The Role of Government

The place to discuss politics and policy issues that are not directly related to matters of faith.

Moderator: KeithE

The Role of Government

Postby Dave Roberts » Tue Mar 25, 2014 2:17 pm

This provides an interesting essay on the role of government in providing for human needs as well as a study of private charity. It's a bit long, but well worth the time to read it, whether or not you may agree.
http://m.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/03/the-conservative-myth-of-a-social-safety-net-built-on-charity/284552/
"God will never be less than He is and does not need to be more" (John Koessler)

My blog: http://emporiadave.wordpress.com/
User avatar
Dave Roberts
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5971
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2004 2:01 pm
Location: Southside, VA

Re: The Role of Government

Postby KeithE » Wed Mar 26, 2014 7:33 am

Good historically based article, Dave.

And as for today it says:
The United States’ social insurance system has always been a public-private hybrid. Over the last 30 years, there’s been a significant political movement dedicated to reducing the role of the public, hoping that a purely private world of social insurance would replace it.

But this private world of social insurance is cracking in the aftermath of the Great Recession and the changing economy. According to the Census, employer-based health-care coverage declined from 64 percent of the workforce in 1997 to 56 percent in 2010. Private savings vehicles don’t look capable of preventing poverty in old age, with the typical 401(k) holding under $13,000 in 2008. Instead, they seem more a way of showering tax benefits on the already well off, with 80 percent of the tax breaks for 401(k)s and IRAs going to the richest 20 percent of Americans, and only 7 percent going to the bottom 60 percent. And more immediately, private charitable giving failed to face the challenge of the Great Recession.


If the conservative movement had equal fervor to increasing private aid as it does to dismantling public aid, I could treat them with some respect. As it is, the con pundits are preying on pride and greed.
Informed by Data.
Driven by the SPIRIT and JESUS’s Example.
Promoting the Kingdom of GOD on Earth.
User avatar
KeithE
Site Admin
 
Posts: 6212
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Huntsville, AL

Re: The Role of Government

Postby Dave Roberts » Wed Mar 26, 2014 10:16 am

KeithE wrote:Good historically based article, Dave.

And as for today it says:
The United States’ social insurance system has always been a public-private hybrid. Over the last 30 years, there’s been a significant political movement dedicated to reducing the role of the public, hoping that a purely private world of social insurance would replace it.

But this private world of social insurance is cracking in the aftermath of the Great Recession and the changing economy. According to the Census, employer-based health-care coverage declined from 64 percent of the workforce in 1997 to 56 percent in 2010. Private savings vehicles don’t look capable of preventing poverty in old age, with the typical 401(k) holding under $13,000 in 2008. Instead, they seem more a way of showering tax benefits on the already well off, with 80 percent of the tax breaks for 401(k)s and IRAs going to the richest 20 percent of Americans, and only 7 percent going to the bottom 60 percent. And more immediately, private charitable giving failed to face the challenge of the Great Recession.


If the conservative movement had equal fervor to increasing private aid as it does to dismantling public aid, I could treat them with some respect. As it is, the con pundits are preying on pride and greed.
"God will never be less than He is and does not need to be more" (John Koessler)

My blog: http://emporiadave.wordpress.com/
User avatar
Dave Roberts
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5971
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2004 2:01 pm
Location: Southside, VA

Re: The Role of Government

Postby Haruo » Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:59 am

But you've got to figure out a system where the top 1% can get rich enough that they can afford to be charitable enough. ;-)

I don't anticipate much direct interaction with this article by William or ET, and if Ed weighs in I doubt I'll understand his points.
Haruo (呂須•春男) = ᎭᎷᎣ = Leland Bryant Ross
Repeal the language taxLearn and use Esperanto
Fremont Baptist ChurchMy hymnblog
User avatar
Haruo
Site Admin
 
Posts: 10051
Joined: Sat Aug 14, 2004 8:21 pm
Location: Seattle

Re: The Role of Government

Postby ET » Wed Mar 26, 2014 8:31 pm

Haruo wrote:I don't anticipate much direct interaction with this article by William or ET, and if Ed weighs in I doubt I'll understand his points.

You were almost right, Haruo. After all, it's just recycled material, but I'll give you a few tidbits:
Back before the Great Society, before the New Deal, and even before the Progressive Era, things were better. Before government took on the role of providing social insurance, individuals and private charity did everything needed to insure people against the hardships of life; given the chance, they could do it again.

So we have two false premises in the opening paragraph. "Things" - what "things"?...the author doesn't say - were not necessarily better. I can find things that were better. I can find things that were worse. Secondly, I've never heard it claimed by any conservative that in prior times "individuals and private charity did everything needed to insure people against the hardships of life". That's patently untrue and an impossibility.

I would agree that it is not in the general philosophy of what is called conservatism to view it as the the duty of government to insure us against the hardships of life. Asking rhetorically...are the four or so mentioned in the article the only hardships one faces in life and, if not, by what standard does one measure when government intrudes and becomes the nanny to protect us from that hardship?

Is life different today in an industrial society compared to the largely agrarian society of pre-1850? You bet. Does that mean we need to address things differently? Definitely. Does it mean that the federal government is the default solution provider? For liberals, the answer is akin to "settled science". For conservatives, if you don't answer that question in the affirmative, you end up being the subject of the article that started this thread. On a more personal level, you are accused of "preying on pride and greed".

Yet politicians that make it their life's calling to perpetually be looking for more money are not considered greedy. Politicians that talk as if they can protect 300 million individuals from life's hardships are not considered prideful. We are asked to believe that our public masters know best. Dependency isn't bad as long as it is public dependency. :wall:
I'm Ed Thompson, and I approve this message.
User avatar
ET
 
Posts: 2579
Joined: Wed Sep 27, 2006 1:20 pm
Location: Cordova, TN

Re: The Role of Government

Postby Haruo » Wed Mar 26, 2014 8:42 pm

ET wrote:
Haruo wrote:I don't anticipate much direct interaction with this article by William or ET, and if Ed weighs in I doubt I'll understand his points.

