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On empathy and it's importance moving forward
#31
so I fired up this thread to post some more of my thoughts on empathy...and WHOA...it has gone on a different direction with a whole new set of legs...but I'm going to try and get back to the original idea of empathy anyway...

It seems to me that Mr. Rather makes an excellent point when he states that depending on the government and its bureaucracy to help those in need, diminishes the sense of responsibility some people, certainly not all, feel toward their fellow citizens. Desk feels strongly that government needs to assume that role, because not enough citizens feel enough empathy toward others. My take is that there is a role for government, but too often the government is inefficient and services are poorly managed. Often times, private organizations or faith-based services produce better results. 

These examples come to mind. In our town there are several organizations that assist with securing housing for those who are currently experiencing homelessness. They are non-profits, some faith-based, some not, staffed primarily by volunteers. Education and support are provided to clients desiring to find housing. The success stories are amazing. Much more lasting effects than plopping someone in a housing project with subsidized rents. 

I was made aware of a more specific example of community empathy, the kind Mr. Rather described as occurring during the Depression, when a neighbor asked for household donations for a family setting up housekeeping in their new house. I am still amazed by the story. A local youth soccer organization became aware of one of the team member's family looking to purchase a house. The parents were in the US illegally. They were hardworking and had managed to save $10,000 toward a down payment. However, since they had no documentation they could not get a mortgage loan. The coaches of this youth organization underwrote the mortgage and this family was able to purchase a small house and move from the undesirable area they were renting in. Many of our neighbors donated furnishings and household items to the cause. How is that for taking care of your fellow humans?

In contrast to those examples, I read Sunday about the poor quality of heath care that is being provided to Native Americans through the Indian Health Bureau. The stories were heartbreaking. I don't do links well, but you can find the story is this past weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal. Of course, we are aware of the mess in the Veteran's Administration. 

I'm not sure how to develop empathy so that more citizens will desire to do more to help others; my belief system says that understanding that that's what God expects of us is the bottom line. I do believe that government involvement has hindered rather than helped.

I'm not preachin'....I'm just sayin'!
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#32
Empathy is that old "There but for the grace of God go I" type of feeling.  We have to have a connection to the individual, perhaps personal but at a minimum the feeling that it could be I walking in his shoes.  That's what makes the Great Depression such a great example.  With 25% unemployment, and with that unemployment so random, everyone knew someone who was deeply effected.  Everyone had a family member lose their job.  Everyone had a friend or neighbor lose their job.  Everyone could relate to everyone else because in some very real sense, everyone knew everyone else.  

Back in my college days, I was taught that full employment was defined as when unemployment was in the 3%-5% range.  We're there.  We're at full employment.  So can we or more precisely can I relate to those who are currently unemployed?  Honestly, I cannot.  

Government, their agencies, private not for profits that get government assistance too often work at cross purposes.  They are well intentioned, lots of empathy going on, but when they fail again and again, they rarely look inside and ask themselves if they are part of the problem.  Last time I looked, we were spending a total of $1T dollars per year on social programs.  If I were told that the job was nearly complete, I'd probably say that's great and it's been money well spent.  But the truth is the job will never be completed.  That one trillion will be 1.1 soon enough and then 1.2.  Sure as I live and breathe, it'll be 1.3 and then 1.4.  I might be able to garner some empathy for individuals needing such assistance, but knowing the government is there spending like a drunken sailor makes it more and more difficult.

When the Great Depression hit, the traditional network of service providers were completely overwhelmed.  Mostly faith based, they simply couldn't handle what was an extraordinary set of circumstances.  However, those circumstances have changed.  Perhaps it's time we returned to a philosophy of private charities providing during ordinary times and the government stepping in during those extraordinary times.
"There are some ideas so absurd only an intellectual could believe them."   George Orwell    
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#33
Welcome back.

I hope you had a pleasant break.
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#34
According to this, the US has never achieved full employment on a national level:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_emplo...ted_States

There's also "underemployment" to be considered:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/2052...ment-rate/

Also, employment statistics like this don't tell us much about the kinds of jobs people are working at - I can easily feel empathy for people who can only get crummy low-wage jobs without benefits.
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#35
I've posted this before, but I'll do it again:

http://governmentisgood.com/articles.php?aid=7

This is also good:

http://governmentisgood.com/articles.php?aid=1&p=1

This doesn't mean government always does things well, of course - that varies at all levels, and with the philosophy of those in power. For example, we now have a head of the EPA that isn't committed to the basic mission of the EPA, so I expect that it won't carry out it's mission very well/effectively during his tenure. That's an argument for electing people who believe in government.
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#36
The current unemployment rate of 4.4% is well within the range of "full employment" as defined by many but not all of the economists in your link.  But the point remains, for those who are unemployed and especially for those who are chronically unemployed, for those who are unemployed long term, I'm finding it difficult to must the empathy that those during the Depression felt.  The Great Depression that Mr. Rather speaks of were extraordinary times.  The closest we came to that was the Great Recession that we just exited.  But even with it being the closest, it wasn't really that close.
"There are some ideas so absurd only an intellectual could believe them."   George Orwell    
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#37
How would we deal with low wages though if government didn't subsidize workplaces like Walmart, where many of their employees have to have government help to pay the rent and buy food? Wouldn't we first have to make it illegal to pay wages too low to live on?
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#38
(07-12-2017, 08:57 AM)iamme2 Wrote: The current unemployment rate of 4.4% is well within the range of "full employment" as defined by many but not all of the economists in your link.  But the point remains, for those who are unemployed and especially for those who are chronically unemployed, for those who are unemployed long term, I'm finding it difficult to must the empathy that those during the Depression felt.  The Great Depression that Mr. Rather speaks of were extraordinary times.  The closest we came to that was the Great Recession that we just exited.  But even with it being the closest, it wasn't really that close.

I specifically linked to the part about how we haven't achieved full employment for you.

And I understand your inability to feel empathy for a number of people.

In some ways, I think that empathy is like a muscle, and if you use it, it strengthens your ability to feel it. But there are also other things you can do to reduce your empathy.
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#39
(07-12-2017, 09:07 AM)jafs3 Wrote: I specifically linked to the part about how we haven't achieved full employment for you.
Interesting that the section of your link you are steering me to is an act of Congress, not a definition by economists.  Additionally, as your link says, it was passed at a time when Congress had a unique concern, that of returning soldiers flooding the job market in the post WW II years.

If you scroll up in the very same link, second paragraph from the top, it gives several definitions of full employment as defined by economists.  Today's 4.4% unemployment rates fall within those ranges.
"There are some ideas so absurd only an intellectual could believe them."   George Orwell    
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#40
There were two parts to it, one right after WWII and one in the 1970's, after the recession.

Some economists believed that only 0% unemployment, or close to it, would be "full" employment as well.  Economists often disagree about these kinds of things.

It's probably very hard to measure accurately, as well.  And, as I've also pointed out already, it doesn't take "underemployment" into account, or deal with the kinds of jobs/wages/benefits involved.
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