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Old 02-12-2004, 07:36 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Working Poor?

One fundamental area of disagreement between people who consider themselves Democrats and people who consider themselves Republicans is their view on welfare, but I think it has more to do with differing views on the poor. Those views are much more important.

I don't expect a mere thread to be able to cut through such a fundamental area of disagreement, but it does seem like something worth talking about.

Before I get goin, here are some sites with information.

http://www.usccb.org/cchd/povertyusa/povfacts.htm

That one has more than I ought to quote, but here are a few key points:

"Since 2000, the number of poor Americans has grown by 3 million. The official poverty rate in 2002 (the most current year for which figures are available) was 12.1 percent, up from 11.7 percent in 2001. Total Americans below the official poverty thresholds numbered 34.6 million..."

http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/p60-222.pdf

That's a US census report on poverty. It doesn't make many normative claims about what our policy towards poverty should be, though it does have many facts.

Note that the poverty line for a family of four with two children is an annual income of $14,494.

Out of the 151.5 million workers in the US, almost 9 million live in poverty. This doesn't count children.

37.9% of those people below the poverty line worked in total. 11.2% worked full time, all year. The rest worked either part time, or party year.

You might note that most people who live in poverty don't work. I might note that 9 million american with jobs are below the poverty line. Keep in mind that the poverty line for a single person household is $9359. I don't know about you, but I might have a hard time living on less than $9359 a year. Also, keep in mind that this doesn't count people who are poor, but not quite in poverty. Lots of hard working americans have trouble making ends meet.

===========

So let me give you my quick bit on poverty and welfare. Sure, we may give a subsistence wage to people who don't work, but there are also literally millions of people who are poor and have jobs. There are literally millions of people who live in poverty that want jobs, and would rather work than take handouts. Moreover, better to give a lazy person welfare than to let his children do without the food, clothing, shelter, medicine, and education that they need. One way to judge the quality of our society by how well we care for our children.

I agree that people who refuse to work probably shouldn't be rewarded for it. That's just common sense. However, I would gladly send them a pittance if it means their children don't have to go hungry. Sure, they don't always spend it like they should, but the solution is not to get rid of welfare, but to reform it so that the money goes to things that are needed. Modern technology is making this increasingly possible. In addition, Clinton era reforms to welfare are making it increasingly difficult for able-bodied people to free-load. I'm not saying it's perfect yet, but I am saying that welfare is something we need to have, and that it's a good idea.
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Old 02-13-2004, 11:01 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Scipio: have you read "nickeled and dimed"? the author tries for a year to live on low wage jobs -- she goes to 4 different cities in america and works different jobs -- it give you real perspective reguarding the relaity of the working poor.
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Old 02-16-2004, 05:28 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Keep in mind that the "poverty line" is adjusted every year according to the consumer price index (CPI), which has overestimated inflation in each of the last 30 years. This is why the percentages of people considered poor continue to rise although their standard of livings are improving thanks to the efficiencies of capitalism.

Also, America's "poor" are the richest "poor" on the planet. They enjoy a standard of living far better than even the moderately wealthy of many other countries. In 1995, 41 percent of America's "poor" owned their own homes (750,000 of them with values in excess of $150,000), 70 percent owned a car, and 97 percent owned a color television.

As for nutrition, the average "poor" kid of 1995 was one inch taller and 10 pounds heavier than the average soldier in the Normandy invasion of 1944. Most of today's "poor" Americans enjoy a standard of living that would have been considered luxurious at the beginning of the 20th century. The rich may be getting richer, but so are the "poor."

I personally just wish government would lower taxes and let people keep what they earn. Why do we have such a negative view of the wealthy these days. That wealth was originally earned through some idea or hard work that added value to the economy. Why should one citizen be coerced into supporting others? The tyranny of the majority is apparent in the fact that the top 1% of wage earners pay 25% of total taxes. I'm not in that one percent, but I feel our graduated income tax system is a travesty. Get off my back.
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Old 02-16-2004, 07:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dostoevsky The tyranny of the majority is apparent in the fact that the top 1% of wage earners pay 25% of total taxes. I'm not in that one percent, but I feel our graduated income tax system is a travesty. Get off my back. [/B]
Well you can't argue with numbers, it is quite unfair that the top 1% has to pay 25% of the taxes. I mean they might control in excess of 60% of the wealth in America but that have to pay 25% of the taxes, unfair I say. I suggest that we start a grassroots movement to stop this "tyranny of the majority" and keep the top 1% from being taxed to death.
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Old 02-16-2004, 11:41 PM   #5 (permalink)
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See nanofever, that attitude is the problem. Why do you feel that you are entitled to have the incomes of the wealthy redistributed to you and other members of society? Did you earn it? No, they did.

