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1 MichaelJ  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 10:17:42am

I don't blame the 1%, however it cannot be denied that the tax code is very beneficial to them and a huge part of the reason that they are getting richer. Also, this article is talking about actual wage earners rather than those with inherited wealth that are living off the interest thanks to an extremely low 15% capital gains tax.

2 calochortus  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 10:50:04am

Let's not forget what percentage of the 1% essentially gets to set their own salaries (together with their friends.) Honestly, I'm not sure that most of them are working that much harder than the guys who dug out the foundation of the house across the street, pretty much by hand, so it could be repaired. I don't think those guys are making the same salaries...

I'm still waiting to see all these "productive people" at the top move to Galt's Gulch and slowly get buried by their own waste because they're all too important to take care of the nitty gritty of life.

3 celticdragon  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 12:24:55pm

Since wages have stagnated for the last 35 years or so as applied to the middle class and working class (all as productivity rose by 30%) while the incomes of the top 1% have been on a booster rocket, it is hard to draw another conclusion. We worked harder and produced more, and got nothing to show for it.

4 Political Atheist  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 12:29:57pm

re: #1 MichaelJ

What fascinates me in this debate is how nobody seems to appreciate the difference between earned income and unearned income. Athletes, celebrities, movie stars, comedians all are taxed just like the rest of us. The rich ones pay a lot more in taxes than we do. Think of a movie star-a ten million dollar salary hits the top bracket every time.

What should be thought of as a subset, those whose main income is stocks, dividends, the Buffet type of income is where the argument really is. Inherited money is post estate taxes, and interest on that money is as taxable as regular income.

If one wants to indulge income envy, well by all means go ahead. If you want to increase income for the vast bulk of the rest of us taxing high incomes at a higher rate will not help our income at all. Only through education and opportunity can we have real economic growth for the 99% economy. Taxation of the 1% is completely irrelevant to that mission.

5 kirkspencer  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 12:30:01pm

Grain of salt. This is Nina Easton, a frequent Fox personality.

Of more weight, her husband (Russell Schiefer) is a long-term Republican campaign consultant. He's worked four of the past five Republican presidential campaigns along with a host of other Republican governor, senate, and house campaigns.

Finally there's self-interest. The couple is part of the 1% in their joint (and by some measures separately as well) income.

6 Political Atheist  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 12:34:34pm

re: #5 kirkspencer

I would not paint that Fox brush too broadly. Especially when you consider she espouses many of the same points as president Obamas bi partisan council on the economy.

An award-winning author, columnist, and TV commentator, Nina Easton offers insights at the intersection of economics and politics. For six years she has been a regular panelist on Fox News Sunday and Special Report, and has appeared on NBC's Meet the Press, CBS's Face the Nation, and PBS's Washington Week in Review and Charlie Rose. Easton is the author of the critically acclaimed Gang of Five: Leaders at the Center of the Conservative Ascendancy. Prior to joining Fortune, she won a number of national awards as a Los Angeles Times writer, and later served as the Boston Globe's deputy bureau chief in Washington. She is a native Californian and a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley.

A decade at the LA Times? Can you show me where her facts are tainted in this article?

7 kirkspencer  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 1:16:41pm

re: #6 Daniel Ballard

We are supposed to believe that two-parent households, advance degrees, and premium pay are antithetical to contributing to wealth disparity. It's a wealth of opinion without supporting fact.

There's also the nifty sleights of hand, such as: "Harvard’s Lawrence Katz has calculated that even if all the gains of the top 1% were redistributed to the 99%, household incomes would go up by less than half of what they would if everyone had a college degree."

This does not disprove or dissuade that the rich are getting richer at the expense of the poor. It merely says that on top of that they're also gaining because of their education.

It's a specious article that in no way presents a fact or study that supports its thesis.

8 Bob Levin  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 2:01:08pm

After certain amount of time, many of us know someone or sometwo who are in the 1%. Although some are born with wealth, the ones I know simply have a talent for making money. If you took away all of their money tomorrow, in ten years, they would once again be in the 1%.

In terms of working harder than the guys digging a foundation of a house, they may not burn the same amount of calories. But they are under a great amount of stress, as many many families depend upon their business decisions to pay for homes, food, college, clothing, and health care for their families.

They simply have a skill that pays extremely well. In most cases that skill is the ability to organize people, and pull together resources. Or perhaps they can hit and throw a baseball better than 99.9999% of the population. Or perhaps they have more knowledge in a particular area than others.

Mark Twain wrote an interesting story about this, in 1909, his last story. In this story, heaven is where we are all able to follow the work of our hearts, and we are appreciated for that work. Of course, there is no scarcity that forces people in other directions.

As long as resources are scarce, we may not starve as Malthus thought, but those with organizational talent or unique, useful knowledge will do quite well.

