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Ethics of working or not working for money  RSS feed

 
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Cindy Skillman wrote:Nearly everyone objects to providing for those who cannot be pulled from their couches and their video games to do an honest day’s work.



I truly believed that until I saw the posts in this thread by people that believe differently, and the number of people that support those with apples, thumbs up, and replies of support.  It seems I was mistaken in my belief.  
 
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Cindy Skillman wrote: Very few object to caring for the sick, the single mother with her little ones, the elderly. Nearly everyone objects to providing for those who cannot be pulled from their couches and their video games to do an honest day’s work. Yes, corporate greed is an abomination, but I can’t understand why corporate greed means that I must buy beer and candy bars for a young person desperately in need of exercise.



It also only works in a CLOSED system, and the smaller the system the better. For example a community of 1000 people may decide to offer money and assistance to help the poorest 75-100 people. That is doable and the community views it as a valuable contribution.

However if the surrounding communities do NOT offer that sort of assistance, and the group of 1000 decides to offer that same assistance to newcomers in need then suddenly that community of 1000 people could find that thousands more are moving there because they are poor and in need of assistance too.

At that point the system collapses very quickly.
 
pollinator
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Are social security benefits in your country big enough for anyone to live on?
How many people do you personally know who live on benefits and just play video games all day?

I'm just curious because I think Finland is much more of a socialist country than say, US, and still people very often cannot make it on social security. They have to stand on bread queues because after paying their rent, electricity, medicines and other must-have expenses they don't have enough money to buy food. It's on the news constantly. Unemployment benefits are not enough, neither are the smaller pensions, if a person lives alone. Two people sharing an apartment can get by okay, but many elderly people can't after one spouse dies. Families with children also find it really hard to manage on social security benefits.

I was once on unemployment benefit for two months. What a joke it was. The unemployment office told me I had to close my business in order to be eligible for benefits. The business wasn't doing that well so I did. I then had to spend my time on the unemployment office's courses. The courses were alright. But the benefit: it was ridiculously small. I went back to business after two months, because as bad as my business was, it was still better than the unemployment benefit.  [The business had nothing to do with farming or permaculture, this was before I'd even heard about permaculture].

If I knew of thousands of young, healthy people playing videogames while living a luxurious life on social security benefits, I might be against welfare. But I don't know anyone who fits that definition. I'm not saying there aren't any people like that, there might be. But I think they'd have to have some other (hidden) form of income besides welfare benefits to be able to live a luxurious life.

Anyway, I find it really difficult to get upset about something that seems to me like a very minor problem (at least in my country). Especially compared with the much bigger issues we have with global warming etc.







 
Trace Oswald
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Nina Jay wrote:Are social security benefits in your country big enough for anyone to live on?
How many people do you personally know who live on benefits and just play video games all day?

I'm just curious because I think Finland is much more of a socialist country than say, US, and still people very often cannot make it on social security. They have to stand on bread queues because after paying their rent, electricity, medicines and other must-have expenses they don't have enough money to buy food. It's on the news constantly. Unemployment benefits are not enough, neither are the smaller pensions, if a person lives alone. Two people sharing an apartment can get by okay, but many elderly people can't after one spouse dies. Families with children also find it really hard to manage on social security benefits.

I was once on unemployment benefit for two months. What a joke it was. The unemployment office told me I had to close my business in order to be eligible for benefits. The business wasn't doing that well so I did. I then had to spend my time on the unemployment office's courses. The courses were alright. But the benefit: it was ridiculously small. I went back to business after two months, because as bad as my business was, it was still better than the unemployment benefit.  [The business had nothing to do with farming or permaculture, this was before I'd even heard about permaculture].

If I knew of thousands of young, healthy people playing videogames while living a luxurious life on social security benefits, I might be against welfare. But I don't know anyone who fits that definition. I'm not saying there aren't any people like that, there might be. But I think they'd have to have some other (hidden) form of income besides welfare benefits to be able to live a luxurious life.

Anyway, I find it really difficult to get upset about something that seems to me like a very minor problem (at least in my country). Especially compared with the much bigger issues we have with global warming etc.



As I said earlier, I could take you to visit at least ten families right now that are collecting food stamps, social security, and other benefits because they can make more money doing it than they can working.  These examples are not hard to find.  In this state, the more children you have, the more money you collect in food stamps.  A family of 7 gets right at $1000 a month in food stamps alone.  They can also draw from a  number of other programs.  Yes, these are young, healthy people that could easily work, but won't.  They would be happy to explain to you exactly how to do it.  The people that I know that are abusing the system seem to take a perverse pride in beating the system and are happy to tell you about the various ways to do it.  And yes, I see it as a big problem when I look at the amount of money I make versus the amount of money I actually get to keep, and I know a large part of it is going to support things I don't believe in and systems I know are being abused.
 
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Nina Jay - No, social security isn't enough to live on. People on it live like you suggest. I have resisted commenting on this thread further, because I don't feel like the discussion is in good faith. I'm so glad that I don't buy into the dominant paradigm. It's incredibly freeing.
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Nina Jay wrote:Are social security benefits in your country big enough for anyone to live on?
How many people do you personally know who live on benefits and just play video games all day?



The cash benefit alone is not, but when combined with food stamps, Section 8 housing (which can pay over 90% of monthly rent) etc...it apparently is enough to live on especially when the income is supplemented by various means. Though the people that I know on the benefits also work well paying side jobs to supplement their income, and in the case of the 25 year old he is also now co-owner/inheriting several acres of property with a home on it (where he lives now) so he is pretty well set and occasionally works for recreational income so he can afford a late model truck, all the weed he can smoke, various toys in the form of firearms, atvs, etc...

