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Without reading the article (reading poisons the mind) that seems like a weird kind of mental jiujitsu. Like, liberals tend to attempt to enforce tolerance, and since the vast majority of people on the internet are dickwads, myself included, bumping up against other aggressively intolerant, racist, or belligerent douches and trying to force them to play nice makes the liberals seem less tolerant. But it's intolerance of douchebaggery.
If you agree with everything I'm saying, why are you posting a counterpoint?
I was trying to give DW every benefit of the doubt in his figures, which included a grossly overexaggerated "middle class".
Yes, productivity rose while wages were stagnant, but your average consumer doesn't experience the benefits of his own productivity growth, they only experience the gap between money they earn and money they have to pay out (wages and consumer spending) and the larger that gap is the more rich (or poor) they feel, regardless of arbitrary definitions.
Doug's Workshop wrote:
He meant the discretionary budget, of which 55% goes to defense spending. Of the general fund (FY 2012) 20% goes to defense spending.
It's disingenuous to talk about social security and medicare/medicaid because they are part of segregated and managed funds. The US is not allowed to spend money from those funds on anything but SS/Medicare. It's as if you wanted to consider bank cash withdrawals as part of a bank's business expenditures. Regardless, they only add up to about 43%.
It is, however, perfectly acceptable to consider any additional funds the US spends to offset budget shortfalls in other areas. Like the discretionary budget. Again, 55% of the US discretionary budget is defense spending and almost none is social security, at least in recent years.
I'd like to reiterate, why is 70% of the federal budget going to 80% of the population seen as a giveaway to those 70%. It's as if you, DW, are suggesting MORE should just be given away to the rich.
A useful and often-used definition of "middle class" is having income between 50% of and 200% of the median income. In the US the median household income is 51k, so between 25k and 102k. This accounts for about 55% of the population and those below that level another 25%. Together this makes 80%. This means that, even if we take DW's figure at face value, the poor and middle class are getting short shrift.
Ignoring for the moment that no household subsisting on 25k a year, or $12/hr for a single full-time worker, feels remotely middle class. This is largely because this definition was useful in the 1950s, 60s and 70s before the steady productivity growth we saw from 1982 to today, when consumer prices steadily rose while wages did not.
How the crap do you figure 70% of federal spending goes to the poor or middle class? Social Security and medicare "goes" to people who are eligible to collect, including the rich, who pay proportionally less into the SS fund than do people of lower income. Since SS, Medicare and Defense add up to about 60% of the budget, that's already a BS figure.
Even if you did somehow did the twist semantically, that 70% of federal money goes back to 90% of the population still seems like a raw deal.
In reality about 13% of the federal budget goes to social safety net programs like unemployment and foodstamps.
Durngrun Stonebreaker wrote:
Of COURSE you can, and we do in many ways. It's simply not okay to limit the speech of the RICH because, as we all know, those with more money are simply better than us. Intrinsically. Otherwise they wouldn't be rich, because money is an objective measure of how smart, good looking, and worthwhile one is as a person.
Except "speaking your mind" in all of these examples is "bribing politicians and public servants to bend the law to my whim".
If money=speech then I ought to be free to do whatever with my money that I wish. But I'm not.
Arguing with Doug is completely useless though because he doesn't care about freedom, only the ability of the ultra rich to have their way with the electorate. This is what happens when you worship money.
How about this: I'm willing to bet that, regardless of actual QUALITY (Budweiser tastes like piss) domestic beer producers make more revenue and have a higher profit margin than smaller breweries largely BECAUSE of such advertising.
Because advertising works. Money talks.
Advertising for consumer goods is largely a trivial matter, but things that get a lot of media attention, including aggressive advertising blitzes, are successful in swaying opinions of a product enough that the producer increases their profits. Regardless of the product's quality.
Our democratically elected government, on a state, local, and federal level, are not such trivial things. Allowing a few moneyed elites (only some 600 people hit these aggregate limits in recent cycles) to flood the market (so to speak) will absolutely have a deleterious and corrupting affect on American politics. To believe otherwise is willful ignorance.
