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"Governmental Responsibility"

wolfiegirl is fully and completely responsible for this thinkpost.



It really all began innocently enough. wolfiegirl (whom I'm quite certain will not comment to this journal entry since she hasn't made a comment in my journal since almost exactly a year ago), posted an entry in her journal titled "The Hillary Clinton Drinking Game," where you take a drink every time Hill says "uh." Amusing. But then, she went on to make a comment: I would never vote for Barack Obama. Of course, I had to ask why... and... it's just best for you to look at THE THREAD.

If you don't, the shorthand version is she is concerned that Obama will force taxpayers to fund welfare as her top problem among a list that she typically has with I presume all Democrats.

Let's distill my argument here. Who is actually on welfare? That would be the first question to ask. Typically, it is the poorest, most indigent members of our society... people who either cannot or in some cases should not be working.

Another important question is why aren't they working now? And here's where we get into some spider web issues, so pardon me while I hit reverse and back up to give a better view of the landscape.

In order to get the best jobs, you need to have some tools. The first is a good education. We assume that everyone who attends school is getting "the same" education as most everyone else in our society. But not so deep down, we know that isn't the case. The best instructors do not teach in inner city classrooms, extreme rural areas, or in cities or towns that are on the brink. If you are a child in one of these areas, you are not going to receive the same start as a lot of other children who have had personalized education, private tutors, etc.

But forget about instructors. The school buildings themselves are an issue. More like prisons sometimes (and occasionally worse than that) these places are forgotten areas where it's basically a glorified babysitting job for the teachers unfortunate enough to find themselves there. The idea is, like Minnijean Brown-Trickey (one of the Little Rock 9 I referenced in my 2007 wrap up post), just basic survival. In some cases it's the other classmates that disrupt. In some cases it's a teacher, either because of incompetence or impatience, that blocks. In some cases it's the budget that doesn't permit the materials needed to help learn... things like... books, pencils and paper, are missing.

But before we even get to school, there is the issue of nutrition. In order to be prepared to learn, you have to have the energy, the stamina, the physical and mental preparedness to do it. If you do not get breakfast, or you haven't had lunch, school is merely a distraction from your hunger pangs. You really can't learn if your tummy is grumbling.

Why aren't these kids eating? No money for food. Their parents are poor, unemployed, maybe drug or alcohol abusers, any number of reasons.

The environment the children grow up in is a part of this story. What are things like at home? Is it a warm, friendly environ? Or are there sirens, gunfire, verbal and physical abuse? Is it safe to play, to go outside and have fun?

And really, the unspoken element that this time of life provides is the socialization process. What sort of friends, enemies, relatives, neighbors, people in general are these kids being exposed to as they grow and learn about what life is about?

Ok. I don't need to hammer these points. Let's get back on the road to where I was going with this.

The adults of today, the 20somethings and people upwards of that, have been through their scholastic experience and are now out there, somewhere doing something with their lives. The people who did not have a stellar academic career must find a job that will hire them. A high school diploma with no other specialized skills to go with it means that the options are limited.

But here's where we get into the thick of things. We have corporations.

Corporations are double edged swords, at best. They can come into an area and provide a massive amount of jobs for many people immediately. But depending on what they do, and what they are attempting to achieve, they can also bankrupt or force other smaller businesses in the same general area to close. So, there is a negative impact.

If we're considering "fairness" as a quality that exists in an employer/employee relationship, we would expect corporations to share the profits they make with their employees for their work, and have them share in the success, since it was their work that lead to the group earning. However, the corporation has another responsibility: the investors. And those people expect profits to go into their coffers, not to those of the workers.

How does the government figure in?

Corporations are subject to certain rules and regulations. However, apparently none of these are not firing massive numbers of their employees, paying their fair share of tax money for what they do, and sending jobs to foreign countries in order to keep their profit margins high. Very good for their CEOs and top execs. Tragic for the employees that did all the work to get them there.

Why are corporations exempt from these rules? Because the government permitted it. And why are the people who worked for these companies out of work? Directly because the "rules" permitted it.

The government is turning a blind eye to these corporations that are making larger and larger profits while the people who worked for them are unemployed and suddenly struggling to survive.

And yet, we are concerned about potentially "giving" money to people on welfare. In fact, that money was stolen by these corporations in what is basically a white collar crime, aided by government policy.

