Socialism again

Mentor
Socialism again....

In an effort to keep it out of the thread on poverty, I'm going to go ahead and start a "new" discussion here. "New" is in quotes because, of course, we've had the discussion before.

I'm going to try to focus this on one specific part of the discussion: socialistic policies in western nations. Please note: all western nations have some socialistic policies and the problems they face in trying to make them work are the same in every country. So the only relevance of comparing one country to another is for measuring how more or less socialism affects the economic development of countries. The individual issues, though, are the same. Specifically:

The primary problem with socialism, and we've all discussed it before, is that it rewards failure and it is human nature to become complacant if there is no pressure to succeed. Examples abound throughout the west, but the US provides a rare recent example of a scaling-back of a major socialist policy (again, human nature makes that extremely difficult: see France's labor problems). I am, of course, talking about welfare reform.

I'm frankly amazed that Clinton wasn't drummed out of the party for his welfare reform because it is so specifically against the core ideals of his party. And I'm amazed he did it. But the effects on the US economy and the perspectives of the people directly affected by it cannot be ignored (and I posted this in a previous thread...): http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-07-17-welfare-reform-cover_x.htm These are individual perspectives on the effects of being forced out of welfare:
Michelle Gordon was 30, a poor, single mother with four kids between 5 and 13, when the federal government decided in 1996 that parents on welfare should go to work.....

Since then, Gordon's life has been "a little bit of a roller coaster."....

She uses her experience as a lesson to her children. Daughter Essence, 19, has a high school diploma and a job and is attending college. Son Geno, 17, also has a summer job. Daughter Zoila, 15, says she won't have kids until she's married and established in life. The family gets food stamps, and the youngest two are on Medicaid, but they no longer get cash benefits.

The roller coaster Gordon has been riding for 10 years has made her less dependent on the government and more of a role model for her kids, she says.

"I'm not making $50,000 a year," she says, "but I'm keeping my head up, and I'm surviving." Quotes from other people affected: On welfare, "you slacked a little bit," Sledge says now. The new system "makes us tighten our belts a lot and just work that much harder." ----------- In 1996, Perry walked into the Allentown, Pa., welfare office two months after President Clinton had signed the welfare overhaul. At 25, she had three children under 8, the offspring of three fathers who lived in three states. She lived at a Salvation Army shelter. She had no car, no child care and almost no cash. She was told to seek work, housing, child support and a high school equivalency diploma. "I don't have a problem with it," she said. "I think it's about time for me to get working." --------------- I'm still not financially established the way I want to be. I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do," she says. But the changes in welfare "showed me how to be a stronger person and a better role model for my kids," she says. "It just makes me feel good to get up every day to work." ----------------- She went back to school for her high school equivalency diploma. This spring, after working with a church counselor for advice on clearing up her credit rating, she bought a four-bedroom house. Her next move, she says, will be to further her education. "Now that I'm working in a steady job, I bought me a home. I got built-up vacation time, so I can take the kids on trips. I do more things with them," Cogshell says of her children, ages 9 to 23. "They probably think I'm the supermom who has everything." These are the overall effects: The law signed by President Clinton on Aug. 22, 1996, has transformed the way the nation helps its neediest citizens. Gone is the promise of a government check for parents raising children in poverty. In its place are 50 state programs to help those parents get jobs. In the 12 years since caseloads peaked at 5.1 million families in 1994, millions have left the welfare rolls for low-paying jobs. Nearly 1 million more have been kicked off for not following states' rules or have used up all the benefits they're allowed under time limits. Today, 1.9 million families get cash benefits; in one-third of them, only the children qualify for aid. About 38% of those still on welfare are black, 33% white and 24% Hispanic. Three in four families on welfare are headed by unmarried women. As a result, employment rates for all single women rose 25% before declining slightly since 2001. Earnings for the poorest 40% of families headed by women doubled from 1994 to 2000, before recession wiped out nearly half the gains. Poverty rates for children fell 25% before rising 10% since 2000. "It was a profoundly important philosophic