Comments on: Self Help is no help for inequality Thu, 21 Jul 2016 07:57:19 +0000 hourly 1 By: OneOfTheSheep Sun, 30 Mar 2014 05:07:37 +0000 @carnivalchaos,

My point was that the number of people that have no clue as to where their own best interests lie appears to be increasing dramatically. Warning labels was my personal speculation as to one possible reason why.

It should go without saying that when someone doesn’t know where their personal best interests lie, it’s pretty much a “given” that they can do little to improve their personal prospects or economic well being. They are, in the end, even incapable of “voting their wallet”. So it has always been, and so it will always be.

If the “for profit” market still operates on the historical principle of “let the buyer beware”, more and more it becomes necessary for competent system overhaul. Our administering agencies have proved frighteningly inept again and again, apparently lacking anyone with authority to access and amplify those occasional embers of hope and fan them into substance.

The VA delays vital tests until a clearly intentional pattern of neglect reveals lives needlessly cut short or even lost. In my case the co-pay for drugs I am prescribed would cost me more in co-pays for a month’s supply than a three-month supply bought at retail from Costco Mail Order in Everett, WA.

In all fairness, it is Congress that establishes what I must pay in co-pay; and the VA does use competitive bidding to determine it’s suppliers. Unfortunately what it saves doesn’t ease the lot of veterans, but flows instead to fund the the VA bureaucracy. And yes, I think Medicare should use it’s considerable buying power to lower the cost of drugs to beneficiaries…to the point of buying overseas, if necessary.

At a time when the average American can’t get in to see their internist within a week when they come down with something Obama’s decree takes an ax to inexpensive individual policies many people had, doubles or triples their costs of insurance, and grants unfettered access to the previously uninsured into every doctor’s office. Thus our productive are displaced “in line” by the unproductive, and it will be over a decade before physician access will return to what it was IF IT EVER DOES.

And I shall also point out that the power and influence of labor unions have NEVER befitted “average Americans”, but only union workers. It is “the rest of us” that must pay an inflated price for infrastructure everywhere because of Davis-Bacon.

Perhaps the fun-house mirrors of your alternate reality looks normal when viewed through YOUR prescription lenses.

By: carnivalchaos Sat, 29 Mar 2014 17:56:36 +0000 OOTS: What do warning labels have to do with anything regarding this op-ed?

““We, the people” should demand that ALL people in government, business or as private parties have an absolute duty to “deal with one another” in good faith.”

I fully agree. The question is, how do you make that happen? That’s why we need regulations. Those who don’t practice in good faith must be made to pay a price. Instead, too often they’re rewarded.

Take our healthcare system, for example. I’m not necessarily suggesting that it’s run by a bunch of crooks, but I will say that much of the problem the US is running into is due to the fact that healthcare is a necessity for all people and unless we have government regulate our healthcare system to protect “the people’s” best interests, the healthcare system will fail because it will be designed and run with profit being the #1 goal, and with profit being the #1 goal healthcare outcomes and costs will not evolve in a way that maximizes the American people’s best interests. Healthcare cannot be effectively run on a purely market-based design. It’s never effectively been done before for any length of time. It worked for a while here in the US, but average Americans were being paid more (thanks, in part, to the power and influence of labor unions) and not everyone in the healthcare industry was out to make it rich. In other words, our healthcare was affordable.

But problems started early. Our elderly were increasingly unable to afford their healthcare needs. Healthcare was increasingly out of reach for the poor. Our soldiers couldn’t afford it. So government stepped in, as they should. But then it got to where the average American couldn’t afford it. We’d been needing government to step in again, but the Republicans and the insurance/healthcare industries wouldn’t allow it. Finally, Obama broke the log jam and got the ACA passed. The Republicans and the insurance/healthcare industries were not pleased and have been doing everything in their power to make Obama and the Democrats pay a political price while trying to repeal the legislation. This is what happens when special interests are allowed to take over our government. THIS is what must change.

By: soccy Sat, 29 Mar 2014 13:23:19 +0000 Thanks so much for this article. I am so tired of structural mismanagement being put on the individual. That is turning inequality into abuse.

By: JL4 Thu, 27 Mar 2014 21:36:48 +0000 @tmc, seriously?

