Subscribe via RSS Feed

60 Minutes: The Other America

[ 85 ] March 7, 2011 |

If you missed this segment last night, please watch. It is rare to see such in-depth coverage of child poverty: Scott Pelley really puts a human face on this problem and challenges us to look around and ask how many of our neighbors and acquaintances are in, or verging on, similar circumstances, and what we can do. (I was especially touched by the story at the end: I generally offer cash on hand no questions asked to individuals I see on the street with signs, but never have I taken their number and pulled strings to actually land them a job.) It’s a thoughtful and hard-hitting commentary: my children couldn’t take their eyes or minds off it.

Thank you to 60 Minutes for reminding us to use this recession as an opportunity to reach out to those around us, and to all the young people who spoke with CBS about the challenges of their every day lives. Your incredible grace and resilience in the face of such social and economic adversity is a sheer inspiration.

Share with Sociable

Comments (85)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. TT says:

    It was a very tough piece to watch. The real scandal, however, is that the Republican Party of 2011 will tell you with a straight face that none of those kids are actually going hungry, and that they were all more than likely paid off by the “Democrat” Party. And that same Republican Party will get a sympathetic hearing on Meet the Press and from Politico and the Washington Post op-ed page, and will receive outright advocacy on its behalf from Fox News, the WSJ Editorial Page, Heritage/AEI, and elsewhere.

    Imperfect and unsatisyfing as it may sound, the only–and I mean only–solution right now is to keep organizing and voting for the Democratic Party.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

      I’m sorry, but that’s cynical nonsense. The fact that the GOP is terrible on these issues doesn’t make the Democratic Party any good on them.

      We need a more robust social safety net. Both major parties favor cutting our social safety net. Neither favors doing anything serious about the distribution of wealth or income in our society.

      For example, the Obama Administration has favored cuts in heating subsidies for the poor. And Senate and House Democrats pledge to make even deeper cuts than the President proposed in his budget.

      In response to the phony fiscal conservatism of the GOP, the Democratic leadership offers real fiscal conservatism. And fiscal conservatism will not solve the problem of the “other America.”

      The problem with the leading Democrats is not simply their deficit hawkery. Tom Harkin–who has himself endorsed the idea that we need to reduce the deficit, even in the middle of a sluggish economy–has suggested that the White House has disproportionately targeted the least well off in its budget negotiations.

      The “real scandal” is there is no viable political party in America today that cares half as much about the poorest members of our society as it does about Wall Street.

      This is not to say that there’s no difference between the two parties. There’s a very real difference: the Republicans are even worse. I voted Democratic in 2010 and will do so again in 2012 because we can’t afford to empower the greater evil.

      But the notion that electing Democrats will solve the problem of poverty in America is ludicrous.

      • Uncle Kvetch says:

        What IB said. A hundred times over.

      • Joe says:

        Not really seeing the “cynical nonsense” part. You are voting for the Democrats too. You are saying they need to do a lot more. This adds an important aspect to the solution but it doesn’t really refute what TT said.

      • TT says:

        Please point to where I said that the problem of poverty would be “solved” by electing more Democrats? No, I said that “imperfect and unsatisfying as it may sound” electing Democrats is the only viable alternative in our politics right now. Because more Democrats means more people–not all, mind you, certainly not all–who actually give a shit about the people in that piece.

        You want to argue whether electing more Democrats is a viable alternative or not, fine. Frankly, I don’t see another one; look who’s standing up for workers’ rights in Wisconsin and Ohio. But don’t put loaded words like “solve” in my mouth. What’s your alternative?

        • strannix says:

          Please point to where I said that the problem of poverty would be “solved” by electing more Democrats?

          Imperfect and unsatisyfing as it may sound, the only–and I mean only–solution right now is to keep organizing and voting for the Democratic Party.

          Perhaps you should look up the meaning of the word “solution” if you think words are being put in your mouth.

