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Old 05-15-2020, 01:24 AM
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Paid for something, but others get for free - legit grounds for grievance?


Back when Elizabeth Warren was still a candidate in the running, one of her most-touted campaign platforms was a promise to forgive college student debt for millions of such debtors.

This, naturally, led to a backlash when people argued that this wasn't fair to those who had scrimped and saved for years to pay off their college loans, only to see others get their debts erased for free by a President Warren (thus meaning that all of that scrimping and saving went for naught.)

One father angrily confronted Warren at a campaign event, ""My daughter's getting out of school, I saved all my money, she doesn't have any student loans..........Am I going to get my money back?" (Warren replied, "Of course not.") "You're going to pay for people who didn't save any money and those of us that did the right thing get screwed."

My point isn't to focus on college debt, per se (I don't want this to turn into a thread about the merits or demerits of student loans,) but rather, a broader question: Has someone really been "screwed" if they worked to obtain something, but others get it for free? In both cases, they end up with the same outcome, it's just that one had to work harder to get there.

Suppose that Billy really wants a Mercedes, and so he scrimps and saves and puts aside money for years to get a Mercedes. But then, after buying his dream car, his employer suddenly announces that all employees are going to be gifted a Mercedes for free - but then tells Billy, "Sorry, you already possess a Mercedes, so you won't be eligible." Is Billy justified in feeling screwed, or should he just focus on the fact that "we're all equal because we all now have a Mercedes?"

Last edited by Velocity; 05-15-2020 at 01:26 AM.
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Old 05-15-2020, 01:43 AM
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Edit: Can't change my title now, but I mean "legit reason to feel aggrieved" (the thread title might make people think legal grievance)
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Old 05-15-2020, 01:46 AM
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Has someone really been "screwed" if they worked to obtain something, but others get it for free?
Well, Jesus said not, for what that's worth:
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“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go.'"
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Old 05-15-2020, 02:04 AM
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Well, Jesus said not, for what that's worth:
I don't think a spiritual analogy about Heaven is suited for a discussion about finances on Earth.

A real-life boss who paid his employees $100 per day regardless of whether employees worked one hour or ten would go out of business pretty much overnight (in America, at least.)
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Old 05-15-2020, 02:34 AM
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Heh, I thought this thread would be about GTA5.

But regarding college tuition, I do think that sounds unfair. It might be a better idea to require some community service in return for the loan forgiveness, like some towns do with medical school grads.
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Old 05-15-2020, 02:45 AM
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I don't think a spiritual analogy about Heaven is suited for a discussion about finances on Earth.

A real-life boss who paid his employees $100 per day regardless of whether employees worked one hour or ten would go out of business pretty much overnight (in America, at least.)
Not sure why you think America is special in this regard. Considering you've got some of the worst employee protection laws in the Western World.
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Old 05-15-2020, 02:47 AM
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Heh, I thought this thread would be about GTA5.

But regarding college tuition, I do think that sounds unfair. It might be a better idea to require some community service in return for the loan forgiveness, like some towns do with medical school grads.
I guess another viewpoint might be, do you maintain an awful, financially crippling system just because some people may miss out on the benefit of the change?
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Old 05-15-2020, 04:06 AM
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I don't think a spiritual analogy about Heaven is suited for a discussion about finances on Earth.

A real-life boss who paid his employees $100 per day regardless of whether employees worked one hour or ten would go out of business pretty much overnight (in America, at least.)

I don't see where the Man said any workers were getting something for free. It looks to me like in-demand labor in a crunch getting higher pay!
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Old 05-15-2020, 06:06 AM
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In answer to the OP; no.

There's a lot of unfairness in the world, a lot of hardship. And we as a society, try to address these things. We try to make things a little better for the next generation.

It's only a minor thing by comparison, but when I did my A levels in the UK, my single-parent family could not afford the official textbooks. I had a weekend job, but it was a long time before I could afford them, and it did negatively affect my studies.
Then, a couple years later, the government created an allowance for buying educational materials.
And, of course, I don't begrudge the next generation for having that. We saw a problem, and we fixed it; that's what's supposed to happen.

