Author Topic: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?  (Read 15882 times)

menorman

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Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« on: June 11, 2012, 05:50:13 PM »
Huffington Post just led me to another complaint against the rich that was uninterestingly similar to all others. Have people not seen what happens to CA budgets when the rich are losing money? Putting that on the national scale won't solve anything. Furthermore, there needs to be a further clarification on who these people "only income is food stamps" really are--someone who became disabled and can no longer provide or are we talking about an able-bodied person? Also, who are they defining as "poverty" and "middle-class"? As MMM and many others well know, life at "poverty level" is not impossible if one is willing to make some realizations. I think the biggest problem in the country now is people expecting to be instantly rich, live a lavish life, and still become rich all at the same time.

igthebold

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2012, 07:42:26 PM »
I read a thought-experiment that was telling in this regard: if you could, with the push of a button, improve the life of the poor tenfold, but at the same time improve the life of the rich a hundredfold, would you do it?

The point was that a lot of these rants and complaints aren't so much about bringing up the poor as they are about pulling down the rich. Class warfare may feel good in the near term (like gossip) but in the end it does nothing, or just make things worse.

Full disclosure: I've never known real hardship, financially speaking, so I don't have street cred. I do, however, have a brain on my shoulders and a healthy skepticism of what the news media (and, by proxy, the American public) tends to focus its attention on.

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2012, 08:23:15 PM »
I read a thought-experiment that was telling in this regard: if you could, with the push of a button, improve the life of the poor tenfold, but at the same time improve the life of the rich a hundredfold, would you do it?

The point was that a lot of these rants and complaints aren't so much about bringing up the poor as they are about pulling down the rich. Class warfare may feel good in the near term (like gossip) but in the end it does nothing, or just make things worse.

I like that, and will be stealing it.  Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2012, 12:35:18 AM »
I read a thought-experiment that was telling in this regard: if you could, with the push of a button, improve the life of the poor tenfold, but at the same time improve the life of the rich a hundredfold, would you do it?
I'm stealing this for future use! :^D It's true, though... The poor today live at least 10 times better than the poor in 1912. Medicare, social security, electric appliances, etc. The problem is that people take all those things for granted and despair when they realize they're unlikely to live like celebrities.  I think it's a great real-life example of the Hedonic Principle.

menorman

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2012, 09:51:35 AM »
I read a thought-experiment that was telling in this regard: if you could, with the push of a button, improve the life of the poor tenfold, but at the same time improve the life of the rich a hundredfold, would you do it?
I'm stealing this for future use! :^D It's true, though... The poor today live at least 10 times better than the poor in 1912. Medicare, social security, electric appliances, etc. The problem is that people take all those things for granted and despair when they realize they're unlikely to live like celebrities.  I think it's a great real-life example of the Hedonic Principle.
Yep, exactly that. I remember an episode of The Daily Show a couple months back where John Stewart was talking about how one of the Republican "leaders" in this country had commented on how poor today are much better off than poor of the past and it was of course satirical. But I can definitely see the point. Many of the people I work with aren't making much more than $11/hr, yet I'd say a good half of them have iPhones, cars that cost more than all of mine combined, and giant TVs at home. While a couple of them are married to a nurse or some other better-paying profession, many of them are not--they either are living alone, they're the sole provider for a household, or their partner also works in a job that pays similarly. At first, I agreed with John Stewart--why should people who are e.g. dishwashers have to then come home and wash their own dishes? But after poking around MMM and several similar blogs for the last couple months, I've realized that most people simply do not take time to think about their actions. Several of my coworkers live within 1-2 miles of our job, yet only two of them walk to work daily. Everyone else drives, which can sometimes literally take longer than walking/biking due to the demand for parking at various times of day.
With that being said, I have influenced quite a few of them to at least consciously consider the implications of their actions. As a result, one girl is quitting because she realized that coming to work costs her more money than she makes. I've lent YMOYL and ERE to several other people, and pointed others toward MMM and ERE blogs for their various questions. I've gotten one of my other coworkers interested in biking to work as soon as he can get the money to buy a bike. However, we're still very much the minority.

atelierk

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2012, 03:08:47 PM »
It seems to me that this notion of "uniting against the rich" has only really gathered steam since the Wall St. "too big to fail" meltdown that led to the taxpayers bailing out the banks. There have been few consequences (fines, prosecutions) for the banksters that were at the helm of these sinking ships, as they oversaw all the funny-money credit default swaps and liars loans that eventually collapsed like a house of cards. People of all stripes are understandably angry at the irresponsible actions of these rich. They'd like to see some sort of justice, thus we have these rallying cries to unite against them. I think if charges had been brought - and I have no doubt they should have been - you'd see a lot less of this clamoring for heads on a platter. Yeah, I too wouldn't mind seeing some of these guys with their backs against the wall.

But there are also the "millionaire-next-door" rich, the local business people who made their "fortunes" the old fashioned way: manufacturing goods or providing useful services (and jobs) in their communities or regions. Speaking for myself, I see a great distinction between these "rich" and the bankster rich with their Golden Parachute rewards for tanking their companies. I therefore go out of my way to support local businesses, even as I know their owners are far wealthier (in monetary terms) than I'll ever be. And I'm not convinced that the middle class and poor would want to unite against them.

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2012, 08:36:50 AM »
the funny-money credit default swaps and liars loans that eventually collapsed like a house of cards.
The inventors of CDSs weren't getting golden parachutes three years ago, they were long retired. CDSs are twenty years old or somewhat older, depending on who you ask, and they didn't cause any catastrophes in their first decades of existence, even in the 1987 and 2001 downturns. NINJA loans are more recent. However, they're not really relevant to the financial decline. As the housing bubble was booming, the average FICO score of borrowers was increasing! Borrowers were getting more qualified, not less!
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People of all stripes are understandably angry at the irresponsible actions of these rich.

