Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Welfare Reform Compromise #21

Easy to enforce, too!
  [vote for,

One of the most widely spouted anti-welfare arguments is that people who can afford to support themselves aren't. There's a certain legitimacy to this argument. Drive through poor neighborhoods with lots of welfare recipients and you'll see plenty of cigarette butts and beer cans in their yard or in their garbage/recycling bins. If they can afford such vices as tobacco and alcohol, then they can afford to eat and don't need to be on food stamps. But not everyone on welfare is a user, and banning such vices for welfare recipients is unenforceable, some will undoubtedly say. But it's not unenforceable. Here's the big idea:

An E-Verify like system installed at all establishments licensed to sell alcohol, tobacco, and now cannabis. When you show your ID, it is scanned and checked against the welfare database. If you're a welfare recipient, you get a printed message saying you can't afford to buy this stuff, and the sale is canceled.

21 Quest, Jul 22 2014

Information about the extent of benefit fraud in the UK http://www.cas.org....gures-benefit-fraud
I would expect that as the welfare state is p much non-existent in the US, the proportion fraud represents of (a) all fraud and (b) the welfare budget will be smaller than in the UK but of course I am thrilled to bits to see some US-specific numbers from a reliable source. [calum, Jul 23 2014]

"Social class remains the strongest predictor of educational achievement in the UK" http://www.thersa.o...w-of-the-literature
good job there's no such thing as society then eh [calum, Jul 23 2014]

For those who are confused about wars on women http://www.cbc.ca/n...militants-1.2716635
[theircompetitor, Jul 24 2014]

Why one smokes. http://www.alternet...ent_page=1#bookmark
Read the whole thing. [MechE, Jul 28 2014]

In Praise of Idleness http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html
[Voice, Jul 29 2014]

Relevant article on LinkedIn -- heading into a jobless future https://www.linkedi...me-art-list-large_0
[theircompetitor, Jul 31 2014]

Welfare myths debunked http://anitra.net/h...tra/eightmyths.html
"MYTH: People are poor because they are addicts or alcoholics" [Klaatu, Aug 01 2014]

Humans need not apply https://www.youtube...watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU
Is there an economic law about technology always improving the lives of horses? then why humans? [Voice, Aug 13 2014]


       Republican thinking: Pass laws that affect somebody else.

       Do you drink or smoke? I know you are a working man - if you were poor would that not perhaps drive you to seek simple pleasures in mood modifying substances?

       What was that old saw about the schools getting all the money they needed and the air force holding bake sales to buy bombers?

       I don't think the argument noted as the reasoning behind the idea is wholly sound, and I can't buy into more government regulation.
normzone, Jul 22 2014

       Because poor people should never be able to relax and enjoy themselves. At all. Ever.
MechE, Jul 22 2014

       You are aware people use plastic cards now which already verify product being bought?
theircompetitor, Jul 22 2014

       Sounds like an expansion of WIC.

       The amount of hoops that we push people are forced through to maintain economic assistance becomes a big burden sometimes. Some states make you show up and stay 8 hours at the unemployment office which is a pointless waste of time.
RayfordSteele, Jul 22 2014

       What [MechE] said. Welfare fraud is entirely insignificant against the other problems that plague our society starting with scrooges that think poor people are trying to screw everyone else over. Also having the state know every time I buy booze or anything else is unacceptable.
Voice, Jul 22 2014

       Booze and cigarettes are useful tools to keep poor people in their place so this would never catch on. You don't want the poor sobering up, getting jobs and deciding to vote for anything other than an intransigently stratified welfare state.

       Keep 'em drunk, keep 'em stupid and keep 'em voting.
doctorremulac3, Jul 22 2014

       Have any of you ever consumed any sort of welfare? I applied for foodstamps once. I filled out the form listing all of my income sources and my total monthly income, and submitted it. I qualified for $48.00 per month, and I was only making a buck over minimum wage. Didn't smoke or drink, and was barely scraping by in a $525.00 duplex in the bad part of town. When you apply for government benefits, you're saying you do not have enough money to make ends meet on your own and you need hardworking taxpaying fellow citizens to donate their taxes to help you get by. If you can afford to smoke a pack or more per day of cigarettes or drink a beer or more per day, and are still getting welfare, then you haven't reported all of your income honestly. That's fraud, and over 40% of Americans are consuming some form of welfare. If the government is buying your groceries, then the government gets a say in what groceries you get. Don't like it? Buy your own.

       MechE, sitting back and relaxing does not mean getting drunk. Sorry pal, it just doesn't. It means sitting. And relaxing.
21 Quest, Jul 22 2014

       " over 40% of Americans are consuming some form of welfare "

       Wait...haven't I heard this number before? "47% of Americans don't pay any taxes..."

       Are we on the same page?
normzone, Jul 22 2014

       Were you drunk when you posted this?
tatterdemalion, Jul 22 2014

       Nope. I was on a paid break at my workplace.
21 Quest, Jul 22 2014

       //Have any of you ever consumed any sort of welfare? //
Here is a for example: my family has been entitled to state (that is, taxpayer) funded Child Benefit payments - about £180 every four weeks - and we got to spend that shit on whatever the hell we liked (sancerre, fleurie, rioja, whatever), month in month out. Nobody ever has questioned or decried our choices. No-one (with the poss exception of our current Chancellor) judged me because I was taking tax funds from the state when I was, by and large, completely capable of funding my wine habit myself. I was going to ask why this should be but actually, the more interesting question is why should it be otherwise?

       Further, this idea assumes that all the beers that poor people drink and fags poor people smoke are paid for when everyone knows that poor people are thieves who rob, steal and generally infringe upon the rights of corporations and the middle classes to peacable enjoyment of their property.
calum, Jul 23 2014

       " over 40% of Americans are consuming some form of welfare "

       Sources please? I suspect this number rolls in Social Security retirees.
RayfordSteele, Jul 23 2014

       One can of budweiser from a case, or one pack of cigarettes every couple of weeks does not represent "getting drunk".

       Even a whole case shared among friends during the Superbowl does not represent getting drunk. It does, however, make a huge difference in quality of life.
MechE, Jul 23 2014

       I say the poor should get weekly care packages containing a copy of the Communist Manifesto, a bottle of whisky, a case of beer, a carton of cigarettes and the necessary amount of calories for survival entirely supplied by delicious corn syrup sweetened treats, and of course instructions on how to vote in the next election to keep the goodies coming. For the troubled mind and the envious spirit, plenty of happy pills should be included, indeed, made manditory. Those showing signs of wanting to better their life through education and hard work may be suffering from anti-socialoliodosis and may need to be institutionalized.

       Anybody who would deny the poor these basic necessities is worse than Hitler and should probably be investigated for hate crimes.
doctorremulac3, Jul 23 2014

       again, multiple forms of assistance already come with plastic cards and are already checked (like food stamps). So this is truly nothing even remotely new. It is largely being done already. And of course generating a "healthy" trade in discounted cash (i.e. people sell those cards at a discount to get stuff they want)
theircompetitor, Jul 23 2014

       //I say the poor should get weekly care packages containing a copy of the Communist Manifesto//
You're making an assumption here about the level of educational attainment applicable to the lazy mass that constitutes the poor. Sending them a copy of a book is akin to sending Douglas Bader tap shoes. Bad show.
calum, Jul 23 2014

       Beer and smokes are the festering tip of the iceberg. I say if a thing is worth doing it is worth doing well, or at least completely. There are all sort of things that people do and buy that are not necessary for their own continued existence. If the idea behind welfare is to not let people die but support nothing beyond that, these additional indulgencies should be added to beer and cigs on the list of proscribed activities.

       A straightforward way to do this is to visit people who actually do survive in the most abject poverty - maybe in East African refugee camps? List the things that those people have, expel any superfluosities, and then bring that list home for the US welfare crowd.
bungston, Jul 23 2014

       I'm pretty passionate on this subject because I really do come from a family who, through the hard work and dedication to self education of my father, went from poverty, (living in the ghetto, really, East Palo Alto, look it up) to upper middle class by U.S. standards and fabulous wealth by World standards. I'm very aware of the factors that allow the downtrodden to stay locked in the shackles of poverty and the forces that can free them.

       It doesn't matter where you start from, doesn't matter what color you are, the way to freedom is bettering yourself through never ending education and effort. Period.

