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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » "Soak the rich" didn't work for Dems, so the Rep's are trying it. (Page 1)

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Author Topic: "Soak the rich" didn't work for Dems, so the Rep's are trying it.
Darth_Mauve
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I like to browse a lot of different news sources, including obvious political extremes, to get a full view of what's going on.

In November and December, the Democrats fought hard to reinstate higher taxes on the wealthier Americans. The Republicans responded with well played advertisements and media work that promoted this "Soak the Rich" as Un-American, dangerous, and unfair to the hard working wealthy folks of the US.

So now, just a few months later, we get a new Republican backed media campaign that is complaining that public employees have better benefits than private employees. That, they say, is unfair and should be stopped.

And the people so far just don't feel that big of a need to soak the rich public employees. Many say that such measures are Un-American, dangerous, and unfair to the hard working public employees.

Looking at it like that, what would an unemployed man in Wisconsin really be upset about--a Millionaire who doesn't want to pay his taxes, or a school teacher who doesn't want to have their health care taken away?

They identify more with the Public Employee, but have a better chance of becoming that millionaire unless they go to school and master the skills needed to become a Teacher, Surveyor, or Traffic Safety Officer. In either case, I'm proud that Americans aren't as jealous as our politicians think we are, and that we aren't up in arms because someone is making more or doing better than we are.

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Blayne Bradley
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There are the ultra libertarian 'conservatives' who literally believe that "well, we all know government is inefficient, shouldn't the workers SUPPOSED to be underpaid then?"
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Lyrhawn
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I don't see how they have a better chance of becoming a millionaire. Millionaires are the extreme minority of the country. There are hundreds of thousands of teachers, and becoming a teacher has a fairly well-plotted path to achievement. Becoming a millionaire is a lot harder. I think the difference is that we all fantasize about a million dollars being dropped in our laps, and there's the concept that millionaires don't work their money, so from that angle, we think it's a snap, but we're just unlucky.

The wealthy have done a fantastic, FANTASTIC job in the last century and a half of sealing themselves off from the type of populist rhetoric that other countries tend to ignite. I'm doing a research project on a book that Upton Sinclair wrote in the 1930s about Henry Ford, and the thrust of the book is that Ford isn't the man of the people that everyone thinks he is, and he's highly corrupted by money. Other than factory workers though (and even then), his message mostly fell on deaf ears because Ford was the quintessential self-made man. We idolized our tycoons even as they bled us dry. We all wanted to be the hero of a Horatio Alger novel.

The history of the relationship between the haves and have-nots in America is really fascinating, and there are probably a bunch of good social historians out there who have written good books about it.

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Darth_Mauve
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You can always win the lottery, but you won't become a teacher or other professional public servant without the education.
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fugu13
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quote:
Millionaires are the extreme minority of the country.
I don't know about extreme minority. I think it's about one of every 22 people. That's a lot more than most occupations.

quote:
We idolized our tycoons even as they bled us dry.
While there are certainly complications of unfairness and exploitation, I take issue with calling one of the greatest increases in lifespan, health, and standard of living increases the world has ever known, especially considering it wasn't following growth, bleeding anybody dry.
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Destineer
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quote:
While there are certainly complications of unfairness and exploitation, I take issue with calling one of the greatest increases in lifespan, health, and standard of living increases the world has ever known, especially considering it wasn't following growth, bleeding anybody dry.
Fair point.

The Great Divergence of the last 30 years, though... I think it's fair to say some people have been bled dry when we focus on that period.

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fugu13
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I'm less certain the last thirty years are amenable to that story, though it's certainly a matter for debate. I think there's a large population that's been left behind -- though a lot smaller than and different from what many think -- mostly as poor in the inner cities.

I don't think there's as credible a story for that leaving behind being due to increasing capture by the upper class as some do, but I'm not sure what the story is, exactly. Viewed by available consumption, our poor are quite a bit better off than the poor in even other first world countries -- better utilities, more variety of food, et cetera, yet at the same time in many ways our poor are worse off in terms of available potential for quality of life improvement. I think that's more about some larger social changes that aren't caused by the increase in wealth of the wealthiest, though they might have overlapping root causes.

