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Old 28-10-2010, 02:48 PM   #1
PrairieBoyinExile
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Default Why do people vote contrary to their own self-interest?

In his recent book, After Shock, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich argues that the economic downward mobility of American workers, has "to do with power...income and wealth in fewer hands." Apparently, many working class Americans want to keep it that way.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/myriam..._b_775495.html

I was fascinated by this article, and I think it's an accurate reflection of the situation in Canada as well and Alberta provincial politics in particular. Here the working class vote in large numbers for the PCs, who seem intent on furthering the interests of elites at the expense of everyone else. In the US they found people drastically underestimated the level of income inequality in society, preventing them from advocating for reform.
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Old 28-10-2010, 02:51 PM   #2
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Education.
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Old 28-10-2010, 02:59 PM   #3
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It's a pretty stupid/simplistic article. Voting against taxing somebody else is not neccesarily a vote against self interest, not taxing someone else might result in more jobs as an example, or not having wealthy people invest or move overseas instead of at home.
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Old 28-10-2010, 03:08 PM   #4
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^ moa its a vey well docummented fact esp in the USA that the rich are getting richer while the middle clase incomes are not increasing and or slipping.
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Old 28-10-2010, 03:12 PM   #5
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Usually there is a social order in life. The very rich, the very poor with the majority being middle class income earners in the middle. Now, if the middle class got richer through higher wages and the lower income earners got a raise considerable higher than the minimum wage we would be paying $10 for a dozen eggs. It would not matter what party was in power that's how the economy would work. The more money out there the more you are going to pay for goods.
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Old 28-10-2010, 03:20 PM   #6
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It's a pretty stupid/simplistic article. Voting against taxing somebody else is not neccesarily a vote against self interest, not taxing someone else might result in more jobs as an example, or not having wealthy people invest or move overseas instead of at home.
Clearly you are more of an authority on this issue than Robert Reich, a professor of public policy at UC Berkeley, former professor at Harvard and US Secretary of Labor. Where did you earn your doctorate again?
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Old 28-10-2010, 03:21 PM   #7
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^ moa its a vey well docummented fact esp in the USA that the rich are getting richer while the middle clase incomes are not increasing and or slipping.
I agree - I think the corporate tax system in particular, is part of the reason, if taxes were lower this phenomenon might start changing as people would invest more in the US instead of elsewhere.
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Old 28-10-2010, 03:22 PM   #8
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Clearly you are more of an authority on this issue than Robert Reich, a professor of public policy at UC Berkeley, former professor at Harvard and US Secretary of Labor. Where did you earn your doctorate again?
Is his in economics / tax policy? I don't think so, so he's speaking about something he doesn't understand (at least, with respect to his degree / education). There are plenty of economists who are left wing, plenty who are right wing. Having a degree from a fancy university doesn't make you right or wrong.

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Old 28-10-2010, 03:24 PM   #9
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^ moa its a vey well docummented fact esp in the USA that the rich are getting richer while the middle clase incomes are not increasing and or slipping.
I agree - I think the corporate tax system in particular, is part of the reason, if taxes were lower this phenomenon might start changing as people would invest more in the US instead of elsewhere.
We nweed to start raising wages/taxes for the working class and increase taxes for teh top 10%.

We also need to start paying the working class more.
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Old 28-10-2010, 03:26 PM   #10
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^The more people are paid the more the goods go up. As for the increasing of taxes for the wealthiest, good idea. I am sure a multimillionaire making thousands of dollars interest on the stock market could afford to pay more.
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Old 28-10-2010, 03:27 PM   #11
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^ I am sure a multimillionaire making thousands of dollars interest on the stock market could afford to pay more.
They can afford to take or invest their money elsewhere as well. The whole "lets tax them because they are sucessful" mindset, is the exact opposite of the American Dream.
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Old 28-10-2010, 03:29 PM   #12
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Clearly you are more of an authority on this issue than Robert Reich, a professor of public policy at UC Berkeley, former professor at Harvard and US Secretary of Labor. Where did you earn your doctorate again?
Is his in economics / tax policy? I don't think so, so he's speaking about something he doesn't understand (at least, with respect to his degree / education). There are plenty of economists who are left wing, plenty who are right wing. Having a degree from a fancy university doesn't make you right or wrong.
Studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, followed by a doctorate in Law. What qualifications do you have that make you more qualified to express an opinion than Mr. Reich? I'm a bit surprised that having an advanced degree and being a professor in a given discipline doesn't give you authority on it.
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Old 28-10-2010, 03:32 PM   #13
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In his recent book, After Shock, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich argues that the economic downward mobility of American workers, has "to do with power...income and wealth in fewer hands." Apparently, many working class Americans want to keep it that way.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/myriam..._b_775495.html

I was fascinated by this article, and I think it's an accurate reflection of the situation in Canada as well and Alberta provincial politics in particular. Here the working class vote in large numbers for the PCs, who seem intent on furthering the interests of elites at the expense of everyone else. In the US they found people drastically underestimated the level of income inequality in society, preventing them from advocating for reform.
Supposed human rationality is observably the Achilles heel of all social thinking. That, and people believe lies because the lie is less ugly than the truth.
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Old 28-10-2010, 03:34 PM   #14
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^The more people are paid the more the goods go up. As for the increasing of taxes for the wealthiest, good idea. I am sure a multimillionaire making thousands of dollars interest on the stock market could afford to pay more.
Not 100% the people at teh top could take a pay cut and spread taht savingss around.
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Old 28-10-2010, 03:36 PM   #15
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Studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, followed by a doctorate in Law. What qualifications do you have that make you more qualified to express an opinion than Mr. Reich? I'm a bit surprised that having an advanced degree and being a professor in a given discipline doesn't give you authority on it.
Then why did you post it if we have to agree with it if we don't have the same degree from the same universities? I have a masters degree in finance, but it isn't relevant to whether or not I agree with him. You might believe his opinion that voting for the American Dream is not in self interest, I don't.

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Old 28-10-2010, 03:38 PM   #16
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^ I am sure a multimillionaire making thousands of dollars interest on the stock market could afford to pay more.
They can afford to take or invest their money elsewhere as well. The whole "lets tax them because they are successful" mindset, is the exact opposite of the American Dream.
The American Dream used to be about having a steady job, buying your own home, having a couple of kids (preferably a boy and girl) and having enough money to retire. I think that is what Americans have been saying for at least the last 60 years. If you get obscenely rich while doing that that's fine. Paying taxes is a collective thing supposedly going towards the betterment of society be it social programs, infrastructure, health care etc: If they collect taxes from the poor the rich should be taxed accordingly.
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Old 28-10-2010, 03:38 PM   #17
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^The more people are paid the more the goods go up. As for the increasing of taxes for the wealthiest, good idea. I am sure a multimillionaire making thousands of dollars interest on the stock market could afford to pay more.
This is true for goods that are scarce. The example of eggs that you used would not really apply because we can easily produce more eggs to satisfy demand. This article is advocating increasing taxes for the rich, not anyone else (incomes >250k). In the US this is only a few % of the population and an even smaller % in Canada.

This article is advocating a wealth distribution more in line with Scandinavia (they use the example of Sweden) which is superior to North America in almost every measure of quality of life and also has one of the most competitive economies in the world.
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Old 28-10-2010, 03:40 PM   #18
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Canadians are far too greedy and hostile to be good Swedes.




