Author Topic: Modern Day Slavery  (Read 18472 times)

EscapeVelocity2020

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Modern Day Slavery
« on: May 26, 2018, 11:40:35 PM »
This aspect of Capitalism has always bothered me:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/25/business/highest-paid-ceos-2017.html

Quote
A Walmart employee earning the company’s median salary of $19,177 would have to work for more than a thousand years to earn the $22.2 million that Doug McMillon, the company’s chief executive, was awarded in 2017.

Sadly, that's not the most egregious example of how American CEO's earn vs. the rank and file employees.  If it's not outright slavery, then it is the moral equivalent. 

So then the only question left is, how much longer do we wait?  How many more multiples of lifetimes do you and your progeny sign up to endure, before we say 'enough'?  We are not only not playing a game that an average person can no longer 'win', we are playing a game that no longer benefits from everyone's participation.  Now we are being told that our superiors are winning for us and we are no longer encouraged to participate.

shuffler

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2018, 12:14:37 AM »
If it's not outright slavery, then it is the moral equivalent. 
... no.  Not by a mile.

swaneesr

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2018, 05:22:45 AM »
This path you suggest has been tried before.... unsuccessfully. Hopefully the world can avoid relearning this fact over and over again.

As flawed as capitalism is, it has proven better than other systems. The market rewards those workers with more skills. If you want improve your pay ratio to a CEO? Get more skills.


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Accidental Fire

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2018, 05:58:28 AM »
If it's not outright slavery, then it is the moral equivalent. 
... no.  Not by a mile.

Exactly.... not by a country mile

terran

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2018, 06:01:12 AM »
Sadly, that's not the most egregious example of how American CEO's earn vs. the rank and file employees.  If it's not outright slavery, then it is the moral equivalent. 

Really, seriously? I don't know about you, but I've never seen a Walmart employee raped, beaten, or killed by their "master" for, well, anything. Definitely not the same thing.

My takeaway: that's not actually that bad money. I could live on that.

Mustache ride

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2018, 06:03:24 AM »

As flawed as capitalism is, it has proven better than other systems. The market rewards those workers with more skills. If you want improve your pay ratio to a CEO? Get more skills.


Exactly.

solon

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2018, 06:38:28 AM »
Did you know that slavery still exists in the world today? Literal, actual slavery.

This website gives a definition of slavery, https://www.antislavery.org/slavery-today/modern-slavery/
Quote
Someone is in slavery if they are:
  • forced to work – through coercion, or mental or physical threat;
  • owned or controlled by an ’employer’, through mental or physical abuse or the threat of abuse;
  • dehumanised, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as ‘property’;
  • physically constrained or have restrictions placed on their freedom of movement.

I agree with everyone else here that this doesn't sound anything like what Walmart is doing.

Knapptyme

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2018, 06:49:46 AM »
Upon learning this stuff about Walmart years ago, my wife and I simply started voting by the almighty dollar and stopped shopping there entirely. No, I don't think it's slavery per se, but I think it's wrong.

(They have a lot of other unethical practices that make them lots of money at the top. I'll save that for a another time or feel free to watch the documentary, Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices.)

And yes, actual slavery does still exist which is also abhorrent. International Justice Mission is a good cause to support to combat that.

Indexer

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2018, 08:22:20 AM »
As noted, not slavery.

In addition, if Wal-Mart treats their employees so terrible, why do they work there? With slavery, they would be forced to work there. They aren't, they can go seek different employment anytime they want. They are likely there because they don't have any marketable skills to get a job anywhere that pays more.

In highschool, I worked for a restaurant. A couple people quit that job so they could go work at Walmart instead. It was a $0.50 per hour pay difference($8.00 VS $7.50/hr), which they thought was awesome at the time. The restaurant gig was a fun job. However, working with people twice my age was a huge reminder that I had to finish HS and get a college degree, because I didn't want to still be there 20 years later.

Minimum wage and barely above minimum wage jobs pay very little. I see two solutions. 1. The employees acquire marketable skills to get better jobs. For many, this means finishing high school. 2. The rest of us pay significantly more for purchases at Wal-Mart, grocery stores, restaurants, etc. Or, we have UBI and we all pay higher taxes. People at different ends of the political spectrum might like one answer over the other, and I'm not trying to start a debate between the two... I just don't see any other solutions.

Some math and perspective: WalMart CEO = 22.2 million. Average employee= $19,177. WalMart has 2.3 million employees. If the CEO was paid $0 each employee would get a $9.65 per YEAR raise. Yes, he is paid a lot, but also responsible for millions of jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars. If Doug(CEO) makes smart decisions and WalMart grows, then those 2.3 million employees likely have more job security. If he makes bad decisions and Walmart goes under, then those 2.3 million employees likely would be happy to pay $10/yr to still have their jobs. I personally, would be happy to pay $10/year to have an awesome CEO over a mediocre CEO.

DreamFIRE

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2018, 08:34:27 AM »
It's not even in the same ballpark as slavery, and it's not wrong.  I support the free market determining wages and oppose increases in minimum wage at all levels of government, universal basic income, and ideas like Bernie Sanders' manufactured government jobs that pay too much.  Walmart actually pays pretty well as it is.

As others have said, if you want better pay, get better skills.


« Last Edit: May 27, 2018, 09:34:49 AM by DreamFIRE »

PDXTabs

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2018, 09:10:54 AM »
If it's not outright slavery, then it is the moral equivalent. 
... no.  Not by a mile.

