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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 7:34 am 
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This thread was inspired (if that's the right word) by a post Griffy made in another thread.

Griffon64 wrote:
A few words on my own stance: my opinion is that ignorance is one of the roots of evil in this world and that ignorance is separate from stupidity --- and that it is human to want to ensure the safety and prosperity of your own ass. At that intersection of knowledge and self-interest you will find people's political views. I'll readily admit that I am in it for myself. I just happen to think that I will be better off in a very different kind of world than your average right-winger or left-winger think they would be better off in.(bolding mine)


It got me thinking...what are people's visions of a world in which they would be "better off?" What does that look like to you?

I feel that there is sometimes a HUGE disconnect between the usual political rhetoric and what people actually believe or want for themselves and their loved ones. I wonder if the divide between "liberals" and "conservatives" is as great as it seems on the surface or if there is, in fact, more common ground than we give ourselves credit for. It seems that each "side" is determined to move as far away from the other as possible - and the end result is a chasm with people shouting across it - and mostly shouting messages about how stupid/immoral/wrong the people on the other side are.

So...what kind of a world do you envision for yourself?

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 1:58 pm 
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I mean, I don't think you'd get anyone to disagree that they'd a want a world free of poverty and sickness and violence and war.
I don't think it's about what "world you envision", it's about 1) what is realistically achievable and 2) what are good ways to achieve what can be achieved?

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 2:06 pm 
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There's also tension between whether a "better" world means one where humans are more comfortable and happy, or one where they achieve greater things. Sometimes those two go along with each other, sometimes they don't.

But mine is a world where humans don't have to work so much. This is the place where someone can insert a snide remark about how politicians are achieving that already, but the emphasis is on have to.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 2:37 pm 
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yovargas wrote:
I don't think it's about what "world you envision", it's about 1) what is realistically achievable and 2) what are good ways to achieve what can be achieved?


Okay, I'll go with that, if it means you'll respond.

But I am not so sure that everyone wants the same things. Sure, elimination of poverty and sickness and hate and yada yada yada, but those are all platitudes.

For instance, the Swiss have considered a referendum whereby all citizens, regardless of income, would get an annual "allowance" of something like $20,000. No welfare programs, no food stamps, no applying for assistance, no public housing. Everybody just gets a stipend. Poverty would be basically eliminated. Paperwork would be eliminated. Everyone gets an amount that *could* be enough to live on. If people wanted more (and most would) obviously they would need to work for it.

But my feeling is that many people in the USA would be horrified at such a program. Why? Because it would mean that some people who didn't deserve it would get money.

However, it IS one solution to poverty.

ETA: Link to story
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/swiss-co ... um-income/

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 2:53 pm 
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If a country can afford it, I think something like that is a fantastic idea. I also believe this will become an unavoidable issue in the future as we continue to make strides toward automation in virtually every area of life and thereby reduce the total amount of human input that is needed.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 2:57 pm 
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Why? Because it would mean that some people who didn't deserve it would get money.


Which falls under #2 - what are good ways to achieve what can be achieved. Even if we agree the ends are good, the means may be considered bad. It is my general observation that conservatives are more concerned about good/moral means than liberals are, at least with economic issues. For example, conservatives would in my experience be more likely to argue #1 - that this is not realistically achievable because, as some anti-socialists like to snarkily say, at some point you run out of other people's money to give away. Liberals, again in my experience, seem to be far less concerned about that kind of question.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 3:15 pm 
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But in this case, EVERYONE would be getting money. People who didn't actually need it could do with it what they wished, including give it back to people who might need it more. People living in poverty could use it to catch their breath while they looked for employment or housing or education. And maybe some people wouldn't do anything with it but sit on their rears. Point is, there wouldn't be any more welfare cheating or trying to scam the system because there wouldn't BE a system to scam.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 3:23 pm 
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JewelSong wrote:
But in this case, EVERYONE would be getting money. People who didn't actually need it could do with it what they wished, including give it back to people who might need it more. People living in poverty could use it to catch their breath while they looked for employment or housing or education. And maybe some people wouldn't do anything with it but sit on their rears. Point is, there wouldn't be any more welfare cheating or trying to scam the system because there wouldn't BE a system to scam.


