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comment by kleinbl00
kleinbl00  ·  137 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Homelessness up 26% in LA YoY, 10% in Seattle , *61%* among LA youthx 2

"These people" are "us people" under poorer circumstances. There's a real tendency for people to think that poverty reflects a moral or intellectual failing but it's a shamefully dismissive way to view the problem.




coffeesp00ns  ·  137 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I will be honest, this is a sentiment that I saw over and over and over when i was in Ohio. I lived in Northeast Ohio which is okay as prosperity goes, but Akron, where I lived and went to school, was a town in the grips of a serious poverty problem.

But you would see the people who were themselves on social assistance being the most harsh on other people. "I'm having a tough time, I lost my job," "I'm having a hard time, my husband was diagnosed with a blood cancer and we have no medical insurance", "I'm having a had time, our son was born with brittle bones." There was always a reason that they were on social assistance, waiting in line at the food bank. But the next half of their line... "I'm having a hard time for x reason. But that guy in front of me? He just needs to work harder! he just needs to pull himself up by his bootstraps and find a job, work more hours."

Basically, "I have a reason and deserve this help, but these other people deserve their suffering."

I was told it comes from the concept that every poor American believes they're just a "Temporarily Embarrassed Millionaire", combined with the other, more biblical concept that all of the other people in their situation deserve their suffering because of either something they did, or more commonly something they didn't do.

kleinbl00  ·  137 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Nick Reding has a good take on this. So does George Packer. Reding observed that amphetamines are a uniquely American (and German - after all, the Nazis were big on speed) drug in that it aids your productivity, as opposed to hurting it, and the "Protestant work ethic" holds forth that salvation can be earned through effort. Packer, meanwhile, makes a good argument that much of the dissatisfaction prevalent in the modern United States is that we have a long-held expectation of social and economic mobility but current conditions have led to stratification unlike anything we've seen since Tom Joad.

"I would be succeeding if I weren't experiencing an undue level of hardship" is a good out from that trap, at least mentally. One has to be paying a lot more attention to their neighbors to understand that their level of hardship isn't nearly as unique as they think. But even if they do, it's not like they can really do anything about it, so it's easier to convince yourself that opportunity is yours as soon as you face your unique challenges.

I mean, Job was loved by God, even if he did fuck him over hard for decades. We are The Chosen Ones and if things aren't on the up'n'up, it's a temporary setback. Will Durant argued that the reason there haven't been any great Hindu empires is that the religion holds any suffering will be compensated the next time 'round the Karma wheel so there's no reason to strive for betterment. Pretty politically incorrect sentiment but hey - it was 1935 and he did go as far as saying that Gandhi was a new and unique force in 4,000 years of Indian history.

throwaway12  ·  137 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I didn't mean to imply that there is a moral failing. I don't think people who are in poverty are at all at fault for being in that situation. Although I think there may be an intellectual failing of sorts in terms of "trained to do the wrong job".

There are a few cases of poverty:

A person's work isn't valuable, and they can be educated and made to do work that is more valuable.

There is a finite amount of valuable work, and too many people to sustainable do that work.

A person's work is valuable, but systematic factors force them into poverty or do not properly reward the work.

I'm assuming it is a combination of one and two. Birth control and poverty means fewer people born to fill the shrinking pool of needed labor. Education allows those who aren't able to do valuable work to learn how to do the more valuable work. I'm not assuming these people are bad or anything like that, just that it is either literally impossible for them to get ahead in life due to lack of need for labor or that they are held back by education.

If they need education, we should give it to them, along with all other support they need, and our investments as a society will pay off very well. If there just isn't enough labor demand, we have to give them assistance to live while also encouraging people not to have kids so that we don't have this problem in the future.

It has nothing to do with who these people are, it has everything to do with the work they are doing and the value that work provides to the larger society. Bagging groceries is not valuable enough to offset the costs of building and maintaining an apartment complex in the current economy. More and more, as machines make our labor worth less, people's jobs will be falling under this "line of value" unless they are moved to higher ground.

kleinbl00  ·  137 days ago  ·  link  ·  

something something blueberries

Something you said:

    Maybe we are just in an era where the work these people do just isn't worth the cost of an apartment.

