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J. KARL MILLER: Occupy protest movement is a nuisance

Sunday, December 4, 2011 | 7:53 p.m. CST; updated 10:33 a.m. CST, Monday, December 5, 2011

During my adult life span, a number of protest movements have been initiated.

Three have been long-lived or memorable — the Civil Rights protest movement of the 1960s, the anti-Vietnam protests of the 1970s and the protests that began nearly three months ago as Occupy Wall Street.

The first two are memorable because they had purpose. 

The Civil Rights movement was a well-organized and largely peaceful exercise in civil disobedience for minority rights, with Martin Luther King Jr. as its respected leader. 

The anti-war movement had no real leader nor was it particularly well-organized or peaceful, but its purpose was unmistakable.

On the other hand, if the "Occupy" movement has a purpose, it is expertly concealed behind a facade of adolescents acting out about a perceived unfairness in their allowance or curfew. 

The notion that they, as "99 percenters," are victims of the wealthiest percent and, as such, deserve to share in a redistribution of property is absolute nonsense.

With the encouragement of the media and left-of-center adherents, the movement has outlived any meaningful benefit. Instead, it has attained elevated-nuisance status. 

The "occupiers" are costing cities and municipalities millions of dollars in police and sanitation functions and, in many locales, are obstructive and disorderly to the point of requiring forcible removal.

Among the most vocal and wrongheaded of the media supporters are Robert Reich, former labor secretary under President Clinton; Paul Krugman of the New York Times; and former Des Moines Register and now-syndicated columnist Donald Kaul.

Reich laments the violation of the occupiers' First Amendment rights, while Krugman finds the accumulation of unredistributed wealth to be unAmerican. 

Kaul claims there are no jobs available, specifically the kind of jobs for which the protesters are college-trained.

Reich conveniently overlooks the caveat that freedom of assembly must be peaceable — that right is forfeited when the protest turns violent or a lawful order to disperse is ignored.  

I am not certain to whom Krugman would cede the power to decide how much wealth a person may accumulate and who is to determine its fair redistribution.

Kaul's jobs lament is rather curious. There is obviously no lack of jobs requiring manual labor, as illegals seem to find ready employment. 

And, the need for skilled workers — welders, plumbers, electricians — is such that these jobs go begging.  Perhaps the occupiers are not into soiling their hands?

As for the jobs for the college-educated — alas, there is little demand in the workplace for those with degrees in ethnic, gender, social ecology or various humanities studies.

Ironically, the United States is experiencing a current and future critical shortage of science, technology, engineering and mathematics professionals, the most pronounced in physics. Maybe the academic requirements of these disciplines leaves too little time for social interaction?

I suppose the Occupy Wall Street protest has been a new and joyous adventure for the neophytes, a nostalgia trip for the geezers of the Vietnam era and a ready vehicle for the anarchists and professional antis. 

But, a reality check is overdue, inasmuch as every one of their demands — whether a living wage without employment, forgiveness of debt, free education or free health care — must be paid by someone with the capital and the ingenuity to do so.

"Social and economic" justice are mere buzz words or slogans for protest posters.   The idea that employment can be stimulated by raising taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent ("fair" share) is patently dishonest.  Tax revenues automatically accrue to the government, an entity that has neither the history nor capacity to create productive jobs.

There is a role for government in job creation, that of working closely with the private sector to encourage entrepreneurship, investment and expansion of existing  businesses. 

The current love affair with "green" jobs, expanding environmental regulations and mythical shovel-ready infrastructure projects in opposition to bona fide and ready energy-producing employment fails to meet that criteria.

J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via e-mail at JKarlUSMC@aol.com.


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Comments

Ellis Smith December 5, 2011 | 5:16 a.m.

The Donald Kaul some of us knew, who wrote interesting and frequently humorous columns for the Des Moines Register, apparently DIED and has been replaced by a mean-spirited impostor.

Wouldn't it be fascinating to view an educational dossier for each protester? How many of them would we guess have technical degrees? Probably not many, because most people with technical degrees are employed.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush December 5, 2011 | 5:47 a.m.

If they called themselves
Tea-occupiers, you would
Be much more gracious.

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm December 5, 2011 | 7:33 a.m.

Herp derp, get off my lawn, herp derp

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin December 5, 2011 | 8:31 a.m.

You're missing the lessons of history here, Colonel. Most significant protests have started with the educated and unemployed, from the European intellectuals of several generations to sixties-era American college students.

Remember Herman Cain's lament about the Civil Rights protests you applaud here? Unlike many of the protestors, he was too busy, he said, gainfully employed, and had no time to be involved.

Damn the OWS crowd as the educated but unemployed, and you damn much of the historical record.

While you make a number of great points regarding misguided re-distributionism -- which usually only serves to redistribute wealth from the wealthy to the bureaucrats (not the poor) anyway -- your article is also self-contradictory on the point of the point of OWS.

You lament that they have no purpose, and yet you ascribe a purpose to them -- to foment a fever for the redistribution of wealth -- which you then criticize.

I would argue that, while many OWS protestors indeed want this to happen, just as many others are protesting the bad apples that our system has allowed to populate the barrel.

I've heard many of them decry the criminally-unethical Madoffs of the world, whose numbers have soared in recent years. 60 Minutes did a solid piece Sunday on the government's turning a blind eye to much of this.

We have to get the crooks, thieves, ripoff artists, and criminals out of the system, and stop allowing them to cloud their presence with political rhetoric and innuendo, as has happened with much of the OWS discourse.

The problem of criminals in capitalism is a serious and increasingly-epidemic one well worth protesting that threatens the foundations of everything you and I hold dear in the worst possible place -- from within.

(Report Comment)
David Sautner December 5, 2011 | 9:36 a.m.

45 million Americans live without healthcare... BY CHOICE!
Who needs healthcare? If I get sick I'd be happy to die the way that God intended me to die and not rely on all them phony doctors and health professionals and their crockpot of bull. LIVE STRONG! If I have to live without a home then so be it! I'll be hogwashed before I let myself demand affordable housing!

(Report Comment)
Vega Bond December 5, 2011 | 10:51 a.m.

Mr. Miller, I'm glad to know that you don't consider what you did for thirty years to be a productive job. For the most part, neither do I.

(Report Comment)
Vega Bond December 5, 2011 | 10:53 a.m.

"Tax revenues automatically accrue to the government, an entity that has neither the history nor capacity to create productive jobs."

In case you were wondering where that statement came from.

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub December 5, 2011 | 10:55 a.m.

Hypocrisy is alive and well. While the narcissistic rantings of those that believe taking anything from the rich is blasphemy, they fail to acknowledge that the largest re-distribution of wealth is exactly the opposite. The recession that most of us have been suffering from has proven to be a cash cow for those at the the top. The housing debacle was brought about by the selling of rubber stamped qualified loans packaged up and sold to those who believed the certifications were valid. Billions of dollars were re-distributed during this debacle. Those in the know, knew that these were basically 'junk' bonds, and bet against them while at the same time selling them as good investments. And then there was the little thing called bailouts, again re-distributing the wealth upwards. While in secret the Fed was pumping trillions to other major bankers at practically no interest. All this done with the money of the 99%. The Iraq invasion has been nothing more than a feeding trough major corporations, much of it still unaccounted for...more re-distribution. Tax breaks for the wealthy put into effect - conveniently - just before the recession with the express purpose of building up the economy, as an experiment which was to be temporary has been re-instated many times although it is a major factor in the downfall of our economy. This is real re-distribution of wealth and extremely socialistic, another negative word in the right wing arsenal of hypocrisy.
As to previous movements, Karl states they had purpose and the civil rights movement was peaceful. That was hardly the case, much like the protests of the 99% folks, the protestors were peaceful but those who opposed it were far from it shootings, beatings, lynchings were common place among those who believed the white race was superior. Proving, as they are today, that that is far from the case.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 5, 2011 | 11:12 a.m.

Mike Martin - Miller identifies the memorable significant, protests of his time. You don't even try. While criticizing his piece, you note the obvious, "60 Minutes did a solid piece Sunday on the government's turning a blind eye to much of this." The government has allowed and indeed, fomented much of the criminal activity occupiers purport to abhor. Which ones in Washington D.C. are the occupiers accusing? The "misguided re-distributionism" of wealth is moving along quite nicely, in less 11 months over 1T$ has been borrowed and distributed somewhere ( you accurately state, it has not gone to the poor). If it had, there would be no poor to concern us.). Your use of this tragedy to call the writer out is lame.

David Sautner has trouble with his lament as well. Of course, if he told the truth, that every American has "health care", albeit, the hospital emergency room for some, that 45M (a number continually questioned) people do not carry health care INSURANCE, he would have no story. Affordable housing won't work either, think of something else, David.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 5, 2011 | 11:17 a.m.

What about the redistribution that the 99 percenters enable: www.creators.com/opinion/walter-williams... ? If you want to be rich, stop buying crap you don't really need.

(Report Comment)
stephen weber December 5, 2011 | 11:37 a.m.

The author wrote,"The notion that they, as "99 percenters," are victims of the wealthiest percent and, as such, deserve to share in a redistribution of property is absolute nonsense."

Look it is about Wall Street is that correct? Sure that seems obvious...
Watch the Academy Award winning movie "Inside Job" commentated by Matt Damon. It covers the financial crisis of 2008.

His statement sounds like "The Earth is Flat", because the truth is that most of the wealth is owned by a few.

The protesters may not each and every one be able to explain the financial world , what a Credit Default Swap is. But the point is that a small group of people LITERALLY NOW already own just about everything.

And the word, "redistribution", is another straw MAN . Writers that choose words that are easily pushed down aren't really stating logical arguments.

TAX the RICH at the level at which they own. If a person owns 20% of all the land. Then they should logically pay 20% of the taxes.
TAXES is an acceptable normal word.
Redistribution = taxes
but redistribution could be used by a thief. So it is just a nonsense word and if you hear it, it most likely will be a writer or speaker with no ability to really present a logical point. They talk up a straw man that they can in the next paragraph push down.
Clark Kent would never write like that.

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson December 5, 2011 | 12:36 p.m.

The Occupiers are playing right into the evil, greedy hands of Big Camping Supplies. Unwittingly enriching those fat-cat robber barons at the helms of Coleman, Ozark Trail, Eureka, Stansport, Weathermaster, et al with their increased consumer appetites for tents and other camping supplies.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro December 5, 2011 | 1:01 p.m.
(Report Comment)
frank christian December 5, 2011 | 1:21 p.m.

Boy, the natives are restless, are they not? Now G. Straub, doing what liberals do best, recite our problems without honest reference to those who created them. To portray "Tax breaks for the wealthy" honestly as they were (and will be)as "across the board tax cuts for ALL" (word tax payers should be added after ALL, because pulling at any thread, liberals will immediately scream "what about those poor who don't pay taxes?) does not fit the agenda. Neither does "the protestors were peaceful but those who opposed it were far from it shootings, beatings, lynchings were common place among those who believed the white race was superior.", without mentioning that those " who believed the white race was superior.",were Southern Democrats.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 5, 2011 | 1:48 p.m.

Does Mr. weber display the liberal intellect suggesting a movie narrated by great actor, ideological idiot (if told to say the world is flat, he would say it) Matt Damon, is The place to find out about the financial crisis of 2008? stephen, those who care, Know what caused our crisis.

Two things to try to get the brain around, "most of the wealth is owned by a few." New wealth could and should be produced all the time. Policies of Democrats and now this Obama administration have all but brought that production to a halt. A situation those like Geo. Soros and Peter Lewis, etc. (1%ers) have strived for and will foist upon Americans until they are stopped.

"but redistribution could be used by a thief." Redistribution IS being used by thieves. As stated, "in less than 11 months over 1T$ has been legislated for, borrowed, and redistributed Some where." If the poor had it would we need to be concerned about them?

(Report Comment)
Richard Saunders December 5, 2011 | 2:51 p.m.

Divide.
Conquer.
Rinse.
Repeat. (ad infinitum)

This is exactly why these "movements" exist. Stir them up and watch them demand political "solutions."

It's all about protecting the facade of the "most important election, EVER!"

There are no such things as collectivist solutions in a world where only individuals exist. Every problem demanding a political solution today, was the solution to yesterday's problem.

If only people would stop fighting over the gun used to control others, and police themselves, instead. Or is that asking too much from the apathetic, voting class?

Any time spent destroying the world via politics would be far better spent taking care of ones' family.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 5, 2011 | 3:57 p.m.

@ Ray Shapiro:

Ah yes! "The little house on the gumbo." According to the official Mississippi travel guide, Starkville, Mississippi is most advantageously viewed through the rear view mirror of an automobile - as one escapes in the direction of Memphis, Tennessee. (However, it might be argued that Stillwater, Oklahoma wasn't that big a step up.)

Would you mind passing the boiled okra?

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 6, 2011 | 7:32 a.m.

Ellis Smith - Recently there has been seen on TV, a commercial, picturing an evil looking old man peering over his shoulder at possibly, his next victim. Turns out, however he is a hip hop disc jockey, full of fun.

To me, the first shot of the old man looked exactly like the one of Donald Kaul that they used to run at top of his column. Have you seen the ad?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 6, 2011 | 9:05 a.m.

@ Frank:

I posed for the evil old man sequence. :) People from MS&T are the ones your mother warned you about. Sometimes we even scare ourselves.

I don't watch much domestic TV since I discovered MHz network. KMOS broadcasts PBS (6.1), Create Channel (6.2) and MHz (6.3). On 6.3 you get daily news from France, Germany, Al Jazeera, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Russia, mainland China, etc., in English (some in their own language with English subtitles). MHz also broadcasts - and sells (DVD) - several mystery series, including Wallander (Swedish), Varg Veum (Norwegian), Irene Huss (Swedish), Detective Montalbano (Italian), and Inspector Coliandro (Italian).

Episodes, 90 minutes long (a format once used in the United States for dramas) are in the language of the producing country, requiring that most Americans read the subtitles. A new series called Inspector Brunetti and set in Venice is produced by a German company and the sound track is in German (with English subtitles). Watching actors in Venice speaking German is a hoot. I'm slowly remembering my German.

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller December 6, 2011 | 11:04 a.m.

Mr Weber,
It appears you are espousing Henry George's "Land Tax Theory," an idea that a single tax on land would be both efficient and fair in that it is a progressive tax paid by the wealthy thus reducing income equality. The Land Tax was also the darling of Harry Gunnison Brown, a University of Missouri economics professor whose text was in use when I was a student.

Among the several disadvantages of the Land Tax Theory is that after several generations of taxing landowners, all land would become the property of the government. When apprised of this aspect, Brown smiled and answered "that is right."

I don't buy into "Georgism" any more than I consider Matt Damon to be an objective and knowledgeable critic of the economy.

I do thank you for your opinion Captain Weber--Semper Fi!!

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 6, 2011 | 11:28 a.m.

Ellis - I certainly had no intention of embarrassing you, but if you look like that....

I was learning German while there in USAF, but the Polish instructor turned out to be communist and was fired from the job. If another was hired, it was after I left.

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller December 6, 2011 | 1:22 p.m.

A correction please to my earlier post--In the third line, the entry should have read "income inequality."

(Report Comment)
Jim Clayton December 6, 2011 | 2:41 p.m.

I agree that the OWS movement is a nuisance, but I also agree with the general concept of protesting corporate greed as I see it in my own company, however their way of protesting is way off balance and immature. To camp outside in public, urinating and defecating on public streets,coming down with headlice and spreading diseses like tuberculosis from sharing cigarettes and bottles and women parading around topless is not the way to protest anything and only succeeds in turning people off.

In New York City, women were being attacked and raped so they had to set up a women only tent that held up to 16 women at a time. Also drumming all hours of the night below people's apartments is a public nuisance also.
They put down the tea-party, but the tea party protested peacefully and cleaned up after every demonstration. They held town meetings peacefully and invited candidates to speak and publicly supported candidates so they got voted in office with the idea they would be voted out if they did not live up to the party's requests,which were reasonable like lower taxes, smaller government and fiscal responsability.

Obama and Pelosi publicly supported the OWS movement and I suspect it was he who is responsible for it's beginning using his experience from being a community organizer since he publicly opposed wall street and corporations using class warfare while at the same time receiving his biggest donations from them.
Michael Moore spoke at the rallies and said he was not in the 1% since he didn't do any movies this year or write any books,yet he buys a two million dollar waterfront home in Michigan. Hypocrite that he is.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 6, 2011 | 3:37 p.m.

J. Karl Miller said: "The "occupiers" are costing cities and municipalities millions of dollars in police and sanitation functions and, in many locales, are obstructive and disorderly to the point of requiring forcible removal."

