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Thu Aug 29, 2013, 10:46 PM

How Poverty Taxes the Brain


Poverty itself drives poverty

Human mental bandwidth is finite. You’ve probably experienced this before (though maybe not in those terms): When you’re lost in concentration trying to solve a problem like a broken computer, you’re more likely to neglect other tasks, things like remembering to take the dog for a walk, or picking your kid up from school. This is why people who use cell phones behind the wheel actually perform worse as drivers. It’s why air traffic controllers focused on averting a mid-air collision are less likely to pay attention to other planes in the sky.

We only have so much cognitive capacity to spread around. It's a scarce resource.

This understanding of the brain’s bandwidth could fundamentally change the way we think about poverty. Researchers publishing some groundbreaking findings today in the journal Science have concluded that poverty imposes such a massive cognitive load on the poor that they have little bandwidth left over to do many of the things that might lift them out of poverty – like go to night school, or search for a new job, or even remember to pay bills on time.

I support a minimum income for all Americans, regardless of their need. Not a means tested program - a program that allocates funds for every American to have a guaranteed minimum to survive.

This would be more cost effective than all the various programs that are now in place, by reducing the bureaucracy around such issues.


Martin Luther King's Case for a Guaranteed Basic Income

One of the demands at the March on Washington was for a $2 minimum wage, which would be $15.27 an hour adjusted for inflation today. But later in life, Martin Luther King Jr. endorsed a different idea—a guaranteed basic income—which as I've said before is the real smart solution to the low-wage dilemma.

The minimum wage typically gets debated in terms of econometric studies about disemployment impacts. But the problem with the minimum wage isn't the alleged disemployment, it's the freedom. Imagine a worker earning just slightly above the minimum wage, and also working under some kind of conditions that he finds annoying. He goes to the boss and asks for a change. Turn the heat up a little in the winter. Or let him pick which music plays rather than sticking with some dumb playlist that's been assigned from the top down. Or get a more comfortable chair. Or manage the line this way rather than that one. There are dozens and dozens of little non-wage decisions in any given workplace that impact a person's happiness and life satisfaction. But the manager looks at it and says there are sound business reasons for sticking with the status quo. Now the problem with the minimum wage is that even if the worker values the change much more highly than he values an extra 2 cents an hour, he's not allowed to trade 2 cents an hour for an improvement in his working conditions.

Since labor has been decimated, the govt. would provide working people with some bargaining power in the workplace.

For this reason and others, we need universal health care.

Which means the wealthy need to pay more in taxes - even tho they'd also get their 15k.

What's going on now is not working for most people. I would rather have legislative/policy changes than social unrest - and the suffering that always comes before that unrest - which we see today.

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RainDog Aug 2013 OP
RainDog Aug 2013 #1

Response to RainDog (Original post)

Thu Aug 29, 2013, 11:37 PM

1. so what?

so what.

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