Author Topic: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?  (Read 13554 times)

COguy

  • Bristles
  • **
  • Posts: 99
  • Location: Longmont, Colorado
Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« on: November 13, 2012, 01:51:08 PM »
At the risk of seeming insensitive, I wanted to see what all of you folks thought of this.  Is it just complaining? 

http://wearethe99percent.tumblr.com/

It seems to me that if one followed mustachian principles they sould get out of sticky financial situations much easier.  Ride a bike, in source everthing, etc...Yet, I know I was lucky to be born to good parents and some of these people were not and I feel that that stacks the deck against them. 

Obviously, the medical expenses make sense as being very hard to overcome, but what about the rest?

DocCyane

  • Magnum
  • ****
  • Posts: 306
  • Age: 45
  • Location: California
  • Keep going. You're doing just fine.
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2012, 02:35:13 PM »
When reading these stories, I see a mix of unfortunate circumstance and deliberately bad choices. I feel compassion, but with limits.
Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end.

madgeylou

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 585
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2012, 02:45:03 PM »
funny, i sent this link to MMM a few months ago when occupy wall street was in full swing. his response, which i think is totally dead-on, is that the real problem is that about half of the 99% don't get that they are in the 99%. they think they are just millionaires in waiting or something. so they aren't motivated to fight for more affordable health care / fairer financial laws / more regulations that protect the commons. they'd rather live with the dream of someday being rich themselves, and therefore protecting the rights of rich people to make / hoard as much money as possible, than with the reality of a fairer, cleaner, juster, more awesome society.

of course, there are people in there that, yeah, maybe should have saved their money. but that's like telling someone who's broke who has six kids that they should have thought of that before they bred so much. the toothpaste is out of the tube by that time. doesn't do any good.

here's the last bit of MMM's response to me:

"So, to change the political and economic landscape, you need to get the 50% of the population that doesn't realize they are part of the 99%, to start thinking differently. Phrasing it in the form of rich-person-bashing might backfire. But phrasing the argument in the form of "let's make capitalism more pure by weeding out corruption so we can all be more prosperous" might appeal to these people. (?)"

i definitely sympathize with OWS because, to me, it's clear that our government is largely run by and for the benefit of rich people and corporations. i think there is a way to moderate the excesses of capitalism while keeping the motivational parts. but i agree with MMM that class warfare language might not be the way to go, at least not in the current political environment. it excludes too many people who really shouldn't be excluded.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2012, 02:47:55 PM by madgeylou »
Be Less Crazy:  the blog, the column, the book

totoro

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1201
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2012, 02:52:10 PM »
Ihere is an undercurrent of entitlement in some these stories.   If you can't afford a car, don't have one.  Lots of folks don't.  If you are living at home and working 40-50 hours a week why can't you pay off $33,000 in student loan debt?

Medical bills are; however, a big issue in the US I think.  That is something that can be both financially devastating and partially unavoidable.


swick

  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 595
  • Location: Beautiful BC
    • Growing Creative Kids
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2012, 03:29:45 PM »
One solution that has come out of the Occupy movement is http://rollingjubilee.org/ basically taking donations to raise  to buy people's debt for pennies on the dollar and then abolishing it.

While this is a very interesting idea and test case, it doesn't sit well with me to just "wipe the slate clean" in many cases. If it was only medical debt, I would donate. But it concerns me when they say ". Before purchasing debt, there is only limited information as to whose debt we are buying."  I don't feel like paying for someone's consumer debt.

They are trying very hard to educate people and there are loads of resources which i think is great. It will be interesting to see what happens, any thoughts?

tooqk4u22

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1459
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2012, 03:43:21 PM »
Yes this is just complaining.  Where is written that we are all entitled to live a great life, own homes, have cars, eat gourmet food, not have roomates, and all while not having to work hard.  OWS was complete horseshit movement - a bunch of lazy, entitled, and uninformed people.  Can't afford a house, then rent. Can't afford an apartment, then get a smaller place, a roomate or live with family. 

Does there need to be some more regulation - no we are drowning in it as we speak. Does it need to exist, absolutely but in a more thoughtful and productive way.  The regulations that exist slow down commerce and don't address the core problems.  Everything that led to the financial crisis is still possible today - nothing has changed on that front other than the cost of doing business.  F'in politicians always add but never take away or amend prior regulations.

Do the rich control politicians - well based on this last election and the massive entitlements that exist I would argue that it is split equally by the rich and not rich.  Politicians don't care about anything other than getting elected/reelected so they will cater to both sides when the the other isn't looking.  Obama said he would do away with lobbyists - instead they got bigger and more powerful, owe yeah and then super PACs in a big way. 

We need a new breed of politician more than we need anything else - ones that are from the people, for the people, and highly principled and willing to make tough decisions knowing that you can't please everyone.  Unfortunately this person doesn't exist in politics.


NICE!

  • Stubble
  • *
  • Posts: 36
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2012, 01:31:12 AM »
Both Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party are healthy populist developments which are natural reactions to seriously concentrated corporate/government power. Both have positives - in general, Occupy is great at calling out crony capitalism and more while the Tea Party is great at calling out massive deficits and more. Both have blind spots - in general, Occupy is blind to regulatory capture while the Tea Party is blind to corporate malfeasance.

There are idiots, whiners, freeloaders, bigots and more in every crowd. Don't let the bad apples (or even the bad half of the apples) color your perception on valid critiques of the status quo.

As for the blog, I am half-positive on it for reasons already stated here. Some lessons need to be learned the hard way (credit card debt for goodies) while others I'm more than willing to lend helping hand (medical debt).

Adventine

  • Magnum
  • ****
  • Posts: 335
  • Age: 25
  • Location: Manila, Philippines
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2012, 02:39:59 AM »
I was originally fascinated by that tumblr, then I just got bored with it after the majority of posts were like "BOO HOO I'M SO SCARED OF LIFE WITHOUT MEDICAL INSURANCE" Ugh. Truly classic First World Problem.

TwoWheels

  • Bristles
  • **
  • Posts: 72
  • Age: 24
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2012, 11:43:58 AM »
I have very mixed feelings about it. I am willing to accept that this movement may be in part a reaction to legitimate injustices, ones of which I have been largely unaware due to a privileged upbringing. So while I don't want to come off as heartless, the core mindset of OWS seems to be "my problems aren't my fault," which doesn't sit well with me. I firmly believe that until you acknowledge that your own choices have had a hand in your current situation, things will not improve for you because you'll be continually transferring the responsibility to others, effectively leaving yourself powerless. As an extreme (though realistic) example, if you run up your credit cards to pay for gas, corporate greed is not the problem, and fixing corporate greed isn't going to make you any less irresponsible the next time you're faced with a difficult financial decision.

I know two people who identify strongly with OWS:
- Person #1 has been (mostly) unemployed for two years. But it's entirely of his own making; before my own eyes he has passed up opportunity after opportunity, preferring instead to get drunk and generally do nothing while living on his parents' money.
- Person #2 turned down a six-figure job at Microsoft after graduating, taking a job at a smaller company instead. He posted on that tumblr when the company cut his benefits. He probably makes $80k a year or so. Waah, waah.

madgeylou

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 585
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2012, 12:12:17 PM »
to me, there are two ways of looking at this.

one is the individual level. when an individual is asking me for advice, my advice is ALWAYS going to be to take as much responsibility for your own situation as you can. it doesn't matter if you're the minorest minority and you're oppressed more than anyone else. what matters is what you can do about it.

the other is the societal level. when you notice that certain classes / races / genders of people tend to fall into the same traps and have the same kind of difficulties getting out of them, then that says to me that the playing field is not level, which means that some bigger-picture stuff has to change.

many of the people who identify themselves as the 99% have made mistakes and could definitely benefit from a good old-fashioned face punch. many of them could also benefit from society as a whole being less classist / racist / sexist.

it's always a mix of personal responsibility and environmental factors. you can't point to either one being "the reason."
Be Less Crazy:  the blog, the column, the book

ehgee

  • Magnum
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2012, 02:23:43 PM »
I was originally fascinated by that tumblr, then I just got bored with it after the majority of posts were like "BOO HOO I'M SO SCARED OF LIFE WITHOUT MEDICAL INSURANCE" Ugh. Truly classic First World Problem.
Life without medical insurance isn't a problem in any of the first world outside the US. It is a second- or third-world problem.

It seems reasonable to me for a person to worry about being permanently financially ruined if a person needs to access a hospital or being unable to get treatment if a chronic disease is contracted. Obamacare, which will be implemented in earnest by 2014, will not fix these things, but it will improve them.

Adventine

  • Magnum
  • ****
  • Posts: 335
  • Age: 25
  • Location: Manila, Philippines
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2012, 05:11:03 PM »
I was originally fascinated by that tumblr, then I just got bored with it after the majority of posts were like "BOO HOO I'M SO SCARED OF LIFE WITHOUT MEDICAL INSURANCE" Ugh. Truly classic First World Problem.
Life without medical insurance isn't a problem in any of the first world outside the US. It is a second- or third-world problem.

It seems reasonable to me for a person to worry about being permanently financially ruined if a person needs to access a hospital or being unable to get treatment if a chronic disease is contracted. Obamacare, which will be implemented in earnest by 2014, will not fix these things, but it will improve them.

