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Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income

Thursday, December 15, 2011 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 4:02 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Zenobia Bechtol, 18, and her 7-month-old baby girl Cassandra, live in the dining room of her mother's apartment in Austin, Texas, after Bechtol and her boyfriend were evicted from their apartment after he lost his job. Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans — 1 in 2 — have now fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low-income. The latest census data paint a bleak picture of a shrinking middle class amid persistently high unemployment and a fraying government safety net.

WASHINGTON — Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

The latest census data depict a middle class that's shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government's safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.

"Safety net programs such as food stamps and tax credits kept poverty from rising even higher in 2010, but for many low-income families with work-related and medical expenses, they are considered too 'rich' to qualify," said Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor who specializes in poverty.

"The reality is that prospects for the poor and the near poor are dismal," he said. "If Congress and the states make further cuts, we can expect the number of poor and low-income families to rise for the next several years."

Congressional Republicans and Democrats are sparring over legislation that would renew a Social Security payroll tax cut, part of a year-end political showdown over economic priorities that could also trim unemployment benefits, freeze federal pay and reduce entitlement spending.

Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, questioned whether some people classified as poor or low-income actually suffer material hardship. He said that while safety-net programs have helped many Americans, they have gone too far, citing poor people who live in decent-size homes, drive cars and own wide-screen TVs.

"There's no doubt the recession has thrown a lot of people out of work and incomes have fallen," Rector said. "As we come out of recession, it will be important that these programs promote self-sufficiency rather than dependence and encourage people to look for work."

Mayors in 29 cities say more than 1 in 4 people needing emergency food assistance did not receive it. Many middle-class Americans are dropping below the low-income threshold — roughly $45,000 for a family of four — because of pay cuts, a forced reduction of work hours or a spouse losing a job. Housing and child-care costs are consuming up to half of a family's income.

States in the South and West had the highest shares of low-income families, including Arizona, New Mexico and South Carolina, which have scaled back or eliminated aid programs for the needy. By raw numbers, such families were most numerous in California and Texas, each with more than 1 million.

The struggling Americans include Zenobia Bechtol, 18, in Austin, Texas, who earns minimum wage as a part-time pizza delivery driver. Bechtol and her 7-month-old baby were recently evicted from their bedbug-infested apartment after her boyfriend, an electrician, lost his job in the sluggish economy.

After an 18-month job search, Bechtol's boyfriend now works as a waiter and the family of three is temporarily living with her mother.

"We're paying my mom $200 a month for rent, and after diapers and formula and gas for work, we barely have enough money to spend," said Bechtol, a high school graduate who wants to go to college. "If it weren't for food stamps and other government money for families who need help, we wouldn't have been able to survive."

About 97.3 million Americans fall into a low-income category, commonly defined as those earning between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level, based on a new supplemental measure by the Census Bureau that is designed to provide a fuller picture of poverty. Together with the 49.1 million who fall below the poverty line and are counted as poor, they number 146.4 million, or 48 percent of the U.S. population. That's up by 4 million from 2009, the earliest numbers for the newly developed poverty measure.

The new measure of poverty takes into account medical, commuting and other living costs. Doing that helped push the number of people below 200 percent of the poverty level up from 104 million, or 1 in 3 Americans, that was officially reported in September.

Broken down by age, children were most likely to be poor or low-income — about 57 percent — followed by seniors over 65. By race and ethnicity, Hispanics topped the list at 73 percent, followed by blacks, Asians and non-Hispanic whites.

Even by traditional measures, many working families are hurting.

Following the recession that began in late 2007, the share of working families who are low income has risen for three straight years to 31.2 percent. That proportion is the highest in at least a decade, up from 27 percent in 2002, according to a new analysis by the Working Poor Families Project and the Population Reference Bureau, a nonprofit research group based in Washington.

Among low-income families, about one-third were considered poor while the remainder — 6.9 million — earned income just above the poverty line. Many states phase out eligibility for food stamps, Medicaid, tax credit and other government aid programs for low-income Americans as they approach 200 percent of the poverty level.

The majority of low-income families — 62 percent — spent more than one-third of their earnings on housing, surpassing a common guideline for what is considered affordable. By some census surveys, child-care costs consume close to another one-fifth.

Paychecks for low-income families are shrinking. The inflation-adjusted average earnings for the bottom 20 percent of families have fallen from $16,788 in 1979 to just under $15,000, and earnings for the next 20 percent have remained flat at $37,000. In contrast, higher-income brackets had significant wage growth since 1979, with earnings for the top 5 percent of families climbing 64 percent to more than $313,000.

A survey of 29 cities conducted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors being released Thursday points to a gloomy outlook for those on the lower end of the income scale.

Many mayors cited the challenges of meeting increased demands for food assistance, expressing particular concern about possible cuts to federal programs such as food stamps and WIC, which assists low-income pregnant women and mothers. Unemployment led the list of causes of hunger in cities, followed by poverty, low wages and high housing costs.

Across the 29 cities, about 27 percent of people needing emergency food aid did not receive it. Kansas City, Mo., Nashville, Tenn., Sacramento, Calif., and Trenton, N.J., were among the cities that pointed to increases in the cost of food and declining food donations, while Mayor Michael McGinn in Seattle cited an unexpected spike in food requests from immigrants and refugees, particularly from Somalia, Burma and Bhutan.

Among those requesting emergency food assistance, 51 percent were in families, 26 percent were employed, 19 percent were elderly and 11 percent were homeless.

"People who never thought they would need food are in need of help," said Mayor Sly James of Kansas City, Mo., who co-chairs a mayors' task force on hunger and homeless.


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Comments

Jimmy Bearfield December 15, 2011 | 7:50 a.m.

If you want to avoid living in poverty, one way is by not having a child when you're 1) unmarried and 2) a teenager.

Those of you who advocate higher taxes -- whether just on "the rich" or for everyone -- please take these kinds of people into your home and provide for them. After a few months, let's see if you're still saying, "I don't mind paying a little more in taxes."

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 15, 2011 | 7:55 a.m.

Half? Yes. Over the last 2 years, we've heard constant reminders about this, by indignant taxpaying conservatives who are jealous of the half of the population that pays no federal income taxes. This is *why* they aren't liable for federal income taxes - they don't make enough money to begin with.

On the other side of the spectrum, we keep hearing that some 60% of the wealthiest are liberal democrats. Poor conservatives just can't get a break on either end, can they?

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 15, 2011 | 8:46 a.m.

"This is *why* they aren't liable for federal income taxes - they don't make enough money to begin with."

Not necessarily. You can make more than the national median and still qualify for enough deductions and credits -- such as mortgage interest, kids and college -- to wipe out your federal liability. That's why Congress won't peg the AMT to inflation: It needs a way to reach deep into the middle class to recover at least some of the income tax revenue that otherwise would be lost to deductions and credits.

As for the rest, if they don't like living in poverty, then they need to do something about it. One way is by not having children when you can't even support yourself. Not everyone in poverty is handicapped to the point that they absolutely cannot work.

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks December 15, 2011 | 9:35 a.m.

Another sign to prepare your family or self for the coming unrest. The more people rely on the govt the bigger the destruction when the govt can not longer pay for these peoples needs. When the food stamps stop coming and the housing is not paid people will take to the streets and take or destroy what other have out of fear or jealousy or desperation.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 15, 2011 | 9:49 a.m.

"Zenobia Bechtol, 18, and her seven-month-old baby girl Cassandra, live in the dining room of her mother's apartment in Austin, Texas after Bechtol and her boyfriend...."
________________________

I'm trying to count all the poor life's decisions in this phrase.....

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 15, 2011 | 10:35 a.m.

"When the food stamps stop coming and the housing is not paid people will take to the streets and take or destroy what other have out of fear or jealousy or desperation."

It's not too hard to figure out which neighborhoods they'll hit first. Broadway will be a Maginot Line when it comes to keeping them out of the Old Southwest and the Grasslands.

(Report Comment)
Greg Allen December 15, 2011 | 10:53 a.m.

Mr. Williams: you forgot to include in your thinking that both Zenobia and her boyfriend are working, albeit in lower-paying jobs (his electrician job was lost due to the economy, not through his poor choices or behaviors), and paying rent to her mother until they can get it going better again. It's frustrating and sad when people imply that if you're poor it's your own fault. There are bigger forces than an individual's decisions at work. I know people who have been looking for a job for months. It's not like they're not trying.

'When you do these things (care for the poor, the elderly, the sick, visit people in prison) for them, you are doing them for Me.'

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 15, 2011 | 10:54 a.m.

@ Michael Williams:

Could it be that the little girl's given name ("Cassandra") is fortuitous? "Calamity" might have been a good alternative.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 15, 2011 | 11:21 a.m.

Greg, are you implying that she was raped? If not, then their decision to have a child at such a young age is a major reason for their plight. It's like dropping out of high school and then going on welfare -- as is the case with 40% of TANF recipients.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 15, 2011 | 12:27 p.m.

I posted a quote from Teddy R on a different thread, but it works here to.

If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your troubles you wouldn't sit for a month.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 15, 2011 | 1:13 p.m.

Greg Allen says, "...It's frustrating and sad when people imply that if you're poor it's your own fault."
_____________________

I'm aware there are uncontrollable events that happen to folks. I'm also aware there are events that should have been controlled. The latter far outweigh the former.

Fact: Getting pregnant at 17 out of wedlock (i.e., without that commitment society has, for eons, decided was best for family health) and "living with" a boyfriend are simply NOT conducive to a good start at financial health, mental health, family health, and career. These are BAD decisions on both his/her parts. Those bad decisions should NOT have been made. I don't care how-or-if you wish to argue this point in sympathy to ANY individual, you would be wrong most of the time for most individuals.

All the time? No. But most of the time...yes.

Folks hurt by events beyond their control deserve assistance. Folks hurt by events WITHIN their control deserve a chance, but if the strategies for their decision-making do not change with that assistance, then most of society will leave them to their own devices.

My ONLY point: That phrase in the Missourian included so many faulty decisions that helped lead the family to this plight. They are not innocent any more than ANY of us are in living with the consequences of decisions that should have been good ones, but weren't for reasons of our own choice.

It's a poor start.

(Report Comment)
David Sautner December 15, 2011 | 1:16 p.m.

If I remember correctly Columbia was like Disneyland before this depression (It is hardly a recession). Rent was low and jobs were plentifull. It's not like that anymore.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 15, 2011 | 1:22 p.m.

Greg also says, "...his electrician job was lost due to the economy, not through his poor choices or behaviors..."
______________________

I have no idea if what I have to say applies to this particular young man, but your sentence does give me an opportunity to discuss the more general topic of: When layoffs come, who goes?"

