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Hey I know you have opinions, put them in here! Translation suggestions for episodes 25-39, thanks all for your help!

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#1 | Back to Top08-10-2008 12:54:59 PM

Stormcrow
Magical Flying Moron
From: Los Angeles
Registered: 04-24-2007
Posts: 5971
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Politics

This may not be the smartest thing I've ever done, but I can safely assume it's smarter than that time I put a paperclip in a stage socket.

Satyreyes has been giving us excellent election coverage, and it has been leading us into some tangential political discussions, but I didn't want to derail the ELECTION thread, so I figured I would start a thread for general political discussion. I'm posting this in GD, so BE POLITE. No matter how obvious something may be to you, DO NOT call anyone names, or imply that anyone who thinks something different from you is stupid. We're all friends here, so lets stay that way.

Now that that's out of the way...two distinct issues were recently raised:

1: Reaganomics

2: The advantages of republican vs democratic foreign policy.

Both lengthy subjects, but I'll start with a word about Reaganomics. I'm referring to the economic policy of the Reagan administration, which can be summed up as follows. Don't tax rich folks, because if you don't tax them, they'll spend money and the money will "trickle down" to the poor folks. It fits in nicely with the old conservative maxim of small government, but Reagan didn't really mean small government, he just meant low taxes. He spent more on the military than ever before, but the money...kind of came from nowhere. But that's sort of different from his economic policy. The flaw in Reaganomics is that rich people, like any other society, are interested in self-preservation. In other words, they don't WANT to spread out their riches. I wouldn't either, if I were rich. What I mean is, rich people actually SAVE more money than poor people, who can't really afford it. Now savings are good too, but if the point is to get money to circulate, then savings are going the wrong way. So there's my two cents on that subject, I'll try not to go on too long.

I figure this thread can be a good place for people to ask about any kind of political stuff, or talk about their politics, so lets hear em!


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#2 | Back to Top08-10-2008 03:16:27 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: Politics

Stormy, I think you misstate the premise of Reaganomics.  The idea is that cutting rich people's taxes gets them to spend more, yes; but generally it's not consumption but investment spending that is principally targeted. 

Generally, raising taxes makes people want to work less.  It's easy to see why; if the government's taking half of every dollar you make, you're less motivated to work hard for an extra $10,000 a year that is really only $5,000 after tax.  Reaganomics tries to take advantage of this principle.  If General Motors and its executives get a lower tax rate, they want to work harder, which for a company means growing the business, opening new plants, etc.  New plants mean new employees -- working- and middle-class people who need jobs.  By contrast, high taxes make it so hard to earn a buck (or a billion, but who's counting) that CEOs might just throw up their hands and say screw it, closing plants to reach a lower level of production -- and costing their workers jobs.

The other thing about high taxes is that they motivate people to look for tax shelters.  Companies and rich individuals will invest more energy in finding ways to hide their money when taxes are high than when they're low.  Between this and increased consumption and investment spending, the government may paradoxically make more money by cutting taxes.  It's related to the phenomenon where if you charge $1 a glass for lemonade, you'll make more money than if you charge $100 a glass (because no one wants to buy $100 lemonade).

I have mixed feelings about Reaganomics, but I wanted to put in my two cents about what its assumptions and objectives are.

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#3 | Back to Top08-10-2008 08:25:48 PM

Giovanna
Ends of the Forum
From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8700
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Re: Politics

The book I just finished discussed economics as both the golden child of the social sciences and its least successful, because it doesn't sufficiently factor in the psychology of spending and what people are liable to do. And he's right in that economists really do suck. Their power and reputation comes from being the only game in town, otherwise, they wouldn't be so constantly wrong and easily beat by any stock market junkie with a scrap of blind intuition.

It's always seemed to me that Reaganomics would work better if you gave rich people a different incentive to spend. Like...a huge tax on wealth being distributed to your children upon death. Would it ever happen? No. But lowering taxes for them isn't quite going to make them spend more on their jet. Where it concerns the government making more because they don't try as hard to find loopholes...is there any data on that? It makes sense, but at the same time I fail to see why the rich would suddenly stop paying their accountants to find loopholes anyway. That strikes me as where the slip of reason comes in. It's not the job of the wealthy man to find those loopholes, and he's never going to think the paycheck of X accountants can be better saved than spent letting them save him even more.


Also, do thou wear thine suits and cuffs, be thee male or no, for such attire doth please my girl parts. - Gios 3:15
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#4 | Back to Top08-10-2008 09:57:36 PM

Hedgehogey
Framed Landscaper
Registered: 01-30-2008
Posts: 430

Re: Politics

A rising tide lifts all boats...except the ones that sink. Reagonomics rests on a fundamentally naive assumption about the creation of wealth and how it is the wealthy become so. Wealth...true, huge wealth of the kind known to CEOs...is created by exploitation. Workers create and the exploiter class, includings CEOs, siphon off the product of this labor, leaving only enough for the worker to barely scrape by. All that a tax break for the very rich does is encourage them to find more efficient ways of accomplishing this exploitation.

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#5 | Back to Top08-10-2008 11:25:18 PM

Stormcrow
Magical Flying Moron
From: Los Angeles
Registered: 04-24-2007
Posts: 5971
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Re: Politics

Well, it is true that the disparity between the richest and poorest got a little out of control under Reagan...and is getting worse again under Bush. But Satyr is correct, the intent of Reaganomics was to INCREASE tax revenues by decreasing taxes, thus increasing productivity. Within that limited scope, it may have been effective. Even adjusting for inflation, tax revenues actually did increase in the Reagan era. Although part of that is because he actually RAISED payroll taxes (medicare and social security, which are only payed by lower and middle class taxpayers. Tax code is fascinating, it really is).

There is in fact an estate tax. In other words, you must pay a certain percentage of your estate to the government when you die. Naturally, conservatives are trying to eliminate it. At the moment, it only applies to estates exceeding $2 million at the federal level, and people are indeed inventive about finding ways around it. You could even argue that Warren Buffet figured out a way to not pay taxes on most of it, by giving it away.

The success of such a scheme, like most economic policies, lies in finding the right balance. It's true that paying more taxes makes people less ambitious, but as long as government is necessary, it must be funded somehow. My complaint about the conservative political agenda has to do with who is doing the paying more than anything else. And it is also worth noting that Reagan more than tripled the debt the US owes...he ballooned our military budget into the bloated monster it is today.


