What you do think is the number one issue facing us at the moment?

Seattle

Valued Senior Member
I didn't want to make this a poll, so you can pick your own issue. For me, I'll say populism. I'd definite that as as anti-intellectual movement or emotion over facts and reality.

I'd consider both Trump (obviously) and Biden as populists rather than as traditional centrists.
 
Who do you mean by "us"? The people of the United States? The people of the world, in general?

And what do you mean by "number one issue"? The issue that the most people say concerns them? Or the most important issue for the people, whether they recognise it or not? Different people tend to have different priorities, you see.

This is a very broad question.
 
Who do you mean by "us"? The people of the United States? The people of the world, in general?

And what do you mean by "number one issue"? The issue that the most people say concerns them? Or the most important issue for the people, whether they recognise it or not? Different people tend to have different priorities, you see.

This is a very broad question.
Yes, it's a broad question. Answer it as you see fit.
 
Avoiding an approximation or imitation of World War III. If not the genuine, fully up to standard occasion itself where all the participants of scattered conflicts have united under two or three coalitions.

Xi Jinping: "We want the return of Taiwan."

Kim Jong Un: "We want the whole peninsula."

Supreme Leader of Iran: "We want Israel and US influence gone."

Vlad Putin: "We want Eastern Europe back."

Joe Biden: "Ooh, Earth Rider, thanks for the Great Lakes. I wonder why…"
_
 
I do not believe that the small matter of climate change has been fully addressed yet. That strikes me as an ongoing important issue. No doubt it's not number 1 for some people. For instance, if you happen to be a Palestinian living in Gaza right now, you almost certainly have more immediately pressing matters to worry about.
 
Putin has been my main worry since the invasion.
How far will he push things?
The Economy, terrorism, climate change all in the background but none of that will matter if a fraction of the ICBMs aimed at the UK and allies are launched.
 
The #1 issue facing me right now is that my sister in law is dying.
The #1 issue that will face my kids is climate change.
The #1 issue that the US is facing right now is the threat to democracy posed by Trump.
The #1 issue that our economy is facing is a growing gap between the rich and everyone else.
The #1 issue that the world is facing (and has always faced) is the constant violence, terror, grief and horror brought on by war.
 
The #1 issue facing me right now is that my sister in law is dying.
The #1 issue that will face my kids is climate change.
The #1 issue that the US is facing right now is the threat to democracy posed by Trump.
The #1 issue that our economy is facing is a growing gap between the rich and everyone else.
The #1 issue that the world is facing (and has always faced) is the constant violence, terror, grief and horror brought on by war.

I'm sorry about your sister in law fella.
 
Avoiding an approximation or imitation of World War III. If not the genuine, fully up to standard occasion itself where all the participants of scattered conflicts have united under two or three coalitions.

Xi Jinping: "We want the return of Taiwan."

Kim Jong Un: "We want the whole peninsula."

Supreme Leader of Iran: "We want Israel and US influence gone."

Vlad Putin: "We want Eastern Europe back."

Joe Biden: "Ooh, Earth Rider, thanks for the Great Lakes. I wonder why…"
_
These are perennial powder kegs, yes.
 
The #1 issue facing me right now is that my sister in law is dying.
The #1 issue that will face my kids is climate change.
The #1 issue that the US is facing right now is the threat to democracy posed by Trump.
The #1 issue that our economy is facing is a growing gap between the rich and everyone else.
The #1 issue that the world is facing (and has always faced) is the constant violence, terror, grief and horror brought on by war.

Great answer in terms of your chosen format.

Sorry to hear about your sister in law but that does remind us that everyone has some "real life" issues going on and those make the greatest personal impact on us.

You might be right about what your kids face or it could be less severe (or more) or something else may be an even larger issue by then (or not).

The Trump comment is what I was thinking about with my "populism" comment. It's not just Trump, it's populism in all its forms around the world. Democracy needs a well educated citizenry and they need to have some "buy in" as well. In the past that might have been land ownership or a draft or something else.

Even war that has to be funded with tax dollars tends to be more short lived than when you can just print money. Voters will not support a war for more than a few years if their taxes are fully paying for it (or if their children are subject to a draft).

I somewhat disagree about the level of importance regarding the gap between rich and poor. I think (other than populism) it has more to do with the conditions of the poor and not so much about the rich.

I think this particular concern is more of a side effect than a cause. If it were a fact that everyone is doing well and the rich are doing even better and if it was a fact that a system that resulted in the rich doing less well also resulted in everyone else doing less well, then this would not be true even if populism fueled that sentiment.

