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Flint



Posts: 478
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,06:17   

Stephen Elliott:

Quote
As far as I can tell the only thing causing these people to underperform was the way they CHOSE to live life.

But life choices arise from socialization. I think you are saying that misguided efforts to lend aid both constituted an incentive not to achieve (paying people not to work, regardless of motive, produces less work. I confidently expect that this economic truism will convinced Dean that I'm a bigot!;)), and underscored the "you can't make it on your own" orientation increasingly taken as "truth" by everyone.

I had a pretty good friend at one time who was unemployed and collecting welfare. At the time, welfare was paying him about 80% of what a minimum-wage job would pay. His question was, "Why should I spend 40 hours a week making a net 50 cents a hour?" I argued that if he worked hard and did well, he'd be given merit raises, perhaps promotions, and work his way into some real money. He pointed out that for blacks, this *does not happen*, except infrequently and under duress. And he was quite right.

You can choose to take welfare or work for minimum wage. You can choose to be dedicated, work hard, and buy into the system. You can NOT choose to be rewarded appropriately by those in a position to do so, if THEY do not choose to cooperate. And here Dean is right: unless some bureaucrat (at considerable public expense) MAKES them cooperate, they don't do it. There is no reward for doing it, and there are dangers involved.

  
Dean Morrison



Posts: 216
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,06:47   

Flint - either you are quite inscrutable to me, or I have real big problems understanding you.

Or you want to waste time speculating on why African Americans don't (on the whole) seem to benefit from your 'free market thinking' to the same extent as other groups in the US.

Persisting in calling Black entry into your country 'immigration' on a par with voluntary immigration by Europeans overlooks the one huge fact that ought to be staring you in the face.
Pretending that discrimination against Black people ended with the abolition of slavery misses another fact.

A lot of Black Americans did escape the South - but it seems that a lot are still there:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki....lations

Why do you think that is?

Even debating the possiblity with Paley that differences in economic performance could be due to 'IQ' is the beginning of a slippery slope for you my friend.

Your society needs to address this festering wound at its heart and do something about it. If you don't like 'Affirmative Action' and can't make it work - then what are you going to do?
How about proposing massive investment in the education and welfare of all the citizens of your country?

Of course you won't do that because it might interfere with the blessed 'free market'. Tax cuts for the mega rich are a much more pressing priority for Mr Bush.

Incidentally Steve - I'm not a fan of 'Affirmative 'Action myself - it can create other injustices; and is a solution 'on the cheap'. But I don't think you can compare the situation with the UK. The rigorous application of 'Equal opportunities' (despite the bleatings of the right wing press) seems to have the support of most people here on the grounds of simple 'fairness'. It doesn't seek to ignore racial differences, and in fact British citizens are asked to identify their racial origins at every turn of life so that institutional racism can be identified.
There may be instances where stronger action needs to be taken to ensure 'fair play' - such as challenging the admission policies of Oxbridge - or the gender imbalance in the House of Commons for example. These could be described as 'positive action for fairness' but we generally tend to steer clear of 'quota -driven' and simplistic policies such as 'Affirmative action' as practised in the States.
However despite our previous involvement in starting the whole evil trade - we were the first country to fight against the slave trade, and we don't have the same history of slavery in this country (although I won't deny we were responsible for introducing it to the Caribbean, and presumbably the 'Colonies' in the first place).
We're far from perfect - but the general consensus here is that everyone deserves a fair chance to get the most out of life.
Paley can happily rationalise why certain 'ethnic groups' should be treated differently.

I'll accept Flint's assurance that he believes no such thing - but I would point out that 'economic liberalism' and academic discussion that the 'subject needs further investigation'; is simply a recipe for inaction.

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,06:47   

Quote
He pointed out that for blacks, this *does not happen*, except infrequently and under duress. And he was quite right.


How did you both come to that conclusion?

Not to denigrate your friend but as a generalisation, people who say such things tend to not work hard anyway.

Sir_T.J. has experience of working with blacks at the University level. So they are obviously succeeding.

I have worked very closely with the US military in the past and they have blacks of all ranks.

I seriously doubt any biological differences between races play the most significant part in individual performance levels.

Back to the estate I mentioned in Wigan. Parents there tended to be on welfare and have low expectations for their children. They tended to take little interest in their young ones education. The children would tend to have low aspiration.

The estate had higher instances of vandalism and other anti-social behaviour than other areas around them.

Yet people on that estate had the same access to education and other services as anyone in Wigan. Discrimination on racial grounds is not an issue here.

Somehow a culture had developed that hindered them.

I am generalising, a few rose above it.

  
Flint



Posts: 478
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,08:11   

Dean:

OK, I'll start with you.

Quote
you want to waste time speculating on why African Americans don't (on the whole) seem to benefit from your 'free market thinking' to the same extent as other groups in the US.

No. I'm trying to understand (1) Why blacks have not rebounded from the very real discriminatory laws they suffered under for so long; and (2) Why very sincere, very expensive good-faith efforts to effect such a rebound have had such a lousy record of success.

