Goo : There are many things about human beings that impress me. Foremost is their social cohesion and their ability to assist others of their own kind. My fellow numbats by contrast are very territorial, independent, born loners. We only get together at mating time. Humans by contrast maintain long-term relationships in social groups (families/ villages) and the small groups are capable of working together on large long-term projects which benefit for the group, not just the individual.
Kinkajou : An interesting comment, seeing humans from a distance and seeing their nature.
Human Social Cohesion
Erasmus : Yet, I believe we have not even begun to scratch the potential of what we can achieve cooperatively. There is still much that we can achieve together.
For example, look at the Australian social care system. A small payment is made to someone to give them an incentive to be a carer for a more disabled person. It is within the financial and logistical capacity of the Social Security system. The problem for society is that it is economically unviable to “fully” pay carers for the work they do. This system only provides a small incentive payment but as a care provision mechanism it works very well.
Many people do not work solely for money. There are other rewards as well: a role in other people’s lives and a role within the social matrix, likely greater than they could otherwise achieve. The carers gain a form of status in effect. People with disabilities receive the assistance they require. The system also provides socialisation and limits isolation for disabled individuals.
Unemployed Centrelink Social Security
Kinkajou : I think many people still require more help than this system would provide. One thing society assumes is that many people are capable of making sensible informed decisions and are capable of budgeting their financial resources appropriately.
Erasmus : For many people, making complex decisions is just not something they are capable of. For example, many people can be intellectually challenged, and have limited insight and judgement even though technically they fall within the range of normal human behaviours.
I remember one woman who was standing in front of me in the line waiting to be served at Red Rooster. She asked the girl behind the counter for 21 “chicken packs”. (This is a combination of a portion of roast chicken and chips.) The girl behind the counter was quite surprised by the order. She asked the woman why the woman wanted so many chicken packs. The woman replied Monday to Sunday, breakfast, lunch and dinner. The girl (employee) behind the counter was horrified. She asked the woman why not have some cereal for breakfast. The woman replied that she did not know how to cook cereal.
Kinkajou : I think your example demonstrates how limited some of our “normal” citizens are. Many have not been taught to look after themselves. To some extent I would blame the school system. While teaching them “intellectual” skills is important, it neglects the fact that many people need to be taught “survival “skills as well. I hear one school in Brisbane decided that its female students should not have to do cooking classes because it supports stereotypic sexist behaviour.
The reality is that both boys and girls both need to be taught to cook.
Human Dumb Evolution
Erasmus : Yes, I remember when one of my children asked me “dad, how do you boil and egg?”
Kinkajou : People may have poor judgement for lots of reasons.
Erasmus : True. Many people have problems that force them to make “bad choices”. For example, people who smoke or people who have drug addictions will often spend their Social Security money on cigarettes or drugs. They often neglect to buy food. Poor nutrition accelerates brain dysfunction, (in Paill theory).This means that progressively with time these addicts become less able to look after themselves and less able to break out of their addiction.
The concept of giving people money and requiring them to make their own decisions just doesn’t work for these people with addiction problems. They will always vote to feed their addiction first. These people wake up one day with no food in their homes, and often have many days until the next payment. Essentially, they end up being hungry for quite some time unless someone takes pity on them and feeds them. Unfortunately, providing emergency food relief while essential, rewards inappropriate behaviour and encourages these people to continue their bad habits.
In our computerised world, it should be possible to allocate money to appropriate purposes. Especially for people who have come into conflict with drug related legal issues. People need to pay for their accommodation. People need to pay for their food. People need to pay their bills such as electricity bills and the telephone bill. Some people cannot do this.
Kinkajou : So you are saying that society needs to budget for people who do not have adequate mental capacity to make their own sensible choices or whose brains are tilted to making inappropriate choices, (such as people with addictions).
Erasmus : For people who are living in difficult circumstances as result of their poor choices, I think society needs to look after these people and to “dictate” their choices. If after paying your bills you have $20 a week left in your pocket, the capacity to get into trouble with finances is substantially reduced.
It becomes obvious that we need to assess people’s capacity to successfully undertake activities of daily living (ADL). Where a deficit exists, society needs to take responsibility for the care / training of these people.
Homeless Person End Of Road
Kinkajou : Difficulties in people’s lives can often provide a tipping point for their ability to cope. Divorce, lack of employment, medical problems or illness, legal issues, and criminal problems can all trigger a slide into oblivion.
Human Divorce Hopelessness
Erasmus : The Paill belief of Dr Xxxxx is that while a person may have problems, many problems such as limited intellect or addiction issues are not genetic. These “affected” people are capable of having children who are able to function well in society, much better than their parents. Many of the deficits exhibited by people are the result of environmental damage to people’s brains, not due to genetics. Children of even these people with problems may well carve out a different destiny.
Human Divorce Life Difficulties
Kinkajou : The difficulties the children face in their lives often gives them an incentive to ensure that they are not forced to live in the same difficult circumstances as their parents. Society needs to look after people who are temporarily disadvantaged or temporarily in difficulties because they can return to society and once again become functioning members of that society.