You have the same opportunity to work hard and advance yourself in society as the wealthy do. Remember someone in that wealthy family earned a shitload of money through old fashioned American virtues like hard work, discipline, and innovation. Oh that's right, we don't want to do that shit anymore, let's just tax the people who actually earned the money the hard way.

Give me a break, when did we become such a pathetic society? Why do we feel like other people owe us just because they became financially successful? Everyone in society should pull their own weight.
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Old 02-17-2004, 12:13 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I find it far easier to claim everyone is getting lazy than to consider the possibility that even those who work hard can get trounced by those above.

Not to mention the fact that even the hardest working people are *never* going to get to that 1%.

But thanks for playing!
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Old 02-17-2004, 01:25 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dostoevsky
Give me a break, when did we become such a pathetic society? Why do we feel like other people owe us just because they became financially successful? Everyone in society should pull their own weight.
Damn straight! I think the reason for this mentality is primarily jealousy, tempered with the fact that it's considered trendy and "forward-thinking" to be a socialist. I don't know why it's so cool to follow a philosophy that runs contrary to human nature and has failed every single time it has ever been implemented, but whatever.

I work my ass off--18+ hour days are not at all uncommon for me. It absolutely disgusts me that so many piece of shit leeches in this country think they're entitled to my money that I earned because of MY labor. Those assholes want to sit on their couch and watch soap operas all day while living off money created by people who actually work. It's sick and it's wrong. People should be rewarded for their work--NOT the other way around!
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Old 02-17-2004, 01:37 AM   #8 (permalink)
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3 thoughts:

1. People in the upper 1% aren't there because they worked 400 hours per day. I agree that people who work long hours for normal wages shouldn't be penalized for it. But there are people who make orders of magnitude more than you without working -- because their money begets more money.

2. I would rather have a few people give up the chance to buy a fifth vacation home on Maui than have thousands of people give up the chance to provide shelter or enough food for their children.

3. Increased poverty leads to increased crime, including crime against those who are better off. Reduced poverty is in the best interest of all except the fortunate few who can afford 24-hour security and whatnot. Crime can also reduce the productivity of business.
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Old 02-17-2004, 02:07 AM   #9 (permalink)
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1. I don't have much respect for rich people who live off the success of their families--although I still don't think this gives the right to steal their money. As for the people who become independently wealthy, you better damn well believe they worked for it.

2. Contrary to popular belief, rich people tend to invest far more money in business than they do on a dozen luxury homes, etc. So when the government steps in and damages their ability to invest in businesses by stealing half their money, it hurts everybody. That money could have gone to creating more steady jobs, but instead it causes unemployed people getting paid with confiscated money to sit around and watch TV.

If you have a job, you can thank the people who put up the money and/or work to start the company you work for and to keep it running.

3. See #2.
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Old 02-17-2004, 05:44 AM   #10 (permalink)
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When was the last day that bill gates had wipe the sweat off his brow from a hard days work?

1. How many people inherited their wealth compared to worked hard for it? How rich would gwb be today if he was born to a steel worker in pittsburgh rather than a wealthy new england political clan.

2. If you have a lot of wealth, you can thank the workers who gave you their labor for less than it was worth.

I'm not saying i hate the wealthy, just that i think that too many people kiss ass because they think that one day they will be wealthy.
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Old 02-17-2004, 05:52 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I don't care if the poverty line is miscalculated due to over estimating inflation. I know I couldnt live off of 14,494 a year..
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Old 02-17-2004, 06:00 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Also, since he was brought up. Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, is in favor of progressive taxation.

Last edited by Superbelt; 02-17-2004 at 06:04 AM..
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Old 02-17-2004, 06:07 AM   #13 (permalink)
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His peer, the second richest man in the world agrees

Quote:
"The market system produces extraordinarily inequitable results, which should be mitigated by the tax system. It's inappropriate that the spread of prosperity in a prosperous country should be so inequitable due to quirks in people's skills. This is why I'm in favor of a progressive tax."
-Warren Buffett
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Old 02-17-2004, 06:15 AM   #14 (permalink)
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As usual, this is a complicated subject. People tend to make assumptions without understanding all facets of the discussion. I don't pretend to know everything on this subject but let me point out a few things.

