How would conservatives deal with poverty?
Posted: 26 August 2009 01:41 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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Last night I saw an ad for an upcoming PBS documentary about a young Mexican man who entered the U.S. illegally and is now one of the top brain surgeons in the U.S.

I suspect that such an example underlies the conservative view of poverty - this is the land of opportunity - if you are poor it’s your own fault.  You are poor because you are lazy; or a combination of lazy and incompetent.  Or worse, you are poor because you are a parasite or hanger-on.

Conservatives that I know are galled by those who live on welfare.  Their standard model is an overweight woman living on welfare and breeding so that she can collect a bigger welfare check, more foodstamps, and free healthcare.

Besides eliminating welfare, and even emergency healthcare, some conservatives would like to see public libraries closed.  Many tourists from abroad are surprised by the dearth of public toilets here.  They find that to relieve themselves they must often go into a place of business and possibly ask for a key.  Why encourage vagrancy with public toilets?

We know that Hitler was rounding up gypsies, killing them or sending them to forced labor.  Is that the drift with American conservatism?  Get rid of the parasites once and for all?

Was it Bertrand Russel who suggested that most people are probably happier working in an office, factory, or other urban occupation than working on a farm?  This may be true, but we’re not all created equal.  If I developed a brain tumor I’d hope to be treated by someone as skilled as the Mexican surgeon that PBS was referring to.  However, I could never bring myself to poke into someone’s skull.  Could I work in a coal mine, or in a fluorescently lit office all day.  I suspect some miners love their work but to me it would be a living death.

Have you seen any episodes of the TV series, MAD MEN?  No doubt those ad executives and office workers feel that they have achieved the American Dream - the pursuit of happiness in what strikes me as a form of hell.

We’ve been evolving for about 3.5 billion years.  The last 10,000 years, when our kind began stumbling over fields whistling and shouting at the rear end of an ox, or began splitting marble into blocks for temples and gigantic tombs - these last 10,000 years is a blink in our evolution.  I suspect that I, gypsies, bag ladies and assorted parasites haven’t yet made the adjustment.  We belong neither here nor there.  Bertrand may be right about most people - being a brain surgeon or a Wal-Mart clerk is fine . . . onward and upward with the arts!

I once pointed a camera at an elderly Native American on Skid Road.  He raised his hand to shield his face and turned away.  I realized I was an irritation, like a fly.  Maybe he didn’t want something unknowable being captured, or represented as knowable, if you know what I mean.  Maybe he was just embarrased because he was holding a beer can.  A parasite?  A drain on society?  Someone who contributed to the smell of urine in the alley?  Someone who used the public library to pass a winter afternoon?  Someone who helped clog the hospital emergency room? 

What about the murderous fat cat who stole this man’s ancestral land 150 years ago, getting rich on the timber and oil?  What about the wealthy heirs who bulldozed that land into a gated suburb with a golf course?  Now there’s the salt of the earth!

It’s generally recognized that the rich in the U.S. are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer.  What’s your take on it?  Laissez-faire?  What do you think of free higher education for qualified students?  High quality courses in prisons - both liberal arts and job training?

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Posted: 26 August 2009 10:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Dead Kennedys, “Kill The Poor” from Fresh Fruits For Rotting Vegetables

Efficiency and progress is ours once more
Now that we have the neutron bomb
Its nice and quick and clean and gets things done
Away with excess enemy
But no less value to property
No sense in war but perfect sense at home

The sun beams down on a brand new day
No more welfare tax to pay
Unsightly slums gone up in flashing light
Jobless millions whisked away
At last we have more room to play
All systems go to kill the poor tonight

Gonna
Kill kill kill kill kill the poor tonight

Behold the sparkle of champagne
The crime rates gone
Feel free again
O life’s a dream with you, Miss Lily White
Jane Fonda on the screen today
Convinced the liberals its okay
So lets get dressed and dance away the night

While they
Kill kill kill kill kill the poor tonight

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“All extremists should be killed!” - neighbor’s bumper sticker

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Posted: 27 August 2009 06:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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unsmoked - 26 August 2009 05:41 PM

Last night I saw an ad for an upcoming PBS documentary about a young Mexican man who entered the U.S. illegally and is now one of the top brain surgeons in the U.S.

I suspect that such an example underlies the conservative view of poverty - this is the land of opportunity - if you are poor it’s your own fault.  You are poor because you are lazy; or a combination of lazy and incompetent.  Or worse, you are poor because you are a parasite or hanger-on.

Conservatives that I know are galled by those who live on welfare.  Their standard model is an overweight woman living on welfare and breeding so that she can collect a bigger welfare check, more foodstamps, and free healthcare.

Besides eliminating welfare, and even emergency healthcare, some conservatives would like to see public libraries closed.  Many tourists from abroad are surprised by the dearth of public toilets here.  They find that to relieve themselves they must often go into a place of business and possibly ask for a key.  Why encourage vagrancy with public toilets?

We know that Hitler was rounding up gypsies, killing them or sending them to forced labor.  Is that the drift with American conservatism?  Get rid of the parasites once and for all?

