Pearl Clutching near Section 8 homes.

DZH22

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I'd argue that this sentence is not only the critical one in your argument, it is also, flagrantly untrue, or at the very least stretched beyond all reasonable bounds of what can be deemed true or false.

If I'm mistaking your argument, that's my error, but my read of this is that you're essentially arguing that there is either, in effect, a level playing field for all people, or that there is at least some kind of equality of potential in all people from birth/youth onward, and that it's simply effort or lack thereof that determines outcomes. That's what I'm referring to as the point that I'd argue is either untrue or beyond any reasonable falsification. It is empirically, factually untrue that there are no systemic issues that hold certain people back. That is true in something as basic as the school system, where the quality of education (and facilities) varies from school to school even just in one city. Someone born and raised in a home situation which has stable parenting, stable and sufficient income, and the ability to access better education and opportunities has advantages over someone who doesn't. People who are, through no fault of their own, born into bad circumstances would have to work enormously harder simply to reach the same level of opportunities as others, and that's assuming that things like race, and income, and anything else that might be brought up don't work against them. It becomes very hard for a great many people to say to people whose situations are terrible that "too bad you were born poor, you should just work way harder than everyone else, and maybe then you'll get ahead of the people with tons more advantage", because that is fundamentally unfair. Does it lead to a lot of fairly-well-intentioned, sometimes-misguided, frequently-poorly-designed-and-implemented policies? Yes. Does it result in some people deciding they shouldn't need to do much of any work on their own at all? Presumably yes. But simply saying that it's all the individual's fault, and implying that there is no systemic issues at play, is at best mistaken and at worst outright denialism in the service of a governmental philosophy often weaponized in favor of the powerful against the weak. (By the way, I do not mean to imply any ill will or malevolence in your argument, just that similar arguments are used dishonestly by some people for political ends.)
What systemic is referring to is that nobody in that situation could possibly rise above it. It is not saying that everybody has the same advantages in life. Some people will absolutely have to work harder, and some people also never identify their true talents which holds them back. Studies show that first born children, on average, do better than second born children, third born, and so on, WITHIN THE SAME FAMILY.

You can be born poor, and still become president, or a doctor, lawyer, archeologist... Whatever you want to be, there isn't a systemic (government in particular) barrier that firmly blocks you from getting there. In the past this wasn't always true. If you possess the merits for a line of work but it is impossible for you to achieve it based on the system, that's what I'm referring to. A good example is when MLB only allowed white players until Jackie Robinson finally broke through. Plenty of non-white players were good enough for MLB based on their playing abilities, but weren't given the chance and the system allowed that to happen. That, luckily for everybody, is no longer the case. Back to the doctor scenario, you can be a black doctor, a white doctor, a woman doctor, a short doctor, a hairy doctor, a gay doctor, an any-religion doctor, a trans doctor... As long as you did what you needed to do to meet the standards, including going through the schooling, exams, and residency, you can be a doctor, no matter what other characteristics you identify with.

For fairness, I like to point to something much less loaded than people. Some countries have deep rivers that flow out to oceans and allow them to serve as transport and for port cities to develop. Others have rivers that flow to inland seas which do not facilitate global trading. Others have rivers with giant waterfalls and rapids that make transport all but impossible. Others don't have any large rivers at all.

At the end of the day, a lot of life is the luck of the draw, but in America the original draw does not determine your fate if you don't allow it to. If you drill in to every single person's individual situation, you will find things that are inherently unfair that they have had to deal with. But who is the government to tell us what's fair, and then to take from some in order to prop up others?

Also, at the end of the day, you have the ability to help determine the fate of the next generation by the parenting you provide to your children. My parents worked hard to put a roof over my head. Why should they be asked to support anybody else's children other than their own, and why should anybody be expected to support me if not my parents themselves? We all have to be individually responsible for ourselves and stop expecting the government to come save us by incrementally putting our freedoms back into their hands. So no, life isn't fair, but the opportunity is there for everybody who chooses to seize it and has the fortitude to live out their dreams.
 

Arlington

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My parents worked hard to put a roof over my head. Why should they be asked to support anybody else's children other than their own, and why should anybody be expected to support me if not my parents themselves? We all have to be individually responsible for ourselves and stop expecting the government to come save us by incrementally putting our freedoms back into their hands. So no, life isn't fair, but the opportunity is there for everybody who chooses to seize it and has the fortitude to live out their dreams.
Your parents--indeed most wage-earners and homebuyers--participated in a system (development-restrictive) zoning that produced outsized returns on home ownership by using non-market forces (political clout) to make conveniently-located housing a scarce resource. It was not a free system. It was a system planned to benefit incumbents and exclude entrants.

