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The Sixty-Four-Thousand Dollar Question

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Ron
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25 posted 08-21-2004 12:21 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

If the two family members repeatedly refused to help provide the food, refused to prepare the food, and refused to clean up their mess after eating, I would feel absolutely no guilt over letting them watch me eat. We do no one any good by making their self-destruction more comfortable for them.

As was said previously, Brad, the moral shades depend on the circumstances, which are what you are trying to manipulate. What if the two family members didn't contribute because they had spent all their time and money on drugs or alcohol? Are you obligated to feed them so they can continue abusing? What if there are not two family members going hungry, but two thousand? Must you feed them all before sating your own hungers? Circumstances can be manipulated in many different ways.

I think we owe all of our fellow human beings an honest and fair opportunity to provide for themselves. Helping someone get off the ground can be a good thing. Giving someone a pillow so they can be more comfortable only encourages them to stay on the ground and just wastes a perfectly good pillow.
serenity blaze
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26 posted 08-21-2004 11:04 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

The family analogy is driving me nuts. Prolly 'cause it's one that I understand and have some personal issues about, but here goes:

Who decides the cash value of the contribution of each role of each member of the family?

(I'll try not to jump ahead and go off a personal tangent this time. )

Um.

(I'll TRY. But honestly, if you're going to use a family analogy, I think I'm living example of a capitalist society turned tyranny.)

er...did I almost succeed in NOT doing that?

Stephanos
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27 posted 08-22-2004 12:06 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

LR,

I've been reading "The Closing of the American Mind" by Alan Bloom.  Ever read it?  A lot of what you're saying about modern capitalism rings in unison with him.  And a lot of what you say with I agree with BTW.


Stephen.
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28 posted 08-22-2004 12:15 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Serenity,

You've got a point.  Love doesn't seem to always keep exacting records or really jive with viewing family members as associates, or insist on keeping productivity charts on those who live with us.

But Ron's certainly got a point too ... there's a balance somewhere between indiscriminate enabling help, and loving only those who pull their weight.  


Stephen.
Brad
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29 posted 08-22-2004 12:23 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Well, last time I checked, we generally don't starve prison inmates.


While I don't deny a certain play for sympathy in my examples, the point was really to show that we tend to consider it a moral good to feed those who cannot reciprocate.

The argument against seems to be we shouldn't share food with those who won't reciprocate.

But isn't a moral action one that doesn't take into account the benefit that one receives from taking it. (I know, I know, this is the kicker).

And we're not talking about sacrifice here, we're talking about surplus. I agree that one shouldn't feel guilty for enjoying good food anymore than one should feel guilty for enjoying a good movie or a good book.

But we have two slippery slopes here:

On the one hand, you have the Randian dilemma: a person's needs are relative to society around them so that it keeps growing.

Give them an inch and they'll take a mile so to speak.

On the other hand, you have the "Keeping ahead of the Joneses" dilemma: This isn't just about prestige, though no doubt that's a part of it, it's also about real economic benefit -- the best schools, the best clothing, getting to know the powers that be, all of which serves, however tangible or intangible, the competition inherent in any system.

So we have all these things to worry about, but in the end, what's the right thing to do?

Midnitesun
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30 posted 08-22-2004 01:04 AM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun


To someone is truly starving, political and philosophical discussions are pointless. Sometimes, I get the feeling that none of you has ever really known the fear and terror..nothing to eat, no way to get at what is in front of others, except perhaps, by stealing.
serenity blaze
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31 posted 08-22-2004 05:33 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

To a starving person, almost everything but food is pointless, Kacy.

And no, I don't know what's like to starve. When I found myself in a bad situation in life, I was malnourished during pregnancy but there were government programs that helped me out. I have to think that somebody had to sit down and discuss economics and welfare programs objectively and intellectually in order for those programs to be actualized.

I admire your spirit, as I always have, but I'm having trouble feeling proper admonishment.

I don't feel any shame from having never gone truly hungry. Actually, I'm grateful and yep, there's some pride that I live in a society compassionate enough to foresee my misfortune.
Local Rebel
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32 posted 08-22-2004 06:48 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Kacey,

If a person has never ridden a bicycle then they don't know how to ride one -- that's a given.  But I don't think it's entirely incumbent on persons to fully grasp the desperation of starving to death by having done it.  It's also no guarantee of attaining a humane or just outlook to have experienced it.  A person who has been through dire straits may in fact be more brutal and less sympathetic and entirely selfish in some cases.

There is little dispute though that persons who have the time, energy, and interest to participate in a philosophical discussion aren't currently facing starvation.       

Most of us enjoy a bed, a shower, a meal, and an ISP.  
________________________
Okay, let me back up and catch a few points we've left behind;

quote:

Economics and morality need to be separated for the same reasons I believe politics and morality need to be separated. Economics and politics are social issues, both of which must be made to work in a diverse moral landscape. It's a macro versus micro set of issues, because morality is personal, not social. If we are to live together, it won't be by homogenizing our individual morality, but rather by effectively ignoring the differences within our social institutions.
-- Ron

On the morals v. ethics issue, I think drawing too sharp a distinction between them leads to unnecessary confusion. Morality is discriptive of behavior as measured against a certain standard. Ethics are the codification of those standards. The concepts are more related than they are at odds.

I'm glad you brough up Rawl's Economic Theory of Justice. Can't help but to see how it has been applied as a matter of policy (ADA, IDEA, The Rehabilitation Act, Medicaid, etc., etc., etc.). In my opinion, Rawls brought much intellectual credibility to emotionally charged issues driving the civil rights movement.

--Jim




I'm sure Jim that your last statement is quite correct.  Very few persons have had the influence that Rawls has had on political thought over the last 40 years.  He is certainly cited regularly in court decisions.  And for those who haven't looked him up, or gotten familiar -- here's an outline of a review -- prolly as close to a Jr. Reader as we can get Blazey  
http://oak.cats.ohiou.edu/~piccard/entropy/rawls.html

I've only been marginally aware of him and thought a couple of years ago with his passing that it was unfortunate that I never studied him or went out of my way to take in a lecture somewhere -- but, his work will reasonably be influential for generations to come.

If we want to sum up the main premise of Rawls we could do it by saying the measure of a culture is not how it's leading members are doing, but by how it treats the bottommost.  This is counterintuitive to the utilitarian culture that spawned Smith -- ie -- the good of the many outweighs the good of the few.

What is good though?  

