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Debates Forum

  1. 05 Oct '11 21:26 / 2 edits
    I was looking at this chart:

    http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/NA-BN588_Benefi_G_20111005140904.jpg

    According to the chart, in 1983 less than 1/3 of US households received public assitance. Today nearly half of all US households receive public assistance.

    It seems to me that this is simply unsustainable. It seems to me that a nation that has nearly half of its population on public assistance will be crushed by the debt that it will create.

    What percentage of a population can a government realistically support?
  2. 05 Oct '11 21:45
    Originally posted by Eladar
    I was looking at this chart:

    http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/NA-BN588_Benefi_G_20111005140904.jpg

    According to the chart, in 1983 less than 1/3 of US households received public assitance. Today nearly half of all US households receive public assistance.

    It seems to me that this is simply unsustainable. It seems to me that a nation that ...[text shortened]... hat it will create.

    What percentage of a population can a government realistically support?
    Do you have reference to the kinds and amounts of benefits?
  3. 05 Oct '11 21:47
    stop pouring aid into every other country in the world?
  4. Standard member finnegan
    GENS UNA SUMUS
    05 Oct '11 22:39
    Originally posted by Eladar
    I was looking at this chart:

    http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/NA-BN588_Benefi_G_20111005140904.jpg

    According to the chart, in 1983 less than 1/3 of US households received public assitance. Today nearly half of all US households receive public assistance.

    It seems to me that this is simply unsustainable. It seems to me that a nation that ...[text shortened]... hat it will create.

    What percentage of a population can a government realistically support?
    Any proposal for a decent form of welfare provision (Beveridge is the model, surely) usually assumes reasonable levels of employment at decent wages. If you have an economy which combines escalating levels of unemployment, underemployment through part time work, and a low wage economy where many employers offer wages below subsistence levels, then certainly the costs of welfare will mushroom.

    To ask if that is affordable it would help to know what proportion of the economic wealth has been commandeered by the remaining population. In an increasingly unequal economy, where excessive rewards go to a reducing proportion of the people, arguably that wealthy minority can afford a lot. Of course it is more difficult when the burden of contributions is unfairly biased to low and middle income levels, while the rich and especially the super rich have generous exemptions if not total evasion.

    More reasonably, one would look for measures to increase employment and improve both wages and security in employment. That would of course require that those who control wealth acquire their wealth more fairly and contribute more equitably to the cost of maintaining a decent society, not only through welfare but through the measures required to regulate an economy in the collective interest of all its population.

    Since Americans have been programmed to believe that anything short of dog-eat-dog is a communist conspiracy, however, it is likely that your question has no more reasonable answer than the (satirical) proposal by Swift for the Irish (viz the poor) to eat their babies.
  5. 06 Oct '11 00:10
    aquire their wealth more fairly?
  6. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    06 Oct '11 00:28
    Originally posted by Hugh Glass
    stop pouring aid into every other country in the world?
    U.S. government development aid in 2009 was only 0.21% of GNI so, while it would be wrong to trivialize or downplay this strategic investment in developing countries, it would also be wrong to overestimate how big or significant a financial 'saving' that this cut would create.
  7. 06 Oct '11 01:03
    So what do you propose to be done instead? Crime...poverty?
  8. Standard member wittywonka
    Chocolate Expert
    06 Oct '11 01:45
    Originally posted by Hugh Glass
    stop pouring aid into every other country in the world?
    How do you define "aid"?
  9. Standard member spruce112358
    Democracy Advocate
    06 Oct '11 04:17
    Originally posted by finnegan
    Any proposal for a decent form of welfare provision (Beveridge is the model, surely) usually assumes reasonable levels of employment at decent wages. If you have an economy which combines escalating levels of unemployment, underemployment through part time work, and a low wage economy where many employers offer wages below subsistence levels, then certainly ...[text shortened]... answer than the (satirical) proposal by Swift for the Irish (viz the poor) to eat their babies.
    If you are concerned about unemployment and wages, why do you keep allowing foreign labor to flood into the US -- both legally and illegally?

    Competition lowers prices extremely efficiently -- for labor as well as it does for goods. If you hire Chinese programmers and Mexican construction workers and Honduran chamber maids and Russian check-out clerks, then of course average US wages are going to stay the same or go down. There was never any doubt about that.
  10. 06 Oct '11 14:36
    Originally posted by spruce112358
    If you are concerned about unemployment and wages, why do you keep allowing foreign labor to flood into the US -- both legally and illegally?

    Competition lowers prices extremely efficiently -- for labor as well as it does for goods. If you hire Chinese programmers and Mexican construction workers and Honduran chamber maids and Russian check-out clerk ...[text shortened]... se average US wages are going to stay the same or go down. There was never any doubt about that.
    Why is one related to the other? The US could create full employment within a couple of months if it wanted to.
  11. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    06 Oct '11 22:49
    Originally posted by spruce112358
    If you are concerned about unemployment and wages, why do you keep allowing foreign labor to flood into the US -- both legally and illegally?

    Competition lowers prices extremely efficiently -- for labor as well as it does for goods. If you hire Chinese programmers and Mexican construction workers and Honduran chamber maids and Russian check-out clerk ...[text shortened]... se average US wages are going to stay the same or go down. There was never any doubt about that.
    The answer to that seems clear; the people running the show in the US find unemployment and the resulting downward pressure on wages as a "good thing". They will keep finding this a "good thing" until very strong political pressure is brought to bear (which hasn't happened yet and won't happen in the present political system of two big money parties).
  12. Subscriber AThousandYoung
    Poor Filipov :,(
    07 Oct '11 03:32
    Originally posted by Eladar
    I was looking at this chart:

    http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/NA-BN588_Benefi_G_20111005140904.jpg

    According to the chart, in 1983 less than 1/3 of US households received public assitance. Today nearly half of all US households receive public assistance.

    It seems to me that this is simply unsustainable. It seems to me that a nation that ...[text shortened]... hat it will create.

    What percentage of a population can a government realistically support?
    As the rich get richer the poor get poorer.
  13. Standard member spruce112358
    Democracy Advocate
    07 Oct '11 06:54
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    The answer to that seems clear; the people running the show in the US find unemployment and the resulting downward pressure on wages as a "good thing". They will keep finding this a "good thing" until very strong political pressure is brought to bear (which hasn't happened yet and won't happen in the present political system of two big money parties).
    Yes, although the two parties do it for different reasons. Republicans like low wages because it is seen as pro business, Democrats like poor people because they tend to vote Democrat. It's an unholy alliance, and the losers are the American people.

    I would be for immigration if I could easily take my labor (and saved dollars) over to a less rich country and compete with them on THEIR home turf -- using my massively greater education and purchasing power to build a plantation or something. (Which would by the way reduce the US labor pool and wages would go up.) But poorer countries call that colonialism and tell Yankee to go home. Fine, but then they can stay out of the US. That's only fair.
  14. Standard member finnegan
    GENS UNA SUMUS
    07 Oct '11 21:58 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by spruce112358
    I would be for immigration if I could easily take my labor (and saved dollars) over to a less rich country and compete with them on THEIR home turf -- using my massively greater education and purchasing power to build a plantation or something. (Which would by the way reduce the US labor pool and wages would go up.) But poorer countries call that colonialism and tell Yankee to go home. Fine, but then they can stay out of the US. That's only fair.
    This is fun. The reason people in less developed countries complain about colonialism is precisely because people in more developed countries have indeed been bringing their superior education and resources into their countries and taking the best for themselves. Certainly the British (and Irish) have for centuries expected to travel with complete freedom into other lands, trading unfairly and taking up land and jobs at the expense of the locals but in the past century - maybe two - Americans (who colonised the Americas) have done much the same. It's just that the master race seems to want this deal to be entirely one way.

    You seem to be saying that because you cannot now build a plantation in another country (possibly with a bit of slave labour to operate it?) then people from other countries should not be allowed to take up a low paid job as a domestic servant in your country, though plenty of American and British multinationals are doing just fine exploiting the Third World with modern day reincarnations of that model: check out Nigeria for example, or the buying up of land for agribusiness across Africa, or the child labour making your clothes.

    The more you think about your racist clap-trap about unfair competition by immigrants for American jobs, the more unpleasant and ludicrous is your claim to a "massively greater education." What did you learn? It was not history, or geography, or economics, or sociology, or much at all really, was it? It highlights the question of quite how Silicon Valley would cope without creaming off top mathematicians, scientists and engineers from India and China, now that American education prefers to promote Creationism or, in your case, plain stupidity.
  15. Standard member finnegan
    GENS UNA SUMUS
    07 Oct '11 22:25
    Originally posted by Hugh Glass
    aquire their wealth more fairly?
    Yes. For example the imposition of a decent minimum wage targets employers who rely on a welfare system to top up their inadequate wages. It helps a bit to prevent unfair competition in industries such as office cleaning or hospital cleaning that win outsourcing contracts at low prices by undercutting the living standards of their workers, driving decent employers out of the game.