Oh, you're offended?
Why be? ...That's exactly what RealCanadians like DonCherry preach makes us great.... not like those dirty chicken-Swedes.... If you must be greedy and hostile, be proud!
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Old 28-10-2010, 03:42 PM   #19
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Studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, followed by a doctorate in Law. What qualifications do you have that make you more qualified to express an opinion than Mr. Reich? I'm a bit surprised that having an advanced degree and being a professor in a given discipline doesn't give you authority on it.
Then why did you post it if we have to agree with it if we don't have the same degree from the same universities? I have a masters degree in finance, but it isn't relevant to whether or not I agree with him. You might believe his opinion that voting against the American Dream is not in self interest, I don't.
I'm not at all saying you have to agree with it, but you called the article stupid and simplistic rather than merely disagreeing. I question your authority in calling it stupid when you don't appear to have any expertise in economics or public policy.
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Old 28-10-2010, 03:42 PM   #20
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abaka.. when did I start liking you ?! LOL..

You have some very insightful posts latley.
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Old 28-10-2010, 03:45 PM   #21
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I'm not at all saying you have to agree with it, but you called the article stupid and simplistic rather than merely disagreeing.
I still think it is. IMO its elitest to claim that people are voting against their self interest - that they are to stupid to realize that they are doing the wrong thing (as the author seems to think). I dislike like the viewpoint expressed in the article, and personally, think it is stupid (note - I don't know if the author is correctly quoting Mr Reich, you seem to think he wrote this article, which is not the case).

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Old 28-10-2010, 04:04 PM   #22
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I'm not at all saying you have to agree with it, but you called the article stupid and simplistic rather than merely disagreeing.
I still think it is. IMO its elitest to claim that people are voting against their self interest - that they are to stupid to realize that they are doing the wrong thing (as the author seems to think). I dislike like the viewpoint expressed in the article, and personally, think it is stupid.
It doesn't sound like you read the article. Let me break it down:

- Almost everyone preferred an income distribution like Sweden's over America's.
- Research showed Americans to be unaware of the level of income inequality in their country. They actually thought the graph representing Sweden was America.
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Old 28-10-2010, 04:05 PM   #23
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^The more people are paid the more the goods go up. As for the increasing of taxes for the wealthiest, good idea. I am sure a multimillionaire making thousands of dollars interest on the stock market could afford to pay more.
This is true for goods that are scarce. The example of eggs that you used would not really apply because we can easily produce more eggs to satisfy demand. This article is advocating increasing taxes for the rich, not anyone else (incomes >250k). In the US this is only a few % of the population and an even smaller % in Canada.

This article is advocating a wealth distribution more in line with Scandinavia (they use the example of Sweden) which is superior to North America in almost every measure of quality of life and also has one of the most competitive economies in the world.
Produce more eggs to meet the demand. To produce more eggs the farmer would have to buy more hens. More hens would mean paying some one to build a bigger barn. More hens = more feed. Produce more eggs so the public will not have to pay more for them. Who pays the farmer for his outlay (pardon the pun).?
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Old 28-10-2010, 04:12 PM   #24
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[ Almost everyone preferred an income distribution like Sweden's over America's.
- Research showed Americans to be unaware of the level of income inequality in their country.
On point 1, I lived in Scandinavia and I didn't. You will find many Scandinavians who have chosen to live in North America also.

As to being unaware of inequality, that doesn't mean they should vote for Robin Hood logic tax increases, many believe it is better to make the pie bigger, rather than fight over a bigger share of the pie. Even if inequality is growing, it isn't neccesarily bad if the bottom or middle are getting richer than they would in a more equal society (like Cuba). This quote below, is IMO a totally biased conclusion:

Quote:
This leaves about 33 percent voting against their self-interest -- higher taxes on the wealthiest would reduce the national debt, facilitate spending on levies, bridges, schools, healthc are, and create jobs. Similarly, an AP-GfK poll found that in the upcoming election, 58 percent of white working class Americans favor Republicans who opposed rescinding the Bush tax cut, and fought every Democratic bill benefiting low income earners including extending unemployment benefits.
Where is the proof for example that higher taxes reduce the national debt? Look at Alberta, we have the lowest taxes in Canada, but the lowest provincial debt. It's just simplistic nonsense.

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Old 28-10-2010, 04:14 PM   #25
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Produce more eggs to meet the demand. To produce more eggs the farmer would have to buy more hens. More hens would mean paying some one to build a bigger barn. More hens = more feed. Produce more eggs so the public will not have to pay more for them. Who pays the farmer for his outlay (pardon the pun).?
The bigger operation would create economies of scale. Are you suggesting that every time production goes up, prices have to go up?
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Old 28-10-2010, 04:20 PM   #26
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[ Almost everyone preferred an income distribution like Sweden's over America's.
- Research showed Americans to be unaware of the level of income inequality in their country.
On point 1, I lived in Scandinavia and I didn't. You will find many Scandinavians who have chosen to live in North America also.

As to being unaware of inequality, that doesn't mean they should vote for Robin Hood logic tax increases, many believe it is better to make the pie bigger, rather than fight over a bigger share of the pie. This quote below, is IMO a totally biased conclusion:

Quote:
This leaves about 33 percent voting against their self-interest -- higher taxes on the wealthiest would reduce the national debt, facilitate spending on levies, bridges, schools, healthc are, and create jobs. Similarly, an AP-GfK poll found that in the upcoming election, 58 percent of white working class Americans favor Republicans who opposed rescinding the Bush tax cut, and fought every Democratic bill benefiting low income earners including extending unemployment benefits.
You didn't prefer it because you're clearly more concerned with your own well-being than the greater good. You've expressed this over and over again. How is the pie bigger in North America? Compare two oil-rich jurisdictions, Alberta and Norway. Norway is more prosperous.

Scandinavians moved here early in the last century in great numbers, but not recently. When I was in Sweden I got the impression they almost pity North America.
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Old 28-10-2010, 04:24 PM   #27
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You didn't prefer it because you're clearly more concerned with your own well-being than the greater good. You've expressed this over and over again. How is the pie bigger in North America? Compare two oil-rich jurisdictions, Alberta and Norway. Norway is more prosperous.
If Norway were part of the EU (something they chose not to join knowing it would result in sharing the oil wealth), or if Alberta were not in Canada (i.e. we had saved all those equalization transfers to Quebec), then I would argue we would be about the same (although noting that Norway has been around a lot longer to build up their industry).

It's about growing the pie, not worrying that someone else is doing better than you or I are. Because the US has chosen a different model than Sweden, doesn't make its citizens stupid, or tricked ("voting against their self interest"), it just means they are different, that they value success more, which they have every right to choose at the polls just like Albertans have. Saying that's against self interest, fails to take into account what they believe their self interests to be, I'm willing to bet most Americans would not be more happy living in Sweden, even if you feel otherwise.

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Old 28-10-2010, 04:26 PM   #28
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Produce more eggs to meet the demand. To produce more eggs the farmer would have to buy more hens. More hens would mean paying some one to build a bigger barn. More hens = more feed. Produce more eggs so the public will not have to pay more for them. Who pays the farmer for his outlay (pardon the pun).?
The bigger operation would create economies of scale. Are you suggesting that every time production goes up, prices have to go up?
Not necessarily but it stands to reason if you up production your using more resources be it, water, electricity, gas, people power. None of that is free. Where do you get the money from to pay for extra resources?.
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Old 28-10-2010, 04:30 PM   #29
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Not necessarily but it stands to reason if you up production your using more resources be it, water, electricity, gas, people power. None of that is free. Where do you get the money from to pay for extra resources?.
So by your logic a farmer would want to sell as little as possible because otherwise his costs are too high? I'm not saying the potential for egg production is unlimited, but an increase in wealth for the working class would result in a fairly modest increase in demand for eggs as eggs are already relatively affordable. Additional production would be able to meet the modest increase in demand without increasing prices (all other things being equal).
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Old 28-10-2010, 04:33 PM   #30
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It's about growing the pie, not worrying that someone else is doing better than you or I are. Because the US has chosen a different model than Sweden, doesn't make its citizens stupid, or tricked ("voting against their self interest"), it just means they are different, that they value success more, which they have every right to choose at the polls just like Albertans have. Saying that's against self interest, fails to take into account what they believe their self interests to be, I'm willing to bet most Americans would not be more happy living in Sweden, even if you feel otherwise.
I guess it depends on what your measure of success is. Most rational people would say it's a combination of quality of life measures, on which Sweden outperforms the US every time. If you think the measure of success is the number or proportion of billionaires in the population, the US would win. If they "value success more" it also means they value poverty more as their system has a far higher incidence of this.
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Old 28-10-2010, 04:37 PM   #31
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I guess it depends on what your measure of success is. Most rational people would say it's a combination of quality of life measures, on which Sweden outperforms the US every time.
I think a lot of Americans value free enterprise, the dream that anyone can be a billionaire or president (even a black man), the dream that you can come from anywhere the world and succeed in America (something I can assure you is not the case in Sweden, having seen how non-christian immigrants are treated in Scandinavia by locals). This free enterprise model has IMO resulted in the U.S. being the largest economy in the world, and the worlds only remaining military superpower. All countries have different value systems that build up over time. To try and say one is more rational, or one is better than another when we are comparing democracies, is IMO wrong.

