Someone give Edwards a dictionary

Via Daily Kos:

Ex-Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), evolving his pitch ahead of an anticipated presidential run in 2008, will propose to cut poverty by a third in 10 years, eliminate it in 30, and put in its place a "Working Society" where Americans are rewarded for hard work with a livable safety net of health and welfare incentives.

Can someone have Edwards give me a ring and let me know how exactly paying people not to work and penalizing employers for hiring people is going to result in something anyone would call a "Working Society?" This reminds me of when I was up in Berkeley visiting a friend of mine from high school, and we came across graffiti that read, "Capitalism is Not Working." "Yup, that's exactly what capitalism is to these people," my friend remarked. I suppose Edwards's "Working Society" would work just fine for people who don't want to work and think those of us who do work should be penalized for it.

Gotta love those catchy two word phrases: "Working Society," "Great Society," "New Deal." At least it's not a war on something.

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Succinct, and right-on.

Succinct, and right-on.

He he ;). Actually, the

He he ;).

Actually, the 'Working Society' won't work, the 'Great Society' wasn't great, and the 'New Deal' was a raw deal. And all of them are or were wars on liberty, property, happiness, prosperity, and last but not least, a war on capitalism.

Thanks for your comment,

Thanks for your comment, Jude. I am not accusing Edwards of being anti-capitalist at all. In fact, I pretty much agree with his vision of a society where everyone who wants to can earn a "living wage." All I'm disagreeing with is his idea of how to achieve that. You don't get more employed people by penalizing employers with more payroll taxes. You get more automation, more overtime (just look at any union shop), and less overall economic activity. This may be great for the robot manufacturers, but it's not going to help the average worker.

If Edwards wants more employment, particularly of people with lower productivity levels, he should advocate removing barriers to employment rather than adding more. And while I fully agree that there should be a "safety net," there is no way for government to know exactly how much of a safety net to provide or how to provide it. The people who know how to do this and how much to do it are community charities and their donors. Unfortunately, a government program will either use these charities and remove any incentive the charities have to be efficient or help the right people, or they will compete with the charities and put them out of business. How many people today think of their tax return and think "I gave at the office" when thinking about charities? "The government will take care of it" seems to be the prevailing belief these days, making it harder and harder every year for charities to get money, making those charities more and more dependent on government, spending more and more resources on lobbying for additional grants, getting people to sign petitions and "getting out the vote" instead of helping people.

I see that this is neither

I see that this is neither "right-on" or succinct, and I feel a responsibility to tell you why. Senator Edwards is clearly not an anti-capitalist. The very thought, to me, is absolutely absurd and I'm wondering where you may have gotten that idea. I cover a lot of Senator Edwards' positions on the issues and I know for a fact that he is not advocating a society where people get hand-outs without taking responsibility for themselves, their families, and their communities. On the contrary. When he says he wishes to create a working society, he says what he means. People working and being self-sufficient and taking responsibility for themselves and their familes here in the 21st century, while the middle class becomes stronger..and while the ever-increasing gap between rich and poor (because of faulty and unjust economic policy) is transformed to a strong, working class in a healthy democracy and a vibrant economy for honest and decent capitalists to enjoy.

Jude Nagurney Camwell

Saying there is "no way" for

Saying there is "no way" for a government to know how much of a safety net to provide or how to provide it isolates the federal government to a point where it has no working correlation with our American communities. It's a virtual throwing up of the hands and saying "these inadequate policies aren't working, so we give up." A cop-out. Turning the civic function of social responsibility and stability over to charities and charities alone is abdicating responsibility to those our government serves. Good, responsible government involves taking some real responsibility for the results of your economic policies. There are ways for the government to support charities toward becoming more efficient while, rather than laying the government's social responsibility at their doorstep, overseeing and supporting, through good public policy, the coordination of nonprofit organizations, corporations, and NGOs to foster a strong web of opportunity - all the while creating more and more opportunity for people to become self-sufficient. What Senator Edwards is offering is not charity and what our society does not need is charity when they look for real solutions from their government. The American people are very generous, which is double the reason why I believe once they know what Senator Edwards' polices will accomplish, they will agree with his ideas.

Senator Edwards' Working Society would not be "fine" with those who will not work, as you have suggested. He made that perfectly clear in his speech yesterday. President Bush has been taxing "work" more heavily than "wealth" and the Republicans in Congress have been boldly determined to cut more and more taxes on that wealth. If these policies were actually working to help everyone flourish, I wouldn't have to be here today reminding you that a change is necessary to not only support the low-wage worker in this country, but to shore-up the shrinking middle class. (I work in the non profit sector myself and see it first hand).

Jude, I hope you don't think

Jude, I hope you don't think I believe Bush is doing a better job than Edwards would. In fact, I think in general Democrats do a better job in the Presidency (at least with a Republican congress that they can blame for failing to spend huge amounts of money) than Republicans do. I think Carter was one of the best Presidents of the 20th century.

If Edwards wants to simplify the tax code so ordinary Americans can understand it and eliminate most deductions, I'll support that. I won't support any expansion of the welfare state, however. It's not that I think "we" should "give up" because government has done a terrible job so far, it's that I don't see any proposals on the table that will align the incentives in government with what makes for a "Working Society." I think it would be great if politicians could be held to account for the consequences of their economic decisions, but in general it seems like the only time anyone is actually held responsible for the consequences of their actions is when they are spending their own money on themselves.

"Living wage" is almost always a code word for "minimum wage." A minimum wage law is a law against working for less than a certain amount. Payroll taxes up the effective minimum wage even further. The result, predictably, is that the lower productivity workers end up dependent on the government. That't not OK with me.

Charity *is* necessary, and charity is perverted when government and politics get involved. Charity is what is supposed to provide the safety net for people who don't or can't provide one for themselves through voluntary, competitive, private savings and insurance services, not to mention family and friends who one cultivates relationships and trust with.

I really don't want all these feel-good emotional assertions that "prove" that people are "committed" to various goals. I don't care what their goals are. I want to see how their proposed programs are going to reach those goals.

Someone give Edwards a

Someone give Edwards a dictionary
Former Senator John Edwards is proposing a "working society" that doesn't sound like it involves much actual work.