Opinion

The Great Debate

Heads, the rich win; tails, the poor lose

By Helaine Olen
December 23, 2013

The rich, to mangle F. Scott Fitzgerald slightly, they rationalize differently than you and me. Whether they succeed or fail, they’ve always got a pseudo-scientific excuse. If they do well, it’s because their habits are better than those of the rest of us peons. If they do badly, it was their upbringing, since wealthy parents too readily substitute lucre for love.

Don’t believe me? Let’s turn to the headlines.

Last month, personal finance and self-responsibility guru Dave Ramsey posted a list on his website entitled, “20 Things the Rich Do Every Day,” originally written by New Jersey accountant and certified financial planner Thomas C. Corley, who, according to his website “studied the daily activities of 233 wealthy people and 128 people living in poverty.”

The list, which quickly went viral, was filled with the self-improvement tropes that could be called “Why the Rich Deserve Their Money.” Prosperous people eat less junk food than poor people. They read more books. They watch less reality television and make their children volunteer more time to charity.

It should come as no surprise that the country that brought you the myth of Horatio Alger should love such bits of wealth-building advice. We have a history after all, probably one going back as far as Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack, which offered up such words of wisdom as “a penny saved is a twopence dear,” now widely remembered as “a penny saved is a penny earned.”

Franklin, however, lacked access to modern market research techniques. As a result, the modern iteration of this way of thinking really begins with the publication of The Millionaire Next Door in 1996, a book that posited that the wealthy might be our neighbors but they really aren’t like us. They are thrifty, luxury-eschewing self-made men; they drink Bud instead of merlot, and most certainly do not give too much to their children.

Do they really? Who knew? Authors Thomas Stanley and William Danko based their findings on a self-selecting group of millionaires willing to answer a 249-question survey in return for $1, not exactly a representative group. But no one cared. The success of the book (it spent more then two years on the New York Times bestseller list) spawned hosts of imitators ranging from The Top Ten Distinctions Between Millionaires and the Middle Class and Today show guru Jean Chatzky’s The Difference, which studied the financial habits of the wealthy to better advise the rest of us.

And now, courtesy of the Internet, we get lists. On Yahoo, there’s the Daily Habits of Wealthy People. Lifehack could support a vertical devoted to the topic, with posts including 10 Habits of the Richest People in the World, 7 Reasons Why You’re not a Millionaire and, my personal favorite, 11 Sleep Habits of Successful People.

Even if you take these lists at face value, all they are doing is confusing access with virtue. Take the popular meme about how the poor don’t prepare healthy meals. There are solid reasons those lacking funds might purchase less-than-nutritious offerings, and lack of discipline is only one item on the list.

First, lower-income people all too often lack easy access to affordable outlets. Poverty struck Camden, New Jersey, already deemed a “food desert” by the federal government, which saw its last supermarket, a Pathmark, close its doors this past fall.

Or think about this: how many times have you purchased fresh fruit or vegetables, only to have them turn before they can be consumed? That’s not a problem with boxed macaroni and cheese — and that’s something someone reliant on food stamps to get by needs to contemplate when tossing food into the shopping cart.

No matter. Subtlety is not required on these lists. The subtext to all these conglomerations of sometimes-dubious statistics is the same: the shiftless poor deserve their fate. Never mind unemployment, and full-time jobs that don’t offer a living wage. Just eat an apple a day and floss your damn teeth.

But if the wealthy don’t engage in proper behavior — well, they’ve got an excuse.

Let’s discuss affluenza, which could be deemed what happens when the poor little rich boy or girl syndrome meets the DSM, or at least meets someone who thinks such a condition is officially recognized by the psychiatric community. (It’s not.) Supposedly caused by wealthy parents who neglect their children, or use their money to allow their sons and daughters to avoid facing the consequences of their actions, affluenza leaves sufferers lacking self-discipline and impulse control, or much of a sense of self.

The term is now in the news, thanks to the Texas teen who killed four people earlier this year while driving drunk. After a therapist indeed testified the boy suffered from affluenza, a sympathetic judge sentenced him to probation so he could receive needed treatment. And what might that be? A long-term stay in a four-star luxury rehab facility in southern California reportedly costing $450,000 annually where his recovery will possibly include horseback riding and time spent in a “state-of-the-art” gym.

But what is affluenza? Well, in something that should come as no surprise, it originates in the whims of a wealthy. Fred Whitman, a San Francisco blueblood, coined the term in the 1950s. In the early 1980s, he sponsored a survey by the Bay Area C.G. Jung Institute, one that used the term to demonstrate the downsides of inherited wealth. The term gained traction quickly. Future happiness and emotional intelligence star Daniel Goleman soon wrote an article on the topic for the New York Times and, in little more than a decade, a PBS special was devoted to the concept, which was pitched as something anyone who tried to keep up in the consumption-happy United States could suffer from.

Yet, at its heart, affluenza is little more than an excuse for bad habits and awful behavior. But that’s not something that goes mentioned by our modern self-help gurus, who are, apparently, simply trying to make themselves or their clients feel they are among the righteous.

No one, after all, ever asks how the wealthy could have both better daily habits that ensure wealth and manifest the behaviors that cause affluenza. But we don’t need to wonder why that is so. As French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau once wrote, “As long as there are rich people in the world, they will be desirous of distinguishing themselves from the poor.” It can go without saying that such sentiments will always benefit those with power and assets over those without access to either.

PHOTO: The radiator mascot of a 1951 Bentley Mk IV limousine pictured during a prologue of the Raid Suisse-Paris 2013 vintage car rally in Zurich August 21, 2013. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Comments
44 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Seriously? Yeah, because poor people have never had an excuse for their behavior. I mean, it’s not like any lawyer has ever used poverty, being a minority, and/or growing up in a screwed up household… in the defense for some kid who killed a store owner for $30 in the register… or doing something like carjacking an elderly couple, to get money for crack. That kind of thing never happens. Poor people are always willing to take their punishment for their behavior, without any excuses.

I read somewhere that statistically, people who were poor and then instantly came into a large sum of money… are at the top of the list for being the biggest tax cheats. Everybody hates wealthy people, until they become one.

Posted by dd606 | Report as abusive
 

So dd606, you’re defending the rich?!? They don’t need your help. The top 1% own more than 40% of the wealth of this country. The bottom 80%, owns just 7%. That’s me, and probably you, unless your last name is Koch or Walton. So shill for somebody that needs your help.

Posted by Andvari | Report as abusive
 

Helaine, this is remarkably superficial.

It fits in perfectly with our culture and almost all public discourse.

I would like to see you do better. How do you think should we experiment with democracy to raise the level of public discourse and governance, and ultimately, our citizens?

Posted by benfct | Report as abusive
 

Rich and poor – the discourse of our times. My view is that it is right that men can become rich by their own action, but it is wrong that a wealth class is created who are born into wealth and go to great lengths to preserve that wealth at the expense of the rest of us. How about time for a death tax of 100% of everything over $5 mil?

