2005/02/28

Why the State should provide social services and not private charity

Charity should not need to exist. It should not be left up to the individual. The provision of social services should lay with the government, not the individual. The government can provide for better services than charity can. It is also far more appropriate that the state respond than private individuals.

Charities need money, they must fundraise for this. They need to ask the public for money. They rely on the generosity of people. But when the country hits hard times, such as a depression, then charities are unlikely to be the top priority of people trying to feed their own families. But at the same time, more people need extra help, but the charities cannot provide it. The government though does not have this problem; they have the ability to get money from people (taxation) and can spend their way out of the depression through fiscal deficits. Thus when the country hits hard times it is better for there to be a government providing social services than a charity. Otherwise more people will starve.

Charities provide an inconsistent service throughout different regions. Each charity is reliant on local activists/volunteers providing the help they do. These people though are not going to be located evenly throughout the country; they will be in selected places. A homeless person (someone who does need social services) will not get the same treatment in Auckland as they do in Wellington, it may even vary from bridge to bridge! This variation leads to some people missing out due to the lack of volunteers in their region, a fairly arbitrary reason to miss out on getting services. The government though can provide the guarantee that services will be the same throughout the country. The government has the ability to pay for people to do social services; they can get people into different regions. There is a consistency of service throughout the country if they are provided for by the government, there is not when it is privately provided.

Charities are often based upon spreading an ideal. Usually this is Christian, but not always. This can make people nervous to approach to get charity- would you approach Bishop Tamaki for charity (if he offered any)? Most people would not, why? Because he would force his beliefs down your throat while helping you out. Thus charity can alienate those who are in need. This can happen whether or not the charity actually does force their beliefs onto others; all that is needed is the perception. The state though does not have the same problem. The state is secular and upholds the right of freedom of belief. It cannot, and does not, force a religion down a person’s throat. The state does not scare people off; they have a stake in it already as a citizen, it is already a part of their life.

Ultimately social problems are collectively created and thus need to be collectively solved. Charities ultimately can only alleviate the pains of what has happened, they cannot prevent them from happening. A charity, and thus private individuals, cannot change the lack of jobs in the market; they can only provide soup for those out of work. A charity is ultimately an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, not the fence at the top. The state can be both. They can create the conditions whereby social assistance is not needed through job creation schemes. The state can also provide the ambulance, looking after those that have fallen.

Social problems are, as stated above, collectively created. They problem of unemployment is due to the lack of jobs out there (for the skill level of the unemployed people). Unemployment is a key factor in numerous other social problems (such as domestic violence, rape, murder, bad things in general). The fault, if it is needed to be placed, is within the community. It is not with the individual who has fallen into unemployment. It is for all of us to respond to, as we have all contributed to the problem in some form or another. The state clearly represents us all; we cannot leave it to the individual to choose whether they follow their moral obligation to help. The state can respond, and should do so.

Charities rely upon each individual feeling that they have the responsibility to deal with the problem, but it is a problem that all have a responsibility towards. If social services are left to charities then many people will ignore their responsibilities, the state though can ensure that all take part in carrying out their responsibility. Thus the mantra of the right, personal responsibility, requires that the state ensures social services are provided. The notion of ‘private charity’ is a means of escaping one’s responsibilities to other members of society.

Giving of private charity obviously has a ‘feel good’ factor to it. People want to contribute to society and its members. But they can do this through the state, and at the same time know that others are doing their part as well. The state provides for a more efficient, effective, homogenous and fair delivery of social services than private charity can ever produce. Ultimately the role of charity only exists because the state does not fulfil its role within society.

64 Comments:

Wow, Greg, what a great post.

For someone that hasn't thought things through. Let me address several points here one by one.

First, charity does need to exist due to the fact the government is unweildy and slow, filled with red tape and unable to handle social services efficiently. The government does have a responsibility to be a safety net for it's citizens that are down and out, severly disabled, or mentally unsound, however, the world needs ditch diggers also and just because people don't have the ability, intelligence, ambition or luck to make enough money to afford a nice house, new car, trendy clothes or other "perks of success" does not mean that people that can achieve those things should be forced to take care of the ones that can't.

It is a sad thing perhaps that life works that way but life isn't fair, and attempting to legislate fairness into it simply takes down those that do achieve better things and subtracts from the initiative people naturally have to better their place in the world.

About governments spending their way out of a depression. The US spent her way out of a depression, but it took massive government social programs to do it by building a better infrastructure. What is a government to do when that infrastructure is built? Are they to continue to employ a large percentage of the populace to maintain it? Private industry is better suited to almost every endeavour save military and securing borders, and I am no longer certain about that last one.

If government could do a better job keeping people from starving then why did all of those people in North Korea starve to death? There corrupt, communist government FAILED THEM!!!

So the state is secular and can handle social problems without pushing a set of ideals down someones throat? What about states (Iran) that are not secular? Is there even any social program in Iran to take care of its' least citizens?

I don't agree that socieities problems are collectively created. How is it my fault that someone else is too lazy to work? IS it my fault that some won't take advantage of the programs that are there to better themselves? The problem of unemployment is caused by many factors, too many people, high taxes on employers, (if I as an employer have high taxes I must choose either to raise the price of my product or scale back on how many I employ, thereby reducing the amount of business I can do which limits how afst or haw far I can grow my business), and often, people that simply lack the skills and/or intelligence for many jobs.

It has been shown that charitable donations go up in a sound economy, they also rise when taxes are lowered due to people seeking further tax relief. I know it sounds weird, but if you give people more money to spend, with the possibility of putting it into the economy in some form or losing it to taxes at the end of the year tehy choose to give more to charity. Usually people with less finacial worries start to look outward.



 

Posted by Kender
2/28/2005 02:26:00 am  
"government is unweildy and slow, filled with red tape and unable to handle social services efficiently" - that only occurs when the government allows it to occur. speedy deliver of social services can and does occur.
"governments spending their way out of a depression" - new infrastructure can always be built. conservation is also another area where people can be employed, there are always going to be weeds to be pulled up, pests killed etc. two birds, one stone.
"If government could do a better job keeping people from starving then why did all of those people in North Korea starve to death? There corrupt, communist government FAILED THEM!!!" - North Korea is a dictatorship, the government is not reliant on the support of the people. they seek to stop the people from overthrowing them. Kim Il Jong is not a nice person.
"What about states (Iran) that are not secular?" - democracies largely are secular and those that are not do still provide for social services which are not religious.
"I don't agree that socieities problems are collectively created" - I would say that is the main cause of disagreement here, it is at the root of the debate. Let me put it to you this way - is it a person's fault that there is no job available for them to do?
"high taxes on employers" - but given a lower tax rate there will be less health provision and education. so the workers are sick more often and less educated. it thus costs businesses more  when the tax rate is low. and often they will take the money from a tax cut as profit rather than re-invest or hire new staff.

and to the last point - that is only in some cases, give people the choice of spend it on themselves or give it to charity and more people will spend it on themselves, buy a new car, new boat etc. they do not give to charity.

and there are still all the problems with charity mentioned above to be dealt with. 

Posted by Greg Stephens
2/28/2005 02:48:00 am  
The papers are full of adverts for employment. The reason the jobs are ther is the people that are qualified for thm have jobs already. People need to take the intitiative and get the training to do the jobs that are there. Is it our responsibility to provide for people that are simply unqualified for the jobs that are available? No. We can provide training for these fields, and we do. Here in America the poorer you are the easier it is to qualify for these programs.

The help is there, but people want it to be handed to them, very few want to work for it. 

Posted by Kender
2/28/2005 03:03:00 am  
can I refer you to this  on tertiary education.

Should the training be done by the state or by the individual. well the state can accurately ensuring that the training is in an area of skills shortage, while the individual cannot. The state can also save money on welfare by providing training, as the person will be unemployed for a shorter time frame, so simply by cost-cutting standards training is better. and society as a whole benefits from the training (see the post I refered you to before).

Of course in a fair system, there would be no need for either as everyone would be more than provided for. 

Posted by Greg Stephens
2/28/2005 03:20:00 am  
Good article. Nice points. But education is, like alot of other things in life, a get what you pay for thing. Go to a school that charges next to nothing and you get a next to nothing education.

If college becomes free, what is to stop someone from going to school for years on end, going for a new degree everytime that one was finished? I know some people that would love to be able to stay in school forever, collecting degree after degree.

And what of those that simply don't have the intelligence to go and succeed in college, or even succeed in a trade school? We still need ditch diggers and lawn maintainence guys. Not everyone can be successful. The way the world works is that some are going to run companies, and some are going to clean gutters. It is the way of the world.

This smacks of socialism. Socialism destroys ambition. It destroys the drive inherent in the human species to go farther than before. More taxes are never the answer, but instead the problem. Those that truly want to succeed will, most likely, do just that. Those that have no ambition or lack the intelligence to succeed on their own must concede that life isn't fair and live with that fact. It is unfair to the people that have succeeded to support the people that cannot.

It is not, to get back to the original point of the post, the responsibility of humanity to prop up those that cannot or will not do for themselves, save the disabled and insane.

Nor is it the responsibility of the government beyond rudimentary measures, after all, the government IS the people.

Again, life is NOT fair. Do or die. 

Posted by Kender
2/28/2005 04:48:00 am  
"We still need ditch diggers and lawn maintainence guys. Not everyone can be successful. The way the world works is that some are going to run companies, and some are going to clean gutters. It is the way of the world." and "It is unfair to the people that have succeeded to support the people that cannot"
we do need people to sweep streets and take away the garbage, and these people should be fairly compensated for taking a position for which the rest of us rely upon. They should be given a more than decent income for being shunted to the bottom of the heap.

"If college becomes free, what is to stop someone from going to school for years on end, going for a new degree everytime that one was finished? "
there needs to be policy implemented so as to control student numbers within reason. It is a small problem, not one that should cause the system to be changed.

"This smacks of socialism" - prehaps because I'm a socialist

" It destroys the drive inherent in the human species to go farther than before" - b*llsh*t. socialists believe in moral incentives to work, rather than financial ones. It is the inner self that benefits while all have the same material conditions.

"Again, life is NOT fair. Do or die" - well some of us are committed to making it fair, why not join us and make a difference? 

Posted by Greg Stephens
2/28/2005 08:19:00 am  
But education is, like alot of other things in life, a get what you pay for thing. Go to a school that charges next to nothing and you get a next to nothing education. .

This is a generalized statement that is true in a society where one's life is centered around capitalist reproduction.

Socialism destroys ambition..

This is an oft repeated statement made by capitalist trying to stop social organization. Give proof of this statement.

We still need ditch diggers and lawn maintainence guys. Not everyone can be successful..

Capitalism has always needed the backs of the working class to be successful. Why does success have to be self-serving and is one only considered successful when their life is centered around climbing the corporate ladder?