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#6 | Back to Top08-11-2008 12:42:16 AM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: Politics

Let me invert the question.  We've implicitly been asking "why do trickle-down economists want to lower taxes on the rich?"  Instead, let's ask "why would we want to raise taxes on the rich?"

If the answer is "because we need more money, and the rich have a lot of money," then we need to figure out whether raising taxes on the rich will actually increase tax revenues.  This is a question that in principle ought to be answerable, but in practice the economy is so complicated that it's very hard to trace out the effects of a tax code change.  That is, are we really taking in more money because we raised taxes, or is it something unrelated (like a healthier economy, more investment, etc.)?  I think most economists are currently of the opinion that lowering income tax on the rich increases tax revenue, but I could be mistaken, and Gio is right that economists generally don't really know what they're talking about anyway.  The point is that raising taxes will not necessarily solve the problem of needing more money.  "It's not obvious," as my econ professor was fond of saying.

If the answer is "because we don't like that CEOs make 364 times as much money as their line workers and we want to close the gap between rich and poor," then we're veering close to the communist line that businessmen exploit the poor and don't deserve their money.  This is something that has to be done very carefully.  364 times is a huge number -- if an average worker makes $30,000, the average CEO makes almost $11 million, a colossal disparity.  On the other hand, it's hard to argue that Bill Gates -- inventor of DOS, pioneer of the modern personal computer, and hence indirect architect of much of the modern world -- isn't entitled to his enormous wealth.  Furthermore, penalizing success by raising taxes on the rich makes people not try as hard to succeed, which hurts the people who could have been employed by a thriving business.  If we want to narrow the income gap, a steeply progressive tax code may not be the fairest or healthiest way to do it.  It's not obvious.

Studying economics, and subsequently studying the failings of economics, ultimately just made me frustrated at how hard it is to find answers that are obvious.  emot-frown

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#7 | Back to Top08-11-2008 03:26:02 AM

Clarice
Well hello, Clarice...
From: New Zealand
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 3102
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Re: Politics

Giovanna wrote:

It's always seemed to me that Reaganomics would work better if you gave rich people a different incentive to spend. Like...a huge tax on wealth being distributed to your children upon death. Would it ever happen? No.

I'm staying mainly out of the discussion because a) I'm not American b) I have no political acumen and c) I went to my parliament on Friday and all I wanted to do was spit on an MP's desk, but inheritance tax makes my skin crawl. We don't have it, but they do in the UK and it's horrible. You earn money, are taxed for earning it, are taxed for spending it, and then your beneficiaries are taxed for being given it? The English loathe it, and I do too. But don't say it won't happen in your country, because God knows some bright spark will realise the gold mine it really is.

Also, general aside on economics from John Hodgman: "They don't call [economics] The Dismal Science because it's fair. No, they call it that after Sir Eustace Dismal, the nineteenth century economist who proposed building smokestacks out of children. It was ultimately flawed, of course -- if you build the smokestacks out of children, who will you force to clean them?"

And this is why I don't participate in political debate. school-devil [bows out]


It takes forty-seven New Zealanders eight months to make just one batch of 42 Below Vodka. ...luckily, that leaves one of us free to be Prime Minister.

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#8 | Back to Top08-11-2008 08:31:34 AM

Stormcrow
Magical Flying Moron
From: Los Angeles
Registered: 04-24-2007
Posts: 5971
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Re: Politics

As I said, we do have an inheritance tax in America. But only on the very wealthy. As for the rich/poor gap, while I find it morally repugnant, what troubles me far more are the consequences of it. I don't like having one America for the super wealthy, and another for the crushingly poor. Here in Kansas City, they mostly don't need to mark the state line, because when you cross into Missouri, you hit a pothole. The difference is night and day between the posh, almost sylvan neighborhoods of Leawood on the Kansas side, and the run down rotting ghettos of Kansas City on the Missouri side. Granted there are nice neighborhoods in Missouri, Dematrah lives in one, but I hate seeing that separation. The police in Leawood never leave the border, because all they care about is watching unsavories from Missouri and making sure they don't steal anything or get unruly. I look at countries in South America, where you have around 10% of the people controlling 80% of the wealth...Things aren't that bad in the US, but I do worry about it. For one thing, when the gap becomes too large, the poor have to choose between being a servant class and stealing things. Not a pleasant choice.

On the more concrete side of things, ah great, I just lost my train of thought...oh yeah, I've always understood that in a healthy economy, it's the MIDDLE class that provides the most growth. Because usually, as wealthy as the wealthy are, there aren't enough of them to handle the whole thing by themselves. But it's a sad fact that right now we can't afford to raise taxes. In fact, we probably should be cutting them, at least on the poor and the middle class. Why? Because the economy is in recession. But that's another debate that I'll leave out for now.

Like I said earlier, balance is the key, and balances are often very delicate. Before Reagan took office, the effective tax rate on the wealthiest Americans was around 70%. Even I admit that's excessive. At the moment it's 35%. This is just income tax I'm talking about, I know nothing about capital gains taxes. But it's also true that if we simply taxed everyone at say 30%, it would drive possibly millions of people into poverty. If you only make $25000 a year, you really don't have 30% to spare. So we have the so-called progressive income tax, under the premise that with more disposable income, you can afford to pay a higher tax rate without disturbing your lifestyle overmuch. It actually works fairly well, though it does need frequent adjustment as conditions change. And people are very sensitive about taxes, so you see social movements trying to screw with things. Bush's tax cuts for example were disastrous, and contributed to the collapse of the housing market, as well as slashing government revenues right before the largest expansion of the federal government since...Reagan. Funny that. Similarly, you see people on the far far left suggesting madness like an income cap, where you make a certain amount, but any more than that goes to the government. Fortunately, no one takes THEM seriously though.


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#9 | Back to Top08-17-2008 11:37:53 AM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: Politics

From the Election thread!

On the topic of what would happen if McCain got to appoint justices, Stormcrow wrote:

Well, that would be the end of abortion rights in this country. If that case is overturned, abortion could be banned at the federal level...

Hang on a second.  Roe v. Wade was primarily about state laws against abortion.  Saying the federal government could ban abortion is Constitutionally a whole nother question.  There are all kinds of things that are illegal that the federal government can't ban.  There is no federal law against murder, for example.  Laws against murder are made and enforced by the individual states.  Why?  Because the Constitution gives the federal government no power to legislate murder, and the Tenth Amendment says that powers not given to the federal government are reserved for the states or the people.