You've vented, but you haven't actually demonstrated that any rich 'banksters' have been irresponsible. If we look at the whole system from originator to investor, the only possibly irresponsible party I can put my finger on was AIG. The only way that the anger is understandable is that something bad happened and 'people of all stripes' don't know enough finance to understand who to blame, so they picked some scapegoats. The media loved it: they get to tell their tired old story of "Fat cats rob hardworking middle Americans", which gets them eyes and ears better than a celebrity third-world adoption!
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I think if charges had been brought - and I have no doubt they should have been- you'd see a lot less of this clamoring for heads on a platter. Yeah, I too wouldn't mind seeing some of these guys with their backs against the wall.
You literally are calling for the death of people when you can't even explain what they've done wrong? What did any specific party to the housing bubble do that was illegal?
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the bankster rich with their Golden Parachute rewards for tanking their companies
The only significant assets of financial institutions are their people, and if you want their people to stay around long enough that the institutions' pieces and parts can be sold to pay back creditors in bankruptcy court, you have to offer their people retention bonuses conditional on their staying with the company. (Bad Money Advice has a great explanation of this.) Even with that line of reasoning aside, you're looking at tens of thousands of qualified individuals largely doing a competent job and unconnected with the supposed irresponsibility that you still haven't demonstrated. Like many financial professionals, they are largely paid in bonuses and only make a token base salary despite their highly valuable skills. The bonuses are their regular pay, every year! The demagogues in Washington understand this: after paying lip service to being outraged at the fat cats taking advantage of the working class Americans, they did nearly nothing to penalize the bonuses.

sol

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2012, 09:18:15 AM »
You've vented, but you haven't actually demonstrated that any rich 'banksters' have been irresponsible. If we look at the whole system from originator to investor, the only possibly irresponsible party I can put my finger on was AIG.

There are few other candidates besides AIG:  http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1877351_1877350_1877339,00.html

grantmeaname

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2012, 10:11:24 AM »
Really? Bernie Madoff and Bill Clinton are at fault? Time must love list reporting: it lets them write logically flawed, soundbite-quality posts that are the length of a real piece of journalism without the hard work of thinking, supporting arguments, and demonstrating that their spurious connections have any base in reality.

Take person 1 for example, Angelo Mozilo. What does Time say?
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The son of a butcher, Mozilo co-founded Countrywide in 1969 and built it into the largest mortgage lender in the U.S. Countrywide wasn't the first to offer exotic mortgages to borrowers with a questionable ability to repay them. In its all-out embrace of such sales, however, it did legitimize the notion that practically any adult could handle a big fat mortgage. In the wake of the housing bust, which toppled Countrywide and IndyMac Bank (another company Mozilo started), the executive's lavish pay package was criticized by many, including Congress. Mozilo left Countrywide last summer after its rescue-sale to Bank of America. A few months later, BofA said it would spend up to $8.7 billion to settle predatory lending charges against Countrywide filed by 11 state attorneys general.
We now know:
  • Mozilo spent years founding, then building up an institution that survived nearly 50 years in the financial industry.
That's an interesting biographical detail, I guess.
  • Countrywide "legitimized a notion" that exotic mortgages were okay
They don't demonstrate how his company legitimized this notion. They don't have any statistics, surveys, or even flavor quotes that suggest that Countrywide's lending changed industry perceptions. Wikipedia cites a text source and suggests that Countrywide was even one of the last companies to enter the subprime market, held back by Angelo's caution. Moreover, as I stated above, subprime loans to NINJAs weren't the problem. The FICO scores of borrowers were rising! Loans to rich adults with a little more appetite for debt and bay windows than prudent are the problematic ones.
  • There were people, including people in Congress, who said that they were frustrated with Mozilo's compensation
You may or may not think that it's fair, but to attract and retain top talent, you have to pay top dollar. In 2006 Angilo was a financial professional intertwined in the company's DNA with a 45 year record of incredible performance and foresight. That makes his total 2001-2006 compensation of $470 million seem pretty reasonable. Yes, $80 million a year is a lot of money, but I think a reasonable argument could be made that he was worth that to the company, which made more than $6B in revenue the last year it was reporting. Beyond that, much of his payment was in stock options, so his pay was tied to the company's performance, and the company had to bear less risk in paying him. If Countryside performed poorly, he would've done much worse or been shown the door as its figurehead. Besides, what does his compensation have to do with the subprime crisis exactly? Nothing, nothing whatsoever.
  • Countrywide was sued for predatory lending by several state AGs
"Countrywide's lending practices turned the American dream into a nightmare for tens of thousands of families by putting them into loans they couldn't understand and ultimately couldn't afford," said California's AG, in response to the settlement. If you ask me, if you choose not to read your own mortgage before you sign it, that's your own goddamn problem. What's the logic by which predation is assumed? Any loan above 34% of your income must be predatory, and you must not have understood what you were doing when you got it. The settlement required that Countrywide waive refinancing fees for mortgageholders with those awful, predatory mortgages who choose to refinance.

Look, maybe the lawsuit was much more substantial than the MSNBC article suggests. Mozilo has even done other bad things, like insider trading and refinancing homes with sweetheart loans for his buddies in Congress and at Fannie Mae, but it doesn't seem like those things contributed to the 2008 crash.

The point is that Time ultimately has up to half of a sentence of a legitimate beef against any of the 25 'culprits', and it's so hidden in irrelevance and drivel that it's impossible to actually learn anything from reading the article.

Bakari

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2012, 04:30:07 PM »
I would agree that the working class has enough.

If it were up to me, wealth would not be distributed from the super-wealthy to the middle-class, or even the poor.
It would be used first to pay off the debt (eliminating interest payments, which would lower taxes and/or increase investment in infrastructure) and then send the excess to the third world, where (most of) the truly poor live.
Although, the way some of ya'll talk, you'd think you have never seen a genuine homeless person before.  Sure, there are the punk kids who are there voluntarily, but most aren't.

And the thought-experiment about raising the poor ten fold and the rich 100 fold - sure, that's great, but at any given time there really is a finite amount of wealth in the world.  That couldn't happen.  It is not a coincidence that the rich have gotten much richer over the past few decades while the middle class has been mostly stagnant.  The total rise in GDP has to correspond to the total increase of all individuals.  That can either be distributed equally - so that the increased productivity of technology benefits society as a whole - or it can all go to the upper class; but it can't be both.