Are we blaming the people for taking these corporation jobs for not being "personally responsible" for their fate? Would we do that in the case of someone who was driving down the street, when some huge truck rear ended them? Would we blame that person because they were driving down the street and should have known better?

I really could rehash some more of the points I made in that thread above, like the fact that the massive spending in Iraq has drained the government more than any "programs" that might have been created could do, or the fact that when people get laid off, they tend to take survival jobs that might have gone to people who don't have the skills needed to take anything more challenging, which only adds to the misery.

Really, I'm not saying the government needs to fix every problem for every person... but it better be there for those that got screwed by them.

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
paris_of_priam
Jan. 11th, 2008 05:20 am (UTC)
I thought that, under the Gingrich revolution, Congress put a limit to how long a person could receive welfare. Limited it to two years, or something? After which, you had to do 'workfare.' And yet, these people are constantly bringing up the 'welfare queen' and 'whole families, three generations, living on welfare' boogiemen. But if you ask me, if there is anything that's destroyed the great American work ethic in the last 30 years, it's been the fact that capital gains tax is lower, by half, than payroll taxes. So, people who actually 'work' for a living are punished relative to people who just collect dividends and capital gains on the stock market.

I give top marks to Warren Buffet for admitting that it's a disgrace that he is taxed at a maximum rate of 15% while the guy who cleans his toilets is taxed at a rate of 30%.
penpusher
Jan. 11th, 2008 08:29 am (UTC)
No that's right, "Capital Gains" is an unspeakable phrase when it comes to the Plutocrats, so yes, stockholders who purchased shares do better than the laborers that make them the money, and pay far less in tax back.

It's going to take people like Buffet to stand up and start helping to balance things. This has to be done pro-actively!
paris_of_priam
Jan. 11th, 2008 08:52 am (UTC)
Putting aside Reagan's goofy 'trickle down' economic model, the idea was sold to the public as 'it might not be equitable, but it's the only way to encourage investment, to stimulate the economy and create jobs.' That would be true if they'd limited the capital gains 15% tax rate to investments in American companies, where most of the employees are Americans. Of course, that's not what they did, and most of the money has flooded to the emerging Asian markets. Bill Maher said it best when he said "America is no longer the land of the haves and the have nots. It's the land of the haves and the BEEN hads."
asssssssssp
Jan. 11th, 2008 08:05 am (UTC)
You must come to my house for dinner! I will prepare twelve courses just to keep the good conversation happening.
penpusher
Jan. 11th, 2008 08:31 am (UTC)
What a wonderful offer! All this and the Ozzie Open! :o)

Happy Summer!
elfy
Jan. 11th, 2008 05:57 pm (UTC)
From her:
Government is an excuse. Everyone falls on hard times, but the fact of the matter is that it's not government's job to fix everyone's problems.

I think especially the last part is kinda wrong. I mean... what is a government there for? Why do we have governments? A government is there to make laws, so that the best options are provided for everyone living under that government. At least that is the ideal. The government is there for the people, not the other way round.

So yes, I think you are completely right, while she is wrong. I mean, what does she think a government is there for? For fun? For making the rich even richer? For talking about nothing at all for hours? For going to war? Well, yes, it seems like this right now, but... this was not the intended idea.

Good post :)
penpusher
Jan. 11th, 2008 11:41 pm (UTC)
There are people who believe that less government interference in our lives is the best, and I'm sure that's where this sort of thinking comes from, since people would prefer to not have that happening.

The problem is that when government favors one segment of the population and is not being fair with another, this must be balanced. Thanks for taking the time to read it!
lacachet
Jan. 11th, 2008 09:32 pm (UTC)
I read your conversation with her, but it really was like talking to a blank wall, don't you think? I call that the "Marie Antointette" complex :) You did give it your most articulate try, though---
penpusher
Jan. 11th, 2008 11:53 pm (UTC)
People are inherently self-interested. To justify their philosophies, they will characterize things in a certain way to support their theories, which allows them to hold onto their opinions.

Republicans, and those that tend to skew towards the Republican philosophy are mostly concerned about being taxed more for programs, when the government just spends and spends on stuff that benefits THEM, but that's perfectly ok.

Not completely a blank wall, but precious little progress!
herwonderfulday
Jan. 12th, 2008 12:54 am (UTC)
the giant sucking sound
Kansas girl's got issues, my friend. Scary issues.

I don't think it's a bad thing when companies can find cheaper labor overseas. What is bad, or at least can be bad temporarily, is when a major company/plant/industry starts laying off thousands producing a lot of unemployed people in one area in a short of amount of time.