Quote
Persisting in calling Black entry into your country 'immigration' on a par with voluntary immigration by Europeans overlooks the one huge fact that ought to be staring you in the face.

Again, you misunderstand. These other groups, different as they may be for any number of reasons, are nonetheless the only basis we have for comparison. I presume you are arguing that their various circumstances have simply been too dissimilar to tell us anything useful. You may be right. I may be searching for patterns where there are none.

Quote
Pretending that discrimination against Black people ended with the abolition of slavery misses another fact.

Since I have never said such a thing, and in fact said *repeatedly* that very real discrimination continues in force, I don't know how you find any "pretense." This statement is either dishonest or stupid. You can pick either one. AND you can apologize.

Quote
Even debating the possiblity with Paley that differences in economic performance could be due to 'IQ' is the beginning of a slippery slope for you my friend.

Slippery slope to what? My goal here is to examine *every possible reason* for this difference. Apparently you have roped off one particular difference, despite a century of indirect evidence in strong support, as simply not to be considered. Your "let's not look at what we don't wish to notice" attitude is good hearted, I'm sure, but brainless. You just can't seem to see a difference between pretending something doesn't exist, and studying it to determine how much (if any) a contribution it may be.

My own conclusion, tentative and subject to change, is that there ARE some biological differences, but they are WAY lost in the noise of socialization factors.

Quote
Of course you won't do that because it might interfere with the blessed 'free market'. Tax cuts for the mega rich are a much more pressing priority for Mr Bush.

How is this even remotely on topic? I spend post after post after post talking about the nature-nurture debate, about IQ testing, about history, and suddenly you start talking about Bush and taxes. Please, take irrelevancies to another thread.

Quote
We're far from perfect - but the general consensus here is that everyone deserves a fair chance to get the most out of life. Paley can happily rationalise why certain 'ethnic groups' should be treated differently.

Your platitudes are wonderful, but the practice is unfortunately a lot harder. Yes, we want no unfairness, we want everyone to maximize their personal potential, we want no racial discrimination per se, we want everyone to have an equal chance to run the race. The problem is, what should we do when we discover that one group of people invariably finishes well behind everyone else?

Sure, we can take your attitude (indeed, we HAVE taken that attitude) that this difference in performance must be due to circumstances beyond their control. They don't CHOOSE to be descendents of slaves, or to be discriminated against in law and practice. It's not (at least proximately) their doing that the society they live in provides strong disincentives to achieve anything. How much blame should we attach if the disincentives of discrimination have a social effect?

And so we can attempt to change circumstances so they don't present any barriers or handicaps. But we also need to monitor our efforts closely, because we know what the road to, uh, heck is paved with. If our efforts are counterproductive, we need to recognize this and stop doing it. I'm certainly not recommending inaction. I DO reject the idea that we should make circumstances even worse on the grounds that we need to DO something, and we WANT our actions to work. Wanting, even wanting real real hard, so far hasn't worked very well.

Stephen Elliott:

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How did you both come to that conclusion?

Personal observation. It's not just that the executives are all white and the peons are all black. The unskilled laborers are all black *except* the foreman, who is white. ALL the janitors are black except the head janitor, who is white. Surely you are familiar with "tokenism"? Blacks face the same sort of ceiling as women - only the truly outstanding individuals get the recognition granted to *adequate* white males.

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Not to denigrate your friend but as a generalisation, people who say such things tend to not work hard anyway.

Permit me to laugh. People who work very hard, follow all the procedures, cut no corners, and STILL get no rewards, eventually don't work so hard. "Well, he's doing pretty well for a black, he's certainly risen above his station, no need to promote him any further, it will cause our deserving (read: white) employees to think we are discriminating!

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Sir_T.J. has experience of working with blacks at the University level. So they are obviously succeeding.

Chuckle. First, you complain about generalization. The very next sentence, you refer to "they", which just happens to refer to one in a thousand. Hello? I work with a black engineer, and he is excellent. Of course, I live in Alabama, the local college turns out hundreds of black engineers a year, my division employs 50 engineers, and one of them is black. He's very good. He also manages people and projects pretty well, and has expressed a desire to become a manager. After 18 years, he's still waiting.

Quote
I have worked very closely with the US military in the past and they have blacks of all ranks.

This is a good point. In the military, color-blindness is rigidly enforced, everyone starts at the bottom (of their enlisted or officer tracks), merit is assessed as objectively as you'll find anywhere. And you're right: blacks and whites compete on equal terms; there are no visible inherent differences at all. As far as I'm concerned, the military experience shows as well as anything could that we're not talking about heriditary stupidity here. Which implies that whatever IQ tests are truly measuring, little if any of it is biological.

Quote
Back to the estate I mentioned in Wigan. Parents there tended to be on welfare and have low expectations for their children. They tended to take little interest in their young ones education. The children would tend to have low aspiration.

Understood. And I should point out that within Asian and Jewish families, expectations tend to be high and parental oversight of education tends to be close and responsible. So culture matters a great deal. The question remains: what is the most effective way to alter a toxic culture?

  
sir_toejam



Posts: 846
Joined: April 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,08:28   

I know i said I wasn't going to participate further, but when I see something i said being used for such gross overgeneralizations, i must protest.  Not ignoring Flint already addressed this, since i posted it, I feel the need to respond as well.