Now, the Supreme Court has been a little iffy -- okay, sometimes more than a little -- about actually enforcing the Tenth Amendment, and have interpreted the federal government's power pretty broadly in recent years.  But it's really hard to see where they'd find a clause of the Constitution that permits Congress to ban abortion.

Stormcrow wrote:

...and even if that didn't happen, it would certainly be banned in most states. Maybe not California or Massachusetts or even New York, but then this is a much hotter issue than gay marriage, and one that it's harder to debate. I mean, we're talking about killing babies, right?

Some states would certainly ban abortion.  Others wouldn't.  I daresay a majority of the population would live in pro-choice states, but life could kind of suck for an unwilling mother in, say, Kansas, who can't get an abortion legally and doesn't live near a state where she can.  So the operative question is:

Is the right to get an abortion so important that it ought to be removed forever from the democratic process by enshrining it as a Constitutional right, as Roe v. Wade did?

See, generally when a right is controversial, we hash it out by voting on it, or by voting for legislators who then vote on it.  What pisses pro-life people off more than anything is that they don't have any avenue to express their democratic opinion.  They can't even just elect pro-life Congressmen, because barring a Constitutional amendment, the Supreme Court has more authority than Congress.  Abortion is a right because five out of nine old guys say it's a right, and damn what anyone else thinks.  Imagine how frustrated you'd be if gay marriage, say, became forever illegal because five out of nine old guys found a way to bend the Constitution to say that no state can recognize marriage between two individuals of the same sex.  "Shouldn't we at least be allowed to vote on this?" you'd say.

For my part, I lean pro-choice, but I also lean towards thinking that Roe v. Wade should be overturned.  The Supreme Court's power of judicial review is critical to the preservation of our rights within our democracy, and using that power to protect rights that don't exist in the Constitution, such as abortion, turns that power into a political weapon rather than a civic guarantee.  It also diminishes respect for the Court and the critically important job it has to do.  Democracy means that we don't always get what we want.  Let's let the states have it out, and cross our fingers that plenty of states see things our way.

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#10 | Back to Top08-17-2008 03:31:51 PM

Stormcrow
Magical Flying Moron
From: Los Angeles
Registered: 04-24-2007
Posts: 5971
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Re: Politics

Ideally, yes. The states would make their own decisions about abortion, as they would about drugs. Or gun ownership. Or...segregation? You see how this doesn't always work. And as you yourself have pointed out, congress walks all over the states on drugs too. I think that without Roe v Wade, there is every chance of a federal abortion ban...well, perhaps Roe v Wade IS irrelevant here. But I think another Scalia on the bench might make a federal abortion ban possible.The man has made it very clear that legal rectitude is second to national security in his mind, and I feel safe saying that Thomas, Alito and Roberts feel the same. Would they support a federal abortion ban? I'd rather not find out.

I suppose what I'm saying is that I no longer trust America to keep abortion legal...ANYWHERE. And frankly if it does get banned I'll have to have a vasectomy, it's that simple. It's sad not trusting my country to do what seems obvious and relying on what may in fact be a distortion of the constitution to keep things the way I think they ought to be, but there you are. Again I point to the so-called war on drugs. If we had a Supreme Court decision mandating that marijuana be legalized, I'd try to protect it as well, even though it would be even more wrong than Roe v Wade.

Finally...abortion debate is a nasty nasty thing. It's entirely possible that I'm hoping to avoid it blowing up on the national stage all over again, which as you say is un-democratic of me...I suppose I'll cross that bridge when the time comes, but I still hope that Roe v Wade stays intact.


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#11 | Back to Top08-17-2008 04:07:23 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: Politics

Stormcrow wrote:

Ideally, yes. The states would make their own decisions about abortion, as they would about drugs. Or gun ownership. Or...segregation? You see how this doesn't always work.

Oh, yes, certainly!  I didn't mean for the bolded question above to be rhetorical at all.  There are definitely some rights that are so important that they cannot be subject to democractic process and the tyranny of the majority.  Freedom of speech and the right to a fair trial, for example, are bedrock principles of our civilization; that's why they're written into the Constitution (through the Bill of Rights), where a simple majority can't get to them.  The evil of segregation has similar stature, so we have the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to put it beyond the reach of the Alabama state legislature.  The question is, first, whether the right to abortion is just as important -- basic and inalienable like free speech, so important that it must be put beyond the reach of popular democracy -- and, second, whether that right exists in the Constitution.

Stormcrow wrote:

And as you yourself have pointed out, congress walks all over the states on drugs too.

It surely does, and what's more disgusting is that the Supreme Court lets it happen, finding penumbras of penumbras that expand Congress's power beyond anything the Founders could possibly have wanted.  But the advantage to our side of returning abortion to the arena of democracy is that a majority of Americans are pro-choice.  We won't elect legislators who will outlaw abortion federally -- and if they do, we'll vote them out, and the party responsible will lose 75% of the female vote for a generation.

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#12 | Back to Top09-17-2008 12:20:43 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
Website

Re: Politics

From Clusterf**k:

OnionPrince wrote:

Also, I'm curious where exactly you're finding fault with Obama here. Can you be more specific regarding distortions on the economy and bad fiscal policy?

Sure! -- though of course your mileage may vary on what constitutes a distortion or bad fiscal policy.

Here's my satirical little portrayal of the two rounds in the ring since Lehman Brothers and their ilk collapsed.

Round One
MCCAIN: The fundamentals of the economy are strong.
OBAMA: Um, excuse me, are you paying any attention at all?
[Round One to Obama!]

Round Two
MCCAIN: I meant the economy is bad, but I have a plan: I'll set up a 9/11-style commission to determine what's wrong with the economy and how to fix it.
OBAMA: That is all talk.  This is not 9/11; everyone knows what went wrong.  What we need now is leadership, not a commission.

And I've got a problem with this.  It's all well and good to say "McCain is out of touch" and "we need leadership," but at some point you have to step forward and say how you're going to fix the problem.  McCain has at least gestured towards that with his commission, and honestly, given that McCain is by his own admission no expert on the economy, putting the question to a commission sounds like a sane and responsible idea, not just a passing of the buck.  But how would Obama fix the economy?  By "providing leadership?"  Would he beam charisma waves at Ben Bernanke until the Fed finds a magic way to cut interest rates without accelerating inflation?  If he's going to criticize McCain for not providing specifics, he needs to pass his own test and tell us what he's going to do.