Anyway, there is a reason some of it is about bringing the rich down.  Concentrated wealth - especially with our current political system - causes a massive imbalance in power and corrupts democracy.  The more we deregulate and allow the market to make economic decisions, the more "votes" are replaced with "spending power", and then all citizens are no longer equal in terms of political input.  Then we cease to be a democracy, and become an aristocracy. 
Which may be fine for some countries... It may be better than having a tyrant emperor...
But this is America, damn it!

Combine that with our basically unlimited inheritance, and you have a recipe for creating the exact system of caste-like nobility that America was founded to undo.

I could say more, but it just so happens that I just wrote a post dissecting the "a poor person never gave me a job" line that was created to make the middle class think that whatever benefits the rich really benefits them:
http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/2012/06/poor-person-never-gave-me-job.html


darkelenchus

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2012, 11:44:58 AM »
I read a thought-experiment that was telling in this regard: if you could, with the push of a button, improve the life of the poor tenfold, but at the same time improve the life of the rich a hundredfold, would you do it?

Just for historical context, this thought experiment is essentially getting at the second part of John Rawls's Difference Principle.

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2012, 01:49:45 PM »

And the thought-experiment about raising the poor ten fold and the rich 100 fold - sure, that's great, but at any given time there really is a finite amount of wealth in the world. 

That isn't true.
I suppose two minutes ago, we could find out how much wealth there was in the world and call that the finite amount of wealth available at that given moment, but you can't use that amount to guess how much wealth will be available tomorrow. Wealth is created.

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2012, 02:48:26 PM »

And the thought-experiment about raising the poor ten fold and the rich 100 fold - sure, that's great, but at any given time there really is a finite amount of wealth in the world. 

That isn't true.
I suppose two minutes ago, we could find out how much wealth there was in the world and call that the finite amount of wealth available at that given moment, but you can't use that amount to guess how much wealth will be available tomorrow. Wealth is created.

Agreed. Wealth can be and should be measured and factored beyond hard cash. Wealth is also resources and knowledge. The first world poor in this day and age are quite well off compared to 100 years ago (even factoring inflation) when you also factor the sheer abundance of tools, materials and knowledge available at prices that did not follow the inflationary curve due to industrialization and volume.

Bakari

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2012, 01:24:15 PM »
You seem to be misunderstanding my point.

At any given moment there is not an infinite amount of resources available in the world.

Given the current level of efficiency of extraction and production, the current world population, and the US level of consumption, it would be completely impossible to allow every human in the world to live the median US standard of living.

Yes, in the future we will have extracted more, and technology will allow us to produce more efficiently.  And in that time population will have risen, and levels of per capita consumption will have risen at least as fast.

For simplicities sake, lets say there are $1000 in the world, and new knowledge and natural resource exploitation allows the world population to create the equivalent of an extra dollar of wealth every single day.

The suggestion that my first statement was invalid because wealth increases would be like if the person who owned $900 of those dollars claimed that wealth inequality wasn't an issue because next year there will be another $365 to go around.  Right now there are still billions of people trying to spread a fraction of a cent each between then. 
Besides, in reality, barring any government redistribution, the vast majority of that $365 will go to the same person anyway.  This is why you have to factor both wealth and income into measures of inequality.  If one person has both most of the wealth and most of the income, it still limits how much others can potentially gain, unless or until wealth becomes infinite (impossible).
The fact that the total pool is expanding is irrelevant to that point.

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2012, 01:50:58 PM »
Keep in mind, though, that wealth is not money, it's what you want that you can buy with the money.  So to use the example above, an iPhone, fancy new car, and big-screen TV are not wealth to me even though I have the money to buy them, because I don't want them. 

At one point in the history of the US, anyone could get title to 160 acres of land, simply by homesteading it.  Though we're supposedly much wealthier today, how many of us could afford to buy that same acreage?  Not many...

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2012, 02:52:22 PM »
I find myself squarely against excessive pay packages or salaries regardless of the 'talent' that needs to be attracted. Maybe I am skewed mentally because I've never made more that 57K @ an hourly rate and had to work a crapload of overtime to do it. However, it seems to me that many people are being paid in amounts that extremely exceed what is required to retain good talent. Besides this I have observed the misaligned incentives for those in power against those who work for them.  My wife works for a company who needed their costs cut. The parent companies CEO was in charge of cutting costs across the board, which included a week furlough for my wife, and in return was given a bonus that year for 'successfully' balancing the budget. So where is my wife's bonus for her part in balancing the budget? It just seems ridiculous to me that for those with an income of over a certain amount (100K, 250K, 1M, etc.) can't accept higher taxes in order to restore balance to the system that has been cut from WAY higher taxes in the past.

Not only that but by encouraging and defending these large pay packages are we not encouraging the obvious waste that must come of them? Is there no study on how incomes of that level no doubt skew beliefs that a certain amount of waste is 'okay'. I would stand behind the rich, if the rich would stand behind me. I'm not looking for a handout, simply looking for more realistic fairness.  A $7/hr minimum wage compared to a CEO's salary is beyond laughable.  If nothing else consider this.  At full time a CEO making 250K is making about $120/hr. If a CEO brings home 1M he makes $480/hr. How about we just reign things in a little so we can all afford a solidly good life instead of this illusion that any of us on the bottom can ever afford any of the things we are constantly barraged with by advertising. It promotes a lifestyle of debt for those on the bottom for those at the top to benefit from.

sol

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2012, 07:48:52 PM »
At full time a CEO making 250K is making about $120/hr. If a CEO brings home 1M he makes $480/hr.

And Angelo Mozilo, who Grant was trying to defend a few posts back, made about $40,000/hour for five straight years, assuming he worked full time.  $40k per hour.  He made more money every day before lunch than the average American retiree has in total assets.

Now I'm sure Mr. Mozilo was good at his job, before that whole fraudulent loans thing, but was he really 1900 times better at his job than the average US wage earner who made 1/1900th of his salary?  Was this one man really so "high-performing" that he was worth 1900 employees earning $23/hour?  Even if we overlook the fact that he's been labelled as one of the worst CEOs of all time and drove his company right into the ground, so is arguably worth less than nothing, is any CEO worth $40k/hour?

