Holy crap, this was actually posted in response to my socialist cage experiment...

Posted by Wonky 8 years, 1 month ago to Politics
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I stated:
"When 25% of a society is happy to live on the basic necessities provided by that society, the remaining 75% cover the cost. When it's 50/50, you're probably at the point of civil unrest. When 95% of a society are content with simply having their basic necessities covered, and the remaining 5% pay... well, that will probably never happen. I consider the last to be an economic impossibility. The 5% would never tolerate it. Once you start down the slippery slope of socialism, there is no end to what people will demand in the name of the common good."


Response:
"I disagree. I think you're numbers are way off. I don't think that most people, or even 25% of the people, would be content to live with only having their basic needs covered.

"If that were the case, then why would anyone ever go to college? Why would anyone work their ass off at all, work two jobs, or work to get promoted right now?

"Pick an income number that would cover basic necessities... Arbitrarily, for discussion only, let's say that it's $32,000 a year.

"If covering their basic necessities is enough, then why isn't everyone just getting the minimum education that they would need to take a $32k job and stick with it?

"The vast majority of people are not doing that... they are working two jobs, or trying to get promoted, or are educating themselves to get a job where they can make more than that...

"Why? I believe it's because the drive to live at more than the basic minimum is inherent in the vast majority of us.

"So, if that's the case, then what difference would it make if you just gave everyone the equivalent of that $32,000 (in guaranteed health care, food, shelter, etc) to begin with? Simply to ensure that no one is living *below* that standard.

"I think that the vast majority would still work hard to get ahead and have more than that.

"Whether its because of personal greed, or of wanting to be better then the next guy, or of just wanting more toys or a more comfortable life than the minimum... I don't think the vast majority would settle for the basic minimum. They don't now.

"So, I don't see why a minimum safety net shouldn't be guaranteed for all.

"And I think it's actually in everyone's best interests to do so... Because if a minimum safety net is in place - then people don't have to worry about meeting their basic needs... and studies have shown that when people are in that situation, they actually are: less stressed, make better decisions, are more creative, and are *more* productive... not to mention the percentage that won't have to turn to desperate or illegal activities... and when all of the afore mentioned happens, then the whole society benefits.

"I don't believe that everyone should make the same amount, or that everyone should live at the same standard despite differing levels of work or contributions to society... But I do believe that there should be a guaranteed minimum standard of living in a society, that we would all benefit from it if there were, and that it wouldn't affect the vast majority of the population's drives and motivations in anything other than a positive way."


My Response (softened to try to keep the dialog going):
"Surely you recognize that every fast food chain, every mall, every grocery store, every Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Best Buy would close due to lack of employees the very day we offered the equivalent of $32k in hand outs. My employer (a manufacturer) would lose its entire direct labor work force. I'd retire right now with my current assets for that. We can't even begin to have a meaningful debate with $16/hr on the table... even an $8/hr equivalent would devastate businesses.

"I admire your faith in the human desire to get more out of life, but I don't think it's realistic when offset against the temptation to take the handouts and pursue one's own interests..."


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  • Posted by LionelHutz 8 years, 1 month ago
    I think what he wrote there is probably what a lot of people feel. One major problem I have with it is there is absolutely no economic basis for believing this will do anyone any good. You cannot really enrich anyone by giving everyone the same thing. You might think it costs $X to live at the minimum standard of living now. But I guarantee you if you start handing out $X to everyone in response, the minimum standard of living is not going to stay at $X. It's going to go up.
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  • Posted by Spinkane 8 years, 1 month ago
    Total personal income US 2012=$13,401,868,693.00
    if everyone received $32K= $9,600,000,000,000.00
    With an ever expanding population and finite resources pure socialism would ensure everyone starves. AS nasty as that truth might be, it is the major factor in any pertinent rational equation. Fortify the white picket fence or starve. Coming to a soup kitchen near you.
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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 8 years, 1 month ago
    I think you need to clarify the scenario. This was is much harder to understand than the monkeys. In this scenario do they have the ability to choose whether they're in the subsistence group? Are they allowed to work PT to have a little more than subsistence? At what point do they start paying enough that they paying out more than the subsistence benefit? I don't understand the rules of this scenario.
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    • Posted by 8 years, 1 month ago
      It all boils down to the proper functions of government. The U.S. constitution established a self-restricting government that was a service to the governed. That government was an entity intended to protect individual freedoms. It was not, nor was it ever intended to be, an entity that was empowered to enforce the ideology of a majority at the expense of the individual freedoms it protected. Socialism may be the vocal ideology of the majority these days because the country is full of cowards who do not want to be perceived as greedy, but (opinion) the private ideology of anyone exercising rational self interest will always be Capitalism.