As a homeowner (who partly relied on my parents' capital for my first down-payment) I participate in that system too. Until I can get my municipality to enact accessory dwellings (or other ways to welcome new people in my neighborhood) it is reasonable that I be asked in some other way to redistribute my home-value gains in a way that increases other's ability to live in decent housing.
 

DZH22

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50 years ago, you could pay for a year's tuition at a state school for the cost of 300 hours work at minimum wage (a part-time, summer). Now it requires 1,500 hours work. 5x human time is a monstrously-larger burden, not merely an attitude thing. (Math on the same point from Money magazine)

Similar multiples have happened in housing, as double-income households bid up the cost of conveniently located real estate and NIMBYs were permitted to limit the market's ability to supply additional housing units in close-to-work neighborhoods. Zoning, and the ability of owners of one parcel to limit the uses on neighboring parcels, is the root of this, not "lack of motivation" of the current generation that's forming households.
Do well enough in school and you can earn a scholarship to a state school, like I did by nailing my MCAS exams.
No scholarship? Do a couple years in an affordable community college that you know transfers credits, like Middlesex to UMass.
Don't want to do that either? Try a trade school and become an apprentice for a while. Not everybody needs to go to college. Lots of well paying jobs are out there in the trades.

Don't want to do any of that? Then get a low level job and see if you can work yourself up, and/or find a job that will pay for you to take night classes. Many jobs will.
Don't want to go to school at all? Try either sales (often the least book-smart can find huge success here) or be a waitstaff/bartender, who can both make quite good money in Eastern Massachusetts.

Just want to mail it in the rest of your life? Then reap what you sow. If I'm the ant, I'm not bailing out that grasshopper either.
 

DZH22

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Your parents--indeed most wage-earners and homebuyers--participated in a system (development-restrictive) zoning that produced outsized returns on home ownership by using non-market forces (political clout) to make conveniently-located housing a scarce resource. As a homeowner (who partly relied on my parents' capital for my first down-payment) I participate in that system too. Until I can get my municipality to enact accessory dwellings (or other ways to welcome new people in my neighborhood) it is reasonable that I be asked in some other way to redistribute my home-value gains in a way that increases other's ability to live in decent housing.
The gains only exist when you sell the home. Otherwise they're not really gains at all since you'll be paying more in taxes while you live there. Then if you do sell, the rest of the market is also inflated so it's basically a lateral move from one house to another (minus all the closing costs). Also, what if your home loses value, like it did during the housing crash? Is it reasonable that the people you redistributed some of this value to pay it back now that you're stuck in a losing position? "And then what happens? And then what happens? And then what happens?" You're stuck at the initial outcome and not looking at any of the layers beyond the surface.

I know people who made a ton of money on Apple and I didn't buy in. I know people who made a killing with bitcoin. They made the transaction, and I could have, but didn't. So is it unfair that I don't get to partake in the same windfall without taking on any of the earlier risks? Should everybody who got lucky in any way in their life be forced to share that luck with those who didn't? Life is random, including the randomness of making a good (or BAD!!!) investment. I lost money on one of my stocks. Who do I go to for restitution?
 

Arlington

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Do well enough in school and you can earn a scholarship to a state school, like I did by nailing my MCAS exams.
That's sounding less like motivation and more like winning the nature-nurture-neighborhood lottery (like I did, and am self-aware enough to see). 50 years ago, the system was widely available, not just for closely-prescribed winners. It's about as lame as saying "The Naval Academy has always been free" What you fail to offer is a widely-available system for upward mobility and home affordability.
 
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Arlington

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The gains only exist when you sell the home.
Sorry, since 1066 real estate taxes have been paid on assessed value and so have always been levied on unrealized gains. Take it up with William the Conqueror if you think you shouldn't have to pay taxes on unrealized gains.
 

DZH22

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That's sounding less like motivation and more like winning the nature-nurture lottery. 50 years ago, the system was widely available, not just for closely-prescribed winners. It's about as lame as saying "The Naval Academy has always been free" What you fail to offer is a widely-available system for upward mobility and home affordability.
Oh yeah I totally forgot about the armed forces! Not my cup of tea but absolutely an option. I appreciate anybody who takes the option as I myself would not have wanted to.

As I always quote, life is about trade-offs. In order to get the most housing built we essentially need to eliminate zoning and other "pesky" stipulations. Otherwise, that does drive the cost of homes up even though we tend to agree we need a set of reasonable rules in place.