Well, bad road conditions cost American taxpayers billions of dollars a year, and this is a problem that could be fixed easily (and inexpensively) were it not for the fact that the government is broke. You know who isn't broke? The billionaires you're defending, those who couldn't spend all the money they've "earned" in their lifetime, and their children's lifetime, and their grandchildren's lifetime, etc. if they tried. These are the same guys who, in your view, apparently should be rewarded for having so much money, and their reward should be more money.

Your obsession with the term "redistribution" is amusing as well, as if the OWS protesters are the only ones out there seeking to line their pockets with everyone else's money, as if the entrepreneurs and businessmen you so praise for their hard and "honest" work don't take advantage of every tax loophole imaginable and don't spend billions lobbying relentlessly in Congress to further hoard everyone else's money.

It's hard to make the case for the evils of "redistribution" when the wealth was never distributed fairly in the first place. You're effectively punishing the novice at the poker table for slipping a penny into his pockets, all the while the pros are openly playing with a stacked deck. Your argument implies that we all start with even odds, which is utterly false.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop December 6, 2011 | 7:07 p.m.

If one were to take plastic trash bags into the OWS encampments and have donated everything they had that was made by evil, greedy corporations, they would be naked, hungry, homeless, and phoneless. What a bunch of hypocrites. It was not Wall Street that forced the mortgage industry to make loans to those who couldn't afford it. It was congress under Democrat leadership that forced it. And it was Fannie and Freddie backing mortgages they knew to be worthless, and their Democrat leadership that cooked the books and reaped millions of unearned bonuses at taxpayer expense. And there was zero prosecution. Meanwhile, Democrats like Dodd, Frank, and Obama took campaign contributions from Fannie and Freddie, and made below market favorable deals with them. But not one word of protest is heard from the liberals posting here. Where is the outrage, even if it's feigned?

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller December 6, 2011 | 7:14 p.m.

Jonathon: Perhaps you can enlighten the rest of us as to: 1, Who gets to decide how much wealth an individual may possess and: 2, Who assumes the task of redistribution of that wealth?

This is reminiscent of "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." I will let you determine from whence that philosophy had its origins.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 6, 2011 | 7:39 p.m.

"the entrepreneurs and businessmen you so praise for their hard and 'honest' work don't take advantage of every tax loophole imaginable"

Don't forget all of the middle and lower class folks who take advanatge of loopholes such as the EITC, child care credit and mortgage deduction. That's why the vast majority of the 47% who owe no federal taxes make less than $50K.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 7, 2011 | 9:37 a.m.

J Karl Miller:

In an ideal world (or one better than this one), the amount of wealth you possess should correlate to the amount of work you put in, but that's clearly not the case. Also, in an ideal world, those who were fortunate enough to be born into lives of comfort and opportunity would help those less fortunate of their own volition, but this isn't happening either, or at least not to the degree that it should. Well, just like all other less-than-ideal situations we face and are too lazy to address ourselves but would still like to keep under control, our answer has been government. And much to your dismay, the answer to the "wealth redistribution problem" is government too, so long as we remain unwilling to chip in ourselves or fail to come up with a better solution.

If you think this is a bunch of liberal, socialist, tree-hugging hippie hogwash, just think of criminal laws. People ideally wouldn't injure others, but because so many of us do (or would), now we need those pesky laws to try to prevent adults from behaving like unsupervised children. At their core, criminal laws effectively coerce us into (not) behaving certain ways under the threat of physical violence, just as tax laws coerce us into relinquising our wages under the threat of physical violence--as in, men with guns and armor will enter your house and take you away if you don't pay. These laws wouldn't exist if we behaved like we should on our own, but I don't imagine you're clamoring against the evils of "big government" so loudly in the case of criminal laws as you are about its role in tax laws and "wealth redistribution."

So yeah, unless all these billionaires decide to convene and pool their resources intelligently to improve our infrastructure, healthcare, education, etc. (most of which would indeed be better handled in the private sector), in the meantime we have to settle for the best we can do with what we currently have, i.e. government. And why should the rich do this? Because they have the means to.

p.s. Since I'm sure you'll disagree with most of what I said above, perhaps you could enlighten us as to how you would react if there was a single trillionaire in the US and 60% of the population lived below the poverty line.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 7, 2011 | 11:05 a.m.

@Jonathan (and others...)
I think you need to be reminded of something that I think appeared in one of his articles. (The Tax Foundation provided my numbers...)
The top 1 percent earn 17 percent of the money, but pay 37 percent of the taxes.
The top 10 percent pay 70 percent of the taxes.
The top 25 percent pay 87 percent of the taxes.
The top 50 percent pay 98 percent of the taxes.

It looks to me like the top half of the earners are already paying the way for the bottom half. Are you suggesting that the bottom half deserves more than a free ride?

I suggest that the problem lies within the bottom half. For the vast majority, the top half is acheivable for the bottom half.

The problem is that somewhere along the line, more and more people have the idea that they deserve to have the fruits of the top half's labor without doing any of the labor themselves.

I grew up with the idea that the bottom half deserves an opportunity to make their way up to the top half through education, hard work, risk taking, etc. Hmmm...

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking December 7, 2011 | 11:10 a.m.

Johnathan Hopfenblatt wrote:

"In an ideal world (or one better than this one), the amount of wealth you possess should correlate to the amount of work you put in"

THe overwhelming problem with that is the definition of "work". That's why we've typically had a labor market, where workers with more knowledge, skill, ability and especially responsibility were compensated more.

It is a slippery slope indeed to try to determine who "deserves" what compensation.

Actually our average wages (corrected for "purchasing power", not straight exchange rates) are the highest in the world.

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

DK

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 7, 2011 | 1:20 p.m.

@mike mentor:

I assume that your numbers are based on federal taxes, given the claim that the bottom 50% pays no tax. The problem with that is that low-income households still pay state taxes, local taxes, payroll taxes, sales tax, etc. Furthermore, this "bottom half" you seem to find so contemptible includes anyone earning less than ~$50,000 if we go by the US median household income--$50k is about the starting salary of an engineer fresh out of college. The list of scavengers seeking a free ride apparently includes teachers, police officers, social workers, lawyers, journalists, etc.

On top of all of this, conservatives seem to have forgotten that there's a huge difference between 50% of $2K and 50% of $1B (or whichever tax rate you would find acceptable so as to treat everyone "fairly" no matter their income). Sure, higher-income households pay are taxed at highe rates, but take 15% off a $15k salary and you might have just killed that person's ability to pay rent each month. Take 15% off a $1M salary (hell, take 50%), and that person will still live entirely carefree. Nevermind that $1M is chump change compared to the salaries of the bigwig entrepreneurs Karl Miller admires. Those guys make more money in their sleep than most people will see their entire lives.

http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=vie...

And regarding your last paragraph, we are not all born with the same opportunities in life--nowhere near it. And even worse, I'm quite sure that the same people criticizing the OWS movement now would also criticize any attempt to give everyone the same opportunities, because that's just communism and socialism and all. The gist of the argument here seems to be "sucks to be you!"

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 7, 2011 | 1:31 p.m.

@Mark Foecking:

The main problem here is the false notion that we "deserve" our fortunes and misfortunes, because this view fails to take into account the huge role that luck plays in our lives. I have no idea what your finances look like, but imagine how they would be affected if your one of your kids had recurring leukemia, or your wife had breast cancer already undergoing metastasis, or you had been in a terrible car accident that paralyzed you from the neck down.

Our policies should recognize the fact that some people are luckier than others, and that some people are really unlucky. The prevailing conservative view seems to be that we're all self-made, which is simply not true.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 7, 2011 | 1:37 p.m.

"I assume that your numbers are based on federal taxes, given the claim that the bottom 50% pays no tax. The problem with that is that low-income households still pay state taxes, local taxes, payroll taxes, sales tax, etc."

Yes, but as Christopher Foote noted on here several months ago, payroll taxes fund only about 30% of the federal budget. Must be nice to get services at such as deep discount.

"Furthermore, this 'bottom half' you seem to find so contemptible includes anyone earning less than ~$50,000 if we go by the US median household income--$50k is about the starting salary of an engineer fresh out of college. The list of scavengers seeking a free ride apparently includes teachers, police officers, social workers, lawyers, journalists, etc."

Correct. Welcome to reality. Figures 4, 5 and 6 in the PDF at www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/2286.htm... to show which brackets get the most government spending for the least amount of taxes paid. That's something for the whiners and envious to keep in mind the next time they cry that the rich aren't paying their fair share.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking December 7, 2011 | 2:06 p.m.

Johnathan Hopfenblatt wrote:

"but imagine how they would be affected if your one of your kids had recurring leukemia, or your wife had breast cancer already undergoing metastasis, or you had been in a terrible car accident that paralyzed you from the neck down."

These are all insurable events. Someone who says they can't afford health insurance is someone who can LEAST afford not to have it. More often (and I'd love to see good statistics on this), money that could be spent on health insurance is spent on things far less important (and understand the truly poor have options that are not available to average families).

Luck does have a lot to do with how people end up, but so do choices. In fact I'd say that choices make up the lion's share of what determines our lives, especially in rich countries. The "liberal" (I hate political labels) view is that we're all victims of circumstance (or the "system", whatever that is), which is no more true than to say we're all self made.

DK

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 7, 2011 | 2:35 p.m.

Re: choices.
_____________________

It's this strong belief in "luck" that gets folks in financial trouble, either in thinking (falsely) something "good" will come down the pike or by trying your hand at things like the lottery.

"Luck" does happen, but its influence pales in comparison to the 2-3 really significant decisions a person will make in his/her life that directs all that will follow. If you are REALLY lucky, you get 4-5 decisions, but usually not. For those of us of sound body and mind, luck has little to do with the course of our lives; how you act on those 2-3 significant decisions is what makes the difference. On those decisions, one bad choice creates your history.

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller December 7, 2011 | 2:55 p.m.

Jonathon--Your assumption that the richest one percent were born into their wealth without having to work to earn it is tragically naive--symptomatic of the misguided participants in the occupy movement.

Further, your notion that the rich should pool their resources intelligently to improve our infrastructure, health care, eduucation, etc "because they have the means" parrots the Marxist "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" that I described earlier.

In our free society, we enjoy the opportunity to succeed; nevertheless, we also have the right to fail,

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro December 7, 2011 | 4:02 p.m.

("Why does capitalism work best? Capitalism works best because it is the only social and economic system that aligns itself with the combined human spirits of achievement, ambition, self-improvement, individualism, self-esteem, and initiative.

Capitalism is not perfect, by any means. No system made up of imperfect human beings has been, nor can be. However, capitalism comes closest in bringing out the best in society because it appeals to our highest ideals of individual rights which come in the form of economic freedom.")
SOURCE & MORE:
http://www.myfreedompost.com/2009/06/why...

("Never lose sight of the close connection

between the private fortune of each

and the prosperity of all.")
- Alexis de Tocqueville

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 7, 2011 | 4:08 p.m.

Karl Miller:

It's just as tragically naive to believe, as you apparently do, that all rich people out there epitomize the classic rags-to-riches story of the American dream. All these people you treat as modern-day Andrew Carnegies started out with a lot more opportunities than most people, and their success is largely a matter of being the right type of person, at the right place, at the right time.

Jimmy Bearfield:

It's pretty amusing how you (along with so many other people) seem to think that the rich have nothing to gain from investing in America's future, and thus shouldn't help provide more opportunities for the rest of Americans out there.

Where do you think Boeing will get its next batch of engineers, physicists, etc.? The way things are going, they'll be importing them from abroad, because American education is lagging behind the rest of the developed world and the gap keeps widening. Last I checked, our high school kids perform in math and science at an alarmingly average level--about as well as kids in great countries such as Kazakhstan. Even our "gifted" students are pretty terrible compared to the average students in places like China, Japan, most of Western Europe, etc. So, would you rather have a workforce full of incompetent, illiterate yahoos unable to contribute anything beyond manual labor (assuming there's even a need for manual labor in the future), or would you rather have well-trained, well-educated individuals ready to apply their skills in a variety of situations to help solve our future problems?

The way you're talking, it seems that the rich are better off having $2B in a country such as the first I described versus $1B in the second, which makes no sense whatsoever. How many of the bums you so despise would have been productive members of society if all the doors hadn't been boarded up from the start?

Everyone else (because your responses were along the same vein):

We don't choose our genetics or our upbringing, and those two things alone largely determine the type of people we become. Also, decisions don't trump luck, contrary to what is being claimed here, because our ability to make good decisions in itself is based on luck. How much credit do you deserve for being born "of sound body and mind"?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 7, 2011 | 4:31 p.m.

Jonathan says, "We don't choose our genetics or our upbringing, and those two things alone largely determine the type of people we become. Also, decisions don't trump luck, contrary to what is being claimed here, because our ability to make good decisions in itself is based on luck. How much credit do you deserve for being born "of sound body and mind"?"
________________________

First, I'm careful to note that my conclusions are based upon being of "sound body and mind". I'm well aware there are folks who are not, and they indeed do need help. My conclusions/thoughts about self-determination do not apply to those who are infirm.

I find myself being in the odd place of believing more in you and your DNA than you do.

Our ability to make good choices on those 2-3 REALLY important decisions we get in life is mainly based upon all those little bitty decisions we make each and every day. If you are sloppy in your decision making and do not practice daily use of those actions/strategies required by society to "make it" in this world, then you will flunk those critical decisions.

You strike me as someone "youngish", perhaps 30 or less. If so, then you have about 25 years to get things back on track...add or subtract years using 30 as a set point.

Because after 55, if you ain't well down the track...you're toast, and about to experience significant hardship.

Sympathy will be in short supply.

PS: Anyone of sound mind and body using their DNA as a backup excuse is saying to all of us that they cannot be salvaged, that they are beyond self-help and hope. Such an attitude is the penultimate "I give up" approach to life. I simply cannot and will not accept that, and I will not support such a position in any way, form, or fashion....politically, financially, or any other -ly.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 7, 2011 | 5:17 p.m.

Jonathan, as Corey pointed out in today's school bond thread: "And once again we see that the local school board is blind to the fact that places like Detroit and New Jersey and the likes spend upwards of 15k a student and have some of the most expensive school systems yet the kids performances keep dropping. I wonder how America even made to where we are now with the under funded school systems of the early 1900's."

The issue isn't that CPS schools are underfunded. The issue is that too many students and parents don't value education. That forces the rest of us to pay more (e.g., remedial courses and hand-holding, welfare) to make up for their laziness and irresponsibility. Forty percent of TANF recipients didn't finish high school. Good grief!

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 7, 2011 | 5:39 p.m.

Jonathan H. - Your thinking is flawed as evidenced by everyone having addressed you here. Your ideas have been proven flawed and though you may believe you are somewhat unique, it should be noted, they are not new. Folks, ever since K. Marx first devised the method of extracting wealth from government under the guise of a concern for "huddled masses" of people, have spewed the same rhetoric as you do here. Marx named this scam "socialism". A lot of words were traded over your concern for some people's luck. D Rep. Richard Gephardt in a Presidential race referred to our wealthy ( mostly hard working whom have earned it legally themselves, as opposed to your erroneous accusations) as those "having been lucky in life's lottery". This should be one of your favorites. I think this quote was from more the 20 years ago, I don't recall any of your thoughts entailing any fact from that far back. You must be allowed to whine at the moon as often as you wish. Our task is just to attempt to keep those of your ilk out of our governmentS, by the buttons we push or squares we darken at the polls.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 7, 2011 | 5:54 p.m.

I'll respond to your post, Michael, but first I thought I'd pose once again a question I asked Karl Miller a while back, which unfortunately went unnoticed after the flood of subsequent posts. I think it's a pretty important question too, so you're more than welcome to answer, as well as anyone else opposed to "entitlements" and the "welfare state" evidently demanded by the OWS movement:

Would you be OK with the country's income landscape if there existed a single trillionaire out there and 60% of the population lived below the poverty line? Would he have made good choices while the 60% bad ones? Would he have earned his wealth and everyone else deserved their misfortune?

And let's note here that, as silly as that hypothetical might sound to you, this is a more plausible scenario than most people would think. People don't tend to be very imaginative when it comes to future breakthroughs in technology, however it's entirely possible that someone will come up with truly revolutionary technology and effectively render humans useless in the workplace. Our continued breakthroughs in automation and artificial intelligence could indeed one day produce entirely self-sufficient machines that will leave most people jobless. If such a thing were to happen, whoever is holding the patents on such technology will probably become wealthier than anyone can imagine, meanwhile the rest of the population will be left with nothing.