Wanting the next generation to struggle....it would be like insisting a new miraculous painkiller must be banned because everyone must experience severe pain.
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Old 05-15-2020, 06:23 AM
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Isn’t this the free school lunch problem all over again? Where the school lets poor kids run up lunch debt and don’t press them to pay, so the ‘not poor’ families stop paying their kid’s lunch debts, and soon, it’s in the news when the school threatens the kids can’t graduate if their debt isn’t paid. As I recall, it was such a mess it took a philanthropist to pay ALL the debt as the only solution! While it occasionally crops up elsewhere, it does seem to happen a lot in America.
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Old 05-15-2020, 06:53 AM
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The issue here is difficult to nail down because it comes from an abstract concept: fairness. And by that, I mean the evolved principle, not anything philosophical or theory-derived.

Almost every social mammal has this notion, and it applies to almost every interaction involving groups. What it actually means varies so wildly between individuals that it might not even have a concrete definition, but doing something like this is going to trip fairness circuits across the board. Same input, wildly different output. We can argue philosophical positions until we're all long dead, nothing is going to override that instinctual reaction.

The only solution I can see that doesn't trip this outright is not to pay currently existing student debts, but to pay people for retroactively having attended or currently attending college. So all college graduates get a refund whether they had loans or not, and current/future graduates don't have to pay. Otherwise, a huge swath of the population goes apeshit.
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Old 05-15-2020, 08:36 AM
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The title of the thread is pretty misleading as it seems to imply that these two situations are happening simultaneously, which is also true in the silly (but cute) Capuchin experiment. Yes, that would be unfair. Warren proposes that everyone is treated fairly, but she isn't willing to make the plan retroactive. She is simply trying to fix a problem that she thinks should have already been taken care of, but never was. Completely different and fine by me, even though I don't personally benefit from it.

I'm betting those who are railing against her don't fight tax cuts even though people in the past would have then had a higher tax burden.
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Old 05-15-2020, 08:44 AM
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Of course it's not fair. But that's not the question we should be asking. We should be asking, not whether it's fair, but whether it's just. And there is no injustice in this situation, and considerable injustice in the situation it's attempting to replace.
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Quoth Velocity:

I don't think a spiritual analogy about Heaven is suited for a discussion about finances on Earth.
That seems a rather glib way to dismiss the teachings of Jesus. A Christian would argue that the spiritual ways of Heaven are exactly how we should structure our dealings here on Earth.
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Old 05-15-2020, 09:12 AM
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A Christian would argue that the spiritual ways of Heaven are exactly how we should structure our dealings here on Earth.
I don't know your religious beliefs, but.......almost no Christians argue for that. For instance, in Heaven there is no need to take safety precautions, since there is no danger. Just about no Christians would argue that we no longer need to lock our house/car doors while here on Earth, or that we don't need healthcare, or law enforcement.
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Old 05-15-2020, 09:20 AM
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The issue here is difficult to nail down because it comes from an abstract concept: fairness. And by that, I mean the evolved principle, not anything philosophical or theory-derived.

Almost every social mammal has this notion, and it applies to almost every interaction involving groups. What it actually means varies so wildly between individuals that it might not even have a concrete definition, but doing something like this is going to trip fairness circuits across the board.
Agree, and this is one of the problems with politicians talking about how they promote "fairness" or "equality." Such words mean so maddeningly different things to everyone that it's impossible to get everyone on the same page.

I think that, to some people, their definition of "fairness" is focused more on the end result than how one got there. So if Susie gets an A+ on her exam by working hard and answering all of the test questions correctly, but the teacher issues a freebie A+ to all other students who are now not even required to take the test at all, then Susie shouldn't complain because she still has an A+ like everyone else. Etc. etc.
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Old 05-15-2020, 09:27 AM
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How about people who use this board and post here A LOT, but refuse to the modest voluntary annual fee and even get angry at the suggestion that they should pay something?
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Old 05-15-2020, 09:50 AM
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How about people who use this board and post here A LOT, but refuse to the modest voluntary annual fee and even get angry at the suggestion that they should pay something?
Not to delve too deeply into the minutae of the Straight Dope (more of an ATMB topic) but isn't it the case that paying Dopers get certain perks that non-paying Dopers don't?
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Old 05-15-2020, 10:00 AM
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Not to delve too deeply into the minutae of the Straight Dope (more of an ATMB topic) but isn't it the case that paying Dopers get certain perks that non-paying Dopers don't?
I don't see ads now, which is why I paid to begin with.
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Old 05-15-2020, 10:04 AM
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Heh, I thought this thread would be about GTA5.