Another example of distortions:

Obama wrote:

This country can't afford another four years of this failed philosophy [of trickle-down economics]. For years, I have consistently called for modernizing the rules of the road to suit a 21st century market - rules that would protect American investors and consumers. And I've called for policies that grow our economy and our middle-class together. That is the change I am calling for in this campaign, and that is the change I will bring as President.

Wait a minute.  As I understand it, the mortgage crisis was brought on by banks being too eager to make mortgage loans to people without means to pay them, and those people being too eager to take them out.  But the Democrats, including Obama, have been pushing near-universal home ownership for years.  Now I'm supposed to believe that Obama, unlike almost everyone on and off Wall Street, foresaw the housing collapse?  And favored making it harder for poor people to own homes?  I didn't hear him say anything about it at the time.  No one was paying attention until it was too late, and both parties share equally in the blame.

As for trickle-down economics itself, this gets into the fiscal policy stuff.  I talked about how I feel about that earlier in this thread.  To sum up, if you make over $2.9 million, the difference between Obama's tax plan and McCain's tax plan for you is about $1 million per year.  You will pay a million dollars more in taxes -- a million! -- under Obama than under McCain.  I know, I know -- cry me a river, right?  But it's just common sense that if you cut rewards to entrepreneurship, which is especially critical in a failing economy, entrepreneurs will not work as hard, or will retire early, or won't get into the business at all.  I agree in principle that people ought to be taxed more who can pay more, but Obama's $700,000 of additional taxes on people making not much more than $3 million is a bridge too far.  And adding regulations on top of that, most of which would have done nothing to stop the present collapse, only heightens the disincentives.

Because I know it's fashionable to hate the corporations and the people who run them, and often that's justified -- but they do drive our economy.  They are the reason I could own a house someday.  They're the reason I can go to the supermarket and be treated, even now, to abundance unheard of in most countries at prices that would once have been impossible.  They're the reason that if I get seriously ill I will not only receive some of the best health care in the world, but I'll get it for no more than $15,000 out of pocket no matter how lengthy and expensive my treatment is.  Should financial institutions be subject to common-sense regulation?  Absolutely.  When their greed hurts millions, should they be condemned?  You bet.  But don't tell me rich people are undeserving sons of bitches who don't contribute anything to society and don't deserve their bounty.  We can live the lives we can because of rich people.  We should not treat our entrepreneurs like money fountains.

Obama wants to treat entrepreneurs like money fountains.  I respect that he wants to pay for some of his massive spending expansions (all but a piddling $350 billion of new deficit a year) by raising taxes.  That is fiscally responsible.  (Or at least, more fiscally responsible than McCain's plan, where the number is $500 billion.)  But he wants to do it by soaking the rich for every dime he can while cutting everyone else's taxes.  That is pandering, and it is dangerous, especially in a bad economy.  If Obama were serious about reducing the deficit so that we aren't at the mercy of Chinese bankers for generations, he would talk about reducing spending and balancing the budget.  Instead, he points to the fact that not all of his new spending will have to be borrowed from abroad and uses it as evidence of what a good fiscal conservative he is.  I have a problem with that.  It's just the asset bubble on the scale of the entire federal government.  The level of spending he and McCain want is not sustainable, and when China decides we've run through our credit line, the bubble will pop.  And we'll have to cut spending whether we want to or not.

Last edited by satyreyes (09-17-2008 12:22:11 PM)

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#13 | Back to Top09-17-2008 02:58:35 PM

Stormcrow
Magical Flying Moron
From: Los Angeles
Registered: 04-24-2007
Posts: 5971
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Re: Politics

Actually, I saw the housing collapse coming about 5 years in advance. It was kinda obvious really, I think most people that were supposedly paying attention had themselves convinced that housing wasn't like other sectors and wouldn't have the bubble thing. I mean, a house is an obvious physical asset, not some vague intellectual property. But speculation is speculation, and that's a big part of the problem. I didn't even KNOW about the subprime situation...I just don't understand how those who were following the situation didn't see this coming.

That aside, I think it's safe to say that Obama is exaggerating a bit. Which sucks. I'd like to see a genuinely honest presidential candidate who doesn't have to use such propaganda to get elected, but I don't think I will anytime soon. As for the drastic tax structure...I kinda don't think that's actually going to happen. And honestly I hope it won't. Hopefully that's just his starting position, and he'll negotiate a compromise about that...eh, we'll see.

OK, naptime.


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#14 | Back to Top09-17-2008 03:44:04 PM

OnlyInThisLight
KING OF ALL DUCKS
Registered: 01-15-2008
Posts: 4408

Re: Politics

Oh wow.  Um.

Who I am or am not or maybe voting for aside, just popping in to say READING ALL THESE BIG POSTS ON POLITICS = SEXY.

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#15 | Back to Top09-17-2008 06:47:31 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
Website

Re: Politics

Stormcrow wrote:

Actually, I saw the housing collapse coming about 5 years in advance. It was kinda obvious really, I think most people that were supposedly paying attention had themselves convinced that housing wasn't like other sectors and wouldn't have the bubble thing. I mean, a house is an obvious physical asset, not some vague intellectual property. But speculation is speculation, and that's a big part of the problem. I didn't even KNOW about the subprime situation...I just don't understand how those who were following the situation didn't see this coming.

With you!  I can't quite claim five years, but I called the bubble popping about two years before it happened -- at just the time my ex-girlfriend was getting into real estate.  She was telling me excitedly about what a can't-miss industry this was, and how home prices were just going to go up and up from now on.  I tried very hard not to rain on her parade, but I reminded her that nothing goes up forever, and that when assets in bubbles come down they tend to come down hard.  She emphasized to me that absolutely everyone she'd talked to in the industry was of the opinion that it was going to keep growing, absolutely, for certain, forever.  So she got her realtors' license.  She and a friend ran a small realty firm for two years and didn't sell a house the entire time.  emot-frown

So I called it too, and this was without knowing about subprime mortgages.  I mean -- what???  Criminal stupidity on all sides there.

