Entitlements – a difficult debate.

Posted: 24th July 2010 by Khannea Suntzu in Uncategorized
Infect Teh Interwebs

My sweet friend Serendipity wrote this in comments regarding an earlier article:

A right to a decent standard of living? To be provided by whom? By those who created enough value that they received enough value in return for to not need such a guarantee? By forcing those others who are the current producers and innovators to carry everyone else? Do you think you get more of the very innovation that brings us to a better future by doing this? The countries with such entitlement countries are all struggling economically right now. In many of them the entitlements are the largest part of the budget (including the US). Never mind the unfunded future liabilities for these entitlements. At a time when every worker in the US is $140,000 in debt already as their “fair share” of the officially counted debt (never mind the 5x unfounded and not officially reported liabilities) just where in the hell it would create do you think the money will magically come from to do what you suggest?

and

Schemes like BIG also seem to assume that people are owned by the “society” or the state and that parts of their life and labor can be demanded by “society” at any time it wish and in any amount that it wishes. Let me say what the problem is with this. YOU DON’T OWN ME. I am not your property. Not yours personally nor any number of people bundled together and called “society”.


My reply merits a new article
Serendipity, my love, If we continue this debate sooner or later you have to in full acknowledge all my arguments and not handpick them as you find suitable.

Currently the US provides a range of unemployment benefits which is comparatively low by western standards. Best states are NY and Cal, at just over 400 a month. In my country, wellfare is about 800 euro, by comparison double that amount. However do not for a second assume I ‘gloat’ over this societal sacrifice. It’s a travesty.

(quote: Put simply, we find that countries that spend a
greater proportion of GDP on welfare have lower
imprisonment rates and that this relationship
has become stronger over the last 15 years. The
consistency in these findings across the United
States and the other 17 countries studied makes
it difficult to believe that this relationship is
simply accidental or coincidental.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CBcQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.crimeandjustice.org.uk%2Fopus303%2FWelfare_and_Punishment_webversion.pdf&rct=j&q=link%20between%20low%20welfare%20and%20imprisonment%20rate&ei=HLNKTNmeN5rT4waSvdCaDA&usg=AFQjCNEA5pb20I-u5vW9-H_WnS2xL5iTkQ&sig2=qmgSYpPNUSLNyJNJkD6YYQ )

It can be argued [countries like] the US (and to some extent mine) don’t pay this fortune out of any charity, but by and large to avoid trouble – in essence paying (whatever form of) welfare is in effect an insurance investment reducing both crime *and* desperation votes.

I’d go as far as label wellfare in the current paradigm to be a “Guillotine Insurance”.

In effect, if voters become more desperate they are more likely to start voting more populist and more leftist and this would have an adverse effect on business and economics far more insidious than the moderate sacrifice in money represented by what you disparagingly label ‘entitlements’. The rationale stems back to a historical era of severe societal unrest which you clearly exhibit a problem visualising. The extremes of societal unrests have a habit of getting people killed, and I need only raise the vision of revolutionary uprisings to illustrate my point. If you lock out a big segment of society from reaping the benefits of said society, the ‘underclass’ (or proletariat if you will) will eventually rize up and kill. Worse, long before it has, it will have caused severe, almost incapacitating societal drag in terms of corruption, crime and despair.

People who are locked out eventually become a far FAR greater drag on society than any wellfare ‘entitlement’ might ever constitute. Even if you don’t feel a shred of human empathy for the ‘losers’ of our collective systems, you should at the very least have a good hard look in the mirror and ask yourself where you’d be if you walked a mile in their shoes, and what you’d end up costing society if you had ‘to do whatever it takes’. I know you are at least as stubborn as I am, but can’t you see the practical mechanics at work here?

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CCcQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.surveillance-and-society.org%2Farticles5(3)%2Feditorial.pdf&rct=j&q=surveillance%20society%20income%20disparity&ei=7atKTIXnEuWM4gaWh6GaDA&usg=AFQjCNGLincv0yHbQrBPCw3sIsdn7CbhVg&sig2=HE1n-MagMJSHeQ4MYf_IJg

My position is very clear on the matter – societal inclusion is a ‘collectivist’ investment a society can not avoid making at its own peril. If an excluded underclass of the ‘opportunity challenged’ are not fed, protected, housed, medically cared for (or even entertained), they will funnel discontent in a manner that will cost you far more (and worse) than an equivalent entitlement program in safety nets would cost.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incarceration_in_the_United_States

(* note: the average cost of a prison inmate is *claimed to be* lowest in florida at 20.000 a year: http://www.dc.state.fl.us/pub/statsbrief/cost.html. The real cost is far higher: http://www.ehow.com/about_5409377_average-cost-house-inmates-prison.html.)

It is severely distressing to me that whereas my position has evolved into solid arguments in the last year, you keep completely effectively ignoring this whole ‘entitlement sustainability’ argument, and keep hammering at the entitlements sacrifice.

In fact this line of argumentation has been proven to be total bunk

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6W5H-4F01824-1&_user=10&_coverDate=02%2F28%2F2005&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1410269360&_rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=31f19118083e0781f75ec397d0e533b9

I *do* agree with you that the current system is broken beyond repair.

The problem is largely ‘voter recalcitrance’ on either side of the political spectrum. The left wingers can’t afford to relinquish control of what you’d term ‘collectivist feeding troughs’ and the rightwingers seem recalcitrant to make any other consideration other than an antiquated conception of personal responsibility and protestant work ethics.

The two positions cannot in the current system be resolved. It’s a political stalemate. In our society many people have to work real hard, and most somewhat more right-wing oriented voters who ‘have the pride to make a decent life for themselves’ (and might subscribe to whats colloquially referred to as ‘producerist’ attitudes) are intolerant of giving out what they term ‘free cash’. This segment of the voter base does not ascribe to the idea of ‘humane values’ or ‘pity’ and feels contempt for those that do not or can not find employment.

Fact of the matter is however we live in a democracy. The reality on the ground IS that exclusion translates one on one into a democratic electorate voting for more handouts *AS SOON AS they don’t make do*. This is starting to happen increasingly even in the US, despite epic ‘establishment’ efforts to marginalize or intimidate the already marginalized. Democracy was instituted to give the marginalized a voice and if you resent them using this voice to tax your ass blue, well then boohoo – there are many nations with lower tax rates where you can migrate.