Those are good points. But for someone like me, who's lived practically her whole life without health insurance, and who hardly knows anybody in her middle-class Third World strata who has health insurance, the spectacle of seeing post after post of Americans whining about not being insured (or worrying about the possibility of not being insured) is fairly ludicrous.

To me, it seems like all these OWS posters just can't see how privileged they are to even have the option (however expensive) of having insurance. How privileged they are in the first place to have internet and webcams to post their grievances online. Because all of these things are, from my cultural perspective, luxuries.

So many people I know personally, like my parents, make do without insurance, and they don't feel the need to whine about it publicly. It's just life. They deal with whatever problems come their way.

And so, to see so many whiners complaining publicly about something that is very low on my culture's list of priorities in order to go on living... It is just distasteful.

Bakari

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1193
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • The BioDiesel Hauler
    • The Flamboyant Introvert
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2012, 05:44:05 PM »
for someone like me, who's lived practically her whole life without health insurance, and who hardly knows anybody in her middle-class Third World strata who has health insurance,

You realize that you are in a country that has public health insurance, right? 
Unlike the US. 
Even though it is, as you call it, a 3rd world country - it has less than 1/10th the GDP per capita of the United States, and yet it has universal health coverage, and the US still doesn't.
You are also 23.  Wait a few more decades and see if you still have never had a reason to seek medical care.

Point is, the US has much more than enough to provide for something so basic, we just have a mixed up set of priorities where the government feels it is more important to insure corporations can make the maximum possible profit than to look after the well being of its citizens.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2012, 05:46:20 PM by Bakari »
Anything I've said here useful or interesting?  Find a lot more of my thoughts here: http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/

Adventine

  • Magnum
  • ****
  • Posts: 335
  • Age: 25
  • Location: Manila, Philippines
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2012, 09:22:01 PM »
for someone like me, who's lived practically her whole life without health insurance, and who hardly knows anybody in her middle-class Third World strata who has health insurance,

You realize that you are in a country that has public health insurance, right? 
Unlike the US. 
Even though it is, as you call it, a 3rd world country - it has less than 1/10th the GDP per capita of the United States, and yet it has universal health coverage, and the US still doesn't.
You are also 23.  Wait a few more decades and see if you still have never had a reason to seek medical care.

Point is, the US has much more than enough to provide for something so basic, we just have a mixed up set of priorities where the government feels it is more important to insure corporations can make the maximum possible profit than to look after the well being of its citizens.

Bakari, the public health insurance here is far from universal, despite what the government might proclaim. Only a small portion of the population is qualified to receive it because relatively few employers (the big corporations, for the most part) pay the necessary taxes that enable their employees to qualify for PhilHealth (the national health insurance system). Tax evasion, whether by SMEs or individuals, is unfortunately the norm here.

And even then, PhilHealth will only cover a small percentage of hospital fees if you want to get treated at a decent medical facility, which usually means a private hospital and tons of extra fees. In a public (free or almost free) hospital, it isn't uncommon to see two or more patients sharing a single cot for several days. I've never been to the US, but I don't think that the situation in the Philippines is better just because our goverment calls our public health insurance "universal."

Like I said, I, my family and most people I know in real life, have had to make do without health insurance for the better part, which is why it rubs me the wrong way when people complain about this issue.

I suppose being 23 and never having had serious health issues is part of why I am so annoyed at the posters on the We Are The 99% blog. But from where I'm standing, they are being giant complainypants over a relatively minor issue. Having no health insurance is not the end of the world, but they make it out like it is.

Nudelkopf

  • Magnum
  • ****
  • Posts: 400
  • Age: 22
  • Location: Queensland, Australia
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2012, 11:23:57 PM »
While that would seriously suck to not have the peace of mind that if you get sick then you won't be financially ruined. But if you know it's going to put you on the streets if you don't have health insurance & you do get sick, then shouldn't insurance be deemed a necessity, just like groceries, rent, etc?

totoro

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1201
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2012, 10:08:12 AM »
I see health care as a basic need that, if not covered, is something worth worrying about and a legitimate reason to ask for help and asssistance if these costs have caused you to use all your assets and borrow to the max to pay for illness.  The fact that in the Phillipines this has been accepted as a reality not worth complaining about given the general hardships of life does not change my opinion.  I have spent time in Russia with family and life is similarly hard there with covering basic food costs - but illnesses are often catastrophic and people just die without care.  That crosses a line for me. 

I'm in Canada and we do have universal health care.  I pay nothing each month for coverage as I am covered by my spouse's work plan.  There is even a maximum on prescription costs and the whole plan is related to income.  I am grateful for this as I would always be concerned about illness without it.  Even more, would be tempted to delay going to see the doctor until things got "bad". 

I don't really agree with the "we are the 99%" website otherwise.  It encourages offloading personal responsibility imo. 
If you lose your job, take any job you can get.  Incurring consumer debt and having expectations that you won't have to go without a car or cellphone are just annoying to me.  I'm not even sure that medical illnesses are valid given that in the US it appears that you can buy private coverage for the cost of operating a car per month or less.   Given the choice, I would choose health care.  It should come above all non-essential spending imo.

Paul der Krake

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 794
  • Age: 1338
  • Location: North Carolina
    • Mustachian Monthly
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #16 on: November 15, 2012, 10:48:24 AM »
My take on this is that a large amount Americans seem to forget that you can't scream for freedom of choice and then complain about the government not doing enough to protect you. Personal responsability doesn't only applies to others, or only when the sun is shining and money is flowing.

In the United States, you are free to do an insane amount of stupid things. States give out driver's licenses to virtually anyone with a pulse. In NC, the same driver's license allows you to drive ANY vehicle of up to TWENTY SIX THOUSAND POUNDS, no special course necessary. Consumers can and will take out more and more debt, because companies are allowed to sell those debt products to them. With taxes so low, the government provides the bare minimum and individuals are responsible for providing their personalized safety net.

Which is completely fine! It is different from most first world countries, but hey it's a trade-off. The game isn't rigged, you (generalized you) just didn't read the rules.
Mustachian Monthly, news that matter.

Sylly

  • Bristles
  • **
  • Posts: 93
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2012, 12:23:04 PM »
Interesting source of data: http://apps.who.int/gho/data/#
If you go to the World Health Statistics / Health Ependitures section and compare the US to the Philippines (just b/c we're already talking about it, not picking on Adventine) the US government pays more more of total healthcare spending (~50% vs 35%), and have much smaller percentage of out-of-pocket private healthcare spending (~25% vs 83%). Despite it's lack of universal health coverage, the US has far better health coverage than the Philippines with its purported 'universal' health insurance.

It seems to me that relativity applies here as well.

The worst that can happen to you without health insurance in the US is still significantly better than elsewhere. If you don't have money, emergency care will not be denied you. Even if you have cancer, there are charity organizations who will still take you on and foot your bill. There is bankruptcy protection. There are government aids.

You are not so lucky in other countries. There might not even be a facility that can treat you that's within reasonable distance. There's no government handouts.

So, compared to the rest of the US, you feel as if you're at the bottom of the barrel. Yet there are people out there who would gladly trade places with you.

I'm not saying the standards shouldn't be raised, such that access to health care is available to everyone, even in the poorest countries. I'm saying even those without health insurance in the US has so much more opportunity (and also generally has much higher standard of living -- hello internet and webcam/cameraphone) than so many other people, that I'm not surprised that the people on that blog comes of as a bunch of complainypants to those who have seen first hand people contentedly living their lives with "worse" conditions.

Quote
Even more, would be tempted to delay going to see the doctor until things got "bad". 

More people should also realize that just like for a car, regular maintenance prevents big expensive fixes down the road. Similarly, in health care, regular checkup allows for early detection of things. Consulting a medical professional when symptoms first appear may save you the progression to worse conditions. IMO, this kind of behavior would fall under one of those choices with consequences.

Bakari

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1193
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • The BioDiesel Hauler
    • The Flamboyant Introvert
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2012, 12:58:30 PM »
In a just world, instead of the ridiculously excessive wealth of the top 0.01% being redistibuted among the American middle class, who have plenty enough already, it should be distributed among the people of the 3rd world.

I think that's two places where the OWS people get it wrong.  The "1%" share more in common with the 99 than they do with the 0.01, and the 99 really don't need nor particularly deserve a portion.
Anything I've said here useful or interesting?  Find a lot more of my thoughts here: http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/

ehgee

  • Magnum
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2012, 02:00:16 PM »
In the United States, you are free to do an insane amount of stupid things. States give out driver's licenses to virtually anyone with a pulse. In NC, the same driver's license allows you to drive ANY vehicle of up to TWENTY SIX THOUSAND POUNDS, no special course necessary. With taxes so low, the government provides the bare minimum and individuals are responsible for providing their personalized safety net.

Which is completely fine! It is different from most first world countries, but hey it's a trade-off. The game isn't rigged, you (generalized you) just didn't read the rules.
A lot of these things aren't completely fine, in my book. Unfortunately, one can only do so much (through defensive walking/bicycling/driving) to provide a personal safety net against idiots driving enormous heavy vehicles dangerously with an essentially-irrevocable driver's license. Changing that is worth fighting for, in my book.

