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Strike day in France

by linca Tue Oct 23rd, 2007 at 05:06:17 AM EST

Today [October 18] marked the first major protests against Sarkozy's labor policies. Right now Sarkozy has played up the legitimacy given by his election, and is attempting to ram through parliament many reforms of fiscal and labor law, that all seem to favor his close friends in the Medef, the boss's union.

Most unions in SNCF, the French railway company, and RATP, that manages Parisian public transportations, called for a one-day strike. Trains didn't circulate for much of the day across France : only about 50 out of 600 daily TGV journeys actually happened, and most other trains didn't circulate. Public transportation in Paris was pretty much closed.

Around 300 000 people demonstrated in France's main towns :

The main reason for the strike is an attempt of Fillon's government to reform the RATP and SNCF pensions : this kind of reform, by Juppé in 1995, had led to a month-long strike, and forced him to back down. Will this hapen again ?

Diary rescue by Migeru


The reform put forward by the government is done supposedly in the name of justice and equality. Pensions in France are supposedly organised as a repartition scheme : current workers pay for the pensions of current pensioners. There is a general fund into which most employees contribute, that currently permits full rate pension after 40 years of working, and when one is at least 60 years old.

But some statuses are slightly different, mostly those of SNCF, RATP and EDF employees, but also those of the employees of the Paris Opera, of the Bank de France, of notary clerks... Of members of the National Assembly, too. Those statuses allow employees to retire after contributing for 37.5 years. The government calls it an inequality that must be righted ; news magazines say it is an undue privilege - the same term used for the aristocracy's rights before the 1789 revolution. Of course, those "régimes spéciaux de retraite" are more favourable to the employee than the general one.

But the current proponents of equality are never heard calling for the docking of higher wages - which are the most obvious inequality around. Pensions system are an element of salary, and one may have chosen to work at the SNCF or RATP knowing that the pension plan would be better, and thus maybe accepting a lower wage. Not many people would accept direct cuts on their monthly wage ; this is no different. And calling train drivers "privileged" in these days of rising inequalities is preposterous ; no train driver earns enough, even with a better retirement compounded, to be the the top centiles of highest French incomes.

Of course this works fully into the Sarkozist ideology of "working more to earn more" that is supposed to "free economic growth". Working more in these conditions isn't a choice really ; and polls usually show French workers want to retire as early as they can.

The reason the SNCF and RATP kept their special pension plans for quite some time is that when they go on strike they can inflict a lot of troubles on the French economy ; public transportations closing in Paris mean people can hardly go to work in a city without enough roads to transport everybody by car. So the media play up the cliché of the "common man being taken hostage". Actually though, the light car circulation in the streets of Paris on thursday seem to indicate that most Paris workers took a day off work to avoid the hassle of going to work on a strike day ; the RTT (Work Time Reduction) as was made possible by the Jospin reforms eased the day, but that solution can't last much longer if the strike continues.

Memories of the 1995 strike, which lasted one month and ended in success, a coming back to life. However, polls diverge on whether the population is for or against the success of the strike, depending on how the question is asked - amazingly, the Communist daily l'Humanité found the French were in favor, whereas the right-wing daily Le Figaro found people were against it.

In 1995, it was felt a part of the private sector employees, who couldn't go on strike as easily as the public sector, were sympathetic to the movement ; a big question mark is whether it will happen this time : has the media blitz presenting the strikers as privileged life employees taking hostage the common man been successful ?

RATP and SNCF workers weren't the only ones striking and demonstrating though ; many public sectors union have been calling for a strike today, with the amount of people actually on strike varying ; whereas 90% of the train drivers were on strike, half of the EDF workforce was not working, and 8% of the state civil servants. Many of them are striking against Sarkozy's policies against labor, and as a need to get a revenge against the lost of the presidential election lost by the left wing.

The Paris demonstration claimed 25 000 participants according to the CGT union, and 21 000 according to the Paris police ; usually the unions announce twice more demonstrators than the police, and I personally felt there were more than 25 000 people, at least comparing to other demonstrations I participated in.


The union leaders in front of the demonstration


The Paris Opera and the Comédie Française (the national theater company that was founded by Molière) have special pension plans too.


There were Korean demonstrators too ; apparently the French concrete company Lafarge has taken to firing union representatives and paying below minimum wages (which mean well below living wage) in Korea.

A few unions are calling for the strike to be extended, along with the far left politician Besancenot ; but others, including the CGT, are calling for it to stop now, making this strike a warning to Sarkozy. Whether the train drivers continue to strike on Friday remains to be seen ; they are the one would actually stop working, and it wouldn't be the first time they'd take a tougher line than the union bosses.

Of course, Sarkozy used the ultimate bomb in trying to bury the news and analysis of this strike : he chose this day to announce his divorce with Cécilia.
 

Display:
LOL, i love your "statuses are slightly different", there are for most part totally unfair, the 37.5 years stated are the maximum, quite often having children or a various status get you retired at 50 or less.

there is not much rational for it, especially when these pension funds have to be paid by doctors (50% of their pensions payment go to agricultors and SNCF) and private employees who are far from enjoying these quind of outdated status (they are not exhausted anymore at 50).

by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 12:26:44 AM EST
As linca points out, the pension scheme is part of the job offer that current workers have chosen. Going back on it brutally is tearing up the contract. If a change appears necessary, it should be phased in gradually, by negotiation, not imposed.

Have you got any data to back up your sob-sob stuff about poor doctors paying for everybody else? Or did you read it in the Fig-Mag?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 01:59:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
my snob-sob as you say has a name "surcompensation" and it is not new it has been created in 1986 but the state that usually was giving the money back decided to stop it unilaterally :

http://www.senat.fr/bulletin/20061218/soc.html

by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 03:18:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Chirac in his ultra-liberal version...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 03:38:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, there are complicated systems of compensation between different national pension schemes that could no doubt be usefully cleared up.

But your "50% of doctors' pension contributions for farmers and SNCF" is nonsense. Look at the document you link to:

Commission des affaires sociales : bulletin de la semaine du 18 décembre 2006 Commission for social questions: weekly bulletin 18 Dec 2006
Le bilan des flux cumulés des mécanismes de « compensation » et de « surcompensation » fait apparaître un petit nombre de contributeurs nets. Il s'agit essentiellement du régime général, pour 5,1 milliards d'euros, c'est-à-dire 6,5 % de ses produits, de la caisse nationale de retraite des agents des collectivités locales (CNRACL) pour 2,6 milliards d'euros, soit plus de 20 % de ses produits, et de l'Etat, au titre de la fonction publique, pour 1,7 milliard d'euros, c'est-à-dire 4 % des charges de pensions du budget. Sont également concernées la caisse nationale des industries électriques et gazières pour 131 millions d'euros (4 % des produits du régime), la caisse nationale d'assurance vieillesse des professions libérales (CNAVPL) pour 371 millions d'euros, soit 32 % de ses produits, et la caisse nationale des barreaux français. The balance of aggregate flows of the mechanisms of "compensation" and "surcompensation" shows a small number of net contributors. They are essentially the general (salaried workers) system, paying €5.1 bn, that is 6.5% of its income, the local government employees' pensions scheme pays €2.6 bn, or over 20% of its income, and the State under the heading of the civil service, pays €1.7 bn, or 4% of the pensions section of the budget. Also concerned are the electric and gas industries' pensions scheme for €131 mn (4% of income), the liberal professions' pensions scheme (CNAVPL) for €371 mn, or 32% of its income, and the barristers' pension scheme.

Doctors, through their scheme (CARMF) pay into the CNAVPL, that pays 32% of its receipts to the compensation and surcompensation schemes. Which pay out to:

Commission des affaires sociales : bulletin de la semaine du 18 décembre 2006
les exploitants agricoles perçoivent en effet à eux seuls 4,3 milliards d'euros et les salariés agricoles 2,2 milliards d'euros, soit plus de 60 % des flux redistribués. Viennent ensuite les régimes des mines pour 1,2 milliard d'euros, des commerçants pour 0,9 milliard d'euros, des artisans (0,5 milliard d'euros) et de la SNCF (337 millions d'euros). [retired] farmers alone receive €4.3 bn and farm labourers €2.2 bn, or 60% of the redistributed flows. Next come the mines pension scheme with €1.2 bn, shopkeepers with €0.9 bn, craftsmen (€0.5 bn), and the SNCF (€337 mn).

So the main subsidies concern branches of activity that have undergone demographic change that has left a small number of payers-in covering a large number of pensioners (farming, coal-mining, shopkeepers and craftsmen). SNCF only receives about 3% of the total (according to my calculation).

So making this a beef against the régimes spéciaux seems unjustified, it really involves branches whose numbers have gone down dramatically, (and not only farmers, for that matter). And the proportion of doctors' contributions is not 50%, but considerably less (32%).

And what doctors' contributions are those? Only the obligatory minimum national pensions scheme payments (doctors will contribute to other schemes that will benefit them exclusively; the national minimum is a social solidarity system). How does that pan out for most doctors? I could give you the details (from a liberal professions' tax handbook, I haven't got a link, sorry), but most will be paying the ceiling, which, for 2006 income, was €4,334. 32% of that is €1,387. These are professionals who average more than €80,000 p.a. in net (of expenses inc social contributions) before-tax income. Sob-sob.

There may be an over-complicated system that needs overhaul, but essentially this is about redistribution and solidarity (and has little to do with the régimes spéciaux, as your document proves). And, if one is worried about privilege and inequality, perhaps one should be concerned about this:


Le Monde

Doctors' (top three) income has risen faster than salaried workers (bottom line, flat for several years). This graph stops in 2004, but the trend has continued since.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 05:58:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another item, of course, is the demographic balance of the SNCF, with about 500,000 pensioners for 100,000 workers. There's an additional payment by the French State to cover that demographic unbalance:

http://www.entreprise-sncf.com/mieux_nous/RA2006/SNCF-RF-2006.pdf


Retraites (contribution d'équilibre - art. 30)

Le système de retraite de la SNCF résulte principalement de la loi du 21 juillet 1909, définissant le régime particulier des agents de la SNCF, et de l'article 30 du cahier des charges de la SNCF définissant, depuis le 1er janvier 1970, les conditions de prise en charge par l'État de l'équilibre financier du régime, dans le respect du règlement européen de 1969. En effet, en contrepartie du versement par la SNCF de cotisations « normalisées » à la Caisse des retraites, l'État verse une contribution au titre de l'article 30 du cahier des charges de la SNCF. Le taux de cotisation « normalisé » est déterminé sur la base de la population des cotisants et des pensionnés de la SNCF, corrigée de son déséquilibre démographique par rapport à celle des régimes de retraite de droit commun. Ce taux de cotisation a été régulièrement révisé jusqu'en 1990. Le décret du 27 février 1991 le fixe à 36,29 % de la masse salariale, se répartissant entre 7,85 % pour la part salariale et 28,44 % pour la part patronale. Par ailleurs, les nouveaux avantages propres au régime SNCF, créés depuis 1990 par rapport au régime de référence, sont à la charge de la SNCF et de ses salariés. Les différents avantages créés portent sur la définition de l'assiette des pensions liquidables (intégration successives de points d'indemnités de résidence, mise en place du nouveau système de rémunération) et sur le relèvement du niveau minimum des pensions. Pour l'année 2006 le taux financé par l'entreprise était de 5,29 % de la masse salariale liquidable.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 06:20:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another item, of course, is the demographic balance of the SNCF, with about 500,000 pensioners for 100,000 workers.

