French economist Thomas Piketty is raising a ruckus

I agree with that completely, but that’s still change at the margins. “More likely” is a given. How much more likely? I maintain that most people with transportation yet no skills do not get better jobs as a result of their access to transportation. Sure, some do. Which is why I said it affects things at the margins, as most government policies do.

Didn’t you say upthread that the incomes of the poor were brought up by 60% by the government? :confused:

This is pretty wishy-washy – “most” could be 99% or it could be 51%. If mass transit only helps 1% of people get better jobs, then I probably wouldn’t support it so much. But if it helps 40%? Then that’s huge! I’ll try to do some googling later.

And brought down the incomes of the rich by even more, as well as the middle class.

That’s a pretty high cost for a pretty poor result. $14,000 doesn’t get you very far in Sweden.

My wild ass guess is 10%. I think mass transit is worth it, becuase it doesn’t just help the poor. Wall Street brokers take the subway too. IT’s good for the environment and improves quality of life.

But at least down here in Florida, the vast majority of poor people have access to a car. And it really doesn’t seem to make a difference. Although I guess being able to work two jobs does improve ones income significantly, and you can do that if you have good mass transit or a car.

As an upper-middle-class person in Sweden, I’ll happily pay that price. And, seeing how every party in the country has promised to raise taxes as part of their election campaign, I think most other Swedes agree with me.

Well… seeing how you’ll never have to pay to go to university or to send your kid to daycare or to school, and how when you have a kid you’ll get 9 months of paid parental leave, and how the most you’ll ever pay to see a doctor is $15, I think those $14,000 will get you quite far in Sweden. Money seems to fly away when you have to pay for all those things separately

Are we talking about free-market capitalism here, or are we talking about a situation where the government stays completely out of the economy? Because the two are vastly different. The free market is a wonderful tool, but it’s only a tool: It still has to be wielded. It doesn’t just happen automatically.

Take that public transportation example: The way that capitalism results in higher wages for workers is that companies have to compete for workers. If the workers can travel further, then there are more companies competing for them. Competition is good; more competition is better.

Or health care: Leave it unregulated, and you end up with plans that never actually pay out, because they’ll drop you as soon as they would have to. And people stick with these plans, because they can’t buy plans on the open market. There’s no competition. Pass something like the ACA, though, and now the companies need to compete. Now you’re putting the free market to work.

Or, consider the tragedy of the commons, like in the energy industry. If the government stays out, then you get everyone using the air at no cost, and therefore using it wastefully, even though that waste benefits nobody. Institute a carbon tax, though, or cap and trade, and now the energy providers compete on how efficiently they use the air, and there’s the free market again.

Yes, government intervention can also in some cases make society less free or less capitalistic. And the solution to that is to just not do those interventions. The existence of such stupid choices, however, doesn’t mean that the smart choices don’t exist.

Not my experience. Although you may be using the term “at the margins” in a way that I’m not getting.

When I was broke, I could use the bus to get to the temp jobs . . . I’m not sure what the alternative to that would even be. Walking there overnight at the beginning and then sleeping in the bushes for the length of the job?

When I got the steady data entry job, using the bus made it easier, which gave me the time to do the work to get the entry level engineering job. That may be at the margins to you, but it was core personal economics to me.

A significant portion of most clerical, maintenance, and low level administration salaries are spent locally. And I’d guess those are the most typical government jobs. I’m not sure how high a salary has to go before it most of it is discretional spending (which produces the option of building non-retirement capital), but my CBS guess is that 90% of government workers earn below that.

Again, not my personal experience, but then I’m in the engineering section. Here it’s definitely a trade off. You can make more money in the corporate world, but you’d be expected to work a lot of overtime, take less family time off, and your position is less secure. It’s especially less secure if you want to make the really big bucks, because that usually requires you to set up your own company.

So the choice is more money vs. better benefits. I will fully admit that government benefits are usually pretty sweet. I will also admit that I haven’t priced out other categories, but most of the folks that I’ve talked to are more keyed into the benefits.

Also, the group employment contracts that are most contentious here locally are for the Police and Fire Departments. I’m not sure how you’d compare government vs. non-government salaries for them, and for the military, on the federal level. And they take up a good-sized whack of the budget.

US prices are much lower. So - why exactly would you rather make $90,000 in Sweden than $150,000 in the USA?

DC is a really bad example. Although it seemed like DC was gonna get killed in this deal, the reality is that it has worked out pretty well for the city. One key point to highlight this is the property value increase on the Capital Riverfront.

There is also jobs, stadium taxes, etc. I think your point generally holds, and that DC probably could have driven a harder bargain, but most people correctly think the city has benefited form the deal. Now I guess you can argue that poor people didn’t benefit as much as a few rich people did, but I think the investment in general was sound.

I responded above just now. When you factor in stuff like private health insurance, tuition fees, etc, I think discretionary incomes equal out quite starkly.

Can you give a cite? Study? Something other than your say so?

I mean, you’re talking $60K/year difference. Even if you throw in all those things you said, $150K in the US is still vastly better than $90K in Sweden.

I’m guessing that means you’re unable to provide an answer to my question.

No, you still pay for that.

I do think that quality of life evens out. Sweden has less crime, less pollution, better schools, better health care. But if getting rich is your dream, there are about 100 places you’d have a better chance.

Nah, I didn’t mean that they equalled completely. Sorry about the misunderstanding. But differences do of course even out just by the fact that your taxes include more services in one country than in the other. By how much? No idea. I’ve tried to look for cites but haven’t found any, and the difference between disposable and discretionary incomes is too much for this social scientist :smiley:

I think that’s something we can all agree on. Saying no to opulence in favour of simple yet safe living is a constant in Nordic societies.

That’s just the thing, even our poor seek out opulence. It’s what we strive for in the US. So that model would never work here.

IT’s funny too, because we have 4 million Swedes here and they tend to live in the most laissez-faire states. If you took them back you’d have a VERY different country.

And tens of thousands who move to Norway every year to work their arses off and come back as millionaires. I think the new generations are definitely beginning to leave traditional ideals behind.

Anyway, I’ll stop hijacking this thread with Nordic stuff. Back to the original topic you go :wink:

“Less crime” - disputable. Homicide rate is lower, but aggravated assault rate is double that of the US and rape rate is double that of the US. Burglary rate is 50% more than in the US.

“Better schools” - depends where you live in the US. I bet my school district’s public schools are better than most Swedish schools.

“Better health care” - again, depends where you live and how well insured you are. Someone with $150K income (which is what Batistuta was referring to) can afford pretty good health insurance, and with that, I bet the health care he receives will be as good or better than in Sweden.

It’s definitely better to be poor in Sweden though. As a middle class person, I prefer it here. Here meaning the USA.

I don’t want to be poor anywhere.