"10% of the population could just never get it together."

So I was listening to the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast and his guest, founder of Vice Magazine, Shane Smith, said something that really piqued my interest. When talking about those that are continually on welfare and just leech off the system, or when looking at unemployment numbers, Shane said that in almost every society in history, they have had about 10% of its citizens that just “could never get their shit to work within that [country’s] system.” No matter what system it is, 10% of the people just don’t vibe with the rest of the country. Whether they were outcasts from the general society, or people who were continually homeless and asking for help, or just say, agrarian people in an industrial area, Shane said that this accounts for about 10% of people. With that point made, he argued that we need to stop worrying so much about welfare because that 10% has always existed.

The welfare argument aside, I wanted to know if there was any validity to his claim that there seems to be a constant trend of this 10%, or if he was just talking out his ass. Thanks! Love you guys!

I have had the same thought about a certain percentage of outcasts, but thought that it was society’s fault rather than the 10%. Even though it is uneconomic to do so, we always indulge in our political-animal impulses in making sure a certain percentage of society does not function. We have an impulse to not get this number above this because it would harm society.

I don’t think in this context Shane was saying it was their fault either. Tbh, I don’t think he really said it was anyone’s fault at all. He was saying that there were these populations and it should always just be taken into account that they will always exist.

My gut reaction is similar, though I don’t think it’s entirely this malicious. Rather, once there are more than some critical mass of downtrodden people (well over 10%), there will be a revolution and the new society will tend to serve the formerly downtrodden a little better. And from the other direction, even prosperous societies don’t want to spend more resources than necessary providing a safety net or changing the entire system to better meet the needs of fewer and fewer people.

Plus I don’t think anyone in all of history has a damn clue how to build a society where absolutely 100% of everyone can prosper.

What Smith is saying makes sense to me.

It may make sense, but I very much doubt that he has any data on which to base his ten percent figure.

Even the bible states that the poor will always be with you. :frowning: Instead of labeling them as lazy welfare freeloaders people need to take into account people who don’t have their good health or acute mental capabilities. For every genius there is an idiot; there are two sides to the bell curve. Some people actually do not have an opportunity to excel no matter how many incidental unique cases of people pulling themselves out of poverty and illiteracy they can quote. Ten percent is just a random number, but it’s probably in the ball park.

It’s less than 8% in the US - that is, people “that receive any portion of their support from from welfare assistance–including food stamps–it is 29,900,000 or roughly 8% of the total population in the United States.” But not all of those - not even most of those - are going to be receiving or needing assistance forever, and most of those are people receiving one or two forms of assistance, most often WIC or food stamps, not a total support package.

So, less than 10% in the system, and less than that in long term, much less “forever”.

Are there *some *number of people who will always be poor, for whom welfare isn’t going to make them ultimately productive and self-sufficient? Sure. But I think 10% is rectally derived.

What I find interesting is that I take exactly the opposite moral from the story…if we’re always going to have that x%, then we should work hard to make sure we do have that social safety net in place, so as to help them stay as healthy, safe and productive as possible. Knowing that they may never “get out of the system” doesn’t mean we should ignore them and let them rot and fester and infect the rest of us with violence and theft and the knowledge that we let that happen, it means we need to set different goals for their place in our society. A goal of eliminating poverty may not be realistic, but a goal of reducing it and ameliorating its worst effects may be.

I suspect the ‘10%’ is rectally derived, but yes, there are a certain proportion of people who genuinely do not seem to understand the concept of rules (and aren’t creative or intelligent enough to find a work around).

That probably holds true whether the rules are ‘grovel when the emperor passes by’, ‘plant before midsummer, or the harvest will likely fail’ or ‘fill in this form and return in by friday, or we won’t be able to accept your application’.

ETA: I don’t think we should leave them starving in the streets though.

I don’t understand. What harm would it do society if there weren’t a bunch of people who can’t function within it?

Isn’t he basically saying that in any society 10% of the population occupy an arbitrarily define bottom 10%?

Those numbers are either wrong or out of date. It is over 15% just for food stamps.

Certainly even among the wealthiest ten percent, there are a certain number of people who are screw-ups; drug addicts, foolish with money, or just stupid. It’s just that they don’t generally need public assistance, unless they blow all of their money.

The OP makes sense to me. If social groups are inherently heirarchical, there has to be a few at the bottom or it won’t work. Someone has to be Piggy. If you could take away the ones at the bottom, the group will readjust so that others are bullied to the bottom, so eliminating the 10 percent, or whatever the number is, of so-called welfare cases won’t eliminate welfare. There’ll always be others to take their place.

It’s been a rough decade. I believe you. How many are on food stamps, or need to be, forever?

It would fuck up the people who are functional but would otherwise be the bottom feeders and whose psyches require someone else to look down on.

What RNATB said is the reason for it. The actions by which this is accomplished are things like the War on Drugs which makes otherwise functional people into the unemployable. If we didn’t have the War on Drugs, then it would be better for society because these people would be able to do productive work.

I’m positing that it is human nature to want someone to look down on, and societies tend to create them if they don’t exist already. Plus a little bit of what lazy said in that if the non productive downtrodden percentage of society is more or less than a certain number there tends to be revolution or apathy.

I guess I’m also wondering about the historical aspect of this? I guess the basis for the argument of “this 10% number will always be around” would be if that 10% number was around before then. So…has there always been a 10% population of mal-adjusted people in most societies? Even recently?

I’ve certainly known people whose lives never “jelled” who never seemed to come up to what seemed to be their potential. You see it in sports all the time, although they don’t usually go on welfare.

Even among mathematicians this is true. Around 25 years ago, I gave an advanced course in which there were two star students. Possibly the best two students I had ever taught. They both went off the grad school, one at Harvard and one at MIT, and got PhDs. One of the two eventually ended up teaching at a community college, while the other is a star mathematician. Okay, neither is on welfare. But we professors discussed the two of them and couldn’t see a particle of difference between them. Go figure!

Well, I see that sort of thing (the example of the two mathematicians) when I follow the careers of actors. You might see a couple of actors in a movie or TV show, and think they’ve both got what it takes. One makes it to the A-list, while the other’s career just fades away.