From the text:
quote:

A person's good is that which is needed for the successful execution of a rational long-term plan of life given reasonably favorable circumstances.
Liberty
Opportunity
Income
Wealth
Self-respect

"The good is the satisfaction of rational desire." (Section 15)
Each person has his or her own plan of life - what is good may vary. Right is set down in the social contract, the same for everyone, influenced by the "veil of ignorance." Rawls specializes the concept of something's being right as it being fair. (Section 18)



And Rawl's Veil of Ignorance goes directly to Ron's point;

quote:

Rawls supposes that a (virtual) committee of rational but not envious persons will exhibit mutual disinterest in a situation of moderate scarcity as they consider the concept of right:
1. general in form
2. universal in application
3. publicly recognized
4. final authority
5. prioritizes conflicting claims
Rawls claims that rational people will unanimously adopt his principles of justice if their reasoning is based on general considerations, without knowing anything about their own personal situation. Such personal knowledge might tempt them to select principles of justice that gave them unfair advantage - rigging the rules of the game. This procedure of reasoning without personal biases Rawls refers to as "The Veil of Ignorance."




Martha Nussbaum exposits;

quote:

...some of the very real faults in classical 18th-and 19th-century Utilitarianism -- its failure to give a sufficiently central place to ideas of justice and rights, its tendency to treat people as means to the end of general social well-being -- came to deform our public justification of our actions (making us comfortable, for instance, with discussing the killing of human beings in crude terms of aggregate costs and benefits). In 1971, when Rawls published A Theory of Justice, it was about time for someone to revive the tradition of setting political thinking on a foundation of moral argument, and in a way that criticized the influential, and deeply flawed, Utilitarian norms.



What is this morality Rawl's points to?

quote:

John Rawls develops a conception of justice from the perspective that persons are free and equal. Their freedom consists in their possession of the two moral powers, "a capacity for a sense of justice and for a conception of the good." (PL,19) Insofar as they have these to the degree necessary to be "fully cooperating members of society," they are equal.
A sense of justice is "the capacity to understand, to apply, and to act from the public conception of justice which characterizes the fair terms of cooperation." This sense expresses "a willingness...to act in relation to others on terms that they also can publicly endorse" (ibid.).
A conception of the good includes "a conception of what is valuable in human life." Normally it consists "of a more or less determinate scheme of final ends, that is, ends [goals] that we want to realize for their own sake, as well as attachments to other persons and loyalties to various groups and associations." (PL 19) Rawls says that we also "connect such a conception with a view of our relation to the world...by reference to which the value and significance of our ends and attachments are understood" (PL 19-20)
An important concept for Rawls is the concept of a comprehensive doctrine or view. These include moral philosophies like utilitarianism and philosophical systems such as Kantianism, Platonism and Stoicism. They also include religious doctrines such as Augustinianism, Thomism, orthodox Judaism, etc. "Utilitarianism...: the principle of utility . . . is usually said to hold for all kinds of subjects ranging from the conduct of individuals to the organization of society as a whole as well as to the law of peoples." (PL 13)

...
Thus, a political conception may address whether we are to respect freedom of speech and assembly for other comprehensive doctrines than our own, but it will not address the question of precisely how we should conduct ourselves so as to secure our happiness or eternal salvation. A political conception conceives of persons as having the two moral powers mentioned above, as being responsible for their actions, etc., but does not address whether persons are immortal souls or immaterial substances as, say, Plato and most medieval Christian theologians held.



He references the thought of John Locke "Free people need to agree on some ground rules in order to live together in harmony."  and that from our diverse moral field we develop an overlapping concensus.

More source material;
http://www.wku.edu/~jan.garrett/ethics/matrawls.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Original_position
http://chronicle.com/free/v47/i45/45b00701.htm
Local Rebel
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33 posted 08-22-2004 07:16 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Re: Brad's hypothetical household...

There seems to be a jump in opinion to always assume that people who are starving aren't working -- while in fact we probably have the largest problem amongst the working poor.  They don't get the foodstamps, WIC, or AFDC.  Latest stats for California show that only 45% of the people who need foodstamps actually make it into the program.

Foodbanks and other private charities are turning people away.

What of Seniors living on Social Security who spend most of the money they get on medicine -- they can't qualify for other assistance because they're getting too much from SS.

It matters most that people ARE hungry.

Let's evaluate some phrases;

You don't work you don't eat.

You don't work you don't DRINK.

You don't work you don't BREATHE.

While marveling that people can fill up gallon jugs from a garden hose and sell it as bottled water we've all probably made references to the fact that the only reason someone hasn't bottled air and tried to sell it is because they haven't figured out how to do it.

Where comes the notion that work is a prerequisite for food, shelter, medicine...?  And to Blazey's point -- why should a few people with the most money get to decide what they're willing to pay for said work, and charge for said goods?

What if no one in Brad's house works?  What if the two who are eating inherited their wealth?
Local Rebel
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34 posted 08-22-2004 07:23 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Stephan,

No, I haven't read Bloom's work but I am familiar with some of it.  I'm not entirely sure how it correlates to the discussion since I'm only familiar that it's a critique of higher education and mostly of the sixties.  I'm still amazed that conservatives can't seem to get over the sixties -- it's what I see complained about most on Fox News, and by talk show people like Limbaugh or Savage.

I don't find it surprising, however, that we're in agreement on some points.  We probably overlap on more points than we disagree.  It's just that agreement doesn't make for very interesting conversation (or learning)

What from Bloom do you think is specifically applicable?
Local Rebel
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35 posted 08-22-2004 07:31 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Iliana,

Perhaps you should browse this thread on Equal Outcomes vs. Equal Opportunities;
http://piptalk.com/pip/Forum8/HTML/000447.html

It may be more specifically geared to some of your thoughts --
serenity blaze
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36 posted 08-22-2004 07:52 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Who was that masked man?



Damn he's good, yes?



(gawd I love ya Reb, and this place? is home...)

thank you...

I'll be ploddin' on, thanks to you all. yay!

Ron
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37 posted 08-23-2004 04:07 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
The rich get richer, the poor get poorer. It isn't artificial barriers that cause this to happen -- it is the absolute design and function of capitalism. A lesson we all learned around the Parker Brother's Monopoly board.

Reb, I don't dispute that Smith's pure laissez-faire capitalism leads to inevitable excesses in the long term. Those excesses, however, are the exception rather than the rule, and the government intervention required to abate those excesses should be equally rare. If the rich always get richer, someone apparently forgot to tell that to the Big Three car makers who have watched their world domination wither and die in the past forty years. If the poor always get poorer, someone forgot to tell that to the post-War Japanese who decided they could manufacture and market cars better. So what does our government do when Chrysler gets its tail caught in the door? And they dare cite the need for competition as their reasoning?