A solution: expand the rail network, reopening branch lines and building new ones, and hire an additional 100,000 people to work on rebuilding, expanding, and operating the new services. And it would reduce unemployment, too!

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 23rd, 2007 at 05:19:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I can see Sarkozy et al actually increasing union membership...
by paving on Tue Oct 23rd, 2007 at 03:21:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the subject of how the appalling French welfare state unfairly takes money from one category to hand it out to another (the old Thatcherite refrain), I forgot to mention this one:

all self-employed people in France pay contributions to the national health insurance scheme; the base is their expenses-deducted before-tax income, and the rate is 0.5% up to the Social Security "ceiling" (€31K approx for 2006), and 5.19% beyond that.

But doctors only pay 0.11%, with no increase above the "ceiling". In other words, they get a huge cut in their national health contributions, and other people have to fork out the difference.

fredouil seems to believe these poor individuals are oppressed by "privileged" rail workers etc.

LOL.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 02:00:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Having 3 children giving the possibility of retiring early for women was stopped in the Fillon reform in 2003. Of course, as the EU found it was slightly discriminatory to open up this possibility only to women, many men had this option to retire early for a few months, and took it.

Oh, and about the poor doctors, among the most wealthy professionals around, with their regular pay increase after regular strikes, and whose high pay is causing the Sécurité Sociale deficit... That deficit will have to be paid with what amounts to a 50€ flat tax. That's inequality, and redistribution from poor to wealthy.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 05:36:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Having 3 children giving the possibility of retiring early for women was stopped in the Fillon reform in 2003

A notary clerk can retire after 15 (fifteen) years of work if she has 3 (three) children. This is still in place.

Pierre

by Pierre on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 08:35:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh! I see that, in spite of all efforts to cover up, the truth about sclerotic old-fashioned red-tape-bound France will out.

;-)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 09:58:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, since we're talking legal, you know...

Pierre
by Pierre on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 11:44:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Notaries themselves are actually extremely privileged by French law. It is a cast that resells notary charges among their families ; it is absolutely impossible to get into the profession without being very close to one. And they make huge money as they make a proportional amount in each and every real estate deal.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 11:37:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So I guess the fact their clerks could keep that possibility is a way to make sure they keep quiet about their bosses' advantages.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 11:38:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, the regime for notary clerk is older (1937) than french social security (1945) and includes a "smart" funding scheme: part of it is funded by a direct 4% tax on the revenue of the offices, instead of being entirely proportional to salaries paid. This kept the money flowing when the word processor came in and slashed to work force (cos legal really isn't much more than word processing).

Pierre
by Pierre on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 11:52:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nota : that is the main reasons the RATP and SNCF pension plans are particular too : they are older than the general pensions. The reasons the clerks get to keep it is that they are a right-wing constituency and that they aren't so numerous, I guess...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 12:18:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, they don't get to keep it. It's about to get busted in the reform (well, just the pension part of it, so far)

Pierre
by Pierre on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 04:45:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not that closed. The truth is, anyone can be a notary if he is rich enough. Financing to buy oneself in is regulated and ultimately provided by Caisse des Depots, which requires a 30% down payment. Actually, it is possible to find small provincial Etudes that you can buy for 300k€ (and probably much less pretty soon), so a down payment of 100 k€. But these require that you actually do some work yourself (yuk) to stay in the black. Whereas a nice spot Rue des Pyramides is like a 30% coupon bond guaranteed like state (10% net after tax and amortization), on offer to any bourgeois who can put a million euro down. The shop will be big enough to run itself.

Pierre
by Pierre on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 11:48:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've heard accounts of people studying to become notaries that it was a bad idea to do so unless one has notaries in the family... Were those accounts wrong ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 11:51:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's part wrong: it's a good idea if you have money (which is usually the case with a notary in the family)

Pierre
by Pierre on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 11:53:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you took the pension benefits and aligned that with the lower wages, would it work out roughly the same overall in comparison with workers elsewhere? ie they may get to retire earlier but they make sacrifices (too extreme a word really) in their working life to get that benefit later on.

And in their plans to reduce the pension benefits, are they planning to compensate the workers by increasing the wages so as not to drastically reduce the terms and conditions of the workers?

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 02:56:47 AM EST
I wrote the second paragraph in the frame of mind of introducing the pension cuts for new workers (but with current ones remaining on the same package as they are now).

Re-reading the diary it looks as though they intend to remove the pension benefit from current workers.  As Linca says, this is equivalent to cutting pay/wages.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 03:45:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
sounds like the heart of it:

European Tribune - Comments - Strike day in France

But the current proponents of equality are never heard calling for the docking of higher wages - which are the most obvious inequality around. Pensions system are an element of salary, and one may have chosen to work at the SNCF or RATP knowing that the pension plan would be better, and thus maybe accepting a lower wage. Not many people would accept direct cuts on their monthly wage ; this is no different. And calling train drivers "privileged" in these days of rising inequalities is preposterous ; no train driver earns enough, even with a better retirement compounded, to be the the top centiles of highest French incomes.

So what are the proposed solutions? If inequality is supposedly a problem, it will return again and again and again. I then don't see a problem to get rid of it - which means that if they're going to increase contribution before pension, it will have to come with advantageous wage increases or any other quid pro quo that is 1) fair and 2) equal towards other workers.

If it takes strikes to address a wage increase in return of longer work contribution, would you think that is a desirable compromise?

by Nomad on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 04:31:26 AM EST
Nope. I believe retiring early should be a possibility for everyone. It can be paid for pretty easily with an increase in contributions and maybe a bit of progressivity in pensions redistribution. A social choice, reducing worker's work length, both weekly and during the whole life, can be made and has the support of most French workers.

Oh, and the "inequality" in pensions is financed by higher payments by the SNCF, not by the other workers ; like any wage differential. The privilege meme only gained enough traction because it became a regular cover of the French news magazines a few years ago.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 05:43:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Pensions for persons working at other (private) companies are not at stake currently, right? I get the impression you're talking about an overhaul of the pension system for everyone - and how likely is it in the current political climate that your proposal will even be considered? Looks like ideology clash. BTW, I should stress your proposal sounds fine by me, and if there's enough clout for it, why not - but also it sounds like you're upping the scale - because you don't agree with the current pension frame.

linca:

and the "inequality" in pensions is financed by higher payments by the SNCF, not by the other workers ; like any wage differential.

I understand that offset - hence the proposal to couple wage increases with contribution increases. Yet is this, or other compromises, even on the table by the government? If not, do you think such proposals would be forthcoming? In other words: how much is Fillon bluffing?

by Nomad on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 06:46:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the main ideological points of Sarkozy's campaign was to promote work ethics, undo the 35 heures, lengthen work hours. So the government is aiming to make it very hard financially to retire early.

OTOH, some banners put up during the demonstration were asking for 37.5 years of contribution for all, even CGT banners, which hadn't happened during the 1995 and 2003 strikes.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 11:42:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I actually think this is a great way to address the "inequality" meme.  Give everyone a better option instead of making everyone's life more difficult.

I find it hard to believe that early retirements can be attacked as being "inefficient" in the same way the shorter workweek has been.  Does anyone really believe that 60 year olds are as productive as 30 year olds in the pure capitalist sense?  

by paving on Tue Oct 23rd, 2007 at 03:13:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
<consensus style=neoliberal>But you have to make peoples' lives harder so they will work harder!</consensus>

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 06:41:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why neoliberal ?

That's the good old (1830s) liberal prerequisite to have a work market.

See Polanyi and the end of Speenhamland laws...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 06:52:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think working longer is realistic for a couple of these professions. But, I ask the French here: just what does Fillon intend for these people? Non-full retirement benefits for 2.5 years?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 06:28:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Pensions system are an element of salary, and one may have chosen to work at the SNCF or RATP knowing that the pension plan would be better, and thus maybe accepting a lower wage.

It's not only that. Many railway jobs are stressful jobs where age will be a safety issue earlier and the wear on the worker is greater. You don't want 62-year-olds doing the 12-hour locomotive driver shifts at any time, or what about 37 years of standing up at 2am to get to the locomotive shop to get trains ready for the morning runs. (We discussed the class division in how early one commutes -- well railwaymen have it even worse than average workers, and commuter train depot workers the worst.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 05:27:49 AM EST
Um, which part of "we don't give  a shit if we work you into an early grave, its your own fault for not being lucky" don't you understand?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 05:35:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your father was not born rich enough!  
by paving on Tue Oct 23rd, 2007 at 03:14:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pensions system are an element of salary, and one may have chosen to work at the SNCF or RATP knowing that the pension plan would be better, and thus maybe accepting a lower wage.

This is a hugely important point, because it represents the opportunity to attack the neo-libs with their own rhetoric.  In the the logic of the neo-libs, the opportunity cost lost through the imposition of regulation is said to represent a takings of private wealth by the state.  

So when a company is forbidden to pursue a business opportunity, let's say that a company views laws banning certain chemical substances as forcing them to suspend production of something that they make.  This is said to be theft, a takings.

Yet when working men and women forego wages in order to receive pension payments, and an employer later reneges on paying out those benefits there is not said to be a takings.

Lesson?

The rights of individuals matter less than the rights of impersonal wealth lacking the most basic requirement for human rights: Humanity.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 10:07:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
le 18 - ligne2vie The 18th
Ce chiffre est sur toutes les lèvres. Nous avons tous calculé notre droit à pension. Maintenant et après. Nous ne partirons pas tous avec le maximum. En ce qui me concerne, je peux partir à 55 ans avec une retraite proportionnelle. Dans l'état actuel, je pourrai prétendre à environ 1300 euros par mois. C'est pas énorme mais je le savais en entrant à la Régie. Avec la décote, je perds 500 euros par mois. Je pourrai donc partir à 55 ans avec 800 euros par mois. Il me faudrait donc partir à 60 ans pour ne plus avoir de décote mais toujours pas le maximum d'annuités. J'ai pu me planter dans les calculs (suis nulle en maths) mais ce chiffre de 500 euros en moins par mois correspond à ce que tout le monde a calculé car ils ne sont plus si nombreux ceux qui partent avec le maximum d'annuités. This number is on all mouths. We all computed our new pensions right. Now and after the reforms. We won't all take the maximum pension. I can leave at 55 years old with a proportional pension. Right now, I can get 1300€ a month. That's not a lot but I knew it when joining RATP. With the reforms, I'll lose 500€ a month. Thus I'll be able to leave when 55 with 800€ a month. I'd have to leave at 60 not to get a reduction of my pension, but I still won't have the maximum contribution number. I could have make a mistake in the computation (I'm bad at maths) but this 500€ figure is what everybody computed, since only a few still retire with maximum contributions.

