Ineffective Government, an outcome of our definition of "Freedom"?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Seattle, Jan 28, 2023.

  1. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    In one sense, as they say, Democracy is messy but it works. Sure that's true in that it is "messy" and to the extent that it "works" is just in comparison to the alternatives.

    That's all good but we also know that even the average person on the street, using common sense, could improve the status quo in many regards.

    Today there is a lot of chaos in our cities. That isn't good for anyone. It's not good for the NIMBY (not in my backyard) crowd, it's not good for the young people just entering the workforce and it's not ultimately good for the people on the streets (living in the streets).

    The interpretation of the Constitution limits many solutions (and yes, we know who stacked the courts). If you want to try to clean up politics in Washington you have to reform the current system. Current politicians aren't going to reform themselves and getting "big" money out of politics runs into the Citizens United case.

    If you want to keep criminals, drug addicts, homeless encampments out of our downtown areas and our neighborhood areas you need something like an anti-loitering law. That was ruled unconstitutional.

    Our prisons are overcrowded so courts release everyone with misdemeanors which results in criminals with 10 arrests in a year walking around with no incentive not to commit their 11th crime. This renders the police ineffective and they don't even respond to some calls. Local businesses can't operate like this with people routinely shoplifting knowing that the police will do nothing.

    Sometimes it's best to have a little less "freedom" for the sake of society.

    Usually the political "solution" to a perceived problem isn't even a solution to the problem. It's usually the start to another problem while ignoring the actual problem.

    Homelessness is a great example. Everyone is talking about "affordable" housing and "homelessness". Some talk about rent control which never works in the long run. It always results in less available housing but it's still talked about.

    Cities will talk about building affordable housing, jack up the property taxes and maybe increase other taxes all to build housing for those who could house themselves for the most part (just like everyone else). When has massive government housing projects turned into anything other than "ghettos" and inner city crime dens?

    In a few years someone will come along and talk about tearing down those buildings to reduce crime and improve living conditions for those in those neighborhoods.

    Increasing the tax base on everyone isn't the solution either. The well off can easily move thus leaving the city much worse off. Boeing headquarters left Seattle, soon the average fairly well off person may do so. There was a recent poll that said 67% of Seattle residents have thought about leaving. The currently elected mayor says the current situation is certainly unacceptable.

    Homelessness isn't about affordable housing. It's about mental illness and drug addiction. No one is doing anything about those issues. Anyone who isn't mentally ill or a drug addict could just move a few miles away to a city where housing is affordable for their wages.

    In Seattle, a retail worker with no other support may not be able to afford local housing. Without any mental illness being involved, the choices are go and pitch a tent in the park or move to Ellensburg two hours away and a retail job will pay enough for a small apartment.

    The mentally ill that are on the streets, for the most part, just need to be housed and looked after. The drug addicts need treatment and a job so that they can look after themselves. They don't need housing provided to them. They need to grow up and be responsible.

    Therefore the only housing component to the homeless situation is for the mentally ill but no one is raising taxes or even talking about rounding up and housing the mentally ill. We had those kinds of facilities in the past and that was ruled as unacceptable yet what we have now is much more than unacceptable.

    Sometimes the problem with "democracy" is that there is no common sense adult in the room.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2023
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  3. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    In Seattle there are about 6,000 unsheltered homeless. They are now talking about new taxes to raise billions to deal with the homeless problem. The real problem are the 6,000 that aren't sheltered.

    If you gave them $1,000 a month for a room that would cost $72 million. Instead we will spend billions and accomplish nothing.

    Of course that group is likely to be the mentally ill group and nothing short of institutionalizing them is likely to be a real solution but the billions being talked about is just for building "affordable" housing.
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  5. billvon Valued Senior Member

    I know that's a common meme, and is widely believed. We see the same thing after air crashes, cave rescues, train accidents and droughts. All the average people on the street become pilots, cave divers, rail experts and civil engineers and explain how the people involved could have done X, Y and Z differently.
    Absolutely. And in the very next month there would be 60,000 people who meet the government's criterion for "homeless." For $1000 a month people are willing to do a bit of paperwork, even if it's not 100% accurate. No problem, we can hire a bunch of investigators to make sure that all those people who get the money really need it and are really using it for rent. For a ratio of 60 to 1 that's 1000 people at a loaded rate of about $150K a year (witb benefits.) So that's another $150 million.