According to the anti-entitlement/welfare/redistribution camp, this guy did something amazing and should be duly rewarded, irrespective of what happens to everyone else. I agree that his accomplishment would be amazing, but this wouldn't change the fact that there are now millions of people out there without a job and in need of some form of income in order to survive. So, what then?

(I guess it's possible that by then we could have come up with an unlimited source of 100% clean energy and an unlimited food source as well, but I'm inclined to think that research in this respect isn't as evolved or well-funded as in the fields of computing, robotics, automation, etc.).

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 7, 2011 | 5:56 p.m.

p.s. Despite my best efforts, I've been a verbose person for as long as I can remember. My apologies if you all fall asleep trying to read my posts, heheh.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 7, 2011 | 6:14 p.m.

Jonathan says, "I'll respond to your post, Michael, but first I thought........."
______________________

But, you didn't.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 7, 2011 | 6:36 p.m.

Jimmy:

The US spends exorbitant amounts of money on education, and obviously with terrible results. I guess I should have clarified, but I didn't mean to suggest that the solution to this problem is to keep dumping more money into a failing system.

The key is to spend the money intelligently, and once again, this could be accomplished rather easily if the wealthy got together, pooled their resources, and got to work. Why would they be able to do this easily? Because unlike the government, they could focus on this one problem and work it hard, unencumbered by partisan politics, lobbyists, pork barrel spending, corporate interests, etc.

"Pssst, I'll give you a few hundred thousand if you add these couple of lines to your education overhaul proposal."
"Well, I have billions already, so no thanks."

Plus, we don't even need to be that ambitious to begin with. Like I said a while back, just fixing our roads and bridges would save the American taxpayers billions of dollars a year. It wouldn't cost much to do, and it would free up all that money to be used elsewhere. To put it in a language more agreeable to the anti-OWS crowds, with good roads, the freloading leeches would have one less excuse to continue milking the system with impunity, or whatever.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 7, 2011 | 6:38 p.m.

Michael:

I'm now trying to respond to a couple of people at least, on top of the fact that I'm verbose and also obsessive about proofreading (although not very good at it).

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 7, 2011 | 7:29 p.m.

Michael:

It took me a while to pick up the jab there; oh well.

Anyway, I'd like to know where you got this idea that life centers around 2 or 3 "important" decisions--although I'm pretty sure I already know the answer, i.e. some combination of personal experience and anecdotal evidence. Well, it turns out that life really isn't this neat little polynomial that we can just factor and simplify, despite what you've been led to believe.

For one, the future is unknowable--and hopefully you know what I mean by this and won't try to use the 50-50 probability of a coin toss thinking it's a good rebuttal. So, unless you happen to disagree and actually believe we can indeed predict our futures (in which case I'd like for you to prove it, obviously), there's no way for us to even tell what those important decisions are until after we've made them. Similarly, we have no idea whether an idea will have been good or bad until we have the benefit of hindsight. To some people, dropping out of college turned out to be the best decision they ever made, while other people did all the right things, played by the book, and still ended up losing everything.

You have no idea what it takes to "make it" in this world, even if you may have "made it" in whatever little corner of the world you're familiar with. What worked for you may not work for someone else, what worked for you now may not work for you then, and what worked for you here may not work for you there.

And don't spend too much time "believing" in me either, because I believe in myself enough already. The difference is that I'm comfortable acknowledging that life could have dealt me a very different hand. If I hadn't been born to good, college-educated parents and instead had to dodge bullets as a kid trying to score some crack for my mom, I'd be a very different person today. How much credit do I deserve for my non-crack-addicted, non-broke, non-illiterate parents?

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 7, 2011 | 7:36 p.m.

And to return the jab just because I can: "Penultimate" means "second-to-last," not "uber-ultimate."

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle December 7, 2011 | 7:41 p.m.

Jonathan H.,

Your patience and decision to stick with rational argumentation is admirable. I don't think I'd have the wherewithal to maintain that composure were I presented with the insulting remarks that are being directed towards you in this thread.
.
Yes, and it's profoundly dismaying to see the author of the editorial, Col. Miller, piling in. One would hope that a contributor to the paper such as he would be more interested in *elevating* the discourse here, than in launching (inaccurate) claims that you must be some kind of starry-eyed Marxist for daring (gasp) to question his insulting and uninformed dismissal of the OWS folks. Hell, I'm a good old fashioned lefty secularist, but I don't *dismiss* the anti-abortion crowd--they're expressing something very important to them, and I respect their *right* to do that, and moreover, respect the sincere *beliefs* from which most of them operate.
.
It's a pity that our editorialist cannot accord that same respect to the OWSers, regardless of whether or not he shares their beliefs. He might start by accepting that those beliefs are sincerely held by most of them, and are not simply expressions of playtime, nostalgia, etc. If he and others of his (FC's word) "ilk" could do that, the tone of political dialogue in this country would be a lot healthier and more productive.
.
In any case, thank you for offering an example of rational-debate-without-insult.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 7, 2011 | 8:50 p.m.

Jonathan: You're right. I misused the word.

My discussion on the number of REALLY important life-decisions is based upon experience. I'm 62, I've been a teacher, a chemist, an employer, and employee, and a dad. I've viewed the lives of thousands of people, old and young. I'm quite confident in my assessment that the direction of a person's life is mainly dictated by 2-3 REALLY important decisions.

Those decisions are individualized. Mine are different than yours; each person has his/her own. You are quite correct, though, that these decisions may not be understood until later. They are the culmination of thousands of daily/hourly decisions that a person makes leading up to those pivotal moments. Best to develop good habits as early as possible and improve the decision-making process before the big ones hit.

I'm unsure to what jab you are referring.

Yes, I do have a good idea what it takes to "make it" in this world. But, 'tis true, it depends upon the definition of "make it", doesn't it? I have absolutely no problem if a person sets their "make it" bar at ANY level, is quite happy, and recognizes they are the one who controlled the bar. But, I have a little sympathy with someone who sets the bar low, then wakes up 55 years old with an "I was victimized!" chip on their shoulder.

Since we are talking about wealth and finances, let's talk about "making it" in that context. "Making it" means delayed gratification, paying attention in high school, knowing an asset from a hole in the ground, understanding "interest" and financing, choosing a mentor in your job who will drag your rear end up the ladder, being a mentor in your job to the person who will take your place, being on-time, choosing a career you enjoy AND is in demand, having a 2,4, and 8 year plan, paying yourself first each month (even 5 bucks), not buying crap you neither need nor can afford, building a 4 month nest of cash, finding the right partner for mutual support, understanding risk, and not buying a cool car just because you look good in it. There's lots more, but you get the picture.

Oh, and one more thing: Making some crappy decisions and learning from them.

So, yeah...I know exactly what it takes to "make it" financially in this world.

As for credit for not having a crack momma, if you are 20+, you've had ample opportunity to take a good look at the folks who surround you. You've had ample opportunity to see who is making good decisions and bad decisions. You've had ample opportunity to learn ethics which work and ethics which don't work. Since I'm confident in your DNA, the bad influence of all those who came before this date is hereby absolved, and yer on yer own from here on.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 7, 2011 | 9:08 p.m.

"Would you be OK with the country's income landscape if there existed a single trillionaire out there and 60% of the population lived below the poverty line?"

What if that trillionare were not a person, but a government?

"The key is to spend the money intelligently, and once again, this could be accomplished rather easily if the wealthy got together, pooled their resources, and got to work. Why would they be able to do this easily? Because unlike the government, they could focus on this one problem and work it hard, unencumbered by partisan politics, lobbyists, pork barrel spending, corporate interests, etc."

No, they wouldn't be able to do it easily – or possibly even at all – because the government and some citizens would balk at proposals such as permanently expelling chronic troublemakers or fining parents who refuse to show up for parent-teacher meetings.

Note that Bill Gates and other wealthy would-be reformers are very careful about how they provide money to schools. For example, they carefully vet schools and then fund only certain things rather than just dumping money across the board and hoping it works. They also don't just write checks to state or federal education departments. Why? Probably because they believe they can spend their money more effectively than a government can.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 7, 2011 | 10:38 p.m.

"The GOP's Crackpot Agenda," from The Rolling Stone:

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/new...

I love a good rollicking anti-GOP political rant every now and then. Go ahead, get busy picking all that apart guys.

(Report Comment)
Vega Bond December 7, 2011 | 11:01 p.m.

After reading the profound comments here that are written by people who never were and never will be the one percent that they vigorously defend - the temporarily embarrassed billionaires who know so much better than I - I rather like that Mr. Miller thinks that we are a nuisance. It brightens an otherwise dreary winter day. Particularly I enjoy all the strawman imagery - the lazy failures who are looking to loot the pockets of the responsible. Maybe he should send them to Iraq. Oh wait, I wasn't supposed to say that.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 8, 2011 | 1:09 a.m.

Michael:

I know that the usual argument is age = experience = knowledge, especially if it's a discussion between someone "old" and someone "young." But even in my "youth," I've experienced things you haven't (I was actually born and raised in South America). I'm sure that someone with your age and experience has also seen things I've never even dreamed of, but then again, I never claimed otherwise. (and this isn't a stab at your age)

Now, I could use my upbringing to claim that I know what "real" poverty is vs. "fake” poverty in the US, but this isn't true. I've never been poor myself, neither here nor there. Furthermore, I'm a white guy, comparatively tall and decent-looking, and I was born a US citizen simply because of my mom. My next-door neighbors--in fact virtually everyone in my neighborhood--was short and dark, and a lot of them never learned to read. We were good friends with them, were invited to their weddings, birthdays, etc., but I still don't know what it's like to be a short, brown, poor person in a city where classism and racism reign supreme--and I lived in that neighborhood for years. My skin color alone made me "better" than them, since I didn't have to worry about getting kicked out of restaurants for being too dark.

So, to reiterate: It certainly sounds like you've made it, and it sounds like you've met a lot of people, but even then, all you've seen is a tiny cross-section of what's out there. What you know about all the people you've met is itself a tiny cross-section of who they are, in fact. Even as a teacher/employer, to them you were still just a teacher/employer and they acted accordingly around you. You weren't someone to whom they'd reveal their innermost desires or anything, so whatever insight you might've gained about them is minimal at best.

Also, as far as your definition of "making it" goes, that's once again a simple formula that ignores the reality of most people. I don't remember the exact figure, but something like 60% of college graduates never use their degrees. That to me says pretty clearly that society's generic formula for success isn't as great as it sounds, but you're welcome to draw your own conclusions. So, no, you don't know what it takes to "make it" in this world. You know what it took to make it in your world, but alas, no one else lives in your world. The broad strokes can give you an educated guess as to who that person might be, but in the game of life, the tiniest differences matter.

Finally, yes, I have had ample opportunity to do all the things you've mentioned, but not everyone has these opportunities. We can watch a few shows on Nat Geo or Discovery and think we have the world figured out, but none of this tells us what it's actually like to be the son of a crackhead in the projects, or a white boy in South America, or a 62-year-old father/chemist/teacher/employee/employer, until we've been there ourselves.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 8, 2011 | 1:10 a.m.

FYI, that to me was a pretty abrupt-sounding response, but I had to cut out a lot of stuff to meet the character limit. Sorry if I sounded overly arrogant or dismissive.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 8, 2011 | 5:21 a.m.

@ J. Karl Miller:

An interesting political cartoon by Matt Davies of Tribune Media Services appeared last week. I've been meaning to mention it before this but kept forgetting (due no doubt to terminal senility).

Shown as an archetypal recruiting poster is a rather ugly-looking Uncle Sam, wearing a large, political campaign-style button that ways "Polarization."

The cartoon caption reads as follows: I WANT THAT OTHER GUY TO MAKE A FINANCIAL SACRIFICE FOR OUR COUNTRY.

[On a related topic, I post under my REAL name. I suggest that those who do not should have what they have to say given the same relevance as the "mammary glands" present on a male boar hog.]

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking December 8, 2011 | 8:25 a.m.

Jonathan Hopfenblatt wrote:
"I don't remember the exact figure, but something like 60% of college graduates never use their degrees."
If correct, to me, that is a reflection of the worth of a college degree. That number would make me think hard about going into debt to get one, and if I did, I'd be very careful to pick a field where there were good prospects for work (and there are lots - they're just not popular because they're often difficult).
The middle class is "disappearing" because the material expectations of many have grown, not because their income has significantly declined. What we consider middle class now would be considered upper middle to lower rich 30 or 40 years ago. Gadgetry, personal mobility (e. g., a car for everyone over 16), and eating out have been a tremendous drain on the average middle class family. Once they learn that you don't really need most of that stuff (until you can afford it without going into significant debt), it becomes much simpler to "make it".

Most people in the US "make it". They may not "make it" to their expectations, but they certainly have enough to live comfortably, and are better off than 95+ percent of people worldwide. Additionally, most of them "make it" regardless of whether there is a "1%" or not. In fact, countries that make it hard on their "1%" are typically poor countries, for everybody in them.

Having realisitc expectations, and an unjaded view, will go a lot farther toward making a decent life than railing at some ill-defined "1%" and demanding they do something about it. Making good choices, planning for the future (and a rainy day), and especially practicing deferred gratification work as well now as they ever did. It's just more difficult, in our consumerist culture, to do that.

DK

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 8, 2011 | 9:48 a.m.

"Your patience and decision to stick with rational argumentation is admirable."

To demean entrepreneurs and businessmen as a group while announcing that the patent on an invention earns the inventor great wealth while others are "left with nothing".

To write that our roads and bridges cannot be fixed because our government is broke, ignoring the fact that our roads and bridges are being fixed quite nicely when those concerned with roads and bridges can wrestle funds from the multitude of duplicate social programs foisted on the people.

To write that we wouldn't need criminal laws if all would act like (in his reality) they should.

To write that the "wealthy" (an elite club in which membership is permanent and spends it's time bilking he "poor" whose membership is also permanent, in his mind) should get together, pool resources and "get to work" on our educational system.

None of these posts represent "rational argumentation" in my view, but I'm open minded enough to realize that an "good old fashioned lefty secularist", probably would. Illustrating my opinion that little if anything JH has sprayed on us is really new.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 8, 2011 | 10:19 a.m.

Jonathan says, "...You know what it took to make it in your world, but alas, no one else lives in your world."
___________________

Yes, they do. About 300 million of them.

With a few notable exceptions, you simply cannot "make it" financially in this world unless you practice the strategies I noted above.

Society simply will not permit it. Doors will be closed to you, and I'm not just talking about employment doors.

The exceptions? Some sort of incredible physical or mental gift that places your skills in such high demand than you can command much money while remaining a spendthrift. Carrying a football, dunking a basketball, acting, singing, and the like come to mind.

Some folks would say I "made it", I suppose. I'm certainly comfortable and relatively immune to financial struggles for the rest of my life. It took a long time to get there, it was difficult, and I didn't get quite where I wanted.

I'm unsympathetic to the argument that I cannot "know" another's life without walking in their exact shoes. I've shared the lives of thousands of people, from all walks of life and backgrounds, observing them in their daily activities and behaviors and actions. I've seen the results of good and bad ethical decisions. My powers of observation are quite intact and I can form and test hypotheses as well as anyone else. For "knowing" things, you don't have anything against the scientific method, do you?
____________________

On another note, I'm confident we have a few folks posting here that are NOT the person they say they are.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 8, 2011 | 10:27 a.m.

Speaking of special gifts, here's part of the 1% you never hear about from the Occupiers:

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/...

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub December 8, 2011 | 11:08 a.m.

Good job Jonathon! You jumped into the lion's den with truth in your convictions against the old hungry lions who apparently are incapable of having a real thought on their own and believe that regurgitating the talking points given to them by their heartless mentors who would just as easily throw them to the wolves as not, is the right action. There is a disparity and it has the backing of the government and corporate media. The internet has given the one thing the controllers hate almost as much as giving back some of the wealth they have stolen from the backs of the truly hard workers, without which they could not exist...knowledge. These people feel they have made their own destiny and are somehow in possession of the truth, and any thing else is heresy. They divide everything around them and condemn anybody who questions that pure capitalism is the one and only way, unable to grasp the truth that it is nothing less then a gigantic Ponzi scheme. Never considering where the wealth came from, like if you work really really hard a money tree will sprout in your back yard. They lament the times where worker's didn't have to be paid, or when they did they were only able to spend it at the company store. They see history by wars, and not the constant struggle the average person must endure while serving those that found ways to take what little they have. And, yes they do believe the earth is flat.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 8, 2011 | 11:19 a.m.

