# A continuation of our discussion in the "The club has 53 members...." thread

#### stapel

##### Super Moderator
Staff member
A thread from 2007 was recently restarted, and then went off the math-specific track. People were having an interesting discussion (and were being very polite about it), and it has been requested that this discussion be moved to an appropriate location so that it might continue. So here's the continuation!

The rabbit-trail started with the following messages:

It is not funny that students use a calculator to do basic arithmetic. I think that companies like texas instruments are parasites for pushing calculators as much as they have.

I can remember listening to a instructor (of math instructors) rave about how she'd gotten her students to estimate. "Suppose I ask them to estimate the cost of three items that cost $3.99 each. By estimating, they can tell me that the cost is about$12." But she skipped over the part where the kids weren't required to learn their basic multiplication tables. Her students didn't know that 3×4=123×4=12. Instead, they'd plugged [3][x][3][.][9][9][ENTER] into their graphing calculator, gotten an answer of 11.96, and rounding to the nearest whole number, being 12.

Instead of learning to estimate, based on assumed (but missing) skills, they instead were reinforced in the middle- and high-school "rule" that every answer is a whole number, or at least one of the basic fractions (so an answer of 0.49 would "really" be 1221).

I can't fault Texas Instruments for seeing a need and filling it. TI didn't create the need; it merely exploited it.

This is why I do not support the capitalistic system we live under. In general, we never do anything for the good of the people, but rather we do what will make the most money. Unfortunately public education for K-12 students isn't profitable. There are enough rich people who send their kids to very good private school and these kids fill the need for educated workers after graduating college.

This is an interesting topic for a separate discussion. IMO, capitalism is the best system possible. It allows people to do for themselves what _they_ think is good for them and not what some bureaucrat in a state or federal department considers good for "the people".

Another point: the US has the best private universities in the world, but some of the worst public schools in the developed world. Could it be the case of markets being more efficient than bureaucrats ?

Capitalism only works for a selected few-the rich.
Capitalism creates poverty, racism, poor schools- especially for the poor-and so many other bad things. As a country/world we never do anything that is in the interest of the people. How can that be a good system?

"Never"? Really? Things have gotten immeasurably worse in all aspects of existence in the last two or three hundred years? You'd rather go back to the Middle Ages, when (apparently) things were good and rulers cared most about the least of their citizens? And the Inquisition only sought to help subjects live their best lives?

I'm not saying that the current system is without flaws, or that we don't need government to intervene in various areas and various ways. But I'm reminded of the old saying: "Democracy is the worst form of government -- except for all the rest."

Don't you see how much more we could have moved forward if not for capitalism?

I see North Korea

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”
The great man was almost right, except the miseries under socialism aren't shared equally either.

pka
Do you really think that things are really equal for people, especially when they are young?
Do poor/middle class people get to go to Stanford University at the same rate as rich people? If not, how can that be fair? People should be able to go to the college that they get into, not what their parents' can afford.
How can you say IMO, capitalism is the best system possible. It allows people to do for themselves what _they_ think is good for them....? If your parents are poor, then what are the chacges that you get to go to an expensive good private college? Capitalism is the reason why there is a gap between the rich and the poor. Darn, why do we even need money in our society? If you work, then you can get whatever goods you need. There is no reason why someone can't do surgeries on Monday and work in the grocery store on Tuesday because they love dealing with people. In a sane society, everyone would be able to become what they want (up to some limitation)
One last question: Does anyone know of anyone who left their social class for a different one (ie working class became rich, rich became middle class)?

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”
The great man was almost right, except the miseries under socialism aren't shared equally either.

Do you really believe what you said about socialism is true? Doing what is in the people's best interest has to help! Everyone having good shelter, access to food, access to health care, access to child care, etc. has to be a better place for everyone.

Doing what is in the people's best interest has to help! Everyone having good shelter, access to food, access to health care, access to child care, etc. has to be a better place for everyone.
However, "GREED" takes over in every corner of every "ism" - making that "do good" assumption null and void.

I have seen lower middle class children in Bangladesh and India (supposedly Socialistic countries ) wither away with hunger - do not see that in this capitalistic country (USA). As I know, all the communistic countries came out of capitalistic torture (monarchy, colonialism, feudalism, etc.). After few decades of progress towards equality - GREED takes over.

Dictatorship is the ideal form of government. The problem we have on Earth is that no one will ever qualify to be the dictator!

