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Old 19th February 2019, 00:40   #406
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Re: Understanding Economics

My initial years in USA, I worked via TCS. The medical insurance they provided was very suspect. For example, if you go to the doctor, and show your TCS issued insurance card to the doctor's secretary, she would tell us to pay using cash/card and then recover it from the insurance company. Once my colleague had a gym accident, and broke his shoulder. At the ER, he had pay $2000, and spend many months to get it reimbursed partially. When I fell sick once, the doctor at a nearby private clinic looked at my insurance card, took pity and gave me free medicine from his sample. He even waived the fee since it was my first visit there. And for married employees, TCS used to strictly forbid trying to have a child in USA. If a TCSer's wife got pregnant, TCS would tell the wife to go back to India. I hear they have changed that policy now. We all understood it was cheaper to fly back to India than try to get treated in USA for any serious medical problem.

Anyway, once I started working for a startup, things changed. I got a very good family medical coverage. It even had zero co-pay (zero deductible). The significance of it didn't occur to me until I saw reactions at doctor's office whenever I presented the insurance card. They would do a double take every time, and even wave it to their colleagues saying it is zero co-pay. When my son was born, we had access to the best of facilities. In fact, a year later the Governor's wife gave birth in the same facility.

This basically underlines the fact that good medical coverage is possible in USA, only if you are financially well off. I have been on both sides of it.

How could this keep going on in the richest country in the world? This is why socialist democrats are winning elections in USA.
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Old 19th February 2019, 09:38   #407
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Re: Understanding Economics

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Yup. It was according to their own disclosure.
The obviously very low median figure of 12,754$ per year piqued my interest; So did some fact-checking.

The same linked article quotes [emphasis mine]:

Quote:
The figure, included in a Jan. 25 regulatory filing, represents the compensation for an unidentified part-time barista in California, counting salary and restricted stock.
.

Probably in the detailed regulatory filing, Starbucks mentions what is the median hours of working for a part-time barista, but till we know that we can't make a judgement.

Further googling leads me to this 2016 article:

Quote:
Starbucks, however, has skirted attention partly because it has a strong reputation for treating its employees well. The company offers benefits to "partners," its word for anyone who works for the chain, that work more than 20 hours a week. This can include everything from bonuses to 401(k) matching, and discounted stock purchase options. The coffee chain also offers a free online college tuition program, health insurance, and even adoption assistance.
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Overall it's a very generous package and a big part of why the company has a better reputation than McDonald's and Wal-Mart, but when it comes down to it, you can't eat health insurance or free college. You also can't use excellent benefits to pay your rent or make a car payment.
Quote:
The company, which pays differing rates depending upon the market, does not publicize its hourly rate, but 12,000 Starbucks employees have anonymously submitted salary information to employer rating site Glassdoor, giving a gauge of wages. Glassdoor reports that information from 2,650 baristas shows that they average $9.43 an hour, while nearly 2,000 shift supervisors average $11.65 an hour.
If we use a figure of 9.5$ per hour for a barista, and the full-time barista works 45 hours per week, and 48 paid weeks per year, we got an annual pay of 20,520$ (9.5 x 45 x 48) plus all the benefits listed above.

I am not commenting whether the overall package is good or bad; just putting out a few facts on the table.
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Old 19th February 2019, 10:30   #408
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Re: Understanding Economics

Jeez, reading all the opinions about the US of A, I feel that I should quit on my L1 quest. It seems to be a sad place to live, even sadder than India. This in spite of all those people in tiny boats braving rough sea to set their foots in the American soil.

Well, I don't see any starbucks employee wanting to flee from America and take refuge in Cuba where they boast of free healthcare, free food, free college, free everything. Another country called USSR who provided free everything collapsed a few decades ago.

And now one dumb Ocasio Cortez talks about paying people "unwilling to work" and there are people hailing her as a economics whizkid.

