Wealth Distribution

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rectorsquid

climber
Lake Tahoe
Mar 6, 2013 - 04:01pm PT
i always ask, how much do you need? i think most here are happy to have a modest home, decent car, health insurance, and some time to enjoy our lives. i don't understand what's behind the need to accumulate massive wealth. greed, power, i've got to prove myself to daddy? i just don't get it.

That is bizarre. You are typing your comments on a computer that you really really don't need. "Modest home?" your idea of modest is probably not the same as a dirt dweller in Ethiopia and certainly not the same as Bill Gates'.

To suggest that one person knows how much another needs is to suggest that some people can run YOUR life better than you can. that is something that we adults who don't need constant supervision of our parents really don't like.

But move on to a more interesting observation. We are here because our species is greedy. You can't just turn off millions of years of evolution-produced instincts just to get some of some other guys money. The world is about competition and as soon as you start being fair, you stop competing. Then the Chinese or someone else down the block decides to go back to being unfair and we, the fair ones, are all screwed.

Communism doesn't work because of greed. Any attempt to distribute wealth will fail as soon as the cash grab moved low enough on the food chain. But just grabbing the money from the most wealthy is not at all fair.

Dave
John M

climber
Mar 6, 2013 - 04:03pm PT
Unregulated or poorly regulated capitalism doesn't work either, but lots of people seem to think that it does.
apogee

climber
Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Mar 6, 2013 - 04:03pm PT
"...I find the idea that the wealthy determine elections and laws more an article of faith than one based on evidence."


Yeah, that's common retort, since it shifts the onus to provide proof that wealth influences our democracy to the person making the charge.

Howzabout providing some direct proof that it doesn't?
Dave Kos

Social climber
Temecula
Mar 6, 2013 - 04:58pm PT
There is ample evidence that elections are influenced by both big corporations and big labor unions.

Start here:

http://www.opensecrets.org/bigpicture/topcontribs.php?cycle=2010

http://www.opensecrets.org/bigpicture/topcontribs.php?cycle=2008&bkdn=DemRep
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
the crowd MUST BE MOCKED...Mocked I tell you.
Mar 6, 2013 - 05:01pm PT
everyone gets only one vote

Do you mean every representative gets only one vote?



I think a lot of the wealthy v. poor discussion doesn't surface the mechanics/the "how, that John's alluding to. The debates are ideological in most cases. Note the lack of citations in the thread.


It's not to say a lot of wealth isn't concentrated. But that's not a moral fault, per se. The systemic rules of right that govern how we make money, and how much care we should be providing to our fellow person are debatable.

Getting away from ideological generalizations is the first step.

Talk specifics.




John M

climber
Mar 6, 2013 - 05:10pm PT
Talk specifics.

The discrepancy in wealth distribution is growing too big. How to fix that, I don't know, though I do believe that the wealthy could pay more taxes. .

Another thing that I would work on in california is prop 13. It makes it difficult for new businesses to start because they have to compete on an uneven playing field. If they buy a property, then their property taxes are often many times greater then established businesses. It also makes it difficult for people to change locations. They can't afford the higher tax rates if they move. Jody gave a prime example of that as a highway patrol person who wanted to move to another area, but couldn't because he wouldn't be able to afford the higher property taxes.

Beyond that.. I don't know all the ends and outs. I only know that people are feeling the pinch and its not the wealthy who are feeling it. The longer that goes on, the more people will rise up. If people want that to happen in a calm manner, then the powers that be had better start working on it now.

Going bankrupt because one has a health issue is another concern. But many people are ignoring that. Everything is fine as Rome burns.

I would also work on balancing unions power, rather then trying to do away with them by demonizing them.
Gary

Social climber
Right outside of Delacroix
Mar 6, 2013 - 05:55pm PT
Gary, it's also about people retaining the fruits of their savings, investing (which, by definition, is deferring consumption), ideas, actions and labors, rather than having it confiscated by the political powers to distribute to others who didn't earn it to buy their reelection.

John, I could not agree with you more. That's exactly why I turned socialist many years ago. I'm happy to see you've finally seen the light, Fellow Traveller.