9 Political Atheist  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 3:29:46pm

re: #7 kirkspencer

We gave away our manufacturing to off shore. Just that and keeping the executives here would cause a huge disparity between the workers and executive income. Best Answer-To pursue income pursue education for executive work. Taxing the executives at a higher rate or limiting their salaries still does nothing to solve the real problem. Getting America cheap sweaters was decided to be more important than our jobs by several Presidents and Congresses in a row.

Can you show me how raising taxes as per the "Buffet Rule" would help the average workers income? That is the meme of income envy that is so very popular now. The fact is that won't fix a thing except envious emotion. It's a feel good move not a repair move. I'm tired of that kind of fictional fix.

10 Political Atheist  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 3:32:06pm

re: #7 kirkspencer

The rich are getting richer while the poor get poorer. But it is not the doing of high income earners. Look at say Baseball, Pitchers salaries are way up, but not the janitorial services at the ballpark. How is that the fault of players or team owners?

Stocks go up, the minimum wage did not. How is that the fault of a stock trader?

11 Bob Levin  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 4:02:25pm

re: #7 kirkspencer

This does not disprove or dissuade that the rich are getting richer at the expense of the poor.

I'd like to address this quote, since I've heard this for over 30 years. The rich get rich by getting money from other rich people. You can't get money from poor people, since they have no money. If rich person A gets billions from rich people B,C, and D--rich person A may not give enough of that money to the workers. Granted.

But let's say that he or she did. Salaries go up 150%. As highly trained consumers, most of us would spend that money on products made by more 1 percenters, and the money ends up back where it started. Not exactly where it started, but generally.

So where do you break this cycle, if you don't like the cycle? Higher taxes, although they may be necessary, means I'm feeling sorry for the government. I'm not.

12 Obdicut  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 5:11:28pm

re: #8 Bob Levin

All of the people I know in the 1% except for one inherited their money, or the reason they'd be able to make the money again is because they grew up being trained to be a business tycoon, making contacts from an early age, etc.

The rich get rich by getting money from other rich people

I'm sorry Bob, but that's really dumb. The Waltons didn't get rich from getting money from rich people. The pharmaceutical companies don't get rich from getting money from rich people. Some rich people get rich from making money from other rich people, some make it from poor people, some make it from everyone.

13 Political Atheist  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 5:30:09pm

Has anyone noticed that the administrations economic panel has suggestions well apart from what we hear from the left? And utterly apart from the usual internet memes as we see here in some comments?

[Link: economictimes.indiatimes.com...]
Excerpts
The panel calls for lowering corporate tax rates to "internationally competitive levels" while broadening the corporate tax base by eliminating deductions and loopholes.

In addition, the report called for a series of reforms to streamline government rules and reduce the regulatory burden on businesses, which it said would enhance U.S. competitiveness.

14 BishopX  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 5:39:51pm

re: #13 Daniel Ballard

Has anyone noticed that that panel is made up entirely up corporate businessmen, and chaired by the CEO of GE?

When you ask corporations what would make them grow, don't be surprised when you hear calls for lower taxes and less regulation.

15 wrenchwench  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 5:41:26pm

It's not about income envy. It's not about what would happen if 'all the gains of the top 1% were redistributed to the 99%'. It's about the growing income gap, which even Ms. Easton finds 'deeply troubling' (although not troubling enough to look for an actual solution).

Government policies, including but not limited to tax policies, favor some people over others. Right now, those policies are contributing to the the gap, instead of closing it. As long as the 1% have a louder voice in politics (because money is speech and corporations are people) those policies are not likely to change to ones that will close the gap. It will continue to widen, until it starts to hurt even the 1%, because there won't be a big enough middle class to perpetuate the consumer society.

16 Achilles Tang  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 6:08:54pm
The rich aren’t getting wealthier at the expense of the poor. Harvard’s Lawrence Katz has calculated that even if all the gains of the top 1% were redistributed to the 99%, household incomes would go up by less than half of what they would if everyone had a college degree. In other words, the financial rewards of higher education are a big contributor to the income gap.

This article is standard spin, from an publication called "Fortune" no less. Bullshit spin.

Why does the article not detail what they call "gains"?

Why does it not detail the fact, recently published, that 50% of college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed?

I recently published a page in the same vein where I did some simple research on a similar bullshit spin article.

I don't have time to do the same for this one but there are some very simple distinctions between the USA and other "socialist" countries that should result in some deeper thought, if one is not a religious political partisan.

For example:

In Sweden 20% of the people own 32% of the wealth, and pay 27% of the total tax revenue. 80% own 68% and pay 73% of taxes.

In the USA 20% of the people own 84% of the wealth, and pay 64% of the total tax revenue. 80% own 16% and pay 36% of taxes.

17 MichaelJ  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 6:26:38pm

We can't all pursue higher education and become executives. There are financial obstacles, logistic obstacles, obstacles of background, race, creed, intelligence, ability, opportunity. I could go on. The point is that we cannot become a nation of executives. What do you have when you have more managers than workers? Non-sustainable. The middle class is absolutely essential. When greed overtakes responsible action, the middle class shrinks.