Posted by BidnisMan | Report as abusive
 

dd606, I think the difference is that: [a] The people to which you refer get life sentences or death row and [b] when the rest of us perform the same act, we are forces to be responsible for our actions. A good legal defense always tried to present extenuating circumstances. The author is not primarily addressing the legal defense itself. Lack of love and attention hurts any child or person, but when it happens to children of wealthy adults, it becomes intellectualized but for poor people, it is simply that they “worthless” and what else would we expect from them. I understand and agree with what you trying to point out. I personally believe the article could have been made stronger by explicitly pointing out what you did, in that the same type of argument is used when defending “poor” clients, but it is the actions of the judge based on “affluenza” that is repulsive. Has the justice system ever “sentenced” someone from the “ghetto” to a country club for treatment for committing manslaughter?

Posted by theSyllogist | Report as abusive
 

What no one ever mentions is the relationship between the rise of the middle class and the rise of the country on the world stage.

After WWII, we became the most powerful country on Earth with the middle class rising, allowing ordinary people to buy a house, send their children to college, and generally have a nice life.

Now we are regressing back into the Gilded Age where the wealthy class is controlling all of the shots. China is rapidly becoming the #1 world power, fed by the wealthy class’s outsourcing of millions of jobs to China, India, Taiwan, Vietnam, and other countries.

And the wealthy class has been assisted by the millions of wannabes, the fools who keep the rules as they are because they have a delusion that they will someday accede to the elevated ranks.

Our fall from grace was not accidental.

Posted by baroque-quest | Report as abusive
 

There you go BidnisMan. I’m right there with you. Since I’ve been called a bleeding heart, I might raise that 100% tax threshold to $10 million but we’re splitting hairs.

Imagine how stimulating it would be if the uber wealthy were facing an estate tax like this. Folks would need to spend, give to charity or die and let the government have it. Imagine all the good that could come out of a system like that. No more asset hoarding (which is really what we have today, I’ve seen it first hand!).

Posted by Missinginaction | Report as abusive
 

What image are you painting -

Posted by BillSaidIt | Report as abusive
 

@bidnisman & Missinginaction: Right on. I don’t think there is much hate for the man who truly earned his riches. It’s the guy who inherited his wealth, earned it through money manipulation or on rent that is truly despised. High taxes on inheritance, cap gains, and rental income while lowering taxes on productive work would help balance society and reward the kind of activities that actually improve the nation.

Posted by anarcurt | Report as abusive
 

“@bidnisman & Missinginaction: Right on. I don’t think there is much hate for the man who truly earned his riches. It’s the guy who inherited his wealth, earned it through money manipulation or on rent that is truly despised. High taxes on inheritance, cap gains, and rental income while lowering taxes on productive work would help balance society and reward the kind of activities that actually improve the nation.

Posted by anarcurt”

… spread the word.

Posted by taxcorps2 | Report as abusive
 

Bidnisman, Missinginaction, anarcurt, taxcorps2: I’m with you all on that. The imbalance of wealth in this country is obscene, and doing immeasurable damage to this country and our people. We NEED change and we have to start talking about how we’re going to accomplish that. Because it sure isn’t going to come from our government.

The wealthy now run this country. It has become a plutocracy, and remains a democracy in name only. Change will be extremely difficult because they control most of the outlets from where we receive our information. They not only legislate the rules, to a large degree they dictate how we conceive our world. Affluenza is a good example.

In a sane world built on facts and logic, affluenza would be a joke never to be taken seriously. Here in the US, all it takes is the wealthy recognizing the term affluenza as a useful tool to add to their ever growing bag of tricks to continue cultivating their wealth at everyone else’s expense, and it will soon become part of our culture. All it takes is a few well-rewarded judges, with the help of some media outlets, to take the term seriously and dictate to the general public that affluenza is something we’re going to accept as legitimate. That’s usually all it takes. It’s worked with our healthcare system. Our healthcare system is more insane than affluenza, yet we accept it. Change is needed.

Enjoyed the op-ed, Ms Olen. I really appreciate your focus in this area. It’s important.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

In US, there’s this set up to fail goal – to simplify the basic effort of the central bank – to deploy money to the people. It’s ludicrous that this aim is achieved through the path of strongest resistance, some archaic and deeply flawed scheme that skews equality and enjoys entropy, making what should be blissful ride called life unnecessarily hard for many.

We’re talking much about basic income in Europe and the more we talk the clearer it is… in one way or another we’ll end up with something similar to it. We might as well fast-forward, imo that is.

Posted by satori23 | Report as abusive
 

Get ready folks because this type of dialog sets the tone for Obama and his foot soldiers in 2014: It’s called change the subject and distract people from their other collectivist experiment called The Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare).

So in the US, their policy focus will center around raising the minimum wage, extending transfer payments like unemployment and having a discussion about the so-called “living wage.” Never mind that all these statistics people quote to demonstrate income inequality in the US don’t include transfer payments to the poor or taxes on the rich.

Seriously?, do we want to discuss affluenza when so many people are losing the health insurance to plans with much higher premiums, astronomical deductables and lousy medical networks? Nice try.

Posted by cab717 | Report as abusive
 

Hmmm….if affluenza is real, then so to is “asset hoarding disorder”. Let’s get AHD into the DSM.

It might sound like I’m joking, but I’m not. Asset hoarding is certainly different from classic hoarding. If you have an open mind though, go look at the American Psychiatric Association’s discussion of hoarding at psychiatry.org and see how you can make some connection between general hoarding and “asset hoarding”.

It seems to me that we have many people worldwide that suffer from asset hoarding. It would seem that affluenza is often caused by asset hoarding in that affluenza would usually not occur in the absence of excessive inherited wealth.

A close relative of mine suffered from hoarding disorder and also from asset hoarding. He accumulated $millions in his life and while he died wealthy, he was depressed and miserable. His family was distant as he paid them little attention, preferring to focus on his assets.

Just because a person is wealthy, never assume they are happy.

As a culture we should look at asset hoarding and determine weather or not it is in fact a disease. It seems to me that people who’s life goal becomes the accumulation of $10′s to $100′s of millions in assets (or more) are wealthy but are not mentally healthy. They are very unbalanced.

Posted by Missinginaction | Report as abusive
 

I am not one of the ultra rich, just middle class, but I harbor neither the rich nor the poor any ill will. Unfortunately, these discussions present an idea that somehow, making the rich people poorer will make the poor people richer, a myth that has never happened. It has been tried in many of the communist and socialist systems, with the result of universal poverty except for the ruling political classes. I am happy that there are rich people in this country and as long as they made their money honestly I’m glad for them and wish I could be one of them, just as I am always glad when a poor person becomes better off as well. We should leave our system as it is and not expect any form of government to be able to force “fairness” in our society by confiscating money from those who have done well.

Posted by zotdoc | Report as abusive
 

Mrs. Olen, with such great vocabulary, education, intelligence and good looks you are in danger of catching affluenza !

Posted by whitner | Report as abusive
 

Mrs. Olen,

Please give due consideration when writing commentary to giving the brain final say over the heart. Life isn’t fair…suck it up.