Agree with your comments about war, violence, hatred, crime. That seems to be connected to the human condition and the nature of man. There is only so much that we can do when it requires changing the nature of man. We try of course, and conditions do tend to get better over the centuries but it's also good to put things into perspective and to realize what we are likely to be able to change and what we aren't likely to be able to change and to put more resources where progress is more likely.

Populism can make this more difficult as well, IMO.
 
Corruption - the ones with the gold making the rules "soft" sorts of corruption are in many respects more deeply problematic than the baksheesh for looking the other way sorts. So many problems that seem intractable become fixable without it.
 
Corruption - the ones with the gold making the rules "soft" sorts of corruption are in many respects more deeply problematic than the baksheesh for looking the other way sorts. So many problems that seem intractable become fixable without it.
Putting the fox in charge of the hen house is definitely a systemic problem.
 
I somewhat disagree about the level of importance regarding the gap between rich and poor. I think (other than populism) it has more to do with the conditions of the poor and not so much about the rich.

I think this particular concern is more of a side effect than a cause. If it were a fact that everyone is doing well and the rich are doing even better and if it was a fact that a system that resulted in the rich doing less well also resulted in everyone else doing less well, then this would not be true even if populism fueled that sentiment.
If the poorer half of the country suddenly got a 1% improvement in their income, and the richer half got a 200% improvement, that would still be a bad thing for our society - even if everyone improves.

That's because in a capitalist society, money equals power, in the form of votes for desired outcomes, ability to impose one's will on others and ability to undermine justice. It would be great if everyone was treated the same by our government, our economy and our justice system. Even life and death - it would be great if rich and poor alike had steadily improving outcomes for lifespan, qualigy of life, infant survival etc. But as we've seen we are far from that.

Thus there is great value in not having a huge gap between the haves and have-nots - a smaller gap results in a populace that sees itself a\ more as a populace, and thus will support laws/politicians/judges who provide better outcomes for everyone.
 
If the poorer half of the country suddenly got a 1% improvement in their income, and the richer half got a 200% improvement, that would still be a bad thing for our society - even if everyone improves.

That's because in a capitalist society, money equals power, in the form of votes for desired outcomes, ability to impose one's will on others and ability to undermine justice. It would be great if everyone was treated the same by our government, our economy and our justice system. Even life and death - it would be great if rich and poor alike had steadily improving outcomes for lifespan, qualigy of life, infant survival etc. But as we've seen we are far from that.

Thus there is great value in not having a huge gap between the haves and have-nots - a smaller gap results in a populace that sees itself a\ more as a populace, and thus will support laws/politicians/judges who provide better outcomes for everyone.

The problem is "reality". People aren't equal. That's why the results aren't equal. The government trying to mandate that reality be different doesn't work.

It tried that with sub-prime loans. That almost brought the whole financial system down.
It tried that with student loans for everyone. That only resulted in people going to college that shouldn't be in college in many cases, people who dropped out with large loans, people who took out more loans than their major would be able to pay back.

It resulted in many more people going to college but no new colleges being built so all it did was to drive up the cost of college dramatically.

Reality isn't something that can be easily changed.
 
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The problem is "reality". People aren't equal. That's why the results aren't equal. The government trying to mandate that reality be different doesn't work.

It tried that with sub-prime loans. That almost brought the whole financial system down.
It tried that with student loans for everyone. That only resulted in people going to college that shouldn't be in college in many cases, people who dropped out with large loans, people who took out more loans than their major would be able to pay back.

It resulted in many more people going to college but no new colleges being built so all it did was to drive up the cost of college dramatically.

Reality isn't something that can be easily changed.
Straw man alert. :wink: Nobody is suggesting people should all be "equal".

Nor is the very large degree of inequality of wealth in US society something that is an automatic consequence of "reality". It is the outcome of choices as to how society is organised. Western European free-market societies are nothing like as unequal as the USA.

The obvious drawback to the choice to tolerate extreme inequality (and it is a choice), as seen for instance in parts of S America, is that it leads to a weakening of social cohesion. The "have nots" feel the institutions of society do nothing for them and perpetuate what they see as injustice. They cease to feel respect for the law, in particular the property rights of the "haves", leading to an increase in crime and a breakdown in order. This process led to the French Revolution, for example.

What makes matters especially bad in the USA is that there is no restriction on donations to fund politicians or to limit the use of money in political campaigning. So there are in fact quite good reasons for the "have nots" to suspect that the "haves" have sewn up the political system to lock in a permanent advantage for themselves.

