This conversation is closed.

Can a culture be developed where there is no "welfare"?

With all of the advancements in technology it is becoming obvious that there will be less need for "labor". The problem then becomes one of what to do with people. How will they "make a living"?
I would like to suggest that instead of "welfare" it becomes the responsibility of government to supply a "job" for EVERYONE. To live in the country one must work. Instead of "unemployment offices" there are "employment offices"
Can such a system exist?

  • thumb
    Oct 14 2013: In my opinion, culture must suffer difficulties when welfare does not exist yet. People finds difficult to spend their money in culture; official funds for helping to develop culture may be restricted or dissapear; awards with money prices are restricted or changed into honorific ones, and so on. In that circumstances, private initiative may be the only alternative. But if enterprises are firing employees and cutting budgets, horizons are deep black.
    In despite of al this, culture may survive, but it's necessary a big dose of faith and hope.
    • Oct 15 2013: What makes a "culture" survive is beyond me, but I do recognize that most cultures contain within it a "welfare" section. Taking care of those within the group seems to be an inherent part of being human, but this can be shown in different ways - eliminating the old and infirmed (Eskimo); religion contains welfare for the poor, pure capitalism however, demands every man for himself.
  • Sep 22 2013: Sounds a fair bit like communism actually.
    In the USSR, it could never compete economically with the west due to fundamental problems in both ideology and practical application, and eventually the system collapsed under its own weight. China jumped ship over to capitalism, neglecting the "welfare" system and turning into one of the most powerful economies in the world, increasing almost everyone's standards of living substantially.
    One of the two processes happened in pretty much all communist countries (which the exception of North Korea, still a hell hole by all accounts, largely due to an oppressive regime, but also due spitting in the free market's eye, which makes them dirt poor).

    Its nice in theory, but having your government plan and manage the entire economy just doesn't work. It starts off as an attempt at equality, but eventually deteriorates into a crippling limitation, which actually lowers most of the populace's standards of living as compared to a free market.
    • Sep 22 2013: Mr. Tropp, I agree with you, it does sound Communist BUT we must recognize what is happening to our society.(global,regional & local). .With what is developing technologically
      it wont be too long before Robots will be doing most of the "work", as we conceive it, and what will people do? Some means must be devised that gives both incentive AND protection year after year,
      Where communism has been used in the past, and it has collapsed under its own weight it has depended upon humans sustaining the weight of all labor. Wit technology might this situation be eliminated.
      Farming - automated Production - automated Mining - automated Construction - automated
      Education - mostly reduced in force Health - greatly reduced in force Media - mostly reduced in force
      With technology taking over most of repetitive and minor to middle innovation the problem becomes one of interesting and maintaining human desire to perform social effort.

      Do you think people will be satisfied with the minimum level of living? No! They will desire to improve, as they always have,and the direction leading them is social betterment
      • Sep 23 2013: Could you give me a reference for the collapse of communistic economy due to the dependence upon humans sustaining the weight of all labors?

        I agree with the need for an incentive (thought that was one of the reasons the USSR economy failed was due to the lack of incentive lead to the lack of productivity). Not sure about the protection - feather bedding was the death knell for many industries.
        • Sep 23 2013: Michael Liebowitz - September 13th,2013 - in the Bullet posted at Links International Journal and Socialist renewal with permission. This essay is from a talkgiven to the Center for Political Emancipation in Belgrade,Serbia, May 6,2013. It can be seen on You Tube.

          In essence part of the reasoning goes that workers had a logic of their own as to the protections and rights they had which from their point of view was abrogated by the managers ( and the state).
      • Sep 23 2013: So you're suggesting that because of technological advance and the elimination of more menial work, the government should move all the blue collar workers being replaced by machines to wellfare?

        The concept is a fundamentally flawed one. You shouldn't guarantee people a job for doing unproductive things. All that does is encourage people to become parasites upon the system.
        People whose old job became obsolete need to pick up a new trade. Seeing as new technologies aren't introduced over night and industries rise or fall in a day, there should be time to re-train those people with proper planning.