Also as Sissyl says, prison labor. For profit prisons should be outlawed for step 1.
Doug's Workshop wrote:
Except that we've already done this dance.Money is not speech, but it can be EXCHANGED for speech, or to silence others as it is indeed being used. Thus we can regulate how money is exchanged for political speech in a way that will maximize your and my ability to exercise our own without some big union or corporation or billionare drowning out our voice.
The silly argument you put forth here suggests two things. 1) That you are perfectly aware of the corrupting influence of money on politics, as the alternative to your argument would be arguing in my favor.
2) That you've run out of ideas where to go rhetorically, since money isn't speech and we both know it.
Doug's Workshop wrote:
Your logic doesn't follow.If money is not speech, then money can (and perhaps should) be regulated, as to what it can be spent on. Free speech should have as much leeway as possible since it is a constitutionally guaranteed right, whereas money is not a right and can thus be regulated.
That regulation, as the constitution establishes, is up to our duly elected legislators, which we all get to vote on.
If money=speech then goats=oranges.
Moreover, it would mean things like their decision on Obamacare are right and just and he should stop whining about it.
Doug's Workshop wrote:
But you just said money=speech. What you're talking about is money being EXCHANGED for speech. Things that can be exchanged for one another are not one another. For example, I can exchange a goat for a bushel of oranges.
Why would I have to give up gaming and posting? Frequent study breaks actually INCREASE your capacity to learn and make the time you spend studying more fruitful. Sometimes just doing more of something results in less output. That's something I've learned from the economics classes I've taken, which is my major.
And I wasn't complaining, merely showing you how it's really not feasible to do as you suggest working part time at minimum wage to pay for college...withOUT outside assistance. I've been fortunate enough to qualify for grants and scholarships due to my economic status. Opportunities that wouldn't exist without the big bad gub'ment stepping in.
However you got that I was making an argument for limiting free speech from that I'll never know.
Let me ask you, if money=speech, why can't I pay my rent with a recital of my one-man show "Meatrace: An Exploration in Dance"?
Doug's Workshop wrote:
In-state tuition at my local land-grant college is about $12k. Books are another 1k/year easily. I live in low-income housing (subsidized in part by the city) and I make all my own meals, and share a car with my girlfriend. Basically, I live extremely frugally, and my total bills every month are about $1k. During the school year I work 15 hours a week on weekends because I need every night of the week to study, but I make about $12/hr, well over the minimum wage that most students make, so I've been fortunate there, and I work full time (or more than if I get overtime) in the summers, usually while taking a summer class (not included in that 12k/yr tuition figure).
So let's recap: $13k/yr tuition and books + (by a VERY conservative estimated MINIMUM) $12k/yr=$25k/yr total. If I worked full time THE ENTIRE YEAR, thus not allowing for any study time at night, after taxes I would still not make enough to survive. I mean, unless I take out student loans, which I wouldn't qualify for if it weren't for federal assistance, I'd have to take out a minimum of $10k/yr at the current interest rates of about 7%, unsubsidized so I'd be accruing interest while going to school and after 4 years I'd owe $55k-ish. Bare freaking minimum.
Not...quite. At least from the analysis I heard, what it allows is greater collaboration between state and federal party committees as well. So where before, money given to GOP Iowa had to be spent on races in Iowa, now they can move money around more freely and focus a whole nation's worth of state parties' money into a single race if they wanted to.
So, a single donor could max out contributions to 50 separate organizations, who then funnel it into one big organization or focus it on several smaller races.
But, again, this is from an early analysis that I heard on local talk radio, so take it with a grain of salt.
Andrew R wrote:
The real takers are the corporations, espeically big oil, big ag, and big pharma, and the Wall Street machine in general.
Compared to what they rake in, thanks to bought votes and congressional seats (thanks SCOTUS!) welfare fraud and social programs are a mere pittance!