          • TT says:

            Jeez. Obviously, if you spend 10 hours and 39 minutes staring at my comment, you will see that I clearly state that poverty will be solved once and for all by electing more Democrats.

            • justin says:

              Yeah obviously. It only took me 9 hours of staring at your comment to realize that calling something a solution doesn’t mean that it’s a solution.

  2. Jason says:

    I would applaud “60 Minutes” for any good effort, but I still remember the hatchet job that show has repeatedly done to the DOD chemical demilitarization program and the DOD chemical-biological defense program. Yes, both programs have warts, but the scale of how “60 Minutes” has consistently played the bully and ignored the sound points of government policy has been atrocious. Have they really changed their spots?

  3. Brad P. says:

    I bet watching that was like a trip to the zoo for you guys.

    • Holden Pattern says:

      Note to self — downgrade Brad Potts still further from well-meaning idiot to apparent sociopath.

      • Brad P. says:

        I don’t think you understand.

        • Hogan says:

          Then why don’t you explain the innocent meaning of that remark?

          • Joe says:

            Good luck with that.

            note to self: give up responding to trollish remarks for Lent.

          • Brad P. says:

            I’m mocking the perspective of the viewers, not the situation of the those in the story.

            • Scott Lemieux says:

              Shorter Brad P.: “Since many of the people who watch news programs or read newspapers are well off, these sources should ignore issues of poverty altogether.”

              • joe from Lowell says:

                Encountering the unfamiliar “empathy” reaction from the liberals, the libertarian searches his memory for something to relate it to.

                After considering “guilt,” he finally settles on “morbid curiosity” as the nearest analogue.

            • Hogan says:

              So you’re saying that WE view them as animals.

              You don’t know a goddamn thing about me or my life, Brad. Don’t start thinking you do. But maybe we’ve just learned something important about you.

              • Brad P. says:

                So you’re saying that WE view them as animals.

                To be really accurate, I believe you look at them in a way similar to a nature lover looks at wildlife. Briefly, as objects and not subjects.

              • Brad P. says:

                I’m sure Krugman had a nice entertaining break from arguing about how bond prices show we don’t need to worry about inflation to watch that.

              • Hogan says:

                That is so exactly what people like us would do, isn’t it? You know. Those people.

              • Hogan says:

                Paul Krugman? OK, my mistake. I thought you were actually trying to say something.

              • gmack says:

                One interesting irony here is that there have been several conservatives over the last decades who have explicitly compared the poor to animals. In any case, I suppose that Brad’s suggestion that the readers here (or liberals in general?) view the poor only as objects does not make Brad into a sociopath; it does, however, make him kind of an asshole.

                Having said that, let me be generous for a moment: there is a tendency across the political spectrum to treat the poor as something other than political subjects. In many cases, they are cast as dangerous or immoral and in need of regulation and control; in others, they are treated as incompetent or pathetic and in need of our generous and paternalistic help. If this is all Brad wants to say, then I’m more or less agreed. His insinuation, however, that the readers here regard the poor in this way–particularly since he provides no evidence at all for the assertion–is just assholish for no good reason.

              • Brad P. says:

                Having said that, let me be generous for a moment: there is a tendency across the political spectrum to treat the poor as something other than political subjects. In many cases, they are cast as dangerous or immoral and in need of regulation and control; in others, they are treated as incompetent or pathetic and in need of our generous and paternalistic help. If this is all Brad wants to say, then I’m more or less agreed.

                Thank you. That is basically what I am saying.

                His insinuation, however, that the readers here regard the poor in this way–particularly since he provides no evidence at all for the assertion–is just assholish for no good reason.

                I have long felt that liberals (although this is true across the board, it just irks me more coming from liberals) tend to see the poor as statistics and anecdotes and make prescriptions based on that.

                They don’t often look at poor communities and how they organize themselves, and when they do, they are usually filled with condescension.

