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Why do we NOT invest effectively in the poor and marginalized so they can participate in the global economy?

Nearly half of the world's population cannot effectively participate or contribute to the global economy. Basic economic theory holds that each 'participant' in the economy is a 'unit of productivity' providing a return on investment. In other words, it's more profitable to have people working and consuming than not. Yet nations continue to allow and accept that the poor and marginalized are - to borrow from another popular phrase - 'too big to succeed'.

In my view, the (relatively) small investment in infrastructure, education, and basic healthcare in the poor and marginalized will be more than made up by their increased productivity and spending. The rich think they're rich now, just imagine the wealth created by having 3 billion more people buying their stuff? I know there are obvious problems with this: corruption, unified effort, immediate ROI, etc. - but why is this such a 'tough sell' to national leadership? They're always looking for ways to increase the tax base.

3+ billion people now contribute to the world gross productivity. What if that were doubled? To me, this is the next threshold of economic growth -bringing in those who have been left out. Yet, we don't even talk about it. What do you think?

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    Oct 28 2012: I just have to say... "Too big to succeed" should become a meme used for describing the way most leadership views the poor. It's tragic, and funny at the same time. If that's your line, it's a brilliant literary flourish.

    Unfortunately I'll explain the whole problem to you though. The earth can not afford to have 3 billion more consumers of oil. Period. That's what it all comes down to. We don't know what we're going to replace oil with in the developing world long term.

    Basically, if the world follows our example, we're all in trouble, but it's not about consumption, it's about consumption of oil. Untill we invent our way out of the oil crisis, there isn't enough energy to fix the poverty crisis, and it's not because we can't create the jobs, it's we can't pay people enough to buy oil. The solution is to create numerous local grass roots green technology companies and replace our transportation infrastructure, creating a bunch of construction and manufacturing jobs, which are many poor peoples leg up into the middle class. That goes up against the oil lobbies, monsanto, and numerous other interests that have strong control over our politicians.

    We could give people 40 hour a week jobs, if they road electric bikes built locally to work every day. Most people who work hard want big sexy cars nowadays, that requires more innovation. Education, food, and medical care are the easiest sells though. If you get those things, and you aren't producing something, it is kinda your own fault, honestly, or there is something severely broken in your system.

    Not to pick on Barack Obama, but he recently said something akin to "those jobs aren't coming back. Unskilled labor jobs are gone, I want to bring high skill labor jobs into this country"... In general, he's better for most middle class folks, but... that statement, is horrible for them. Unskilled labor, is how you maintain stability, while you become skilled, and get into the middle class.
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      Oct 28 2012: I am reminded, on reading your last paragraph as well as Juniper's response below, that one of the academics in my state, in commenting on the disparity between the sorts of jobs being created and the results of education here, recently commented, "We are making great jobs for other people's children." Local employers cannot meet their demand for highly skilled employees from the pickings they have in this state and so must import them from other states and countries while local unemployment remains high.

      Beyond this, I am fearful when those discussing education at a policy level sometimes claim that people are over-investing in higher levels of education. While in a sense this could be true, the people making these claims are typically those who mean it may not be a good investment for other people's children. They intend for their own to seek higher education, of course.
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        Oct 28 2012: "Beyond this, I am fearful when those discussing education at a policy level sometimes claim that people are over-investing in higher levels of education. While in a sense this could be true, the people making these claims are typically those who mean it may not be a good investment for other people's children. They intend for their own to seek higher education, of course. "

        Very well put... They want higher education for their children, and when push comes to shove they vote almost unanimously against even trade skill programs for other peoples. Most modern neocons, really want a class system.

        I think I can say something to you that might help put things into perspective a bit, and be a good answer to the initial question though. When teachers, are willing to fight for a pension program, and living wage, for the farmers that feed them... Farmers will side with teachers over conservatives on taxes. When teachers make 60k a year with pensions, and the men who work 8 hours a day on heavy machinery in the sun to feed them, make minimum wage with no health insurance... It's really hard for the "working class" to unite, or feel like a cohesive unit.

