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DAVID ROSMAN: GOP doing best to make a happy holidays — for the rich

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 2:05 p.m. CST, Wednesday, December 22, 2010

* This column has been updated to reflect the most recent news about the probable Senate passage of New START.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, good solstice, a wonderful Saturnalia and a Happy New Year from your United States Congress. More specifically, from members of the Party on the Right. They are the ones giving the citizens of the United States a wealth of gifts for the season.

Let me rephrase part of that. They are giving the wealthy citizens of the United States gifts. Yes, the rest of us can keep what we’ve had for the past few years, but the wealthy are getting more.

The party of “family values” has spent little time in the seat of government, filibustering legislation and blaming everyone else for the troubles in Washington, only stopping their filibustering once the wealthy got their tax breaks.

Example: Before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled the omnibus tax bill, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., threatened to have the entire spending bill read, word for word, page for almost 2,000 pages. Why? In DeMint’s words, “(W)e’re trying to run out the clock. They should not be able to pass this kind of legislation (the monies to run the government) in a lame-duck Congress.” Trying hard not to do the people’s business.

*The GOP had gone as far as declaring that New START can wait, putting every person on the planet in a nuclear holocaust zone, before Tuesday's announcement that the Senate leadership had gathered the necessary 70 votes for ratification. Even GOP senators who know how important this issue is removed their support because of, what I believe to be, an implied or actual threat from their leadership before coming to their senses.

The Party on the Right has gone as far as lowering itself in to the muck, using religion as a basis for their doing nothing for anyone.

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., railed against the Democrats for forcing Congress to work into Christmas week. Like there are no Democrats of the Christian faith. Said Kyle on the floor of the Senate, “It is impossible to do all of the things that the majority leader laid out … without disrespecting the institution and without disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians and the families of all of the Senate, not just the senators themselves but all of the staff.”

Mr. Kyl, you can go home Thursday and come back to work on Monday like the rest of us. Congress does not work on Fridays anyway.

You know who else would like off for religious holy days but cannot take that pleasure? Our police and firefighters, and members of our armed forces serving around the world to protect our interests, our borders and our citizens from harm. How selfish can one political party be?

To say this is not a Missouri issue is wrong. Our own Sen. Kit Bond, a Republican, took to the floor Friday afternoon to talk about the need to mine rare earth minerals in Missouri instead of China.

Yes, this is an important issue, but using basic triage, this is a minor wound as compared to the hemorrhaging of the American middle and lower economic classes. Why isn’t Bond, in his last days as someone who can do something, talking about the spending bill and the nuclear arms reduction treaty?

The voters in 2010 do not make a Republican or conservative mandate. It was a mandate for Congress to do its job. The Democrats are. The GOP?

“What did they do? Nothing. Nothing. That Congress never did anything the whole time it was in session, but they tried to sabotage the (country).” Barack Obama? No, Missouri’s own Harry S. Truman in 1948 talking about the congressional Republicans. Its déjà vu all over again. (Sorry Yogi.)

We, as citizens, can no longer allow the GOP to push its weight around like an old bull elephant. We need to move forward, not in reverse, pulling like a good Missouri mule.

In this season for peace, goodwill to all humankind, and health for our Earth, I hope this finds you all well, in great spirits and safe. Remember the poor and homeless. Hug your family, neighbors and your enemies. Matthew 5:39.

David Rosman is an award-winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at InkandVoice.com and New York Journal of Books.

 


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Comments

Robert Kimsey December 22, 2010 | 11:32 a.m.

The headline here has almost nothing to do with the rest of the article, which is just a generalized rant against the GOP.

They're giving the wealthy "gifts," eh? So in the author's view, letting people keep their own money is a "gift."

One wonders how this mindset can flourish in the mind of a rational person. Perhaps it doesn't.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 22, 2010 | 12:07 p.m.

So then Robert, at it's outset were you supportive of the Afghan war? The war in Iraq?

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm December 22, 2010 | 12:30 p.m.

"They're giving the wealthy "gifts," eh? So in the author's view, letting people keep their own money is a "gift."

I am beyond sick of this argument. We all benefit from the government and we must pay to get those benefits. Once you start using government services part of your income is no longer yours, it is a liability that you owe to the government to pay for the services rendered. The wealthier you are the more you benefit from our government and the protections it offers and thus the greater your tax liability should be. This is not about letting people keep what is theirs; this is about people paying for what they have used and demanded (it is not the poor guy lobbying for all this spending in Washington; it is the rich guy). Yes, this is a gift from the GOP to the rich, they are allowing them to keep a large percentage of the services they received free of charge. In my book, getting something for free is a gift.

This mind set is what got us into this mess as a country. If Americans had paid for their fair share over the past 30 years then we would not have a multi-trillion dollar deficit that is growing by the minute. I was a republican my entire life until a few years ago. I finally realized that they were not the party of fiscal responsibility like they claimed and then realized that they are actually responsible for the vast majority of our nation’s debt. Things like the First Responders bill getting filibustered by the GOP was the final nail in the coffin. There are no moral values, integrity or American pride on the right side of the aisle. The GOP betrayed the policeman, fireman, EMTs etc that ran into the burning twin towers to save their fellow Americans so that they could ensure tax cuts for the richest of the rich. It is disgusting, immoral and 100% un-American. I have no respect for anyone who still supports the GOP.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 22, 2010 | 2:37 p.m.

Whoa Jack! That's some crazy talk going on. I "owe" the government money based on how we'll I'm doing? What sort of statist, subservient nonsense is that? I'm not going to argue that there are some government services that are worthwhile, but we have far bigger government than we need and a tax bill and deficit to match. And to claim that people owe more and more of THEIR income as they better themselves in life, often with no help or sometimes in spite of government? Man, I don't know how to respond to that dreck.

But maybe I should try your argument out and see how far I can get with that. My children don't attend public school, should I petition CPS to give me back my annual property taxes? I work from home, so I don't use the roads as much as your typical resident. Can I demand that the state and feds reimburse me a portion of my gas tax?

And if you think the Democrats at a national level are any better on fiscal issues than the Republicans, well, there you go again in the words of Reagan.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking December 22, 2010 | 3:15 p.m.

Jack Hamm wrote:

"The wealthier you are the more you benefit from our government and the protections it offers and thus the greater your tax liability should be."

Please explain that. I understand that it is lower income people that need more help from the government - wealthy people can buy what they need for themselves.

We all benefit from our government's protections. Moreover, wealthy people pay the lion's share of income tax anyway.

On a related note, I'm not sure why a change in top rates from 36% to 39% rates all of this partisan bickering. Whether the cuts had been allowed to expire or not, the effect on the economy and the deficit would have been minimal.

It would be good to remember that confiscating the entire income of the top 500 wealthiest people in the US would only cover our current deficit for about a year and a half, and would only do it once. After that you've killed the goose. Our spending is far too great for any reasonable tax increase on any segment of our population to change our situation much.

DK

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm December 22, 2010 | 3:20 p.m.

@ John

“Whoa Jack! That's some crazy talk going on. I "owe" the government money based on how we'll I'm doing? What sort of statist, subservient nonsense is that?”

No you owe the government money based on the fact that you used government services which I wrote very clearly and precisely but nice try and completely misconstruing what I said. I went on to say that the more you use government services the more you should have to pay which seems rather basic and straightforward to me.

You completely missed the point of what I wrote. If you use public services (roads, schools, police, national defense etc) then yes you owe payment for those services. Generally speaking the wealthier you are the more you benefit from those services.

Note that I made no point on whether these government services are worthwhile. I merely stated that if one demands and consumes services then they should pay for those services. Do you disagree?

“And to claim that people owe more and more of THEIR income as they better themselves in life, often with no help or sometimes in spite of government? Man, I don't know how to respond to that dreck”

Now this is nonsense. Show me one business in this country that has succeeded without using public roads, who has employees that were not educated in public schools, whose property rights are not protected by the courts and law enforcement and whose security (especially if it is a global business) is not ensured by the US Military. Yes, the more you prosper in this country the more you have to protect and the more you benefit from the protections and services of the government and thus the more one should pay. It is basic self preservation. If you benefit from a system (obviously the rich are benefiting from our system) then one would logically concluded that it is in your best interest to ensure that system continues and remains solvent.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 22, 2010 | 3:20 p.m.

Jack, the people who need to pay their fair share are the nearly 50% of taxpayers who pay no federal income tax. In fact, many of them instead get a check -- courtesy of those who pay their fair share and then some -- simply for gracing us with their presence.

How did the ranks of freeloaders get so large? A major reason is the tax cuts of the past decade, such as doubling the child care tax credit and reducing the 15% bracket to 10%.

The freeloaders should humble themselves before those who are carrying their load.

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm December 22, 2010 | 3:20 p.m.

“But maybe I should try your argument out and see how far I can get with that. My children don't attend public school, should I petition CPS to give me back my annual property taxes? I work from home, so I don't use the roads as much as your typical resident. Can I demand that the state and feds reimburse me a portion of my gas tax?”

Do you not benefit from others being educated? Does an educated population not create external benefits for society like less crime and a more informed voting public which benefit you since you are a member of that society? Do you not buy goods that were transported here on public roads? I do not care how you live your life; in some way you benefit from public goods. By the pure definition of a public good it is impossible for you not to benefit from it. The degree to which one benefits differs but everyone benefits thus it seems logical that everyone should help pay for it and one’s contribution should be based on how much they benefit from the public good.