You have yet to respond to this argument itself and you have yet to offer a viable and credible conceptual alternative.

You know my alternative – *start out* by giving *everyone* (including you) in any specific state entity an inalienable basic income of *LESS THAN* the current welfare amounts. *And then* have people vote every goddamn election whether or not they want this amount to go up or down. You win, either way. Why? Well, here is why :

0 – Basic Income is now democratized. You are still in favor of democry right? Well, now you get to enjoy both the benefits and costs almost seamlessly. Feel free to vote and actively for LOWER BASIC INCOME continuously.

1 – You can now open borders and give economic immigrants *NO BI*, and immigrants are free to come in as long as they behave, register, renew their residence visa every month. Your society will gain massive tax benefits by exploiting low wage workers in this manner – in effect you are saying to economic migrants ‘you are welcome, but you don’t get any handout, and we WILL tax you for the pleasure of working here’. Hell if you are a royal asshole you can even destroy minimum wage for immigrants (while still taxing them) and keep it in existence for citizens.

2 – you silence right wing populists as now they “underbelly people” get the same entitlement money as do the ‘freeloaders’, whereas immigrants will end up paying THEIR BI cheques. Everybody wins (except of course rosita who will do your laundry at 2.10 $ an hour).

3 – Right now, if people are ‘unable to get a job’ (real or lazy or pretend is irrelevant) this system would institute a blanket buffer. Right now people can’t afford to lose welfare. So what do they do? They don’t look. However by basic income they would look for part time jobs. This would make labor markets a LOT more flexible in terms of flexible work hours.

4 – if people need study to get other employment you create a financial buffer to allow them to do so. They can take a part time job with some measure of confidence they will be able to survive (of which they have zero guarantee right now) while they study and retrain.

5 – you save as a society a FORTUNE on not having to check every single wellfare recipient over and over to see if he’s secretly working (or panhandling) next to their welfare.

Simply allow everyone to work next to receiving BI (and rent control, a disability bonus, if applicable, and collectivist medical care). YES you would pay taxes for this.

There are other benefits listed here:

http://www.bostonreview.net/BR25.5/vanparijs.html

Serendipity, I understand and empathize with your position and arguments, and yes they are valid. Yes taxation is an invasive societal consequence and it is often a waste, since the state can be argued to spend this money incompetently. But the time has come for you to start affirming that there are severe consequences for societal exclusion that cannot be addressed by merely offering the losers of society ‘free euthanasia’. You live in a country suffering massive benefits of pooling some of the available resources through levvied taxation. the sun and rain fall on everybody, and you travel roads implemented by the collective. My strong suggestion is that you should stop blindly resisting these invasive redistributive measures (in the same manner as you should stop complaining about the weather) but instead joined the debate on how to fix things. Maybe you can instead of blindly lashing about against entitlement programs address government inefficiency? Maybe you could do a scientific analysis of what spectrum of social services would cost least, served to satisfy the respective clients most, reduced criminal activities and increased individual productivity most? Please let’s get out of the trenches and build a better society not based on endless prejudice and kneejerk hostility towards people with less fortune backgrounds, but maybe you could make robust suggestions on managing society as to make it all a bit more civilized.

* http://www.thelightsinthetunnel.com/
* http://www.marshallbrain.com/robotic-nation.htm
* http://www.marshallbrain.com/robots-in-2015.htm
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Producerism
* http://www.articlesbase.com/environment-articles/unemployment-problem-952277.html
* http://www.statemaster.com/graph/eco_wel_cas_tot_rec_percap-caseloads-total-recipients-per-capita
* http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2004/01/understanding-poverty-in-america
* http://www.politicususa.com/en/gop-demonize-unemployed
* http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1240348/Suicidal-despair-1-3-young-jobless-Tragic-human-cost-recession-revealed.html
* http://econpapers.repec.org/paper/eslilrdps/031.htm
* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yr4wzrOpn6I&feature=PlayList&p=F819FABAF723EA14&playnext=1&index=2
* http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/learn-how-to-invest/The-real-unemployment-rate.aspx?f=255&MSPPError=-2147217396
* http://www.dailyfinance.com/story/careers/what-is-the-real-unemployment-rate/19556146/
* http://employeeissues.com/unemployment_benefits.htm
* http://www.jstor.org/pss/30025993

“This paper examines the tradeoffs inherent in guaranteed income proposals. Its perspective is international, using the Luxembourg Income Study and asking whether economic efficiency suffers when governments make greater efforts to protect the poor. Using two different measures of productivity growth, we find no big tradeoff between equity and efficiency. That is, during those times and in those countries where greater efforts were made to protect the incomes of the poor, productivity growth does not seem to be affected very much. This gives some hope that efficiency concerns are not a fatal objection to guaranteed income plans.”

Update
* Moral Event Horizon
*

  1. I understand the arguments of both sides. Serendipity makes a lot of sense… and yet I still think that a world with basic income for all, no strings attached, would be a better place.

    I try not to be a fundamentalist, so I think it should be perfectly possible to find a workable compromise between libertarianism and BIG. We have not found it yet, but I think this just means that we should try harder.

    • Khannea Suntzu says:

      The transhuman-libertarian conclusion is very simple:

      In a couple of years, no more than 15, the granularity of robotization will start eating jobs faster and faster. By then the arguments of serendipity will be dead in the water – a rapidly diminishing slice of people will be able to generate an appreciable income. Large numbers of people having less money means producers being stuck with their shit. Nobody will be buying. Big corporate capitalism will grind to a standstill if nobody is buying. That would be very bad and it beckons a solution.

      Plus in the transitional period from oil to something ‘sustainable’ (and that is not meant environmentally) costs of material based goods will go down (due to constraints of minerals and energy) whereas production and operation costs if anything internet and computational will go down. Thus, people in 2025-2035 will be living mostly like me. There will be a period with increasing work in care for the elderly, but that trajectory is even less sustainable and the market pressures on generating a solution (which will either be a variant of age-based euthanasia OR merit-based life extension – be a nice person and you go down in the waiting lists) will be increasingly more acute for the political system. Even a hyper-modern society cant function if half of all people is old and tired and over 65. It just grinds to a standstill for psycho-geriatric reasons.