You were almost right, Haruo.

Wow! Almost right and almost pregnant simultaneously! ;-)
Haruo (呂須•春男) = ᎭᎷᎣ = Leland Bryant Ross
Repeal the language taxLearn and use Esperanto
Fremont Baptist ChurchMy hymnblog
User avatar
Haruo
Site Admin
 
Posts: 10051
Joined: Sat Aug 14, 2004 8:21 pm
Location: Seattle

Re: The Role of Government

Postby ET » Wed Mar 26, 2014 9:32 pm

Well, since I waded into this, might as well add some more......
Instead, they seem more a way of showering tax benefits on the already well off, with 80 percent of the tax breaks for 401(k)s and IRAs going to the richest 20 percent of Americans

Wow....I didn't realize the wife and I were being "showered with tax benefits" and that we were the "already well off" when contributing to my 401(k). Based on the current figures (about $101k), we almost make it or just barely make it into the "richest 20 percent of Americans" each year for the last number of years. And yet all we have done is work for the last 25 years...myself as an hourly worker, then systems analyst and now engineer, my wife as a teacher and now self-employed. How fascinating...all it took was working to get to the top 20%. Imagine that.

Strangely enough, when I was working for my company while in college doing hourly work for 18-25 hours a week those first couple of years after we got married, we would have been considered in the bottom 35 or 40% of income earners (and that was just as a part-timer and a teacher), yet could have participated in my company's 401(k) even then. I regret that I didn't start back in '89, because most likely I'd be looking at retiring in the next couple years or might have already when the last round of company buy-outs was offered. I'd have a high six or low seven-figures in the bank and just be amusing myself reading Keith, Sandy and a few others lamblast my "greed" as one of "the rich" between rounds of golf or busting clay pigeons at the gun club.....yet it all would have started while working at $7.75/hour (when min wage was $3.25 or something) back in the late 1980s in combination with a teacher's salary.

Furthermore, last time I checked, "retirement" was not a Biblical concept, and certainly nothing Biblical about staying a child until you are 22 or 23, working 35 or 40 years and then consuming the labors of other people for (potentially) the next 20+. Basically you are an economically productive citizen for only 1/2 your life given the current lifespan of 80-85 years. There most certainly isn't anything Biblical about picking some arbitrary age to willfully stop working and then rightfully being able to claim that other people should support you, or even supplement your lack of work just because you want to stop working and play golf or "enjoy the grandchildren". If man a will not work, neither should he eat.

Now, if you want to make an argument for a social safety net for the truly infirmed and disabled, we might reach a point of agreement, but what we're usually talking about- especially when bringing in talk of 401(k)s - is not a safety net, but weaving a hammock for older, yet still able-bodied, people.

Oh, and if you really want to get picky Scripturally, there is no Biblical justification for the 5-day work week. The Bible says "six days shall you labor". So maybe if folks went back to working six days a week like the Lord intended, they'd be a little better off. <tic> :)
I'm Ed Thompson, and I approve this message.
User avatar
ET
 
Posts: 2579
Joined: Wed Sep 27, 2006 1:20 pm
Location: Cordova, TN

Re: The Role of Government

Postby Dave Roberts » Thu Mar 27, 2014 4:34 pm

"God will never be less than He is and does not need to be more" (John Koessler)

My blog: http://emporiadave.wordpress.com/
User avatar
Dave Roberts
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5971
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2004 2:01 pm
Location: Southside, VA

Re: The Role of Government

Postby ET » Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:01 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:This relates well to the mis-shapen role of government in our society.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/27/opinion/kristof-a-nation-of-takers.html?emc=edit_th_20140327&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=20271556&_r=0

Nothing really new here, Dave. I've stated multiple times in other threads that I'd love to have the tax code overhauled and deductions limited to very, very few and I would prefer none at all. However, like everything else, most people have getting rid of the other guy's tax deduction in mind, not theirs. The home mortgage interest deduction goes largely to those on the upper side of the income scale, but try eliminating it and see what happens. Canada has the same or higher home ownership rate than the U.S. without such a "tax break for the rich".

I say close loopholes and lower the rates on both individuals and corporations. Eliminate corporate taxation completely....that's nothing more than corporations acting as middle-men tax collectors anyway. Corporate income tax is embedded in the costs of products just like salaries and paper clips. Workers and consumers pay corporate income taxes, not the legal fiction known as corporations.

Too bad we can't clone a few more Coburns....and whether you believe it or not, I can find a chunk of Tea Party types who would jump on board....conservatives, libertarians.

But let's not fool ourselves....there's plenty of takers on the low end of the economic spectrum also.
I'm Ed Thompson, and I approve this message.
User avatar
ET
 
Posts: 2579
Joined: Wed Sep 27, 2006 1:20 pm
Location: Cordova, TN

Re: The Role of Government

Postby Dave Roberts » Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:58 pm

ET wrote:Well, since I waded into this, might as well add some more......
Instead, they seem more a way of showering tax benefits on the already well off, with 80 percent of the tax breaks for 401(k)s and IRAs going to the richest 20 percent of Americans

Wow....I didn't realize the wife and I were being "showered with tax benefits" and that we were the "already well off" when contributing to my 401(k). Based on the current figures (about $101k), we almost make it or just barely make it into the "richest 20 percent of Americans" each year for the last number of years. And yet all we have done is work for the last 25 years...myself as an hourly worker, then systems analyst and now engineer, my wife as a teacher and now self-employed. How fascinating...all it took was working to get to the top 20%. Imagine that.