Last edited by satyreyes (09-17-2008 06:49:35 PM)

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#16 | Back to Top09-17-2008 07:02:49 PM

Hedgehogey
Framed Landscaper
Registered: 01-30-2008
Posts: 430

Re: Politics

Stormcrow wrote:

As I said, we do have an inheritance tax in America. But only on the very wealthy. As for the rich/poor gap, while I find it morally repugnant, what troubles me far more are the consequences of it. I don't like having one America for the super wealthy, and another for the crushingly poor. Here in Kansas City, they mostly don't need to mark the state line, because when you cross into Missouri, you hit a pothole. The difference is night and day between the posh, almost sylvan neighborhoods of Leawood on the Kansas side, and the run down rotting ghettos of Kansas City on the Missouri side. Granted there are nice neighborhoods in Missouri, Dematrah lives in one, but I hate seeing that separation. The police in Leawood never leave the border, because all they care about is watching unsavories from Missouri and making sure they don't steal anything or get unruly. I look at countries in South America, where you have around 10% of the people controlling 80% of the wealth...Things aren't that bad in the US, but I do worry about it. For one thing, when the gap becomes too large, the poor have to choose between being a servant class and stealing things. Not a pleasant choice.
.

Hoo man. You think you've got it bad in Kansas? Try my hometown, washington DC. The segregation is by BLOCK, which leads to line walkers like me having to play a game of socioeconomic minesweeper with addresses.

PS: Actually, according to the CIA world fact book and state of the world atlas, the united states is about level with the average of wealth inequality (but not poverty) for South American Countries. Among first world nations, we lead in inequality.

Last edited by Hedgehogey (09-17-2008 07:06:44 PM)

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#17 | Back to Top09-17-2008 09:17:26 PM

OnionPrince
Covert Diarist
From: Nagoya
Registered: 10-28-2007
Posts: 876

Re: Politics

Satyr, I find it funny that we're having this discussion, because if it weren't for your posts on the election, I might not have gotten this fired up about politics. Therefore you are to blame for the following monstrously tl;dr post I'm about to make! (j/k emot-keke)

Did you watch Obama's September 16 speech by any chance? He addressed a lot of the issues you brought up, and personally I think the problems he identified and solutions he proposed were more or less spot on. I mean, I'm no expert, but he sounded at least a billion percent more interesting than anything McCain has said.

(Here's the transcript of that speech, for everyone's convenience.
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articl … risis.html)

satyreyes wrote:

But how would Obama fix the economy?  By "providing leadership?"  Would he beam charisma waves at Ben Bernanke until the Fed finds a magic way to cut interest rates without accelerating inflation?  If he's going to criticize McCain for not providing specifics, he needs to pass his own test and tell us what he's going to do.

I reckon he just did yesterday. See the quotes below.

For the record, I actually agree with Obama that a commission is not the solution. Just think about how long the 9/11 commission took to complete. We need to fix this now, not in two years. Besides, what if some or all of the people involved in that commission do not have the best interests of the American people in mind? What if they won't make a tough decision if it helps the poor but hurts their own wallets?

satyreyes wrote:

Wait a minute. As I understand it, the mortgage crisis was brought on by banks being too eager to make mortgage loans to people without means to pay them, and those people being too eager to take them out.

Yes, this type irresponsibility is a major part of the problem, and Obama is apparently well aware of it.

Obama wrote:

"In February of 2006, I introduced legislation to stop mortgage transactions that promoted fraud, risk or abuse."

...

"To prevent fraud in the mortgage market, I've proposed tough penalties on fraudulent lenders, and a Home Score system that will ensure consumers fully understand mortgage offers and whether they'll be able to make payments. To help low- and middle-income families, I will ease the burden on struggling homeowners through a universal homeowner's tax credit. This will add up to a 10 percent break off the mortgage interest rate for 10 million households. That's another $500 each year for many middle class families."

His answers aren't perfect, but there are no perfect solutions here. What more can he say? "It's all your fault because you idiots tried to buy homes you couldn't afford?" Even if that was entirely true, it's not the best strategy for winning votes.

satyreyes wrote:

But it's just common sense that if you cut rewards to entrepreneurship, which is especially critical in a failing economy, entrepreneurs will not work as hard, or will retire early, or won't get into the business at all.

Can you provide me hard statistical evidence where raising taxes for only the rich reduces entrepreneurship? Can you even find an anecdote of someone who said, "oh yeah, I could totally start a business and make millions of dollars, but the taxes are just too high?" Sorry, but I don't see that line of thinking as common nor sensible.

Besides, Obama promises to *encourage* entrepreneurship!

Obama wrote:

"I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America. I will eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses and start-ups - that's how we'll grow our economy and create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow."

Hell, yes.

satyreyes wrote:

I agree in principle that people ought to be taxed more who can pay more, but Obama's $700,000 of additional taxes on people making not much more than $3 million is a bridge too far.

Too far? I say it's not too far enough! I could not possibly care less about people who make that much money. What percentage of people who start businesses ever make nearly that much? How many realistically even hope to? And how many actually make that kind of money through honest work? They do not give a rat's ass about you or me or anyone else as long as we keep buying gasoline and shopping at their megastores and and listening to their CDs and watching their sporting events. They are the problem, not the solution.

Listen, these same people have teams of personal accountants to cut every corner and use every loophole to reduce the amount of taxes they pay anyway. And chances are, they got their wealth by backstabbing allies, mercilessly crushing competitors, giving American jobs to oversea sweatshops or illegal immigrants, manipulating stocks and real estate markets, and being generally unscrupulous. I say again: FUCK THE RICH. Bleed them dry for all I care. They've run this country into the ground, and I don't owe them anything but my foot up their ass.

If by some miracle (tm), I ever start making $3 million a year, I will GLADLY hand over hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes to the federal government. At this rate, though, with my worthless degree and ridiculous costs of living here, I will never own a house or have enough money to retire. So forgive me if I don't shed a tear over some privileged oligarch who might not be able to afford another summer home or another yacht or whatever other luxurious BS they buy. There are people such as myself who are barely getting by-- people who are being screwed over by financial policy that favors the rich. Quite frankly we can no longer afford to stand for it.


Finally, let me take a moment to address non-economic issues. Yes, Obama has said some things that disappoint me. I recoil every time he mentions god and cringe when he says he does not support gay marriage. But he's a politician, and he has to say those things if he wants any chance of being elected. It's not his fault, okay? It's the fault of the vast majority of Americans who have been brought up to believe a bunch of bronze-age fairy tales. It's the fault of people who value vapid superstitions and ancient prejudices over reason and humanity. The zeitgeist must change before our politicians do, because they come from our communities and are elected only by agreeing with the majority. The public is partly to blame when the politicians take such backward stances on social issues. It is, literally, a necessary evil to get elected in this country. All we can really do as voters is choose the lesser evil.

