The Carbon Flame War
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Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The welfare flame war. on 09/30/2010 01:11:51 MDT Print View

@ Craig,

"This world is not a level playing field. I'm not saying it ever can be, but I believe we need to acknowledge the fact that just because one person succeeds- despite their circumstances- does not mean everyone will."
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Correct, everyone will not.

Too many people cannot even visualize success in their mind's eye.

They give up before they try. They give up too easily, because there is a safety net to catch them. They let external influences convince them that little is possible. They believe that the minimum is acceptable, else it would not be the minimum. They think a grade of "C" is acceptable, because "C" is average. "D's" are okay, because it is passing. I say shoot for straight "A's." If you fall a little short, that is okay if you know you gave it your best. It is about being the best you can be, in everything you do.

I am not trying to convert anyone to my way of thinking. Every person needs to come to their own conclusions, by using their own mind.

What I can tell you, is that my company often gives me the seemingly impossible tasks. Maybe it is because I am too stupid to see it cannot be done, or I am extremely optimistic in what can be done. In the end, the task is usually is completed successfully. And it is not me getting the task done alone. It is about motivating other people to believe they are better than they think. It is about living with passion and enthusiasm. It is about loving your life, and trying to live it to the fullest everyday.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Locale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
Re: The Carbon Flame War on 09/30/2010 01:58:43 MDT Print View

I think the recent direction of this thread is (quite rightly) a clear demonstration of how far down the priority list "Man Made Global Warming" is for the majority of contributors here. In a recent poll it came bottom out of a list of 20 issues facing U.S. citizens.

The UK has all the same debates surrounding the welfare state and the 'free market' (which is fixed). The simple and obvious fact is that both the US and UK are becoming less wealthy in comparison to the rising economic powers of China, India and Brazil to name a few. This means there will be less pie to share out, no matter how politically advanced, marketarily 'free', socially responsible or morally upright our societies are.

To a generation brought up in a world of endless economic expansion, the thought of contraction, downsizing, belt tightening and general relative hardship is alien and 'unreasonable'. The truth is that a society that divides the producers against the scroungers, the fortunate against the disadvantaged, will founder on the rocks of greed, crime and internal strife.

In the UK, the hard times during the dark days of WWII saw a 'pulling together' of all sections of society. Since the collapse of the USSR, The powers that be have tried to set up "Imminent! Global! Warming! Catastrophe!" as the common 'enemy' which can unite people of all walks of life while providing a rationale for moving to a less consumptive lifestyle. It has failed because it doesn't stand on solid scientific ground. People are not stupid, and they know a dud theory when they see it.

Our spurious leaders don't want to admit that the real reason we are going to have less energy and economic growth in the future is because the Yen is going to eclipse the Dollar and Pound. We'd better get used to the idea, and plan accordingly, because as George pointed out a few pages ago, we had a good run for a couple of hundred years, but it's going to come to an end.

The stark option is, we pull together and quit fighting over the scraps, or descend into a dog eat dog melee no-one will like anyway, no matter how well they might think they can insulate themselves from the madness beyond their gates.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: The Carbon Flame War on 09/30/2010 06:03:39 MDT Print View

Rog,

Excellent observation. I believe you summed up well the real issue facing US/UK.

The solution is as well put by you: 'pulling together' of all sections of society.

Funny how long it takes humans to figure some things out. While driving home yesterday, I heard a history report about slavery and that it provided an 8% return on investment. In the northern South and all urban areas, slave owners contracted out their slaves. Initially the plantation owners argued that they needed slaves for their farming to survive. The outsourcing shows the situation's unraveling. Believe it or not, there is still farming in the South without slavery.

Here in the US, education is getting much attention over the last few weeks. Probably due to the documentary, 'Waiting for Superman', that was released.
Education could provide a good return on investment. Look at China, India, Brazil, Chile, Indonesia, on and on.

My guess is that it will take a significant event to push things to the point of no return. Returning back to something during a previous time in history won't work. It never has. Dumbed down masses will become enlightened either sooner or later, but it will happen. It always has.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: "The Carbon Flame War" on 09/30/2010 08:54:20 MDT Print View

"Wouldn't it be a reasonable opinion to support our current Social Security programs for seniors, the disabled and the poor and oppose an expansion of those programs to everyone?"

David -- Yes, that would be reasonable, but the TPers are crying out for the opposite!! The overwhelming majority of TPers are middle class whites crying out for smaller government and more self reliance -- except what they mean is cutting out programs for the disabled and poor -- while leaving the programs that benefit the middle class untouched.

Do I sound insulting? Then it's because I find this spoiled bunch insufferable and idiotic!!

The day they care enough about our government's deficit to insist on both better governance and cuts all around -- then they will begin to gain my respect. But I am not holding my breath for this selfish, spoiled and self righteous bunch.

Edited by ben2world on 09/30/2010 09:06:35 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: The Carbon Flame War on 09/30/2010 09:06:17 MDT Print View

Rog,

Excellent commentary. One thing I would like to point out is that the pie does not necessarily have to be fixed. One thing that American Capitalism proved is that wealth can be created, it is not a fixed commodity.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: The Carbon Flame War on 09/30/2010 09:20:52 MDT Print View

Nick beat me to it. Yes, we need to first get the economic pie growing again. It's always easier to divide up a growing pie than fight over a shrinking one! This is the economic system I'd like to see:

1. Grow the economic pie first:

o free companies from paying health benefits, pensions, etc. -- free them of these social encumbrances so they can really compete in the world market. Free companies from paying taxes as well

o thoroughly reform our public school system

o revitalize our public infrastructure


2. Dividing up the pie:

o simplify personal income tax by introducing just two flat rates -- one for the wealthiest 2% and one for everybody else over the poverty line. No deductions, no tax shelters, no complications.

o introduce a nation-wide sales tax. Great way to curb our over-consumption while beefing up government finances.

o keep social programs for the truly needy -- namely those too disabled to work. I imagine that shouldn't be more than 2-3% of our population? Those who can work can access temporary assistance to tie them over -- but beyond a certain duration or frequency of use -- they must enroll in workfare.

o introduce a competitive health care system for all. The burden of financing will be on everyone -- not on government or corporations. We need to decide what's covered and what's not. Expectations cannot be limitless.

So, a mix of capitalism and socialism. More capitalism on the wealth-generating side. More socialism on the spending side: self-sustained funding for universal basic health care and government assistance for those truly in need.

Notice the absence of old age pension program. This one, I would want every working person to save up on his or her own. Nothing kills the will to save like social security programs. Maybe we will have publically-funded homes for the truly indigent seniors -- but we'll keep those pretty basic to encourage individual saving.

Edited by ben2world on 09/30/2010 09:33:38 MDT.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: The Carbon Flame War on 09/30/2010 09:28:14 MDT Print View

Ben has my vote!

Those steps would surely reset the system. We need bold steps like those to grow the pie for all.

When are you running and for what office? : )

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: The Carbon Flame War on 09/30/2010 09:59:14 MDT Print View

Here in the US, education is getting much attention over the last few weeks. Probably due to the documentary, 'Waiting for Superman', that was released.
Education could provide a good return on investment. Look at China, India, Brazil, Chile, Indonesia, on and on.
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We have not received a good return on investment over the past few decades in the US. Students, parents, and the government demand that the population be "educated" but the student has to want to be educated and work at it. Education is not a give me proposition, it is a participatory endeavor.

I have a good friend who immigrated to the US about 20 years ago. He came from one of those growing 3rd world countries, and was very poor. Today he is successful and financially secure. He earned several degrees, and in business he works hard... not long hours, but is effective in what he does. He is not afraid of our current economic crisis, because he knows it is easy for him to get a job, because he is extremely good at what he does, he is in high demand, and is well compensated. He does not have to look for a job, companies seek him out. And he is not in some smoke and mirrors service business, he is in manufacturing.

Some of his observations include the fact that too many Americans are lazy. He saw this in college. The students were lazy. He got top grades, and more importantly he LEARNED, while most students were just trying to maintain a GPA or assemble the correct combination of classes to graduate. He sees the same attitude among too many workers.

He lives in a city that boasts one of the highest per capita incomes in the US. His neighbors are billionaires, and he is not heavily in debt. While he is middle aged, he could continue to live comfortably for several years without working. So, here is a guy who speaks with an accent, who 20 years ago lived in a barefooted 3rd world country and had nothing. He came to America because it was the land of opportunity, and he was willing to work.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Re: Re: Re: The Carbon Flame War on 09/30/2010 10:07:34 MDT Print View

And you know what, moving from that 3rd world country to successful American dream doesn't even have to be done in 1 generation. I know Nick's friend did, but many cases people don't.

I know several families that work long hours so their kids can have the opportunity for college. Too often these days, I think we ignore the ability of people to build for the future. It is rare for a very poor to go to very rich, but you can improve your kids lot and their kids.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Make the pie higher on 09/30/2010 11:08:35 MDT Print View

"

Excellent commentary. One thing I would like to point out is that the pie does not necessarily have to be fixed. One thing that American Capitalism proved is that wealth can be created, it is not a fixed commodity."

"Make the pie higher" GWB

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: The welfare flame war. on 09/30/2010 11:19:21 MDT Print View

"I believe that in the U.S. poor people are poor by choice."

Jeez. Speechless.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Make the pie higher on 09/30/2010 11:23:36 MDT Print View

"One thing that American Capitalism proved is that wealth can be created, it is not a fixed commodity."

Not to be overly nitpicking, but capitalism didn't originate here in America. Indeed, Adam Smith, the reputed father of modern economics, was himself Scottish.

As for expanding the economic pie -- let's not forget the British. I remember reading that in early 1800 -- China was the biggest manufacturer bar none. Toward the end of 1800 -- China's share of world production dropped to the single digit!! No, China didn't produce any less -- but Europe and later America produced a lot more -- and expanded the economic pie significantly.

Now that China and India are back on track -- we can expect the pie to expand yet again. We just need to stay competitive to enjoy it.

Edited by ben2world on 09/30/2010 11:28:09 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: The welfare flame war. on 09/30/2010 11:32:17 MDT Print View

I am curious though... do you abhor government programs because you fear they foster dependence? Or do you simply believe that everyone should fend for himself or herself? Do you give regularly to charity, for example? Again, just curious, and absolutely no need to answer if you don't want to.
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Ben,

Government programs... Both. Deep down, I do not think it is the function of government. Government programs foster a sense of entitlement, and they always get bigger and bigger. Years ago I gave one of my brothers a job. My mother was upset that I was only paying him minimum wage, but he had no valuable skill to contribute to the business. I had hoped he would grow and become valuable to the business. That did not happen. Eventually I fired him, because he was a poor employee. That sounds harsh, but he learned from the experience and became a self-sufficient individual in later years. To be honest, giving him a job was really charity. And that job could have gone to someone who just needed an opportunity. Eventually the job went to someone, who now owns his own business.

Do I give regularly to charity? No. Do I help others, yes. But I like to choose who I want to assist, and whether or not the recipient is worthy of the assistance. Kartrina is an example. I had no problem helping out. Do I want to help a person who cannot keep a job due to poor performance? No. Do I want to help a person who cannot find a job, but is a good worker and will respond to an opportunity? Yes. Do I want to help an orphan who has no family? Yes. Do I want to help someone do an epic thru-hike who has no money or no job? No. Do I want to give gear and money to a Boy Scout whose parents cannot afford it? Sure. I have done that here on BPL, but no one but the recipients and requesters know that, and I am hesitant to even mention it. We do help some MS organizations, again I am not really comfortable mentioning that. Do I help relatives? Yes, but there is an expectation that the money will be repaid. Do I help family that cannot possibly repay because they are not willing to work hard to repay... usually no. But I have done this for reasons of my own.

I think that many wealthy people feel guilty that they are successful, and for that reason they give money away. That is sad. They should be proud of what they do, if their wealth was obtained through moral and ethical methods. Many wealthy people create jobs and provide opportunity for those who want to work. What greater gift could one give than creating an opportunity for others? And I abhor the idea that it is the duty of the wealthy to help the less fortunate, and that government will take their money by force.

We have a friend who has been handicapped since birth. The disease had gotten progressively worse over the years, and now that person is wheel chair bound. Just getting around is difficult. Finding a job was even harder. Earning enough money to be self-sufficient was difficult for many years. Saving enough money to go to college and get a degree seemed even more unlikely. But that person did all of it without much help. Today this friend has a well paying job, and lives without assistance from anyone.

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Personality type on 09/30/2010 11:35:13 MDT Print View

Some folk can empathise with those less fortunate, other folk can't/won't. Simple as that.
As warfare can be seen as 'anti-social', it also accelerates techological advancement as a by-product. Similarly, the most selfish folk in society can generate the most wealth, and it also trickles down to help those less 'driven'.
You need the clouds to get the silver lining.
Until life kicks you in the b*lls, everything can seem sweet.

Rog is totally correct about global warming btw. :)

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Make the pie higher on 09/30/2010 11:55:00 MDT Print View

Not to be overly nitpicking, but capitalism didn't originate here in America. Indeed, Adam Smith, the reputed father of modern economics, was himself Scottish.
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Yes. I said American Capitalism. To steal an idea from someone else, Americans came up with the phrase to "make money." Not meaning to print it, but to be able to create wealth. Wealth is not static.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Tea Party vs Libertarian vs Democrat vs Republican vs .... on 09/30/2010 12:09:27 MDT Print View

Unfortunately we apply labels to people base on their beliefs, and other folks always vote and think the party dogma.

I am not a Tea Party advocate. Probably closest to a Libertarian, but not in total agreement. I vote according to my values, and sometimes I have to vote for the lesser of evils.

One thing I will say about the Tea Party, is that it has opened up a lot of conversation and debate about government. That in itself is a good thing.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: The welfare flame war. on 09/30/2010 12:13:07 MDT Print View

Nick:

I like that. It is a very good thing to set high expectations for ourselves and then meeting those expectations. It is also a very good thing to lend a helping hand to those who can benefit by our help.

Our backgrounds are almost completely different. I've always viewed myself as "lucky" -- papa generously and cheerfully paid for my education (and everything else) until I finished grad school at age 25. Then I was on my own.

Things just have a way of working out for me. I got promotions regularly, earning a salary in the lower six figures, and then retired in 2003 when I was 42. I worked hard, but not grueling. I also saved hard -- putting away 30% of my take-home pay initially -- and increasing that steadily to 60% as I got pay increases -- year after year. I also stayed blissfully single. :)

But I have no illusions that many "out there" have it a lot harder than I -- for all different reasons. Like many, I give regularly to charities. I feel strongly that I should give simply because I have received so much. Whether or not the ultimate recipients are "deserving" is actually of very little concern to me. I just need to give something back -- and in my case, I give regularly to the same 3 reputable charities year in and year out.

Being single, I have no children of my own. But the one thing that has made me very happy: I met a very bright high school student in Uzbekistan when I traveled there in 2000. We kept in contact and when I found out that all he was doing after graduating from high school was sleeping in till noon and hanging out in the internet cafes -- I wrote him a long email and offered to pay for his college if he could get in the top 3 universities in his country. He roused himself to apply and got in. I paid for all four years -- and then the smart kid supported himself through his Masters program. Now, he is getting his PhD in Cambridge -- with full scholarship!! Yeah, I am awfully proud of him!!

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Nice, Ben on 09/30/2010 12:28:02 MDT Print View

Wow! That's fantastic Ben.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: on 09/30/2010 13:03:06 MDT Print View

Thanks, Mike! Unlike with you real parents... this is as close as I'll ever get to boasting about my 'son'. :)

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: The welfare flame war. on 09/30/2010 14:19:41 MDT Print View

Ben,

Many years ago I saw a billboard that has remained embedded in my brain ever since.

"There is no heavier burden than a great opportunity."

The key is to see the opportunity. Sounds like you have had many opportunities in your life, and you did well with them. Through all of these threads, I just really have one theme. In the U.S. we all have opportunities. We just need to see them as such. The fact that we have free education through high school is huge. Too bad that so many kids blow this opportunity... for whatever reason. I am not a social scientist.

All my life I have looked to people to provide inspiration of what can be done, not what cannot be done. At an early age I was inspired by a children's book that was a biography of Abraham Lincoln. I thought that my life was much easier than his, and if he could become successful, then so could I.


And congratulations to your "son."