Andrew R wrote:
Here's all I'm saying. There will never be a perfect system, but statistically the people you're talking about are a tiny, tiny fraction of the population. Like less than 1%. Maybe you have a job where you run into that type of people a lot. I live ghetto-adjacent and I ride the bus and I know the kind of person you're talking about, and I can sympathise with the anger.
I just console myself with the knowledge they'll never go anywhere in life, and I think that if you lived their life for a while you'd know it's not all roses either. It may seem like it, because they're getting something for not working for it, but they're not getting much of anything. Really they're not.
Most of the specific points you've railed against are things that are already addressed. Like buying cigs with foodstamps, which you can't do anyway.
I'm just imagining that you're faced with these people every day, as opposed to the much more heinous theft that's happening on Wall Street day in and day out which I don't see you really raising a huff about.
Well this thread went sideways fast.
Look, I'm all for treating drug abuse like a disease like a crime, because most abuse can be ameliorated and users can be rehabilitated. Not all, but most.
My problem is this, Andrew: What about alcohol? That's a drug. In most meaningful ways it's far more dangerous than most recreational drugs other than heroin, cocaine, crack, meth, and PCP.
I'm staunchly pro-drug, even if I don't partake often. Full disclosure, it's been about 4 1/2 years since I've smoked marijuana (not my favorite drug) and almost 14 since I dropped acid (my favorite drug). My girlfriend's whole family is potheads and it borderline makes me uncomfortable when we can't go to dinner there without them busting out the pipes, cuz I don't smoke.
My gf's dad smokes basically every day. He also works 50-60 hours a work as a maintenance technician, and never works high. Where you might have a couple brews, he has a couple of tokes. He provides for his wife and family, and is otherwise a law-abiding, tax-paying average joe. Marijuana is becoming just another working class escape, and I don't think users should be locked up because Andre R hates hippies.
Come on Meat. In order to invest, you're putting in money you already have, and have already paid taxes on once. How would you 'not tax' that original income. It's already been taxed before you invest it. As you point out, capital gains are at low rates. I can live with 15%. It is the corporate rate that needs to come down. The president wants to raise Capital Gains to 30%. And what do you think the result will be on business if he succeeds? Less business.
I shouldn't have to spell this out to you: income tax deductions.If you invest $5000 into a money market account in year X, you can deduct 5k from your income for that year. Look at that! You're effectively not paying taxes on your initial investment!
The problem with your idea is that a low capital gains tax should IN THEORY incentivize new investment. What we WANT is investment in domestic capital and labor. What we GET is financial investment on the stock market, much of which goes to companies already producing or spending a significant amount of money internationally. In other words, it only accelerates the movement of capital off-shore.
In gaming terms, this is called theorycrafting. You've reasoned out how things ought to work, if everything works like a well-oiled machine, and so you've convinced yourself that it's how it MUST work.
I'd like to remind people that this is the same logic that said, back in the 50s and 60s when the idea that tobacco caused cancer was controversial, the tobacco companies wouldn't sell a dangerous product because it's not profitable to kill their customers. It has a sort of folksy, common-sense pseudo-rational bent to it, but in the end it's utter shash.
In reality, none of this in the case. If no employer offers a benefit, and they collude not to, none of them is at a particular disadvantage. While it may be true that two otherwise identical firms may find it an advantage to compete by offering such incentives, no two firms are nearly so similar as to fit this criteria. In fact, firms are becoming so big and such near-monopolies that they can utterly dominate their position in a field to create leverage against prospective employees.
Many jobs actually THRIVE on the high turnover rate that they cultivate through grueling hours and low pay, because in dire economic times such as those in which we are now living, people are desperate and there's ALWAYS a boss eager to exploit desperation. There are all KINDS of reasons why people take jobs or stay in them, and reducing human beings to an interchangeable input unfairly discounts all sorts of reasons you couldn't predict for why they act in an (apparently) economically irrational manner.