While a lot of the middle class has had comparatively flat total compensation by the most obvious measures, I don't think that's because they've been bled dry by the rich, I think that's because it has come in things total compensation doesn't measure well. I think quality of health care available has gone up considerably; I think the amount of leisure time available has gone up considerably; I think the variety and freshness of food consumed have skyrocketed, and at lower prices; I think many of the things we value most have had extreme drops in price that mean we get to have a lot more of them, even as our income doesn't increase objectively.

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Darth_Mauve
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But Fugu, back to my central thesis, if blaming the rich for all the ills of society is wrong, isn't blaming Public Sector workers equally as wrong? Isn't it just as short sighted to demand the rich redistribute their wealth to the poor as to demand the possibly slightly better off public service worker redistribute their wealth to everyone else?
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fugu13
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Yes, both straw men are ridiculous. But that also means they aren't going to be very useful for analyzing the situation.
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Destineer
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quote:
I think the amount of leisure time available has gone up considerably;
Since 1980? Maybe in Europe. The middle-class professionals I know work much longer hours than their parents did. My impression is that the empirical data bears this out. (My own line of work is an obvious exception.)

I'm not saying the life of the poor and lower middle-class hasn't improved in many ways. Technology does that. But their "slice of the pie" as compared with the wealthy has dropped in size considerably. They're not getting as big of a benefit from the advancements of today as they were 30 years ago, comparatively.

Yes, it's better to be poor in present-day America than in any previous era. On the other had, the present-day system is less fair to the poor than it was around the middle of the 20th Century.

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fugu13
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quote:
Since 1980? Maybe in Europe. The middle-class professionals I know work much longer hours than their parents did. My impression is that the empirical data bears this out. (My own line of work is an obvious exception.)

http://www.bearishnews.com/post/2333 (though they have another spin on it).

quote:
Technology does that. But their "slice of the pie" as compared with the wealthy has dropped in size considerably.
Well, sure, but this shouldn't really be a primary concern. Lowering inequality doesn't necessarily mean making the poor better off; it's pretty convincing that at least up to a certain point making it possible for people to become wealthier will be better for the poor as well. The question becomes more, how do we balance the two? Note: I think considerably more money should be taxed, and disproportionately from those with the most income, in order to provide a higher minimum income. I don't think, though that the exploitation story makes a lot of sense for most of the difference.

quote:
On the other had, the present-day system is less fair to the poor than it was around the middle of the 20th Century.
As mentioned above, I'm not terribly concerned with fairness when viewed as nothing more than share of total income. I think the plight of the poor in the US has more to do with mobility and social integration issues than exploitation (though transferring money to them would likely help all of that). I think there are middle class issues, but that the middle class has shared in the growth in less direct ways (such as the increased leisure time, as demonstrated by the graph above). edit: note, I'm not saying that people might not prefer to have benefited in other ways, just that saying benefits haven't occurred is misleading.
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Darth_Mauve
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Fugu I have a serious problem with your proof.

Your graph shows the average number of hours worked per job.

It counts hourly workers, but the comments Destineer was referring too were from non-hourly salaried workers.

It does not take into account those working more than one job. If my job requires me to work 20 hours a week, so they don't have to pay me full time benefits, then I have to get a second job--two 20-30 hr a week jobs.

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fugu13
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Darth_Mauve: you seem to have an awfully certain insight into something the graph doesn't say. Could you provide your source?

Here's a somewhat better source: http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=ANHRS Though I must admit that the data from that source shows average hours worked per worker are basically the same as they were in 1981 (basically the minimum). I'd be interested in seeing distribution graphs, though, as I expect the participation of women in the workforce meant they worked a lot more part time jobs in 1981 than 2009, which could mean that a lot of men in the workforce had their hours decline as women took up more full time positions instead of part time. It also doesn't speak to the particular segment of the population I'm making an assertion about: the middle class.

Also, even if the leisure time really is about the same as the early 80s (which is the worst case, given those numbers from the OECD), it is definitely more flexible than it was, which is also a benefit that's ill-measured.

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Destineer
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quote:
Well, sure, but this shouldn't really be a primary concern. Lowering inequality doesn't necessarily mean making the poor better off; it's pretty convincing that at least up to a certain point making it possible for people to become wealthier will be better for the poor as well.
Imaginary scenario (a forced analogy in some ways, but I think there are ways in which it really is analogous to what's already happened in the US):

100 years from now, with new medical technology, the life expectancy for the richest 1% is 200 years, while the life expectancy for the remaining 99% is 100 years.