18 Achilles Tang  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 6:40:42pm

re: #17 MichaelJ

Who said anything about "executives"?

Please restate your point, whatever it is.

19 Bob Levin  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 8:57:56pm

re: #12 Obdicut

All of the people I know in the 1% except for one inherited their money, or the reason they'd be able to make the money again is because they grew up being trained to be a business tycoon, making contacts from an early age, etc.

Right. One of my friends told me, you grew up learning to play baseball I grew up learning business. It's a skill.

The Waltons didn't get rich from getting money from rich people.

But not poor people either. He began putting his stores (after failing a few times) in areas that had no stores. He was the only game in town. After he had amassed superior buying power, then he moved into cities. But he was creating his margin by buying vast quantities from suppliers, who weren't what you'd call poor.

The pharmaceutical companies don't get rich from getting money from rich people.

Yes they did. Insurance companies pay the bulk of the load. Doctors charge insurance companies, we pay a co-pay. If you read the itemized bill, a large percent is paid by insurance companies. I have one medication, with insurance, 50 bucks for three bottles, without insurance, 900 bucks for three bottles. So the insurance company is picking up 850 bucks on that tab.

I'll stick by my assertion that you can't make vast amounts of money from people who have no money.

20 Bob Levin  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 9:09:59pm

re: #16 Flame Fin Tomini Tang

I'm not sure anyone is arguing that some of the spending habits of the 1% are not completely insane. I wouldn't know what to do with a 24 million a year bonus. It wouldn't encourage me to work twice as hard next year. I'd wish them luck in finding my replacement. The increase in tax rate is solving the government's problem. It's not solving individual problems, or societal problems. The government is saying--our problems are your problems.

Well thank you, Uncle Sam.

21 Achilles Tang  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 10:00:30pm

re: #20 Bob Levin

I'm not sure anyone is arguing that some of the spending habits of the 1% are not completely insane. I wouldn't know what to do with a 24 million a year bonus. It wouldn't encourage me to work twice as hard next year. I'd wish them luck in finding my replacement. The increase in tax rate is solving the government's problem. It's not solving individual problems, or societal problems. The government is saying--our problems are your problems.

Well thank you, Uncle Sam.

I think we are at cross purposes. Nobody, at the moment, is talking of spending habits.

The issue is, ultimately, the accumulation of wealth, which translates to an accumulation of control (nothing to do with spending) resulting in a plutocracy (aka Citizens United), which is essentially what every tin pot dictatorship is, even though they may have arrived there by different routes.

22 Four More Tears  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 11:35:53pm

re: #19 Bob Levin

Sure you want to go with health insurance companies as an example? Because last I checked the whole point was that they got the money to pay for those drugs from a huge pool of employees and employers...

23 Bob Levin  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 1:11:27am

re: #21 Flame Fin Tomini Tang

The issue is, ultimately, the accumulation of wealth, which translates to an accumulation of control (nothing to do with spending) resulting in a plutocracy (aka Citizens United), which is essentially what every tin pot dictatorship is, even though they may have arrived there by different routes.

Okay, then going with your theory, the 1% should always get their way. Do they? This is a much longer discussion, but I'll go with it as far as we can. What, in your opinion, does the 1% want? Let's take the upcoming election, as an example. Who are they backing?

24 Bob Levin  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 1:16:35am

re: #22 Assemble!

You are partially correct. The drug companies, again, will go where the money is to collect the money. They will charge corporations to provide insurance, and employees pay to get into the program. But the real money is made by investing their fees in other areas of the economy. Essentially, they are making the bet that they can invest and grow wealth faster than they will have to pay it out. And they do this pretty well.

25 Achilles Tang  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 5:54:53am

re: #23 Bob Levin

Okay, then going with your theory, the 1% should always get their way. Do they?

You have heard the phrase "money talks", I take it?

This is a much longer discussion, but I'll go with it as far as we can. What, in your opinion, does the 1% want? Let's take the upcoming election, as an example. Who are they backing?

This will certainly be a long pretend discussion if you intend to be as abstruse as possible.

26 HappyWarrior  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 7:09:15am

I don't but I do blame politicians who think the interests of the 1% are more important than the rest of us. E.G fighting any tax increase as if it were the end times and opposing plans that help the midde class.

27 Obdicut  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 7:56:01am

re: #19 Bob Levin

But not poor people either. He began putting his stores (after failing a few times) in areas that had no stores. He was the only game in town. After he had amassed superior buying power, then he moved into cities. But he was creating his margin by buying vast quantities from suppliers, who weren't what you'd call poor.

His customers were, and Wal-Mart's customers remain, inclusive of the poor. You really need to accept that people can, in fact, become rich off of the poor.

I'll stick by my assertion that you can't make vast amounts of money from people who have no money.

