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Monday, June 02, 2014

OTP - June 2014: Iraq war costs U.S. more than $2 trillion: study

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest, a study released on Thursday said.

The war has killed at least 134,000 Iraqi civilians and may have contributed to the deaths of as many as four times that number, according to the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

When security forces, insurgents, journalists and humanitarian workers were included, the war’s death toll rose to an estimated 176,000 to 189,000, the study said.

Bitter Mouse Posted: June 02, 2014 at 07:48 AM | 4613 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: otp, politics, stupid ideas

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   1401. Publius Publicola Posted: June 09, 2014 at 08:05 PM (#4722194)
Drug companies don't do science. They do engineering.


Not true. They do all kinds of science. Almost all of it is applied science or science intended to answer a specific question related to product development or product support but it's science nonetheless.

And don't fool yourself into thinking that isn't hard. While the questions being asked are fairly straightforward, the rigor and precision put into it for the most part far outstrips what academic scientists are doing.
   1402. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 09, 2014 at 08:06 PM (#4722195)
Some movement in the Real Clear Politics "No Toss Ups" Map - Iowa moving into the GOP column. That makes 7 GOP pick-ups, with no seats lost, for a projected 52-48 advantage. They still give the Democrat the edge in Arkansas, although it has been back-and-forth and the GOP candidate is ahead in the latest poll. Colorado & Michigan are the other two toss-up races that they give to the Dems.
   1403. Publius Publicola Posted: June 09, 2014 at 08:31 PM (#4722202)
Don't worry, Clapper. The GOP will #### things up once the campaigning begins. First, they'll insult women, then they'll insult gays, then they'll insults blacks and latino's, then they'll insult the poor and the unemployed, they it will be the young voters, then the...
   1404. zenbitz Posted: June 09, 2014 at 08:36 PM (#4722203)
@1401. Let me rephrase. They are not paid to to do science; i.e., the furthering of the understanding of the natural world. And engineering is often much more difficult than pure science.

I wouldn't make a generalization about rigor. Some academics are very good, some are awful. It is not typically correlated with how famous they are. Pharma companies are exactly as rigorous as the FDA makes them be, and no more. Rigor costs money. But the FDA can be quite demanding.
   1405. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 09, 2014 at 08:38 PM (#4722204)
Apparently some folks haven't heard of the Streisand Effect. Pro-Hillary Super-PAC Fights "Ready for Oligarchy" Merchandise:
A pro-Hillary Clinton super-PAC is facing a legal fight after trying to prevent shirts, mugs and bumper stickers that play on the group’s name. Instead of “I’m Ready for Hillary,” a Minnesota activist made a line of shirts declaring “I’m Ready for Oligarchy,” in the same style and with the same font as the super-PAC’s images.

Ready for Hillary ordered two online sales sites, Zazzle.com and CafePress.com, to take those down, but that demand is coming under fire. The consumer interest group Public Citizen is coming to the design creator’s defense, and accusing the super-PAC of trying to clamp down on his constitutional right to political protest. In a letter to the group on Monday, attorney Paul Levy wrote that “critical speech directed at a candidate for president is squarely protected by the First Amendment, hence any application of trademark law to quash such uses is highly suspect.”

Seems a bit arrogant, not to mention counter-productive.
   1406. cardsfanboy Posted: June 09, 2014 at 08:49 PM (#4722207)
Seems a bit arrogant, not to mention counter-productive.


Anything that makes a Super Pac look bad is good news, no matter which side of the aisle they are on.
   1407. Morty Causa Posted: June 09, 2014 at 08:51 PM (#4722209)
1401 & 1404:

I'm not sure what the distinction is which is being made. If it isn't private scientists that are making scientific discoveries, who is?

Check out the development of imatinib (trade name Gleevec), if you don't already know of it. A breakthrough in treating cancer, and from which something of a progeny of drugs has since descended, all of which target only the problem that causes the particular disease. Wasn't that science?

   1408. Publius Publicola Posted: June 09, 2014 at 09:04 PM (#4722215)
@1401. Let me rephrase. They are not paid to to do science; i.e., the furthering of the understanding of the natural world. And engineering is often much more difficult than pure science.


Sometimes they are. The hepatitis C virus was discovered at Chiron, not an an academic or government lab. PCR was discovered and developed at Cetus Corp, not an academic or government lab.
   1409. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 09, 2014 at 09:15 PM (#4722219)
Another good response to Wade's book.

The reason that this is issue is bigger than Wade’s book is that, while Wade’s representation of modern genetics is simplistic and selective, and he veers sharply into racist claptrap, the points that he is trying to emphasize about human evolution are, in broad strokes, right. Human genetic diversity does mirror geography, as does much phenotypic diversity. While random drift likely accounts for most of both genetic and phenotypic variation, natural selection clearly has shaped recent human evolution, and there is the potential for cultural forces to impact genetic variation over relatively short timeframes.

The problem is that – for the moment at least – that’s about all we can say. It turns out to be far easier to demonstrate that there has been a fair amount of recent natural selection acting on the human population, than it is to pinpoint specific examples, or to rigorously evaluate specific hypotheses. The reason is that different types of evolution (drift, positive selection, purifying selection) leave different fingerprints in the genome, and we can use these to estimate how prevalent each of these forces has been in human history, and, to a lesser extent, identify regions of the genome that have been subject to certain types of selection.
   1410. Publius Publicola Posted: June 09, 2014 at 09:21 PM (#4722224)
More evidence Obama is doing a poor job managing the economy:
US Oil Production Booms While OPEC Flounders
Instability in the Middle East is posing problems for OPEC, the world’s largest oil cartel. The cartel may have trouble producing enough oil to meet demand later this year, according to energy analysts.

But in the U.S., oil production continues to boom, reaching a 28-year high last week, rising 78,000 barrels per day to reach 8.428 million — close to the 1970 all-time production high of 9.6 million barrels per day.

U.S. economy regains all jobs lost in recession
Employers added 217,000 jobs in May as the labor market reached a milestone with the recovery of all 8.7 million jobs lost in the recession.

The unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.3%, the Labor Department said Friday.

Economists surveyed by Action Economics estimated that 220,000 jobs were added last month.

5 Reasons 2014 Is Looking Good for the U.S. Economy
1. Deleveraging is in the past: Recoveries from financial disasters generally are more difficult and take longer than a recovery from a cyclical economic correction. This is because financial disasters expose fundamental weaknesses in the over-extended balance sheets and spending habits of nearly every sector, from corporations to consumers to regional and local governments.
...
For the U.S. economy, this process has taken nearly four years from the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and bailout of AIG in September 2008. Now that the rebalancing and deleveraging process is largely complete, the U.S. economy is ready to grow at a healthy pace.

cal and regulatory drag is diminishing: The U.S. federal budget deficit was vastly expanded at the end of President George W. Bush’s second term with Treasury Secretary Paulson’s $1 trillion emergency spending request to combat the financial crisis.
...
Since then, substantial progress in deficit reduction has been made. For fiscal year 2013, the federal deficit was $680 billion (4 percent of GDP). And for fiscal year 2014, we are projecting a federal deficit of "only" $500 billion (3 percent of GDP).

[See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

By fiscal year 2015, we expect the U.S. government to have achieved a fully balanced operating budget, which excludes interest expense (about 2 percent of GDP). Even more importantly, U.S. federal budget deficit reduction is being accomplished with much higher tax revenues (up 8 percent in fiscal year 2013 over fiscal year 2012) and expense stability (essentially flat in fiscal year 2013 over fiscal year 2012). The higher tax revenues are a surprise to many analysts, but they reflect the healthy recovery of the private sector that has been obscured in the employment data by job losses in the state and local government sector.

An optimistic view for 2014: In December 2012, markets were justifiably worried the U.S. might go off the fiscal cliff, that Europe might implode and that China might face a hard landing. In fact, the U.S. did not go off the cliff, and the budget deficit is on the way to an operating balance by fiscal year 2015. Europe has stabilized, even if stronger economic growth remains out of reach for now. China has had a smooth transition to new leadership, achieved a soft landing and is poised to implement meaningful market reforms

The removal of these drags on economic growth, a sense that the necessary and multiyear financial rebalancing after the disaster of 2008 has been largely accomplished, the fact the federal government is on the road to fiscal stability, the more positive messaging from the Fed and the energy revolution in the U.S. all point toward a strong year of economic growth. For the record, our projections are for 3.5 percent growth in U.S. real GDP in 2014, for the unemployment rate to drop to around 6.0 percent by year-end and for core inflation to remain below 2 percent year-on-year growth. Not a bad year, if it can be achieved.


Really amazing performance by the Obama economy, pulling off the near impossible feat of recovering from the GOP-sponsored economic debacle our country has faced since the 1929 crash and abolishing the GOP-sponsored budget deficits without resorting to onerous tax increases.

Incredible. And it bodes well for the run-up to the midterm elections.
   1411. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 09, 2014 at 09:25 PM (#4722227)
Nobody supports paying welfare to people who simply don't want to work. Do they?

Snapper, virtually every liberal supports paying welfare to people who simply don't want to work.


I think there should be a safety net that supplies a base level of comfort and resources to everyone.
   1412. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 09, 2014 at 09:43 PM (#4722233)
Are you claiming welfare recipients currently don't have a "civilized standard of living"?

I'd suggest that you find out for yourself by trying to live on your TANF income for a year or so and then report back to us on your findings. You might want to digest this first.

I never said welfare recipients were living a life of luxury, but the streets also aren't packed with millions of starving welfare recipients. Give us a break.