But regarding college tuition, I do think that sounds unfair. It might be a better idea to require some community service in return for the loan forgiveness, like some towns do with medical school grads.
I don't know, seems like we could never make any progress if we strictly adhered to some idea of "fairness."

Would it be "unfair" to all those who went into bankruptcy because of medical debt if we passed a really good national health insurance program tomorrow, so that nobody would ever have to worry about medical bills again? Obviously there would be some who, say, got hit by a bus the week after the law went into effect, so that they wouldn't have contribute financially (by way of taxation) to the program. Would it be "unfair" to treat them at no significant cost to the patient because some other dude got hit by a bus a year ago and went bankrupt trying to keep up with the bills?

Was it "unfair" to previous generations to pass Social Security, when so many in the past got nothing?

I think we have to put the idea of "unfairness" out of the discussion altogether. It simply boils down to "I didn't get this [free education/health care/retirement/whatever] so nobody should."

No, it's not legitimate grounds for grievance.

In fact, the whole idea of "grievance" is another thing we have to toss. It's a big part of how we got where we are now.

Last edited by Saintly Loser; 05-15-2020 at 10:06 AM.
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Old 05-15-2020, 10:21 AM
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Yes, we should still lock our doors, because we don't live in Heaven. But we should still strive to make this world into one where we don't need to lock our doors.
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Old 05-15-2020, 10:23 AM
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People are conflating two issues, free college and college debt forgiveness. Making college free is a dumb idea not the fairness issues are minimal. The parable does not apply because all the workers got what they signed on for, whereas student debt forgiveness changes the rules after people have made their decisions.

What people are criticizing Warren for is the debt forgiveness part. Some people took loans out and some did not. Those who did not are being told to pay for the loans of those who did. That is obviously unfair. If someone saved up to buy a Kia and someone else took out a loan to buy a BMW, why should the KIA driver be taxed to pay for the BMW drivers loans? When people hear the word college some seem to go into a swoon and all logic goes out the window.
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Old 05-15-2020, 10:33 AM
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Whether it's "legit" or not, I think it's a part of human nature, one that I can understand and sympathize with. It goes against our sense of fairness or justice when we work really hard for (and/or sacrifice to obtain) something, and then others are given that thing without having to do or give up anything. (And yes, I immediately thought of that same parable of Jesus that Kimstu brought up, which plays on that facet of human nature.)

This is what's behind many people's opposition to welfare: the feeling that other people are just being given something that I have to work hard for (or, worse, they're being given something that I can't even afford). The resentment level rises when the welfare recipients are seen as not really deserving or not really needing what they're given: they could work to support themselves but choose not to. And it rises even further when the recipients are actively cheating or gaming the system.

IMHO, there is some fraction of this resentment that is "legit," or at least defensible, and some that is not. Some of the reasons that those who pay their own way are able to do so are that they have been given things that others have not, like a sound mind and body or a secure and prosperous childhood.

Last edited by Thudlow Boink; 05-15-2020 at 10:34 AM.
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Old 05-15-2020, 11:08 AM
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That seems a rather glib way to dismiss the teachings of Jesus. A Christian would argue that the spiritual ways of Heaven are exactly how we should structure our dealings here on Earth.
"On Earth as it is in Heaven" as a well-known prayer goes.
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Old 05-15-2020, 01:30 PM
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Back when Elizabeth Warren was still a candidate in the running, one of her most-touted campaign platforms was a promise to forgive college student debt for millions of such debtors.

This, naturally, led to a backlash when people argued that this wasn't fair to those who had scrimped and saved for years to pay off their college loans, only to see others get their debts erased for free by a President Warren (thus meaning that all of that scrimping and saving went for naught.)

One father angrily confronted Warren at a campaign event, ""My daughter's getting out of school, I saved all my money, she doesn't have any student loans..........Am I going to get my money back?" (Warren replied, "Of course not.") "You're going to pay for people who didn't save any money and those of us that did the right thing get screwed."
Let's see: his daughter's getting her college paid for, and under Warren's plan, the same thing would be true for young men and women who made less fortunate choices of parents.

Sounds to me like everything would be working out even.
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Old 05-15-2020, 01:50 PM
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In answer to the OP; no.