No money? No. Quite small amounts of money? Yes, yes you can, if there's vast amounts of those people.

I really don't get how you can deny this. It's freaking obvious.

28 wrenchwench  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 8:11:46am

re: #23 Bob Levin

Okay, then going with your theory, the 1% should always get their way. Do they? This is a much longer discussion, but I'll go with it as far as we can. What, in your opinion, does the 1% want? Let's take the upcoming election, as an example. Who are they backing?

The 1%, to the extent they care about elections, back both sides, for future access.

29 Bob Levin  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 8:25:14am

re: #27 Obdicut

Walmart made its money by selling products at a lower price than other stores. They essentially took the customers of Kmart, JCPenny, Sears. And when the economy turned bad, Macy's. This is when they moved into the cities, the later part of their strategy. When they made this move, they would go to a manufacturer and tell them the price they would pay for the product--which was a lower price than what the manufacturer sold to other stores.

There are certain items that people have to buy, and Walmart made those more affordable. Other stores, other one percenters, were angry with Walmart.

Walmart's initial strategy was to place a store where there were no other stores. That is, Sears, Target, Macy's, all forgot about these sections of the country.

I really don't get how you can deny this. It's freaking obvious.

We're getting very close to having to end this discussion. My point is that these propositions are not Self-Evident, and you've got to think them through.

I haven't said anything that wasn't true.

30 Bob Levin  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 8:32:23am

re: #25 Flame Fin Tomini Tang

You're making assertions as if they were geometric postulates, and they aren't. You have to prove them.

'Money Talks' doesn't prove anything. If you go back to the days of the Robber Barons, the original one percenters, you'll note that their families are not as powerful as they used to be, and that new faces have taken over. When is the last time you heard the name Morgan in American politics? But you do see the name Paul Allen a lot. Morgan's money doesn't say much anymore, nor does the Rockefeller money. Buffet money says different things than Ford money. Gates and Jobs money says different things than Vanderbilt money.

So, I'm just asking--if money talks, what is it saying?

31 Bob Levin  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 8:43:28am

re: #28 wrenchwench

Right. They back both sides because they don't know who will win, and they want access. And this is because there are many types of power, not simply the power of financing in elections and in politics.

Look, if you raise taxes on these folks, it won't change their lives one bit. It really doesn't matter.

I'm just saying that if you want to raise their taxes, you're not on the side of the little guy, you're on the side of the government--which tends to work itself into trouble. However, the rhetoric is that you're on the side of the regular working people. That's just not true in this case.

32 Interesting Times  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 8:49:39am

re: #31 Bob Levin

I'm just saying that if you want to raise their taxes, you're not on the side of the little guy, you're on the side of the government--which tends to work itself into trouble. However, the rhetoric is that you're on the side of the regular working people. That's just not true in this case.

I'm sorry, but this is just delusional - how can you possibly deny the damage done by, say, exorbitant fossil fuel subsidies? Or tax exemptions for far-right, pollution-defending extremist groups like ALEC and Heartland? Current tax structures benefit groups who attack and abuse working people far more than they benefit groups who defend them, and that has to change.

33 wrenchwench  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 8:55:24am

re: #31 Bob Levin

Right. They back both sides because they don't know who will win, and they want access. And this is because there are many types of power, not simply the power of financing in elections and in politics.

Look, if you raise taxes on these folks, it won't change their lives one bit. It really doesn't matter.

I'm just saying that if you want to raise their taxes, you're not on the side of the little guy, you're on the side of the government--which tends to work itself into trouble. However, the rhetoric is that you're on the side of the regular working people. That's just not true in this case.

I don't care so much about their taxes. If loopholes were closed, rates would not need to be raised to finance necessary government programs.

But totally apart from taxes, the influence of the rich on government that hurts the middle class and the poor is more likely to come in the form of lobbying. Take the pharmaceutical industry. They assure that we will not see legal marijuana as a matter of federal law. The consequences of this on the majority of citizens can be devastating. Exorbitant drug costs, when a plant one can grow oneself could do. Incarceration rates among the highest in the world. Bloody hell in Mexico and Central America. Unforgivable, IMHO. And that's just one industry. Next on my list would be the food growers and processors.

34 Bob Levin  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 9:03:24am

re: #32 Interesting Times

I'm sorry, but this is just delusional - how can you possibly deny the damage done by, say, exorbitant fossil fuel subsidies?

My solution would be to convert to new types of fuel. That's how history moves. That's why the buggy-whip lobby doesn't exist anymore. Many people are working on developing new technologies. If you want, work to give them tax breaks. Are we talking about personal tax rates or corporate? I thought we were talking about personal rates.

Or tax exemptions for far-right, pollution-defending extremist groups like ALEC and Heartland?

Fine, tax them.

Current tax structures benefit groups who attack and abuse working people far more than they benefit groups who defend them, and that has to change.

