There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.... John Rogers
One of the things that always bothers me about these discussions is that many people talk about "the rich and the poor" as if that was all there was to it; as if there were some sharp dividing line with everybody on THIS side "Poor" and everybody on THAT side "rich".
It is WAY more complicated than that.
There are many levels of "poor", many levels of "rich", and many levels in between.
1. Bill Gates, George Soros, John and Teresa Hines-Kerry, Oprah: The Ultra-Rich.
2. Roger Milliken, and other hard-working industrialists worth hundreds of millions: the Very Rich.
3. Successful medium-scale businesspeople worth tens of millions. The semi-Rich.
4. People worth 1 to 9 million overall, including a lot of retirees and low/mid level business owners, and those with incomes in the 100's of thousands annually: the moderately wealthy.
5. Small business owners, most professionals, many retirees: people with an income around 75-200k.
6. Technicians, skilled labor, successful salesmen, lower-end professionals... income 40-100k annually, but often with a lot of debt. They have their heads above water, but its a narrow margin for most.
7. Semi-skilled labor, less successful salesmen, lots of blue-collar factory workers... 20-50k a year. They've got both ends meeting in the middle but they can't get 'em tied... the "Working poor" in many cases.
8. Unskilled labor, low-end blue-collar, clerks, etc... 15-30k a year. Barely surviving, definitely "working poor".
9. Welfare and food stamps.
There are major differences between the Ultra or Very Rich, and the "merely" rich or Moderately Wealthy. If I recall rightly, Teresa Hines-Kerry only paid about 15% taxes annually, or so it was reported a few years ago, since most of her income was capital gains and she has the best tax lawyers and accountants in the country on her side.
OTOH the moderately wealthy, mid-range business owners and professionals are often paying 40% total in taxes, because their income may not be mostly capital gains and they don't have the top-gun tax lawyers and accountants that the Ultra-rich have.
The middle-class gets the big squeeze, IMO.
Then you have the technicians, auto mechanics, lower-end computer gurus, forklift drivers and truckers, etc... they're making it, but the margin by which their head is above water is slim. A lot of these folks get lumped together with the Welfare crowd and this isn't right, as most such folks work very hard indeed and take little or no Gov't handouts. They can't pay more taxes because their margin of success is so slender.
IMO, the Ultra-Rich and Very Rich do indeed get richer regardless. The positions and prosperity of the moderately wealthy and middle-class professionals and business owners is often more precarious than most realize, and they get squeezed hard. Most of the blue-collar working class don't really benefit from "wealth redistribution" because they take pride in being self-supporting and avoid gov't handouts as a matter of pride.
A lot of retirees, just to mention a group that is often forgotten in these discussions, soak up a lot of public funds in the form of medical bennies and programs and social security.... some of them need it, but some of them have a million-dollar portfolio and STILL play the system for every freebie they can get. IMO we need to quit pretending SS/Medicare is "owed because you payed into it", admit that the money has been put in General Fund and spent, admit that SS/Medicare is a form of Welfare, and quit paying millionaire-retirees out of a nearly bankrupt system.
Fiddling While Rome Burns
Carthago Delenda Est
"I used to roll the dice; see the fear in my enemies' eyes... listen as the crowd would sing, 'now the old king is dead, Long Live the King.'.."
The wealth has absolutely been redistributed DOWN. Money is removed from the rich and given to the poor. It doesn't work the other way around.
The Rich Are Getting Richer
1 – As of 2007, the top 1 percent of all Americans was taking home 24 percent of the national income. This was a level that had not been seen since the days of the Great Depression.
2 – Incomes have been growing in the United States, but those at the very top of the pyramid have been gobbling up almost all of the income growth. According to Harvard Magazine, 66% of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.
3 – Even official government figures bear out the fact that the rich are getting richer. An analysis of income-tax data by the Congressional Budget Office a few years ago found that the top 1% of all American households own nearly twice as much of the corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.
4- Most Americans have suffered during the last few years, but not the boys and girls down on Wall Street. New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says that Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.
5 – Even as the number of Americans living in poverty skyrockets, the number of millionaires just keeps growing. In fact, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million during 2009.
6 – The amount of money some of these Wall Street hotshots are making is incredible. Back in 2005, the top 25 hedge fund managers earned a total of 9 billion dollars. That would be bad enough, but even in these hard economic times the rich just keep getting richer. One year after the recent financial collapse the top 25 hedge fund managers earned a total of approximately $25 billion. That breaks down to an average of $1 billion each. The truth is that the United States has been experiencing uneven prosperity for quite some time and things just seem to get worse with each passing year.
Last edited by liblady; 12-24-10 at 11:33 AM.
Originally Posted by johnny_rebson:
These are the same liberals who forgot how Iraq attacked us on 9/11.
Yes, the rich are getting richer. But WHY? Is it because they're stealing from the poor or they're working hard, putting our products that people want, inventing new things, writing books people want to read, making movies people want to watch, etc.?
What's wrong with making a good living? Why do you seem to hate rich people?
It's GREAT to be me. --- "45% liberal/55% conservative"
Diplomacy is the art of saying 'nice doggy" until you can find a gun.
I tend to view issues such as these by asking various questions such as "how much is a dollar or a thousand dollars or ten thousand dollars worth to a person?, "What are people doing to earn their income?", "what advantages or disadvantages did they have towards such", and other questions that help me put things in perspective.
As to how much a given dollar amount is worth to a person, a thousand bucks simply isn't worth much to a billionaire, but it can be vital to somebody who is poverty stricken. It is the LACK of money that is more telling, since we should be asking whether such a lack is making the difference between a person eating and not eating, staying warm in the winter or not staying warm, or sending their kids to college or not sending them to college. For many people, the difference of even a million dollars has no discernible effect on their standard of living, and so we need to realize that how money is valued varies with how much money one has.
As to how people earn their money, maybe I'm just a didactic s.o.b. by nature, but I just cannot equate the purchase of a stock option on par with going out for 40 or 50 or 60 hours a week to build something -- especially when 5 minutes of one person's time can net them more than a whole year of hard work on the part of the other. I think capital gains SHOULD be taxed at a much, much higher rate than money earned though the fruits of people's labor.
As to advantages and disadvantages, it is a myth that the playing field is level. It has never been level, and the tilt is only increasing. Those born into money have an easier time than those who don't and for every Horatio Alger story, there are a dozen who grew up affluent, were afforded the opportunity to go to a good school, developed networks with others similarly advantaged, and who are able to milk the system for all it's worth, and all for not actually producing anything, but simply transferring capital this way and that.
The truth of the matter is that the income disparity in our country has been increasing ever since the advent of the Trickle down voodoo that was designed for that very intent. Part of this disparity has been masked by the rising affluence overall, since even though the pieces of the pie have been cut in increasingly large slices for a few and smaller for most others, the pie, itself has grown. As that pie shrinks again, however, and as we face the downturns brought about by the very people who have benefited from trickle down, the smaller slices apportioned most people are having a greater affect on their lives.
"you're better off on Stormfront discussing how evil brown men are taking innocent white flowers." Infinite Chaos