There's a lot of unfairness in the world, a lot of hardship. And we as a society, try to address these things. We try to make things a little better for the next generation.

It's only a minor thing by comparison, but when I did my A levels in the UK, my single-parent family could not afford the official textbooks. I had a weekend job, but it was a long time before I could afford them, and it did negatively affect my studies.
Then, a couple years later, the government created an allowance for buying educational materials.
And, of course, I don't begrudge the next generation for having that. We saw a problem, and we fixed it; that's what's supposed to happen.

Wanting the next generation to struggle....it would be like insisting a new miraculous painkiller must be banned because everyone must experience severe pain.
Seems like Mr. Schulz had a succinct and cogent observation to contribute on the subject, back in the day...
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Old 05-15-2020, 01:57 PM
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I think the father does have a legitimate complaint. It sucks that he busted his ass hard to pay for things and all the sudden other people are getting it for free. But as SanVito pointed out, that doesn't mean we should keep the system we have in place just because it sucks for this one guy.
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Old 05-15-2020, 02:37 PM
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..., ""My daughter's getting out of school, I saved all my money, she doesn't have any student loans..........Am I going to get my money back?" (Warren replied, "Of course not.") "You're going to pay for people who didn't save any money and those of us that did the right thing get screwed."[/URL]
For this particular example, I don't think that father has a legitimate grievance, and I think he's creating a false dichotomy in his complaint. He's trying to equate his method of paying for college as "the right thing", and anyone who chose to take out a loan as "the wrong thing"; this isn't true.

Secondly, he can't really complain because he's paying for his daughter's education, which he's not obligated to do at all; he chose to do it. Why didn't she pay for it? He basically gave her a gift that most other people don't get, and is now complaining that some other people might get the same kind of gift his kid got.

There will always be a discreet transition time when good (or bad) things come along; that can't be helped. Were small pox victims "screwed over" because they got the disease before vaccination came about? There will always be some people subject to the very tail end of worse times, but unless those in control purposely time things with a targeted group in mind, I don't think it's a legitimate grievance... just an unfortunate reality.
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Old 05-15-2020, 03:23 PM
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Child labor laws are unfair because children used to work in coal mines. OSHA is unfair because people used to lose limbs all the time in meat packing plants. Democracy is unfair because Kings used to rule over their vassals.
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Old 05-15-2020, 03:24 PM
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I've spent the last 7 years paying a substantial amount of my pay towards paying off student loans. I have another 3 years to go.

If someone else doesn't have to go through that, then I think of that as a good thing.

There are basically two ways that people react to hardships.

The first is that they work towards making sure that no one else has to go through that hardship again.

The second is that they work to make sure that everyone has to go through the same hardship they did.

The first, is IMHO, a fundamentally superior way of looking at the world. YMMV.
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Old 05-15-2020, 03:41 PM
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Child labor laws are unfair because children used to work in coal mines. OSHA is unfair because people used to lose limbs all the time in meat packing plants. Democracy is unfair because Kings used to rule over their vassals.
I don't think the argument is so much that people should be made to suffer, as it is that those who put in more effort than others should get more credit.

For instance, going back to the A+ example, suppose that one student puts in a lot of hard work studying for a test, and answers all test questions correctly, and gets an A+. But then the teacher abruptly announces that all the other students (who have yet to even take the test) will be gifted an A+ anyway without needing to take the test.

Does the student who studied hard and took the test, deserve some extra credit for his/her labor, or are they only entitled to the same outcome (A+) as the others?
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Old 05-15-2020, 03:46 PM
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Democracy is unfair because Kings used to rule over their vassals.
Except, for the vassals, it was mutually beneficial, and most were happy to be vassals, especially if they were too far removed from the royal line.
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Old 05-15-2020, 03:49 PM
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How about people who use this board and post here A LOT, but refuse to the modest voluntary annual fee and even get angry at the suggestion that they should pay something?
Ah, the old ThelmaLou refrain.

Sing it again, once more with feeling.
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Old 05-15-2020, 03:49 PM
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There will always be a discreet transition time when good (or bad) things come along; that can't be helped. Were small pox victims "screwed over" because they got the disease before vaccination came about? There will always be some people subject to the very tail end of worse times, but unless those in control purposely time things with a targeted group in mind, I don't think it's a legitimate grievance... just an unfortunate reality.
Just a side comment, because I just found this out yesterday -- my sister went to elementary school with a kid who had had small pox. Obviously, this was before the small pox vaccine was developed. She said he had the scars all over his face. She's 67, so that's the timeline. It was in California.
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Old 05-15-2020, 03:58 PM
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I don't think the argument is so much that people should be made to suffer, as it is that those who put in more effort than others should get more credit.