Mark Foecking:

I shill for two public institutions of higher learning: one in Missouri and one in Colorado. I am very aware of the situation that for certain majors we need more students.

You'd think a campus where enrollment is capped would not need to recruit*, starting as far down as middle school, but the campus in question as well as similar campuses across the country do just that.

The reason is simple: there is a very limited number of high school graduates in the United States mentally and academically prepared to study engineering, physics, chemistry, biology and related majors: either we enroll them or others will.

One of my favorite experiences was talking with HS students in another state and having one of them say, "But engineering is HARD!" It was the tone of voice: there was almost a sense of terrible mental anguish!

I don't need to tell you that there are a number of majors that are "HARD." Life is sometimes "HARD."

*- We recruited when we weren't capped. This is more than a "numbers" game: we and our competitors want to get the best STUDENTS we can, not just to fill up a campus.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 8, 2011 | 12:56 p.m.

Gary Straub: Nice, flowery prose supporting the bastion of a core group facing outwards against the forces of evil...but you said very little. Perhaps you could make some money writing and publishing a manifesto?

Capitalistic job creation at its finest....who knows, you might even get wealthy selling it to occupybooks.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 8, 2011 | 1:00 p.m.

Ellis says, "...One of my favorite experiences was talking with HS students in another state and having one of them say, "But engineering is HARD!"
______________________

Yeah, I've had students ask (with great incredulity) if they had to "know" the stuff I was presenting.

The urge to respond with great sarcasm is substantial, but I manage not to. I'm unsure if my eyes roll, however.

(Report Comment)
Christopher Foote December 8, 2011 | 1:24 p.m.

If one is to criticize the OWS movement legitimately, it would be much more convincing to oppose their strongest agument, as opposed to railing against the extermist views espoused by fringe elements or simply inventing a position. An example of the latter was posted above:
"... 1, Who gets to decide how much wealth an individual may possess and: 2, Who assumes the task of redistribution of that wealth?"
I am unaware of anyone espousing the view that there should be a ceiling on one's wealth.
The OWS's strongest argument is I think best encapsulated in a speech given 100 years ago by one of the country's more impressive presidents:

"The essence of any struggle for healthy liberty has always been, and must always be, to take from some one man or class of men the right to enjoy power, or wealth, or position, or immunity, which has not been earned by service to his or their fellows. ... We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used. It is not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community."

I'd be interested in hearing comments on why Teddy's statement (and the view held by most of the OWS movement) is ill conceived. In essence they want to limit the ability of the powerful to use their positions to accumulate great sums of wealth at society's expense.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 8, 2011 | 1:31 p.m.

Since the Occupy movement has started, official unemployment figures have hit a 2-1/2 year low, new unemployment claims have hit a 9-month low, and new hiring is the best since August 2008.

If the Occupy movement a nuisance, they are the most effective, positive nuisance our economy has seen since the financial industry crashed our economy.

Just sayin'...

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro December 8, 2011 | 1:53 p.m.

Doctors and lawyers are "one percenters":
http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/t...

Politicians who are "one percenters":
http://thedaleygator.wordpress.com/2011/...

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 8, 2011 | 2:04 p.m.

Chris wants input on, "The essence of any struggle for healthy liberty has always been, and must always be, to take from some one man or class of men the right to enjoy power, or wealth, or position, or immunity, which has not been earned by service to his or their fellows. ... "
________________________

Because ALL of the words I hear from the OWS and sympathetic progressives (and posters herein) cling to the following if/then statements:

(1) If he's rich, then he did NOT earn it by service to his or their fellows.

(2) If he's rich, then he did it on the backs of others.

You can look it up.

Being wealthy is automatically a degraded thing unless, of course, you are of the "good rich" persuasion where you are rich, but pay lip-service sympathy to those who are not while laughing all the way to the bank. Quite unseemly and not believable. If OWS was REALLY concerned about the things you say they are, then Michael Moore, any Kennedy, Oprah, and T. Heinz would be unwelcome at your camps.

There is too much inconsistency between OWS defenses versus what I see with my own lyin' eyes. I can't take the "movement" seriously.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 8, 2011 | 2:08 p.m.

Derrick: You left out one number.

The number of people who gave up hit a new high.

300+K just recently.

You've equated correlation with cause-effect with no supporting data. Are you setting up a "OWS saved us!" mantra? Or, are you just entertaining yourself?

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 8, 2011 | 2:22 p.m.

Chris, trying to finesse us into belief that occupy has a position on something, asks us to look back to a speech from the #1 progressive of that day:

"Roosevelt and his supporters refused to acquiesce, though, and decided to create an alternative: the Progressive, or Bull Moose, Party. At its own convention - two months later, in August, also in Chicago - the Progressives nominated Roosevelt as the party's candidate for President."

DF, as usual, pulls whatever thin thread he can grasp and points to a slight dip in the disastrous numbers we have lived with for 3 years while our debt has been increased by 5T$. If I were such a propagandist, I would suggest that enough occupiers had listened to the criticism foisted on them, had folded tents and secured a job and unemployment has thus dipped?

Neither has ever provided concise proof of a position on anything favored by those of this "movement". Chris, in fact,in their defense criticizes those opposing the movement for asking his questions #'s 1 & 2, then recites a speech which Begs the same question, "Who gets to decide?" The speech from "100 years ago" proves that nothing has changed with these people. The search for reason continues!

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 8, 2011 | 2:33 p.m.

I've already answered that question, and I laugh at the inaccuracy of your absolutist statements. It makes me wonder how much of a filter / pre-shaped container you're putting your information through, and into. Those assertions certainly hold some truth - that *is* what some protesters are saying - but they are absolutely not entirely true.

Remember, my central position as a sometimes protester and supporter of the Occupy movement is that inequality is not inherently wrong, or bad, but that there are limits to it, and we have reached those limits to the point where it is damaging the US economy. My only request of the .1% in the US is that they use their wealth to invest domestically in the US and it's citizens.

If that's too much to ask, too bad, I'm asking it anyway. Doing anything less amounts to eating one's own seed corn, or perhaps acting out the fable of the goose that laid the golden egg. And yes, I'm aware those cut both ways. Who else is aware of that?

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 8, 2011 | 2:45 p.m.

@Jonathan
The tax figures show exactly what you want if you actually stop and pay attention.
The richest 1 percent of the people only earn 17 percent of the money, but pay 37 percent of the taxes. If they were not paying more than their share (BY DOUBLE), then they would pay 17 percent of the taxes on the 17 percent they make. BUT, they pay 37 percent of the taxes on the 17 percent they make.

For this, I am thankful.

For this, you not only take it for granted that someone else is paying more than you, you demand more under an expectation of entitlement.

If you are given a chance at success, you say not good enough. I don't want a chance to succeed. I want success handed over to me by someone else that has done the work necessary for success. Why should I have to go out there and compete. That would be haaaarrrrrrdddddd (read in best whiney voice...)

Blame your parents if you think your lot in this Country is set at birth and you might as well not even try.

Blame your parents if you think you can take the easy way out at every intersection in life and still end up with everything you want.

Blame your parents if you think someone else should give you what they have earned because they have earned more.

Hey, at least I am appealing to your liberal way of thinking by giving you someone else to blame for your misfortunes.

I could have said look in the mirror. For within the magical mirror you will see the answer to everything. You will see who is responsible for who you are today and who you will become tomorrow.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 8, 2011 | 3:36 p.m.

"My only request of the .1% in the US is that they use their wealth to invest domestically in the US and it's citizens.

If that's too much to ask, too bad, I'm asking it anyway."

Talking about "barking at the moon". No ones "request" (Obama included) is going to do anything in regard bringing US money back to us. If you were sincere here you would be compiling numbers to show that to invest is to expect a profit and that that expectation has drastically reduced in this country by the unfavorable atmosphere for business created by cumbersome regulation, borrowing, spending, cries for more taxation etc. Then work to remove those in our government whom have created the atmosphere and are fomenting it. It'll Never happen.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 8, 2011 | 3:50 p.m.

I wrote this recently in regard to business investment/unemployment in another post. I still don't know how to paste the graph Ryan showed.

"Rep Paul Ryan, FOX Business, talking to J. Stossel, last night showed a graph relating business investment to unemployment. Once while fishing in FL bay back country in Keys, a bank of angry looking rain clouds moved in to the sunny miles of perfectly calm, shallow water. In the mirror of the water the whole sky full of clouds was reflected, up side down. Ryan's chart was nearly the same. When the line of investment in business went up, the line of unemployment went down, less. When the investment line went down, the unemployment line went up, more, almost like a reflection. One Party has caused the Investment line to plunge, Democrats."

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 8, 2011 | 4:47 p.m.

mike mentor:

You're talking about how unfair it is for the top 1% to be paying 37% of our taxes, ignoring the fact that these billionaires could give away 90+% of their income and still have more than any of us ever will. And it's somewhat strange that you used the word "only" in characterizing their income (as in, the 1% "only" earn 17% of the entire country's income). Yes, we should feel sorry for the one guy out in a group of 100 who has nearly one fifth of all the money in the room. Really?

You also seem to have forgotten how good the rich have it now compared to any point in the past. In the 40's and 50's the tax rate on the rich was ~90%, then it stayed around 70% until the early 80's, when Reagan got elected, after which it started dropping precipitously to the comparatively minuscule tax rates of today.

Furthermore, you seem to be under the false impression that high taxes would completely derail progress and dissuade creative, driven people from accomplishing their goals. What, were there no entrepreneurs and investors in the 40's and 50's? "Ah crap, I'm gonna stop trying to get rich now, because I don't wanna give 90% of my income to the government. Let's just close down the business and go home, everyone."

Do you think Bill Gates would prefer to have his money in the US, taxed at 50%, or in Somalia, taxed at 5%? (numbers are made up). He might like the prospects of paying such low taxes, but he would have never made $50B in Somalia in the first place, nowhere near it. Kinda tough to get the ball rolling on a worldwide tech conglomerate when everyone around you lives in absolute squalor and barely knows how to read. You're not gonna find very many talented software developers in Somalia, much less get anyone to buy your product.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 8, 2011 | 4:57 p.m.

frank christian:

You don't have to paste the graph, but you can provide a link to it, along with links to their source of the numbers contained therein. Contrary to popular perception, news networks today aren't interested in reporting truth so much as in expressing opinions and spreading sensationalism (that's what reels in the viewers, after all).

Plus, this wouldn't be the first time FOX has been caught spreading lies and misinformation: $20B-a-day presidential tour around Europe, anyone? Complete with an armada's worth of battleships and aircraft carriers? Oh yeah, they got that from some blogger in India, if I remember correctly. Top-notch journalism and fact-checking indeed.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 8, 2011 | 5:22 p.m.

Jonathan: No one paid 90%. There were too many ways not to.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 8, 2011 | 5:28 p.m.

Proof that occupiers behave no better than rats: http://io9.com/5866411/rats-will-aid-the...

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 8, 2011 | 5:32 p.m.

Michael: This is true today as well. CEOs with a salary of $1 and all, moving their money around so as to get the least taken out in taxes.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 8, 2011 | 5:38 p.m.

Jonathan: You made the point that a 90% top tax rate did not hurt economies, as if a sane person would REALLY put max effort while retaining only 10 cents on the dollar. I made the point that no one paid 90% because no one is that insane and the loopholes were wide.

Personally, I decided I had enuf 10 years ago when my overall tax rate hit 50%. Nope, no expansion and hiring of new employees....not for only 50 cents on the dollar. Closed it and retired at age 52. Been a drag on the economy ever since.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 8, 2011 | 5:58 p.m.

Michael: Regardless, the 90% tax rate, even if only "on paper," did not stop entrepreneurs and investors from getting things done.

Also, 50% out of your pocket IS a lot, because this could have made the difference between being able to pay your mortgage, your employees, etc., or not being able to. 50% of a billion, on the other hand, still leaves you with enough money to own several homes all over the world, to keep well-paid live-in staff in each home, to travel between homes in your own private jet, etc. You would also still have enough to invest, and grow your company, and develop products, etc. People with a lot of money have the ability to make even more money pretty easily, simply because they can afford to take risks.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 8, 2011 | 6:20 p.m.

The burden of our current tax structure falls most heavily on people like Jimmy and the former businessman Michael. Jimmy pays the same tax rate as people who make, literally, 1,000 times more than he does, and he doesn't get the loopholes the 1,000X get, either. The 49% are the ones getting hammered here, and of those, it's mostly the 75%-99% that are getting the shaft.

That's why I think part of our tax rate should be indexed to the actual income curve in the US; it would shift the 'upper bracket' tax burden away from guys like Jimmy, and onto those with truly extraordinary income. It's also why I think business taxes should be indexed to a percentage of domestic payroll over gross receipts; Mike could have hired more workers and expanded, without his tax burden going up. Until he was personally taking, say, $50M/yr as personal income out of his business, his personal taxes would have been a small fraction of those with truly extraordinary income.

Instead, our current tax structure hits small businesses and the merely "well off" the hardest - high enough to be in the highest tax bracket, but not large enough to take advantage of special loopholes and other less burdensome tax structures.

My crackpot tax plans would change all that, spreading some of the tax burden across everyone more equally, but also putting the 'progressive' part of the tax structure squarely and completely on the very few with the truly extraordinary incomes and profit margins.

Just rat treats for thought...

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 8, 2011 | 6:31 p.m.

Jonathan H. - http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2...

"Plus, this wouldn't be the first time FOX has been caught spreading lies and misinformation." Please note, This is Rep. Paul Ryan chair of the House budget committee "spreading lies and misinformation.", not FOX, somehow try to grasp that fact! (I know it doesn't fit the agenda)Gone is your image of the bright young man only trying to apprise we all of the wrongs of capitalism. Yours is the image of a liberal political hack trying to keep the tax payer money flowing.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 8, 2011 | 6:40 p.m.

Here is more from me and the P. Ryan interview with Stossel.

"Ryan also said that his plan to balance the Federal Budget shows such a long time, (he believes it can be accomplished much sooner) because it had to be "scored" by CBO which will not (cannot) take into account any increases in revenue to Gov't created by activity from Tax Cuts. That liberals have gone to such lengths to try to show that tax cuts cost the gov't is appalling. We have lived since Ronald Reagan in the '80s hearing liberals and reading their "as a percentage of" graphs and charts condemn "tax cuts". They realize that if people's lives can be improved with smaller gov't and less taxation, they will no longer be needed."

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 8, 2011 | 7:25 p.m.

Jon,

Care to hazard a claim on just how much wealth a person should possess?

I'm curious.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 8, 2011 | 8:33 p.m.

Michael: I have no idea, because I never suggested that's what we should do.

All I've said is that wealth inequality in the US is a huge problem, that it's getting worse, and that the rich are no more entitled to their fortunes than anyone else. Also, since they're rich, they SHOULD cough up more money to fix things--a lot more than they're doing now. If they're unwilling to do it on their own, then taxation is the only other option.

Everyone crying bloody murder in defense of the super-rich is oblivious to reality, not to mention oblivious to the fact that they're defending these people while getting screwed themselves. And despite my tone, no, I don't think the rich are evil people or anything; I'm simply saying that the arguments in defense of the status quo are terrible and devoid of common sense.

The only reason money has any value is because it's a finite resource, therefore my gain is your loss and vice versa. These guys keep gaining, and gaining, and gaining, while everyone else is losing big time. Someone earlier brought up the fact that 1% of the population has 17% of the wealth; that's bad.

You do realize these guys don't actually HAVE to do anything with their money, right? They could close up shop, start growing their own fruits and vegetables, take themselves off the power grid by installing solar panels in their mansions, etc. Trickle-down economics are a sham. So, do you really think that the country is better off with 17% of the wealth gathering dust in the hands of a few? Is this your vision of a country headed in the right direction?

And I haven't heard an answer yet to what I asked a while back: What if the US had a single trillionaire somewhere and 60% of the population was legally broke? Would there be nothing wrong with that picture?

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 8, 2011 | 9:12 p.m.

Jonathan says...
the rich are no more entitled to their fortunes than anyone else.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Do you know how Un-American that sounds? You are not going to convince a bunch of middle age Americans that communism is the way to go. I never said anythying about feeling sorry for the rich. You said I said that. I said we should be grateful. You are busy trying to keep up with several folks and I admire your tenacity, but you have much to learn young padawan. (joke...)
I came from an age when we were tought from day one that you work for what you have. If someone helps you out, as in pays 37 percent of the tax burden with the 17 of the money earned, you thank them. You flat out accuse them of thievery. Just another product of the age of entitlement.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 8, 2011 | 9:17 p.m.

