# News Economic Equaility

1. Dec 8, 2003

### Zero

Hmmmm....ran across this phrase in the political poll that kat posted. I don't think that is an unworthy goal, does anyone else? I don't mean that we should all have exactly teh same amount of money and possesions, but just the idea that if you work 40-50 hours a week, you should get paid enough that you don't live in poverty.

2. Dec 8, 2003

### Staff: Mentor

Its far too vague of a concept (without explanation) to have an opinion about. In general, I think phrases like that are thrown around to elicit a knee-jerk 'of course!!' reaction when the reality is far more complicated.

And your answer doesn't fit with what the phrase 'economic equality' means to me. However, using your definition, I would say that in general (a huge generalization) I agree.

3. Dec 8, 2003

### Zero

I'm not saying anything like that no one should be a millionaire, or even a billionaire...I'm just saying that the world would probably be a better, and certainly more stable, place if everyone who works and works hard gets paid enough to live a decent life.

4. Dec 8, 2003

### Bystander

"... works and works hard ...." translates as what?

5. Dec 8, 2003

### Kerrie

Staff Emeritus
you can't have much economic equality when so much manufacturing is going overseas...i see the gap between poverty and wealthy growing wider, and the middle class is getting split into one or the other (just my opinion working in the industry that i do)...i think one major step in keeping the economy equal (and strong) is to buy what is made in america...it's a viscious cycle really-america is a free enterprise country, thus business owners have the ability to go overseas to keep manufacturing costs down, in turn laying of their employees they no longer have to pay (benefits, retirement, wages, etc)...the prices of goods and services the company offers will remain the same but the profits of that business will go the one person's pocket, instead of being equally shared by the americans the company once employed...

so, buy american (if you are in america)

6. Dec 8, 2003

Staff Emeritus
What do you folks think of Marx's labor theory of value? I could almost be a Marxist if it wasn't for that and a couple of other things like the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The idea is that each worker's work is his own and he should benefit from it. If someone (a "dirty capitalist") makes him work longer, in order to produce a profit for said someone, then that's exploitation, and should be ended.

Now I believe that the fellow who put up the money to get the whole thing started should have a fair share in the result, along with the guys who contributed physical work. As to what's fair, that's a matter for negotiation, which is why I am a strong supporter of unions.

But what we have now, in too many industries, is just what Marx criticized in the 19th century: The big corporations are in a position to coerce their workers to accept anything the company will grant them, and unions are becoming moribund. It sucks.

7. Dec 9, 2003

### Zero

Hard work...I'm sure you've seen someone do it at least once in your life?

8. Dec 9, 2003

### Kerrie

Staff Emeritus
selfadjoint, marx's theory sounds good in theory, was it ever put into play?

9. Dec 9, 2003

### Zero

Late night, Kerrie?

Didn't Marxism go the way of Animal Farm, where in the end even though the system changed, there were still tyrants at the top exploiting the people at the bottom?

10. Dec 9, 2003

### Bystander

Yeah, yeah, yeah --- "work" is another very flexible term; I've seen lots of people work very hard at doing nothing, and I've seen lots of people do a hell of lot without it ever looking like work --- as have you. A wheat farmer can put several hundred tons of food on the table with maybe a month's work out of a year making little clods out of big ones --- the rest of the year involves waiting for rain that doesn't come, and hoping for clear weather at harvest --- is it work? It's productive. Artists sweat, and strain, and bleed their souls into something that is gratifying to them, if to no one else. Is it work? Is is productive? Should the NEA/NEH pay them large sums of tax money?

11. Dec 9, 2003

### Zero

Farmers? Yes.

Artists: probably not.

COme on now, you are looking for trouble, aren't you? I'm talking about your average American who works a regular average job.

12. Dec 9, 2003

Staff Emeritus
The various communist states claimed to, but the claim was in every case a lie.

Marx said the workers should own the means of production (the factory or whatever). Communist governments said that meant the government should own them. nd that's what they did. The workers had no more choice than under runaway capitalism.

Suppose somebody had been able to achieve something like this. Banks that are just like western banks except their profit goes to the people, according to some formula. Similarly corporations all send their profits back, but otherwise the free market rules. Innovation is rewarded with perks and raises, not with a piece of the pie.

Wouldn't that satisfy the Marxist requirement? But that wouldn't happen because it wouldn't be in the interest of the selfish jerks who run all governments, or at least determine how they run.

13. Dec 9, 2003

### Monique

Staff Emeritus
Zero, are you talking about minimum wages? Do those exist in the US btw?

I definately believe in economic equality if you are talking about the citizens of a country. Ok, there will be some people in there that really don't deserve the money and should go to work, but there are a lot of people who are unable to find proper jobs.

The Netherlands really strives to create this economic equality and people with minimum wages get all kinds of subsidies from the government.

Recent budget cuts though (to stay under the 3% stability pact (which we will exceed in 2004)) have meant the decrease in buying power of the minima with 8%, while the government had promised them not to cut them more than 1%. This has really created an uproar and people are very concerned that the poor will become poorer if this goes through.