It also discourages conventional families/marriages since women that do NOT marry the father of their children can often get supplemental income from the government, but if they did get married the benefits would be lowered. Marriage is quickly becoming less common for the poor/working class as a result.
 
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There is a simple saying from years ago: "Take the King's shilling, and you do the King's bidding.

For me, a full-time farmer, if there is a program that will prevent erosion, I may or may not take it. But if I do, because the Government is paying, I must do it according to their wishes. A few years ago I did just that, I wanted to take a tilled field into grass because I was getting massive erosion. They provided the funds to do that, but part of the rules before sowing down with seed, is to make sure the field meets lime and fertility requirements. That meant chemical fertilizers on that field, I did not like it, but I did it because it was part of the rules.

My point with some Welfare Recipients is that they get trapped into this way of thinking that they have to stay where they are. It is a fale sense of security at best. Their next meal, the roof over their head, their transportation...it is all doled out to them.

Our current governor has a real issue with those on Welfare because as a Teenager he was homeless, but rose from the ashes of that to be Governor of Maine...for 8 years. When he was adamant about people helping themselves, the media bashed him and said he was racist...at which point he pointed out that him and his wife had adopted an African-American son. (Someone failed to do their homework on that one).

But if anyone wants to hear of abuse, just take into account our Bottle Redemption Law. If you buy a drink...soda, milk, juice, etc; you pay 5 cent extra on each bottle. If you take it back to a redemption center, you get that 5 cents per bottle back. It is awesome, people walk the ditches and clean up tossed bottles to make a little bit of money! But those on welfare have found out, they can buy water and soda with food stamps, go out in the parking lot, dump the contents out, and go and cash the bottles in and use the cash to buy beer and cigarettes. (They cannot be bought with food stamps). Nice huh?

 
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I really hope that at some point down the road, most of the societies on Earth can reach a "Star Trek-the Next Generation" type of society. Meaning, we have finally worked out a system that allows for everyone's basic needs of food, shelter, health etc to be met, without needing to work multiple jobs to cover all the bills. A child could go to a school that in addition to the basics offers a wider range of intro classes to take, and then that child could continue their studies into a (free) college setting if they wanted, and then contribute as much free time as they like to that career, or not. Of course there's a technological leap for ST:TNG of energy/matter manipulation that we are nowhere near at this point. But I wonder how societies will change over the next 100 years, when oil is finally used up and natural gas starts to get scarce? Without the Sci-Fi leap, we still have to produce the stuff we need, so if everybody decided to not work then the system breaks. There is no surplus, unless some are willing to do more than they need to, if your interpretation of share the surplus means giving other people stuff you don't need. It's my opinion, that we don't allow anyone to just sit and do nothing, but instead determine what everyone can contribute, regardless of ability, and then they do their part. Some can do more than others, but everyone will do SOMETHING, and if they don't/won't, well that's their way of saying "I choose not to be part of your village/society", and I suppose they would then go somewhere else.

It seems to me that a lot of people and societies appear to focus on accumulation of wealth/stuff as a source of power or worth relative to others. It's easy to look down on people who are poorer, or engage in say "redneck engineering", building stuff from scrap that looks really "ghetto". But you could also admire their work to affordably create something that functions as intended using what would otherwise be waste products. I have a lot of family that live out in "the holler" in parts of Kentucky and Georgia, and you would swear you were on the set of the movie Deliverance to drive up to their house. Some have part time jobs or do odd jobs when they can, or have a small retirement check from past service or an old pension. They get by on that because they don't spend much, and they stick together to help each other out. They are great people, and choose to live with what they have, instead of driving an hour each way down the highway to reach the nearest town so they can work minimum wage, part time jobs doing something they hate. I plan to take a 70% pay cut when I retire in a few years to go build a wofati-ish house on my land, giving up grid power, city sewer, trash pickup, paved roads that never have snow or ice, and all the conveniences within minutes to drive. Instead I will be in the woods, relying on solar and a gas generator for a few basics, heat and hot water only from using wood, shoveling/plowing snow just to reach the gravel road, and driving a bit further to reach a lot of things. But I expect to have the same amount of spending money each month after the 70% pay cut, because I won't be spending as much either on things I don't need. Will I be a societal leech as a result? I don't think so, I did something in return for my pension, and my 401k plans serve their function as well. But now I'll be able to spend my time doing something more fulfilling (I hope!) whether it be tending to a homestead, volunteering in the community, or traveling around spending money as I visit places around the world that I've always wanted to see.

While there may always be people who try to "game the system" to get by doing as little as necessary, I think part of that is due to the current system setup. People don't see the personal benefits of working a job they don't like for some corporate entity. Could we reach a point where a simple terminal is available in every home to provide internet access to a quality, adaptive learning system which could possibly replace schools? And that system allows any child regardless of location access to high quality info (not just porn) in case they live where it takes hours to reach school by bus each day, or requires walking though neighborhoods controlled by gangs? There are currently ill-equipped parents raising kids in their own image, which is likely to repeat the problem of some who "game the welfare system", so getting into that cycle to disrupt it is a big goal. I hope it doesn't take a breakdown of the system as a whole.