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Old 28-10-2010, 04:37 PM   #32
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Not necessarily but it stands to reason if you up production your using more resources be it, water, electricity, gas, people power. None of that is free. Where do you get the money from to pay for extra resources?.
So by your logic a farmer would want to sell as little as possible because otherwise his costs are too high? I'm not saying the potential for egg production is unlimited, but an increase in wealth for the working class would result in a fairly modest increase in demand for eggs as eggs are already relatively affordable. Additional production would be able to meet the modest increase in demand without increasing prices (all other things being equal).
I think your logic is that if producers produce and they run into extra costs by doing this they swallow that loss. How long will they stay in business doing that?. Supply and demand buddy, supply and demand.
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Old 28-10-2010, 04:38 PM   #33
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^^^ reminds me of the Simpsons episode when they were on the Japanese gameshow:

"American game shows reward knowledge. Japanese game shows punish ignorance"
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Old 28-10-2010, 04:41 PM   #34
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Usually there is a social order in life. The very rich, the very poor with the majority being middle class income earners in the middle. Now, if the middle class got richer through higher wages and the lower income earners got a raise considerable higher than the minimum wage we would be paying $10 for a dozen eggs. It would not matter what party was in power that's how the economy would work. The more money out there the more you are going to pay for goods.
Sorry, but no, that's not the issue being discussed. It's about wealth distribution, and not how much wealth there is in general. People have very little idea how concentrated wealth has become in the US. This was recently pointed out in an article published here: http://www.people.hbs.edu/mnorton/no...in%20press.pdf

Go to page 12 of the pdf. It shows that most Americans think their wealth is far more equitably distributed than it actually is, and even then, they feel it should be even more equitably distributed. Basically, their "ideal" is the equivalent of Sweden, which most would label as some sort of socialist hell hole.

The top quintile (20%) of the American population controls over 80% of the wealth.

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They can afford to take or invest their money elsewhere as well. The whole "lets tax them because they are sucessful" mindset, is the exact opposite of the American Dream.
The American Dream is a moving target. When it was first created, it only applied to white males and included a plantation with a bunch of slaves.

The American Dream these days is taken to mean the ability to move up in society through hard work, education, and the like. But you know what correlates most strongly with wealth? Being born in to wealth. The US had far more social mobility in the past than it does today, despite taxes on the wealthy being much, much lower now than they were before. I wonder why that could be?

The big concern with wealth concentration is that societies in the past have had a way of addressing it; typically in some sort of revolution, civil war, or genocide. It's an issue that needs to be addressed.

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Originally Posted by moahunter
I still think it is. IMO its elitest to claim that people are voting against their self interest - that they are to stupid to realize that they are doing the wrong thing (as the author seems to think). I dislike like the viewpoint expressed in the article, and personally, think it is stupid (note - I don't know if the author is correctly quoting Mr Reich, you seem to think he wrote this article, which is not the case).
The comment about self-interest is relating to a specific policy decision the Obama administration is dealing with right now: whether or not to extend the tax cuts George W. brought in for the wealthy (those earning over 250k a year). People earning that much money are in the top 10% of earners in the US, yet there's widespread support for extending the tax cut, despite the current fiscal predicament the US is faced with, and the trillions of dollars extended the tax cut will cost in lost government revenue.

People are for extending the cut, despite the fact that the vast majority of them will never make enough money to qualify for it. In return, their government will have to cut other programs to make up for the revenue shortfall. Programs that they use. If that's not the definition of working against their own self interest, I don't know what is.

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Originally Posted by moahunter
Even if inequality is growing, it isn't neccesarily bad if the bottom or middle are getting richer than they would in a more equal society (like Cuba).
The "middle" has roughly tread water over the past 30 years. The bottom quintile has gotten poorer in the US. The top quintile has seen their share of wealth distribution rise significantly. Reagonomics ("a rising tide raises all boats") has long been debunked as total BS.

No one is calling for a return to the days of 80-90% tax rates for the rich. But the past 30 years in the US has seen a continual reduction in the rates paid by the wealthiest based upon the premise it would be good for everyone, and it's pretty obvious given the drastic changes in wealth distribution that's absolutely not the case at all.

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(something they chose not to join knowing it would result in sharing the oil wealth)
Source for your claim, please.

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Old 28-10-2010, 04:44 PM   #35
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People are for extending the cut, despite the fact that the vast majority of them will never make enough money to qualify for it. In return, their government will have to cut other programs to make up for the revenue shortfall. Programs that they use. If that's not the definition of working against their own self interest, I don't know what is.
That's your opinion. Its not mine, and you can't prove it to be true. I think the US is already way overtaxed in respect of income and corporate taxes, and that ending these tax cuts (which is really a tax rise, never a smart thing in a recession) would long term cost more than it will benefit. Due to the deficit, I think at some point as the economy recovers the U.S. may have to swallow a GST like Canada did, but that's another matter.

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Old 28-10-2010, 04:50 PM   #36
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I think to get wealth distribution back in the USA would meen having to go back to the wild west and starting all over again.
People with massive wealth are reluctant to give it up. People with less wealth will just complain about it. People with economic degrees are going to write articles about it. Most people in the USA will just get on with their lives and not give a rats.
Only in America.
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Old 28-10-2010, 05:00 PM   #37
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I can't prove what to be true? The Bush tax cut extension will cost the US 3.9 trillion dollars over the next 10 years. In the absence of another source of revenue, spending on programs will have to be cut. It applies to less than 10% of the US population, yet far more than that support it. What exactly is not true or lacking factual information in my statement?

There is something going very wrong in the American economy, and it has been for the past several decades (and especially the past 20 years): http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesam...er/wealth.html

edit: took out graphs, but please, go look at them in that link

It's kind of funny, because most people would look back at the 1950's and 60's as the pinnacle of the "American Dream", when tax rates on the extremely wealthy were much, much higher and large gains in income were being realized by the middle and lower classes. Yet those same people vociferously oppose any increase in tax rates for income brackets they'll likely never achieve, just in case one day they do.

Again, if that's not working against your own self interest, I really don't know what is.

Heck, even Alan Greenspan has recognized that US wealth distribution patterns and trends are very, very concerning and require addressing: http://www.tompaine.com/articles/200...galitarian.php

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Old 28-10-2010, 05:42 PM   #38
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I still think it is. IMO its elitest to claim that people are voting against their self interest - that they are to stupid to realize that they are doing the wrong thing (as the author seems to think). I dislike like the viewpoint expressed in the article, and personally, think it is stupid (note - I don't know if the author is correctly quoting Mr Reich, you seem to think he wrote this article, which is not the case).
Where did I say Reich wrote the article? The article is quoting the premise of his book and agreeing with it.