Guess what: really stupid idea, they have opened a bank account (they: the government) and the rich people are free to make donations that will then go to the minima. Will it work? Don't know, but it is an initiative.

Ofcourse, this has lead some people to be lazy and not want to find a job, I know such a person, young 20 year old girl on government subsidy without a job, living on her own in Amsterdam.

But: they have found something for that too: such young people will soon (if it passes the voting) be forced to do voluntary work (what's that called, working without wages) otherwise they won't get the subsidy. Voluntary work is always around: scraping gum from streets, picking up cans from the park. They have my support 100%, boy this country would become so clean :)

14. Dec 9, 2003

Interesting way to word it.

15. Dec 9, 2003

### Monique

Staff Emeritus
I know, I don't think a word exists for that yet.. forcetary?

16. Dec 9, 2003

### kat

Mandatory community service is the term I think you might be looking for... This is the method used in the U.S. or at least in the state of Maine (States vary) I believe that as long as people are doing at least 30 hours a week community service they are still eligible for government support which, I believe, includes foodstamps, cash benefit, medical along with many other benefits inludcing money paid to them according to mileage to get to doctors appts etc.

17. Dec 9, 2003

### Monique

Staff Emeritus
Indeed I am willing to pay higher taxes if that means the people who need it benifit from it and that the public safety and neatness will increase.

These people doing mandatory community service also get more incentive to find a real job, it keeps them from becoming potato-couches (or was it couch-potatos?, lol).

18. Dec 9, 2003

I’m thinking about a normal relation between work and pay. That is; you must work and we will then pay you. With the community service system it becomes; we will pay you, but then you must work. Isn’t this similar to the bottle being half empty verses half full?
In effect does it not simply become a system where the government provides jobs?

No doubt many people will receive support even if they are unable to work, but what will happen to the young healthy ones who refuse to perform community service, preferring to live on the streets?
How should someone pushing for economic equality handle such a situation?

19. Dec 9, 2003

### Monique

Staff Emeritus
I agree: work then pay. The truth is that not everyone can become a CEO or manager or head of staff or engineer or *fill in blank*. That is why economic equality should be a goal, that doesn´t mean there shouldn´t be a difference along with the effort and responsibility a job holds. That doesn´t mean that the poor deserve to live in the gutter.

In your example, if the young ones choose to not work and refuse community service, let them live on the street. I mean, everyone in a good state of health is able to perform community service. If not I´d put them on mandatory counseling and see if depression is the root cause. If they refuse counseling, let them be free and find a niche for themselves on the street.

Last edited: Dec 9, 2003
20. Dec 9, 2003

### Njorl

Economic equality would be wonderful. The problem is arriving at it. It would be great for the economy if everyone had a decent disposable income. Middle class spending habits drive the markets. The problem is giving them that disposable income without earning it tends to reduce productivity. You wind up with too many dollars chasing too few goods.

The international labor market is in a dicey situation these days. Barriers are coming down, so cheap foreign labor looks very attractive. I am torn by this. I feel it is exploitative for us to obtain cheap goods from workers who endure conditions we would not tolerate here. On the other hand, those workers are often in those jobs because they provide the best possible standard of living they can attain.

Hopefully, when other countries improve their living standards, international labor unions will form to counter the power of international corporations. As it is, ownership derives inordinate advantages from globalization over labor.

Note- in the discussion of cheap labor above, I'm not including things like Chinese slave labor prisons, or child labor sweat-shops. Those are catagorically immoral in my view.

Njorl

21. Dec 9, 2003

### Staff: Mentor

No, I don't think it would. Thats not equality if some people are rewarded for performance. Its been a while, but the way I understand it, a janatir and a doctor make the same amount of money and the doctor accepts it because its for the good of the country. And maybe you can argue that the rewards would be small, but how small can they be while still keeping the doctor happy? And how big can they be without making the janitor mad?

Setting aside for a moment the government ownership and the ruling elite, the USSR really did strive for equality and lack of class for everyone not in the ruling elite. The result was that people were motivated toward mediocrity, corruption, or fleeing the country and the economy gradually destroyed itself. The only reason it lasted as long as it did was fear and enforced ignorance.

Last edited: Dec 9, 2003
22. Dec 9, 2003

### Zero

I think something to look at would be the difference in pay between the bottom and top employee in any given company. In Euroope, the average difference runs to something like 30-50 to 1. In the US the number is closer to 200 to 1, and there is no telling how gigantic it is in China, with a minimum wage that is pennies an hour.

23. Dec 9, 2003

### Zero

The minimum wage in America is $5.15, which translates to about$10,000 a year, before taxes. Some people in America see the minimum wage as one step from an entitlement program.

24. Dec 9, 2003

### Monique

Staff Emeritus
Really, I looked it up: the minimum wage for people 23 years and older for a 37,5 h work week (as you seem to have taken) is $9,40 an hour,$18,314 a year.. quite a difference. But I think life in Europe is more expensive than in the US, so that is not accounted for.

25. Dec 9, 2003

### Monique

Staff Emeritus
[offtopic]Can you imagine that we pay 4 times as much for cargasoline than Americans? The price per liter is the same as per gallon Ofcourse, our cars have a better milage :)[/offtopic]