Even owning a home is a trade-off. Not everybody wants to be stuck with a long-term mortgage. Some people prefer the flexibility of renting. Some people don't want to be responsible for things like maintenance. I don't know where this conversation is even going anymore or what you're trying to argue, other than promoting some clandestine form of communism disguised as something else (equity).

Sorry, since 1066 real estate taxes have been paid on assessed value and so have always been levied on unrealized gains. Take it up with William the Conqueror if you think you shouldn't have to pay taxes on unrealized gains.
This further favors my argument though, not yours. When the house gains in value, you pay more taxes on it as long as you own it. The gains themselves though don't end up in your pocket until you actually sell the property. So if you're living in the same house for 50 years, and it gained a million dollars in value, you still just have the SAME house and a higher tax bill until you choose to sell it. You have the same house but a higher tax bill for the right to live in that same house. So you aren't receiving a benefit from the unrealized gains, only a higher bill. Why would you then want to "give away" part of the value of these unrealized gains before they are, ya know, actually realized? (at which point the giveaway is called your tax bill, with exceptions for inheritance for the step-up basis, or I believe there's an offset if you purchase another house with that money) What if you paid all these extras, and then the housing market crashed again, and you couldn't realize the profit you expected? "And then what happens? And then what happens? And then what happens?"
 

Arlington

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Oh yeah I totally forgot about the armed forces! Not my cup of tea but absolutely an option. I appreciate anybody who takes the option as I myself would not have wanted to.
The GI benefits for college and housing were essentially unavailable to people of color back then and by today have shrunken as a tool just like the minimum wage has vs the cost of college and housing.
 

DZH22

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The GI benefits for college and housing were essentially unavailable to people of color back then and by today have shrunken as a tool just like the minimum wage has vs the cost of college and housing.
Back then yes, but my whole argument revolves around 2021. We cannot move forward if we are stuck on past grievances.

"It is self-destructive for any society to create a situation where a baby who is born into the world today automatically has pre-existing grievances against another baby born at the same time, because of what their ancestors did centuries ago. It is hard enough to solve our own problems, without trying to solve our ancestors’ problems."
-Thomas Sowell
 

Brattle Loop

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What systemic is referring to is that nobody in that situation could possibly rise above it. It is not saying that everybody has the same advantages in life. Some people will absolutely have to work harder, and some people also never identify their true talents which holds them back. Studies show that first born children, on average, do better than second born children, third born, and so on, WITHIN THE SAME FAMILY.

You can be born poor, and still become president, or a doctor, lawyer, archeologist... Whatever you want to be, there isn't a systemic (government in particular) barrier that firmly blocks you from getting there. In the past this wasn't always true. If you possess the merits for a line of work but it is impossible for you to achieve it based on the system, that's what I'm referring to. A good example is when MLB only allowed white players until Jackie Robinson finally broke through. Plenty of non-white players were good enough for MLB based on their playing abilities, but weren't given the chance and the system allowed that to happen. That, luckily for everybody, is no longer the case. Back to the doctor scenario, you can be a black doctor, a white doctor, a woman doctor, a short doctor, a hairy doctor, a gay doctor, an any-religion doctor, a trans doctor... As long as you did what you needed to do to meet the standards, including going through the schooling, exams, and residency, you can be a doctor, no matter what other characteristics you identify with.

For fairness, I like to point to something much less loaded than people. Some countries have deep rivers that flow out to oceans and allow them to serve as transport and for port cities to develop. Others have rivers that flow to inland seas which do not facilitate global trading. Others have rivers with giant waterfalls and rapids that make transport all but impossible. Others don't have any large rivers at all.

At the end of the day, a lot of life is the luck of the draw, but in America the original draw does not determine your fate if you don't allow it to. If you drill in to every single person's individual situation, you will find things that are inherently unfair that they have had to deal with. But who is the government to tell us what's fair, and then to take from some in order to prop up others?
It's absolutely a logically-coherent, valid argument to make (I'm paraphrasing in an effort to synthetize, any oversimplification or other error is my own) that acknowledges that different people are born and raised with different advantages and disadvantages stemming from various causes, and that acknowledges that some people as a result have to work a massive amount more/harder in order to achieve the same results.

As an analogy, consider a baseball diamond, two people racing around the bases to home; it's possible for the person starting on first to win the race, but a lot harder for them than the guy starting on third. It's a legitimate argument, from a logical and philosophical perspective, to acknowledge that these disparities exist while simultaneously arguing that the government should do relatively little (or nothing) to help ameliorate them, either on principle or because of practical concerns. If that's the argument you're endeavoring to make (and the "land of opportunity" rhetoric suggests to me that it is), that argument is not, in and of itself, an invalid one. (Margaret Thatcher would have some words for anyone suggesting otherwise.)