The thread began by talking about personal tax rates, the 1%. There was an article about the 1% on MSN today, where they live. Individuals, personal. Raising their rates. If you want to talk about completely changing or at least examining the entire tax code, no problem. I'm not in that discussion. Change it.

35 Bob Levin  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 9:11:11am

re: #33 wrenchwench

Again, now we're talking about corporate rates. But that's not how the thread began. All groups lobby. By the way, I'm not the person to talk to if you want someone to defend the current health care system--I get quite a bit of flack for my position on that issue. In fact, I've got to get ready to visit my acupuncturist today. So, this will be my last comment for a while.

But I agree wholeheartedly with you on those issues. My impression, from the top of the thread, was how much we should tax the CEO of Phizer. As if taxing him more is going to help many people. It won't help many people. It will help the government get out of its debt problem. Helping many people, historically, comes from changes in attitudes, changes in technology, and changes in infrastructure. That's different than the original post at the top of the page.

36 wrenchwench  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 9:21:18am

re: #35 Bob Levin

Again, now we're talking about corporate rates. But that's not how the thread began. All groups lobby. By the way, I'm not the person to talk to if you want someone to defend the current health care system--I get quite a bit of flack for my position on that issue. In fact, I've got to get ready to visit my acupuncturist today. So, this will be my last comment for a while.

But I agree wholeheartedly with you on those issues. My impression, from the top of the thread, was how much we should tax the CEO of Phizer. As if taxing him more is going to help many people. It won't help many people. It will help the government get out of its debt problem. Helping many people, historically, comes from changes in attitudes, changes in technology, and changes in infrastructure. That's different than the original post at the top of the page.

The article posted at the top is not about taxes. It's about "Don't blame us, emulate us!" My comments are about the influence of the 1% on US policy.

I'm not talking about 'corporate rates'. I'm talking about how money makes policy, and the people who have the most money make the policies that enhance their wealth, often to the extreme detriment of the people without money. Yes, 'changes in attitudes, changes in technology, and changes in infrastructure' would help, but only if the first 'change in attitude' is the one that allows money to make law.

37 Obdicut  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 9:48:11am

re: #29 Bob Levin

Walmart made its money by selling products at a lower price than other stores. .

They actually don't sell comparable products; the products at Wal-Mart stores often have fewer QA passes than at other stories. They're the same series number, but not the result of the same exact process.

We're getting very close to having to end this discussion. My point is that these propositions are not Self-Evident, and you've got to think them through.

We don't have to end the dicussion. As usual, you will get huffy and leave, probably.

Wal-mart makes its money from the people that buy the product. It doesn't make its money from the companies that it beats out, it makes them from its consumers. A person walks into Wal-mart and buys something-- Wal-mart is making money off of that transaction.

What you are awkwardly trying to cram to fit into that frame is that Wal-Mart outcompetes others, and so it's 'making' their money off of them. This is a completely overcomplicated way to look at things, and it completely ignores the steady-state of Wal-Mart making money, post-competition.


Cell phone companies make their money from the customers, from people buying their services. That's how they make money. From ordinary people. Not from the rich.

MacDonald's makes its money from people buying its products. Not from the rich.

Lots, and lots, and lots of companies make their money not from the rich, but from the middle class, and, yes, the poor. Because the poor are not people without any money at all, they're just people with much less money. They still have it, and it's still possible to make money from them.

38 Bob Levin  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 12:06:33pm

re: #36 wrenchwench

I can't recall a time in this country when money didn't make laws, but laws change, attitudes change, the names of the powerful change, and industries change. So something is going on that money can't control.

I also can't recall a time when the 99% weren't willing to break the law, or convention, if they didn't like it. Some people break the law by inventing something that makes it unnecessary to follow the old way. Things change so quickly now, any law passed is almost immediately obsolete.

In fact, Congress is so messed up that it may be obsolete. Let's pick this up again in mid-November.

39 Bob Levin  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 12:13:25pm

re: #37 Obdicut

I've got to run after this.

I remember when there wasn't a Wal-Mart. There was May Co. I don't think May Co. exists anymore. Wal-Mart took their customers.

McDonald's is a different story. There are owners of individual stores, who are upper middle class, to use a broad generalization. And then there is the McDonald's corporation--who make its money by franchising out stores. How does one get a franchise? One takes out one bigass loan.

And one takes out this loan from--the bank. So, the corporation makes the bulk of its money from banks.

The individual owners of the franchises make their money from the middle class and the poor.

40 Obdicut  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 12:18:24pm

re: #39 Bob Levin

I remember when there wasn't a Wal-Mart. There was May Co. I don't think May Co. exists anymore. Wal-Mart took their customers.

And made money off the customers. Including poor people.

Jesus, you're twisting yourself into a goddamn pretzel to ignore that companies do, in fact, make money off of poor people. Some corporations make money off of other rich people. Some corporations make money off of poor people. That's reality. You should include reality in your argument, even when its inconvenient. Otherwise, you wind up looking duplicitous, which you're not.

