”

  64. Ben P says

    I was going to summarize your response to be as such: Why are you so fucking worried about a few poor people trying to not be poor? If you restrict this system, all you’re going to do is make everyone else at this income level more miserable. Why do you hate poor people, Mr. Lawyer man?

    Sound about right?

    No, it doesn’t sound right. Hate is distinctly different than indifference. Other than that, sure.

    On a more serious note, “desperately trying not to be poor.” I don’t think there’s any moral distinction, it’s self interest regardless, but there’s definitely a practical distinction between “desperately trying to improve yourself” vs “desperately trying to squeeze more benefits out of the system.”

  65. Ben P says

    Because I know libertarian rhetoric, and I know that you weren’t going to bring up military spending (far and away the most wasteful portion of the budget), but were instead going to attack the social safety net (which is part of the category of infrastructure, just like a system of laws, a postal system. etc., you ignorant, self-righteous twerp.)

    Actually, the post office is fine. And I absolutely think military spending ought to be drastically reduced. What then?

  66. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’m still waiting for real evidence for a real problem Ben P. Your WORD per se, isn’t, and never will be, evidence of a problem. Just your lack of empathy for those less fortunate than yourself. Typical liberturd ignorance.

  67. says

    What then?

    You ignore the part about how the bits you jumped straight to whining about are, in fact, part of infrastructure, which you claim to be in favor of? You continue to blither about imaginary distinctions between private vs public sector ways of getting money, as though you are utterly unaware of either the number of ways people get money in private operations for doing things which range from useless to harmful, or of the beneficial economic effects of speeding the circulation of money, which increased benefits or wages to the poor will encourage? I’m just guessing here.

  68. says

    What ratio of a to b is acceptable?

    almost irrelevant; the latter deserve easy access to benefits, the former need to be kept out of the way of people trying to do their job (or do you think the pathologically lazy will somehow magically stop being pathologically lazy just because they can’t cheat the government anymore? of course not. they’ll just become the people who make life harder on their co-workers and who waste employers money)

    I’m glad a least you admit that these groups were hypothetical, since in my experience most of the people who cheat on welfare do so because they can’t make it without scamming the system. That’s what happens when you set up a system designed to be highly suspicious and extremely stingy to poor people.

    I believe people’s poverty is not necessarily everyone else’s problem,

    no, it pretty much is. both in the sense that it’s “everyone else” that’s largely responsible for within-society income & wealth inequalitites, and in the sense that poverty of the poor has negative consequences on “everyone else” as well.

    Like I said: a Basic Income is a much better solution than the current clusterfuck. And I’d even expand it to residents, not just citizens: everyone who lives in a place by definition pays taxes there, and therefore should have a right to a basic income there

  69. says

    “desperately trying to improve yourself”

    and you wanna claim you don’t think poverty is the poor people’s fault? jesus fuck.

  70. says

    @Ben P

    “desperately trying to improve yourself”

    If you unpack this, you’re going to uncover a lot of privilege blindness.

  71. Ben P says

    almost irrelevant; the latter deserve easy access to benefits, the former need to be kept out of the way of people trying to do their job (or do you think the pathologically lazy will somehow magically stop being pathologically lazy just because they can’t cheat the government anymore? of course not. they’ll just become the people who make life harder on their co-workers and who waste employers money)

    Several points. .

    1. Setting aside for the moment, the idea of basic income (which I don’t necessarily disagree with), what benefit does society derive from supporting the “pathologically lazy” in their laziness?

    1.5 – As to one reason you already provided, I find it difficult to accept that “we might as well pay the pathologically lazy to stay home because otherwise they’ll just bother their co-workers by being lazy” as a valid ground. Some percentage of the “pathologically lazy” ought to be able to be encouraged to exert some level of effort, would that not provide more benefit to society than simply paying them to stay home?

    I’m glad a least you admit that these groups were hypothetical, since in my experience most of the people who cheat on welfare do so because they can’t make it without scamming the system. That’s what happens when you set up a system designed to be highly suspicious and extremely stingy to poor people.

    2. I would disagree in a very very limited sense. I think people cheat in welfare because it’s in their self interest to do so.

    3. This sort of sets up a “the way things are” vs the way they “ought to be” problem, but I’ll go there anyway. I’ve said I don’t disagree with a basic income sort of system, but our current system establishes the goal that if you are able to work, you are expected to do so, and you get support either as long as you are (a) making progress toward that end (unemployment, various supplemental welfare programs like food stamps etc) or (b) can demonstrate you are unable to work.

    Within the bounds of that current system, I don’t see it as a “feature” so to speak that the system can be easily subverted, even if people are simply bad off. The fact that there are areas of the country where the high school graduation rate is 60% or lower (I’m serious), and there is no money and no jobs is a serious problem, but why is the answer to that problem letting people scam their way onto disability?

