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Comment: Re: if your care for the poor were genuine (Score 1) 356

by MightyYar (#49148945) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

I asked you to refrain from empty statements like "don't throw money at the problem" or "it would be better if people didn't have to rely on government assistance" and other such phrasings that you have used.

Those aren't empty statements, but I won't belabor that point anymore. We clearly disagree.

That you also combined programs like Social Security with your complaints about Welfare in general, is yet another hallmark of why I differ with you. You even thought it was necessary to combine them. It's not. Never was, never have been.

Once welfare reform hit, a lot of people shifted over to Social Security - specifically the long-term disability part. It is exactly this kind of shuffling that makes it difficult to separate the programs. Social Security is not one thing - it is a retirement program for all wage earners (except some public unions), but it also contains a significant social welfare element. I don't mind separating them for whatever analysis you want to do - either way the amount of money spent has only gone up and poverty has not budged since those initial gains way back in the 60s.

Here's a decent write-up. I wish we could paste graphs in, but I'll do my best. First, look at the very first chart, which shows a dramatic decrease in the poverty rate in the first 10 years, followed by no progress over the remaining 40. The second chart addresses the criticism that the official poverty rate is not accurate, but it also shows only a slightly more optimistic trend. The last chart shows spending as a percentage of GDP, broken down into all programs and programs exclusively for the benefit of the poor - as you keep suggesting.

You can see from this chart that the initial ramp-up from 0.5 to 1% of the GDP corresponds to a reduction in the poverty rate from 22% to 12%. This represents an astounding success: for 0.5% of our total output, we cut poverty almost in half!

However, the ensuing years see us increase spending 4x, with little to show for it. I know that my analysis is simplistic. I know that much of the spending has been on health care, which has grown at a rate far in excess of the GDP. Nevertheless, it is a completely reasonable interpretation of the data to say that money is probably not the problem anymore. It certainly looks like it was in 1950, but you have to recognize that we reached a point of diminishing returns sometime in the early 70s.

An interesting correlation is the 2nd chart from the bottom, where black and Hispanic poverty took a nose-dive in the mid 90s. We were coming out of a recession and entering the dot-com era, and that probably explains some of it. But I think it is notable that this is when welfare reform started to kick in. Sometimes you can help the poor by doing something counter-intuitive.

Comment: Re: if your care for the poor were genuine (Score 1) 356

by MightyYar (#49146115) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

I think you mis-state my position. I certainly do prefer people be self-sufficient. I think that situations like Katrina are not so much a failure of the government as they are inevitable when huge blocks of the population are completely dependent on the government. You had people stay below sea level in the path of an approaching hurricane, who took no emergency preparations whatsoever. They were fully of the opinion that the government would be there for them the next day. When only a shell of government was there, they complained that they were only getting cold meals as they were airlifted to higher ground. Some died, others were driven to salvaging food from flooded grocery stores. "George Bush hates black people" despite their fates having been decided decades earlier. (Note that I'm not defending the government response - it was generally terrible with some bright spots like the airlift... but the fact is that city should have been empty, so the failure came prior to the storm.)

With that said, I'm not expecting everyone to be resourceful enough to survive when society collapses. You have me wrong by saying that I want a bunch of MacGuyvers. Cities in particular are social beasts where everyone is dependent upon everyone else. I don't think the average Manhattan socialite is any more capable of surviving in post-flood New Orleans than the poorest inhabitant of a housing project there. What they do have is the incentive and ability to get the hell out of town when a hurricane is coming.

You saw the same thing with Sandy - occupants of the public housing projects stayed put, despite New York having dedicated resources to shelters and buses. Next time hopefully they'll have the sense to shut off the power ahead of time - but those people were one fire away from a total disaster. And a fire did wipe out a large swath of Queens, where thank God the residents were independent enough to evacuate.

Anyway, I want to emphasize once again that I have no problems spending public money to eliminate or reduce poverty. What I object to is pumping more money into programs that have failed - over a 50 year period - to do that. It's not about the amount of money being spent, it is how it is being spent. You act like I'm being an ideologue for demanding some evidence that a program is actually effective. I'm not talking about starving people into submission or putting time limits on benefits. I'm not even talking about drug testing recipients. I'm talking about using evidence based methods to reduce poverty, and not just blindly throwing money around. And certainly not berating people who see through the obvious ineffectiveness of our current social policy - the numbers speak for themselves.

Comment: Re: if your care for the poor were genuine (Score 1) 356

by MightyYar (#49143133) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

It's okay if we disagree - I just hope that you can see my point of view.

I worry about people who depend upon the government because the government can up and disappear from time to time. I don't mean that literally - the US is pretty stable and I don't expect to see it actually disappear. But I do expect swings in policy that leave people in a lurch. I do expect abandonment of promises, a la the Detroit pensioners. I think that making promises to people about a future that you do not control is immoral. And, yes, on a philosophical level, I do believe that people should be able to look after themselves to the extent that is possible.

Comment: Re: if your care for the poor were genuine (Score 1) 356

by MightyYar (#49139081) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

It is very difficult to separate them. Nearly all of the seniors who are completely dependent on Social Security were at one time working - otherwise they would not get very much money. The fact that they now depend completely on Social Security is both a success and a failure of the program. It is a success in that you don't have destitute seniors at the same level you had prior to the program's start. But it's a failure in that millions now depend on the government as their retirement plan. Ideally there should be some kind of incentive to get people to save on their own so that they don't require a government check to survive.

