By COguy:« on: November 13, 2012, 01:51:08 PM »At the risk of seeming insensitive, I wanted to see what all of you folks thought of this. Is it just complaining?
It seems to me that if one followed mustachian principles they should get out of sticky financial situations much easier. Ride a bike, in source everything, etc...Yet, I know I was lucky to be born to good parents and some of these people were not and I feel that that stacks the deck against them.
Obviously, the medical expenses make sense as being very hard to overcome, but what about the rest?
I think that's two places where the OWS people get it wrong. The "1%" share more in common with the 99 than they do with the 0.01, and the 99 really don't need nor particularly deserve a portion.
I completely disagree. These are not rights, they are needs
In the most objective sense, there is no such thing as a "right" in the first place. Its something granted by a government. In the real world a deer has no "right" to not be eaten by a wolf. Nor do you have a "right" to not be murdered by a mugger. Then of course you have no right to "property", never mind privacy or representative government.
For that matter, the rich don't have a "right" to any of their wealth, so perhaps it should just be them and their hired militia to stand between the masses and their stuff, not government sponsored police.
We have all collectively decided to organize society into this thing called "civilization", and we get to decide that basic necessities should be rights.
If you want to be all philosophical and say that morality is a purely human mental construct, that's one thing (and then rape, murder, whatever you want is ok, so long as you don't get caught), but if we accept the existence of morality as an axiom, then letting some people have yachts and Bentlys with inherited money while others are born into homelessness is wrong.
Yes, a lot of middle class people make stupid choices and think they are poor. Yes, a lot of people have an undeserved sense of entitlement. Whatever random people decide to post a pic to a 99% website don't define the entire movement. The simple fact is the US has the 2nd highest level of wealth inequality of any first world nation, and the 5th highest in the world.
Its not because we have an unusually extreme distribution intelligence and work ethic (that some Americans are smarter and work harder than anyone else in the world, but most are stupid and lazy), its because we have laws set up that specifically reward already having money, and therefor naturally concentrate wealth to extremes.
And especially see the last 5 of the external links at the bottom of that page:
That is what OWS is about. Not just some whiny self-entitled middle class people with internet connections and a camera.
Comparisons with the American working class and other nations are not apples-to-apples. There is a big difference between a nation not providing for its people because there simply is no money available, and having an enormous excess of wealth available which is just hoarded by a few people.
Certainly for any given individual personal responsibility and talent and work ethic and frugality all play into success, but for society as a whole there is a finite amount of material resources at any given time, and when 12 people - literally twelve - hold as much wealth between them as the poorest 150 MILLION Americans (thats about 1/2 the entire population) then that limits how much is available to everyone else. That level of wealth is obviously outside of any possible amount that could be justified by differences in natural talent and work ethic.
We don't have anything remotely resembling a level playing field.
There was once a time where in most of the world the King owned everything, and everyone was his subject. He got the position by being born into it. Most of the world has gone out of their way to move away from that model. Some of us see the current extreme concentrations of wealth (and the influence of money on government) as being a step back towards an aristocracy.
Personally, I'm a fan of democracy, so I feel that is a bad thing.
What I said was immoral was some people being born into billions, and other people being born into homelessness. Exactly how is that situation made better by free market principals? Are infants poor only because of their own lack of work ethic? Is it by their own poor choices that toddlers fails to enroll themselves in preschool, which has the largest impact of any variable on future school performance, all the way to college?
Exactly who are these people who's actions created a higher standard of living for America who, if they had been limited to, say, 1 billion dollars, instead of 10, would have said "fuck it, its not worth it, I'm just going to take a part time job at Denny's instead"? I don't think they ever existed. I think that's a story that rich people came up with in order to get the middle class to vote for tax breaks and lax business regulations. If the only reason people get rich is to pass it to their children, then why do some rich people never have kids, and why are almost a third donating most of it to charity rather than passing it down? http://money.cnn.com/2012/06/18/pf/rich-inheritance/index.htm
Its only "usually a government" BECAUSE we have the privilege of the protection of government to take for granted. Otherwise anyone who has the bigger muscles / gang / firepower can take away anything they like from you at any time, up to and including your life. Besides, religions and firearms don't exist unless people work to produce them either. That's one of the main reasons we have government in the first place - the chances of deliberate premature death at the hands of another person are far lower if you live within a centralized government. You have no speech or religion if you are stabbed in the back by someone who wants your food or your girlfriend.
