Author Topic: 5 truisms- poke holes in these sentences  (Read 476 times)

hismikeness

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5 truisms- poke holes in these sentences
« on: August 09, 2011, 09:49:05 PM »
I received the email below from my dad today, which was reminiscent of a conversation that we had over the weekend regarding politics. As I read these sentences, I know that they are simplifying a very complicated issue, but I have a hard time disagreeing with them.

Can those more knowledgeable than me poke some holes in these comments?

The Email:
Quote
These are probably the 5 best sentences you'll ever read. I think that No.5 is the best.
  • You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the wealth out of prosperity.
  • What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
  • The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not take from somebody first.
  • You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.
  • When half of the citizens get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work, because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

My first thought, at least for bullet point number one, is that legislating the poor in to prosperity isn't what any legislator is working towards. Instead, they are merely trying to legislate the poor in to non-poverty.
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Re: 5 truisms- poke holes in these sentences
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2011, 02:06:30 AM »
Quote
You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the wealth out of prosperity.
As you already stated...the goal is not to legislate the poor into prosperity...the liberal goal is to make sure they have a humane supply of food, shelter, and education (though education can help them achieve prosperity)

Quote
What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
This is based on the assumption that society as a whole doesn't benefit from maintaining a humane standard for the less fortunate. 

Quote
The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not take from somebody first.
We all give to government so that it can give back to us; the entire purpose of a government is to take from citizens so that the gov can work to give back to the community what is needed:  roads, hospitals, police, fire fighters, etc.  Welfare programs is just another way the government gives back to the community.

Quote
You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.
but who decided that massively lopsided distribution of wealth was a good thing?

Quote
When half of the citizens get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work, because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.
Anyone who thinks the above is actually going to happen under the current US system should try living on a welfare level of income for even just a week and they'll realize that it's not something most people would choose to do.


Many statements may be internally true but if they don't make sense when applied to the real world then their truth isn't valuable.

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Re: 5 truisms- poke holes in these sentences
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2011, 03:52:07 AM »
Well, if your goal is to simply argue with these because you are taking the automatic stance that they are wrong, then you won't have a hard time doing it. But if your goal is to study them to see to what degree they may or may not be true, then that's different.

I think that simply taking the stand that they are wrong and therefore you must prove them so is kind of silly. You start from a position similar to theists who insist there is a god and only listen to arguments that support that presupposition.

Why don't you take the time to study these and see what rationale there is for them? Since you have an issue with them possibly oversimplifying an issue, then you don't want to make the mistake of oversimplifying against them by rejecting them out of hand. See what basis they have in fact and to what degree. Then try to make your arguments based on the evidence for or against them. Make sure you understand what they mean.

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Tank

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Re: 5 truisms- poke holes in these sentences
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2011, 08:19:14 AM »
Look at it this way. The $10,000 dollar price difference between two upper-end models of a BMW/Mercedes is the same as letting 5 families have a basic 2nd hand car. So is it better for society to have one family with a better car and 5 families incapable of getting on the work ladder because they don't have transport OR have one family driving around in a slightly less expensive ego-mobile and 5 families capable of digging themselves out of poverty?

Now if we go for the spread of wealth, and tax the wealthy person that little bit more, you can bet that 1 of the 5 families that get their $2,000 dollars will simply drink/gamble it away. But it's the 4 remaining families that will be the backbone of wealth creation that gives the wealthy family a work force to keep them wealthy, albeit with a slightly lower grade of brand new car. Where will the wealthy family get their wealth if all around them society has no money to spend to generate wealth?

The Victorians were very vexed about poverty and how to prevent it and felt that if you only helped people enough then everybody would want to work. They found this was not the case and they called those people who would not work 'The Residuum'. They recognised that try as you might there will always be a small percentage of people who don't fit in society and thus don't participate it. In many way a society should be judged on how it treats 'The Residuum'.

Personally I go for 'pulling yourself up by your boot straps' as a society. At some point in life one has to be very lucky not to go through some sort of hard times. Before the industrial revolution people lived in extended families and that was their collective safety net. Post industrialisation and the destruction of the extended family the problem arrises that when a nuclear family falls on hard times there is no safety net and the family can be hit so hard (possibly by medical bills) it is impossible for that family to get itself back into the main stream. The cost of early industrialisation is exploitation of labour. Now and in the future the cost of industrialisation will be the exploitation of intellect in developed countries and labour where production is carried out. So one of the costs of breaking up the extended family is the potential risk of creating a group of people in society who are so disenfranchised from it that they have no stake in maintaining the status-quo.