                So they throw the baby out with the bathwater, because if you want a pretty good model for how society should organize itself, look at some of the activities that come about in poor communities with absolutely no assistance from the government whatsoever.

                And I was going to apologize for my assholish comments, but I will not do that after the mocking I received after divulging my modest salary. The commenters on here, with exceptions, have a long way to go before I think of them as something other as arrogant jerks who are quite sure they know how proper people act.

              • mds says:

                To be fair, the fact that, despite being comfortable right now, I come from a family that qualified for those tasty blocks of government cheese food in no way changes my view of the poor as animals; it’s just that as a liberal, I also believe in Darwinism.

              • Holden Pattern says:

                And I was going to apologize for my assholish comments, but I will not do that after the mocking I received after divulging my modest salary. The commenters on here, with exceptions, have a long way to go before I think of them as something other as arrogant jerks who are quite sure they know how proper people act.

                The mocking you received (at least from me) wasn’t because of your salary. It was because of the obsequious gratefulness with which you seem to regard your employer and your salary, and your basic failure to recognize that the almighty market doesn’t actually solve real problems for most people in the same income bracket.

                It’s like you had substituted libertarianism for religion, and had built an elaborate faith-based normative justification that everyone should just be thankful for what they had got, since you were, and look at how modest your life was. And that was mock-worthy — still is in my view.

              • Brad P. says:

                [quote]It’s like you had substituted libertarianism for religion, and had built an elaborate faith-based normative justification that everyone should just be thankful for what they had got, since you were, and look at how modest your life was. And that was mock-worthy — still is in my view.

                You don’t get it at all.

                The fact that people on here couldn’t even fathom how someone could be happy in a lower income level, and therefore saying that happiness (and apparently religion too) is a product of delusion is about as detached and condescending as I could imaging one could be.

                It couldn’t be that I like the flexibility, community, lack of responsibility and under-the-radarness that my income allows. It has to be that I’m a deluded libertarian who built a religion for himself.

                And I quite plainly said that I did not expect most people to want to live like me, and I have quite plainly stated on numerous occasions that most people should not be happy with what they have.

                I just find that a lazy, white, 28 YO pot smoker with no kids who makes what I make doesn’t have much to complain about. My pay is a culmination of my choices and preferences.

              • gmack says:

                Brad–

                I didn’t follow the thread where your income came up, so I have nothing to say about that.

                As it happens, my current book is an investigation of the ways in which the poor are depicted, and also a discussion of the poor’s forms of political mobilization (my main case is the welfare rights movement of the 1960s and 70s, wherein the poor’s efforts at self-organization became most visible and most controversial). So I agree that there are strands of liberal responses to poverty that are deeply problematic for just the reasons you point out (there is a tendency, that is, only to view the poor through their neediness, or only as poor. I haven’t had time to watch it yet, but I suspect the 60 Minutes clip is likely a case in point). But there are other elements of liberal (or better, leftist) thought too, and so I generally think it’s a bad idea to make blanket statements about what this or that sort of person thinks.

              • Anonymous says:

                Bullshit, Brad. You were mocked because you took a cartoonish ascetic pose and lamented that everyone else, specifically the striking teachers in Wisconsin, couldn’t be as principled and grateful as you are. You said something pretty close to “my wife loves me, why isn’t the same enough for everyone else.”

                It’s not your salary that anyone looks down on; it’s your attitude.

              • mark f says:

                I’m the Anonymous at 1:53. I’m at an unfamiliar computer.

              • Malaclypse says:

                To be really accurate, I believe you look at them in a way similar to a nature lover looks at wildlife. Briefly, as objects and not subjects.

                Okay, a couple of weeks ago, I said that I genuinely believed Brad was not a troll, but merely someone wrong about pretty much everything.

                It seems I was correct on the latter part of that statement, but wrong on the former. I regret the error.