        "making work" for them simply drains government resources for no good reason. Instead, the money would be much better spent training these people to do things that machines can't and won't be able to do anywhere in the near future. Actual, productive things, not useless jobs whose entire reason for existing is to artificially drop the unemployment percentage (essentially, calling wellfare a job).
        Again, that type of attitude is a big part of the reason why communism doesn't work--"take what you need and give back what you can" is essentially an open invitation to underachieving. This sort of thinking shouldn't be encouraged.
    • Sep 23 2013: Glad someone brought up the similarity to communism.
    • W T

      • 0
      Sep 25 2013: Communism is the first thing that jumped into my mind as well.
  • thumb
    Oct 14 2013: Yes, it can, because the term 'culture' is neutral in its meaning.

    If a tribe or nation would sacrifice all their firstborn to a god, they would have formed their culture. The fact that it was a cruel one indeed, doesn't matter.
    • Oct 14 2013: Thank you for your reply. It seems that I worded the question incorrectly. Regardless of this, I did get answers that helped me in clearing my brain.I appreciate your comment.
  • Sep 26 2013: Let me suggest something like your idea of no welfare, but employment offices. In the near future, there are 2 major areas which are going to affect the employment of manufacturing workers and the improvement of the robotics in the healthcare and other human services, especially for the elderly. The former will cause more unemployment among the employable working population and the latter would benefit the living care of the elderly. So I would like to propose a plan to at least partially resolve the 2 problems simultaneously.
    We should, with co-op from the community(government) and house builders, build blocks of multilevel condominiums with many automatic conveyors, some with wheelchairs and hospital style beds as well as inter-com equipments in one wing on each floor of the condominium for the elderly. The opposite wing is for the adult residents with their families including children. The families will pay relatively low rent, and also members could be paid for their services as the floor mangers or other services in taking care of the elderly in the other wing. Because of the automation and robotics serving the elderly, heavy lifting, etc. are not needed, so that even teenagers could serve after a few hours of training. The condominium also have automated food and laundry services, so that the elderly will only need kind and compassionate care. therefore it is really a win-win situation, especially between the elderly and the young when they treat each other as adopted grandchildren and grandparents. because either side will usually enjoy the others' companionship as long as they are not "chained together" all the time. The elderly will pay certain rent and fees if they can afford to. The entire project would be non-profit, with some subsidies from the government.
    You can see that this arrangement could alleviate multiple difficulties for both the elderly and the other families in their financial, convenience, environment atmosphere and emotional well-beings.
    • Sep 27 2013: Mr. Hsi:- Thank you for your input. The fact that people spoke gives me confidence that these idea will be addressed. I would like to state that what I have learned so far is that Economy seems to be the first and foremost thought in most minds. Your suggestions fits into that category. It is a fine thought as it answers not only the question of housing but the humanity need of association as well as healthcare and economy of scale. The larger the project the less expensive it can possible be.
      In view from the economy, how can this be made profitably. I do not know enough about real estate,construction or social interaction to say with any backing what is necessary to make this work. The idea alone seems to me, to have merit. I am 88 yrs. old and living in a senior citizen residence ( assisted living), and I c an tell that when children enter the facility most of the residents display an interest and excitement that is not there before their arrival. This is not to say that constant presence would garner the same interest, but it having them returns to a more normal life. (and maybe a will to live(?))
      The cost of housing us is something I can't break out either because we receive 3 meals a day, housekeeping services, laundry,medication delivery and administration, heating and cooling in apartments of varying sizes - from a studio to a 2 bedroom. I am not sure but I believe that after living here and your finances running out, accommodation for medicare coverage can be made. All of this falls under your description of "value" added.