        Every time a teacher goes on strike a hundred farmers turn into anti tax conservatives, lol.
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          Oct 28 2012: This is one of those things that is very different in different places. In my state and in the only district where I have ever taught in k12, a ten year veteran of the classroom with a PhD would make maybe $40,000, and I don't remember a teacher's strike here in the last twenty years.
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          Oct 29 2012: I think this stream of responses are a great window into answering the question. The practical concerns shown here (and elsewhere in the many responses so far) are significant and concrete. It's becoming plain to me that the reason we're not investing substantially (I'm referring very 'macroly') in the poor and marginalized market of 3 billion potential economic contributors is that we're just not ready to structurally and socially. We have so many legacy issues, histories, methods, concerns, (etc.) rooted in pre- 21st century methods of living on the planet that we just can't envision the possibility of it. We can see why we can't, but not how we could. So for me, the question has been answered as to why we are NOT investing. Possibly someone would ask how we could make it a viable effort. Thanks so much, everyone, for participating.
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        Oct 29 2012: I think you misunderstand me a little bit. In your town, teachers may be paid quite fairly, that actually sounds perfectly reasonable... In your town however, at least 20% of the 30-40 year old men and women have a job, that, to some extent amounts to "do this action, over, and over, and over", and to them, 40k a year with a pension sounds so tasty.

        I'm not defending the perception held by the average farm hand, warehouse person, or factory worker, merely expressing how they get suckered in. I think most teachers don't realize that to a good chunk of people, they're "rich"... Lots of people especially in big cities... Will never own a home, most teachers leave a paid off one to their children, in the nice part of town.

        In California 60k, isn't wonderful, but it can buy you a house if you don't waste it, especially if you marry a teacher... 9$ an hour, will never, and if you get a raise, without a degree for management, watch out, because you're getting too expensive for a laborer. This is how many poor people even here still get suckered into the whole, "taxes are too high, they don't get it, and they don't respect us". In reality, wages of working class people are too low, but that used to be a liberal cause... and it's really not anymore, because government workers, and educated people rarely feel the pinch anymore.

        In many ways the liberals have become the party of "robots will do our labor, so we don't have to worry about you"... But, the robots aren't here yet, so the workers are getting wrestless.

        Your district doesn't have to strike, they just have to see a strike, anywhere in the country on Faux News... the only source of information that doesn't make them scared that atheists have taken over America. Suddenly a couple hundred lumberjacks are thinkin "Those elitist, lazy, pricks... We should cut their funding..."
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          Oct 29 2012: This again may differ by location. I do not think your claim is necessarily correct that most teachers can leave paid off homes in a nice part of town to their kids. It depends where they live and the income of their spouses.

          It would not be true where I live. It certainly would not be true where my sister lives.

          Maybe it is true where you live.
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          Oct 29 2012: I absolutely understand that many people, and the unemployed in particular, are much worse off financially than teachers. I make no argument there.

          I think only that you- and all too many others- may have a distorted view of teachers' lifestyles nationwide. I don't know any teachers with boats or jetskis or who can on a teacher's salary buy a home in the nice part of town, as I think you put it.

          I am not saying that there are no such people but only that the popular idea of public school teachers as being coddled, overpaid for easy work, and so forth is more a bias than an accurate picture.
      • Oct 29 2012: Yes ... I agree with you Fritzie and thank you for explaining this idea better than I was able to. I feel like the old saying "Let the best man win" could be adapted in this context to say: "Let the best man win as long as he is my son."
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        Oct 29 2012: First off... I disagree... I don't know where you live, that two people can't buy a house with a household income of 80k a year... You could do it in California now that houses are worthless.

        Yeah, if you want to also own a boat, or a jet ski, or a big gas guzzling SUV, or luxury, as quite a few teachers I've met have... Then you can't buy a house with 40k a year per person. Or, if you have 4 kids... Those are incredibly luxurious decisions though, that some teachers, but more often administrators, just see as "perks". The SUV and 4 kids are the most common over reach.

        The average child costs 250 thousand dollars to raise, and the world is overpopulated... but many teachers don't see having children as a luxury.

        Even if these are not things you've seen in your community... Still, you must understand, that even if you cannot buy a house, for some reason on a teachers salary. It is important to care as much about the people making even less than that... and that's who the Republicans pretend to care about.