I think a better example would be people in Texas getting 10 years in prison for simple possession of cannabis (no intent to distribute). Then, they get their sentence cut in half if they literally pick cotton for four or five years.

But yes, America has always had a slave class. Right now we are struggling to figure out who will occupy it next. On the left we have the school to prison pipeline which is predominantly occupied by people of color. On the right we have the disappearance of good blue collar jobs and debts that can never be discharged in bankruptcy.

EDITed to add, we wrote it right into the 13th Amendment:

Quote
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2018, 09:22:04 AM by PDXTabs »

ChpBstrd

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2018, 09:15:08 AM »
As a reader of Frederick Douglas, I don't think what we're seeing is slavery. The term serfdom might apply though.

Here's a very interesting read for an alternative perspective. I know we Americans tend to equate smarts with goodness, but what about the people who can't get good grades? i.e. the half of the population who are below average at the skills that pay a lot of money today?

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/07/the-war-on-stupid-people/485618/

The point of the article is that automation has eliminated many of the economic opportunities for people who lack academic ability or educational credentials. They might be good at 1,000 other things (i.e. possess multiple intelligences), but if they can't compete for a handful of high-paying 21st century professions, there are fewer and fewer other jobs that pay a middle-class wage. Factories are run by engineers and robots now, farm automation has eliminated almost all agricultural jobs, autonomous cars and semi trucks might eliminate millions of driving jobs, and Amazon.com might soon make the Walmart greeter as obsolete as the full-service gas station attendant.

The concern is, how do we expect such people to vote when they see a caste system emerging in which they will be at the bottom? Well, of course they want to tear down democracy and capitalism.

Maenad

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2018, 09:18:45 AM »
In addition, if Wal-Mart treats their employees so terrible, why do they work there? With slavery, they would be forced to work there. They aren't, they can go seek different employment anytime they want. They are likely there because they don't have any marketable skills to get a job anywhere that pays more.

This is a somewhat facile argument. There are plenty of areas in the US where 1 or 2 employers like Wal-Mart have the population under their thumb, since there is nowhere else to work within a long commute distance. It's awfully easy for those of us with cushy middle-class or upper-middle-class jobs to say, "Just get another job". It's frequently not that easy. Similarly, "Develop better skills" is flippant and mean to people who just can't. Some people simply aren't able to, due to innate intelligence, mental health issues, etc.

Huge wage disparities are politically destabilizing. Just as humanity has tried to forcibly level the playing field and it's worked terribly, letting huge disparities form between the haves and have-nots also works terribly. Enlightened self-interest should lead us to find a balance where there are incentives to excel yet those who are unable aren't living in fear of starvation and homelessness.

But calling the kind of imbalance we currently see "slavery" is hyperbolic in the extreme. Have you actually read any accounts of chattel slavery in the US in the past, or modern versions scattered throughout the world? Horrific doesn't begin to describe it. Calling Wal-Mart's wage imbalance "slavery" is minimizing the horror that millions of humans have gone through.

markbike528CBX

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2018, 09:34:47 AM »
As noted, not slavery.

.....big snip........

Some math and perspective: WalMart CEO = 22.2 million. Average employee= $19,177. WalMart has 2.3 million employees. If the CEO was paid $0 each employee would get a $9.65 per YEAR raise. Yes, he is paid a lot, but also responsible for millions of jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars. If Doug(CEO) makes smart decisions and WalMart grows, then those 2.3 million employees likely have more job security. If he makes bad decisions and Walmart goes under, then those 2.3 million employees likely would be happy to pay $10/yr to still have their jobs. I personally, would be happy to pay $10/year to have an awesome CEO over a mediocre CEO.

Despite the $10/ year difference, for the few individual stocks I own, I always vote against the executive compensation package.   Not a Walmart stockholder.  But now I'll feel a little bit better if I'm lazy and don't vote.

ExitViaTheCashRamp

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2018, 10:32:04 AM »
I speak from a position of mustachian privilege. I have been absurdly fortunate over my life:

1) Born in a rich, 'free' country
2) Benefited from good state education
3) Lucky enough to go to university without meaningful debts
4) Had parents who whilst... a little odd.. did parent me well enough.
5) Enjoyed secure almost uninterrupted employment for 19 years.
6) Found a spouse that is mustachian too and rejects the vast majority of the expectations forced on women (hair, make-up, clothes, shoes, social climbing.. e.t.c.)

 Compared to the rest of the world, I'm fair bit over the line for the top 1% for income (> £25,000) and also fair bit over the line for 2% for wealth (>£300,000 iirc).

 However compared to the rich folks of my country - my income and wealth are small beer. The key of course is to realise that you are rich compared to most of humanity - especially if you compare yourself to all humanity that has ever been. So what if a tiny percent of the world is hugely richer than you - just by living in the west you are absurdly richer than almost everyone else in the world -- even if you are on minimum wage. You can double this value if you count opportunities for entertainment, freedom of religion, actually having free time to do as you wish in your total 'wealth'.

 Whining you are 1000x poorer than rich man across the street is just sickening when you are still richer than most of the rest of humanity.

 Last thought: 1 in 3 humans alive today does not have access to a safe toilet.  https://www.toilettwinning.org

PDXTabs

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2018, 10:47:47 AM »
Whining you are 1000x poorer than rich man across the street is just sickening when you are still richer than most of the rest of humanity.