      How do we get there? It will be accomplished in "time". As the need for "labor" becomes less and less society will recognize more and more the need for more social "engineering" and I believe that a "democratic" society will be the one needed to foster this.
      • Sep 27 2013: Hello, Al, I am glad that you agree on several things that I suggested. However, may I expand some of your concerns about the possibility of human interaction, economic factors and government involvement.
        First the housing design in my suggestion is carefully considered. The families that stays in the opposite wing of the elderly are more or less equivalent to the neighbors of separated .houses, so that the adult workers and their children won't be easily bothered if they are busy or inaccessible. I remember that I read a report saying that some builders or for-profit corporations in Chicago are selling condominiums suitable for extended families (families with 3 or more generations of immediate blood relatives). But this is not very practical because, if these families are well off, they could live or build their own, and for others they are probably unwilling or impossible to live in one place or in the same town. Actually my suggestion is probably more practical and less restrictive. In my observation, the compassion between elderly and children seems not that much different between some neighbors or between blood relatives. I think that familiarity could be as important as the blood relations.
        Second, our current governments are building public housing to house the poor, but these "projects" are not well managed and many are run down and some are partially abandoned. On the other hand, the federal government spend so much money on job training programs, but many of the trainees are still having difficulty to find jobs. So if we seek out private businesses or charities to manage the building and train applicants on-the-job, that will greatly increase the cost efficiency compared with the government paying and bureaucratic management of these "projects"...
        • Sep 28 2013: Bart::- As I mentioned I know nothing to little about Real Estate,Construction or social engineering.
          The American Dream is a private home.(Can you sell the idea of apartment living?) ( Do young adults, with children want to live in a place in which EMS comes almost daily for some residents and explain that to their kids?) (What are the cost breakdown for the divided type of apartments? and the additional costs of all the automated apparatus that night be needed for the elderly which increases cost for the young?) I'm afraid that I am not the guy that you should talk to. someone who has more expertise on a variety of subjects. Your topic is more practical in application, it can be utilized today,
    • Sep 30 2013: Bart;- I came across a news item that I think might fit in with your ideas. It was from SLATE and the name of the topic was HOW TO SUPPORT THE SENIOR CITIZEN BOOM Part II. If you get this thru Slate I think you might like it, otherwise I ha ve copied it and if you want I will mail it to you if you send me your email address.
      • Sep 30 2013: Al, Thank you for your information. I am also 88 years old,living with my wife who is 10 years junior than I. I am reasonably healthy and have not had any cardiovascular or cancer problems. I am still capable of doing some cooking, doing my own personal hygiene and driving my car for shopping. So, for the time being we are not planning to move to a retirement home. However, if these projects do get built, then we might consider them eventually, you never know what is going to happen anyway.
        My posting here is just my idea that I believe should work and solve both the problems of population aging and unemployment. I believe that the cost of these projects won't be that much higher than the existing "assisted living homes" today. Furthermore, the additional equipments for the handicapped elderly would be charged to the elderly users' rent only, and not loaded on the young families' rent or expenses.
        Thanks for your kindness of your concern for me
        • Oct 1 2013: Great that you are so self sufficient. If you ever feel like asking me about assisted, retirement living do not hesitate. Good wishes. Al
  • Sep 25 2013: Mr. Lockwood:- Please read my thank you intended for everyone in this group. Your refernce to the Yoman farmer is the essence of my change of mind. He went, but in time, and without bloodshed. Society changed and he changed with it. Technology forced him to change because he had no choice. I had thought that this could have been anticipated but how can one anticipate the time required for the development of the technology that is coming? I feel/see now that one has to wait for "society" has to catch up to the change and that this happens after the human needs (security. etc.) have been answered to their understanding and acceptance. (Obamacare(?))

    Thank you.
  • Sep 25 2013: Mr. Cano:- Please read my notes above/below as they apply to you as well. You express my thinking better than I do. I have come to the conclusion, as you appear to believe that people will take to the direction they want when and if they want to and it answers their fundamental needs or beliefs. Like me, I gather you will wait and see.
  • Sep 25 2013: Mr. Tropp:- Thank you again. You have helped me more that you know,as have the others who have given me the benefit of their thoughts. It would seem that most people can understand the need for modifications/change but to answer what appeared to be my question would involve a major eruption, society is not prepared for that and it certainly is not in my intention.

    I will keep my question and thoughts in line and watch and observe how things progress. I believe it will go along the lines I anticipate but it will take a very long time and hopefully without bloodshed.
  • Sep 23 2013: Al,

    Thanks for the reference to Michael A. Liebowitz. Spent the weekend reading but could only find analysis done by other Socialists which I read with a grain of salt. (the choir approving of the preacher). It did lead me to János Kornai who stated that the fall of the Soviet Union was due to systemic failures, believe it is in his "Economics of Shortage"
    • Sep 25 2013: Mr. Uejio:- Pleas read the above/below reply that I addressed to Mr. Tropp, my thanks apply to you as well.

      People will be people and they will behave individually/collective as the occasion demands - it will take time.
  • Sep 23 2013: Sounds like the utopian system of star trek. No need for money and as jean Luc picard mentioned... "we work to better ourselves".. a system can exist in my opinion. Everything has to do with the way people think. When you somehow can keep people satisfied with what they have because it is in THEIR nature to be satisfied and with an intrinsic desire help society you have no need of welfare. Humans used to live that way... I don't think the very first humans wanted to earn money or jobs. As long as they can eat, sleep and be happy with their society it works. As long as people take care of each other without going thru the channels of a government... it works. Sadly, we are not prepared yet for this kind of the fiction world of star trek, it took a massive world war and an alien visitation. What will it take our current society? i don't know.
    • Sep 23 2013: Actually, that system only works in star trek because of matter replicators.

      In other words, in a world with very little scarcity. Its a completely different economic model than exists in the real world, because the fundamental assumption that "there isn't enough to go around" no longer applies for anything that can be replicated.

      You can see how that sort of thing would turn the entire economy over on its head, and just how unrealistic it is to expect the real world to function in a similar manner.
      • Sep 23 2013: Thank you. You are helping me to understand my own question. But, if we believe that a change IS needed how do we go about getting to that change.Robots are coming! Man will be superfluous. (What does that mean?) Humanity has to think differently.

        Economics is not a fixed science, why can't we change it's outlook. Instead of looking for "Markets" why not evaluate "Social advancement".

        Admittedly this will require a completely different outlook but what has to be done to make it come to fruition, to make people BELIEVE?
      • Sep 23 2013: At the present time do we not have "enough" for our needs. Fundemental needs still are, for humans, food, clothing and shelter. Can.t we supply those to everyone before cars, ipods and iphones. Isn't medical need greater than material need?

        Do we believe that more people want to be "middle class" than "rich"? Keep the drive for "advancement" or "development" , let those who have the drive for "more" have the "space" to feed that "drive. but, for most of humanity the "basics" in "complete supply" will seem ample. AS the "drivers accomplish "more" it will filter down to those who "want it slowly and with "purpose.

        Can this be "sold"/
        • Sep 23 2013: I highly doubt it.
          Social inequality is a concept synonymous with humanity itself.

          The world doesn't care for equality on a global scale. It never did, and it never will.
          Each group (be it ethnic, religious, ideological or nationalist, depending on the people involved) will always look towards its own interests first. They may not say it out loud like I can, but I'm at liberty of not being a politician.

          Even inside societies, today's rich/poor relationship is still a sight better than the historical record's noble/peasant, or master/slave. Things today are actually more equal then ever, to give you a perspective how thoroughly inequality defines humanity.

          All attempts to solve this fundamental problem via solutions like communism, have all ended up doing more harm than good.
      • Sep 25 2013: further comtemplating on the idea of a government system providing jobs to gut feeling says it wouldn't work. Our current system is actually better. A system that thrives on human interests. Such activities creates industries that specializes in marketing a product.. manufacturing a product generates jobs, marketing that product also generates jobs, and it further spills over to advertising jobs, selling jobs, ancillary jobs, 3rd party based jobs.. you have no idea how many levels of hierarchies are generated by our current system and considering each hierarchy generates its own jobs. If say a phone company boasts 12,000 employees... thats refers only to employees paid for by the company. To sell that phone means generating thousands of small businesses NOT in the phone company's payroll but rather generating its own payroll.
        If a government offers jobs... how far in a hierarchy level would that go? my thoughts are not much levels. So.. to me it just doesn't work.
  • Sep 23 2013: The question of communism has come up and I* would like to point out that communism and socialism are theories that while denigrated are actually in full use today.
    I would like to suggest that the present day Corporate structure is quasi-socialistic. Enter the corporate structure and you immediately become protected for the rest of your life.
    • Sep 23 2013: Present day corporate structure is if anything completely contrary to communism.
      The wealth is distributed in a completely lopsided manner for one, which is pretty much the exact thing communism set out to combat (unsuccessfully, but that's not the point).

