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Fairness

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Huan Yi
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0 posted 11-20-2011 12:39 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-15808922


"It simply isn't fair that households on out-of-work benefits can receive a greater income from the state than the average working household gets in wages," he said.”

Why work then?  Work for most of us is just that, work.   If you suddenly had
enough money for your needs and wants or six weeks to live you wouldn’t do it.  I wouldn't.

I read in another article that UK employers
now show a preference for immigrant employees, especially those from Eastern Europe.

How is it in the states?
A long time ago I read that a major reason for the
disintegration of marriage in the black community was Federal assistance
programs on average made single parent families more lucrative.   I knew a single welfare
mom twenty years ago who told me any job making less than twenty thousand
dollars a year would be a net loss for her compared to the government
benefits she was already receiving, (she lived in Narragansett in a two bedroom two blocks from the sea).


.
Uncas
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1 posted 11-20-2011 06:50 PM       View Profile for Uncas   Email Uncas   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Uncas


quote:
It simply isn't fair that households on out-of-work benefits can receive a greater income from the state than the average working household gets in wages,


The important word in that statement is 'average'. Whenever I see that word I'm immediately suspicious, I have been ever since I discovered that the average number of legs for a human being is one.

Huan Yi
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2 posted 11-20-2011 07:04 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


So on average, as far as income,
the average household in the UK
is better off in terms of money
working?   If not, compared to
benefits, why work?


.
Uncas
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3 posted 11-20-2011 07:52 PM       View Profile for Uncas   Email Uncas   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Uncas

quote:
So on average, as far as income,
the average household in the UK
is better off in terms of money
working?


Yes, and no.

They're better off working if the job pays somewhere near average wages for the area they live in. If the job pays significantly less than average they'd be no better or worse off and somewhere between significantly less and average they'd actually be worse off.


.
Bob K
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4 posted 11-21-2011 03:19 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


quote:

So on average, as far as income,
the average household in the UK
is better off in terms of money
working?   If not, compared to
benefits, why work?



[Edited - Ron]

     The original quote said that the Top benefits paid out were about equal to the average income of working families.  It did not say that the average benefit paid out was equal to the average income of working families.  

     I am unclear exactly what the article you quote means by "Central London."  Most of the area That I think of as Central London is around what Londoners call "The City."  It's about a square mile in size, and is mostly high-rises, offices and financial stuff.  You'd have to be filthy rich to live there.  If you're talking about areas very far south of the Thames, there are certainly trendy and livable areas but there are also some fairly dangerous and difficult areas of slums as well.  It'd be like living in some fairly dangerous areas of New York, Detroit, Boston or LA, but with variations on English accents.  The standard of living is not particularly high and the jobs are not particularly easy to come by.

     Like most anyplace, people would rather work than not work.  

     A lot of folks with a conservative bent to them put a lot of stock in the notion of laziness and the wish to do nothing.  There are people like that, but for the most part the cause of that sort of thing is depression.  It comes from difficulty in structuring and organizing time, one of the things that work does very well.  It's only one of the reasons that many people have trouble with retirement; with no more work to structure time, people may fall into depressions and develop drinking issues or other fairly major health issues at that point in life.

     On the whole, people would rather be working, doing something meaningful.  It's one of the reasons why one of the first questions people ask each other when they meet is, What do you do?

     Not that anybody asked me, mind you.

     If you want to ask about fairness, I guess the question I'd ask would be, Why the curiosity about the somewhat distorted question that was asked, and the somewhat remarkable lack of curiosity about the comments about the number of children that would be made homeless by the action that was apparently being advocated by the person that the initial Poster was quoting?

     Hmmm?  Saving money by punishing a group of fictional people or throwing thousands of children into homelessness?  What to do?  What to do?

     It must be those rapacious Christian Bishops again, always demanding a little more of that silly charity for the poor in the name of What's his name, That savior fellow?  I can argue for the superiority of Christian virtue in another thread without actually obligating myself to mean what I'm supposed to be saying there by backing up my values here.

     Now I, as Bob K, was not raised in the Christian tradition, but I know that religious charity hasn't on the whole been as successful as our attempts to address some of the issues of poverty and illness and aging through governmental programs here in the US; and that it seems much the same is true in the UK as well.  If we're talking about fairness here, I guess my question is who should be competing with the hungry, the disabled, the ill and the homeless.  Who wants their portion?