However, "GREED" takes over in every corner of every "ism" - making that "do good" assumption null and void.

I have seen lower middle class children in Bangladesh and India (supposedly Socialistic countries ) wither away with hunger - do not see that in this capitalistic country (USA). As I know, all the communistic countries came out of capitalistic torture (monarchy, colonialism, feudalism, etc.). After few decades of progress towards equality - GREED takes over.
No country in this world was ever under a socialist system.

Under capitalism, 1 in 8 American kids go hungry in America (see here). I could be wrong, but maybe if the wealth was spread out a bit these kids wouldn't go hungry (that's called sarcasm).

If people could get what they want and live well, why would they want more?
Many years ago the city of Boston had an increase in bicycle theft. A bike store donated (I think) 100 bikes which they painted taxicab yellow and placed them on street corners. They asked the public to leave the bikes on a corner after they were done using the bike. The bike theft decreased greatly. Why do you think this is true?

Under capitalism, 1 in 8 American kids go hungry in America (see here).
Would you venture a guess about the percentage of children going hungry in China, India or Kenya?

Would you venture a guess about the percentage of children going hungry in China, India or Kenya?
I know how bad it can be in other countries. I have actually been in Kenya a few times and saw the poverty 1st hand. In the Kenya the gap between the rich and poor is right in your face.
The issue is why are these people going hungry? I'd like to hear your answer.

I know how bad it can be in other countries. I have actually been in Kenya a few times and saw the poverty 1st hand. In the Kenya the gap between the rich and poor is right in your face.
The issue is why are these people going hungry? I'd like to hear your answer.
Mostly because those people made bad choices. While you (and I) were spending time to learn, most of these people put having fun.

Some of those go back to bad parenting and support-system (village/neighborhood).

And in this capitalist country, most of these people do not HAVE to go hungry - lots soup-kitchens and food-pantry to support you. I came to this country in 1971 - and since then everyday I was gainfully employed (bus boy at the grad student center, bell-boy in hotel, short-order pizza cook......). Not ever hungry......

Mostly because those people made bad choices. While you (and I) were spending time to learn, most of these people put having fun.

Some of those go back to bad parenting and support-system (village/neighborhood).

And in this capitalist country, most of these people do not HAVE to go hungry - lots soup-kitchens and food-pantry to support you. I came to this country in 1971 - and since then everyday I was gainfully employed (bus boy at the grad student center, bell-boy in hotel, short-order pizza cook......). Not ever hungry......
So, are you saying that the poor & hungry are just poor & hungry because they're too lazy to lift themselves out of poverty & hunger?

Darn, why do we even need money in our society? If you work, then you can get whatever goods you need.
I am assuming you are not simply suggesting that we don't need money, you are suggesting that we don't need the principle of private property - the idea that the products of my labor belong to me.
Of course, getting rid of money is a bad idea on its own. Money has many functions, one of them is the transmission of information in a market that balances things. You really don't want a central planner doing this job. So, no, we need money just for this.

Now, the more important issue - your apparent dismissal of private property, self-ownership and other fundamental principles vitally necessary for the survival of humans as individuals, not as slaves to the collective.

People are different. I hope this thread and 50/50 political divisions on many issues is enough to see the truth of this claim. One of the obvious differences is how people want to participate in economic activities. Some want to be left alone and enter all transactions strictly voluntarily, some want to be part of a group that shares incomes, etc.

Given this fact, how should we organize the economy of the state? One is the free market Capitalism - the state is not involved in the economy, individuals and businesses are free to enter into any voluntary relationships (buying, selling, joint ventures, etc). Others are variations on the same theme - the state controls the economy for the supposed good of some of the people. (By the way, who decides what's good and which people should benefit?)
So, which system is the best choice?
Easy - free market Capitalism. Why? Because people are free to form ANY groups that would conduct economic activities based on the principles you proposed. Whereas in "no private property" systems all individuals are automatically included in the global income-sharing group.
By insisting on imposing "no private property" systems on everybody collectivists admit that the only way for such systems to survive is the threat of force against productive individuals who don't want to be part of the system.

I probably shouldn't say anything, but you all know I can't often keep my mouth shut.

As someone who is on disability, SNAP, Section 8 housing, HEAP (gas and electric help), Medicare and Medicaid, and has been homeless on three occasions, I can tell you that it isn't always as simple as just getting up and getting the needed help. Sometimes things happen too fast and whereas I am more than happy that the US government offers so many helpful programs, sometimes the people in the offices aren't quite the best choices for the positions.