        My point was very simple, when you make less than half what a teacher does, for much more miserable labor, it's easy to get angyr when you hear about a teacher strike. It's an emotional response, not a rational one, but it is very predictable, and it does occur.
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        Oct 30 2012: "I am not saying that there are no such people but only that the popular idea of public school teachers as being coddled, overpaid for easy work, and so forth is more a bias than an accurate picture"

        And I'm saying, this is the horror of the liberal bubble... It is very difficult to be fired from a public school, almost no one on the planet has the job security, of any public sector employee, and you will never earn below a living wage... 90% of human beings on the planet, have absolutely no conception of what it is to live that good for one week of their life.

        You are, dramatically overpaid, for a very healthy and comfortable work load and two months off. There is not a single teacher on the planet, who would rather go pick cotton or strawberries, even if the pay was competitive. The average man lives an excruciating portion of his life in physically uncomfortable, abject misery, that you will never understand, for whatever minimum wage is.

        The people who make your phone, do the same thing for two dollars a day... because 8 bucks an hour to an American... was too much. Not only do people in institutions of government, often funded by the left, make more money than anyone in the private sector, and still feel like they have a right to strike... but they refuse to pay people minimum wage for the products they buy. "Teachers deserve more money, and when you give it to us, there is no reason we should spend it here creating jobs, that's protectionism"
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          Oct 30 2012: I know well how wedded you are to your beliefs, so there is no further point for me in responding.
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        Oct 31 2012: Numbers don't reflect beliefs, they reflect reality... Calling this a belief is immoral and dishonest. Refusing to accept reality, is not a valid perspective for argument

        Numbers don't lie... and by the numbers, teaching has become one of the most lucrative professions in the country as labor has been eviscerated. We can disagree on whether or not that is a good investment, in fact, ultimately we would probably both agree it is a good investment. We cannot disagree on reality.

        From the BLS 2010 median agriculture pay 18,000. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/farming-fishing-and-forestry/agricultural-workers.htm

        Kindergarten teachers in 2010 48,800... not including benefits and pensions... http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Education-Training-and-Library/Kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm

        High school teachers in 2010 53,000.... http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm

        Average human being?... 1,225 dollars.... I lied about teachers being in the top 10% worldwide... It's actually the 1%... along with everyone here who makes more than 34,000 dollars a year. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2082385/We-1--You-need-34k-income-global-elite--half-worlds-richest-live-U-S.html

        @ James Kelly... Again... I'm not on team conservative, I think both sides of this argument are stupid, irrational, and emotional in nature, and they are degrading to the intellect of the average human being... However, what you have just expressed, is exactly what emotionally manipulates, and angers conservatives into thinking all liberals are evil communists...

        Your first two complaints, are both absolute nonsense. "a debt of over 35k"... Agriculture worker, 18,800, high school teacher, 53,000... In one year, a high school teacher makes enough more than an agriculture worker, to pay back the entire debt. Every year, you make enough more than a farmer, to buy him/her a 4 year degree. Buying an overpriced house is your own fault.
        • Oct 31 2012: Above the poverty line or not, did your most unfortunate strawberry picker go to college with a debt of over 35k, 1k/month mortgage on a house that is not worth it's original cost? We've kept our "other" credit debt to a minimum (ie credit cards and loans) while helping with 50% of our son's college expenses out of pocket. Perhaps these phone factory workers who make $2 a day do not have the same opportunities? There will always be slightly sadder stories down this "whose got a worse off story" conga line. We have a household take home of 60k/yr with pension. Sure I'd love to go on an exotic whirlwind tour of Europe's landmarks. I'm happy with a once a year trip to places like the Grand Canyon and trips to see her parents in San Diego and my parents in Boston. Numbers do in fact lie out of context. You speak of reality but how much of reality does one need to see that the very people who educate and by all sense of the word "raise" the next generation of would be taxpayers and policy makers and thinkers and laborers and so on, do in fact need to be paid more. Instead you and others are more than willing to have the audacity to say that they are getting paid well enough and in fact "dramatically overpaid"! She brings work home so it's not just a 8 hour job and keep in touch with students over the years to see their progress. We are at weddings and college gradations over the summers of former students, so the 2 months she gets off is not like we are spending it on elaborate vacations or just laying around. One last thing - every year the budget for education spending have been cut - who do you suppose is paying for the classroom decorations including seasonal and permanent fixtures? Out of pocket every year my wife spends over $400 for decorations, $100 towards kids lunches who forgot their lunch money/lunch bag. $200 on gardening supplies until just 2 years ago when the school decided to help fund her garden project to name a few.
    • Oct 29 2012: @David Hamilton