That's the amount of money these workers are losing... quite staggering. Living on 800€ a month is very tough in France, impossible near Paris if one wants any comforts.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 11:34:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If they want comforts they can work: there are shelves to be stocked after all.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 11:36:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not knowing anything about the unions in France and their leaders; I would still be on the lookout for union leaders who are either corrupted by Sarkozy''s government or coopted. This is what happened during the Reagan and Clinton administrations in the US. Anotherwards follow the money !!!!

Even though the unions were in a much more vulnerable position; one would have figured civil disobedience would have been the most effective way to protest the Nafta treaty and other trade agreements which were passed or amended during the Clinton administration.
The rationale was always if you don't agree with us; then it will be much worse under a Republican administration. When Reagan wa sPresident many of the union leaders enjoyed far more the perks his Republicans offered than any meaningful representation of the unions.

by An American in London on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 09:08:23 AM EST
The CFDT union, which had some fighting spirit in the 70's, has been coopted by governments in the 90's and is getting discredited at the national level.

Also, a recent scandal (maybe two weeks old, funny that it got out just before the big strike) is that an important member of the bosses' union MEDEF, Gautier-Sauvignac, was taking huge amounts of cash from the unions account ; conservative newspapers insinuated that some of that cash was going to the labor union leaders...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 19th, 2007 at 11:45:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Calling the CFDT a sellout is very much unfair. They have usually been the more pragmatci and willing to find compromise with the employers, but they are not sellouts. FO would be a more appropriate claimant to that title.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 04:37:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not really calling CFDT a sellout, just saying that the perception of it is getting worse as they seem to always be the first to sign of agreements... In 2003, even before the manager's union, CGC.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 06:56:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is interesting to see the argument that you should have out of the pensions what you pay in, and the ability to choose when you retire, and the choise of late retirement and low payments or early retirement and high payments as an argument against the reforms.

Because saying that you have a choice if you have a choice between a careen at EDF or a private company is not much of a choice. The pension-plan is not exactly the only thing that differs between those two careers. And is the lower salary in the state exactly compensated by the extra payments by SNCF? Because if it aren't fully compensated by, then they actually get payed less than they should, and if it costs more than the salary difference, maybe then they would have done a different choice.

In any case, it's bad for the SNCF workers.  

The only possibly conclusion of the argument that you should pay for what you get and that you should have a choice in pension-age and similar, is that the pension system as a whole should be replaced with a system based on private pension funds, where each person can choose his own pension-plan. I'd be rather surprised if I see people strike for THAT reform. :-)

And I'm quite staggered that people even do comparisons with a pension-age of 55. 55... Most people haven't even begun to reach the top of their career when they are 55. Why would anybody, unless they are sick, wanna retire when they are 55? I see the point with engine-drivers maybe not being at their best when they are 65, but shouldn't that then be a special deal for engine-drivers, not anybody who happens to work at SNCF of EDF?

by freedomfighter on Tue Oct 23rd, 2007 at 06:13:39 AM EST
Actually, most of the French want to retire as soon as possible. Most jobs don't include any real "career". Most people don't get much deep satisfaction from their jobs once they reach that age, and don't care much about the career concept.

As for the possibility of choosing retirement age, it is also possible in a state system ; the only problem is being able to negotiate this flexibility with a government and employers who care only about making people work as long as possible, for as little as possible.

Et bienvenue sur la Tribune Européenne !

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Oct 23rd, 2007 at 08:17:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well of course everybody wants to retire as soon as possible in some sense. But if state employment really is so horrible that all you have to look forward to is to get retired, then I don't really thing early retirement is enough compensation. :-)

And the negotiation problem is then just again another argument for not letting the unions and the employers decide when you retire.

Et merci!

by freedomfighter on Tue Oct 23rd, 2007 at 03:29:21 PM EST
I know many people in private employment who don't have anything else to look forward except retirement. Again, most jobs don't let one have a career, especially after 55 where no private company will invest into one's formation.

As for the negotiation problem, I prefer negotiation between unions and employers, where at least I have a say in the union's policy, to the market where I don't have any say in deciding prices - and letting big market players and gamblers decide on my retirement.

(Oh, and I guess you wanted to click on the "Reply To" link under my comment, rather than "Post a comment")

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Oct 23rd, 2007 at 04:54:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, so then again you agree that there are no principal difference between private and state employment and that it is equally horrible. So why should then the state people retire earlier?

I prefer to negotiation myself. Especially if it's between the union and the state-owned corporation. State-owned corporations have a tendency to be filled with people from the political left. And, whaddayouknow, so does the union. The result is that there are close buddies on both sides. Which in turn is one major reason why people in public service tend to have lower pay than similar jobs in the private sector.

And why should you negotiate at all? I see no reason to negotiate. I want to choose my retirement plan. Why on earth should I negotiate about it? It's MY money, in the end. Yeah, I know that the employer does the actual payment, but that means that when you employ somebody, the employer takes all of this into his calculation on how much the highest salary he is prepared to pay is. So in the end, it comes out of my money, buy giving me a lower salary. So why on earth should the union and the state negotiate over something that in fact almost only affects me?

The state should only handle things that affect many people. The union should only handle things that affect their members. I would very much like them to keep their fingers out of my life unless I ask them to, thank you very much.

by freedomfighter on Tue Oct 23rd, 2007 at 07:05:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The result of that attitude is well known and it is elderly people ending up in misery.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Oct 23rd, 2007 at 07:19:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Explain how eldderly people end up in misery just because it is me who decides over things like my pension schemes and other stuff, and not the union and the state that decides it.
by freedomfighter on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 04:11:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because that is what happened before collective pensions. When people talked of "the poor" until the 70's, they talked about older people.

Because most workers have little enough disposable income that they can't save a lot of money.

Because it is hard to know how long you'll live as a retired person ; and individual insurance contracts are much more expensive than collective ones : insurance companies have to forecast a winning on each contract.

Because having to put your earnings into equities, as is needed for individual pension plans, puts you at the risk of market crashes.

Because unions and the state are democratic institutions, unlike the market.


Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 06:23:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because that is what happened before collective pensions. When people talked of "the poor" until the 70's, they talked about older people.

Then you need to first prove that it was the fact that the pensions were collective that fixed this issue, and you then have to prove that it will revert if they get uncollectivized.

Because most workers have little enough disposable income that they can't save a lot of money.

Well, evidently they can, since they pay for the collective pensions. That money doesn't dissappear just because the pensions aren't run by the state.

Because it is hard to know how long you'll live as a retired person

And this becomes easy if your pensions are collectivized?

and individual insurance contracts are much more expensive than collective ones

That's not true. When Sweden got a pension system in the 50s, people who were self-employed could elect to not pay to the collective pension system, but instead pay to private pensions. These people have gotten much higher returns that the state pensions. So in fact, it's probably the other way around, as it usually is.

insurance companies have to forecast a winning on each contract.

So? Despite the fact that private companies always have to go with a profit, private companies also always provide the same service cheaper than when the state does it. That there has to be a profit does not make it more expensive, it's a red herring. What makes something expensive is lack of competition.

Because having to put your earnings into equities, as is needed for individual pension plans, puts you at the risk of market crashes.

Which is easily controllable by gradually moving over the savings to safe investments with low returns the closer you get to retirement age. Hence not a problem.

Because unions and the state are democratic institutions, unlike the market.

You are using the word "democratic" as in "majority rule". It is true that they are democratic in that sense. That means that with unions and the state, the majority decides over your life. I don't see how that automatically means that old peopl become poor, but you are welcome to explain.

by freedomfighter on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 12:02:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Then you need to first prove that it was the fact that the pensions were collective that fixed this issue, and you then have to prove that it will revert if they get uncollectivized.

There is very little concept of "proof" in the social sciences, and the fact that the modern, collective, state-backed pension system is what got older people out of misery is obvious. I won't waste my time "proving" that. As for what happen after uncollectivisation, see Chile or even the US.

Well, evidently they can, since they pay for the collective pensions. That money doesn't dissappear just because the pensions aren't run by the state.

Actually, in France, they can't. Salaries around minimum wage don't pay much charges sociales.

And this becomes easy if your pensions are collectivized?

Because running a collective insurance contract means you can even out pension lengths across the population, which isn't possible for individualised pension accounts.

So? Despite the fact that private companies always have to go with a profit, private companies also always provide the same service cheaper than when the state does it. That there has to be a profit does not make it more expensive, it's a red herring. What makes something expensive is lack of competition.

You completely miss my point. An insurance company can't make a contract for an individual that runs the risk of making a loss. Pensions are only viable over a large pool of subscribers.

As for the private companies providing cheaper service, see the example of health care. That's simply not true.

Which is easily controllable by gradually moving over the savings to safe investments with low returns the closer you get to retirement age. Hence not a problem.

It is not easily controllable. See the recent failure of AAA-rated CDOs . And systemic crashes can wipe out any and all assets. It is a problem, and you are waving it away all too fast.

You are using the word "democratic" as in "majority rule". It is true that they are democratic in that sense. That means that with unions and the state, the majority decides over your life.

Much better than the markets where a dozen large market players control your retirement assets' valuation.

I don't see how that automatically means that old peopl become poor, but you are welcome to explain.

Said market players, and others, are very good at swindling the majority of people out of their retirement, have they have done in the recent and more ancient past.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 12:58:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At least you need to come with some good arguments, and no, it's no obvious at all. Many countries who do NOT have state run pension systems, like for example Iceland, do not wallow in misery for old people, so it rather seems quite obvious that it is not the so called "modern" (I'd prefer the term "ancient") state run pension systems that delivered us from misery.

As for what happen after uncollectivisation, see Chile or even the US.

High growth and low absolute poverty. You do make a compelling argument against collective state-run pensions, I must say.

An insurance company can't make a contract for an individual that runs the risk of making a loss.

In fact, this is exactly what insurance companies do every single day. It is in fact what the business of insurance is all about.

Pensions are only viable over a large pool of subscribers.

Which is what insurance is about. But of course, it can be argued that pensions aren't insurance at all, and most of the time it's handles by banks. ;-)

It is not easily controllable. See the recent failure of AAA-rated CDOs . And systemic crashes can wipe out any and all assets.

Including much of the states assets, so that's not an argument. Having your money in the bank is not more risky than giving them to the state, and the reason for that is that states have bank guarantees, which are a necessity to have a well functioning financial system.

The claim that it is risky is complete and utter bogus.

Much better than the markets where a dozen large market players control your retirement assets' valuation.

A dozen vs one. Yeah. MUCH better.

Said market players, and others, are very good at swindling the majority of people out of their retirement, have they have done in the recent and more ancient past.

And so have states. In fact, you are argung that Sarkozy is trying to do just that right now.