...after all, the government IS the people..

A Capitalist government is not a government of the people and for the people. It is a huge self-serving conglomerate that needs an army of free/cheap/slave labor in order to succeed.
 

Posted by Dianne
2/28/2005 08:52:00 am  
I wont join because I believe in the human spirit and the triumph of adversity....it build character.

I understand paying people for doing the jobs that need done, however, why should I pay joe ten bucks and hour when john will work for nine? If I can save money on payroll I can buy more equipment and expand, when I expand joe can work for me also, unless in the time between getting canned and my expansion he has decided that being part of the UNSKILLED labor force is NOT the road to success and gone back to school.

I also don't believe in a moral reason to work. I believe that the vast majority of humanity is lazy and if given half a chance to wallow in their own filth and not work they will.

And Dianne, I ask you, in a socialist country, where you are taxed at higher rates for more income, (check into the story of the band ABBA for a great example of this), where is the incentive to work harder and have a better lifestyle? Why bother striving for a better position or more income, (to enjoy things like travel, better cars, bigger houses, nicer clothes and maybe even better healthcare) when there is only so far you can go before you get diminishing returns.

My answer is there is none.

And I don't consider success climbing the corporate ladder. I am self employed and I believe if you do what makes you happy then THAT is success. I do what makes me happy. Fortunately I am well compensated for my skill and knowledge and I love my job. I know very few people outside of my field that have ever said that.

BTW, tomorrow I will tell my crew that I need their free/cheap/slave labor to be successful. They will laugh their asses off about that comment, as they make slightly less than I do and they know it.

Thanks for the laugh. 

Posted by Kender
2/28/2005 09:21:00 am  
"I wont join because I believe in the human spirit and the triumph of adversity....it build character" - while you go off build character I will be here knowing that I'm secure in who I am and don't need to build character

" understand paying people for doing the jobs that need done, however, why should I pay joe ten bucks and hour when john will work for nine?" - hence why the system is unfair and needs to be changed

"I also don't believe in a moral reason to work. I believe that the vast majority of humanity is lazy and if given half a chance to wallow in their own filth and not work they will.

And Dianne, I ask you, in a socialist country, where you are taxed at higher rates for more income, (check into the story of the band ABBA for a great example of this), where is the incentive to work harder and have a better lifestyle? Why bother striving for a better position or more income, (to enjoy things like travel, better cars, bigger houses, nicer clothes and maybe even better healthcare) when there is only so far you can go before you get diminishing returns.

My answer is there is none."

-right well maybe in a socialist country there is a moral incentive to work? I think those statements work wonderfully together in showing how flawed right-wing thinking is.

I agree that happiness is success. and oh look that is a moral incentive not a finanical one.

"Thanks for the laugh." -right back at ya! 

Posted by Greg Stephens
2/28/2005 09:37:00 am  
Kender,

"however, why should I pay joe ten bucks and hour when john will work for nine?" ,

And why should you pay John 9 bucks when Harry will work for 2? Clearly your argument proves that laws that regulate things like minium wages are needed. And that's called socialism. 

Posted by WhyNot
2/28/2005 10:16:00 am  
...just because people don't have the ability, intelligence, ambition or luck to make enough money to afford a nice house, new car, trendy clothes or other "perks of success" does not mean that people that can achieve those things should be forced to take care of the ones that can't. .

Poverty is not about the lack of a nice house, new car and trendy clothes. It's about being able to afford any kind of shelter, feeding yourself and your family, decent healthcare and all the things that humanbeings have a right to. People don't revolt because they can't keep up with the Joneses although the rich have been known to jump out of a window because of it.

It seems once one becomes an adult in a capitalist society the 'right to life' no longer applies.

...life isn't fair, and attempting to legislate fairness into it simply takes down those that do achieve better things and subtracts from the initiative people naturally have to better their place in the world..

If you have children do you use the same fairness scale for them? Once they are grown do you send them out into the world to 'do or die?'

"...corrupt, communist government FAILED THEM!!!".

Regimes that have taken the name 'communist' are gross caricatures of 'communism' as Marx and Engels realized it. Stalinist ideology is not a true representation of Communism.

I don't agree that socieities problems are collectively created. How is it my fault that someone else is too lazy to work? IS it my fault that some won't take advantage of the programs that are there to better themselves?.

Mr. Brown has owned and operated his own business in a small town for 20 years. Six months ago a competitive national chainstore moved in and Mr. Brown's business has failed and he is forced to file bankruptcy. He has been able to find a minimum wage job but it is not enough to afford the payments on his home, his car or pay the cost of his health insurance. Mr. Brown is 48 years old. So Mr. Brown should go back to school and learn a new trade? Where does he get the money? When does he find the time and the energy while working 40 hours a week doing lawn maintenence? Oh, and of course, any savings Mr. Brown had accrued was eaten up six months after his business failed. Mr. Brown has high blood pressure and a thyroid disorder requiring daily medication that is of course, not free.
Mr. Brown has never been lazy and certainly wants to better himself but he has reached middleage and everything he's worked for all his life has gone into the toilet and society now tells him 'do or die.'

This is only one scenario. There are many more examples of people in need because of societal problems. 

Posted by Dianne
2/28/2005 10:18:00 am  
Kender,

"If government could do a better job keeping people from starving then why did all of those people in North Korea starve to death? There corrupt, communist government FAILED THEM" ,

All you are proving here is that human nature being what it is, i.e. selfish and greedy, it doesn't matter how good the "ism" system is, it can get completely twisted when nutcases get hold of the power.

It's not "communism" which has failed, it is the corruption of the bunch of megalomaniacs that took the reins.

You can find dozens of examples where greedy and corrupt assholes have turned their capitalist countries into banana republics, and where there is a tiny filthy rich minority and the rest of the ppl are basically dying of hunger.

So, coming back to your point, here is a much better example of comparison (assuming we agree that neither the EU nor the US are run by corrupt fanatics):

socialism works pretty good in the EU, all the way from Portugal to Sweden. It is not perfect, but certainly a lot more successful than the US at keeping the poor not only alive but living with a minimum level of decency. 

Posted by WhyNot
2/28/2005 10:51:00 am  
I also don't believe in a moral reason to work. I believe that the vast majority of humanity is lazy and if given half a chance to wallow in their own filth and not work they will.

I believe in the human spirit and the triumph of adversity....it build character.
 .

These two statements seem to be in contradiction. I'm trying to imagine the vast, lazy majority of humanity wallowing in it's own filth triumphing over adversity.

Based on your theory most of humanity will not be successful anyway so I can see why in a Capitalist society many would give up trying. Why should one work to make the few richer when they can barely eke out a living, if that? When the culture is geared toward capitalist reproduction how can there be any hope for those that have nothing to contribute but their backs?

In a Socialist society one works for themselves as well as the common good.

where is the incentive to work harder and have a better lifestyle? Why bother striving for a better position or more income, (to enjoy things like travel, better cars, bigger houses, nicer clothes and maybe even better healthcare) when there is only so far you can go before you get diminishing returns..

When do you have enough? Again, you're all about making more and more in order to have more things. I live in an EU country. Travel is not a problem. I was in Italy not long ago. My car is an older model and I'm very satisfied with it. I don't desire or need another. I could use a bigger apartment but I am happy in my shoebox as most Europeans are. I have clothes that would fit in nicely anywhere even a grand gala. I rarely have a need for them as most of my activites are better geared toward jeans. My healthcare could not be better and is in fact much better than I received in the states.

The incentive is advancement of humanity rather than accumulating profit.

I believe if you do what makes you happy then THAT is success..

But, you speak of lawn maintenence workers and ditch diggers as unsuccessful. Again, you seem to contradict yourself.

Fortunately I am well compensated for my skill and knowledge...

You are fortunate, aren't you? I wonder if you could do lawn maintenence and if you did what you would feel your knowledge and back are worth?

BTW, tomorrow I will tell my crew that I need their free/cheap/slave labor to be successful. They will laugh their asses off about that comment, as they make slightly less than I do and they know it..

And while you are having a good laugh the vast majority of unwashed humanity wallowing in it's own filth are hungry and cold because they are not so fortunate.

Sorry, I don't get the joke.
 

Posted by Dianne
2/28/2005 11:27:00 am  
Kender,

"government is unweildy and slow, filled with red tape and unable to handle social services efficiently" ,

Perhaps it's true in the US, but in the EU, the vast majority of social services do their job pretty good and in a timely manner. Furthermore, because social services are built into the system, they are very effective in prevention rather than just cure.

You seem to think that anything that's "gov" is just one huge red tape machine at the top (Washington, Paris, etc). Again, perhaps it's true in the US, but in France nearly all social services are distributed in multi-tier levels. The Paris gov attributes aid to regional conscriptions, which in turn distribute aid to communal regions, etc, down to the city/town level.

For instance, right now, we are being hit by unbelievable sub-zero temperatures all over the country, even on the Riviera. The red-alert plan is on, and in every town and city, the local SAMU* have teams patrolling all night to give food, hot drinks and blankets to those ppl who live in the street and do not want to accept the offer of being taken into a shelter.

The SAMU response is instant and efficient because it is already here in place, funded by tax money. While the SAMU* is a national gov organization, it is subdivided into layers all the way down to the local town. There is a 115 national number anyone can call if they spot someone in difficulty, and within minutes, anywhere in the country, the local SAMU* team will be there.

The results speak for themselves: so far only 2 or 3 ppl in the entire country have died of cold in the street this winter.

No need for charity. Our socialist system does it better, fairer and faster.

(* the SAMU is the emergency, on the road, branch of our free socialist health care system.) 

Posted by WhyNot
2/28/2005 11:31:00 am  
Kender,

"government is unweildy and slow, filled with red tape and unable to handle social services efficiently" ,

In fact, it's the entire opposite:

Charities are a mess because they cannot count on a budget, they cannot afford to have permanent infrastructure that really adress the problems by offering prevention rather than just cure, and are inherently slow in their response because they have to wait for donors to get off their asses and send their contributions.

Furthermore they are also inherently unfair, not intently, but because they are dependant on a random amounts when asking for contributions. Most of the time, they don't get enough (and obviously some of the needy out there end up being sacrificed) and in rare cases they get too much.

For instance, Médecins Sans Frontières have been overwhelmed with money in their special relief appeal for the Tsunami disaster, and have millions of euros too many. For the last 2 weeks they have published on their web site and in the papers and TV "please do NOT send any more money, we've got much too much". They are now going to contact every single contributor to ask them their permission to redirect their gifts to other relief operations.

How's that for efficiency? 