Aside from a closed system (like we have in Parker Bros. or government regulated utilities), it's questionable whether such a thing as a monopoly is even possible. Certainly, it is unlikely. As long as consumers have the freedom to make choices, there will always be competition. Government's role in protecting Smith's economic system should be limited to enforcing fair business practices. Just because Microsoft has a ton of money in the bank, they shouldn't be allowed to sell below cost and run those without a ton of money out of business. Capitalism needs a little help from the government. VERY little.

quote:
Even now, by design, with our engineered monetary policy -- the Fed recognizes that 'full-employment' is a bad thing -- because it's inflationary. Even the 4% unemployment figures they thought was a good number in the Sixties was too low. They now know that if you don't have at least about 5% of the people out of work and facing trauma -- the Economy heats up -- and value is lost. (Now, this could qualify as one of those artificial barriers you refer to -- but it serves the greater good of keeping inflation in check -- right?)

Okay, but what is the *real* correlation between unemployment and inflation? In theory, when unemployment is low, people can hold out for better compensation because the supply of labor is less than the demand. Wages tend to rise, which pushes up the cost of just about everything. Ergo, the rate of inflation increases. The relationship was first described by A. W. Phillips, based on data collected over nearly a hundred years, and came to be known as the Phillips Curve.

Trouble is, the Seventies came along and the Phillips Curve began to break down as the economy suffered from a long bout of both unemployment and inflation rising together (stagflation). That shouldn't be possible according to Phillips. Along came Milton Friedman with a variation on the Phillips Curve, at first called the expectations-augmented Phillips Curve, but later (thankfully) called the Friedman curve. Friedman argued that there were a series of different Phillips Curves for each level of expected inflation. If people expected inflation to occur then they would anticipate and expect a correspondingly higher wage rise. In short, by anticipating inflation, we caused inflation. Proof, once again, that human behavior and mathematics are still poor bedfellows.

Are you suggesting, Reb, that capitalism is immoral because it demands hardship for some to insure prosperity for the many? Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that people are immoral, because they always want more than they have and too often more than they deserve. Low unemployment simply gives them the leverage to have their demands better met.

quote:
The other effect of the concentration of wealth is that it crushes one of the other promises of Smith -- that competition benefits society in it's assurance of better products and services. The reason I chose Mac and Beta as examples is because it is a clear example of that failure. The better products were there -- but, as marketing gurus Ries and Trout point out in all their books -- the guy with the most money always wins. Gates had the power and leverage of IBM -- it was IBM's ignorance and arrogance that allowed him to slip away with the dough.

You're assuming, Reb, that your interpretation of "better products and services" is necessarily the correct one. I used to have a lot of clients tell me they wanted us to write an application for them quickly, cheaply, and reliably. I always responded that they could have any two of the three they wanted. People don't buy technology, they buy "the whole product" (a marketing term coined by Geoffrey Moore, in his 1991 book, 'Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers'), of which technology plays only a part.

Betamax and Macintosh may have been technically superior products, but that clearly wasn't what the market wanted. What would have happened if Apple had opened the Mac architecture and allowed cheap clones to run their software? What would have happened if Sony had NOT decided to make smaller, neater tapes that lasted for only one hour of recording?

Reb, if anything, I think the Sony Betamax story is one of why competition always results in the greatest benefits to society and proves the myth of monopoly dangers. Betamax was the first successful video format and for a time had close to 100 percent of the market. It had a de facto monopoly because of tape incompatibilities. Yet it lost its edge to the competition because, at the time, it didn't do what consumers really wanted. It couldn't record a whole movie unattended. VHS manufactures used basically the same technology with a bulkier tape that lasted two hours. Consumers were willing to sacrifice a little better quality to get something that let them do what they wanted. And they did so in droves!

quote:
It was capitalism working. Labor and markets shift to the low cost producers. But was it moral to take the jobs away from people who had been doing them here? People who had good work ethics, who were fulfilling their obligation to the company? Just because there was a cheaper wage across the border? Did the company not owe anything at all to the people who were making it successful? Was the weekly wage the extent of the moral obligation?

Reverse that situation for a minute, Reb. Say you've been purchasing gasoline from the same station for the past three years. Suddenly, you find another station, maybe a few miles farther from the house, that is selling the same gas for substantially less. Are you morally obligated to continue buying from the same old place just because they once fulfilled your needs?

The problems you cite, I think, are problems not with capitalism, but rather with nationalism. Tear down all the artificial barriers, and time and capitalism will redistribute the wealth more fairly. Your workers in the maquiladora plants will make substantially more money than in the past, and the displaced workers North of them will eventually make less. The goods produced will also cost less to buy because, in the absence of price fixing, competition will inevitably force prices to reflect the cheaper labor. Most of the problems in our world aren't caused by the limitations of capitalism. They're caused by the limitations ON capitalism. We no longer have the luxury of a national economy, but have to start thinking in terms of a global economy.

quote:
The family analogy is driving me nuts. Prolly 'cause it's one that I understand and have some personal issues about, but here goes:

Who decides the cash value of the contribution of each role of each member of the family?

Each of us, I think, has to make that determination for ourselves, Karen. But there's certainly nothing new with that. Whether you're talking cash value or emotional value, every relationship is evaluated (and constantly reevaluated) according to personal standards.

Some people, over the years, have suggested that I'm advocating that people should be more selfish when I advise they should insist on equal value for all concerned. I believe, on the other hand, that I'm asking them to be LESS selfish. I think most of us tolerate poor behavior from others not because we think it will be best for those we love, but because it's easier for ourselves than facing the guilt or the insecurity or the uncertainty of rocking the boat. When we let someone continue to be abusive or lazy or irresponsible, we're not doing them any favors. We're doing ourselves the favor, usually, because we're unwilling to feel "bad."

Tough love is, well, tough. But it's still love, and just maybe it's the deepest and most unselfish of all loves.

quote:
But isn't a moral action one that doesn't take into account the benefit that one receives from taking it. (I know, I know, this is the kicker).

See my answer to Karen above, Brad. Forcing people to take responsibility for themselves, at least insofar as they are able, usually isn't easy for most of us and usually isn't done for our own benefit.

The paradox you're building, however, is that making charity a moral issue precludes it being a legal one. If you legislate the feeding of the poor, either through law or social pressure, it can no longer be done for the "right" reasons you've cited above. By your own reasoning, forced morality is no longer morality.

quote:
Sometimes, I get the feeling that none of you has ever really known the fear and terror..nothing to eat, no way to get at what is in front of others, except perhaps, by stealing.