       It's like keeping trim and healthy instead of being fat. Here are the rules for rich people: "Diet and exercise: For poor people: "Diet and exercise" For stupid people: "Diet and exercise" For brilliant people: "Diet and exercise".

       Anybody who sells you a path to success based on anything other than educating yourself obsessively all your life and working hard is selling you snakeoil and probably making good money doing it.
doctorremulac3, Jul 23 2014

       TC, what you're talking about assumes that folks would try to purchase their alcohol and tobacco with their plastic foodstamp card. Of course it doesn't work, you're right, the card would be declined if they tried to use it for such purposes. But it does nothing to prevent them from using unreported cash income from doing side jobs under the table to pay for such things, and that's kinda my point. If you can be motivated to get a second job to pay for your beer, why can't you do it to pay your bills so you can stay off of Welfare? I have no problem with people who apply for Welfare and use it when they need it. When they need it.
21 Quest, Jul 23 2014

       I think there is a disconnect in the philosophy/implementation of food stamps. I'll step out on a limb and say that most food stamps don't result in the purchase and consumption of more or better food. Why you ask? That is because most sane people will give up other less essential items before they stop eating. Take 21 Quest's real life example. I'll bet he would have given up the $525/month duplex before he starved, so when he got $48/month in food stamps, that simply meant that he would spend $48 less of his other dollars each month on food. Now someone in a situation like his might be living on beans and rice for $30/month. In that case, he would actually end up spending $18 more per month on slightly better food, but the $30 he was no longer spending on food could potentially be spent on other things (like maybe a cheap cell phone plan). Someone else might opt to add the full $48 to their food budget, while I might continue eating primarily beans and rice, and use the extra $18 to buy "luxury" food items just to make the people behind me in line feel indignant that I was wasting food stamps.

       I'm not saying that providing some public assistance to those that have slipped is necessarily bad, but I think there is an largely incorrect perception that food stamps are better than handing out money because they is providing for a basic necessities. In some cases it may help prevent certain people from blowing the money on gambling or booze and starving anyway, or contribute to a slightly healthier diet, but it also creates a black market for selling the food stamps.

       This idea attempts to resolve this by taking control of purchases of certain unnecessary mind altering substances, but those are only a small portion of ways that people who aren't actually down to their last penny are "wasting" their money while feeding themselves with food stamps.
scad mientist, Jul 23 2014

       //One of the most widely spouted anti-welfare arguments is that people who can afford to support themselves aren't. There's a certain legitimacy to this argument.//

You'll need to back that statement up with some statistics, I think.

//Drive through poor neighborhoods with lots of welfare recipients and you'll see plenty of cigarette butts and beer cans in their yard or in their garbage/recycling bins.//

That's where you're supposed to put them. Are you suggesting that the wealthy store their rubbish elsewhere?

//If they van afford such vices as tobacco and alcohol, then they can afford to eat//

On what basis do you make that claim? I'm willing to bet you a shiny, pound coin that poor people are less able to afford their vices than wealthy people are.

//When you show your ID//

Ah, this is an American idea!

//it is scanned and checked against the welfare database.//

Which is, of course, incapable of being in error or unavailable due to network problems or water in the junction box. And let's not go into the issues regarding personal data.

//If you're a welfare recipient, you get a printed message saying you can't afford to buy this stuff, and the sale is canceled.//

Thus, those on welfare are unlikely to go into a shop in the normal way just so that they can be humiliated by the till. Instead, I suspect, there will be an increase in shoplifting, liquor store robberies, cigarette smuggling & distilling of wood alcohol.

Overall, I'd say this is a sound idea & should be of great financial benefit for the shareholders & owners of private gaols. Although, obviously, shopkeepers might be less enthusiastic.
DrBob, Jul 23 2014

       // If you're a welfare recipient, you get a printed message saying you can't afford to buy this stuff, and the sale is canceled.//

       Well, that sucks. It also misses, I think, the point of welfare. If you are sufficiently mean-spirited to give welfare only to people who live good, clean economical lives, then it's a pretty miserable country. A very sensible and prudent one, but miserable.

       Frankly, if some of the not insignificant amount of tax I pay buys a pack of fags for some poor sod, then good luck to them.

       Sure, some of my tax money will be pissed down the drain. Frankly, I piss a lot of my own money down the drain too, and I very much enjoy doing so. Fair's fair.

       Some of my tax money will be spent patching up rock-climbers who got it wrong, joggers who bust a tendon, and someone who got pissed and fell down a flight of stairs. That's fine with me - it really is.

       I'd rather see some of my tax squandered, frittered and enjoyed than live in your world for a day.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 23 2014

       I have absolutely no problem seeing Max's tax dollars spent on getting out of work people drunk from a financial standpoint, but I don't think giving people on welfare booze is an act of kindness. On the contrary, that's probably the last thing they need.
doctorremulac3, Jul 23 2014

       I've given this a lot of thought.

       it hasn't been enough thought yet

       I can't help but feeling though that if there were a minimum standard of living, which society would not let people sink beneath no matter how self destructive they'd become,... a great many people wouldn't sink quite so deep, and some not sink at all. Everyone cares about their loved ones so the effect should be a pay-forward one where people start helping each other stay afloat instead of feeling like they have to submerge one another to catch their next breath.

       Crime would decrease making the remaining perpetrators much easier to find and we all can all breathe easier, metaphorically speaking.

       It needs more thought...   

       I believe that a selfish but far-sighted person would want social services for that reason, [2_fries]. By lowering crime rates they benefit themselves disproportionately to the cost. Not only are they personally less likely to be victimized but insurance rates go down, general discontent goes down, demand for products rises, even wars are less likely. Furthermore it would bring a large contribution to business, culture and science from people able to make art and educate themselves.
Voice, Jul 23 2014

       One man's compassion is another man's pity.

       An interesting, if somewhat chilling, aspect of the debate on welfare recipients is the recurrence of the question of fault, blame, culpability, at the expense of the question of, for examples, shit luck, structural inequality and lack of ability.
calum, Jul 24 2014

       I tend to lean on the side of "what Dr.Bob" said. It makes the most sense to me. He, as usual, gives us a great UKian perspective to gnaw over.

       It's a tough call. Everything's a choice. People make bad decisions all the time. This won't change that. I don't think, at least.
blissmiss, Jul 24 2014

       //One of the most widely spouted anti-welfare arguments//

       //You'll need to back that statement up with some statistics//

       How about he just rephrases it slightly as a personal observation?

       As I imagine that's all it was, & from personal observation I'd tend to agree (just an opinion formed by casting my mind back over the past few decades, so probably a bit untrustworthy, my mind was a little stunned after it hit the ground (somewhere around 1970) so perhaps wasn't at it's best).

       You seem to be taking the long way round [21], [scad] & [theircompetitor] said it, but didn't actually come right out & say (I don't think?) "there's a much easier way to do this", some of the others may have too (too many posts!!, my mind keeps getting lost & losing the thread).

       The simplest answer if you want to implement this is a coupon system (welfare stamps), implemented with plastic or done in a more traditional manner.

       So the whole ideas silly, if they're using stamps that are limited to a particular product the situation can't arise, or was what you where really after the public naming & shaming at the supermarket check out?

       Though I get the impression you may not be entirely serious about this & may have ben poking the bear (just for the hell of it) when you posted it? ;p
Skewed, Jul 24 2014

       I'd just like everyone on this thread to simply stop thinking that their life experience or background or demographic or 'well I was poor once but look at me now!' story qualifies them to cast judgment on others or think they know why they vote the way they do or otherwise come across as self-satisfied ignorant asses. Nothing grinds my gears more than this.

       [doc], I'm happy that you escaped the poverty cycle. Understand that it was not entirely by your own efforts but by having resources that were attainable with some great effort. In some places in this country those resources do not functionally exist, and there are a great many hindrances that keep the poverty cycle going.

       [LimpNodes], your story is incredible. Personally, if I were digging through the dumpsters, I'd probably bother to sign up for the cash assistance. My wife and kids would thank me.