Homelessness, poverty, lack of food... these are all problems that aren't as simple to solve as providing the programs: there are many, even in the US, that can't get the programs or the programs aren't enough. I don't know all of the problems that can come up, but the obvious ones such as mental health (that's me!), drug or alcohol abuse, spousal abuse, and sometimes just bad luck are enough to drive the system to the breaking point. And there are other problems that I am aware exist but can't name: homelessness and unemployment are never going to be solved, even if you give everyone a good job and buy them a home. Some people literally cannot stay employed and some of them cannot live in a home. I don't know why, but I know this is true. I've seen reasonable, intelligent people in a similar position to mine that keep finding jobs and keep getting fired. I've seen similar people who desperately need a roof over their heads constantly getting kicked out of shelters.

Heck, my problems are relatively simple and, as I said above, I've managed to be homeless three times now, the last time for three months at the beginning of this year. (The first was due to my bipolar: I had to leave Purdue suddenly and wound up living with my parents. The second time was when my fiance kicked me out and I had to spend Thanksgiving in a Psych ward until someone could find me a place to stay. The third was because one idiot Section 8 worker wouldn't talk to me and the other wouldn't give me straight information and it ended up putting me in an impossible situation. At least the last one wasn't my fault in some way!) But SNAP simply isn't giving me enough and I'm going to have to find other programs to sign on to in the near future. Right now my Mother (Gah! I'm 52.) is making up the balance for food.

And I'm one of the one's who is educated and reasonably able despite the disability. Imagine someone who has real problems.

-Dan

No country in this world was ever under a socialist system.

Then how can we know whether it works?

(Also, Singapore would like a word.)

Mostly because those people [in China, India, and Kenya] made bad choices. While you (and I) were spending time to learn, most of these people put having fun.

Oh, golly; those kids would have given anything to be able to go to school -- especially the girls.

The kids in Kenya are often the ones that are assigned follow the family's herds; it is assumed that the children will work to help support the family. Schools are rare, and kinda sketchy. If a girl is raped (or sold to be a man's 2nd-4th wife) and becomes pregnant, she is *required* to leave school.

In China, kids can only go to their hukou school. Parents move from villages to cities to earn more, but since their family hukou is the village, the kids are forbidden entry to schools in the city. The kids end up being raised by grandparents (sometimes not seeing their parents for years) and being subjected to awful rural "education".

In India, slavery is still practiced.

I probably shouldn't say anything, but you all know I can't often keep my mouth shut.

As someone who is on disability, SNAP, Section 8 housing, HEAP (gas and electric help), Medicare and Medicaid, and has been homeless on three occasions, I can tell you that it isn't always as simple as just getting up and getting the needed help....

Heck, my problems are relatively simple and, as I said above, I've managed to be homeless three times now, the last time for three months at the beginning of this year.... Right now my Mother (Gah! I'm 52.) is making up the balance for food.

And I'm one of the one's who is educated and reasonably able despite the disability. Imagine someone who has real problems.

You've been put through so much, and yet give so much to others (like helping students here). Blessings upon your head, friend. ?

You've been put through so much, and yet give so much to others (like helping students here). Blessings upon your head, friend. ?
You are kind. Thank you. And you clearly aren't my ex-wife, my ex-fiance, my sister, nor mario99. (Actually, he might be my ex-wife! Hmmm... probably not. She would be able to pass one of my Calculus I finals.)

Honestly, though, I do manage to create a lot of my own problems. As to the others that I don't, to quote my Dad "He keeps falling into a cesspool and coming out with a white shirt and smelling nice." I guess someone up there likes me enough to keep pulling my fat out of the fire, but has enough of a sense of humor to keep lighting the firepit...

Okay, anyway, enough of me. I'm not trying to take over the thread. Over and out.

-Dan

You are kind. Thank you. And you clearly aren't my ex-wife, my ex-fiance, my sister, nor mario99. (Actually, he might be my ex-wife! Hmmm... probably not. She would be able to pass one of my Calculus I finals.)

Honestly, though, I do manage to create a lot of my own problems. As to the others that I don't, to quote my Dad "He keeps falling into a cesspool and coming out with a white shirt and smelling nice." I guess someone up there likes me enough to keep pulling my fat out of the fire, but has enough of a sense of humor to keep lighting the firepit...