      "Basically, if the world follows our example, we're all in trouble, but it's not about consumption, it's about consumption of oil. Untill we invent our way out of the oil crisis, there isn't enough energy to fix the poverty crisis, and it's not because we can't create the jobs, it's we can't pay people enough to buy oil"

      Yes, that's the core of the problem.

      "Not to pick on Barack Obama, but he recently said something akin to "those jobs aren't coming back. Unskilled labor jobs are gone,"

      "Unskilled labor, is how you maintain stability, while you become skilled, and get into the middle class."

      The world has less and less need for unskilled labor, this is an irreversible fact of life. If your system requires lots of unskilled labor for its stability then it's time to start thinking about changing your system. Fortunately though there's this thing called education that can transform citizens from kids to skilled employees without them having to perform many years of unskilled labor.
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        Oct 29 2012: I'm sorry, but this "The world has less and less need for unskilled labor, this is an irreversible fact of life. If your system requires lots of unskilled labor for its stability then it's time to start thinking about changing your system" is fantasy world stuff.

        More unskilled labor is employed than ever before... Foxconn employs literally millions of people predominantly supplying for American demand. Everything you buy requires unskilled labor, we just don't do it here anymore. I call farming your labor to other countries, abuse... I think it shows that we are lazy, and expect that we deserve to manage the world, rather than work together to create it.

        "Fortunately though there's this thing called education that can transform citizens from kids to skilled employees without them having to perform many years of unskilled labor."

        Unfortunately, there's a thing called stupid people... and when you stop employing them... They don't stop eating. They lose their sense of purpose, and sit around getting angry... becoming easy to pick off by various right wing, or crazy organizations. They cling to religion. America still requires boat loads of unskilled labor to stay afloat, it just refuses to employ its own children doing that work, instead, it wants to pay children in a poor country 2 dollars a day. It's a moral issue.

        PS, the education system here is horrific, and it obviously hasn't created informed adult citizens, nor does it even focus on job skills.
        • Oct 29 2012: "More unskilled labor is employed than ever before... Foxconn employs literally millions of people predominantly supplying for American demand."

          Even including the Chinese the percentage of the world population employed in unskilled labor is declining, has been doing so for decades and will continue to do so in the future. In fact many people in third world countries are performing unskilled work that could be replaced by robots for pennies more, in China robots are starting to become cheaper than people now and that trend is irreversible.

          "Unfortunately, there's a thing called stupid people... and when you stop employing them... They don't stop eating."

          "Skilled" labor is not always that difficult, remember that the definition of unskilled labor is that you don't need any education past primary/elementary school (meaning you have to be able to read and write and know what 10+12 equals), anything above that is skilled labor. If you do find yourself having a surplus of unemployed, but employable people and wish to spread the burde then the proper response is to make each person work less hours, as has been done many times in the past (retirement age, K12 and higher education, 40 hour workweek, paid vacations, etc...)
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        Oct 30 2012: You ignore the thrust of my argument. The United States of America, currently employs most of the unskilled labor in the world... but it no longer does most of the unskilled labor... That makes us lazy jerks, who expect other people to do our work. There is no escaping that.

        Every time you shop at Wal Mart, you are making the decision conscious or not "human labor is only worth 2 dollars a day". it is fundamentally evil for someone paid 20 dollars an hour in air conditioning, to shop at Wal Mart, or Apple... etc. and most people do it anyway. Demand sets the price for labor. If people demanded that their products be made by people who earn a fair wage, products would be made by people who make a fair wage.

        "If you do find yourself having a surplus of unemployed, but employable people and wish to spread the burde then the proper response is to make each person work less hours, as has been done many times in the past (retirement age, K12 and higher education, 40 hour workweek, paid vacations, etc...)"

