Socialism vs. social justice 36 replies

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MrFancypants Forum Admin

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#1 8 years ago

[COLOR=Black]Currently there is (yet another) debate in Germany about the laws that govern payment for the long-term unemployed. The political left says that the unemployed do not receive enough money and that they shouldn't be punished for a lack of job opportunities. The political right says that higher unemployment payments would be unfair considering that people who have minimum wage jobs do already not earn significantly more than people who don't work at all. In the words of Westerwelle, current vice chancellor and foreign minister: "Those who work have to have more than those who don't (...) everything else is socialism.".

On the other hand trade unions and the political left claim that a democratic nation has the responsibility of guaranteeing fundamental rights such as human dignity, which includes a social network that provides for the less fortunate. I thought it is interesting how different the atmosphere in Germany and the US seems to be in regard to such matters. Westerwelle, whose speeches sound a lot like those of widely accepted American republicans, has a hard time right now due to criticism from almost all branches of society. While some of his arguments are inflamatory (he talks about parallels between the current German society and decadent Rome) he does have some valid points, yet those points seem to be ignored by his opponents.

Another aspect of German unemployment laws that is being criticized is that long-term unemployment have to accept so called 1-euro jobs (so called because the payment for such jobs is 1 euro per hour in addition to normal unemployment payments) in order to receive their unemployment payment. The left says this is a new type of slavery, the right complains that there are too many loopholes in the system that enable people to receive payment without working.

Recently the constitutional court ruled that the unemployment payments have to be recalculated as they do not take into account that children of unemployed parents need additional money for school books and similar expenses that do not apply to adult unemployed. So apparently unemployment payments have to be increased.

For comparison, a family (2 unemployed parents, 2 children) receives about 1600 euro per month (including various benefits). A family with one working parent receives about 1900 euro per month. Having lived the life of a poor student for a while I can say that 800 euro per month enables a two-person household to lead a quite comfortable life.

So what's more important to you, social justice or a non-socialist society? Or is it possible to have both?

In my opinion it is unfair that a person who works 8-10 hours per day in a supermarket does not earn more than a person who does not work at all. Providing the unemployed with the bare essentials seems like a good idea because there is a significant natural unemployment rate in Germany that proves difficult to reduce, but who gets to decide just how much money is fair in such situations? If the minimum wage coincides with those bare essentials, then how do you manage to provide the bare essentials to the unemployed but keep a motivation for minimum wage workers not to quit? Is the problem perhaps that minium wages are too low (that would be the favorite argument of the leftists) or is it unrealistic to talk about higher minimum wages in times when companies outsource as much work as possible to countries with lower taxes? Also, higher minimum wages will lead to considerably higher unemployment rates, so that doesn't seem to be such a great idea.[/COLOR]




Nemmerle Forum Mod

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#2 8 years ago

It's a zero sum game; you give people more money and the business will demand more money.

People want their goods at a cheap price. In the ancient world we would have used slaves to provide them. Unfortunately this means that either people at the top of society take on the expense - through increasing wages and upping the price of luxury goods to compensate or through taxes - or you have to keep looking for people who will work for that sort of money, (I.E. you export the jobs and or import cheap labour.)

There are only two real ways to manage the problem: You either limit the mobility of things within your economic area so that it's harder to move wealth abroad; or you start directly managing the prices on selected goods yourself.

The former of these options people create some dreadful fallacies about and then apply the law of comparative advantage to... but people aren't so much taught to think about the economy any more when they take business as much as they're taught economism, so that's hardly surprising. The latter, well that way lies the spectre of a managed economy - which is in practice what we've had for the majority of history but I'll overlook that in favour of hissing communism under my breath =p




Admiral Donutz VIP Member

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#3 8 years ago

Well the problem of unemployement money is that you want people to: - be able to afford basic essentials (food, shelter, education, ...) - Encourage people to find a new job (a minimum wage, full time job should earn a more then unemployement money)

It isn't easy, as you want people to be able to live a reasonable live, yet also encourage them to particpate in society (have a job and such). In the Netherlands you will have to actively search for jobs when you become unemployed. If you don't do so (by showing you had X job interviews per week) you wont get a goverment handout. Thus people who reallly can't find a job and aren't to blame for it get money, lazy bums don't get to sit on their arse (and possibily make something extra by performing illegal labour).

Minimum wages are quite obvious, these should allow people to be able to pay for all essentials. Ofcourse, the risk is that employment becomes too expensive and jobs are exported so the mimum wage needs to stay at a reasonable level. What the exact hight for both minimum wage and unemployment money should be may be debatable though.

In case of Germany, using the numbers you provided, I'd say it would be reasonable to give a fmaily of two unemployed + 2 kids family about 1.000 - 1.200 a month (and make them actively search for a job and accept any job they can find), a mimimum wage couple might make 1.800- 2.000 together (800-1.000 a month per person).

This might be too low for singles who are out of a job, they'd have to live of 500 euro's while missing out on the obvious benefits of 2 people sharing a roof.... So you'd need to give singles 600-700 or so to compensate. But let's make things too complicated for the sake f this discussion.




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#4 8 years ago

I don't believe in any such thing as a free lunch. If people want to live they better earn their way. My suggestion would be giving people who are jobless a job, even if you have to make one up. You are already giving them money for doing nothing, might as well give them some work. Give them some shovels and have them manually dig a canal or create a organic farm and put them to work on it, or have them walk down the street and pick up litter. Whatever, just give them a job.