shift," says Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Michael Leavitt, who was governor of Utah when the law was implemented. "This was ... one of the few things in a decade you can look at and say the world really changed." The point of all this is that self-interest, greed, or whatever you want to call it is a fact of life. It's a survival instinct adapting to modern life, and it can't be ignored. An economic system must either harness it or be damaged by it: In a capitalistic system, it drives people to achieve. In a socialistic system it lulls them into complacency and mediocrity. Last edited: Answers and Replies denverdoc I used to believe such, but at the time I was brain damaged by reading too much Ayn Rand. Seriously, Russ I don't think it is an either/or proposition you make it out to be. People are driven by a variety of motives, and the assumption that a competion model vs one of cooperation is lacking evidence. For some, to be the top dog and have lots of "things"--the he who dies with the most toys school of thought is entirely antithetical to the motivations that move me. I personally believe that a mixed system is best in that some things are too precious to trust entirely to market forces, while others too basic to trust to the individuals sense of collective enterprise. In other words, one can be "over"motivated by self-interest to the detriment of others just as surely as one can be undermotivated. Plus there needs to be some basic sense of justice built into the system, like right to health care, education, decent livng conditions for all. Now that doesn't imply medicine for instance need be socialized, only that everyone has basic access. I'm a big believer in meritocracies, but here I think Marx had some valid points, among them, that as wealth accumulates, it becomes anything but a level playing field. We certainly don't have one at present. On the other hand, maybe if no one else did anything and there were no rewards, maybe Atlas would shrug. Its a bedeviling problem along many dimensions. I'm just hopeful that we will figure out something superior soon. X-43D I agree with Marx that capitalism is oppressive. Capitalism crushes and kills individuals for money and profit but modern capitalism is different from the time in which marx lived. Marx didn't mention all the forces which are at the core of modern capitalism. Marx didn't mention the payment system which forces people to pay money for goods and services. Without the payment system, goods and services will be free for all. If everything is free (without money), the workers won't need their employers to give them money wages, the workers and the employers could get everything they need for free in the supermarkets. All have the same right to a good quality of life and the satisfaction of their needs, regardless of how socially valued is their work. Money is only needed if we want a society with big social inequality, so one person can own a billion times as much as another. The very concept of exchange economy is also flawed. Exchange presupposes that people have some money to exchange with but many people have not enough money to exchange with and become dependent on others. Those who can accumulate a lot of money and private property get power over other people. In capitalism there is a need for a big bureaucracy, the monetary exchange system, to decide how much each person has worked, what the value of his work is, how much money he has the right to and how much he can buy with that money. This administration system uses a lot of human effort, a lot of people are busy counting money, calculate how much is needed to pay, worry about money, calculate how much goods you are taking out from the supermarket and the cashiers make sure you pay for it. People are stealing money, policemen chase the robber, people build banks and ATM machines, all that, which has anything to do with money and other value papers, is the administration system of capitalism. In modern capitalism education is the main road toward wealth. But the education is not free. People have to pay a lot of money for education (it may cost 10,000 dollars). Modern capitalism forces people to work hard for earning money. Those without the educational qualificiations, certifications and degrees find it much harder to find adequate pay and to get out of poverty. For example a university professor will be paid much higher than someone who didn't finish high school (no high school diploma). An engineer will be pe paid more than a technician etc. Society is a pyramid and in order to climb up people need to invest hard work and effort. Last edited: Jimmy Snyder There was a story going around that during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, Red Guards broke the fingers of the piano player Liu Shikun. If the story is true (I have my doubts), they truly understood socialism. If you support socialism, but would not have broken his fingers, then you don't really mean what you say. On the other hand, maybe if no one else did anything and there were no rewards, maybe Atlas would shrug. Its a bedeviling problem along many dimensions. I'm just hopeful that we will figure out something superior soon. i think it