Likewise, I've been able to build myself a very nice personal safety net so far, but that's because I had frugal, careful parents who taught me these skills, and did a lot of work to be sure I was raised safe and sound. That's irreplaceable, but there are a lot of things that a good government can do to help people not screw themselves irrevocably.

Adventine: one thing worth noting that may be different in the US vs. the Philippines is that health care is much more expensive here, and isn't designed to be purchased by someone without insurance. A person can't get an accurate price quote for a procedure before going to a hospital, and, even worse, the bill paid by an uninsured person is usually much higher than the price an insurance company pays for the same procedures, because an individual has much less negotiatory clout than a large insurance company.

Sylly

  • Bristles
  • **
  • Posts: 93
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #20 on: November 15, 2012, 02:16:18 PM »
Adventine: one thing worth noting that may be different in the US vs. the Philippines is that health care is much more expensive here, and isn't designed to be purchased by someone without insurance. A person can't get an accurate price quote for a procedure before going to a hospital, and, even worse, the bill paid by an uninsured person is usually much higher than the price an insurance company pays for the same procedures, because an individual has much less negotiatory clout than a large insurance company.

The first part (i.e. health care in the US is ridiculously expensive) is true. I'm not so sure about the second part. I don't know how prevalent this is, but there at least some places, where that second part is not true. If it's widespread, one starts to ask, "Why the hell do we have health insurance to begin with?"
http://articles.latimes.com/2012/may/27/business/la-fi-medical-prices-20120527


AJ

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 721
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Oregon
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #21 on: November 15, 2012, 04:05:29 PM »
In a just world, instead of the ridiculously excessive wealth of the top 0.01% being redistibuted among the American middle class, who have plenty enough already, it should be distributed among the people of the 3rd world.

I think that's two places where the OWS people get it wrong.  The "1%" share more in common with the 99 than they do with the 0.01, and the 99 really don't need nor particularly deserve a portion.

THIS!!! Of course, easier said than done (redistribution of wealth to developing countries isn't that simple in practice, even if you could get people to agree to it). But, in principle, THIS!

Adventine

  • Magnum
  • ****
  • Posts: 335
  • Age: 25
  • Location: Manila, Philippines
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #22 on: November 16, 2012, 07:54:58 PM »
A lot of good points raised here:

So, compared to the rest of the US, you feel as if you're at the bottom of the barrel. Yet there are people out there who would gladly trade places with you.

I'm not saying the standards shouldn't be raised, such that access to health care is available to everyone, even in the poorest countries. I'm saying even those without health insurance in the US has so much more opportunity (and also generally has much higher standard of living -- hello internet and webcam/cameraphone) than so many other people, that I'm not surprised that the people on that blog comes of as a bunch of complainypants to those who have seen first hand people contentedly living their lives with "worse" conditions.

Thanks, Sylly. This is exactly what I was trying to say about the We Are The 99% blog. Here are people with access to internet and webcams to post their grievances about benefits that seem (the operative word being seem) like luxuries to people in other parts of the world, and they are complaining that they are poor? Relatively speaking, to me, they are still quite well off.

Also, thank you for being sympathetic, but I don't consider the recent posts as "picking on me," as you mentioned. I consider everything part of a healthy discussion about issues that affect all of us, all over the world.

Adventine: one thing worth noting that may be different in the US vs. the Philippines is that health care is much more expensive here, and isn't designed to be purchased by someone without insurance. A person can't get an accurate price quote for a procedure before going to a hospital, and, even worse, the bill paid by an uninsured person is usually much higher than the price an insurance company pays for the same procedures, because an individual has much less negotiatory clout than a large insurance company.

Ehgee, I don't have the figures to prove which country's health care costs are more expensive, but I can tell you that I've heard of the same health insurance shenanigans happening here (all anecdotal evidence, no personal experience).

In a just world, instead of the ridiculously excessive wealth of the top 0.01% being redistibuted among the American middle class, who have plenty enough already, it should be distributed among the people of the 3rd world.

I think that's two places where the OWS people get it wrong.  The "1%" share more in common with the 99 than they do with the 0.01, and the 99 really don't need nor particularly deserve a portion.

THIS!!! Of course, easier said than done (redistribution of wealth to developing countries isn't that simple in practice, even if you could get people to agree to it). But, in principle, THIS!

I completely agree. Everyone all over the world has a right to decent food, shelter and education. Everything else is pretty much optional. If only there was a way to funnel the excess to those in need... but that is a completely different topic.

I'm not trying to belittle the legitimate hardship and suffering that many are experiencing. I have extended family (naturalized US citizens) living through this nightmare right now. But I am offering a perspective from the "outside." I am someone who is not living in the American context. I am not part of American society. And to me, the We Are The 99% blog/the Occupy Wall Street movement looks like mostly whining.

Miaow1

  • Stubble
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #23 on: November 18, 2012, 07:20:15 PM »
I feel I have to step into this discussion. The worst that can happen in the United States is that without health insurance you die.

I have held a  six month old baby in my hands with a 105 degree fever while on the phone begging health providers to treat the child. She had already been sent home from the emergency room because her American Indian parents didn't have insurance. The child eventually died from undiagnosed Meningitis.
 
I have also seen American Indian children get violently ill from diseases that aren't found in the general American Population because they live in the city and do not have access to vaccines. (i.e. measles)

I went without health insurance for 15 years as an adult and ended up with undiagnosed TB which also killed me. The TB has left me with permanent health problems.

A black child in US cities has less chance of reaching their fifth birthday than in any other first world country. This is largely because of lack of access to health care

Could these scenarios have happened in Canada or in other countries with Universal healthcare yes they could have. However, the chances of them happening are far less than in the U.S.

I am praying that Obamacare works. Not for me. I now have a Cadillac health care plan and will probably be able to keep it, but for the children.

grantmeaname

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 3301
  • Age: 21
  • Location: Columbus, OH
  • The plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data'.
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #24 on: November 19, 2012, 07:48:16 AM »
She had already been sent home from the emergency room because her American Indian parents didn't have insurance. The child eventually died from undiagnosed Meningitis.
Since the passage of EMTALA in 1986, that theoretically hasn't been an issue. Is that a dated experience, or is this an example of EMTALA being totally ignored by the hospital? If the hospital was ignoring their legal responsiblity, I can't help but think that there's a legal advocacy nonprofit that would be willing to represent the family and bring the organization to justice.
 
Quote
I have also seen American Indian children get violently ill from diseases that aren't found in the general American Population because they live in the city and do not have access to vaccines. (i.e. measles)
Measles affects less than one millionth of the population in a given year (last year, it was 222 patients). I'm sure it can affect individuals in strong and poignant ways, but it's far from a public health problem compared to pretty much anything. Hell, my genetic condition, which is so vanishingly rare that there are only a handful of specialists in the whole nation, affects more people each year than measles!

Quote
I went without health insurance for 15 years as an adult and ended up with undiagnosed TB which also killed me. The TB has left me with permanent health problems.

Since you're fortunately able to continue posting here, I assume you mean it almost killed you. You have my sympathy, of course, but again: tuberculosis affects .003% of Americans in a given year. It's pretty much an eliminated disease, and it's dropped by 60% in the last twenty years. CDC doesn't quantify the number of severe cases, but the number of fatalities in 2009, the last available year, was 509. That's a two in a million occurence.

Quote
A black child in US cities has less chance of reaching their fifth birthday than in any other first world country. This is largely because of lack of access to health care
Citation needed.

Quote
Could these scenarios have happened in Canada or in other countries with Universal healthcare yes they could have. However, the chances of them happening are far less than in the U.S.
If you got anything out of this post, I hope it's this: the plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data'. Canada has more tuberculosis than the US. Canada had 750 cases of measles in 2011, or over three times as many as the US, for a population that's one tenth the size of ours. That's thirty times the incidence rate, based on back-of-the-envelope math. And your EMTALA example, while still an anecdote, reinforces the point that good enforcement is crucial even when appropriate laws are in place. Apparently, Canada is lacking good enforcement, appropriate laws, or both, if they're doing so much worse on both those metrics. Public health is a tough nut to crack, and it takes more than anecdotes, snap value judgments, and calls to "think of the children".

tooqk4u22

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1459
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #25 on: November 19, 2012, 08:09:11 AM »
I completely agree. Everyone all over the world has a right to decent food, shelter and education. Everything else is pretty much optional. If only there was a way to funnel the excess to those in need... but that is a completely different topic.

I completely disagree.  These are not rights, they are needs - historically when there was not sufficient food and shelter populations would move, reproduction would decline, and that population would dwindle and eventually not exist in that area (i.e. it makes no sense to live in a desert with no water - yet the world ships food and water and these people still struggle).  Subsidizing these environments simply extends the issue and does not cure it. 

Education is also not a right but it is a key to growing and thriving individually and as a population.....and maybe even figuring out the first point that if it makes no sense to live in a certain area then move. 