Utopia will not be ours within the lifetime of those participating on Reuters at this time. That doesn’t mean we can’t do better; just that we had best not throw the baby out with the bath water.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

As a country advances, at a certain point, it reaches a tipping point in it’s wealth where it becomes more convenient to extract the existing wealth from society rather than create new wealth. We are well past that point.

Posted by MrElectricus | Report as abusive
 

zotdoc: Few Americans who express a desire for an economy that is MORE equitable than what we currently have are actually “against” the rich or “against” capitalism. When an American, such as myself, advocates fairness in an economic system, it’s unlikely that they are promoting communism or pure socialism, as you’re suggesting. Your position implies that you don’t believe capitalism can be fair. My position, and that of most progressives, is that capitalism can be made to be reasonably “fair”–admittedly a relative term–and still exist as a system that rewards the smarter, harder working people.

You are expressing the idea of a more equitable system in misleadingly pejorative terms. The goal should never be to make rich people poorer, though I do think increasing the wealth of the poor is a worthy goal. I think you’re making the mistake that I see many US conservatives make in their thinking, that capitalism is some sort of organic system that has nothing to do with governments. Capitalism is a manmade system just like communism. It requires structure, and that structure is susceptible to manipulation and abuse, which our current system clearly demonstrates. It’s my position that we should strive to regulate our economic system in the way that benefits the greatest number of people. Doesn’t that seem logical to you, as opposed to having a system that leaves a lot of people suffering and a few obscenely rich? That’s different than saying I want a system that gives everyone the same amount of money. I’m opposed to that. I don’t believe such a system would be in the best interests of the most people.

This country has done a better job of regulating the economy before, but we’ve allowed very wealthy, influencial people to adjust the rules in a way that benefits them at the expense of the majority. For example, you may have heard Warren Buffet express his disapproval over having a tax code that allows a very wealthy person like him pay a smaller percentage in taxes than his secretary. I agree with Mr. Buffet. That’s wrong.

Our country was run much better in the past and during that time the wealthy were required to pay a considerably higher tax rate. It worked well for this country. There were still plenty of rich people, but we also had a booming Middle Class. It was great, much better than what we have today. Healthcare was affordable, as was a college education. We did a better job of educating our children. We did a better job of keeping our infrastructure modernized and in good repair. We actually had a government that didn’t allow monopolies, labor unions were embraced by most of the people because they helped most of the people. We had a space program that was the envy of the world. We led the world in most areas of research, in part because the government spent more money on research. There were tighter regulations placed on the banks after the Great Depression to keep that from happening again. Those regulations had been eroded over time because those regulations were in place to protect the people and intefered with a bank’s ability to maximize its profits. This is why industry is always opposed to regulations. Regulations are mostly in place to protect the interests of the people, and sometimes interfer with an industry’s ability to maximize their profits. We need to get away from this insane notion that maximization of profits is the most important thing, period. It’s not. The welfare of the people should always come first.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

OneOfTheSheep: I find your post to have contradictory positions. Life isn’t fair. Utopia is out of reach. Yet, you also say, “That doesn’t mean we can’t do better.” Ms Olen is merely engaging in the time honored tradition of poking fun at the elitist and hypocritical sentiments of the rich. I don’t see this piece as demanding utopia for all or that society must be made fair and equal. I don’t see that at all. Seems to me she’s saying that the attitude adopted by some of our wealthy Americans, as expressed in some of these “How to think like a rich person” books and the existance of affluenza, is hypocritical and contradictory. They seem to be saying, in order to get rich, you need to think like me, but if you get into trouble, you have an excuse: you allowed yourself to think like me. And apparently that is now considered some sort of malady, one which can lead to criminal behavior, and if it does, it’s best treated by spending time at some therapy ranch rather than doing jail time, like the lowlifes found among the poor and Middle Class.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

I think what the author is trying to say is that in this day and age, it’s now much harder now for a person raised in extreme poverty (about 50% of Americans) to ever attain great financial wealth in their lifetime, no matter how smart or how much “innate talent” they were born with.

Because at some point the “dirt-poor, smart, talented person” has to be “lucky enough” to even get “discovered” by someone of means who has the power and/or money to “grant” them the opportunity to exercise their smarts/talent, which then launches them and places them on “the path” of attaining great financial wealth.

So what all this means is that it still pretty much boils down to all those age old cliches like…”it’s not what you know, but who you know”…and…”it takes money to make money”…which again means, the average and/or non-talented and/or even brain-dead child raised in a wealthy family of means will always have the advantage over a smart and talented, dirt-poor hillbilly.

Posted by CF137 | Report as abusive
 

@CF137 |,

“Extreme poverty” as exists today throughout the world, where drinkable water is scarce or unavailable, there is no effective disposal of human waste, etc. is extremely rare in these United States, where the poor DRIVE! To seriously assert that 50% of Americans are “…raised in extreme poverty…” goes well beyond ignorance.

So who pays you to post such silliness?

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

@flashrooster,

I said: “Utopia will not be ours within the lifetime of those participating on Reuters at this time. That doesn’t mean we can’t do better.”

For those with short attention spans, that means “Not now, maybe later; but we need not accept the status quo (which clearly doesn’t work very well). It is a dose of reality with encouragement.

Too many people raised to expect a trophy for just showing up believe they are being cheated because today’s America is not Utopia. They are the problem, not the solution.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

OOTS: “Not now, maybe later”

Why not now? Does it not make sense to you that the sooner we start addressing some of these problems, like the gross wealth disparity in this country, the sooner we achieve a solution? As long as we delay grappling with a problem a remedy is impossible to obtain.

I think you have a distorted impression about the poor in America. One shouldn’t base their opinions about a problem that is widespread and involves many people on just their own personal impressions. You’re bound to be misled. For example, you describe the poor as owning cars. First of all, millions of poor people can’t afford cars. They can’t afford the initial car, they can’t afford he upkeep, they can’t afford the insurarance, and they can’t afford the gas. It’s amazing to me that you aren’t aware of that, which is what tells me that you have a distorted impression about poor in America.

And then there’s the millions of poor who have managed to get a car by one means or another and have a very hard time paying for all the necessary expenses that come with owning a car. In most places here in the US you need a car for employment. But just because these people managed to get their hands on a car doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling. So extreme poverty has a different face here in the US than, say, the Sudan. So what? It doesn’t mean there aren’t millions of people struggling here in the US. I really think you have the wrong impression of the poor here in this country.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

@sheep

there is no lack of water on water world

Posted by satori23 | Report as abusive
 

@flashrooster,

“Why not now”? Because America’s financial resources are finite, while those would throw untold printed Monopoly-money dollars at them are not. My “impression” of the poor here in this country is not what needs to be addressed, right or wrong.

The problem of immediate concern should be envisioning a future already here where society needs fewer and fewer people to do what MUST be done. Computers and software daily make each working human more efficient.

So even if U.S. population growth STOPPED, there are simply NOT going to be jobs for the children of those productively employed today. Economists have NO EXPERIENCE how to make economies stagnant in size prosperous (or even self-sustaining). Before us lies paths yet untraveled as to a sustainable U.S. economy of the future.