Was it Bertrand Russel who suggested that most people are probably happier working in an office, factory, or other urban occupation than working on a farm?  This may be true, but we’re not all created equal.  If I developed a brain tumor I’d hope to be treated by someone as skilled as the Mexican surgeon that PBS was referring to.  However, I could never bring myself to poke into someone’s skull.  Could I work in a coal mine, or in a fluorescently lit office all day.  I suspect some miners love their work but to me it would be a living death.

Have you seen any episodes of the TV series, MAD MEN?  No doubt those ad executives and office workers feel that they have achieved the American Dream - the pursuit of happiness in what strikes me as a form of hell.

We’ve been evolving for about 3.5 billion years.  The last 10,000 years, when our kind began stumbling over fields whistling and shouting at the rear end of an ox, or began splitting marble into blocks for temples and gigantic tombs - these last 10,000 years is a blink in our evolution.  I suspect that I, gypsies, bag ladies and assorted parasites haven’t yet made the adjustment.  We belong neither here nor there.  Bertrand may be right about most people - being a brain surgeon or a Wal-Mart clerk is fine . . . onward and upward with the arts!

I once pointed a camera at an elderly Native American on Skid Road.  He raised his hand to shield his face and turned away.  I realized I was an irritation, like a fly.  Maybe he didn’t want something unknowable being captured, or represented as knowable, if you know what I mean.  Maybe he was just embarrased because he was holding a beer can.  A parasite?  A drain on society?  Someone who contributed to the smell of urine in the alley?  Someone who used the public library to pass a winter afternoon?  Someone who helped clog the hospital emergency room? 

What about the murderous fat cat who stole this man’s ancestral land 150 years ago, getting rich on the timber and oil?  What about the wealthy heirs who bulldozed that land into a gated suburb with a golf course?  Now there’s the salt of the earth!

It’s generally recognized that the rich in the U.S. are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer.  What’s your take on it?  Laissez-faire?  What do you think of free higher education for qualified students?  High quality courses in prisons - both liberal arts and job training?

I think you’ve let angst get the better of you on some of this comment.

But yes the rich are getting richer.  And no they’re not the salt of the earth.

You’re right that this is, in a way, the fruit of poorly regulated capitalism.  The end result is a feudal state.

But why is the immigrant turned brain surgeon, who I am sure is not “poor” now, a figure to be placed on a pedestal?  I know some people who came from abject poverty (here in rural appalachia) who are now millionaire businessmen.  Are they to be praised for this?  Perhaps your neurosurgeon will decide next year to invest in some property, formerly owned by native Americans, on which will then be built a ritzy subdivision?

Do you have suggestions on how to deal with the “welfare” issue.  Welfare is a good system and has helped out many people.  My sister was on welfare for several years, after having an unplanned pregnancy.  She was able to finish her education and get a job.  She is now not on it any longer.  If conservatives, whoever that group is, think that all welfare recipients are “hanger-ons” or leeches then they are wrong.  But the other side of the coin is that the number of welfare recipients who do take advantage of the system is NOT a small minority.  If you had the choice of working at McD’s 40 hours a week, year after year, and coming home every day with a sore back, or getting yourself declared disabled, which would you do?

After growing up just above the poverty level I am now part of your despised Republican-voting upper middle class.  I have no problem with my taxes going to safety net programs which take care of those who are less fortunate.  And I would rather have my taxes support the lazy than to see them begging in the streets.  But that does not mean I am thrilled about the way things are.  Every day in the walkin in clinics and ERs we see patient after patient, on welfare, coming in wanting pain meds.  They don’t have to worry about m,edical bills because they pay nothing!  They do not have jobs.  They draw welfare.  What money they do have they spend on cigarrettes.  Many of them would never consider trying to get a job because they can live just as well, working less hard, by drawing a check!

I’m not saying that if given their lot in life I might not make the same choices.  I might.  But I would not mind to see changes in the welfare policies which would prevent some of this.

There!

That’s the biased other side of your biased coin!

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Posted: 27 August 2009 02:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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wahoo - 27 August 2009 10:06 AM

I think you’ve let angst get the better of you on some of this comment.

But yes the rich are getting richer.  And no they’re not the salt of the earth.

You’re right that this is, in a way, the fruit of poorly regulated capitalism.  The end result is a feudal state.

Wahoo,

What do you think of free higher education for qualified students as in Denmark and some other countries?  What do you think of universal healthcare like the French have - saving billions on administrative costs - doctors living very well, free from the tangle of insurance companies and so forth?

If you were a conservative influential politician, how would you deal with the problem of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer?  How would you regulate capitalism to avoid the ‘end result’ you mention?  This isn’t meant as a confrontational question.  As Obama had hoped, don’t you think conservatives and liberals need to work together to solve our problems?

When conservative Americans travel abroad, what do they think of countries with fewer super rich and fewer hopeless poor?  (by ‘hopeless poor’ I mean people who see no way to get off welfare, and no advantage in getting off welfare).  What do conservative tourists think of countries with less crime,  healthcare for all paid for by taxes, better pre-schools, longer vacations for salaried workers, free higher education for qualified students etc. etc.  Do they (conservatives) see such things as a slide toward socialism?  Communism?