However, as has been recently seen in South Korea, the capabilities of production automation are such that a production workforce can become a liability. As technology progresses this situation can only get worse as the value of a pair of hands becomes les and less while the premium on a good brain gets higher and higher. What do we do when there simply are not enough jobs for people with an IQ of less that 125? It could well happen.

If a society cannot address, a) the issue of the residuum, b) the average IQ unemployable, the wealthy car owner will simply find themselves robbed of their nice car, home and possessions. A perfect example of what happens when there is too great a disparity between the 'haves and have-nots'' is South Africa. While their segregation was political the cause of the segregation is irrelevant. If a society has a big enough group of severely disadvantaged they will rebel because that is all they can do. It also happened in Russia.

Part of the cause of the 'riots' in England is a disenfranchised youth. They feel that they have little to lose and they have been brought up in an environment where they feel they are untouchable. They may as well take what they can't obtain by other means. That is not the whole story but I definitely think it's a significant part.

So if industrialised society does not take care of it's disadvantaged it will eventually pay the price, how it pays the price depends on how long it takes to solve the problem and how bad the problem gets before something is done about it. A cornered rat will fight, a person with no hope is not much different from a cornered rat.
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hismikeness

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Re: 5 truisms- poke holes in these sentences
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2011, 03:12:08 PM »
Well, if your goal is to simply argue with these because you are taking the automatic stance that they are wrong, then you won't have a hard time doing it. But if your goal is to study them to see to what degree they may or may not be true, then that's different.

My goal is to round out my world view regarding the issue, essentially, of welfare. I don't think that those sentences are necessarily wrong. I think they are phrased in such a way to sound more sensational than the actual issue to which they are referring. Using phrases like "prosperity", "wealth", "half", "no work", and "all the work". As stated by Tank, probably 4 of the 5 families that receive benefits would use it for its intended purpose, and not squander it like the fifth family would.

As I run it through my mind grapes, I think there is merit to the state taking care of the poor, but there is equal merit (if not more) in the poor working for themselves as well. There is a fine line there, and a policy should closely straddle that line. I'm not sure the current US policy does.

I am a supervisor in a manufacturing facility that has been hit hard by the US recession. We produce windows, and there isn't a lot of building starts in our region, so our sales and consequently our man hours are significantly lower than they were in years past. My GM told us that we were to help out those people that are close to their supplemental unemployment limit (usually between 22 and 25 hours a week, and the gov money supplies the rest, up to 40). I sort of had a problem with it at first, because this was going on for months on end, and I don't think that is the "spirit" of the unemployment program. So, one of my employees, coming in to Friday with 19 hours worked, wants to leave after 3 hours, even though production for that day dictates 5 hours. I now have to figure out how to cover those 2 hours without that employee (and often others throughout the day and earlier in the week) just so people can have their supplemented 40 hours of pay. Next to that employee is another that for one reason or another didn't qualify for the program, and they are stuck with 24 hours pay and that's it. So the person that works less ends up with more money, thanks to the government. My production suffers because of the missing people. In my small little world of production lines, that seems like a lose lose situation.

On a grander scale, I can look at that and say that the people getting the assistance need it to live. Again, it's that fine line.

I recently heard that Florida and Kentucky (I think) passed laws requiring drug testing before receiving welfare benefits. I understand the idea behind that, but another part of me says that it is an invasion of privacy.

I appreciate all responses thus far. There are many voices on this forum that I respect, the authors of the three replies among them.

I am not a man of wealth and I don't come from an affluent family. My family is middle-middle class. At 30, I am in a better financial situation that my parents were at 30, and for that I am grateful to them. I have never needed government assistance and have only been out of work for 2 weeks in the last decade. I live on a tight budget, but for the most part have all I need and some luxuries that I want. In no way do I feel like I don't give enough to help the poor. I work, I pay taxes, and some of that goes to the poor. If I was a multi millionaire, or even one of the several hundred American billionaires, I don't think I, personally, would have a problem dropping some dough on the less fortunate.

The super rich are on the opposite of the bell curve and some of them have worked incredibly hard to get to where they are at. Is it reasonable to expect them to act unselfishly and give some of their money away? Is that any less reasonable than expecting a poor person to "pull themselves up by the bootstraps" without assistance?