Which doesn't really address either point I made.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 4:12 pm 
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Really? I thought it did.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 4:42 pm 
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Your post addresses the idea of welfare cheating which I never brought up. That surely is a concern of some people but it's only one and I don't believe it is a significant one for most who would be opposed.

If all the poor people of the world could wave a magic wand that could make all the food and medicine and whatnot they personally need just appear in front of them, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who would be opposed to them doing so.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 4:48 pm 
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I think socialism (or quasi-socialism) works in the smaller European countries precisely because they are small. I am not sure it can work in a country as large as the US, much in the same way that communism didn't work in the USSR and works in ways I don't like at all in China.

I would like to see a world free from poverty and exploitation, with equality for all. I'd like to see quality education, equal access to medical care, care for the environment, etc. Like yovi said, though, I think nearly everyone would support at least the idea of those things; it's how that's the key.

However, it is at that point that I tend to bow out of political discussions. I am an idealist, and I want everyone to get along. It is very distressing to me when that doesn't happen, and I do not have the stomach to deal with it. The conflicting voices are confusing, and I have a hard time figuring out who's right, let alone being able to participate in a debate in an intelligent way. I have other issues/topics that I enjoy much, much more; politics is NOT it. So I'll just form my own opinions and try to do the best I can to do the right thing, which includes voting my conscience. (The problem there is that it almost always is choosing the lesser of two evils.)

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 4:52 pm 
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About the program in Switzerland: If people are getting something for nothing, that makes the whole program a scam to anyone who believes that people should only have what they earn. The fact that everyone participates, including themselves, doesn't change the essential wrongness in their eyes.

Whereas the classic liberal would argue that it's better that everyone receives the benefit, deserving or not, than that no one receives it. The principle that obtains in most soup kitchens: better to feed some people who are taking advantage of the system than to put barriers up that might keep out some people who genuinely need the food.

(Please note that I did not call either view superior to the other. If it struck you that way, you are possibly reading things into my posts that aren't there because you know my underlying political views—as just happened above. I think that happens a lot here, among well-intentioned people with every kind of politics, and adds to the difficulty of trying to be even-handed in posting.)

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 5:04 pm 
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Primula Baggins wrote:
If people are getting something for nothing, that makes the whole program a scam to anyone who believes that people should only have what they earn. The fact that everyone participates, including themselves, doesn't change the essential wrongness in their eyes.


I believe this is a largely false understanding of the typically-conservative concerns. As my last post said, no one's gonna be upset if you get your food by magic wands. Neither conservatives or liberals are generally bothered by people becoming rich because they won the lottery. Similarly, neither conservatives or liberals are generally bothered by people giving to charities helping the needy. It's not that people should only have what they earn, it's that people should only expect what they earn - and should never expect what others earn.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 5:10 pm 
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You assigned some assumptions that I didn't make there, yov. The Swiss program I was discussing isn't a magic wand; it would cost money, tax money, that comes from everyone. So it's a case of people receiving (and presumably expecting to receive) money that was provided disproportionately by people who earn a lot and who are not able to designate how their tax money is spent. That puts it firmly in the category of program to which many conservatives object.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 5:19 pm 
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I was addressing your statement that "If people are getting something for nothing, that makes the whole program a scam to anyone who believes that people should only have what they earn." I suppose there are such people in the world but I've never met any of any ideology that I can think of. I presented lotteries and charity as examples of people receiving things they didn't earn that don't bother pretty much anybody to show that it's not the "they didn't earn that" part that bothers people opposed to this kind of thing.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 5:23 pm 
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You're right. I skipped the second factor: "If people are getting something for nothing that was paid for by tax dollars." Apologies. I assumed that was implied, and so I didn't say it.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 5:31 pm 
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Ah, no, I didn't take it as implied. That is a more accurate statement, yes. :)

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 6:01 pm 
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That is very interesting, how the conservative (Puritan?) ideology morphs into the Marxist "who doesn't work doesn't eat." Except the Marxists meant it literally, and the capitalists make a footnote for "work includes your ancestors being able to leave you money, no matter whether it was made by honest or nefarious means."