1. Living on $9,000 in a metropolitan area is far different from living on it in the back woods of TN. Poverty figures are overall figures and take into account all areas of the country.

2. Income is only one factor that should be used to determine a family's ability to survive in America today and is relied on too heavily in the definition of poverty. For example, a retired person who owns their own home, has medical coverage, and substantial financial holdings can be considered "poor" if they choose not to dip into their savings and live, instead, on their social security to pay minimal bills. Yet these same poverty stricken individuals can leave millions to heirs/charity when they die.

3. Incomes are not adjusted to incorporate government programs which boost a household's buying power.
4. If you look at the chart from the Commerce Department, povery hit a low around 1972 and has been rising ever since. Statements like, "for the second year in a row poverty levels rose" completely mischaracterize the situation by dismissing the 30 year trend towards increasing "poverty".

There are countless other points that need to be taken into consideration when debating poverty levels.
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Last edited by onetime2; 02-17-2004 at 06:19 AM..
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Old 02-17-2004, 06:18 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Superbelt
Also, since he was brought up. Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, is in favor of progressive taxation.
That's fine. He should (and does) give his wealth to those who he deems the best targets of it. Forcing the rest of the "wealthy" to pay disproportianately more is inequitable and unfair.
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Old 02-17-2004, 06:20 AM   #16 (permalink)
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But the wealthy don't pay disproportionately more. They don't even pay their fair share. The rich, the top 5% and corporations are paying a smaller percentage of their yearly income than everyone below them.
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Old 02-17-2004, 06:24 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Superbelt
But the wealthy don't pay disproportionately more. They don't even pay their fair share. The rich, the top 5% and corporations are paying a smaller percentage of their yearly income than everyone below them.
I don't believe that's true. If you are using the wealth argument (that they control a disproportionate amount of the wealth relative to the tax they pay) that's different than the percentage of their income.

What do you believe would be their "fair share"?
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Old 02-17-2004, 06:29 AM   #18 (permalink)
This vexes me. I am terribly vexed.
 
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Pay in an equal percentage of the governments taxing of individuals to what they are making.

The rich (top 5%) make 57.4% of this nations yearly earnings yet only pay into the system 53.25%
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Old 02-17-2004, 06:35 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Superbelt
Pay in an equal percentage of the governments taxing of individuals to what they are making.

The rich (top 5%) make 57.4% of this nations yearly earnings yet only pay into the system 53.25%
Not sure of the numbers you quote, but would you be satisfied if they paid 57.4%? I get the feeling that most who argue the "rich" should pay more want more than that.
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Old 02-17-2004, 06:45 AM   #20 (permalink)
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No I wouldn't, but that would be a good start. I believe that at least when you get up to that 5% level you have a duty to pay back to America a certain percentage above and beyond, A Progressive Taxation for the benefit of living in a country where your wealth and property is protected as it is here. Government is there to protect our rights and property. When you have more of it, you need to pay more money to the nation to continue to protect it properly.


This is also a very good reason. Coming from a man as smart as he, and as accomplished at making money as he. His word should carry much weight.
Quote:
"The market system produces extraordinarily inequitable results, which should be mitigated by the tax system. It's inappropriate that the spread of prosperity in a prosperous country should be so inequitable due to quirks in people's skills. This is why I'm in favor of a progressive tax."
-Warren Buffett
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Old 02-17-2004, 07:16 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Superbelt
No I wouldn't, but that would be a good start. I believe that at least when you get up to that 5% level you have a duty to pay back to America a certain percentage above and beyond, A Progressive Taxation for the benefit of living in a country where your wealth and property is protected as it is here. Government is there to protect our rights and property. When you have more of it, you need to pay more money to the nation to continue to protect it properly.


This is also a very good reason. Coming from a man as smart as he, and as accomplished at making money as he. His word should carry much weight.
If you wouldn't be satisfied with them paying equally then why use that in the argument? Say you want them to pay 75% (or whatever it might actually be) and argue the merits of it.

As for the thrust of your argument, we will have to agree to disagree. It takes no more effort to insure the safety of a multi million dollar mansion than it does to protect the rent controlled apartment.