As for healthcare, there needs to be comprensive reform that is thoughtful and cost effective, Obamacare is neither.  We essentially have nationalized healthcare through medicare, medicaid, and ER rights all of which are frought with waste and fraud yet don't get fixed - the government (both Republicans and Democrats) have shown know ability to efficiently and judiciously allocate the taxes that it imposes and receives - I do not want a single additional dollar getting in their hands until they prove otherwise. 

As a nation the US spends much more on healthcare (both per capita and as a % of GDP) than anywhere else....and then when you compare average life expectancies it seems we are not even getting the bang for our buck.  So clearly something is wrong.   How about allowing insurance companies to compete over state lines.  How about small primary care/outpatient clinics scattered around (btw large hospital groups are doing this, so it must make sense economically).  How about saving a few hundred billion by streamlining and updating the medicare/medicaid programs and doing away with waste and fraud.  So many obvious things to start with, but instead we decided to add another program that makes no sense and will be costly and poorly run on top of the ones we already have.



Bakari

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1193
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • The BioDiesel Hauler
    • The Flamboyant Introvert
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #26 on: November 19, 2012, 09:36:10 AM »
I completely agree. Everyone all over the world has a right to decent food, shelter and education. Everything else is pretty much optional. If only there was a way to funnel the excess to those in need... but that is a completely different topic.

I completely disagree.  These are not rights, they are needs

In the most objective sense, there is no such thing as a "right" in the first place.  Its something granted by a government.  In the real world a deer has no "right" to not be eaten by a wolf.  Nor do you have a "right" to not be murdered by a mugger.  Then of course you have no right to "property", never mind privacy or representative government.
For that matter, the rich don't have a "right" to any of their wealth, so perhaps it should just be them and their hired militia to stand between the masses and their stuff, not government sponsored police.

However...

We have all collectively decided to organize society into this thing called "civilization", and we get to decide that basic necessities should be rights. 
If you want to be all philosophical and say that morality is a purely human mental construct, that's one thing (and then rape, murder, whatever you want is ok, so long as you don't get caught), but if we accept the existence of morality as an axiom, then letting some people have yachts and Bentlys with inherited money while others are born into homelessness is wrong.

« Last Edit: November 19, 2012, 09:44:30 AM by Bakari »
Anything I've said here useful or interesting?  Find a lot more of my thoughts here: http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/

Bakari

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1193
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • The BioDiesel Hauler
    • The Flamboyant Introvert
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #27 on: November 19, 2012, 09:53:56 AM »

Yes, a lot of middle class people make stupid choices and think they are poor.  Yes, a lot of people have an undeserved sense of entitlement.  Whatever random people decide to post a pic to a 99% website don't define the entire movement.  The simple fact is the US has the 2nd highest level of wealth inequality of any first world nation, and the 5th highest in the world.
Its not because we have an unusually extreme distribution intelligence and work ethic (that some Americans are smarter and work harder than anyone else in the world, but most are stupid and lazy), its because we have laws set up that specifically reward already having money, and therefor naturally concentrate wealth to extremes. 

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_distribution_of_wealth
And especially see the last 5 of the external links at the bottom of that page:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_distribution_of_wealth#cite_note-2008april-1

That is what OWS is about.  Not just some whiny self-entitled middle class people with internet connections and a camera.

Comparisons with the American working class and other nations are not apples-to-apples.  There is a big difference between a nation not providing for its people because there simply is no money available, and having an enormous excess of wealth available which is just hoarded by a few people.
Certainly for any given individual personal responsibility and talent and work ethic and frugality all play into success, but for society as a whole there is a finite amount of material resources at any given time, and when 12 people - literally twelve - hold as much wealth between them as the poorest 150 MILLION Americans (thats about 1/2 the entire population) then that limits how much is available to everyone else. That level of wealth is obviously outside of any possible amount that could be justified by differences in natural talent and work ethic. 
We don't have anything remotely resembling a level playing field.

There was once a time where in most of the world the King owned everything, and everyone was his subject.  He got the position by being born into it.  Most of the world has gone out of their way to move away from that model.  Some of us see the current extreme concentrations of wealth (and the influence of money on government) as being a step back towards an aristocracy.
Personally, I'm a fan of democracy, so I feel that is a bad thing.
Anything I've said here useful or interesting?  Find a lot more of my thoughts here: http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/

Jamesqf

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 3634
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #28 on: November 19, 2012, 10:28:25 AM »
Measles affects less than one millionth of the population in a given year (last year, it was 222 patients).

Maybe some historical context is appropriate, too.  When I was a kid, EVERYBODY got the measles, and mumps, chicken pox, and a bunch of other things.  Today the only kids who get those things are those whose parents have bought into the "vaccines cause autism" crap.  Yeah, and I have a smallpox vaccination scar, and got polio vaccine on a sugar cube.  I remember one of the older kids who walked around on crutches, with heavy metal braces on his legs, from polio - and he was one of the lucky ones.  And as far as I remember, those vaccinations cost nothing.

"Before 1963, more than 3 million cases of measles and 500 deaths from measles were reported each year.2 More than 90% of children had measles by age 15.2 In 2002, there were 44 cases of measles.": http://www.immunizationinfo.org/parents/why-immunize

So tell us again how the US health care system isn't working.  Sheesh, you give folks a bag full of miracles, and do they appreciate them?  No, they want another one right now, and for free, dammit!

KGZotU

  • Bristles
  • **
  • Posts: 81
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #29 on: November 19, 2012, 10:33:05 AM »
If you want to be all philosophical and say that morality is a purely human mental construct, that's one thing (and then rape, murder, whatever you want is ok, so long as you don't get caught), but if we accept the existence of morality as an axiom, then letting some people have yachts and Bentlys with inherited money while others are born into homelessness is wrong.
We also get to decide how to formulate that morality. It's no foregone conclusion that wealth-inequality is immoral.

Capitalism should in theory produce both wealth for the masses and wealth-inequality. This is what we've seen through the decades: a rising standard of living for all and an increase in wealth-inequality. If wealth-inequality is the price of an increased standard of living, then as a society it's worth it to live in envy of a few rich people.

Part of the drive towards success or to drive a company to success is the ability to do whatever you want with the reward for your success. That includes the ability to pass those rewards on to your children for their use. The guarantee of a good life for their children is part of the price we willingly pay to those who increase the prosperity of the nation.1

Can we create an increased standard of living without wealth-inequality? I don't know. So far, moderately regulated capitalism has proven to be the greatest engine of wealth ever created. We can probably get even better results from the system by tweaking those regulations, but there's legitimate fear that we might kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

I do strongly believe that there are people who cannot provide for themselves, that it's our collective responsibility to provide for these people, and that we don't provide for enough of these people. I also believe that if you have a lot of money you can take it as a personal moral responsibility to provide for those who cannot provide for themselves.

1: We could argue that a lot of our economic activity harms the prosperity of the nation rather than adding to it. The solution there might be regulations on business, but not on the wealth of individuals. But we can see that the system, which motivates individuals by allowing them to accumulate large amounts of wealth, has in general increased wealth and standards of living for the rest of us.

totoro

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1201
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #30 on: November 19, 2012, 10:34:14 AM »
The health data differences between Canada and the US are interesting.   Canadians live longer, but they have lower overall rates of obesity.  We have a higher rate of measles, but also a lower infant mortality rate.  Black Americans have twice the rate of infant mortality than caucasians - and this rate is lower in Canada - but Aboriginal Canadian infant mortality is up to FOUR times that of non-Aboriginal Canadians.

As someone who has grown up in Canada, I would say that access to health care is good - but not universally so.  It is not a matter of insurance coverage at all - but of geography.  Remote areas are underserved and we have a lot of remote areas. 

In addition, aboriginal folks have signficantly worse health indicators and a far greater incidence of TB, as do immigrants from TB-endemic countries - which we have loads of and proportionately far more than the US.   Many aboriginal individuals live in remote areas in Canada.   Aboriginal folks on-Reserve often live in poverty, in sub-standard housing subject to mould, and may not have access to clean drinking water. 

I would say that the data points to insured Americans having access to care that is equal or exceeds what is provided in Canada.  Great healthcare plans in the US might provide treatments that are not covered here - the test is medical necessity for what is provided free here free - and it sometimes takes longer to have new treatments approved as medically necessary here.   Wait lists can be longer for non-urgent care as well.

I think the real difference between the countries shows up for uninsured Americans. 

Jamesqf

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 3634
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #31 on: November 19, 2012, 10:36:58 AM »
In the most objective sense, there is no such thing as a "right" in the first place.  Its something granted by a government.

Not if you think about it.  Rights in the classical sense - freedom of speech & religion, the right to bear arms or pursue happiness - are things people enjoy unless someone else (usually a government) actively takes them away.  That's the diametric opposite of "rights" to food or medical care, which are things that don't exist unless people work to produce them.

tooqk4u22

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1459
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #32 on: November 19, 2012, 10:42:50 AM »
The simple fact is the US has the 2nd highest level of wealth inequality of any first world nation, and the 5th highest in the world.

What I find interesting about the table on the wiki link is that the US has a Wealth Gini of 80.1, which as you point out is 5th from the top yet the Global Wealth Gini is 80.4 and the US and other top 5 holds only 26.29% of World Wealth - there must be something wrong with the data because the global should be far lower when looking at the list. 