After years of business, and observing others in business, I can state with certainty that if you are NOT within the core group of people the company will need once business improves, you will be on the list for getting laid off. Chronically late for work or argumentative? You're on the list. Not trying to improve and get promoted? You're on the list. Gossip about the boss or coworkers? You're on the list. Gripe? You're on the list. Not getting yourself into a critical position? You're on the list. Most of your sick days are on Monday or Friday? You're on the list. Not REALLY important to the upcoming start-up when business prospects improve?

You're on the list.

There's lots more; the point is....if you're not part of the all-important critical core essential to a restart....you're on the list.

(Report Comment)
Greg Allen December 15, 2011 | 1:26 p.m.

I did present a point of view that wasn't being expressed here and didn't express anything on the other side... it always attracts comments.

It's just that I was reading these comments just before Christmas and hearing in my mind, "Are there no prisons? Are there no poorhouses?"

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 15, 2011 | 1:50 p.m.

Greg: Good decision-making is not wedded to a calendar.

(Report Comment)
Richard Saunders December 15, 2011 | 1:56 p.m.

Funny how the number one cause of poverty is not even mentioned in the article or comments, which is the inflation tax created by the not-Federal, not-Reserve banking system which has replaced sound money with debt in the form of IOUs. This system serves to undermine savings continuously while encouraging taking on debt (as it's always repaid with depreciating dollars over time).

US Currency (which died along with Kennedy and his silver certificates) was defined by the Constitution as ONLY gold or silver, while the dollar itself was defined as specific measurement of silver. Why? Because being natural elements, they cannot be counterfeited by politicized banking interests, like "Fed" notes are today.

While the price of everything rises over time as measured in dollars, the same is not true of sound money. While there is always fluctuations in purchasing power (reflecting demand for money vs. demand for everything else), these are far smaller and tend to balance out over time, as they are rooted in naturally occurring ratios. My favorite example is to look at the price of gas in 1964 (last year of silver coinage) to the price today. Guess what? That same silver quarter that bought a gallon back then, will buy two gallons today.

Meanwhile, with "Fed" notes, they lose purchasing power each and every day, as the financial world has overwhelmed and destroyed the productive world, using the flow of dollars to transfer all wealth to them. Just look at how much has been created since 1980. http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/ser...

Notice also, how that chart line is increasingly getting steeper. It doesn't take much of a background in math to realize that this is NOT sustainable (even without considering the cost of debt service).

If things continue along the path they're going, the private, undisclosed banks who comprise the "Fed" will end up owning all of the assets in the entire world not claimed by the other governments or their (private) central banks.

In other words, private ownership of ALL THINGS is coming to an end except for the bankers, and their stooges in government. Jon Corzine recently stole billions and collapsed the commodity futures market, leaving farmers, for instance, unable to purchase seed for next spring, as they've had their entire account balances stolen and pledged to JP Morgan. (Corzine is testifying total ignorance as I type.)

As always, DC is the problem, NEVER the solution.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 15, 2011 | 2:23 p.m.

Somebody help me out with this sentence from the story:

Following the recession that began in late 2007, the share of working families who are low income has risen for three straight years to 31.2 percent, or 10.2 million.
__________________

If 31.2%, or 10.2 million, of all working families are low income, then the total number of working families in the US is 10.2MM divided by 0.312 equals 32.7 million.

Is this correct? There are only 32.7 million working families in a nation of 300 million?

Am I reading this wrong? Or is the sentence poorly written?

Help.

(Report Comment)
Joy Mayer December 15, 2011 | 2:43 p.m.

@Michael — thanks for pointing that out. We're checking with the Associated Press and will update shortly.

Joy Mayer
Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 15, 2011 | 2:51 p.m.

Joy: The problem could be with the definition of "working families".

If "working families" is defined as two or more people in a family working, then that category would be a subset of "all workers".

If so, then the sentence can be misleading. A person could easily interpret it as saying 31.2% of all families in the US are low income. That's what I interpreted and, since that seemed unreasonably high given my other sources of info, that's why I questioned it.

Looking forward to your clarification from the AP and you.

(Report Comment)
Ed Lane December 15, 2011 | 2:53 p.m.

That "hopey-changy" is really working isn't it?????

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 15, 2011 | 2:55 p.m.

Joy - Sorry to interrupt, but I've sent you two E's and both were returned. I've got three systems but only one gave me the blue screen. I never had thought to check that until you asked. In short I'm now fine. it only happened on the one page and has never happened anywhere else since.
Thanks for your interest.

(Report Comment)
Elizabeth Conner Stephens December 15, 2011 | 3:02 p.m.

Michael:

Here is the report the AP is citing in this story: www.workingpoorfamilies.org/pdfs/policyb...

The report also cites the 10 million figure, but I agree that doesn't seem to add up. Since this is an AP story, we can't verify the reporting, but I'm going to take this figure out of the story.

Thanks for pointing this out.

Elizabeth Conner
Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 15, 2011 | 3:03 p.m.

On my computers, "blue screen" has only happened with articles having large poster interest.

The more the number of posts, the more likely the article will get the blues....about halfway down. The main article and first 25 posts-or-so will be the normal black-on-white printing.

After that, it's black printing on a deep blue background...virtually unreadable unless it is highlighted (drag the cursor across it) as thought you were going to copy it.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 15, 2011 | 3:12 p.m.

Elizabeth: Thanks. I agree...something doesn't add up.

Hopefully this is a definition problem that the article never discusses but perhaps assumed we knew versus misuse of the English language to "make" news rather than report it factually and without bias...i.e., a hidden agenda.

Disclosure: I've personally been bit in the rear end by poor reporting in the past (one of them a Missourian reporter 30 years ago...long elephant-type memory, I guess), so I tend towards the cynical when it comes to newshounds.

(Report Comment)
Joy Mayer December 15, 2011 | 3:29 p.m.

Sure thing, Frank. The email again is mayerj at missouri.edu.

Michael — if you have any info to share about your browser and operating system, it would help me give the tech folks something concrete to look into.

Joy Mayer
Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 15, 2011 | 3:45 p.m.

The article says, "About 97.3 million Americans fall into a low-income category, commonly defined as those earning between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level...Together with the 49.1 million who fall below the poverty line and are counted as poor, they number 146.4 million, or 48 percent of the U.S. population.
_______________________

Further investigation is warranted. We need to know how the poverty line is determined....if it, for example, is automatically set at the lowest 25% of incomes. Further, if "low income" is automatically defined as 100-199% of poverty level, that would set it automatically at an additional 25% of the population.

Added together, you get 50%, or 1 in 2.

INO, with such definition, it is pre-ordained you would calculate a 1 in 2 ratio, leading to an inflammatory header "Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income".

Guess I need a good understanding how "poverty line" is determined.

This whole article is fraught with statistical danger. I'd give the AP a C- or perhaps a D+ for poor writing.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 15, 2011 | 4:07 p.m.

I'm sure my "blue hue" occurred because of number of posts. Doubt anyone would disagree that "J. KARL MILLER: Occupy protest movement is a nuisance" drew more than a few posters and their posts.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 15, 2011 | 4:20 p.m.

Joy Mayer says, "Michael — if you have any info to share about your browser and operating system, it would help me give the tech folks something concrete to look into."
_________________________

Joy. I'm so incredibly techno-savvy, I'm going to give you every bit of information I possess on the topic.

I own a computer that works sometimes.
_________________________

Oh...and I hated Vista so much, I re-installed Windows 95.

Firefox in use.
___________________________

Check with Derrick Fogle. He noz stuff 'bout 'puters, but I hear he's cheap. Prolly can get his advice by gifting him a new hacky-sack for Happy Holidays...er...Christmas.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 15, 2011 | 6:04 p.m.

Get a Mac.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 15, 2011 | 6:20 p.m.

Fries and a shake come with that?

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks December 15, 2011 | 9:35 p.m.

Don't worry I see the blue screen also but only on that one topic as of lately. Not other story in the past month has shown up that way.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 15, 2011 | 10:30 p.m.

Aaaand, obviously, rising poverty rates are the best thing that could happen to the country.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 15, 2011 | 10:53 p.m.

Jon: I read back through all the comments, and I can't find a single poster who inferred such a thing. What prompted the comment?

As for me, I'm simply saying poverty (or staying in poverty) is ofttimes the result of really bad, chronic, personal decisions under the control of the decider.

I'm not a real fan of the "bad DNA" theory. Especially for healthy folks with two seeing eyes and a brain able to discern good strategies from bad ones.

Which all brains and eyes are able to do.

The desire to initiate and implement innate individual ambition and initiative is not the sole property of the wealthy. The day I stop believing that is the day y'all can start calling me a liberal.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking December 16, 2011 | 3:03 a.m.

Um, I don't know if I would consider a family of 4 living on $40,000/year "low income". How many families that are struggling with that kind of income are really separating wants from needs, and planning for future expenses rather than just letting them sneak up on them?

Here's an article that lays a lot of it out:

http://money.msn.com/how-to-budget/artic...

DK

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 16, 2011 | 6:18 a.m.

@ Mark Foecking:

According to MS&T (their current promotional literature) 32% of their students are from household incomes under $40,000. How many people are in those families we don't know, but it's safe to assume more than a few would be families of four.

Also, we don't know the extent of scholarship assistance or loans involved.

But any way you slice it, for most families it's a financial sacrifice to send children to college.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking December 16, 2011 | 6:22 a.m.

@Ellis:

Sure. That's why it's important to plan for these expenses early. Parents generally have 18 years+ to do something about it. Also, taking time to involve themselves deeply in their child's education will greatly increase the possibility of scholarships.

DK

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 16, 2011 | 8:00 a.m.

"I don't know if I would consider a family of 4 living on $40,000/year 'low income.'"

The feds clearly do. That's why, for example, family of four can make up to $63K and qualify for SCHIP. If they live in a state that's received a waiver, the cutoff is even higher.

"That's why it's important to plan for these expenses early. Parents generally have 18 years+ to do something about it."

Exactly. My parents opened a savings account for me when I was a toddler, and all of the money from my birthdays, Christmas and after-school/summer job when into. All of it.

(Report Comment)
Joy Mayer December 16, 2011 | 11:03 a.m.

Frank, Michael and Corey —

Michael, thanks for sharing your browser info. Windows 95 is hard to troubleshoot for! If either of the other two of you can shoot me information about your browser and operating system, it'll give our IT folks a bit more to go on. I'm at mayerj at missouri.edu.

Joy Mayer,
Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 16, 2011 | 11:12 a.m.

Michael Williams said: "Jon: I read back through all the comments, and I can't find a single poster who inferred such a thing. What prompted the comment?"

This is what I infer from the conservative vision of utopia, where receiving government help is bad so long as those receiving help aren't rich--in which case we should apparently mollycoddle them as much as possible, i.e. give them more money so they can make more money. It's pretty strange to me that the ideal society as envisioned by conservatives is one where we avoid living in society as much as we can.