For instance, going back to the A+ example, suppose that one student puts in a lot of hard work studying for a test, and answers all test questions correctly, and gets an A+. But then the teacher abruptly announces that all the other students (who have yet to even take the test) will be gifted an A+ anyway without needing to take the test.

Does the student who studied hard and took the test, deserve some extra credit for his/her labor, or are they only entitled to the same outcome (A+) as the others?
In this rather absurd hypothetical that does not relate to the question at hand, he comes out of it with more knowledge than the rest of the students. And as that is the entire point of going to school, he is already better off.

Money, grades, is it all just a score, a way to show off your superiority to others?

Here's another hypothetical. You and your friend are at the bottom of a cliff face, and you want to get to the top. After hours of climbing, you finally get to the top, where your friend is waiting after having taken the stairs. Do you deserve to be up there more than he does?
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Old 05-15-2020, 04:13 PM
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If college becomes free, and you already paid for your college education, and you think you got screwed somehow, then you wasted your money.
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Old 05-15-2020, 04:24 PM
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What the OP's example boils down to is that Warren was proposing to spend taxpayer money to forgive other people's loans. That is much different from an employer giving free cars to every employee except the one who already has a car. It would be much more comparable to the employer saying, "No raises this year. Instead, we are going to use the money to buy everyone a car...except you."
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Old 05-15-2020, 04:39 PM
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Here's another hypothetical:

Elon Musk invents the YardBot. It's a robot that has all the gizmos to do all your yard work, and smart enough to use them correctly. It mows the lawn when it needs it, applies fertilizer, weed n' feed, etc. at the appropriate times of year, rakes the leaves in the fall, blows the leaves and grass clippings off your driveway and walkways, pressure-washes your exterior walls, trims your shrubbery, you name it. They cost $100K each, but you think: I'll never have to do all that yard work again!

Jump forward six or eight years, and as often happens in the high-tech world, other manufacturers have reverse-engineered everything the YardBot does, and competition has pushed the price of rival yard robots down to $5000 apiece, and the rivals also wash and wax your cars, check your oil and tire pressure, and add oil and air as needed. Now practically everybody's got one, and they didn't have to put a second mortgage on their homes to get one.

Should you feel aggrieved that you paid serious money for yours, while others are now getting theirs for peanuts?

ISTM that the only difference between this scenario and the OP's is that there's nobody in particular to blame in this one.
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Old 05-15-2020, 04:39 PM
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What the OP's example boils down to is that Warren was proposing to spend taxpayer money to forgive other people's loans. That is much different from an employer giving free cars to every employee except the one who already has a car. It would be much more comparable to the employer saying, "No raises this year. Instead, we are going to use the money to buy everyone a car...except you."
It would be more like, "We're buying everyone a car that wants a car!" And you saying, "I don't want a car, as I already bought one. Therefore, no one else can have one either."
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Old 05-15-2020, 04:44 PM
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If there's any unfairness at all it would be to exclude people who have already been to college from getting another degree under the new terms. That can be easily rectified. Otherwise there is nothing unfair about it.
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Old 05-15-2020, 05:27 PM
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Some people's parents can easily afford to pay all of their childrens' college expenses, and will do so. Other peoples' parents can and will do so, but only with considerable difficulty, meaning that they have to work extremely long hours and/or work at jobs that are extremely unpleasant for them and/or go without things most people in their society think of as essential. Some peoples' parents either can't or won't pay for all of their childrens' college expenses, but can and will (with varying degrees of difficulty) contribute something. Some peoples' parents either can't or won't contribute anything at all to their childrens' college expenses.

People whose parents are in the second two categories often take out loans. Is it not unfair to them that their parents weren't in the first category, or at least the second?


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Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
Whether it's "legit" or not, I think it's a part of human nature, one that I can understand and sympathize with. It goes against our sense of fairness or justice when we work really hard for (and/or sacrifice to obtain) something, and then others are given that thing without having to do or give up anything. (And yes, I immediately thought of that same parable of Jesus that Kimstu brought up, which plays on that facet of human nature.)