“And if you think the Democrats at a national level are any better on fiscal issues than the Republicans, well, there you go again in the words of Reagan”

Fiscally the democrats are just as bad; socially the democrats are light years ahead of the Republicans right now. There is no excuse for blocking the First-Responders bill. It is one of the most appalling things I have ever seen in American politics and every GOP member that stood in its way should be shamed out of Washington.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley December 22, 2010 | 3:35 p.m.

Careful Jack, you could give the government some odd ideas here. Like:

"Ohhh, so you work from home aye? Well you use your home and property more than people that work outside of their home, so perhaps your property taxes should be raised?" LMAO!

That was kinda funny.. And one day; I can see some NITWIT in our government trying to argue something like this.... Heck, every silly idea other than this has been argued by some NITWIT in government, and some of the more sillier ones have actually been approved!

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking December 22, 2010 | 3:45 p.m.

Jack Hamm wrote:

"If you use public services (roads, schools, police, national defense etc) then yes you owe payment for those services. Generally speaking the wealthier you are the more you benefit from those services."

How do you figure that? Everyone benefits from the services you mention. As a percentage of their income, lower income people benefit more from these services being provided than wealthier people would. Do wealthier people drive more, or have more kids in school, or use police services more than poorer people? Plus, wealthier people already pay the lion's share of the taxes that pay for these services.

DK

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 22, 2010 | 4:06 p.m.

"The GOP has gone as far as declaring that New START can wait, putting every person on the planet in a nuclear holocaust zone."
____________________________

I had no idea I should have been practicing "duck and cover" these last 20 years. Should I begin anyway, with the new START, or will we be completely out of the woods?

(To be "put" into something means you were originally "out" of the something. Just exactly "When?" were we "out" of the nuclear holocaust zone?)

The use of this extraordinary hyperbole is unfortunate in an otherwise well-written article. It says more about the overall panic of the author, but I must admit it nicely ties in with the tone of the rest of the article. Sentence and paragraph structure are excellent, grammar is used properly, spelling and punctuation are proper, and there is a nice, unbalanced dose of vitriol.

It's really too bad we didn't get an article like this a few years ago. But perhaps the "agenda" wasn't supported then.

(PS: It's amazing that all this had to wait until the lame duck session.)

(PSS: A HUGE reason the middle and lower classes are less wealthy today is because they forgot (1) exactly what an "asset" is, and (2) how to practice "delayed gratification". Hint: Your house, plasma TV, and the car you look good in are decidedly NOT assets. That's probably another topic, tho).

(Report Comment)
Robert Kimsey December 22, 2010 | 4:55 p.m.

Jack et al.

I don't have a problem paying taxes for government services. Clearly, you need to do that in a society. I'd like to see a little more efficiency, but otherwise I'm OK with it.

You guys (Jack, Paul, etc.) didn't actually respond to what I said. I never said I was against paying taxes or having other people paying them. I said I was against the patently absurd idea that the government is giving anyone a "gift" by not taking more of their money. It's a ridiculous characterization on its face, and I doubt any honest person would use it.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 22, 2010 | 4:55 p.m.

Jimmy, I think I have read your argument a hundred times in these forums. I believe those "freeloaders" include a large number of the men and women who serve in the armed forces. Are they also part of the problem? Should they "humble themselves before those who are carrying their load"? I think I know who is "carrying a load".

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 22, 2010 | 4:57 p.m.

"Keep MY money" - yep, yep yep...

It's the lottery mentality. If you were rich, you wouldn't want to pay all those taxes, would you? Why should someone that actually is wealthy have to? Despite a significant drop in economic mobility over the last 30 years, the "American Dream" is kept alive with a plethora of Megabucks lotteries.

I'd like to say up front that high marginal tax rates on top incomes are all about redistribution. I don't deny that. It might not be fun for the super-wealthy, but is it really good, or bad, for the country's economy?

What's happened over the last 30 years is also income redistribution, but the redistribution has been from the middle and bottom to the very top. How has our economy fared during this redistribution? How is it faring now? When step back and look at the bigger picture - expanding the size of the pie instead of squabbling about relative size of each slice - I'd say the country's economic outlook is poor to dismal. Too much wealth has been concentrated in too few hands, and that wealth is NOT being used effectively. What we see today are bigger bubbles and a choppier economy, not steady growth or real gains in the country's wealth.

Higher marginal tax rates on the wealthiest individuals is designed to pry that wealth back out of those huge, ineffective pools of wealth, and distribute it back down into the economy where it will circulate. Of course the first thing the wealthiest will do is try to hide the money. Duh. But hiding it effectively reduces it's value. They can't hide it all. The 2nd thing they'll do is invest it so they don't have to pay tax on it. This is where the rubber meets the road and creates jobs and grows the economy. The last thing they'll do is let the government confiscate it. But even when the government steals it, it tends to get injected back into the economy, sometimes (or at least used to) in big projects - infrastructure - that no single private corporation can finance, but ends up greasing the wheels of the economy.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 22, 2010 | 5:06 p.m.

Why don't we understand the point of diminishing returns? When tax rates were very high, especially on the upper incomes, cutting those taxes actually did create economic activity. But we've reached the point of diminishing returns: as seen with the last round of Bush tax cuts, they just don't do much good. The idea that doing more will help, even as much as they once did, is stupid material. The principle works the same way in substance addiction. You keep "needing" a higher dose, and it keeps being less effective.

The change in income distribution helps drive home my point: 30 years ago, the top 1% captured 9% of all income. When "stimulus" money was pumped into the economy, each dollar had to change hands about 7 times before half of it was captured by the wealthy. Today, that top 1% captures 24% of all income. Each stimulus dollar today changes hands less than 2-1/2 times before half is captured by the wealthy. That's why today's stimulus is ineffective, and why more tax cuts are worthless from a national economic standpoint.

When I say "captured" I mean it, too. If trickle-down economics was real, if the wealth being accumulated by the handful of entities at the top really did get invested or otherwise put back into the economy, it would show back up as income below the 1% line, and keep the relative income percentages more even. But the fact is, the buck really does "stop there." It has yet to come back in any significant measure.

The argument of keeping "MY" money fails to acknowledge the massive upward income redistribution that has already, and is still, taking place. Only the top roughly 1% have seen any gains from the fruits of their labor. The rest of us have worked harder, worked smarter, worked more, but haven't gotten to keep any of the fruits of our labor. Do you really think the top 1% has worked 400 times harder than the bottom 99%, and truly deserve all 400 times their income gains compared to the rest? Sorry, that doesn't pass the common sense test. That wealth belongs to the whole country, not just the top 1% that have gotten 80% of all income gains.

Since the group that has seen almost all the income gains is obviously not voluntarily putting the money to use to expand our collective national wealth, it may be time for a new strategy.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 22, 2010 | 5:10 p.m.

Paul, why do you believe that the freeloaders include a large number of the men and women who serve in the armed forces? While you're at it, quantify "large."

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 22, 2010 | 5:33 p.m.

Derrick: It's important that you define "super wealthy" and "super rich".

You and I would likely agree that the Buffetts, Gates, Soros, Oprahs, and oil sheiks and the like are super-wealthy.

What about the Kennedys, athletes, Hollywood stars, football coaches, Bush's, Cheney's, Clintons, and the like?

Or are we just talking about business CEOs and big shareholders and wall streeters?

Super-rich needs to be defined by a "number", above which....you are one.

And then there needs to be a tax rate number for that "class"....sans deductions.

Care to take a stab? (seriously. Sarcasm button is off)

(On a related topic, I maintain that it's important for the middle class to understand THEY helped create their own predicament....every time THEY buy "stuff", they just enriched some other person who had more guts. Who is the "consumer" and who is the "creator" here, and should creation be better rewarded than consumption.....and, if so, by "how much?"

I also maintain there is no valid excuse for a person's wealth at death to be less-than-or-equal-to what it was when they were born.....unless that person has a physical or mental infirmity. My sympathy is rather low in such cases, and I would have to be coerced into helping rectify the situation.)

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 22, 2010 | 5:38 p.m.

Derrick, you hit the nail on the head regarding diminishing returns. Why would I put in the extra time and effort when doing so means that my income reaches a point where the government takes a bigger portion? Imagine if employers said, "When you hit 40 hours, anything after that is paid at 80% of your hourly rate." It's the same thing with taxes: Why work more when the returns diminish after a certain point?

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 22, 2010 | 5:45 p.m.

Jimmy, you might consider that the vast majority of those serving only complete their first enlistment and rank anywhere from E-1 to E-4. I'm assuming you can find the current pay scale. A number of them have dependents. I know that my pay was taxed as I was single with no dependents, but it was there that I first heard the word "earned income credit" I believe that that some single mothers were getting it and it amounted to a refund larger than any amount of taxes that had been taken from their check. From what I remember, the people discussing it were E-5 and E-6. I know the pay has bumped up since that time, but so have the cutoffs and whatnot. I can guarantee that there are a large number of people active duty in the military who are getting earned income credit and effectively pay no federal income tax. I just wanted to know if they were freeloaders too. And then what about someone who works twice as hard as that for low pay in a dead end job making products that society depends on. Is that person a freeloader?

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 22, 2010 | 5:57 p.m.

Jimmy, there is a certain amount of ridiculousness in your assertion that a difference of a few percent is going to discourage someone from making two million dollars this year over one million. But I'm sure it won't be the last time I see it.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 22, 2010 | 6:04 p.m.