I've not only been there, Kacy, but I've been there two separate times in my life. And, yea, it's damn frightening when crackers and raw hot dogs seem like a delicacy. I took risks, the dice came up craps, and I paid heavily for some bad decisions. For a long time, I thought I had lost nearly three years of my life to my own foolishness, but in retrospect, the price I paid inevitably became a part of who I would become. I'm not sure I would have learned the same lessons from those experiences had someone else paid the consequences for me. Hunger hurts, fear hurts even more, but if we can just survive, they make damn good teachers.

quote:
And Rawl's Veil of Ignorance goes directly to Ron's point;

I've invoked the Veil of Ignorance many times in many threads, although I prefer to do so in a way I've always felt was much more persuasive. For example, in a recent thread I insisted that religious freedom was important because, even though I might enjoy majority support today, my children might one day find themselves in the minority. It is difficult, I think, to "hide" my own station behind Rawl's Veil when deciding what is right, but it is equally difficult to "know" the station those I love will one day occupy.

And, yes, it goes directly to my points here and elsewhere, because I think each of us should assume our children will face the worst possible situations and do what we can today to protect them no matter where they find themselves in that society.

quote:
There seems to be a jump in opinion to always assume that people who are starving aren't working -- while in fact we probably have the largest problem amongst the working poor.  They don't get the foodstamps, WIC, or AFDC.  Latest stats for California show that only 45% of the people who need foodstamps actually make it into the program.

Reb, I agree we can't assume that the hungry or homeless are simply lazy. Indeed, in my opinion, most are the victims of poor decisions rather than a reluctance to work. They have more kids than they can feed, they think a TV is more important than an education, and too many honestly believe the weekends were invented to get drunk or high. Social welfare, however, at least in its current incarnation, simply reinforces and perpetuates those bad decisions, not just in the present generation but throughout succeeding generations. We've built a structure wherein those 55 percent of people who need food stamps and can't get them don't even consider the role their own decisions have played in their lives. Instead, they blame the government for not giving them that to which they feel they are entitled.

True story: L is disabled and lives on $650 a month Social Security, supplemented by about $50 in food stamps. When his television set blew up last year, he couldn't come up with enough money to buy a new one, but he could swing fifty bucks to rent one. One year and six hundred dollars later, he owned a 19 inch set anyone could buy at Wal-Mart for about $150.

I don't know what the right answer is, but I'm convinced that simply giving people money and food is the wrong one. I don't believe we can make people's decisions for them. Yet, if we are to give them the freedom to make their own decisions, we must also let them face the consequences of those decisions. That, coupled with more affirmative guidance, is the first step to education.

quote:
What of Seniors living on Social Security who spend most of the money they get on medicine -- they can't qualify for other assistance because they're getting too much from SS.

The real question is in the first seven words, Reb. What of Seniors living on Social Security?

Social Security was designed to be a supplement to retirement, not a replacement for planning. Unfortunately, it seems to have conditioned an entire generation into thinking they no longer have to plan for their own future. Worse, I think it has conditioned another generation into abrogating their responsibility to their parents and grandparents. The extended family has pretty much gone the way of tyrannous rex, and society is the poorer for its demise.

Seniors living on SS have a whole lifetime of the same mistake made by L when he thought only in the short term about this month's need for television. As long as society continues to PAY people for making such mistakes, they'll continue to make the same or similar mistakes.

Again, I don't know the right answer. I'm just convinced we haven't found it yet and should keep looking. If Brad is right and morality depends on ignoring the benefits received, we should stop taking the easy ways out that simply makes us all feel good about ourselves without really solving any of the problems. Love thy neighbor is damn good advice, but tough love has to remain part of the recipe, too. Mistakes only serve a purpose when we allow people to learn from them and grow beyond them.
Stephanos
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38 posted 08-23-2004 09:35 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

LR:
quote:
I'm not entirely sure how it correlates to the discussion since I'm only familiar that it's a critique of higher education and mostly of the sixties.  I'm still amazed that conservatives can't seem to get over the sixties -- it's what I see complained about most on Fox News, and by talk show people like Limbaugh or Savage.

Actually if you read Bloom, you would see that he goes back further than the 60's, (which he considers unfortunate in many ways, but only a ripple in pop-culture compared with some of the more radical breaks from traditional views that presented during the Enlightenment) in order to trace his claims.  And while TCOTAM is a critique of higher education, it touches everything that education touches in lecture, including the perceptions and newer interpretations of the American Political system.  So it is a critique of politics as much as education.  Because, as I feel Bloom himself would believe, education in a modern captialist society is only a means to foster those modern capitalist ideals.


But where it applies to this topic, is your question of "Is it moral"?  He tends to scrutinize that same rugged individualism you mention, by looking at the results of rigorously encouraging it in our political/ ethical philosophies.  Individual rights, taken to the extreme and made into the "end-all-be-all", has resulted in a mockery of those very rights.


Stephen.    
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39 posted 08-23-2004 10:52 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Uncle Virgil had a general store.  You could buy just about anything you wanted there, from a new refrigerator or television set, to your Sunday groceries, a pair of boots, a hack saw, a 5/16-18 nut, a tank of gas, or just a baloney and cheese sandwich.   The local farmers and tradesmen would come in from all around the county and chew the fat around the television set that was parked right by the front door.  We'd sit on milk crates, or even chairs, and eat crackers and drink co-colas. (Please note-- that means pop.  Co-cola or coke could equally mean a Nehi Grape, a Dr. Pepper, or a Seven-Up, even Mountain Dew -- all Coke).  On Friday's he cashed payroll checks.  On in-between days if you needed to cash a personal check that was ok too.  (And if you needed him to hold it until payroll that was fine.)

The parking lot out front seemed like a big deal at the time -- but in retrospect it wasn't very big at all.  But it was always full of cars from the time Virgil or his wife Sarah opened up the doors at seven in the morning.  Closing time was after the six o'clock news or whenever everybody went home.  

It was just an old cinder-block building that maybe covered 7500 square feet.  In the back there were even living quarters and to the side there was a three bay garage that was big enough to park a couple of semi-trucks in -- and his brother-in-law did just that.  

It was a small community with a bunch of churches, a school, Virgil's, and another store about a mile and a half down the highway (which also housed the post office), and a bar-b-que pit.  If you drove about 8 miles one way you'd be in the county seat that had more accouterments and a better selection, and if you went on about 16 miles further from there you'd be in a city that a big mall and the discount stores of the day (there were no Wal-Marts or Super Wal-Marts yet -- but there was a K-Mart, Sears, Penneys, etc.)

Now, a family could shop just about at any store they wanted to -- but Virgil's and the Corner store were right there in the township.  They featured a unique characteristic too that's somewhat anachronistic now.  When they rang up whatever it was that you were purchasing, whether it was a tank of gas, or a bottle of milk, there was always this question; 'You want that on your bill?'.  If you said yes -- a plain ledger book came out and Virgil or Sarah -- or sometimes one of their daughters or employees -- would flip through the book to your page with your name at the top of it and write down that day's purchase.  