Strangely enough, when I was working for my company while in college doing hourly work for 18-25 hours a week those first couple of years after we got married, we would have been considered in the bottom 35 or 40% of income earners (and that was just as a part-timer and a teacher), yet could have participated in my company's 401(k) even then. I regret that I didn't start back in '89, because most likely I'd be looking at retiring in the next couple years or might have already when the last round of company buy-outs was offered. I'd have a high six or low seven-figures in the bank and just be amusing myself reading Keith, Sandy and a few others lamblast my "greed" as one of "the rich" between rounds of golf or busting clay pigeons at the gun club.....yet it all would have started while working at $7.75/hour (when min wage was $3.25 or something) back in the late 1980s in combination with a teacher's salary.


ET, as I read your story, it's remarkable how closely we share experience across our lives. I went to work at 16, the earliest VA would allow you to get a work permit necessary for hiring. It was needful to provide for a car and supplement what my parents had saved toward college for me. I had friends who pumped gas in service stations and who worked in many different retail locations. The proliferation of mega stores has reduced the number of those available jobs. In my town, there are not nearly as many jobs for teens as there were when I began looking.

My dad and mother encouraged me toward education from my earliest memories and sought to provide that opportunity from the beginning of my life. My dad had a seventh grade education and my mother was a business college graduate. My dad was able to use GI benefits to further his education and move from factory work into law enforcement which was a passion for him. When I was 8, my mother went back to work in the local social services department. Perhaps some of my attitudes have been shaped by having relatives both involved in human services professions. I have certainly seen the ways that the system can be abused, but I have seen the ways in which people have been able to feed their families and send their children to school ready to learn. Private charity can never provide in the ways that will provide sufficient nutrition. There will always be stories like Ronald Reagan's story about anger over a "young buck" in the checkout line buying steak with food stamps, but most of those who are receiving such aid receive it as the difference between having a sense of food security and having none.

A second part of my experience that is certainly different for those trying to get an education now is that I was able to carry a number of my own expenses for eight years of post-secondary education. Except for my freshman year, I was employed for the other 7 years part-time during the school years and full-time each summer. There were no Pell-grants or federally insured student loans, but I was able to borrow money from the Keesee Fund while in seminary and by working was able to meet our other obligations. My wife also worked for three years of the seminary years. The problem today is that there are so few opportunities for students to graduate without major debt. My wife works in the community college system, especially with economically disadvantaged students. Without the grants and student loans, most of their students could not further their education. Private philanthropy does not have the capacity to provide for this type of need. I'll respond to more later.
"God will never be less than He is and does not need to be more" (John Koessler)

My blog: http://emporiadave.wordpress.com/
User avatar
Dave Roberts
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5971
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2004 2:01 pm
Location: Southside, VA

Re: The Role of Government

Postby Dave Roberts » Fri Mar 28, 2014 11:10 am

ET wrote:
I would agree that it is not in the general philosophy of what is called conservatism to view it as the the duty of government to insure us against the hardships of life. Asking rhetorically...are the four or so mentioned in the article the only hardships one faces in life and, if not, by what standard does one measure when government intrudes and becomes the nanny to protect us from that hardship?

Is life different today in an industrial society compared to the largely agrarian society of pre-1850? You bet. Does that mean we need to address things differently? Definitely. Does it mean that the federal government is the default solution provider? For liberals, the answer is akin to "settled science". For conservatives, if you don't answer that question in the affirmative, you end up being the subject of the article that started this thread. On a more personal level, you are accused of "preying on pride and greed".


Part of the struggle for conservative philosophies is that they look to the past as the normative way. I will be the first to admit that Thomas Jefferson saw the role of government as limited. He also felt that the country was leaving its roots as it began to move from an agrarian economy before the end of his own life. That makes it harder to apply the Jeffersonian ideals in the present since we are in a contrasting type of economy.

Even the industrialized sector of our economy has drastically changed. My maternal grandparents lived in a company town. My grandfather worked for the cotton mill. The mill provided housing at a minimal cost, generated the electricity, purified the water, and disposed of the sewage from the town. Medical care was provided for every worker in the factory and for their families as a part of their salary. The company provided a recreation center, a swimming pool, a theater, and a semi-pro baseball team for its workers' entertainment. Even the churches in town could accept the scrip and exchange it for the company. The company also owned the strip of downtown stores where their workers could shop trading company scrip at full price rather than only being able to convert it to money for $.95 on the dollar for outside uses.When people were too disabled to work, they were allowed to continue to live in that company housing, access the company doctor(s), and receive discounted utility service. That system continued into the 1950's. It was the ultimate socialism with a capitalist overlay. Everyone worked six days a week, ten hours a day for the company.

Unfortunately, retirement was not an issue. There were few who lived long enough to retire in the system. It was only as life-expectancy inched upward that retirement even became a consideration. The sixty-hour week also did not disappear until the late 1940's when overtime laws began to affect the role of the mills. The few who did retire had nothing except Social Security. Retirement was not a big issue for biblical times, because, while there are a few reported in extreme ages, the majority did not live to reach an age of what we now consider senior adulthood. Lives were short, and most people did not reach those ages. Also, in an agrarian society, the family unit cared for those who were unable to carry the full load of physical work.

For many of us, family units are very scattered. If you look at the scattering of my family and my wife's family, you must begin on the east coast in Maryland, draw your line down to Miami, then turn it across the country to San Diego, up the west coast to Washington state, then back across the northern tier of states through the dells of Wisconsin. Family links have become scattered by the industrial revolution and by military deployments as well as individual employment.

