You seem to under the assumption that price of good and services is not affected by wages. I guess it would seem that if you increase everyone’s wages, then their standard of living will naturally go up. But if you increase wages, all that will happen is companies will try to start charging more money for their goods and services. Thus if you wanted to really increase standard of living for the poor, you not only need to increase their wages but you would need to control the price of companies.
Essentially, by trying to simply help the wages of the poor but government intervention, you would be giving the government the keys to the economy. Government has never proven capable of running an economy well, so why in the world would you want them to run the entire thing?
I don’t see why it has to be one extreme or the other. Look at how most of the industrialized world lives. Look at Western Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, etc. The poor in these countries are much better taken care of than the American poor.
It’s not just about wages, it’s about what that wage has to buy. People in the rest of the industrialized world don’t have to worry about paying for healthcare, their medications are much cheaper or even free, they don’t have to worry about paying ridiculous amounts of money for university (and in fact in many places in Europe university education is either free or nearly so).
As for whether increasing the minimum wage would increase prices, really hard to say. It’s not just as simple as you describe. There would still be competition between companies, and if some decide to charge more there are at risk of being undercut by competition. The way you’re describing it makes it seem as though the companies are barely getting by, and an increase in minimum wage would mean they would cease to make a profit unless they started charging more for products. That’s absolutely not true. An increase in minimum wage could mean more people can now afford their products, so they may end up making money that way.
I would like to see evidence that the poor in other countries are treated better than they are in America. As far as I can tell, America has the highest standard of living in the world, or at least is right up there at the top. If you can show me some evidence this is not true I will reconsider this notion.
As for paying for university, trust me I understand. I wish I could go to college free. But first of all, it is a bit silly to blatantly criticize the entire U.S. college system, as without a doubt the U.S. has the best universities in the world. There is a reason so many foreign students come here for college. But also on a more fundamental level, who ever said college was a right? You are operating under the assumption that all people have some innate right to get a college degree, which is in my opinion not true. As much as it might suck for some people, we do need people that work minimum wage jobs, as without them our economy would obviously not function. Obviously our education system is far from perfect and there are a lot of things that need to changed, but I don’t think we should go around acting as if we are entitled to a free college education.
The HDI combines three basic dimensions:
Life expectancy at birth, as an index of population health and longevity
Knowledge and education, as measured by the adult literacy rate (with two-thirds weighting) and the combined primary, secondary, and tertiary gross enrollment ratio (with one-third weighting).
Standard of living, as measured by the natural logarithm of gross domestic product per capita
Iceland 0.968 (▬)
Norway 0.968 (▬)
Canada 0.967 (▲ 1)
Australia 0.965 (▼ 1)
Ireland 0.960 (▬)
Netherlands 0.958 (▲ 3)
Sweden 0.958 (▼ 1)
Japan 0.956 (▬)
Luxembourg 0.956 (▲ 9)
Switzerland 0.955 (▼ 3)
France 0.955 (▼ 1)
Finland 0.954 (▼ 1)
Denmark 0.952 (▲ 1)
Austria 0.951 (▲ 1)
United States 0.950 (▼ 3)
Spain 0.949 (▼ 3)
Belgium 0.948 (▼ 1)
Greece 0.947 (▲ 6)
Italy 0.945 (▲ 1)
New Zealand 0.944 (▼ 1)
United Kingdom 0.942 (▼ 4)
Hong Kong 0.942 (▼ 1)
I didn’t criticize the US college system, but the accessibility to it. The best schools are also very expensive. They don’t have to be. Europe, Japan etc. have contributed much in the way of scientific achievement to the world despite having far cheaper (or even free) universities.
As for college being a right or not, it should be for those who are good enough for it. The quality of the school you attend shouldn’t be influenced by how wealthy your family is. And sure you can say that those schools assist poorer families, and they do, but not so much if you’re middle class.
Not to mention that the selection for those types of schools begins early in life, and depends a lot on having parents wealthy enough to send you to private schools, buy you SAT tutors and the like. Education inequality is just another example of inequality in America. Other Western nations do better.
"Included among [basic rights of individuals] is the right and duty of each individual normally to provide the necessities of life for himself and his dependents. . .
“Experience, in fact, shows that where private initiative of individuals is lacking, political tyranny prevails.” Pope John XXIII
And according to that Iran has 0.3 (per 100000) for males 0.1 for females, Syria has 0.2 for males 0.0 for females.
I don’t think you can conclude from that that people in Iran and Syria are happier in general than people in America. Suicide rates may have something to do with how acceptable suicide is in a culture. Maybe countries that are less religious have more suicides because fewer people consider suicide to be sinful.
Maybe not with suicide statistcs, but the meta-study about happiness I linked to earlier in the thread " is based on the findings of over 100 different studies around the world, which questioned 80,000 people worldwide. For this study data has also been analysed in relation to health, wealth and access to education."
No, government does not have the competence to do this. Wherever and whenever government has attempted this it has been a dismal failure. The best thing that governments can do is provide an environment which does not inhibit incentives for private individuals to make charitable efforts.
“Whatever you do to the least of my bretheren you do unto me”
if we walk past a homeless person and not help them we are not helping Christ.
On a personal basis we all have a duty of care for our less fortunate brothers and sisters.
Corporal works of mercy identify this
.Governments should be encouraged to take a caring stance on poverty in the world.
It is an ambiguous title “society’s responsibilty to redistribute property and wealth to make things more balanced” it could be construed in so many ways…politically i.e communism as previous posters have said or Robin Hood syndrome i.e take from the rich and give to the poor.
On a personal level we all have a responsibility forour own actions and our conscience and we should strive to be as Christ-like as possible i.e care for others as in Corporal works of mercy…this is just my humble opinion
Good luck with the paper by the way
I’m uneducated, so my remarks may be taken lightly. Making things more balanced isn’t society’s responsibility. It’s an individual’s responsibility. I will give some of my property to the needy. I’ll fight to the death in order to keep any government from taking away what belongs to the person who earned it. The difference is I give freely without coercion. Government normally uses law or in the extreme force.
This would make sense if every single person in the country worked alone, independently of all others, and made his wealth that way. Then it would truly be his.
As it stands, many people who become truly rich do this on the back of employees who get paid slave wages. Many of society’s leaders are born into wealth, are groomed for positions of power from an early age, secure those positions through connections and so on.
While there are exceptions and people do occasionally rise from the lower classes into the higher, it takes exceptional people to be able to do this. By and large we still have an “aristocracy” and “serfs”. And statistically the biggest predictor of a person’s wealth is the wealth of his parents.
It’s not “taking away” to expect rich people to pay to maintain the system that allows them to enjoy their positions of privilege. It is an injustice that hardworking people have to have multiple jobs simply to be able to pay rent and put food on the table, that’s not even mentioning healthcare and education for their children.
Society needs people to work the “low paying” jobs, might as well pay them a living wage.
While I applaud your anti-envy position, I would recommend that you think hard about exactly what you would “fight to the death” for.
Actually, according to the Christian reading of scripture, it belongs to God.
The question is who is the proper steward. Who should decide how it is disposed?
That wealth is earned through human interaction is obvious to anyone who thinks about.it. But what marxists tend to mistakenly assume is that government is a surrogate for society. The same income earner who relies on society to earn his income is also contributing to society and the incomes of others. Even the rich.
It becomes “taking away” the instant force is applied, as Ben correctly noted, irrespective of the excuses offered for the taking. Taking does not become just merely as a consequence of want or even need.
So give to Caesar what he demands but don’t pretend it has anything to do with justice.