But the work they did used to be worth the cost of an apartment. The work hasn't changed, yet the homeless rate has risen. They held up their end of the bargain. This is the thrust of the "shrinking real wages" problem: if you do useful work within a society, that society should give you a useful reward. Are the robots bagging groceries? Are they flipping burgers? Or is that work still being done by people? And why have we tilted society such that these tasks are no longer allowing people to sustain themselves?

'cuz here's the thing: the social contract doesn't just protect you, it protects you from roving bands of brigands. I want that grocery bagger to make a living wage because that means he's invested in the same vision for society as I am. He's a citizen. His kids go to school. He votes in the same elections I do. I make that guy the underclass and all of a sudden, I'm a privileged minority surrounded by hostiles who hold me up as the reason for their oppression.

And the last thing I want to do is tell them to stop having kids 'cuz they're poor. (1) They're poor NOW and my condescension doesn't fix things (2) Who elected me god? Children are the embodiment of hope for parents and here I am, deciding they get none. I'd wanna shoot me, too.

Some jobs will always pay better than others. But we actively harm society when we decide entire classes of jobs shouldn't earn enough to support someone. Walmart costs this country $6 billion in welfare. Walmart made $118b in profit that year. So in a way, we are helping out... but if Walmart raised their wages to something resembling livable they'd give up on less than 8% of their profits.

The homeless rate in LA is up 26%. Meanwhile, there's a $250m spec mansion for sale. and LA is on the bottom of the top 10.

I don't think we need to worry about birth control. I think we need to pay poor people better.

throwaway12  ·  136 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    But the work they did used to be worth the cost of an apartment.

We've got a lot more people, the same amount of resources, and value isn't about what you produce, it's about the value of what you produce. In an era where there's lots and lots of old rich people maybe bagging groceries in a wealthy region of town is worth an apartment, but in an area with a bunch of fit poor people it's not going to get you anything.

The value of our labor is going down for many people as automation impacts their community. In order to progress, we must be "more" than we could have been ten years ago. But in order to be "more' we have to be made into more by our society, and that takes an investment of a lot of money, time, and effort. Secondly, it's an investment that is best made young. Once we've failed people, they are stuck. We could have decided to not fail them a decade ago, and invested heavily in our educational system while making it so that nobody has to be worried about being on the streets because they don't have a job, but we didn't, so here we are.

    Are the robots bagging groceries? Are they flipping burgers? Or is that work still being done by people? And why have we tilted society such that these tasks are no longer allowing people to sustain themselves?

Robots aren't bagging groceries, but they've put so many people in that category of labor out of the job that you now have twice as many people trying to bag groceries as you did before. And if all the jobs similar to grocery bagging have been automated then grocery bagging isn't long for this world either. If the prices of labor go down it takes longer for there to be a robot doing the job, but it also means people get treated like shit.

We could, as a society, automate many of the jobs people aren't paid much for. However, it's presently cheaper, by more factors than just cost, to treat a person like shit and have them do the job a robot could than to invest in and build a robot to do the task.

    I want that grocery bagger to make a living wage because that means he's invested in the same vision for society as I am.

I'd rather they make a living wage doing nothing than make a living wage bagging groceries, if the job can be gotten rid of. We should value human beings as more than a robot, and an overpaid grocery bagger is much worse than a person given a living wage for free. A bored person who is supported by society is way way better than a person supported by society and forced to do a menial and useless job.

A robot can bag groceries, let the grocery baggers do something else. Paid well or not, a person bagging groceries their whole life is a waste of human life, which is why the job pays like shit. Do a robot's job, get a robot's wage.

    Walmart made $118b in profit that year. So in a way, we are helping out... but if Walmart raised their wages to something resembling livable they'd give up on less than 8% of their profits.

They'd fire everyone bagging groceries because their jobs aren't worth a living wage. Then, rather than having a job and not much money, they'll have no job and no money. See back above where I say we should give living wages for no work rather than living wages for work that isn't worth a living wage. I'd be very willing to support people being able to quit their jobs and still live a happy life without work.

But is such a situation really realistic? People aren't generally the empathetic forward thinking types, at least on the non-personal stage, and we aren't getting an ideal society in my opinion. Instead, we are absolutely getting one where "those lazy bastards aren't getting any of my money!".