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#18 | Back to Top09-17-2008 09:39:53 PM

OnlyInThisLight
KING OF ALL DUCKS
Registered: 01-15-2008
Posts: 4408

Re: Politics

I love you death Onionprince, but I gotta say, it's not really the rich's fault that we are consumer whores who buy the crap out of everything they sell.  Should we be allowed to buy the hell out of everything we want and they not be able to make an appropriate profit?  And to say that all rich people do not deserve their wealth is also a gross generalization.  Celebrities and heiress princesses are the wealthy who do not deserve their money, not the business leaders who keep their heads out of the spotlight, but all we see are those that waste their resources on Mtv and in the tabloids, which is a part, but not all of the upper class.

Fair is fair;  If I work to make the money, I want the damn money.  Whether that is a fair percent of my 350 check or my 2 million check makes no difference.  You earn what you earn, that is what drives our economy.  Sometimes, it's not people being unaware of how good they have it, it's just them wanting what they worked for.

And businesses will fail if not properly motivated; and not just the business heads, either.  Less money for the bigwigs also means less compensation for their workers.  And while a remaining one million dollars seems like enough to satisfy us for the rest of our lives, it's not for the people who have million+ mortgages and cars to pay for. 

Like I mentioned above, taking loads of cash from people like Paris Hilton sounds great, because, well, fuck lazy-ass, spoiled Paris Hilton, but taking a massive cut of money from the guy who studied and spent 50,000 on college and has spent a good fifty years of his life climbing ladders and gaining experience and know-how, just because he's more well off than you?

That's just spite and jealousy. 

And that's all I'm saying, because I am very much an idiot when it comes to this kind of stuff. :#

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#19 | Back to Top09-17-2008 10:30:23 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
Website

Re: Politics

I agree with OITL, OnionPrince.  I was taking you seriously right up until "not too far enough," and then you sort of went off the rails as far as I'm concerned, I'm afraid.  emot-frown  It sounds like you aren't even suggesting taxation as a means to redistribute wealth and reduce the gap between classes, which I at least have sympathy for; you're actually suggesting punitive taxation to punish rich people for the damage you presume they have caused those below them.  It's certainly true that many rich people are undeserving, and still others are abusive; but this is not the rule.  Even if it were, using the government as a weapon of class warfare is about the worst policy idea I can think of.  No one likes Wal-Mart, right?  Double their corporate tax rate and see what happens.  Their stores are no longer profitable.  They have to shut down.  Before you celebrate, remember that Wal-Mart has 2.1 million employees, mostly American, and most of them make about as much money as you do.  Many will have to enroll in welfare.  Mom-and-pop stores may return to some street corners, but they will charge higher prices than Wal-Mart, offer less variety, and employ far fewer people.  Residents of some towns may have to drive fifty miles (at $4 a gallon) to buy a garden hose.  And the government will get less tax revenue, because there is no longer anything to tax.  "Fuck the rich" is not the bedrock philosophy of a sound economic plan.

On to the first part of your post.  I was impressed by Obama's speech, which I hadn't read before except in fragments; it's much better in its entirety.  Though he spends a lot of time criticizing McCain, it would be unfair to say he didn't present detailed policy proposals of his own, which I applaud.  Some were common-sense ideas I can definitely get behind.  A lot of them, though, are fricking expensive, and produce perverse incentives.  Here's an example.

Obama wrote:

Confident of their clout in Washington, [S&Ls in the 1980s] made hundreds of billions in bad loans, knowing that if they lost money, the government would bail them out. And they were right. The gambles did not pay off, our economy went into recession, and the taxpayers ended up footing the bill. Sound familiar?

Hey, he has a point -- there are real negative consequences to setting a precedent that the government will bail you out if you get in trouble.  So why this?:

Obama wrote:

I worked with leaders in Congress to create a new FHA Housing Security Program, which will help stabilize the housing market and allow Americans facing foreclosure to keep their homes at rates they can afford.

Whoa whoa whoa.  He wants to use my taxes, the taxes of a person who made no irresponsible home-ownership decisions, to bail out people who bought houses they knew they couldn't afford -- so they can keep their homes?  Daaaaaamn!  Talk about rewarding irresponsible lending and borrowing practices!  One would hate to set a precedent that you can be as shortsighted as you want and the government will bail you out, wouldn't one?  It almost makes me want to go take out a subprime mortgage.

In fairness, a lot of new homeowners were misled by the mortgagers into thinking they could afford homes, and I like the idea of setting up a more neutral system to help people judge whether they're ready for home ownership.  But others did know they couldn't afford their homes, and still others said to themselves "well given that my home has almost no down payment, I'm not invested in it; I can just walk away if things go south."  That is not a calculation we want government to encourage.

Anyway, Obama will bail out irresponsible borrowers while bringing us universal health care, paying for every hardworking child's college education, escalating the war in Afghanistan, and investing $150 billion in alternative energy -- oh, all while cutting taxes on 95% of Americans.  How will he pay for it?  Well, he'll bring our troops in Iraq home, he'll close some tax loopholes, and he'll tax the rich more.  That's a start.  I respect that he's trying.  But I have to imagine that if we are tremendously lucky, these measures together will hardly pay for one of those promises, let alone all of them -- and that's assuming that the tax code changes don't backfire as in our Wal-Mart example.  We are just going to be more in debt to the Chinese creditors who Obama dislikes so much in the context of them funding the war in Iraq.

If you are running a tight household, you figure out how much income you have, and then figure out what you can afford to spend it on.  Neither McCain nor Obama has any interest in living within our means.  emot-frown

Last edited by satyreyes (09-17-2008 10:42:14 PM)

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#20 | Back to Top09-17-2008 11:31:53 PM

Stormcrow
Magical Flying Moron
From: Los Angeles
Registered: 04-24-2007
Posts: 5971
Website

Re: Politics

There are other theories of economics. I remember being taught in economics class that a deficit is fine when the economy is in recession. That it's actually a good idea. At the moment that's complicated by the fact that we're already in debt up to our eyeballs because Reagan and Bush II thought it was a good idea to run huge deficits when the economy was doing well. In effect, they looted the treasury and gave the money to their drinking buddies. I don't want to go on and on here though, I know spite doesn't do us any good today.

Regarding the progressive tax code...yeah, Satyr is pretty on target here. As was OITL. I'll argue until I'm blue in the face that the rich should pay more than the poor in taxes, but not because they're inherently bad. Even if they are, and they're not, it is not the job of government to enforce morality. Redistribution of wealth is well and good, but I'm not a class warrior. There's no reason people shouldn't be rich fundamentally. Communism isn't really viable. Socialism is another matter, though, and I'm pretty well in favor of it.