A claim which in turn I've never made. I only suggested that you try to subsist on a TANF recipient's income for a while and then report back to us. I'm sure you'd love it.

-----------------------------------------------------

What I've often wondered would be if government could lure away many of the top scientists from private drug companies with offers of low seven digit salaries and the sort of public recognition that's usually reserved for the Jonas Salks and four star generals of the world.

Most of the "top scientists" are not in private drug companies. Drug companies don't do science. They do engineering. They have disease indications and they bash at them with chemicals in the hope of winning the lottery (Phase III trials). Even a place like Genetech - a biotech/pharma company that encourages or requires it's scientists to publish original research is not exactly brain draining academia. Now what all the scientists do when they get a hot idea is that they found a company and let someone monotize. Look up the number of companies started by George Church (Harvard) or Atul Butte (Stanford)


I may be conflating scientists with engineers, but in any case there are people working for drug companies---quite bright individuals, I'd imagine---whose job is to develop the sort of breakthrough drugs that wow the world but often wind up costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars a dose, thereby restricting their reach to two groups of people: The wealthy, and those who by one means or another are fortunate enough to get the drugs at a radically subsidized cost.

This of course leads to all sorts of stories featuring some poor cancer ridden schlump who didn't win the subsidy lottery and who can't even dream of affording the drug that might save his life. And this in turn leads to the counterpoint that without the ability to charge "market" prices, the incentive for innovation would disappear. A further point that's often made is that by paying backbreaking prices for these miracle drugs, Americans are effectively subsidizing consumers in countries whose governments drive down drug prices by negotiating Lyndon Johnson style.

And my question is this: Why can't the government hire the bright boys who are currently working for the drug companies? Pay them competitive salaries, big bonuses for breakthroughs, and put their names out there as public heroes. You wouldn't get them all that way---of course not---but you might be able to hire enough of them to rescue some of those breakthrough drugs from the patent monopolists, which IMO would make the enterprise well worth the cost.

And if you wind up making a few millionaires out of government employees, more power to them. They'll have earned it.
   1413. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 09, 2014 at 09:46 PM (#4722234)
I think there should be a safety net that supplies a base level of comfort and resources to everyone.

And that level for someone who is able to work, but refuses, should be an iron cot in a dormitory, and lots of gruel and rice and beans to eat.

Are you really asking working people, who get out of bed every morning at 6:30 AM, and schlep an hour to work 8-10 hour days, to provide someone who flat out refuses to work with an apartment, TV, cell phone, air-conditioning, etc?

How is that in the least bit moral?
   1414. Joe Kehoskie Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:22 PM (#4722247)
Are you really asking working people, who get out of bed every morning at 6:30 AM, and schlep an hour to work 8-10 hour days, to provide someone who flat out refuses to work with an apartment, TV, cell phone, air-conditioning, etc?

Yes, he is. (And don't forget the cable/internet package, you cheapskate.)

***
A claim which in turn I've never made. I only suggested that you try to subsist on a TANF recipient's income for a while and then report back to us. I'm sure you'd love it.

People, or at least most people, respond to incentives. If the current package of welfare benefits didn't provide recipients with a "civilized standard of living," as you put it, we'd be seeing all sorts of things happening that don't seem to be happening (e.g., an increased emphasis on obtaining education and job skills, welfare recipients taking the so-called "jobs Americans won't do," a substantially lower birthrate among poor people, etc.).
   1415. zenbitz Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:36 PM (#4722255)
I worked for a company for 3 years who's whole business model was based on gleevec's success (kinase inhibitors) 10 years later they have no approved drugs. And gleevec has the same flaws as every other single target drug-- resistence.

I just want to be clear -- I don't have anything against Pharma or biotech companies or the work they do. But it's not science in the same way that the New York Times isn't literature.

PCR is exactly engineering. I didn't know that about hep C, but I don't think it changes my main point. Companies do, incidentally, make discoveries.
   1416. Morty Causa Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:48 PM (#4722261)
Well, I was only asking for clarification. However, there are a number of other tyrosine-kinase inhibitors (Sprycel, Tasigna, Bosulif, Icuslig). There are some problems, of course. There are few drugs totally free from resistance, either at the beginning or later when resistance develops, other than those that are in the nature of a blanket cure. There is no doubt, though, that these are huge breakthroughs. A lot of people with leukemia are living a lot longer than they would otherwise. Moreover, many do so with few, and rather trivial, side effects.

And of course the companies have made billions of dollars off of them.
   1417. Publius Publicola Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:50 PM (#4722263)
Lots of basic research is essentially an engineering problem. Discovering the speed of light was an engineering problem. The human genome project was an engineering problem. The discovery of the photoelectric effect was an engineering problem. Even the determination that DNA and not protein was responsible for heredity was an engineering problem.
   1418. Publius Publicola Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:50 PM (#4722265)
Lots of basic research is essentially an engineering problem. Discovering the speed of light was an engineering problem. The human genome project was an engineering problem. The discovery of the photoelectric effect was an engineering problem. Even the determination that DNA and not protein was responsible for heredity was an engineering problem.
   1419. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:51 PM (#4722266)
Are you really asking working people, who get out of bed every morning at 6:30 AM, and schlep an hour to work 8-10 hour days, to provide someone who flat out refuses to work with an apartment, TV, cell phone, air-conditioning, etc?


Two things. First of all I feel pity for people who could work, but choose not to. I don't envy them (like so many do), they are broken. I also think it fairly rare to have people who can work, who have jobs available to them, who refuse to work. It does exist though, obviously.

The second point is that their is a price for civilization. Those of us who work do so, and contribute some of our earnings to the community. We also contribute by obeying the laws, mores and so on. That contribution (much of which is called taxes) pays for all the different parts of that civilization, even the parts we don't individually like.

So some of my taxes goes to enforce laws I don't like, pays money to corporation I loathe, pays for people to be killed here (death penalty) and abroad (wars) by means that I think are abhorrent and immoral. It also pays for many things you think are abhorrent and immoral. That is another price one pays for civilization.

So yeah, cry me a river, some people are paying for a few who could work and choose not to. You don't build a safety net that weighs the soul of each person before deciding to catch them. You catch them, and if you believe in such things you let God sort them out in death (much later, with any luck at all).
   1420. zenbitz Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:58 PM (#4722269)
And my question is this: Why can't the government hire the bright boys who are currently working for the drug companies? Pay them competitive salaries, big bonuses for breakthroughs, and put their names out there as public heroes. You wouldn't get them all that way---of course not---but you might be able to hire enough of them to rescue some of those breakthrough drugs from the patent monopolists, which IMO would make the enterprise well worth the cost


Ahh.., but billion dollar drugs are not developed by geniuses. They are the combined effort of a huge number of individuals and quite a bit of luck. And the reason they are so expensive is mostly because it does cost hundreds of millions to test and prove them The vast bulk of this cost is in phase II and III clinical trials, and he vast majority of compounds fail because they simply cannot be shown statistically to be effective relative to standard of care.

I suppose you could just nationalize drug company and run it as a non profit. I am not sure you would get better results. I think it would make more sense to just have a single buyer and set prices.

There is actually something of a crisis here as drugs get more and more personalized, it gets harder and harder to design the correct clinical trials because the sample sizes get smaller and smaller.
   1421. Joe Kehoskie Posted: June 09, 2014 at 11:04 PM (#4722271)
First of all I feel pity for people who could work, but choose not to. I don't envy them (like so many do), they are broken.

If this is what you really believe, you'd want the welfare system designed to achieve better results and incentivize self-improvement, just like lefties try to engineer various desired outcomes and behaviors via cigarette taxes, gasoline taxes, carbon taxes, Obamacare penalties, soda taxes, and every other sort of tax or penalty under the sun.

"We don't care if you waste your life on welfare, but smoking cigarettes? Now that's something we have to fix!"

As personal or political philosophies go, that one's quite "broken."
   1422. Publius Publicola Posted: June 09, 2014 at 11:05 PM (#4722272)
There are non-profit drug companies. The Welcome Trust is one. But z is right that it takes hundreds of millions of dollars to navigate a lead compound through the clin/reg maze.
   1423. Morty Causa Posted: June 09, 2014 at 11:05 PM (#4722273)
And the reason they are so expensive is mostly because it does cost hundreds of millions to test and prove them

That is part of it, but, still, those companies are making huge profits. Gleevec was going for almost 100K a year before imatinib became generic. Novartis made billions and billions off Gleevec. Sprycel the same. Those companies made their money back in short order and just keep going.
   1424. Publius Publicola Posted: June 09, 2014 at 11:18 PM (#4722279)
That is part of it, but, still, those companies are making huge profits.


Not as much as they used to. Big Pharma is going through something of a downsizing right now. The blockbusters are going off patent and there generally isn't enough in the pipeline to maintain the profit margin.
   1425. Publius Publicola Posted: June 09, 2014 at 11:21 PM (#4722280)
this is what you really believe, you'd want the welfare system designed to achieve better results and incentivize self-improvement


Many have medical/psychiatric problems that preclude incentivization. Almost all healthy adults want to do something meaningful with themselves and be self-sufficient.
   1426. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: June 09, 2014 at 11:30 PM (#4722286)
#1417 and #1418 is an engineering problem.
   1427. bobm Posted: June 10, 2014 at 12:46 AM (#4722315)
Almost all healthy adults want to do something meaningful with themselves and be self-sufficient.