Government is not the default solution, but it is also not the problem, despite the out of context use of the quote from President Reagan. It is both a solution and a problem. The rules of society should neither favor the rich or the poor. In the pendulum swings of history, the pendulum swung toward a favoritism toward the poorest in the 1960's and 1970's. It has now swung to favor the richest, who pay to defend their privilege. Neither group should get the free pass.
"God will never be less than He is and does not need to be more" (John Koessler)

My blog: http://emporiadave.wordpress.com/
User avatar
Dave Roberts
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5971
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2004 2:01 pm
Location: Southside, VA

Re: The Role of Government

Postby ET » Sat Mar 29, 2014 5:13 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:Part of the struggle for conservative philosophies is that they look to the past as the normative way.

To some degree, yes, but not really. It's somewhat ironic that the views I hold are labeled "conservative" in the political lexicon of the day. Truthfully, the more accurate "label" is classical liberal. In theory so-called modern "conservative" thought is just as progressive as so-called "progressive" philosophy. F.A. Hayek even wrote an article entitled "Why I am Not a Conservative". I think even Milton Friedman rejected the "conservative" label too. The contention was that limited-government/free-market thought was NOT about "conserving" things just to conserve them, but allowing society to evolve via choices of the people instead of having things dictated to them from above.

Dave Roberts wrote:I will be the first to admit that Thomas Jefferson saw the role of government as limited. He also felt that the country was leaving its roots as it began to move from an agrarian economy before the end of his own life. That makes it harder to apply the Jeffersonian ideals in the present since we are in a contrasting type of economy.

The limited government ideal is about keeping power local and close to the people. Domestic issue should largely be addressed at the state and local level. The national government should concern itself largely with foreign affairs. While society has changed drastically, we don't need the national government to involve itself in educating our children (Dept of Ed), tell us what crops to grow (Dept of Ag), or set "housing policy" (Dept of HUD) and a great many others. I fear, however, that reliance on our masters in D.C. has become so ingrained that few could probably imagine not having many aspects of their lives not being directed from the place.

Dave Roberts wrote: It was the ultimate socialism with a capitalist overlay.

I disagree. It may have been communal in nature, but since the arrangement was not government-imposed and run, then it doesn't fit the definition of socialism, just as the example of the early Christians communal sharing in Acts is not true socialism. If folks want to voluntarily arrange themselves in such a manner, I have no problem with it.

Dave Roberts wrote:Unfortunately, retirement was not an issue. There were few who lived long enough to retire in the system. It was only as life-expectancy inched upward that retirement even became a consideration....Retirement was not a big issue for biblical times, because, while there are a few reported in extreme ages, the majority did not live to reach an age of what we now consider senior adulthood. Lives were short, and most people did not reach those ages. Also, in an agrarian society, the family unit cared for those who were unable to carry the full load of physical work.

Exactly, so the question then becomes at what age can able-bodied folks quit working just because they want to no longer work and then expect others to support them? So we are left with a discussion about how much other people should support the non-disabled/non-infirmed because some arbitrary age has been picked to stop working. Why should those that are able to work not be expected to either completely fund their retirement themselves or keep working?

Sure, I like the idea of dropping out of the work force at 62 or 65 and having money sent to me and my medical expenses paid, but if I can still work, why are others morally obligated to support me? Over 50% of the federal budget is money not to actually provide government services to folks (roads, military, regulatory necessities), but is medicare, medicaid and social security. The federal government is more National Nanny than anything else.

Dave Roberts wrote:Government is not the default solution, but it is also not the problem, despite the out of context use of the quote from President Reagan. It is both a solution and a problem.

Not the default solution? When have you ever heard a D.C. politician (other than a "right wing extremist") say "this is not a problem that is any business of the federal government"?

At the national level (which is where most of our conversations on this topic take place), government is far more often the problem than a solution. But even if we agree on something that government has provided as a so-called "solution", then the question is was it the best solution available or just a convenient way to buy votes? Most government "solutions" are vote-buying schemes that ignore results (the failed war on poverty, for example) and are never debated on their actual results, but judged worthy based on their intentions.

Dave Roberts wrote: The rules of society should neither favor the rich or the poor. In the pendulum swings of history, the pendulum swung toward a favoritism toward the poorest in the 1960's and 1970's. It has now swung to favor the richest, who pay to defend their privilege. Neither group should get the free pass.

I agree with your first statement. However, as long as government has within its powers the ability to reward one group and penalize another group, no matter how sweet-sounding the rhetoric behind either, there will be fight to feed at the government trough. Thus, if you limit the ability to government to possess such powers, there is no trough in which to feed....or at least a greatly reduced one.

It all boils down to this that George Will summarized quite well:
Conservatism is a political philosophy concerned with collective aspirations and actions. But conservatism teaches that benevolent government is not always a benefactor. Conservatism’s task is to distinguish between what government can and cannot do, and between what it can do but should not.

For me, "between what it can do but should not" is the most important point in the political battles of today. Government CAN do a lot of things, but SHOULD it be doing them. My answer will be NO! in far more often than it will be yes.
I'm Ed Thompson, and I approve this message.
User avatar
ET
 
Posts: 2579
Joined: Wed Sep 27, 2006 1:20 pm
Location: Cordova, TN

Re: The Role of Government

Postby ET » Sat Mar 29, 2014 5:15 pm

Dave, back to the charity part of this discussion. I don't think it is feasible to ever go to a completely private system of charity. However, I would argue that the system we have now is largely wasteful. The Department of Agriculture main job these days is to administer food stamps. Why are government bureaucrats who are theoretically tasked with setting policy on farming administering food stamp handouts? Besides the fact that here is no constitutional authority for the federal government to engage in charity, the farther away the administration of benefits are from the recipients, the more subject they are to abuse. Charity endeavors should, in my opinion, be almost exclusively state and local matters. Transferring that money from Nevada or Oregon or Michigan or Oklahoma to D.C. just means there's a big pool of money for politicians and lobbyists to fight over. The closer the programs are to the people, the more say we have in how they are run. "Of, by and for the people" to me means that there shouldn't be a "one-size-fits-all" approach to charity (and a whole lot of other things). The states should be laboratories for what works and what doesn't. If the "blue states" want to try one method and the "red states" want to try another, then so be it. Let them go about it instead of having to fight which way everybody will follow whether they want to or not.