Posted by WhyNot
2/28/2005 11:50:00 am  
And unemployment is higher in the EU...growth is almost non existent...in germany I know you have heard of the woman being told, "Be a whore or lose your benefits". Socialism is a stagnant system and that will be realized in 20 years when most of europe has even higher unemployment and even lower growth. Unless it turns muslim. Then it will be a moot point.

And I like that fact that Harry would work for two bucks an hour, but you get what you pay for, and two bucks an hour is worth two bucks an hour. Minimum wage laws are there to force employers to pay just that, a MINIMUM wage, otherwise people would be getting paid what they are worth. In other words 2 bucks an hour for flippin' burgers. Minimum wage stops alot of people that have very little skills from being criminals. If raising the minimum wage would be good for working people thenm why not raise it to 50 dollars an hour?

I'll tell you why. When you have to pay more to employ someone you have to either scale back on how many work for you or raise your prices. Minimum wage is for those with no skills and those entering the work force. It should not be for those that are trying to support a family, but sometimes it is because unskilled people sometims lack the intelligence or ambition to better themselves. If that is what they are happy with, let them make minimum. You reap what you sow.

Is there a moral reason to work in a socialist country? I don't know. I don't live in one....yet. Can someone in france or germany please tell me the moral reason for working in a system that keeps you in a mostly stagnant level of society?

If I made minimum wage at my job I would not stay there even if I did love it. I would find a way to make what I make now and consider my current job a hobby. I know a few guys that do that now.

And Dianne: What exactly do (American) people have a right to? Life. Got it. Liberty. Check. The pursuit of Happiness.

Pay attention there, that is a tricky concept to those socialists out there. PURSUIT. Nobody gaurantees anyone HAPPINESS!!!
Healthcare was never mentioned in the founding documents of the US. They had doctors back then too. I wonder why that is. Of course you don't let a man bleeeding at the side of the road lie there and bleed, but neither do you offer the world an open door at the doctors office. America spends alot of money on medical care. And not everyone has health insurance. But we have the finest medical care on the planet. Know why? Because people realize they can make money from inventing new technologies and better medications.

Where is the incentive in a socialist country for that? "I will get paid the same whether you live or die, so why should I work harder to find a better system?"

As to shelter. I have a story about shelter. It is a story that still pisses me off.

My wife and I, two weeks after finding out we would be parents, moved into a bigger apartment on the other side of the complex we were living in. A few days later we got a letter stating that we would have to fill out financial information to continue living there as the new owner had joined a government program for what was called at the time "Section 8 housing". Welfare. We knew instantly that we made too much money to stay there, but not enough to find another apartment as nice as that one we had then. We started looking for a place to move. We had a year. We moved in two months. We moved because they started moving in the people on welfare. They were gangsters. Loud music at all times of the night, loud parties, graffiti got much worse and the manager of the complex was car-jacked IN the parking lot in broad daylight.

We had a nice apartment. Central air and heating. New flooring. Nice complex with a pool and spa. away from traffic and noise. The section 8 people got a new refridgerator when they moved in. Not us. We had to buy ours.

We ended up moving to a much smaller apartment, without central air and heating, old flooring, no pool, next to a very busy major highway....for 80 dollars more a month than we were paying for our much better apartment that we couldn't live in because we made too much money. The section 8 people? They got to pay almost 50% less for the same apartment than we had to.

We moved away when we bought a house two years later. Those apartments? They have the worst crime in that city now.

I hold no illusions as to the level of housing the "poor" in America get. It is better than the housing of those starting out.

You know what else? Those people got food stamps. We didn't. They get free health care. We don't. You know what? We now own a home...we have new cars, nice clothes, great health care, plenty of food and lots of money. I bet most of those people still are in those apartments. They have little ambition. They are happy to let the state take care of them. People like me are tired of taking care of these bums. These bums that continue to have more children than they can take care of without suckling at the government (taxpayer) teat.

I have seen very few cases that show a return for these programs. The vast majority of people I have seen on these programs, (and that is a substantial number) have no ambition and in alot of cases lack the intelligence to better their place in the world. They are not disabled, unless you count stupidity and laziness as a disability.

They live here in the greatest country in the world. People from other countries come here all the time with minimal education and a work ethic and a burning desire to succeed and they do. There is very little reason that most of the Americans on welfare couldn't do it either, save their absolute lack of trying.

BTW, the citizens of this country aren't "my children" and that is a useless analogy. If they were I could kick them in the ass while they are growing up and raise them correctly by teaching them a work ethic and how to apply themselves so they don't become a burden to the rest of us. But since I can't do that and they won't do for themselves I feel no obligation to take care of them beyond what I wish to give to charities, and this discussion has made me remember why I despise stupidity and laziness and when I see that bum on the corner tomorrow I think I will roll down the window and tell him to get a job.

Stupidity should be painful, laziness should be taxed and ignorance should be fined. Heavily. 

Posted by Kender
2/28/2005 11:55:00 am  
Dianne, see, I have that drive that makes one want to succeed.

If your back is all you have to offer then use it. Backs are a common commodity, in demand and in great supply...therefore they are cheap. I have an exercise rider that works for me, and I pay her well because she is skilled and knowledgeable and I can depend on her AND she is an old friend, but if she quit tomorrow I could get the same thing from someone else cheaper.

And to your question of when do I have enough? When I feel comfortable that if I wanted to I could shoot off for a holiday without money even being a thought. We liek being able to go to a restaurant and not even glance at the price. We like being able to not worry about a budget because the money is there. There is a freedom in that feeling that most people probably never know.

Now you can be happy with your older car. I am certainly happy with my old truck. You may be ok with living in a shoebox but I am certainly not. I like to entertain. I like having the concerts at my house. Every weekend during teh summer we have friends over and we ride the horses, cook steaks on teh grill and then play cards or sit in the spa. I like that. I don't like living somewhere that the neighbors can hear through the walls and someone else can tell you what to do. That, to me, is not freedom.


Now if I were a lawn maintainence worker I would nt expect as much for my services, because it is very easy work and most anyone can do it. Again, supply and demand.

However, I train racehorses. I spent years learning my trade, for low pay, alongside illegal immigrants and working for the same pay they got. I could still be doing that if I had no ambition. But I do. So I don't.


And I have been hungry and cold. You know what I did? I worked harder.

If you are looking for sympathy from me for those less fortunate and a softening of my stance you shant get it.

People get what they earn.

Marie Was Right!!!!!
2/28/2005 12:17:00 pm  
I'm beginning to see that you know little about anything but the 'American way' as you have little to no response to our thoughts and questions. 'America is the greatest' is an opinion and not an argument.

You make some really ridiculous statements such as the one about housing that are totally false and off the wall. You must be trying to convince yourself.

You should talk to an immigration lawyer about the percent of aliens that enter America hoping to get a piece of the pie only to find themselves in a cardboard box. I have.

You aptly express the differences between us, Kender. I understand you have no patience with people who are not self-serving or trying to climb the ladder of success as you see it.
You feel they are lazy, ignorant and deserve their position in life even if it's the street. Gotcha!

Thank you for re-affirming my belief in the need for more socialist policies in our government. It's obvious with characters such as yours making policy we will never rid the world of poverty and man's inhumanity to man. 

Posted by Dianne
2/28/2005 02:00:00 pm  
Kender,

You confirm what we suspected all along, i.e. that you are a person selfish to a point that defies imagination, and couldn't care less if ppl died of hunger on your doorstep. You'd even kick them into the gutter for being lazy and not succeeding in surviving.

We thus award you the well-earned title of "fascist of the week".

By the way, here's some information about Europe that might be of interest to you since you obvsiouly don't have a clue - you might find America not so glorious after all, unless of course one likes to be in the western country with the most porverty, the highest level of crime, the dumbest level of education, among the lowest productivity, the only one with near non-existent health care, shorter life expectancy, etc, etc:
---

The EU has 87 prisoners per 100,000 people; America has 685.

Americans work longer hours and take fewer vacations.

Back in 1980 the average American chief executive earned forty times the average manufacturing employee. For the top tier of American CEOs, the ratio is now 475:1 and would be vastly greater if assets, not income, were taken into account.

By way of comparison, the ratio in Britain is 24:1, in France 15:1, in Sweden 13:1.

A privileged minority has access to the best medical treatment in the world. But 45 million Americans have no health insurance at all (of the world's developed countries only the US and South Africa offer no universal medical coverage).

According to the World Health Organization the United States is number one in health spending per capita—and thirty-seventh in the quality of its service. As a consequence, Americans live shorter lives than West Europeans. Their children are more likely to die in infancy: the US ranks twenty-sixth among industrial nations in infant mortality, with a rate double that of Sweden, higher than Slovenia's, and only just ahead of Lithuania's—and this despite spending 15 percent of US gross domestic product on "health care" (much of it administrative costs of for-profit private networks).

Sweden devotes just 8 percent of its GDP to health. The United States spends much more on education than the nations of Western Europe; and it has by far the best research universities in the world. Yet a recent study suggests that for every dollar the US spends on education it gets worse results than any other industrial nation.

American children consistently underperform their European peers in both literacy and numeracy. US is outperformed in worker productivity by Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, and France.

The modern American economy is in hock to international bankers with a foreign debt of $3.3 trillion (28 percent of GDP).

Europeans even appear to be better at generating small and medium-size businesses. There are more small businesses in the EU than in the United States, and they create more employment (65 percent of European jobs in 2002 were in small and medium-sized firms, compared with just 46 percent in the US).

And they look after their employees much better. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights promises the "right to parental leave following the birth or adoption of a child" and every West European country provides salary support during that leave.

In Sweden women get sixty-four weeks off and two thirds of their wages. Even Portugal guarantees maternity leave for three months on 100 percent salary. The US federal government guarantees nothing.

In the words of Valgard Haugland, Norway's Christian Democratic minister for children and family: "Americans like to talk about family values. We have decided to do more than talk; we use our tax revenues to pay for family values."

In the US today the richest 1 percent holds 38 percent of the wealth and they are redistributing it ever more to their advantage. Meanwhile one American adult in five is in poverty—compared with one in fifteen in Italy. The countries of the EU also provide the largest share of the world's peacekeepers and international policemen.
---
I sincerely hope your business fails one day and you come crawling for social welfare. And you know what? I'd be speaking in favor of you getting it. 

Posted by WhyNot
2/28/2005 03:03:00 pm  
Kender, it is clear that you have no experience with true poverty. You don't really know what it is. 

Posted by Sarah
2/28/2005 03:31:00 pm  
Nice stats.....they make no difference to me. BTW, thanks for the award. Is there a plaque or a trophy with that? I have heard those stats before. When I do hear them I remember one thing. In a socialist society I don't believe I could start out dirt poor and rise to where I am today. I know in germany I couldn't. I have talked to too many people that are intimately familiar with the german school system. I worked very hard to get where I am. There is no school that teaches what I know. It is an experienced and knowledge based career. I had to learn it from the ground up. If it does fail I already have a pension through work, I also have health care and dental. But so does the newest most untrained worker at the track. Once you hold a license you have medical and dental.