From Wikipedia

The United States Department of Health and Human Services defines ten indicators of welfare dependency:

Indicator 1: Degree of Dependence, which can be measured by the percentage of total income from means-tested benefits. If greater than 50%, the recipient of welfare is considered to be dependent on it for the purposes of official statistics.
Indicator 2: Receipt of Means-Tested Assistance and Labor Force Attachment, or what percentage of recipients are in families with different degrees of labor force participation.
Indicator 3: Rates of Receipt of Means-Tested Assistance, or the percentage of the population receiving TANF, food stamps, and SSI.
Indicator 4: Rates of Participation in Means-Tested Assistance Programs, or the percentage of people eligible for welfare benefits who are actually claiming them.
Indicator 5: Multiple Program Receipt, or the percentage of recipients who are receiving at least two of TANF, food stamps, or SSI.
Indicator 6: Dependence Transitions, which breaks down recipients by demographic characteristics and the level of income that welfare benefits represented for them in previous years.
Indicator 7: Program Spell Duration, or for how long recipients draw the three means-tested benefits.
Indicator 8: Welfare Spell Duration with No Labor Force Attachment, which measures how long recipients with no one working in their family remain on welfare.
Indicator 9: Long Term Receipt, which breaks down spells on TANF by how long a person has been in receipt.
Indicator 10: Events Associated with the Beginning and Ending of Program Spells, such as an increase in personal or household income, marriage, children no longer being eligible for a benefit, and/or transfer onto other benefits.

In 2005, the Department estimated that 3.8% of the American population could be considered dependent on welfare, calculated as having more than half of their family’s income coming from TANF, food stamps, and/or SSDI payments, down from 5.2% in 1996.[22] As 15.3% of the population was in receipt of welfare benefits in 2005, it follows that approximately one-quarter of welfare recipients are considered dependent as per the official measures. In general, measures of welfare dependence are assessed alongside the statistics for poverty in general.[23]

Government measures of welfare dependence include welfare benefits associated with work. If such benefits were excluded from calculations, the dependency rate would be lower


Video (2011) - Obama Acknowledges Welfare Programs Encourage Dependency

"Well, you know, here's what I would say. I think we should acknowledge that some welfare programs in the past were not well designed and in some cases did encourage dependency. As somebody who worked in low income neighborhoods, I've seen it, where people weren't encouraged to work, weren't encouraged to upgrade their skills, were just getting a check, and, over time, their motivation started to diminish. And I think even if you're progressive you've got to acknowledge that some of these things have not been well designed."

   1428. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 10, 2014 at 08:23 AM (#4722348)
I am not sure what the point of 1427 is. No one here has said the previous programs were ideal. In fact I have been a strong supporter of the idea of a minimum income for all Americans, which has much less moral hazard than the current system.

If this is what you really believe, you'd want the welfare system designed to achieve better results and incentivize self-improvement, just like lefties try to engineer various desired outcomes and behaviors via cigarette taxes, gasoline taxes, carbon taxes, Obamacare penalties, soda taxes, and every other sort of tax or penalty under the sun.


The tax code has a primary purpose (generate revenue for the government) and a secondary purpose (alter behavior through incentives). Feel free to pretend that conservatives don't use the tax code as an incentive for behavior change, but it is just pretend. Everyone uses the tax code that way. And it is an OK method, but not a powerful as many think it is, because there are usually unintended consequences.

The fact that a conservative does not like the liberal priorities is somewhat less than shocking.
   1429. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 10, 2014 at 08:23 AM (#4722349)
Almost all healthy adults want to do something meaningful with themselves and be self-sufficient.

In 2005, the Department estimated that 3.8% of the American population could be considered dependent on welfare


So does 96.2% qualify as "almost all"? And what percentage of that 3.8% is healthy?

Video (2011) - Obama Acknowledges Welfare Programs Encourage Dependency

"Well, you know, here's what I would say. I think we should acknowledge that some welfare programs in the past were not well designed and in some cases did encourage dependency. As somebody who worked in low income neighborhoods, I've seen it, where people weren't encouraged to work, weren't encouraged to upgrade their skills, were just getting a check, and, over time, their motivation started to diminish. And I think even if you're progressive you've got to acknowledge that some of these things have not been well designed."


This will only come as a shock to people whose main source of information about Obama is from Fox News. You could re-post this quote ten times a day and those people still won't believe it, since the comfortable myth that liberals want to encourage welfare dependency has been part of conservatives' DNA since the days of FDR.
   1430. Publius Publicola Posted: June 10, 2014 at 08:54 AM (#4722356)
The political right's idea of defending the Constitution:

How much does right-wing rhetoric contribute to right-wing terrorism?
Yesterday, a man and a woman shot two police officers in a Las Vegas restaurant after saying, “this is a revolution.” Then they draped their bodies in a Gadsden flag. According to reports now coming in, the couple (who later killed themselves) appear to have been white supremacists and told neighbors they had gone to join the protests in support of anti-government rancher Cliven Bundy. It was one more incident of right-wing terrorism that, while not exactly an epidemic, has become enough of a trend to raise some troubling questions.

What I’m about to say will raise some hackles, but we need to talk about it. It’s long past time for prominent conservatives and Republicans to do some introspection and ask whether they’re contributing to outbreaks of right-wing violence.


Oh, I'm sure the children of those cops who were nihilistcally killed will appreciate the sacrifice their fathers made toward the concept of liberty and freedom.
   1431. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 10, 2014 at 08:57 AM (#4722357)
So does 96.2% qualify as "almost all"? And what percentage of that 3.8% is healthy?

This is the important percentage, not the genral population. By definition, you can't be welfare dependent if you're not on welfare.

As 15.3% of the population was in receipt of welfare benefits in 2005, it follows that approximately one-quarter of welfare recipients are considered dependent as per the official measures.


25% of welfare recipients is a lot.
   1432. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:02 AM (#4722360)
Two things. First of all I feel pity for people who could work, but choose not to. I don't envy them (like so many do), they are broken. I also think it fairly rare to have people who can work, who have jobs available to them, who refuse to work. It does exist though, obviously.

The second point is that their is a price for civilization. Those of us who work do so, and contribute some of our earnings to the community. We also contribute by obeying the laws, mores and so on. That contribution (much of which is called taxes) pays for all the different parts of that civilization, even the parts we don't individually like.

So some of my taxes goes to enforce laws I don't like, pays money to corporation I loathe, pays for people to be killed here (death penalty) and abroad (wars) by means that I think are abhorrent and immoral. It also pays for many things you think are abhorrent and immoral. That is another price one pays for civilization.

So yeah, cry me a river, some people are paying for a few who could work and choose not to. You don't build a safety net that weighs the soul of each person before deciding to catch them. You catch them, and if you believe in such things you let God sort them out in death (much later, with any luck at all).


I categorically disagree. What you are talking about is the opposite of civilization, especially since welfare dependency causes some of the least civilized behavior in our society.

Even freaking Marx said from each according to his ability to each according to his need. Those able to contribute have to. When Marx and St. Paul agree, you've probably got something.

Frankly, this slice of welfare you advocate actually meets the libertarian accusation that welfare is theft. Taking money from working people to give it to people who can work, but rather not, is pure theft. There is no social good being achieved.

The basis of any just society is a fair day's pay for a fair day's work. If you can't work, due to age, disability, etc., then yes, society should help you. Though you still should contribute to the best of your ability.
   1433. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:09 AM (#4722361)
25% of welfare recipients is a lot.


Even if we accept the numbers I think you are wrong. Because there are two huge factors you are leaving out, they have to be able to work and have jobs available.

Besides, as I have said before I support (and you don't last I checked) safety net schemes that have less of a moral hazard. And even with the moral hazard of dependence I think it better to make sure those that need aid get it, than deprive those that need it in hopes of eliminating moral hazard (and/or restricting benefits to only those that absolutely need it).

In other words just like it is better to let the guilty go free instead of punishing the innocent, it is better to feed and house everyone, rather than pinch pennies and have deserving people cut off.
   1434. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:11 AM (#4722362)
I categorically disagree. What you are talking about is the opposite of civilization, especially since welfare dependency causes some of the least civilized behavior in our society.


So you get to decide what is civilized? It is great to have my money "stolen" to pay for killing innocent people, but your money can't be "stolen" to pay to feed someone? Killing OK, but feeding immoral?

That is crazy.
   1435. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:13 AM (#4722363)
25% of welfare recipients is a lot.

But it's still only 3.8% of the population, at a time of an official unemployment rate of 6.3%, and an unofficial rate that's higher than that. By contrast, in the boom year of 1996 the rate of dependency was 5.2%, and yet to hear you talk the dependency problem is getting worse, not better.

And again, of that 3.8%, how many of them are healthy? How many of them have individual family situations that would preclude them from work? These are individuals, not just statistics, but you seldom give any indication that you understand that. What you don't also seem to realize is that there but for the grace of God, go you.
   1436. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:13 AM (#4722364)
Even if we accept the numbers I think you are wrong. Because there are two huge factors you are leaving out, they have to be able to work and have jobs available.

Besides, as I have said before I support (and you don't last I checked) safety net schemes that have less of a moral hazard. And even with the moral hazard of dependence I think it better to make sure those that need aid get it, than deprive those that need it in hopes of eliminating moral hazard (and/or restricting benefits to only those that absolutely need it).

In other words just like it is better to let the guilty go free instead of punishing the innocent, it is better to feed and house everyone, rather than pinch pennies and have deserving people cut off.


My proposals above don't cut anyone off from benefits. They just require work and/or change the form of the benefit.

My plans would make more money available for those who need it, by getting the scammers out of the system (e.g. people who collect while working off the books, or in illegal occupations), and reducing taxpayer resistance to programs for the needy.
   1437. bunyon Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:14 AM (#4722366)
I may be conflating scientists with engineers, but in any case there are people working for drug companies---quite bright individuals, I'd imagine---whose job is to develop the sort of breakthrough drugs that wow the world but often wind up costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars a dose, thereby restricting their reach to two groups of people: The wealthy, and those who by one means or another are fortunate enough to get the drugs at a radically subsidized cost.

This of course leads to all sorts of stories featuring some poor cancer ridden schlump who didn't win the subsidy lottery and who can't even dream of affording the drug that might save his life. And this in turn leads to the counterpoint that without the ability to charge "market" prices, the incentive for innovation would disappear. A further point that's often made is that by paying backbreaking prices for these miracle drugs, Americans are effectively subsidizing consumers in countries whose governments drive down drug prices by negotiating Lyndon Johnson style.

And my question is this: Why can't the government hire the bright boys who are currently working for the drug companies? Pay them competitive salaries, big bonuses for breakthroughs, and put their names out there as public heroes. You wouldn't get them all that way---of course not---but you might be able to hire enough of them to rescue some of those breakthrough drugs from the patent monopolists, which IMO would make the enterprise well worth the cost.

And if you wind up making a few millionaires out of government employees, more power to them. They'll have earned it.


My original point - that socializing important things and letting non-important things be free market will, inevitably, lead to the money and fame being in the non-important arenas. Thus, a kid with a choice of going to med school or working on Wall Street is an easy one and not the one that most benefits society.

Most everyone seems to have latched onto my comment as being about scientific research and the different flavors therein. Which was not my point. My point was, for example, my wife, who has a PhD in science, nearly two decades in her field (a private company, not pharma) and makes a very satisfactory living.* However, she makes less than half what her equivalent in the marketing and sales branch makes. She makes just a hair more than newly hired salesmen. The point is not what kind of science should one go into but that, even at these "scientific" companies, the money is not in being a scientist but in being the business guy.

Big Pharma (as well as Medium Pharma and Small Pharma) are shedding scientists like mad at the moment. I assume they're also shedding business and sales people but I don't really know. Yet profits are good. But when a company hits a big time money making drug, you can bet the scientists aren't the ones raking it in. My question is: why would anyone want to be the scientist in this story? (Warning: I'm the one being paid to inspire young scientists). If you have the analytical skills to do good science, you can make at least as much, probably more, applying those skills in the business and financial world. The ceiling on income in the financial world is a couple of orders of magnitude higher than that for someone in the science world. If you find me a scientists who made tons of money, I will show you a person who left the bench and got behind a desk to be a businessman. No one is being paid a lot of money to do science.


Now, as for Andy's idea of having the government pour money into pharma research. They do. They have. Hasn't had any better luck than the companies (a little worse, actually, though there are excellent government scientists).

I would differentiate science problems and engineering problems this way: Do we know how something SHOULD work? That is, can we theoretically design X? If so, then making X is engineering. It may be very difficult and expensive engineering but with enough time and money, X will get done. If we don't know what X should look like or how it works, just an outcome we're looking for, then it's science.

So: Manhattan project is engineering. We understand fission, we understand critical mass. It's just a matter of putting all the pieces together to make the bomb. Difficult but get enough really smart people together and it'll get done.

Curing cancer: Do we actually know what cancer is? We are still continually learning about the disease. That is, we understand cancer much less thoroughly today than we understood nuclear fission in 1942. So, designing a "cure" isn't as simple as putting (the very complex and expensive) pieces together. We still have to find all the pieces. And, who knows, it may not be possible (certainly there are avenues that will have no successful outcome). So, it is both expensive and uncertain.


But, again, my original point was not: what kind of scientist should you be to make lots of money? but, rather, if you want to make lots of money, don't be a scientist (or a teacher, or a doctor, etc.). By claiming certain areas as "public" goods, those areas are shut off from money-making and, therefore, lots of bright kids go to other areas.
   1438. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:18 AM (#4722369)
But it's still only 3.8% of the population, at a time of an official unemployment rate of 6.3%, and an unofficial rate that's higher than that. By contrast, in the boom year of 1996 the rate of dependency was 5.2%, and yet to hear you talk the dependency problem is getting worse, not better.

And again, of that 3.8%, how many of them are healthy? How many of them have individual family situations that would preclude them from work? These are individuals, not just statistics, but you seldom give any indication that you understand that. What you don't also seem to realize is that there but for the grace of God, go you.


That stat is from 2005, the absolute peak of the housing boom. I'm sure it's much worse today.

My proposal exempts anyone who's really disabled (though we need to tighten up the SSDI eligibility a lot).

If they are single parents with dependent children, they can either do their community service while the children are at school, or if the children are very young, you can train a portion of the welfare recipients as babysitters, and that can be their community service, while the others do other work.
   1439. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:19 AM (#4722370)
Even if we accept the numbers I think you are wrong. Because there are two huge factors you are leaving out, they have to be able to work and have jobs available.

It's funny how conservatives like to boast about how thousands of applicants lining up in the rain for a few Wal-Mart jobs proves the beneficence of Wal-Mart, but at the same time it apparently says nothing about the willingness of unemployed people to work.
   1440. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:20 AM (#4722371)
Most everyone seems to have latched onto my comment as being about scientific research and the different flavors therein. Which was not my point. My point was, for example, my wife, who has a PhD in science, nearly two decades in her field (a private company, not pharma) and makes a very satisfactory living.* However, she makes less than half what her equivalent in the marketing and sales branch makes. She makes just a hair more than newly hired salesmen. The point is not what kind of science should one go into but that, even at these "scientific" companies, the money is not in being a scientist but in being the business guy.

This has to be a supply/demand issue, doesn't it? I mean, if the company could find satisfactory sales people cheaper, they certainly would.
   1441. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:24 AM (#4722373)
It's funny how conservatives like to boast about how thousands of applicants lining up in the rain for a few Wal-Mart jobs proves the beneficence of Wal-Mart, but at the same time it apparently says nothing about the willingness of unemployed people to work.

Lots of people want to work. Most unemployed people want to work. No one is disputing that.

However, there exists a hard core of welfare dependents that have lost the work ethic, and the basic skills to do even entry level work, through multiple generations on the dole. There are also scammers, who work off the books, or just sponge off their mothers and girlfriends, and whatever they can pick up from the gov't.

The two groups require radical different solutions. We're only talking about the hard core and scammers now.

You've heard my speech about how to help the blue collar worker many times before.
   1442. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:28 AM (#4722374)
Now, as for Andy's idea of having the government pour money into pharma research. They do. They have. Hasn't had any better luck than the companies (a little worse, actually, though there are excellent government scientists).

Questions:

What's the financial incentive for the government pharma researchers vs. the incentives for those employed by Big Pharma? Who takes home the most money at the end of the year?

And when the government group comes up with a breakthrough drug, what's the retail price of the drug, compared to the retail price of a drug developed by Merck or Pfizer? I know it will vary, but I'm talking about averages and tendencies.

Just to be clear, under my proposal any breakthrough drug developed by government scientists / engineers would be priced for maximum affordability, and considered as a long term social investment in the nation's health.
   1443. Publius Publicola Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:28 AM (#4722375)
That stat is from 2005, the absolute peak of the housing boom. I'm sure it's much worse today.


If we had a more equitable tax code and a more equitable work compensation system, a lot of this could be solved. The rich are not taxed nearly enough and they are paid too much. A smoothing out of the economic extremes would have the dual benefit of providing more jobs and stimulating the economy so people aren't compelled to ask for assistance.
   1444. bunyon Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:28 AM (#4722376)
This has to be a supply/demand issue, doesn't it? I mean, if the company could find satisfactory sales people cheaper, they certainly would.

Perhaps. I really don't know. It doesn't change my point. In fact, it enhances it. The way business is done today and the way people are compensated, you would be crazy to choose science as a profession if you have other choices.
   1445. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:28 AM (#4722377)
My plans would make more money available for those who need it, by getting the scammers out of the system (e.g. people who collect while working off the books, or in illegal occupations), and reducing taxpayer resistance to programs for the needy.


And all this extra enforcement, red tape,and other layers of bureaucracy you are putting in, all that is free? You act as if the current programs just hand money out to random people who ask, but that is not how it works. There is already a bunch of layers of bureaucracy and many "scammers" are already weeded out. Each additional person you weed out costs money and runs the risk of weeding out someone who deserves the aid.

The relative pennies we spend on the scammers is not the biggest area of waste in the government, not even close. turn your frugal eyes elsewhere.
   1446. villageidiom Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:32 AM (#4722379)
In fact I have been a strong supporter of the idea of a minimum income for all Americans, which has much less moral hazard than the current system.
Without regulated pricing, a minimum income will do no good. I easily see rent and retail costs for food rising in the wake of a minimum income. If the poor can afford more, the businesses in service to the poor will simply take a greater share because they can.

I'm not advocating regulated pricing. I'm just saying a minimum income only works in an "all other things equal" way, but all other things won't be equal in response.
   1447. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:33 AM (#4722380)
However, there exists a hard core of welfare dependents that have lost the work ethic, and the basic skills to do even entry level work, through multiple generations on the dole. There are also scammers, who work off the books, or just sponge off their mothers and girlfriends, and whatever they can pick up from the gov't.

The two groups require radical different solutions. We're only talking about the hard core and scammers now.


And you have not shown how big a group this hard core really is, how much they cost, or how you would separate them out from the non-hard core any better than is done today.

It sounds like you are willing to pay more in enforcement just to insure none of the undesirables get anything from "the dole". Even if it is cheaper to just pay the leeches you don't want to, even if some innocent also get hurt in the bargain. I don't feel that way, because even the leeches are people, and as I said up front I am not angry at them, I pity them, because they are broken, just as broken as many of the others who legitimately can't work.
   1448. bunyon Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:33 AM (#4722381)

And when the government group comes up with a breakthrough drug, what's the retail price of the drug, compared to the retail price of a drug developed by Merck or Pfizer? I know it will vary, but I'm talking about averages and tendencies.


When they come up with one, we'll see.


Actually, it's a helluva lot more complex than that. There is basic research feeding into the applied research feeding into the very expensive (and difficult and complex) trials for efficacy and safety. There are no modern drugs where you can reliably say "this guy (or these guys) came up with the drug". It just doesn't work that way.
   1449. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:34 AM (#4722382)
This has to be a supply/demand issue, doesn't it? I mean, if the company could find satisfactory sales people cheaper, they certainly would.


I don't think so. It's an information problem. One of the issues with science its that it is very difficult to identify the good scientists. Much research is actually engineering; the good engineers are pretty easy to pick out. But the kind of science that's really valuable is almost definitionally hard to identify because it involves thinking of something that no one else has thought of, and then finding applications for the little area of the known-unknown frontier that the gifted scientist has tamed.

Contrast sales - the company knows, literally in a quarter, who the good salesmen are. It might take a decade or two to figure out which scientists are capable of creating a revolutionary (and lucrative, when applied by others) advance. Look how many tenure mistakes there are on big science faculties.

   1450. bunyon Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:36 AM (#4722384)

It sounds like you are willing to pay more in enforcement just to insure none of the undesirables get anything from "the dole". Even if it is cheaper to just pay the leeches you don't want to, even if some innocent also get hurt in the bargain. I don't feel that way, because even the leeches are people, and as I said up front I am not angry at them, I pity them, because they are broken, just as broken as many of the others who legitimately can't work.


Again, Mouse, life isn't static. In a system where a person can simply choose not to work and live comfortably, eventually, lots of people will do that. You can say they're broken but if working people look out at able bodied folks lazing around and living off of them they will: a) get resentful and b) think that that doesn't look so bad. You want a system that gives incentive to people to accomplish stuff and be productive. What you're describing isn't it. It may make a lot of financial sense to simply pay those folks off but it ignores the behavior of real human beings.
   1451. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:38 AM (#4722386)
It's funny how conservatives like to boast about how thousands of applicants lining up in the rain for a few Wal-Mart jobs proves the beneficence of Wal-Mart, but at the same time it apparently says nothing about the willingness of unemployed people to work.

Lots of people want to work. Most unemployed people want to work. No one is disputing that.

However, there exists a hard core of welfare dependents that have lost the work ethic, and the basic skills to do even entry level work, through multiple generations on the dole. There are also scammers, who work off the books, or just sponge off their mothers and girlfriends, and whatever they can pick up from the gov't.


I have no problem with going after that relatively small number of serial moochers, which would also require quite a bit of funding for welfare investigators. As you well know, some of these moochers may be downright clever in disguising their methods of mooching, and won't give themselves up voluntarily.

And while we're on the topic of scammers and moochers, I assume you'd also be willing to radically increase the IRS's auditing budget, and target the high income groups whose undeclared income and unpaid taxes makes up a far greater percentage of our national debt than the activities of the sort of people you're talking about. Am I right in that assumption, or is this when you switch gears and start talking about Big Brother?
   1452. bunyon Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:38 AM (#4722387)
I don't think so. It's an information problem. One of the issues with science its that it is very difficult to identify the good scientists. Much research is really engineering; those folks are pretty easy to pick out. But the kind of science that's really valuable is almost definitionally hard to identify because it involves thinking of something that no one else has thought of, and then finding applications for the little area of the known-unknown frontier that the gifted scientist has tamed.

Contrast sales - the company knows, literally in a quarter, who the good salesmen are. It might take a decade or two to figure out which scientists are capable of creating a revolutionary (and lucrative, when applied by others) advance. Look how many tenure mistakes there are on big science faculties.


Not to mention that a "great scientists" may have, literally, one such great idea in a career.* That really isn't unusual. Were they great or lucky? Hard to know. Lots of us have zero great ideas. :)

I think some of the pay difference is also who decides pay. If scientists were the ones deciding pay, scientists would probably be most valued (I'm doing that in my arguments). Really, a company does need both. But, IMO, it's out of whack at the moment.

* This is why Einstein and Newton are held in such regard. They had several truly earth shattering insights. Even then, you can count those insights on your fingers. It is a very rare person who has more than one. Take Kary Mullis (PCR Nobel). That was basically it. To hear him describe it, it was a drug induced flash of an idea. He and some others fleshed it out. It's an incredible idea - one that seems obvious and simple now. But that was basically it for him. In a financial system, what do you pay for that? If you hire him, you can expect he probably isn't going to have another such idea.
   1453. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:40 AM (#4722390)
Without regulated pricing, a minimum income will do no good. I easily see rent and retail costs for food rising in the wake of a minimum income. If the poor can afford more, the businesses in service to the poor will simply take a greater share because they can.

I'm not advocating regulated pricing. I'm just saying a minimum income only works in an "all other things equal" way, but all other things won't be equal in response.


This isn't really true. prices are a function of supply and demand. A minimum income would give every person a minimum purchasing power. In total their income would likely go up. Yes that would increase their demand some, but almost certainly not enough to reduce their income back to where it was, especially with substitution effects.

A substitution effect is, as the name implies, you substitute one good for a roughly equivalent good. Corn, wheat and rice are to some degree all substitutes. As your income grows from very low upwards the range of possible substitutes also grows (there are more choices once you get past buying the absolute cheapest of everything).

Also remember that it is not like merchants will be able to selectively raise prices to the poor and no one else. They raise prices and everyone notices, everyone pays some. Rich people buy wheat, rice and corn as well.

The final point, is at the moment our economy is in "meh-land" largely because of demand shortfall, more money spent by the poor (as opposed to that money being saved or invested by the more well off) is exactly what the economy needs. We need an increase in demand to kick start things.
   1454. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:43 AM (#4722391)
And while we're on the topic of scammers and moochers, I assume you'd also be willing to radically increase the IRS's auditing budget, and target the high income groups whose undeclared income and unpaid taxes makes up a far greater percentage of our national debt than the activities of the sort of people you're talking about. Am I right in that assumption, or is this when you switch gears and start talking about Big Brother?


Andy, you're so quick to demonize the rich that it's amusing. DO you have evidence to support the notion that the rich engage in widepsread tax fraud? Because my experience, both professional and personal, is tax fraud among the rich is extremely rare. Rather, rich folks are engaging in legal tax avoidance that would stand up to any audit. I'd wager that the undeclared income and unpaid taxes of the rich is vanishingly small, absent evidence to the contrary.

You may be arguing that the tax code needs to be reformed to close loopholes for the rich with your usual demonize-the-rich, spittle-flecked rhetoric, but folks paying taxes legally, albeit optimally, is not the same as welfare scamming.

(I don't mean to imply here that the rich don't scam because they're better than the welfare folks, but they have more to lose if caught committing fraud and the marginal value of the money saved is far less. The calculus weighs strongly against fraud. Basically, every rich guy I know who committed tax fraud had major psychiatric issues. It's not rational behavior.)
   1455. bunyon Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:46 AM (#4722394)
Come on, zop. Paying off Congress to shift the tax code in their favor is every bit the moral wrong that simply lying on a tax return is. One is available only to the rich and the other to everyone. To let the rich off because their moral wrong is legal is BS.
   1456. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:46 AM (#4722395)
And all this extra enforcement, red tape,and other layers of bureaucracy you are putting in, all that is free? You act as if the current programs just hand money out to random people who ask, but that is not how it works. There is already a bunch of layers of bureaucracy and many "scammers" are already weeded out. Each additional person you weed out costs money and runs the risk of weeding out someone who deserves the aid.

The relative pennies we spend on the scammers is not the biggest area of waste in the government, not even close. turn your frugal eyes elsewhere.


I don't care if it costs more.

The goal of welfare should be to help people transition into productive, self-sufficient lives. Our current system doesn't do that.

Again, Mouse, life isn't static. In a system where a person can simply choose not to work and live comfortably, eventually, lots of people will do that. You can say they're broken but if working people look out at able bodied folks lazing around and living off of them they will: a) get resentful and b) think that that doesn't look so bad. You want a system that gives incentive to people to accomplish stuff and be productive. What you're describing isn't it. It may make a lot of financial sense to simply pay those folks off but it ignores the behavior of real human beings.

Exactly.

Take a look at the Danish system. They have very generous unemployment/retraining benefits, but very strict work/job-search requirements.

The more you monitor, the more generous benefits can be without producing perverse incentives.
   1457. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:47 AM (#4722396)
Again, Mouse, life isn't static. In a system where a person can simply choose not to work and live comfortably, eventually, lots of people will do that. You can say they're broken but if working people look out at able bodied folks lazing around and living off of them they will: a) get resentful and b) think that that doesn't look so bad. You want a system that gives incentive to people to accomplish stuff and be productive. What you're describing isn't it. It may make a lot of financial sense to simply pay those folks off but it ignores the behavior of real human beings.


One of the reasons I favor a minimum income safety net is this reduction in moral hazard. If I get $15,000 (or whatever) automatically and can supplement it however I want by working, then if I can (able and jobs available) most people will do so and will enter the workforce. There are some, who would rather not work, who can't work (for whatever reason) or maybe their are no jobs. They don't fall through the cracks. You are describing exactly why minimum income is better than the current system.

However, once again, the current system has checks and balances that reduce scammers. All you (and others) are saying is that we need to spend more to reduce the number of such leeches. Surely you realize there is a balance, where it costs more to get rid of them than it benefit is gained from doing so? Diminishing marginal returns ensures there is such a point, and it exists while there are still scammers in the system.

Are you suggesting the highest moral imperative is to eliminate all scammers, no matter the cost? Or are you suggesting we are not yet at the correct enforcement balance? Because the existence of some scammers does not mean we are not spending enough to eliminate them, any more than the existence of some unsolved crime doesn't mean we are not spending enough on the police.
   1458. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:50 AM (#4722399)
If we had a more equitable tax code and a more equitable work compensation system, a lot of this could be solved. The rich are not taxed nearly enough and they are paid too much. A smoothing out of the economic extremes would have the dual benefit of providing more jobs and stimulating the economy so people aren't compelled to ask for assistance.

True, but a completely separate issue.

Taxation won't fix anything, since the rich are very, very good at evading taxes. They'll move their wealth off-shore if need be.

To redress the growing income/wealth imbalance, you have to attack the root cause, globalization.
   1459. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:50 AM (#4722400)
Come on, zop. Paying off Congress to shift the tax code in their favor is every bit the moral wrong that simply lying on a tax return is. One is available only to the rich and the other to everyone. To let the rich off because their moral wrong is legal is BS.


Why is it a moral wrong? Bribing Congress is a moral wrong. Campaign contributions aren't. Isn't the whole point of a democratic and capitalist society that the rules are set and then you can do anything legal within those rules to advance your self interest? I have no patience for "moral" wrongs, on either end, because that's just someone applying their biases and social constructs on someone who may not share them. Don't judge the poor or the rich, because if a big chunk of either are engaging in a certain type of behavior, the odds are you would too if you were in their shoes.

The rules are the rules. You get to play within the rules to the best of your ability. If you don't like the rules, you can try to change the rules, and there are rules on how to change the rules. Other than that, I don't really see why anyone should give a #### about bunyon's personal moral code (and as it turns out, people don't give a ####, as evidenced by how they act).
   1460. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:51 AM (#4722401)
The distinction between people who want to work and don't is largely irrelevant from a big picture policy perspective. We don't have a machine that can read people's minds, so there's no way to tell who genuinely wants to work and who's a leech. All we can do is set up a system that provides basic necessities and procedures for policing scams. IOW, as a practical matter, saying that we don't want to help people who don't want to work is a platitude that doesn't advance the ball.
   1461. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:51 AM (#4722402)
And when the government group comes up with a breakthrough drug, what's the retail price of the drug, compared to the retail price of a drug developed by Merck or Pfizer? I know it will vary, but I'm talking about averages and tendencies.

When they come up with one, we'll see.

Actually, it's a helluva lot more complex than that. There is basic research feeding into the applied research feeding into the very expensive (and difficult and complex) trials for efficacy and safety. There are no modern drugs where you can reliably say "this guy (or these guys) came up with the drug". It just doesn't work that way.


Bunyon, I appreciate your sticking with me as I try to frame this whole issue in an apples to apples framework. Let me try it another way that might get more directly to the point I'm trying to make. I'm not saying this would be the ideal solution, but it puts the issue in stark relief.

Let's imagine a hypothetical WWII emergency (no nuclear weapons involved) where finding cures for chronic diseases was determined to be an emergency national goal.

In response, the government drafted all the scientists and engineers who were working for the Big Pharma companies**, and basically de-privatized our current system of developing and bringing new drugs to the consumer. The government would bear all the costs and risks of the sort that Big Pharma now assumes, but when new drugs get developed the profits would go to mass distribution of the drugs to those who need them, regardless of their ability to pay. IOW these new drugs would all be treated like the Salk vaccine or the Sabin sugar cubes, only directed at those who needed them, as opposed to universal application.

Throw away all ideological considerations. What would be the upside and the downside of such a fundamental move?

**While maintaining their previous salaries.

   1462. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:52 AM (#4722403)
The goal of welfare should be to help people transition into productive, self-sufficient lives. Our current system doesn't do that.


Nope. The goal of the safety net to is make sure that every person has a minimum level of support from society, to make sure no one (or as few as possible) fall through the cracks. And there is a special emphasis on the most needy, the children, the physically and mentally unfit.

There are many levers of society that exist to help people be productive and self sufficient and they are very worthwhile. Education, job training, counseling, and numerous other services. Many great services, which often I suspect, more than pay for themselves.

But at the bottom, after everything else is done and said, you make sure every person gets what they need, health care, food, clothing and so on, even if they are scammers.
   1463. bunyon Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:53 AM (#4722406)
So the rules are the rules? Really?

You had no issue with slavery? Segregation? Why is bribing congress a moral wrong? Just because it's against the rules? Actually, the way it is done now it isn't against the rules, so it isn't a wrong?

No one should care about my particular moral code, no. But there has to be some sort of generally agreed upon moral code else, "rules are all that matter" will lead, inevitably, to all manner of deprivation.
   1464. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:53 AM (#4722407)
The goal of the safety net to is make sure that every person has a minimum level of support from society, to make sure no one (or as few as possible) fall through the cracks.


This may be a dumb question, but why?
   1465. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:55 AM (#4722408)
Taxation won't fix anything, since the rich are very, very good at evading taxes. They'll move their wealth off-shore if need be.


The rich seem to be willing to spend enormous amounts of money to make sure those taxes they can easily avoid are as low as possible. If it is as toothless as you say, then why do they fight like crazed weasels to keep taxes as low as possible? And hey, since it won't help, but won't hurt, let's raise those taxes right now and then move onto other issues.
   1466. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:55 AM (#4722409)
One of the reasons I favor a minimum income safety net is this reduction in moral hazard. If I get $15,000 (or whatever) automatically and can supplement it however I want by working, then if I can (able and jobs available) most people will do so and will enter the workforce. There are some, who would rather not work, who can't work (for whatever reason) or maybe their are no jobs. They don't fall through the cracks. You are describing exactly why minimum income is better than the current system.

We've been over this. The required level of taxation to fund that would absolutely crush any work incentive for all but the highest earners. $15K per adult would require $3.6 Trillion p.a., more than double current revenue.
   1467. bunyon Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:56 AM (#4722410)

**While maintaining their previous salaries.


What if the project produces no drugs?* How long do you keep the scientists on at their previous salaries?


* And it very well might not. Finding good, safe drugs is hard.
   1468. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:57 AM (#4722411)
The rich seem to be willing to spend enormous amounts of money to make sure those taxes they can easily avoid are as low as possible.


Gosh, I don't think its true at all. The amount of money that is contributed to politicians is tiny! It always amazes me that folks get up in arms about someone who (gasp) raised $10,000,000 for XYZ politican. That's nothing for those guys! The funniest part about the gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands is that the rich basically don't spend nearly on much on politics as they would if there were real money at stake.*


*The only exception I've witnessed being the hardcore crony capitalist types - military contractors, certain banks, etc.
   1469. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 10, 2014 at 09:58 AM (#4722412)
The rich seem to be willing to spend enormous amounts of money to make sure those taxes they can easily avoid are as low as possible. If it is as toothless as you say, then why do they fight like crazed weasels to keep taxes as low as possible? And hey, since it won't help, but won't hurt, let's raise those taxes right now and then move onto other issues.

The amounts they spend are trivial compared to what they save.

Even under the mid-20th century 90% marginal tax rates, the rich didn't pay them. They had plenty of deductions and tax shelters built into the code.

You can't tax the wealth of the rich away that simply. They have too much control of the process. The burden will simply fall on the upper middle class.

You need to attack the source of the growing wealth, which is bound up in globalization, corrupt corporate governance, and crony capitalism.

Basically, we need to radically reduce the return on capital, and increase the returns on labor. They are way out of balance versus historic norms.
   1470. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 10, 2014 at 10:02 AM (#4722414)
This may be a dumb question, but why?


It is not a dumb question at all. A perfectly legitimate case can be made that it shouldn't be. Most of the world seems to be moving in the direction - in a de facto way at any rate - of saying through their actions that what I stated is the goal. The UN has passed (ooh! ahhh!) multiple things suggesting it, and many religions also seem to favor it to one degree or another.

Still it is not an ironclad mandate, it is something I however feel is an important, in fact perhaps THE important aspect, of a civilization.

But everyone has a different take on this I admit.

Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.~Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973), My Several Worlds [1954].

The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization.
~Samuel Johnson, Boswell: Life of Johnson

The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities.~John E. E. Dalberg, Lord Acton, The History of Freedom in Antiquity, [1877].

"...the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped. " ~ Last Speech of Hubert H. Humphrey

"A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." ~ Mahatma Ghandi

"Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members -- the last, the least, the littlest."
~Cardinal Roger Mahony, In a 1998 letter, Creating a Culture of Life

The greatness of America is in how it treats its weakest members: the elderly, the infirm, the handicapped, the underprivileged, the unborn. ~Bill Federer

"A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members and among the most vulnerable are surely the unborn and the dying," ~Pope John Paul II
   1471. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 10, 2014 at 10:03 AM (#4722416)
Andy, you're so quick to demonize the rich that it's amusing.

I have nothing against the rich per se. Don't confuse me with Sugar Bear. I just think that Warren Buffett was onto something when he said he shouldn't be paying a smaller percentage of his income in taxes than his secretary.

DO you have evidence to support the notion that the rich engage in widepsread tax fraud? Because my experience, both professional and personal, is tax fraud among the rich is extremely rare. Rather, rich folks are engaging in legal tax avoidance that would stand up to any audit. I'd wager that the undeclared income and unpaid taxes of the rich is vanishingly small, absent evidence to the contrary.

You may be arguing that the tax code needs to be reformed to close loopholes for the rich with your usual demonize-the-rich, spittle-flecked rhetoric, but folks paying taxes legally, albeit optimally, is not the same as welfare scamming.


Those are fair questions, and I'd respond by saying that the power to rig the tax codes towards one's advantage is indeed a form of scamming.

As for how much this costs us, the estimates might vary, but here are a few estimates.

Now admittedly that last estimate is a bit lower than the first two. Of course the fact that it's from 1920 might have somethng to do with the discrepancy.
   1472. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 10, 2014 at 10:04 AM (#4722417)
We've been over this. The required level of taxation to fund that would absolutely crush any work incentive for all but the highest earners. $15K per adult would require $3.6 Trillion p.a., more than double current revenue.


And you are still wrong. If you tax an average of $15,000 from everyone and give everyone $15,000 it does almost nothing, except transfer money from the rich to the poor (those that can not afford the tax, but still get the money).
   1473. GregD Posted: June 10, 2014 at 10:05 AM (#4722419)
Another good response to Wade's book.


The soft bigotry of low expectations! Excerpts from the "good response"

As many others have pointed out, the book is riddled with scientific and logical flaws, and the overall impression you get from Wade is not of a science journalist, but an unhinged racist who thinks his views are ok because he’s “telling it like it is”. And it is tempting to simply ignore him. But, unfortunately, I think this book needs to be dealt with seriously, because while this particular work may be dismissible, the line of reasoning it represents is both very dangerous, and here to stay.


It turns out to be far easier to demonstrate that there has been a fair amount of recent natural selection acting on the human population, than it is to pinpoint specific examples, or to rigorously evaluate specific hypotheses. The reason is that different types of evolution (drift, positive selection, purifying selection) leave different fingerprints in the genome, and we can use these to estimate how prevalent each of these forces has been in human history, and, to a lesser extent, identify regions of the genome that have been subject to certain types of selection.

But the effect of specific examples of selection are almost always weak – especially the kinds of transient selection affecting relatively small groups of people on which Wade hangs his speculation. Furthermore, while natural selection leaves a signal behind in the genome, the signal is primarily that it happened – it’s much more difficult to precisely identify what was being selected, let alone why or how.



In making the leap from the broad to the specific – from signature of natural selection in the human genome to explanations of the industrial revolution, Jewish Nobel Prizes and political turmoil in Africa and the Middle East – Wade tries to paint himself as a courageous scholar, going places with modern evolutionary biology that scientists WILL not go. But the truth is that scientists don’t go there, not because we are afraid to, but because we CAN’T. The data we have before us simply do not allow us to reconstruct human evolutionary history in this way.


Wade weaves a bunch of yarns about how natural selection could have affected some phenotype using the language of modern genetics. But genetics is a science, not a series of fairy tales. Wade ignores the the fact that geneticists have developed a sophisticated set of approaches and tools designed specifically to answer the kind of questions he is raising – approaches and tools that have failed to uncover evidence for the kind of things Wade is trying to convince us must have been true. He can not have it both ways – he can not wear the mantle of a geneticist, but reject its precepts when they are inconvenient.

My concern about this runs deeper than annoyance at someone for failing to use the tools of my trade, or for cleaving to our authority. The scientific method arose as a way to understand the world because the kind of just-so storytelling that Wade is engaging in is useless. Is it a surprise that Wade just happens to find evolutionary explanations for the most pervasive racist attitudes of the day? Of course not. Because unmoored from data and logical rigor, one can make up an evolutionary explanation for anything.


He seems to think that the science described in the first part of his book lends support to his theories. But in fact, it is categorically opposed to it.

This, to me, is the real danger of this work. By using the language of genetics to tell his stories, Wade is trying to obscure the distinction between science and storytelling. He is trying not just to make it ok to voice racist theories about the origins of human phenotypic variation, he is yearning to give them the validity of science. And he has to, because without the imprimatur of genetics, Wade’s stories really are nothing more than rewarmed racist rants.


And it terrifies me that more people will follow Wade’s lead and use the reality of genetic variation and natural selection in humans to justify to themselves and others whatever it is they want to believe about humanity


This is why it is so important that scientists speak out about not just this book, but all of the related efforts now and in the future to distort science in this way. We are all used to fights with people who overtly reject science – creationists, climate change denialists, anti-vaccine wackaloons and GMO fearmongers. But here we are dealing with someone who is, on the surface at least, CELEBRATING science. But just as we speak out forcefully to explain what science does say (evolution and climate change are real, vaccines and GMOs are safe), we have to be equally forceful in communicating what science can not, or at least does not yet, say.
   1474. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: June 10, 2014 at 10:06 AM (#4722421)
The basis of any just society is a fair day's pay for a fair day's work.

But that really isn't the basis of our society. Look at severance packages, for example. The magazine portion of Time just got spunoff and the stories mentioned the woman they brought in to try to fix things; she lasted a very short amount of time and got $20 mil when they shitcanned her.

Hillary Clinton gets more for a speech than is "fair," because organizations know she might be in power again someday, and they want to curry favor.

A-Rod gets way more than a "fair day's" pay because the public subsidizes a big chunk of the Yankee expense ledger.

Etc., etc., etc.

Your precept may work for a truly capitalist society, but it doesn't work for a winner-take-all, rent-seeking, crony capitalist one.

   1475. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 10, 2014 at 10:07 AM (#4722422)
You can't tax the wealth of the rich away that simply. They have too much control of the process. The burden will simply fall on the upper middle class.

You need to attack the source of the growing wealth, which is bound up in globalization, corrupt corporate governance, and crony capitalism.

Basically, we need to radically reduce the return on capital, and increase the returns on labor. They are way out of balance versus historic norms.


In other words, gosh why try? We can never raise taxes, so instead let's attack something easy, like the fundamental structure of the economy. Because I am positive no one will fight back when we try to change that. Really? That is your argument, hiking up the hill is too hard, let's climb Everest instead?

And by the way Thomas Piketty and his recent book disagree with your statement about returns on capital versus labor.
   1476. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: June 10, 2014 at 10:07 AM (#4722423)
The UN has passed (ooh! ahhh!) multiple things suggesting it, and many religions also seem to favor it to one degree or another.

Still it is not an ironclad mandate, it is something I however feel is an important, in fact perhaps THE important aspect, of a civilization.


My problem with an argument based in morality is that the same argument can be used against, for example, gays. Many religions deem it amoral. The world is split - some of the world strongly pro, some strongly against.

Any moral argument is fundamentally personal. I think X because, well, I think it's "right". Moral arguments are weak, because if I think X is "wrong", that's just as compelling. If you're going to advocate for a strong safety net, you need to argue for it in non-moral terms, because otherwise the only way change happens is if everyone decides to agree with your morals - which can happen, but is very rare, and can also cut the other way.

I think there must be a strong, non-moral argument for a robust safety net, but I never hear it articulated in this thread.
   1477. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 10, 2014 at 10:12 AM (#4722426)
I think there must be a strong, non-moral argument for a robust safety net, but I never hear it articulated in this thread.


There is. I will articulate it later (assuming I remember), but I really must be at some bill paying activity now.
   1478. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: June 10, 2014 at 10:21 AM (#4722431)
   1479. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: June 10, 2014 at 10:22 AM (#4722432)
I think there must be a strong, non-moral argument for a robust safety net, but I never hear it articulated in this thread.

Simple -- the poor and middle class have a greater propensity to consume than the rich and consumption is the engine that drives the capitalist system. Many economists argue, quite persuasively, that the economy's stagnation is due to an insufficient amount of money -- through wages and transfer payments -- in the hands of consumers.

IOW, capital's 35-year war against labor has, paradoxically, threatened capital's profitability. It's taken money out of the hands of people who would otherwise be consuming capital's output.
   1480. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: June 10, 2014 at 10:24 AM (#4722435)
In other words, gosh why try? We can never raise taxes, so instead let's attack something easy, like the fundamental structure of the economy. Because I am positive no one will fight back when we try to change that. Really? That is your argument, hiking up the hill is too hard, let's climb Everest instead?


Well, to succeed you have to frame the argument as something other than zero-sum. I.e., you are not taking from the rich to give to the poor, but you are taking from the rich to make everyone richer, rich and poor alike.
   1481. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: June 10, 2014 at 10:28 AM (#4722437)

IOW, capital's 35-year war against labor has, paradoxically, threatened capital's profitability.


And yet, capital is more profitable than ever and continues to grow more profitable with each passing year . . .
   1482. GregD Posted: June 10, 2014 at 10:30 AM (#4722439)
Simple -- the poor and middle class have a greater propensity to consume than the rich and consumption is the engine that drives the capitalist system. Many economists argue, quite persuasively, that the economy's stagnation is due to an insufficient amount of money -- through wages and transfer payments -- in the hands of consumers.


This plus the fact that a safety net, if properly designed, actual increases long-term labor participation. Many people have periods of temporary unemployment. Without a safety net, they used to do things like go to debtors' prison or live in the woods. This made it harder for them to get jobs, both because you can't get a job from debtors' prison and because they became less employable as they lacked addresses, basic hygiene etc.

A rational society tides people over between these setbacks so as to keep their long-term employment prospects strong. A punitive society punishes them and makes them less employable and then denounces them for their lack of interest in work.

Additionally, support for mothers is rational for most societies since we all depend on those children growing up to be productive citizens, and we benefit by women being able to maintain their long-term employment prospects. Systems that kept them home exclusively and for long periods had perverse effects, but systems that have them working 40-50 hours per week also have perverse effects, so many societies organize this differently than we do so as to 1) bridge women's employments prospects through their 30s so they have productive careers after their reproductive years are over and 2) give them time at home in the crucial first years.

But then again most other societies are more committed to family values than the United States is.
   1483. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: June 10, 2014 at 10:32 AM (#4722443)
And yet, capital is more profitable than ever and continues to grow more profitable with each passing year . . .

Through financial machinations, asset bubbles and the like, that are bound to end.

And that's only deployed capital. There is a large amount of accumulated capital on the sidelines, unable to find any profitable outlet.
   1484. tshipman Posted: June 10, 2014 at 10:33 AM (#4722444)
If you're going to advocate for a strong safety net, you need to argue for it in non-moral terms, because otherwise the only way change happens is if everyone decides to agree with your morals - which can happen, but is very rare, and can also cut the other way.


Strong social safety nets benefit society. They free people up to take risks, creating more successful businesses. They expand opportunity, creating more potential people who can have those once in a lifetime original thoughts. The reason why I support strong social safety nets, beyond the moral component, is that it improves society. Imagine if the person who was going to create a cure for Hodgkin's Lymphoma died from pneumonia in a suburb of New Jersey. Their parents didn't have health insurance, so they ignored some danger signs. When they finally took their child to the hospital, it was too late.

Human capital is better preserved by a strong social safety net.
   1485. Publius Publicola Posted: June 10, 2014 at 10:38 AM (#4722449)
Let's imagine a hypothetical WWII emergency (no nuclear weapons involved) where finding cures for chronic diseases was determined to be an emergency national goal.

It is an emergency national goal:

Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority
Over the last decade, our nation has responded to deliberate biological attacks – the mailing of anthrax-laden letters – and severe naturally occurring disease outbreaks including SARS and the 2009-H1N1 influenza pandemic. On October 4, 2011, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) issued the BARDA Strategic Plan 2011-2016, which articulates the guiding principles, goals, and strategies it will implement to enhance the capability of the U.S. government to develop medical countermeasures (MCMs) to these and other natural and intentional threats to public health.

BARDA develops and procures needed MCMs, including vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and non-pharmaceutical countermeasures, against a broad array of public health threats, whether natural or intentional in origin.

The BARDA Strategic Plan 2011-2016 emphasizes five goals BARDA will use to accomplish its mission:


Goal 1: An advanced development pipeline replete with medical countermeasures and platforms to address unmet public health needs, emphasizing innovation, flexibility, multi-purpose and broad spectrum application, and long-term sustainability.
Goal 2: A capability base to provide enabling core services to medical countermeasure innovators.
Goal 3: Agile, robust and sustainable U.S. manufacturing infrastructure capable of rapidly producing vaccines and other biologics against pandemic influenza and other emerging threats
Goal 4: Responsive and nimble programs and capabilities to address novel and emerging threats
Goal 5: A ready capability to develop, manufacture and facilitate distribution of medical countermeasures during public health emergencies
   1486. GregD Posted: June 10, 2014 at 10:39 AM (#4722450)
Strong social safety nets benefit society. They free people up to take risks, creating more successful businesses.


This is one of the reasons why I supported ACA, whatever its limitations. Moving over time to shift insurance from employers frees a lot of people to try to make it as entrepreneurs. Many of them will fail, of course, but I think encouraging people to try to start small businesses is good policy. And many, many people have stayed at jobs solely for the insurance. I'm optimistic that will shift over the next years.
   1487. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: June 10, 2014 at 10:44 AM (#4722455)
Is there any question that the US, England, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, etc. have produced the greatest, most productive, and most innovative economies in world history? I don't think it's an accident that all of them are democracies with strong centralized governments and safety nets.
   1488. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 10, 2014 at 10:52 AM (#4722462)
OK, I don't have to answer the question, it was answered very well by multiple people above.

What everyone said, but an emphasis (for me) on the fact that Human Capital is the most valuable capital around. Society needs to invest and protect its capital.

Plus I think there is a moral component. The Veil of ignorance is a useful construct to think about this topic.
   1489. GregD Posted: June 10, 2014 at 10:53 AM (#4722463)
Another good response to Wade's book.
Bitter, I realize I misread your sarcasm. My bad!
   1490. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 10, 2014 at 10:53 AM (#4722467)
Publius (#1485),

That's an interesting link. Now what if we were to extend such a program beyond communicable disease prevention in emergency situations and onto degenerative disease prevention and amelioration?
   1491. Ray (RDP) Posted: June 10, 2014 at 10:56 AM (#4722469)
This is why she's a terrible campaigner and a disingenuous person, pretending that her financial situation was just like the people struggling to make ends meet at Walmart. NY Daily News:

Hillary Clinton backed off describing her post White House days as a financial struggle Tuesday...

In her first live TV interview for her book, Clinton told Robin Roberts that she can "fully appreciate how hard life is for so many Americans today.”

The former secretary of state had told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in an interview aired Monday that the couple “struggled” financially when they departed the White House in 2001, with millions in debt. As a result, Bill Clinton launched a lucrative career on the speaking circuit, earning more than $100 million in speaking fees since 2001.

But Hillary justified the financial windfall on “Good Morning America,” saying, “Everything in life has to be put into context.”

“It’s just the reality, what we faced when he got out of the White House meant that we had to just keep working really hard ... as I recall we were something like $12 million in debt,” she said on the morning show.
   1492. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 10, 2014 at 10:57 AM (#4722470)
Bitter, I realize I misread your sarcasm. My bad!


Mostly it was a different response, I actually don't have an opinion good or bad on it. It is pretty frontal which I found amusing, so in that sense it is "good". But it wasn't sarcasm (or endorsement), just pointing to it.
   1493. Joey B. has reignited his October #Natitude Posted: June 10, 2014 at 11:11 AM (#4722480)
Many economists argue, quite persuasively, that the economy's stagnation is due to an insufficient amount of money -- through wages and transfer payments -- in the hands of consumers.

When wealth (or the illusion of wealth created by excessive credit and leverage), was abundant, a lot of people in this country invested it stupidly. That's why we had a housing bubble; too many of us fell for the "Flip this House" okeydoke.

The Great Unwinding is likely to go on for a while longer yet. Unlike our insane federal government, ordinary people aren't allowed to print money or accumulate unlimited debt without serious consequences.
   1494. Ray (RDP) Posted: June 10, 2014 at 11:23 AM (#4722486)
The "We shouldn't give welfare to people who are capable of working but choose not to" sidebar is amusing.

Even if we had perfect information about who is able to work but unwilling to do so, liberals would still want to give them money from the working class. And we haven't seen any of them deny that here -- indeed, BM has explicitly said so. Wealth redistribution is a core belief of liberals, for a variety of reasons -- to get votes, to punish people with wealth, etc. (witness Andy's regular scorn directed not only at the truly wealthy, but at middle class taxpayers who think they're overtaxed). So the discussion is sort of pointless.

   1495. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: June 10, 2014 at 11:25 AM (#4722489)
This is why she's a terrible campaigner and a disingenuous person


Does this mean you're thinking about not voting for her, Ray?
   1496. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: June 10, 2014 at 11:25 AM (#4722490)
Even if we had perfect information about who is able to work but unwilling to do so, liberals would still want to give them money from the working class.


Ray, you wouldn't know the working class if you stepped over them on your way to the office.
   1497. GregD Posted: June 10, 2014 at 11:26 AM (#4722491)
snapper, you endorse this?

Dems push to expand social security and shore up program finances by payroll tax that begins at $400,000


The new proposal is called the Retirement and Income Security Enhancements Act, or RAISE Act, and it would increase benefits specifically for groups who have seen their retirement security eroded by recent economic trends such as the transition to two-earner families, stagnating wages, declining savings, and the erosion of pensions. It would increase benefits for many divorced spouses, and widows and widowers, and would extend benefit eligibility for some children of retired, disabled or deceased workers – to be paid for by a two-percent payroll tax on earnings over $400,000, which is also designed to help shore up the program’s long-term finances.


Any bets on how many Republicans will back it?

Will that offer any insight into where the parties stand?
   1498. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 10, 2014 at 11:31 AM (#4722495)
Ray, you wouldn't know the working class if you stepped over them on your way to the office.


In fairness, I have to wonder how many regulars in this thread have direct experience with the working (or for that matter non-working, as in unemployed/unemployable) class. Certainly quite a few do; I suspect quite a few don't, & that the results don't necessarily reflect ideological stance.
   1499. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 10, 2014 at 11:31 AM (#4722496)
snapper, you endorse this?

I don't oppose the tax, but I don't think an expansion of Social Security benefits is a good use for it. Retirement benefits (SS and Medicare) are already on an unsustainable trajectory.

A much better use would be to fund a non-refundable payroll tax credit for working families with children.
   1500. JE (Jason) Posted: June 10, 2014 at 11:34 AM (#4722497)
Flip.
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