QED.

by freedomfighter on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 01:18:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As for what happen after uncollectivisation, see Chile or even the US.
High growth and low absolute poverty. You do make a compelling argument against collective state-run pensions, I must say.

Well US and Chile don't have particularly low poverty levels in fact the majority of European countries are at least a percent below the US poverty rate. I seem to remember discussing on here the manipulation of US poverty definitions to remove 4% from US poverty figures. So the idea that the US has low poverty levels dosn't really stand up.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 01:45:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US has very low absolute poverty levels. In fact, it isn't even measurable by common standards:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Percentage_population_living_on_less_than_1_dollar_day.png

The US poverty rate you refer to is defined as a percentage of the median income, and is therefore in fact not a measurement of poverty at all, but a measurement of income distribution, just as all so called "relative poverty" measurements are.

The US has low poverty levels. Anything else is pure misinformation.

Also note how Chile is doing well, and better than it's neighbours. Also, Chile has a very good life expectancy,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Life_expectancy_world_map.PNG

And a good HDI value:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:HDImap_spectrum2006.png

All things that largely has happened thanks to a relatively liberal economic policies. (Yes, relatively, that is about as liberal as Sweden. The idea that Chile is some sort of superneoliberal experiment is a pure myth).

by freedomfighter on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 04:36:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The idea of saying any other measure of poverty  than 1 dollar a day isn't poverty is frankly laughable. The difference in costs of subsistence in different countries shold show that.

it may well be that the relative poverty measures aren't truly effective in showing poverty, but theres got to be some measure better than a dollar a day.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 05:30:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's PPP dollars, hence that difference is taken care of.  It is the best measure of real utter poverty there is. And as mentioned, the western world, including the US has none of that. So saying that the US has a poverty problem is quite frankly an utter insult to the real poors of the world.

Another good measure of serious (but not extreme) poverty is HDI, and as noted bot US and Chile is doing very nicely there.

I suspect that you simply will have to just grin and bear it: The myth that liberal politics causes poverty is just that: A myth. Neither the US nor Chile has any huge problem with poverty compared to the rest of the world.

The main cause of poverty is when the mechanism that create wealth break down. That mechanism is trade, and it breaks down mainly because of war or other violent conflicts, corrupt governments and planned economy (in roughly that order of importance).

by freedomfighter on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 06:17:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's PPP dollars, hence that difference is taken care of.

PPP is a normalization to purchasing power, and an imperfect one at that. What is relevant in terms of poverty is subsistence costs and PPP is largely meaningless in that respect.

From Wikipedia:

The purchasing power parity (PPP) theory was developed by Gustav Cassel in 1920. It is the method of using the long-run equilibrium exchange rate of two currencies to equalize the currencies' purchasing power. It is based on the law of one price, the idea that, in an efficient market, identical goods must have only one price.

See, there are two problems with using PPP to normalize for subsistence costs. First, for most of the goods involved in subsistence, there is no global market, hence the assumption of equal prices is simply (and patently) false. Subsistence depends mainly on shelter, food and water. Of those three, only food is globally tradeable on any kind of industrial scale, and even then, if you believe that the global food market behaves according to the normal rules of market economics, I've got some Enron shares I think you should have a look at.

Second, there does exist a global market for such things as cars, flat-screen TVs and computers, although even there, the assumption of a single price is somewhat suspect). Which means that PPP is going to normalize to the cost of flat-screens rather than food.

To put it in simple terms, 1000 US$PPP may buy me the same amount of cell phones or computers anywhere in the world (give or take ten percent), but it will manifestly not buy me the same amount of calories or vitamin A anywhere in the world.

I'm a charitable kind of guy, so I'll chalk this error up to simple ignorance rather than outright mendacity. Others might be less kind, especially as you yourself so flippantly accuse many of us of lying.

Oh, and next time, do your homework yourself.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 07:14:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And here comes more personal attacks after the arguments. I'm not gonna bother with explaining why you are wrong and how you have misunderstood PPP with that attitude.
by freedomfighter on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 04:37:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Will you explain it to me?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 06:09:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure. PPP is a way to measure how much produce you get for a certain currency in the county. It's measured by setting up a "basket" of products (usually not including very many Plasma TVs) and seeing how much they cost in the different countries.

PPP Exchange rate is the theoretical exchange rate you should have if each currency would give you the same amount of money.

I think JakeSs main misunderstanding comes here:

First, for most of the goods involved in subsistence, there is no global market, hence the assumption of equal prices is simply (and patently) false.

Sure. But that doesn't matter, since the point here is not saying what the exchange rates between two currencies should be, but the point is to convert the daily income into something that is comparable. And for that, PPP works just fine.

This is of course not perfect, but it's way better than just using currency exchange rates when measuring poverty.

by freedomfighter on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 09:15:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, my bad. PPP does not, in fact, depend on the exchange rates which are affected by the spot market. I.o.w., the PPP normalisation is independent of whether there exists a market or not. Mea culpa, and apologies for insinuating that you don't understand the concept of PPP.

I'll even admit that I flew off the handle a bit from being accused of dishonesty. That tends to piss me off. Nevertheless, I do not think that it would be wise of you to attempt to turn this into a discussion of who has been most polite in this thread. DoDo and linca would win that contest hands down.

Nevertheless, it is still true that PPP$ do not accurately reflect subsistence costs, which is the thrust of my original point, as the PPP normalisation includes many goods and services that are not necessary to subsistence.

It is, of course, possible to construct an appropriate normalisation, but that's not what's being done with the official numbers.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 10:11:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On another note, the goods needed to subsist in different countries do vary. In an economy where almost everyone practices subsistence farming, for example, there is less need for transportation than in a developed economy, if for no other reason than because you need to move less far to get to your workplace.

Thus, being able to afford a train ride in a poor country based on subsistence farming is not a major problem (at least compared to all the other problems subsistence farmers face), while in a society where the economic structure is based on thirty-km commutes each way, each day, inability to afford a train ticket is A Bad Thing. Precisely the same good. Wildly differing degrees of necessity.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 10:33:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I accuse whoever came up with the idea of measuring income distribution and calling that a measurement of poverty of being dishonest,

I accuse you who perpetuate this argument of having been suckered. :-)

People are NOT rich because they starve to death together.

Nevertheless, it is still true that PPP$ do not accurately reflect subsistence costs, which is the thrust of my original point, as the PPP normalisation includes many goods and services that are not necessary to subsistence.

Sure, but it's the best option we have until somebody actually make a PPP index that is done only to measure poverty. And to be quite honest, regarding how cheap subsistence goods like somewhere to live and food is in the US, I seriously doubt that the US is gonna come out any worse in the comparison...

by freedomfighter on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 10:46:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another good measure of serious (but not extreme) poverty is HDI

Huh!? HDI is an average that tells little about wealth distribution, and thus the level of poverty, especially that of pensioners. HDI is composed of life expectancy (an average itself), literacy and school enrollment (says absolutely nothing about pensioners' income), and GDP per capita (which again is an average itself). HDI is not at all useful here.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 06:19:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
little about wealth distribution, and thus the level of poverty

As mentioned before, those are NOT the same thing. Income distribution in North Korea is probably very good, people are equally poor. But they still starve to death when the crops fail.

Wealth distribution does NOT measure poverty.

Besides, HDI includes wealth distribution.

But yes, it sais very little about pensioners incomes.

by freedomfighter on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 09:19:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As mentioned before, those are NOT the same thing.

No one said they are the same thing. One needs both the average and the distribution to calculate the level of poverty (be it absolute or relative), and you ignored one of these.

Besides, HDI includes wealth distribution.

Nope. The sole figure in HDI related to wealth (but not equivalent with wealth, ask the Irish) is per capita GDP, which is an average. Check the formula.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 04:17:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are right. Because those statistics typically are mentioned in the Human Development Report, I thought they were a part of the HDI, but they aren't.
by freedomfighter on Mon Oct 29th, 2007 at 02:05:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The idea of saying any other measure of poverty  than 1 dollar a day isn't poverty is frankly laughable.

Good thing I didn't say anything resembilng that, btw. I included three measures of poverty. I just pointed out that a measurement that measure income distribution doe not measure poverty, just because you call it "poverty". I can measure the average temperature of a country and call that a "poverty scale" if I like. It doesn't make it true.

"Poverty" measures as percentage of a countries mean income is not a measure of poverty at all. Calling it that, which many people do, is simply a lie.

by freedomfighter on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 06:20:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good thing I didn't say anything resembilng that, btw. I included three measures of poverty.

Yes and you managed to exclude the one measure of poverty out of 4 on the page that agrees with me.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 05:32:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because it isn't a measure of poverty at all, but the Gini coefficiant, which measure incomes inequality, which is clearly noted on the page.
by freedomfighter on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 09:21:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At the risk of feeding a troll, it should be pointed out that an ET diary not too long ago documented the fact that France (I think it was France, but it may have been another European major) had a lower percentage of people earning less than the US relative poverty limit.

In other words, if you live in France, you have a lower risk of being poor by US standards than if you live in the US. France having a lower median income (if the stats in the article are correct), the numbers become even more atrocious when you compare them the other way around.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 06:34:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"At the risk of feeding a troll"

And now you are running out of arguments. I'm not gonna discuss with people who can't keep the discussion civil.

by freedomfighter on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 04:35:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]

This is the fraction of children in OECD countries below the US poverty level. Most European countries (among the exceptions: UK) have lower ABSOLUTE poverty than the US, despite much lower average revenues.

Now if your standard is 'there are fewer poor than in India', feel free.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 04:35:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, yes? And your point is what?

The argument presented here was that if you did NOT have state run collective pension agreements then misery and disaster and loads of starving old people would ensue. The argument was also that we should look to the US to see the horrible effects of this.

And the proof for the immense amount of starving people is evidently that there is 2.3 units more children who's family is below the US poverty line in US than in France.

I fail to see how the supposed horrors have materialized, or for that matter what that graph has to do with pensions. And I also look forward to explanations of where all the starving people are in Iceland. I sure didn't see them where I lived there and whaddayouknow, they have a system with private obligatory pension funds. And the worlds next highest HDI (after Norway, who as a state pension system).

Maybe privatizing the pension system isn't such a horrible disaster after all?

by freedomfighter on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 04:57:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And I also look forward to explanations of where all the starving people are in Iceland.

What's this about Iceland? Iceland does have a state-run pension system alongside mandatory occupational ones (the dominant form) and free individual ones, and as it happens, the system was a result of negotiations with trade unions: they got this system in exchange for accepting a delay in wage increases almost four decades ago, and trade union heads sit on the boards of the mandatory occupational funds.