Everybody's life has improved, but in a way that is unfair to the less wealthy. I see a serious justice problem in this imaginary future society. Do you?

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Destineer
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quote:
Note: I think considerably more money should be taxed, and disproportionately from those with the most income, in order to provide a higher minimum income. I don't think, though that the exploitation story makes a lot of sense for most of the difference.
This is perhaps a bit of a semantic point, but I think low taxes for the wealthy and a paper-thin social safety net (like we have now) are a form of exploitation. The working poor do a lot to help the wealthy earn their money, and the fact that they aren't well compensated in terms of social welfare means, in a sense, that they're being cheated.
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Destineer
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quote:
Originally posted by fugu13:
Here's a somewhat better source: http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=ANHRS Though I must admit that the data from that source shows average hours worked per worker are basically the same as they were in 1981 (basically the minimum). I'd be interested in seeing distribution graphs, though, as I expect the participation of women in the workforce meant they worked a lot more part time jobs in 1981 than 2009, which could mean that a lot of men in the workforce had their hours decline as women took up more full time positions instead of part time. It also doesn't speak to the particular segment of the population I'm making an assertion about: the middle class.

I know anecdotal evidence sucks, but I feel like this can't be true. Not if my professional friends have had anything like a normal experience with their jobs.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by fugu13:
quote:
Millionaires are the extreme minority of the country.
I don't know about extreme minority. I think it's about one of every 22 people. That's a lot more than most occupations.

quote:
We idolized our tycoons even as they bled us dry.
While there are certainly complications of unfairness and exploitation, I take issue with calling one of the greatest increases in lifespan, health, and standard of living increases the world has ever known, especially considering it wasn't following growth, bleeding anybody dry.

I guess you're going to have to define the time span you're talking about. Post WWII? Sure I guess. Pre-WWII? Meh. I'm not sure how much credit I'm giving millionaires for health and life span increases. Even post-WWII, most of the work place safety standards, health and safety standards, food safety, clean air, clean water etc, all of that was heavily, dramatically opposed by big business and the wealthy.

Like I said, I'm not necessarily disagreeing depending on the time span, but before the war, working-class urban Americans WERE being bled dry by the wealthy.

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fugu13
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You gave the timespan as a century and half. And I didn't give millionaires any credit, I simply said that you couldn't call it bleeding people dry if all the people involved became drastically better off. How are they bleeding people dry if they keep giving them improved standards, whatever the impetus for those improved standards?

quote:
Like I said, I'm not necessarily disagreeing depending on the time span, but before the war, working-class urban Americans WERE being bled dry by the wealthy.
No, they weren't, by any reasonable definition. This was a period of huge increases in lifespan, healthcare, and standard of living (including consumption), even with the Great Depression! How is that bleeding people dry?
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Lyrhawn
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I don't accept your premise. How do you think an auto worker in 1930 felt about that? Or a steel mill worker? Take what you're saying, if it's even true for them, and weigh it against the kinds of jobs they were working. I think you're dealing in abstractions and assigning more importance to things that the workers actually living at the time wouldn't have felt made up for everything else they went through.

[ February 26, 2011, 04:17 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]

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fugu13
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Whereas I can see you're confusing the need for reform with actual capture of benefits. The empirical evidence isn't even fuzzy: wages, lifespan, healthcare, and consumption were all increasing dramatically in the couple of decades prior to WW2, with only relatively small blips due to the Great Depression, and blaming the Great Depression on industrialists bleeding the populace dry would be humorous at best. What's more, the increasing worker activism is if anything a sign of increasing worker prosperity (with significant downsides, of course). If you look at the history of developing countries (including the United States in that period), as education and consumption frontiers for workers increase, they start to assert their rights more directly. That is, there wasn't some panacea of great factory conditions prior to the 1930s, but the economy was booming and workers were only just starting to get more of the fruits of their labors, so there was no big push to deal with the problems that did exist. Those problems were improving even as the 1930s rolled around, but not fast enough, and so workers asserted themselves. And they were remarkably successful: yet more evidence that workers weren't bled dry through this period. If they were, labor organizing wouldn't have had the positive effects it did.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
What's more, the increasing worker activism is if anything a sign of increasing worker prosperity (with significant downsides, of course). If you look at the history of developing countries (including the United States in that period), as education and consumption frontiers for workers increase, they start to assert their rights more directly.
You have a few things backwards here. It wasn't so much that workers were increasingly asserting themselves. Workers had been asserting themselves for decades but they hadn't gotten anywhere because a combination of big business and government came down on them hard every time to violently quash union organizing.