Quote
Sir_T.J. has experience of working with blacks at the University level. So they are obviously succeeding.


now, now, Stephen.  didn't I say in the same post it isn't productive to overgeneralize?

don't you think making pronouncements about the success/failure of an entire socio-economic group based on the personal experiences of 1 or even dare I say 2, people is a bit of an overgeneralization?

It's like saying because you found someone from Afghanistan who was the CEO of a successful american company, there is nothing wrong with the economic situation in Afghanistan.

If you want to overgeneralize, at least use some statistics to back you up.

I'm sure they're out there.

Please don't miss the forest for the trees, here.  My point was about making gross generalizations based on personal experience, not just that my personal experiences conflicted with those stated by Flint.

thanks

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,08:37   

Flint,
The reason I used the word "they" is because the discussion was specifically about the problems the black community as a whole seem to suffer from.

Reading back on my post it does sound hostile. It is not the way it was intended. I should have proof read it.

My life experiences are probably very different to yours. I have never been in an environment that you describe. ie. All the workers are black except the foreman.

That is, apart from Arizona border country. Where all the menial jobs seemed to get done by Mexican day-pass (?) workers. They would cross over the border in the morning, work all day, then back home to Mexico in the evening.

Anyway, in my experience of working with people. All races seem to provide a similar spectrum of ability.

I have an idea that if someones expectations are low, that is how things will generally turn out.

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,08:43   

S_TJ,

That was badly written on my part. I wasn't overgeneralising.

Remove "they" and insert "those individuals" and it resembles what I intended better.

I was specifically refering to only those people you are working with as being successfull.

  
Flint



Posts: 478
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,08:46   

Stephen Elliott:

Quote
Anyway, in my experience of working with people. All races seem to provide a similar spectrum of ability.

That's what so exasperating here. My experience is much the same. As ST and I have pointed out, those blacks doing any particular job, seem as qualified as anyone else doing that job, whether it be soldiering, engineering, university student, whatever. Yet blacks are WAY underrepresented in the better paying jobs, and OVER represented in the menial labor jobs. What is causing this?

Quote
I have an idea that if someones expectations are low, that is how things will generally turn out.

This is doubly true. If you have low expectations of yourself, this is how you turn out. If everyone you work for, everywhere you work, has low expectations of you, this is ALSO how you turn out. Even if you are self-employed (and the US has a program to promote and give special compensations to minority-owned small businesses), you struggle if your potential customers have low expectations of you. This tends to limit black-owned businesses (there are exceptions) to serving the black community. Where there is very little money (except for drug dealers).

  
sir_toejam



Posts: 846
Joined: April 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,09:44   

Quote
That was badly written on my part. I wasn't overgeneralising.


fair enough.  I think i may have overreacted.  Hence why i don't like getting involved in these kinds of discussions in the first place.

;)

  
gregonomic



Posts: 44
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,10:57   

Flint.

Obviously you're asking the wrong people for the answers to your questions. Perhaps you should be asking African Americans for their views?

One possibility that hasn't been proposed yet (and again, I'm only theorising) is that the failure of African Americans to rise out of poverty is that they are protesting against the system. For many, the only career path is to spend their whole life in a minimum-wage, service-industry job, helping to grease the wheels of progress, without actually reaping many of the rewards. How much different is that from actual slavery? Who could blame anyone for not wanting to play that game?

I've only lived in the USA for a few months, but two of the saddest aspects of African American culture for me are:

1. The fact that African Americans should be immensely proud of the contributions they have made to American/global culture - they basically invented most of the major musical styles to arise this century (blues, jazz, soul, r&b, rap/hip-hop), they've made some of the most powerful movies, and they dominate professional and amateur sports - and yet there doesn't seem to be much celebration of those achievements.

2. The degree to which Christianity has pervaded African American culture. After all the crap white America has flung at African Americans, why is it that stuff that has stuck?

Anyways, now I'm over-generalising.

Happy Martin Luther King Day, everyone.

  
Flint



Posts: 478
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,11:12   

gregonomic:

Quote
For many, the only career path is to spend their whole life in a minimum-wage, service-industry job, helping to grease the wheels of progress, without actually reaping many of the rewards.

If this is really the case, I'd probably give up also. But the sheer number of exceptions to this pattern indicates that more opportunities are out there. My outsider's gut feeling is genuine merit is recognized, although for blacks perhaps it takes more merit per unit of reward.

Quote
and yet there doesn't seem to be much celebration of those achievements.

Celebration is perhaps hard to quantify. Just how much does my own standard of living improve knowing that people who resemble me have done great things?

As for achievement in sports, my reading is that this HAS had a profound effect in the inner city, where taking education seriously is frowned upon by the community, but being able to sink 25-foot jump shots commands real respect. Problem is, nearly anyone who gets a decent education can make a decent living, but only one in a thousand (or less) can make it as a professional athlete.

I think you're right, the questions I have need input from someone with direct life experiences I could never have. Perhaps I should quit my day job and become a sociologist?