    Of course, all those people who want a room for $1000 a month would drive rental prices through the roof, and very soon none would be available. So you'd have to have an affordable-housing program for all the families that this program displaces; can't penalize the people who actually worked for that rent.

    Then you'd see a spate of people renting ten square feet of their garage for $800 a month. That way people would qualify for the $1000 a month (with rent receipts and everything) and still clear $200 a month. No problem there, just come up with more investigators to make sure every rental property is really a rental property.

    All such solutions sound simple, until you try to implement them.

    That's not to say we shouldn't try to solve them, of course. But I am sure you realize that just printing money and mailing it to people will not end a depression; this is not much different.
    Also so simple. I mean, some of them will fight the "government mind control agents" trying to look after them, so we'll just tranquilize them to get them to take their meds. We can use the cops for that. We can then hire another cadre of medical workers to drive around and make sure all those people are taking their meds after that, because otherwise they'll just trash the place again and run.

    Every complex problem has a solution which is simple, direct, plausible - and wrong.
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  7. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    True or you could tax all property owners, build public housing, all the mentally ill and drug users would still be out there and all you have accomplished is making the middle class build "affordable" housing.

    But as you might say, that's better than doing nothing if doing nothing is the only other choice. I think doing nothing is usually better than doing the wrong thing.

    The average man on the street isn't the best person to go to for flying and caving advice since they know nothing about it.

    The average person on the street who walks by the public homeless encampments can see that 80% of the people there are mentally ill or drug addicts and focusing on anything other than that is a waste of time.

    Yes, every problem is "complex" but if you are going to spend the public's money you have to do better than wasting money, getting poor results and then blaming it on the problem being "complex" or better than doing nothing.

    If we are going to tax the public 8% on all their capital gains in addition to what the Fed charges you need to have a better comeback than "it's complex and doing something is better than nothing". It's not.
  8. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    But it is not insanity to do the same thing over and over again (below) and tell the public to expect different results. That's instead just a good racket, a smart racket. Since the last thing any altruism hustle wants to do is solve one of the politically profitable poverty/injustice problems which collectively are its partisan life-blood. When there occasionally, inadvertently is improvement over the course of decades of promises, the standard or bar for suffering from _X_ socioeconomic problem is then simply raised to maintain similar numbers (progressophobia).

    (March 27, 2017) Some balk as Seattle seeks to spend more money on homeless

    (Jan 26, 2023) Ending homelessness in King County will cost billions, regional authority says

    The "billions" will accomplish something for somebody. Those involved in the "affordable abode" construction, additional aid programs, and whatever side enterprises the money is ultimately funneled to. And will give a résumé bump to the careers of politicians and administrators that the former are friends/associates/lobbyists of, financially supplement various types of middlemen, etc.

    Government do-gooderism definitely does yield positive effects. It usually accomplishes a good bit for select individuals, organizations, and companies. And not just those currently involved, but further down the line. Caring about the next generation -- insuring that there are future consequences that provide them with vocational security -- is unselfishness at its finest.

  9. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    But your title has the better way of looking at it, a "definition of 'freedom'".

    Here is an historical reference point: The idea that some would suggest the United States is a "Christian" nation. While not formally true, we are aware of an historical and literary contiguity upon which this more legalistic fancy is constructed.

    Now, just as a contrast, compare that notion of a "Christian" nation with our American tendency to seek exclusions, and justify empowerment to exclude. It's not really a proper "Christian" behavior, even if its semiotic value in our society is largely derived from the Bible and Christian historical experience.


    Recall, for a moment, your conservative article of faith↗ about liberal economic illiteracy, and then contrast that with the damage Republicans have done to the nation's finances, and conservative principles that have allowed infrastructure to decay while crippling diverse governments' abilities to meet even these basic needs. Remember the wars, and go ahead and remind that Democrats did their part; the historical discussion of when they were supposed to put their foot down is messy, but remember also what the people wanted when handing Bush a Republican Congress in '02. And then remember that we ran those wars on credit.

