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Poverty in America

By FFFish in Culture
Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 09:32:13 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

Nearly half of America's wealth is in Bill Gate's fortune. The top 1% of the wealthy have 95% of the money. And to add salt to the injury, America -- with one fifth the population -- has twenty-five percent more people in jail than China. Read on for some truly shocking and paradigm-shifting statistics: life in America ain't all it's cracked up to be.


From Prorev: Some of the interesting facts that Ralph Nader repeatedly calls to his audiences attention also cuts through such myths of economic prosperity and should provide additional serious thought to the nation's voters. Among the figures that he cities are:

* The top one percent of the richest Americans have wealth equal to the combined wealth of 95%of other Americans: "It used to be said a rising economic tide lifts all boats. Now a rising economic tide lifts all yachts."

* Twenty percent of American children live in poverty; in the Netherlands that figure is three percent.

* The minimum wage today is lower, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than in 1979.

* Today's worker works 160 hours longer per year than 25 years ago.

* Bill Gates' wealth equals the combined wealth of the poorest 120 million Americans, or 45% of our population. "This is a failure of the political system to defend the people."

* Less than one in ten workers belongs to a trade union in the private sector.

* Two million Americans are in prisons, 500,000 more than in communist China, which has a 1.3 billion population.

* Forty-seven million people work for less than $10 an hour --- this in a decade of sustained economic growth. "With a wage like that, people can't be considered employed despite the fact that they have jobs."

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Display: Sort:
Poverty in America | 241 comments (221 topical, 20 editorial, 0 hidden)
Poor poor (1.00 / 6) (#6)
by sallgeud on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 11:11:08 PM EST

Sounds like someone is sad that they're not a member of the top 1%.

s/sad/jealous/

Your stats are misleading (3.18 / 16) (#9)
by wildmage on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 11:43:05 PM EST

I voted you up because I think you need to be refuted.

* The top one percent of the richest Americans have wealth equal to the combined wealth of 95%of other Americans:
"It used to be said a rising economic tide lifts all boats. Now a rising economic tide lifts all yachts."

No argument.

* Twenty percent of American children live in poverty; in the Netherlands that figure is three percent.

I suspect a great deal of this figure has to do with the large amount of new immigration in this country. I agree its a
problem, but I don't think its fair to use this stat to show that things are getting worse.

* The minimum wage today is lower, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than in 1979.

I agree. Minimum wage is not a living wage. That's why its often called minimum.

* Today's worker works 160 hours longer per year than 25 years ago.

Yet again, I suspect new immigration. These new immigrants are picking up the slack that us lazy as natives don't want
to do anymore. Most of these people are living in far better conditions now than the ones they left.

* Bill Gates' wealth equals the combined wealth of the poorest 120 million Americans, or 45% of our population. "This
is a failure of the political system to defend the people."

Sure, I think Bill Gates is an ass, but I don't blame the government for his success. In fact, if the government stepped in
and grabbed Bill's wealth and systematically distributed it to the poorest of our country, I would think this would be the
quickest way to drive your economy into the ground. Wealth doesn't just magically appear, there's a great deal of work
that creates it, and if the motivation to create wealth no longer exists, we'll end up being a stagnant society. You can
debate whether being stagnant is utopian or not. Plato thought it was good. I think its bad.

* Less than one in ten workers belongs to a trade union in the private sector.

2 reasons. 1. Immigrants again. They are in the process of unionizing themselves. 2. Many people have left the unions
because they aren't necessary in a lot of areas. In fact I oppose a good deal of their agendas. Like trying to keep jobs in
America? This sounded good in the 80's, but now I just think its selfish and good way to slow our collective growth.

* Two million Americans are in prisons, 500,000 more than in communist China, which has a 1.3 billion population.

First off your comparisons of the number of people in jail is unfounded and misleading. Where did you get the number of
people in jail in China? From the Chinese government no doubt, who are notorious for telling people what they think
they need to hear. China believes in either quick executions of big troublemakers or a short term torture session before
they are returned back to society. Jailing citizens costs them money and they look for shortcuts whenever they can. In
the US we tend to put our criminals in long term incubation. I think I'd rather spend 5 years in prison rather than be
tortured for a week.


You go on quoting statistics about the distribution of wealth in this country and show that they are very uneven. What
the hell do you want? Communism? Socialism? Sure why not, 50% taxes with full state paid health care, social security,
education, and mandatory 6 weeks of vacation a year. Hell, we can all be a nation of ditch diggers with no motivation to
improve ourselves. :P

I tend to be very optimistic about this country. Think to yourself, it could be worse. And it has been. We now have
considerable civil rights, opportunities, and healthier lives. Exactly what our parents hoped we would one day have.

This is my main beef with Leftists: their arguments are usually stats, personal accounts, and passion. This is great to
make people feel guilty, but I think more people would be inclined to support you if your arguments were more
rationale. Really, I'd like to support you, but I can never figure out what your foundation is. What are you trying to
accomplish and how to do you plan on doing it? What are the consequences? Has this been done before?

I'd love to go more indepth about social issues if anybody wants to. I consider it a challenging hobby.

--Wildmage

-------------
Jacob Everist
Memoirs of a Mad Scientist
Near-Earth Asteroid Mining

Re: Your stats are misleading (4.50 / 2) (#14)
by Dacta on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 01:33:20 AM EST

This is my main beef with Leftists: their arguments are usually stats, personal accounts, and passion. This is great to make people feel guilty, but I think more people would be inclined to support you if your arguments were more rationale.

More rationale?!?! What do you call stats?

What exactly do you want in argument? "Stats, personal accounts and passion" sounds like a pretty valid way of arguing a point to me.

[ Parent ]

Re: Your stats are misleading (none / 0) (#17)
by thelaw on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 02:17:42 AM EST

using percentages is a really easy way to get away with a point that you shouldn't be making, logically. talking about two countries with vastly different penalties for crimes, views on tolerance, etc. as though they're exactly the same -- which is what using percentages implies -- is ridiculous. there is no way to compare a totalitarian regime like china, where they execute people for breaking into a computer, with the u.s., where they only execute convicted "murderers." (note: i am not defending the u.s. death penalty policy; i am, however, defending the u.s.'s attitude toward punishment with respect to that of china's. at least we don't consider starting a cult to be a prosecutable offense.)

probably a better way to put it would be "misleading stats".

jon

[ Parent ]
Re: Your stats are misleading (4.00 / 1) (#100)
by KindBud on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 02:08:09 PM EST

i am, however, defending the u.s.'s attitude toward punishment with respect to that of china's. at least we don't consider starting a cult to be a prosecutable offense.)

The Branch Davidians might disagree with you on this point.

--
just roll a fatty

[ Parent ]

Re: Your stats are misleading (none / 0) (#107)
by pretzelgod on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 02:56:04 PM EST

Not to mention MOVE.

MOVE was an organization founded in Philadelphia by John Africa. MOVE is not an acronym, but rather a reminder of the way life is: always on the move. MOVE professed the religion of life, which has only one commandment: Revere all life. While i don't agree with MOVE on a lot of issues, it is that same commandment that rules my life.

Apparently, the Philadelphia police department didn't follow that commandment. They murdered many members of MOVE, including children.


-- 
Ever heard of the School of the Americas?


[ Parent ]
Re: Your stats are misleading (5.00 / 1) (#135)
by CodeWright on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 07:58:23 PM EST

Well, you know, the MOVE people were saying dangerous things like "revere life", or "be responsible for yourself".

You know, stuff that makes you think?

It's a good thing that the stormtroopers showed up to shoot at 'em, because otherwise, the infection might have spread, and, in no time, even blixco wouldn't want to line people up against walls and shoot them!

for those who are sarcasm impaired, the preceding was sarcastic.



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Re: Your stats are misleading (none / 0) (#209)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 08:37:05 AM EST

"there is no way to compare a totalitarian regime like china, where they execute people for breaking into a computer, with the u.s., where they only execute convicted "murderers.""

I think the point here was that China is a much worse society concerning human rights than the US, and yet we incarcerate a higher percentage of our population. Get it?



[ Parent ]
Re: Your stats are misleading (2.33 / 3) (#19)
by Cryptnotic on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 03:02:03 AM EST

It's like Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) used to say, "There are three kinds of lies in the world: lies, damned lies, and statistics."



[ Parent ]

Re: Your stats are misleading (4.00 / 1) (#30)
by oconnoje on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 09:38:45 AM EST

"87.3% of all statistics are made up on the spot"
--
KTHXBYE
[ Parent ]
Re: Your stats are misleading (2.50 / 2) (#21)
by RedGuard on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 04:14:25 AM EST

I think what the original poster was asking for was
what leftists intended to do about the problems their
statistics highlight, rationale as opposed to rational.
As far as I could tell from his website, Ralph Nader
wants to go back to a pre-corporate age of free competition. Of course, it hardly needs saying that
if things are bad now they were a lot worse prior to
the growth of monopolies.



[ Parent ]
Re: Your stats are misleading (none / 0) (#148)
by Perpetual Newbie on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 12:29:52 AM EST

Of course, it hardly needs saying that if things are bad now they were a lot worse prior to the growth of monopolies.

Apparently it does need saying, for I have never heard that argument before. Explain your point.

[ Parent ]

Re: Your stats are misleading (none / 0) (#171)
by RedGuard on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 01:27:58 PM EST

So when do you place the golden age of competitive capitalism? The 1960s, when GE was filling the Hudson with PCBs? The 1930s, when Chase was banking with Nazis? Or the 1890s, when Carnegie's Pinkertons shot strikers? Was it the 1850s, when British industrialists kidnapped children to work in their factories, and when the locally owned bakeries of London worked their staffs up to 20 hours a day to produce bread fortified with, in the words of a contemporary, "a certain quantity of human perspiration mixed with the discharge of abscesses, cobwebs, dead cockroaches and putrid German yeast, not to mention alum, sand and other agreeable mineral ingredients"?



[ Parent ]
Re: Your stats are misleading (none / 0) (#181)
by Perpetual Newbie on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 10:41:33 PM EST

Of course, it hardly needs saying that if things are bad now they were a lot worse prior to the growth of monopolies.

--
Apparently it does need saying, for I have never heard that argument before. Explain your point.

--
So when do you place the golden age of competitive capitalism? The 1960s, when GE was filling the Hudson with PCBs? The 1930s, when Chase was banking with Nazis? Or the 1890s, when Carnegie's Pinkertons shot strikers? Was it the 1850s, when British industrialists kidnapped children to work in their factories, and when the locally owned bakeries of London worked their staffs up to 20 hours a day to produce bread fortified with, in the words of a contemporary, "a certain quantity of human perspiration mixed with the discharge of abscesses, cobwebs, dead cockroaches and putrid German yeast, not to mention alum, sand and other agreeable mineral ingredients"?

Is it then the will of the monopolists that we no longer have these despicable things? To my knowledge, it was the Government that decided these things were not desirable, and chose to legislate them out of existance. Monopolies might have made the task easier, as it is easier to regulate a few bodies than a few thousand, along with the task being more palatable to the people after the abuses the monopolies made upon them. But the horrors you described above are favourable to a monopoly or any other business as they translate into lower costs, so I do not believe the Monopolies themselves are the ones to thank for our cultural advancement.

I don't believe there ever was a golden age of competitive capitalism. The closest thing we've had is the time from WWII to the present day, which has been a combination of socialism and mixed-market capitalism(often considered the same thing).

[ Parent ]

Re: Your stats are misleading (none / 0) (#190)
by RedGuard on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 09:18:25 AM EST

I'd agree with you that monopolies aren't necessarily any
better, but the argument that I've always heard
from environmentalists/antiglobalisers (of whom Ralph
Nader is probably the electoral wing) is that
monopolies (corporations) are the problem rather than say
the organisation of production generally. A brief glance
at history suggests this isn't the case, in fact a highly
competitive enivronment is worse. Not to mention the obvious
difficulty of complex production (e.g. of computers)
without large organisations.

[ Parent ]
Try throwing more logical rigor into the mix. (3.00 / 1) (#26)
by marlowe on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 08:38:11 AM EST

Just a suggestion.
-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Re: Your stats are misleading (4.50 / 2) (#31)
by tarcus on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 09:44:20 AM EST

Yeah, that's right, blame it all on Immigrants. After all no other country in the world has immigrants other than the U.S.! Your post was no surprise to me. Bad news is often blamed on outsiders.

[ Parent ]
Re: Your stats are misleading (none / 0) (#65)
by davidduncanscott on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 12:02:02 PM EST

I'm not sure that any other country has as many immigrants as the US, or who come as far to get here, or who've been doing so for as long. Just out of curiousity (and I really don't know, myself, but I'm hoping somebody here does), when those figures are compiled for European countries (you know, "95% of Germans are entitled to free cosmetic surgery during their 6 weeks of paid vacation each quarter" or whatever), do they include the "guest workers" (lovely phrase, that)?

I think it might also be worth considering the reality of Bill Gate's "wealth". Most of what he has is stock, meta-money, which has a market value on any given day. It can lose (or acquire) that value in a heartbeat. It's not, for instance, cattle or land or anything else concrete. He can't eat it, touch it, smell it, or clean the floor with it, and it could evaporate tommorrow (in fact, the quickest way to destroy his wealth would be if he tried to realize it -- "Gates Sells Out Microsoft Holdings -- Values Crash to Pennies Per Share!!").

Personally, I don't especially care if he holds 45% of the wealth, or holds more than 45% of us, or whatever. What matters is how people live.

If you'd like to discuss things like life expectancy among the poor, then we'll be looking at real issues. If people are dying sooner, or infant mortality is rising, then I agree we're sliding backwards.

Consider: an indentured servant of the Colonial period owned his clothes, while his employer owned his clothes and some land. The gap between the two is probably smaller than the gap between Bill Gates and a Microsoft janitor. Does that mean that the janitor has a lower quality of life than an 18th century farmhand? I don't think so, and I don't think either of the workers would either.

Could it all be better? Sure. Will it get better? Probably. It has so far, anyway. Armed revolution? I kind of think there's too much shooting in our cities now.

[ Parent ]

Re: Your stats are misleading (1.00 / 1) (#33)
by WeeMadArthur on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 10:11:38 AM EST

Are you Pat Buchanan?

[ Parent ]
Re: Your stats are misleading (3.00 / 1) (#37)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 10:35:53 AM EST

Brilliant. A decisive retort. Your scintillating wit hath dazzled us all.</sarcasm>

No, really - that was a pretty good ad hominem attack. Designed to acquire a quick laugh, no doubt. Unfortunately, it does not enhance your argumentative reputation. Please refrain from using fallacies in place of actual arguments.

[ Parent ]
Re: Your stats are misleading (none / 0) (#68)
by WeeMadArthur on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 12:15:45 PM EST

Sorry bout that. It was the first thing I thought of. You gotta admit blaming it all on the immigrants does sound like Pat Buchanan.

Next time I shall refrain from posting without thinking.

Have a nice day.

[ Parent ]
Re: Your stats are misleading (none / 0) (#73)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 12:31:34 PM EST

You gotta admit blaming it all on the immigrants does sound like Pat Buchanan.

But is this an unreasonable position to take? Look who is on welfare. Look who will work for next to nothing. Yes, the immigrants.

Of course anyone who speaks openly on this topic is labelled a racist[1] -- just shows how deeply entrenched "political correctness" aka "thought policing" is in this country.

1. Which is ridiculous, since immigrants can be of any race, including white!

[ Parent ]

Not just anyone. Only white people can be racists. (1.00 / 1) (#127)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 06:21:03 PM EST

That's the entire premise of Affirmative Action: the whites are instinctively gonna fuck you, so we have to intervene. And it's gettin so a body can't even *be* white anymore without being suspected or accused of that shit on a regular basis.

Also, whites are the only ones not allowed to claim that they belong to a race. When they do, they are called 'racists' (with an extra sneer, not just the regular one), 'Nazis', 'the Man', etc. Hell, it's even a federal offense to publicly claim status as a member of the white race, according to all the hate crime legislation.

Go ahead, try it. Call yourself 'a member of the white race' in public, and see how fast you're spit on. Or shot. Or give any Louis Farrakhan speech and replace 'black' with 'white' and see how fast you're labelled a racist. Scary, huh?

[ Parent ]
Re: Not just anyone. Only white people can be raci (none / 0) (#149)
by Perpetual Newbie on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 12:36:59 AM EST

Call yourself 'a member of the white race' in public, and see how fast you're spit on. Or shot.

When the phrase "The White Race" has become a synonym for "Racist Whites Who Think Minorities Should Be Shot On Sight" in the popular lexicon, then that is to be expected. Call yourself a hacker in front of a bunch of mainstream journalists, the same thing happens.

Or give any Louis Farrakhan speech and replace 'black' with 'white' and see how fast you're labelled a racist. Scary, huh?

Where I'm from, Louis Farrakhan is considered one of the most vile hate-spewing racists in the country.

[ Parent ]

Wildmage's view.. (none / 0) (#36)
by driph on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 10:28:51 AM EST

(offhand, I don't think he was bashing on immigrants at all, he was just stating that they potentially raise the numbers....not a bad thing, not much you can do to assemble instant wealth after just making a fresh start).

I love this kind of discussion... Wildmage, this is something you obviously take a good deal of interest in, what do you feel are the primary social issues we should be looking at? What is your point of view?

--
Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
[ Parent ]
Re: Wildmage's view.. (none / 0) (#224)
by wildmage on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 01:05:15 AM EST

Gosh, I barely remember what we were talking about :P

I didn't get to read any of this before K5 went down. Maybe I'll try to revive this subject at a later date. I think its definitely worth talking about for the mutual benefit of all us.

-------------
Jacob Everist
Memoirs of a Mad Scientist
Near-Earth Asteroid Mining

[ Parent ]

Re: Your stats are misleading (2.40 / 5) (#40)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 10:42:00 AM EST

So you think 5 years in jail in the US is not torture?

You are stupid:
You will be homosexually molested.
You will be forced into slave labor.
You will be (possibly) killed to provide donor organs if you are healthy
You will be forced to join a racist survival gang.
You will be exposed to narcotics.

After you are released:
You will be branded as a career criminal
You wil not be allowed to rejoin normal society & get a job.
You will be pushed into a life of crime
You will be presumed guilty whnever accused of anything.

These happed when you go to jail in the USA.
Especially if you are innocent

[ Parent ]
One "leftist's" POV (3.00 / 3) (#41)
by hal on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 10:43:24 AM EST

I suspect a great deal of this figure has to do with the large amount of new immigration in this country. I agree its a problem, but I don't think its fair to use this stat to show that things are getting worse.

I live in Center City Philadelphia, PA. The poverty I see every day has very little to do with immigration. It's right here, our own. The same is true for Baltimore, MD and Richmond, VA. I'll keep my mouth shut about other places because I don't know, but I suspect much of the same.
Sure, the poverty rate is affected by the US's semi-open policy towards immigration. But I don't think it's fair to pass it off by saying "Most of these people are living in far better conditions now than the ones they left." (a fact which - though it *may* be true - you pulled out of your ass anyway). The reason for our high immigration rates is because the US is supposed to provide new opportunities and a better life. I personally don't see much truth in that. Our education system is in shambles and *should* be modified right away.
Now I hear news that Bush Jr. will be continuing the Star Wars project (or "The Empire Strikes Back" as I like to call it). What this says to me is that it's okay to spend billions for a half-brained crock of an idea in space, while +/- 20% of your population is in poverty. To me that seems quite ludicrous and it's extremely saddening.

Apparently, it's easy to have this sort of disregard for others who need help when you're sitting on top of it all.

So now to answer your three magical questions which will tell you what kind of foundation I have...(?)

What are you trying to accomplish and how to do you plan on doing it?
I would like to see America become less of a corporate-ruled country. I think Capitalism has gone too far and something needs to be done about it. I plan on accomplishing that (and am currently doing my part) by:
1. Not contributing to it (e.g. well-placed boycotts, not working in corporate environments...),
2. Speaking out against it (e.g. peaceful protesting, handing out factual literature, RNC 2000 in my current hometown :) )
3. Voting for a non-Republicrat (e.g. Nader and the Green Party)

What are the consequences?
The consequence relevant to this discussion (and in my perfect world) is that America's wealth is evened out to some degree.

Has this been done before?
Yes, unfortunately these not any big chunck of land in the Atlantic that people who think like me can go to and kill off the natives and take over :).
It happens all the time, yet somehow, nothing ever changes in the big picture.
-- Look out honey, 'cause I'm using technology; Ain't got time to make no apology
[ Parent ]
Re: One "leftist's" POV (none / 0) (#70)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 12:25:00 PM EST

What this says to me is that it's okay to spend billions for a half-brained crock of an idea in space, while +/- 20% of your population is in poverty. To me that seems quite ludicrous and it's extremely saddening.

Not to sound harsh, but there are ALWAYS going to be a 10% or so who can't cope with society. Either because they are stupid, lazy, selfish, or a thousand other reasons. You can give them all the money and help they need, but they'll still end up shooting people, on drugs, and unemployed. I don't think we can realistically expect every person born to be basically a "good" person. If you look through history there was no time we didn't have an 'underclass' of some sort.

The fact is that anyone who works hard can have a semi-decent life in this country.. especially those minorities who fill affirmative action quotas.. they don't even have to be qualified.

You can call me a cynic, but I prefer realist. :-)

[ Parent ]

Re: Ishmael (none / 0) (#129)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 06:55:42 PM EST

Exactly, we should be working to contain our population explosion so as not to expand that percentage of people who rely on society to take care of them.

augi

[ Parent ]
Re: Ishmael (none / 0) (#210)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 08:45:25 AM EST

You mean we should actually stop the massive Corporate Welfare system? We should make the Pentagon stop funding corporate mergers? We should stop funding pharmaceutical research with tax money so the drug companies can make higher profits than any other industry? You, sir, are hardly an American! Or maybe you're just uninformed, in which case I can hardly blame you for holding such an opinion. It's not like you're going hear any of these things from NBC(owned by GE, defense contractor) or ABC (owned by Westinghouse, defense contractor).

[ Parent ]
Re: One "leftist's" POV (none / 0) (#208)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 08:32:19 AM EST

"If you look through history there was no time we didn't have an 'underclass' of some sort."

Which begs the question why? Created or fact of life? If created, how can it be un-created. If fact of life, how can it be mitigated. Is it worth ten percent of the nation's wealth to keep them from "shooting people, on drugs?" Drug users only shoot people when they have to steal to support their habits. Treat this as a medical problem rather than as a criminal problem and the shooting pretty much goes away. And supplying drugs via MD's is cheaper than having a bunch of criminals stealing to support their habits.

" . . . especially those minorities who fill affirmative action quotas.. they don't even have to be qualified."

This is almost not worthy of response, but since I've heard the same thing in my place of employment, I'll say something. (FYI, I'm a white guy) I know far more white people (as a percentage) in my place of employment who are marginally qualified or un-qualified than minorities. What you said is simply not true.



[ Parent ]
You're in the trap. (3.00 / 1) (#47)
by pwhysall on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:08:48 AM EST

"Think to yourself, it could be worse."

Oh, sure, it could be worse. But that's such lazy thinking it's not funny.

You should never think "it could be worse". You should think instead "it should and could be better".

Believe me, the corporatists who run your country (do you really think the politicians are in control?) want you to think like this. You're not a problem to them when you're thinking like this - but if you start demanding more, then all of a sudden you're no longer part of the solution.

I live in the UK and although our political system is antiquated, biased, nonsensical at times and downright infuriating at others, at least I can sleep at night knowing that in large part the corporatists haven't gotten their claws in. Yet.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Re: You're in the trap. (none / 0) (#98)
by KindBud on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 02:04:50 PM EST

I live in the UK and although our political system is antiquated, biased, nonsensical at times and downright infuriating at others, at least I can sleep at night knowing that in large part the corporatists haven't gotten their claws in. Yet.

Maybe that's exactly what they want you to think. It's possible they have been more successful in the UK than in the states.

--
just roll a fatty

[ Parent ]

Re: You're in the trap. (none / 0) (#223)
by crizh on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 10:14:58 AM EST

You're right its not visible here cos its just more entrenched.

Two words that make me want to puke 'lobbyist' and 'whip'.

Is it just my fundamental lack of understanding or congenital insanity but surely in a democracy an attempt to influence the way an elected representative votes is a fundamental corruption of the ideals of democracy.


I vote for a man (or woman [or reasonable facsimile of either]) to represent me in Parliament. I voted for that individual because I believed he/she/it would vote roughly the same way I would on the majority of issues and is experienced enough to make the right choice on issues I know nothing about.