"All I've said is that wealth inequality in the US is a huge problem,"

"the rich are no more entitled to their fortunes than anyone else. Also, since they're rich, they SHOULD cough up more money to fix things--a lot more than they're doing now."

"Everyone crying bloody murder in defense of the super-rich is oblivious to reality, not to mention oblivious to the fact that they're defending these people while getting screwed themselves."

"These guys keep gaining, and gaining, and gaining, while everyone else is losing big time."

More sage information from the young guru J. Hopfenblatt.
His question,"What if the US had a single trillionaire somewhere and 60% of the population was legally broke?", might have been relevant in a socialist state such as the USSR, 2% rich, 10% middle class (technocrats that managed the country for the rich), everyone else poor. From Pravda, which explained that stocks, bonds, savings accounts were not accounted for, since no one in the big last classification Poor, possessed any of those instruments that could add to the total of ones wealth.

I think we need a break here. The word "silly" comes to mind

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 8, 2011 | 9:33 p.m.

Jonathan: I guess I'm not surprised you wouldn't hazard a guess. Not a single "progressive" has ever done so on these pages.

Which is somewhat surprising to me, since the entire progressive approach is to tax those with great wealth...without defining what that is. Perhaps progressives like to hide behind a "percentage", but of course that's easily translated into a dollar amount.

Or maybe you just know "too much wealth" when you see it.

Personally, I call it a form of intellectual dishonesty.

Why not throw out a value? What are progressives afraid of?

Commitment?

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 8, 2011 | 9:35 p.m.

Someone just reminded me of a great quote from Teddy R.

If you could kick the person responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 8, 2011 | 9:37 p.m.

I guess I'm not too worried about all this.

After all, 3 years into the Obama presidency, we've already had three progressive panic attacks: health care, global warming, and now wealth inequities.

Hell, y'all move around so much...and nothing happens...I'm beginning to think the only thing holdin' progressives together is a movement-of-the-year.

It's a "belonging" thingie.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 8, 2011 | 9:40 p.m.

Well, I just lost my second post in as many minutes on this site....flaky as all get-out. I'm tired of retyping it. I'll come back once the Missourian fixes the problem.

Later

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 9, 2011 | 2:14 a.m.

frank christian quoted: “We have lived since Ronald Reagan in the '80s hearing liberals and reading their "as a percentage of" graphs and charts condemn "tax cuts". “

It's pretty funny that a Republican would use this argument to criticize “liberal” logic, considering all the crying going on over the fact that the people who have 17% of the country's wealth pay 37% of the country's taxes. If presenting figures as percentages is just a way to obscure and twist the facts, let's look at the actual numbers: Someone with a billion dollars would pay $370M in taxes and still have $630M in the bank. Oh my, I sure hope he can afford rent next month, with his meager $630 million and all. Now look at the guy living on $9/hour who only pays 10% in taxes (that spoiled bastard). From making a whopping ~$19K a year, he now has ~$1.9K less. Hey, he probably lost a whole year's worth of groceries right there, or several months worth of rent, or a visit to the ER, or a few trips to the mechanic (whoa, why didn't he just buy a good car?), but yeah, he should thank the guy who still has only $630M left, because that guy was so selfless as to put his kids' college careers on the line in order to help his fellow Americans.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 9, 2011 | 2:23 a.m.

mike mentor said: “Do you know how Un-American that sounds?”

Do you know how un-human that sounds? Nevermind that the concept of a country is itself nonsense and only serves to feed the tribalist “us vs. them” mentality that has plagued mankind for so long (racism, homophobia, and religious barbarism say hi), the idea of a country is meaningless without people. Maybe you actually think that being born here is somehow an accomplishment, but that would be a weird thing to believe considering you never had a choice on the matter. Regardless, empty pseudo-patriotic catchphrases don't answer the question of why there are millions of people out there struggling to put food on the table in what's supposed to be the greatest arbitrary patch of geography on the planet.

“You are not going to convince a bunch of middle age Americans that communism is the way to go.”

Argumentum ad populum is a logical fallacy, as the validity of an argument does not depend on how many people support it. We've seen time and again that vast numbers of people can all be wrong, and it's no different here. Bad logic is bad logic, no matter how much muscle it's packing. The sensationalist reference to “communism” doesn't help your case either; that's just another vacuous catchphrase designed to avoid giving an answer.

“I came from an age when we were tought from day one that you work for what you have.”

Too bad that there's no correlation between what you have and how hard you worked for it. The coal miner in Colombia toiling day in and day out doesn't get paid more if he works harder and gets lung cancer faster, and I can almost guarantee you he's worked harder than you and I put together. Likewise, the spoiled brat who inherited his dad's millions didn't have to work nearly as hard (if at all) as the vast majority of the population, and yet he's already better off than all of them. The coal miner in Colombia works harder than I'll ever need to, and yet I already have more than he ever will. Is that fair?

“If someone helps you out, as in pays 37 percent of the tax burden with the 17 of the money earned, you thank them. You flat out accuse them of thievery. Just another product of the age of entitlement.“

Yeah, that homeless guy should treasure the quarter I just gave him. I mean, I don't really like spare change rattling around in my pockets anyway and he just happened to be there, but all the same, I should be commended for the generosity I displayed in giving him something that won't even buy him a stick of gum. I am now a quarter poorer too, and find myself having to balance my checkbook; that hobo better appreciate what I gave him.

And that analogy isn't even all that accurate, as the more appropriate one would involve me taking this guy's can of coins in his sleep and then giving him the quarter the next day, pretending to have done him a huge favor.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 9, 2011 | 2:25 a.m.

frank christian: “More sage information from the young guru J. Hopfenblatt.”

I find it interesting that attacks on my age seem to be on the rise the longer this discussion goes on. It almost reminds me of the usual “lol your spelling sucks therefore you lose” argument, as if has any bearing on the strength of an argument. If my arguments are laughably weak, you should have no trouble dismantling them.

“His question,"What if the US had a single trillionaire somewhere and 60% of the population was legally broke?", might have been relevant in a socialist state such as the USSR, 2% rich, 10% middle class (technocrats that managed the country for the rich), everyone else poor. From Pravda, which explained that stocks, bonds, savings accounts were not accounted for, since no one in the big last classification Poor, possessed any of those instruments that could add to the total of ones wealth.”

Too bad that all of this was an excuse in order not to answer the question—and I've already noticed that you don't like to provide counterarguments so much as merely express disagreement while mocking the other person with meaningless insults. If you think this is just a silly hypothetical, maybe I should remind you that there are ~400 billionaires in the US (413 per Wikipedia), and their total net worth is ~$1.5 trillion. Obviously there's a difference between income and net worth, but the numbers are interesting nonetheless:

413/~312M = ~1.32x10^-6, aka ~0.000132% of the US population is sitting on approximately $1.5 trillion. That makes total sense, and that's exactly how everyone in the world envisions utopia, right?

Once again: What would your opinion be if there was one trillionaire in the US and 60% of the population lived below the poverty line? I didn't think I'd have to goad people to get an answer, because I didn't think it was that tough a question. Maybe I was wrong?

p.s. Your dismissive pseudo-laughter would have a semblance of credibility if it was backed by actual arguments and not just more dismissive pseudo-laughter.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 9, 2011 | 2:35 a.m.

Michael Williams said : “I guess I'm not surprised you wouldn't hazard a guess. Not a single "progressive" has ever done so on these pages.”

Uh, I have no reason to hazard a guess since that was never my argument. In the logic circles this is known as a straw man. Maybe you would care to hazard a guess as to how high income inequality can climb before it's deemed unacceptable? (i.e. answer the question I've asked repeatedly?)

“Perhaps progressives like to hide behind a "percentage", but of course that's easily translated into a dollar amount.”

Once again I find myself amused by the disparaging remarks towards percentages, especially coming from the very person who said he shut down his business because a 50% tax on his business was too much. If your company made $30K a year and lost 50% of its revenue to taxes, I would have said “good call.” But, if your company made $1B a year and lost 50% to taxes, I wouldn't have been so inclined to feel sorry for you.

“Personally, I call it a form of intellectual dishonesty.”

Intellectual dishonesty is the straw man you're attacking in order to claim a false victory, but maybe that was just me assuming you were somewhat familiar with the nuances of logic after you claimed to have worked as a chemist—since logic and science go hand in hand and all. It doesn't take a genius to notice that expecting someone to defend an argument they never made is a pretty lame stunt to pull.

“Why not throw out a value? What are progressives afraid of?”

Because I never claimed that there should be a specific cutoff between “not enough,” “enough,” and “too much”? Like someone else mentioned, just owning a business probably put you in the same tax bracket as those whose wealth eclipsed yours by several orders of magnitude. Maybe we could start by realizing that tax brackets could use a little fine-tuning in order to make it clear that we understand what a thousandfold increase in income means and how it affects taxpayers. We could also look at figures such as cost of living, which could give us a pretty good sense of what's the minimum amount of wealth one should have in order not to die of starvation, as well as the wealth “ceiling” above which one could live anywhere in the country completely unburdened by financial concerns.

First you state that you just know what life is like for all 300+ million people in the US, then you state that you've found the sure-fire recipe for success, and now you seem to be under the false impression that (not) answering a contrived question with a specific number settles the issue. I mean, everyone seems to have taken a liking to making fun of my age, but so far I'm pretty unimpressed with the arguments presented by the self-proclaimed mature, knowledgeable competition. Life is not black and white.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking December 9, 2011 | 4:16 a.m.

Jonathan Hopfenblatt wrote:

"Also, since they're rich, they SHOULD cough up more money to fix things--a lot more than they're doing now. If they're unwilling to do it on their own, then taxation is the only other option."

Are the rich the best source of revenue to balance the budget? Yes - there's not enough money in the lower 50% to make any significant dent in the deeficit.

But here's the thing. Investors and companies are sitting on their cash because there's no reason for them to spend it in ways that would get us working more. If someone wants to invest in manufacturing, it makes far more sense to invest overseas, where costs of production are low. Municipal bonds have had increasing problems with default. Expanding businesses doesn't make sense without increased consumer confidence and demand for goods.

Rich people stay rich by spending their money wisely, and everyone can learn from that.

DK

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking December 9, 2011 | 4:34 a.m.

Jonathan Hopfenblatt wrote:

"Maybe you would care to hazard a guess as to how high income inequality can climb before it's deemed unacceptable?"

Generally politics will step in at that point and we'll get something similar to a French Revolution. However, income inequality isn't anywhere near those levels. Again, our average wages are the highest in the world.

The French Revolution happened because people were literally starving. That's not even remotely the case here today. Most people in this country are comfortable or better, and most of what economic problems they do have are the result of unwise spending (unwise priorities that put them at risk in the case of job loss or medical problems).

The homeless guy isn't typical AT ALL. The fact there are homeless people (and always have been) shows that some people don't do as well as others. And few of them are really victims of anything but their own choices.

Occupiers are actually the 1% (or less). Most people in this country do just fine, and are content with their lives.

DK

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking December 9, 2011 | 4:42 a.m.

Just an addendum to my comment above:

It's not the wealth of the top 1% that matters to the overall happiness of the nation. It's the wealth of the 99%. Even today, that wealth is sufficient to keep virtually everyone happy enough that they don't plot revolution. We complain a lot, but Americans are very bad at counting their blessings. We're still quite blessed - blessed enough to not do anything much but complain, and not very hard.

DK

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking December 9, 2011 | 4:46 a.m.

Michael Williams wrote:

"....who knows, you might even get wealthy selling it to occupybooks."

Well, I think it has to be sent to #occupybooks, and has to be 140 characters or less.

Not a lot of money in that, I'd say.

:-)

DK

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 9, 2011 | 5:11 a.m.

Anyone having such "passionate" and "learned" views on this subject should be willing to post them under his real name.

C'mon, Missourian, either enforce your rule or admit you are unable to do so.

Also, regarding the so-called "1 percent," there are two families here in Columbia who clearly ARE in that category (actually much more like 0.1 percent). So why aren't we seeing their domiciles peacefully picked? Do you "believers" need directions? Do you need transportation? Do you need a shot of "liquid courage"? All can be provided.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 9, 2011 | 8:18 a.m.

"That's why I think part of our tax rate should be indexed to the actual income curve in the US; it would shift the 'upper bracket' tax burden away from guys like Jimmy, and onto those with truly extraordinary income."

That would be about as effective as the AMT, which Congress created to target only a few hundred of the wealthiest. Now it hits people with incomes as low as $75K: www.taxpolicycenter.org/briefing-book/ke... In fact, 45% of those who make $75K-$100K will pay the AMT.

Why has Congress refused for decades to peg the AMT to inflation? Because it knows that the middle class is a large, key source of money, and it doesn't want to lose that cash cow.

So what's the solution for entrepreneurs such as Michael and me? Simple: If we don't make it, the government can't take it. I stopped putting in as much time and effort as I did in my 20s and 30s because I realized that the more work I did, the less I got to keep. It's the law of diminishing returns. Would you work over 40 hours if, instead of getting time and a half, your pay was cut to 90% or 80%? I'm in my 40s and will be coasting the rest of my life.

BTW, if enough of us don't make it, that means the government will have to take even more from those of you who argue for bigger government. Are you willing and able to put your money where your mouth is? Or did you secretly hope that when you said, "I'd be willing to pay higher taxes," it would actually be just "the rich" who are forced to do so?

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 9, 2011 | 8:24 a.m.

J. H. - I'm conservative first, then Republican. You start this particular perversion of the truth with, "Someone with a billion dollars". Someone who has Earned a billion dollars would be more appropriate but, of course does not fit your Marxist view of the world and the people in it.

I haven't read your complaint on my reference to your image as a "bright young man". Is it forthcoming?

To continually pose the trillionaire & 60% question as some earth shaking proof of something while accepting opinion as the answer, imo comes not from a "bright" person, rather one somewhat lacking in that trait.

You've apologized for your verbosity. I would submit that it inevitably takes more conversation for even the seasoned "con man" to sell his false position than does the submission of the simple truth.

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller December 9, 2011 | 9:20 a.m.

Thanks Ellis, the caption " I WANT THAT OTHER GUY TO MAKE A FINANCIAL SACRIFICE FOR OUR COUNTRY" would make a good rallying cry for the occupiers. And, I could not agree more with the notion that anyone who has not the courage of his/her convictions to post under one's own name is a waste of ink and space. I have often chided the "other Columbia newspaper" for its publishing letters marked "Name withheld on request." If one is afraid to run with the big dogs, it is best to stay under the porch.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 9, 2011 | 9:52 a.m.

Jonathan: Anyone who advocates taxing the "rich" needs to be ready, willing and able to define "rich".

With a value.

Otherwise, it's just all gas.
_________________

PS: Ellis is right. Two folks are posting under assumed names, or perhaps one is posting under two names. I think I'll bow out of this conversation until the Missourian sorts it all out.....

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 9, 2011 | 10:04 a.m.

Thanks to Michael for, "....who knows, you might even get wealthy selling it to occupybooks."

Thanks to Ellis for, "I WANT THAT OTHER GUY TO MAKE A FINANCIAL SACRIFICE FOR OUR COUNTRY".

Jon, your views are so aligned with socialism/communism that I would have accused you of trolling us, except you have written more than us. The idea of trolling is to say outlandish things that you know will stir people up and then sit back and watch. I challenge you to go to those mines you were blabbing about and give those hard working minors all your worldly possesions. When you get back I'll talk to you some more...

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 9, 2011 | 10:10 a.m.

J. Karl Miller:

You are most welcome, and I will send you the cartoon, cut from an actual newspaper, forthwith in the mail. I think the "recruiting poster format" is of particular interest to folks like us. ("Draft? What draft? I didn't sit around waiting for some damned draft!)

I am well familiar with the policies of the Tribune, and may actually be responsible for one or two of them. One thing that CAN be said for the "Name Withheld on Request" business is that presumably the Tribune itself was given the person's REAL name; also, I suspect some MU faculty members would be loath to submit anything if it weren't for guaranteed anonymity, and I, for one, am interested in what they have to say.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 9, 2011 | 10:11 a.m.

I'm getting the sense that I'm the one (or one of the ones) being suspected hiding under a fake handle. So far everyone who has stated this appears to be someone from the "other side" of the argument, and I haven't seen anyone else from "my side" in here for a while. Add to the equation the contempt they seem to hold toward this person, and I would guess it's not one of their own they're trying to expose.

So, if that's the case, you're wrong. Just thought I'd clear that up.

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub December 9, 2011 | 12:10 p.m.