Notice how in the last 20 years the USA has gone from 2 political parties fighting over the amount of services provided and the amount of taxes to pay for most of it, to 2 parties fighting over services/taxes with little regard to paying for most of it? Since interest rates have been so low for so long, the cost of that debt hasn't been as high as it could be, but I dread the day when those rates get back to historical norms and suddenly the national budget goes more and more into paying interest on all that debt. I think this will exacerbate the issue of supporting others who can't/won't contribute, as we will have to reduce spending on programs that help the vulnerable and tax more those who can afford it but are still in that "more is better" system. And don't forget our current political system is very much a "who can I buy for this much" setup.

I believe we are still living in a medieval society of land/wealth owners who are few in number but own most of the property (Forbes 400 last month said those 400 people are worth a combined $2.88 Trillion), and the vast majority are serfs who own almost nothing and live day by day. I've read many times about just how many live paycheck to paycheck, and are 1 unexpected major bill away from being homeless. So without the generosity of the few (whether forced by taxes or philanthropic) there would be many suffering even more than they are now. Progressing to a system where everyone contributes their time and effort as best they can and nobody is lacking healthy food, safe shelter, and can pursue interests that go beyond basic necessities will likely require a total revamp of society. Getting back to a village mentality and focusing on something like permaculture to reduce needed inputs and reinvest the surplus into making the village more sustaining should in theory require less time from everyone down the road. As people age they might not be able to provide as much physically but there are many other tasks that could still be done. And I would expect there will always be lazy people who just want to coast along without helping. That would in effect be like welfare, "getting something for nothing" to use the definition that some attribute to welfare. But in a smaller group setting like an eco village there would be more social pressure to contribute, compared to our current more isolated system, and I would hope that when "the system" is something more wholesome and fulfilling like that eco village, more people would be willing to participate to keep it running. You would now be contributing to a healthy social environment that everyone owned, rather than contributing to a system where 1 out of a million people get almost all of the benefit.

 
Nina Jay
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Thank you for that clarification, Trace. Those 10 families in your neighbourhood do indeed sound like they are abusing the system.

How many people do you estimate there are within the same area who need the benefits because they cannot work or cannot find work despite their best efforts?

Here are some statistics for my country:

Number of unemployed people in Finland in 2018: 171 000

Number of open job positions open in Finland in 2018: 46 900.

171 000 - 46 900 = 124 100 people who cannot find a job, because there aren't any available at this time.
In addition, it is estimated there are 130 000 people who are not fully employed but do not show in the official statistics as unemployed for various reasons. They are people who are "outside the workforce" despite being of right age to work and not ill. They do not take unemployment benefits but are not fully employed either.
Adding those 130 000 gives a total of 254 100 people for whom there is no full time job available.

Of course, some of them could become entrepreneurs. I don't know how many of them have what it takes to run a successful business. But let's assume 20 percent of them are entrepreneur-material. That still leaves 80 %, ie. 203 280 people for whom there is no full time job available.

Why isn't there a job for everyone in our relatively wealthy nation? There never has been a time of full employment and I fear there never will be, because economists do not want that. It would mean problems for the big businesses: wages would go up and there would be increasing inflation. It is the result of political decisions that there aren't jobs for everyone. Our economy just wouldn't work the way it does if everyone had a job.

I don't like the current system. I think there's much to be improved. I want to do my best so that the system is changed and there no longer are armies of unemployed people. However, I'm afraid there aren't any easy fixes. It might take some serious rethinking of our economic system to make full employment possible.


 
Mark Tudor
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Referring to comments about it paying more to not work, I used to train the visually impaired and blind and there were quite a few people who could work full time, the employers wanted to do it, but social security disability insurance has a cap on annual income which if exceeded would cause the SSDI to be cut off and the person would lose access to a lot of benefits. So they would only work part time as it was in their best financial interest. I also know older folks who get social security for retirement, who work part time to a point and then stop, because there's a 2 for 1 loss of benefits once you reach a certain income level, and you lose $1 of social security for every $2 you make above that point.

I expect better systems could be implemented to make it more appealing to be independent of government support, if the political and social will existed.
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Mark Tudor wrote:I really hope that at some point down the road, most of the societies on Earth can reach a "Star Trek-the Next Generation" type of society. Meaning, we have finally worked out a system that allows for everyone's basic needs of food, shelter, health etc to be met, without needing to work multiple jobs to cover all the bills. A child could go to a school that in addition to the basics offers a wider range of intro classes to take, and then that child could continue their studies into a (free) college setting if they wanted, and then contribute as much free time as they like to that career, or not. Of course there's a technological leap for ST:TNG of energy/matter manipulation that we are nowhere near at this point. But I wonder how societies will change over the next 100 years, when oil is finally used up and natural gas starts to get scarce? Without the Sci-Fi leap, we still have to produce the stuff we need, so if everybody decided to not work then the system breaks. There is no surplus, unless some are willing to do more than they need to, if your interpretation of share the surplus means giving other people stuff you don't need. It's my opinion, that we don't allow anyone to just sit and do nothing, but instead determine what everyone can contribute, regardless of ability, and then they do their part. Some can do more than others, but everyone will do SOMETHING, and if they don't/won't, well that's their way of saying "I choose not to be part of your village/society", and I suppose they would then go somewhere else.



Realistically it doesn't require a big sci-fi leap but it would require a MAJOR reduction in population.  With technology a small population actually could live that way very comfortably especially with robotics and the like. AI is just around the corner as are advanced robotics so theoretically it could probably happen in 100 years (best case scenario).

With a population of 8 billion that is going to triple in the next few decades, that is a whole other matter.