So I don't expect to find industry lobbyists (or party whips doing the dirty work of behind the scenes industry lobbyists) bribing, bullying or in any other way attempting to coerce 'MY' representive into representing them instead of the citizens that he/her/it is merely a 'proxy' for.

Those of us lucky enough to live in democracy's live in countries where our constitutions were crafted by indiviual idealists, men of stature, heroes in each of our cultures.

I challenge you to name a single elected representative in your country whose name does not pale into insignificance compared to the signatures on the American Declaration of Independance.

I personally cannot imagine a single signatory of that famous document who is not spinning in their grave (or urn) with utter disgust and contempt for the way their ideals have been corrupted.

I mean really what a fantastic system, I vote for the local member of the political party with the best PR and for the duration of their term in office they do exactly as their told by the best funded lobbyists.

Here's a money saving idea, just stop producing policy documents and policy adverts and policy debates etc etc etc etc etc etc, cos we all know that as soon as their in office all that policy goes out the window, and we should all just vote for the political party with the coolest logo. Or better yet we could just vote for our favorite corporation and the most popular 100 can run the country and do whatever they please.

Rant, sorry.

My point is that when we are all about 12, and still naive, we are taught what a democracy is and how wonderful they are, and from that point on every time we hear the word we get a sudden surge of patriotism and we feel fantastic, which blinds us to the stark fact that what those in power call a democracy just plainly is not.

The plain fact is that although the people choose who should make the decisions, the lobbyists decide what decisions they should make.

The people choose the cast but the lobbyists write the script.

Personally I favour aristocracy (meaning government by the those best qualified to govern)

Perhaps, like regular elections, regular constitutional review (by the electorate) should be mandatory.

Danger Newbie (please do not flame, rather educate)
[ Parent ]
Re: You're in the trap. (none / 0) (#233)
by CodeWright on Thu Sep 21, 2000 at 07:34:25 PM EST

My point is that when we are all about 12, and still naive, we are taught what a democracy is and how wonderful they are, and from that point on every time we hear the word we get a sudden surge of patriotism and we feel fantastic, which blinds us to the stark fact that what those in power call a democracy just plainly is not.

Having lived in the communist democracy of the Former Soviet Union, and the fascist democracy of the United States, I would have to agree.

Personally I favour aristocracy (meaning government by the those best qualified to govern)

Ever notice how quickly the world's democracies (communist or fascist) immediately attack nascent aristocratic countries with both info-war and real-war?



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Wealth redistribution? (3.00 / 2) (#50)
by WattsMartin on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:26:29 AM EST

When these statistics are bandied about, I often see responses which are variants of one contained in here--essentially, "You shouldn't just have the government come in and play Robin Hood."

I'd agree with that, but I think it misses the point the people bandying about the statistics are trying to make. The inequality has been widening sharply over the last several decades because of conscious policy changes which have shifted taxation from corporations and the highest income brackets to lower and middle-class taxpayers. The question isn't about forcing the rich to give their money to the homeless--it's about whether or not those policy changes should be rolled back.

Supporting more progressive tax structures isn't fashionable these days--but if we look at the first half of this century I don't think we can say that they're such a burden that millionaire business magnates would become a thing of the past. At the very least, we could consider closing loopholes which allow people making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year--and corporations making hundreds of millions of dollars annually--to pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes than someone making $20,000 a year.

[ Parent ]

Re: Wealth redistribution? (3.00 / 1) (#58)
by finkployd on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:46:28 AM EST

I'm curious, do you support the idea of eliminating all the tax codes (and loopholes) and going with a flat tax? I go back and forth on that issue (as I learn more) but lately I've been thinking that it sould solve many problems.

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
Re: Wealth redistribution? (none / 0) (#225)
by meatpuppet on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 03:21:19 PM EST

Uh-uh. Progressive is THE way to go. It's only fair- if you make more money, you can afford to pay more taxes. The Communist Party USA advocates what I consider the best tax plan; make up to $65K/year and pay 0 income taxes, and it progresses up to 90% for people making over $50 mil. Now, the argument is that a plan like that exploits the weatlhy, but the problem with that arugment is that the wealthy people almost invariably got that money by exploiting their own workers. This tax plan just returns it to them in the form of government services (which, under the CPUSA, would be drastically different- 30% of the budget for education, government grants for housing, something like 10% for the military... stuff I like, YMMV).

[ Parent ]
Re: Wealth redistribution? (none / 0) (#234)
by CodeWright on Thu Sep 21, 2000 at 07:37:25 PM EST

With a tax plan like that, at some point the advantages of living in the United States are outweighed by the rapacious level of taxation -- which means that the wealthiest (most productive) members of society will just relocate elsewhere (or, more realistically, do what they have done here -- lobby [read: bribe] the congress-critters to give them special "loopholes" so that they pay practically no tax -- leaving only the middle classes burdened with the oppressive tax -> TANJ).



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Re: Wealth redistribution? (none / 0) (#239)
by meatpuppet on Fri Sep 29, 2000 at 03:18:41 PM EST

Taxes are far higher in Europe and Canada than here in the US. Other countries take much more income taxes, and yet you don't see companies like Corel ditching out of Canada. Not that your point isn't valid; more, it illustrates the need for global reform, not just national. Capitalism isn't just a problem in the US; it stands to destroy a huge part of Africa, it's keeping countries in Eastern Europe poor after they were forced to regress towards capitalism, and it's destroying farming communities in India that had subustied for thousands of years before the intervention of global imperialism. Again, I don't think there will be a need for violent revolution. I think a strong, steady progressive movement of mobilized workers acting on a local level towards a global goal can and will stop the exploitation and mass murder of the billions of people subjected to the rule of the few. I see it as a necessary movement, and I'm beginning to truly believe that I'll see at least the beginning of it in my lifetime.

[ Parent ]
Re: Wealth redistribution? (none / 0) (#241)
by CodeWright on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 10:10:34 AM EST

HA!

The people who leave will go to countries where they can earn money in peace. "Global" efforts by Europe or the USA would be too costly -- because the only way to enforce it is militarily, and lots of places will be unwilling to accept military enforced communism. Even though the USA has fallen to the communist hordes, other places won't.



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Re: Your stats are misleading (4.80 / 4) (#55)
by ishbak on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:34:19 AM EST

If you'd really like rational arguments read Noam Chomsky. I doubt you'd like what you'd find given your beliefs. I'm not the Noamer but your beliefs are hardly "rationale" themselves.

Do you really think immigration is the problem with unionization? American companies and the American government attack any sort of organized labor with a tenacity reserved for terrorists. Read about the pinkerton detectives around the turn of the century. Also read about how companies choose what state to work in. It's always rate of unionization and lower wages. North Carolina is a prime example of this.

That being said, yes immigration does have something to do with a low rate of unionization, but not how you think. Unskilled immigrants are not the problem in regards to unionization, their jobs are almost impossible to unionize anyway(i.e. companies can almost always get scabs, they have a sufficient large base that they can get new employees any time they want). The problem lies in "brain drain" immigrants. These immigrants are brought in with fewer rights than American workers and that lack of rights precludes any sort of unionization. And with the threat of immigrant workers taking their jobs the workers that are American citizens are sufficiently afraid that they don't unionize.

As for unions being unnecessary, you are either rich or have a fundemental misunderstanding of what the goals of American business are. I'm not arguing that unions don't have problems(laziness, union politics, sell-out leaders) but the alternative is *much* worse. Unions provide a check and balance to the goals of corporations and ownership. Think about it from a purely rational perspective. Owners want to get the most profit from the least cost. One way of getting that is forcing the labor force to be "flexible"(i.e. able to be fired at a moments notice and be replaced) and paid little. The interests of the owners are always represented within a business. The viewpoints of the worker are not. Unions provide a collective entity to represent workers rights. For all their flaws they are better than nothing. Can you think of anything better?

As for working hours, no, it's not immigration. Where do you work? Obviously not in the tech industry. Or almost any industry for that matter. If you look at anyone with any sort of white collar or tech job these days, they work absolutely insane hours. Plenty of people at my company work 60+ hours a week. That is wrong, plain and simple. These people have families, friends and lives outside of work that are not being dealt with.

On an bit of a tangent, I'm going to preempt the argument "well nobody forced them to work in crappy conditions, they could just get another job", hardly. Thanks to downsizing "worker flexibility" et al... workers do not have a choice, they can either work for an employer that will screw them or they can starve. The argument of "they can go into business for themselves" doesn't work either unless they're rich but that eliminates the problem anyway. Try rationalizing quitting your job, even one where you're getting screwed, when you have children that depend on you.

Another one of your arguments is that income redistribution hurts the economy. Hardly. Putting more money into the hands of consumers is the surest way to *stimulate* the economy. Wealthy people sit on their money, or buy luxury goods with it using a relatively small percentage of the worth. That causes money that could be put into trade to stagnate. You'd probably respond that people wouldn't be willing to better themselves without the economic incentives of a non-redistributive society. Hardly. First off, people act from a variety of motivations, not just economic, if you look at almost any successful businessman wealth came as a result of them doing something they loved and would do anyway. Once you get beyond the subsistance level all bets are off. Even if people did act for their economic betterment they would still act that way in a redistributive society. It's relatively easy to envision a society that limits wealth where there are still plenty of opportunities for economic advancement, just not as ludicrous as here.

As for prisons, American prisons are horrible. Comparing them to China is probably not a good idea though. Comparing America to the rest of the "industrialized" world is probably better. Compared to those countries(Germany, France, England, Scandanavia, Canada, etc...) the US has the highest rate of incarceration other than South Africa. Not good. And most of the people incarcerated are put into prison for "victimless" crimes like drug use, that are typically treated as health rather than criminal problems in other countries. As for the conditions in American prisons, just think about it. Does anyone realize how sick the omnipresent joking about rape in american prisons is? Other countries are, rightfully, horrified by our views. Our views regarding prison are fundementally flawed. The way of elminating recidivism is not to have tougher penalties but to allow education within prison(proven fact, look it up).

If you don't believe or disagree with anything I wrote, try looking up anything I've said in relavent factbooks(the UN is a pretty good source). A good start for non-academics would be the Chomsky trilogy too, "secrets, lies and democracy", "the prosperous few and the restless many" and "what uncle sam really wants". If your looking for something more academic, "Manufacturing Consent" is probably a better read.

[ Parent ]
Re: Your stats are misleading (none / 0) (#57)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:46:06 AM EST

He says "You go on quoting statistics about the distribution of wealth in this country and show that they are very uneven. What
the hell do you want? Communism? Socialism? Sure why not, 50% taxes with full state paid health care, social security,
education, and mandatory 6 weeks of vacation a year. Hell, we can all be a nation of ditch diggers with no motivation to
improve ourselves. :P"
I live in denmark we pay 50& or more in taxes with full state paid health care + many more things i dont see that as a bad thing
Mikkel



[ Parent ]
Leftist? Rightist? Who cares... (4.00 / 2) (#69)
by blixco on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 12:16:47 PM EST

What are we trying to accomplish? Better lives for everyone. Everyone. Every single person in this godforsaken bit of land. Every single last one of them, you, me, the guy on the street. Every lazy, shiftless bastard that's ever abused a system. Every technocratic jargon filled liberal hating propagandist. Every right wing nut, every left wing whacko. Every single person in this country.
How are we going to accomplish it? Armed revolution, maybe. Direct action, definitley. I feed the guy on the street. I give him clothes. I give him a small book with my belief system outlined in it. I give him shelter, I try to give him hope. I do this because he is my neighbor, my counterpart, a citizen of this country.

Do I have to shoot you to get your attention? I hope not.

What are the consequences? You'll have to be more responsible for your actions and your neighbors lives. Wouldn't you want the society around you to care more for your well being? Right now, it does not. Right now, you are a target. And that's all your fault.
-------------------------------------------
The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]
Re: Your stats are misleading (none / 0) (#117)
by aphrael on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 03:57:24 PM EST

I suspect a great deal of this figure has to do with the large amount of new immigration in this country.

From what I can see, it has more to do with the fact that ethnic groups which, on average, are poorer also, on average, have more children. It's hard to tell, tho, which direction causality runs in.

Two million Americans are in prisons, 500,000 more than in communist China, which has a 1.3 billion population.

While I agree with some of your objections to these statistics, it remains true that the US has a higher incarceration rate *per capita* than *any other country in the industrialized world*. This is largely the result of nasty politics --- there's a ballot measure in CA this fall whose intent is to provide that persons arrested on drug possession charges should not be jailed; the primary financial opposition to it comes from the state's prison guard union (?!) --- but it still says something disturbing about us as a culture: we're more willing to lock people up, for less reason, than other people. It would be nice to see some sort of study which attempted to explain *why*.

This is my main beef with Leftists: their arguments are usually stats, personal accounts, and passion.

I flirted briefly with being an activist but gave up for essentially this reason. On the other hand, my main beef with Conservatives is that they tend to assume that everything is just fine as it is, without having experienced the ways in which life in this country can suck.

What are you trying to accomplish and how to do you plan on doing it? What are the consequences? Has this been done before?

I'd like to see two things change in national policy --- the adoption of a universal health care system (because, as good as our system is if you can pay for it, a lot of people can't, and the number who can't is increasing) and the legalization of drug use. The former will cause taxes to go up, the latter should reduce crime (although it may increase the number of people trying to subsist on welfare) and prison expenses.

[ Parent ]

"The Gold Coast" by KSR (2.40 / 5) (#15)
by Dacta on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 01:40:39 AM EST

Has anyone else read The Gold Coast by Kim Stanley Robinson?

I think that's the correct book - one of his "Orange County" books anyway.

In it, he writes about a society where there is a guarenteed minimum wage, but also a maximum wage. Any monet earnt over that limit is taxed at 100%, but you have discression on what program that money goes towards.

It's an idea that fascinated me. Impracticle, of course, but still....

Re: "The Gold Coast" by KSR (none / 0) (#28)
by driph on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 09:10:42 AM EST

In it, he writes about a society where there is a guarenteed minimum wage, but also a maximum wage. Any monet earnt over that limit is taxed at 100%, but you have discression on what program that money goes towards.

My first reaction was, why the hell strive to make anything more than just under the maximum? But what if this could happen.. say once you reach a certain point of income, a certain tax bracket perhaps, you are able to allocate the additional taxes you pay as your income rises to a program or cause of your choice?

Yeah, neither is feasible with the bloated government system we have now, but hey.

--
Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
[ Parent ]
yeah... (1.00 / 6) (#20)
by evro on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 03:51:53 AM EST

so what?
---
"Asking me who to follow -- don't ask me, I don't know!"
I used to live in America (3.72 / 11) (#22)
by chip on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 05:26:40 AM EST

I lived and worked in America for many years. I now live and work in the Netherlands.

While the people of the United States are for the most part nice, the government and the way of life are in direct opposition to many of the actual ideals of "freedom and democracy" that are so often boasted about.

In contrast to this is Holland. Here there is more of the actual practice of democracy and freedom. There is very little racism or violent crime. My costs for health care are five times less and the quality of the doctors is in general better. And the social support system is very complete, offering a real chance for its citizens to have "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".

A good award winning documentary about Holland is "Sex, Drugs and Democracy" which is available on video.

Unless you get all of your news from the net and you are sure to check several international sources, as an American your news is filtered and distorted in some very serious ways, so that the statictics mentioned are hardly known about by most U.S. citizens. Try to read several different sources for the same news story. Compare them and see for yourself.

-- Like science fiction? Try Cordwainer Smith!
OT: Re: I used to live in America (5.00 / 1) (#34)
by omidk on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 10:22:21 AM EST

I was just in Amsterdam and being an american i found that city incredible. What really blew my mind was the diversity of people there. That and you could be out of your mind walking through the red light district looking at whores and 30 minutes later you would be out in the country looking at windmills.

[ Parent ]
Way OT: I used to live in America (none / 0) (#83)
by bigdogs on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 01:16:25 PM EST

Just curious: How did you get the immigration issues done?

If you want to take this completely offline, you can email me: bigdogs@mho.net

[ Parent ]
Re: Way OT: I used to live in America (none / 0) (#207)
by chip on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 08:19:03 AM EST

The best way is to visit Holland with your resume and find a software house that places freelancers (if you are a contractor) or is hiring. Then set up the rest of the details with them from America, while arranging for your flights, storage or sale of personal belongings, etc.

You will need a work permit for the first three years in Holland. The work permit is applied for by the employer. This can take several months. You can start working without it, but you must get it within three months of arrival.

Also, within a month or so after arriving you will get an official resident card from the Vreemdeling Politie (foreign police) allowing you live in Holland as long as you are working.

If you have arranged your employment before you enter Holland (the employer has requested you to come to Holland), you can apply for a 35% tax reduction that will be valid for 5 years.

After three years of continuous living and working in Holland you no longer need a work permit from a particular employer; you are free to work for any company in Holland.

I hope this answers some of your questions. If you need more info please contact me at my work email address.

-- Like science fiction? Try Cordwainer Smith!
[ Parent ]
Thread != WOT; (none / 0) (#114)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 03:44:15 PM EST

While some may not appreciate it, I would be very interested in hearing more about the process of immagrating to Netherlands.

The only resources that I am aware of are for places such as Thailand:

I Walked Away : An Expatriate's Guide to Living Cheaply in Thailand By Michael Ziesing

Any tips greatly appreciated,

thom_farrell@hotmail.com


[ Parent ]
Re: Thread != WOT; (none / 0) (#173)
by Anonymous Hero on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 02:05:05 PM EST

It is basically same all over Europe in the meantime.

A friend of mine moved to Ireland recently, it took him two weeks to get a work permit, and as far as I can tell the company in the Netherlands can apply for the workpermit easily for you.

Just look up some jobs at Headhunter.net or monster.com There are a LOT of offers.

Only drawback I found there when I was moving there was that the housing situation is a pain in the ass (but that might have been because the company who hired me was a looser).

I lived in Amsterdam for around 6 months (though my "immigration" was rather easy as I am a german citizen).

I agree with the other posters though. After living in Europe and North America (currently Canada) I must admit that you ARE freer in Europe then you are in the US.

Money in General doesn't count that much in Europe as it does in the US (somebody here posted money == happiness, and that is true by my observation in the US).

So what am I doing in Canada? Good question, I think Toronto is pretty close to the European Model and unlike anything you can see in the US (okay, I was only at the east coast, but that is at least my impression).



[ Parent ]
Re: I used to live in America (3.00 / 1) (#130)
by Mantra on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 07:04:27 PM EST

Based on my own personal experiences in NL, I have to agree that The Netherlands has a better, closer and truer implementation of the democratic principles and ideals embodied in the US Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights than the United States itself! Of that I have no doubt or qualms saying. If I had to leave the US permanently (not considering it at this point :-), NL would definitely be at the top of the list.

[ Parent ]
Re: I used to live in America (none / 0) (#195)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 05:16:56 PM EST

ok, gotta comment on this. I have no doubt that the Netherlands has implemented democracy and freedom better than the US, but I don't find that compelling. The Netherlands is 41K sq. km and has a population of 15M. It is much easier to implement whatever you want when you have a small population in a small region. I wonder if they could have implemented it in a country with 9.6M sq. km and 272M with more ethnic diversity.

Lets face it, the US just started out wrong. While the fathers of the US were babbling about "All men are created equal", a lot of them had slaves. Truly, its been about 30 years since blacks in the US have been free. 30 years is too short for any social change.

I wonder if most people on kuro5hin really understand what democracy and freedom mean. I have lived in Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Bangladesh. If you all are thinking about moving to the Netherlands because the US doesn't provide enough democracy and freedom, travel to some other country than Canada and western Europe, most of the world would love to come to the US.

[ Parent ]
China vs. America Prison Rates (4.25 / 4) (#32)
by Carnage4Life on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 09:53:35 AM EST

Many have already pointed out that statistics are meaningless without context so I wont flog that horse here. Instead I'll simply put your prison comment in context.

In China prisoners are executed for a variety of crimes ranging from tax evasion to drug trafficking. To further reinforce the death penalty as a deterrent several executions are done in public to discourage crimes. So whereas in America a criminal only has jail to look forward to for committing a violent crime, using or selling drugs, or tax evasion he will be put to death in China. There were 16000 per cent more executions in China than in America according to Amnesty International in 1998.

With such a serious deterrent to crime in place in China as well as the fact that usually more money is spent per year on a prisoner than they probably were making before incarceration it is easy to see that China vs. America prison comparisons are misplaced.

Death Penalty == Deterrence? (none / 0) (#63)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:56:08 AM EST

So, do you have any statistics to back up the allegation that the Death Penalty deters crime? Everything I've read says it doesn't. So, I'm wondering if crime is vastly lower in China, and whether this is due to cultural norms (like the difference between UK and US in violent crimes) or because of deterence.

-- Ender, Duke_of_URL

[ Parent ]
Re: Death Penalty == Deterrence? (none / 0) (#74)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 12:33:45 PM EST

Death Penalty == no recidivism. Guaranteed.

[ Parent ]
Recidivism, Beheadings (ewww) and more. (none / 0) (#198)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 07:26:54 PM EST

And how many of those put to death actually committed the crimes? Here in the US a fair number are just guilty of having no high-paid lawyers, etc.

And typically, even if they were *all* guilty, it'd just be a drop in the bucket. Saudi Arabia still kills about 100 people a year (be-headings) for crimes, and they have *no* population.

-- Ender, Duke_of_URL

[ Parent ]
Re: Death Penalty == Deterrence? (none / 0) (#222)
by crizh on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 09:08:53 AM EST

It certainly reduces rates of reoffending 8)
Danger Newbie (please do not flame, rather educate)
[ Parent ]
Re: Death Penalty == Deterrence? (none / 0) (#235)
by CodeWright on Thu Sep 21, 2000 at 07:40:59 PM EST

It also gives the less ethical [read: politicians] an easy way to publicly dispose of threats without ever facing any repercussions.

Many death row convicts have been found glaringly innocent in a re-investigation of their cases. In the rush to publicly demonstrate competence, police forces and bureaucrats [read: Prosecuting Attorneys bent on achieving enough notoriety to run for public office] rush to prosecute someone, anyone, just to get a conviction.

The death penalty is not a panacea.



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Bill Gates has /how/ much?! (4.33 / 3) (#35)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 10:24:00 AM EST

Nearly half of America's wealth is in Bill Gate's fortune.
Do you have any documentation to back this claim? Recent reports have Larry Ellison (CEO of Oracle) as the richest man in the world (making Bill Gates #2). If BG really does have "nearly half of America's wealth", it would follow that he and Larry Ellison had almost all of it, with the nearest also-ran comming up far back in the distance.

It's hard to see how this could be true. It seems like there's just too many other rich people in the US for Ellison & Gates to have such a strangle-hold on our economy.

Re: Bill Gates has /how/ much?! (none / 0) (#39)
by ejf on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 10:41:40 AM EST

Please read the article again.

It says that he own as much as the _poorest_ 45% American citizens. This does not account for the 65% richer citizens and not for that 1% that holds 95% of the money.


--- men are reasoning, not reasonable animals.
[ Parent ]
Re: Bill Gates has /how/ much?! (5.00 / 1) (#89)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 01:31:30 PM EST

Oh, you're right. Somehow, I assumed I could take the opening statement of the article at face value. Clearly,
Nearly half of America's wealth is in Bill Gate's fortune
is not the same thing as
Bill Gates' wealth equals the combined wealth of the poorest 45% of our population
I sympathize with the general sentiment of the article, but frankly, I didn't read throught the whole article because my bull$#!+ detector went off on the opening sentence.

[ Parent ]
Re: Bill Gates has /how/ much?! (none / 0) (#90)
by El Volio on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 01:33:24 PM EST

Here's another problem: It also states that 1% of the pop. has as much wealth as 95%. If that's true, even assuming that the other 4% has 0 wealth (which is surely not the case, though it may be close), then that means that 1% of the population has no more than 50% of the wealth. 'Course, the blurb states that they have 95% of the wealth. Take it a step further: So Larry Ellison and Bill Gates can each have no more than 25% of the wealth. This is looking worse and worse.

Ergo, the stats here are screwed up. That doesn't change the fact that they have a good point, but please, let's get some things straight around here!

[ Parent ]

Re: Bill Gates has /how/ much?! (none / 0) (#123)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 05:10:57 PM EST

Um, did you take Arithmetic in elementary school? According to your warped understanding of addition and subtraction:
'Course, the blurb states that they have 95% of the wealth.
But "the blurb" does not state that. It states this:
The top one percent of the richest Americans have wealth equal to the combined wealth of 95% of other Americans
Is your distortion a result of simple stupidity or a pathological refusal to face the facts?