      The job security thing is secondary, and hardly inherent to the system in any case.
  • thumb
    Sep 22 2013: Perhaps the question should be, can culture survive a welfare state? Living off hind tit doesn't breed optimism, ingenuity or risk. Killing opportunity by short term focus and greed undermines culture and hope.

    We have collectively taken the wrong turn and we are at cause of our own extinction, welfare or not.

    It's more about culture (education, science, government etc) disconnecting itself entirely from any sense of wisdom, common sense and sense of fair play. Future generations be damned is how we live.

    It's time to wake up...
  • Sep 22 2013: Could you define what that job would be? what about those who refuse or can not do any job?
    • Sep 22 2013: Everyone has a "job" ( I can't think of another term). "Job" represents your "responsibility" to society. Depending upon what portion of what you do helps society represents your "return" from that society. For example:- Society is divided into 20 divisions between the top & the bottom producers. The bottom would receive the minimum from society -( food,clothing,shelter ) health care comes from the use of you toward the learning society gets from treating you.))
      Again:- someone says he wants to be a writer living in BORA BORA. Fine. You get the minimum protection because no one knows whether you are faking or not. You produce a "work", Now you have produced something & society rewards you with an upgrade depending upon its "value" to that society .
      I hope that I am clear.
      • Sep 22 2013: So if someone is irresponsible, then for no "work" they get food, clothing, shelter and health care is provided to test subjects?
        • Sep 22 2013: I don't consider them "test" subject. Each individual has a "value". Being human gets you the minimum "value". As you provide, in some way for thge "social" good your value to the community increases and your "reward" increases.

          A 90 year, has a "value". He can provide information on the future of aging, the need for understanding the life process, work with other elderly to provide incentive to live social, not independent lives. He can be a "test" subject as well, in many other disciplines.
      • Sep 23 2013: I agree with you on the value of the individual but your comment on healthcare based o- n the learning society gets from treating you. Reminds me of patients at a learning hospital being treated by interns in the ER - be thankful for experienced nurses or there would be a lot of malpractice suits.
  • Sep 22 2013: How much starvation is to be accepted?
    • Sep 22 2013: Mr. Lockwood, in my thinking I did not envision any starvation. If everyone has to "work" then food should be produced & be available, The problem becomes one of who gets how much & of what. Desires of the individual come into play but they are to be opposed by the need to "work" which becomes a "responsibility": for the total society. As I envision it even newborns have to work/responsibility in the sense that they have to grow & learn. They are the future of the species - their responsibility. The function of government(?) is to provide food, clothing & shelter. If one looks at the world, there is nothing in it that does not serve a purpose from one celled organisms to death.
      • Sep 23 2013: People are hard to evaluate and jobs come and go. Where are the small business people? and where did the Yoman farmer go? So what should you envision? Consider what you are not thinking right now.
  • thumb
    Sep 22 2013: That will not work. Keep thinking, but I suggest you read up on what has been tried and what has worked and what has not.
    • Sep 22 2013: Mr. Gilbert, would you please suggest what reading you have in mind.

      You are evidently looking at the problem from a strictly economics point of view BUT what happens when economics
      omits the human. Where does economics come in when labor is done by machine - who will buy the result of that production? If I remember correctly, Ford paid his workers 5$ a day, which was a phenomenal wage for the day. His reasoning was that he wanted his employees to be able to afford his cars. Can the present day McDonald worker or Wal-Mart employee afford living in todays world at their presnt wage without the support that they are obtaining from the government. ( The rest of us taxpayers?)Where does economics fit in that picture?
      • thumb
        Sep 22 2013: Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell

        Economics in one lesson by Henry Hazlitt
        • Sep 23 2013: You are correct, by using today"s economics everything I have asked fails. Economics, is a science of the here and now. What if we changed the here then the now will change. Economics measures markets, production. distribution, demand, etc. revealing what man wants, does and reacts to now. What if we change the parameters from those measurements to ones of need, development and structure? Sure you have the problem of monetary reward but change the system to "beneficial reward"

          There are problems socially as well, I am aware of that:- what do you do with a family when the "job/responsibility of one of the members will cause a fracture in the unit?, etc. Am I asking - am I just transferring one set of problems for another? Is it worth it?
      • thumb
        Sep 24 2013: Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell

        Economics in one lesson by Henry Hazlitt
        • Sep 24 2013: SORRY, DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE REPLY.