Farming, mining, and other natural resources extraction creates value to humans that was unavailable previously. Yes, technology can allow the value of raw materials to increase, essentially creating entirely new value that was never there. In that sense economic growth is not a zero sum game. This does not mean that any money that anyone acquires increases the total available value for everyone. Some (individual) wealth generation is just a reorganization of existing value from one individual to another.
In any event, while the total pot can grow over time, we only live and eat and shop in the present, and at any given moment their is a finite amount of resources that exist. No matter how smart and hard-working 300million Americans are, there is no possible way they could divide a GDP of 15 trillon and have 1 million each.
The idea that the existence of wealth inequality in itself somehow generates total wealth for society is certainly what the people who benefit most from the arrangement want everyone to believe, and obviously the view has become mainstream, but I'm not convinced that the trickle down theory ever had any merit to it to begin with.
The implication here seems to be that the only reason some people work hard or innovate is because they have the chance to become multi-trillionairs - and pass 100% of those trillions on to their kids. Therefore, if we had any form of limitation on wealth accumulation or inheritance, no one would ever invent anything, or discover anything, or work more than the least they could get away with to make ends meet.
Except that looking at the scientists and inventors through history who made significant advances to human technology, a lot of them never even tried to get rich from their work. They did the work out of scientific curiosity, or for the betterment of humanity, or just to see if they could. No one thought they could patent and sell the invention of fire, or the wheel, and get rich from them. Many scientists and inventors in more modern times have deliberately made their discoveries public for the explicit reason of the betterment of society.
In many cases, if anyone did get rich from the idea, it wasn't the person who actually invented it.
Communist USSR managed to build a satellite before we did - and even our own moon landing was entirely publicly funded.
The mere fact of generating income for one's self does not mean you are actually making society richer. A good example is an advertising executive. They are not producing a good for society. They are merely redirecting existing wealth from consumers to their particular client. The competition may have a better product, but a good advertiser can overcome the competition's value by using psychological manipulation tricks. The client will pay them a percentage of the money they generate for them, but society as a whole is actually worse off than if they had done nothing. I don't understand where this crazy idea comes from that anyone who makes money must be causing the creation of an equal value for society as a whole that would never have existed otherwise. Gates, for example, didn't create transistors and operating systems in a bubble, one man's genius giving us computers. If he hadn't come up with MS DOS, we would have one of the other many operating systems that existed at the time, or we would have more competition than just MS and Apple. There is no equivalent to Gates and Jobs for linux because the hard working innovative people who created it choose not to patent it and create semi-monopolistic corporations. There are thousands of free open-source software programs, made by thousands of developers who make their work available for voluntary donations who should call into question the theory that people only generate value for society because of the promise of unlimited wealth.
I don't think its so vague;
I was thinking of how more than half the presidencies in my lifetime were of men who were wealthy before going into office, or that the median senator's net worth is 2.6 million with a total of 57 members of congress in the "1%". As much as $30 billion was spent on lobbying in the US last year, $6 billion was spent on the presidential election, of which over 10% was nearly unregulated superPAC money.
Money has significant influence on politics. If the means to who has access to wealth is determined in large part by which parents you are born to - http://www.nationofchange.org/self-made-myth-and-our-hallucinating-rich-1348495606 - it makes for a "form of government in which a few elite citizens rule"
In fact, the very idea of an unregulated economy implies that the major decisions of what goods and services will and will not be produced and how they will be distributed is in the hands of the market. More money = more influence over the collective choices and direction of a society. This is in contrast to the principal of democracy "in which all eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives". The economy - i.e. goods, services, and jobs, most certainly affects peoples lives.
I agree with you on that 100%
And how exactly is it reasonable to blame the child for being born into poverty? If it isn't, why is it reasonable for the child to receive the punishment for their parent's lack of responsibility. It's a bit like saying to a crack-whore seeking an abortion that she should of thought of that before she had sex with her dealer. How is forcing the child into uneducated poverty making up for a lack of accountability?
Since the answer is "it isn't", your point, however valid, is entirely irrelevant to this discussion.
Because as a whole the US has much more resources to go around, with its enormous GDP? Because, regardless of distribution, the working poor here have much more than the poor in the 3rd world? Which is why I said earlier that the most just option would not be to redistribute the wealth of the top 0.01% of Americans to the middle class or even the poor in America, it would be to redistribute it to the 3rd world.