The difference is that they were doing the same things they'd been doing for decades, only now they had the Wagner Act and the NLRB to back them up. Once they had that, they organized by the thousands with more success than ever before. Most of their educational opportunities for awhile after this period came directly from the unions. Even at a very basic level, unions taught many how to read.

I also fail to see how a lot of these vastly improved economic conditions matter to a steel worker whose body is made incapable of performing any labor by the time he's 35 because of the working conditions at a steel mill. Or a coal miner suffering from black lung. The list goes on. I'm not saying that there weren't improvements in their lives, surely there were, but there were also dramatic increases in the problems they had to deal with, to the point where most industrial laborers at the time A. Didn't feel that their new benefits kept pace with the crap they had to deal with. And B. That most of those new benefits were still by and large out of their reach and only for the middle and upper classes.

Would you feel better if I modified "bled them dry" to "mercilessly exploited them"? Surely you can't argue that industrialists weren't mercilessly exploiting their workers, and the benefits that workers managed to wrest from them during this time were by and large in spite of and in direct opposition to the wishes of those industrialists. My only real point from the beginning was to point out the cognitive dissonance of a working class that was being mercilessly exploited while idolizing their exploiters. Do you really disagree with that characterization, or is this just a tussle over wording?

If it's a fundamental disagreement, then I think you're just plain wrong.

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Ron Lambert
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Besides the long-standing tradition in our society of shunning class warfare (which is inherently inappropriate in a society that is 80% middle class), it has also long been the American Way that anyone willing to make the effort can improve themselves economically. The fact that our society has so few barriers to people advancing from lower classes to higher classes--compared to societies such as those of Mexico and Central America (which each have a much smaller middle class)--is one of the things we are proud of. It allows each of us to dream of becomming rich, or upper class. Since that is what most of us desire, we do not want to punish people who have attained what we want for ourselves, too. If there is an unlimited sliding scale in tax rates, so that you can potentially be taxed 50%, 80%, or even 100% of your earnings above a certain level, then what incentive is there to continue striving to innovate and produce, things which advance all of society?

It is a long standing principle that you get more of what you tax less, and you get less of what you tax more. So cigarettes are highly taxed, and you can publish your contribution to public discourse and learning and distribute your publications at a reduced postal rate.

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Blayne Bradley
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Because the rich do not invest their money if they are not taxed on it, if you tax the rich then they are encouraged to invest it or lose it, providing jobs and growth which turns into bigger profit that they incrementally earn more and more on through alternative sources.

Tax the rich to create jobs.

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Ron Lambert
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Blayne that isn't the way it works. You don't escape taxes by investing, unless you can put all of it in a 401K plan--which only delays taxation. Or put it in municipal or federal bonds, which yield very low interest rates, after waiting years for the bonds to come to "maturity.". The rich cannot use money they have to pay in taxes to create jobs. The more money the rich are allowed to keep, that is what they will invest.

Most money that is invested has already been taxed, and then any profits from those investments are also taxed.

Or look at it this way: You do not create a bigger economic "pie" by cutting it up and removing more and more pieces.

If things worked the way you said, then the socialist-tending countries in the world would be at the top of the economic ladder, instead of at the bottom.

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Samprimary
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quote:
If things worked the way you said, then the socialist-tending countries in the world would be at the top of the economic ladder, instead of at the bottom.
Modernized, socialist countries are at the top of the ladder. And this is counting both quality of life index and GDP per capita (the latter, short one oil-soaked absolute monarchy).

So, by your argument, you're stipulating that things are working the way Blayne said.

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Blayne Bradley
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quote:
Originally posted by Ron Lambert:
Blayne that isn't the way it works. You don't escape taxes by investing, unless you can put all of it in a 401K plan--which only delays taxation. Or put it in municipal or federal bonds, which yield very low interest rates, after waiting years for the bonds to come to "maturity.". The rich cannot use money they have to pay in taxes to create jobs. The more money the rich are allowed to keep, that is what they will invest.