      Nevertheless I have great hopes for this. Above developments surgically dismantle the features of current society I hold in contempt.

      The only way to pay for this is international treaties taxing the kind of commodities that are linked to income based consumption. An example would be a type of tax used to use roads – and not a tax rate – but a taxing system based on the money you have. Hence, someone with no money is taxed a low tax (since he or she doesn’t have money to tax) however someone with assets is taxed a higher rate.

      One such tax would also be meritocratic – the right to procreate. I fully anticipate that very soon – 20 years at most, we’ll see in vitro births of largely genetically upgraded people become a viable option. This will escalate very swiftly, because society can no longer afford to have women for half a year out of the system, nor have women postpone childbirth well into their late 30s. Giving birth in certain areas with a population decline will be low or not taxed if you are young, and taxed (higher) if you engage in behavior that has a certain societal cost, say as risking giving birth to a child with genes for potentially low IQ.

      The point of this is democratic pressure – as people find they won’t get a job, the validation idea of a job as a way to ‘deserve’ to exist (especially for categories of people held in wider contempt – such as colored people) will end. People will be very upset about all this, but I regard it as largely unavoidable that every year after 2010 (and possible after 2000) inalienable unemployment levels have gone up by 2-3% per year. Right now real unemployment (or non-employment) in the US is between 15 and 20%, official numbers nothwithstanding. Most these people will never work again in their lives. Many simply won’t bother.

      By 2035 this employment distruction will trickle to a stable level. I think by 2040 and after about 20-30% ablebodied people will be left umployable. More than 75% will never have a paid job after that.

      It is impossible to expect of modern, pluriform and democratic society to expect these people to just sit around and ‘figure out a solution themselves’ (== please die expediently and stop bothering us!!)

      At some point they’ll get the message and organize, lobby and vote. Serendipity will experience this as ‘these ingrates riding up like a filthy mob to steal her property’, and she’ll be totally correct. However this won’t happen in the traditional sense – the new taxes will be by means of utility consumption taxes – higher water costs, use of roads, use of media and information, fresh air, etcetera. This will generate economic margins (call it money if you prefer) that will be used to keep the *cough* excluded voters literally alive, placid and sane.

      And no you know what I mean with ‘excluded’.

      We’ll all be a bit poorer between 2015 and 2030. It will be a difficult transitional period and it will get especially bad in the third world where the same constraints will cause starvation and the same solution are impossible to realize. By 2020 africa will be out of bush meat and the dying will start there. By 2025 the oceans will be empty and the dying will start most anywhere else. And the west will by then have perfected the use of drones, and the west will ruthlessly kill the immigration tsunami’s that be the logical result.

      I expect things will lighten up considerably after 2030, if we survive that long. Nano and life extension and basic income and space industries and robotization will increase real economic growth even in hyper-consolidated regions such we japan and western europe by several %, if not more.

  2. Khannea Suntzu says:

    My love and concerns are with you in this painful time of transition.

  3. Serendipity Seraph says:

    Do you think I should trust these studies? Which ones should we trust? The ones that support your position or mine? There are more of the former than the latter. Does that mean we safely trust those? The vast majority of economists said repeatedly that there was no danger of a housing implosion or a major economic downturn just a few years ago. So forgive me if I am not impressed with such studies and do not take the time to read them in detail now. I follow the Austiran economic thinkers. Their notions and predictions seem much truer to what actually happens to me and make a good deal more sense. That is not the popular or most numerous position on these things. Generally speaking I am less impressed with quoting others than with a sound argument we can make and explore for ourselves.

    Money given to the poor is generally spent on consumption level goods. Little of it goes to accumulation of capital in savings or to investment or to creating new businesses. Most is spent at survival and entertainment level. So you take money from areas where it may be used with more effect to produce more jobs and money and move it to those areas congruent with these needs. So you get more relatively low level consumer goods, cheap food, entertainment devices, recreational drugs and so on. Much of the goods outsourced to the lowest cost producers which you seem to abhor. I don’t see how this is terribly helpful to an economy. It certainly is not in terms of maximum positive output per dollar spent.

    Besides, the strong arguments against this redistribution are ethical and that the world economies are imploding with such expenditures accounting for a very large and growing part of the unsustainable spending and debt. Studies that say it is all ok aren’t very impressive in the face of that just as all those studies of yesteryear claiming debt is wealth or that home prices would appreciate indefinitely aren’t worth a lot of consideration now.

    Khannea, you are brilliant and massively creative. Yes, you are erratic and have tons of health and other issues on your plate as well. But with the right partner/manager/marketing behind your talents I am 95% certain that that you could generate that 950 euros not every month but every week with not much sweat. In some of the bursts I have seen you do, that much in a day is not at all out of the question. It would help a lot if you can find/stomach ways to create once and sell many times. But I digress and I imagine you know this anyway.

    I got your base argument and I disagree. Populations left to their own devices but with the relative freedom to do whatever they wish and keep the proceeds produced more wealth than was dreamed of for/by the majority of people a mere few hundred years ago. It was not the welfare states that came and went that were responsible. It was relative economic freedom.

    The lives of the poor have been ruined – by being treated as if they are second class and must be supported by redistribution; by being treated as if they are perpetual victims; by being taught to take the attitude of being unable to take care of their own needs in order to continue to qualify to be taken care of. Empathy? Empathy or feeling with is empty unless it effectively makes thing actually better. What we are doing now in mary respects does not.

    I don’t agree that the economic system guarantees a certain number can never be employed IFF you remove the huge cost of entitlement programs and very pricey and arguably counter-productive types of regulation from around the economies neck and IFF you strongly separate politics/government from the economy. At least I am convinced that that is the closest you will ever come to the most people having the best lives. Isn’t that what empathy is about when it is effective?

    If the day comes that I have no means of caring for myself or raising funds to do so and no one else choses (not is forced) to help me then I will likely die. So what? Is that a tragedy or simply reality? Does forcing some people at gunpoint really change reality? Or does it only add injustice, force and oppression on top of the situation?