       I'm appalled by the conclusion that we've come to that to get welfare you need an invasive ID background check but to get a gun you do not.
RayfordSteele, Jul 24 2014

       ''Though I get the impression you may not be entirely serious about this & may have ben poking the bear (just for the hell of it) when you posted it? ;p''

       Hitting the nail on the head, is a powerful feat, me thinks. Our 21 has been known to post ideas that bear controversy a few times in the past. Just a few. (Sends a hug to new daddy, who I have great admiration for.)
blissmiss, Jul 24 2014

       //Nothing grinds my gears more than this.//

       Good, your gears need grinding. I get pissed off when somebody like you sees an alternate viewpoint from your self satisfied know-it-all-oracle posturing and starts calling names. To me that's an admission of failure of logic. Especially lame when the insult is oblique such as how you've posted it. Want to call me a self satisfied ignorant ass then at least have the balls to say it directly and take the inevitable insults that will come right back at you.

       There's been some amazing back and forth dialog about a very complicated subject here. People have put up some thoughtful, insightful even poignant points from different perspectives. Then you lumber calling names. Throwing out insults doesn't make you right, it just makes YOU the self satisfied ignorant ass. My opinion may differ from yours. Just because you're angry doesn't mean you're right.

       Back to the point, in my opinion, there needs to be more critical review of the outcome, and possible un- intended consequences of welfare programs and less thought into whether or not they sound good. If the un-intended consequences are destructive to the people they're trying to help, this needs to be looked at. I suspect that the real thing driving many welfare programs is their ability to make the people who support them look holier than thou, and if it hurts the people who they're supposed to help, who cares?

       And I do want to hear from people who've pulled themselves out of the gutter and have real insight into how it's done. These are the people whose opinion counts, not ivory tower know-it-alls who did their thesis on poverty before they went on summer vacation in The Hamptons. If the intellectual elite's war on poverty is causing more poverty, that's a problem.

       Unfortunately sometimes, like in the war on drugs, I'm afraid it's the war that counts more than the outcome.
doctorremulac3, Jul 24 2014

       The insults and high horses started way back here bud.

       " I say the poor should get weekly care packages containing a copy of the Communist Manifesto, a bottle of whisky, a case of beer, a carton of cigarettes and the necessary amount of calories for survival entirely supplied by delicious corn syrup sweetened treats, and of course instructions on how to vote in the next election to keep the goodies coming. For the troubled mind and the envious spirit, plenty of happy pills should be included, indeed, made manditory. Those showing signs of wanting to better their life through education and hard work may be suffering from anti-socialoliodosis and may need to be institutionalized."

       And yes, it was a genuine fuck off response. I don't mind hearing about the rags-to-riches stories. Where I get hot pissed is the assumption that those who haven't managed to escape it is due to some lack of effort on their part when frankly you don't know a damn thing about what they have or haven't done. I hear this drumbeat continuously coming out of one particular wing of one particular party, and it has pushed me perhaps permanently away from that party as simple judgmental assholeism dressed up in ideology.

       If I'm not mistaken, East Palo Alto resides in California, a state that is broke but at least gives a fuck. This is a rather different experience than, say, growing up in the buckle of the Bible belt or someplace like Montana where people move to in order to retire precisely because they don't want economic development and don't want to spend a nickel in taxes, and then have the gall to espouse the very same tired bootstraps to those who are simply trapped there. It's a different world now than when your father grew up.
RayfordSteele, Jul 24 2014

       I'm sorry, I'm missing where I insulted you.

       But as you wish. Fuck off right back at ya. Happy now?
doctorremulac3, Jul 24 2014

       "Booze and cigarettes are useful tools to keep poor people in their place so this would never catch on. You don't want the poor sobering up, getting jobs and deciding to vote for anything other than an intransigently stratified welfare state...

       Keep 'em drunk, keep 'em stupid and keep 'em voting."

       Ring a bell? Politics can get personal really fast.
RayfordSteele, Jul 24 2014

       Again, where did I insult you?

       Actually never mind. Now I'm the one being silly.
doctorremulac3, Jul 24 2014

       //I hear this drumbeat continuously coming out of one particular wing of one particular party, and it has pushed me perhaps permanently away from that party//

       Ray, the reality is both major parties have their drumbeats, and neither are pleasant [he says, reloads, and shoots a woman walking across the street with his AK47. Another hit in the war on women!]
theircompetitor, Jul 24 2014

       For whatever it's worth, I'll go on record as being a registered Libertarian. "The Party That Neither Side Likes" tm.

       My opinion, right or wrong, is that social programs should help people in need and not cause people to become needy.

       As far as the flame war stuff goes, I'll post my opinions without ad-homynym attacks except in response to same. They just shut down dialog and dialog is good. It's critical to a democracy.
doctorremulac3, Jul 24 2014

       [doc] that's a major trend, and perhaps will at least help re-position conservatives <full disclosure: my daughter is running for Congress on the Libertarian Party ticket and is the State Vice Chair>
theircompetitor, Jul 24 2014

       Bigotry is an insult to anyone who reads it. That you don't even recognize it is what really bothers me. It's pervasive in the Libertarian wing. I guess a fish doesn't ever feel wet. The other really insulting part is the tendency to talk like they have some kind of monopoly on either fiercely independent personal responsibility or common sense, and that those who vote differently do so because they have ulterior motives, consciously or otherwise. It's frankly bigotry.

       'war on women'

       Ooh, there's another one that grinds me. Prepare for an earful if you really want to go there. Did you know that in South Dakota, Republicans there actually proposed a bill that would make it legal to murder an abortion provider? Seriously. Look it up.

       If we're going on record, i'll go on record as a former Republican, raised in a Libertarian-leaning socially-conservative household that escaped all that and now is fiercely independent of either party.
RayfordSteele, Jul 24 2014

       //my daughter is running for Congress on the Libertarian Party ticket and is the State Vice Chair//

       Wow! That's amazingly awesome! You've raised her well my friend.

       The very best of luck to her. The Republicrat party that currently runs the country for fun and profit isn't going to give up their lucrative power base easily. She's got her work cut out for her, but I bet she's got what it takes. Go team freedom! And my most sincere respect to your courageous daughter.
doctorremulac3, Jul 24 2014

       The biggest problem I see with the idea is the implication that welfare recipients aren't making 'rational economic decisions'. The line on rational economics says that people will pursue the greatest benefits for the least cost, so a social welfare policy that tries to remedy irrational economic behavior places a fairly well established although heavily disputed economic principle into a grey area. The policy suggests an amendment to that principle 'people will pursue greatest benefits at the least cost under enough constraints to compel the more rational decision', which transforms a 'liberal' or classical economic principle to one of a controlled economy. That the restrictions you propose to implement affect those who perhaps don't have 'the spirit of capitalism' , will in fact erode some aspect of capitalism rather than make the recipients 'more rational'. Better for capitalism to interpret even the purchase of vices as rational pursuit of pleasure, rather than to allow a dialectical conflict between prudence and imprudence empower anyone else with a Communist Manifesto to fight the class war with booze and smokes.

       Aside from that the discussion seems mainly about the welfare state, and what if anything the poor are entitled to. The 'progressive' economic argument that emerged with industrial capitalism was that eventually the industrialism of mechanization would lead to a workerless society since machines were capable of so much more productivity than workers alone. Although that didn't exactly pan out, it's likely the main factor that makes a modern welfare state possible, but also necessitates the need for one due to less demand for labor. Obviously the economics is far more complicated than that, as my paltry exam results would attest, but my general 'communist' viewpoint on that issue is if no welfare state then no industrial capitalism.
rcarty, Jul 24 2014

       The other line on rational economics is that personal economics doesn't follow much rationale. Witness the popularity of products which effectively bring no value whatsoever to the consumer--'Head On,' 'Perrier,' Scientology, etc.
RayfordSteele, Jul 24 2014

       That's right, conspicuous consumption and all that. Not really sure about all those, but obviously branding does something that influences decision making. Anyone that joins scientology is pretty much deciding not to use their own brain anymore. I"d still say the bulk of people's decisions are rational at least in terms of the important decisions. It's a fairly important principle, if rationality completely disintegrated then the state would definitely have to start making everyone's decisions. Instead of directly doing that the state provides everyone with a public education to inculcate some rationality.
rcarty, Jul 24 2014

       I'm less concerned with people's ability to make rational choices than I am with their willingnes to deliberately defraud the government. Lying about your income to get free stuff is a perfectly rational thing to do, but that's not the sort of rationality we ought to be encouraging.
21 Quest, Jul 24 2014

       They're not defrauding the government, they get a sum that they can spend how they choose.
rcarty, Jul 24 2014

       But they wouldn't get that sum if the government knew they had enough to buy beer and cigarettes. Lying about your income and expenses is what makes it fraud.
21 Quest, Jul 24 2014

       That's not necessarily the case. I am fairly certain that there are some people who are legitimately on welfare, based on their true income, who decide to spend some of their welfare on alcohol and tobacco.