By: Heyoka Thu, 27 Mar 2014 13:15:22 +0000 I am suspicious of claims, made by anyone, that purport to shed light on who should or should not contribute to the human gene pool. For one thing, I don’t accept on faith that Darwin intended his theory to apply I’m the manner suggested by social Darwinism. For another, while some behaviors clearly contribute to the weakening of the gene pool (incest for example) taking SD and eugenics to its illogical extreme would result in a continuos shifting of the goal posts defining what is fit to a degree to which I think the vast majority would be wise to object. Nearly 200 years after the dawn of the Industrial Age, we are still debating the very same questions posed by Galton, et al. I would like to think that most of so-called civil society answered those questions, especially in light of the instructive horrors of WWII era Europe. In addition, I have yet to see a proponent of even watered-down eugenics purport that he or she falls into the category of “one who should not reproduce.”

By: tmc Thu, 27 Mar 2014 12:43:00 +0000 I don’t know how long you’ve been commenting on Reuters @carnivalchaos, but baiting the Sheepster isn’t normally a good idea. ;-)

By: OneOfTheSheep Thu, 27 Mar 2014 03:29:40 +0000 @carnivalchaos,

It was YOU that jumps to the (wrong) conclusion…that information “makes us stupid”. Please. My point was that reasonably intelligent people don’t NEED to be told to keep their feet out from under the lawn mower, or that the Walmart Superman costume “…does not enable twearer to fly”.

Those that benefit from such labels are not necessarily desirable as continuing contributors to the human gene pool. When you eliminate natural selection, i.e. survival of the fittest, evolution is reversed. Man is then on a genetic path back to pond scum.

People of average intelligence need the help of trained realtors, bankers, electricians, etc. I fully agree that certification standards, regulations, etc. are as necessary as laws. But to be effective, those administering those trained in specialties should have to have reasonable competence and goals. Instead we have “peer review” of judges, lawyers, and even local, state and federal agencies that are largely ineffective in righting wrongs.

“We, the people” should demand that ALL people in government, business or as private parties have an absolute duty to “deal with one another” in good faith. I guarantee both Liberals AND Conservatives would choke on such common sense standard. As a Libertarian, I ask WHY must we each watch our own back?

It is solely the LACK of such standard that makes it so difficult for the average American to understand and meaningfully compare various mortgage (or rental) options. It should be the clear responsibility of those trained in a given discipline to employ their “advantage” to best advance the interests of those who hire them.

I have heard in court that no one knows what a law means until it is interpreted by a judge. If that be so, how can it also be true that “ignorance of the law is no excuse”? You can’t have it both ways, people! And yet, “we, the people” ARE dumb enough that today such double standard disrespects and demeans our very society.

WHY should rulings under the same guiding words mean one outcome under one judge and the exact opposite under another? Simple, really. America is graduating more and more lawyers such that this profession today increasingly infests every level of politics and commerce. The more unpredictable the law can be made, the more of them earn a comfortable living off the rest of us. Yes, it’s “us against them”, very much so.

In my own way, I agree with much of what you say and complain of here. I just don’t see any possible solution in the pervasive inefficiency and incompetence that typifies every level of government. I just don’t see any meaningful difference between what either of the two major political parties do when in power. Under each the size and influence of government always grows.

That’s because there is no consensus as to what is the proper role of government. No party will ever seek or allow consensus to emerge among “we, the people”.

Consensus would mean a finite limit to government. That would limit the amount politicians and bureaucrats could demand from our economy to perpetuate themselves.

I, like you, clearly see both what “is” and what “should be”. What I don’t see is any possible path from here to there.

By: carnivalchaos Thu, 27 Mar 2014 01:55:19 +0000 OneOfTheSheep: “One reason there is an increasing number of stupid people in our society is that warning labels have thwarted the essential process of natural selection.”

Wow. So, information makes us stupid. That’s a new one on me. You must be a conservative. They don’t seem to like information much. Labels are simply information. What a person does with that information is up to them, but at least it enables them to make an informed decision. Some people have adverse health reactions to certain foods, additives, ingredients, etc. Some people use the labels because they are on a particular kind of diet and labels help them make intelligent decisions. Some people just like to know what they’re putting into their bodies. Too often conservatives have this knee-jerk impulse to attack anyone who doesn’t live their life the way the conservative does. So you don’t read labels. That’s fine, but to suggest that labels are contributing to the dumbing down of America only serves to prove that it’s not label reading that’s making us dumb.

dd606: “Anybody I’ve ever known who falls for that kind of stuff, is always the same kind of person… Dumb.”