    I am very glad we agree that forced inclusion doesn’t work. It is a bizarre type of “insurance” to effectively pay the faceless mob to not come and burn you down. That is more of a protection racket. As you agree it does not produce more inclusion, more actual being whole and engaged. Insurance and aspirin are not entitlements. Nice bait and switch though. 🙂

    Actually there is no way whatsoever to raise the amount needed to fully pay for current entitlements in taxes in the US or anywhere else. That is the conundrum at the end of the line of promising ever more entitlements to be somehow brought into reality with no idea of how and creative financing and approved money shenanigans including legalized counterfeiting to temporarily make it look as if it could work. It cannot work in a sustainable manner. Guaranteed. The history of at least the last three hundred year is full of failed experiments to make it work. But we try it again and again. This time we may have tried it too broadly for much too long. Short one or two economic/energy/uber-tech miracles I am not at all sure we can pull out of this one. Greece is only the tip of the problem. Look at Spain, Portugal, Ireland. Trace out which countries they owe huge amounts to in the EU and what the effect of those eventual defaults will be. Watch Britain as it continues to devolve.

    Lets examine the BIG or BI for a sec. Let suppose there are roughly 200 million adults in the US to receive BI. We will pick a modest amount that is not particularly livable of $10,000 / year. That is less than 1/3 of US poverty level officially. Doing the math that is an additional $2 trillion – somewhat more than every penny federal income tax brings in. It will not replace a lot of the entitlements today. It will largely be added to them. It may replace a subpart of direct welfare payments but at a cost of putting everyone on it. Think you can increase US top level tax rate to 65% or higher, the rate that anyone making much more than $100,000 / yr as individual will pay? Then you just tossed all those people, who before could invest or create new startups and so on into near the poverty line pool in effective economic leverage. You just took out most of the middle class in disposable income. One of the reason tax receipts go down is economic damage reducing the number of jobs and the amount of income/wealth produced. There is a point of diminishing returns much close than the amount needed to fund such economic fantasies as BI.

    The real estate bubble was created by such “good intentions”. The politicians decreed that more families should own their own home. They decreed that banks must significantly liberalize their lending policies and that credit must be dirt cheap. When the banks balked they were told (US) that Fannie would buy up the paper as soon as they wrote it and get it off their books. And several restrictions were lifted to enable banks to chase higher profits with higher leverage to sweeten the deal. The financial whiz kids came up with ways to package these somewhat smelly mortgages to perhaps spread the risks or make it difficult to tell what the risk was. Most of the fancy paper forms were issued by guess what entity? Fannie Mae. Other largely government controlled or controllable entities, the ratings agencies, gave much of this paper an AAA rating. The banks, ever on the look out for a good deal with implicit government backing and many many other institutions including insurance funds and pension funds jumped on board. But note it was created politically and sold to “help the little guy”.

    Middle to high incomes do not massively evade taxes. To top 1% in the US pays over 40% of the taxes collected. The entire economic base is harding and you can’t tax what was not experienced as income. You can’t take what has not been produced. To say that you just need to squeeze harder to make the unethical extremely damaging schemes work is beyond merely wrong. It is evil. It lies by not noticing the real source of the short falls – the source in the very programs and the power and oppression needed to enforce them that it advocates.

    If welfare in Greece is lower than in most of Europe then I feel very sorry for Europe. It is in for hell.

    Do you know how hard it actually is to find skilled people to hire? Do you know how much red costly tape and how much over budge on the mere wage you have to go to hire someone in the US? The common heuristic is that you can’t afford to hire someone unless you are convinced they will bring at least 5x their salary worth of new cash-flow to the company.

    I am glad you see that the red tape endemic to the welfare state is crippling you personally. But you do not need me or anyone else to give you the chance to reenter the labor market. Look at it this way. If I am right about the economic situation your 900 or so euros a month will one day soon (say next few years max) be cut in half or disappear altogether. Count on it. Is that an incentive or does it only terrify you?

    Socialism is a cultural legacy of the US. We have been slowly brought to a boil in it for the last century. The heat went up tremendously around the Great Depression and again with the “Great Society” programs and again with the “Drug War” and still again with this “Recession”. At each point the power of the state over the entire economy has increased drastically. Now the government effectively has the power to nationalize whatever industries and concerns it pleases. How the hell are we not socialist?

    People vote in politicians that say they will fix their problems without it being so obvious a lie that it penetrates their purposefully addled brains. Even with that many people in the US are starting to disbelieve the collective illusion and the official story. Oh, they mostly will wander around in confusion happily accepting some other nonsense to believe in place of the old. The actual truth is hard to find and much much harder to convince others of.

    A land of freedom where I can just agree to disagree and go on my own way in peace to produce whatever I can and have it me mine and live my life unmolested by the state is largely gone. I know that. Getting beyond the pain and rage of it is not so easy. Getting and keeping what freedom I can isn’t either. It is the only way I really care to live.

    If the only choice is to immolate myself and any others that can still somehow produce in order to support the needs and the inflated political claimed needs of the 10-30% that you say cannot exist without it, do you expect that to lead to an increase of empathy or to learning to grow a stone heart? If it is my freedom or their welfare checks then what would you advise out of caring about me that I do?

    Claiming that I would have been excluded without the welfare state is utter nonsense. I made it without one bit of welfare across all of it. Yes there were those that wanted to exclude me. When I opened my mouth and they saw what I could do for them they paid me anyway. Medical and societal attitudes change by people standing up as people and demanding equality under the law that is their basic human right – not an entitlement. It is beneath the quality of your argument and intellect to conflate that with unlimited democracy or the welfare state.

    If you are not free to live your life as you see fit without violating the rights of others to do the same then you simply are not free. If you are not free to produce whatever values you produce and trade them for the values other produce without coercion then you are not free. If you accept that the latter is to be taken from you in part then you accept the principle that you have no right to freedom at all but only to what the state allows you to have. That is not freedom. It is its opposite.