Since this started with SNCF's special pensions regime, I am all ears why you think occupational segmentation of pension funds is bad in France but good in Iceland.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 06:08:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The funds are run by the unions, and as it was explained to me it's a pension savings scheme, not the pay-as-you-go scheme. I can of course have been misinformed. You also, maybe most relevant to this debate, seem to have a choice of which fund you use.
by freedomfighter on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 08:55:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The public pension system (which, after having checked it, I see still dominates: more than half of money paid) is pay-as-you-go, the other two are funded. (Why does this count for the argument, BTW?) The mandatory occupational funds, being mandatory and occupational, methinks aren't up for choice, only the smallest element, the individual pensions are.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 04:09:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
2.3 units more children who's family is below the US poverty line in US than in France

...while per capita GDP is significantly higher. Thus would per capita GDPs match, I'd expect twice as many poor... and that's not considering differences of measurement and unaccounted-for factors (like stuff the French poor get for free but the US poor have to pay for, say, healthcare).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 06:25:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thus would per capita GDPs match, I'd expect twice as many poor...

No, because then the level of poverty would have been different, see. ;) That's the problem with that kind of measurement.

and that's not considering differences of measurement and unaccounted-for factors (like stuff the French poor get for free but the US poor have to pay for, say, healthcare).

Right. Which is why I before use HDI is variable, because it does take those factors into account. And United States are in place 8 and France in Place 16.

Both high enough to be practically the same in a global perspective. Which is my point. Poverty isn't caused by having a choice in pension schemes, or having private pensions. No matter of wriggling and juggling with facts is going to change that.

by freedomfighter on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 09:00:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, because then the level of poverty would have been different

Nope, the level of poverty in Jérôme's graph is absolute (current US poverty line, read the caption). If you increase French per capita GDP to the US level, more Frenchmen will move across the US poverty level.

I before use HDI is variable, because it does take those factors into account

No, it doesn't take them into account. Check the formula. And again, HDI is not a measure of poverty rates.

To repeat the point you avoided, not only is the ratio of poor people much higher in the USA even if we use an absolute income threshold, but the French-US difference is even stronger if we add the virtual value of for-free public services available to the poor.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 03:43:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]

And your point is what?

My point is simply to answer to your claims up in the thread that the US has low poverty levels.


The US has low poverty levels. Anything else is pure misinformation.

And yet, even using the most favorable measure for the US (using the absolute US threshhold for poverty for all countries, rather than each countrie's level), the US has significantly higher poverty rates than the main continental and Scandinavian European countries.

So your claim is, simply false. And that's not even taking into account discussions on status, positional goods, and social mobility which make the use of relative poverty rates a lot more relevant in reality.

Oh, for a country that has very little poverty, that paragraph from an other diary makes one wonder what "poverty" means for you (all sources, and more on poverty, at that link):


Infantile mortality rates are now rising in the US, a surprising phenomenon in peacetime. Even more impressively, the life expectancy at birth of its poorest citizens is 15 years shorter than that of its more privileged ones.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 11:10:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't find those differences in poverty level especially significant. We are still talking about some of the richest countries in the world, and we are talking about a level of "poverty" which much of the world would consider luxury. These people we are talking about are not starving or freezing or lacking in clothes.

<blockquotes>So your claim is, simply false.</blockquotes>

Evidently not. Look, I understand it's painful to get your myths crushed, but the fact is that  there is no starving masses in the United States, despite what some people like to tell you. Arbitrary measurements does not change this fact even if you call it a poverty measurement.

The case that was presented here was twofold:

  1. That freedom of choice was an argument for keeping the current situation in French pensions. That was honestly a rather silly attempt and nobody is pursuing that line of argumentation any more, thank god.

  2. That if you allow people freedom of choice in pensions, poverty and starving old people  will ensue. The proof for this seem to be that the US has 2.7% units more kids under an arbitrary level of household income, dubbed "the poverty line", despite the fact that none of these kids are retired or starving. The fact that other countries vary significantly more up and down on this measurement completely independntly of how their pension system look should be an indication of the complete irrelevance of this line of argumentation. ;-)

Well, really, is that the best you guys can come up with? And you accuse me of trolling? Come on... :-)
by freedomfighter on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 03:42:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are freezing masses in the US. 842000 people without a home on a given night in February. Yeah, that's insignificant and negligible. 3.5 million people experiencing homelessness in a given year. Of course, the fact these people won't get pensions in the schemes you promote don't matter : life expectancy is very low for the homeless.

There is absolute poverty in the US and other industrialized countries. And the number of people living in poverty varies according to the state policies.

Try to use facts rather than groundless affirmations.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 04:22:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's about 3 per 1000. Compared to Australias 5 per thousand. The estimates in France range between 90.000 and half a million, depending on who you ask, which is about 1.3 per thousand to 7.5 per thousand. In Sweden there is about 2.5 homeless per 1000. In United Kingdom there seems to be a bit over 2 per 1000, and in Canada 4.5 per 1000. And in Japan between 0.12 and 3 per 1000 depending on who you ask.

Although I suspect most of these differences are based on how you measure, again this supposed huge poverty in the US vanished in a big puff of smoke when you actually look at it.

Besides, most people that are truly homeless, ie really have no permanent place to keep their stuff for a significant period of their lifes in the US are homeless for the same reasons as the homeless in France or anywhere else in the western world, and that drug abuse, alcoholism och mental disorders. That is not a poverty issue.

It's hard to measure. I have been officially homeless. Once for 14 months I didn't have an official address. I still had somewhere to sleep (although this admittedly was just a bunkbed in the dormitory at the military). That's not real homelessness, but it counts in the statistics. I've also had a shorter period of a month or so where I moved around amongst friends. I just couldn't get a permanent place to Stay in Stockholm, because the housing market there is highly regulated which in practice means that the only way you kind find a place is to rent illegaly in second hand for ridicolous prices. That's homelessness in a more real sense (although it probably didn't count in the statistics since I put my permanent address at my parents by that time), but not a poverty issue in any real sense.

by freedomfighter on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 11:56:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Read links when you try to reply.

3.5 million people experiencing "homelessness" is 1.5 %, not thousandth.

There are working people, who have a daily job, and are homeless. People who aren't alcoholic or mad. A third of the homeless in France ; a similar share in the US.

And it's not about "not having permanent address". It's about having no place to sleep in, and having to ask to an emergency shelter. The fact that you compare your past situation to homelessness shows you have only a very tenuous grasp with what poverty actually means in the industrialised world.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 12:15:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Experiencing homelessness" during the course of a year is not the same as "being homeless", and therefore not even remotely comparable to the numbers for the other countries, and as such not useful.

And it's not about "not having permanent address". It's about having no place to sleep in, and having to ask to an emergency shelter.

No it's not. It is about not having a permanent adress. That's the definition used, and then number of around 800.000 is what other sources also use. And that is NOT about going to shelters, but not having apermanent address.

The fact that you compare your past situation to homelessness shows you have only a very tenuous grasp with what poverty actually means in the industrialised world.

Realitycheck: It is homelessness in the definitions used to gather the statistics above. I explained this in my post. What was unclear?

Try to use facts rather than groundless affirmations.

Try to not throw stones in glass houses. You just claimed that 1.5% of the population of the US lives in shelters or on the streets. That's ridicolous. It's time to come back to reality.

by freedomfighter on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 02:38:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The word "address" doesn't appear on the link I provided. Nor in the page where that site define homelessness. So I fail to see how you deduce that the statistics are compiled with your definition of homelessness. Again, read the links. (And it's not only shelters and street, either.)

"Experiencing homelessness" may not be the same as "being homeless", but it is a sure sign of strong poverty, of unreliability of housing access. It is an indicator of absolute poverty.

And 1.5% of Americans experiencing homelessness every year is reality, as frightening as the 2% that sleep in jail every night (another indicator of poverty)

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 07:28:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are now grasping on a set up number as a last straw in your mental defences, and completely ignore to check what these numbers mean in reality or that you need to make a comparison with the rest of the world, if these numbers are really to say what you want them to say.

At this point all I can do is to repeat what I already have said until it hits home, but my experience is that it's a very frustration experience to do so, and it takes a long time, and most of the time fails, so I'm not gonna waste my time doing that. You'll just have to continue to live with your pre-concieved idea of how the world looks.

by freedomfighter on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 05:17:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're repeating yourself and not giving any kind of evidence of what you assert, unlike everybody else on this thread. You are the one with no understanding of reality, or a wish to hide it.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 10:28:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I repeat, because you ignored this. The case that was presented here was twofold:

   1. That freedom of choice was an argument for keeping the current situation in French pensions.

   2. That if you allow people freedom of choice in pensions, poverty and starving old people  will ensue.

There has been exactly zero evidence to support this. Instead you are digging down the debate into a quagmire by repeatedly asserting statements that have no contact with reality, and using irrelevant statistics in an effort to polish a complete turd of argumentation.

Then claiming that I don't come with evidence is rather absurd.

It is not debate, it's me trying to explain, and you putting your fingers in your ears and loudly repeating random numbers to yourselves to prop up your myths and avoid challenging your basic assumptions. Or foundational myths, as rg calls them. That was a good post, read it:

http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2007/10/21/65910/511

I think the foundational myths here are:

  1. The effects of an action is what you wanted them to be.
  2. Since we are nice persons those that do not agree with us are evil.
  3. Everything that happens happens because somebody decided it should happen.
  4. The bigger the effect, the more powerful the person.

All of these are wrong. But these myths means that all good things that happens happens because somebody good and powerful wanted them to happen, and all bad things happen because somebody bad and powerful wanted them to happen. And with that attitude, all the evils of the world must come from some really powerful place. And the most powerful place is the US government.

Hence, US is evil. Hence, US policy is evil. Hence, the US must be a much worse place to live than most other places.

The rest of the sick and screwed up arguments here, together with the general fear of freedom, can probably be extracted from these basic assumptions.

by freedomfighter on Sun Oct 28th, 2007 at 09:15:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm scratching my head at how someone could conclude that poverty and homelessness don't really exist in our societies just because he or she hasn't experienced it first-hand.

Besides, most people that are truly homeless, ie really have no permanent place to keep their stuff for a significant period of their lifes in the US are homeless for the same reasons as the homeless in France or anywhere else in the western world, and that drug abuse, alcoholism och mental disorders. That is not a poverty issue.

OK, first:  "Truly" homeless?  Are you really arguing that a person is not "truly" homeless if he or she only lacks a home for, say, two months?  Two weeks?  Two years?  What kind of "significant period" meets this mysterious defintion of "truly"?  Just out of curiosity.

But defining only the chronically homeless are "truly" homeless is a handy way to pretend that poverty and homelessness aren't real societal problems that need to be addressed.

Second, your definition of "most" needs some work.  According to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council:

Approximately one-third have mental illnesses. Perhaps one-half have a current or past drug or alcohol addiction.

That is not my definition of "most."  It is, of course, more convenient to believe that the only thing that could possibly lead to "true" homelessness and "true" poverty in our enlightened societies is mental illness, but that's just fantasy.

There are many factors that lead to homelessness, including domestic violence and illness - and for the record, I'm talking about illness of the physical kind, since it seems that some people believe that those who suffer from illness of the mental kind are for some reason less deserving of sympathy or support.  Which is not a belief I share, but let's move on.