Which EU nation are you in and what is your poverty rate for high school dropouts? Because here in the US it is 34.7%.

big_slacker

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #16 on: May 27, 2018, 11:12:53 AM »
People have brought it up already, but I'll pile on. Comparing the CEO of an industry leading multinational to that of a part time checker has WHAT to do with slavery again? The ratio isn't the issue. If the issue is standard of living, address that. If the issue is limited upward mobility, address that. But stop with the bitterness and jealousy.

maizeman

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #17 on: May 27, 2018, 11:25:54 AM »
So are within-company pay disparities any different ethically from between-company (or between-country) pay disparities?

Consider a company with two employees: Employee #1, who develops and sells some super fancy HFT software-as-a-service and makes $25M/year, and Employee #2 who is an IT specialist and maintains the giant racks of servers the HFT software runs on and makes $45,000/year.

The company is named and shamed in the media for its extreme pay disparities, and ultimately decides that they way to avoid any more trouble is to outsource all of their computing needs "to the cloud" so hire a local hosting company to provide a bunch virtual servers. Employee #2 is laid off, but fortunately is able to find a new job at that same local hosting company, paying the same $45,000/year, but at this company, the highest paid employee is the CEO who pulled in $270,000/year.

In the second situation, within-company pay disparities drop dramatically. But if the first situation was bad, is the second situation an improvement?

CogentCap

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #18 on: May 27, 2018, 11:27:27 AM »
This seems like a good place to put this link: 

http://slaveryfootprint.org/

How many slaves work for you?  (Hint: A LOT more than you think.) 

ender

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #19 on: May 27, 2018, 11:44:57 AM »
Are incomes a zero sum game?

OP sure seems to think so.

scottish

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #20 on: May 27, 2018, 12:25:57 PM »
If it's not outright slavery, then it is the moral equivalent. 
... no.  Not by a mile.

I think a better example would be people in Texas getting 10 years in prison for simple possession of cannabis (no intent to distribute). Then, they get their sentence cut in half if they literally pick cotton for four or five years.

But yes, America has always had a slave class. Right now we are struggling to figure out who will occupy it next. On the left we have the school to prison pipeline which is predominantly occupied by people of color. On the right we have the disappearance of good blue collar jobs and debts that can never be discharged in bankruptcy.

EDITed to add, we wrote it right into the 13th Amendment:

Quote
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

About this:   and debts that can never be discharged in bankruptcy.

What debts cannot be discharged in bankruptcy?   Are these student loans?

I had always thought the US was good at dissolving debt obligations in bankruptcy.   

RWD

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #21 on: May 27, 2018, 12:34:57 PM »
This seems like a good place to put this link: 

http://slaveryfootprint.org/

How many slaves work for you?  (Hint: A LOT more than you think.)

Apparently if I'm like the average American then there are 11 billion slaves supporting the United States alone... Somehow I am skeptical of the results of that survey.

PDXTabs

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #22 on: May 27, 2018, 01:02:05 PM »
About this:   and debts that can never be discharged in bankruptcy.

What debts cannot be discharged in bankruptcy?   Are these student loans?

I had always thought the US was good at dissolving debt obligations in bankruptcy.

Yes, it is actually one of the founding tenants of the country and is mentioned in article 1 of the constitution. This is attributed to the debtors prisons that they remembered from the old world. However, since 2005 student loan debt has not been dischargeable in bankruptcy.

EDITed to add, and it is about to be a really big deal: Analysis: Student loan debt and an astonishing number no one’s talking about.

re EDITed to add: and you don't even need to reach the age of majority. In many states you can easily be admitted to college starting at the age of 16, complete with non-dischargable student loans.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2018, 01:18:41 PM by PDXTabs »

Paul der Krake

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #23 on: May 27, 2018, 02:18:23 PM »
Not enough hyperbole in this thread.

Where is the OUTRAGE about the ECONOMIC TRAITORS of the SELFISH BOOMER GENERATION? They saddled their KIDS with INDENTURED DEBT SERVITUDE and the SHACKLES OF INEQUALITY will only be taken off with a VIOLENT UPRISING.


DreamFIRE

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #24 on: May 27, 2018, 02:42:44 PM »
Not enough hyperbole in this thread.

Where is the OUTRAGE about the ECONOMIC TRAITORS of the SELFISH BOOMER GENERATION? They saddled their KIDS with INDENTURED DEBT SERVITUDE and the SHACKLES OF INEQUALITY will only be taken off with a VIOLENT UPRISING.

I hope you're being cynical - not serious, although some have made similar comments in the past and actually mean it, and they make a generalization about the entire generation, but it's pretty low painting everyone who happens to be born within a loosely defined range of years as selfish.  I know many boomers that are the exact opposite of selfish.  Being an early generation x American, I have much higher regard for the generations that came before me than the whiny and entitled people who make up most of the generations that came after mine, but I'm not going to paint all of them with the same brush.  Enough of this generational warfare.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2018, 02:45:11 PM by DreamFIRE »

Norioch

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #25 on: May 27, 2018, 04:16:10 PM »
The excesses of capitalism are bad, but they're not literal slavery. And FYI, there still is actual, literal slavery in the world today. In fact there are more slaves in the world today then there were at the start of the Civil War (total, not per capita).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contemporary_slavery


SwordGuy

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #26 on: May 27, 2018, 04:58:31 PM »
I know we Americans tend to equate smarts with goodness, but what about the people who can't get good grades? i.e. the half of the population who are below average at the skills that pay a lot of money today?


