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Kennedy's other speach.
March 12, 2004 12:06 PM   Subscribe

Senator Edward Kennedy gave two magnificent speeches last week, but only one received the attention it deserved. While his blistering attack on the Bush Administration for manipulating and distorting intelligence to justify attacking Iraq was noted in the Washington Post and other papers, the Senator's fiery progressive manifesto--delivered at a New York conference called Re-Imagining the Welfare State--went virtually unreported. "For them the law of the jungle is the best economic policy for America--not equal opportunity, not fairness, not the American dream. Their ideas will inevitably result in a lesser America, and have already meant a growing gulf between rich and poor." (From The Nation)
posted by n9 (45 comments total)

 
There is a link to the speach at the bottom of the page. I agree 150% with Ed... As per my comments on a recent Left and Right thread, I feel like the current economic divide is really a split between people who want everyone to have a chance at a good life and those that are concerned with "me and mine."

Every day I spend a lot of time looking into my 6mo old daughter's eyes and thinking about all of the other parents all over the world doing the same. Beyond politics, isn't the most important thing that we have to do to take care of each other? I feel that this is the idea that drives Kennedy's speech and seems to be the antithesis of whatever ideology is driving the White House.

What do you think?
posted by n9 at 12:11 PM on March 12, 2004


Ayn Rand in love!
posted by Elim at 12:12 PM on March 12, 2004


I feel like the current economic divide is really a split between people who want everyone to have a chance at a good life and those that are concerned with "me and mine."

Well, everybody is concerned with "me and mine," at least to some degree, and will almost certainly look out for their own interests. That's just simply survival instinct I suppose.

The other question (and I won't pretend to know the answer) is: is it possible to give everyone a chance at a good life (whatever that may mean). And even if everyone did have equal opportunites, it dosen't guarantee equal results. Not everybody is smart enough or hard-working enough or lucky enough to be a blazing success. And I say this as someone whose blown every opportunity he's ever had and who makes less than $30K/yr working full time. And I accept that it's my own fault.

It dosen't mean I believe that people should be denied basic neccessities or opportunities, but I honestly think that we could create all kinds of programs like Kennedy describes and we'd still have a lot of the same old problems dogging us.

Camelot is over.
posted by jonmc at 12:28 PM on March 12, 2004


"I remain somewhat disillusioned with Bush's enviromental policies..which is why I give money to PACs and groups to change policy...I just can't be a one issue voter..

Second, no one is America is more upset about the reilgous right getting Bush to basically quash stem cell research...it's horrible for those suffering and its gonna export medical technology development to other nations...you are correct.

Last, I do think John Kerry is all around a nice person...but that does not mean he gets my support to represent the country...he lacks conviction on too many points...

I support a more conservative agenda...but I also try to change my party of choice to reflect a better based value system...even as a shareholder I would be considered liberal in my notions on stewardship and the fact that giving up some profit for a better world is a wonderful tradeoff...

Your bet is booked..!!!!...I just have to hope now the Halliburton scandal does not come to light...but I think it will...sooner or later...

The problem I have with most Dem. policies is that they are more vacuum based philosophy that does not transate to real work application...and considering I went to Phillips Jr. High for two years and was forced to be in the MLK program at the Univ. I can tell you first hand how these social experiments for a Utopian society were utter failures and caused much more harm than good...

People need to see people as people...not classifications...know what I mean...

Heck, you want a piece of my liberal side...here is one for ya..."I, in general, am in faovr of giving state funded education to illegal immigrants..." and although that sounds liberal...it's just good policy in the long run..."

- this is the best a friend of mine could do in explaining why he supports bush
posted by specialk420 at 12:38 PM on March 12, 2004


You can't be a republican unless you really hate someone, it doesn't matter who,
gays, poor people, foreigners, non-christians, whomever, but the hate part is important.
posted by milovoo at 1:11 PM on March 12, 2004


From the original speech:


Tax incentives for outsourcing in current law are especially disturbing. Companies can fully deduct many costs in moving jobs overseas as business expenses, from the cost of establishing new facilities in a foreign country to the cost of paying the foreign workers. There is no reason to have U.S. taxpayers subsidize business decisions that harm American workers. In many respects, the tax code of today gives an unacceptable preference to corporate dollars earned from foreign operations over dollars earned from domestic operations. The reverse should be true. Corporate tax laws should be modified to increase the cost of exporting jobs and decrease the cost of maintaining jobs in America.


Wall Street Journal [subscription required] agrees:

[T]urns out Mr. Kerry is right. Even more compellingly, a couple of conservative economists I called agree with him. "The U.S. tax code definitely provides a strong incentive for sending jobs overseas," says Kevin Hassett, an economist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

[T]he tax code is written in a way that allows companies not to pay the full 35% U.S. corporate tax rate on foreign income when that money remains invested overseas.

Backing up a step, here's how it works before the loophole: A company earns $100 million abroad in Lowtaxistan where the corporate tax rate is 20%. The foreign subsidiary pays that money to the U.S. parent. The parent then pays $35 million to the U.S. government and takes a credit for the 20% (or $20 million) payment to the Lowtaxistan government. So the net to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service is $15 million.

But here's how it works with the loophole: The U.S. subsidiary simply keeps the money offshore and certifies to its accountants that the money is invested overseas. It never remits the money to the parent and so never pays the $15 million extra to Uncle Sam.

[A]s far as I can tell, what is called "active foreign income" has never been taxed at the U.S. rate since the enactment of the corporate tax in the early 1900s.

"[S]o fix it,'' you say.

Ahhh, but that's easier said than done. When two things are of different heights there are two ways to level them. You can cut the higher one down, or raise the lower one up.