Angelo Mozilo is exactly what you get when you buy into that whole magic button improving the life of the poor tenfold fallacy.  Success of our species is measured not just in absolute dollar amounts, but in relative equality.  Your magic button might as well make half the world 1000 times as rich while torturing the other half to death, for all of it's moral credentials.  Wouldn't that also be a net positive for the world?

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #17 on: June 16, 2012, 09:42:02 PM »
I wasn't defending anyone; I think he's a scumbag, and never said anything to any other effect. I just said that your link had no substantive evidence that he contributed to the subprime crisis. I'd say that holds true whatever his character flaws and compensation may be, as you're choosing to twist what I was saying out of context instead of even trying to debate me on the points.

sol

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #18 on: June 16, 2012, 11:07:22 PM »
I wasn't defending anyone; I think he's a scumbag, and never said anything to any other effect. I just said that your link had no substantive evidence that he contributed to the subprime crisis. I'd say that holds true whatever his character flaws and compensation may be, as you're choosing to twist what I was saying out of context instead of even trying to debate me on the points.

Meh, the link was just to demonstrate that some people do lay blame more places than just AIG.  I don't claim to defend Time's reporting, or even necessarily agree with their list.

But neither do I think the recent financial crisis was an unavoidable fluctuation in a free market.  I think many thousands of individuals, some politicians and some executives and some middle managers, colluded diligently to maximize corporate profits at the expense of American citizens.  They systematically dismantled the protections that had kept the markets functioning for generations, invented new methods of restricting information about investments, and ignored the obvious warnings signs of impending collapse, all because they were driven by greed.  That was real people making those decisions, each little decision in support of the big one to go out on a limb.  I don't think it's fair to say they are all blameless just because they all share the blame.

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #19 on: June 22, 2012, 11:06:08 AM »
You seem to be misunderstanding my point.

At any given moment there is not an infinite amount of resources available in the world.

Given the current level of efficiency of extraction and production, the current world population, and the US level of consumption, it would be completely impossible to allow every human in the world to live the median US standard of living.

Yes, in the future we will have extracted more, and technology will allow us to produce more efficiently.  And in that time population will have risen, and levels of per capita consumption will have risen at least as fast.

For simplicities sake, lets say there are $1000 in the world, and new knowledge and natural resource exploitation allows the world population to create the equivalent of an extra dollar of wealth every single day.

The suggestion that my first statement was invalid because wealth increases would be like if the person who owned $900 of those dollars claimed that wealth inequality wasn't an issue because next year there will be another $365 to go around.  Right now there are still billions of people trying to spread a fraction of a cent each between then. 
Besides, in reality, barring any government redistribution, the vast majority of that $365 will go to the same person anyway.  This is why you have to factor both wealth and income into measures of inequality.  If one person has both most of the wealth and most of the income, it still limits how much others can potentially gain, unless or until wealth becomes infinite (impossible).
The fact that the total pool is expanding is irrelevant to that point.

Ok, then forget wealth. Think of it in terms of quality of life.
If you could raise the QoL of a rich person 100 fold, and the QoL of a poor person 10 fold, would you do it?

Honestly, it is more likely to happen the other way around if there ever was a way to quantify QoL, but just ignore that for this example.

grantmeaname

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #20 on: June 22, 2012, 11:11:16 AM »
The term you're looking for is standard of living, not quality of life. Please let's not go back there, that path is already well-walked.

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #21 on: June 22, 2012, 01:43:23 PM »
Ok, then forget wealth. Think of it in terms of quality of life.
If you could raise the QoL of a rich person 100 fold, and the QoL of a poor person 10 fold, would you do it?

Honestly, it is more likely to happen the other way around if there ever was a way to quantify QoL, but just ignore that for this example.

Of course.
I think just about anyone would.
But that question is totally separate from and irrelevant to the original question.

That thought experiment is a red-herring.

It has nothing to do with emotions of jealousy or spite, wealth inequality has a tangible effect on things like democracy, crime rates, and happiness levels.

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #22 on: June 22, 2012, 01:59:11 PM »
I read a thought-experiment that was telling in this regard: if you could, with the push of a button, improve the life of the poor tenfold, but at the same time improve the life of the rich a hundredfold, would you do it?
I'm stealing this for future use! :^D It's true, though... The poor today live at least 10 times better than the poor in 1912. Medicare, social security, electric appliances, etc. The problem is that people take all those things for granted and despair when they realize they're unlikely to live like celebrities.  I think it's a great real-life example of the Hedonic Principle.

The poor in US are still better off than 90%+ of the world population.. If anyone can send those poor Americans on an internship in the poorest part of the world, i think they can learn a lot...

Disclaimer: homeless in 3rd world country when I was 11.

darkelenchus

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #23 on: June 22, 2012, 02:03:24 PM »
Besides, in reality, barring any government redistribution, the vast majority of that $365 will go to the same person anyway.  This is why you have to factor both wealth and income into measures of inequality.  If one person has both most of the wealth and most of the income, it still limits how much others can potentially gain, unless or until wealth becomes infinite (impossible).
The fact that the total pool is expanding is irrelevant to that point.

Ok, then forget wealth. Think of it in terms of quality of life.
If you could raise the QoL of a rich person 100 fold, and the QoL of a poor person 10 fold, would you do it?

Honestly, it is more likely to happen the other way around if there ever was a way to quantify QoL, but just ignore that for this example.

Right, so the expansion of wealth is a red herring. There are natural limits that need to be taken into account.

What I don't understand, Bakari, is why you think the thought experiment doesn't work. As far as I can tell, it's intended to illustrate that inequality in purchasing power/standard of living/quality of life isn't condemnable in itself, but only when it isn't to the advantage of all parties involved. As long as the best of worst case scenarios within the spectrum of possible unequal states of wealth distribution is better than a scenario in which wealth is equally distributed, inequality is rationally preferable, provided such inequality doesn't violate basic freedoms.