If most Americans ACTUALLY TRIED LEARNING in school instead of INTENTIONALLY AVOIDING LEARNING IN ORDER TO BE COOL, we would discover that almost all of them would have adequate life skills that would positively impact their life.

But they don't. 

And we let them get away with it.

And worse, make excuses for it.

Almost every child has the raw ability to do basic arithmetic.   I'm not talking calculus or trig, just basic functions including fractions.   If they choose to learn it and choose to do their best on the work required, almost all will succeed.   A very small percentage won't.

Instead, we have a huge percentage of our high school graduates who cannot do simple addition, subtraction, multiplication or division.   They don't know how to do percentages or fractions.   And the root cause of that is that they were unwilling to do the work, their parents did not make them do the work, and schools passed them from grade to grade despite them not doing the work.

Our students have the same problem with reading (at all), much less reading comprehension or analytical thinking skills.   They actively avoid doing the work necessary to master the skills.   

We need a huge cultural change in our country to fix this problem.   

And part of it is to quit making excuses for people and, instead, expect them to learn what they are supposed to learn.   And then hold them accountable for doing so.


If someone legitimately did not get the resources they needed when growing up, then by all means, let's help them with those resources now.  (And fix it so other folks further back in the pipeline get the resources when they need them, not afterwards.)    But either way, once those resources are made available, people need to be expected to learn it and be held accountable for it.   The last thing people without the skills they need is someone making up an excuse for them not having them.  The first thing they need is a workable plan for them to get the skills they need.




GuitarStv

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #27 on: May 27, 2018, 06:08:22 PM »

As flawed as capitalism is, it has proven better than other systems. The market rewards those workers with more skills. If you want improve your pay ratio to a CEO? Get more skills.


Exactly.


While I agree that low wages certainly don't equate to slavery . . . arguing that pure capitalism works well as a system is a bit funny considering how this thread started.

In a purely capitalist system, you would be allowed to buy slaves.  Government interference on this matter is rooted in socialism - specifically a need to control (prevent for moral reasons) the slave market.  The US system (like every functioning economic system in the world) is a mix of both capitalist and socialist ideas, holding each other in check.  Capitalism tends to provide drive to create/innovate, socialism tends to provide protection for the people.  Go to far into either direction, and your economic system will eventually run into trouble.

swaneesr

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #28 on: May 27, 2018, 06:47:32 PM »
When government becomes overly involved in the market place, unintended consequences result.

Government is necessary to insure fairness. However, more government generally results in a redistribution of wealth from those who work hard to those who take advantage of the system.

The key is to draw the line at a point that insures those that work hard enjoy the fruits of their labor. Those who do not work suffer the consequences. Nature is harsh on this point. Be productive and survive or be ineffective and perish.

This is the way of our world. We would all understand this if the electricity was shut off for one year. No internet, no refrigerator, no medication. Farm life circa 1888. Be productive to survive.

Sadly that is the way of the world.






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Norioch

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #29 on: May 27, 2018, 07:33:57 PM »
The key is to draw the line at a point that insures those that work hard enjoy the fruits of their labor. Those who do not work suffer the consequences. Nature is harsh on this point. Be productive and survive or be ineffective and perish.

Nature is barbaric. It's a terrible model to use as a moral standard. We should aim to structure society to still reward productivity without being winner-take-all, and we shouldn't be celebrating the thought of anyone perishing. Nobody consents to being born and nobody is born self-sufficient. Everybody needs help sometimes.

katsiki

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #30 on: May 27, 2018, 07:56:55 PM »
OP, feel free to read up on this wonderful organization helping to stop real slavery.

http://www.a21.org/content/who-we-are/

nick663

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #31 on: May 27, 2018, 08:48:05 PM »
The point of the article is that automation has eliminated many of the economic opportunities for people who lack academic ability or educational credentials. They might be good at 1,000 other things (i.e. possess multiple intelligences), but if they can't compete for a handful of high-paying 21st century professions, there are fewer and fewer other jobs that pay a middle-class wage. Factories are run by engineers and robots now, farm automation has eliminated almost all agricultural jobs, autonomous cars and semi trucks might eliminate millions of driving jobs, and Amazon.com might soon make the Walmart greeter as obsolete as the full-service gas station attendant.

The concern is, how do we expect such people to vote when they see a caste system emerging in which they will be at the bottom? Well, of course they want to tear down democracy and capitalism.
It's interesting to think that there were people that theorized that automation/mechanization of tasks would allow people to earn the same wage while working less hours.  What a wild world that would be.

swaneesr

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #32 on: May 27, 2018, 08:48:42 PM »
The key is to draw the line at a point that insures those that work hard enjoy the fruits of their labor. Those who do not work suffer the consequences. Nature is harsh on this point. Be productive and survive or be ineffective and perish.

Nature is barbaric. It's a terrible model to use as a moral standard. We should aim to structure society to still reward productivity without being winner-take-all, and we shouldn't be celebrating the thought of anyone perishing. Nobody consents to being born and nobody is born self-sufficient. Everybody needs help sometimes.

Nature is not winner take all. Nature is work to survive. This is a harsh reality.

Sadly it seems that any attempt to lessen this harsh fact results in abuses to generosity of others. Whether government or other charity it often seems to result in some abuse.

If there were 100 persons marooned on Gilliagans Island, how many would be able to game the system?  Those who would attempt would be quickly uncovered.