"As for me, I'm simply saying poverty (or staying in poverty) is ofttimes the result of really bad, chronic, personal decisions under the control of the decider."

Do you have any numbers on that? I would hope that "ofttimes" is backed by evidence, otherwise that description is simply conjecture and confirmation bias. The 50% figure in this article might have been exaggerated, but I'm still not buying the claim that whatever percentage of the population that is poor or low-income (which is sizable nonetheless) habitually make bad decisions. Per your own argument, most of us have functioning eyes and brains; why then does only a small percentage of the population make good decisions and the rest of us bad ones, if we're all endowed with the same infrastructure and tools?

"I'm not a real fan of the "bad DNA" theory. Especially for healthy folks with two seeing eyes and a brain able to discern good strategies from bad ones."

What kind of good strategy did the heir to his parents' fortune employ in order to amass that kind of wealth? You seem to be under the impression that laziness and bad decisions are attributes restricted to the lower-income part of the spectrum only. Once again, it simply does not stand to reason that so many of us would consistently make bad decisions if, as you say, we're all equally capable. If nothing else, it appears that bad-decision-makers are the rule and good-decision-makers are the exception; I'm not sure what valuable lessons the rest of us could learn from someone sitting on the periphery of the bell curve.

(Report Comment)
Rob Weir December 16, 2011 | 11:35 a.m.

If you're experiencing a blue screen phenomenon, I'd like to hear about it. Feel free to email me at weirr at missouri.edu or call directly at 573-882-5057. If you're emailing, a screenshot would be fantastic. I'd need to know:

1) what story you're seeing it on
2) exactly what's displaying and what's not displaying
3) the browser and version of the browser you're using (Firefox 8.01, Chrome 16.0.2, Safari 5.0.5, Internet Explorer 9.0, etc.)
4) the operating system and version you're using (Windows XP, Windows 7, Mac OS 10.6.8, etc.)

Thanks, Rob

Rob Weir
Director of Digital Development
The Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 16, 2011 | 11:45 a.m.

Jimmy Bearfield:

"Exactly. My parents opened a savings account for me when I was a toddler, and all of the money from my birthdays, Christmas and after-school/summer job when into. All of it."

But a lot of people can't do this. I've never considered myself poor, even though I did live on $9/hr for ~3 years. It sure helped that I had no kids to take care of and got lucky with university scholarships, otherwise I'd be singing an entirely different tune today. Once I finally found a decent job, my first paycheck effectively doubled what I had in the bank at the time, and it took me the whole 3 years to save that much, living a very frugal lifestyle and pinching pennies like no other.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 16, 2011 | 11:59 a.m.

"Do you have any numbers on that? I would hope that 'ofttimes' is backed by evidence, otherwise that description is simply conjecture and confirmation bias."

Forty percent of welfare recipients didn't graduate high school: www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/data-report...

"it appears that bad-decision-makers are the rule and good-decision-makers are the exception."

They do appear to be very close to the rule, judging by the fact that nearly half of all infants and about one-quarter of all children 1-4 years were on WIC in 2002: www.ers.usda.gov/publications/fanrr27/fa.... No doubt those amounts have increased as too many people choose to have children when they can't support themselves.

"But a lot of people can't do this."

Why not? I grew up lower middle class, and we did it. I also continued to work and save during college and grad school. I finished both with zero debt and never took out a student loan. I practice what I preach.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush December 16, 2011 | 12:24 p.m.

Tell me more about
Your chronic health conditions
And hospital stays.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 16, 2011 | 12:29 p.m.

Jon: Do you have any numbers on that?
___________________

Yeah, starting with the 2 "adults" in this article.

And supplemented by the thousands of people I've known over the years, poor, not-so-poor, and wealthy. I've seen the horrible habits formed from "Do I study, or go out for a beer?", or "Do I search for a spouse in a bar, or some other place with a not-so-target-rich spousal environment", or "Do I follow my peers in this shoplifting experience, or not?". I've had employees call me at 3 am a week after their hire and want me to cosign a bail bond for a DWI.

All are lost unless they experience some sort of secular "come to jesus" moment.

And I've seen minority kids on my daughter's track team that had awful home lives out on the track and in the classrooms making great decisions every day....that are "making it" successfully in this world. I've seen employees busting their humps each and every day, progressing in their careers. I've seen people pay themselves first each month, even if only 5 bucks contributed to their nest egg.

Daily, even hourly, small decisions are cumulative in the contribution to good life-long habits. Make a bunch of crappy decisions and when the big decision comes along such an individual will without fail make the poorer one.

Are all poor people also poor decision makers? Absolutely not. But, many are. And until liberals start making distinctions between the two groups and stop shotgunning reasons why folks are in that category (i.e., it's not their fault), I remain unsympathetic to liberal generalized "support" programs.

Why do some folks make good decisions and others not, even though all have good brains and two good eyes?

Mainly lack of self-control and discipline....both of which are within a person's innate capacity.

I figure the greatest insult I can convey to fellow humans is to believe in your "bad DNA" explanation.

I won't do that. But, if I ever do, you are free to call me a progressive.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 16, 2011 | 12:29 p.m.

There are lots of chronic health conditions that are due to poor choices. Diabetes due to obesity is a major one.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 16, 2011 | 1:07 p.m.

Jimmy: Gregg will not believe that a distinction is made between those in ill health due (truly) to no fault of their own (drunk driver hitting them, congenital problem, mental problems, etc.) versus those who have choices and habitually make the wrong ones.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 16, 2011 | 1:20 p.m.

Jon says, "What kind of good strategy did the heir to his parents' fortune employ in order to amass that kind of wealth?"
_____________________

Given this comment and those from others, I'm beginning to think progressives believe every person rich today got that way via an inheritance.

Quite frankly, I'm not a fan of someone who inherited well-earned family wealth and then rested on their laurels. I expect such folks to use that wealth to create more wealth for themselves and others. This is why I had so little respect for the Kennedy's, a sentiment not shared by liberals simply because the rich Kennedys paid proper lip service and "sympathy".

Most wealthy folks have strategies that helped them make their wealth. I wish I'd have learned more of them earlier in life. In retrospect, that 2 year stint as a McGovern democrat probably slowed me down a bit.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush December 16, 2011 | 2:17 p.m.

What you think you know
About me is a tome of
Ignorance, you two.

But I would expect
Nothing else. I'll still care for
You victim blamers.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 16, 2011 | 2:37 p.m.

Gregg: Your own words accurately tell much. That's what words do.

If you are being accurate.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 16, 2011 | 2:46 p.m.

@Gregg
The only way we will know more about you is if you have a conversation with us instead of writing poetry that all means virtually the same thing except with different words ad nauseum...

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 16, 2011 | 2:59 p.m.

I posted this on the part two thread...
Please check out The harlem Childrens Zone.
It is the only program I know of that has been able to break the cycle successfully. They do this by addressing the problems in the family and the community instead of just looking at the school. Because the problem is with the families and the community.

In the words of the director, " ...directly taking on the problems of inadequate parenting and the cultural disadvantages of a ghetto home life. Fix the schools without fixing the families and the community, and children will fail."

Contrary to what young Jon my think about people in poverty, most have fallen in to the cycle because our government has told them from day one that you can do nothing and we will take care of you. All of the feelings of hope for a better life have to come from within and from the family and the community. If the kid has a bad home life and is told by those that lead him through life that he has no chance and the deck is stacked against him and they way of life for us is to collect your check on the first and "hustle" for whatever else you want, he is going to have a much lower chance of success than someone who is surrounded by positive messages of hope for the future. Blaming the parents doesn't solve the problem on it's own, but it is the first step as it correctly identifies the problem...

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 16, 2011 | 3:10 p.m.

@Gregg
There isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank God that I was born in to the family that I was. Not because we were blue blooded one percenters. My parents were the first generation of our family to go to college. Both of my parents were raised in families that would easily qualify for assistance today.
BUT, I was always (and thankfully they were too...) raised as if there is no other way to live than to work hard for what you want. That if you do work hard and get a good education then you will be successful and will have choices in life. Clearly it was these things that my parents taught me that led me to where I am today and not bags of money lying around the house as that wasn't a part of my childhood...

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 16, 2011 | 5:40 p.m.

The certainty with which you all express opinions as if they were fact is quite amusing. All I'm seeing here is mere conjecture based on pre-conceived (and wrong) ideas about human reality, coupled with "evidence" that's really just more conjecture, only massaged to make it look like it fits the argument.

Michael Williams:

1. Just as last time, anectodal evidence =/= evidence. Unless you can prove that the "thousands" you've "met" comprise a statistically significant, representative sample of America, the collection of mere glimpses into these people's lives do not give you the insight you think you have in order to draw sweeping conclusions about the entire lives of millions of people all over the country.

2. I thought we had already established in the other discussion that your concept of "two or three important decisions" doesn't hold any water, as we cannot know beforehand which decisions are important, and we cannot know beforehand whether our decisions will be good or bad.

mike mentor: "Contrary to what young Jon my think about people in poverty, most have fallen in to the cycle because our government has told them from day one that you can do nothing and we will take care of you. "

Read the first paragraph. You have absolutely zero evidence for this, and I'm sure that if you were to look for it you would be surprised by the results. As in, notice how most countries in Western Europe are considerably more "socialist" than the US yet also fare better than the US in any relevant measure of human and societal well-being.

Jimmy Bearfield: Read the first paragraph. Nice attempt to provide evidence, but we should note that the conclusions you're drawing do not follow from the numbers. As in, the apparent correlation between welfare recipients and their level of education does not allow you to state that their current situation is their fault. Also, by your own argument, most of these infants and children on WIC now will also have been just lazy bums if their lives fail to improve by the time they reach adulthood, ignoring the pretty obvious fact that the deck had been stacked against them from the start.

I find it quite disconcerting that so many people apparently really believe that we're all born with the same opportunities in life and that those who fail are entirely responsible for their failures. This is simply untrue on many levels. For one, there's no evidence so far to suggest that we even have free will, despite our eagerness to ascribe this mythical quality to ourselves. This alone should dispense with the idea that we control our destiny, and yet it doesn't. We're not the authors of our thoughts so much as the victims thereof, and just as it would make no sense to hold someone responsible for their lactose intolerance, it's also nonsensical to hold someone responsible for their brain's architecture and the results it produces.

(Report Comment)
Ken Geringer December 16, 2011 | 5:56 p.m.

Jonathan, you're talkin' crazy talk.

Please, don't do it again.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 16, 2011 | 6:07 p.m.

Jon, I guess you're right on all counts.