This is what's behind many people's opposition to welfare: the feeling that other people are just being given something that I have to work hard for (or, worse, they're being given something that I can't even afford). The resentment level rises when the welfare recipients are seen as not really deserving or not really needing what they're given: they could work to support themselves but choose not to. And it rises even further when the recipients are actively cheating or gaming the system.

IMHO, there is some fraction of this resentment that is "legit," or at least defensible, and some that is not. Some of the reasons that those who pay their own way are able to do so are that they have been given things that others have not, like a sound mind and body or a secure and prosperous childhood.
Problem is, you can't actually tell how hard somebody's working by how much money they wind up with. Many very difficult jobs with long hours don't pay very much.

And what you're saying is behind many people's opposition to welfare could be used just as well to defend resenting people who have lots of money, but who inherited either the money itself or the advantages that made it much easier for them to get one of the jobs that does pay well.

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Does the student who studied hard and took the test, deserve some extra credit for his/her labor
I was good at tests when I was in school. It generally took me very little effort to do well on them. Some of those who did worse on those tests than I did studied harder.

Maybe they should have gotten extra credit. One problem is, it's massively harder to assess how much effort is actually being applied than it is to assess the results. But I think it's utterly unfair to assume, without considerable other evidence about the specific case, that because someone didn't do well on a test, that it must be because they didn't study. Just as I think it's utterly unfair to assume, without considerable other evidence about the specific case, that because somebody can't afford to pay for college it must be because they (or their parents) are unwilling to work.


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Child labor laws are unfair because children used to work in coal mines. OSHA is unfair because people used to lose limbs all the time in meat packing plants. Democracy is unfair because Kings used to rule over their vassals.
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Originally Posted by Saintly Loser View Post
I don't know, seems like we could never make any progress if we strictly adhered to some idea of "fairness."[ . . . ] I think we have to put the idea of "unfairness" out of the discussion altogether. It simply boils down to "I didn't get this [free education/health care/retirement/whatever] so nobody should."
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Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
Wanting the next generation to struggle....it would be like insisting a new miraculous painkiller must be banned because everyone must experience severe pain.
Agreeing with all of those three. Saying 'nobody else should get this benefit because it wasn't available in the past when I could have used it' is not, IMO, a good argument.
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Old 05-15-2020, 05:34 PM
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Here's another hypothetical:

Elon Musk invents the YardBot. It's a robot that has all the gizmos to do all your yard work, and smart enough to use them correctly. It mows the lawn when it needs it, applies fertilizer, weed n' feed, etc. at the appropriate times of year, rakes the leaves in the fall, blows the leaves and grass clippings off your driveway and walkways, pressure-washes your exterior walls, trims your shrubbery, you name it. They cost $100K each, but you think: I'll never have to do all that yard work again!

Jump forward six or eight years, and as often happens in the high-tech world, other manufacturers have reverse-engineered everything the YardBot does, and competition has pushed the price of rival yard robots down to $5000 apiece, and the rivals also wash and wax your cars, check your oil and tire pressure, and add oil and air as needed. Now practically everybody's got one, and they didn't have to put a second mortgage on their homes to get one.

Should you feel aggrieved that you paid serious money for yours, while others are now getting theirs for peanuts?

ISTM that the only difference between this scenario and the OP's is that there's nobody in particular to blame in this one.
No because they got the use of the yardbot in the intervening years.

How about this: You can prepay for a yardbot or you can pay more for one on the installment plan. Before the first installment payment happened Musk announces that yard bots are now free for those who chose the installment plan and those who prepaid have to pay a little more to help pay for other people's yardbots.

How about a payment to all americans who went to college? Those who have higher degrees can get more and those who went to the more prestigious colleges get more. That would be fairer.
  #42  
Old 05-15-2020, 06:08 PM
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The question WASN'T is it's fair...


People are using the word "Fair" a lot here. The question was whether it's a legitimate grounds for grievance. Yes, folks should be aggrieved. It's Changing the Rules in the Middle of the Game"!

People took out loans, promising to pay the other Taxpayers back... and the politicians and the public went along with it ON THOSE GROUNDS... not on some other give away plan. That is changing the rules after they were agreed to and the process began. FOWL!
  #43  
Old 05-15-2020, 06:28 PM
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I don't know, seems like we could never make any progress if we strictly adhered to some idea of "fairness."

