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America as two countries… literally?

Discussion in 'Politics & World News' started by Toshi, Feb 26, 2011.

  1. Toshi

    Toshi Harbinger of Doom

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    Last night while mulling over World Bank and census.gov data, trying to make some sense of our perceived poverty and the growing income inequalities as illustrated so nicely this month in Mother Jones, I had a thought:

    What if we separate America into Poor America and Rich America with the cutoff at the 80th percentile of income? (I chose 80th percentile since that's the dividing line on the Mother Jones charts where stagnation occurs below and growth has been occurring above, for better or worse. I also chose it because I'll be comfortably above that line.)

    Let's run with this idea a bit:

    How do the demographics of these two "nations" differ? Clearly they differ in income, so that's not the crux of the matter: We also know that Rich America's incomes are growing rapidly while Poor America remains stagnant. Although the dividing line is at the 80th percentile, what percentage of population lies in each group? How old are these people? What do they do?

    What's the size of each nation's tax base? I know many relatively rich, right-wingers who like to whinge about the tax system being overly progressive, but is Poor America's tax base enough to cover its proportion of services of the combined nations?

    What about educational attainment, teenage pregnancy, health outcomes? If we view these things as cultural values that Poor America continues to cling to rather than dismissing them as mere sequela of socioeconomic status can we come to any conclusions?

    How much immigration is there between Poor America and Rich America? In other words, how much relative economic mobility is there between the lower four quintiles and the top quintile? Also on the topic, does one live in such a nation by virtue of birthright, akin to how citizenship works in most countries?

    How are unemployment and disability rates in each nation--how many of the now-unemployed were living in Poor America beforehand and how many did not pass Go and went straight from Rich America to the unemployment line?

    How do these countries fare on the world scale if we consider them alone? (I know there's that map out there that compares states' gross state product to various world countries' GDP.) Is Poor America the size of, say, Canada, and Rich America the size of Japan?

    Clearly, at some level this view falls apart: services are shared, the labor of one "nation" almost entirely goes to benefit those who live in the other, and Poor America is burdened with a legion of elderly people who, lacking savings, plop themselves on the public dole once they become eligible for SS and Medicare. On the other hand, Poor America probably has a demographic advantage (the flip side of Japan's problem) with an overrepresentation of young, fertile, but poor immigrant families.

    Finally, does this thought exercise clarify anything?

    I'm not certain of the answers to any of these questions, although I think I know the answers to some of them. Will my stereotypes bear witness to reality? Stay tuned over the next several days as I try to sift through data and figure out some answers.
     
    #1 -   Feb 26, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2011

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  2. dante

    dante Unabomber

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    Can't we just draw a boundary along the Mason-Dixon line and call it a day? Sometimes I wonder whether we would've been better off just letting the South secede back in 1860....
     
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  3. Toshi

    Toshi Harbinger of Doom

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    Emmanuel Saez is a Berkeley economist whose focus has been on income and equality, in particular looking hard at the top decile, top percentile, and coning down even farther. His "layman's summary" of his work has some relevant tidbits. The first such tidbit is that people in the top decile are more likely to be workers who draw really high salaries rather than living off inherited wealth than in the Gilded Age. I suppose that's comforting to some degree:

    Who are these people, however, and how much do they make? Saez again has good data, albeit only for the top decile. Note that much of the variability is in the top 1%. Also note that to get into the top decile as of his 2008 data requires a family income of $109,000: not exorbitant but a hell of a lot more than Joe-the-unlicensed-plumber-who-actually-is-named-Samuel makes, for instance.



    Where's the line drawn for our "border," for the 80th percentile? Wikipedia's data, which are not entirely concordant and date back to 2003, suggest that it's about $88,000 for a family. In any case it is exactly at the 80th percentile per our definition of our nations' borders: below that and you're in the slums of Poor America and above that you're allowed to walk the gilded streets of Rich America (nevermind that they're the same streets, shh).

