Sharing the Wealth (or not)

Discussion in 'General Discussion Forum' started by ScottXeno, Nov 26, 2008.

  1. Nullifidian

    Nullifidian First time out of the vault

    Nov 4, 2008
    I will agree with that statement for sure.

    My father is Hungarian and lives there with my step-mother and their kids. My half sister is going to a boarding school on Lake Balaton with an absolutely amazing curriculum ... for free. When my father told me all about it, I was dumbfounded. Kids who go there frequently start without knowing a word of English, and are fluent within 2 years. Positively amazing. If US public schools were even a fraction as good as Hungarian ones ... well .. I honestly can't even imagine what it'd be like to be honest.
  2. Nullifidian

    Nullifidian First time out of the vault

    Nov 4, 2008

    Ah, I see what you mean.

    The thing is, if you're job is a standard European job, you get a minimum of 4 weeks of vacation a year, and probably 6 or 8. That means you working 11 months, but probably 10, and 85% of THAT is taken. Your pay is also higher than that of someone in the USA doing the same thing. Base standard of living for you is much higher as well.

    The fact is, the Belgian economy (and for that matter most Europian economies) are so alien from the US economy that they can't be compared accurately. You pay taxes but get amazing things in return, your nation has workplace, wage, working condition, and other labor regulations that make work far more fair. You know what I get out of taxes? Roads, police, and a fire company. Oh and a public school that pales in comparison to virtually ANYTHING in Europe. I pay twice what you do for healthcare (you pay it in taxes, I pay it in premiums, deductibles, and copays), for lower quality service. I work longer hours for less pay.
  3. Patton89

    Patton89 Vault Dweller

    Nov 21, 2008
    Emmm...I disagree with: "public school that pales in comparison to virtually ANYTHING in Europe." PITA tests say otherwise. oh well...i guess its easier to make school system work perfectly when you DON'T have state separate laws..nothing like that in Finland or many european countries, if in any at all. Plus 280+ million is bit more than 5 million.
  4. SkynetV4

    SkynetV4 Mildly Dipped

    Jan 25, 2005
    What gives the government the right to tax its citizens is the fact that these citizens employ the constructs that the State has created. Namely an economic system and rules that allow you to conduct trade and earn a living. I have always used that argument for income tax and I think it works for me.

    ***Silent and Deadly Edit***

    Read welsh, newcomers. Full of wisdom his posts are.
  5. welsh

    welsh Junkmaster

    Apr 5, 2003
    The idea that a state or a government isn't a profit making institution is silly. Governments and states are remarkably effective at profit making. In fact, one can argue that the state was initially a construct of rulers who were little more than bandits that used the administrative and coercive structure of the state to maximize their return. We eventually called these bandits "kings" or "emperors".

    But they created the state so that they could extract wealth from society and create their capacity to engage in war- to both defend their stake and to steal that of neighboring kings.

    So we have parse - the state (administrative institutions), rulers and members of the ruling class- those with political control, and bureaucrats- the people who actual do the work of administering.

    States have always extracted wealth and redistributed it. That's what they were initially created for.

    What has changed is the relationship between those who rule and those who are ruled. Dictatorships are really modern versions of old time kings, and the state exists to maximize the interests of the ruler. Sometimes the ruler, to keep himself in power and not be sacked in a coup or revolution, makes deals with society- offering them goodies in exchange for loyalty.

    This relationship still exists in democracies- the ruling class- career politicans and their entourage, must maintain the consent of those they rule- or they get bounced out of office. Elections are therefore the vehicle by which society keeps the ruling class constrained and forces the ruler/ ruling class to offer greater goodies. Ideally, those goodies help society grow more prosperous.

    The problem is that some factions of society have more influence than others- they can determine elections.

    Look at the last US presidential campaign. One one side you had Obama campaigning for change and generally advocating wealth redistribution in favor of the middle and lower class. McCain, seeming a bit out of touch with political and economic realities ("the fundamentals of the economy are strong") sticks with the old "let the wealth trickle down." Yeah... but the wealth tends to tricke down in small bit- and the consequences are greater inequality of wealth.

    Have no doubt about it- we may emphasize that the role of the state is to provide security to society- this too is wrong. The state was born to give security and coercive capacity to the king. In dictatorial state, that military capacity is frequently turned on society to safeguard the rulership of the king. In Africa, for instance, armies are more frequently turned inward than against foreign aggression.

    We, the society, can get that security when we constrain the king. Likewise, the state also exists to provide for the accumulation of wealth, through the distribution of opportunities for wealth and the delivery of certain "publically-derived" goods.

