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Take a look at restaurants. You have 4 waiters in a US restaurant vs. 1 in France for the same amount of work, and wages are probably proportionate to that workload. A waiter in France is middle class; I seriously doubt it's the case in the US. Now you may argue that the result is higher unemployment in France, but that's a different question to that of povery (the unemployed are also supported a lot more in France, so don't fall into poverty - at least not quickly).
So you clearly have a choice to have lots of underpaid jobs in the USA. Some arguments can be made that this is good for dynamism, that it gives a first step on the ladder to everybody (including and especially immigrants), and that it helps fight unemployment, but what it does not is help fight poverty, and indeed seems to encourage it. A pliant and cheap underclass is needed to provide all sorts of menial jobs, from WalMart employees to housecleaners, waiters, swimming-pool maintenance jobs, child care, etc...
In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
As to the practical point on policy, is there not data that would allow us to compare the deciles of income between France, Germany, etc., and the US? I think it's a little difficult to anecdotally compare jobs across countries. I think I have a little higher opinion of American waiters and retail employees (WalMart, for example) than you might. I'm sure you know we have some high class restaurants over here where waiters work professionally all their lives. We're not quite as backward as your question implies. :)
Colman said: "it is the system." You chose to take that to mean he was "saying the objective of the American system is to produce an underclass" (your emphasis). Now you have embroidered further on that: "your system and moral principles are created to intentionally create a poor underclass".
Colman can make his meaning clear himself, but I think it's perfectly reasonable to take what he said as meaning simply that poverty in the US is systemic. You may disagree with that, or point out that, in your view, the same could be said of Europe, or, as Migeru suggests, that poverty is globally systemic. But don't tweak people's words out into spurious "quotes" in this way.
And let me say that, when you write: "I could make this point with some crude American jokes about the reason French and Germans have not joined Americans in Iraq--which question their character and motivations...", that you have in fact put that down black on white. In other words, if you want to refrain, just refrain. And no, that kind of thing never wins any debating points.
You haven't been at the Napa wine again, by any chance? :-)
Thanks for your post.
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