Most money that is invested has already been taxed, and then any profits from those investments are also taxed.

Or look at it this way: You do not create a bigger economic "pie" by cutting it up and removing more and more pieces.

If things worked the way you said, then the socialist-tending countries in the world would be at the top of the economic ladder, instead of at the bottom.

A capitalist POP has two choices, either keeps the money its industry creates as profit, in which case it gets taxed on it; or it can reinvest it, which isn't taxed.

Lowering taxes just allows capitalists to purchase luxury goods with minimal impact on economic growth or they just save it in their bank accounts and very little of it contributes to growth.

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0Megabyte
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It doesn't get taxed if invested? Source, please.
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Fusiachi
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quote:
Originally posted by Blayne Bradley:
A capitalist POP has two choices, either keeps the money its industry creates as profit, in which case it gets taxed on it; or it can reinvest it, which isn't taxed.

Lowering taxes just allows capitalists to purchase luxury goods with minimal impact on economic growth or they just save it in their bank accounts and very little of it contributes to growth.

Yes, you can intelligently invest so as to shield or delay your earnings from being taxed. No, this is not the prime motivation for investing earned income. Secondly, any capitalist worth his salt wouldn't let his capital sit stagnant in a bank account that wasn't returning at a near-market rate (unless she/he were incredibly risk-adverse). Finally, money "saved" in the banking system does contribute to economic growth, courtesy of fractional reserve banking.
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Ron Lambert
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Sam, if you are talking about the socialist tending nations in Europe, they are the ones teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. Nations like Spain, Greece, Ireland. Not to mention the really socialist governments of the recent past, such as the Soviet Union and the eastern European governments of the old Warsaw Pact. They have fallen.

Why do you suppose East Germany and East Berlin were such economic disaster areas, presenting such a stark contrast with the prosperous West Germany and West Berlin? It is because capitalism works, and socialism doesn't. The further toward the "nanny state" socialist governments go, where goodies are doled out to those who have not earned them, the worse their economic situation. The more governments incentivize invention and development by letting people and corporations keep more of what they earn, the more robust and prosperous their economy.

A nation like Sweden or Netherlands might look good for a while as it robs from the rich to enrich the poor, but eventually the credit runs out and the bills have to be paid, and austerity measures have to be imposed. So the students in England riot because they lose their college education subsidies and have to pay their own tuition for a change; and similar long-standing entitlements have to be revisited even in Germany and France.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Ron Lambert:
Sam, if you are talking about the socialist tending nations in Europe, they are the ones teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. Nations like Spain, Greece, Ireland.

You don't know what you're talking again, yet again. Trying to paint Ireland in particular as being on the short list of 'socialist tending nations' in Europe is a laugh; Fianna Fail is fairly pro-business and the actual socialists are a minority runner-up.

As far as the European region is concerned, Ireland was fairly right-wing.

But not being able to tell the libs from each other in the european theatre is a side concern with you. The nations in that region with huge tendencies towards socialism (Finland! Sweden!) top the charts in terms of secure personal finances, better public health, and quality of life that should embarrass us. And, no. Most of them are not teetering on Ireland's financial ruin, a fact which has largely encouraged the political parties who are now proud that they didn't follow Ireland's liberal* slant.

*this doesn't mean the same to them as it does in the U.S., mind.

quote:
Why do you suppose East Germany and East Berlin were such economic disaster areas, presenting such a stark contrast with the prosperous West Germany and West Berlin? It is because capitalism works, and socialism doesn't.
You're committed to taking only the overly simplistic conclusions from history, and only then where you can use them to 'back up' your preconceptions.
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Ron Lambert
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To borrow from Santayana, Those who refuse to learn from the mistakes of history are condemned to repeat them.
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Stephan
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Other than my pension, I had slightly better benefits in the private sector (teaching now).

I worked for a small insurance agency that paid 100% of my health insurance, dental, prescription. I pay $120 a pay check now.

They matched 100% of my SIMPLE IRA contributions (I forget up to what amount). Now I pay 50% of what goes into my pension, with no say how it is invested, or true guarantee that it will be there when I retire.

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Stephan
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You know what, just take a look at mine. As a public employee you can go to my county's web site and find my salary anyways. In fact a local newspaper just published every county employee name and salary on their website.