    We talk about redistributing wealth to the poor. We could think of that as subsidizing opportunity for the poor and middle class. That's a bit different than what is currently happening- the government is essentially providing financial security to the financial industry (and another word for financial security is "insurance"). That too is a redistribution of wealth- from the poor and middle class tax voters (debt per person in the US is estimated at $180,000) on behalf of the wealthy.

    Ok, you may say- well we have to bail out the economy- we either keep society afloat or we'll all sink individually. Yes, that's true. But why did government deregulate or leave unregulated the financial and mortgage industry. If the economic challenges of today are a train wreck, that train gathered steam and speed for a long damn time.

    Who benefits when business goes unregulated- business. Who suffers- the consumer.

    Doubt this? Think about why we have environmental regulations, regulations on pharmaceuticals, on transportation- because for too long the failure to regulate these industries led to costs that were born by society.

    Does the state have the right to tax the rich.
    Well we've said that states can provide security for the masses and the state can provide opportunities for the accumulation of wealth.

    But one thing the state does most of all- is regulate economies. Markets are fundamentally collective action problems that require the rule of law to exist. Even ebay requires that parties abide by contractual rules.

    Why do the rich have to pay taxes, because they are part of a society and, often, they get the benefit of state derived goods and services. But sometimes they have to pay.

    While I agree with much of what you say, I disagree on a few things.
    (1) Federal aid to students has actually decreased over the past 8 years as colleges became increasingly expensive. College education is thus further out of reach for more people than before.

    Even the number of students who go to community college rather than go to 4 year colleges and universities has increased- because the market demands skilled labor.

    (2) better universities create better opportunities for successful careers, but often draw their students from the better schools- both public and private.

    I agree that some public schools are very good. But very good public schools both help determine local property values and are fed by higher local property taxes.

    Where the property taxes are low, the quality of the schools is also frequently low- teachers don't get paid decent salaries, books and facilities are in poor condition.

    Schools are principally funded by local property taxes. So schools are creatures of their environments. Wealthier neighborhoods- have better public schools. Private school, is generally a priv only for the middle and upper class.

    (3) Based on personal experience at the University of Virginia- a public school. I have taught a lot of students and honestly, based on my impressions- kids who come to the University from better public schools and private schools frequently out perform kids for lower income public schools. Part of my job is to get kids from poor schools to be more competitive with kids who have had a better pre-university education.

    But the difference between your average kid from a private school or from a wealthy public school and someone from a poor public school is remarkable.

    And that's the rub- education is supposed to be the great equalizer in society- creating opportunities for both poor and the middle class to acquire greater wealth. But the problem begins before the kids even get to the university. Plus we've had a significant group of the Republican party calling for school vouchers to essentially gut public schools- and thus promote religious education and reduce social mobility. It's bad enough that education is not a level playing field, but we have a system where its harder to get to college.

    And education- that's also a form of wealth redistribution.
  6. Critter

    Critter It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Nov 24, 2008
    @ Welsh

    On financial aid for colleges. I'm fairly certain that the grant system hasn't kept up since the 70s. I remember reading that in the 70s, grants could cover up to 85% of the cost of higher education. Not sure what the number is to now (as it's been awhile since I've read up on it) but it was so incredibly low, it's sad.

    Hell, I'm considering a move to Canada once I can learn French. Education system there seems mind-blowing compared to the struggle I've had in higher education here in the States.

    I've got a friend, a couple years older than myself, going to school in Quebec City. He's about to finish his PhD in Linguistics. He's been around the world a couple times for seminars and degree related things (that's how we met) and he finally, last semester, broke the $14,000 mark in what he owes for his education and his related travels.

    That's less than I owe for ALMOST having an Associates.

    Higher education in the States is awful. I'm poor, but I can from a decent family. Thing is, my Dad and I don't speak. Ever. It was from dealing with him that I got my initial college debt and I, myself, was homeless for a time. But, my Mom, she lives in downtown West Palm Beach, FL. She makes $16 an hour. Isn't too bad, really, but considering the cost of living there (her mortgage on her house which is smaller than most apartments I've lived in) is about $1500 a month. Apparently, she makes enough to pay for my education. But, doesn't matter, apparently I'm too "rich" to get this "free money" that exists out there even though I myself am unemployed and living on a freakin' couch right now.
  7. welsh

    welsh Junkmaster

    Apr 5, 2003
    They have some great schools in Canada. Plus- the chicks are pretty hot (busomy French girls), the beer is good and the food delicious. Down side- its really fucking cold. A friend studied for a month in Montreal- loved it. Montreal is a great city, but damn expensive.

    You might be able to get yourself declared independent if you are on your own. That might help you get better financial aid. I would certainly talk to a financial aid advisor.

    Down side- you will probably have to get loans- and since college is getting increasingly expensive, you will be paying those off for a damn long time. I think the Obama's just paid off their loans because of Barrack's book.

    Yes, college is affordable, but you may have to mortgage your future to get it.

    (Or go in the army).
  8. Nullifidian

    Nullifidian First time out of the vault

    Nov 4, 2008
    Generally speaking, the government doesn't care if you are independent or not, they still look at your parents' income.

    Heck, they demanded over and over to have records of my father's income. At the time, the last time I had seen or heard from my father was when I was 2 years old. He lived (and currently still does) in Hungary. I never saw a red cent form him, and they demanded to factor in his income to determine financial aid.

    The cost of college tuition is increasing faster than virtually every other societal cost. I graduated with a BA in 2001. At the time of graduation, tuition, room and board cost $26,000. Last year, tuition alone at the same school was $54,000. It has gotten to the point where college graduates owe more in student loans when they graduate than most people do on their primary mortgages. At that point, education no longer is worth the money. One cannot possibly make enough money to pay off such a debt in a reasonable enough time for that education to actually be worthwhile.

    The US college education system is on the verge of collapse. Mark my words, at the current rate, within 30 years most private universities in the US will have shut down. State schools and upper tier private schools will be the only traditional universities left, and everyone else will just get professional certification.
  9. Herbert West

    Herbert West First time out of the vault

    Nov 24, 2008
    Which is, unless we want to return to the model of the middle ages (appetriance not getting paid, and receiving tools upon "graduation" from his master, and so on), not a very bright idea. A state can live without, lets say, money spent on homeless, but it can not function properly without acessible education.

    Edit: I do realise some of you may seem a contradiction between this and my earlier post, but I think that education is the only thing that should be accessible for everyone who has the barins/skills for it. The rest I dont give a heck about, but I'd rather sacrifice helathcare than education.
  10. ceacar99

    ceacar99 It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Nov 11, 2008
    there is a reason why i think we should allow this next collapse..... too many things right now are out of order. its normal in nature and thus its normal in a organic natural economy to have a great collapse every now and then. college is too expensive, business is strangled both by a increasingly socialistic government and unions, the banking systems need a lesson and be retooled, and basically everything needs a good rebirth so we can continue progressing and evolving as an economy.
  11. Bal-Sagoth

    Bal-Sagoth Water Chip? Been There, Done That

    Nov 1, 2008
    Yes more successful you read that right, I am sorry the world is harsh and unfair at times. It still does not change the fact (that for what ever reasons) some people are more successful than others.

    Of course I knew that but I was looking for more of a "deeper" meaning of why someone feels they have the right to put greater tax laws on the rich. Either way I got the answer I was looking for out of Patton.
  12. Wooz

    Wooz Vault Sweeper Admin Orderite Board Cop oTO

    May 18, 2003
    Blah-Blah, your wilful stupidity is starting to get annoying.

    Please take time to read the more elaborate posts on the debate, instead of skipping the entire thing to post a "no, you are" message.
  13. welsh

    welsh Junkmaster

    Apr 5, 2003
    Bal- you do realize that most countries have a progressive tax system- the more you make, the more you pay for it.

    If one purpose of government is to create and regulate markets so that the rich can further accumulate wealth, then isn't it fair that they pay for it?
  14. Bal-Sagoth

    Bal-Sagoth Water Chip? Been There, Done That

    Nov 1, 2008
    I was never arguing for it or against it really as I said in my original post. I simply wanted Patton to elaborate more on why he personally feels the rich should be taxed higher than other economic groups.

    Which he did so I got what I was looking for.


    I have read the entire thread I just felt the need to respond to that one post in particular. Just because someone was born into wealth does not make them any less "successful" than someone who worked for it.

    Hence why I said the world can be quite unfair at times. I am not trying to step on anyones toes here.
  15. fedaykin

    fedaykin Vault Fossil

    Jul 15, 2007
    You seriously don't see the difference between being born into wealth and actually working to earn it?
  16. Bal-Sagoth

    Bal-Sagoth Water Chip? Been There, Done That

    Nov 1, 2008
    Of course I see the difference, does that difference make either less "successful"?
  17. ceacar99

    ceacar99 It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Nov 11, 2008
    mostly the issue is people have the tendency to believe that the person who inherits that money just sits around drinking expensive wine, fucking bitches attracted to money and having donald trump wipe his ass with 100 dollar bills. the real question is what that person does with the money. hell i mentioned donald trump, he's successful but he also did inherit significant assets.
  18. Profit

    Profit First time out of the vault

    Nov 10, 2008
    Optimally society, a Human construct, should be used to maximally increase the quality of life/ happiness/ survival rate among its participants, right?* I'll assume that was a nod of approval. If not, you may be confusing me for a Theocrat or a Nihilist. They get their own special room.

    Therefore, we can say that wealth re-distribution from the wealthy to the poor is obviously beneficial; those with $1,000,000 simply don't need another $10,000 as much as those with only $5,000 do. Bring in the Law of Diminishing Returns if you like. Once you're thinking about a Western country where effectively everyone is in the top 10% of the world's rich, the idea that the super-rich deserve more than those who are actually suffering merely because the richer ones 'earned' it (when their entire life is built on the system and infrastructure of a country which took earned money to build the hospitals and roads and security forces to allow them to dedicate their lives to making money) is preposterous.

    To narrow this down to the Beggars in Spain, yes, giving money to them is a good thing. Will it get them out of their situation? No. But to say tha your quarter will perpetuate their cycle of panhandling is melodrama. In a moreperfect world, the YMCAs and shelters and programs would get them back on the horse, but all those things are chronically underfunded and understaffed, and if not are usually mis-managed and poorly organized. The beggar who will spend the night sleeping on a catpiss-stained mattress behind a dumpster will get more out of that dollar relative to you. So in Utilitarian terms it would only make sense to give.

    Finally, it's time for some amateur psychology. Charity is a good thing. That not just some dubious Christian moralizing - we're hardwired to gain pleasure from helping others and giving. It's the part of our nature that allowed us to build society and fight for the downtrodden. Frankly, some nights I spend $50 just to make me and a couple of friends happy for a while. Hell, even basic chemical happiness in the form of weed is a good $10. So give the poor man a dollar. Fuck, give him a fiver. Then you can glow in satisfaction and feel high-and-mighty next to all the other Scrooges on the train, and the scruffy, smelly man on the other end of the transaction will also be glad as fuck. It costs as much as a burger. You're not losing anything. Will it help the guy in the long run? No. Will he have a better day today because of it? Yes. Is that more important than a crisp new five-dollar bill to you? That's for you to decide.

    And whatever you do, never forget that, whatever sins that greasy beggar committed that landed him on the street and its his own fault yadayadayada, he's still waking up unshaven on cold asphalt without a meal in his stomach and only his feet and some worn-out boots to get around in every day, may be strung out on cheap dangerous street-grade drugs, has some kind of mental illness, and has almost no way to get out of this vicious cycle. And most of us will spend 100x as much on our neutered pets as we will on these people.

    * Incidentally, this is the primary reason why Social Darwinism falls flat on its face. Locke's Social Contract and Dawkins' Selfish Gene co-incide to explain why helping the 'weak' of your tribe is advantageous to the whole tribe, since it provides security, or the assurance of security, to everyone, not to mention all the other benefits that even a baboon could grasp. Recent studies confirming a genetic basis to altruism would hopefully put to rest all that vaguely sociopathic Libertarian ideology, but sadly, the philosophy of 'I got mine, so go fuck yourself' still has a lot of traction.
  19. dhomochevsky

    dhomochevsky First time out of the vault

    Nov 23, 2008
    Here in Bucharest, Romania, we recently got a public campaign, launched by the local authorities against begging. It went something like "Did you know that a beggar can make up to [300 euro] per month?" Note that 300 euro can scrape you a half-decent living here. I personally earn about 450 euro per month.
    The thing is that here, begging is mostly like a small type of Mafia: there are organized rings of people that send children, women and crippled men to beg, and later on they take almost all of the money from them. It's a very lucrative "business model".
    Welfare is mostly shit here too. However education is cheap, and I dare say, it's fairly good. The state universities are by far the best, hard to get into but with good teaching and many, MANY opportunities after graduation. Private universities vary in quality terms, but a normal. everyday institution takes you up to around 1600 euro for 4 years of study, and it may go as high as 4000-5000 euro on the top private universities. That's the study tax in itself, I didn't insert here books/room/board/whatever.
    Oh, and the elementary school and high school are free, there are very few private schools that cover those.

    As mentioned above, the problem is that there are comparatively small salaries here.

    The sharing of wealth decision, when it comes to giving to the poor, is somewhat of a double edged sword here. You could give your money to that homeless cripple, but they would most likely end up in the hands of somebody else, and that puts a damper on your charitable spirit. I'm not against giving to the poor, I always give some change to bums I know not to be involved with shady individuals, but mostly I prefer to give away food and clothing.

    Oh yeah, and I think that the "education" campaign about the dangers of giving money to the poor is mostly a steaming pile.
  20. José Cruz

    José Cruz First time out of the vault

    Nov 24, 2008
    I think that when a country is developed then the existence of people being homeless is just a living style. They live in poverty because they want too.... I don't think this represents a real social problem.

    Here in Brazil we have a very serious problem of unemployment, which means that here homeless people are really fucked up. They are in this situation because they have no choice.