No One Wants Handouts!

November 12, 2018

There seems to be an opinion among Republicans and Conservatives that Liberals and Democrats believe the answer to dangerously high inequality and continuing significant poverty in the US is just more ‘handouts’ (welfare). Every time I hear this characterization, my blood boils. I’d like to correct this misunderstanding.

I speak for myself, but I think most of those on my side of the political and social aisle would agree. What our underprivileged citizens need (and want) is good jobs with living wages. I firmly believe the vast majority of our poor would prefer to receive no handouts, would prefer to pay their own way.

I have faith in human nature. I believe only a tiny fraction of our needy want to exist off welfare.  For one thing, our social support budget is lower than that of many other developed nations. It’s almost impossible to “live off” welfare only. For another, it just doesn’t feel good to people to depend on charity. People want to earn their way.

Furthermore, Democrats don’t want to dole out precious government resources on welfare, resources which could go to infrastructure, education, basic research, and much more.

Those characterizations of Democrats, Liberals, and our poor are simply not true and are promoted for political advantage only.

Given that we all agree that handouts are not the answer, what is the problem? Here’s my list:

1-While unemployment is very low, wages remain very low. Recent wage increases fall far short of re-balancing the decades lost in stagnant wages (since the late 70s).

2-Furthermore, a huge skills deficit results in good jobs going unfilled and millions of Americans working at very low minimum wages. A major factor in this is the wage-educations costs gap which has widened dramatically across the last few decades.

3-Creating an economy where there is a healthy balance of good jobs and training to qualify workers for those jobs has not been the focus of this or previous US government administrations. Neither Democrats nor Republicans have presented an agenda to resolve this huge problem. Trump’s government seems determined to focus only on “manufacturing.” Some focus on manufacturing is fair, but there is a much broader set of skills needed, especially in the service and knowledge economy for which the US wage scale is best suited.

My questions to my Conservative friends are these:

  1. Since we all agree handouts are not the best answer, why aren’t you offering policy and solutions designed to create those jobs? This would best involve collaboration between local businesses, local educational institutions, and local governments. The federal government is not the best source of solutions and plans, but can be a valuable enhancer with a variety of incentives to boost promising local initiatives. Since nothing like this has been underway to date, it is likely to take years to produce results–but it’s time to get started.
  2. What do you propose we do across the years of development toward jobs and skills balance? Isn’t there a temporary (and hopefully diminishing) need for welfare to prevent people starving while we work toward a better economy with opportunity for “shared prosperity”? Do we have to sacrifice a generation?

My guess as to the answers to these questions (why critics of welfare do nothing to solve the jobs problem):

-They  believe such an economic and societal improvement is hopelessly utopian (just a waste of time and money to try)–e.g., let the free market deal with jobs and wages. They believe it is dangerous to try to influence the pure market. They fear unintended negative consequences. But how well has that worked across the last few decades?

-Many Conservatives believe in total self determination. They believe there is ample opportunity for our underprivileged to “make it” if they will just get off the sofa and find the training and the jobs. They believe workers should get themselves trained as plumbers or electricians if they are not able to handle computer science.

-And, I hate to say it, but maybe some just don’t care about working toward shared prosperity. How can anyone not care about our inequality, which is back to robber baron era level?

I have argued for years now that our very high level of inequality is the biggest problem for our United States. It’s not immigrants at the border, not Iran or North Korea, not an underfunded military, not the economic threats from foreign countries. These are among our many problems, but inequality is the worst problem. This is what results in poverty, homelessness, health and longevity problems, despair and much more, including death.

To my surprise, even Tucker Carlson (for whom I have little patience) is quoted as agreeing that inequality is our greatest problem.

An unhappy, under-skilled segment of our voting public went for a demagogue populist who promised to fix their pain from low wages and poor jobs. If he really wants to put America First, then he should focus and thoroughly address America’s First Problem.

 

2 thoughts on “No One Wants Handouts!