  72. says

    I’m a professional contrarian.

    what are you, 16? FFS, disagreeing just to be a contrarian is the most wasteful activity ever invented.

  73. says

    I’m a professional contrarian.

    in combination with the “grouptink”, this often also translates as “I’m a deep-thinking individual with entirely independent ideas that came from nowhere other than my genius mind; you’re all sheeple”; especially tedious when coming from someone with incredibly common ideas.

  74. says

    But I think I’ve been quite measured and if you look at the posts, I’m pretty sure all the insults flow one direction.

    you think personal insults are more ugly than your coldness to the idea that people in the supposedly richest country in the world are suffering from poverty?

    I assure you, very little we could throw at you in the way of insults could be uglier than such callousness.

  75. Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I) says

    @Ben (no cite because wharglbargl everywhere)

    The fact that there are areas of the country where the high school graduation rate is 60% or lower (I’m serious), and there is no money and no jobs is a serious problem, but why is the answer to that problem letting people scam their way onto disability?

    This right here? This directly translates to “Fuck the poor.” Look at it. You’re not sympathizing with anything here. You’re treating the poor as a fucking infestation, not as humans who’ve been on the shittier end of the probability stick. Just from your mindless JAQing off here and obviously apparent Bayesian Priors, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you’re an entitled fuckwit that doesn’t seem to understand the idea of “disability” and “welfare.”

    To crib from Nerd of Redhead:

    Makes everything you say *floosh* dismissed as evidenceless assertions.

  76. chigau (please don't let me be misunderstood) says

    “Insult” is not limited to calling someone an asshole.

  77. Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I) says

    But I think I’ve been quite measured and if you look at the posts, I’m pretty sure all the insults flow one direction.

    LOOK! Tone trolling! you’re fucking ADORABLE, cupcake. So objective and rational. And yet you don’t have a fucking shred of humanity for people that don’t make over $20 an hour. Get the fuck over yourself, Spock. Noone cares how artfully you can mentally ejaculate all over us, but we might be the teensiest bit more impressed if you could conjure up something resembling a sense of empathy for those not as privileged as yourself. Alas, it will not be.

  78. dvizard says

    Here in Europe the parties which call themselves “liberal” are in fact, “economically liberal” (“wirtschaftsliberal” in German, i.e. free market advocates) but societally conservative. (They are still far from economic libertarianism.) There are some new “green-liberal” parties who try to be both economically liberal and environmentalist, but societally they still tend to bond with the conservatives.

  79. says

    what benefit does society derive from supporting the “pathologically lazy” in their laziness?

    what benefit does it derive from saddling the economy with them? or do you suggest we just kill them off?

    Some percentage of the “pathologically lazy” ought to be able to be encouraged to exert some level of effort,

    and how much would such reeducation cost, in comparison to just letting them harmlessly vegetate somewhere where they’re not bugging anyone and still contribute to a demand economy?

    I find it difficult to accept that “we might as well pay the pathologically lazy to stay home because otherwise they’ll just bother their co-workers by being lazy” as a valid ground.

    then you’ve never had to work with any such individuals.

    I think people cheat in welfare because it’s in their self interest to do so.

    and it is only in their benefit to do so if it produces greater gain than working would, given that it’s most definitely not easy to gain and maintain welfare (in my experience, it’s almost as much work as working). Since you and I both know welfare pays for shit, that should tell you something about who cheats on welfare.

    our current system establishes the goal that if you are able to work, you are expected to do so, and you get support either as long as you are (a) making progress toward that end (unemployment, various supplemental welfare programs like food stamps etc) or (b) can demonstrate you are unable to work.

    that’s because it’s a fucked up, moralistic system largely set up to humiliate people, embedded in an even larger system that depends on a large underclass that it can exploit. Consequently, I have actually very little problem with people fixing that flaw by cheating the system. The real problem is the waste of money that is trying to catch the “undeserving”.

    I don’t see it as a “feature” so to speak that the system can be easily subverted, even if people are simply bad off.

    I do. If it weren’t cheatable, people would be even worse off.

    but why is the answer to that problem letting people scam their way onto disability?

    because in the situation as it is, rather than as it ought to be, it’s often the only available answer.

  80. Ben P says

    and you wanna claim you don’t think poverty is the poor people’s fault? jesus fuck.

    I wrote “desperately trying to obtain gainful employment versus “desperately trying to squeeze more benefits out of the system,” then deleted “gainful employment” and wrote “improve yourself” but neither really gets at what I intended to say.

    A fundamental theme that’s run through my comments and something I do believe relatively strongly is that people respond to incentives. If you make it more worthwhile to stay on welfare than to scrounge for a job, that’s exactly what people are going to do. And it absolutely shouldn’t be suprising when they do, nor do I particularly attach moral judgment to that.

    But at the same time I very seriously want to ask the question why it’s in society’s best interest to incentivize staying home when it can attempt to incentivize other things.