    If the 10-30% (in the US it is said that nearly 50% are net takers of the burgeoning socialist system) are a dangerous horde that I must give away freedom and pieces of my life and ever larger ones to appease then I say “To hell with them!” I have personally, especially when you include paying the bills of the ex-family that disowned me, paid nearly half a million into the care of others before you even count all the takings by the state. I have taken in and taken care of many a friend temporarily or longer term over the years. I am by my nature generous. But if the horde literally comes for what remains then I will pick up a gun and blow as many of them personally to hell as I can before I am overwhelmed.

    Your argument is having the reverse effect of what you might have intended.

    I don’t think we need neo-eugenics. Just the utter freedom to make it or not on each one’s own merits. Either the parents can afford their children and their care or not. Let each rise or fall on their own with whatever help from others they voluntarily give. No coercion. Eugenics presumes we know enough to predict which genetic heritages will succeed and which not. That is a rather tenuous proposition even today. IQ itself is thought to be only about half genetic and the rest environmental, especially in the 1st year or two. It is very difficult to predict the wild talents than rise out of seemingly unpromising stock. It is not wise at all to have some panel of purported experts decide who should breed and who should not. I myself came from “‘po white trash”. OK, we weren’t trash but rather unimaginative salt of the earth lower (quite low actually) middle class anti-intellectual peasant stock.

    Losers, failures to make it, are inevitable in reality. Reality makes no guarantees of success in anything at all. Even when starting from incredible base riches and tools and opportunities. So why is it our job to make it so everyone makes it? Where does that come from?

    I think we are in agreement on a lot of things. I don’t believe in most of the military adventures of the US, or in its massive intelligence build out against everyone especially including US citizens. I certainly don’t believe at all in any sort of limitations on what any consenting adult can put in his/her own body or make for others that may want to put it in their own body. If it was up to me and I was some benevolent dictator for a year I would wipe about 90% of government as we know it out of existence as fast as could be done without the system totally imploding. I would repudiate all the multi-generation BS paper debt load effectively declaring most governments bankrupt and selling off the assets they have hoarded. Then I would create a new fixed supply world wide currency. All “too big to fail institutions” that were a hopeless mess would crumble to make way for something sound in their place.

    Since that is not going to happen (and I would not be a happy camper if I did have the entire system on my shoulders) I will eke by as best I can and hopefully find a group of others and enough money and resources between us to build out our own alternative as a seastead, defensible territory, or eventually get off this rock. The chances of success are small but I am not willing to just give up yet.

  4. Serendipity Seraph says:

    I am pretty sure I have done justice to your full arguments at one point or another as we have been back and forth over this area for a while now.

    By unemployment do you mean actual UI or welfare? It is unclear as both appear in the same sentence. They are not the same thing in the US at all. Top UI is around $480 / wk. Welfare total for a family of four is around $30,000/yr in total. It is not important at all which state pays more if the very principal behind welfare is ethically challenged and it ruins economies over time. There is also evidence that it tends to hook people in such a way that getting off welfare takes more of a leap than staying on it.

    Imprisonment has nothing per se to do with the issue. The US has a ridiculous imprisonment rate which is a separate and very serious and utterly reprehensible issue. It hasn’t a damn thing to do with not handing out enough goodies though.

    Your first argument is that unless we take this money from some and give it to others they will make too much trouble – basically an argument from fear. I don’t buy that as a ethical argument. Do you think they will make less trouble if the idea is pervasive that to be born is to be owed a living to be provided, at gunpoint if necessary, by others?

    Entitlements is precisely what these programs are. Let us not mince words. You then immediately claim that the poor are excluded. This is a empty unsupported claim in this screed. If you examine the actual people who are poor you see people leave relative poverty and others enter. It is a temporary condition or was until welfare institutionalized multigenerational poverty. I don’t see why anyone needs more “inclusion” than having the right to offer whatever they can to anyone who cares to purchase it whether that be labor, creations or whatever. I don’t see why more inclusion that equality in freedom under law is needed. That is inclusive.

    Entitlements are not sustainable. Check the budget numbers. Current entitlements are the biggest item even in the US. The unfunded entitlements are even more huge. You keep ignoring this and calling for more entitlements. From where? Even in Europe the writing is on the wall that the current entitlement programs are not economically sustainable. Did you miss those rumblings out of the G20? Did you miss the cuts in Greece? Yes there is unrest afterwards as people have been fed the notion that they are owed a living for a while now. But it it was either unrest or go belly up and possibly take the EU with it by the time the repercussions played out.

    There is no money to continue these schemes even if you did ever successfully address the very real ethical problems with these programs. Denigrating the problems as “protestant work ethic” will not do. Personal responsibility for your own life is the very heart of personal freedom. They support one another. Take away one and watch the other crumble.

    People like me are “intolerant” of having any part of our lives claimed as the property of anonymous others and taken from us by force. I think that is a pretty damn healthy attitude. I have huge empathy and pity but I will express it the way I choose not the way some politician backed up by force decides is politic to keep the politician in office further fleecing the country.

    There is no “exclusion” except the exclusion of the rights of the productive class from consideration if taking from them will buy the politicians more votes. I agree 100% that in a democracy the people will vote for more and more handouts until the system breaks. Tocqueville and many others pointed this out. But the US was not designed to be a democracy in that sense but to be a Republic where the rights of individuals were never run over by the state regardless of the size of any majority vote. Our constitution was not sufficient and/or our diligence was not enough to keep that republic. But an unlimited democracy is a travesty on human rights and freedom not its champion.

    That some are robbed more than others and some receive more unearned or involuntarily “donated” benefits than others does not make the ethical wrong any less.

    You keep claiming “exclusion” and “marginalization” and other victim mentality BS. I grew up poor. I lived on the streets a while. I wasn’t excluded or marginalized. I simply didn’t understand how the world worked and thought the world owed me a living. It took a while before I realized that those others I expected to provide it and even felt superior to or like they owed it to me, were people just like me. It took a while to understand my hypocrisy. No, it wasn’t that easy getting off the street. But no one was purposefully keeping me there.

    I don’t feel contempt for anyone who can’t find employment. Nor do I feel that it is my duty to support as many of them as possible to the point where I myself am “between jobs” I have little to fall back on. I have supported many people in my life by my own voluntary choice. So don’t lecture me about not caring.