So what does this boil down to? We've got some rough times ahead. And neither candidate has the balls to say so. Can you blame them? Look what happened to Carter when he had the nerve to point out there were problems. Fundamentally I suppose the problem is that the American people in aggregate don't think they have to bow to reality. That's why people are so eager to swallow Bush's fairy tales. How else could people have really bought that the people of Iraq would love us? I admit in my more pessimistic moments I worry that people won't accept this harsh reality until we really hit the skids. Assuming we haven't already...we may have. I don't think it's quite that bad yet though. On the other hand...bleah, on top of the economic facts we're sticking our heads in the sands over, there's this awful dream of empire that has us in its grip.

Well, great. Now I'm depressed. Heh, I almost look forward to grading tests now.


"The devil want me as is, but god he want more."
-Truck North
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#21 | Back to Top09-18-2008 12:14:56 AM

OnionPrince
Covert Diarist
From: Nagoya
Registered: 10-28-2007
Posts: 876

Re: Politics

OnlyInThisLight wrote:

Like I mentioned above, taking loads of cash from people like Paris Hilton sounds great, because, well, fuck lazy-ass, spoiled Paris Hilton, but taking a massive cut of money from the guy who studied and spent 50,000 on college and has spent a good fifty years of his life climbing ladders and gaining experience and know-how, just because he's more well off than you?

That's just spite and jealousy.

Admonishment accepted, OITL; I respect your opinion. But the current economic system has hurt me and those I care about too much and too often. You're darn right I'm spiteful and jealous. Why wouldn't I be? The American Dream has promised us that we can all be millionaires, or at least, we can all have a comfortable life if we work hard. Turns out it's all bullshit, because the system is intrinsically broken. If everyone had the chance to go to ivy-league college and had the connections necessary to climb ladders, it would be fair, but that's not how things are.

Perhaps I said too much in my above rant; after all, I posted immediately after watching the market drop another 450 points and an equivalent amount of my savings met with oblivion. (I'm probably still too raw about it to post a coherent or rational message, but oh well.) And while my words were inspired primarily by the desire to reduce the gap between classes, I'd be lying if I said "revenge" wasn't also part of it. However, am I wrong to want to punish those who have what they do not deserve?

I firmly believe that the rich who made their money in any sort of honorable way (i.e. hard work, fair business practices, without screwing over others or the economy as a whole) are just a tiny minority of the upper class. Our economy does not reward fair play. Instead we have inside traders who profit from manipulating the market, real estate agents who prey on foreclosures, fuel conglomerates that squelch alternative energy, and companies who ship jobs to third-world countries to keep more money for their executives. They do not "earn" what they earn, in my opinion. A scientist or inventor does. A talented author, perhaps. A skilled surgeon, sure. But they are the exceptions rather than the rule.

Imagine a person with inherited or borrowed wealth who buys homes, slaps a coat of paint on, and sells them a short time later for immense profit. Now imagine thousands of people doing that everywhere every day, driving property prices through the roof. It's quick, easy, and completely vile. It's also exactly what has happened where I live and in many other places, and I'm sure it played a large part in the tremendous economic collapse we're seeing now.

satyreyes wrote:

Wal-Mart

Yes, Wal-Mart provides jobs for a whole lot of people and has good selection and good prices. But how many smaller stores were put out of business by them? How much damage is caused to US industry by their almost complete reliance on foreign products? Does their CEO really deserve to make billions of dollars while his workers make minimum wage? Is it fair? Is it worth it? I honestly don't know. I still shop there despite these moral conflicts because, frankly, I'm poor. I have little other choice if I want to save money.

Stormcrow is right, I suppose, in that the government can't force people to be moral. But can't they do something to at least level the playing field for everyone? To at least make some effort to make the American Dream even close to a reality for the underprivileged? I don't think any one single president can fix everything, but I'd prefer one who at least seems like he'll try.

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#22 | Back to Top09-18-2008 01:36:01 AM

Stormcrow
Magical Flying Moron
From: Los Angeles
Registered: 04-24-2007
Posts: 5971
Website

Re: Politics

OnionPrince wrote:

I firmly believe that the rich who made their money in any sort of honorable way (i.e. hard work, fair business practices, without screwing over others or the economy as a whole) are just a tiny minority of the upper class. Our economy does not reward fair play. Instead we have inside traders who profit from manipulating the market, real estate agents who prey on foreclosures, fuel conglomerates that squelch alternative energy, and companies who ship jobs to third-world countries to keep more money for their executives. They do not "earn" what they earn, in my opinion. A scientist or inventor does. A talented author, perhaps. A skilled surgeon, sure. But they are the exceptions rather than the rule.

Is it fair?

Leaving aside the larger philosophical concern for a moment...we live in a country predicated on the idea that people are innocent until proven guilty. It seems to me that that means we can't pass judgment on people for having a lot of money without some kind of due process. So are we going to have trials where the charge is being rich, and you have to prove you earned it properly, productively? And without that process, would we condemn everyone without any concern about whether they were "right" or "wrong"? So you see there are problems there...

Now back to the large issue...while there are excesses, and I would be the first to point out that the disparity between the very wealthy and well...everyone else...is getting out of hand...making money is one of the main driving forces behind our economy. Now maybe it would be better if our economy slowed down a little and people learned to be happy with what they have now, but economic growth on the whole is fine by me. And if you can't get rich, that's not likely to happen much.

Sorry, that's not very coherent. It's late.


"The devil want me as is, but god he want more."
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#23 | Back to Top09-18-2008 08:47:41 AM

Giovanna
Ends of the Forum
From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8700
Website

Re: Politics

Or computer can eat my mile long reply. emot-frown Oh well. BREVITY. Sorta.

While 'fuck the rich' certainly hits my personal revenge g-spot, the fact is raising taxes on the rich is not going to get anyone any more money, for exactly the reason I tend to think 'fuck the rich.' I agree with satyr and OITL that CEOs and the wealthy don't, only by merit of their wealth, deserve punishment. It's when they use this economy, this society, these tax laws, these government perks for big business, to make their millions...and then hide that wealth overseas to dodge taxes entirely. While it doesn't quite satisfy, you're more likely to get the money by lowering taxes and making them more willing to keep their money here. Better we get a little tax money than none at all, after all. Raising taxes on the rich is a typical poor man's mantra when it's time to vote, but what they never tell you is the rich don't keep their money here. You can raise taxes until you're blue in the face and not squeeze a drop out of these assets, because they're kept in other countries. 'Overseas account' is one of those scary terms used in movies about money that no one really understands, but it's true. How do you think Donald Trump manages to own NYC and still go bankrupt at least once a month? Punish money kept elsewhere or provide an incentive to keep it here. Raising taxes on money the government can't get at accomplishes nothing.