Another alternative is zero-interest loaning. You give them some money for awhile while they search for a job, and then once they find a job they have to pay back whatever they received while unemployed.

Those who do nothing deserve nothing as far as I'm concerned.




Nemmerle Forum Mod

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#5 8 years ago

Do thieves and other criminals then deserve whatever they get?




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#6 8 years ago

Of course not, all they are doing is physically separating people from what they've earned. They don't create anything or add anything, they just forcibly transfer wealth from someone else to themselves without providing any service or product.

I mean if they get away with it, all the more power to them, but of course they should be stopped.

Edit: Though I am amused by the notion that criminals do add to society by creating jobs in the fields of security and law enforcement.




Nemmerle Forum Mod

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#7 8 years ago

Afterburner;5239462Of course not, all they are doing is physically separating people from what they've earned. They don't create anything or add anything, they just forcibly transfer wealth from someone else to themselves without providing any service or product.

I mean if they get away with it, all the more power to them, but of course they should be stopped.

And what is what a person has earned?

If you're going to define it in terms of something they've put effort into acquiring then the criminal has earned his spoils by taking them.

If you're going to say it's something that you have created - either a good or service - then you have not earned the great deal of what is otherwise counted your property.

If you're going to say it is something created and or given you in return for something you have created; which I suspect falls most in line with people's intuitions; then it seems I have not earned anything I have procured by an absence of action.

It is this last one that is of most interest to my earlier question. If I do not break the law it seems I have not earned my liberty. Why then should I refrain from any disobedience given that obedience is taken to have earned me nothing? And if obedience is a service in ensuring the absence of my injustice to others then it seems I have earned some measure of society's care and now it is simply a matter of debating the price.




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#8 8 years ago

Nemmerle;5239472And what is what a person has earned?

If you're going to define it in terms of something they've put effort into acquiring then the criminal has earned his spoils by taking them.

If you're going to say it's something that you have created - either a good or service - then you have not earned the great deal of what is otherwise counted your property.

If you're going to say it is something created and or given you in return for something you have created; which I suspect falls most in line with people's intuitions; then it seems I have not earned anything I have procured by an absence of action.

It is this last one that is of most interest to my earlier question. If I do not break the law it seems I have not earned my liberty. Why then should I refrain from any disobedience given that obedience is taken to have earned me nothing? And if obedience is a service in ensuring the absence of my injustice to others then it seems I have earned some measure of society's care and now it is simply a matter of debating the price.

I'm going to say it's the third of the three situations.

However I don't see refraining from committing a crime as being a service. It's a net zero in terms of gains for your community. You can simplify and abstract it into a math problem.

Performing a service = +1 Doing nothing = 0 Performing a disservice = -1

Those who are above zero earn something. Those below zero also earn something, but in this case it is a punishment. Those who are at 0 are left alone, but do not earn anything. Those who do more get more of whatever they deserve (be it a reward or a punishment.)




MrFancypants Forum Admin

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#9 8 years ago

[COLOR=Black]

Nemmerle;5239472 If you're going to define it in terms of something they've put effort into acquiring then the criminal has earned his spoils by taking them.[/QUOTE] [/COLOR] [COLOR=Black]Only if all sorts of efforts are considered to be equally worthy of a reward and if you assume that you need just as much effort for stealing something as you'd need for acquiring the money to buy it.

Afterburner;5239455I don't believe in any such thing as a free lunch. If people want to live they better earn their way. My suggestion would be giving people who are jobless a job, even if you have to make one up. You are already giving them money for doing nothing, might as well give them some work. Give them some shovels and have them manually dig a canal or create a organic farm and put them to work on it, or have them walk down the street and pick up litter. Whatever, just give them a job.

That is basically what the German government is trying to do. However, due to incredible inefficiency they don't really get it to work and in those cases where it does work it requires more money as input than is reasonalbe in comparison to the output. And obviously this approach isn't very popular with the leftists (who consider such jobs to be exploitation), which do have a considerably impact on policy here.

[QUOTE=Admiral Donutz;5239449] It isn't easy, as you want people to be able to live a reasonable live, yet also encourage them to particpate in society (have a job and such). In the Netherlands you will have to actively search for jobs when you become unemployed. If you don't do so (by showing you had X job interviews per week) you wont get a goverment handout. Thus people who reallly can't find a job and aren't to blame for it get money, lazy bums don't get to sit on their arse (and possibily make something extra by performing illegal labour).

The German reforms were based on this Dutch system, but somewhere along the way they added a ton of bureaucracy so that the whole thing doesn't really have much of an impact on the unemployment situation.

[/COLOR]




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#10 8 years ago

Afterburner;5239476I'm going to say it's the third of the three situations.

However I don't see refraining from committing a crime as being a service. It's a net zero in terms of gains for your community. You can simplify and abstract it into a math problem.

Performing a service = +1 Doing nothing = 0 Performing a disservice = -1

Those who are above zero earn something. Those below zero also earn something, but in this case it is a punishment. Those who are at 0 are left alone, but do not earn anything. Those who do more get more of whatever they deserve (be it a reward or a punishment.)

That's just the distinction between a negative right, a punishment that must be inflicted; and a positive right, a reward that must be offered. Since you have earned nothing however, while I am not obligated, to inflict a suffering on you there seems no reason for me not to.