He never asked for payment or sent out a bill.  But, sometimes if a person hadn't paid any on his bill for a while when he made a new entry he'd just tell you what your new total was.  That was your cue to pony up with a little cash -- if it was just a portion of the total or even just a little bit -- there was no interest -- just what you bought.    Many people kept huge running balances.  Some never paid at all.  But nobody went hungry.

We didn't think about the price of gas, about the price of the food, about the price of the hardware or furniture.  It was community and those of us who paid knew that we were supporting a lot of people who couldn't pay.  In the process Virgil and Sarah made a living too.  

If Uncle Virgil heard me talking about some of the things I'm talking about now he'd probably jerk me up by my ear and give me a good one.  But, then again, Uncle Virgil never counted on the soulless, sterile world we live in now.  So, I kind of think Uncle Virgil and a lot of other people would be willing to start entertaining some of the ideas that we're talking about.

So, if I'm to compare some cheap gasoline down the street to Uncle Virgil's -- nope, wouldn't even think about it.  But, if I'm comparing just one soulless convenience store to another one -- yeah -- I might be inclined to buy the cheaper gas.  But there's a couple of things I'd want to know.

Why is it cheaper?  

Is it because they're exploiting child labor in another country?  Is it because they're exploiting prisoners of conscience?  And do I have any real alternative in buying from one supplier or another?

More later !

Great thread guys -- Ron -- I really appreciate the amount of time and effort you're expending.

Stephan -- Interesting -- it would be entertaining to hear each one's thoughts about the other.  
Local Rebel
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40 posted 08-24-2004 12:58 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

quote:
(gawd I love ya Reb, and this place? is home...)

thank you...

I'll be ploddin' on, thanks to you all. yay!


well ms. Starr..

mighty kind of you to say.. I know what you mean though -- this place kind of reminds me of a virtual Virgil's (not his real name -- nor was he my actual uncle).

Spose I could start calling Ron Unc... if he didn't mind it from somebody with a little snow upstairs.
hush
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41 posted 08-24-2004 04:01 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Well, I got here late, but I do have to reply to one of Ron's statements.

"Social Security was designed to be a supplement to retirement, not a replacement for planning. Unfortunately, it seems to have conditioned an entire generation into thinking they no longer have to plan for their own future. Worse, I think it has conditioned another generation into abrogating their responsibility to their parents and grandparents. The extended family has pretty much gone the way of tyrannous rex, and society is the poorer for its demise.

Seniors living on SS have a whole lifetime of the same mistake made by L when he thought only in the short term about this month's need for television. As long as society continues to PAY people for making such mistakes, they'll continue to make the same or similar mistakes."

First of all: Not all jobs come with a pension, and if someone is barely making enough to make ends meet, or even making enough to live fairly comfortably but not with anything left over, I don't really see how it is possible to save money for retirement. Some of that could be due to bad decision making, but some of it might honestly have to do with a limited education (dunno if you've been to college lately Ron, but it's pretty expensive) and limited ability (they usually don't give promotions to the slower workers, even if those workers are giving 110%). Sometimes people who work like crazy just have crappy jobs- my best friend was at a $7.10 wage freeze for over a year. Not her fault. Everyone I know who's in school (myself included) is just drowning bills and loans, and  some of them can't even get decent financial aid and loans because they aren't eligible, or they don't have enough credit and nobody will cosign for them. Not their faults. So, instead of trying to pay for school should we be putting money in an IRA? Settling for $7.10 an hour? Or trying to better our jobs and make careers, and running up long-term debt (which will prevent us from saving money) in the process?

Another issue is disability. It's a personal issue with me, because my mom is disabled, to the point where she has to live in a nursing home. The medical bills are astronomical (certainly nothing she can pay with her $1400 a month -which, incidentally, sounds like a fortune to me, considering that I only managed to drag in about $5,000 last year). And the kicker is that Medicare, and insurance geared toward the elderly, pays what ends up being a pittance for nursing home care: 20 days at 100%, and another 60, I think, at 80%. (Those numbers might be a little off, but I think they're pretty accurate.)

Right, I know, you should have secondary insurance for things like that, and meds... well, my mom was eligible for insurance through her work for a year or two after she became disabled... granted, she had to pay $500 bucks a month for it, but it could have been worse... until the grace period expired and they dumped her.

Oh, and despite the medical bills, Medicaid will not approve her because she makes too much. And doesn't qualify for most drug company patient assistance programs- because she makes too much. So she started refusing a $65-dollar-a-pill antibiotic because she couldn't pay the bills and didn't want to owe anybody else more than she had to... and as a result of discontinuing the drug, an infection took over her kidneys and she nearly died.

As far as family "abrogating their responsibility to their parents and grandparents-" caring for an ill loved one is a full time job. Full time, as in no time for school, better cut your hours at work and plan to spend evenings home. I think it's important for family to be involved in their loved ones' care, but considering that people have jobs (remember? they have to save up for that retirement, right?) and school and children of their own, it's unfair to expect someone to give up their income, education, and independence to shoulder that unless thay are willing to do so.

I'll grant that there are some serious problems with Social Security- mainly, people being approved that really aren't disabled, people like my father who gets around $1600 in SS and a comparable pension and free health insurance for the rest of his life, but still bitch about being on a fixed income. There's the big issue of the frail elderly population growing quicker and quicker, and there are less and less of us paying into SS for every person who gets it (a friend told me in the 70's it was something like 30:1, and now it's 3:1).

I don't know the answer either, but I seriously think that with the trend of other developed countries going to socialized healthcare, and with the growing unrest amongst the uninsured and underinsured in this country, a change is going to come. I was just reading an article the other day by this guy, about his wife's stroke and the medical billing fiasco that followed. See, she got sick in France where, as opposed to charging for individual treatments, the hospital charged a flat daily rate- one for acute, one for non-acute- and then adjusted for major expenses such as surgeries. I'm not sure if it's the right way to go (I assume Dr.'s are paid similarly to the way nurses are paid- as employees of the hospital, rather than charging each patient seperately.) but it poses an interesting question to us, since, all told, an estimated 31% (!!!) of all money paid for medical services goes to pay for the paperwork- the billing, the secretarial wages, the insurance company overhead. Interestingly enough, the government-controlled Medicare averaged only 11%... for all its problems, I wonder if there aren't some good features that could be used from it?

I'm not an expert on economics, in fact, I find it confusing and frustrating, but it just seems like there's go to be a better way than we ahve now.

One last point:

"When we let someone continue to be abusive or lazy or irresponsible, we're not doing them any favors. We're doing ourselves the favor, usually, because we're unwilling to feel "bad."