Derrick says, "The rest of us have worked harder, worked smarter, worked more, but haven't gotten to keep any of the fruits of our labor."
_________________________

MW: When all you have done is choose a job where the hope is for a 3% salary increase each year, or a promotion every 5 years that nets +15%, all with low risk.....what the heck did you expect for your efforts? And the reason there are no "fruits" over a lifetime is because extra money (and there is ALWAYS extra money) was spent on crap!
_________________________

Derrick: Do you really think the top 1% has worked 400 times harder than the bottom 99%, and truly deserve all 400 times their income gains compared to the rest? Sorry, that doesn't pass the common sense test."
________________________

MW: Yes it does, since it's the wrong question.
Did they WORK 400 times harder? No.
Did they take 400 times more risk with their lives, careers, and money?
Yes, absolutely.
________________________

Derrick: That wealth belongs to the whole country, not just the top 1% that have gotten 80% of all income gains.
___________________________

MW: And therein lies the difference in philosophies. Very well said.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 22, 2010 | 6:57 p.m.

MW: "Did they take 400 times more risk with their lives, careers, and money?
Yes, absolutely."

Then why didn't their fortunes crash as hard as the rest of the economy? Their fortunes hardly dipped at all; in fact, many have seen an even bigger increase in income over the last 2 years than they did in the previous 2 years. The "risk" these people are taking is almost completely socialized, but the profits have been almost completely privatized. That's why governments and individuals are drowning in debt.

You can think it's right and proper and those people deserve all that reward for the risk they are taking, but it still won't help our country as a whole.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 22, 2010 | 7:07 p.m.

@Jimmy: I'm glad you can see the 'diminishing returns' issue from both sides. I suppose we should ask those people who keep going, despite jumping into the next higher tax bracket, why they do it.

I know why I do it. When I do a lot of on-the-side consulting in any given year, it pushes me across a marginal tax bracket threshold. So why do I do it? Because it's still more than I was getting before. I can still afford a new computer by doing so, whereas I couldn't without the extra work, even if I pay higher taxes on that last little bit of income, I'm still getting more, and the extra that comes out doesn't cut into my ability to pay my mortgage or put food on the table.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 22, 2010 | 7:13 p.m.

Paul, if you're in the service and barely make enough money to support yourself, you would be selfish and irresponsible to start a family, just as a civilian would be equally selfish and irresponsible to do the same.

As for $1 million versus $2 million, you must have missed the new cut-off: $200,000 is considered rich. If you own a business or are self-employed, and if you make six figures, why not just scale back your workload to avoid higher taxes? Before you try to pooh-pooh that as highly unlikely, consider what's happened to states that raised their taxes just on high incomes, such as Maryland and Oregon: They didn't collect anywhere near the amount they hoped. That's just one example of how people who are smart enough to make a lot of money also are smart enough to know when to move or simply work three days a week instead of five or six.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 22, 2010 | 7:55 p.m.

Jimmy, I can't believe you. You are out in left field. A lot of people enlist when they already have children. I'm going to guess you are not the same arm of the right who is pro life, but if so, just guess what I might tell you. Also, a lot of people in the service feel as if they are just scraping by, but a lot of the time I felt they were overpaid. Someone who is married or with dependents used to get paid a lot more than one who wasn't. They would give them a housing allowance and have the person of the same rank without dependents to live in the barracks without a housing allowance. It probably cost the government twice as much in pay and family benefits for personnel with dependents when I was in and many people justified that by saying that the average person who was married was better than the one who was not. Of course, you can probably understand that someone who was getting twice the pay/benefit had a greater motivation to conform to the requirement of any task at hand.
You might want to show me a link about those two states, but I doubt that anyone quit working. I suspect, if anything, that a small number of people might have moved across a state line. State income tax is generally small. I just looked up Maryland the top rate is 6.25 %. Oregon has an 11% top rate. Missouri has a top rate of 6% and California has a rate of 10.55% in addition to a state sales tax of eight percent. How many rich Californians want to move to Missouri? You may have read an article somewhere and got fired up like writer intended you to, but you aren't well grounded in reality. California grew ten percent and Missouri grew less. California held their seats and Missouri didn't.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 22, 2010 | 8:09 p.m.

Derrick: Then why didn't their fortunes crash as hard as the rest of the economy?
_____________________________

Because, through prudent long-term decisions and delayed gratification and paying attention in school and learning facts about this thing called "finance", they were smart enough to purchase a variety of assets that protected them from multiple threats. Any person invested solely in the stock market or REITs, etc., got trashed (with one "unless", discussed below). But, if they were invested in a variety of businesses, and/or were flexible enough in their thinking, and/or invested in land, gold, silver, mining, corn, wheat, real estate, etc., and/or invested in their knowledge of things financial, they either stayed near neutrality or even a bit better.

This is about educating yourself on how to accumulate wealth, and then practicing that education for a decade+5 years.

Now, for my "unless". One of the things I have had to struggle with is what I call "the timing of current knowledge". Time and time again I find myself at the tail end of information that leads and sets the markets. Rich folks (and politicians) tend to be at the front end of this information, and that allows less risk for them, but more for me. The reason this is a struggle for me is that I often rail at the unfairness that I am at the end of this train of information.

But, then, I tell myself...."Self, did you or did you not decide on a career that does not allow for such closeness of information? Are you or are you not trying to change that? Do you lend your money out to trusted managed funds whose managers ARE closer to such info, or do you choose to manage things yourself because you think you can beat the markets?"

What that means is....it's my own fault, past and present. All I need to do is understand the basis for my gripes, and then suppress them by looking in the mirror.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 22, 2010 | 8:16 p.m.

Mike asks a good question: What IS "super-wealthy"?

It's certainly not a $250K/year income. That's well off, but far from super-wealthy. The top .01% of income earners - a group that comprises about 12,000 households in the US, have an average income of about $9.1 Million per year. My personal opinion is that "super-wealthy" is a net income over at least $5M/year, possibly higher.

And who are these people? Professional athletes are actually responsible for a large proportion of income disparity. When the KC Royals won the World Series in the early 80's, their star player - George Brett - was awarded a contract of $1M/year. Cliff Lee just inked a $24M/year contract. Most professional athletes have seen a similar percentage increases over the last 20-25 years. Professional athletes earning over $5M/year make up 1,000-2,000 US households.

Those professional athletes certainly work their butts off and have an incredible amount of talent. Football players, in particular, risk a great deal of personal injury (and get less than basketball or baseball players, on average). But how much real risk are these people taking? Is an average 100% increase in income per year really justified? Certainly not without our voyeuristic fascination, it isn't.

The financial industry comprises another sector of the super-wealthy, and this group is where most people's ire (correctly, IMHO) is directed at. Here is another 1,000-2,000 households that not only make over $5M/year, but *control* literally trillions of dollars. They live, eat, and breathe their jobs 24/7. But what personal risks are they taking? Injury? Imprisonment? Or just a fall from grace and adjustment of lifestyle? Again, this group of people took enormous risks, but when they failed - quite spectacularly - what did they lose? Their 5th house or 12th luxury automobile? The risks they took were with the nation's collective wealth, not necessarily their own, and the only real consequence they suffered is... what again?

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 22, 2010 | 8:37 p.m.

CEO's of any major corporation (>5B/yr cash flow) comprise another 1,000+ households that make over $5M/yr. Absolutely, they worked their butts off to get there. But again, what real risks are these people taking? When Forsee was canned from Sprint for running that company into the ground, his severance pay was several times the lifetime earnings of the average worker. Yet his true heartache, his real risk, is the exact same risk we all face.

If you want to talk about hard work and risk, how about the 10 truly most dangerous jobs? Fishermen, loggers, several various construction related jobs, you (farming / ranching), and transportation workers (truckers, pilots). These are people who feed us, build real infrastructure that creates real new wealth, and make commerce possible. How much do these people make, on average?

About $40,000/year.

People that work in the black market (mostly the illegal drug trade) take huge risks too. How hard do they work? Why do they take those risks? Looking at this 'profession' is an interesting way enhance the risk/reward analysis.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 22, 2010 | 8:47 p.m.

Derrick: I would also throw in "Hollywood" and "Singer" types with your athlete thoughts. Except for hurdlers. I like hurdlers. If I was 10...er...20...uh...30....ok, 40 years younger and unmarried, I'd make a play for Lolo Jones.

Can you say, "Fat chance!" If so, you get an "A".

These folks exist on their physical skills, which are substantial, and OUR adulation. INO, WE are mainly the ones responsible for the huge salaries. Such an easy fix...and such a hard fix.

But that's just my own envy showing through. I can't sing (believe me when I say that), I can't act (ditto), and I can't hurdle or carry a football or bounce a basketball without crunching sumpin' important.

But how is all of this different from having a brain deliberately trained to make money? When I think about things rationally, I see little difference between athletes who make their living with physical prowess versus those who make their living with brain prowess. Being able to run a multimillion company successfully (or even a sports team) is a big, and hard, deal. Being able to think ahead and "read the tea leaves and/or political wind", and thereby making money for yourself AND others, is also worthy of making big money.

Please don't misread me, tho. I'm well aware that many super-wealthy got that way by being crooks, or perhaps their ancestors did. The old Kennedy clan comes to mind (I NEVER understood liberal fawning of that clan, unless there are "good" rich folks and "bad" rich folks based upon their politics), as do the rail barons of the past. I don't like crooks (Madoff) and think they belong in jail or smelling of tar and feathers. I also don't like the creation of extraordinarily complex financials that do nothing but churn and make money (although insuring a mortgage bond seems a good idea, so long as the bond is rated correctly AND the insuring agency has the bucks to back up a default...speaking of CDSs of course).

