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## Income, Wealth and Statistics

 Quote by WhoWee What is the definition of poverty in the US?
It is "floating"! wow, in that case, I agree with russ_watters a bit more.

What a capitalist approach!

lol, reading about poverty, it appears there is "Absolute Poverty" (education / healthcare / food ect) and relative poverty (my neighbour is a millionaire, why not me!!).

Sorry I assumed poverty meant below some standard of living, based on basic human needs, and not on how well off you are compared to the neighbours. The latter is clearly independent of morals, assuming you are not in "absolute poverty".

Poverty is a really bad term for that context, the deffinitions between "Absolute Poverty" & "Relative Poverty" are completely different morally.
 Mentor Yes, it is an odd and surprising phenomena that often times, the measure of poverty has little to do with standard of living.
 Mentor This is also a problem with comparing poverty rates over time, as the definition and buying power have both shifted over time. Today, the fraction of families below the poverty line with multiple televisions is twice what it was for all families in the 1970's. While this tells you something about poverty trends, it also tells you something about the price of televisions.
 Some things have become more expensive over time in terms of constant dollars. Others have become much cheaper. Our first color television, for example, costs $380 in 1970. In today's dollars, that's about$2,200. It was a 17"! You can't even find a comparable TV today, but a 17" TV/Monitor will run you about $150, or about$27 in 1970's dollars. Bread, meanwhile, costs about the same in terms of constant dollars. A more accurate way of comparing prices, however, is as a percentage of the average income, provided.

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 Quote by Bacle2 Would most agree that all should have reasonably-equal access to all of the above ( if so, we can discuss how to accomplish this)?
Depends on what you mean by that. In the US, there are no restrictions on population movement, so by one measure, access is already equal.

There is also the cause-effect problem: quality neighborhoods are quality neighborhoods because quality people live there.

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 Quote by russ_watters There is also the cause-effect problem: quality neighborhoods are quality neighborhoods because quality people live there.
Depends on what you mean by that. I'm sure Berney Madoff lived in a quality neighborhood.

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 Quote by russ_watters Depends on what you mean by that. In the US, there are no restrictions on population movement, so by one measure, access is already equal. There is also the cause-effect problem: quality neighborhoods are quality neighborhoods because quality people live there.
There is the effective restriction of affordability: rents are significantly higher in the better-served areas.

Do you seriously believe most people would not move to an area with better schools for their children, etc., if they could?

And I doubt you can argue a child growing in poorer areas should take-on the burden of improving the areas him/herself. Maybe you can ask for an adult to do so (still, easier to do when you have a top-level education and the access to powerful people that comes from studying at an elite school) but not a child.

Maybe some of the residents could do more than they now do, but this still seems like an unfair situation. Try living in one (if you haven't yet) like I did for a few years and you'll see. See what it is to worry about being mugged when you're coming home. Or see how it was decided that many of the the dirtiest and noisiest activities where dumped in your area of town, etc. Basically, your access to a lot of the things (most consider) make life better , is restricted in comparison to others. It makes a difference over the longer run,believe me.

There is still an element of personal responsibility, maybe in organizing, but the situation seems unfair nonetheless.

( And, for the sake of accuracy, there are (effective-de facto) restrictions in movement; ask my international student friends, who cannot move out-of-town unless they get a transfer to another school, or else spend many months changing their status (if they lose their status, they're not in compliance). And still they pay around 10X tuition. No wonder they all tell me they wish they had gone to Canada instead--see where else we'll get our next supply of scientists and enterpreneurs. Same goes for many other non-resident immigrants.

You may argue this is not unfair; I'm just stating this as a fact (tho I do not believe it is fair.))

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 Quote by russ_watters Depends on what you mean by that. In the US, there are no restrictions on population movement, so by one measure, access is already equal. There is also the cause-effect problem: quality neighborhoods are quality neighborhoods because quality people live there.
Well there are economic limits due to scarcity.

But I think the problems we have are more due to the high inequality we have. Inequality is a decent measure of how the rewards system is working in our economy. If we have too much equality, people are not properly rewarded for their efforts; as a result, they lose incentive to do more. If we have too much inequality, some people are over-rewarded for their efforts leading to unrewarding for others for their efforts due to scarcity of resources, so incentives to do more is removed here too.

Since most people accept the argument about equality, I'll will skip it and go into more details on high inequality.

1. Economics is about managing limited resources of scarcity.
2. When people are over-rewarded for their work, other people will be under-rewarded for their work because of the limitation imposed by scarcity.