In this case, you can end the ability to defer these taxes, effectively raising overall corporate taxes. Or, you could lower U.S. corporate taxes to a more globally competitive level.

"Brilliant," you say, "a U.S. corporate tax cut will end the incentive to go abroad."

Not so fast. As the biggest and best economy in the world, the U.S. is a price maker. We set the standard. A U.S. tax cut might only ignite an international game of tax chicken where all the Lowtaxistans cut their rates below our new, lower rate.

Of course, the revenue will have to be made up elsewhere, which would mean higher individual taxes.

"Hmm, I'm not liking that fix so much. How about ending the loophole? That's the one I really liked in the first place."

You're a hypocrite, and not a very good economist. That would be a great incentive to send corporate headquarters offshore where we couldn't get any taxes from U.S. corporations. It would also hurt our companies who are competing with international competitors. Money will find the lowest tax rate, so if there are incentives to go offshore we must end them, and if ending those incentives means lowering the U.S. corporate tax rate, we must also find a way to pay for that.

posted by MzB at 1:28 PM on March 12, 2004


The big problem in this country today is not that the gap between the rich and the poor is growing. It is not that there are 2 Americas. This is an illusion created by the people who are really in control.

There are 3 Americas - the rich, the middle-class and the poor. Unfortunately, the middle-class think the struggle is 'us-vs-them' and that they're fighting against the 'lazy, greedy, criminal' underclass. The poor know that they haven't got a chance against either the middle class or the ultra-rich.

It is the rich who are laughing all the way to the bank. They are stealing from both the middle-class and the poor, while the middle-class want to fight the poor and the poor just can't fight anyone.

It's a great puppet show, a cave full of shadows. I'm not a communist, but I do believe in equal opportunity for all and I do believe that money==power. People should be allowed to be rich, they just shouldn't be allowed to use that money to buy power and stack the deck in their favor so that they become richer not by working harder, but by changing the system to funnel money their way.
posted by PigAlien at 1:40 PM on March 12, 2004


You can't be a republican unless you really hate someone, it doesn't matter who,
gays, poor people, foreigners, non-christians, whomever, but the hate part is important.


That's just silly, and I say that as a liberal Democrat. Certainly you can be an economic conservative simply by having an opinion, and that's reason enough for some. You can be a social conservative without really hating anybody as well. (You don't hate them, you just think they should live their lives differently.) I'm not denying that a large number of Republicans are haters and I think that it's instructive to note the difference between many extreme conservatives (mostly haters) with extreme liberals (too much compassion, overly optimistic) but your brush is way too broad. The willingness of politicians from both parties (but mostly the Republicans) to ally themselves with outright haters* is deplorable, especially when pandering ensues.

*I'm not including Bush- or Clinton-haters as "haters" for the purposes of this discussion, just xenophobia, homophobia, racism, and religious hatred.
posted by callmejay at 1:45 PM on March 12, 2004



You can't be a republican unless you really hate someone, it doesn't matter who,
gays, poor people, foreigners, non-christians, whomever, but the hate part is important.


If there was a bizarro LGF, that comment would be right at home. Most of the conservatives I know, being a Californian, believe in fiscal conservatism (the classical less government and logically defiant abolishment of any and all taxes) and have no hate for any race, creed or sexual orientation.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:04 PM on March 12, 2004


You don't hate them, you just think they should live their lives differently.

Your main point is well taken, but I think your statement here describes a disrespect that can be as harmful as hatred itself.
posted by rushmc at 2:06 PM on March 12, 2004


No argument here, rushmc.
posted by callmejay at 2:09 PM on March 12, 2004


Most of the conservatives I know, being a Californian, believe in fiscal conservatism (the classical less government and logically defiant abolishment of any and all taxes) and have no hate for any race, creed or sexual orientation.

Too bad they don't have a horse in this race.
posted by goethean at 2:19 PM on March 12, 2004


You don't hate them, you just think they should live their lives differently.

Your main point is well taken, but I think your statement here describes a disrespect that can be as harmful as hatred itself.


Well, I could wish that some people I know, would lay off the drugs and start taking care of themselves. Am I pronouncing moral judgement? Yes, but is that always a negative. (Though, of course, it can be)

You can disrespect people who you view as not living in a right way of life. Now what we consider 'right' of course is up to intereptations, but it's that, not the ability to disrespect democrats, republicans, gays, straights, Christians, Muslims, atheists, Fascist jerks, Nazis, police, druggies, service members, criminals, baby-killers, intolerant murderers. . .that makes it right or wrong. Heck, I have no respect for a lot of choices people make in life.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:40 PM on March 12, 2004


If there was a bizarro LGF, that comment would be right at home.

Try viewing it in the "prove me wrong" sense, not in the "this is the truth" sense, does that help?

Most of the conservatives I know, being a Californian, believe in fiscal conservatism (the classical less government and logically defiant abolishment of any and all taxes) and have no hate for any race, creed or sexual orientation.

Ok, so how's that working out for them? Are they happy with the current leadership?

Heck, if that's all it takes, then I'm a fiscal conservative too. Do you think anyone who pays any taxes actually wants more taxes?
And doesn't it seem like corruption and graft just might be preventing us from getting the efficient government that would cost less
to run?
posted by milovoo at 2:49 PM on March 12, 2004


Maybe Senator Kennedy's speeches don't get much attention because he such an old retread. Does anyone really think Teddy Kennedy matters anymore?
posted by Durwood at 2:54 PM on March 12, 2004


Does anyone really think Teddy Kennedy matters anymore?

We people who have voted for him sure do.

I'm in love with Massachusetts. (With the radio on.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:02 PM on March 12, 2004


In all fairness, and with honesty, Ted Kennedy is a socialist. I DO NOT mean that as an invective, just as a statement of his philosophical principals.
Socialists should get over their cowering about being socialists. They are not alone, for there are many socialists, both here and abroad.