I still don't get the fascination of wanting everything free. I thought we all wanted to live on our own terms and money. After all what right do I have to someone else's money even if he was born more privileged than me? And giving free stuff to the "needy" is a disservice to those people who worked their way to prosperity.
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Old 19th February 2019, 11:14   #409
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Re: Understanding Economics

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Originally Posted by blacksport View Post

I still don't get the fascination of wanting everything free. I thought we all wanted to live on our own terms and money. After all what right do I have to someone else's money even if he was born more privileged than me? And giving free stuff to the "needy" is a disservice to those people who worked their way to prosperity.
My takeaway from this discussion is that how, even in a nation which is acknowledged as an economic superpower, there is still debate on whether there should be some social safety net for the bottom strata (read universal medical insurance)

Notwithstanding everything that is wrong with India, we have still found it in ourselves to roll out a universal health insurance scheme targeted at the urban as well as the rural poor. Its not funded by tax rupees alone, but also in partnership with other private and public agencies. Of course challenges remain in terms of implementation, continued funding etc, but its a start and it means that the correct discourse exists in India wrt such issues.

I think it is a no brainer that some social safety net needs to exist, especially a medical one, what with rising health care costs and the fact that medical and education continues to be two of the biggest contributors to inflation, at least in India. Perhaps this discourse exists more in India given the sheer numbers of the poor and how long it has taken us to make progress on this front, that lets say the US, where getting ahead and a consumerist lifestyle is valued more.

Neither approaches are wrong and depends on the existing economic conditions of that nation, but the fact that Amazon faced such backlash and had to opt out of NY indicates that there is a social issue which perhaps is not being addressed.
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Old 19th February 2019, 11:27   #410
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Re: Understanding Economics

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Originally Posted by blacksport View Post
Jeez, reading all the opinions about the US of A, I feel that I should quit on my L1 quest. It seems to be a sad place to live, even sadder than India. This in spite of all those people in tiny boats braving rough sea to set their foots in the American soil.
Hmm, that's because you enjoy privileged life in USA. So did I, for the most time. Indians who fly into USA with H1/L1 generally enjoy the American dream way more than Americans. I am pretty sure you make at least 3 or 4 times more than the median US income of $31K. You don't have a student loan that will weigh you down until your 40s. I remember how my US colleagues were shocked to know I didn't have any student loan even in my mid 20s.

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Well, I don't see any starbucks employee wanting to flee from America and take refuge in Cuba where they boast of free healthcare, free food, free college, free everything. Another country called USSR who provided free everything collapsed a few decades ago.
Are you confusing socialism with communism? Why don't you think or Denmark, Netherlands or Norway when you think of free healthcare or free college? They are democracies too.

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And now one dumb Ocasio Cortez talks about paying people "unwilling to work" and there are people hailing her as a economics whizkid.
Yes, calling socio-economists as dumb is a favourite pastime for people trained only in business economics. I was in your shoes for a long time before life experiences and exposure to sociology forced me to evolve in my thinking.

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I still don't get the fascination of wanting everything free. I thought we all wanted to live on our own terms and money. After all what right do I have to someone else's money even if he was born more privileged than me? And giving free stuff to the "needy" is a disservice to those people who worked their way to prosperity.
Yes, that's exactly how the thinking goes when everything works in your favour. I used to be very against pension. I mean, why should people get paid after retirement for decades without contributing to the society? It was only when my father passed away at 83 (3 weeks short), I realised something. My father hadn't taken a single rupee from me in the 20+ years of retirement, and even managed to save money and left quite a few FDs in bank in the names of his grandkids. After retirement, he and my mother lived in dignity without having to depend on us kids. How do you put a price on it? I no more grudge pension.

I have two sons, one is 18 and normal, the other is 12 and autistic. The autistic one will never be an useful member to the society, he will always be a dependent and will even require constant supervision all his life. Still, 3 of remaining family members spends most of our spare time caring for him and a big portion of my income goes towards his treatment, and has forced my family to live in Bangalore for his treatment while my company is in Udupi. If I think like a businessman, I should be doing very little for him. But I am thinking like a parent, so I practice socialism at home, and take care of the weak and the needy first.

A good society is the one which takes care their elderly, needy and the weak. It is no different than a family, where dependents like grandparents and children are treated well even though they earn nothing.

That is why a good society can't think or run like business, then only the well earning minority will enjoy while the rest of them live in poverty.

Last edited by Samurai : 19th February 2019 at 12:13. Reason: typo
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Old 19th February 2019, 11:39   #411
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Re: Understanding Economics

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Originally Posted by hothatchaway View Post
My takeaway from this discussion is that how, even in a nation which is acknowledged as an economic superpower, there is still debate on whether there should be some social safety net for the bottom strata (read universal medical insurance)
There exists a better social safety net in the USA than in India. USA has more social programs and worker protections than Communist China. Moreover what the USA has and what the rest of the world lacks is one thing - opportunities. If you have the will to work they have enough and more opportunities to succeed. That is why people flock to the US embassies for a visa and traffickers for a tiny boat.

Am not particularly sad at the way the Amazon thing panned out. It is only fair for the state to not provide concessions to a business. That is crony capitalism.

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Hmm, that's because you enjoy privileged life in USA. So did I, for the most time. Indians who fly into USA with H1/L1 generally enjoy the American dream way more than Americans. I am pretty sure you make at least 3 or 4 times more than the median US income of $31K. You don't have a student loan that will weigh you down until your 40s. I remember how my US colleagues were shocked to know I didn't have any student loan even in my mid 20s.
There are people, not privileged, arriving in boats too.
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Are you confusing socialism with communism? Why don't you think or Denmark, Netherlands or Norway when you think of free healthcare or free college? They are democracies too.
One is a milder form of the other. Both entails living on other people's money with varying degrees.
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Yes, calling socio-economists as dumb is a favourite pastime for people trained only business economics. I was in your shoes for a long time before life experiences and exposure to sociology forced me to evolve in my thinking.
Just the opposite here. I was a leftist until I discovered that people are born to be free.
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Yes, that's exactly how the thinking goes when everything works in your favour. I used to be very against pension. I mean, why should people get paid after retirement for decades without contributing to the society? It was only when my father passed away at 83 (3 weeks short), I realised something. My father hadn't taken a single rupee from me in the 20+ years of retirement, and even managed to save money and left quite a few FDs in bank in the names of his grandkids. After retirement, he and my mother lived in dignity without having to depend on us kids. How do you put a price on it? I no more grudge pension.
Pension does not come for free. You set aside money to create your kitty. You can do it or let the govt do it. Ultimately you work for it.

Last edited by blacksport : 19th February 2019 at 11:51.
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Old 19th February 2019, 11:44   #412
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Re: Understanding Economics

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Hmm, that's because you enjoy privileged life in USA.

Are you confusing socialism with communism?

Yes, that's exactly how the thinking goes when everything works in your favour.

A good society is the one which takes care their elderly, needy and the weak.

That is why a good society can't think or run like business, then only the well earning minority will enjoy while the rest of them live in poverty.
Thank you for all these. Valuable lessons.

It's so easy to favor a 'capitalism-forever' system when one has basically been born into privilege. (And if you're on this forum in the middle of the day, typing in English, you are very privileged compared to the majority of people the world over.)

Not so easy otherwise.

Last edited by am1m : 19th February 2019 at 11:46.
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Old 19th February 2019, 12:49   #413
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Re: Understanding Economics

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There exists a better social safety net in the USA than in India. USA has more social programs and worker protections than Communist China.
I suggest you read this book to understand what happens when you are not privileged enough in USA.

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Am not particularly sad at the way the Amazon thing panned out. It is only fair for the state to not provide concessions to a business. That is crony capitalism.
Yes, Amazon almost doubled its U.S. profits from $5.6 billion to $11.2 billion between 2017 and 2018. Yet they paid $0 in corporate tax in 2018. To top it off, Amazon actually reported a $129 million 2018 federal income tax rebateómaking its tax rate -1%. [source]

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There are people, not privileged, arriving in boats too.
They are illegal aliens, they have no rights there. I was talking about US citizens, who are supposed to have more rights than you and I.

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Just the opposite here. I was a leftist until I discovered that people are born to be free.
Good for you. I was never a leftist, I never understood or appreciated that concept. I don't like the labour unions or communism at all. We are talking about socialism (economic system), let's not keep mixing it with communism (political system).

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Pension does not come for free. You set aside money to create your kitty. You can do it or let the govt do it. Ultimately you work for it.
That's the idea, but inflation doesn't let it work that way. In practice, the current workers really pay for the pension of their retiring seniors. My dad's pension was much higher than the salary he used to make when he retired. The nationalised bank he used to work for didn't have pension scheme when he retired. So there was no kitty. But 2 years after he retired, they introduced the pension scheme, and gave him the option of joining by paying a nominal fee of 2L. He joined it and then got pension for 20+ years. In the final years, he was getting 2.4L/year in pension. After his death, my mom still gets about 1L/year as family pension.
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Old 19th February 2019, 13:25   #414
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Re: Understanding Economics

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... I was never a leftist, I never understood or appreciated that concept. I don't like the labour unions or communism at all.

... My dad's pension was much higher than the salary he used to make when he retired. The nationalised bank he used to work for didn't have pension scheme when he retired. So there was no kitty. But 2 years after he retired, they introduced the pension scheme, and gave him the option of joining by paying a nominal fee ......

... In practice, the current workers really pay for the pension of their retiring seniors...
I hope you don't get mad at me for saying this, but the fact remains that your father was able to get the pension only because the union(s) stuck to their guns and fought for introduction of a (non-contributory) pension scheme (those days).

What you have stated (which I had quoted in bold) is very true, though. As has already been elucidated by you elsewhere, there has to be a safety net for all the (less able) citizens, and it should be funded by those who can contribute (especially when they are at their productive phase).

And, as observed by am1m, it is not easy for those less privileged, unless we willingly pay our taxes, AND it percolates down to the bottom of the pyramid. (I would hazard a guess - how many would have willingly given up the 'fuel subsidy' for LPG, even if it hardly makes a difference to them? Each action like this has a domino effect - and the benefit doesn't get passed on to the needy).

While the intentions of a (socialistic) Government seems to be bring in these changes, I feel the bureaucracy takes care of its own first than the ones who they were meant to serve; as a result, the actual benefit reaching the target population is much lower than what ought to have been.


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Originally Posted by am1m View Post
.. so easy to favor a 'capitalism-forever' system when one has basically been born into privilege. (And if you're on this forum in the middle of the day, typing in English, you are very privileged compared to the majority of people the world over.)
Very true. If we learn to count our blessings, things will be better off for us and those around us.

Last edited by vrprabhu : 19th February 2019 at 13:28. Reason: Grammar / spelling
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Old 19th February 2019, 13:26   #415
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Re: Understanding Economics

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In practice, the current workers really pay for the pension of their retiring seniors. My dad's pension was much higher than the salary he used to make when he retired. The nationalised bank he used to work for didn't have pension scheme when he retired. So there was no kitty. But 2 years after he retired, they introduced the pension scheme, and gave him the option of joining by paying a nominal fee of 2L. He joined it and then got pension for 20+ years. In the final years, he was getting 2.4L/year in pension. After his death, my mom still gets about 1L/year as family pension.
Same here. My father having worked for Central government used to get a very decent pension, and my mother gets a family pension now.

But I still oppose the concept of defined pensions.

Because the government is paying pensions it will not be able to invest in infrastructure or new jobs. Pension to the old is at the cost of the younger people who need jobs. One person can easily be given a job with my mother's pension.

Socialism always favors those who are already inside the system, those who are already privileged.

And that is why UBI like solutions are better. Every citizen over 60 should get a basic and equal pension, whether they had a job earlier should not matter.

Last edited by DigitalOne : 19th February 2019 at 13:46. Reason: Added a point
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Old 19th February 2019, 16:05   #416
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Re: Understanding Economics

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I hope you don't get mad at me for saying this, but the fact remains that your father was able to get the pension only because the union(s) stuck to their guns and fought for introduction of a (non-contributory) pension scheme (those days).
I agree that is what happened. I often have to deal with labour department and have become quite familiar with various labour laws and regulations that are in place to protect the employees from exploitation. Whatever labour unions do, it is already part of the labour department mandate. That brings up the question. If the labour department did they job correctly, why is there a need for labour union? Think about it...

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Pension to the old is at the cost of the younger people who need jobs. One person can easily be given a job with my mother's pension.
How do you expect retired people to support themselves in the absence of pension? Not everyone will have kids who will take care of them. Old people deserve dignity, and pension gives them exactly that. My grandmother outlived her husband by 33 years, she kept getting her pension all the way until she was 91. It gave her dignity until her final years.

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Socialism always favors those who are already inside the system, those who are already privileged.
That is an imperfect implementation. Socialism when well implemented by the government, should cover all. Primary school education is free and for all. Same should extend to medical coverage, and even college education.

People often doubt socialist policies while viewing it from a capitalistic lens. So it is very easy to find fault.

I am paraphrasing what happened in USA:

Trump: I will give a $1.5 trillion tax cut.
People: Yeah.... that's great!!! (We don't really need it... But we love it!)

Bernie: We should provide tuition free college for all Americans.
People: Wait, where is the money coming from?
Bernie: By not giving the $1.5T tax cut and use that money?
People: You are a crazy old man who doesn't understand economics.
Bernie:

Last edited by Samurai : 19th February 2019 at 16:07.
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Old 19th February 2019, 16:16   #417
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Re: Understanding Economics

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I suggest you read this book to understand what happens when you are not privileged enough in USA.
Emotions don't mix well with economics. One has every right to be empathetic towards the poor, and even contribute to their well being. But allow others to opt in/out. Or allow them to do it their way. By batting for socialized living, you are forcing others to pay for something they are not interested in. What is even more pathetic is people claiming that they have a right to social schemes, which essentially means that they have the right to take other people's money.

Quote:
Yes, Amazon almost doubled its U.S. profits from $5.6 billion to $11.2 billion between 2017 and 2018. Yet they paid $0 in corporate tax in 2018. To top it off, Amazon actually reported a $129 million 2018 federal income tax rebateómaking its tax rate -1%. [source]
I am not a fan of taxing the rich, so a basic tax on everybody to keep the law and order running should be good enough. Govt should not be in the business of taking money from the rich to make other people rich.
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They are illegal aliens, they have no rights there. I was talking about US citizens, who are supposed to have more rights than you and I.
Life is not fair. Some are born rich, some poor. Some are born handsome/beautiful, some ugly. Should the govt step in to arrange beautiful girls in marriage for me because I was born ugly? For everything we lack, we try to compensate it with something that we have. That's life. You can't look up to big daddy govt for everything. Illegal aliens don't have privileges, but they compensate it with grit, and willingness to work. Something which the free brigade does not want to do.
Quote:
In practice, the current workers really pay for the pension of their retiring seniors.
Pension is just an insurance scheme, where you pay your premium and you get paid from the kitty for the rest of your life. Some die old, some younger, but at the end it all evens out.
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Old 19th February 2019, 16:46   #418
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Re: Understanding Economics

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How do you expect retired people to support themselves in the absence of pension? Not everyone will have kids who will take care of them. Old people deserve dignity, and pension gives them exactly that. My grandmother outlived her husband by 33 years, she kept getting her pension all the way until she was 91. It gave her dignity until her final years.
All old people should live in dignity, not just the ones who (or their spouses) had a governemnt job. That is why in the very next line I said a basic and equal pension has to be given for everyone over 60 (or whatever age it can be decided).


Quote:
That is an imperfect implementation. Socialism when well implemented by the government, should cover all. Primary school education is free and for all. Same should extend to medical coverage, and even college education.
No arguments against Primary school education.

Things like free medical coverage or college education leads to needless implementation problems. For example, should an alcoholic smoker be given free medical treatment for diseases caused by his/her choices? How long should medical treatment continue for terminal/vegetative cases? Should college education be free for a course which is not considered "useful" for the society? Who decides what is "useful"?
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Old 19th February 2019, 18:24   #419
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Re: Understanding Economics

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Emotions don't mix well with economics. One has every right to be empathetic towards the poor, and even contribute to their well being. But allow others to opt in/out. Or allow them to do it their way.
Let us state some facts about human beings first:
1) Human beings are emotional creatures
2) Emotional creatures give out emotional responses and outbreaks when they find something "unfair"
3) It is in the self-interest (life safety reasons) of every human being (whether they economically privileged/useful or not) to keep the people emotionally positive
4) Human beings, by nature, are extremely selfish, and social concepts and etiquette (including the definition of fair and unfair) have to be taught from young age using carrot and stick technique


What you suggest will work well once everyone starts raising their children based on pure self-interest driven economic calculations and not based on social norms.

Last edited by alpha1 : 19th February 2019 at 18:26.
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Old 19th February 2019, 18:30   #420
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Re: Understanding Economics

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Same here. My father having worked for Central government used to get a very decent pension, and my mother gets a family pension now.

But I still oppose the concept of defined pensions.

Because the government is paying pensions it will not be able to invest in infrastructure or new jobs. Pension to the old is at the cost of the younger people who need jobs. One person can easily be given a job with my mother's pension.
The pension money is what finances infrastructure, pension schemes are invested in corporate debt that is used to build transport and energy infrastructure. The government shouldn't be involved in job creation, the way they take care of their employees has a direct impact on our finances. The latest round of hikes will mean rising deficit and increased borrowing costs for a few years.
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