I don't make that assumption. I'm just leaving it as a hypothesis.
Note that there is not a strong correlation between average standard of living
and economic freedom http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Index_of_Economic_Freedom
I question whether anyone can truly "generate" 9b worth of wealth. When someone initially comes up with a brilliant idea, they are generating wealth that never existed. When someone is the CEO of a corporation and has hundreds of employees, or is collecting rent on real estate or dividends on investments, or collecting royalties on a patent or book, or whatever, they are no longer generating new wealth, they are simply leveraging their existing capital to skim a portion of the value of the labor of others off the top of each transaction. If a person stops accumulating wealth after 1b, fine. I don't understand how them making 9b more benefits anyone other than themselves and their heirs. If they weren't making it, that wealth would be available to others. If a CEO only makes 100k a year instead of a million, it can afford to give the employees a raise. How is them making a million causing the nations GDP as a whole to rise? Again, sounds like trickle down theory to me, which I just don't see any evidence for.
However, I also value stasis in government, mostly because static government policies help people make good, confident decisions about their future. If you want to change tax rates, I put a high burden of proof on you because there are people who have made plans under the existing tax rates.
Basically, I agree with you that it is wrong for some to be fantastically wealthy while others starve. But a government solution could destroy wealth for the rest of us. It might be worth it to forgo a certain amount of global wealth in order to forcibly spread what's left more equally, but you could only come to that conclusion after setting a lot of premises and considering the positives and the negatives.
Agreed. I think one place to start looking might be one of the 22 nations which manages to have a higher standard of living than us, in most cases even despite a lower GDP per capita:
I know what the idea is.
And, like with so many of the ideas floating around that attempt to justify massive wealth inequality, the idea doesn't reflect reality:
CEOs are like Tulip bulbs in the Netherlands in 1637 - they are expensive because they are expensive.
And again, generating wealth - even if it is not only for yourself, but also for your shareholders - does not mean new wealth was created.
Say I work hard and live frugally for years, use my savings to buy a multi-unit rental house, keep working with my new faster savings rate, and using that income plus leverage existing equity, I buy more rentals.
Eventually, with all the savings from passive income, I buy out a small company that is doing well, from an owner that wants to retire. A few years later I use company funds to buy out our main local rival. I eliminate redundant jobs, increasing profit margin. Now that the company is large and has greater reach, I can invest in automation equipment, which makes the workers more productive, which in turn allows positions to be eliminated. A few years later I buy out another, larger company increasing both our market and market share at once, and again, eliminate redundant jobs. As time goes on I may outsource entire departments, buy out more rivals or companies in different fields, or even hire a lobbing firm to try to get our taxes reduced. All of these steps would be justified in the same of "staying competitive".
When people look at my story, I had no inheritance, therefore I am "self-made".
From the point of view of any shareholders or investors, I have increased efficiency thereby potentially generating higher dividends for them.
Since I own the means of production, I may even be called a "job creator"
But what have I actually created? In the beginning, when I still had a 9-5 I was being compensated for creating something of value. But the rest of the story I am just redirecting existing cash flow to myself. I didn't build new houses (or have them built), I simply purchased houses that were already there. I did not create a business from the ground up, I purchased one that already existed, and then grew by consolidating other existing businesses. All the jobs those businesses provided were already there. In fact, the main way I increased efficiency was by eliminating jobs.
I am not saying that there isn't also some true wealth generation happening at all levels, or that this example represents all upper level economic activity, but its meant to illustrate that the mere fact of making money is not in itself evidence of creating any benefit for society as a whole.
I propose that this sort of thing really does happen, and in fact represents a significant portion of what justified as "staying competitive", "increasing efficiency", "self-made", and "job creator".
Take workplace automation, corporate consolidation, and outsourcing, for example. This done on a large scale would likely result in median wages stagnating, as scarce jobs depress competition for employees, and eventually would drive up unemployment. This would make the overall average productivity per American worker increase, without passing the value of their own productivity to them
At the same time it would result in increases in the stock market, and potentially increases in GDP, though those increases would be concentrated almost entirely at the top of the existing wealth curve.