    And I’ll maintain that I don’t think poverty is poor people’s fault, but also let me describe a little more about what I do and the people I see every day. I’m an attorney for a state agency, it’s the agency in my state that handles almost all welfare payments, and it also handles child welfare, and adult protection and commitment cases.

    A small part of my work is handling administrative hearings from people applying denials of benefits or agency determinations. Typically that means I defend the decision of some case worker who denied some form of benefit. As you might expect, I see a lot of meritless cases, but I also get to tell workers in some cases that they damn well shouldn’t have denied those cases.

    The great bulk of my work is child welfare cases, which includes prosecuting abuse and neglect cases, and handling the “long tail” of kids in foster care. I practiced as a tall building lawyer in a big firm for five years and quit that to take much much less money and work for the state because in part the big firm job was soul killing, and also because I grew up in an abusive (not to mention fundamentalist) home and I feel pretty strongly about those issues.

    I handle cases every day where people’s kids have been taken away because of their drug use, abuse or basic child care skills that are so lacking the children are actually in danger. It’s not just poverty, because those cases don’t get to me, if a neglect complaint is made and the workers investigate and find that could be remedied by you getting furniture or getting food stamps, the agency has a budget to get parents furniture or food stamps or whatever to try to remedy that. It’s only if that doesn’t help that the kids get picked up.

    Yet in a non-trivial percentage of my cases, probably between 15 and 25%, the parents never improve. they don’t stop using drugs or fail out of rehab, they don’t make attempts to clean up their living arrangements, or attend the counseling that the state is going to pay for, etc etc. And in a very rough estimate, I’d say probably 50% of the families we work with have at least one member “on disability.” As in “what do you?” “oh, I’m on disability.”

    I freely admit this is a huge sample bias, because I just see the worst cases. But it’s also there and has to be dealt with.

  81. Ben P says

    what are you, 16? FFS, disagreeing just to be a contrarian is the most wasteful activity ever invented.

    Says a lot about being a lawyer doesn’t it?

  82. says

    A fundamental theme that’s run through my comments and something I do believe relatively strongly is that people respond to incentives. If you make it more worthwhile to stay on welfare than to scrounge for a job, that’s exactly what people are going to do.

    you’ve never had to go through the system to try to get any sort of “welfare” benefits, have you.

    Anyway, it seems to me you actually believe people are the sort of rationality-robots undergraduate economics textbooks teach about; I can’t otherwise explain why, in a country where being employed is considered a moral obligation, and being unemployed is treated as a serious moral failing, you think people will prefer to live on welfare than have a job.

    And this is especially stupid given that you’ve repeatedly admitted that most of the fraud you see comes from places where alternatives are simply not present.

  83. Ben P says

    what benefit does it derive from saddling the economy with them? or do you suggest we just kill them off?….

    and how much would such reeducation cost, in comparison to just letting them harmlessly vegetate somewhere where they’re not bugging anyone and still contribute to a demand economy?

    I would say that’s precisely the point.

    Even under Keynsian economics, a dollar of taxation is basically equivalent to a negative dollar of government spending. So pulling five dollars out of the economy and paying five dollars to someone just so they can spend it, is at best, a small shift in the demand economy, it may be less given inefficiency.

    Deficit spending complicates the issue, because a dollar of deficit spending will have the same economic effect as a dollar of non-deficit spending, but may have less negative impact than an additional dollar of taxation. Hence, raising taxes in a recession, not necessarily a good idea, but deficit spending in a recession as a stimulus, is a good idea.

    If by the nature of your policies, encourage some of the people in the group you identify to obtain gainful employment, they are contributing more to the demand economy than if we are appropriating tax dollars merely to pay all of them to “harmlessly vegetate somewhere.” If you

    then you’ve never had to work with any such individuals.

    I work for a state government. There are many dedicated and caring employees here. There are also many employees that take full advantage of a system where it is very very difficult to be fired. So, yes, I would say I work with some people like that. It is frustrating, but I think their work ultimately benefits society more than paying them to sit at home and do nothing.

  84. Ben P says

    you think people will prefer to live on welfare than have a job.

    And this is especially stupid given that you’ve repeatedly admitted that most of the fraud you see comes from places where alternatives are simply not present.

    I don’t just think, there, I know some people will.

    And I think those are quite realistically two separate things. Again, with the system you have versus what might be idea. We have unemployment for people who can’t find work and disability for people who can’t work. Encouraging people to seek disability because they can’t find work subverts the system.