    Twenty years of Republican bawling about tax-and-spend Democrats and screeching alarm about debt and deficit went up in smoke.

    Recall their perpetual fancy for cutting revenue, and the demand is the same as it ever was but only now more than ever: If only we give over Medicare and Social Security; if only we privatize everything and wait for the profiteers to self-regulate. We could balance the budget while fighting wars and building prisons if we just leave the old and sick to die, and let the landlords throw more people into the street:

    The circumstance you describe is a result of our tendency toward exclusion. You engage in it a bit yourself when underestimating addiction:

    What was ruled unacceptable was conditions at those facilities, not the prospect of such facilities in and of themselves. The political solution, as such, was to close the facilities instead of improve them.

    Nonetheless, we come back to Billvon's point↗: Certain solutions sound straightforward, but are more difficult to implement. And while big, complicated accounting schemes with lots of ledger throughput are difficult in and of themselves, that's not really the problem. The really complicated part comes about because of our tendency to exclude.

    And now we're going to take a brief detour.


    So, there is a grocery merger underway, with Kroger taking over Albertson's, and many people are fretting about the implications, especially as prices rise.

    Additionally, a major retailer has been caught in leaked investor audio acknowledging they overstated the impacts theft was having on their bottom line compared to other factors, basically blaming poor people for price rises demanded by executive failures.

    Across the spectrum, many large corporations have been posting record profits and profit margins, yet we are supposed to believe inflation is hurting them.

    Now, back to that Kroger and Albertson's thing, because there is a secondary issue working through the courts, right now, having to do with a dividend payout. So whatever other factors anyone wants to blame for the price of eggs at QFC, parties are in court disputing a four billion dollar dividend payout.

    Four billion dollars. That's a lot of fuckin' eggs.


    There is a lot of excess resource, i.e., wealth, tied up in various bourgeois pretenses. And, honestly, if I let my cynicism run, there is a lot of wealth that is only theoretical, and could never be extracted directly into cash, only moved around in the system, so to speak. But how do we access it? Well, that's an historical detour. Why would we access it? Because we can, and it would be useful.

    The historical detour is simply that the part of the Constitution telling us what it is for and how it works is presently not in effect. Looking back over a century, it's easy enough to see what the Court meant, but what is the establishment of Justice, for instance, without any consistent or at least contiguous means of measurement? The case that comes to mind could be argued differently, today, and the constitutional question could be answered as a public health question without ducking the Constitution; in a way, we had to learn, as a society, how to even make the new argument.

    And there are other arguments we need to learn how to make. This is where we come back to our tendency toward exclusion.


    A tendency toward inclusion would, by the way, lend toward fulfilling that rhetoric about American Christendom.

    The Communist motto, "from each, to each", comes from the Apostles of Christ (Acts 4:32-35↱).

    Actually, Oscar Wilde↱ probably put it best: "The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible."

    If there is some chatter that Bezos could give half his wealth and house every homeless person in the nation, it illustrates the point. Alleviating him of such excess is problematic, but we only allow such accumulation of wealth for the sake of some pretense about freedom.

    It's like the idea that Horatio Alger must die; as Michael Moore↱ suggested, twenty years ago:

    The system is rigged in favor of the few, and your name is not among them, not now and not ever. It's rigged so well that it dupes many otherwise decent, sensible, hard-working people into believing that it works for them, too. It holds the carrot so close to their faces that they can smell it. And by promising that one day they will be able to eat the carrot, the system drafts an army of consumers and taxpayers who gladly, passionately, fight for the rights of the rich, whether it means giving them billions in tax breaks while they send their own children into dilapidated schools, or whether it means sending those children off to die in wars to protect the rich man's oil. Yes, that's right: The workers/consumers will even sacrifice the lives of their own flesh and blood if it means keeping the rich fat and happy because the rich have promised them that some day they can join them at the table!

    To wit, there is the economic illiteracy you attribute to liberals, and then there are the everyday Americans who elected a Republican president and Congress racking up debt for tax cuts written in crayon that didn't help those voters, and in many cases increased their tax obligations. And these voters will make any excuse so the wealthy don't have to pay taxes.

    And those voters are the reason why even they cannot have the nice things they want.