       I thought the point of your idea was "If you're on welfare, you have no right to buy beer and cigarettes". If so, I disagree, as noted.

       If the whole point of your idea was "buying beer and cigarettes on welfare proves you're lying about your income", then the idea was badly phrased (aside from being probably wrong).

       Incidentally, given that government taxes account for 85% of the cost of cigarettes and 35% of the cost of beer, isn't a bit rich to say that people buying them on welfare are cheating the government?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 24 2014

       //if rationality completely disintegrated then the state would definitely have to start making everyone's decisions.//

       Odd self-fulfilling prophecy there somewhere. As WND and the looney fringe such starts becoming more popular, the state is going to have to start stepping on toes.
RayfordSteele, Jul 24 2014

       Especially since we're talking about it in the economic sense. psy. freudian defence mechanism soc. application of science to human behaviour econ. see above
rcarty, Jul 25 2014

       Seems like it would be the goal to get those circles to cross in as large an area as possible.
RayfordSteele, Jul 25 2014

       See link for a very realistic explanation of why one particular person smokes, despite working two jobs and going to school and knowing it's bad for her.
MechE, Jul 28 2014

       I don't get.

       I mean, I get it, I got to see the welfare system from a kids perspective and then hear the bragging about 'stick'n it' to the government collecting welfare, working two under-the-table jobs plus tips and then crying for an emergency cheque come Christmas for kids and then returning all of the gifts after-the-fact for the refund.

       If there were a minimum standard of living for every human... and I mean even the laziest, no-account, slacker you've ever known.

       Yeah, even that guy/gal...

       It seems to me that there would be no place to go but upwards.
Yes, some would, and will, stagnate there for a generation or so, but what happens when you have no more excuses? When an able, or even disabled person can no longer cite suppression as a crutch... what happens?

       I've seen it a few times now so I already know the answer and don't want to give any spoilers.   

       I read the linked article, MechE. In its entirety. It is utter bullshit. Her attitude embodies all that is wrong with America's poor. She says saving money won't help because she'll just always be poor. That blowing 5 bucks at Wendy's doesn't make a difference. Well it sure as hell does make a difference. 5 bucks a day for a month adds up. 5 bucks more than once a day adds up exponentially. That plus smoking, if excised from her budget, would easily put another couple hundred a month in her pocket with which she could pay off debts and then move into a better place and maybe not have to work two jobs to make ends meet and then she wouldn't be so exhausted all the time. She says she needs to smoke because it's a stimulant and she's always tired so she needs it. Well coffee is a goddamn stimulant, is a hell of a lot cheaper, and won't give her cancer. If she'd never gotten addicted to it in the first place she wouldn't feel like she needed it at all and would be perfectly fine without it. She *needs* tobacco like she needs a hole in the head, or more to the point, like a not-quite- suicidal teen *needs* to cut her wrists. That article presents such a lame argument it wouldn't even cut is as a colander because it would fall apart as soon as the water touched it.
21 Quest, Jul 29 2014

       It's a real pisser that people don't always act rationally or in their own best interest. It's a pisser not just for the individual who makes decisions that are assessed by others as being poor (and great judging, others, you're the best!), but it's also a pisser for anyone attempting to create a framework for incentivisation / discouragement which is based on rational argument because those schemes do not work precisely because people don't always act rationally or in their own best interest. In summary, then: piss.
calum, Jul 29 2014

       Work is an inherent evil. An ideal society will be one where only those who wish to do so, work. No one is "to blame" when someone got a "free" vacation". No on is to blame for people not working. Because it's a good thing if people don't have to work! Take your antiquated economics and stuff them back where they came fr om. Then grow your heart three sizes and get a new perspective on the human condition.

As for those working but avoiding taxes/collecting undue welfare I have no pity for them. That's vile.

       EDIT: yes I did.
Voice, Jul 29 2014

       You had me until "antiquated economics". Well, not really, but at least until then it's an interesting argument. As to "antiquated economics", no, so far at least it's the only real economics that's ever existed. Granted, scarcity is getting repealed, sector by sector, but that idleness will not come without a huge societal cost. You make it sound as if lying on a couch in an opium den is the goal of sentient existence. I hope not.
theircompetitor, Jul 29 2014

       //Work is an inherent evil. An ideal society will be one where only those who wish to do so, work.//

       So who are these people who would voluntarily get up at 4 in the morning to collect garbage if work was entirely optional?
doctorremulac3, Jul 29 2014

       Scarcity is by no means getting repealed. Tell that one to the fishing industry.

       [Voice], is that satire or does my antenna need adjusting?
RayfordSteele, Jul 29 2014

       Not sure [doc] but I think his dream probably includes a fully automated society with servitor robots doing all the work.

       An Asimov fan perhaps?
Skewed, Jul 29 2014

       Ray, scarcity will get repealed in in industry after industry, in your life time. Ask the music industry, and think about 3D printers not 10, but 50 years from now.
theircompetitor, Jul 29 2014

       //fully automated society with servitor robots doing all the work.//

       We're already experiencing that more and more every year through automation. An automated society doesn't necessarily feature anthropomorphic androids with arms and legs speaking to us in monotone without conjunctions, it can be the single farmer that provides food for 20,000 people or the factory that makes cars with 1 worker where it previously took 20 for a particular task.

       Thing is, we're not there yet and the garbage will be piled pretty high if we sit around waiting for Garbagebot 9000 to come along and save the day.

       I think the history of Socialism is pretty interesting stuff no matter where you stand. There's a pretty compelling story of the town of New Harmony, the Owenites and the Harmonist movement that makes for some fascinating reading if you get a minute.
doctorremulac3, Jul 29 2014

       No [tc]. Think about resources. Think about food. Water. Oil. Arable land. Desertification. Breathable air. Biodiversity. The Amazon. Rare earth metals that go in hybrid vehicle motors and batteries. Think about the politics involved in trying to acquire those resources as they become scarcer. Think about the environmental disaster looming over our heads. Not 50 years from now, but 15.

       Music is not an industry that makes much of anything out of scarce resources. Never was. It feeds only the stomach of the musician and their downstream dependents, and vibrates the air a little.

       Work is not evil. 'My object in living is to unite my avocation and vocation, as my two eyes make one in sight.'
RayfordSteele, Jul 29 2014

       //the history of Socialism is pretty interesting stuff//

       I think so too [doc], but maybe not in the way you think, ran into a friends younger brother recruiting for some communist party a few years ago, I'm sorry to say I laughed at him, after which I pointed out.

       a) The ideals may be exemplary but every attempt to date to implement them on a national scale has resulted in a system that (for any practical purpose) is indistinguishable from a totalitarian dictatorship.

       b) That communism had been soundly trounced by America (with the fall of the USSR) & that until the US falls from power as the only extant (active) super power he was pissing in the wind.

       c) The US would step heavily on anyone going that route & without the USSR there was no one left to stop them, they'd find things very lonely politics & trade wise so would likely crumble & can't expect help from China (they never gave a crap about the whole global communism shtick).

       In short that he was wasting his time & should get involved with another party, any other party.

       I also had to correct him about democracy being the enemy of communism, it's not, capitalism is (it's just that capitalisms heartland is in America) which is essentially an economic rather than political system.

       Communism (as expressed in the USSR) was democratic, just not in the west European model, you might think of it as a kind of feudal model of democracy, best I can determine it was identical to the way the European Union elections are run (proportional rep aside).

       Long & short I think it's a dead duck (at least until the Imperial United States of America falls), & given it's track record of eventual practical results... not a fan.
Skewed, Jul 29 2014

       I'm no communist, but I don't have to be one to recognize that "work or die" is a piss poor way to run an economy. I recognize that capitalism is an excellent way to deal with scarcity, but at the same time there's no need for the levels of scarcity that are now being maintained with great effort through wars, improper focus on "security", paranoia over crime, inefficient use of manpower, and excessive imprisonment in the US.
Voice, Jul 29 2014

       You're missing the point [21Quest]. People in that position don't have a checking or savings account that they can set something aside in, and even if they did it would be eaten up the next time the car needed repairs, or the kid needed to go to the doctor.