That being said, I think your point is a good one, Bakari: our current state of inequality is indeed problematic. The perceived whining about inequality is justified to an extent because, to put it in terms of the thought experiment, those in the lowest class are not enjoying the best of worst case scenarios among the possible states of unequal distribution of wealth.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2012, 02:05:20 PM by darkelenchus »

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #24 on: June 22, 2012, 08:56:44 PM »
Concentrated wealth causes a massive imbalance in power and corrupts democracy.  The more we deregulate and allow the market to make economic decisions, the more "votes" are replaced with "spending power", and then all citizens are no longer equal in terms of political input.

Combine that with our basically unlimited inheritance, and you have a recipe for creating the exact system of caste-like nobility that America was founded to undo.

Then we cease to be a democracy, and become an aristocracy. 
Which may be fine for some countries... It may be better than having a tyrant emperor...
But this is America, damn it!

I could say more, but it just so happens that I just wrote a post dissecting the "a poor person never gave me a job" line that was created to make the middle class think that whatever benefits the rich really benefits them:
http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/2012/06/poor-person-never-gave-me-job.html

darkelenchus

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #25 on: June 23, 2012, 07:57:57 AM »
Concentrated wealth causes a massive imbalance in power and corrupts democracy.  The more we deregulate and allow the market to make economic decisions, the more "votes" are replaced with "spending power", and then all citizens are no longer equal in terms of political input.

Combine that with our basically unlimited inheritance, and you have a recipe for creating the exact system of caste-like nobility that America was founded to undo.

Then we cease to be a democracy, and become an aristocracy. 
Which may be fine for some countries... It may be better than having a tyrant emperor...
But this is America, damn it!

I could say more, but it just so happens that I just wrote a post dissecting the "a poor person never gave me a job" line that was created to make the middle class think that whatever benefits the rich really benefits them:
http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/2012/06/poor-person-never-gave-me-job.html

Okay, so not only do we regularly fail to legislate nowadays for something like a "best of worst case scenarios" situation for the lowest classes, the legislation (or lack thereof) also threatens basic freedoms that any rational person would prefer. All the worse for our current societal arrangement, then.

This addresses the original post well, but it's not sufficient to illustrate that inequality is inherently condemnable. That is, the historical accidents of the recent past don't demonstrate that an aristocratic caste system is the only logical consequence of allowing inequality. We can certainly imagine a realistic situation in which the basic freedoms of all are preserved, there is inequality of wealth, and the best of the worst case scenarios is still better than a scenario with an equal distribution of wealth. This is essentially what the thought experiment is getting at.

What follows from this is that inequality is tolerable as a matter of policy, provided it meets certain criteria. There's nothing inherent to inequality that makes it unfair or unjust. At the same time, it doesn't necessarily justify supply side policies, if those policies don't really improve the lot of the lowest classes. The prescriptive result is only that we should be concerned with promoting courses of action that increase the well-being/standard of living/wealth of each household, rather than worry about reducing inequality merely for the sake of reducing inequality, which may or may not lead to said increases.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2012, 08:19:01 AM by darkelenchus »

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #26 on: June 24, 2012, 07:39:13 AM »
Whether or not it inequality is ethical depends in large part on the reason it exsits.  Assuming everyone in a society has the same opportunity - free and mandatory preschool and kindergarten, free grade school, and free college, and no inheritance for anyone - and some people became richer due to their own innovation, hard work, frugality, and luck, then certainly those people should be rewarded with the fruits of their labor, and society need not level the results so long as they leveled the initial playing field.

At the same time, yes, there are concrete negative consequences to inequality that aren't limited to only our current political reality, such as reduced overall health of a population, increased murder rate, reduced economic growth, and reductions in democracy:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_inequality#Effects_of_inequality

darkelenchus

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #27 on: June 24, 2012, 11:28:45 AM »
Whether or not it inequality is ethical depends in large part on the reason it exsits....

Right. In order for the inequality to be just, it would have to be arranged in such a way that it allowed for improvement in standard of living from households starting off in the lowest classes.

Quote
At the same time, yes, there are concrete negative consequences to inequality that aren't limited to only our current political reality, such as reduced overall health of a population, increased murder rate, reduced economic growth, and reductions in democracy:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_inequality#Effects_of_inequality

I'm not convinced these studies illustrate that overall reduction in health of a population, increase in murder rate, et alia, are consequences of inequality. Putnum's US study in particular seems to fall prey to a false cause fallacy (BTW, I highly recommend Putnam's book, Bowling Alone). The mere fact that social cohesiveness began to decline as inequality began to raise does not indicate that one was the cause of the other. It could be that these trends just happened to coincide and thus appear causally related, or it could be that they share a common cause. Moreover, and more to the point about social cohesiveness, social arrangements needn't be indexed to income or net worth, as has largely been the case in Western nations for some time now.

I'd wager all this bad stuff has more to do with an overall decreased standard of living for the lower classes - a standard that in many cases dips below what one would rationally agree to in a Rawlsian Original Position - than it does in the wealth differentiation between the higher and lower classes. And, of course, the standard of living for the lowest classes may increase or decrease independently of any increase or decrease of inequality. In order to begin testing either of these explanations, we'd have to observe social arrangements in which a) the standard of living of the lowest classes is at a rationally acceptable level and b) the level of inequality is equal to or greater than the level of inequality observed in the cited studies. If the negative consequences were largely absent, it'd count against Putnam's explanation. If the negative consequences were largely present, that would count against my explanation and may begin to undermine the force behind the thought experiment.

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #28 on: June 26, 2012, 05:02:06 PM »
Whether or not it inequality is ethical depends in large part on the reason it exsits.  Assuming everyone in a society has the same opportunity - free and mandatory preschool and kindergarten, free grade school, and free college, and no inheritance for anyone - and some people became richer due to their own innovation, hard work, frugality, and luck, then certainly those people should be rewarded with the fruits of their labor, and society need not level the results so long as they leveled the initial playing field.

Even without starting from an initially level playing field, we find plenty of cases in which people start near the bottom, yet become richer through their own innovation, &c.  I'm one of them: I am probably in the 4th quintile of income, 5th of assets, despite starting in the lowest of both.  I imagine many people on this forum could report similar stories.  I dare say we could find a few who've started near the top and moved down, too.