[ Parent ]
Re: Bill Gates has /how/ much?! (none / 0) (#133)
by ejf on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 07:36:39 PM EST

This is getting ridiculous %-) Let´s take this whole argument out on whether there´s a percent missing here or there or where the 42 is in these figures ...

The article does have a point, and a pretty strong one. Sadly the author chose to back it up with some really distorted stats. I could probably dig up stats that say that I should have been having a child by now (and no, I´m not female). 80% of the worlds population believe in statistics. The other 5% really don´t care. Oops :)

There is quite some hipocrisy (sp?) in the American system. I´ve been over there for a year and virtually heard no criticism on the system from my peers. That was in High School, maybe that´s why.

In response to someone else here who stated that a lot of money would be spent on these "Starwars" projects, I have to say that that isn´t really a valid argument. History has shown that for every dollar spent on space travel, the economy got at least $2 back. Yes, the hungry aren´t fed directly, but in the long term there´s a better chance that they will be.


--- men are reasoning, not reasonable animals.
[ Parent ]
Re: Bill Gates has /how/ much?! (none / 0) (#157)
by Anonymous Hero on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 04:02:46 AM EST

Fact is - no one should be hungry. There is enough food available to feed the whole world.
People are hungry even though food is not scarce. Scarcity of food is the result of arbitrary rules set up by the corporately owned goverrnment. The US Government subsidizes corporate agriculturre by buying surplus food and storing it. This causes the perception of scarcity. The same is true of money. Have you ever considered how arbitrary interests rates are?

[ Parent ]
Re: Bill Gates has /how/ much?! (none / 0) (#169)
by ejf on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 12:14:34 PM EST

Yes, the food problem is familiar. It´s not just a problem with the US government, though ... It is pretty much global. Just think about it what could be done with all that (eventually destroyed) surplus food in Ethiopia ... But nobody´s going to pay the shipping, let alone pay the agriculture industry. It all comes down to money, economy, and ultimately capitalism.

Don´t get the idea that I oppose capitalism completely, but in cases like this it makes me wonder whether there is a better approach. Actually we´re likely to find out in the decades to come where we don´t NEED to suggest scarcity but actually have it ...

Interest rates are arbitrary. That´s a fact, and you learn it even in High School economics. They also affect inflation and the rise and fall of the economy (and are thus a great tool to make the public believe the country´s economy is getting better and better before each presidential vote, but that´s just a conspiracy theory ;).


--- men are reasoning, not reasonable animals.
[ Parent ]
Re: Bill Gates has /how/ much?! (none / 0) (#168)
by grimani on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 11:50:47 AM EST

Quote:
"it would follow that he and Larry Ellison had almost all of it"

Actually, the next 43% or whatever of the population has much more money than the bottom 43%. A LOT MORE.

[ Parent ]
Statistics may lie...but so do we. (4.62 / 16) (#38)
by blixco on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 10:40:11 AM EST

You know, the common responses that I see to this issue amongst the technical elite (you're part of this technical elite, by the way) echo the sentiments my 63 year old republican step-father has. Just one thing, though: has anyone here ever lived on the streets?

Seriously, have you ever had to face life in the bottom percentile of income in this country? Have you ever had to face the full scorn of the successful people around you when you're starving to death? Ever? You ever had to feel like it's your fault you can't afford medicine? Ever been not able to bathe in an actual shower with real hot water for weeks at a time?

This is a heartless country. The services and help that we legislate to the poor and homeless are minimal, and are there so that you (with the new Honda and the 64,000.00 a year admin job) feel better about not giving any money to anyone who needs it. Why should you? The programs are there to give "humanist" liberal Politicians the feeling that they do some good....when all they do is get paid to lie to us over and over and over.

And let's just not talk about this government, the lies about our freedom and about our interests. You give me one example of freedom in the US. It's a lie....a good one, mind you, but a lie. We routinely use the government and the police to terrorize protests and assemblies. We jail innocent people and give criminals freedom, high paying government jobs, and free reign. We mass together for elections that are bought and paid for. We have choice taken away, we have speech taken away...we have our lives taken away.....and we fight to defend this?

I don't have a problem with someone making money. I have a problem with irresponsible "governments" allowing people...human beings, people with childhoods, with families....to die on the streets of starvation. And all I can do about it is walk into a voting booth and pull a little lever? Fuck that. I can do more.

This country was born in fire. This country needs another revolution to set itself straight. I get told all the time: "you don't like it, leave!" And I'm telling you, I would rather move to Canada and die of old age....but the fact remains, this country is mine. I was born here. I was promised freedom, equality, and liberty. And I would rather fight for *that* and for the ideals involved than listen to some technocratic high paid deskjockey complain about how he has a *right* to trod on the poor.

Rise up. Don't make excuses for your wealth and elitist attitudes....make a difference. Arm the homeless. Do SOMETHING. Anything. Act. Be loud, be angry...this country, your country, is lying to you and killing millions all over the world to further the lies. Don't let it continue. Don't narrow your focus to include only you and your wealth. Look through a wider lense, and make your own freedom.
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The root of the problem has been isolated.
Re: Statistics may lie...but so do we. (none / 0) (#46)
by Alhazred on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:08:24 AM EST

Talk is cheap my boy. Yours, mine, everyone's.

However, at least you have the right idea, people here are being FUCKED! Destroying the country however would simply be throwing out the good with the bad. Improvement does not come from destruction, only construction.

Be well.
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
[ Parent ]
Re: Statistics may lie...but so do we. (1.67 / 3) (#52)
by blixco on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:30:00 AM EST

True, talk doesn't amount to much. That's why direct action is so much more satisfying. And I don't look at armed insurrection as being destruction. It's a creating process. Just so happens we'd probably all get killed in the process of creating something new. In the meantime, while the homeless are being armed, small projects will have to suffice. Feed people, give them comfort and hope. And prepare to act.

Rise up.
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The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]
Kind of hard to Rage Against the Machine (none / 0) (#78)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 01:04:11 PM EST

When you're up there ACCEPTING YOUR GRAMMY.

[ Parent ]
Re: Kind of hard to Rage Against the Machine (none / 0) (#81)
by blixco on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 01:10:22 PM EST

heh heh heh....

Ya know, I do think they just screw with the industry as much as possible. And it's funny. I would never deny someone their success. It's what they do with that success. In the case of Rage, they spread a message. They support a lot of direct action, they do their best (limited, since they're just musicians) to change the society around them....

However, Zach spends his off time actually fighting with Chiapas rebels. So there's that.
-------------------------------------------
The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]
Re: Statistics may lie...but so do we. (none / 0) (#91)
by jawessel on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 01:35:37 PM EST

your reading assignment is... The Rise and Decline of Nations, by Mancur Olson.

[ Parent ]
Socialism (3.42 / 7) (#53)
by sallgeud on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:30:57 AM EST

There are plenty of countries practicing socialism... Like you'd mentioned, Canada. If you really want socialism, move to Canada. If you want communism move to Cuba. If you want capitalism, stay in America. There are many downsides to each of these...

With capitalism, you end up with a large gap in classes (so far as 'worth' goes), but EVERYONE has the chance to change that. The man on the street has the opportunity (though, not as great as someone with a silver spoon in their mouth). Opportunity is what drives people to our great country... if you don't like it, please get out.

Socialism: In socialism, you end up with a more even distribution of money. The problem with this is that you end up in a welfare state, with unemployment rates of 20%+. If you didn't have to work for money, would you? If you then worked, and ended up making what you'd get from the govt. anyway (because of taxes), would you consider that fair? I don't.

Communism: All the money is SUPPOSED to be distributed evenly, but is it? Find me one communist country that doesn't have a ruling class.

I'd like to state, that we are the wealthiest country in the world. We have the lowest rates of poverty, unemployment, taxes, and diseases. (compared to major countries)

People who bitch about America not being fair... they fail to realize how spoiled they truely are. I saw a special on 20/20 (yeah, I know, don't trust the libs): In the story they went to some of the homeless-cafeteria sites and asked questions of the people standing in line to get free food. Bear in mind, these people all claim to be poor. 20/20 found that over 50% of the people in the line had Cable TV... CABLE FUCKING TV... For christsakes, living in America does not give you the right to have a house, to have a tv, a cell phone... but these people have all of these.

I admit, living in poverty sucks ass, and YES I have done it before. Fortunately, it wasn't because of my lack of desire, it was because of circumstances out of my control. I was able to pull myself out, very easily, I might add. I'm not a member of the top 1%; I'm not even close. I am, however, now living very comfortably on the salary I earn from showing up to work every day and doing my job.

I am a firm believer in... If you don't like it, and everyone else does, maybe it's time for you to find a new place to live.

And yes, I will stand up for my rights and fight any effort to make the US a socialist state.

[ Parent ]

Re: Socialism (4.20 / 5) (#60)
by blixco on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:47:34 AM EST

"Opportunity is what drives people to our great country... if you don't like it, please get out."

No.

My country. I'll kill for it. But I don't need capitalism, communism, socialism...these are rules we've played by before. They aren't tied to reality, they're tied to theory.

You're assuming I want socialism. That's pretty silly. A corrupt government is corrupt no matter what -ism you put on it. I just want the things that we have been promised, things my grandfather and father killed other people for in various wars. I want the things that your opportunistic state has promised us over and over again, realistic or not, and never delivered. People are dying right now because you won't help them, you won't help change this corrupt, vile, senseless government or your own bankrupt morals.

Make all the excuses you want about why you don't help those around you. You know...keep reaching for the stars. Pay no attention to the society that is crumbling around you.
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The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]
Lowest rates? NOT (3.00 / 5) (#62)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:52:13 AM EST

> lowest rates of poverty, unemployment, taxes, and
> diseases
   We do *NOT*

   We are the *worst* in all the industrialized countries for deaths in childbirth. Etc, etc. Hell, some *3rd* world countries do better in these areas. Cuba especially.

   Taxes, yes and no - most socialist countries do have hire taxes, however they have much greater csocial services. I think we have the highest taxes for benefits recieved. Granted we have low taxes, but infintestimal services...

   Poverty is relative. To be poor in America is to be rich ($-wise) anywhere else. However, you still have to pay for your hovel and your food - which will cost you more than in any 3rd world country. And while making $10K aas a poor person would make you rich in a third world country, the fact that you can't buy $1 worth of groceries for the week makes up for it...

-- Ender, Duke_of_URL

[ Parent ]
Re: Socialism (3.50 / 2) (#156)
by Anonymous Hero on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 03:50:50 AM EST

The reason that the unemployment rate is so low is that people who would normally be unemployed are in prison.
Wake up! Our country is socialist. Major corporations depend on the government for their sustenance all of the time. Remember Chrysler getting bailed out? Do yo remember the Savings and Loan fallout? Our government is
always bailing "private" interests out. The problem is that if the poorer citizens are helped out by taxpayers it is somehow "socialist". Yet when the government helps out major corporations it's "capitalism".
How are prisons are paid for? Our taxes. "Private" intersts are even trying to get a piece of that money by starting companies using low cost prison labor.
o honestly don't think that my taxes should be used to imprison people who smoke pot.


[ Parent ]
Re: Socialism (4.66 / 3) (#176)
by anonymous cowerd on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 05:47:45 PM EST

...I was able to pull myself out, very easily, I might add.

You history-free young people who have never had to support yourselves through anything resembling a real economic downturn amuse the Hell out of me. The success of the Clinton Administration at reducing unemployment has spoiled you all; you have no idea what it's like to live in an economy where you are unable to find a job. I do.

Don't give me crap about the laziness and ignorance of the people at the very bottom of the income ladder. Although I had taken night classes in calculus at the local JC and I had a combined SAT score of 1580, I couldn't afford college, so I never did get a college degree; and in fact I had a Hell of a time getting unskilled work at minimum wage back then.

I wish you could experience, as I did, competing for a job when fresh out of high-school with zero salable skills in 1973 during the first oil-embargo recession, or stumbling along, always falling behind, trying to make it at minimum wage and zero job security during the 1976 oil-embargo recession. I wish you had enjoyed the pleasures of entering the job market without benefit of business connections or a college degree during the 1979-1983 recession, where by deliberate manipulation of the economy, for a whole year the official unemployment rate hovered at or above 10 percent. This was at exactly the same time that the Reagan's administration, damn him to Hell and damn them all, engineered the first of a series of massive tax cuts exclusively for millionaires. Who was paying for your room and board in 1982, hey?

Incidentally, oil production has either peaked already or is going to peak within the next five years or so. This does not bode well for the dream of a perpetual rosy economic scenario, does it?

The economy looks OK these days; do you think it will be so healthy forever? Wait till the inevitable next recession. Sure, you'll have a work history and polished professional skills so you probably won't be the one to take it on the neck. But for the kids graduating from high school, at least the ones whose parents aren't rich enough to hand them college admission on a silver platter, what do you think is going to happen to them? Maybe you don't care.

...if you don't like it, please get out...

I am a firm believer in... If you don't like it, and everyone else does, maybe it's time for you to find a new place to live.

And yes, I will stand up for my rights and fight any effort to make the US a socialist state.

So if I, as a voter and a taxpaying U.S. citizen for thirty years, want to increase the degree to which my country, the country where I was born and where I have lived all my life, enjoys the benefits of moderate democratic socialism - that is, intelligent, sensible, humane government-for-the-working-class, then you insist that I should flee the U.S.A. and emigrate to some far-off foreign land. But if you desire to extend the reign of selfish, senseless, reckless and foresight-less capitalism in this country, then you maintain that it is your right to do so, and what's more, I have no right whatsoever to oppose your wishes.

What's wrong with this picture? Don't I have the rights of a voter and a citizen too, or are voters's rights reserved exclusively for the investing class and those working-class suckers who buy into the investing class's ahistorical propaganda and Randite crypto-economics? Which part of the elementary definition of democracy do you fail to understand? Or is it just that triumphalist capitalism is fundamentally incompatible with democracy, and since you've "got yours," and you want to keep every last cent of it and even grab more, then to Hell with democracy?

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

"This calm way of flying will suit Japan well," said Zeppelin's granddaughter, Elisabeth Veil.
[ Parent ]

Re: Socialism (1.00 / 1) (#186)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 02:41:09 AM EST

Incidentally, oil production has either peaked already or is going to peak within the next five years or so.

Yes, and now the idiots are getting ready to go for deep sea oil and methyl-hydrate at a point in time where the international scientific community ( outside of corporate controlled America ) have come to the conclusion that we most definately don't need any more carbon in the atmosphere.

I can't help but wonder - what will the decendents of the individual that you are replying to do in about 40 years time when large sections of the Amercian continent crash into deserts?

You might be strangling my chicken, but you don't want to know what I'm doing to your hampster.



[ Parent ]

Not everybody is the Techno-elite (3.50 / 2) (#59)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:47:18 AM EST

And arm the homeless was a bait/april fool's joke - although, me and all my friends thought it was a good idea

I agree w/ya on most everything.

I'm annoyed that someone posted an article with my favorite statistics :\

What they didn't mention is that the US has been sucking off everything fromt he world (especially S.America) for years, we use something like 50% (or 60%) of the world's resources, and make 25% of the world's trash with 5% of the world's population... Something's wrong with the system when you start looking at overall statistics.

-- Ender, Duke_of_URL

[ Parent ]
Re: Statistics may lie...but so do we. (3.00 / 1) (#119)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 04:12:31 PM EST

>Just one thing, though: has anyone here ever lived on the streets?

Have you? (I have not).

>I don't have a problem with someone making money. I have
>a problem with irresponsible "governments" allowing
>people...human beings, people with childhoods, with
>families....to die on the streets of starvation. And all
>I can do about it is walk into a voting booth and pull a
>little lever? Fuck that. I can do more.

Lots of venues out there - Habitat for Humanity, go work at a homeless shelter or a food kitchen for street people. New flash - some street people might prefer to live on the streets. Many are drug addicts. Why should homelessness and poverty be the governments problem? Never used to be, and frankly, they are about the last organization I would select to really help people

>I'm telling you, I would rather move to Canada
>and die of old age

Funny, that. I would rather leave canada for the US, and die rich, free, and old. We waste more money on social programs, and have the same problems. You will never eliminate poverty.

>The programs are there to give "humanist" liberal
>Politicians the feeling that they do some good....when
>all they do is get paid to lie to us over and over and
>over.

You have not seen lying liberal politicians till you visit canada. Our politicians pretty much wrote the book.

[ Parent ]

Re: Statistics may lie...but so do we. (2.00 / 1) (#125)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 05:56:37 PM EST

I know a guy who doesn't even have a ss# (which is asked on most employment applications) and he got a job in fast food place without much trouble. The truth is, imho, is that most poor people are either apathic or incapable. That's the only explanation I have - it's not hard to get a job, really. By the way, I've been there - I was poor (on the virge of not paying the rent, anyway).

On the other hands - let me address those who say "hands off my income". First of all, gov't provides schools, science research, roads and so on. Second, it provides needed level of bureaucracy (how about DMV?) Now, I don't doubt that much of our taxes are wasted on crap. But there's no way to solve this. Consider that out of 100% of Solar energy our planet gets, we only use, what, .01%? Out of energy that is in every liter of gasoline, our cars user 30%? My point is, inefficiency is a rule, not an exception. If anything ever works perfectly, that would be a reason to be suspicious. Not to mention that alot of people do in fact need welfare help they get - they might be immigrants or they might be growing up in a fucked up family, they need help to get the chance to support themselves. After that many of them will repay the country, including you. Of course, many of them won't, but I would rather have my taxes help one person who deserves it and 10 people who don't than help nobody at all.

As far as the story is concerned, I don't really buy it. Statistics are skewed because of immigration. Sure, Switzerland may be much richer and better off per capita, but they have much less people, they don't have social legacy of slavery, and they're not a technological leader of the world. In a word, it's a completely different situation and comparing them and trying to derive some lessons is simply naive.

There is one piece of truth there: number of people in jails. This is a huge problem with US: war on drugs. In my opinion, decision on whether to dodrugs or not is a personal decision, and if we spent even 1/100th of these money to develop medicine that helps addicted people, it'd be better for everyone.

[ Parent ]

Re: Statistics may lie...but so do we. (5.00 / 1) (#178)
by Anonymous Hero on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 09:10:34 PM EST

I came from South East Asia. I've been studying in the US for the past four years. So perhaps I'm in a position to put things in perspective: Americans have it good, very very good. Not just in terms of material wealth, but also in terms of the freedoms afforded to the individual.

There are problems, certainly. But put things in perspective: nearly any other place in the world sucks more than the USA. The freedom and opportunities that Americans have can only be dreamt of in other countries.

Americans, help others, defend your freedom - but stop whining. Look around you, and realize what you have.

[ Parent ]
Re: Statistics may lie...but so do we. (none / 0) (#226)
by meatpuppet on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 03:53:11 PM EST

Hee hee... wow. Now, I like RATM and Dead Prez and all, but there's a grain of salt that needs to go along with Maoist talk like theirs. A bloody revolution, historically, doesn't get you freedom; it gets you authoritarian systems like China and Stalinist Russia. Those aren't fun, in case you hadn't noticed. I'm all for socialism, but making the US act like China isn't on my to-do list. China's not even a real socialist system- it's more state-capitalist (instead of exploiting workers for the benefit of private citizens like the US, China's political elite take it- in a true Marxist state, the profits go back to the people). The best road to freedom from capitalist exploitation isn't through guys like Che and Castro- it's through groups like the AFL-CIO and SEIU. By building class conciousness, people in the majority (the proletariats) eventually learn that, since their labor drives the economy, the politico-economic system of the country is theirs to control. This is close to what happened in the Bolshevik revolution, and also (correct me if I'm worng here), is similar to why German workers enjoy 6 weeks of paid vacation and among the highest rates of pay in the world.

[ Parent ]
Re: Statistics may lie...but so do we. (none / 0) (#236)
by CodeWright on Thu Sep 21, 2000 at 07:44:02 PM EST

People don't have to be "class conscious" [an "us" vs "them" mentality sure to end in either "revolutionary" bloodshed, or "quell the slave rebellion" bloodshed].

Why not just have "conscientious consumers", knowledgeable and empowered, without artificial lines drawn in the sand, for the benefit of demogogues to incite bloodshed?



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Re: Statistics may lie...but so do we. (none / 0) (#238)
by meatpuppet on Fri Sep 29, 2000 at 03:09:23 PM EST

Becuase capitalism IS a problem and DOES need to be removed. It IS "us vs. them," and *they* have been giving it to us good since the 1970's. Reaganomics still rule in the US, and it's spreading to other countries like herpes. It's pissing off a lotta people; hence the actions you see in Seattle, DC, Prague and anywhere else imperialists (the advanced state of capitalism) meet to decide how best to increase their own wealth.

[ Parent ]
Re: Statistics may lie...but so do we. (none / 0) (#240)
by CodeWright on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 10:06:59 AM EST

You say that as if it were FACT, when it is just your OPINION.

Gimme a break. Do you even know what capitalism is?



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Does it really matter? (3.00 / 4) (#42)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 10:50:06 AM EST

Does it really matter that Bill Gates possess wealth equal to 45% of the rest of the nation. Not if you're Bill Gates. Does it really matter that 1% of the population controls 95% of the wealth of the nation? Not if you're part of the 1%. Does it matter that 1% will never hear, let alone acknowledge my rights or needs? It does to me. But then, I don't count because I have no money. It should matter to you too because, statistically speaking, you have no money.

Mangling statistics (4.00 / 4) (#43)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:01:58 AM EST

Too many people make comparisons like this: "The USA has 17% more Bad Hair than France and 33% more Horrible Farts than Baluchistan." While you're at it, why not add the two percentages and say "50% more Bad Stuff"? That way, you sound like an ad exec instead of merely using statistics the way they do.

The idea that someone -else's- opinion of what's fair should drive anyone's salary is the foundation of a lot of foolish talk. Legislate that and you get the politicians you deserve, all of whom want the money you have now.

It's probably true that the USA has more people in prison per capita than nearly anywhere else. This is because the people don't get rid of politicians who make nasty, useless laws. The Puritan streak in Americans and the idea it's OK to mind someone else's business are at the root of a tremendous amount of human suffering.

IMO the thing the US government does is to make sure people are divided. Easier to conquer them that way. Keep people fretting, divide them into "Druggies vs. Squares" and incarcerate the Druggies; divide them into "Republicans and Democrats" and play them off against one another while making sure they do nothing of substance; divide them into "Haves and Have-Nots", keep both sides ignorant through public education and throw each side half a bone.

Get rid of every single politician now in office, top to bottom, replace them with people who don't want the jobs, and -then- you'll see decent government.

Re: Mangling statistics (1.00 / 1) (#45)
by Alhazred on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:05:07 AM EST

Ever been in prison my boy? Ever actually had ANY experience with our legal or political system? Ever even voted?
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
[ Parent ]
If only voting worked. (3.00 / 2) (#54)
by blixco on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:32:51 AM EST

It doesn't. You're left with a feeling that you made a difference when you vote, but you don't. In the end, the people you voted for (even if they win by your one vote...an impossibility in an electoral college country) were lying about what they'll do.

Rise up.
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The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]
Re: If only voting worked. (none / 0) (#112)
by pete on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 03:15:36 PM EST

I've seen you post a bunch of things advocating what amounts to a revolt against the government. I don't have a problem with this, but I do think that you want it for the wrong reasons. What are you going to do once you take power? Steal wealthy people's money and redistribute it?

Government is not the answer. When the government solves problems, they provide one solution. One solution only, with no competition and thus no incentive to stay efficient and not create bureacracy. Who competes with the Post Office? The public school system? Medicare?

When government solves problems, they absolve the public of feeling like they have to care about anything. I sure as hell am not going to give any of my money to charity when the government is already taking half of it.

What we need in this country is, in my opinion:

  • To drastically reduce the federal government; privatize almost everything
  • To somehow get across to the apathetic public that they have personal responsibility for their own lives, as well as a responsibility to help others in the way that they see fit

    I, unlike some people who share my basic beliefs, don't think everything will magically get better when this happens. But government redistribution of wealth is not the answer. People with power will always lie, become corrupt, abuse their power. The only solution is personal achievement coupled with personal responsibility. No, I'm not just trying to get out of paying taxes.

    I'll cut this short now, I could go on about this for hours.


    --pete


    [ Parent ]
  • Re: If only voting worked. (none / 0) (#155)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 03:34:19 AM EST

    Hmm... you mean privatize things likethe water supply like Columbia? So some greedy corporation can charge us double for a basic resource?


    [ Parent ]
    (3.28 / 7) (#44)
    by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:03:13 AM EST

    Someone just forwarded this e-mail to me. It's an interesting juxtaposition. I'm not sure it's real, but it was still interesting to read.