  
Dean Morrison



Posts: 216
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,12:24   

Hi Flint -

I don't for one minute think that you're a racist - and I apologise if I have been stupid enough to taint you with that offensive label.

I do think that 'economic liberals' like yourself seem anxious to put the blame for poverty on the poor. There is a racial and historical element in your history that compounds  the inequalities between rich and poor - yet rather than address this you'd rather go and look for other explanations and make irrelevant comparisons to other groups:


Quote
Persisting in calling Black entry into your country 'immigration' on a par with voluntary immigration by Europeans overlooks the one huge fact that ought to be staring you in the face.


“Again, you misunderstand. These other groups, different as they may be for any number of reasons, are nonetheless the only basis we have for comparison. I presume you are arguing that their various circumstances have simply been too dissimilar to tell us anything useful. You may be right. I may be searching for patterns where there are none.”

Later you go on to say:

“Your "let's not look at what we don't wish to notice" attitude is good hearted, I'm sure, but brainless.”

I think that you can be accused of the same thing.

I have not said that there are self-destructive tendancies in any group that is at the bottom of the pile - we call it the 'cycle of deprivation' here - as Steve pointed out the phenomenom is well-known in the UK. These need to be addressed at the same time  positive action is taken to help this group.
(In case Paley is getting too smug at our disagreements I'd like to point out that: the widespread acceptance of the fatalistic Christian religion amongst Afro-Americans, which promises it's rewards in the next life; should bear some of the blame).

  
Dean Morrison



Posts: 216
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,12:43   

Quote
Pretending that discrimination against Black people ended with the abolition of slavery misses another fact.


“Since I have never said such a thing, and in fact said *repeatedly* that very real discrimination continues in force, I don't know how you find any "pretense." This statement is either dishonest or stupid. You can pick either one. AND you can apologize.”

“And so in no more than two generations, the various waves of spics, dagos, wops, kikes, micks, krauts, frogs and their ilk were indistinguishable from, you know, actual real people. But this has never really been true of either the Africans nor the Asians. An accident of biology, despite the occasional (and often spectacularly attractive) exception. And I mention all of this to counter the fairly commonly proposed notion that biologically visible differentness explains rejection of African-Americans, which explains their social and economic difficulties, which explains their bottom-of-the-barrel status despite having been freed 150 years back.”

- It is this latter statement that had me confused Flint? Three statements in one. You say that you are 'countering the notion' - but which notion? Just 'biological visible difference' perhaps? In which case what else explains 'their social and economic difficulties, which explains their bottom-of-the-barrel status despite having been freed 150 years back.

Perhaps I was unfair and misinterpreted you - and to be fair to you are having to reply to a number of others at the same time. I don't think I was either dishonest or stupid.
If you really think that the history of slavery and continuing discrimination to the present day are major factors in limiting the social advancement of black people in your country - then I have misunderstood you and apologise.
If so I can agree with you that this history has helped the development of  a self-destructive culture which only compounds the misery - I'd consider this to be an effect rather than a primary cause though.

  
Dean Morrison



Posts: 216
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,12:54   

“What bothers me is, IF you are right that it takes more than 2 generations to bounce back from adversity, why have all of the other immigration waves done so as easily as they have? ALL of them faced severe discrimination, most of them didn't speak the language, most of them were dirt poor, few of them had any formal education, and at least in the case of the Jews, discrimination remains virulent.

So as I tried to argue with ericmurphy, it's not sufficient to simply opine that 2 generations aren't enough for blacks, blithely ignoring the fact that it HAS been enough for *every other group*, despite explicit social handicaps. And this despite the fact that blacks have been the recipients of a long and growing history of targeted social handouts the other groups never enjoyed (including welfare, affirmative action, various child care programs, and so on. While these programs have failed to have the desired effect, they DID transfer a whole lot of wealth).”



Quote
Of course you won't do that because it might interfere with the blessed 'free market'. Tax cuts for the mega rich are a much more pressing priority for Mr Bush.


How is this even remotely on topic? I spend post after post after post talking about the nature-nurture debate, about IQ testing, about history, and suddenly you start talking about Bush and taxes. Please, take irrelevancies to another thread.

I think although economic liberals don't care for racism - they don't want to spend any money on claearing up the mess. People should 'pull themselves up by their own bootstraps'.

I'm interested to know how much this 'whole lot of wealth' was that was transferred? and how it stacks up in comparison to say, Gearge Bush's recent tax cuts. How is this 'off-topic'?

  
gregonomic



Posts: 44
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,12:59   

Flint wrote:

Quote
Just how much does my own standard of living improve knowing that people who resemble me have done great things?


Point taken.

Quote
As for achievement in sports, my reading is that this HAS had a profound effect in the inner city, where taking education seriously is frowned upon by the community, but being able to sink 25-foot jump shots commands real respect.


Maybe for the reasons you've already discussed. If it's hard for African Americans to "make it" by conventional means, sports provide very visible examples of African Americans who have done so. Maybe the probability is lower of actually succeeding via this route, but the dream is alluring, no matter what your skin colour is.

Quote
Perhaps I should quit my day job and become a sociologist?