"Instead, as Reich points out "rich and powerful think tanks, books, media, ads" were designed to convince Americans that free markets "know best" and operate in the interest of working people."
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Old 28-10-2010, 05:48 PM   #39
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I think your logic is that if producers produce and they run into extra costs by doing this they swallow that loss. How long will they stay in business doing that?. Supply and demand buddy, supply and demand.
You're assuming they'll run into extra costs, when their costs could just as easily drop due to economies of scale. I think what I ultimately take issue with is your statement that eggs will cost $10 a carton if income equality improves. I just don't think there is any evidence to support this.
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Old 28-10-2010, 06:01 PM   #40
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No one is calling for a return to the days of 80-90% tax rates for the rich. But the past 30 years in the US has seen a continual reduction in the rates paid by the wealthiest based upon the premise it would be good for everyone, and it's pretty obvious given the drastic changes in wealth distribution that's absolutely not the case at all.
Agreed, the notion of trickle-down economics has been completely discredited. I would argue capitalism is trickle-up economics. If the working class become more wealthy their spending goes up, further enriching the upper classes who own the companies that produce consumer goods. In contrast, when the rich get richer their spending doesn't increase much, so the benefit to the overall economy is less significant.
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Old 28-10-2010, 06:03 PM   #41
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I can't prove what to be true? The Bush tax cut extension will cost the US 3.9 trillion dollars over the next 10 years.
But what is the cost in GDP growth? How many of that top 10% will invest less in the economy? What type of impact will a tax increase have on the recession (and it is a tax increase compared to last year)? What is the impact over 20 years, or 30 years?

It's an interesting situation, because I guess in theory, Obama can veto any legislation to extend the tax cuts (although I'm not sure).

Here's a thought as a counter to the thesis of the article. Would a billionare who votes for a left wing government and higher taxes, be considered to be voting against their self interest? I guess the answer is automatically "yes" if you assume that people determine their self interest by how much tax they pay next year. I don't see it that way though, my father was poor and conservative. I don't think that makes him irational, anymore than I think someone who is rich and socialist is. Following what you believe when you vote, is IMO following your self interest.
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Old 28-10-2010, 06:05 PM   #42
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You didn't prefer it because you're clearly more concerned with your own well-being than the greater good. You've expressed this over and over again. How is the pie bigger in North America? Compare two oil-rich jurisdictions, Alberta and Norway. Norway is more prosperous.
If Norway were part of the EU (something they chose not to join knowing it would result in sharing the oil wealth), or if Alberta were not in Canada (i.e. we had saved all those equalization transfers to Quebec), then I would argue we would be about the same (although noting that Norway has been around a lot longer to build up their industry).

It's about growing the pie, not worrying that someone else is doing better than you or I are. Because the US has chosen a different model than Sweden, doesn't make its citizens stupid, or tricked ("voting against their self interest"), it just means they are different, that they value success more, which they have every right to choose at the polls just like Albertans have. Saying that's against self interest, fails to take into account what they believe their self interests to be, I'm willing to bet most Americans would not be more happy living in Sweden, even if you feel otherwise.
reading this actually nearly made me sick.

By your logic it would be better to return to medival times, where most of the population was poor. Most of the wealth was held in the hands of nobility. People lived short and brutish lives. "Increasing the pie" did nothing for them when it came to the industrial revolution.


Only after the common people started demanding a bigger share of the pie for themselves, did things improve
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Old 28-10-2010, 06:05 PM   #43
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1) If I have $1,000,000, and am happy and feel I've earned that money fairly, why should I care that there are other people in the country who have $100,000,000? The average US citizen enjoys extremely low costs for food, housing, energy, and many many other consumer products. They have a vast array of consumer products to choose from. They can travel around the country easily on discount airlines.

The debate is whether you think income inequality is inherently wrong or not. I don't think it's wrong. If I have a good life, why do I care what somebody else has, assuming they earned their wealth in a productive and legal way?

2) Measures of "quality of life" are completely subjective. They pretend to be in some way superior to measures like GDP by including other factors but of course the choice of which factors is completely subjective. Some people may look at the fact that a higher % of Americans own homes vs. apartments, when compared to Europe, and think that this is a sign of a better quality of life. Similarly, they may look at lower taxes or higher vehicle ownership as a sign of a better quality of life.

3) Countries like Sweden (relatively small population, until recently almost 100% ethnically homogeneous) have been shown to be more accepting of pooling their resources in the form of taxes to advance the common good. They empathize more with their neighbours because their neighbours are almost identical to them. Countries that cover huge geographical areas, and who have a variety of different cultural and ethnic groups, may find that their goals and their neighbours' goals don't align and so may be less willing to support the 'common good'

4) The concept of the "American Dream" has evolved but the version we typically have in our minds is basically a version of the post-war era, when there were many well paying manufacturing jobs that allowed citizens to enjoy all the latest technological advances. Get real people. This era only happened because much of the world was either ruined by WWII or was isolated from the global economy due to tarriffs or due to the lack of communication technology. This era is over. Why do we still think that people working menial jobs with no education should have a great life?
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Old 28-10-2010, 06:06 PM   #44
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Agreed, the notion of trickle-down economics has been completely discredited. I would argue capitalism is trickle-up economics.
So capitalisim, i.e. being able to own things, is bad? So by your theory, North Korea should be the best place in the world to live? The USSR should have won the cold war? OK. I'm glad most Albertans don't feel that way.
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Old 28-10-2010, 06:06 PM   #45
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Here's a thought as a counter to the thesis of the article. Would a billionare who votes for a left wing government and higher taxes, be considered to be voting against their self interest? I guess the answer is automatically "yes" if you assume that people determine their self interest by how much tax they pay next year. I don't see it that way though, my father was poor and conservative. I don't think that makes him irational, anymore than I think someone who is rich and socialist is. Following what you believe when you vote, is IMO following your self interest.
No. The smart billionaire will realize that a larger economy will benefit him.
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Old 28-10-2010, 06:08 PM   #46
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Agreed, the notion of trickle-down economics has been completely discredited. I would argue capitalism is trickle-up economics.
So capitalisim, i.e. being able to own things, is bad? So by your theory, North Korea should be the best place in the world to live? The USSR should have won the cold war? OK. I'm glad most Albertans don't feel that way.
Trickle down from the rich is very ineffective at growing the economy.

If we can empower the middle class, the effects of that will trickle down to far greater benefit than the wealth of the rich trickleing down.
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Old 28-10-2010, 06:09 PM   #47
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reading this actually nearly made me sick.

By your logic it would be better to return to medival times, where most of the population was poor. Most of the wealth was held in the hands of nobility. People lived short and brutish lives. "Increasing the pie" did nothing for them when it came to the industrial revolution.


Only after the common people started demanding a bigger share of the pie for themselves, did things improve
I totally disagree, but i guess you know that. I'd rather be poor in the U.S. earning $30,000 per year, but hugely inequatible compared to the billioinare in the next suburb, than poor in Cuba earning $1,000 per year, but making almost as much as a doctor. Equality does not equal happy, but living in a society where you are rewarded for your efforts and have a resonable salary and cost of living, even if it isn't as great as somebody else, IMO, for me anyway, does.
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Old 28-10-2010, 06:10 PM   #48
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Moahunter, your "poor father" would undoubtedly had a higher quality of life if Canada were more left wing.... He would have enjoyed support that would have perhaps allowed him to go to school, and then become NOT poor...
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Old 28-10-2010, 06:11 PM   #49
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reading this actually nearly made me sick.

By your logic it would be better to return to medival times, where most of the population was poor. Most of the wealth was held in the hands of nobility. People lived short and brutish lives. "Increasing the pie" did nothing for them when it came to the industrial revolution.


Only after the common people started demanding a bigger share of the pie for themselves, did things improve
I totally disagree, but i guess you know that. I'd rather be poor in the U.S. earning $30,000 per year, but hugely inequatible compared to the billioinare in the next suburb, than poor in Cuba earning $1,000 per year, but making almost as much as a doctor. Equality does not equal happy, but living in a society where you are rewarded for your efforts, IMO, for me anyway, does.
How did the US get to the 30 000 mark though?