Would it be "unfair" to all those who went into bankruptcy because of medical debt if we passed a really good national health insurance program tomorrow, so that nobody would ever have to worry about medical bills again? Obviously there would be some who, say, got hit by a bus the week after the law went into effect, so that they wouldn't have contribute financially (by way of taxation) to the program. Would it be "unfair" to treat them at no significant cost to the patient because some other dude got hit by a bus a year ago and went bankrupt trying to keep up with the bills?

Was it "unfair" to previous generations to pass Social Security, when so many in the past got nothing?

I think we have to put the idea of "unfairness" out of the discussion altogether. It simply boils down to "I didn't get this [free education/health care/retirement/whatever] so nobody should."
The answer to all your questions is yes, those situations were clearly unfair. If 1920's A worked hard all his life, got injured on the job and couldn't work any more, got evicted from his house and starved to death on the street, while 1960's B worked hard all his life, got injured on the job, and was rescued by Social Security and disability payments, of course it's unfair to A.

But that has nothing to do with whether it was right to institute Social Security --- of course it is the right thing to do to help people who can't work to pay their bills.

Many posts here seem to be concentrating on whether it's unfair for people to get benefits for X, and because they favor those benefits, they say it's not unfair. But the very fact that they believe that people have a right to (e.g.) affordable medical care, automatically means that people who were denied that right were treated unfairly.

We can't go back in time and help everybody who ever lived before benefit X, but it seems reasonable to me that if we can institute free tuition or universal health care or whatever, we can allocate additional funds to help people who are currently strapped because they spent their life savings on college or medical bills. It shouldn't be that hard to verify that they had a modest income, and that it was consumed by those expenses. Rich people need not apply, and those of modest income need not be fully compensated if they paid for tuition at a prestigious private college, rather than in-state tuition at a public college.

But surely it's more fair to compensate them even partially than to just say, "Sucks to be you."

Last edited by TonySinclair; 05-15-2020 at 06:32 PM.
  #44  
Old 05-16-2020, 08:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sdowiat View Post
People are using the word "Fair" a lot here. The question was whether it's a legitimate grounds for grievance. Yes, folks should be aggrieved. It's Changing the Rules in the Middle of the Game"!

People took out loans, promising to pay the other Taxpayers back... and the politicians and the public went along with it ON THOSE GROUNDS... not on some other give away plan. That is changing the rules after they were agreed to and the process began. FOWL!
The game is life, and so the only way to not change the rules in the middle of the game is for everyone to be dead.

Is there any time or place when we can change anything at all without offense?
  #45  
Old 05-16-2020, 09:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
Whether it's "legit" or not, I think it's a part of human nature, one that I can understand and sympathize with. It goes against our sense of fairness or justice when we work really hard for (and/or sacrifice to obtain) something, and then others are given that thing without having to do or give up anything. (And yes, I immediately thought of that same parable of Jesus that Kimstu brought up, which plays on that facet of human nature.)

This is what's behind many people's opposition to welfare: the feeling that other people are just being given something that I have to work hard for (or, worse, they're being given something that I can't even afford). The resentment level rises when the welfare recipients are seen as not really deserving or not really needing what they're given: they could work to support themselves but choose not to. And it rises even further when the recipients are actively cheating or gaming the system.

IMHO, there is some fraction of this resentment that is "legit," or at least defensible, and some that is not. Some of the reasons that those who pay their own way are able to do so are that they have been given things that others have not, like a sound mind and body or a secure and prosperous childhood.
I agree with all of this. This "changing of the rules" is not illegal and it is not really even immoral as it was not the intention of the person changing the rules to disadvantage the prior people and the prior people are not disadvantaged at all.

But it does hit the human psyche as a question of your own decision making process and your own self worth. You feel slighted that you weren't given consideration for what you perceive was a similar situation. You question your own decision making abilities that you should have somehow seen that this give away was coming and not have been such a chump to pay like you chose to pay.