    Democracy was instituted to give everyone a voice in the government in theory – not to be the voice for the “marginalized”. That is the language of the rotten socialist political theory that has its hooks into you. Examine it deeply and I think you will see a not very agreeable underbelly.

    The alternative is only one. Real freedom that includes everyone. This means the freedom to make your own choices and find your own way and keep your successes. It means the freedom to help one another when and how you choose to without any politician middle men getting fat pretending to care about the poor while raping the country and our future. Is it perfect? Does it guarantee everyone makes it? No. Neither do the entitlements. They are not remotely sustainable and we are fast coming to that bill coming fully due. We cannot pay it.

    Do the freaking math. There is no way your program can be funded. None, zero, zip. Even if it was remotely ethical. Where does this “basic income” come from? Only two places. Either it is taken out of the production of the economy – that is taken from relative producers by force. Or the government just borrows and borrows or runs the printing presses. I am pretty sure that you know the second is the path to ruin. It is the path that we have been walking in most western countries for a long time now. Ruin – dead ahead.

    So what you propose is both unethical and impossible economically. Great job at empathy and practical solutions! Perhaps you should run for office.

    The world is about to go belly up economically. I don’t need fancy studies to notice that fact. It is getting pretty obvious. And yet as it gets worse precisely in large part because of the entitlement programs and the more and more invasive, expensive and corrupt government to enforce the takings necessary for them, you and others cry for ever more and more universal entitlements to “fix” it. And you say that I am not facing reality.

    • Khannea Suntzu says:

      By unemployment do you mean actual UI or welfare? It is unclear as both appear in the same sentence. They are not the same thing in the US at all. Top UI is around $480 / wk. Welfare total for a family of four is around $30,000/yr in total. It is not important at all which state pays more if the very principal behind welfare is ethically challenged and it ruins economies over time. There is also evidence that it tends to hook people in such a way that getting off welfare takes more of a leap than staying on it.

      I quoted you a study above that clearly shows there is very little effect on the over-all economy caused by wel-fare based income redistribution – of any kind.

      * General Equilibrium
      * Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare
      * ISEW

      Another consideration is that any money spend in this manner is reintroduced into the economy and used to purchase mass-production goods (and hence spent less on exclusive luxury items). The more massproduction goods are bought, the more efficiency is stimulated. This is in essence good for ‘the economy’. I state that if you are worried about ‘the economy’, income redistribution should not be a concern, plain and simple. If you are however worried about your economy, due to taxation, you have a valid concern. If you are worried the current welfare system fosters passivity, then you have a valid point. It does in my case. I am less active because I receive disability benefits. However the question remains that if I would not receive disability benefits how I would be more active, and whether or not I would be able to generate the same monetary value as I do receive now. I personally cannot imagine generating the current 950 euro I receive in ‘wajong’ disability each and every month. As a consequence I would be pushed into ‘cutting corners’, which might well spiral into criminal activity. Or, I might become homeless, be uninsured, go routinely unfed. The consequences for me would be most acute and might eventually result in medical consequences that would require me to become hospitalized, or worse, literally die. In the current situation, in the netherlands, I cost society about 15.000 euro per year, all of which is reintroduced into the economy in consumption. And in the current state it may be argued I am actually pretty constructive.

      But I also assume that in many respect I am an exception to the rule.

      So there you have the base argument – welfare saves society money. Tax levvied in frustrating taxes, when not spent on various kinds of arguably necessary welfare, would cause modes of desperation that in effect would cause modern society to degrade into the equivalent of third world situations.

      Imprisonment has nothing per se to do with the issue. The US has a ridiculous imprisonment rate which is a separate and very serious and utterly reprehensible issue. It hasn’t a damn thing to do with not handing out enough goodies though.

      I assert again that there is a feedback mechanism where societal exclusion (and envy), income disparity, desperation will causally lead to people being propelled towards crime. I assert that certain expenditures of ‘welfare’ or ‘livelyhood guarantees’ will reduce crime. I assert potential crime rates that would emerge if ‘income guarantees’ were eliminated would cost in many times excess of the redistributive measures themselves. And I am not talking of the human misery – you may not give a flying hoot about misery – but I guarantee you you will notice and care about (and you already do) the consequences of large sections of the population being left to their own devices.

      I agree there are smarter ways to redistribute. I agree the current system is pretty awful, demotivating and corrupt. I agree the current US, EU, Australian, Japanese (rich nation) welfare systems are used by bottom feeder politicians to guarantee their jobs and shovel in a vile political infrastructure.

      Your first argument is that unless we take this money from some and give it to others they will make too much trouble – basically an argument from fear. I don’t buy that as a ethical argument. Do you think they will make less trouble if the idea is pervasive that to be born is to be owed a living to be provided, at gunpoint if necessary, by others?

      To a minor extent, I suppose, but not much different as fear of flooding makes us build dikes. People bereft of income, no matter what they do, won’t be dancing in the streets to have their lives ruined and turn to deperation. Your response is clearly lacking in empathy – you don’t seem to care that our current macro-economic systems yields a percentage of people that can not ever be employed. The fact of the matter is our society inescapably yields a percentage of people subjected to systemic unfairness, or exclusion, or just plain bad luck. If these people then have to resort to desperate acts it isn’t some kind of conspiracy or malignant intent on their behalf. In fact it is bewildering you regard yourself exempt from the same risks. If reduced to the same state would you act any different? It’s simple causal mechanics, not ‘moral theory’. Desperate people cause problems.

      Entitlements is precisely what these programs are. Let us not mince words. You then immediately claim that the poor are excluded. This is a empty unsupported claim in this screed. If you examine the actual people who are poor you see people leave relative poverty and others enter. It is a temporary condition or was until welfare institutionalized multigenerational poverty. I don’t see why anyone needs more “inclusion” than having the right to offer whatever they can to anyone who cares to purchase it whether that be labor, creations or whatever. I don’t see why more inclusion that equality in freedom under law is needed. That is inclusive.