Its not because we have an unusually extreme distribution intelligence and work ethic (that some Americans are smarter and work harder than anyone else in the world, but most are stupid and lazy), its because we have laws set up that specifically reward already having money, and therefor naturally concentrate wealth to extremes. 

I see it as the laws and infrastructure are set to allow everyone to take advantage and be rewarded for earning, saving and investing their capital.  It is why people from other countries still come here for the american dream...because everybody has the opportunity to get more, but that doens't mean it is easy and without work or risk, which is what people fail to remember.


We don't have anything remotely resembling a level playing field.

There was once a time where in most of the world the King owned everything, and everyone was his subject.  He got the position by being born into it.  Most of the world has gone out of their way to move away from that model.  Some of us see the current extreme concentrations of wealth (and the influence of money on government) as being a step back towards an aristocracy.
Personally, I'm a fan of democracy, so I feel that is a bad thing.

If anything the people that suffer the most from an unlevel playing field is the middle class...the burden falls on them more than anyone else.  The lower class is taken care of in one way or another and the politicians want to keep them there for the votes ($100 in food stamps in exchange for remaining dependent and giving me your vote) and the rich have plenty even ignoring what they should or shouldn't be taxed.  But even with that and being in the middle class I would rather have the inequality in the system if it provides an opportunity for those that are willing and able to do better and not be dependent and for those rich people to risk their money for big returns or LOSSES. 


Jamesqf

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 3634
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #33 on: November 19, 2012, 10:50:32 AM »
...and when 12 people - literally twelve - hold as much wealth between them as the poorest 150 MILLION Americans (thats about 1/2 the entire population) then that limits how much is available to everyone else.

Does it really limit how much is available to the rest of us?  I assume those 12 people are the top of the Forbes list?  Yet if you look at that list, you'll find that many of the people there CREATED their wealth, and enriched many other people in the process.  Wealth isn't a fixed quantity: it's continually created (and sometimes destroyed).

Quote
We don't have anything remotely resembling a level playing field

Yet looking at the Forbes list, at least 4 of those 12 (Gates, Buffet, Ellison, and Bezos) started from the middle class at best, 4 others (the Waltons) inherited their money from a man who started in the lower middle class.  So maybe the problem is the quality of the players rather than the levelness of the field?

sheepstache

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 814
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #34 on: November 19, 2012, 11:03:25 AM »
I completely agree. Everyone all over the world has a right to decent food, shelter and education. Everything else is pretty much optional. If only there was a way to funnel the excess to those in need... but that is a completely different topic.

I completely disagree.  These are not rights, they are needs

In the most objective sense, there is no such thing as a "right" in the first place.  Its something granted by a government.  In the real world a deer has no "right" to not be eaten by a wolf.  Nor do you have a "right" to not be murdered by a mugger.  Then of course you have no right to "property", never mind privacy or representative government.
For that matter, the rich don't have a "right" to any of their wealth, so perhaps it should just be them and their hired militia to stand between the masses and their stuff, not government sponsored police.

However...

We have all collectively decided to organize society into this thing called "civilization", and we get to decide that basic necessities should be rights. 
If you want to be all philosophical and say that morality is a purely human mental construct, that's one thing (and then rape, murder, whatever you want is ok, so long as you don't get caught), but if we accept the existence of morality as an axiom, then letting some people have yachts and Bentlys with inherited money while others are born into homelessness is wrong.

I don't know that this necessarily contradicts Tooq's point, B.  As you say, we get to decide what constitutes a right.  I side with Tooq in feeling we should not define food, health care, and education as rights.

As most Americans understand the role of government in protecting our "god-given" rights, my rights end where your rights start.  I do not have a right to murder and mug you, because it interferes with your right to life, liberty, happiness, bla bla bla.  America aside, a key function of civilization is to avoid these deer-wolf situations where the rights of the two sides are mutually exclusive.  Much better to form an economic system that encourages sharing of services to fulfil people's needs and discourages theft.
Sometimes deer-wolf situations are unavoidable because the earth has limited resources.  Most of the time I believe it's due to economic inefficiency.  But I feel the solution is to fix the state or societal inefficiency not say that somehow, magically, people have a right to receive food through some undisclosed, un-thought-out means. 

You seem to feel a system is bad if it results in inequality.  While I'm happy to consider inequality to be a symptom of a bad system, I don't consider the inequality itself to be a problem.  We can differ on that.  But the existence of concentrations of wealth sure as hell isn't a sign that we're "a step back towards aristocracy."  "Aristocracy" and "democracy" are words that have actual meanings (hint: they are both political systems and while you can have combinations with bits of each they are not on some vague sort of spectrum).*


Whatever random people decide to post a pic to a 99% website don't define the entire movement.


Unfortunately though they sort of do because OWS has defined itself as not being organized or having representatives.  It's certainly helpful for the movement that you're willing to speak up and define it some other way, but my understanding is your opinion doesn't have a greater weight than theirs does.

*I don't mean to come off combative here, but I suspect that if there is a solution you would like to this problem that it has very specific mechanisms and I would rather people talk about that than make hand-wave-y statements where they try to define words as meaning what they want them to mean.  You might correctly guess that I don't believe inequality is antithetical to democracy, but I wouldn't say something like "I'm against OWS because it's not democracy." or "Giving people food is socialism and socialism isn't American.  Why do you hate America, Bakari???"  I hear you saying you are against inequality and I appreciate your giving definitions of inequality.  I tend to agree with your definition and am sympathetic towards your arguments about why it's bad.  I just don't get the quasi- "Hitler thought inequality was good" -type argument.

grantmeaname

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 3301
  • Age: 21
  • Location: Columbus, OH
  • The plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data'.
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #35 on: November 19, 2012, 12:44:41 PM »
As a nation the US spends much more on healthcare (both per capita and as a % of GDP) than anywhere else....and then when you compare average life expectancies it seems we are not even getting the bang for our buck.  So clearly something is wrong.   How about allowing insurance companies to compete over state lines.  How about small primary care/outpatient clinics scattered around (btw large hospital groups are doing this, so it must make sense economically).  How about saving a few hundred billion by streamlining and updating the medicare/medicaid programs and doing away with waste and fraud.  So many obvious things to start with, but instead we decided to add another program that makes no sense and will be costly and poorly run on top of the ones we already have.
Could it be instead that Americans have short life expectancies because they're a bunch of lazy fatasses who smoke and eat foods chock full of preservatives, and not a failing of our medical systems?

That couldn't be it. If that was it, the biggest killers would be things like coronary heart disease, obesity would top every public health professional's list of worries, and some horrendous number like 60% of cancers would be caused by lifestyle choices. Oh wait...

grantmeaname

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 3301
  • Age: 21
  • Location: Columbus, OH
  • The plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data'.
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #36 on: November 19, 2012, 12:52:47 PM »
What I find interesting about the table on the wiki link is that the US has a Wealth Gini of 80.1, which as you point out is 5th from the top yet the Global Wealth Gini is 80.4 and the US and other top 5 holds only 26.29% of World Wealth - there must be something wrong with the data because the global should be far lower when looking at the list.
Careful here. The world Gini coefficient is not just the average of each nation's Gini coefficients, weighted by population. Gini coefficients are based on the amount of inequality, and doing it that way would ignore inequality among groups and only examine inequality within each group. To get the global Gini coefficient, you ignore national boundaries, throw all 7 billion of us together, line us up in income order, and calculate it as if we were one 7-billion-person group (which we are). Since there's inequality between nations, the answer you get it higher than a weighted average of each nation's Gini-- that's the variation among groups being expressed.

Bakari

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1193
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • The BioDiesel Hauler
    • The Flamboyant Introvert
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #37 on: November 19, 2012, 01:25:24 PM »
It's no foregone conclusion that wealth-inequality is immoral.
I never said "everyone should have exactly the same level of wealth".  There is an enormous range between "12 people hold the same wealth as 300 million people" and "everyone must have the exact same amount, no more and no less".  That is a false dichotomy.
What I said was immoral was some people being born into billions, and other people being born into homelessness.  Exactly how is that situation made better by free market principals?  Are infants poor only because of their own lack of work ethic?  Is it by their own poor choices that toddlers fails to enroll themselves in preschool, which has the largest impact of any variable on future school performance, all the way to college?
You seem to feel a system is bad if it results in inequality. 
I feel a system is bad if it specifically fosters and encourages additional inequality, or it has inequality built in to begin with.  If every human being started out life with access to the same education and medical care, and the same level of inheritance (or lack-there-of), then most of the differences in success can actually be attributed to personal choices, talent, etc.  Of course there will always be differences in the values instilled by parents, there will be nepotism and networking advantages, but we could certainly make a much better effort to live up to the "land of opportunity" mantra.



Capitalism should in theory produce both wealth for the masses and wealth-inequality. This is what we've seen through the decades: a rising standard of living for all and an increase in wealth-inequality. If wealth-inequality is the price of an increased standard of living, then as a society it's worth it to live in envy of a few rich people.
Post-hoc ergo prompter hoc?  On what do you base the assumption that one is a necessary prerequisite for the other?  The big things that have been changing recently are technology growth, outsourcing of labor and importing of goods, and corporate consolidation.  The first leads to raised standards of living for everyone, and does not necessitate any increased inequality (though our system is set up so that it does in fact).  The second two increase inequality, but don't necessarily raise overall standard of living for everyone.  That both are happening simultaneously seems like happenstance to me.  Why look at a timeline of decades?  Historically the gap between royalty and serfs was enormous, but that didn't make the serfs standard of living higher than it would have been otherwise.