Well, you certainly seem sufficiently interested in, and concerned about, the issue. But I can't help thinking that someone somewhere has already ask the relevant people the relevant questions?

  
Dean Morrison



Posts: 216
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,13:03   

“My outsider's gut feeling is genuine merit is recognized, although for blacks perhaps it takes more merit per unit of reward.”

“Problem is, nearly anyone who gets a decent education can make a decent living, but only one in a thousand (or less) can make it as a professional athlete.”

“Sure, we can take your attitude (indeed, we HAVE taken that attitude) that this difference in performance must be due to circumstances beyond their control. They don't CHOOSE to be descendents of slaves, or to be discriminated against in law and practice. It's not (at least proximately) their doing that the society they live in provides strong disincentives to achieve anything. How much blame should we attach if the disincentives of discrimination have a social effect?”

“And so we can attempt to change circumstances so they don't present any barriers or handicaps. But we also need to monitor our efforts closely, because we know what the road to, uh, heck is paved with. If our efforts are counterproductive, we need to recognize this and stop doing it. I'm certainly not recommending inaction. I DO reject the idea that we should make circumstances even worse on the grounds that we need to DO something, and we WANT our actions to work. Wanting, even wanting real real hard, so far hasn't worked very well.”


- Finally some statements we both agree on (although even  someone with a 'decent education' can face barriers not faced by someone whose 'face fits' - even here)

So supposing we agree there is a problem:

What do you propose Flint?

- scrapping Affirmative Action?

- ending welfare and  the other programs you mentioned?

Okay what next?

  
Flint



Posts: 478
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,13:29   

Dean,

I think we're mostly on the same wavelength here. There are a lot of variables.

Quote
I do think that 'economic liberals' like yourself seem anxious to put the blame for poverty on the poor.

I respectfully suggest you have tagged me with a label which means something to you, which you then assume is true of me because of your label. But the fact is that 90% of the individuals comprising the poorest 20% of the US population ARE different after 5 years. So while "the poor" always exist, the particular individuals who make up "the poor" have a surprisingly rapid turnover. And to me, this implies that poverty is something suffered by an individual and not generically by a group. Rising out of poverty just isn't that hard, it just takes determination. Have you ever been among the poor? I certainly have. I've spent time homeless, living on the street. I got through that, so I know it can be done.

(And I much fear that if Big Brother had given me just enough money to get by and get nowhere, I'd have gratefully accepted the money and gone nowhere.)

Quote
I think that you can be accused of the same thing.

Perhaps you're right. I don't know. Maybe we are making the error of lumping together into (by implication) homogeneous groups, disparate collections of people not particularly similar in the respects we're addressing. As expressed by the observation that within-group differences way exceed between-group differences. It may be that poor blacks have a good deal more in common sociologically with poor Jews, than they do with rich blacks.

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If you really think that the history of slavery and continuing discrimination to the present day are major factors in limiting the social advancement of black people in your country

Yes, I do really think that. But I also tried to point out that other identifiable cultural groups (immigrant waves) have faced at least somewhat analogous circumstances yet escaped them with relative ease. In any case, I think you hit on the key difference that I missed: that freed slaves were explicitly, legally declared inferior and their group sociology molded by this condition, for a century following emancipation. After that long a period of time, attitudes are pretty well ossified on the part of *everyone involved*, every American of any description. Very very hard to overcome that. And 100 years of legally enforced inferiority is something no other group had to face in any way.

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What do you propose Flint?

Sigh. I wish I knew. My training tells me that a combination of incentives and disincentives should work, but my sense of fairness tells me these should be applied equally to everyone. I think we're looking at a community or cultural problem here. Failure to reward effort seems neither more nor less corrosive than rewards divorced from achievement. I was amused to learn that in the civil service, it's a standing joke that if you're a black WAC with an hispanic surname and a wooden leg, you can have any job in the entire bureaucracy just for the asking. You count toward FIVE quotas at once. No competence required at anything.

As always (and just as with creationism), I think the 'cycle of deprivation' starts at home. Asians and Jews (and others) overachieve mostly because high achievement is demanded and expected of them right from birth. In the American black community, social policies (all well-intentioned, of course) could hardly have been worse:
1) Effectively a bonus (bounty) was paid for each illegitimate child a woman could bear.
2) BUT, only to single parents, meaning marriage erased the money.
The result, surprise surprise, was a LOT of young, single mothers. Who had to work, so the children were raised by the street gangs.

Interestingly, quite a few rather cross-disciplinary studies have finally tracked down why violent crime fell by fully 50% in the US during the 1990s. It's because in the mid 1970s abortion was legalized! The gang-member cohort was aborted instead, a win-win for everyone. Even though our social policies were STILL purchasing unwanted single motherhood.

So there's an example of a disincentive. I think as a policy, we should provide free abortions in inner cities.

(And somewhat along all these lines: The immigrant waves, I have read, lived in conditions of TRIPLE the people/room density of todays black ghettos, and they got NO welfare, and those who starved (quite a few) were simply left in the street. The incentive to get out of those circumstances was extreme.)

gregonomic:

Quote
I can't help thinking that someone somewhere has already ask the relevant people the relevant questions?