Note: I get 22 paychecks per year, not the standard 26. I don't have them spread out the pay over summer months like most teachers. I don't trust them with my money.

I am also not including the optional life and disability.

Gross Pay = $2096.32

- 43.68 (furloughs)
- .72 (vision)
- 20.58 (dental)
- 138.34 (family health)
- 52.49 (prescription)
- 104.82 (pension)
- 33.67 (union dues, not belonging only saves $6)

- 77.36 (social security)
- 26.71 (medicare, not sure why though, retirees get health with the pension)

Which brings my pay down to 1597.95 BEFORE the federal and state taxes.

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Misha McBride
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quote:
Originally posted by Stephan:
You know what, just take a look at mine. As a public employee you can go to my county's web site and find my salary anyways. In fact a local newspaper just published every county employee name and salary on their website.

Note: I get 22 paychecks per year, not the standard 26. I don't have them spread out the pay over summer months like most teachers. I don't trust them with my money.

I am also not including the optional life and disability.

Gross Pay = $2096.32

- 43.68 (furloughs)
- .72 (vision)
- 20.58 (dental)
- 138.34 (family health)
- 52.49 (prescription)
- 104.82 (pension)
- 33.67 (union dues, not belonging only saves $6)

- 77.36 (social security)
- 26.71 (medicare, not sure why though, retirees get health with the pension)

Which brings my pay down to 1597.95 BEFORE the federal and state taxes.

Oh my ****ing God my husband has the same biweekly take home pay as you, and he's a truck driver. And he gets paid 26 paychecks.

[ March 01, 2011, 12:09 AM: Message edited by: Misha McBride ]

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katharina
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Truck drivers get paid more because the lifestyle is unattractive and it doesn't require higher education but does require good behavior, shrinking the available pool. There are good reasons for it.
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Misha McBride
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quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
Truck drivers get paid more because the lifestyle is unattractive and it doesn't require higher education but does require good behavior, shrinking the available pool. There are good reasons for it.

This is horrifically untrue, firstly you'd be surprised at what trucking companies like Werner and Swift will use to keep the seats warm. Secondly I wasn't saying that truck drivers get paid as much a teacher, but that teachers get paid as little as truck drivers. Truckers work 11-14 hour days, 70 hours a week for months at a time, that's why their take home pay is more than say, a McDonald's cashier. In fact, if you broke it down to hourly pay (instead of mileage pay or percentage pay) they would be paid at the same hourly rate as a senior employee working in some sort of retail. So, basically what I'm saying is that a teacher gets paid as much as McDonalds cashier working double shifts.
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AlphaEnder
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Believe me, teachers get horrible pay. I work at a Costco, and I actually know senior employees who have never moved up in the company (e.g., 25 years in the business and still cashiering) that make at least on par with my dad (a teacher in Utah) or more. Both of my parents teach; dad at high school, mom at a state college. On the side, dad runs a highly successful pressure washing business, and we're still fighting to make ends meet. The only reason I'm in college is because I was smart enough to get a scholarship. Don't you ever suggest that public employees take a cut. Utah is staggering under our budget cuts as it is. There used to be optional meetings with pay every couple of weeks after school hours where teachers were trained for something or other; one of those "improve your abilities" things. Now it's a mandatory thing, it goes longer, AND there's not pay. In other words, overtime without pay. My dad is also a coach; the rates they pay here for coaching for a season were equivalent to the pay of a coach for less than a month in Oregon. Even without those coaching hours, here's his schedule: up at 7, out at 8, school till about 3, stay till 4 or 5 on a normal day. When large assignments come in, he'll be there till eight and he'll go there on weekends. End of the semester/year he's there from 6 AM to 10 PM, but only being paid for 8-3. He has two choices here; only work when he's being paid, and let our system suffer from incompetence, or do his job and not get paid for the effort that he puts in. I'm proud he takes the second option.

And I haven't even started on my mom's schedule.

/rant

Phew. Blood pressure's getting a bit high there, Alpha. Maybe I should go lie down. And Stephan? Thank you for the job that you do.

Alpha

[ March 01, 2011, 01:58 AM: Message edited by: AlphaEnder ]

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Rakeesh
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I'll certainly suggest that some public employees take a cut. There's not much point to having a representative system of government when some options are simply off the table or else the other side is some sort of jerk, Alpha.