  1. Claude Littleton says:

    Great job! The pursuit of Catallaxy – energy, education, and information/communication
    When I talk of raising all boats perhaps a better way of saying this is raising standards of living. Much has been written on this subject and a great deal of the hypnosis depends on one’s political affiliation. “Fredrich Hayek called catallaxy: the ever-expanding possibility generated by the division of labor.” ‘If I sew you a hide today you can sew me one tomorrow brings limited returns. But if I make the clothes and you catch the fish brings increasing returns.’ Trade is often unequal, but it benefits both sides. (Abundance)
    The Aztec culture, also known as Mexica culture, was a Mesoamerican culture that flourished in central Mexico in the post-classic period from 1300 to 1521. Economically important factors were commerce, long distance and local, and a high degree of trade specialization.
    Bringing 6G to the world will raise the standard of living for everyone.
    (6G is proposed to integrate 5G with satellite networks for global coverage. It is considered to be a cheap and Fast Internet Technology to provide unbelievably high data rates or very fast Internet speed access on air through wireless and mobile devices possibly up to 11 Gbps, while traveling or in a remote location.)
    Just think, if everyone had food, clothing, and shelter, how much improvement would we get in GDP?
    6G Applications and Technology
    Many of the cellular devices connected nowadays are machines (IoT) rather than people, with the rise of Smart Homes, Smart Building and Smart Cities, so 5G and 6G will include increased demands for machine-to-machine communications, including robotic and autonomous drone delivery and transport systems. The Internet-of-Everything (IoE) is a related development.
    Other trends predicted for 6G include Ultra-dense cell networks, Reconfigurable Hardware, Millimeter Waves for user access, enhanced Optical-Wireless interface, Networked VLC, Intelligent Networking and technologies to enable Full Immersive Experience for users. One thing we can be confident on is that users will demand and expect greater global coverage, higher capacities and always-on connectivity for new and future internet services and applications and that 6G will be expected to deliver all of these.
    Please tell our congress and the president that together we can raise the standard of living for everyone. Fund research and development for Fast Internet Technology.

    6g technology refers to the sixth-generation technology. It is proposed to integrate 5G technology for a global coverage. For resource monitoring and weather information multimedia video and high-speed Internet connectivity and the Earth, imaging satellite networks are used. To integrate these three kinds of satellite-like telecommunication, navigation, multimedia networks which provide global positions, internet connectivity with high speed and for mobile user’s weather information services are major three objectives for 6g technology.

    Advantages • Ultra-fast to access the Internet. • Data rates up to 10-11 Gbps. • Home automation and other related applications. • Smart Homes, Cities, and Villages. • Used in the production of Energy from the galactic world. • Space technology and Defense applications will be modified with 6G networks. • Home-based ATM systems. • Satellite to Satellite Communication for the development of mankind. • Natural Calamities will be controlled with 6G networks. • Sea to Space Communication
    4. COMPARISON BETWEEN 5G AND 6G TECHNOLOGIES Features 5G 6G Year 2015 After 5G onwards Speed 1Gbps and Higher 10 to 11Gbps Technology 4G+WWW 5G+Satellite Standards WiMAX LAS CDMA, OFDM, MC-CDMA, UWB, Network-LMDS, IPv6 GPS, COMPASS, GLONASS, Galileo systems Core Network Internet Handoff Horizontal & Vertical Horizontal & Vertical
    5. CONCLUSION Today mobile phones consist of everything ranging from the smallest size, largest phone memory, speed dialing, video player, audio player, and camera and so on. Recently with the development of internets and Bluetooth technology data sharing has become a child’s play. The 6th generation (6G) wireless mobile communication networks integrate satellites for global coverage. It can be a combination of nanocore and artificial intelligence, where all the network operators will be connected to one single core. As in evolution and explosion, many will become extinct, but some will change the world. In 6G the cost of the mobile call will be relatively high but in 7G this problem will be improved, and the cost of the call will be reduced, and the lower level user will be benefited.
    (International Research Journal of Engineering and Technology (IRJET)

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