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #29 on: June 26, 2012, 09:28:26 PM »
Even without starting from an initially level playing field, we find plenty of cases in which people start near the bottom, yet become richer through their own innovation, &c.  I'm one of them: I am probably in the 4th quintile of income, 5th of assets, despite starting in the lowest of both.  I imagine many people on this forum could report similar stories.  I dare say we could find a few who've started near the top and moved down, too.

Well of course, no question about it.
I think that one of the main things used to justify our system is these individual anecdotes of people who defy the odds.
Unlike some societies, upward mobility is not legally restricted.

But does being able to find successes stories indicate that our current way is what is best for society as a whole?
You can find many many individual anecdotes of people who were sent to prison and were reformed by the experience and turned their lives around.
As a whole, though, the recidivism rate is ridiculously high (60%) so, Malcom X not-withstanding, the system is not working.
My question is not "is it possible to go from rags to riches?" its "would more people be more successful in a society where the playing field was level?"

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #30 on: June 27, 2012, 01:55:59 PM »
It may not show what is best, but it surely demonstrates that what is claimed to be bad is not nearly so bad as is claimed.  It might even suggest that the problem really isn't the un-levelness of the playing field, but the fact that large numbers of people are never taught the rules & techniques needed to play successfully. (Certainly true for me: took me maybe 10 years of mostly trial-and-error after high school to learn how to survive, and more to really prosper.)

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #31 on: November 28, 2014, 09:10:53 PM »
The wealthy reinvest into the system. The system wants you to succeed. Its a meritocracy.

Huffpost is a liberal rag that doesnt deserve to wipe my ass.

LalsConstant

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #32 on: December 03, 2014, 10:25:28 AM »
However anyone might personally feel about the fairness of it, for good or ill, no human society has ever existed, on any scale, where a relative handful of people didn't control most of the wealth.  Even in tiny nomadic bands of a few hundred or less, the chief has many more goats than anyone else.

I don't think it can feasibly be any other way; someone has to be in charge.  And naturally those people are going to pursue their own self-interest, there is never going to be authority and status without wealth or vice versa.   I think a natural law is very much in effect here.

In the grand scale, I think the modern US and similar nations are actually paragons of equality and have subverted the natural law to a truly amazing degree.  Barack Obama, I read somewhere, is only worth $11.5 million.  Thatís far more than I will ever have, but itís paltry compared to say the CEO of Exxon-Mobil, and yet the relative pauper has far more power.   Indeed, most of our presidents, governors, congress, etc. arenít nearly so wealthy as the elites that must answer to them.   So perhaps in a gross sense, we have partially cost off the paradigm of authority being coupled with wealth, but itís still generally true in my opinion.

Now in an ideal society, this wealth-authority complex would be offset by the fact these people would be criminally liable for malfeasance and would be held to a higher standard.  To a degree they are, but it seems very inconsistent, indeed it rather seems most people in this position are both highly compensated AND never punished for abusing their power (at least not seriously), which is where I think the class warfare against "the rich" comes from.

That is imho where the resentment comes from, but attitude this suffers from the fallacy of composition.

A large percentage of the wealthy, at least a supermajority, have not actually done such terrible things.  Some have done amazing things, but most just do economically extraordinary things.  In many if not most cases, people with high incomes or much wealth haven't actually done anything "wrong", they have an uncommon and valuable capability they can exploit.

If you're good enough at applied math to become an actuary or nimble enough to do a complicated brain surgery only three other people in the world can and people offer you hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to do that, how is that in any way your "fault"?

Economics doesn't care about character, good, evil, virtue, or deservedness.  It doesnít matter if curing cancer is better than inventing a new cell phone game to the marketplace.   If something's valuable it's valuable.  If it's not it's not.  Odds are pretty good most people are like me and aren't gifted with any remarkable talents that are so valuable and marketable.  It is what it is, if everyone were special no one would be.

The best you can do is accept that which cannot be changed, save your vitriol for specific people who have clearly and demonstrably done evil, and turn your critical lens to your own actions and try to improve them. 

Or in the vernacular, don't hate the player, hate the game.   Except thereís no point in hating the game because the game is, effectively, nature and natural law.

And always remember the world doesn't owe you one damn thing in the first place, no matter how hard you work or what you contribute.

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #33 on: December 03, 2014, 11:59:40 AM »
Great thread necro.

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #34 on: December 03, 2014, 12:21:00 PM »
There are several systemic problems with US winner take all economy.

1.  The rich really are getting richer at a fantastic rate while the low income and middle income people are getting poorer.   It is a stark contrast to many wealthy countries where income is more evenly divided between the worker bees and the queen bees.  (even mustachians aspire to the day they will avoid taxes by living entirely off investments)
2.  The problem with basing everything on "work" is that we are so damn efficient that eventually it will only take 5 % of the people to produce enough for everyone.  (see the farming industry)(also see that the US now manufactures twice as much stuff as 10 years ago with half the workers in manufacturing)
3.  The working poor are vastly underpaid and their care (health, food stamps, insurance) is moved to the government, which in turn moves it to the middle wage earners.  This now puts a burden on the middle wage earners ability to have a nicer life.
4.  The rich simply are not nationalist or give a rip about the country they have citizenship or residency in.   Thus they easily avoid taxes and move corporate headquarters abroad, in turn leaving the worker bees with little of the profits and all of the bills.

So yes,  I would agree that workers and non workers deserve more of the pie in the USA.  Australia and Europe may be different and more equitable. 

Please don't give me that crap about rich people working hard.  I know some who do and some who don't work at all. 

And please don't give me the move to another country deal either.   I'd still be writing the same thing about the US even if I lived in Belgium.


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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #35 on: December 03, 2014, 12:38:35 PM »
I don't mind inequality.  I do think that some people work harder, take more risk and responsibility than others and deserve a bigger reward for it.  But like others in this thread said, when the difference between the highest and lowest paid worker in a company becomes 200-300X, it gets harder to see how that level of inequality benefits everyone. 