As for the housing market, anyone with any sense should have seen this coming. I sure did. But it's one of those things where you can't point a finger. Bail outs? No mercy! Why let the government cover your ass when it can't afford to cover its own? By the same token, people are going to lose their homes, and that's never good for the economy. Yet, shouldn't these people have read the fine print? Whose fault is it if you take out a variable rate mortgage you can't afford just because you could? But again...can't we point a finger at the educational system in the States? We are raised to be consumers but not taught even the basics of financial responsibility. Most people can't calculate interest, don't understand the fine print on their phone bills, and have no idea how credit works, is improved, or destroyed. Some of this is their own damn fault for not being more proactive about learning. The rest? How do you fight a beast that receives years of education in how to hand you your financial ass?

I feel for Obama, or anyone else trying to offer a solution to something complicated beyond anything we can imagine. McCain, however, is copping out. A commission? Yeah? That'd be nice if there was a game in town that had the chops to solve this problem. But economics isn't the space race, because economists aren't scientists. You can throw enough scientists at an issue and usually get somewhere with it. Economists, frankly, are retarded. They've never provided an answer not immediately one-upped by a clever businessman with a sense of intuition.


Also, do thou wear thine suits and cuffs, be thee male or no, for such attire doth please my girl parts. - Gios 3:15
Chiefest of Calamities

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#24 | Back to Top09-18-2008 11:46:32 AM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
Website

Re: Politics

OnionPrince wrote:

I firmly believe that the rich who made their money in any sort of honorable way (i.e. hard work, fair business practices, without screwing over others or the economy as a whole) are just a tiny minority of the upper class. Our economy does not reward fair play. Instead we have inside traders who profit from manipulating the market, real estate agents who prey on foreclosures, fuel conglomerates that squelch alternative energy, and companies who ship jobs to third-world countries to keep more money for their executives. They do not "earn" what they earn, in my opinion. A scientist or inventor does. A talented author, perhaps. A skilled surgeon, sure. But they are the exceptions rather than the rule.

You could be right.  As far as I know, no one's done an ethical survey of all America's rich people.  Nevertheless, I wonder what your sample size is.  I know more skilled surgeons than I know inside traders, more ethical businessmen than unethical ones.  The bad guys get more press because they hurt so many people.  It doesn't make them the majority, let alone the vast majority.

The businessman I've had the opportunity to know most personally is my father.  Dad was born in the Bronx to the children of immigrants in an age where labor had even less protection than it does today.  His family had nearly no money, and it was often all they could do to keep a roof over their heads.  Through hard work in and out of school, harder work than I've done in my life, Dad nonetheless managed to go to college, and from there to law school.  After school, with mountains of debt, he finally managed to get a job in real estate law, and at length he was hired by a restaurant company as their full-time legal consultant.  His pay was still not much more than enough to manage his debts and take care of himself and his wife, though, so when given the chance to run a franchise of another restaurant chain, he jumped at the chance.

Dad has spent the last two and a half decades of his life running a few restaurants called Cheddar's in the Midwest.  I think at the height of his business he ran eight of them, but that number dwindled as the years went on.  I don't think he ever reached that $2.9 million a year mark that Obama uses to separate the rich from the superrich, but between his stores and his investments, his income touched seven figures in his best years.  Let me repeat that: through talent, hard work, and a willingness to undergo hardship for the sake of his future and that of his family, a poor boy from the Bronx rose to make a million dollars a year.

Did he hurt people in the process?  Well, there are a lot of ways to measure that.  I could tell the story of how when he got out of the business in early August, he paid all his office staff (who for assistants were very well-paid in the first place) through the end of the year.  I could tell how his restaurants had comment cards on every table, and how for over two decades Dad has read each and every one.  (People who wrote a negative card received a letter of sincere apology along with a free meal certificate.)  I could tell how his wait staff's turnover rate and the prices on his menus were both lower than his competitors'.  But instead I'll tell the story of how when one of his restaurants burned down due to faulty wiring, local news coverage showed crowds of people gathered around, many of them crying.

Why were they crying?  Well, some of them had met their true love in that restaurant's walls.  For some, spending Friday nights at Cheddar's was an indulgence they were proud of and were sad to have to sacrifice.  Some probably just missed being able to get a gigantic fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie stacked with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge sauce, and a cherry on top for $3.59.  And still others just had smoke in their eyes.  But when something you build is so valued that when it burns down strangers cry over it, you know you're doing something right.

So no, not all businessmen are dirty, exploitative bastards who climb to riches over other people's corpses.  My dad made a lot of people's lives a little more enjoyable, and in return he got paid for it.  There's nothing prurient or despicable about that.  Punish the bad guys by all means; but rich people as a class are not the enemy.

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#25 | Back to Top09-18-2008 12:23:18 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
Website

Re: Politics

Stormcrow wrote:

There are other theories of economics. I remember being taught in economics class that a deficit is fine when the economy is in recession. That it's actually a good idea. At the moment that's complicated by the fact that we're already in debt up to our eyeballs because Reagan and Bush II thought it was a good idea to run huge deficits when the economy was doing well. In effect, they looted the treasury and gave the money to their drinking buddies. I don't want to go on and on here though, I know spite doesn't do us any good today.

This is a good point, and one I should have acknowledged.  I'm not going to say that deficit spending is always and in every case bad.  I think I'd be so bold as to claim that deficit spending is okay, if and only if the spending will pay for itself.  In a recession this happens a lot, because spending more than you have to pull yourself out of a recession sooner makes the country richer and more able to pay off the debt.  But we should budget with an eye towards spending only what we have.  If we have to spend a little more some years to stay prosperous, fine, but we should do it judiciously.  Violation of this rule has led to our current national debt of around $9.7 trillion.  To put that in context, if every man, woman, and child in America gave $30,000 to help pay off the national debt, there would still be more than enough left over to buy the entire nation of Paraguay.  This is a lot of money, and we are going to have to pay it back someday.

The budget deficit right now -- how much more we spend every year than we earn -- is estimated at $410 billion (enough to buy Jamaica, slightly cheaper than Paraguay).  Obama wants to nearly double it.  McCain wants to more than double it.

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