Arguing that the current state of affairs is just inevitable won't do.
 
Straw man alert. :wink: Nobody is suggesting people should all be "equal".

Nor is the very large degree of inequality of wealth in US society something that is an automatic consequence of "reality". It is the outcome of choices as to how society is organised. Western European free-market societies are nothing like as unequal as the USA.

The obvious drawback to the choice to tolerate extreme inequality (and it is a choice), as seen for instance in parts of S America, is that it leads to a weakening of social cohesion. The "have nots" feel the institutions of society do nothing for them and perpetuate what they see as injustice. They cease to feel respect for the law, in particular the property rights of the "haves", leading to an increase in crime and a breakdown in order. This process led to the French Revolution, for example.

What makes matters especially bad in the USA is that there is no restriction on donations to fund politicians or to limit the use of money in political campaigning. So there are in fact quite good reasons for the "have nots" to suspect that the "haves" have sewn up the political system to lock in a permanent advantage for themselves.

Arguing that the current state of affairs is just inevitable won't do.

Strawman alert...comparing S. America to the US.:)

The per capital GDP in the US is higher than most countries in Western Europe. There is more innovation and a more business friendly environment here.

I have always said (and I agree with you) that the biggest issue in the US is "big money" in politics. Campaign finance reform is needed. It has been tried (back when people cared about that kind of thing) and it basically gets shot down in the Supreme Court on free speech grounds (Citizens United). Federal terms limits would also require amending the Constitution (very hard to do).

While all that is needed for a more effective political system as well as a more responsible approach to our debt, that's not primarily why some people are poor.

I would still argue that it has little to do with wealth inequality and I would argue that wealth inequality isn't, in itself, all that much of a problem. It's not a zero-sum game.

If "we" wanted your system, "we" would have it.
 
The problem is "reality". People aren't equal. That's why the results aren't equal. The government trying to mandate that reality be different doesn't work.

Some subcultures also have their own built-in oppression system (like crab mentality), that is internal rather than a situation of external social hegemony. The poor whites of Appalachia and other population groups of the South once influenced by the archaic version of Ulster Scot Protestant culture (before later migrating across the country), can still carry those folk orientations of being averse to pursuing personal business enterprise, being distrustful of authority/establishment, disdainful of higher education, conspiracy inclinations and paranoia, etc.

[...] Reality isn't something that can be easily changed.

Nevertheless, it is a political and humanities industry to keep trying. Campaign support and philosophical careers revolve around continually outputting medicine show cures and "just so" theories.

Equity might arguably be a camouflaged label for implementing and enforcing old-fashioned (left) wealth redistribution to ensure the disadvantaged have true equal opportunity. Not really a bad idea at the voluntary, local community level of organizing and donating. Including private institutions and foundations, which at least would be unable to universally con and milk everybody on those occasions when they are corrupt.

But, of course, that would derail our need to abuse and rip-off yet another system of inefficient and wasteful benefits at the government level in various ways. Taxpayers absolutely must have that tried and stormy approach lording over the lot of them, above all the other questionable options.

Equity versus equality: What's the difference
https://news.berkeley.edu/2023/03/29/equity-vs-equality-whats-the-difference

Senator Sanders explained that “equality” refers to “equality of opportunity,” but admits he is not sure what “equity” means. The host says he thinks “equity” refers to “equality of outcomes,” and Senator Sanders appears to agree. Unfortunately, they are both wrong...

[...] To make the matter concrete: if a state spends equally $10,000 per student per year, but some students attend highly advantaged school districts flush with extracurricular assets, wealthy parents and donors, and low levels of poverty, whereas other students attend highly disadvantaged schools with high levels of student poverty, food insecurity, and fewer extracurricular or community assets, then simply spending the same amount is unlikely to produce true equality of opportunity.

You can extrapolate this example to other contexts: health care, housing, transportation, and so forth. The basic idea is simple: additional resources or support may be needed to help disadvantaged populations, and this goes beyond the concept of formally equal treatment.
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The problem is "reality". People aren't equal. That's why the results aren't equal.
If that were the only factor, we would see the same income and result inequalities today that we saw 100 years ago, since people have not gotten any more or less equal.

We have, however, seen a massive increase in inequality of outcomes. So there's something else at play. We should fix whatever that factor is.
Reality isn't something that can be easily changed.
And history is not something that should be ignored.
 
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