Post secondary education is a rather interesting subject to me, particularly the costs. A multitude of lengthy threads and discussions here have decried the "high cost" of health care. Folks have talked about the immorality of it all, yet college costs have risen TWICE that of health care over the last 30 years or so. However, since higher ed is largely a government-run domain (and a bastion of liberal thought and administration), it seems to be protected from the obvious criticism that if government can't control college costs, how is it going to do so with health care? If liberals can't keep the costs down of institutions that they largely run based on their philosophies, how can their beloved "Big G" keep health care costs contained? But I digress.

Colleges costs are not immune to the law of supply-and-demand. If you enact a large grant and guaranteed loan program and make 5 and 6-figure sums of money available to kids with little job history and very little credit history and most likely very little wisdom to weight costs and benefits, then we should naturally expect to end up with a "student loan crisis" as college costs rise. After all, it is almost obligatory for college administrators to lament their lack of funds, so when Johnny or Suzie shows up with a brand new shiny grant of $5000 from the taxpayers, the finance folks start figuring out where to spend it....raise some person's salary, build a new building, redo the college president's mansion, add an ancient Babylonian Entertainment major. Not to mention that many students probably go to schools they couldn't otherwise afford if not given monetary handouts in the forms of grants or loans.

I don't accept that there are "few opportunities for students to graduate without major debt". I'm sorry, but student loan debt is largely a self-imposed bondage. The military offers college tuition benefits. My employer offers college tuition benefits (which I used to put myself through the last few year of college...took me almost 8 years to get through college, but I did without any debt). There's plain old work. There may be some students who "need" to take on student loans to go to college because they may not live anywhere near one, but I imagine the vast majority are like my son. He wanted to go to a small out-of-state Christian college that offered him a small football scholarship....BUT he/we would have to potentially take out student loans to the tune of 20 to $30,000 depending on increases in the football scholarship as he progressed. We refused to do it. He could go to school here at Univ. of Memphis and not have any debt. But had we allowed him, he'd most likely be at Evangel and loaded with 20 or $30,000 in debt.

However, I would guess that most students simply justify taking out tens of thousands, some times 100,000+, in student loans to go the "best" school for their major. They could go in-state or close to home and live with the parents and have no debt or very little, but "you get what you pay for", so they graduate with 50 or 60k with a degree in art history, "womyn's studies" or "environmental justice" (yes, that is an actual major...at least according to the Nashville paper who quoted a student that had supposedly majored in it at Vanderbilt University). The payments come due and they can't find a job in art history and then we see them at an Occupy Wall Street rally protesting the rich and lamenting the "student loan crisis". Huh?

My youngest is a junior in high school and she refuses to take on any debt. She may not go to a school that makes U.S. News and World Report's "Top 10" rankings or such, but since where your went to school matters little in the end (contrary to what those rankings imply and what the Ivy League crowd would like for you to believe), she says she'll be going to wherever she can go without using the student loan "credit card". If that's locally at the UofM, she's cool with that. If she can put together scholarships for volleyball and others, she may look at Union University, Christian Brothers or others.

At any measure, with some rather modest help from us and my parents, we'll get 3 kids through college without any debt...well, one of them will have $3500 or so, but that's more of a footnote. We've told them that if they make the decision to not take on student loan debt, they'll be way ahead of many of their peers. One of my son's friends at church has $80,000 in debt and was working for a non-profit after college....why so much debt? Because she could get "free money" and kept changing majors. So she entered married life a year or two ago with an $80,000 student loan to saddle onto their married life. But she got an "education". Hooray!!!
I'm Ed Thompson, and I approve this message.
User avatar
ET
 
Posts: 2579
Joined: Wed Sep 27, 2006 1:20 pm
Location: Cordova, TN

Re: The Role of Government

Postby Dave Roberts » Sun Mar 30, 2014 7:56 am

ET, I'm very glad you have the access to education that you do. Memphis is a far different animal from the area in which I live. Let's look at it. While the community college branch (where my wife is employed) provides up to a two-year associate degree or vocational training in several fields, the closest four-year schools are VCU which is 65 miles north, Longwood which is 80 miles northwest, ODU which is 90 miles east, or North Carolina schools which would create out-of-state tuition costs for any one choosing to attend. I didn't include any private schools, but the possibility of living at home and commuting is virtually non-existent. In this high poverty area, more students qualify for Pell Grants than for student loans.

While SNAP (food stamps) was created to help poor people, it was also created and became the domain for the Department of Agriculture, as a way to increase food consumption and to help the farmers who were not as profitable as their Congressmen wanted them to be. Indeed, it was sold as helping reduce farm surpluses back in the late 1960's. I agree that there should be more local input to how it administered, but today the conservative movement has shifted the War on Poverty to the War on the Poor. They are blamed for their own plight. That is not acceptable to me as a Christian. Yes, poor people have made bad decisions, but the child of a single teenage mother whom nobody wanted and who had never been encouraged toward anything is not the one who made the bad choices.

One of the great failures in small-town and rural areas was the "welfare to work program" of the 1990's. There are jobs out there, but often they are 20 to 40 miles from the persons who need them. Poor people do not have dependable personal transportation, and there is no public transit available outside of urban areas, and even in cities, that transit is of poor quality and timing. If we can help people have jobs, then that is good, but the de-industrialization of America which has been a deliberate government program favoring off-shore manufacturing, has gutted the job market for people who are poor or who have limited skills.