  85. says

    But at the same time I very seriously want to ask the question why it’s in society’s best interest to incentivize staying home when it can attempt to incentivize other things.

    you say shit like this, and what I hear is “let’s tie welfare benefits to kids’ grades, that’ll incentivise those lazy, dumb, poors!”

    people’s kids have been taken away because of their drug use, abuse or basic child care skills that are so lacking the children are actually in danger. It’s not just poverty

    oh yeah; those things, totes not correlated with living in poverty. *headache*

    if a neglect complaint is made and the workers investigate and find that could be remedied by you getting furniture or getting food stamps

    I’m not sure you understand what poverty is like. I can’t think of any long-term problem caused by poverty that can be fixed with a one-time provision of furniture, of all things 0.o

    Yet in a non-trivial percentage of my cases, probably between 15 and 25%, the parents never improve.

    does their level of poverty/the level of poverty in their environment? You do understand that most welfare stuff as it currently exists is a mere bandaid on a bleeding wound?

    they don’t stop using drugs or fail out of rehab, they don’t make attempts to clean up their living arrangements, or attend the counseling that the state is going to pay for, etc etc. And in a very rough estimate, I’d say probably 50% of the families we work with have at least one member “on disability.” As in “what do you?” “oh, I’m on disability.”

    if you’d ask me, they sound lika a)every chronically depressed person I’ve ever known; b)prime examples of “learned helplessness”, a mental condition often caused by systemic oppression. How again would it be better to kick these folks off welfare?

  86. Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I) says

    Ben,

    You still haven’t answered the fundamental question here: Is the toll in people dying from poverty worth making sure a few people “don’t cheat the system”?

  87. says

    Encouraging people to seek disability because they can’t find work subverts the system.

    you say that as if it were a bad thing

  88. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    But at the same time I very seriously want to ask the question why it’s in society’s best interest to incentivize staying home when it can attempt to incentivize other things.

    Who gives a shit what a evidenceless fool want to wank about. No facts, nothing but idiotlogical wanking.

  89. Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I) says

    Jadehawk@97

    Yep, next he’ll start whining about socialists and income redistribution OH WAIT

  90. says

    It is frustrating, but I think their work ultimately benefits society more than paying them to sit at home and do nothing.

    so that’s a “no”. Hint: if you don’t regularly end up doing their work for them, you are not working with one of those “pathologically lazy” individuals

  91. says

    If by the nature of your policies, encourage some of the people in the group you identify to obtain gainful employment, they are contributing more to the demand economy than if we are appropriating tax dollars merely to pay all of them to “harmlessly vegetate somewhere.”

    no, you don’t. the pathologically lazy don’t produce anything, they make their co-workers do their work; and then they get fired, contributing to expensive turnover-rates; or they steal from the company instead of the government, and then we all and up paying for their jailtime and court appearances.

  92. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Encouraging people to seek disability because they can’t find work subverts the system.

    In your OPINION, which *FLOOSH* is dismissed as irrelevant.

  93. Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I) says

    Jadehawk@101

    no, you don’t. the pathologically lazy don’t produce anything, they make their co-workers do their work; and then they get fired, contributing to expensive turnover-rates; or they steal from the company instead of the government, and then we all and up paying for their jailtime and court appearances.

    Not to mention that the slightly more motivated individuals might have more incentive to criminal activity in other areas. Poverty and a lack of social safety nets almost always leads to higher rates of crime and violence. Further limiting or even removing the already piss-poor infrastructure to cover the poor will result is a new gilded age, in the worst sense. Beautiful, pristine white enclaves, surrounded by the poor dying in the streets.

  94. says

    Yep, next he’ll start whining about socialists and income redistribution OH WAIT

    it’s not even that. it’s the utter incoherence of considering giving people money to spend to be pulling the money out of the economy. And that’s in addition to the odd belief that the government is somehow not part of the marketplace.

  95. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Ben P, until you evidence there is a problem (and your WORD is bullshit without evidence), this discussion is nothing but you wanking your idiotology at us. Stop embarrassing yourself, as all folks like you do. You just don’t realize how inane and irrelevant you sound to sane, rational, and empathetic folks like us here.

  96. says

    and another bit of ridiculousness about the quote is forgetting that those 5 bucks, if taken from the right part of the economy, was not going to do nearly as much economic work as it will once you hand it to someone who’ll dump all of it back into the economy at the basic consumer-level (see: declining marginal utility of wealth)

  97. codemonkey says

    @PZ Myers

    But here’s the funny thing. The paper does not call itself conservative, or right wing, or pro-Republican, or anything like that…no, the label splattered on the front page and scattered throughout is that they are “classically liberal”. OK, sure, there was and is a movement that arose in 19th century Europe that mirrors the goals of a certain current political subgroup, but the meaning of the labels have shifted in the US, so that phrase is now an attempt at obfuscation. “Classical liberalism” is basically identical to “Modern libertarianism”, and on some issues (such as the importance of capitalism) it’s farther to the right than modern conservatives, and on others (personal liberty, for instance), it makes noises about being somewhere towards the left — although a paper that decries abortion and gay marriage isn’t quite so tolerant as they’d like to claim.