In a world of SEVEN BILLION humans, this challenge is going to cause social unrest to the point of warfare in many parts of the globe. If you think this is the time for the U.S. to instead give top priority to eliminating a “wealth disparity” common throughout recorded history in the next few years I’m very glad you aren’t in a position of responsibility.

The period since WW II has seen an increase in the average standard of living across the globe previously unmatched, and yet YOU’RE unhappy with mankind’s progress? Forgive me if I remain utterly unconcerned with unreasonable and unrealistic opinions and priorities.

The fact remains that those lucky enough to have been born in America have many advantages over those born most other places. In Africa and elsewhere many die because the rate of reproduction there far exceeds the carrying capability of their environment. In Syria there are no school lunch programs, etc…tn some areas no more schools and not even a safe place to sleep.

There is extreme poverty in the Sudan, etc. There isn’t, generally, in the U.S. (unless momma and poppa are spending safety net money on their own drugs). Even “on the bottom” here in America people continue to “vote with their feet” to come here from Mexico, Central and South America.

It’s always best to plug the holes on the economic boat before trying to pump the bilge dry and move forward. First things first, NOT everything at once now.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

OOTS: No offense, but that’s a really poor excuse. Things aren’t just right for solving problems, therefore, we shouldn’t try. You can make that excuse about anything at any time. With that attitude no problems would ever get solved, and is probably why many problems DON’T get solved.

The truth is that there’s NO reason why we can’t deal with the problem of wealth disparity today. It just takes a willingness to do it. Right now there’s a willingness (a majority of Americans support increasing taxes on the rich) but those who are accumulating all the money are also those who have taken over our government, therefore, nothing on this front gets done. Yes, financial resources are finite, that’s always the case. But that doesn’t mean we can’t pay working people enough money to maintain a reasonable standard of living. It would also improve the economy as a whole. The rich stash a lot of their money away. The poor and Middle Class spend all or most of what they make. Just look how our economy was structured during the 1940s – 1960s. Technology has always been improving. To use that as an excuse not to do anything about wealth disparity doesn’t hold up. It’s just one of those excuses people use to avoid doing the work.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

@flashrooster,

I never said we shouldn’t try to continue to improve the society we have today. I could not have been more clear when I stated: “Not now, maybe later; but we need not accept the status quo (which clearly doesn’t work very well)”.

It is you that tries to put the question in a “black or white, all or nothing” context. Accordingly, it is your thinking that is questionable and not mine.

I believe we agree that America is rich well beyond it’s needs; and only disagree as to how such surplus is best employed to bring about an even better future. Quite frankly I view those who can not or will not prioritize needs and the allocation of finite assets as “the enemy” of genuine progress.

The Unites States has, over many, many years, shown infinitely more compassion for the general well being world community than have preceding dominant civilizations. Contrary to the expectations of some, we don’t HAVE to be perfect. It is sufficient that we be “better” than past or current genuine alternatives.

Our Marshall plan and occupation of Japan forever show that America believes a prosperous WORLD economy is, in the long run, best for America. It has put substantial money and effort behind it’s rhetoric; and yet instead of appreciation we are envied and even hated for success even when freely shared. By and large, the collective attitude is one not of thanks but of “what have you done for us lately”?

From this the single possible conclusion is that envy and greed in the human animal always spring forth so as to overwhelm and subjugate proper appreciation for such improvement in the “human condition” as IS achieved? Is it not obvious that if humans, as a species, were more genuinely and lastingly grateful there would be more happiness and contentment possible during our brief period of individual sentience right here on Earth?

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

OOTS: The Marshall Plan! That was over 60 years ago. How is that supposed to help the needy here in this country now? The Marshall Plan was a good thing. That should teach us something. But the Marshall Plan belongs to history. It worked well for Europe. Now we need a Marshall Plan for the US.

You make this more complicated than is necessary. I know what you wrote. True, you stated that you support the idea of improving society. You just don’t believe we should do it now. But if not now, when? There will never be an ideal time to address the problem of wealth disparity. No time like the present. Ideals just don’t exist in human society. We shouldn’t let that keep us from addressing problems that we’re facing. That’s an old trick the Republican Party often uses to avoid the difficult task of addressing our nation’s problems. They always put it off. Healthcare is a perfect example.

We’ve needed healthcare reform for decades now. Had we dealt with it earlier the solutions wouldn’t be as difficult as they are now. Republicans do nothing. Now is not the time, is a typical refrain. Another approach they rely on is to stop any other attempt without offering a solution of their own. This is why I take issue with your excuse to avoid addressing this very serious problem of wealth disparity in the US NOW. It will only be worse in 10 years. People are suffering needlessly, whether you want to recognize that or not. Millions of working Americans fall short of the basic necessities for living in the US. You seem to be suggesting that they move to Africa or some poorer country before we do anything to help them. That’s cynically illogical.

We need to pay working people a living wage and make sure they have access to affordable healthcare. Those 2 steps alone can make a big difference to millions of Americans. There’s absolutely no good reason we can’t do that. We also have to do a better job of educating our young people and training people to fill the jobs that are here. That’s something else we can do. We also have to find a way to make higher education more affordable.

These kinds of things are actually good for the economy. The plutocrat class is starving our economy by sitting on the vast mountains of wealth they’re acquiring. Corporate profits are up. Individual income for the wealthiest is up. They’re stockpiling their accumulated wealth in all sorts of creative ways, while doing little to help average Americans. In fact, they’ve been hurting the average American, taking over our government and forcing government to serve only them. Costs of everything continues going up, but wages have actually begun to decline. That must be addressed.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

@flashrooster,

I really should thank you for coming back again and again with your pie in the sky expectations. Are you over forty?

“Now we need a Marshall Plan for the U.S.”. No, we don’t. You think “the needy” should have more right now? Then put YOUR money where your mouth is and leave mine and other American’s alone. It is clear you know NOTHING of history, thus your perspective is severely limited.

In the late thirties Franklin D. Roosevelt gave birth to the welfare state, most conspicuously with the “Social Security” program. Participation was NOT voluntary, so society was thus “improved”. Now I ask you, why didn’t he simultaneously mandate universal health care, a minimum wage indexed to the consumer price index, food stamps, gasohol, employer pensions, food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid and rapid transit at the same time?

At the time medicine was stone simple. Half of what doctors were taught was flat out wrong. Dentistry was largely a matter of pulling rotten teeth, and everyone’s teeth became rotten bu their forties because tooth brushing was a new-fangled idea and floss wasn’t yet invented. Sulfa was a “miracle drug” and the military pain killer of choice was addictive morphine.

People have “suffered needlessly” throughour history…the wisest Egyptian and Roman doctors knew many surgical techniques that could have saved countless lives, but the services of the handful that existed were reserved for the power elite. I’ll let you find a Tardis and travel back in time to tell those then in power they should dismiss their armies and administrators and use the money saved to educate more capable doctors to keep “the peolple” from suffering “needlessly”. Please.

You don’t have the foggiest idea what it was like for the average person who survived childbirth and rampant disease to maturity and death on average around age forty…the last ten years of which were in constant pain from progressively rotting teeth. Please explain IN DETAIL how the “disparity in income” WORLD WIDE was any worse than today, or that life then just wasn’t worth living.