Part of the drive towards success or to drive a company to success is the ability to do whatever you want with the reward for your success. That includes the ability to pass those rewards on to your children for their use. The guarantee of a good life for their children is part of the price we willingly pay to those who increase the prosperity of the nation... the system, which motivates individuals by allowing them to accumulate large amounts of wealth, has in general increased wealth and standards of living for the rest of us.

Exactly who are these people who's actions created a higher standard of living for America who, if they had been limited to, say, 1 billion dollars, instead of 10, would have said "fuck it, its not worth it, I'm just going to take a part time job at Denny's instead"?  I don't think they ever existed.  I think that's a story that rich people came up with in order to get the middle class to vote for tax breaks and lax business regulations.  If the only reason people get rich is to pass it to their children, then why do some rich people never have kids, and why are almost a third donating most of it to charity rather than passing it down? http://money.cnn.com/2012/06/18/pf/rich-inheritance/index.htm



We could argue that a lot of our economic activity harms the prosperity of the nation rather than adding to it. The solution there might be regulations on business, but not on the wealth of individuals.
I largely agree with that.  I was never actually suggesting some arbitrary fixed cap on wealth.  I think the vast majority of the problem has to do with regulation - or lack-there-of - on business.  I would just add to that a progressive tax rate that continues to graduate just as far as the levels of wealth and/or income they apply to (i.e. the progressive tax rate curve should look more or less like the wealth inequality curve, rather than leveling off at less than 400k so that the 0.001% pay the same top rate as the 1%)



Rights in the classical sense - freedom of speech & religion, the right to bear arms or pursue happiness - are things people enjoy unless someone else (usually a government) actively takes them away.  That's the diametric opposite of "rights" to food or medical care, which are things that don't exist unless people work to produce them.

Its only "usually a government" BECAUSE we have the privilege of the protection of government to take for granted.  Otherwise anyone who has the bigger muscles / gang / firepower can take away anything they like from you at any time, up to and including your life.  Besides, religions and firearms don't exist unless people work to produce them either.  That's one of the main reasons we have government in the first place - the chances of deliberate premature death at the hands of another person are far lower if you live within a centralized government.  You have no speech or religion if you are stabbed in the back by someone who wants your food or your girlfriend.


Does it really limit how much is available to the rest of us?  I assume those 12 people are the top of the Forbes list?  Yet if you look at that list, you'll find that many of the people there CREATED their wealth, and enriched many other people in the process.  Wealth isn't a fixed quantity: it's continually created (and sometimes destroyed).
How are we defining "wealth", and how are we defining "created"?  What did they create it out of?  Are you suggesting that the value of tangible goods and services would simply never have existed if not for those specific individuals? 
Farming, mining, and other natural resources extraction creates value to humans that was unavailable previously.  Yes, technology can allow the value of raw materials to increase, essentially creating entirely new value that was never there.  In that sense economic growth is not a zero sum game.  This does not mean that any money that anyone acquires increases the total available value for everyone.  Some (individual) wealth generation is just a reorganization of existing value from one individual to another. 
In any event, while the total pot can grow over time, we only live and eat and shop in the present, and at any given moment their is a finite amount of resources that exist.  No matter how smart and hard-working 300million Americans are, there is no possible way they could divide a GDP of 15 trillon and have 1 million each.



Yet looking at the Forbes list, at least 4 of those 12 (Gates, Buffet, Ellison, and Bezos) started from the middle class at best, 4 others (the Waltons) inherited their money from a man who started in the lower middle class.  So maybe the problem is the quality of the players rather than the levelness of the field?
HA!  I'm not following you.  I assume you are disagreeing with me that our playing field is unlevel, but you basically acknowledged that of the richest people in our society, 2/3rds started with a significant advantage  - and wait, weren't you the same one who in a different thread said that Obama going to a private primary school and ivy league colleges on scholarship meant he wasn't working class?  But Bill gates went to a private prep school and ivy league college not on scholarship, but paid for by his parents, yet he was "middle class at best"?



The idea that the existence of wealth inequality in itself somehow generates total wealth for society is certainly what the people who benefit most from the arrangement want everyone to believe, and obviously the view has become mainstream, but I'm not convinced that the trickle down theory ever had any merit to it to begin with.
The implication here seems to be that the only reason some people work hard or innovate is because they have the chance to become multi-trillionairs - and pass 100% of those trillions on to their kids.  Therefor, if we had any form of limitation on wealth accumulation or inheritance, no one would ever invent anything, or discover anything, or work more than the least they could get away with to make ends meet.

Except that looking at the scientists and inventors through history who made significant advances to human technology, a lot of them never even tried to get rich from their work.  They did the work out of scientific curiosity, or for the betterment of humanity, or just to see if they could.  No one thought they could patent and sell the invention of fire, or the wheel, and get rich from them. Many scientists and inventors in more modern times have deliberately made their discoveries public for the explicit reason of the betterment of society.
In many cases, if anyone did get rich from the idea, it wasn't the person who actually invented it.
Communist USSR managed to build a satellite before we did - and even our own moon landing was entirely publicly funded.

The mere fact of generating income for one's self does not mean you are actually making society richer.  A good example is an advertising executive.  They are not producing a good for society.  They are merely redirecting existing wealth from consumers to their particular client.  The competition may have a better product, but a good advertiser can overcome the competition's value by using psychological manipulation tricks.  The client will pay them a percentage of the money they generate for them, but society as a whole is actually worse off than if they had done nothing.   I don't understand where this crazy idea comes from that anyone who makes money must be causing the creation of an equal value for society as a whole that would never have existed otherwise.  Gates, for example, didn't create transistors and operating systems in a bubble, one man's genius giving us computers.  If he hadn't come up with MS DOS, we would have one of the other many operating systems that existed at the time, or we would have more competition than just MS and Apple.  There is no equivalent to Gates and Jobs for linux because the hard wroking innovative people who created it choose not to patent it and create semi-monopolistic corporations.  There are thousands of free open-source software programs, made by thousands of developers who make their work available for voluntary donations who should call into question the theory that people only generate value for society because of the promise of unlimited wealth.
Anything I've said here useful or interesting?  Find a lot more of my thoughts here: http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/

tooqk4u22

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1459
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #38 on: November 19, 2012, 01:49:59 PM »
What I find interesting about the table on the wiki link is that the US has a Wealth Gini of 80.1, which as you point out is 5th from the top yet the Global Wealth Gini is 80.4 and the US and other top 5 holds only 26.29% of World Wealth - there must be something wrong with the data because the global should be far lower when looking at the list.
Careful here. The world Gini coefficient is not just the average of each nation's Gini coefficients, weighted by population. Gini coefficients are based on the amount of inequality, and doing it that way would ignore inequality among groups and only examine inequality within each group. To get the global Gini coefficient, you ignore national boundaries, throw all 7 billion of us together, line us up in income order, and calculate it as if we were one 7-billion-person group (which we are). Since there's inequality between nations, the answer you get it higher than a weighted average of each nation's Gini-- that's the variation among groups being expressed.

Understood  - so then it is merely the 80/20 rule proving out as usual and with the US and its large population being inline with the Global level then there is no real injustice going on.

tooqk4u22

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1459
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #39 on: November 19, 2012, 01:55:22 PM »
As a nation the US spends much more on healthcare (both per capita and as a % of GDP) than anywhere else....and then when you compare average life expectancies it seems we are not even getting the bang for our buck.  So clearly something is wrong.   How about allowing insurance companies to compete over state lines.  How about small primary care/outpatient clinics scattered around (btw large hospital groups are doing this, so it must make sense economically).  How about saving a few hundred billion by streamlining and updating the medicare/medicaid programs and doing away with waste and fraud.  So many obvious things to start with, but instead we decided to add another program that makes no sense and will be costly and poorly run on top of the ones we already have.
Could it be instead that Americans have short life expectancies because they're a bunch of lazy fatasses who smoke and eat foods chock full of preservatives, and not a failing of our medical systems?

That couldn't be it. If that was it, the biggest killers would be things like coronary heart disease, obesity would top every public health professional's list of worries, and some horrendous number like 60% of cancers would be caused by lifestyle choices. Oh wait...

Without a doubt that plays into costs, but so too does our higher cost of living (doctors need to make more than they do in a 3rd world couuntry to live and justify the $400k medical school costs) and availability and access to advanced medical technology.  Oh yeah we also have this thing called malpractice insurance that is fairly expensive because you can sue for $1 million for an ingrown fingernail.

There are a lot of reasons why we spend more, the point is we are spending more and greater effort should be spent on figuring out how to better manage this pot of spending (privately and pubicly) instead of adding more programs, expenses and taxes to the mix.