    To be clear, the “classical liberals” of the European Enlightenment are not modern libertarians. Locke, Voltaire, Mill, John Smith, Thomas Paine, most were adamant supporters of progressive taxation and government social programs for the poor. They were also very pro freedom and pro civil rights. (Barring some common unfortunate themes of the times, such as bigoted against blacks and other “savages”, and probably unfortunate stances w.r.t. women.)

    I am a classical liberal, in the sense of those writers and thinkers of the European Enlightenment. I am disgusted by the modern libertarians who try and claim the European Enlightenment as libertarianism. So much that I don’t use the term classical liberal in most circumstances because of how easily it might be confused. I call myself an (European) Enlightenment liberal when asked. Pro-pro, pro civil liberties, pro especially JS Mill’s arm principle, and especially in the context of being against government action which is meant to protect me from myself because the government thinks it knows better than me what is good for me. So, I’m a capitalist, and a socialist, and a European Enlightenment liberal. I’m for whatever policy is best for achieving human happiness and human freedom and human well-being.

  98. jefrir says

    Yet in a non-trivial percentage of my cases, probably between 15 and 25%, the parents never improve. they don’t stop using drugs or fail out of rehab, they don’t make attempts to clean up their living arrangements, or attend the counseling that the state is going to pay for, etc etc. And in a very rough estimate, I’d say probably 50% of the families we work with have at least one member “on disability.” As in “what do you?” “oh, I’m on disability.”

    And how would taking benefits away from them help that, exactly?

    A fundamental theme that’s run through my comments and something I do believe relatively strongly is that people respond to incentives. If you make it more worthwhile to stay on welfare than to scrounge for a job, that’s exactly what people are going to do. And it absolutely shouldn’t be suprising when they do, nor do I particularly attach moral judgment to that.

    It always amazes me that people will come up with something like this, and then zoom straight to “and therefore we should take welfare away, to make not working as shitty as possible” rather than going for, say, “we should provide more jobs for people to do” or “we should institute a decent minimum wage” or “we should provide government benefits to the working poor as well as the unemployed or disabled, so working doesn’t end up costing people money”.

  99. says

    They were also very pro freedom and pro civil rights. (Barring some common unfortunate themes of the times, such as bigoted against blacks and other “savages”, and probably unfortunate stances w.r.t. women.)

    so basically exactly like modern libertarians: pro-freedom for the white, upper-class dudes; pro-systemic oppression for everyone else. just sayin’.

  100. says

    “we should provide government benefits to the working poor as well as the unemployed or disabled, so working doesn’t end up costing people money”.

    also, to poor students, so that poor folks won’t have to make the choice between paying rent/eating and furthering their education to get a chance in a different sector of the economy

  101. says

    you know what the conversation “Ben vs horde” reminds me of? lawful neutral vs chaotic good arguments about absolutely every mission ever.

  102. codemonkey says

    @Jadehawk

    They were also very pro freedom and pro civil rights. (Barring some common unfortunate themes of the times, such as bigoted against blacks and other “savages”, and probably unfortunate stances w.r.t. women.)

    so basically exactly like modern libertarians: pro-freedom for the white, upper-class dudes; pro-systemic oppression for everyone else. just sayin’.

    Your comment misses the very real differences between the thinkers of the European Enlightenment and modern libertarians. Your comment also misses the very real fact that modern western liberty and freedom for all races, genders, sexual orientations, etc., can be directly traced back to the morals and values proposed by those people.

    So, in short, I think you have no clue what you’re talking about. You have some reading to do.

  103. says

    I think you have no clue what you’re talking about.

    and I think it’s incredibly hilarious that you managed to get this indignant at me pointing out that modern libertarians still live in the 17th and 18th century, mentally.

  104. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    Ben P.

    I handle cases every day where people’s kids have been taken away because of their drug use, abuse or basic child care skills that are so lacking the children are actually in danger. It’s not just poverty, because those cases don’t get to me, if a neglect complaint is made and the workers investigate and find that could be remedied by you getting furniture or getting food stamps, the agency has a budget to get parents furniture or food stamps or whatever to try to remedy that. It’s only if that doesn’t help that the kids get picked up.

    Yet in a non-trivial percentage of my cases, probably between 15 and 25%, the parents never improve. they don’t stop using drugs or fail out of rehab, they don’t make attempts to clean up their living arrangements, or attend the counseling that the state is going to pay for, etc etc. And in a very rough estimate, I’d say probably 50% of the families we work with have at least one member “on disability.” As in “what do you?” “oh, I’m on disability.”

    I freely admit this is a huge sample bias, because I just see the worst cases. But it’s also there and has to be dealt with.

    DUDE. I’m so fucking pissed right now at this. This explains exactly how the shelter used CPS against me and why they threatened to take away my child without actually helping me with any of the problems like depression, dental care, health care and job help. It’s just another tool used to beat us poor people down.