So I don't think I agree that they are separate programs with separate goals. I think we'd both agree that it would be better if people did not have to rely on government assistance.

To your point, Medicare is perhaps better separated out, since we seem to have decided that the old deserve socialized healthcare - full stop. If people are getting substandard care via Medicare and the problem is deemed to be financial, then yes the only answer is to raise taxes so that we don't under-fund our elder care.

Comment: Re: if your care for the poor were genuine (Score 1) 356

by MightyYar (#49137263) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

But the numbers ARE big, and after almost 50 years of growth in government assistance programs we still have the same percentage of people living in poverty. I concede that number is contested, but even the more optimistic number shows that the people lifted from poverty are now dependent upon the government to keep them out of poverty. Government assistance, as it is implemented now, is not being used as a safety net - it is being relied upon permanently.

I don't think very many object to the idea of a safety net - but it is not anti-poor to suggest that government programs should have a goal of getting people to stand on their own two feet.

  To "bring it back" to the original reason I commented, I don't think it is wrong to suggest that a specific solar policy might be better or worse for people with low incomes. Raising taxes to throw even more money at the problem of poverty is asking a lot given the track record that this method has.

Comment: Re: if your care for the poor were genuine (Score 1) 356

by MightyYar (#49135953) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

Social Security is not smoke and mirrors - it is money being moved from low and mid-income earners to everyone over 65. It is actually quite straightforward. Medicaid/medicare is similar, except that the recipients can also be needy.

High-wage earners already have their Social Security subject to income tax, so it does get further reapportioned to the needy. Take the total spent on social security and cut it in half if you want to adjust for non-needy recipients - it's still a huge entitlement program that mostly supports people who would otherwise be impoverished.

Comment: Re: if your care for the poor were genuine (Score 1) 356

by MightyYar (#49134687) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

Don't bring up entitlement spending? That, along with healthcare are the largest chunks. 2/3 of federal spending are dedicated to people completely reliant on government. This may or may not have decreased poverty - depending on whose statistics you believe - but at what cost? Total dependence? What happens to these people when government collapses, even for a little while? Katrina, that's what. I really, honestly, do not mind throwing money at people so that they do not starve. But let's not pretend that is anything more than charity. If you "care for the poor", you'll support programs and policies which get them on their own two feet - not make them wards of the state. Admonishing people who don't want to simply throw even more money at a failed "solution" will not help anyone.

Comment: Re:if your care for the poor were genuine (Score 1) 356

by MightyYar (#49130935) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

The solution to the poor has always been to throw more money at the problem, and yet we now spend 50% of our total budget on health, education, or entitlements. And yet we still have poor people. In fact, the official poverty statistics remain unchanged. Even the most optimistic poverty statistics show that these services are not lifting anyone out of poverty, but are instead the only thing keeping them out of poverty.

I suggest that, while there is nothing wrong with supporting people so that they don't starve, perhaps the solution of "throw more money at the poor" is not as effective as you seem to think.

Comment: Re:OK, except sometimes one of the levers (Score 1) 421

by MightyYar (#49115659) Attached to: What If We Lost the Sky?

While that is absolutely true, the population of CA is still far better off than they would be without the reservoirs - they would have had to move (or die) 2 years ago. The fact is that they will pump water where they need to and it will get expensive, and maybe make certain types of agriculture uneconomical. But we'll defeat mother nature's attempt to kill us.

Comment: Re:Horribly misleading summary (Score 1) 672

by MightyYar (#49114203) Attached to: Bill Nye Disses "Regular" Software Writers' Science Knowledge

"Follow the money" is indeed a good strategy. I recommend you apply that philosophy equally to those who have made careers out of denying AGW. It also shouldn't take too much time to realize that we are probably 20 years into something of a consensus on AGW within the scientific community, and "the government" has changed hands between the Democrats and Republicans a few times since then. If there was political influence, you would expect some wavering amongst the scientific community - and yet there has been none.

Comment: Re:Horribly misleading summary (Score 1) 672

by MightyYar (#49112093) Attached to: Bill Nye Disses "Regular" Software Writers' Science Knowledge

in that case why the fuck did you bring up the 97% bollocks.

It wasn't me, it was ncc74656.

And if they are modeling the climate then they are fucking awful at it and should go find another job. The climate scientists should really listen to computer experts and programmers to explain to them why their models are shit!!!!.

So you are asserting that all of the climate scientists are bad at their jobs, and if only some smart people would step up and build some proper models, we'd see just how wrong they are. Interesting. If only there were some smart people who wanted to look into climate science...

Comment: Re:Don't fucking do it. (Score 1) 421

by MightyYar (#49111095) Attached to: What If We Lost the Sky?

The nice thing about us - versus an anthropomorphized "Mother Earth" - is that we don't need to throw a massive amount of volcanic ash into the air in some completely uncontrolled way. We can put some into the air and see what the effect is like. We can gradually increase or decrease the amount applied. We can stop the "eruption" at any time and let the effect quickly dissipate.

I'm not trying to be glib about this - the ideal is to stop throwing CO2 into the air in the first place. But the fatalist approach irks me - we have never been fatalist about what Mother Nature throws at us. She makes droughts, we make reservoirs and food storage. She makes floods, we build dams. Our whole existence is best summed up as one big fight with that wretched bitch.

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