About food stamps and advanced degrees. Not all people earning a masters are going into high paying careers. Mine certainally wasn't a high paying career. Secondly, yes, its a choice. And some can argue that an adult choosing to live poor for a time to earn a degree is 'taking' money from other taxpayers. Perhaps so. But in the US, at least, during the past 30 years, automation has increased the productivity of workers - while wages have, at best, remained flat. Someone reaped an obscene mountain of money (value) from this 'arraingment.' The arraingment was brokerd by 'our' government. Massive amouts of wealth has been funnled into hands of the wealthiest 'citizens/corporations,' many of whom pay no taxes and receive additional cash/resource 'gifts' from the government (the taxpayers). The larger context in which these food stamp transfers happen does matter.
So, why do people continually harp on some poor people who abuse food stamps, while also supporting a corrupt political/economic system? By support, I mean either not mentioning this larger, more massive, white collar free-loading, or actually justifying this massive, white collar free-loading under the guise of 'free markets,' and 'capitalism,' when targeting the 'abuses' of people at the bottom end of the ecomomic jungle? Doesn't seem fair and balanced to me.
The discussion at hand was PhD students and food stamps (among a few other things), not the larger problems in society. That's probably why no one has mentioned other issues (although some of the things discussed here are certainly generalizable to larger problems). I'm sorry, but anyone pursuing a PhD is a highly capable individual. By and large they are purposefully forgoing earning potential for something they see as a benefit (love of a subject, higher future earning potential, whatever). These are NOT the people the social safety net is meant to help. It's meant to help people that can't help themselves get to the point where they CAN help themselves. I'm not saying no one pursuing a PhD should get assistance, but that assistance should absolutely be conditioned about a significant number of things.
As for the larger problems in society, they really all come back to the same issue. No one wants responsibility for anything. People would rather bitch and whine than actually take the time to pay attention, study current economic and political conditions, and learn about HOW we've gotten into this giant mess. It's easier just to find a scapegoat and whine that the government needs to fix our problems. And if you need any proof that this is true, just look at the cities parks full of morons whining about corporations ruining the world when the barest bit of attention and research will show you that our problems are not corporate in origin, they're political in origin.
The problems all stem from politicians rigging a system they barely understand towards their favored groups or policies. These politicians have literally no concept of the consequences of their actions. The entire housing and credit bubbles were not caused by corporate greed. They were caused by politicians pushing those markets into areas they wouldn't otherwise have gone. Capital will ALWAYS go towards opportunity. That's the essence of capitalism. Politicians rigged the market to make risky investments and expansive credit potentially profitable in ways that would never have existed otherwise (and traditionally didn't exist). Bubbles by their very nature must pop. Politicians just continually delayed the pop because it would hurt their favored policies and in doing so ensured the burst was more painful.
But going back to the idiots in parks (and in reality the larger ideology they represent), they're going to continue to bemoan the very system that has created the immense wealth and productivity responsible for the massively available college education system, their favorite iDevices, their favored eco friendly cars, etc all while continuing to vote for many of the same politicians that forced the skewed regulatory policies that caused the bubbles in the first place. All because it's easier to be loud, ignorant, and demanding of short term benefit than informed and making choices that have short term hardship in return for long term prosperity.
Was their greed on Wall Street? Absolutely. We're human beings. There is greed in every endeavor. Denying that is just asking to be lied to and ripped off. The problem is that politicians messed with a system they barely understood (because they're by and large uninformed) and in doing so allowed that greed to move into areas it was previously regulated from going to. Hence easy credit, bad loans, larger than feasible banks packaging poorly backstopped securities all based on a government psuedo-guarantee leading to a society allowed to live WAY beyond its means.
And before people jump on a partisan bandwagon this goes beyond either party in the US. Both parties are equally to blame (though I'd argue for vastly different reasons). And in reality the blame ultimately falls not on politicians, but on us as citizens. We were content to live the lie because it got us nicer houses, a nicer second car, two or three computers instead of one family computer, and the ability to have a Wii, Xbox, and PS3 rather than having to choose one. The facts involved are not all that difficult to understand. We just chose not to because we wanted easy street and now we are looking for scapegoats. Own up, admit that we voted for these assclowns, and for fucks sake start paying attention. Don't kill every politician who says that we have some hard choices to make and may have to cut some popular handouts or scale back government guarantees on things (mortgages, credit, and college loans in particular). Until we're willing to admit we may have to own more of our future rather than relying on some ambiguous government program to guarantee that we're on easy street we're going to stay on an unsustainable path because that's what our votes are telling politicians we want.