ET, you and I began with "white privilege" and with encouragement to achieve. Most of those in poverty did not have that advance on their start.
"God will never be less than He is and does not need to be more" (John Koessler)

My blog: http://emporiadave.wordpress.com/
User avatar
Dave Roberts
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5971
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2004 2:01 pm
Location: Southside, VA

Re: The Role of Government

Postby Sandy » Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:08 am

ET wrote:Dave, back to the charity part of this discussion. I don't think it is feasible to ever go to a completely private system of charity. However, I would argue that the system we have now is largely wasteful. The Department of Agriculture main job these days is to administer food stamps. Why are government bureaucrats who are theoretically tasked with setting policy on farming administering food stamp handouts? Besides the fact that here is no constitutional authority for the federal government to engage in charity, the farther away the administration of benefits are from the recipients, the more subject they are to abuse. Charity endeavors should, in my opinion, be almost exclusively state and local matters. Transferring that money from Nevada or Oregon or Michigan or Oklahoma to D.C. just means there's a big pool of money for politicians and lobbyists to fight over. The closer the programs are to the people, the more say we have in how they are run. "Of, by and for the people" to me means that there shouldn't be a "one-size-fits-all" approach to charity (and a whole lot of other things). The states should be laboratories for what works and what doesn't. If the "blue states" want to try one method and the "red states" want to try another, then so be it. Let them go about it instead of having to fight which way everybody will follow whether they want to or not.


I think the question of private vs. government "charity" is an excellent one. We live in a republic, with a representative government that is "of, by and for the people." If generosity and charity is characteristic of the people, and we claim that it is largely based on our "Judaeo-Christian heritage," then charity is a government responsibility. The question is, at what level? At what point does it smother out private charity, or church-based charity? At what point does it go beyond its purpose, and create chronic dependency? With any kind of charity, there will be "waste" and it will become extremely difficult to discern where the line is between dependence and need, as well as who has the authority to make that determination. There's a level of both of those things that are costs to be considered in any kind of charity provision, government or private. If the level of waste, and exorbitant overcharging that conservatives are willing to put up with in the military budget can be used as a measurement, then government charity has a very long way to go to exhaust toleration for waste.

BTW, the food stamp program is largely administered by the states. The "one size fits all" approach that is part of the federal regulation through the D of A is to prevent states from shortchanging those who are qualified under federal guidelines, but the states administer the program and distribute the funding. Since food production is largely an agricultural product, and the D of A holds the data and information related to its abundance, production, and regulates its trade, it is the logical government agency to regulate food stamps.
Sandy
Sandy
 
Posts: 6268
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2004 5:10 pm
Location: Rural Western Pennsylvania

Re: The Role of Government

Postby Haruo » Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:58 am

And Washington and several other states have taken steps to increase medical coverage funding or some such other charity provision in order to raise it to a level where the Congressional Republicans effort to severely reduce food stamps will be untriggered and thousands of folks who would otherwise have to eat cold turkey if the food bank had it will be able to continue to use their EBT cards.
Haruo (呂須•春男) = ᎭᎷᎣ = Leland Bryant Ross
Repeal the language taxLearn and use Esperanto
Fremont Baptist ChurchMy hymnblog
User avatar
Haruo
Site Admin
 
Posts: 10051
Joined: Sat Aug 14, 2004 8:21 pm
Location: Seattle

Re: The Role of Government

Postby William Thornton » Sun Mar 30, 2014 1:36 pm

Food stamp error rate is between 5 and 6% in GA. The state administers the program but fed dollars pay it; hence, lack of incentive to avoid waste, $138m overpayment in 2013.
My stray thoughts on SBC stuff may be found at my blog, SBC Plodder
User avatar
William Thornton
Site Admin
 
Posts: 10480
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2004 10:30 pm
Location: Atlanta

Re: The Role of Government

Postby Dave Roberts » Sun Mar 30, 2014 1:56 pm

William Thornton wrote:Food stamp error rate is between 5 and 6% in GA. The state administers the program but fed dollars pay it; hence, lack of incentive to avoid waste, $138m overpayment in 2013.


William, an error rate of between 5 and 6% is an excellent rate, actually. That says that your state has done its homework. When the program was originally created, the federal provision for checking applications was only for a thorough check of 1 in 3 applicants. (My mom used to have to pick which applications were actually verified.) When your church helped people, did you get taken by one out of twenty. If so, that was an error rate of 5%.
"God will never be less than He is and does not need to be more" (John Koessler)

My blog: http://emporiadave.wordpress.com/
User avatar
Dave Roberts
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5971
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2004 2:01 pm
Location: Southside, VA

Re: The Role of Government

Postby William Thornton » Sun Mar 30, 2014 3:04 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:
William Thornton wrote:Food stamp error rate is between 5 and 6% in GA. The state administers the program but fed dollars pay it; hence, lack of incentive to avoid waste, $138m overpayment in 2013.


William, an error rate of between 5 and 6% is an excellent rate, actually. That says that your state has done its homework. When the program was originally created, the federal provision for checking applications was only for a thorough check of 1 in 3 applicants. (My mom used to have to pick which applications were actually verified.) When your church helped people, did you get taken by one out of twenty. If so, that was an error rate of 5%.


Actually, it's not good. The error rate has increased substantially. If a business had a billing error rate this high folks would be fired until it were fixed. As I wrote, little incentive.