      The rules of this scenario were simple - it was a dragnet to prompt intelligent socialists to argue their case.

      The monkey experiment was designed in an attempt to demonstrate that the researcher's imposition of socialism on the monkeys in cage 2 would interfere with their maturation and inevitably lead to violence sooner. It had some flaws. I'm still open to suggestions that might make the point more clear.
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      • Posted by CircuitGuy 8 years, 1 month ago
        I understood the monkey experiment, but I still don't get the rules of this basic necessities scenario.

        You say that socialism is the ideology is popular b/c they don't want to be perceived as greedy. That implies they think socialism means they have to give some of their wealth to those who did not earn it. The problem I see is more and more people think they should get a handout. These are sometimes more affluent than average people. Where do they think the handouts are going to come from?

        I am possibly one of those intelligent "socialists" b/c I believe in a limit fashion we should support the needy. Some of the support should come from the gov't b/c we all benefit from living in a just society. If someone doesn't want that benefit, they can't opt out of paying for it anymore than they can opt out of paying for policing.

        I have a huge problem, though, when affluent people want a handout. They say the [insert thing they want to buy] system is broken, and we need the gov't to get involved. The "system" isn't broken; they just don't want to pay the rate a willing provider will provide it for. I would rather see the gov't fail to help the needy than create "systems" within industries.
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        • Posted by 8 years, 1 month ago
          I believe that it is honorable to support the young, the old, the ill, and the abused. However, I will never support federal government programs that force others to forfeit any portion of their income based on that ideology. To do so removes all honor from acting on the belief. If you wish to give some of your income to your family, friends, and community members in need, do so and be proud that you have acted upon your values. If you wish to force others via federal government proxy to do the same, you are a thief by reverse proxy, and have nothing to be proud of.
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          • Posted by CircuitGuy 8 years, 1 month ago
            Do you think it's okay to force people to pay for protection? Someone may want to provide his own protection and say policing is unnecessary. He says, go ahead and pay if you want and just don't protect me. The gov't responds that by protecting his neighbors, he's benefitting, and they have no way to turn on the benefits only for those who pay.

            There is some similar benefit to living in a society with less poverty. Some people don't mind the poverty, but there's no way turn on the benefits of a more just society only for those who choose to pay.

            I am not at all keen about the gov't being in the charity business. It only works if most people feel like they're on the giving end of it. If most people are looking for a handout, it falls apart. If people say to gov't, "you take my money and use it wisely to take care of me," that's really dangerous.
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            • Posted by 8 years, 1 month ago
              "Do you think it's okay to force people to pay for protection?" - Yes

              From http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?p... :

              "The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church."
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              • Posted by CircuitGuy 8 years, 1 month ago
                Thank you. That's a very clear explanation. I agree with it in principle. As Ayn Rand's villains say, "We must be practical." I disagree with Rand and agree with her villains on this one point. The closer we can be to separation of church state and economics the better.
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  • Posted by $ richrobinson 8 years, 1 month ago
    You got a response. A very clear and insightful look into the mindset of the left. I disagree with it but the fact that they tried is impressive. Good job Wonk. Please post if you get more.
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  • Posted by stadler178 8 years, 1 month ago
    I don't even have to argue the point, here. I'm living it. I maybe make as much as the average American family on my own, my wife worked at minimum wage. It took all of one month after we got married for her to quit her job and live off of me. Dude's argument is invalid, as far as life experience has shown me. A large percentage of people who worked at a lower wage than $32K would quit their jobs immediately and happily if this were instituted. If we're talking about a system that still involves money as a form of trade, the consequences would be disastrous, unless....the majority of all wealth was seized by the government and (trusting in the government's ever-so-loving desire to help) redistributed amongst all.
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