Tough love is, well, tough. But it's still love, and just maybe it's the deepest and most unselfish of all loves."

For the most part, I agree with this... I've played the part of the enabler far too many times, generally because all efforts to stop the behaviors were fruitless. I also agree that tough love sucks, but sometimes has to be done. But when tough love means saying "Hey, I see track marks on your arms. You brought AIDS on yourself, so were not giving you any treatment until you give us cash" or "You didn't work hard enough, you're not getting any food" I think the love part drops out. Allowing somebody who is asking for help to die is not love. I've been there before, and if I can, I'll throw the safety net out, ten times out of ten. Maybe it is just selfishness...  maybe it is the fact that I don't want blood and guilt directly on my hands- but I think it's the greater moral good- to always try a last-ditch effort and helping, and at reform... whether the person deserves help or not.
Local Rebel
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42 posted 08-24-2004 06:09 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

You're not late Amy, this thread is barely warmed up yet... hopefully by the time we're done economics won't be as frustrating a subject.  

Local Rebel
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43 posted 08-24-2004 11:24 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

quote:

Reb, I don't dispute that Smith's pure laissez-faire capitalism leads to inevitable excesses in the long term. Those excesses, however, are the exception rather than the rule, and the government intervention required to abate those excesses should be equally rare. If the rich always get richer, someone apparently forgot to tell that to the Big Three car makers who have watched their world domination wither and die in the past forty years. If the poor always get poorer, someone forgot to tell that to the post-War Japanese who decided they could manufacture and market cars better. So what does our government do when Chrysler gets its tail caught in the door? And they dare cite the need for competition as their reasoning?



Let's not forget the Marshal plan Ron.  Where did the Japanese get the backing to re-enter the world economy?  The full faith and credit of good ol Uncle Sam.  That's some pretty big money to compete against.  But, there were other factors at work as well -- it gets a little bit complicated and I have a tendency to  talk a little too much tech anyway -- particularly if we're talking manufacturing and the automotive industry -- but let's look at this anyway.

After the war Gen. McArthur called in Dr. W. Edwards Deming (who had been instrumental in whipping American materiel manufacturing into shape during the war) to help with the Japanese Census and gave him exposure to the JUSE (Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers). They invited him to stay and work with them on rebuilding their manufacturing base and economy. (After their initial attempts at manufacturing had yeilded very poor quality goods) His techniques and philosophy metamorphisized the  Japanese Economy practically overnight.  (As it had done American Arms manufacturing during the war.)

Without getting into the entire philosophy or science of it -- we can sum it up by saying two things;

First -- people know more about how to do their jobs than the people managing them do and they want to and will do a good job if they are allowed to.  Committees will report to the president of a company (or country) what that president wants to hear.  Therefore leadership has to drive out fear of reprisal and instill a way of working that focuses on processes instead of goals. Goals put a cap on performance.

Second -- Marketing is a race with no finish line and the only thing that matters is the rate of improvement.  (Think of acceleration of a car -- one is going faster than the other -- but the slower car is accelerating faster than the other -- which one will gain the lead in a race with no finish line?)   In systems that focus on processes and improvement of those processes -- ultimately the company with the best process for IMPROVEMENT will gain an advantage that can never be overcome.

In short -- the Japanese had a weapon of mass destruction compared to Detroit.  The real kicker was that after the war the Big Three auto makers ran Deming off with a stick -- because -- obviously employees can't know more about their jobs than management.  (Winning the war wasn't proof enough for the hubris of the sociopathically greedy.)

This put the Japanese manufacturers on a solid footing to move into the U.S. market -- but, then they got an even bigger break -- the energy crisis of the 70's (which is the larger factor in Stagflation).  They had small, fuel efficient cars.  What did Detroit have?  But, then when Americans started buying those small fuel efficient cars they found out what kind of junk Detroit had been shoveling out -- Quality was king.

The combination of U.S. reconstruction money, and Deming is what has beaten the Big Three -- which would lead us into a discussion of Chrysler and the Reagan recession that is better left alone lest we needlessly complicate this right now.
http://www.deming.org/theman/biography.html  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Edwards_Deming

I'll be back with more on the Parker Bros as soon as possible.  
Ron
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44 posted 08-25-2004 12:45 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Not all jobs come with a pension, and if someone is barely making enough to make ends meet, or even making enough to live fairly comfortably but not with anything left over, I don't really see how it is possible to save money for retirement.

Unfortunately, Amy, very few see how it's possible. They don't want to sacrifice their cars or television sets or one night a month out with their friends. For most of America, our "needs" always seem to expend to encompass our income. And a little beyond? The simple truth is that if anyone in our immediate vicinity or circumstance is living without a car or TV or night out, we can, too.

One's future will never be determined by how much money is made. It is determined, rather, by how much we keep.

quote:
But when tough love means saying "Hey, I see track marks on your arms. You brought AIDS on yourself, so were not giving you any treatment until you give us cash" or "You didn't work hard enough, you're not getting any food" I think the love part drops out.

You don't wait until a kid is sixteen to teach them self-discipline and you don't wait until a loved one is ready to die to invoke tough love. When we find ourselves in the situations you describe, Amy, we've already failed the person. I'm certainly not talking about killing someone through neglect. I'm talking about NOT making it easy for them to kill themselves. Hunger and actual starvation are two very different things, and the gap between them is large enough to teach a whole lot of real life wisdom. When hunger is a problem, it needs to be solved and the only solution is food. When hunger is a symptom of a deeper problem, as is so often the case in this country, food is NOT the solution and usually only perpetuates the problem. Want to make sure someone never has a reason to change? All you have to do is keep them comfortable.

quote:
The combination of U.S. reconstruction money, and Deming is what has beaten the Big Three

I'm very familiar with Deming and the work he has done, Reb. His techniques, however, would not have worked had capitalism not worked. And if Ford and GM had been run by your Uncle Virgil, I probably wouldn't be driving a Mazda today.  