I do believe that all people, not only the lazy and the ingnorant, should get what they earned. Laziness and/or ignorance or not dieases but choices.
How is the statement I made about housing off the wall? It was to illustrate that the lower class in our country, those that won't do for themselves, get better housing than those people working for it. And they get it cheaper.

I do care about people dying of hunger on my doorstep. I don't see hungry people here. I see lazy people. I see drug addicts begging for money. I see alchololics lying about needing medication to get money for whisky. I see mentally unstable people walking my streets and screaming at trees, but I see no hungry.



I do alot of charity work. I used to spread that around. Now I do charity that helps kids and the elderly. And one that helps musicians. I don't help adults. I saw too many of them cheating the system. Years ago my wife amd I were asked to help pass out thanksgiving dinner to the poor. We did, thinking it might be nice to sort and bag and passout dinners to peopple that may not have dinner that day. All was going well until three women came to get their food. They were dressed very nicely and had lots of gold jewelry on. They were done up with their hair and nails nice, fat and sassy, not a one of them looking hungry. They also happened to be related. Grandma, mom and daughter. They each received a meal for 11 people and asked me to help them out to thier car with it. When we got there I was shocked to see a brand new fully loaded mercedes. Realizing the hypocrisy of these three fat, well dressed, perfectly coiffed women taking alot of free food that could go to someone that needed it I simply walked away, not loading their car, retrieved my wife and left. That was the last time I helped adults.

And I will check about the EU giving the largest share of the worlds policemen. That is the problem. You guys think there needs to be a worlds policeman, but you want it to be under the auspices of the UN. The UN is corrupt. If ever the Connally Reservation is revoked and our guns are ordered taken from us you can bet that alot of Americans would rather die than be subjected to the tyranny of a world government, especially run by the UN. But the french like that idea don't they?

Maybe that is because regardless of the stats you bandy about you are still a small country with little power on the world stage, and that fact just "GAULS" the french. At one time france was indeed a powerful nation. Now, you are a fading shadow of your former self, increasingly understanding that America doesn't care what you think. You claim that you don't care that we don't care, yet you continue to whine about it. I'll tell you what. You two, (WhyNot and Dianne) stay in france in your shoebox lving in your socialist paradise. We will stay over here on our side of the pond, happily becoming richer and safer and ever more convinced that rampant socialism is not the way.

But when, through your appeasing socialist way you are overrun by radical muslims don't call us. Chances are we would help you yet again. But if by some million to one shot I am running the country don't hold your breath. I could care less if france went back to the stone age, and most of europe with it. You have all given up your drive to better yourself. You have given up a large part of your humanity in a losers quest to "end poverty", not realizing that there must be a balance in the world. You will never end poverty until everyone is poor.

All men are CREATED equal. We don't end up equal. 

Posted by Kender
2/28/2005 04:41:00 pm  
No sarah, I don't know what true poverty is. Growing up we always had some food on the table....cheap food, but food nonetheless...the lights weren't always on, the water didn't always flow, and clothes were thrift store or hand me downs and sometimes the cheap shoes from that thrift store didn't fit right, but there was always at least noodles on the table.

When I was young anyway. As I got older, (I am the oldest of many) my parents moved up in the world, living that American Dream. They bought a house, we got a dependable car and our clothes came off the rack instead of from the bin. They showed us how to work hard and succeed. Not one of us has been on welfare. Not one of us has moved back home. There are 15 of us spread around the country, 4 of those military, 2 in college, 4 with home based businesses, a nurse, a teacher, and two still trying to figure out what they want to do.

No food stamps. No welfare. My parents taught us that hard work will get you where you needed to go.

And now, my suits aren't even off the rack. I can afford a tailor.
2/28/2005 04:56:00 pm  
I see you slickly slipped past those stats, Kender, just the way you do the homeless. Rather than admit the faults of your government and yourself it's slicker to talk about any 'others' who don't agree with you. Denigrate them in anyway possible in order to prove you're better. The problem is you only succeed in proving Greg's thought in his article. Indeed, the state should provide social services. For when the right-wing is in power they will hustle the poor to fenced enclosures in some non-descript part of town away from the tourist shouting, "unclean, unclean."  

Posted by Dianne
2/28/2005 05:56:00 pm  
My parents taught us that hard work will get you where you needed to go. .

Again, you're fortunate. You're fortunate you weren't born in a thirdworld country. You're fortunate in having successful, hardworking parents. Many many children are not so fortunate.

More stats for you to ignore:

The U.S. Census Bureau defines poor families as those with cash incomes of less than $14,680 a year for a family of three – or $18,810 for a family of four. In 2003, the average poor family had an income of $8,858, or $738.00 per month.

Since 2000 – the last year before unemployment began to rise – the number of people in poverty has risen by 4.3 million, median income has fallen by $1,535 after adjustment for inflation, and the number of people with no health insurance has increased by 5.2 million.

In 2003, those who were poor became poorer on average – with the number of people living in extreme poverty, that is, with incomes below half the poverty line, climbing by 1.2 million, to 15.3 million people. The number of Americans living in extreme poverty reached the highest level on record, since data first became available in 1975.

A single parent of two young children working full-time in a minimum wage job for a year would make $10,712 before taxes - a wage $3,968 below the poverty threshold set by the federal government. (U.S. Department of Labor; U.S. Census Bureau.)

About 40 percent of poor single-parent, working mothers who paid for child care paid at least half of their income for child care; an additional 25 percent of these families paid between 40 and 50 percent of their incomes for child care.

While the Census figures reveal a significant number of Americans living in poverty, many experts feel that the measures used by the federal government drastically underestimate the real scale of poverty in America - primarily because the official poverty thresholds are considered "too low." Many experts believe a more realistic poverty threshold for a family of four would be in the area of $30,000 a year - and that a more accurate estimate of the poverty rate in America would be 30% of the total population. (Economic Policy Institute, 2001.)

Opportunities for those trying to work their way out of poverty are dwindling; by September 2003, 2.1 million American jobless workers - nearly a quarter of the total unemployed population - had been out of work for half a year or more - the highest level in 20 years.

Top 10 States with Highest Poverty Rate and Percent of People Below Poverty Level

1. Arkansas 18.5%
2. New Mexico 18.0%
3. Mississippi 17.9%
4. District of Columbia 17.3%
5. Louisiana 16.9%
6. West Virginia 16.9%
7. Texas 15.8%
8. Alabama 15.1%
9. Tennessee 14.3%
10. North Carolina 14.2%

U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, August 2004

Don't forget about your social security, folks. Invest that money!
 

Posted by Dianne
2/28/2005 06:17:00 pm  
Yep....that minimum wage is badbadbad...can't make a decent living from that. You aren't supposed to either.

I notice that the leader of the poverty list in the states is Arkansas. I have family there, (no surprise to you I am sure) and not one of them are even close to poverty....in fact, almost half of them are retired.

One of the problems here is people expect to make a living from minimum wage. That is not what it is for. Working your way out of poverty is not easy. Should it be? No. Anything worth doing is hard work. But then I don't expect you guys to understand the feeling of accomplishment one gets from actually achieving something on their own. You folks seem to think that having things handed to you by everybosy else and from everybody elses hard work is OK. If you don't mind giving up your hard earned money fine, but that is not the way things work here.

I won't expect you to truly understand, nor appreciate the term individualism. I also don't expect you to understand what drives an American. You should Dianne, being one once, but perhaps you are better suited to france.

I will take on these points tonight when I have more time. Right now I have a horse to run.  

Posted by Kender
2/28/2005 09:03:00 pm  
"But then I don't expect you guys to understand the feeling of accomplishment one gets from actually achieving something on their own. "

What a ignorant boor you are. I don't say this in anger but in disgust. Thankfully, you are not representative of all the American population.

My conversation with you has ended unless you begin to acknowledge all  the facts regarding your country. I don't think you are able to do this and don't expect me to respect your viewpoint until you are more enlightened. It's clear you don't respect anyone's viewpoint regardless of the facts presented. 

Posted by Dianne
2/28/2005 10:48:00 pm  
I knew business owners like Kender existed, but I had never actually met one. I've worked for many businesses, and, with the exception of one (who went belly up because he got greedy), they all understood that their accomplishments were made possible through the efforts of their employees, and their fair treatment of them, NOT their own efforts. Yes, they worked hard, and expected their employees to, but this asshole harks back to the Robber Barons of old, who likes having his serfs...a man who wants everything handed to him by every else's hard work.

If I had an employer like Kender, I'd screw him over every last chance I got and raise a glass at his ruin.

He is representative of what brought socialism and communism into existence. He is not representative of an average American, he is representative of a small group of opportunists, who inevitably fall when Fortuna's wheel turns.

To him I say...enjoy it while you can. 

Posted by Buckwheat
2/28/2005 11:26:00 pm  
Buckwheat? I happen to work with my friends. You wouldn't be one of those. My crew came up with me through the ranks and we are a team. I rely heavily upon every one of them and they rely on me. We are all equal in ability with varying strengths. My strength is dealing with the political and social side of our business, therefore I am the frontman. All of us can do each others jobs, and frequently do. You know nothing.

Dianne...I had a long day, and I was going to post about all of your stats. I may still, if I am in a better mood tomorrow and feel like putting up with a self righteous bitch like yourself.

But I will give you a short comment on all of them.

This country is not perfect. But your unemployment is higher in the EU and you growth rate is much smaller. Your taxes are much higher. The chance of working your way beyond a median level in the EU is much less than here. Say you have better health care all you want, I take that to mean you had no insurance over here.

In short you are socialists with no ambition, glad to float through life at the whim of the government, much like the hippies of the 60's but maybe smelling better. (I am not sure about that as you ARE in france)

You have no drive nor ambition, and would rather go through life taking a safe road with little chance of failure instead of striving to the heights you may have been able to attain.

The whole lot of you are sad examples of the human spirit, with no heart, little courage and a fear of failure that defies description.

One last note, go ahead and send "devient1" after my computer like you did keys. It simply shows the level of your maturity. 

Posted by Kender
3/01/2005 07:58:00 am  
P.S. I make less than 10% more than what my crew makes. What say you to that stat?
3/01/2005 08:02:00 am  
"Dianne...I had a long day, and I was going to post about all of your stats. I may still, if I am in a better mood tomorrow and feel like putting up with a self righteous bitch  like yourself. "

I always bring out the best in people. heh-heh 

Posted by Dianne
3/01/2005 08:41:00 am  
"One last note, go ahead and send "devient1" after my computer like you did keys. It simply shows the level of your maturity.  "

You curse me, then accuse us of trying to hack your computer and in the same breath talk about one's level of maturity showing. It's time for you to go home, Kender. Come back when your socialization skills have improved.  