       Yes, she could save a few bucks by cooking a home instead of eating at Wendy's, but it's a decision made on the fly after taking classes, taking care of the kids, and working two jobs. It may not be the best decision (and she is clearly aware of that), but the situation is what it is. You also noticed the bit where, for a lot of her life, she's not actually had a kitchen available, or pots and pans. Which is not an unusual state at the bottom end of the economic ladder (I would also suggest "Nickled and Dimed: On Not Getting by in America").

       I'm sure you also caught the bit that she's actually qualified for better paying jobs, but can't afford the wardrobe or the cosmetic dentistry required to fit the image. And yes, maybe, if she gave up her one bit of relaxation (those cigarettes you blame her for) for the next five years, she could get those things, and start making more money. But five years is an awful long time when you're simply trying to make it paycheck to paycheck.

       You come in from a fifty thousand foot level, and say "if you stopped doing this" or "if you just did this" they could break out of this position. And you may be right. But the view for the people who are down there and struggling is significantly different.
MechE, Jul 29 2014

       What you're talking about there isn't communism or capitalism [Voice], it's a form of state sponsored self regulating economic slavery.

       You have to feed clothe & house a slave, so if you only pay someone enough to do that then it's just economic slavery.

       If you pay them less than that so they have to take benefits from the state to survive then it's state subsidised economic slavery.

       It boggles my mind the middle classes aren't up in arms about it, you wouldn't pay half your neighbours gardeners wages for him would you?

       So why should you pay part of some rich twat (or companies) wage bill as benefits (because they pay their staff too little to live on) through your taxes?

       <the answer I believe (just in case anyone didn't catch it) is a legal minimum wage set at a liveable level>

       In short [Quest] & everyone else here (except[2_fries]) has entirely missed the fact the real culprit isn't the 'undeserving poor' (who's getting variously hammered or defended here) but the ones employing them on a pittance who are ripping you off (personally) to the tune of the benefits bill needed to subsidise their employees continuing ability to (live) & work for him (or her).

       <Americans seem so proud they don't live in a benefits driven economy? funny that, they do, it's just split, only the rich get benefits (all the working poor's benefits are actually subsidised wages, indirect benefits paid to the rich from the middle classes (earners) tax)>


       High unemployment of course is a necessary 'evil' if you want low wages.

       Which necessitates paying them benefits (if you don't they die, your excess workforce disappears & wages go back up (not good for the rich), or worse, they get annoyed at the prospect of starvation & actually riot (could cause property damage, the rich wouldn't like that)).

       So all benefits to the non-working poor can also be considered a subsidy to the rich as it helps maintain a low wage economy with (relatively) little unrest from the effected (low paid / unemployed) population.

       Call me a cynic why don't you ;p
Skewed, Jul 29 2014

       And that by the way is capitalism speaking not communism.

       Funny thing that, but when talking about market forces (supply & demand etc.) in the press or politics it only ever seems to apply to employers, everyone seems to forget that it cuts both ways.

       An employer says they can't pay more than that & everyone nods their head sagely & says 'but of course market forces, supply & demand, we understand'.

       An employee says they can't work for less than that & they're a lazy good for nothing scrounger.

       Bit of a double standard going on there.

       You wouldn't demand a car manufacture sell their cars for less than the production cost, so why should you demand an employee sell their labour for less than its production cost.

       Any human labour (manual or other) must perforce be performed by a human.

       A human has to be fed clothed & housed, these needs may continue beyond their useful working life, so any sensible cost analysis of that labour includes all that plus sufficient (over a normal working life) to provide for healthcare & pension requirements, the cost of working (transport to & from work etc.) & a little for themselves (or it's still slavery).

       So if you think of employee's as businessmen selling a product (their labour), it begins to look suspiciously like we actually aren't operating in a free market after all.

       The principles of (the theory of) supply & demand dictate no sensible individual sells there goods for less than the cost of manufacture (unless other pressures are manipulating the market), & yet a large segment of the population (low paid employees) consistently sell their product at far les than production cost.

       Wonder why that is?
Skewed, Jul 29 2014

       Mech, I have BEEN at the bottom rung of society, working manual labor temp jobs living in a shitty duplex in the shitty part of town where I routinely watched drug busts out my living room window. That wasn't all that long ago, either. We're talking 6 years ago I lived like that. I fought my way up to where I am now. How do you suppose she lost her teeth? Simple personal hygiene and vitamin C could have prevented that, is that society's fault, too? That she couldn't be arsed to brush her teeth? Yes it is a goddamn hell of a fight to get out of that kind of rut, you have to give up your vices and just suck it up and deal with it, motivated by the opportunities you're working toward. Couldn't get a job because she was ugly... Maybe not a cushy, lazy front desk job or inconsistently paying sales job, but she could get a job at a factory or call center. Can't afford clothes? Really? For the price of a carton of cigarettes I could get two or three full outfits including shoes at a local thrift store.
21 Quest, Jul 29 2014

       Raising minimum wage to a livable amount is, while something I support, something that will bring the crisis to a head much faster by encouraging mechanization. The least skilled 50% of workers RIGHT NOW are doing things computers could be doing. In 20 years that will be 60-70%. You won't fix that by making sure if they have work they can live on it. I'm talking about sweeping floors, handling physical paper, transcribing spoken and written words to computer, driving, translating languages, packing boxes, controlling basic industrial processes, changing diapers, washing dishes, and the like.

       Every task doable by a person of average intelligence with no special education will soon be doable by a computer and no one even knows what special educations will be required, let alone is willing to pay for education plus cost of living while they get it.

       This won't be fixed by inventing new basic tasks which can be immediately automated. And everything else needs a person more capable than the Mark Ten High School Graduate we're churning out. Those people will literally starve unless a new economic paradigm is entered or we keep treading water by inventing more useless tasks for them. Are we going to give our ditch diggers spoons to dig with or are we going to finally admit that technology should be taking over?
Voice, Jul 29 2014

       [21] I've looked for work frequently and hard enough to know that no, there is no job cannon I can put on my job helmet and get into and fire off into job land where jobs grow on jobbies. The fact that you seem do have had a different experience doesn't mean everyone lives in your miracle world of unlimited opportunity.
Voice, Jul 29 2014

       I recall how around Y2K, magazines used to talk about the incredible shortage of labor that was coming around 2011 because of the wave of boomers retiring. Turns out it came, this shortage -- which is saving our government's ass, such as it were -- in the guise of a rapidly dropping participation rate which is helping the unemployment rate along.

       The future is unpredictable. The only predictable thing is that you are always playing wackamole with it.
theircompetitor, Jul 29 2014

       guise. I mean, how could it possibly be guys?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 29 2014

       I never found any miracle world of unlimited opportunity. I lived within my means and busted my ass until I found an opportunity to move up.
21 Quest, Jul 29 2014

       Well, congratulations on doing better for yourself.
rcarty, Jul 29 2014

       Question: would a minimum wage simply raise the price of everything as health insurance did when it was instituted, and if so, by how much?

       Personally I don't think that a raise in the minimum wage would have that much of an effect as much of our produced goods come from overseas where the cost of transport is more of a driver. But I'd love to hear the counterargument.

       [Skewed], the word you're looking for is except, not accept.

       There is one minor difference between actual slavery and economic slavery, in that the economic slave can always try and move the needle in their own interest, hard as it may be, through 'socialist' ideas like the library, public education loans, gardening, singing on the street corner for spare change, etc.
RayfordSteele, Jul 29 2014

       None of those are socialist ideas as far as I can tell. Minimum wage as well minimum wage increases have been instituted numerous places without detrimental economic effect. Of course there's nothing to stop industry leaders from sabotaging economic progress by raising prices, shutting down businesses, hiring fewer employees etc. That's a fairly common thing to happen in America.
rcarty, Jul 29 2014

       The piecework prices for my trade have not increased in almost twenty years while the price of "everything" else has skyrocketed.

       I can't shave any more seconds off of everything that I do.
At one time I could afford to keep my family and put my wife through school.
Now, if she hadn't upgraded her education for her career, we'd be out on the street if we were relying on my wages alone.

       To quote Bubbles:
"Something's fucky."