In an ideal world everyone would contribute what they are able. This would be good enough. Nature is not winner take all. It is do enough to survive. If the larger group could protect those who are working to the best of their ability, that would be enough for most of us.




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EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #33 on: May 27, 2018, 09:04:56 PM »
OK, obviously 'slavery' is not the right term for what I'm railing against (and I apologize to anyone experiencing slavery, but I doubt many of them are reading the MMM Forums).  I'll admit that, but 'inequality' seems inadequate for a situation where the head of the organization makes several working lifetimes more per year than the rank and file.  That the situation continues to get worse year in and year out is cause to wonder how far it will ultimately go.  In a way, Mustachianism / FIRE is a response to people (who can afford to) bucking this system, which I'm very supportive of.

And yes, Capitalism is a better system than Socialism and Communism, but that doesn't mean we blindly follow it to the bitter end and give a free pass to aspects which ultimately do more harm than good.

And yes, incomes are not a zero sum game, but the focus is meant to be on continually rising income disparity.

Thanks for the discussion, sorry I have not participated much yet. 

Norioch

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #34 on: May 27, 2018, 09:06:03 PM »
Nature is not winner take all. Nature is work to survive. This is a harsh reality.

Call it what you will. Nature is still barbaric, and we shouldn't be celebrating a harsh system. And we don't have to model our society around that system. We don't live on Gilligan's Island and our civilization is very far removed from nature. The whole point of this website is to help people achieve early retirement - life without work. And that's a good thing! If people don't like work and are capable of living comfortably without it, then that should be celebrated!

More and more jobs are being automated every day. That's also a good thing. But it's only a good thing to the subset of people who receive the fruits of that automation. In the coming decades AI is going to massively expand the set of jobs capable of being automated until eventually there's not going to be anything left that humans are better at than machines. Are you going to tell people "you must work to survive" when there's literally no work left to do?

swaneesr

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #35 on: May 27, 2018, 09:28:55 PM »
Nature is not winner take all. Nature is work to survive. This is a harsh reality.

Call it what you will. Nature is still barbaric, and we shouldn't be celebrating a harsh system. And we don't have to model our society around that system. We don't live on Gilligan's Island and our civilization is very far removed from nature. The whole point of this website is to help people achieve early retirement - life without work. And that's a good thing! If people don't like work and are capable of living comfortably without it, then that should be celebrated!

More and more jobs are being automated every day. That's also a good thing. But it's only a good thing to the subset of people who receive the fruits of that automation. In the coming decades AI is going to massively expand the set of jobs capable of being automated until eventually there's not going to be anything left that humans are better at than machines. Are you going to tell people "you must work to survive" when there's literally no work left to do?

Agreed - nature is barbaric.  This is not to be celebrated. We are not far from nature. Turn the power off for three weeks and see how far we are from nature. In our comfort we delude ourselves thinking that we are so far removed from the harshness of nature. We shop at the grocery store and lose touch with the source of where are food originates.

No work to do?  I disagree. There is much work to do. The tasks have changed but still exist. We no longer need a ferrier to shoe our horses or a wheel right to provide the wheels for our wagon. However we need controls engineers to program production lines to make the goods we purchase and store clerks to complete the transactions. Adapt- those that can move forward in this economy.

We have never been so rich. The consumerism is so much. We expect so much comfort. I wonder how much I and most others could do without.

Our civilization is about 21 days of no electricity from finding out all about nature.

swaneesr

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Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #36 on: May 27, 2018, 09:36:08 PM »
The OP highlighted the extreme differences in compensation from CEO to the bottom rung of the organization. I have no answer. NBA players are paid more than brain surgeons. It is what our society values.

Is it fair?  Probably not. The market is not perfect. It is just the best method we have at this time.

Highlighting the extreme difference in compensation does nothing to solve the problem. In fact our civilization is much better off than 100 years ago. We are all richer. Some more than others.




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maizeman

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #37 on: May 27, 2018, 09:45:29 PM »
No work to do?  I disagree. There is much work to do. The tasks have changed but still exist. We no longer need a ferrier to shoe our horses or a wheel right to provide the wheels for our wagon. However we need controls engineers to program production lines to make the goods we purchase and store clerks to complete the transactions. Adapt- those that can move forward in this economy.

Control engineers fall into the category ChpBstrd was discussing where there is plenty of demand, but not all the people who are losing jobs in factories or mid-level white collar office work are going to have the right combination of abilities and intelligences to become control engineers.

In contrast, a larger proportion of the population can learn to run a cash register, yet the need for store clerks is facing downward pressure from two directions:

On the one hand lots of big box retailers are moving to self-checkout lanes where one person might supervise and troubleshoot enough self checkout registers to do the work of 4-6 clerks in the old days.

Yet at the same time online retail is dramatically reducing the amount of spending that happens at brick and mortar stores. In 2017, 105M square feet of retail space closed in the USA. In 2018, we've already lost another 75M square feet of retail space from January to April, which puts us on pace to lose 225M square feet of retail space over the entire calendar year. To translate that into job losses a good rule of thumb is about 2.5 employees per 1,000 square ft of retail space.

TUCKER0104

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #38 on: May 28, 2018, 04:08:54 AM »
What does capitalism have to do with CEOs getting paid a lot? I think people like to blame a lot of things on capitalism/free market but is it really capitalism that causes it?

swaneesr

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #39 on: May 28, 2018, 06:25:42 AM »
The market should adjust salaries for worker wages based on supply and demand. This should include CEO’s and all other job positions as well.