Well, everyone grinds an axe. And it's true to some extent that what's happening to you is hard to see if your nose is pressed too close against it. And what it SEEMS like to you may be misleading. I wish I had the time to study everything I find interesting, though. So little time, so much to learn...

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,13:44   

Although I strongly believe in social security (hardly anyone does not in the UK). It can become a trap if it is not administered well.

Over here people can actually be worse off if they take a job. Now that is crazy.

Welfare should be a safety net, never a viable lifestyle choice.

  
Flint



Posts: 478
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,13:54   

Quote
Over here people can actually be worse off if they take a job. Now that is crazy.

Crazy perhaps, but essentially unavoidable. Let's say I pay you $X in social security. Now let's say you get bored and decide to return to work. Should I take the money away from you? Or perhaps should I subtract from what I was paying you, the amount your job brings in? Or perhaps I shouldn't reduce the amount at all, and allow you to supplement it as much as you can?

The same problems arise no matter what. If social security is paid to everyone, then a LOT of my tax dollars go to subsidize people who need the money FAR less than I do. But if we start means-testing for social security, the bureaucratic overhead becomes enormous. And the incentive structure changes a good bit too. I have the option of putting money into savings or spending it as fast as I get it. If the more I save, the more I will be penalized by "means testing" later, why should I try to save? I'll just lose the money.

Social security has also had profound effects on family structure. We need no longer care for our elderly parents; the State does that. Safety nets, like it or not, encourage people to take more risks than they should.

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,13:58   

I don't think it unavoidable.

Why not let people only lose 50p/50c in benefit for every £1/$1 earned.

  
ericmurphy



Posts: 2460
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,14:25   

Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Jan. 16 2006,12<!--emo&:0)
I believe directed welfare and affirmative action can be counter-productive.


Yep. They sure can. But I believe they can also be helpful, and sometimes necessary. And I think it's disingenuous to bail on an experiment after 40 years that isn't likely to show results for at least several generations.

Quote
You are basically saying "these people can't compete".


I'm not saying these people can't compete. I'm saying they're still subjected to enormous levels of racial prejudice, far beyond anything Jews or Asians or even Hispanics are subject to, and you've got to level the playing field somehow.

Quote
For a short while I lived on a council estate in the UK (Ince in Wigan, Lancashire). This was almost entirely white. The culture there was to leave school and spend the rest of their life on welfare.
Not everybody of course, but it was the mainstream.

As far as I can tell the only thing causing these people to underperform was the way they CHOSE to live life.



Obviously just handing people a check every month is not going to persuade them of the need to get a job somewhere. But removing the incentive to work by penalizing welfare recipients when they actually do get jobs has got to be the worst of all possible worlds. Who came up with that idea. Was it someone who wanted the program to fail?

--------------
2006 MVD award for most dogged defense of scientific sanity

"Atheism is a religion the same way NOT collecting stamps is a hobby." —Scott Adams

  
Flint



Posts: 478
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,14:40   

ericmurphy:

Quote
Yep. They sure can. But I believe they can also be helpful

Now, stop and think about this for a moment. How can you be sure (which you say you are) that welfare and affirmative action can be counterproductive, unless they manifestly HAVE been counterproductive.

Which raises an uncomfortable question: Why do we need to wait more than 40 years to see the beneficial effects, of something even you can see the harmful effects from in far less time? Could it be that the harmful effects are a matter of evidence, and the "some day" beneficial effects are a matter of faith?

Quote
I'm saying they're still subjected to enormous levels of racial prejudice, far beyond anything Jews or Asians or even Hispanics are subject to

But why? Not many people are still alive today who even remember Brown v. Board, and none of those people are in power. You would think that given the intervening 50 years and the hugely expensive social programs, we'd see a LOT more improvement than we have. Something isn't working here...

Quote
Obviously just handing people a check every month is not going to persuade them of the need to get a job somewhere.

It persuads them that (1)they don't NEED to get a job somewhere; and (2) if they DO get a job, they'll lose the dole money, and (3) they are perhaps being paid to stay out of the workforce because they are not wanted.

Quote
But removing the incentive to work by penalizing welfare recipients when they actually do get jobs has got to be the worst of all possible worlds. Who came up with that idea. Was it someone who wanted the program to fail?

No, you have it backwards. IF you pay someone NOT to work, then you have two choices if they DO work anyway. First, you can continue the welfare payments, thus way overpaying them relative to standing-start competitors; or (2) you can stop paying them, which (as you say) penalizes them for working. But I can assure you, if the decision is made to pay certain people twice, once for NOT working and again FOR working, you aren't going to be very popular. Nobody pays ME not to work, over and above my wages for working.

Now, maybe we can have a sort of "weaning period" where we pay the ex-welfare recipient less and less, rather than yanking away all his dole at one time? This would provide at least a temporary very real bonus for going to work. And maybe we could freeze the dole wherever it is in the process of shrinking if the person should quit. This would provide an incentive to STAY employed.