This isn't a new trend
but you can see sharp increases in the disparity at key times in political history. What happened just before the spike in disparity in the mid 80s? Reagan, with his policies of supply-side economics and laissez-faire capitalism, deregulation and large high-income tax cuts. Then it goes even steeper, with Clinton encouraging outsourcing with NAFTA, corporate consolidation with the telecommunications act, and the repeal of Glass–Steagall
Of course those are only looking at the top 1%, which have done well, but as I've said before, the disparity between the top 0.1% and the top 1% is greater than between the 1% and the 99% (and between the top 0.01 and the 0.1 is even greater still)
Given the number of nations who have less inequality and more socialist policies, yet a higher median standard of living, and given that median income has not in fact grown proportionately with GDP in the US, what reason is there to believe that policies that help the already to rich to become super rich somehow benefits society as a whole?
I'll acknowledge that, totally. I grew up in that culture. But I don't think its so clear which is cause and which is effect. I think a large part of the reason for that culture is that public education has failed the communities that have it for generations, going all the way back to "separate but equal" which was never in fact remotely equal. More recently we had (have?) a system where a school which is in need of more resources is given less, while a school which is already doing ok is given more (test score based funding). I don't know if you have ever been a public school teacher in a poor inner city neighborhood, but suffice it to say there is a reason there is such high turn-over. From a student's point of view, its extra challenging to be enthusiastic about learning when the teacher's two main focuses are discipline and standardized test scores (though the teachers themselves don't deserve the blame for this, as they don't really have a choice). The educational system failed the parents 20 years ago, and they don't see any relevance to science or literature or algebra in their day to day lives, so they don't encourage their children. Of course there are individual exceptions, examples of people who ignored the culture around them and had intelligence to succeed, but there is a systemic reason the culture exists
Those are not the only alternatives. How about mandating and fully funding pre-school and kindergarten, so that kids who's parents can't afford private pre-school don't enter 1st grade two full years behind?
How about extending FASFA so that it fully funds everything but living expenses for 4 years of college for anyone who can't afford it? How about changing the welfare laws so that a parent can go to college without being cut-off
(as it is, anyone on AFDC is required to look for work - any work they can find - or else they are cut-off. Going to college is not an acceptable alternative. I know this because it is what happened to my family. My mother just gave up the benefits so she could finish her degree)
How about making education more relevant by, for example, teaching kids about financial management?
How about fully funding schools on the federal, or at least the state, level, so that schools in poor neighborhoods have the same resources as ones in wealthy neighborhoods (I know of public schools that have a computer for every student, and others where the teachers have to literally bring in their own paper from home in order to make copies), and making that funding increase (or at the very least not decrease) if the students are struggling?
The money for all these programs can come from the savings they would create in the prison and welfare budgets, as well as the increasing GDP from having an entire sub-set of the population become productive members of the economy.
Its easy to point blame at specific individuals, but when its as wide-spread as it is, eventually you have to look for the systemic root and fix it. Talking about "individual responsibility" doesn't make anything better.
Sure, history does not force any particular individual to, for example, commit a crime, every individual is responsible for their own choices, and they should be held accountable for their actions. But when you look at a population as a whole on the macro level, you have to take the big picture into account. Black people as a whole have a higher crime rate. And to focus entirely on individual choices while ignoring 250 years of slavery (reparations for which were never paid) followed by almost 100 years of segregation and Jim Crow, with the civil rights movement being only ONE SINGLE generation ago, is well, ignorant. Literally. Obviously, regardless of the existence of overt racism or who we elect as president, the effects of this, which has spanned the majority of the history of the country, are not going to simply disappear overnight, especially considering that as a society we have done next to nothing to try to make up for it. So we continue to see a disparity in poverty rates, crime rates, and, yes, cultural views of education.
Just like tooqs comment that poor people shouldn't have children, blaming individual susceptibility to culture does nothing to improve anything for anyone, so why even bring it up?
If "separate but equal" was the cause, why would we see almost exactly the same process at work in the overwhelmingly white redneck/hillbilly areas, such as the one in which I grew up?
Because my example was just an example. Its really more about class than race. Note my mention in the last post of locally funded education, with any federal assistance being test score based. These both serve to make things more challenging for any community which is already poor, of any color. Poor rural areas are at a disadvantage just like poor urban areas are.