I have no direct knowledge of how the highest levels of executive pay are determined. It is an ultra competitive environment. I imagine a very small number of qualified candidates as determined by a Board of Directors.

As was pointed out, it is not valid to compare CEO pay to the pay of a part time entry level position. How about we compare Tom Brady’s pay to a part time vendor guy in section 221?

The trend in online retail vs brick and mortar is real.
The trend in high tech jobs are real.

The changes are happening quickly and it will be a challenge to fill the new positions. However, there are jobs out there in the economy.  We need carpenters, production workers who can interact with factory automation and even work side by side with robotic automation. We need service techs and healthcare workers......  on and on.

Enterprises that adapt and stay efficient will thrive. Those that do not adapt will close their doors. That is the market.

What won’t work is getting government involved and trying to solve the problem. Here is an example - let’s put a new tax on robots and use it to pay Universal Income Benefit to people who can not find a job. Right. That is going to turn out well.

Every organization has those people in them that are the All-Stars. They are at all levels bottom to top. They are the best waiters and cooks and managers and forklift drivers and even CEO. They should be rewarded. This is NOT modern day slavery.




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GuitarStv

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #40 on: May 28, 2018, 07:34:50 AM »
When government becomes overly involved in the market place, unintended consequences result.

Government is necessary to insure fairness. However, more government generally results in a redistribution of wealth from those who work hard to those who take advantage of the system.

The key is to draw the line at a point that insures those that work hard enjoy the fruits of their labor. Those who do not work suffer the consequences. Nature is harsh on this point. Be productive and survive or be ineffective and perish.

This is the way of our world. We would all understand this if the electricity was shut off for one year. No internet, no refrigerator, no medication. Farm life circa 1888. Be productive to survive.

Sadly that is the way of the world.

Let's say we've got a natural environment.  For the sake of simplicity it's an island.  There are some birds on the island which eat the mice, and some mice which eat some grain.  When a natural environment is in balance, the birds eat enough mice to keep the population from exploding and wiping out the grains.  The mice repopulate at a fast enough pace to keep the birds from starving.  The grain grows at a fast enough rate to avoid being wiped out by the mice.  All is good.

If you introduce a more productive predator to this ecosystem, say an aggressive mouse hunting snake, it would catch more mice than the birds.  The snake would have higher fertility rates, create more snakes, and within a short period of time would probably wipe out the mice.  The birds would starve to death.  The snakes would starve to death.  The mice would be hunted to extinction.

Nature can be harsh, but it punishes imbalance - not lack of productivity.

The Happy Philosopher

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #41 on: May 28, 2018, 08:05:17 AM »
Capitalism is a good system at creating wealth, innovation and raising the standard of living for populations, but it is not a good system at creating equal outcomes. Every society that has tried (various forms of socialism) has failed. Equal outcomes are not possible. Equal opportunities are more achievable, although various systemic issues prevent this as well.

The real shift that is happening right now it that wealth creation is infinitely scalable, but most people are still stuck in the old paradigm of trading time for money (including myself) which is not. Soon all those minimum wage walmart jobs will be gone due to robotics/AI/etc, and we will need to figure out as a society what to do. The transition will be interesting and I don't know the answers, maybe some sort of universal income. Who knows.

GuitarStv

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #42 on: May 28, 2018, 08:16:53 AM »
Capitalism is a good system at creating wealth, innovation and raising the standard of living for populations, but it is not a good system at creating equal outcomes. Every society that has tried (various forms of socialism) has failed. Equal outcomes are not possible. Equal opportunities are more achievable, although various systemic issues prevent this as well.

Countries that have implemented (and continue to implement) various forms of socialism mixed with capitalism to varying degrees:

- The United States
- Canada
- The UK
- Sweden
- Norway
- South Korea
- Denmark
- Japan
- France
- Australia
- New Zealand
- Germany
etc.

Every successful country in the world implements some level of socialism to keep the worst aspects of capitalism at bay.  (They also implement some degree of capitalism to keep the worst aspects of socialism at bay.)  It's sometimes difficult discussing this with Americans there is a lot of pervasive cultural brainwashing that appears to have hung around since the McCarthy witch hunts regarding the word 'socialism'.

Indexer

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #43 on: May 28, 2018, 09:06:21 AM »
In addition, if Wal-Mart treats their employees so terrible, why do they work there? With slavery, they would be forced to work there. They aren't, they can go seek different employment anytime they want. They are likely there because they don't have any marketable skills to get a job anywhere that pays more.

This is a somewhat facile argument. There are plenty of areas in the US where 1 or 2 employers like Wal-Mart have the population under their thumb, since there is nowhere else to work within a long commute distance. It's awfully easy for those of us with cushy middle-class or upper-middle-class jobs to say, "Just get another job". It's frequently not that easy. Similarly, "Develop better skills" is flippant and mean to people who just can't. Some people simply aren't able to, due to innate intelligence, mental health issues, etc.

This feels focused on one paragraph out of context with the rest of my post. The last sentence of that paragraph was meant to define the problem. Did you read the rest of my post?