    I have extreme pain from tooth problems and yes, I’ve taken ‘illegal’ drugs to help deal with the pain. But I’m not addicted – I’ve been able to stop and start as need for pain management since the entire system is set up TO NOT ACTUALLY HELP ME.

    So yeah, FUCK YOU. I have no doubt that I’d fit your fucked up “worthless wastes of space who don’t deserve the help category”, even though I absolutely DO ‘deserve’ (fuck I hate the use of that word here) help.

    I don’t just think, there, I know some people will.

    And I think those are quite realistically two separate things. Again, with the system you have versus what might be idea. We have unemployment for people who can’t find work and disability for people who can’t work. Encouraging people to seek disability because they can’t find work subverts the system.

    Unemployment has a time limit and a money limit! What about those that work minimum wage and get less than that when they go to file unemployment? How are you suppose to survive off of that while looking for a job? What if, like now, there isn’t jobs?

    Or what about people like me who have a crappy work history because of MS attacks and no one is willing to hire?

    I’m not surviving right now because of food stamps but because of a roommate and The Horde. They saved my life and my child. We’re still here despite the system, not because of it.

    Fuck yeah, subvert the current system. It needs to be dismantled and rebuilt to actually be fucking helpful anyways. Quite frankly, my child and I’s survival is FAR MORE important that any standard placed on me by people who don’t give a fuck about us and have no idea what it’s like.

  105. codemonkey says

    @Jadehawk
    I’m getting indignant that you openly claimed that the European Enlightenment writers are the “moral equivalent” of modern day libertarians. You should not make claims on subjects you obviously know nothing about.

  106. Tethys says

    They were also very pro freedom and pro civil rights. (Barring some common unfortunate themes of the times, such as bigoted against blacks and other “savages”, and probably unfortunate stances w.r.t. women.

    codemonkey

    I am very curious as to how one can be pro civil rights and simultaneously bigoted against blacks?

  107. vaiyt says

    If you make it more worthwhile to stay on welfare than to scrounge for a job, that’s exactly what people are going to do.

    If.

    Since that situation does not correspond to reality, your whining makes no sense.

  108. Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I) says

    Codemonkey@115

    Awww. Someone’s upset that their precious economic system of “Fuck you, got mine” was dismissed as regressive backwards bullshit. Won’t someone think of the poor, enlightened white man’s burden?

    Jadehawk@111

    you know what the conversation “Ben vs horde” reminds me of? lawful neutral vs chaotic good arguments about absolutely every mission ever.

    More like every party vs that asshole who plays a chaotic neutral kender.

  109. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    #88 Ben P.

    A small part of my work is handling administrative hearings from people applying denials of benefits or agency determinations. Typically that means I defend the decision of some case worker who denied some form of benefit. As you might expect, I see a lot of meritless cases, but I also get to tell workers in some cases that they damn well shouldn’t have denied those cases.

    But you still defend them? Yeah, way to fight the system. Defend those asshole case workers when they are wrong!

    Also, just because the worker could under the rules deny their clients claim doesn’t mean they are “scammers, chronically lazy or don’t deserve the help”. The rules are there to beat us down and defend the case works, not actually help us. There is plenty of times where legit cases are denied due to late paperwork (because holy fuck the system is hard to navigate/deal with).

    You’re perspective is SO jacked up because you’re only looking at it through your profession and not fucking empathizing or imaging what it’s like to be one of us.

    Everything you’ve said comes with “This is what I see and yeah, I could be biased but it’s not like I’m going to change my opinion at all no matter what you say.”

  110. Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I) says

    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness@119

    Everything you’ve said comes with “This is what I see and yeah, I could be biased but it’s not like I’m going to change my opinion at all no matter what you say.”

    Really highlights Ben’s attitude of “Fucking lazy poor people.” I am brought to mind of a certain attitude, espoused in a quote:

    “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”
    –popularly to John Steinbeck

  111. The Mellow Monkey says

    codemonkey

    I’m getting indignant that you openly claimed that the European Enlightenment writers are the “moral equivalent” of modern day libertarians. You should not make claims on subjects you obviously know nothing about.

    They were bigots. They didn’t take into account that not everyone started with their privileged position, that not everyone would benefit from the same things they benefited from, and that all human beings are actually, y’know, human. It happens. Many first-wave feminists were also bigots. It’s important to acknowledge and be aware of that bigotry and look to see where it has influenced modern thought so that when we admire historical activists and writers we don’t find ourselves repeating their prejudices.

  112. says

    the meaning of the labels have shifted in the US, so that phrase is now an attempt at obfuscation. “Classical liberalism” is basically identical to “Modern libertarianism”, and on some issues (such as the importance of capitalism) it’s farther to the right than modern conservatives, and on others (personal liberty, for instance), it makes noises about being somewhere towards the left

    The odd thing is, the labels have shifted, as far as I can tell, ONLY in the USA and perhaps Canada. All other countries on the planet agree that “liberal” means right-wing. In my home country, Germany, the party that calls itself liberal is what a US American would call moderate libertarian. Here in Australia, the Liberal Party is the largest conservative party of the country. I am left-wing so if somebody called me liberal I would be offended – that term implies that I want a more unequal society.