Everyone keeps pointing out that upward mobility is possible for an individual. There is no question that this is better than a straight caste system or serfdom, but the point is that some people have to work very hard at it, while others have everything handed to them. Inequality thats due to differences in talent and work ethic are fine, the problem is a political and economic system designed specifically to help the already rich get richer and make it especially challenging for the poor.
Basically all of the legal ones, at least for the past few decades.
"People who want to become immigrants may apply... according to the following employment based preferences:
First Preference: Priority Workers, including aliens with extraordinary abilities, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational executives and managers
Second Preference: Members of professions holding an advanced degree or persons of exceptional ability (including individuals seeking a National Interest Waiver)
Third Preference: Skilled Workers, professionals and other qualified workers
Fourth Preference: Certain special immigrants including those in religious vocations
Fifth Preference: Employment creation immigrants (investors or entrepreneurs)"
The very fact of having been allowed to immigrate to the US is evidence of already having a head start. Otherwise they don't let you in.
For automation, consolidation, and other domestic efficiency gains, the benefits are definitely passed on to the average American. On the consumption side, goods are now cheaper to produce and cheaper to buy. Families then need to work fewer hours to maintain the same standard of living, driving down competition for employment to compensate for fewer work-hours available.
Between 1935 and 1946, unions were formally legalized, minimum wage was instituted, and the 40-hour work week began. These things, in theory, should have caused greater inefficiency, depressing economic output. GDP actually raised faster than average during that period. http://www.multpl.com/us-gdp-inflation-adjusted/
The main effect was, as intended, to distribute more of the gain in GDP to the working class.
On the other hand, the 80s and 90s saw deregulation, NAFTA, and the lifting of anti-monopoly laws, which should in theory have driven prices down due to increased efficiency. Yet CPI rose roughly 3.5% during this time, just about the average rate since 1914 http://www.bls.gov/data/#prices
As I already showed in previous graphs, these trends did NOT raise (inflation adjusted) median income. In fact, as a percentage of production, wages fell sharply during that time
So if efficiency increased, yet wages didn't, and prices didn't drop, where did all the extra money go?
Corporate profits - i.e. CEOs and shareholders.
But individuals are what matter.
How come? According to your logic, shouldn't we be handicapping those born with (or who have acquired through effort) above-average levels of talent, looks, physical fitness, etc?
To be clear: I am not advocating wealth re-distribution in the communist revolution sense, where property is confiscated from the wealthy and handed to the poor, which seems to be what you and others are arguing against.
What I am advocating is policies that are designed to facilitate upward mobility for the lower classes, and temper the rate at which the already rich get an increasing share of all available wealth.
Examples on the poor individual's side include the educational suggestions I made earlier (free and mandatory pre-school, needs based funding as opposed to needs based de-funding, free 4 years of college), providing daycare to parents in college, and making enrollment in college an acceptable alternative to job seeking for public assistance.
Examples on the other side include preventing corporate consolidation (which destroys competition and is a gross corruption of the free market), providing disincentives for outsourcing, supporting unions, making minimum wage a "living wage", taxing unearned income (inheritance, dividends, capital gains, rent, business profits, etc) at least as high as wage and salary income, if not higher (instead of taxing them less, as it currently is, which is a very obvious mechanism by rich the already rich will tend to get even richer, as it requires capital to have passive income), and perhaps even mandating some level of profit sharing with employees of corporations.
You claim this, but evidence shows that it is not true. The rich do not, in general, get richer.
Here, I'll post it again, so you don't have to find it:
That red line represents "the rich". Its getting bigger over time.
And of that, the very rich have gotten the majority of those gains
Between 1976 and 2008, US average income increased $12k. Of that the richest 10% got 100% of it. The lower 90% got 0% of it.
Those gains have not been due to just increases in real wealth, as the rate of gain of the top 0.01% has significantly outpaced the rate of GDP growth. The difference has to actually come from somewhere. Where it comes from is everyone else.
In other words, not only are they getting richer, but they are getting an increasing portion of the total available wealth.
Given that this is population wide, and covers all 300 million of us, and that it changed dramatically at a specific point in time, it can't be explained by individual go getters suddenly generating their own wealth and individual consumers suddenly getting dumber.
During the 30s and 40s, when government policy changed to encourage relative equality of opportunity, the share of wealth became more evenly distributed. During the 80s and 90s when government policy was focused on making conditions optimal for big business, wealth became less evenly distributed.
This is why the wealth of the top 0.1% and 0.01% matters.