    So how many families fall below and above this threshold? How old are their members? What do they do?

    The former question is easily addressable: Poor America is four times the population of Rich America by the very definition of percentile (80/(100-80)==4).

    Age does play a role in income, but from what I can see in the numbers the differences would not allow for "migration" between Rich America and Poor America for those not already right on the border. In other words, if you start out your working career well below our border income you're not likely to leapfrog above it and stay there simply by virtue of getting older.''

    "What do they do?" is another ill-defined question. Sociologists such as Thompson and Hickey draw the line between the "upper middle class" (85+th %tile) and the "lower middle class" verbally as follows:



    If the sociologists are to be believed there are large, well, social differences between social strata. As long as there's mobility between said strata I don't think most people would object to their very existence, meteoric rise of incomes in the top 1% aside. Onto the next, now…
     
  4. Toshi

    Toshi Harbinger of Doom

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    There's too much demographic variability within states to make such a "clean break" feasible. That said:

     
  5. dante

    dante Unabomber

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    Meh. We can emulate the Pakistan/India split in 1947. Draw a line that mostly follows the prevailing demographics, and then anyone else can move...

    Although I'd gladly trade Utah for SoCal, and maybe Montana, Idaho and N. Dakota in exchange for Austin, TX.
     
  6. dante

    dante Unabomber

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  7. mandown

    mandown Poopdeck Repost

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  8. jonKranked

    jonKranked Press Button, Receive Stupid

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    so, class war, right?
     
  9. zdubyadubya

    zdubyadubya Turbo Monkey

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    You have obviously never been to Utah, Montana or Idaho.
     
  10. stevew

    stevew unique white person

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    you like brown skinned people....just not to many of them.
     
  11. Toshi

    Toshi Harbinger of Doom

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    When looking at the tax data it is important to avoid two of the deceptive tactics that I've noticed some of my right-wing colleagues using: avoiding contextualizing the contributions to the tax base with the underlying income distribution; and use of Federal tax rates alone instead of effective overall taxation rates.

    So, first, some context. Wealth distribution isn't the same as income distribution but for the purposes of this post it's close enough, plus the Mother Jones' article already had it graphed out very nicely:



    Take-home point: over 80% of the wealth is in the hands of the top quintile.

    Next, the effective marginal tax rates by income decile:



    Here are the same data (roughly) from a different source:



    Note that, while progressive, the effective taxation rate is still above 30% for the fourth decile on up and tops out under 40% for the average schmoe in the top decile. (Also note that cunning people waaaaaay up at the top of the scale, such as Warren Buffet, can pay much lower effective tax rates if they play their cards right. We're not talking about such corner cases here, though.) I think everyone would agree that the effective tax rates are not unfair to those at the upper end of the spectrum: there's no 90% marginal taxation or the like. There's never a penalty to earn more, right-wing hyperbole aside.

    Speaking of right-wing hyperbole, there is stuff out there such as this graph that shows that the total taxes paid by the top 1% of earners is greater than paid by the bottom 95%. Out of context that seems stunning. Take into account the tremendous income and wealth inequalities as well as the fair (my assessment) effective tax rates at each quintile and you can see that it's not shocking at all but rather merely a reflection of the pre-existing inequality. If anything, people should be shocked by the inequality, not by the tax burden.

    On the flip side of the tax equation is how much in government services do families in each quintile receive. From page 64 of the Tax Foundation's document:



    One can see that spending is more or less equal across quintiles, with the top quintile actually deriving more value from the government than all but the lowest (thank public education and interest on bonds for this). I'd argue that the ancillary benefits that the government provides in that its military secures our cheap-oil way of life disproportionately benefit the top quintile as well, but that's another topic. In any case, there's at least rough parity of benefits derived, as opposed to the amount paid in that is proportional to the (very unequal, top-heavy) income distribution.