Posted by Dianne
3/01/2005 09:11:00 am  
"I always bring out the best in people "

LOL, fascists always end up frothing at the mouth when they are exposed. 

Posted by WhyNot
3/01/2005 09:22:00 am  
Hey Kender: I posted on Greg's site, and you might be the only one on this site that actually understands my point. The previous post there, by Looke, references an article by an EX-SOCIALIST and was most enlightening. This is Gregs Place:

(http://nzpoliticalcomments.blogspot.com/2005/02/why-state-should-provide-social.html#comments)

The socialist viewpoint seems inherently dismal to me, and relies on setting up an all powerful government to take away choice from people, because people are bad, and cannot make good choices, for all sorts of good reasons (and stuff the freedom to make bad choices) They therefore have a very real need to prove you are BAD. Every-thing but the government is BAD. Naturally, if a government is bad, its only because it isn't a socialist government. 

Posted by Tyrone
3/01/2005 10:55:00 am  
Tyrone, your comment doesn't actually make sense but, I will take the following from it in order to respond.

"The socialist viewpoint seems inherently dismal to me, and relies on setting up an all powerful government to take away choice from people "

Could you be more specific concerning the freedom of choice that has been ripped away from me by the all-powerful government?  

Posted by Dianne
3/01/2005 11:57:00 am  
The pursuit of our own self-interest is very important. However, we need a more realistic approach, that is, not to take self-interest too seriously but spend more time thinking about the well-being of other sentient beings. Being more altruistic and taking into account the feelings and well-being of other sentient beings is, in actual fact, a much more healthy approach in pursuing our own interests. If we do that, we will see a marked change, a feeling of relaxation. We will no longer be easily provoked by petty circumstances, thinking that everything is at stake, and acting as if our whole image, identity and existence is being threatened. On the other hand, if we constantly think of our own self-interest—totally oblivious to the well-being of other sentient beings—then even the tiniest circumstances can provoke deep feelings of hurt and disturbance. The truth of this is something we can judge from our own experience.

In the long run, generating a good heart will benefit both ourselves and others. In contrast, allowing our minds to remain enslaved by self-centeredness will only perpetuate our feelings of dissatisfaction, frustration and unhappiness, both in temporary terms and in the long term as well.

the Dalai Lama 

Posted by Dianne
3/01/2005 09:25:00 pm  
very interesting...some of you need to get your facts and concepts straight..."socialism" is a form of societal/economic organization designed, essentially, to redistribute income..."capitalism" is an economic mechanism, it is not a form of government...however, capitalism cannot work unless there is greater, rather than lesser, economic freedom and, generally, economic and personal freedom go hand in hand..."communism" is for lack of a better phrase, advanced socialism, where there is no private ownership of any means of production and all labor is provided to the state...and is a form of government since it relies on totally central planning and direction from the state, rather than guidelines and incentives by the state (e.g. tax policy)...now, there has never been a successful communist state because communism is antithetical to human nature, whether you like to hear that or not...ergo, the more "socialist" a system becomes, the more it becomes an impediment to the human spirit...the "socialist paradises" of western Europe are all headed for demographically driven collapse as the highly taxed workforce becomes older is not proportionately replaced...just think of our social security system, only many times worse from the standpoint of the ability to fund the benefits as the # of retireees grows in proportion to the # of those who are contributing...

question: what incentive is there under a system of "from each according to ability, to each according to need" to become a cardiovascular surgeon if there is no greater benefit to having put in the years of study and training plus the many more hours of work and stress, if there is no greater personal tangible benefit (i.e. more $$ for you and family) than if you simply went to trade school and learned fine carpentry? both are useful but only one is live saving.. how many persons will go the extra 50 miles just for the "moral" benefits? closer to home, why would you work OT to get a job done if there is no additional benefit to you? as former workers from the Soviet Union have said, and i paraphrase: the Party pretends that we are productive, and we pretend to work... 

Posted by ric ottaiano
3/02/2005 03:28:00 am  
I didn't really expect it to make sense to you Dianne. And I am not so presumptious to work out what freedoms the government has ripped away from you. For all I know, you are living in a country where the government pays for the roof over your head, your food, and allows you to avoid the neccessity of getting a job, which is good, because you'd only be exploited anyway.

Nice quote from the Dalai Lama. I agree with the statement. Can't quite figure out though where he says that increasing my taxes to ensure I do my bit for humanity is somehow better than me deciding to help because I WANT TO. Or the bit where you decide I should pay more taxes because you've been thinking in an altruistic way. This is where your altruism justifies the government taking my money and giving it to an organisation that may well waste it on a minersterial trip to Sweden to discuss the benefits of increasing taxes to fulfull our obligation to humankind.

I am certainly not advocating we don't care for people. I am deeply distrustful of government fulfulling that role.

"The truth of this is something we can judge from our own experience."

I already posted on Gregs site re how important I think that Charities not be taken over by Government. As the good Lama says, generating a good heart is the key, and insight from experience vital to self development. That doesn't automatically happen if some-one takes 60% of your income. 

Posted by Tyrone
3/02/2005 03:48:00 am  
OK Dianne, lets take a look at those numbers shall we? On second thought once I started to do the research I figured why bother?

Yes we have alot of people unemployed, but you have more.

Yes we have more living in poverty than you do in france, but your taxes, even with the recent tax breaks, are much higher than ours.

Your economy is stagnant, and your governments idea of job creation (make people work less so more people get hired) is silly and an unsound business practice.

Your economic and social mobility is almost non-existent.

Basically in a socialist system like the one in france your chance to be successful is much, much less than it is in a system of capitalism. If you guys feel good working to support people that won't then rock on with it. If it gives you a good feeling to be taxed at one of the highest rates in europe just so you can sleep at night in your little home feel free.

But don't think that stating how evil we are because we believe and use a system different than yours will go without notice. There is only so much that can be done about the poor. Artificially bringing them up to parity is a prescription for failure in the long run.

You just refuse to accept the fact that life isn't fair and there will always be haves and have nots. In America though you can become a have much easier than anywhere else in the world.

 

Posted by Kender
3/02/2005 06:55:00 am  
"OK Dianne, lets take a look at those numbers shall we? On second thought once I started to do the research I figured why bother?  "

So you've formed opinions will no real knowledge of the facts?

Because this is an important issue I will get back to you. I'm just beginning my day and on my first cup of coffee.

Ciao 

Posted by Dianne
3/02/2005 08:48:00 am  
Ric

“very interesting...some of you need to get your facts and concepts straight” 

You're nearly correct on your definitions, and in fact if someone needs to get their facts and concepts right it's 140 million republican americans who brand anyone who's not pro Bush a "socialist".

Now, starting with the easy one, communism: there has never been a communist society in the world, even if again right wingers brandish the term left right and center. Karl Marx envisaged communism as the ultimate system which he himself recognize would involve the human spirit to change for it to work. It is a utopia until this happens.

Your question of incentive under a system of "from each according to his ability, to each according to need" is pretty much irrelevant because it refers to a communist system which as I said, does not exit and has never existed.

Even in an imaginary perfect socialist system (meaning one that would be exactly as Marx imagined it), there is incentive to climb up the ladder. Your example of a surgeon would earn much more than a brick layer. In fact, a brick layer who lays more bricks per hour than another would also earn more.

You also have to realize that the vision of socialism and communism as devised by Karl Marx have evolved quite a bit since their inceptions. This explains why there are strong communist parties all over Europe. None of them actually fool themselves into thinking a *real* communist system à la Marx would work. Technically speaking they label themselves wrongly, and would at best correspond to socialist.

But since the 21 first century vision of socialism has also greatly evolved towards a *center* stand, the present communist parties chose to label themselves so simply to state a more *leftish* stand than the socialist parties.

You're exactly right in saying capitalism is not a form of gov, and in a way, comparing capitalism and socialism is a bit like comparing apples and oranges.

However, that is university rhetorics. In practice, the terms today are used widely simply to reflect the degree of government intervention into the free enterprise market, i.e. capitalism.

In fact, today all countries' economies work on a capitalist model, from the bottom of South America to China (Nth Korea may be an exception). You could also say that all countries also have socialist govs, since in all countries, some of the "income is redistributed", as you put it. There is no country where taxes don't exist. Even in the US, some services are provided by money taken from ppl's earnings - like roads, etc. Minimum wage is also a form of gov redistribution.

Ppl in practice use the terms to denote a mixture of economic model as well as government one. Technically incorrect, yes. But who cares, that is how the terms are used nowadays. Right and Left would be more accurate, I guess.

Modern socialists in Europe are not aiming at destroying their capitalist economic model. For instance for the last few decades, France has had about 50/50 right wing and socialist governments, and it's always stayed a capitalist economy.

Europe's modern socialists aim is more directed at things like:
- human rights, meaning not just torture etc, but assurance of access to a minimum decency of life on the lowest wage (i.e. being able to feed themselves, have the basic commodities of life, etc),
- access for all ppl to health and education
- greater control over the corporations (regulations regarding working conditions, pollution of the environment, employment discrimation, etc)
- keep essential services as public enterprises (roads, railway network, electric grid and water supply)

In these respects, our nordic neighbors (Denmark, Sweden, etc) are a lot more advanced that we are.

All in all, unlike what ignorant Kender says, there is plenty of incentive for ppl to work hard to earn more and/or climb up the social ladder. 

Posted by WhyNot
3/02/2005 10:15:00 am  
Tyronne,

“For all I know, you are living in a country where the government pays for the roof over your head, your food, and allows you to avoid the neccessity of getting a job” 

Well, you know little. The Fr gov does not pay for ppl's food nor lodging. The only things that are free here are health and education, and they are free because our taxes pay for it.

One cannot live here without a job. The only thing that allows you to just survive with a minimum of decency if you don't have a job is the social welfare, which comes from the gov, not from the charities.

But being jobless is not a right and unless you can prove you are unable to hold one (for instance if you are severely handicapped), you're expected to look for one, and you have to prove it. If you are fit to work and do not satisfy the administration you are making serious efforts to find a job, you can find your unemployment benefits cut off, and then you're in deep shit.

“if some-one takes 60% of your income”Where is that? FYI, the minimum wage here is around 1300 euros gross and 1100 net per month. I don't think I need a calculator to see that the taxes are clearly nowhere near 60%.

“I am deeply distrustful of government fulfulling that role”You may have good reason to. Certainly, seeing what Bush and his cronies get away with, I wouldn't trust the US gov either one iota. It's not accountable for anything, and makes the US look like a true banana republic.