Next, mental illness and drug addiction are issues of poverty, in that the poor and homeless have far fewer resources for dealing with those problems than the rich and homed.  Diseases of the physical and mental kind affect the poor and homeless in roughly the same proportions as the general population.  But the poor have fewer (or zero) treatment options, and are likely to encounter much greater difficulty getting help.  As a consequence, they may not recover from illnesses (mental and otherwise) that a person with more resources might recover from easily.

What's the result of all this?  Let's just talk about my hometown, the so-called "Capital of the Free World."  In Washington, D.C., according to the Washington Legal Aid Center for the Homeless, nearly half of all homeless people are women and children.  One of the largest homeless shelters in D.C. is run by the CCNV:

Over 65% of the shelter guests work full- or part -time on a regular basis.

That's right, they're working full- or part-time, and are still homeless.  They're living in a homeless shelter, not a military barracks.  This is genuine poverty and true homelessness.  It's real, and denying that won't make it so.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 01:54:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm scratching my head at how someone could conclude that poverty and homelessness don't really exist in our societies just because he or she hasn't experienced it first-hand.

Well, that would be puzzling. Now who are you referring to exactly?

This debate is now edging into to the world of underhand accusations and straw men. I'm not gonna go there. I will not defend positions I have never had and I will not stand for being accused of opinions that have nothing to do with what I said.

Thank you for debating seriously.

That is not my definition of "most".

First of all those numbers relate to not having a permanent home, not the people living on the streets or in shelters. Second of all one third + one half = five sixths, and 5/6th is indeed "most".

by freedomfighter on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 02:44:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now who are you referring to exactly?

You were the one who brought up your experience, as if it had some relevance to your argument.

Second of all one third + one half = five sixths, and 5/6th is indeed "most".

Only an idiot or an ideologue would argue that the one-third and the one-half could not possibly overlap and must therefore total five-sixths.  Have you heard of a Venn diagram?  Or are you just being intellectually dishonest?

I will accept no barbs from you about debating seriously, thank you.  Study some basic math, then come back and chat.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 10:23:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My experience does have relevance. It is your conclusion of what my pinions re that are weird.

The third and the half does not exactly overlap, which is rather obvious. Thus it must in total be more than one half, and hence, it is "most".

You are not debating seriously, you are rude, and asking me to study mathematics is seriously stupid.

I'm sorry that what I'm going to say now is gonna sound as rude as what you said. But the difference is that it's true.

I was invited here by a friend to discuss politics. Unfortunately, this place is full of people with preconceived idea who gets angry when reality comes knocking on the door. It's rather pointless to continue debating with those people since it prevents all serious debate, since the only thing that is accepted is sucking up and agreeing to your fantasies of how you want the world to behave, even when that is not how things are.

You want the poverty in the US to be horrid. No, you need it. The US must be a horrible place for poor, because the US politics must be evil, because the US is the most powerful country in the world, so if they aren't evil, everything would be fine, right?

Sorry, you have no idea of how things work, you don't understand a pluralistic society and as a consequence you are afraid of freedom, and instead grab comfort in collectivistic myths.

I wish I understood how to make people like you understand. But I guess I never will.

by freedomfighter on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 05:17:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here, I think I found what you were looking for:

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 05:43:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right. Trying to bash down walls work better that talking to them. You are right. :-)
by freedomfighter on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 06:50:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]

You want the poverty in the US to be horrid. No, you need it. The US must be a horrible place for poor, because the US politics must be evil, because the US is the most powerful country in the world, so if they aren't evil, everything would be fine, right?

Just so you know, you are responding to an American person, and probably close to half of the regular readers of this site are Americans.

Unpatriotic ones, presumably.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 09:18:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
People are just as prone (if not more) to harbouring myths about their own country as of others.

Unpatroticism is good.

by freedomfighter on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 09:29:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jérôme told you tsp is American, but she herself already told you more in her very first response:

Let's just talk about my hometown

She is taking about stuff she saw with her own eyes, it's you who clings to myths six thousand miles away.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 04:26:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact remains, however, that you have failed utterly to present a meaningful definition of poverty - relative or absolute, that is applicable to individuals.

You have cited three measures of poverty, two of which are population averages (HDI and life expectancy) and the third of which is clearly and evidently nonsense (a dollar a day is meaningless as a definition of poverty - even if you lived well above this threshold, such as for two dollars a day, you would still be in abject poverty).

So far in this thread, the only remotely meaningful definition of poverty presented is as a fraction of the median income.

As it happens, I agree with you that this is a somewhat ad hoc measure, but over small timescales (a couple of decades) in developed societies it works well enough as a proxy for what we want to measure.

Personally, I would propose a definition of poverty that goes as follows:

A person is in poverty if (s)he does not have reliable access to all of the following:

  • Shelter (including heating and clothing)
  • Balanced and nourishing diet (including clean water)
  • Healthcare and medicine

This is very basic - it could easily be argued that reliable light sources and access to information/education also belong here.

Clearly, under this definition, the US has higher poverty rates than virtually any Western European country. Equally clearly, under this definition privatized pension schemes do lead directly to poverty.

I acknowledge, of course, that this scheme is not perfect. However, I challenge anyone who disagrees with it to propose a better one him- or herself, or refer me to a better one already proposed.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 05:45:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So far in this thread, the only remotely meaningful definition of poverty presented is as a fraction of the median income.

Of the four definitions of poverty discussed here, this is the completely meaningless one. That is not poverty at all, as it says absolutely NOTHING about how you actually live, and how your life is, while the others, HDI in particular, does say a lot about it.

And yes, they are national averages. They ALL are. Because what we are discussing is the poverty of countries. Duh.

I realized yesterday, that when I grew up we were amongst the poorest ones around. We had some neighbours which I know didn't have much money, and we kinda saw them as poor, and probably they were poorer than us. But this makes us pretty much the second poorest family around in the town where I lived. My mum when to first high-school and then university while working at the same time. This was the 60s and there wan't much social services around. But where we poor? No, we had food and housing and health care and went to school. But yet, according to your definitions, I lived in abject dreadful poverty and should be compared to starving kids in India, because I  was amongst the poorest in my country, just as they are amongst the poorest in their country.

That attitude with it's dreadful antihumanism and complete ignorance of the realities of people who are living in despair is completely incomprehensible to me.

Maybe you can lift this incomprehention. Explain to my why, to you, it is better if everybody starves than if everybody lives reasonably good lives but some people live even better lives. Because that IS the conclusion of what you are saying, when you say that the only poverty that exists is relative poverty.

btw, I knew quickly that this forum was full of leftist people, but this is the first forum I've even come across where some discount HDI. Usually, when you talk about poverty leftists will lift HDI up as a good measurement. I'm astonished.

by freedomfighter on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 12:09:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You ARE aware that there were hundreds of thousand of people who where living in slums, aka bidonville, in the 60's in France, aren't you?


Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 12:18:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. Now, first of all, that actually doesn't matter for the sake of argument. Because Jake claims all poverty is RELATIVE. And the means that even if there were slums in France, as long as I don't see them, they don't count!

Because, why should we limit ourself to countries? Heck, I could claim that there is a large problem with poverty in the filmstar villas of Beverly Hills, by having a relative definition of poverty and then just looking at Beverly Hill, and ignoring the poor areas of Los Angeles.

And hey, if I'm not allowed to draw a line around Beverly Hills, why should I draw the line around the US? Shouldn't I include Mexico at least? Well, why, yes, I should.

This just once again shows how ridiculous relative poverty is as a concept.

Second of all: I didn't grow up in France. There were no slums in the country I grew up in. I really, honestly, were amongst the poorest of the country.

Regarding the stormy presents assumption that I think poverty doesn't exist because I haven't experienced it,
I'm seriously starting to believe that the reason you people believe the myths about relative poverty is because you haven't experienced it. Well. I have.  

by freedomfighter on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 02:53:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. Now, first of all, that actually doesn't matter for the sake of argument. Because Jake claims all poverty is RELATIVE. And the means that even if there were slums in France, as long as I don't see them, they don't count!

For someone who waxes indignant about straw men and glass houses you seem to pay dreadfully little attention to what I actually wrote. Or perhaps I made my point insufficiently clear? I shall attempt to elaborate.

Over the space of one, or even two decades, in a reasonably industrialised nation, the economy does not grow perceptibly. Even if we take the growth numbers reported at face value, and ignore the fact that part of the growth in most Western countries stems from funny-money being moved around between different accounts, a decade of growth - say, the five-year periods immediately before and after a policy is adopted - would grow the economy by less than forty percent. This makes median income relevant, because significant changes in the income distribution quickly become a zero-sum game.

Thus, if you wish to measure how a policy affects poverty, some fraction of the median income offers a quite reasonable proxy. In the sense of evaluating concrete policies - which was the original topic of this discussion - that makes median income a perfectly relevant tool.

Your example of North Korea having low relative poverty, while correct, is a red herring as long as the policy proposals under debate will have an effect on the overall economy that are several orders of magnitude less than the difference between the economic output of the country discussed and North Korea, which is virtually always the case.

Furthermore, even though I defended - and will continue to defend - median income as a valuable proxy for short-term calculations, you completely sidestepped the fact that I proposed an semi-absolute (absolute in space, but relative in time) measure of poverty: Shelter, heat, food water, education, access to information, access to standard of care-level medical care, access to medicine ('access' in this context means reliable access). I would ask you to evaluate this poverty metric.

I would further ask you to cease putting words in my mouth that I did not, in fact, type. I specifically stated that I agree with you about the lack of usefulness of fraction of median income as a proxy for poverty in some cases, due to its somewhat ad hoc nature.

I also believe that you overlook an important fact in your discussion of the arbitraryness of boundries used in the calculation of relative poverty: The natural boundary to use is the area of jurisdiction in which the policy is being contemplated, since the value of fraction-of-median-income seems to me to be in short-term-evaluation of policies.

Furthermore, I will happily acknowledge both that fraction-of-median income is meaningless outside the evaluation of reasonably industrialized economies (a criterion that neither North Korea nor Beverley Hills fulfills) and that it is not directly comparable to most other metrics of poverty.

This is not a problem, however: All that is relevant in evaluating policies is whether it goes up or down, so all that is required for it to work as a proxy is that there is a monotonous relationship between the fraction of median income and whatever poverty measure you find meaningful. That's the bitch of using proxies: They are usually not directly comparable, and a good proxy in one measurement regime may be a bad one in another.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 05:34:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Over the space of one, or even two decades, in a reasonably industrialised nation, the economy does not grow perceptibly.

This statement is not in agreement with reality.

Even if we take the growth numbers reported at face value, and ignore the fact that part of the growth in most Western countries stems from funny-money being moved around between different accounts

a decade of growth - say, the five-year periods immediately before and after a policy is adopted - would grow the economy by less than forty percent.

And that is not "perceptibly". Sir, you must be jesting.

This makes median income relevant, because significant changes in the income distribution quickly become a zero-sum game.