Here’s the problem I have with what you’re saying. We’re talking about finance industry professionals. Their job is not to help you make a wise investment in a home, designing a portfolio, investing in gold, or whatever. Their job is to make themselves money and they’re always finding ways to accomplish that and to increase what they make. They spend their careers studying this stuff. Sure, people need to do their homework when they go to take out a mortgage or invest their money in anything. But the average person has a limited amount of time to do their research. These professionals will always be one step ahead of the average person. I’m not saying that they’re all crooks looking to screw over everyone who walks in their door. Part of that making money business is to stay in business, so you have to do some things right. But to suggest that anyone who listens to these people and follows through on their advice is stupid, is just plain arrogant. They might not be particularly smart at the complexities involved in buying a home. That’s what realtors are for. But they, too, are in it for the money, so they might not always give you the best advice either.

People need homes, and some people are better at matters of finance than others. I know a painter (the artist kind) who is simply brilliant at what he does, but not so brilliant when it comes to money. Is everyone who doesn’t know how to paint or how to interpret a painting stupid?

A person of average intelligence walks into a bank or a Countrywide office wanting to get a mortgage for a new home. If the lender talks him into taking out an adjustable rate mortgage, citing all sorts of statistics as to why it’s the best way to go (as Ms Olen mentions, no less than Alan Greenspan was hawking adjustable rate mortgages) then a certain percentage of the population will do it. So then the bottom drops out of the economy and they can’t afford their mortgage. And when too many people lose their homes because they can’t pay their mortgages, it has a ripple effect that can cause a lot more harm to more people, even those who don’t have a mortgage.

So here’s where I bring points made by OneOfTheSheep and dd606 together. Information is power (and it doesn’t make us stupid). Conservatives don’t like regulations, but wise people understand that regulations are necessary for a society to work. For one thing, it helps to keep the unscrupulous in check. There needs to be enough regulations in place so that the average American can apply for a mortgage and CLEARLY understand the risks. True, you can’t protect everyone from themselves, but when there’s a significant number of people being hurt by an industry practice, then the government needs to step in and come up with a way that will minimize that harm being done. It’s just practical common sense. This will make conservatives cringe, but we need government to help protect us from unscrupulous professionals, of all sorts. Lenders, builders, pharmaceutical companies, politicians (ESPECIALLY them), religious leaders, lawyers, daycare workers, food manufactures, etc. When a significant number of people are being hurt by some practice, the government needs to do something about it. That’s what they’re there for.

By: JL4 Wed, 26 Mar 2014 23:57:01 +0000 I never bought or read the book, “The Secret”, but I always suspected the big “secret” was how the author of the book got rich. My grandmother told me decades ago that the way to ensure financial stability was to “Save some of your paycheck, even if it’s only $5.00 a week”. That works.

By: dd606 Wed, 26 Mar 2014 23:18:41 +0000 So some people told other people to do something, and they did it. So what? That’s been going on ever since there’s been people. If some yahoo is on TV trying to sell people on how great something is, or charging fees to come listen to them give speeches about how great something is… commonsense would dictate… If what they’re talking about is so great, then why aren’t they just out there doing it themselves? Why are they wasting time telling everybody else how to do it?

Anybody I’ve ever known who falls for that kind of stuff, is always the same kind of person… Dumb. They’re too stupid and lazy to actually figure something out on their own, or put in the real time it takes. They want to go to some afternoon seminar, or read a book… and have it tell them in a few hours, how to make a bunch of money. Then they’re shocked when it doesn’t work, and they want to blame somebody.

So what can we do? Fine dumb people? I couldn’t have cared if 500 people lined up to tell me to buy a house that was priced four times more than it was a couple years earlier… I didn’t do it. Because I’m not dumb. That’s the problem with the US today… Everything is dumbed down to the lowest IQ. Some idiot can’t talk and drive at the same time, so the other 99% of people aren’t allowed to use their phone anymore. People do dumb things, so we have to keep passing laws to stop them from doing dumb things. Then all the smart people are penalized.