I think it's a shame that the political process seems hell bent on escalating the confiscatory power of the capitalist class, but in the long run, it will only hasten a better day. People will only take so much, and then like the last era of Robber Barons, the people will awaken and organize once again.
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Mar 6, 2013 - 06:08pm PT
John, it is really sickening to see you defend unlimited and unbridled wealth disparity.

You must have some limit to what you think is a reasonable disparity for a healthy society.....1% owns 99%? do you have no limit?

A large part of the reason that the very wealthy become, and stay that way, is because they manipulate the rules, so as to give themselves an advantage. They create very complex legal protections for certain income streams, that no one who doesn't access very high skill and costly legal talents, can. It doesn't make sense that "access is equal" when the smallest unit of participation is 10 million dollars.

You know this is so.

Despite your cautions to the contrary, you know that the inequality is increasing. You know the range from lowest to highest paid person in a company is vastly increasing over other HEALTHY economies and societies.

Why are you hiding from the truth?
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
the crowd MUST BE MOCKED...Mocked I tell you.
Mar 6, 2013 - 06:14pm PT
Reagan slashed taxes, slashed regulations, gave welfare to Corporations with the direct consequence of Wealth concentration

Citation please.


The Middle Class needs a lobbyist group to make sure that we are heard

Interesting idea. That should be our representatives in the first place, no?


the voice and the power to do anything they want

Not sure this is true. That's a strong statement. Romney didn't get elected, so as a case in point, they don't get anything they want.

Are those individuals that are engaged in this alleged intentional class warfare more organized, smarter, stronger, better armed? Are we deliberately too busy to protest our elected reps and require them to do the putative public's bidding?

Dave Kos

Social climber
Temecula
Mar 6, 2013 - 06:15pm PT
You must have some limit to what you think is a reasonable disparity for a healthy society.....1% owns 99%? do you have no limit?

I think it is an oversimplification to focus on only one metric.

There are places with far less wealth disparity than the US - and in most of those places everyone is poor. Wealth distribution is not the only important measure of whether an economic system or political policy is effective.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
the crowd MUST BE MOCKED...Mocked I tell you.
Mar 6, 2013 - 06:18pm PT
A large part of the reason that the very wealthy become, and stay that way, is because they manipulate the rules, so as to give themselves an advantage. They create very complex legal protections for certain income streams, that no one who doesn't access very high skill and costly legal talents. It doesn't make sense that "access is equal" when the smallest unit of participation is 10 million dollars.

Ken, how does this work mechanically, say if you wanted to correct those rules?

Are you suggesting someone born into wealth doesn't deserve most of their inheritance because their parents worked their assess off to provide an easier quality of life for their children?

Must each generation "earn" their wealth?

Which income streams seem disparately slighted in the direction of the already wealthy?



Gary

Social climber
Right outside of Delacroix
Mar 6, 2013 - 06:24pm PT
Not sure this is true. That's a strong statement. Romney didn't get elected, so as a case in point, they don't get anything they want.

Munge, you don't think they got what they wanted with Obama?
Dave Kos

Social climber
Temecula
Mar 6, 2013 - 06:30pm PT
A large part of the reason that the very wealthy [...]

People like to make generalizations about the "very wealthy," but we don't really have to generalize. They are a very specific list of people:

http://www.forbes.com/forbes-400/list/

What is striking about the top of the list is that all of them made their money in either one or two generations. Gates, Ellison, Bloomberg, Buffet all started out middle class and made their money during their own lifetimes. The Waltons got their money from their father, who was a middle-class guy until he was in his 40s. The Koch's are the only "old money" in the top ten, and their big wealth really isn't that old. A cursory look at the list shows that more than half of the top 25 richest Americans are first-generation wealth.

I'm not a fanboy for the rich, but there is no evidence - for at least the very richest people - that they had any unfair advantage or "different set of rules."

Mungeclimber

Trad climber
the crowd MUST BE MOCKED...Mocked I tell you.
Mar 6, 2013 - 06:36pm PT
Gary,

Who is "they"?