Also, too much inequality causes social instability, and that ultimately hurts the economy.  I think even some of the 0.01% understand this:

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/06/the-pitchforks-are-coming-for-us-plutocrats-108014.html#.VH9mpjHF-31

odput

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #36 on: December 03, 2014, 02:25:11 PM »



But seriously, that article was a great read (ETA: The article that golden1 posted, not the article in the OP.).  Seems to be an affirmation of the hypothetical question upthread, helping the poor and middle class would also help the rich.  My favorite bit:

Quote from: article
The most insidious thing about trickle-down economics isn’t believing that if the rich get richer, it’s good for the economy. It’s believing that if the poor get richer, it’s bad for the economy.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2014, 08:44:16 AM by odput »

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #37 on: December 03, 2014, 02:27:35 PM »
How much of a bribe do the rich need to give to the poor to behave?  Best way to keep them behaving is to give them something to lose.  The rich should support subsidized housing, energy, and food as long as it keeps the rioters at bay.  Prison is expensive and executions are unlikely to get less time intensive or expanded enough to handle all the poor miscreants.  If we can keep the poor quiet, happy, and under enough birth control then a decent standard of living is just the cost of business.

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #38 on: December 03, 2014, 02:39:44 PM »
I couldn't care less about "inequality". All I care about is are if the poor are being unfairly treated. And I don't see that happening. The problem is, many of the "poor" in America don't live like they're poor! They eat mainly convenience food (everyone knows cooking yourself is cheaper), own expensive cars when they don't need them and could walk/bike, have iPhones with expensive data plans, and don't save money.

What I see in the US is more of a sense of "covetousness". Why can't people just stop wanting what others have? Who cares that some rich person owns a palatial estate and has 100 cars? We already know that owning more doesn't make you happier! Be satisfied with what you have rather than wanting more. Then you won't care how many billionaires there are, or that the number keeps growing.

IMO the biggest reason the wealth gap is increasing is because those who earn less are spending rather than saving and investing. When the rich save the majority of their income and invest it, of course their wealth grows! When the middle class and poor buy stuff they don't need and don't save a dime, of course their wealth doesn't grow!

Your wealth depends on how much you save, not how much you earn. But of course that isn't politically correct in the slightest.

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #39 on: December 04, 2014, 06:53:42 AM »
Inequality tends to lead to unequal power.

Unequal power always leads to abuses.

Your average poor person isn't pissed off at the dude who worked hard to buy a nice house and raise his family in comfort.  It's the rich guy who gets out of a jail sentence by means of his influence and high dollar attorney, a sentence that would be a slam dunk case against a poor person.  The rich guy who puts others in danger by carelessly not following the rules.  The rich guy who lobbies the government to enact legislation that hurts many in order to protect his income source.

That's the unfairness of inequality, and people should get angry about it.

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #40 on: December 04, 2014, 08:37:10 AM »
So many clueless people on this thread.  Just because your life is easy that doesn't mean everyone's life is easy.  Americans used to be able to live a middle class lifestyle on a factory worker's wages.  Now they are making $8/hr working at Walmart because there are no factory jobs and the other jobs left pay garbage unless you want to take out $100k in college loans.  It is really hard out there these days.  I completely understand the desire to eat the Walton family.  So the moral of the story is be thankful that you had educated parents who loved you and be thankful that you were born with above average intelligence and an aptitude for the skills necessary for a high-paying profession.  This Hunger Games shit on the board is getting pretty old.

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #41 on: December 04, 2014, 10:12:33 AM »
So many clueless people on this thread.  Just because your life is easy that doesn't mean everyone's life is easy.  Americans used to be able to live a middle class lifestyle on a factory worker's wages.  Now they are making $8/hr working at Walmart because there are no factory jobs and the other jobs left pay garbage unless you want to take out $100k in college loans.  It is really hard out there these days.  I completely understand the desire to eat the Walton family.  So the moral of the story is be thankful that you had educated parents who loved you and be thankful that you were born with above average intelligence and an aptitude for the skills necessary for a high-paying profession.  This Hunger Games shit on the board is getting pretty old.

The average household income in the US is over 50K right now - easily enough to live comfortably and retire early if one chooses to do so. You definitely don't need a 100K degree to get a 25-30K job that would form your half of the average household income. Do you really think everyone here has high paying jobs? As per multiple polls, there are tons of us who make average or below average incomes but still save a ton.

It's not "really hard out there", it's easier than it ever has been in human history.

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #42 on: December 04, 2014, 10:54:25 AM »
So many clueless people on this thread.  Just because your life is easy that doesn't mean everyone's life is easy.  Americans used to be able to live a middle class lifestyle on a factory worker's wages.  Now they are making $8/hr working at Walmart because there are no factory jobs and the other jobs left pay garbage unless you want to take out $100k in college loans.  It is really hard out there these days.  I completely understand the desire to eat the Walton family.  So the moral of the story is be thankful that you had educated parents who loved you and be thankful that you were born with above average intelligence and an aptitude for the skills necessary for a high-paying profession.  This Hunger Games shit on the board is getting pretty old.

The average household income in the US is over 50K right now - easily enough to live comfortably and retire early if one chooses to do so. You definitely don't need a 100K degree to get a 25-30K job that would form your half of the average household income. Do you really think everyone here has high paying jobs? As per multiple polls, there are tons of us who make average or below average incomes but still save a ton.

It's not "really hard out there", it's easier than it ever has been in human history.

Half of all people make less than average.




"there's no reason it should be equal" (about 6 different people)

Agreed.  The problem with "inequality" isn't that its so unfair that people who work harder earn more.
The problem is that under a system rigged to make capital more valuable than work, the people who work the least make by far the most.  More than any person could even possible need, or even use wastefully.
Its not about the "1%" vs the working class - most of the 1% work full time, they are doctors and lawyers and software engineers and people on this thread.
Its more the 0.01% vs the 99.99%, billionaires who no longer have to contribute anything at all (and about 1/2 of whom never did)

If you want a meritocracy, you have to trade in capitalism for a truly free market, an Adam Smith style perfect competition market place.
That means no corporations, first of all.
No investment property.
Strictly limited intellectual property rights, especially for anyone other than the individual who actually produced the idea.
Economies of scale means wealth snowballs, and is not proportionate to either effort or value (to society).

In the grand scale, I think the modern US and similar nations are actually paragons of equality


There are lots of nations with more equality than the US which also manage to have a higher standard of living.