>And the last thing I want to do is tell them to stop having kids 'cuz they're poor

Remember that the rich are already not having kids. They are able to be in tune to what's going on in society and make decisions on it because they have the wealth necessary to control their lives. The poor don't. Getting the poor to stop having kids isn't a matter of forcing them to not have kids, that's absurd, inhuman, unhealthy for society, and just won't work well in the long run (one child policy). Instead, it's about giving them more knowledge and control of their life, and they will decide to not have kids on their own.

In an era where we need more and more people to do labor, children are a moral imperative. Our culture and society twists itself in a knot trying to help and support as many children as it can. Mothers become expected to stay at home and pop out children all day. Fathers are expected to devote their whole life to supporting a family. Republicans who hate birth control and abortions at the same time still live in this era, or likely many of them used to live in this era, and are still mentally there, which is why their logic doesn't make sense if you don't view it from that context.

We don't live in that era anymore, so it becomes a moral imperative to encourage people to not have kids. Birth control, abortions, family planning, adoptions of foreign children to raise them out of poverty. Secondly, it becomes a moral imperative to make the most mentally/socially healthy people as possible, because we don't do as much physical labor anymore. Stop eating a lot to be a "big strong man" and start eating healthy so you live longer. Be politically correct. Recognize and accept those who were weird or outcasts in the past, and so on.

kleinbl00  ·  136 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Something you're fundamentally not getting: capitalism argues that a job is worth whatever the market will bear. Socialism argues that a job is worth whatever is necessary to provide a living for the worker.

Extremes in either direction don't work. We've got a hundred years of history demonstrating this. However, every problem on this page is the result of markets being favored over society. And you say things like this:

    and an overpaid grocery bagger is much worse than a person given a living wage for free.

That are offensive and nonsensical.

Why.

For what reason.

Because the job of bagging groceries has not changed, and it used to provide a living wage. If you're in a union, it still does. And maybe I'm a bleeding-heart liberal but as far as I'm concerned, if someone is going to spend eight to ten hours a day performing labor in a market system, they deserve enough to thrive. And if automation and advancement eliminate those jobs, then whatever jobs there are should pay more, not less, because it's in MY best interests as a member of this society that it not collapse under the weight of millions of idled workers fighting for scraps.

throwaway12  ·  136 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Why is it better for people to do nothing than to do menial tasks?

Because a human being is better than bagging groceries. A human being can create, they can entertain, they can get bored and spring up the next silicon valley or find a passion that revolutionizes our society.

A person bagging groceries is less likely to do sometime great. A person bagging groceries for a living can't take a risk and devote hours of their day to something new, because they have to be back at the store to bag groceries every day. If we pay people to do nothing, they'll start doing things. If we pay people to do something, and that something is stupid and not valuable, they will do essentially nothing.

    the job of bagging groceries has not changed, and it used to provide a living wage.

Same can be said for the job of waking people up in the morning, before alarm clocks were invented, or the job of repairing televisions and radio sets, or the job of working in a factory, or the job of delivering milk, and so on.

Those jobs don't exist anymore, because we found better ways to do it, and that lets/forces those people do something else. You aren't provided a wage for doing work, you are provided a wage because your work allows something to exist that couldn't have without your work. If I can get a job done without hiring someone, I won't hire someone. When amazon picks up and makes the stores count your groceries automatically, you won't be able to make any wages off of being a cashier anymore, because that job won't exist anymore.

    if someone is going to spend eight to ten hours a day performing labor in a market system, they deserve enough to thrive

A person spending 8 to 10 hours a day on a job that isn't valuable anymore is a waste of time, money, and energy.

Our problem, as a society, is that people are still doing these jobs at all. Our problem is that we've accepted that such low wages are acceptable rather than taking the little bit of extra effort required to get rid of the jobs for good. People are doing the jobs of robots, and are treated as is fit for someone in that situation. If you want people's lives to improve, for all people to get a living wage that is good for a reasonable human being, you have to have them doing the work of a human being, not a robot.

Better yet, if a job can pay a living wage, and people have the option of doing nothing instead, that job will start paying a decent amount. Paying people to do nothing is indirectly better at raising the pay of those jobs than forcing jobs to pay a living wage.