       Two fries, I don't know if you have any employees working for you. If you did. I'm sure you can well imagine what a minimum wage increase (which YOU would have to pay) would do to a business like yours which is already struggling to stay afloat (if you were currently paying them minimum wage, that is).

       An interesting thing I've noticed, working the almost 30 jobs I've held over the years... Is that very few businesses even pay the minimum wage though. Most of my employers have paid at least a buck or two per hour above the legal minimum. My point is that, if you're working a minimum wage job and not making it, there ARE higher paying entry- level, unskilled jobs out there. I've done them. Raising the minimum wage is not the answer.
21 Quest, Jul 29 2014

       It's the answer for low wages that don't cover the cost of living.
rcarty, Jul 29 2014

       The cost of living varies by neighborhood and dwelling type. In a low- rent neighborhood like the one I used to live in, I was only paying $525.00 a month for a 2 bdrm duplex. At the minimum wage at the time (somewhere right around $7.16 per hour), working full time at a single job, after taxes you'd be making right around $1,000.00 per month. In winter, figure maybe $80.00 per month electric bill for a small place, and water/sewer/garbage is usually included in the rent. That leaves $400.00 a month for toiletries, food, and a phone. Easy for a single person to get by on, and at a quality of life far better than most of the rest of the world enjoys. Working two jobs at that wage, or still just one job at a few dollars more, and you'd be able to support a couple of kids with a little left in the bank for an emergency savings account.

       Now the minimum wage is up around $9.50 per hour, and cheapside housing still obtainable in the $500-600.00 range. Most jobs still pay more than minimum wage, too. I'm doing pretty well making about $12.34 per hour with a couple weekends of overtime each month. Single job. So I don't want to hear people are working two jobs at minimum wage and not able to make it. That's bullshit. They need a fucking life coach, not welfare.
21 Quest, Jul 29 2014

       I'm just wondering where all these jobs are coming from.
Voice, Jul 29 2014

       //would a minimum wage simply raise the price of everything//

       Yes of course [Ray].

       Raising wages (effectively) increases the supply of available cash so market forces (supply & demand) predict a fall in the value of the currency.

       It's not a policy that can be brought in in isolation.

       You'd have to anchor your currency against a finite commodity to avoid that (the old gold standard or something new (lead, copper, tin, whatever)).

       Another effect is increased production costs (from the higher wage) which leads to less competitive prices causing fewer exports & more imports resulting in job losses, so (eventually) higher tax (to support the extra out of work) & lower wages (as your excess labour pool increases)).

       To counter this you have to increase import tax to avoid being outcompeted in your domestic market by those countries still using economic slaves.

       And to compensate for the loss of export jobs you have to increase it further to actually reduce imports (creating new domestic jobs (to replace those lost in the export market)).
Skewed, Jul 30 2014

       //I don't think that a raise in the minimum wage would have that much of an effect as much of our produced goods come from overseas// //cost of transport is more of a driver//

       It doesn't really matter how much a thing costs to produce / transport (once the price is past those costs).

       If you have more people who can afford a thing than before price will tend to go up as demand rises (they may not realise it but everyone is effectively in a bidding war for the product).

       Unless the supply of the product also rises, for some products that's easy & producers seeing the opportunity to make more sales will oblige.

       For other products it's not so easy (you may have a finite supply of available arable land for instance & so eventually reach a plateau beyond which you can't produce more food).

       I'd expect fuel price to rise (at least temporarily) as more people find they have disposable income to spend on going places (visiting friends / relatives), until more wells can be brought on line.

       Which of course will hasten the end of our fossil fuel resources ;p
Skewed, Jul 30 2014

       //except, not accept//

       fixed, thanks.
Skewed, Jul 30 2014

       //There is one minor difference// //the economic slave can always try and move the needle in their own interest//

       And it is minor (good choice of word ;)

       <though I believe you were really being ironic?>

       As [Voice] said //I'm just wondering where all these jobs are coming from//.

       You can only have so many Chiefs per Indians, if one moves up one must move down.

       So what you mean then is that keeping over 50% of the population as economic slaves is ok by you / or anyone who can't outcompete over half the rest of the population for a better job deserves to be one?

       Just asking ;p

       A major difference of course is not actually being chattel, they can't decide to send you to the glue factory (though watching the US sending it's young off to wars this past decade or so I'm not so sure).
Skewed, Jul 30 2014

       [2 fries], it seems the price of admission has gone up. That's the nature of competition and I suspect it's always been that way. I don't have any better answers.

       [21], if businesses are struggling to stay afloat, then how do they afford that extra buck or two above the minimum? Cost of doing business and having decent help?
RayfordSteele, Jul 30 2014

       wow. I think an idea should also benefit from the number of responses it receives and the length of those. This one is very successful in that respect.

       Just wanted 21 to know that I threw a fishbone at the idea first agreeing with Voice and with MechE's sarcastic remark. Then after reading his reply, changed it to Neutral, moving to pastry and back and forth along the discussion till I gave up, and left it there at Neutral not being able to decide or read on.
pashute, Jul 30 2014

       //if businesses are struggling to stay afloat, then how do they afford that extra buck or two above the minimum?//

       That's the job of the government, to provide an economic environment in which business can flourish, It seems to me there are two ways to go on that.

       1) Say 'slavery (even economic) bad' & institute a legal minimum (liveable) wage.

       Which means you have to anchor the currency & put up trade barriers (import taxes) against any country still using economic slaves just to even the playing field for your own industries.

       2) Say 'slavery good', let your businesses pay as little as they like & to help things along open your doors to as many immigrants as you can cram in (to increase the excess labour pool (thus reducing wages)).

       Which means you'll have a lot of unemployed, they'll have to be paid benefits so you'll have to raise tax.

       Not making any judgement about which method is ultimately best results wise for a country (trying not to anyway (failing miserably)).

       But if you chose door 2 it seems a bit rich to then whinge about paying the pittance you do to those you deliberately condemned to poverty, especially as their existence (you need a large excess labour pool to keep wages low (so you can't let them starve)) is a vital component of your chosen strategy.

       Or is that really such an unreasonable position to take (thoughts ;)?
Skewed, Jul 30 2014

       I don't know where you're pulling a $9.50 minimum wage from either, the Federal is still only $7.25, and more than half the states don't have anything higher.

       Your accounting also forget to include withholding, which runs 7.65% even if you have no taxes withheld.

       The average cost of a 1 Bedroom apartment in the US is $943/month. Yes, you can probably get cheaper than that most places, but some you can't, and your $525 for a two bedroom is simply well below what you'll be able to find most places, even in the bad part of town.

       Of course that assumes you have first, last, and the security deposit to rent the apartment in the first place. If not, you're going to be in an extended stay hotel, or a weekly pay SRO, both of which cost more in real terms, and don't have a kitchen or refrigerator, so there goes your attempt to save money by eating healthy and doing your own cooking. Assuming you know how to do either of those, and assuming you have access to a store that actually sells ingredients rather than everything pre-packaged and processed.

       A full time, federal minimum wage job (assuming you can find a full time one) pays $15080 a year, call it 13,900 take home, assuming no withholding and no "uniform fees" or other nasty little things that employers like to tack in. I'll be generous and say that housing only runs $800/month everything included (low for a major city). The $360 a month that leaves has to cover the routine stuff, toiletries, food, phone, laundry. But it better also cover medical on an as needed basis. And you left out transportation. Does your city have a decent transit system? If not, you've got a car, gas, repairs, all in that range. And since the car you can afford is a beater, you'd better accept that repairs are going to be a regular part of it. If the city does have transit, you'd still better set aside a few bucks for that night your boss keeps you 15 minutes past the last bus, and you you can't afford to complain about the cost of the taxi, because he can replace you tomorrow if you do.

       I'm glad you were able to work your way off a low rung of the societal ladder, but from your own description you were a) never all the way at the bottom and b) you had a better educational and life skills background than many people who found themselves there.

       If you want to save money in welfare, find a way to help these people do the same thing you did, not blame them for poor choices they make because they don't see a better option.
MechE, Jul 30 2014

       Washington State minimum wage is currently $9.32 per hour (just looked it up). As to where all the jobs are coming from, they've always been there. Many of them have been temporary or seasonal, but jobs have always been available to those who look. Go on Craigslist or the back of a Sunday paper, you'll see lots of jobs posted, every week.