I DO have a hard time skewering 12000 folks for their money, when the REAL money is in the lower income brackets....at some point, it starts looking more like envy than real financial wisdom.

I do thank you for answering one of the questions (the first one). I agree (generally, and also numerically) with the definitions, and that provides good starting points. But, how much would you tax them?

Finally, I'm sure glad they don't pay hackysackers boatloads of money....I'd have to start secretly disliking you.

:^)

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 22, 2010 | 8:52 p.m.

Mike, I'm talking about the people who drove this country off a cliff trading in derivatives. Few of them lost their jobs. Many of them still got huge bonuses as part of their employment, despite the fact that the work they did produced buckets of red ink and caused tens of thousands of other people to lose their jobs.

Why would you bother defending those crooks? They're coming after what you have next. Call me a "socialist" if you have to for this attitude, but every last one of those people should be stripped of everything they "earned" with such risky trading, and be kicked back down to the bottom of the economic ladder to start over again.

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson December 22, 2010 | 8:56 p.m.

I, for one, am sure glad The One moved me (well, and everyone on the planet) out of that "nuclear holocaust zone." Whew.

As everyone knows, the nuclear holocaust zone is for the loading and unloading of hyperbole and fear-mongering - there is no parking in the nuclear holocaust zone (to borrow an "Airplane" reference).

Who has the superior claim to earnings - the earner, or Uncle Sam? If you say the latter, then yes, I suppose getting to keep more of your own money is a "gift". Actually, since the vote was primarily for the status quo on tax rates, the "gift" was actually getting to keep the same amount of your own money.

Merry Christmas. Maybe next year, the DNC will make a donation in your name to the "Human Fund" (to borrow a Seinfeld reference).

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 22, 2010 | 9:05 p.m.

Derrick comments, "If you want to talk about hard work and risk, how about the 10 truly most dangerous jobs? Fishermen, loggers, several various construction related jobs, you (farming / ranching), and transportation workers (truckers, pilots). These are people who feed us, build real infrastructure that creates real new wealth, and make commerce possible. How much do these people make, on average?"
_______________________________

I'd like to address this one, also.

I'm of the firm belief that salaries are a direct function of (1) how many folks want to do that job, and (2) how important that job is (that is, demand for the "product".)

There are many, many important jobs in this world (teachers and nurses come immediately to mind for reasons noted below), but if many, many folks want to do that job, and are able to do that job, then salaries are depressed. Computer folks are also in this category....too many folks want, and can, do it....except for the REALLY innovative entrepreneurs that are soooo far out in front....can you say "Gates"?

There are also many, many important jobs in this world that not many folks want to do, either through fear of risk or "it's too hard" or a failure to educate themselves or whatever. Folks who do these jobs make big bucks. Doctors, CEOs, entrepreneurs, and financial experts come to mind.

Not many folks sing really well, and we like to hear great singers. Not many folks can play "games" really well, and we like to "win". Ergo....big bucks.

Too many folks can and want to be really good teachers and nurses. Ergo, not-to-big bucks.

(PS: I believe teachers should make big bucks. That's why I believe teachers should create an environment for their profession where few can do it! I want ALL teachers to be proved GREAT, and I want the competition to be fierce! Teachers....let's get to work on that!)

(Same with nurses and a bunch of other important professions).

Disclosure: My oldest daughter is a 4th grade teacher. My youngest is a nurse.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 22, 2010 | 9:10 p.m.

I wondered where all the liberals went, after Tribune started charging admission.

It's fun to mention that Fox News aired tonight a bit of Ben Affleck (movie star?) on NPR agreeing that "something is wrong when CEOs of American Companies" can make the unwarranted sums of money that they collect. Fox also mentioned that Affleck recently received $250,000 just for showing up at a Mall opening. Hollywood stars, of course, don't fit with the group these progressives want to demonize.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 22, 2010 | 9:12 p.m.

Derrick: We are in complete agreement that those who screwed up, including CEOs and crooked financial traders, should pay a huge penalty. There is NO excuse for a failure to leave with the big bucks.

Complete agreement.

For CEOs, this is a failure of the shareholders and the board of directors.

But I DO think you are ascribing too much weight to those folks for this mess we are in now. Did they contribute? Absolutely. Did politicians of all stripes? Yep. But I hear little complaint about THEM from the hoi polloi.

But WE did most of the damage. You, me, and everyone else.

Quite honestly, I think my generation skrood the pooch bigtime when it comes to what we believed, how we behaved, and what we taught our children.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 22, 2010 | 9:22 p.m.

frank: Actually, not too many transferred of either stripe.

But, the balance of liberal and conservative is, so far, quite even (and nice).

And, having to identify ourselves has SURE improved the conversation for the most part. The "preview" button is being used frequently. Spelling is checked and so is grammar. There is more time between posts....because folks are checking their work.

I like this place, so far....there's some good thinking going on, even if I don't always agree with the conclusions.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 22, 2010 | 9:29 p.m.

Paul, if you choose to have kids and then enlist, you shouldn't complain about the pay any more than if you choose to have kids and then take a job flipping burgers. Heck, they even have a saying in the Army: If the Army wanted you to have a family, it would have issued you one.

Regarding state taxes: In mid-2009, Oregon increased taxes (retroactive to Jan. 1) to 10.8% on incomes of $250,000-$500,000 and to 11% on incomes above $500,000. The state expected to get $180 million more from that increase. Instead, it got $130 million. The state expected 38,000 residents to pay the higher rates; only 28,000 did.

Now let's look at Maryland: It passed a millionaire surtax and assumed that it would collect an extra $106 million as a result. Instead, the number of millionaire tax returns fell 30%, and instead of an extra $106 million, payments fell by $257 million.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley December 22, 2010 | 9:41 p.m.

Jimmy,

I find this statement kind of funny:

"Now let's look at Maryland: It passed a millionaire surtax and assumed that it would collect an extra $106 million as a result. Instead, the number of millionaire tax returns fell 30%, and instead of an extra $106 million, payments fell by $257 million."

So what does that mean? Millionaires no longer want to be millionaires if they are going to be taxed for it? I am really starting to feel bad for them. They got it ROUGH! ;o)

Look everyone; I am just finding some of this stuff kind of funny. But to be fair, I must proclaim complete ignorance about this topic; taxes, politics and such are things that I am just ignorant about. And I probably want to stay ignorant about these topics, in order to keep my blood pressure from going up... LOL.

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 22, 2010 | 9:53 p.m.

Mike: Much agreement. I've stated in other places, and alluded to it in my "voyeuristic fascination" above, that "we" collectively handed these people the keys to our wealth. And yeah, I forgot the hollywood stars. There's another nearly $1,000 people who earn over $5M/year. I think the specific groups I covered account for roughly a third of all households above that income line.

Even in the instance of the "crooked" traders, I agree it was "we" collectively that handed them all that money, in the form of debt obligations that we couldn't pay. All those $Trillions that Wall Street gambles with is largely just our mortgage, consumer, and government debt. The financial collapse was really nothing more than the realization that "we" weren't good for all that debt. If we want to keep the rich from getting any richer, all we have to do is stop using debt to pay for things. Unfortunately, curbing personal debt spending is hard enough; curbing government debt has proven extremely difficult so far.

The complexity of the situation compounds itself, too: good or bad, right or wrong, regardless of the underlying reasons why, the concentration of more and more wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people is a verifiable economic fact. This new economic reality distorts the political process. Who doesn't believe our national representatives are basically bought and sold by monied interests?

To that end, I resonate with some of the Tea Party's fiscal restraint messages. It's unfortunate they appear to bring so much economically irrelevant moralistic baggage with them.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 22, 2010 | 9:55 p.m.

Rick:

I think it means a bunch of them changed their base of operation. They still want to be millionaires, but they decided to change the place to be millionaires.

Prolly wasn't funny to Maryland, tho.

Why is something funny when not much is known about it?

Wait...had an afterthought...that's probably why ethnic jokes are funny to some.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 22, 2010 | 9:59 p.m.

Derrick says, "If we want to keep the rich from getting any richer, all we have to do is stop using debt to pay for things. "
__________________

Sometimes, dude, you come up with some real gems.

I can't think of any additions to this correct statement.

Not even ONE modification.

Guess that makes me............holy cow!.....speechless.

(PS: Except for my tractor, I'm debt free. Gawd, that feels good. I should go on the Dave Ramsey show, except I was doing Dave Ramsey before he was, lol).

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley December 22, 2010 | 10:08 p.m.

Mike,

Mike Williams: "Why is something funny when not much is known about it?"

The question is kind of interesting...

I mean, I understand the logic behind the question, but the question may even answer it's self..

Because the reader (me in this case), does not know anything about this topic, I probably can't see the seriousness of it or much past the most basic reading of Jimmy's example, and all I can gather from it is just the most basic "meaning". For example, I'd have never even thought that these millionaires moved, my line of thought was that they may have "cheated" on their taxes or gave some of their money away to put them in a different "tax bracket"; if that is the correct term?

Goes to prove I actually AM ignorant about this stuff...

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 22, 2010 | 10:10 p.m.

Something it seems we've all touched on, but not directly addressed, is the media. Pro athlete salaries have gone up in tandem with the value of the broadcast rights contracts. Hollywood actors make millions because we see their movies. We are undoubtedly the ones who give "them" the power.