Instilling a tax such as the one you outline (and many who shout "the rich should be paying more" support) will not work. It will give the rich more reason to avoid paying taxes and will drive people to leave the country and move to more favorable tax havens (a la corporations moving to Bermuda).
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Old 02-17-2004, 07:51 AM   #22 (permalink)
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I see it as incremental steps, and the step to them getting to an even keel with the rest of america is important because blowhards like Rush Limbaugh and some of the Republican Leadership like to create class warfare by claiming that the rich are paying too much in taxes as it is. Let's rectify one problem at a time.

America has the second lowest tax rate among all the major developed nations. And that is by a LONG shot. There is nowhere the rich would rather be than here. Also, after Clinton raised to top tier tax rates, the rich started making money like never before. They never had it so good since Clintons tax.
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Old 02-17-2004, 08:02 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Superbelt
I see it as incremental steps, and the step to them getting to an even keel with the rest of america is important because blowhards like Rush Limbaugh and some of the Republican Leadership like to create class warfare by claiming that the rich are paying too much in taxes as it is. Let's rectify one problem at a time.

America has the second lowest tax rate among all the major developed nations. And that is by a LONG shot. There is nowhere the rich would rather be than here. Also, after Clinton raised to top tier tax rates, the rich started making money like never before. They never had it so good since Clintons tax.
I think we may be headed away from the topic here. Increasing the tax rates on the rich will do what to help the "poor"? Certainly the government has had more revenue over the last 30 years than they've had in the past. They've spent more money on improving poverty than ever before, and yet the poverty rate has been on the increase since the early 70's. More money is not the solution.

On a side note, citing the tax rates of other countries is an unconvincing justification IMO. Look at their economies, the problems with their health care systems, the struggles that many of their industries have and compare them to the US. They are far from good examples of how to effectively run a government or grow an economy.
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Old 02-17-2004, 09:49 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Wow, alot of socialist in the vicinity. Where to begin.

Originally posted by Filtherton:
"When was the last day that bill gates had wipe the sweat off his brow from a hard days work?

1. How many people inherited their wealth compared to worked hard for it? How rich would gwb be today if he was born to a steel worker in pittsburgh rather than a wealthy new england political clan.

2. If you have a lot of wealth, you can thank the workers who gave you their labor for less than it was worth."
-----------------------------------------------------

Well first, Bill Gates has revolutionized computer software and deserves every penny he ever made. Ideas are normally more valuable than physical labor.

2. If you have a job, you can thank someone smarter than you who figured out a way to compete successfully in a market and create your job. Also, the market dictates what labor is worth. If you don't like your wage than you should develop more valuable skills.
------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by Zeld2.0:
"I find it far easier to claim everyone is getting lazy than to consider the possibility that even those who work hard can get trounced by those above.

Not to mention the fact that even the hardest working people are *never* going to get to that 1%.

But thanks for playing!"
------------------------------------------------------
Oh, how witty

Getting into the top 1% of earners isn't guaranteed to anyone who has a good idea or works hard. But the opportunity is still there. Our society would be better off if we had more people like Andrew Carnegie and John Rockefeller who revolutionized industries, created jobs, increased our standard of living, and became filthy rich through hard work and vision.

Now we have people with political views like yours who feel like they can't succeed and that society is so unfair, etc, etc. If you have a great idea or some unique skill than you deserve to become rich. Otherwise, you don't. But in this country you can still work hard and live well.

Step into the light...
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Old 02-17-2004, 10:07 AM   #25 (permalink)
This vexes me. I am terribly vexed.
 
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Quote:
Well first, Bill Gates has revolutionized computer software and deserves every penny he ever made. Ideas are normally more valuable than physical labor.

2. If you have a job, you can thank someone smarter than you who figured out a way to compete successfully in a market and create your job. Also, the market dictates what labor is worth. If you don't like your wage than you should develop more valuable skills.
Actually, Bill Gates did not revolutionize Computer software.
Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs pretty much created/marketed (Xerox who Apple had a pertnership actually did much of the initial work, but the GUI was all Apples) "Windows" as an open source application. The model computer was the Apple Lisa. It was a trade show, Bill was there, he saw this, took a copy and then went and copyrighted it and made his billions.

Windows 1.0 was born

Last edited by Superbelt; 02-17-2004 at 10:12 AM..
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Old 02-17-2004, 10:17 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dostoevsky
Getting into the top 1% of earners isn't guaranteed to anyone who has a good idea or works hard. But the opportunity is still there. Our society would be better off if we had more people like Andrew Carnegie and John Rockefeller who revolutionized industries, created jobs, increased our standard of living, and became filthy rich through hard work and vision.