DNA is definitely the culprit. Some folks are just plain stupid and incapable of making good decisions most of the time. You should tell them this to their faces. Folks with SDNA genomes (Stupid-DNA) should be pitied and NEVER encouraged to make good decisions because, as you know, the encouragement will never "take". They are unteachable and incapable for the rest of their lives. They are without responsibility. They need taking care of which, I guess, means there needs to be an arrogant class of elitists doing the taking-care-of. We'll call them Progressiberals.

PS: That's just another way of saying, as you so eloquently did in your last post, "...it's also nonsensical to hold someone responsible for their brain's architecture and the results it produces."

You wanna know something that's REALLY "nonsensical".....??? Calling conservatives "classists"

Wow.........

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 16, 2011 | 6:21 p.m.

I second that! To call someone classist could imply somebody having class.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 16, 2011 | 7:36 p.m.

OK JohnS. Let's do an experiment. You go out and find 10 poor folks. Tell them you do not hold them "responsible for their brain's architecture and the results it produces."

Record their verbiage and actions, then get back to us with the results.

If you can.

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 16, 2011 | 7:53 p.m.

So you want to suck me into that argument because I differed from your opinion regarding the use of the word "classist?" OK.

So I take it from your comment that you think someone would be offended if I implied that their fortune or lack thereof might be due to the state of their mind and the decisions rendered by it. But that's just what you did. And that's what you've been doing this whole argument. So if you now differ from that does that mean that there is something other than brainpower and decisions that can make folks poor? It seems that you are thinking so now, but not so much in your past arguments.

And no, I never thought to do such a thing. I would think that would be classist and that I would exude a lack of class for doing such. Maybe you can go tell strangers who look down and out that their situation is due to their lack of good decisions or their ability to make such and tell me your own experiences. You know I've really kept out of this one...

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 16, 2011 | 8:10 p.m.

Ken Geringer: Unfortunately a lot of these only have the abstracts, but it's worth nothing that our early forays into neuroscience so far suggest that free will is indeed an illusion:

http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/...
"It is concluded that cerebral initiation of a spontaneous, freely voluntary act can begin unconsciously, that is, before there is any (at least recallable) subjective awareness that a ‘decision’ to act has already been initiated cerebrally."

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19046...
"The difference between the conventional result and our result suggests that the perception of intention rises through multiple levels of awareness, starting just after the brain initiates movement."

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18952...
"By combining a stop signal paradigm and an intentional action paradigm we show that participants sometimes indicate to have intentionally initiated an action while reaction time data strongly suggest that they in fact failed to stop the action. In a second experiment we demonstrate that the number of trials in which participants misattributed their awareness of intention varied with the intentional involvement during action planning."

http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/~wegner/pdfs/...
"Results showed that (subliminal as well as supraliminal) priming of the position enhanced experienced authorship of stopping the square. Additional experimentation demonstrated that this priming of agency was not mediated by the goal or intention to produce the effect."

http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/...
"The data suggest that the perceived onset of intention depends at least in part on neural activity that takes place after the execution of action, which could not, in principle, have any causal impact on the action itself."

http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110831/f...
"The conscious decision to push the button was made about a second before the actual act, but the team discovered that a pattern of brain activity seemed to predict that decision by as many as seven seconds. Long before the subjects were even aware of making a choice, it seems, their brains had already decided."

And if my "crazy talk" was referring to something else, you're more than welcome to present an argument, instead of yelling from behind those who are making an effort to explain themselves. Last I checked, cheerleading is not a valid form of argument.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 16, 2011 | 8:34 p.m.

Michael Williams: "DNA is definitely the culprit. Some folks are just plain stupid and incapable of making good decisions most of the time. You should tell them this to their faces."

Terrible argument. Go back in time a few thousand years and tell the guy suffering from epilepsy that his seizures are NOT the result of demonology, voodoo, Moloch, the evil eye, et cetera. He'll be just as flabbergasted by such a ludicrous insinuation and just as quick to call you crazy, despite the fact that you would be 100% correct.

"Folks with SDNA genomes (Stupid-DNA) should be pitied and NEVER encouraged to make good decisions because, as you know, the encouragement will never "take". They are unteachable and incapable for the rest of their lives. They are without responsibility. They need taking care of which, I guess, means there needs to be an arrogant class of elitists doing the taking-care-of. We'll call them Progressiberals."

Interestingly enough, you're right, even though obviously you don't believe this yourself. Even rapists and child molesters need help, as a matter of fact, except that our mistaken ideas about human nature have unfortunately ingrained in us the strong impulse for retribution and vengeance we know today as "justice." This is why I fully expect you all to recoil in horror at the suggestion that we should help criminals who suffer from mental problems over which they have no control, as opposed to throwing the book at 'em and letting them rot in jail.

"PS: That's just another way of saying, as you so eloquently did in your last post, "...it's also nonsensical to hold someone responsible for their brain's architecture and the results it produces.""

I was simply going for "true," but I'm glad you also found it eloquent.

"You wanna know something that's REALLY "nonsensical".....??? Calling conservatives "classists"

Wow........."

Yeah, because the huge, non-discrete spectrum of human behavior that necessarily is included in my argument is clearly classism. But it's quite all right; I don't fault you for your bad opinions any more than I would've faulted the pious folk of centuries and millenia past for thinking that they could "cleanse" epilepsy via torture, acid baths, burning, etc.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 16, 2011 | 8:35 p.m.

All this, Jonathan, to prove that we require a socialist dominated government to care for we all? Or, would the care be limited to just those you and yours may decide are in need, say the 99%?

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 16, 2011 | 8:38 p.m.

Michael Williams said: "OK JohnS. Let's do an experiment. You go out and find 10 poor folks. Tell them you do not hold them "responsible for their brain's architecture and the results it produces."

Record their verbiage and actions, then get back to us with the results.

If you can."

I know this wasn't directed at me, but I found it really odd nonetheless that you think telling them "it's not your fault" would be a far graver offense than telling them "it's your fault and you deserve all your misfortunes."

In the spirit of fairness and good science, you go out, find 10 poor folks of your own, and tell them that all their troubles are, in fact, their own doing.

Record their verbiage and actions, then get back to us with the results.

If you can.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 16, 2011 | 9:16 p.m.

Jon says, "...but I found it really odd nonetheless that you think telling them "it's not your fault" would be a far graver offense than telling them "it's your fault and you deserve all your misfortunes."
___________________

Changed the argument a bit, didn't you? Did I say "deserve all your misfortunes?" Or did you do some extrapolating outside the standard curve to a place you wanted to go? So, I won't respond to that particular self-made curve in the road.

However, I'll respond as if you had written, "but I found it really odd nonetheless that you think telling them "it's not your fault" would be a far graver offense than telling them "you made a bunch of really bad decisions that helped lead to this, and those decisions are your fault."
_____________

You may find it odd, but I think saying "it's not your fault" when bad decisions have a defined source of origin and responsibility is pure condescension, an extraordinary insult, and (as you say) a "grave offense". I have no problems whatsoever identifying really bad decisions and, indeed, have done so in the past to myself and others, when appropriate. The word "appropriate" means when I'm asked to bail out the source of a problem caused by a sound mind and body chronically or acutely devoid of courage.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 16, 2011 | 9:21 p.m.

Jon: There's really no reason to continue this. Your words show that you believe no one is responsible for any action, good or bad. Brain architecture dictates all and there is no fault. A helping response is the only concern.

And I don't support that notion.

I won't change and neither will you.

Stalemate. Vote as you will.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 16, 2011 | 9:27 p.m.

Could "Jonathan" be a computer programed only with numbers and quotes, therefore lacking any knowledge or access to the knowledge of the most apparent trait among earth's animals, Human Nature?

For all his beautiful rhetoric and references he can never relate to any individual among this mass of humanity requiring study and of course , control. We may name them, Keynesian, liberal, progressive, etc. Control of the people, to extract the wealth they possess, is the aim of Jonathan's like.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 16, 2011 | 10:02 p.m.

Michael Williams said: "Changed the argument a bit, didn't you? Did I say "deserve all your misfortunes?" [...] However, I'll respond as if you had written, "but I found it really odd nonetheless that you think telling them "it's not your fault" would be a far graver offense than telling them "you made a bunch of really bad decisions that helped lead to this, and those decisions are your fault.""

Nice double standard. Apparently it's OK for you to cast a negative light on my arguments with bloated language such as "Stupid-DNA" and "arrogant class[es] of elitists," but I'm totally out of line returning the favor. Good work there.

"You may find it odd, but I think saying "it's not your fault" when bad decisions have a defined source of origin and responsibility is pure condescension, an extraordinary insult, and (as you say) a "grave offense"."

Actually, they do NOT have a defined source of origin, or at least the source certainly isn't what you think it is. I've at least posted links to peer-reviewed studies published in reputable journals to back my side of the story, whereas all you have so far is more conjecture. The insult here is the sad state of affairs we see today, a large part of which is widespread ignorance. An opinion doesn't mean much when there are facts to be discussed. So, present some facts.

"I have no problems whatsoever identifying really bad decisions and, indeed, have done so in the past to myself and others, when appropriate. The word "appropriate" means when I'm asked to bail out the source of a problem caused by a sound mind and body chronically or acutely devoid of courage."

Define "sound mind and body," and then list whatever credentials you may have that allow you to make such a determination with authority. Or, at the very least provide some sources like I did.

Either way, Merry Christmas to you too.

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson December 16, 2011 | 10:31 p.m.

How will increased public expenditure and public debt (both of which have been ten feet high and rising for a number of years, particularly the last 3, or 10, depending on whether one wants to bash Bush or Obama more) decrease this 1 in 2 ratio mentioned in the article?

Maybe a nice, compassionate, "progressive" haiku will provide the answer to my question.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 16, 2011 | 10:51 p.m.

Tony, I regret to inform you that the below reformatting of a well-known quote is two syllables too long. Darn the luck.

From each according
to his ability, to
each according to his need

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson December 16, 2011 | 11:28 p.m.

That's ok, John. I am not a fan of the insipid notion that there is any virtue whatsoever in limiting one's own communicative output to seventeen symmetrically arranged syllables. The fact that I have engaged in such myself on this site on occasion, well, it was satire.

One can no more adequately express views or debate issues in this format, than with the more popular bumper sticker sloganeering. I have seen both novelty and creativity in both, at times. Ultimately, though, we have to actually hash these things out, orally and in writing, unfettered by artificial limits.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 17, 2011 | 4:27 a.m.

And because I can't sleep once again, I might as well pretend to have found frank's articles compelling:

"Could "Jonathan" be a computer programed only with numbers and quotes, therefore lacking any knowledge or access to the knowledge of the most apparent trait among earth's animals, Human Nature?"