A peek at the ownership of media is telling. The major stakeholders? Corporations like GE who sell weapons and consumer products. Rupert Murdoch owns Fox. He has only been an American citizen since 1985, and he got his citizenship to satisfy legal requirements of owning a US television station, not because he was an genuine immigrant who believed in America. I don't know why that doesn't drive the birthers nuts.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 22, 2010 | 10:11 p.m.

Derrick: OK, I'm not speechless.

I said earlier my generation skrood the pooch.

One way we did this is by thinking and teaching and preaching that some things are "deserved".

i.e., I deserve it. Or, you deserve it.

How do you get that desire satisfied with not enuf income?

Debt.

(See how nicely I dovetailed into your gem?)

(Whew....it's hard being speechless! I feel relief just like the ice cream owner in City Slickers who couldn't think of a proper ice cream to serve with sea bass and asparagus!)

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley December 22, 2010 | 10:14 p.m.

Now hold on, Mike...

I do not believe that I *deserve* anything....

I believe that I am ENTITLED to it! LMAO!

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 22, 2010 | 10:20 p.m.

Derrick: What is Soros's status?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Soro...

(caution....wikipedia)
______________________

I think GE also owns NBC, CNBC, MSNBC.
Westinghouse owns CBS
Disney owns ABC.

Here's the source. I don't know if it's correct.

http://www.thinkandask.com/news/mediagia...

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 22, 2010 | 10:54 p.m.

Derrick comments, "Who doesn't believe our national representatives are basically bought and sold by monied interests?"
______________________________

I heartily agree with this statement.

My problem is that liberals believe that "corporations" are the only guilty party.

The reality is that corporations, non-profits, move-on, unions and EVERYONE else with money of BOTH political stripes are involved.

INO, I'm grumpy at the public one-sidedness of the accusations.

(PS: When writing the word "public" on these pages (and that word shows up a lot), I'm terrified I'll forget the "l".)

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 22, 2010 | 10:55 p.m.

Interestingly enough, I am more or less Mike's children's generation. But I'm probably not the most typical one.

When I became and adult and was able to control the environment I lived in, I refused to allow a television in my house. The TV always made me feel like a drug addict; if there was a television running, I sat down and watched. I might as well have been on a heroin drip. I was always mad at myself later for wasting my time, so when I was able to remove the temptation, I did. It's one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life.

Instead of watching others play sports, I did them myself. I've probably worked just as hard at Hacky Sack in my life as many 2nd string professional athletes have. I suppose it would have been nice if footbag were popular and I could have made a living from it, but I was never in it for the money. I was in it for the challenge. Bicycling has served me extremely well, too.

Except for the lucky timing of getting in on the computer revolution at the ground floor, the rest of me is really rather typical. I got out of school, got a job, and worked my way up. Got married, had a couple kids. Almost everyone I know my age is much the same. Abut the only thing I really don't "get" about my generation is the voyeurism. I.E. watching sports and reality TV, instead of doing something oneself.

I'm curious to know what Mike thinks we got taught wrong? Moralistic relativity? Unrealistic optimism? Needless consumerism? Plain old greed?

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley December 22, 2010 | 11:16 p.m.

Hold on a minute, Derrick!

You don't watch television?

What about all of those characters on television you are missing out on that you can pretend to be on a daily basis? "Michael Weston" from "Burn Notice", "Jack McCoy" from "Law and Order", "Thomas Magnum" from "Magnum P.I.", "Sonny Crockett" from "Miami Vice" just to mention a few.. Ohh man, you are missing out on such an enriching life experience......

Dude... There is nothing worse than being ordinary.... LOL.

Again, humor... It is the best I can come up with on this topic....

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 22, 2010 | 11:23 p.m.

Derrick:

Your 4 examples in your last paragraph pretty much sums things up.

I'd throw in "a sound foundation in religious thought", but "moralistic relativity" probably covers that.

Oh.....perhaps these: Failure to understand financial things; forgetting what an asset is; failure to practice delayed gratification, etc.

On second thought as writing this, your list of 4 "umbrellas" mine.

Nice, concise list, Derrick.

(PS: Since retirement, I farm for the critters and me. I also plant walnut, pecan, tulip poplar, and oak trees (up to a 1000 or so, now; plus do forest stand improvement on existing woods. I also am reverting fescue fields back to native savannas. I call the farm "MH Ranch"; the MS stands for "Mental Health". Hard to beat the self-satisfaction of a well-plowed and planted field. If we work at it and do it right, we all have our personal "footbags")

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 22, 2010 | 11:30 p.m.

nytol

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley December 22, 2010 | 11:31 p.m.

Hey Derrick; you are one heck of an awesome Hacky Sack player; if that is the right term? I saw the video. I was amazed at your skill.

A question came to mind. Hacky Sack looks to be as "active" as jumping rope, which boxers swear by because of the cardiovascular benefit. Does Hacky Sack have the same cardio benefits? It looks fun, I was just wondering what the health benefits are?

Take care.

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 22, 2010 | 11:53 p.m.

Hey, this guy might make a good Prez!

http://www.answers.com/topic/herman-cain...

now I'm really "nytol" if the wifey will just quit sending me interesting emails.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 22, 2010 | 11:59 p.m.

Income growth in the consumer class flatlined in the early 80's. That's when personal debt started expanding. A steady increase in debt among the consumer class has been keeping the economy going ever since. Well, until 2008 anyway.

Was it really because we just couldn't keep our hands out of the cookie jar? If we hadn't turned to debt in the early 80's, the economy would have stagnated way back then. It would have taken a LONG long time to see any real growth.

That's why trickle-down economics is such a farce. The economy has been sustained for the last 30 years by a steady flow of governmental, middle, and working class debt. The reason our economy is still dead right now is because we've hit the practical limit of that debt. Without that debt, we would have seen what we are seeing now back in the 80's.

Why did we do it? Why did we turn to debt to maintain our purchasing power when our incomes failed to provide? Did we just follow the government's lead? Did the media sell us all snake oil? Was it deliberate economic policy? Did we really just fail to be taught by our parents to "wait for it"?

From an economic perspective, it seems like it's a lot easier to control the economy when it's based on credit. In a debt-based economy, manipulation of interest rates can effectively control money flow. Inflation has not been an issue since the economy has been based on debt. In that sense, it has worked. But now we are seeing the practical limit of that strategy. Even near-zero interest rates fail to juice things up. We've printed the equivalent of 20% of GDP for the last 2 years, but we fail to see inflation yet. It's weird.

There was a fundamental shift in the economy 30 years ago. We went from being the world's largest creditor nation to the world's largest debtor nation. We stopped producing our own goods, and started buying from others. Everyone participated; we all started bleeding red ink. That red ink drove the economy for 30 years. But we've milked that resource for all it's worth, and now the economy has shifted again.

That's why we need a new strategy. I think the new strategy should center around energy independence. Not trade barriers, but investment in our own energy infrastructure. It's really the only way I see to slow our descent towards the equalization of a global standard of living.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 23, 2010 | 12:38 a.m.

Rick: Thanks!

The technically correct term is "footbag player." But I still call myself a Hacky Sacker, and am perfectly fine with just about whatever someone wants to call it. It's the same difference as "facial tissue" (generic term) vs. "Kleenex" (brand name). Hacky Sack is just the first brand name of footbag to be marketed.

At the casual hacker level, it's nothing special. But at the level I play, it's an incredibly physically demanding activity. The footbag community has done studies on it. Aerobically, it's at least equivalent to jumping rope. From a musculoskeletal perspective, it's probably even more demanding. It keeps me in shape both mentally and physically.

But even if it were bad for me, I'd still do it. It's just pure joy to do the "hacky dance" thing. I'm the worst kind of addict. I'm really too old for it, but I just can't stop. I'll be celebrating my 30th anniversary of kicking a footbag next summer.

Man I love the J-School. I'm like crack to journalism students. They can't resist. The audio on this video is the most recent story a student did on me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ageX4lNp3...

And yeah, I'm sure missing out on that river of garbage, aren't I? I actually don't know who a lot of the actors (or are those characters?) you mentioned are. I've only seen a couple episodes of the Simpsons and South Park. I don't watch Fox, MSNBC, or any other "liberal" or "conservative" networks. I've only ever seen a few snippets of CSI or any other "reality" (LOL!) cop show. I never saw a single episode of Lost. Strange that it doesn't make me feel ...lost.

The flipside of that is the fact that the internet is the same as TV nowdays, except we have a lot more choice on the programming. Back in the day it was 13 channels, then when cable hit it was 150 channels, now it's 10 Billion YouTube videos. DRM sucks until I realize it keeps the most current common social tripe off of YouTube.

The h4x354x0r

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm December 23, 2010 | 7:38 a.m.

I can’t tell you how long I have been waiting for someone from Michael’s generation to say what he did. As someone of the younger generation I can say with confidence that much of my generation feels this way about the older generations. Many of us are very angry that we will be left with your debt to pay off (why I am so against the tax breaks, by the time the bill comes due you will be dead, I won’t). Even more of us are even angrier about the constant morale and religious BS that the older generations try to push on everyone else. Yes there are divides in the older generation. One side wants to spend on certain programs and the other side wants to spend on others; the point is that they both spend without paying for it. Instead they have been stealing from my generation and my children’s. It’s been going on for the better part of 30 years and we cannot sustain it much longer.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking December 23, 2010 | 7:59 a.m.