could be a long while before anything significant changes. the people who have power have no reason or interest in spreading it around and the people without power seem to be mostly content with the way things are. as russ has pointed out, there are problems with too much socialism and as others have pointed out, there are also problems with too much capitalism so right now the trend seems to be people trying to find a balance between the 2 that works for them when only half a population votes, there are a lot of people who don't have much civic or political ambition. there may be a case to be made that because someone doesn't vote it doesn't mean they are not willing to force change but i can't think of it off the top of my head. Staff Emeritus Gold Member Let us not forget the other half of socialism: collective ownership of capital. We tend to focus on wealth redistribution in these discussions of socialist politicies in industrialized nations, but a big part of what makes many European countries so much more socialistic than the US is that the government owns and controls far more industries than defense and trains. Mentor I agree with Marx that capitalism is oppressive. Capitalism crushes and kills individuals for money and profit but modern capitalism is different from the time in which marx lived. Marx didn't mention all the forces which are at the core of modern capitalism. Right - Marx wasn't aware of how capitalism could be controlled/guided to avoid those problems because the methods of control hadn't been invented yet. He certainly gets a pass for not being able to predict the future. This is why I find it incomprehensible that people still follow his theory as if it is completely valid today. The analogy would be people still following Newtonian physics in areas where it doesn't work today. Scientific theory has not stood still and neither has political/economic theory. If everything is free (without money), the workers won't need their employers to give them money wages, the workers and the employers could get everything they need for free in the supermarkets. If everything is free, why would I need to work at all? In modern capitalism education is the main road toward wealth. But the education is not free. People have to pay a lot of money for education (it may cost 10,000 dollars). You're completely right about the first part, mostly wrong about the second. The correlation between education and income is extremely strong. The poverty line basically runs right through the gap between high school dropouts and graduates. But education up to and including high school is completely free, so the vast majority of the poor, who are also the vast majority of high school dropouts essentially had financial security handed to them on a silver platter and turned it down. Beyond that, a very high percentage of college students are receiving some kind of financial aid. It isn't usually completely free, but there are plenty of ways to get it almost completely free, or at least defer the cost until you have the income to pay for it. Last edited: ...But education up to and including high school is completely free,... this seems like a socialist policy that is for the good of everyone, wouldn't you agree? But education up to and including high school is completely free, so the vast majority of the poor, who are also the vast majority of high school dropouts essentially had financial security handed to them on a silver platter and turned it down.. I must respectfully say that education if not free. The United States spends a tremendous amount on public education, in addition those attending it must also spend money both for school supplies and because in many places in the world children work. Time spent in school is money taken away from the family. Second, not everyone is capable of completing high school. The idea that everyone could pass either makes the accomplishment meaningless or your expectations of everyone is the same... a rather socialistic view. Beyond that, a very high percentage of college students are receiving some kind of financial aid. It isn't usually completely free, but there are plenty of ways to get it almost completely free, You speek in generalities, If you look at the US US Department of Education's figures published in January the yearly cost of tuition at a four-year public school is$5,836 and over $22,218 for private. Keep in mind this is just tuition. Last year less then 28% percent of undergraduate university students received scholarships. The number is high in the top teir schools around 40% of undergraduate use them for two years or more. or at least defer the cost until you have the income to pay for it. This assumes you go into a field that can pay back 25 to 80 thousand at 3% interest and eat at the same time. Keep in mind that this problem is also what is driving many students away from pure science. Last edited by a moderator: this seems like a socialist policy that is for the good of everyone, wouldn't you agree? I would agree. I believe community colleges should be free as well. Investing in education by the tax-payer (to an extent) can only help society. But government should not sponsor