Bakari

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1193
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • The BioDiesel Hauler
    • The Flamboyant Introvert
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #40 on: November 19, 2012, 02:06:49 PM »
But the existence of concentrations of wealth sure as hell isn't a sign that we're "a step back towards aristocracy."  "Aristocracy" and "democracy" are words that have actual meanings (hint: they are both political systems and while you can have combinations with bits of each they are not on some vague sort of spectrum).*

I don't think its so vague;
I was thinking of how more than half the presidencies in my lifetime were of men who were wealthy before going into office, or that the median senator's net worth is 2.6 million with a total of 57 members of congress in the "1%".  As much as $30 billion was spent on lobbying in the US last year, $6 billion was spent on the presidential election, of which over 10% was nearly unregulated superPAC money.
Money has significant influence on politics.  If the means to who has access to wealth is determined in large part by which parents you are born to -  http://www.nationofchange.org/self-made-myth-and-our-hallucinating-rich-1348495606 - it makes for a "form of government in which a few elite citizens rule"

In fact, the very idea of an unregulated economy implies that the major decisions of what goods and services will and will not be produced and how they will be distributed is in the hands of the market.  More money = more influence over the collective choices and direction of a society.  This is in contrast to the principal of democracy "in which all eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives".  The economy - i.e. goods, services, and jobs, most certainly affects peoples lives.
Anything I've said here useful or interesting?  Find a lot more of my thoughts here: http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/

liquidbanana

  • Bristles
  • **
  • Posts: 99
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #41 on: November 19, 2012, 02:19:12 PM »
h isn't a fixed quantity: it's continually created (and sometimes destroyed).

Quote
We don't have anything remotely resembling a level playing field

Yet looking at the Forbes list, at least 4 of those 12 (Gates, Buffet, Ellison, and Bezos) started from the middle class at best, 4 others (the Waltons) inherited their money from a man who started in the lower middle class.  So maybe the problem is the quality of the players rather than the levelness of the field?

Regarding the Forbes list: http://iamprogressive.org/2012/11/17/reports-economic-mobility-evades-majority-of-americans

Even regarding Sam Walton, who is a prominent "American Dream" stereotype: he was born into a middle class family. His father was a banker. He went to a state-funded university during a period of history when state universities were actually affordable to the vast majority of the population, including the lower middle class. Beyond this, his first few businesses were funded by his wife's parents.

No matter what the "quality" of this player, Sam Walton, had he had less support from the get go or had he been born into poverty, I seriously doubt there would be a Walmart today. Same goes for almost any other success story like this.

Give me a list of people who were born into a statistically low-income household with two uneducated parents in the last 30 years in America who even made it to upper middle class status. This is not an ultimatum, I really would like to hear about some because I know zero people who this has happened to. But maybe I just hang around too many lazy folks.

One of the points that OWS movement is trying to make, despite all the whining, is that no matter what choices you make or how hard you work, upper mobility is becoming extinct in America. And actually the reverse is happening. And at the same time, a very very small minority are just getting richer and richer. Which would be fine with me as long as everyone had a decent opportunity to feed, cloth and shelter themselves. Not everyone does.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2012, 02:21:57 PM by liquidbanana »

tooqk4u22

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1459
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #42 on: November 19, 2012, 02:52:30 PM »
No matter what the "quality" of this player, Sam Walton, had he had less support from the get go or had he been born into poverty, I seriously doubt there would be a Walmart today. Same goes for almost any other success story like this.

Give me a list of people who were born into a statistically low-income household with two uneducated parents in the last 30 years in America who even made it to upper middle class status. This is not an ultimatum, I really would like to hear about some because I know zero people who this has happened to. But maybe I just hang around too many lazy folks.

Wow, are we really taking it this far that it only counts if you climbed your way out of the lowest of all rungs.  Completely off base.  Not to mention I am sure there are plenty of people that made it to upper middle class from where you state is the threshold, which by the way is not the Forbes 400 in case you didn't know.  My dad does not have a college education and my mom didn't get her degree until I was 16, oh yeah they were divorced too.  Sounds like all the stats you wanted are in place - right now I consider myself mid to upper middle class.

As I mentioned before you and others seem to forget about the work and risk and sacrifice that usually comes with moving up the "classes" and sometimes the one generation is laying the groundwork for the next generation.  My parents worked hard, ensured there was a roof and food, but not many extras and I started working when I was a kid.  I worked hard, and still do, so that I get ahead financially and so that I can give my children what they need and yes hopefully more that will give them and their kids a good future be it an education, a down payment on a house, the simple joy of know they don't fear the world, whatever. 



One of the points that OWS movement is trying to make, despite all the whining, is that no matter what choices you make or how hard you work, upper mobility is becoming extinct in America. And actually the reverse is happening. And at the same time, a very very small minority are just getting richer and richer. Which would be fine with me as long as everyone had a decent opportunity to feed, cloth and shelter themselves. Not everyone does.

Completely wrong and BS.  Just because a very small minority have a lot of wealth doesn't mean that there are not a lot of people getting richer every day.  Everyone on this board is here to discuss and celebrate getting richer every day, with success I might add.  Upper mobility is diminishing at the lower levels because the government payments are incentivizing them to stay put....and I get the logic, if my family receives welfare, food stamps, and other support like medicaid and that combined with a low wage job is just enough to get by and the alternative is actually to work harder and probably have less (if that is possible) or the same for much more work then why try to work harder.  Near term it makes no sense but long term it is crippling to these people. 

totoro

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1201
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #43 on: November 19, 2012, 03:02:21 PM »
No matter what the "quality" of this player, Sam Walton, had he had less support from the get go or had he been born into poverty, I seriously doubt there would be a Walmart today. Same goes for almost any other success story like this.

Give me a list of people who were born into a statistically low-income household with two uneducated parents in the last 30 years in America who even made it to upper middle class status. This is not an ultimatum, I really would like to hear about some because I know zero people who this has happened to. But maybe I just hang around too many lazy folks.

Me :)   Grew up on welfare

"The American upper middle class is defined similarly using income, education and occupation as the predominant indicators.[1] In the United States, the upper middle class is defined as consisting mostly of white-collar professionals who not only have above-average personal incomes and advanced educational degrees[1] but also a higher degree of autonomy in their work.[2] The main occupational tasks of upper-middle-class individuals tend to center on conceptualizing, consulting, and instruction.

That is me now :)

totoro

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1201
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #44 on: November 19, 2012, 03:12:07 PM »
Also, both my parents did not finish high school.  My mom went back and got her GED when she was 30ish.

As for the proposition that you can't get ahead, that is just BS unless you are severly disabled either mentally or physically - or I suppose if you have catastrophic health care costs and live in the US without insurance.

Sorry to be blunt, but if you have no family help you are going to have to focus on what you can do and then do it if you want to change your circumstances.

I don't really get too uptight about the super-rich/elite.  Not my stratosphere and my own happiness is my personal responsibility.  I find myself a little more irritated by the folks who claim they can't get ahead because I come from a background of poverty and it can be done.  I'm not the only one.  I do know several others.

I do care about tax policy fairness.  I personally don't mind paying taxes.  I view it as a privilege as I obtain all sorts of services in return and I know that everyone in my country has low cost medical and social assistance. 

liquidbanana

  • Bristles
  • **
  • Posts: 99
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #45 on: November 19, 2012, 03:28:07 PM »
Wow, are we really taking it this far that it only counts if you climbed your way out of the lowest of all rungs.  Completely off base.  Not to mention I am sure there are plenty of people that made it to upper middle class from where you state is the threshold, which by the way is not the Forbes 400 in case you didn't know.  My dad does not have a college education and my mom didn't get her degree until I was 16, oh yeah they were divorced too.  Sounds like all the stats you wanted are in place - right now I consider myself mid to upper middle class.

As I mentioned before you and others seem to forget about the work and risk and sacrifice that usually comes with moving up the "classes" and sometimes the one generation is laying the groundwork for the next generation.  My parents worked hard, ensured there was a roof and food, but not many extras and I started working when I was a kid.  I worked hard, and still do, so that I get ahead financially and so that I can give my children what they need and yes hopefully more that will give them and their kids a good future be it an education, a down payment on a house, the simple joy of know they don't fear the world, whatever. 



One of the points that OWS movement is trying to make, despite all the whining, is that no matter what choices you make or how hard you work, upper mobility is becoming extinct in America. And actually the reverse is happening. And at the same time, a very very small minority are just getting richer and richer. Which would be fine with me as long as everyone had a decent opportunity to feed, cloth and shelter themselves. Not everyone does.

Completely wrong and BS.  Just because a very small minority have a lot of wealth doesn't mean that there are not a lot of people getting richer every day.  Everyone on this board is here to discuss and celebrate getting richer every day, with success I might add.  Upper mobility is diminishing at the lower levels because the government payments are incentivizing them to stay put....and I get the logic, if my family receives welfare, food stamps, and other support like medicaid and that combined with a low wage job is just enough to get by and the alternative is actually to work harder and probably have less (if that is possible) or the same for much more work then why try to work harder.  Near term it makes no sense but long term it is crippling to these people.

I understand what the Forbes list is. lol

When I said, "uneducated," I definitely did not mean not having a college education. I'm talking no high school education and barely literate, which what many, many American children are born into. Households that are barely literate.