Jack Hamm wrote:

"It’s been going on for the better part of 30 years and we cannot sustain it much longer."

Tell me about it.

However, this is simply a consequence of allowing ourselves to get away with it, both in the government and personally. Banks should have neve lent to many of the people they did, and they should have charged interest rates that truly reflected their individual risk situations, instead of selling it and distributing that risk to the larger economy.

But without this flow of easy money (reflected in the nearly zero prime rate), the economy doesn't grow, and everyone complains about that. So what would you do? Increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans to punitive levels won't wipe out the deficit (plus they'll just leave), and curtailing government spending significantly will negatively affect the economy (at least in the short term). What's a politician to do, when his short term prospects for keeping his job depend on a perception of economic health?

Answer: Just what we're doing.

I suspect the bill will never really be paid - China will bail us out a few times on our way down, and we'll join the ranks of once-leading powers that got unsustainably ambitious and proud. Hopefully we'll handle it with the relative grace that Britain and France did, and not take a lot of the world with us.

DK

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 23, 2010 | 9:38 a.m.

Derrick: Good thoughtful piece at 11:59 last night.

I'm unable to answer many of your questions about "What went wrong." Oh, I have my opinions, but since I'm only one person with one mind, I can't be assured that I speak accurately for why others did what they did.

All I can do is look at the philosophies I had (and implemented) plus those of the like-minded variety, versus other folks that did things in another way, and talk about the differences in results.

I was once-upon-a-time......now, no laffin'!.....a McGovern democrat. Those were my college dayz when it's easier to be theoretical rather than practical. Things started to change in the late '70s when I saw a whole bunch of folks wanting to have what I was starting to achieve without doing the same things necessary to achieve them (Does that sentence even make sense?). I saw folks feeling "entitled" and "deserving" without the effort. I saw my generation of flower children develop a whole new meaning of "self-esteem" which really meant feeling good about yourself even when you had no reason to do so because you hadn't really achieved, or tried to achieve, anything of real importance...except for saying you did. My generation rebelled at the "work hard and get ahead" philosophy of the '40s and '50s, and then spawned a new generation of "work easy and deserve it" kids. Wow, did we screw up things or what?

Mainly, tho, I think folks in this country forgot how to accumulate wealth. We became a nation of "I want it right now give it to me" individuals. Delayed gratification? What the heck is that? Such a philosophy spawns debt to either buy things or give it away to entitled folks. It forces up-pressure on wages and expense lines to the point where money looks elsewhere to make more money.

But, mainly we forgot the difference between an asset and a liability. When that happens, the line between feeling good versus feeling-good-with-damned-good-reasons gets blurred. It's the difference between having a working truck that makes you money versus looking cool in a worthless truck.

I guarantee you.....the Chinese and Indians haven't forgotten the difference. Most up-and-coming nations know the difference. Declining nations forget. The "link" is more than coincidental.

I don't think "going-green" is going to help this. The problem is attitudinal. And this nation needs one helluva attitude adjustment.....A real "come-to-Jesus" moment that may not have anything to do with religion.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 23, 2010 | 9:44 a.m.

"Increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans to punitive levels won't wipe out the deficit (plus they'll just leave)"

Is an extra $4,000 on every $100,000 over $1M really punitive?

Quite frankly, if they would leave, the rest of us could get to work creating a new economy and country. Kinda like what happened to the Sneeches in the end, eh?

The money is already leaving the country, or at least not getting invested back into the country, anyway. If the people who are hoarding or transferring the money out of the country would just leave with the money, we'd probably be better off in the long run. Let them go prey on someone else.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 23, 2010 | 9:59 a.m.

Derrick: What we REALLY need is to convince each and every one of those 12000 folks to donate 1 billion each in taxes. Let's see.....12000 times...a billion....carry the 1.....go into scientific notation so the calculator can handle the zeros....and.......

doesn't that about cover our 14 trillion debt?

OR, we can take it at the point of a gun or threat of jail.

I recommend we start with Soros to get some practice.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 23, 2010 | 10:13 a.m.

Hey Jimmy, your last post showed how you didn't read mine. Sort of hard to make an argument with someone if you don't know what they said. Kind of unintelligent too.

Regarding the state taxes, do you feel that the state of the economy might have had a little to do with Oregon getting a bit less than estimated? I do. Now, regarding Maryland... I've been there. It is a nice place. And if you drive across a street one way you are in Virginia. Go another way and you are in DC. You can easily drive to several other states. I believe the shortfall you discuss might have been caused by people moving a few miles one way or another. Kind of a revelation... But WAIT!!! I already said that. I guess you really don't know how to read. You probably watch TV a lot.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking December 23, 2010 | 10:22 a.m.

Derrick Fogle wrote:

"Is an extra $4,000 on every $100,000 over $1M really punitive?"

No, it's not. That's not really what I was talking about. In fact, it's so insignificant it won't make a difference either in revenue or in the standard of living of the taxed.

I meant raising taxes to 80 or 90% like has been suggested by some.

I read that the total income of the wealthiest 500 people in the US was on the order of $1.5 trillion dollars. If we confiscated all of that, it would fund the deficit (not the whole government, just the deficit) for only about a year and a half. This would cause all of them to leave, obviously, and remove a significant source of revenue even at todays tax rates.

Britain had very high (90+%) income taxes in the '60s, and they found that if they reduced taxes to where more of the top earners stayed in the country, that they actually got more revenue. There's an optimum here that I suspect we're pretty close to, whether it's 36% or 39%.

DK

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 23, 2010 | 10:25 a.m.

http://www.columbiamissourian.com/storie...

Hey. Look at this. Our top tax rate is within a half a point of Maryland and look at this. Hey look. And again, it says that even though it is increasing it isn't as much as before the recession... Why is that??? Can someone explain why they are collecting less tax now than they were before the recession? I can't figure it out. Maybe someone on the TV can explain it.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 23, 2010 | 10:29 a.m.

Mike: A victim of our own success! The opulence that was created was seen as a birthright. Why don't more people understand pendulum swings?

The 'Come to Jesus' reference is certainly interesting. One of the few acts of violence Jesus ever committed was smashing the carts of the money changers in the temple. Jesus was a peace activist and a human rights activist. He fed people, he healed people. He could have easily armed his followers and taken over, but he didn't. He was executed by the government of his time because they were convinced he would. There's a lot of meaningful material there.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 23, 2010 | 10:38 a.m.

Send him to IRAQ!!!

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 23, 2010 | 10:59 a.m.

@Mark: Much agreement. When I look at economic performance and tax rates, I'd say we've perhaps gone a little too far on the low side, but not by much.

@Mike: What I'd prefer, rather than just confiscating those people's money, is that they actually took the risk of investing it domestically in new enterprises. That's what we've been told for the last 30 years was going to happen. Unfortunately, it hasn't. It's easy to blame this on the "greedy thieves" of Wall Street, but the reality is that the forces of globalization have a lot more to do with it. It's as much a matter of poor timing as anything.

That's why I advocate for an aggressive program of energy independence. Forget the environmental benefits, those are just a positive side effect. Forget the jobs the work would create; they're nice, but it's not the payoff were looking for. Insulating ourselves from the global energy market as quickly as possible is probably the single most significant economic stabilization impact we can make.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 23, 2010 | 12:44 p.m.

Paul, regarding your assumption that Oregon collected less than expected because the rich suffered, Derrick said above that the wealthy's "fortunes hardly dipped at all; in fact, many have seen an even bigger increase in income over the last 2 years than they did in the previous 2 years." So which is it?

As for Marylanders being able to move a short distance to reside in another state, the same can be said of residents of high-tax states such as New York and Massachusetts who decamped for lower rates in neighboring states. My point remains: People and businesses can and do move -- whether it's a few miles or a few hundred -- when taxes reach a point that they no longer see enough value in what they receive.

BTW, I see that you've resorted to your "Send them to IRAQ!!!" comments. How childish.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley December 23, 2010 | 1:13 p.m.

Derrick,

That video you have in your post is the one that I saw. I was very impressed with your skill in the video.

That was a great demonstration.

Take care and Merry Christmas.

Ricky Gurley

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 23, 2010 | 2:06 p.m.

Derrick: Better be careful. With all that talk about "investing domestically and insulating ourselves from global energy dependence", someone is going to call you "nationalistic" or....horrors.....patriotic.

I think you are right about "globalization" not helping us much. We've had a confluence of events that has caused money to get spread around, and we've had a lot to do with it. For example, it boggles my mind how folks can say, with one side of their mouth, "We should have higher salaries across the board!" and, with the other side say, "I want cheaper goods made in the good ol' USA!" Makes no sense to me at all. (PS: I think what they REALLY want to say is, "I want those greedy SOBs to make less money", but they won't, at least outloud. Mainly because those same folks will never say when too much is too much, or give a dollar amount for taxes, etc.....I've never figured the motive behind the reluctance.)

I've been thinking about your "energy independence as a method to economic stabilization" idea and must admit I am not getting the link between the two. You may have to explain it to me in more detail. I can see where one helps the other, but as a panacea I can't see it. Help?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 23, 2010 | 2:38 p.m.

Derrick: But, back to the matter at hand, an American company will stay in America IF AND ONLY IF they are allowed to make a profit level compatible with the goals of management, the BOD, and the shareholders. I have yet to hear a liberal state out loud what a good and proper goal should be.