41 Obdicut  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 12:27:19pm

re: #39 Bob Levin

Oh, and Bob, MacDonalds requires you to have half a million dollars in unborrowed assets. So no, they don't take out a bigass loan. And most franchise owners own multiple franchises, and are themselves part of that 1%.

I know that you are not a dishonest person and so this was an unintentional mistake, but please think about how often you wind up in a situation like this because you're twisting around trying to defend a premise rather than admitting that it's faulty.

[Link: www.aboutmcdonalds.com...]

Generally, we require a minimum of $500,000 of non-borrowed personal resources to consider you for a franchise.

42 Bob Levin  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 1:17:09pm

re: #40 Obdicut

Yes, some companies do make money off of poor people. Like predatory lenders--who advertise like crazy on late night TV.

But we are talking stratospheric wealth here. I read this morning that the one percent is defined by a minimum of 30 million in assets. Yes, some owners of multiple franchises, car dealers, and so on are in that club. And like I said, if you want to tax them, they won't care. Maybe they'll have a tantrum, but life will go on as usual.

However, that money will only help the government and its debt problems. It will not bring about institutional change--which is what I think people really want.

In that stratosphere, they are not thinking about making 1 dollar profit a million times, they are thinking about making a million dollar profit once. Like I said, I have a friend in that club. To him, 30,000 bucks is pocket change. I know this because he once pulled out a wad of 30,000 bucks from his pocket, just to show me that I didn't have to pay for dinner.

It's a different world.

43 Bob Levin  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 1:28:56pm

re: #41 Obdicut

Oh, and Bob, MacDonalds requires you to have half a million dollars in unborrowed assets. So no, they don't take out a bigass loan.

Oh yes they do. That 500 grand is collateral. Remember, this is a world where the only way to get a loan is to prove that you don't need the loan.

So what is the topic? Are we saying that the 1% have too much control over our lives, and we need to free ourselves from the societal structure they have created--or are we saying that the government has a debt problem, and why not tax the rich?

If the conversation is about the former, I think there are better ways to change society--more effective ways. If we're talking about the latter, fine, but there's no need to demonize these people.

44 Obdicut  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 1:47:48pm

re: #42 Bob Levin

Yes, some companies do make money off of poor people. Like predatory lenders--who advertise like crazy on late night TV.

And like people selling everyday products that people need. Why do you try to ignore this? You're smarter than that.

But we are talking stratospheric wealth here.

Depends on how you define the top 1%, of course: income or wealth. It'd be great if you cited your source for how you're defining the top 1%, rather than just saying "I read somewhere".

However, that money will only help the government and its debt problems. It will not bring about institutional change--which is what I think people really want.

It'll do both, Bob, because the government can use that money to do things like give student loans, build public transport, etc.

In that stratosphere, they are not thinking about making 1 dollar profit a million times, they are thinking about making a million dollar profit once.

No, they're thinking about both. There are both types of extremely rich people. Bill Gates made his initial money by getting OEMs to pay to bundle the software. Apple, however, makes their millions a few dollars at a time on the sales of music, apps, a few hundred per Iphone.

Why is it so hard for you to admit that there are both approaches, and both work? It seems like it's an ideological problem for you, you keep trying to find ways to admit it. It's confusing.

Like I said, I have a friend in that club. To him, 30,000 bucks is pocket change. I know this because he once pulled out a wad of 30,000 bucks from his pocket, just to show me that I didn't have to pay for dinner.

Gee, that's fascinating, Bob. You really think people at that level don't know 1 x 1,000,000 = 1,000,000?

45 Obdicut  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 1:49:16pm

re: #43 Bob Levin

Oh yes they do. That 500 grand is collateral. Remember, this is a world where the only way to get a loan is to prove that you don't need the loan.

No, Bob. The five hundred grand is cash down. It's not collateral. They have to pay it out. You're wrong.

So what is the topic? Are we saying that the 1% have too much control over our lives, and we need to free ourselves from the societal structure they have created--or are we saying that the government has a debt problem, and why not tax the rich?

Both. Neither.

If the conversation is about the former, I think there are better ways to change society--more effective ways. If we're talking about the latter, fine, but there's no need to demonize these people.

I'm fine with criticizing people who make their money through unethical means. Is that okay with you?

46 Obdicut  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 1:54:37pm

re: #45 Obdicut

Or rather, the $500K is to pay for the 25% cash down they're expected to pay, and then for initial operating expenses. 500K is the minimum cash or cash-equivalent assets, non-borrowed, they're expected to have.

47 Political Atheist  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 2:43:32pm

So who are these fat cat 1%ers? How many would even be affected by the Buffet rule? Not so many really...
[Link: littlegreenfootballs.com...]

48 Obdicut  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 3:15:11pm

re: #47 Daniel Ballard

217,000 isn't that many?