It's amusing that those "numbers and quotes" you criticize are precisely what allow you to ramble to a much larger audience than you would have ever hoped to gather otherwise. I wonder to how deluded you actually are if you really think that "numbers and quotes" are a nuisance. I mean, God forbid we support our claims with facts and statistics, right? Psssh, can't let facts get in the way of sensationalism.

As I told Michael Williams already, I've provided links to actual scientific studies. Where's your proof? What knowledge are you privy to that I've yet to encounter? (*awaits the usual, tired "I'm older than you" argument*). I have no idea how many "liberals" you deal with on a daily basis, but I'm pretty sure you're less familiar with my arguments than I am with yours--to whatever extent they're actually yours, that is. I can just tune in to FOX and hear the same drivel being recited over and over again, after all.

If nothing else, the robot here is you, as you clearly don't read what anyone else says and habitually recycle rhetoric without offering your own thoughts. Do you really think you're the first person to call me a Marxist/communist/socialist/"99%er"? Despite my infrequent references to conservatives, perhaps you should note that I make an effort to respond to your all's actual arguments, often providing near line-by-line rebuttals. Your quick catch-all one-liners, on the other hand, may as well be copy-and-paste jobs given how often you do, in fact, invoke Marxism/communism/socialism/99%-erism to settle any issue (despite your aversion to clarifying what any of these terms even mean). Obviously I'd prefer that you present facts, but nonetheless it would be a huge improvement if you simply provided your own opinion versus mindlessly parroting the same drivel of those before you.

"For all his beautiful rhetoric and references he can never relate to any individual among this mass of humanity requiring study and of course , control."

Once again, so far I'm the only one here who's provided bias-free evidence directly related to the argument. As in, I said "we don't have free will," and then provided links to studies that agree. I've already explained why Jimmy Bearfield's "evidence," commendable as the effort may have been, does not satisfy the requirements. Meanwhile, you continue to say that I'm wrong, and your only "evidence" so far is your opinion.

"We may name them, Keynesian, liberal, progressive, etc. Control of the people, to extract the wealth they possess, is the aim of Jonathan's like."

See above, regarding vacuous blanket statements. And yet apparently I'm still the robot. lol?

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 17, 2011 | 4:58 a.m.

@Tony Robertson:

No one (to my knowledge) has claimed that our government is doing a satisfactory job, but this doesn't change the fact that the rich certainly have the means to ameliorate our current situation. Furthermore, considering that the rich are the ones who've benefited the most from our government's incompetence, it's not unreasonable to expect them to bear a share of the burden.

Just as conservatives would like to think that poor, "lazy" people should get off their butts and help improve the economy by reducing our expenditures on "entitlement" programs, the same argument can be levied against the rich. Does anyone actually think that a good chunk of the country's wealth is being put to better use sitting in the hands of the theoretical 1% as opposed to the theoretical 99%? Perhaps I should note once again that having vast sums of money does not require one at all to invest said money in order to provide any kind of service to anyone else. I can always just cash in my chips and forget about everyone else, in the same way anyone else can do should they win the lottery.

http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/...

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle December 17, 2011 | 8:22 a.m.

Actually, I wonder if FC may indeed be a form of artificial intelligence, programmed to spout accusations of liberalism, socialism, etc., as a "fail-safe" mode when challenged by arguments too complex for current AI engineering capabilities. The programmer: well, there's this fellow Col. Miller...

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush December 17, 2011 | 9:14 a.m.

More like: working just
For myself, or promoting
General welfare.

One may recognize
A bit from The Preamble.
You guys make me laugh.

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson December 17, 2011 | 9:27 a.m.

Why, of course. No one can be community-minded, compassionate, giving, helpful, charitable, or caring, to those less fortunate, without running more of their income through the federal budget. Everybody knows that, seventeen syllables or no.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 17, 2011 | 10:34 a.m.

Jon H. - You are now and have been, since you first appeared to most of us, engaging in the game I call "dueling intellects" You produce all the studies and reports possible that relate to your position that humanity will never find a life worth living unless a means is found to subtract wealth from "rich" and "distribute" it among it the "poor". Then the opponent is required to present everything they can post to prove you wrong. Marx, Stalin, Castro, Mao all found the "way" and up until now you would endorse the means heartily. Control the Government! Even those fighting for reparation dollars to blacks from whites because of slavery decided the money should be given to government to spend on improved education for Black people.

Your sage writer, Sam Harris, provides the same sad tale to those shallow enough consider this broken record worthy of the waste of reading him. Every liberal, recites each of our problems in lengthy detail then "cuts to the chase"! "American opposition to the “redistribution of wealth” has achieved the luster of a religious creed." He earnestly implores that we must "favor" redistribution at some point suggests that Gates and Buffet might raise 1T$ then spend it on Education and Clean Energy!

This, while dismissing the call for "self reliance" as a "religious fetish". Written this time last year, the piece indicates a need for 1T$, while 5T$ is being added to our U.S. debt with much of it assigned for those great issues. Gosh, I used numbers and quotes as well, didn't I?

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush December 17, 2011 | 10:41 a.m.

Thinking those are the
Only options? And haikus
Are too limiting?

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 17, 2011 | 12:05 p.m.

"artificial intelligence, programmed to spout accusations of liberalism, socialism, etc., as a "fail-safe" mode when challenged by arguments too complex for current AI engineering capabilities. The programmer: well, there's this fellow Col. Miller..."

Another implausible statement from one among those seemingly shackled with the implausible, to make their product, progressive liberalism seem reasonable. I have been espousing opposition to the "movement", "religion"? since LB Johnson became President. Last time I heard, Col. Miller was only about 70.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 17, 2011 | 9:13 p.m.

And then, there's welfare for the rich...
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/did-fed-qu...

...but hey, as long the ones getting money aren't teenage moms, $30B is counted in the "job creation" column. Right?

Speaking of poor decisions... wait, no... you can see that Obama has clearly recruited the best, brightest, and most successful Americans to lead and advise his administration:
http://thinkmarkets.files.wordpress.com/...

I wonder why the Main Street economy is still in the toilet, with all these hard working, successful people at the helm?

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 17, 2011 | 9:22 p.m.

@Tim: I call dibs on being the first one to use the term, "FrankBot" in reference to the internet's CleverBot:

Derrick Fogle November 3, 2011 | 7:59 p.m.
"I've found the FrankBot mildly amusing..."

You can decide for yourself which is a more worthy companion for discussion:
http://cleverbot.com/

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 17, 2011 | 11:19 p.m.

"I wonder why the Main Street economy is still in the toilet, with all these hard working, successful people at the helm?"

Because they are all - crooks! Try to sort out this definition, then post it next to "Obama has clearly recruited the best, brightest, and most successful Americans to lead and advise his administration:" Better stand back, as we know explosions can cause injuries.

Why would one searching for someone to correspond with on this public venue need to turn to the other, known always to have to explain the real meaning of the words he wrote, suggest a new venue to contradict truths established by Frank? Go ahead, I bet it would be fun!

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 17, 2011 | 11:20 p.m.

I think it's hilarious that he cobbled together another mish-mash of generic anti-left propaganda after calling out his infatuation with generic anti-left propaganda.

Perhaps the software engineer responsible for the frank christian program messed up big time on the while loop.

;define variables
Dim people_with_common_sense As Integer

;define frank christian post conditions
While (people_with_common_sense >= 0)
{
printf ("generic drivel\n")
}

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 18, 2011 | 8:48 a.m.

"Obama has clearly recruited the best, brightest, and most successful Americans to lead and advise his administration:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/e...

Will these fit into df's list of elite? They surely must, remember the Dodd, Frank (two more)Financial Reform Act, signed by Obummer left these "dens of iniquity",Fannie/Freddie, intact except for extended ability to procure more taxpayer money. Just what we needed, Huh, guys?

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 18, 2011 | 5:24 p.m.

"I find it quite disconcerting that so many people apparently really believe that we're all born with the same opportunities in life and that those who fail are entirely responsible for their failures."

Many of us weren't born with the same opportunities, such as me, who grew up lower middle class, and the immigrants who come here with nothing and build mini empires of convenience stores or hotels. I really don't care about the struggles of those who refuse to live responsibly and work hard. I am confident that you'll open your home and wallet to them and then never pass judgement on their choices, no matter how lazy or selfish.

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 18, 2011 | 6:18 p.m.

"I am confident that you'll open your home and wallet to them"

Exactly why the establishment of basic safeguards is not being left to the private sector.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 18, 2011 | 9:27 p.m.

John, are you implying that Jonathan, Gregg and others aren't willing to put more of their money where their mouths are?

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 18, 2011 | 10:14 p.m.

Jimmy, are you implying that the rich people you're defending have nothing to gain from providing more people with more opportunities, and just as importantly, that they have nothing to lose from not doing so?

Like I mentioned before, utopia as defined by conservatives appears to be a society that least resembles society, i.e. a place where selfishness reigns supreme and everyone looks out only after themselves, irrespective of everyone around them. Under this model we may as well all live in shacks in the middle of nowhere, as apparently our own futures aren't (and shouldn't be) even remotely dependent on anyone else.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking December 19, 2011 | 7:47 a.m.

Jonathan Hopfenblatt wrote:

"are you implying that the rich people you're defending have nothing to gain from providing more people with more opportunities, and just as importantly, that they have nothing to lose from not doing so?"

Actually that's pretty much the whole problem. Investments that make jobs are less attractive here compared to overseas.

Say Apple wanted to be a "responsible corporate citizen" and set up its own assembly operation in the US, using prevailing wage workers. I think we both know they'd be out of business in a short time - their production costs would be several times what they are in China and they'd have to pass that along to their customers.

Rich people stay rich by making wise investments. The big problem is that wise investments don't make many jobs here. I haven't seen a good private sector solution. Have you?

DK

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush December 19, 2011 | 9:10 a.m.

Impugning my life -
A revelation of your
Willful ignorance.

Your claim was addressed;
Although, all looks like a nail
When you're a hammer.

So keep ringing that
Bell - you've definitely found
Your bliss, as they say.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 19, 2011 | 9:50 a.m.

I have "blue screen" on the piece, "Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income" It began on 18th and persists.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 19, 2011 | 11:53 a.m.

"Like I mentioned before, utopia as defined by conservatives appears to be a society that least resembles society, i.e. a place where selfishness reigns supreme and everyone looks out only after themselves, irrespective of everyone around them."

You can't get much more selfish than choosing to have one or more kids when you can't even support yourself and then expecting everyone else to provide for you and them out of pity.

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle December 19, 2011 | 12:27 p.m.

Col. Miller needs to look carefully at the Frankbot program code; the blue screen artifact has appeared again, and it's likely that a line of code associated with "responses to poverty" needs tweaking.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 19, 2011 | 12:44 p.m.