Why should socialists admit to being socialists?

The emphasis of socialism is social policy. The collective good. The conservation of the human resource. It is nothing to be embarrassed about.

What is a problem is how they plan and execute their plans. Socialism has become stagnant in its mechanisms. Too few people have defined what socialism is, or is allowed to be.

Cooperation to achieve an outcome is no longer enough. Cooperation must prove itself to be better than competition, and not just "because." Cooperation 'forced' is worse than voluntary competition. "Government socialism" is almost an oxymoron--corruption is too easy.

The execution of socialist plans has also suffered. It is not enough to simply demand endless resources to support a system, blaming failure on "not enough resources." If it does not work without tremendous ballooning of its costs, there is an inherent flaw within. A profound military axiom warns against "reinforcing defeat."

Socialism can no longer afford to be stubbornly anti-pragmatic.

Two examples: one of socialism stubbornly failing, and the other of a socialist-style program succeeding.

The first is "National Health Care"--a terrible mess compared to the alternatives. "Universality" is not enough to justify such a disaster. To some it is almost a religion, and that is a problem.

The second is the more modern efficiency based health care, which on the surface looks like rationing, but is far from it. After great public input, a list is compiled of medical procedures. At the top are medical procedures both easy to treat and inexpensive, and with greatest benefit to the patient. At the bottom are procedures that are egregiously expensive and don't work.
By eliminating a few procedures that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and don't work anyway, huge amounts of money are pumped into the care system, allowing for greater and greater enrollment.

With the latter system, every person who wants to be part of the system can be, without forcing those who don't. It does not drag down other unrelated programs by taking away the resources they need.

In short, it is a better idea. Not a "traditionalist" socialist doctrine, but a "new" socialist plan. And that is the critical point: socialism needs to grow and change--socialists who embrace 19th Century ideas, just "because", have in truth become enemies of socialism.

Universalism in anything doesn't work. There are always outsiders, individuals who don't fit the standard distribution. And forcing these square pegs into round holes never works, not matter how willing you are to try.

The bottom line is that socialism needs to be updated, rationalized with society and technology, pragmatic enough to change to meet circumstances, economic enough to be self-sustaining without infusions of cash from outside the system, and attractive enough to invite membership without coercion.
posted by kablam at 3:09 PM on March 12, 2004


Maybe Senator Kennedy's speeches don't get much attention because he such an old retread.
Does anyone really think Teddy Kennedy matters anymore?


Obviously, a well-considered critique of the man.
Did you read the article?

How about if we all promise to ignore him from now on, would that make you happy?

Anyone else you think we should ignore?
posted by milovoo at 3:17 PM on March 12, 2004


You have no idea what "universality" means wrt health care.
posted by callmejay at 3:18 PM on March 12, 2004


You can't be a republican unless you really hate someone, it doesn't matter who, gays, poor people, foreigners, non-christians, whomever, but the hate part is important.

Well, I'm not a Republican but if I open my mouth in front of a liberal I usually get called one. I'm a fiscal conservative and I believe big government is exactly what the Constitution was designed to avoid. That being said, I believe in equal opportunity for every person, a social safety net to help those who need a helping hand, and I believe in the right of a person to pretty much do what they want as long as they aren't violating the rights of others.

So who do I hate? Not the poor. Not minorities. Not gays. Oh, you know who I hate . . . people who go around spreading hate about people who tend to take a more conservative view of the world than they do. You know, like people who say that to be a Republican you have to hate people.

If you think Republicans have the market cornered on hate you obviously know nothing about people on the far left of the spectrum. Were those love messages being hurled in the form of molotov cocktails at that anti-Globalisation rallies I watched on TV? I guess those "Bush = Hitler" signs people carried during the anti-war marches were signs of a open minded acceptance of people with differing views.

Let's put it this way, most Republicans have nicer things to say about Ted Kennedy than you do about Bush. Now let's talk about which side is fuled by hate. Hell, I'll even put my money where my mouth is and challenge you to write 1 full page profile of Bush praising his accomplishments and I'll do the same for any liberal figure you want to put forth and then we can compare.
posted by billman at 3:31 PM on March 12, 2004


Thanks for the post n9. I agree with most of what he says too. Too bad its taking this long for people like Kennedy to begin speaking up on the gutting of the manufacturing and now the service sector. I suspect that most people don't realize the political clout lost by the middle class, with the removal of factory jobs to other countries. The unions of the last century were the biggest challenge to the domination of this country by big business. Unfortunately they weren't all that effective to begin with, and outsourcing has crippled what power they did have. It seems a lot harder to organize factions across service industries, than it is within a broad manufacturing sector. Regarding tax loopholes and outsourcing, my feeling is that this can only be fought through the pocketbook. We need to start a national movement identifying and then boycotting companies that are selling out the U.S. working class in favor of fatter dividends to weathy stockholders and CEO's. There are usually more moral companies struggling against their ruthless competition that you could buy your products from. The trouble is people opt to support the Walmarts, and ignore how the few dollars they save on their goods may be costing all of us our standard of living.

I like that at least some high profile Dems (and Republicans too for that matter) are talking about this sort of thing. I suspect, however, that it is just talk. Kerry is accepting donations from a lot of the the same corporations and industries that back Bush.

And on preview, I second what Kablam said.
posted by MetalDog at 3:51 PM on March 12, 2004


Hell, I'll even put my money where my mouth is and challenge you to write 1 full page profile of Bush praising his accomplishments and I'll do the same for any liberal figure you want to put forth and then we can compare.

oh.. ok... so i get to take the graduate level calculus exam - and you get 2 + 2 = ? ... sounds fair to me.

a little word of advice though - don't use the bush administrations version of basic arithmetic ... you'll fail the test.
posted by specialk420 at 4:04 PM on March 12, 2004


You can't be a republican unless you really hate someone, it doesn't matter who,

Of all the stupid things I have read on the Internet, this is certainly one of them.
posted by kindall at 4:14 PM on March 12, 2004


Oh, you know who I hate . . . people who go around spreading hate about people who tend to take a more conservative view of the world than they do.

Wow, your reverse-psychology has made me rethink my whole worldview.

Well, I'm not a Republican but if I open my mouth in front of a liberal I usually get called one. I'm a fiscal conservative ... ... ...

Do you hate, don't you hate, are you a republican or aren't you, sort it out then get back to me.

Read up the thread for my answers to about half your questions and then you can probably guess the rest yourself.

I guess those "Bush = Hitler" signs people carried during the anti-war marches were
signs of a open minded acceptance of people with differing views.


Protests are like that, hyperbole abounds on both sides, does it have anything to do with the discussion, or is that just your stock answer?

Honestly, I have very little good to say about Bush. I think he is corrupt and a liar. I guess the fact that he is not very smart keeps us from the far greater dangers that would be possible if he had half a brain. I don't support gun control, so I guess he accidentally got that right. As for a full page, I'm simply not up to it, besides that's what the web is for, I'm sure someone out there has their own little list. Go find it.
posted by milovoo at 4:26 PM on March 12, 2004


specialk420:

oh.. ok... so i get to take the graduate level calculus exam - and you get 2 + 2 = ? ... sounds fair to me.

Well, thank you for putting forth the extra effort to prove my thesis correct. What, do you think that all liberals are so warm and cuddly there can't be one that a conservative might find indefensable? Funny how saying something nice about Bush is considered graduate level calculus yet the Republicans are the party of hate.

MetalDog:

What kind of car do you drive. Check that label on the inside of the shirt you're wearing. What brand of computer are you typing your message on? Chances are that the answer to all of those questions will result in you finding out that you may not practice what you preach. Even if we're talking about Dell or Apple computers, the parts are mostly manufactured overseas.

I don't mean to paint you into the corner of being a hypocrite. I'm just trying to demonstrate that people don't set out to be greedy and put people out of jobs. I don't think you bought your shirt or your computer or ?? with the intention of being responsible for shipping a US job overseas.

The problem we're facing cannot be solved via simple solutions like boycotts or protectionist legislation. Listen, I work in the tech sector and they're shipping tech jobs off to India so it's not like I'm all happy-go-lucky on this topic but I'm also a realist. I think the best defense is a strong offense so I would much rather see education reform so we could train workers for different skills rather than set off trade wars which might put even more people out of work by pissing off two countries that represent well over 2 billion of the people living on this planet who either are or have the potential to be consumers of goods produced in the US.

milovoo: I guess the comedy here is that either you don't realize how hateful your message sounds or you're attempting to label yourself a Republican.

Protests are like that, hyperbole abounds on both sides, does it have anything to do with the discussion, or is that just your stock answer?

Well, in case you forgot what you said, it seemed that your claim was that Republicans somehow have cornered the market on hate. Now you're claiming it's something shared by both sides. I guess I'm just having trouble following your flip-flopping logic.
posted by billman at 4:56 PM on March 12, 2004


It would also hurt our companies who are competing with international competitors. Money will find the lowest tax rate, so if there are incentives to go offshore we must end them, and if ending those incentives means lowering the U.S. corporate tax rate, we must also find a way to pay for that.

Ahaha this is ...crazy. So either way the corporations should get away with a win-win situation ?

1) If they go, they win thanks to lower cost of production, lower taxation, whatever gives them a better margin (and if you hit them with a import tax they'll scream you're against the free market ideology you communist twit..yeah i'm not sure which ideology is the least based on wishful thinking, communism or free-market-for-us-risks-for-you capitalism)

2) If they stay, -we- (read taxpayers or consumers) should pay either way, by increased prices, lower wages, reduced welfare or by increased taxation (or deferred taxation known as deficit)

If any corporation or little company X does little to

1) produce jobs in my country and help keep my people if not happy at least well fed, healthy and not in psycological state of permanent fear and depression
2) actually lower the costs of goods or give more utility per dollar spent

what is the point of creating welfare for industries that don't help, but _run away_ to another country when they think the national boat is sinking (not giving them the profit they want ) ?

After all they retain the extra-profits from market and that's enough already , if they can't make profits its their failure, not mine.

If they don't agree they may as well enjoy the warm embrace of other countries that will as soon as possible get rid of them to make room for local enterpreneurs, more related to country problems because they actually live in the country or have relations with the local people, if not only vested interests. Unfair ? That's business the way it is.
posted by elpapacito at 5:09 PM on March 12, 2004


After all they retain the extra-profits from market and that's enough already , if they can't make profits its their failure, not mine.

So do you approve of that same attitude towards individuals who fail?

I'm always curious about people who take the us vs. them attitude and then can't reason why the "them" always seem to be protecting themselves against the "us." Conflict is normally a two way street. If every employee was held to similar standards as those suggested for corporations:

1) produce jobs in my country and help keep my people if not happy at least well fed, healthy and not in psycological state of permanent fear and depression
2) actually lower the costs of goods or give more utility per dollar spent


I think a fair comparison might be:

1) Actively contribute to the profitablity of the corporation. Not just show up for work but actively attempt to maximize profits.
2) Be willing to take pay cuts and make other concessions during lean times.

So it seems that, for the most part, corporations fail employees/public and the employees/public fail the corporations. Does it really matter who failed who first at this point? I don't think so. I think both parties need to get on the same side of the table and align their goals. The labor vs. management philosophy is outdated and needs to be discarded. Unfortunately, it's somewhat the chicken and the egg. No union will offer to make sacrafices for management until management offers to make sacrafices to the labor and management won't make sacrafices to labor until labor makes sacrafices to management.
posted by billman at 5:30 PM on March 12, 2004


I'm a fiscal conservative and I believe big government is exactly what the Constitution was designed to avoid.

Yes you are right about that. Unfortunately our forefathers had no idea that Big Business would become scarier than Big Government. We need government controls so that we can be assured of the safety of the water that we drink, the air that we breath, the food that we eat, the pills that we swallow, and the money we put in our retirement account.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:33 PM on March 12, 2004


Secret Life of Gravy: Don't get me wrong. I think there's a difference between providing safety and Big Government. I think the danger in BG is that it removes responsibility from the citizens. For instance, I would rather pay taxes in my local community to assist a family living in poverty than pay taxes to the federal government who is currently spending $40,000 a year to provide aid to each family marked as living below the poverty level. I have a vested interest in making my community a better place and so I am more committed to finding effective solutions. When we turn over that responsiblity to the government, IMHO, society then begins to place the burden on the government to perform and when it doesn't it simply shrugs its collective shoulders.

There are many things that should be done at the federal and state levels too (some of which you pointed out) but the emphasis should be on whether or not they can do the job better. Currently the bar is set at who can legally justify the power grab rather than who can best perform the function.

Think about it, for almost all of the major functions that are in the hands of BG, how many of them are getting worse rather than better? Poverty? Education? There is almost absolutely no correlation between money spent by the government and results in these areas so why do politicians always claim that the solution is to spend more? If I was seeing results instead of watching the problem get worse I might be inclined to open my checkbook. Contrary to popular belief amongst many liberals, being a fiscal conservative simply means that when you give the government a dollar you want to see a dollar's worth of services returned to the citizens. When someone like myself complains about taxes it's not because I don't care about education, poverty, etc., it's because I know that even if the tax rate was 100% we still wouldn't solve the problems using the methods we're currently employing.

Many people quote Ben Franklin as saying:

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty or safety..."

It's been commonly referred to as a protest to things like the Patriot Act but what Franklin was actually talking about was BG (or at least what he thought was BG in his day). His quote is best put into context via another one of his comments:

"Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."

Now walk into city hall in any major city and tell me whether you feel more like the master or the servant.
posted by billman at 6:11 PM on March 12, 2004


Billman, I didn't intend to give any holier than thou impression, and I am not denying that I purchase goods from the types of companies I described. My main point is that as a class, people like you and me need to start thinking of ways to fight back, and the thing that would get the most notice is voting with your wallet where possible. Not coincidentally, this would likely strengthen the economy as much as anything else. In my experience, the competition to the large multinational is often a local entrepreneur. Take PC's for example, it's true I am typing on a Dell right now, but only because I am at wor. . . errrr not at home. My personal computer is purchased from a local shop, and is not a national brand. True, many components are manufactured in foreign countries, but it is assembled in my hometown, by someone that went through the same tech school I did. The same holds true for clothing and food. Yes, I often end up buying clothing I suspect is made in some sweatshop in Bangladesh, especially with regard to shoes. But I also relish supporting local business at swap meets and farmers markets when possible. I may end up paying a little more, but when I take into account the larger social costs of supporting Dell, or ConAgra, it seems worth it. Encouraging small business and entrepreneurship at the expense of big business seems like a win win to me.

As for my car, I drive a Neon, not sure where it is manufactured, although I suspect much of it is in Mexico. Unfortunately, (really) I have never been able to afford (at least without uncomfortable amounts of debt) a new car. There have been two startup automobile businesses in my state in the last 10 years, that I know of, both building electric cars. Neither took off. I suspect if you look around, you could find similar ventures in your area. I can't think of anything that would cause more consternation among the corporate elite of this country, (and me, more personal glee) than a popular consumer move away from gas hogging SUV's built in Mexican factories by people making less than U.S. minimum wage, and toward electrics or hybrids built in small towns by all these out of work tech people in this country.

I don't see how education reform addresses this issue. At its heart, it really is about greed. Health care, and wages are what is being sacrificed for the surge in corporate profits over the last decade. The corporations are cutting these costs by moving manufacturing to countries where they do not have to pay as much. They are taking wealth from the poor of this country, exploiting the poor of another country, and keeping the profit for themselves. I don't think asking U.S. companies to have a little social responsibility will set off trade wars. If we don't start demanding it, we will lose those middle class jobs anyway. The U.S. government has never sponsored any progressive legislation or initiative that it was not forced to by near open revolt of enough of the populace. Right now the government is almost completely in the hands of big business. If we want progress, we need to rebel against the real source of power.

On preview, I didn't mean to ramble so long, but I have been bothered by this, and I know this is only marginally related to Ted Kennedy's speech. But if there is anything to this meme business, I'd like to propagate this one.
posted by MetalDog at 7:56 PM on March 12, 2004


I don't see how education reform addresses this issue.

Education is crucial to training people for jobs. Alan Greenspan recommended as much just today.

At its heart, it really is about greed. Health care, and wages are what is being sacrificed for the surge in corporate profits over the last decade.

Again, I think this is the easy way out. In California workman's comp has increased nearly 500% in just the last few years. In many cases, this greed you refer to is the difference between staying in business or folding and having even more people out of work. Stories like this one are far more common than many would like to believe. Are many companies doing it simply to squeeze out extra profit? Sure. But it doesn't mean that all outsourcing is driven by greed and this is an issue with the infrastructure of the US economy that needs to be dealt with. It needs to be dealt with, as I said previously, with both management and labor aligned rather than name calling and this "you're just a greedy bastard" type of negotiation. Believe me, if it's made to be a competition between labor and management and management has an out (i.e. it can move offshore) labor will lose.

They are taking wealth from the poor of this country, exploiting the poor of another country, and keeping the profit for themselves.

Exploiting the labor of another country? Yes, sometimes (especially in textiles) but are you telling me that the programmer in India making 4x the average wage of his fellow citizens is being exploited? How about the guy in Mexico working a factory job getting paid an above average wage for his country? Again, I think you rely on these rhetorical arguments too much. In many places we're greatly improving the living conditions of the local people. I am as much against sweatshops as anyone here but there are many, many industries where US outsourcing is having a significant positive impact on the standard of living of those employed by the US company. This "exploited" argument only works if you can make it seem like every outsourced job is going to some 11 year old kid working 27 hours a day for .10 a week. Once you dig past the rhetoric it's a much more balanced story and while I agree that we should do what we can to drive out abusive practices, it's a good thing for those on the receiving end.

I don't think asking U.S. companies to have a little social responsibility will set off trade wars.

Do you watch the news at all? Did you miss the steel tariffs dispute? We're already demonized around the world because we protect farmers and certain industries. I'm fairly certain that making it official policy that we're going to protect all of our industries from the evils of foreign products would pretty much set off a trade war against the US.

If we don't start demanding it, we will lose those middle class jobs anyway.

See the point about education.

If we want progress, we need to rebel against the real source of power.

Uh, well, you could always start by not buying foreign manufactured or imported products. Why do we need a revolution when you hold the power right in your own wallet?

Now before I sound too much like I'm in favor of outsourcing, I'm simply trying to show the flaws in some of the statements you've made. If the problem is "Business" and instead of making concessions you want to force your solution down their throat, you will lose. I mean, just think about it at the most basic level. Who do you want to negotiate with; US employees who view as the most evil bastard to ever walk the face of the earth . . . or some company in India who is jumping through hoops to earn your business. That's just reality, man. Your solutions all seem to stem from a strategy of the weak conquoring the strong. That usually doesn't work out in the long run. All I'm saying is that if the strategy was changed perhaps more positive results might be possible. Just from a common sense point of view, that weak over the strong thing failed for manufacturing and textiles so why do you think it's suddenly going to produce an different outcome? Even you don't buy into your own anger 100% because you buy cheap imported products unless you happen to have a handy alternative.
posted by billman at 9:42 PM on March 12, 2004


I think the best defense is a strong offense so I would much rather see education reform so we could train workers for different skills

I have heard this said over and over and over again. Exactly WHAT are they going to be trained to do? Since this administration would like to see fast food jobs reclassified as a manufacturing positions....the only thing I can think of are grants to Ronald McDonald University.....Wait what was I thinking??? They will offer student loans for RMU! Wouldn't want to rob another corporation of it's ability to make a profit at an American's expense!
posted by SweetIceT at 10:25 PM on March 12, 2004


SweetIceT: Well, first off we might consider reducing government backed student loans to people who want to chase majors that have no earnings potential. I have a friend who graduated from a good college with a degree in Women's Studies. She's a secretary making less than $30k a year. Think I'm being hard on Women's Studies? Her comment to me was; "I'm trying to save up to go back to school and get a real degree. Taking Women's Studies was the dumbest thing I've ever done."

Now flip through the majors being offered at most colleges and look at how many people they graduate with those majors. I think we need to nudge people toward the sciences and other degrees that have earnings potential so we don't strap generation after generation with $75,000 student loans while pushing them into the workforce with degrees that will earn them only slightly more than someone who went straight from high school into the work force.

Actually, for a slightly different take on the issue, here's an interesting read on IT outsourcing and economics in general which is worth a read:

http://trends.newsforge.com/trends/04/03/07/1744213.shtml
posted by billman at 11:04 PM on March 12, 2004


With all due respect, billman (I agree with much of what you say), the whole 'liberal arts education is a waste of money' is a myth. Trust me, I lived in NYC shortly after graduating from college and almost every single last one of my friends who are now extremely well-paid management at investment banks and drug companies graduated with liberal arts degrees.

Meanwhile, my friends who had degrees in the sciences. Well, many of them are low-paid tech lab assistants and whatnot.

It is not what you study in college or even what you do with what you study in college that makes a difference. It is what you want to do after you graduate, how much you believe in yourself and who you are willing to sell yourself to.

The problem with your outlook is it doesn't encourage people to follow their dreams. It tells them that if they follow their dreams, they'll be losers and that to win they have to conform.

People will be more successful in any job, in any field, with any degree and any amount of student loans if they believe in what they're doing and they believe in themselves.
posted by PigAlien at 8:25 AM on March 13, 2004


Oh, and as for myself, I studied German for my B.A. and Political Science for my M.Sc. How have I done? Well, I started earning six figures when I was 25 and had traveled to 39 countries by the time I was 30 and lived in 4 countries on 3 continents.

I came from a middle-middle class background. My parents had no money to lavish on me and I had no trust account.

How did I do it? I programmed computers. I did what I loved doing. I also did what I loved doing in College, which was study language. Computer or human, language is language and that is how I have made my money.

Why did I do so well? Because my parents always encouraged me to pursue my dreams. When I told them I was studying German, they said, "Great! You are excellent at German and that is terrific that you are doing what you love and what you are good at. You will always be a success in our eyes."

My parents taught me to believe in myself and that is why I am successful. Unfortunately, parents are not always as wonderful or supportive as mine, but that is why we need to be supportive of people as a society because all of our welfare hangs in the balance together.
posted by PigAlien at 8:33 AM on March 13, 2004


Re: education

Another quote from the speech (I would like to see this argument more often):
In this economy with its churning labor market, security comes not through the guarantee of the same job throughout your career, but through the ability to find a new job with at least comparable salary and benefits if you lose your old job.

In general people do not like risk and they are willing to pay a premium to avoid it. This is why we have a safety net and we pay the Medicare and Social Security taxes. In my view the safety net should include: retirement, medical, unemployment and educational benefits. There is a lot of discussion regarding the first three and each country has its own way of doing things. However little attention is given to the last one.

Helping young students it is not enough (or necessarily helpful - as billman's example shows). If they got on the wrong career, they have to go to college again or wait for another chance in the next life. Basically, the education system we have is badly lagging any business changes.

Another risk comes from one loosing his/her job after 20 years of work in the same industry, without being able to find a new work place. Going back to college is not helping too much: s/he would have to spend about one semester just to adapt to the academic system.

Most firms are not interested in providing skills that can be used outside the companies. Yes, they provide training for the skills for a specific job, they even provide training for skills that can be used for other jobs inside the same company (e.g. MBA’s), but they have no interest in providing skills for another industry (very useful if one gets fired). However, they like to be able to hire workers with the right skills. It is a typical example of tragedy of commons, and it is true for any public good: everybody wants it; nobody wants to pay for it.

People try to get around this issue by looking for general skills, that’s why MBA’s are popular. Unfortunately, the only working solution for the tragedy of commons we come up with is the government intervention (hopefully, when implemented properly minimizes inefficiencies).

What, I think, we need is some sort of "universal continuous education". Let's say, one day per week to be dedicated to learning new things, maybe towards a degree. If one day per week seems too much, let’s think about it: 52 training days in a year (about two months), 520 training days in ten years, that is roughly the equivalent of a two-year program in ten years. One might need another two-year program in order to successfully find a job in different industry.

Of course, the amount of education needed depends on the industry, on the knowledge already accumulated, and, mainly, on each individual. Also, it does not necessarily mean that Friday will be "training day", people can study during evening, during weekends or take several months off every now and then. Some professional associations have already implemented such programs: if you want to remain a member of this association, you have to attend (for example) two seminars every year.

Who decides what should be taught? Firms will steer their workers towards what they can use later on; people have a tendency of selecting easy courses just to be able to get a degree (the signaling problem); a typical university degree is not up to date or flexible enough. I believe the answer is somewhere in the middle: people choosing a semi-flexible, modular degree offered by teaching institutions (not necessarily a university). Workers would be studying to get a new job (or a promotion) with a firm, so companies already influence the processes, they should not decide what is on the syllabus.

Who should pay for the training? Put everything on the worker and s/he will choose not to train, have the worker pay nothing and s/he will might pursue a hobby instead of job skills/knowledge, have the money coming though the government and we will add inefficiencies. Again, my opinion is that the solution is a compromise: companies should provide part of the money since they are already forcing their employees to get skills for the current job, the government is useful by providing a loan, loan that should motivate the worker to get useful skills.

As you can see, there is nothing new here, some of these ideas are already in place. What is different is the argument that education should be part of the social safety net, everybody should have access to "continuous education", including Wal-Mart associates and steel workers.

What surprises me is that Greenspan is the only influential official arguing for better education, twice during the last month. Unfortunately, newspapers focus on the tax and lost jobs debates, the short-term issues. If the education issue is not going to be raised during this election, four more years are going to be lost.
posted by MzB at 8:37 AM on March 13, 2004


Heck, I have no respect for a lot of choices people make in life.

That's not a problem. The problem is when you decide to take it upon yourself to make their choices for them.
posted by rushmc at 9:34 AM on March 13, 2004


With all due respect, billman (I agree with much of what you say), the whole 'liberal arts education is a waste of money' is a myth.

I didn't say that liberal arts is a waste of money. I said, that we should help steer people away from degrees with poor employment prospects. My suggestion regarding pulling government guarantees on student loans for some majors was simply one suggestion being thrown out there. But really, how many jobs are out there for people with Women's Studies or Chicano Studies or ?? majors. Go to Monster, it's not a lot. What I'm talking about is, we as a nation, deciding what is and is not a good investment of our tax dollars in regards to funding education. If your family has money and wants to pay for you to take basket weaving as a major, fine. But if you're asking for me (as a taxpayer) to pay for that major and then having you go out into the workforce to make $28,000 a year saddled with a monster of debt service then I don't think it's a wise investment and it's probably unethical of me to even encourage it.

There's some very interesting data that I think applies. Asian-Americans tend to outperform all other ethnic classes (including whites) economically. Now, do you want to start taking a wild guess what majors are dominated by Asian-Americans in our colleges? If you said something like Mathematics, Economics, Computer Science, etc. you're right. Not surprisingly, those professions tend to pay pretty well and have somewhat universal demand. On the other hand, the worst paying job prospects tend to center around the Social Sciences and Humanities majors where many of these new, non-traditional majors tend to be categorized.

Listen, I'm not saying that people shouldn't study what they want or have any restrictions placed on them. What I'm saying is that up until this point in our history, we've said that a college education is a guarantee to a good job. That is no longer universally true. As such, the government has an obligation to quit perpetuating that myth. Whether that be by placing quotas on how many loans they will guarantee for X major or by some other means is a point for debate but the need to better arm our citizens with the tools they need to compete in the US job market as well as the battlefield of global competition is something that I feel is a wise use of our government resources.

And BTW, I don't doubt that, for some, their major doesn't matter but for many it does. My friend is an example of someone stuck in a deadend career path because she thought that she was empowering herself by studing about women's issues. On the other hand, I know people without a college degree making six figures because they spent several years teaching themselves Oracle or C++ programming. What I'm suggesting is not meant to (nor do I think it does) penalize the later types of people, it simply gives the former a greater incentive to take the path with the greatest likelyhood of a positive outcome.
posted by billman at 12:14 PM on March 13, 2004


"I said, that we should help steer people away from degrees with poor employment prospects. But really, how many jobs are out there for people with Women's Studies or Chicano Studies or ??"


billman, you missed my point entirely. There is NO SUCH THING as a degree with poor employment prospects.

If your friend chose to do Women's Studies to empower herself and now finds herself saddled with debt and stuck in a dead-end career path, that has nothing to do with what she studied.

The old adage that you can't get a job without a college education is true not because of what you study in college, but because of what you LEARN and DEMONSTRATE in college. You learn how to be a critical thinker and you demonstrate that by graduating (with decent grades, hopefully).

Again, as I said before, there are plenty of people who studied math, engineering, etc. who are stuck in dead-end career paths making no money.

Of course, jobs in the sciences often require a degree in the sciences because specialized knowledge is required. However, there are plenty of jobs that don't require specialized knowledge and those jobs can be just as lucrative if not moreso than technical jobs.

You've got to remember this: science majors make more money straight out of college, but generally eschew management positions; liberal arts majors make less money straight out of college, but if they choose a management track can make much more money in the long run.

Drive through any ultra-wealthy subdivision and I can guarantee you the majority of homeowners are management, owners and not technical people. The obvious exception is professionals such as doctors, lawyers, et al, who have advanced degrees and highly specialized knowledge.

You don't require a degree in anything to start your own business and anyone with a liberal arts education should have the wherewithal to start his or her own business.
posted by PigAlien at 2:58 PM on March 13, 2004


PigAlien: I understand exactly what your point is, I simply don't think it is something you can blanket people with. Believe me, I'm a firm believer in the fact that we are what we make of ourselves. I don't usually shed many tears for my IT brethren who still refuse to expand their skills in the face of outsourcing and instead demand that businesses halt their activities. I think it's childish and immature behavior to expect that the world owes you anything. Now, that being said, I also think that you have to help people from harming themselves. If people are going to continue to think that a college education is the key to a high paying career I think we should help ensure that it is by nudging them towards majors that have high paying career potential. I'm looking at it from a practical standpoint though; I don't want to be on MeFi 10 years from now and have 50x the number of people complaining about the lack of career opportunities for those with general liberal arts degrees :-)

You don't require a degree in anything to start your own business and anyone with a liberal arts education should have the wherewithal to start his or her own business.

In theory this is true but considering that many college grads can't balance their checkbooks and that business and economics are not required GE courses of study, it's not very likely. It can happen but on a percentage wise basis it isn't exactly something you can go out and base policy on.
posted by billman at 5:39 PM on March 13, 2004


"nudging them towards majors that have high paying career potential."

EVERY major has a 'high paying career potential'.

You are confusing what people are studying with what they are doing after they graduate.

For example, people who teach English generally don't get paid very well. To teach English, you generally need a degree in English.

However, if you studied English, there are plenty of highly-paid careers that you can get into if you are willing to do something besides teach English and are also willing to undergo on-the-job training.

Most companies only want you to have ANY college degree. They don't care WHICH college degree.

The problem isn't people who choose the wrong major, the problem is with people who choose the wrong job.

You major does not equal your career, even though many people think so.
posted by PigAlien at 9:45 PM on March 13, 2004


and boy, its way past my bedtime. pardon my typos!
posted by PigAlien at 9:46 PM on March 13, 2004


Most companies only want you to have ANY college degree. They don't care WHICH college degree.

You cannot get a job as an economist without a degree in economics. You cannot become a mathematician without a degree in mathematics. You cannot become a nurse without studying nursing. Wow, those happen to be high paying professions. But you are correct. I can become a secretary with a liberal arts degree.

I think we're saying similar things but I get the feeling you're trying to double define the terms. High paying careers typically require specialized degrees. Jobs that simply ask for any type of degree tend not to pay as well. If the goal is to guide people on a path that doesn't lead to easily outsourced jobs then "any degree" isn't anywhere near as good as a very specific, highly specialized degree.
posted by billman at 11:11 PM on March 13, 2004


billman, we're not on the same track. You are limiting yourself. You say 'high paying careers typically require specialized degrees' and I will CATEGORICALLY REFUTE THAT.

Economists can have their degrees in economics, nurses their degrees in nursing and mathematicians their degrees in mathematics and it has NO BEARING WHATSOEVER on the fact that a person with a degree in English can graduate and go to work for Corporation XYZ in their entry-level management track position and end up being CEO some day.

Nor are you required to have any particular degree to go to law school.

A friend of mine studied journalism and is now a partner in a hedge-fund and a self-made multi-millionaire at the age of 30.

To say a person with a liberal arts education can become a secretary is moronic. Almost anyone can become a secretary, including people with degrees in nursing, mathematics and economics.

I suspect you must have one of these 'highly specialized degrees' and don't realize your own subconscious bias.

I, as I have said, have a liberal arts degree. I have one of the most useless liberal arts degrees - German. That didn't stop me from making 6 figures by the time I was 25.
posted by PigAlien at 6:59 AM on March 14, 2004


And by the way, these aren't just isolated examples. I don't want to bore anyone with a long list of my friends with liberal arts degrees who are wildly successful now, but it certainly is a large number.

Just to give the opposite example, I have a friend who did graduate with a degree in ECONOMICS (one of those specialized degrees you seem to love) and what did she end up doing? She was publisher of 3 major British magazines and earning well over $100,000/yr before starting her own business at the age of 31.

"What does publishing magazines have to do with economics," you ask? NOTHING -- and that's my point.
posted by PigAlien at 7:14 AM on March 14, 2004


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