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Posted: 27 August 2009 03:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Here’s a little ditty for you, smokey. Special to the Tampa Tribune.

In 1969, the United States was a leader in high school graduation rates. Today, we have slipped to 18th out of 24 industrialized nations. In 2006, 15-year-old U.S. students ranked 25th out of 30 nations in mathematics and 24th out of 30 in science. We only ranked above Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Morocco. And we ranked below such nations as Luxembourg, Iceland and Hungary.

What do these developments mean? The folks at McKinsey have made it abundantly clear what it means. The educational gap over the past 40 years has already cost us somewhere between $1.3 trillion to $2.3 trillion in our gross domestic product or a 9 percent to 16 percent increase in GDP. The report finds that the failure to help our young people achieve their academic potential is the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession - one substantially larger than the deep recession the country is currently experiencing.

If we had experienced that sort of increase in our GDP, there would be fewer people of all races and ethnicities in poverty in this country and fewer young people in prison. This has led Al Sharpton to call school reform the civil rights challenge of our time.

But it is much more than just a racial or civil rights issue. School reform is at the heart of our nation’s future and our political and economic security. Without it, we will founder as a nation.

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Posted: 27 August 2009 04:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Unsmoked,

I think those are all theoretically good things.  But the “devil” is definitely in the details for me.

If I were a conservative politician I would probably be in the pockets of big insurance companies, all the while paying lip service to the social conservatives to get their support.

Pelosi and the Obama crowd are paying lip service to those poor, and then going home on their private jets to their 20,000 square foot compounds, where they will think about how to levy more taxes, which they themselves will get out of paying (via creative accounting practices).

What I am afraid of is these HUGE steps being taken in a less than ideal fashion.  As a doctor I see the potential benefits of a universal health care system. But honestly I am terrified at what it COULD turn into if this system were designed by politicians and pencil pushers, most of whom are probably more concerned about getting the credit for the system than they are about designing the best system.  I have done my share of consulting work in VA hospitals and am aware of the kind of inefficiency that government officiation can bring - not to mention the delays in care. I fear there is a real danger of making something worse than what we have now.  The comparisons of health care here and in other industrialized nations go both ways. 

Regarding education - I am not fond of the way education is “done” in this country currently.  High school teachers are powerless to discipline the students who have no desire to learn anything other than how to get in a girl’s pants!  Grading systems are changed to avoid stigmatizing those who do poorly.  The medical students I teach are becoming more and more lazy, demanding to be spoon-fed the material.  Free schooling is a great idea - but on whose dime?  I have no desire to pay taxes to school someone who has non interest in being schooled.

Regarding the rich/poor divide - I AM frustrated that there is a class of people, many of whom have no intention of even trying to get a job as long as they can draw a check, out of which they always seem to be able to afford a pack of cigarettes a day despite how poor they are.  In my mind any fix here has to involve some trimming of the fat.  I have worked hard to get where I am.  But I don’t mind to pay taxes to help those who have less fortunate circumstances.  I do not want to subsidize those who don’t want to work - which for sure is NOT all of the poor. 

I probably am more of an “authoritatrian” than most conservatives.  And I understand how some would say that socialism offers better chances for a fair society.  But in my estimation human nature and socialism do not mix.  The strong will abuse the weak and the lazy will let the motivated do all the work.  I cannot see anything other than regulated capitalism as even remotely feasible.

But I don’t have the answers. 

Honestly most of my energies go into my job and my family.  At the end of a day I have not the time to cogitate on how to fix health care or education.  And I in particular have no knowledge of macroeconomics.

And above all I do not trust the politicians, conservative or liberal to look out for anyone but themselves.

[ Edited: 27 August 2009 05:06 PM by wahoo]
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Posted: 01 September 2009 03:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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I don’t think doing away completely with the welfare safety net is the answer.  But I don’t think it should be so generous that it’s mistaken for a hammock, either.  Work sucks.  People need an incentive to do it.  Welfare should suck more than work. 

And I think breeding on welfare should be strictly prohibited.  Women who get pregnant on welfare should have to choose between having an abortion or being kicked off welfare for good.  Paying out more welfare to a woman every time she pops out another rugrat creates exactly the wrong incentive.

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Posted: 02 September 2009 03:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Antisocialdarwinist - 01 September 2009 07:26 PM

I don’t think doing away completely with the welfare safety net is the answer.  But I don’t think it should be so generous that it’s mistaken for a hammock, either.  Work sucks.  People need an incentive to do it.  Welfare should suck more than work. 

And I think breeding on welfare should be strictly prohibited.  Women who get pregnant on welfare should have to choose between having an abortion or being kicked off welfare for good.  Paying out more welfare to a woman every time she pops out another rugrat creates exactly the wrong incentive.

Speaking of what should be ‘strictly prohibited’ -

http://www.ibtimes.com/contents/20090901/michelle-duggar-is-expecting-her-19th-baby.htm

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“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

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