That said, it is an argument that tends to provoke considerable backlash, in part because it is often used disingenuously as a smokescreen (it's got a nasty history of being used in tandem with racist dogwhistles by national politicians in the 20th century, for one), and more so because it comes of as monstrously indifferent to extreme inequality. It may not be your intent (and I do not assume that it is) but some of the strength of the reaction does come from that type of argument's context and implications. It can be extremely uncomfortable to be confronted with a philosophy that says, in effect, "yes, some people are horribly disadvantaged through no fault of their own and would have to work way harder than others just to reach the same outcomes, but there's nothing we can/should do about that", let alone the ones that try and justify that - for lack of a better word - apathy with more than small-government principles or practical concerns.

In answer to your question as to "who is the government to tell us what's fair", it's not "the government" as some faceless malign entity so much as it is society deciding that a certain level of unfairness is unacceptable to it and the government acting accordingly. Disagreeing with that isn't "the government" squashing you so much as it is being in opposition to the majority view (or at least a view acceptable to the majority who doesn't get riled up enough to change things), which is unpleasant and uncomfortable but inherent in a democratic system. In this case the majority seems to think that extreme inequality is unacceptable enough so as to merit redistributive policies to ameliorate. I have no quarrel with anyone who wants to argue against that factually (as long as they don't make me listen to Margaret Thatcher actually speaking). I would say that it's likely to make for choppy seas ahead for anyone who does make that argument here, and that they should know what they're getting into.
 

king_vibe

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4 pieces of response...
1. The help I receive is from my own family, not from strangers. It's also in response to the government being directly heavy handed with me. They screw me enough that I don't need them to screw me any more (in the form of higher taxes) to help strangers who aren't helping me in return.
2. In my particular situation, those who do not have the family connections are going to suffer greatly. It wouldn't surprise me to see an abject rise in homelessness and suicides of non-custodial parents who have been squeezed out of their homes and their dignity by an arbitrary GIGANTIC raise on child support payments. Personally, the government's treatment of me these last few years has left me more depressed and hopeless. I love my kids and could never abandon them (including via suicide, which I romanticize every time the government steps in to "help" and "be fair" which is constantly at my own expense), and I am very lucky to have parents who feel the same way (about all of us). None of us are rich. We are middle class, and yet the middle class seems to suffer the most in this country. Let me repeat, if I didn't have help, I would absolutely despair, and it's the government who keeps upping the ante on the insanity. My kids live in a nice place. I have the right to some dignity, so when they visit they don't have to say "Daddy why do you live in that cardbox box?"
3. The government unintentionally makes things worse for a lot of people. This is especially true when they draw lines, so if you make $50k you get all these great deals but if you make $51k you don't. The government incentives people to cap their value production lest they price themselves out of all the free stuff. I don't want "the poor" to think that they always have to be that way, that they are always victims, that they should always accept the free stuff. We need to empower people to try to better themselves and their own situations. Arbitrarily giving cheap housing to some while not others (ie the lottery system to land many of these units) just further hurts everybody who somehow misses out on the benefits.
4. "The poor" is often a misnomer, as people tend to shift among income brackets and make more as they age. Every one of us would have qualified as a "bottom 20%" salary when we got our first jobs in high school or part time during college. Were we all living poor during that time? On the flipside, most people's salaries peak around 50 years old. For those who are in their 50's now, was your salary always this high? Of course not. As you gain skills you produce more value and get more in return. If you choose not to gain those skills, that's on you. Also, one time gains from things like the sale of a house count as income for that given year. Many people in the "top 20%" are only there for a single year, due to an unrepeatable large sale of an asset.

Giving stuff away kind of makes me feel like this...
Imagine Rhino, bigpicture7, king_vibe, and DZH22 were all going to have a big race in 6 months. Let's say the winner of that race would be entitled to 5% of the other 3's yearly salaries, whatever those came to be.
So Rhino prepares for the race by running 5-6 miles a day, hitting the gym hard for legs, and eating right. Rhino shows up on race day 15 pounds lighter than 6 months earlier, ready to rock.
Bigpicture7 spends most of their time hiking, building up stamina and leg muscles. Bigpicture7 shows up 10 pounds lighter, ready to rock.
King_vibe also runs a few miles a day, while reading a book and watching training videos about things like the perfect stride, getting off the block faster, and breathing techniques to win at the given distance. King_vibe shows up in shape and ready to rock.

Then you have DZH22. While the other 3 are training their butts off, DZH22's only training is sitting in front of the couch and eating a large pizza everyday. After 6 months, DZH22 is 25 pounds heavier, and his muscles have deteriorated a bit, and he gets out of breath just by climbing the steps. DZH22 shows up to the race in this sad-sack shape.

"Hey!" DZH22 exclaims. "It's not fair that these 3 people are in shape and I'm not!" Since the judges of the race are progressives, they agree completely. It's not fair that some people are better equipped for a race than others, and all the work that they put in (or in DZH22's case, didn't put in at all) shouldn't be taken into account as that would be "weight-ist" or whatever ridiculous term they come up with next. So to make things "fair" they allow DZH22 to start the race 3/4 of the way through it. In a photo-finish, DZH22 rolls himself across the finish line right before the other 3 racers get there. Now the other 3 racers owe DZH22 5% of their income, because that's the only fair outcome.


I don't think workers should have to prop up the takers, and that starts from a young age with those who took school seriously vs those who didn't. If you studied 3 hours a night, and somebody else studied 0 hours, then you're probably going to end up with the better job making more money. When you sacrificed your own time to get where you are, why should you have to share it with those who did not? You reap what you sow. It may sound callous but if everybody just wanted free stuff, there would be nobody to actually PRODUCE that stuff. I don't like the thought of penalizing the people who put the work in, who made those sacrifices, in order to prop up those who did not. In my case I put the work in (returning to grad school) and am far from a rich person, especially for Eastern Massachusetts, yet the government still sees fit to take me to the cleaners and say that the money I earned deserves to go to somebody who didn't. (and I mean the additional punitive amount in particular, as of course child support should exist)

Now let's return to that development we were talking about. What happens to all the people, LIKE ME, who don't qualify for the subsidies but then can't afford the inflated market rates either? It seems like the people who didn't put the work in often get propped up to the point where they can live better than the people who did. That's the true definition of unfair, and the government is the number 1 perpetrator in this inequity.

Keep going in this extreme direction, and here's where we end up.
Thomas Sowell is mentally ill.
 
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Arlington

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The grievance at the center here is freshly-reinflicted: housing is expensive because past and current owners have colluded to constrain supply, raise prices, and bank the gains inter-generationally.
 

DZH22

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Thank you all for your reasoned responses. My opinions have also been laid out pretty thoroughly here. I am retiring from this thread to return to my roots: posting pictures and complaining about underwhelming developments.
 

Blackbird

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Meanwhile you’re spending a big chunk of the work day posting on an internet forum(presumably leaving others to pick up your slack at work) complaining about building heights(which seems like an utterly absurd way to spend even a second of your time in light of what you’ve disclosed here) and bitching about housing for poor people(which represents an abysmally small percentage of the federal budget) while you could be busting your ass at your current job in hopes of advancing or applying elsewhere.
I really don’t think it’s helpful here to belittle his hobbies or imply that he’s lazy. If you want to try to change someone’s mind, imo this definitely isn’t the way to do it.
 

kmp1284

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I really don’t think it’s helpful here to belittle his hobbies or imply that he’s lazy. If you want to try to change someone’s mind, imo this definitely isn’t the way to do it.
Perhaps not in retrospect but I was genuinely flabbergasted with what I was reading and kind of shooting from the hip.
 

DBM

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Thomas Sowell is mentally ill.
Alternatively, one could say, Thomas Sowell is intellectually impoverished to such a cartoonish degree, it only makes sense that he'd endorse an animated video as juvenile and asinine as that "Grasshopper Vs. The Ant" Youtube clip that DZH posted.

But your post has the virtue of brevity--while still being accurate.
 

HenryAlan

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I don't like when poor people get breaks that I don't qualify for, when I myself couldn't afford the market rate of an area. It basically says only rich or poor are taken care of in one way or another, at the expense of the middle class which just misses the cut for "free" stuff.
Ask yourself whether you'd be better off making so little as to qualify for what you call "free" stuff, or with the income you have now, paying market rate. If you answer the former, then change your income structure and be poor, since you seem to think it's such a great deal. Otherwise, STFU.
 

HenryAlan

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I read this 630 page book over the Spring and feel like I understand so much more than I used to.
So, not sure if you realize this, but Thomas Sowell is a political ideologue, more so than he is an economist. He bends theory to meet the results required by his politics and is therefore a favorite among extreme libertarians and other right wing ideologues. If you truly are a moderate, I recommend a high dash of skepticism regarding his theories.
 

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