    So now that we have the context, here's the contributions:



    Just over 40% of the state and local tax burden is borne by the top quintile, and just over 50% of the Federal tax burden is borne by the same, for an overall 48.8% figure. Again, over 80% of the wealth is in that top quintile so 48.8% is batting considerably underweight, to mix metaphors.

    On the other hand, Poor America has 4 times the number of people as Rich America, and since services are distributed with rough parity then one can see that, yes, there is redistribution in action: Poor America is ponying up 50% of the tax dollars yet getting 80% of the services rendered.

    That's the price of civil society.

    I hope that showing the true effective tax rates (not that progressive!) and the relatively low tax burden given the context of the already-existing wealth distribution inequalities shows that our system is hardly the unjust nightmare that some would claim it to be.
     
  12. I.van

    I.van Monkey

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    Who is going to clean the toilets in Rich America?
     
  13. Toshi

    Toshi Harbinger of Doom

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    Wikipedia actually has a very nice discussion of the good-but-not-perfect correlation between educational achievement and income (numbered citations at the link):

    So it's a good idea to get an education but it won't assure you "success" as measured by income. Part of this reflects the observation that not all college students should be there, and not all those who should go to college are able to, and part of this probably also reflects my buddies over in the science world with their PhDs hanging around their neck who choose lower pay for potentially more intellectual reward.

    Another part of this disparity is that different cultures value different things. Poor America's culture might not value education as high as that of the citizens of Rich America. Implausible? Unless one invokes a theory of innate differences in intelligence (unlikely to fly in this day and age) how else can one explain data such as these from the Austin, TX metro area?

    Those quick on the draw have probably already noted that I have assumed that there's a link between ethnicity and whether one belongs to Rich or Poor America. There is at least a weak link at the very least. Data from Austin, TX metro area 1990 Census as before demonstrate marked differences in earned income. Interesting to note is that Asians, although possessing much more education, actually didn't make that much, bringing in 59% of the income that white people made. This is difficult to explain unless one again comes to the conclusion that cultural preferences, such as for educational achievement over immediate financial gain, dictate choices for large swaths of the population. With that in mind the 2000 Austin metro area Census data that show Asians now making 80% of the income that white people made could possibly be interpreted as the delayed payoff.

    Teen pregnancy is another topic that Wikipedia covers pretty well. The collective authors note that teenage pregnancy is associated with lower educational levels, higher rates of poverty (redundant?), lower rate of marriage, having been raised by a single parent, or having experienced or witnessed abuse. Having been raised in foster care, having been born to a teenage mother or having a sister who gave birth in her teens also increases the likelihood of teen pregnancy.

    How do these associations tie in with our Poor America, Rich America split? Wikipedia notes that 14% of teen pregnancies in Britain happen to the 30% least deprived, while "around half" occur in the 30% most deprived, and also notes that this strong association with poverty holds true in at least California. Assuming the link persists it's probably safe to state that Rich America will be significantly underrepresented in teen pregnancies. Poverty begets poverty, or how does that saying go?

    Health outcomes are a slam dunk: the Russell Sage Foundation neatly summarizes that Rich America smokes less, is less obese, has a lower incidence of diabetes, has a lower incident of work-limiting disability, exercise more often, and subjectively report feeling healthier. To the rich go the spoils, and this includes health benefits: not just insurance, which clearly comes with money, but actual health outcomes.

    Teen pregnancy leads to complications, and complications lead to hospitalization and increased health care system cost, to the order of $9.1 billion in 2004 per Wikipedia. Teen pregnancy is also much more likely to occur in Poor America yet citizens of Poor America are less likely to have private health insurance per both common sense and the Russell Sage Foundation's figures. Add these things up and you can see that health care is therefore a pretty significant mechanism through which Rich America (which staffs the hospitals that provide charity care and contributes at a greater rate to the tax base) effectively subsidizes Poor America.