Your thinking seems based on the presumption that Americans somehow “deserve” the “basic necessities for living in the US”…above those born elsewhere. Why? Sorry. Not buying that. Until WW II a majority of Americans lived a rugged, unforgiving life of subsistance farming without running water, electricity, and a hole in the ground for sanitation. They rose with the chickens, worked all day eating a humble diet, and fell in bed not long after sunset. Only in the most recent half-century were schools available to most children, and a majority of adults were illiterate.

America has been setting up a system to educate our young people and training people for jobs for well over a hundred years. What is new? Having those same “young people” disrupt the learning process, threaten teachers, and in general put fewer and fewer hours and effort in the LEARNING necessary to being productively employed later in life. There’s also no point in turning ouot more and more dummies with “higher education” when we already have people with BA, Masters and Phds flipping burgers because no company “in their field” needs them.

You’d best be thinking about how the rest of YOUR life is going to play out instead of having a hissy fit about the “wealth disparity” that will never disappear so long as there is an “intelligence disparity”, a “production disparity”, a “beauty disparity”, a “health disparity”, a “geographic disparity”, need I go on? Please. Read this:

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

@flashrooster,

I really should thank you for coming back again and again with your pie in the sky expectations. Are you over forty?

“Now we need a Marshall Plan for the U.S.”. No, we don’t. You think “the needy” should have more right now? Then put YOUR money where your mouth is and leave mine and other American’s alone. It is clear you know NOTHING of history. That simple fact assures that your perspective lacks essential understanding of what is financially feasible at a given time for a given society and what is not.

In the late thirties Franklin D. Roosevelt gave birth to the welfare state, most conspicuously with the “Social Security” program. Participation was NOT voluntary, so society was thus “improved”.

Since you and he seem of like mind, please explain one simple thing to me. Why didn’t he simultaneously mandate universal health care, a minimum wage indexed to the consumer price index, food stamps, gasohol, employer pensions, food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid and rapid transit at the same time? Was the “need” any less?

At the time medicine was stone simple and cheap. Half of what doctors were taught was flat out wrong. Dentistry was largely a matter of pulling rotten teeth, and everyone’s teeth became rotten by their forties because tooth brushing was a new-fangled idea and floss wasn’t yet invented. Sulfa was a “miracle drug” and the military pain killer of choice was addictive morphine.

People have “suffered needlessly” throughout history. The wisest Egyptian and Roman doctors knew many surgical techniques that could have saved countless lives, but the services of the handful that existed were reserved for the power elite.

I’ll let you find a Tardis and travel back in time to tell those then in power they should dismiss their armies and administrators and use the money saved to educate more capable doctors to keep “the people” from suffering “needlessly”. Please.

You don’t have the foggiest idea what it was like for the average person who survived childbirth and rampant disease to mature, reproduce and die on average around age forty. The last ten years of which were in constant pain from progressively rotting teeth.

Please explain IN DETAIL how the “disparity in income” WORLD WIDE was any worse than today, or that life then just wasn’t worth living. Your thinking seems based on the presumption that Americans somehow “deserve” the “basic necessities for living in the US”…above those born elsewhere. A majority of some SEVEN BILLION people might take issue with that.

But let’s look at America a bit closer. Until WW II a majority here lived a rugged, unforgiving life of subsistence farming without running water, electricity, and a hole in the ground for sanitation. They rose with the chickens, worked all day eating a humble diet, did the “hunter-gatherer” bit for some of their food, and fell in bed exhausted not long after sunset. Few were “prosperous”.

America has been setting up a system to educate our young people and training people for jobs for well over a hundred years. What is new? Having those same “young people” disrupt the learning process, threaten teachers, and in general put fewer and fewer hours and effort in the LEARNING necessary to being productively employed later in life.

There’s also no point in turning out more and more dummies with “higher education” when we already have people with BAs, MAs and Phds flipping burgers because no company “in their field” needs them. You’d best be thinking about how the rest of YOUR life is going to play out instead of having a hissy fit about the “wealth disparity” that will never disappear so long as there is an “intelligence disparity”, a “production disparity”, a “beauty disparity”, a “health disparity”, a “geographic disparity”, need I go on? Please.

Read this:

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20131229  /DAAVRCNG0.html

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

OOTS: Interesting. You seem to be critical of FDR, yet he laid the groundwork for what were arguably the best years in this country’s history. Certainly the greatest Middle Class in the history of the world was the result of FDR’s policies. Our Republic is a democracy and the American people saw fit to elect FDR President 4 times!!! Americans approved of how Roosevelt ran this country. The country was better for his time in office and the world was better for his time in office. You certainly have the right not to like FDR, but I’m clearly on the side of history and the American people on this one. And as for your question about why FDR didn’t mandate that laundry list of programs you posted, you answer that yourself with the question, was the need any less? Yes, once we came out of the Great Depression the need at the time was less. FDR focused on what was needed at the time, as it should be. And need I remind you that the Republican policies that you seem to be defending were the type of policies that were in place when the Great Depression took place?

Many of the problems later addressed by the federal government were remedied by having a strong Middle Class and widespread influence from organized labor. But, for example, the costs of healthcare rose faster than wages were rising and the elderly in particular were having trouble paying for healthcare because, naturally, the elderly have more health problems. So Medicare was formed. There was a need and the need was met. That’s how it should be.

You mention programs like Social Security and Medicare without even crediting them for all the they’ve done, and they’ve done a lot of good. When a human being can be helped, and IS helped, I see that as a victory, not a problem. Much of your post doesn’t make sense to me: “You don’t have the foggiest idea what it was like for the average person who survived childbirth and rampant disease to mature, reproduce and die on average around age forty. The last ten years of which were in constant pain from progressively rotting teeth.” What is your point? Are you saying times used to be harder so let’s not worry about people who are suffering today? I think you’d feel differently about that if it was YOU who were suffering. I don’t believe in selfishness and greed as a way of life.

I just recently heard that since 2010 the stock market has risen 77% and profits for businesses are up 50%, but median incomes are down 5%. You make the mistake that most conservatives conveniently make. You think that capitalism is some sort of organic system that evolves on its own. It’s a manmade system, man makes the rules,and those rules can be tweaked to benefit the few, as they are now, or they can be tweaked to benefit the majority, which is what we should strive for.

It’s no different from the old feudal systems in that respect. Someone like you would have argued that the feudal system shouldn’t be tampered with because that’s just the way things are. The serfs work for their feudal lord and the feudal lord allows them to keep enough to subsist on and offers them protection. What was there to change? That’s how the system worked and it worked fine, especially for the feudal lords. Why change it? That’s just the way things were. It was changed because we sought improvements. We believed there was a better way and we strove to obtain that better way.

We can, and should, continue to strive for a better way. There is plenty we could do today to make things better for more Americans. So why not do it? We don’t have to make the wealth disparity disappear to improve things for all people. FDR proved that. But there needs to be an intelligent, rational balance, and in recent decades wealth distribution in America has become grossly unbalanced, and it’s no coincidence that this has happened concurrently with the selling out of our government to wealthy industry lobbyists.