I eventually moved to a system at church where we gave food to whomever asked for any assistance with no vetting at all. We always had plenty of food to give away. Paying people's bills was always so time consuming and such a crap shoot that I moved away from that unless we knew the people involved.
My stray thoughts on SBC stuff may be found at my blog, SBC Plodder
User avatar
William Thornton
Site Admin
 
Posts: 10480
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2004 10:30 pm
Location: Atlanta

Re: The Role of Government

Postby Dave Roberts » Sun Mar 30, 2014 7:30 pm

One statement that troubles me is the idea that federal aid in poverty is against the constitution. How does one "promote the general welfare" short of helping one's neighbor as a function of government?
"God will never be less than He is and does not need to be more" (John Koessler)

My blog: http://emporiadave.wordpress.com/
User avatar
Dave Roberts
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5971
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2004 2:01 pm
Location: Southside, VA

Re: The Role of Government

Postby Sandy » Sun Mar 30, 2014 7:41 pm

ET wrote:Post secondary education is a rather interesting subject to me, particularly the costs. A multitude of lengthy threads and discussions here have decried the "high cost" of health care. Folks have talked about the immorality of it all, yet college costs have risen TWICE that of health care over the last 30 years or so. However, since higher ed is largely a government-run domain (and a bastion of liberal thought and administration), it seems to be protected from the obvious criticism that if government can't control college costs, how is it going to do so with health care? If liberals can't keep the costs down of institutions that they largely run based on their philosophies, how can their beloved "Big G" keep health care costs contained? But I digress.


Actually, the "cost per student" of a college education hasn't really gone up much more than the general rate of inflation. What has happened to most colleges and universities, over the past two and a half decades, is that their sources of income which were used to offset tuition and fees charged to students have declined. Most colleges and universities, including those operated by state governments, have significant fixed investments in land grants and endowments. The interest off of those investments subsidizes their scholarship funds. What students don't apply for goes directly into the budget. State colleges and universities also have federal and state subsidies, because the people of this country, over about five or six decades of its early development, recognized that the best chance for the preservation of their democratic republic was an educated society, and they realized that the churches and religious institutions of the day which were the primary providers of education, did not have the resources to provide it to everyone.

Tuition and fees at state colleges and universities have increased at a far greater rate than private colleges and universities. That's because over the past 25 years, the state institutions have faced the double whammy of rapidly dropping interest rates, which have reduced the amount of money available from endowed funds, and budget cuts at the state and federal level. Between 2000 and 2008, federal funding for higher education was cut by 20%, and a lot of states have resolved budget issues by doing the same. In a lot of cases, the increases in tuition and fees that students pay are used to cover funding cuts, not increases in expenses.

Here in Pennsylvania, the previous Democratically controlled legislature, and Democratic governor, put an incentive plan in place, and tiered the states colleges and universities, and kept tuition costs from increasing in spite of the Bush administration's education funding cuts. The idea was to fill empty seats at regional schools instead of having students stand in lines waiting for seats at the "big name" schools. That also provided for an even distribution of endowment funds. The state went for eight years without an increase in the education fund, and the tuition and fees at its regional colleges and universities ranked 45th out of the 50 states, increasing less than 2% over an eight year period. Other states have done similar things, with similar results.
Sandy
Sandy
 
Posts: 6268
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2004 5:10 pm
Location: Rural Western Pennsylvania

Re: The Role of Government

Postby ET » Tue May 13, 2014 10:17 pm

Dave, beware, I'm about to unload the dump truck in a series of posts....that beeping sound you hear is getting closer. Been detoured doing other things, so I'm just getting back.

Here is the first of four posts in response:

1) (Regarding student loans) Yes, we can ALWAYS come up for a need for ANY government program, but that doesn't mean that it should be a FEDERAL program nor the size of the current one. The situation you describe doesn't mean we should just drop big piles of cash/debt on kids fresh out of high school. Then, when a large portion of them lack the wisdom to spend other people's money wisely (that is rarely ever done even with adults), find themselves without a job and a truckload of debt, they wish to claim a "crisis" is at hand....but it's one largely of their own making, but we are their enablers with such programs. It amazes me the regular frequency that folks call into Dave Ramsey's radio show with $50,000+ in student loan debt to end up with a degree in art history or something....yet we enable it as taxpayers.

2) I do not buy your "War on the Poor". There are conservative organizations all over the place that simply have different ideas about how to administer such programs or even argue that the feds shouldn't be the ones doing it or that they are severely mismanaged. But try to reform any of them and you get a commercial of Republicans pushing an old lady off a cliff in a wheelchair or accusations of Republicans trying to send people into starvation.

3) Your "de-industrialization of America" is a myth. The number of people employed in manufacturing in this country has been largely steady for 50+ years. It's fluctuated a bit, but has stayed in the 15-20 million range. What has drastically changed is the percentage of jobs that are manufacturing. Just as the percentage of people who were farmers has dropped from some 90% plus down to 2 or 3% over the last century and a half, so has the percentage engaged in manufacturing. However, manufacturing output gas gone up 700% plus over the last 50 years even as fewer and fewer people are employed in that field as a percentage of the population. If you want, I can send you the related presentation by some economist at one of the Federal Reserve meetings a few years ago. If you like 'DATA' and charts such as the ones Keith usually brings to a discussion, then it's a slide presentation you will love. :)

4) There are parts of America that are hurting for skilled workers/tradesman. Mike Rowe of "Dirty Jobs" fame has made this one of his goals: educating young people about the need for skilled craftsman/tradesmen in America. According to his site, there's 600,000 jobs out there if someone has the skills....but we've become OBSESSED in this country with the idea that EVERYONE should go to college and we'll throw around money to get you to go.
I'm Ed Thompson, and I approve this message.
User avatar
ET
 
Posts: 2579
Joined: Wed Sep 27, 2006 1:20 pm
Location: Cordova, TN

Re: The Role of Government...preamble

Postby ET » Tue May 13, 2014 10:22 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:One statement that troubles me is the idea that federal aid in poverty is against the constitution. How does one "promote the general welfare" short of helping one's neighbor as a function of government?