       I just looked at a house that I was considering moving into a couple weeks ago, Mech. 3 bedroom single-family-house, with a huge yard and 4 mins driving from downtown, $695.00 per month rent. There are always houses like that, not to mention apartments and duplexes. You can't go by average cost, man. The average worker makes above minimum wage, so can afford a higher average cost of living. Cost of living is generally lower in states with lower wages. I lived in Ormond Beach, FL making minimum wage (federal at the time was $5.50 and Florida pays federal minimum) plus tips as a pizza delivery driver and my bills were paid just fine. I was living in a 2 bedroom single wide trailer home on a good sized lot paying $550.00 rent within a few miles of the Daytona Speedway and a beach. I got by like that for 6 months until I got my money from the military to move back to my home of record, and could've kept going strong for a lot longer.

       Part of the problem mech is that I did what I did by working hard because I saw it as my only option. I never for a second thought to apply for welfare and become a burden on the state. You can't convince people who are on welfare and enjoying the level of subsistence it provides to get off it and do the kind if hard work it takes to be self sufficient. Sometimes you have to just yank the rug out from under them and say 'move along, pal'. Take away the easy, lazy option and force them into a sink or swim situation. My daughter's mother and I just split 2 weeks ago. Woman's a welfare bum and shameless about it. Would not work to save her fucking life for the 3 years we were together. Within a week of giving her the boot, she's boasting to me about not only having a place of her own but a job as well. But now the Division of Child Support is coming after me because she tried to have our daughter added to her foodstamps so she'd get more, well what the fuck is she spending her wages on? She was already being given over $300.00 per month for food, and that's just for her and her other son. The fuck does she need more than for if she's working?
21 Quest, Jul 30 2014

       //every attempt to date to implement them on a national scale has resulted in a system that (for any practical purpose) is indistinguishable from a totalitarian dictatorship//

Well, if by that you are referring to the 2nd Spanish Republic, which was abandoned by the 'democratic' nations to the tender mercies of General Franco, or the socialist government of Salvador Allende in Chile, which was overthrown by General Pinochet, with significant assistance from the USA, then I suppose you are right. Personally, I would also claim the Czechoslovakian Republic that was abandoned to Hitler's Nazis, but we might have to start arguing about what 'socialist' actually constitutes.

Rather less dramatically, there have been avowedly (though not necessarily practically) socialist governments in both Britain & France in the last fifty years, none of which have (as yet) led to a totalitarian dictatorship.
DrBob, Jul 30 2014

       Having visited a few of the more 'progressive,' (ie. leaning closer to socialist), it seems to me that the poor there have it a bit easier than here, and the country is better off for it.
RayfordSteele, Jul 30 2014

       <Rather less dramatically, there have been avowedly (though not necessarily practically) socialist governments in both Britain & France in the last fifty years, none of which have (as yet) led to a totalitarian dictatorship.>

       It's a matter of time and the level of encroachment on private property. Confiscatory taxation coupled with expanding govt. services will tend to diminish available resources pretty rapidly. Elections do provide corrections, so you haven't really observed what 50 years of the stuff would do.

       <Having visited a few of the more 'progressive,' (ie. leaning closer to socialist), it seems to me that the poor there have it a bit easier than here, and the country is better off for it>

       Hard to know where to even begin there. These progressive places where not in Central America, were they?
theircompetitor, Jul 30 2014

       A little heads up to those who like to throw Mao's little red book or the communist manifesto into your social programs bashing. Read them; you clearly don't know your shit. Both hold universal guaranteed employment in high regard. Both mandated productive work as a precursor to any benefits and both stipulated that the lack of jobs for the unemployed was a cruelty of the capitalistic system rather than a desired byproduct of communistic thinking. Slacking and sucking on any teat is described as a bourgeoise symptom of asocial ethics.
WcW, Jul 30 2014

       //you haven't really observed what 50 years of the stuff would do//

Well, the first labour government in Britain was in the 1920's, so that's nearly a hundred years of, admittedly intermittent, socialism.
DrBob, Jul 30 2014

       Northern Europe.
RayfordSteele, Jul 30 2014

       Pennsylvania has the federal minimum, cost of a 1 Bedroom in Philly is 600 minimum, plus utilities.

       DC -Federal Minimum, 1 Bedroom is 1200 minimum.

       NYC - $8 Dollar minimum, 1 Bedroom is 1200 plus utilities, and at that transportation will eat you alive, cause it's way in the outer boroughs.

       You happen to have lived in a state with a relatively high minimum wage, and a relatively low cost of living (I'm guessing you weren't in Seattle or Redmond at the time).
MechE, Jul 30 2014

       And I actually agree that confiscatory taxation to pay for social programs is not a solution. But I don't feel that fifty or even sixty percent on income over, say, a million, is confiscatory. At that point, you're not dependent on that extra for quality of life, and it still means you're getting a lot more disposable income out of that money than someone who's making 30k, and needs almost every penny just to cover necessities.
MechE, Jul 30 2014

       //But I don't feel that fifty or even sixty percent on income over, say, a million, is confiscatory... At that point, you're not dependent on that extra for quality of life//

       God forbid that the State should decide what quality of life is sufficient for its subjects.

       <DrBob> but that's my point, elections and swings back and forth do provide a bit of a buffer. Once you get a consistent, persistent swing left, you're in for a lot of hurt.
theircompetitor, Jul 30 2014

       MechE, go to Craigslist and look up housing for rent in DC. Put 700 in the 'max' field and see how many pop up. I don't know what definition of 'minimum' you're going by, but it's the wrong definition I can tell you that right now.
21 Quest, Jul 30 2014

       I was pulling off a "cost of living site" and I agree some of those that pop in DC might be real, so it might have been a little high. However, an awful lot of those "under $700" are scams or aren't in DC (a bunch of the listings are ~2hours out, not on transit, what's that going to do to your travel expenses). And none of them include electric or gas (neither's cheap in DC). $1200 might be high but I can guarantee your $525 plus $80 for utilities is not even close for DC.

       Realistically, it's looks like it's about $680 for the city proper, or reasonable commuting suburbs, and figure another $120 for utilities, and your back where I started in my analysis.
MechE, Jul 30 2014

       Any figures on what percentage of workers are actually making the minimum wage in the area? According to Bureau of Labor figures, last year a whopping 4.3% of all workers in the US were at or below the federal minimum wage. 4.3%. That's it. That means 95.7% of the American workforce is making more than the minimum wage. Hope that sheds some light on my perspective.

       (By the way, that figure of 4.3 is one of the higher figures out there. Heritage.org puts it at about 2.9%, and a lot of minimum wage earners also get tip income which goes largely unreported)
21 Quest, Jul 30 2014

       My first ever real job, I made minimum wage for about 2 weeks. And then I made a dime over minimum wage for the rest of the summer.

       Any estimates on how many people's wages are set by the minimum wage, even if that isn't what they're making?

       Also, again, I freely admit 22 states have zero people making the federal minimum, which would, generally, indicate higher numbers elsewhere.

       And an addition, I don't believe waiters are generally counted as minimum wage employees, even if that's all they're actually getting.

       (And I trust BoL numbers a lot more than I do anything coming from the heritage foundation)
MechE, Jul 30 2014

       As do I, Mech, believe me. That's why I cited them first. One thing that really sucks in some red states is that employers can legally pay employees who get tips less than the minimum wage (that includes your waiters and delivery drivers, and they are included in that 'minimum or below' grouping). I think that's wrong, m'kay? I'm not a total monster when it comes to such things.
21 Quest, Jul 30 2014

       I'll actually go so far here as to agree that housing should be included in that standard, but that does not necessarily mean you get to live in a house. HousING includes houses, duplexes, multiplexes, apartments and even, maybe, studio apartments for single people. If you had a great job and were living in a huge house with an expensive mortgage or really high rent, then lose your job and decide to claim welfare benefits instead of finding another job, you should be required to move into less expensive accommodations to continue if you're still receiving welfare benefits after 6 months.
21 Quest, Jul 31 2014

       //if by that you are referring to the 2nd Spanish Republic// //Having visited a few of the more 'progressive'//

       I was thinking of the USSR (especially under Stalin) etc., single party states.

       Sorry, guilty of one of my own pet peeves, mixing the financial system with the political (voting) one in my thinking, at the least I wasn't being clear.

       I tend to think of communist & socialist as two different things, socialists are milder (in my mind) & usually exist within a multi-party electoral system rather than running a single party state.

