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Anna Funder on social inequality

Started by Bad Penny II, January 09, 2020, 08:02:50 AM

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Bad Penny II

I hope this isn't geoblocked.
https://abcmedia.akamaized.net/rn/podcast/2017/11/wka_20171117.mp3

I'm interested in the bit that starts about 13 minutes in.
Anna's young daughter's New York school is collecting clothes for a homeless Iraq War veteran who is visiting the school.
She (the vet) has a couple of kids and Anna's daughter likes her talk and she enjoys the giving.
Anna is uneasy about the virtual begging this person is forced by circumstance to do.
Anna's American Democrat voting friends don't seem to see the problem.
This seems to be a catalyst/last straw that leads her to decide that this society isn't the one she wants to raise her daughter in.
Any views? Is Anna's a fair appraisal?
Take my advice, don't listen to me.

Ecurb Noselrub

No, it's an overreaction. Every society has issues. The daughter wants to help someone. Don't kill her altruistic instincts.

Recusant

I don't see it as "killing" altruistic instinct. Rather, the parents want their children to grow up in a society with a government that is built to provide for the basic needs of all its members as a matter of course. US society and its government are not built that way. Instead, there are stopgap measures such as charitable food banks and impromptu clothes drives such the woman described. Health care in the US is a glaring example of how this approach fails, and even partway steps like the ACA ("Obamacare") are fought by for-profit interests and the politicians they've bought.
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


Ecurb Noselrub

But in places where there is no total coverage, you need people like her daughter to fill in the gaps.  She could work to change things.  If you run away, you are part of the problem.

Recusant

Quote from: Ecurb Noselrub on January 09, 2020, 04:12:16 PM
But in places where there is no total coverage, you need people like her daughter to fill in the gaps.  She could work to change things.  If you run away, you are part of the problem.

It's removing yourself and your children from a society you believe is dysfunctional, escaping from one particular dysfunctional environment. Call that moral cowardice or whatever, and certainly they're privileged in that they even realistically have the option of leaving, but it's a legitimate response to a dysfunctional society. I assume that in this context, the family moved to Australia. I also assume they felt that would provide a better environment for their family.

There are charities in Australia, and I would think also impromptu expression of charitable impulses. I don't think that by leaving the US, the family is depriving their children the opportunity to develop their charitable tendency. The woman is Australian but has lived in other places. Her experience means that she's able to compare US society with Australian, and decide which would be a better one for her children to grow up in. I think that can legitimately be called a selfish decision, however understandable.

If you define the problem you think this woman is making herself a part of by leaving, it may advance the discussion. 
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


billy rubin

america is weirdly dysfunctional. not so many years back my family in oklahoma once kept their chickasa neighbors from starving by giving them a beef calf to eat in the winter. they were so hungry that they ate the entrails raw before they took the meat home. no social safety net back then.

now we have a hugely prosperous nation, with a decreasing life expectancy, unimpressive child mortality at birth, decreasing quality of education, massive incarceration rates, and most importantly, an accelerating social stratification that exacerbates all the others.

in the past, this sort of thing resulted in revolution and forced restructuring of society. i wonder whether we're heading that way now.


more people have been to berlin than i have

Bad Penny II

I did think of naming this thread cultural differences.

Giving makes a giver feel good and giving should be encouraged I suppose.
I'm not easy with the position of the beggar in the transaction.
Perhaps all are entitled to something, dignity at least but that's the coin they surrender.
Allowing people to be low so you can feel good about giving them your slops, I don't like it.
Take my advice, don't listen to me.

Ecurb Noselrub

Quote from: Recusant on January 09, 2020, 05:44:45 PM
Quote from: Ecurb Noselrub on January 09, 2020, 04:12:16 PM
But in places where there is no total coverage, you need people like her daughter to fill in the gaps.  She could work to change things.  If you run away, you are part of the problem.

It's removing yourself and your children from a society you believe is dysfunctional, escaping from one particular dysfunctional environment. Call that moral cowardice or whatever, and certainly they're privileged in that they even realistically have the option of leaving, but it's a legitimate response to a dysfunctional society. I assume that in this context, the family moved to Australia. I also assume they felt that would provide a better environment for their family.

There are charities in Australia, and I would think also impromptu expression of charitable impulses. I don't think that by leaving the US, the family is depriving their children the opportunity to develop their charitable tendency. The woman is Australian but has lived in other places. Her experience means that she's able to compare US society with Australian, and decide which would be a better one for her children to grow up in. I think that can legitimately be called a selfish decision, however understandable.

If you define the problem you think this woman is making herself a part of by leaving, it may advance the discussion.

If a person wants to live in another society, that's their choice.  But to base it on a homeless person who seems to her to be a beggar seems to be a cop out.  I'm going mainly off Bad Penny's interpretation of her statement, but I've listened to most of what she said.  All societies have problems.  If I said "I don't want to raise my child in Australia because they allow global warming to burn up large portions of their country", would that be fair?  Australia is faring worse than Texas on that score, but that doesn't mean that Australia is a bad place to live.  I suppose my main argument is that moving out of a country because of problems it has is a cop out.  Every society has issues, and frankly, the USA is no more dysfunctional than any place else. I live here and am doing just fine.  Any way, that's how I see it.