religion, socialism, nor secularism in schools. Stick to the basics. The rest can be offered at private schools if one is so inclined. Welfare has it's place as temporary assistance for those in dire circumstances. But if you are 300 lbs sitting on your butt watching Oprah all day crying the blues... I've been so poor I've lived on the streets and it was all my doing. I did something about it because I know I have the opportunity to do anything I put my mind to in this country. I have little sympathy for those that live in America and don't make ends meet. Even the poorest of the poor here live like kings compared to those in much of the rest of the world and won't even appreciate what they have. This country was founded on rights, not entitlements. I must respectfully say that education if not free. The United States spends a tremendous amount on public education, in addition those attending it must also spend money both for school supplies and because in many places in the world children work. Time spent in school is money taken away from the family. Second, not everyone is capable of completing high school. The idea that everyone could pass either makes the accomplishment meaningless or means you expect everyone is the same... a rather socialistic view. You use speek in generalities, If you look at the US US Department of Education's figures published in January the yearly cost of tuition at a four-year public school is$5,836 and over $22,218 for private. Keep in mind this is just tuition. Last year less then 28% percent of undergraduate university students received scholarships. The number is high in the top teir schools around 40% of undergraduate use them for two years or more. This assumes you go into a field that can pay back 25 to 80 thousand at 3% interest and eat at the same time. Keep in mind that this problem is also what is driving many students away from pure science. ? non-sense. I would agree. I believe community colleges should be free as well. Investing in education by the tax-payer (to an extent) can only help society. But government should not sponsor religion, socialism, nor secularism in schools. Stick to the basics. The rest can be offered at private schools if one is so inclined. So far so good. Assuming, at least, that you don't mean that things like socialism shouldn't be taught in schools. They should, but in as objective a manner as possible. Welfare has it's place as temporary assistance for those in dire circumstances. But if you are 300 lbs sitting on your butt watching Oprah all day crying the blues... Again, I agree. I've been so poor I've lived on the streets and it was all my doing. I did something about it because I know I have the opportunity to do anything I put my mind to in this country. I have little sympathy for those that live in America and don't make ends meet. Even the poorest of the poor here live like kings compared to those in much of the rest of the world and won't even appreciate what they have. That's a lovely story, and I'm glad you got back on your feet, but that doesn't entitle you to judge other people's misfortunes or preach to them about what they could or could not have done to get out of their situations. How many people are struggling as a result of circumstances not under their control? And you're probably right that most people (poor included) don't appreciate all the benefits and advantages they enjoy as Americans, but the fact that they have certain advantages doesn't mean that they should sit quietly and stop complaining. I agree that they shouldn't anticipate being supported by welfare indefinitely, but is it unreasonable to expect some help from the government when you're going through a tough time? This country was founded on rights, not entitlements. Big deal. This country was also founded on slavery. Should we reinstate that, too? (Incidentally, about the rights...something tells me the slaves wouldn't have agreed with your assessment). The point is, we can't make policy choices today based on the principles the country was "founded" on 200 years ago. I'm not saying you're right or wrong, but at least keep that in mind. For the record, Archon, welfare has it's place. I've already stated that. Don't argue as if I did not. I believe we can make choices today based on policies made 200 years ago. They are based on history that goes beyond even 200 yrs before then. People are the same today as they have been since the beginning of civilization. Our country was founded on slavery? Nonsense. It may have existed back then but by know means was it founded on it. That's not even a logical argument. It was founded on a system that was able to abolish slavery, consider that for a moment! The system has a couple of centuries of success, maybe that's worth mentioning? Mentor this seems like a socialist policy that is for the good of everyone, wouldn't you agree? Yes, I do, and that is utterly irrelevant to the thread.... Mentor I must respectfully say that education if not free. The United States spends a tremendous amount on public education, in addition those attending it must also spend money both for school supplies.... You are splitting hairs: poor people do