Easy, Dave. The general welfare phrase you quote is in the preamble to the Constitution. The preamble serves the purpose to explain why the Constitution was written and the purpose of the text that followed --- to form a 'more perfect union' and to 'promote the general welfare'. Promote, not provide. The preamble does not specify powers given to the national government, but only explains why the powers enumerated are handed over to the national government. You don't find a phrase like "and whatever else they want to do to promote the general welfare" as a power granted to the federal government in any of the Articles to the Constitution.

I'll give you four short quotes regarding this matter:
"Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare but only those specifically enumerated." - Jefferson

“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on the objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.” - Madison

"[T]he government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government." - Madison, House speech, Jan 10, 1794

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State." - Madison, Federalist Paper #45

The third quote of Madison was in response to a proposal in Congress to use federal money for the charitable purpose of providing some aid to some French refugees from the 1794 Haitian revolution.

The Federalist Papers, as you probably know, were written by the supporters of the Constitution urging for it's ratification. Madison notes that only those power enumerated are proper. All others are reserved to the states. You won't find charitable giving anywhere in the enumerated powers. If citizens are to use government as a charitable organization, they should - in theory - only be doing so through their state or local governments, not the federal government. If Madison couldn't place his finger on a part of the Constitution, which included the preamble, that allowed for charitable work by the federal government, then I find it curious that others find it so easy to do so.
I'm Ed Thompson, and I approve this message.
User avatar
ET
 
Posts: 2579
Joined: Wed Sep 27, 2006 1:20 pm
Location: Cordova, TN

Re: The Role of Government...privilege

Postby ET » Tue May 13, 2014 10:44 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:ET, you and I began with "white privilege" and with encouragement to achieve. Most of those in poverty did not have that advance on their start.

Sorry, Dave, but my response when I hear the term "white privilege" is either :blech: or :horse: As usual, my favorite economist/social commentator has weighed in on that term: The War Against Achievement, Thomas Sowell
The very word “achievement” has been replaced by the word “privilege” in many writings of our times. Individuals or groups that have achieved more than others are called “privileged” individuals or groups, who are to be resented rather than emulated.

The length to which this kind of thinking – or lack of thinking – can be carried was shown in a report on various ethnic groups in Toronto. It said that people of Japanese ancestry in that city were the most “privileged” group there, because they had the highest average income.

What made this claim of “privilege” grotesque was a history of anti-Japanese discrimination in Canada, climaxed by people of Japanese ancestry being interned during World War II longer than Japanese Americans.

If the concept of achievement threatens the prevailing ideology, the reality of achievement despite having obstacles to overcome is a deadly threat. That is why the achievements of Asians in general – and of people like the young black man with no arms – make those on the left uneasy.

If there is something akin to "white privilege" in this country, then can we not say that there is also "Asian privilege"? Do not Asians do better economically and educationally than whites, in general? Do you tell folks of Asian decent that they benefit from "Asian privilege"?

More on this in the last of my posts. Another recent commentary on this term warrants some additional thoughts.
I'm Ed Thompson, and I approve this message.
User avatar
ET
 
Posts: 2579
Joined: Wed Sep 27, 2006 1:20 pm
Location: Cordova, TN

Re: The Role of Government...privilege2

Postby ET » Tue May 13, 2014 10:51 pm

More on "privilege". Excerpts from I Checked My Privilege, Kurt Schlichter, 5/12/2014. Note, Dave, that this commentary is aimed at college students, 'cause I know the last paragraph probably would lead to a knee-jerk reaction of "see, you're just blaming the poor for being lazy"....
Liberals have a new word for what normal people call “success.” They call it “privilege,” as if a happy, prosperous life is the result of some magic process related to where your great-great-great-grandfather came from.

It’s the latest leftist argument tactic, which means it is a tactic designed to prevent any argument and to beat you into rhetorical submission.
***
We can’t have the American people thinking that hard work leads to success; people might start asking why liberal constituencies don’t just work harder instead of demanding more money from those who actually produce something.

This “Check your privilege” meme is the newest trump card du jour on college campuses and in other domains of progressive tyranny. It morphed into existence from the “You racist!” wolf-cry that is now so discredited that it produces little but snickers even among liberal fellow travelers. After all, if everyone is racist – and to the progressives, everyone is except themselves – then no one is really racist. And it’s kind of hard to take seriously being called “racist” by adherents of a political party that made a KKK kleagle its Senate majority leader.
***
The plain fact is that what they understand to be “privilege” is really just what regular people understand is a “consequence.” It is a consequence of hard work, of delaying gratification and of sacrifice.
***
Their poisonous notion of privilege is really just another way for liberals to pick winners and losers based not upon who has won or lost in the real world, but upon who is useful and not useful to the progressive project at any given moment.

This is why you see young people descended from Holocaust survivors tagged as bearers of “privilege” when their tattooed, emaciated grand-parents landed here with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Others who grew up in luxury get to bear the label of “unprivileged” because ten generations ago some relative came from a particular continent.

It’s idiocy. It’s immoral. We need to say so. For too long we’ve put up with this silliness.

I'm sorry, Dave, but I find this notion of "privilege" - "white privilege", that is, for you and I both know that is what is meant whether the folks using the term include the color adjective or not - to be a disservice to every other human being in this country. It demeans the success of those who have worked hard to get where they are - white, black, green or purple. It implies that the failure of others to do better is based significantly on barriers someone else has put in their way, as if that hasn't happened to others in a wide range of racial and ethnic groups throughout all of human history.

Sorry to unload all at once with so much.
Last edited by ET on Fri May 23, 2014 9:53 am, edited 2 times in total.
I'm Ed Thompson, and I approve this message.
User avatar
ET
 
Posts: 2579
Joined: Wed Sep 27, 2006 1:20 pm
Location: Cordova, TN

Next

Return to Politics and Public Policy Issues

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests