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Daniel Boyd

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Educated people should not consider themselves too good for unskilled labour

In Western society we all have the privilege of extensive education in which we have the freedom to choose a direction of our own interest. If work is subsequently available in this area, it is obviously an optimal use of human capital for trained people to do what they are trained for.

On the other hand, maintenance of the comfortable, clean and safe society we live in requires a fair amount of unskilled labour.

The question is what should happen when trained people cannot find a job in their chosen vocation: in other words, society does not need them in this role at this time. Do they have a right to expect unemployment benefits while waiting for a 'suitable' job to arise? Or should they be expected to contribute something to the maintenance of society (in the form of unskilled labour) in return for their own maintenance?

In other words, should unemployment benefits be coupled to community services?

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    Nov 13 2013: If we assume to be talking about productive human activity--is there such a thing really as "unskilled labor"? I think there are a lot of assumptions behind that phrase.
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      Nov 16 2013: Aha! A new take on the question!

      Good point to distinguish manual labour (which is often highly skilled in spite of not being taught in the classroom) from activities that require few special skills of any type.

      The discussion concerns the latter type, since many highly educated people would lack the ability to do the former, which makes it all the more inappropriate for them to look down on others who do have such skills.

      This links in with the related but different issue of the differential monetary value placed on different skills in our society. It is certainly not always the case that more skill equates to more money. In general ( with the exception of sport) intellectual skills are valued above physical ones.
  • Nov 13 2013: I agree with others that it is a personal preference and an attitude more than a reality.

    The person who wants to find work will, even if it is with a mop and a bucket and maybe working two jobs to make ends meet. The person who thinks menial labor or unskilled labor beneath them will not work, it is that simple unless they find skilled work.

    It is a choice to work. Sadly, to many people think it is beneath them or have never gotten their hands dirty with hard work.
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      Nov 16 2013: True that some have an inherent work ethic while unfortunately many/most don't. But that doesn't mean that society needs to accept and support what can be seen as laziness. Should we accept that someone would prefer not to work rather than getting their hands dirty, as you put it? I think not. If we can think of something useful for them to do, I reckon they haven't reallly got reason to complain.
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        Nov 16 2013: Daniel,
        We can "accept" that someone would prefer not to work rather than getting their hands dirty...", but I don't think we need to support THEIR preference if they are able bodied adults.

        What WE may determine is "useful for them", may not be what THEY determine is useful for them?
        Some folks will complain no matter what.....with good reason.....or not!
      • Nov 16 2013: Daniel you echo my point. However, laziness is very subjective. Who is to determine what laziness is?

        Some people are on public assistance simply because they can't get a job. I have two friends who have been in that position. They applied repeatedly and tried to get work, but were not hired for a variety of reasons. On the surface, they were getting public assistance, not working, so therefore were lazy. But they were two of the hardest working people I know. Just in a bad spot. On the other side, there are those who are absolutely choosing not to work. That is so very different.

        Some people simply do not choose to work. That is an issue that must be addressed. Support those who are trying to get better. Maybe support those who are choosing not to work at a much lower level. I don't know that there is a good answer to that issue.

        In point of fact, the public support of those who are not working and receiving public support is at the minimum an entire different thread if not multiple threads. One could discuss what they add to the culture, what one should be required to add to society as a member of it, and should we support those who choose not to add anything to the society they are a part of.
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          Nov 17 2013: Too true that the fact that someone is not working does not equate directly to laziness, though I think it really must always e possible to do something productive as long as you are able-bodied.

          I guess what it all boils down to is attitude, whether or not someone is at least motivated to contribute rather than parasitically reaping the benefits with the conscious attitude "If I don't have to work, why should I?"
      • Nov 17 2013: I like the words "parasitically reaping" as an attitude. That is such a vivid word picture.

        That is what frustrates me. Having run in to it on numerous occasions in my career. There are those who do try to work and be productive. I respect those hard working individuals. There are also those who say "you owe me and I don't have to work". That attitude frustrates me to no end.

        In the end, it is all about attitude.
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        Nov 17 2013: Daniel and Everett,
        This is what frustrates me about the system as well, and it appears to be a shared sentiment with lots of people. People don't mind helping someone when they/we genuinely need help. It is the feeling of entitlement or "parasitically reaping" that folks who support themselves object to.

        Unfortunately, the public assistance programs have become generational expectations in many cases, and that cycle needs to be broken somehow. In my perception, working and sustaining myself has empowered to me.....it has added to my skills, which gives me more confidence in the life experience. When we (society) contribute to entitlement/parasitic reaping, generation after generation, we are actually depriving people of the opportunity to grow and learn with a different scenario.
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          Nov 17 2013: Absolutely. Though it may seem that you are 'beating the system' by getting something for doing nothing, you are actually empoverishing yourself by doing nothing.
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    Nov 7 2013: I think Colleen is very right. I have what many may consider a world class education but lived in situations where an illiterate day-laborer bit me hands down in simple survival necessities. In think every society spends a lot to produce educated specialists. If the cost of maintaining them in unemployed conditions is further added that will be irrational.

    I find our education systems at fault to an extent too. The terms like 'white collar jobs' or 'menial jobs' are results of an elitist position of the educated. A lot of sexist attitudes also result out of our education systems. I remember my 15 year old son moving around with a button less shirt. When asked why he didn't sew a button into it, his reply was that it was a sissy job.

    The amount of money, time and resources we spend in gyms can be replaced by healthy lobor by all able bodied men and women and that can generate an useful human capital. The educated people are supposed to understand that.
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      Nov 7 2013: Good points Pabitra, and I totally agree that the time and resources spent in gyms, and driving to gyms could be used to do some work (like gardening) that would give us the same benefit.....AND....provide our food....or at least some of it:>)

      I've had people come through the gardens and say.....wow....look at all the work! Well...yeah....that is part of my exercise, and it's part of living sustainably. The gardens are good for the environment and good for my health in many ways. I LIKE physical labor! I also paint the house, do a little carpentry, etc.

      My kids both have known how to use the sewing machine since they were little....it was fun for them. My son went out west to ski after graduation from university and was looking for a temporary job, while he was a ski bum:>) He applied to be a manager of a condo complex, and the application asked for his experience in that area. He put the truth.....he'd been working with his mom for 20 years on the apartment buildings we owned. When there were renovations needed, I often took the kids with me to help. Give a couple kids hammers, and they can take a wall down pretty fast!!! LOL:>) Then, of course, they learn how to put it back up.....more skills:>)

      I think educated people DO understand, and it's a preference....is it not?
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        Nov 8 2013: Ha, I'm doing my garden AND the gym, What about that ? ;-)

        Btw, for those who don't know Colleen's garden, it's gorgeous !!!

        Fun aside, living in Mexico the situation is different. Here you really have rich vs. poor. Rich or even middle class families have their domestic servants and it's very common for those people that they don't know such simple things like sewing on a button or getting their hands dirty in the garden.
        Me doing garden work, usually raises eyebrows here because people don't understand why I don't just hire somebody for it.
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          Nov 8 2013: I think you are probably superman Harald! I don't have anything against going to a gym....it just has never worked for me....my preference....my reality:>)

          I have a few friends living in Mexico who I've visited, and I understand what you're saying.....help is so inexpensive and common there it seems like the thing to do.

          Thank you for your kind words about the gardens. Unfortunately, they have been a wee bit neglected for the past couple years. Everything is still there and flourishing, and so are the weeds!!! I've had 3 brothers who have been ill...one died last January, so my energy and attention have been with them a lot of the time rather than the gardens.

          That is another example of something we can hire....caregiving....and we (my family) have had some help from home health agencies and visiting nurses. I like spending time with my brothers, so the gardens are challenged. There is a time for everything, and at this stage of our lives, the brothers are needing my time and energy more than the gardens:>)
      • Nov 9 2013: "Working out" is for people who don't have enough chores.
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      Nov 7 2013: I guess a lot of the elitism is a simple consequence of tha fact that people with a particular specific skill are scarcer and therefore market forces push up their price. If they are then given work to do that does not require specific skills it will pay less and probably not support the life style they are used to. On the other hand, even a scarce resource has little value if no-one wants it, so having a specific skill cannot be a guarantee for success.
    • Nov 9 2013: If we have produced a large excess of "educated specialists", we obviously do not need them as much as we make them, so far fewer tax dollars can be thrown away in producing more of them.
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    Nov 6 2013: Hi Daniel,
    I do not consider this a question of what people "should" or "should not " do. It is more a matter of preference. Of course... it is optimal use of human capital for trained people to do what they are trained to do.

    On the other hand, there are lots of educated people "out there" who are unemployed. In my humble perception, it is not reasonable for society to financially support people who want or need to find a specific job, that best suits him/her. I have done unskilled labor to financially support myself in the life journey, and it was an opportunity to learn more skills! If a person is physically "able", I do not see why s/he cannot do the same.

    You ask..."should unemployment benefits be coupled to community services?"
    If one is being paid (unemployment benefits), contingent on a certain amount of community service, the "community service" is no longer a free service, but rather a paid position.....is it not?
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      Nov 7 2013: I suppose you're right that the coupling of benefite to service effectively makes it a paid job. SO then you're not unemployed any more - either in the formal or the practical sense. So it keeps people busy and productive and also improves the unemployment statistics!.

      And the proposition doesn't need to entail a lack of choice. There's plenty of useful things to be done. As far as I'm concerned voluntary work would be fine too, just as long as you're doing something to contribute.
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        Nov 7 2013: I agree Daniel.....there are PLENTY of useful things to be done....as long as we are doing something to contribute. Voluntary work is GREAT.

        I think I understand your basic questions, as presented, to be...
        "In other words, should unemployment benefits be coupled to community services?"

        In my perception....no.
        Community service is community service, and unemployment benefits are unemployment benefits, and in my perception, should not be "coupled".

        " Do they have a right to expect unemployment benefits while waiting for a 'suitable' job to arise?"

        In my perception...no.
        Any of us can say at any given time....."I cannot find the work I would prefer to do, so society should support me". I do not agree with that.
      • Nov 9 2013: There were attempts to couple public assistance with doing service jobs, they were blocked by "poverty advocates" who called it "slavery". That's right, working for public assistance amounts to "slavery" according to the American liberal/leftists. For them, it is far more moral to sit around and lazily collect.
  • Nov 5 2013: Heck! Unskilled laborers should not consider themselves too good for unskilled labor. I've met such people. Unskilled, uneducated, unwilling to take unskilled jobs. As for what kind of labor I'd do, myself--I'm a published biologist. However, when I followed family and moved to a small Texas town, which had no work for biologists, I took jobs as an electrician's helper, a beverage merchandiser, and a grocery store stocker. You take the work you can find and are glad of it. Of course, that doesn't mean you don't keep your ear to the ground for something that fits your skills better.
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      Nov 6 2013: My sentiments entirely. And I'm convinced my response would be the same, though I've been fortunate enough to avoid the necessity (tough life, being a biologist!).

      Curious how these 'morals' can vary between cultures. The crazy thing is that here in Holland when I made the same statement a few people really honestly shouted me down from the other side: how could I even think to demean someone in this way?

      In this discussion everyone's making me out to be a left wing loony!
      • Nov 6 2013: That's funny, because I'm usually made out to be a right-wing loony because of little things like my "get off your butt and don't expect everyone else to take care of you" attitude. However the "starving intellectual" schtick is probably a lot more popular among Europeans (and silly Americans who play at being second-rate imitation Europeans) than among Americans. After all, a nasty little Austrian was actually proud of having played "starving intellectual" who refused "lesser" labor for a while, if you know who I mean.
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    Nov 5 2013: Krisztian Pinter comment "i don't remember freely choosing taxpaying, nor being a member of any societies. this was as much a free choice as a restaurant owner chooses to pay the mob for "protection".
    raises a fundamental quandary of modern life, namely the Social Contract.

    Every nation, state, city and village has a population of people who are deemed to be part and parcel of that community's society. .

    Every society has a "Social Contract", much of which is unspoken and often mysterious and confusing to some folks, especially outsiders. And that contract has as many, if not more, expectations and requirements, commonly called conventions, as people at times. Wearing clothes is a common one and the variations on that issue alone has a host of themes we often find being displayed and even flaunted. The youtube video people of walmart is a wonderful example of that. Our families, peers and various institutions are expected to impart those

    A community's laws are part of that Social Contract and are supposed to define what that community will and will not condone as well as the details and sanctions related to them. the political structure of a community along with the rights and responsibilities of its citizens is called a Constitution. It defines citizenship. interestingly, most national constitutions where created and defined decades or even centuries ago by people whose values and concerns may well have fallen out of fashion or popularity.

    All of which returns us to Mr. Pinter's question - When did any of us get the chance to agree to that contract or even to question its content? Why, if the Social Contract is central to citizenship is it not also central to the educational curriculums of most Western schools?
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      Nov 5 2013: Thank you, William, for this contribution. It certainly is all about the Social Contract (of which the largest part, particularly with respect to financial matters, is of course formalised in law).

      Do we get a chance to agree to the contract? Well there are always some hurdles to take, but you can always emigrate. If I look around the world at the available alternatives, I'm anything but dissatisfied with the Contract I happened to be born into.
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      Nov 5 2013: calling it contract does not make it a contract. it is just a metaphor, and a quite bad one at that. not only i didn't agree to that, i'm strongly in opposition of many things done in its name. for example unemployment benefits.
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        Nov 5 2013: Too bad if you don't like it. if its a governmental policy duly enacted by a lawful government you already agreed to it through your electoral process. As pointed out elsewhere you do not get to cheery pick what your taxes go to or what you will lawfully support.

        And the Social Contract IS a binding agreement whether you were aware of it or not through the same legislative process. .
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          Nov 6 2013: i didn't agree to elections in the first place. and i'm not part of this "agreement", i disagree. i only abide many laws because otherwise they would put me in jail. for example i would not pay unemployment benefits the way the government does, only on case by case basis, if warranted. and i would grow marijuana in my garden. saying that i have to obey exactly underlines that it is not a voluntary contract, it is imposed on me.
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        Nov 6 2013: 'i didn't agree to elections in the first place. and i'm not part of this "agreement", i disagree. i only abide many laws because otherwise they would put me in jail.'

        You did agree, by the simple fact, that you didn't leave the condition you only claim not to agree with, yet endure those conditions opportunistically because you fear to take action in your freedom to go.

        The interesting part of self-illusion and self-deception begins, when it finally kicks in and starts to work, because its gravitational field even bends logic with out the victim noticing it.

        Seen from the outside, its appears cute yet is actually pretty sad!

        May I ask you what keeps you in your country if you don't even agree on its basic principles?

        Would you also stay with a partner with whom you could not agree on the simplest rules within a relationship and of which you already knew who would keep suppressing you? And you call yourself a libertarian?

        Cute indeed and sad, very sad. Probably the same pitfall as of lip-service vs. deeds.
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          Nov 6 2013: yep. if i show up at my neighbors door, and i say: you either give me your bike, or i cut your head into two with my axe, the neighbor can freely choose, and if he chooses to let me ride away on his bike, it was a clear sign of agreement.
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        Nov 6 2013: Well, in order to deliver a working analogy, it would help to establish comparable conditions and as a majority agreement doesn't work on two people, you may try again to make your point not only understandable but also to consider some basic logic within it.
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        Nov 6 2013: If you say so, yet this doesn't make your analogy any more useful, does it?

        But I am glad you tried within your abilities. Who knows, maybe you will make a point, one day, after all ... :o)

        Let me know if something new to this comes to your mind, useful or not, we'll figure that out later.
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          Nov 6 2013: i must admit a total failure in handling people that has zero intent to have a meaningful conversation. i've never understood that mindset, i don't understand its source, background or logic. but i don't think that it is something to be embarrassed about. psychology is not my field.
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        Nov 6 2013: I assume this your conclusion is based on the 'one truth' again you are keeping?

        I explain to you, that your analogy is not logical in the given context.

        You chose to return nonsense in adding that 'government does not use axes'

        And now you accuse me to have 'zero intent' for a 'meaningful conversation'.

        Your logic bends more drastically than I imagined even before.

        So are you adding some working analogy or does your 'one truth' does not allow for any?
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          Nov 6 2013: you did not explain, you just claimed. because my example has two people, and countries have more. it was not explained why would that be important, how that makes my point invalid. it was just a claim without the slightest attempt to support it. but it was accompanied by the usual condescending and mocking tone.

          what to do when the opponent presents a non-argument among a set of taunts? i don't have neither the patience nor the forbearance to explain in detail why the non-argument is a non-argument. stupid arguments should be answered. stupid arguments presented in an arrogant way are to be mocked. maybe not, but that is what i do.
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        Nov 6 2013: 'a majority agreement doesn't work on two people'

        Do I really have to explain to you why apples can not be compared to oranges when it is about apples?
        Do I really have to do your thinking to avoid your accusation of having 'just' claimed yet not explained?

        If it would make sense, I would probably even do that, yet it doesn't because anything but yours are non-arguments in your world anyway. So much about reflections of stupid arguments and arrogance.

        If you didn't understand my line of argument you could have simply asked if a meaningful conversation was what you are after. But it seems again to be yet another excuse not to argue in any relevant way.
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          Nov 6 2013: how much mental exercise is needed to extend the argument to three people? me and my brother show up ... etc, the rest is the same. if you can't make such an adjustment yourself, this conversation will be very very long. you do that a lot. instead of focusing the core of the idea, you just pick some random unnecessary detail. you took it so much to the extreme, at one point you started to mock a very common rhetoric device i used, which leads exactly nowhere, and i don't know what purpose it serves. such a reply very much makes it sure that you don't care what my point is, so why would i explain?
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        Nov 6 2013: Interesting, because what you just said is exactly how I feel about you.

        So lets reset this conversation.

        The moment you introduce the 'majority' rule into the given scenario - and here I would rather choose for some random neighbor than a family member (to somewhat lower the risk of clan thinking) - the other neighbor from which you two take the bicycle away may feel stolen from, yet this only at the very first bike he looses and provided he knows about the agreed rule of the whole population of three people. The second bike he gets himself under the given conditions and which you take away from him again, he agrees on, as he knew about the consequences the very moment he got it. It might not feel like agreement to him, yet this doesn't matter at all, s long as he is not held hostage by the two of you and free to go to seek for a more bike friendly neighborhood.

        It may be understandable that this minority neighbor doesn't like the situation, yet his options aren't many. He can either try to convince one of you two to keep bicycles untouched and to transform the majority rule into his fashion, yet if this fails, constantly, he has to make a personal evaluation of his priorities, which either is to stay in his neighborhood without a bike, or to seek a new neighborhood where he can keep his bike. He could also try to fight the two of you and to force the minority rule on both of you, yet assuming that all of you are of same size, physical and mental strength, this option seems less promising.

        Now one could ask, why is it that way, that a majority comes to decide over minorities, as there is no natural law in this universe which could explain that. And here we have just empirical data, that people not only form tribes, groups and states naturally, yet that all of these constructs are based on agreements and compromises, as there is no other way to do it. History has also shown, that the highest level of fairness possible in this compromise is to rule by majority ..
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          Nov 6 2013: holy h christ.

          let us get this straight. so you think that if my neighbor buys another bike, and i take that too, the same way, that second act of robbery is not against moral?

          that is

          1, a redefinition of the word "consent". repeated act of violence, and the repeated act of giving in to violence is very different than consent.

          2, a terrible immoral statement. not unusual though, in fact, repeated act of giving in to violence is and was the normal mode of operation throughout the human history, with occasional acts of defiance. but being commonly accepted does not make it moral. just like slavery was considered normal for a long time, but it does not make slavery a moral institution.

          ruling is ruling. and granted, i choose ruling by elected officials (i.e ruling of the majority) over a dictatorship, but it is just the lesser of the two evils. lack or ruling is the optimal choice.
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        Nov 6 2013: because even statistically this is the best possible solution, yet by no means a guarantee for anyone within the group to feel perfectly fine, understood or even represented.

        If you happen to be the only good guy amongst hordes of idiots, your options naturally shrink proportional with the given environment. But to stay yet complain doesn't change a bit of your life quality. On the contrary, as you are wasting your time in finding a better place at which you can life closer to your ideals and under less restrictive compromises.

        It doesn't matter that you didn't choose the place were you were borne if you can not agree on its basic rules. The only thing that matters are your priorities and your will to take on its consequences.
        Fighting windmills and knowing about it is stupid, at that point one get to realize that ones chance to actually win are to low for an average lifespan.

        Many Germans left this countries at a time, where military service here was a rule and no option. They left their comfort zone for their true convictions, and many have never returned ever since. This is the true meaning of personal freedom. It comes often for a high price, yet the moment one accepts its value, the price is payed and not just expected to come as a bargain.

        I was trying to make this point clear to you and in doing so I used more than 2000 characters. There are 12 days left on this conversation, so I do expect you to read through it and to spare me any tl:dr comment.
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        Nov 6 2013: How do you define robbery? How does moral form? All of these concepts are exchangeable and nothing but agreements.

        Personally I consider it robbery if you take someones bike away without his/hers consent, yet not per se and only seen within the whole detail of this situation. I also consider it robbery if an employer pays employees less than he gains in value out of their work, because consent makes only sense if alternatives are available.

        If I stole a bike and you steal it from me could I morally complain about it?

        If a white farmer made a fortune in South Africa during the apartheid regime by exploiting the natives, is his family 10 years later legally the owner of that wealth?

        If the only drinking water within a desert region was on private property and the owner refuses to share
        it with other people in need, is he acting violent against those people?

        Can you ever have consent of all people within any society? Does private property always goes before common interest? I think this is way beyond any 'one fits all solution', at any given time, in any possible situation and therefore has to be dynamically discussed and adjusted and this constantly.

        Slavery never was a moral institution, yet slavery comes in several forms, of which on some of which we highly disagree with one another to even name it as such. And not on purpose and for the joy of our disagreement, yet because of different perceptions of one and the same thing.

        Lack of ruling may be the optimal choice, although I don't think it would work, yet so may be green the optimal color for our skies.

        This idea is as utopian to me as the idea of perfect communism, as both are ignoring basic and intrinsic characteristics of human behavior, which are marked as a thick fat line and traceable all the way through our recorded history, that there are strong and opposing forces for this to happen.

        Some people just need to control other people in their interest and this alone screws the whole idea up.
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        Nov 6 2013: So even if I wish for the water to flow upwards, I have to consider how it behaves in reality to find the best possible compromise for it to flow at its lowest resistance, if that was my goal.

        Yet I am also struggling with your understanding of consent and agreements in general, because at one time you don't mind price-fixing as long as two competitors agree on it in their yet against the consumers interest, which is nothing but a minority rule, yet on the other hand the majority rule of the people in a community is just the lesser of two evils. There is no consistency in your argumentation for me, yet this not by the fact, that our definition of morals are in conflict, as they well are, but as it doesn't behave consistent as it constantly re-defines itself where it is applicable and where it is not.

        I do feel the same way, that democracy as we have it today and as it it put into practice, is nothing but the lesser of several evils, yet it seems not to evolve in any positive direction, on the contrary, as the concentration of ruling power and corruption by governments AND corporations has taken over the majority rule as if it was planned.

        Nevertheless, lack of ruling doesn't work either, as it only gives room for those who crave to rule. Therefor the ruled have to become their own ruler for best possible compromises. And if for some those compromises are not acceptable, and no other way can be found to realize their specific needs, than they can not be helped in order to maintain the administration of the whole.

        The reason why so many urgent decisions on international levels are not made, is because of blocking minorities who allow for this to happen. If on purpose for better 'negotiations' or by good intentions, doesn't matter, because if the result is paralysis instead of acting, nothing is going to change and precious time wasted. Decisions should not come hasty, of course, yet they also should not be used as a theater for personal vanity.
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        Nov 6 2013: Well, this is about your credibility, not mine. :o)
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        Nov 10 2013: 'i must admit a total failure in handling people that has zero intent to have a meaningful conversation. i've never understood that mindset, i don't understand its source, background or logic.'

        At least is has become clear now that this total failure is not related to other people who started a meaningful conversation with you. Thanks for this final record! :o)
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          Nov 10 2013: why would i have problem handling people that started meaningful conversations? i just participate in the conversation, and that is all. it might be boring for you, but i like it.
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        Nov 10 2013: It is obvious what you like in conversations, nevertheless is off sync with what you demand from others and this is just another prove of it.
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          Nov 10 2013: you are not the first one trying to draw conclusions from how our conversations tend to end, and attribute that to me. probably you will not going to be the first to discover that actually you are the problem.
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        Nov 11 2013: ts;dr
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    Nov 5 2013: I'm against unemployment benefits in the case somebody refuses a job because it's apparently below his level of skills or expectation.
    If there are any unemployment benefits they shouldn't be higher than minimum wages and only for a reasonable limited time that allows for job hunting (perhaps 3 months). If a person refuses a job, unemployment benefits should be cancelled immediately.
    This is one of the problems we have in Europe. We are too social for our own good.
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      Nov 5 2013: 'This is one of the problems we have in Europe. We are too social for our own good'

      So this was the reason for the current financial crisis ... I see ... and I was thinking it was caused by bail-out programs for private banks by taxpayer money which is causing the problems here ...
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        Nov 5 2013: Touche Lejan. At least in recent history there's rather a lot of egg on the faces of the free market lobby
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          Nov 5 2013: One should think this way, yet if you take a look on reality, nothing has changed since, has it?

          The usual blame-game, yet no consequences.

          I can not wrap my mind around the given worldwide paralysis. One should think as well, that once we learned our lessons on 'to big to fail', 'to big to jail' corporations, that it would be in our very interest to undo them, step by step, so that governments can not be blackmailed by their 'big players' ever again.

          Yet instead - business as usual ...

          Something has gotten seriously out of control here and it doesn't seem to correct itself by plain and applied common sense anymore.

          This is what concerns me more than the usual 'free market' propaganda.
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        Nov 5 2013: bailout programs came late in the crisis. but it is in fact very akin to social programs. the state decides what is needed and what is not. creating public healthcare program or protecting big companies are both state decisions that disregard the will of the people.
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          Nov 5 2013: Bailout programs came right away in the crisis and here Europe learned very fast from the US.

          And as usual you are twisting the facts.

          No private company (bank) was ever forced by any government to take any bail-out money.
          On the contrary. It was those 'free market heroes' who blackmailed their states in doing so and this against the interest of their people (tax-payers).

          The 'no alternative' mantra was coined and the 'to big to fail' and 'to big to jail' reality was promoted by the propaganda of people of your mindset.

          Of course you see only that the state 'decides' and you ignore what and especially who forced this decisions. Black and white syndrome as usual.

          Island choose a different path and to me they choose the right one.

          Yet I would even agree to help private companies in 'difficult times' when this makes sense to stabilize a current situation to gain time to fix and correct the underlaying cause of he problem within the whole system.

          By this current crisis, my lesson learned was, that no private company is allowed anymore to reach a critical size and influence, by which a view directors are capable to rule whole nations in their interest. This got to stop, yet if you take a look on reality, no one is doing anything against it and business moves on as usual.

          To you it is the government who allows this, to me, it is blackmailed and corrupt politicians who keep the interest of the 1%.

          And because your liberal ideology protects the interest of this 1%, you should rather be grateful to the bail-out programs than against it.
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        Nov 5 2013: i hear this argument a lot, and i just could not wrap my head around it. it goes as "no banks are forced to take bailout" or "nobody is forced to take this or that benefit" or "nobody forces you to use state built roads". how is that an argument? what it supposed to suggest? it is a complete non sequitur, and makes little sense. everyone in the right mind accepts handouts. why on earth would i reject it? i oppose the system, not deny it. i want this to end, and not pretending that it ended already. the bad part is not the handouts, but that they extort to finance it. it won't fixed by not accepting the loot.
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          Nov 5 2013: Of course you hear this argument a lot because it is obvious that you don't get it.

          So why on earth would someone reject a handout?

          Well, I would expect at least those people who claim that nothing is or should be free. Because when they claim such things but then take handouts, they are simply inconsistent.

          So I have to stress it again. If you feel extorted that you have to pay taxes and that some of your tax money is used for handouts, than don't pay taxes. And if you are not willing to face the consequences combined with it, then go some other place where you don't have to face those consequences and where you don't have to pay anything to anyone.

          There are still some very remote places on this planet where you can make your dreams come true. And as you don't care for your fellow citizen anyway, I don't actually see any reason why you let anyone bully you. You are free to leave at any given time. Yet don't blame others that you resist to leave your comfort zone. Be creative, be flexible, if your personal liberty is that much worth to you. But if you stay and complain, you are compromising your believes over comfort and opportunism.

          I know this hurts to realize within a libertarian mind, yet freedom does not always come painless, does it?

          Why is it that I get the impression, that this is not the last time you get to hear this argument?
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        Nov 5 2013: in your book, when the mafia shows up and offers "protection", the owner should say "okay, i pay, but i don't want you to protect my place.". and somehow that would be more consistent? and that constitutes your argument?

        it does not work, but even if it did, it still would not mean anything, because my argument stands independently of my behavior. so this "you do this, therefore your argument is invalid" argument is, well, let's just say invalid.
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          Nov 5 2013: Ii is interesting what you can see in my book, yet I can assure you, that your view is wrong.

          Given your talent to confuse things, have you ever considered to work in PR or as a lobbyist? I mean, getting actually paid for what you doing for free here on TED.

          That your ideology stands independent of your behavior is obvious and therefore any denial of yours not surprising.

          Religious people react the same way when you reflect their inconsistency, their double-standards back onto them and just like you, they repeat their mantras again and spin the prayer wheel for another turn.

          The problem is, that this mindset in itself is a dead end and does not allow for sense to trickle in, neither by observation, experience or even reflection, as it would question and therefore endanger its very ideology.

          Because of this, of course you don't see any contradictions and it is my experiment to see how far and deep this can go. But don't worry, I am nice with guinea pigs... :o)
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        Nov 5 2013: your comment here can be summarized as "no". plus a lot of very tasteless remarks.
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          Nov 5 2013: No.

          And what is tasteless to you? Are you piqued just because or could you explain what hurt your sense of taste?
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        Nov 5 2013: Hi Lejan, I didn't say that unemployment benefits are the reason for the economic crisis. I said that it is one of a number of problems.
        But to make it as simple as possible, I just don't support a system that benefits the lazy.
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          Nov 5 2013: How do you connect unemployment with laziness?

          This would mean, that the great depression caused millions of people worldwide to become lazy blobs over night, right?
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        Nov 5 2013: here are some quotes that does not have place in a civilized conversation:

        "Given your talent to confuse things, have you ever considered to work in PR or as a lobbyist?"

        "That your ideology stands independent of your behavior is obvious and therefore any denial of yours not surprising."

        " and just like you, they repeat their mantras again and spin the prayer wheel for another turn"

        "this mindset [...] does not allow for sense to trickle in"

        "I am nice with guinea pigs"

        on the argument pyramid, these score somewhere between level 1 and 2.
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          Nov 5 2013: So you are saying the following:

          In a civilized world there is no place for:

          Talents, PR, lobbyists, double-standards, contradictions, mantras, prayer wheels, mindsets and guinea pigs. Right?

          What a civilization! :o)
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        Nov 5 2013: no, i say you have a very uncivilized attitude. i hope you are angry, because it is at least an excuse. if you are like that normally, that is really bad.
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          Nov 5 2013: No, I am not angry, just reflecting some attitude, maybe this is what bothers you?


          Maybe it helps to study a bit of the 'self-view' / 'external view' relations to understand what I am doing? I don't know, just a thought.

          Actually I am always very amused while talking to you, can't you 'feel' that? It is always a challenge to use exactly enough but not to many characters not to not loose your attention, but also to transport at least some vague ideas from my side.
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        Nov 5 2013: reflecting? no doubt you can support that claim with some quotes i believe.
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        Nov 5 2013: that's pretty thin
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        Nov 5 2013: Lejan, we are not talking about the great depression but about today.
        I don't ask you to share my point of view. People not getting a job for a prolonged period of time are either lazy or just not willing to take a job unless it meets their criteria.
        If jobless, you can't allow yourself the luxury of being picky. Take whatever you get and improve upon that.
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          Nov 5 2013: I was asking you for your connection of unemployment with laziness and as much as I see you return the usual 'lazy bone' mantra without any deeper reflection.

          Thats fine with me and it was not my intention for us to agree on that. I just wanted to know.
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        Nov 6 2013: Lejan, regrettable you don't completely read what is written. I was not relating unemployment to laziness, but related receiving long term unemployment benefits to laziness. That's quite different.
        To put it simple, if you lose your job, get your a** off the chair and get yourself something to do, regardless whether or not that is something below your skill or expectation level. Just don't be a burden on society.
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          Nov 6 2013: Harald, I already got your point, thank you and I did read what you have written carefully. Nevertheless there was no other aspect in it than the usual 'lazy bone'' mantra I hear here as well, so no need to dig any deeper into this matter with you.
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        Nov 6 2013: Took some time, but I'm glad you finally got it ;-)
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          Nov 6 2013: Not finally, Harald, I got it right after you answered my question. And questions we ask to eliminate the benefit of the doubt, don't we? ;o)
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    Nov 17 2013: Of course exchange and trade is a large part of human history. And so is the fact that in many places on this planet the masses worked/toiled primarily for the benefit of the aristocracies, monarchies and military juntas of the day throughout that history. Instead of employees we had serfs, slaves and peasants The masses were only as free as their "master" allowed them to be and were permitted enough food and shelter for themselves as long as their toil was profitable to the "masters"

    The early capitalists that lead the Clearings of the Scottish Highlands found sheep farming to be far more profitable and far less labour intensive than crops. So off with the people and make way for the sheep was the new mandate from the "masters".

    A scenario that has been played out time and time again over the ages by various forms of 'entrepreneurs, many of whom were and still are just middlemen. Indian reservations and apartheid like regimes were just another model of systems in transition as the spin doctors would call it.. Entrepreneurs are not all creative and industrious. They often simply insinuate themselves into a monetary exchange.by offering some modest participation or service which then increases the cost to all those further down the line. Criminals often do the same thing but with a lot less adherence to the accepted decorum and structures of exchange.

    And the call for greater personal freedom of choice has been around as long as these traditional exchanges of labour. And the one choice more and more people are demanding is to spend far more of the limited time they have in this life on personal pursuits such as parenting, caring for elderly family members, volunteering and community focused endeavours, taking as much time as we need for mourning and recovering from trauma or injury or illness and a host of other activities that are far more important to them and the communities tine in than simply exchanging their labour for wages.
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    Nov 17 2013: Sigh, there are far more important ways of employing one's short time on this earth than simply exchanging one's labour for wages. Of course this whole nonsense about employment has only been around for a few hundred years, namely since the Industrial Revolution when corporations were born and public lands began to be gobbled up by the greedy and speculators. For thosands of years Prior to this insanity each and every person was more or less self sustaining and independent albeit at a minimalist level. .

    Today science and technology is removing the all too fallible and often inadequate human component from the workforce at an ever escalating rate and full employment has never been possible and never will be.

    Interesting, while "freedom" is a growing buzzword of the 21st century the vast majority of people are indentured to the tired old outdated work ethic and employment rhetoric. But if we are ever to be truly free - meaning free to live our lives following whatever pursuit we desire whether it be parenting, inventing, volunteering or acquiring stuff then we all must be free of this wage slave relationship that has been foisted upon us. .

    And NO, work will not set you free. .
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      Nov 17 2013: Certainly 'work for wages' hasn't been with humanity from the start (since money wasn't either) but in pre-industrial times I think communities also expeted people to pull their weight rather than just sitting back enjoying themselves and expecting to be fed/clothed/protected etc (ok, with the exception of the aristocrasy....)

      Money is only a mechanism that formalises it. The underlying point is whether you can expect to get something for nothing.

      And work may not set you free, but I do think that it is good for a person's psychological well-being and self-valie to feel valued in a group, which is not likely if you just sit around doing nothing.
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        Nov 17 2013: lmao.... as I said above "there are far more important ways of employing one's short time on this earth than simply exchanging one's labour for wages". and there is nothing in that about "sitting around doing nothing". But too many still seem fixated on the worn out and increasingly irrelevant concept of exchanging labour for wages as the sole form of "employing" a person's time and energy.. .
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          Nov 17 2013: My point is not so much that everyone should labour for wages, but that they should labour for goods. Money is just the middle man - an expression of value which can be applied to labour of goods. People don't want benefits to have the money, they want them for the goods they can buy with that money. The question is whether you have a right to valuable goods and services if you are not prepared to produce any goods or services.
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        Nov 17 2013: and my point is that there are far more community and personally related endeavours people can focus on than simply exchanging their labour to satisfy someone else's agendas.
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      Nov 17 2013: exchange and trading is older than agriculture. a lot older actually. it is relatively safe to say that the starting point of human civilization was that large leap in the division of labor. since then, every step ahead brought about an even larger scale cooperation, and further division of already extremely divided labor. one by one, people quit daily activities they always had since the dawn of time, and create a dedicated profession to deal with said task. we don't grow our own food, we don't make clothing or furniture, and so on. we have experts that are best at that task.

      so it also happened with risk taking and risk management. we have created the profession of the entrepreneur. it is his job to anticipate future trends and prices, and anticipate the popularity of a new or changed product. it is his job to deal with uncertainty. and we just show up, do the job, and get money immediately, whether the plan works out as expected or not. that is, we are employed. it is not a necessity. as you can bake your own bread. you can deal with your own risks. but most people prefer an employment setting, and let risk takers take risks instead.
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    Nov 16 2013: I guess that if we all to simply honour our passions and natural abilities by serving the world with them in the way that only each of us can, there would probably be no such thing as 'unskilled labour'.

    I wonder if 'Unskilled labour' is merely a perception of others that may be or may not be true.

    "As a man thinketh .... he is."
  • Nov 7 2013: I agree and have done many physical jobs, like construction and garbage collection. I never felt that it was demeaning. On the other side, I have seen people do things to avoid what they thought were demeaning -like separating printouts, they take their printout and leave a pile or mess for someone else to clean up. I have asked and they say they are not clerks.

    I agree there are people who abuse the unemployment insurance system. Unfortunately, some systems pay more than minimum wage and there is no advantage to working. A better system is needed.

    For those who are interested, in the US the unemployment insurance system is run by each state with Federal audits. The Insurance rate is set by the number of people who worked for a company are claiming unemployment benefits. If a company has not laid off anyone will pay the minimum rate. While a company that has laid off a large number of individuals will pay a higher rate. Each state sets the requirements and manages the payment.
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      Nov 7 2013: Interesting, but rather strange. So if a company faces hard times and has to lay people off, they have to pay for it? Sounds like it could easily spiral into bankrupcy.
      • Nov 8 2013: It is not as bad as it sounds - it based on a pool - normal insurance. for each employee, the employer pays a percentage of the 1st 5k to 10k (depends upon the state). The percentage for those that have a low unemployment is .06 % (3 to 6 dollars ) to a max of 6.34% (317 to 634) and it is an annual payment.
  • Nov 6 2013: I don't.
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      Nov 6 2013: Nice pen name. Down hill all the way? ;-)
      • Nov 8 2013: Depends on how much energy is available. :)
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          Nov 8 2013: Watch out for the turbulence then... ;-)
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    Nov 6 2013: Sadly t'was ever thus that n the past certain serfs and slaves alike have complained that their fellow toilers were 'not pulling their weight'. :)
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    Nov 5 2013: In various degrees of radicality all these contributors seem to agree that it unreasonable to expect society to provide you with support but object to performing (if necessary) unskilled labour in return.

    If there ANYONE OUT THERE who would disagree?
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      Nov 5 2013: it is not the point i made. my point was: it must not be coercive. you are free to create a fund, and convince people to donate. what is not okay is to take the money without consent.
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        Nov 5 2013: We have created a fund. It is called taxation. By chosing to live in a country you choose to accept its taxation system. You even have the opportunity to change it through the democratic process. What else could you ask for?

        Fragmenting it into little clubs of people all making their own rules would just be ridiculiously inefficient and too unstable to support the kind of economy that we all benefit from.
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        Nov 5 2013: I think that if you will find that if you create a fund with other people, they will not consider your contribution voluntary. Then, too, you will find yourself making binding obligations.

        True, you did not PERSONALLY compile the obligations you are under in your country, but that is just efficient division of labour. If we all had to work on designing taxation systems it would be rather a waste of time. Apart from the fact that most of us would make a pigs ear of it.
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          Nov 5 2013: o_O

          are you certain you know what a fund is?

          listen. if you don't see the difference between donation and taxation, i see absolutely no way to explain my views to you, because the difference is a key element of it.
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          Nov 6 2013: I think what Krisztián likes to have is to live within a society, yet this society comes with no obligations whatsoever. That it becomes difficult to distinguish who payed in what fund freely to gain its 'right' to use or to benefit from it, seems to be of small detail only,

          So in such a society you have a multitude of different fonds, eg. streets, libraries, military, etc. in which you donate freely what deems useful to you at one given point in time and if one is lucky and other donors think the same way, then those things become reality one day. Probably comparable to the 'invisible hand' of supply and demand magic, this society develops by the free choice of their free people and somehow manages by another invisible force or magic, that no parasitic behavior perpetuates itself.

          So any time you use a street or sidewalk you got to identify your free donation to people who watch the streets and sidewalks, that no unauthorized person, namely someone who did not donate to the 'street fond', is using it illegally.

          I have my doubts if this is supportive to individual freedom, as it looks more to me than one big control mechanism, because we all now, that people like to cheat to get something for free.

          Yet this seems to be the secret of libertarian magic to get this to work properly.

          Just my thoughts.
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          Nov 6 2013: Hi Lejan, actually that wouldn't be a bad idea. Let's say, the only obligation you have is to pay 30 % taxes. But then you choose into which funds you will put this money. Perhaps a lot of people will put money into the eduction fund or into the infrastructure fund. Probably fewer might pay into the military fund.
          Being free as how to allocate your tax money would be a way of direct democracy.
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        Nov 6 2013: Couldn't have put it better myself, Lejan. Would seem to me a little impractical at least.
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      Nov 6 2013: Wrong, I mentioned several time that I'm against support (with the exception of some limited short term support) and I also favor that in case one loses his job, he should take whatever he can get, even if that is below his skills and/or expectations.
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        Nov 6 2013: Clear. And entirely reasonable in my books.
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    Nov 5 2013: "I do think you're deluded if you really believe in this extreme degree of individual independence."

    nice start to a conversation :) and i believe you dismiss uncomfortable information instead of dealing with it, which is not a very responsible thing to do.

    "Without our society around us we would be nothing but naked apes struggling for survival. "

    which society? we have local societies, neighborhoods, etc. that is a real thing, that is just cooperation. that is voluntary interaction between human beings. nation wide societies does not exist, and these are just modern "kingdoms", in which not a king rules, but a complex network of subsystems, but it makes no fundamental difference.

    make note one more time: we are not talking about individualism vs co-dependence. we are talking about voluntary cooperation vs coercion by king, committee or 51%.

    this liberty which i'm describing here is discussed in detail for hundreds of years now. the modern literature consists of dozens of books. time to catch up on it, because this philosophy made the west the technology/knowledge leader of the world, but we are about to abandon it.
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      Nov 5 2013: 'because this philosophy made the west the technology/knowledge leader of the world'

      This may be the time for another 'When ideas have sex' mantra?

      What is the 'technology/knowledge leader of the world' worth, when it can not be sustained? And this not because of some intruding and alternative world views, but by its intrinsic destructive character itself?

      Do you still see people like Steve Jobs as a role model?
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        Nov 5 2013: yeah, i suppose the 3rd world intentionally did not advance in technology to save the planet :)

        i don't have role models, but the science denialist steve jobs is as far from it as it gets.
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          Nov 5 2013: Krisztián, did you just smile at me? Is this ':)' emoticon intentionally typed or accidentally?

          :o)

          So the first world is saving the planet to you? Interesting, any contradictory observations made so far, or just another 'buffer overflow' because pollution and exploitation takes more than 140 characters to be understood, not to mention realized?

          And how can Steve Jobs be as far of a role model to you if you don't have any? Another 'my logic rules - you are wrong' presentation or did I miss something here? Or did you even discover 'generally speaking'? :o)
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        Nov 5 2013: wow, listen to that gem:

        me: the first world got advanced through freedom
        you: how is that good if it is not sustainable
        me: the 3rd world is not poor because they try to save the planet
        you: so you say the 1st world is saving the planet?

        i also don't know what is "as far of a role model". i said "far from it".
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          Nov 5 2013: See this happens with 140 characters restrictions and tl;dr pit-falls,

          so what do we do?

          And yes, 'far from it' would be 'generally speaking' in the given context, would it?
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        Nov 5 2013: i see no similarity between "far from it" and "generally speaking". far from it means "not at all" in any contexts except when it means real spatial distance.
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          Nov 5 2013: So there is no one on this world to whom Steve Jobs is his/her role-model? Because if there was, 'not at all' would be false a statement if not generally spoken, correct?

          I am afraid, there are such people to whom ...
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          Nov 5 2013: And what do we do? You keep ignoring cakes to focus on crumbs! :o)
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        Nov 5 2013: nope, it is not correct, but the linguistics class is over.
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          Nov 5 2013: Take this one for example. And? Anything OK with this, your attitude?

          me: experiment / guinea pig
          you: teacher / student

          intention = the same

          Civilization factor? Well, at least I said that I am nice to guinea pigs and marked the whole with an emoticon as a joke.

          But now you will probably use the same 'refection' argument to bring your point home ... :o)
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        Nov 5 2013: it does not work, sorry. you were uncivilized here when you made fun of me in a very dumb way, interpreting a well known phrase literally. it is very unlikely that you are unfamiliar with this very common language element, like "i could not care less" or "this is the least of my worries". making fun of such statements is acceptable before the age of 8. and my remark simply means, no, i'm not playing that game, it is stupid.
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          Nov 5 2013: See, just as expected. Now I am stupid and acting below the age of an 8 year old and this is a civilized conversation to you.

          And because you see it this way, I keep reflecting the same attitude and I could not care less if you like it or not.

          As usual, you are free to react on my comments, no one forces you, so come on
          Krisztián, get off your couch and take your liberty!

          :o)
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        Nov 5 2013: it is there, black and white. were you making fun of my words? were your jokes primitive? these are factual questions, and i explained how and why. telling the truth always falls within the scope of a civilized discourse. acting like you falls outside of it. calling attention to your behavior is perfectly okay, or even desirable. such things are better called out, and not remain unmarked.
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          Nov 6 2013: This works both ways from any 'holier-than-thou' perspective. Just think about it for a sec or two, than you may see it yourself. I doubt it though, as for the given circumstances.

          And once again Krisztián Pintér is the keeper, defender and sentinel of 'the truth', his truth, which is pretty much the same, and anyone who dares to have different views, different impressions, different humor, different conclusions is not just wrong, but also not civilized.

          Pride, my dear friend, goes before a fall.

          The fact that you don't share my humor does not make it any more primitive than yours. The fact that you don't like people make fun of your words is your, not 'the people' problem and you ether choose to ignore those conversations or you agree on it the moment you respond.

          If yo can't take other peoples 'truth' besides yours, you may consider open Internet discussions not the best way to waste your time on, also given your tremendous long 'to do list', and seek for people who say amen to anything you tell them and this while they always keep smiling submissively to you.

          I may not fit precisely in this last category... :o)
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        Nov 6 2013: truth is only one, and no matter how much you try to muddy the waters, making fun by taking phrases literally is not "different". it is just primitive. you can call it your truth, but it changes its nature in no way. also, calling the other "my friend", and the other remarks are examples upon examples of this. but you are free to go on, and demonstrate it even more.
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          Nov 6 2013: I said 'my dear friend' not just 'my friend', so if you choose to quote anyone, you may stick to 'the truth' in what you are quoting.

          Anyway, I don't really get what you are complaining about again and this probably by the fact, that your understanding of 'truth is only one' stays mysterious to me. What does this mean? I don't get it. And to stress your own words on this, it is 'word salad' to me, sorry.
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        Nov 6 2013: that is your defense?

        i'm not complaining, i'm saying that your style of conversation is of the lowest level. i also said that this should not be left unnoticed.

        if you don't understand that there is only one truth, well, i can't help with it.
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          Nov 6 2013: What defense? I am just given you truth. Need any help or any further 'no complains'?

          What color has this 'one truth' you are keeping? Did it come to you or did you came to it?Is there more of it, or just one?

          I think you didn't even understand what I was saying. :o)
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          Nov 6 2013: Guys, please! Wrap this up....
          It's not really contributing anything to the discussion.
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    Nov 5 2013: in my view: nobody should get unemployment benefits, and then everyone can decide freely what job to take or what else to do.
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      Nov 5 2013: No one is forced to take unemployment benefits, therefore everyones choice still is free.
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        Nov 5 2013: then i choose not to finance unemployment benefits. i pay that much less taxes from tomorrow. or i'm not *that* free?
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          Nov 5 2013: You can do that from tomorrow on, no problem. Yet do not expect personal freedom to come without consequences when you freely choose to live in a society. Its no cherry picking.
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        Nov 5 2013: i don't remember freely choosing taxpaying, nor being a member of any societies. this was as much a free choice as a restaurant owner chooses to pay the mob for "protection".
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          Nov 5 2013: When a restaurant owner pays the mob for 'protection', he/she does so to avoid the consequences. If you pay your taxes in your country, you do this for the same reason.

          The only choice you didn't make free, was the fact that you were born, by whom and where, but thats the same with all of us.

          Probably in your country as well, from 18 years onwards you could just have avoided pretty much anything you didn't like to do. Yet it is so easy to blame others that you shy to make your own decisions and to live life your way.

          It is more comfortable to you to rather pay taxes and complain about it, but to take the final consequences not to pay them. No one is holding you in your community, no one can. So the moment you choose to stay, you agree with the given conditions around you.

          It is that simple. No godfather here. Just you very 'comfort zone' hurdle.

          So either stop whining or start acting.
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          Nov 5 2013: Krisztian, please feel free to move to a country where you don't have to pay taxes. I think you'll find that alternative rather less appealing.
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        Nov 5 2013: "When a restaurant owner pays the mob for 'protection', he/she does so to avoid the consequences. If you pay your taxes in your country, you do this for the same reason."

        bingo! that is my point exactly.

        "So either stop whining or start acting."

        i'm acting. i'm telling people about true economics and the philosophy of liberty. because i don't want to change the ruler. i want people to stop appointing rulers.
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          Nov 5 2013: This is self-deception at work.

          You keep paying your taxes and you do not act accordingly to your ideal of liberty.

          What you do is 'couch potato' style libertarianism, sitting on soft pillows and doing lip-service exclusively, because you simply fear the consequences you are preaching.

          What are you waiting for? Why don't you act today? Do you need back-up in some followers of your philosophy in economics and philosophy to finally dare acting yourself?

          This is so cute!

          Its like a little boy on the playground telling the bully about its imaginary big brother who is going to protect him. Yet because the bully doesn't care and keeps beating him up, he returns day after day to the same playground, tells the same imaginative story and gets beaten up over and over again. And because the little boy is more afraid to play alone in the woods, he chooses punishment over his personal freedom, liberty as well as its physical and mental health.

          You don't have to change any ruler (bully) to make your liberty a reality. And you are nothing but hiding behind your 'educational illusion', because the woods appear so shady ...

          Very cute indeed. :o)
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        Nov 5 2013: using the metaphor we established earlier, you say "you are not really against the mob, if you get along with them. you are not acting according to your views. you are just a couch-antimob."

        but it seems you also understood that the state is a bully. we are getting somewhere. on the other hand, if we add up the two things you say here, it turns out that you love to be bullied, and choose to? this is the weirdest position ever.
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          Nov 5 2013: I do not suffer your fixation on simple rules, such as:

          state(government = bad
          free markets = good

          Because the world, states and economics are way more complex than that.

          My view is focused on cause and result relationships and how it effects people.

          Therefore I see bullying by its result first and then trace back to its cause.

          So no, sorry, we are not getting anywhere in your proposed context.
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        Nov 5 2013: that is your princess/dragon world view maybe, but not mine. in my world view state = coercion and free market = lack of coercion.

        cause and result relationship does not allow aggression and coercion. i mean, should not. i reject, on moral basis, any utilitarian views.
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          Nov 5 2013: One got to be out to lunch to seriously claim that free markets lack coercion and the reason for this mental absence are free meals coming in certain ideologies.

          If my princess is cause for my dragon to suffer, I at least know who to help, jail and even slay if necessary. And if its the dragon, he's facing the same.

          Cause and result relationship does not allow for aggression and coercion, they are tools to spot them and to find and fight their reasons.

          Enjoy your meal. :o)
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        Nov 5 2013: " and the reason for this mental absence are free meals coming in certain ideologies"

        what does that even supposed to mean?
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          Nov 5 2013: I am not certain if this translates correctly from my native language, yet if it does, its meaning would be 'indirect allusion' and/or a 'pun' in the given context.

          I am sorry when I overcharged your rhetorical imagination abilities.
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        Nov 5 2013: i don't know if it translates, because it is word salad to me. but if it is not important, forget about it.
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          Nov 5 2013: I almost did if you would not have replied on it again.

          Anyway, it is a bit difficult to communicate in less than three digits before things turn into veggies for you, but I may be more lucky another time.
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      Nov 5 2013: Could you explain why not?
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        Nov 5 2013: reason 1: the free market handles it better. you can get insurance against unemployment, you can have savings, etc.

        reason 2: who finances it? as of now, the money is taken away from those others that work, against their will. it is extortion, by very definition. except if the government does that, it is called tax.
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          Nov 5 2013: 1) 'the free market handles it better'

          Thats ideology, no explanation.

          2) 'who finances it'

          The people of a society who installed this social program and companies who are part of this society. Wealthier people pay more, poorer people pay less.
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          Nov 5 2013: I think Lejan is being a little harsh on you Kristian, but I do think you're deluded if you really believe in this extreme degree of individual independence. Without our society around us we would be nothing but naked apes struggling for survival.

          For everything you have, own, use from the shirt on your back to the food you eat, you are dependent. To expect this without having to pay anything seems a little churlish to me.

          We can of course argue on what role government should play in maintaining a stable, safe and comfortable society, priorities etc. but without it everything would fall apart. Taxes are a small price to pay.
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          Nov 5 2013: What is your response to the argument that human beings are irrationnal and need a State the way children need parents?
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        Nov 5 2013: the counterargument is that the state is operated by human beings and officials are elected by human beings, therefore the state can't solve this problem.
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          Nov 5 2013: Some would retort that the State has already shown it was capable of outweighing the fact that it was operated by irrationnal human beings. (Not in every country, allas)
          Even if world peace should be credited to globalization, surely you agree on the good brought by democracies, don't you? Or do you think they came into place once trade allowed it?
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        Nov 5 2013: how did the state show that?

        i don't agree that democracies brought good. freedom brought good. the demand for freedom resulted in both the rise of the west and the establishment of democracies. they don't have a relationship, but a common cause.
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      Nov 5 2013: I'm not saying that people should not get unemployment benefits. I certainly don't want people in my vicinity with no source of income for three reasons.

      Firstly for the selfless reason that I think our material wealth is easily sufficient to support the less fortunate in our society.

      Secondly for the security it offers as an insurance since I can never guarantee it won't happen to me.

      Thirdly for the purely selfish reason that this puts my own material possessions at risk of theft from people with nothing left to loose.

      My question was whether there is anything wrong with asking people to do unskilled work in return for this support, but I guess that already makes me a big softy in your books!
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        Nov 5 2013: if you think you gain from the fact that your money goes to an unemployed, why do you need the government for it? you can just send them the money. the very fact that the government has to force people to do it indicates that they mostly don't want to do it. in short: you advocate forcing other people to pay for the things you would like to see.
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    Nov 5 2013: Is this hypothetical or are you in this situation yourself right now?
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      Nov 5 2013: Fortunately, no. I'm lucky enough to have a job that utilises my skills. Though actually I studied biology, and ended up in IT since that was where the work was.

      The trigger to this question was a article in a Dutch Sunday paper by a woman in which a theatre manager who couldn't find work was being obliged by the council to sweep the streets. She found this degrading and beneath her dignity. The article really got my hackles up for the arrogance and ingratitude foe everything our comfortable Western society provides us with.
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        Nov 5 2013: But you consider it 'fortunate' that you found a job at least 'appropriate' to your intellectual status, which, if I am not mistaken, somewhat indicates, that you would rather avoid sweeping streets yourself, if this can be managed.

        The question remains how you would 'feel' if, for whatever reason, you would face the same fate.

        Isn't there also arrogance and ingratitude in western societies how they treat the talents of their people? Don't we have any better alternative and even need for experienced and highly skilled people than wasting their and our time by letting them sweep?

        What I have seen in this context, is, again the fear of private companies to loose their market share the moment the unemployment office would start talent appropriate bridging programs. And only because of this fear for 'competition', those programs 'have to be' chosen the way they are chosen.

        But why got everything be subordinated to the will of market mechanics? Why aren't people in our focus, rather than profits?

        Even on the long run, those practice can turn against society, if those highly frustrated and high potential people develop depressions by their given and degrading circumstances.

        I think we can do better than that and that we have to use those potentials to its very best to our society.
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          Nov 6 2013: Quite obviously, it is best if society utilises the investment it makes in training people, quite apart from the fact that it is more satisfying for trained people to utilise their skills. Certainly, I would prefer skilled labout to street sweeping. Not that that means that I look down on people performing these tasks - I am very grateful to them!

          The question is simply what to do if there is no appropriate work available. Of course many skills are transferrable, allowing horizontal transitions (I also shifted to a skilled job in IT), but what if even this is unsuccessful? (Or the person unwilling)

          But I think that just about everyone in this thread is in adreement that no-one then can reasonably refuse work below their educational level.
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        Nov 7 2013: Perhaps I am flying my own kite here, but I do refuse to believe, that within the history of mankind, the most advanced societies in their highest advanced technological as well as economical achievements can not come up with a better use of highly educated and experienced people than sweeping!

        If this is all what we have left to do to keep such people busy, than we are in more serious trouble, in more serious denial than I already expected.

        The mantra which is promoted here is to make people believe, the reason for their unemployment is THEM yet NOT related or caused by an inappropriate adjusted economical system. Because if we would question the system instead of questioning the people which can not find an appropriate job within it, then the system would be endangered in its status quo, but this is NOT in the interest of those who are currently profiting from it and shall therefore remain untouched and unquestioned.

        We have to question if we as a society allow our economical system to only care about itself, or to expect the system to serve the need of the people who not only form the market themselves, yet also perpetuate it.

        If we don't make this necessary adjustments, I can guarantee you that in the very near future we will have hundreds of thousands highly educated, highly skilled people sweeping our streets, because we are now entering a new era within the global market in which highly skilled and highly educated people can and will be hired in low income countries and this for a fraction of the costs the same skills and same education come in high income countries, such us ours.

        Yet if profit maximization is the only expectation we have for our economy, no private company would have any reason not to fire their expensive specialists they have here to hire cheaper ones elsewhere.

        And without restrictions we as a society oppose on our economical system, we are going to loose our technological and economical achievements over the profit of just a view.
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        Nov 7 2013: Maybe you start getting familiar with a broom already, because especially your business you are currently working in is going to experience this shift of highly skilled workplaces towards low income countries first. Followed by engineers, scientists, technicians, etc. somewhat later, yet in large numbers.

        India and China is already waiting, and they now offer not just cheap handwork labour anymore for low quality products, yet also the high tech specialists and mind-worker, which come for a bargain.

        Do we allow this to happen? Or is it in our interest to keep our jobs in our countries? If we do like to keep our jobs, than it is time to question the economic system, which is nomad in its nature, and to stop question the unemployed, which are only a result of it.

        Just think about it and it may become obvious what I am pointing at.
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    Nov 5 2013: I'm pretty against the concept of unemployment benefits, but I would be more willing to compromise if community service was required. I live in the US, and have friends that have been on unemployment for years, with no desire to find a job because they would lose their unemployment. Unemployment typically averages $300 a week in the US, slightly higher than a minimum wage job.
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      Nov 5 2013: What about food-stamps? Also against it?
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        Nov 5 2013: In the US, yes, but like unemployment benefits I would be willing to compromise on terms, i.e. mandatory community service, etc.

        I said in another topic on this site recently, it's not too uncommon to find people in US cities purchasing cases of cola just to dump out the cans, and collect 5 cent can deposits to buy $2 40oz's of beer. Perhaps food benefits might work different in smaller countries that have a more reasonable general populace. But growing criminal demographics in large US cities are only cultivated by free living.

        I respect this rap group for their talent and drive, but with this video they do a good job of depicting a rapidly growing criminal culture that thrives on exploiting the system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J27tRF1FvXs. They cover food benefits at 3:46.
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        Nov 5 2013: "If you don't have much, moving is no option to you, because it takes a minimum of financial means to do it."

        Or help from another. Hitch hiking is still a popular trend with younger people in the US, and the Grey Hound bus system caters to lower income. Perhaps if it was the government's responsibility to take care of each individual, a social system for food or unemployment insurance would make sense, but that's the epic battle of our time in the US. A very large number of citizens believe that social programs intrude on the lives of people who deserve to be left alone, and foster a class of people dependent on the system and with less incentive to make a living for themselves.
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          Nov 5 2013: Good luck to get your couch on a Grey Hound bus.

          This epic battle in the US is actually nicely arranged, forced and artificially introduced since the aftermath of the great depression in the 30s and part of a confusion strategy to keep the majority of workers and employees to focus their voting power in their interest.

          Before the occupy movement it was even blasphemy to question the sacrosanct system of capitalism in your country, out of which the 'there are no freebies' ideology primarily stems.

          I don't actually see any negative side when a society decides to care for their very people who for whatever reason became needy. And I do not understand this angst which gets associated with it.

          I think as social animals as we are, there is nothing wrong to care for one another and it is as natural as well to sort out those people who would misuse and undermine this care.

          It is about time to free ourselves from this cold war propaganda and our panic associated with communism and socialism, as it only hinders us to critically analyze the flaws and faults in our given system, which in order to finally evolve as society, is just a hindrance in a free and open debate about it.
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        Nov 5 2013: The New Deal was vehemently opposed by the right in the 30's, before the Cold War. In 1913 they had to ratify the 16th amendment to the Constitution to instate an income tax and form the IRS, because income tax was declared unconstitutional 20 years before that by the Supreme Court. Around that time David Lloyd George was inspired by the social welfare in Nazism and that led to welfare reform in the UK.

        I don't know what conspiracy theory you're referring to, but I find it interesting that the Democrat Party in the US is associated with caring for the poor and minorities, after they fought as slave owners in the Civil War and filibustered the Civil Rights Act for 75 hours. But that's what welfare does to politics when one party supports it and the other doesn't. I agree with you n what you say here, we're animals, there's nothing wrong with caring for one another, etc. I just don't see how those are arguments for a social welfare system. We all know what happens to animals when you feed them.
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          Nov 5 2013: 'conspiracy theory'

          Quite an handy argument, isn't it? Ranks almost equal with 'terrorist', 'whistle-blower' and 'axis of evil' nowadays.

          Let me know when you are open for a debate again.
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        Nov 5 2013: "This epic battle in the US is actually nicely arranged, forced and artificially introduced since the aftermath of the great depression in the 30s and part of a confusion strategy to keep the majority of workers and employees to focus their voting power in their interest."

        Conspiracy theories aren't necessarily false and delusional.
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        Nov 5 2013: So I wasn't calling you a terrorist. I pointed out that the fight over progressivism and the welfare state predates any Cold War propaganda and the Old Right's opposition to progressive policies was nothing new.
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          Nov 6 2013: Fred, you made me laugh and I am happy (or lucky) that you didn't call me a terrorist. :o)

          Yes, this story is as old as the clash of systems from the beginning of the industrial revolution and ever since it is only cast in 'black' and 'white' categories.

          And ever since the US is pointing at European 'Nanny states' saying 'I told you so' when our economy was down, and European 'Nanny states' were pointing at the US saying 'See, it does work' when your economy was down.

          Due to the history of my country, my generation grew up in a very positive attitude towards the US and as usual for someone who has never been there before, a certain 'glorification' can happen. But when I came to work in the US later in my life I was absolutely chocked about certain 'realities' your people had to deal with, which was no biggy at all from where I came from, namely:

          health insurance / vacation days / student loans / electrical infrastructure

          These were 'just' the biggest news I had to wrap my mind around and couldn't believe that a nation that rich that it was at that time, was actually way below the standards I was used to.

          Yet the problem in Europe began with Margaret Thatcher and her consequent elimination of any social infrastructure, which to this day keeps influencing other European countries since.

          A friend of mine in the US had to have two jobs to support his family, because one alone didn't make enough money. And he was not the only one. In those days (year 2000), this was not existing in my country or if at all, very very view people, because I had never heard or experienced this before. Today and 13 years further in cutting down wages and allowing turbo capitalism to take over Europe, we have the same tendency now in Germany, where more and more people have to have two or even more jobs to make their living, yet at the same time, their tax money is used to stabilize the system, which isn't working for them.

          The social market economy we used to have is now capitalism
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        Nov 5 2013: Lejan, on what basis do you conclude that before Occupy it was blasphemy to question capitalism in the United States? It has been common for people in the US, particularly young people, to question capitalism without any stigma associated with that position for at least fifty years.
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          Nov 6 2013: Stigmata doesn't just vanish, especially when they get deeply engraved with a nations 'spirit' and there was almost a witch hunt in the US against socialistic and communistic mindsets starting after the great depression, because it became clear to certain people, that 'one head, one vote' was actually a very powerful tool in democracy, which had to be carefully watched by certain circles of certain interest.

          During the cold war 'socialism' and 'communism' was even considered a threat to 'home security', and people branded as 'spies' of the Russian empire,

          Those hypes leave their marks and if you take a look at the development just of workers unions in the US over time, you will find them decreasing, whereas the reasons to have one are actually increasing.

          Of course young generations have also questioned capitalism in the US, thats what young generations do when they rebel against the establishment, yet what did it change?

          I am a child of the cold war and it took me many years to overcome my conditioned skepticism against Marxist and socialistic arguments and to just read them and to compare it with the current reality in capitalism. To my own surprise, I found my own critique I formed over capitalism by my experience in some respects confirmed and also realized, that I actually didn't know much about it before and this because of my conditioning and the 'spirit' of my time. In fact, I am in opposite to young generations, because when I was young I could only see the positive side of capitalism, which in those days still was a social market economy in Germany - and probably because of that, way more humane than in its pure form. Yet that has changed and so did I.

          Yet since I remember, the US always bashed Germany and other EU countries for their 'nanny attitude' and if this isn't a statement of a nations overall 'spirit', than I don't know what is.

          I found also information on this by Richard D. Wolff, an US emeritus professor of economics and confessing Marxist
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        Nov 6 2013: During the fifties, there was a stigma associated with considering socialism or critique of capitalism, but I do not think that has been true since the sixties, at least not in any part of the United States with which I am highly familiar. Different geographic areas in this large country can, I am sure you know, be very different. And some loud voices are not necessarily representative.

        I don't think that Germany is typically bashed by people living in the United States (famous historical villains excepted). If it is, I am surprised I have missed noticing.
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          Nov 6 2013: There are more than good reasons to bash Germany for its history, without doubt and rightfully so, yet this was not the bashing I was talking about. And also without doubt, the US is no monolith in its mindset of all its citizen, yet if you compare the US with Europe, it becomes obvious, that certain topics are seen completely different 'en gros' and all of them have cultural historical reasons.

          I noticed, that I learn a lot more about my own nation, the moment I use foreign media to inform myself and as more sources I have, as more complete my view can form itself.

          Thanks to the Internet, for example, I now know more about how Greek people view my nation at the moment, as I would have ever pictured if I would just have taken in the information provided my our local mainstream media. And it seems to me at times, that it has never been as important to have additional information as it is today. But here I am probably just plain wrong, as it probably was always as important even before.

          By this I came to realize, that Germany is bashing Greece into austerity programs to the most brutal levels and that we even have the power to block a referendum of the Greece people to let them decide if they want to keep the Euro or not. Mainstream doesn't bring that, other resources do, and I only happen to have the luxury of time at the moment, to dig for it... Pretty scary!

          Yet when Professor Wolff, whom I consider trustworthy, explains, that he in his high age has the 'time of its life' today and after occupy to openly discuss the Marxist criticism on capitalism in US mainstream media, than something fundamental must have changed nationwide for this to have happened.

          I do not consider myself a Marxist, yet I take it positively when we begin to also see and agree on the downsides the capitalist system has, to put all of our heads together to get it fixed and working all right for the people in each of our countries, and this for their majorities and not just for a view.
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        Nov 6 2013: The US has its problems. But outside of a subset of issues that may be in themselves good arguements for social programs, we have numerous issues that I believe become worse with social programs. Gang culture is one, illegal immigration another. Generations are growing up in ghettos like Detroit and Harlem, where crime and cheating the system is a common lifestyle. Another is government corruption. Whether it's widespread wasting of money, fraud, political scandals involving tax audits, or just inefficiency, it's become apparant that the US government system isn't fit to handle those responsibilities.

        Then there's my arguement that welfare can be psychologically unhealthy, and that we're essentially creating pets out of our populace.

        I'm not one for American exceptionalism. Many countries gradually won freedoms over the 20th century, and I believe the US has gradually been losing them. But I think there's something to be said for keeping government out of our daily lives, and the US Bill of Rights at least gives us some ground to stand on when fighting for that. The 4th amendment - the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papars and effects against unreasonable searches and siezures - is threatened by social programs that depend on databases and micromanaging the welfare of each individual. Everyone has to give up their freedom to live a private life, in order to accomodate a growing class of people that don't appreciate that freedom and believe they're entitled to wealth redistribution.

        I don't believe that social programs arise from the belief that we should take care of each other, but the belief that we're otherwise incapable of taking care of each other. But non-profits and charities exist. I'm sure someone would start one to cart homeless people to Colorado if that solution was needed.
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          Nov 6 2013: I think the problem is not the US government, but that the US government (and almost all other democratic governments I know of) is not the representative will of its people anymore.

          If the majority of US citizen would share your point of view, then there is no reason why it should not be done, or done in any other way than as you say.

          This would be a democratic decision, and if it then takes good luck and caring people to set up a charity program for homeless people in Colorado, then so it shall be.

          So the question then is, are you part of a US majority and if so, why does this majority allow a minority to rule against their will? On this, you may know the answer, I don't.
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        Nov 6 2013: I think Wolf was talking about his delight at the invitations he has been receiving to speak from various media rather than that he was restrained from expressing his views before that. He has, after all, been a tenured professor at a major university for some time without restriction of his ability to speak his views. I had a Marxist professor for Labor Economics in graduate school in the 1970s at a different major university. It has long not been unusual.

        But critique of capitalism comes, and has for decades come, not only from Marxists! It's just been so common, certainly on college campuses but also more broadly.

        In terms of views of Germany, jn case I missed something, I just asked my spouse, who is not German-American and perhaps more alert to public opinion than I am, how he would characterize Americans' view of Germany. His response was that the only negativity toward Germany is in relation to the two world wars.
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          Nov 6 2013: Ok, let me start a balloon here. How much is in your US media about the current scandal in Germany, that the official cell-phone of Angela Merkel, our Federal Chancellor, got tapped by the NSA? What details do you get to hear? What is in your 'news' about it?

          Wolf was clearly stating in one of his videos, unfortunately I don't recall in which one, that his 30+ career as a University professor didn't make him even close to become as 'real' to public awareness as he became by his invitation to public media after the latest financial meltdown.
          He described it as 'quite an experience' without me knowing his exact words on this, yet he didn't mean this positively.

          He also described, and this actually proves the sensitivity of the subject in youngest history, that in none of the US elite universities for economics, Marxism was thought, neither to him nor to any of his fellow students at that time.

          So I like to ask you how ideologically blinded a nations elite universities have to be to not teach critical aspects on its very major in economical science?

          In my education I had no choice but to take economics at my university and even then, in the late 90s neither socialism nor Marxism was ever discussed or even presented, just as if criticism of the current system was nothing important to look at.

          Yet especially education ought to be different and free from ideology, as this is exactly the point where indoctrination begins. We blame China for their censorship on certain topics, yet we seem to love to blind ourselves and coming generations in our own fashion. In terms of social evolution, this is heading nowhere, just walking on the same spot.
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        Nov 6 2013: I wish I could say I was part of a majority. I think it's roughly 50/50. Welfare has come to be one of the main polarizing issues between the Democrat and Republican parties, with Democrats largely pushing to expand social programs, and Republicans pushing to reign them in. The recent partial government shutdown can be seen as a reflection of that in a way, a stalemate between the two parties over the Affordable Care Act and the future of the country's spending.

        Among Republicans, we see more ideological differences- there are those that support global hegemony and intervention, and those who are radically against it, some more socially conservative but alright with social programs, others are more socially liberal but want to drastically limit government spending. Maybe there might be similar splits among Democrats, but with the Left cohesively united under the goals of progressivism and social reform, I'm not sure even they would notice them. It would be nice to see more ideological splits among them, maybe on neoliberal and classical liberal philosophies. That's another bone I have to pick with welfare reform - suddenly being liberal is about supporting it. The 20th century saw an incredible redefinition of liberalism in the US. At one time it was the Republican party that was the choice for the poor and minorities. Now Democrat votes are guaranteed by people dependent on welfare, Democrat and liberal are synonymous and Republican is synonymous with rich and evil. Nevermind that Democrat politicians are rich and crony. Anyone against welfare is rich and greedy, and Republicans are associated with the Confederate flag (a hilarious irony).

        Essentially, half the country wishes to emulate European social programs, and the other half wishes to stay as far away from them as possible. Which is why I believe we should leave these programs to the states, and stop playing tug-of-war with our Federal government.
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          Nov 6 2013: If its is that 'clear' as you describe it 50/50, why on earth don't 'you' just split you nation into two?

          Hiking and the Grey Hound bus system will help to sort things out for all of you guys, and each new nation can do their very experiment on their own.

          You even have two coast lines, so perfect conditions for a fair N/S cut right in the geometrical middle or for a E/W cut for more maritime balance.

          What? You can't move private property in form of land? Nah, thats details and should not hinder the rational decision of one nation to split into two for their own sake.

          But seriously, the problem with just a two party democracy is as you described and in my favored model 'direct democracy', this would be the moment for a referendum to really count any single vote to find who is and who isn't majority. Odd numbers in active votes would help on that very day for sure.
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        Nov 6 2013: With direct democracy you still have one group terrorizing the other, or tyranny by the majority. We could have a 5 party system, and still be split 50/50 on socializing our nation, each side wanting a very different future for the country.

        With social reform comes other aspects of the European paradigm- gun control, a strong central focus of government power, higher taxes. This all runs counter to the country's founding principles- a general distrust of centralized government and a desire for a free and independent society. I don't think it's fair to package social reform with gun control and central planning, but essentially the liberal agenda in the US does. Even in a direct democracy or more diverse party system, you would have the nation split on the issue of the proper role of government, and whether we should conform to European concepts of government or stay true to traditional American principles. While countries around the world are dealing with the effects of globalization, so is the US.

        Sure, there are freedoms European countries enjoy that Americans currently don't, strong data-protection laws for instance. Though there are still freedoms the US has won that many European countries haven't, consider the recent Leveson regulation on the press in the UK. I would also consider France's "hate speech" laws to be an attack on freedom of speech if they were implemented in the US, despite the incentive. You may certainly disagree with me that the right to own weapons is essential to liberty, most Europeans do. I have a German friend who chose to raise her daughter in the US, so she could have the freedom to homeschool. While freedoms in the US are waning and a global hegemony is rising, the dilemma here isn't lack of rights, but the fact that our rights are being systematically disregarded.
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          Nov 6 2013: What other rule than majority makes sense for a group of people larger than three?

          Minority? I don't think so, if its about finding ways to live together in the most peaceful way possible. Libertarian? Than you don't need any group at all, on the contrary, because any sort of grouping endangers personal freedom, because compromises are no option but tyranny.

          So what better alternative do you have than democracy for a nation who counts more than three individuals?

          I can understand your German friend that he choose to leave Germany for his reason, yet although he left one circle of compromises he entered a new one, which allowed for one degree of freedom important to him, yet cut on other degrees of freedom which may be more important to others.

          An interesting idea in psychology is, that uncontrolled phobia can actually become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and taking a close look on your nation within recent years, this syndrome seems to have finally unfold itself.

          Fleeing from suppressive regimes and monarchies mainly from Europe and in hope for a better future, 'you' now not only dominate your own people, but pretty much the whole planet which does not have a nuclear allowance for disagreement. Indeed an interesting change in tides, especially, as 'bringing democracy' is the bumper sticker on all of your military vehicles.

          So do you really believe that democracy is just another name for tyranny, or are you actually interested to put it in into practice in your country first, before you ship buggy versions of it abroad, asked or unasked?

          So far I have not stumbled across any better solution to keep people from happily kill one another by the rule of the bigger gun. Any better alternatives but vague ideologies of any sort?

          The freedom of speech within media as well as in private is tricky, not logically, but practically, as it can and is misused to gain a certain effect and to me it makes no difference if a state or a private company is misusing this power.
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        Nov 6 2013: I am a little older than you though younger than he. At two different major universities in the US in the 70s, I took courses in which Marxism was addressed. In graduate school we read articles about comparative systems (including socialism). So I know him to be mistaken about elite universities in general, though he may be correct for whichever school he attended.

        The issue of the tapping of the phone is covered in the United States, including the German government's interest in talking with Snowden. Phone tapping in England got a lot of coverage as well.
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          Nov 6 2013: And what is the conclusion of that 'phone tapping' event in your media? Is Germany a potential threat to US national security to justify those disconcerting measures? Signs of friendship and mutual trust looks different to me or is it also just as Fred mentioned below, that 'That is the rhetoric, but it's just for the sake of public relations'?

          I don't hope so, because if thats all it is, it is not only wasting each others times, but also affront each others intellect.

          Richard Wolf was borne in 1942 and according to his curriculum vitae, he studied at Harvard, Stanford and Yale in the 60s, which are considered the top cadre training units in your country:

          Education: B.A. magna cum laude Harvard 1963
          M.A. Economics Stanford 1964
          M.A. Economics Yale 1966
          M.A. History Yale 1967
          Ph.D. Economics Yale 1969

          http://www.umass.edu/resnick-wolff/Wolff_curriculum_vitae.pdf

          Considering that many influential leaders got forged during that period, they did their part of 'engraving' even deeper of what they learned, or, in that case, didn't. At least officially.

          Anyway, from a foreign perspective the usual US optimism in its own economic model seems to have been damaged by the last crisis more seriously than ever before. Not amongst leading circles, of course, yet amongst the 'usual people' and the occupy movement was the first sign of general criticism which I have never experienced of this magnitude ever before whenever I took a look over the ocean. I may be mistaken, yet something at least appears to have changed since and somehow something also appears to simmer beneath a very thin skin. Time may show what is going to happen if anything is about to happen at all.
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        Nov 6 2013: There's a quote on the internet often falsely attributed to Ben Franklin: "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch."

        Technically the US is a constitutional republic. Perhaps a democracy by popular usage of the term. I'm fine with the current system in general, with Congress and the Executive branch. I think an advantage of electing representatives is that it adds a layer of accountability, though I admit our current state of affairs doesn't offer the best show of that. Any system could work or fall apart, thus the point of the constitution. The ancient Greeks had a word for democracy gone bad, ochlocracy.

        I don't think the people responsible for the direction of US foreign policy have ever believed their goal was to spread democracy. That is the rhetoric, but it's just for the sake of public relations. The US's first real position of power in the Middle East was secured after the overthrow of democracy in Iran in 1953. The Iranian parliament voted unanimously to nationalize their oil fields, which didn't fair well for British Petroleum, known as the Anglo Iranian oil company at the time. That set the stage for the 20th century, with a US-instated Iranian shah securing US interests until 1979 and a standoff with his predecessors since then.

        Even today, the US government's best friend in the Middle East is Saudi Arabia.

        Afghanistan and Iraq were never about democracy. Afghanistan offers a strategic advantage as a base for US operations in the Middle East, and the fall of the Najibullah regime in 1992 left a power vacuum that Cheney, Bush and Rumsfeld weren't going to pass up.

        Yes, the US has become the kind of state it once fought to free itself of. To the detriment of it's citizens, though it's pretty apparant now that it's not just our problem anymore. I spend a lot of time thinking about what that'll look like a century from now. All the more reason to oppose Statism and national registries.
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          Nov 6 2013: Your quote is the reason, why powerful people never really liked the idea of democracy, probably because no one likes to be todays special on the menu.

          Besides the fact that I do not separate between statism and corporate crime, because one is perpetuating the other, I agree with what you are saying and my only hope for things to turn better globally and for your nation are you, the people of your country to decide whats next for lunch. Not much hope though, yet pretty resilient what is.
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        Nov 6 2013: My experience slightly later is with some of the same, and the same type of schools. Possibly a few years made a big difference, as I was educated in the seventies.

        Here is an example from Harvard's course catalogue: https://coursecatalog.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=CourseCatalog&panel=icb.pagecontent695860%3Arsearch%3Ffq_dept_area_category%3Ddept_area_category%253A%2522Economics%2522%26q%3Dsocialism%26rows%3D25%26sort%3Dcourse_title%2Basc%26start%3D0&pageid=icb.page335057&pageContentId=icb.pagecontent695860&view=detail&viewParam_q=id:d_colgsas_2013_2_9529_&viewParam_returnUrl=search%3Ffq_dept_area_category%3Ddept_area_category%253A%2522Economics%2522%26q%3Dsocialism%26sort%3Dcourse_title%2520asc%26start%3D0%26rows%3D25#a_icb_pagecontent695860

        And here is a description of an intellectual history course at Stanford: "Ever since the Napoleonic Wars, European culture, society and politics have experienced a series of dramatic transformations, changes that unleashed a myriad of intellectual theories and debates. Focuses on the nineteenth century, the age of grand theories such as Liberalism, Positivism, Nationalism, Socialism, and Marxism and examines them historically. Readings include French Utopian Socialists and members of the Russian intelligentsia, J.S. Mill, Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Freud, and others."

        In terms of phone tapping, people in the United States are, I think, mostly extremely disenchanted with elected leaders. I would guess a large number of people- maybe even most people- assume the government snoops on everyone, regardless of who they are or how threatening they are.

        "Approval ratings" of leaders in both major parties may be at an all time low, but the suspicion of elected officials has run very deep and been pervasive for decades.
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          Nov 6 2013: 'Suspicion of elected officials has run very deep and been pervasive for decades'

          This seems to be a worldwide trend and it is the same here. What surprises me is the given mixture of increasing pain threshold and resignation among the people, who seem to have gotten into an more uninvolved observer position, rather than to push and demand in their behalf and interest.

          This is what made occupy so promising to me or any general strike in Greece, France, Italy or Spain against their artificial austerity programs.

          I was holding my breath at the time when the US cut back on the personal freedom of your people for the sake of the war on terrorism, and I am still surprised, that no loud and clear outcry ever made it here. I don't exactly know what I expected, yet as for the 'land of the free', probably something louder.

          And the same here. Last year the EU officially entered post democratic times by installing the 'European Stabilization Mechanism' yet no one cried out loud but the usual suspects, such as some left intellectuals, some view law professors and some alternatives. Besides that one could hear a pin dropping into the hey stack.

          Are we all on an collective and conspirative LSD trip already or how do we explain this our paralysis to our younger generations? I have absolutely no idea!

          Yes, a few years can make a a big difference about what is 'en vouge' in education, nevertheless, the given time delay in its transfer as well as the domination of longer established 'world-views' eats up longer time frames for the original change to slowly sink in, yet this not necessarily always, especially if it its 'for' an existing system.

          On this Maggie Thatcher was an increasable effective spin-doctor within Europe by which the term 'Nanny state' became my first hearing at that time and its consequent deconstruction part of my professional life some decades later and its results plain typical.

          Well, we'll just wait and see where all of this is heading.
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        Nov 6 2013: I think that when it comes to personal freedoms, there was an initial very negative reaction to security at airports, but those who frequent airports got used to it. Those who are seldom at airports simply do not see a big impact in their lives, I suspect.

        The last time I was subject to any sort of security procedure was in 2012 when everyone was subject, in principal, to a bag check at a graduation. I think one goes through a metal detector in a court building, but not, for example, to enter a city hall or other public building..

        In the years since 9/11/01- so in the last twelve years, I, and I think the vast majority of people, have not needed to walk through a detector of any kind except at an airport. Drivers licenses are checked only if you are buying alcohol or something.

        A large mall or big office building or hospital probably has a security guard or two. A synagogue or mosque would, but I doubt churches do. A university would have security, but schools would only occasionally have a police officer stop in. They stand around in case they are needed, which is almost never. A museum guard will walk up to you if you start to touch a painting on its walls.

        So if you imagine a situation that feels like one is being checked and hindered all the time as one goes about ones business, that is not what it feels like at all here.

        This, I suspect, is the experience of most people. I think people are more upset about things like believing someone may be doing some sort of electronic surveillance of the NSA type or commercial sorts of intrusions via internet services.
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        Nov 7 2013: "my only hope for things to turn better globally and for your nation are you, the people of your country to decide whats next for lunch."

        Not going to happen. But I'll tell you what's on my plate. The war criminals that have been running our country into fascism. Unfortunately my views are the incredible minority.

        I'll touch on a few of them, because I never hear them voiced anywhere else.

        1. The War on Terror isn't just a failure but a fraud. While terrorism may be a legitimate threat, there's been no greater terrorism than the drone program and the Iraq War. I was angry after 9-11, but no where near as angry as I am with people like Dick Cheney, John Brennan and our friends at the CIA. I don't believe it's enough to simply end the war. We need a witch hunt when it's over.

        2. The widespread disregard in this country for the well being of foreigners goes hand in hand with our nation's downfall, and the systematic dismantling of our rights. Whatever debate there is on the surveillance state, none of it has to do with the sovereign rights of non-Americans. If we really believed in our constitutional rights, then we would recognize them as human rights, not citizen rights. Whatever spy infrastructure we build for the world, we build for ourselves.

        3. And to tie this back into the topic, I think social programs have no place at the Federal level. Our government is doomed to perpetual corruption. I'm not a staunch defender of the private sector, but a private company would never spend $200 million on a website. Company spending is carefully planned. Government spending is a gravy train.

        I could go on. I would've told you years ago that they were spying on the Chancellor. That's not on Americans' plates, nor is their own rights. They're still eating the narrative that there's some sort of legitimacy to the Patriot Act and secret prisons, and airstrikes carried out by intelligence agencies. The rest of the world eats it too. Or at least they have no choice.
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          Nov 8 2013: 'but a private company would never spend $200 million on a website'

          Absolutely, yet not because of better knowledge but because those $200 million have already been invested in other bubbles they don't understand.

          On the rest we are in resonance.
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      Nov 5 2013: It would seen politically unintelligent to give benefits that are more than the minimum wage, but politics is not known for its intelligent solutions. Do you think it would help to at least place an obligation of community service on the benefits?
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        Nov 5 2013: Mandatory community service on benefits like unemployment and food stamps would deter a lot of fraud, and with strict stipulations I would be more accepting of the thought. But also, and this is just from the perspective of living in the US, I would be more open to social programs if they were left to the states, and not managed at the Federal level. Some states are incredibly liberal, like Colorado, and if they want to develop social programs, citizens that don't want that can move to more conservative states like Texas. If it were this way, states would be free to experiment with these programs and learn from each others' mistakes.

        All in all, I'm against Federal level social-safety net programs.
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          Nov 5 2013: Not the easiest of nuts to crack.

          I would agree that, unfortunately, you can't rely on everyone to just take what they need and contribute what they can.....That would make th whole thing a lot less complicated ;-)
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          Nov 5 2013: Well, the problem would be, that people on food-stamps would not have the financial 'flexibility' anymore to 'just' move to another state where they could get them.

          If you don't have much, moving is no option to you, because it takes a minimum of financial means to do it. And by this only the 'tax-evasion' people move and the outcome of the 'experiment' could be disastrous for the poor.