    Behaviorally, they do it because they want empowerment to judge and inflict, i.e., access to the tools of judgment and punishment. The empowerment these voters perceive available to them is the power to exclude, alienate, and punish. An example is to decide people don't need help in society because, "They need to grow up and be responsible."


    Nothing in the Constitution absolutely prohibits single-payer anything: Health care, housing guarantees, food security, basic income.

    Just remember how much of the politics of public assistance has to do with trying to figure out who doesn't deserve help, i.e., who should be excluded.

    To reconstruct society such that poverty is impossible. It would be difficult enough, even with everyone onboard, but a bigger challenge will be convincing people, not that it is possible, but to accept that people they don't like won't suffer as much. The power of judgment and infliction is the "freedom" that matters most to them.


    Moore, Michael. Dude, Where's My Country? New York: Warner Books, 2003. 29 January 2023.

    Weigle, Luther, et al. The Bible: Revised Standard Version. New York: Thomas Nelson, 1971. 29 January 2023.

    Wilde, Oscar. "The Soul of Man Under Socialism". 1891. 29 January 2023.
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  10. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    It's "a historical" not "an". I wouldn't point it out but you did it twice. I would have pointed it out to others so to not do so with you would be exclusionary and that wouldn't be right.

    You won't hear me pushing the notion of a "Christian Nation".
    I've not said anything to support the fiscal policies of Democrats or Republicans. I don't see a lot of fiscal conservatism in the Republican Party either, nor have I "supported" any "wars" since WWII.

    Nor do I support diminishing Medicare and Social Security and I am for a single payer health care system. I'm not for privatizing everything, certainly not prisons.

    Landlords aren't responsible for housing anyone who isn't paying rent. Landlords aren't running a charity. Grocery stores don't provide food for free. Gas stations don't provide gas to those who don't pay. This is a pretty simple concept I should think.

    There is no exclusion. You call it exclusion when landlords evict tenants who don't pay. You say (I guess) that it's exclusionary to not permit drug addicts to fill the parks and to sit in front of grocery stores. That's not my definition of "exclusion".

    To you it's smells of the "bourgeoisie" and it doesn't fit with the Communist ideals of "from each, to each". Your prefered political and economic system is not mine.
    I'm not a fan of an unchanging Constitution. The second amendment is currently interpreted in a tortuous way, the electoral college and the way the Senate is set up has more to do with preserving the rights of the slave holding states than with the overall ideals of that document.

    I have no interest in redistributing anyone's wealth. To those who talk about greed or excess, that's only in relationship to their own wealth and to others. No one considers themselves to be greedy or to have excess wealth. It comes from expanding the pie so it doesn't come at anyone else's expense.

    The idea that the wealthy don't pay taxes is silly. That's who is paying most of the Federal income taxes.
    I don't, personally, buy the concept that one person should contribute some magnitude more than another person just because they have a lot more money.

    Each person should contribute to society but that's not unending just because they have more assets. If we were each volunteering a hour a week to help patrol our neighborhoods or to help clean up the streets or to volunteer in the schools no one would think that (for example) you should volunteer one hour but that Bezos should volunteer 1000 hours. He is still just one person. He actually pays much, much more than most individual citizens. The idea that if you pay 30% of your income of $60k that he should pay 30% (or more) of a billion dollars is, IMO, silly.

    I understand that's the law and he isn't breaking the law but I don't even agree with the logic of that law.

    Poverty in the U.S. is relative therefore, by definition there will always be poverty in the U.S. The definition changes but if we define it as the bottom 1/4th or something similar then obviously no matter how much society improves there will always be poverty by that kind of a definition.

    I do think that drug addicts need to grow up. No one forced them to take drugs. It's not rational to sit in front of a store begging for money. Help is available, even if it's not as easy to get as we might like it's still the rational choice over sitting in front of a store begging and living in the park.

    When all housing is "affordable" and there is UBI, do you think the drug problem will go down or up? My guess is up. Why should those who are being responsible have to pay even more in taxes to pay for housing and "basic income" to someone who chooses to take drugs?

    Sure it's not that simple. Sure it's a complex problem but presenting a "common sense" solution has more merit than the failure that we see in public. The knee jerk reaction is to round everyone up and settle them in a tent city on the edge of town away from everyone and then to try to deal with their individual problems, if possible.