49 Bob Levin  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 3:50:00pm

re: #44 Obdicut

And like people selling everyday products that people need. Why do you try to ignore this? You're smarter than that.

I'm not ignoring this. Here's the conversation as I understand it: There are this class of people, 1%, who have so much wealth that they are indirectly oppressing the rest of America, and causing so many problems for so many people that we have to camp out for months, all across the country...so that...

It gets kind of muddy after that.

You're saying that some of these people are instrumental in providing for the basic needs of most Americans. Fine. (We might have to start naming names.) They're helping. Then there's no need to vilify them. That's one of my points, there's no need to vilify them.

Depends on how you define the top 1%, of course: income or wealth. It'd be great if you cited your source for how you're defining the top 1%, rather than just saying "I read somewhere".

MSN this morning. Where the Top One Percent Live.

It'll do both, Bob, because the government can use that money to do things like give student loans, build public transport, etc.

I think the government is most concerned about Moody's rating. But, after November, we shall see what happens. I'm not against taxing them. However, I'm actually for other things.

Why is it so hard for you to admit that there are both approaches, and both work? It seems like it's an ideological problem for you, you keep trying to find ways to admit it. It's confusing.

Go back up top. I said that I've been hearing this one sentence for thirty years, that the top (pick you percent) are making their fortunes off the backs of the poor and middle class. This statement, to me, needed a bit of proving. Apple customers are astoundingly devoted. They happily part with their money to have Apple products. Also, Apple's history--well, it's like the history of many companies, where the CEO can turn his mistakes into features.

However, when you think of capitalists making money off the backs of the poor and middle class, Steve Jobs was not the first name on the list. He seemed to be making people happy.

Both. Neither.

Not helping to frame the discussion.

I'm fine with criticizing people who make their money through unethical means. Is that okay with you?

Totally. They're criminals.

50 Bob Levin  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 3:57:28pm

re: #46 Obdicut

That sounds like they need 2 million to open. Which would make the 500,000 collateral, or a down payment. Like when you buy a house, a down payment. Big loan still needed.

The McDonald's corporation makes its money from selling franchises, big money from banks. Little guys need not apply.

51 Achilles Tang  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 6:33:05pm

re: #30 Bob Levin

You're making assertions as if they were geometric postulates, and they aren't. You have to prove them.

'Money Talks' doesn't prove anything. If you go back to the days of the Robber Barons, the original one percenters, you'll note that their families are not as powerful as they used to be, and that new faces have taken over. When is the last time you heard the name Morgan in American politics? But you do see the name Paul Allen a lot. Morgan's money doesn't say much anymore, nor does the Rockefeller money. Buffet money says different things than Ford money. Gates and Jobs money says different things than Vanderbilt money.

So, I'm just asking--if money talks, what is it saying?

The point is that circumstances have changed and the "Robber Baron" families as you call them are not running everything today because they were not allowed to get to that point.

Explain to me why, as an example given above the USA is so different from other advanced countries:

In Sweden 20% of the people own 32% of the wealth, and pay 27% of the total tax revenue. 80% own 68% and pay 73% of taxes.

In the USA 20% of the people own 84% of the wealth, and pay 64% of the total tax revenue. 80% own 16% and pay 36% of taxes.

I do not think we have had this type of wealth disparity in the USA in the recent past, and I suggest that there is something wrong in this kind of skewed tax revenue.

52 Bob Levin  Wed, Apr 25, 2012 10:54:35pm

re: #51 Flame Fin Tomini Tang

The point is that circumstances have changed and the "Robber Baron" families as you call them are not running everything today because they were not allowed to get to that point.

I think they had more power, and actually came very close to running the show. Today's rich are just rich. Those families actually had US troops coming to their aid and shooting striking workers. Today there are public utilities, not then. They could have shut down the entire nation if they wanted. A handful of these guys had more money than the US Treasury. Because there were no taxes back then.

Your numbers are interesting, and I think could be explained in several different ways. For instance, I'd like to see comparative patents issued between the two nations. One way of accumulating wealth in the US is to control patents. If we have more patents, then we have more small monopolies. Or, perhaps we could look at savings rates. Do the Swedes save more? Meaning they don't spend as much. Our nation tends to spend like mad. Before the housing crash, people were pulling equity out of their houses very quickly. They were blowing their wealth. However, numbers before the housing crash should have shown that Americans, overall had more wealth per capita, as their property had more value.

I see just from Wikipedia that the entire population of Sweden is just about equal to New York City. This means that few industries are needed to employ the population, perhaps their salaries are higher.

Look through this.

You'll see that they do indeed save more, have a more highly educated society (because of the smallness), and government programs tend to be more effective, also because of the size. For instance, New York, Boston, and Chicago have good mass transit, but overall the US does not. Their economy is also weighted towards exports, our is weighted towards imports, and they made the decision in 1973 to phase out imported oil. This was pretty wise.