But no matter how you cut it, paying someone not to work buys people not working. And once you've started down that path, you have very few good options for recovery. Perhaps the best option is to say "OK, now we are going to reduce your welfare income by $X per week until it reaches zero, *whether or not* you get a job. If you choose school instead, the payments will continue while you're in school."

  
Dean Morrison



Posts: 216
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,14:47   

I think you've hit on a key point Steve - marginal rates of taxation for people on welfare are often 95-100% -(sometimes  bizarrely even more -I'm in this postion now - I'm unemployed - my mortage is paid for by a policy I paid for to cover the eventuality of redundancy -if I took a low paid job then I'd lose these payment and my house.
I have to be patient until a well-enough paid job comes along in my specialised field).

I used to run compulsory employment and training schemes for unemployed people - they ranged from the truly feckless, and drug dealers with alternate income sources: to willing people that had been let down by the education system, and people that had just had bad luck in life and wanted to get back on their feet.

We helped a lot of people develop new skills and get jobs - develop self-esteem and motivation - I see many of these people everyday and they are grateful for the help we gave them.

But for this to work it costs money - and there have to be opportunities for people to go to. In a lot of cases if more attention had been paid to these people at school or even younger - we wouldn't have been left to pick up the pieces.

Carrot and stick is needed - pressure people to work by all means - but you are leading them up the garden path if you aren't going to try to make sure that doors are open and opportunities are there.

Affirmative action may have been a cack-handed atempt to do this - but I'm sure it has it's successes. Maybe it's time to modify it and move towards 'positive action' rather than 'positive discrimination'. Seriously investing in education in all 'deprived areas' and planning to increase University places for the high school graduates of the future would be a start.
I don't see Bush's 'no child left benind' slogan as being much more than empty rhetoric if he's not prepared to put the tax dollars in. A sound investment for your country I would have thought. Now what a bout reversing those tax cuts?

Having got to a position of relative harmony I shall gracefully withdraw to the 'English Garden Party' where you are most welcome to be my guest Flint. IYou'll have to show us how you whip up those newfangled cocktails of yours but I'm sure you'll be a hit with the ladies..

Toodle -pip old chap!! ;)

  
MidnightVoice



Posts: 380
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 17 2006,03:10   

I pretty much agree with DM here.  Much of the right wing rhetoric about lazy and useless welfare recipients presupposes a level playing field for everyone, and that as #### ain't so.

--------------
If I fly the coop some time
And take nothing but a grip
With the few good books that really count
It's a necessary trip

I'll be gone with the girl in the gold silk jacket
The girl with the pearl-driller's hands

  
Flint



Posts: 478
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 17 2006,03:33   

MidnightVoice:

Quote
Much of the right wing rhetoric about lazy and useless welfare recipients presupposes a level playing field

Rather than level/not level, we might more profitably consider the gradient. After all, nearly ANY 'minority' individual faces an uphill battle. In much of the business world, blacks are doing better than women. To carry this more-or-less to the limit, study after study shows that all else being equal, taller men do better than shorter men and attractive people do better than plain people. Thinner people outperform heavier people. The playing field is never level.

So perhaps in implying that blacks are lazy and women lack the ability, what we're really saying is that the slope they must climb is simply too steep for the majority of these people to negotiate. Short/fat/ugly/non-Christian (and so on) people also face a climb, but not so steep.

What interests me is the feedback effect. Which groups, faced with nearly insurmountable obstacles, give up and (justifiably) claim discrimination, and which groups roll up their sleeves and redouble their efforts? In both cases, a feedback effect is clearly operating. Which means perhaps an assumption of a level playing field is not being made, but rather an observation of how different people respond to a field tilted against them.

A great many different, partially-independent factors are operating here, and something bothers me about pointing to a single villain and then complacently believing we've identifed "the problem".

  
MidnightVoice



Posts: 380
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 17 2006,03:54   

By the way, I apologize for the ####, it was meant to be "just" and I am not sure what I typed  :D

--------------
If I fly the coop some time
And take nothing but a grip
With the few good books that really count
It's a necessary trip

I'll be gone with the girl in the gold silk jacket
The girl with the pearl-driller's hands

  
The Ghost of Paley



Posts: 1703
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 17 2006,09:35   

Flint wrote:
Quote
Rather than level/not level, we might more profitably consider the gradient. After all, nearly ANY 'minority' individual faces an uphill battle. In much of the business world, blacks are doing better than women. To carry this more-or-less to the limit, study after study shows that all else being equal, taller men do better than shorter men and attractive people do better than plain people. Thinner people outperform heavier people. The playing field is never level.

True enough, and few reasonable people would deny that blacks still face discrimination. But the next part puzzles me:
Quote
What interests me is the feedback effect. Which groups, faced with nearly insurmountable obstacles, give up and (justifiably) claim discrimination, and which groups roll up their sleeves and redouble their efforts? In both cases, a feedback effect is clearly operating. Which means perhaps an assumption of a level playing field is not being made, but rather an observation of how different people respond to a field tilted against them.