    That eliminates crime, sanitation issues, and many other issues where those without those problems live. You would say it's simplistic and "exclusionary" yet that option is much better than what we have now. It's much better than the experience of the last 30 years dealing with this problem in San Francisco.

    The knee jerk reaction is rarely the best reaction but it can be improved upon. Even that simplistic reaction is still better than what cities are actually currently doing.

    There is a recent KOMO news video of a reporter filming in broad daylight walking downtown on 3rd avenue and he is being chased by a homeless man with a hatchet in his hand. WTF. The current state of downtown is that vagrants can walk around with hatchets and hammers and the police can't/don't even do anything in broad daylight, downtown until that person actually touches someone else.

    I guess they don't want to be exclusionary. From each, to each, maybe the vagrant was just trying to give a spare hatchet to the reporter?
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2023
  11. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    While this debate reaches back to eleventh-century England, at least, and having to do with spoken elision of the "h", i.e., "a 'istoric" or "an 'istoric", most modern considerations overlook the fact of the word, "ahistorical", which is one of the reasons "an" persists.

    To this day, nobody has ever explained to me why they say, "Warshington".

    Then never again let us hear a politician or activist complain about who might take advantage of the system, or who just needs to grow up and be responsible.

    Whatever. Like I said, here is an historical reference point, and then contrast that pretense with what actually goes on. What's that? We won't hear you pushing that point? Okay, and? I mean, history does occur regardless of whether you say something or not.

    There is a lot of argument out there about what people didn't say and what they haven't supported, and much like your example, most of it is just waste.

    Your historical narrative is ahistorical, and when we look at a piece of history for comparative reference point, the best you can come up with is what you don't say and do.

    This is the way people choose it to be; that's a pretty straightforward concept, I should think.

    Under single-payer, there would be landlords responsible for housing people who aren't paying rent; as long as we use the rent scheme, someone else will pay the rent to guarantee housing for those people. Food security doesn't mean all food is free. Gas stations aren't a good example, but it's also true that some municipalities are trying actual subsidized mass transit.

    No, those evictions are a different problem. Let's try: Public assistance, and have you been convicted of what crimes? Rent, employment, and "ban the box". (Do you even know what that means?) Jump through hoops, beg, roll over, piss in a jar, one size fits all, sorry, you don't fit.

    Solutions will be what we might describe as holistic, but people will complain. It's kind of like when conservatives complain that school debt relief is unfair because the people who came before didn't get debt relief. This is the fairness that many people need: 「That person needs to suffer, because it is unfair if they do not.」 It's grotesque, and in a nation with so many people claiming to be Christian, it seems a relevant comparison. You might not push the notion of a Christian nation, but you do promote exclusion:

    It's something Americans have been learning and struggling with throughout my lifetime; remember, while needle exchange didn't solve heroin addiction, the arc that started in Seattle and came up through Tacoma and Pierce County went on to change the world. And, oh, I'm sorry, were they being too nice to drug addicts who just need to grow up and be responsible? Watching the stuff wreck people I know, yes, checking the HIV epidemic on that front was important, which is the living legacy of those programs. My community actually got safer in a very particular way because people were willing to risk being seen facilitating drug addiction by providing clean needles for users, and because politicians were willing to risk being seen greenlighting that facilitation.

    And decades later, we learned that lesson anew, in Scott County, Indiana:

    What ultimately curbed the outbreak were solutions rooted in the community. Scott County's syringe exchange was part of a "one-stop shop," where people could also get drug treatment referrals, free HIV testing and other services. More people were referred to Medicaid, which had recently been expanded in Indiana.


    There is a lot that goes into what happened in Scott County, much of which can easily tie into discussions of public finances and debt, and the role of government. But what we keep learning, over and over, is that exclusion only excludes solutions.