Now we have people with political views like yours who feel like they can't succeed and that society is so unfair, etc, etc. If you have a great idea or some unique skill than you deserve to become rich. Otherwise, you don't. But in this country you can still work hard and live well.

Step into the light...
If I were to oversimplify your opinion in the way you did to Zeld2.0, it would sound something like this: "People who are rich are inherently better than people who aren't. The fact that they have money entitles them to all the best things in life, and people who don't have money are either lazy or stupid and I say fuck them."

Ludicrous, no?
If we didn't use a progressive tax we wouldn't be able to afford to run the country. That seems a pretty strong argument to me.
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Old 02-17-2004, 11:33 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dostoevsky


Well first, Bill Gates has revolutionized computer software and deserves every penny he ever made. Ideas are normally more valuable than physical labor.
http://www.quuxuum.org/~evan/bgnw.html#Accumulate
This chart details how much money bill gates makes during a given period of time. It was calculated by dividing the wealth he has accumulated since microsoft went public by a given unit of time.
In the average second, bill gates makes $57.19.
He deserves every penny made? Why? Because the market allows it? Is there ever a point where someone's compensation becomes greater than what befits their benefit to society? Windows is a milestone for computers, but has it really had a greater impact than say, the discovery of a polio vaccine? I guess if the market says its okay, then we need not think anymore about it.

Quote:
2. If you have a job, you can thank someone smarter than you who figured out a way to compete successfully in a market and create your job. Also, the market dictates what labor is worth. If you don't like your wage than you should develop more valuable skills.
Oooh yeah, let the free market handle it... AKA screw the poor. If you can't think beyond the market's appraisals than you might as well be a robot. (Is that why MBA's are soon going to be worth less than the paper they are printed on?)

I don't have a problem with entrepeneurs and idea people. I have a problem with greedy capitalists who think that milking their workers of every last cent they can get away with is a justifiable act simply because the market allows it. Let's not forget the market's love for human slavery. It bothers me that people can be so quick to abandon any sense of ethics or morality and bow down before the magic 8-ball that is market analysis. The economy should serve all the people, not just the ones who can milk it.


How rich is gwb and is he smart enough to be your boss? How does the market account for his wealth?
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Old 02-17-2004, 12:10 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by filtherton
http://www.quuxuum.org/~evan/bgnw.html#Accumulate
Oooh yeah, let the free market handle it... AKA screw the poor. If you can't think beyond the market's appraisals than you might as well be a robot. (Is that why MBA's are soon going to be worth less than the paper they are printed on?)
So, taxes are supposed to "fix" the free market now? Perhaps Gates getting richer at the expense of his workers isn't the best example since many of them became multi millionaires.

Are taxes supposed to support government operations or are they just a means to redistribute wealth?
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Old 02-17-2004, 12:44 PM   #29 (permalink)
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I never said taxes are supposed to fix the free market. Although i guess in a way they already do(see corporate welfare and tariffs). Sorry, i went off on a little tangent. I think taxes should pay for government operations. Although since the market has proven consistently that it can't provide for everybody, maybe the goverment should play a role in making sure everybody has enough to survive.

PS.You're right that gates isn't the best example. Maybe a better example would be of sam walton, or rockerfeller.
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Old 02-17-2004, 02:31 PM   #30 (permalink)
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The topic hasn't really gone where I hoped it might, but such is the TFP.

The point I'm making is twofold: one, it's possible to work your ass off in this country and get nowhere. Lots of honest, hardworking people who try to play by the rules get screwed. Secondly, as good as our economy is, it has proven to be rather bad at distributing its products in a way that benefits everyone.

That's one of its greatest failures, among others. Don't pretend that capitalism is perfect. It's a good system, but it has problems. Economics has made a great deal of progress since Smith published in 1776.

Just to give one example, it might seem to make sense for the market to determine wage values (and to just do away with the minimum wage), but the worker has a great disadvantage in competing for a higher wage. The labor market has strong downward pressures on wages. Workers can't opt out as individuals. It's what we might call perfectly competitive; each "seller" of labor is unable to change the price. So, workers are forced to settle for lower wages than they would otherwise need or insist on, or that companies could otherwise afford.