     We want their relief, we want no part of their suffering if we can help it, and when we ask questions like the question here we ask, who wants to live without labor, not who wants to live with the issues that got in the way of the ability to labor in the first place.

     In my opinion, the question is — not entirely, and not all the time, but for the most part and much of the time — merely a mask for our own greed.  Do we really want to be a single parent running a large family in a slum with poor educational possibilities and likely gang influences on all sides, little free time and little chance of finding our way free of the situation?  I don't think so.

     People can and do find their way free, yes, but I believe they are to be admired, not disparaged or bad-mouthed or envied.  And if the help we offered was better planned, better targeted, better tested, more generous, there might be more of these people about.  That's what I think.

    

[This message has been edited by Ron (11-21-2011 06:09 PM).]

Uncas
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5 posted 11-21-2011 02:14 PM       View Profile for Uncas   Email Uncas   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Uncas


quote:
The original quote said that the Top benefits paid out were about equal to the average income of working families.


It's probably worse than that Bob.

Having come across similar apple\orange comparisons before I'd bet a pound to a piece of.. salt that the highest benefit recipients are being compared with those earning the national average household income, conveniently  ignoring the regional cost of living disparity.

A benefit claimant in London whose £300 a week rent is paid by the state is still financially worse off than a worker in Leeds who's paying £70 a week rent, even if the total income of both is equal.

Furthermore, when you compare apples with apples it turns out that the claimant in London, supposedly living the high life, on a par with the average household, is actually worse off than an identical claimant living in Leeds. That's because the majority of the benefit payment is generally housing benefit paid straight from the state to the landlord. The claimant in London doesn't actually get £300 a week in his hand, he gets the same amount as the bloke in Leeds and a roof over his head, but because the cost of living in London is higher than in Leeds the money in his hand doesn't go as far. Ergo he's actually worse off.

The unemployment trap I mentioned earlier is worth looking at if anyone's interested, it explains why some claimants are definitely better off not getting certain jobs.

Another interest discussion would be how to reduce the overall cost of state benefit that uses a positive feedback that actually increases employment to boot. History has some good pointers in that regard.  

BTW Huan - good topic, please don't take my dismissal of the hyperbole in the article as a general dismissal of the notion that too much state benefit is paid out  - I agree with the general premise I just think that blaming the claimant is a tad unfair.

Bob K
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6 posted 11-21-2011 07:25 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     Why do you believe, Uncas, that too much state benefit is paid out?

     My understanding, which is certainly highly flawed, I understand, is that large parts of England are essentially owned outright by single people.  London, as I understand it, is for the most part, owned by a single man who rents out parcels of it for long term leases.  Lots of them run for 99 years.  One might buy the right to lease a piece of that land for the remainder of that 99 years, but one may seldom actually buy one's own piece of land there.  When the government pays money to the guy who's running the property, he's essentially paying off either the particular noble who owns that part of London, the leaseholder who's built on that property (if we're talking London) or some combination of the two.  

     The money may look like it's going to the poor, but only a smaller portion of the money is going there.  It's going to pay off the power structure, the hereditary nobility, and the investors who maintain the neighborhoods in the states in which you may observe them for the rents which are a matter of public record.

     On may say that this is what the market will bear.  On the other hand, this particular market seems to be supported by the state at an artificially high level, doesn't it?  What may be described and complained about here as state sponsored welfare for the poor may just as easily be described as state sponsored welfare for the rich at the expense of the poor and the middle class.

     The solutions offered by my friends on the right almost exclusively involve criticisms of the poor and talk of cutting those already strained life-lines they have now.  Seldom if ever is mention made of the money siphoned off for the rich other than in terms of approval and praise.
Bob K
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7 posted 11-21-2011 07:26 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Thanks for taking the time for the edit, Ron.  I appreciate it.
Huan Yi
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8 posted 11-21-2011 07:28 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


If you read my comments you’ll see I don’t blame
the claimants;  they’re making perfectly rational
choices;  life is short,  work is work, the Protestant work ethic
isn’t what it used to be, (more believe chances are death is death),
and if somebody else will foot the bill so you cannot work
and not starve or freeze to death without a
roof over your head as a consequence, go for it ;
I would.

I take it there are jobs because Eastern European
immigrants are getting them.

I’m assuming the UK is not talking about these reforms
because they’re mean spirited  but because first and foremost
as Thatcher would put it they’re running out of other people’s money.
So what can they do given that reality?