For the purpose of argument, lets pretend there exists a pie, and all Americans are competing for a slice of it. Suppose a Janitor does a great job cleaning, and he or she is over-rewarded for his job by being given half of the pie. Everyone else in America must not complete for the remaining half of the pie. Suppose an actor does a good job in a movie, he or she is over-rewarded with half of the remaining half of the pie. The rest of America must now compete over 1/4 the pie. Now suppose a great scientists cures cancer, creates an amazing new type of battery, and just does amazing stuff in general. The most he could be rewarded is 1/4 of the pie since 3/4 of the pie is already given out through over-rewarding people. And this is despite the fact that his work is much greater than theirs.

In a basic nutshell, over-rewarding is just as bad as under-rewarding. Both high equality and high inequality lead to the same thing: a bad economy.

 Quote by SixNein Well there are economic limits due to scarcity. For the purpose of argument, lets pretend there exists a pie, and all Americans are competing for a slice of it.
This analogy will only make sense if this is a magic pie that grows in line with the economic activity of the Americans competing for it

 Quote by SixNein Suppose a Janitor does a great job cleaning, and he or she is over-rewarded for his job by being given half of the pie. Everyone else in America must not complete for the remaining half of the pie. Suppose an actor does a good job in a movie, he or she is over-rewarded with half of the remaining half of the pie. The rest of America must now compete over 1/4 the pie. Now suppose a great scientists cures cancer, creates an amazing new type of battery, and just does amazing stuff in general. The most he could be rewarded is 1/4 of the pie since 3/4 of the pie is already given out through over-rewarding people. And this is despite the fact that his work is much greater than theirs.
Who decides who gets what slice of the pie?

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 Quote by Bacle2 You may argue this is not unfair; I'm just stating this as a fact (tho I do not believe it is fair.))
I would argue that fairness itself is an over-rated and usually self-serving concept developed by four-year-old children in order to get their own way. It is embarassing for mature adults to fret over fairness.
 That is circular reasoning. What is your argument against fairness? The laws act as an agreement among citizens to follow a certain guideline establish and agreed upon by most if not all parties. If one side-steps the law, is that person not being fair to the others?

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 Quote by boomtrain This analogy will only make sense if this is a magic pie that grows in line with the economic activity of the Americans competing for it Who decides who gets what slice of the pie?
There is nothing magical about the analogy. We have limited resources that we divide up with whatever economic policy we use.

Economic policy will ultimately decide who gets what. For example, suppose the US decided to employ Marxism and try to achieve equality. In such a case, the pie would be divided evenly across the population. But this in turn has negative consequences that I think everyone here would accept without argument.

The government needs to set a policy targeting the most optimal Gini coefficient. And every economic policy it creates needs to begin with how it effects the reward system we have.
And this is not only true for America, I think most western nations need to do this.

At any rate, America's social mobility is very bad. If your born poor, your probably going to die poor.

Our reward structure created from our economic policy is out of whack.

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 Quote by Mentalist That is circular reasoning. What is your argument against fairness?
It is not circular reasoning. One issue is that life isn't "fair", whatever that is. This leads to another issue: "fairness" is an ill-defined concept.

 The laws act as an agreement among citizens to follow a certain guideline establish and agreed upon by most if not all parties. If one side-steps the law, is that person not being fair to the others?
First off, that's irrelevant for the most part for the simple reason that the vast majority of citizens abide by the law.