In short, government or union intervention is necessary in the labor market to provide wages that are fair, and that aren't pushed to subsistence levels (subsistence in the sense that Ricardo talks about; clearly in the US this includes a cheap color tv and probably a cheap car). By fair I mean a fair share of the economic output of the nation. Most of the CEOs, such as Bill Gates, got their wealth because they owned large amounts of stock in the corporation from the beginning. They reap the rewards of their economic risk. However, over the last 50 years people in the highest levels of corporate management, many of whom aren't entrepreneurs who took economic risk, have been getting increasingly high wages that grow at increasingly high rates. Something in the market is causing the salary of executives to be bid higher. A cynic might say this is because they control the production, and choose to pay themselves higher wages. The current situation where CEOs tend not only to run the business but also tend to be on the board of directors reinforces this view.

I bring this up only to illustrate that the determination of wage is driven more by market forces that affect workers of different levels differently, and not so much by individuals, and that individuals, particularly those who are low payed, have very little power to insist on the wages they deserve.

====

The dialogue here seems to be on why we shouldn't have a libertarian style system. By libertarian, I mean a system with minimal government (roads, national defense, tax collection, law enforcement, other public works, and probably schools), a flat tax, and privatized social programs (supported by tax credits, if at all). Advocates of this view make the curious move of accusing supporters of anything else of being socialists. Further, they assert that socialist values have failed everywhere they have been tried. Here I wish to make a distinction between socialism and communism. Communism is based on the following principle, which I'm sure you've heard before: "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need." It sounds good in theory, but it produced spectacularly bad economic results in Russia. Socialism, on the other hand, is a system with relatively high tax rates, public ownership of many services, and a limited free market. Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and to a lesser extent other continental European countries use this system, with satisfactory results. I'm not going to argue with anyone who says that communism doesn't work. It doesn't, though it makes some sense on paper (and without hindsight; throughout most of the Cold War we had no idea that communism was that bad economically.)

So, where does that get us as far as this argument goes? I hope I have showed that socialism isn't an insult, though I don't think we ought to have a socialistic system. It's not an either or decision. It's better to think of it as a continuum:

Libertarian ============================== Socialist

Right now, we're left of center, but we might benefit from a slight shift to the right. It would be little more than a realignment of sorts to correct some of the problems that a total free market has.

Finally, I want to take a moment to defend the progressive tax, and to point out that the tax system in America really isn't progressive at all. The only major progressive tax we have is the graduated income tax (and the per child tax credit, though it affects the income tax). Most other taxes are regressive. The sales tax, car registration, most "sin" taxes (tobacco, alcohol), and payroll taxes hit middle and lower class Americans more heavily than the progressive taxes do.

The end result of the combined state, local, and federal taxes is a tax system that takes relatively equal aggregate percentages from everyone.

Why is a progressive tax desireable? One, it provides an economic buffer that stabilizes the economy. During a recession, if wages decline, tax rates decline faster than the wages do, thus reducing the impact and the relative suffering as a result. Second, it preserves an incentive to make more money. Even though people whose wages grow have to play increasing percentages to the government, they still make more money. No well paid person (making say $250k a year) would turn down a pay raise just because he had to pay a 45% marginal tax rate on it. Third, it reinforces social mobility. It becomes easier to enter the middle class. The money raised can fund good schools, good early health care, and job training programs. Fourth, it counteracts the tendency in the free market for the rich to get richer and the poor to stay poor. Wealth can be redistributed in a more fair way.

Sure, taxation is theft, but just as there are justifications for murder, there are times when taxation is justified. Capitalism is unable to distribute GDP fairly. It is quite good at making the GDP number large, and at making it grow quickly. That's why we use capitalism. It's better to be capitalist, and use the government to rearrange the GDP in a way that benefits everyone than it is to have the government run everything. We're not talking about taxing the rich and writing checks to the poor. In a sense, the progressive tax does this indirectly. What we are doing is using a progressive tax to help out poor and middle class Americans. They get government services worth more than they pay out in taxes. The higher levels of income that rich people earn are taxed at higher marginal rates, but they reap the benefits of a well educated and healthy work force. They reap the benefits of a strong rule of law that protects their property, wealth, and business.

All for now. It's long, and I don't have time to edit thoroughly. I apologize in advance for fragmentary sentences, misspelled words, and perhaps some cloudy points.
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Old 02-17-2004, 02:34 PM   #31 (permalink)
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See nanofever, that attitude is the problem. Why do you feel that you are entitled to have the incomes of the wealthy redistributed to you and other members of society? Did you earn it? No, they did.
Do you think the super-rich's income is anywhere near what they contribute to society or how hard they work? If anything you are making a case for weath redistribution by talking about entitlement.