Because the middle class drove the economy. What creates a middle class?? The tax structures and government systems you despise.
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Old 28-10-2010, 06:12 PM   #50
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If you want to compare nations I'm afraid that comparing Cuba to the US is a bit of a joke. You should really compare 2 developed nations.

Would you prefer to make 30000 in the US or 30000 in Norway?
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Old 28-10-2010, 06:16 PM   #51
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Moahunter, your "poor father" would undoubtedly had a higher quality of life if Canada were more left wing.... He would have enjoyed support that would have perhaps allowed him to go to school, and then become NOT poor...
so you think he would have been happier then? So you think everyone should go to university, that we would live in perfect happiness then? I don't. My dad started his own business, he ultimatley failed, we ended up with little, but he enjoyed trying and had the freedom to make his own choices, rather than having a government decide for him.
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Old 28-10-2010, 06:18 PM   #52
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Would you prefer to make 30000 in the US or 30000 in Norway?
US, cost of living in Norway is much higher.
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Old 28-10-2010, 06:19 PM   #53
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Moahunter, your "poor father" would undoubtedly had a higher quality of life if Canada were more left wing.... He would have enjoyed support that would have perhaps allowed him to go to school, and then become NOT poor...
so you think he would have been happier then? So you think everyone should go to university, that we would live in Nirvana then? I don't. My dad started his own business, he ultimatley failed, but he enjoyed trying and had the freedom to make his own choices, rather than having a government decide for him.
Why on earth would the government decide his choices for him?? That came out of left-field.

And, I don't know if he would have been happier. But I can say that generally wealthier people are happier people.
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Old 28-10-2010, 06:22 PM   #54
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Would you prefer to make 30000 in the US or 30000 in Norway?
US, cost of living in Norway is much higher.
You would prefer low quality of life to one that is higher? By every measurable standard being poor in the States reduces significantly quality of life measurements.
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Old 28-10-2010, 06:22 PM   #55
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And, I don't know if he would have been happier. But I can say that generally wealthier people are happier people.
I don't agree at all, I think some very poor people are unhappy, those who can't sustain themselves, sure. But I have many friends who chose to spend their lives just drinking and not working hard, who I think are probably happier than me. So you would see them earn just as much as someone who does work hard, because that's more "equal"? If you scale it up to families perhaps over generations, that's what you are saying, this is what we do when we take from those who suceed and give to those who don't, we reward lack of effort, and the economy is smaller accordingly. Everyone ends up poorer, even if more "equal".

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Old 28-10-2010, 06:39 PM   #56
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Would you prefer to make 30000 in the US or 30000 in Norway?
US, cost of living in Norway is much higher.
You would prefer low quality of life to one that is higher? By every measurable standard being poor in the States reduces significantly quality of life measurements.
Honestly, I don't know how you could live in Norway for that much. Everything is so expensive there.
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Old 28-10-2010, 06:43 PM   #57
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Would you prefer to make 30000 in the US or 30000 in Norway?
US, cost of living in Norway is much higher.
You would prefer low quality of life to one that is higher? By every measurable standard being poor in the States reduces significantly quality of life measurements.
Honestly, I don't know how you could live in Norway for that much. Everything is so expensive there.
lol well yeah, if fact the government wouldn't LET you live for that much. At that income level, there are significant social and economic programs that you would qualify for.

Not to mention that I think 30000 is below the minimum wage in norway anyway?
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Old 28-10-2010, 06:50 PM   #58
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And, I don't know if he would have been happier. But I can say that generally wealthier people are happier people.
I don't agree at all, I think some very poor people are unhappy, those who can't sustain themselves, sure. But I have many friends who chose to spend their lives just drinking and not working hard, who I think are probably happier than me. So you would see them earn just as much as someone who does work hard, because that's more "equal"? If you scale it up to families perhaps over generations, that's what you are saying, this is what we do when we take from those who suceed and give to those who don't, we reward lack of effort, and the economy is smaller accordingly. Everyone ends up poorer, even if more "equal".
Look at Australia, the minimum wage is 20 something per hour. People are free to enter into a career they enjoy and not have to worry 24h a day about scrapping together ends meet. The economy benefits from the additional spending power of the people.

You seem to wish poverty onto others, because you perceive them as less hard-working.

I believe in every-man for himself. Taken to its' logical conclusion, that means that poor people should advocate for more services for them. Middle class should argue for more for them, and so should the rich. It then should be up to the government to decide who gets what.
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Old 28-10-2010, 06:52 PM   #59
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...Ignorance and fear of change. Also after 40 years Albertans are likely suffering some form of collective Stockholm Syndrom.
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Old 28-10-2010, 06:54 PM   #60
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One last point Moahunter,

Why do you think that greater income equality would shrink the economy?

Think about it, rich people dont SPEND. Middle class and Poor spend almost all of their income. By the trickle down effect, having a greater share of the income to these groups should stimulate the economy more, creating a bigger economy.
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Old 28-10-2010, 06:55 PM   #61
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Why do you think that greater income equality
Why do you think greater income inequality means that people at the bottom are poorer than if there is more equality? I don't think equality matters at all, I think what matters is that people have a reasonable standard of living and the opportunity to acheive what it is they want. Artificial measures to take from some people to give to others, rather than allowing people to acheive their own imrpovements, are just that, artificial. With more robin hood wealth redistribution we would end up a boring homogenious society (not to single the swedes out, but its not a place where you want to stand out as being different). We would still have homeless too, just like in Sweden (and no, being homeless in Sweden isn't better than being homeless in Canada).

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Old 28-10-2010, 07:06 PM   #62
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Why do you think that greater income equality
Why do you think greater income inequality means that people at the bottom are poorer than if there is more equality? I don't think equality matters at all, I think what matters is that people have a reasonable standard of living and the opportunity to acheive what it is they want. Artificial measures to take from some people to give to others, rather than allowing people to acheive their own imrpovements, are just that, artificial. With more robin hood wealth redistribution we would end up a boring homogenious society (not to single the swedes out, but its not a place where you want to stand out as being different). We would still have homeless too, just like in Sweden (and no, being homeless in Sweden isn't better than being homeless in Canada).
You did not even read my point.

You started arguing that it was economically negative, so I rebuttled that. Instead you respond by saying how it would socially be negative.

Feels like I'm talking in circles with you, never able to address the points, instead creating smoke screens
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Old 28-10-2010, 07:09 PM   #63
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^we aren't going to agree. There is quite a bit of evidence that countries that have lower tax rates, in the long term, grow their economy faster, which results in more wealth for everyone. Singapore is a good example of that. Whenever we increase taxes to take from a productive part of the economy, to redistribute to another in our infinite wisdom, there is a price to be paid in growth potential. That lower growth potential in itself then reduces the potential tax take. I'm not opposed to a role for government, there is an important one, and taxes are needed. But, punitive "they are rich so lets take some money off them to make our society more equal" attitudes just backfire.

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Old 28-10-2010, 07:09 PM   #64
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So, income equality means less total income is what you are saying.

What most would say is that total income remains the same but equality changes.

What I am saying is that greater income equality means greater total income.
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Old 28-10-2010, 07:12 PM   #65
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^we aren't going to agree. There is quite a bit of evidence that countries that have lower tax rates, in the long term, grow their economy faster, which results in more wealth for everyone. Singapore is a good example of that. Whenever we increase taxes to take from a productive part of the economy, to redistribute to another in our infinite wisdom, there is a price to be paid in growth. I'm not opposed to a role for government, there is an important one, and taxes are needed. But, punitive "they are rich so lets take some money off them" attitudes just backfire.
Too bad you make no effort to even try to imagine things from a different perspective.

There are bits of accuracy in every ideology. If you are able to think in an ideology different from your own you can see some of them and broaden your own knowledge.