          Sorry, did not mean the capital letters.
      • thumb
        Oct 14 2013: Hi Al,

        I think that Pat copy and pasted his former comment, because he doesn't share your view and didn't wish to comment in more detail about it.

        People who believe in basic economics tend to focus on the 'here and now' and it is often very difficult to them to change perspective. Even when basic economic fails in itself, many of them rather seek for external explanations than to question or even fix those very basics.

        It is more like a religion, in which the questioning of its very god is considered a blasphemy and therefore unwelcome among their believers. A person in doubt, will be asked to read the 'holy books' again, in hope that may cure their skepticism. And if this didn't help, they will be asked to read the 'holy books' again ... if they are lucky ... :o)

        Maybe there are some similarities here ...
        • Oct 15 2013: I felt that those who looked at the problem from an economic problem alone were correct, as far as they went. They feel that economics does not change and in the "real"world it does. If the mass of people get together and demand a change,( civil war, election or resistance of a major extent ), then an economic can be brought about.

          What I have garnered from everyone who has been kind enough to have replied. is that such a move, while when it is done appears to have occurred quickly really is the result of long, protracted process.

          The American Civil War, the Russian revolution and the Arab Spring are examples that I have in mind. Now the question for me was does this change take place quicker and less deadly in what kind of a culture - republic democracy, autocratic regime or religious dictatorship? ( or what other )
      • thumb
        Oct 15 2013: I think I understand what you mean and what you are looking for.

        The problem of any hierarchically structured society is, that the 'ruling authority' is always smaller in numbers than the majority of people who is ruled by them.

        In terms of decision making, as smaller group will always be more flexible and quicker, whereas a large number of people need time to communicate internally and do become aware about their conditions. This makes it very easy for 'the few' to set the rules, as a coordinated response is not likely to happen soon and also easily disturbed and disrupted my misinformation, manipulation and distraction.

        Nevertheless, sometimes there remains an ongoing process of dissatisfaction within the majority, which grows over time slowly but steadily. It is like shifting continents as tectonic plates. It takes long times for them to move and at their borders a lot of energy gets stored over time. Yet when the time has come, it only takes a tiny initial force for the earthquake to break its way, which we experience either as civil war or revolution.

        This is, why I believe, that it is so important, that the majority of a society becomes a direct and integral part in their own decision processes, and that the 'ruling minority' is exchanged by the 'ruling majority'. Only by this there is a direct feedback loop of the people themselves to mind their business and the risk of corruption and manipulation fall low.

        The closest concept I know of so far to ensure this was a combination of a 'direct democracy' on political level, based and supported by an democratic economy, in which corporations are run as workers cooperations.
        • Oct 15 2013: You explain it so much better than I, and whats more come to the same conclusion. I, too, thought that a form of democratic society would be the best means to effect that change. The problem I have in my own mind however, is the amount of dead in the Civil War, I am not sure if the Russian revolution had more and I also feel that the Arab spring has been going on for more that the past 4-5 years. Take that into account and the death total is enormous.
          How long did the Civil War Brew? the Russian revolution? the Arab Spring? what about all the other "little" wars? Would you consider that all of this might even
          be a part of our evolution?
    • thumb
      Oct 15 2013: It is difficult to say how change breaks its ways. Think about Ghandi, or the people of east Germany.

      Sometimes it is enough to 'just be' majority, united and aware of it, for the minority to yield. Sometimes it isn't.

      Some people are willing to sacrifice their lives for freedom, some people don't even know what freedom is.

      There is no 'one fits all' solution to multiple problems, yet there will always be a majority who will figure it out.

      This is part of our social evolution and as in our biological one, suffering will be part of it.