Nobody gets to the Forbes 400 on only hourly wages. Its people in upper management, investors, inventors, real estate holders, and other forms of passive income and/or having employees who work for you. It would not be possible for everyone to do that, because then no one would be doing any of the actual work that creates wealth.
Since there is no possible way that everyone can be a supervisor, "become the supervisor" is not a valid method by which the working class could succeed. Same for any of the other methods of passive income. See first paragraph of this post, above.
You seem very intent on disproving the straw man arguments you keep projecting onto me - even after I explicitly stated that was not my argument, and spelled out exactly what it was. No one claimed things should be made more equal by giving cash hand-outs to the poor, and no one claimed "the rich" was a static group of specific individuals. Nobody makes those arguments, they are always straw men that conservatives and libertarians project onto "liberals" so that they can seem more credible. It doesn't even address the actual points I've made, which I won't repeat, because I've written too much on it already.
1) You are not expressing what you mean well enough for me to understand it;
2) You're expressing what you mean to say well enough, but I'm too stupid to understand it.
3) You're saying what you mean, and I understand it, but then when I draw the obvious/inescapable conclusions, you repudiate them because they don't sound so nice in plain language.
You've been claiming that it's more difficult to get on the upward mobility ladder, because - your implication - "the rich" are in some sort of conspiracy to game the system and keep getting richer. I point out that this is not the case; that "the rich" aren't a fixed group, and that it is if anything ]u]easier[\u] to become upwardly mobile now than say when I graduated from high school, and that if large numbers of people aren't upwardly mobile, it's because they chose other paths in life. Seems to me as though the third alternative is the best match.
What you believe are "obvious/inescapable conclusions" I see as neither.
I never said anything about a conspiracy!!
I never said anything about gaming the system. I never even said it was the rich themselves causing the changes that concentrate wealth. I pointed out a few very specific federal government policy changes - changes based on an ideology much like your own - which had the effect of encouraging a greater concentration of wealth.
I never said "the rich" is a fixed group - in fact I acknowledged it wasn't the first time you mentioned it, and have again since then. It doesn't change my point that government policy can make it easier to get super rich based on already being somewhat rich, and that a large portion of that wealth comes from transfers from lower down, not just newly created wealth.
Maybe I can explain it better with an analogy:
Wealth is represented by snow. Everyone can go outside and make a snowball. The harder they work at gathering, the bigger their snowball is. That's just fine, people who work harder deserve bigger snowballs. The government should not take large hand built snowballs, and give them to people who are just laying around making snow angels. That's what you are arguing against, and I agree with it. But that's not the whole story.
Some people happen to be born in areas with 6inches of snow, while others just have a light dusting. This has nothing to do with individual choices (unless pre-concieved spirits decide which parents to have). Even then, the people born to snow poor areas (for example, with crappy public schools) could still make big snowballs, they just have to work harder at it. In your mind, that is still fair, because it is possible. Fine.
In addition, the entire landscape can tilt. It is tilted steeply to one side so that once a snowball hits a certain threshold, it just starts rolling downhill and gathering snow all by itself. This is how people get enormous avalanche size snowballs. In the popular vernacular, these are "self-made", because the core was hand-built.
What I am saying is that these run-away snowballs take up entire fields of snow with them, leaving less available for others to hand build there own. I am also saying that government policy determines the slope of the landscape. If government chooses to, it can make it level, so that everyone has to make their own snowballs by hand.
This will have the effect that less snow is captured in snowballs overall (lower GDP), but I don't see why increased GDP is necessarily a good thing if (as has actually happened) 100% of the increase goes to the very people who don't actually need any more.
Whether or not all the snow melts each summer is irrelevant (as is whether or not the rich are a static group). Whether or not the rich influence the government (although we all know they do) is irrelevant.
All I am arguing for is government policy that corrects for the inherent inequality and inefficiency of a purely free market, to create as closely as possible the "perfect" market that Adam Smith envisioned.
Loved the analogy...it is spot on for both sides of the argument. The problem is that the two sides fundamentally disagree. Just because someone was born into a snowy area doesn't mean it wasn't accumulated from the prior generation, and just because it rolls faster down hill doesn't mean that it is wrong. By stopping this rolling snow ball would be doing exactly what you said you were against that is - dropping a snowball in front of those making snow angels.