Well, at least I know what will be rattling around in my head today...
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When the alien invasion does indeed happen, if everyone would just go out into the streets & inexpertly play the flute, they'll just go. -@UncleDynamite

roy1967

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Re: 5 truisms- poke holes in these sentences
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2011, 03:41:35 PM »
It irks me to see that corporations are laying off massive numbers of people because "we're not immune to the recession" and when the financials come out, they're profits are higher than ever.  For big buisness, I think the recession is a bonanza, an opportunity to cut workers and their benefits to make bigger gains than they've ever made.  To hell with the people who got them there.

Certainly there are deadbeats who who only want to take advantage of the system, in fact there are a lot of them.  Conservatives like to say that people who can't find a job simply aren't trying.  What a load of crap.

Regarding welfare:  I do think it should be available to people down on their luck, until they can get back into the work force.  If we are going to give a tax break to a CEO or a tax credit to a welfare mom, which should we pick?  The right says the CEO because the mom is a leech, and the CEO is going to create jobs (another load of right wing crap).  The CEO is going to take the money and invest it where he doesn't have to pay taxes, or place it in offshore accounts so he doesn't have to pay taxes on it.  The welfare mom is going to take her 900 bucks a month, and pay rent, buy diapers, cigarettes, formula, groceries, gasoline etc.. etc..  placing that money back into the economy, stimulating by spending, paying sales taxes on all purchases.  The CEO is actually the leech.

Corporations and rich people don't like welfare......  unless it's corporate welfare.  And there's plenty of that.

JMO
« Last Edit: August 10, 2011, 03:48:15 PM by roy1967 »
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Awolf26

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Re: 5 truisms- poke holes in these sentences
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2011, 04:17:14 PM »
but there is equal merit (if not more) in the poor working for themselves as well.

See, for most people that argue this type of point (not saying you, but the person sending you the sentences), they assume that the poor are not working for themselves. They do. Sometimes multiple jobs. Certain News Corps are sly as a "fox" and like to give the perception that these people are not working. As Tank said regarding the 4 of 5, this is simply not true. However, we always hear the stories of the welfare queens using it for cigarettes or whatever. The minority is perceived as the majority. Furthermore, sometimes these people would like to work, but can't find work (like Roy1967 mentioned) or are injured and just can't work. Of course, for the injured ones, they probably don't have proper health care and cannot mend.

This is not always the case, but I feel like the more I make, the less I actually have to "work". I've worked everywhere to a chicken processing plant, to construction, to the corporate offices of one of the US's largest corporations, to where I am now as an academic. And, when I was making the most money; most of my days were spent "getting coffee" with my coworkers. When I was making the least, I had my hand sent through machine meant to halve chickens. In construction, I would work 60 some odd hours a week and only get paid for 40 of them, so that I could save them up for the winter and not collect unemployment (guess how that turned out). 

Another issue is that most people don't know when they have received benefits from the government. There are so many grant funded things that we benefit from everyday.

This system is set up to keep the rich rich and the poor poor. Don't get me started on the income gap.

Sorry, got a little ranty there.

Here is a pretty good blog post from Sam Harris on the issue: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-harris/a-new-years-resolution-fo_b_802480.html


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Re: 5 truisms- poke holes in these sentences
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2011, 04:43:36 PM »
Responding in general to the OP, the statements in themselves represent several straw mans because they seem to be statements against things I've never heard a person advocate for.

The super rich are on the opposite of the bell curve and some of them have worked incredibly hard to get to where they are at. Is it reasonable to expect them to act unselfishly and give some of their money away?
I think that we should all pay the same percentage of income. The more wealth and property you have, the more you benefit from a system that supports personal wealth and property. Because it would be too complicated to determine even approximately how much each person benefits from the system, I think everyone paying the same percentage of income would work fine. Beyond that, I don't think anyone needs to unselfishly give their stuff away.

Quote from: hismikeness
Is that any less reasonable than expecting a poor person to "pull themselves up by the bootstraps" without assistance?
I've always found this statement to be extremely useless. Is the intention to demonstrate the futility of trying to bring oneself up from poverty on their own by using a analogy to something physically impossible? In the context that I often hear it, people seem to want to use it as a somewhat motivational analogy, which is confusing.

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