The legitimate question of how much is too much does have answers, here are few:

When a corporation has, since the recession began, made the largest profits in the history of corps from a resource that is of absolute necessity for our society to exist. Then last quarter made 40% more profit than the previous quarter even though demand was down and supply was up.

When a business has enough "investment capital" to virtually influence elections and buy access to our congress.

When over 100 who earned over 1 mil. paid no taxes

When one has so much that they can buy there way into the good 'ol boys club and get no bid contracts for wars that will never end.

And on and on. What I am saying is it is not really about the disparity of money but about access. There should be no limit as to how much one makes as long as we all pay our fair share on a level playing field. I am sure every one who reads this thread would love to have access to those in Washington. I am sure a lunch meeting with the President or one of his staff, would be most desirable. A chance to one on one discuss the issues that matter to you. I would.

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub December 9, 2011 | 12:15 p.m.

All the talk of higher income taxes for the 1% is pretty much meaningless since they don't pay income taxes as they live on capital gains which is 15%. What's your bracket?

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush December 9, 2011 | 1:21 p.m.

It's not that the one
Percent have too much wealth - they
Have too much power.

We've got you talking
About inequality -
Our first step is done.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 9, 2011 | 2:36 p.m.

@Gregg n Gary
I have said from day one if the occupiers would focus on the access issue, they would find many friends including some tea partier types. I do not like the idea of my elected representative representing the wishes of someone else. We all know this is a problem. It is a problem on both sides of the aisle. We all have a front row seat for the current administration. We know that the stimulus monies that are supposed to be going to help spur the economy have been going to super rich dem donors. Our two party system has decayed in to the two parties representing themselves and not us. Target the focus and you will find friends and momentum. Let everyone join with their own ideas and socialistic calls for redistribution and you will burn out fast. It seems as though the latter is/has happening/happened. So, when someone says that they are broke and in debt from school loans and those super rich CEO's should throw me a bone and pay off my debt or when someone says they have 15 babies and someone has to pay for my babies instead of letting them join in the "movement" as if any new members will add legitimacy, tell them the pity party movement is not here and to move along...

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 9, 2011 | 2:41 p.m.

P.S. I don't know if some are thinking that our friend Jon is really more of a Paul, I don't think so. Jon is more idealistic and less viscous... The traveler dude on the other hand...

(Report Comment)
Paula Lehr December 9, 2011 | 2:59 p.m.

This is probably one of the largest identifiable things that motivated me to participate.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/12/08/se...

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 9, 2011 | 3:04 p.m.

The only Paul that rings a bell in my head is some Paul Allaire, whom I imagine is/was a forum regular considering I remember the name, but the last time I "saw" him online was in the Tribune forums back when they were free--and I don't even know if that's where I remember the name from or I'm just imagining things/retroactively making all of this up.

I am definitely Jonathan Hopfenblatt, though I don't particularly care to prove it. You all will draw your own conclusions regardless.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 9, 2011 | 3:15 p.m.

G. Straub - Find another liberal piece to recite for us? You did not address (as is usual with liberals when designing the latest plan to save our nation from total poverty):

The name of the resource that has earned "the corporation" so much money. A business secret?

When a *union* influences Every election with money taken from members whether approve or not.

The over 100 million whom are also allowed to pay "no taxes" excluding until now their contributions to SS. Now they are included in that "loop hole" which will help destroy the fund but gain Obummer votes.

The fact that wars are not social programs and that no bid conracts, in an effort to end the conflict quickly, must be awarded quickly to get the job done quickly. You and the prez would probably want to wait 'til everyone could show union membership. Hadn't you heard? The Iraq war was just ended.

Lastly, assuming that you prefer that government should have all the money you have written about, why anyone would believe that this government with the thousands of duplicate programs costing billions upon billions each year would need any more to spend. This, particularly when we know the history Congress in this regard.

1982 R. Reagan supported and signed a law introduced to close "loop holes" affecting businesses after the Tip ONeill D's promised $3. spending cuts for every $1. of new tax obtained from the bill. TEFRA which raised 97.3B$ over 3 years was supposed to be followed with $280B$ in spending cuts. Congress spent the money raised plus, everything else, plus 48B$ in deficit spending. They never cut spending anywhere.

AG Ed Meese wrote, 1992, "Judged by the results, TEFRA was not only a mistake, it was an object lesson in how NOT to reduce the deficit. (We did learn that few members of Congress can be counted on when you try to cut federal spending.)"

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 9, 2011 | 3:36 p.m.

@ mike mentor:

Never underestimate the abilities of others, Mike. Most intelligent people can fake a few posts and do a good job of it. It's just a shame that someone with genuine abilities should waste them.

Jimmy Bearfield is the most recent person on this forum to ask the question why if this is such an awful country, so many people want to come here. With the exception of Egypt I can't speak to those coming from Africa or Asia, but I have no problem understanding why there are those from the south side of the Rio Grande down to Patagonia (and the Caribbean islands as well) who desperately want to come here, even at the risk of their lives.

After they arrive they must really be confused: native-born Americans whining incessantly about how awful they have it.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 9, 2011 | 3:56 p.m.

@ Frank Christian:

It's time you and I faced up to it, Frank: we are really bad people. We don't want to subsidize the profligacy of others. (I don't think we're alone in that.)

We are probably going to go to hell when we die. That doesn't bother me, because I know lots of people who are or will be in hell but only a much smaller number of people who will be in heaven.

Of course if you and I were atheists the heaven/hell business would become a moot point. :)

(Report Comment)
Paula Lehr December 9, 2011 | 4:15 p.m.

This photo represents the scale of your straw man.

tp://www.burnmonkey.com/burn2006/img_1323_mod.html

(Report Comment)
Paula Lehr December 9, 2011 | 4:21 p.m.

So does this one. (My apologies for the last link not working.)

http://www.burnmonkey.com/burn2006/img_1...

and

http://www.burnmonkey.com/burn2006/img_1...

The following is what eventually becomes of straw men.

http://www.burnmonkey.com/burn2006/img_1...

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 9, 2011 | 4:22 p.m.

frank christian said: "You start this particular perversion of the truth with, "Someone with a billion dollars". Someone who has Earned a billion dollars would be more appropriate but, of course does not fit your Marxist view of the world and the people in it."

Yawn. that's just you talking again without saying anything. Those zingers you think are legitimate arguments (i.e. "Marxist") are nothing but empty boilerplate catchphrases.

"To continually pose the trillionaire & 60% question as some earth shaking proof of something while accepting opinion as the answer, imo comes not from a "bright" person, rather one somewhat lacking in that trait."

I guess logic is a rarer sight around here than I had originally thought. So, let's break it down:

-Obviously I'm looking for an opinion, because your opinions are what's wrong.
-You like the status quo, and in fact would prefer to tilt the scales further in favor of the rich by eliminating social programs, relaxing regulation, giving them even more tax breaks, etc.
-The trillionaire vs. 60% poor hypothetical is the logical extension of the same economic policy described above, which you apparently is the best thing ever.

Let's run the numbers again: Imagine that this one trillionaire meets the bare minimum requirements--i.e. he has "only" one trillion dollars. As I showed earlier, 413 billionaires in the US have 1.5 trillion. So, assuming for the sake of simplicity that the money is distributed evenly, 275 people in the US have 1 trillion. 1 trillionaire vs 275 billionaires--oh my, how could I have ever fabricated such an outlandish scenario?
Now onto the poverty side, obviously 60% of the population isn't poor at the moment, but ~15% are (i.e. one fourth of that). Since a number of people have asked me to define how much wealth a person should be allowed to keep, I should return the favor and ask you all to give me a number on how high poverty rates can climb before we recognize there's a problem. Care to take a stab at it?

In summary:

-Your opinion is that X is the best thing for America.
-My hypothetical is simply X taken to the (not so) extreme.
-Is X taken to the extreme still the best thing for America? If not, then you're gonna have to explain why the logic of X makes perfect sense now, but suddenly breaks down when you fudge the numbers around slightly.

I interpret your all's continued silence as a tacit admission of defeat, because we all know that no half-decent person with any sense of compassion would think it's a good thing for 60% of the population to starve while one guy has a trillion in the bank. Now you just have to wake up and realize that that's exactly what's happening now, except that it's the reduced-fat version.

Once again, your opinions are wrong.

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub December 9, 2011 | 4:29 p.m.

Exxon-Mobil Frank. And, if you think the war is over in Iraq, I suppose you haven't heard of the world's largest and most expensive embassy which we paid for and will pay for forever. It is in Iraq and will have it's own army and air force, but private of course, controlled by the state department.. Here is a source about that which Should satisfy your plausibility requirements. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,4764... And http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embassy_of_...

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/10/27...

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 9, 2011 | 4:30 p.m.

Ellis Smith said: "Never underestimate the abilities of others, Mike. Most intelligent people can fake a few posts and do a good job of it. It's just a shame that someone with genuine abilities should waste them."

Never underestimate the ability of others to overestimate their abilities. You're not quite the perspicacious sleuth you think you are, because I'm not whoever you think I am.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking December 9, 2011 | 5:12 p.m.

Jonathan Hopfenblatt wrote:

"I am definitely Jonathan Hopfenblatt, though I don't particularly care to prove it"

Hm. A quick Google of your name tells me you're a 27 year old (+/-) electrical engineer living in Columbia MO. I never doubted your identity. It would be like someone hiding his name by calling himself Mark Foecking.

(I'm a 55 year old research specialist at MU's vet school, just to save anyone the trouble)

It doesn't matter anyway. Do you have any comments regarding my assertions that most people are doing well enough that they don't care about income inequality?

DK

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 9, 2011 | 5:25 p.m.

After they arrive they must really be confused: native-born Americans whining incessantly about how awful they have it.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I used to be a manager in another business that employed many people in hourly unskilled positions. The workers (I'm told we checked green cards so they were all legal, ahem cough cough...) that were from the south worked far harder and were far more reliable than the workers from here. The native born you might say. The "imports" were just happy to have an opportunity to work for a fair wage. Their idea of a fair wage for an unskilled position was different than what a native born persons idea of a fair wage was. Go figure. Those that were used to being given things by our government quit work because they got drunk the night before and didn't feel like getting up the next day for work. Go figure. Never, not once, did I have that situation with the workers from the south. Not saying this will statistically mean anything. Take it for what it's worth.

I would love to have one of those guys from that time comment on how much greater the opportunities are here in this country than they are anywhere else for those that want to work. Jonathan, I find it hard to believe that you spent much time around ghettos in South America without recognizing that the oppourtunity to not be poor is more abundant here than anywhere else in the world. This is why we have an immigration problem.

Jonathan, since you have been repeatedly asking for an answer to your question regarding one super rich guy, I will give you one. This didn't happen in a vacuum. So, if the 1 trillionaire made his trillion through education, ingenuity, hard work, and luck and the rest of your poor folks became poor because they did not work and instead sat and waited outside the trillionaires house for the trillionaire to take care of them, then indeed I would say that the poor deserve nothing of the trillionaires money.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 9, 2011 | 5:57 p.m.

G. Straub - I'll address EXXON for you. "Its grand total in global taxes for the year? A whopping $78.6 billion. The company's effective income tax rate was a hefty 47%, its highest in three years." U.S. oil companies are allowed to deduct taxes paid to foreign governments from those due to IRS. This to help explore and produce more oil for us. A reg I'm sure you would rescind as I would bet that you would prefer we had No oil.
http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2010/news...

Sorry but as a habitual FOX viewer I saw the piece and knew that the huge embassy was being built. I'll try to help again by reminding that we U.S. freed Iraq from a 30 yr domination of an absolute tyrant. From your piece, "The veteran diplomat has served before in the Middle East, where a lack of U.S. resolve in places like Lebanon 20 years ago opened that country to meddling from Iran and Syria." I'm sure this does not compute with you, but it does with those concerned about the welfare and safety of our descendants. And, tho you so profess, it does not equal the continuation of that war. Nice tho, for once, to read of your concern for Expense

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush December 9, 2011 | 5:58 p.m.

The definition
Of exploitation and a
Quote from Colonel Kurtz.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 9, 2011 | 6:20 p.m.

Jonathan - "Those zingers you think are legitimate arguments (i.e. "Marxist") are nothing but empty boilerplate catchphrases."

Another demonstration of ignorance. Anyone having truly studied Marx and communism would know that they are anything but,"empty boilerplate catchphrases." More people have been murdered and starved to death under communist governments that profess to help them, than any other system ever conceived. Capitalism on the other hand, has created more wealth for more people world wide than any other system ever has.

Your (mentioned the word silly earlier)insistence that you know how to protect all but the wun% just don't fly and as a matter of fact, never has. Continue with the horse puckey if you wish, but I'm done.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 9, 2011 | 7:06 p.m.

Ellis! - I was sure that my halo was secure and I would surely receive "a star in my crown", up there.(sage saying from my father). Here you come prematurely condemning me to hell (is anyone of the 2nd sex coming too?) along with you. I'm dumbfounded. Thankfully my fingers are OK.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 9, 2011 | 7:28 p.m.

Mark Foecking: Well played. I was wondering when someone was gonna google my name and not just speculate as to whose secret account I could be. Indeed, that's me.
Onto your questions:
"Generally politics will step in at that point and we'll get something similar to a French Revolution. However, income inequality isn't anywhere near those levels. Again, our average wages are the highest in the world."
Income inequality is a measure of the income ratio between the richest and the poorest, not merely the average income. Also, if by "average" you mean "statistical mean," that figure is affected by outliers. I'm sure you knew all of this already, but I still thought it was worth pointing out in case not everyone is on the same page.
As for the rest of your post, the whole world is "better" now than it was at any point in the past. The poorest in Somalia now are doing better than the poorest in Somalia some decades ago, but this is still no reason to cheer. Likewise, while the poor in the US may still be able to afford cell phones and computers, their lives are certainly not carefree. It doesn't matter if the lower end of the income spectrum is already ok, the fact that there are people out there earning millionfolds more than the rest should suggest to everyone that something is wrong.
Income inequality in the US isn't half as bad as income inequality in other countries, but it's interesting to note that a vast majority of these places are third-world countries. With a few exceptions, we're surpassed only by the likes of Sierra Leone, Honduras, Swaziland, Uganda, Jamaica, etc.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cou...
The picture at the top right makes it easy to see that we're worse off in this respect than practically all other developed nations. (The Gini coefficient mentioned in the link, used as a measure of income inequality in most cases, also happens to be one of the best predictors of homicide rates. It turns out that relative poverty, and not absolute, is what drives homicide up, meaning that homicide rates in the US are likely to be higher than in a country where everyone is dead broke. This further means that the best way to reduce homicide is to level the playing field)
"Occupiers are actually the 1% (or less). Most people in this country do just fine, and are content with their lives."
Well, I'd like to see some statistics on overall happiness across the country, for one. But even if everyone loved their lives, that really doesn't say anything beyond "they're happy." A lot of people are content with mediocrity, and a lot of people want the wrong things in life. A sizable percentage of the population seems to really believe that the US is the greatest country on earth. This tells me that a sizable percentage of the population doesn't know much about their own country, much less the rest of the world. I don't know about anyone else, but I personally think we could do way better than this.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 9, 2011 | 7:32 p.m.

...I must say, it's somewhat annoying that the preview page on this website does not show paragraph spacing. That wall of text above should've looked a lot less like one if I had been able to tell whether or not the paragraphs were spaced appropriately. Sorry about that.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 9, 2011 | 7:39 p.m.

frank christian: Good job completely missing the point. It doesn't matter how many atrocities were committed under Marx and the banner of communism. To call me a Marxist and communist you need to be able to prove that I fit the description. Until then, once again, your argument is nothing but meaningless catchphrases.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop December 9, 2011 | 7:44 p.m.

Jonathan, can you point to another country whose "poor" have a standard of living is similar to that of the United States?

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop December 9, 2011 | 7:51 p.m.

Jonathan, one does not need to have read Mein Kampf or studied the history of the rise of Nazism to know that the Nazis murdered millions of innocent human beings, and that they were a repressive, brutal dictatorship who invaded most of Europe without cause.

Socialists/communists likewise, we know when we see. We don't have to prove anything. You walk like a duck, you look like a duck, you quack like a duck.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop December 9, 2011 | 8:24 p.m.

Mark, Jonathan is correct. Several college studies have shown that conservatives are much happier than liberals. And this is regardless of economic status. I suspect is because conservative women are more successful and better looking.

(Report Comment)
Joy Mayer December 9, 2011 | 9:23 p.m.

@Jonathan, thanks for the nudge. I've been meaning to talk to the IT staff about whether we can adjust how comment preview works. You have to add an extra return in order to get a space to show up between paragraphs, and the preview doesn't display properly.