That ideal utopia will not come about within the next few generations. Human's just aren't that civilized or practical. On most levels we are still very primative animals (which is why some of the elite warn against AI, it will see us for what we are and eventually decide "These stupid animals don't know how to run anything, I will fix this").
 
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I wasn't going to participate in this discussion, but I believe this speech of an economics professor and former minister of finance of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis, offers some excellent insights regarding our system of taxation and welfare and why it's not working anymore. I believe it's fair to say it's not working anymore, just look at the protests in France of the so-called 'yellow vests'. The yellow vests are mostly ordinary working class people outside of the main urban centers for whom life has become too expensive; they've seen taxes go up and up, while services in their provincial towns and rural areas have been stripped. The protests are mainly in France, but the effects or stagnant wages and rising taxes are felt all over Europe, and people are become negative about those who rule them.
So I believe there's a crisis, and here some of the mechanisms we see the effects of are very well explained, or at least I found it helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22eQ9iLBfY4.  
 
Nina Jay
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Thank you for the video, J. Growstra.

As background information: I've read Varoufakis' blogs (or some other texts by him, can't remember off the bat what they were). I know who he is and have some idea of what he stands for. Based on what I've read so far, I don't agree with Varoufakis in everything, but I agree with him on many, if not most, things.

About the video you posted then:
First I must admit I may have missed something because I couldn't understand what he was saying, his accent takes some getting used to I guess. I'd love to get a text version of this video.

I think he's perceptive in comparing the collapse of the Soviet Union to what is happening to the capitalist economy at the moment. If I understood correctly, he was saying that the capitalist economy is collapsing and the reason is the financial capitalism that's replacing it. The traditional socialist welfare state just cannot work anymore.

I also think he's right in that the dicotomy "state vs. markets" is artificial and false. In reality, the state needs the markets and the markets need the state, one couldn't exist without the other.

I agree that the way forward from the crisis is for us to get pass this unnecessary division and start seeing the big picture.

 
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Trace Oswald wrote:

Cindy Skillman wrote:Nearly everyone objects to providing for those who cannot be pulled from their couches and their video games to do an honest day’s work.



I truly believed that until I saw the posts in this thread by people that believe differently, and the number of people that support those with apples, thumbs up, and replies of support.  It seems I was mistaken in my belief.  




I don't deny that there are those scamming the system.
What I object to is stereotyping.  
Rarely do any of us know the whole story of someone elses journey and how they got where they did.  
What we perceive and make judgements on is usually only a part of the story.  
In many cases a mental illness is all but invisible...as an addiction or living with abuse can be.

Has anyone who objects to these folks playing video games on a couch all day invited them out to eat or to the zoo or just for a walk or hike?




 
J Grouwstra
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Varoufakis' trade is economics, and I don't know whether he has the best answer on where to go know, but I believe there's consensus among economics people about what has gone wrong.
The purpose of this thread may have been to look at private persons of which some are working and others are not, and okay, we can look at that, but for finding out what really hurts us we're better off listening to what people who have studied economics can tell us.

Here's another economics professor, called Mark Blyth, also with an accent, a Scottish central belt accent here, but this is a video with subtitles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGvZil0qWPg.
As for Varoufakis, he's also the co-founder of a movement called DiEM25 (Democracy in Europe Movementent 2025), and on their site you'll find info in text. I haven't read the manifesto or anything, but you'll probably find a lot of Varoufakis' ideas there without the thick Greek accent: https://diem25.org/.
 
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Lucrecia Anderson wrote: The populations that were getting welfare are now getting disability payments (for life).



I think in the past these people would have been professional beggars.  I think in any population there will be a certain number of people by temperament unable or unwilling to work.  I'm not sure how to force people to work who can't or won't.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Judith Browning wrote:
I don't deny that there are those scamming the system.
What I object to is stereotyping.  
Rarely do any of us know the whole story of someone elses journey and how they got where they did.  
What we see and perceive and make judgements on is usually only a part of the story.  
In many cases a mental illness is all but invisible.



I haven't been able to work at a "real job" for decades.  Toward the end of my employed career I had to keep quitting jobs because I would get sick from stress.  It was several years later that I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  Eventually I started working at home and then started my own business which I worked at for many years until my industry changed and I couldn't get clients anymore.  But I was capable of working fewer and fewer hours.  At the beginning of my career I worked a normal 10 hour day, toward the end I was doing well if I could concentrate for a couple of hours at a time.

It never occurred to me that I was disabled and could have applied for disability.  I was fortunate in being able to easily change from working as an employee to working at home as an independent contractor.  I would say that many or even most people who can't work a normal job are not able to become businesspeople.  My sister is on disability because of bipolar disorder; she couldn't work in her career any more.  She has tried to start a couple of businesses but failed.  Some of the time she appears to be perfectly healthy, but the stress of a job would certainly make her ill again.  
 
Trace Oswald
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Judith Browning wrote:

Trace Oswald wrote:

Cindy Skillman wrote:Nearly everyone objects to providing for those who cannot be pulled from their couches and their video games to do an honest day’s work.



I truly believed that until I saw the posts in this thread by people that believe differently, and the number of people that support those with apples, thumbs up, and replies of support.  It seems I was mistaken in my belief.  




I don't deny that there are those scamming the system.
What I object to is stereotyping.  
Rarely do any of us know the whole story of someone elses journey and how they got where they did.  
What we perceive and make judgements on is usually only a part of the story.  
In many cases a mental illness is all but invisible...as an addiction or living with abuse can be.