Okay, anyway, enough of me. I'm not trying to take over the thread. Over and out.

-Dan
I know that the system in USA (modified capitalism) is the best "ism" I can think - where maximum "good" for maximum people have happened and keep happening.

No country in this world was ever under a socialist system
The "not real socialsim" argument comes up often in capitalism vs socialism discussions. I don't think it works.

Let's consider a value representing state control over the economy. It ranges from 0, to, let's say, 100. Free market capitalism is at 0. I think this is where we need to be. But regardless of where it is now, any change towards 0 is an improvement.
Let's say there is a value that represents the real socialism. Let's call it S. Here's what's puzzling to me. Whatever example from history we pick, whatever the state control parameter is, the resulting socialist society is invariably a miserable failure. You claim that this happened because none of those attempts dialed in the state control parameter just right. What they had was not true socialism. I find it hard to believe.
Let's consider a function of a country's people flourishing (prosperity, happiness, etc) with the state control parameter as the variable. History and, IMO, common sense, shows that it's way up there with the parameter close to 0. As it goes into the various socialist experiments territory, the function decreases. The tighter the controls the worse the situation is - USSR, North Korea, Cuba - examples are numerous. Now, what I think you are saying, is that somewhere near those parameter values people already tried, or even further to the right, there is a magical value S where the real socialism is achieved.
How? Why? What's the explanation? If you take 25% of people's economic freedoms away they don't like it, but continue with their lives, under the threat of various punishments. Take away 50% - you get a **** hole of a country where people exist, instead of living full human lives. How about 75%? Is this where North Korea is? So, where approximately is the magical S? What would explain a sudden change from misery to prosperity? What would explain the change in people's attitudes? If they didn't like 25%, why would they like 26.3%, if this is what S is claimed to be? Or is it that people who don't like the loss of freedoms should not be taken into account when the human flourishing function is evaluated?

Lev, I like to hear your definition of socialism.
To me, what you are referring to is state capitalism-which is not at all what I'm talking about. Also to have true socialism you need the whole world on board, not just a country here and there. It will take a revolution.

Can you explain why we have such poverty in a place like the US? How about other places?

Does it make sense that rational people like farmers would decide to throw away part of their harvest so they can charge more (because there is a shortage)? That is ridiculous! All people should have food. For a week the price of food should be 5 cents, housing 10 cents, health care 2 cents and education should be free. It is absurd that the basic necessities are the most expensive!

Can you explain why very few people of color go to MIT, Stanford or Cal-tech? Is it because they don't have the ability to be smart? Or might it be that they don't get the same education as other people get and they simply can't afford it.

My brother is a super genius and we grew up middle class (my father worked for the Post Office). For graduate school my brother got a NSF grant to go to Stanford University for free. While I was in high school he invited me to stay with him for a semester. Almost everyone I met at Stanford had rich parents. How can a society be fair if having rich parents give you options that other people don't have. Poor students should be able to go to the finest school if they want to and are smart enough. How much a public school (K-12) gets supported should not be determined by a zip code. We need to start treating people equally and this won't happen under capitalism.

Lev, I like to hear your definition of socialism.
To me, what you are referring to is state capitalism-which is not at all what I'm talking about. Also to have true socialism you need the whole world on board, not just a country here and there. It will take a revolution.

Can you explain why we have such poverty in a place like the US? How about other places?

Does it make sense that rational people like farmers would decide to throw away part of their harvest so they can charge more (because there is a shortage)? That is ridiculous! All people should have food. For a week the price of food should be 5 cents, housing 10 cents, health care 2 cents and education should be free. It is absurd that the basic necessities are the most expensive!

Can you explain why very few people of color go to MIT, Stanford or Cal-tech? Is it because they don't have the ability to be smart? Or might it be that they don't get the same education as other people get and they simply can't afford it.

My brother is a super genius and we grew up middle class (my father worked for the Post Office). For graduate school my brother got a NSF grant to go to Stanford University for free. While I was in high school he invited me to stay with him for a semester. Almost everyone I met at Stanford had rich parents. How can a society be fair if having rich parents give you options that other people don't have. Poor students should be able to go to the finest school if they want to and are smart enough. How much a public school (K-12) gets supported should not be determined by a zip code. We need to start treating people equally and this won't happen under capitalism.