All of this would explain those numbers.

53 Achilles Tang  Thu, Apr 26, 2012 1:45:48pm

re: #52 Bob Levin

All of this would explain those numbers.

You over analyse to the point of spinning.

Yes education has something to do with this, meaning a larger portion of the population is in the "middle class", but tax policies also influence factors like this and the simple fact is that many other countries, including Sweden, have a fairer tax system where most people pay a proportionate share to what they earn, as reflected in the numbers I gave.

Yes, they have higher tax rates, but that also pays for things like health care which are not factored into US income taxes.

The USA is unique in it's disparity of wealth and income distribution, outside of places like Saudi.

I don't think it is healthy for the country, let alone social fairness.

54 Bob Levin  Thu, Apr 26, 2012 3:15:45pm

re: #53 Flame Fin Tomini Tang

We're not going to agree on this, but I could easily argue that your concept of fairness is getting in the way of analyzing the facts. Even though this is the present, I think one should analyze it as if it were history.

As it stands now, you would believe that the Swedes are somehow inherently more fair than Americans. Until you live in Sweden and find that they are pretty much like everyone else. Or perhaps you wish to believe that the 1% percent are actually cold-hearted unfair people who control the government--until you meet people who are wealthy, who don't mind being taxed, who give to charity, who are smart and caring.

I've met people who are astoundingly greedy, but have very little money. I've met people who are astoundingly greedy who have a lot of money. Therefore, I'm not keen on using character traits to explain sociology. I like using historical methods.

I'm not spinning anything. You asked me how I would explain some numbers. I said that there are a lot of ways to explain numbers, and here's one explanation. But whatever explanation you choose, you would have to test it.

55 Achilles Tang  Thu, Apr 26, 2012 5:06:49pm

re: #54 Bob Levin

We're not going to agree on this, but I could easily argue that your concept of fairness is getting in the way of analyzing the facts. Even though this is the present, I think one should analyze it as if it were history.

I don't agree that we can't agree, but you seem determined that we can't, which suggests that you are prone to justifying the status quo regardless of the facts; many of which you gave are irrelevant. For example you suggest that Sweden is a small country and therefore unique due to that alone, but it operates in a global economy just like every US state, however small, ultimately does also.

As it stands now, you would believe that the Swedes are somehow inherently more fair than Americans. Until you live in Sweden and find that they are pretty much like everyone else. Or perhaps you wish to believe that the 1% percent are actually cold-hearted unfair people who control the government--until you meet people who are wealthy, who don't mind being taxed, who give to charity, who are smart and caring.

I said nothing of the sort. FYI I was born there many many years ago. There are probably just as many "unfair" and "fair" people in Sweden as anywhere else, except that their tax system doesn't let some get away with paying half or less of their share, as the US system does. I don't buy trickle down. It seems you do. The simple fact is that income tax is on income, not business investment. Nobody who receives millions in income pays "income" tax on what they might invest in business, before taxes.

I've met people who are astoundingly greedy, but have very little money. I've met people who are astoundingly greedy who have a lot of money. Therefore, I'm not keen on using character traits to explain sociology. I like using historical methods.

I am not using character traits to explain anything, and if you want history don't cherry pick your ages. The news these days is full of charts (except on Fox) showing how just the last decade or so has given an enormous boost to high incomes, and nothing to middle or low.

How many jobs, for example, has Romney created in the just the last three or four years on his $20,000,000 plus yearly income on which he pays 14% tax?

I'm not spinning anything. You asked me how I would explain some numbers. I said that there are a lot of ways to explain numbers, and here's one explanation. But whatever explanation you choose, you would have to test it.

The test is there in the results is it not? You know what they say about people who do the same thing over and over and expect a different result each time. :=)

56 Bob Levin  Thu, Apr 26, 2012 11:06:49pm

re: #55 Flame Fin Tomini Tang

I don't buy trickle down. It seems you do.

The test is there in the results is it not? You know what they say about people who do the same thing over and over and expect a different result each time.

Actually, I don't believe in trickle down. See, you didn't test your hypothesis. All you had to do was ask me.

I was very clear, I prefer to use historical methods. That means that I have to test my hypotheses and make sure my words are defined. You are using the word 'fairness'. Who agrees on what this means? It's almost impossible to define. So when talking about taxation, I will never use words like 'fairness'.

And no, the test is not in the results.

I am not using character traits to explain anything, and if you want history don't cherry pick your ages.

I don't even understand what this sentence means. How am I cherry picking, what ages are you talking about?

I'll repeat myself. You asked me to explain some numbers. I did. I don't know if my explanation is the truth, but it fits the facts. That's the best I can do. I think the different sizes of the countries are a better explanation than one country is fair and the other isn't.

How many jobs, for example, has Romney created in the just the last three or four years on his $20,000,000 plus yearly income on which he pays 14% tax?

Do you think I'm voting for Romney?


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