    Subject: Bill Gates advice to High School Seniors

    Here's some advice Bill Gates recently dished out at a high school speech in which he discussed about 11 things they would not learn in school. He talked about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a full generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

    RULE 1
    Life is not fair-get used to it.

    RULE 2
    The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

    RULE 3
    You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out
    of high school. You won't be a vice president with a
    car phone, until you earn both.

    RULE 4
    If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn't have tenure.

    RULE 5
    Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping -they called it opportunity.

    RULE 6
    If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes - learn from them.

    RULE 7
    Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the
    parasites of your parents' generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

    RULE 8
    Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

    RULE 9
    Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.

    RULE 10
    Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

    RULE 11
    Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

    WOW (3.00 / 1) (#48)
    by finkployd on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:20:25 AM EST

    I don't know for sure if Gates actually said that, but it sounds great. Best advice for a graduate I've heard in a long time.

    Finkployd
    Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
    [ Parent ]
    Re: WOW (none / 0) (#152)
    by hypatia on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 01:36:32 AM EST

    I don't know for sure if Gates actually said that
    A friend of mine has a copy here attributted to Charles Sykes, in a book called Dumbing Down Our Kids, so who knows?

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Bill Gates advice (1.33 / 3) (#49)
    by jawessel on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:23:05 AM EST

    I'm not sure I would want Bill giving advice to a bunch of high school kids...from what I have heard of him, i'm not at all sure he's much of a role model! Sure, he has the biggest pile of money in the country, but how did he get it?

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Bill Gates advice (none / 0) (#71)
    by Wah on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 12:28:58 PM EST

    <i>Sure, he has the biggest pile of money in the country, but how did he get it? </i>

    by convincing the word that software was a scarce resource.

    Seriously, when you want to charge $1,000 for a $.10 piece of plastic, making $100,000,000,000 is all about making sure no one else can do the same thing.

    This is how you can reach such a huge disparity (the largest in the world) between the haves and have nots. You use governmental protections on IP and then you are protecting wealth at the point of a gun. Which is why the U.S. has a huge defense budget, but that's a whole nother story, no wait, it's on-topic here.

    With the digitization of media, making it an infinite resource, we as a society now are forced to deal with the consequences of his attitude. If you wish to see 3 or 4 BillGs' and 50,000,000 poverty stricken folks, by all means support the notion that sharing is bad. If, on the other hand, you wish to see a world in which individuals have a "fair" chance at making their own way in the world, take a long, critical look at the way the U.S. handles IP.

    We live in a new world, shouldn't we make new rules?
    --
    Fail to Obey?
    [ Parent ]
    From a long-time Ann Landers reader... (4.00 / 2) (#51)
    by shirobara on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:29:23 AM EST

    Ann Landers has run that many a time, and every time there have been the kids writing back and saying "No! We're not all like that!" Then the old ladies will write back and say "I clipped that out and gave it to my granddaughter, she'll thank me for it someday!"

    In any case, not Bill Gates. ^_^



    [ Parent ]
    Re: Bill Gates' comments. (none / 0) (#80)
    by StatGrape on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 01:07:22 PM EST

    Every damn one of those items is precisely correct. I've been out of high-school since 1993, and have learned all of those things the hard way. That's why the non-competitive environment preferred by the education system leaves us with a new crop of people who are completely unprepared for the real world each time a new graduating class emerges.

    Look, I don't care for the business approach Gates uses any more than anyone else, but I must admit that when he talks, people should most certainly shut up and listen. One doesn't become the most valuable human on the planet by being clueless. Having seen the other replies to the parent of this thread where people question Gates' ethics and whether or not he is a proper role model, I simply must ask... Who the hell cares? If kids take these excellent pieces of advice, regardless of what their career interests are, and avoid even one pitfall because of them, the whole excercise was worthwhile. Gates' ethics have absolutely nothing to do with his ability to pass on some of the secrets of his success to others, and the fact that he is willing to look like a jerk by being bluntly honest to those kids earns some respect in my eyes.

    The "real world" is a very harsh place, especially for the naive, and anyone of prominance who is willing to alleviate even a small bit of that innocence deserves credit.

    NerdPerfect
    [ Parent ]

    Re: Bill Gates' comments. (2.00 / 1) (#102)
    by CodeWright on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 02:12:59 PM EST

    Well said sir.



    --
    A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
    Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

    [ Parent ]
    So what flack put this in Gates' mouth? (none / 0) (#86)
    by marlowe on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 01:19:18 PM EST

    I'll bet we was at least as sincere saying this stuff as when he's talking about the right to innovate and all that.
    -- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
    [ Parent ]
    Re: So what flack put this in Gates' mouth? (none / 0) (#188)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 03:32:16 AM EST

    What difference does that make? Every politician or tycoon on earth uses speech writers. Discuss the statements themselves, not who said them.

    [ Parent ]
    Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (3.53 / 13) (#56)
    by CodeWright on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:45:03 AM EST

    When I first read the article, I was filled with a desire to build a cogent and well documented response. After reading the replies, I was beginning to wonder about the worth of contributing to ANY discussion on k5, much less this one.

    Wildmage stood up in defense of sanity, but I think I can sum it up more succintly:

    WHAT A PILE OF CRAP.

    What gives you the bloody right to take my money??!?!?!!?!

    I was BORN to poverty, and RAISED in poverty. and went to college on merit based scholarships.

    I have since worked VERY HARD to make the kind of money I make now (hovering just below six figures), and I hope to continue increasing my gross revenue.

    What gives you the bloody right to take my money??!?!?!!?!

    I'm getting sick and tired of people who try to make me guilty for the success that I have had, DUE ENTIRELY TO MY OWN HARD WORK.

    The poor in this country would be far better served by removing ALL domestic taxes and running the entire government on excise taxes and import duties, the way it was originally.

    Then, instead of being held in poverty from cradle to grave, the wonders of compound interest over a lifetime would permit them early retirement and a better life for their progeny.

    Instead, the thrice-be-damned politicians and their lap-dogs, the corporations (otherwise known as the liberal mass media conglomerates), continue to propagate the myth that they are HELPING people by taking their money away.

    Taxes don't hurt rich people, they hurt poor people. Rich people have enough extra money that its interest compounds naturally over time regardless -- poor people don't have enough left over after being taxed to death to earn the benefit of investment -- never mind the fact that current taxes (income tax) inherently DISCOURAGE investment and reward consumerism (guaranteeing that people stay poor).

    Get rid of corporations (<rhetorical question>what is a "legal person" anyway???</rhetorical question>), go back to making people who start a company/partnership personally liable, and have them sell bonds on a bonds market for capitalization (same advantages as a stock market, but without the legal fraud).

    </rant>

    you may now go back to your regularly scheduled mass market corporate liberal bias guilt-inducing mind control media





    PS:
    corporatism != capitalism
    corporatism == fascism

    and FASCISM == production socialism (the flip side of demand-socialism, ie, communism)



    --
    A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
    Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

    Thank You (none / 0) (#64)
    by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:59:54 AM EST

    'Nuff said

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (1.50 / 2) (#66)
    by blixco on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 12:02:47 PM EST

    I'm glad to see the other side chime in. Makes me happy. This is why places like k5 work...discussion. Never be afraid of discussion.

    As far as your post...you go right ahead, be as greedy and as Ayn Rand-ish as you want to be. That's fine. Your participation in this country so far has been minimal, and you're not helping your fellow man, and that's OK. It seems to work for you. Go with it. You'll be first against the wall, but for now....cool. I'm proud of your success.
    -------------------------------------------
    The root of the problem has been isolated.
    [ Parent ]
    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (1.00 / 1) (#72)
    by CodeWright on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 12:30:52 PM EST

    You'll be first against the wall, but for now....cool

    And that pretty much sums it up right there.

    If you don't hand over the products of your labor like a nice little slave, then you will be killed by a roving band of thugs, thanks for playing, don't come back. You should have paid the protection money / extortion racket.

    Pardon me while I retch.

    I guess I was under the mistaken impression that, in the USA, people were entitled to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

    But its so much easier to control a cowed populace if the people who don't meekly submit to having their hard earned wealth are just summarily executed. The other slaves won't get uppity that way.

    I thought that the idea, in the USA, was for the People (ie, ALL citizens) to, in their diversity, reach common ground through peacable and legal means -- not by threatening to kill people who disagree with a legal point.

    Of course, the whole socialist house-of-cards comes tumbling down if someone points out that the emporer has no clothes, that there might be people who don't WANT to give all their worldly possessions to "the people". The only alternative that the socialists have is to silence those people, forcibly.

    Now.... it's all well and good to say you'll kill me, but it always comes down to people just not liking being killed all that much, and the troublesome issue of them resisting when other people come to take their money, their home, their children, their wives, etc.

    Those are the times when people either meekly surrender or defend their liberty.

    You know, like in the 1760's.

    State sponsored robbery and terror have an inevitable quality to them. People will only bear so much.



    --
    A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
    Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (none / 0) (#75)
    by blixco on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 12:44:14 PM EST

    "I thought that the idea, in the USA, was for the People (ie, ALL citizens) to, in their diversity, reach common ground through peacable and legal means -- not by threatening to kill people who disagree with a legal point."

    Our government has proven otherwise. The activities presented are pretty much what the government sponsors here and abroad....we kill people that don't think like us. It's what we do. We're good at it.

    I'd just like to see it turned *against* them for a bit. Any good revolution will have casualties, and in a class war, the casualties will be the wealthy. I'd die too, if it's any consolation. Hopefully it will never come to that....and it won't if people try to change it. Quit helping only yourself. Help yourself and others. Why? Well, the consequences for the people you're not helping and the society around you are dire.

    Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Nice line. Great words. And we've *never* lived up to them. I want to, I really really do. I want life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to apply to everyone. And the difference here: you aren't doing anything to further the lives of anyone in the society that you live in. So when it all falls apart, will you blame me? Liberals? Socialists? Republicans? Taxes? Freedom? You've got a gun to your head already. The trigger doesn't have a finger on it yet...but any man is capable of killing when his children are starving, or when he perceives he doesn't get "enough" from the government and media that develop the image of "enough." It's not me lining you up against the wall, I'm not the one shaping your world. It's you. Your lack of passion for what this country *does* stand for, your lack of caring for anyone but yourself.
    -------------------------------------------
    The root of the problem has been isolated.
    [ Parent ]
    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (3.00 / 1) (#85)
    by CodeWright on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 01:19:06 PM EST

    Any good revolution will have casualties, and in a class war, the casualties will be the wealthy.

    Substitute "oppression" for "revolution", and you'd be closer to the truth.

    I'd die too, if it's any consolation.

    How is people dying supposed to be a consolation? I don't want ANYONE to die.

    Quit helping only yourself.

    Why? [it's entirely irrelevant to my point, or the conversation at hand, but contrary to repeated assertion, i DO care, and i DO help other people. VOLUNTARILY]

    Well, the consequences for the people you're not helping and the society around you are dire.

    In what way? If everyone minded their own business and didn't bother other people, how would that be bad? Sounds like Utopia to me!!!

    And the difference here: you aren't doing anything to further the lives of anyone in the society that you live in. So when it all falls apart, will you blame me? Liberals? Socialists? Republicans? Taxes? Freedom?

    It's simple. I don't "blame" people for things. Its not my business. When confronted by someone intending to do me physical harm, I defend myself. Other than that, I mind my own business. I'm not convinced that "it will all fall apart". I would rather that nobody gets hurt, and that goodwill prevails.

    but any man is capable of killing when his children are starving, or when he perceives he doesn't get "enough"

    So the proper way to obtain sustenance isn't (A) to work hard, whether at a job or actually hunting/farming food? it's (B) go kill someone and take their stuff?

    It's you. Your lack of passion for what this country *does* stand for, your lack of caring for anyone but yourself.

    I'm lining myself up against the wall? I don't think so. I'm minding my own business. If someone tries to line me up against a wall, it certainly isn't me doing the lining [i'll be the one doing the 'escaping' or, failing that, the 'self-defending'].

    My question is this: why is your answer to everything: "someone HAS to die"?



    --
    A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
    Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (none / 0) (#95)
    by blixco on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 01:43:27 PM EST

    Someone may have to die. It may come down to that. I truly believe that it will.

    Why? Hell, I can't explain it anymore. I've tried. The fact is, you've got blinders on. You'd rather ignore what isn't poking at you. If the sun isn't up, does it not exist? Logic, knowledge, your basic schooling tells you that yes, indeed, the sun is still out there.

    So you're doing great, you make money, you've got house and 2.1 kids. No other conditions exist? Logic, knowledge, basic schooling tells you that yes, indeed, other conditions exist. Why should you care? Because it may not be affecting you now, but the dissolving fabric that you stand on is being dissolved by your lack of caring. What have you done for your fellow man? What would you do for him?

    In the meantime, the parts of society you choose to ignore contain people violently tired of scraping by, working three or four jobs just to maintain a roof over their heads. Some of them are prepared to create a new society. Hell, some of them are just in it for the chaos. Some of them truly don't like the fact that you are comfortably sleeping while all around you is disease and death. Some of these guys just want to open your eyes. Some of them are in it for reasons you would never consider "right" or "correct," but they're preparing. They're fighting against media, government, and poverty. They're affecting social change. Some of 'em are quite scary.

    And others are being very VERY well paid to keep your eyes shut, keep the blinders firmly in place, and keep the weight of the world off your shoulders.

    I don't blame you at all. I think it would be easier to not care. I think it's a hell of a lot easier. It's far less scary. I like to think about a world where some crack fiend hasn't raped my wife. I like a place that exists without the government that created him, or the legal system that taught him how to behave. I'd like a world where his family cared for him, and he was offered the same opportunities I was. I'd like to sleep at night without thinking I created him.

    It sounds like a nice neighborhood that you live in. It sounds like a nice place to be. I wish to hell everyone was there with you. I really do.
    -------------------------------------------
    The root of the problem has been isolated.
    [ Parent ]
    Well, blixco, (4.00 / 1) (#103)
    by the coose on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 02:13:55 PM EST

    I've read this thread and some others where you've been chiming in on the supposedly inevitable doom that awaits those of us who have worked hard to get where we are today. Nevermind the charities that we've donated our time and monies to or our participation this countries' system. Yes it may need fixing in several aspects but I feel that that can be accomplished through more civil and intelligent approaches rather than the kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out kind of mentality. Nevermind the fact that I respect my neighbors, brothers, and sisters - respect there opinions and beliefs. Nevermind that I try to go out of my way to help someone in need when I can. Nevermind that I believe in the overall goodness of human beings and have faith in the future of mankind. Nevermind all that - but I got to know:

    What do you read, where do you come from, who are your friends...Where in the hell are you getting this from?!

    The environment you grow up in is what usually what makes someone the way he/she is. I would be interested to hear some facts...something...instead of the rhetorical crap that I've heard thus far. Your rhetoric is matched only by a most skilled politician's.

    [ Parent ]

    Rhetoric? Neat! (none / 0) (#105)
    by blixco on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 02:35:11 PM EST

    Rhetoric? Hrmmm...

    Anyhow. The revolution that I'm thinking will happen, that's based on observation and just gut feeling. It's based on discussions with groups of activists, it's based on discussions with groups of homeless, conversations with "criminals" and exiles. The usual. Where do you get your truths?

    The fact is, I really don't *want* the answer to be an armed revolution, but it probably will be. The only thing you can do to prevent it is to do what you've already done.... It sounds like you're trying to make a difference, trying to affect the world around you in a positive manner. Hell, even just a basic awareness that the system we live in is broken is better than blinding yourself to the suffering around you.

    You're doing what you can...all that you can...and that's good. That's a positive thing. And it might work, if enough people cared.

    But they don't. Not yet. We haven't lived up to the promise. There's a lot of momentum out there towards violence, and it's scary. But who knows. Nothing is set in stone.

    Hang out with some local activist groups. You'll start meeting people who really do mean it, who really take direct action. There used to be a group that went through the Appalachian every year and fed people, gave 'em clothes and books and helped out with repairs. There are ways to help, and ways to find out about the Movement.

    My background? Not too important. We were poor, my mother ate once every couple of days so that her two kids could eat. We had a house, but didn't have food, had no electricity once for a month. We weren't born poor...we ended up that way. And she worked three jobs to keep us off the streets. I won't ever forget that, nor will I forget the kindness of strangers or the cold, dead looks from some of the people around us.

    So there's that.
    -------------------------------------------
    The root of the problem has been isolated.
    [ Parent ]
    Re: Well, blixco, (none / 0) (#228)
    by meatpuppet on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 04:44:37 PM EST

    "What do you read, where do you come from, who are your friends...Where in the hell are you getting this from?!" There really ARE more out there like this. Why? Cuz capitalism sucks, and a lot of people my age (I'm guessing blix is close to my age) are pissed about it. Sometimes that pissed-ness leads them to join groups like the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade (like RATM), the Revolutionary Communist Party or some sort of anarchist group (not all anarchists feel this way). It's kinda funny, kinda creepy. Try doing a search for "Revolutionary Communist Party" on the web and you'll turn up similar "death to the rich!" rhetoric. I agree that a revolution is necessary, and may not be far off, but I don't think putting some hacker up against a wall for having a more comfortable lifestyle than me accomplishes anything. My beef is with those that exploit their workers, and I think there are better ways than violence to change the climate of the country. But that's me =)

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (none / 0) (#227)
    by meatpuppet on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 04:18:00 PM EST

    I agreed with blix completely except for the "Against the wall" thing. Some people take a good idea to weird extremes. Anywho, my only argument with the Libertarian stuff you're saying is that I don't agree that money==freedom. "I guess I was under the mistaken impression that, in the USA, people were entitled to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. " Two bits of semantic fun: one, that's in the Delaration of Independance, not the Constituion. Second, the original wording was "pursuit of property." This is the fundamental basis of the politico-economic structure of the US, which is why I, personally, think that, while there are a lot of good ideas embedded in our society, it mostly needs to be re-built from the ground up to include some measure of social justice for those of us who are exploited by our capitalist system (BTW, that almost certainly includes you, if you make <6 figures).

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (2.00 / 1) (#140)
    by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 08:55:21 PM EST

    "That's fine. Your participation in this country so far has been minimal, and you're not helping your fellow man, and that's OK."

    But he is, he is earning a lot of money and Im sure he is being taxed to death. He tax is going to help pay for welfare, medicare, and other entitlements. Maybe he should smoke too, to help pay for health care for children.

    You people fail to realize that the top 1% of wage earners, pay like 95% of all taxes.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (5.00 / 1) (#77)
    by jawessel on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 12:51:40 PM EST

    of course you work very hard, don't we all? it's nice that you make what you do. I don't want your money, but it would be nice ( and in fact, Adam Smith felt it was your duty as a beneficiary of the capitalist system ) if you cared.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (2.00 / 1) (#79)
    by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 01:05:55 PM EST

    jackass, fascism != communism

    fascism is merely a form of government where all aspects of said government are run as a business - that is, with profit being the bottom line.

    you should've learned that in the 10th grade.



    [ Parent ]
    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (none / 0) (#88)
    by CodeWright on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 01:30:19 PM EST

    you, sir, are the proverbial mule's hind end.

    i said:

    corporatism != capitalism
    corporatism == fascism

    and FASCISM == production socialism (the flip side of demand-socialism, ie, communism)

    if your head wasn't suffering from it's sojourn in an herbivorous colon during your scholastic career, you would understand that fascists are the socialists who have traditionally supported the production side (ie, property owners), as opposed to the socialists who have traditionally support the demand side (ie, labor). labor socialists are communists, property socialists are fascists. hence, the war between the fascists and the communists (NAZIs vs Reds) that continues to cause more death than any other historical force in history.



    --
    A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
    Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (none / 0) (#108)
    by Simian on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 02:57:58 PM EST

    I don't know where you learned your political theory, but I haven't heard the point you're making put in those terms before, and I think it confuses a few things.

    My take:

    production side != property owners

    If by property owners you mean capitalists, then the role they play in production is minimal. They profit from production, and control the management (but do not usually themselves manage) of production. If you mean property owners in a more common and general sense, then clearly they belong to the demand-side. Which leads to point deux:

    demand side != labor

    Only in comparatively prosperous times (which are hardly the rule in the capitalist economic cycle, present times not excepted) is labor a significant influence on economic demand. It is mostly the capitalists and their elected representatives (I mean managers a.k.a the 'middle classes' :) that drive demand.

    It seems to me that you are importing a few economic terms into a political discussion. Of course, I would be the last to say that they are unrelated areas, but the terminology is not interchangable. I've heard truly excellent cases made for the putatively 'communist' states of the twentieth century being 'state-capitalist' as opposed to 'socialist'.

    Let's try to be a bit more clear on the scope of our arguments. It's an important topic!




    "As I would not be a slave, so would I not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy." Abraham Lincoln
    [ Parent ]
    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (4.30 / 3) (#82)
    by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 01:11:20 PM EST

    I appreciate your comment very much and I respect what you say you have accomplished.

    Your success story reminds me of the "American dream". That is, you come to America with a dream, quite frequently to get rich, and overcome the horrible odds of doing so and become one of the few.

    The American dream reminds me a lot of winning the lottery. It's certainly different in that the odds are fixed in the lottery, but the psychology is similar. Sometimes, even though in theory anyone can succeed, the odds are stacked artificially against you. If you were of a darken skin tone fifty years ago, you had a much, much lower chance of winning than anyone else. In fact, that still holds true today. The free market isn't so free when the psychology and social factors come into play.

    I am highly for equality and justice and I do consider it my problem when my brothers and sisters are out on the street. The thing is, I don't think socialism and involvement of the government is the only way to solve these problems. In fact, I would go more along with the philosophy that as government takes responsibility for people, people will take less responsibility for themselves and others.

    Compassion and shame are very important human qualities. If you think that the only way that these can be exercised are through the government, and you dislike socialism and goverment control, please don't use that as an excuse for not having those qualities yourself. If anything, you are committing the same infraction of considering a corporation as a legal person, but you are applying that to government.

    Government, corporations, property -- these things are just ideas. They are myths. They take on real form because people pay attention to them and give them power. But since they don't actually exist, what happens is that people end up having power over other people. You become justified in thinking that some people ought to have power over others in order to protect the "common good". You would probably wan't the police to come and send that mother f*cker who stole your hard earned possessions direcly to jail. In that case, you are justifying the empowerment of government, and hence people, over others.

    When there isn't equality, justice is not possible. This includes economic equality. When so many people who have control over others think it's fair that they have all the money, do you think that's fair from the other perspective? There really isn't a fair playing field, as there isn't such a thing as a free market anyway. The market is another thing that is artificial and created, and it was done so using the power of government. Companies, markets, etc., are all built on the platform of the nation-state. The nation-state is racist by definition, and therefore, everything built on top of that platform will inherit many of those qualities, especially when there is a dependency. If the US were in trouble, your companies would be in trouble, because they are chartered, recognized, and legitimized by the US legal system.

    So, in conclusion, I agree very much with many of your points and believe that you deserve to reap the fruits of your effort. However, please don't insinuate that those who are down are there because of their own laziness or even desire. Certain people are better endowed to win at the highly competitive game and the rules that have been established for it. I encourage you not to propagate the myth that life is one big game, as I don't think any person deserves to lose at it. I'm not sure what I think besides government would solve that problem, but I don't think it's an either or, zero-sum proposition, so I hope to find a real solution.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (none / 0) (#184)
    by dkr on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 12:13:20 AM EST

    You liken becoming successful in America to winning the lottery.
    I think that lottery has already been decided at birth.(Well, perhaps not birth, I think we are partially Nature and partially Nurture) But the key factor, IMHO, is ability. The fact that I have an IQ in the top 2% means that barring some catastrophe I will never be needy in my life and will probably be defined as one of those 'successful' people.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (4.00 / 1) (#111)
    by baka_boy on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 03:15:16 PM EST

    Would you have made a damn cent of that money if the federal government had not supported the national infrastructure that makes life so easy in this country? Behind almosy every upper middle class 'libertarian' lies a self-serving hypocrite, only interested in saving their precious money. Oh, you earned your money, while someone with less opportunity who works two full time jobs for minumum wage hasn't?

    I was born in poverty, raised in poverty, and do my best to not think myself superior to everyone in a lower income bracket, because I remember how much that pissed me off back in the day, and because I know that just because I can afford rent and a cheap computer now, doesn't mean I'm guaranteed to have a damn thing next month.

    Does Bill Gates deserve to have more money than a few hundred million people put together? Hell, no. There is no way you can justify that to me. Can he justify holding on to more than any man and ten generations of decendant could possibly spend? No, most definately not. Do I think it should all be taken away from him, or from you, for that matter? No, of course not. It's all something for him to wrestle with, with only his conscience, belief or non-belief in an afterlife, and tax accountant for guidance.