I didn't say people should just "develop better skills." I did say...
"Minimum wage and barely above minimum wage jobs pay very little. I see two solutions. 1. The employees acquire marketable skills to get better jobs. For many, this means finishing high school. 2. The rest of us pay significantly more for purchases at Wal-Mart, grocery stores, restaurants, etc. Or, we have UBI and we all pay higher taxes. People at different ends of the political spectrum might like one answer over the other, and I'm not trying to start a debate between the two... I just don't see any other solutions. "

I defined the problem. I outlined what I see as the potential solutions. You prefer option 2. I didn't state a preference. I think we will likely need a combination of both.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2018, 09:19:37 AM by Indexer »

maizeman

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #44 on: May 28, 2018, 09:44:10 AM »
In addition, if Wal-Mart treats their employees so terrible, why do they work there? With slavery, they would be forced to work there. They aren't, they can go seek different employment anytime they want. They are likely there because they don't have any marketable skills to get a job anywhere that pays more.

This is a somewhat facile argument. There are plenty of areas in the US where 1 or 2 employers like Wal-Mart have the population under their thumb, since there is nowhere else to work within a long commute distance. It's awfully easy for those of us with cushy middle-class or upper-middle-class jobs to say, "Just get another job". It's frequently not that easy. Similarly, "Develop better skills" is flippant and mean to people who just can't. Some people simply aren't able to, due to innate intelligence, mental health issues, etc.

I don't disagree at all with your last sentence, but I that the second one (bolded) was particularly interesting.

For most of its history the United States was faster at recovering from economic recessions and depressions than other countries (which mostly means european ones, since those are the ones where we have data from comparable time scales). One of the causes this is attributed to by some economists is that the United States is a big country, and, at least until recently, our population has been willing to (and able to) move to where the jobs are. So if unemployment is high in Virginia but economic growth is high in Oregon, a bunch of Virginian's move to Oregon, they find work (good for the people who move), unemployment rates in Virginia drop (good for the people who don't move), and the influx of workers helps the Oregon economy grow even faster (good for the people in Oregon).

No one has a definitive answer for why americans are so much less willing or able to move across state lines than they used to be.* But this historical pattern no longer holds true in the USA today, which may be part of why it took us so long to pull out of the great recession, and why a lot of parts of the country are still trapped in it.

Anyway, this is a long winded discussion, but I bring it up because my reaction if I, or anyone else I knew and cared about lived somewhere with only two employment options and one of them was walmart, my first response would be: move the heck out of there as fast as you can!

*Assorted possible explanations: Are people are still underwater on their mortgages? Are people substantially more likely to be supporting a disabled or nonworking parent or family member than in the past (meaning relocation would involved moving multiple households)? Is it as simple as the rise in two income households meaning moving requires finding two better jobs in the same place elsewhere in the country instead of one? Or the rise in divorces where the former spouse who moves out of states has to get judicial approval or risk losing a large proportion of their custody rights? Are the places with the most jobs places like san francisco and new york where housing policies might as well have been intentionally designed to keep out outsiders by driving up prices? (Not an exhaustive list.)

AlienRobotAnthropologist

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #45 on: May 28, 2018, 11:38:19 AM »
While a lot has been said in this thread, we must recognize that in Capitalism vs Socialism, capitalism is the clear winner and it would be extraordinarily evil to advocate for a socialist economic system in any non-trivial sense. I think a useful change of perspective would be to instead think of Capitalism vs competitive markets. In this sense, Socialism is the opposite of competition and going past Capitalism in the direction of waste, inefficiency, and unmeritocratic structures.

It's well established that CEO compensation isn't correlated with results. There's a lot of reasons for this, ranging from an excessive focus on the short-term by shareholders, to a lack of ability for shareholders to effectively push for the right management direction, to corruption between CEOs and boards of directors in hiring and other matters. If the CEO founded the company, then I think this should be considered a necessary evil of Capitalism and not the worst thing in the world. For more typical corporate CEOs, we need to figure out how to encourage a more long-term focus while holding them more accountable for waste, inefficiency, and poor decisions. They tend to do a good job squeezing the bottom but just look at GE's previous CEO to see how they exploit the company for their personal interests and don't impose the same drive for delivering value to the shareholders upon themselves.

Unskilled workers face the inverse problem of too perfect of competition. At the individual level, the answer is obviously to get some marketable skills. I do think that a higher minimum wage would be beneficial though, especially if it encourages more automation. Allowing gentrification to occur would also help, since relative inequality is what's really driving the social problems here. The amount of absolute material wealth a minimum wage job can provide in a low cost of living part of the US in 2018 would have been unfathomable by kings a few centuries ago. A negative income tax could potentially be a way to distribute this cost while encouraging people at the bottom to work and pull themselves into a better position over time. I think more direct government wealth transfers like UBI and many social programs are very crude, inefficient, and ineffective solutions to important problems. I would however be in favor of taking all the various government programs like food stamps and section 8 housing and replacing them with a single monthly check. This would also be a lot easier to prevent creating the wealth-fare trap - the perverse economic incentive for people who could work to not work because of the loss of benefits. I've been studying real estate a lot for the past year and when I look at section 8 housing it really is a lose-lose for both the tenant and landlord. The system is really screwed up and just giving the tenant a check that they could use for rent or anything else would work way better.