My definition of socialism would be the standard definition - an economic system where means of production are owned by the state. Of course, this is far from a good definition considering these days means of production are not just factories and farms - put together a few computers and you got yourself a business with the potential to make millions. Will it have to be owned by the state? Not clear. But I don't think this matches the socialism you are referring to, since you mentioned the abolition of private property if I understood you correctly. This looks to me more like communism. So, it would make sense for you to define the socialism you have in mind.
Not sure what you mean regarding state capitalism.
As for "the whole world on board", I am not sure how this is addressing my points. This would be even more control over individuals. I asked before, I'll ask again - what about the people who are not on board? In a capitalist system there are no "boards" - you are absolutely free to join with like-minded people and organize whatever degree of sharing you like. But in a socialist system any dissent is simply not tolerated - if you are not on board, you are in a gulag, or worse. How can such a system be moral?

Yes, poverty exists in the US. But what does this imply? That our mixed system should be replaced by socialism? What is the reasoning behind this conclusion? It's bad that we have poverty. You know what's worse? Empirical evidence shows that socialism makes poverty worse - see my previous post. What mechanism may explain the prosperity function making a sudden jump upwards in the socialist territory?

Regarding food waste on farms - please refer me to a specific example. There can be several valid reasons.

I understand that you'd like even more goods and services to be free than what's available now. I disagree. This would mean even higher taxes, more state control over the economy and the individual.

Regarding elite college admissions of people of color:
African American % of US population is 13.6%
Harvard class of 2026: African American percentage is 15.2%
MIT class of 2027: African American percentage is 15%.

In what way does this translate to "very few people"? We can certainly discuss gaps among races in educational achievement, but let's start with an accurate assessment of the current situation.

Also to have true socialism you need the whole world on board, not just a country here and there. It will take a revolution.
That was the hope of the USSR founders. Scary!

As I stated in an earlier post, what you consider socialism is state capitalism.
To me, socialism is where the workers own and run the factories. Why does it make sense that one person, the owner of the factory, should make huge sums of money when the workers do all the work and don't even earn a living wage?
I was in a small factory today--a local pizzeria. Today the owner was there working. He treated all the customers extremely well (they make him big money) but was at a loss as how to work at the shop. An example I saw was when customer called, gave him their address for a delivery and he had to ask his workers if the store delivers to that location. The workers do all the work and he makes most of the money. Those workers are being exploited!

I understand that you'd like even more goods and services to be free than what's available now. I disagree. This would mean even higher taxes, more state control over the economy and the individual. That's complete nonsense. State control, taxes--doesn't sound like true social to me.
You think that there is enough food, shelter, hospitals, etc for everyone? Let's suppose that is true for a moment. Under capitalism what are the people in power doing about it?

I'll state it again: Farmers have been known to throw out their crop. Why? Because they can then say there is a shortage of crops and charge more money. As a competent tutor here, you know very well that you can sometimes make more money with less than with more.

I am surprised at those numbers you provided regarding college admissions and I'm willing to accept what you are saying as I believe you.
Did these students get in on their own merits? That I really question. It is nice that these colleges do that but why are these students of color not getting in on their own.

I grew up in East New York Brooklyn in the 1960-1975. This neighborhood changed from mostly whites to almost all Black by the time I moved out. The Junior High School and High School that I attended have been shut down for low (and I mean low!) performance after I moved out. Why is that? Are Black just not as smart as whites? Of course not.
I was very young when I was in 6 grade but years later I understood what happened. Keep in mind that I was in 6-1 (and it went to 6-6), which had the brightest students. This class had a mixture of white and Black students. Half of the white students resided in the housing projects and half of the Blacks lived in the housing projects. The teacher, who worked there for years, knew which students lived in the projects based on their address (many students having the same address = living in the projects). Years later I realized that my teacher treated us differently. The white students were treated the best, the Black students who did not live in the projects (their parents owned their own home) were treated 2nd best and the Black students from the project the worst. That's bad enough, but why were the whites who lived in the projects treated the same as whites who lived in a private house. This teacher was racist to the core. These were good smart hard working students who had a good future ahead of them and this teacher made sure to let her students know that they were not going to get anywhere in life if they were Black and lived in the projects. One more statement. Brownsville is a very tough neighborhood in Brooklyn (and has ALWAYS been tough) which also saw a change from white residence to Black residence. Brownsville, up until recently, was the only neighborhood in Brooklyn that didn't have a high school. The people in power couldn't care about the Black students/people from Brownsville. Under socialism everyone would be equal. You really need to see that capitalism causes racism.