      I would agree that labelling this entire system as an attempt at ‘inclusion’ is a wrong analysis. Active inclusive measures are like pushing a wet matress up a spiral staircase. It didn’t work in communism, or at least not for very long. Or at least if we assumed that’s what communism tried in the first place. I’d rather see all this as common sense insurance. As in – we might need a doctor. Or your house might burn down. Or, wouldn’t it be nice if we had some people that put out fires. Is a fire engine ‘entitling’ you to feel some measure of security your neighbourhood won’t burn down? Yes it does. Is a levvy meant to provide you with some level of entitlement comfort that your house won’t wash away come the next storm? Yes. Does a aspirin ‘entitle’ you with a sense of safety knowing the next hangover might be somewhat more manageable? Yes. Sure, each of the above entitlements can be taken to excess. Fire departments can become a royal regulation nuisance. The medical system can become a societal millstone around everyone’s neck. Painkillers can addict. All excesses above, and many more besides, are all bad – but not nearly as bad as not having them.

      Entitlements are not sustainable. Check the budget numbers. Current entitlements are the biggest item even in the US. The unfunded entitlements are even more huge. You keep ignoring this and calling for more entitlements. From where? Even in Europe the writing is on the wall that the current entitlement programs are not economically sustainable. Did you miss those rumblings out of the G20? Did you miss the cuts in Greece? Yes there is unrest afterwards as people have been fed the notion that they are owed a living for a while now. But it it was either unrest or go belly up and possibly take the EU with it by the time the repercussions played out.

      I agree we are in a systemic fix the size of Ray Kurzweil’s ego. We are in major trouble. I totally agree that the current macro-economic systems are unsustainable. I totally agree we as a society are delusional about energy policies, wealth, monetary consistency, sustainability, work, safety, the militaries and many other things. I agree that the current trajectories end somewhere in a midair drop not too far in the future. It is however funny you emphasize the US as example, since the discrepancy increpancies is the US is actually pretty easy to resolve. It is also interesting you mention Greece, since Greece supports my view – the credit situation in Greece was caused in the vast majority as nobody paid their taxes. So in effect if you claim that Greece is an example of bad management, you are right. But if you claim that Greece is an example of out of control spending or entitlements, you are dead wrong. The situation in many of these countries were caused by a perfect storm of a real estate trade bubble bursting (i.e. external market capriciousness laying waste to the local economy), middle to high incomes massively evading taxes (which I suppose you could label douchebags feeling entitled) and a government letting it all go on for years. Funny, since welfare in Greece is about lowest in Europe. Also a funny example, since you can see in splendid detail what will happen if you give people low social safety nets, and then proceed to take these away, providing no alternative. You end up with a society sliding into collapse.

      There is no money to continue these schemes even if you did ever successfully address the very real ethical problems with these programs. Denigrating the problems as “protestant work ethic” will not do. Personal responsibility for your own life is the very heart of personal freedom. They support one another. Take away one and watch the other crumble.

      I already indicated that the base entitlement programs simply do not work. The current widespead paradigm [unemployment==wellfare cheque]] paradigm incapacitates people. The current system monopolizes work and money in elitist minorities. The current system breeds populist politician parasites. Hence, I suggest a broad spectrum system of giving everyone a basic income. It is a completely different system. Yes, while at the moment I can barely get by on my 950 euro a month disability (highest rents, tax rates, food prices and wage costs in the world over here) but still I would consent to receiving less. I would literally accept to receving (say) 700 euro, in a combination of (say) half of that universal basic income and half of that a disability addition, and then set me free to make additional money. I am sure I would be able to handle generating 300 or so a month. And making that effort would be healthy to me. Getting all this red tape of my neck would safe the state a fortune in civil servants and administrative efforts and controls – more money saved. I would be mobilized piecemeal into the labor market, which would be good for me and good for the rest of the world. Oh please do give me a chance to grow some work ethic of my own.

      But expect me to compete in this world, at the current rates, at the current employability numbers, and you will see me go offline in a mmatter of weeks, soon after followed by the news that the khannea you have all grown to love has either been stuck in a mental hospital, some prison, or some government-paid mass grave. The fact of the matter is, I am excluded and the monthly cheque I receive is but the flimsiest of panacea. Yes, serendipity, this system sucks to hell and back.

      People like me are “intolerant” of having any part of our lives claimed as the property of anonymous others and taken from us by force. I think that is a pretty damn healthy attitude. I have huge empathy and pity but I will express it the way I choose not the way some politician backed up by force decides is politic to keep the politician in office further fleecing the country.

      Fact of the matter is, in the current left/right political clusterfuck what you think is happening and will keep happening? You count yourself lucky you live in an aberration of a country where ‘socialism’ is not a cultural legacy, because if it were you’d be paying a great deal more. Like 5-10% more than you already do. And why?

      Because voters that are left out will vote in politicians that fix their problems, that’s why. And what I say now is extremely vital to this back and forth diatribe, serendipity. YOU can not resolve this impasse, or make suggestions (or lobby) to help solve the impasse if you don’t acknowledge this simple mechanic. Yes, tax is theft and an act of invasion and violence. Yes there are better solutions – but no, as long as you live in a democracy the consequences of people hurting will be those people voting to address that hurt – and pinkerton politicians coming after your wallet.

      We share this ideology Sipster – hatred of government. Because we are both unified in (don’t laugh) libertarian ideals. Oh yes, I am a chomskiite libertarian, and I loathe governments, even when they tax people to death to feed me. You have to understand that for a good 10 to 30% of people in both the US or western europe, existence is of such a quality that all these people have no reasonable other alternative than to sacrifice their vote at the altar of big moralistic patronizing redistributionist government. I’d rather not, but I have no bloody alternative for a government to guarantee me a humane existence. I won’t get this shit anywhere else, and neither will several ten % of society. This is the simple fact you seem unwilling or unable to accept. Your arguments, despite their eloquence and ethical high ground of doing damn well with your money as you please, will never sway or convince these people to vote otherwise than to send the IRS wolves after you.

      There is no “exclusion” except the exclusion of the rights of the productive class from consideration if taking from them will buy the politicians more votes. I agree 100% that in a democracy the people will vote for more and more handouts until the system breaks.