No matter what metrics or formula you use, the US is really far down the list, worse than most countries, even the 3rd world ones:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_income_equality

Compared to most of history, there simply wasn't as much total wealth.  King or slave, you pooped in a hole.  So while they may have had a political system that theoretically could have allowed greater wealth inequality, there simply wasn't the range available.  There were no mulit-billionaires in the ancient world, even after adjusting for inflation.  The most luxurious thing a king could hope for was an extremely elaborate tomb, and a bunch of indentured minimum wage (subsistence) slaves.


I totally agree that most of the US working class waste ridiculous amounts of money and could do MUCH better with a few mustachian principals, but that is a straw man and a red herring - its irrelevant to the question of whether our political and economic system is set up in a way to have reward proportional to contributions, as opposed to being based primarily on the luck of to whom you were born. 
We love to bring out the individual success stories, because its part of the Great American Narrative, but the fact remains that one of the best predictors of success is one's parent's status.


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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #43 on: December 04, 2014, 11:50:08 AM »
Quote
Half of all people make less than average.

Sure, but the reality is that we live in a society where OVER HALF THE POPULATION has the option of retiring in their 30s or 40s if they make the correct financial decisions. The rest mostly have the option of living comfortably and retiring at a normal retirement age. Even at minimum wage, working full time for a normal length of time will allow you to live comfortably and retire with a moderate nest egg if you make the correct financial decisions.

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #44 on: December 04, 2014, 02:01:22 PM »
I know plenty of rich people because I do very well and most of the rich people I know do jack shit to make money.  Wow, they push around a few papers and then go play golf.  They must be so special.  The guy working in an auto factory making $15/hr deserves more because he works harder.  The whole notion that people make more money because they work harder is obviously wrong.  It's plain to see.  And, yes, people are wasteful, but when a person makes $8/hr no amount of minimalism is going to make them able to afford an apartment anywhere.  The arrogance of this thread is overwhelming.  I understand why some people turn to crime.

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #45 on: December 04, 2014, 02:23:09 PM »
IMO the biggest reason the wealth gap is increasing is because those who earn less are spending rather than saving and investing. When the rich save the majority of their income and invest it, of course their wealth grows! When the middle class and poor buy stuff they don't need and don't save a dime, of course their wealth doesn't grow!

Your wealth depends on how much you save, not how much you earn. But of course that isn't politically correct in the slightest.

You couldn't be more wrong, wow!  You know, there are studies showing people making 250-500K really don't save all that high a % of their income.  But of course it's easier to build wealth when you make a lot since 10% of 500K = 50K whereas 40% of 50K = 20K.  It's the math, stupid!   

But let's just bury our heads in the sand and pretend the rich are so much more virtuous than the rest of us.   The non-rich are getting fucked over, but hey, nothing to see here. 

Zikoris

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #46 on: December 04, 2014, 04:17:23 PM »
I know plenty of rich people because I do very well and most of the rich people I know do jack shit to make money.  Wow, they push around a few papers and then go play golf.  They must be so special.  The guy working in an auto factory making $15/hr deserves more because he works harder.  The whole notion that people make more money because they work harder is obviously wrong.  It's plain to see.  And, yes, people are wasteful, but when a person makes $8/hr no amount of minimalism is going to make them able to afford an apartment anywhere.  The arrogance of this thread is overwhelming.  I understand why some people turn to crime.

News flash: you don't get things handed to you based on what you "deserve". You get paid based on things like:

1. The market value of your skill set
2. Your negotiation skills
3. How many other people have the desire and ability to do your job
4. The value you add to the company

As for the rest, come on, we've done this before - there are plenty of people on these forums who spend less than people on minimum wage, and live a high quality life. Last year my non-travel spending was about 9K all in, and it's looking like it will be about 8-8.5K this year, and that's in expensive Vancouver. I even have an apartment to live in on that level of spending! And there are people here who spend way less than me.

It's astounding that you continue to believe it's impossible to live on a small amount when you are surrounded by people who do so comfortably.

MoneyCat

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #47 on: December 04, 2014, 07:46:21 PM »
I know plenty of rich people because I do very well and most of the rich people I know do jack shit to make money.  Wow, they push around a few papers and then go play golf.  They must be so special.  The guy working in an auto factory making $15/hr deserves more because he works harder.  The whole notion that people make more money because they work harder is obviously wrong.  It's plain to see.  And, yes, people are wasteful, but when a person makes $8/hr no amount of minimalism is going to make them able to afford an apartment anywhere.  The arrogance of this thread is overwhelming.  I understand why some people turn to crime.

News flash: you don't get things handed to you based on what you "deserve". You get paid based on things like:

1. The market value of your skill set
2. Your negotiation skills
3. How many other people have the desire and ability to do your job
4. The value you add to the company

As for the rest, come on, we've done this before - there are plenty of people on these forums who spend less than people on minimum wage, and live a high quality life. Last year my non-travel spending was about 9K all in, and it's looking like it will be about 8-8.5K this year, and that's in expensive Vancouver. I even have an apartment to live in on that level of spending! And there are people here who spend way less than me.

It's astounding that you continue to believe it's impossible to live on a small amount when you are surrounded by people who do so comfortably.

Like I said before, you are very special.  Congratulations.  Go pat yourself on the back.  Now, back to reality, you get paid a lot because you know people and you had a good upbringing.  Hell, I get paid what I get because I know people.  That's how life works.

Another thing I was just thinking about that goes with my comment earlier about how I understand people turning to crime.  Some people have an excellent skill-set when it comes to the use of weapons like knives and firearms.  I bet they extract some good value from those skills.  Other people are good at hacking computers.  If we're going to completely throw morality out the window, then let's not be half-assed about it.

Zikoris

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Re: Middle class and poor should unite against the rich?
« Reply #48 on: December 04, 2014, 09:51:09 PM »
Quote
Like I said before, you are very special.  Congratulations.  Go pat yourself on the back.  Now, back to reality, you get paid a lot because you know people and you had a good upbringing.  Hell, I get paid what I get because I know people.  That's how life works.

Uh, on what planet do I get paid a lot, let alone get jobs because of connections? It sounds absolutely lovely. I'd be retired a whole lot sooner if either of those was true.