Has anyone who objects to these folks playing video games on a couch all day invited them out to eat or to the zoo or just for a walk or hike?



I read lots of posts here from people talking about how things should be, or voicing their opinions about how other people think.  I try not to do that and to speak to my own personal experiences.  It seems that offended some people on here, but since you addressed my post directly, I’m going to answer, again from my own experiences.

I grew up in a very small town in the Midwest.  The town had less than 500 people, with another couple hundred in the surrounding rural areas.  In the town I lived in, no one had much money and that echoes the experience of people in small town America in lots of places it seems.  My mother raised my brothers and I by herself on a small income.  My mother didn’t believe that being poor was a reason to accept government assistance.  She worked hard until late at night, and I watched my younger brothers from the time I was 11 or 12.  I don’t know if you have ever lived in a small town, but if you have, the answers to your questions would be part of your experience, as they were mine.  The kids of the people on welfare played with us, we ate at one another’s houses, we rode the bus together to school, we saw each other on a daily or near-daily basis.  We shared the toys we had, but most often played games like tag, or used sticks as pretend boats and raced them down the small creek just out of town, or caught frogs.  We didn’t have a zoo.  

We had food to eat, but everyone I knew hunted deer illegally year-round.  If we hadn’t, we would still have had food, but we wouldn’t have had meat as often.  I can tell you for a fact that the people on food stamps ate a lot better than my family did, and better than many of the other families in the area.

I can’t say for a fact that none of the people around us on welfare had a mental illness, but I can tell you that in small towns, everyone knows everyone else’s business.  All the time.  Addiction and abuse are not “all but invisible” there.  Everyone knows who is addicted to anything, who is being abused, who is cheating on their wife or husband, and who cheats on their taxes.  Many of the people that I personally knew that were receiving government assistance simply didn’t want to work and took pride in knowing how to “beat the system”.  They would often voice their amusement that we didn’t all do it.

When I read Tyler’s posts on this subject, it seems to me that she feels bad about having a disability and wishes she could work harder or longer or …, and she projects those feelings and thinks everyone feels the same way she does and really wants to work.  My personal experience tells me differently.  My own experiences have certainly affected me the opposite way and I’m sure shape my judgement in the other direction.  I know far, far more people that abuse the system than need it, so I am far less empathetic to this situation in general.  Such is life.  All of us look at life through a lens made up of our experiences.  I grew up next to these people with the same disadvantages they had.  I went in the military because we had no money and they would pay me to learn a trade.  That trade has served me well since.  I worked hard, saved money, bought land, and generally have a pretty good life.  I struggle with the fact that the people I know could have done the same, but chose instead to abuse the system, and teach their children the same values, and on and on it goes, for generations.  My brothers and I all worked hard and made something worthwhile from our lives.  As I said before, I can point to literally dozens of people out of a few hundred that are just as able bodied as any of us that made a conscious choice to live off the efforts of other people and that angers me.  Your experience’s, Tyler’s, Nina’s, or anyone else’s, don’t negate my experiences because yours have been different.
 
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Judith Browning wrote:

Trace Oswald wrote:

Cindy Skillman wrote:Nearly everyone objects to providing for those who cannot be pulled from their couches and their video games to do an honest day’s work.



I truly believed that until I saw the posts in this thread by people that believe differently, and the number of people that support those with apples, thumbs up, and replies of support.  It seems I was mistaken in my belief.  



Has anyone who objects to these folks playing video games on a couch all day invited them out to eat or to the zoo or just for a walk or hike?


My ex was (is?) one of these people and yes, I repeatedly invited him to go out and walk and live with me.  He truly preferred to live in fantasyland and repeatedly (deliberately) made choices to increase his partial disability and fight for more because he felt the government / people / life owed him.  I have spoken with others like him.

However, I do think there are a lot of people with legitimate need for benefits AND our benefit system in the U.S. is messed up.  I have seen many people at work who are also doing the balancing of work vs. benefits because we have such stupid all-or-nothing benefits where you're either on and need everything or off.  Yes, they only work part-time or quit and are rehired because it is a loss to work.

We really need a better graduated system that not only rewards working and making more when you can but also encourages savings and bettering one's situation.  Ex. My sister's family was on WIC/similar when my BIL was in grad school and she had a new baby.  They would save money because they are naturally frugal but then turn around and spend it on a (much-needed) upgrade on their fixer-upper right before they had to re-qualify because if they had ANY savings they would be disqualified from receiving any assistance.  They couldn't survive without it at that point.  Theirs was a short-term need and they are doing fine now but I think of families where this is not the case and the system actively discourages them from saving any windfalls and it makes me discouraged.
 
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Sonja Draven wrote:Theirs was a short-term need and they are doing fine now but I think of families where this is not the case and the system actively discourages them from saving any windfalls and it makes me discouraged.



There is another factor that hasn't been brought up yet.

More and more families are getting on various forms of assistance (free school lunches, food stamps, etc...) the number has risen sharply in the last few years and there are groups that actively advertise and cold call households to encourage people to sign up for whatever programs they might be able to qualify for. And they aren't just canvassing in poor areas, they are aggressively trying to sign up every possible person that they can.

Why encourage people to take gov assistance when they don't need it?  Because once people are receiving "free stuff" the vast majority will want to KEEP receiving it, and that directly affects how they v....errrmmm.. it effects the decisions they make in the future.
 
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I grew up in a very small town in the Midwest.  The town had less than 500 people, with another couple hundred in the surrounding rural areas.