Unless you live under a rock, it's hard to not know that widget making jobs are being sent elsewhere. So to take a widget making job knowing the potential fate of your industry is a calculated risk.

I took a job with an airline after 9/11. If the airline tanks, fine. I considered that before I took the job, but I'd always wanted to work for an airline so even if I get to do this for only a few years, I'm okay with that.

I think it's a fabulous idea for corporations to share the wealth with their employees through bonuses or stock options. Should the government force them to? No.

Is it the government's fault that a company goes bankrupt or sends jobs overseas? Should we have laws that dictate from what part of the world company's can hire from?

I agree though... the war and inflation are killing us economically. When we do well economically we have fewer social issues. But, you know... we're in a recession, apparently. And I hear we've had recessions before. And depressions. And booms! And good economies. Things go up, things go down. We can make things go back up again. Things always change, good or bad.
penpusher
Jan. 12th, 2008 04:16 am (UTC)
Re: the giant sucking sound
The problem is that the government is letting corporations have it both ways. They get to cut their losses by dumping their work forces and they aren't paying their fair share in taxes into the system.

People will take any job if they aren't working. So, I don't know that people are weighing their options as to whether the company that's hiring is going to dump them in a year or two. The risk is in remaining unemployed!

It has to be one or the other... we can't continue to allow the corps continue to lay off massive workers or take jobs to other countries without some sort of penalties to help offset that.

The people in power know that if the underclass is too busy worrying about just the basics, they won't be paying attention to what they are doing, which is padding their own pockets. That's something that never changes!
herwonderfulday
Jan. 12th, 2008 05:14 am (UTC)
i'm rambling in the comment 'cause i dont know what i'm talking about!
It has to be one or the other... we can't continue to allow the corps continue to lay off massive workers or take jobs to other countries without some sort of penalties to help offset that.

I could be wrong about what I'm about to say, but corporations do pay a "penalty". They do pay severance and unemployment.

It all seems pretty complicated to me and I don't really like thinking too hard about it because - and I don't mean so sound unsympathetic to those less fortunate than me but this will sound just so - I don't believe I'll ever be in a situation where I couldn't find a job. (But I'm young with no ties... talk to me in 10 years.)

I agree that that companies could benefit in giving back to their employees, but... I don't know. They should want to do it. And people should patron those with good standards as best they can. Like me, I only buy Colonial Candles. And my mom only shops at stores that carry Schepps products because she likes that Schepps does a lot of community work. And we love Chick-fil-a.

Huh. I guess there's something to be said for small businesses. Even if they tank, the number of unemployed workers wont wreck the local economy. I find this to be boring and fascinating at the same time. There's gotta a book out there about this somewhere.
herwonderfulday
Jan. 12th, 2008 05:35 am (UTC)
Re: the giant sucking sound
I came across this and it reminded me of your post. The Amish and Social Security. It's a pretty interesting read.
crushdmb
Mar. 30th, 2008 07:22 am (UTC)
Old post is old. LOL. I clicked on your Political tag and saw this, and it seems I missed it the first time around.

Anyway, I like her posts and I think she's a good person, but I think her politics are really fucking stupid, for the most part. Her white privilege shows, big time, especially when it comes to welfare and the like.

I love how she thinks a menial job will just fix being poor. Like, suddenly a family of 4 or 5 or 6 can pay the bills and feed the kids on minimum wage. WTF.

And welfare queens!!! I hate when people fucking say that. Sure, there are some people who take advantage of welfare, just as there are people who take advantage of ANYTHING EVER, but it happens a LOT less than most people think. Also, not everyone can work. What about those with severe medical or mental problems? No welfare for them, they can get a menial job to pay rent, food, utilities, and medical costs, woo!!

*eye roll*

OKAY, I'm just trying to distract myself from being sad ;)
penpusher
Mar. 30th, 2008 08:05 am (UTC)
I'm pleased to provide distractions from anything bad at any time. You might read my Path to 9/12 post if you haven't seen that one, since that's at least got some humor in it!

Or you can wait for the next episode of talk_show, next weekend... she's going to be my guest!
crushdmb
Mar. 30th, 2008 08:08 am (UTC)
omg! i am SO SO SO behind on lj (i need to clean my flist out because i haven't been able to keep up at ALL), and i had NO IDEA talk_show was back!!!
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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