However not all governments get away with murder like the US one does. Not much more than a week ago there was a near revolution here because it was discovered our finance minister lived in a huge luxury apartment in the most expensive part of Paris, rent paid by the State. This wasn't actually illegal - ministers have the right to rent a small apartment in Paris paid by the State, which I guess is fair enough since they might live at the other end of the country but have to work every day in Paris. But the outrageously expensive rent sent such an outcry of indignation that within 2 hours the Prime minister had to fire Gaymard in order to avoid another 1789 revolution.

I'm sure there is still plenty of corruption going on, but believe you me, our gov can't get away with the sort of crap rampant at the white house.

Besides, charity organizations are also regularly found to have corruption in them. 

Posted by WhyNot
3/02/2005 11:12:00 am  
Kender,

“OK Dianne, lets take a look at those numbers shall we? On second thought once I started to do the research I figured why bother?” 

Why am I not surprised, LOL. Stats? Figures? Eeeek! All you can do is talk through your ass. 

Posted by WhyNot
3/02/2005 11:16:00 am  
due to lack of time, just a few quesitons for now:

1. who decides what the surgeon earns versus the bricklayer, and on what criteria would any such decision be based?

2. if there is corruption in govt in both capitalistic-based as well as socialist-based systems (and, as you point out, in charities), why do you believe that more govt control will not engender more corruption in govt, since it does create greater opportunity for it?

3. why have countries such as China felt compelled to move away from more "pure" socialist models and instead incorporate greater capitalistic concepts?

4. if communism would require a change in the "human spirit" for it to work (a statement with which i agree), would it be correct to conclude that the more socialist a society seeks to be, the more change in the human spirit will be required? 

Posted by ric ottaiano
3/02/2005 10:43:00 pm  
Ric,

1. I don't know. It would depend on how the system is set up for it. For instance here, while we have a capitalist economy, there is also a public sector, namely the schooling and uni system, EDF (our electric grid), SNCF (our railway network) and our hospital system. The minimum salaries for given positions (say, a young intern at hospital completing his studies, a cleaner at the hospital, a non-specialized nurse, a cardiovascular surgeon, etc) are all determined in a grid which is law - i.e. it is passed into law by our Assemblée Nationale (= your Congress) after a panel of representatives from employees and the administration thrash it out and agree. It also includes things like set increases versus experience (number of years working in the field) and other factors (such as indexing with inflation).

Whenever a particular category feels their salaries is not keeping up with reality (for instance say new regulations have made simple nurse studies 2 years longer) then they re-negociate, and if it takes too long for them to get heard, they protest and threat with strike.

2. Corruption in our gov is fairly minimal. At least in terms of how they handle the nation's economy. Oh, i'm sure there is plenty of corruption at the individual level, but it has very little impact on assigning the bulk of the state coffers money to the various bodies, be they regional funding, hospital funding, etc. For the simple reason that it is all public stuff, there is no way it can be hidden from the population.

On the other hand private corporations are inherently working on corruption principles. It's not even corruption, i.e. they don't need to say one thing and do another, they do whatever they like or just about. There is no accountability to the public or the employees. If the board of directors decide to vote themselves a 200% increase while freezing the workers wages, then they don't even need to tell the workers, let alone justify it to them.

In the end, it is clear to me, at least in this country, when comparing private and public enterprises, that you have an overwhelmingly better chance of seeing transparency and accountability in the public sector.

3. A couple of reasons, I think. First, in the case of China and ex-USSR, both countries jumped for a feudal system into one that was not only so radically different but one where nobody had any experience. As well, the respective red revolutions leader failed to realize that even in a purely socialist model you need to have economic think tanks to make the economy work - you can't just rely on having redressed the gross injustices to have a florishing economy. In a way, the same kind of thing happend at the 1789 revolution: ppl did away with the cast system of nobles and peasants, but none of them were prepared, let alone equipped, for dealing with this new thing they wanted, i.e. a democracy. And so it was one big bloody mess for the 10 years of The Terreur.

The second factor is I think actually related to the first, and is a left-over from it: the gross inefficiencies of the failed Chinese and USSR economies left their mark in western Europe too, and particularly here in our public services.

But things are changing a lot, and in W Europe at least, the differences between private and public enterprise efficiencies are getting very small. For instance EDF manages to provide the country with an a very reliable electric grid at a very reasonable kWh cost. In comparison the few years I lived in Florida and was powered the private Co "Florida Power" I was appalled. The kWh was twice the price and the service disgusting - power cuts every single day in summer. I don't mean to say that a public enterprise is necessarily more efficient than a private one, but merely pointing out that if run properly it can compete pretty well. In fact EDF has won contracts in many countries to re-do cities and regional electric grids.

But pure effiency in terms of cost vs profit is only one aspect of things. You also need to look at the services provided and their repercussion not only from a humanitarian point of view but cost as well. For instance: EDF has a charter. Its charter is not only to make 2 ends meet by producing electriciy and selling it to the citizens, it also has a commitment to make it available to all. That means that, within reasons, it will build the infrastructure necessary to give access to electricity to a small community of 30 houses even if the cost will take 300 years of consumption to break even on the deal. In Florida, we lived at some stage with friends who had a small house at the end of a dead end street where there was no street lights. Took our friends forking out 50,000 dollars to Florida Power to have one street light installed.

4. I don't think so. It doesn't matter how socialist a society becomes, the system still provides for different incomes based on both amount of work and skills, therefore incentive. A communist society would have no difference in earnings at all. More socialist doesn't mean closer to communism - there is one huge step between the two. Again, looking at our Fr society, while there are private clinics and schools, most of the ppl with skills and ambitions turn to the public sector, simply because you can be well off enough, there are more opportunities for achieving really prestigious careers, and you have a certain job security. If you are a brilliant young cardiovascular surgeon in the making, there no doubt you'll forget the private clinics and aim to work in one of the more famous well equipped public hospitals. You might not make the 1 million bucks a year that you would in a Saint Tropez or Cannes plastic surgery private clinics, but your wage will be very nice indeed.

Hope I answered you question in a useful manner. My main angle has been to highlight the pluses of a socialist based system, mostly because I realize there is no need for me to demonstrate to you the pluses of capitalism :-) 

Posted by WhyNot
3/03/2005 02:16:00 am  
i will need to take some time and digest your delightful response...it's nice to periodically not  hear invective and ad hominems...by the way, last summer my wife and i spent two weeks in your country...in the Dordogne region at a 16th century chateau and then in Paris...quite an extraordinary and wonderful trip...it allowed me to dust of my 5 years of Francais! 

Posted by ric ottaiano
3/03/2005 06:52:00 am  
here is a problem  endemic to more socialist oriented economies...higher unemployment...why do you think that is? 

Posted by ric ottaiano
3/03/2005 06:57:00 am  
Perhaps I was not clear in my last comment. I stopped doing the research on the stats you posted for two reasons. One, they sound about right and I was in no mood to look for minor changes in them and two, I was simply too tired.

Your system has different problems than our system. There will always be that.

I prefer our system. I notice in an earlier comment the stat about the minimum euro wage being 1300 a month with a take home of 1100.....not a 60% tax rate certainly, but what is the take home when the pay is, say 20,000 euros a month?

Just for kicks and giggles what if it was 40,000 euros a month?
 

Posted by Kender
3/03/2005 07:53:00 am  
"what if it was 40,000 euros a month "

I'm not sure, but the tax would certainly be proportionally higher since we have a sliding scale. The same in Australia when I was living there, where the top income tax rate was 49%, i.e. half your pay would go in tax. It may be even higher here, and if you are really that interested I can find out for you.

But I don't where the problem is. If 1100 is enough to live modestly (which it is here, unlike in the US where living on the minimum wage was impossible), then if you earn 40,000 and lose 50% in tax, you still have 20,000 left. In other words, you still have a spending power nearly 20 times the minimum wage earner. I never heard loud protests by the high incomers either here nor in Australia.

You could look at it another way: you could think that instead of tax rate increasing with higher income, it decreases with lower income. Like giving an added tax break for the less fortunate. 

Posted by WhyNot
3/03/2005 10:25:00 am  
WhyNot: "Well you know little." Did I take that the wrong way? Was it public knowledge where Dianne lives? Are you Dianne or do you both live in France?

As Kender noted, it would be interesting to understand the tax rates of France on higher incomes than the minimum wage.

But the point I was making about tax rates was not confined to income tax. In New Zealand, there are stepped rates of income tax plus a VAT, plus taxes on certain items (taxes on gasoline make up about half the cost). Local body taxes (rates, water, rubbish collection, and then taxes on those taxes!) impact on your net income, as well as other charges.

The wastage (and accountability) of government is always a highly debatable point in NZ, as is how easy it is to get a benefit and stay on one. I am of the opinion that the wastage is rife, and am working on a blog to track this. I'll send you a link when its ready.

I'm convinced that this wastage runs at a different level than what you described in your example: "within 2 hours the Prime minister had to fire Gaymard in order to avoid another 1789 revolution". This sounds to me a symptom of Politicial Correctness. It really gets in the way of working from a position of integrity. Hopefully, the facts caught up with the hysterical reaction and it turned out to be a good decision?

In NZ an M.P. promised not to take a "Golden Handshake", and was later found to have accepted $140,000 or so. He also DID NOT declare the income on his tax return (generally illegal for anyone else) and once caught used the feeble excuse that the money could not be refused for Maori Cultural Sensitivity reasons (it was a gift, not a termination payment). I say feeble, not out of disrespect for Maori culture, but lack of honesty in declaring it). His punishment: relegated to the back bench. Ouch. This from a PM that wants to emulate Sweden. Is that how they do things there? This is my example and experience of a Socialist Government. It doesn't cut it for me to hear "they are not a proper socialist government". They will be if they get their way, and I don't see automatic trnasformation of their ministers into Pope material.

Our government is increasing taxes, resisting accountability, growing in the number of departments and scope and yet failing to deliver on the basics of education, health and protection. New laws come into play where I can be fined if I let my child buy a $1 lottery ticket, but the government advertises them during kids TV. They spend $20 million on advertising a new "family benefit" in an election year, when they could just calculate the amount automatically. The list goes on.

When I lived in Australia and Canada the issues were much the same. I don't have to convince you about USA. The quick skim through the UK scene hasn't impressed. Looking at todays Le Monde, it looks like some dude called Breton is promising to cut the huge wastage in government, and get unemployemnt under 10%. Sounds like deja-vu to me.

Yes there is corruption in some charities (but the ones I donate to are pretty good with publishing their accounts) and I'm not forced to give over 40% out of my total income to them, The Govt have plans to get it up to 60%. What are property prices like in France? And if I move there, am I allowed to say the word "bugger"






 

Posted by Tyrone
3/03/2005 10:28:00 am  
Ric

"endemic to more socialist oriented economies...higher unemployment "

I'm not qualified enough (meaning, I don't have a degree in economics) to give you an enlightened answer, but I can observe a few facts that make me doubt seriously there is a direct relationship with "more socialist orientated" and "higher unemployment".