        This is the situation labor has been in for 40 years in America... and wages have dropped in relation to inflation, and no "liberals" have any legitimate plan to raise minimum wage or shrink the work week... So yes... that's great in theory.... How come none of our leaders understand it?

        When you say "in China robots are starting to become cheaper than people now and that trend is irreversible"... what you're really saying without knowing it... Is "American business can finally buy robots cheaper than they buy Chinese people... So we're leaving.". It's a horrific moral code, the endgame of which, seems to be to starve to death any human being not capable of designing and building robots... or entertaining rich people.
        • Oct 30 2012: "Every time you shop at Wal Mart, you are making the decision conscious or not "human labor is only worth 2 dollars a day""

          This is a chicken and egg story: to buy "developed world only" products people need more money which they won't get without more people buying like that. I do have to add that this would probably result in the Chinese losing their jobs because if China could have raised domestic demand so much that they could pay people more than $2 per hour they would have done so. Also, in Europe people consider American labor almost the same way Americans consider Chinese labor.

          "and no "liberals" have any legitimate plan to raise minimum wage or shrink the work week... So yes... that's great in theory.... How come none of our leaders understand it?"

          Because it requires international cooperation and more economic equality on a global scale.

          "It's a horrific moral code, the endgame of which, seems to be to starve to death any human being not capable of designing and building robots... or entertaining rich people."

          What you describe is a likely outcome, but once you look beyond modern day capitalism there are other possible outcomes (such as automatization being used to shorten people's work weeks without losing pay, social dividend, etc...)
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        Oct 31 2012: It's not a chicken or the egg... You're on team 6 dollars an hour, or team 2 dollars a day. Wal Mart took over back when there was a middle class that could spend the extra thirty cents to shop locally... They chose not to. It's a predatory business model we chose to embrace.

        "Because it requires international cooperation and more economic equality on a global scale."

        That is the opposite of a reason liberals aren't talking about this problem... If we need international cooperation, then this conversation better get going quickly...

        "What you describe is a likely outcome, but once you look beyond modern day capitalism there are other possible outcomes (such as automatization being used to shorten people's work weeks without losing pay, social dividend, etc...) "

        Not if both the left, and right refuse to talk about it. The problem is... the only solution, is to go back to "actual capitalism" which works... and the liberals certainly don't want to suggest that as a solution... Meanwhile the "conservatives, suggest that solution all the time... Then they get elected, hehe.
        • Nov 1 2012: "It's not a chicken or the egg... You're on team 6 dollars an hour, or team 2 dollars a day. Wal Mart took over back when there was a middle class that could spend the extra thirty cents to shop locally... They chose not to. It's a predatory business model we chose to embrace."

          It was a choice back then, but not any longer, we can't easily undo choices consumers made 20 years ago.


          "That is the opposite of a reason liberals aren't talking about this problem... If we need international cooperation, then this conversation better get going quickly..."

          It would take getting most advanced nations (including developing, but technologically advanced ones like China) to a similar standard of living, that's still decades off. That or massive trade wars between countries, remember that German and Swedish workers see their American counterparts as cheap labor that often is not unionized and gets few benefits and is out to steal their jobs, so it won't be a solid block of Western countries vs. China and India.

          "The problem is... the only solution, is to go back to "actual capitalism" which works... "

          You have a romantic notion of "true capitalism", yet the concentration of wealth you talked about earlier is a direct result of true capitalism, as even its earliest proponents (even Adam Smith) admitted. What you really want is a return to the 1945-1980 period when america ws doing great economically, even the workers, but that economy was actually highly unionized, had high taxes and loads more financial regulation and was really just lucky the third world did not yet have facilities to "steal" even unskilled American work while large coporations had only recently started to assimilate the lifeless husks of small businesses they killed off, really a far cry from "true capitalism" and basically also very lucky time-period wise.
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        Nov 1 2012: I still disagree with you quite a bit here, but you make some good points.