not pay income or property taxes and what I meant, in any case, is that people don't directly pay for their high school, the government does, through taxes. School supplies are an extremely small expense and most of what you need comes from the school anyway, so that isn't relevant either. and because in many places in the world children work. Time spent in school is money taken away from the family. Abusive child labor is not a valid point to use here. It isn't a positive thing that children work in other countries. It isn't even positive for those countries! Second, not everyone is capable of completing high school. The idea that everyone could pass either makes the accomplishment meaningless or means you expect everyone is the same... Wow, that's a really pessimisstic view. I think virtually everyone should be able to pass high school and yes, it isn't a huge accomplishment, but it is still an important one. The statistics on education vs income speak for themselves ($26k vs $35k median income for males who completed some high school vs people who completed high school but nothing more). http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d04/ch_5.asp None of what you haver here is meaningful/relevant to the point. Last edited: This country was founded on rights, not entitlements ? non-sense That is like saying this nation was founded on the 10 commandments. Gold Member (note: when I used 'destined' I mean genetically so) I'm a bit of a predeterminist, I suppose. I think that people who are 'destined' to fail will always fail no matter how much money you throw at them, but people that are 'destined' to succeed (but were born into or thrown into a bad situation) will be able to turn that money into stable income (by investing in their own work value to the work force or capitalism). Of course, there's also the effects of nurture which can't always be isolated from nature, but I tend to think nature is the stronger of the two in where there's not extreme conditions. Mentor ? non-sense That is like saying this nation was founded on the 10 commandments. Actually, no - the importance of individual rights is a critical part of what the Constitution was designed for (to protect). The concept of entitlement barely even existed at the time. Almost all of the so-called "entitlements" we have today came much, much later and in the view of many people go against the important concept personal freedom. ? non-sense That is like saying this nation was founded on the 10 commandments. You are going to have to explain this one. I was going to sit back as if you might actually have a point but... huh? Actually, no - the importance of individual rights is a critical part of what the Constitution was designed for (to protect). The concept of entitlement barely even existed at the time. Almost all of the so-called "entitlements" we have today came much, much later and in the view of many people go against the important concept personal freedom. I assume you mean the amendments of The Constitution? - Because the original Constitution had this to say We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. ROFL! Are you suggesting that the phrase "promote the general Welfare" to mean "promote a government funded social welfare system"? ROFL! Are you suggesting that the phrase "promote the general Welfare" to mean "promote a government funded social welfare system"? Hardly I can't even fathom how you thought of that, however those two phrases are the only ones that refer to individual rights. X-43D You're completely right about the first part, mostly wrong about the second. The correlation between education and income is extremely strong. The poverty line basically runs right through the gap between high school dropouts and graduates. But education up to and including high school is completely free, so the vast majority of the poor, who are also the vast majority of high school dropouts essentially had financial security handed to them on a silver platter and turned it down. Beyond that, a very high percentage of college students are receiving some kind of financial aid. It isn't usually completely free, but there are plenty of ways to get it almost completely free, or at least defer the cost until you have the income to pay for it. But those who didn't finish high school, need to be reeducated in order to complete their high school diploma. The reeducation is private and it costs about 10,000 dollars, depending on the subjects which need to be completed. Without a high school diploma (or a matriculation certificate) it is difficult to find a well-paying job and to get out of poverty. Last edited: Science Advisor But those who didn't finish high school, need to be reeducated in order to complete their high school diploma. The reeducation is private and it costs about 10,000 dollars, depending on the subjects which need to be completed. Without a high school diploma it is difficult to find a well-paying job and to get out of poverty. You have a point. A few years ago my brother started to upgrade his crappy high school classes to good high school classes in order to qualify for university. The cost of each course was$400, and that's in Canada.