Deming gave the competition teeth. The system, however, gave those teeth something into which they could chomp a big bite. As long as consumers have a choice, capitalism works.
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45 posted 08-25-2004 06:39 PM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

quote:
from Ron
I've not only been there, Kacy, but I've been there two separate times in my life. And, yea, it's damn frightening when crackers and raw hot dogs seem like a delicacy. I took risks, the dice came up craps, and I paid heavily for some bad decisions. For a long time, I thought I had lost nearly three years of my life to my own foolishness, but in retrospect, the price I paid inevitably became a part of who I would become. I'm not sure I would have learned the same lessons from those experiences had someone else paid the consequences for me. Hunger hurts, fear hurts even more, but if we can just survive, they make damn good teachers

thank you, Ron
For me, I guess the problem is that some do not survive. It is sad, but true, that even in this great wealthy country, with tons of food hitting garbage cans, that some people still starve. The 'system' does NOT always work, sad to say. But it is true, we cannot 'save' everyone. *sigh*
that's left up to a stonger power, I guess


I am all for demanding personal responsiblity from those capable of giving it. And it matters not what the political structure is, what really counts is that this planet has more than enough to sustain everyone, and yet, the distribution of food and wealth is so lopsided it sets this world into a tailspin.
Just think of some of the real issues that spawn terrorism. We all know it isn't just religious, social, ethnic or political differences. From my vantage point, I see there are real issues of hunger and thirst from millions, who perceive the US as a very greedy, selfish nation. At the most basic level, most people want food and shelter, and a chance to breathe. Then, once the basics are taken care of, they might have a chance to ask for all the rest of what makes a so-called 'great society' (Johnson's words).
Don't know if I'm making much sense here, as I jumped in just to read, and found myself needing to say a bit more.
Thanks for your time and patience with me, I'm still learning how to be human.
Local Rebel
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46 posted 08-25-2004 10:16 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Let's clarify a couple of points before we go to the next step.  The speicific nature of this thread is pointed not at the efficacy of Capitalism to create wealth -- but whether or not it does it fairly as Smith posited, and conservatives would like to have us believe IS the answer that you say you don't know what is Ron.

We have 3 out of 10 people in this country facing abject poverty at some point in their life.  20 percent of children are constantly in poverty.  They're going hungry.

Capitalism always creates winners and losers.  100 percent of the time.  In order to transition jobs from this country to another one it means that real people face real trauma -- and they never will recover from it in their lifetime.

Capitalism works -- but is it moral?

Is it any more moral to offer a reduced, below poverty wage to someone else who just happens to be in a worse circumstance?  Is it moral to support child labor and slavery in other countries while we're patting our enlightened selves on the back over here and banking the dividends?

We are in a global economy. We do have to start acting like it.  But chasing cheap labor around the globe isn't the way to do that.

We cannot divorce ourselves from the consequences of our common actions.  People lose.  Some can bounce back.  Some can't.

L and people who make those kinds of decisions are obviously not capable of making decisions at the same level as you or Donald Trump.

If the stakes are skid row or a living wage is it fair?  Would you be willing to bet the rest of your life on a game of one on one basketball with Shaq?

We don't give 200 dollars and a token to people, we don't give them 40 acres and a mule.  All the property is already owned.  We send them out of high school and say -- GO.  They can't get a job because they don't have experience.  They can't get experience because they can't get a job.  Some try to make it through college -- but only one in three graduates.  Some may try the military -- but, that doesn't look like a really great deal these days does it?

There is no question that the New Deal and the Great Society initiatives have failed -- we've seen that after half a centruy -- but if we're going to be honest -- in 200 years of Capitalism -- the first 100 unfettered even (and with a generous attempt at 40 acres and a mule with the Homestead act of 1820) the wealth has remained where it's always been.  

Three percent of the country own almost all the wealth.  Only seven percent of that three percent earned it.  The American success story is RARE.  But we love to tell it because it reassures us that we have a chance.  (If we just work hard and smart).  

But we have only a marginally better chance than our forebears who crossed the big pond to get away from the static European economy.

The measures we've taken to try to fix Smith have been incremental bandaids.  

And -- oh -- that Mazda you drive -- it can't possibly exist!!!   The Japanese have no incentive to work.

There ARE solutions.  We'll get into them.  We're smarter than this -- we don't have to let a simple problem like food distribution or job creation beat us.  We can solve it.

I promise.

And I'm not even running for anything.

More later.
Local Rebel
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47 posted 08-26-2004 11:09 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Greed;

From Human Rights Watch

quote:

My sister is ten years old. Every morning at seven she goes to the bonded labor man, and every night at nine she comes home. He treats her badly; he hits her if he thinks she is working slowly or if she talks to the other children, he yells at her, he comes looking for her if she is sick and cannot go to work. I feel this is very difficult for her.
I don't care about school or playing. I don't care about any of that. All I want is to bring my sister home from the bonded labor man. For 600 rupees I can bring her home-that is our only chance to get her back.
We don't have 600 rupees . . . we will never have 600 rupees.
-Lakshmi,1 nine year-old beedi (cigarette) roller, Tamil Nadu. Six hundred rupees is the equivalent of approximately $17.2

With credible estimates ranging from 60 to 115 million, India has the largest number of working children in the world. Whether they are sweating in the heat of stone quarries, working in the fields sixteen hours a day, picking rags in city streets, or hidden away as domestic servants, these children endure miserable and difficult lives. They earn little and are abused much. They struggle to make enough to eat and perhaps to help feed their families as well. They do not go to school; more than half of them will never learn the barest skills of literacy. Many of them have been working since the age of four or five, and by the time they reach adulthood they may be irrevocably sick or deformed-they will certainly be exhausted, old men and women by the age of forty, likely to be dead by fifty.

Most or all of these children are working under some form of compulsion, whether from their parents, from the expectations attached to their caste, or from simple economic necessity. At least fifteen million of them, however, are workingas virtual slaves.3 These are the bonded child laborers of India. This report is about them.

"Bonded child labor" refers to the phenomenon of children working in conditions of servitude in order to pay off a debt.4 The debt that binds them to their employer is incurred not by the children themselves, but by their relatives or guardians-usually by a parent. In India, these debts tend to be relatively modest, ranging on average from 500 rupees to 7,500 rupees,5 depending on the industry and the age and skill of the child. The creditors-cum-employers offer these "loans" to destitute parents in an effort to secure the labor of a child, which is always cheap, but even cheaper under a situation of bondage. The parents, for their part, accept the loans. Bondage is a traditional worker-employer relationship in India, and the parents need the money-perhaps to pay for the costs of an illness, perhaps to provide a dowry to a marrying child, or perhaps-as is often the case-to help put food on the table.

The children who are sold to these bond masters work long hours over many years in an attempt to pay off these debts. Due to the astronomically high rates of interest charged and the abysmally low wages paid, they are usually unsuccessful. As they reach maturity, some of them may be released by the employer in favor of a newly-indebted and younger child. Many others will pass the debt on, intact or even higher, to a younger sibling, back to a parent, or on to their own children.



http://www.hrw.org/reports/1996/India3.htm  http://www.hrw.org/reports/2003/india/


From Frontline

quote:

SIXTEEN-year-old Sudalai of Paneerkulam village in Tamil Nadu's Toothukudi district is battling for life, along with 34 others at the Kovilpatty Government Hospital, after suffering severe burn injuries on September 24 in a fire that engulfed Star Match Works in Muddukkumeendampatti village. Sixteen women and girls died in the accident. Many of those who survived are disabled and disfigured for life. Only a few managed to escape with minor injuries

A striking feature of this accident is that all the victims are women, aged between 13 and 42.