    It would be cynical to insist that the whiteness of Scott County helped authorities accept the facts of what needed to be done. While it probably has some effect in a larger, societal discussion, the reality on the ground is that an HIV outbreak capturing five percent of a population is a crisis of nearly ineffable magnitude; excluding these patients for drug use or prior criminal records would be explicitly dangerous to public health, and even at the scale of a town like Austin, Indiana, is not really so far leap to describe a crime against humanity. But in a question of exclusion and inclusion—

    “Health care disasters don't just happen: they develop right before our eyes, unseen or ignored until it's too late,” the first chapter of the book begins. “That's what happened in Austin, Indiana, and that's what is currently happening in communities across America.”

    "Canary in the Coal Mine" focuses on “cycles of poverty, abuse and addiction” prevalent in the Southern Indiana community, and the book includes stories of those at the heart of the health care disasters in Austin. The stories and characters are written in a way that keeps their identities anonymous.

    “We can write it to show how every life matters, share their stories, let people get to know people who are injecting drugs, living on the street, engaging in sex work — really get to know them so they can understand them and empathize with them so they are no longer this mysterious other, but they are this flesh-and-blood person that they may be able to relate to a little more,” Cooke said.


    —he's talking about the people you think simply "need to grow up and be responsible".


    Let's be conspiracist for a moment, just because: Imagine "men" in twenty years. And here, I'm referring to American men, largely but not exclusively white, who were medicated in youth for attention deficit and hyperactivity. These men actually have an historical significance for me that has not yet come to bear: The problem is that many have been misdiagnosed and unnecessarily medicated. This isn't a result of liberal psychology as much as it is capitalism.

    A lot of these men, today, are already frustrated and making noise. In a decade, when they're out of work and hustling for something fast, or in twenty years, when they are wrecked and homeless, it won't be a question of growing up and being responsible. A lot of these never stood a chance because they were wired to the insides of their skulls when they were children.

    Many are already problematic in their own ways, as it is; things will only get worse when they are no longer capable of jumping through the hoops designed to exclude patients from treatment. We could decide, as a society, to get people the help they need, but we don't.

    To wit:

    If we follow the implications of what you say, we're right back to those things; as much as you complain about what can and can't be done about difficult circumstances in society, your affirmative assertions tend toward difficult circumstances.

    And that judgmentalism is the problem.


    McAfee, Brooke. "Local doctor's book looks at opioid epidemic, Scott County HIV outbreak". News and Tribune. 30 July 2021. 29 January 2023.

    Ungar, Laura. "5 Years After Indiana's Historic HIV Outbreak, Many Rural Places Remain At Risk". National Public Radio. 16 February 2020. 29 January 2023.
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  12. billvon Valued Senior Member

    No, they really don't see what's going on. I've talked to them. They think they are ungrateful leeches, sucking on the public teat because they are too lazy to work. They think they are criminals. living on the street because to get an address would subject them to police scrutiny. They think they are women who are nymphomaniacs who would rather have sex with anyone and everyone than hold down a real job. I've heard those exact stories from people who live or work just south of downtown in San Diego, where there's a big homeless problem.

    And now we have you using the simple generalization that they are mostly addicts and/or mentally ill, which isn't supportable either.

    The reality is that every single homeless person has a different story. Between 25% and 40% have drug or alcohol abuse problems nationwide. Around here it's lower - 14% and 10% respectively. Likewise, here about 15% of the homeless are observably mentally ill. The rest are homeless for a huge variety of reasons - they are attached to someone else who is homeless, or they lost their job and were largely unemployable, or they moved to San Diego expecting work and could not find it, or they lost their job due to illness and could then no longer afford their apartment. Or, of course, they have drug and/or mental health issues. Some would stay in homeless shelters if they were available; some consider them too dangerous. Some would avail themselves of cheap housing if they could; others cannot even afford (or manage) that. Some would take a job if it was offered; some will refuse. Some will accept charity; some will not. Some would respond to treatment for addiction or mental health. Some will not, because they are not mentally ill or addicted to anything. Some will not because they simply refuse. There's no one solution.

    Of course.
    You are conflating specific taxation changes with ameliorating the problems with the homeless. They are two different issues. Find a solution that works for the homeless first (and that may take some experimentation) and then figure out how to pay for it.
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  13. Seattle Valued Senior Member

  14. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member


    For instance, your suggestion, "but if we define it as the bottom 1/4th or something similar", is just silly.

    Compared to reconstructing society such that poverty is impossible, you would define poverty so that it is impossible to eradicate, but only in order to suggest that poverty is impossible to eradicate.