Trace, I too grew up in a small town in the midwest...different generation I imagine being born in 1950.  We were very low income also, but I only found that out later...it didn't come into play much until I left home.

I appreciate your thoughts and I do understand that my perceptions aren't necessarily those of others.




 
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It IS a big problem, Sonja. That’s why it always fills me with profound admiration when I do see someone or (more often) some family claw their way out of the smothering suffocating octopus we call the “safety net.” It almost seems purposefully designed to make people helplessly dependent on politicians.... oh wait....
 
Nina Jay
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Trace Oswald wrote:
 As I said before, I can point to literally dozens of people out of a few hundred that are just as able bodied as any of us that made a conscious choice to live off the efforts of other people and that angers me.  Your experience’s, Tyler’s, Nina’s, or anyone else’s, don’t negate my experiences because yours have been different.



You're 100 % right, Trace. I'm sorry if I implied anything else. Not for a moment did I doubt that your experiences were exactly what you said they were.

In my posts I had three goals:
1) to find out the scale and magnitude of the problem you described
2) to share my own experiences, which were different from yours. Not more right or wrong, just different
3) to share what little theoretical knowledge I have on the subject, in the hope that it will make it easier for all of us to be less "angry at bad guys" and more looking for solutions.



 
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In a perfect world I think everyone's basic needs...food, shelter and health care, should (can't think of another word but 'should') could be met.

I don't have any solutions for the messy place the world is in now.



 
Tyler Ludens
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Judith Browning wrote:In a perfect world I think everyone's basic needs...food, shelter and health care, should (can't think of another word but 'should') could be met.



Do you know of an appropriate response to people who think people should work for those things?  To me it seems like people are saying everyone should work because everyone should work, not because they need to or that it somehow harms society if they don't.  Maybe they "should work" because it is "good for them" or something, but is it good for them if it makes them unhappy and stressed-out?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Trace Oswald wrote: Your experience’s, Tyler’s, Nina’s, or anyone else’s, don’t negate my experiences because yours have been different.



Of course not.  I think I acknowledged that there have always been people who don't want to work.  Some people seem constitutionally incapable of getting up on time, sticking to schedules, being responsible, etc.  I have not personally known people like that, but I do hear tell of them.  I'm just wondering what the solution is besides letting them become homeless beggars, which many people find an unsatisfactory solution.
 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Judith Browning wrote:In a perfect world I think everyone's basic needs...food, shelter and health care, should (can't think of another word but 'should') could be met.



Do you know of an appropriate response to people who think people should work for those things?  To me it seems like people are saying everyone should work because everyone should work, not because they need to or that it somehow harms society if they don't.  Maybe they "should work" because it is "good for them" or something, but is it good for them if it makes them unhappy and stressed-out?


I don't have a good response...and I wish I did.
I think a lot the 'should' reaction is to do with taxes used for welfare.  I know many pay a lot of taxes and it is frustrating for them to see that money go to feed someone who they feel is doing nothing to earn it while they are working hard to earn their own way.

Otherwise I don't see how it's anyone elses business how one chooses to live their life...it only  becomes so when someone else feels like they are footing the bill or sees some inequality or unfairness in the system for themselves...when we 'compare' our life to others?

I don't think that way of thinking is going to change with this system of government in the USA.

On the other hand, I don't like that any of my taxes have gone to feed the war machine...I would much prefer to feed people.

This is such a first world problem isn't it?...and quite a luxury just to be  having  this conversation.










 
 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Judith Browning wrote:In a perfect world I think everyone's basic needs...food, shelter and health care, should (can't think of another word but 'should') could be met.



Do you know of an appropriate response to people who think people should work for those things?  To me it seems like people are saying everyone should work because everyone should work, not because they need to or that it somehow harms society if they don't.  Maybe they "should work" because it is "good for them" or something, but is it good for them if it makes them unhappy and stressed-out?



I don't think anyone is saying "everyone should work". Not at all. If you have money because you made a bunch of it, or inherited it, or your spouse makes a lot of money etc...and you don't need to work, then not working is perfectly respectable.

However if you CAN work and you choose to let strangers pay your way (strangers that are paying against their will) or feed your kids via gov support that is another thing entirely, and that is what people object too.
 
Nina Jay
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Judith Browning wrote:In a perfect world I think everyone's basic needs...food, shelter and health care, should (can't think of another word but 'should') could be met.



Do you know of an appropriate response to people who think people should work for those things?  To me it seems like people are saying everyone should work because everyone should work, not because they need to or that it somehow harms society if they don't.  Maybe they "should work" because it is "good for them" or something, but is it good for them if it makes them unhappy and stressed-out?




I think you are now at the core of the ethical dilemma that the original  poster was talking about.
He said: "I think people need to work and expect to be involved in work as one of the obligations of living in a community."

The way I see it, there are at least two ways of looking at this.

One is that work is an obligation, something everyone has to do, as much as they are able to (without getting ill).
The other is that work is a privilege, something you do because you want to, for your society or just for yourself, as much as you are able to (while keeping a reasonable work-life-balance)

Now there are some jobs I doubt anyone can view as a privilege: Work that is demeaning or dangerous or inhumane. There aren't many jobs like that in the Western world but there are plenty of them in the developing world. But I think nobody in this thread was referring to that kind of inhumane work, so maybe we can skip that discussion and just assume we are talking about "normal" Western jobs.