The lobbyists literally are writing our laws and they formulate those laws in a way that best maximizes industry profits, often at the expense of the American people. If we were to take back our government and institute publicly financed elections, then these lobbyists would lose their sway over our government and our government could go back to serving all the people, and not just those who can give them significant contributions.

The bottom line is this. If I see someone I can help, I believe in trying to help them. I believe that our government is no longer serving all the people and are really just serving those who can help their political careers, mostly through campaign donations. We can change that and make this a better country. There’s a lot of misery going on unnecessarily. I know we can’t fix everything, but we should try to solve our problems and make this a better place to live. For example, there’s no reason we can’t have a healthcare system that is affordable for all people. We don’t because the few who are calling the shots, who are determining our healthcare system’s structure are the ones deriving profit from it. That is their primary, if not their sole, motivation. With healthcare, the primary goal should be to offer affordable healthcare for all. So between these two competing visions, which vision best serves the most people? That’s where I’m coming from.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

@flashrooster,

You still don’t share with us your age, which leave us free to assume you’re still in college building up debt and your idealism has yet to be tempered by the fires of reality and experience. Fine. You’re still entitled to your opinions without regard to how logical or fiscally practical or sustainable they are.

Yes, I’m critical of FDR because his policies became the foundation of the alphabet soup administrative bureaucracies which have essentially sidelined the Republic our founding fathers forged in the fires of freedom and bequeathed to every American citizen, rich and poor alike. These unelected and essentially unaccountable agencies have become a law unto themselves.

As but one example, anything enacted by the IRS is presumed to be the law until proved otherwise, standing a fundamental precept of law on it’s head. “Our FAA has the exact same mind set.

A parallel disaster for these United States is that “our” Supreme court has PROGRESSIVELY (double meaning, NOT a compliment) rendered every person in a judicial or quasi-judicial capacity in these United States utterly unaccountable to those they purportedly serve, and rendered their mandatory oaths of office without teeth or meaning. This has changed a system originally “of the people, by the people, for the people” to one “of the lawyers/judges, by the lawyers/judges for the lawyers/judges without meaningful debate or vote.

Your “…greatest Middle Class in the history of the world…” was NOT the result of FDR’s policies. An abysmal world economy and related economic pressures brought to power nationalists who sought prosperity through world conquest.

As 1940 ended America had allowed itself to become an isolationist-pacifist nation. Only our geographic protection of oceans bought us enough time to recognize a fast-emerging threat to all freedom and spool up our people and production such that eventually the Allies won. We nearly did the same thing from 1945-1950.

You could not be more wrong in crediting FDR and his policies with creation of the “…greatest Middle Class in the history of the world…”. He transformed our Republic into a democracy in which increasingly the monkeys are taking over the circus.

It was WAR, wartime production and associated wages, postwar foreign reconstruction, and cold war military spending that artificially inflated our economy over that period to a level of economic prosperity unprecedented.

In wartime American citizens understood that you don’t change horses in mid-stream in wartime so long as you are not losing. As it turned out, the war was NOT successfully concluded by FDR, but by Harry Truman; a haberdasher by trade who still had to make some serious decisions for which he deserves great credit.

It was a “windfall of history” that Americans accrued all of the benefits of participation in a “great war” decided in a relatively brief period in which essentially NONE of the fighting/destruction took place in the continental U.S. That will not repeat, although in recent years some believe that conservatives have attempted to re-create a similar military-industrial economic synergy over a much longer period with conspicuous lack of success.

The “need” was NO less coming out of the Depression…it’s just, as you understand, that there were other fish to fry. The American underclass of that time had it MUCH WORSE, and it was a much larger percentage of the population than it would be in 1950 and onward for a half-century plus.

War bucks was a “rising tide” that lifted many “boats” for a while, but hindsight is always 20-20. After the war, many “on the bottom” were right back “on the bottom” without any more hope for the future. Our many capable women were forced back into “home and hearth” as their men returned from war service. No one “created jobs” for them.

Organized labor has been soundly rejected by an ever-increasing number of “right-to-work” movements even as it enshrines “seniority”, favoritism and limiting membership over individual productivity, skill and unrestricted access to skilled trades. It’s effects have increasingly made American products LESS competitive and LESS desirable to unaligned purchasers in a global economy.

The same was true in “I’m all right, Jack” Britain. Lack of innovation, union labor and currency imbalances served up a U.S. foreign car market OWNED by the British (into the mid-sixties) to rising Japanese manufacturers at a time American designs had solidified into inefficient and unsafe mobile dinosaurs.

“The costs of healthcare (sic) rose faster than wages were rising…”? Please. The field of health care has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of applicable new knowledge and technology. “Have-nots” have been presumed as entitled to such advances as those who can actually afford them. When was that debate held?

The unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats running Medicaid and Medicare just made that decision and left it to Congress to sort how Americans will pay for it all. OF COURSE THERE’S A PAYMENT PROBLEM!

Many of us challenge the very legitimacy of such process. After all, cost is why Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aids and dental expenses. YOU, I’m sure, want ALL Americans to pay for Medicaid to offer a liver transplant to every unproductive homeless drunk that has ruined the one they were born with by countless idiotic life style decisions.

Countries those like YOU deem “advanced”, with single-payer systems, delay bankruptcy by not purchasing or offering the “latest and greatest” skills and technology and delaying second-class treatment and drugs to the extent that some die waiting. If anyone not a U.S. citizen wants the latest cutting edge medical treatment, they typically fly to the U.S. with necessary funds and get what they need paying full price.

Yes, I’m saying that life has ALWAYS been “hard”, unfair, and suffering part of it. Suck it up. The fact that there is LESS suffering among far fewer today shows that progress has been made and will continue to be made over time. YOU just don’t think it’s fast enough. Fine.

YOU pay for the speed-up (if you can). If you want MY money appropriated to YOUR issues, POUND SAND!

Quite frankly I don’t believe a “healthcare (sic) system…affordable to all people…” is possible, either today OR in the future. Why? Because what is possible (and the cost), if plotted on graph paper, is a line rapidly approaching infinity!

I do, however, somewhat agree with you that capitalism is a concept that needs a harness to direct it’s bounty intelligently. You and I will never agree as to the details of that, because you want to deliver predictability and compassion from a system utterly dependent on personal effort, innovation, skill and differiential rewards.

I happen to believe that the goal should NOT be to “benefit the majority”, but to “GROW THE ECONOMIC PIE”. I would leave it to the harness we fashion to assure those most responsible for such growth receive benefits in reasonable proportion, with some encouragement and opportunity for others to participate as best possible. Once the automobile replaces the horse-drawn buggy, we want people to quit making buggy whips .