What in the roleplaying community we call theorycrafting, in economics we call the Austrian school of thought. Empiricism be damned, they've decided how things must work and if you show them evidence to the contrary they'll ignore you.
Meatrace, while much is often said about what Personal income tax rates "should be," I don't think there's a solid argument against low corporate and capital gains tax rates (the latter is absolutely a double tax). Given that we have the highest corporate tax rates in the world, you simply DON'T know what "they" would or wouldn't do, because it costs SO much to do business here, that "they" aren't stupid enough to do so. They go abroad. Try lowering the corporate rates, and see what happens, before you try and tell me (unsuccessfully) that it won't work. The current strategy of having the highest corporate rate in the world clearly is having disastrous results. Or are you suggesting that we live in economically prosperous times?
I'm not even sure if you're reading my posts...
We've cut capital gains and corporate tax rates in the past. There has been NO correlation with employment rate, investment rate, or GDP growth whatsoever. What makes you think that it would work when, empirically, it hasn't when we have tried it before?
As for the last bit, we are absolutely living in economically prosperous times...for the 1%.
As for capital gains tax being a double tax, my solution is to not tax the original income that an individual invests, but tax the capital gains at a progressive rate identical to that of regular income. Capital gains tax rates are at the lowest point since WWII if not earlier. It only seems to serve to make the rich gratuitously richer.
We're paying for the healthcare for a lot of citizens. They are LEAVING the workforce in record droves. Two or three times the number of people drop out of the work force (Unemployed, but Quit Looking for Work) per month, than those who find a job (now days, typically a part time job that doesn't offer employer benefits). As those numbers aren't counted in the unemployment statistics, it gives the appearance of an economic recovery. Point is, Medicaid is given to more than 50 million Americans. If getting healthcare is supposed to help you "get back to work" and be productive, why are people instead not going back to work?
I'm not even sure what you're referring to. The vast, vast majority of the healthcare being provided by medicare and medicare is for elderly retirees, who aren't likely to go back to work any time soon. Are you saying you think they ought to?
I think you misunderstand me though, healthcare doesn't magically make people who are unemployed find jobs (and I can't imagine why you'd think it would), it helps those who ARE employed stay productive. It's one reason why employers offer it--they know that a healthy workforce is a productive workforce. But many jobs don't offer healthcare, and to me the choice is between forcing them to or simply allowing them to sign onto medicare.
Personally I dislike the idea of subsidizing the employer's bottom line, if we're going to be a system where labor is dependent on their employer for healthcare they NEED to do so and not doing so amounts to a free ride for the employer. Which again brings us back to single-payer.
If NO employer is required or even needs to provide insurance as a benefit to employees it's an immediate positive supply shock to those companies who previously were. It adds immeasurably to the liquidity of labor and would cut down significantly on frictional unemployment. It would also prevent employees from feeling trapped in a job due to the need for medical care, such as for chronic conditions. In other words, it allows the invisible hand to actually work in the labor market.
EDIT: I just wanted to add one more thing about the shift to part-time employment. Productivity per capita has been skyrocketing for the last several decades while wages remain stagnant. If we, as an industrialized society, can continually produce the means to sustain life ever more efficiently, shouldn't we expect to do so with ever less effort? Once everything is automated, and labor isn't needed to produce anything (on a sustaining level, I'm not talking about innovation or growth, that's another topic entirely) shouldn't we all be free of the shackles of wage labor? If not, what exactly is in it for the regular joe to work ever harder when a greater portion of the fruits of his labor go to his slave master....er employer?
At what point does doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results become insanity?
Lowering taxes for the rich is something we've been doing over and over since Reagan, and yet we seem to still be hemmorhaging jobs to overseas firms. The reason is that the elite want to have their cake and eat it, too, and there's nothing we can do to compel the corporations to hire here. So they won't, because it's still more efficient in the short-term to do otherwise.
We just disagree what's necessary then.
Granted, Obamacare is not that efficient solution.
Again, we pay more for, and get less from, our healthcare system than any other industrialized nation. I hate being ripped off.