Remaining stuck in one rigid philosophy really does you no good.
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Old 28-10-2010, 07:15 PM   #66
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So, income equality means less total income is what you are saying.

What most would say is that total income remains the same but equality changes.

What I am saying is that greater income equality means greater total income.
I can't agree with that. If I work hard and generate wealth, only to see the government tax me heavily or at some disproportionate rate, and give my money to somebody else, why would I want to work hard?

What moa is saying is, if you have a successfuly business (or entire sector of the economy), how can you justify taking money away from the success and diverting it to somewhere less successful? Isn't it better to leave the money to be re-invested in something already proven successful, that will likely generate even more wealth?
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Old 28-10-2010, 07:17 PM   #67
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So capitalisim, i.e. being able to own things, is bad? So by your theory, North Korea should be the best place in the world to live? The USSR should have won the cold war? OK. I'm glad most Albertans don't feel that way.
From what he said, that's a bit of a leap innit?
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Old 28-10-2010, 07:20 PM   #68
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I can't agree with that. If I work hard and generate wealth, only to see the government tax me heavily or at some disproportionate rate, and give my money to somebody else, why would I want to work hard?

What moa is saying is, if you have a successfuly business (or entire sector of the economy), how can you justify taking money away from the success and diverting it to somewhere less successful? Isn't it better to leave the money to be re-invested in something already proven successful, that will likely generate even more wealth?
I think you should be rewarded for your hard work first of all. I do not advocate a completely equal distribution of wealth simply because we need to retain the $ incentive.

I said this above: "Think about it, rich people dont SPEND. Middle class and Poor spend almost all of their income. By the trickle down effect, having a greater share of the income to these groups should stimulate the economy more, creating a bigger economy."

That is why I think more income equality is a good thing for the economy, AND for people's lives.

I also do not advocate industry subsidies. Idk where I ever said that.
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Old 28-10-2010, 07:22 PM   #69
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I can't agree with that. If I work hard and generate wealth, only to see the government tax me heavily or at some disproportionate rate, and give my money to somebody else, why would I want to work hard?

What moa is saying is, if you have a successfuly business (or entire sector of the economy), how can you justify taking money away from the success and diverting it to somewhere less successful? Isn't it better to leave the money to be re-invested in something already proven successful, that will likely generate even more wealth?
I think you should be rewarded for your hard work first of all. I do not advocate a completely equal distribution of wealth simply because we need to retain the $ incentive.

I said this above: "Think about it, rich people dont SPEND. Middle class and Poor spend almost all of their income. By the trickle down effect, having a greater share of the income to these groups should stimulate the economy more, creating a bigger economy."

That is why I think more income equality is a good thing for the economy, AND for people's lives.

I also do not advocate industry subsidies. Idk where I ever said that.
You never said anything about industry subsidies, that was me paraphrasing moahunter's comments about the perils of redistributing wealth.

Rich people don't spend at Canadian Tire or Sears or Costco. Instead, they "spend" their money by investing in companies. Rich people don't sit around hoarding bags of cash. Yeah they have a lot of assets but typically it's stocks or even more exotic stuff. In other words, they pump their money back into the economy.
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Old 28-10-2010, 07:25 PM   #70
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I can't agree with that. If I work hard and generate wealth, only to see the government tax me heavily or at some disproportionate rate, and give my money to somebody else, why would I want to work hard?

What moa is saying is, if you have a successfuly business (or entire sector of the economy), how can you justify taking money away from the success and diverting it to somewhere less successful? Isn't it better to leave the money to be re-invested in something already proven successful, that will likely generate even more wealth?
I think you should be rewarded for your hard work first of all. I do not advocate a completely equal distribution of wealth simply because we need to retain the $ incentive.

I said this above: "Think about it, rich people dont SPEND. Middle class and Poor spend almost all of their income. By the trickle down effect, having a greater share of the income to these groups should stimulate the economy more, creating a bigger economy."

That is why I think more income equality is a good thing for the economy, AND for people's lives.

I also do not advocate industry subsidies. Idk where I ever said that.
You never said anything about industry subsidies, that was me paraphrasing moahunter's comments about the perils of redistributing wealth.

Rich people don't spend at Canadian Tire or Sears or Costco. Instead, they "spend" their money by investing in companies. Rich people don't sit around hoarding bags of cash. Yeah they have a lot of assets but typically it's stocks or even more exotic stuff. In other words, they pump their money back into the economy.
I suppose that they do in that way, that is true.

But overall per dollar spent, it seems that it would be less of a direct stimulus. Do you see what I mean?
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Old 28-10-2010, 07:31 PM   #71
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I don't know, what results in a bigger stimulus, somebody buying a pair of jeans or somebody providing the funds for RIM to enter international markets? People going to the movies or Porter Airlines launching service from Toronto Island airport to Montreal, Ottawa, and now NYC, Chicago, Boston and maybe some other destinations I can't think of now?

Everybody hates the rich. It's not a net-zero game. The rich didn't get rich by taking money from the rest of us, they got rich by figuring out how to provide the rest of us with products and services that we're happy to pay money for. Somebody invents iPhone and gets rich. We get iPhone and we like it.
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Old 28-10-2010, 07:36 PM   #72
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The unfettered-market model is an abstraction that assumes three things, more or less:

(1) Perfect rationality of choice under all circumstances
(2) Perfect information available to all agents.
(3) (In the aggregate) Sufficient homogeneity that a single (or at least a few) perfectly enumeratable "representative agents" act as proxies for, i.e. aggregate, all individual choices.

In fact (1) is very difficult to ensure in practice, (2) is entirely infeasible -- and with the availability of computational technology that makes sense of previously undifferentiatable data, but FOR A PRICE, less feasible than in the past; and (3) utterly inpracticable, leading to a result that the stability of the macro-economy basically depends on "dictators" imposing their will, purely against the naive postulates of "free markets".

Furthermore, the standard manner in which economists have measured efficiency for the last century and a half, the so-called Pareto efficiency, is a rather drastic and simplistic definition (optimality is broken if a single person, no matter how drastically well off, has his ophelimity decreased as someone else is made better off, no matter how poor they are to begin with). This of course makes equality a purely secondary consideration. Taken to the extreme this of course is the attitude that has historically resulted in the extreme left or the extreme right taking over.

So yes, "capitalism" in its simplistic form is utterly discredited even theoretically. It is, however, very convenient to push the simplistic optimism of economics 101 -- for people who have the resources and the knowledge to act in their self-interest.

----

The usual bugbear wealth has to keep the non-wealthy in line is to keep bringing up the excesses of extremism -- communism, etc.

But that is all nonsense; the twentieth century proved that the highest development is achieved with a very well-regulated, highly-taxed, and socially-conscious model that splits the public and private sector in some moderate proportion.

Unfortunately this does place equality before efficiency, but so what.

That otherwise non-rich people with frankly no possibility of becoming super-rich continue to fall for it is no mystery, either. They fall for the lie they are served up with, namely that they are indeed as free, and as full of opportunity, as those with the wealth, connections, and knowledge. For it is surely better than the ugly truth: they are not, nor probably will be their children.

Unfortunately, however, this only goes for so long, after which the true social cataclism arrives.

And no, it is not funny at all.

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Old 28-10-2010, 07:36 PM   #73
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I don't know, what results in a bigger stimulus, somebody buying a pair of jeans or somebody providing the funds for RIM to enter international markets? People going to the movies or Porter Airlines launching service from Toronto Island airport to Montreal, Ottawa, and now NYC, Chicago, Boston and maybe some other destinations I can't think of now?

Everybody hates the rich. It's not a net-zero game. The rich didn't get rich by taking money from the rest of us, they got rich by figuring out how to provide the rest of us with products and services that we're happy to pay money for. Somebody invents iPhone and gets rich. We get iPhone and we like it.
...two words - banking industry.
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Old 28-10-2010, 07:39 PM   #74
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Transplanted_Edm:
hmm, I am rich. (ish)

I look at how poor people spend and spend. They spend all their income. I do not.