I'll ask about it next week.

Joy Mayer
Director of community outreach
Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 9, 2011 | 9:34 p.m.

Don Mislop asked: "Jonathan, can you point to another country whose "poor" have a standard of living is similar to that of the United States?"

By all means, take a gander at these lists:

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

Note how the first list ("raw" HDI) places the US at #4 in terms of standards of living. Then note how the second list (inequality-adjusted HDI) drops the US to #23. Also note that, aside from South Korea, the US drop in ranking is more than double that of any other country that fell any number of spots. So, if you're curious as to where else the poor enjoy such high standards of living--higher, actually--pick any of the 22 countries that scored better than America (that is, virtually all of Western Europe plus Israel).

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 9, 2011 | 10:01 p.m.

Don Milsop: "Socialists/communists likewise, we know when we see. We don't have to prove anything. You walk like a duck, you look like a duck, you quack like a duck."

Ah, the lazy "I know it when I see it" argument, which still misses the whole point. Obviously I've been wanting him (and you now) to define the term "duck," but I guess I shouldn't hold my breath waiting for an answer, seeing as how you already admitted to being too lazy to respond with an actual argument.

"Mark, Jonathan is correct. Several college studies have shown that conservatives are much happier than liberals. And this is regardless of economic status. I suspect is because conservative women are more successful and better looking."

Well, this sure is interesting.

http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.to...

From the abstract:

"...we found that right-wing (vs. left-wing) orientation is indeed associated with greater subjective wellbeing and that the relation between political orientation and subjective well-being is mediated by the rationalization of inequality. In our third study, we found that increasing economic inequality (as measured by the Gini index) from 1974 to 2004 has exacerbated the happiness gap between liberals and conservatives, apparently because conservatives (more than liberals) possess an ideological buffer against the negative hedonic effects of economic inequality."

Interesting that their explanation for why conservatives are happier has everything to do with the topic at hand, and the conclusion apparently is that conservatives can just rationalize inequality and injustice away. Good to know that you're happier with the blinders on, in the meantime I'll continue to actually care about the well-being of others.

<i>*completely unrelated words testing the forum's text-formatting capabilities*</i>

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 9, 2011 | 10:02 p.m.

"You walk like a duck, you look like a duck, you quack like a duck." = A socialist, and a shill for the United Nations.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 9, 2011 | 10:19 p.m.
This comment has been removed.
frank christian December 9, 2011 | 10:31 p.m.

Should have written "JH may also "have been" a Rhodes Scholar.

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson December 9, 2011 | 10:38 p.m.

I am going to throw a wacky, crazy, radical notion out here: the primary purpose of tax policy should be to raise sufficient revenue for the expenditures of the government. Not to "equalize" (or "inequalize") incomes or wealth amongst the populace.

I think I read this somewhere, my 7th or 8th grade year. Might have been in that dusty old document several be-wigged gents hammered out a few years after our former Mother Country begrudgingly acknowledged our separation from them.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 9, 2011 | 11:13 p.m.

I have a vague recollection of the name frank christian from the Tribune's forums back when they were free, and as I remember, nobody took you seriously back then. Lo and behold, things don't seem to have changed all that much, despite the passage of time and change in venue.

I think the internet-appropriate term for people like you is "troll." Sometimes amusing, sometimes annoying, never compelling.

Either way, didn't you say a while back that you were done here? Oh yeah, I forgot that such a statement invariably comes with the implicit "not till I have the last word" clause. By all means, knock yourself out. Right now it's just me against several other people, but as luck would have it, a few of them are actually worth debating.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 10, 2011 | 5:51 a.m.

@ Mile Mentor:

I enjoyed reading your comments, above. There are several minuses to working south of the Rio Grande*, but the good cooperation you get from everyone isn't one of them. I got tired in the USA of endlessly hearing all the reasons why we COULDN'T do this or that. My response was and still is, "Then tell me what you CAN do."

Another disappointment, more recent, is that I'm getting no takers for picketing the homes of two local families who are billionaires. Don't you people realize what a marvelous opportunity you have? How many cities of 100,000 have such a "target rich" environment?

I've previously offered directions, transportation and liquid "fortification." In the last case I recommend mescal: it's inexpensive, highly effective, and if you have any left over you can always use it to clear clogged drains. BTW that's not a worm at the bottom of the bottle, it's a caterpillar. There's a reason why the caterpillar is there, having to do with demonstrating alcohol content. Damned clever, those Mexicans (but sort of hard on caterpillars).

Time for "occupiers" to get cracking. :)

*- The possibility of being kidnapped is fairly high on the list.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 10, 2011 | 10:08 a.m.

Jonathan is correct, "I have a vague recollection of the name frank christian from the Tribune's forums back when they were free, and as I remember, nobody took you seriously back then.", in fact I was over there writing to one of his ilk (don't you love it J.?) about the time he must have been dreaming up this post.

When I arrived there only a few years ago, I was dumfounded to find that the revisionists had been so successful. Most seemed to believe that (outstanding among all the other information, changed to vilify those that have not toed the liberal line.) R. Reagan was bad for the country, "he racked up debt for our country unequaled in our history!"and Bill Clinton balanced the Federal Budget!

I'd better state the truth again, to prevent an outcry. Reagan created debt by borrowing the excess spending of the D' controlled Congress, rather than turning to the Fed and their presses which caused 12% and above inflation which had turned into stagflation. In his first days,he also stopped Carter's phoney "energy crisis" and got reasonable lower gas prices at the pump, by rescinding one of Carter's regulations, with a stroke of the pen.

Clinton had his plan, only intended to "reduce the deficit", in place for two years when R's took Congress. It was their legislation (one named the Balanced Budget Act of 1997), along with careful control of spending that enabled the first balanced Federal Budget since 1968.

No one paid attention when I asserted to those debating the dangers of "global warming", but Not the only cures submitted (taxation), that the liberals of the U.N. did not care whether there was warming or not, only that the extraction of tax payer money under the pretense that they "care" was, is necessary.

Hope J. is not devastated to learn that I am content with my thought that at least, some now, do take me seriously.

I can't recall seeing the name Hopfenblatt at the Trib back then. I wonder who or what he was pretending to be?

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 10, 2011 | 2:14 p.m.

I'll bet he was pretending to be a reader.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 10, 2011 | 5:26 p.m.

Ellis Smith: It would be incredibly dumb to picket in front of someone's private residence AT the people who live there, considering it's more than likely illegal. Would you tell those silly anti-abortion protesters to go picket in front of people's homes after following them there from the Planned Parenthood parking lot?

But yeah, go ahead and pat yourself on the back for that one. I'm sure you thought it was real clever of you, thinking you were exposing the OWS crowd's "cowardice" (i.e. what anyone else would call "common sense"). I guess that drivel can pass for bulletproof logic in some circles.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 10, 2011 | 6:10 p.m.

Yep, those protestors are all young, lazy, dirty bums: http://blogs.philadelphiaweekly.com/phil...
http://www.tgdaily.com/opinion-features/...
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/201...
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/stor...

I will repeat, this country isn't going to be able to injure many of today's Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans before we've got a really serious problem on our hands.

The often violent attacks on nonviolent protestors is what's causing the vast majority of the disruption and nuisance, not the protests themselves. When police leave the protesters alone, there's usually very few problems. Certainly not any more trash or disruption than a typical sporting event, the likes of which apparently shelter truly damaging mosters like Sandusky.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 10, 2011 | 6:25 p.m.

Oh, speaking of the two homes of billionaires... http://frugaldad.com/2011/12/01/weight-o...

Scroll down to the bottom and look at the difference in charitable donations from Walton family, vs. the likes of Buffet, Gates, and Soros.

But hey, that's OK because Wal-Mart brings out the best in us: http://www.freep.com/article/20111125/FE...

For the record, I don't shop at Wal-Mart.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 10, 2011 | 9:07 p.m.

Well, let's see.

Frugaldad.com or walmartstores.com

Who do I believe?

That's for me to decide. You can decide for yourself.

PS: Personally I liked the Hunger Relief tab under Community and Giving.

I promise I won't gripe about Walmart shareholders' charitable contributions any more than I'll gripe about your personal giving. After all, I figure it's your money to do with as you wish...which, of course, is one of our major philosophical and political differences.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 11, 2011 | 1:22 a.m.

I suppose it's easy to get the Walton family's charity and the Wal-Mart corporation's charity campaigns confused, since corporations are considered people now.

From the website you adore:
* Donating more than 1.1 billion pounds of food from Walmart stores, distribution centers and Sam’s Club locations, valued at $1.75 billion;
---You think "valued" is actually their wholesale cost, or inflated retail price?
* Grants totaling $250 million to support hunger relief organizations...

Also from the "Investors" area of the same website:
Net income: $3.3 Trillion

Let's see...
$2 (questionable) Billion charity giving
divided by
$3.3 Trillion net income
equals
.06%. Yeah, incredibly generous. Uh huh.

BTW, you're putting words in my mouth. Where, exactly, have I stated that people's money should NOT theirs to do what they wish with?

Yes, I understand that taxation is, essentially, "laying claim on other people's money." However, I don't see you giving the checks you get from the government back, so they can reimburse me for the taxes I've paid. How ironic you accuse me of that, when right now I'm the one giving, and you're the one taking.

Socialism / collectivism is a large part of what has made this country great. Without government undertaking projects too big and too long-term for any one or even group of private businesses to accomplish, this country would still be a mudhole, and you'd likely be long since dead. How much of your chemistry education was subsidized by the government? How much medical research is funded by the government? Wasn't there just an argument about how important vaccines are? Should the government not fund development, subsidize distribution, and require application? How much of our modern sanitation system was developed, and is still funded collectively and overseen by governments? How much of our energy infrastructure was funded and developed by governments? How heavily is our transportation infrastructure funded or subsidized by the government? Answer: almost all of it. Where would our "great nation" - and "your money" be without any of that?

If you can't stand the thought of paying taxes for the common good - that YOU are part of and benefit from - move to someplace without them. Try some dirty, disease-infested area in sub-saharan Africa without infrastructure, doctors, medical facilities, utilities, police, military, or judicial system, or much of any government to keep some semblance of order in society. I promise you'll love being able to provide all your own social security (and I mean that in a much larger sense than just social security payments).

Your assertion that I don't think people should be allowed to 'do what they wish with their money' is nothing but a gross distortion, made possible only by an astounding lack of recognition and gratitude for the contributions of our nation as a whole, and the enormous benefit wealthy people derive from it.

America: the team full of red I's.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 11, 2011 | 1:30 a.m.

BTW, the original FrugalDad site has been taken down, possibly because there's no way FrugalDad could fight the enormous weight of Wal-Mart, or possibly because the popularity of the infographic.

No worry, the internet (for now, until the passage of SOPA so Big Government can exert more control over internet content) will route around damage like that. Copies are still available:

http://www.infographicsarchive.com/econo...

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 11, 2011 | 2:40 a.m.

I was gonna say, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to invoke Walmart's outreach programs as a testament to the Waltons' generosity. The Waltons' donations were being pitted against Bill Gates's; it wasn't a contest between Walmart and Microsoft. Either way, I'm commenting purely on the logic, as I'm not familiar with the numbers and don't wanna jump to conclusions after looking at just one website. The sources listed at the bottom consisted largely of news articles anyway, and I haven't been all that inclined to trust news media for the last few years.

Also, linking to a Walmart website to counter anti-Walmart rants is about the same thing as me linking to the OWS website to counter anti-OWS rants. I doubt that Michael Williams would consider that a wise move on my part, because no one could reasonably expect an unbiased, fact-based account straight from the horse's mouth. It would be not unlike a jury reaching a verdict of "not guilty" just because the defendant said "I didn't do it."

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 11, 2011 | 3:01 a.m.

And Derrick, you sound genuinely angry about all this stuff, so maybe you should just take a chill pill and become a conservative. Like someone else mentioned before and I confirmed after doing some quick internet research, conservatives are indeed happier than liberals, more so today than in years past. So, if you want to be happy, all you have to do is rationalize inequality away and stop caring about anyone else.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 11, 2011 | 5:50 a.m.

Jonathan:

As we all know, alumni listings sometimes have errors, but the name "Jonathan Hopfenblatt" doesn't show up on ours. (Every campus in University of Missouri System has its own alumni association, which in itself may say volumes about the System.)

Why are you angry? And at 3AM?

As to picketing homes, most posters here took that for the joke it was intended to be. Get arrested? Not much doubt about that! But look what heroes you'd be. Michael Moore might even send you a Christmas card (assuming that Michael recognizes Christmas.)

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 11, 2011 | 7:26 a.m.

I sleep at irregular hours, just as you seem to (unless you're one of those early birds who wakes up at about 5am each day, which I'd consider irregular hours all the same). Also, the more appropriate adjective would be "amused" rather than "angry." In theory I SHOULD be angry given the overwhelming ignorance I'm reading, but this is actually quite entertaining.

Also, DK seems to have figured out pretty quickly that the name I'm using on this website does indeed correspond to someone in Columbia, and Michael Williams also had me pegged as someone in his late 20's (presumably) not knowing anything else about me. But, you're more than welcome to keep thinking I'm someone else in hiding. I'm not sweating it trying to prove you wrong either way, considering that your self-proclaimed Sherlock-Holmes-like deductive skills show instead you're probably just another birther conspiracy theorist.

Good job backpedaling on the picketing argument as well. You sure seemed proud of yourself earlier, repeating ad nauseam how willing you were to even provide the would-be home picketers with "liquid courage" (any of whom was going to be labeled a coward if they refused). Only now does it seem that you've finally realized your argument was terrible, and thus feel compelled to go into damage-control mode.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 11, 2011 | 7:59 a.m.

Good lord...it took "Love it or leave it" 40 years to get back around to me. But there it is.

Heck, Derrick....when I owned my business and was making big money and paying big taxes, I figure I was not only taking care of my own family, but 5 others as well at 30K/year per.

Perhaps you were one of them.

(As for frugaldad and walmartstores, if either webpage appeared on a student's list of references, they'd lose points.

Which was the whole original point)

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub December 11, 2011 | 9:46 a.m.

OK Frank, we now know that you believe wasteful gov. spending is perfectly fine if done by our military industrial complex. So how do you feel about Cantor's putting a stop to the STOCK act?

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 11, 2011 | 12:00 p.m.

G. Straub - I was able to decipher your post tho very dimly presented thru the blue and now note that I can apparently transmit. E. Cantor and STOCK bill: http://www.cnbc.com/id/45612773 You don't buy the Politico version?

I'm really just seeing if I can post. I doubt I'll be able to read any answer.

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson December 11, 2011 | 1:14 p.m.

I'll try this one more time: the primary purpose of tax policy should be to raise sufficient revenue for the expenditures of the government. Not to "equalize" (or "inequalize") incomes or wealth amongst the populace.

When "Les Occupiers" grab the pitchforks & torches, and head for the Waltons' house, count me out. I don't either envy or hate them enough, I guess. And, I have read how that particular revolution turned out.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 11, 2011 | 3:21 p.m.

Joy M. - No rush. I'm writing you from the Col's Occupy- Nuisance piece as the comment area is quite clear as always. It is as if blue plastic has been laid over the monitor, except the permanent language of The Missourian. The wording of the posters is nearly illegible, but can be brought out with (no kidding) the blue highlight. Again, the occurrence is only at the stated page.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 11, 2011 | 4:47 p.m.

@ Tony Robertson:

Your concept of what the primary purpose of tax policy should be is rational and still shared by many. Unfortunately there are those who don't agree.

The Waltons have not been nor are they apt to be in any physical danger. As for the French Revolution, we need to remember that it ended up devouring many of its early advocates, including Citizen Robespierre, who after sending so many others to die was guillotined July 28, 1794.

Doubtless Robespierre acted from conviction. The Robespierres of this world usually do.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 11, 2011 | 8:36 p.m.

@Tony Robertson: The debate is not about the primary role of tax policy, but rather about its content (as in, who gets taxed what, and how much). The discussion also has to do with the government expenditures themselves: Given that we're already paying taxes, how should the money be spent?

@Ellis Smith: Nice job trying to claim Tony's even-handed, non-partisan statements as your own, as if conservatives don't have an ax to grind and only want what's fair for everyone. Even if we instituted a flat tax across the board, you still wouldn't want our tax dollars to be spent on "socialism," "communism," "Marxism," "entitlements," "the welfare state," et cetera, or any of those other catchy, sensationalist terms conservatives love to use.

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 11, 2011 | 9:21 p.m.

Socialist programs? We don't need no stinkin' socialism. Abolish the fire department and let everyone put out their own fires. Bunch of freeloaders.

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson December 11, 2011 | 9:35 p.m.

@Jonathan: The debate IS about tax policy - along with other aspects of fiscal policy (spending, borrowing, etc.). I used to get great enjoyment out of asking my "progressive" fellow 'Mericans this question:

What should the top marginal income tax rate be, and at what income level should it trigger?

In other words, how much of a claim to the next dollar I earn, should the Federal Gov't have, and at what levels do those claims increase?

I would bet you a year-long subscription to Rolling Stone or The Nation, that a large number (if not a majority) of "Les Occupiers" haven't a clue about such matters.

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 11, 2011 | 9:41 p.m.

"I doubt I'll be able to read any answer."

Hmm... That sounds like a luxury. They should charge you extra.

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 11, 2011 | 9:47 p.m.

"In other words, how much of a claim to the next dollar I earn, should the Federal Gov't have?"

Probably about the same as now, unless you're making more than half a million a year. If you are you should pay a few percent more than you do. And if you're making capital gains from day trading you need to pay a lot more.

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson December 11, 2011 | 11:17 p.m.

Alrighty, we got a taker. So, John Schmidt, you would raise the top marginal rate on a taxable income of $500K, "a few percent more". What is it now? (By all means, avail yourself of some Google scholarly study) To what rate would you increase it? What would you recommend for a short-term capital gains tax rate, and would that apply at all income levels, or just the upper end?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 11, 2011 | 11:27 p.m.

Tony, I'm thinking Jonathan should get back to us when he's a bit older and wonder why he can deduct mortgage interest and get tax credits for having children? I wonder if he examined his or his parents' tax returns and wondered what that exemption for higher education costs was all about? Yep, tax policy flies right over some folks' heads...

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 12, 2011 | 12:47 a.m.

@Tony: Your earlier posts seemed to suggest that we were all just confused about the role of taxation, mentioning that it's about providing the government with enough money for its expenditures and not about equalizing or "unequalizing" wealth. I was simply dispelling that notion, because while the debate is indeed about tax policy, we were arguing about its method(s) of implementation, not its primary role.

But to answer your question, I'm sure that economists and financial experts could devise a scheme to sneak in a few tax brackets above the current upper boundary of $372,951+/35%. I have no idea if there's any rhyme and reason to the existing marginal-tax-rate vs. income categories, but it's pretty clear that 35% of ~$400K is a much more significant chunk of one's income than 35% of $4M (and hopefully I don't have to explain what I mean by this). From a population standpoint it probably didn't make sense to come up with tax brackets for a near-negligible percentage of the population, but from an income standpoint, these guys are handling a decidedly non-negligible percentage of the country's wealth.

So, here's an example off the top of my head. Figures are from Wikipedia, the current income ranges and tax rates representing someone filing as "Single." Obviously my guesses come in at the 35% category (hopefully the formatting doesn't get screwed up once I post):

10%____$0 – $8,350
15%____$8,351 – $33,950
25%____$33,951 – $82,250
28%____$82,251 – $171,550
33%____$171,551 – $372,950
35%____$372,951 - $750,000
37%____$750,000 – $1.5M
40%____$1.5M – $5M
45%____$5M – $10M
50%____$10M – $60M
60%____$60M – $200M
75%____$200M+

Short-term capital gains are currently taxed at the same rates as ordinary income, which is fine with me, but I might scale 'em back just a tad at the higher ranges so as to not completely discourage investment. As far as long-term capital gains go, however, I'd definitely scale them up, though not as steeply--that, or stretch out the time span between short- and long-term by adding a couple of categories in between. I'm no financial expert, but if I'm interpreting correctly the difference between short- and long-term capital gains, apparently a single day can make the difference between being taxed at 35% or 15%. If that's the case, I'd definitely say there's something wrong with the picture.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 12, 2011 | 1:02 a.m.

@John Schultz: Fortunately my parents paid not a cent for my education, so they didn't have to use any of those socialist clauses in the tax code to shirk their financial responsibilities toward Uncle Sam, unlike all those other leeches wanting a free ride on everyone else's dime in order to provide their kids with a non-mediocre education and some semblance of a future. I mean, how dare they?

And don't worry, I didn't get to mooch off your hard-earned dollars all that much either, as most of my scholarships were private and I already paid off the one government loan I took out.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 12, 2011 | 7:49 a.m.

"I would bet you a year-long subscription to Rolling Stone or The Nation, that a large number (if not a majority) of "Les Occupiers" haven't a clue about such matters."

If honesty were among their traits, Occupiers might admit similarity in reasoning with the first Miami "carjackers" whom attacked easily identifiable tourist rental cars on the freeway. "They had what we wanted, so we took it!"

Categories, or limits on taxation will never suffice the progressive liberal insatiable need to confiscate the "country's wealth".

This latest 5T$ "hit" is surely their best score, but all can note, they ain't done yit!

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 12, 2011 | 8:26 a.m.

@ Frank:

I liked the the carjacker "reasoning."

In a book written by a Brit doctor who worked with what he called the bottom rung of patients in the Brit health system, the author quotes an incarcerated patient as describing his stabbing of another person as, "The knife went in...". In the patient's mind the knife did the stabbing, not the patient. How about that, Frank, a DRONE KNIFE.

Are you still having problems with a blue screen?

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 12, 2011 | 8:43 a.m.

Ellis - Thanks. Yes, still have the "blues". Found out yesterday, the text of the posts will come out with the blue highlight used for copying.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 12, 2011 | 8:51 a.m.

It would be nice if you guys could move to a different page. Maybe Jonathan could stay....

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 12, 2011 | 9:59 a.m.

Good idea. but I've got a better one. Since we're all not on the same page anyway, how about I try to get on the same page with you.

Since we seem to be worried about confiscatory and obligatory, why don't we make our participation with the government voluntary? And since we're not a bunch of whining freeloaders, lets quit using the government services so that the government no longer has to provide. Frank, you can quit taking your pension. Tony, John, and Frank, you can quit driving and you can pay back, with interest, the portions of your education that was subsidized by the various levels of your government. I also would like for none of you to ever call the police for any reason and to provide a sign indicating that you will not do such, as an example for your neighbors to follow. I expect each of you to raise your own food so as not to depend on any government provided infrastructure and, of course, I don't want you to live where your electricity is sourced from a nuclear plant, among other things.
But this is small, petty stuff. Let's look at the larger picture. I want the armed forces to quit being so demanding about being paid and I want the same thing for the defense contractors. After all, they are either with us or against us, right? From now on our volunteer army is going to have some REAL meaning. And do you think there would be trouble with this given the level of patriotism displayed here? The companies that have been so successful at providing costly arms, munitions, and supplies of all sorts of specifications can now consider it their honor and duty to provide them at no cost to the taxpayers. I'm sure that the free market will be able to sort out those few greedy among them that only work with their own petty self interest in mind and that the consumers will punish them by not buying any more of their overpriced goods. Once we have this worked out, we can scale it downward and apply it to our local and state governments, including police, fire protection, public works, schools, and whatnot. God forbid that anyone should have to take one dime from the job creators.

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 12, 2011 | 10:02 a.m.

Especially when they've given so much.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 12, 2011 | 11:06 a.m.

John, I'm not saying government should provide no services. I'm OK with fire, police, roads, grudgingly schools (it is in the Missouri constitution after all), enough military for a national defense (Iraq and Libya don't count, of course), and similar services. My issue is with the expansion of government services and departments that are inefficient, wasteful, or downright unconstitutional.

Why do we have a Department of Education still when national test scores continue to decline? What has the Department of Energy accomplished other than providing various energy providers with subsidies and distorting the free market, preventing truly sustainable initiatives that don't need to be propped up with tax dollars? What payroll taxes will my kids and grandkids being paying for my Social Security retirement benefits that I should (and have) been saving for on my own?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 12, 2011 | 11:30 a.m.

Jonathan, I'm not saying your parents were "bad" if they used a tax deduction to pay for your college education. Heck, your parents paid for my Bright Flight scholarship way back before I had enough senses to question just where that tuition money was coming from. I'm just asking why does the tax code provide a respite from these and similar expenses instead of doing away with the deductions, credits, etc. and lowering tax rates for all? It's not about socialism, certainly.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 12, 2011 | 11:35 a.m.

Mr. Schmidt is employing the only means left to him to show us that to allow the confiscation of wealth through government is an obligation we all (some?) must silently, bear because those of the government can readily show that they "care" about those whom "have" less than others. This, he believes will show that the progressive agenda is reasonable. The "bird" as usual, "don't fly"

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm December 12, 2011 | 11:55 a.m.

Frank,

You are always the one using the lame excuse against Warren Buffet "why doesn't he just pay more in taxes, no one is stopping him?". Well why don't you stop cashing your government handout every month? If I recall correctly you get a disability check? You realize that the money you get was also "confiscated" from someone else who actually earned but the "government can readily show that they "care" about those whom "have" less (Frank) than others (The person who pays taxes for Frank's check)."

Frank, your bird as usual doesn't fly when you complain against the very thing you are doing. You want people to take you seriously, stop cashing your government check and go get a job and start paying taxes like the rest of us.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 12, 2011 | 12:29 p.m.

J. Hamm - Still batting 1000 aren't you? You are always wrong.

My "gov't handout is Social Security, which I paid into every working day of my life. The money is supposed to come from a "trust" fund, every dime of which has been confiscated by the caring Congress, beginning with the D' controlled one that watched LB Johnson first raid it to pay for Vietnam War and Great Society programs (why is our poverty problem still with us?) I leave you to yourself.

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm December 12, 2011 | 12:39 p.m.

Frank,

Do you not know how SS works? You paid in for the people that were already retired, not for your retirement. People who are working now are paying for your check and as you have pointed out before the Supreme Court has already ruled that even though you paid into the system there is no obligation for you to receive your check.

So again I say; put your money where your mouth is literally. Stop cashing your government check and go get a job!.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 12, 2011 | 4:56 p.m.

J. Hamm - Damn, I lost a whole boat load because of blue screen. Here we go again.

You trying now to give me a lesson in FDIC? By golly you did get me to thinking. I heard this am of a deceased millionaire that willed his entire estate to the Federal gov't to help reduce the deficit. Maybe you and he know something I don't. If the gov't got my check and his estate would then Obama, Pelosi and the D's, after confiscating 5T$ of tax payer money then find no need for the other 1/2T$ they are bent on prying from tax payers? Can't wait for your answer. Also I'll give you a shot at another question I've been posting. Do you believe that the destruction of this economy of ours is necessary to rebuild a more perfect one in it's place? Anyone else, even Jonathan, can add their opinion to yours.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 12, 2011 | 5:22 p.m.

Jack: I think you are arguing the wrong argument about SS, at least you are with me and, perhaps, other conservatives.

You see, many of us believe we should never have been forced into SS contributions in the first place. I can only look back 40+ years ago and wonder what I could have done with my contributions plus that of my employers. I'm quite confident I could have done much better than my gov't did. In fact, with the money I was left with after all taxes were paid....I did exactly that.

Plus, any money after I kick the bucket would have been heritable. Not so with SS.

But, since I chose to work for a living, I was forced to contribute. So were my employers. I use the word "forced" because the alternatives were jail and/or fines.

I see no problem with accepting SS from a program into which I was coerced AND paid.

I would have also had no problem living with any consequences of my fiscal acumen, or lack thereof, if I had been in charge of my SS money accumulated over the last 40 years. You see...I played "ant" while others played "grasshopper".

Delayed gratification pays.

Unfortunately, instant gratification pays, too, if you are using someone else's money.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 12, 2011 | 5:34 p.m.

Michael, we have about the same sentiment on Social Security. Here's a link to letter to the editor that the Missourian published last summer. I haven't been able to get anyone who leans progressive to comment on the math, other than Social Security is an intergenerational "bond" (I prefer to think of it as a yoke).

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

A bit of math from it:

The median income in the US is $25,149, according to the Census Bureau. An annual 6.2 percent of that would be $1,559, just a bit more than $100 per month. Putting that amount into a Roth IRA from age 21 until age 65 with an 8 percent return gives you a tax-free nest egg of $601,000, or about 43 years of the average Social Security benefit of $13,860 cited in Kennedy's column. The average yearly return after 44 years would be more than three times that average Social Security benefit, and it's tax-free. A 5 percent rate of return nets you almost a quarter-million dollars. To paraphrase the credit card commercial, what do you want in your wallet?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 12, 2011 | 6:32 p.m.

JohnS: I believe an employee should receive a check for EVERY single dime owed him/her...including the employer's SS contribution.

And then that employee should start writing checks to ALL gov't agencies owed money.

We all would be better citizens and stewards.

Regardless of income.

(Report Comment)
Matthew Schacht December 13, 2011 | 12:47 p.m.

Hi. Thank you for the comments on this story. I'm a reporter with the Columbia Missourian who visited the Boston Occupy camp over Thanksgiving. I would like to share what I know about the Boston protestors to help inform the debate.

While Mr. Miller's criticisms of occupy protestors may be true in some cities, they don't describe what I saw in Boston.

I'll go through a list of first-hand observations and information I gathered from news accounts about the Boston protestors.

1) The Boston occupiers had a list of specific demands for their movement. One of them was to increase the capital gains tax, which can serve as a loophole for the wealthy. This is the kind of "redistribution of wealth" that they sought.

2) The protestors did not see themselves as asking for handouts from the government. Rather, they sought "justice" for homeowners, the unemployed, the poor etc. Furthermore, their camp was providing food and shelter for the homeless. In these ways, the protestors were doing the community a service.

3) While breaking a few city ordinances by occupying the park, the protestors tried to comply with all substantive municipal safety and health rules. For instance, they put smoke detectors in their tents and tried to bring in an industrial sink, which the city ironically forbid.

4) Everything I've seen of the Boston protestors has been non-violent. When police evicted them from Dewey Square a few days ago, the protestors sat in front of heavy machinery and used their human microphone technique to keep calm. There was no physical aggression. The protestors even advocated good etiquette, such as how to behave in legal proceedings, how to dress appropriately for court etc.

5) The City of Boston estimated that the cost of re-landscaping the occupied park from $40,000 to $60,000. While this is a chunk of change, the city appeared eager to pay the cost. For instance, the protestors were evicted around 5 a.m. and by noon that day the park had already been re-landscaped.

Whether re-landscaping was really for the public is questionable. This particular park sits at an intersection of two major streets in Boston's financial district where thousands of automobiles pass every day. According to one observer, it's not a park where families go for picnics, but a place most people pass on their daily commute. To some protestors this suggests that the park's renovation and city's expenditure wasn't simply about improving a public space but was also a tactic to block them from returning to the square.

This is the information I have on the Boston occupy movement. While Mr. Miller's general criticisms about the occupy movement are valid, they don't seem to apply all occupy protestors.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 13, 2011 | 2:55 p.m.

Matthew Schacht - Was it you that provided the link to the Boston Occupier? They provided a gathering of 10 demands that the publication decided should be favored by most occupiers (if they ever did decide on solid reasons for their mess), I, no lawyer, guessed possibly half would be unconstitutional. Have you ever considered that condition in regard to their demands?

I am retired, have been decimated by this recession along with everyone else excepting of course the Obamas, Geithners, Summers and progressive liberals in Congress, which paved the way for those on Wall St. You now enlighten us with "1) The Boston occupiers had a list of specific demands for their movement. One of them was to increase the capital gains tax, which can serve as a loophole for the wealthy. This is the kind of "redistribution of wealth" that they sought."

I pay capital gains tax, both short and long term in the Mutual Funds that I own, that keep me financially afloat. I may be closer to the 1% at the bottom of the 99% than with the "wealthy" you and occupy are so concerned with at the top. Somehow, I suppose you have not been made aware of the over 50% of American families that are now and have long been involved in the stock market. This would probably hold true for most of the other benefits of capitalism that you and they believe are reserved for the rich.

I hope that your intention is to be objective and that you only need to try a little harder .

(Report Comment)
Joy Mayer December 13, 2011 | 4:34 p.m.

@Frank, I'd love to know what browser and operating system you're using, so I can look further into the blue screen phenomenon. Could you email that info to me? mayerj@missouri.edu

Joy Mayer
Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle December 13, 2011 | 6:23 p.m.

Thank you Matthew Schacht: "This is the information I have on the Boston occupy movement."

A friend of mine visited with the Chicago OWS and had much the same to say. You and he actually visited with these people; Col. Miller, I presume, Googled and vented. And yet the majority of the good ol'boys club here on the forum overwhelmingly support the good Col's. view. Odd.

Thank you for offering an evidence-based perspective.

(Report Comment)

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