The fact that you assume I meant a college education is just an example of how privileged people are without even realizing it. So many people are out of touch with the realities of other Americans. So many people have no way to grasp the difficulties that others face because of socioeconomic status. From the outside, the solutions seem simple. You have no idea until you've lived it.

What other options do these people you talk about on welfare who are voluntarily keeping low wage jobs have? How are they going to make more money by working harder? Some do have options like getting second or third jobs or getting training and advancing or whatever. Some have none of these options.

I am not going to say I know the cause because I have no idea, but I think the general consensus on the left is that trickle down economic policies has resulted in this huge gap in wealth while resulting in high unemployment with mostly low wage jobs for the majority to choose from. The wealthy are getting wealthier, but the economy as a whole is just getting worse. Some people, like yourself, are getting wealthier, but this is becoming less typical.

tooqk4u22

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1459
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #46 on: November 19, 2012, 03:30:01 PM »
What I said was immoral was some people being born into billions, and other people being born into homelessness.  Exactly how is that situation made better by free market principals?  Are infants poor only because of their own lack of work ethic?  Is it by their own poor choices that toddlers fails to enroll themselves in preschool, which has the largest impact of any variable on future school performance, all the way to college?

Is it immoral to be born into billions - no!

Is it immoral to be born into homelessness or poverty - no!

Is it immoral to bring a child into this world if you can't afford it - god damn right it is! Where the heck is the accountability part of your beliefs.  Here is a thought, don't have a kid if you are broke, and guess what the result would be - oh yeah, no one being born into poverty.


The idea that the existence of wealth inequality in itself somehow generates total wealth.....

Except that looking at the scientists and inventors through history who made significant advances to human technology, a lot of them never even tried to get rich from their work. 

The mere fact of generating income for one's self does not mean you are actually making society richer.  A good example is an advertising executive.  They are not producing a good for society.  They are merely redirecting existing wealth from consumers to their particular client. 

Gates, for example, didn't create transistors and operating systems in a bubble, one man's genius giving us computers.  If he hadn't come up with MS DOS, we would have one of the other many operating systems that existed at the time, or we would have more competition than just MS and Apple.  There is no equivalent to Gates and Jobs for linux because the hard wroking innovative people who created it choose not to patent it and create semi-monopolistic corporations.  There are thousands of free open-source software programs, made by thousands of developers who make their work available for voluntary donations who should call into question the theory that people only generate value for society because of the promise of unlimited wealth.


I don't think you get it.   So lets say income/wealth inequality in the US is too great, fine, but how many times have you and others here referred to the many problems as 1st world problems (blah, blah, blah) - that phrase in itself proves that wealth begets wealth at least on a relatative basis to other countries.

I agree that not all scientists and inventors, and professional athletes for that matter, do or started what they are doing to get rich.  But without the business/profit/industrialization of whatever it is they are doing they wouldn't have access to capital to allow them to have their fun.  Eventual commercialization of all these things is the result of investment and many of these things (technology, medicines, etc.) would not have happened without.  Gates/Jobs are monopolies because of this commercialization not in spite of it.  I agree that others could have done it, but disagree that they didn't do it because they didn't want to "sell out", and that it their perogative but they can't bitch about it after the fact.

Even the advertiser is doing good, maybe not in your eyes, but they are still facilitating commerce resulting in jobs for people at all levels.  Also, advertising and marketing is necessary at all levels.  The startup needs to get the word out about their new product or service - can't just sit in your room and wait for it to happen (this isn't Field of Dreams - "If you build it they will come").  The established company may be launching a new product or building its brand or reinforcing its product.  By the way it doesn't matter if the products or services are better or worse, if people are too stupid to not do some additional research or simply making a decision based on a 30 second bit then I would argue that the advertiser is doing a good service by facalitating the detachment of this persons funds. 





liquidbanana

  • Bristles
  • **
  • Posts: 99
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #47 on: November 19, 2012, 03:34:21 PM »
Also, both my parents did not finish high school.  My mom went back and got her GED when she was 30ish.

As for the proposition that you can't get ahead, that is just BS unless you are severly disabled either mentally or physically - or I suppose if you have catastrophic health care costs and live in the US without insurance.

Sorry to be blunt, but if you have no family help you are going to have to focus on what you can do and then do it if you want to change your circumstances.

I don't really get too uptight about the super-rich/elite.  Not my stratosphere and my own happiness is my personal responsibility.  I find myself a little more irritated by the folks who claim they can't get ahead because I come from a background of poverty and it can be done.  I'm not the only one.  I do know several others.

I do care about tax policy fairness.  I personally don't mind paying taxes.  I view it as a privilege as I obtain all sorts of services in return and I know that everyone in my country has low cost medical and social assistance.

Good for you! I don't want to come off as whining. I have every expectation that I will do fine financially in my life and came from close to from bottom. And it is important to push people to succeed instead of letting them make excuses that will get them nowhere. However, I still have met so many people that started worse off than me and I can really see why they are not getting ahead. Some of it is due to bad choices, but so much more of it is because there is so much for them to overcome that it is just not worth it (or it really is too hard for them). I hate to hear people like these just labeled "lazy" or "whiners."

Sylly

  • Bristles
  • **
  • Posts: 93
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #48 on: November 19, 2012, 03:48:15 PM »
One of the points that OWS movement is trying to make, despite all the whining, is that no matter what choices you make or how hard you work, upper mobility is becoming extinct in America.

Have to echo others here. Total BS. Why do you think people from other countries are so intent on emigrating to the US if they don't see upper mobility? My family is a first generation immigrant, and my siblings and I have already managed to land somewhere higher on the ladder than our parents. All this in less than 20 years.

Where I came from, even public school has fees. Those who can't afford it end up tending fields or herding cattle, or become maids. They marry young, have children, and the cycle repeats. Even if they make it through primary education, higher education is exceedingly expensive.  Scholarships and government grants, what's that? This in turn sets a limit on one's upward mobility. It's possible, but the pace is slower.

The poor still get education here. I don't deny that the poor is at a disadvantage. They are more likely to lack the supportive home/family environment that IMO is a big contributor to a child's success. Yes, you'll have to work harder if you don't have your parents' money to fall back on. You have stronger headwinds to be successful. I don't know what kind of percentage we have of children defying their circumstances, but I'm willing to bet it's not 0 or near 0.

It may take some perspective to realize just how tremendous the opportunity for upward mobility in the US still is. There are some trends that I find disturbing (e.g. increasing higher education costs + decreasing state support), that will negatively impact the ease/difficulty of that upward mobility. However, I'm not so quick to blame it all on any single scapegoat. There's usually multiple things at play (e.g. student loan 'bubble') and not everything can be attributed to the 'evils' of wealth inequality.

As mentioned earlier, both the OWS and Tea Party have valid points. It's the extension of them to ridiculous extreme that I find distasteful (and more likely to make me stop listening).

tooqk4u22

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1459
Re: Your thoughts on the we are the 99% blog?
« Reply #49 on: November 19, 2012, 03:51:51 PM »
When I said, "uneducated," I definitely did not mean not having a college education. I'm talking no high school education and barely literate, which what many, many American children are born into. Households that are barely literate.

The fact that you assume I meant a college education is just an example of how privileged people are without even realizing it.

See my response above - people in this circumstance shouldn't have kids it simply promotes and extends the issue.  Aside from that, even if they are illiterate and struggling then that should be enough to realize that it is important to make your kids go to school. 

Separately, I was not college oriented - it was never discussed with me by either of my parents and to be honest by the time I barely graduated high school I really didn't even know what college was.  Four years after high school is when I figured it out and I decided that I needed to do it.

What other options do these people you talk about on welfare who are voluntarily keeping low wage jobs have? How are they going to make more money by working harder? Some do have options like getting second or third jobs or getting training and advancing or whatever. Some have none of these options.

If anything I was trying to be somewhat sympathetic and think this is the most difficult rung of the ladder to get over - not because there isn't opportunity to grow, get educated, and prosper because it is, but because pschologically and mathmetically in the near term it is difficult.  Lets say you have a family that is receiving various support/subsidies of some kind and maybe working minimum wage or part time......but then one of them gets an opportunity to step up their income a bit (some kinds of promotion, career tract, etc which generally means more hours/harder work).  They then realize that that increased income will put them over the threshold for their various subsidies and they will actually have less funds available for food and shelter as a result.  A lot of people in that circumstance will say "screw it I am not taking the job if I will be working more and getting less".... but there are some that say "fuck it, I want to get out of where I am at so I will do what it takes" and those are the ones that climb the rungs of the classes. It is offered to everyone, but promised to no one.


I am not going to say I know the cause because I have no idea, but I think the general consensus on the left is that trickle down economic policies has resulted in this huge gap in wealth while resulting in high unemployment with mostly low wage jobs for the majority to choose from. The wealthy are getting wealthier, but the economy as a whole is just getting worse. Some people, like yourself, are getting wealthier, but this is becoming less typical.

Yeah, but I could be getting poorer too if I decided to spend every dime on crap, and good for those people that do spend every dime on crap because the too are providing opportunity for people to move up the ladder.  A part time store clerk may not make that much, but store manager makes pretty good coin, and a district manager makes really good coin, and so on and so on.