    A reasonable, functional—i.e., useful, applicable—definition of poverty is dynamic and describes functional criteria. While precise and accurate definitions can be tricky, the basic idea that a definition of poverty should describe living circumstances is, well, kind of basic. A statistical comparison does not necessarily define poverty in any functional manner applicable to living circumstance.

    Working definitions of poverty in the United States are both relative and insufficient. A basic statistical comparison, such as "the bottom 1/4th or something similar", encounters a familiar problem insofar as it can include a living circumstance of poverty among those who are not included in the poverty statistic.

    And in looking through the reasons our current definitions of poverty seem so insufficient we will certainly find that tendency toward exclusion.

    And thinking that way is absurd.

    If you can recognize the temptation for me to suggest you don't know a thing about dealing with addicts¹, please understand, I would actually hope that part true. It's hard to bear witness to what addiction does, and the futility people feel when failing to help their addicted friends and family is indelible. But, sure, correct me and tell me about looking that kind of addiction in the eye, and maybe I'll say God help the addict you showed that face.

    Which drug problem?

    The one that comes from overprescription of opioids depends more on other factors, including healthcare costs, insurance considerations, and workplace demand.

    Fast drugs like coke and meth are a conundrum, but abuse and addiction arise and evolves in a slightly different framework compared to heroin.

    And booze? Best bet, there, is to go with blaming capitalism.

    Oh, that's right. Cigarettes are still legal.

    What changes is what you see and experience in the streets. He's not shitting on the sidewalk if he has a toilet; he's not sleeping in his truck on your street, or in a tent on your sidewalk, if he has a place to sleep.

    But, sure, which drug problem, because the answers are different, and of course your guess is up because that's how you justify exclusion and the empowerment to judge and inflict: "Why should those who are being responsible have to pay even more in taxes to pay for housing and 'basic income' to someone who chooses to take drugs?" These aren't the Reagan years.

    It's at least a little bit silly to declare, "There is no exclusion", while making the argument for exclusion, and even calling it "common sense".

    And maybe stop getting your news from KOMO.



    ¹ To be clear:

    "I do think that drug addicts need to grow up." — And I hope you feel better for saying so, since that's the only real purpose of saying such things.

    "No one forced them to take drugs." — That's clueless to the point of farce.

    "It's not rational to sit in front of a store begging for money." — And what does this statement have to do with anything? What rationality are you expecting?

    "Help is available ..." — You seem to be overestimating what is available and what it can do, which isn't surprising compared to the prospect that you're just huffing the old-school, feelgood judgmentalism.

    "... it's still the rational choice over sitting in front of a store begging and living in the park." — Again, we can only wonder what rationality you are expecting.​
    cluelusshusbund likes this.
  15. Seattle Valued Senior Member

  16. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Does anyone here really think that the rich don't pay their fair share of taxes? This has to be the most oft repeated phrase about the economy today.

    It's gotten to the point that a large majority of people just take it as fact, with little thought and therefore the "rich" have become a ready made scapegoat. Not only have the "rich" became the scapegoat but the real negative effect is to those who are in the category of "doing OK".

    That's what everyone is shooting for and yet that is the group that is actually potentially paying the price for the inaccurate meme of the "rich" not paying their fair share.

    What is "fair". Is a horizontal system "fair" where everyone is treated the same? Is a slightly progressive system fair where everyone is treated more or less the same but some pay a little higher rate on the same categories?

    All that is the current system. Those who make more do pay a little more on equal income. The top 1% of income earners already pay 42% of all Federal Income taxes. That may be "unfair" to the wealthy but it's a stretch to call that unfair as in they aren't paying enough?

    So the "logic" seems to go to comparing apples to oranges. There is no logic to having income rates be the same as property tax rates, corporate tax rates or capital gains tax rates.

    There is no evidence that those with more assets have gotten those assets in any inappropriate or "unfair" way (unless someone has broken the law and then they are prosecuted). The richest tended to get that way by starting a business. If the business is profitable they get capital appreciation from the stock. That takes nothing away from anyone else. If they never started the company no one would be better off so what exactly is "unfair" about any of this?