Income distribution is per definition a zero-sum game, since it's a matter of how the total income is distributed. And the total income is always, guess what, 100% of the total income. Duh.

INCOME is never a zero-sum game, though.

Thus, if you wish to measure how a policy affects poverty, some fraction of the median income offers a quite reasonable proxy. In the sense of evaluating concrete policies - which was the original topic of this discussion - that makes median income a perfectly relevant tool.

To measure income distribution yes. To meaure poverty, no.

Your example of North Korea having low relative poverty, while correct, is a red herring

No, because the point is that with your argumentation, North Korea is a less poor nation than France, because the income distribution is more even. And that is absurd. Which is my point.

Furthermore, even though I defended - and will continue to defend - median income as a valuable proxy for short-term calculations, you completely sidestepped the fact that I proposed an semi-absolute (absolute in space, but relative in time)

Space?

measure of poverty: Shelter, heat, food water, education, access to information, access to standard of care-level medical care, access to medicine ('access' in this context means reliable access). I would ask you to evaluate this poverty metric.

In fact, that's pretty much what HDI does. Which you didn't like.

I also believe that you overlook an important fact in your discussion of the arbitraryness of boundries used in the calculation of relative poverty: The natural boundary to use is the area of jurisdiction in which the policy is being contemplated, since the value of fraction-of-median-income seems to me to be in short-term-evaluation of policies.

You see, I don't agree with that, because in my opinon, poor people continue to be poor even if policies change in neighbouring countries.

Furthermore, I will happily acknowledge both that fraction-of-median income is meaningless outside the evaluation of reasonably industrialized economies (a criterion that neither North Korea nor Beverley Hills fulfills) and that it is not directly comparable to most other metrics of poverty.

This is not a problem, however

No, it's not a problem, but that fact that it doesn't relate to other metrics of poverty means either it or the other metrics doesn't really measure poverty at all. And we already know which one that doesn't.

It's time to stop this stupid charade. Percentage of mean income is not and will never be a valid measurement of poverty. No matter how much you twist and turn and start using fancy words that make you feel like you understand things, it is a measurement of income distribution, not poverty. And that's that.

by freedomfighter on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 05:18:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Apologies for butting in, but I do have a question.

What makes a person "poor"?

If I have a job, house, car, beautiful partner etc. and then lose it all and end up with a mountain of debt I'll never pay off, as long as the state allows me (or has to give me by law) a roof, heating, food allowance, clothing allowance...then I'm not poor on your definition, I think, as "poor" is destitution--no access to reliable food source, polluted water, no access to sanitation...

Have I got that right?

I think that's a valuable measure of poverty, it's one that basically states that "the West" is analagous to the middle-classes in victorian times--globally we are no many (numerically), and internally we have our miseries, but the "real" misery is among the majority (numerically) "working class" who live today in "the poor countries" (Niger, Chad, etc..)

But going back to the person who lost everything (in the West), they're still "poor" in any useful meaning of the word, in that they are the opposite of what they used to be ("well off", I suppose)..."poor" equals "badly off" and "badly off" is....relative?

So now I wonder if the argument here isn't maybe about what "poor" means, when "poor" has both "absolute" and "relative" meanings.

Given the "absolute" meaning (let's say less that 5% of the western popluations are "really" poor), I think there is then a question of where our "richness" comes from, and the "left wing" (heh!) attitude is that it comes from appropriation: the rich appropriate the resrouces of the rest--through coercion if necessary--and that relates back to pensions because the U.S. trend (he guesses wildly) is for "poverty" (access to goods and services, let's say) to be growing--not to "third world" standards--that would be a complete collapse given starting points, but certainly...ach...I'm wildly off topic I'm sure, but I think....there's a confusion here where I understand your definition of poverty...and in a sense I agree that most western "poverty" is psychological rather than physical--and yet, I think there is real poverty: e.g. living next to a motorway in an area full of violence and despair, where the school is also full of violence and despair, and the only jobs take twelve hours to do and if I do one I have mostly no money...'coz if you can't call the misery and lack-of-hope much more than 5% of a population might feel at their predicaments...and now I wonder if 5% or so is a valid figure?  If I were to take London, are there about 5% who are basically screwed from the off?

Ach....maybe I no makea ze sense, but...well....if I had a point to make it's up in dem words somewhere.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 05:54:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I have a job, house, car, beautiful partner etc. and then lose it all and end up with a mountain of debt I'll never pay off, as long as the state allows me (or has to give me by law) a roof, heating, food allowance, clothing allowance...then I'm not poor on your definition, I think, as "poor" is destitution--no access to reliable food source, polluted water, no access to sanitation...

I think it's rather obvious that these types of poverty are not equavalent, and I also find it rather obvious that just having none of these debts, but a low income, is not the same as starving. And more importantly, I find it completely obvious that a person that is starving is poor, even if his neighbours are starving with them.

And I find it rather astonishing that people here claim to have a different opinion. (It's difficult for me to believe that anybody really do have a different opinion, I think they are just claiming this to be able to grasp on to their set of beliefs).

think there is then a question of where our "richness" comes from,

That's a good question. It was answered in 1776 by Adam Smith, and the answer is specialization and trade.

I'm wildly off topic

Actually, you are more on topic than most. :)

by freedomfighter on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 07:19:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And that is not "perceptibly". Sir, you must be jesting.

Not at all. Given the width of the confidence intervals frequently employed in economics, forty percent is indeed hardly perceptible.

Further, as Jerome et al have abundantly proven, for all industrial countries and for the past few decades, economic growth has taken place solely in the top half of the income distribution. Thus, any policy that makes changes in the lower half of the income distribution - the half that you claim to care about, is a zero-sum game.

INCOME is never a zero-sum game, though.

Since you yourself are in the game of gratuitous nitpicking, I would point out that this statement is trivially disproven. If your boss decides to reduce your pay and increase his, this is indeed a change in the income distribution that to zeroth order is a zero-sum game.

This is a point that you would be wise to give some thought, given that your entire hypothesis (if we are kind enough to call it that) is contingent upon this statement being correct.

To measure income distribution yes. To meaure poverty, no.

Saying that does not make it so. Neither does repeating it.

Your example of North Korea having low relative poverty, while correct, is a red herring

No, because the point is that with your argumentation, North Korea is a less poor nation than France, because the income distribution is more even. And that is absurd. Which is my point.

You are either completely missing the point or deliberately ignoring it. I will charitably assume that the former is the case, and attempt to clarify once again:

My claim is that fraction-of-median-income (FoMI) is a useful metric to make before-and-after comparisons within the same first-world country. North Korea is not a valid comparison, unless you want to claim that NK is a first-world country, which would undermine the rest of your argument.

Furthermore, even though I defended - and will continue to defend - median income as a valuable proxy for short-term calculations, you completely sidestepped the fact that I proposed an semi-absolute (absolute in space, but relative in time)

Space?

That country A gets richer does not affect the poverty threshold or the poverty level in country B. Hence absolute in space. Technological improvements, however, will increase the poverty threshold over time, therefore it is relative

measure of poverty: Shelter, heat, food water, education, access to information, access to standard of care-level medical care, access to medicine ('access' in this context means reliable access). I would ask you to evaluate this poverty metric.

In fact, that's pretty much what HDI does. Which you didn't like.

No, that is not what HDI does. HDI is based on population averages, which means that an increase in the living conditions of the richest half of the population can and does mask worsening living conditions in the poorer half of the population, especially in such countries as the United States.

What I proposed was to determine the income required to maintain reliable access to shelter, education, food, water, access to information and education and access to health care and medication, and using this threshold to quantify the poverty level in a society.

I also believe that you overlook an important fact in your discussion of the arbitraryness of boundries used in the calculation of relative poverty: The natural boundary to use is the area of jurisdiction in which the policy is being contemplated, since the value of FoMI seems to me to be in short-term-evaluation of policies.

You see, I don't agree with that, because in my opinon, poor people continue to be poor even if policies change in neighbouring countries.

Perhaps you should re-read the comment you are responding to, because your reply makes no sense whatsoever. FoMI does not depend on changes in neighbouring countries.

Furthermore, I will happily acknowledge both that FoMI is meaningless outside the evaluation of reasonably industrialized economies (a criterion that neither North Korea nor Beverley Hills fulfills) and that it is not directly comparable to most other metrics of poverty.

[...]

This is not a problem, however


No, it's not a problem, but that fact that it doesn't relate to other metrics of poverty [...]

There is no reason that it should. The other measures of poverty that have been reviewed are most meaningfully used to measure poverty in third-world economies. FoMI is applicable only to first-world countries. There is no reason to expect a proxy valid for one measurement regime to correlate with the proxies valid for other, non-overlapping measurement regimes.

It's time to stop this stupid charade.

Indeed. I look forward to take up the discussion again, when you have realised that poverty in first-world countries is not the same as poverty in third-world countries.

No matter how much you twist and turn and start using fancy words that make you feel like you understand things,

I do not believe that this remark requires a reply. I do, however, think that it is worthwhile to highlight it. The reader is invited to compare and contrast this statement to your previous remarks regarding civility and high-minded debate.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 03:51:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]

 I knew quickly that this forum was full of leftist people

You do realize that it's not an insult to be called a leftist? Most of us are proud "leftist people."

It doesn't mean we want strict equality, just basic decency. It simply means that we think CEO income jumping form 34 times average wages 30 years ago to 400 times today should not be taken as a good thing - it's not a sign of energy or talent unleashed, it's a sign of society breaking down under the weight of greed, selfishness and the promotion of the interests of a very narrow group of people in the guise of pushing "freedom" and "merit" and work - or, in other words, "the poor get what they deserve" and "screw your neighbor and you'll go forward."

:: ::

I note that you did not care to comment on the life expectancy numbers. How do you explain away the fact that the bottom 10% by income in the US have a shorter life expectancy than a great number of third world countries?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 05:59:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I used the word "leftist" matter-of-factly. What on earth gave you the idea that it was an insult?

"It doesn't mean we want strict equality, just basic decency."

No, it doesn't mean that. Because people who are not leftist also want that. The world is not made up of kind-hearted leftists and stone-cold fascists, you know.

"It simply means that we think CEO income jumping form 34 times average wages 30 years ago to 400 times today should not be taken as a good thing"

And neither does anybody else. However, only leftists think it's a BAD thing. And the reason for that is that most leftists have a collectivistic and hierarchical mindset and as a result wish only to have as few people people as possible that make more money then them.

The result is that you are concerned mostly about the rich. I personally care mostly about the poor. I couldn't bloody care less about how much a CEO makes. It's not interesting, the CEO can take care of himself. It's not my problem. What I care about is how the poorest of the world live, and how to improve that. I also care about how the state money is being used and how we can get good health care (as in France, and opposed to Sweden and Poland, for example) and things like that.

You only care about how high peoples incomes are, and to support that, you guys make up facts and alternate realities where freedom makes people poor. And when somebody comes and point out that this isn't in correlation with reality, you take your alternative reality and makes that person evil.