Sure buying stocks helps the economy. But if businesses want to borrow I would argue they don't directly rely on individual stock holders.

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Old 28-10-2010, 07:40 PM   #75
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Everybody hates the rich. It's not a net-zero game. The rich didn't get rich by taking money from the rest of us, they got rich by figuring out how to provide the rest of us with products and services that we're happy to pay money for. Somebody invents iPhone and gets rich. We get iPhone and we like it.
...two words - banking industry.
This only proves my point. People complain about ATM service charges etc., but forget that the banking industry has made it possible for them to

i) whip out a piece of plastic and buy something in a foreign country, maybe without even needing to understand a single work the clerk says

ii) borrow enough money to buy a house, so people don't have to build their own primitive log cabins without plumbing anymore

You are quite welcome to not use the banking system. Just try to buy anything or get paid by your work or buy a house or leave post-dated cheques with your landlord for rent or.....need I go on?

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Old 28-10-2010, 07:44 PM   #76
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the banking industry serves a valuable purpose.
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Old 28-10-2010, 07:50 PM   #77
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Everybody hates the rich. It's not a net-zero game. The rich didn't get rich by taking money from the rest of us, they got rich by figuring out how to provide the rest of us with products and services that we're happy to pay money for. Somebody invents iPhone and gets rich. We get iPhone and we like it.
...two words - banking industry.
This only proves my point. People complain about ATM service charges etc., but forget that the banking industry has made it possible for them to

i) whip out a piece of plastic and buy something in a foreign country, maybe without even needing to understand a single work the clerk says

ii) borrow enough money to buy a house, so people don't have to build their own primitive log cabins without plumbing anymore

You are quite welcome to not use the banking system. Just try to buy anything or get paid by your work or buy a house or leave post-dated cheques with your landlord for rent or.....need I go on?
I never said us non Masters of the Universe don't occasionally get thrown a crumb.
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Old 28-10-2010, 07:54 PM   #78
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^ moa its a vey well docummented fact esp in the USA that the rich are getting richer while the middle clase incomes are not increasing and or slipping.


rich are getting tax breaks but nothing for low income earners that is a big problem in America. as of right now many middle income earners who lost the jobs also have their home being foreclosured by the banks.
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Old 28-10-2010, 07:55 PM   #79
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I never said us non Masters of the Universe don't occasionally get thrown a crumb.
You do realize historically who started much of the banking industry, and who owns a substaintial peice of it still today? Greed against this group of people still fuels many conspiracy theories, and lead to the worst atrocity of the 20th century. In a similar way Pol Pot penalized those who were academic/wore glasses. While taxing the "rich" isn't quite the same as mass killing them, the logic behind it, that they have "stolen from us", that we need a bigger "piece of the pie", instead of the reality that they are the ones who grew the pie and perhaps should be learned from and encouraged to grow it even more instead, is similarly flawed.
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Old 28-10-2010, 07:57 PM   #80
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I never said us non Masters of the Universe don't occasionally get thrown a crumb.
You do realize historically who started much of the banking industry, and who owns a substaintial peice of it still today? Greed against this group of people still fuels many conspiracy theories, and lead to the worst atrocity of the 20th century. In a similar way Pol Pot penalized those who were academic/wore glasses. While taxing the "rich" isn't quite the same as mass killing them, the logic behind it, that they have "stolen from us", that we need a bigger "piece of the pie", instead of the reality that they are the ones who grew the pie and perhaps should be learned from and encouraged instead, is similarly flawed.
I think you prove my point, moahunter. As I said:

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The usual bugbear wealth has to keep the non-wealthy in line is to keep bringing up the excesses of extremism -- communism, etc.
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Old 28-10-2010, 08:00 PM   #81
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^Ha! I stand by my point though, jealousy isn't the way to design tax policy or anything else, it leads nowhere good. The U.S. doesn't need to tax the rich more, they are already taxed more than in most countries. What the U.S. needs now, is for people to start working together to fix the mess that has been created through all the wars and similar. The whole world will benefit from that.
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Old 28-10-2010, 08:41 PM   #82
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abaka.. when did I start liking you ?! LOL..

You have some very insightful posts latley.

(Just kidding)
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Old 29-10-2010, 10:19 AM   #83
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[QUOTE=moahunter;328298]
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Why do you think greater income inequality means that people at the bottom are poorer than if there is more equality? I don't think equality matters at all, I think what matters is that people have a reasonable standard of living and the opportunity to acheive what it is they want. Artificial measures to take from some people to give to others, rather than allowing people to acheive their own imrpovements, are just that, artificial. With more robin hood wealth redistribution we would end up a boring homogenious society (not to single the swedes out, but its not a place where you want to stand out as being different). We would still have homeless too, just like in Sweden (and no, being homeless in Sweden isn't better than being homeless in Canada).
Having a reasonable standard of living is what we're talking about here. Do you consider someone working for minimum wage who can't afford proper nutrition or education to improve their standing to have a reasonable standard of living? I don't think any of us are arguing for complete income equality, but we have to return to a distribution more like in the 1950s and 60s.

When I said capitalism was trickle-up economics I wasn't calling for it to be completely driven from the economy, I just think we need more regulation. For example, more progressive taxes make sense because as I said before when the working and middle classes make more they spend more which stimulates the economy and also enriches the upper classes. You keep bringing up Singapore, where taxes are progressive unlike provincial taxes in Alberta.

The idea that people get what they deserve under capitalism is absurd. Does it make sense for a basketball player to make 100 times what a surgeon makes? There are so many examples of this type of market failure. You keep talking about taking from some to give to others, but this system actually takes from the poor. The rich could not prosper without the labour of the poor and the middle class. If everyone but the rich disappeared, where would all of this wealth come from?

To address your question about whether a rich person who advocates more equal income distribution is acting contrary to their own interests, in some ways they are. But some people in the world actually care about the greater good and recognize that the current system isn't sustainable. I get the impression you'd prefer a society of gated communities and slums.
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Old 29-10-2010, 10:23 AM   #84
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Here's a thought as a counter to the thesis of the article. Would a billionare who votes for a left wing government and higher taxes, be considered to be voting against their self interest? I guess the answer is automatically "yes" if you assume that people determine their self interest by how much tax they pay next year. I don't see it that way though, my father was poor and conservative. I don't think that makes him irational, anymore than I think someone who is rich and socialist is. Following what you believe when you vote, is IMO following your self interest.
Absolutely they would be voting against their self interest. George Soros and Warren Buffet would be two good examples. Buffet has regularly commented that he thinks it's ridiculous that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary, for example. They do it as an act of altruism, however.

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the banking industry serves a valuable purpose.
That's debatable, actually. I don't mean banking in the true sense of the word: lending money and paying interest on savings. The rapid increase in wealth disparity in the US coincided almost parallel to the rapid expansion of the financial services sector, which now represents a share of GDP that's three to four times larger than it was prior to the 1980's.

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^Ha! I stand by my point though, jealousy isn't the way to design tax policy or anything else, it leads nowhere good. The U.S. doesn't need to tax the rich more, they are already taxed more than in most countries. What the U.S. needs now, is for people to start working together to fix the mess that has been created through all the wars and similar. The whole world will benefit from that.
My views aren't based on jealousy. I do fine for myself, and I think Canada is in fairly good shape in terms of it's tax policy and social programs. There's always room for improvement, of course.

But when I look at what's been going on in the US, I scratch my head and wonder why the people most opposed to someone like Obama are the ones he's trying to help the most. It's bizarre.

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Originally Posted by JasonR
Education.
Actually, I think that has little or nothing to do with whether people vote for or against their own self-interest. It's been shown repeatedly in the US that levels of education don't have a heck of a lot to do with whether people vote for the name with the (R) or (D). It's almost entirely correlated with their parent's political views.