A sufficient part of the electorate got what that part of the electorate wanted within the confines of a two party system.


Gary

Social climber
Right outside of Delacroix
Mar 6, 2013 - 06:58pm PT
A sufficient part of the electorate got what that part of the electorate wanted within the confines of a two party system.

Said two parties conveniently being the far right wing of the corporate party and the moderate right wing of the corporate party.

Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Mar 6, 2013 - 07:12pm PT
This is all you need to see:





hossjulia

Trad climber
Where the Hoback and the mighty Snake River meet
Mar 6, 2013 - 07:54pm PT
Good thread and topic. Learning much.

Really liked Dr. F's first post, among many others.

matty, "Trees" is my favorite Rush song
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Mar 6, 2013 - 08:06pm PT
Wealth distribution was controlled by higher taxes on higher incomes and regulations

Huh? By controlling or limiting high incomes, all you're doing is making it harder for the identity of the most wealthy to change. Can we please stop confusing income and wealth?

And Ken, I most certianly do not know, much less believe, that the most wealthy achieved their wealth by bending the rules. That, too, is an article of faith by the Enviers, with rather scant evidence to back it up.

Futhermore the idea that only the relatively well-off can save is BS. I don't expect welfare recipients to save, because the system penalizes them for doing so, but 40%? Are you talking in the US? The 40% level was around $3,000.00 per month in 2012 per wikipedia's compilation of US Census data, and I personally know several families who are able to save, and do in fact save, with that level of income. I grew up in such a family. We had one car. Our house had one bathroom. My parents lived very simply, and they used the money they saved to invest in commercial real property, that, after several years, made them enough to provide for my higher education and to support themselves in retirement rather well, and yet still had enough to give generously to church and charity.

I had an uncle and aunt who would tell a similar story. It's a matter of choosing to spend less than you make. That involves sacrifices, for which the capitalist system provides rewards in the form of return on investment.

On the other hand, I had a law partner who 20 years ago told me "How can anybody live on only $140,000 a year?" (That is what he made in the late 1980's at his old firm. By the way, he was a Democrat.) He had no intention of saving. His father was a doctor, and his father-in-law a builder, and they did all the saving. He was just waiting to inherit it. I doubt that his wealth will increase.

I share El Cap's concern about the size of CEO compensation. I don't think many CEO's of publicly traded companies are worth that kind of money, but there's an easy cure for that. The salaries of all high-paid corporate officers in publicly-traded corporations are disclosed on the relevant 10-K's and 10-Q's. I don't invest in corporations whose boards are too inept to control officer pay.

I think that in this area, as in most others, our experiences determine our beliefs. The relatively comfortable people I know made their money honestly through hard work, savings, self-denial, delayed gratification, and smarts. That leads me to a natural hostility toward philosophies that say people in the United States don't deserve the wealth they have. I'm sure the experiences of others differ, so their perceptions do as well. Our sample sizes are probably too small.

For all these resaons, I don't expect to convince those who rail at the level of alleged wealth inequality, but I would appreciate your considering what you imply before you accuse those who believe as I do of intellectual or actual dishonesty. I have very good -- and very personal -- reasons for believing as I do.

Sorry for the rant, but this is a day where catharsis has its uses.

John
bparry

Trad climber
New Haven, CT
Mar 6, 2013 - 08:13pm PT
Reason on the taco -- thank-you JEleazarian

Wealth equality would be monumentally unfair
John M

climber
Mar 6, 2013 - 08:26pm PT

And Ken, I most certianly do not know, much less believe, that the most wealthy achieved their wealth by bending the rules. That, too, is an article of faith by the Enviers, with rather scant evidence to back it up.

Nice John.. real nice..

as for bending the rules. I couldn't begin to tell you all the various ways I have seen rules bent. But that isn't even really the point. They make the rules. They don't just bend them. And if they can't get rules through that suit them, then they control the overseers and those who bring judgment. How many times have we seen giant corporations or extremely wealthy people get slaps on the wrists, while the rest of us pay heavy penalties if we "bend" a rule.

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