But I will:

If you are a small business or small cap business, you better be trying for 25% before tax profit (i.e., 25% of total revenue), and be glad with 18%. Mid and large cap companies can be smaller, around a hoped-for 10-15$ before taxes, but I'd not object if the goals were set and achieved higher. As for my own business, my goal was 30% and I routinely made 22-25%. A successful personal risk is worth big rewards.

A company will seek a less hostile environment if ANYTHING intrudes upon this goal. Companies exist only for one reason: To make a profit. That's it. Any other reason to work hard (altruism, goodness of the heart, love for the State and Party) is a figment of an ivory-tower imagination deluded by a incorrect perspective of the human condition. That's why communes failed. USSR, too, with China to follow.

What is the human condition? Well, it's hard to say, but I always thought it was recognized by our ancient common ancestors who kicked us out of the trees and said, "You knuckleheads cause too many problems. Let's see if you can make it on the savannas."

It's been up- and downhill since.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 23, 2010 | 7:23 p.m.

Jimmy Bearfield says...
"Paul, regarding your assumption that Oregon collected less than expected because the rich suffered, Derrick said above that the wealthy's "fortunes hardly dipped at all; in fact, many have seen an even bigger increase in income over the last 2 years than they did in the previous 2 years." So which is it?"

I see you have a habit of accepting whatever you read at face value. I suppose that explains your confusion. Hint: Ask Derrick about that one. I didn't say it. Do you think that because you disagree with me and also disagree with Derrick that I agree with derrick? I might have overestimated you. Also, how many stock exchanges or banks are headquartered in Oregon???

"People and businesses can and do move -- whether it's a few miles or a few hundred -- when taxes reach a point that they no longer see enough value in what they receive."

You make that argument when the latest round of data is available from the census bureau. What a foolish thing to do.

"BTW, I see that you've resorted to your "Send them to IRAQ!!!" comments. How childish."

I like my "Send them to IRAQ!!!" comments. If you don't like them you can go straight the hell to IRAQ!!!(with your children)

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop December 23, 2010 | 7:44 p.m.

I'm not going to bother putting the links here. Many studies show conservatives give a far greater percent of their income to charity than do liberals. Conservatives per capita also give far more of their unpaid time to charitable works. Conservatives are much happier in their personal lives than are liberals.

On the other hand, we can find many reports showing prominent liberals who are extremely stingy with their own money and time, while being very generous with the public's money. And we find that liberals as a group are far less happy with their lives.

For liberals, and often times Republicans (not to be confused with conservatives), taxes and spending equal control and power. This is why politicians should be thought of like diapers. They should be changed often and for the same reason.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 23, 2010 | 7:45 p.m.

Careful, Paul, or you'll get hauled out of here like it's Ellis Library.

At any rate, your rebuttals made absolutely no sense. Banks and stock exchanges are not the only sources of wealth in a state. Every heard of Oregon businesses such as Nike or Tektronix?

As for the census data, the sets that came out earlier this week showed that seven of the nine states with no income tax grew faster than the national average. In fact, those nine states accounted for 35% of the nation's total population growth.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 23, 2010 | 8:01 p.m.

Jimmy, is that a threat? Did you just threaten me?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAhx0blp2...

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop December 23, 2010 | 8:10 p.m.

Paul, your rebuttals have become as relevant as a gnat passing gas in a category 5 hurricane. Your posts on Jane Ralls thread excusing yourself for faulty memory instead of doing some real research before you posted is a classic indicator or the willingness of liberals to attempt to throw stuff against the wall just to see if it sticks. Even the links you post have no credibility for research content. Like Dan Rather, when caught, you will always dodge and weave. It's not working anymore. Now when liberals toss out nonsense, they are immediately caught and challenged. This is why libs want control of the internet. Another attempt to quash dissent and free speech.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 23, 2010 | 8:18 p.m.

Say Jimmy, maybe you should move to one of those states. Oh, and I should have expected you to not understand what I had said. I think that the people Derrick was railing against so profoundly were the management of large financial institutions. But hey, I still think you aren't going to be able to understand the question I asked you. And the two states with the highest tax rates both grew faster than the national average. So your argument SUCKS.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 23, 2010 | 8:23 p.m.

Don Milsop says...
"I'm not going to bother putting the links here. Many studies show..."
"Your posts on Jane Ralls thread excusing yourself for faulty memory instead of doing some real research before you posted is a classic indicator or the willingness of liberals to attempt to throw stuff against the wall just to see if it sticks. Even the links you post have no credibility for research content. Like Dan Rather, when caught, you will always dodge and weave. It's not working anymore. Now when liberals toss out nonsense, they are immediately caught and challenged. This is why libs want control of the internet. Another attempt to quash dissent and free speech."

Great research. I'll try to follow your example from now on.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 23, 2010 | 8:29 p.m.

And yeah, I want to cancel all free speech. Did it show?

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 23, 2010 | 8:31 p.m.

Give it a rest, Paul. No one here takes you any more seriously than the Trib posters did -- which is to say, not at all.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 23, 2010 | 8:40 p.m.

Thanks Jimmy, I can see that. Otherwise you might have been able to post a credible argument. But there is good news. I had already decided to give it a rest. I'm out of here. So now you are free to say all the stupid stuff you want and I won't even get on to defend myself. Have at you. I'll come on here the next time I need a good laugh.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 23, 2010 | 8:44 p.m.

Paul, that old "I'm outta here" line is Internet shorthand for "I've made myself look foolish, and I'd better cut my losses."

(Report Comment)
Yves Montclear December 23, 2010 | 8:46 p.m.

This much hot air should raise the temperature in Columbia, MO tonight! Keep the electrons flowing, heats up the lines.

I know it is cold up there, keep up the good work.

Plus, I'm getting great stuff, for my local cable access TV comedy show.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 23, 2010 | 9:17 p.m.

@Mike: It's quite the conundrum, isn't it? If a company expects to market products in the US, the consumers need jobs and money to buy the product. But they're not willing to risk the investment, not willing to take that "build it and they will come" chance, that would create jobs and thus demand. Either way, the business is dead on arrival. Thus, our economy remains dead as well.

What will it take to get these people to play ball? So far, I've only seen the expectation that we hand over everything, and then they *might* throw us a bone. Maybe. Sorry, but if that's the case, they can take their ball overseas and play with it there. I'm certain the people left behind can build new lives and a new economy. It will certainly be different, but will it be genuinely worse?

The concentration of wealth in the US has become damaging. The 6 largest banks control over $9 Trillion in assets - 63% of annual GDP. They pass the money back and forth via complicated financial products and make a profit with each transaction, but those transactions don't create any real new wealth, jobs, industry, or infrastructure. The citizens of this country aren't seeing any benefit from their money or what they're doing with it. If they want to take their money and get the heck out of the country because we threaten to take away some of their money, good riddance.

Perhaps we should institute corporate tax rates that are inversely proportional to number of US citizens they employ and the average payroll of the bottom 90% of their workers. I hear all the time (from liberals) how outrageous it is that Exxon Mobil, despite making $Billions in profits, doesn't pay any taxes at all, in fact gets money from the government. But, that company employs tens of thousands of US workers with reasonably well-paying jobs. And, they produce products that are vital to the operation of the country. I'm not sure I have a problem with the amount of taxes they pay.

I'm curious what people's take is on the "Giving Pledge" thingie, where currently almost 60 of the country's wealthiest people are pledging to give at least half of their wealth away, to charity. Is this good, bad, indifferent?

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 23, 2010 | 9:34 p.m.

I laugh at the assertion that conservatives lead happier lives. Virtually every conservative I come across - especially those that watch Fox News - are absolutely filled with anger and hate. Furthermore, they can't see past Dems vs. Pubs politics. The last time I tried to agree with Frank Christian on something, and say "Let's get to work on this," all I got in return was yelled at about all the transgressions of liberals and democrats. If that's happy and productive, I'm glad I'm not a conservative.

I would also like to qualify my statement about the wealthy not taking the same kind of hit the rest of us have. I was implying, specifically, the Wall Street executives who were still getting huge and huger bonuses over the last 2 years, even as the rest of the country was seeing more layoffs and pay cuts.

But lately I've seen a couple stories about how some of these Wall Street executives aren't getting the big bonuses this year. Poor sots. What's up with that?

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 23, 2010 | 9:38 p.m.

It's hypocritical for Warren Buffett to grouse that he doesn't pay enough taxes, yet he doesn't feel guilty enough to go ahead and pay what he thinks he should to the federal government. Instead, he gives it to charities. Why? No doubt he believes that the private sector can use his money more effectively than the government.

Worse, advocates of higher taxes on "the rich" hold up his complaint that he doesn't pay enough taxes as proof that "the rich" absolutely must pay more. But the middle class would do well to hang on to their wallets at that point because eventually those new taxes will hit them, too. The AMT, for example, was created to target just 155 "rich" people. Now it reaches deep into the middle class. For example, in 2009, 28% of households that paid the AMT had incomes of $200,000 or less. Another example is the federal income tax, which less than 10% of taxpayers paid when it was created.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 23, 2010 | 9:49 p.m.

Ironically, if the income inequality keeps going the way it has for the last 30 years, only 10% of the taxpayers will be paying any tax again.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 23, 2010 | 10:04 p.m.

Jimmy has a good point regarding anything that is based on a fixed dollar amount. Inflation keeps bringing more and more people into the fold. It's something very fundamentally wrong with the $250K line in the current tax code. The percentage of tax you pay should be indexed to the percentage of total income you take in, and the percentage of total wealth you control.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 23, 2010 | 10:09 p.m.

I would also like to point out that the majority of those filthy rich Wall Street banker-crooks, the ones that were the deepest into the derivatives meltdown, the ones that kept getting huge bonuses even as the rest of the country was getting hammered, are registered Democrats.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 23, 2010 | 10:40 p.m.

Derrick says, "...banker-crooks, the ones that were the deepest into the derivatives meltdown, the ones that kept getting huge bonuses even as the rest of the country was getting hammered, are registered Democrats."
______________________________

Geez, Derrick.....if I'da known that, I wouldn't have argued with you so hard!!! Heck, I mighta even agreed!

I like folks who tell all sides of a story, and then and only then tell why they believe their side is better. Can you say, "Intellectually honest"? Gets an "A" in my book.

Seriously though, we've had a great discussion and I've enjoyed it. I checked out for a while to go work out and had Christmas thingies to do. And now I'm sleepy. So, rather than try and continue, I'll just say I hope you and yours have a GREAT set of holidays!

Now all we need is a "cycling" article.....after the holidays. Will help keep the winter occupied, lol.
honk, honk, dude.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 23, 2010 | 10:53 p.m.

Merry Christmas to you too, Mike. :-)

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop December 24, 2010 | 6:34 a.m.

Quote:

For three decades, the General Social Survey has asked a nationwide sample of adults, “Taken all together, how happy would you say you are these days? Would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?” Here is a representative sample of the results:

• In 2004, 44 percent of respondents who said they were “conservative” or “very conservative” said they were “very happy,” versus just 25 percent of people who called themselves “liberal” or “very liberal.” (Note that this comparison uses unweighted data — when the data are weighted, the gap is 46 percent to 28 percent.)

PewResearchCenter Publications (Hardly conservative)
Are We Happy Yet?
http://pewresearch.org/pubs/301/are-we-h...

National Science Foundation (again, hardly a conservative group) funded this one:

Jaime L. Napier, Department of Psychology, New York University, 6 Washington Place, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10003–6634

http://pss.sagepub.com/content/19/6/565....

Interestingly, this study was not just done in the USA, but in NINE different countries.

Now on to charitable giving of conservatives versus liberals. We'll start with liberal NYT columnist NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF. Here's his quote from the NYT:

"This holiday season is a time to examine who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, but I’m unhappy with my findings. The problem is this: We liberals are personally stingy.

Liberals show tremendous compassion in pushing for generous government spending to help the neediest people at home and abroad. Yet when it comes to individual contributions to charitable causes, liberals are cheapskates."

Here's the link:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/21/opinio...

Syracuse University professor Arthur Brooks, who conducted a study which found that conservatives, while making slightly less money than liberals, actually contribute more.
This was a book, Who Really Cares, excerpts are blow:

"When you look at the data, it turns out the conservatives give about thirty percent more per conservative-headed family than per liberal-headed family. And incidentally, conservative-headed families make slightly less money."

Conservatives are even eighteen percent more likely to donate blood.

In the 2004 election, of the 25 states that were above average in per capita charitable contribution, President Bush carried 24 of those states.

Then we have Andrew Nelson, Johns Hopkins University writing in Campus Progressives. Read here:

http://campusprogress.org/articles/who_c...

If you bother to do the research on volunteerism, you will find that food pantries, homeless kitchens, public hospitals, Habitat for Humanity, etc. show 75% of the volunteer staffing is by Christian conservatives. I know you would like me to provide the links to that, but I really would like you to do your own research and have the integrity to come back and admit I'm right.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 24, 2010 | 12:50 p.m.

Actually liberals want to euthanize your children. They should outlaw them.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop December 24, 2010 | 2:29 p.m.

Paul, liberals have been euthanizing children in this country at the rate of approximately 3,000 per day, every single day of the year, since 1974. You couldn't even wait for them to be born. Eventually the law will change though, and murder of the unborn innocents will largely stop here in our land. Until then, we'll pray for you. Oh, and just so you know, my daughter is adopted, and her mother did have drug problems as well as other issues. Liberals are just as stingy with the rights of the unborn as they are with their charitable dollars. Well, alot more stingy with the unborn.

(Report Comment)
Yves Montclear December 24, 2010 | 2:48 p.m.

It is why crime rates have dropped in this country, statistically, over the last 25 years.

Don Milsop wrote:
--liberals have been euthanizing children in this country at the rate of approximately 3,000 per day, every single day of the year, since 1974.--

It isn't anything that police, government, or any enforcement has done. It is legal abortions. That has dropped the crime rate. There are a lot less criminals out there on the street, as a result of it.

You can google the facts.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 24, 2010 | 3:02 p.m.

You know I can tell how happy the conservatives are when I listen to Bill Oriley (spelling?) speak. I can tell when I see footage of tea party idiots. I can tell when the Phelps congregation congregates. I can tell when I read your rants, Don...
What island are you on?

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 24, 2010 | 4:08 p.m.

LOL. Paul said: "I'm out of here. So now you are free to say all the stupid stuff you want and I won't even get on to defend myself." Sixteen hours later, guess who's back?

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 24, 2010 | 4:30 p.m.

Oh, clearly you didn't think, that when I said "I'm out of here" that meant for any significant length of time. Did you? I suppose this isn't the first time you misunderstood my comments. You're a smart fart smeller Jim. What name did you use on the tribune?

See, you forgot this part of what I said..."I'll come on here the next time I need a good laugh." See that? I said it. I meant it too. You really are funny in your own messed up way.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking December 24, 2010 | 4:38 p.m.

Don Milsop wrote:
"Eventually the law will change though, and murder of the unborn innocents will largely stop here in our land."

What makes you think so? Legal abortion has been upheld time and time again in our courts.

We recognize that making abortions illegal just means women get illegal abortions instead of legal ones, and they are usually worse off for it. Unless you have some foolproof method of birth control that everyone will use, maybe you shouldn't worry about it.

DK

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 24, 2010 | 11:05 p.m.

I'm aware that conservatives are rather liberal with charitable donations. But it raises a question regarding "Christian conservatives." Is there any other type, or is the Christian part what truly defines a conservative?

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 24, 2010 | 11:24 p.m.

The 'happiness' studies Don cites are all from before Obama was elected. I'd posit that the conservative happiness index has seriously tanked since Obama's inauguration. Of course with the 2010 election results, they're looking a bit more chipper again.

(Report Comment)
David Rosman December 26, 2010 | 3:54 p.m.

Gentlemen -

Thanks for the wonderful continuing "comic relief" and tossing of opinion without sanction. I love it. But a few things to correct.
1) The authors of Missourian commentary do not write the headers for the columns - the students do. My title was simply, "Merry Christmas - 2010."
2) Yes, this is a rant against the GOP sitting on the Hill waiting to take their pray by delaying bills that would in fact save lives, homes and the economy by using uncalled for delaying tactics.
3) It amazes me that when something goes wrong, we demand that our government "take care of the problem" but few want to pay the moneys needed to help those who are in need.
4) It also amazes me at the disconnect those who blame the lower economic base (about 50% of our citizenry)for all of the problems. I strongly suggest you attend a "Poverty Simulation" given by Central Missouri Community Action. Tell Darin Preis, the executive director, that I said 'Hi."

I would like to remind those who think tax cuts are the only way to solve our economic problems that Ronald Reagan raised taxes and the economy improved. George H.W. bush raised taxes and the economy improved. William F. Clinton raised taxes and the economy improved.

Finally, there is the question of the "Christian Conservative." I happen to know a couple of conservatives who are atheists and Humanists, and many liberals who are Christians. However, one cannot accept the label of either Christian or Humanist if that person is only thinking of themselves and not those who do need. My reference for this statement is Yeshua's Sermon on the Mount.

Write on, my brethren. Write on.

David

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 26, 2010 | 8:06 p.m.

78% of US citizens claim Christianity as their faith. Most conservatives and liberals alike claim to be Christians. A couple conservative non-Christians is a nice anecdote, but hardly makes a case.

Of the 536 national politicians, 465 (87%) claim to be Christians. 71 (13%) are not Christians. 45 (10%) of those are Jewish. Only 16 (3%) are non Judeo-Christian.

When the Christian Coalition advocates: "Today, Christians need to play an active role in government again like never before." It seems like the influence of religious ideology in politics bears continued scrutiny.

How does that tie into the newfound fiscal conservatism?

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 26, 2010 | 10:27 p.m.

David, we shouldn't have a government program for every character flaw (e.g., addiction, people who can't even care for themselves having kids anyway). These parts of the safety net must be eliminated. Let them walk the earth as examples of where irresponsibility and selfishness gets you. If their plight bothers you so much, take them into your home.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 28, 2010 | 1:59 p.m.

Jimmy, you made the most asinine comment I can recall. For starters, most agencies and states, for that matter, won't allow gay couples to adopt. If I had a child and was so stupid and irresponsible that I refused to take responsibility for it I would consider aborting it myself before allowing it to grow up in a home like yours.

But that wasn't Jimmy's point. He was discussing the disgusting fact that a majority of the legislators wish to write their pseudomoralistic views into the laws that each other and you are intended to follow.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 28, 2010 | 8:53 p.m.

Paul, what does homosexuality have to do with this? Are you saying that David is gay? If so, what does homosexuality still have to do with this? He doesn't have to adopt the people he pities. He can simply move them into his own without any legal framework.

Your red herring stinks!

(Report Comment)

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