People are not rational creatures. We like to think we are, but we simply aren't. People most often make decisions based upon irrational "intuition" that frequently runs completely contrary to rational analysis.

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Old 29-10-2010, 11:51 AM   #85
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Does it make sense for a basketball player to make 100 times what a surgeon makes? There are so many examples of this type of market failure.
I'm not sure how the market has "failed" in this case. When people spend their money to go to a basketball game, they are happy to do so. They obviously feel they get entertainment value corresponding to the price of their tickets. If they were feeling "ripped off", they could and should stop going.

If the NBA has found a way to organize itself so that the sum of all the individual people paying for tickets, souvenirs, and concessions at the games is enough to pay huge salaries to their players, why is that bad?

Financial equality is a myth that has never been sustained in humanity. From the days of emporers and kings and queens to 19th century industrialists to modern business tycoons, there are always some people richer than others. The closest we came to equality was that post-war suburban ideal of the USA where you had people in manufacturing jobs making relatively high salaries, in essence to do menial or unskilled labour. This existed due to the fact that many of the world's other economies were either devasted by war (less competition) or artificially isolated by tarriffs or by the limitations of international travel and communication that existed in those days.
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Old 29-10-2010, 12:03 PM   #86
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Just because there will always be some amount of inequality or wealth concentration doesn't mean that more is a good thing, or that there aren't more optimal distributions that should be pursued.
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Old 29-10-2010, 12:53 PM   #87
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^The more people are paid the more the goods go up. As for the increasing of taxes for the wealthiest, good idea. I am sure a multimillionaire making thousands of dollars interest on the stock market could afford to pay more.
This is true for goods that are scarce. The example of eggs that you used would not really apply because we can easily produce more eggs to satisfy demand. This article is advocating increasing taxes for the rich, not anyone else (incomes >250k). In the US this is only a few % of the population and an even smaller % in Canada.

This article is advocating a wealth distribution more in line with Scandinavia (they use the example of Sweden) which is superior to North America in almost every measure of quality of life and also has one of the most competitive economies in the world.
Yes, we can easily produce more eggs to meet demand but it would still come at a price to the producer. Don't talk about increasing taxes and distributing the wealth if you can't even see that higher production begats higher use of resources which come at a cost. Most costs are passed on to the consumer. What's with the Swede and Scandinavian comparison. There not the big monetary players in the global economy. Your comparing apples to oranges. Just because someone with a degree writes an article doesn't mean he/she is right.
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Old 29-10-2010, 01:04 PM   #88
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Wealth is all relative. I make a lot more money now than I did a decade ago, but I also spend a lot more than I did a decade ago.

I also really like the fact that the more education I get, and the harder I work, the more I am rewarded financially. I don't want to live within a system where I am penalized for that.
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Old 29-10-2010, 01:06 PM   #89
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Does it make sense for a basketball player to make 100 times what a surgeon makes?
I think it does. How many surgeons can play basketball at that level?

Also, it is a lot harder to get into the NBA than it is to become a surgeon (they are difficult for different reasons, obviously).
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Old 29-10-2010, 01:10 PM   #90
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Entertainers deserve to make more money than surgeons because they keep the masses distracted.

Yes, it is part of the big lie, I know, I know, but that's how things work.

As long as "joe sixpack" is a code-word for rightist grump, we have the society we have.
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Old 29-10-2010, 01:12 PM   #91
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^I'ts the Joe Sixpacks of this world that keep things moving. The working class stiff that gets things done.
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Old 29-10-2010, 01:22 PM   #92
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^Yes.

If he is issued the correct instructions.

But.

You forget that Joe Sixpack sometimes goes fairly hard right (as today) or soft left (1930s) or very violently off the rails (Russia 1917, Germany 1933).

And the further Joey strays from the apathetic middle, in general, the more trouble and division.

Keeping things running comes with a price.
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Old 29-10-2010, 01:50 PM   #93
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Yes, we can easily produce more eggs to meet demand but it would still come at a price to the producer. Don't talk about increasing taxes and distributing the wealth if you can't even see that higher production begats higher use of resources which come at a cost. Most costs are passed on to the consumer. What's with the Swede and Scandinavian comparison. There not the big monetary players in the global economy. Your comparing apples to oranges. Just because someone with a degree writes an article doesn't mean he/she is right.
I don't know what you're talking about and it sounds like you don't either. If what you say is true companies would never want to increase production and would only be able to grow by raising prices. How do you know the company doesn't have excess capacity that it can use already? How do you know the marginal cost of producing the additional eggs would be higher than the cost of producing the current supply?

An example that does conform to what you're saying is oil; as demand grows the new supply becomes more expensive to produce because conventional sources start to run out. But you were specifically talking about eggs and you still never provided any evidence or even a remotely sensible argument defending your position that a carton of eggs would go up to $10 if incomes for the poor increased. Don't make blanket statements that you can't defend.
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Old 29-10-2010, 01:54 PM   #94
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Does it make sense for a basketball player to make 100 times what a surgeon makes?
I think it does. How many surgeons can play basketball at that level?

Also, it is a lot harder to get into the NBA than it is to become a surgeon (they are difficult for different reasons, obviously).
Weak. Is it harder to get into the NBA than become President of the US? NBA players make far more money than the President.
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Old 29-10-2010, 01:59 PM   #95
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^Presidents' salaries come from tax money the masses pay only with the greatest reluctance. But watch the lineups for pro sports tickets, for movies! The same people who grumble about the least tax slobber to pay their entertainers more and more.

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Old 29-10-2010, 02:04 PM   #96
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^Presidents' salaries come from tax money the masses pay only with the greatest reluctance. But watch the lineups for pro sports tickets, for movies! The same people who grumble about the least tax slobber to pay their entertainers more and more.
Sure, but that doesn't mean it's not a market failure.
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Old 29-10-2010, 02:12 PM   #97
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^The naive rebuttal to that, of course, is that choice freely made cannot be a market failure.

Unless it is irrational... But what does that mean? If people truly prefer to be distracted by entertainers to everything else, that's their rational choice.

Too bad others who don't buy into the entertainment culture are left unhappy. (Back we go to the aggregation problem and the dictate of choice.)

So, yes, it IS a market failure, but one that's a little subtle, and, more important, very convenient to maintain.
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Old 29-10-2010, 02:31 PM   #98
MrOilers
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If people truly prefer to be distracted by entertainers to everything else, that's their rational choice.
What do you mean "distracted by"?
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Old 29-10-2010, 02:40 PM   #99
abaka
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Exactly what I said. Entertainment entertains, cheers up, and distracts from problems and negative thoughts. It's a DIVERSION.

I'm not down on it.

{ On the other hand... ...Our biggest problem as a society is that we've stopped confronting problems with anything more sophisticated (or effective) than simplistic ideology.

No taxes good lib commies bad. Right? But the standard of living has dropped steadily for forty-five years. You don't even want to think about what a single income could support in 1965, 1975, or even 1985. It's too depressing -- etoys aside. }

Last edited by abaka; 29-10-2010 at 02:46 PM..
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Old 29-10-2010, 03:07 PM   #100
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Exactly what I said. Entertainment entertains, cheers up, and distracts from problems and negative thoughts. It's a DIVERSION.

I'm not down on it.

{ On the other hand... ...Our biggest problem as a society is that we've stopped confronting problems with anything more sophisticated (or effective) than simplistic ideology.

No taxes good lib commies bad. Right? But the standard of living has dropped steadily for forty-five years. You don't even want to think about what a single income could support in 1965, 1975, or even 1985. It's too depressing -- etoys aside. }
It's not only that you need two incomes now; most people also require huge debt levels to be able to own a home and a car. Debt creates the illusion that the standard of living for the middle class has increased or at least been maintained.
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