More importantly, the law is not concerned with "fairness", whatever that is. It's concern is justice and protection of the public. Consider the fate of three criminals. One is an armed robber who at gunpoint steals a cheap watch and a bit of cash from a couple who accidentally walked down the wrong street. Net take: $200. The second is a burglar who breaks into a house while the owners are on vacation and steals jewelry galore, a couple of computers, and a fancy TV. Net take:$20,000. The third is an embezzler who over time steals little bits of money but from lots and lots of people. Net take: $2,000,000. Which one gets the harshest penalty? It's the armed robber, of course. The law is very cognizant of the fact that the victims who suffered the greatest trauma was the couple who were robbed at gunpoint. The law is also very cognizant of the fact there is a pencil-thin line between armed robbery and murder. The fact that the armed robber did not harm his victims is irrelevant. Is this fair? Some think not. That's not the point of the penalties. The point is to protect and serve the public. Back to the law abiding citizens, is it fair that someone who is a foot and a half taller than average and has far better reflexes than average can make millions of dollars a year just playing a game? Is it fair that someone with immense people skills can make hundreds of times what the average citizen makes, just because of those people skills? Is it fair that someone who is perhaps a bit reckless with her investments can eventually become a billionaire while ordinary people have struggle to build up a rather modest retirement nest egg? Is it fair that someone who happened to have ultrarich parents can fool around this week in Aspen, next week in Europe, and the following in the Hamptons, while everyone else works day in, day out? Life isn't fair. That's just how it goes. Besides who decides what constitutes "fairness"? Stop fretting over fairness and make the best out of your own life.  Recognitions: Gold Member What does "very bad" mean in the context of social mobility? What does "poor" mean in the US? The NYT article (which references Jantii) cites the following. Of US men raised in the bottom fifth: 58% move off the bottom; 35% will move up two fifths; 8% will migrate to the top fifth. And that's according to Jantti's research w/ the provocative title, who apparently is well respected but there is research all over the place on the subject as mentioned in the article. I suspect good data is hard to come by, as would be expected since the results require data on what happens to individual parent - child income, generation to generation. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science...49089X03000437 http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/...chHistoryKey=& http://www.sciencedirect.com/science...049089X0300043 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/1...456.x/abstract http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/jhr/2008ab/aaronson1.htm http://www.chicagofed.org/digital_as.../wp2002-08.pdf  Most people define fair to be what they themselves think is fair rather than what every single thing can agree on with the incredible amount of variation in both needs and desires and for this reason alone, fair-ness and an adequate definition there-of, will probably never be defined for a quite a long time to come.  It is not circular reasoning. One issue is that life isn't "fair", whatever that is. This leads to another issue: "fairness" is an ill-defined concept. You are certainly entitled to your opinion but do not make it seem as if it is a true one. I'd rather you put, "in my opinion".  First off, that's irrelevant for the most part for the simple reason that the vast majority of citizens abide by the law. More importantly, the law is not concerned with "fairness", whatever that is. It's concern is justice and protection of the public. Consider the fate of three criminals. One is an armed robber who at gunpoint steals a cheap watch and a bit of cash from a couple who accidentally walked down the wrong street. Net take:$200. The second is a burglar who breaks into a house while the owners are on vacation and steals jewelry galore, a couple of computers, and a fancy TV. Net take: $20,000. The third is an embezzler who over time steals little bits of money but from lots and lots of people. Net take:$2,000,000. Which one gets the harshest penalty? It's the armed robber, of course. The law is very cognizant of the fact that the victims who suffered the greatest trauma was the couple who were robbed at gunpoint. The law is also very cognizant of the fact there is a pencil-thin line between armed robbery and murder. The fact that the armed robber did not harm his victims is irrelevant. Is this fair? Some think not. That's not the point of the penalties. The point is to protect and serve the public. Back to the law abiding citizens, is it fair that someone who is a foot and a half taller than average and has far better reflexes than average can make millions of dollars a year just playing a game? Is it fair that someone with immense people skills can make hundreds of times what the average citizen makes, just because of those people skills? Is it fair that someone who is perhaps a bit reckless with her investments can eventually become a billionaire while ordinary people have struggle to build up a rather modest retirement nest egg? Is it fair that someone who happened to have ultrarich parents can fool around this week in Aspen, next week in Europe, and the following in the Hamptons, while everyone else works day in, day out? Life isn't fair. That's just how it goes. Besides who decides what constitutes "fairness"? Stop fretting over fairness and make the best out of your own life.

Justice and fairness are closely related as one constitutes, as you pointed out within your three propositions, a process given and judged because of the veracity of each situation. The exact content of fairness is indicated by the legitimacy and executed within the circumstances of the case. Justice comes in when one is given their due process for an injustice committed upon them.

Your next points about a person being taller, etc..., is not what I am concerning when speaking on fairness. As stated above, fairness is going by the established rules. You can say my position is “irrelevant” all you want, but you cannot also deny the main tenant of fairness I have pointed out within this thread, to which you have. I will state it again, fairness, is the account of everyone following established rules and when an injustice is committed upon a person, the guilty party is judged based upon the propensity of the damage, i.e. by the governing party and are judged based upon an impartial view of the law. That is justice or fairness, they aren’t mutually exclusive ideas.

So, when I say fair, I mean it within my reasoning given above, not what your argument is trying to make it out to be.

I will readdress one being taller, one being shorter, etc... Within my own reasoning of fairness, those would be considered acts by nature. One is taller simply because a combination of nature and genetics, thus he can reach further. Should he have his arm lopped off because he is taller than another? No because within my reasoning it would not fit the context and reasonableness of what is considered ‘fair’ and would be an injustice committed upon ‘said’ person. As goes the same for the rest of the examples. Nature has not agreed upon the rules of human society. Nature only acts upon society, it does not make decisions, holding it to a standard and attempting to reduce my argument to something as absurd of nature making conscious decisions concerning human society is something I take offense to.