       I can't (off the top of my head) think of any communist (rather than mildly socialist) party that's held power consistently for more than a handful of terms under a multi party electoral system?

       Try this alteration for size?

       //every attempt to date to implement them on a national scale (for any significant period (which appears (historically) to only be possible / happen in conjunction with a one party electoral system))//
Skewed, Jul 31 2014

       21, I could go for that housing proposal, but I'm a little concerned about what might happen to both the housing market and the low-rent locales which would accept this constant influx of welfare recipients as an unintended consequence.
RayfordSteele, Jul 31 2014

       //elections and swings back and forth do provide a bit of a buffer//

And thus, with an airy wave, modern European political history is dismissed as nought.

Skewed, apology accepted but I think it would be best if you just avoided making sweeping generalisations...unless you are making disparaging remarks about the French, that is.
DrBob, Jul 31 2014

       I think the effect on the poor neighborhoods would be positive. They would benefit from having large numbers of middle class types moving in, folks who generally mow their lawns and keep the place looking decent, generally don't bring pit bulls into the neighborhood (let's face it... Neighbors with those dogs depreciate nearby property values), and, because they will be fighting to get back what they lost are less prone to getting involved with drugs.

       What it would do to the housing market, I have no idea.
21 Quest, Jul 31 2014

       //best if you just avoided making sweeping generalisations...unless you are making disparaging remarks about the French//


       Much as I enjoy a little of that most popular* & ubiquitous of British** pastimes commonly referred to as 'French bashing'...

       Sadly I can no longer participate.

       As I've a cousin who married one (& her offspring of course (as a result of her matrimonial choices) are French), so my family now frowns on the activity, &, not wishing to pass on the occasional free Sunday lunch, I'm afraid I've acquiesced to their demands to abstain from derogatory remarks about the French :p

       * After cricket, football, tennis & one or two other sports of course.

       ** Or should that be English, do the Scots, Welsh & Irish participate too or is it just us?


       On the other stuff I tend to agree with [tc].

       Given the angle I'm coming from & all...

       The (relatively) moderate socialists you've mentioned are (for the most part) an entirely different kettle of fish to a full blown communist government, especially when operating within a multi-party system, which I think is his point (or part of it)?
Skewed, Jul 31 2014

       yes, there is a qualitative difference between the tug of war between the left and the right, and the dictatorship of the proletariat. But the expansion of the welfare state poses challenges, since people tend to vote for their own benefit -- entirely fair and expected, but ultimately, entirely unaffordable.
theircompetitor, Jul 31 2014

       //people tend to vote for their own benefit -- entirely fair and expected, but ultimately, entirely unaffordable//

       I think the problem probably stems from the low wage economy model we appear to be using...

       Which itself stems from globalisation & what they call the free market.

       To make our businesses competitive we allow low wages, but we're competing for sales (both at home & abroad) against countries with far lower standards of living for their unwashed masses (& consequently far lower wages (hence production costs)) than has come to be accepted as the norm in our own.

       So going by that route it would be silly not to expect wages & living standards to (ultimately) fall to meet the lowest common denominator.

       Of course your population (over 50% of who are effected low earners) kick & scream about their falling living standards so you give them more benefits (you have to, you're a democracy & that's over half your voters).

       Which of course have to be paid for by taxing the better off.

       So that (on a national level) completely negates the benefits of the extra sales to the better off who are making them.

       It's more circuitous but their paying just as much (as a group) for the labour to make the products as they were before (some now in extra taxes (for the extra benefits) rather than as direct wages).

       All the admin for the extra tax & benefits has to be paid for so that gets squeezed from both the top & bottom (in all likelihood mostly (but not entirely) the bottom), making everyone a little worse off.

       Of course some (individuals) benefiting from the extra sales may be (a lot) better off, because they have good tax lawyers & have 'gone offshore' so aren't effected by the raised taxation (much), besides which a large chunk of that extra tax has been diverted to the middle earners (hence their paying the rich & the corporations wages for them).

       All the while the government trumpets how well the economy is doing while everyone except a precious few at the top are actually worse off.


       In short it's nothing more than a con job / shell game...

       Someone out there is getting rich, I suggest you follow the money ;p
Skewed, Aug 01 2014

       //probably stems from the low wage economy model we appear to be using...//

       The problem with low wage economies is they need a large surplus labour pool to keep wages down.

       But the danger is (especially in a country with relatively high expectations of living standards) that your excess labour pool may not cooperate.

       If wages fall too low (& the bar (educational or other / to escape to a better job) is too high) increasing numbers will give up hope of a better life & settle for the benefits (which you have to have / see above)

       Which means they're no longer part of your excess labour pool (they're not looking for a job).

       So you have to bring in foreign workers to plump it up.

       Of course some of these foreign workers (not being complete idiots) will also recognise the inequity of being paid less than the cost of living and (when they figure it out) also give up.

       Some will just leave (unless home is much worse), but some will have been naturalised & remain (adding to your non-participants).

       So your number of non-participants increases & you have to bring more foreign workers to replace them.

       So you have a constant flow of incoming workers who (after a period of adjustment to your societal norms & cost of living) are converted into non-participants.

       Of course it's not sustainable [tc], how could it be?


       Of course non-participation is not always a conscious choice.

       Any depression or health issues (physical & mental) attributable to not having enough money to get by or working multiple jobs / more than 50 (more?) hours a week (etc.) must be included among them.


       So what I'm saying is the fault lies with the politicians who chose that model & those who petitioned for it, not the (average) voter following their own perceived (though not their real) best interest (their real best interest would be to disallow this economic model in the first place).

       If more economic theory was taught in schools the average voter might be a bit more intelligent about where their best interest really lies ;p
Skewed, Aug 01 2014

       //the fault lies with the politicians...&...not the (average) voter//

Well, that rather sums up the problem with western style democracy, doesn't it! The electorate have abandoned all responsibility for the people that they vote for.
DrBob, Aug 01 2014

       That's exactly right. I only blame the people who voted for Dubya the first time so much. The ones who did it again, however, deserve full blame for what he did during that second term.
21 Quest, Aug 01 2014

       //Well, that rather sums up the problem with western style democracy, doesn't it! The electorate have abandoned all responsibility for the people that they vote for//

       I rather think it's more the case they're ignorant of the facts & have been lied to (consistently) by self serving scumbags in office [Bob].

       Of course a lot of the self serving scumbags aren't self serving scumbags, there just incompetent, ignorant or (on occasion) just plain stupid.

       And there are a few in office who are actually competent, reasonably informed, fairly intelligent & not self serving scumbags (there's always a few exceptions to prove the rule after all).

       But the few seem to be pretty small in number & not exactly organised (as often as not they're in different parties), so they're largely irrelevant to the overall trend.

       In short... we're all doomed! ;)


       You've apparently no fault to find with the rest of it though I note (just the penultimate comment) so I take it you can't actually refute my thesis with any degree of plausibility?) ;p


       Is it (given your early comments (b4 I popped in)) that you agree with (at least some of) it & it's just the occasional sweeping generalisation in the presentation you have issue with?
Skewed, Aug 01 2014

       Well, 21, between Kerry and the twice elected Obama, looks like we're fixing that mistake. Right
theircompetitor, Aug 01 2014

       //You've apparently no fault to find with the rest of it though//

Well, only the words. Otherwise it's all fine.

For example...
//The problem with low wage economies is they need a large surplus labour pool to keep wages down.//

No, the problem with low wage economies is that they make most people poor, don't reward them fairly for the effort they put in and can undermine the morality of those people who want to be fair employers but will go out of business if they are.

Any system which turns people against each other in such a way, whether that be a dictatorship which encourages 'informants' & hauls people away in the middle of the night or an economy which forces people to work for less than a living wage in order to enrich others is morally wrong. I don't buy the argument that says that capitalism isn't perfect but it's better than <insert political/economic system here>. It's a cop out & you should strive for better.
DrBob, Aug 13 2014

       //Well, only the words. Otherwise it's all fine// etc...

       Nicely sarcastic, with a soupcon of acerbic ;)

       I would guess from the rest we're largely coming from the same direction, just have different vectors.

       I think appeals to self interest are the most productive (did say I was a cynic didn't I), so pointing out the very real damage to their own wealth is mine.
Skewed, Aug 19 2014


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