Bad Penny II

Quote from: Ecurb Noselrub on January 11, 2020, 01:32:55 AM
Quote from: Recusant on January 09, 2020, 05:44:45 PM
Quote from: Ecurb Noselrub on January 09, 2020, 04:12:16 PM
But in places where there is no total coverage, you need people like her daughter to fill in the gaps.  She could work to change things.  If you run away, you are part of the problem.

It's removing yourself and your children from a society you believe is dysfunctional, escaping from one particular dysfunctional environment. Call that moral cowardice or whatever, and certainly they're privileged in that they even realistically have the option of leaving, but it's a legitimate response to a dysfunctional society. I assume that in this context, the family moved to Australia. I also assume they felt that would provide a better environment for their family.

There are charities in Australia, and I would think also impromptu expression of charitable impulses. I don't think that by leaving the US, the family is depriving their children the opportunity to develop their charitable tendency. The woman is Australian but has lived in other places. Her experience means that she's able to compare US society with Australian, and decide which would be a better one for her children to grow up in. I think that can legitimately be called a selfish decision, however understandable.

If you define the problem you think this woman is making herself a part of by leaving, it may advance the discussion.

If a person wants to live in another society, that's their choice.  But to base it on a homeless person who seems to her to be a beggar seems to be a cop out. 

A cop out? So they should stay and try to make it better, to change the vox populi of hundeds of millions.  Doesn't seem very realistic and who'd listen to an outsider anyway.

Quote from: Ecurb Noselrub on January 11, 2020, 01:32:55 AMIf I said "I don't want to raise my child in Australia because they allow global warming to burn up large portions of their country", would that be fair?  Australia is faring worse than Texas on that score, but that doesn't mean that Australia is a bad place to live.

I don't know about fair but kind of understandable.  If the general view was that it's OK to pollute and fk tomorrow and others and nature and you feared this attitude would become part of your developing child's self, I'd understand wanting to leave.  The conservative rulers here are a disheartening bunch.

Quote from: Ecurb Noselrub on January 11, 2020, 01:32:55 AM
I suppose my main argument is that moving out of a country because of problems it has is a cop out.  Every society has issues, and frankly, the USA is no more dysfunctional than any place else. I live here and am doing just fine.  Any way, that's how I see it.

It does seem more dysfunctional to some who have different values.  If you fear your child will become imbued with attitudes you don't like, leaving the environment is an option.  Thinking you can change a country isn't really.  If you went to Apartheid South Africa and you felt your child was picking up a nasty racist attitude, leaving would be reasonable I think.  You could of course try to temper the unwanted influence.  I think a parent's job is to raise good kids, it seems that is what is guiding her and I can't fault that.
Take my advice, don't listen to me.

Ecurb Noselrub

I live in the USA.  I've been here for 64 of my 67 years.  It's certainly no worse than any place else I've been.  If you try to take 330,000,000 people of every sort and try to make a nation out of them, I'd say we've done as well as anyone else could.  Everyone else can fuck off.

Bad Penny II

Quote from: Ecurb Noselrub on January 11, 2020, 05:29:20 AM
I live in the USA.  I've been here for 64 of my 67 years.  It's certainly no worse than any place else I've been.  If you try to take 330,000,000 people of every sort and try to make a nation out of them, I'd say we've done as well as anyone else could.  Everyone else can fuck off.

Subtle.
Well he is a well off white lawyer in a country made by and for well off white lawyers, I'm not surprised he thinks it best.
Ye I suppose and the lower we make the low the higher we are.
Take my advice, don't listen to me.

Davin

Inequality is getting worse and worse. Wages for 90% of the US population (adjusted for inflation), have been stagnant for more than half a century. The stock market keeps trending upward.

Nearly any economist you ask will tell you that money flowing through an economy is a good thing. Some get some weird twisted logic trying to explain why stagnating money in the top 10% is actually good. It's a bubble, and if we don't do something about it, we'll get another huge crash. The 1930's will have nothing on how much it will affect the world. Not only are we running headlong into cooking ourselves to death, but we're also trying to add onto the top of a tower while destroying its foundation.

Sure the US had done a great job, and in the past it was heading in a great direction. People who had been through something bad, who would not allow it to happen again worked and built up great things. Then a bunch of summer children decided to vote for the ruination of future generations. Why should I pay for some poor kids? Why should wealthy areas pay for schools in poor areas? Why should I pay for other people's health care?

When people in a society decided that they shouldn't pay into that society, we used to call them degenerates, now we elect them into political office and praise them.

"[...]I'd say we've done as well as anyone else could." We should put that on our flag and make it our country's motto. Forget about trying to improve things and fix the faults in our country, let's settle.
Always question all authorities because the authority you don't question is the most dangerous... except me, never question me.