Because he has to be, right? Because he is challenging your preconcieved ideas? He sais your standpoint is wrong, and therefore, he challenges the authority and unity of your little cosy collective. And that, per definition is evil, right?

Because "truth" has nothing to do with reality for you guys. No, "truth" that's the collective. You are per definition right and the good guys, and therefore everybody that doens't agree with you must be the bad guys, right?

That fact that your politics have NEVER worked, EVER, no matter what shape or form they have been tried in, and that leftist policies only lead to poverty, that doesn't matter. Because you are right. Per definition. Like the Pope.

If you want debate (but I'm pretty sure you don't want it, you just want to sit here in your box and agree with each other) then you need to start listening and understanding, and trying to understand how the world actually works. And yes, that's painful, and yes that takes time and yes that takes energy.

It is without a doubt much more comfortable and easy to sit cosily and just agree with each other and prop up your own egos by slapping each others back and thinking "look everyone here agrees with me, we are so smart".

But do you want to be lazy and comfy, or do yo want to be right? Doo yo want to walk around in your mental box oozing righteous indignation over how horrible it is that the rest of the world doesn't behave like you want it too, or do you want to help improve it?

Because if you are happy being wrong as long as everybody else are, then there is no point for me to stay.

Over and out.

by freedomfighter on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 05:17:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]

And neither does anybody else. However, only leftists think it's a BAD thing. And the reason for that is that most leftists have a collectivistic and hierarchical mindset and as a result wish only to have as few people people as possible that make more money then them.

That's where you have it wrong. We don't mind some inequality. We do mind when inequality is growing and incomes for those outside the top 1% are stagnating or declining.

We mind this gap:

And this one:

and this one:

and this one:

All of these show that the overall income is growing, sometimes quite strongly, but that growth is going ONLY to the very rich.

THAT's what we're fighting. The totally skewed sharing of the fruits of growth over the past 30 years - which is the direct result of the neo-liberal, "greed is good", "the poor have what they deserve", "screw society" ideology.

Runaway neoliberalism is what we're fighting. Not capitalism per se. In fact, regulated (or social-democratic) capitalism is what made our countries rich and built the middle class. But it's not what we have now.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 09:26:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"That's where you have it wrong. We don't mind some inequality. We do mind when inequality is growing"

Growing from what level?

As always, you care more about relative things than absolute things.

by freedomfighter on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 09:30:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]

As always, you care more about relative things than absolute things.

That's what you really want to believe, but just look at the last graph I posted: the median wage is stagnating. There is no progress, in absolute terms (your own criteria) for the middle classes, despite fast growth.

So, according to your criteria (as long as the poor are better off, who cares how well the rich fare), the current system is a failure. It's not benefitting in any way to the vast majority of the population.

And the fact that people like you pretend that all is well ("GDP is growing! The economy is doing great!") does not go well with the  middle classes who see the rich getting extravagantly richer while they themselves are working ever harder just to stay put.

Incomes are not growing for the vast majority. You can spin that like you want it, it's bad under any criteria.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 10:53:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In fact, this is exactly what insurance companies do every single day. It is in fact what the business of insurance is all about.

They have to have positive returns probability for each of their contracts. Your four grandparents lived into their 90's ? Maybe your life expectancy is too long to retire. No contract for you. That's the result of individual insurance contracts for pensions.

Including much of the states assets, so that's not an argument. Having your money in the bank is not more risky than giving them to the state, and the reason for that is that states have bank guarantees, which are a necessity to have a well functioning financial system.

Do your homework. By definition, the state is less risky than the banks, since it can always rise taxes if needs be : it has access to all of a country's wealth. That's why the government bonds are always the highest rated equity in a given country. The state guarantees banks account only up to a certain amount that's way too low to retire on.

The claim that it is risky is complete and utter bogus.

The fact that millions of people have had their assets wiped out in various crises  in the 20th century shows that that sentence you wrote is complete and utter bogus. Systemic risk isn't zero.

A dozen vs one. Yeah. MUCH better.

A dozen actors in which I have no control, vs one in which I have a voice. Yep. Much better not to run the risk of having a Soros wipe out my pension plan.

In fact, you are argung that Sarkozy is trying to do just that right now.

He's trying, but not having much success. And I had, and will have, a voice in the process, unlike in the case of markets.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 08:50:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's funny you know. I have private pension contracts. Individual for me. Nothing of what you say above about them is true.

A dozen actors in which I have no control, vs one in which I have a voice

It's an illusion that you have more control by voting than by buying.

by freedomfighter on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 09:24:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nice to see you go into so much detail about your private pension contract. Care to detail rather than troll ?


Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 09:30:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That comment is trolling. I'm not gonna bite.
by freedomfighter on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 10:48:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, so then again you agree that there are no principal difference between private and state employment and that it is equally horrible. So why should then the state people retire earlier?

The traditional argument is that generally state employees have a lower income over the extent of their lifetime, so that an earlier retirement is one of the few perks that gets people to sign up for the jobs in the first place, and so helps keep the cost to the state at relatively low levels.

I prefer to negotiation myself. Especially if it's between the union and the state-owned corporation. State-owned corporations have a tendency to be filled with people from the political left. And, whaddayouknow, so does the union. The result is that there are close buddies on both sides. Which in turn is one major reason why people in public service tend to have lower pay than similar jobs in the private sector.

Well you may prefer to negotiate yourself, but why should your employer negotiate with you? Unless your job is absolutely individual this will create nothing but problems for them. Firstly, if  each member of staff negotiates their own deal, then the company has to run each contract past their lawyers and how much money would that add up to that could be going on staff wages.

The vast left wing conspiracy to keep staff wages low is a bit of a reach too.

So why on earth should the union and the state negotiate over something that in fact almost only affects me?

So you want to take advantage of all of the work of previous generations of union activists who have campaigned and struck and gone without wages to bargain to actually get  the pension in the first place, and now its accepted you wish to run out and  to get the best deal and fuck everyone else?

you can argue that it dosn't only effect you, without  a large group of employees banding together whats to stop the employer gradually getting rid of its pension payments, as the government will take up the slack with the state pension?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Oct 23rd, 2007 at 07:43:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The traditional argument is that generally state employees have a lower income over the extent of their lifetime, so that an earlier retirement is one of the few perks that gets people to sign up for the jobs in the first place, and so helps keep the cost to the state at relatively low levels.

Do you think That system is fair to state employees? And why can't you be a state employee with normal salary and late retirement, if you like?

And again, unless the extra money the state pays for those pensions match up to the lower income, that means the state employees don't get what they should have. Is that fair?

Well you may prefer to negotiate yourself, but why should your employer negotiate with you?

Because if I negotiate with them, they have no choice than to negotiate with me.

Unless your job is absolutely individual this will create nothing but problems for them.

That's funny, usually it is claimed that it is the unions who are demanding collective negotiations, while private companies want individual ones. And most jobs today are absolutely inividual. Of course, if you would rather your union negotiate for you, then that's fine. That's what the union is there for. But hey, one of the main argument in the original post was one of choice. Couldn't we let state employees have a choice in this issue?

Firstly, if  each member of staff negotiates their own deal, then the company has to run each contract past their lawyers

Only if they demand contractual changes. Which is very unusual.

and how much money would that add up to that could be going on staff wages.

They have to do that anyway.

The vast left wing conspiracy to keep staff wages low is a bit of a reach too.

That's not a conspiracy. A conspiracy demands a secret agenda. This is not a secret agenda, it's just an effect. It's just something that happens when friends sit at both ends of a negotiating table. It's nothing stranger than that the state and big private companies are very chummy here in France, when the people in the top of the state and in the top of the companies went to school together. It's not a conspiracy, it just something that naturally happens in that situation.

And you agree that state salaries are lower. Yet you haven't asked yourself why, or if that's a good thing. You just claim that because state salaries are lower that have to have better pension schemes. Personally I think a more natural reaction would be to demand higher salaries.

So you want to take advantage of all of the work of previous generations of union activists who have campaigned and struck and gone without wages to bargain to actually get  the pension in the first place, and now its accepted you wish to run out and  to get the best deal and fuck everyone else?

Exactly how do I take "advantage" of this? And exactly how would I "fuck" everybody else in this scenario?

you can argue that it dosn't only effect you, without  a large group of employees banding together whats to stop the employer gradually getting rid of its pension payments, as the government will take up the slack with the state pension?

These pensions are state pensions. The system works by the employers paying money to the state, money which are then distributed to the retirees. If they were private pensions, we wouldn't have this discussion.
by freedomfighter on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 04:32:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problems with private pensions:

  • some people make bad decisions (unlucky, incompetence, circumstances such as divorce, illness, etc...) - or get screwed over by the employer/pension company (cf Enron, Maxwell et al) Should they end up destitute as a result of their decisions, or do we need a backup solution - which can only provided by the State? (if yes, why leave the State with only the burden of the bad cases, it might as well have access to the whole pool of people);

  • some jobs have different degrees of unpleasantness and harship. some people have different health backgrounds. How do you prevent private companies from picking and choosing their clients? Who will take care of the tough cases? Again, if you regulate obligations on the insurance companies, why not do the job directly and more simply, without having to worry about enforcement which, as we know, is heavily subject to lobbying and lapses...

Ultimately, unless you ARE willing to let people die in the streets from the consequences of their inability to get a good deal, their being screwed over, or their being a "bad profile", you will end up with the State - taxpayers - carrying the burden and you will not be better off.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 06:29:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, some people make bad decisions. And this happens also when those people work for the state or are politicians. In fact, the further away from the person that they decide over, the more likely it is that the decision they make is bad.

That's why big centralist totalitarian states usually are bad for people. The decision makers are removed from the people they decide over.

The "getting screwed" parts are when companies are running the type of pension schemes that the states typically run here in Europe, ie, systems where the current workers pay for the current pensions. When companies do that, and they go bankrupt, people get screwed. It's a bad idea.

When states does this, and states run into bad finances, whaddayouknow, people tend to get screwed too. It's still a bad idea. Most of the people working today will have to pay both for those who are pensioneers now, and they will have to save up for their own pensions, becuase todays pension systems isn't working. And we're getting the squeeze. Postponing it is just gonna make it worse.

How do you prevent private companies from picking and choosing their clients? Who will take care of the tough cases?

Well, if you want to do that, you can do it by saying that companies aren't allowed to pick and choose. Done! It can however be argued that they should be able to. As noted above, it's probably a good idea to retire engine drivers and pilots early. Now, are you really suggesting that everybody else should pay for their early retirement? That kinda goes against the arguments in this thread so far...

Again, if you regulate obligations on the insurance companies, why not do the job directly and more simply, without having to worry about enforcement which, as we know, is heavily subject to lobbying and lapses...

Because doing the job directly is even more heavily subject to lobbying and lapses, as this whole discussion shows. What is the unions standpoint on this issue of not lobbying and lapses?

by freedomfighter on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 12:11:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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