.


Grinch
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Thatcher created the problem but I'll come back to that later.

Are there jobs?

Yes, there are some but not nearly enough and the jobs that do exist are at the lower end of the pay scale. Many of the jobs were taken by migrant workers from eastern Europe but even that trend is on the wane as the job opportunities dwindle, the eastern European influx has turned into a mini exodus.  Why did the jobs that were available go to migrant workers? The answer to that is also related to the cost of living, in this case though it's the cost of living in Poland and Lithuania rather than London or Leeds.

I'm short of time right now. But I'll try to get back tomorrow to expand on that and to explain how the unemployment trap catches UK residents but doesn't affect migrant workers.

Bob,

Why do I believe that too much state benefit is paid out?

Because too much state benefit is being paid out -  I should emphasise though that it's not because the claimants are getting too much. When I get back I'll expand on that and explain what went wrong with a system that once worked quite well until profit and Thatcherism threw a spanner in the works.


Time for bed over here.

Bob K
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10 posted 11-22-2011 02:07 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


    
Dear Grinch,

         While in fact too much dough may be going out, I don't know that.  The profit motive may well have something to do with the matter, though whether it works as I thought it did when I sketched out some of what I thought the basics might be, I don't know.  I'd be interested in your take on that.  

     I do look forward to what the more fully refreshed Grinch will do with His narrative.  He is invariably more fully informed and articulate than I am and a pleasure to learn from.  

     All my best.
Bob K
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11 posted 11-22-2011 03:05 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     John, I must take you at your word about what you would or wouldn't do with six weeks left to live.

     I would suggest to you, however, that having six weeks left to live, or six months or even six years is a powerful structuring factor.  I was commenting above on the needs of people to structure time and their tendency to disintegrate without the means to to do so.  This is something that is a fairly frequent consequence of long term job loss.  People, even fairly well put together people, will frequently fall apart when they loose their jobs, and your comments about people working or not working don't take this into account.

     Jobs are support systems, not simply ways of earning money and staying off the dole.  When one tries to treat people with psychological problems, there are frequently work problems that go along side the psychological problems.  People who function very well at a high level and make a lot of money can loose jobs too.  I've treated such people, and they will sometimes have significant problems with depression and thoughts of suicide, just as their less successful brothers and sisters may have as well.

     People frequently have significant problems with retirement, even people who have saved enough money to retire comfortably.  One of the major causes of this difficulty is that they have depended on work as a way of structuring their time and of helping to structure meaning in their lives as well.

     Not everybody structures their lives around money in the way that this and many other cultures tend to do.  Some earlier cultures structured  their lives around the study of lore of one sort or another, warrior lore or farm lore or religious or family lore helped people organize their lives in complete and satisfying ways before business assumed such a central place in many cultures.    Vestiges of these systems remain.  We still honor soldiers, priests, mothers, professors, doctors, researchers, judges, lawyers and police, though not all of them make much money.  They all, however, have their time structured very fully by their jobs and roles in life.

     We are ambivalent about some of these, not so ambivalent about others.  But they are all jobs with significant time structuring elements to them.

     When the time structuring elements are low, people begin to have crises in their lives.

     The Republican and the Conservative point of view is that people seek out ways of avoiding this sort of structure.  I would like to have this explained to me.  I don't believe it.  People who have avoided this sort of structure have other, more severe forms of structure imposed on them, and are frequently stigmatized in addition.

     If anybody has any sort of interest in some of the sociology of this sort of thing, there are two fascinating books by Erving Goffman that are worth looking at, among other reasons because they don't try to explain human behavior psychologically but in terms of social pressures.  They're also pretty approachable.  The first book is called Stigma and the second is called Facework and they both deal with how shame affects the way people behave with each other individually and in groups.  

     If you want to think about Fairness, then the notion of shame and how people try to avoid it seems to me to be something that is of central importance.  How each of us deals with our own and how each of us deals with the shame of other people, calling attention to it or helping others conceal it, forming alliances around the necessities in coping with it, trying to own it and all the various things that people do with it, fair an unfair.

     Or — as I find myself saying more frequently these days — not; whatever floats the collective boats of those of us who choose to discuss the various pieces of life that fascinate us here.
Grinch
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12 posted 11-22-2011 01:21 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

quote:
I do look forward to what the more fully refreshed Grinch will do with His narrative.