They need to be protected from the consequences of poor nutrition as much as possible. The better the level of function of society’s members, I think the better of we (society) will be. We can all better share the fruits of society’s labours, not just be relegated to getting handouts.
So maybe you would say the prison system gives people good nutrition and helps preserve their brain function.
Human Illness Health
Erasmus : There is more benefit than simple nutrition potentially to be gained from the prison system. When people offend, they can be rehabilitated. Most people are given a chance or chances to turn their lives around and to provide themselves with security, enjoyment and fulfilment.
Offenders are often offenders due to their circumstances and even their medical problems. For instance much crime is related to drug use. If someone’s life is changed by being able to have and hold a job, they have new choices. They can develop commitments in terms of relationships, jobs and children.
The main factor stopping drug use is not “personal choice” but in having a support system, responsibilities, commitments and bills, people around them to motivate them. (In essence no time and money to get too involved in their addictions). The drug use may well fade into the background as a problem. People often wake up 10 years down the track with their life becoming a success. They often wonder how they got there.
Good Nutrition Health
Kinkajou : Drugs can make people homeless. Even more tragically “homelessness” can keep you “homeless”.
Erasmus : Right On! Many people become homeless often for small parts of their lives. I remember talking to a homeless person whose circumstances related to his drug problems. He told me that one of the difficult things to do when living on the street, is to have a shower.
Such a simple problem, is something we do not supply to people. How can you get a job if you cannot turn up to the job clean? How can you get a job if you cannot wash and iron your clothes? How can you get a job offer if no one can ring you at home? How do you recharge a mobile phone if you have limited access to electricity? Where can you safely store what meagre possessions you have?
People are often homeless for parts of their lives. I don’t think it will be possible to completely eliminate this problem. Children will run away from home and couch surf at the houses of their friends or acquaintances. People, who lose their job especially in countries such as the USA, can be instantly relegated to very difficult circumstances indeed. It is easy to get into debt and very hard to get out of it.
Once they cannot pay the mortgage for their home, “generally the bank” re-possesses their house. And now they are homeless and have lost most of their possessions as well. To recover from this is an almost impossible proposition, especially for many people on very ordinary wages.
We often provide food to homeless people, but there are other needs that these people have which we must also provide for if they are to have a chance to rehabilitate themselves. The ability to stay clean is important.
The ability to work, even for a basic amount of money, would provide these people with the capacity to improve their lot in life. I think the availability of work is a basic human right.
While our economic system demands some social mobility in terms of people looking for work and transferring between jobs, it should be recognised that many of the jobs available are not accessible for many of the people who are unemployed. If you can’t earn money, you are stuck in poverty forever.
Homeless Man Seeking work money
Kinkajou : Many people actually may not want to work. We focus a lot on improving people’s lives, but it is important to recognise that some people are happy with doing the absolute minimum necessary to get by. You can only help people so much. The yearning to strive higher must come from within.
Erasmus : Yes a friend of mine ran a work crew on a building project. Absenteeism ran to about 50% on the average day. When paid, a number of the workers would disappear for a while and only return to work when they were good and hungry and broke.
I suppose the obvious incentive system required is to allocate people into part-time positions where they can meet their basic needs but can choose the extent to which they wish to participate in the “rat race”. People can then choose their own level of engagement with the goals of the rat race. A job responsibility is a better direction to go than just giving out food vouchers.
Kinkajou : Many people do not have the mental capacity to do many jobs.
Erasmus : We talk a lot about value-added industries and the growth in new jobs in the New World order. However many people are incapable of doing complex tasks within the New World. So to provide jobs for people, there needs to be available a range of very simple jobs including process work or factory work to meet the needs of people were not suited to higher-level tasks.
I remember one person working for me was a painter. He was an excellent hard worker. However, every day he would open up a new paintbrush because he had forgotten that he had opened up one the day before.
His brain was severely damaged through excess alcohol use for many years. His ability to make judgements and to function was very limited. But he was still capable of undertaking tasks such as painting, in fact to a better level than many “normal” people.
I remember a quote from a book I once read. “We do not waste willing flesh.” It becomes part of a social responsibility to ensure that these people are able to live their lives at these basic financial levels. These people should not be taken advantage of or exploited. This should be the crux of the social responsibility of a social network. (Society).
Human Social Matrix
Goo : I see that hopelessness can arise from many reasons. You seem to be saying that it is society’s responsibility to give people the capacity to escape from hopeless situations which may come about in their lives.
Erasmus : Much of the work of our society requires to function, cannot be paid for at typical work rates. The health sector is a glaring example of this. Many activities in the health sector are manned by unpaid volunteers. The system simply cannot afford to pay them a living wage.
There are three solutions to this problem. The USA solution: just pay them less. Alternatively, the” free” volunteer or people who have been directed by Social Security to work for free as part of a work for the dole scheme. Both solutions may have a role to provide people with choices to escape hopeless situations. The Australian system gives them a benefit to motivate people to undertake these”care”tasks.
The caveat on this type of activity is that people are able to choose how much and how hard they work. This makes it achievable even for people with for example medical problems to function as a component of society. I have seen Multiple Sclerosis affected people still able to work as a carer.
It seems ridiculous that there are many jobs that people do for free for the benefit of society while many people in Australia especially sit on the dole because they cannot find work.
Factory Work basic
Kinkajou : Isn’t it the job of the tax system to provide basic benefits to the hopeless.
Erasmus : There are many things that can be done to improve the social situation of the individual. The taxation system focuses on handouts. Those who work must support those who do not, will not or cannot.
I think there needs to be a distinction made here between the deserving and the undeserving poor. There is no point giving handouts to people who do not “want” to work. That achieves nothing except breeding a new generation of people who don’t want to work. The handout from society for people who do not want to work should be “motivation”. It’s cheap and can be engineered into the social matrix.
There is a "life-decision" issue for some people who can't see their way clear to working enough to afford to rent accommodation. You can live a lot cheaper, if you don't have to pay for a place to live.
So perhaps we need to accept this as a valid choice and allow free community housing at 5m2 (45 sq ft.) of space: room for a mini-bed, microwave and some basic utilities; and then access to community wash facilities. The 5 sq metre rental is not a choice anywhere, but perhaps should be. Choosing "basic: necessities as a mode of life can be a valid choice.
Mental Illness undeserving poor
The taxation system takes from the rich and gives the poor, effectively redistributing wealth across the population. If you think about it however, many of the working rich are time poor. It makes just as much sense to redistribute time from the financially poor/ time rich to the social network in which we live.
A society is everyone’s responsibility, but we are all capable of contributing to it in different ways. This would improve all our lives. There would be much less reason for people to resent the recipients of public largesse.
Kinkajou : To take the words out of the “Starship Troopers movie”, “Everyone fights. No one quits”
Erasmus : Or to requote it: “Everyone works. No one quits”
Kinkajou : It’s just that there are different ways to work; different ways to contribute, but still choices for those who want to run their life at a different pace.
Erasmus : Taxation focuses on simply making one portion of society (the working) carry another portion of society through financial mechanisms. Taxation redistribution of wealth does not ask anything from its recipients. Governments unfortunately are not geared to approach this issue.
The interests of voters in the Western world means that it is difficult to change systems that have existed for a long time. Many of our institutions have grown from short term solutions to complex problems made in situations where a more difficult and perhaps more complex solution is just too hard to even think about or implement. Once an institution is set up, change is politically very difficult.
Goo : I see. Our society is a network of social responsibilities. Everyone has a role within system. That includes the rich and the poor. The time rich and the time poor. But we must always respect the individual’s right to make as many choices for themselves as is possible within the social matrix within which we live.
Centrlink Medicare Social Matrix
Kinkajou : Well said.
Erasmus : In building cities, we have taken away the capacity of many people to function at a subsistence level. Without a job it is difficult to obtain food, shelter and clothing, while living in a city. When most people in our society lived on farms (perhaps a little over a hundred years ago), many people existed as subsistence farmers all their lives.
The incentive to work was brutal. If you did not plant crops you starved. You could however choose to do the minimum amount of work that would get you to survive from one day to the next.
But the world has changed. Now a single farmer can support 10 or more people living within the cities. There is no room for subsistence farmers to exist within our modern world. People have lost the capacity to look after their own interests. Society needs to provide them with opportunities to do so, hopefully enriching everyone along the way…
Social Security, the giving of money to people who are unable to support themselves, is prevalent in the western world. However, too often governments forget that there must be an incentive to leave the cosy embrace of the Social Security net. Setting up a system to provide incentive is critical to limit abuses of the system. It needs to be a graduated system. The more you work, always the better off you become.
Kinkajou : People also can have many issues. Some people do not want to work. Some people are unemployable. Some people have medical problems and cannot work. Some people are cognitively limited in their ability to care for themselves. As society we are responsible for all these people. Providing people with options to be an integral part of our society is important.
By default most of our modern Western systems have failed people by giving people few options to live productive lives. The definition of productive life in the Western world focuses far too much on the financial aspects of life.
Poor People in the World
Erasmus : We need to rethink how to help people who have lost hope. But we also need to realise that there will always be people who are hopeless. It is unlikely we can ever cure the situation. However, we should better plan to provide facilities for people with these types of problems.
We need to provide help for people with these problems. Carers are excellent option. Assistance with people who are cognitively limited is also essential. Society may need to provide supervision and assistance with issues such as financial budgeting. Some people are not capable of this type of activity. People can still be free to make their own choices about how much they work and how much of a role they wish to have within our society.
However it needs to be recognised that if you live within our society you have some responsibilities to this society. Whether you like it or not you are a part of our civilisation. While society looks after people who are hopeless, these people also have responsibility to the social network that binds us.
Goo : So helping the hopeless is actually a two way street. Not just the act of taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Social aspects and rewards are important. Time rich / time poor is another reason to redistribute time wealth as well as financial wealth.
Mother Theresa on Poverty