1. The 10 year long great depression started in the US in 1929 and in turn affected the western European countries most tied with US in trade, i.e. UK and Germany. The US unemployment rate rose to nearly 30% in 1932, and 25% in Germany. Much less in other European countries. Clearly, socialism wasn't a reason for the massive unemployment rate, and those "more socialist" countries suffered a much less unemployment crisis.

2. The nordic countries of the EU (sweden for instance) are by far more socialist than France. They don't have our massive unemployment problem.

3. France is getting less and less socialist, and yet its economic and unemployment problems are getting worse. In fact, while our previous gov under Jospin was socialist, the last 3 years under Raffarin have been as right wing as it has for decades: not only do we have a right-wing gov, we have a center/right wingish president (not that our president has much to do with how the country is run) and a majority right wing coalition in our Assemblée Nationale. Let's see what their achievements have been:

- highest unemployment rate for yonks
- constant erosion of our social system (cuts in Health Care, in retirement benefits)
- selling state assets to the private world. France Telecom is now more than 50% privately owned, and the gov is trying to sell off EDF and SNCF and would already have done it if it hadn't been for the fact another revolution would have erupted here. Selling state assets is probably the dumbest thing I can think of: quick buck making scheme to make the economic performance look good, but then the loss of income from profit making public enterprises obviously mean the next gov will have an extra financial burden.

Anyway... from the above examples, I'd say the reasons for stagnant economies have little if any to do with socialism, but are much more complex issues way beyond my knowledge in economics.

PS: I'm glad you enjoyed your trip. And yes, being able to babble a bit of français is certainly useful for a tourist as you'll have no doubt noticed nobody here can speak of word of English. Most ppl haven't quite realized we are part of the EU and that it's about time we all start learning English (as have already nearly all of our neighbors, from Holland to Sweden). Sigh. 

Posted by WhyNot
3/03/2005 11:10:00 am  
Tyronne

"Was it public knowledge where Dianne lives? Are you Dianne or do you both live in France? "

Sorry if I sounded abrupt. I assumed the statements you made about where Dianne lived were about France. By the way, I'd like to know what country you were then refering to - a country where the gov pays your lodging and food, I mean.

Dianne and I are married and currently live in France. She's American, was born there, lived there all her life until she came to France 5 years ago. I'm a mix, born in Africa, several citizenships, and don't consider myself of any particular nationality - I'm just a citizen of the world. In descending order of number of years spent living in the world: Australia, France, USA and Germany.

"it would be interesting to understand the tax rates of France on higher incomes than the minimum wage ..... there are stepped rates of income tax plus a VAT..."

I already more or less answered your first question in a reply to Kender, but if you want more details, I'll do some research. Yes, we also have a VAT (we call it TVA), same as Australia's GST. In fact our state coffers get more money from indirect taxes than from income tax.

Ok, I read your explanations & griefs concerning the NZ gov. Naturally, I'm not in a position to do anything else than just listen. Perhaps Greg would care to argue with you. The only thing I remember of NZ is how Muldoon changed the borders of the constituencies to ensure he would be re-elected. Now if that isn't corruption on a massive scale, I don't know what is - I mean, it's like officially turning democracy into dictatorship.

Speaking of "golden handshakes", last year there was a Fr guy here who became the CEO of a gigantic media corporation (can't remember either his name nor the corporation's but will find out if you want). Something the size of Universal Studios. He obviously wasn't very cluey because within months he made the Co go into the red to the nifty tune of 80 billion euros. When the shareholders eventually held a meeting demanding his resignation, he finally agreed (but it took several goes) on the condition he'd get a 20 million euro farewell payout for the inconvenience. Howzat for wastage and accountability?

I notice you also mention Canada and the US in your criticism of govs. So... what are you driving at? I mean, clearly the US gov is anything BUT socialist orientated, so I fail to see your main point which I thought at first was to say socialist govs are bad whereas right-wing ones are good. Please explain.

Also, I think you're correct in assuming there is lots of wastage everywhere, regardless of govs. Corruption at a level that significantly affect the distribution of the state coffers, I'm not so sure, at least here in Europe. It would be too easy to track down and blow up in a scandal. But minor corruption, for sure (when I say minor, I mean in the scale of the nation's wealth, i.e. even if some dude manages to detour millions in his pocket, it's obviously clearly wrong but doesn't screw the entire system. BTW, several of our right wing politicians have been caught with exactly that and are charged with criminal actions against them).

You mention Gaymard's episode as "political correctness". You couldn't be more right. It was disgusting to hear the speeches of his colleagues still praising the guy. As far as the new dude in charge, Breton, it's too early to say if he's going to do any good. At least, his record is encouraging since he managed to turn several huge organizations from near bankrupcy to profit making (France Telecom and Honeywell-Bull in particular). Let's pray, because clearly our current right wing gov doesn't have a clue.

"and I'm not forced to give over 40% out of my total income to them"

That is a really silly statement, Tyronne. Do those charities provide you with roads, health care, schooling, hospitals, unemployment benefits, etc?

"And if I move there, am I allowed to say the word "bugger""

Bugger that mate, you can't bloody find anyone who doesn't bloody say "putain" (= fuck/fuckin') or "enculé" (=motherfucker/cunt). Women are even worse than men cursing. You need to get hold of Paul Keating's book of insults and have someone translate it into French, LOL. 

Posted by WhyNot
3/03/2005 12:36:00 pm  
Tyronne (looking forward to your blog when it comes out):

"Our [NZ] government is increasing taxes, resisting accountability, growing in the number of departments and scope and yet failing to deliver on the basics of education, health and protection. New laws come into play where I can be fined if I let my child buy a $1 lottery ticket, but the government advertises them during kids TV. They spend $20 million on advertising a new "family benefit" in an election year, when they could just calculate the amount automatically. The list goes on."
-yes the government increased taxes, but NZ still has low taxes compared to much of the OECD (largely becuase we don't subisides agriculture anymore).
The Labour government has more accountability than any previous government. It took 18months for the Minister of Conservation to loss his portfolios after Cave Creek under the National government. Lianne Daizel lost her portfolios for lying within a week.
There has been a limited growth in the size of the public sector.
The government has raised health spending by 40%, education by a similar amount. By 'protection' I take it you mean the military. Well sure they scrapped the aging air combat wing, but during the Gulf War (the first) the Skyhawks were offered to join in, but were rejected. New Zealand does not need a combat air force, we do not need a combative military. get over it.
Lotto ads are not screened during kids tv, stop lying. They cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 16 (I think). The operator takes the fine if they sell it to someone underage. If you give your kid a Instant Kiwi ticket, then you have introduced them to gambling. there needs to be a way to reduce the amount of gambling, and fining the parents would work. do you have any references to where this has happened? no, well well.
Raising people's awareness of extra money they are entitled to so that they can raise a family, and there is something you disagree with in that? They can calculate automatic but they cannot pay automatic as they don't have everyone's details due to the Privacy Act (government agencies cannot swap information). Or are you against privacy as well?

"In NZ an M.P. promised not to take a "Golden Handshake", and was later found to have accepted $140,000 or so" - his punishment of being relegated to the backbench is only while there is an inquiry into his actions. Once that inquiry has decided whether something illegal has happened then he will have to face the courts (or not). Or do you presume guilty before being proved innocent? 

Posted by Greg Stephens
3/03/2005 11:16:00 pm  
The debate between what we now call socialist and capitalist, left wing and right wing, liberal and conservative has been going on for ages. One example of attempts to redistribute the wealth favoring the less favored is the one by Tiberius and Gaius Graccus in the second century BCE, in times of the Roman Republic. Redistributing the wealth has always been the aspiration of the poor and the fear of the rich. My personal choice for socialism, leftism or liberalism is based on our own molecular structure. 1.5 billion years ago, when we were protein molecules competing for survival, we did not care about the competitor. It was savage, survive or die. And it remained for billions of years like that. Homo sapiens is unique in one aspect. It discovered its own evolution, it developed a conscience. We are suddenly able to make our future, to travel to the stars, to survive in case or planet is destroyed. At the same time, we, unconsciosly sometimes, discovered that some of us are not born with the same capabilities. Some are taller, some are stronger, some are smarter. And be cause of that, we created the law, the state, the taxes, the human rights. The whole purpose is to make us a little more equal so that the rules of evolution and of nature do not make us kill each other. The more redistribution of wealth there is, the more we become something different. The more capitalist we are, the more we will resemble the animals that struggle for survival.  

Posted by Dr. Marco
3/04/2005 05:16:00 am  
"The whole purpose is to make us a little more equal so that the rules of evolution and of nature do not make us kill each other. "

So far we seem to be doing a piss poor job of it. Capitalist continue to outnumber Humanitarians or so it seems by the effect we are having around the world.
 

Posted by Dianne
3/04/2005 11:23:00 am  
Hi WhyNot. Here's my latest take on all this:

" I notice you also mention Canada and the US in your criticism of govs. So... what are you driving at? "

ANY LARGE organisations are to be mistrusted. I doubt I need to talk to you about the ENRONS, GENERAL ELECTRICS and NIKES. Government organisations also tend to be large, and with that growth creeps in the ability to work around the checks and balances we think we have. What is uncovered (in all regimes) is pretty much the tip of the iceberg. I see your point about minor corruption as an "acceptable" side-effect of any system, if it makes up onloy a fraction of the managed wealth. But is it? I'm going to have to think about quantifying this in a better way.

And I said: "and I'm not forced to give over 40% out of my total income to them" and you said: "That is a really silly statement, Tyronne. Do those charities provide you with roads, health care, schooling, hospitals, unemployment benefits, etc?"

This statement does not sound so silly to me. The government does indeed provides roads, health care, police etc. And I would quite happily fork out 10-20% of my income to fund that. There are several studies around to suggest that is the amount required for those services. However, if the government can expand on its role, it expands on its tax base to support that role. Suddenly, I am paying 40% of my income, and in the case of NZ, not getting the core items properly delivered. Thus, they then justify taking MORE to deliver on the core services, and still I suspect they will fail. They have a 6 billion dollar tax surplus and medical waiting lists are at an all time high. My recent experience when my 4 yr old boy broke his arm confirmed this.

Every time some-one mentions "tax cut" in NZ, some-one else accuses them of wanting to see people bleed to death in accident and emergency. I want better medical, I am happy to provide a welfare saftey net, I know this takes taxes. If we cut out the huge other areas the government has poked its nose into, we may actually get that, on time and on budget.

