Society - Inequality vs. Equality - Page 9 - Myth-Weavers


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Society - Inequality vs. Equality

 
That is nice as a platitude, but when you start paying for Westborough Baptist congregation member X to have certain basic necessities and they instead divert that money to the Westborough Baptist church instead of buying those necessities, what do you do then? accept that the money you pay in taxes is paying for Phelp's campaign?

If they're diverting the money for basic necessities while obtaining those necessities from another source, that would be fraud.
If they're simply doing without those basic necessities in order to fund their curch organization, then I would recommend hospitalization.

How do you hospitalize someone who does not want to be hospitalized? Just because they are on public welfare and are (for example) malnourished doesn't mean they don't have rights. Maybe they find housing below what the projected cost fo housing is, or maybe they 'rent' a room from the church... the fact is that the government doesn't have the resources to make sure that the money they are giving people for living expenses are only going for living expenses.

FYI: to be clear- I do not personally object to welfare, but I think it is important to understand the viewpoint of people who do, which is essentially that their money os going to support things they object to such as drugs, some religious groups, etc. It's easier to say they should be more tollerant, but when you consider the same subject with groups you disapprove of, it is much harder to say we should just let it happen and it's not a big deal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by silveroak View Post
FYI: to be clear- I do not personally object to welfare, but I think it is important to understand the viewpoint of people who do, which is essentially that their money os going to support things they object to such as drugs, some religious groups, etc. It's easier to say they should be more tollerant, but when you consider the same subject with groups you disapprove of, it is much harder to say we should just let it happen and it's not a big deal.
I don't think this is as important as you think. Everybody, and I'm sure this is true - _everybody_ objects to some portion of the goverment's spending. Maybe you object to military spending, or oil subsidization, or welfare, or planned parenthood funding, or something else entirely. But that isn't important. The statement "I don't want _my_ money paying for _this_" is irrelevant; you're a citizen of <some country> which has decided that this spending makes the country a better place in some way or another.

Maybe you think that the government shouldn't be spending money on these things, which isn't irrelevant and is instead the subject of reasonable discussion. But the statement that _my_ money shouldn't go to these things is just a distraction. Everybody pays for things they don't want, but the millions of people in the country have come to a compromise that that's okay because everyone has different opinions which, in turn, makes the country a better place (for free!).

Cheers,
Kernal

As a totally irrelevant aside, this is a thread whose title wonders about financial inequality. Obviously some financial inequality is good - nobody argues that everybody should be guaranteed exactly equal shares of the GDP or whatever (that's more extreme than Communism!). Similarly nobody thinks that more inequality is always better - if the top 1% own 100% of the wealth, this is bad (and traditionally called "slavery").

Presumably there's some distribution which represents an optimal middle ground by some metric (overall quality of life, or economic growth, or innovation, or something else entirely). Is anybody familiar with sources which discuss this optimal distribution? That could be extremely interesting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kernal View Post
Presumably there's some distribution which represents an optimal middle ground by some metric (overall quality of life, or economic growth, or patents filed, or something else entirely). Is anybody familiar with sources which discuss this optimal distribution? That could be extremely interesting.
Ask a hundred people about their detailed idea of an optimal distribution, and you'll get 90 - 100 different answers. The answers vary by the social group the people belong to, their religious affiliation (or lack of it), their location, the dominant culture in the area, historical events, particular events in the past of each individual and so on.
Sources for the ideal distribution include most published political theorists, philosophers and political economists. Also governments (often through agencies and departments working for them), many national or global-reach NGOs, supranational groups such as the EU and the UN and their affiliates...
(as a side-note, check out what a lot of the political theorists, philosophers and economists in the past *actually* said. You'll find that the people who claim to be following their goals have conveniently ignored anything that they personally disagree with.)

I'm unsurprised that answers from non-experts are all over the map - I know that I have no data to support any response so my answer would be a pretty random guess.

I'm also not surprised that experts come up with different answers largely because different people would use different metrics due to different ordering of priorities. Also, it's clearly a difficult problem.

Because I know absolutely nothing about economics, can you suggest specific articles or authors discussing the problem?

Cheers,
Kernal

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kernal View Post
The statement "I don't want _my_ money paying for _this_" is irrelevant; you're a citizen of <some country> which has decided that this spending makes the country a better place in some way or another.
Yeah but people run the government. So opinions are important as well as interesting.

I would classify my thoughts on the matter as wanting the government to concentrate in two areas. 1) preventing fraud and waste, there is way too much welfare fraud out there that takes up too much taxpayer money that would be better spent in other areas or simply left in the hands of the taxpayers. 2) Not creating disincentives to work or work harder. The welfare reforms of the various states/USA in the 90's (led by Wisconsin! Go Badgers!) did a lot to improve this with gradual phaseouts as income improves, etc but there is still a lot of problems where people won't work past X hours per week for fear of losing benefits, etc. People should never be put into the position of having to make a correct decision that punishes them. My sister out of a fresh divorce and going to school gets a few benefits and is in the position of picking up extra hours at work when asked leads to losing government benefits her and my nephews need like our State run healthcare, BadgerCare which is only available in certain incomes which I'm pretty sure for some stupid reason means if she takes all the hours available in busy months she'd lose it and in slow months she'd be eligible again. Reasonable people obviously see solutions here in averaging it out better, etc but we're talking a government program so they're full of stupid crap like that.

I'm going more off my personal experience than in an in depth study of the issue. And my personal experience and anecdotes are mostly Wisconsin's system which while good has lots of room to improve.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kernal View Post
I'm unsurprised that answers from non-experts are all over the map - I know that I have no data to support any response so my answer would be a pretty random guess.

I'm also not surprised that experts come up with different answers largely because different people would use different metrics due to different ordering of priorities. Also, it's clearly a difficult problem.

Because I know absolutely nothing about economics, can you suggest specific articles or authors discussing the problem?

Cheers,
Kernal
Start with OECD studies, Robert Putnam, Robert Nozick, Adam Smith (classic), and, if you're masochistic, Amartya Sen.
Bone up on the Gini coefficient, and read some studies based on that (how low an inequality level is too low, and how high is too high). A large part of the problem, as you point out, is about differing priorities, and a lot of that is cultural and historical.
That's why there is no perfect solution, and also why you have to look at philosophy and politics as well as just economics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Ben View Post
Yeah but people run the government. So opinions are important as well as interesting.
I think you misunderstand me; probably because my earlier statement wasn't particularly clear.

I'm not trying to suggest that people shouldn't care or have input about where government funds are being spent. That is absolutely a citizen's right. In fact it is equally the right of citizens who pay large sums in taxes as it is of citizens who pay no net taxes at all. That is your right as a citizen; it is not your right as a person who once-upon-a-time owned said money.

-Kernal

And as I stated, my position is that one should strive to understand everyone's position. And frankly looking down your nose at someone else because they pay more taxes is not what I would consider a productive outlook.
Certainly there are many people who believe representation should be proportionate to taxation- the more one pays in taxes the more say they should have in government. Again, not my position, but from that perspective the current government is in essence a kleptocracy. Before we can even realistically talk about fair economic distribution we have to be able to generate concensus instead of division.








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