      You also ignore the fact the system would have broken long since if the democracy didn’t. What you think would happen if the the lower 10-30% if society would be left to their own devices? They’d become criminalized. They’d become homeless. They’d become literally a source of diseases. They’d start voting more radical. They’d loot and riot. And eventually you would end up with a revolution where many people would die. The ideals of freedom that are maintained so highly in the US don’t just end at the freedom to make money – it also involves some guarantee that if you can’t make money, you are still made to be somewhat free, any way possible. The state exists to guarantee things like roads, or hospitals or safety – and in this case the state is the only recourse left to guarantee that people who can’t won’t just slowly wither away and die.

      Tocqueville and many others pointed this out. But the US was not designed to be a democracy in that sense but to be a Republic where the rights of individuals were never run over by the state regardless of the size of any majority vote. Our constitution was not sufficient and/or our diligence was not enough to keep that republic. But an unlimited democracy is a travesty on human rights and freedom not its champion.

      Serendipity, if that were true, considering the battles you fought in your personal life you yourself would by now be (a) left outside the job or education markets, (b) unable to vote, (c) probably receiving cold-water baths in a psychiatric clinic and (d) subject to constant discrimination and persecution. Yet you don’t, and this is all because the rights of others to do so have been curtailed by emancipation of private citizens and minorities. If this constitution and republican framework would have been enough, then slaves would still be slaves, homosexuals and transgenderists would still be in deep despair in the closet or being locked in madhouses or being found dead and tortured, women would still be voteless and routinely raped if they went out to get groceries, children would still be whipped for any suspected insolence or inadequacy, animals would still be tortured for fun, chemical waste would still be dumped all over the place, you’d drive in insafe cars, you’d feel unsafe everywhere, there would e miserable roads, no fire departments of street lighting.

      Civilization is not just pick & choose – you will get the entire package of incremental progress and yes, the rights of some will be societally constrained when it becomes necessarily to start weighing the rights of others. Even though things are in stasis (and that stasis doesn’t have zip to do with entitlements, but rather with systemic external causes we discussed earlier)

      Yes, incapacity to make money is horrible, and you know my answer to this grave issue – my democratic vote is in favor of protecting the unborn from being born impaired, Yes I favor a type of rational neo-eugenics that, though politically currently non-negotiable, would address the atrocity of significant percentages of our society born with reduced capacity to take care of their own existence and prosperity. I can’t wait for individuals to use genetic tools to start giving ‘the best possible chances in life’, and society then having to step in and giving the same access to GM to everyone else to make sure we don’t have ‘a genetic underclass’. HELL I claim we already do and I’d see genetic (and other) treatments to stop the influx of the heredetary excludals. Why? Because being stuck with bad opportunity reducing physical heredetary traits is simply suck – and compensating for them costs society a shitload of money.

      That some are robbed more than others and some receive more unearned or involuntarily “donated” benefits than others does not make the ethical wrong any less.

      It is as it is and it won’t go away unless someone (you?) comes up with a more sensible mechanism.

      You keep claiming “exclusion” and “marginalization” and other victim mentality BS. I grew up poor. I lived on the streets a while. I wasn’t excluded or marginalized. I simply didn’t understand how the world worked and thought the world owed me a living. It took a while before I realized that those others I expected to provide it and even felt superior to or like they owed it to me, were people just like me. It took a while to understand my hypocrisy. No, it wasn’t that easy getting off the street. But no one was purposefully keeping me there. I don’t feel contempt for anyone who can’t find employment. Nor do I feel that it is my duty to support as many of them as possible to the point where I myself am “between jobs” I have little to fall back on. I have supported many people in my life by my own voluntary choice. So don’t lecture me about not caring.

      I assume we have a very fundamental difference of culture here.

      On that note, I’d love inviting you over to spend a vacation here, say next year. My accomodations are spartan, but I have a modest spare room by then. I’d loving argueing face to face, showing you around town, and showing you the cultural differences, as well as the practical reality of the continental european attitudes on this topic.

      Democracy was instituted to give everyone a voice in the government in theory – not to be the voice for the “marginalized”. That is the language of the rotten socialist political theory that has its hooks into you. Examine it deeply and I think you will see a not very agreeable underbelly. The alternative is only one. Real freedom that includes everyone. This means the freedom to make your own choices and find your own way and keep your successes. It means the freedom to help one another when and how you choose to without any politician middle men getting fat pretending to care about the poor while raping the country and our future. Is it perfect? Does it guarantee everyone makes it? No. Neither do the entitlements. They are not remotely sustainable and we are fast coming to that bill coming fully due. We cannot pay it.

      Do the freaking math. There is no way your program can be funded. None, zero, zip. Even if it was remotely ethical. Where does this “basic income” come from? Only two places. Either it is taken out of the production of the economy – that is taken from relative producers by force. Or the government just borrows and borrows or runs the printing presses. I am pretty sure that you know the second is the path to ruin. It is the path that we have been walking in most western countries for a long time now. Ruin – dead ahead.

      So what you propose is both unethical and impossible economically. Great job at empathy and practical solutions! Perhaps you should run for office.

      I agree with your basic position, except for the simple fact that societal competition, especially in a free economic market place with genetically diverse people, creates losers. Until you address the very basic concerns of these losers, they will keep voting to tax you for an appreciable amount of their income. And yes this process may get worse (or with nanoreplication abundance it may get better). We are almost certainly destined for a very turbulent next few decades, on that we both agree.

      We merely differ on what the best course of action is to reduce, mitigate or manage that societal unrest. I am of the opinion that creating minimal states of humane living (through what you call entitlement programs and basic income) are of a higher priority than (say) spending a trillion of arms, a war on drugs, a bloated government beset by an uebercaste of shills and lobbyists, a corrupt fat cat financial sector and a vile lying media elite … et al. Oh I have a list where society should safe money, as well as another list where it would spend more.

      The world is about to go belly up economically. I don’t need fancy studies to notice that fact. It is getting pretty obvious. And yet as it gets worse precisely in large part because of the entitlement programs and the more and more invasive, expensive and corrupt government to enforce the takings necessary for them, you and others cry for ever more and more universal entitlements to “fix” it. And you say that I am not facing reality.

      🙂