  113. says

    I’m getting indignant that you openly claimed that the European Enlightenment writers are the “moral equivalent” of modern day libertarians.

    I didn’t actually. I said that modern libertarians holda position that qualified as enlightened several hundred years ago.

    It is however undeniable that these men were bigots. It makes no sense to say things like “they were for civil rights, except for everyone not like them, but that doesn’t count”; that’s whitewashing history, and just as inexcusable as e.g. forgetting that many suffragists were classists and racists

  114. says

    I think that “welfare fraud” in an economic thread is the equivalent of “bitchez be lying” in a rape thread.

    Of course there is such a thing as welfare fraud, and of course there are people who lie about pretty much anything. But it’s a tiny tiny proportion, and the trivial issue is pretty much always used to distract attention from the much much bigger problem. Whining about some single mother getting an extra $20 in her pocket, while the bankers waltz off with billions.

    The recent “drug testing for welfare” example is a perfect illustration – spend millions, and catch maybe half a percent to save a few thousand dollars. Because the demonisation of the poor outweighs all common sense, and all real world research.

  115. chigau (違う) says

    I am quite privileged in my life situation but I always try to imagine myself in other peoples shoes.
    Today I imagined myself as an American on social assistance with Ben P as my ‘advocate’ and I threw-up.
    I wish we still had porcupines.

  116. says

    Using matches in your example is problematic, but I’ll go with it. I think calling for the government to “ban matches” because it is possible that someone might light a fire is exactly the reaction of many liberals, and is exactly why, although I’ve voted primarily for democrats in almost every federal election since 1998, I don’t consider myself fully aligned with the democratic party either.

    Umm. In this particular case, the “kids with matches” I was referring to is Wall Street, big oil, and other people who either get hand outs they don’t need actually handing out boxes of matches, i.e., oil subsidies), or simply refusing to recognize when they are doing things that are undermining the economy, while making themselves rich, such as stripping more and more jobs down to minimum wage,, and when possible, denying those people raises, or making shady deals, which “might” be covered under the law if they didn’t either refuse to act on it, and/or repealed the laws preventing it (the equivalent of not just letting them have matches, but refusing to buy fire extinguishers, or even bothering to tell them “where” they are allowed to play with them, or what they are allowed to light on fire).

    I don’t give a damn what some millionaire wants to do with his personal money, since its only effecting *his* bank account, but when he hires people to help him, or makes it into a corporation, then starts pulling every shady, double dealing, slight of hand trick, to screw everyone lower than 4 positions below him, the customer, the government, and the entire national economy, in a bid to be the richest asshole on the planet… some sort of line was crossed, even if there is no clear legal definition for it.

    The company I work for, pulled this the “year” people started talking about there being a real economic recession. They a) lowered more caps, b) reduced staff past the point of having a skeleton crew, c) instituted more things to cover their own asses, like a mandatory store safety check, performed by the least paid, and least qualified people in the store, because hiring someone as a “janitor” would have been too costly, then d) declared the so called “entry level” position to be “temporary”, froze everyone’s pay at that level, and stated, “From now on, either they quit, move up in the company, or will be paid minimum wage, with no increases, yearly or otherwise, until/unless the minimum wage goes up. Those frozen, will also remain at their current pay, until such a time as the minimum wage rises above what they are being paid.” There are people working where I do that either a) don’t want to, b) can’t afford to (it would lose them hours due to lost seniority, thus actually lowering their income for years to move up), or c) are mentally/physically unable to work any other position, who, by this new standard… are completely screwed.

    And, this crap is **increasing** among companies in the US, even among those making billions a year, with the “economic crisis” being used as an excuse for it, even while they, by doing this, a) kill their own customer base, since there are no other jobs available, and b) give raises to the assholes setting the new policies.

    Again – what you do with your own money, I don’t have much of a problem with. But, what a corporation, especially secretly, does with their money, which effects employees that may, in totality, number almost as many people as there are living in an entire mid-western state… and, somehow that seems to me to be something ***someone*** should be paying attention to, and doing more than chiding them with harsh language, or, at worst, slapping them hand over.

