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your comment of course ignores the point.  the statement was the objective of the system is to produce an underclass.  Clearly that is not true, as many social programs and policies in place belie that statement.  If you want to argue the policies are inadequate,,,fine.  But is it too much to ask for clarity and logic?  Particularly when the statement as made is false.  <sigh>
by wchurchill on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 05:20:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it is hard to discuss intent, but there are hard facts, like the lack of a serious minimum wage, the absence of health care for the working poor, and the absolute flexibility which puts a lot of workers in precarious positions and thus in the impossibility to negotiate anything with their employer.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 05:42:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But you have just agreed with my point.  To me, there is a huge distinction between saying: "your system and moral principles are created to intentionally create a poor underclass"
and "your policies are deficient in that they are more likely to create a poor underclass".
I don't find this parsing words.  First, the former is IMHO not true in America.  and more pragmatically, if you're closing off debate with 50+% of America, if you say the former.  Questioning people's motives is often a poor approach.  (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, rather than what I believe is a pure disagreement on policy.  But it's not my intention to win a debating point by pissing off many on this site.  But that is what this comment does to a lot of Americans.)  the comment I was challenging was specifically about intent and motivation of Americans.

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. :)

by wchurchill on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 06:39:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"I don't find this parsing words."

Really?

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? :-)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 07:23:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, afew, I must admit you may be right on points 1 and 3, and perhaps 2.  (Sounds like a clean sweep)  I did think that was what Coleman was saying, objective that is, but going back and rereading that is not the only possible interpretation, even though I think that is what he meant.  He may choose to elaborate, and we'll see. I may have to plead to unintentional parsing.  Point 2 was meant to distinguish policy from intention--could have been left unsaid.  Guilty on point 3--heck of a memory you have.

Thanks for your post.

by wchurchill on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 07:42:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Concerning wine, maybe...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 07:52:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
yes, :)
by wchurchill on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 01:43:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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