If a person sees work as a duty or obligation, it naturally angers them, if they do their duty but others neglect theirs. Some may even think the people who don't do their duty should not eat. Others may take a milder stance: give them some basic necessities but nothing more.

If a person sees work as privilege, they are more likely to feel sorry for people who can't or don't work than be angry at them.

Then of course there's middle-ground positions like seeing work partly as duty and partly as privilege.





 
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Lucrecia Anderson wrote:

Sonja Draven wrote:Theirs was a short-term need and they are doing fine now but I think of families where this is not the case and the system actively discourages them from saving any windfalls and it makes me discouraged.



There is another factor that hasn't been brought up yet.

More and more families are getting on various forms of assistance (free school lunches, food stamps, etc...) the number has risen sharply in the last few years and there are groups that actively advertise and cold call households to encourage people to sign up for whatever programs they might be able to qualify for. And they aren't just canvassing in poor areas, they are aggressively trying to sign up every possible person that they can.

Why encourage people to take gov assistance when they don't need it?  Because once people are receiving "free stuff" the vast majority will want to KEEP receiving it, and that directly affects how they v....errrmmm.. it effects the decisions they make in the future.



I heard a man say that it's harder to get off Government benefits than it is to get off Heroin.

Dependent people are a huge growth industry, and there are a lot of people whose economic security depends on promoting and servicing the benefits system. They get paid to take money away from one person and give it to another. Ayn Rand called them "looters".
 
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Judith Browning wrote: I know many pay a lot of taxes and it is frustrating for them to see that money go to feed someone who they feel is doing nothing to earn it while they are working hard to earn their own way.
 



It's pretty easy to lower one's income taxes by earning less income, so I think it isn't so much about taxes as about "the principle of the thing."  I think some people see work as an absolute good, whether the work is necessary or not, and don't want their taxes going to pay people not to work. I rarely see people who complain about taxes going to feed or house others complain about the military industrial complex or tax cuts for the wealthy.

Because of changes in the US economy, there are fewer jobs available for many people, and some people are experimenting with the idea of a guaranteed basic income for all.  I think many people will have a philosophical problem with it.
 
Nina Jay
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Lucrecia Anderson wrote: If you have money because you made a bunch of it, or inherited it, or your spouse makes a lot of money etc...and you don't need to work, then not working is perfectly respectable.

However if you CAN work and you choose to let strangers pay your way (strangers that are paying against their will) or feed your kids via gov support that is another thing entirely, and that is what people object too.



This idea is very interesting to me, coming from a different culture.  The idea that if you are rich, it is okay not to work, but if you're on gov support it's not okay. I'm not sure I understand the logic entirely here. Is the point here being rich (therefore respectable) or is it more about where your money is coming from?
What if you made a bunch of money running your business that sold  services to the government and they paid you with tax dollars? A relative of mine has done that. Would it now be respectable for him not to work anymore? Would it make a difference if he hadn't sold those services to the government but to other businesses?


 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Judith Browning wrote: I know many pay a lot of taxes and it is frustrating for them to see that money go to feed someone who they feel is doing nothing to earn it while they are working hard to earn their own way.
 



It's pretty easy to lower one's income taxes by earning less income, so I think it isn't so much about taxes as about "the principle of the thing."  I think some people see work as an absolute good, whether the work is necessary or not, and don't want their taxes going to pay people not to work. I rarely see people who complain about taxes going to feed or house others complain about the military industrial complex or tax cuts for the wealthy.

Because of changes in the US economy, there are fewer jobs available for many people, and some people are experimenting with the idea of a guaranteed basic income for all.  I think many people will have a philosophical problem with it.



I very much see lowering my own income to pay less taxes as cutting off my nose to spite my face.  While you are correct that I could lower my taxes by lowering my income, lowering my income also lowers my standard of living. I could cut my taxes to zero just as easily.  Just stop working altogether.

You are the first person I've ever heard of the opinion that some people see work as an "absolute good". The people I know that work think of it as necessary to get things you want in life, whether it be working at a 9 to 5 job,  working for yourself,  whatever.  There are certainly things i would rather do than get up and go to work every day working on my land is one of them. I work to support myself.

I don't know that I've ever heard people complaining about their taxes going to feed or house people. I've only heard people complain about their taxes going to feed and house people that are perfectly capable of feeding and housing themselves.

As far as the US economy,  unemployment is much much lower than it has been at times in the past.  The example i gave earlier about apprentising in heating and air conditioning and making over $50 dollars an hour by the third year is not a made up example.  It's fact.  There a many jobs in the trades right now waiting to be filled by anyone that wants to work and can pass a simple drug test.  That shouldn't be too much to ask.  

I too have heard the idea of a guaranteed basic income. I do have a philosophical issue with it. I have the same issue with any other program that rewards people for not working while taxing those that do work even more to support the program. I also have a mathematical problem with it.  Every program that gives people something "free" has to be paid for by someone.  Any guess as to who that someone will be?
 
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Nina Jay wrote:

Lucrecia Anderson wrote: If you have money because you made a bunch of it, or inherited it, or your spouse makes a lot of money etc...and you don't need to work, then not working is perfectly respectable.

However if you CAN work and you choose to let strangers pay your way (strangers that are paying against their will) or feed your kids via gov support that is another thing entirely, and that is what people object too.



This idea is very interesting to me, coming from a different culture.  The idea that if you are rich, it is okay not to work, but if you're on gov support it's not okay. I'm not sure I understand the logic entirely here. Is the point here being rich (therefore respectable) or is it more about where your money is coming from?
What if you made a bunch of money running your business that sold  services to the government and they paid you with tax dollars? A relative of mine has done that. Would it now be respectable for him not to work anymore? Would it make a difference if he hadn't sold those services to the government but to other businesses?




The reason it's okay not to work if you're rich is because you can support yourself.  If you're on government support, the tax payers are supporting you.  It doesn't have to do with it being respectable or about where your money came from.  It has to do with whether you are being a burden on someone else by not working.
 
Nina Jay
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Trace Oswald wrote:

The reason it's okay not to work if you're rich is because you can support yourself.  If you're on government support, the tax payers are supporting you.  It doesn't have to do with it being respectable or about where your money came from.  It has to do with whether you are being a burden on someone else by not working.



Okay, thank you, I sorta get the logic now, I think. I still don't really see the people on welfare as burden in our current economic system, because as I said earlier, sadly it is necessary in capitalist economy that some people are unemployed. Full employment would drive the wages too high and cause inflation or jobs escaping to countries with cheaper labour, among other things.

 
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We actually do have inflation—and jobs going to other countries... and we also have more jobs than people to fill them, and we have no need to deprive people of profitable work in order to make the nation’s economy function. In my town there are construction sites with help wanted signs. This is a thing I can’t ever remember seeing before. These aren’t high skilled jobs... just jobs for people willing to actually show up (preferably on time) and learn, and do what they’re asked to do. That’s just one example... one that particularly concerns me, since we cannot even hire anyone to replace our hail-ravaged roof because the roofing companies cannot find help.

I know that there are people genuinely not capable of contributing to their own upkeep, let alone helping others in need, but in my limited experience, they are far fewer than those folks who would benefit far more than they can imagine if they were to push through the hard spots and learn to stand on their own. I’ve been blessed to see this happen on a number of occasions and it always fills me with awe. It’s such a difficult thing, to overcome generations of dependence on welfare, etc. and rise above the shackles of the “government” dole (which of course isn’t paid for by the govt at all, but by middle class tax-payers.) Yet it can be done and I’ve seen a few actually reject the larger payday (welfare, etc.) in favor of winning their own independence from govt subsistence.

None of this has anything to do with the military industrial complex, btw. That is another abuse of tax payers—one more extortion, one more enslavement of those who work hard and carry the nation on their shoulders. “But the military industrial complex...” isn’t an argument for the welfare system; it’s another discussion altogether.
 
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Cindy Skillman wrote:
None of this has anything to do with the military industrial complex, btw. That is another abuse of tax payers—one more extortion, one more enslavement of those who work hard and carry the nation on their shoulders. “But the military industrial complex...” isn’t an argument for the welfare system; it’s another discussion altogether.



Things are spiraling out of control way way too fast, and it is starting to really come to a head. Personally I am starting to think it is time to fire the entire federal government and start over like they did in the 18th century with the Constitution as the foundation. This time we add an amendment that severely limits the ability of the feds to tax the populace.

I didn't used to think so, but very recently I have decided that a "reset" is coming and it may happen way sooner than folks expect (possibly in both the US and Europe). It is a good time to prepare.
 
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I do understand the objection some people have with the idea that their income is going to support others they feel are undeserving for whatever reason.  I understand it, but do my best not to feel it, as to me it seems part of what I think is a human weakness.  I'm not sure what it is, having never tried to articulate this before, maybe it's tied up with a need for status or rank, maybe it's just a selfishness, I don't know.  But instead of just eating their delicious piece of pie and being content, people have to look around and make sure no one else has a bigger piece of pie - or a different flavour!

I have a friend who used to overeat in restaurants and feel terrible the rest of the night.  He'd get a big plate of food, and force himself to eat all of it, to "get his money's worth."  I finally managed to get him to think of getting his money's worth in a different way.  Rather than thinking, "I paid for X amount of food," he started thinking, "I paid for a nice meal."  So when he was full, he could think, "I just had a nice meal," and not worry about what was left on his plate.

Someone mentioned that work is a necessity to get things you want in life, to support yourself.  I agree.  I only work as much as I need to.  And I can look around, see I have a good life, and am happy.  I don't worry about the taxes I paid, because I didn't need them: I just looked around and saw that I have a good life without that extra money.

Now I do feel that I have a duty to support myself.  I would not feel comfortable living on welfare, because I know I don't need it.  Just because I feel that duty, doesn't mean I expect anyone else to, though.  I'm taking this duty on of my own free will, and I'm not going to blame anyone else if that duty gets hard or irksome sometimes.
 
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Jan White wrote: I'm not sure what it is, having never tried to articulate this before, maybe it's tied up with a need for status or rank, maybe it's just a selfishness, I don't know.  But instead of just eating their delicious piece of pie and being content, people have to look around and make sure no one else has a bigger piece of pie - or a different flavour!



I think it is more like picking fruit and making the dough to bake a pie for yourself, but realizing that every time you do more and more of your pie is taken away and given to strangers (and you have no say in it whatsoever, you don't even know who it is going to). It keeps happening until finally you are getting such a tiny piece it is no longer worth the effort of baking one at all.
 
Greg Mamishian
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Tyler Ludens wrote:It's pretty easy to lower one's income taxes by earning less income...



This is so true, Tyler.

You can retain your same standard of living even with earning less income when you have less debt.

Less Debt = Less Earned Income = Less Taxes
 
You can't have everything. Where would you put it?
Useful and fun gifts for a homesteader
https://permies.com/t/97875/fun-gifts-homesteader
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