Quote:
Originally posted by Dostoevsky
You have the same opportunity to work hard and advance yourself in society as the wealthy do. Remember someone in that wealthy family earned a shitload of money through old fashioned American virtues like hard work, discipline, and innovation. Oh that's right, we don't want to do that shit anymore, let's just tax the people who actually earned the money the hard way.
Are you on drugs? I'm serious, how do you see a person who goes to a poor inner-city high school as having the same opprotunity as a person who goes to an elite prep school? Look at some studies, the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor.

You keep making the case for weath redistribution by bringing phrases like "hard work" into the discussion, something the super-rich know nothing of.

Quote:
Originally posted by Dostoevsky
Give me a break, when did we become such a pathetic society? Why do we feel like other people owe us just because they became financially successful? Everyone in society should pull their own weight.
I agree everyone in society everyone should pull their own weight which for me means weath distribution to make the weight pulling equal.

Real life isn't a Horatio Alger story and it saddens me to think that some people believe that it is.
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Old 02-17-2004, 09:08 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Scipio, although I don't agree with all of your points, I certainly appreciate the well thought out, articulate points you have presented. Even though we don't see eye to eye it is obvious that you have a pretty firm grasp on economics. I would enjoy discussing the finer points of economics with you in person.

There are some other members participating in this thread that should really learn a little about economics before developing and presenting such strong opinions. Then, even if we disagree, I will respect your opinion like I do Scipio's. Some of the arguements and examples presented in this thread are light on economic theory and heavy on opinion. Since it doesn't appear either side is making progress here, I'll see you all around.
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Old 02-17-2004, 09:19 PM   #33 (permalink)
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Personally I'd like to ask you - where do you yourself fall in the income range?

And be honest for I will - I came from a pretty well-off background. But even then that would just illustrate the point - no one but those acknowledged to be at the top 10% want to admit they are there - everyone considers themselves the middle class.
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Old 02-17-2004, 10:12 PM   #34 (permalink)
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Typically, when people are asked which class they belong to, 10% say lower class, 10% say upper class, and 80% say middle class.
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Old 02-17-2004, 11:02 PM   #35 (permalink)
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Typically, when people are asked which class they belong to, 10% say lower class, 10% say upper class, and 80% say middle class.
And the question becomes is class decided by the amount of money made or the way the money is made ?
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Old 02-17-2004, 11:18 PM   #36 (permalink)
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http://advancement.uark.edu/pubs/Res...eature3.6.html

Class is a rather broad idea. Depending on what level of analysis you look at, there are any number of identifiable cultures in the country. There are commercial agencies that keep databases of the various commercial cultures that make up the US. If you want to sell titanium golf clubs, they can pinpoint 1 or 2 or 3 of the 40 some-odd sub-cultures (or however many) they have identified in the country, determine what tv shows they like to watch, and push your product in that time slot. These cultures are things like urban gays, who are more likely to consume expensive wine, or rural white men, who drive pick-up trucks, drink bud light, and who are more likely to buy work boots. I always found this kind of consumer research interesting.

But we're talking about economic class, aren't we? Surely a difference in means of money acquisition isn't a huge deal, though occupation is an important determining factor (or is it an indicating factor!) of culture.

Suppose we fix a variable. A cheap lawyer, making $70,000 a year, and a civil engineer making about $65,000 a year are in similar classes. Both are educated and live comfortably, however, the social life of the attorney is probably rather different. There are differences in temperament and interest that drive the choice of profession.

Suppose the attorney is a blue chip ivy league graduate in a big firm making $350,000. Compared to the civil engineer, he's in a rather different class.

Then again, perhaps its means as in salary vs inheritance vs investment vs starting a business. We then would have an engineer, a rich kid, an investor, and a small business owner. Culturally, we are slow to respect the rich kid, as he didn't earn his money. We question the investor, as he might have made his money by "working the system." (though the "day-trader" took on near mythical status in the late 90s) We respect the engineer for choosing a safe life, playing by the rules, and profiting from it. We honor the businessman for taking calculated risks and getting rich doing it (hopefully).

I don't know. It's a slippery concept, and I don't know that it demonstrates anything worthwhile.
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