              • Brad P. says:

                Bullshit, Brad. You were mocked because you took a cartoonish ascetic pose and lamented that everyone else, specifically the striking teachers in Wisconsin, couldn’t be as principled and grateful as you are. You said something pretty close to “my wife loves me, why isn’t the same enough for everyone else.”

                It’s not your salary that anyone looks down on; it’s your attitude.

                How about we revisit it? See how much it meshes up with what you say or what I say:

                mark f: Brad, you’ve offered up how much you make. It’s something like $40k without health insurance. Dogshit tastes good!

                brad pIts 40K with a $250 a month contribution to a health care plan of my choosing. I have a great deal of flexibility, I am respected, and my wage is commensurate with what I feel I need. I work for a company with about 45 employees, I know and like every single one of them, and I am in a position where I am constantly aware of the state and future of the company.
                I go to work everyday at a job I enjoy with people I feel a common bond with, and then come home to a wife that loves me and a home that suits my needs.
                If that is dogshit to you I feel sorry for you because you will never be satisfied.


                mark f
                :So to sum up:

                A modest salary and benefits package “commensurate with what [you] feel [you] need” = “overpaid.” Good thing your boss hasn’t decide to pay you what you’re really worth.

                brad p:No, being willing to perform my duties for 20% less means that I am overpaid

                holden p:Brad’s happy bottom-half-of-the-income-distribution servility explains a great deal about his libertarianism.

                and then Dr. Dick made a comment about me being stupid.

                mpowell

                : Finally, I’m sorry that you have no substantial job skills or a degree so you get paid like crap. But a government lawyer with a post-graduate degree, bar credentials and 10 years of on the job experience is going to command a hefty compensation package. If you could actually demonstrate the public employees are overpaid, you might have a point. But it is clear at this point that you have nothing but jealousy and idiotic ideology backstopping your ideas.

                bradp:You are a condescending prick who should probably just keep your mouth shut when you feel like telling people what they should value.

                Dave3544: Fuck you for thinking that this is a good thing because now they’ll know what it is to be like Brad P.

                BradP: Economic value is subjective and no one can comment on who “deserves” what but the parties to a contract. So I have absolutely no clue what any of you “deserve”. I probably get paid a little more than I deserve.

                BradP: Some points:

                1. I don’t want you to be like me, very few people seem to have the mentality to be like me. I only want you to have the same amount of power as me. You could, of course, give my employer the right to take money by force to pay my wages, but we would both be opposed to that.

                2. I like the liberal chastising the libertarian for his wealth envy. I thought it was stupid when Neil Boortz said liberals just have wealth envy, but since there seems to be a consensus that poor people hate wealthy people for their money I should look into that.

                _______________________________

                So the “attitude” that you are mocking was that I don’t know what anyone deserves, I just know that I would work for less than I am making now, and that makes me overpaid. That isn’t a statement of politics, that is basic subjective valuation.

                I even quite explicitly explained that I didn’t expect everyone to want to live like me, although I think that if you can’t be happy on a wage that suits your needs with good friends and family, you are going to find trouble being satisfied.

                At no point have I ever said everyone should be grateful, in fact I have said the exact opposite on hundreds of occasions. At no point did I ever say everyone deserves what I deserve, at no point did I ever say all people should have no more than me, I also said the exact opposite on that.

                The only thing I did do was defend myself when you said my salary was dogshit, and that I couldn’t possibly really be happy with it.

                You were a dickhead, and you are still being a dickhead. I find little reason to think a single one of you thinks that poor people are anything less than people who can’t take care of themselves and are desperately needing your help so they can be more like you.

              • joe from Lowell says:

                I’m sure Krugman had a nice entertaining break from arguing about how bond prices show we don’t need to worry about inflation to watch that.

                Ignorant conservatives obsessing about phantom inflation fears is helping to keep those kids’ parents unemployed.

              • joe from Lowell says:

                …and they do it on purpose, because they’ve decided that the Republicans will do better in the next election if they can keep the economy from picking up.