Because here's the thing: I believe if you asked your parents how representative they are of all teachers they know or have worked with in their careers, that is to say the level of work you're describing, and they really sat down and thought about it, it wouldn't be pretty. And I'm talking about not just teachers they came up with and taught next to, but teachers in their grade levels, in their schools, the lemons. Those are the public employees that need to be cut.

I can match your anecdote one for one: I'm a member of a union myself. And there's a few things I've observed about working in a job with a very powerful, organized, entrenched union-not unlike some public service unions. And that is that the job in my case wouldn't be nearly as good (UPS) for me personally without it, in terms of working conditions (and I mean across the board there), pay, benefits, interaction between management and employees, etc.

But there are some very real drawbacks, and put simply it's that it's very hard to get fired or discipline anyone for anything but the most easily proven, egregious offenses. There was an employee, mediocre quality of work at best, frequent tardiness, not uncommon call-ins, not uncommon misloads, plenty of disrespect towards mgmt (I'm not in management, so this didn't offend me personally, I'm just describing), and have even been known to come to work smelling of booze (he doesn't drive). Calling in he told on speakerphone the manager of the center to, "Suck my @#$@!"

His job wasn't threatened, and if it was-if he'd been terminated-he would've had it back within a week. There's another guy I know, actually practiced some fraud-kept his job on the condition that he take a downgrade in pay and hours and work, just so he wouldn't fight it.

The point of this anecdote isn't to say that I know what it's like to be in a public service union. The point is to speculate (while strongly leaning towards the conclusion that, yes, it is) if it's true in public employee unions, many employees could be cut that are right now protected and have been protected for quite some time.

To wonder if yes, we should be suggesting that public employees be cut-some of them. Because I can tell you, if working in those unions is anything like mine, it is a serious drain on morale to be working around people whose attitude is one of apathetic, contemptuous invincibility towards authority. And that's not in the business of teaching children.

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AvidReader
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The problem is always that the cuts fall on the people making the least. You could probably cut a couple administrators and save a handful of teacher jobs.

Though as has been pointed out before, those admins are there to handle the paperwork that comes with every new "accountability" law that gets passed. So first we'd need a repeal of federal feel-good laws in order to get the districts more efficient with no guarantee that they actually would.

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Blayne Bradley
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They could always raise taxes.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by AlphaEnder:
Believe me, teachers get horrible pay.

Part of why the pay is effectively horrid is because of the hours you actually work. The hours you spend actually teaching students are only the beginning.
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Darth_Mauve
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John Stewart showed a guy on Fox News complaining that "Teachers are only part time employees and shouldn't even get benefits. There day ends at what, 2:30, and they don't work the summers."

When someone argued that their mother was a teacher who worked far longer than the 2:30 school day, he responded, "well my mother was a teacher and by 2:35 she was out shopping."

John Stewart's answer "Then your mother was a lousy teacher."

If this is the type of garbage reasoning that the Right is going to use to attack public workers, then it makes me sick. If it catches on, I will be officially depressed.

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TomDavidson
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To be honest, I think the focus on teachers is kind of sad, anyway. It's not like other people doing jobs worth doing don't work for the state.
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Stephan
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I will tell you which teachers need to have a pay cut. I don't know if this is nationwide, but in my school district all principals returning to the classroom retain their principal salary.

We have a teacher earning $116,000 per year because he was a principal for just one year. It wasn't even in this county where he was a principal, but in DC.

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AlphaEnder
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@ Rakeesh: True. Most of the teachers in that school are the good teachers, the ones who actually do what they're supposed to, who pull the same hours as my parents, but I have seen other public employees (teachers, post office, etc.) who do just what you said and definitely deserve to be cut. I suppose I should have said those systems shouldn't have their funding cut, not that there shouldn't be some weeding of the workers.

Forgive my outburst; I can lose my head when it comes to personal matters and will rant incoherently.

quote:
Originally posted by AvidReader:
The problem is always that the cuts fall on the people making the least. You could probably cut a couple administrators and save a handful of teacher jobs.

Though as has been pointed out before, those admins are there to handle the paperwork that comes with every new "accountability" law that gets passed. So first we'd need a repeal of federal feel-good laws in order to get the districts more efficient with no guarantee that they actually would.