    I've seen people say that it isn't "right" that some people gained little during Covid but that the rich did gain. That it was "greedy". Neither of this arguments makes any sense. When you earn money do you consider yourself to be "greedy"? Of course not. If you own a house and if it went up during Covid does that have anything to do with someone who didn't own any appreciating assets during Covid? Of course not.

    It all seems to come down to some "tax cut" that was "for the rich". If the rich are paying most of the taxes then of course taking less of their money benefits them more than those who pay less or nothing.

    But if most people pay less then how does it make sense to say that the rich aren't paying their fair share? The more pertinent question should probably be, are "you" paying your fair share? "You" are the one hoping to benefit from the system,surely with all this debt it would be more fair if "you" were a least trying to do your part in paying for all this.
  17. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Sometimes, yes. I can think of a few examples of rich people living very well who have paid zero - or close to zero - income taxes, for example. For the most part, no.
    Well, that's the difference between equality and equity, right? A 6 inch curb at a crosswalk presents everyone with an equal solution. If you're in a wheelchair, or if you are walking, you have the same curb to deal with. An equitable solution is a ramp there so that the guy in the wheelchair can get across the street. That's equitable.
    A progressive system - a system where the more you make, the higher percentage you pay - is fairly equitable. However, we don't really have that. Poor people in the US pay about 28% in taxes. That drops to 26% by the time you get to the 35th percentile, then slowly rises again to about 30%. Which is somewhat progressive for that range (35th to 99.99th percentile) - but then it drops again. When you get to the richest of the rich, it drops to 22%, because those people have tools (foundations, depreciation, permanent loans) that the less rich cannot avail themselves of. This has been getting worse with time as those ultra-rich have refined their tax avoidance schemes.

    So fix the bottom and top of that taxation curve and we'd have a progressive taxation system.

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  18. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Yes. Internationally, homeless people defined as "exclusively homeless" by the study (usually meaning being homeless for more than a year) had that incidence of mental disorder OR drug/alcohol dependency.

    I would suggest that since that 1) excludes a large chunk of homeless people and 2) that fewer than 1/3 of the studies were done in the US, it is not representative of what the " the average person on the street" in Seattle sees.
  19. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    That would be someone who didn't have income, right? If you have already paid the taxes and now it's just wealth, there is no "income" to tax, right?
  20. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    The average person I see on the streets appears to have serious mental illness and when that doesn't apply they appear to have serious drug issues.

    There may be a large percentage where that doesn't apply but it's certainly not obvious. The ones where that might not be the case (just from my observations) would be those living in RV's that never move and not those pitching tents in parks and under bridges.

    If you have an RV you have a home and if you can't afford an apartment you can certainly drive to the next town over and get a job that will pay for a local apartment.
  21. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Well, generally not, no. They had income but were able to offset that in one of several ways:
    1) They had been paying that income into a tax-advantaged or foundation account, and thus claimed they had no income since it all went somewhere else
    2) They had losses that they claimed were greater than their income
    3) Their income was not traditional i.e. they were accruing value in their business, and their business was paying for all their needs, but their reported salary was zero.

    That's just a few of the tricks that the very rich can use to avoid paying taxes.
    candy likes this.
  22. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Well, of course. A friend of mine owned a business in the "homeless" section of San Diego, and pretty much all the people who caused problems for him (and thus that we saw) were so drunk/stoned they didn't know what they were doing and were wandering around, or were mentally ill enough to follow people around shouting at them or something. Those are the people who are most visible.

    The vast majority of the people down there stayed in their tents/cars, or got up and went somewhere else, looking like pretty much anyone else. You don't see them because they are either not visible or look like everyone else.
  23. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Do you consider it a "trick" to have a charitable foundation? Is giving money away, a trick?

    If you have loses greater than your income, is there any income to tax? More than likely the next year they did have income and paid a lot of taxes. Is that likely to be true?

    If they were abusing the tax laws, is it more likely that there were more wealthy people cheating on their taxes than any other group?

    In general, do you think this whole subject of the rich not paying their fair share is a legitimate and statistically significant issue or is the actual problem that it's mainly the rich who are paying taxes and Congress is spending much more than they are taking in and using the rich as the scapegoat?

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