I agree fully with you as to the parasitic nature of lobbyists. We need to turn that part of capitalism’s harness into a noose. I’d even extend that “solution” to BOTH major parties and their current leadership.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

OOTS: I knew you’d slip into denial mode when it came to FDR, truly one of America’s greatest, most effective Presidents, and start your negative spin. That’s why I took pains to point out that he was elected by the American people 4 times to lead this country, and this by what was arguably America’s greatest generation. Point being, you’re wrong, according to America. Regardless of your opinion, America disagreed, and it was a generation of intelligent, well-informed, patriotic Americans who elected FDR to an unprecedented 4 terms. As I already pointed out, we both have our opinions on how we think America should be run, but I’m on the side of history and the American people.

Let’s look at it another way that takes the subjectivity out of the equasion. Think of how America was conducting itself during Roosevelt’s Presidency and compare that to the much more “conservative” direction we’ve taken since Reagan installed our trickle down tax system. Today we have much lower taxes, far fewer regulations, a far lower participation in labor unions, and more influence by our industries on how our country is run. You argue in favor of the system more as it is. I argue in favor of how things were run under Roosevelt. I’ll leave it there as to whose vision of America was the more successful.

And I’m 56 years old, have a good education, and keep myself well informed. And, yes, I have a good understanding of history, and I care about people. I care about the people in my life, I care about the people in this country, and I care about the people in this world. I’m a believer in a rising tide floating all boats. I believe very strongly that the only way the human race survives is if caring for one another becomes the dominating mindset as opposed to only caring about yourself, as you suggest: “You’d best be thinking about how the rest of YOUR life is going to play out” The longer the self-serving, winner-take-all mentality continues to dominate in this country the faster our country will sink into irrelevance. I guess I just have greater faith in my country and its people than you do.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

@flashrooster,

Hey, we get it. You LOVE FDR and all that he stands for. Number of times being reelected means I’m wrong? That’s like saying number of times Rick Perry in Texas being reelected makes all Democrats wrong. Apples and oranges, my myopic friend. Straw man non-argument.

I see myself as being on the side of “what works”. I see you as being on the side of “what YOU think SHOULD work”. Each of us could cherry-pick events that we might claim to put us “on the side of history”. My worst nightmare is a zealot like YOU at America’s steering wheel. I have not the slightest doubt that Hitler believed what he did was “best” for Germany.

As for being on the side of “the American people”, is that the side that promises the most at some undefined time in the future for today’s votes, or the side that will predictably try whatever is necessary to see that the American economy and it’s dollar do not go the way of the Weimar Republic between 1929 and 1933? I believe my odds of being right considerably better than yours.

Let’s look closely at the contradictions inherent in so much of what you say and believe. “Today we have much lower taxes, far fewer regulations, a far lower participation in labor unions, and more influence by our industries on how our country is run. You argue in favor of the system more as it is. I argue in favor of how things were run under Roosevelt. I’ll leave it there as to whose vision of America was the more successful.”

Fair enough. Today with our “…lower taxes…far lower participation in labor unions,…more influence by our industries on how our country is run…” but far MORE unnecessary regulation, it takes fewer and fewer people to do that which MUST be done in both industry AND government (although government employment continues to grow). When production continues to rise and expenses of production continue to fall the rational among us would credit efficiency, effectiveness, or both; since, economically, both effects are desirable (good things).

Accordingly, when you assert that Americans were better off from 1933-1945 under Roosevelt’s “vision” than today under the collective “vision” of American leaders since you appear conspicuously delusional and utterly divorced from reality. Clearly the actual quality of life of the “average American” is incomparably better.

A “good education” means a person is sufficiently literate and intelligent to differentiate between dreams and plans, illusions and viable projects, financial realities and politician’s promises. In such context you seem ignorant even as to how naive your observations and expectations are.

It’s clear you lack the ability to separate intellectual wheat from chaff, perhaps the single difference between a true leader of men and a demagog standing on a podium. Your faith, belief and caring mean nothing if you would lead this country “off the track” of destiny into a bog.

There will always be those like me to spotlight the errors and omissions in that which you would advocate. No country in the history of the world could afford the unlimited benefits YOU would impose on working Americans with the full support of this country’s non-working “welfare class”.

Once those who only CONSUME outnumber those who PRODUCE, capitalism, the “goose that lays the golden egg” is dead. No one will plant, grow, harvest, store, transport, prepare or serve America’s “free lunch”.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

OOTS: Apparently, you don’t know what a strawman argument is. Does the fact that FDR was elected 4 times mean you’re wrong? Yes, in this respect. In a democracy where the majority rules a clear majority of Americans from 1933 to 1945 believed in having FDR lead this country and believed in his policies. But it’s more than just belief. FDR was in office long enough for Americans to get a clear sense of what his vision for America means, how it works, and they supported that vision. I’m sure you have an excuse for that, too, but there’s no BSing your way around this. Americans liked FDR and his policies, and the United States thrived under him. America represented itself proudly during FDR’s tenure. You are free to disagree with the American people on this point, but you aren’t free to fabricate your own “facts.” There are few Presidents who have had so significant an impact on American life as FDR and America was good for it.

It also holds true that we have gotten away from FDR’s vision of America and have moved more toward a country that you seem more in favor of (for reasons I’ve already mentioned.) So feel free to argue that times are better now overall than they were during the 40s – the 60s.

I draw from your posts an impression I get from a lot of conservatives and that is a growing distrust of democracy. Like Romney, you are quick to disparage your fellow Americans almost to the point of wanting to see them suffer, as if it “serves them right.” I, on the other hand, believe in democracy and believe that the people need to be trusted to govern themselves (through a democratically elected representative government.) You make this assumption that there’s all these Americans who just want to sit on their butts and collect checks. Who are these people? There’s no doubt in my mind that most Americans want to work, but they also need to make enough money for their basic necessities. Is that really so unreasonable? I don’t think so.

Conservatives have become very unpatriotic. I say that because it’s the people who define a country and conservatives have such disdain for roughly half the country, and I dare say that the half they DO align themselves with is made up of mostly white Americans of European descent. So there’s this sense that it was okay to have higher taxes back in the day because most of what the government was doing with that money benefited white America. But now that we’ve had the era of civil rights and much of the country is made up of other races, suddenly there’s this determined resistance to allowing the government to raise taxes knowing that a significant percentage of that tax revenue will go to benefit people of color, rather than simply seeing it as benefiting “the country.”

This would also explain why conservatives are perfectly fine with allowing corporations, mostly owned by whites, to pay little or nothing in taxes. Too many conservatives have divided this country and don’t even think of the “other half” as being true Americans. It also explains this bazaar obsession the right has with defining Obama as anything but a good, decent, typical American. He’s not one of us. He faked his birth certificate. He was born in Kenya. He’s a socialist. He’s a Muslim. It’s obscenely stupid and hateful thinking.

I’m not saying you fall into this conservative mindset. I don’t know. But it definitely exists and is having a very strong, very detrimental effect on this nation. That has to be overcome if we are ever to thrive again as a nation.