    Your case may be special, but look at the general pattern: those who come from "good" (meaning nuclear, middle-class, traditional, white) families seldom have to struggle to suceed, while those who come from "difficult" (i.e., non-conformist, poor, minority, disabled) pasts have to claw their way to the top, one painful humiliating day at a time.

    And once they get to the top, (as you did) what all too often happens? They forget that the government payed for the public schooling that got them started on a real career, and that the taxes so "unfairly" charged everyone in this country kept the roads, hospitals, and city buses running so they could survive their poorest years.

    Maybe you were different in this, too -- perhaps you lived in the forest, ate what you could catch, and learned how to read and write by channelling the ghosts of famous writers...but I sincerely doubt it. So keep your money-grubbing hypocritical psuedo-philosophy the hell away from me.

    [ Parent ]

    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (none / 0) (#132)
    by CodeWright on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 07:35:57 PM EST

    Would you have made a damn cent of that money if the federal government had not supported the national infrastructure that makes life so easy in this country?

    Actually, I would have, since at least a quarter of my life has been lived OUTSIDE the United States of America. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

    Oh, you earned your money, while someone with less opportunity who works two full time jobs for minumum wage hasn't?

    If you read my post(s), you would see that I never said that they (meaning those poorer than myself) hadn't earned their money! They deserve the right to their hard-earned wages JUST AS MUCH AS I DO.

    In fact, I have said before (and will say again), that the current taxing structure in the US penalizes low-income earners MORE than high-income. I plow as much as my savings as possible into tax-deferred securities or mutual funds, which means that, at worst, I will be paying capital gains tax rather than income tax on the interest earned with those investments.

    People who can't afford to save enough money to invest are unable to take advantage of the unfair tax laws that the wealthy socialist robber-barons have legislated IN THE NAME OF THE POOR.

    They forget that the government payed for the public schooling that got them started on a real career, and that the taxes so "unfairly" charged everyone in this country kept the roads, hospitals, and city buses running so they could survive their poorest years.

    Personally, a large chunk of my schooling was either "home schooling" or "life-learning", plus a little bit of private schooling and public schooling.

    And I'm not against all taxes -- just those aimed at the redistribution of citizen wealth -- the necessary services that a government should provide could be easily financed through (A) import tariffs, (B) property taxes, and (C) use-based tax [example: the common citizen bears the brunt of the cost of maintaining the interstate highway system through gas taxes -- the majority of wear-and-tear on the highway system comes from heavily loaded trucks owned by corporations taking advantage of that "invisible subsidy". in a proper use-tax system, the heaviest users would be the heaviest tax-payers]

    Maybe you were different in this, too -- perhaps you lived in the forest, ate what you could catch, and learned how to read and write by channelling the ghosts of famous writers...but I sincerely doubt it.

    I lived for 5 years during my childhood in grass huts on various Pacific Islands with my family, caught fish & crabs to eat. I lived for a year in the former soviet union, where a portion of my food came from a garden where I broke the ground with my fingers and watered it by carrying water in a bucket from a river. As a child in the US, most of my food came from a garden that my family kept, and my father was a regular hunter/fisherman (we ate a lot of grouse, perch, & trout).

    Does that qualify? Or does my name have to be Tarzan?

    So keep your money-grubbing hypocritical psuedo-philosophy the hell away from me.

    That's cool. After all, my guiding philosophy is "mind your own business". In return, though, I say "let me keep my life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness". In other words, leave me alone too [don't take my money, or my life].



    --
    A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
    Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (none / 0) (#180)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 09:52:18 PM EST

    And I'm not against all taxes -- just those aimed at the redistribution of citizen wealth -- the necessary services that a government should provide could be easily financed through (A) import tariffs, (B) property taxes, and (C) use-based tax

    How is property tax any more equitable than income based tax? Explain.

    Import tariffs promote protectionism, prevent the creation of global free trade, and help keep poor nations poor. Is this your idea of helping the poor?

    I'm not sure whether you're for or against the poor. On one hand, you claim that the current system of taxation is unjust because it penalizes the poor more than the rich. If this is the case, then we need a better way of redistributing income and providing public services. But on the other hand, you're against the redistribution of wealth. Or perhaps you somehow think the public services can be provided for the poor without someone paying. Which is which? I think you're just confused.

    [ Parent ]

    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (none / 0) (#182)
    by CodeWright on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 10:47:57 PM EST

    How is property tax any more equitable than income based tax? Explain.

    That's easy! Ask me a hard question! :)

    Most poor people in this country have been forced by taxation into living in "rental" homes. Very few poor people own their own homes any more. But they still pay income taxes.

    If property were taxed (and, face it, the national defense forces are, fundamentally, defending geographical territory -- making property tax into a "land use tax"), then the landowners would bear the burden of supporting infrastructure local to their property (which their property depends on in any case) [examples: roads, emergency services, education, utilities, administration].

    As it is, the poor bear the burden of supporting the services of the corporatist wealthy. :/

    Import tariffs promote protectionism, prevent the creation of global free trade, and help keep poor nations poor. Is this your idea of helping the poor?

    Many other countries have oppressive regimes, forcing their citizens to work in near slave-like conditions to undersell domestic productive capability in other countries. By trading without tax barriers with those countries, it helps them to maintain their oppressive regimes (which they couldn't do without the influx of hard currency), and hurts domestic industry (by putting them out of business).

    I am all in favor in removing all trade "barriers" (ie, no embargoes, sanctions, etc), but I think that ALL imports should be tariffed, to help develop domestic industries (and help citizens of the country).

    To answer your question regarding helping the poor in other countries, I think that the best thing the US could do would be to completely open the borders. If the US works hard to protect domestic industry, but permits anyone from any other country to become an American, that encourages oppressed peoples from all over the world to leave their countries and come to the US (both to be "inside" the tariff umbrella, and to benefit from American freedoms).

    I'm not sure whether you're for or against the poor. On one hand, you claim that the current system of taxation is unjust because it penalizes the poor more than the rich. If this is the case, then we need a better way of redistributing income and providing public services. But on the other hand, you're against the redistribution of wealth. Or perhaps you somehow think the public services can be provided for the poor without someone paying. Which is which? I think you're just confused.

    I am strongly against the "redistribution of wealth". However, people cannot live outside society, and any society requires governance (which costs money). So, in my mind, the best way to meet the costs of governance is through "use-based-taxes". In other words, people who use a government service, pay for it. The landowners pay for the infrastructure required to service and administrate their land (ie, roads and land ownership registration), the court users pay for use of the courts (ie, somebody sues somebody else; the LOSER pays the legal fees of both sides, plus the cost to convene the court), etc, etc, etc.

    In most cases, the poor are the smallest consumers of the "public commons" (that is, as long as you don't have a welfare state set up to "buy votes"). The biggest abusers of the "public commons" (like trucking companies with roads, cattle ranchers with the prairie, etc), currently escape the costs incurred by their businesses, but would bear that cost in a use-tax system (although they would get a trade-off by being protected from foreign competition through trade tariffs).

    I'm not confused at all. In fact, I spend a great deal of time thinking about these very issues.



    --
    A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
    Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (none / 0) (#189)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 04:46:27 AM EST

    It is unclear to me what your position is. You say that you are against redistribution of wealth, but yet you profess to be concerned about the welfare of the poor. Your idea that eradicating income tax will lift the poor out of poverty is incredibly naive: if you earn only $1000 a month, you have at most $1000 a month, even if income taxes were completely abolished - saving doesn't do much good when you're hopelessly poor.

    Perhaps you do not understand what redistribution of wealth means. It refers to the provision of public services to the poor (like public schools), funded in proportion to your wealth. It is compulsory charity, so to speak.

    Perhaps you do not feel so charitable. Very well. But in that case you cannot pretend to be acting for the benefit of the poor.

    Many other countries have oppressive regimes, forcing their citizens to work in near slave-like conditions to undersell domestic productive capability in other countries. By trading without tax barriers with those countries, it helps them to maintain their oppressive regimes (which they couldn't do without the influx of hard currency), and hurts domestic industry (by putting them out of business).

    Import tariffs (and their kin, sanctions) never topple dictatorial regimes. They merely serve to hurt the poorest (whom you pretend to care so much about).

    And the fact is that import tariffs are used for protectionist ends -- which in the long run, benefits no one because protected industries become flaccid and uncompetitive.

    [ Parent ]

    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (3.00 / 1) (#120)
    by scooter1km on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 04:15:34 PM EST

    So....

    Well you seem to forget a few things:

    There are millions of people in America living paycheck to paycheck. These people have almost no savings are are living day to day hoping that no one in their family will get sick because they couldn't afford a trip to the hospital. A tax break for the poor wouldn't give them a ton of cash so they could reinvest it in GE or a few mutual funds, it would help them pay of debts and maybe afford health care coverage for their families.

    I was BORN to poverty, and RAISED in poverty.

    Well I'm not going to pretend to know what kind of life you lived, but it's ignorant to think that you deserve more money than poorer Americans do because you work hard. That's bull. For one, there are a lot of people out there busting their asses for just more than minimum wage. I am going to graduate college soon, and I know that I am going to make twice as much money as my mom but probably only work half as hard. I hope that I never take my well-being for granted. "Hard work" is a bullshit excuse that the upper class uses to justify making a living off at the expense of others.
    Second, being paid well in America is hardly a function of hard work, it's about opportunities and resources. And yes, there are the few success stories. But for the most part, people living in poverty in America see no hope of escaping and just try to get by. Schools need to be better funded and we need to work on bringing jobs back to de-industrialized cities in America. Unfortunatly, there are no lobbying groups for people living in inner cities.

    BTW, I do respect your opinion and think that it's much better to have some opinion on this than to be ignorant.

    -scooter
    scooter

    "There can be no daily democracy without daily citizenship." - Ralph Nader
    [ Parent ]

    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (2.00 / 1) (#126)
    by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 06:14:39 PM EST

    What gives you the bloody right to take my money??!?!?!!?!

    Wrong question.

    Right question: What gives you the bloody right to take our resources?



    [ Parent ]
    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (none / 0) (#134)
    by CodeWright on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 07:40:09 PM EST

    What gives you the bloody right to take our resources?

    I don't take anything from anyone. I exchange worth for worth (I work hard and trade the fruits of my labor for the fruits of other people's labor).

    Socialists, on the other hand, justify theft.



    --
    A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
    Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (none / 0) (#150)
    by Nyarlathotep on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 12:46:46 AM EST

    It's not the exchange that's interesting. It's the consumption of natural resources like oxygen, water, oil, gas, land, radio frequencies, etc. Remember, the government could demolish Microsoft's headcorters to build a road.

    I'd say regulatin of these things provides a pretty powerful justification for some socialism. I suppose these things can *not* justify our current government, but they should give the poor people and middle class a LOT of power.

    Actually, there is some potential their for an interesting form of government. You could force the money out of government thus reducing the rich people's influence, but keep the poor people from just taxing away all the rich people's money *directly* with some constitutional ammendments. Now, the poor people could restrict the rich people's use of resources pretty seriously, but the rich would have plenty of room to breath, i.e. no income tax.

    Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
    [ Parent ]
    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (none / 0) (#179)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 09:32:50 PM EST

    <i>I don't take anything from anyone. I exchange worth for worth (I work hard and trade the fruits of my labor for the fruits of other people's labor). </i>

    Have you heard of public goods? Who pays for national defense, public schools (which you probably benefited from if you started out as poor as you claim), etc. etc. etc.???


    [ Parent ]
    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (none / 0) (#154)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 03:20:48 AM EST

    I agree with a good portion of your argument. However, I am curious, what do you do exactly for your income?
    I sense some bitterness and fear in your approach to this.
    I suspect that you are trying to justify something in your own mind?
    As for corporations. My thoughts have been inflenced by the writings posted at the urls below.

    http://www.poclad.org/
    http://www.bfi.org/grunch_of_giants1.htm


    [ Parent ]
    Re: Two Cents. MY Two Cents. (none / 0) (#161)
    by CodeWright on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 10:09:33 AM EST

    I agree with a good portion of your argument. However, I am curious, what do you do exactly for your income?

    I'm a software engineer / systems architect.

    I sense some bitterness and fear in your approach to this.

    Hrm. I think, perhaps, that anyone advocating a "change" is motivated, to a certain extent, by frustration (bitterness??) and discomfort (fear??) at the "way-things-are" with whatever system they want to "change".

    If that is the context in which you "sensed" those things, I suppose I would concur. If you meant something more sinister, like paranoid delusions or something, I would have to disagree. :P :)

    I suspect that you are trying to justify something in your own mind?

    Hrm. Again, depending on the context of your question, it could be relevant or not.

    Because I never presume to think that I "know everything", I am always trying to further refine my knowledge and to test the things I already think I know.... hoping for a clearer insight into "the-way-things-are".

    However, if you mean "you aren't sure of what you are saying, and are just trying to talk yourself into it at the same time as you are trying to talk us into it", I would have to say that I disagree -- I stand firmly and confidently behind what I have stated.

    As for corporations. My thoughts have been inflenced by the writings posted at the urls below.

    I went to the websites and spent some time reading what they had to say. I recognize and laud the caution that 'poclad' recommends regarding corporations, but I find that I do not agree with their characterization of "corporatism" and "capitalism" as being synonomous. Their quotation of Eugene Debs (founder of the American Communist Party, though they don't mention that fact), gives hint as to their political intent. The "grunch" website seemed slightly incoherent in its description of global conspiracy -- though, I would agree that there are international interests dedicated to the control and subjugation of the human race; I would just attribute it to the Global Communist Conspiracy (*insert tongue firmly in cheek*). :)



    --
    A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
    Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

    [ Parent ]
    Some truths are truer than others.... (3.00 / 1) (#61)
    by deathboy on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:48:07 AM EST

    The fact is, even Americans who are on the receiving end of the big shaft have too much to lose to screw with the system. That could change; then The People might actively work for change. But right now, being a prole in America is tolerable enough that people are going to put up with it.

    Re: Some truths are truer than others.... (none / 0) (#139)
    by baka_boy on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 08:53:53 PM EST

    People who have the most to lose in America are being told every day that they can't do anything about it. Popular media tells them to be good consumers, and just keep working and spending. The government says to play nice, and keep the economy strong and the unemployment rate down. Experience tells them that life is just going to suck sometimes. There are very few places where one is told that it's okay to be poor, or that not being interested in nice new clothes and shiny things is normal, or that you don't have to try to impress people with posessions.

    As much of a dedicated athiest as I may be, I really lament the loss of strong religious tendencies by so much of the Western world. Before, at least the poor had an idyllic afterlife to look forward to, or the promise that the oppressed and the pious would be the most loved and respected. Now, there's little nobility to being poor.

    [ Parent ]

    Unions? (4.00 / 5) (#76)
    by slycer on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 12:46:30 PM EST

    * Less than one in ten workers belongs to a trade union in the private sector.

    This IMHO is a good thing. I was in a union, I am no longer, here is my experience.(this was all in Canada)

    UNION:
    -Get set increase in pay once per year. This is based on seniority, how many years etc
    -Get set benifits, ie x amount to health care/dental/etc
    -Get a fairly good degree of job security, ie slack off all you want, without some DAMNED good stats against you, you will not lose your job, I have seen cases where a person was fired, they "grieved" it and they got their job back. This person used to swear at customers, thumb their noses at management, basically total jackass that made MY job much harder (I was a co-worker)
    -Apply on a union job outside of your current one, if you don't have more seniority, you don't get the job. Again, I have seen cases where people with absolutely NO experience in the job they are going for get it, based solely on seniority. I have seen areas attempt to give a union job to a more qualified, less senior person, have it grieved, have to tell the person that they can't have the job, and give it to the more senior person

    NON-UNION:
    -Pay increase still happens once per year, based on performance, not on seniority, can be different for one person over another person of the same "rank"
    -Benifits (at least at this company) are totally different, get a percentage of money based on salary per year, you decide where that goes, x dollars into dental or not etc. One of the options is if you have any money left over, you can put it directly (ie no tax) into RRSP's
    -No job security, you screw up, you can get fired, conversly, much less attention to "stats" or time in the office than on the union side, much more open work environment
    -Jobs awarded based on whether or not you qualify, seniority not looked at

    I will NEVER go back to a union. The company I work for recently merged with a company that just about every position is unionized. There is talk that MY job may be sucked into this gaping hole. The day that happens is the day I walk out the door.

    Class warfare: tyranny of numbers (3.50 / 2) (#84)
    by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 01:16:40 PM EST

    An old First Things issue highlights Nicholas Eberstadt's 1995 study "The Tyranny of Numbers: Mismeasurement and Misrule". We read that "40 percent of the officially poor in America own their own homes, 72 percent have washing machines, 60 percent own microwave ovens, 92 percent have color television sets, and 72 percent own one or more cars. Most of today's officially poor have a standard of living that twenty-five years ago was considered middle-or lower-middle class." Measuring income alone is a statistical fallacy that does not take into account government benefits, subsidies, philantropy, tax credits and other unrecorded goodies. Evaluating the poor based on their consumption, on the other hand, perhaps better states their standard of living.

    I also wonder what the income gap is supposed to indicate morally. Apart from an irrational excuse for class warfare, it does not tell us much. Perhaps the gap is large because the US is free enough that we are free to excel. Unhindered by regulations, those who are obsessed enough about money and less interested in "having a life" are free to earn it. And yes, much of today's wealth is earned. And a certain minority are very, very good at earning money. So what? Let's not allow envy to get the better of us.

    Chris

    Re: Class warfare: tyranny of numbers (3.00 / 1) (#87)
    by blixco on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 01:26:34 PM EST

    It's not envy. Who wants your money? You do. I just want your action. I want you to help the country, to help the society that you are intent on ignoring in pursuit of your self-righteous goals.

    Help people. Help yourself and help others. Damn. Why is this so hard to understand? This country can be exactly what it promises, but it takes people doing it, not reliance on the government or on the other guy.

    "Unhindered by regulations, those who are obsessed enough about money and less interested in "having a life" are free to earn it. " When have you been unhindered by regulation? This place is built on regulations. And trust me, every starving kid I've ever fed is really intent on making money, and not on having a life. You really think some kid in Appalachia wants free time? Wants leisure? He wants food. He would like running water that didn't contain heavy metals. He would like the freedom that you enjoy. He wants what we all want.

    Pay zero attention to statistics. Pay attention to the people around you. Spend some time in the trenches. Get some dirt under your fingernails. Then try not to defend the people of this country, the working poor, the guy on the street.
    -------------------------------------------
    The root of the problem has been isolated.
    [ Parent ]
    Re: Class warfare: tyranny of numbers (3.00 / 1) (#94)
    by CodeWright on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 01:42:17 PM EST

    It's not envy. Who wants your money? You do. I just want your action.

    Fine. You want my action. Just because you want something, doesn't mean you can have it. If you want my action, offer something to me in return which I will value equivalently to the time I give you. In other words, trade with me.

    But don't try to force me to give you my action. Because you can't. The only thing you can do is kill me. You can't make me do anything I don't want to do.

    Help people. Help yourself and help others. Damn. Why is this so hard to understand? This country can be exactly what it promises, but it takes people doing it, not reliance on the government or on the other guy.

    I agree 100% with that statement.



    --
    A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
    Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Class warfare: tyranny of numbers (3.00 / 1) (#96)
    by blixco on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 01:48:44 PM EST

    The only thing I can offer you in return in gratitude for the help you can give to your fellow american.

    It's not tangible. IIt's not money. You're not interested.

    By the way, do you actually have Ayn Rand *memorized,* or are your opinions based on the rose colored life you've led?
    -------------------------------------------
    The root of the problem has been isolated.
    [ Parent ]
    Re: Class warfare: tyranny of numbers (4.00 / 1) (#101)
    by CodeWright on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 02:08:27 PM EST

    The only thing I can offer you in return in gratitude for the help you can give to your fellow american. It's not tangible. IIt's not money. You're not interested.

    Given a particular thing that you might want done, that would be sufficient compensation. Chances are though, since I do things like that already, that I'm already doing those things for my fellow american that I feel are worth that gratitude.

    If you have a personal agenda that you want me to do, above and beyond those things I already do by choice, you would have to offer me something additional.

    By the way, do you actually have Ayn Rand *memorized,* or are your opinions based on the rose colored life you've led?

    My opinions are my own, hard won through a great deal of adversity, thought, and concern for the lot of mankind. The small amount of Ayn Rand that I have read left me feeling that she had some bright ideas, but was NOT a very good writer.



    --
    A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
    Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

    [ Parent ]
    The fallacy of reported income (3.50 / 2) (#93)
    by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 01:40:27 PM EST

    I forgot to mention one more fallacy of income-based measures: it has to be reported. Many lower-income jobs offer a certain advantage from a tax evasion perspective. For example, a waiter is paid both tips and wages. Unlike his base wage, where tax is withheld by his employer, informal tips are paid in cash by the customer. Tips need to be reported at tax time before the tax is computed and paid. Our hero needs to pay tax only on the tips he reports, and can reduce his tax bill by reporting little or no tip income. Earning money tax free is a nice income boost, but it does screw up reported income statistics. We know that tips make up a large part of a waiter's income. Chris

    [ Parent ]
    Re: The fallacy of reported income (2.00 / 1) (#99)
    by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 02:05:05 PM EST

    ...which is only relevant if the US has way more waiters per capita than the countries you're comparing it with.

    People, people. It sucks to be poor in the US. Face it. If you don't agree, could you show me to another first world country where it would suck worse?

    [ Parent ]

    Re: The fallacy of reported income (3.00 / 1) (#106)
    by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 02:45:52 PM EST

    No, the tax and tip structure in the US can be quite different from other countries. My visiting parents are shocked when told that a tip of at least 15% is expected on top of the food bill. Other countries might throw in a mandatory service charge rather than have the customers voluntarily and informally offer the rather substantial tip. And the US sets its own poverty line. The point remains: the poor are not necessarily as poor as you think based on reported income.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: The fallacy of reported income (3.50 / 2) (#138)
    by baka_boy on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 08:43:28 PM EST

    As it is, the pain of poverty is only in small part physical; the remainder is psychological. That pain comes from the stares of the businessmen on the subway, as they watch you closely to make sure you're not eyeing their briefcase; it comes from the taunts your children receive at school, because their clothes came from thrift stores or older siblings; and it comes from the constant barrage of pro-consumtion advertising, meticulously crafted to appeal to the human psyche, telling you that life would be great if only you had the latest XYZ product.

    However, the poor are reminded every day of how unacceptable they are, because they aren't driving the latest model of minivan and buying nice shoes. Humans are social creatures, and the opinions of our fellows matter. That is why America is a miserable place to be poor: we preach a message of wealth-as-worth that permeates almost every aspect of our society. If humans had no empathy, and drew no value from how others perceived them, we would be animals; then, it might not matter whether we were poor or rich, so long as we had food and shelter.

    [ Parent ]

    Re: The fallacy of reported income (4.00 / 1) (#142)
    by hypatia on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 10:08:56 PM EST

    Other countries might throw in a mandatory service charge rather than have the customers voluntarily and informally offer the rather substantial tip.

    In Australia, tipping is sometimes done (generally at 10%). However much it is appreciated it is not expected, at least not where I eat. It is extremely common not to tip at all.

    There was a push recently to introduce taxation of 'expected income from tips', which was decried because it would then lead to a strong expectation of tipping (like in the US), because otherwise the waiting staff would be taxed on income they didn't earn.

    At the moment, casual waiting staff in Austraklia receive (I think) a high award compared to in the US, because tips are much smaller. And this income would be paid through the taxation system about as often as any other casual wage is (I'm not sure of black market employment figures).



    [ Parent ]
    Re: Class warfare: tyranny of numbers (1.00 / 1) (#153)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 02:40:26 AM EST

    We the fallacy of numbers oppressed by the few with wealth
    will rise up and destroy the current system. Mark my words- the imbalance in wealth will be rectified by the force of our numbers. Remember Rodney King? That was just a little precursor of is going to happen if our racist, oppresive drug warring society does not learn from the past.





    "Let them eat cake"



    [ Parent ]
    Re: Class warfare: tyranny of numbers (1.00 / 1) (#162)
    by CodeWright on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 10:14:21 AM EST

    If all the radical liberals keep spouting this class-war crud, then why do they want to take away guns from the Common Man????

    I mean, for crying out loud, how is the "proletariat" supposed to "rise up" in a "common brotherhood" of "socialist labor", if the friggin liberals take all their guns away?????