It could be argued that it's good to pay a bit more for education. When it's free, people don't think twice about dropping out of high school. When it's $400 and you had to work your ass off at McDonalds to earn that money, you're going to pass. The first chance was free for everybody. If you want a do-over, you have to pay for it. Jimmy Snyder poor people do not pay income or property taxes. Poor people do pay property taxes whether they own or rent. Poor people do pay property taxes whether they own or rent. As well they should. Though it is not significant and there are work arounds. Why should only those who work themselves out of poverty be taxed? For the record, Archon, welfare has it's place. I've already stated that. Don't argue as if I did not. Fair enough. I believe we can make choices today based on policies made 200 years ago. They are based on history that goes beyond even 200 yrs before then. People are the same today as they have been since the beginning of civilization. Well of course we can! But that doesn't mean we should. Blindly arguing that because our country was "founded on rights, not entitlements" 200 years ago, we should limit the assistence we give to people in need is nonsensical. It's like making policy decisions based on the country's GDP in the 1700s: whether or not people have changed (debateable), the environment they live in certainly has, and policy decisions have to reflect this. Our country was founded on slavery? Nonsense. It may have existed back then but by know means was it founded on it. That's not even a logical argument. It was founded on a system that was able to abolish slavery, consider that for a moment! The system has a couple of centuries of success, maybe that's worth mentioning? You argue that our country was built on rights. Rights for who? Because it sure wasn't the slaves... Obviously, I don't mean to denigrate the things people in this country have accomplished. But in all fairness, how influential was the system in abolishing slavery? I know there was a nice transition from slavery to freedom (except for the Civil War), and after that all the former slaves lived happily (except for the Jim Crow laws, the blatant racism, the segregation, and the lynchings), and now they're doing just as well as everyone else (except for the educational achievement gaps, the high poverty rates, and the continuing racism), but really...what did any of that have to do with the "system"? Again, I don't mean to denigrate or belittle the accomplishments of Americans through history, or undervalue the importance of the American system and ideal in allowing these accomplishments to come about, but I think we should be careful in how we look back at history, especially if we're going to be making policy decisions based on it. Fair enough :) Yes, I do, and that is utterly irrelevant to the thread.... i was pointing out the contradiction in the support of state sponsored education and your statement The point of all this is that self-interest, greed, or whatever you want to call it is a fact of life. It's a survival instinct adapting to modern life, and it can't be ignored. An economic system must either harness it or be damaged by it: In a capitalistic system, it drives people to achieve. In a socialistic system it lulls them into complacency and mediocrity. free education for children (a socialist policy) does not lull everyone into complacency and mediocrity. i don't think your statement in the opening post actually applies to all socialist policies or theories. Science Advisor But in all fairness, how influential was the system in abolishing slavery? You might be asking the wrong question, or at least hinting towards the wrong reason of why slavery was ended. American Civil War The fight to stop slavery had literally nothing to do with racism or equal rights. It had everything to do with living wage and working conditions for white people. Why make a factory in the north and pay white people when you could make a factory in the south and not-pay black people? It's very comparable to Mexicans and "they took'er jobs!" The north won the war, slavery ended, and white people got to keep their jobs and get paid a (somewhat) reasonable wage. Try not to throw the civil war and slavery into a debate about civil rights. They're not as closely related as you'd like to think. Last edited: X-43D Why should the poor and those who have no money pay taxes? The rich (especially the millionaires and billionaires) should pay the taxes, not the poor and those without money. Otherwise it's simply not fair for the poor. People also have to pay for electricity, running water, food & drink, toilet papers, insurance, taxes etc. Those who do not earn enough money to cover all these costs, remain poor and miserable. Why should the poor and those who have no money pay taxes? The rich (especially the millionaires and billionaires) should pay the taxes, not the poor and those without money. Otherwise it's simply not fair for the poor. People also have to pay for electricity, running water, food & drink, toilet papers, insurance, taxes etc. Those who do not earn enough money to cover all these costs, remain poor and miserable. The poor should have to pay taxes as well as the middle class. I'm not going to argue that the rich shouldn't, of course they should. Ideally there would be a flat tax that is a percentage of your income. If you are poor you pay the same percentage as someone who is rich. That is fair for the poor. To not tax them would be to encourage them to remain in their condition. Which, in this country, is more of a choice than anything else. Most anyone can work their way out of poverty