  117. says

    This sort of sets up a “the way things are” vs the way they “ought to be” problem, but I’ll go there anyway. I’ve said I don’t disagree with a basic income sort of system, but our current system establishes the goal that if you are able to work, you are expected to do so…

    Actually, we have both. The first one is called “minimum wage”, and the expectation is that it shouldn’t matter if you are scrubbing toilets for minimum wage, or something playing a character the scrubs toilets on TV (probably for vastly more money), you should still be making enough to live off of. Funny thing though.. The same people that “expect you to work, if you can”, also appose, almost 1:1 any real increase in that minimum, which would actually make it possible to have it happen, and, even more insanely, some companies, Wallmart being the single best example, not only won’t pay anything other than that $3+ ***too low*** wage to a new hire, but quite often prefers to give them even less hours (15 or less), per week, at that wage. There are people ***on*** disability who are *allow* to work more hours than companies that pay poverty wages anyway, won’t even give them.

    So, its all wonderful to “expect” people to work for a living, but, its pretty damn stupid if a) the can’t get hours, b) they are being paid wages that have 10+ years behind what it actually costs to live on, never mind raise a family, and c) if they do work such a shitty job, they can’t get assistance, if they, by some miracle, manage to not be actually disabled, or work one single hour over the “limit” they are allowed, while getting benefits.

    The whole system is stacked in such a way that you can starve on the government dime, or starve on the corporate payroll, or take 3-4 jobs, work 70 hours a week, and still *barely* be able to pay your bills, for your kid’s clothes, food, etc., assuming, of course, the kid doesn’t join a gang, become a drug seller, or worse, because you are never at home to actually be a fraking parent. And, if one of you can’t work, besides, you are *really* screwed then.

    So, yeah, the whole “basic wages” thing sounds all good and stuff, maybe you can explain why the F you are not having a nice long chat on the phone with some of the assholes who call themselves Libertarian/Conservative/Tea Party, and asking, “Why the hell won’t you raise the ‘basic wage’ requirement for companies?” Or, are you one of those, “You can’t force assho.. I mean ‘companies’ to pay people, so we should do it using the government”, which will ***never fucking happen***, because the same people that appose forcing a living wage (never mind something sensible like making it go up automatically as the cost of living does), also appose “socialism”?

  118. unclefrogy says

    the only theme that consistently runs through Ben’s comments is resentment, it resentment runs through strongly through all conservative thinking. I do not doubt that Ben votes democratic but he is conservative.
    Resentment is the main theme used in conservative speeches it is always hit on at least once. Rush has made his career on being able to stimulate his audiences resentments.
    Ben resents other people not having to work so he will not see what is going on, how the poor became poor and why they remain poor.
    The conservative does not recognize unemployment as having any thing to do poverty, nor education, nor depression and other psychological problems.
    People used to just have to work with the bad back, or repetitive work related injuries cause by the work and the working conditions until they were crippled by it and just lost the ability to work. Not any more now they just fake it so they can get some free money because there is so little work in their area that will pay what the work is really worth let alone a living wage.
    I do not care one whit for his opinions nor his resentment.
    the poor are not the cause of the debt problem and have never been the problem. They are a very small part of the spending that goes toward the debt.
    I my opinion our current debt problem if it is as bad as it is made out to be seems to be other opinions on that is caused primarily from conservative republican policies of spending that includes our military adventures and the idea that they do not want to tax themselves to pay for the big government want so it can do what the laws they pass say they are supposed to do then complain that the government is a failure.
    No amount of repackaging is going change that or side issues like welfare cheats or drug addicts or queers, or abortion or foreign workers convince any one that they anything positive to contribute .
    uncle frogy

  119. says

    #114 JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    So yeah, FUCK YOU. I have no doubt that I’d fit your fucked up “worthless wastes of space who don’t deserve the help category”, even though I absolutely DO ‘deserve’ (fuck I hate the use of that word here) help.

    You have the ‘right’ to get help, because you’re a human being.

    @Ben P: Compassion is really not that hard. You should try it.

  120. halfspin says

    So, anyways, about that disability thing, and being unable to work productively.

    If it hadn’t been for my depression I wouldn’t have been fired from my job a couple of years ago. That cost me, well, somewhere in the range of eight figures. I probably deserved it so I don’t have much right to complain, and I’m still doing well enough not to have major financial worries. Disability is a real thing, though, and mere economic incentives aren’t always enough to overcome them, and plenty of people have way more serious disabilities that leave them in way more precarious and unfortunate financial situations.

    Ok, I guess maybe I just wanted to confess what an absolute idiot I was to give that kind of opportunity up because I felt too depressed and wasn’t productive enough. I’m not sure what I’m looking for, absolution or sympathy or just honest human reaction or something. It’s not like I’ve suffered some horrible tragedy, I just had a golden opportunity and fucked it up because I was depressed. And now I get to regret it, which is just more depressing.

    Sometimes the only thing I can like about myself is that I have finally learned to recognize folks like Rand Paul as compassionless charlatans. Whatever would have made me happier and more productive, it wasn’t more money and lower taxes.

  121. Dauphni says

    I may be a little late with this, because of how fast comment threads tend to move, but I’d really like to thank everybody who took the time to answer my question. A lot of food for thought. Again, thanks everyone!