    --
    A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
    Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Class warfare: tyranny of numbers (none / 0) (#221)
    by crizh on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 08:21:48 AM EST

    This post raises an interesting point in my mind.

    Its not my hard and fast opinion but a theory that seems fairly sound to me.

    Poverty does not have much to do with income which is what most of the posts in this thread seem to be focused on.

    Poverty is caused by spending more than you earn. The truly poor are those that don't earn enough to pay for the basic necessities of survival (food, clean water, basic medical care) the relatively poor are those that earn enough to survive but not enough to afford the 'average' lifestyle of their society.

    What traps the relatively poor is the lack of education in money management and the constant barrage of advertising that tells them that they need x,y & z products to be happy.

    The end result is people that don't know any better spend more than they can afford on products they don't really 'need' and at the end of every month the money has run out with the result that they never accumulate any savings (capital) and so do not have the opportunity of starting their own business (I'm assuming that 100% of the wealthy 1% started out as owner/operators of small business' that grew), the traditional path to economic success in the US.


    To give a, somewhat extreme, example, where I live I fairly regularly come into contact through my work with streetwalking prostitutes. I'm poor, struggling desperately to make ends meet but by no means impovorished and certainly nowhere near as poor as the girls I see walking the streets at night.

    But take a guess who earns more. If I earned as much as these girls I'd be paying 40% income tax (I live in Scotland) and I wouldn't care 'cos I'd be rich (sort of).

    Poverty has NOTHING to do with how much you earn its how much you spend that defines whether you are rich or poor.

    Drawing a line on an income scale and saying 'this is the poverty line, everyone that earns less than this is poor' is a pointless and meaningless exercise.



    Warning Newbie: Please do not flame, rather teach me better
    Danger Newbie (please do not flame, rather educate)
    [ Parent ]
    This really frosts me (3.11 / 9) (#92)
    by KindBud on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 01:36:20 PM EST

    The top one percent of the richest Americans have wealth equal to the combined wealth of 95% of other Americans...

    So? And? I see this quoted often, but I never see any mention of how that top 1% got to where they are, or why the spread isn't narrower (or wider). Nor is there any argument presented about whether or why this is good or bad or indifferent - no opinion or analysis about what this means is suggested at all. It seems to be assumed by the people who throw out these kind of figures that in the USA's entitlement-oriented political environment, the mere quoting of statistics like this is enough. Enough for what - not sure about that, but I'm guessing it is intended to promote increased support for more redistribution of wealth by the government.

    And I haven't even gotten to the question of whether this statistic bears any resemblance to fact.

    Twenty percent of American children live in poverty; in the Netherlands that figure is three percent.

    Again - so? Are the purveyors if this information trying to tell us something? They never mention what it is, but the implication seems to be that I should conclude that the US system stinks compared to the Netherland's system. I guess I am now supposed to support efforts to make the US more like the Netherlands, whatever that means. They never bother to include nagging details like whether or not a Netherlands-like system is practical or desirable in the US. Nor do they mention what the Netherlands do to achieve this. Perhaps they shoot poor people over there - how should I know?

    The minimum wage today is lower, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than in 1979.

    And today we enjoy the lowest unemployment rate since 1979. Are these two items connected in some way? Maybe they are, but that question is never asked when this old saw is trotted out again and again.

    Today's worker works 160 hours longer per year than 25 years ago.

    Boo-hoo. Maybe there's more work to do. There is, after all, twice as many people in the US than there was 25 years ago, and in that time, the US economy has shifted in the direction of services. Maybe more consumers creates more work in the service sectors. I do not find this surprising in the least.

    Oh, and those extra hours are almost always paid at time and a half.... Maybe people work longer to increase their paycheck - what a concept! More work, more pay.

    Bill Gates' wealth ...

    Now I know what this is all about. This is baiting-the-poor, pure and simple. I need not go on....

    --
    just roll a fatty

    Statistics Aside (none / 0) (#115)
    by Srin Tuar on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 03:48:02 PM EST

    Well, you are correct that statistics can be very slippery. It is very hard
    to measure standard of living in numerical terms to show a trend,
    and statistics can be used to bolster either side of the issue.

    However, there is a grain of truth to the tone of the message.
    The disparity between the rich & the poor is widening. Personal time
    is evaporating as people have to work more just to keep up. Its
    almost a requirement that both husband and wife have a job these days,
    because they cannot earn enough if only the husband works. (This was
    not always the case.)

    Consumersim cannot mask the loss of personal time. You cannot
    survive in the USA without a car, plumbing, electricity, color television,
    and a telephone. In some areas, it is nearly impossible to make it through
    high school without a personal computer. A person who tries to make a living
    without these consumer goods will find themselves shunned, labeled,
    and marginalized by society. These consumer goods then consume
    a large portion of family income. Combined with regressive taxes such as
    social security, corporate welfare, and the ignorance of the population at large,
    the individual American is becoming poorer in many ways, to the benefit of the few.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Statistics Aside (none / 0) (#193)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 04:31:25 PM EST

    Consumersim cannot mask the loss of personal time. You cannot survive in the USA without a car, plumbing, electricity, color television, and a telephone. In some areas, it is nearly impossible to make it through high school without a personal computer. A person who tries to make a living without these consumer goods will find themselves shunned, labeled, and marginalized by society. These consumer goods then consume a large portion of family income. Combined with regressive taxes such as social security, corporate welfare, and the ignorance of the population at large, the individual American is becoming poorer in many ways, to the benefit of the few.

    I have to disagree with you. I have never seen a teacher not make accommadations for students who don't have computers at home. All my teachers have said if you don't have a computer, talk to them, so they don't penalize you for it. A lot of schools have computer labs or computers in libraries. If consumerism is too harsh on a family, they can move to any number of small cities where they won't feel so pressured. Most families want up their neighbors and collegues, so it all becomes a vicious circle. If a family thinks keeping with everyone is too hard, MOVE! If thats too hard, put up and shut up!



    [ Parent ]
    Re: This really frosts me (3.50 / 2) (#118)
    by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 04:01:42 PM EST

    Oh, and those extra hours are almost always paid at time and a half.... Maybe people work longer to increase their paycheck - what a concept! More work, more pay.

    Cool.

    I guess.

    Except that I've never gotten time-and-a-half for hours worked past 40 each week, and I'm averaging, oh, 55-60 hours/week. And I've been part of the workforce for almost 10 years now.

    Boy, it would be nice if your statement were true.

    [ Parent ]

    Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics (3.25 / 8) (#97)
    by drivers on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 01:52:59 PM EST

    Ok, this article is complete bullshit. I don't care if I agree with the political slant or not... people tend to gather up ideas that support the ideas they already have. Critical thinking, (aka bullshit detection), is a powerful thing. (See also: _Why People Believe Weird Things_ by Michael Shermer) "The minimum wage today is lower, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than in 1979" What does this mean? If you graph inflation-adjusted minimum wage, was 1979 a high point, and minimum wage has been lower the whole time? I don't know, but this statistic by it self means NOTHING. "Today's worker works 160 hours longer per year than 25 years ago." Is that an average (or is that an average?) of all people, all workers, or all full time workers? If more people are joining the work force or working full time instead of part time this would change the statistics. (more women work now than they did 25 years ago... also more women work full time as opposed to full time compared to 25 years ago) Basically there is no explanation of the statistics, or even sources. I don't really care about one side of the political argument or the other... but intentionally misleading people pisses me off.

    The pursuit of happiness (3.75 / 4) (#109)
    by c.jaeger on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 02:59:33 PM EST

    Stop and think why wealth, health, freedom, education, and personal possessions are accruing to a few people. In my opinion it is largely because only a few are willing to take risks with their time and money on a risky scheme that requires persistent and consistent work in our environment of capitalistic free enterprise to yield stellar benefits.

    I stand with those who challenge the mindset of entitlement and socialism, communism, fascism I've seen recently. In fact I agree a lot with a talk radio station commentor I listened to yesterday. This commentator (Jerry Agar) has a very applicable article available here.

    One of his quotes is...

    I don't think government, acting on our behalf, has the right to redistribute income to ensure an equality of outcome.

    The more a person earns, the more the government takes. The less a person contributes the more the government gives. That contribution is penalized and failure to contribute is rewarded is a system so wrong, it should be self-evident.

    BTW, I recently was rewarded with a $1,000 bonus for work I did. My paycheck only increased by ~$560 though largely because of government taxes.

    How can I fund efficient and well-run shelters/ministries/charities/social causes when legally empowered inefficient bureaucracies are more entitled to my income than I am?
    --c.jaeger
    My opinions are strictly those of a digithead swimming against the tide of mediocrity espoused by: hammernoodles, knuckleheads, and induhviduals.

    Re: The pursuit of happiness (4.66 / 3) (#122)
    by DontTreadOnMe on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 04:47:16 PM EST

    I don't think government, acting on our behalf, has the right to redistribute income to ensure an equality of outcome.

    This entire philosophy ignores the inherent relationship between wealth and power. It is this relationship which leads to the extremes cited in this article, where some two percent of the population ends up controlling 98% of the wealth while the rest of us are left to fight over (read: rat race) the remaining 2%.

    Try starting a business in Chicago. It can be done, if you're extremely clever or happen to be doing work in an area the local aldermen haven't learned how to gouge just yet. The labrynth of permits one must wade through is appalling, and designed to favor existing businesses at the expense of startups. The squeeze is painful, the beurocracy incompetent, etc. Unless you know somebody with influence, or are yourself already established and wealthy. Then it suddenly becomes easy (I speak with personal experience on this).

    Young entrepreneurs trying to sell goods on the street are often harassed and run off by cops for not playing this sick political game, often with their merchandise seized in the process. And no, contrary to the stereotypes likely to be bandied about here, the goods were not "stolen", they simply hadn't paid the local squeeze or bought off the cops.

    In short, the powerfully rich can and do slant the entire legal structure of the country to favor them and disfavor enveryone else. You see it in the tax code (income tax is graduated, but most of the wealthy earn comparatively little income as opposed to capital gains, which is taxed at a much lower rate -- and I include myself in this BTW), in many of the regulatory laws, and so forth.

    They can and do use their wealth to make it harder for anyone else to achieve what they have achieved, in effect using their wealth to buy legislation, barter influence, and close off the very avenues of success they used from everyone else.

    Until a way is found to mitigate the influence and power that money confers (good luck!) we cannot rely on the free market to redistribute wealth and must, to some extent, "take from the rich" and redistribute back to society, either in the form of infrastructure and public works, or more directly in the form of tax credits and incentives. This doesn't have to be done in the context of "socialism" if you find that notion offensive. Call it "balancing the marketplace" if that makes you feel better -- the market place is hardly free as it stands, it is simply designed to favor the haves over the have-nots, which is a problem leading to a lot of the imbalances we see today. It must, in some fashion, be balanced at some point, or the entire structure will collapse (at the latest when some small percentage controls 99.999% of the wealth, instead of merely 98%). It won't need violent revolution to collapse, either, simply, fundamental economics will suffice.


    --
    http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
    [ Parent ]

    Re: The pursuit of happiness (2.00 / 1) (#131)
    by CodeWright on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 07:12:59 PM EST

    I agree wholeheartedly with the first part of your analysis of the situation, but I disagree strongly with your conclusions.

    If those city aldermen didn't have the authority to extort protection money, backed by the implied and real violence of the police force, then the "rat race" would be on a lot more even field.

    In other words, those corrupt few can only maintain their hold on the capital because it is "ill-gotten gains". They are NOT capitalists -- they are socialists (production side - in a word, fascists) who use the threat of a state monopoly on violence to preserve their "legal" but immoral theft.

    If there was no way to "legislate" those kinds of things (ie, if that power had not been usurped from the people), then it couldn't be taken advantage of.



    --
    A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
    Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

    [ Parent ]
    Re: The pursuit of happiness (3.50 / 2) (#137)
    by baka_boy on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 08:32:01 PM EST

    Capitalism, in its fullest sense, is every bit as unworkable and theoretical a system as communism or anarchy. It implies a state of perfect competition with which none of us would be very comfortable, and requires that everyone play by the appropriate rules in order to be effective. Human nature (greed, opportunism, dishonesty, prejudice) makes those rules impossible to inforce without a well-funded overseeing body, (read: government) which in turn cannot exist without impeding competition.

    To put it differently, ponder this simple question. How do you propose to make money a valid system at all without a government? What exactly, assuming a lack of police, legislative bodies, and courts, would prevent people from simply taking whatever they want from anyone else? Pure physical force? That doesn't exactly sound like the social utopia you seem to imply...in fact, it sounds a lot more like your average pre-literate oppressive warlord's means of "doing business".

    Capitalism is a great way to make all those ticker-tape numbers go up and up. As an economic system, it makes perfect sense, and has shown a lot of sucess around the world. However, financial gains are not societal gains, despite what the evening news may tell you. Paper money is an abstract concept which was invented by governments as a means of raising funds for warfare. While it serves a useful purpose in exchanging goods and services across time and distance, do not forget that is its only purpose.

    Economics have their place in social policy, since little can be had in this day and age for labor or barter alone; the total wealth of a population, however, should not be the highest indicator of its success. Rather, we should look at the happiness, health, and success of its poorest, most disadvantaged members, and see if they are truly better off than those in another nation.

    [ Parent ]

    Re: The pursuit of happiness (3.00 / 1) (#141)
    by CodeWright on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 09:53:34 PM EST

    I don't recall saying anything to the effect that there shouldn't be "government".

    If you look at my other posts in this thread, you will note that most of my recommendations are in the form of alternative taxation mechanisms (ie, instead of punishing investment vis-a-vis income tax, discourage rampant consumerism vis-a-vis sales/use-taxes).

    If taxation and legislation are restricted in scope (especially if all legislation had built-in auto-termination clauses that required a whole new bill to be passed into law for the legislation to live beyond the time limit defined in its original enactment), then most of the problems related to bizarre abuses of a ridiculously convoluted body-of-law would go away.

    In no way do I advocate a non-existance of government. I'm just contending that the current tottering bureaucracy is in a runaway feedback state and needs to be halted, cleaned up, and have a "brake retread".

    The US Constitution is still one of the best damn documents to have ever been written.

    Capitalism fits into the whole mix as a guiding philosophy; not a form of governance. If "Capitalism" carries too much baggage, think of it as "mind your own business". If everyone minded their own business, life truly would be a Utopia!

    The reality, of course, is that some people always try to hurt/cheat/kill others. A government exists to protect its citizens from people who would do that.

    From a minimalist perspective, the Federal government would provide for national defense (protect citizens from non-citizens who don't play nice), a judiciary (protect citizens from other citizens who don't play nice). Other than that, civil-courts/common-law/contract-law/arbitration currently takes care of most fraud type conflict, and would continue to do so.

    In other words, I advocate scrapping "regulatory" law, which isn't even constitutional to begin with. And, of course, the entire welfare state is a construct of regulatory law.



    --
    A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
    Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

    [ Parent ]
    Re: The pursuit of happiness (3.00 / 1) (#199)
    by baka_boy on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 09:23:38 PM EST

    I think that our primary disagreement is still centered around what the goals and purpose of a government are. You cite the Constitution as the crowning example of quality political ethos; I say that you are right. See the reference to: "...life, liberty, and the pursuit of hapiness,..." in that order. Now, while for some people, the ultimate happiness may be that shiny Land Rover in the drive way, and a fat checking account balance and 401k, that does not guarantee life or liberty for them or anyone else.

    So, when you complain of the "welfare state," you are really complaining of the fact that others' needs are taken into consideration and weighed against your wants. How many people do you know who are bankrupted and made homeless by taxes? Not many, I would guess...and in that case, it sounds perfectly reasonable to me that a fairly small sacrifice by a large number of people should be enforced to insure the "life" alone, if not the possiblity for "freedom" from abject poverty and social ostracism, of a somewhat smaller group.

    They are not freeloading off your hard-earned dollars; you, by living in the United States of America, under that Constitution, have already agreed to be bound by the terms which you now protest. You say that taxes are unreasonable; I say that while the system is not perfect, but that its intentions are, for the most part, noble, and should be aided, rather than decried.

    [ Parent ]

    Re: The pursuit of happiness (none / 0) (#218)
    by Knitebane on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 12:09:12 AM EST

    "The US Constitution is still one of the best damn documents to have ever been written."

    And it would be even better if our government followed it.

    I have my pocket copy of The U.S. Constitution here and damn if I can find a single reference to and Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services,
    Social Security Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearems or Immigration and Naturalization Services.

    We have become a country of creeping Federalism and only a return of government power to the state and local level will do anything to fix it.

    Unfortunately, there are very few instances of ANY government body giving up power without a fight.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: The pursuit of happiness (3.50 / 2) (#192)
    by wnight on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 04:15:53 PM EST

    I don't think people really care about capitalism or socialism when they set out to rob people.

    But if Capitalism requires people to give up any advantages they have, to compete fairly, then it doesn't stand a chance of actually ever happening, you're just as silly and misguided as people who preach total happiness via communism.

    The truth of the matter is that people will use any means to make themselves richer. The only power that 'the people', those 45% whose wealth adds up to Bill Gates' wealth, is their numbers. If the rules get too lopsided, revolution can happen. The government, charged with protecting the people, in general, should take whatever steps are necessary to prevent that from being needed.

    Of course, this pisses off the richest 1% who want to be the next Bill Gates, and damn the peasants who just get in the way.

    But, to hell with them. Capitalism is just a silly invented idea that Ayn Rand and a few misguided people have latched onto as being divine truth, no more likely in reality than what the Moonies think divine truth is. The real truth is that there are more peasants than rich, the French government found it out the hard way. Systems put in place to prevent the rich from gaining too much power are granted power from the people and their mandate to guillotine rich bastards who threaten them in the name of profits.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: The pursuit of happiness (4.66 / 3) (#146)
    by 0xdeadbeef on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:12:55 PM EST

    Stop and think why wealth, health, freedom, education, and personal possessions are accruing to a few people. In my opinion it is largely because only a few are willing to take risks with their time and money on a risky scheme that requires persistent and consistent work in our environment of capitalistic free enterprise to yield stellar benefits.

    Pulease, financial risk is not an act of gumption or bravery that only a few daring individuals are willing to take. Evaluating risks is the cornerstone of all business, and there are entire industries devoted to it (such as insurance and banking).

    The reason the wealthy can take risks is that those with more capital can be more daring, since they have more to spread around to hedge their investments, but I think it is mainly because they can afford to take a dive and not lose their shirts.

    In other words, the risk for Donald Trump building a new casino is hardly comparible to that of the average Joe who's bet his house and his kids' college fund on an Internet startup.

    The reason you see wealth aggregate to the wealthy is that is nearly impossible for the average person to start new ventures without outside financing. The ventures that fail are hardly felt by the big financiers (because, after all they expect it, they've got analysts to evaluate the risk and hedge the investments), but those that get lucky get an obnoxious percentage of the profits.

    The rest of us, evaluating the chance of enormous wealth with the more likely debt and possible financial ruin, choose the less risky endevor, which is a steady job and suburban contentment. That isn't cowardice, it is rational and prudent, qualities you should look for in any money manager.

    We need to get rid of this stupid notion that having your name on capital in itself an act of wealth creation. Those top 1% are parasites on the rest of us, riding on the coattails of their employees and investments. It is a market failure, an indication of the influence of power relationships and leader-worship over rational decision making.

    How can I fund efficient and well-run shelters/ministries/charities/social causes when legally empowered inefficient bureaucracies are more entitled to my income than I am?

    How can I run my prostitution ring/cult/pyramid scam/hate group with the government taking so much in taxes?

    [ Parent ]

    Lucky bastards (none / 0) (#220)
    by Commienst on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 04:46:16 AM EST

    "Stop and think why wealth, health, freedom, education, and personal possessions are accruing to a few people. In my opinion it is largely because only a few are willing to take risks with their time and money on a risky scheme that requires persistent and consistent work in our environment of capitalistic free enterprise to yield stellar benefits."

    When you stop and look at why most people who are now filthy rich became wealthy luck is big factor. Microsoft is great example. IBM thought there was not much money to be had in software so they let Mircrosoft develop their Operating System for them. Now of course most companies know there is more money in software than in hardware; especially if you make shitty software and sell support and force end users to pay to upgrade to fix nasty bugs. Bill Gates is rich because IBM made a mistake and that mistake is someting I like to call "Microsoft". I am sure if I researched I could prove how much influence "dumb luck" has on attaining vast amounts of wealth.

    [ Parent ]

    Simple solution (1.66 / 3) (#110)
    by goosedaemon on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 03:06:43 PM EST

    Grow your own food. This removes a lot of your dependence on the big boys. Buy seeds, dirt, and if you can't get a plot of land outside, get some flats and fluorescent lights. You still need electricity and other utilities, but now you can devote funding from food to other stuff. On the other hand, you need to devote otherwise free time to managing the plants. I recommend How to Grow More Food on Less Land (or something like that ) by Jean Jeavons (...or something like that. :p ), as well as Countryside Magazine (www.countrysidemag.com ).

    Re: Simple solution (2.00 / 1) (#136)
    by baka_boy on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 08:07:01 PM EST

    Watch out putting plants inside under grow lights...the "big boys" might come knocking under the impression that you're up to something a little less wholesome...

    [ Parent ]
    errata (4.00 / 1) (#177)
    by goosedaemon on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 07:39:16 PM EST

    book is How to Grow More Vegatable* *than you ever thought possible on less land than you can imagine, by John Jeavons.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: errata (2.00 / 1) (#183)
    by CodeWright on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 10:49:08 PM EST

    Cool! I'll have to check that out. :)



    --
    A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
    Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

    [ Parent ]
    Fuck MTV (4.00 / 12) (#113)
    by baka_boy on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 03:38:31 PM EST

    Why in the hell to people buy the rediculous farce that is capitalism and modern economics? Do you realize how rediculous you look? The first thing they teach you in any 100-level econ course is that everything has a monetary value. Yes, that's right...your first kiss, or seeing the most beautiful sunset of your life, or having a headache, or any other unique and personal experience you may have is directly equivalent to a range of positive and negative numbers indicating monetary value.

    How valuable does that make you feel? Proud of your accomplishments now? Realize that if you buy into this crap, you, too, are now a commodity, priced at X, and only so valuable to everyone (including yourself) as that number. What's that you say? I can be proud of my money without totally selling out? No, my friend, you cannot. You can have money, and even use it; however, the moment you become proud of it, you are using it to define your self worth.

    The current up-and-coming generation has been raised on a diet of MTV, fashion ads in the local newspaper, parents willing to buy them the latest-greatest trinkets to keep up appearances and keep them quiet, and a constant and persistent message that social values, philosophy, and religion are all refuges for the weak and stupid.

    I'm not suggesting that we all run out and join monastaries and convents, burn our worldy goods, and spend our days scrubbing floors and praying. Human kind has advanced to a point technologically where we can do better and greater things. However, let go of some of your fake cynicism and worldliness. If you like something, but it's not hip, be proud! You're original and creative. If you don't have money, and can't buy all the newest toys, stand tall! You are self-sufficient and able to stand on your own merit. If you are filthy rich, be thrilled! You have a tool to do great good in the world.

    But whatever you do, stop feeling like your money is an extension of your ego. It'll hurt a lot less if you're not always banging it into things, of having it pulled on, or afraid everyone's laughing because there isn't enough of it. Go out and run in the woods, hack some code, have a friendly argument, or do someone a favor. Then come back and worry about your precious money.

    In my head, I agree (3.00 / 1) (#211)
    by error 404 on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 12:47:24 PM EST

    I've never been theoreticaly materialistic. I'm the guy that's such a pain to buy a gift for - I pretty much don't want anything, except tools that are too specialized for anyone to buy for me except me, and then I tend to customize them to death.

    Stuff doesn't thrill me. Heavily advertized high brand-value stuff least of all.

    I utterly reject wealth as a standard of personal value and as a life-goal.

    And yet, when I'm tight on cash, I'm down and cranky.

    ..................................
    Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
    - Donovan

    [ Parent ]
    Crime and Poverty (4.40 / 10) (#116)
    by scooter1km on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 03:53:25 PM EST

    I think that an important distinction needs to be made here. Absolute poverty is not the same as relative poverty. People living in third-world countries during a famine with no food, clothing, or shelter live in absolute poverty.

    Poverty in America is very different. Of the ten richest countries in the world, America ranks first in rates of homicide, rape, and imprisonment. Americans are on average better off than pretty much every other citizen in the world. We blame it on the "violent biological tendancies of humans," and infer that people cannot exericise self-control because they do not exercise self-control. We blame it on TV shows, DOOM, Quake, and school principals (you know what event I'm talking about).