They found that women comprised over 90 per cent of the labour force in the match units and most of these workers were girls between the ages of 14 and 18 years. A household sample survey by CACL showed that while 70 per cent of the boys in the area attended school, 80 per cent of the girls worked full-time in match units. More striking is the CACL finding that children, particularly girls, are employed in large numbers in these units.


http://www.flonnet.com/fl1925/stories/20021220003904000.htm
From Free The Children
quote:

The following was printed in "The Working World of Children" by Child Workers in Asia (CWA).

Sonsingh - bonded labourer - 11 years old.
Sonsing is a tribal(Binjhwar) living in Raipur district Madhaya Pradesh. He has been in bondage for two years for a sum of Rs.180 (US$11.25), as well as a small amount of rice as a loan for his family, since there has been a drought for some time.

"My mother, my brother and I have to work in the landord's house, and my father works as a labourer on the landlord's farm. I work more than 10 hours a day for less than two kilos of rice. It's hard, but I always do the work I am asked to do, including collecting cow-dung for fuel. I am not allowed to leave my master's house till the loan is repaid. My master beats me sometimes when I make mistakes."
=======
The following was printed in "CHILDVIEW" by World Vision Canada - Feb./March/ 1995.

Easwaris, now 13, still bears the scars suffered four years ago from an explosion in a fireworks factory.

Easwaris began working 12-hour days in a fireworks factory when she was just seven. For $1.75, the girl laboured six days a week, loading sulphur, aluminum dust and coal into firecracker tubes.
Four years ago, a blast from gunpowder coated fuses in the factory knocked Easwaris unconscious and badly burned her arms, back and hips. Twelve other children, including Easwaris' 8-year- old sister Munnishwari, died in the blast.

Sadly, Easwaris should never have been working in the fireworks factory in the first place. In 1986, India banned the employment of children younger than 14 in more than a dozen industries, including the fireworks industry, yet the ban is rarely enforced.

One of the reasons child labour is so difficult to curb is that minimum age laws are hard to enforce, due to factors such as a shortage of government inspectors, police corruption, an absence of strong legislation or even a lack of co-operation by parents and children themselves.
reported by Sanjay Sojwal

============
The following was sent to us from SACCS India.

Ranjeet was freed from child labour late last year, and now tells his story of triumph over tremendous odds.

"My master branded me in my left leg with a hot iron rod. This happened when I was working in a carpet loom of Sobri village in Vranasi UP. A dalal brought me from my village Thutti of district Saharsa of Bihar. He told my father it would be a good future for me and gave him Rs. 100. My father is very old and six members are in my family.

My master, Shri Hira Lalyadav, used to beat me when I made mistakes and forced me to work 18 hours in a day, sometimes the entire night. In lieu of remuneration for my work, I got a course meal (two chapatis with salt). My employer did not allow me to meet my parents, even when they came to the working place.

After 3 years, I was rescued along with other children, with the help of District Magestrate. However, a Government official had me handed over to a loom owner. Again, on the 14th of October, 1996, I was released from this hell with the great efforts of BBA activists, Mr. Chaurasia, and Government officials. After getting my independence, I was brought to Mukti Ashram for rehabilitation and study. When I was only 12 years old and very weak, Mukti Ashram took me in, and now I am very active. My interest is to learn carpentry, and slowly, I have started to identify tools and make furniture also. My stay with Mukti Ashram was for 9 months from the 28th of November, 1996 to June, 1997. Within this short period of time, I became self sufficient. Nowadays, I am living in my village with my family."


http://www.freethechildren.org/youthinaction/child_labour_personal_stories.htm

Is this a moral problem?

Local Rebel
Member Ascendant
since 12-21-1999
Posts 5742
Southern Abstentia


48 posted 08-26-2004 11:29 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

'How can you say
you're not responsible?
What does it have to do with me?
What is my reaction?
What should it be?'

Sting -- Driven to Tears

quote:

At the present time, the U.S. Customs Service has 24 outstanding detention orders on forced and indentured child labor products dated as far back as October 3, 1991, but has only banned the importation of 6 of these goods into the U.S. The Sanders amendment would ban the importation of all goods on which Customs has reasonable evidence that the products were made by forced or child labor. The Congressman's statement on the House Floor follows.

Mr. Chairman, it is an outrage that American workers must compete for jobs with as many as 250 million defenseless children working around the world today without any hope of ever seeing the inside of a classroom. Children's rights groups estimate that the United States imports more than $100 million in goods each year which are produced by bonded and indentured children.

Especially outrageous is the plight of millions of child laborers, some as young as 4 years old, who are sold into virtual slavery and chained to looms for 14 hour days knotting the oriental rugs that grace the foyers and living rooms of countless homes and offices all across the country.

Exploited children toil in factories, mines, fields, at looms, and even brothels, sacrificning their youth, health and innocence for little or no wages.

They are hand stitching the soccer balls that our kids play with every day. They are stitching blouses and slacks made in China and sold in Wal-Mart. They are even sharpening the surgical instruments used in our hospital operating rooms.



http://bernie.house.gov/statements/2001-07-26-child-labor-amendmt.asp
serenity blaze
Member Empyrean
since 02-02-2000
Posts 28839


49 posted 08-27-2004 01:03 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Nodding with the Reb...

I have to stick with the family analogy to make my point tho. My husband once went to great lengths to show me how much money WE could save, if we raised the thermostat 3 degrees in the summer, and lowered it five degrees in the winter.

I tried. And yes indeed, in mid-summer? There was a huge difference in our electric bill. The problem that ensued is that I didn't see a difference in my standard of living. The money was saved--sure--but not to anyone's benefit but HIS. It got him an extra concert ticket, and I couldn't breathe.

I put the thermostat back on 75, and shook my head, saying, "no incentive."

Although this is a personal example, I think it quite indicative of just what is happening in regards to the attitude of the people toward our heads of state and respective government.

The power is already distributed unfairly. The system they promote seeks only to protect their own interest(s), and then, there is the lack of trust compounded by suggested abeyance to this same authority that LIES. (Or simply refuses to answer questions)

And I am called a Liberal these days and I wonder why that term became a slur, and conservatism seemingly grants a halo.

I understand the adage, I believe attributed to Abraham Lincoln, (too tired to google)

"Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime."

But I believe we can go one better.

Teach a man to LOVE to fish, and you've got an enterprise.

I'm just unsure at this point as to whether "love" is something that can be "taught."

Now where is my clenched fist smilie?




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