here. You might be asking the wrong question, or at least hinting towards the wrong reason of why slavery was ended. American Civil War The fight to stop slavery had literally nothing to do with racism or equal rights. It had everything to do with living wage and working conditions for white people. Why make a factory in the north and pay white people when you could make a factory in the south and not-pay black people? It's very comparable to Mexicans and "they took'er jobs!" The north won the war, slavery ended, and white people got to keep their jobs and get paid a (somewhat) reasonable wage. Try not to throw the civil war and slavery into a debate about civil rights. They're not as closely related as you'd like to think. That was exactly my point. I was being a bit sarcastic with that whole paragraph. :) But anyway...that's a little bit off topic, so...back to Socialism (kind of): X-43D said: Why should the poor and those who have no money pay taxes? The rich (especially the millionaires and billionaires) should pay the taxes, not the poor and those without money. Otherwise it's simply not fair for the poor. People also have to pay for electricity, running water, food & drink, toilet papers, insurance, taxes etc. Those who do not earn enough money to cover all these costs, remain poor and miserable. I don't see a valid argument for why the poor shouldn't pay taxes in here. Why isn't it "fair" that the poor have to pay taxes? If anything, it seems more fair to demand that the poor pay taxes in addition to the rich, if you demand that the latter group pays taxes (which you do). Otherwise, there's an asymmetry in taxation that, even if it always exists in terms of revenue, will at least disappear in terms of the proportion of income demanded of each group. Then again, I can see how you could argue that the individual burdens suffered by each group differ. Imposing a flat tax rate on a rich person will have relatively little effect on his lifestyle, etc, even though the amount of money he pays is much higher. The poor person paying the same rate loses the same proportion of his income, but this has a significantly higher impact on his quality of life. So...I guess it depends on your definition of "fair." EDIT: And then of course, as drankin argues, there are other considerations. Will taxing the poor impel them to work harder to get out of their situations? Will it just make their situation more hopeless? Will not taxing them have the opposite effects? I don't know...I guess it depends heavily on the individual (person and situation). But either way...something to consider. Last edited by a moderator: Try not to throw the civil war and slavery into a debate about civil rights. They're not as closely related as you'd like to think. Good point Great Britain was able to abolish slavery in 1807, 54 years before the US civil war and without a war. free education for children (a socialist policy) I think people should reread Adam Smith's 'Wealth of Nations', considered the foundation of modern capitalism. In it you will find that he promotes the ideas of free public education. Science Advisor flat tax In order for a flat tax to work, the tax rate would need to be incredibly high. Right now the top tax bracket is something like 40% in the US, correct? And that's for the richest of the rich. Currently, the rich people in the US, I think it's the top 5%, pay something like 50% of the total taxes. If you dropped the tax rates on the rich to accommodate a flat tax, you would need to significantly increase the taxes on poor people. The flat tax might be around 30% or so. Given that I currently pay about 20% of my gross income towards taxes (includes all the different tax levels and tax cuts), 30% would be a major tax hike. Let me give you an idea on how this works: A guy makes 1 million dollars, suppose he pays 30% of his total income towards taxes; that means$300,000 in taxes. To give him a 1% tax break means he now pays 29%, which would be $290,000. The tax revenue just dropped by$10,000.
Now suppose you had to get that money back from 10 poor people who make $20,000 per year. In Canada the first 8k is tax free and the lowest bracket is something like 17%, so (20000-8000)(0.17) = ~$2,000 in taxes per year. That is their tax rate before the flat tax. Now you need to get an extra $1,000 from each of them because$10,000 divided by 10 poor people is $1,000 per poor person. Divide the new tax rate by the old tax rate and multiply by 100. (2000+1000)/(2000) * 100 = 150% more taxes than before I'll repeat that conclusion again. To give a small tax break to the rich, you need to give a huge tax increase to the poor. Thank god we do not have a flat tax. It's always been my personal belief that taxes should be based on how much money you make relative to the official poverty line rather than how much you make relative to zero. For example, rent in a crap part of Saskatchewan is maybe$500/month while rent in Edmonton or Calgary or Vancouver is easily $900/month. Car insurance in Alberta is more than twice as expensive as car insurance in Saskatchewan. Poverty in Edmonton is maybe$25,000 per year while poverty in some Saskatchewan town is more like $20,000. Should the guy in Edmonton pay more taxes even though he has the same living conditions? The only problem is that this is not feasible. It would be way too complicated and filing your taxes would be that much more impossible. Sort of a derail but do cities have much higher poverty rates than rural areas? I would imagine a place like New York City has insanely expensive rent, and you would need to make$10/h just to stay alive, barely. Can anybody confirm/deny?

Last edited: