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BS: Why do we need poverty?

hesperis 21 Feb 05 - 11:54 PM
number 6 22 Feb 05 - 12:08 AM
Little Hawk 22 Feb 05 - 12:32 AM
Bert 22 Feb 05 - 01:48 AM
alanabit 22 Feb 05 - 03:44 AM
mooman 22 Feb 05 - 03:44 AM
Piers 22 Feb 05 - 04:57 AM
Jeanie 22 Feb 05 - 05:49 AM
Jeanie 22 Feb 05 - 05:50 AM
wysiwyg 22 Feb 05 - 10:38 AM
Bill D 22 Feb 05 - 11:12 AM
GUEST,Joe_F 22 Feb 05 - 11:17 AM
Piers 22 Feb 05 - 12:19 PM
mg 22 Feb 05 - 12:43 PM
Little Hawk 22 Feb 05 - 12:52 PM
hesperis 22 Feb 05 - 01:28 PM
Richard Bridge 22 Feb 05 - 02:35 PM
Piers 22 Feb 05 - 02:40 PM
hesperis 22 Feb 05 - 04:05 PM
Georgiansilver 22 Feb 05 - 04:42 PM
Little Hawk 22 Feb 05 - 05:00 PM
hesperis 22 Feb 05 - 05:32 PM
Bobert 22 Feb 05 - 06:05 PM
Little Hawk 22 Feb 05 - 07:46 PM
mg 22 Feb 05 - 09:34 PM
hesperis 22 Feb 05 - 10:28 PM
Little Hawk 22 Feb 05 - 11:09 PM
Malcolm Douglas 22 Feb 05 - 11:50 PM
Kaleea 22 Feb 05 - 11:56 PM
Amos 23 Feb 05 - 12:13 AM
Piers 23 Feb 05 - 04:15 AM
Bobert 23 Feb 05 - 07:57 AM
hesperis 23 Feb 05 - 11:22 PM
mg 23 Feb 05 - 11:44 PM
Little Hawk 24 Feb 05 - 12:25 PM
Don Firth 24 Feb 05 - 05:12 PM
Bobert 24 Feb 05 - 05:29 PM
hesperis 24 Feb 05 - 05:30 PM
Piers 25 Feb 05 - 03:31 AM
hesperis 25 Feb 05 - 03:44 PM
Little Hawk 25 Feb 05 - 05:58 PM
number 6 26 Feb 05 - 11:23 AM
Amos 26 Feb 05 - 11:27 AM
Little Hawk 26 Feb 05 - 11:36 AM
Amos 26 Feb 05 - 01:02 PM
Jim Tailor 26 Feb 05 - 01:27 PM
Little Hawk 26 Feb 05 - 01:37 PM
Jim Tailor 26 Feb 05 - 01:56 PM
dianavan 26 Feb 05 - 01:57 PM
Little Hawk 26 Feb 05 - 02:04 PM
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Subject: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: hesperis
Date: 21 Feb 05 - 11:54 PM

Why do we need some people to starve? Why do we need some people to become unable to work? Why do we need huge military budgets and small social assistance budgets? Why do we let children grow up malnourished all the way into incapable adults? Why is it necessary that the playing field be so uneven that some never even have the chance to get on that field?

And why, do we let this happen in the richest countries in the world, those with great natural resources and innovations and wealth?

Much more useful a question than "why do we need money" because it is self-evident that we do need something to fulfill the role that money holds so well. But why do we need poverty? There doesn't seem to be any good in it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: number 6
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 12:08 AM

who said we need poverty ??

sIx


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 12:32 AM

Fidel Castro and Che Guevara were asking that very question when they launched a successful revolution in Cuba that threw out the Mafia and a bunch of big American companies that ran everything in Cuba. The CIA eventually killed Che, and they have tried to kill Fidel many times, but not succeeded. Their bosses seem to think we do need poverty...in certain places and for certain people. In Cuba, a rather poor country, all medical care is for free. In the USA, a very rich country, the largest current cause of middle class people being driven into bankruptcy according to a recent article I read, is being utterly unable to pay absolutely necessary medical bills.

Most countries in western Europe provide socialized medical funding to protect their public. Canada does too, but NOT for dental. The USA basically doesn't, period.

Why? Greed on the part of the wealthy at the top of the system. Greed on the part of American voters, who imagine they are getting a "tax break" by privatizing everything. Greed on the part of politicians who make misleading propaganda about tax breaks to get themselves elected, and who suck up to big drug companies and medical associations and military contractors. Add to that sheer ignorance on the part of an American voting public that is told from cradle to grave that they live in "the greatest society on Earth". Ha. What a sad, sad joke it is.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Bert
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 01:48 AM

wE NEED POVERTY TO KEEP THE bUSH FAMILY IN RICHES


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: alanabit
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 03:44 AM

In the Thatcher scheme of things - economic liberalism as it was so charmingly called, there had to be a punishment for "failure". This was made clear in the speeches of Sir Keith Joseph and other acolytes years before she took power. The idea caught on, didn't it?


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: mooman
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 03:44 AM

Agree with Little Hawk for the most part, except the problem isn't exclusively American. It's due to greed in general by those who already have the most and the underlying political system that supports them.

Peace

moo

(Good on Hesperis for starting an important "BS" thread (and best regards to her too))


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Piers
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 04:57 AM

[i]'Much more useful a question than "why do we need money" because it is self-evident that we do need something to fulfill the role that money holds so well.'[/i]

Is it self-evident that we need money [to trade goods and services]? It is certainly evident that as long as the capitalist/market/money system has existed there has been poverty. People have been trying for hundreds of years to eradicate poverty within the capitalist system, it doesn't work. Unfashionable as it is to say so the world is still divided into those who own the means of producing things and those that don't. Those that don't possess the means of living are forced to sell their labour to those that do. This is the basis of poverty. Labour is a commodity, if there is no buyer it goes unsold with disasterous consequences for the seller, or if - because the basis of labour consumption in capitalism is the ability to return a profit - the value of that labour doesn't buy a decent standard of living.

No matter how much fair pay, fairtrade, welfare state and charity we get we are only treating the symptoms of the disease. The cure is for the means of living to be in the possession of all and used in the interests of all through democratic control. Production for use, not production for profit.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Jeanie
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 05:49 AM

Take a look at this website:Make Poverty Hisotry

- jeanie


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Jeanie
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 05:50 AM

Sorry - it should be "Make Poverty History" - but the link above works, nevertheless !

- jeanie


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 10:38 AM

A capitalist society needs poverty (and a class of poverts) to threaten the working folks-- in at least two forms which are usually alternated as needed:

1. "Comply with [insert latest ripoff or wrongness] or you'll wind up like THEM."

2. "We can always replace you with one of THEM-- they would love to have your job."

~S~


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Bill D
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 11:12 AM

poverty is mostly relative. There are 'poor' in this country who would be considered quite comfortable in 3rd world countries. The only way to avoid poverty is to have WAY more resources and land and food and water than the population needs. (some island paradises used to have something like this, before they were shown TV and motorboats and other manufactured goods.)

Reduce the population enough so that there is not struggle for basics and there are jobs for everyone and we can come close to eliminating realpoverty...but relative poverty will always be here as long as some people are too dumb, unlucky, unhealthy, unmotivated to cope with getting their share, while others are smarter, luckier, greedier and motivated to get more than their share...even in the midst of plenty.

You will NOT solve the problem with any known political system, as the only solutions are unthinkable to the short-term mindsets of the politicians.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: GUEST,Joe_F
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 11:17 AM

Greed is neither a sufficient nor a necessary explanation. One thing greedy people do is go into business; and poor people make poor customers. Another thing they do is become robbers; but successful robbers rob where the money is.

The poor as a reservoir of cheap labor were probably important in the early stages of industrialization. But the tendency of capitalism, thru investment in capital, is to lessen the relative importance of labor as a factor in production. Sure, if the Chinese & the Brazilians had the same standard of living as the U.S., clothes & coffee would be somewhat more expensive here, but not overwhelmingly so. Peasants & sweatshop workers are not the foundation on which the economy rests, however that may have been 150 years ago.

For prosperous people, greedy or otherwise, the poor are mainly an expensive nuisance. We haven't gotten rid of them, IMO, because nobody knows how to organize it. Wealth & poverty are a sort of condensation phenomenon, like the segregation of water molecules into liquid & vapor in some ranges of temperature & pressure. Whether that is a disequilibrium that will disappear with the further accumulation of capital, or is an equilibrium that with require a fundamental, noneconomic restructuring of society to sort out, probably depends on details that are hard to sort out. I am suspicious of people who say they know.

--- Joe Fineman    joe_f@verizon.net

||: There's no foolishness like old foolishness. :||


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Piers
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 12:19 PM

I think you are right about greed Joe F. But inequality in the 'developed' world is increasing, in income as well as wealth possesion so I don't see how you can suggest that the 'disequilibrium' might disappear. Surely as long as the social relations of capital and labour exist, there is poverty of control over the means of production which results in poverty of income because holders of capital can command assets that yield profit whereas the majority have only their labour to sell.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: mg
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 12:43 PM

Poverty isn't necessary, although some people will always be unable to support themselves. That is a given. The guy who started the miniloan program calculated how much money it would take through miniloans to eliminate poverty and it really was doable. What we need to do is just assume that x number of people can not take care of themselves, and y number of people could with some education, push here and there, and make-work programs if necessary, in turning helping those who can not help themselves, such as elderly, etc. There are educational funds that for generations have gone either untouched or misused, and I mean vocational education funds. We should never graduate a student without training in some field, ready and wearing to go to work, and of course I mean high school. Junior high students at least should have basic skills in cleaning, entry level cooking etc. Then we need to hit, and hit hard, the social behaviors that lead directly to poverty, not just for those who engage in them, but they bring down others as well. The two main ones are drug use, aprticularly now meth, and too early and/or irresponsible pregnancy. Cut down on those behaviors and watch the poverty rate drop drop drop. And don't bother to tell me poor people must use meth because it alleviates their pain somehow. It doesn't matter; they still don't get to in my book. (And I am all for alleviating real pain through morphine, marijuana or whatever it takes).

Now, people have to take back some of their own means of production. If they have land, they should be growing some permanent crops, like apples, blueberries, etc. Most of them should know how to sew, cook, treat minor illnesses and wounds. Anyone who can should be acquiring renewable energy sources at home..solar lamps, panels, wind chimes, whatever. A good percentage of our high school students who are now some of them learning "to be useless" as a department chair put it, should be learning to build simple concrete block or other type houses.

Yes, we should have universal medical care, public housing where the residents neither destroy the property nor terrorize other tenants, safe and pleasant homes for the mentally ill, elderly etc. We absolutly have to look at the foster care situation. There are so many abuses. Some of the currently unemployed should be house parents in children's houses or little villages.

We need to find ways to distribute perfectly good items that now end up in our landfills. We need to secure our farmland, both from being turned into other uses, and from terrorism. We need to encourage simple lifestyles, good money management etc. A lot can be done right now, right from here. I give it 10 seconds before someone says I am blaming the victim. I am not. I want to house and feed everyone and put them to work if the economy itself can not. Then I wnt to step back and leave them alone to work it out as they please. mg


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 12:52 PM

Something quite notable has happened since the collapse of Communism in Russia...triggered mainly by their inability to afford a high-tech arms race with the USA, and thus their inability to properly modernize their civilian infrastructure...and aggravated by their totalitarian and archaic political system.

What has happened is the opposite of what was predicted in the exulting capitalist press. What was predicted was a "Peace Dividend"! Remember that? Ah, yes, things were supposed to get much better for everyone now that the Cold War was over, because all that money spent on arms would now go to improving societies.

That was the big lie. The Peace Dividend never happened. With the Communist bloc removed from the scene...thus vanishing as an effective political opposition...the capitalist societies began dismantling and downsizing their social services, while continuing massive spending on weapons and preparation for future wars...with whom, was the question? A new enemy must be found in order to justify such spending.

A new enemy had already been nicely incubated by the CIA in its successful attempt to bring down the Soviet Union. That new enemy was the militant Muslim fundamentalists, most notably concentrated in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. They had been handy for attacking Russia. They would now prove handy for provoking further crises, and for taking over or gaining access to parts of the World where there is a hell of a lot of oil...namely, the Middle East and the Caspian region.

The Peace Dividend never happened. We were on a war kick under Reagan, and we have continued on a war kick ever since. The Bush administration has done this more openly than any other, having been given the perfect excuse to by 911. They are building an overseas oil empire under the guise of fighting terrorism. They are committing terrorism on a far larger scale than anyone else is.

Every civilian population in the World has been robbed by this cynical and destructive program of promising one thing and delivering another thing entirely. Eastern Europeans were promised freedom and prosperity. They got some freedom, all right...along with a catastrophic loss of jobs, a sharp rise in poverty, a huge rise in crime, and a huge rise in corruption. There's no going back now...they must struggle through and build a new society for themselves. It won't be easy. They were lied to. So were the rest of us.

Without a viable socialist alternative in the World, the capitalist systems will be happy to privatize everything they possibly can, do away with as many social services as possible, and worsen the gap between rich and poor in most places. The results will not be good, not good at all. It's a recipe for war and revolution in many places. Poverty and excess, side by side, are the hallmark of the ruling system in the World at this time.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: hesperis
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 01:28 PM

There was poverty before the capitalist system... however it was much more localized. If your crops didn't do well, you starved. Money enables an exchange of goods and services at a much higher level of abstraction, and also enables people to become specialized... which raises the quality of life for all those who can afford those specialized services.

And it is money that could help to alleviate true poverty - which I define as the lack of health, basic food, basic housing and basic contribution to society. Money simply allows a greater overall wealth than is possible in a simple barter system. It has the potential to be used in a way to enable more human beings to have the basics. Then once more human beings have the basics, there will be more human beings capable of contributing real value to the local and global society.

Poverty itself may not need to be eradicated, only redefined. What if the poor were those who were well off healthwise but didn't own a means of production? There would still be rich people, there would still be rewards for great achievement in business or life. People would still want to be more than poor. But the poor would not be hopeless of achieving even their basic needs. It is hopelessness that leads to most of the counter-productive behaviours of the poor, although it is still a personal choice and some avoid falling into those behaviours. What if anything less than that was seen as a failure of society, not a failure of the individual? How is a child supposed to grow into a contributing adult when malnourished for decades? How is that a failure of that child?

There are always some people who cannot support themselves... under the current system. If their basic needs were taken care of, what gifts would they be able to offer society in exchange, what talents and usefulnesses would flower under adequate watering? This would make success and wealth on a larger scale than has ever happened in history, more than paying for any programs necessary to put that basic level of support in place.

So why is it not happening already?


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 02:35 PM

WE do not NEED poverty.

The rich (in general) WANT to see poverty, because it makes those anxious to excape it more compliant - production economy or service economy.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Piers
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 02:40 PM

Hesperis,
I don't think anyone who wants a moneyless society wants to replace it with a barter. We are questioning the need for trade at all.

I can't quite see what you are actually suggesting we can do to take care of people's basic needs. However, it is irrelevant because however well meaning one is, the idea that you can get rid of poverty without getting rid of the rich is flawed. The problems of people's basic needs not being met is an inherent part of capitalism. Ownership of the means of production is not some abstract question. We are all dependent on the means of production, they are the means of living - producing and distributing food, health, housing and entertainment. In capitalism, ownership of the means of production is vested in a minority and the basis for production is the ability to yield surplus. If the means of production could be brought under social control, that is democratic operation on the basis of meeting needs, then the fruits of our labour can be distributed according to need. In capitalism goods and services are available, as you suggest, for those who can afford it - that is a can't pay, can't have basis. Socialism would do away with the inequality this creates. Without the fetters of 'no profit, no production' we could have enough basics plus not-so basic goods and services for everyone and there would be no need to ration, i.e. trade. This may sound like a wacky idea, but it is a lot more realistic than ending poverty through free trade, fair trade, the welfare state or charity. The counter-productive behaviours of the rich, the tyranny of the rich over the poor, poverty will be with us as long as they control the means of living.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: hesperis
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 04:05 PM

Ah, I see now what you mean, Piers.

But surely even as there will always be some people who can't take care of themselves, there will always be people who want to have more than other people and have a knack for making that happen. That's not going to go away. Also, people are still going to want some goods that are not local. So trade would also still be necessary.

I do not see anything wrong with wealth in and of itself, particularly for those who are brilliant at meeting the needs of other people without exploitation. What is not necessary is degradation of human beings as only commodities. But as long as the poor do not hold the means of production of the resources they need to live, there will be exploitation of the commodities they represent to some people...

Housing, food, health care, and work in these fields: these are important. So these are the ones that must be owned by those that use them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 04:42 PM

Whosoever controls money/gas/electric/oil....has the power!
Power is all! Every Government knows that to rule you have to keep the people in their place. Poverty is a sure way as the people are largely dependent on the "state" and easily controlled as a consequence..........unless the poor revolt as in the French revolution....but what happens then? A new regime takes over and becomes richer as the poor become poorer....Ah well, that's life eh??? or is it?
Best wishes, Mike.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 05:00 PM

The only chance of real change is for someone to have the power who is actually intelligent enough and unselfish enough to USE that power for the benefit of all. Such things have happened, but only rarely in our history.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: hesperis
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 05:32 PM

Or for someone to raise the poor together to have control over this power.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Bobert
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 06:05 PM

In any country that is going to have grossly rich people yer gonna have to have lots of poor folks to keep them grossly rich.

Actually, as a few folks have allready pointed out, Boss Hog likes to keep lots of poor folks around to keep the middle class at bay. The middle class scares the heck out of Boss Hog 'cause the middle class is a *real* threat to making the grossly rich merely rich. Yeah, if the middle class ever feels a level of sucurity, it *will* stand up to Boss Hog and try to pry away a greater share of the wealth that it and the poor folks create. Should that happen then those living in poverty will get kicked up outtta poverty...

But, if there was a real World Court, the leadership of United States, given the US's wealth, would certainl;y be awaiting trial.

And what make me sick is these crooks and thieves going around saying they are Christain??? My butt!!!! Jesus teaches us that we will be judged on how we treat our poor... Oh yeah, these so called Chrisains never made it into the New Testament, with the exception of "Rule Boy" Paul, the tax collector...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 07:46 PM

The poor have risen on many occasions, but usually found themselves being ruled over by a gang of thugs formed by the leaders from their own ranks, soon enough...since violence begets more violence.

Examples: the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution and the Chinese Revolution.

It's only rarely that people of genuine idealism, coupled with mercy and compassion, lead a revolution. Gandhi was one such, and he led a peaceful revolution which succeeded, but did not succeed perfectly by any means. It fractured between Muslims and Hindus and resulted in violence and partition of India into India and Pakistan.

The common people in the Soviet Union, with Gorbachev's strong encouragement, transformed and finally brought down the old system, but then turned to the demagogue Boris Yeltsin (because he promised them totally unrealistic things), and saw their society lose most of its social services and security and get taken over by crooks and mafia scoundrels. It is now sliding back into being an authoritarian state.

The common people in other places like Czechoslovakia and East Germany managed a peaceful changeover, but for many the economic situation has worsened, while for some it has improved.

The poor people in Cuba benefited greatly from the Revolution, if you look at the lives of the average Cubans before and after. That was one revolution that fairly much lived up to its stated ideals. It had the bad luck to be embargoed and basically besieged by a superpower.

Bobert - I couldn't agree more about the so-called "Christians" out there who support Boss Hog, as you put it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: mg
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 09:34 PM

oh for heavens sake. I'm not going to say that Boss Hog does not exist, and I am not going to tell you the tooth fairy does not either. So may she does exist. Like the Wizard of Oz. More smoke and mirrors than not. And think what this message does to the young people and more easily persuaded of society...and that is the biggest problem, although I can out doom and gloom any 20 of you here..the message that things are hopeless and the rich are out to get the poor. The message we should be giving everyone is to stay off drugs, stay healthy, acquire skills, live simply, grow food, be flexible because things are going to change faster than we can. Poverty cycles can be broken, poverty behaviors that both cause and are caused by poverty in a viscious circle can be changed. Things are not constantly hopeless, or at least we don't know for sure and have to act as though they aren't. Cynics and doom and gloomers are not raising the level of consciousness on this planet, although they do serve their purpose and could be, in fact, are, right about many things. But they seem not to take into account the incredible resiliance and creativity of the human race..do some of you not listen to the songs you sing? mg


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: hesperis
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 10:28 PM

It's interesting... there is no ONE Boss Hog... but reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad I learned that the rich think that the poor will always be poor because they don't have the intelligence to realize that working for an hourly wage isn't going to get you rich... only ownership of property will make you rich, because property makes money (and other people) work for you instead of you working for other people.

It basically justifies an attitude of bigotry towards the poor as being less intelligent than the rich. (Although it does contain useful financial information.) But how many poor people do you know who could even get a mortgage and put the plans laid out so very clearly in Rich Dad, Poor Dad in place? How many creative people actually have their creative property working for them instead of them just creating it?

So the message of the book is that to be rich you must earn money from many people of lower intelligence working to make money for you. If that's not purposeful exploitation then what is? I'm sure that's not the intention of the book but that attitude is definitely in there. Makes you wonder.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 11:09 PM

Rich people have more time and more opportunity to gather information. They are more likely to become academic in nature. They are more likely to travel and to be exposed to different ideas. Thus, although they are not born more intelligent than the poor, they are in a situation which is more likely to develop their knowledge and bring forth their awareness of the opportunities in life.

Example: I was born in a middle class family from upper middle class roots.   In my family books and art and education and culture were very much emphasized. This certainly helped to steer me into book reading, into getting good marks in school, and into expecting to move up in life. When you expect to move up, you are more likely to.

I knew kids in school who were from much more working class families, families in which books were barely even thought of. They were more into physical stuff than I was. They were less into thinking and more into acting. This meant that they were better at sports, better at the rough and tumble of life, but not nearly as good as me at academics or writing or thinking. They were not growing up in a setting that encouraged gathering knowledge or thinking for its own sake, and I was.

And that is the classic divide between working class people and the bosses...or the artists...or the academics and intellectuals.

It starts early in life. If your kid is mainly into watching TV, playing video games, playing sports, socializing, and such...then your kid is being prepared for a working class existence...and will likely end up among the exploited. That has nothing to do with basic intelligence. Intelligence can be stifled or it can be encouraged. A life built on TV watching and playing Nintendo is quite likely to stifle intelligence and independent thought in most people.

"Rich" people are keenly aware that their background has provided them with a wider range of possibilities than most poorer people. If they are inclined to use those possibilities, then they can do a lot with them. Thus, they instinctively tend to feel "smarter" than poor people. They're not really smarter, they're just better prepared to use their intelligence.

The tragedy of the poor in any nation is mainly that they are not as aware of possibilities as they could be, had they grown up in a family that was not already locked into a working class lifestyle.

So...classes tend to perpetuate themselves.

The way to overcome this is to raise everyone to a basically good level of material existence, education, and medical care, as was attempted in Cuba after 1959...then take it from there. That necessitates some form of socialism. It is NOT going to happen in a purely free market system. Such a system acts to perpetuate the divide between rich and poor in order to maximize profit.

I will qualify the above by pointing out that, yes, there are some individuals who will break the pattern of their class...and move either up or down in class...but most people will basically repeat the established pattern they are most familiar with as youngsters.

Poor people may seem less intelligent to the rich...but they are simply shaped that way by what they are exposed to when they are quite young. As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.

A society that abandons its poor perpetuates its poverty.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 11:50 PM

Capitalism cannot survive without poverty. Simple as that.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Kaleea
Date: 22 Feb 05 - 11:56 PM

Geez, if we didn't have people in poverty, who else would the uppity--I mean rich--people look down own & blame for all the problems of the world.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Amos
Date: 23 Feb 05 - 12:13 AM

Oh come on, folks. You can have all the buildings in a city block turned over to a population of 1000 poor people, and out of that 1000, 9990 will manage to figure out that living in the buildings will work. But how many will study out how to use those resources as a basis for production which can be exported, to support the community?

It takes an idea, an imagined scenario followed up by a LOT of persuasion and energetic pushing and figgering and making things happen to get a group of people to start producing something. It takes more ideas and creative energy to make it well, and to sell it.

Until a small number of visionairies and organizers figgers out how to do it, it usually doesn't happen -- no organizing, no justice no exchange, no distribution of the non-wealth.

Those insights and methods are valuable products; they don't just come from trees. They are as valuable and more valuable than the routine productive effort of someone who works a mill--at least, harder to replace.

Poverty above all else is a failure of imagination and communication. At least when it occurs among the basically able it is.

Add imagination and communication and any group of poor people with a little bit of help can start up an economic cycle that will feed themselves.

That's the direction of help that is needed, IMHO. Organizing, developing, enterprising and training.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Piers
Date: 23 Feb 05 - 04:15 AM

Amos, I can see you know standing amongst a bunch of half-starved people preaching about 'organising, developing, enterprising and training'. Christ, talk about kissing the foot that kicks you. You don't need to know too much about economics to know that employment rates are directly related to productivity (profitability) which goes up and down because of repeated cycles of boom and recession, which is integral to capitalism.

You are living in some fantasy world if you think that capitalists are the most clever, inventive or visionary and they all got to be capitalists by doing that and it is there just reward. It's nothing but propaganda to justify the inequality of capitalism. There are many brilliant musicians on mudcat who are poor, brilliant inventors and scientists are poor too. People who a good at making money get to be rich. Bill Gates isn't a computer programmer, Richard Branson doesn't fly aeroplanes they make money and that's it. And it is this system that keeps the rest of us in poverty, even in the 'developed' countries we are still wageslaves, in the 'developing' millions don't have their basic needs, purely because there is no profit in producing food for them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Bobert
Date: 23 Feb 05 - 07:57 AM

It shouldn't come down to one's ability to make money. Or even one gtoup of people's ability to make money. What I can't understand is how my country, with all of its wealth, justifies such a hihg percentage of folks living in poverty compared to other developed countries. And I'm not buying the argument that the US is rich becuase it has so many poor people.

Bobert


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: hesperis
Date: 23 Feb 05 - 11:22 PM

I think the US justifies it by reasoning that people here who are in poverty still have a higher standard of living.

But it's a secondhand standard. Nothing wrong with that, just that if people didn't throw so much perfectly working stuff out then the poor here wouldn't have all those things. True poverty is a lack of health, a lack of food, and a lack of housing... we have all those here.

And, you can't sell secondhand stuff for food either, because it's crappy and nobody will buy it. So you end up drowning in stuff that other people didn't want and you STILL can't eat. I doubt there are many people who realize that.

And as for housing... we have higher standards of housing. That means that people can't build a simple shelter without paying for permits and inspections and making sure it's up to code. A risk of fire is not quite as important as a definite death from cold!


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: mg
Date: 23 Feb 05 - 11:44 PM

you're right about the housing codes..at least in some respects..like you used to in USA not be eligible for a VHA loan for a house unless the sink and toilet were the same color. Is that necessary? And if we didn't build with wood, but with cement or stone, there would be far less fire danger and flood danger..but more earthquake damage it seems...less insect damage and dry rot. And there should be higher density housing in some areas with plenty of green space and agricultural space surrounding it. We don't all need yards and as long as there is safety and soundproofing we can live stacked up on top of each other. mg


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 12:25 PM

True enough about the housing code. The housing code is supposedly there to protect people...and it does...but it also condemns people below a certain poverty level by making it impossible for them to afford to build a legal shelter.

In Trinidad, the poor people have mostly built themselves little shacks, all of which would totally fail our North American housing codes...and they are allowed to. They also are usually squatting on public land or some land they found somewhere. They would not be allowed to do that in North America either.

North America is a jail for poor people, who generally have little or no hope of either providing for themselves effectively or ever getting out of the hole they're in.

In Trinidad, you can be dirt poor and STILL build yourself a little house somewhere, and no one will come and stop you from doing it. I noticed that Trinidadians are, on the whole, more relaxed and happy than North Americans, and I'll tell you why...they're freer than North Americans, because they are far less regulated by laws, rules, and restrictions. We North Americans are living in a place that more and more resembles Orwell's 1984, year by year...and it's all done to service a moneyed elite and keep the money rolling in.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 05:12 PM

A modest proposal:

I remember back in the Thirties when I was a little wee kid, there was an organization called Technocracy, Inc. It was dismissed by most people as some sort of futuristic, Utopian social scheme, or as a cult, sect, or collection of pseudo-scientific crackpots. Nevertheless, some of them were the original Scientists and Engineers for Social Responsibility. Being way ahead of their time—and thinking outside the box—their theories appear to read like science fiction.

I didn't learn what they were really about until back in the early Sixties, when a drinking buddy of mine said that he was going to a lecture of Technocracy, Inc., and would I like to join him. That drinking buddy was Jerry Pournelle.

Yes, the science fiction writer. Back then, I didn't even know he was interested in writing, and I didn't find out until a few years after he and Roberta left for California and I started seeing his stuff appearing in Analog and his books showing up on paperback racks. Anyway, Jerry was pretty conservative (characterized himself as far to the right of Attila the Hun), and he and I had many a good discussion (argument) about politics and such. Shows that two people can disagree strenuously about a lot of things, but still be good friends. I haven't seen him since 1985 or so, but I check his website from time to time to see what he's up to lately. He now refers to himself as a "paleo-conservative" as distinct from a "neo-conservative." (Got that, DougR?)

Anyway, we took in the lecture. In the question and answer period, Jerry asked some very pointed questions. Afterwards, we went to the notorious Blue Moon Tavern (our customary watering-hole) and kicked it around. Jerry was a bit perturbed. He was trying to blow holes in it. There was something about it that he didn't like. Although in no way is it related to Marxism, communism, or socialism, it seems distressingly left-wing. The idea of managing and distributing goods and services in a way that everybody would have everything they need, and some people might not have to even work unless called upon to do so (and even then, they would work at jobs they like and are well-suited for), even if the whole idea was scientifically sound, somehow offended his conservative viewpoint. At the end of the evening, he allowed as how there had to be a flaw, but so far he couldn't find. "Might just work," he mused, uncomfortably. He may have changed his mind since then, but that, I don't know.

In the thread "Why do we need money," Little Hawk mentions Earth society as portrayed in Star Trek: The Next Generation a couple of times (for example, HERE). A consummation devoutly to be wished. It strikes me that, with some minor modifications and updating, the ideas extended by the advocates of Technocracy, Inc. way back in the Thirties have the potential of bringing that about.

One writer on Technocracy, Inc. puts it this way:   Before dismissing Technocracy, one should review their work on economics needing to be energy based, actual credits based on the total value of physical energy available in an industrialized society. Not wage based. In other words they call for abolishing the wage system! Technocracy opposes Capitalism's "money—>capital—>money" formula, or as we might call it today, the "Casino Capitalism of the Stock Market." They oppose this money economy, or "price economy," as they call it, and propose replacing it with an energy economy.

These days, if you mention Technocracy, Inc., most people have never heard of it. Those who have think of it as a crazy Utopian scheme from back in the Thirties. And those who know a lot about it, especially if they have a vested interest in the present system, can get downright hostile and abusive.

I'm not advocating it (yet, anyway), but don't think it should be dismissed without giving it a good look. The idea is still drifting around out there, and those who do advocate it have a website.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Bobert
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 05:29 PM

As fir housing go to any large city in the US and you'll find lots of people without it. The homeless rate is climbing like a shyrocket in America. Health care? Most folks are either going without entirely or darned sick before seeking help. Why? It's very costly. Food? Since school food proframs have been slashed under the current "compassionate" conservative lots of kids just don't get even one real balanced meal per day...

Comparing the US to Third World counteies might make some folks feel less guilty but when we compare our poverty rates with the rates of other developed countries, the US has nothing to brag about and all the reason in te world to be ashamed...

And to the Bush-heads here, I can take you down to Washington, D.C. and show you folks who are living in cardboard boxes within a 1/2 mile of the nation's capitol...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: hesperis
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 05:30 PM

Very interesting, Don!


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Piers
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 03:31 AM

Thank you Don, that is very interesting. I would have to class them as a utopian cult though. Whilst there is definetly a strong Marxist and socialist influence (e.g. is the 'money—>capital—>money formula' is a paraphrase of Marx's M-C-M (Das Kapital, chap 4)? But the C stands for commodity not capital, not that it makes sense unless compared to commodity->money->commodity (money as a simple exchange), money->commodity->money is buying something to sell it, capitalism).

A fundamental flaw in their goal of acheiving technocracy is that they believe capitalism will collapse. This is an erroneous idea, often attributed to Marx (check this out for further info: http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/pdf/wcwnc.pdf). They also assume that scientific opinion is always the same and that calculation of production values based on energy will never generate conflicts, and if it did who's in charge?. I suspect that they percieve a need for a single calculating mechanism in response to von Mises' 'economic calculation argument' against socialism - but that is another story. They also seem to assume that people will be able to accept having an equal share of everything, an idea that Marx specifically ridiculed in Critique of the Gotha Programme, i.e. that everybody has the same needs. I also can't quite see in their writings why technocracy should only apply to North America and not other developed parts of the world. There is also certain amount of hypocrisy, despite wanting to get rid of subjective things like politics and religion they appeal to 'patriotic North Americans'.

Whilst I agree, broadly, with their analysis of the inherent poverty in capitalism and that this can only be acheived by abolishing capitalism. I do not agree that common/social ownership could be run by technocracy but that common/social ownership of the means of production can only be acheived by common/social control, i.e. through democratic decision making.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: hesperis
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 03:44 PM

Yes, everyone does not have the same needs, even basic needs such as nutrition are different for individuals. But nutrition itself is a basic need that everyone does share.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 05:58 PM

I very much doubt that capitalism will collapse. Far more likely that it will expand considerably. It's doing so right now, specially on the part of China.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: number 6
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 11:23 AM

Has anyone who posted to this thread really experienced absolute poverty. Absolute Poverty meaning completely being destitute beyond all control. Lacking and being denied all the basic ammenities of food, shelter, medicare. I'm not refering to the 'salad days' of our youth, the poverty of our university days or whatever. I bet none of us have. I know I haven't. But I can sympathize to those that do live this miserable life and existance, the unfortunate ones on this planet who are gripped and controled by the poverty imposed on them. All rhetoric and reason as to why we need poverty, as to why there is poverty is an insult to humanity. There is no reason, need or excuse for absolute poverty.

sIx


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Amos
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 11:27 AM

Don,

Thanks for the link to the Technocracy site. I had heard about them back int he 70's and forgotten about them completely.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 11:36 AM

6 - I haven't experienced it, but I have witnessed it, and no, there is no excuse for it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Amos
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 01:02 PM

Don,

Thanks for the link to the Technocracy site. I had heard about them back int he 70's and forgotten about them completely.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 01:27 PM

When Bee-Dubya-Ell takes $0.20 worth of clay, $0.0001 worth of glaze, $0.10 worth of electricity and makes a pot that sells for $200. Is it he who is greedy? Which piece of "poor folks pie" did he rob in order to enrich himself -- the person who spent the $200? What makes the discrepency between the $200 pot and the $0.3001 materials that went into it? If BeeDub can sell it for $2,000 is he even greedier? If BeeDub gave away all of his pottery and was, instead, supported by Gov't stipend as "The official potter and broke-dick mamalucka of the united states of america" (here-to-fore OPBDMUSA, or "Opie" for short), would that stipend not affect the poor?

When you tune up your guitar and go down to the local bar or coffee house and play for $20 in tips, what poor person's $20 is that? --and doesn't your guitar go severely out of tune if you do it in that order?

What if I don't want to play the economic game -- instead, choose to live simply, and, by that choice always fall below the "poverty line". Should that reflect poorly on BeeDub because he pocketted the $2K from that pot sale? (I hope so -- I like it when things reflect poorly on BeeDub)


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 01:37 PM

The pot that sells for $200 is not just the sum of the physical materials used in its construction. It is a great deal of intelligent consciousness and experience of the artisan, given visible form. If well done, that is worth a lot of money.

Same as a well made guitar or any other thing that is well made.

The crime of modern mass marketing capitalism is not that things are marketed which are expensive, but that people are manipulated through advertising to place importance on an artificial lifestyle that makes no sense and doesn't even make them happy. They are encouraged to seek happiness where it cannot be found, and they are encouraged to be self-destructive at the same time.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 01:56 PM

"It is a great deal of intelligent consciousness and experience of the artisan"

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!!!!

*phew*

You had me going there for a minute. Then I read "intelligent" and realized that you had changed the subject.

I was talking about Bee-Dubya-Ell.

(by the way -- that still doesn't explain which poor are going to suffer because BWL sold the pot -- or do they only suffer if BWL gets "wealthy" selling his pots?)


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: dianavan
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 01:57 PM

When I was raising my children, we lived below the poverty line but we always had plenty to eat, a roof over our heads and medical care when necessary. It was a struggle to provide, but we did it and I managed put myself through university and establish a career.

Oddly, my children (who are now grown) never realized that we were poor. We have talked about this many times. We were living in a rural situation most of the time and owning a car, a t.v. and other luxuries that others consider the basics, were non-existent. As long as we were clean and well-mended, we were able to fit into the community and nobody really knew that we were strugggling financially.

Hesperis has a good point when she says: " Poverty itself may not need to be eradicated, only redefined."

I was discussing this very point with a friend from Jamaica. We were actually considering a Masters Thesis entitled, Re-defining poverty. Poverty is real but how you are able to cope with it may determine your actual level of poverty.

At one point, a counsellor told me that a woman who is suddenly single after living a life of affluence is much more likely to feel impoverished than a woman who had been dealing with poverty all of her life. Makes sense to me.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 02:04 PM

Jim, if you would be willing to bend over, I would be happy to assist you with the placement of this iron fireplace poker here... :-)


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