    Apart from the cultural aspect of educational expectation and achievement, however, I'm at a loss to say whether the cart comes before the horse: is it poverty that leads to these poor decisions (teen pregnancy) and health outcomes, or is it these poor decisions and underlying health problems that lead to poverty?

    Looking at economic mobility might help answer these questions.
     
  14. dan-o

    dan-o Turbo Monkey

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    Canadians.
     
  15. mandown

    mandown Poopdeck Repost

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    I just want to be on the side where The Who plays.
     
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  16. Pesqueeb

    Pesqueeb bicycle in airplane hangar

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    Must Spread, :thumb: for the Simpsons reference though. :rofl:
     
    #16 -   Feb 26, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2011
  17. X3pilot

    X3pilot Texans fan - LOL

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    Mason-Dixon line, really?

    From you who was offended at obese WI remarks?

    Goddamit, that causes me butt hurt at level insanity but to me, that's like saying all blacks in the South sit around eatin' chicken and watermelon while tap dancin'.

    I've lived in eastern PA and was born and raised in GA. I'm here to tell you, the ratio of redneck racist in PA to what's in GA would stagger your mind.

    You ever been to Scranton, Wilkes Barre, or anywhere around PA that's not Pittsburgh or Philly?

    Remember our friend PSP who was from northern NJ?

    Get off the geographical stereotypes.
     
  18. Toshi

    Toshi Harbinger of Doom

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    Relative economic mobility is the ability to move between quintiles, or to immigrate between Poor America and Rich America. Absolute economic ability equates to the saying that "a rising tide lifts all boats", which has been shown empirically to be an utter falsehood: it raises the big, well maintained boats and leaves the dinghies behind at low tide.

    Americans believe in the American Dream. In addition to being a truism that happens to be true, as I'll attempt to show, it manifests itself in some funny ways. For instance, Alesina et al. demonstrate that in Europe both leftists and the poor are demonstrably unhappy over income inequality, while in America the poor aren't unhappy but only rich leftists, unaffected by said inequality by definition, are displeased.

    The Economic Mobility Project is a treasure trove of data on this subject. Off the bat they establish that Americans (aggregate) have deeply ingrained beliefs that assume the presence of a high degree of relative economic mobility:



    Unfortunately this isn't true. The United States has less relative economic mobility than every other developed nation in this admittedly limited survey save for the UK:



    Here's the actual paper from which the pretty chart was created: http://www.international.ucla.edu/cms/files/corak.pdf . Its opening paragraph can stand alone:

    Part of the between-generation similarities arises from genetics and the second order effects of the same: smart kids often have smart parents, and in addition to being (or because they are?) smart these parents provide a stable environment for the kid, encourage learning and educational achievement, don't beat them, etc. Therefore we wouldn't expect there to be no correlation at all between generations. However, these effects have no reason to be more pronounced in the US than in other countries assuming equal access to quality education.

    Yeah, that is a big assumption, isn't it? I haven't seen anything so far that convinces me that low educational achievement isn't usually largely due to cultural factors including the quality and quantity of effort put in: again, see the disproportionate number of Asians (and Indian-as-in-the-subcontinent) in doctoral programs.

    So far this section isn't looking to rosy for Poor America: although belief in the American Dream of relative economic mobility is strong, reality shows that immigration from Poor America to Rich America is difficult. The Economic Mobility Project notes that 42% of children born in the bottom quintile and 39% of children born in the top quintile (aka Rich America) end up in the same quintile as their parents. Furthermore, 70% of children born in the bottom quintile do not "pull themselves up" past middle-income status, and all statistics look more dire for black children than for those of other ethnicities.

    There is some hope for those looking for a meritocracy: 19% of children from the bottom quintile who earn a college degree jump into the world of Rich America (5% of those without a degree do this, for comparison).

    It is possible to reach Rich America--the chosen country where outcomes are better, the land more lush, and year-after-year income growth still existent--if one starts out in Poor America. Getting a college degree helps immensely, and more generally the data show upward mobility to be equal between black and white children with the same test scores. It's not easy, however, and is actually harder than in most other countries.
     
