America...the newest third world country.


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Trad climber
May 10, 2014 - 12:12pm PT
Maybe not 3rd...but a disgrace for such a wealthy nation.
We have more folks incarcerated than anywhere else. What's THAT about?
The fact that basic human rights for our own citizens is even a debatable issue speaks volumes.
Funny how the people who deny that class war exists can be its most vicious warriors.

Trad climber
South Lake Tahoe, CA
May 10, 2014 - 12:13pm PT
Quit being a member of the perpetual complaining class. Cable news, talk radio, blah, blah, blah.

Complainers are the morons. Complainers are the sheep.

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
May 10, 2014 - 12:16pm PT
Meta-complainers are meta-sheep and meta-morons.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
May 10, 2014 - 12:17pm PT
I don't understand Rick... just last week you were advising us stupid canucks to welcome that sucking noise as the sweet sound of successful prosperity. Now you are pointing out that it is just another case of the race to the bottom of the barrel.

Sorry, I'm a dim witted confused canadian. Perhaps someone wiser (Werner perhaps?) could interpret the wise words of Rick sumner in a way that removes the appearance of hypocrisy and contradiction.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
May 10, 2014 - 12:22pm PT
Maybe if Americans didn't insist upon living beyond their means we wouldn't
be having this 'discussion'. It wouldn't hurt, either, to learn the word 'save'.

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
May 10, 2014 - 12:26pm PT
Quote It wouldn't hurt, either, to learn the word 'save'.

Save your preaching!


Boulder climber
Santa Cruz, CA
May 10, 2014 - 01:46pm PT
I asked a question a long time upstream and I'm not absolutely sure we have solved this one yet. You would think that after this many posts we would have things clarified.

I think that the increased concentration of wealth at the top leads to increased power there as well. That seems like it will in turn lead to even more separation of classes and this seems kind of like it is going to be hard to stop or change. My background as a poor person growing up makes me think that more taxes might help. I think the last time the concentration of wealth got this extreme we had a "great depression" or something.

How do we make this better? If we can't solve this on supertopo then I might get really worried.

(Hi Randy!)


Trad climber
May 10, 2014 - 01:50pm PT
John posted
As to the substance of the article, we've had enough debate elsewhere. I'll simply say this: when top marginal rates were confiscatory, taxpayers engaged in numerous business activities whose sole purpose was to shelter income.

That's true. People used to figure out ways to get out of paying 70% or 90% income tax rates. Now they do the exact same thing to get out of paying 36% income tax rates. In a world where 10% is considered an excellent investment, they will do it at basically any income tax rate.

John continued
Not surprisingly, the share of taxes paid by those with the highest incomes rose.

That's sort of true! And by that logic we should have a 0.1% tax rate so that we have 100% tax participation and no actual tax revenue. Success!

John finished
But that's irrelevant to the politics of envy.

The politics of every dime of productivity increase by working Americans in the last 15+ years going to the top 1%? That's really your definition of "envy?" It's actually worse than that seeing as wages relative to inflation have actually decreased in that amount of time for middle class Americans so the 1%ers are taking all the productivity gains PLUS the inflationary gains.

Of course to someone who believes in the Just World Fallacy it's a lot easier to write that all off to "envy" instead of identifying a structural flaw in our economic and social models. The Greatest Generation's success was in no small way grounded in robust government programs, a high minimum wage and strong union participation...all things which are completely ignored in the current debate.

Trad climber
Bay Area
May 10, 2014 - 02:19pm PT
you are absolutely correct.
Of course no one dared call the 2008 meltdown a Depression.
Although in fact it severely depressed the economies of all the western democracies, Japan, Australia.
We're just now coming out of it, after 5 years of Obama.
The Great Depression lasted 5 years before significant recovery started. Largely thanks to FDR's "liberal" New Deal.

A brief history of 30 miles Skyline Blvd in the Santa Cruz mts.
Started by a developer it was built southwards until it reached Hwy 9, about 1928 when thanks to the Great Depression the state ran out of money. In about 1932, New Deal money became available and it was cut through the most difficult terrain (past Castle Rock State Park) to Black Rd. Right past my place. The New Deal money dried up and the final 8 miles from Black Rd to Hwy 17 was never finished. It remains less than 2 lanes wide to this day.
Fast Forward to 2008. A much needed pavement re-surfacing is in progress on the southernmost 12 miles. State again runs out of money when the economy collapses. Work stops about 1 mile south of my place.
A few months later Obama creates the American Rehabilitation And Recovery Act for "shovel ready projects" which the Republitards have maligned to this day. Within 6 months the remaining 10 miles is completed.
All the local Firesafe Councils which had shovel ready projects in 2008 (all approvals complete) finally got funding through ARRA money in 2011. My FSC finished our two projects last summer. Area wide, probably 35 miles of overgrown roadways were cleared.
My FSC's 2 projects spent over $150K on 5 miles. All of it locally.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
May 10, 2014 - 03:43pm PT
The 2008 "meltdown" was a culmination of bad gov't policy coupled with bank greed. The housing meltdown was created by Congress, and the banks tried to take advantage of this in the short-term.

Mortagage-backed securities. This is what happens when gov't gets involved in the private-sector.

As for the banks involved? They should've been allowed to crash. You bet poorly, you lose. No gov't bailouts.

Same for the homeowners. No bailouts.

Look where we are now.

Trad climber
May 10, 2014 - 04:49pm PT
Who can tell us what has been done by our esteemed leaders (Obama, Congress, the Fed, the FDIC, the SEC, etc.) to prevent a 2008 meltdown from happening again?

It's not complicated.

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
May 10, 2014 - 05:05pm PT
Somewhat rebalanced mortgage lending practices. Still too much bank finance allowed in wallstreet speculation.

Both were lessons learned in the great depression and forgotten by the 90's. Not quite relearned again.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
May 10, 2014 - 05:13pm PT
Mortagage-backed securities. This is what happens when gov't gets involved in the private-sector.

More brainless opinion from blurring.

Feel free to explain the logic.

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
May 10, 2014 - 05:17pm PT
I think he meant to say this is what happens when government get involved in unwise relaxed regulations. Otherwise what he said wouldn't make sense.. and bluering is a smart guy.. right?
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
May 10, 2014 - 05:22pm PT
No matter how you try to decipher Blues words, he seems to indicate that the markets perform better without involvement by government, which means the less regulation the better.

Which is completely contradictory to the historical run up to the the 2008 financial crisis!

I really think he needs to explain his logic with precision, but I won't be holding my breath considering his demonstrable aversion to explaining any of his opinion.

Trad climber
Bay Area
May 10, 2014 - 05:30pm PT
Who was President for the 8 years culminating in 2008? After all he had veto power over Congress. Appointed the Fed chairman and Secretary of Treasury.
Who inherited a budget surplus from a Democratic President and left us with a big deficit?
Gave the wealthy more tax cuts.
Budgeted spending of 19.9% of GDP with tax receipts of 17.9%
...increased government spending more than any predecessor since Lyndon B. Johnson
US public debt increased from $145 billion/1.4% of GDP to $962 billion/6.8% of GDP.
In 2003 450 economists signed a letter opposing tax cuts:
Overcapacity, corporate scandals, and uncertainty have and will continue to weigh down the economy.

The tax cut plan proposed by President Bush is not the answer to these problems. Regardless of how one views the specifics of the Bush plan, there is wide agreement that its purpose is a permanent change in the tax structure and not the creation of jobs and growth in the near-term.
trickle down economics again. Obviously the President's cabal hadn't learned anything from the 80's. He implemented the tax cuts.
Bob D'A

Trad climber
Taos, NM
Topic Author's Reply - May 10, 2014 - 05:58pm PT
"Who can tell us what has been done by our esteemed leaders (Obama, Congress, the Fed, the FDIC, the SEC, etc.) to prevent a 2008 meltdown from happening again?"

I can tell you who has, Obama.

And he is still trying.

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
May 10, 2014 - 06:07pm PT
Mortagage-backed securities. This is what happens when gov't gets involved in the private-sector.

More brainless opinion from blurring.

Feel free to explain the logic.

that was funny, indeed

Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
May 10, 2014 - 06:19pm PT
I know and have interviewed some billiionaires. They do not give a sh#t about the common person, they only contribute to charities for the tax write-off and the PR. These people do not care, at all. There may be a handful that do, but for the most part the ultra rich just laugh at us.

Challenge me on this one, any Supertopian. You will lose.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
May 10, 2014 - 06:48pm PT
I still can't get over Blue rings gall in his last post. Does he really think we will accept his pronouncement as fact, no matter how ridiculous the statement?

Well yeah, he does. That is pretty much how guys like him think. If you present a confident and forthright appearance ( you know, like Sarah Palin or Herman Cain) then certainly you should be considered a force to be reckoned with.... not a farce!

but he never explains anything. Ward Trotter occasionally likes to try however so maybe he can take a stab at his marxist du jour:

After the Great Depression, inequality decreased in America, as New Deal investment and education programs, government intervention in wages, the rise of unions and other factors worked to give many more people a chance for success. Inequality reached its lowest ebb between 1950 and 1980. If you were looking at the U.S. during that time, it seemed like a pretty egalitarian place to be (though blacks, Hispanics, and many women would disagree).

As Piketty notes, people like Milton Friedman, an academic economist, were doing rather well in the economy, likely sitting in the top 10 per cent income level, and to them, the economy appeared to be doing just fine and rewarding talents and merits very nicely. But the Friedmans weren't paying enough attention to how the folks on the rungs above them, particularly the one per cent and even more so the 0.01 per cent, were beginning to climb into the stratosphere. The people doing that climbing were mostly not academic economists, or lawyers, or doctors. They were managers of large firms who had begun to award themselves very prodigious salaries.

This phenomenon really got going after 1980, when wealth started flowing in vast quantities from the bottom 90 per cent of the population to the top 10 per cent. By 1987, Ayn Rand acolyte Alan Greenspan had taken over as head of the Federal Reserve, and free market fever was unleashed upon America. People in U.S. business schools started reading Ayn Rand's kooky novels as if they were serious economic treatises and hailing the free market as the only path to progress. John Galt, the hero of Atlas Shrugged (1957), captured the imaginations of young students like Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who worshipped Galt as a superman who could rise to the top through his vision, merit and heroic efforts. Galt became the prototype of the kind of "supermanager" these business schools were supposed to crank out.
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