I can see I'm going to have to start blogging to develop this concept further! I've been setting up a blog yesterday and today (and finding there's lots to learn, which is good). I'll see how I go.

Finally, re the swearing. That is good news. The only story associated with France in my news feeds (that I noticed) was that the French had outlawed the word "bugger" as it was disciminating against gays! Yes, France has been promoted here as the Polically Correct Haven of the World. Sacre bleu!

Have a good life. 

Posted by Tyrone
3/05/2005 09:27:00 am  
Greg: Thanks for the encouragement on the blog site. I'm getting there.

Without trying to bore non-kiwis with NZ politics, there are a couple of points I have to reply to here:

"Lotto ads are not screened during kids tv, stop lying".

I am deeply hurt. I distinctly remember seeing a scratchie advert during a kids show, and being annoyed, because it was shortly after someone had told me about tougher scratchie laws.

Now, what I am unable to do is swear the exact time - maybe it was a kids show screened outside of normal kids hours. I thought I'd have a quick look to see if I could find any information to back this up. A quick hunt found Gambling Watch NZ:

"Mr Macpherson said however that there was a concern that the pervasive and often over-the-top Lotteries Commission advertising will negate any good effect from this age limit change by the promotion and normalisation of gambling to families and young people. He pointed out that the Commission had one of the ten largest advertising budgets in the country, and advertised on television at key family viewing times."

The age limit was raised to 18 for purchasing scratchies in 2003, but I haven't been able to track down the exact penalties. But I will. But my point remains at the hypocrisy of the government - big advertising budgets for gambling, an extra 9 billion gambled in the last 12 years (with built in taxes), and then trying to take the high moral ground.

Re spending 21 million dollars on TV advertsing to "raising people's awareness of extra money they are entitled to so that they can raise a family, and there is something you disagree with in that?" Yes, absolutely. My full reply is on swoboda.net.nz/zen

Finally, re the "Golden Handshake". Yes, I have judged and found him guilty of saying one thing and doing another. I listened to his defence on the radio - his own words and arrogance condemned him for me, and many others. The Tamihere Inquiry is all about finding a legal defence to an unworthy act - different issue really. Also, I am in disbelief that he can NOT declare $190,000 on his tax return and IRD not go after him. No one else would get an inquiry to decide if there is a legal angle to protect him. In any other situation, the IRD would levy a fine (a big one)and he would have to go to court to prove he is innocent. Yes, the tax laws ARE structured like that. Want more proof - have a read of Be Very Afraid by Dave Henderson or the Power To Destroy by Rodney Hide.  

Posted by Tyrone
3/05/2005 10:53:00 am  
Dr Marco: The laws of evolution and nature so not make us kill each other. The ingenuity and humanity of people helped them figure out the benefits of working together. The systems of reward: financial, social, spiritual encouraged excellence and advancement. Capitalistic systems (of trade, barter and investment) helped define a mechansim for apportioning value according to risk and effort.

It can be argued that government is out of control; big business is untrustworthy; systems need controls and balances; but to place all of the failings in the world in the hands of capitalists (investors, traders, merchants) is ridiculous. It doesn't explain the failings of communistic and socialist governments, of dictators, of basically the greedy and immoral.

The Stalins, Hitlers, Idi Admins and Pol Pots were not capitalists. There are many foundations and charities funded by your "evil" capitalists.

There are many reasons for evilness, ineptitude, failure, greed and envy. Making Capitalism the word of evil might make arguing the benefits of a socialist government easier, but I think it just weakens the entire argument from the beginning.

Dianne: "Capitalist continue to outnumber Humanitarians or so it seems by the effect we are having around the world."

Capitalist: An investor of capital in business, especially one having a major financial interest in an important enterprise.

Would it shatter your world too much to consider that a capitalist can be a humanatarian?
 

Posted by Tyrone
3/05/2005 11:54:00 am  
"Would it shatter your world too much to consider that a capitalist can be a humanatarian? "

I'll make this short and sweet, Tyrone. I won't deny a Capitalist may have a favorite charity or two most of which he/she will get a taxbreak on. But, anyone supporting the profit making (capitalist) swindles going on around the world today that keep poor nations in debt so deep they will never get out is not a humanitarian. 

Posted by Dianne
3/05/2005 12:42:00 pm  
Hey Tyronne,

“ANY LARGE organisations are to be mistrusted. I doubt I need to talk to you about the ENRONS, GENERAL ELECTRICS and NIKES.” ,

I agree that the larger the organization, the more chances of corruption taking place. But since you rightly mention all govs are large organizations, then what do you propose? Anarchy?

The way I see things is:

1. ENRONS & such are not actually the major problem. You don't need crook corporations to highlights the basic humanitarian failing of corporations altogether. Corporations are about ONE thing only, and that is making profit. If it weren't for gov intervention, workers would be payed 10 cents an hour, their toxic wastes would have already completely destroyed this planet, etc, etc.

2. Corporations are by definition NOT accountable nor democratic. CEOs and boards of directors are not elected by the workers. They don't owe the population any accountability. Once again, the only thing that keeps them in vague check is our gov's interference, i.e. laws and regulation. Certainly not the charities.

3. For as much as western govs may be inefficient, corrupt, etc, it's still galaxies better than being run by corporations. At least we, the citizens, have a say in things. In the better govs, citizens have more say. In corporations and charities, ppl have NO say.

4. At least for the better western govs, a pretty good transparency exists. It's inherant in the system. All public matters are available to the public here, and even if some crooks manage to fiddle the books, at least the system is not endemically rigged to provide for corruption.

I certainly would trust our gov handling of financial matters a million times more than any corporation. The laws and the constitution are set so that they have a duty to implement a fair distribution of the wealth, and in particular address the issues of basic human rights such as access to health and education.

So, while there is and will always be corruption, until someone comes up with a better gov system, I don't see what solution we have except keeping a vigilant scrutiny on it and making sure it abides by its charter as much as possible. And if it fails, at least we have a chance to boot it out and get another one.

In other words, our govs are our ONLY chance of having things done in a reasonable fair manner. 

Posted by WhyNot
3/05/2005 06:19:00 pm  
Tyronne,

"Without trying to bore non-kiwis with NZ politics ",

Tyronne, I'm not only NOT  bored with NZ politics, but very interested in them. Please feel free to speak about them any time you like.

Indeed, the reason why our group is composed of ppl from so many different parts of the world is for the purpose of all of us learning what happens somewhere different to where we currently live.

Naturally, because the newly crowned emperor Bush is set out to conquer the world, a lot of the posts revolve around US foreign politics, but it doesn't mean in the least that less "important" countries' affairs should be left out. There *IS* life outside the US borders :-)

“Yes, France has been promoted here as the Polically Correct Haven of the World”,

Wow, first time I hear anything good about France coming from an anglophone country else than the UK :-)

“Sacre bleu”,

Now, this is REALLY out of fashion. Like by about 3 centuries. D'Artagnan stuff. If you want to learn REAL modern Fr swear words, I can fill you in... even if I'm only catching up after so many years living elsewhere :-) 

Posted by WhyNot
3/05/2005 06:51:00 pm  
Hi Dianne. Your points about swindles are noted. I agree that its a huge problem. My concern, whilst pedantic, is the attribution of these swindles to capitalists. As the terms become synonomous in usage over time, it makes all capitalists out to be swindlers. I don't think this is the case.

This is a bit like me thinking all priests are sexual deviants. I've read so much bad press about them, so much historical evidence to say how much people have been fucked around by the Church and religion in general, my "first reaction" opinion of the Church is pretty low, and somewhat distrustful. My deep breath and think reaction is far more measured - I'd be prepared to guess MOST priests are great people (humanly imperfect, but great). It's just a few bad apples ruining the name.

It's a bit like that for me with Government, but the deep breath and look at the evidence technique still hits the wall.

I think many people are swindlers (and many more are not). A capitalist system provides opportunity for these people, and we need strong checks and balances. Open disclosure, the press, Government intervention, shareholders and consumer voting are methods. It's often the degrees that we debate.

Other systems provide opportunity for these types of people: The UN is increasingly found to be engaging in corrupt practices, and it is not a corporation. (I just read some interesting [horrible] stuff on the U.N. in Sierra Leone over the 1998-2002 period).

WhyNot asked if I supported Anarchy. I'm not that libertarian. Anarchy requires people act in a responsible manner, with tolerance, strong work ethic, and compassion. The world is not ready for that on a mass scale.

What is the solution? Fair comment. Its a bit much criticising without offering a viable alternative. However, I've only just started thinking about it. Even with the brain the size of a planet :-), it's going to take a bit of time to sort this out.

Once I've sorted it out, I can flip into zealous mode! And as long as I don't demand you accept my opinion (because it will be for the greater good or some other rationalisation) I'll remain true to my ideals. 

Posted by Tyrone
3/05/2005 11:38:00 pm  
WhyNot: I've just found an "alternative" French dictionary. Once I stop blushing I'll be able to swear like a trooper (I can use that word here can't I?) 

Posted by Tyrone
3/05/2005 11:40:00 pm  
Tyrone, I can see you're a fair and balanced person or at least you try to be and that's about the best any of us can do. I do appreciate that.

Capitalism does not deliver full and equal rights to all and because it does work for a small percentage of people on the planet does not make it right. There is plenty of evidence to be seen in the lives of people around the world that prove its failure. No matter how many clauses are added onto failed policy trying to improve it, the scales of justice do not balance.

Don't look for someone such as myself to come up with solutions. All I can do is point out the problems and hopefully be a part of the solution as we evolve into a better world for all people.

 

Posted by Dianne
3/06/2005 08:51:00 am  
"Once I stop blushing I'll be able to swear like a trooper (I can use that word here can't I?)  "

LOL. You can use any language you like on this site, Tyronne. We do not regard even the most excessively crude expressions as something that should be censored.

"Anarchy requires people act in a responsible manner, with tolerance, strong work ethic, and compassion"

Precisely. It's like communism in that it relies on humanity to radically change. Until then, both are utopias.

"The UN is increasingly found to be engaging in corrupt practices, and it is not a corporation"

The UN is like a gov, i.e. its mission is basically a humanitarian one. When bad apples infilftrate the joint, you get corruption. It is our duty to all of us to keep denouncing all the miscarriages so that its main purpose keeps being served.

That being said, I think we have to keep things in proportion. The huge majority of the UN's performance is pretty much on target, including the multitude of humanitarian organizations it funds, like the WHO, the UNHCR, the UNISDR, the Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, the Land Mines clearance program, etc etc.

Which makes the UN about a million to one more effective in humanitarian aid than the cleanest, least corrupt private corporation, of which the only aim is to fill the pockets of the shareholders while they sit on their asses doing absolutely nothing. 

Posted by WhyNot
3/06/2005 12:39:00 pm  

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