    #18 -   Feb 26, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2011
  19. Toshi

    Toshi Harbinger of Doom

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    The disability question is easy to address thanks to Russell Sage:



    This makes sense in that if one is unable to work then it'll be tough to not drift down to the bottom of the income heap. I have no data on the veracity of disability claims, let alone broken down by quintile, so I can't comment on that other than to say that there are a whole damn lot of people in this nation on Social Security disability benefits. Nation of hard work, my ass. :D

    Unemployment isn't as simple as it seems, at least when considering what quintile people were before they were unemployed (and where they ended up, assuming they didn't drop out of the labor force: see measure U-6 in Table A-15 from the BLS for the current US figure of unemployed + underemployed + dropped out, currently a shameful 16.1%). After all, not all people who were laid off during this current recession were not in the lowest income quintile: think laid-off financial analysts, teachers, firemen, etc.

    Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find good data on this and census.gov's American FactFinder is down. I did find a paper by Carroll et al. that seems to indicate that people in with "relatively low permanent income" don't engage in precautionary saving when faced with the probability of being unemployed in a year's time whereas "a statistically significant precautionary effect emerges for households at a moderate level of income." I'm not quite sure what to make of this, honestly, but it may explain the paradoxical overuse of near-usurious "payday loan" companies by the poor.
     
  20. Toshi

    Toshi Harbinger of Doom

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    This final question should be the easiest to answer. We know the total GDP of the US in international dollars along with other nations' GDP at PPP thanks to the World Bank. We also know mean incomes by quintile as well as a little arithmetic.

    GDP_tot = GDP of America (aggregate), aka Rich + Poor America.
    GDP_rich = GDP of Rich America
    GDP_poor = GDP of Poor America
    pop = population of America, let's say 300 million
    R = mean income of top quintile, aka Rich America.
    P = mean income of bottom four quintiles in aggregate, aka Poor America.

    GDP_tot = 0.80 * pop * P + 0.20 * pop * R
    14,119,000 million USD = 0.80 * pop * P + 0.20 * pop * $172,200
    14,119,000 million USD = 240 million * P + 60 million * $172,200
    ==> Mean per capita income of Poor America is $15,800. I think my math is correct but this seems oddly low…

    GDP_rich = 0.20 * pop * R = 60 million * $172,200 = $1.03 * 10^13 USD.
    GDP_poor = 0.80 * pop * P = 240 million * $15,800 = $3.79 * 10^12 USD.

    What countries do these figures correspond to, assuming my math is correct? Rich America is just ahead of China. (Is Rich America's growth rate equal to that of China, though? Hmm…) Poor America, on the other hand, is just a bit bigger in GDP than India, although India is growing rapidly while Poor America Stagnates if not shrinks slightly. Both are still quite large, in any case, although the growth trajectory for each is decidedly different.
     
  21. Toshi

    Toshi Harbinger of Doom

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    What I don't know, however--and why I didn't condense all this, make it a blog post, and summarize it as best as I am able to--is what all this means. Both Rich and Poor America are giant countries even when considered as separate entities, but each's inhabitants have much different futures in store for them. In one land education begets education while in another poverty begets poverty.

    Is this a problem that can be fixed? Does it reflect cultural mores/values (ie, lack of emphasis on educational attainment in Poor America)? Does it reflect a failing of our society or is it simply a byproduct of our makeup and history?

    I simply don't know. Any thoughts?
     
  22. stoney

    stoney Part of the unwashed, middle-American horde

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    So let me get this straight. You have given up on our ability to be even remotely environmentally sound and moved on to hating your socio-economic status.

    This seems like a big step back for a guy just shy of being a genius, who went to Harvard, Med School, and is now working as doctor doing x-ray's? Have you ever tried just enjoying what's in front of you?