        To "You have a romantic notion of "true capitalism", yet the concentration of wealth you talked about earlier is a direct result of true capitalism, as even its earliest proponents (even Adam Smith) admitted." No, I'm not a Tea Party guy... I loosely identify libertarian, because of all the movements in this nation with any ground game, they are the most visciously anti war, pro freedom of speech, and anti drug war I can find. When the Green Party gets charismatic, I'll probably switch.

        When I say "actual capitalism"... I mean the freedom for wal mart employees to unionize... Private labor unions are a fundament of capitalism. Where you and I disagree... are on public labor unions... I think government employees have forgotten that they are public servants. The United States Government is the worlds largest not for profit corporation... and it needs to start acting like it.

        Public labor unions, are not a fundament of capitalism, they are the antithesis of it... especially when paired with sending in the police to break up Wal Mart strikes. If you have signed up to help people, pay should not be a concern. When people who call themselves "public servants", make 40-80k a year, and have pensions, while farmers make 18k, and don't... They no longer have the right to call themselves that.

        This is where the liberals lose the working class vote. Not only does the farmer, or construction worker, or waitress, have to listen to how hard it is, to make 3 times as much as they do... They have to hear how altruistic school teachers are, and how they don't do it for themselves, it's all for the kids... not the 60k a year (times two if they retire on time).

        That is an aside however. When I say, "actual capitalism", I don't mean the government can't implement any social programs, that's what the supermajorities are for... I mean they have to pay for them.
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        Nov 1 2012: We have a right to implement social programs at both the state and federal level, but we need a large broad concensus... That means getting farmers, construction, unemployed... etc, to vote in representatives that actually care about these issues and are willing to tell us how much tax they will cost to pay for with modern life expectancy.

        How do we pay for social security? End the cap... Every independent economist says the same thing... Stop letting rich people pay a lower percent than poor people... That would people popular among representatives that actually represented the people.

        I'm for progressive taxes as well. I wouldn't suggest I love 45-80 though... because I hate the military industrial complex, and I think we need much stricter codes of ethics regarding warfare, the time period you describe is when things started to get weird.

        In the 50's we put god on our money... Jefferson wrote a secular bible, and we're founded on religious freedom because our various religions were treated poorly in most of Europe.

        We elected Richard Nixon twice... Once over McGovern, who recently died, may he rest in peace... One of the last true "doves". We began the war on drugs... Horrific mistake.

        I don't have a romantic notion of our history... I have a romantic notion for what great men, and women, envisioned a country of free people, could choose to be.

        "The tragedy of all this is that George McGovern, for all his mistakes and all his imprecise talk about "new politics" and "honesty in government", is one of the few men who've run for President of the United States in this century who really understands what a fantastic monument to all the best instincts of the human race this country might have been, if we could have kept it out of the hands of greedy little hustlers like Richard Nixon."

        Hunter S Thompson

        PS I am a sucker for Jimmy Carter... so 1980 wasn't a bad place to end the number though.
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        Nov 1 2012: Finally, when I say "actual capitalism"... I mean the fed doesn't give 0% interest loans to companies that then use them to crush small business, or sell poison, ie Monsanto, Mcdonalds, etc. Liberals never talk about the federal reserve, because most of them don't understand how it works or what we can do about it : p

        @ Bob "You're a moron"... Is not the way an intelligent person starts a debate. Nothing in my ideas are utopian... They are simple, sane, and incentive based. They also reflect almost entirely the opinions of Adam Smith. I apologize if you never learned to read, and can't look that up.
        • Nov 2 2012: David you're a moron, historical capitalism is nothing like what you want, your ideas are utopian.
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      Oct 29 2012: Thanks David for participating in this question. Please see my response to Fritzie's reply in this stream. Thanks again.
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        Oct 29 2012: Green tech, and a unification of the working class, would be my solution : )

        Solar concentration. Desalination. Gyroscopic stable electric motorcycles, preferably self driving.
        • Oct 31 2012: I do think that we are heading in the right direction when we invest sustainable energy solutions. If we can make "more out of less," that is helpful, especially with a growing population. We need more solutions for clean water and sustainable housing as well. These innovations are needed across the board.

          And that brings us back to education .... How many brilliant scientists and other innovators will never have a chance to help to solve these problems without education and opportunity?

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