ACTION MAN

I think he lives across the hall
And I don't know him at all
But I have a plan
In it he's the action man.
He shifts across the street
I can't see his feet.
He can save me anytime
From this little life of mine.

I'm wishing, wishing, wishing
Away by my window every day
While he's on a mission.
For a damsel in distress I'm almost
Happy and I guess
I can live without the action man.

He will rocket and skydive
In order to survive.
Catch him if you can
He's the action man.
Never needs a second chance
Brave with big strong hands.
Makes everything OK
Always knows just what to say,
What to say.

I'm wishing... etc.

- Hafdis Huld

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 19, 2011 | 12:49 p.m.

Mark Foecking wrote:

"Actually that's pretty much the whole problem. Investments that make jobs are less attractive here compared to overseas."

I'm not talking about investing in industries heavily reliant on manual labor, which is indeed a big reason why a lot of our jobs are being shipped overseas (along with laxer regulation, obviously). I'm talking about investing in the American citizens themselves, through better education, more opportunities, etc.

Investing overseas to cut back on personnel costs is indeed a problem, but the economy is trending away from manual labor anyway as automation technology improves. But, while our college education may still be a force to be reckoned with worldwide, our K-12 education is becoming increasingly mediocre when compared to the rest of the world. That a lot of American kids nowadays can't even afford college is a big problem in and of itself, but it's also a huge problem that those who CAN afford college are utterly unprepared for the challenge, meaning they either go for the easy majors or drop out/fail altogether.

Like you said, Apple will most likely set up its assembly operations in China and Nicaragua, but they're still gonna want to invest in top-notch scientists and engineers for their R&D divisions to make sure the iPhone and its successors continue to beat out the competition. Where will they be getting these guys from? Anyone who gets hired from within the US is already pretty likely to be an Asian on a work visa, which doesn't bode well for America's future.

We're exporting our manual labor, and importing our "knowledge" labor. If this trend continues, pickings will be even slimmer than they are now as far as jobs go. The rich SHOULD worry about this, because they won't be able to make a whole lot of money if all their job applicants are underqualified for the job, or flat-out incompetent.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 19, 2011 | 1:04 p.m.

Jimmy Bearfield:

"You can't get much more selfish than choosing to have one or more kids when you can't even support yourself and then expecting everyone else to provide for you and them out of pity."

It's easy to spin the verbiage around to support whatever argument we're trying to make. Just as Mark said that the rich stay rich because they make wise investments ("wise" being "not in the US"), from the perspective of a broke person it's also a wise investment to have a kid.

Whereas your already-meager income might still not qualify you for welfare/food stamps because it's a couple of dollars over the limit, having that kid will definitely work in your favor--and sure enough, you might just get those few hundred dollars a month on EBT, WIC, and you might even be able to get in on the Section 8 program.

This might sound "evil-er" to you because it involves toying directly with someone else's life for your own benefit, but the modus operandi at both ends of the spectrum is about the same nonetheless: Increase your wealth at the expense of everyone else.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 19, 2011 | 1:59 p.m.

JonBOT needs a reboot.
That little bit about selfishly having children because you can qualify for more handouts from the rest of us is supposed to be a lie all those rich folk tell about those people that have made excellent choices throughout their lives, but somehow still end up with 14 kids with 10 different fathers and no income of their own to support their kids.

The key difference, or a difference I should say as there are many, is that someone who has a child to qualify for more handouts is dependent on those handouts. They are not creating wealth but using it instead. Those hand outs are coming from people who have made better choices. As the number of people who continue to be rewarded for poor choices increase and those that make good choices are punished in the way of more taxes to pay for the other half decreases, there will be less and less of a tax base to draw "income" from.

I think they give Thatcher the credt for:

The problem with socialism is you eventually run out of other peoples money.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 19, 2011 | 2:15 p.m.

MikeM: The underlying difficulty with this debate concerns "free will" or the non-existence thereof.

You see, if you do not believe in free will, there is no such thing as a "choice". Rather, it's a DNA and brain architecture thingie over which there is no non-coercive control (yet).

There are only predestined "actions" where judgment and responsibility are concepts with no meaning.

Unless there is agreement on "free will" or lack thereof, this conversation goes nowhere. Which is why I lost interest in the topic.

"Blue screen" is back, so I just lost even more interest.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 19, 2011 | 2:31 p.m.

mikeBOT needs to learn the difference between means and ends.

The goal of the rich is to create wealth for themselves first and foremost (and actually, that's about their only goal). It just so happens that it's hard to amass that much wealth by yourself without having to hire those damn employees and pay their damn salaries, which usually means you will also need to buy/rent/build a damn edifice somewhere in which to put all those sorry losers, nevermind all the damn insurance coverage those leeches will invariably demand in order to do their job, nevermind all the damn equipment you'll have to buy and maintain in order for them to do their job.

So, we should at least be honest with ourselves and acknowledge the fact that these guys aren't in business to create wealth for anyone but themselves. If they could make all that money without having to get their hands dirty creating jobs and wealth for others, they would. Even better, if they could make all that money without having to work at ALL, they would do that as well. Even the "entrepreneurs" in the projects have to eventually recruit peons (preferably expendable) to sell the drugs for them, make the money for them, and take the bullets for them. But, just as the big players you're defending, they're not doing any of that as a favor to anyone else.

Once again, you're not painting much of a difference between the two groups. Both want to improve their own situation, and both take steps to do just that at the expense of others. The difference is that one group, if successful, will only manage to slightly allay the squalor that is their lives otherwise, whereas the other group, if successful, will simply line their already-overflowing pockets with more money than they could ever dream to spend. In both cases, the end is money, and the means is the rest of us. Now you need to ask yourself if you'd rather have that money go to somebody who actually needs it, or to somebody who already has enough to live lavishly for several lifetimes.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 19, 2011 | 2:39 p.m.

Awww, it seems that Michael Williams is still bitter over the fact that I had the audacity to present scientific research from world-class institutions corroborating my claims. Kinda puts a damper on the baseless propaganda campaign, doesn't it?

It's quite unfortunate that you (claimed to have) blue-screened once again, because it sure would've been fun to watch you disagree with the results armed with nothing else but your opinion. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the blue screen issue is simply an excuse to get your cheap shot in and not have to bother with all that trivial evidence mumbo-jumbo thingamabob.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking December 19, 2011 | 3:09 p.m.

Jonathan Hopfenblatt wrote:

"I'm talking about investing in the American citizens themselves, through better education, more opportunities, etc."

Well, I was talking more about investments in financial instruments, real estate speculation, insurance, etc, which can make lots of money for investors but don't generate the jobs that factories did. That's where much of the investment goes that doesn't go overseas (either directly or by buying stock in comnpanies with large overseas presence).

Education has generally been a public sector activity, so it's not something individuals invest in (other than private schooling). Unfortunately it's not just a matter of more money. Lack of parental involvement and discipline is probably the single largest reason for the decline of American education, and there are several reasons for that, and you're not going to fix most of those with more money.

"they're still gonna want to invest in top-notch scientists and engineers for their R&D divisions to make sure the iPhone and its successors continue to beat out the competition."

But how many of the 99% are interested or capable of becoming scientists and engineers? The main problem here is getting jobs for "regular people".

"The rich SHOULD worry about this, because they won't be able to make a whole lot of money if all their job applicants are underqualified for the job, or flat-out incompetent."

If employers can get people from Asia that can do the job, well, they'll get them from Asia. We need to make an education mean something again, and this means higher academic standards and more rigor. Drill. Competition. Making sure students know something before they're blithely passed on to the next level.

But none of these things require more money, and the rich can't really do anything about that.

DK

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 19, 2011 | 3:12 p.m.

Jon, now you're posting like a child.

The "free will" debate may be settled in your mind and in the minds of your references, but the controversy rages nonetheless. Minds much greater than yours or mine still argue the point.

Take the last shot if you wish. You won't be held accountable since you can't help it.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 19, 2011 | 3:23 p.m.

@Jon
You don't seem to be able to comprehend that most middle class working people are relatively happy with their lives. According to you, there are the 1 percenters who are born rich and stay rich without any work or effort on their part and then the 99 percenters who are all losers. These 99 percenters should all feel like losers because they are not the one guy at the top that makes the most income. I will not give you a pass for having DNA that tells you to want more than you have and to display those feelings of envy by degrading those that have been more successful. However, I will say that I understand how a person in their 20's that was raised with the, "Everybody gets a blue ribbon" mantra could feel the way you do. You should save these socialist musings of yours for your scrapbook and look back in 30 years. Could be interesting...

I can only speak for myself, but I know I am much more bothered by those folks who would EXPeCT charity from others to support them and thier offspring while their able bodies sit idle watching Jerry Springer than I am by all the goodies that the 1 percenters have...

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 19, 2011 | 3:31 p.m.

J. Hopfenblatt -

"The goal of the rich is to create wealth for themselves first and foremost (and actually, that's about their only goal)."

If you were as astute as purported you would have posted this sentence more properly: Everyone's goal is to create wealth for themselves first and foremost and that's about their only goal. Those more successful in this goal become rich.

Only Marxist , communist, progressive, liberals see the rich as having their wealth then creating More as a goal. Yours also may fit the successful black man describing his childhood saying, all we knew was white people had the wealth! We didn't know where they got it, all we knew was they had it and we didn't.

Your self produced "cream" is pretty easily curdled with a little reason.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 19, 2011 | 4:03 p.m.

"Just as Mark said that the rich stay rich because they make wise investments ('wise' being 'not in the US'), from the perspective of a broke person it's also a wise investment to have a kid. Whereas your already-meager income might still not qualify you for welfare/food stamps because it's a couple of dollars over the limit, having that kid will definitely work in your favor--and sure enough, you might just get those few hundred dollars a month on EBT, WIC, and you might even be able to get in on the Section 8 program. This might sound 'evil-er' to you because it involves toying directly with someone else's life for your own benefit, but the modus operandi at both ends of the spectrum is about the same nonetheless: Increase your wealth at the expense of everyone else."

You just made my point: You can't get much more selfish than choosing to have one or more kids when you can't even support yourself and then expecting everyone else to provide for you and them out of pity -- or guilt.

"The goal of the rich is to create wealth for themselves first and foremost"

That's the goal of the middle class and poor, too.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 19, 2011 | 4:39 p.m.

Mark Foecking:

The majority of this country's needs would probably be better handled in the private sector, were it not for the fact that without some pseudo-uniform system of checks and balances (aka government), people reliably abuse whatever they can abuse--as evidenced by the fact that they still do this WITH checks and balances in place. I don't think that anyone's vision of an ideal society is one with as huge a government as possible shoving its tentacles into everything it can.

The idea behind getting the rich involved in education is not to have them just dump more money into a failed system and hope that things just work out. We already spend an exorbitant amount of money on education with terrible results, after all. The idea is to have them spend this money intelligently, which they can do given that they obviously have the means and clearly are not idiots. Furthermore, they don't have to worry about appeasing the rabble and keeping the lobbyists happy, unlike our incompetent government.

Say, something like this:

http://www.ted.com/talks/salman_khan_let...

Imagine that kids learning this way show marked improvement in test scores and put up a fight in the international circles. Would this not be something worth investing in?

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 19, 2011 | 5:00 p.m.

Michael Williams:

Actually, the raging controversy you're talking about takes place in the philosophy circles, just as you can find theologians all over the world furiously arguing the ins and outs of matters that by definition are irresolvable. I'm sure there's plenty of controversy raging among old- and young-earth crationists too, even though this doesn't make it any less of an exercise in futility. Like I said before, opinions don't mean much if there are facts to be discussed, and the loudness of an opinion says nothing about its validity.

In the case of any scientific proof for or against free will, there will obviously be a lot of pushback even among scientists, since it WOULD represent a huge paradigm shift in our understanding of the world. Ultimately, however, the evidence will speak for itself, whichever direction it takes us. All the same, I never claimed that this is incontrovertible proof of anything, just that the research into neuroscience (which is still in diapers) so far points not in the direction of free will.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 19, 2011 | 5:11 p.m.

Imagine, if you will, that the US population never went crazy with mindless consumerism. Imagine how much less of everything would have been sold over the last 50 years. Imagine what our economy would look like today.

In the black, perhaps? But definitely much smaller than it is now. This is the "solution" many people (including me) are advocating for: more responsibility, less debt, less mindless consumerism. Just be aware that will cause our economy to contract, not grow.

I still find it funny that virtually ever corner of Obama's cabinet is packed with the very people that some here insist are the best, brightest, and most successful - because they have made the most money - but rail and fume over the results that all these supposedly successful people bring to our economy. Reality is, some of those measured-by-money successful people are worth every bit of their weight in turd, and the turd group comes disproportionately from the financial industry.

Y'all just keep cheering the "job creators" that are failing, dismally, to create any jobs, and insist that if they just had an even higher concentration of wealth, they'd finally, at long last, be able to create those jobs. In fact, you should jump up on your feet and cheer while pumping both fists in the air! It's easier for them to pick your pocket from behind that way.

BTW everyone, enjoy your 2% tax increase next year. My budget is prepared for it, is yours?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 19, 2011 | 5:58 p.m.

Derrick: Y'all just keep cheering the "job creators" that are failing, dismally, to create any jobs, and insist that if they just had an even higher concentration of wealth, they'd finally, at long last, be able to create those jobs.
________________________

Ah, different topic. Derrick, that's either hyperbole or a misunderstanding of what many of us are saying. I'll assume the latter. I don't know anyone here cheering the "job creators" or the rich. I also don't think anyone here believes if the rich had a higher concentration of wealth, they would create jobs.

So, based upon observation of posts, I think your statements are an incorrect assessment.

First, the true "job creators" in the US are small business owners. So, why aren't these "job creators" creating jobs? Uncertainty. That means poor sentiment. Speaking for myself, there is NO way I would start a new business right now nor would I expand one; rather, I would park the money (even at zero percent) and wait for less uncertainty and an improvement in my mood. I have no desire to lose my shirt. In fact, I know of no one who does.

And large "job creators" are thinking along the same lines. Or taking the money to where there is better sentiment and less uncertainty.

For me, I have great respect for the wealthy that earned their wealth; I have little respect for those who inherited it but did nothing with it. I have respect for those who get rich lending money so businesses (like mine) can form, grow, and develop. I have no respect for those who got rich trading financial paper based upon financial paper based upon financial paper based upon insurance paper.

I say all this because I want you to know where I'm coming from regarding the "rich". Rich is a "set", not all of whom I support...the rich I support is a "subset" of RICH. I have strong feelings about self-initiative and the right to enrich oneself with honest ideas and work. I also believe that those in this particular category of "rich" have the right to do with that money as they see fit, and those who "envy" be damned; they don't own that money, they didn't earn that money, and I believe they have no claim on that money whatsoever.

So, I support a subset of the larger category of "rich". I make a distinction.

A complaint of mine with the Occupy mob is they don't.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 19, 2011 | 6:16 p.m.

mike mentor:

1. I'm sure there are a lot of unambiguously destitute people happy with their lives too. The gangbanger in the projects probably likes the fact that he commands the respect of those around him and can make them pee their pants with a mere glance. Also note the thousands upon thousands of North Koreans reduced to tears this very second over the death of Kim Jong Il. None of this, however, takes away from the fact that there's a whole world out there that's better than the world these people live in, and that they would WANT to live in such a world if they were only made aware of it--or more realistically, if they hadn't been raised with the blinders they currently wear. That a bunch of people are content with mediocrity is only indicative of their low standards, as we've proven time and again that we often want the wrong things in life.

2. As far as what the future holds for us 30 years from now, chances are that I'll have been proven right and you wrong. All we have to do is compare society today to society in 1981--the internet, cell phones, and a long, long list of many other innovations in virtually every field imaginable say hi.

The reason you're a conservative is not that this is the default view people gravitate toward as they mature and gain perspective on life. You're a conservative because the ever-changing world we live in throws a huge wrench into the well-oiled illusion of stability you've built around yourself to cope with the very fact that change is the rule and not the exception.

It's quite likely that I'll indeed be a conservative 30 years from now, but the reason why is because the definition of conservative will have changed, not because life's lessons will have taught me that gays are evil and creationism really is science. The youngsters then will surely think I'm an old geezer with outdated opinions, but those with the outdated opinions of tomorrow are those with the "progressive" opinions of today. At that point, I will simply have failed to keep up with the rest of society. Once again, things change.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 19, 2011 | 6:23 p.m.

Frank and Jimmy:

So, after having established that we ultimately all want the same thing, the question remains: Should we help those who need help or those who don't?

If one of your family members makes some bad choices and gets himself in trouble, do you throw him under the bus and let him fester in his misery, or do you offer a helping hand and stress the importance of learning from your mistakes?

Those for whom you hold nothing but contempt may not be family members, but they're still people and they still need help. Apparently compassion is a character flaw in the eyes of some.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 19, 2011 | 6:51 p.m.

Michael Williams:

I know that your last response was directed at Derrick Fogle, but I figured it was worth pointing out that small business will become big business given the right conditions, and at that point there's nothing stopping the cycle from continuing without some change to the tax code.

One of my family members owns a business in town and taxes alone are indeed putting a damper on his plans, effectively forcing him to remain understaffed, effectively slowing to a crawl any chance for growth, if not killing it outright. So, I understand where you're coming from and am indirectly familiar with the experience. However, as tough as his current situation might be, I'll admit that I probably wouldn't feel sorry for him if he were making a thousand times as much and getting taxed double (or triple). My opinion on the matter then would take more of a "cry me a river" tone.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 19, 2011 | 8:41 p.m.

J.H. - In my opinion you have attempted to sell the big government "philosophy" initiated and promoted primarily by the ultra-rich whom you profess to doubt and question, if not "hate". Socialism, construed, I believe over 100 years after our country was born has caused the murder and starvation of more people than any other system so far imagined by man. The conflict containing our country has shown us to have been there (save possibly the era of progressive T. Roosevelt) to secure the freedom of people, as well as our own.

Socialism v capitalism has been our difference, with you condemning conservatives for "Those for whom you hold nothing but contempt may not be family members, but they're still people and they still need help. Apparently compassion is a character flaw in the eyes of some." This, because I/we conservatives in no way have indicated the will to throw anyone under the bus, but only have demanded fiscal responsibility from those from your alleged side for borrowing and spending 5T$ in 3 years and not shown a single sign of helping any of those you profess should be receiving our help, yet are doing their level best to obtain more of our money before they are turned out of office.

Your internet education seems to have given you about 60 years (30 past and 30 future, to see whether you are right or wrong) and little else, to prove, tho Americans have fought and died since the very first, to provide freedom of movement and thought, your scientists are near proof that we have no such ability to benefit from those freedoms. This, I believe is why some grow weary with the conversation.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 19, 2011 | 10:14 p.m.

"BTW everyone, enjoy your 2% tax increase next year. My budget is prepared for it, is yours?"

When my taxes increase, I work less. It's the law of diminishing returns. Besides, why pay more into a failing system?

"If one of your family members makes some bad choices and gets himself in trouble, do you throw him under the bus and let him fester in his misery, or do you offer a helping hand and stress the importance of learning from your mistakes?"

I would -- and have -- let them fester in their misery. At the very least, it's an opportunity for them to learn from their mistakes -- and at their expense, not someone else's.

"Those for whom you hold nothing but contempt may not be family members, but they're still people and they still need help. Apparently compassion is a character flaw in the eyes of some."

You're confusing compassion with being a sucker. People who are poor or sick through no fault of their own deserve compassion. The people who drop out of high school or have children when they can't support themselves can darken your door. I'm sure you'll put your money where your mouth is and not pass judgement on them.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush December 20, 2011 | 1:22 a.m.

Real people are
Suffering in poverty -
The rest is blather.

Shame is a burden
For some, so they dispense with
It in a "just world".
http://tinyurl.com/cwkjbax

One can't embarrass
The unconscionable so
Happy Holidays.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 20, 2011 | 1:31 a.m.

Well, I pay my taxes, and if I had the ability to choose where my tax money is spent, first and foremost I'd make sure not a penny goes to our over-inflated military budget, something we spend more money on than the next 23 world "superpowers" combined (quoted because this includes the feared, perennial military powerhouses that are Poland, Singapore, Taiwan, etc.). In terms of military spending as a percentage of GDP, we're #10 in the world, below only such paragons of civilization as Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Chad, Iraq, etc.

Heck, if we halved our military budget (i.e. spent only 3 times as much as China, the next-highest spender), we would probably have more than enough money to fix a lot of our current problems. But, obviously it's more important to help out the poor, downtrodden defense contractors out there, right? Nevermind that we're also the biggest arms exporters in the world, which is pretty weird in itself since a lot of the countries we sell weapons to are precisely the sort of countries that could stand to nudge human rights a little higher up on the agenda.

(and that huge tangent above reminded me of the strange position conservatives find themselves in, screaming to high heaven for a small government all the while working relentlessly to maintain a huge military, on top of working just as relentlessly to pass "morality" laws that overtly intrude upon everyone's privacy while accomplishing nothing else. Because what people do in the bedroom is clearly a national concern, isn't it?)

But back to the topic at hand, yes, if I had that choice, I'd have my money go to social programs that will help get people back on their feet, as well as on healthcare, education, etc. I'd say I already make more than I need, but probably not enough to avert the proverbial rainy day should one come knocking.

And as far as being a sucker goes, offer any of these multiple-children-having, single-parent high-school dropouts a job that pays, say, $50K a year (as well as the necessary training to meet the job requirements), and see if they take the job or prefer instead to remain jobless because living off welfare requires less effort on their part. Everyone has a price.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 20, 2011 | 8:05 a.m.

J. H. - You should have quit this long ago. You have picked the losing side in this world wide debate. You spout the losing rhetoric of that side as tho it is newly found information.

Our Defense spending is extravagant as is all government spending. Our defense budget is more because of the nuclear threat to Our people and the socialisticly centered gov'ts of our friendly nations will not spend to defend themselves. If "they" can "get" them they can get us. Most Americans, imo, would not side with Madeleine Albright, Clinton's Sec State, in her statement on nat'l tv: "I believe there should be more than one super power in the wordl."

You pointed to the tyrants of Saudi Arabia as those trying to pry more of our money away from us. No mention of the U.N. committee, including Americans Geo. Soros and Larry Summers, which is hard at work. They have determined that 100B$ would be the proper sum to "re-distribute" to 3rd world countries from industrialized nations for damage done to the environment. How to best collect it is their final task. If the money is given to those tribal governments with the insistence that it be used for better education and health care for the masses in the receiving countries will you sleep well?

Finally, in all the sage sermon you have never mentioned (that I recall) the 4T$ in debt foisted upon us in the last three years by liberal Democrats or the more than 1T$ in deficit spending they propose each year, "til the end of time" if they are allowed continued control our government. Why not?

I wold ask, "do you deem it necessary to destroy this economy so that one, more perfect, can replace it?", but you might swear never to address me again.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking December 20, 2011 | 8:48 a.m.

Jonathan Hopfenblatt wrote:

"Heck, if we halved our military budget (i.e. spent only 3 times as much as China, the next-highest spender), we would probably have more than enough money to fix a lot of our current problems."

That would be something like $350 billion dollars. Sounds like a lot. However...

" I'd have my money go to social programs that will help get people back on their feet, as well as on healthcare, education,"

We've spend trillions (at all levels) in the last 40 years on programs designed to do exactly that, and really haven't made much of a dent in poverty. Perhaps many in poverty have things in life that they might not have had without the Great Society programs and what followed, but the root problem is still there. This indicates that greatly increasing spending on these programs may not have the intended effect.

Healthcare is a $2 trillion dollar industry. We spend a about a trillion/year on public education at all levels. $350 billion isn't near enough to make much of a difference in any of these areas.

"offer any of these multiple-children-having, single-parent high-school dropouts a job that pays, say, $50K a year (as well as the necessary training to meet the job requirements), and see if they take the job or prefer instead to remain jobless because living off welfare requires less effort on their part."

Usually a high school dropout isn't able, for either motivational or educational reasons, to train for a $50k job. There are training grants available for low income people to allow them to get skills that make them more employable, however, if you make $50k jobs available to people that otherwise don't qualify for them, that's a powerful incentive to have a bunch of children and drop out of school.

A lot of the problem with employing people that have been locked into the cycle of poverty is that often. not much has been required of them. They get frustrated and angry with the requirements of even fairly low-level jobs, and typically don't put forth the effort to get ahead. What do we do about that? Again, we've thrown trillions at these problems for decades without a lot to show for it.

DK

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 20, 2011 | 8:51 a.m.

"Heck, if we halved our military budget (i.e. spent only 3 times as much as China, the next-highest spender), we would probably have more than enough money to fix a lot of our current problems. But, obviously it's more important to help out the poor, downtrodden defense contractors out there, right?"

I have no problem with requiring allies such as North Korea and Israel to start paying for their defense. But as I posted a few months ago (www.columbiamissourian.com/stories/2011/... ), I don't want to hear any whining from:

1) MU when the DoD and defense contractors slash research funding.

2) STL when Boeing lays off thousands.

3) Columbians when gas prices skyrocket after some Middle East despot seizes a big portion of the world's oil supply.

"And as far as being a sucker goes, offer any of these multiple-children-having, single-parent high-school dropouts a job that pays, say, $50K a year (as well as the necessary training to meet the job requirements), and see if they take the job or prefer instead to remain jobless because living off welfare requires less effort on their part."

The offer is there and has been for generations. Plenty of other people have accepted that offer because they were willing to delay gratification (e.g., that orgasm that produced a child they couldn't support, or buying designer clothes instead of saving for college) and work hard for years (e.g., a low-wage job throughout college) in order to acquire the skills necessary to warrant a $50K salary. Those folks were willing to focus on the goal and do what it took to get there.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 20, 2011 | 11:00 a.m.

@Jon
I am more Libertarian than Republican so your assumptions of me being part of a small minority of conservatives known as the religious right are way off. You write as though I was not around for these past 30 years to see what actually happened. I have adapted to these changes and find your assumptions of my life as mired in mediocrity as further proof that you don't have a clue about what is really important in life and what successful is to me.

I have also watched over these past 30 years that welfare has not given people a helping hand to produce a better future for their children, but has instead created a huge poverty trap that has done nothing but increased the amount of people that can not or will not take care of themselves and their offspring. The change over the next 30 years of your life is that you will likely become aware of a concept that putting more and more resources in to people that have made bad choices is actually the worst thing you can do. Its called being an enabler. It is actually the worst thing you could do because you exacerbate the problem. The good news is you have time to figure this out and open and accepting people who really do want happiness for all of us like myself will see you as idealistic instead of dense. If you still feel the same way in 30 years, look me up at the old folks home and I'll call you dense ;-)

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 20, 2011 | 10:49 p.m.

Money! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-j3xITvY...

Pink Floyd's "Money" was released on the album "Dark Side of the Moon" in 1973.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 20, 2011 | 11:46 p.m.

@Jimmy: "3) Columbians when gas prices skyrocket after some Middle East despot seizes a big portion of the world's oil supply."

...at least he admits that we use $600 Billion a year of government money (i.e. your taxes) primarily to subsidize fossil fuel energy costs for everyone. Rich man pays a lot of taxes to keep poor man's gas cheap, eh? BTW, this kind of government spending definitely does "crowd out" private investment and spending in alternative energy.

Not to mention the blunt assessment that massive government spending is critical to avoid economic contraction. The interesting thing is, macro doesn't really care much *why* or *where* money gets spent. It still functions largely the same, although lefty research claims military spending actually creates the fewest jobs of all government spending.
http://www.comw.org/pda/fulltext/Pollin-...

Macro doesn't care that much why or where spending gets cut, either. Welfare or defense, it's still economically contractionary either way.

Spend to expand/maintain, or cut and contract. That's the fundamental decision.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt December 21, 2011 | 2:34 a.m.

frank christian: "You should have quit this long ago. You have picked the losing side in this world wide debate. You spout the losing rhetoric of that side as tho it is newly found information."

Uh, no. You're almost by definition on the losing side, because 1. you've already proven that you're completely out of touch with reality, and 2. once again, other far more "socialist" countries fare better than we do, contrary to your sensationalist claims (as usual, backed by no evidence). You do know that the US is pretty much the only country in the "developed" world that doesn't offer universal healthcare, right? The quality of our healthcare might be better from a technology standpoint, but this doesn't mean much when almost no one can afford it. We might as well say that Uganda had awesome healthcare back in the 70's because Idi Amin could afford world-class doctors.

All these other supposed cesspools of communism around the world offer universal healthcare, and lo and behold, their citizens all enjoy better health, ignoring every other measure of quality of life they eclipse us in, such as crime, poverty, education, sexual health, etc. So, you tell me, what DO these countries have that we don't--or even better, how, in your view, are we doing better than them despite all evidence to the contrary?

"Finally, in all the sage sermon you have never mentioned (that I recall) the 4T$ in debt foisted upon us in the last three years by liberal Democrats or the more than 1T$ in deficit spending they propose each year, "til the end of time" if they are allowed continued control our government. Why not?"

You do realize that solving any of our problems will invariably require a lot of money, right? But, like I've been saying all along, the solution is not more spending, but rather intelligent spending. You seem to be under the false impression that "liberals" think our current government is fine and we only need to tax the rich more, even though any sane person will acknowledge that change must come from all sides. Free riders are definitely a drain on the system, but now the onus is on you to prove that the poor consist mostly of free riders and not just unlucky people--i.e. are these people perpetually gaming the system because they can, or are they doing so because they have no other option? (while you're at it, you might also want to explain how the insanely rich AREN'T gaming the system, and also prove that their current wealth is only the result of hard, honest work)

Who do you think is better equipped to spend this money--the rich people who have already proven they have the ability to spend money well, or the incompetent government that has to cater to the whims of a mostly ignorant electorate? The fact that abortion, gay marriage, evolution in schools, etc. are hot-button issues is on its own embarrassing as hell, and it's even worse when our own politicians genuinely think that the future of America rides on this nonsense.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 21, 2011 | 5:06 a.m.

"...the nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program." - Ronald Reagan

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 21, 2011 | 8:31 a.m.

Jonathan Hopfenblatt - I slept well last night, you must have had a bad dream. Can't think of any other reason you would drag out the worn out argument about Universal Health Care. Our latest law, foisted upon us with bribes and exemptions in the dead of night behind closed doors will either be declared unconstitutional by Supreme Court or repealed by newly elected honest majorities in Congress & White House. When you can't sleep, turn on Fox News and find out whats going on in our world. Every country in EU is in financial "dire straits" due to spending by gov't. Every one is privatizing their health system to some degree and IMF (I believe) demanded that Greece "privatize it's corrupt universal health care system", before any loans could be arranged. I have made it known that repetition turns me off and that is all I read coming out of your latest nightmare.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 21, 2011 | 9:13 a.m.

The post above J H represents the reality of another nightmare. I have observed that progressives seem to relate to necessary "war" as another social program that must be "paid for" (as though any of their social programs are limited in that manner) and the link presented does just that, "The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities". An oddity here is "money spent for five alternatives: tax cuts which produce increased levels of personal consumption; health care; education; mass transit; and construction targeted at home weatherization and infrastructure repair. We have included tax cuts/personal con-sumption in this list since it is *the most straightforward alternative spending use—that the money freed up from a reduction in military spending goes back directly to taxpayers for them to use as they see fit.* We have been told repeatedly, around here, that there is NO benefit from tax cuts, only expense to our well intentioned Gov't. Obama's "at home weatherization and infrastructure repair." (believe he allocated 5B$ for this stimulus) was recently mentioned in current events reporting because so much of the work done and paid for by the program is having to be re-done by home owners. "It seemed the installers were more concerned with the number of houses they could finish."

(Report Comment)

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