Or, you should be happy to pay them to do nothing at all because that's what you have to do if you want a healthy society. Bored people find things to occupy themselves with, we need more bored people, more people with vision and the stable foundation with which to realize that vision.

    And if automation and advancement eliminate those jobs, then whatever jobs there are should pay more, not less

They do. That's part of why inequality is skyrocketing. 10 jobs were replaced by 1, and that 1 pays very well. But we still have 10 people who need jobs.

The jobs for humans exist, but there aren't enough of them, so the people working the jobs for robots are getting treated like shit while the "upper" society does just fine. We can't pretend 8 hours of labor is worth shit. It's not about work, it's about production. We must make society encourage production, not work. To say that people must make a living wage from a job that just doesn't create a living wage's worth of goods is akin to saying that in order to get welfare one must go out and move dirt around for an hour or so.

No, just give them the money for free and we'll all be better off in the long run.

Devac  ·  136 days ago  ·  link  ·  

It's a very long way of saying "minimal wage for work needs to compete with something and that something should be the guaranteed minimal income provided for everyone". Also, Player Piano talks about very similar themes.

keifermiller  ·  136 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    More and more, as machines make our labor worth less, people's jobs will be falling under this "line of value" unless they are moved to higher ground.

Funneling the reserve army of labour ever 'higher' would be great for Capital. Then they can kill two birds with one stone: automate unskilled labor and swell the ranks of skilled workers out of scarcity thereby allowing them to lower wages for the jobs they can't automate yet.

Also make a tidy side profit retraining laborers to position themselves ahead of the tide of automation. Don't position them too far ahead of the tide and you've got a nice recurring revenue stream.

Perfect solution.

throwaway12  ·  136 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm beginning to think you may believe an alternative economic system is needed.

keifermiller  ·  136 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    needed

inevitable

What does UBI boil down to? It's a prop to keep capitalism from running off the rails once society no longer carries the structures that made it a stable social arrangement.

But it needs to do more than that to work in the long haul.

It needs to support the current economic system and it needs to suppress the reorganization of society around whatever new social structures emerge. Because those laborers are indeed human beings. If they're freed up, they're going to go into society and create new complexity.

And that newness is going to give rise to something else.

kleinbl00  ·  134 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    What does UBI boil down to? It's a prop to keep capitalism from running off the rails once society no longer carries the structures that made it a stable social arrangement.

I missed this last time. This is a fundamentally profound way of looking at UBI; the fact that nobody can afford it in any meaningful way demonstrates the problem you outline.

I read a summary of this; I haven't read the whole Davos take yet but it ostensibly argues that kids born in the past ten years in the developed world have a median life expectancy of 103 and shortfalls in paying for retirement for them are on the order of $400 trillion dollars. I need to dig deeper but I wouldn't have thought ten years ago that we could be looking at end-stage capitalism. Now? Now I think you could make a compelling argument (not sure I'm convinced yet).

throwaway12  ·  136 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    It's a prop to keep capitalism from running off the rails once society no longer carries the structures that made it a stable social arrangement.

So are unions and welfare and all sorts of things. A society that mixes and picks techniques that work the best is way better than the society that goes "well, capitalism has issues, throw it all out!"

Marx was totally wrong about communism because people adapt to their situation. We didn't run out of oil by now because people found new sources and used less. We haven't run out of copper because we invented fiber-based communication.

We are never stable as a society if you look at where we stand and extrapolate that trend into the future. What makes us stable is constant change and tweaking of ourselves. Our ability to deal with instability is what makes us stable, not the fact that our society is made to be stable.

keifermiller  ·  135 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    "well, capitalism has issues, throw it all out!"

I'm saying that one of the conditions that capitalism springs from is wage labor. It's perfect for a system that uses price to allocate resources.

Unions fight to strengthen wage laborers. Welfare provides them with a basic social safety net. They augment wage labor.

Automation is coming. It isn't augmenting. It's replacing.

Maybe we get UBI. That creates a new social class.

Maybe we don't. That swells an existing class that started this discussion.

Either way, it's going to be quite a large change. Societies are a process, yes that process seeks stability, but every so often they hit an inflection point and tip in a new direction.

That's what gave rise to capitalism in the first place. It is a process that stemmed from a change in the patterns of human activity.