Well that tired dimwit Uncas wasn't doing very well - he even forgot to mention that he was changing his screen name for Christmas so that the last of the Mohicans could have a rest for a while.



Back later.

[This message has been edited by Grinch (11-22-2011 07:54 PM).]

Grinch
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13 posted 11-22-2011 07:50 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

quote:
While in fact too much dough may be going out, I don't know that.


2011 is projected to be the first time in a decade that welfare payments exceed the revenue raised through income tax.

That's a slightly misleading statistic which, on its own, isn't that useful but the historic difference between the two, and the historic trend, is a clear indication that welfare payments are rising at an alarming rate.

As I said earlier though it isn't that we're paying claimants too much - welfare payments in the UK are set at what is termed sustenance levels, enough to sustain the claimant above the poverty line nothing more nothing less. That hasn't changed since the welfare state was first introduced and yet the cost of welfare has grown exponentially. The obvious question is why has the cost of welfare risen so sharply over the last 30 years. You could point to the increased rate of unemployment but unemployment has been a lot higher in the last 30 years than it is now, besides the number of unemployed claimants has been fairly stable over that period.

If welfare payments are rising, which they are, but direct payments to claimants aren't then the increase has to be in indirect payments. By indirect payments, I mean welfare payments that aren't paid directly to claimants, and the largest of those by a clear country mile is housing benefit.

Welfare costs have risen because the cost of housing benefit has risen, the people who are against the welfare system suggest the way to bring the cost down is to reduce the amount of benefit that's paid directlyto the unemployed.  In a perverse upside-down version of logic though the only benefit that they don't want to reduce is housing benefit. There is, of course, a very good reason for that - housing benefit isn't paid to the unemployed -  it's paid to landlords and taking money off the rich is an anathema to some folk, especially so if those folk happen to be rich themselves.

It wasn't always like that, before Thatcherism  and the wholesale evisceration of council owned housing came along the system had a self regulating mechanism to ensure housing benefit costs didn't spiral out of control.

quote:
The profit motive may well have something to do with the matter


Abso-bleeding-lutely.

Huan Yi
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14 posted 11-23-2011 08:30 AM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


http://www.nationalreview.com/exchequer/283865/newts-right-put-kids-work


I don’t care for Newt.   I put the link here because the author writes
about realities some just don’t feel comfortable with.

“One of the most dangerous and destructive tendencies in American public life is the upper class’s habit of generalizing its own desires, tastes, approaches, and interests onto the body politic at large. . .

There is a relatively small minority of high-IQ Americans who form what Charles Murray famously called the “cognitive elite.” There is a larger group, but still a relatively small one, of very driven people who are attracted to a particular occupation early in life — those people who always knew that they were going to become doctors, truck drivers, teachers, boxers, newspapermen, farmers, automobile mechanics, what have you, and take the necessary steps to do so early in life. But there is a relatively large group of young people who are of average or below-average IQ, have no particular skills, and no clear path set for them early in life. Early work experiences are critical for people in this group, both because they instill necessary habits and provide necessary experience, and because having a variety of early work experiences provides a richer range of options. The more work experiences one has early in life, the more likely one is to encounter an occupation that matches one’s talents and interests.”


Grinch, the solution: rent control?
If yes, would landlords just bite the bullet?


.
Grinch
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15 posted 11-23-2011 01:11 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

quote:
Grinch, the solution: rent control?


Unfortunately, In the UK at least, rent control isn't an option. Rental values are set by market forces and the cultural tendency towards home ownership almost guarantees that demand for rented accommodation is higher than the available supply.

One answer would be to go back to the council owned housing system, that system, unencumbered by the urge for ever increasing profits, kept rental values and housing benefit costs in check.

.
Huan Yi
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16 posted 11-23-2011 01:21 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


I think that brought the "Ghetto"
criticism here which led to a lot
of government housing being torn down.


.
Grinch
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17 posted 11-23-2011 01:41 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


I'd need to research the history of US housing to comment on that specifically Huan but my guess would be that it's a similar story to what happened in the UK. In the UK 'council estate' holds the same negative resonance for many that I think 'ghetto' does in the US.

Over here mismanagement and chronic underfunding of social housing created our versions of the American Ghetto - ironically the reluctance to spend money back then means that we're paying through the nose now to maintain a flawed housing benefit system.