              • mark f says:

                You can choose to believe whatever you want, Brad, but you don’t have any idea how any of us are currently situated or have been in the past. You don’t seem to grasp that your conversational style makes the same kind of baseless assumptions that your theoretical foundation does. It’s the combination of the two that many of us find so infuriating.

              • mpowell says:

                I wanted to follow up that I don’t have any regrets regarding the discussion on Brad’s income. If you’re going to attack public sector workers with the language and venom that the right does and then compare their salaries to your own… you invite comparisons of their job skills to your own and a reminder of where you actually stand in the income distribution in this country. And how vulnerable you are to a major health care problem. And given your motives, I’m not going to be nice about it. But there are plenty of liberal posters on blogs (even this one) who probably make less than Brad so I don’t see how you can complain about their viewpoint. For some, their situation is not that different.

              • Brad P. says:

                You don’t seem to grasp that your conversational style makes the same kind of baseless assumptions that your theoretical foundation does. It’s the combination of the two that many of us find so infuriating.

                I took a general critique of liberal policy and made it entirely too personal. I admit wrong, but I’m still not apologizing to you because I think it applies personally to you.

              • mark f says:

                |read|, idiot.

                But I’m not looking for an apology. “Brad P.” is about as real to me as Wario is.

    • Anonymous says:

      I bet watching that was like a trip to the brothel for you.

    • joe from Lowell says:

      I teach in an inner city public school system.

      What do you do for a living, Captain Condescending?

  4. Uncle Kvetch says:

    although this is true across the board, it just irks me more coming from liberals

    You know, you could save yourself and everyone else here a lot of time by just making this your all-purpose, one-size-fits-all comment for every thread. It covers all the bases.

    • Brad P. says:

      Sorry if libs get a higher standard from me than everyone else. You all obviously believe you deserve it.

      • Captain Splendid says:

        So much projection, so little time.

        I’m finding it difficult to believe you can hold down a full time job.

        • Brad P. says:

          So much projection, so little time.

          What in the hell did I project?

        • Brad P. says:

          As it happens, my current book is an investigation of the ways in which the poor are depicted, and also a discussion of the poor’s forms of political mobilization (my main case is the welfare rights movement of the 1960s and 70s, wherein the poor’s efforts at self-organization became most visible and most controversial). So I agree that there are strands of liberal responses to poverty that are deeply problematic for just the reasons you point out (there is a tendency, that is, only to view the poor through their neediness, or only as poor. I haven’t had time to watch it yet, but I suspect the 60 Minutes clip is likely a case in point). But there are other elements of liberal (or better, leftist) thought too, and so I generally think it’s a bad idea to make blanket statements about what this or that sort of person thinks.

          That sounds like an excellent read. I will have to check it out. It is quite obvious to me at this point that I need to read up on the politics of the 60s and 70s as my readings are less than objective.

          In the meantime, I apologize to you for my comment, it was trollish and I shouldn’t have stated something like that generally. My sentiments on that topic by no means extends to all liberals, or even to all of the commenters on this board. Apologies to Charli, too. She took away the right lesson, and I threw unneeded politics into it.

  5. Brad P. says:

    That last response was meant for Gmack

  6. Malaclypse says:

    Being Poor. Six years later, that post still makes me choke up.

    Also, Things I Don’t Have to Think About Today.

    • Hogan says:

      I’ve had Being Poor in my IE favorites(although that doesn’t seem like the right word) for years.

    • David W. says:

      Yeah, I have two sisters who teach at schools in Florida and Iowa who have told me of their experiences dealing with homeless kids in their classrooms, and of how so many of them no longer even go to school as their parents hit the road. I have no idea what the “right lesson” to take away from this is, other than to simply acknowledge what’s happening.

    • joe from Lowell says:

      Thank you for that first link.

      I was poor for a little while. After college, I took an internship that came with enough of a salary to just barely afford to live in the bad neighborhood in Fitchburg, MA.

      Sometimes, the money ran out before pay day, and I had popcorn for lunch.

      And there I sat, while I was polishing my resume for grad school, with parents who could help me out at any time, holding a job that was setting me up for a great future, opportunity all around me, higher-paying jobs available any time I got sick of my situation – in other words, with opportunities that the overwhelming majority of people as poor as me never had and never would have – basically play-acting at being poor as a choice, and as I sat there eating popcorn for lunch one day every few weeks, I’d think “What’s wrong with me? Why am I such a loser that I can barely afford to support myself?”

      I knew I could have walked away at any time, but running out of money like that kicked the shit out of my self-esteem anyway. I can only imagine being in that situation and having no way out.

  7. elm says:

    I saw how many comments there were on a thread about poverty, and I was surprised: these sorts of topics don’t usually generate the same number of comments that electoral politics, abortion rights, gay rights, and baseball, to name a few, typically do.

    Then I saw that it was because Brad got involved and everything made sense.

    One good outcome, though, is that Brad finally proved he belongs in the “troll” category. (Seriously, dude, how is your comment anything but an attempt to troll this thread? You walk into a thread, throw a semi-related insult-grenade into the middle of everyone, and then whine about how you’re so put-upon when people are offended. That may not be Troll 101, but it might be a 300-level course in trolling.)

    • Brad P. says:

      One good outcome, though, is that Brad finally proved he belongs in the “troll” category. (Seriously, dude, how is your comment anything but an attempt to troll this thread? You walk into a thread, throw a semi-related insult-grenade into the middle of everyone, and then whine about how you’re so put-upon when people are offended. That may not be Troll 101, but it might be a 300-level course in trolling.)

      I already admitted that was a trollish comment, and I apologize for it.

      Even though I still believe it, it was an unnecessary and off-topic jab, and I shouldn’t have ruined the comments of Charli’s post.

  8. wengler says:

    For the record, I have absolutely no problem with the free market feeding people who are hungry. But futures on feeding the hungry seem to be trending very badly.

    I think the word ‘poor’ needs to be taken out of this discussion. People are fine at any income level as long as basic needs are being met. But they aren’t.

    Going to school hungry in a country full of food is ridiculous. Depriving healthcare from sick kids in a country that invests so heavily in the healthcare industry is pure depravity. The Propertarian Party once again changes the subject when shit gets too real.

    • mpowell says:

      This is one of the things that drives me crazy about the right in this country. They really make themselves out to be tribal animals when you talk about this issue. I mean, suppose you think some 25 year old single mother deserves to suffer horribly because she didn’t get through school, has few job prospects and got pregnant. Okay. You want adults to be held accountable for their decisions, even if your view of the world is wildly unrealistic. But now you want her 8 year old kid to suffer from malnutrition? Even if it were because the parent spends money on booze… so??!! That is depraved.

  9. Tom M says:

    Maybe if Kennedy and LBJ hadn’t had a war on poverty and just listened to MLK, Jr., the issue of welfare would have been mitigated in both the economic and political sense.
    A guaranteed national income without the necessity of liberals (bad word choice) negotiating with conservatives (they called themselves that) over conditions to receipt of assistance might have solved a slew of problems at once.

    Nah.

    As an aside to Brad, if you want a good depiction of the conservative movement and its growth in the 50s and 60s I would recommend Rick Perlstein’s Before the Storm and Nixonland.

    • mark f says:

      [T]he issue of welfare would have been mitigated in both the economic and political sense [with a] guaranteed national income

      Yeah, I can’t see that being political football at all.

    • Brad P. says:

      A guaranteed national income without the necessity of liberals (bad word choice) negotiating with conservatives (they called themselves that) over conditions to receipt of assistance might have solved a slew of problems at once.

      Without a major reversal of all the policies that have sent returns towards capital and away from labor, and without a removal of the government and social structures that disenfranchise the poor from white markets and other aspects of civil society, a guaranteed national income would be yet another grand liberal project that makes the rich richer and doesn’t improve the lot of the poor.

      • Malaclypse says:

        Please explain how a guaranteed baseline income hurts the most poor. Be specific and use examples. Examples should not be from The Road to Serfdom.

        • Brad P. says:

          I didn’t say it would hurt the worst poor, I said it wouldn’t improve their lot.

          Behavioral economic studies have repeatedly shown that, while the poor are reacting to circumstances, they often tend to react in ways that deviate even more from economist’s rational predictions more than other income groups. Typically economists and liberals on the left (and again this is true of economists on the right, but we aren’t dealing with them) tend to look at these solely as either “pathologies” or behavior enforced by economic circumstances. It is very rare that I see liberal economic policy that isn’t justified as a correction for all of the factors that have screwed up poor people. This viewpoint is dangerous because it ignores all of the times that the poor are poor as a result of their preferences. It makes it alot easier to just assume that all people are rational and will go for the same things, but our values, our time preferences, and our risk aversions are all different, and those are more important to individual economic outcomes than nominal income.

          Health care is an example: within the poor, minor inconveniences (or at least what “rational” people consider minor inconveniences) can often be enough to outweigh the costs of lacking health care.

          So when you provide a guaranteed income, you may help smooth out the dips and dives some individuals have financially, but for those that are chronically poor, you can be rather sure they will spend the money in ways that you consider unwise. Note that I don’t consider the chronically poor to be unwise, I think they just make decisions according to different factors (one of which is their commitment and belonging to community). I also don’t commit to arbitrary income level goals either.

          In the meantime, those poor utility decisions that the poor are making work in the opposite way for the wealthy. For every immediate gratification sought by one individual, there is investment profit for another that either does not have as strong a commitment to immediate consumption, or simply does not get much marginal utility for their consumption (the wealthy). When you consider the relative returns on labor and capital, the problem becomes much more exacerbated, as the wealthy tend to be able to withhold capital even more.

          So ultimately, while a guaranteed income may provide an immediate boost to those in poverty, I expect the end result to be a poor class that is still poor, but a wealthy class that is in that much greater a relative position.

          There has to be a major attitude change towards the behavior of the poor (in short: respect for the behavior of the poor) before any grand plan to stabilize incomes should occur.

          All of this, however, is not a critique of conditional unemployment insurance, which I believe is far superior to a national guaranteed income.

          • Brad P. says:

            And it should be noted that I think the best solution to the problem of need is community. Those same psychological behaviors that cause poor people to make bad financial decisions also lead to the bad financial decisions where the wealthy are inclined to invest in the welfare of the poor.

          • Brad P. says:

            For the best example, I would say that you should look at the effect attempts at encouraging home ownership among lower income levels has worked out, millions of people in mortgages that they don’t have the money to maintain nor the legal wherewithal to protect.

          • Malaclypse says:

            So when you provide a guaranteed income, you may help smooth out the dips and dives some individuals have financially, but for those that are chronically poor, you can be rather sure they will spend the money in ways that you consider unwise.

            Actually, I would assume that they are the best judges of their situation, and would not presume to judge.

            Remind me again about how liberals, but not libertarians, are condescending towards the poor.

            • Brad P. says:

              Libertarians don’t set rational standards for acceptable economic behavior and institute policies designed to correct deviant behavior.

              • Malaclypse says:

                Libertarians don’t set rational standards for acceptable economic behavior and institute policies designed to correct deviant behavior.

                And yet you can claim that the poor will make unwise choices.

              • Brad P. says:

                You did quote the sentence directly before this one, so maybe you stopped reading before this part of my comment:

                Note that I don’t consider the chronically poor to be unwise, I think they just make decisions according to different factors (one of which is their commitment and belonging to community).

              • Malaclypse says:

                I read both. I just felt that the former expressed a clear judgment, while the latter, which pretty much contradicted the former, seemed mainly designed to obfuscate, while adding no actual content.

              • Brad P. says:

                I read both. I just felt that the former expressed a clear judgment, while the latter, which pretty much contradicted the former, seemed mainly designed to obfuscate, while adding no actual content.

                I cannot believe that you can simultaneously believe in setting standard reported incomes and not also think that behavior that doesn’t support the maintenance of such a standard is somehow undesirable.

                I will leave it at that, though.

              • Malaclypse says:

                I cannot believe that you can simultaneously believe in setting standard reported incomes and not also think that behavior that doesn’t support the maintenance of such a standard is somehow undesirable.

                Similarly, I find it odd that you can maintain that calling behavior unwise, undesirable, and so on is not condescending.

                I will leave it at that, though.

                As will I.

            • Brad P. says:

              Similarly, I find it odd that you can maintain that calling behavior unwise, undesirable, and so on is not condescending.

              Let me clarify myself:

              I am saying that those who rely on models built upon rational expectations in eliminating poverty and promoting growth consider deviant activity undesirable or wrong.

              I don’t. I assume their choice reflect their preferences and other non-rational factors, and that those cannot be judged by any mortal to be good or bad.

          • Tirxu says:

            A guaranteed income could work that way only if you are funding it from an external source, for a finite amount of time.

            Any implementation in something resembling reality would have to be funded by taxes which

            should

            come from the wealthier folks.

            Taking money from the richs to give it to the poors is excellent economic policy on its face, as the latter spend when the former save. The only drawback is behavioural, as it reduces incentives to work. In theory, the question should be how to balance these bad incentives with the good economic effects. In practice, the debate often turns to morality, and whether poverty should be blamed on individuals (so it is fair and just to let poors as they are) or on society (so the poors should be helped as fellow people in a hard situation out of their control).

  10. David W. says:

    The fact that Norway, Finland and Sweden spend the most on social expenditures and have the lowest child poverty rates in the world ought to be a lesson to the U.S., which has a shamefully high child poverty rate. It’s not as if we can’t afford to, it’s that we have a mindset that says we shouldn’t.

    • Brad P. says:

      They also have very limited regulation within markets, have pursued a very effective path of privatization, are not warmongers, and have an incredibly unprofitable service sector.

      • David W. says:

        You’re not addressing my point, which is that higher levels of social expenditures do lower child poverty.

        But since we’re on another subject anyway, are you sure you want to claim that IKEA is highly unprofitable?

        • Brad P. says:

          No, I addressed your point by listing a some differences between Scandinavian countries and the US that would be a major factor in implementing major spending growth in the US to make it look like Sweden.

          But since we’re on another subject anyway, are you sure you want to claim that IKEA is highly unprofitable?

          In Sweden they are relative to other nations.

          http://www.timbro.se/bokhandel/pdf/9175665646.pdf

          Look at diagram 4.3, showing inverted tax wedges, the percentage of buyers income that goes into the service providers pocket is 50% in the US, its a third of that in Sweden. The author considers that a bad thing, as it would imply a negative externality, but I think that argument ignores all of the subsidies and easy credit that service providers benefit from in the US.

          • David W. says:

            Sorry, but changing the subject is not addressing the point. The U.S. has a lower level of elderly living in poverty precisely because of social expenditures like Social Security and Medicare. We could do the same for children if we had but the political will to do so.

            • Brad P. says:

              I did not change the subject. You said that the US could improve poverty outcomes by spending more money, I pointed to some differences between the two that cause me to assume no such thing because the two are apples and oranges.

              • David W. says:

                Well, I just gave you a concrete example of how the U.S. has lowered the level of elderly living in poverty so clearly we can improve such outcomes.

  11. [...] also links us to a segment on 60 minutes last night that reminds us, again, who is losing in the current economy.  Hint: they can’t [...]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.