Let me end with the point I usually end on, and that is that we need to return our government back to the people. Most Americans have no one representing them in our government. For most issues the people aren’t even considered. We don’t have a voice. Legislation is merely a process meant to aid in the fine-tuning of some industry’s profits. The people are being used like cattle. We do the work to help someone else get rich and we buy the goods and services to help someone else get rich. Profits are up. Stocks are up. But wages are down and, thanks to the conservatives, government is doing less and less to help the people and can never do enough to help a relative handful of people to increase their wealth. And we don’t have a voice. This must end, and it’s unlikely to end merely by electing a new set of politicians. It’s history repeating itself and it usually ends in mass disruption.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

@flashrooster,

Yes, I know precisely what a strawman argument is. It’s you trying to a argue that the exercise of voting rights in favor of a particular candidate means my disagreement as to the legality, propriety or wisdom of that candidate’s “vision” is somehow “wrong. Just plain silly.

The burden of proof remains on you to substantiate that a majority of votes for FDR during a long war is ratification of his “vision for the country” as opposed to validation that his leadership in wartime was proven effective whereas that of his opponents was not. Yes, many DID like FDR although most of those had no idea where his precedents and policies would take this country. Some would have been horrified.

The United States did NOT “thrive under him”…it thrived from the economic engine of wartime full employment. I agree that “America represented itself proudly during FDR’s tenure” but, given those circumstances, why wouldn’t it?

I certainly agree he had huge impact on American life, mostly AFTER his death. Whether his long term effect on our country was for better or worse remains a matter of legitimate debate.

I distrust a “pure democracy” only because I have seen in California how the most direct democratic process, Petition and Referendum, can be twisted and subverted by whichever side of an issue has the most money. Why, for instance, should a “significant percentage of increased tax revenue” specifically benefit “people of color” as opposed to benefiting ALL Americans equitably?

It doesn’t MATTER how much corporations are taxed because they don’t actually pay corporate taxes. That’s because corporate taxes and ALL other costs of doing business are fully deductible from GROSS PROFIT and so it is the customers of corporations (you and me and the government, ad infinitum) that pay those taxes in the price of a corporation’s goods and/or services. I have not said a word, good or bad about Obama.

I don’t think the future of America is well served by either the Democratic or the Republican “platform”. I happen to agree 100% when you say: “Most Americans have no one representing them in our government. For most issues the people aren’t even considered. We don’t have a voice.” You seem unduly concerned with the legislative process and individuals whom capitalism rewards with increased wealth.

You seem to forget that someone has to step forth with financial assets to buy land and build or lease facilities, buy or lease machinery, invent or purchase the manufacturing or reproduction rights of a product or other intellectual property and bring all these things together into a profitable concern of small size before “jobs” in quantity for “the people” even exist. All of these prior expenses, many ongoing, have to be retired over time from business cash flow.

Most Americans remain unaware that Walmart, with it’s excellent management turning over incredible cash flow, actually operates on about a 3% margin (as do most fast food chains). The typical high school graduate of today genuinely believes to “profit” in business to be undesirable (as opposed to being absolutely essential).

They also seem to believe that the average business profit is between 50% and 100%. That may be the markup on jewelry and other high end items, but the stores where such merchandise is sold must be built, leased, and manned before anything is sold.

“We, the people” of these United States look the other way while our “educational establishment” denies our children a proper perspective of their society. They have no idea how it works, how well it works, nor do they understand the “care and feeding” necessary to it’s long term success.

Perhaps the highest, best use of your perspectives and opinions is to serve as a bad example to others. Your veiled threats of “history repeating itself” and “mass disruption” are the words of one too old and too unwilling to raise a revolutionary flag and charge the status quo. Instead you would incite the easily inflamed and easily led (like suicide bombers) to do your dirty work.

Look around. Americans, by and large, aren’t in the streets and the legislatures demanding change. They’re out in the malls spending like “cattle”. Oops…cattle don’t HAVE money to spend, do they? So WHO ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE OUT SPENDING LIKE CRAZY? Most arrived there in a private car, and few, if any, are wearing rags. Just another of life’s mysteries, I guess.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

Why don’t you two just exchange email addresses and have a private conversation?

Posted by Missinginaction | Report as abusive
 

The way I see it, we’ll either ”pacify” and fend for the bottom or let the whole structure collapse along with the shaky foundations. Wealth disparity is stealing people’s dreams… we can’t imagine gojirallions for some and nada for the others, not to reiterate that billions are living in more or less camouflaged state(s) of slavery – we can’t go on like that forever.

Throughout the history people perceived plutocracy as untouchable strata, usually until the moment when it becomes easy target. I have little doubt that in the end… if and when common sense, philanthropy, altruism… fail, self-preservation will kick in. Needless to say, I’d prefer democratic processes instead of Elysium or World war Z.

Posted by satori23 | Report as abusive
 

@missinginaction,

I see you didn’t have any problem following a public debate, and had nothing to add to it.

@satori,

Since WW II, America has pretty much BEEN “Elysium” with some of Europe chasing our example with widely varying success. With increasing immigration problems, Europe is more likely to fall back than move forward in terms of wealth disparity.

American politicians are proving traitors to current American citizens in terms of defending our borders and increasingly overburdened social systems. They would open the floodgates to illegal alien fence jumpers and accept up to twenty million uneducated, unproductive leeches who breed at a rate that would make a rabbit blush and have absolutely NO intent to ever become “Americans” in heart or soul.

A democratic process that allows THEM eventual control in America will forever end the America we know and love. That battle is not being fought, but surrendered by those we have mistakenly put in charge of our future well being.

Be careful what you wish for. It’s on the way, sooner than you think! America is being betrayed by BOTH major parties. I see no way to stop the process now unfolding.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

@OneOfTheSheep

…liked when Delacourt said ”enough”.

Traitors you say? EU is maturing steadfastly; it is yet to establish the rule of the people though, since it’s schoolbook technocracy with the top detached from the rest and largely absolved from accountability and responsibility. It doesn’t even pretend to be democracy, as US do. Since we have such similar setup here and abroad, we could race to see whose citizens will reign over their rulers first. Not that it’s fair race, since folks in US have ”second amendment” perk.

I don’t know what’s overburdened, scarcity in social systems and abundance in financial systems are superficially artificial. Nothing wrong with few amendments…

Posted by satori23 | Report as abusive
 

Any person who earned their fortune can readily tell you some things they did differently than their former peers who did no rise economically as far. For starters: Living, breathing, sleeping, obsessing not-stop over their goal.
This article is absurd pablum for cry-babies who want what others have…without the required preparation and sacrifice.
Your articulate, moralizing posts are pathetic and lack intellectual honesty. This is America take advantage of the opportunities…they are everywhere!

Posted by Radlib | Report as abusive
 

Thanks for an interesting article that lightly covers a serious “medical” condition that “infects” this nation — “affluenza”.

You are, of course, “preaching to the choir” since anyone who agrees with you (as I do) will understand, and those who do not will vehemently deny your article has any merit.

I see no difference between “affluenza” and the “influenza” epidemics of the past.

Both are a type of illness that have and will continue to kill millions of people, seemingly without possibility of a cure.

If history is any indicator of probable future events, the wealthy class will live in denial until society crashes down upon them.

It is a sad truth that those who cannot understand the lessons of history are condemned to repeat it.

Posted by EconCassandra | Report as abusive
 

Hey EconC,

Long time no hear!

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

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