.
Huan Yi
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18 posted 11-23-2011 01:49 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


http://www.dailymail.co  .uk/news/article-1040709/Apartheid-UK-How-controversial-law-integrate-social-housing-new-developments-creating-mini-ghettos.html


Doesn't look like it will go away.
But there's a basic question; how far
is the obligation to make all things
even near equal especially when it means going
broke as a nation?


.

Grinch
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19 posted 11-23-2011 03:00 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


quote:
Doesn't look like it will go away.


Thinking that you can make the ghetto's 'go away' is part of the mismanagement I mentioned earlier. You can take the people out of the ghetto but you can't take the ghetto out of some people.

Segregation isn't always a dirty word.

.
Huan Yi
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20 posted 11-23-2011 05:38 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


"Segregation isn't always a dirty word."


Are you coming over to the
Dark Side?


.
Grinch
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21 posted 11-23-2011 06:35 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


quote:
Are you coming over to the Dark Side?

I'm pretty sure my opinion hasn't shifted either way.

I was raised on a council estate, most folk who lived there were a little rough around the edges but generally good people - others were not so good. On the estate where I lived the really bad ones either changed to fit in or ended up on another estate with people of a similar disposition - whether they liked it or not.

Oddly more changed to fit in than didn't, if I were to hazard a guess I'd say that even one rung up the social ladder was worth the effort. Most folk, after all, have aspirations - the rest deserve the company of like-minded people.

I'm all for people making their own choices.

Huan Yi
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22 posted 11-24-2011 03:07 AM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


“'I'm also of the understanding that many people there drive new cars.

'While people are struggling to pay mortgages and making do with ten-year-old hatchbacks, others are getting subsidised/free housing and blowing any cash on tattoos, fags, even more extra-large clothing and flash cars.' “


http://www.dailymail.co .uk/news/article-1040709/Apartheid-UK-How-controversial-law-integrate-social-housing-new-developments-creating-mini-ghettos.html


Victor Davis Hanson in a National Review article also remarked about going to two supermarkets fifty miles apart and while he was the only one in the check out line that did not pay for his groceries with a social services card he noticed
the parking lots were filled with late model cars indistinguishable from those
driven by the middle class.   So the question again is how far should the
state go to afford near equal results to assistance recipients?  Will Rogers
once remarked that the United States was the only country where a man
could drive to the poor house;  apparently now he can do it in a better car than I have.


.
rwood
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23 posted 11-24-2011 07:35 AM       View Profile for rwood   Email rwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for rwood

About the new vehicles: Germany has vehicle inspection, every two years, with hard-hitting fines for something many Americans putter around on quite regularly--Bald Tires. LOL. There's really no such thing there as "a beater," and the licensing! Whoa Nelly-- $2000+

On those terms, I wouldn't want to do a comparative of vehicular wealth...Unless we can collectively decide which state would be assessed as the National Scrap Yard for all our vehicles that would NOT pass strict safety inspection.

With the high dollar licensing many would be up-creek without a paddle here, because the last time I looked down the road? There ain't no trolley, bus, metro or passenger train out in these sticks. It's a long haul to town...uphill...both ways


On work vs welfare: A coral reef comes to mind. What a wondrous foundation with a very sensitive balance. Experts have documented how that ecosystem flourishes or crumbles away to sand. We give a nod to those experts: Because macrocosmically we will always reign supreme over such a micro-model of life...with our dollars and sense.

But I don't think fairness is anywhere in the reef's structure of exchange (in terms of survival) and that's supposed to separate us from the microcosms. Invalid model?

What is a valid model? It appears that all implemented economic systems and structures have been proven unsound for ages, so I don't know what would be the answer but I choose work. Yes, I chose/choose work because I didn't care about how much I would lose from a government check if I got a job. It always meant more to me to be able to tell the gov how much I get to make instead of it being the other way around.
Huan Yi
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24 posted 11-24-2011 10:42 AM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


I on the other hand, if I had known I wouldn’t starve or be thrown
out of my apartment and could afford basic health insurance
would have found my last extended period of unemployment one
of the more favorably memorable periods of my life on shore.
My mind is set on retirement benefits as soon as I’m confident
of my other finances.  I would much rather now read good books
and write bad poems than crunch numbers after thirty something
years at it.  My work ethic is driven by a need to feed myself which from
childhood impressions of my immigrant parents is wholly dependent
on my own resources.   If I had grown up in a world where that and
a minor level of toys were assured by wealth or a government check
being direct deposited every month or week I think my attitude would
have been very different.


.

 
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