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 6:22 pm 
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Doing some quick math, that plan in the US would cost $5 trillion (250M adults * $20K, more if want to include children somehow). According to this website, the total 2015 spending of the US gov't was $3.6 trillion:
http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/yea ... 40#usgs302

Of course, implementing such a plan would replace some existing welfare programs - possibly $1 trillion's worth if that website is accurate - but overall doing that plan in the US would mean at least doubling the amount of annual federal spending. Surely we can agree that there would be some serious pragmatic concerns in doing such a thing.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 6:54 pm 
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Well, at least on this website, I will be the only one who will actually be allowed to vote on that issue. The votation will be on the fifth of June. And it is absolutely sure that it will fail: Switzerland is a very slow country. You don not change things so radically. And it is a very “liberal” country, but not in the American way of using the word, where it is opposed to conservative. Liberal ideals and parties as characterized in the European context mean something very different. The liberal party in Switzerland is considered rather right leaned- maybe centre-right, but certainly not on the left of the political sphere. However, this is an osgiliation.

But, and maybe several of you will have expected this, I will vote for this initiative. Recently, there has been a very good article about the philosophy behind this initiative. Unfortunately, it is in French, but I could still link to it, if you’d be interested.

The starting point for my motivation to accept this idea, are actually the Human Rights. Some formulations of the Human Rights are in fact the basic values of my life and they have become the scale of moral measurement for the atheist I am. The first and maybe most important stance of the Human Rights is for me that all persons are born equal and deserve a life in dignity. Now, we call dispute what is dignity, but with my Western European protestant background, dignity means to dispose of your life and future as you want it, in short to be the master of your fate. (This is very short, there is a lot more to it). An initiative like the Swiss vote on the RBI (revenu de base inconditionel) would, among other things, guarantee a life in dignity for everybody. Not in comfort (life is very expensive in Switzerland and with the amounts proposed you can live and eat, but you cannot really travel – for instance) The initiative does not fix an amount! Just to be clear.

Also, it would mean that salaries would all go down that same amount: instead of being paid 100.000 Swiss Francs (you can check out my salary, if you want. on the Website of the gouvernement of Geneva. Salaries of teachers are public) per year as I am now, I’d be paid 70.000 + 30.000 rbi. So, firms could pay more taxes as their charge in salaries would go down and those taxes could finance the rbi. Another part of the finances would come from the social programs which would not exist any more. So, in fact financing all this is not the biggest problem.

It does not completely eliminate poverty, I think, it puts it to a different level. If someone is a drug addict, he will spend his rbi in a few days on his drugs – and will still be poor after that. (Now, I would of course advocate too a complete legalisation of drugs, but this question has not been discussed so far). But then, this is also what happens with social aid programs.

I think the key difference is in the idea of deserving help from “society” or not: in one model, you have to deserve anything you get from “society”, and you are judged by your individual achievement within this society to determine what is your right to receive within it. It can even go as far as Mrs. Thatcher who pretended that society did not exist… only individuals. In the other optic, you deserve a life in dignity just because you were born a human being. And it is the aim of society to guarantee that life to each and every of its members – if society does not have this aim, we could be living alone in the jungle… (slightly exaggerated). My personal opinion is that society does exist and that it should indeed offer a life in dignity to all of its members, weather they deserve it (through work) or not. My opposition to the idea of having to deserve basic dignity comes of course from my German side. The Nazis decided that handicapped persons did not deserve to live as they were a burden to society. As soon as you decide that someone has to deserve his right for a life in dignity, you have to exclude some people – quite many people in fact. This is not compatible with my basic life value of the Human Rights. But that’s my view of the world.

There are many other things: I am not sure that:
Quote:
I don't think you'd get anyone to disagree that they'd a want a world free of poverty and sickness and violence and war


Many people benefit from violence, war and sickness and do not care either for other persons or they do care for their ideas more than they do for persons. Or, they do not consider all persons equal in rights and advantage one group over another – which is a form of violence…

Then, I do think that we are in a process of historical transformation and that the Nation State, invention of the late 18th and 19th century is no longer apt to confront the conflicts of this 21st century world. It is a part of the problem rather than a part of the solutions, alongside, in my mind, with capitalism, which ends up destroying the planet we live on. But this does not mean that I hold keys to any alternative. I am not politician, after all.

For the questions of peace,my main guidance is Kant and his writing « On perpetual peace ». But, this is more than long enough, I am not willing to type down ideas which will not be read or debated – so I’ll wait. And I have to pick up Benjamin from kickboxing.

Yov: the amount which is often mentioned is adapted to Swiss living cost. Please take into consideration before calculation anything alike for the US.

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