    No one can ignore the harm of a economicly-stratified society when the facts are screaming in their faces.
    For example:
    • The leading cause of death among young black males is homicide.
    • African-Americans account for one-third of arrests and one-half of incarcerations in America, while only making up 12% of the U.S. population.
    • Three-quarters of all black prison inmates have less than twelve years of schooling.
    These facts are impossible to ignore and are so overwhelming that they cannot be attributed to biases in the legal system. The fact is that many African-American youths see two worlds. In one world, people are judged on their merit alone and success can be achieved by anyone through hard work. In their world, however, they have neither the opportunities nor the resources to attain decent employment or an adequate education.

    The knee-jerk reponse to my argument is, "Well, this is America and everyone has the same chance to make money. So stop whining and start working harder." The fact of the matter is that we are living in a society where not everyone has the same resources and opportunities. And most people absolutly refuse to believe this.

    I admit that my life has been relativly easy. I remember as a kid my mom being on food stamps, but we had a great family that helped us through it. And know I would like to know that my taxes will be used to maybe give someone else a little help or a second chance. And it is utterly ignorant to think that welfare programs cause crime and not reduce it. The biggest farce in politics is to say that crime is caused by the welfare systems and not inequality or a violent society. And I challenge anyone to prove that welfare programs increase crime. In Denmark, where public expenditures amount to about half of the gross national product, versus a third in the United States, the homicide rate in the late seventies ranged between about one-tenth and one-nineteenth of the American rate. That's a pretty old statistic but still viable.

    So that's my rant. I may have completly missed the point of this post or have made no sense, but that's America as I see it. If anyone is still reading this, I reccomend an article by Judith and Peter Blau called "The Cost of Inequality: Metropolitan Structure and Violent Crime."

    -scooter

    Vote Nader
    scooter

    "There can be no daily democracy without daily citizenship." - Ralph Nader

    Re: Crime and Poverty (none / 0) (#170)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 01:04:41 PM EST

    "No one can ignore the harm of a economicly-stratified society when the facts are screaming in their faces.
    For example:
    The leading cause of death among young black males is homicide.
    African-Americans account for one-third of arrests and one-half of incarcerations in America, while only making up 12% of the U.S. population.
    Three-quarters of all black prison inmates have less than twelve years of schooling."

    You are making a flawed assumption: namely that the economical stratification is the cause of these statistics. I don't think that there is evidence to support such an assumption, and indeed one can argue that the opposite is true: that the economic stratification is more a result of crime rather than the cause. All too often people, as you said, "infer that people cannot exericise self-control because they do not exercise self-control" and blame it on things that are not at fault, i.e. "TV shows, DOOM, Quake, and school principals". I would add to the list of scapegoats "economic disadvantage". To pretend that being poor causes one to commit crimes is an insult to the character and intelligence of all the hard-working poor people in America.

    Looking at these racial statisitics in America and comparing them with economic statistics ignores other, very important facts/statistics that have just as much, if not more influence. If you examine your first two statistics, they certainly seem to point to crime being a larger problem for the African-American population than for the US population as a whole. The third stat, the less than twelve years of schooling for incarcerated black criminals, tells us that these individuals are either 1) dropping out of free, universally available schooling and subsequently becoming criminals, or 2) that they are committing criminal acts sufficient to warrant imprisonment while they are still minors (and thus enter prison without completing said free high school). Either of these possibilities indicates that black youth are for some reason not taking advantage of the opportunties that are available, and are engaging in crime instead.

    To me, this points to a serious social problem amongst black society (not only among blacks, but hitting them particularly hard): a lack of value placed on the educational opportunities that are needed for most people (ie non sports stars) to achieve greater economic status. When you consider that the rates of single and often teenage motherhood, etc are also much higher amongst blacks than some other racial groups, we see another problem: youths are growing up without a father figure, and often with a parent who is barely past childhood themselves. This breakdown of family structure has been linked to increased problems for these youths. While many single mothers do a fine job of raising their children, many others are simply unable to do so, due to youth or other factors. Especially with teenage mothers, it is almost impossible to be economically successful due to the lack of education and great economic stress of raising children. As teenage pregnancies have been a greater problem among blacks, these economic problems have also hit blacks harder. And also, the lack of male role models leads to boys in these situations being more likely to look to gang members as role models, thus increasing criminal behavior. The gangs members are the ones who are often the most conspicuously well-off, and so are naturally attracting imitation among boys. This involvement with crime leads to the increased death rates by homicide.

    These are not easy problems to overcome. Certainly they place these youths at a disadvantage. But they are not without opportunities - one can succeed if one puts in the effort to stay in school and not get involved with crime. It may take more effort, a lot more effort, than it would for a person who is better off. But there are plenty of poor people, and plenty of black people, who have done just that. It's too bad they we rarely talk about them, preferring to talk about the drug dealers, murderers, and rapists rather than the teachers, the factory workers, and other working Americans. We need to point out these *real* role models to kids before we can expect these problems to go away. Even if the government were to totally redistribute the wealth evenly amongst everyone, these problems would remain. It's more than economic, it's a societal problem that we need to overcome.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Crime and Poverty (none / 0) (#194)
    by wnight on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 04:41:21 PM EST

    Inner city schools are so bad as to be nearly worthless in a lot of cases. When you combine the gang activity that surrounds them with the pathetic teaching, avoiding school doesn't seem like dropping out of the government funded road to success as much as the only reasonable thing to do.

    I was amazed at the difference in school when I moved from the country into the city. And I only moved to Vancouver, a fairly small city (compared to many US cities) and in a fairly peaceable and affluent part of the country...

    If you combine inner-city school uselessness with being so poor that you often need to work just to help support a family, it's not hard to see why leaving school is so common.

    (The only apartment you can rent in Vancouver for the welfare rental allowance is a room in the transient hotels. Even seedy bachelor suites go for a hundred and fifty more on average.)

    Two parents on Welfare don't get twice the money, they get about one and a half times as much, on the theory that everything is cheaper for a couple... So you have wlefare families living in $450/month suites (that's Canadian $$) which equates to a dingy cockroach infested apartment in the seedy part of the city.

    Life for a welfare family isn't some kind of utopia from which someone chooses a life of drugs and crime because it's appealing. There are very few choices for the people on the bottom.

    [ Parent ]
    McDonalds and Costco (3.50 / 2) (#121)
    by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 04:42:48 PM EST

    First, I find it so interesting that in the States, happiness is so often equated with money. I've known many poor or just-average folks in other countries who are more than happy, but somehow in USA no money == no happiness.

    Anyway, just wanted to point out one factor I haven't seen mentioned yet: the disappearance of the mom&pop stores. Nowadays in the States (and even Canada) most stores are being replaced by nationally franchised superstores. People don' t go to the local coffee shop anymore -- the one run by mom&pop in the morning and the kids and nephews at night -- they go to Starbucks where with every cup they pay for the national franchise, the owner, the manager, and the minimum wage part-time kids who talk so fast.

    IMHO, that's a big problem in the American society these days. The general public only consumes stuff that has been marketed to death, beit hamburgers, dry-cleaning, or music. And to consume these well-publicized-therefore-safe products they have no choice but to go to the superstores or franchises. But this generates the current economic atmosphere, where big corporations thrive and the small shops dwindle away. And with big corporations come a few wealthy owners and many minimum-wage workers.

    --
    Anonymous? yes. Hero? Not by a long shot.

    Mom and pop live in the city now (3.00 / 1) (#145)
    by rusty on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:02:26 PM EST

    In most of the country, you're right, the mom and pop outfit is gone, and long forgotten. However, they're still thriving in cities everywhere. If you're ever in DC, walk up 18th St. in Adams-Morgan till you cross Columbia road, pass the gas station, and look to the right. There's a little grocery/convenience store there that everyone calls Mr. Kim's (although I'm not sure it even has a name, or whether that's it). When I lived around the corner from it, I stopped in there all the time for this and that, they always had a smile, and they usually knew what I wanted. When I moved out of the neighborhood, they helped collect boxes from around the store for us to pack stuff in. From what I've seen of San Francisco so far, there are even more little mom and pop stores here than in DC.

    The problem, basically, is one of convenience vs. cost. Small stores are more expensive. In today's modern hellish suburb, you have to drive everywhere no matter what you want to get. So do you drive a shorter distance and pay more? Hell no, you go to the Costco-- after all, what difference does it make if you're driving anyway?

    In a city, driving (and parking) are a huge pain-- it's a much better choice to go to the local corner store and pay a little more, than get the car, lose your spot, drive out to the burbs (cause there's no parking in the city), shop, drive back, try to find more parking etc etc etc. Small-town America used to be walking-friendly. It justy isn't anymore.

    I think the point of all of this is, it's a little too easy to blame the big stores for being successful. But they don't force their success on us-- we give them their business, because they provide a better option. If anything, blame the town planners who have let "sprawl" become a meaningful zoning term.

    And of course, the bigger point is, it's easy to look at things-- numbers, trends, statistics-- any way you want. There's always another way to look at them, and an article like the one above isn't ever going to change anyone's mind about anything.

    ____
    Not the real rusty
    [ Parent ]

    I agree and disagree (none / 0) (#191)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 04:13:51 PM EST

    First, I find it so interesting that in the States, happiness is so often equated with money. I've known many poor or just-average folks in other countries who are more than happy, but somehow in USA no money == no happiness.

    I can say that I've seen the complete opposite as well. Most countries simply don't have the opportunities provided by the US or the West in general. They simply accept their lot in life because they have no choice. So would you be rather pissed and not be able to do anything or just accept and move on? A lot of poor people in the US think that they have no opportunities, think the "man" is keeping them down, which is crap. Maybe their is a inverse relationship between opportunities and happiness of poor people?



    [ Parent ]
    So.. (1.00 / 2) (#124)
    by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 05:38:58 PM EST

    <p>Ok, so Bill Gates is a bloody thief. What else is new?
    </p>


    This isn't new. (2.00 / 1) (#128)
    by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 06:53:10 PM EST

    This has been the distribution spread since been since money has been seen as valuable. Look around the world. If you find a place were wealth is more evenly distributed, let us know. btw: it's 'adding INSULT to injury'.

    Re: This isn't new. (none / 0) (#160)
    by rongen on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 06:58:08 AM EST

    btw: it's 'adding INSULT to injury'.

    Or perhaps "adding salt to the WOUND" is what this person was thinking of...

    Wow. I agree with what he said, despite the apparent haste with which the story was put together (like I could have used some secondary sources confirming these facts---besides a link to the original list on some other non-source-citing web page). I have no doubt, though, that these stats are basically true.

    I must admit I get nervous whenever I hear Americans discussing the hoarding of wealth. It scares me to hear so many of them thinking that having incredibly wealthy people (like Bill Gates) could be a good thing for an economy. That wealth he holds represents the excess price paid by people because of the monopoly he holds on certain products. If he held no monopoly then the products would only garner fair market prices (like about 10% of what they cost now, over the long term, when you factor in the "artificial" upgrading, etc).

    The money that is his fortune represents money TAKEN OUT OF THE ECONOMY and not put back in. If the software was being sold at it's true market value Microsoft would earn enough money to pay their employees (as well or better than what they get now) and cover operating costs, etc. The owners could make really high salaries, but not obscene amounts of money, if they wanted to...

    The theory touched on above is not "communist". It is the theory that a free market (without a monopoly) will tend to regulate itself. Sometimes certain business practices (which are illegal for good reason) allow firms to grab a big share of a market. From there they leverage that share into a monopoly if they can. It's the American way. Thankfully, it is also the American way to try to restore balance. Let's hope this is what happens in the future.

    So much money is tied up in the Microsofts and GMs of the world that it would be a mistake to "free" it all at once. One of the cool things about the Internet is that it has the potential to alter the market in interesting ways. The question is whether "netizens" will use this leverage to make the market free-er or allow it to become another way in which the rich get richer (one last time: this will also lead to the poor getting poorer, there's only so much to go around).
    read/write http://www.prosebush.com
    [ Parent ]

    Re: This isn't new. (none / 0) (#163)
    by CodeWright on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 10:22:00 AM EST

    The money that is his fortune represents money TAKEN OUT OF THE ECONOMY and not put back in.

    You have just exhibited a FUNDAMENTAL lack of understanding in the economic system by which our country functions.

    To put it simply: HIS MONEY IS IN THE BANK.

    Which translates to: IF SOME "COMMON MAN" NEEDS A HOUSE LOAN, THE BANK CAN "LOAN OUT" A PORTION OF THE WEALTH IT HAS "ON DEPOSIT".

    In other words, money that is held in investments comes around to drive the entire economy, and is available to anyone who participates in the banking system/market.

    The only way to take money OUT Of the economy is to bury it in your backyard.



    --
    A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
    Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

    [ Parent ]
    Re: This isn't new. (none / 0) (#196)
    by rongen on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 05:25:49 PM EST

    To put it simply: HIS MONEY IS IN THE BANK.

    No, it's not. There is a balance showing on a computer. There is no cash in the bank. One of the first things economics students learn in a undergraduate class concerns the "money multiplier" effect. Bank A has some money. It loans 90% of that to bank B, bank B loans 90% of that to bank C (each of these banks is loaning this money out as well, or investing it). If you know your history you don't have to look too far back in time to see what happens when all of the customers of bank A, B, and C want all of thier money at once. So "burying your money" is not only useless, it is basically impossible.

    Further, the economoy is not driven by loans---inflation is. The economy is driven by the exchange of goods and services. Sometimes loans enable this exchange (most of the time). The interest charged on the loans must be absorbed somewhere (it is lost from the transaction). A transaction without this loss is efficient---when each party gives a share to a bank (and we all do, it's inevitable) the transaction becomes inefficient.
    read/write http://www.prosebush.com
    [ Parent ]

    Good lord, can we feel the pain anymore? Or should (2.20 / 5) (#143)
    by poet on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 10:15:00 PM EST

    * The top one percent of the richest Americans have wealth equal to the combined wealth of 95%of other Americans: "It used to be said a rising economic tide lifts all boats. Now a rising economic tide lifts all yachts."

    That is a load of crap. The percentage may be correct but to say that people do not benefit from the Billions that the like of Ted Turner and Bill Gates make is ignorant.

    Bill Gates must employ over 25,000 people to create those billions of dollars they have. That is just Microsoft, this does not include everything else he has a hand in.

    Ted Turner probably employs over 10,000 in just the TV networks he has.

    As much as I can't stand Microsoft, if it weren't for them, along with people like Compaq and IBM I would not be as successful as I am today.

    * Twenty percent of American children live in poverty; in the Netherlands that figure is three percent.

    We have the richest poor in the world buddy.

    * The minimum wage today is lower, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than in 1979.

    That is probably true, but so what. Minimum wage is supposed to be a step to a better wage. If you want to make more, make more. It is possible. I and several of my associates pulled out of the "High School" drop out, minimum wage jobs.

    * Today's worker works 160 hours longer per year than 25 years ago.

    Now that is absolutely true.

    * Bill Gates' wealth equals the combined wealth of the poorest 120 million Americans, or 45% of our population. "This is a failure of the political system to defend the people."

    That is crap. Again, the numbers are probably correct but it is not the political systems fault for Bill Gates being as wealthy as he is. It is the ignorance is bliss attitude of americans towards business ethics.

    * Less than one in ten workers belongs to a trade union in the private sector.

    Thank god, UNIONs are thieves. By Law you can not be forced to join one, but try working non union as a laborer in a UNION house. Aint gonna happen unless your management.

    * Two million Americans are in prisons, 500,000 more than in communist China, which has a 1.3 billion population.

    This is very sad, I agree. Americans have turned our prison system into a punishment. A permanent jail sentence, when it is supposed to be a rehabilitation.

    * Forty-seven million people work for less than $10 an hour --- this in a decade of sustained economic growth. "With a wage like that, people can't be considered employed despite the fact that they have jobs."

    This is also crap. If you want to make more. Get your butt out there and make more. In 1993 I made 10.00/hr. Now I make 95.00/hr. Why? Because I worked my ass off and earned it.

    poet@linuxports.com Joshua Drake
    Have you bought your OpenBook today?

    Re: Good lord, can we feel the pain anymore? Or sh (4.00 / 2) (#147)
    by Perpetual Newbie on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 11:29:49 PM EST

    ...to say that people do not benefit from the Billions that the like of Ted Turner and Bill Gates make is ignorant.

    Take an Econ 101 class. People do not benifit from the Billions that the like of Ted Turner and Bill Gates make. People benefit from the Billions that the like of Ted Turner and Bill Gates spend. When they spend their wealth, it cycles around the market and strengthens the economy. When they hoard their money to gain a couple spots on the list of the world's X richest people, it causes the economy to shrink. The first point is probably what you meant, the second is often overlooked.

    [ Parent ]

    Re: Good lord, can we feel the pain anymore? Or sh (3.50 / 2) (#166)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 10:30:26 AM EST

    Hello? Talking about Econ 101. The billions that those two have are due to their stock value, given to them by the company. Which is based on the proportioned demand on the other stock that is publicly bought and traded regularly, not held. Guess what? That means their price is based on what other people wanted and -put money into-. That's the choice of the population, not their fault.

    Put it another way, if he gave those billions away, much would return right back into MS stock as an "investment." He'd earn it right back, since the holdings he has, while large, is small compared to the shares out there. Some of that would get invested. Now where? Duh, in ohter high performing companies, strategies, etc.

    And Bill Gates, at least, has given billions. He's surpassed the Robert Wood Johnson (funded by the makers of Johnson & Johnson products) for the most amount of money given out, which is no small feat.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Good lord, can we feel the pain anymore? Or sh (4.50 / 2) (#151)
    by Sloppy on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 12:52:33 AM EST

    Bill Gates must employ over 25,000 people to create those billions of dollars they have.
    [snip]
    As much as I can't stand Microsoft, if it weren't for them, along with people like Compaq and IBM I would not be as successful as I am today.

    Whoa there, cowboy. If those 25k people weren't employed by Microsoft, then they might be doing something useful instead, something that produces something of value and thereby increases the overall wealth of America (and themselves), instead of

    • Support for gratuitously complex and unnecessary stuff (e.g. Talking someone through fixing their registry over the phone)
    • Installing fixpacks and the rest of the constant non-stop full-time maintenence that Microsoft products need (e.g. Outlook security hole of the week)
    • Putting flight simulators inside of spreadsheet programs
    • A bunch of other shit I don't want to think about right now because I happen to be in a pretty good mood.

    When autoworkers work, they create cars. Someone pays money for that car and ends up driving it and getting value out of it. But when someone pays money for "Windows 98 Second Edition, for sale with a new computer only" and throws away their old Windows 95 license, was anything of value created?

    Pointless busy work is not productive and it lowers the standard of living. Don't vote for the guy who says he's going to "create jobs" unless he's also somehow going to create wealth too.

    I agree with a lot of the other stuff you said, though, especially unions. I would be very insulted if someone asked me to join a union, and when breaking a picket line I would feel nothing but pride and honor.


    "RSA, 2048, seeks sexy young entropic lover, for several clock cycles of prime passion..."
    [ Parent ]
    Re: Good lord, can we feel the pain anymore? Or sh (3.00 / 1) (#164)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 10:24:22 AM EST

    That's a huge assumption to think that if those 25K individuals were not employed, they'd be doing something more useful. Surveys show that most people would take a rather large pay cut if they could work for a non-profit, aka doing "good work" by their terms.

    Big problem though. Know what? These people *don't* make that move. Despite having the intelligence, resources, and will, many times even the financial stability, they simply don't because it's bull, not safe to them, whatever the reason. But the key is that they have that choice, but give it up.

    Sorry, it isn't simply the economics that you to look at. The failing of socialism is that they look at the upper strata of folks and state, "Hey, they don't give enough" or "They're exploiting the poor." Reality is that there is a bolstering population below. The lower strata of folks simply did not work their ass off to raise themselves by their shoelaces. End of story.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Good lord, can we feel the pain anymore? Or sh (none / 0) (#219)
    by Miniluv on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 02:38:10 AM EST

    If Microsoft products had no value, a working economy would not spend money on those products. Supply and demand is still working in the American economy, really quite well.

    Bill Gates's money, as others have stated, is derived from the worth of his holdings of MSFT stock. This is NOT real money, he CANNOT spend the entirety of it. Were he to cash in his stock, he would cause a landslide shift in the economy in this country, as that many shares of MSFT dumped at one time would cause a run on that stock, causing a snowball effect in the entire high tech sector.

    Also remember, IBM (former enemy, now friend, thanks Tux) employees over 350K worldwide, and having worked there, I'd venture a guess that at least 50% are in America.

    Also remember, something like 80% of american business quantify as "small business" by average terminology. I do not have those exact numbers handy, as I am not a statistician or economist. I do understand though, that the small business are really what is creating the wealth in this country, as the big businesses spend the bulk of their money on these companies. These companies are a word I'm sure you've heard...suppliers. These small businesses also, in turn, spend their money on products the larger companies produce, and so on and so forth. We have a circular economy...or should. The real killer is foreign trade imbalances, something we need our government to help regulate. Rather we should be both encouraging our companies to ship goods overseas, and ensuring we have a fairly level playing field in our own markets with duties and tariffs, same as the asians and europeans do.
    "Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
    [ Parent ]

    I'm skeptical (2.00 / 1) (#144)
    by scriptkiddie on Fri Jul 21, 2000 at 10:41:41 PM EST

    Where are those numbers from? It seems to me that those stats are very fuzzy. What defines poverty? What MSFT stock value was used to calculated Bill Gates' assets? It's not very clear.

    IMHO, people need to have an incentive to work - otherwise, we'd have socialism, with little poverty but no economic growth. But we don't need to leave those people who either won't or can't work as hard as is necessary to survive completely out in the cold.

    (4.33 / 3) (#158)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 04:12:04 AM EST

    BElow is chaper 1 of a book by Buckminster Fuller
    The rest of the book is located here:
    http://www.bfi.org/grunch_of_giants1.htm

    [Fee x fie x fo x fum]4

    Fee-fie-fo-fum
    I smell the blood of a Britishman
    Be he alive or be he dead
    I'll grind his bones To make my bread.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    There is no dictionary word for an army of invisible giants, one thousand miles tall, with their arms interlinked, girding the planet Earth. Since there exists just such an invisible, abstract, legal-contrivance army of giants, we have invented the word GRUNCH as the group designation—"a grunch of giants." GR-UN-C-H, which stands for annual GROSS UNIVERSE CASH HEIST, pays annual dividends of over one trillion U.S. dollars.

    GRUNCH is engaged in the only-by-instruments reached-and-operated, entirely invisible chemical, metallurgical, electronic, and cybernetic realms of reality. GRUNCH's giants average thirty-four years of age, most having grown out of what Eisenhower called the postWorld War II "military-industrial complex." They are not the same as the pre-World War II international copper or tin cartels. The grunch of giants consists of the corporately interlocked owners of a vast invisible empire, which includes airwaves and satellites; plus a vast visible empire, which includes all the only eighteen-year-old and younger skyscraper cluster cities around the world, as well as the factories and research laboratories remotely ringing the old cities and all the Oriental industrial deployment, such as in Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Singapore. It controls the financial credit system of the noncommunist world together with all the financial means of initiating any world-magnitude mass-production and -distribution ventures. By making pregraduation employment contracts with almost all promising university science students, it monopolizes all the special theoretical know-how to exploit its vast inventory of already acquired invisible know-how technology.

    Who runs GRUNCH? Nobody knows. It controls all the world's banks. Even the muted Swiss banks. It does what its lawyers tell it to. It maintains technical legality, and is prepared to prove it. Its law firm is named Machiavelli, Machiavelli, Atoms & Oil. Some think the second Mach is a cover for Mafia.

    GRUNCH didn't invent Universe. It didn't invent anything. It monopolizes know-where and know-how but is devoid of know-why. It is preoccupied with absolute selfishness and its guaranteed gratifications. It is as blind as its Swiss banks are mute. Much, much more about GRUNCH later on.

    • • •

    When blimp photographs are taken of giant stadia packed full of rock-concert or football fans, we get an idea of what 100,000 people look like. We all think of Hiroshima as the worst single killing of humans by humans. That was about a 75,000-capacity-coliseum-full. Each day of each year, year after year, a 75,000-capacity-stadiumfull of around-the-world humans perish from starvation or its side effects, despite an annual average 5-percent world food-production overage of the amount of food adequate for the total world's population. This daily kill of innocents dwarfs the awful Auschwitz killing.