One thing that could really help society would be to push back against professions erecting barriers to entry with unnecessarily arduous credentialing. The general push for everybody on earth to go to college, even though only a minority of people actually learn anything there is also quite harmful. Imagine if medicine and law became undergraduate degrees. Members of those professions would have a lot less debt and start making money sooner. In turn, they can accept a lower wage and it becomes easier for people to join those professions. It also improves society's ability to utilize the services of these professions. Imagine if employers stopped demanding a BA or BS for a generic office job that has nothing to do with the degree. People don't need the crippling student debt, can enter the workforce sooner, won't waste time in college if they don't belong there, and people who can do the job but aren't academically inclined can more easily enter the middle class.

Norioch

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #46 on: May 28, 2018, 12:19:30 PM »
While a lot has been said in this thread, we must recognize that in Capitalism vs Socialism, capitalism is the clear winner and it would be extraordinarily evil to advocate for a socialist economic system in any non-trivial sense.

It doesn't have to be all-or-nothing one way or the other. I'd argue that the healthiest markets are mixed markets.

maizeman

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #47 on: May 28, 2018, 12:25:05 PM »
Lots of interesting thoughts ARA!

A few comments/questions below:

While a lot has been said in this thread, we must recognize that in Capitalism vs Socialism, capitalism is the clear winner and it would be extraordinarily evil to advocate for a socialist economic system in any non-trivial sense.

I suspect you're going to get a fair bit of pushback on this point, but it might be helpful to define where you draw the line between trivial vs non-trivial socialism to avoid arguments where people don't disagree about the facts, just about what words to use to describe which concepts.

Quote
I do think that a higher minimum wage would be beneficial though, especially if it encourages more automation. Allowing gentrification to occur would also help, since relative inequality is what's really driving the social problems here. The amount of absolute material wealth a minimum wage job can provide in a low cost of living part of the US in 2018 would have been unfathomable by kings a few centuries ago. A negative income tax could potentially be a way to distribute this cost while encouraging people at the bottom to work and pull themselves into a better position over time. I think more direct government wealth transfers like UBI and many social programs are very crude, inefficient, and ineffective solutions to important problems. I would however be in favor of taking all the various government programs like food stamps and section 8 housing and replacing them with a single monthly check.

What are you seeing as the functional distinction between a negative income tax bracket (possibly combined one big check to cover foodstamps and housing aid) on one hand, and a UBI on the other? To me these seem like extremely similar concepts, so I'm afraid I'm not yet following why you're in favor of one but opposed to the other.

I agree with you that a higher minimum wage would indeed stimulate automation. This would be good for the economy as a whole but both the higher minimum wage itself and the increase in automation would mean a growing proportion of the population wouldn't be able to find paying work they had the skillsets and abilities to perform, so at a societal level I think you'd need a plan for what becomes of those people.

Quote
One thing that could really help society would be to push back against professions erecting barriers to entry with unnecessarily arduous credentialing. The general push for everybody on earth to go to college, even though only a minority of people actually learn anything there is also quite harmful. Imagine if medicine and law became undergraduate degrees. Members of those professions would have a lot less debt and start making money sooner. In turn, they can accept a lower wage and it becomes easier for people to join those professions. It also improves society's ability to utilize the services of these professions. Imagine if employers stopped demanding a BA or BS for a generic office job that has nothing to do with the degree. People don't need the crippling student debt, can enter the workforce sooner, won't waste time in college if they don't belong there, and people who can do the job but aren't academically inclined can more easily enter the middle class.

Yes! I'm not sure what the handle you push to get employers to stop requiring unnecessary college degrees would be, but I do agree it would be an unmitigated good for our economy and society if we could.

One similar place where it IS obvious how you change things would be the increased trend towards state licensing boards for everything from hair braiding to personal trainers. Just get rid of them.

PDXTabs

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #48 on: May 28, 2018, 12:48:46 PM »
While a lot has been said in this thread, we must recognize that in Capitalism vs Socialism, capitalism is the clear winner and it would be extraordinarily evil to advocate for a socialist economic system in any non-trivial sense. I think a useful change of perspective would be to instead think of Capitalism vs competitive markets. In this sense, Socialism is the opposite of competition and going past Capitalism in the direction of waste, inefficiency, and unmeritocratic structures.

Yes, this is why I want to do away with social security, medicare, medicaid, workers compensation insurance, overtime laws, minimum wage, OHSA, child labor laws, food stamps, WIC, CHIP, insurance regulation, and everything to do with tenants rights. Hell, every road, library, school, and park should be privatized. Let the market sort it out you %*^&)@# communists!
« Last Edit: May 28, 2018, 12:55:53 PM by PDXTabs »

swaneesr

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Re: Modern Day Slavery
« Reply #49 on: May 28, 2018, 01:30:48 PM »
While a lot has been said in this thread, we must recognize that in Capitalism vs Socialism, capitalism is the clear winner and it would be extraordinarily evil to advocate for a socialist economic system in any non-trivial sense. I think a useful change of perspective would be to instead think of Capitalism vs competitive markets. In this sense, Socialism is the opposite of competition and going past Capitalism in the direction of waste, inefficiency, and unmeritocratic structures.

Yes, this is why I want to do away with social security, medicare, medicaid, workers compensation insurance, overtime laws, minimum wage, OHSA, child labor laws, food stamps, WIC, CHIP, insurance regulation, and everything to do with tenants rights. Hell, every road, library, school, and park should be privatized. Let the market sort it out you %*^&)@# communists!

There is a difference between a minimum safety net and no safety net. Basic regulation, over regulation and no regulation. Big government, smaller government and no government ( see anarchy, warlords, failed states).

waste, inefficiency, and unmeritocratic structures should be avoided.


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