    If you want to help people so much, then lead by example... give away your income to those in greater need. Or, go work as a GP in a low income neighborhood for what you can make from govt sponsored health care.

    I am being pretty damn cynical here, but the fact is nothing economically will change in this country until there is some type of revolt.

    The people on the top are aware of their risks; people on the bottom are too damn lazy to do anything about it; those in the middle keep holding out hope that they can work their way up, despite the bottom pulling them down while the top is kicking.

    Stats and pretty pictures aren't going to do a damn thing to change the status quo.

    Unless you intend to lead the revolution, why not just live your life? Enjoy it in a manner that you see fit: help others by donating you skills/money, be environmentally sound in your daily life, and God forbid treat your wife to some of the nicer things. Get her a real apartment (with no bugs) and a car - even if it's a Scion xA (for the great mileage and no battery).

    I'm not saying go cut down a 500 year old redwood or burn a housing project to the ground. But dude, live.
     
  23. Toshi

    Toshi Harbinger of Doom

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    That's what that study showed and that's their actual wording ("rich leftists" heh). That's not my viewpoint: although I fully acknowledge all that my parents, the school system, etc. have done to get me to this place I'm not guilty about it. I have no self-loathing about my place in Rich America. :D

    In fact, I think you've misread this whole thread. Most of us reading this are within Rich America or are within spitting distance of it. We value education. We don't screw our futures up by doing stuff like getting a girl pregnant in high school then dropping out. It's just that 80% of the nation doesn't think this way, doesn't act this way, and is stuck in a rut.

    Am I going to give my money to random poor people voluntarily? Nope. (Will I protest if the top marginal tax rate goes to 40 or 50%, on the other hand? No to that one as well.) I just thought it was curious to look at the data out there a different way, since I thought the Mother Jones charts floating around told a one-sided tale.
     
  24. Toshi

    Toshi Harbinger of Doom

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    And with regard to "enjoying what's in front of me", don't worry. I actually enjoy looking up junk and writing about it--I don't write these posts out of some self hatred. :D I can't ride the motorcycle, practice the trumpet, or masturbate furiously while crying all the time, ya know… gotta have something else to do, too.

    Incidentally, I test drove a few cars with the wife today. You may or may not be interested in my thoughts on the same, being a fellow OTter. Check link to ride pics thread in sig.
     
  25. stoney

    stoney Part of the unwashed, middle-American horde

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    I see no ride pics anywhere...
     
  26. Toshi

    Toshi Harbinger of Doom

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  27. Changleen

    Changleen Paranoid Member

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    @Joker,

    You seem to have totally missed the point here. Ever heard of 'don't shoot the messenger'? Especially when he is well researched and informed.

    @Toshi,

    I have been disengaged from US politics for a while now, and only recently have started paying attention again when the headlines once again seemed to stop making sense. Your findings reflect my impression that more than ever the US seems to be deluding itself about it's own state. Five years ago America couldn't be true to itself about the rest of the world and now more than ever it can't even be honest with itself. Polarization has gone so far now neither side can see anything close to straight, and I think that your thought-leaders (hah) are actively trying to distort their audiences views. Making descisions based on false evidence is always a great idea...
     
    #27 -   Feb 27, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2011
  28. Pesqueeb

    Pesqueeb bicycle in airplane hangar

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    Sounds like your keeping up to me.
     
  29. Toshi

    Toshi Harbinger of Doom

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    Part of the reasoning behind this thread is that we seem to all accept vastly different standards of living without batting an eye when the differences are over a national border: note that progressives in the US are generally not crying themselves to sleep over poverty in Mexico.

    Would we similarly not care if Poor America were its own country? Should we care?
     
  30. Whoops

    Whoops Turbo Monkey

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    First they came for the lower quintile...

    By your logic, won't America will be whittled down till it's only Bill and Melinda Gates left.

    Reductio ad absurdum (or whatever the Latin is) I know... but do you think if such an idea were implemented, the richest - who would be the agitators for change - would stop at one cycle of expunging poor(er) people?
     
  31. Toshi

    Toshi Harbinger of Doom

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    I'm not suggesting that we actually set up borders in our neighborhood to keep Poor Americans out.

    Instead, just as with my contentious affirmative action posts, I'm suggesting that there's a self-perpetuating culture in Poor America--across ethnic boundaries, maybe fostered by living with people who believe the same way--that allows for an irrational belief that things are going to be better but simultaneously doesn't promote the things that can be seen obejctively to lead to a "better" life such as decreased teen pregnancy and higher educational attainment.
     
  32. mandown

    mandown Poopdeck Repost

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    There are people who care, but that issue is given a lower priority because it is outside our border. By definition, " the collective we" don't care about issues outside our border until they result in an appearance of significant impact to life inside the border. That is the nature of a country.

    As for The American Dream, look to Fear and Loathing. Hunter nails the definition as big and shiny and loud, and something that Poor America is willing to work for, if that "work" is a game they are willing to play, even if they see the gamble generally yields a loss to those playing. Poor America wants to be lost in that dream, and Rich America knows that, and Rich America knows they have a symbiotic relationship that depends on Poor America's efforts and spending. When was the last time you were aware of a Rich American concerned about the American Dream because they thought it was something they wanted to come true for themselves? Poor America believes in it because it gives them hope (Aristotle said "hope is the dream of a waking man").
     
  33. Toshi

    Toshi Harbinger of Doom

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    Why is this the nature of a country? Are we tied to our countrymen because of shared values... or because we share a birth certificate? If it's the former then I'd argue that there's a growing cultural gap that may lead to even less people from Rich America caring about the plight of our own nation's poor.
     
  34. mandown

    mandown Poopdeck Repost

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    Because that is what was thought of when the word "country" was invented. People were families, then tribes, then villages, then cities, then states, then countries. It started off as clusters of people with commonalities, but expanded as there was a desire to expand inclusion of others with appreciated, though more different similarities. Until the dissimilarities become significant enough to redraw the borders, the country as we know it will stay with the currently drawn borders. When things become different enough to change, the borders will either be redrawn, or the architecture within the borders will be redesigned, either through voluntary change or revolution.
     
  35. stoney

    stoney Part of the unwashed, middle-American horde

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    Mandown has a pretty solid point there.
     
  36. mandown

    mandown Poopdeck Repost

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    I'd argue that your definition of "caring" is leaning toward "sympathetic." I pointed out that Rich America is aware of the symbiotic relationship it had with Poor America. If Poor America doesn't work for Rich America and buy the products sold by Rich America, then Rich America's only hope is outside the borders in the forms of other consumers and labor. However, America isn't in the export business and hasn't been for some time, though we have been pushing labor south of the border and overseas for quite a while. Rich America cares how things are in other places, because it can redefine the economic borders by shifting the labor pool. However, that is shortsighted because it redistributes the wealth outside of political borders, while removing cash from those who buy their products and giving it to those who don't or can't.
     
  37. Toshi

    Toshi Harbinger of Doom

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    Poor America isn't the market: Poor America's GDP is $15k as compared to the $30k in government services received per capita. Barring individual level "deficit spending" (credit card debt, largely), those numbers indicate that they're not consuming to a great degree.

    Rich America, for better or worse, are the consumers thanks to their incomes, which are admittedly based in large part on the cheap labor that Poor America provides.
     
  38. MMike

    MMike A fowl peckerwood.

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    If someone wins the lottery would they need to apply for citizenship?
     
  39. Westy

    Westy the teste

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    http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/22/what-is-the-most-racist-city-in-america/
     
  40. Toshi

    Toshi Harbinger of Doom

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    Maybe that's what explains how lottery winners tend to not stay rich for long: they forgot to emigrate! :D