To me it's not different that if you bought a car for a certain price and next month it is on clearance to make room for the new models or you found out that your neighbor was able to negotiate a better deal. You just feel stupid, stupid, stupid, and like all people, that doesn't sit well with their mind, so they want to find someone to blame.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonySinclair View Post
The answer to all your questions is yes, those situations were clearly unfair. If 1920's A worked hard all his life, got injured on the job and couldn't work any more, got evicted from his house and starved to death on the street, while 1960's B worked hard all his life, got injured on the job, and was rescued by Social Security and disability payments, of course it's unfair to A.

But that has nothing to do with whether it was right to institute Social Security --- of course it is the right thing to do to help people who can't work to pay their bills.
It's a little different to compare 40 years later to sufficiently contemporaneous. Your psyche is eased because you don't blame yourself for not seeing a change so far into the future.

So I think laws should try to be as contemporaneously fair as possible using grandfather clauses and the like and use sliding scales for benefits going back to before when the law was passed.
  #46  
Old 05-16-2020, 10:32 PM
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Yes they have a legit grievance. As others have mentioned it's not a reason to not change things. However, the politician(s) pushing this should recognize that some people are going to feel that way and address it. If their only answer is "of course not" and move on that's just bad politics.
  #47  
Old 05-17-2020, 09:57 AM
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What about slaves who spent many years working to purchase their freedom, and then suddenly they see that slavery is banned and all slaves are set free? Did they have a right to be angry?
  #48  
Old 05-18-2020, 10:55 AM
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In this rather absurd hypothetical that does not relate to the question at hand, he comes out of it with more knowledge than the rest of the students. And as that is the entire point of going to school, he is already better off.
It's not absurd; something very similar happened to me in college. An old exam in one course was found and passed around most people in the class, except for me (I never saw it). This teacher recycled questions, and on this day gave pretty much the exact same test as that older version.

Pretty much the whole class got an A+, while I got a B. I was actually really good in this subject and typically got the best marks. I had studied well and got an OK mark. The others had (in my mind) cheated and got good marks. I felt wronged. The teacher didn't agree and didn't consider it cheating or unfair. Sucked to be me. So yes I felt upset, but nothing was done about it which one could say made my grievance not legitimate.
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Old 05-18-2020, 12:40 PM
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It's not absurd; something very similar happened to me in college. An old exam in one course was found and passed around most people in the class, except for me (I never saw it). This teacher recycled questions, and on this day gave pretty much the exact same test as that older version.

Pretty much the whole class got an A+, while I got a B. I was actually really good in this subject and typically got the best marks. I had studied well and got an OK mark. The others had (in my mind) cheated and got good marks. I felt wronged. The teacher didn't agree and didn't consider it cheating or unfair. Sucked to be me. So yes I felt upset, but nothing was done about it which one could say made my grievance not legitimate.
Not sure that I consider it to be anyway similar.

That's more like, everyone got cookies, but I didn't know about the cookies, so I didn't get any.

If it wasn't cheating, then it was part of the test materials available for you to study. That you didn't take advantage of the study materials shouldn't make you feel aggrieved.

Studying off of old exams is a pretty standard practice, teachers not updating their exams yearly is a more problematic, but still widespread practice.

And, at the end of the day, you left the class with more knowledge than the other students.

Personally, I consider a legitimate grievance to be where you have been harmed unfairly. A legitimate grievance is not when someone else benefits from something you don't think that they deserve.
  #50  
Old 05-18-2020, 04:21 PM
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Personally, I consider a legitimate grievance to be where you have been harmed unfairly. A legitimate grievance is not when someone else benefits from something you don't think that they deserve.
Money is fungible and government spending on education is at least partially rivalrous, so it's not hard to see how those who don't receive government largesse are in fact being harmed.

This is pretty easy to see if you change the groups who are getting the benefit.

Imagine that instead of "recently graduated students with loans" receiving money from the government, that a program was announced to retroactively pay the school bills of men, but not women. Or white people, but not black people. Would the outgroup not be harmed by that policy? Would they not have a legitimate grievance? It seems obvious to me that they would.

Now, as a policy matter, it still may make sense to have the government pay the college bills of the (relatively poorer) class of students who are in debt and not pay for the (relatively richer) class of students who aren't. Rich people already have plenty of advantages, and we can level the playing field a bit by supporting the poorer people at their expense.

Although, if you follow that logic very far, it seems likely that it's a bad expenditure of money in general. People who went to college tend to do better than people who didn't. If we're spending money on poor people, people who weren't able to go to college at all are likely far more deserving.
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