I gotta say about this though is that the admin at that school really couldn't be cut any more. We had a principal for overseeing everything, an assistant principal for discipline, an attendance...principal? who took care of all attendance issues and also dealt with discipline if the AP was busy or out for the day, a sports director, and...that's about it in the front office. I could see one other position being cut in there (someone I didn't mention), but it would be difficult to bump anyone out. As far as class sizes, we don't have seats for students in some of our classes because there aren't enough teachers/seats/room in the classrooms. In a school that just got built two years ago, there is an entire wing of the school that sits empty with fully equipped labs because there aren't enough teachers to fill them.

Alpha

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by fugu13:
quote:
Millionaires are the extreme minority of the country.
I don't know about extreme minority. I think it's about one of every 22 people. That's a lot more than most occupations.

You have to define millionaire here to be fair. If you are talking about net worth, include home and retirement savings, then a million dollars isn't all that much, particularly for a couple heading in to retirement. Most of these people would not have experienced a tax increase under the Obama proposal.

If you are talking about people with incomes over 1 million annually, that's a different story. Only 1.5% of Americans have annual household incomes over $250,000.

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fugu13
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I'm just talking about the common meaning of assets over $1 million. I assumed that was the definition being used, absent clarification. In fact, I don't think I've ever heard millionaire used to mean someone whose compensation is over a million dollars (though it obviously tends to include such people).
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Kwea
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My parents might still qualify for that, even though they live on their earnings of less than $38,000 a year now.

We bought a cottage for less than $40,000 years ago, and on paper it's worth almost $300,000 because it's on a lake. In reality it isn't anywhere near that, as it is an old converted log cabin, and no property near them has been sold for less that 20 cents on the dollar for the past 5 years. It's in MI, which is one of the worst hit states....they actually tore up the pavement because they couldn't pay the upkeep on them, and dirt roads are cheaper in the short term.

They have a mediun sized cottage, and a medium sized condo in AZ for the winters. That's almost $500,000 in appraised peoperty values. In two of the hardest hit areas in the US.


They live a fairly modest life, and yet according to some stupid forms of calculating wealth they could potentially be considered "millionaires" despite having minimal income for the rest of their lives.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by fugu13:
I'm just talking about the common meaning of assets over $1 million. I assumed that was the definition being used, absent clarification. In fact, I don't think I've ever heard millionaire used to mean someone whose compensation is over a million dollars (though it obviously tends to include such people).

In my experience, the most common meaning of "millionaire" is "very wealthy". That is certainly the sense in which DM was using the word since he was referring to the Obama proposal to eliminate the Bush tax cuts for the highest income earners which would never have included modest income families with a home and pension fund totalling over a million dollars.


At one point in time, 1 million dollars in assets would have made one very wealthy. In the USA today, this would include a huge number of modest income people nearing retirement.

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fugu13
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quote:
We bought a cottage for less than $40,000 years ago, and on paper it's worth almost $300,000 because it's on a lake. In reality it isn't anywhere near that, as it is an old converted log cabin, and no property near them has been sold for less that 20 cents on the dollar for the past 5 years.
I'm quite sure that anyone assessing their net worth wouldn't value the cottage at the property tax assessment (I assume that's what you're using?). Property tax assessment values have never been a good measure of asset values. Someone doing a real valuation would use the actual prices of recent local sales of comparable properties, or if that failed, would look at the prices local properties failed to sell at recently, and apply estimated reductions based on trends and other data.

It was part of my point that the level of millionaire, that we used to think so vaunted, is not actually all that out of reach. And not as much of that is due to inflation as you might think, especially with the housing price declines and leveling off; there are a remarkable number of people who have managed to accumulate a million dollars in assets. What percentage of the population had over $120k in assets in 1955? That's the CPI number, which should (very) roughly approximate similar levels of consumption. As a share of GDP, people would only need $28,500 to be equivalent, and it was probably a similar number (with houses being ~$20k, but a higher share of household savings being in the house) with that much, but they wouldn't be able to buy nearly as much against their assets as someone with $1 million.

Btw, you'll be happy to know that the statistic in question excludes the value of the home. The estimate is that there are about 6.7 million millionaire households in the US, excluding primary residence value. 6.7 million households is virtually certain to be at least 13.4 million people (most married, and a number will have children). There are 309 million people in the US. 13.4 / 309 = approximately one in every twenty two people.

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