    GRUNCH did not bring this about, but it could very profitably bring it to an end. Just because it is possible does not mean that it is easy. With the computers' guidance, however, and some executive vision, courage, initiative, and follow-through, it can be done very profitably in terms of money and lasting kudos for GRUNCH and prohumanity enterprise. It would cost only 3 percent of Grunch's annual dividend earnings to not only feed all those now starving to death but also to alleviate the dire poverty around the entire planet, since the population explosion is occurring strictly amongst impoverished people. Such a world initiative on the part of Grunch would eliminate one of the two great threats to humanity's continuance on planet Earth: nuclear bombing and overpopulation.

    The great communism vs. capitalism, politico-economic world stand-off assumes a fundamental inadequacy of life support to exist on our planet. So too do the four major religions assume that it must be you or us, never enough for both. Jointly the two political camps have spent $6.5 trillion in the last thirty-three years to buy the capability to kill all humanity in one hour.

    Jointly, we Earthians have always had adequate physical resources to take care of all humanity but lacked the metaphysical know-how resources with which to employ effectively the Earth's physical wealth. Adequate knowhow could only accrue through trial-and-error experience combined with synergetically acquired wisdom, altogether employed with absolute faith in the intellectual integrity omni-lovingly governing regenerative Universe. However, in 1970 our cornucopia of ever more swiftly accruing know-how overflowed and its content integrated synergetically, so that we may now care for each Earthian individual at a sustainable billionaire's level of affluence while living exclusively on less than 1 percent of our planet's daily energy income from our cosmically designed nuclear reactor, the Sun, optimally located 92 million safe miles away from us and safely interlinked with us by photosynthesis, wind, rain, wave, and all other weather behaviors.

    In technology's "invisible" world, inventors continually increase the quantity and quality of performed work per each volume or pound of material, erg of energy, and unit of worker and "overhead" time invested in each given increment of attained functional performance. This complex process we call progressive ephemeralization. In 1970, the sum total of increases in overall technological know-how and their comprehensive integration took humanity across the epochal but invisible threshold into a state of technically realizable and economically feasible universal success for all humanity.

    This actual but invisible threshold crossing began in 1969 when humans' scientific knowledge and technological ingenuity, backed exclusively by adequate citizens' tax-raised government financing, learned how to do so much with so little as to be able to place humans on the Moon and return them safely to Earth. Other typical 1970 to 1980 manifests of our option to do so much with so little as to be able to take care of all humanity were:

    1. The single-flight delivery and installation of a 140foot-diameter, 23,000-square-foot-floor-space, stainless steel and aluminum geodesic dome at the mathematically exact South Pole of our planet, together with its capability of carrying the snow loads of complete burial;

    2. The rocket-launched satellites able to relay Eartharound TV and other programs;

    3. The solar system's planetary inspection by TV-communicating, Earth-dispatched explorer satellites;

    4. The computer revolution, and its progressive miniaturization;

    5. The laser-beam and its many capabilities, such as its color-TV-reading of polished disc records;

    6 . MacCready' s successful human-muscle- powered, over-the-English-Channel flight; and

    7. His subsequent Paris-to-England, exclusively by direct-Sun-powered flight; and finally,

    8. That MacCready's ninety-five-foot-wingspan plane weighed only forty-five pounds due to its carbon-fiberalloy structuring and mylar skinning.



    In 1970 it could, for the first time, be engineeringly demonstrated that, applying the most advanced knowhow to the conservation and use of the world's resources, we can, within ten years of from-killingry-to-livingry reoriented world production, have all humanity enjoying a sustainably higher standard of living than any humans have ever heretofore experienced. It could further be demonstrated that we can do this while simultaneously phasing out all further Earthians' use of fossil fuels and atomic energy.

    Humanity is so specialized and these epochally significant technological facts are so invisible that it seems an almost hopeless matter to adequately inform humanity that from now on, for the first time in history, it does not have to be "you or me"—there is now enough for "both" —and to convince humanity of this fact in time to permit it to exercise its option and save itself.

    There is now plenty for all. War is obsolete. It is imperative that we get the word to all humanity—RUSH—before someone ignorantly pushes the button that provokes pushing of all the buttons.

    What makes so difficult the task of informing humanity of its newborn option to realize success for all is the fact that all major religions and politics thrive only on the for-all-ages-held, ignorantly adopted premise of the existence of an eternal inadequacy of life-support inherent in the design of our planet Earth.

    That it is possible for us all to win—and how—is what Grunch of Giants is about. (Grunch of Giants is an intimately related sequel to Critical Path, published by St. Martin's Press, New York, 1981.)



    Re: Fuller Reference (3.00 / 1) (#212)
    by ZenArcher on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 01:18:58 PM EST

    Thank you for the reference to Grunch of Giants. Part of Fuller's genius was his ability to present a viewpoint broad enough to shift one's attention from inside to outside the creation we call "civilization." In making this shift, broader patterns and connections can be discovered.

    [ Parent ]
    The British are Comming! The British are Comming! (4.00 / 3) (#159)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 05:08:39 AM EST

    First - a pre-emptive apology to any British or US citizens who are offended by what I'm about to say.

    This article comes as no suprise. Why?

    Because in the 18th century, the British aristocracy had a big problem. The emerging class of super rich who were threatening to eclipse their wealth.

    Their solution was - the introduction of death duties. In Britan, you are not allowed to pass on obscene wealth to your offspring if you aren't an aristocrat.

    The emerging super-rich in Britan had their own solution to this - they all moved to America.

    Unfortunatly, nothing was done to stop them as they proceeded to buy first the US economy and then the US political system. Since then, they have been busy buying as much of everything else as they can.

    In case you haven't worked it out yet gang, they are currently buying the Internet.

    You might be strangling my chicken, but you don't want to know what I'm doing to your hampster.



    Re: The British are Comming! The British are Commi (1.00 / 1) (#165)
    by CodeWright on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 10:27:15 AM EST

    In case you haven't worked it out yet gang, they are currently buying the Internet.

    LOL! You're absolutely right!

    What a damn shame. Just wait til they foreclose on the national debt.



    --
    A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
    Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

    [ Parent ]
    Re: The British are Comming! The British are Commi (1.00 / 1) (#172)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 01:30:29 PM EST

    Agreed, good comment.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: The British are Comming! The British are Commi (3.00 / 1) (#185)
    by End on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 12:52:07 AM EST

    You know, if you did some research to back that up you'd have a very interesting article.

    -JD
    [ Parent ]

    Re: The British are Comming! The British are Commi (2.00 / 1) (#187)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 02:57:07 AM EST

    Thanks, but unfortunatly I don't have the time. In fact I probably won't be able to drop back in to chat until *next* weekend.

    You might be strangling my chicken, but you don't want to know what I'm doing to your hampster.



    [ Parent ]

    Misleading facts (2.50 / 2) (#167)
    by grimani on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 11:32:16 AM EST

    I only skimmed thru the stats, but this one jumped out at me.

    * Bill Gates' wealth equals the combined wealth of the poorest 120 million Americans, or 45% of our population. "This is a failure of the political system to defend the people."



    This is really a misrepresentation of the facts, as most of the poorest Americans have ZERO assets. In fact, they have less than $0 in assets, as they owe more than they own. Gotta love the modern world of mortgages and credit cards eh?

    So the next time your GF bitches bout money...pull out a dollar bill and smile. You're richer than 45% of the population :).

    Yes, but what's the solution? (1.00 / 1) (#174)
    by forrest on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 03:21:48 PM EST

    I certainly fall on "the left" because, in principle, I believe in social services being a foundation of a healthy society. However, I distrust the ability of our government to spend money wisely and efficiently.

    It seems like, there's a general notion of throwing money at a problem -- say, we need better public schools, ok, I agree -- so taxes are raised and more money is thrown at the problem but nothing seems to come out of it..

    It's a difficult problem, and I don't pretend to have the answer. I believe in social services, and I don't mind paying taxes for them. But it upsets me that my tax dollars seem to be spent so ineffieiently most of the time.

    Can anything be done about this? This is the main issue that keeps me from being more politically active -- ok, I'm lazy and I'm just thowing up my hands, I'll freely admit -- but it seems to me that this is a systemic problem of bureaucracy.



    Yes, but what's the solution? (1.50 / 2) (#175)
    by forrest on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 03:21:53 PM EST

    I certainly fall on "the left" because, in principle, I believe in social services being a foundation of a healthy society. However, I distrust the ability of our government to spend money wisely and efficiently.

    It seems like, there's a general notion of throwing money at a problem -- say, we need better public schools, ok, I agree -- so taxes are raised and more money is thrown at the problem but nothing seems to come out of it..

    It's a difficult problem, and I don't pretend to have the answer. I believe in social services, and I don't mind paying taxes for them. But it upsets me that my tax dollars seem to be spent so ineffieiently most of the time.

    Can anything be done about this? This is the main issue that keeps me from being more politically active -- ok, I'm lazy and I'm just thowing up my hands, I'll freely admit -- but it seems to me that this is a systemic problem of bureaucracy.



    Re: Yes, but what's the solution? (3.00 / 1) (#197)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 06:45:24 PM EST

    Well, for one thing, you make the politicians accountable to the people they represent rather than to the people that fund their campaigns. This is something Ralph addresses by pushing for publicly funded campaigns. (According to Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, election campaigns cost about $4 per voter. Get our voter turnout up to ninety instead of thirty percent and this drops to a little over a buck.)

    You could also drop the salaries of congress by about half (or more) so they can more readily identify with the majority of their constituents rather than with the economic elite. ("We're the CEO's of the nation, and we should be paid accordingly" -John McCain, Sixty Minutes interview, ca. 1993)

    You could implement a maximum wage. No, really. I'm serious. Think of virtually any CEO, or athlete (athletes are, in my opinion, worse offenders here). They will make more money in one MONTH than most people make in their entire lives. Why? Because they believe it's their god-given right, and because we (the 'most people' I just referred to) allow it. Do they need it? The fact that most people live on a very small percentage of those grossly inflated salaries belies that notion. We could take a very small percentage of these salaries and return them to the community to fund things like universal health care, affordable day care, family leave, renewable energy, better highways, and better schools dammit, and anything else you can think of. And none of those people (the rich ones) would suffer from this. They could fund all sorts of improvement, and never have to give up any of the luxuries to which they've become accustomed. They could do it with their pocket money.

    Now, those are just a few ideas, and none of them will implemented any time soon, or ever, until someone like Ralph Nader becomes a viable candidate. (He won't even be on the ballot here, a fact that I blame mostly on the media having ignored him. He regularly scores higher in polls than Pat Buchanan, but gets about a tenth of the coverage, if that.) Really, it comes down to us. We have to search for information other than what CNN and CBS and PBS tell us (try Znet for starters) and look beyond the duopoly that now runs the country. The only solution is our involvement, our demanding 'participation in power.' The only solution is us.

    [ Parent ]

    Re: Yes, but what's the solution? (3.00 / 1) (#200)
    by CodeWright on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 10:21:28 PM EST

    LOL!

    To steal a quote from Star Wars:

    Leia Organa said: "The tighter your grasp [Moff Tarkin], the more systems will slip through your fingers..."

    The same holds true for taxation -- the more that a tax jurisdiction tries to tax the high-wage-earners, the more high-wage-earners will depart in droves to low-tax jurisdictions (ie, other countries).

    Other than shooting the high-wage-earners at the border, there's nothing you could do (and shooting them at the border qualifies as "tightening your grasp", thus driving even MORE out of the country, much less "killing the goose that lays the golden egg").



    --
    A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
    Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Yes, but what's the solution? (4.00 / 1) (#206)
    by Anonymous Hero on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 08:10:39 AM EST

    A valid concern. However, nobody left the US in the fities, when the highest marginal tax rate was ninety percent. Nobody's fleeing Sweden, where it still is. Nobody's fleeing Germany where everybody I talk to pays almost fifty percent in income tax. I'm not talking about onerous changes, which would have the effect you mention. I'm talking about a max wage in the millions, beyond which any accumulation is pure power grab anyway, and contributes nothing to one's standard of living, but does deprive others of an adequate standard of living. If you're doing no real harm, and they get to have all of their toys, they'll grumble, but they won't leave. Or not many. The fact is, people will still live here, because they like here. Hell, I like it here, even though I think that we have the most fucked up society of any industrial nation. Go spend a month a Europe, where you can walk the streets in the middle of the night without worrying about a mugging, where you don't read about a murder or three every stinking day . . . but I digress.

    But one more thing to mitigate this would be similar or identical standards of behavior through out the world. Of course, the WTO is trying guarantee that only corporations get to dictate what these standards are, in other words, no limitations on corporate behavior, and no consideration of social behavior or effects. (Corporatism: the real one world government.) Just what these standards are would have to be decided in an open forum, ideally a government that really represents its citizens. None of this is viable until that comes about.



    [ Parent ]
    Re: Yes, but what's the solution? (none / 0) (#237)
    by homer on Thu Sep 21, 2000 at 10:06:25 PM EST

    anarchy
    -----------
    doh!
    [ Parent ]
    Bullshit (2.14 / 7) (#201)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 11:50:28 PM EST

    Nearly half of America's wealth is in Bill Gate's fortune.

    Are you really believe that Gates' lousy $100 billion is half the wealth of our $5 trillion a year economy?

    If so, you're a fscking idiot.

    If not, you're a fscking liar.

    Which is it?



    Indeed, Bullshit. (none / 0) (#202)
    by Anonymous Hero on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 01:31:10 AM EST

    Even if Big Bill's wealth did amount to that slice of the pie, he makes money globally. Probably pretty much spends it that way too. Bill is more of a principallity than a person any more ;) Also I find it highly unlikely that China would release accurate statistics on prisoners. At least we don't farm convicts for organs in the states. Do we?

    [ Parent ]
    Indeed, Bullshit. (none / 0) (#203)
    by Anonymous Hero on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 01:31:10 AM EST

    Even if Big Bill's wealth did amount to that slice of the pie, he makes money globally. Probably pretty much spends it that way too. Bill is more of a principallity than a person any more ;) Also I find it highly unlikely that China would release accurate statistics on prisoners. At least we don't farm convicts for organs in the states. Do we?

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Bullshit (none / 0) (#204)
    by Anonymous Hero on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 01:34:11 AM EST

    The poor mentioned are only poor on paper. Get it? Get it? See, Bill is like rich on paper and the poor are... I am not funny, I shouldn't even try.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Bullshit (none / 0) (#205)
    by Anonymous Hero on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 05:01:33 AM EST

    You're confusing two measures. If the US economy is quoted as $5 trillion a year, it means that $5 trillion changes hands in the course of a year - mostly in large deals between companies and financial speculators, and the same money changes hands many times in a year. It doesn't mean that the sum total of every American's personal wealth is $5 trillion.

    It could be that the total is $200 billion (I don't know). That sounds fairly plausible, an average of $800 each - $5 trillion would be $20000 each, which sounds less likely.

    Andy



    [ Parent ]
    Re: Bullshit (4.00 / 1) (#217)
    by shamash on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 05:54:53 PM EST

    yes the parent is a troll, but I'll bite.

    the article says that his personal wealth is equal to that of the poorest 45% of the US. This is OBVIOUSLY not close to half of the total wealth of the nation. This is especially obvious if you are inclined to believe the figure that the richest 1% control the same amount as the lowest 95%

    check the article. Then, if you feel like getting angry, check it again. please.

    -Shamash

    [ Parent ]
    Fascinating. (1.00 / 3) (#213)
    by Anonymous Hero on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 01:19:56 PM EST

    So in essence this thread is 'fuck you, life is hard, get a helmet!' Is that the kind of society we want to be? If so, keep your dogs and kids out of my driveway cause I'm going to run them the fuck down if they get in my way the next time I have to go to Blockbuster.

    the reason why is.... (1.50 / 2) (#214)
    by mr. creep on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 05:25:58 PM EST

    The reason why the US has more people in jail then China is the fact that China executes waaaaaaay more people then we do, for alot of crimes that we don't. Go figure.
    --
    brian - geeknik.net
    Re: the reason why is.... (2.00 / 1) (#216)
    by Anonymous Hero on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 10:47:49 PM EST

    No, it's because of mandatory jail time for victimless drug offenses, plus vigorous enforcement, plus relatively cushy prisons.

    [ Parent ]
    One Comment... (4.25 / 4) (#215)
    by FFFish on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 07:52:47 PM EST

    ...the statistics and article are from the Prorev website. I did not write them, and I think the "blow it out your ass" response posted by a majority of you is a strong indicator that Kuro5hin is rapidly going to the dogs.

    Shame that so many of you can't give your heads a shake and recognize that even if the article exagerrated the statistics, that there *is* a big problem in America.

    The attitude displayed by a lot of respondents is the sort of thing that causes me a lot of dismay. We *make* the society we live in, by the attitudes and ideas we have.

    The attitude seems to be one of "fuck you" -- if someone is down and out, well, fuck'em.

    That's pretty harsh. Is it an attitude you can *really* live with?

    Betcha a lot of folk change their tunes when their life goes to hell, be it clinical depression, stock market crash, job lose, old age...

    Re: One Comment... (none / 0) (#230)
    by CodeWright on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 08:56:21 PM EST

    That's pretty harsh. Is it an attitude you can *really* live with?

    Yup.

    I help people all the time -- friends and family.

    I've helped put 'em through school, I've given 'em a place to live, I've fed 'em, given 'em a shoulder to cry on, provided references, even given them my only car!

    But I have NO desire to be forced by bureaucrats and their enforcers to give up my resources to help whoever THEY think I should help. I'd rather help family & friends -- and there is plenty enough need within my own family and friends to absorb any amount of resources I might ever have.

    Betcha a lot of folk change their tunes when their life goes to hell, be it clinical depression, stock market crash, job lose, old age...

    Let THEIR family help 'em. And if they don't have any family, let their friends help 'em. And if they don't have any friends, then Gold help 'em, cuz nobody else will [or should -- why don't they have any friends?]



    --
    A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
    Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

    [ Parent ]
    Rich, poor, who gives a shit... (1.50 / 2) (#229)
    by JediLuke on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 06:27:22 PM EST

    personally i don't like the thought that 24.3% of my income goes to help other people's social security, welfare, etc. that money should go to me if anyone. i feel the welfare system in america sucks ass. we give lazy sots who suck down our money (hard earned money) several years on welfare before they can even bother to look for a job.

    i say we:<br

  • only give welfare recipiants 6 weeks, 3 months if we are nice.
  • in that time they are given 3 job placements. if they don't like they have to find a job in the given time period. if not, they are off welfare.
  • the job thing helps cure the need for food coupons. therefore no abuse of that.
  • health insurance should be paid by your job.

    the other thing that pisses me off is people begging for my money. wtf? thats MY money. no you don't deserve it because you asked. shine my shoes, clean my car, mow my lawn or something. do you see me begging for money when i don't have it...no...thats cuz i work!

    so there is the cure for Health Care and Welfare.

    as for prisons. why not bring in more capital punishment.

  • murder...you get killed.
  • rape, you get your gonads choped off.
  • robbery, you have all your stuff hawked to pay for it.
  • etc.

    the golden rule. that should cut down on some of that bullshit.

    as for the government corruption. all cadidates should be given a level playing field. i say all donations go to a central point then are disbursed with no note to the cadidates of who donated it. any financing that doesn't get done this way, gets taken away to the amount in violation from the candidates account and they get fined the amount they were given. the money left over goes to schools or some shit like that
    -JediLuke
    "You're all clear kid, lets blow this joint and go home." -Han Solo

  • Yes, we've got problems, but... (none / 0) (#231)
    by Precious Roy on Thu Sep 21, 2000 at 12:36:28 PM EST

    * The top one percent of the richest Americans have wealth equal to the combined wealth of 95%of other Americans: "It used to be said a rising economic tide lifts all boats. Now a rising economic tide lifts all yachts."

    OK, I won't dispute that. It's a commonly known fact that there is a gross unbalance of wealth in this country. The debate is over how good/bad such an unbalance is.

    * Twenty percent of American children live in poverty; in the Netherlands that figure is three percent.

    How does The Netherlands get such a low figure? And whose definition of "poverty" are you using here? It's not exactly fair to enforce the U.S. government's definition (which is hedgy enough as is) and apply it to the currency of The Netherlands (the name of which escapes me currently), a country with a markedly different socioeconomic structure.

    * The minimum wage today is lower, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than in 1979.

    And Gone with the Wind, in inflation-adjusted dollars, is the top-grossing film of all time... my point being that you can't just take the dollar bill, figure an inflation value in, then make comparisons between the figures while ignoring all the other things that have happened in our society.

    * Today's worker works 160 hours longer per year than 25 years ago.

    60 * (160 / 365) = 26.3 minutes per day. I don't think the average person working less than an extra half an hour a day is contributing to the downfall of America.

    * Bill Gates' wealth equals the combined wealth of the poorest 120 million Americans, or 45% of our population. "This is a failure of the political system to defend the people."

    To quote Samuel L. Jackson's character in The Great White Hype, "You have a goal, and you have the balls to reach that goal." Bill Gates had a goal, and had the balls to drop out of Harvard to pursue it relentlessly. Most people don't.

    Just because someone's got a lot of money doesn't mean the "system" has failed.

    * Less than one in ten workers belongs to a trade union in the private sector.

    Unions were mostly established around the time of the Industrial Revolution to protect workers from truly horrendous working environments. Now, they're mostly used to eke a couple of extra bucks an hour out of the management. IMO, they've outlived most of their usefulness.

    * Two million Americans are in prisons, 500,000 more than in communist China, which has a 1.3 billion population.

    Like China's actually going to offer up accurate figures on something like this. Does this take into account the conditions these prisoners are kept in... or the condition our prisoners are kept in, for that matter?

    Given the choice, I'd take a prison in the U.S. over a prison in China any day of the week.

    * Forty-seven million people work for less than $10 an hour --- this in a decade of sustained economic growth. "With a wage like that, people can't be considered employed despite the fact that they have jobs."

    I'd like a further breakdown of this "47 million" figure into those that have actually graduated high school (or gotten a GED or something similar), done college work, dropped out, etc. Just because these people aren't making much money doesn't me it's the system's fault... it could very well be theirs.



    Yes, we've got problems, but... (3.00 / 2) (#232)
    by Precious Roy on Thu Sep 21, 2000 at 12:50:17 PM EST

    * The top one percent of the richest Americans have wealth equal to the combined wealth of 95%of other Americans: "It used to be said a rising economic tide lifts all boats. Now a rising economic tide lifts all yachts."

    OK, I won't dispute that. It's a commonly known fact that there is a gross unbalance of wealth in this country. The debate is over how good/bad such an unbalance is.

    * Twenty percent of American children live in poverty; in the Netherlands that figure is three percent.

    How does The Netherlands get such a low figure? And whose definition of "poverty" are you using here? It's not exactly fair to enforce the U.S. government's definition (which is hedgy enough as is) and apply it to the currency of The Netherlands (the name of which escapes me currently), a country with a markedly different socioeconomic structure.

    * The minimum wage today is lower, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than in 1979.

    And Gone with the Wind, in inflation-adjusted dollars, is the top-grossing film of all time... my point being that you can't just take the dollar bill, figure an inflation value in, then make comparisons between the figures while ignoring all the other things that have happened in our society.

    * Today's worker works 160 hours longer per year than 25 years ago.

    60 * (160 / 365) = 26.3 minutes per day. I don't think the average person working less than an extra half an hour a day is contributing to the downfall of America.

    * Bill Gates' wealth equals the combined wealth of the poorest 120 million Americans, or 45% of our population. "This is a failure of the political system to defend the people."

    To quote Samuel L. Jackson's character in The Great White Hype, "You have a goal, and you have the balls to reach that goal." Bill Gates had a goal, and had the balls to drop out of Harvard to pursue it relentlessly. Most people don't.

    Just because someone's got a lot of money doesn't mean the "system" has failed.

    * Less than one in ten workers belongs to a trade union in the private sector.

    Unions were mostly established around the time of the Industrial Revolution to protect workers from truly horrendous working environments. Now, they're mostly used to eke a couple of extra bucks an hour out of the management. IMO, they've outlived most of their usefulness.

    * Two million Americans are in prisons, 500,000 more than in communist China, which has a 1.3 billion population.

    Like China's actually going to offer up accurate figures on something like this. Does this take into account the conditions these prisoners are kept in... or the condition our prisoners are kept in, for that matter?

    Given the choice, I'd take a prison in the U.S. over a prison in China any day of the week.

    * Forty-seven million people work for less than $10 an hour --- this in a decade of sustained economic growth. "With a wage like that, people can't be considered employed despite the fact that they have jobs."

    I'd like a further breakdown of this "47 million" figure into those that have actually graduated high school (or gotten a GED or something similar), done college work, dropped out, etc. Just because these people aren't making much money doesn't me it's the system's fault... it could very well be theirs.



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