Insurmountable obstacles? Care to back this up with noncircular reasoning (i.e. "Blacks underperform because they face severe roadblocks. How do discern these obstacles? By noting black underperformance!") And what power renders these obstacles inoperative in government, sports, and entertainment? "Why yes, I watch black actors, listen to black musicians, and pay good money to attend black-dominated sporting events! Heck, I'll even allow my children to date blacks. But I'll be $%#-%^$# if I let black-designed software enter this household! That, suh, is too much to bear! In order to prevent this from happening, in fact, I think I'll set up lots of minority colleges, scholarships, corporate recruitment programs, and even burden black folk with preferential access to America's top schools! And to really drive the point home, I'll give black-owned businesses first crack at guvment contracts! And set up taxpayer-funded watchdog agencies to monitor private companies! Now that oughtta show them people who's boss!"

The Yenta wrote:
Quote
A lot of Black Americans did escape the South - but it seems that a lot are still there:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki....lations

Why do you think that is?

Oh my goodness - now Whitey has created a sinister force field that prevents black-driven U-Hauls from traveling north! Mr. Klansman, tear down this wall!!

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Dey can't 'andle my riddim.

  
Dean Morrison



Posts: 216
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 17 2006,09:50   

I'd suggest poverty and safety in numbers old Ghostey.

If I thought there was a level playing field in your mind I'd think you were worth talking to.

As you know what your postion is on racial matters - I don't see the point.

  
Flint



Posts: 478
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 17 2006,10:18   

Ghost:

Quote
Insurmountable obstacles? Care to back this up with noncircular reasoning

Are you serious here? The Jim Crow laws were very real, lasted for a century. Are you now going to argue that these had no effects on the community they were designed to keep as an underclass?

Alternatively, you just stated "few reasonable people would deny that blacks still face discrimination." So you recognize that discrimination is there. Are you attempting to quantify its intensity? I think a rough quantification could be determined from quite a wide variety of sources, in real life. How would this be circular?

Quote
And what power renders these obstacles inoperative in government, sports, and entertainment?

This is actually three separate questions, and their answers are informative. In government (and in the military), it's by administrative fiat. Quotas have been set up within the Federal bureaucracy requiring specified percentages of minority employees, of minority promotions, of minority managers, etc. The civil service mandates these *willy nilly* without regard to demonstrated competence. So that's one answer.

In sports, the goal is to win. Just win. But I hope you are aware that it wasn't always this way. Baseball had the Negro Leagues for decades, because a color barrier was enforced. And blacks have been allowed into other sports only with reluctance (there's a movie about this out right now). I believe that as the paying spectators became increasingly willing to pay to watch black athletes win in preference to white athletes losing, the emphasis shifted from color to performance. And in sports, performance is much easier to measure objectively.

Entertainment has been another area with very real barriers. Bill Cosby's show was a real breakthrough, and black actors and actresses are narrowly limited to the kinds of parts they play. Being black is still visible enough so that whereas a white actor plays a character, a black actor plays a black character.

Quote
In order to prevent this from happening, in fact, I think I'll set up lots of minority colleges, scholarships, corporate recruitment programs, and even burden black folk with preferential access...

You are pointing out that sincere efforts are being made to correct real problems. (Once again, remember you yourself admitted there is very real discrimination). I think the problem has been that true color-blindness is impossible to enforce. Administratively, it's a lot easier to try to break the pattern with targeted programs. But these programs do little if anything to address the sort of habitual racism historical social stratification has generated.

For a snapshot of where blacks stood after legal segregation was abandoned, I suggest you read John Howard Griffin's book Black Like Me.

The playing field HAS been tilted up nearly vertical for both women and blacks, and gets pushed back down only slowly and with great effort, some of it counterproductive. I mentioned that I work with about 50 engineers, only one of whom is black. The number of women is, well, zero. This is almost surely not biological.

Anyway, the obstacles are not deduced from statistical performance measures, they are observed directly. You could as easily argue that we deduce gravity by circular reasoning: things fall because of gravity, and we know it's gravity because things fall.

  
The Ghost of Paley



Posts: 1703
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 17 2006,11:28   

Quote
In sports, the goal is to win. Just win. But I hope you are aware that it wasn't always this way. Baseball had the Negro Leagues for decades, because a color barrier was enforced. And blacks have been allowed into other sports only with reluctance (there's a movie about this out right now).

But that's precisely the point. Blacks were blatantly discriminated against in baseball, with strict Jim Crow laws put in place to well, "keep 'em in their place". And yet somehow they overcame this despite widespread prejudice. So apparently Jim Crow didn't present an "insurmountable" obstacle in the sporting world. So why does it do so in other fields? Don't engineering firms "want to win"? Aren't there economic costs associated with rejecting qualified blacks in favor of mediocre whites? In fact, wouldn't competition be even fiercer in an industry that doesn't have an antitrust exemption and isn't ruled by potbellied rednecks like baseball was (and to a certain extent, still is)? Curious minds want to know.....
Quote
Anyway, the obstacles are not deduced from statistical performance measures, they are observed directly.

John McWhorter and others would beg to differ from you, bro. He argues that discrimination is greatly diminished now, and that blacks can succeed with less than superhuman effort. More later.....

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Dey can't 'andle my riddim.

  
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