Also: I don't accept the implication of a family as a unit, as opposed to an individual. I think that line of reasoning leads to the justification of caste systems and aristocracy, and undermines equality of opportunity and upper mobility. Let each generation - each person - earn their own way.
The snow melting is exactly what matters if you are saying that upward mobility doesn't exist. And besides the poor influence politicians as much as the rich - one is trying to get more from the government so they can stay poor and the other is trying to give less to government so they can stay rich - these rich people pay 70% of the taxes.
There is no such thing as a perfect market because there will always be winners and losers - and losers will never see it as perfect.
If these conditions don't apply, even the theory predicts market inefficiencies. And in the real world, these conditions are in fact never there. What I'm saying is that government can either take steps to move conditions in the direction of a more "perfect" market, or it can take steps to distort it even more. Sometimes a lack of regulations causes a more distorted market.
If you ignore distribution and take the society as a whole (where the super rich drag the average upwards), and take into account nothing except gross GDP per capita, there are still 7 European nations ahead of us
More to the point, the list of nations that outranks us for GDP per capita have a variety of economic systems, many socialist, with all but 4 of the 13 having less "economic freedom" than the US http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Index_of_Economic_Freedom
Near the top of the list for nearly every measure of standard of living is Norway:
"The Norwegian economy is an example of a mixed economy, a prosperous capitalist welfare state featuring a combination of free market activity and large state ownership in certain key sectors. The Norwegian welfare state makes public health care free (above a certain level), and parents have 46 weeks paid parental leave. The income that the state receives from natural resources includes a significant contribution from petroleum production and the substantial and carefully managed income related to this sector. Norway has a very low unemployment rate, currently 2.6%. 30% of the labour force are employed by the government, the highest in the OECD. 22% are on welfare and 13% are too disabled to work, the highest proportions in the world. The hourly productivity levels, as well as average hourly wages in Norway are among the highest in the world. The egalitarian values of the Norwegian society ensure that the wage difference between the lowest paid worker and the CEO of most companies is much smaller than in comparable western economies. This is also evident in Norway's low Gini coefficient. The state has large ownership positions in key industrial sectors... the government controls approximately 30% of the stock values at the Oslo Stock Exchange. When non-listed companies are included, the state has even higher share in ownership..." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norway#Economy
And as already mentioned, much of the economic factors in the Norwegian standard of living are the result of it just happening to be located right next to the North Sea oil fields. By that same measure (and for the same reason) Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates have very high per capita incomes, but that doesn't translate to quality of life.
Indeed, most of the countries with high per capita GDP have large oil reserves.
Including the US. Which is #3 in the world for oil production
So, if having oil reserves invalidates a countries economic system as the reason for it's prosperity, then our own high GDP may be despite our economic system, not because of it, as well.
I agree that gdp alone does not translate to quality of life - thats the whole reason the HDI, which measures life expectancy, literacy, education, standards of living, and quality of life, was created.
I suppose if you don't like those factors, you could use this one http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quality-of-life_Index or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satisfaction_with_Life_Index
I included the GDP per capita because of the sentiment expressed here that wealth generation is inherently valuable.
That said, once again, the US is not at the top of the list
Notice that every single one of the countries that out ranks us in the human development index has a net positive immigration rate, including 5 with higher immigration rates than the US.
So while I don't think your measure is necessarily accurate, it does generally support the same points I made before
I get what you are saying - how do you define this point when it starts rolling on its own and why can't it roll on its own, afterall that is the whole point of starting a company and investing and taking risk. I think we'll just have to disagree.
This too. The whole point is to do as much as possible so your kids have it better than you do - so when a mom who works three jobs so she can afford to live in the suburbs or send her kids to private school so her kid can get a better education and then that kid goes to college gets a good job saves money then pays for their kids college and that kid starts a business and makes millions and has three kids - one takes over the family business, one becomes an artist, and one says I have a trust fund so I will volunteer all my time to charitable endeavors..and so on and so on.
So it looks like we disagree here as well because I don't see how doing things to better the next generation is bad.
And like I mentioned to Jamesqf, the US has higher oil production than they do, so, if their economic sucess doesn't count for that reason, neither does ours.
Well, I suppose you can think whatever you like, but I think I've been pretty consistent, through this thread and the ethics threads, about my actual beliefs and reasoning.
Anyway, I guess this is probably as close as we come to agreeing, so, I'm happy with that! :)